The Visionary

“Where there is no vision, a people perish….” Proverbs 29:18

I was once involved in an exchange with political scientist Corey Robin about his book The Reactionary Mind, which soon descended into nastiness. For one thing, I took issue with the book’s reductionist thesis that equated conservatives with reactionaries. Robin’s logic seemed to be that a) modern conservatives are descended from Edmund Burke and his Reflections on The Revolution in France, (the liberal revolution) and b) Burke was a reactionary who sought to roll back the revolution in France and the Age of Revolutions more generally, ergo conservatives are reactionaries and backward looking. By contrast, Mr. Robin identified with the Jacobins, and is also associated with the journal by that name.

Things got rather tense between us when Robin began to lump Nietzsche in with the reactionaries too, but also any “visionary” whatsoever, which is a very strange thing for a revolutionary to argue. I began to suspect Mr. Robin was afflicted with a large dose of cynicism and of post-modern nihilism. Apparently, he hadn’t entertained the meaning of the proverb that without vision the people perish. It was the first thing that popped up in my mind as a response to him.

But if “vision” is so important to a people’s survival, we ought really to understand what it is.

A visionary is a seer. William Blake uses the term “vision” quite a bit, and it doesn’t mean eye-sight, but in reference to that capacity he had to see “thro’ the eye” and not “with the eye”. Blake writes of four aspects of this kind of vision as reflects his mythology of the “four Zoas”; the “single vision” of Newton; the twofold vision, the threefold vision, and the fourfold vision.

Now I a fourfold vision see,
And a fourfold vision is given to me;
‘Tis fourfold in my supreme delight
And threefold in soft Beulah’s night
And twofold Always. May God us keep
From Single vision & Newton’s sleep!1

This “fourfold vision”, symbolised by his “new man” he calls “Albion”, is, I have argued in The Chrysalis, represented also in Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy’s notion of “metanoia” (or “new mind”) and his fourfold “cross of reality” as also symbol of the integral consciousness.

Rosenstock-Huessy’s Basic Cross of Reality

And, in fact, Blake has even illustrated his “fourfold vision” for us to compare with Rosenstock-Huessy’s quadrilateral logic and cross of reality

William Blake — the Fourfold Vision

“Single vision” is the path of his Zoa named Urizen, which is the sphere at the botton. Urizen corresponds to what Jean Gebser calls “the mental-rational consciousness” (or perspectival consciousness), or the idea of “pure reason”. Some people argue that the name “Urizen” means “Your Reason” or is a contraction of “Universal Reason” or even of “Horizon” in the sense of being limited or for the fact that Blake describes Reason as lying on the outward or most external circumference of the soul, and therefore in touch only with the most remote and circumstantial aspects of our full reality which we call “the objective approach” or “the objective attitude”. This is what Jean Gebser describes as “perspectival” consciousness or the mental-rational consciousness.

It should be noted that Blake, like Jean Gebser, distinguishes between authentic Reason (or “Intellect” as he calls it) and mere “rationality”. Urizen, in his reduced, diminished, or fallen aspect is mere rationality. In his “eternal” aspect, he is Intellect. This distinction parallels Jean Gebser’s (and Rosenstock-Huessy’s) distinction between reason and rationality that are confused in “single vision”. Gebser distinguishes between the “effective” mode of the mental-rational consciousness and the “deficient” mode of the mental-rational in much the same sense. The reasonable and the rational are not to be considered synonymous, and this is what also underlies Blake’s objections to Newtonianism.

In that sense, it is precisely “vision” that allows Blake, or Gebser, to perceive that distinction, and that rationality is a decayed form of what Blake calls “Intellect” or what Gebser calls “Reason”. Rationality is but the shadow of true Reason or Intellect, and is part of the “Ulro” in Blake’s mythology. “Ulro” is his term for Maya or samsara, the shadow realm or world of illusion of which Urizen, in his fallen form, is the architect. And in that sense, Urizen is also known as “the Prince of Lies” and is the same as the demon “Mara” in Buddhism also called “Lord of Illusion”.

Now, Urizen is Urizen, and is in conflict with the other Zoas of the divided Humanity, because he does not remember or recall their original, primal unity or integration. This is the “sleep” of Newton. That’s the problem Blake wants to highlight by the idea of “Single Vision”. It is not unified. The only one of the four Zoas, in Blake’s terms, that actually remembers that primal unity is the Zoa named “Los”, known as “the Eternal Prophet”. The Eternal Prophet not only remembers the primal unity of the four Zoas, but is also the visionary of their destiny, the eventual re-integration in futurity as “Albion” or integral consciousness.

This is a second dimension or aspect of fourfold vision — the Prophetic. And this is most likely what the quote from Proverbs is alluding to, the idea of a destiny to be fulfilled already latent, but unrealised or unmanifested, in the present. Futurity is latency. It was the “telos” — the end or purpose or meaning of time.  Vision is what activates that latent potentiality and draws it into actuality in the same way that true recollection or recall draws the past also into presence. So, there is, equivalently also an authentic “vision” that overcomes false memory as illusion and sees what is past as still latent in the present and which also can be “re-membered” or “re-collected” or “re-called”.

So, now we have three aspects for three dimensions of vision, and the fourth is the transparency of the self, and the vision of ever-expanding inwards into worlds of Great Eternity. It is this that Gebser describes also as “time freedom”.

We are now, then, in a good position to understand the meaning of “vision”, the visionary, and Blake’s “fourfold vision”, for the same is also represented in Rosenstock-Huessy’s “cross of reality”, which is a map of vision. Real awareness is vision and is visionary, and that awareness penetrates into the four dimensions of our reality — backwards, forwards, inwards, outwards. We are all visionaries. We just don’t know that we are. To realise it, we have to “cleanse the doors of perception”, as Blake put it because presently “man has closed himself up, till he sees all thing thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern”. This is the “fall into time” and into purely sensate consciousness, which Marty Glass, in his book Yuga: An Anatomy of Our Fate, calls “the Prison of Unreality”.

Vision is what Castaneda describes in his books as seeing. Seeing is what makes a Seer, after all. A Seer is a visionary, and a visionary is one who has gained authentic insight into reality, which insight Gebser calls “diaphaneity” or “the transparency of the world”, and which is the contrary of concealment or opacity.  This concealment or opacity is due to the loss of vision, which results in Glass’s five characteristics of the Kali Yuga or dark age: 1) the Fall into Time, 2) the Reign of Quantity, 3) the Mutation into Machinery, 4) the End of Nature, and 5) the Prison of Unreality. Arguably, the latter four are consequential upon the first, and may be considered the very opposite of Blake’s “fourfold vision”. And since these are diseases of consciousness (or the “modern malaise”) a good argument can also be made the they map to Rosenstock-Huessy’s cross of reality as obstructions to our insights into authentic reality and as the concealment of it.

Now, these four or five features of our Dark Age are exactly what is rendered in the movie The Matrix. There is a haunting sense of the truth of it, an emergent intuition that isn’t yet become fully conscious, and so has some taint of the irrational, the paranoid and the conspiratorial about it, but which is, in truth, simply an effect of “single vision” — the consciousness structure itself.

If it weren’t for the visionary, we couldn’t possibly speak of anything like “insight” or “transparency”, and nothing like a “Seer” would be conceivable — the consciousness of penetrating insight which we call “wisdom”. Without the visionary, indeed, we would perish from our own delusions and illusions, as we certainly now appear to be threatened with.

Therefore, something like a visionary science has become quite necessary, something which really does transcend “single vision” to embrace the full potentialities of that holistic visionary consciousness that we are already implicitly, but which has been handicapped and narrowed by “single vision” into the mere “point-of-view”. A visionary science would, necessarily, be directed to penetrate, by insight, into these various forms of concealment described by Glass, just as natural science penetrated into the mysterious mathematical and geometrical structure of nature, or at least one aspect of nature, for it largely ignored the living aspects of nature. That’s the problem of “single vision”.

And therefore, too, it seems to me that Blake, Gebser, and Rosenstock-Huessy have, to name just three visionaries, laid the foundations for such a visionary science.

40 responses to “The Visionary”

  1. Abdulmunem Othman says :

    This morning I was writing about the chasm that separates the poets from the prophets and how the first mix with their inspiration other muses that derail their visions in an obscure torridity, while the prophets stick with their inspiration to spell out their visions undiluted. Sight and insight. This took me to the night journey when the prophet is exposed to both realms of the mental world and the sensual world to be aware of the different aspects of knowledge and to stick with the whole and not to diverts his attention to one realm and ignores the other. To be aware always of the source of the pure knowledge that remains pure as long as the human remains pure. Never swim in dirty water. Everything perishes but his face and his face is reflected in our purity and our purity is the platform of both of our vision and his vision that run in the sea of unification time and in the sea of separation other time. It is a strange coincidence to open the post and the first thing I read, where there is no vision, a people perish. Away from him we perish, the force that gave us life consciousness to enjoy reading the words of his cosmos and what is in it and in particular reading the small self to appreciate the big one. Life of the high and not of the low.

    • InfiniteWarrior says :

      “Chasm” is a term in ubiquitous usage, at the moment, the question being, “How do we cross the chasm between…” everything: Northern/Southern/Eastern/Western, Metropolitian/Rural…. In other words, what most often greets our “sight” every day?

      “Division” galore.

      All the while I’m thinking, “What chasm?” It’s Northern and Southern and Eastern and Western, in the correlative sense.

      This is what I’m referring to when I attempt to drive home the fact that if one truly desires to hear and understand what you say (or write), one will put forth the time and effort required to do so, rather than assuming and presuming one’s way into thinking one understands.

      The meaning behind this popular Internet “meme” is really not all that difficult to fathom, imo.

      This is why I speak to them in parables:

      ‘Though seeing, they do not see;
      though hearing, they do not hear or understand.’

      In them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled:

      ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
      you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
      ‘For this people’s heart has grown callous;
      they hardly hear with their ears,
      and they have closed their eyes.
      Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
      hear with their ears,
      understand with their hearts,
      and turn,
      and I would heal them.’

  2. Abdulmunem Othman says :

    Chasm is human creation or misinterpretation away from oneness. Earth has no borders and we created the boundaries that made it difficult for the humans to move in god land. Diversity is put as a tool for attraction not a tool for repulsion.
    I have created you diverse in order to know each other and cooperate with each and to prove who is better in the application of such calls. I see by his sight and hear by his hearing and aware through his awareness. Eat his food, drink his water walk on his dust and get warm by his fire and look how ungratefully I behave in his cosmos. Thank you for the interspiritual link that is working in the way of removing the chasm and remind the humanity of its unified spiritual path. It is awareness in his awareness as the only path to destroy the chasm. Nothing is easy. it is a testing ground.

  3. Dwig says :

    Tis fourfold in my supreme delight
    And threefold in soft Beulah’s night
    And twofold Always.

    Apparently Blake found it worth mentioning the threefold and twofold, but I don’t recall him spending any ink elaborating on them. Is it worth dwelling for a while in soft Beulah’s night, or pondering the eternal twofold?

    • Scott Preston says :

      Good observation, and quite right. I’ve not been convinced by the interpretations of the twofold and threefold by others either, although we can deduce what they might signify from his description of “single vision”.

      I think it’s Hermetic code. Take a look at this picture of the Hermetic Androgyne and note the geometrical figures inscribed in the “cosmic egg” upon which they are standing.

      I’ve discussed this image before, but without making much of the winged orb upon which the Androgyne is standing, which represents Blake’s “Marriage of Heaven and Hell”. “Rebis” means “It is done” or “It is fulfilled”.

      Earth, air, fire, water are probably represented by the geometries inscribed in the orb, and the geometries correlate to Gebser’s “consciousness structures”. Gebser also ascribes many of the same geometric shapes to his consciousness structures — monadic, dyadic, triadic, quadratic. Much the same figures in Jacob Bohme, who Blake was seemingly well familiar with

      In the image from Bohme, we see the fourfold expressed in a very similar way to the indigenous Medicine Wheel/Sacred Hoop and Rosenstock-Huessy’s cross of reality combined. The four concentric spheres spanned or integrated through the superposition of the cross. These “spheres” are probably the four elements, because in other renderings, Bohm has made them explicit

      And here, of course, the all-seeing eye is at the centre of the cross, not atop the pyramid as in the Great Seal of the United States (Enlightenment symbol) which is, I think, what Blake decries as “single vision”.

      These images are mandalas, and we may surmise that by “fourfold vision” Blake has in mind also a mandala like structure, and, within the mandala of course, you can organise the implict elements of the quadrllateral in different ways — a point, a line, a triangle, a cross or a sphere.

      Jung, in any case, makes the four elements earth, air, fire, and water coincident with psychological functions and psychological types, which he probably gleaned from his alchemical studies — intuition, sense, thought, feeling. These, of course, may exist in combination, but rarely “integrally”, and depending upon the arrangements, you constituted a different world, a different experience of reality and what was understood as being “real”.

      Gebser pretty much follows the Hermetic/Jungian pattern in that respect.

      But in order to have “fourfold vision”, you have to be at the centre of the mandala, not on the peripheries or antipodes. That centre is eye rendered by Bohme and which corresponds to Gebser’s “vital centre” and coincident “universal way of looking at things”.

      So, in the hermetic diagramme of the Androgyne, you have to imagine yourself as the winged orb, and most especially the centre of the winged orb represented by the point from which radiates the mandala or the cross. From that centre.

      • InfiniteWarrior says :

        you have to imagine yourself as the winged orb, and most especially the centre of the winged orb represented by the point from which radiates the mandala or the cross. From that centre.

        …of the cosmic egg also rendered in Blake’s illustration.

        I notice the number 43 inscribed on the picture of the Hermetic Androgyne. I’m not a numerologist myself, but found it curious and looked it up. The number one search result associates it with introspection, analysis, pragmatism, inspiration and wisdom. In other sources, it’s most often noted as a number signifying contention, perhaps in the sense of “strife” as the “father of all things,” in Heraclitus’ understanding?

        I wonder if it has any significance in mike’s Star Key.

        • Scott Preston says :

          Actually, the numbers 1 and 2 also occur there, at the north and south poles of the orb, but they are kind of washed out in the reproduction. I had to look closely to find them in other illustrations of the Androgyne. At first I was puzzled by the number 43 too, but it goes 1, 2, 3, 4 to describe the dimensions of the geometric figures within the sphere.

        • mikemackd says :

          Hi, IW. No, it’s not a significant number in the Star Key.

          • InfiniteWarrior says :

            Interesting. Thanks.

            It does appear to have a great deal of significance in sacred texts in the sense of contention (or, better, con-tension), i.e. the saying of Heraclitus or the coincidence of opposites. I’ll have to investigate further.

  4. Scott Preston says :

    Dueling Dialogues….

    I just noticed something odd about Bohme and Galileo. Both lived at the same time: Boehme 1575 – 1624, Galileo 1564 – 1642. Both wrote “dialogues”, Galileo’s “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems” and Boehme “Dialogue of an Enlightened and Unenlightened Soul” (the title of the illustration posted above from Boehme).

    That’s very interesting, since you have in this parallel that Hermetic and the Mechanical Philosophies. I’m not certain whether they knew of each other but it would be very interesting to compare the two “dialogues” because it is still possible, at that time, that Western intellectual history could have gone one way or another. Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626) was still weighing the possibilities for science or “magic”, but which meant Natural Philosophy or Hermetic Philosophy — that represented by Kepler or Galileo or that represented in Bohme or Paracelsus, but which, in effect, has its roots in the duel between Parmenides and Heraclitus in Greek philosophical history.

    And it’s also at this time you see the coinage of the terms “consciousness” and “occult”, and the latter becoming associated with Galilean metaphysical ideas that Descartes would build on (1596 – 1650) and the latter with Hermes Trismegistus.

    Coincident with this is a radical re-imagination of the meaning of “time” which seems, largely, connected with both. Our notion of time is Galilean. Modern man thinks of himself like an object moving through time, like a projectile shot from a cannon (birth) propelled with a certain velocity or acceleration until entropy sets in and he crashes to earth. Like “meteoric”.

    This was really quite a radical change, because earlier medieval man thought of time rather differently. The Medieval mind was in situ, as reflected his cosmological outlook of geo-centrism. The present was ever-lasting, and events rose from potentiality into actuality (presence) and then passed away again into potentiality, just like “sunrise” and “sunset”. But in effect, the doctrine of potens and actus related to unconscious and conscious, since ideas, too, arose into awareness and receded again into potentiality, just like sunrise and sunset. Only, medieval man didn’t have the words “conscious”and “unconscious”. These were actus and potens.

    This is what Gebser returns to (as welll as Rosenstock-Huessy) with his notions of “latency” and “manifestation”, which corresponds to the old notion of potens and actus, that is, events past or future as potentialities that are “drawn” into presence or dismissed from presence, that being an everlasting now.

    Hence, man’s self-objectification really came from thinking of his own “thrownness” like Galileo’s projectille moving through space or time at a certain velocity or certain rate of acceleration associated then with the idea of “progression”.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Just occurred to me, after posting the above comment, what T Kuhn meant by saying contemporary physics had returned to problems and beliefs “more like those of Newton’s predecessors than of his successors”, which so outraged Mr. Gleick in his book on Newton that he dismissed Kuhn’s remark as “myth”.

      Kuhn is, I think, saying that with “probablistic” approach now supercedes the deterministic approach, and that in relation to time and man’s sense of time, it now resembles more the time-thinking of medieval man rather than that of Galileo and Newtonian Man. We would call medieval man’s sense of time “probablistic” — events arising from potentiality into presence or actuality or manifestation and passing away again into potentiality or latency.

      • InfiniteWarrior says :

        man’s sense of time [is] “probablistic” — events arising from potentiality into presence or actuality or manifestation and passing away again into potentiality or latency.

        That description seems to me to apply more to the “possiblistic.” Any treatments to be found on the “possiblistic” sense of time anywhere? (Other than sacred texts, of course.)

        God forbid this turns into a thread about {gulp} “modern politics,” but it seems to me that the philosophy of “realpolitik” is the perfect example of a “probablistic” sense of time. (‘Realpolitik’ is, in my estimation, inappropriately termed the ‘Art of the Possible,’ much the same as Cyborgism is inappropriately termed ‘Transhumanism.’ The ‘Stupidity of Utter Self-Compromise’ would be a better term for it.)

        The “probablistic” is everywhere. It’s my main gripe with authors e.g. Chris Hedges, et al. ‘This will happen; that will happen; something else will happen.” Why? Because it happened in the past; it’s appears to be happening in the present (although precisely that isn’t…yet); so it probably will happen in the future. Why? Because…well, we can’t imagine a future otherwise. No, no, no. Any other future would be downright impossible.

        The ‘Art of the Probable’ is a dead end, imho.

        • InfiniteWarrior says :

          Any treatments to be found on the “possiblistic” sense of time anywhere? (Other than sacred texts, of course.)

          QM strikes me as the Science of the Possibilistic, come to think of it.

        • InfiniteWarrior says :

          Allow me to provide some background for these thoughts as they likely will make little sense otherwise.

          How the title of this article went from ‘Only Nonviolent Resistance Will Work’ to ‘Only Nonviolent Resistance Will Destroy… is quite beyond me. If the intent was to shoot the truth and common ground in the foot, it does an excellent job.

          The corporate state, no longer able to peddle a credible ideology, is becoming more overtly totalitarian. It will increasingly silence dissidents out of fear that the truth they speak will spark a contagion. It will, as in China’s system of totalitarian capitalism, use the tools of censorship, blacklisting, infiltration, blackmailing, bribery, public defamation, prison sentences on trumped-up charges and violence. The more discredited the state becomes, the more it will communicate in the language of force.

          Hedges is, of course, describing here the threat of Fascism (as he always is) rather than Wolin’s “Inverted Totalitarianism,” which is quite a different (and semi-conscious) beast.

          Now, let’s hear from the far more level-headed George Lakey, “the Eugene M. Lang Visiting Professor for Issues in Social Change emeritus at Swarthmore College and a sociologist who focuses on nonviolent social change.”

          There’s really no need for us…go after, often, working-class guys on the extreme right,” he said. “For one thing, we look at their real, genuine grievances and address them. For example, how many people on the right are from working-class families who have family members who are not being served by our health care system? Many people on the far right are from a demographic that is actually losing life expectancy for the first time in U.S. history. The health care system in the U.S is a mess. Obamacare is better than previous, but it’s a mess. So what we can do is address the genuine grievances instead of writing people off…. Fascism grows when the economy declines. So let’s address the real thing instead of the symptom.

          Oh, I like this guy.

          But, as for “going after the 1%….”

          “We went after a bank [PNC], the seventh largest bank in the country but it was the No. 1 financier of mountaintop-removal coal mining in Appalachia. We forced that bank out of [the] business of financing mountaintop coal mining. Nonviolently. Disrupting. Disrupting. We were in bank branches all over the place. We shut down two shareholder meetings. We led a boycott in which people took out money from that bank and were putting it in their local credit unions. So there’s more than one way to go after the 1 percent.”

          With no plan of action for the poverty-stricken coal mining workers of Appalachia who will suffer the consequences of a “shutdown” with absolutely nowhere to turn for assistance.

          While it’s true that “the 1%” are apparently oblivious that all these issues — climate change, economic inequality, unaffordable healthcare, etc. — affect “them” as well as “us,” that does not give us license to decide the fates of people we’ve never met, e.g. the coal miners of Appalachia.

          “The (ultimate) prize,” I would think, would be for the US to be truly self-governing. Why “go after the 1%” when the common goal is to get these institutions and corporations out of our politics and back under proper regulatory controls, beginning with overturning the Citizen’s United ruling and, perhaps, reinstituting Glass-Steagall, providing us with a more stable foundation from which to work?

          Impossible? Well, everyone seems to think so.

          The common ground is always there and we all might be able see it were not every “side” obscuring it from our common vision.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              In September, a chief scientific adviser to the UK government warned that regulators around the world have falsely assumed that it is safe to use pesticides at industrial scales across landscapes and that the “effects of dosing whole landscapes with chemicals have been largely ignored”.

              Gee. I wonder why that is? (As if we don’t all know.)

            • mikemackd says :

              In 2014, I read a book called “Poisoned Planet”, by Julian Cribb.I just noticed that he has a Facebook page about it at The most recent entry is in 2014.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              I haven’t been able to find it for sale anywhere. Then, of course, there is Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, oft’ mentioned in these pages.

              I wouldn’t say it’s an all-pervasive sentiment by any means, but in my conversations with friends who don’t self-identify exclusively as either “liberal” or “conservative” socially, the feeling seems to be that the most important thing right now is to “save ourselves,” then we can get back to “saving the planet.” To them, that means being able “to make a living,” ergo jobs. To us (or, at least, to me), the most important thing is kicking the “foreign installation” out of our heads so we can get down to the nitty-gritty of getting ourselves back on track as a species, which would likely resolve all these crises on its own. Of course, they have a point. We are dying off in droves, too, and not just “spiritually.”

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              Que coincidencia. This popped up as a “memory” shared on Facebook on this particular day last year. It is, of course, the No. 1 “tuition*” threaded throughout the heart of all our spiritual traditions.

              It’s Not Us and Them

              *The inquiry leads us to that source, at once the essence of genius, of virtue, and of life, which we call Spontaneity or Instinct. We denote this primary wisdom as Intuition, whilst all later teachings are tuitions. In that deep force, the last fact behind which analysis cannot go, all things find their common origin. ~ Self-reliance, RW Emerson

        • InfiniteWarrior says :

          It appears a book has been written on the subject of ‘Realpolitik,’ its history and contemporary misinterpretations(?) titled Realpolitik or Realism?. From a review of the book:

          Bew’s admiration for Rochau’s thought is evident and he wants to rescue Realpolitik from the distortions, which started early, and in Germany, in the form of “irredentist interpretations.” The misrepresentations continued and multiplied following Realpolitik’s increasing popularity in the Anglo-American world, the concept eventually being conflated not only with realism but worse still with Machtpolitik (power politics) and Weltpolitik (power-driven international relations), the former associated with Treitschke (an uncompromising nationalist, militarist, and imperialist), the latter with the eminent German historian Friedrich Meinecke, who shared many of Treitschke’s unsavory, illiberal ideas and was an early exponent of the essentiality of Lebensraum.

          The Treitschke and Meinecke mutations of Realpolitik in particular are crude reductionisms that twist the original idea, presenting it as a militarized mode of thinking while stripping from it Rochau’s commitment to liberalism. The results proved catastrophic for 20th century Germany—not once but twice. Bew leaves little doubt that Rochau would not have accepted these as creative and legitimate variations of his idea and would indeed been repulsed by them.

          • Scott Preston says :

            Not surprising, really. When I was a kid in school, we used to play this game in class (probably everyone has?). Kids gather in a circle, the teacher whispers some phrase in one kid’s ear and he or she whispers it on to the next, and the next and the next and so on until the last kid in the circle repeats the phrase. Usually it was so mangled by that time that it had no relations with the original phrase.

            That’s what “post-historic man” means, in some ways.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              We’ve come full circle, then. I distinctly recall mention of this in TDAB days along with the conviction that is has never been Us against each other but Us against the Machine…as it has been for the entirety of human history. All that changes is the form the Machine takes; all we’ve ever really achieved on the “civilization” front is to trade one form of slavery to some form of it for yet another; and all that’s different this time is the sheer scale of the Machine’s impact on the globe.

              It would appear that at least some in academia and elsewhere are earnestly engaged in quite a bit of dumpster and pearl-diving of their own; retrieving original (root) meanings; resuscitating “exhausted residua”; and — at last — correlating them with other such treasures. And, who knows? Provided we, as a species, survive the Machine’s latest incarnation; strike an equilibrium (rather than conflict) among those “opposites”; and do so both consciously and conscientiously; we might even get it right this time, for the sake of the Seventh Generation, if not our own.

  5. Steve Lavendusky says :

    • Steve Lavendusky says :

      The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind.
      William Blake

      • donsalmon says :

        Wonderful, Steve. Ayn Rand always said it was her highest ideal never to change her mind. “What? Change my mind? Admit I was wrong? Never!!!” (note – that’s a paraphrase from memory; not what she actually said, which, I vaguely recall, was much worse!)

  6. Abdulmunem Othman says :

    I agree with the independent friends of IW that saving ourselves comes first because in saving ourselves from its wrong doing which is causing the maladies of the planet and ourselves resides the safety of ourselves and the planet. Humans are the only creatures that are provided with exceptional consciousness to regulate their affairs, once this consciousness goes deficient the maladies of themselves and others flourish . If only they honestly recognize who puts in them this consciousness and why. Denying the divine instructions by those who have been leading humanity in this last cycle of our perverted life is behind this annihilation of both life meaning and life structure. Deceiving people that there is no other life and that the materialistic path is the only path for humans to pursue and all prophets are mythical characters and all sages are crooks and that the only people doing the works of god are the bankers and the only truth is the truth of power and subjugation. The purpose of knowledge is to serve the truth and to build justice in the earth and not to use it in this distorted narration of our dying life. Out real tragedy is meandering in the swamps of pleonasm where more words are used that needed and brevity is no longer respected and the language of quantity chased out the language of quality. Overstepping god is a fatal move in the way of destruction. This is the end of all aggressors. The meekness of the human soul has been polluted by the materialistic ethos which all prophets have come to fight. Regaining the independent critical stance is this world is a must if humans do want to fulfill their real message in this responsible life, realizing that we are not sitting on this earth with no purpose and in vain and as the leaders of the west have perpetrated.

    • InfiniteWarrior says :

      I agree with the independent friends of IW that saving ourselves comes first

      If, by that, you mean “practicing now” (in Sakyong Mipham’s words), definitely. That’s not what they mean, though…despite that excellent point.

      Something I’ve noticed about interspirituality of nearly all kinds in the West is that various branches of it somehow have become all about Love (Compassion, Empathy, call it what you will), but I dare say that some of the most generous, creative, kind-hearted and beautiful, “interspiritual” people among us wouldn’t know truth if it walked up and bit them on the nose.

      I’ve been thinking about the notion that was put forward earlier about the possibility that psychopaths actually might serve a beneficial purpose, as in Goethe’s Faust: “I am part of that power which eternally wills evil and eternally works good.” As terrifying a prospect as it is that Donald Trump is currently (*facepalm*) ‘President of the United States,’ I sincerely get the impression that it’s serving as quite the wake-up call for those among us who desperately still need one. It’s Love and Truth, folks.

      • mikemackd says :

        IW, your mention of love and truth has prompted me to remark that I have just finished reading Elizabeth Drews’ 1970 Stanford Research Memorandum: Drews, E. M. (1970) Policy Implications of a Hierarchy of Values.

        The author examines (in some detail) five images of man–man as a bad animal, man as a blank sheet, man as a mixture of good and evil, man as naturally good, and man as able to transcend himself. Relying on the work of those like Abraham Maslow who follow the view of man as transcendent, the author sets forth her rationale for the assumption that man is a value-selecting animal, in need of a hierarchy of values. The relation of values to actuality, the foundation of a universal hierarchy of values, and the evolution and expansion of the hierarchy of values are examined in detail. A history of hierarchies is traced, leading up to a discussion of self-actualizing individuals and mass progress. The implications of the classical virtues of truth, beauty, and love tor the synthesis of a value structure consonant with a self-actualizing individual are set for thin conclusion, the author calls for a restructuring not only of education, but of all aspects of society to develop such a hierarchy and to promote institutions which foster it.

        Click to access ED061747.pdf

        • InfiniteWarrior says :

          Perfect timing and poignant. “Transcendent” would appear to be undergoing a reevaluation itself on a societal scale and, for some reason, when topics such as these arise, I’m reminded of Inigo Montoya’s line to Viccini in the Princess Bride (of all things). Viccini was fond of the term, “Inconceivable!” Montoya says, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

          Among the “memes” in circulation is that a good educational system does not teach children what to think, but how to think. Depending what one means by that, I might agree. If they mean what Abdulmonem means, I’d say let’s go for it.

          Regaining the independent critical stance is this world is a must if humans do want to fulfill their real message in this responsible life

          I suspect, however, that what Abdulmonem means by “critical” is somewhat at odds with the “modern” meaning of the term, which is more akin to judgmental than evaluative. We make evaluative judgments all the time, but obviously have a marked tendency (and perhaps not just in the West) to apply those judgments to people rather than ideas, egocentric creatures that we have become. “Separating wheat from chaff” would appear to have taken on a purely physical meaning itself on a societal scale. The same has happened with “transcendent.” It’s a perfectly good word if one realizes what it truly means. Those who don’t, however, expect to be “snatched up into the sky to meet Him in the air” (quite literally) any minute now.

          See the problem?

          That’s why I think it our most important task to kick the “foreign installation” out of our heads before we do anything, especially read. Pick up a book; forget everything you know or even think you know; and read what’s actually there allowing “Inner Silence” to do the work of evaluating it. Don’t allow anyone else to “interpret” it for you and you’ve taken a truly “independent critical stance.”

          That’s also the meaning behind Global Harmony Crew’s take on the image linked above. Why do people think you think what you’re so not thinking it’s not even funny? Usually because they’re coming to it with their own preconceptions and biases firmly in place. Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche’s advice is one of the most profound teachings our spiritual traditions have to offer. I hope it’s widely valued as such.

          • Scott Preston says :

            I finally, recently, read all the way through the anonymously authored 14th century text called The Cloud of Unknowing. It’s a real gem, something I might even recommend as a kind of primer for the “spiritual life”, if you want to term in that way.

            Originally written as a guide to Christian contemplative practice, it does, in fact, read like a Buddhist manual on meditation. Anyone who thinks that the medievals were incapable of lucid thinking probably never read The Cloud of Unknowing. The author eschews authorities and it is blessedly free of any kind of doctrinal religiousity. He wants his readers to discover the meaning of the spiritual life for themselves, and not from authorities or even Scripture. He wants you to learn how to meditate, and he was, I would say, an adept in the contemplative life.

            There are chapters in which you can see he’s attempting to describe something for which he didn’t have words at the time — especially “metaphor”, and he’s already seen from his own awakening that most of Scripture is metaphor and symbol and not to be taken literally.

            There are copies available on the internet, for example

            Click to access exc-cloud-of-unknowing-essential1-20.pdf

            Of particular note is, later in the book, his discussion of nothingness, and the meaning of being “nowhere” and of “nothing”. That is quite Buddhistic, too. That being this “nowhere” and this “nothing” is very desirable because it is also Everything.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              Originally written as a guide to Christian contemplative practice, it does, in fact, read like a Buddhist manual on meditation.

              A classic. It’s not widely understood in that way (if at all), however. Many Christians (especially) don’t seem to think themselves capable of understanding it (or “scripture” for that matter) and I think that, in addition to the fact that illiteracy was not so long ago far more
              widespread, the “foreign installation” (whether parental, cultural or what have you) just reinforces that kind of self-doubt. It’s no wonder we read so many reports of self-esteem being at “an all time low” when everyone is being told they’re “dumb.” (Which is why I prefer the term, “numbing down” to “dumbing down”, i.e. Pink Floyd’s ‘Comfortably Numb‘.)

              They’re not dumb. They’re not stupid. They don’t “have shit for brains.” Or whatever the hell they may have been told. They’re bright, talented, creative and beautiful people.

          • mikemackd says :

            >> See the problem?

            Yes, indeed, and also I see it as a huge and pervasive one. For example, contrast Jesus’s “judge not” with the infantile and endemic “good guys” and “bad guys” dichotomy, rather than good acts and bad acts, and that dichotomy being the “open sesame” to the Satanic state as described below by Tweedy. We have neither the competence nor the authority to judge others, and even less so does the megamachine, because it is a social imaginary. But we can develop the capacity to judge their acts by the means described below.

            The late Jiddu Krishnamurti in particular would also applaud your comments concerning the “foreign installations”. With the McGilchrist’s interpretation of the right hemisphere reinstated as the Master – or, perhaps more accurately (hemisphere, schemisphere: too hierarchic/mechanist/scientismist?) the function of tour leader towards manifesting love, truth and beauty via our lives – we can holarchically and heterarchically – not just hierarchically (hierarchy schmierarchy: too hierarchic/mechanist/scientismist?) engage processual extrinsic, intrinsic and systemic evaluations along our paths towards improving our implementations of co-evolved wisdom, compassion, and beauty.


            McGilchrist points out that only extrinsic evaluations to manipulate towards an agenda are possible for the Emissary. So with McGilchrist’s Emissary as our tour leader the rich emergences of insights via the process Drews maps are, quite simply, impossible. Yet McGilchrist’s Master/tour leader is still accessible to perhaps all of us. I say “perhaps” because that, too, is not for me to judge. It is more than hard enough to, using Jesus’ metaphor, take the plank out of my own eye.

            That plank removal, and a core part of Drews’ process, involves our evaluation of our own mental states, both in stillness and in interactions. In recognition of the need to address them in their complexity they have been traditionally personified and externalised as gods and demons, (the devil in The Cloud of Unknowing that Scott just linked) which manifest both inside and outside however we confine our “selves”. Perhaps some of those whom you mention expect to be “snatched up into the sky to meet Him in the air” would be receptive to understanding Blake’s mental state of Satan in Tweedy’s terms, the antithesis of the tour of ascent described by Drews:

            [The mental state of] “Satan can no more escape “hell” than he can evade the psychological mechanisms binding him ever more securely and compulsively into egoic self-damnation. As Damon notes, in Milton’s poem Satan “is constantly tempted to pity, to repent, but he always hardens his heart. He loses his sense of truth, and becomes deceived by his own lies. At the end, he has lost semblance of the human form” (Damon, p. 357). This hardening process – or “damnation” as Milton calls it – is the central psychological process of Paradise Lost. Satan’s trajectory of “falling”, or degrading, is in part a counterpoint to the loss of paradise itself. As Satan falls, and hardens, so Eden is perceived as being further and further away. Eden gradually “literalises”, as Satanic or egoic rationalising perception within the brain increasingly materialises and hardens human perception. In its final “Dragon” form, the rationalising Selfhood is completely hardened or incrusted, “Coverd with precious stones”: slowly asphyxiating itself by the compulsive pursuit of the thing it craves (Blake’s Jerusalem 89:10, p. 248). Paradise Lost thereby depicts the gradual process of self-damnation in Milton’s most memorable and dramatic character, the state that Blake also refers to as “Satan”. (Tweedy 2013, The God of the Left Hemisphere, London, Karnac Books, pp. 240-241).

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              (hierarchy schmierarchy: too hierarchic/mechanist/scientismist?)

              Only if it’s misunderstood, and this is one we have consummately wrong, imho. Why? Because it’s applied in our societies solely according to the terms of Newtonian Physics.

              “Hierarchy” today is “corporate culture” in a nutshell, and anyone who’s ever had the misfortune of working (or living) in it, which is likely all of us, are intimately familiar with just how wrong it is.

              This is the real meaning behind the “battery” allusion in The Matrix. “Manufacturers” don’t need bright, creative, talented people. They need “warm bodies” and “yes men” to keep the machine running smoothly. And that’s exactly what their “recruitment filters” and “pre-employment tests” are designed to do: weed out people who employ “the independent critical stance.”

            • mikemackd says :

              Agreed, IW. I was engaging in what I hoped was humorous hyperbole.

              Hierarchies have their places, especially in the megamachine. They can have great extrinsic value, can have great systemic value, but they can have no intrinsic value. As such, our emissaries, especially of those of us who are psychopaths, hunger for them as supplying means and methods of manipulation and domination. Hence their objectifying of others as mere ends to their means, and their ignore-ance of their own and others’ intrinsically valuing right hemispheres. Hence in turn their journey down the trail described by Tweedy.

              To some, power can give one hell of a rush. To unbalanced minds (in terms of McGilchrist’s framing) it can be like moths to the flame. The Buddhist prayer of “make me neither too rich nor too poor” should be extended to “and neither too powerful or too powerless”.

              Which is what democracies were for. How effective they have been in that has varied a tad or two over the years.

            • mikemackd says :

              I have been reflecting on Drews’ mention of the classic virtues of truth, beauty on love and Scott’s predilection for the fourfold, and wondering if there is a fourth virtue to be mentioned in their company.

              I submit that there is; a kind of joyfulness. Not the shallow emotion of being delighted, but a deep joyfulness in intuiting that one is on one’s own right path, which itself facilitates the journey through life that Drews mapped (Not just Drews, of course. So have many others; in particular, McGilchrist refers to Max Scheler), So there are quaternary coevolutions along such journeys – in this case of wisdom, compassion, beauty and joy.

              Reflecting on beauty, I naturally went to John O’Donohue’s book on beauty, and found that, like Mumford, he warns that:

              “Our times are driven by the inestimable energies of the mechanical mind; its achievements derive from its singular focus, linear direction and force. When it dominates, the habit of gentleness dies out. We become blind: nature is rifled, politics eschews vision and becomes the obsessive servant of economics, and religion opts for the mathematics of system and forgets its mystical flame.”
              (O’Donohue, John. Divine Beauty: The Invisible Embrace (p. 5). Transworld. Kindle Edition).

              As is my wont lately, I have been retiring with O’Donohue’s “Conemara Blues” in hand, and so read the following poem, “Wings”, as his metaphor for the soul-damage the mechanical mind inflicts:

              Whenever a goose was killed,
              My mother got the two wings.
              They were placed on the rack
              Over the black Stanley range
              And taken down to sweep
              Around the grate and the floor.

              Local women said: no matter
              How you sprinkled it, every time
              You’d sweep a concrete floor,
              You’d get more off it.
              As if, deep down,
              There was only dust.

              Often during sweeping,
              A ray of light
              Through the window
              Would reveal
              How empty air
              Could hold a wall
              Of drunken dust.

              Instead of being folded around
              Each side of a living body,
              Embracing the warmth
              And urgency of a beating heart,
              The wings are broken objects now,
              Rubbed and rubbed, edge down
              Into an insatiable floor,
              Smothered and thinned
              Until they become ghost feathers
              Around a cusp of bone
              Polished by motherly hand.

              Never again to be disturbed
              Every year by the call
              Of the wild geese overhead,
              Reminding them of the sky,
              Urging them to raise the life
              They embrace, to climb the breeze
              Beyond the farm, towards horizons
              That veil the green surge of the ocean.

              (Conamara Blues, 2001, Bantam Books, pp. 99-100).

              That hit me like a ton of bricks! O’Donohue urged us to answer that call of the wild geese to beauty:

              “As Frederick Turner puts it, ‘Beauty . . . is the highest integrative level of understanding and the most comprehensive capacity for effective action. It enables us to go with, rather than against, the deepest tendency or theme of the universe … When we awaken to the call of beauty, we become aware of new ways of being in the world. We were created to be creators. At its deepest heart, creativity is meant to serve and evoke beauty.
              (O’Donohue, John. Divine Beauty: The Invisible Embrace (p. 7). Transworld. Kindle Edition).

              I therefore submit that John O’Donohue, as well as those Scott mentioned, should be considered not only as a poet as philosopher, but also as a visionary. Like Tennyson’s Ulysses, he cried:

              Come, my friends,
              ‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world …
              my purpose holds
              To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
              Of all the western stars, until I die …
              Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
              To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              wondering if there is a fourth virtue to be mentioned in their company.

              I submit that there is; a kind of joyfulness. Not the shallow emotion of being delighted, but a deep joyfulness in intuiting that one is on one’s own right path, which itself facilitates the journey through life

              Does it have to be in intuiting or can it be in anything one might be doing or engaged in or with at any given time?

              The general consensus in our traditions is that there are seven “virtues.” (And apparently ironclad, they are.)

              “Fourfold vision” is important and the theme of The Chrysalis, but unless I’m mistaken, it’s “the fourfold” in that phrase that respresents “everything” and not the term, “vision,” which in my vocabulary represents awareness as opposed to “consciousness,” which in turn represents the expression of “fourfold.”

              People have expressed “a deep, abiding joy” in “being one with Christ” (which might be argued to be the symbolic equivalent of “the fourfold”) or God or Allah or Jehovah or Tao or whatever the cultural “name” given; “being one with Everything;” “being one with ‘the ground of Being'” (<– that's definitely awareness or "the heart of Consciousness"); and even "being one" with a flower or fly or mountain or cloud or person or cat; and even "being one" with the peach they're eating or the actions of simply washing the dishes, tending the garden, walking the dog, enjoying the performance of a "job well done" (regardless whether inextricably tethered to the "Megamachine" or not), etc., depending on the moment. Or, in other words, "all the little things that make life worth living" that tend to be neglected or ignored if and when we're so caught up in our thoughts about the past or future that we forget to be grateful for and enjoy what we're doing and experiencing in the present moment.

              For some reason, I don't feel compelled to box everything into groups of fours. In fact, the practice of placing "things" (but especially persons) in a box, locking it up and throwing away the key just happens to be my number one pet peeve.

            • mikemackd says :

              >> Does it have to be in intuiting or can it be in anything one might be doing or engaged in or with at any given time?

              I don’t know was it has and has not to be. I was suggesting from personal experience, to see if it resonated with anyone else. I employed Scott’s quadratic approach as a tool, which catalysed that question, not as a given and not in terms of seeking abstract rules.

              >> The general consensus in our traditions is that there are seven “virtues.” (And apparently ironclad, they are.)

              Again, they are McGilchrist’s left hemisphere’s (LH) “rules”. It’s like the difference between faith and belief. Belief; LH; Faith, RH.

              >> “Fourfold vision” is important and the theme of The Chrysalis, but unless I’m mistaken, it’s “the fourfold” in that phrase that respresents “everything” and not the term, “vision,” which in my vocabulary represents awareness as opposed to “consciousness,” which in turn represents the expression of “fourfold.”

              From my Whiteheadean > Midgleyian > Mumfordian > Batesonian > McGilchristian etc. perspective, there are no such things as things, just processes. All nouns are slow verbs. Thinging is a LH thing for the Tao that can be known, which is not the eternal Tao, which has moved on the split second we grab at it.

              Once again, these are LH orienting generalisations, heuristics, the LH’s attempts to “get a grip” on reality, thingifying, to use Bateson’s term, to manipulate. Nothing wrong with them when the LH is the Emissary; but lots when it presumes itself the Master.

              RH understanding may or may not be facilitated by such maps. All models are wrong, all maps are incomplete, but some are useful and more fit for purpose than any other would be. For example, it’s not likely to be much good having a 1:10000 scale map when you need a 1:50, and vice versa. Because of our confirmation biases, we tend to use models and mental maps as Procrustean beds, but that’s our LHs doing their thing: perhaps extrinsically useful, definitely intrinsically worthless.

              >> People have expressed “a deep, abiding joy” in “being one with Christ” … depending on the moment.

              McGilchrist points out (citing the relevant research) that the LH makes up stories to explain phenomena, including RH activities, pretending to be its Master when it ain’t. Like belief masquerading as faith. Our LH’s attribute a “a deep, abiding joy” to this or that, but that joy is not its magisterium; it’s the RH’s.

              >> For some reason, I don’t feel compelled to box everything into groups of fours.

              Neither do I, or any predetermined number, and only ever provisionally and intra-contextually. Horses for courses.

              >> In fact, the practice of placing “things” (but especially persons) in a box, locking it up and throwing away the key just happens to be my number one pet peeve.

              It’s one of mine too. The great danger of enboxing other persons in one’s mental models or boxes is delusionally reducing their intrinsic value to your extrinsic value, and considering that is all that they are, when it may be all that they are to you. As such, it is a Satanic danger, dehumanising, hardening as Tweedy describes above: “he’s nothing but a dirty (insert the hate category here)”.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              I don’t know was it has and has not to be. I was suggesting from personal experience, to see if it resonated with anyone else. I employed Scott’s quadratic approach as a tool, which catalysed that question, not as a given and not in terms of seeking abstract rules.

              I know. I was just expounding on it a bit. : )

          • InfiniteWarrior says :

            Just in case any Chrysalis readers have never seen The Princess Bride, it might be useful to know our memes. : D

  7. Abdulmunem Othman says :

    Oh Scott your cloud of unknowing puts me in a compulsive mood that push me to say the following. Faith is a divine call to follow him, heralding a journey in time toward truth, love beauty goodness and understanding some of the attributes signifying some of
    the silent qualities of the field we are immersed in, the field that has left his print in all his creation, bestowing some exceptional qualities in the humans to be the consciousness toward grasping and expressing his operative creativity that pervades everything. The malleable humans that possess the adaptive qualities that enable them to reroute themselves in any mode they desire despite the environmental constraints. The strength of this adaptive quality can be enhanced or weakened in light of the human souls nearness from the source or their distance. It is said in all spiritual works that the atonement as an adaptive quality in the direction of the oneness, that is at onement works wonder in the way of spiritual growth that is tasting the epistemological union with the field. Mysticism is our venue to tasting that spiritual union now before the post death period, where the realization then, will not be of much worth that is why they say he who is blind in this one will be more blind in that period. Those who are accumulating wealth and treasure and refuse to help others with the gift,god bestowed upon them, will leave it all behind and will find there nothing but regret and sorrow at the life opportunity that have missed. God path is a path of love and worship that is why all religions call people to worship god and not to take any god beside him. He who have created heaven and earth and made the light and darkness, knowing that there are many who will take other gods instead of him. They say that if there is no eternal awareness in the life of the humans such humans will live in a state of estrangement and despair. We have two life, the biological life and the epistemological life, the first is given to all and the second is given only to the few that the spiritual knowledge not the mechanical knowledge. Also we have two journeys the biological child,youth and old age which we have no much influence on its progression and the epistemological journey where all our efforts should be concentrated before our departure. The contemplative, evocative prayer that renders the faith effective in the soul of the humans. All roads lead to god and the mystical experience is one across all religions provided honesty and sincerity in the intention that guides the attention toward the one that nobody knows his essence and love of the heart is our force to him. No wonder Ibn Arabi declared that his religion is love where his heart becomes the abode for all creeds and all types of manifestations.

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