Archive | January 2019

The Mystery of the Fourfold Order

The rooster of lust, the peacock of wanting
to be famous, the crow of ownership, and the duck
of urgency, kill them and revive them
in another form, changed and harmless.

Rumi, “Muhammad and the Huge Eater”

Rumi is here speaking of the four “nafs” or “animal souls”. Not only are these nafs or animal souls comparable to the “four F’s” generally agreed among neurologists as the primal drives or imperatives — fight or flight, feeding and… procreation — they have their counterpart in William Blake’s “four Zoas” or four “beasts”, who Blake refers to as the “four mighty ones” who “reside in the Human Brain”, and who are patterned also after the four beasts who protectively surround the Throne of God in the Book of Revelation. That same pattern is described as the “fourfold Atman” in the Upanishads, whose essence is Brahman. Atman is very likely related to the name Adam, and is in Greek the primal Anthropos, who is the human form as the Androgyne. This is what Blake names “Albion”.

But for the moment, let’s compare Rumi’s four nafs with Blake’s four Zoas of “Albion divided fourfold”, which Blake also saw symbolised as Christ on the Cross — the fateful Tree.

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The Body and Climate

Last evening I watched a flick on Youtube called The Last Air Bender. (“Flick” is a bit dated, now. More like a “stream”). It’s a silly movie in some respects but with a serious theme derived from Taoism and other sources, principally the doctrine of the four elements. In the scenario depicted in the movie, the earth’s peoples are divided into four nations — Fire Nation, Water Nation, Earth Nation, and Air Nation. The Fire Nation has gone somewhat beserk and hubristic, and now attempts to violently dominate the other nations bringing about a warring of the elements. Into this chaos arises “the Avatar” who, though primarily of the “air” element (an “air bender”) is tasked with integrating the four elements of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water.

So, as you might see, there is something here also of Blake’s “four Zoas” and their re-integration in “Albion”, who is the avatar of the Atman.

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The Inscrutable Dark

“Power remains strong when it remains in the dark; exposed to the sunlight it begins to evaporate.” — Samuel Huntington

We are warned today, from many quarters, that unless the human race now changes its ways and transcends itself it will become unviable as a species owing to a failure to meet the existential challenges and proliferating crises it has largely created for itself. The human must become a new being or perish.

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Aperspectivity and Proprioception, II

We have been exploring what Heraclitus may have meant by the term “ethos” (and particularly ethos as fate), and in yesterday’s post I suggested that the ethos of modernity has its roots in the invention of perspectivism in the Renaissance. Perspectivism suggested a whole new metaphysics and a new attitude towards our reality that we may fairly say represented a complete restructuration of consciousness and perception — the structure we refer to as the “mental-rational” or “perspectival” consciousness which is now (in our “post-modern condition”) under great stress and in great distress. This is coincident with the “Anthropocene”.

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Aperspectivity and Proprioception

Apologies (if apologies are necessary) for my recent absence. As some may recall, I have stage 5 kidney disease and I had a bit of a relapse lately that has required ongoing medical attention.

I left off our discussion of Heraclitus and his “ethos anthropos daimon” (usually translated as “character is fate”) with the suggestion that what Heraclitus means by “ethos” could be interpreted, rather, as a “structure of consciousness” in Jean Gebser’s terms, or what we might call a “species of consciousness”, which pretty much means the same thing as “form” or “structure”. And, as you may recall, Gebser has identified four such species or structures in the history of consciousness — the archaic, the magical, the mythical, and the mental-rational — as well as a potential and prospective fifth development he calls “integral consciousness”. This potential and prospective new species of consciousness is also the theme of others such as William Blake (“fourfold vision”), Sri Aurobindo (“supramental consciousness”), and is quite probably the meaning of what Nietzsche anticipated as the “overman” or “transhuman”.

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