Primitive Capitalism and Chaotic Transition

Forget austerity, here’s who is to blame for your empty pockets” is an article by The Guardian’s finance editor, Patrick Collinson, in today’s Guardian. Collinson blames the financial squeeze many are going through not so much on government austerity policies as on corporate profiteering.

Although the article is quite good, I had to post an objection in the comments to this either/or kind of thinking in regards to austerity or profiteering/privateering. Austerity and excessive profiteering (extractivism by another name) work hand-in-hand. Collinson’s article seems like a good opportunity to delve a little deeper into the problems of “chaotic transition”, unequal distribution of prosperity, and the rape of the commonwealth that we call “neo-liberalism”.

Government imposed austerity along with private profiteering (deregulation and privatisation), which has resulted in the problem of inequality, seems quite extraordinary these days. But it’s fairly typical of what is called “primitive capital accumulation”, which we’ll call “primitive capitalism” for short. It’s pretty typical of transitional ages when we witness big changes in the means and mode of economic production and its ideological rationales and justifications. “Primitive capitalism” or “primitive capital accumulation”, which is almost always criminal or quasi-criminal in nature (and yes indeed, almost always conspiratorial) isn’t about the early stages of historical capitalism, but the initial stage of a certain era of capitalism. The term “primitive” refers to this first or initial stage of a new phase of capitalist accumulation brought about by significant changes (or a “revolution”) in the means and mode of production. They are usually pretty ugly periods. The Industrial Revolution had its phase of “primitive capital accumulation” and so does the present “Tech Revolution” in the means of production; that is to say, the transition from Industrial to Post-Industrial, or from mechanics to electronics.

Basically, in a sense, present society is being subjected to something the equivalent of “electro-shock therapy” with the onset of the Tech Revolution, and this is very much connected with Naomi Klein’s ideas about The Shock Doctrine and “disaster capitalism”.  This is also the meaning of Thatcherism and Reaganomics, ie, neo-liberalism. It was also quite characteristic of Blairite “New Labour”.

The politicians and governments, you may have noticed, really don’t know how to manage, regulate, or navigate the socially disruptive effects brought about by radical changes in the means and mode of production — principally robotics and automation. They have more or less surrendered all that to the “Invisible Hand” and the “magic of the marketplace” to sort out. But in the name of “productivity” and “competitiveness”, governments have imposed austerity policies on the public and the commonwealth as a way to facilitate “profiteering”, ie, primitive capital accumulation on the assumption that the excess profits will be re-invested in the new means of production. But, in fact, a lot of it is being re-invested in things like superyachts and tax-free offshore bank accounts.

This might also be said to be the meaning of “Trump” — facilitating primitive capital accumulation. It is certainly the intention of Trump’s close technology adviser, Peter Thiel who certainly believes that the “unthinking herd” is only good for wealth extraction via taxation or other forms of extraction to finance elite technological megaprojects (apparently, like reviving Woolly Mammoths). Peter Thiel might even be the poster-body for the twin evils of austerity with profiteering.

A large part of what Algis Mikunas calls “technocratic shamanism” is the attempt, really, to either disguise this process of primitive capital accumulation and the actual collaboration of governments with this process of profiteering, or to sugar-coat it as ultimately being good for you, good for society, good for the Earth, etc, etc. It’s pretty clear, though, that governments don’t have a sniff of a clue how to manage the tech revolution and the radical changes in the means of production in a way that doesn’t harm the public interest. In fact, the public interest (the “commonwealth” in all its forms) is seen as an impediment and hindrance to the efficient transition to changes in the means and mode of production.  And this attitude to the public, the public interest, and the commonwealth very much underlies Thatcher’s TINA principle and her belief “there is no such thing as society”. Ergo, one doesn’t have any responsibility or obligation towards that which does not exist. One is free to plunder the commonwealth with a good conscience and without the burden of something called “social obligation” or “social responsibility”.

It must come as a bit of a shock to those who believed the propaganda that it was the function of capitalism to provide “jobs! jobs! jobs!” only to now find that its the function of capitalism to do exactly the opposite — get rid of “jobs! jobs! jobs!” by the boatload.

One of the reasons that the “Left” has been left in disarray and like a voice crying in the wilderness is because the Left doesn’t have any better idea of how to navigate the “chaotic transition”, and has been left largely bereft by the discrediting of the Labour Theory of Value. The traditional or conventional Left was as economistic in that respect as the Right. It didn’t have a good understanding of “value”, and that’s where Nietzsche got a toe up on Marx. I’m still not sure whether the Left has actually absorbed Nietzsche’s lessons on the meaning of “value” yet (although it’s pretty interesting when an old Marxist like Slavoj Zizek complains about leftists turning towards Buddhism!)

It’s pretty much self-evident that most of our “modern institutions”, supposedly public, are collaborating in this process of primitive capital accumulation, which is why so many feel alienated and estranged from them now, without really understanding why they feel that way. It’s quite possible that even most of our politicians don’t understand it either. And thought they might speak the right words about “public service” and so on and so forth, nonetheless they are aiders and abetters of this process of primitive capital accumulation, which is what people refer to as “trickle up”.

The self-negating, self-contradictions of contemporary “turbo-capitalism” have become rather severe and very difficult to overlook without self-deception about this. Whether this phase of primitive capital accumulation ends up being capitalism’s swan song is an open question (some seem to think it is the end of capitalism and that there’s nothing Trump or his followers do can avert that fate — “hoist on its own petard”, as it were).

At least, we should have a clear idea of what’s going down in this period of “chaotic transition” as being also a period of “primitive capital accumulation” aided and abetted by governments through austerity, deregulation and privatisation policies to facilitate that capital accumulation on the presumption that it will be invested in the “tech revolution” and to finance the radical changes in the means and mode of production. Re-tooling an economy (or “infrastructure”) is very expensive, and its the public that has to foot the bill for it in various ways. Not much of it is being re-invested in that, but a lot is going into big vanity techno-projects or into superyachts, amongst other similar indulgences and extravagances, with such vanities being held up as promise of the fruits of the coming “leisure society” — a superyacht in everyone’s backyard, much like Boris Yeltsin, during Russia’s own chaotic transition, promised a chicken in every pot and a Mercedes in every garage.

Let me guess…. I bet it doesn’t turn out that way at all. But the contemporary fact that most people seem to be unconsciously collaborating in their own disenfranchisement — this is, for me, the most astonishing fact about the present situation.


70 responses to “Primitive Capitalism and Chaotic Transition”

  1. donsalmon says :

    The clearest description I’ve ever come across of the Trumpian/Thielian consciousness is in Sri Aurobindo’s “Essays on the Gita.” In chapter 16, Krishna speaks of Arjuna of two essential types of human beings – extremes, but in their extreme, typifying certain basic aspects of human nature as it is in the Ignorance (Avidya) – the Devic (angelic) and Asuric (demonic).

    Sri Aurobindo notes in this chapter that in all traditional societies, it was understood that everything about living beings – everything in the surface, physical phenomenal universe (of course, they had no conception of “physical” apart from “phenomenal) was surrounded by subtle worlds of forces far greater than we can imagine. As an aside, they understood that the modern “scientific” explanation for such a thing as lightning not only does NOT supersede the explanation involving Thor, but in fact, the mythic “explanation” is much more profound and by the way, more “correct” (Krishna Prem expressed this beautifully when he said that in fact, it is not correct to say Apollo is a myth about the sun, and it is actually much more accurate to say the sun is a myth about Apollo).

    So keeping the larger subtle universe of living forces in mind, here is the very essence of the Theil-Trump mentality (it may also help to note that one of the descriptions of the asura is a clever mentality along the lines of McGilchrist’s “left mode” – extreme selective attention focused on control and manipulation of the quantitative aspects of the world, undergirded by enormous vital/pranic force, which in the end always eats up the Asura, as Rama defeated Ravanna – note also that several millennia ago, the Gita understood that at the root of materialism, [a world without God, not true, not founded in Truth – shades of the age of duplicity, the age of alternative facts] is the asuric desire for self satisfaction]


    The Asuric nature has too its wealth, its plenitude of force, but it is of a very different, a powerful and evil kind. Asuric men have no true knowledge of the way of action or the way of abstention, the fulfilling or the holding in of the nature. Truth is not in them, nor clean doing, nor faithful observance. They see naturally in the world nothing but a huge play of the satisfaction of self; theirs is a world with Desire for its cause and seed and governing force and law, a world of Chance, a world devoid of just relation and linked Karma, a world without God, not true, not founded in Truth. Whatever better intellectual or higher religious dogma they may possess, this alone is the true creed of their mind and will in action; they follow always the cult of Desire and Ego.

    On that way of seeing life they lean in reality and by its falsehood they ruin their souls and their reason. The Asuric man becomes the centre or instrument of a fierce, Titanic, violent action, a power of destruction in the world, a fount of injury and evil. Arrogant, full of self-esteem and the drunkenness of their pride, these misguided souls delude themselves, persist in false and obstinate aims and pursue the fixed impure resolution of their longings. They imagine that desire and enjoyment are all the aim of life and in their inordinate and insatiable pursuit of it they are the prey of a devouring, a measurelessly unceasing care and thought and endeavour and anxiety till the moment of their death.

    [this almost could have been written about this week’s news!!] Bound by a hundred bonds, devoured by wrath and lust, unweariedly occupied in amassing unjust gains which may serve their enjoyment and the satisfaction of their craving, always they think, “Today I have gained this object of desire, tomorrow I shall have that other; today I have so much wealth, more I will get tomorrow. I have killed this my enemy, the rest too I will kill. I am a lord and king of men, I am perfect, accomplished, strong, happy, fortunate, a privileged enjoyer of the world; I am wealthy, I am of high birth; who is there like unto me? I will sacrifice, I will give, I will enjoy.”

    Thus occupied by many egoistic ideas, deluded, doing works, but doing them wrongly, acting mightily, but for themselves, for desire, for enjoyment, not for God in themselves and God in man, they fall into the unclean hell of their own evil. They sacrifice and give, but from a self-regarding ostentation, from vanity and with a stiff and foolish pride. In the egoism of their strength and power, in the violence of their wrath and arrogance they hate, despise and belittle the God hidden in themselves and the God in man. And because they have this proud hatred and contempt of good and of God, because they are cruel and evil, the Divine casts them down continually into more and more Asuric births. Not seeking him, they find him not, and at last, losing the way to him altogether, sink down into the lowest status of soul-nature, adhama ̄m ̇ gatim. [no, this is not a religious dogma consigning the egoistic to hell; it is a purely psychological observation, that the egoistic create their own hell – and at any moment, it is always potentially possible for them to turn to the Divine and surrender]

  2. Scott Preston says :

    “I believe the Earth is flat. Therefore, the Earth is flat. And it is so because I’m a big fan of logic and reason”.

    No kidding. I’ve heard arguments very much like this, particularly from the Alt-Right so-called. Nothing you can do with such people who are so mired in self-deception.

    • donsalmon says :

      Who created the world?


      What is God?

      He is the creator of the world.


      • donsalmon says :

        Modern day materialist cience, by the way, is no better than this in terms of explanations.

          • Scott Preston says :

            Thanks. That’s a really important essay. I’ve printed it out and will be going through it again.

            • mikemackd says :

              Likewise, Steve. I have also downloaded some more of his essays available in English via links on Wikipedia. I did not know of him before.

            • donsalmon says :

              Thanks Steve,

              Like Mike, I hadn’t heard of him, though the style was quite familiar from other Anthroposophists I’ve read.

              It’s very clever – they seem to have part of the materialism critique down, better than most philosophers. Arthur Zajonc, an internationally renowned nuclear physicist (and Alan Wallace’s physics professor at Amherst) was the president of the American Anthroposophical Society for some years. I talked with him in NYC, and discovered that he had explored the connections between Buddhism and Anthroposophy at least in part due to Alan’s influence.

              Zajonc is a most poetic writer, and explores many of the themes we see here at Chrysalis. But Zajonc himself is a good critic of the Anthroposophical science movement. They have a piece of it, but they really haven’t come up with anything significant in terms of qualitative methodologies (Steiner got his start with a thesis on Goethe’s alternative, phenomenological color theory – “saving us from Newton’s single vision”).

              I agree with Zajonc’s critique and I think the core of the problem is that Steiner himself confused mind and Spirit. Mirra Alfassa (aka “the Mother”) seems to have agreed, and as we go further into the 21st century, I see less and less influence from the Steiner folks (except for the Waldorf schools which still retain some popularity). That’s too bad, since the good aspects of their science critique could make a significant contribution.

            • Scott Preston says :

              I agree with Zajonc’s critique and I think the core of the problem is that Steiner himself confused mind and Spirit

              Rosenstock-Huessy makes much the same charge against Steiner as well, accusing him of “gnosticism”. It’s very peculiar that Gebser makes no mention of Steiner in EPO at all.

              However, I don’t think this is an accurate accessment of Steiner’s intent in his philosophy of “thinking as spiritual activity”. It is alchemical. I think Steiner is right not to dichotomise mind and spirit as mysticism does. In fact, in German “mind” and “spirit” are pretty much the same word Geist. So Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit could probably have just as well been translated as Phenomenology of Mind.

              Schweitzer also objects to the mystification of spirit and to the dichotomisation of mind and spirit, and that’s the basis for his final rejection of Eastern mysticism as definitive, really. This is the same issue that Jackson Lee Ice explores in his essay on Schweitzer’s thought that dadaharm posted in the comments earlier.


              Although Gebser appreciated Jung’s work, he also thought that Jung was too much under the spell of “psychism”, which is odd because Jung often thought of others as too much under the spell of “mentalism”. Perhaps Gebser meant by that that Jung was too much the “gnostic”.

              The relationship between the physical, the mental, the psychical and the spiritual (or body, ind, soul, and spirit) is a very subtle one, and there are really no identifiable boundaries between them. They are sometimes spoken of as “sheaths” or “matrices” — somewhat like those Russian Matryoshka dolls. But in effect, there isn’t anything that isn’t “spiritual”, otherwise Gebser’s “diaphaneity” or “transparency of the world” would reveal nothing about our “camouflage universe” (as Seth calls it) at all. Mind, body, soul, spirit (or mental, physical, psychical, and spiritual) are all aspects of the fourfold “Self”.

              In those terms, Steiner is not incorrect to raise thinking to a spiritual activity. This isn’t the problem. The problem comes from taking the divisions too seriously, or especially attempting to reduce or subordinate the spiritual to the merely mental, or the physical, or the psychistic. That would be the “non-integral” approach.

              For all practical purposes, you could take the physical, the mental, the psychic, and the spiritual as also the four points or vectors of Rosenstock’s “cross of reality” or of the Sacred Hoop, and not disregarding the unity of their being through their relationship via the “vital centre” of the cross of the hoop. And you can also surmise that Gebser’s four structures of consciousness are associated with one of these “matrices”, since a structure is a matrix. These are probably the same as what Seth refers to as “species of consciousness” (ie, tribes of consciousness or families of consciousness or speciations of consciousness). And, of course, every one of them thinks it’s the only normal, universal one, and the centre of the cosmos.

              So, Gebser’s “universal way of looking at things” means not getting stuck in the “tribes” of the physical, the mental, the psychical, or the spiritual exclusively, although it is also the gist of blake’s proverb of Hell that “if the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise”. This has really been the history of the unfoldings of consciousness, corresponding to Gebser’s “effective” and “deficient” modes of a consciousness structure (wisdom and folly).

              The peculiar thing about Gebser’s four (or five) structures of consciousness in those terms is how they uncannily resemble the four or five “states of matter” — solid, liquid, gaseous, plasma (or the fifth — the Bose-Einstein condensate), but which are, actually, states of energy. You can imagine people arguing till hell freezes over about whether they are states of matter of states of energy when they are both.

            • donsalmon says :

              In reply to Scott’s post about Steiner:

              I’d probably do better to use Sanskrit terms, since “spirit” can be quite vacuous.

              Whatever they are, the manas and buddhi are not the same as the Atman.

              Steiner conflates them – that’s all I was trying to say. Gebser is quite confused about them as well. As far as Steiner’s rejection of the “East,” I have to say, I’ve now read at least two dozen commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita. For some years I thought Zaehner’s was by far the worst, then I came across Steiner’s. Neither Steiner nor Barfield understand anything about Indian philosophy – and that’s putting it mildly!

            • Scott Preston says :

              Well, we’ve been down that road before… and I still can’t agree that Oriental philosophy is complete or the acme and last word in human spiritual evolution and understanding. I can’t accept that. I see its limitations. Nietzsche’s and Schweitzer’s critique of Eastern mysticism is valid, and is furthermore acknowledged as valid by many in the Eastern tradition.

              I should add that this didn’t prevent them from recognising the value and profundities of the East. Both Nietzsche and Schweitzer are quite indebted to it at the same time they recognised its limitations.

            • donsalmon says :

              Schweitzer had absolutely no understanding of Indian philosophy. None. very very confused about it. Nor about mysticism in general, for that matter. Still a great guy, but we all have our limitations.

              As for “eastern mysticism” (which one of the thousands of varieties???) being the be all and end all, that’s very far from anything I wrote.

              I simply said Gebser and Steiner are very confused about the difference between buddhi and Atman.

              Blake understood the difference, by the way.

            • donsalmon says :

              Here, I’ll try to make it a bit clearer.

              “Manas” refers to the capacity to link together sensations into perceptions, and as it is generally used, refers to the emotions associated with those perceptions, so it is sometimes referred to as the sensory and emotional mind.

              “Buddhi” refers to the capacity to distinguish and discriminate among different phenomena. It includes the ability to be self-aware, to make decision, plan, etc. In this it is very close to the role of the prefrontal cortex as understood by contemporary neuroscience.

              the “Atman” is the Awareness which includes and transcends the universe. (depending on whether it is the Mahat or Shanta Atman that is being spoken of. This is close to the meaning, respectively, of the Cosmic Christ and the Godhead, and from my nearly half century study of world religions, is very solidly rooted in Kabbalistic understanding, Sufism, and mystic Christianity as well as Buddhism, Hinduism and Taoism, among others. Alan Wallace describes the parallels beautifully (better than Huston Smith) in his ‘Mind in the Balance.”

              Most genuine mystics and sages the world understand the distinctions here made between manas, buddhi and Atman. It has nothing to do with East and West. Gebser, Steiner, Schweitzer and Nietzsche don’t. That’s not an unfair criticism. I’m sure many sages and mystics wouldn’t know how to solve a minor 9th chord, or how to compose a rondo. It doesn’t take away from what they do know.

              It has nothing to do with East, West, North or South.

            • Scott Preston says :

              Well, what distinguishes Buddhism from other traditions in the East is the doctrine of Anatman — variously translated as No-Mind, No-Self, No-Soul. Buddha called this “the Ultimate Truth” because he probed for the foundations of existence further and deeper than the other truth traditions. Atman was, as far as Buddha was concerned, a false category and a limitation on the realisation of Ultimate Truth.

              Buddhi, as far as I can glean from Blake’s poetics, is what is called divine “Intellect” or “divine Imagination” which is the universal “Christ”. In other words, pretty much what is called “Buddha Nature” or “Buddha Mind”. Buddhi, being the formative power in that sense, is what Steiner calls “the creative forces” which are transpersonal. So, in a sense I suppose the doctrine of anatman might be deemed “transpersonal” in that sense as well.

              Most Buddhists do wrestle with the issue of “Atman” and “Anatman” because they are still attached to Atman. Commonlhy encountered question is: “if there is no ultimate “Self” or Soul, what is it that gets enlightened?”

              Quite evidently, what is involved with buddhi is the issue of intent or intentionality of consciousness, because it is not just discernment but formative. Hence the saying that “he who sees the action that is in inaction is wise indeed”. This intentionality is what Schweitzer recognises as the universal “will-to-live” — to complete actualisation, manifestation, or realisation of itself and which is otherwise called “creative forces” or Bolte-Taylor’s “Life Force Power of the Universe” and is in that sense “anatman”.

            • donsalmon says :

              Alan Wallace, a tibetan Buddhist monk for 17 years, and later possessed of a doctorate in world religions, has made it abundantly clear in all of his books that the “anatta” that the Buddha talked of is not even related to “Atman.” They’re not talking about the same thing. The Buddha specifically said in some of the texts that are the closest to what we have of his words that “I am not denying the Self” (nor was he asserting it). He was talking about something entirely different.

              As far as Schweitzer writing anything that remotely relates to a direct understanding of the Cosmic Christ, perhaps there are writings of his I haven’t seen. I’ve never seen anything he’s written remotely related to this.

            • Scott Preston says :

              I don’t think it really matters whether Schweitzer called it “Cosmic Christ” or something else (which he did). That’s pretty clear from Jackson Lee Ice’s essay on Schweitzer’s ethical mysticism.

              “To relate oneself in the spirit of reverence for life to the multiform manifestations of the will-to-live which together constitute the world is ethical mysticism – -the essence of which is just this: that out of my unsophisticated and naive existence in the world there comes, as a result of thought about self and the world, spiritual self-devotion to the mysterious infinite Will which is continuously manifested in the universe”

              Now since the Christ also described himself as “The Way, The Truth, and the Life”, which underlines the notion of “the Cosmic Christ”, it doesn’t really matter whether Schweitzer spoke of “Cosmic Christ” or in some other idiom, such as the “mysterious Infinite Will which is continuously manifested in the Universe” and to which his own particular will-to-live was intimately connected or a manifestation.

              Now Blake’s desire to annihilate the Selfhood in him completely is anatman. And likewise, Jill Bolte-Taylor’s great reluctance — trauma in fact — to return to her “teeny tiny body” from her soaring in “Nirvana” are quite parallel. What makes the decision that she should return to her body? As identical with the vastness of the Life Force Power her own body seemed like a molecule. And when she reanimates the body, she is then astonished at the “trillions of molecular geniues” in turn that make up her body. Everything has the same “will-to-live”. Everything has Buddha Nature. Even the trillions of “genius” molecules of her body are avatars of the Life Force Power of the Universe. That’s anatman. “Nothing has self-nature”. Everything is empty of self-nature. Or, as Blake put it equally, “the world in a grain of sand”. Neither does the sand have self-nature.

              so, this “life force power of the universe” is the same as Gebser’s “ever-present origin”. There is nothing before, behind, or beneath the ever-present origin. It is infinite and eterenal because it has no limit of time or space, but is the origin itself of all that is spatial and temporal. Buddhists refer to that as “the unoriginated and the unconditioned”. Gebser just calls it “the Itself”, but uses that expression both for the ever-present origin and for its realisation as the “diaphainon”, which is also anatman or “no-self”. And whether instead we call it “Buddha Mind” or “Cosmic Christ” is of very little account.

              Westerners particularly (but certainly not exclusively) have a particularly difficult time with anatman. They either confuse it with the infinitisation of the ego-consciousness or fear it means their identity and awareness will be extinguished or swallowed up by cosmic darkness. So they do a lot of being about the bush, or mental jigs and acrobatics around the issue. None of that happened to Bolte-Taylor, neither extinguishment of the flame of awareness nor infinitisation of the ego-consciousnes (or what is called “psychic inflation”).

              So, Schweitzer’s question is just this: “OK, assuming we are this Life Force Power of the Universe, and we know that we are, what now?” How to act in life and the world on that knowledge? This is the basis of his reverence for life, and his ethical action.

              As Blake points out, though, Jesus did not act from “morals” but from “ethos” — or what he calls “impulse” because Jesus lived from the “vital centre” or ever-present origin or life-force power of the universe or whatever you wish to call it. Therefore he had not need for a “morality” as such, or a system of ethics. He just went about “doing God’s will” as he put it — by faith, a faith that comes from being identical with, or knowing oneself as one with, this “Life Force Power of the Universe”. But what Jesus lived by “impulse” or faith, as it were, Schweitzer feels a need to articulate, explain, and systematise. He certainly wouldn’t feel the need to do that if everyone lived from “the vital centre” already.

            • donsalmon says :

              J C Chatterji was born, lived and died in India, a native Indian, one of the greatest “Pandits” of the 20th century. He pointed out that all the terms used for Nirvana “unborn, unoriginated and unconditioned” were borrowed by the Buddha from the Upanishads. The Buddha himself made clear – numerous times – that “I am not teaching anything new but the ancient dharma.” Yes, not only Westerners have trouble with “Atman” – by the Buddha’s time, it had been reified as a separate self-center, the Buddha simply presented anatta as a treatment for that mistake, not to refute the unborn, unoriginated, unconditioned.” The Upanishads and other pre-Buddhist texts described Nirvana in exactly the same terms – the blowing out of the separate self.

              As far as the “life force” is concerned, it’s really a matter of the music. If you hear Beethoven in Schweitzer’s words whereas I hear Neil Sedaka, well, that’s music, I suppose.

            • donsalmon says :

              Come to think of it, as far as Gebser on evolutionary spirituality, I think it’s worthwhile to take him at his word:

              Be it noted that my concept of the formation of a new consciousness, of which I became aware by a flash-like intuition in the winter of 1932/33, and which I began to put forward in 1939, largely resembles the world-scheme of Sri Aurobindo, who was then unknown to me. My own, however, differs from Sri Aurobindo’s in that it appeals to the Western world only and does not have the profundity and the pregnant origin of his ingeniously presented conception. I see an explanation for this phenomenon in the fact that I was in some way brought into the extremely powerful spiritual field of force radiating through Sri Aurobindo.[1]

            • Scott Preston says :

              I should probably add that Schweitzer is very critical of “religion” generally, including Christianity and a lot of Christian mysticism that concerns itself only with unity with the Absolute which does not lead back into life and to action in the world. He shares that with Nietzsche and Nietzsche’s Life Philosophy. And it’s quite valid critique of mysticism of all kinds.

              In that respect, I think Schweitzer is quite right. There’s something amiss when Tat Tvam Asi (foundational to Hindu mysticism) leads to aberrations like Hindu Nationalism, or “compassion” and “loving-kindness” leads to aberrations like Japan’s “Imperial Way Buddhism” or “National Buddhism”, or the venalities of Thai Buddhism and when Buddhist monks lead ethnic cleansing campaigns in Myanmar, or the Islamic “malaise” or the various aberrant forms of Christianity or Jewish mysticism for that matter (pretty much appropriated by Zionism). Somehow, the root values expressed aren’t being translated into effective ethical action in regards to life.

              For Nietzsche that was the effect of “otherworldliness” and corresponding contempt for THIS world. Schweitzer’s existentialism is just that — an engagement with life in this world that he thinks all that is called “religion” has devalued and debased.

            • donsalmon says :

              The idea of India and the East in general being otherworldly is funny, given that India and China were the wealthiest cultures on the planet at a time when Europeans were mostly living in rather barbaric conditions (i’m talking about the European middle ages).

              If fundamentalists in India or Japan are acting as a result of correct understanding of the Upanishads, then by the same logic, Christian fundamentalists are in themselves the proof that all of Christianity is invalid.

              In fact, there was much more “world positive” spirituality in India, China and japan than most Westerners who have only superficial acquaintance with those writings have any idea of. I remember from my music history days how utterly “unworldly” the medieval Christians were, considering all musical instruments the instrument (literally) of the devil.

              having written all of this, I also agree with you Scott. Sri Aurobindo was fond of saying “the age of religions is over.” He too indicted the East, particularly India, for being drunk with the Spirit, though he also observed as a top student at Cambridge that Western Europe never really understood Christianity, which in its origins was very much an Asian religion, and was mostly distorted, first by the Romans, and later by the Protestants, into something Jesus would have found completely unrecognizable.

              Look again at Gebser’s statement on Sri Aurobindo.

            • Scott Preston says :

              Aurobindo is an innovation also, someone who transitioned from Hindu nationalism to universalism. Aurobindo’s enlightenment came while sitting in a British prison for his nationalist activities. As he quipped, he couldn’t thank the British enough for imprisoning him. Aurobindo’s vision certainly isn’t conventional or traditional. If it were not an innovation, no one would profit anything from paying attention to it. I mean, it’s quite obvious from reading Aurobindo that he’s attempting to synchronise and coordinate Eastern and Western systems of thought, philosophies, or modes of consciousness. That’s what distinguishes him from Gebser, who paid very little attention to synchronising and coordinating Western modes of thought with Eastern until much later, after EPO was published.

            • Scott Preston says :

              I’ve read quite a ways into Boaz’ first essay. I’m not sure why you think he’s more enlightened than Blake, Steiner, Bolte-Taylor or, for that matter, an Eckhart Tolle too. He gives no indication that he has any direct, immediate, and personal experience of the kind experienced by the others. He writes like a witness to other people’s experience. But it’s really not that complex, as John Wren-Lewis’s essay below (that Steve linked to) tries to explain. It’s really all very simple, and it does need systematising or psychologising — parable and poetics, aphorism and art, song and dance, those are the preferred discourses of those who have direct and immediate experience ultimate truth.

              Boaz is a Gnostic, for sure. In fact, that’s his ideal — “homo gnostica”, as he puts it. Certainly, I think, Schweitzer, for example, rejects that kind of gnosticism because for him the problem is now “how do we know”, but “how shall we live”. Rosenstock-Huessy rejected gnosticism for the same reason.

            • donsalmon says :

              not sure what else I can say, Scott. It’s really about music. Debussy hated Bach’s “sewing machine” music, as he called it. one of my composition teachers (Charles Wuorinen) told me that in many ways, Debussy was far more radical than many of the later 20th century composers. Interestingly, my computer music teacher (won’t say his name here) found Debussy incomprehensible because he wasn’t “logical” enough. Debussy himself, in music school, was flummoxed by the “rules” (no parallel fifths, they told him, even though most medieval music was based on parallel fifths).

              We’re hearing different music. neither wrong nor right. just different.

              I love Bach also.

    • InfiniteWarrior says :

      Nothing you can do with such people who are so mired in self-deception.

      Except, maybe…hit the pause and reflect button?

      If that doesn’t work, there is always the “shake the dust from off your feet,” option.

      • mikemackd says :

        Scott’s comment above reminded me of one in Mumford’s “Men Must Act” (New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co. 1939).

        “We must put aside our childish credulity about the possibility of civilizing the fascists: the policy of appeasement makes the lion stronger: it does not remove his teeth or lesson his ferocity”

        In effect he was saying, “it’s too late for the pause and reflect button: we must exercise the shake the dust from off our feet option”

        Elsewhere he says:

        “With a free society as our goal, we must restrict freedom to those who would destroy it. These are bitter paradoxes. Like the necessity for arming briskly against fascism, they imply a temporary defeat for our common civilization. It is only, however, by making the best of this temporary defeat that we can avoid a more permanent one: the victory of fascism.”

        Such paradoxes were bitter then, and are now: are we any better equipped to mentally address them now?

        Finally, not really relevant here but I saw it on pp. 52-53 and thought it a bit The Matrixy:

        “Probably the most serious mistake a civilized man can now make is to assume that the fundamental values of life have not been altered in the fascist countries. Traveling through Germany or Italy, the naive observer sees lovers kissing, mothers nursing babies, honest peasants cleaving the soil with mattock or shovel: life looks ‘normal.’ . . . The fact that the entire country has become, quite literally, a concentration camp does not even occur to him: . . .

        • Dwig says :

          Cecil Day-Lewis had a different perspective on the situation; he was less enamored of the state and prospects of the society he found himself in. He expressed it succinctly:
          They who in folly or mere greed
          Enslaved religion, markets, laws,
          Borrow our language now and bid
          Us to speak up in freedom’s cause.

          It is the logic of our times,
          No subject for immortal verse –
          That we who lived by honest dreams
          Defend the bad against the worse.

        • Scott Preston says :

          I think the best book I read on the situation in Germany at that time was by the Australian Stephen Roberts’ The House That Hitler Built. Roberts, for some reason, had access to all the high-ranking Nazi officials of the day, too. It is available online, too

        • InfiniteWarrior says :

          I was thinking more along the lines of our friends and relatives; neighbors down the street; and (supposed) strangers on the side opposite our computer screens as opposed to fascists and dictators.

          Can nothing be done to disinter this human soul? The whole neighborhood would rush to save this woman if she were buried alive by the caving in of a pit, and labor with zeal until she were dug out. Now if there were one who had as much patience as zeal, he might awaken her to a consciousness of her immortal— ~ The Miracle Worker, Act II

          The Parable of the Lost Lamb comes to mind.

  3. abdulmonem says :

    No matter how up you fly in your mental sophistication, no matter how far you meander across the different cultures of the world or different human thoughts, you can not miss, in the context of your innocence, the primordial divine energy that gives forms to all manifestations physical and non-physical. Remembering the three energetic forces that keep the game of life, under the watch of the one, running, the negative the positive and the human force and field through which the forces interact, leaving him/her either in the realm of the negative or in the realm of the positive or straddling between the two poles. Mere looking on our world you can not but feel how the negatives and the straddling forces are reining the human scene despite the attempts of the corrective souls to amend. It is stillness in his stillness that prepare the soul to be an effective correcting tool in its personal field before becoming an effective tool in the communal field,remembering that the result is not a human desire but a divine will. It is what he wants not what you want. Schuon the friend of Guneon in the search for the real said the greatest calamity is the loss of the center and the abandon of the soul to the caprices of the periphery, emphasizing to be always at the center. He also said that the worth of the humans is in their consciousness of the absolute. Language is our tool to deploy meaning,once the words used have no reference or reverence to the real the language shrinks to ward death. We need epistemological humility and honesty in order to let the language restores its vitality. Those who have moulded the humans thought in the frame of the sense perception only, have thrown the world in the mess the world is crying from. As one of the poet said, How little we know, how much to discover. What psychic forces flow from lover to lover. Life is the first name of god, no wonder our African hero called for the reverence of life. Revering the part is revering the whole but a better path is to start with revering the whole because the parts are so diverse and so many it is impossible to cover all the parts that is why we are requested to start our adoration with the one in his silent aloneness. Why all this hiding, he replied, pure your heart in order to see me.

  4. donsalmon says :

    Sri Aurobindo’s writings on Hinduism bear no relationship whatsoever to the Hindu fundamentalism of today. You have to know his writings on nationalism from his “ideal of Human Unity” to understand the context in which he used the term “nationalism.”

    As far as the time of his transition, he had the experience of Nirvana when he first set foot on Indian soil, some years before he was imprisoned.

    • Scott Preston says :

      That’s not how its described in his memoirs of prison life and being held in solitary confinement. According to Aurobindo, it was in solitary confinement that he had his awakening (or he was awakened by the visitations of the spirit of Vivekananda

      He says it was Vivekananda who taught him the doctrine and meaning of the Supramental over three weeks while he was being held in solitary confinement.

      • donsalmon says :

        I didn’t see anything in there resembling what you wrote. spirit of vivek ananda; awakening; these are all vague terms that have little to do with what he wrote.

        we’re talking about beethoven and neil sedaka again and probably best to leave it at that.

        • Scott Preston says :

          Huh? Those links I provided weren’t to someone putting words in Aurobindo’s mouth. They are Aurobindo’s own memoirs of his time in prison. They ARE what he wrote.

          I’m reading your Boaz links presently. Will take me a while I think. I’ll see what he has to say about stuff that is apparenlty so much more enlightened than Gebser, Blake, Steiner, etc. But that might take me a while.

  5. mikemackd says :

    Our left hemispheres have trouble coming to terms with both the extreme simplicity and extreme complexity of it all. In fact, they can’t. Simplicity’s too boring for them: no development there. Complexity’s too daunting for them: no development there.

    Using modern parlance, I quoted Mumford a few days ago speaking of the emergent simplicity that arrives beyond the edge of chaos at a phase transition, then that complexifies, another transition simplifies … and so on.
    There’s a short story by Leo Tolstoy called “Where Love Is, There God Is Also”. It’s clearly a tale for children, but at one stage a man came to visit the bootmaker Martin. Martin’s whole family had predeceased him.

    Martin talked with him and began to complain about his sorrows.
    “I have no desire to live any longer,” he said, “I only wish I was dead. That is all I pray God for. I am a man with nothing to hope for now.”
    “You don’t talk right, Martin,” said the little old man. “We must not judge God’s doings. You are in despair because you wish to live for your own happiness.”
    “But what shall one live for?” Martin asked.
    “We must live for God, Martin. He gives you life, and for His sake you must live. When you begin to live for Him, you will not grieve over anything, and all will seem easy to you.”
    Martin was silent for a moment, and then said, “But how can one live for God?”

    The little old man told Martin to read the bible. All very well, if you can read. But when Jesus said in that bible, “unless you turn and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom”, was he talking about only turning and becoming like children who can read?

    Or was it more like turning and becoming like Bolte-Taylor described? As an avid reader, I think what was said in that Massimo Scaligero link Steve gave relates to that:

    “It is not easy to make people understand that we are not alluding to any particular philosophy, to any particular doctrine, but to a possibility inherent in the act of cognition itself, which is implicit in every philosophy, in every form of culture; something which is there but has so far only cast a shadow, a reflection, a dialectical projection of itself.”

    Doesn’t that bring us back to McGilchrist’s interpretation of our right hemisphere’s access to the EPO, and T.S. Eliot’s “We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time”?

    That which thinks not by the mind
    By which, they say, the mind is thought
    That is Truth
    Not that which is worshipped here [by primitive capitalism] as such.

      • Scott Preston says :

        Yes, I remember reading John Wren-Lewis’s essay on that some time ago. Thanks for bringing it back to my attention again. His experience was quite like my “dream of the fish”, particularly that part about the “dazzling dark”. His book The Unfolding Now is really quite good.

        Wren-Lewis states in his essay that he’s assembling a book about his experience. Apparently he never finished it or abandoned it, although he has a number of other essays on it. I’ll have to see if I can round them up.

          • Steve Lavendusky says :

            Spiritual development, I think, has two dimensions: heightening and refining consciousness, thus reaching toward heaven, and strengthening and stabilizing the spirit, thus grounding ourselves upon the earth. Many people talk about the first way but ignore the second.

            • Steve Lavendusky says :

              “I haven’t got any special religion this morning. My God is the God of Walkers. If you walk hard enough, you probably don’t need any other God.” – Bruce Chatwin, In Patagonia

            • mikemackd says :

              I think so, too, Steve. And it’s possible that one must be integrated to perform those processes sustainably, and one must be regularly engaged in such processes to be sustainably integrated.

              In other words, Krishnamurti’s injunction to “drop it”, “it” being the Emissary’s grab for mastery, is a necessary but insufficient precondition for mental balance as described by McGilchrist, which is itself a necessary but insufficient precondition for those co-evolutionary processes to be sustainable.

              I read abdulmonem’s comment below as referring to the same processes, but, as usual, far more poetically than I.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              ‘Keep your head in the Cosmos and your feet planted firmly on the ground’ has been my mantra for many years.

              Scott might argue that there are four, radiating out from “the center.” In the context of Rosenstock’s “Cross of Reality,” the dimensions we may actually be forgetting are the outstretched “arms” respresented in the four-fold figure to which he, among others in their respective cultures and tongues, constantly refer.

      • Scott Preston says :

        I think if you read John Wren-Lewis’s essay and compare it with Rumi’s poem “Green Ears” you’ll find some pretty interesting similarities.

    • abdulmonem says :

      Our soul is our only perceptual tool irrespective of all its different manifestations and their apparent division, memory ,imagination,thinking , sensing, intuiting feeling,retention, retrieving. the subject and the object and the form and the formless. Our mission is to be disciple for the divine knowledge who has put in us all these faculties to understand the paradox and to move beyond the paradox and never to fall in the trap of the other even if that other is a prophet. Each has to create his own perceptual stand before leaving and refrain from losing his divine uniqueness in the others. God the effective force for those who want to feel his effectiveness, is open to let his spirit reach all seekers honestly desiring to climb the ladder up to him.

    • InfiniteWarrior says :

      Our left hemispheres have trouble coming to terms with both the…simplicity and…complexity of it all.

      Naturally, I’m reminded of “pop culture” link…of sorts.

      Murtaugh: Why you got to make things so complicated?
      Riggs: I don’t make things complicated. That’s just the way things get all by themselves.

      ~ Lethal Weapon

      Really? That’s not my experience. : / Perhaps our left hemispheres tend to complicate the “complex” when the “complex” Itself just is.

      Not sure how to put this, but there was commentary recently surrounding “the Truth that sets free” as opposed to “the truth’ that changes or mutates. I didn’t quite follow that as I don’t get the sense that it’s the truth that changes or mutates so much as our understanding of Truth. Could be wrong, but TDAB made a very distinct distinction between “fact” and “truth,” at many junctures, and I was thinking it was for that reason.

      Anyone have any enlightening books, articles, quotes, etc. to share on the subject? I’d like to get this one straight.

      • Scott Preston says :

        Actually, if you read into that Boaz article on Noetics that donsalmon posted above, although it’s a bit Ptolemaic and turgid, he does speak to the issue of Ultimate Truth and Relative Truth.

        Ultimate Truth (or revealed truth) is the “truth that sets free”, while “Relative Truth” pertains to “the facts of the matter”, and is not revealed so much as reasoned, the root meaning of “fact” being “a made thing” or something made. Ultimate Truth, then, is not something we ourselves make compared to “fact”.

        Clearly, in this distinction between Ultimate Truth and Relative Truth, or between the “truth that sets free” and “the facts of the matter”, we are dealing with McGilchrist’s Master mode of consciousness and Emissary mode of consciousness and their meaning

        • InfiniteWarrior says :

          Ultimate Truth, then, is not something we ourselves make compared to “fact”.

          Isn’t that what I just said (and you said over and over in TDAB days)?

          “Relative Truth?” What is that? “The truth [found] in relationship,” in other words, maybe? “The truth that lies somewhere in between?”

          Everyone speaks as if we each carry part of the Truth within us. I think we’re all interconnected in the same Truth. Could be wrong, but somehow I doubt it.

          People can make up all the “facts” they like, but Truth is Truth. Period. Truth “resonates” with us. It “rings true” to us regardless of “instruction” or “conditioning” or “background” or what-have-you.

          • Scott Preston says :

            No. That’s not it at all. Relative Truth is mutable, therefore time-bound and time-dependent. Ultimate Truth is the same as “eternal verity”. Relative Truth is changeable, even though it may well be the reflection within temporality of Ultimate Truth. That is, after all, what Blake means by “Ulro” or the parable of Plato’s Cave. The shadows are semblances of Ultimate Truth, but not the truth itself — or better, “reflections” in the mind.

            This is, after all, the meaning of Blake’s Proverb of Hell that “anything possible to be believed is an image of truth”. That is what describes the relationship between Relative and Ultimate Truth, or, put another way, the facts of the matter and the truth that sets free.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              Truth is mutable, therefore time-bound and time-dependent.

              This is where we part ways. Truth is not dependent on anything or any-think.

              I think I now understand why some Christians insist that “‘God’ exists beyond time and space”– what we might refer to (as Rosenstock did) as the mind’s ‘virtual reality” — or our “rehearsal space.”

              “Good luck on the Path, Witcher.”

            • mikemackd says :

              I see relative truth as that which whizzes by in spacetime; I am not in the same position I was day ago. It is true this was typed now, it isn’t that it was then.

              Although we all know it, it’s probably as well to insert a reminder here of the first chapter of the Tao Te Ching:


              The Tao that can be expressed is not the eternal Tao;

              The name that can be defined is not the unchanging name.

              Non-existence is called the antecedent of heaven and earth;

              Existence is the mother of all things.

              From eternal non-existence, therefore, we serenely observe the mysterious beginning of the universe;

              From eternal existence we clearly see the apparent distinctions.

              These two are the same in source and become different when manifested.

              This sameness is called profundity.

              Infinite Profundity is the gate whence comes the beginning of all parts of the universe.


              P.S. Speaking of the Tao, a friend of mine put an Alan Watts You Tube on my Facebook page today. Made me think of McGilchrist when Watts said “thinking is a good servant but a bad master”, and “we are so tied up in our minds that we have lost our senses”.

            • Scott Preston says :

              Ultimate Truth is not dependent upon what we think. Fact is dependent upon what we think, whether it is accurate or erroneous, or, in Gebser’s terms, “effective” or “deficient” which are really utilitarian values.

              And Gebser is quite right, the creed of the Emissary is utilitarianism. It’s fundamental tautology is “what is true is what works. What works is what is true”. And that is what it is supposed to do. The Emissary exists for use — survival in physical reality; navigating the spatio-temporal matrix.

              But… the spatio-temporal matrix is camouflage — every bit of it. The Emissary exists for use, and its creed is appropriately utilitarian or pragmatic. The Master, though, does not exist for the Emissary’s use. It is that to which the Emissary owes its being, its purpose, its raison d’etre.

              You can take a notebook. You can write down everything you think you know or feel you know about “truth”.– all the facts of the matter about “truth”. You’ll never leave the domain of the Emissary with that approach (or what Castaneda calls “the tonal”). Same for “CAT”. You can record everthing you think you know about cat, and everything you feel about CAT. You’ll still never arrive at the truth of Cat by that route. Because Cat is as much part of the camouflage as everything else.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              You’ll never leave the domain of the Emissary with that approach (or what Castaneda calls “the tonal”).

              Depends, doesn’t it, on what one means by “tonal?” If you’re referring to the (physical, mundane) “senses” alone, it might make sense. If you’re referring to the “supersenses,” not so much.

              I’ve had enough of “sight” — a patriarchal construct — alone.


            • Scott Preston says :

              Yes, that quote from the Tao Te Ching captures the distinction between ultimate and relative quite nicely.

        • mikemackd says :

          One may retort, “no Mike, it’s absolutely true that It is true this was typed now, it isn’t that it was then.” But that’s in spacetime, which is relative – (relate-ive).

  6. abdulmonem says :

    C S Lewis put it this way, there are only two kind of people,those who say to god at the end,Thy will be done and those who god says to them at the end, thy will be done. The relative in relation to the absolute. Another theologian put it, there are, only two options, either for god or against god and the choice is left to the human.

    • InfiniteWarrior says :

      The relative in relation to the absolute.

      Or the truth in relation to the Truth, us are one and the same in my book. Otherwise, we would have no need to speak of “universal.”

      • InfiniteWarrior says :

        Correction (I’m upset), Universal correlates the two. There.

      • Scott Preston says :

        I would have presumed it would be obvious what Relative Truth refers. Someone once called facts of the matter the “trivial truths”. That 1 +1 = 2 is a trivial truth, a relative truth. That I have a cat and the cat’s name is “Little One” is a trivial or relative truth. That A = A is a trivial or relative truth. They are relative because any one of them is open to contradiction. There are apparently proofs that 1 + 1 can be made to equal 0. My cat couldn’t give a hoot that the name I gave it is “Little One”. And Ayn Rand thinks that the problem with Americans is that they’ve forgotten that A = A. Hah.

  7. abdulmonem says :

    Schuon a french sufi said the only way to encounter false ideologies is by the truth, the truth that has always been and that we could never invent, since it exists outside us and above us. There is only one truth and speaking of relative truth is a violation of the oneness of truth after all god is the truth. The water is very deep and those who have no trust in god can say anything. The problem of humanity ever since the start.

  8. Scott Preston says :

    OK. Let’ approach this another way. Ultimate Truth and Relative Truth we’ve said here correspond to “the truth that sets free” and “the facts of the matter” respectively, and that we are rather sloppy in using truth and fact as synonymous just as we are rather sloppy in using the words “whole” and “total” as synonymous. A concern with facticity or relative truth is only an affair of the Emissary or the “tonal” in don Juan’s terms (the “nagual” by contrast corresponds to “the Master”).

    In fact, Schweitzer’s dilemma in his ethics of reverence for life is precisely this tension between Ultimate Truth (all that lives is holy) and Relative Truth (called “situational”) when it comes to the realm of unfreedom he calls “necessity”. So suddenly his ethic of reverence for life becomes relative or situational.

    Ultimate Truth and Relative Truth refer to what in Buddhism is called, respectively, “the unoriginated, unconditioned, and unconditional” as opposed to “the originated, the conditioned, and the conditional”. In other words, what is not made and what is made, which metaphorically might be referred to as “the Raw and the Cooked” (the name of an old rock album and a book on anthropology). The Raw is the nameless Tao, the Cooked is the named Tao, so to speak. We might call the Cooked today — “Processed Food”, and it is like the “facts of the matter”. Most people today don’t even know where their food comes from — the raw state. That’s the analogy we’re dealing with here. Everything that is deficient about processed food corresponds to “the facts of the matter”. Looks like food; tastes like food; but its pretty denatured food.

    So, in that sense “Raw” would correspond to the Ultimate Truth; “Cooked” (or more akin to “processed”) to the Relative Truth. By extension this Raw and the Cooked, as reflections of the “unoriginated” and the “originated”, correspond to nirvana and samsara, respectively.

    And you can ask in connection with that, what is the difference between Maya and Lila then? Maya is what we call the “camouflage universe” or “cloud of unknowing”. So what changes with Lila? Lila is like Maya and yet not like Maya. What makes Lila different from Maya is precisely discernment between Ultimate and Relative, and in relation to Ultimate is Gebser’s “diaphaneity” or “transparency of the world”.

    Maya is the world of facticity — of the “facts of the matter”. Lila is the world of “the truth that sets free”, when the world is perceived as camouflage for the dance or the play. Same world. Not same world. The metaphor for the Raw and the Cooked is rather neat in that respect.

    • Scott Preston says :

      By the way, rosenstock-huessy’s grammatical philosophy also has an explicit relation between Ultimate Truth and Relative Truth. Relative Truth is the realm of the grammatical matrix, the world of speech forms. It is the cross of reality and of the relationship between the four fronts of that cross — backwards, forwards, inwards, outwards.

      But, says Rosenstock, “God is the power that makes men speak”. This is the “vital centre” of the cross of reality (or of the Sacred Hoop). And this vital centre corresponds to Gebser’s “ever-present origin” which is itself unoriginated and unconditioned by space and time.

      So, the relationship between Ultimate and Relative is right there in the cross of reality, too. Or, as John Wren-Lewis put it citing Blake, “eternity is in love with the productions of time”. That could summarise the meaning of the cross of reality. That’s another way of discerning between Ultimate and Relative, the Raw and the Cooked, the Not-made and the made, or between Lila and Maya.

      (Nothing wrong with cooking, by the way. Some people think “raw” is purer, but it ain’t necessarily so. But you do hope after cooking that it still resembles and functions as food, as nourishment. There is in this relation between the Raw and the Cooked a metaphor for the relationship of Master and Emissary modes of consciousness).

  9. Scott Preston says :

    I thought this morning of a cricumstance where Schweitzer’s ethics might lead him into difficulty. Same thing happened with the ancient Egyptians and their reverence for cats. Here’s how Wikipedia describes the Battle of Pelusium in 525 BC.

    ” according to legend, Cambyses captured Pelusium by using a clever strategy. The Egyptians regarded certain animals, especially cats, as being sacred (they had a cat goddess named Bastet), and would not injure them on any account. Polyaenus claims that Cambyses had his men carry the “sacred” animals in front of them to the attack. The Egyptians did not dare to shoot their arrows for fear of wounding the animals, and so Pelusium was stormed successfully.”

    The Egyptian archers were paralysed by the Persian strategy, horrified at the thought of killing a cat. Although the story is accounted a “legend”, it seems entirely plausible. It would be difficult to just make up something like that. It’s also said that when an Egyptians house caught on fire, his neighbours would save the cat before the human occupants.

    The sphinx is a cat. Most people think of the Great Sphinx of Egypt as a lion but it’s actually a cat. The association of pharoah with the cat makes perfect sense. Cats were protectors of Egypt — particularly grain stores from the plagues of rodents that usually came with regular inundations of the Nile. I can well see how cat and pharoah could become associated in popular consciousness since Egypt’s enemies could easily be seen as akin to plagues of rodents.

    Schweitzer’s ethics of reverence for life could easily lead him into the same Egyptian paralysis. And though Schweitzer might admire the Jains of India for their touching regard for all living things, they, too, are often paralysed to act in the world for fear of harming any living thing, and go to rather extraordinary measures to avoid it.

  10. abdulmonem says :

    Thank you Scott for the inputs. Everything has its own absolute truth in its own right of creation in line with the absolute truth that it produced it. Even relativity has its own truth,meaning there is no relative truth but only one supreme truth that can not be grasped save as Aquinas said through the help of the divine light. Aquinas who corrected the motto of Descartes to read I am therefore I think. The truth of thinking which has been bestowed on the human to know the absolute and to avoid the relative the first step in way of denying the absolute. The danger of association. One has to be careful to fall victim to misleading intellectual formulations. The main message is to be truthful and not to know truth which is not accessible but to the few that is why there is the concept of prophethood. My heart does not feel at rest with the relative truth, I find in it a way of undermining the absolute and throwing humanity in the relative mess where ever one claim his/her relative truth, negating the gathering truth of the One . I like my comment to be taken as an exhalation. of absolute love to relieve humanity from the pain of relative truth.

    • InfiniteWarrior says :

      Everything has its own absolute truth in its own right of creation in line with the absolute truth that it produced it.

      I would say everything, including the “50 trillion beautiful molecular geniuses that make up my form,” in Bolte-Taylor’s terms, is a form of Truth. (Emphasis on the “of.”)

      Many speak of the Universe or Cosmos itself as a “reflection” of Truth whereas the Cosmos, in my estimation, is itself a form of Truth or the “body” of ‘God,’ if you will. This is, perhaps, not something the “left hemisphere” can understand in any meaningful sense, but I’ll try to explain.

      I understand that, in Islam, Truth is considered one of the myriad “names” of Allah, along with Love (or Compassion), et al. This is about as close as we can come to understanding and speaking of ourselves — not as “reflections” — but as “forms” that are at-onement with “the Tao” — that which cannot be named — regardless what we may or may not think. Thus, our prophets speaking in such terms as “I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” No “ego” (which is a man-made construct) involved there.

      I don’t see “relative truth” as a concept or something that “whizzes by” my field of perception. The “relative truths” are you and Mike and Scott and David and Don, ad infinitum. That is how I understand “relative truth.” You are all my relatives…whether you want to be or not. Ah, but you know what they say: “You can pick your friends, but you’re stuck with your relatives.”

      I will leave you with a sentiment you’ve expressed yourself in different words many times over.

      We are a way for the Universe to know itself. ~ Carl Sagan

  11. abdulmonem says :

    Knowing your interest in etymology I read that the meaning of addiction is losing one voice, and I was wondering if addiction to relative truth may cause us lose the voice of absolute truth.

  12. abdulmonem says :

    While at it I like to say that the relative road runs contrary to the fourfold vision you preach and to the integral consciousness you pursue, which all of them call for wholeness.

    • InfiniteWarrior says :

      .the relative road runs contrary to the fourfold vision you preach and to the integral consciousness you pursue, which all of them call for wholeness.

      How so? If you don’t my asking.

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