The House of Stone and Light

I listened to this remarkable song this evening. It is called “In the House of Stone and Light” and is by the musician Martin Page. The song is loaded with archetypal symbols and meanings, and I can’t help think that the song was inspired by a “power dream”.

Have a listen for yourself….

Here are the lyrics for the song,

O Mount Kailas uncover me
Come my restoration
Wash my body clean

I’ve been walking
Along a crooked path
Where the walls have fallen
Broken me in half

I’m telling you
I will not rest till I lay down my head
I’m gonna go
In the house of stone and light

I shall not cry
For the blind man I leave behind
When I go
In the house of stone and light, yeah
In the house of stone and light

Holy lady
Show me my soul
Tell me of the place
Where I must surely go

Old man waiting
At the gates for me
Give me the wisdom
Give me the key

I’m telling you
I will not rest till I lay down my head
In the house of stone and light

I make my way
Oh, gonna be such a beautiful day
In the house of stone and light
In the house of stone and light

Let me in beneath my skin
In the house of stone and light

It’s been too long
My spirit’s been at war
Havasupai Shaman
Let me be reborn

And I will embrace
The sun upon my face
Come the day
I awake the child inside
In the house of stone and light

And when I go
I will op’, op’, open my eyes
In the house of stone and light
I will see you
In the house of stone and light

Looking in beneath my skin
In the house of stone and light

Going inside
In the house of stone and light
(Stone and light)
Looking for the child
In the house of stone and light
(See myself got such a good shelter)
In the house of stone and light

In the house of stone and light
(I’m gonna let this child come washing of water)
In the house of stone and light
(He’s speakin’ softly to me)
(I must go there, to find my soul, yeah)

In the house of stone and light
(I can see so clearly now)
(I will go there, to find my soul, yeah)
In the house of stone and light
(Well keep on knocking on my door)
(I must go there, to find my soul, yeah)

In the house of stone and light
(I will go there, to find my soul, yeah)
In the house of stone and light
(I must go there, to find my soul, yeah)

I tried to do a little research on the background to the song (that is, as much as I could find — which wasn’t much), and could only come up with the fact that Page had spent some time in the Grand Canyon, and the reference in the song to the “Havasupai Shaman” refers to the Havasupai tribe and their ancestral lands in the Grand Canyon. Presumably, then, Page visited their idyllic territory and the waterfalls, which have become something of a tourist attraction,
Havasu Falls

Havasu Falls

Other images of the terrain are just as majestic — stone, water, light — that suggest something Edenic. It suggests the inner idea and the feeling of Sanctuary, and that is also what this area signifies for the Havasupai tribe, who appear to have been very badly abused.

So, in physical terms, the House of Stone and Light has both an outer geographical aspect that correlates with an inner psychic or spiritual aspect, and which combine seamlessly in the meaning “Sanctuary” or refuge.  The “house of stone and light” suggests something cathedral-like, but it could just as well be a cabin in the woods. The archetype of Sanctuary has both personal (experiential) and transpersonal (existential) aspects, and the symbol links those aspects.

The house of stone and light, as sanctuary and refuge, suggests the marriage, unity, or integrity of the physical (the stone) and the spiritual (light), and thus also become a reference to body and soul.  It is peace, for without it, “It’s been too long /My spirit’s been at war”, as the lyrics confess.  The house of stone and light is peace of mind, unity of being, and the desire of the soul to merge completely, and become one with, the “fact” of this part of the Grand Canyon, which is also a house of stone and light. That is to say, the desire of the soul to overcome the dichotomisation of being into the subjective and the objective through the healing mediation of the symbol — Sanctuary. So, the house of stone and light is both the Grand Canyon and yet also something that exists “beneath the skin”.

None of this is necessarily conscious on Page’s part.

The first line of the song references Mount Kailas (Mount Kailash in Tibet) which is a sacred mountain associated with the mythical land of Shambala. Again, mountains are frequently archetypal images of the sacred (Mohammad received his inspiration in a cave on the mountain near Mecca called Jabal an-Nour; Jesus delivered his “sermon on the mount”; Nietzsche’s Zarathustra ascends a mountain for ten years sojourn after his incinerating ‘stare into the abyss’, ie his disillusionment). Mountains are frequently sacred places. The “axis mundi” (or still centre of the world) is often depicted as a mountain (as, for example, Mount Fuji in Japan). Mount Kailas is also considered an “axis mundi”, and is the site of the Hindu “Holy Family” of Shiva, Parvati, and their son Skanda. It’s a nearly exact parallel to the Christian manger story of the birth of Jesus.

Mount Kailas, Tibet

Mount Kailas, Tibet

The interesting thing about this particular sacred mountain, Mount Kailas, is that it is described as the headland for four main river systems: “Mount Kailash; is a peak in the Kailas Range, which are part of the Transhimalaya in Tibet. It lies near the source of some of the longest rivers in Asia: the Indus River, the Sutlej River, the Brahmaputra River, and the Karnali River”.  Four rivers are associated with Mount Kailas, as four rivers are associated with Eden. Genesis 2:10–14 lists four rivers in association with the garden of Eden: Pishon, Gihon, the Hiddekel, and the Euphrates.

Mount Kailas is a mandala, as Eden is a mandala. As the Grand Canyon for Page is a “house of stone and light”, we are also here dealing with sacred geographies. But their especial status as sacred places or geographies comes from their correlation to archetypal themes. For the mythological consciousness, there is no distinction between the symbolic and the real, the sacred and profane. Everything is a revelation. But these, in particular, are sites of sanctuary. Or, one can equally say that, as mandala figures, they are sites of radiance, symbolised as centre and headland of the four rivers.

These four rivers have become the four arms of Rosenstock-Huessy’s “cross of reality”, driving forwards, backwards, inwards, outwards as the expansion and contraction of times past and future, and spaces inner and outer.

Rosenstock-Huessy's "cross of reality"

Rosenstock-Huessy’s “cross of reality”

Which is equally Blake’s “fourfold vision”

William Blake -- the Fourfold Vision

William Blake — the Fourfold Vision

As well as the Buddhist mandala,

Buddhist "Vantra" -- Mandala of the Integral

Buddhist “Vantra” — Mandala of the Integral

Mr. Page’s opening reference to Mount Kailas has surprising connections, which are timelessly archetypal. How does a mountain, however, “wash my body clean” unless it is a reference to the four rivers for which the mountain serves as source and origin? This gives us a clue to its meaning. Mount Kailas is the “fourfold self”, the still centre of the turning world. And in biological terms, these “rivers” are: the respiratory system (air), the circulatory system (water), the nervous system (fire), and the metabolic system (earth). It is also an archetype of the body structure and form.

The “crooked path” referenced in the lyrics is also archetypal, of course. It is the “zig-zag path” ascending up the mountain as we’ve discussed before.

Zig Zag path

Zig Zag path

The “crooked path” straightens out as one approaches the mountain top and the goal. In essence, the crooked path that becomes a straight line and a goal is the meaning of Blake’s proverb, “if the fool would persist in his folly, he would become wise”.

I have read in a couple of comments to the song, that the “Holy Lady” is the Virgin Mary.  If you have watched the video, and have seen the “Holy Lady” in action, it’s not likely that it’s a reference to the “Mother of God” at all. The Holy Lady isn’t necessarily Christian. It is Sophia, who is Wisdom, or Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom). In Jung’s terms, she would be called “the anima”. That is pretty clear from the “dance of the veils” that the Holy Lady performs in the video. The dance of the veils is progressive revelation of “naked” truth. In this case, the Holy Lady is she who reveals to Page the truth of his soul. A very thin line separates the Holy Lady from the proverbial Harlot. This is the test of Page’s soul, whether he perceives the “eternal female” (as Goethe called it) as Holy or as a Harlot. If he sees her as a sexual object or as temptation (in her material aspect), he fails the test. Her “Holy” or sacred aspect is only evident when he perceives her spiritual or sacred aspect. Only then, does she point him the way to the Old Man.

A correlate to the Holy Lady is Dante’s Beatrice. She is also very similar to the legend of the White Buffalo Calf Woman of the Plains Indian tribes.

The Holy Lady guides the soul to the Old Man (the archetype of the sage) who holds the key to wisdom.  The Old Man is the keeper of the gate. The Holy Lady only points him the way. Why is the gate locked? The Old Man is the guardian of the “ancient force”, which is why he is old and venerable. In the video, we apparently see him supporting the pedestal or pillar upon which the Holy Lady performs her dance of the seven veils. He is, in that sense, the root, the support. The figure of the Old Man corresponds to Goethe’s “two souls” from Faust,

“Two souls, alas, reside within my breast,
And each from the other would be parted.
The one in sturdy lust for love with clutching organs
clinging to the world,
The other strongly rises from the gloom
To lofty fields of ancient heritage”

The key the Old Man holds is to these “lofty fields of ancient heritage”.

The third persona we encounter in the song is the Mage. He is the “Harasupia Shaman”. The significance of the shaman is that he is a shape-shifter. He represents metamorphosis. Page pleads with the shaman to let him be reborn, that is, transformed.

Which brings us to the fourth persona, which is the child, or “the child inside”. The contrasting roles of the “Old Man” and the “child” should be evident.  It’s enantiodromia. The deeper the Old Man takes him into his “ancient heritage” the younger he becomes, that is to say, the more innocent. This recalls, of course, Jesus admonition that “unless ye become as little children” you cannot enter the kingdom of God. It also recalls Nietzsche’s “Three Metamorphoses of the Spirit” (or mutations of consciousness) from his Zarathustra, “I name you three metamorphoses of the spirit: how the spirit shall become a camel, and the camel a lion, and the lion at last a child”

We thus have four personae represented in the song: the Holy Lady (Sophia), the Old Man (Sage), the Shaman (Mage), and the Child.

This is the fourfold self represented in its four aspects.

It would have taken quite a bit of ingenuity on Page’s part to put all that together self-consciously.


43 responses to “The House of Stone and Light”

  1. abdulmonem says :

    Awareness is our key to open the locked gate to reenter the world of nearness, that is the world of revelation, the journey of the prodigal son is a continual human journey, beautifully retraced by Page and beautifully expounded by Scott. Leaving the domain of heedlessness is the only solution to narcissistic self to reenter the uncatchable flow of the divine, that is to be aware of the small soul and the grand soul and to rejoin the small to the grand in order to appreciate the unity of existence, the manifestation of the one into the diversity.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Yes, yes, abdulmonem! I didn’t quite draw that out entirely, so thank you for pointing that out. Page is traveling the ancient, archetypal path of the Prodigal in that song, until he arrives at the house of stone and light.

      I mentioned the resemblance of the “Holy Lady” in the song to the White Buffalo Calf Woman of the Lakota people (an explanation of whose identity and purpose is somewhat revealed in the link I provided in the essay).

      What the explanation of the White Buffalo Calf Woman omits is the legend of her coming. She appeared first to two hunters or warriors. But one warrior only saw her as a sexually desirable being (her “Harlot” aspect) and he was immediately consumed by fire and burned up. The other warrior saw her sacred aspect, and he she taught the rites and ways. That links her to the archetype of “Hagia Sophia” (Holy Wisdom), who is called “naked truth”. So, the “Holy Lady” is less Wisdom than Truth (that is, as Truth, she points the way to Wisdom, which is the Old Sage).

      This legend (as well as the song) points up something of great importance about the archetype or “idea”. It is multidimensional or polar being. She is simultaneously sacred and profane both, not either or.

      This polarity of the “Eternal Feminine” (and indeed, of all archetypes) is the polarity of active energy. But how she is perceived … (this is the issue of human “response” and responsibility) is determined only by the condition or state of the perceiver’s consciousness or awareness. One warrior failed the test of fitness for ancient knowledge and was destroyed by it (he is the materialistic consciousness, and was burned up by lust). The other passed the test and was inducted into the ancient knowledge (the rites and ways). This legend thus parallels exactly the situation of the soul that Goethe describes in Faust — in the quote I cited above. The “two warriors” are, in effect, the polar aspect of the human, as spiritual and physical — as Prometheus and Epimetheus in the Greek myth.

      • abdulmonem says :

        Thank you for thanking me and may our both thanks reach the one who instilled the thanks in us.I like the way you go about things on the road of clarifying their meanings, as we grow biologically in the womb ( the cave) of the female ,we grow spiritually in the cave (the womb) of the earth. This is the only way to climb the ladder.

        • Scott Preston says :

          …as we grow biologically in the womb ( the cave) of the female ,we grow spiritually in the cave (the womb) of the earth

          That’s another archetypal theme that occurs in the video. I didn’t comment on it, but there’s a “cave” scene in which the young children appear.

  2. abdulmonem says :

    The four elements of existence and their orchestration by the divine to sound all known and unknown tones and tunes to create and let the created appreciates his creation. Self-realization is self-appreciation if only we be more attentive and more intentive.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Something else I might have commented on further on the significance of the Shaman or “Havasupai Shaman” as metamorphic principle, or archetype of the metamorphic (shape-shifter)

      The Shaman represents the possibility of what we call “conversion”, and conversion is only possible with the human because the human is a polar being also. No one is “good” or “evil”, in dualistic or absolute terms, but is drawn into these conditions or states. If it were true that human beings (or “human nature”) could be said to be “good” or “evil” in absolute terms, “conversion” as such (or transfiguration, transformation, metamorphosis) would be impossible.

      The Shaman is the metamorphic principle representing the possibility (or power) of conversion. And this is possible for the reason Khayyam gives: “only a hair separates the false from the true”.

      The Shaman thus points out a fundamental truth about existence. It is not a dualism, but a polarity. It is not an “either/or” state of affairs (which is contradiction), but a “both/and” state of affairs (which is paradox), as is true if reality is, in fact, energy fundamentally.

      Which it is.

      Unfortunately, what we today call “common sense” still deals with reality as an “either/or” matter — as a dualism. This is the essential delusion or spell that the human consciousness has fallen under. The “knowledge of good and evil” that destroyed the state of primal unity (the Eden myth) was the fall of consciousness into dualism of the “either/or” type. And this is why people often have such a problem with the wisdom literature and teachings.

      Because of that, eternity and time (or Heaven and Hell, or good and evil) are not opposites, but states of perception. As William Blake put it, “eternity is in love with the productions of time” or “Heaven in the Wild Flower and Eternity in the Hour”. “Hell” is the echo or inverted reflection of “Heaven”, the physical is a mirror image of the spiritual — the veil or camouflage of the real.

      It some ways, our human problem is absurdly simple, absurdly ridiculous. Only a “hair” (the “veil”) separates delusion from truth, or from our disintegrate, divided state from the integral state, ie, from “either/or” consciousness (dualism) and “both/and” consciousness (the integral or holistic). From a deluded condition of contradiction to the clear perception of the paradoxical is just the tiniest step. Or, as I expressed it earlier, from the “forked tongue” to the tongue as “two-edged sword”.

      Only a gnat separates folly from wisdom. But, somehow, we have managed to turn that gnat into a hundred-foot drooling monster.

      • abdulmonem says :

        Thank again and this is the errand of the alchemist to turn the lead of the self into its gold, that is the whole idea behind the philosophical stone. The faculty of change is inbuilt in the human construction, for those who sincerely try it. The ladder pops up again.

  3. Scott Preston says :

    Time as “a shadow cast by eternity”. I came across this in a review of Sabrina Dalla Valle’s 7 Days and Nights in the Desert

  4. Scott Preston says :

    I hope readers will take some time to reflect on this post and Martin Page’s song, as it is going to serve as a kind of overture to future posts. The song is a mandala, the recognition of which I have tried to tease out of the symbols in the lyrics — the fourfold structure of Holy Lady, Sage, Mage, and Child.

    You can say that the “House of Stone and Light” is the realised fourfold self. And you would be correct. You can say that the House of Stone and Light is the cosmos itself. And you would be correct in that, too. You can say that the House of Stone and Light is Sanctuary or Sanctum. You would be correct in saying that, as well. You might even think the House of Stone and Light is a visionary utopia. That would not be inappropriate either.

    The House of Stone and Light is a mandala. Any significant idea is a mandala. An idea also has a fourfold structure, and each aspect of the idea strives for its full realisation or expression in space and time. An Idea is like the Pinocchio puppet. It wants to be a real boy. It needs human beings to be realised. That is the significance of the ego function. The ego function is a prism.

    The balancing of an idea is the theme I want to follow on, for this “balancing” of an idea is the essence of what we call “justice” — as the notion of “scales of justice”. And without the proper understanding of the multidimensionality of an idea, justice cannot be realised in society.

    The personae of Mr. Page’s song — the Holy Lady, the Sage, the Mage, the Child — are the correlates to what are called “The Guardians of the Four Directions” in Buddhism (or oriental myth and legend) more generally. They have surprising connections with the structure of space and time, or “East, West, North, and South”. These are not just geographical cardinal points, but active entities, energies or “spirits” in many traditions, and they have profound significance and meaning. You may also see that they correspond quite nicely to Carl Jung’s “four psychic functions” — feeling, thinking, willing, sensation — which are aspects of the mandala of the integral human.

    And there is a profound reason for that too. Any idea is a multidimensional entity. It has as much reality, in psychic terms, as what is generally called “reality”. In fact, it has more reality than what is generally called “reality” or the phenomenal world. An idea is an energetic being, and it desires to be known. It has these four aspects as — rational, sensible, passionate, and intentional. These constitute its multidimensionality or its manifest fourfoldness.

    In effect, what we call “Man” is itself an idea in the process of full self-actualisation, which process we call “history” or “destiny” and so on.

    So, I wanted to lay the basis for the discussion of this fourfoldness (and the reasons why it is a necessary fourfoldness) by reference first to Mr. Page’s song.

    We’re going to be practicing actual alchemy.

    • abdulmonem says :

      It is true is just like the Well of Rumi

      The Well

      We seem to be sitting still,
      but we are actually moving,
      and the fantasies of phenomena
      are sliding through us,
      like ideas through curtains.

      They go to the well of deep love
      inside each of us.

      They fill their jars there
      and they leave.

      There is a source they come from,
      and a fountain inside here.

      Be generous and grateful.
      Confess when you’re not.

      We cannot know
      what the divine intelligence has in mind.

      Who am I,
      standing in the midst of this

  5. abdulmonem says :

    We are in a rushing time of disclosure, that is why I was happy to read you say, we are going to be practicing actual alchemy, that is to leave meandering between the tower of Babel ( the blind ear) and the tower of Egypt ( the deaf eye), perhaps build our own tower of integrative wholeness and start quoting our self in the way of realization. As you said, an idea is an energetic being that have the desire to be known or as the Sufis say, god was a hidden treasure and wanted to be known and thus created humanity and made and is making himself known to them throughout time.The recent expansion in consciousness is a move in that line. The human is like god is an idea that wants to be known. In actuality knowing the self and god making himself known are moving in parallel direction. Changing the body state through breathing, fasting, concentration, meditation and devotion is the way of changing the spiritual state, the road of the alchemist. I am happy to join the practice.

  6. abdulmonem says :

    I forgot to mention that is the process of containment in order to overflow.

  7. LittleBigMan says :

    Reading your essays is like an exciting – and never disappointing – treasure hunt. It’s just utterly wonderful.

    Chief YellowHawk’s Prayer was incredibly meaningful:

    ” O Great Spirit, Whose voice I hear in
    the winds, and whose breath gives
    life to all the world, hear me, I come
    before you, one of your children.

    “I am small and weak. I need
    your strength and wisdom.

    “Let me walk in beauty and make my
    eyes ever behold the red and purple

    “Make my hands respect the things
    you have made, my ears sharp to
    hear your voice.

    “Make me wise so that I may know
    the things you have taught my
    people, the lesson you have hidden
    in every leaf and rock.

    “I seek strength not to be superior to
    my brothers, but to be able to fight
    my greatest enemy, myself.

    “Make me ever ready to come to you
    with clean hands and straight eyes,
    so when life fades as a fading sunset,
    my spirit may come to you without
    shame.” – Chief YellowHawk’s Prayer

    Oh, yes, that saying “unless ye become as little children” you cannot enter the kingdom of God.” is quite mysterious and intriguing to me. For me, childhood represented a time when I didn’t have any adjectives in my vocabulary and the memory of any emotion lasted only until my next sleep. Then there came the first adjective: “delicious,” and then began my great journey off course and construction of my self-righteous values. I’ve dug myself out of that hole for the most part, but I feel like an ambush is never outside of the realm of the possibilities.

    “Darkness is your light” – What a wonderful thing to keep in mind in this world at all times.

    “Any idea is a multidimensional entity. It has as much reality, in psychic terms, as what is generally called “reality”. In fact, it has more reality than what is generally called “reality” or the phenomenal world. An idea is an energetic being, and it desires to be known. It has these four aspects as — rational, sensible, passionate, and intentional. These constitute its multidimensionality or its manifest fourfoldness.”

    Very profoundly meaningful. An idea is a reminder that we are far bigger than our physical existence within “Machine City”. It brings message from our energetic whole. Only if more people became more aware of their energetic whole, we would be living in a different era altogether, putting this age of money laundering behind us.

    • Scott Preston says :

      I don’t know if you know the book Black Elk Speaks, but you will find Yellowhawk’s prayer even more meaningful in relation to Black Elk Speaks, as well as the greater meaning of the Sacred Hoop. Blake and Black Elk would, I imagine, have no problem understanding one another.

      Which reminds me… I’ve never seen the movie “Dead Man”, but I’ve read a little about it. It’s an encounter between a man named “William Blake” and “Nobody”, who is an American Indian. There’s a brief description on Wikipedia about the movie,

      It seems to want to speak to the parallels between Black Elk’s visions and those of William Blake, or the Sacred Hoop and Blake’s fourfold vision. Someday, I’ll watch that movie.

      • Scott Preston says :

        By the way… one of my aboriginal friends once said “the Sacred Hoop is in language”. In other words, what we call “grammar” is the structure of the Sacred Hoop. Grammar is a generative mandala. And it is significant, too, that Gebser looked to changes in grammatical forms also for indications of a mutation in the structure of consciousness.

        The fuller implications of grammar as generative mandala and as “Sacred Hoop” and as Rosenstock’s “cross of reality” and of its connections with Gebser’s “structures of consciousness” will be explored later, and how the grammatical “persons” correspond to Blake’s Zoas, and are quite possibly the “grandfathers” of Black Elk’s vision, too.

  8. abdulmonem says :

    Lucid and sincere prayer is white magic that transports us to the realm of the beautiful, I felt the spiritual spell in your transported words. Thank you LBM for quoting the prayer of the chief golden hawk ,he is a real hawk!

  9. tony says :

    “I seek strength not to be superior to
    my brothers, but to be able to fight
    my greatest enemy, myself.

    Worth repeating again and again

    • Scott Preston says :

      Very similar to the Bodhisattva Vow,
      Just as all the previous Sugatas, the Buddhas
      Generated the mind of enlightenment
      And accomplished all the stages
      Of the Bodhisattva training,
      So will I too, for the sake of all beings,
      Generate the mind of enlightenment
      And accomplish all the stages
      Of the Bodhisattva training

      That’s one version, anyway. But the emphasis on self-overcoming for the sake of all sentient beings expresses the same mood. For what good is truth, wisdom, power, enlightenment if not for service? They are really a great burden and a curse otherwise. Men like Buddha or Jesus had to take up service, or they would have gone mad from the superabundance of their truth, wisdom, and power.

      • tony says :

        ”Men like Buddha or Jesus had to take up service, or they would have gone mad from the superabundance of their truth, wisdom, and power”

        Thats very interesting. Do you mind expanding on that?

        • Scott Preston says :

          Yes, of course.

          You probably know the saying “too much of a good thing”, and here also the principle of enantiodromia applies as well. A superabundance of a good can be a cause of disease as much as a deficiency. A superabundance must be discharged, or it turns into disease. The best cure for too much of a good thing is to give it away.

          Many of Blake’s proverbs of hell apply to this as well: “Excess of joy weeps; excess of sorrow laughs”. That’s the principle of enantiodromia. Love needs a beloved or it becomes hate. Power needs resistances and challenges, or it turns upon itself and becomes self-devouring.

          A lot of this you find also in Nietzsche’s Zarathustra.

          • tony says :

            Thanks Scott. Im with you in that the principle of enantiodromia applies to power as it does in all other forces in existence, but dont see how it works with truth and wisdom, since the overcoming of enantiodromia i.e. neutralising any form of excess, is surely in the very nature of attaining truth and wisdom.

            • Scott Preston says :

              Wisdom, truth, power, creativity — all related issues, actually. But if they remained only the private possessions of a private consciousness, that consciousness would go mad. Imagine, for example, that you are the only sexual being in an asexual universe, and you might get the idea.

              There’s the old saying, correspondingly, that “the one eyed man in the kingdom of the blind is king”, which I’ve mocked before as the statement of a blind man. He is, on the contrary, the Loneliest Man. And I would even venture to suggest that the reason human beings do not want to wake up is fear of the loneliness it would bring. There’s even a passage (very moving passage) at the end of Castaneda’s Journey to Ixtlan where he “sees” don Juan, and he sees the loneliness of the shaman’s life as a gigantic wave.

              I think you are familiar with don Juan’s “four enemies of the man of knowledge” — fear, clarity, power, and old age. Well, they also happen to be his or her four virtues, too. I’m not surprised they are four, because they are the cardinal points of the Sacred Hoop, as is somewhat formed by Yellowhawk’s prayer that LBM posted above.

              The issue of “mad wisdom” is a pretty common theme in the wisdom tradition. I touched upon one example earlier — the legend of P’u-hua. Worth reading and reflecting upon,


              Characters of the Nietzsche-Zarathustra type always live on the edge of madness. That’s the flip-side of “letting go”.

            • Scott Preston says :

              While we are on this topic…. You might recall from past posts the distinction that I made between the an “ordinary man” and the human of the “extraordinary” type (Nietzsche’s “exceptional”).

              The man of the “ordinary” type lives his or her life between pleasure and pain — the utilitarian ethic, where the essence of “rationality” means to pursuing pleasure as the good and avoiding pain as the evil.

              The human of the “exceptional” type lives, on the other hand (as don Juan put it) between terror and wonder, not pleasure and pain, and the terror and wonder are inseparable companions — necessary polarities — not dualisms. Blake’s poetry and art is full of this coincidence of terror and wonder, as is Nietzsche’s philosophy of the Dionysian.

              There you are hovering on the edge of madness, and keeping your balance (like Nietzsche’s tight-rope dancer) is a matter of “living deliberately” (in don Juan’s terms), and that means not as an amoeba or automaton that merely seeks pleasure and avoids pain (basic behaviourist stimulus-response stuff) which is considered “normal” behaviour and the essence of “rationality”. It is considered irrational to live one’s life within the horizons of terror and wonder, rather than pleasure and pain.

              But that is also reflected in Nietzsche’s remark in Ecce Homo that his “unique” ability to “switch perspectives” was the result of the fact that he had one foot in the grave and the other in life, which is just another way of saying — one foot in terror and the other in wonder, and that this coincidence of terror and wonder was really the root of his philosophical creativity.

              But, of course, Nietzsche went mad, and whether it was owing to syphilis (as some say) or to his own psycho-dynamics (as say others) we may never know conclusively. But little doubt there is that Nietzsche played and toyed with “divine madness” as a child plays with matches.

            • Scott Preston says :

              (Perhaps I should have written up a regular post about this….)

              Just to add something further to this…There is a short poem in German by Nietzsche that occurs in Beyond Good and Evil about an ice-dancer. I’ve translated it as “Black ice is very nice / For those who know how to dance precise”.

              There is something quite profound about that, and even prophetic about the course of his life. Of course, it recalls the tight-rope dancer in Zarathustra, but it is also a statement about those who push the frontiers of consciousness as tempting powers that could crush one. Zarathustra is this “dancer”, of course. He is even described by Nietzsche as “going like a dancer”, and Nietzsche even notes that Zarathustra’s wisdom is close to madness.

              In Nietzsche, actually, there is no difference between Dionysian madness and Dionysian wisdom.

  10. tony says :

    Thanks for explaining.

    Perhaps Nietzsche did not distinguish between madness and wisdom because he lacked faith.
    Jung, who came up with the term enantiodromia, was equally driven to push the frontiers of conciousness, but he did not slide into insanity.In the interview below, Jung is asked if he believes in God, and he replies –
    I know, I don’t need to believe, I know.

    The way he responds to the question, from my interpretation, is the epitome of wisdom. It doesn’t matter what Jung means by God. What matters is his conviction, there is no lingering doubt, be it conscious or subconscious. There is no room for madness in this wisdom.
    Both men travelled beyond. One ended his life with a mental breakdown and the other in his own personally crafted house of stone, the Bollingen tower. What distinguished the two men was faith.

    • Scott Preston says :

      One important difference between Jung and Nietzsche was that Jung had a community and a contemporary audience, whereas Nietzsche had none, except an imagined future audience.

      Moreover, Jung also hovered on the brink of madness at times, as he confessed in his autobiography Memories, Dreams, Reflections, in the chapter called “Confrontations with the Unconscious”. “….I lived as if under constant inner pressure. At times this became so strong that I suspected there was some psychic disturbance in myself.” How he overcame these “psychic disturbances” is probably the core great adventure (jihad, if you will) of his life and work. In fact, it is what he called “The Work”, and building his tower was part of that “work”.

      (I often wonder whether Kahler’s book The Tower and the Abyss isn’t suggested by Jung’s tower, or otherwise has some relation to it as symbol).

      That “inner pressure” is the pressure of the idea wanting to be born. Jung discovered in the mandala the means of its realisation, just as Rosenstock did in his phasic “cross of reality” the means of its articulation (realisation and articulation being the same process). There’s the significance of Seth’s warning about the potential decoherence of the ego consciousness in our time (Gebser’s “dis-integration” having the same meaning). The ego consciousness is a kind of mid-wife, and its function of providing “pattern” is the function performed by grammar in its broadest sense. It is therefore quite reasonable when it is said by some that to arrive at the root of grammar is the same as “enlightenment” — that “root” being the same as that which Gebser calls “ever-present origin”.

      As for Seth’s warning about the consequences of the dysfunctionality of ego consciousness (which narcissism is also),

      That the ego consciousness is “meant to expand” is the psycho-dynamics of Rosenstock’s “cross of reality”, and this “expansion” is in contrast to the contraction that is Blake’s warning also about man having “closed himself up until he sees all things only through the narrow chinks of his cavern”.

      It’s also of interest to note that Rosenstock saw his “cross of reality” and grammatical method as a prophylactic against madness, too — that is, the breakdown of the ego consciousness, which is the same as what Kahler calls “the breakdown of the human form” or what we might call “the idea of man”.

      Like money (or blood), wisdom, truth, power, creativity don’t have much value unless they circulate. “Circulation” is what Rosenstock’s cross of reality if about. There, it resembles Bauman’s “liquid modernity” and the Heraclitean flux, except Rosenstock saw the pattern within the flux. This “pattern” is the same as Gebser’s “structure of consciousness”. And for Rosenstock, social breakdown and collapse is the result of a blockage in this circulation of meaningful speech — nihilism in the four forms of war, revolution, decadence, anarchy.

      These are, in a sense, the shadow forms of the four virtues, just as the three evils of Buddhism (Greed, Malice, Delusion) are the perverse forms (the shadows) that are otherwise the three Gems (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha).

      • Scott Preston says :

        I guess while we are on this topic I might point out something about money and why “the love of money is the root of all evil”.

        Money acquires value only in exchange (circulation). It is in that sense that money is one aspect of “the grammar of society” — number and quantification. The love of money is an evil because it is reductionistic — it represents an unbalanced condition of the grammar of society, leading to the atrophy or neglect of the other “fronts” of society that need to be nurtured and sustained, or the failure of which invites social breakdown, because society is also a fourfold structure as the self is fourfold. “Society lives by speech, dies without speech” is Rosenstock’s formula for that circulation or the health of what we call “the public conversation”.

        Or, as Rosenstock put it, “proper speech gives its owner more power than property”.

      • tony says :

        “Jung also hovered on the brink of madness at times, as he confessed in his autobiography Memories, Dreams, Reflections, in the chapter called “Confrontations with the Unconscious”. “….I lived as if under constant inner pressure. At times this became so strong that I suspected there was some psychic disturbance in myself.”

        That is exactly the point. They were both forced to confront madness within their inner struggle which is what allows for a comparison.
        Jung as you rightly say, overcame the challenge and went on to live in the spirit of creativity. And Nietzsche,to put it bluntly, gave in.

        • Scott Preston says :

          Jung found Nietzsche an endlessly fascinating subject, as demonstrated by his very extensive two volume (very, very expensive and extensive) Seminar on Nietzsche’s Zarathustra.

          (He didn’t write it. It was a long series of talks delivered between 1934 and 1939 that were recorded by a participant).

          There is an abridged version prepared by James Jarrett which is somewhat less expensive (which I have, but haven’t cracked open yet). But I think it would be interesting to see what Jung thought of Nietzsche (or what his interpretation of Nietzsche reveals about Jung, too, for Jung once expressed that he was “held back” from giving too much attention to Nietzsche earlier “by a secret fear that I might perhaps be like him” (which, of course, he was). It was in wrestling with Nietzsche, by and large, that Jung was also engaged in self-overcoming. That probably accounts for why Jung expended so much time on this one subject — Nietzsche’s Zarathustra.

          I will have to read the book, of course, before speculating about what conclusions Jung came to about Nietzsche — and of himself in relation to Nietzsche.

  11. LittleBigMan says :

    Profoundly rich and meaningful replies to Tony. It was a nice reminder, too, to read the story of the monks P’u-huan and Lin-Chin again.

  12. abdulmonem says :

    How profoundly fruitful is the divine call to read the universe in all its manifestations ,the stone and the light, the seen and the unseen, when I read this rich exchanges. No wonder there is a warning to Mohammad not to sojourn to sadness, forgetting the wideness of the revelations, the morph of everything. When in stone do not forget light, when in light do not forget the stone.It is a continual journey until we lay down our heads in the lap of mother earth without forgetting our return after this long sleep. I love both the holy and the harlot.

  13. abdulmonem says :

    Thank you Tony, if we are to heed the call at the end of the vidoe, language of images is not the best tool to reach the ineffable infinite, I prefer to continue travelling with the vibrational flows of words, embodied and non-embodied, than to confine myself in a mortified state., that is flowing from stone to light and back from light to stone, the beautiful game of life , no wonder the Sufis ask Him to push them to more awe and wonder.

  14. LittleBigMan says :

    Here’s to more inspirational music:

    • LittleBigMan says :

      Hmmmmm…..I’m not sure why my link to the video clip didn’t work. But for anyone interested in Tibetan tunes, the video can be found on Youtube under the title: “Anugama – Healing Earth.”

      Well, let me try again. I keep my fingers crossed:

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