Having worked as a consultant for a spell at the Aboriginal Healing Project, it’s absolutely gut-wrenching for me to see how little progress seems to have been made in the actual healing of indigenous communities, especially in confronting the epidemic of aboriginal youth suicide. Right here is where building “resilience” has become most pressing. Indigenous people the world over have ever been on the front lines what we call “globalisation”, and more than most suffering the often destructive dynamics of the Megamachine.
Nonetheless, as an elder once said, too: “we’re all in the same canoe”. And he’s quite right. Our societies are broken. The Sacred Hoop is broken and the task of mending it is the Great Work of the Hermetic Philosophy which must enlist everybody’s efforts and support. This is where what Gebser calls “the double-movement” of disintegration and re-integration — or death and resurrection from death — is going to be tested foremost. For here, in these broken aboriginal communities, is where nihilism and its overcoming is becoming a test case for the entire fate of the Earth. As Nietzsche put it “If a man has a why he can put up with any how“, and that’s the secret of resilience. Our why must be, collectively, throwing ourselves into mending the Sacred Hoop. This only will give meaning to our acts and our lives in these times.
One must be careful to discern between science and scientism; likewise economics and economism and not confuse the sound with the unsound. The original ideal of science remains valid. That noble ideal was to liberate the mind from aggregate falsehoods, error, superstition, and dogma that made for the “mind-forg’d manacles,” as William Blake called them, through the clarification of human experience. It therefore ran a course parallel to the Age of Faith in that respect, for what the Age of the Church attempted — redemption of the soul from “sin” through pure faith, the Age of Reason likewise attempted — redemption of consciousness from error through pure reason alone.
But, unfortunately, pure reason and consciousness are not the same thing, even though they were and still are assumed to be so. This is the chief characteristic only of the “mental” structure of consciousness which has now bumped up against its limits of intelligibility and has become, instead, a species of madness itself.
There are diseases of consciousness. That is the meaning, after all, of what Charles Taylor calls “the malaise of modernity” and what Buddhism calls “dukkha“. Malaise and dukkha are the same. The phenomenon of “projection” is a symptom of a disease of consciousness. The healing of consciousness from disease is called “integration” (integrare means “to heal” or “to mend”), and this is essentially what is meant by “purification” of awareness or achieving clarity and the clarification of perception and experience. “Purity” isn’t what most people make of it, nor is it a moral issue at all, nor is the ideal of “perfection”. These matters pertain to healing the diseases of consciousness and perception.
So, this post is about such diseases of consciousness, among which I include scientism (or reductionism) or its apparent antitheses such as “New Age mysticism”. We will explore these issues as diseases of consciousness with the aid of Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy’s grammatical method and “cross of reality”.