Mani, the founder of Manichaeanism, born in Persia in 216 CE, wanted to transcend a self-imposed mind-made dualism. He wished to free mind (light, spirit, soul, consciousness) from body (matter) because he believed that mind and body were two separate substances.
As I see it, this is classic dualistic folly. Your consciousness isn’t trapped in the matter of your body. Your consciousness (spirit, soul, mind) is an inner dimension of the material body that you are; that is, it is the subjectivity of the object. As such, there is no soul hostage to liberate. Mani, as I see it, got stuck in chasing the tail of his own conceptual abstraction. He was trying to let a stone out of a stone. It can’t be done. We are living, conscious, breathing matter. And we are liquid, feeling, sensing, suffering collections of minerals (a Vernadskian view that I share). No surprise here: Being made of the rock called Earth, we are nothing more and nothing less than this rock.
But Mani’s experiment wasn’t in vain. He reconceptualized spiritual enlightenment and illumination in a most literal way: by encouraging us to eat more light and aspire to be light producing and light emitting. He challenged humanity to find a way to eat the way plants eat and to share the luminescence—a noble, compassionate, and humane goal and, arguably, the first transhuman goal on record.
Rest in peace, Persian dreamer, perhaps, somewhere in the belly-trunk of a baobab tree or in the opening of a lotus blossom.
Adapted from Reinventing the Meal (Somov, 2012)
Last reviewed: 25 Oct 2013