The Life-World: “Storms to the Stormy”
One of the things that grabbed me while I was reading one of the Seth books was a simple statement Seth made during a particularly stormy night while beginning one of his “sessions” with Jane Roberts and Robert Butts. Of all the things that should stick with me after reading the Seth material it is, oddly enough, “storms to the stormy”. The phrase recurs to me every time I reflect on problems of climate change or of chaotic transition.
“Storms to the stormy” brings to mind Heraclitus and his admonition that “character is fate”. In the original Greek, though, character is “ethos” and “character is fate” is only a very rough translation of “ethos anthropos daimon“. Heraclitus, the “Greek Buddha” as he has been described, meant by this “daimon” something more akin to the Buddhist “Mara”, Lord of Illusions and “the Architect”. Greek “daimon” is often adequately translated by the Latin “genius“. But neither “demon” nor “genius” mean, today, what they meant then.
“Storms to the stormy”, like Heraclitus’s ethos anthropos daimon, is a summation of Seth’s oft-repeated maxim: “you create the reality you know”. Both statements are in the nature of the Hermetic principle of the coincidence of opposites — or “as above, so below”, or “as within, so without”. “Storms to the stormy”, or ethos anthropos daimon, or St. Augustine’s “time is of the soul” are all equivalent in meaning. All these are, furthermore, implied in Blake’s insistence on the primacy of “Imagination”, which is connected with the “intentionality of consciousness” as described in Husserl’s Phenomenology (and, indeed, with “intent” as it is described equally in Castaneda’s writings, where it is equivalent to “creativity”). This same principle of intentionality is implied in Nietzsche’s philosophy of “amor fati” (or “love of fate”): “it is so because I willed it thus!”
All these statements are exactly equivalent in highlighting the primacy of intentionality, even where this is called “Imagination” by Blake. All say one and the same thing: “you create the reality you know”. At a fundamental level, there is no separation of inner states from outer states, or of inner dynamics from “objective” dynamics. It is a continuum. Our inner states profoundly effect and shape the life-world as a whole, even disruptively and turbulently. Chaos within becomes chaos without. “Character is fate” becomes, in St. Augustine, “time is of the soul”.
In a day when quantum physics faces “the Measurement Problem” (or “the collapse of the wave-function”), this function of “intentionality” in every act of perception should not be difficult to understand at all. What Heraclitus means by “ethos”, what Augustine means by “soul”, what Blake means by “divine Imagination”, or what Castaneda and Phenomenology mean by “intentionality”, or what Nietzsche refers to as “the will to power” are all bound up with what Jean Gebser means by “a structure of consciousness”. It is also bound up with Peter Berger’s and Thomas Luckmann’s description of The Social Construction of Reality.
Intentionality is not will. Will is only peripherally connected with intentionality. They can become even dissonant, which is why the religious plead “not my will but Thine be done, O Lord”. The will is of the Selfhood, or McGilchrist’s “Emissary”.
There is a passage in Castaneda’s 30th Anniversary Edition of The Teachings of Don Juan that I find particularly relevant to the meaning of “intent” and Seth’s remarks about “storms to the stormy” (as well as Heraclitus’s “ethos anthropos daimon” or Augustine’s “time is of the soul”). Here, Castaneda is speaking of the shamans of Mexico and their understanding of “intent”,
“They saw that the entire universe was a universe of intent, and intent, for them, was the equivalent of intelligence. Their conclusion, which became part of their cognitive world, was that vibratory energy, aware of itself, was intelligent in the extreme. They saw that the mass of intent in the cosmos was responsible for all the possible mutations, all the possible variations which happened in the universe, not because of arbitrary, blind circumstances, but because of the intending done by the vibratory energy, at the level of the flux of energy itself…. Don Juan pointed out that in the world of everyday life, human being make use of intent and intending in the manner in which they interpret the world. Don Juan, for instance, alerted me to the fact that my daily world was not ruled by my perception, but by the interpretation of my perception. He gave as an example the concept of the university, which at that time was a concept of supreme importance to me. He said that university was not something I could perceive with my senses, because neither my sight nor my hearing, nor my sense of taste, nor my tactile nor olfactory senses, gave me any clue about university. University happened only in my intending, and in order to construct it there, I had to make use of everything I knew as a civilized person, in a conscious or subliminal way.” (p. xvii – xviii).
For don Juan, also, the mastery of “intent” was, paradoxically, the surrender to intent — very much akin to the prayer of the religious. And many physicists are, today, coming around to this view expressed by Don Juan — Amit Gotswami, for example, in The Self-Aware Universe: How Consciousness Creates the Material World. And it is “intentionality” that is strongly associated with the magical structure of consciousness, for it is magic — everyday magic even despite ourselves.
And this brings us to the issue of “technocratic shamanism” (or necromancy). What is implied in the phrase “perception management” (branding, propaganda, disinformation, etc) is actually the attempt to manipulate this intentionality rather than the percept or the act of perception itself. This is the Freudian “superego” and is akin to what don Juan called “the foreign installation”. This “superego” is actually Buddha’s “Mara” (whose name is contained in the word “nightmare” or “night-mara”). When Buddha calls Mara “Lord of my own ego”, this is the Freudian “superego”, and is the same as don Juan’s “foreign installation”. For Don Juan, “total freedom” comes from dissolving the foreign installation and reclaiming “intent” as one’s own, paradoxically, by surrendering to it, in effect, becoming one with the universal intent. For Blake, similarly, this is liberating the “divine Imagination” in the human, which he sees as equivalent to “God” and God as equivalent to “the Universal Humanity”. In Blake, God is this same implicit “intentionality” or intent which is equivalent to creativity, and which he calls “Imagination”. Similarly, what Blake calls “the mind-forg’d manacles” in his poem London, is what don Juan calls “the foreign installation”, but which others call “superego”. What Heraclitus calls “ethos” is what Seth calls a “belief system” which specifies how intent is to manifest itself as a fate.
The manipulation of intentionality by “vested interests” (mainly via branding and “brand managers”) is what Algis Mikunas calls “technocratic shamanism”.
The emancipation of intent from “amalgamate false natures” (Rosenstock-Huessy’s phrase for “mind-forg’d manacles”) bears on Augustines’ “time is of the soul” and Gebser’s anticipation of “time-freedom”. Time-freedom is what Blake refers to in his own “fourfold vision” as “Eternity in the hour” or in one of his Proverbs of Hell “Eternity is in love with the productions of time”.
What is called “reclaiming lost innocence” is really this foregoing of the egoic will and its subordination to intent. Will pertains to McGilchrist’s “Emissary” as “usurper” as intent pertains to his “Master” mode of awareness. The disruption in the life-world is owing to an inner conflict between will and intent. What Jill Bolte-Taylor calls “the life force power of the universe” is intent.
“Human nature”, so called, is in conflict with this life-force and with its life-world, and this is chaos. Nietzsche called this life-force and the life-world “Dionysus” and intent, as described by Castaneda, he called “will to power” as the universal operative principle in the cosmos. This has been badly misunderstood, since this “will to power” is Bolte-Taylor’s “life-force power of the universe” equally. It is the misalignment of this egoic “I am” or “I will” with the life-world and intent that is the root cause of all of our troubles, or as Nietzsche put it, the true self is not that which says “I am”, but which does “I am”. It is the “doing” of the latter that is called “intent” or “intentionality”.
There is also a Buddhist proverb that speaks to the meaning of “intentionality” in this sense: “he who sees the action that is in inaction is wise indeed”. The action that is in inaction is intent, not will.