The Vote

Today is voting day in Canada, and a good opportunity, therefore, to talk about the higher meaning of the word and the act of voting. Many people take it far too lightly and frivolously. But it also has a deeper — one might say even “spiritual” — significance.

The word “vote”, of course, comes from vox — voice. It is “having your say”, giving your “yes” or your “no” to political or social tendencies or trends.

This “universal franchise” was a very long time in the making. As an ideal, its origins date back to at least the 12th century, vague echoes of which still reach down to our day in the phrase “vox pop” — the popular voice. The original full phrase is actually this: vox populi, vox Dei — “the voice of the people is the voice of God”.  But, since God died, only this stump and residue of the original saying — “vox pop” — has remained. That’s significant in itself.

If the voice of the people is the voice of God, you can see why there might been a deep democratic urge in Christianity. To liberate the voice of the people was to free the voice of God to speak to all and everywhere. It took many generations of struggle to liberate the voice from its various shackles, inhibitions, and constraints.

Vox populi, vox Dei has been been resurrected, however, in Rosenstock-Huessy’s “cross of reality” and in his remark that “God is the power that makes men speak” — that is, the power that enthuses human beings so that they speak, for that is the meaning of the word “enthuse” — en-theos, or “a god within”.

Now, just what does all that mean?

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. So begins the Gospel of John. It’s an auspicious beginning. John was responding to Heraclitus’s notion of the Logos, and that’s actually the term John used: “In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God”. The word “Logos” does indeed mean “word” or “speech”, but in a very special sense. For Heraclitus, the Logos was in all things and most especially in human beings. It was the principle of integrity or the integral principle. In fact, the Logos as Heraclitus understood it, is pretty much the same as the holographic principle today. The same Logos is endlessly repeated and reflected in all things — the macro and the micro.

The word “Logos” is notoriously difficult to translate, but its equivalent is the Buddhist “dharma“, which is also notoriously difficult to translate. The words “dharma” and “dogma” are related, of course, in the notion of “doctrine” or “teaching”, but the dharma is also in everything, like the Heraclitean Logos. Everything is a teaching.

For Rosenstock-Huessy, this Logos was represented in human grammar — as articulated speech. Articulation is integration — as the word “articulate” itself means — to join together, which is pretty much the meaning of the Greek word “symbolon“. The opposite of the Greek “symbolon” is “diabolon” — to separate or divide or thrust apart.

So, now you see where vox populi, vox Dei makes sense — articulating or “symbolic” speech was unifying, integrating, a joining together, a “making whole”. It was Genesis, while the speechless or inarticulate state was the opposite, “diabolical” — a dividing, a separating, disunifying, and disintegrating.

We’ve talked earlier about “the Guardians of the Four Directions” being a very common motif in practically all human cultures. The guardians of the four directions are the four dragons of Chinese lore (and the Jade Emperor is the equivalent of the Logos in this context). The guardians of the four directions are Mark, Matthew, Luke and John, the four evangelists, and the Logos is depicted as Christ on the Cross. The guardians of the four directions are the North, South, East, and West directions of the North American aboriginal Sacred Hoop or Medicine Wheel, and the representative of the Logos is the man or woman who “speaks from the centre of the voice”, which is the centre of the Sacred Hoop because “the Sacred Hoop is in language”. The guardians of the four directions are also Blake’s “four Zoas” of the disintegrate Adam, who re-integrated is the resurrect Albion. Albion is also a representation of the Logos. The guardians of the four directions are the four beasts who surround the throne of God in the Book of Revelation, and are likewise the same as “the four riders of the apocalypse” too. The Guardians of the Four Directions are the same guardians who gifted their begging bowls to the Buddha upon his enlightenment, but which the Buddha, as legend has it, “united with his own for the sake of the dharma”, that is to say “Buddha Mind” is also the Logos become conscious of itself.

Here, once again, I’ll provide illustrations of those four Guardians before speaking to how they are still represented today in Rosenstock-Huessy’s cross of reality and in articulating human speech.

The Four Dragons and the Jade Emperor

The Four Dragons and the Jade Emperor

Agnus Dei: Christian Mandala of the Fourfold Self

Agnus Dei: Christian Mandala of the Fourfold Self


Sacred Hoop /Medicine Wheel

Sacred Hoop /Medicine Wheel


William Blake -- the Fourfold Vision

William Blake — the Fourfold Vision

The Buddha receiving the begging bowls of the Guardians of the Four Directions

The Buddha receiving the begging bowls of the Guardians of the Four Directions

Jung's four psychological functions

Rosenstock-Huessy's "cross of reality"

Rosenstock-Huessy’s “cross of reality”

I trust, from these illustrations, that the implicit pattern will become evident. The source of that pattern is the Logos. The four “Guardians” are emanations or emissaries of the Logos, or dharma. And the four person system of grammar is also a representation of the guardians of the four directions (You, I, We, He/She). And there is a connection between all these and Jung’s four psychological types or four functions of consciousness, as thinking, feeling, willing, and sensing, for they are indeed the true “four guardians” who are represented in all these personfications or mandalas, and which William Blake calls the four Zoas of the disintegrate Adam.

Now, these same four guardians reappear in Rosenstock-Huessy’s cross of reality and his grammatical method or “speech-thinking”. “Through speech society sustains its time and space axes…. Without articulated speech man has neither direction nor orientation in time or space. Without the signposts of speech, the social beehive would disintegrate immediately”.

Society, Rosenstock-Huessy notes, is beset by four potential “diseases” — war, revolution, anarchy, and decadence. Each attacks one of the time or space fronts of the social order: war attacks the outer, revolution attacks the past, anarchy attacks the inner, and decadence attacks the future. What Rosenstock calls “vital speech” erects defences against these four diseases. The four defences are power, respect, unanimity, and faith (inspiration) respectively. As Rosenstock puts it “Social research is imprisoned in a reality, in a cross of reality, between the four simultaneous tasks to cultivate faith, power, unanimity, respect, all four. Social research is the search for the restoration of the perpetual balance.”

“Vital speech has as its raison d’etre the conquest, the perpetual conquest of these four trends…. To the four diseases, four different styles of speech bring relief. Men reason, men pass laws, men tell stories, men sing. The external world is reasoned out, the future is ruled, the past is told, the unanimity of the inner circle is expressed in song. People speak together in articulated language because they fear decay, anarchy, war, and revolution. The energies of social life are compressed into words. The circulation of articulated speech is the lifeblood of society. Through speech society sustains its time and space axes. These time and space axes give direction and orientation to all members of society. Without articulated speech, man has neither direction nor orientation in time or space. Without the signposts of speech, the social beehive would disintegrate immediately” (from “In Defence of the Grammatical Method”, Speech and Reality, p. 16).

In other words, the “guardians of the four directions” reappear again, but now in grammatical forms which have become institutionalised: reason (science, power), politics (law, future, faith), religion (narratives, respect), song (art). A little reflection will show that these also have something to do with Jung’s four functions of consciousness itself, in terms of thinking, feeling, willing, and sensing (or intuition).

The rationale for the vote and for vox populi, vox Dei resides in the faith that, despite the ignorance and follies, prejudices and irrationalities of the individuals or specimens, society itself — the habitat that is formed by speech, as it were — will always try to achieve a balance or equilibrium between the four directions by cultivating the “guardians” — unanimity (inner), power (outer), respect (past), faith (future).

The vote or the universal franchise was, itself, an expression of faith in the principle represented by vox populi, vox Dei. It often seems a pretty shaky faith, to be sure. Our confidence in the potential maturity of individuals to overcome narrow and petty self-interest and narcissism is often challenged when we witness “extraordinary delusions and the madness of crowds” or “the march of folly”. But it’s then that the “guardians of the four directions” revert to their frightful aspect as “the four riders of the apocalypse” — the “correction” and rectification of the imbalance and the disequilibrium. The old speech is diseased and becomes discredited. A new language is born in the process, however, in an attempt to restore the equilibrium of the “cross of reality”.

Vox populi, vox Dei” or “the Sacred Hoop is in language” or “God is the power that makes men speak” have pretty much the same meaning. But that meaning has yet to be revealed and manifested in its full significance as a pointer to the Heraclitean Logos. But the vote, at root, is an expression of confidence that the mature individual is potentially capable of serving as a responsible agent of this “Logos” himself or herself.

Many people are losing faith in the “Modern Project” and the democratic experiment. They have become very cynical about its mistakes and failures and the weakness of individuals. But that’s because they really don’t understand what “self-government” is, and because of a faulty self-understanding. The human form (and society) is fourfold in nature, not a dualism of subject-object or even, indeed, a matter of maximising self-interest. The experiment in democratic “self-government” will succeed only when we all come to realise that we are the guardians of the four directions ourselves, and it is we who balance the time and space fronts of the social order, which we will know when we come to know ourselves as fourfold beings, and that consciousness is multidimensional and, indeed, “radiant” in the way illustrated by the cross of reality — focussing, in turns, inwards and outwards, and backwards and forwards, and that it brings different tools, moods, or functions to each.

Every individual is this same “cross of reality”, but they often act only in or from one-dimension of this reality.


10 responses to “The Vote”

  1. abdulmonem says :

    Divine reality is beyond human thought and comprehension, that is why prophets are send to remind humanity of this truth. To remind them that his contact depends on mutual seeking. What you seek ,seek you. They say that prayer is the human tool to contact him and meditation is the divine tool to seek the human. In the later contact activating the process of inspiration is a must and this is done through the universal tools he provided which the insincere concealed. Ha Meem An Seen Kaf is the way the inspiration process is activated through honest devotion, sincere seeking and undoubted faith. Our universe depends on repetition to provide the opportunity for human to participate in the change. God does speak through peoples false and faithful to show us His truth.

  2. donsalmon says :

    yes I agree, the Divine reality is beyond human thought and comprehension, but some humans have come mighty close to finding words for it. This is the closing of Krishna Prem’s commentary on the 10th chapter of the Bhagavad Gita. It is in this chapter the Krishna teaches Arjuna a method whereby he can learn to see all things in this visible universe as manifestation of the Logos – in Sanskrit “Rita” (or, Rta, but I don’t have the symbol over the “t” to make it clear:>)

    He refers to the Logos here as “The Mighty Atman” (Sanskrit: Mahat Atman)


    It is said that in a lotus-seed exists in miniature a perfect lotus. So in that Mighty Being is the seed of all that is, subtle beyond all images of sense, the shining spiritual Cosmos; Infinite seeds and yet one wondrous Seed, beyond the reach of mind, yet to be seen by Mind. [Footnote: Gita, x, verses 39-42. Compare this with the so-called Nassene document. “Accordingly they (the Egyptians) declare concerning the Essence of the Seed which si the cause of all things in the world of generation, that it is none of these things, but that it begets and makes all generated things saying, ‘I become what I will and am what I am.’ Therefore that which moves all is unmoved; for It remains what it is, making all things, and becoming no one of the things produced”]

    [Verse 40] All that is glorious, beautiful, or mighty shines by reflection of a portion of that Being. Vainly we seek on earth a symbol grand enough to adumbrate Its glories. In ancient Egypt and Chaldea the starry heaven was Its only symbol; the heaven with its interlinked and patterned stars whirling in gleaming harmonies around the pole. But all the splendors of the cosmic depths, their mind-annihilating magnitudes of time and space, symbol to all men of eternal Law and Beauty, are but a moment of the Mighty Atman; infinities ranged on the shoulders of infinities; a wondrous hierarchy of living spiritual Powers where each is each and each is All and all dance forth in ecstasy the Cosmic Harmony. [Footnote: This Cosmic Harmony, known to Pythagoreans as the music of the spheres, was in the Vedic tradition termed rita, the cosmic order in which all the gods exist. Those who find in the Vedas mere chaotic polytheism and those who find incipient monotheism are alike mistaken. Unity indeed there was, but it was not the unity of a personal being but of Divine impersonal Cosmic Order within which Indra, Varuna and Agni, the whole pantheon of Gods, all shone and had their being.]

    [Verse 42] Vast beyond thought as is this spiritual realm, this flaming Cosmos of Divine Ideas, yet still beyond lies That, the One Eternal, the Parabrahman, Rootless Root of all. Beyond all Gods, beyond all time and space, beyond al lbeing even, flames Its dark transcendent Light. [Footnote: Strictly speaking, between the Great Atman and the Parabrahman are the unmanifested Two. For convenience they are here included in the Supreme Unmanifested One.]

    From that Eternal Brahman issue forth the Mighty Atman, great beyond all thought, and all the countless starry worlds that fill the wide immensities of space. Yet so vast is Its spaceless, timeless grandeur that all these wondrous emanated worlds are as a drop taken from out the ocean, leaving Its shoreless being ever full. Therefore Sri Krishna, speaking for That Brahman, says, “having established this entire universe with one fragment of Myself, I remain.”

    “That is the Full; this is the full;
    From that Full has this full come forth;
    Having taken the full from the Full
    Verily the Full Itself remains.” (Ishopanishad)

  3. abdulmonem says :

    In the seed of the acorn is the full acorn. Other tradition said it.In the soul of the human is the infinite. I am a hidden treasure and have created the creation to know Me. I know myself I want other to know me. IT is one of the human attempts to know Him. One must be careful not to say my path is the only path. As Scott said in the article. all roads lead to God providing the seeker is honest and sincere in his divine pursuit. It is how to activate the inspiration process that lead me to him. It is the method you referred to in the first paragraph.

    • donsalmon says :

      Not sure which method you referred to?

      • donsalmon says :

        Oh, just read it. It’s not really a specific practice – “method” is perhaps not the right word. Krishna, throughout Chapter 10 (I didn’t quite this part above) guides Arjuna to “see” the infinite in the finite. There are probably 7 billion methods existing now. And in fact, if anyone defines a method, it will be different every time they “use” it.

        But i love that “I was a hidden treasure and sought to be known.” Then there’s st. paul’s “all creation is groaning in anticipation of the coming of the Christ.”

        Waiting for that which is already always here!

        “The entire Koran is teaching nothing from beginning to end but abandonment of belief in phenomenal causation.”

        • abdulmonem says :

          I agree every human has his unique road and thus there are roads to accommodate everybody. Sufis say no two persons experience the same revelation, nor one person receives the same revelation twice. God is so vast, it can not be contained in any one image, that is why there are so many interpretations. The word Koran means reading and so every one reading his universe is making his Koran. Al halaj in one of his meditative session was asked what are you doing ,he answered he is imitating the Koran that is he is making his own Koran.

  4. Mark Dotson says :

    I’m very glad to see that things went well yesterday in Canada. Awesome!


    • Scott Preston says :

      As I just posted, not the optimum result, but much better than what we had (knock on wood). A more detailed interpretation of the Canadian election and its ironies would probably bore the readership of the Chrysalis, so I’ll avoid that.

      Trudeau has expressed an admiration for the ‘basic dictatorship’ of China. Well, gee, we just got rid of a right-wing Stalinist and now Trudeau is expressing admiration for a “basic dictatorship”. We’ll have to see just how much he admires Confucianism — because that’s what the Chinese “basic dictatorship” is — a Thermidor Reaction to Maoism. The politically illiterate still think its a “communist dictatorship”, but that was repudiated itself by the trial and execution of the “Gang of Four”. That was the Thermidor Reaction, and China reverted to a conservative Confucian dictatorship.

      Really is that our only choice — Stalin or Confucius?

      • donsalmon says :

        I have to say, I’m as guilty as most Americans in that I hardly ever think about or read about Canada. I’ve been made to feel delightfully, wonderfully, happily guilty as I’ve been reading Scott’s posts.

        I just read this in the NY Times – this comment about a Times editorial that even I, with my infinitesimal knowledge of Canada, could tell was an ignorant, ridiculously small minded column (though admittedly celebratory about the end of Harper and possibility of a more positive US Canada relationship.

        Here’s the comment (I love the suggestion at the end – Scott, maybe you could lead a posse south of your border so our Donald Trump to start sounding the alarms about all the dangerous Canadian immigrants coming to steal good American jobs!!)


        It’s nice that the Times Editorial Board has taken note of (and applauds) yesterday’s events in Canada. However, where have they been all along in guiding the editorial direction of the paper regarding that country?

        Sadly, 99.99% of all the information regarding Canada in Times articles the past two days is new to 99% of all Americans. As a people, we are much better informed about life and politics in Germany, Saudi Arabia, China, and many other places than by our neighbor with whom we share 5000 miles of common border.

        Does a country have to be problematic to be noticed? While it is probably true as an element of human nature that “problems” — whether real or imagined — grab our attention, one would expect the Times, as an element of its journalistic responsibility, to lead and not simply mirror this proclivity. There are ample other sources for primarily covering the sensational.

        The Times’ routine coverage of Canada, its people, culture, and politics, does preciously little to disabuse the typical American view of that nation as a wholly-owned subsidiary of America Inc. or as simply America Lite.

        Maybe Canada should send some Mounties across the border in the Minnesota north and claim four square feet of American soil. That would most certainly get it a lot more coverage than it does now. Not to mention lots of attention as a major issue in the Republican Presidential debates.

        • Scott Preston says :

          It’s OK to be ignored by the Times. I rather like Canada’s relative anonymity. I don’t think Canadians by and large care whether they are in the focus of the world’s attention or not, since it’s usually always for the wrong reasons. They’ld rather just go fishing.

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