Inviting Visions of a Better World

I spent a lazy hour browsing past discussions in the ‘Future Society’ and ‘Job & Income Guarantee’ categories. A comment by Jim O’Reilly caught my eye. In part, it reads:

[M]ost of us probably spend a fair number of hours regularly thinking on our own about how to advance to a better world. That’s a bit of a waste though as we’d be far stronger if we combined our efforts. Is it absurd to think of combining resources and working together in a project that would try to make a sound case for “utopia”? Or is that madly beyond our pay grade?

I like the idea. The task is daunting, but also exciting. It would be a worthwhile contribution if we could add to the public discourse on this question.

Currently, there is considerable dissatisfaction with the economic system, as evidenced most notably by the emergence of the Occupy movement on the left, but also, in a less conscious way, the Tea Party on the right. So far, no widely accepted vision has emerged of where we are trying to head. Without a coherent set of demands, it is difficult to push for meaningful change.

At the same time, any program needs to be open enough to allow for diversity of opinion if it is to find broad-based support. In some previous posts (e.g., here and here), I have sought to allow for a degree of openness in this respect, as have others in their comments. But these are only the beginnings of exploration. The ideas — or alternative ones — need fleshing out.

Although, as Jim intimated in his comment, the task is a challenging one, it is obvious from the quality of previous discussions that many people have contemplated how economic activity might be better organized. So, I thought it might be worth creating a space, in the comments section, where anybody who feels so inclined can explore – as briefly or as in-depth as they like — their conceptions of a better society. The more contributions and viewpoints, the merrier. Please don’t feel constrained by what has been posted here in the past, or confined to any particular ideology other than your own.

Who knows? It might help us piece together common elements that can be further developed not only by us but by others operating, now or in the future, elsewhere in cyberspace or the “real world”.

Relevant links to other blogs or forums concerned with similar questions would also be beneficial.

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36 thoughts on “Inviting Visions of a Better World

  1. They are always going to be beliefs and therefore the one that will be implemented will be the one that has the most religious power.

    A new economic system will almost certainly have to be a new religion of sorts. Because its always down to belief rather than science.

  2. Someone got coal in their stocking this year. (Looks up, POINTS!)

    This is a great challenge, Peter. It seems I spend so much time screaming about what I don’t want while fighting the opposition, I’ve never taken the time to figure out what I actually want. No doubt it will involve zip lines, but I will put some thought into it.

  3. Neil: You may be right. I would say there is a basis for “liberty, equality, fraternity” in the major religions if their central message is taken seriously by adherents. Those aims certainly seem more in accord with what have been presented as Jesus’ words, the lifestyle of the first-century Christians, or the social prescriptions for Israel described in the Torah, than neo-liberalism. I always enjoy Matt Franko’s posts on this and related topics.

  4. Trixie: I understand what you mean about knowing what you don’t want. Back at university, my postgraduate supervisor once took me aside to make the obvious but easily overlooked point that at some stage I needed to work out “not only what I was against but what I was for”. It has always stuck with me. It is easier said than done, though. Hence my request for assistance.

    PS. I will pretend you didn’t make light of coal. We love it down here, and would never joke about it. It is our thing.

  5. Neil: They are always going to be beliefs and therefore the one that will be implemented will be the one that has the most religious power. A new economic system will almost certainly have to be a new religion of sorts. Because its always down to belief rather than science.

    Of course. Right now we have a social, political and economic economic religion called “neoliberalism” in which the top cannibalizes the lower levels and propagandizes the lower classes into voluntary submission, using authority (force) as needed on the dissenters and heretics. Shouldn’t be too difficult to come up with an inspiring “vision” better than that.

    BTW, see Robert H. Nelson, Economics as Religion: From Samuelson to Chicago and Beyond for interesting parallels between economics and religion.
    http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/0-271-02095-4.html

  6. Check out Progressive utilization theory (PROUT)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_utilization_theory

    It’s an interesting framework for a new ethical, social, political, and economic system to replace neoliberal capitalism. It was originated by Indian spiritual leader Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar (1921–1990) aka Shri Shri Anandamurti, founder of Ananda Marga (Way of Bliss).
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prabhat_Ranjan_Sarkar

    In my view, this type of framework is the starting point, since it is comprehensive. A comprehensive approach is a sine qua non. It is also needed for a secular “religion” to underpin globalization.

    BTW, this is the basis of economic historian Ravi Batra’s work on cycles in history.

    I would add that the day of Western dominance is winking down and the ROW is becoming increasingly more important on the global stage. The 21st century promises to become the Asian century as the 20th was the American. China and India are especially relevant because of their outsized populations and significant resources. They are both developed civilizations with a lot to contribute from their cultural heritages. It would be myopic to miss this coming.

    Brazil is also going to become a major player on the world stage and it is carving a progressive role already.

    Islam, too, is a highly developed civilization, too, and it will have a great deal to contribute also.

    We need to begin viewing the world as closed system economically and envision how these different inputs will factor into development.So far, this is not happening, and neoliberalism is pushing for Western dominance instead. This is fool’s errand that is doomed to failure.

  7. My 5 cents:
    The core of an economy is in Surplus Circulation, nominal surplus as in “income spent on someone else” like in parents spending on kids, like savings used by someone else trough credit, investing in production or financial assets that will end up enabling someone else to use real product and services, not in Marxist sense since it is nominal surplus.
    My spending is someone else’s income.
    Spending more money from wealthy is of increasingly marginal benefit to them.
    In a world where a productivity is such that about 15% of working population can produce for subsistance needs of 100% of population, what will other 75% of workers do? Isn’t it good if they can work on providing services that will benefit in less and less visible benefits to individuals as less and less workers are needed to produce subsistence products.
    In an evermore automated production, when robots will take over all production and needed work, what will able bodied people do all days unless they are organised to provide marginal benefits to someone else?
    Bureaucracy is mostly about organising, not direct production. So, organising a collective is a benefit to a society. there is so many other marginal benefits to society that can be imagined and cooperatively created in order to employ population while production and basic services are done by robots.
    Money is nominal value, products and services are real value. Circulation of money only enables real value to be used. Surplus Circulation is esential to an economy. Providing benefits to anyone who needs it enables others to use real value trough Surplus Circulation.
    I imagine something of a Marxist paradise enabled by extremely high productivity trough automatisation of production and MMT logic. Subsistance needs are met by robots and are free on a needs basis, and human workers contribute to marginal benefit of others. Subsistance needs distributed trough one form of (primary) money and other work organised around complimentary (alternative) money within a country (or world).

  8. In a society better than the actual ones, money will be managed better than public utilities, as electrical energy, are today; subject to stricter standards of quality of service and resilience – this to mention the problem that seemingly most concern the author and readers of this blog :).

    Simultaneously the real problem would come to the fore:

    How to realize the best standard of life for 8 billion human beings with the knowledge and the resources we depart from in this instant?

    The global rule says each country must must attain mean constant population density and universal providing of human security to its citizens.

    The content of human security to be provided is defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UN48). Its a wide definition agreed to by states representing the majority of people on Earth, a very good depart point. Many human rights are still to be made real in many countries. The failure to Article 23 Right to Remunerated Work is blatant especially in so-called ‘developed countries’.

    We know that there are enough people, knowledge, equipment, resources to provide a decent life to every person and increase human development, if population density is maintained constant, clearly a situation we are approaching.

    And yet we fail to materialize what we know is possible. Why?

    Could it be because we must think 8 billion, when we think each of us?

    OK, let us think 8 billion. 8 billion people cooperating to obtain the benefits of monetized transactions of money versus good or services. The rules for prosperity are the same for every country: universal full occupation, health care, education, retirement. Over this basic slice of earning available to all citizens a surplus product can be privately produced with increased productivity and can be unequally distributed as surplus earning.

    This approaches the realization of the rights consigned in the UDHR incorporating the Enlightenment Rights. The last ones are expanded by Freedom of Fear, a pacific, war-free world, and Freedom of Want, all people around the globe having a decent minimal real income in goods and services (Roosevelt41).

    Then one could face real problems like global warming, energy shortage, systemic resilience.

    That in fact seem easy to solve if evolution on Earth becomes conscious of itself, human species becomes aware of her position in evolution. It is a fact new: a species takes conscience of being the product of billions of years of evolution of life and proceeds accordingly [JohnStewart08]. If this hypothesis seems strange one can observe that we have no indication that a biosphere is something existing in few numbers in the Galaxy. There must exist many biospheres in the Galaxy, some attaining awareness of themselves, some not.

    If this human species goes there, if we learn to live in peace and prosperity, it is to be expected that we become more and more interested in space exploration. To shorten up things, maybe, we find that to travel near instantly through space is a simple technological matter and we become acquainted to galactic travel and other humanities. :)

    Being able to leave in peace and prosperity most probably is the key to the genial reinterpretation of physical data and theory we would need to solve teleportation as a technical problem. The key and a test to pass, as it may well happen that in the developed club of the peaceful and prosperous humanities of the Galaxy, the control of needy-greedy is a required condition to approach. :)

    [JohnStewart08] John Stweart, The Evolutionary Manifesto, 2008.
    http://www.evolutionarymanifesto.com/man.pdf

    [Roosevelt41] Franklin Roosevelt, The Four Freedoms speech, 1941.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Freedoms).

    [UN48] United Nations, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948.
    http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml

  9. ISLAND STORY

    In the midst of a mighty ocean, there was once a small island under a beautiful sky. There lived on the island a boy, the son of a fisherman and one of a village of fisher-folk who harvested sustenance from the surrounding sea. The boy knew all lore that upheld life on his island, and was skilled in the crafts that made existence possible. Yet he was a dreamer.

    Every evening his father would raise his eyes to the cliffs overlooking the boat haven – and there would be the boy perched high on the rocks, with one hand resting beneath his chin gazing longingly out to sea. The boy shared little of the ritual of village life. He smiled pensively at the joys of the villagers as they cycled through their days; shared with them their sorrows, and bore delights and problems of his own. But still he was distant and thoughtful as though far away; straining to hear the sound of a forgotten song that the sea might release to the prevailing winds.

    One day, lowering his eyes from the far horizon where the sea hugged the sky in mysterious exchange, the boy gazed upon the village below and a veil lifted slowly from his eyes. He saw starkly the journey of birth and death, the futility of ego, the opposites of delight and pain; and knew that everything that happened along the way, including to him, came to the same end. Even the sun and the stars, and the universe in whose bosom they lay would one day be no more.

    And feeling within his heart an incredible thirst that called out for Knowledge, he resolved that life had no other meaning than the quenching of this thirst, and that he should henceforth seek its end.

    Accordingly, he walked down to the waters edge to where a swift current passed, knowing it would carry him out to sea – and cast himself afloat on a small skiff to the quest of his heart.

    Quickly he was carried out on the ocean, losing sight of his home. At times he was besieged by waves and storms; at times becalmed for weeks on end. At times the unknown ocean seemed like a strangely beautiful place; at times cruel and torrid, everything serving to taunt. At times his heart soared in hope that he would find a clue to the gift he sought; at times he sank into deep despair, and death seemed to be the only possible, even merciful release.

    Many times he set his sail, and many times he changed his course. At times, he came across seafarers and seekers just like himself; but what could one searching soul do for another, except bide each other fare well.

    It was all to no avail. Finally, he surrendered his search and lay motionless, spiritless, in the bottom of the skiff. Soon tiredness overcame him and he entered into a deep sleep.

    Though he was fast asleep, he awoke within himself.

    Within the boy a door opened, and he entered into a realm inside where the only present were himself and the Beautiful Existence that had created him; shining like a heavenly star in a firmament within – Life itself: Purpose, Plan, Love, Intelligence, Knowledge & Breath.

    He saw that everything was, is, and always would be created from the energy of Love.
    That the Masters throughout the Ages have always held the Key.
    That Time is not, that Space is not – at least not there!
    That all souls are one, and as nothing in the Light of the One.
    That within each personality dwells the soul (heart), and within each soul a spark from the fire of God!
    That Father and Son are as the Sun is to the Spark, hanging by the finest thread of Fire!
    That the call from the human heart is the golden Way!
    That the worldly mind, born in darkness, lives in darkness; and were it not for the grace of the Master, passes away.

    And he dedicated himself anew, to the BEAUTY who had created him, sent him out, and called him home. He saw one Life sustaining All. That some will seek and some will not, yet each are a seed, designed and patterned to break forth into the light of day. That practice makes perfect; and as hard as it is to leave illusion behind, it is incredibly beautiful to experience REALITY! And the Master stayed by his side.

    He awoke to a new feeling and knowledge within his heart, adrift beside his Island Home, holding a key to the door inside. He knew his thirst could be quenched again and again, and that the waters were infinitely kind. Learning more and more from his Master each day, experiencing the Fire within, in gratitude he began the great struggle to be free. To learn the dance of his heart, to watch his Master for cues, to help where his heart concurred, and his vision became clear.

    (4 Feb 1974)

    That my friends is my humble contribution and I believe, at least one teeny little piece of the puzzle!!!

  10. Oh – sorry about saying too much, but the bit about a new economic system as a religion of some kind: please could we not do that (been there, done that)?

    After 200,000 years on the road for Homo sapiens and the emergence of science and the humanities I really hope facts will suffice. And that we learn how to play nicely together; enjoy the chance we have to be alive! That can only happen when people feel content.

    Isn’t it just a game of scrabble: play the game, keep score, at the end of the day everything goes back in the box? Maybe add a new dimension so that words on the board actually have to mean something – together. That way everybody can win …!

    Fact I read last night: the earth is spinning at 1670 km/hr, and orbiting around the Sun at 107,219 km/hr; some think the galaxies are orbiting around a central point in the universe – we are moving, going somewhere at an incredible pace with nary a breeze stirring this morning! Thanks to Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo the earth centered universe changed forever – that woke everybody up a little bit …. like figuring out where the rain comes from and flat earth theory, am sure it is not the end of the surprises!

    I’d be happy if we could just turn the drama, fiasco and miasma volume down a bit on the journey; relax, enjoy the planet – even each other, although I know some people think it’s a jungle. (The jungle is in their head) …. I really will shut up now!

  11. There are visions of utopia in art and literature, even quite recent examples.

    I particularly like two. “The War of the End of the World”, by Mario Vargas Llosa and Roland Joffé’s 1986 movie “The Mission”.

    Both of them are about historical events, although I am not sure how accurately portrayed. For what’s worth, my personal experience about the northeast of Brazil, some thirty years ago, was largely consistent with Vargas Llosa’s description.

    Both examples are about small-scale popular initiatives, largely organized from below, around religious groups. In both of them there is a leadership, but its role is limited (I suppose I have some anarchist/left libertarian leanings).

    Perhaps Theology of Liberation could offer good pointers.

    In both there is a radical break with mainstream society. Unfortunately, both of them ended tragically.

    ———

    By the way, speaking of theology, I checked some of Robert H. Nelson’s writing. And I find his description of economics as a kind of religion of efficiency is partial, at best, and misleading at worst.

    It is mistaken because it assumes a kind of obsessive, but honest and well-meaning, fixation on growth and efficiency on the part of mainstream economists.

    Read this fragment from the emails of Fabrice Tourre’s (made public in 2010, during the shitty deal Senate inquiry on Goldman Sachs), to see what those people really think about “efficiency”:

    “Darling you should take a look at this article… Very thoughtful… More and more leverage in the system, l’edifice entier risque de s’effondrer a tout moment… Seul survivant potentiel [‘the whole building risks collapsing at any moment, the only potential survivor’, my translation], the fabulous Fab (as Mitch would kindly call me, even though there is nothing fabulous abt me, just kindness, altruism and deep love for some gorgeous and super-smart French girl in London), standing in the middle of all these complex, highly levered, exotic trades he created without necessarily understanding all the implications of those monstruosities [sic]!!! Anyway, not feeling too guilty about this, the real purpose of my job is to make capital markets more efficient and ultimately provide the US consumer with more efficient ways to leverage and finance himself, so there is a humble, noble and ethical reason for my job ;) amazing how good I am in convincing myself !!!”
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/7634658/Goldman-fraud-charges-emails-and-internal-reports-revealed.html

  12. By the way, speaking of theology, I checked some of Robert H. Nelson’s writing. And I find his description of economics as a kind of religion of efficiency is partial, at best, and misleading at worst. It is mistaken because it assumes a kind of obsessive, but honest and well-meaning, fixation on growth and efficiency on the part of mainstream economists.

    Quite similar to the way that ecclesiastical elites hypocritically exploited normative religions at various times to gain power and privilege, and to extract wealth. While it is true that Nelson doesn’t see this parallel, or at least fails to feature it, it is very clearly there.

    For instance, a recent at last week. See Matt Taibbi, “Glenn Hubbard, Leading Academic and Mitt Romney Advisor, Took $1200 an Hour to Be Countrywide’s Expert Witness,” Rolling Stone.
    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/glenn-hubbard-leading-academic-and-mitt-romney-advisor-took-1200-an-hour-to-be-countrywides-expert-witness-20121220#ixzz2GJRRQvmT

  13. Good food for thought, everyone! Keep it coming.

    It occurred to me that I also could have given some weight to the “how to advance” in Jim’s “how to advance to a better world”. For example, are there initial policies, social demands or changes that would help to get things moving in the right direction? Should change be gradual/reformist or radical/revolutionary?

    My own view on the latter question is that, individually, we wouldn’t have much say in that, but if a mass revolutionary movement emerged, it would be important to be able to present positive steps that could be taken.

    Is there a set of compatible social demands that could be mixed and matched, depending on social will, introduced either successively or all at once, depending on the circumstances?

    Feel free to comment on these or related issues in addition to the “better world” part.

  14. jrbarch: you are nowhere near close to saying too much. Nor is anyone else. All your comments are greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    Fact I read last night: the earth is spinning at 1670 km/hr, and orbiting around the Sun at 107,219 km/hr; some think the galaxies are orbiting around a central point in the universe – we are moving, going somewhere at an incredible pace with nary a breeze stirring this morning!

    No wonder the wind has picked up this afternoon!

  15. “Quite similar to the way that ecclesiastical elites hypocritically exploited normative religions at various times to gain power and privilege, and to extract wealth. While it is true that Nelson doesn’t see this parallel, or at least fails to feature it, it is very clearly there.”

    The hypocrisy of the ecclesiastical elites doesn’t make the myth of honest belief on “efficiency” and “growth” less of a myth.

    The belief in the desirability or even feasibility of unlimited growth, in the virtues of efficiency, is skin-deep, just a rationalization, an alibi: I am not responsible for swindling my customers and ruining everybody’s lives, I am just helping the market be efficient.

    No that different from “I was just following orders”. “The devil made me do it”. “She was asking for it”.

    For goodness’ sake, the guy confessed it: “there is a humble, noble and ethical reason for my job ;) amazing how good I am in convincing myself”.

    The myth that these people really believe in the desirability or even feasibility of unlimited growth, in the virtues of efficiency, makes them less responsible for their acts: “they may be obsessive, but they mean well”.

    My ass.

  16. Peter, I think that a “vision” implies a practical utopia. One needs to begin with an investigation of practical potential and work out from there.

    Marx, for one, realized that this is far more than merely an economic enterprise. It is deeply philosophical and needs to draw on ontology, epistemology, ethics, and social and political philosophy. Most tend to think of Marx as an economist, but in the history of thought he is regarded as a philosopher.

    Marx was not alone in this, of course. John Stuart Mill is an example on the liberal side. And, of course, this was central to the ancients, notably Plato and Aristotle, who influenced subsequent debate on these issues. Medieval Christian theologians like Aquinas adapted these ideas to a Christian context, as did the Islamic philosophers for Islam. Christianity and Islam account for almost half the world’s population, so this thinking cannot be dismissed in envisioning a peaceful and prosperous global village of the future.

    Most of the key issues are already on the table and have been debated. Since philosophy is speculative, many of the major questions remain unanswered. Without putting this on the table for debate, one is simply assuming one’s own worldview. There are many competing worldviews that have to be integrated in a functional social, political and economic system if freedom is taken a key fundamental.

    The advance over speculation comes from scientific progress that enables integrating speculative thought with philosophy of science, life science, and social science, that allows us to estimate, if not determine, what is possible and to distinguish the feasible from the infeasible.

    The social, political and economic vision quests of the past were set forth in utopian literature and experiments. Traditional utopian literature has been replaced today with science fiction aka space fiction. A good story has to be plausible. Instead of setting it in the distant future, it can be set in the immediate future in terms of advances available that are not now being implemented.

    There has also be a lot of experimentation, too, especially since the Sixties, and there many experimental models out there. I find it interesting that many of the most rabid anti-communist and anti-socialist voices are fine with Israeli kibbutz movement, a successful experiment tested over many years.

    The criticism of some social scientists is that socially, politically, and economically we are still living in an 18th or 19th century world and haven’t even made it into the 20th century, let alone the 21st. For example, an old friend of mine who is a theoretical physicist ran for president some years ago, like Warren Mosler, to advance the debate in terms of available knowledge. His candidacy gave him time and access, and he was able to discuss the application of scientifically tested knowledge to policy. He said that by and large he met with agreement from politicians of both parties, who also said that the public was not ready to hear such ideas and that taking a scientific approach would be politically suicidal for them.

  17. “All the world’s a stage” [William Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’, spoken by the melancholy Jaques in Act II Scene VII]

    You know, for people who know how to feel, they find their way to an understanding of the reality of contentment a whole lot quicker than those poor souls who in general, are caught up in thought. I know this stands the usual perception of achievement and excellence, prowess on its head – but I cannot help the way that it is. (IDDI) – I didn’t do it! Using mind only is the equivalent of using one arm to swim or one leg to walk. The trajectory is a circle that can spiral down into pure tragedy, or up into pure fantasy. Today, we do both. Only feeling in my understanding can provide a conduit to reality, anchor and allow mind to function as it should as discriminator (knower) between facts and fiction. That in itself is a pretty huge statement to make in today’s world. Thinkers need to be invited, concept by concept to the well where they can peer into their own depths, look at the bucket and decide whether or not they are thirsty. People who operate through feeling know they are thirsty, and can smell pure fresh life-giving water – there is nothing to think about. Understanding follows experience. People that know how to feel do not in general frequent economic blogs – they are just too busy enjoying themselves I suspect; whereas people that know how to think seem to get a special delight in tortured study and glacial movements towards highly idealised goals, unfortunately ever destined to become tainted or recede.

    B.C.

    Basically, the appearance on the outside at least, is that we have a world ruled in this (our Time) by rentiers backed up by the military with government paid off; war and intermissions of war or their financial equivalent imposed as suits, the whole fairy-tale seeped in fiction; having real overall negative implications for the rest of us? In a nutshell, Greed is rampant. It doesn’t matter what colour you choose to hang your curtains Persephone! In such a world it is said, only a fool would want to talk about contentment!

    Being such a fool who loves to play with concepts with child-like delight (meaning we generally take everything way too seriously): very few people see straight through everything that goes on in this world and calls it for what it is: a superficial PLAY (Lila – excepting in the mainstream Shakespeare who understood plays very well) – among these only a handful see the reality of the Breath that underpins our existence. Shakespeare we laud as being beautifully poetic, but not for one moment entertain he was talking straight reality. I mean: everything that goes on in front of our eyes is a play (I call it a bubble being partial to financial terminology)? Not the usual footnote pencilled in to the research notes.

    So, take a walk down the terminally ill aisle of your local hospital. Look deeply honestly openly into the eyes of your fellow (wo) man, lined up waiting to depart this life. There is no pretence and very little arrogance. Down along that aisle you will find Marxists and capitalists, investors and workers, predators and humanitarians, priests and doctors, mothers fathers and children. The eyes as they say when the curtains are drawn are ‘windows to the soul’. Who will read and speak out aloud what is written there? Do you think you will be able to interest the investor in the next ‘window of opportunity’ or the philosopher a ‘noble conception’? I don’t think so – there is just too much of reality going on! The Breath is coming and going, coming and going – soon it will arrive for one last time, and go, and be gone – forever. Is it not funny to think that your whole existence depended on something so simple? I have walked that aisle and seen empty shells: hearts that are absolutely empty, minds confused. Forgetting the trust they had in life as a child (knowing how to feel). That aisle stretches to the next hospital, and the next hospital, passing through every political, cultural and religious boundary around the globe unnoticed – no passport; into every corporation, every household, every government, every sanctuary. It passes to every birthing place where a little baby is born, emerging into the world to await the gift of Breath. Billions and billions of us coming and going in this world. That is our sovereign reality. That is our existence.

    And yet we are so caught up in the play, nobody knows squat about existence. I think a human being is real. I think that 6.7 x 10 to the power of 27 atoms which come together so fortuitously to create a human being and human consciousness is real. I think the Energy that drives every atom in the Universe is real. I think the experience of that Energy is the most beautiful thing that any human being can ever experience. I think what we do with our consciousness on the outside is just a play. In terms of the universe, it is not even a blink of the eye – then it is gone! I think we should know how to add up on the outside and turn within to experience Reality on the inside. I think if I want to get real, go back to nature and all of the rest of it – I have to start with my own existence. A human being is a door. I do not want to leave this world empty – I want a heart that is full of gratitude. I want to be able to dance (on the inside – I’m really awkward on the outside)! That is my assessment.

    To me, this is what education should be all about. Fulfil your heart first! After that you can sit in a wet jungle and study chimpanzees for forty years if you want to (but you shouldn’t bother them)! From each heart comes the call to be content. There is no greater ascent that can be made. To discover who you are, what it means to be human – not by somebody’s definition – but in your own existence, just the way that you are. To discover what you hold inside.

    From the moment we awaken we are caught up in trauma, miasma, and fiasco: the politics, the economics, the religions and spirituality; education, health, art, organisations, aspirations, relationships, dreams and crime! We wander around and wonder around in this chaotic world of human creation looking for some thread of reality upon which we can at least fly a kite. Like worker bees or ants, we serve the bubble.

    We are proud haughty and arrogant, mesmerised by the bubble, totally dedicated to its existence and preservation (even swearing allegiance to the point of laying down the only possession that we have – a 25,550 days on average chance to be alive, to exist). What a waste of existence is conflict!!! We are inordinately proud of the roles that we have and work and work and work and study really hard in order to earn the right to play a ‘meaningful role’ within the bubble (assigning special roles to ‘special people’ who create hierarchies in accordance with the latest bubble ideology that somehow favour themselves – who in the end and in reality are simply aggregations of atoms just like all of the rest of us). Dust to dust dear priest and highness. The recognition we lust for, the learning we delight to exhibit about bubble lore and philosophy, the so-called ‘power’ we wield (it’s really just bullying); even the number of people we bother (and other dubious status markers) roll around in our little bubble heads – of course if Haley’s comet were on a collision course with this earth everybody would run around with their craniums cradled under their armpits and bubbles blowing out of where the sun don’t shine. Why are we so inordinately proud of our creation, even though in truth it is absolutely horrible and inhumane in so many ways?

    The blinkers have to come off, and unfortunately this rarely happens until the very last few breaths – then existence matters!! Then the bubble is popped! Then it is too late ….

    But we ignore and so we are ignorant. We are busy, like the spider spinning and working on the bubble, hoping to catch a fly – then we get caught up in our web and cry!

  18. “Get thee to a nunnery…” [William Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’, spoken to Ophelia in Act III Scene I]

    So there’s always that. I don’t KNOW either. You started.

  19. jrbarch, great stuff, as always.

    Only feeling in my understanding can provide a conduit to reality, anchor and allow mind to function as it should as discriminator (knower) between facts and fiction. That in itself is a pretty huge statement to make in today’s world.

    This is how I generally approach life. I do often start from a spark of feeling or intuition then apply thought (including attempted verification, correction, logic, etc.) and action (or inaction) on that basis. Or I apply thought until hitting a wall, getting beyond which requires another spark of feeling to which thought can be applied, etc. It is how to compose music or write a novel with any hint of freshness, have a “new” breakthrough in understanding, be passionate about anything.

    People that know how to feel do not in general frequent economic blogs – they are just too busy enjoying themselves I suspect; whereas people that know how to think seem to get a special delight in tortured study and glacial movements towards highly idealised goals, unfortunately ever destined to become tainted or recede.

    Here at heteconomist we try to cater for the contented. :-)

    I also try to show how the fulfillment of the less contented could be given a help along if the economic system or at least economic policy were made more contentment-friendly.

    The approaches that interest me are open.

    The idea with the Job Or Income Guarantee (JIG) is not that it would in itself create utopia, but that it would free people (to an extent) to shape their own lives and find their own contentment. Anyone could choose to opt out of the wage labor relation, but nobody would be prevented from a more materialistic course if they desired, and nobody would be denied employment in the wage labor relation if they wanted it. There would be enormous scope for society and the economy to evolve in many different ways from that base.

    In my more recent post, the idea was to place upon such a base (or a similar one) the capacity for activity within a particular domain (the market for some consumption items) to be enabled automatically in response to individual demand for its output in a context of equally distributed purchasing power. That does, of course, place more limits (e.g. there would be no private saving, privately appropriated rent, or wealth accumulation in the government’s currency). But even here, the policy suggestions (e.g., JIG? free housing? free education? free health care? equally distributed purchasing power? etc.) are not all or nothing in nature. We would be free to accept or reject any one of those components without this decision precluding our acceptance or rejection of the others. The basic idea is also very open when it comes to how activity would self-organize or be organized outside the market for consumption items.

    With all these suggestions, the motive is to give individuals freedom to act in accordance with their own priorities. Unlike the present, nobody would be under economic compulsion to take employment at odds with their principles or preferences. They would have more freedom to shape their own lives and find their own contentment.

    That’s not to deny that a person can find contentment in the direst of circumstances. But it doesn’t have to be that way, and that person’s dire circumstance is an indictment on the rest of us.

  20. I often wonder peterc! On the inside a human being is simple. Existence is actually very very simple. On the outside, this simplicity is sheathed in a human persona. How best to feed it – and clothe, shelter, educate, maintain health, socialise, iron out what is wrong with the whole species is beyond me – I have a hard enough time just being me! That’s why I read heteconomist, looking for clues! I watched ‘Life of Pi’ last night – at least on my little boat there is just me and what is inside of me: I am responsible for the course I set. The ocean is the ocean (this world). Because my destination, every day, is within – I think where I go to on the outside is called ‘serendipity’. I feel my way. This business of establishing a harmony/harmlessness on the outside between personas is an interesting dilemma. As you know I think contentment on the inside is a primary factor? Economics (aka learning how to share) is definitely social; government – well the word means to steer. It’s quite unnatural and weird the way Europe and perhaps the US are being steered over a cliff? I like nature: for me, the persona that is connected to the feeling within (Tom’s ‘oceanic peace’) is connected to ‘Intelligence'; if that intelligence is able to organise the mind-stuff into patterns of clear thinking, then that is what I would call ‘Intellect’ – the power to discriminate between facts and fiction. If one uses intellect to program some logical flow then that is creative work.

    I liked your description of creativity; especially the bit about treating it like a painting or piece of music written as it comes, over the time that it takes to arrive. Someone wrote that Beethoven (who was deaf) heard his symphonies on the inside, all at once – then had to write it down in lineal fashion! There seems to be a definite process in creativity. Creativity also builds a bridge back to you. For me there is vision: then the ideas arrive and you knit the ones that belong together; a blueprint emerges. Then the trickiest bit is in the building (writing, drawing, dance etc.), staying faithful to the plan, keeping the vision firmly in mind. A lot of good vision gets lost in the chatter and hubris of the world. You chip away at the lump of stone until the statue appears taking away everything that is not. There’s another reason I read heteconomist! There is something emerging in the body of your work peterc and it is interesting. Ditto for anybody’s comments really if you collect them up

  21. Are ‘better human beings’ the best solution, even a prerequisite, to a better world?:
    Prem Rawat: Buenos Aires, Argentina on April 24, 2011

    Standard Definition (SD 360p – 1.1 GB, $9.99), High Definition (HD 720p – 1.5 GB, $11.99) and Audio (MP3 – 81.8 MB, $3.99) versions available. Duration: 59′ 33”

    39 sec. promo available here: Promo

    Sorry I can’t provide it freely but it is materials at cost. It also represents the best vision I know of on planet earth that has the most real potential (imho!) – for the price of a coffee and sandwich. Thought it should be included in this post.

    “When I say peace, I mean the peace that exists in the heart of every human being. When I say the word truth, I don’t mean some word buried on some page”.

    The emphasis is on you, knowing for yourself – not words, theories or belief ….

  22. Hi peterc,

    Have read through the ‘Posts to read first’ articles and am continuing selectively around your blog: among the MMT theorists your writing stands out in its clarity, simplicity and humanity (with just the right amount of humour, music and footy fanaticism thrown in)! I think both you and Tom Hickey add much needed colour and outline to MMT, and detail. I think much more is needed from many others to bring the subject alive to people. I wonder if Tom posts his own articles somewhere …?

    My basic interest is a human being.

    We seem to study clouds and trees and stars with rigorous intent and are fascinated with the interconnectedness of ants and molds with whole forests and ecosystems, but just seem too busy to look at a human being. I don’t quite know how to express this: imagine a group of animals (lions, tigers, giraffes, elephants etc.) parading down a street somewhere – but dressed in really weird costumes and putting on silly airs and graces. We would say: ‘you dumb animals – please return to your nature – you look ridiculous. Please get out of your ego (phantasies) right now and go back to being who you are’. We look at little kids dressing up in adult clothes, acting out their imaginations in a similar way and laugh. I wish we could somehow look at ourselves like that. We are not used to looking at human beings as a part of nature and have lost sight of what it means to be ‘natural’. We are so caught up in the world we have created for ourselves we have no idea of the world in which we are a natural part; and we are so caught up in acting out our roles in this overlay (what we ‘do’ – the human drama) we have no idea of our own nature. Perhaps in little kids it is still evident. It is certainly evident in a little baby and makes us smile tenderly. Human nakedness scares the bejesus out of most of us (probably because people who do go naked are not automatically natural)! Even the G.O.D. that we fight about is the one(s) we have created for ourselves.

    All that we do leads us further and further away from our simple reality. That is my first concern.

    For the life of me, I cannot see how we can establish a sane political, economic or social system unless we can understand our own reality? Or on an individual level, enjoy to the full our own existence? It’s not the things that we do is the root problem; it’s the fact that we do them unconsciously. Unconsciousness is our predicament. But unconsciousness of what?

    Everything is as a veil woven over and over and over; thicker, more distracting, more complex, more entanglement down throughout the millennia. Nor are we what goes on all day long in that stressed out little bubble we call mind. We are more than all of our rights and wrongs, ups and downs, ins and outs, hopes fears ambitions and circumstances – the things that happen to us and the things that we do. We are more than our nationality, rationality, culture, learning or relations. We are so much more than what we ‘do’ or think. We ‘journey’ through life from birth to death, and I am afraid to say (because I know people find it confronting when it is pointed out) – for most of us, when we depart this world – we have no idea why we came, who we actually are, what we were supposed to do with our existence; what it was all about. Like Alexandra the Great we may ‘conquer’, have Halls full of Statues of our accomplishments – but leave empty handed. All of our learning resolved back into dust. There is just the everyday drama and fiasco going on and on and on. ‘History’. Some of us dabble with the madness of it all and ‘try and make a difference’. This is what I would like to see change.

    My basic insight about a human being is that we are all driven by the desire to be content: and that there is nothing in the entire universe can quench that desire on the outside. This is our most fundamental essence: – fulfilment of this thirst our most sovereign reality. This, to me, is a human being …

    And yet life as we live it on this planet (some kind of blind mass search, groping for something better whilst on a diet of magic mushrooms, tragedy & comedy) – is spent every waking moment trying to do exactly that! Everything we do on the outside and I mean absolutely everything whether it is political, economic, social or individually – is so that we can feel fulfilled in some way. And yet by design, fulfilment can only be had by turning inside.

    Hello!

    Anybody home …..?

    Get the pattern here …..?

    What we seek is within. It’s not like it hasn’t been pointed out before, again and again, millennia after millennia … Tom mentions perennial wisdom and everybody says nothing: goes back to eating their sandwich!

    After 200,000 years of evolution I think if everybody on the planet actually understood this one fundamental fact: that we are designed for fulfilment and what we are looking for is within – know this beyond doubt, beyond explanations through their own experience – well, I think that would be bigger than the heliocentric view of the solar system or birth control. ‘Bigger even than the Beatles …’ I think that would truly change everything for human beings on this planet. I think peace would then be possible because peace is the reality that already exists, in every human heart.

    I think direction is important. I think attention is important. It sets energy flowing in a certain direction in all the right channels, and then things begin to happen.

    So, I just wanted to reiterate: after reading MMT authors I am so glad that there are people in this world who understand the simple reality of the monetary system; and they are making a tremendous effort to pass this understanding on to others. I applaud all of these people whole-heartedly because I know these are the people who will ‘make a difference’. To me, progressives are people who hold up a lamp to humanity in their chosen field and selflessly ‘light the way’ towards a realisation, an evolution in our own humanity. For me the human being is the goal and the journey. What is within us the prize that everyone can win! We are more than animals and we are more than mind. I really think people need to be free of capital enslavement. Anything that holds back the human heart from fulfilment is a ‘crime against humanity’ in my book. I think human beings deserve more than to just live out a banal existence bound to the wheel. I really think people need their dignity, peace and prosperity. But I also think that there is a major piece missing from the jigsaw puzzle of human existence, and this piece lies within us all. I really think that until this piece is known, restored to us all, everything we try to do on the outside will be more or less a dog’s breakfast. This little piece is a key to all of the others. This little piece resides in the heart of a human being and not the mind. That is the tricky bit! It is accessible only through the power of feeling. We all know how to feel but just need some simple tuition on how to feel the most fundamental thing! The thing that makes a baby smile! I think we need to look at the human being in the same way we look at an ant or an atom (or anything else in nature). We need to understand our own nature first; get clear about what it means to be human; to exist; to have been given this beautiful gift of life. How to fulfil our heart!

    What is within us is our most fundamental reality. It is not a theory or a philosophy, a religion dream or wishful thinking: it is a reality! We need to know that reality – just as it is. Experience for ourselves, the way it is, within us! No parade of costumes and acting out necessary.

    I think that when human beings can make that little switch; turn around and look within for their fulfilment – a huge tide of energy will flow in an entirely different direction. I think that is the missing piece that will unify all progressive movements on the outside. And people will understand that there is a progressive ‘movement’ on the inside (Kabir’s swing)! There is evolution on the inside as well as evolution on the outside. I think we are living in an age when it is happening, right now. We just need to open our eyes a little and see!

    Many thanks for teaching and clarifying to me many aspects of MMT and Marxism peterc – please don’t stop!!

  23. “For the life of me, I cannot see how we can establish a sane political, economic or social system unless we can understand our own reality? Or on an individual level, enjoy to the full our own existence? It’s not the things that we do is the root problem; it’s the fact that we do them unconsciously. Unconsciousness is our predicament. But unconsciousness of what?”

    Exactly. As Meher Baba points out in God Speaks, the journey of evolution is from unconsciousness to full consciousness. Individuals are each somewhere along this range, and groups exhibit levels of collective consciousness based on the predominant level of awareness. No one and no group is capable of functioning above their level of consciousness. Consciousness is naturally evolving, but that process is painstakingly slow. It is possible to step us the velocity (increase speed in the right direction) through self-cultivation and following enlightened guidance.

  24. Beautiful comment, jrbarch, even by your high standards!

    I don’t qualify as an MMT theorist. I am just a hobbyist. My objective with the blog is to help — along with others — to share insights that became clear to me thanks to the work of the MMTers, and also the work of Marx, Kalecki, Keynes, and modern Marx and Keynes influenced economists, a rather wide-ranging group.

    I very much agree with your point that to know what we want, we need to understand ourselves, and that requires going inward. Economics can’t solve that problem, but I do think economic policy can help to make life more conducive to self-exploration. I am especially interested in progressive reforms that enhance the freedom of all individuals to follow their own paths. I regard the JIG as one such policy. By guaranteeing basic economic security on the terms most preferred by each individual (whether within or outside the wage labor relation), greater opportunity is provided for self and life discovery.

    But, alternatively, a job guarantee would also be an improvement on the current situation. It would guarantee income and, by design, allow each individual to choose his or her hours, including half-time, quarter-time, etc., and free time for non-material pursuits if so desired.

  25. “…. and free time for non-material pursuits if so desired.”

    It always blows me out how creative humans are. Over the millennia our creativity is the one attribute that makes me gasp at the potential of human beings.

    The best thing about creativity is that it really puts a person in touch with themselves. It builds inner bridges – the ‘rainbow bridge’ as I have seen it described – a bi-directional pathway to and from the self. This for me allows that inner energy to flow and be recognised as a distinctive feeling (the first inner sense awakens)!

    The other aspect of this of course is that in a hundred years time, most of the modern world will be in a museum. Hope is our shield!

    I think nature is on everybody’s side because sooner or later we will tire of using our creativity to eat dust! In my life, creativity has meant for me, looking within and seeing an inner process taking place over the years, and enjoying that energy as it flows within; digs a hole, opens up a space within. One of its names is peace! One of its gifts is gratitude. A heart full of gratitude is absolutely priceless on my little balance sheet!

  26. Thinking about creativity and Marx’s capitalism containing the seeds of its own destruction (not happened yet)!

    I think this ties in neatly with the ‘evolution’ of the persona.

    There is a process attached to the persona involving the ‘I’ (the personal self). [Esoteric Psychology I & II, Tibetan, A.A. Bailey]

    First of all, each persona is absolutely unique. Secondly, each persona seems to be in a different state of evolution, consciousness focused predominantly physically, emotionally, mentally: – or in the heart (soul) and spirit (Breath) – each focus at different states of unfoldment. This is where the ‘I’ identifies.
    Sometimes I imagine the ‘I’ as being subject to low and high pressures cells, formed from out of its own atmosphere: when everything is going our way we feel expansive and rising, when it is not ponderous and depressive.

    As the ‘I’ unfolds it gathers to itself different capabilities (physical control, emotional control, mental control, depth of universal feeling, and awareness of the Breath). For a long time it is selfish and self-centred, necessarily so to develop capability. Eventually the persona is perfected in some field but it wants more. Having failed to fulfil the ‘I’ selfishly it turns to other ‘I’s – perhaps it can fulfil itself by helping others? A humanitarian is born. But it is still the ‘I’ doing service.

    Then comes a very difficult period as the realisation dawns that this is not going to work either – the ‘I’ is still unfulfilled and yet there is a recognition that service is a good thing – how can there be ‘selfless service’? How can the ‘I’ be truly fulfilled? How is human potential realised?

    Then, through some inexplicable fortune, the heart begins to be felt as an entity within – when the consciousness is focused and steady in that ‘soul-self’ within, then the ‘I’ is seen as just a ‘modification of the vrittis (mindstuff)’ without [Patanjali]. It is discounted, bypassed – but retained operationally until death restores the persona back to its constituents. When the heart acts it is always service and it is always selfless. When the heart deepens in feeling, and looks above – the Breath becomes known. The experience is carried back down to the persona through the channels that have been created. Certainty is born!

    So, this is creativity on the inside; the reason why there is so much energy invested in capitalism on the outside, and why capitalism one day will burn out as a selfish pursuit? Could take a while.

    I think the Buddha had it sorted:

    … that we must not believe in a thing said merely because it is said; nor traditions because they have been handed down from antiquity; nor rumours, as such; nor writings by sages, because sages wrote them; nor fancies that we may suspect to have been inspired in us by a Deva (that is, in presumed spiritual inspiration); nor from inferences drawn from some haphazard assumption we may have made; nor because of what seems an analogical necessity; nor on the mere authority of our teachers or masters. But we are to believe when the writing, doctrine, or saying is corroborated by our own reason and consciousness. “For this,” says he in concluding, “I taught you not to believe merely because you have heard, but when you believed of your consciousness, then to act accordingly and abundantly.”

    Includes YouTube and the www I guess! And the murmurings of one jrbarch!!

    What does this mean practically for me in my life?

    To let my heart be the judge. To let my consciousness be my measure, for better or worse. To have faith in myself because I am the one singular reality in this entire Universe that is actually mine, and should trust. To realise that I carry within me everything that I need. To understand and then realise that the company that I seek and long for is already within, and will fill my heart with gratitude and peace. Mostly it means to trust myself! To enjoy my existence for as long as it lasts. To look within.

    Other than that, all walk alone. I cannot give anyone gifts of any kind, help them in any way, create a hierarchy on the inside that everybody should salute, or give reason to grow – each must take their own steps in their own life because they want to. I can share on the outside. All the ‘I’s’ in the world can get together and have a big party if they want to – it doesn’t change anything. Yes, we should cooperate out of love and respect for one another, but that love and respect should come from the heart – not the ‘I’.

    The feeling that emerges from the heart can be felt by anybody (no matter what the ‘I’ is up to) – that is my experience!

    Trust nobody else – you are just setting yourself and other person(s) up for failure by doing so. Trust your own heart because it has never ever let you down and has always had your best interests in focus. Each must stand on their own two feet and walk their life (we try to lean on so many different things). Find their own truth in their own consciousness. Measure everything under Fire, in the crucible of your own consciousness. Burn it and burn it down to its essence. Love is an energy that emerges from within and is meant to rise to its Source, also within and above; not get caught up on something or someone on the outside. When it flows freely to itself it will return to you and then freely out into the world (service). You will still love your kids, but with your heart and not so much the atmospheric ‘I’.

    As for the heart there is a little saying (I think Kabir): ‘a rock can be immersed in a stream for a thousand years, but take it out and place it in the sun and it will be dry in five minutes’. Keeping the consciousness immersed in the stream emerging from the heart is an incredible discipline – for so long it has identified only with the ‘I’.

    No one’s existence is hidden under some rock somewhere!

    The way to go within has always been taught by someone with that particular gift! Prem Rawat taught me – but if you are not comfortable look further – the important thing is to know! In the existence and the consciousness that you have – asap!!

  27. Oeconomus

    Latin oeconomus, from ancient Greek oikonomikós: equivalent to oikonóm (os) ‘steward’ oîko (s) ‘house’ + nómos ‘law, rule’. Composed, when taken globally as – stewardship of the household of the planet, in accordance with Law.

    I. What you need v. what you want: human Nature & systems

    It always strikes me as significant, when reading about human systems: – the focus is on the systems themselves, and hardly any attention is given to the people (the engine) that create it.

    People point to a building and are full of praise: but you know, the architect who created the building, or the team that worked with her/him, are in truth many orders of magnitude more incredible than the building could ever be – and carry far more potential. Each human being is unique, and a miracle in themselves, if only we had the eyes to see it and the intelligence awakened to understand it. Besides, even a tree is far more beautiful, practical and intricate a structure, than any building on this earth. A lot of analysis is based purely in ego and pride (and concepts)! Images of ourselves: – VIP’s and oh so dramatic actors on the face of this earth (not that the ‘I’ goes unused by the evolutionary impulse).

    For me, the mark of a true artist is evident in a Beethoven: he ‘listened’, and then he wrote it down. Something within him did the creation, and hopefully, he didn’t take much credit for anything other than the transcription! It was his privilege and joy to write it down.

    One piece of evidence apposite to ignoring human potential leapt out recently, when reading of the purported ‘five personality traits recognised in Western psychology’:

    Openness
    Conscientiousness
    Extraversion
    Agreeableness
    Neuroticism

    How inattentive the view, is my immediate thought. How little recognition in these ‘traits’ of the overarching role played by human nature; or the evolutionary status of the human persona – ultimately conditioning, nay originating and subtending every system we have. I wish to bring human nature forward, and back into focus in its rightful place as foreground, and relegate the ‘building’, the human system to the background where it belongs; as just an aspect of us, entirely dependent upon our consciousness. Just think of it as orientating ourselves in Time!

    I don’t know how to put this insight into words in one way, because I know how inadequate words are in expressing something that really arises from the soul of a human being. The closest (and probably most misused) word that popular conception has to the idea of a human soul is in the word ‘heart’. What we ‘see’ and ‘know in our heart’. To feel the longing that comes from the heart – our most profound and deepest feeling, capable of sweeping up our entire being and suspending it in time and space – is far different to the thoughts swimming around in the mind, or the emotional colour oscillating through . And yet, in the ‘heart’ there is far more than just sentiency and an inexplicable form of ‘knowing’, of experience, bypassing intellection. People confuse and conflate the heart, with the mind and the ‘I’. There is something within each and every one of us that views our cities, our cultures and civilisations, our relationships, the busy frenetic life of today, our pride in our knowledge and technology – as if it is little more than a whirling mist on the landscape of Time – by which we are so haphazardly, and often unhappily, hypnotised, brain-washed, caged, and caught up.

    From this enigmatic point in consciousness, each impassioned debate among the thousands that exist on this earth (in endless succession) desperate to inform our lives and the direction of the societies we create, appear in much the same light as the imaginations of children at play appear to an adult. I am not meaning to be disparaging or judgemental. I wish only to state a truth that is within us all. This point of view exists quietly, within many; and certainly among the discussants. Who has the courage to explore it? To dive in and seek the true nature of the human soul. We are much more comfortable with ‘home truths’ are we not? Is this why we love to play with our systems so much? The rational and pragmatic man ….

    It matters not whether this point in consciousness is hypothesised as a chemically induced construct of the human brain, or indicating the possibility of some sort of entity as an attribute of mind, or accepted as a thinking and sentient ‘soul’ that informs the human personality. There is a part of us that will recognise the basic nature of ‘being’ no matter how conceived. None doubt that they exist. As I recognise this entity as something that informs the human personality, I will use synonymously the words soul, heart, perhaps sometimes energy (in context), and Consciousness.

    I wish to add my little droplet of testimony to the grand ocean of human history that the Self of man can exist beyond the human personality. Today I see opportunity exists, more than ever before, for knowledge of the Self and the Spark that animates it, to become for many their new Age! Their rebirth! And this, without any requirement for spirituality, religion or philosophy; or for that matter any of the pursuits of the personality: these are given their rightful place as interests of the lower mind, distinct from the realm of the heart.

    The soul in a human being has one singular focus, and that is self-knowledge. It wants to contact the persona and it wants the persona to contact it. It knows there is a hiatus and it knows it needs to be bridged. It knows when bridged, persona and soul function as one unit. It knows there is no other game being played out on the face of this earth. It knows that to the persona, there appear as many games as there are human beings! It knows that once contact has been made, the role of the persona, the thoughts that the persona will entertain in its mind, will change forever! It knows that all souls in the end are a part of the One Great Soul. It knows that the affairs of the persona change dramatically, once it is conscious of the soul within; that group activity will strengthen and become far more harmonious in the world of the personality, as souls manifest the inner contact they have in the Universe within to their personalities in the external world. A human persona is a door! In this view, extending the adaptive theories of the biologists, the tendency towards cooperation is the tendency to soul contact.

    Time has been slowed down for us all. Seventy laps (on average) around the Sun stretched out in Consciousness, maxed out to the limit; to become one lifetime of experience for each human being (but a fraction of a nanosecond on the Universal clock). During this tempestuous cyclic journey we live in a sea of concepts, passing endlessly in and out of our brains, lightening or darkening our minds. We live in an ocean of feelings, passed fluidly before the Consciousness, colouring everyday experience with an endless variety of hues and shades; and in a world of physical energies – vibrant one day and enervating the next, old age inevitably creeping on. Dust always, recycled to dust.

    There a millions and millions of thoughts in this world and we are such ardent devotees of our chosen few. We love to knit them together, weaving a veil of ideals, a plan and a purpose. We hold up this veil to Nature, to our systems, our society, to ourselves; even to Deity itself – and we hope that our veil will reveal more than obscure. In everything we create in this world we are mirrored, yet avoid looking honestly in the mirror to ask what it tells us about ourselves. Oftentimes we are enamoured of the veil and see little else. We wish to understand; make our creations and enterprises in the world a little better; to leave a legacy. We wish to discover and uncover truth. Through experience we know that warring veils somehow materialise and result in a whirlpool and maelstrom in the real world, leaving devastation of the natural world in the warzone, blasting those caught out into oblivion, institutionalising chaos for years to come. Why like Icarus, do we crash and burn?

  28. II. Groupings within the human family

    I would like to turn momentarily towards the East, and expose to you a far grander conception of the human personality, and explain why just a little understanding of its reality and development can make all of the difference in understanding what happens every day in the external world. Why it is absolutely necessary to look at human beings first!

    Perhaps one day, our scientists and psychologists, building on the record of genuine mediums in human history, will find a way to record the survival of the human consciousness after the physical body has been dropped; the etheric, astral and mental bodies discarded, and the capabilities of the soul, standing free in the causal body (higher mental body) will become common medical knowledge. With recognition of the soul as a center of consciousness and the bodies as a center of experience, the foundation for future psychological investigations will be laid. Then the training of the human personality as an instrument of contact with this center of consciousness, and the center of consciousness as an instrument of contact with the Divine Spark that Lights it, will see the education and other systems orientated more towards natural and real human potential. The soul, beyond the causal body is ‘formless’ in the sense of forms on the lower planes, and one does not go too far astray in thinking of it in terms of light, energy, intelligence, sentiency, love and wisdom, Consciousness; aspects of a pillar of Breath, the Living Will and Divine Spirit.

    If you prefer the current scientific view, that human self-consciousness somehow precipitates in a ‘mind’, exuded mysteriously, like some uncanny and wonderfully fortuitous ‘vapour’ – from the most auspicious and enigmatic combinations of atoms and molecules in the whole universe (according to our pride) – resulting in ‘ta da t’ da t’ da’ the incomparable (turn on the neon lights) “Human Brain”: still, what can be said about the human persona and the hypothesised soul is not without human experience. And if it took billions and billions of years to evolve this crown of creation, the human brain – why do people wash it out with alcohol? No matter how construed, with self-awareness comes responsibility, in that we become responsible for our own evolution to a greater degree. Our goals and our planning come from us. The intelligence we bring to their conception and execution our gift to ourselves. Of the economic, political and religious problems that beset humanity, the economic are the most pressing.

    There being little advantage in reworking the crystal clarity of my favourite Tibetan abbot [Esoteric Psychology I & II, A.A. Bailey, Lucis Trust] I would like to provide a very small window into human nature and these voluminous works, to elucidate my statement that the human being is largely overlooked. As above, it matters not whether the human qualities listed below are conceived as derivations of a soul in man or simply material atomic evolution and fortuity or something in-between; they will be recognised – and it is their role that is being examined. Terms such as ‘Path of Probation’ and ‘Discipleship’ and ‘Kingdom of God’ mentioned below, are drawn from the Christian lexicon for an intended audience (written in 1942); but I would ask you to think more in modern terms of energy, qualities of energy, evolution of energy, and a correlation between energy and Consciousness. It is Consciousness unfolding along natural paths in a natural environment within the world of the human personality and beyond, that I wish to create pictures of in your mind.

    This first list refers to soul groupings within the human family [II-203]:

    i. The souls who live but whose consciousness sleeps. These are the dormant human beings whose intelligence is of such a low order, and their awareness of themselves and of life is so dim and nebulous, that only the lowest forms of human existence come into this category. Racially, nationally, and tribally they do not exist as pure types, but occasionally such a person emerges in the slums of our great cities. They are like a “throw back” and never appear among what are called the natural savages, or the peasantry.

    ii. The souls who are simply aware of physical plane life and of sensation. These people are slow, inert, inarticulate, bewildered by their environment, but they are not bewildered, as are the more advanced and emotional types, by events. They have no sense of time or of purpose; they can seldom be trained along any mental line, and they very rarely exhibit skill in any direction. They can dig and carry, under direction; they eat, sleep and procreate, following the natural instincts of the animal body. Emotionally, however, they are asleep, and mentally they are totally unawakened. These too are relatively rare, though several thousands of them can be found upon our planet. They can be recognized through their complete incapacity to respond to emotional and mental training and culture.

    iii. The souls who are beginning to integrate and who are emotionally and psychically alive. In them, of course, the animal nature is awake and the desire nature is becoming rampant. These people are to be found in all races to a small extent, and a number of them can be found among the Negroes, which race contains a large number of those who are today relatively children.[1] These are child souls, and though the mental equipment is there and some of them can be trained to use it, the preponderance of the life emphasis is entirely upon physical activity as it is motivated by the desire for satisfaction of some kind, and by a shallow “wish-life” or desire nature, almost entirely oriented towards the physical life. These souls are the modern correspondences to the old Lemurian cultures.

    iv. The souls who are primarily emotional. The mind nature is not functioning strongly, and only rarely does it swing into activity, and the physical body is slipping steadily into the realm of the unconscious. In every race and nation there are millions of such souls in existence. They may be regarded as the modern Atlanteans.

    v. Those souls who can now be classed as intelligent human beings, capable of mental application, if trained, and showing that they can think when need arises. They are still, nevertheless, predominantly emotional. They constitute the bulk of modern humanity at this time. They are the average citizens of our modern world, – good, well-intentioned, capable of intense emotional activity, with the feeling nature almost over-developed, and oscillating between the life of the senses and that of the mind. They swing between the poles of experience. Their lives are spent in an astral turmoil, but they have steadily increasing interludes wherein the mind can momentarily make itself felt, and thus at need effect important decisions. These are the nice good people, who are, nevertheless, largely controlled by the mass consciousness, because they are relatively unthinking. They can be regimented and standardized with facility by orthodox religion and government, and are the “sheep” of the human family.

    vi. The souls who think, and who are minds. These are steadily increasing in number and gaining in power as our educational processes and our scientific discoveries bring results, and expand human awareness. They constitute the cream of the human family, and are the people who are achieving success in some department of human life. They are writers, artists, thinkers in various fields of human knowledge and aspiration, politicians, religious leaders, scientists, skilled workers and artisans, and all those who, though in the front rank, yet take ideas and propositions and work with them for the ultimate benefit of the human family. They are the world aspirants, and those who are beginning to get the ideal of service into their consciousness.

    vii. Those souls whose sense of awareness on the physical plane is now of such an order that they can pass on to the Probationary Path. They are the mystics, conscious of duality, torn between the pairs of opposites, but who are yet unable to rest until they are polarized in the soul. These are the sensitive, struggling people, who long for release from failure and from existence in the world today. Their mind natures are alive and active but they cannot yet control them as they should and the higher illumination remains as yet a joyous hope and final possibility.

    viii. Souls whose intelligence and love nature is becoming so awakened and integrated that they can begin to tread the Path of Discipleship. They are the practical mystics, or the occultists, of modern times.

    ix. The souls who are initiate into the mysteries of the kingdom of God. These are souls who are not only conscious of their vehicles of expression, the integrated personality, and conscious also of themselves as souls, but they know, past all controversy, that there is no such thing as “my soul and your soul,” but simply “the Soul”. They know this not only as a mental proposition, and as a sensed reality, but also as a fact in their own consciousness.

    x. The souls who have achieved release from all the limitations of the form nature and who dwell eternally in the consciousness of the One Soul, withdrawn from identification with any aspiration of the form life, no matter how highly developed. They can and do use the form at will for the purposes of the general good. These are the Masters of Life, the perfected adepts.

    [fn1] No racial undertone should be imported here. The Tibetan teaches that the soul in its long career has occupied both female and male vehicles, in all races, in all times – learning through experience. Groupings and the adaptive processes described below are applicable to all races.

  29. III. Adaptive Processes

    The next list describes the processes of adaption that allow the human family to create the needed capacity, to build the bridge between soul and personality [I-322]:

    In the human family, owing to the presence within the human physical form of a thinking entity, called by us the Soul, the procedure followed in order to produce conscious control is that of adaptation. All forms in the three lower subhuman kingdoms are also subjected to the process of adaptation, but that is a group adaptation to environment, whereas in humanity we have the adaptation of the individual to his environment. The person who works consciously and intelligently at adapting himself to that situation and those conditions in which he finds himself is relatively rare. Conscious adapting of oneself to circumstances is the result of evolutionary development. The stages by which man arrives at this capacity may be enumerated as follows:

    1. That unconscious adaptation to his environment of the man who is primarily an unintelligent animal. Low grade savages are in this class, and many purely agricultural peasants who have not been subjected to modern education. The man at this stage is little better than an animal and is governed entirely by instinct.

    2. An unconscious adaptation to environment carried on by the man who is beginning to evidence some faint flickers of mental perception. This is partly instinctual and is based on a growing self-love. There is more of the “I” consciousness in him, and rather less of group instinctual awareness. You find this growing self- realization in the low grade slum dwellers, for instance, and in the petty criminal who is instinctual enough and bright enough to live by his wits and to show quickness in reactions and deftness manually. It is the stage of animal cunning.

    3. A conscious and purely selfish adapting of oneself to the environment. In these cases, the man is definitely aware of his motives; they are consciously thought out and recognized, and the man makes “the best of his circumstances.” He forces himself to live as far as possible harmoniously in his surroundings. In this there is really good motive, but principally the man is governed by a desire for comfort – physical, emotional and mental – to such a degree that he will discipline himself into such a condition that he fits wherever he may be and can get on with anyone.

    4. From this stage on the differentiations become so numerous that they are difficult to follow, being mixtures of pure selfishness (developed often to the nth degree), of a growing recognition of the group, of an awakening realization of the right of other people to a similar degree of comfort and harmony, and of a steady effort to adapt conditions of character and personality life, so that the purely selfish interests do no real damage to others, until we arrive at…

    5. The average really good man who is struggling to adapt himself to his surroundings, to his group relations and responsibilities in such a way that some measure of love can be seen. I refer not here to that instinctual love for family and children and herd which men share in common with the animals and which often breaks down when the loved individuals assert themselves. The tie is not strong enough to hold, and the motive is too selfish to resist the pull. I refer to that motivated love which recognizes the rights of others and consciously strives to adapt itself to those recognized rights whilst tenaciously holding on to the rights of the personality.

    6. Then we have the work of adaptation as carried on by the aspirants of the world who are theoretically convinced of their group relation, of its paramount importance, and of the need of every personality to develop its powers to the fullest capacity in order to bring real value to the group and to serve adequately the group need. In true esotericism, there is no such motive as “killing the personality,” or of disciplining it to such an extent that it becomes a dead poor thing. The true motive is to train the threefold lower nature, the integrated personality, to the highest demonstration of its powers, latent or developing, in order that those powers may be brought to the helping of the group need, and the personality of the aspirant may be integrated into the group. Thereby the group life is enriched, the group potency is increased, and the group consciousness is enhanced.
    What is therefore to be seen going on in the life of the true aspirant today (his developing recognition of group responsibility) can also be seen going on in groups, in organizations and nations. Hence the many experiments. A process is going forward whereby these groups, large or small, are being subjected to a housecleaning, to a discarding of the rubbish of old and worn-out ideas, and to a period of disciplining and training which must precede all real group life. When this process is over, we shall have these groups approaching each other in a new and real spirit of cooperation, of religious fusion, and in an international attitude which will be new indeed. Then they will have something of a surer and greater value to offer to the whole. Within all these groups which are struggling towards this newer realization and integration, and which express what we might call “the sixth stage of adaptation,” are those who are already at the seventh stage.

    7. Here we have complete unselfish adaptation to the group need and purpose. Those who have reached this point in their evolution are decentralized as regards their own personality life. The focus of their mental attention is in the soul and in the world of souls. Their attention is not directed towards the personality at all, except in so far as is needed to force it to adhere to group or soul purpose. These servers who are expressions of soul radiance and attractive power are knowers of the Plan, and in every organization they constitute the new and slowly growing group of World Servers. In their hands lies the salvation of the world.

    8. The final group in this scale of adaptation is that of the higher initiates, the perfected Elder Brethren and Great Companions. They are perfectly adapted to Their personalities, to each other and to world conditions; but as a group They are learning how to adapt the forces of nature, the energies of the rays and the potencies of the zodiacal signs to the world need and the world demand in a practical manner and at any particular time. It is here that the work of the disciples of the world, and of the higher types of aspirants, proves helpful as a field of experiment, and it is in the new group of World Servers that the process of adaptation goes on.

    In summary of this process of adaption it might be stated that [II:321] –

    1. The physical nature becomes responsive to
    a. Desire,
    b. Ambition,
    c. Aspiration.

    The fusion of the sentient, astral body and the physical body then becomes complete.

    2. This basic duality then becomes responsive to
    a. The lower concrete mind,
    b. The separative impulses of the selfish mental body,
    c. The intellect, the synthesis of mind and instinct,
    d. The prompting of the soul.

    This produces an integration of the three energies which constitute the threefold lower man.

    3. This triplicity then becomes responsive to
    a. Itself, as an integrated personality. Then the rhythm set up by the fusion of the lower energies (the astral and the mental) becomes dominant.
    b. The Soul, as the fundamental center of experience. The personality gets a vision of its destiny, which is to be an instrument of a higher force.
    c. The intuition.
    d. The source of inspiration, the Monad.

    From the standpoint of psychology, this means that the glandular equipment, the physical apparatus, and the response instrument become increasingly efficient, whilst an inner coordination and integration proceeds apace. The dilemma of the psychologist today is largely due to the fact that the law of rebirth is not yet recognized scientifically or among the intelligentsia. He is therefore faced with the problems of the inequalities in the physical equipment, everywhere prevalent. There is a widespread failure to recognize the underlying cause which is responsible for the “appearance”, for the mechanism. There is, therefore, no scientific proof (as the word is understood at this time) of the field of experience. There is – in time and space – no synthesis (esoterically understood) permitted, but simply the isolated appearance of a human being, making up hosts of human beings, variously equipped, greatly limited by that equipment, and faced also with an environment which seems antagonistic, lacking inner synthesis, coordination and integration, except in the case of the highly intelligent and deeply spiritual people, those who are definitely functioning souls. For these latter, the average psychologist has no adequate explanation.

    The integration of an individual into his environment is proceeding apace, and the psychological adjustment of man to his field of experience will steadily improve. Upon this, humanity can count, and to this, the history of man’s development as a knowing being testifies. But the integration of the human being into time has not been accomplished and even this statement will be little understood. Man’s origin and his goal remain largely unconsidered, and he is studied from the angle of this one short life, and from the point of view of his present equipment. Until he is integrated into time as well as into his environment and until the Law of Rebirth is admitted as the most likely hypothesis, there will be no real understanding of the process of evolution, of the relationships of individuals, and the nature of the unfoldment of the equipment. There will be no true wisdom. Knowledge comes, as the individual integrates into his environment. Wisdom comes as he becomes coordinated into the processes of time. The mechanism is related to the environment, and is the apparatus of contact and the means through which the experiencing soul arrives at a full awareness of the field of knowledge. This soul is the identity which is time-conscious in the true sense of the word, and which views the period of manifestation as a whole, gaining thus a sense of proportion, an understanding of values and an inner sense of synthesis.

  30. IV. Summary

    Broadly generalising, we might say that human beings can be grouped into four classes [II-259]:

    1. A few who are under the influence of their souls, or who are rapidly becoming susceptible to this influence.

    2. Personalities, of whom there are many today.

    3. A vast number of people who are awakening to mental consciousness.

    4. The great mass of humanity, who are the unawakened human beings and the bulk of the population of the world.

    … and following personality types extant in the world today [II-263]:

    1. Personalities who are rapidly shifting into the category of “conditioning souls.”

    2. Personalities who are integrated, coordinated men and women, but who are not yet under the influence of the soul. Their “self-will and self-love” is such a powerful factor in their lives that they exert a determining influence upon their environment. It would be well to note the esoteric difference between conditioning and determining. The first leaves the subject (be it a man or a race, or a civilization) free. It simply provides the influence and the conditions wherein the best in the race can flower forth to a state of perfection. The second does not leave the subject free, but “determines” through the exercise of power, selfishly applied and utilized for personality ends, the way, that a person, a race, or a civilization shall go.

    3. Awakening personalities are also found. These merge with our third classification and are the cream or the best expression of the third group.

    It is with these personalities in their three groups that we are primarily to deal in this division of our treatise. The word, however, is very loosely used, and it might be of value to give here a list of definitions of the word “personality”, both those in common usage and those used in the true spiritual significance. It is of value (is it not?) if students know the many ways in which this word is used, both correctly and erroneously. Let us here list them:

    A personality is a separated human being. We could perhaps equally well say a separative human being. This is the poorest and most loosely used definition; it applies to common usage, and regards each human being as a person. This definition is consequently not true. Many people are simply animals with vague higher impulses, which remain simply impulses. There are those also who are primarily nothing more or less than mediums. This term is here used to apply to all those types of persons who go blindly and impotently upon their way, swayed by their lower and dense desire nature, of which the physical body is only the expression or medium. They are influenced by the mass consciousness, mass ideas, and mass reactions, and therefore find themselves quite incapable of being anything definitely self-initiated, but are standardized by mass complexes. They are, therefore, mediums with mass ideas; they are swept by urges which are imposed upon them by teachers and demagogues, and are receptive – without any thought or reasoning – to every school of thought (spiritual, occult, political, religious and philosophical). May I repeat that they are simply mediums; they are receptive to ideas which are not their own or self-achieved.

    A personality is one who functions with coordination, owing to his endowment and the relative stability of his emotional nature, and his sound and rounded out glandular equipment. This is aided by his urge to power and the proper environing conditions. The above situation can work out in any field of human endeavour, making a man either a good foreman in a factory or a dictator, according to his circumstances, his karma, and his opportunity. I am not here referring in any sense whatever to the desirable coordination of soul and body, which is a later development. I am simply postulating a good physical equipment, and a sound emotional control and mental development. It is possible to have a superlative inner development and yet have such a poor instrument on the physical plane that coordination is not possible. In such cases the subject seldom affects his environment in any permanent or powerful sense. He cannot bring through or radiate out his inner power because he is blocked at every point by his physical equipment. A man of much less inner development but with a responsive physical body and glands which are functioning well will frequently prove a more effective agent of influence in his environing circumstances.

    A personality is a man with a sense of destiny. Such a man has sufficient will power to subject his lower nature to such a discipline that he can fulfil the destiny of which he is subconsciously aware. These people fall into two groups:

    a. Those with no soul contact of any kind. Those people are urged forward to their destiny by a sense of power, by self-love, by exalted ambition, by a superiority complex, and by a determination to reach the top of their particular tree.

    b. Those with a small measure of soul contact. These are people whose methods and motives are therefore a mixture of selfishness and of spiritual vision. Their problem is a difficult one, as their measure of soul contact does bring in an inflow of force which stimulates the lower nature, even whilst increasing soul control. It is not, however, powerful enough to subordinate the lower nature entirely.

    A personality is a completely integrated human being. In this case, we have a man whose physical, emotional and mental natures can be fused and can subsequently function as one, and thus produce a mechanism which is subordinated to the will of the personality. This can take place with or without a definite soul contact, and it is at this stage that there comes a predisposition to the right, or to the left hand path. The coordination proceeds as follows:

    a. Coordination of the emotional or astral nature with the physical body. This took place in the racial sense in Atlantean times; it is going on today among the lower groupings in the human family. It should be the objective of the development of children from the ages of seven to fourteen.

    b. Coordination of the physical, astral and mental natures into one blended whole. This is taking place racially in the Aryan race today and the process will be completed (for the bulk of humanity) when the sun enters the zodiacal sign, Sagittarius, just as now it is entering Aquarius. This coordination is going on rapidly among the advanced members of the human family and should be the objective of the training of all adolescents between the ages of fourteen and twenty-one.

    c. Next, coordination is commenced between the soul and the personality, with the focus of the soul’s attention upon the astral or desire nature. This is the immediate task of the world aspirants at this time, and will be the goal of the next race succeeding to that of the Aryan.

    d. Coordination between soul, mind and brain to the exclusion of the body of illusion, the astral body. This is the peculiar goal of the world disciples.

    e. Coordination then has to be established between the soul, the purified personality and the Hierarchy. This is the goal of the initiates in the world at this time, and of all who are in preparation for the first, the second and the third initiations. This consummation is finally achieved at the Transfiguration initiation.

    f. Coordination between the soul, the personality and the spirit. This takes place via the Hierarchy of Souls – a phrase which only initiates can properly interpret and understand. This process is carried on after the third initiation.

    A man can be regarded as a personality in truth when the form aspect and the soul nature are at-one. When the soul influences the personality and pervades all the lower manifestation, then and only then, does the personality measure up to its true significance, which is to constitute the mask of the soul, that which is the outer appearance of inner spiritual forces. These forces are expressions of the soul, and the soul is the central identity or fundamental focus upon the mental plane of the life of God Himself. Essence, consciousness and appearance are the three aspects of divinity and of man; the personality, when fully developed, is the “appearance of God on earth.” Life, quality, and form is another way of expressing this same triplicity.
    These definitions have been made of a real simplicity and also exceedingly brief. Intricacy of definition does not necessarily ensure correctness, and the clear outlines of a truth are oft lost in a maze of words.

    Finally, I would like to add, the presence of the determining energies of the soul is always first felt in the heart. External effects are conditioning. This determining presence in known as Peace; it is an experience, arising within the heart – not a ceasefire in the external world which is simply conditional. For those who have followed this feeling to its source, it is an Entity!

    Everybody knows, fighting over minutiae in a system is not productive of anything; just as its ultimate expression, war, leads to a landscape that is barren, without life. Unfortunately, each discussant wants to be right! Each ‘I’ wants to prevail. It is a simple question to ask: how does quarrelling over minutiae in a system help - when a system can be anything you want it to be?

    For me, Government for a human being IS the soul.

    I do not know of one other entity on the face of this earth, to which (or whom), one should align oneself – (other than through it to the Divine above). You are the angel, come to save yourself. The soul has overshadowed and cared for each personality as an outpost of it-self, since man first individualised. If a little acorn seed can carry within it the blueprint of a whole tree and the possibility of countless acorn trees as a result, then it is not too much too much to expect to find within the soul (the ‘seed’ planted within the human personality) a blueprint for an evolution of Consciousness. We give our allegiance to so many things in this life, but no churchman, statesman, businessman, organisation or enterprise deserves allegiance as much as our soul. When all of these have led you, time and time again, out into the desert, the soul has persisted and never left your side, never wavering in its loyalty. The call from the heart has ever been the same. If people want to ‘win back’ government, they should look within.

    In so far as the Soul’s reflection on this earth (in its first aspect as will or power, manifesting as statesmanship, diplomacy, and the domestic political life) evolves this blueprint of the Soul, then all is well. The brotherhood of man and fatherhood of a Universal Energy is fact in the DNA of the soul. All human experience is simply the quarry in which the foundation stones are sought. From the soul comes plan and purpose; from the intellect the ideas to implement it, from the desire nature the urge to manifest the purpose on the earth, from the physical world the resources to house it. The persona of man is the temple wrought (in the Masonic tradition).

    The greatest purpose within the human heart, I believe, is Peace. Peace brings with it both human dignity and prosperity – they are a beautiful and virtuous circle. Just as a little baby first begins to feel through the sense of touch, Peace is the first of the inner senses to awaken. The human being, who can feel peace, radiating and pulsing within their heart, feels the presence of the soul within them and touches the Divine that brought it into existence. They ‘know’ themselves as something more than just a human personality or mind. And because the energy, the nature, of the soul is Love – then Love determines the personality – away from greed and self-interest towards kindness, group activity and well-being, inherent in soul energies. Kindness is the magician’s touchstone in all systems. Love is the great waterer and nurturer of Life.

    The soul in man has both purpose and a plan. To the soul, everything is energy in motion. Everything is Being coming into being. Everything arises from an Ocean of Tranquillity and Brilliant Clarity. For those, who have seen this shining within them, there is no doubt. Love, the most creative Energy alive in the Universe today. Aspects of Love, that find their way out and into the physical world, to manifest in the human persona, are also recognisable in our lives as [I-51]:

    I. will or power
    II. love-wisdom
    III. active intelligence

    Attributes of active intelligence are:

    IV. harmony
    V. concrete knowledge
    VI. devotion, idealism
    VII. ceremonial order

    These and other systemic energies evolve in both soul and persona: the soul in man busy learning how to harmonise, integrate, fuse, and wield them in order first of all to build the rainbow bridge (seven colours above) to the personality and subsequently, play a conscious role as a tiny energy particle of the creation in which we ‘live, move and have our being’. Science has much to tell us of the life systems of the planet and environment. Psychologists are busy with the dilemma of consciousness and aberrations in the human personality (perhaps they should focus equally on the successes; especially genius and creativity). Peace informs all of this. Peace is a beginning to a conscious life.

    Group intelligence means those goals held dear to the hearts of human beings all over the planet are held aloft. These have always been to live in peace, with dignity, to prosper as human beings and pursue fulfilment. To learn and to grow, as human beings. The economy is meant to minister to human need. Any lesser goal should be evaluated in such a Light. Sure we want airports and cell-phones – but we need Peace!

    This I believe underlies what we really need to understand: after that we can discuss how concepts about systemic operational and financial consolidation and breakdowns, might help achieve that! The veils we weave!

    Thank you for your time and consideration of self-knowledge. The heart has no curiosity – the heart wants to know!

  31. Your comment makes sense to me Tom. There always seems to be a dichotomy in outlook (warring of the opposites in human nature – largely emotional energy charged with thought and ego), symbolised in this instance by the interests of the individual and group, synthesised only by an evolution in consciousness. Am always experimenting with ways to try to unpack, map, and bridge this (below, drawing on thoughts from the discourses of Prem Rawat) ….. I think the idea of detachment as a prerequisite for engagement with the affairs of the personality, the dawning notion that reality is only found on the ‘inside’, the finality of dust to dust on the outside; that what the real human being actually treasures is only to be found within the Consciousness, and that which is on the outside is part of a larger SCRIPT; in which we not only get to write our own subscript as part of our own development, but participate in a larger theatre once the skills are learnt. I know personally, how difficult it is to maintain the inner connection in the outer world; concepts fly around everywhere!! This is the discipline of self-knowledge. The world of the human personality is busy!

    Before going to school, kids learn everything through experience and feeling.

    Daily, all of this is filed away somewhere in the consciousness – and at their leisure and in their own good time, kids ruminate on whatever resurfaces, building on what they can understand, making up their own minds. Kids are very open to the world because everything is new – most inputs are assimilated. Creativity and learning go hand in hand and at a prodigious rate. Because of this process, and in general, very young children can be told – but not compelled – what to think. The process is too alive, too dynamic, and too natural to be messed with; the kids are too much in touch with themselves – it takes an institutionalised setting.

    “Education’ upends this process: the cranium is opened up, stuff is poured in, and success measured by examining the regurgitation. Kids are told that they are incomplete (by people who feel incomplete). That they need to make something of themselves; and the only way to do that is to use the mind to learn whatever is grafted into it. Learning through experience and feeling, nurturing the feeling of freedom that is at their core, free rumination, allowing the mind to come to its own conclusions; assimilation and openness, are set aside – everything is poured down a chute and in most, sets like concrete.

    OK! Two things have happened here. One is your Identity has been transposed and constrained to a mere role. The other is you have taken at least 80% of the beautifully rich experience of the human feeling-machine, and set it aside; in lieu of ‘knowledge and social position’. The knowledge-cloud is grafted on to the role. It seems to me there is a huge difference between roles, intellect, and living intelligence! Each has their part – we probably need airports and ocean liners (but they are not essential to existence); and I do like computers. But the actor who gets lost in a role is in trouble; more-so if they have no clue as to whom they really are! As is a pilot, lost in the clouds when he should be travelling below or above them.

    Shakespeare had something to say about this:

    All the world’s a stage,
    And all the men and women merely players;
    They have their exits and their entrances,
    And one man in his time plays many parts,
    His acts being seven ages.

    So – here we are, one third in along one of the trailing arms of the Milky Way, on a tiny beautiful, blue jewel of a planet, absolutely unique for light years around, in a rather insignificant and quiet little solar system, fortuitously stationed just the right distance out from our Sun (no tolerances) play acting! Abandoning our Identity and inveigled (to ourselves) by knowledge!

    Throw a spitting cobra into a room full of resentment and watch the priorities change! We resent when we have the luxury to be able to sit around and judge. Those high-flying corporate leaders holidaying around the rim of the Indian Ocean faced a far different reality when the tsunami rolled in. For me, Our Existence is the uncharted world. After 200,000 years on the road, that is where our focus should be. I think resentment and our ‘issues’ are symptoms, outcomes of our ignorance of ourselves, and in this sense, the least of our problems (hi Neil)! Connect up the river of clarity on the inside and all of the horse-shit on the outside will be washed right out of the stables.

    I know a lot of people are highly educated or ‘very important persons’ – but sorry – you are play-acting. In fact the higher up the social ladder you climb, the more play-acting you do. And you know it! Time strapped cleverly to our wrists, oblivious to the fact that Time has us. Time grinds everything into dust; even the stars and the planets. Our problem is that a most of our play is highly dangerous, contagious, and quite inhumane – actually, quite loco! We are the only species on the planet that kills large numbers of its own species, just for the hell of it! We kill off the very vehicle that it took evolution millions of years to evolve. We dirty our beautiful little home. This is because we have no idea as to who we are, or what we are doing here. We just play-act!

    This is what struck me browsing Frank Stilwell’s ‘Political Economy’ [2006]. Interesting in the context, but how can anybody write a history about a group of beings who have no idea who they are? Visit the terminally ill at your local hospital and look into their eyes and you will see I am just telling you a truth; they are not interested in the stock market! They are too engrossed with their existence. They are very very very, honest people. When the play is done and dusted, they care about Existence. But why wait, until the last few breaths are coming and it is too late?

    But a species who just play-acts and worships their minds (ahem – and their egos – waves in the mindstuff)!

    Travelling at 107,219km/hr. around the Sun, on a planet spinning at 1670km/hr. at the equator, the whole galaxy, perhaps the whole universe (one little dot among many) orbiting around some esoteric point, our vision limited by the arrival of light – no idea where we are going or why; but ‘proud of our accomplishments’ (every time I see Emperor penguins, standing around together, clapping their flippers in unison – it seems strangely and hilariously familiar)! Each human allotted on average, seventy laps around the sun (that’s less than a second in the 4.6B year life of the planet). I think evolution has accomplished a lot in the human being, but our own affairs are a bloody mess! The Intelligence is there within us, but we do not use it.

    To me, there is a way out of this mess, and it is obvious – and that is to become conscious. Wake up and stop dreaming. I don’t think it is that hard to understand and I know that most people know something like this must happen. Forget the ‘world leaders’, or waiting for angels to come, or even the machinations of the mind – people need simply, to wake up! For me, waking up has naught to do with religion, economics, politics, philosophy or even ‘spirituality’. All of these come after the fact. When the mind is dreaming it is chaotic and unordered, fearful. The imagination builds a play, just like happens with little kids. When we are awake, then perhaps we can use the mind creatively, without doing others harm!

    Human beings have always longed for Peace. But we do not know how it can manifest. Somehow, there is tranquillity, love and intelligence buried at our core, like a seed waiting to spring to life – but we do not know how to water this seed. We are too busy, too caught up in the affairs of the persona. Some know but forget; some declare it nonsense; some ignore because they have other goals in mind, some hold it back; some substitute it for something else. All have lost the practice of experiencing and feeling, what comes from within. Of building the bridge – exploring the Identity and linking it back to its genesis. This is the real evolutionary goal of the human persona in my understanding, and everything we do either builds or destroys capacity for such – hence the dichotomy (present in both individuals and groups).

    There is an ancient and profound message: – within each and every human being, you will find at your core, an Infinite Energy, out of which you and everything else in the universe has sprung. Seeing yourself reflected in that Energy, like standing before a mirror somehow a part of you, you will know yourself as you are; a little spark dancing in the rays of a universal Sun. You will know where you came from, what Joy and Love is; what Intelligence is, how profound is the Will; where you will be going and what you are meant to do (breathe in and out and Enjoy being alive)! You will understand the vehicle in which you are manifest: the human persona. You will know that the purpose of this human persona is to express the energy that flows from within. Like an instrument, tuned, and waiting to be played. You will know that everything is an expression of being and energy. All ethics are just an expression of energy (or absence) transformed by the personality into thought and behaviour. You will see how everything, in its essence, is very very simple; a place where Time and Space do not exist. You will see how circumscribed, how bounded and walled in is the concrete mind, when bereft of this energy that must penetrate its shell. You will know the difference between the Universe within, shrouded in Infinity; and the Universe without, shrouded in the Finite. You will know the Breath that connects the two. A human being a door, through which the Breath flows between the two worlds. Doing its thing.

    You will see very very clearly, that what exists on the outside comes from within, and that human affairs are simply a reflection of how much ‘light’ reaches our periphery – the world of the human persona. That is my (partial) understanding of this little journey we are on! Everything and I mean everything that happens on the outside – is a clue that you need to build a bridge to the reality within. It is the Being that is Intelligent, not the mind. Mind is simply a bubble into which thoughts are thrown, from either the persona below or the Consciousness above – that is the essence of discrimination.

    Only with self-knowledge I believe, can human expression in the outside world really change. Without it, the blind lead the blind, in the desert. It is a play! Technology advances but the human expression is stuck until Consciousness expands from within. The human persona, without light is in darkness – light arrives only through experience and then ushers in understanding.

    “Truth does not pay homage to any society, modern or ancient. Society needs to pay homage to the Truth, or die. That society is the greatest where the highest truths become practical”.

    “A man who does not believe in himself is an atheist”.

    [Vivekananda]

    The ‘I’ of yesterday is the ‘I’ of to-day, and the ‘I’ of to-day will be the ‘I’ of to-morrow, and when the breath stops coming, the play is over and we have to leave. The role (ego) will mean nothing to you, nor the play, nor the knowledge of how to upgrade you software or make a million bucks! The concern, the mystery of the ‘I’ will remain. That is how it has always been, but we get caught up. Like an actor, we need to learn how to play the role, but not lose our Identity. Be good at both. And realise that knowledge is bounded. We need to cherish our Identity and learn how to uncover what is held in each and every human heart. We perceive things through the looking glass of the mind – hence world views abound about the play. To perceive things through the looking glass of the heart, to know who you are, what we are, what this ‘I’ truly is, is the gift of evolution, the commitment of the student, and the patience of a Teacher – it has always been so; the unsung heroic story of the restless hearts of the human race, who give up everything to fly and to sing, only to find they have given up nothing, still mending shoes, but their heart has been transformed. In my understanding, a human being is a door.

    Friendship, Knowledge, Serenity, pacify the mind. Negativity stirs it up. Love begets love and hate begets hate – it is so simple, really! All is energy in motion. Back and behind of every thought that enters your mind is energy, from somewhere.

    Indra once became a pig, wallowed in mire, had children and was happy! But when he stood up free, the pigskin at his feet, and remembered who he was, he was really happy ….. beyond words happy!!!!

    After 200,000 years on planet earth (circling the Sun, every day it is in the sky, reflected in the water and warming the earth, bringing life to everything – now there’s a clue) – what is a human being?

  32. “what is a human being?”

    That is the question and the answer of homo economicus dooms neoliberalism and neoclassical economics to the dustbin of history, since it is a puerile answer in the history of thought, let alone the future of it.

  33. I always liked the Latin Oeconomus, from ancient Greek oikonomikós: equivalent to oikonóm (os) ‘steward’ oîko (s) ‘house’ + nómos ‘law, rule’. Globally – stewardship of the household of the planet in accordance with natural Law.

    Homo Oeconomus? But we are so much more …..

    Hope you enjoyed the riff on Shakespeare Tom …. night-shift entertainment!!

  34. Yes, ironic that stewardship got replaced (reversed) with self-interest under the rubrics of rationality and utility maximizing in the modern version of homo economicus.

    Always enjoy your riffs, JR.

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