Dewey Larson and The Way of One

Dewey Larson and The Way of One

Stephen Tyman

Presented by Carla Rueckert McCarty of L/L Research

We consider the relationship between Dewey Larson's Beyond Space and Time and Ra's The Law of One. Larson's sectors of being are singled out for emphasis. This division is grounded in an understanding of time/space as a metaphysical domain. A parallel between Larson's sectors and what Ra calls the densities is explored. The suggestion is given that there may be further sectors beyond Larson's three, and that when properly understood, this has consequences for Larson's third sector, especially with regard to the problem of evil, and the issue of the continuity between the sectors.

I have been asked to speak to the question of the relationship between the thought of Dewey Larson and the material presented in the name of Ra under the title of the Law of One. I do so in all humility, for I am well aware of how daunting is the task of bringing together these two unusually compelling sources.

Before anything else is said, I feel it is necessary to remark on the truly exceptional situation that has come about, where fully invested physicists have come to the point where a meaningful dialogue has been opened with fully invested mystics. Only seldom in the history of Western thought has this been the case, and since the growth of positivism in the twentieth century, almost never has such a collaboration been even thinkable. What has brought this about is, of course, a convergence of certain central themes shared by these assembled physicists and mystics. But vastly more remarkable than this is the fact that the thought of Dewey Larson itself has prepared the way to an acceptance of the possibility of the kind of telepathic contact represented by the dialogue with Ra and other allied social memory complexes.

Rather than to attempt a synoptic account of each of two positions subsequently to be compared, I prefer to speak primarily to those issues which arise in the context of Larson's thought, and which have a particular resonance from the point of view of the Ra Material. Though this is not my area of expertise, and will not be my primary focus, it should be noted that a strong basis for this comparison can be found in the original work done by the Reciprocal System in the field of physics, proper.

In this connection I would simply point out the two most salient points. The first is the recognition that the essential "stuff" of the universe is nothing but motion, which, when it acquires a certain inner complexity or critical "mass" grounded in balanced patterns of interlocking motion, is said to result in matter. For its part, matter is said to be displaced into a second frame of reference generally invisible ot the first, or visible, universe. This, then, leads to the second major point, namely that there is such a second dimensional zone, and that it may be explored and characterized as distinct from the so-called space/time continuum that has become familiar since the advent of relativity theory. Larson dubs the second dimensional frame of reference time/space, and does so advisedly, for he means to indicate a certain inverse symmetry that obtains between time/space and space/time. To suggest the active and dynamic nature of this symmetry, Larson chooses the term "reciprocity" to describe the relationship.

Now at no time does Larson propose that the motion and the reciprocity hypotheses can be separated from one another. We may note, however, that Larson was not the first to propose motion as the most basic quantity in the universe; this thesis was put forward by the sixteenth-century Serbian Jesuit, Roger Boscovich and again later by the nineteenth century German, Gustav Fechner. But only when Larson made clear the difference between scalar and translational motion, and brought these into the context of the space/time and time/space reciprocity thesis did the motion thesis acquire the staggering explanatory power that it assumes in the Reciprocal System.

I do not believe that I have anything of significance to add to the understanding of the physical implications of Larson's thought, especially to the august gathering of physicists present here. I would point out, however, one unavoidable asymmetry in the Reciprocal System. This is that, in the field of space/time, much of what follows from the reciprocal postulate is observationally verifiable in a direct way, whereas time/space is observationally inaccessible and therefore its specific features are describable only indirectly, and are featured primarily as they come into play in providing the key to what in space/time is not otherwise explicable. The net result of this experiential asymmetry is that, while the basic structure of time/space seems to have been rather safely surmised with respect to the most basic physical motions, there is much of the inner articulation of this sector of the universe that, from a purely physical point of view, remains entirely inaccessible.

Now had Larson decided to leave this inaccessible region in relative obscurity, certainly no one could have blamed him, for to refuse to go beyond what is demanded by a certain hypothesis is often considered a great virtue in the fields of science. To his credit, however, Larson chose to go further, to attempt to put the whole enterprise of physical explanation of the universe in the context suggested to him by his discovery of the corridor to time/space. Thus, in the newly release work, Beyond Space and Time, Larson has vastly expanded the horizons of his work.

The first step that any physicist could take beyond the established parameters of the discipline is in the direction of the phenomenon of life, which is in overt violation of Newton's second law of thermodynamics, the principle of entropy. I seem to recall Stephen Hawking, for precisely this reason, in A Brief History of Time, declaring life to be something of a backwater eddy in the greater current of cosmic reality. Though this is not an atypical move in physics, from a philosophical point of view, which I confess to occupy, this seems to be a very peculiar position to have come to, especially on the part of one who, after all, is living. Any biologist who would attempt to use this as leverage against the physicists, however, would face a similar situation with regard to the issue of the way life in general at some point in its development gives way to self-consciousness. Nor are the psychologists, who are the principle scientific purveyors of self-awareness, exempt from these dynamics, for at some point they run up against the issue of spirituality, for which nothing in their discipline specifically prepares them.

Now if we gaze back at the basic pattern revealed here, a general trend begins to appear. Within each discipline certain basic elements and ways of functioning are identified, their principles of operation isolated, generalized, and eventually proposed as universal laws. Subsequently, specific events can be "explained" by reference to the laws. Ideally, any particular event could be adequately explained by invoking the right laws; but it is important to recognize that the ideal of science does not permit this process of invoking the right law to be considered an art-form: rather it, too, must be put on a scientific basis. Thus, there must be laws for invoking the right laws, and laws for invoking the right laws for invoking laws, and so forth. This goes on to higher and higher degrees of universality at least asymptomatically approaching the ideal of a science of one single, all-embracing law. Now in point of fact, no science has yet attained to this ideal. Physics, for example (at least the last time I looked), still had its strong and weak nuclear forces, its gravitation and its electro-magnetic force, without an overarching explanation showing how all four are essentially dispositions of one more basic force. Meanwhile, there is an ambiguity in the very term "force" if, in order to define it, we need to resort to four fundamentally different modes of manifestation. Nevertheless, within physics as elsewhere in science, there is a prevailing commitment to what is fundamental, that is, something of a cognitive faith that every phenomenon in particular as well as all phenomena collectively are ultimately susceptible of explanation, and that if and when this is achieved it will be by virtue of a process that relates what is less fundamental to what is more fundamental. This scientific fundamentalism proceeds to its explanations, then, by projecting specific events or event-configurations backward to the more general configurations representative of its type, thereby sacrificing, in the interests of understanding it, the uniqueness of an event to its type-structure. Now we in philosophy, who have answers for nothing but names for everything, sometimes call this cognitive posture reductivism. The basic principle of reductivism, then, is that all "higher" or more complex phenomena can be explained by reference to a few "lower", more elementary or generic laws, of activity. The ideal here, once again, presumes that if we only had an adequate grasp of the applicable laws, every event in the universe could in principle not only be explained, but could have been predicted.

Now this commitment to reductivism, which has been lurking at the heart of science since the Enlightenment, crosses all boundaries of discipline. But this sets up an interestingly unstable situation within the division of the sciences themselves, and has worked to crate an impression concerning the priority of physics throughout the scientific community. Take biology, for example. The principle of reductivism as it comes into play here suggests that "higher" biological operations can be viewed as developments or "functions" of lower ones, the limits of the possibilities of the higher being already prefigured in the constitution of the lower. But by parity of reasoning, even the lowest of the biological functions could be said to be developments or derivations of that which is not yet biological, but only physical in a more generic sense. Understood negatively, this would suggest only that no biological function could violate the laws of physics. But it is when this application is put in a more directly positive sense that biologists begin to squirm. For this implies that, when physics is fully comprehended, all the possibilities of biology will also be grasped, and grasped in a manner that is more fundamental than the biologists are able to reach. It is thus only the current lack of development in physics that renders biology necessary. Now while the biologists are typically more than happy to have this same principle be applied to psychology, to show that ultimately it reduces to biology, they are often not nearly so enthusiastic to make this sacrifice themselves. Instead, they wish to have the freedom to frame their own laws and procedures as they perceive them best to fit their subject matter, and moreover to have this freedom be laid down not as a mark of the lack of development of a more fundamental discipline like physics, but as a matter "grounded" in the nature of the reality which they have chosen to study. The first premise of biology, then, whether this is made explicit or not, is that biology must be free of the constraints of the discipline of physics.

If an ontological grounding for this premise is sought it would thus have to invoke the concept of freedom itself in a rather direct way. The biological realm, though not antagonistic to the physical, is still nevertheless free enough of it to have its own distinctive principles of operation. Now when we move into the psychological arena, the freedom-principle becomes even more important. For here it is no longer simply a question of noticing that biological organisms are able to organize their behavior around principles unique to the biological realm, but of noticing that with the advent of self-consciousness, with which psychology inevitably deals, free and deliberate activity has reached the level of individual determination. Now as a matter of fact, this point is not usually featured in academic psychology, for precisely the reason that completely free activity would seem to leave nothing actually to be studied, for it would be resistant to being brought under the rule of law. And if one views this as Larson does, in the Kantian manner of a law one gives to oneself, one has already entered the sphere of moral life, which exists outside the parameters of conventional science. For Larson, this means metaphysics.


Beyond Space and Time represents an effort to reflect directly upon the metaphysical world, that is, the world which in the context of his physics had come to be called time/space. As Larson proceeds to unpack the notion of the time/space zone, if we may call it this, he increasingly finds it necessary to introduce factors seemingly alien to physics. Thus, while the time/space conception he had elaborated in his physical works continued to function dazzelingly well at the level of the operation of the inanimate world of matter, in order to expand his thinking into the living world, Larson had to become aware of a whole set of further considerations in large part discontinuous with the first. Nor is this discontinuity gratuitous or arbitrary, for it reflects precisely the division between physics and biology that we have just elaborated, with the concomitant problemization of the entropy principle, etc. When Larson decides, in the name of the time/space domain, to move into the biological sphere, he effectively steps from one frame of reference to another which no longer functions in the same way or according to the same set of rules. There is, in short a discontinuity between the physical and the biological sectors, or Sector I and Sector II, as Larson comes to call them. Later, Larson will identify a second discontinuity between the biological and moral domains, Sectors II and III, as they are designated.

Larson himself is quite adamant in distinguishing the dynamics which describe each gestalt. He insists that the principles of operation identifying each sector are discrete and self-contained, and that to move from one framework to another would involve taking a leap. For instance, in the area of physics, the law of entropy is not to be contravened, while it holds no sway in biology; and in biology the law of survival reigns supreme, but is not a factor in the moral calculus of Sector III.

One might well remark, however, that these are descriptive continuities quite accurately generated, but visualized from the standpoint of space/time (or what is manifest) and not from the standpoint of time/space. It remains theoretically not only possible but necessary from the point of view of the horizon opened up by Larson's analysis, to acknowledge that time/space itself constitutes an inner continuity that would permit it to be called a continuum even while its refractions or distortions into space/time inevitably yield irreducibly discontinuous laws of manifestation and behavior.

It is, in fact, precisely the question of how these discontinuities are to be thought that I would like to take up the standpoint of what the Ra Material had to offer. The message that Ra brings is that of an underlying continuity of all things reaching to the very limit of unity itself. We may speak here of an intelligent source, an infinite and all-embracing origin, but we may also speak as Ra emphatically does, of a living spiritual principle of our own consciousness, a kind of creative nisus or inner longing, running through us and throughout the creation in its many-layered ways of existing. To be sure, the Way of One is deeply shrouded in a mystery unfathomable even to intelligence far beyond our own. Nevertheless, a small beginning may be made on this Way by fastening upon that hidden strand within us all, that Ariadne's thread which is in effect an instinct or drive to move beyond our present level of awareness, our present manner of existing.

In this regard, it is perhaps appropriate to begin not with the principle of intelligent unity itself, but with the way that longing is registered in human life. And here we encounter a set of issues that, when cast back in the light of what is manifest, suggests yet another discontinuity, another sector of beingness, a Sector IV, as it were. In his invocation of the possibility of telepathic communication, Larson already anticipated this move, though he did not carry it forth to the full extent of its implication. The difference between Sector III and Sector IV principles of organization will provide us with a means of access into the further teachings of Ra.

Notice, first of all, that in the Sector III world, where the laws of morality obtain, transcendence of the merely biological realm is achieved by means of an individual's resolve to act in accordance with the perceived values of the moral domain. This entails interacting with other individuals after the manner of the golden rule, in effect respecting their rights and obligations as separate individuals. In this context, no one individual may make any presumptions upon the person or property of another, and the distance separating individuals must be respected, since no one may make incursions into the thought processes of others. The rule of law, then, obtains in a fully general sense of this level. In a completely rule-governed society, everything is explicit, nothing is tacit. Now I would ask you to reflect for a moment upon the point that no one actually can live this way, but rather we all to one extent or another move beyond explicitness to tacitness at least in the case of those we know and trust. At the level of the Sector III behavioral analysis, however, to move beyond the rule of explicitness is to fall short of it. The possibility of an informed and fruitful tacitness moving with a suppleness unimaginable by any ratiocinative process remains as much a paradox for Sector III as the surmounting of entropy of the law of survival does for Sectors I and II.

But tacitness itself is but the smallest step towards that greater possibility of interconnectedness represented by genuinely telepathic communication. For here the boundaries of the sense of the isolated self break down, and instead of a free rational agent serving as a unit of being in a larger totality that is only the sum of the units it embraces, every unit is nourished and expanded by the immediate contact it enjoys with that whole which is greater than the sum of the parts. We can thus say in a general sense that Sector IV development entails precisely the breakdown of those barriers of individuality which are essential to Sector III development, and that where moral judgements, rights and duties are the order of the day in Sector III, Sector IV features compassion, forgiveness, and solicitude. If these latter turn out to be already familiar values, this only suggests that perhaps Sector III was not as self-contained as one might have supposed, as indeed perhaps no sector is a closed system, but rather a stage on the way to a higher striving.

We need to conclude by speaking briefly to the question of the subject of this striving, usually called the soul, the issue of its continuity as it develops or evolves through the sectors, and of the prospect of further sectors to come. But first a word about a matter that is dark and difficult for many of us to bear.

The thought of Dewey Larson is pervaded by such optimism and positivity that one feels worse than Ebanaezor Scrooge in even bringing up the problem of evil. But it cannot be helped if one is to give more than just half the picture of the movement from Sector III to Sector IV. The way that Larson characterizes the third sector of being, by means of the moral world order, is typical of those who are well meaning and positive in orientation, and whose fundamental inclination is to be of service to the rest of humanity. The truth is, however, that not all souls share this disposition, nor do they choose to use its principles as a basis for further evolution. Nevertheless, they are still able to evolve. Instead of taking up a moral set of desiderata to use as a basis for a set of disciplines leading to a higher capacity of service to others, these souls choose to conceive themselves to be part of a world order the salient currency of which is power and greed. Serving the self thus becomes the surrogate for the golden rule. There are, to be sure, many lessons and skills to be learned in order to become adept on this path, and when this choice is taken as a foundation, Sector IV experience is broached with a very different coloration than that of compassion and fellow-feeling. One thus does not reach into the soul of another in order to provide nurture and support, but in order to rape and plunder. To those who have taken the positive path, this kind of negativity is generally very disorienting, and, to the extent that this is possible, they often choose to ignore altogether its essential possibility. One does this at one's peril, however, for one thereby risks more than simple naiveté. One fails to grasp the essential task of a soul traversing the treacherous terrain of Sector III, namely, that its most fundamental demand is that of the choice. But only on the basis of this choice which chooses the essential principle of its own further development is any further evolution possible. This is the kernel of what in the Ra Material is called the need for polarity. Much more could be said on this topic, but this is perhaps not the forum for that discussion.

We return now to the question of the broader nature and destiny of the soul and the sense in which it provides the overarching continuity rendering intelligible in a broader framework the regional discontinuities of the sectors. Here again I find myself compelled to resort to a teaching from Ra for which there is partial but incomplete preparation in Larson. To be sure, Larson is inclined to support not only the minimal thesis of the immortality of the soul, but even the more developed theory of reincarnation. He writes (p. 347): "The balance of probabilities, as it appears at the moment, is definitely in favor of a succession of existences, in which the individual metaphysical entities play many different roles..." When we place this theory of reincarnation, which for us is far more than a balance of probabilities, in the perspective of evolution through the sectors, we find that to reflect on how many different roles we play in the course of our development is to court a well-boggled mind. For the real continuity of the creation lies in the fact that its smallest modicum of being is destined to evolve through the entire framework of what Larson calls sectors and what Ra calls densities. This is the continuity of incessant striving, in which the lower is continually being reintegrated to a higher meaning and a higher purpose. In short, the higher conditions the lower rather than vice versa, as post-Enlightenment science would have us believe. As for the higher stages of this progression, we have it from the Ra Material that there is, beyond the fourth, a fifth, and again a sixth, and again a seventh sector or density. Of course, the further removed from the third sector, the more these beggar description from the standpoint of third-sector intelligence. And as for the highest step in the progression, we also have it from Ra that what Larson could not commit to is indeed true, that is, that there is a One Infinite Creator as root and branch of all. But this is perhaps something given more by way of inspiration than information, for in the absence of that faith which reaches through a very very dark night to a very very bright light within, the full meaning of this "claim" on behalf of deity may well fail to construe. For my part, I am willing to accept that, where information grows quite thin, inspiration is quite welcome indeed.

I have been able today to make only a baby-step towards introducing the content of the Ra Material, and I would invite any who have further questions to impose upon Jim and Carla McCarty, who have made a life's work of service in this area. They will be able to attend to you much better than I. Adonai.

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