Spiritual Structure from Analogy

This is another in a series of posts about spiritual forces.  In this one I’m going to attempt to find out more about spiritual forces and dynamics using physical analogy.  But WARNING: this is a very direct physical use of analogy, from physical forces and associated concepts to spiritual ideas.   So I’m not certain this is the best way to approach the subject (of spiritual forces). But just indulge me ok, consider this a playful composition of ideas.

It is not a final draft. I’ve written it as a train of thought, showing you how my thinking works in something like real time.  Think of it as a delayed live action feed into my mind, with most of my daily cares deleted.   The purpose is not to show you how my brain works, but rather to motivate you to think of further ideas along these lines, or contrary creative ideas.

The Spiritual — A Reminder

For these letters, “spiritual” refers to abstract ideas like love, beauty, truth, justice, mercy, compassion, forgiveness, kindness, and the list goes on.  These are things that have an objective reality, but not a physical reality in their essence.  We can know of these spiritual attributes through our physical senses because all created things manifest something of these abstract eternal spiritual qualities.  A humble rock or speck of dust, for example, manifests the entirely abstract and atemporal quality of “beauty” in the form of it’s crystalline structure. It also manifest a tiny degree of “love” in the cohesion of it’s atomic bonding.

To be perfectly clear, “love” is not an inter-atomic force between charged particles.  The relationship between love and cohesive forces is really the other way around. Gravitational masses and opposite electric charges manifest a particular instantiation of love, which is a purely physical form, that being the attraction between oppositely charged particles, or between gravitational masses.  And of these two physical manifestations of the most basic an elementary aspect of love, it is gravity which is rather beautiful because it is universal and always attractive.   Of course, this can have grave and horrific consequences, such as getting too close to a black hole.

There are perhaps spiritual analogies to the gravitationally completely collapsed objects known as black holes. Can you think of one?

Force and Field — Energy and Potential (the spiritual)

Love can be compared to the universal force of gravity.  What is binded by gravity is mass.  What is bound by love are sentient souls. T he carrier of the force of gravity is the graviton. The stuff which feels the force of gravity is mass (which means gravitational charge).

In the classical picture the graviton acts via geometry, curving spacetime and thus veering two masses towards each other.   Or in the quantum mechanical picture the graviton mediates the force of gravity by an exchange of a quantity called “spin”, which we can describe roughly as an irreducible element of rotational symmetry.   Spin is conserved.   But gravity acts by locally violating conservation of spin.   So the quantum gravity interaction is sort of like: “one mass gives up rotating one way, and the other mass takes up that rotation” and thus globally the symmetry is preserved. This is more of a poetic description of quantum gravity than an exact account, but it suffices for our purposes.

The search for structure in spiritual forces leads me to wonder about what the spiritual analogues are for spin or spacetime curvature, and is there something akin to a conserved quantity?   Or is this taking the metaphor too literally?

Recall Hopper Dunbar’s advice the physical world is a tangible expression and reflection of spiritual truths.   What is seen and understood in the relations between physical entities is mirrored in similar patterns and relations among spiritual realities, and vice versa.   This is presumably not a perfect correspondence, nor is it even entirely logical, but it is my only current guiding principle, so I will take it as far as I can.

At first I thought my understanding is also far too dim to figure out any spiritual correspondence with the physical vectors of forces & fields and the scalars of energy & potential.   But then after a bit of contemplation on a wet humid summer day in Raglan, I thought there might be something worth writing about this. So I had a go.

If there is a correspondence it would be something like having two or more ways of viewing the spiritual force of love.   Two equivalent yet entirely different approaches to describing the force of love. But there is a correspondence with the force & field pairing.

In the spiritual realm the force of love is an intermediary between two souls.   The souls are the spiritually charged particles.

     Spiritual    :    Physical
             love ↔  graviton
             soul ↔ mass
spiritual impulse ↔ force

You could suppose a “spiritual impulse” is a type of wilful volition.   It moves a soul in a certain direction, an inner spiritual direction, not a physical direction. So volition is the spiritual equivalent of a vector force. So I’d prefer to use a correspondence of terms,

Spiritual    :   Physical
       love  ↔ graviton
        soul ↔  mass
    volition ↔  force

A field in physics is the pervasive presence of the force carrying particle (graviton).   So the spiritual correspondence to a field is the pervasiveness of love.   So we might suppose love is everywhere.

What about energy and potential?  Here I thought of the concept of the “power of love” which certainly gets mentioned a lot in literature.  Power is a measure of the use of energy over a given time.  The more energy used over a shorter time the greater the power.   The power of love is thus a measure of the strength of one’s love for something or someone, and whatever influence the force of love has (attracting souls) then greater power of love is a quicker attraction of hearts and souls over a shorter time.

Here’s a problem.  You see, I could not quite abstract away the concept of time, which is a very physical notion.  It seems to infect our sense of spirituality because we (as physical beings) cannot easily project ideas outside the world of time.  Time is a funky thing.  But you can have concepts of time without necessarily thinking of pure physics. Anything that changes implies some kind of time.  Time is a way of measuring rate of change.  Time is what you need to observe any change.  So if the state of a soul can change, then this implies a notion of spiritual time.  But I do not currently have the intellectual resources to talk deeply about a separate sense of spiritual time to physical time, so for now I’ll just merge the two.

Taking power of love as the measure of the rate of attraction (in spiritual space, not physical space) of two souls, we obtain a clearer grasp of the energy of love.  The energy of love is the capacity for love that a soul possesses, which may or may not be employed as an attractive force.  But when there is a greater energy of love from one soul compared to another, then a third soul will naturally feel more strongly connected or attracted (spiritually) to the stronger source of love’s energy.

What is the “energy of love” then? I’d like to abstract away the physics terminology as much as possible.  And what is the potential corresponding to this energy?

Recall, the potential (physics) is the pervasiveness of the energy all over space.  So in the spiritual realm this must correspond to the latent capacity for expressing the energies of love which exist all around our heart and mind.  It pervades every possible thought we have, every idea, every sensation and qualia that our consciousness can convey to our soul. It’s a beautiful correspondence is it not? E very thought is permeated by a capacity for love.  Negative thoughts merely have an absence of full capacity of spirit.

So what is the energy, if love is the force? I’m not sure if I can make any distinction.  If love is a spiritual vector-like force, giving a wilful inner-direction of spiritual motive for a soul, then love’s energy gradient must yield the equivalent spiritual dynamics.  And it is an equivalent way of thinking about love.  The force way of thinking is about motive direction.  The energy way of thinking must yield the same spiritual dynamics but via a gradient of energy.  The direction of maximum increase in energy gives the same motive as the vector of the force of love.

I know I am mixing the physical and spiritual terminology here, but I must for now, in order to try to find the hidden structure.

At this point I can only think of asking the reader for suggestions. What is the spiritual idea corresponding to an energy of love?  We cannot just be lazy and call it energy.  Energy is a raw physics concept.  I am after a proper spiritual concept which plays the role of energy.

My bet current opinion is that the spiritual reality most closely corresponding to an energy, for love, is the human (or other sentient being) sense of excitement in their thoughts and feelings for others.  This is a spiritual energy.  The more inner-excitement one soul generates compared to others, the stronger the force of love which they emanate and with which they can draw others to them, in a spiritual sense.  Closer in heart, so to speak, closer in mind.

This excitement I will term “soulful radiance”.  Although radiance is also a physic concept, it is often used in literature to mean the inner state of joy of someone.  So that’s my meaning.  I’ll adopt radiance as meaning one’s inner state of joy and rapture.  Maybe “rapture” is the word I should use, but I like the imagery of radiance, so I’ll stick with it.

Notice how impossible it is to discuss any of this completely void of physical terms.  It just cannot be done.  Maybe we could draw some abstract symbols and coin new names for them. That’d be fun, but would be a diversion for now. I just have to trust readers will be able to figure out what words here represent inner unseen spiritual realities and which are the physical correspondences.

So now the correspondences read,

Physical   :    Spiritual
  graviton ↔ love
      mass ↔ soul
     force ↔ volition
     field ↔ the volition latent in all possible thoughts
    energy ↔  soulful radiance (rapture/joy/bliss)
 potential ↔ the latent radiance (rapture/joy/bliss) pervading all possible thoughts

Remember, a force can be any type of motive impulse, not just gravity.

So for the particular spiritual force of love we get volitional states of a soul of a particular kind.  These are the kinds of wilful volitions that attract and bind hearts.  For example, the thought that you will send someone flowers today because you love them, or write a meaningful poem for them, or simply smile and comfort them.  These are all thoughts you might entertain as a consequence of the force of love acting upon your inner heart (the aspect of your soul which feels the qualia of emotions).

You maybe then actually carry out the physical actions correlated with putting such will and volition into practise, but that’s all physics.   The primary motive came from the spirit.  Do you see that? It’s important I think.  Too many of our actions are not informed by spiritual impulses, and they tend to be the bad ones!

Now I ask you, for convenience is there a single word which translates as “volition latent in all possible actions”? And is there also one for “the latent rapture pervading all possible thoughts”.  It’d be nice to have such words for elegant simplicity. Maybe you’d care to suggest a few?

What is “latent will or volition”?   It’s something like the (abstract) space of all possible thoughts.  We could call this the thoughtscape, the realm of ideas. Or maybe it is a bit more subtle?   Anyway, the truly beautiful idea I am led to is that within every possible thought there is a potential, a spiritual energy, a radiance or rapture. It’s degree must depend upon other factors, but to think of an inner potential radiance in all thoughts, even humble thoughts, is a wonderful thing.

To think we can also inwardly, in our mind, experience the fullness of such inner radiance by thinking good thoughts is another wonderful thing.  And to think that the spiritual equivalent of “power”, which is the rate of progress or change in such inner radiance, is free for us to tap into if we only relax our busy mind and think such thoughts, is, well, it is an empowering thing to think.  And that such thoughts can inform our day to day physical actions, impressing their spiritual potency and potential upon our physical potential, that again is a wonderfully empowering realisation.

Why then spend your time thinking non-radiant thoughts, thoughts of low spiritual radiance?  They are not going to produce sparkling wilful volition, and will not likely be spiritually attractive, since their love (a spiritual force) will be weak.

These are just the initial ideas I get when applying the physical–spiritual metaphors and analogies.

It’s a bit crazy to think of taking these metaphors and correspondences further, but I’ll do it!   Even if it is crazy, I think it is beautiful.

An Answer to the Analogy Question

A spiritual analogy for the gravitationally completely collapsed objects known as black holes?

Well, it might be a love so strong that it engulfs your mind, a love so potent you will sacrifice yourself for your beloved.   A love so strong it might tear you up and leave you completely dead to your self.  Wouldn’t the greatest be that you end up living as one with your beloved?  Yes, but how many people can claim to have reached that state of perfection?

Maybe, sadly, many who try to reach that state will expire from the effort, give up their physical existence and hasten their physical existence along to become more swiftly at one with the dust. I used to pity such people.  But now I pity ourselves for failing to provide a world that can sustain such love.  This is what life is largely all about.   Ever been stumped by the question, “what’s the meaning of life?”   (Not the definition of life, that’s easy, but the meaning, the purpose, do we actually have any purpose?)

Mainly from reading the thoughts of wiser people, I’ve grown to realise there are many good answers.  One is that we exist to love.  And a large portion of our lives are wasted if we are not constantly actively pursuing living in a way that makes the world around us a happier and more peaceful place for all people to live within.  If you or I could just help one person to give the world their full potential and not expire from the effort of wanting to love too much, but to instead become brilliant from the effort, to become magnificent and radiant from the pain and fire and bliss and ecstasy of their love, well then, wouldn’t that make life worth living?


Flames of love. The pain can hurt and seem unfair or burn away unhealthy desire and attachment.

There is a lot more to write on this topic, but that’s enough for today from me.

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