Alzheimer’s

There have been recent reports of an "alarming" increase in the incidence of Alzheimer’s deterioration. A number of ideas have been adumbrated to account for the occurrence of this difficulty, most of these attributions connected with physical causes.

I would like to add a spiritual dimension to the mix. I start from the position that we are endowed with the possibility of establishing four types of memory during the course of a lifetime. These are:

  1. Factual memory = the retention of the multitude of facts thrown at us from early childhood on to teach us what’s here in the world.
  2. Logical memory = that memory instilled in us in later childhood to help us make sense of all those facts.
  3. Moral memory = the recall of those elements pertaining to our relationship to divinity, to the Creator from which we have come. Usually this memory comes to the fore later in life.
  4. Vertical memory = that memory required to make sense out of those elements and also what this divinity, and all it implies, is about.

As we grow older the factual-logical memory naturally begins to erode. If and when this happens should there not be a moral–vertical memory available to replace the factual–logical, a void in consciousness occurs, as it were, so that nothing more exists for that person, certainly in terms of human relationships. The feeling of love dissipates for that person, and life’s meaning seems to disappear from his⁄her existence. Thus, that individual appears to be unrelated to the world around him/her.

A corollary to the foregoing is that we are always faced with a choice in life between committing ourselves to an essentially materialistic or spiritual life. This choice urges itself upon us more intensely as we get into our 40’s. If we opt for the materialist life, thereby excluding the spiritual, then the moral and vertical memories are not developed. Hence, when the earlier memories begin to erode nothing is available to fill the void.

An intermediary possibility presents itself here. For creative types like Woody Allen, Irving Berlin, and Bob Hope who live the materialist existence, as they get older the creative impulses serve to fill in as the memory erodes, so they can retain an ongoing relationship to life.

I expect the logicians reading this to find the exceptions to my assertions, which in no way disproves the veracity of the spiritual perspective. Any articulated verbal presentation, of whatever sort, is always subject, by logic, to having its major premises reversed⁄destroyed, as Kurt Gödel maintained over 80 years ago when he won the Nobel Prize for this discovery. However, displays of logic can never invalidate the premises and foundational principals, or the experiential truths, of spiritual life.

For those who want to give plausibility to the spiritual materialist viewpoint, where materialism is wedded in an unholy alliance with spirituality a la Madonna and many other public personalities who profess to be "spiritual" while seeking material wealth, no contradiction is either discussed or brooked, I can only echo the wisdom of our ancient masters on this matter when it was stated that "one cannot serve two masters at the same time."