The Mold of Man, or What is “Enlightenment”?

There is a magazine called What is Enlightenment? I glanced through it one day while at a friend’s place. It might be called the organ of Western Buddhism, for it seems to agonise over reconciling the Western meaning of “enlightenment” and liberation with the Eastern meaning of “Enlightenment” and emancipation, the “tabula rasa” with the “empty mirror”, the liberal principle of “self-realisation” with the Buddhist doctrine of “no-self” or “no-mind” (anatman). This understandable perplexity even informs the inquisitive title of the magazine.

So, let’s take a stab at helping to formulate an answer to the question “what is Enlightenment”? What is the real meaning of “self-realisation” if there is no self to realise?

It’s actually pretty simple to understand, even intellectually, if you begin with the realisation that All-Is-One. Of course, most people don’t know this explicitly (although they do know this implicitly), so we’ll have to begin by assuming it as a valid premise — as being the premise of all existence. So, when people speak of what they call “God” as “Supreme Being”, this really means All Being, not just as a superior being amongst a myriad of other beings and entities. It’s not that what we call “God” is the One. Rather, it’s this implicit Oneness that is called “God”, so human beings have come to invert the actual relation between the name and the meaning or essence. They say “God is One” so that the latter seems to follow from the former (this is the working of the second attention of the left-hemisphere of the brain, which understands by “reflection” or mirroring). Oneness then seems to be simply an attribute of a real entity called “God”. But, in reality, it’s the reverse: “the One is God” is more like it. That All-In-One which has been described as omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence precedes any name, designation, predication, definition or conceptualisation. What is, is One.

So, this is why Buddhism is often called an “atheistic religion” that apparently denies the existence of what we call “God”, or even “soul” (or “mind” or “self”). But actually, it’s far more subtle and nuanced than that and for good reason. The Buddha told the atheist and materialist that God is, while to the theistic and religious he said God is not. And for similar reasons, Nietzsche had to announce “the death of God” so that the primordial Oneness that had been eclipsed by “Jehovah” could be liberated from all forms of predication. All That Is, or the unity of all being, is antecedent to any name or concept.

The Wisdom Tradition has zealously guarded against the predication of the One. At one time, it was even impermissible to speak the name of God, and around this all sorts of popular superstitions developed that had nothing to do with the reason why the name of God was proscribed. In some cases, there was a compromise inasmuch as all names were deemed the name of God. Gnostic Christianity also makes a distinction between the godhead and “God”, which has also been misunderstood, for what is called “godhead” or the unity of being — the essential Oneness — always precedes the name “God” who is otherwise deemed the demiurgos. What is called “godhead” is for realisation, and not for talking about, this talking “about” being predication.

Ironically, then, an atheist may well be right, but only inasfar as they do not deny the fundamental unity of being and existence. Carlos Castaneda’s don Juan mocked his belief in “God” as something that belonged to the “island of the tonal” (the ego-nature or left-hemisphere understanding of the brain), but showed Castaneda nonetheless the reality of the “sea of awareness,” and that the cosmos was governed by a force of intent as the expression of a “Supreme Intelligence”. But he refused to concede that you could confine it in the name “God”. There was only energy as it flowed in the universe and that energy was supremely intelligent.

To put this another way, the godhead and God are different in the same way Iain McGilchrist’s “Master” and “Emissary” are different. The godhead precedes “God” and corresponds to what Jean Gebser calls “the ever-present origin”. This ever-present origin is the meaning of All-That-Is or All-in-One, and is what the Buddhists call “the unoriginated” and unconditioned, but which is itself origin. They just decline to call it “God” but it corresponds to what the gnostics call “the godhead” or Gebser calls “the ever-present origin”. Equally, to say that Nietzsche was an atheist is correct. To say that Nietzsche was no atheist is also correct. And this is really the root paradox of Buddhism, too, which is reflected in all the other paradoxes of Buddhism.

If we want to put this in neurological terms, “God” is an interpretation — a symbol — of the second attention of the brain’s left hemisphere for a reality the truth of which is already known directly and immediately by the first attention — the mode of attention of the brain’s right-hemisphere. Dr. Jill Bolte-Taylor, in her TED talk describing the stroke that paralysed the left-hemisphere functions of her brain didn’t speak about “seeing God”, but of how we all are “the life force power of the universe endowed with manual dexterity and two cognitive minds” and that we were, as such, all connected, all members of a “family”. Realising that you are an individual manifestation of this singular life-force power of the universe is what is called “Buddha Nature” or “Christ Consciousness” or “god consciousness” and is also called “the godhead”, of which you are an individualised expression and manifestation.

So, to say that what we call “God” is “the Holy/Wholly Other” is true only for the second attention, or what we call the “ego nature” and which is for that reason of segregation and apartness therefore called “Satan”. But this is not at all true for the first attention, which does not know this “God” at all except as being itself, but which aspect of ourselves we call “the unconscious” simply because we remain ignorant of it in our perverted sense of “Selfhood”. That’s our human narcissism speaking. The Selfhood doesn’t like to admit it, but it is what is called “Satan” or “Prince of Lies” because it is itself the lie that it conceals from itself. But it is the de facto divider and the dichotomiser, the diabolical principle, and the more it insists on what the Buddha calls “the I am conceit” the more Satanic if becomes.

So that when it is said that “Satan is but the ape of God”, this is a statement about the relationship of the false self to the “true self”; correspondingly, the relationship of the second attention now alienated and estranged from the first attention and which, by the process of “reflection” or mirroring, inverts (and thereby perverts) the truths already known directly and immediately to the first attention that has been repressed as “the unconscious” or even as “the collective unconscious”. And it is repressed because of a faulty understanding of “human nature” that has been reproduced and reiterated generation after generation in the course of which “God” does, indeed, become the “Holy/Wholly Other”, and in those terms is not “God” at all but Satan.

If you understand this, then you will know why Nietzsche’s God had to die, for that God is Satan, and is moreover the demon “Mara” in Buddhism, who is the Architect and ruler of the ego-nature, for the more “wholly other” this God becomes, the more Satanic he becomes also in his very “Otherness” and remoteness. The world is in a mess largely because its “God” is actually Satan, which is what William Blake is saying in his art.

That brings us to the meaning of “The Christ”, which has been so badly mauled and disfigured by generations of misunderstanding that Christ has practically become indistinguishable from the demon Mara or Lucifer. The Gnostic tradition made a distinction between Christic Light and Luciferic Light, and this distinction not only draws the distinction between “enlightenment” as Buddhism knows it and “enlightenment” as the West knows it, but also between the two “modes of attention” of McGilchrist’s divided brain. What, then is “the Christ” as being “Son of God”?

In one of his books called The Fire from Within, Castaneda recounts how his teacher, don Juan, introduced him to “the mold of man” while in a state of “non-ordinary consciousness”. This mold of man is an actual morphic or energy field, identical with what is called “the human archetype”. In the Wisdom Literature (for example in the Sufi ibn Arabi, too) this human archetype is called “the Perfect Man”, and is otherwise known as the “Universal Adam” or, in kabbalistic literature, as the Adam Kadmon. In Blake’s writings this human archetype is called “the Universal Humanity”, and is for Blake identical with “The Christ”. It is this Perfect Man, that is the human archetype, that is properly called “the Son of God”, and not “the Son of Man”. The “Son of God” is the same as “the mold of man”.

Castaneda, given his Catholic upbringing, when he was shown the mold of man fell down at its feet and worshipped it as God, for he perceived it as being all goodness, all love, and pledged his devotion and service to it. Castaneda perceived it as a male. A woman would perceive it as female, and in those terms as a vision of the Virgin Mary or as the Great Mother. This is represented in alchemy as the divine androgyne, or in Plato as the Original Man, who is the Platonic hermaphrodite,

The Human Archetype

The Human Archetype

What is called “the Christ” is this mold of man, the human archetype. There is even some scientific evidence for it as a morphic field in the work of Harold Saxton Burr (The Fields of Life) which morphic field he called “the L-Field”, and it is probably this that is called “the Universal Humanity” and which some mystics experience as being “God”, but which is the “Perfect Man”. Blake’s Albion is the realisation of this “Perfect Man” as the reborn Original Man or Universal Adam. Albion is Christ Consciousness, the reintegrated fourfold self which is prefigured in the human archetype as “Son of God”. Some call this, rather, “the soul of man”.

Because the Christ is the Perfect Man, and the Perfect Man is the Universal Humanity, and the Universal Humanity is the human archetype, Christ is pictured as “the vine”, and individuated human beings as the grapes. Alternatively, the Christ is conceived as the Church (or the Tree of Life) and the members of the Church as members of the body of Christ, or branches.  Today, we might say rather that everyone is like a cell in the body of the Universal Humanity, but which Jill Bolte-Taylor realised in saying that we are all members of one family — grapes of the vine, individualised portions of the Universal Humanity.

Even when Castaneda was made aware of the truth of the human archetype, he could never resist the temptation to devotedly fall to his knees and pray to it, for it is a thing of overwhelming majesty. But it is called “the original man” because it is the human archetype.

As The Christ is the Universal Humanity and archetype, so is the Buddha. The Buddha is not the man Siddhartha, but also the realised Universal Humanity, which is called “the true self”. I recall the story, significant in this respect, of a Japanese Buddhist monk who had achieved satori. He saw innumerable numbers of people approaching him as he sat in meditation, all different, but all himself. There was no separation between himself and others. This is true self-realisation isn’t it? Yet, it’s not what most people understand by “self-realisation”. What that Buddhist monk experienced is also called “Christ consciousness”. “As you do unto others, so ye do unto me” was self-evidently so because everyone was an individualised portion of the singular Universal Humanity.

And this is very likely what Jean Gebser was referring to in speaking of human evolution unfolding according to a “pre-existing pattern”. What else could he be referring to but this “mold of man” or human archetype?



11 responses to “The Mold of Man, or What is “Enlightenment”?”

  1. Mark Dotson says :

    I’ve never heard of Harold Saxton Burr until I read your article. Fascinating! Will have to track down his books. Thanks for the tip.

    I agree completely with what you’ve written in this article. I’ve felt for years that, if the masses could see and understand the truth of Oneness, it would revolutionize our world. In essence, we would arrive at Gebser’s next mutation of consciousness. The entire enterprise of Gebser (and of Jesus, for that matter) was one of bringing to awareness the nature of our True selves, that we are destined to be god-humans. Furthermore, this destiny is probably programmed into our DNA, but there are many ways to reject one’s destiny. If we choose complacency over action, the integral mode of consciousness cannot revolutionize our lives.


    • Scott Preston says :

      As I just moments ago posted in another thread in reply to “truthandconsequences”, and as he raised in reference to his comment on Ivan Illich, overcoming our schizophrenia and cognitive dissonance is largely a matter now of learning how to unlearn. Our cognitive dissonance is learned, and can be unlearned. That’s really what Buddhism is, for example — a very disciplined and guided approach to unlearning, which is why many people think it’s nihilistic, because it’s essentially “deconstruction”.

      • Steve Lavendusky says :

        What did Edgar Cayce say about the origin of human beings while in trance? The Fall came from the materialization of higher spiritual beings into matter. This limited their consciousness and trapped them in the material plane (matter). I also do believe he said those beings ate something on the earth which made their etheric-type bodies more coarse, and they could not longer leave this plane of existence. I tried to find that quote in my old Cayce books but couldn’t, so maybe someone can confirm it for us.

        What does Buddhism say?

        Shakyamuni Buddha actually explained to his high stage students, with samadhi and clairvoyance and other superpowers, that our human ancestors were beings from the Abhasvarah (Sound and Light Heaven) within the Form Realm. Their bodies were made of light, which we can call highly refined spiritual essence for this dialogue. Once they visited this earth, these beings kept eating of it (I believe the taste was salty) and consequently their bodies became heavy and they couldn’t return. This was the start of human life on this planet, though the story of pre-Ice Age beings is yet another tale.

        What about the first origins of the beings of the Abhasvarah heaven? They themselves had originally come from the Formless Realm heavens. And the Formless Realm beings? Buddha refused to discuss this because it would fall into theorizing into the origin of the first being; Buddha refused to talk about such things not because he didn’t now, but because they don’t lead to cultivation progress. It just leads to more and more questions and arguments rather than any spiritual achievements. Go ahead and memorize all you want and see where that’s going to get you.

  2. dadaharm says :


    Basically, I agree with the blogpost. I do have some minor problems with some of the terms you use, like the diabolical principle, satan, etc. This sounds like blaming some evil will or intent for what has happened.

    I would see this more as just being the way the universe functions:

    Once you make something implicit explicit, you have a representation. Then the explicit representation gets refined and becomes more detailed. Sooner or later the representation (or map) gets confused with what it is meant to represent. There is no (evil) intent behind this confusion of the map and the territory. I see this idolatry as something that is unavoidable.

    Of course, idolatry sooner or later leads to problems, because the map and territory are different.

    • Scott Preston says :

      We aren’t really talking about “evil intent” in referring to the satanic principle, but of perverted intent which I thought was made clear by the old saying that “Satan is the ape of God”, which at one time I likened to what I called “Khayyam’s Caution — “only a hair separates the false from the true”. They aren’t actually opposites. The false is a perversion or inversion of the true. (I used to call it “Khayyam’s Caution” until someone pointed out that the poet’s translator took some liberties with the original so it might have to be called “FitzGerald’s Caution” instead. But it’s valid nevertheless. Very Heraclitean in conception).

      Satan is the principle and symbol of apartness or segregation. That’s what the word “diabolic” means in the original Greek — to divide, inhibit, or throw obstacles in the way, meaning to keep apart. The opposite of “diabolic” is “symbolic”, which means, basically, to “bring together” — to integrate. In those terms, the diabolical is the dis-integrative or destructive tendency, and the symbolical is the integrative or creative tendency.

      Traditionally (although not completely understood) the symbolic has been represented by the image of the tongue of Christ as being a “two-edged sword”, while the diabolic tendency has been represented as the “forked-tongue” (hence associated with the serpent). The forked-tongue is dualistic reason, but the tongue as two-edged sword is not dualism but polarity. Superfically, then, the diabolical and the symbolical, dualism or polarity, may even look the same to undiscerning minds, but they are not. Dualism is false because it is a perversion of the essential polarity. And a very similar relationship exists between what McGilchrist calls “the Master” and what he calls “the Emissary”, who is a usurper. In the relationship between the Emissary and the Master is the meaning of “Satan is but the ape of God”.

      And so, Buddhism, for example, has the “three evils” called greed, malice (or ill-will) and ignorance (or delusion), and the three evils have their counterparts in the Three Gems, considered as the Buddha, the Sangha, and the Dharma. The latter are the transforms of the Three Evils. As transforms, they reflect the principle that “only a hair separates the false from the true”, and the hair is called “Cloud of Unknowing” or “Veil of Maya”, delusion. In effect, what we call “evil” is only a perversion or inversion of the true, a mirrored image, and all mirrored images are reversed from true.

  3. LittleBigMan says :

    “…………the cosmos was governed by a force of intent as the expression of a “Supreme Intelligence”.”

    Not only this is true, I cannot see how “the Perfect Man” can become that without the help of this “force of intent” that comes from the depths of “ALL THAT IS”. That’s where, I think, the “Supreme Intelligence” expresses its compassionate nature.

    It seems to me that “the true self” is suppressed or marginalized mainly because of its engagement in the society.

    Take, for instance, our conceptions of beauty, which are a mix of muscular leanness, proportionality, symmetry, size, wealth, age, and color. All of these are socially constructed (maybe not exclusively but mostly) and they vary from society to society. So, engagement in the society seems to be antagonistic towards realization of one’s “true self”.

    It takes a personality touched by divine wisdom to be engaged in the society and yet move nearer to being “The Perfect Man” over a lifetime. In my opinion, this is not possible without some help from the “force of intent” intrinsic in the makeup of the cosmos. Maybe that’s even part of our contract for being on this planet.

    • Scott Preston says :

      The Perfect Man isn’t really a physical ideal and is not something that becomes, but is. It’s a spiritual reality of the human archetype as integral being, represented in Blake as his giant Albion, in various states of dormancy or wakefulness. The Perfect Man is what Jill Bolte-Taylor means in her TED talk in saying that in this moment “we are perfect, whole, and beautiful”, with the emphasis on the ‘we’ as a unified being. That “we” as the singular “we” is Blake’s “Universal Humanity” which is a unitary “we”, not a plural “we”.

      This is what Rosenstock-Huessy tries to bang into people’s heads by his reformed grammar: we is not the plural of “I”, it is the singular “We” and is also at the root of Gebser’s objection to mere quantification.

      The Perfect Man is what Meister Eckhart also called “The Aristocrat”, and is certainly not the personal possession of anybody. The Perfect Man is not male or female. It is what Gebser very probably means in suggesting that evolution follows a “pre-existing pattern” and is, in those terms, what is called “The Original Man” not, it must be emphasised in any historical or evolutionary sense, but as the human archetype. For Gebser, after all, Origin is now. It is this Original Man that is also called “the Christ”, and is known in those terms as “the First Adam and the Last Adam”. The man Jesus, for example, was called “the Christ” because people recognised in him the conscious avatar of the human archetype, original man, or Perfect Man — the fulfillment of that same “pre-existing pattern” — the fourfold self and only made visible, concrete and manifest to his disciples, at least, when he was on the cross.

      What made his disciples say only then (according to the record) “Surely this was the Son of God!” Profound moment, for them, for what they saw stretched in the four directions of the crucifix was the fourfold Original Man or Universal Humanity, the embodiment of the authentic “We” of the Universal Humanity — the crucifixion of the human archetype moreso even than the man named “Jesus”.

      So, the crucifix became the symbol of Christianity not because it fetishises an instrument of torture, but because it is the shape of the human archetype and of the Universal Humanity. In “Christ on the Cross” they recognised their own essential fourfold selves also — as mind, body, soul, and spirit. Thereafter they could not think of the Christ as but being everything for everyone but only because they saw the human archteype crucified as the human “We”. The crucifix is a mandala of the human form, and the human form is fourfold and as such represents the Universal Humanity as the unitary “We”.

      Human beings have become stupid, Christianity has become stupid, because it no longer recognises this unitary “We” as the form of the Universal Humanity, the singular of “the Perfect Man” as integral being. This suffices to explain human narcissism and the problem of fragmentation and atomisation. “We” is not pluriform but singular, the singular person of the Universal Humanity, realised as communion. But all this has been forgotten, that we do not exist for ourselves alone or for our own sakes but just as much agents and representatives of the Universal Humanity — the human archetype.

      And this is what Jill Bolte-Taylor saw and which she told of in her TED talk.

      I don’t mean any of this in a “religious” sense at all. It’s more psychological. In fact, I tend to think that Christianity really ruined and mangled the teachings of the man Jesus by making it an issue of religion. Like Blake and Nietzsche, I find everything presently called “religion” to be revolting — something designed to keep people stupid about themselves. Whatever spiritual advances are being made today, they are being made outside “religion”. Everbody faults Marx for describing religion as the “opium of the people”, but that’s essentially what it has become, just as much as Nietzsche in describing the Churches (and the mosques and synagogues, too) as the “tombs and sepulchres of God”. Blake even goes further. He calls them all “synagogues of Satan”.

      “God”, “Allah”, “Jehovah” has become a rather divisive being in his dotage and dementia. So, perhaps its best that he die after all, since it seems that the Universal Humanity — the authentic “we” may be recovered in its universality in the midst of fundamentalism, fragmentation, schism, sectarianism, partisanship, atomisation.

  4. LittleBigMan says :

    As I was reading your insightful comment, I was thinking to myself, “How do I explain myself more clearly?” And just as I was thinking to myself that it would be difficult to do it, you made the task very easy by explaining my position in the following paragraph excerpt of your comment:

    “Human beings have become stupid, Christianity has become stupid, because it no longer recognises this unitary “We” as the form of the Universal Humanity, the singular of “the Perfect Man” as integral being. This suffices to explain human narcissism and the problem of fragmentation and atomisation. “We” is not pluriform but singular, the singular person of the Universal Humanity, realised as communion. But all this has been forgotten, that we do not exist for ourselves alone or for our own sakes but just as much agents and representatives of the Universal Humanity — the human archetype.”

    Yes, I agree completely with that and it is what I meant to say (more or less), but I could have never explained my position that clearly and beautifully. Moreover, a formidable barrier against realizing our fate as “the Perfect Man” is the kind of feedback we receive from the society.

    So, living and interacting in the local and global society is, in my view, one very tough barrier against “the Perfect Man”, and formation of the singular “we”, and it is one main reason for “the problem of fragmentation and atomisation.”

    Living and acting in the society forces one to act in their own best self interest – well, at least it has that effect on most people. Maybe that’s why Nietzsche went up to Alps to get away from all that pressure?

  5. abdulmonem says :

    Gebser vision of the unfolding of the human evolution according to a pre-existing patterns resonates in an illuminating manner with what I was reading that god will show humanity his signs across the horizon of his cosmos and the horizon of the human self to make it certain that what he has delivered is the truth. All cultures religious or otherwise are moving fast toward a converging realization that we are one humanity, having one god and living on one earth despite all the apparent separations in tongues ,in colors in cultures or in locations. Your post is speaking clearly to that. The quran is clear in saying that god is the intelligent light energy of the heaven and earth,begotten not, nor he begets, the originator of everything, the bestower on the human the perceptive faculties to try to know him , the givers of the life that flows through everything, the unique that has no comparator, the living field in which everything lives and flourishes and I can continue to no end because he is endless, The one that can not be dissected. The one that has thrown most humanity into the furnace of inverted or perverted interpretations save those that have been given the protective light from the source. The code of the consciousness of nature is different from the human code, in the first realm the consciousness of each phenomenon in nature is charged with definite task to be fulfilled while in the human realm, the human being given the faculty of perception and choice, has been given the free will to choose from the available options in his envirornment, the code of value, the god or the ape the island of the tonal or the other right side land. It seems perversion is part of the life deal, because things can not be understood ,only through their opposites. It is no wonder that the divine message is to tolerate the perversion and continue on your straight path until the unseen will strike. It is difficult to play in an uncertain, unmapped territory, but that are the conditions of the divine game. It is unfortunate that the blind of this life will be blind in the other life, that is exactly, is the call of Jill Bolte- Taylor to wake up, however I hope we wake up without strokes. It is only through honesty ( justice and truth) that we can protect each others and can converse tolerably with each other,otherwise we will continue to suffer and our future will end in a frightening bang.

    • Scott Preston says :

      is the call of Jill Bolte- Taylor to wake up, however I hope we wake up without strokes.

      Me too. But it looks like something akin to a stroke — a trauma — will have to do.

  6. abdulmonem says :

    I forget to complete the story by the cycle of death as the leveler of everything as you said in one of your comments, only to wake up, in order to read what we have done as a reminder of the self-judgement inbuilt in our construction. The entourage of the seen and unseen forces living in us with our complete unawareness and oblivion.

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