From the Fiction Files – “Charles Bigsby Does the Chaps Proud”

On the east coast of Australia, about a hundred kilometers south of Sydney – or perhaps four hundred kilometers south, though surely not more than that – you might, if passing through the town of Blue Ocean, spot Barnabas College, a private boarding school for boys. It was certainly one of the more scholarly schools I attended.

It was also one of the more expensive, and would have been beyond my father’s means except for the dramatically reduced fees applicable, courtesy of his appointment during my senior years to the security staff. My idealistic opposition to private schooling of the previous winter, inspired by a radical underground student newspaper – disseminated, briefly, through the dormitories of Sydney east’s equally exclusive Tresham College – was now only a hazy memory. Voluntary subjection to five months of inhumanity at Calamity High, a state school in some godforsaken suburb, had put paid to that, and I was grateful to have escaped to the more civilized environs of Barnabas.

“So are you in?” demanded Justin Thunderbright. It was the question I had been dreading. The chaps observed me intently.

I gazed out to sea, then down at the town below. Perched high on the hills of campus, it was possible to discern the rough-and-tumble crowds. Suited gentlemen stumbled from Magnificent Martingales harbor side to chambers on Main Street, reinvigorated, in all likelihood, by liquid lunches and a flutter on the markets. Councilors shuffled back to their drudgery in Town Square. Knockabout blokes departed taverns or promenades for docks and warehouses. Girls in short skirts / boys in scruffy shirts / lazed on the grounds of Overly High, the local state school. And tourists lingered on the beach or adjoining walkways. It all served as warning of what could befall a fellow if he failed in some way to live up to expectations.

I glanced back at the chaps, oppressed by their air of impatience, realizing I was not yet one of them, but sensing also that, through experience, I did possess some understanding of the situation. Having been chosen by my father to attend Barnabas, I knew something of the weight of expectation, and there was no doubt that few could be more burdened in this respect than the inimitable Charles Bigsby.

From birth, it seemed, Charles had been made aware of his responsibility to family tradition. It was not so much the Bigsby wealth that he was expected to accumulate more of, though, yes, there was wealth, and in time he would have to accumulate more of it. Nor was it a matter of influence, though, yes, the family had influence, and he would some day need to wield it. It was, first and foremost, a matter of academics.

Even so, I prevaricated. “Is the situation really so serious?” I asked, playing for time.

I received a unanimous snort from the chaps.

“It could hardly be more serious,” insisted Justin Thunderbright.

“My grades have totally crashed,” admitted Charles.

I was chastened by his humility and felt a wave of sympathy come over me. It was true, his grades had crashed in recent times, and now one of the college’s finest traditions was at risk.

“Perhaps I should have done more homework,” offered Charles.

“Nonsense,” said Thunderbright. “You mustn’t blame yourself.”

“Hear, hear,” said the chaps in unison.

Charles lowered his head, humbly conceding the point.

“We just need to pull together,” Thunderbright continued. “There’s too much at stake for you to fall short now.” He stared at me pointedly. “Almost everyone has been happy to chip in.”

The chaps nodded among themselves.

Deep down I knew they were right.

The issue at stake, in case more demanding readers expect an explanation, was the Upside Down Cross, usually referred to in casual conversation as “the Upside Down” and awarded each year to Dux of the school. Introduced in the late eighteenth century, shortly after the arrival of the First Fleet, the prize was financed out of the Bigsby Trust but independently administered by the school board. Counted among its past recipients were a prime minister, eminent professors, and, more to the point, a long line of Bigsbys.

Indeed, never had an eldest Bisgby – a Charles Bigsby – failed to take out the award.

The first to accomplish the feat, Charles I, attended Barnabas shortly after his father, Charles 0, arrived from London to observe governance of the colony of New South Wales with the intention of taking notes for preparation of his private papers. Each Charles Bigsby, without exception, had been regarded by his contemporaries as possessing an exceptional mind. Charles VII, in particular, the father of our Charles Bigsby, set all kinds of records in the state exams and came to be considered by many a genius.

Unfortunately, through no fault of anybody in particular, the long-term sustainability of the Bigsby dynasty had now been put in jeopardy.

Sitting meekly atop the hills of Barnabas campus, purple blooms of a jacaranda sprinkled about ourselves, my duty was becoming poignantly clear. Along with the others, I simply had to take action. Somehow, in spite of a record of less than academic excellence in junior and intermediate years, a way had to be found to secure Charles Bigsby Junior – to degree eight – the Upside Down Cross.

“Alright,” I said, succumbing at last to my destiny. “I’m in.” I felt a heavy burden lift and a peace come over me.

If the chaps were pleased, they concealed their emotion with dignity.

“It’s the least you can do,” observed Thunderbright.

Justin Thunderbright’s plan, like all good plans, was beautiful in its simplicity, he told me. A boy was assigned to each of Charles Bisgby’s subjects. Initially, it had been supposed that each boy, in his specialization, could submit his work as Bigsby’s, with Bigsby returning the favor. However, Bigsby, for complex reasons, was not altogether inclined to commit the necessary time to assignments or exam preparation, making it clear that it would be in the best interests of other boys to submit their own work along with Bigsby’s. This was universally deemed viable provided everyone took care to dumb down their own work relative to Bigsby’s.

Thunderbright had assigned himself meteorology, with similar arrangements being formulated for other subjects. Fractal geometry, for instance, was left to Mandlebrot Junior, revolution studies to Karl Marx Junior, theology to Thomas Aquinas Junior, and so on.

Some fellows were called upon to play special roles. Most notable, in this respect, was Guthrie C. T. Timms-Biggles Wiggleton. Guthrie was a much respected all-round scholar, especially in cases where rote-learning and rapid handwriting could be fruitfully applied. The general feeling within the group was that Guthrie’s memory was so prodigious, and his writing hand so nimble, that his presence at Barnabas would simply pose too much of a threat to Bigsby, even if he handed in deliberately inferior work for the entire year in his subject of specialization.

Recognizing the conundrum, Guthrie offered to defer his enrollment for a year to pursue other interests, an offer promptly accepted by the others.

My own role remained unclear to me. “What exactly do you want me to do?” I asked.

“Two things,” replied Thunderbright. “The first is simple. Keep your mouth shut, along with the rest of us.”

I could see the sense in this. Although none of us relished the prospect of acting in a way that might be interpreted as, in some sense, underhanded, it seemed prudent to keep our operations covert in case somebody unconnected with Barnabas caught wind of them and sought to make trouble, for example in the press or courts.

Thunderbright explained to me that there was also a concern that one or two of the junior masters might feel somewhat compromised if they knew that Bigsby’s improved academic performance was not, if we must be crude for a moment, entirely down to his own efforts. You would think that centuries of tradition might have earned more respect than that, especially in a place such as Barnabas, but we lived in very modern times in which young teachers were exposed to unsound educational theories often touted as egalitarian when, in reality, they amounted mostly to insidious forms of reverse snobbery.

“Your second task,” continued Thunderbright, “is to locate test and exam papers prior to their sitting. This will help in preparations for Bigsby’s assault on the final exams.”

This task also seemed fitting. I was well placed to perform it in view of my father’s job in security.

“Are you up to it?” asked Thunderbright. He seemed skeptical, but didn’t say so.

I nodded. In fact, it would be a simple matter to obtain the appropriate keys at the appropriate times without anyone untrustworthy needing to know. God, of course, would see all, but the cause was just and right, and my conscience clear.

We discussed tactics for a while. It might seem to some readers that tradition required only that Bigsby outperform the rest of us in a relative sense, not reach any particular heights in absolute terms, and that, therefore, obtaining exam papers ahead of time was unnecessarily risky. But Bigsby felt strongly that, if at all possible, he should not only take out the prize, but do so even more impressively than his predecessors.

A bell sounded, signaling the end of lunch hour. We descended in silence from the hilltop to school buildings below, affording me a moment to reflect on what the future might hold.

“Alright everyone,” said Thunderbright, when we reached our locker area. “Keep me posted, especially if there are any problems.”

For much of the year, however, everything went according to plan. There was the odd minor hiccup. For instance, Dr Hazelbury, one of the more respected masters, had to advise Michelangelo Junior to take more care in Sculpture to distinguish Charles Bigsby’s statues from his own. But otherwise, the master was full of praise for Bigsby’s much improved technique. Indeed, all the chaps were impressed.

I myself got into something of an awkward situation, mistaking, on one occasion, the door key to the Principal’s Office for a history-room key. Happily, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise when the security guard detecting my error took me aside and explained the different patterns of incision. This proved most helpful, but the incident could have turned out differently under less ideal circumstances.

On the whole, though, things went smoothly, so I feel fully entitled to skip ahead.

It was not until final exams that we found ourselves confronting real danger.

“Hold on a second, young man!”

The voice we heard was unfamiliar, and deeply unpleasant. We turned to learn the source of our angst.

It was Dudley Tott, a maverick substitute teacher, lurking in a passageway as we prepared to enter the examination hall for Trigonometry. Without further warning, he lunged toward a stunned Pythagoras Junior, rudely seizing papers from his hand.

“Right, everyone. Wait here.”

Some of us waited as Tott, a weedy little man with thinning hair, inspected the pages.

Dr Hazelbury and a number of other masters must have heard the commotion, and now joined us in the passageway.

“Is there a problem, Tott?” asked Dr Hazelbury. He motioned apologetically to the chaps, indicating that we should wait where we were.

Some, by now, were already inside the examination hall. The rest of us remained in the passageway.

Dr Hazelbury looked back at Tott, as we all did, demanding an explanation.

“It is this,” said Tott, barely coherent, holding up the papers he had snatched off Pythagoras for all to see.

“Yes?” said Dr Hazelbury impatiently. “What about them?”

Tott suggested that they were “irregular”, and claimed that he had witnessed Pythagoras Junior attempting to “smuggle” them into the examination hall. He further claimed that they appeared to be a “pre-prepared answer” and that the name “Charles Bigsby VIII” was penciled in at the top of the front page.

On hearing this, all the chaps were rightly outraged, and the masters appeared sympathetic to our plight. The allegations were clearly preposterous. Justin Thunderbright stepped forward to outline our case.

“First,” said Thunderbright, “Pythagoras would never ‘smuggle’ anything into an exam room, pre-prepared answer or otherwise. He is simply too classy a fellow for that.”

“Hear, hear,” said the chaps, united on this point.

“Second, if he did ‘smuggle’ a pre-prepared answer into the exam room bearing another fellow’s name, there would be perfectly good reason to do so. It is ludicrous on its face that he should be expected to write up two sets of answers from scratch in the time permitted.”

“Exactly!” exclaimed a chap hidden in the crowd. “The very idea is fanciful.”

“Third,” continued Thunderbright, “suppose that Pythagoras did, for whatever reason, write somebody else’s name at the top of the front page. This would in no way be for the purpose of falsifying his identity. This should be obvious from the fact that an official cover sheet is always provided prior to an exam commencing. Only then is it necessary to indicate one’s identity.”

The masters appeared to take this argument on board, though Tott remained obstinate.

“The fact that the name is written in pencil, and therefore intended to be erased at a later time, further underscores the point,” added Thunderbright.

We all nodded in unison, registering our support in the strongest possible terms.

The case seemed watertight. The masters, congregated in the passageway, with some chaps peering out through the doorway of the examination hall, seemed ready to accept the explanation.

It would occur to me later, so well did the case appear to be going, that if the defense had been allowed to rest at this point, things might have turned out differently. But Justin Thunderbright had not quite finished:

“Fourth, even if Pythagoras did ‘smuggle’ a pre-prepared answer into the exam room, what possible good could it do before knowing the questions on the exam paper?”

It was then that I realized Dudley Tott was still scrutinizing the alleged pre-prepared answer. For some reason I had imagined it was in the safe hands of Dr Hazelbury.

On hearing Thunderbright’s final argument, Tott’s eyes lit up like Satan’s. “The answers specifically address the set questions,” he announced.

Dr Hazelbury bravely came to our aid. “Nonsense, surely. Please.”

“Here’s the proof.” Tott held pages up again for the masters to see. “He even wrote out the questions to be answered! They match exactly.”

I was appalled by this latest revelation. All the chaps were.

Tott handed the pages to Dr Hazelbury with transparent glee.

Dr Hazelbury raised a hand in mollification, but Tott waited relentlessly for a response.

Eventually, a measure of sanity returned. Dr Hazelbury instructed the masters to follow him to the staff room for a cup of tea and a more calm and reasoned consideration of the situation. Unfortunately, the vile Tott insisted on accompanying them.

I turned to see Pythagoras Junior, pale, leaning against a wall, stunned by the monstrous injustice. The other chaps stood silent, some still lingering in the examination hall.

Justin Thunderbright suggested calmly that we take recess in the garden footing the hills of Barnabas campus. Truly, it was to be our Gethsemane.

Once in the garden, it was Charles Bigsby who spoke to us on the matter of the Upside Down Cross. It was the first time he had spoken of it since the original formulation of our plan. It was a measure of the fellow that, in his hour of need, he took it upon himself to lift our spirits and encourage us in our efforts to secure him the award. As he spoke, we listened, and it became clear what needed to be done.

Almost in a trance, I turned toward the entrance of the garden, sensing someone’s presence, and my father appeared to me as a white light. He informed me, and indeed all the chaps, that we were to join with the masters in Main Quadrangle to resolve the situation. The irrepressible Dudley Tott was demanding a scapegoat.

Although we had all known that this hour might come, recent events had been especially trying for Pythagoras Junior, and his behavior became quite erratic. On entering Main Quadrangle, he burst into cries of innocence, which were deeply touching, and cause me pangs of guilt to this day.

“It was not I!” he said truthfully. “I was framed!”

The words, now voiced, seemed to embolden him, and he marched ahead of the rest of us, imploring the masters to hear his plea.

“Who, after all, has access to the classroom keys?”

He allowed the words a moment to sink in. Then, turning abruptly, he pointed directly at me, though not in an accusatory manner, I like to think.

The Deputy Principal, who in his younger days had been a pilot in the air force, approached somberly. “Is this true?” he asked.

I remained silent, feeling the heat. The other chaps edged away, giving me space, which I appreciated.

“Do you have nothing to say for yourself?” the Deputy asked.

I hesitated for a moment but knew how I must reply. “If it were my integrity that mattered, we would debate, but it is not my integrity we seek to defend.”

The Deputy nodded, understanding, then turned to the other chaps. ‘What sayest thou?”

The chaps were clearly torn and my heart went out to them, but they managed to hold a dignified silence, in honor of Charles Bigsby Junior.

“We must have a scapegoat,” the Deputy lamented. “Who shall it be?”

“Not I,” said Pythagoras Junior.

“Not he,” agreed the chaps, at last finding voice.

The Deputy sighed. He motioned for me to follow him to where the other masters and security personnel waited, under the eagle eye of Satan himself, Dudley Tott. Sunlight broke through white clouds, revealing the steps to the balcony that traced the edge of Main Quadrangle.

I suddenly felt weak, and stumbled. Simon of Cyrene Junior, a considerate intermediate student, helped steady me until we stood, facing the steps, behind which was the Principal’s Office.

The Deputy addressed the crowd. “Is there no one here who can speak for the boy?”

My father stepped forward. Dudley Tott glared at him, but my father refused to flinch. He addressed the Deputy:

“For the love of the school I ask my son to do this, so that whosoever believeth his story shall not stand in the way of the Bigsby tradition continuing indefinitely into the future.”

There was a gasp of respect from the masters.

I saw that it was right and good, yet cried out in anguish, “Father, why hast thou forsaken me?”

After a discreet pause, the Deputy caught my gaze and motioned with authority and poise toward the school’s front gate.

I lowered my head, knowing I was finished at Barnabas College.

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59 thoughts on “From the Fiction Files – “Charles Bigsby Does the Chaps Proud”

  1. You’re referring to the judeo-christian concept of sacrifice. The classic biblical scapegoat (a Holman Hunt painting and an X-Men character) performs the same function as Abraham’s requested sacrifice and ultimately Christ. The sacrifice is one of the major archetypal stories in Christian culture and is tied with the concept of sin. The concept of sacrifice is echoed in Europe where Greece plays the role of the sinner, scapegoat, and sacrifice with Germany adopting a godlike role. The logic of sacrifice is that the greater the sin, the greater the sacrifice needed. In order to make this logic work, the status quo must emphasise the sin in order to justify the sacrifice.

  2. Very nice interpretation, Hacky. So that would make the chaps the eurozone, the father Germany, the scapegoat Greece. I like it.

    You’re referring to the judeo-christian concept of sacrifice.

    Right. It is a rather dubious concept, I think. It’s hard to see how a God would consider such scapegoating a solution to anything. I prefer Matthew 12:7:

    If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.

    Of course, the scapegoat in the story is far from innocent (because I had corruption of one percenters, and their lackeys, in mind).

  3. Right. It is a rather dubious concept, I think. It’s hard to see how a God would consider such scapegoating a solution to anything. I prefer Matthew 12:7

    How convenient, Peter. But you don’t get to pick and choose. When the holy bullshit hits the proverbial fan because of a giant crucifix orbiting the earth, here’s what I’ll have to say:

    God is a moron.

    And here’s to hoping a google cache is forever.

    Signed,
    MMT sinner

  4. ‘Chuchianity’ may have tied sacrifice to sin, but every mother (for example) knows what it really is?

  5. Peter,

    In Max Weber’s view of the industrial revolution in Northern Europe, surplus is invested because of the archetype of the tribute. Work is considered God’s work and surplus is Gods blessing that is reinvested as tribute. There’s a history in Northern Europe of sacrifice as a protestant economic theme of asceticism. The sacrificial offering of Greece is more like a ritual of purification and reparation (rather than tribute) and these themes are used in austerity propaganda. The press often select stories that correspond to archetypes in order to reinforce cliches. This socialises moral beliefs of the wider public and stabilises society in favour of the status quo. It can be risky because archetypal stories have a life of their own. The archetypal story of sacrifice has a variety of meanings within the Bible. Purification and reparation are main themes in the story of Christ which is very different to Leviticus. Leviticus supports the elite but the new testament doesn’t. Leviticus was written by the elite after the return from Babylon and the gospels were written for an early Christian audience who would recognise their own persecution as part of a purification sacrifice. The old testament is written from the perspective of the sinner who gives the sin to the sacrifice, whereas the new testament is written from the perspective of the virtuous sacrifice that takes on the sins of the world. It’s difficult for Germany to appeal to the Christian archetype of sacrifice in a way that is collectively understood throughout Europe. For every person who sees the goat that goes to Azazel there may be several who will see Jesus atoning for the sins of mankind.

    In terms of the failure of opposition (to neoliberalism?), I don’t think it’s clear that they’re winning. Occupy lost velocity of change and the mainstream debate isn’t going well but the economic debate isn’t going too badly. A move away from neoliberalism is a generational change so things wouldn’t appear to be changing until they reach a tipping point. Sadly, we don’t know what the cost of several decades of neoliberal policies would be by then.

    Trixie,

    The situationist view is that there’s a media war. Cliche is a powerful weapon in the hands of the media because they can select partial truths that are unthinkingly accepted. I don’t personally believe in the appeal to supernatural forces or the concept of atonement.

    Although I don’t agree with his views, I watch Max Kaiser on Russia Today because he has some good guests (including Steve Keen and Michael Hudson). All the shows are downloadable from the Russia Today website. Recently he had The Yes Men. I think the situationists would approve.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Yes_Men

    Jrbarch,

    This archetype of sacrifice as expressed throughout the Bible originates in Leviticus. It’s one of the main themes of Christianity. Sacrifice has a different meaning in other cultures. In the broader context of morality it often means sacrificing personal gain for someone else’s benefit. This isn’t the same as the meaning in Christian tradition where Jesus is sacrificed to atone for the sins of mankind. The gospels take the tradition of the scapegoat to the most extreme lengths. Scapegoating also has an interesting history in other cultures but it’s not central to other cultures. In Christianity, scapegoating and sacrifice have the same meaning and it’s a central message that the death of Christ atoned for the sins of humanity.

  6. Another day in the life of “heteconomist”. Begins with the intention of a serious post about economics turning to fiction and farce. Seems to end with Trixie denouncing God. But is salvaged thanks to thoughtful contributions from Hacky and jrbarch. 🙂

  7. Hacky: I agree that it is not clear the neo-liberals are winning and I remain hopeful they will not win. The possibility of same old, same old is an appalling thought that occurs from time to time, but I think there are as many reasons to be optimistic as pessimistic at the moment. The longer the establishment deliberately (?) allows stagnation to continue, the better long-term prospects for real change may become. The ruling class probably could have used deficit expenditure sufficient to preserve capitalism without much fuss (most the opposition seems to be orchestrated by sections of the ruling class, with media used to shape popular perceptions), but it would have meant forgoing the opportunity to grind down general living conditions. The present strategy involves a greater risk of provoking significant opposition to the present system but holds out the prospect of a more enslaved population long term. I am guessing the gamble was too tempting to resist. Hopefully it comes unstuck.

  8. Another day in the life of “heteconomist”. Begins with the intention of a serious post about economics turning to fiction and farce. Seems to end with Trixie denouncing God.

    This had the potential to devolve into the ultimate internet flame war (something I tend to excel at). But NO. Hacky and jrbarch have to act as online automatic stabilizers.

    So thanks for the hearty laugh (and grounding), I needed that today.

    Next up: I’LL KILL US ALL: Trixie attempts to untangle Christmas lights, solely for the privilege of celebrating the BIRTH OF OUR SAVIOR.

  9. Great story! I actually did a Google search for Barnabas College in Blue Ocean before I caught on. I should have known better after it was described as “about a hundred kilometers south of Sydney – or perhaps four hundred kilometers south, though surely not more than that”. In this day and age, we would know exactly how far.

    Anyway, that cracked me up. You’ve got considerable talent — somewhere in between J.R.R. Tolkien and Dave Barry…

  10. Thanks, Dan! Glad you enjoyed.

    First-person narrators interest me, especially if unreliable and/or unsympathetic, and when the story is not autobiographical.

  11. I guess for a Mum, ‘sacrifice’ is based on the impulse to give and nurture which involve elements like knowledge, love and the will. To forgive misdemeanours, teach right human relations, unfold potential, lift and elevate. A creative act, joyful – even though it may mean her own affairs are put aside. Definitely no loss, destruction or doctrine involved!

    I have never understood the business of ‘atonement’? Some bunny should suffer in order to reconcile the ultimate Energy with man? Ha!

    Dear Trixie – please put a little environmentally friendly lcd xmas light on your tree for me (wishing you and all who lurk on heteconomist the best for the silly season) – maybe a card saying ‘I’ll just have to be my own saviour’ where the tribal rituals will not suffice.

    [Practically, I don’t understand how a doctor born 2000 years ago could save You!! (or me)]

  12. @Peter

    Man, I didn’t know you had a gift for prose… You must not let this be your last offering.

    By they way, after reading all those third-party interpretations (all of them interesting, to be sure), I’d ask: what’s your interpretation?

    @Trixie,

    “Seems to end with Trixie denouncing God”.

    Since reaching adulthood, I haven’t liked that bloke much, so I’m with you on this.

    In fact, having to chose between the imaginary penthouse people, and the equally imaginary basement people, I think I prefer the latter: at least they have cojones (albeit also imaginary!).

  13. I win.

    Guthrie C. T. Timms-Biggles Wiggleton’s deferral of enrolment

    There is something wrong with you. I will sort you out later.

    Also. Sweet Mother of Jesus. I found a typo. You’re done.

  14. Yikes. Thanks, Trixie. I thought you were just blowing bubbles up the back of the class, but now I see you were paying attention.

    (But you know I will just go and edit my comment now. Lucky I got that new add-in for the comments section.)

  15. Archetype and metaphor suggest an expansive set of meanings. I didn’t find a lot of clues though and I wasn’t sure if I missed out on clues that may have been there. I think these meanings are plausible in the Euro context.

    Father: Europe

    Charles Bigsby: Economy and/or growth, profit, capitalism

    The chaps: Euro countries and/or the financial sector, economists, economics

    Teachers: The troika and/or financial regulation, the law, the press

    The narrator: Greece and/or democratic institutions, the social contract, social support

    Dudley Tott: Germany and/or middle classes, occupy, the 99%

    Guthrie Wiggleton: economic production and/or labour, manufacturing, industry, technology

    The townspeople: voters and/or democracy, the 99%

    Upside down cross: wealth

  16. Peter,

    By clues, I meant things like significance of names or numbers. I missed the upside down cross. I don’t do crosswords so I don’t pick up on these things. The archetypal story brings in a lot of meanings automatically.

    Trixie,

    I take it you were alluding to Russell’s teapot. Although the spaghetti monster is more popular these days, I still find the concept of the Church of the Subgenius funny. It’s a cult of lack-of-personality.

    Jrbarch,

    You may find it interesting to read Creative Evolution by Henri Bergson. It’s the source of the phrase Elan Vital (before Prem Rawat). Prem Rawat reminds me of the tradition of syncretic religions in India.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syncretism

    This was a mainstream project until the middle ages (e.g. Din-I-IIai). If it had been successful, it’s possible that we wouldn’t have seen the centuries of major religious wars that have occurred over the last 1000 years. However, I’m not convinced it’s a project that could ever have worked. People explore beliefs and form differing opinions. Divine Light Mission also had similarities to religious traditions that espouse direct contact with God (e.g. Suffi).

    I think Tom Hickey may also have read Creative Evolution because he sometimes uses similar concepts. The other philosophies that I’ve previously mentioned were influenced by Bergson (process theology, process philosophy, Teilhard de Chardin). I have started to write a little bit about my own view of meta levels but I’ll write a bit more before I post it.

    I agree that the scapegoat is a strange concept. The most important thing for people to do if they discover that they are wrong is to change.

    “There is no harm in being sometimes wrong – especially if one is promptly found out.” J. M. Keynes

  17. Re syncretism: Yes, that’s human history I guess – some put everything through a blender; some through a sieve (retaining either the good or the bad, or the bits they like). Hansa (soul, heart) is said to be able to sip (taste, smell, discriminate, know, enjoy) separating the milk from the water. What is the milk?

    When you take something that is SIMPLE that is not associated with anything other than itself, people attempt to put it into a pigeon-hole. DLM was a good example. It took a gigantic effort on the part of PremR. to drag the understanding of self-knowledge out of both Indian and Western traditions, ignoring the hate-groups that sprung up in the eighties. It didn’t seem to phase him at all!

    You are obviously widely read HH – reminds me of the scope and interests of Prof. Ron Geaves at Oxford: this is Ron introducing PR. to an Oxford event: Oxford University / Prem Rawat

    Affirmative with a chuckle on Keynes – being right and wrong are all courtesy of being alive. Shall have a look for Creative Evolution and be curious and interested in ‘meta levels’.

  18. Hi Jrbarch,

    I took a meandering route into my current profession (software development). When I left school I studied fine art. Most of my reading of philosophy, history of ideas and history of religion comes from doing essays for my fine art degree. When I left college I didn’t like the idea of trying to make money as an artist so I got a job in a factory. After a while I got bored so I went back to college to study electrical engineering. Studying used to be free in the UK so people could do this kind of thing. When I completed my engineering degree I couldn’t find a job using these skills either because manufacturing was being destroyed in the UK and a lot of engineers were becoming unemployed. Older engineers with fantastic skills were considered to be ‘on the scrap heap’ to use the terminology of the time. I had studied assembly language and C programming so I managed to get a job doing programming (which was in demand at the time). While working as a programmer I did a part time degree in computing which I paid for. By this time study wasn’t free in the UK any more, but it was still heavily subsidised so the price was very cheap. This roundabout path into software development has meant that I’ve done a lot more study than I originally intended but now I really enjoy learning. I started reading about economics in 2008 to try and understand the credit crunch.

    My scientific background is computing and engineering and I have an interest in artificial intelligence. There’s a niche of AI where software is developed by using evolutionary process, using basic mutation and permutation techniques. One thing that’s been discovered by combining genetic processes with computer technology is the fact that genetic information increases at a faster rate using permutation and mutation in comparison to mutation alone. I call this a fact because it’s been demonstrated, proven mathematically and geneticists have acknowledged it as a major breakthrough.

    My views extend this principle substantially based on computing concepts, but the extended principles aren’t mainstream in biology.

    Evolution started as a simple process of mutation. I don’t have a theory of how this process began. Some time later mutation evolved permutation (probably in androgynous form). Evolution evolved not just life but also evolution. This was the first meta-evolutionary change. It was the first time that evolution evolved not only life but also the process of evolving life. Later the androgens become specialised into genders and neurons evolved to allow sexual selection. The four limbed archetype evolved. Species evolved symbolic thought and the ability to communicate. These are all evolutionary meta changes that involve a degree of self reference to accelerate the process of information gain. Evolutionary change doesn’t just evolve new species, it evolves new types of evolution that increase the rate of evolution. Evolution evolves the process of evolution. This can be expressed concisely as “change changes change”. Eventually humans invent writing. Up to this point the evolutionary processes have all been via accelerating information gain within genetics and information has always been passed down via DNA.

    I’ll stop for a moment to dwell on the concept that I’ve introduced. The economists among us may think that change of change is a bit like calculus, but remember, if this were an attempt at using calculus to describe aggregate information, the equation would have to change as the graph was being drawn and higher differentials would constantly need adding. An important principle is that no matter how many meta levels up an evolutionary process is, another meta process can still be added above it.

    So Jrbarch, this is as far as I’ve gone in writing up my concept of meta-evolution. I need to write some more on human manipulation of information; how it is several levels above basic evolution; how human history has an accelerating process of information gain and how we have externalised evolution using technology. I also need to write a bit on how, mathematically, these factors have a formal similarity in graph theory. I thought I’d post this much in case it’s a while before I finish my description. Tom Hickey often refers to a concept of consciousness which reminds me of Hegel and possibly Bergson. I consider this to be analogous to a high level meta evolutionary process. From my description you may guess that we probably agree on the issue of direct experience but I don’t agree on the importance of internal reflection. However, my views suggest that everyone has learned something unique therefore it’s not important for us all to agree. I’ll try and improve my description and post it again when it’s more complete and better explained.

  19. Hi HH: – had to go for a walk yesterday – wind, waves, seagulls and greens and greys and blues and whites; Sun reflecting in the water sheen on the sand keeping me company along the beach – but I thought a little more about meta-evolution.

    So, is meta-evolution random or directional? Or is it that it randomly evolved an aggregate of atoms called a human being, who now demonstrates electrical phenomena called self-consciousness, which is directional? If so, what are we heading to?

    Another thought was, under that logic, the whole universe could become self-conscious? (Which made me wonder what it would say to us)? And another: self-consciousness automatically means internal reflection – so my thing is internal reflection leads to SELF consciousness. That’s always been there in human history too!

    I think the intellectual explanation of SELF is (although I’m not too good at this sort of thing): from nothing comes nothing – so there must have been something that always WAS, IS, WILL BE. Everything else is contained within IT and is finite. In the human being all the rules have been broken as the finite has been allowed to encompass the Infinite and through self-consciousness and internal reflection, Know IT. Kabir puts this far more eloquently when he mentions: ‘… there is a drop within the ocean, everybody knows that. That there is an ocean within the drop, few people are aware’. Knowing is a capability of the human heart, but not the mind – which makes it a bit tricky. People say there is no ocean; they look within their heart and it is empty; there is no knowledge of a SELF within the mind and so it is dismissed as speculation or the province of weak-minded fools, who will not face reality. The power of the heart to Know is not recognised. But experience is everything ….

    I think the logic is extended somehow so that the something that always WAS, IS, WILL BE becomes omnipresent, omnipotent, singular and SIMPLE – although I am not sure how to present that argument? (Help Tom Hickey …???) Perhaps it is as simple as two things cannot occupy the same space~time in the same space~time – I am not sure. The mind can conceive of ‘nothing’ but it is the mind (something) that is doing the conceiving!

    Regardless, and contrary to intellection, for this Energy to become real to people, it has to be experienced – and that is the direction that I would ascribe to your meta-evolution and beyond. I think it’s all about consciousness from here on, and after 200,000 years on the road for Homo sapiens, it can’t come soon enough.

    When the energy of the heart leavens the mind, then perhaps people will dream up a better world? We live in hope and Hope has always been shield and sword. Making right what is unjust in the world is right up meta-evolution’s alley is it not – in that changes on the outside change something on the inside of a human being too, and v.v. – that’s creative self-consciousness! I sit down 1~2hrs every day to enjoy that Energy inside of me HH (have done so since 1973) – mind sits still, the heart enjoys: internal reflection is the most real, most productive, most rewarding activity I know in my all too brief existence – however it teaches me to accept and appreciate the Reality of my life, and the Breath that sustains me; can heartily recommend it to anyone!

  20. The fundamental process of learning is a process of search. This is the term that we use in computing but I’ve decided that exploration is just as good a term and it conveys the meaning better to people who aren’t from a computing background. When you explore, you find things that are unexpected. Unexpected discovery is new information which add to your stock of information.

    So if you’re exploring the beach and you notice something then that adds to your knowledge. In the broader sense, knowledge is just one type of information and all life is accumulating information. If you’re walking on the beach and you climb some rocks and learn to climb a bit better then you’ve increased your knowledge. If you learn how to learn better then this isn’t just a change, it’s a meta change. Meta learning is also a process of learning but it’s more effective because it improves previously existing methods of learning. You can also learn how to learn how to learn. The direction that exploration takes is affected by the things that have already been learned. This is the randomness of exploration. It’s not a completely random process. We’re not heading to something, we’re exploring and creating our understanding as we go. In a way we’re heading towards better understanding but that’s not a place. In computer science we do actually use a landscape metaphor and in that metaphor we climb hills. This is seen as problematic because when we get to the top of a hill the only way to get to the top of another hill is to go back down again. I’m not convinced that the hill climbing concept is correct but it’s used to explain evolutionary niches.

    I’d rather the central concept is exploration and the meta concept is exploring how to explore (and exploring how to explore how to explore etc.).

    Yes I agree that the universe can become conscious and that is the general process of life, of which humans are an aspect. I believe that humans are a new meta level because we’ve externalised evolution. We will learn how to improve our own evolution and we will also take control of the process of evolution to create more and more forms of life. If we don’t destroy ourselves first, we are the beginning of the end of purely biological evolution.

    My differing opinion on internal reflection is that I believe internal change comes from external exploration, however internal processes determine the exploration. It could be considered a cycle but it’s a cycle of growth (i.e. not zero sum). External exploration doesn’t have to be an exploration of the physical world. Exploration of information (e.g. a conversation) is a meta process. “What was, will be” is similar to conservation of energy (1st law of thermodynamics). Your intuition may be similar to the physicists dilemma over information and the second law of thermodynamics (because information is defined as negative entropy). This is a debate that’s ongoing (Landauer limit, etc). Life grows. It messes up the physicists neat view of the universe. I’ve no idea how it started. There’s a concept called emergence which is a possibility but I’m more concerned with going forwards.

    I see mind and heart as decision modes so I try to take both into account in deciding what to explore. The history of zero in mathematics is another big subject that would take a lot of discussion. I’m going on holiday for a week with no access to the internet but I’ll check for replies when I get home.

  21. hhhhHH (have a heuristically happy holiday HH) …. hope I haven’t run out of h’s now and have to impose ‘h’ austerity down below …

    Completely agree about the learning (exploration) process. The only thing I like to add to that is a reminder that when you were a child, you learnt everything through feeling; and there was no ego involved – just You, observing, feeling – I like this, I don’t like this. But this has been abandoned in favour of mind. And You have been somewhat eclipsed. So the question is: ‘could this path of exploration be advanced’?? Is the power of feeling in a human being able to be finetuned, finetuned, finetuned – to reveal something that mind is not capable of revealing? Ego knows naught about? And yet the You has always known (but somehow forgotten).

    This is seen as problematic because when we get to the top of a hill the only way to get to the top of another hill is to go back down again.

    I really wish people knew this. My favourite example is Alexander the Great, of whom it is said built a Hall containing statues of all the Emperors he had conquered, kneeling in obeisance to him. At the end of his life Alexander requested that he be buried with his hands sticking out of the earth, so that people could see: “Empty-handed I came into this world, empty-handed I leave”! Also KrishnaMurti: ‘a few golden balls are rolled through the world, most people chase them’.

    If we don’t destroy ourselves first, we are the beginning of the end of purely biological evolution.

    I think you have to be very careful there HH; the Universe is a very big place, and humans are rather small. The physicists may have a neat view of the universe – but do they have a neat view of themselves? ‘You may have a map, but unless you know where you are on that map, who you are, and where you want to go – the map is not all that useful. Some people say there is no map. Some, there is no GPS or compass. You just wander around and wonder around, then you die. In that case meta-learning just fleshes out the map’. [paraphrasing PR].

    I see mind and heart as decision modes …

    No, no, no, no, no …. the ‘heart’ is ALL about feeling; it knows what it wants and is Simple; decision modes belong entirely to mind!! My experience is that the heart and the mind occupy two different universes, with consciousness bridging the two.

    I do know that to the Hindus, Zero was what we call Infinite! Place as many Western zeros in front of 1 and nothing changes – place them after …

    Just on software HH: my experience with software is, when I can ‘get’ the logic of a software, then I am comfortable with it. So I have to tell you that just about everything I am saying is not like software – it’s based on that other power within a human being called feeling. And I completely respect what you said about horses and drinking on another thread – the horse has to be thirsty! And if it is not, it knows already what is best for it. I just like to say, well if you do get thirsty, you would like to explore feeling just a little more, I am not alone in saying there is some water there: and on the other hand meta-learning is a good thing too; and we definitely need to make the map a much more user-friendly place and the software (ideology) is important – at least that much is obvious!! In that regard I learn a lot from all of the people who chat on this blog … I know I’m a bit different; but hey, that’s just me! I am just you or anybody else, with a little bit of feeling added.

  22. Afterthought:

    However, if you were talking about the software that is buried in a seed and the Potential it has (powers greater than any AI or electronic device any human being could ever come up with) then maybe software is a good analogy! How about the hardware of a goose flying at 40,000 feet over the Himalayas; frogs and bats freezing solid during winter; or the software that guides a butterfly from one continent to another? Do we really know the potential of a human being? I let go of architecture when I realised that just about every tree on the planet is far more intricate in design, far more beautiful in form and function than any building ever built on the face of this earth. The pyramids decaying under the relentless sun and winds, going back to the desert, is far more beautiful a symbol of power than the forgotten history of a Pharaoh. As an aside, most architects’ excellence is actually in ‘wanking’! If you asked them to design the sky, look at any city and realise how royally they would screw it up – lurid lights everywhere, advertising, really weird looking clouds playing hypnotically monotonous techno music, instead of riveting thunderclaps and lightning that actually wake consciousness up …

    I thought I should add to the above the business of ‘knowing’ and ‘believing’. I ‘know’ how to ride a bicycle and out of that knowing I could develop an understanding for my mind, then pass that understanding on to you (if we could actually communicate and understand each other) – but that doesn’t mean automatically you will know. So much of what people have running around in their mind their entire lifetime on this planet, is based on belief, recipes, or ‘information’ they have picked up – if they sieved out what they actually know there would be very little left. Problem is, from belief and information stems their idea of identity and v.v.

    For example peterc has just written a post about belief – he won’t actually know until it all happens (respectfully and interestedly peterc)!! A lot of what you have said HH seems to me to be similar in that it is also based on ‘reasoned’ belief (you probably haven’t thought about it as starkly as that)? Best description of the reality of concepts that I know is in the simple word ‘vapour’. Concepts have use-by dates in Time and Space and are often WRONG or incomplete! People following a religion are often disparaged for their ‘belief’ (usually by those proud of their mental capacities and declarations) but I actually see somebody’s mental universe (including my own) similarly – i.e. mental versions of beliefs! Which is fine as long as you are outside and above the ‘cloud of thoughts’ looking on I guess. Fly around those things!! But it is better to know than to believe. I don’t really see any difference between modern life and the Aus. Aboriginal’s ‘DreamTime’. Like little children we dream up our world and act out our dreams (that often turn to nightmares). We ‘believe’ the universe is exactly as we describe it even though our perspective (elevation) changes. It took a hell of a long time just to work out where the rain comes from. We still haven’t figured out how to live peaceably together on the planet and not destroy everything. The Energy that drives our breath – we have turned into spirituality, religion (belief), concepts – rather than practical experience (knowing). If you believe (on any level) you do not know; and if you know – whether or not you believe is unimportant. As for daily life – it’s not like we import problems from another galaxy or parallel universe. Nope – we dream them up all by ourselves: then use the problem-maker as the problem-fixer (mind). In architecture we talked about a stand or approach taken to a design problem (parti) and expecting the unexpected (serendipity). We looked for an organising principle.

    So in a world of uncertainty, what is there that is Certain? In a world of dreaming what would it be like to wake up? This is where the power of feeling comes into its own. I see mind as an endless circuit of questions (because everything is believed). I see feeling as a path to knowing – which is where it is best to place two feet! We have two hands, two feet, two eyes, two ears … there is mind and there is feeling. Only one of them in my experience leads to knowing (that Energy inside) – it also shows you who you are; what you are – definitely not just an ‘identity’. If people do not want to know for themselves, then at least understand that such knowledge is possible and that we don’t have to live only in random meta-dreams and meta-beliefs. Feeling is real, so the thirst to want to know also HAS to be real – that is the time honoured safeguard! The curiosity of the mind has no part to play – so different! Besides, wouldn’t want the academics getting too far ahead of themselves – we would end up with a really weird sky instead of those beautiful transformational blues and whites and grays!!

    But please, I know I should be dreaming of a better world – because the ‘parti’ at the moment is neither serendipitous nor auspicious – it’s crap!! NO is a very powerful word if said with focus and intent. On the positive side the shortest and most complete sentence in English apparently is ‘I AM’. We definitely should be articulating what we DO want, even louder than what we don’t want – or what is the point of ‘I am?’ To come onto this earth and just be a little robot in the hands of idiots? I don’t think so …..

  23. hi Jrbarch,

    Sorry for the slow reply. My view of chakras is something like this..
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somatic_marker_hypothesis

    As well as the modality in Damasio’s model, I think there is also an element of parallelism. The modal aspect is the modality of the endocrine system but I don’t think the decision modules are fully modal. I view these in the tradition of psychological circuit theories.

    Power station control systems have three controllers for a task and if one controller makes a decision that is out of step then it is shut down and assumed to be in error. There is a similar principle in theories of verification. Different methods should be used to verify a result because one method can highlight the flaws in another method.

    Another parallel is the recent debate on central banking targets raised by the IMF. A single target (inflation) or methodology is prone to error because of the principles of incompleteness. Any logical system is incomplete and it cannot be used to demonstrate its own incompleteness. Therefore multiple systems are needed to provide confidence that information correlates with reality. The Prem Rawat lecture that you linked to also has this flaw. He highlighted the difference between hunger and a message from a to-do list. Hunger is also a message that can be incorrect because it relies on biological messages that can become faulty. A resilient system has multiple parallel process that compute the same result in order to increase the confidence in the result.

    One aspect of somatic marker theory that I’m not happy with is the common fallacy that biological components have a single function (ears hear, eyes see, etc.). Doctors often hold this belief because systems that are designed usually have components with a defined functionality. Systems that are evolved don’t work in this way because functionality of an evolved system is emergent. This means that chakras could work in the ways that you believe, in the ways that I believe and also in several other ways that we haven’t considered.

    The [paraphrasing PR] bit is quite close to my view (that the map is created) but there are also maps of maps, maps of maps of maps, etc. (hence the meta concept). You may be interested that there is a branch of fine art called psychogeography that investigates mental mapping, personal mapping, evolutionary mapping and aimless exploration generally.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychogeography

  24. Also, there are a lot of other interesting concepts in your posts that would take a lot of time to discuss fully. I may come back later or reply on a different thread. My core belief is viewing life as exploration and we seem to substantially agree on that. I think we probably disagree on the nature of reality because my philosophy is constructivist. I’m also a nativist therefore I believe in constructivism as an evolutionary process not purely a mind process.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constructivist_epistemology
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constructivism_(learning_theory)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Innatism

    This all ties in with my AI perspective on learning. I used to believe strongly in a phenomenological view of reality but I haven’t tried to reconcile those views with my more recent views on learning.

  25. Hi HH – thanks for your reply. Re somatic markers and psychogeography – I find all theory interesting: but even more interesting is – what is it in a human being that drives them to develop theory? You have mentioned ‘chakras’ a couple of times now.

    When I wander on to a theoretical landscape I do so by ‘feel’ more than anything else. I am more interested in the sort of inner response I have to the theory than the concepts themselves. Very unscientific I am sure. Perhaps it is because I have no way of verifying most theory? Regardless, the theoretical landscape I feel the greatest affinity with is the voluminous works of the Tibetan monk Dwhal Kuhl through the amanuensis A.A. Bailey; almost a hundred years old now! Reading these works sets off a feeling inside of me that is hard to describe – but somehow the words flow easily and call out a response; there is a ‘voice’ that resonates deep within as though something in me already knows the story being told. Once again, very unscientific I am sure! Perhaps one day, I will Know more.

    Regardless, these works are the best theoretical exposition on the constitution of man I know of. Have zipped up the Divisons dealing with the etheric body of which the chakras are energy centres (on that plane) if you are interested. There is a toc.html linking pages. Can assure you if your mind is not interested, it is not worth the read.

    Cheers HH …

    Alice Bailey & Djwhal Khul
    ‘A Treatise on Cosmic Fire’: Division C – The Etheric Body and Prana, Division D – Kundalini and the Spine

    #Of course none of the above has to do with contentment. I trust you got some enjoyment out of PR’s Oxford address and thankyou for taking a look!!

  26. As a philosopher that has spent a lifetime pursuing issues of meaning and truth, I don’t see a contradiction between constructivism (relativism) and innatism (absolutism). The so-called problem is a pseudo-problem that arises from the failure to notice that :knowledge is structured in consciousness,” Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s translation of Rig Veda (1.164.39) richo akshare parame vyoman. “Therefore, knowledge is different in different states of consciousness” (Maharishi).

    If all non-ordinary reports of experience are rejected as “supernaturalism,” then the debate is biased toward materialism and reductionism. This amounts to dismissing the reports of the so-called mystics the world over from time immemorial that have contributed to perennial wisdom as hallucinations, fantasies, or some such, even though these people are considered to be the repository of wisdom, the epitome of poetry, and the teachers of humankind.

    If we admit that non-ordinary states of awareness result in non-ordinary experience, then there is no reason to speak of such as “supernatural” in the pejorative sense. The correct term is super-ordinary. Just as children grow into adults, some humans realize more of their inherent potential than others. Some are exceptional.

    What we find is general agreement among the wise on what is “innate,” that is,discoverable on the “inner planes of consciousness,” although those dimensions of experience are unavailable to those in ordinary consciousness until their consciousness is “expanded” through purification. This results in refinement of the nervous system, which enables different modes of knowing then the accustomed.

    But here, the teaching of perennial wisdom is that consciousness itself does not actually expand but rather broader and deeper dimensions of experience become available as consciousness is purified of the obstacles to actualizing full potential. In fact, perennial wisdom describes the ladder of ascent and the types of experience that unfold on the path to realizing full potential. Those who have not yet embarked on this path, which is most, must content themselves with knowledge limited to their limited mode of knowing. This is set forth in detail in Meher Baba’s God Speaks.

    Of course, most of those at the pinnacle of intellectual endeavor and worldly success consider themselves to be the most advanced of human beings and so they dismiss any notion that others may be superior and so disregard the input of the mystics and reject the wise. But most is not all and a a number of intellectuals and “achievers” are not reductionists and are either agnostic on this, or else supportive.

    After reading The Future of an Illusion, Freud’s study of religion, Romain Rolland, a follower of Sri Ramakrishna, brought up “the oceanic feeling” of the mystical tradition to Freud, which Freud acknowledged in Civilization and Its Discontents.


    One of these exceptional few calls himself my friend in his letters to me. I had sent him my small book that treats religion as an illusion, and he answered that he entirely agreed with my judgement upon religion , but that he was sorry I had not properly appreciated the true source of religious sentiments. This, he says, consists in a peculiar feeling, which he himself is never without, which he finds confirmed by many others, and which he may suppose is present in millions of people. It is a feeling which he would like to call a sensation of ‘eternity’, a feeling as of something limitless, unbounded–as it were, ‘oceanic’. This feeling, he adds is a purely subjective fact, not an article of faith; it brings with it no assurance of personal immortality, but it is the source of the religious energy which is seized upon by the various Churches and religious systems, directed by them into particular channels, and doubtless also exhausted by them. One may, he thinks, rightly call oneself religious on the ground of this oceanic feeling alone, even if one rejects every belief and every illusion.
    The views expressed by the friend[2] whom I so much honour, and who himself once praised the magic of illusion in a poem [3] caused me no small difficulty. … From my own experience I could not convince myself of the primary nature of such a feeling. But this gives me no right to deny that it does in fact occur in other people. The only question is whether it is being correctly interpreted and whether it ought to be regarded as the fons et origo of the whole need for religion.
    [source]

    In The Two Sources of Religion and Morality, Henri Bergson emphasized these two forces at the basis of human development, which have generally not been noticed and distinguished. William James, a pioneer of modern empirical psychology, investigated this is The Varieties of Religious Experience. This avenue of investigation was sidetracked by Behaviorism until it was revived by Abraham Maslow and is now thriving as Transpersonal Psychology and interdisciplinary Consciousness Studies. The rest of the world is just catching up with the cutting edge of this emerging field.

  27. hi Tom and Jrbarch

    A long time ago I was a big fan of Edmund Husserl and I still, to a large extent, accept this framework. In this framework, the discussion above is communication between lifeworlds.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lifeworld

    This type of communication is substantially different to communication within lifeworlds (or shared frameworks) because of the need for metaphorical translation. On the subject of belief, my interest in social value and Jrbarch’s interest in personal value is an interesting area (to me at least).

    On the issue of constructivism and innatism, I’m using the AI concept of learning which cuts across evolution and neurology setting biological innatism in a constructive framework. On another tangent, this also resolves dualities within Kohlberg and Maslow.

  28. Hi HH – trust you are well. It is something like a conversation across lifeworlds ….!!!!

    Re arrow of time, bioinformatics, conflict theory, constructivism, innatism, lifeworld, maxwell’s demon, post-structuralism, progressive utilisation theory, psychogeography, somatic marker hypothesis, syncretism, systems theory, W’s (thank you for an introduction to these HH):

    I have a mind.

    In some ways, it is like a lounge-room: I can invite friends (represented by the above theories) in for a chat.

    But after awhile (and nice relaxing perhaps distracting conversation) everybody goes home.

    I was just as real before the chat as I am, after the chat. These friends have not altered my fundamental reality – just changed the concepts that may or may not float around in my mind.

    Suppose you press this button – here: [__].

    Instantly, the whole universe disappears. (Don’t worry – we will bring it back)! … (laughing)

    You are left as (self)-consciousness only, floating in your own being. Mind, you see very clearly, is like a little bubble in which you can draw things, think things, to look at and play with to pass away time (Time). Concepts are conditional, held in existence only for as long as you think them – but your reality is real for as long as you exist. You would very quickly, focus on your own being (consciousness) as the medium, the vehicle in which you might hope to discover the wherewithal of your own reality. Or quickly press the button again? … (more laughing) ….

    But, you discover that mind has an even more important (non)-function when it is at rest – if it is held still, concentrated, and the attention is focused within, as you get deeper and deeper into You, mind slips away, somewhat below the threshold of consciousness and there is another power takes its place (previously eclipsed by thoughts because mind had been busy busy busy, thinking thinking thinking – not held still). This is the power of the ‘heart’ – feeling. Every human consciousness has ‘heart’.

    This power is actually greater than the power of mind and thoughts, because it has the unique ability to penetrate consciousness – like a lightning bolt piercing the atmosphere with thunderous delight – and reveal to you (if you are timely and lucky, I mean – what do we deserve after all!!!) the pillar on which consciousness actually rests; an infinite Energy, a Breath, a kindness which alone deserves the appellation of Love – a fiery spark pulsing from within, upholding consciousness for as long as the spark is around. Just as simple as the blue sky holding up (allowing to exist) the green grass and the oceans, filtering the Sun, before you fooled around with that button …

    Now, the circuit of consciousness is complete; the feeling of separation fading away like a distant echo.

    That to me is a human being. A mind yes, but more importantly – a door! A beating ‘heart’ that longs for itself, until the day it is no more.

    As far as human history is concerned, it seems to me there have always been students like myself; and those whose job it is to teach the way within? Anyway, I just wanted to try and point out (without treading on anybody’s toes – I know how much people ‘love’ their thoughts) that mind is constrained to the outside world – it has its limitations. ‘Man need not live by theory alone …’

    I enjoy having friends over, and what they tell me is really interesting, really good HH; a part of the puzzle of the persona in the outside world – but in the end there is only one friend that gets to stay at my place! When that friend leaves I’m out of here too …!

  29. hi jrbarch,

    PROUT was one of Tom Hickey’s posts. I’m not sure who mentioned post-structuralism either. I was quite interested in language when I used to read a lot of philosophy but I was mainly interested in language in the context of perception (because I was studying fine art). Post structuralism is quite heavily focussed on language rather than the potentially more primitive aspects of symbolic perception.

    My belief in the intentional nexus (from Edmund Husserl) has lapsed since those days. I still think of perception as an act though (as opposed to passive perception). My current view on all acts are that opportunities exist as interplay between internal state and environment. Acts create unexpectedness which is accumulated as internal information.

    I’ve made a start on reading the fire pages.

    I liked the bit in the Prem Rawat lecture where he talked about responsibility for happiness. This reminded me of circles of care. I had a look for a Wiki page on this but couldn’t find one. The basic concept is that caring for others has to start with caring for yourself and care moves outwards in circles (self, family, friends, community, strangers you meet, society, etc). I liked that Prem Rawat framed a similar concept in terms of responsibility because the circles of care idea is framed in terms of the individual. The concept can be viewed from a subjective and objective perspective in which case responsibility becomes an issue as well as personal wellbeing. Failing to care for yourself in a subjective sense creates a burden on others who care about you. Therefore, there’s a social benefit as well as a personal benefit.

  30. What would you think of perception as synonymous with (dynamic) being HH? I.e. not action or inaction. Like looking out through layers of filters, gauze fabrics that are wrapped around you. Remove one layer a curtain is lifted on a familiar environment and it looks a little ‘new’. Lift another layer the same thing happens … and so on. But if you want to see you, you will need a mirror (eyes can see everything but themselves).

  31. hi jrbarch

    My concept of evolving perception is similar to the metaphor of removing veils. The problem with the idea of removing veils is that it implies only one way of perceiving. What if evolving perception involved building better lenses. This implies that perception is constructed but there’s still a banality to the process. What if evolving perception involved creating a machine that drew pictures, or measured objects, or measured the distance between objects. What if we were incapable of perceiving objects but could only perceive relationships. Perception is evolving in a specific way but there are many other ways that it could have evolved. The intentional nexus describes a relationship between objects and their perception. I used to like this theory but now I believe that objects have no existence other than in our specifically evolved perception. A very long time ago, neurology provided an evolutionary advantage by developing this perception because it enabled us to recognise boundaries which allowed us to recognise other life. In this sense post-structuralist analysis of language is correct, but the perception of objects is much more primitive than language and I don’t like the post-structuralist focus on language.

    There’s a very short book called Flatland that’s worth a read if you haven’t already. It describes a world inhabited by 2 dimensional objects and how they understand their first contact with a 3 dimensional object. The book implies that the 2 dimensional objects are quite capable of perceiving each other. My view is that the 2 dimensional objects find it just as problematic to perceive each other as they do the 3 dimensional object that intersects their plane of existence.

  32. An example of the neurological perception of difference is the perception of colour. Johannes Itten’s famous demonstrations of colour perception show that colour is perceived relatively. Our neurological construction of colour perception emphasises difference in order to aid our perception of boundaries. This is a much more primitive aspect of perception than language. We also have a neurological bias to perception of movement. These various aspects of neurology combine to create object perception. These aspects of neurology are pre-linguistic in evolution. In short we have an object bias to help us recognise other life.

    My overall concept is learning. Learning to perceive is just one aspect. In my world view, learning replaces the concept of consciousness in philosophy because learning is a more abstract archetype and consciousness is a specific subtype. The concept of learning allows me to describe evolutionary timescales without resorting to dualities (e.g. man/nature, nature/nurture, etc.).

  33. Well …… from my home-grown perspective HH – there is perceiver ~ perception ~ percept (object of perception).

    Now, the power of perception is in the perceiver. It is a living power, a power of being, different in an ant to a human; different perhaps in a planet or a Sun, a Constellation, a Cosmos – (if they are manifestations of living beings as the Tibetan would have us consider).

    The organ of perception is the consciousness; self-consciousness in a human. Consciousness is like a two-sided mirror: in one face is reflected the perceiver and that of which it is a part – in the other, whatever you point it at.

    I would then introduce the notion of ‘seeing things the way that they are’. A veil is anything that prevents one from seeing something the way that it (essentially) is. Humans have created many veils for themselves that they one day will have to see through: however, veils are essentially natural in that one may perceive water innocently (perhaps something like a child perceives water). In this limited sense of perception as you say, the water exists as an ‘object’ having a boundary to land. As the perceiver evolves more of its inherent power, the organ of perception evolves and perhaps Oxygen and Hydrogen are perceived; then veil after veil are rolled back until consciousness is ushered in to the realm in which the perceiver exists. Patanjali described all of this 5~10,000 years ago? (I can just imagine the look on people’s faces when they read his aphorisms)!!

    This just is, this to me is blue sky and green grass: I have no idea if the Universe has a purpose – to me the purpose is to enjoy my existence! To allow my heart to Love the greater ‘Existence’ that is within me. I really enjoy being alive.

    This process I would call ‘learning’. I do not know of any other!

    The Tibetan describes colour as externalisations of the seven energy streams (three of aspect, four of attribute) that build our solar system and all within it. Language allows one perceiver made corporeal to communicate with another, one consciousness with another consciousness, one mind with another mind – it is difficult to describe things ‘the way that they are’ – without similarity of experience – however it makes for an interesting conversation (thanks to our gracious host peterc)!!

    Hence ‘new discoveries’ will always discard the Sun and planets of our concepts caught ‘revolving’ around our earthly selves!

  34. “In the afternoon at the dak bungalow, Muluktla Ramalingam Sastri  sang some of Kabir and Mira’s songs in a classical way. Kabir’s song ‘Remove the veil and you will see Ram’ prompted [Meher] Baba to explain:

    “Just imagine that ages ago you were, now are and will ever be. Then what is there to worry about? I want to impress upon you all that you must be honest. You must be honest to God, to yourselves and to others. If you love God honestly, you will forget yourselves and see me everywhere and in everything. God does not like sham, and ceremonies are only outward. It is an insult to God if you make a show of your devotion. That is what Kabir means when he says: “Don’t revel in your desires.”

    “There are many yogis who can achieve samadhi [transcendental consciousness], fly in the air or walk on water, [siddhis or powers] and yet do not know what love is. This divine love consumes all our limited desires; but this burning in love should be smokeless. Kabir puts this in one line: “Lift the veil of seven colors!” He does not say “remove” the curtain, but uses the word “khole”  (lift, open).

    In fact, this veil is so subtle that even the finest and highest thought cannot pierce or tear it. This veil has seven layers and seven knots. The seven layers are of different colors, and of seven kinds of sanskaras [impressions]. These impressions are of the phenomenal illusory life. To make it more clear; this world that we see, hear and experience through the senses is an illusion, and is based on seven illusory desires. On these seven desires is based the entire working of the gross life, and that is why both ‘descent’ and ‘ascent’ of the soul is in seven stages [in both directions].

    The real seat of the Brahma [Creator] is in the head, and so you find seven doors to these illusions – two eyes, two ears, two nostrils and one mouth. When an advanced soul enters the path with the inner eye open, he is said to open the first knot. And when the first knot is open, one layer out of the seven drops down, corresponding to the mouth. When the first knot is opened, the pilgrim is said to have crushed one desire and to have entered the first plane [of the subtle world].

    “When the second knot is opened, corresponding to the right nostril, the second layer falls down, and the pilgrim is said to have entered the second plane. Here he sees wonderful things. Although all these things are illusory, if he gets lost in them he is gone! (2) The third knot is the left nostril. Here the pilgrim sees more enchantments. He can now read the thoughts of all. After this third knot, the pilgrim enters what is called by Jesus the dark, spiritual night of the soul.

    “The fourth and fifth knots are opened simultaneously, corresponding to the right and left ears. These desires are crushed, and the pilgrim enters the fourth plane. Now he becomes all powerful. He can even raise the dead, and here it is possible that he can fall to the lowest depth. He falls if he misuses his powers. If he resists the temptation of using his powers, then he opens the sixth and seventh knots simultaneously, corresponding to the two eyes, and crushes the sixth and seventh types of desires. He has entered the fifth plane [of the mental-causal world] now. But the veil is still there and he cannot see God. Only God’s grace or the Master’s help can throw away or tear this veil. Then the pilgrim enters the sixth plane, which is represented by the middle of the forehead, that is, the third eye. Now he sees God face-to-face everywhere [as Effulgence].

    Very few can enter the seventh plane, represented by the top of the head. Here one becomes God [Infinite Consciousness]. But this can be done only with the Master’s help. Only rare ones get down from the top of the head to the heart. The Master can, in the twinkling of an eye or even quicker, remove all these veils and everything at once, because all is illusory.

    This, in the end, means that only God is real and all else is an illusion. We are all permanently lodged in this, our Beloved God. So we are all one.

    Lord Meher, 1st. ed., Bhau Kalchuri, Vol. 11, pp. 4046 – 4047.
    http://www.lordmeher.org/index.jsp?pageBase=page.jsp&nextPage=4046

    The Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust, Ahmednagar, India are the copyright holders of all of Meher Baba’s messages, discourses and photographs, unless otherwise stated.

  35. I don’t believe in pre-existence of things. My belief is that things are part of our perception. There are no things in reality. Reality just exists. Things exist in our perception only. They exist because they help us to function. Function has the iterative form of action > feedback > construction > action. Therefore my view is that subject/object structure and object recognition are both innate functions that were learned over an evolutionary timespan by the action cycle. I think pre-existence is our main difference of opinion. I believe that things don’t exist until they are created. Things can be created subjectively as information (e.g. consciousness) or objectively (physical existence) and there’s an interaction between the two forms within the evolutionary process. I believe that difference didn’t exist until life created it. Difference was therefore created to fulfil a function. I believe that consciousness is a specific form of evolution and consciousness is not a useful concept for highly decentralised lifeforms. Consciousness is therefore a functional construction that exists to aid learning (meta learning). Animals with brains have highly centralised biology and it is impossible for use to imagine the experience of a decentralised existence. Seeing is an act. All acts produce information because the results are unexpected. Seeing things as they are implies total perception, perfect action and non-specificity of action. I don’t think any of those things are possible.

    In the incredibly beautiful film, Solaris by Andrei Tarkovsky, a completely alien lifeform is unable to comprehend the nature of our existence (and vice versa). Such an alien may not have any perception of difference because its existence is singular and therefore the perception of difference may have no function to it. Life elsewhere in the universe may not reproduce; it may adapt instead.

    I believe that dualism is a form of incompleteness. All construction is incomplete. The early Brahmanist traditions treat dualism paradoxically because they attempt to overcome dualism by the use of a dualistic system of belief. A potential interpretation of this tradition is that this conception of dualism is deliberately paradoxical because it’s metaphorically incomplete (a deliberately self referencing paradox). My view on infinity is that it’s also a paradox resulting from the incompleteness of number theory. The lack of anthropomorphism and the self-conscious use of paradox in early Brahmanist thought is extremely sophisticated. I don’t like the later interpretations which I view as introducing anthropomorphism from other traditions.

    My beliefs are primarily tied to western traditions, therefore the dualities that I reject are things like mind/body, nature/nurture, perception/reality, mankind/nature. As evolution is a process of learning, all action by life on earth can be incorporated within this concept without any need for dualities.

    Although many of these views are stated as propositions. My view of propositions is that they are part of a logical system that is itself incomplete. Therefore nothing can ever be said to be true in the naïve sense, only functional. Statements are neither true or false except in a narrow context. In the broader sense what matters is whether statements have value.

    As an aside, although I don’t find the post-structural focus on language particularly useful in understanding perception or reality, I think it is helpful in understanding social action. The philosophical views of Baudrillard are compatible with the sociological views of Habermas. Acts of perception and acts of communication can have social purpose.

  36. There are two ways to approach knowledge. I call the two ways “horizontal” and “vertical” respectively, which one might compare with MMT’s distinction of transaction involving “inside” and “outside” money. Just as horizontal transactions involving inside money net to zero, so too, knowledge of the gross world by gross consciousness remains gross. As vertical transactions increase net financial assets by injecting outside money, so knowledge of the subtle though subtle consciousness adds the subtle to the gross, increasing “net knowledge,” and knowledge of the causal by mental consciousness and the mental-causal to the subtle and the gross. Knowledge of the totality by holistic consciousness takes knowledge to the level of wholeness.

    The first way is intellectually, and as Meher Baba points out above, those in gross consciousness are not even able to reach the first of the “inner” planes using thought. The other way, as jrbarch and I have put forward, is to transcend ordinary ways of knowing and progressively develop subtle, mental and holistic consciousness.

    Now it is true that in any period very few develop higher states. But the testimony of some of those that have worldwide from time immemorial is recorded in the annals of perennial wisdom. To disregard this perennial teaching, or to deny it, results in ignorant presumptions that manifest as equally ignorant assumptions such as are characteristic of scientism and reductionist superstition, which are absorbed in quantity and miss quality.

  37. Introductory Postulates
    I. There is one Boundless Immutable Principle; one Absolute Reality which antecedes all manifested conditioned Being. It is beyond the range and reach of any human thought or expression.

    The manifested Universe is contained within this Absolute Reality and is a conditioned symbol of it.
    [Treatise on Cosmic Fire, (The Tibetan) A.A. Bailey].

    Hi HH – I have collected up all you have written to date and reread, making the best effort I can to understand the journey of a fine arts student introduced to philosophy, history of ideas and religion, electrical engineering and software development. Your key points as I understand them are (paraphrasing):
    1. Evolution evolving evolution (meta-evolution).
    2. Genetic storage of meta-evolutionary change via exploration (search) and learning.
    3. Humans create their own storage means ending purely biological evolution, but there is no goal evident.
    4. Life grows. It messes up the physicist’s neat view of the universe. (Permission to freely quote you on that HH …!!)
    5. Perception is an act (not passive).
    6. Within acts “opportunities exist as interplay between internal state and environment. Acts create unexpectedness which is accumulated as internal information”.
    7. Objects have no existence other than in our specifically evolved perception.
    8. My overall concept is learning. Learning to perceive is just one aspect. In my world view, learning replaces the concept of consciousness in philosophy because learning is a more abstract archetype and consciousness is a specific subtype. The concept of learning allows me to describe evolutionary timescales without resorting to dualities (e.g. man/nature, nature/nurture, etc.).
    9. I don’t believe in pre-existence of things. My belief is that things are part of our perception. There are no things in reality. Reality just exists. Things exist in our perception only. They exist because they help us to function. Function has the iterative form of action > feedback > construction > action. Therefore my view is that subject/object structure and object recognition are both innate functions that were learned over an evolutionary timespan by the action cycle.
    10. I believe that things don’t exist until they are created. Things can be created subjectively as information (e.g. consciousness) or objectively (physical existence) and there’s an interaction between the two forms within the evolutionary process.
    11. I believe that difference didn’t exist until life created it. Difference was therefore created to fulfil a function.
    12. I believe that consciousness is a specific form of evolution and consciousness is not a useful concept for highly decentralised life forms. Consciousness is therefore a functional construction that exists to aid learning (meta-learning).
    13. Seeing things as they are implies total perception, perfect action and non-specificity of action. I don’t think any of those things are possible.
    14. My view on infinity is that it’s also a paradox resulting from the incompleteness of number theory.
    15. I reject dualities like mind/body, nature/nurture, perception/reality, mankind/nature. As evolution is a process of learning, all action by life on earth can be incorporated within this concept without any need for dualities.
    16. My view of propositions is that they are part of a logical system that is itself incomplete. Therefore nothing can ever be said to be true in the naïve sense, only functional. Statements are neither true nor false except in a narrow context. In the broader sense what matters is whether statements have value.

    Tom mentioned Kabir above. Somewhere Kabir says something like: between the conscious and the unconscious, the mind has put up a swing. Somewhere else: Kabir saw THAT for fifteen seconds, and it made him a servant for life.. (Am respectfully leaving Tom to elucidate on Meher Baba as I have no experience there).

    You know, if you read the Wikipedia (academic) blurb on Kabir it tastes like stale peanut butter mixed with decomposing chaff. If you read Kabir’s poetry it is obvious he is deeply in Love. Real Love. Although the translations are blind. Earning his living as a shoemaker, Kabir experiences something that changes his life forever and he bursts out into song and prose. He would tell you in no uncertain terms that your logic is a barrier. Reading his poetry you will see he talks about an inner sense of touch and motion, of taste, hearing and sight. Of an Ocean in which forms arise as waves, to sink back. Of the drop within the Ocean, and the Ocean within the drop. That the Ocean, in whatever state it happens to be in NOW (manifest or un-manifest) is everything (infinite). It was there a long time before the religions and numbers and concepts got hold of things. And after seeing THAT, only then should you apply your logic. Otherwise you are an unlit candle, wandering around in the dark.

    So, I agree with Tom that somehow you are going to have to get your logic around those fools like Kabir or Tulsidas, Mira – that have come on this earth and danced their hearts out, enjoying what they found inside. They will all tell you that the mind is limited ‘born in darkness, lives in darkness, dies in darkness’ (darkness = ignorance: ignorance = ignoring).

    And this experience will negate nothing of modern science that is based on true perception of the way things actually are. Although remember I have introduced the work of the Tibetan as a theoretical construct of the Universe having just as much validity as any scientific theory. Perhaps you will agree that there could be theories to the nth degree?

    But putting theories aside. To me, it all depends upon what you want? We have 25,550 days on average. What do you want ….?

    I have sat down every day (missed a few) since 1973 and for between one and two hours gone inside to where my Reality dances in my heart. It is my life-support system, my Breath. It is the only one fact in this Universe of which I am absolutely certain. I don’t do it because of some concept. I don’t practice any religion. There is no goal. I am just a little firefly entranced by the Sun. I do not know of anything that is as real – met during my entire journey through this life. Life (inside of me) indeed grows and messes up the physicists view of the Universe very nicely (thank you very much) dear G.O.D. Logic to me, on the outside should be practical, grounded – like building an environmentally friendly airport or computer; providing good food and health to everybody. I don’t quite know how to express this, but compared to what is on the inside, logic is ‘vapour’. It is sort of ethereal, belonging to a distant world when viewed from the inside. I guess it is because in the end, this world is vapour too, as are we. Yet we need logic to order things. I think logic is useless unless it is permeated with the feeling from the heart. That is what makes us human. At the moment, on this earth, logic is permeated by greed.

    But right now we get to laugh and cry. If we truly were sensible rational beings, we would use our logic to make this earth a pleasant place to visit; love and respect, look after our own kind and the planet. If we understood our own nature, we would listen more to the songs of Kabir …! (et al) and our heart, much more than the mind. Our hearts are infinitely wiser (because of WHO resides hidden there)! Mind needs to catch up a bit …

    Is all of this possible? Yes I think that it is because it is the sovereign reality of every human being that comes and goes on the planet. Now is as good a time as any to wake up (but not to alarm bells)!! The sunrise is gentle and welcoming ….

    Rising even over Barnabas College if those sleepy boys would wake up!

  38. “There cannot be anything hidden from the One who is everywhere present, for He is everywhere. And it naturally follows that when there cannot be anything hidden from this One He must also be All-Knowing, knowing everything.

    “The infinite-Knowing is ‘seeing’ everything at one and the same time, and seeing it NOW. It is that Knowledge which does not begin and does not end; which is indivisible and continuous, and to which nothing can be added and from which nothing can be subtracted.

    “It is that Knowledge which makes God at this moment know that which He knew when it occurred countless aeons ago, and makes Him know that which will occur countless aeons hence; that Knowledge which makes everything known to God simultaneously and NOW. It is the Knowledge of the Perfect Masters* and the Avatar.

    “In terms simpler to you it means that which you as individuals know at this moment I knew aeons ago, and what you individuals in ages to come will be knowing at a particular moment, I know now.”

    Meher Baba, The Everything and the Nothing, 33, p. 58
    http://www.ambppct.org/meherbaba/Book_Files/Everything.pdf

    * Meher Baba said elsewhere that Kabir was one of the Perfect Masters of his time.

  39. My opinion of the enlightenment philosophers is that they adopted a form of exceptionalism with respect to scientific thought. When I read Aristotle’s use of exceptionalism to justify slavery I consider this as absurd without a second thought. I hold this view about exceptionalism generally. Although I have expressed approval of Popper, it’s his work on violence that I’m interested in, not his work on science. I don’t believe that his work on science adds much to earlier functionalist philosophy. My view is that there have been two major paradigm shifts within science during the 20th century. In the first, science acknowledged its own subjectivity and the validity of multiple views. In the second, science acknowledged the centrality of meaning. I don’t believe that the mainstream scientific views of the 21st century recognise any exceptionalism of science.

    David Bohm has probably elaborated this view more than anyone else..
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Implicate_and_explicate_order_according_to_David_Bohm

  40. It’s my direct experience that evolution is a form of learning. This is my experience because developing AI is one of my research hobbies. It’s as real to me as other aspects of my experience. It can be considered a form of external self or a collective consciousness, however these
    meanings are paradoxical and paradoxes demonstrate the limitations of the existing structures of meaning. Mathematics has realised its own incompleteness in the same way the Brahmanist tradition originally did this, by paradox. Mathematicians also dance in mathematics and love in mathematics though this may not be appreciated by non-mathematicians. This is my direct experience because I am a practitioner as well as a student. I am a painter and a mathematician and believe that both mediums are creative, emotional and expressive.

    I prefer the term learning to consciousness. I avoid the term consciousness because it tends to be subjectively misunderstood. I talk about learning because I think it is more explanatory. This is also why I now say exploration instead of search. This could also be related to Teilhard De Chardin’s concept of becoming (becoming would be a supertype of learning and learning would be a supertype of thought). I personally don’t adopt this view because that would imply a specific world-view that goes beyond my experience (as opposed to belief that’s based on experience). Also, as Teilhard De Chardin’s movement towards the Omega point transcribes a specific path, the specificity of the path contradicts his universality thesis and resolving the contradiction requires the introduction of other universes with other Omega points. This is also theoretically possible although it potentially leads to infinite regression because every universe then becomes another evolving lifeform with its own Omega point and then the universe of universes potentially becomes a lifeform (, etc.). In this sense infinity is logically implied by adopting the concept of movement towards rather than movement away. When I say that this is paradoxical, I don’t imply that this means that it is not possible. However, when Brahmanist tradition met the Chinese tradition, the Chinese interpretation suggested the opposite view of movement away because movement towards must be balanced by movement away. In Daoism, contradictions are as meaningful as paradoxes are in the Hindu tradition.

    I describe myself as non-dualist as a rejection of dualism, but not monism or pluralism. The principle that macro is not micro represents many views (not just economics) and the idea that macro is micro to super macro is potentially both pluralism and monism. My view is that the perception of layered realities doesn’t imply belief in any of these possibilities. Within the Brahmanist tradition, this is closer to Buddhism than Hindu philosophies. The Brahmanist tradition has dualism, monism, pluralism and non-dualism. Hindu non-dualism only refers to the duality of Brahman and Atman. Buddhism also has a tradition of non-dualism which has different interpretations. The Brahmanist tradition for resolving contradictions is via paradox and metaphor rather than denial. One aspect that relates to this is that science is also a metaphor. The Chinese tradition is to resolve contradictions with balance.

    I regard contemporary science as substantially non-dualist and it’s taken the west nearly 3,000 years to resolve the dualities from Greek traditions. The western tradition (as opposed to the current situation) is dualist and often superimposes dualist concepts onto non-dualist concepts when considering eastern thought. In the 18th century, science found purpose but this was shown to be incorrectly founded in dualistic exceptionalism. In the 19th century art lost its purpose and this was also founded on the same (incorrect) dualism. Science has lost its purpose again and this is a good thing. Instead of blaming science, why not direct some attention towards art. Perhaps people need to see the science in art in order for art to find its purpose again; because we’ve now seen the art in science. At the level of society, this can create unity when people see the science in art and the art in science. This is a metaphorical unity of social heart and mind rather than primacy of one or the other. This would need to happen at a social level by social action (without implying intention).

  41. In the context of meaning, opportunity freedom suggests the extension of existing meaning rather than rejection. Propositional form is one of the easiest forms of meaning to use and this is why I often resort to propositional form to express difficult concepts (although its truth is paradoxical). Dualism has function and it has meaning. Although I don’t believe in dualism I often use dualist concepts as well because dualist concepts have meaning. Their function already exists in the structure of language. These are shorthand forms.

    Artists create unique forms to expand meaning because “form follows function” is truer than the Bauhaus realised. As meaning is a type of function, form expresses meaning in art; even in a non linguistic context. As a painter I can express myself using visual primitives to create new meaning. Structure resolves into meaning by action. When Jasper Johns put a single handprint onto a painting it was evidence of his presence but when he repeated this action it signified his presence by creating a meaningful structure. Action can create meaning socially as well as individually (by social action instead of thought). Subjective and objective actions differ in the way they are observed but I don’t believe that they are essentially different. Meaning can be created socially without intention because action creates structure, even without any intention to create meaning. Hegel integrated late Chinese naturalist (Daoist) action into his conception of the social creation of meaning and transposed it onto the western tradition. Marx identified one aspect of this when he described commodity fetishism. Commodity fetishism is, however, only one aspect of social meaning. Any social act creates social meaning. The meaning is created by social reaction and the source is not individual intention because often there may be no intention or the opposite intention. Marx’s adaptation of Hegel and application of this concept to commodity fetishism was a great insight. This is also consistent with Habermas’s communication act. Again, the more general form is that every social act creates social meaning without the necessity of intention because social action creates comprehension. When minimalist artists tried to create form without meaning they found it couldn’t be done. They tried to use abstract form without meaning to express a lack of content but it still had a social context. As their act was a social act, they created meaning without intention; even though meaning was the opposite of their intention. The situationists also tried random social action with the same effect. Social meaning is another form of learning (which is metaphorically also external self or collective consciousness). This is what I mean when I say that humans have externalised evolution because they developed external meaning to the extent that it can be manipulated across generations. Learning exists where non entropic action creates structure. I believe that any negatively entropic action creates meaning, even at a level that we wouldn’t normally consider life.

    Individual learning, evolutionary learning and social learning are all subtypes of learning. This is why learning is a supertype. Evolutionary learning and social learning are both external, however social learning is meta-evolutionary (using a layered meta model) and this explains why learning is accelerating. Social animals externalise meaning in social action but humans developed methods of intergenerational transfer of social meaning. This is an example of meta-evolutionary acceleration. Humans will continue to externalise themselves and evolve new meta layers.

  42. Hi HH – if this is what you are saying, I think I would heartily agree that ‘separation’ is human folly?

    I like the idea of form (say a word) masking meaning which in turn masks purpose – all ultimately resolved in being (without purpose)! Saying it another way, there is only one Word that can be uttered without meaning or purpose ….

    Just wondering if any of your art works are available online to view HH?

    Is not infinity logically implied by movement in any direction?

  43. I probably didn’t explain the bit on infinity at all well as I switched meanings from specific (Omega point) to general (Chinese traditional thought). The Hindu concept of infinity is that when infinity is subtracted from infinity then the result is infinity. Infinity breaks number theory when used in this way as it allows proofs of things like 1 equals 2. The Daoist interpretation is different. This interpretation states that infinite existence has zero potential and non existence has infinite potential. This is in line with the Daoist view that everything contains its own contradictions, therefore infinity is zero and zero is infinity. The most interesting Chinese philosophy appears before imperial unification of China. Unfortunately there are only fragments from this period. Infinity is logically implied in a number of ways from the concept of non existence. I don’t dispute the logical implication; I question the reality of the logic.

    Sun Tsu demonstrates a mature understanding of opportunity freedom, which appears to contradict the Daoist view of balance in favour of growth. His view describes growth in a way that’s consistent with time’s arrow.

    “Opportunities multiply as they are seized.”

    There is a similar (though different) conception from the Tao Te Ching which forms the Chinese view of action without intention.

    “It is the way of Heaven not to strive, and yet it skilfully
    overcomes; not to speak, and yet it is skilful in obtaining a reply;
    does not call, and yet men come to it of themselves. Its
    demonstrations are quiet, and yet its plans are skilful and effective.
    The meshes of the net of Heaven are large; far apart, but letting
    nothing escape.”

    This is the basis of the Chinese view of action without intention. Since my previous posts, I’ve been wondering whether the “science in art” is the sociology of art, i.e. the social act of art. “The Game Of War” by Guy Debord is a board game that adapts “The Art Of War” by Sun Tzu for social purpose. The board game allows people to model social strategy as a game. I think that the game is intended to create social meaning in line with Marxist interpretation of this theory.

    I don’t have any art online at the moment. I searched the way back machine and it doesn’t seem to save old images from websites. I could put something online but I’m due to move house within the next few weeks and everything is boxed up at the moment.

    It depends what you mean by human folly. It’s probably folly for humans because humans are social. I’ve been thinking about the function of barriers in osmoregulation for a while and whether there’s some broader metaphor that can be drawn from this.

  44. Perennial wisdom as expressed, for example, in Taoist, Vedic, Buddhist, Sufi, Dastarian Zoroastrian, Qabalistic, Gnostic Christic traditions, as well as by non-aligned mystics and masters, is not dealing exclusively with the horizontal level of the gross that is the subject of intellectual analysis but rather with the vertical level that encompasses the gross, subtle, and mental-causal of relative changing phenomena and the Absolute Noumenon, the realizing of which is the point of those traditions. Western thought is chiefly about intellectual analysis of self and world, whereas, whereas Eastern thought focuses chiefly on the Way as a means of realization through supernormal and ultimately supramental functioning.

    Purnamadah Purnamidam
    Purnat Purnamudachyate
    Purnasya Purnamadaya
    Purnameva Vashishyate
    (Isha Upanishad)

    is rendered:

    That (Absolute Reality) is full, this (relative reflection of it in finite mind) is full.
    From That (absolute) fullness, this (relative) fullness manifests
    Taking this (relative) fullness from That (absolute) fullness
    Fullness (of the absolute) remains.

    There is no loss of fullness in taking relative fullness from absolute fullness in that the relative phenomenal fullness is the manifestation of the unmanifest, i.e., mere appearance that is only apparently real. The fullness of the Absolute is the only Reality.

    This is the narrative of the manifestation of the relative from the Absolute and the realization of the Absolute as Infinite Consciousness by finite awareness through the unfolding of the potential of finite conscious, whose ground in Infinite Consciousness.

    It is the theme of creation that is told in all the mystical literature, and set forth in some detail in Meher Baba’s God Speaks. According to perennial wisdom it is the path we are all traversing whether one is aware of it yet or not. The path is is about realizing that “this” is actually “That.”

    This is accomplished by transcending limited mind. Yogascha chitta vritti nirodhah (Patanjali Yoga Sutras, I, 2) is rendered, “Yoga (as the state of union) is the extinction of mental modifications.”

    Nirodhah and nirvana both mean extinction, as do fana in Sufism, bittul in Qabalah, and naughting in Christian mysticism. The inward path involves many naughtings of limted self, until one realizes Infinite Consciousness upon the full and final extinction of limited mind as individual separate self, which is the ground of dualism.

    Why is this significant for the study of economics? First, knowledge is inherently one, but there are more and less enlightened approaches to it depending on the mode of knowing. The problems that humanity face today are the result of ignorance (low general level of consciousness) and the incomplete knowledge spun from various levels of ignorance, which is characterized by mistaking the trivial for the important and taking the important to be trivial. The idea that rational pursuit of utility maximization, where utility is identified with narrow (material) self-interest, in an invisible hand that guides guides social behavior to an optimal level of satisfaction is just bonkers from this point of view. Only a low level of consciousness could imagine it.

    The solution is to raise the mode of knowing through cultivation, on the one hand, and secondly, to consider what the wise who have trod the path have said by way of advice and instruction. To paraphrase Rig Veda, X, the wise traveler seeks direction of those who know the way.

    Secondly, open-minded analysis, including pursuit of this wisdom, shows that perennial wisdom is not supernatural but natural. The wise say that this is how nature works because this is the purpose of “creation.” The wise of all times and climes testify to the same path and ultimate state of realization, although they garb their reports and teaching in the context of the time in order to be understood, and they also teach different means appropriate to context also. But careful analysis reveals the common core.

  45. hi Tom,

    I agree that the views you express on the universal represent many Hindu and Daoist traditions. My interpretation of Buddhism is that universalism and absolutism are a form of attachment. Paradoxically, my understanding is that Buddhism says that the non-universal is universal and the universal is non-universal. One of the main features of Buddhism is that it negates many aspects of Brahmanist tradition. This negation is reconciled by the concept of turning the wheel which has some similarity to Hegel’s dialectics (which combine Daoist negation with western dialectics). In my own views, I’ve replaced dialectics with ‘opportunity freedom’ but both concepts are compatible
    with turning the wheel. The Buddhist tradition is that Brahmanist texts are sacred but the 2nd turning of the wheel in Buddhism negates the universalist view of infinity from Brahmanist tradition.

    There’s also another traditional view of infinity from Greek geometry that considers the beginning of a line and it’s one of the origins of atomism. The beginning of a line was also considered by the Chinese logicians. The Chinese logical school died out but the Greek view was resurrected in the
    concept of a delta in calculus. My understanding is that early Brahmanist thought is the oldest conception of infinity.

    In my posts above, I reject ‘this is not’ that by rejecting dualism but remain open minded on whether ‘this is that’. I quite like the concept of emergence which started as a reinterpretation of Teilhard De Chardin and it’s a type of ‘this is that’, however I don’t think the concept is sufficiently informative for me to have a strong opinion. On the concept of separation, my view is that separation has function but it’s probably not an essential feature of reality. I’ve agreed twice that traditional views are world-views rather than religions and that religion is a modern (dualistic) interpretation. This is the third time that I’m agreeing on this point. If you agree with me again on this then I’ll be forced to agree a fourth time, which seems quite pointless.

  46. “One of the main features of Buddhism is that it negates many aspects of Brahmanist tradition”

    Buddha was a reformer of Brahmanism, which not to be confused with the genuine sanatana dharma (eternal way). At that time, the Vedic dharma had degenerated into a normative teaching in which the husk was taken for the kernel. Buddha came to renew it. In order to do that, he stood it on it head, effectively communicating to the teachers of the time, you know not whereof you speak.

    The kernel of Buddhism and the Vedic sanatana dharma (eternal way) are the same, just expressed in seemingly opposite terminology. Buddha’s shunyavada and Shankara’s mayavada are in essence the same.

    “I have seen the ancient way, the old path that was taken by the formerly awakened ones, and that is the path I follow.”
    — Buddha, Samayutta-nikaya, 2.106

    What the Upanishad call “fullness,” Buddha called “emptiness.” The realization is the same. Indeed, for Hindus, Buddha is the ninth avatara of Vishnu, and Krishna, whose teaching in the Bhagavad Gita, which is said to be the butter churned from the cream of the Upanishads skimmed from the milk of the Vedas, is the eighth avatara.

    ekam sad vipra bahudha vadanti
    The real (that is truth) is one, the sages speak of it variously.
    — Rig Veda 1.164.46

    “Subhuti, do not say that the Tathagata [Buddha] conceives the idea: I must set forth a Teaching [Dharma]. For if anyone says that the Tathagata sets forth a Teaching he really slanders Buddha and is unable to explain what I teach. As to any Truth-declaring system, Truth is undeclarable; so “an enunciation of Truth” is just a name given to it.”
    — Buddha, Diamond Sutra 21

    “I have not come to teach but to awaken.”
    — Meher Baba, Universal Message

    “The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao”
    — Dao De Jing, 1.1.

    In Christian mysticism these complimentary approaches of analogy and silence are called the via affirmativa and the via negativa in mystical theology. What the Upanishads call universal self (atma), Buddha called not-(individual) self (an-atma). Both traditions agree that the illusion of separate individuality is transcended in realization, and that realization is ineffable strictly speaking. Words and concepts can only point toward it but not grasp it.

    “Mere suffering exists, no sufferer is found;
    The deed is, but no doer of the deed is there;
    Nirvana is, but not the man that enters it;
    The Path is, but no traveler on it is seen.”
    — Buddha, Visuddhi-Magga, XVI

    It is clear from these traditions that the realization is ineffable, beyond thought, imagination and predication. Where the Upanishads used analogy wrt to realization of the Absolute (that which does not change), Buddha employed silence.

    The practice of both traditions, in fact, all mystical traditions, is aimed at “discriminating between that which changes and that which does not change,” as I heard it from both Kalu Rinpoche and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

    Asato Maa Sadgamaya Shanti Mantra
    “Lead me from the unreal to the real.”
    — Brihadaranyaopanishad

    Perennial wisdom is constantly being renewed since over time the kernel of the teaching is submerged in doctrine, ritual and observance, the characteristics of normative religions, as the spirit of the teaching wanes and is replaced by the letter. Then the wisdom tradition is mostly lost to sight and the river of spirituality runs dry. In due course, another messenger arises to renew the spirit of the knowledge in that age.

    “The Avatara or Savior is the messenger of God. He is like the viceroy of a mighty monarch. As when there is some disturbance in a far-off province, the king sends his viceroy to quell it, so whenever there is a decline of religion in any part of the world, God sends his Avatara there. It is one and the same Avatara that, having plunged into the ocean of life, rises up in one place and is known as Krishna, and diving down again rises in another place and is known as Christ. The Avataras stand in relation to the Absolute Brahman as the waves of the ocean are to the ocean. On the tree of absolute existence-knowledge-bliss there hang innumerable Ramas, Krishnas, Buddhas, Christs, etc., out of which one or two come down to this world now and then and produce mighty changes and revolutions.”
    — Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Sayings of Sri Ramakrishna

  47. Huffy, I am not disagreeing with you as much as trying to point out that there is a difference between intellectual and imaginative modeling of the vertical dimensions of reality and that reality as it can be realized, just as there is in the horizontal dimension. Just as we test representation models against empirics in the gross world and find that models are maps rather than the territory itself, so to vertical models are maps of the Way and not the Way itself, which must be realized in order to rise to higher levels of human potential.

    The key point here, which jrbarch has also been emphasizing, is that such maps can be followed and landmarks on them confirmed in personal experience. This is important because it strongly suggests that what is rejected by reductionism as “supernaturalism,” implying superstition, is actually naturalistic, within the purview of our nature, although not attainable by either reasoning or sense observation.

    But limiting human cognition to reasoning and sense observation is an unwarranted assumption, given the reach of human knowledge as testified to worldwide from time imemorial to the present day. The disciplines of consciousness studies and transpersonal psychology are now examining this emerging field rigorously.

    My contention is that the social sciences are spin-offs of social and political thought and contain ontological, epistemological and ethical presumptions based on that thought. These presumptions are culturally embedded and seldom scrutinized. When scrutinized from a deeper level of analysis, many of the current presumptions are found wanting, Bentham’s primitive utility calculus, for instance, and the invisible hand based on classical physics.

    And it is precisely these presumptions that are resulting in a dysfunctional societies and economies, because the ship is all sail but has neither keel nor rudder, and is heading for the shoals. It’s past time to focus serious attention on raising the general level of consciousness not only horizontally but also vertically.

  48. Had a wander over the (landscape~canvas) of the montage above: I very much like –

    * HH’s focus on meta-evolution, learning and social value; especially the idea that “life grows, messing up the physicists’ view of the universe!” (Really, I laugh every time I read that …)!!!!
    *the discussion around ‘sacrifice, life-worlds, perception, infinity, existence, exceptionalism, and meaning’
    * knowledge as different in different states of consciousness (or learning as HH prefers)
    * knowledge, both as learning horizontally in the gross world, vertically in the subtle world, and exchange between the two
    *quotes from Tao Te Ching and Isha Upanishad (and others – noting here that they are all descriptions of THAT which everybody agrees is indescribable – has to be experienced; can only be ‘felt’). Human beings really like to ‘explain’ everything away!!

    To the above, being by nature a practical person, I have added a few snippets about one way I know of to access something of the vertical through the ‘heart’: by recognising (feeling, not ignoring) the thirst within – the surprising potential of which leads you to experience, for yourself, how your heart has always loved the Divine (just naturally by the way, from the day you were born – it is not learnt)! And of course, only thirsty horses will drink.

    And yes, I know there are people waiting in the wings who will howl there is no such thing! You mean, you don’t know!!!!

    What everybody needs, is ‘just a little elbow room’ to be themselves as PR puts it; a little bit of time to be human – to rediscover their hu-man-it-y. That is what we have lost! You know, like most kids are still human despite the best efforts of their parents to turn them into something else. I am sorry, but the person who describes another human being as a ‘worker-bot’ is missing just about everything. If you are a human being and have a heart then you are so much more; your potential is so much more. You carry within you no less than the Divine, and for that everybody should respect you – you respect yourself – giving to you dignity, and acclaim the ocean of peace resides within you. If you have a human heart then that is THE qualification required – it is all possible! With dignity and peace, prosperity will not be chaos! Without them, it’s a dog’s breakfast!

    I think we need to win back our humanity as quickly as possible (I would say urgently) – in this world it is disappearing faster than the oil reserves. We are diminished, bound, parodies of our true selves – our social roles bleeding sensibility and grace. Where is our human purpose: where the recognition of each persons’ precious limited time on this earth, to pursue happiness free of formulae; to enlighten one’s self in the way each best sees fit – honouring the universal social (human) contract of harmlessness. To learn because that is who we are!! We delight in growth. If you see ‘worker-bots’ lift your eyes and see a human being; if you see the 1%: ‘when the poor eat fish and the rich eat caviar, the end result is the same – excrement’ (PR’s dad)!

    When I thank peterc for hosting this conversation, I am not just being polite. There is a human being there who like so many others is doing little things in the hope of a better world. There are billions of such people all around the world. Atheists and theists – it doesn’t matter. Even though these little efforts may not seem much in the face of gross selfishness and the abuse of privilege and power, still, it behoves me as a human being to recognise that, applaud that, celebrate that – it is ‘humanity’ at work. That to me is our strength, our true potential – of inestimable personal and ‘social value’; that to me is the territory we have surrendered and need urgently to win back. Concepts are just concepts. There is plenty of ‘elbow room’ for all.

    PR always says: “check the volume of your cranium – that is how big your problems are”. That is why it is possible to reduce, one by one, the miasma and fiasco that is in the world. Each in their own way. It is done by people who say it can be done. It is done by the people who do it. He also tells a story about the little lion cub who thought he was just a sheep.

    The real war is fought on the inside. It is our ‘humanity’ we are fighting for. It spills out into each arena, each aspect of our lives. Peace is integral to a human being. It is in our nature; it is our nature – we need to feel it to make it real! Then we need to express it. The peace that resides in a human heart, is the most tangible thing I know.

    Trust your new abode gives you lots of time and space for creativity HH!!

  49. PS – have just caught up with the 3 comments above mine.

    I just want to concur with Tom on the historical record of that which has always been within a human being and the help people have had to reach it – we are talking about more than just a casual and tantalising theoretical discussion here! Either the Divine is within a human being or it is not; it is reachable or it is not; help is given or it is not. It has meaning and significance for human existence or the whole enchilada is lala land non-sensical.

    Even if you discovered it all to be true; it is still your choice what you want to do in your life. I would venture to say it doesn’t make you more or less of a human being (just like flying a 747 doesn’t change anything). It could make you a lot happier ….! That might help. That we all need peace and certainty in our lives is true.

    Half of those religious texts may have been written by scholars with absolutely no experience – just a head full of theories like pundits ‘interpreting’ Kabir today. Some like the Buddha have tried to convey something of their experience – that is their ‘humanity’ at work. I think Tom has a pretty good feel for that sort of thing. Kabir was so much in Love he just babbled like a brook!! He was the instrument and his Love was the song.

    I can say curiosity is not enough.

    My understanding is Tom just wishes (in his unique and fascinating scholarly way) to underscore the reality of experience and the historical record. And HH has well thought out, well presented and very interesting ‘logical’ theories that will have to stand the test of time and tide, along with all of the rest.

    And my little contribution is don’t forget the feeling that comes from the heart. It is a door.

  50. Thanks for the thoughtful replies.

    I chose the word negate to relate to negation of negation (from Hegel’s dialectics) which I thought was a part of Tom’s beliefs.

    My view of the internal self vs. the social self in human development is that they are out of phase. The external tends to lag because of violence.

    I agree that traditions are complementary, however believing that they are the same implies that there is no need to read more than one tradition. Opposing directions of Buddhism and Hinduism and the circular form of Daoism resolve into a spiral form where travelling inwards is also travelling outwards. This is a perspective from three traditions, not just one view. Inwards and outwards are perspectives that are relative but saying that they are the same creates a one sided perspective. Christianity and Daoism are also complementary because wu wei and Christian moral courage form a picture of how and what. I frequently use the metaphor of perspectives and believe that perspectives are vital because the flaws of a perspective can only be seen from another perspective. Perspectives aren’t contradictory but I don’t see them as the same. This is also why I think that nothing could be more important than people having different opinions.

    Whether things are either true or not true is another debate that has thousands of years of history behind it so I’d rather not get that one started. I agree on direct experience being more important than historic texts but I think we’ve been over that already. I think some of the Tao Te Ching is quite weak but other parts are amazing.

  51. HH: “I chose the word negate to relate to negation of negation (from Hegel’s dialectics) which I thought was a part of Tom’s beliefs.”

    While I like Hegel’s dialectically thinking, and consider it a hight point in Western thought in many respects, I consider his contribution to be solely intellectual, based chiefly on reasoning. Hegel understood Greek philosophy very well and was exposed to Eastern thought, which is based on non-rational cognition and which Hegel did not have access to, as far as I can make out. This is something for which Schopenhauer severely criticized Hegel in his own day, i.e., being culture-bound and therefore intellectually captured.

    So to put Hegel, along virtually all of Western speculative thought, in the same category as sages functioning beyond the intellectual-sensory level would be a mistake in my view. In contrast to rationalism and realism, romanticism uses feeling to access and express non-rational knowledge, but this is limited, too, in comparison with higher cognition.

    Genuine wisdom in whatever context it is expressed is one and the same because the level of cognition upon which it is based is identical. One of the difficulties in sorting this out intellectually is that there are many levels vertically, i.e., rungs of the “ladder of ascent.”

  52. In terms of perspectives and traditions HH: am wondering what you would think of that old story about the five blind men who ask to ‘see’ an elephant? One grabs hold of the tusk, one the ear, one the trunk, one the leg, one the tail. Then they compare descriptions.

    And even if they for one moment stopped trying to assert their particular description as an ‘elephant’ their synthesis would be pieces of the jigsaw puzzle – not anywhere near the experience of actually seeing the elephant, and looking straight into its eye!

    I don’t think you have covered this aspect before, but apologies if I have missed it.

  53. My perception is that the paths are travelling through the people in more ways than people are travelling the paths. The paths are also travelling through much more than just people. Many types of path are simultaneously travelled through every point. Consciousness is limiting because it implies objectness as opposed to connectedness. The concept of learning implies increasing connectivity of paths. Subjectivity is a place where you can see your own perspective of the paths that you are connected to. Subjectivity is a boundary that creates the function of action which allows paths to create themselves. The more paths that are created the more connected things become. This is my direct experience of paths.

    These are my last words on here as this discussion is becoming increasingly meaningless.

  54. OK.

    My closing remark would be:

    everything in the whole universe is meaningless (sums zeros to zero) unless you put ONE in front. Put the zeros in front of the one and it recedes, put them after and it grows. Everybody (and I mean just about everybody) I meet give the zeros priority – so the world goes around and is upside down!

    Sometimes I laugh. Sometimes I cry ….! Always, I retreat to a place inside of me, where it is peaceful.

    Thanks for your very interesting thoughts HH and Tom. Cheers ….

    jrbarch

  55. Thought I would ‘insert’ into this post (even though it belatedly appears at the end) – a brief ‘chakra’ description of our constitution; dealing with the focusing of consciousness within the confines of the chakras and the use of particular ‘types’ of associated energy (linking this to peterc’s lastest post More Disconcerting Shrinkage):

    • the ‘bull of the earth’ working through the chakras below the diaphragm, bullying the herd and especially the female aspect into submission; fighting amongst themselves and hurting themselves and others (especially the young) in the heat of battle for dominance and so-called ‘power’ – to the extent today of temporarily overriding institutional arrangements such as govt. law and society

    • the over-whelming use of desire energy, the bulk of which remains untempered by mental energy, manipulated by the bulls and confusing for everybody else

    • the evolutionary emergence of the use of energy working through the chakras above the diaphragm (heart – universality, throat – creativity, ajna – coordination, head – vision)

    It is always good to remember that despite all of the negativity in the world, there is something that is ‘good’ in human beings that forever beckons us to look within, understand and accept; and from this reality – in whatever form it takes for you – express without!

    Have placed a pdf extract (link below) from Esoteric Psychology II A.A. Bailey (Dwhal Kuhl) a. Problems arising out of the awakening and stimulation of the centres in my dropbox (7 days) in case anybody would like to overview this evolutionary process of the transference (lifting) of energy through the chakras from the point of view of a Tibetan abbot. It’s one of those ‘don’t know how to respond’ comments but serves to highlight two possibilities:

    1. Evolution is bigger and deeper than we imagine
    2. There are minds present on this earth who (if everything in the extract turns out to be reality) are in advance of our own

    – and one action:

    1. No matter what we need to defeat greed.

    Centres.pdf

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