The Initial Signs of Subjectivism at the Level of the Nation

This quite remarkable statement from Aurobindo about an “Age of Subjectivism” is so pertinent and relevant to what we’ve been discussing about “the Dream Society” and how our “inside” has now become our “outside” (with an attendant “collapse of reality”) that I feel it’s important to reblog it here (thanks to IW for pointing it out).

As both Gebser and Aurobindo point out, this “irruption” (as Gebser calls it) comes as an incipient form of manifestation of the new consciousness, but with attendant perils and dangers as well (the “vitalistic and psychistic”, ie what is called “creeping fascism”). Gebser equally warned against confusing these with the authentically “spiritual”, which is often exactly what is happening.

Sri Aurobindo Studies

We tend to conceive of the idea of a subjective life as belonging to an individual in his self-growth and self-finding; we do not generally consider the nation as a subjective existence of its own.  Sri Aurobindo introduces the concept of the nation-soul.  When we first look at the nation from the viewpoint of what is unique to each nation, we again focus first on the surface phenomena, the habits, customs, traditions, economic model, political arrangement.  Yet Sri Aurobindo observes that there is a deeper subjective reality for the nation that identifies the nation as something unique with its own qualities and sense of purpose, and as we move into the subjective age, more and more nations are trying to identify what it is that makes them special and bonds their people together in a deeper way than the superficial material and vital organisation of the communal life.

Sri Aurobindo…

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51 responses to “The Initial Signs of Subjectivism at the Level of the Nation”

  1. Scott Preston says :

    It may be necessary to point out that where Aurobindo speaks of deficient forms of the “vitalistic and psychistic” manifesting in the new Age of Subjectivism, these terms correspond to Gebser’s magical and mythical consciousnesses respectively.

  2. Scott Preston says :

    This is, by the way, the very first time I’ve ever reblogged anything — that’s how much importance I attach to this passage from Aurobindo.

    • donsalmon says :

      Great passage.

      Regarding your correlations, while there are some superficial resemblances, the differences are more striking.

      Sri Aurobindo distinguishes between the surface consciousness (the “jagrat” or waking consciousness of Vedanta”) and the inner (he borrowed the term “subliminal” from Frederich Myers; it is also directly related to the “swapna” or dream consciousness of Vedanta.

      people living at a time when the mythic and/or magic consciousness was predominant had less of a “line” between the inner and outer, the waking and dream. Since the mental structure has predominated, it has become much more complex.

      So, most people nowadays, though living with a more developed “thinking mind” (which includes left and right brain, analytic and intuitive), for the most part, are driven by the vital (life) consciousness – BUT, in the modern world since the “Enlightenment,” live more and more wholly on the surface, cut off from the inner magic and mythic consciousness, yet almost wholly ruled by one of the 3 levels of the vital (2nd, 3rd, and 4th chakra – or in simple English, ruled respectively by petty desire, ambition for power or for emotional connection and attachment).

      Sri Aurobindo notes somewhere it is only a tiny fraction of humanity that truly lives guided by the thinking mind (the “sattwic” individual of traditional Indian philosophy) and of course only a fraction of that even remotely guided by the true Spirit or Self.

      A very small fraction is open to the “inner” worlds but it is only the tiniest fraction that actually can move with some ease in those worlds. I’m a member of several online lucid dreaming groups – which are basically about gaining conscious access to the inner worlds of myth and magic – and having practiced this for decades, I can say with some assurance that sustained and easeful contact with these realms is reserved for very very few.

      The beauty, for me, of Sri Aurobindo’s psycho-cosmological terminology is that virtually every term is applicable to:

      the physical universe
      individual animal and human psychology
      the inner worlds
      the upper, causal planes of Reality (the Logos, “Supramental,” Vijnana, Rta of the Vedas and Nous of the Greeks)
      and the innermost realm of the individual and cosmic Soul and Self.

      This is truly integral; every term implicitly refers to every aspect of the inner and outer realms, upper and lower hemispheres, and the innermost Reality of Being. It is like a fractal Recognition of All in All and Each in Each.

      Grasping this even dimly, one begins to see how extraordinary just understanding what he means by the “vital” – (which is, in a more philosophic rendering, the reflection in the lower hemisphere of Being of the transcendental Shakti, the power of the Mother).

      Gebser, primarily concerned with identifying several structures of consciousness in the human, acknowledged himself that Sri Aurobindo was presenting a far more comprehensive cosmological outlook, and for all humanity rather than primarily for the Westerner.

      It’s probably best not to try to make such correlations as they take away from understanding the excellent passage you quoted.

      one minor point – Sri Aurobindo in his later writings (the passage you excerpted was written around WW I) confined the use of the word “psychic” to the Soul; when he was writing earlier, he sometimes used it to refer to the “psychic realms”; meaning the lower and inner or subliminal realms that are more closely related to Gebser’s “magic” and “mythic” structures. One can’t really distinguish the vital and psychisitic in the earlier writings; you could make a somewhat flimsy case that he is referring to the 2nd and 3rd chakra by “Vital” and 4th by “psychistic; but actually in his Letters on Yoga he always refers to the vital as encompassing the 2nd to 4th chakras.

      • InfiniteWarrior says :

        Sri Aurobindo in his later writings…confined the use of the word “psychic” to the Soul

        Leave it to the erstwhile English major to voice the loudest complaints about our apparent inability as a species to “leap tall buildings in a single bound”.

        What tall buildings, one might ask? Why, words, of course.

        “Psyche” originally meant “soul,” even in the West. The term appears to have undergone its own process of reductionism, eventually becoming narrowly defined as “mind” (and the “contents” of the mind) alone in the objective sense. The “secular” “sciences of the mind,” obviously, were originally part and parcel of the once-upon-a-time “domain” of the religions and have been under the gun from the outset to follow the Western (physical) scientific method and its insistence upon empirical proof of this or that. (As we’ve discussed in the past: the word, “know”, has undergone the same reductive process.)

        I’m entirely unsure how we’ll ever get past this debacle unless we tease out these meanings and restructure them in new and accessible ways. Gebser, et al, obviously thought so. Thus, all the neologisms — which are far better than most — logically-speaking, especially.

        After all, one cannot even say or write, ‘god’ or ‘goddess’ (small “g”) these days — i.e. the “essence” of “who” you are — without utterly unnecessary difficulties in commun-ication arising. In fact, one cannot even say or write “essence” without eyebrows going up, and — if you don’t believe me — just ask Almaas.

        And, all this, despite the fact that ‘g-d’ (ntm, “essence”, et al) is just another word for “the ineffable” or “mysterious”. (Thus, the universal agreement that the “true name (or label) cannot be spoken.” )

        “Consciousness” appears to be perfectly acceptable term these days, though. I suppose that’s a good start, if nothing else. I like to imagine that if we ever learn to stop tripping over words as a species, we might actually “come of one mind”, to borrow Lyons’ term for it; mutually decide to “leap” beyond such dualistic nonsense; and effect the long overdue course correction we all know is required of us together.

      • mikemackd says :

        Don, speaking as one who does not claim to be one of the very few, can you help me here?

        Sri Aurobindo wrote:

        “Love has a place in politics, but is the love of one’s country, for one’s countrymen, for the glory, greatness and happiness of the race, the divine ‘ananda’ of self-immolation for one’s fellows, the ecstasy of relieving their sufferings, the joy of seeing one’s blood flow for country and freedom, the bliss of union in death with the fathers of the race.”9

        Sri Aurobindo. The Doctrine of Passive Resistance, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, 2nd Edition, 1952, pp. 83-84.

        Would not the chanters of “blood and soil” agree?

        Yet Sri Aurobindo also wrote:

        “The military power, the political and commercial ambitions of Germany and her acute sense of her confined geographical position and her encirclement by an unfriendly alliance were the immediate moral cause of this particular war; but the real cause lay in the very nature of the international situation and the psychology of national life. The chief feature of this psychology is the predominance and worship of national egoism under the sacred name of patriotism. Every national ego, like every organic life, desires a double self-fulfilment, intensive and extensive or expansive. The deepening and enriching of its culture, political strength and economic well-being within its borders is not felt to be sufficient if there is not, without, an extension or expansion of its culture, an increase of its political extent, dominion, power or influence and a masterful widening of its commercial exploitation of the world. This natural and instinctive desire is not an abnormal moral depravity but the very instinct of egoistic life; and what life at present is not egoistic? But it can be satisfied only to a very limited degree by peaceful and unaggressive means. And where it feels itself hemmed in by obstacles that it thinks it can overcome, opposed by barriers, encircled, dissatisfied with a share of possession and domination it considers disproportionate to its needs and its strength, or where new possibilities of expansion open out to it in which only its strength can obtain for it its desirable portion, it is at once moved to the use of some kind of force and can only be restrained by the amount of resistance it is likely to meet.”

        “So long as any kind of militarism survives, so long as fields of political or commercial aggrandisement are there and so long as national egoisms live and are held sacred and there is no final check on their inherent instinct of expansion, war will be always a possibility and almost a necessity of the life of the human peoples.”

        Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, Chapter 24, The Need of Military Unification, pp 207-208.

        When he asks above, “what life at present is not egoistic?”, does he include his former utterance, that love has no place in politics, except nationalistic love, and all the rest of it? I know he was conceiving the nation as a way station of the way to universal brotherhood, but is it really? I see no evidence of that.Rather, at least in my experience, there is a revaluation of values, and nationalism gets devalued.

        I know he referred to the discussion of Krishna and Arjuna in the Bhavagad Gita, but was that really about nationalism? Is the only trans-egoic “nationalism” actually what one may term Earthism?

        • mikemackd says :

          Here’s something at
          that may supply part of the answer:


          Aurobindo stresses the point that this unity would not be based in a system, or a creed, or belief, or ritual. These are the things which traditionally constitute religion. As Aurobindo points out, by and large the project of religion has failed, if its attempt has been to help humanity realize its divine unity. Aurobindo’s solution is for us to realize that there is “a divine Reality, in which we are all one.” This understanding would necessarily transcend the boundaries of nationality, race, religion, economics, because its source is deeper than any of these more superficial traits of humanity. Getting to the spiritual source of humanity is where we would find the basic commonality and real oneness which, if properly understood and communed with, could possibly foster a prevalent psychic unity among all humans. For this to truly happen, the realization would have to be based in a mystical-type consciousness of non-duality. This psychic unity would be grounded in a level of communication deeper and more primal than verbal language. …

          .Towards the end of The Ideal of Human Unity Aurobindo describes what this might look like:

          A spiritual religion of humanity is the hope of the future. By this is not meant what it ordinarily called a universal religion, a system, a thing of creed and intellectual belief and dogma and outward rite. Mankind has tried unity by that means; it has failed and deserved to fail, because there can be no universal religious system, one in mental creed and vital form. The inner spirit is indeed one, but more than any other the spiritual life insists on freedom and variation in its self-expression and means of development. A religion of humanity means the growing realisation that there is a secret Spirit, a divine Reality, in which we are all one, that humanity is its highest present vehicle on earth, that the human race and the human being are the means by which it will progressively reveal itself here. It implies a growing attempt to live out this knowledge and bring about a kingdom of this divine Spirit upon earth. By its growth within us oneness with our fellow-men will become the leading principle of all our life, not merely a principle of cooperation but a deeper brotherhood, a real and an inner sense of unity and equality and a common life (Heehs, 1998, 154).

          END QUOTES

        • donsalmon says :

          Hi Mike:

          Your question is excellent and has been the focus of enormous controversy in India, as the far Right has appropriated his writings from the first decade of the 20th century, which were meant to inspire the demoralized citizens of India, who had been told for over 100 years that they were the products of a demonic, heathen, vastly inferior civilization and their only salvation was in learning the mores of the far superior white civilization of Britain, and submitting to their British masters.

          taking the paragraph you excerpted:

          Love has a place in politics, but it is the love for one’s country, for one’s countrymen, for the glory, greatness and happiness of the race, the divine aananda of self-immolation for one’s fellows, the ecstacy of relieving their sufferings, the joy of seeing one’s blood flow for country and freedom, the bliss of union in death with the fathers of the race. The feeling of almost physical delight in the touch of the mother soil, of the winds that blow from Indian seas, of the rivers that stream from Indian hills, in the sight of Indian surroundings, Indian men, Indian women, Indian children, in the hearing of Indian speech, music, poetry, in the familiar sights, sounds, habits, dress, manners of our Indian life, this is the physical root of that love. The pride in our past, the pain of our present, the passion for the future are its trunk and branches. Self-sacrifice, self-forgetfulness, great service and high endurance for the country are its fruit. And the sap which keeps it alive is the realisation of the Motherhood of God in the country, the vision of the Mother, the knowledge of the Mother, the perpetual contemplation, adoration and service of the Mother.

          I think, if I understand it correctly, he is calling on his fellow Indians to rise from what in Indian philosophy is called “tamas” – inertia, sloth, unconsciousness, – to a kind of rajasic/sattvic mentality – he is appealing to their egos, their selfish pride as Indians, and also calling on them to rise above their personal emotions at the same time (“love of country rather than love of self) and yet at the end, hinting at a deeper love beyond selfish nationalism, the vision of the Mother, of God, “perpetual contemplate, adoration and service of the Mother.” He knew that the mass of people, hearing of self-sacrifice and genuine self giving to God, would take it in a tamasic way rather than a spiritual way, and he felt the Indian people of that time needed to be appealed to where they were at, which meant stoking their anger at the British, appealing to a more mature, higher mentality, and also inspiring their yet deeper soul (“psychic”) nature.

          He continued to advise Indian leaders until his death in 1950. Most people agree that if Nehru (I think it was Nehru??) and others in the Indian Congress had taken his suggestions in the early 1940s, Pakistan would never have split off from India.

          I don’t think it’s appropriate for the current Indian Right to take his words out of context but I understand why people take them the way they do.

          Here is the whole passage:

          The Morality of Boycott

          (1906-1908: On Nationalism, pp. 360-364)

          AGES AGO there was a priest of Baal who thought himself commissioned by the god to kill all who did not bow the knee to him. All men, terrified by the power and ferocity of the priest, bowed down before the idol and pretended to be his servants; and the few who refused had to take refuge in hills and deserts. At last a deliverer came and slew the priest and the world had rest. The slayer was blamed by those who placed religion in quietude and put passivity forward as the ideal ethics, but the world looked on him as an incarnation of God.
          A certain class of minds shrink from aggressiveness as if it were a sin. Their temperament forbids them to feel the delight of battle and they look on what they cannot understand as something monstrous and sinful. “Heal hate by love, drive out injustice by justice, slay sin by righteousness” is their cry. Love is a sacred name, but it is easier to speak of love than to love. The love which drives out hate, is a divine quality of which only one man in a thousand is capable. A saint full of love for all mankind possesses it, a philanthropist consumed with the desire to heal the miseries of the race possesses it, but the mass of mankind do not and cannot rise to that height. Politics is concerned with masses of mankind and not with individuals. To ask masses of mankind to act as saints, to rise to the height of divine love and practise it in relation to their adversaries or oppressors is to ignore human nature. It is to set a premium on injustice and violence by paralysing the hand of the deliverer when raised to strike. The Gita is the best answer to those who shrink from battle as a sin and aggression as a lowering of morality.

          A poet of sweetness and love who has done much to awaken Bengal, has written deprecating the Boycott as an act of hate. The saintliness of spirit which he would see brought into politics is the reflex of his own personality colouring the political ideals of a sattwic race. But in reality the Boycott is not an act of hate. It is an act of self-defence, of aggression for the sake of self- preservation. To call it an act of hate is to say that a man who is being slowly murdered, is not justified in striking out at his murderer. To tell that man that he must desist from using the first effective weapon that comes to his hand because the blow would be an act of hate, is precisely on a par with this deprecation of boycott. Doubtless the self-defender is not precisely actuated by feelings of holy sweetness towards his assailant, but to expect so much from human nature is impracticable. Certain religions demand it, but they have never been practised to the letter by their followers.

          Hinduism recognizes human nature and makes no such impossible demand. It sets one ideal for the saint, another for the man of action, a third for the trader, a fourth for the serf. To prescribe the same ideal for all is to bring about varNasankara the confusion of duties, and destroy society and the race. If we are content to be serfs, then indeed boycott is a sin for us, not because it is a violation of love, but because it is a violation of the Sudra’s duty of obedience and contentment. Politics is the field of the Kshatriya and the morality of the Kshatriya ought to govern our political actions. To impose on politics the Brahminical duty of saintly sufferance, is to preach varNasankara.

          Love has a place in politics, but it is the love for one’s country, for one’s countrymen, for the glory, greatness and happiness of the race, the divine aananda of self-immolation for one’s fellows, the ecstacy of relieving their sufferings, the joy of seeing one’s blood flow for country and freedom, the bliss of union in death with the fathers of the race. The feeling of almost physical delight in the touch of the mother soil, of the winds that blow from Indian seas, of the rivers that stream from Indian hills, in the sight of Indian surroundings, Indian men, Indian women, Indian children, in the hearing of Indian speech, music, poetry, in the familiar sights, sounds, habits, dress, manners of our Indian life, this is the physical root of that love. The pride in our past, the pain of our present, the passion for the future are its trunk and branches. Self-sacrifice, self-forgetfulness, great service and high endurance for the country are its fruit. And the sap which keeps it alive is the realisation of the Motherhood of God in the country, the vision of the Mother, the knowledge of the Mother, the perpetual contemplation, adoration and service of the Mother.

          Other love than this is foreign to the motives of political action. Between nation and nation there is justice, partiality, chivalry, duty but not love. All love is either individual or for the self in the race or for the self in mankind. It may exist between individuals of different races, but the love of one race for another is a thing foreign to nature. When, therefore, the Boycott as declared by the lndian race against the British is stigmatised for want of love, the charge is bad psychology as well as bad morality. It is interest warring against interest, and hatred is directed not really against the race but against the adverse interest. If the British exploitation were to cease tomorrow, the hatred against the British race would disappear in a moment. A partial adhyaaropa makes the ignorant for the moment see in the exploiters and not in the exploitation the receptacle of the hostile feeling. But like all Maya it is an unreal and fleeting sentiment and is not shared by those who think. Not hatred against foreigners, but antipathy to the evils of foreign exploitation is the true root of Boycott.

          If hatred is demoralising, it is also stimulating. The web of life has been made a mingled strain of good and evil and God works His ends through the evil as well as through the good. Let us discharge our minds of hate, but let us not deprecate a great and necessary movement because, in the inevitable course of human nature, it has engendered feelings of hostility and hatred. If hatred came, it was necessary that it should come as a stimulus, as a means of awakening. When tamas, inertia, torpor have benumbed a nation, the strongest forms of rajas are necessary to break the spell, and there is no form of rajas so strong as hatred. Through rajas we rise to sattva, and for the Indian temperament, the transition does not take long. Already the element of hatred is giving place to the clear conception of love for the Mother as the spring of our political actions.

          Another question is the use of violence in the furtherance of boycott. This is, in our view, purely a matter of policy and expediency. An act of violence brings us into conflict with the law and such a conflict maybe inexpedient for a race circumstanced like ours. But the moral question does not arise. The argument that to use violence is to interfere with personal liberty involves a singular misunderstanding of the very nature of politics. The whole of politics is an interference with personal liberty. Law is such an interference, Protection is such an interference, the rule which makes the will of the majority prevail is such an interference. The right to prevent such use of personal liberty as will injure the interests of the race, is the fundamental law of society. From this point of view the nation is only using its primary right when it restrains the individual from buying or selling foreign goods.

          It may be argued that peaceful compulsion is one thing and violent compulsion another. Social boycott may be justifiable, but not the burning or drowning of British goods. The latter method, we reply, is illegal and therefore may be inexpedient, but it is not morally unjustifiable. The morality of the Kshatriya justifies violence in times of war, and Boycott is a war. Nobody blames the Americans for throwing British tea into Boston harbour, nor can anybody blame similar action in India on moral grounds. It is reprehensible from the point of view of law, of social peace and order, not of political morality. It has been eschewed by us because it is unwise and carries the battle on to a ground where we are comparatively weak, from a ground where we are strong. Under other circumstances we might have followed the American precedent, and if we had done so, historians and moralists would have applauded, not censured.

          Justice and righteousness are the atmosphere of political morality, but the justice and righteousness of the fighter, not of the priest. Aggression is unjust only when unprovoked, violence unrighteous when used wantonly or for unrighteous ends. It is a barren philosophy which applies a mechanical rule to all actions, or takes a word and tries to fit all human life into it. The sword of the warrior is as necessary to the fulfilment of justice and righteousness as the holiness of the saint. Ramdas is not complete without Shivaji. To maintain justice and prevent the strong from despoiling and the weak from being oppressed is the. function for which the Kshatriya was created. Therefore, says Srikrishna in the Mahabharat, God created battle and armour, the sword, the bow and the dagger.

          Mankind is of a less terrestrial mould than some would have him to be. He has an element of the divine which the practical politician ignores. The practical politician looks to the position at the moment and imagines that he has taken everything into consideration. He has indeed studied the surface and the immediate surroundings, but he has missed what lies beyond material vision. He has left out of account the divine, the incalculable in man, that element which upsets the calculations of the schemer and disconcerts the wisdom of the diplomat.

          • donsalmon says :

            I forgot to mention that Sri Aurobindo held essentially the same position as leader of the independence movement that Gandhi held after Sri Aurobindo “retired” to pondicherry in South India.

            Sri Aurobindo remained, throughout his life, adamantly opposed to Gandhi’s literal interpretation of non-violence. He had come up with the idea of “non-cooperation” but Gandhi concretized it in ways that quite probably led to a number of failures which otherwise could have been avoided.

  3. Scott Preston says :

    Very important to discern among the vitalistic/animistic, the psychistic, the mentalistic, and the authentically spiritual or integral. These do correspond to Blake’s “four Zoas” of the disintegrate “Albion” and, of course, to Gebser’s “structures of consciousness”.

    The great danger in this “Age of Subjectivism” is for the mentalistic to be overwhelmed or swallowed up or to become intoxicated with the irruptions of the vitalistic or psychistic without the moderating factor of the mental and its sense of proportionality (or ratio).

    This is the reason I emphasise Rosenstock-Huessy’s “cross of reality” or “the Guardians of the Four Directions” or the indigenous “Sacred Hoop”, or Blake’s “fourfold vision”.

  4. Pat says :

    Please explain the perils and dangers of subjectivism better. Thanks.

    • Scott Preston says :

      That may take some time, since the realm of the subjective includes all that belongs to the personal and the collective unconscious, which includes the Jungian “Shadow”. In other words, any chaotic emotion within also becomes chaos without. “Storms to the stormy” as Seth once put it. And if, as Mumford also puts it, our “inside” has now become our “outside” (as it is in the Global Brain and the Dream Society) then the implications are that so is the Shadow. This is what Paul Levy wrote about, too, in some of his writings on “Wetiko” (for example: )

  5. Scott Preston says :

    There’s a further statement today on the Aurobindo website on this issue of “the group-soul”

    This is actually found also in Swedenborg and in Blake, as well.

  6. Scott Preston says :

    “Where there is a harbinger, the thing-to-come itself seems intent in demonstrating the possibility of its own realization (encapsulated by Bloch’s term Vor-schein ‘pre-appearance’). Things in the future have the ability to symbolically manifest themselves in advance” Peter Sloterdijk

  7. mikemackd says :

    “It is therefore, a source of great virtue for the practised mind to learn, bit by bit, first to change about in visible and transitory things, so that afterwards it may be able to leave them behind altogether. The person who finds his homeland sweet is a tender beginner; he to whom every soil is as his native one is already strong; but he is perfect to whom the entire world is as a foreign place. The tender soul has fixed his love on one spot in the world; the strong person has extended his love to all places; the perfect man has extinguished his”.

    Hugo of Saint Victor (c. 1096-1141)

    And, I repeat the closing paragraph of Needleman’s :“Lost Christianity” (Element Books, 1990):

    “The inner and outer world have been misunderstood, and this misunderstanding has had disastrous consequences both for Christianity and modern culture. The outer world is not the world of things ‘out there’ in space. The inner world is not the world of thoughts and emotions ‘inside’ the psyche. On the contrary, it is the world of ‘thoughts and emotions’ that is the outer world. Yet these same ‘thoughts and emotions’ have been given a name that was meant to designate what is highest and most inner in man: the soul.”

  8. Charles says :

    Good writing as usual. I can suggest that a quality of life is learning. What the learning process seems to be about is paradoxically – unity in diversity and diversity in unity. The Tao. Empathy, non-violence, love.

    • mikemackd says :

      Hi Charles,

      >> What the learning process seems to be about is paradoxically – unity in diversity and diversity in unity. The Tao

      Yes, learning extends beyond words, into the Tao that cannot be defined.

  9. Leo says :

    If correct, which I suspect it may be, I wonder where this leaves any evolutionary models of consciousness?

    • mikemackd says :

      I strongly suspect so, too, Leo. The statement that “no one else will dare mention” is untrue, though: many have.

      As for evolutionary models of consciousness: mountain climbing can be dangerous, mind climbing, even more so:

      Oh the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall
      Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed, Hold them cheap
      May who ne’er hung there.

      Gerard Manly Hopkins, Carrion Comfort, p. 61

      And soul-climbing can be more dangerous still, but it seems that’s what at least some of us are here for. Back in the 1970’s Matthew Fox outlined some of those dangers with a ladder metaphor, and contrasted them with a circle metaphor;

      (Fox, M. 1979. A spirituality named compassion and the healing of the global village, humpty dumpty and us. Minneapolis: Winston. p. 45.)

      In order, he had Ladder and Circle contrasted as follows:
      Ladder Circle
      Up/Down In/Out
      Flat Earth Global Village
      Climbing Dancing, Celebrating
      Sisyphian Satisfying
      Competition Shared Ecstasies
      Restrictive Elitist: Welcoming, Non-Elitist
      Survival of the Fittest Survival of All
      Hierarchical Democratic
      Violent Strong and Gentle
      Sky-Oriented Earth-Oriented
      Ruthlessly Independent Interdependent
      Jealous and Judgment-Oriented Pride-Producing and Non-Judgemental
      Abstract, Distance-Making Nurturing and Sensual
      Linear, Ladder-Like Curved, Circle-Like
      Theistic (immanent or transcendent) Pantheistic (transparent)
      Love of Neighbor is Separate from
      Love of What is at the Top Love of Neighbor is Love of God.

      Unlike Fox, while his table is useful I do not see those qualities as ultimately dichotomous, or up a ladder, or in a circle, but rather as Blake’s contraries for progression up a spiral towards implementing wisdom and compassion by skilful means, and as I have said before, within a holarchies in heterarchic relationships i.e. a messy mesh of spirals, with spirals within spirals, vicious ones as well as virtuous ones.

      Hierarchies, as in Fox’s ladder-folk, are in there too, for our machine minds, which we all have, even chickens: pecking orders, enboxing others into boxes of your own design. Too much ladder, Lucifer becomes Satan; yet too much circle can be stifling. Sattvas, Rajas, Tamas: our ladders need balancing, for the fall frightful is now before us.

      As I have stated here before, I am no expert on Sri Aurobindo, but Don certainly sounds like one to me, so I hope he can help me understand how the explanatory quote he gave in answer to me above from Sri Aurobindo does not demonstrate some of the dangers of mind climbing, including Ulro’s error re castes. I assume the answers are in Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s 2007 publication, The Hierarchy Of Minds (Sri Aurobindo Ashram Publication Department), but don’t know so, as I haven’t read it. .

      So, Leo, even if no more evolution of consciousness, no ladder, no spiral, no Teilhard De Chardin’s Omega Point (though it seems so graspable from atop our slipping, sinking, toppling ladders), circles are still possible until our extinction. Faith without good works is dead; but good works without hope? Maybe still soul-climbing, maybe not, but not dead either way.

      • Scott Preston says :

        Appropriate quote from Hopkins. Especially pertinent for understanding some aspects of “the Global Brain”.

      • Leo says :

        Mike, I must admit that in regards to climate change and the destruction of the environment I fluctuate between hope and resignation. Hillman’s prescription brings to mind Kubler-Ross’s five stages of grief, with acceptance being the ultimate stage, which brings a kind of peace and determination to do as much as one can to make the most of whatever time remains. In this view, I guess that hope is really false hope.

        On the other hand, I am also actively involved in Paul Hawken’s Drawdown movement, which is the by far the most hopeful prognosis I’ve come across so far (at least that doesn’t avoid or deny the ecological realities of our predicament). See here for more info:

        Somewhat schizophrenic, I know. In my heart of heart do I believe it can be done? I guess I’m undecided but it feels important to at least try.

        • mikemackd says :

          Interesting comment, interesting links. Thank you for both.

          >> I guess I’m undecided but it feels important to at least try.

          So do I.

          • InfiniteWarrior says :

            Come now, fellows. None of us are alone. It just very often seems that way.

            I had an experience… I can’t prove it, I can’t even explain it, but everything that I know as a human being, everything that I am tells me that it was real! I was given something wonderful, something that changed me forever… A vision of the universe that tells us, undeniably, how tiny, and insignificant and how … rare, and precious we all are! A vision that tells us that we belong to something that is greater than ourselves, that we are not — that none of us — are alone! ~ (The character of) Ellie Arroway, Contact

            : )

            To think daily about climate change and any of its dire implications can be a crushing psychological burden. Each of us is just one mammal, with all our mammalian limitations—we get tired, sad, irritated, sick, overwhelmed—and the climate crisis wields the force of 8 billion humans with infrastructure, corporations, capital, politics, and imaginations heavily invested in burning fossil fuel….

            If humans pulled together as if our lives depended on it, we could leave fossil fuel in a matter of years. This would require radical change across global society, and I’m not suggesting it will happen. But it could, and this possibility leaves open a middle path, something between sweeping climate action and an unavoidable planetary collision—a rapid cultural shift, one that we all can contribute to through our conversations and our daily actions. And that’s a very hopeful thing. — The Best Medicine for My Climate Grief

            Don’t you just love possibilities?

            A team of international researchers released what looks like a blueprint for catastrophe this week. On our current path, they warned, humanity might push the planet into an entirely new, hellish equilibrium, unseen since before the emergence of our species millions of years ago.

            “Building a world that works for everyone is exactly what we should refocus our efforts on doing when we read scientific studies that scare the hell out of us,” writes Eric Holthaus via @NatObserver
            This doomsday scenario, which they dubbed “hothouse Earth,” could render large swaths of our planet uninhabitable. Their conclusion: “Humanity is now facing the need for critical decisions and actions that could influence our future for centuries, if not millennia.”

            But that message got lost in the breathless media coverage over “hothouse Earth” — even though it’s the most important thing each one of us needs to hear at perhaps the most important turning point in our species’ history. — Terrified by ‘hothouse Earth’? Don’t despair — do something

            • Leo says :

              Thanks, IW. I do indeed hope that as things get ever more undeniably worse, so the creative energies of humanity will be increasingly channelled into a regenerative culture rather than being syphoned off into economic growth at all costs as they are now.

              I’m less clear about the extent to which we might be able to limit and/or reverse the damage we have done. There’s a great deal of thermal inertia in the global system, particularly the oceans, that would keep the planet warming for many decades even if all CO2 emissions dropped to zero today. However, I completely agree that’s absolutely no reason not to try.

            • mikemackd says :

              This appeared on my Facebook page today:

              cultural creatives are the fastest growing subculture in the United States, yet most of these creative individuals feel they are alone.


              I guess I’m supposed to be more alone still in Kabul. But it doesn’t feel that way. The people here have been very welcoming.

            • donsalmon says :

              Hey Mike – very interesting to reflect on Ray’s research. Paul Ray came up with 3 categories, about 30 or so years ago: Traditionalists, Modernists and Cultural Creatives.

              This correlates (very) roughly to Sri Aurobindo’s conventional, individual and subjective categories.

              It’s a helpful way of understanding the ferocity of the reaction to the world wide cultural revolutions of the 1960s and 70s. The alt-Right is made up of an odd mix of the most unbalanced of the Traditionalists and Modernists (fundamentalist evangelicals and bankster/corporatists). Knowing that the subjectivist reality is the transition that is inevitable, they sense this, and so you have the vital subjectivism that Sri Aurobindo warned about, the false subjectivism, the kind that Gary Lachman has described so beautifully – Steve Bannon completely misunderstanding the dharma of the Bhagavad Gita and reaching back to dark occultists like Julius Evola.

              Not as many people know that Ray identified a smaller subgroup in the 1980s and 90s – the “spiritual” cultural creatives. I think he estimated about 10% back then; but if you consider that among millennials – at least in the US – about 25% consider themselves “spiritual but not religious” – which, to the extent it’s not a narcissistic spiritual supermarket approach but genuine – is quite close to Ray’s “spiritual cultural creatives.”

              Sri Aurobindo prophesied a centuries-long transition of struggling through these various forms of false and true subjectivism on the way to a truly spiritualized society.

            • mikemackd says :

              I forgot to mention that I also referred to that article here because it also referred to the chrysalis to butterfly metaphor.

            • mikemackd says :

              Thanks for this, Don; We all need an antidote to all this doom and gloom.

              Let’s keep hoping that our species still have those centuries ahead of it that Sri Aurobindo said we need before the emergence of a truly spiritualised society. No point in waiting around for it though. Our time is for it is now.

            • donsalmon says :

              Doom and gloom?? what me worry! oy vey…..

              “All is well, all shall be well.” Julian of Norwich.

              Lorna, a friend of mine was visiting back in the mid 1970s. I was living with my brother at the time, Bob, who was temperamentally much more of a pessimist than I. Lorna was perhaps somewhere in between, though a bit more inclined toward pessimism (though having enough perspective to laugh at her uncle, who she said could inevitably be counted on to find a cloud for every silver lining).

              Well, I went out one day on my own, and came back to hear Lorna and Bob laughing, (irked as they had been by my generally overly cheery demeanor) as she was playing the guitar and singing, to the tune of “Tis a Gift to be Simple”:

              Tis a DRAG to be simple
              Tis a DRAG to be (whatever, and so on…)

              I realize it can get a bit irksome to be too much of a pollyanna, but i’ve always had trouble understanding the whole “what is the origin of evil” thing, to give just one example. And it’s not that I haven’t had a few run-ins with some pretty bad stuff (my friends were all trying to convince me to move out of the barrio in the far eastern section of New York’s East Village – the year I lived there the Daily News declared my block to be the most dangerous in all of Manhattan – I finally did move a year and a half later, inspired in no small part by seeing young man get his throat slit in a drug-war knife fight; I’ve been mugged at knife point, my wife was held up at gun point, and I don’t think i ever knew anyone in NY who hasn’t had similar stories.

              And I thought I had heard and seen everything til I moved south and started doing disability evaluations (Lori, some of my skewed view of the South may come from hearing several thousand rather horrendous tales of abuse and yes, at times, torture among disabled applicants).

              And yet – I remain:

     (the song starts around 50″ – pretty song too, no?

              I know I’ve posted this before, but remember Ramakrishna’s response when asked about why God allows evil?

              “To thicken the plot”

              It just doesn’t get any better than that. There’s more wisdom in those 4 words than in 4000 volumes of religious apologetics.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              among disabled applicants

              We’ve simply got to do something about that whole “disabled” notion. ; )

            • mikemackd says :

              Lovely, Don: thanks.

            • mikemackd says :

              I once got to sing “Some Enchanted Evening” at a performance of highlights from “South Pacific”; point of difference; we were in the South Pacific (Vanuatu)..

              We also sang “There ain’t nothing like a dame. Here’s are those songs and that same lass at the 2008 Tony awards.


    • Scott Preston says :

      Yes, I recall reading that article on Mayer Hillman when it came out. (I think I even posted a link to it?).

      We seem well on course for realising Gebser’s “global catastrophe” or Mumford’s “total disintegration”. Our situation looks bleak indeed, but I doubt that “global” or “total” mean the “absolute”. Even Hillman steps away from the prospect of the Absolute Catastrophe, which would be the end of the Earth and all life on it.

      There’s a certain irony in the underground “seed vaults” and such things that have been prepared lately. We may be following those seeds ourselves — relatively large groups of people moving underground once again. That would be appropriately mythical, too — the return to the womb of the Earth. We do live mythically, after all, whether we realise it or not, and those latent myths tend to become actualised as our physical reality. “What is now prov’d was once only imagined”, as Blake put it. But we aren’t necessarily aware that our latent dreaming or imagination eventually manifests as our overt reality.

      So, I don’t think it’s finis for consciousness. I take some small consolation from Rumi’s poem “Green Ears”

      • InfiniteWarrior says :

        Eon (or) flux?”


        The emotional and psychic resonance of a particular people at a particular time is not a series of snapshots that can be stuck together to make a montage, it is a living, breathing, winding movement that flows out of the past and into the future while making its unique present. This fixity and flux is never clear until we are beyond it, into a further fixity and flux….” ~ Angela Lambert


  10. mikemackd says :

    Speaking of nations and of climate change, Australia’s Malcolm Turnbull, a Goldman Sachs alumni, has just been toppled by the hard right. The toppling was led by Peter Dutton, a chap who makes Darth Vader look like Tiny Tim, but he lost out in the party room to Scott Morrison, a virulently anti-asylum seeker coal-loving evangelical proud that Trump has allegedly followed his anti-immigrants lead. The catalyst was that Turnbull was not a climate change denier, and dared to try to limit emissions.

    As Cornell West said long ago, “The severing of ties to churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques by the left intelligentsia is tantamount to political
    suicide; it turns the pessimism of many self-defeating and self-pitying
    secular progressive intellectuals into a self-fulfilling prophecy” (West 1990,The American evasion of philosophy, p. 234). Even though Australia is a far more secular country than the USA, right wing religious extremists there now rule the roost, and will soon get the world’s largest coal exporter exporting more still.

    After all, God gave us all this coal, didn’t he? It was hardly so we should leave it it the ground! Why, that would be so very ungrateful of us. Now: show me the money.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Yes, was following that a bit with some interest. The reactionary mind at work. There’s been some real setbacks lately for the fate of the Earth — Trump in America, Doug Ford in Ontario, now this Morrison fellow.

      • Leo says :

        This might have something to do with it. Putin’s global military playbook for the last 20 years, and, worryingly, it looks like it’s working:

        • mikemackd says :

          Generous of Dugin to offer China “Indochina (except Vietnam), the Philippines, Indonesia, Australia”. However, if I were a Chinese person of similarly fascist mindset to Dugin, I would see Siberia as an infinitely more practicable and rewarding alternative in both the short and long term, particularly as climate change kicks in harder and harder. I expect such Chinese would already have that sorted.

          I think that call it “realpolitik”? Sieg Heil, and all that.

    • mikemackd says :

      Here’s an article by a former Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, describing Rupert Murdoch and his servitors as a Cancer eating the heart of Australian democracy.

      Murdoch’s power is not confined to Australia. I’d say he has damaged the USA and the UK at least as much. But his main effect seems to have been the massive acceleration of our species’ extinction, to join those uncountable other species we have driven to extinction even without Murdoch’s encouragement.

      • mikemackd says :

        As well as the power of Murdoch, another system Australia, the U.K. and the USA share is described in the second half of this video by Dr Richard D Wolff, who provides a framing rather like a set of scales, with the poorest 45% of the USA’s population being on one side of the scales, the middle 45% being on the other scale. Above them both, at the fulcrum of the scale, sit the richest 10%, who tilt the scales to always be in their favour.

        From this framing, Murdoch can be seen as their star scales manipulator in all three countries:

  11. Scott Preston says :

    Graphic interpretation of global temperature changes. It appears quite persuasive

  12. Scott Preston says :

    It might be worthwhile pointing out that the German verb for “win” is “siegen”, Sieg or Siegen could be simply translated as “winning”. The psychology behind these obsessions with “Sieg” or “Winning” is very similar, which is why some people are unsettled by Trump’s obsession with “winning”. You could actually translate “Sieg Heil!” as “Hail Winning!”

  13. Abdulmunem Othman says :

    Who made fixity and flux , high mountain and deep sea,night and day, head and heart, inner and outer,ugliness and beauty, sorrow and joy, hope and despair and the whole range of words and thoughts that causes the problems of the humans or provide them with rest and solution. Who provided us with faculties to interact with this world of thoughts, Why do we die if life is the base to serve without other purpose. It is quoting our understanding of this world of language as well as quoting others to help our understanding. He called humanity to read the creation at large and the human from a clot dangling from a ceiling of a well designed nourishing abode. It is a world of taste and desire that dovetails to the one that is the source of the many without stagnate in the many but to use the
    the flux of the many to deepen the appreciation of the return to the fixity of the one. It is the awareness of the beautiful names of the one and their opposite and the placement of the attention with the beautiful and the defiance to the opposites is the main purpose of the human life. What is religion but a system of words delivered by the prophets to guide humans in selecting the path of the truth. God never leaves humanity without spiritual guides to those who know how to enter the abode of silence to indulge in the process of interacting with the real. We are living n the time where the prophets errand will be performed by the many who have leaned to stop and clean their heart and mind, who know where their start and their finish line. it is a testing world whose signs are flashing everywhere .

  14. donsalmon says :

    Not exactly on topic, but of interest, I think, to folks here – the story of Joran Peterson committing to an all beef diet.

    Interesting factoid in the story – he claims that eating anything else had catastrophic effects. One example he gives is being unable to sleep for 25 days after drinking apple cider.

    Something clicked after reading that. Peterson always has looked depressed and somewhat anxious to me (the article mentions he’s struggled with both all of his life). But after claiming (speciously, but I guess, that’s redundant) to have broken the world record for going without sleep (11 days) by more than twice as much, I realized he most likely had some kind of manic episode.

    Somehow it ties together everything he’s been saying, his black and white view of the world, attachment to hyperbole, fear of chaos (aka “the feminine”) etc.

    • donsalmon says :

      If my assessment is accurate, with a bipolar Peterson and antisocial narcissistic personality disorder Trump, what does that say about the people who are drawn to them?

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