More Real Than Real

Why do we like fiction, myth, poetry? All of these things are considered “unreal” by our materially oriented culture, yet is is usually the most “unrealistic” films and books that top the sales charts. Something about the unreal seems real to us, and no amount of everyday life can take this feeling away. Storytelling and myth making are about as old as humanity itself, most societies still live by those stories that materialists would consider “myths” even today.

“Myth is what we call other people’s religion.” -Joseph Campbell

Obviously, something about the stories that do not, or could not, occur in our immediate experience is appealing to us. They seem to have an emotional impact that makes up for their lack of “reality” as it were. When I was young, I was more interested in what was going on in fantasy worlds than in my own life. Since we regard fantasy as the “unreal,” this preoccupation with the products of imagination is considered “escapism,” a term which thinly veils a negative judgement. In a society that only admits the existence of the physical world, anything beyond is considered impractical at best and delusional at worst.

In spite of strong cultural prejudices against us, the power of dreams, imagination, and myth still has an enormous impact on us. This extends beyond religion and fantasy, and into the myths of politics, education, and even sports. These myths tell us stories that are not literally true, but emotionally so. Things like inalienable rights and freedom are powerful myths. When I say myths, I don’t mean something that’s “false” (an unfortunate second meaning to the term), but something that’s truer than true. Myths give meaning to what is otherwise a random assortment of physical data.

Most societies have a guiding myth that they consider “true” called the “transcendent narrative.” This could be something like Shi’a Islam for Iran, the Mandate of Heaven for imperial China, and Catholicism for medieval Western Europe. With the displacement of Christianity by Scientific Materialism, the Modern West has lost its guiding myth. It is torn between Christianity, Materialism, and a loose assortment of New Age views.

Existentialism, Postmodernism, and Post-Structuralism represent the death of myth in the Western world. Each of them seeks to deconstruct those myths that our society has entertained, such as religion, progress, and discrete notions of identity. All of them are based in materialism and are born out attempt to be as objective as possible, even while criticizing objectivity. The desire for objectivity leads to the realization that objectivity is impossible because we carry prejudices with us. So the attempt emerges to be “objective” about those prejudices. Hence, Post-Modernism is the maximum degree of objectivity, and denounces objectivity.

We need myth because it represents a connection to other worlds where emotions, images and symbols gain a greater emotional charge. In these realms ideas are just as real as a table. Our rationality cannot dissect these inner worlds because it is based on physical circumstances. When this kind of reason attempts to sort out something as a virgin birth, it considers it ridiculous because things like that aren’t supposed to happen physically. It does not consider the great emotional and symbolic charge a myth like this has. Myths, like dreams, must be accepted on their own terms. They may contain things that seem absurd on a physical level, but aren’t on the symbolic plane where they originate.

It is this symbolic plane where the sense of meaning originates. Attempting to find meaning on the physical plane alone is doomed to failure because the physical is not complete unto itself, but rather draws from mental worlds it is deeply intertwined with. We need myths because we need a connection to these other worlds. To not be connected to them is to cut ourselves off from the better part of our vitality and emotion. Reason, while useful in a physical context, becomes tyrannical when sorting out other worlds. To destroy myth is to destroy ourselves.

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True Spirituality

Here is a collection of Seth quotes that deal with the nature of what he calls “true spirituality.” His concept of this is quite different than most religions, and even contradicts most religions. True spirituality is spontaneous and does not involve doctrines, dogmas, or laws. It comes from an understanding of our nature as physical beings, not a denial of it as most religions preach.

You can learn more from watching the animals than you can from a guru or a minister — or from reading my book.

Dogmas that tell you to rise above your emotions can be misleading – even … dangerous.  Such theories are based on the concept that there is something innately…base or wrong in man’s emotional nature, while the soul is depicted as being calm, ‘perfect,’ passive and unfeeling.  Only the most lofty, blissful awareness is allowed.  Yet the soul is above all a fountain of energy, creativity, and action that shows its characteristics in life precisely through the ever-changing emotions. Trusted, your feelings will lead you to psychological and spiritual states of mystic understanding, calm and peacefulness.

The emotions follow beliefs …. To refuse them is futile.  They are one of the means by which personally attuned consciousness knows itself.  They are not destructive.  One emotion is not good and another evil.  Emotions simply are.  They are the elements of the power of consciousness, filled with energy.  They merge into a powerful sea of being when left alone.  You cannot affirm one emotion and deny another without setting up barriers. (21;417)

It is very important that you understand the true innocence of all feelings, for each of them, if left alone and followed, will lead you back to the reality of love …. Trust no one who leads you away from the reality of yourself. Do not follow those who tell you that you must do penance, in whatever form.

“True spirituality is a thing of joy and of the earth, and has nothing to do with fake adult dignity. It has nothing to do with long words and sorrowful faces.” (NOPR)

“Many churchgoers who consider themselves quite religious do not understand the nature of love or affirmation as much as some bar patrons, who celebrate the nature of their bodies and enjoy the spontaneous transcendence as they let themselves go with the motion of their beings.”

So do not think you are being spiritual when you are being long faced, and do not think you are being spiritual when you berate yourself for your sins. The seasons within your system come and go. The sun falls upon your face whether you think you are a sinner or a saint. The vitality of the universe is creativity and joy and love, and that is spirituality. And that is what I shall tell the readers of my book.”

You can appreciate spirituality unless you appreciate your creature hood. It is not a matter of rising above your nature, but of evolving from the full understanding of it. There is a difference.

You will not attain spirituality and or even a happy life by denying the wisdom and experience of the flesh. You can learn more from watching the animals than you can from a guru or a minister — or from reading my book.

Change flexibly with the gracious dance of all being that is reflected in the universe of the body and mind. This does not include the crucifixion of the ego.

Each of your lives are miniature and yet gigantic episodes, mortal and immortal at once, providing experiences that you form meaningfully, opening up dimensions of reality available to no one else, for no one can view existence from your standpoint.

the third personality of Christ (Paul) will indeed be known as a great psychic, for it is He who will teach humanity to use those inner senses that alone make true spirituality possible.

They become part of All That Is — as they should — without dying as they are

(A student had been speaking of the Buddha religion and nirvana)
“Now each of you is a part of All That Is, highly individual and unique, like no other, and that like no otherness will never be taken from you. You will not melt into some great golden bliss in which your characteristics will disappear. You will not be gobbled by a supergod. On the other hand you will continue to exist; you will continue to be responsible for the way in which you use energy; you will expand in ways now impossible for you to understand. You will learn to command energy of which you now do not know. You will realize that you are more than you realize that you are now, but you will not lose the state of which you are now aware, and regardless of the fact of reincarnation and regardless of probable selves the unique self that you now call yourself has eternal validity even though the memories that you cannot now consciously recall will be yours in their entirety. And physical life in its reincarnational self is not some chaos thrust upon you, some evil from which you must shortly hope to escape. It is a particular reality in which you have chosen to know your existence, in which you have chosen to develop yourself, and it is indeed a system, again, like no other system, a unique and dear and beloved portion of reality in which you have decided to flourish for awhile. And in denying it, again, you deny the reality of experience.
In other terms, you will leave this system for others, but there will be a portion of you yet, no matter how many eons pass, that remembers a spring evening and a smell of autumn air; and those things will always be with you when you want them. You make your own flesh and your own world as now en masse you form the evening. These are creations of yours and of your kind. They are not prisons to be escaped from.” –Seth, Early Class Sessions – Book 3, May 18, 1971, p193

Christianity is to Materialism as Chronos is to Zeus

I’ve started to notice very strong similarities between these two “faiths” over the last couple of years. It really shouldn’t be surprising to me considering that the organized philosophy of Materialism clearly has its origins in the Western Enlightenment, but the two forces work so strongly to distance themselves from one another that their similarities are largely passed over. I guess you can tell they’re related because they deny vehemently that they even know each other. As someone living in the West who stands outside both Christianity and Materialism (but who is, admittedly, strongly influenced by both), it puts me in a good position to observe the behavior of these two philosophies as they develop in the modern world. Materialism of course, is ascendant right now to the extent that most materialists are unaware they have a philosophy at all and consider their views to be the “truth” (the number one defining characteristic of a religion).

Materialism has its roots in “rational” investigation into the physical world during the Enlightenment in Europe. The early scientists such as Newton believed they were peering into the mind of God. Nowadays, Materialists uphold human reason and the scientific method as the best or only path to meaningful knowledge. Scripture and intuition have been cast aside as primitive superstition. This development is not an entirely bad thing, but there is a tendency to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Materialism likes to imagine itself as an ahistorical phenomena discovered rather than developed, a timeless truth discovered by enlightened minds. This of course is essential the the entire project. The creed of Materialism absolutely depends on the “discovery” of “objective” knowledge independent of all human “bias.”

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Any historian worth their salt would know that the Scientific Revolution and “Enlightenment” of 16th and 17th Century Europe were based on much older strands of thought in European history. Christianity has always considered itself the religion of the logos, or “reason” (the root of our word “logic”) despite having a rather uneasy relationship with its secular application at times. The tradition of independent reasoning is very old in Europe, and existed in the middle ages. Medieval figures like William of Occam (Of “Occam’s Razor” fame) St. Thomas Aquinas wrote extensively about Aristotelian logic. Christianity itself being baptized in Greek philosopher. There were also substantial (sometimes ignored, or alternatively, exaggerated) Muslim contributions to this history, especially through Averroes (Ibn Rushd) of Muslim Spain. However, the Muslim world did not develop organized materialism, probably due to the theological rejection of independent reasoning as valid in the 10th century. It is telling that Averroes was greatly studied in Europe, but almost completely forgotten by his co-coreligionists. Suffice to say, the reverence of reason in early modern Europe did not just simply fall out of the sky on to Newtons head.

When I mention this history to materialists, I usually get a reaction along the lines of skepticism that logic ever played a roll in the Christian Religion. They view Christianity as completely illogical, and I have a tough time explaining to them that logic is based on experience and cannot create new knowledge. Christianity was entirely logical and consistent for its time period. Materialists usually consider themselves the standard bearers of reason in the modern world, something they inherited from their Christian predecessors (whether they are aware of it or not). As said above, the earliest scientists were convinced they were peering into the mind of God by using reason discover the “laws” by which the universe operated. The attempt to discover these “laws” is still very much with us today without the God component. Such an outlook is more difficult in the Muslim world (because God can change his mind) or in the East (because nature doesn’t have immutable “laws”). I am not saying that Muslim or Eastern philosophy is inferior. On the contrary, I find both fascinating and enlightening in different ways. This piece is more about why reason-worshiping materialism arose out Christianity specifically.

Materialism is basically Christianity without God or any kind of spiritual realm. They both largely share metaphysics, ethics, and even myths. While it remains to be seen what Materialism and Christianity will look like in the future, for the last few centuries they have been joined at the hip. You could even tell both of their creation stories at the same time by being vague. “A long time ago, a material, intelligible, and lawful universe began in a flash of light. Over time, simple life forms appeared. Over time they become more and more sophisticated until humanity appeared. Humanity is unique among the animals for having consciousness, reason, and civilization. Humanity’s goal is to overcome our limited natures through progress towards an end point we can scarcely imagine.”

Granted, one could take nit-pick that narrative from either a Christian or Materialist perspective, but overall their stories have been largely the same. It’s just that the later denies a mind had any part to play in the beginning. Each of them speak about one world and one physical universe where everything takes place. Christianity flinches at the idea of other worlds with life. Materialism flinches at the idea of extra-material dimensions. Materialism’s initial story of “mindless” evolution followed Aristotle’s and the Church’s great chain of being to a T, until it decapitated it. For many years biology thought that animals were mindless automatons and that only humans had higher reasoning. This is simply a re-expression of the idea that only human beings have souls. Darwin himself thought evolution was teleological, and believed that humanity was its apex. Certainly a downgrade from “made in the image of God,” but the same idea is at play. The notion of some kind of progress is central to Materialism as to Christianity. Both share the idea, along with the other Abraham faiths, that the universe is going somewhere. They imply that humanity as a whole is moving towards something greater. Unlike the cyclical Eastern religions, Materialism is a progressive faith, but progressing towards what?

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Despite the idea that there is not any transcendent principle to reality, progress towards great ideals (just like Christianity’s “heaven on earth”) has been central to Materialism. The philosophy has promised and continues to promise a future of rational enlightenment, economic well being (the only well-being that matters in its outlook), and even notions of transcendence. It even has doomsday prophets. The snag that Materialism runs into is that if only matter exists, all human knowledge and aspiration is merely the delusional opinions of clumps of matter gone mad. This realization is the origin of Post-Modernism, which involves a deconstruction of all ideas and myths including language itself. Post-Modernism, ironically, boils down to the myth that all knowledge is simply opinion because there is no transcendent myth, just matter. All of these ideas are rooted in the idea that there is only one material universe we all share.

These issues are deeply tied in with Materialism political thought. Materialism, in spite of itself, largely retains a Christian outlook on morality. Most of the materialists I know are staunch liberals. They favor raising up the poor and downtrodden (the “meek” you could say) through charity and government action. They are fierce defenders of “reason,” human rights, and egalitarianism (all concepts deeply rooted in Christian theology). There is a lot of talk about being on the “right” side of history (divine providence for secularists). One must wonder where they get such notions of virtue if virtue itself is nothing but hot air. Charity is a waste of precious resources, and equality can only be a fact by virtue of a shared connection to a transcendent principle (i.e. God). We are about the evils of extremism, violence, tyranny, sexism, racism, classism, homophobia and all manner of nasty things by people who think negative feelings are just a chemical reaction devoid of deeper meaning. This is the meaning of the phrase “God is dead.” If our civilization killed the God that gave us our morality, ideals, and encouraged love for the weak and oppressed, why do we still cling to those things as if he exists and will reward us for doing so? What is the value in altruism if your fellow human beings are just other mangy apes competing for limited resources? If we do indeed live in a materialist cosmos, the highest virtue is selfishness. I am convinced that most talk about morality from leftist atheist philosophers is the attempt to preserve a largely Christian morality from the implications of their own philosophy.

In ancient Rome, Christianity arose in the city and pushed the older “pagan” religions to the countryside (paganus means rural). Now the same story is repeating itself. Materialism arises in the cities of the West and pushes Christianity to the countryside. But, just like its forebear, Materialism has taken a great deal from the previous faith: its metaphysics, its morality, and in some cases even its holidays. If you live in the West, stepping outside Materialism is like walking into foreign land. Suddenly self evident truths become dogmas, and there is an overwhelming feeling of being surrounded by unconscious fundamentalists. Its influence is everywhere, even in people that don’t otherwise identify as materialists. Ken Ham tries to prove Genesis by appealing to an “objective world.” I certainly have materialist beliefs. I think everyone who lives in the West does to an extent. It isn’t an entirely bad worldview, and offers a lot of good ideas. The problem is it considers above all other worldviews, and it propagates a unique brand of fundamentalism whose ramifications on human well being we may not be entirely aware of yet.

Supreme Mysticism

Kabir belongs to that small group of supreme mystics amongst whom St. Augustine, Ruysbroeck, and the Sufi poet Jalalu’ddin Rumi are perhaps the chief who have achieved that which we might call the synthetic vision of God. These have resolved the perpetual opposition between the personal and impersonal, the transcendent and immanent, static and dynamic aspects of the Divine Nature; between the Absolute of philosophy and the “sure true Friend” of devotional religion. They have done this, not by taking these apparently incompatible concepts one after the other; but by ascending to a height of spiritual intuition at which they are, as Ruysbroeck said, “melted and merged in the Unity,” and perceived as the completing opposites of a perfect Whole. -Evelyn Underhill

I’m piggybacking this post on to my previous one. I believe this quote from Evelyn Underhill needs more attention. There’s too much sophomoric mysticism out there that says we have to give up one side of God or another in order to reach him. I for one can’t imagine God would give up any aspects of its being whatsoever, so in my vision the only way to find God is, as the Corpus Heremticum might say “bring together in yourself all opposites of quality.”

The Playfulness of Mysticism

Subjective/Objective

Reality/Illusion

Feelings/Rationality

One/Many

Good/Evil

Spiritual/Material

Right/Wrong

Male/Female

Oneness/Individuality

Light/Dark

Literal/Metaphorical

Particle/Wave

Eternal/Ephemeral

Selfishness/Selflessness

Serious/Joke

Here’s a list of opposites that rationalists of either the religious or scientific stripe imply that we have to choose between. The rationalist position if that something is true, anything mutually exclusive with it must be false. Mystics on the other hand are aware that apparently mutually exclusive concepts actually represent deep unities, and they move in and out of one another with the greatest of ease. Paradox is not something that bothers mystics. This mystery is something to be lived, not figured out. Am I a unique individual? Am I the infinite Godhead? Am I smoke an mirrors? Why not all three and them some? Trying to separate “truth” and “falsehood” is necessary at some points, but ultimately it cuts the multidimensional reality apart. Solutions are a finite game, played for the sake of winning. However, the cosmos is an infinite game, played for the sake of playing. Paradox, for mystics, is not a bug, its a feature. The mystery is something to be lived and felt in all its myriad aspects. “Spirit” as Ken Wilber said “is not the ‘good’ half of opposites, but the origin of all opposites.”

I believe that faith is a precursor of all our ideas. Without faith, there never could have evolved hypothesis, theory, science or mathematics. I believe that faith is an extension of the mind. It is the key that negates the impossible. To deny faith is to refute oneself and the spirit that generates all our creative forces. My faith is in the unknown, in all that we do not understand by reason; I believe that what is beyond our comprehension is a simple fact in other dimensions, and that in the realm of the unknown there is an infinite power for good. -Charlie Chaplain

Jakob Boehme, The Seth Material, and Love

The sixteenth century mystic Jakob Boehme is one of the most profound and fascinating figures in the history of Christian Mysticism. One of his more interesting theological points is that the Father of the Christian Trinity is a metaphor for the pure Will, while the Son is a metaphor for Love. The Will produces Love naturally by virtue of its own expansive, evolutionary force. Therefore, the Will and Love exist in all things. I noticed recently that there is a big parallel here between Boehme and Seth. In Jane Robert’s writings, aggression is the key by which love and creativity are activated. Aggression is not understood as violence, but as will and passion. There is no artificial division between Seth’s aggression and love, and they are intimately related, just like in Jakob Boehme. Here’s some quotes on “aggression” from Sth.

Man has highly charged contradictory attitudes about aggression, and his beliefs about it cause many of his mass and private problems.

“In your society and to some extent in others, the natural communication of aggression has broken down. You confuse violence with aggression and do not understand aggression’s creative activity or its purpose as a method of communication to prevent violence.

You deliberately make great effort, in fact, to restrain the communicative elements of aggression while ignoring its many positive values, until its natural power becomes dammed up, finally exploding into violence. Violence is a distortion of aggression.”

“Aggressiveness leads to action, to creativity and to life. It does not lead to destruction, violence or annihilation.”

“You think of flowers in terms of gentleness, beauty and “goodness,”and yet every time a new bud opens there is a great thrust of joyful aggressionthat is hardly passive, and a daring and courage that reaches actively outward.Without aggression our body would be denied its growth, the cells within itcaught in inertia. Aggressiveness is at the base of the magnificent bursting of creativity.”

Natural aggression provides the charge for all creativity. Now reading this, many readers will be taken back, for they believe that love is the impetus, and that love is opposed to aggression. There is no such artificial division.  Natural aggression is the creative loving thrust forward, the way in which love is activated, the fuel through whose agency love propels itself. (With emphasis:) Aggression in the most basic terms has nothing to do with physical violence as you think of it, but with the force through which love is perpetuated and creatively renewed.” (emphasis not mine)

-Seth. H/T GestaltReality

Monads, Planes, and Levels of Understanding

PlaneTalk

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Levels of Understanding

Understanding that the planes exist helps us better understand Leibniz’ monads. To appreciate this claim, let’s back out and consider a broader perspective.  Frank Visser, founder of the Integral World website, gives us a very useful categorization about the views of human nature.  He breaks these down into how many levels are present in the intellectual scheme.

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