Which I-hypothesis is true?
Should we take the description literally? Or should we take it as a truth of psychology? Of course, I fully realize that if this physical/meta-physical hypothesis of the I-plenum turned out to be true, it would force a radical reappraisal of the nature of matter and would, in effect, provide a starting point for thinking about an altogether new view of the physical universe. That is a very tall order. A reasonable person may reject the wisdom of even thinking about such a thing.
Even if this picture is too much for you, and you consider it to be just a model — at best partially correct — still, the I in one form or another, does remain as a necessary part of the world-picture.
The humane view of the ground as a psychological and structural phenomenon is undoubtedly more easy to accept. In this view we keep a view of the I as something in our experience, as a psychological ground, which exists in every human being: and we recognize that we cannot make a living building unless each one of its centers is connected to the structure of this self or psychological ground. Then the blazing one, the blazing furnace, which is seeable, reachable, reached by the artist trying to find union with the I, or reached by the observer who, through the existence of a living work, sees and makes contact with the I, makes sense as psychology. Even in that case, the blazing one remains as experienced reality.
Exactly! I do not see how this hypothesis is in any way inferior to the plenum model of the Ground. Applying Occam’s Razor, I’d even say this is the hypothesis we need to investigate further.
The plenum model of the Ground — the idea that the I is actually real in the universe, not only in the mind — is harder to accept. But in the rare moments when I dare to consider it, it helps me, because it enlarges my understanding. It also nourishes my mind and stimulates my inspiration. In this view we see the same ground — but we now think of it as a great thing in the universe, far beyond ourselves, haunting, otherworldly, ultimate in its beauty and light. It is reached only when a great work breaks through to it.
Whether the humane, psychological and positivistic view, or the more dream-like plenum view is more accurate, I do not know. But the overall picture I am trying to present in either case remains. One way or the other, the ground of I is real. Either the ground is a psychological description of the way we experience living structure. Or it is a factually supportable, previously unknown aspect of matter. There can be no doubt, I think, that at least one of these two versions is true. The I, in some form, exists.
Although you and I probably cannot help being skeptical about the more difficult meta-physical view, because it is so far beyond what we currently allow ourselves to think, there is one cogent reason for believing it that I have not mentioned. It is very, very hard to make a beautiful building. Even the methods and processes I have described in Books 2 and 3, with all their structure, are still very hard. As a practical matter, the metaphysical view of the Ground put forward in this chapter makes this hard task more attainable. As we shall see in chapter 12, the artist or builder is then making the building as a gift for “God” — an instrument through which one seeks union with God, reality beyond reality. The buildings themselves, and all the centers of the buildings, are made as windows through which one can reach contact with that blazing One, through which I touch eternity.
When I do my work in this conscious spirit, then all that living structure which is so hard to reach does become slightly more attainable, slightly easier. It then seems to be within reach, and as a practical matter, it can then sometimes be reached.