Apocalypse: Breakdown and Collapse

Fukushima, climate change, market meltdowns and global economic turmoil….

You do not need to be a nuclear engineer to understand Fukushima. You do not need to be a climate scientist to understand anthropogenic climate change. You do not have to be an economist or financial wizard to understand global economic turmoil.

The issue is quite clear.

All the posts in the former Dark Age Blog or in the present Chrysalis can be summarised neatly in one statement, and that is: The mind that has generated our present crisis cannot master the crisis it has generated. The mode of consciousness that has created the problem cannot be the mode of consciousness that resolves the problem. The “mind”, as such, is proving to be incapable of mastering the circumstances and situations it itself has engendered as a by-product or consequence of its own activities.

In short, what is called “mind” (or more formally as “the mental-rational structure of consciousness”) must now overcome and transcend itself and its limits or perish.

This is what we mean by “losing the human form” or identity, which is just a self-imposed limitation on the possibilities of awareness.

As noted earlier, “apocalypse” does not mean what most people assume it to mean — typically cataclysm, catastrophe, and destruction although these events can attend the apocalyptic. The word means “disclosure” or “uncovering” or “revelation”.  It means a new perception of the world in all its transparency and truth. Even if that transparency or revelation is experienced as a “shattering” realisation or revelation of truth, the breakdown and collapse of the delusion is what leads to the association of apocalypse with catastrophe.   That is the mystery of the well-known and perpetually fascinating dance of Shiva,

Shiva, Lord of the Dance

Shiva, Lord of the Dance

Here is the meaning, in part, of Shiva’s dance.

Shiva dances the destruction of the world. But it is the dance of the apocalypse. The fire of destruction is also the light of illumination, for Shiva holds up his right hand in the gesture “fear not”.  He dances upon the corpse of the dwarf of ignorance who is delusion. In that sense, the dwarf is also what the Buddhists call “Mara”, Lord of Illusions. The dwarf of delusion is the narcissistic condition of the ego-nature. So what is actually burned up and away is the narcissistic condition.



8 responses to “Apocalypse: Breakdown and Collapse”

  1. Scott Preston says :

    I had to cut this post a little shorter than I intended (I was called away suddenly). But I want to add something from Blake that uncannily resembles the meaning and significance of Shiva’s dance, and is from Blake’s “A Vision of the Last Judgement”. I say “uncanny” because I’m quite sure Blake did not know of Shiva. But he is describing apocalypse,

    “Error is created. Truth is eternal. Error, or Creation, will be Burned up, & then, & not till Then, Truth or Eternity will appear. It is Burnt up the Moment Men cease to behold it. I assert for My Self that I do not behold the outward Creation & that to me it is hindrance & not Action; it is as the dirt upon my feet, No part of Me.”

    This passage mirrors, in some ways, another passage from his Marriage of Heaven and Hell

    “The ancient tradition that the world will be consumed in fire at the end of six thousand years is true, as I have heard from Hell.
    For the cherub with his flaming sword is hereby commanded to leave his guard at the tree of life, and when he does, the whole creation will be consumed and appear infinite and holy whereas it now appears finite & corrupt.
    This will come to pass by an improvement of sensual enjoyment.
    But first the notion that man has a body distinct from his soul is to be expunged; this I shall do, by printing in the infernal method, by corrosives, which in Hell are salutary and medicinal, melting apparent surfaces away, and displaying the infinite which was hid.
    If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.
    For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narow chinks of his cavern.”

    Now, something intriguing about this is that the “tree of life” is sometimes considered to be the spinal chord. And the cherub commanded to leave his guard at the tree of life might by the very thing Gurdjieff called “the kundabuffer”, which he identified with some formation at the base of the spine, and which inhibited or constrained energy from ascending up the spinal column.

    In any case, this second passage from Blake also describes the “apocalyptic”.

    As an intriguing anecdote to this, I once read the account of a medical scientist, who had been quite skeptical of “mysticism” and such, who had a real “road to Damascus” conversion when quite unexpectedly he experienced a Blakean like vision one evening while sitting at home when the appearances of the phenomenal world simply faded or fell away to reveal the “infinite which is hid”, as it were. He said it started as a tingling sensation in his groin area — at the base of the spine.

    His testimony and description of the experience is posted online at


  2. alexjay says :

    ” … a Blakean like vision one evening while sitting at home when the appearances of the phenomenal world simply faded or fell away to reveal the “infinite which is hid”, as it were. He said it started as a tingling sensation in his groin area — at the base of the spine.”

    I know the feeling …

    From the Wall ablum (not Dark Side of the Moon as pictured)

    Is there anybody in there?
    Just nod if you can hear me
    Is there anyone home?

    Come on
    I hear you’re feeling down
    I can ease your pain
    Get you on your feet again

    I’ll need some information first
    Just the basic facts
    Can you show me where it hurts?

    There is no pain you are receding
    A distant ship’s smoke on the horizon
    You are only coming through in waves
    Your lips move
    But I can’t hear what you’re saying

    When I was a child I had a fever
    My hands felt just like
    Two balloons
    Now I’ve got that feeling once again
    I can’t explain
    You would not understand
    This is not how I am

    I… Have become comfortably numb

    Just a little pin prick
    There’ll be no more aaaaaaaah!
    But you may feel a little sick

    Can you stand up?
    I do believe it’s working
    That’ll keep you going through the show
    Come on
    It’s time to go

    There is no pain you are receding
    A distant ship’s smoke on the horizon
    You are only coming through in waves
    Your lips move
    But I can’t hear what you’re saying

    When I was a child
    I caught a fleeting glimpse
    Out of the corner of my eye

    I turned to look but it was gone
    I cannot put my finger on it now
    The child is grown
    The dream is gone
    I… Have become comfortably numb

    • Scott Preston says :

      Yes. Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” album (and in a few other songs) is a fair map of the struggle of conscious to express and realise itself in contemporary society.

      As noted earlier in “Consciousness in Perspective” — the child’s consciousness naturally and innocently seeks to endow meaning to experience through value realisation. Over time, this is discouraged in the child and this activity is repressed and inhibited to be replaced or diverted by the values and meanings of the social order or “civilisation”, just as was intended by Fichte in his model for a modern education.

      There are many ways of “turning” or “version” — conversion, diversion, perversion, inversion, reversion, contraversion, traverse, etc. These words describe the twists and turns (maybe the “squirming”) of consciousness in the course of its journeys, often represented by the maze, labyrinth, or the zig-zag path.

      “The Wall” isn’t something that’s really “out there”. It’s “in here”. It is what I’ve been calling “the foreign installation”. I wouldn’t be surprised if William Blake is the inspiration behind Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” at all. Blake often spoke of the obstacles to what he called “Action” (“Energy” or “Desire”) in just such terms. In a sense, “wall” is the negation of “all”.

      Perhaps it is more correct to say that the inherent purpose of consciousness is co-opted more than repressed. Fichte’s strategy for a modern education is a strategy of co-optation, just as “truthiness” is a co-optation of truth.

      The word “education (e-ducare) means “to draw forth” or “to lead out”. The very word testifies against consciousness as being “tabula rasa”, but implies something to be drawn out into space and time. What is often called “education” today is really inducing and especially traducing (I emphasise the latter), in the sense that “trans-duction” (or “lead across”) has something of the same meaning as co-optation.

      Here again there are surprising truths revealed in and through language, in how the various forms of “lead” or “draw” are constellated through the root “ducare” — educate, produce, reduce, traduce, seduce, induce, conduce, and so on and which describe the various directions or possibilities of action or actualisation. (No actualisation without the act, you see. Hence Goethe’s “in the beginning was the act”).

      (Language is often far wiser than we are, which is why some hold that to arrive at the very root of speech, or its place of arising, is the same as enlightenment. It is in this sense that Rosenstock-Huessy stated “God is the power that makes men speak”, but which origin or place of arising remains itself outside the possibility of the spoken or the speakable — Goedel’s Incompleteness Theorem, in effect).

      Co-optation — that’s the key. It is also, as Jacques Ellul pointed out, the entire method of all propaganda, which has as its aim not truth, but “truthiness”. Fichte’s programme for a modern education — the co-optation of the will and consciousness — is the same as propaganda not surprisingly. Ellul actually called contemporary education “pre-propaganda” in that sense.

      This word “co-optation” is simply the secular or contemporary form of what was earlier called “seduction” or “temptation” (note that “temptation” contains the word for “time”), just as “narcissism” is the contemporary term for what was earlier called “idolatry”. In the word “temptation” (as being co-optation) there is something of the meaning of the journey of the Prodigal Son (who is consciousness itself), who leaves his home in eternity for the land of time, and then promptly forgets himself and his roots in eternity. That is the meaning of “temptation” and also “seduction”. The word “se-duce” actually means “to lead aside or apart”, the “se-” prefix being connected to all words for “apartness” or separation like segregate, secret, sense, and so on. Co-optation is thus leading astray or misleading.

      • Scott Preston says :

        Might add that not everything that people call “temptation” or “seduction” is that, It is sometimes the path back to remembrance of origin, and “the system” will attempt to throw obstacles in the way of that. This is the spirit called “anti-Christ”.

        Now, I have a beautiful example of that from the works of Castaneda — from the book Journey to Ixtlan. Very near the end of the work, in the last chapters, don Juan and Genaro are describing to Castaneda the journey of the shaman from the moment he ceases to be an apprentice and becomes a “man of knowledge” (after he has wrestled with the “allies”). They embark then on their journey to “Ixtlan”, which is the symbolic city corresponding, one takes it, to the mystics “City of God” or Blake’s Golgonooza or “New Jerusalem”. Along the way they meet “phantoms” who attempt to divert them, tempt them away, seduce them from their path.

        These “phantoms” are just ordinary people. But to the eye of the seer have now become ghostly apparitions like the daughters of Mara or the armies of Mara that the Buddha faced down.

        In this “journey to Ixtlan” of the shaman are also all the elements of the journey of the Prodigal Son out of the land of forgetfulness into remembrance, or from time back to “home” in eternity.

        • LittleBigMan says :

          Yes, I remember Nagual Genaro. A powerful shaman, indeed. I also remember that Castaneda violated don Juan’s advice and went to see him by himself. On his way, his car broke down, and he saw three or four Mexicans who were offering him their help in return for a ride with him in his car. But Castaneda didn’t feel quite at ease with this bunch. So, as soon as his car started, he put the feet to the pedal and escaped them. It was one of the rare occasions when don Juan became quite upset with him when he found out about Castaneda’s journey. don Juan had warned him that he should not go to see Genaro without him.

          Those books are sitting in a box in the storage room and are calling me to read them again 🙂

          • Scott Preston says :

            The episode you are recalling actually involved don Vicente, not Genaro. Vicente was a member of don Juan’s party, dubbed the “warrior scholar”. Castaneda had searched him out in the market in Mexico City one day, mistaking don Juan’s earlier words that some day he must meet Vicente. Don Juan had not intended that Castaneda actually meet Vicente without him, and the encounter nearly killed Castaneda.

            Vicente gifted Castaneda with three power plants, with instructions of how to plant them. It was after returning from planting them that Castaneda encountered the three entities by his car, so they were evidently linked to the power plants. Castaneda was witless about this, and this is what nearly destroyed him.

            As don Juan noted angrily after Castaneda’s near escape, to the eye of a brujo, Castaneda looks like someone who “sees”, whereas don Juan knew that Castaneda didn’t “see” yet. Vicente, thinking Castaneda could “see”, also believed he could handle the power plants, but he botched it badly. We will never know what connection the three entities had with the power plants and Castaneda.

            The “nagual’s party” consisted of 17 sorcerers (I believe), and these had special functions within the party (we could also call it a “coven” perhaps). Vicente, the warrior scholar, was also the “medicine man” responsible for keeping the members healthy, so his knowledge of medicinal and power plants was deep. The arrangement of the nagual’s party forms a kind of mandala — the nagual as the “glue” or pole, and dreamers, stalkers, scholars each forming a foursome at each of the four directions (4 x 4 + the nagual = 17). There may be an intriguing connection here also with Jung’s four functions — thinking, feeling, sensation, intuition types, as these roles seem to be embodied in the scholars, dreamers, stalkers, etc. that is to say, what don Juan called their “predilections”. And there may be a connection here with Blake’s “four Zoas”.

            The intriguing thing about the nagual’s party in this configuration is that it seems to resemble ibn Arabi’s description of a Sufi cell. In the book “The Sufis of Andalusia” (early Spain), ibn Arabi writes brief profiles of the Sufis of his own time and their special abilities and how these abilities contributed to the particular group they belonged to. He speaks, mysteriously, of “poles” and “supports”, and certainly one of the abilities of some of those “supports” is what we might call “lucid dreaming”, and corresponds to don Juan’s “Dreamers”. The “scholar” as well. Also intriguingly, the number of Sufis in a party seems very close to the number of members of the nagual’s party.

  3. LittleBigMan says :

    Thank you, Scott, for the correction. Also, the make up of the nagual’s party is indeed quite intriguing. “The Sufis of Andalusia” sounds like to be an interesting book to read. The preface to the book, which is available on Amazon, says it’s easier to read than other of his works. That appeals to me 🙂

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