Sublime Vision Self-concept

The Sublime Vision is centered around its self-concept or concept of who we are. We have a deep connection with nature and this is celebrated by maintaining the Ecolibrium (equilibrium with nature). However, at our core we are sublime beings beyond the biological body, as below evidence will show. This is the reason why we have a natural tendency to transcend material nature. If this tendency is not developed in a healthy way through Inner Growth, it manifests in an unhealthy way through Gross Growth that tries to dominate nature in exploitative and destructive ways.

Finding a solution to our escalating eco crisis thus requires solving our ego crisis – our crisis of self-concept. The Earth is not in a crisis. We humans are the diseased patients. At the core of the cure lies a sublime transition from the common Gross Vision that we are nothing more than the biological body to the Sublime Vision that we are sublime beings beyond the biological body.

Gross Vision Self-concept:

“We are the short-lived machine of our biological body.”

Because we vanish at the time of death, we are then no more accountable for our present actions. We are also told that since we live only once we have to use this life to enjoy as much as possible, no matter what the cost is for others. The Gross Vision lies at the root of careless consumerism and irresponsible Earth stewardship.

Sublime Vision Self-concept:

“We are sublime beings beyond the biological body.”

This vision teaches us that there is a continuity of life after the death of the biological body that acts as a temporary vehicle only. We are therefore not only held accountable for our present actions, but furthermore we achieve a strong impetus for Inner Growth – to develop sublime values that can be taken with us on our longer journey, namely good character, empathy, compassion, transcendental knowledge, etc.

Evidence for the Sublime Vision Self-concept

1. Arguments From Biology

The cells of the material body are constantly aging and dying and being replaced by new cells. The maximum living span of most cells is seven years. This means that almost the entire human body is renewed every seven years.


The second photograph of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip was taken 65 years after the first one – on the day of their Diamond Jubilee. During these 65 years, their bodies were almost completely renewed nine times. According to what science knows about bodily cell age, the average age of an adult human body is around 7 years. So if you think that you are the material body, then the next time someone asks you about your age, you may answer: “I’m 7 years old!”

However, it is natural that most adults believe that they are still the same person they were 14 years ago, even if their body was almost entirely renewed twice in this span of time. This means that most people, knowingly or unknowingly, are sublimists; they cherish the Sublime Vision that they exist beyond their biological body. If taken seriously, the Gross Vision is revealed to be a very silly self-concept. Just imagine the following three scenarios:

(1) Sarah is sixty years of age, but every year on her birthday she wants only seven candles on her birthday cake and insists that she is only seven years old. She explains this as follows: “In school we are taught that we are nothing but the material body. According to what science knows about bodily cell age, the average age of any adult human body is around seven years. Therefore I am always seven years old.”

(2) After 20 years of marriage, Max attempts to marry another woman without first divorcing his wife Doris. When questioned about this, he explains: “I never married Doris. According to the Gross Vision, I am nothing but the biological body. The material body which married the body of Doris is long gone, and I am not that body. I am around 7 years old, and I never married anyone – so what is the need for me to divorce?”

(3) Mister Miller deposited one thousand dollars in a bank account. After 20 years he again goes to the bank and wants to withdraw some money. He is shocked to hear what the clerk tells him: “You are no more the owner of those thousand dollars, because the body of Mister Miller who deposited the thousand dollars 20 years ago is almost entirely replaced by now. That Mister Miller practically does not exist anymore.”

In real life, the above three scenarios are not heard of.  Despite their bodies being around 7 years old only, Sarah would still be considered sixty years old; Max would still be the official husband of Doris and Mister Miller would still be the possessor of the thousand dollars. These facts prove that people are officially accepted as the same persons they were 20 years ago. So if we, the person, the actual identity, the true self, remain the same, but our body changes almost entirely, then the logical conclusion is that we are not the biological body. We are sublime beings beyond the biological body.

Syllogistic presentation:

Premise 1: The material body is almost entirely renewed every 7 years.

Premise 2: The person is officially accepted to be still the same even after 20 years.

Conclusion: The person or self is not the material body, but something more sublime.

(Note: The only way that one could defend the Gross Vision in the above argument would be by devising a theory according to which the self ‘hides’ in those few parts that remain intact over the entire human life span, such as the neurons of the cerebral cortex and the DNA molecules. However, such a theory would be ruled out by the arguments following below.)

2. Arguments From Medicine

In 2008, Dr. Allen Hamilton, a Harvard-educated brain surgeon and professor with thirty years of experience in his field, published his first book, The Scalpel and the Soul, which won the Nautilus Book Award. In a video about this book, Dr. Hamilton speaks out about “things that medical science say should not be possible.”

Hamilton explains that similar strange events occur in hospitals around the USA, but doctors are afraid to talk about them, lest they lose credibility. Hamilton recounts an operation he had done on a young woman whose blood vessel ruptured at the base of her brain. They put her on a bypass pump that takes over the functions of the heart and the lungs. Then they slowly cooled her body down and then turned off the pump for 25 minutes, during which the heart and the brain stopped working completely with no blood flowing. Dr. Hamilton assures that during this period, “she is completely dead by every criteria we have”.

In this state, the ruptured blood vessel is repaired. During the period of the operation there happened to be some private conversations between the staff members. One of the nurses announced that she is getting engaged. After the successful operation and reanimation, Dr. Hamilton visited his patient in recovery. Hamilton recalls:

“She starts telling us about this private conversation, but word for word, right down to the jewelry store where they bought the ring! That’s impossible – her brain had absolutely no electrical activity! So the question is; where were these memories made? The idea that a consciousness can exist and make memories independent of the brain is a startling finding.”

There are thousands of people who have had out-of-body experiences. There are even medical reports where patients under full anesthesia were able to witness and correctly disclose incidents that happened in other rooms during the operation. With the limited Gross Vision it is impossible to explain how people under full anesthesia can witness their own operation and events in other rooms. The Sublime Vision can explain such events and is thus much more plausible.

Syllogistic presentation:

Premise 1: A clinically dead body cannot perceive, process and memorize any new external event.

Premise 2: A person is able to perceive, process and memorize external events correctly while that person’s material body is clinically dead.

Conclusion: The person is not dead when the material body is clinically dead; the person is not the material body, but something more sublime.

3. Arguments from Ethics

Humans possess ethics that they protect with morals and laws. Let us focus on four ‘Core Values’: love, individuality, free will and ethics (LIFE). We perceive these values as having real existence. This is the classical perception of the Core Values, which is, as we shall see, based on the Sublime Vision. Modern science teaches materialism and the Gross Vision, according to which love, individuality, free will and ethics are mere epiphenomena, accidental by-products of chemical reactions creating mental impressions that have no independent classical existence. They are like programs of machines.

Sublime Vision > Classical Core Values

Gross Vision > Epiphenomenal, robotic Core Values.

For example, let’s say Jane and Robert want to get married. According to the Sublime Vision, their love is real, their individuality is real, their freedom of choice is real, and their ethics are real. But according to materialism or the Gross Vision, these Core Values are only pipe-dreams of robots. Jane and Robert are mere lumps of matter without any classical individuality and free will. Following the dictates of the chemicals in their brains reacting to external sense impressions, one lump is forced to marry another lump. However, their impressions of free will and love are real in as much as programs of machines are real; they are robots with free will simulation programs. This is how materialists argue that materialistic or epiphenomenal Core Values are not entirely unreal. To be clear, we are in the following speaking about classical Core Values, not epiphenomenal Core Values.

According to materialism, we are simply like waves in an ocean of matter and our experience of existence as factually existing individual beings is illusory as we are all but matter. It would then not be ethically incorrect to plunder and kill others because since we don’t possess free will, everything is already determined and we cannot be held responsible for any action since we are not the doers. According to materialism, there are no classical subjects at all; no ‘I’, no ‘you’, no ‘we’. So if I kill someone, nobody kills and nobody gets killed – it would only be like one wave swallowing another wave by chance.

Of course you could say that it is unethical to terminate a machine as sophisticated as a human machine and thus end its free will simulation program. Even if we subscribe to this view, it is very obvious that it is a radical value downgrade from the classical view of the Sublime Vision. Killing a sophisticated machine is more justifiable than killing a classical dog that has classical individuality and free will. Thus if we take materialism seriously – and I hope we never will – it becomes easier to kill a human than to kill a (classical) dog.

We all possess classical ethics and cannot abandon them; we know intuitively that we are individuals; we possess free will and we are responsible for our actions. In practical life, even the staunchest materialist cannot live by the principle that the universe is mere matter evolving by chance. If we were mere lumps of matter there would be no basis for classical human ethics. In order to be able to uphold and further develop classical human ethics, we must embrace its mother paradigm – the Sublime Vision.

Syllogistic presentation:

Premise 1: According to the Gross Vision, we are mere lumps of matter without classical individuality, free will and responsibility.
Premise 2: It is the nature of humans to possess classical ethics depending on the existence of classical individuality, free will and responsibility.
Conclusion: the Gross Vision is wrong because it goes against our core nature (we are not ready to abandon our classical ethics for robot ethics). The Sublime Vision, which allows for classical ethics, is right.

4. Arguments from Psychology

(A) In a publication of the Cambridge University Press of the year 2006 entitled “Behavioral and Brain Sciences”, on pages 453–498, we find a thesis named “The Folk Psychology of Souls” authored by Dr. Jesse Bering from the Institute of Cognition and Culture of the Queen’s University Belfast. Its introduction begins with the following words:

“By stating that psychological states survive death, one is committing to a radical form of mind-body dualism [in other words, that what survives, the self, is not the material body]. Yet this radicalism is especially common. In the United States alone, 95% of the population reportedly believes in life after death (Greeley & Hout 1999; Lester et al. 2002). The majority of people from other societies, as well, see death as a transitional event that unbuckles the ethereal self from its body.”

A few paragraphs later, Bering quotes the findings of a survey in which children were asked about the biological and psychological functioning of a dead mouse (emphasis added):

“Kindergartners understood that various biological imperatives no longer applied to the dead mouse. (…) Yet when asked whether the dead mouse was hungry or thirsty, or whether it was thinking or had knowledge, most kindergartners said yes. In other words, young children were cognizant of the fact that the body stops working at death but they viewed the mind as still active. (…) In general, however, kindergartners were more apt to make psychological attributions to the dead mouse than were older children, who were not different from adults in this regard. This is precisely the opposite pattern that one would expect to find if the origins of such beliefs could be traced exclusively to cultural indoctrination. In fact, religious or eschatological-type answers (for example, heaven, God, spirits, etc.) among the youngest children were extraordinarily rare. Thus, a general belief in the continuity of mental states in dead agents seems not something that children acquire as a product of their social–religious upbringing, because increasing exposure to cultural norms would increase rather than attenuate afterlife beliefs in young minds. Instead, a natural disposition toward afterlife beliefs is more likely the default cognitive stance and interacts with various learning channels.”

Bering thus explains that the concept of a life after the death of the material body is actually the natural human default concept that may be changed by external indoctrination. He further exposes that this natural concept is present even in adult materialists by quoting a survey (Haidt et al. 2004), in which those who classified themselves as extinctivists (people who believe in the Gross Vision that the self is the material body and thus dies at death) refused to sign a contract relinquishing their souls at death to an experimenter.

Nobody wants to die. It seems reasonable to assume that we don’t want to die and that we believe in life after death because we are not mortal by nature. We are not the mortal material body, but something more sublime.

(B) People, despite their body aging, always feel young. This indicates that the self is not aging, and thus the self is not the aging body. The following lines are taken from a poem written by an old man shortly before he died in a hospital:

Crabby Old Man

What do you see nurses? …What do you see?
What are you thinking…when you’re looking at me?
A crabby old man…………………..not very wise,
Uncertain of habit ……with faraway eyes?

Who dribbles his food…….and makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice …..’I do wish you’d try!’
Who seems not to notice ….the things that you do.
And forever is losing ………….. a sock or shoe?

Who, resisting or not………..lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding ………the long day to fill?
Is that what you’re thinking?…….Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse……you’re not looking at me.

(…) Inside this old carcass ….. a young guy still dwells,
And now and again ……………my battered heart swells.
(…) So open your eyes, people ……….open and see,
Not a crabby old man…..look closer………see…ME!!

(C) Another argument for the Sublime Vision from psychology comes from what we may call the ‘overpower-phenomenon’. Criminals often tell that they were overpowered by some sinful urge despite trying to fight against it. The same pattern occurs when one is overcome by anger. We are not angry by nature, but we can be overcome by the mind and senses to act angrily. This is the science behind the humor in the cartoon in which a man is shouting angrily: “I am not angry!”

In the overpower-phenomenon, we can see two different entities interacting: The self, possessing  good character and unwillingness to sin, and the material body consisting of the mind and the senses, which can overpower an uncontrolled person. The more a person is self-controlled, the more he or she can discern between the alien influences of the mental and gross body and the self. This is why moral injunctions of sense-control are not only instrumental to minimize human conflict – they are essential for progress in the science of the self.

Note

This page is limited to secular arguments to avoid accusation of spiritual bias. This does not mean that spiritual arguments are less important. Interested readers can visit our page Sublime Vision in Spiritual Traditions