And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.
“Eternity He who binds himself to a joy Does the winged life destroy. But he who kisses the joy as it flies Lives in eternity’s sun rise.”
Sacred Space, Or Holy Ground
What it used to be an almost forgotten religious tradition, relegated to the past, as modernity took us away from Myth, and Religions, it seems to be having a sort of personal renaissance, and I mean personal, because no longer it’s attached to a particular creed of Faith, or at a designated place by those traditions, but to a personal subjective feeling within ourselves, devoid from the trappings of ancient Religions.
It doesn’t mean, the old traditional places are without devotees, by the contrary, more than ever by the facility of communication, and the easiness of traveling, they have experienced a surge of believers, ready to pay, to fulfil their piety by going into pilgrimage to the Holy sites.
The Personal Sacred Space
I mean , the average person, the lukewarm spiritual, but not religious individual may not attend the crowded religious festivals around the World, but hold now a belief that certain geographical places, hold on, an energy or power, that you can feel once there.
It’s popular now to hear of such places as Vortices , or Vortex of energy, numerous places around the World suddenly are declared Sacred Space by your neighbor, friend, coworker, etc.
And there is talk of such places, and many of us had traveled to places where you feel there’s something special to them, once you get there. Every big city has some place not too far relatively speaking, but also not that close, where you should be able to experience at least peace, and relaxation, accompanied by a feel good vibe, among beautiful, serene surroundings. this be a charming Town, a Desert, a Mountain, a hidden Valley, or whatever place you feel it’s “A Special Place.”
And if I would agree it’s special for many, its not for others.
Well, the main thing they travel there, but do not live there!
Most people fail to understand that well being, peace, and happiness, do not reside in a Shangri- La mythical geographical place, but is a totally subjective state of being, given at any moment by our feelings, and state of mind, within our hearts.
So it’s easy to be fooled by a sense of peace, serenity and awe, at the particular place that seems to trigger the experience, and therefore always searching, or returning to the places we believe trigger the experience.
But also there’s nothing wrong with feeling special in certain places close to our hearts, because our past its linked to them, or special people, a parent or grandmother, etc. Or we just grow there in happiness, as children, but then moved away, and we are nostalgic, and we yearn for those days gone. They are special places, at least to us, someone else may not share the experience, I even wrote something in this blog about it.
I mean it’s fun to travel and vacation, to such places, but to believe you had found Paradise, hardly.
Paradise it a state of Being, not a Geographical place.
Rene Daumal Mount Analogue
French writer Rene Daumal wrote a little unfinished novel; Mount Analogue.
The novel is both bizarre and allegorical, detailing the discovery and ascent of a mountain, which can only be perceived by realizing that one has travelled further in traversing it than one would by travelling in a straight line, and can only be viewed from a particular point when the sunrays hit the earth at a certain angle.
“Its summit must be inaccessible, but its base accessible to human beings as nature made them. It must be unique and it must exist geographically. The door to the invisible must be visible.”
Daumal died before the novel was completed, providing an uncanny one-way quality to the journey. Father Sogol – the “Logos” spelled backwards – is the leader of the expedition—the expedition to climb the mysterious mountain that unites Heaven and Earth.
The novel also marks the first use of the word “peradam” in literature, an object that is revealed only to those who seek it.
“One finds here, very rarely in the low lying areas, more frequently as one goes farther up, a clear and extremely hard stone that is spherical and varies in size—a kind of crystal, but a curved crystal, something extraordinary and unknown on the rest of the planet. Among the French of Port-des-Singes, it is called peradam. Ivan Lapse remains puzzled by the formation and root meaning of this word. It may mean, according to him, “harder than diamond,” and it is; or “father of the diamond,” and they say that the diamond is in fact the product of the degeneration of the peradam by a sort of quartering of the circle or, more precisely, cubing of the sphere. Or again, the word may mean “Adam’s stone,” having some secret and profound connection to the original nature of man. The clarity of this stone is so great and its index of refraction so close to that of air that, despite the crystal’s great density, the unaccustomed eye hardly perceives it. But to anyone who seeks it with sincere desire and true need, it reveals itself by its sudden sparkle, like that of dewdrops. The peradam is the only substance, the only material object whose value is recognized by the guides of Mount Analogue. Therefore, it is the standard of all currency, as gold is for us.”
Daumal compares art and alpinism in this novel, saying:
Alpinism is the art of climbing mountains by confronting the greatest dangers with the greatest prudence. Art is used here to mean the accomplishment of knowledge in action.
You cannot always stay on the summits. You have to come down again…
So what’s the point? Only this: what is above knows what is below, what is below does not know what is above. While climbing, take note of all the difficulties along your path. During the descent, you will no longer see them, but you will know that they are there if you have observed carefully.
There is an art to finding your way in the lower regions by the memory of what you have seen when you were higher up. When you can no longer see, you can at least still know. .
Our Sacred Space
It’s fashionable now day to build your own Sacred space, this be a retreat in your garden, a small Altar, with the symbols, and objects you prefer to include there, located in a corner of your favorite place to meditate, or pray, like many ancient cultures did, and do on the present, I got to confess I grew around that kind of thing, but was little bit of a cynic, an unbeliever, and thought I knew better, today I am just comfortable with having a mat, and a corner where I seat for meditation, and prayer, nothing too elaborated, in fact plainly bare, as facing a wall can be, but I got friends who go through the effort of seeking all kind of beautiful, and special things and create an elaborated Altar piece according to their taste.
If inclined you can do the same, if you do not have one yet, according to your particular beliefs, and taste.
But do not forget, Heaven and Earth are everywhere, but first you need to find them within you, then you will be able to behold them everywhere.
Please, Put It On Writing
Words are easily spoken.
And be swept by a gust of wind
So swiftly, and end nowhere…
Never reaching the ear,
To the one you intended,
Or bounce aimlessly,
And reach the wrong person.
If you write it instead,
Maybe one day, someone
May read it.
And the words
May grow like a seed,
Nurtured by a thirsty
So, please write me
Even a line will suffice,
To who is in need of
In truth, it may take
Before finding an echo,
And do not run into
The burning book crowd.
We need to say it,
So lets talk writing it,
To express what it’s hidden
And bring it out,
Since even you
May had ignored it.
Thoughts are difficult
To express with words,
In writing you can go back
And correct it,
But never so,
A word that incautiously
Left your Lips…
Let your fingers do the
Work for you.
They allow your heart,
To say what words would fail.
And bring the pleasure of
And who knows?
Maybe they will echo
On someone’s Heart.
The arrow of your
Thoughts, will score
A bull’s eye.
Then they will
Accomplish what these
Words were intended for.
Why Introverts Like Writing, And Can Be very Good At.
To be honest, not all writers are introverts. Literary greats such as Ernest Hemingway, Kurt Vonnegut, Anaïs Nin, and Mark Twain are thought to have been extroverts, but maybe they had some elements who they share with introverts.
But many Writers, Artist and Scientist, do self-identify as introverts, such as J.K. Rowling and John Green, Chopin, Albert Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton. Other famous introverted writers are thought to include Agatha Christie, Charlotte Brontë, Edgar Allan Poe, William Shakespeare, Homer, Jane Austen, C.S. Lewis, George R.R. Martin, Ayn Rand, Dr. Seuss and… the list goes on and on.
Yes, anyone can write. But it takes a certain type of person to create worlds in their head, work in complete isolation for hours on end, and strive to get every word just right.
If you’re an introvert who loves writing, it’s probably in part because you get to work alone. There are no staff meetings, no small talk, no group brainstorming sessions, and no social burnout when you’re writing. It’s just you, your notebook, or laptop, and whatever your inner world devises.
Now, I also believe many of our fellow bloggers, who love to post, knowingly, or unknowingly they are attracted to read, and write, because it’s part of their inner drive, or character nature, from being an Introverted personality.
And that is why I titled my post as:
Writing is the Art, of bringing to Light, that what previously was Hidden within yourself.
The Passion Of Creation
And for that we first need to take the first steps , and start running, and to gain momentum jump over the fence, and realize we are who we are, writers at heart, and we can be as good as we work hard to polish ourselves, and perfect our skills.
I am not inclined to seek help, or look for advice from anyone, but there its nothing wrong with you, if you do that, my knowledge come from an early habit of reading, and an eclectic taste for it, only once I was taken to a beginner’s writer’s class by a friend, I was soon disappointed by the teacher when first thing he did was to ask us to write a small story, to a group of people who knew nothing about writing, and hardly ever read a book, I could tell, by their limited knowledge of authors, during the class. If I would have been the teacher, I rather have read them a small good story, and talk about it, instead than asking them to create anything, since they were not properly read, by a long stretch of the imagination, you have to hear some of the stuff they wrote, and sat patiently after to hear it, I do not know, even now, when remembering it, if to cry, or to laugh.
My advice then is to read a lot first, be voracious and read all kind of stuff. You will be surprised at the things I read, and write elsewhere, and not in my blog.
Of course each of us may have our own inclinations, given by many factors, too large to mention here, but the reason why, we all have different lives. But of course you got to be possessed by your inner whispering Daemon, as Socrates described it:
“Perhaps it may seem strange that I go about and interfere in other people’s affairs to give this advice in private, but do not venture to come before your assembly and advise the state. But the reason for this, as you have heard me say at many times and places, is that something divine and spiritual [“daemonic” in original text] comes to me…” (Plato, Socrates Apology: 31c.d.)
What to Write?
If your asking yourself this question, you are at the beginning of your Journey as a writer.
All writer’s have a story. Whatever we write is about us, or somehow related to our lives. As our taste in reading, and the daily events we live through, whatever you may write it should come from deep within your heart. Your story is also something which lies in your heart so mostly whatever people write is somehow related to them. Their personal Daemon, or demons may drive them, lets not forget the desperate souls that poured their angst, in writing.
Creative people its said are mainly extroverts, writing being a creative process, should have many extroverts, I sort of disagree with that way of thinking, recently someone said:
“Brainstorming builds on combination of ideas from multiple people, when ideas from one person are enhanced by another, leading to a product that none of the participants in the brainstorming session could have envisioned individually. In my personal experience, my best ideas came out when I was with other people. Even if they didn’t consciously contributed to them, even the fact that I had to explain my ideas to them made my original ideas better, and solved problems to which I didn’t have solutions before. Group brainstorming is hard on introverts, though. They would rather just be left alone to think, and thus will not benefit from thoughts of others.”
My answer to that is; you cannot be a real writer if you need to brainstorm with a group of people every time you write, sure you can get fresh ideas that way, but seating and writing, it’s a lonely time consuming process, that writers, inventors and engineers work like artists, and need to be alone, outside of their companies, or left alone when at work, where they can invent and write peacefully without others affecting them.
You want inspiration?
Seek it reading more books, and pondering if you could do it better.
One has to feel comfortable being alone, which is hard for most extroverted people, who find hard to sit by themselves for fifteen minutes in a room with no stimulation, and many of them preferred to zap them with electric shocks just to avoid feeling lonely, and bored, and to avoid thoughts they want to suppress. I guess that’s why jails were invented as punishment for those who break the law, we all humans, need a social environment, to be mentally healthy, but I imagine having to be worst for extroverts.
I know that to talk about psychological characters, it’s controversial, and not politically correct, with some philosophers, and scientist, but we all have an individual character, with preferences, and different choices, and we are compatible, or not with certain characters, and gathering with the wrong type, can end with you, like in a bad relationship, marriage, in trouble, by divorce, or mutual avoidance.
So is with writing, please if you never heard, or read Henry James, William Faulkner, T. S. Eliot, Herman Melville, or Vladimir Nabokov, and those are the ones who provoke more essays to, be made by other writers, in America today. If your primary intent, isn’t the passion of the written word itself, but to be famous, or make money, do yourself a favor, and forget it! You are wasting your time, better become an actor, or a banker, instead.
When eating, we like to say the proof of the pudding is in the eating, in writing the proof is in the pleasure, awe, emotions, and esthetic satisfaction you get from reading it.
REINVENTING THE WORLD AS WE SEE IT, THE DANGER OF CHOOSING POORLY, PLEASE BE CAREFUL OF YOUR OWN NARRATIVE.
The World it´s not as it is, but as we see it, so it is, at least to us.
We live in a World made of images, information, and narratives, collective, and personal, and that we call it Knowledge, or Ignorance for the lack of it, or I would add for the poor quality we choose to feed our minds, and souls with.
We mostly generally, are easy to be program by information, that now day has become not a source for Truth, but for convenience, to people who want to control what you should think about particular issues, be this about the drink you prefer to buy, to the way you should interpret the news you watch, or hear.
It’s common for people to judge you in a poor light, or be wary of your political opinions, just by your favorite source of media. Most never questioning their own favorite source.
We are obedient receptors of information, good, or bad, that indiscriminately, we absorb, and then project into our beliefs, that translate later into actions, based on what you were told, and concluded as truthful, therefore a fact.
Thoughts Long Held, Turn Into Actions
So one day sick to your Soul, of the way things that are going on the World, and full of righteous indignation decide to take some radical action, to put an end to that!
You get out out of bed, or the sofa, and head out to the local help center, and offer yourself as a volunteer to combat misery in the so many varieties it exist; homelessness, hunger, sickness, or whatever your choice of cause to alleviate, or decide to take affirmative action, by being careful to protect the environment, buying and selecting what in your opinion would help to conserve, and protect, rather than destroy.
A Different Scenario
Or you get up, and fed up by all those parasites, who are sucking the blood of the planet decide to put an end to it, by showing your disgust, an with careful planning, decide to teach those people at the local Church, or High School, a lesson they will never forget, for the sin of thinking differently, than you do, how clever, and macho you are by sacrificing yourself, but getting ahead of you, as many of them as you can, or just full of rage on impulse picking your gun collection and shoot whoever you first see on sight, just because you are so pissed off.
Yes, sure we know that those people are mentally disordered, or unbalanced, as we like to call them now day, but ignore totally the fact they are very easily infected with the decease of extremist ideologies, same that they acquired just the same way you got your political ideas, by selectively picking what you choose to believe, and take action against it, regardless if you never got a personal injury from an extreme terrorist, from whatever ideology you hate, and will never carry an act like that.
Well, some mental cases, unbalanced or just full of hate towards people they see as the ¨other,¨ just do that, we frequently see it on the news, now a too common occurrence.
Just last year in 2018 in the United States alone, the mass shootings, not all acts of terror, by a mental disorder case, criteria disputed accordingly, but nevertheless mass shootings.
Shootings that occurred in the United States in 2018. Mass shootings are incidents involving multiple victims of firearm-related violence. The precise inclusion criteria are disputed, and there is no broadly accepted definition.
Of the shootings that meet the criteria for inclusion here, there were 323 shootings, 387 were killed and 1274 injured, and 3 mass shootings occurred at a school.
Shootings, almost as big as the year is long, basically 42 short to make 365, one for every day of the year. about 3.5 days a month without a shooting, average, since more than one shooting can happen on a given day, and a few days may go by without one, but not for too long. You may think there’s a war going on in America. And I guess there is, and its escalating up.
Be Careful, And Selective
My intention it’s to point out, we all have an obligation to be selective, about what kind of person we aspire to be, violence may seem a random epidemic, but it’s not, all of us have a choice, as in the Native American story.
The Two Wolfs
Once upon a time, there was a Cherokee grandfather (or Navajo grandfather), who told his grandson, “Grandson, there are two wolves inside of me. One wolf is white, good and altruistic, generous and kind, and the other wolf is black, mean and greedy, violent and angry. The two wolves are in a constant fight within me.” The grandson, with wide eyes, says, “But which one will win, grandpa?” And the grandfather says after a pause:
“The one which I feed.”
Violence As A Way To Resolve Conflict
Before you absolve yourself of such idea, tell me what are the movies you like to watch?
It’s common to hear guys saying: ‘I like movies with plenty of action!’
What they are really saying is; I like movies with plenty of violence.
¨The government, and Hollywood fill up the viewing agenda on pseudo patriotism and militaristic propaganda. God said “Thou shalt not kill,” and that meant killing a neighbor, another soldier, the bully in your neighborhood, your wife or husband or the third wheel that’s been hanging around while your at work. Killing is simply not an alternative.
Self defense may be alright under certain circumstances. But that’s not the same as parroting violent incidents in the media, and the difference between killing on tv, and taking real lives is like day and night. People bleed, people suffer, people die and they’re not coming back for a sequel. School shootings and the resulting trauma are simply unacceptable. Where does a guy get the idea to shoot hundreds of people through a window opening in a luxury hotel? Violence is epidemic and it’s high time we counter.
The media through the Internet, television, video games and music, degenerates our society. I mean have you ever checked out the video game Grand Theft Auto? All about killing and killing cops, pimping, thieving , and just about any type of violence you can imagine. Johnny 12 year-old is eating it up, and the cognitive, as well as the emotional neurons adapt I suppose, although what will survival of the fittest entail in the future? Macho supporters sing the praises of social Darwinism. If you’re weak minded or unable to contribute than you should probably just die off. Seriously that was America back in the Westward Ho days.¨
Hungarian physicist Eugene Wigner. “It follows that the quantum description of objects is influenced by impressions entering my consciousness,” he wrote. “Solipsism may be logically consistent with present quantum mechanics.”
Wheeler even entertained the thought that the presence of living beings, which are capable of “noticing”, has transformed what was previously a multitude of possible quantum pasts into one concrete history. In this sense, Wheeler said, we become participants in the evolution of the Universe since its very beginning. In his words, we live in a “participatory universe.”
To this day, physicists do not agree on the best way to interpret these quantum experiments, and to some extent what you make of them is (at the moment) up to you. But one way or another, it is hard to avoid the implication that consciousness and quantum mechanics are somehow linked.
Beginning in the 1980s, the British physicist Roger Penrose suggested that the link might work in the other direction. Whether or not consciousness can affect quantum mechanics, he said, perhaps quantum mechanics is involved in consciousness.
What if, Penrose asked, there are molecular structures in our brains that are able to alter their state in response to a single quantum event. Could not these structures then adopt a superposition state, just like the particles in the double slit experiment? And might those quantum superpositions then show up in the ways neurons are triggered to communicate via electrical signals?
Maybe, says Penrose, our ability to sustain seemingly incompatible mental states is no quirk of perception, but a real quantum effect.
The Heart, The Place Of Meeting, And Transformation.
Ibn ‘Arabi offers a unique framework for explaining the structures of knowledge. His epistemology is referenced within the Oneness of Being (wahdāt al-wujūd), and all knowledge is ultimately the knowledge that the Being has of Itself through Its own self-disclosure. The human form mirrors this self-disclosure, and within this form he situates the center of the human experience in the faculty of the heart (qalb).
He intimates at the highest human potential which is the immediate perception of the Real as It appears to the heart in every moment, a condition of complete union known as the ‘Station of No Station’.
The Mind it’s the feeder, the receptacle it’s the Heart, and the reason you can’t throw in it impurity, or it will cover with rust, and dirt, the mirror of pure consciousness, the Heart. (See my last post in this blog).
And instead of Love, Truth, Peace, Wisdom, Light, and Bliss, you will get Hate, Falsehood, Ignorance, Darkness, and Suffering.
What you imagine yourself to be, that way you will become, and you will be for good, or for bad, your choice.
- Teaching without speaking,
- Producing without possessing,
- Creating without regard to result,
- Claiming nothing,
- The Sage has nothing to lose.
- Tao Te King
Human conditions, often we forget are relative, it matters little to be poor, rich, sick, or healthy, if you have a proper attitude, that of remaining happy with our lot, we must constantly remind ourselves that we are not only the body, but that our true nature is Spirit, and before this fact, all material conditions are only secondary, and immaterial, in relation to our true Nature, and therefore only conditions for ever changing, and of importance relative to the moment we are presently experiencing, not to say they are not important.
Wu wei is a concept literally meaning non-action, non-doing or non-forcing. Wu wei emerged in the Spring and Autumn period to become an important concept in both Taoism an Chinese statecraft.
In the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu explains that beings (or phenomena) that are wholly in harmony with the Tao behave in a completely natural, uncontrived way. The goal of spiritual practice for the human being is, according to Lao Tzu, the attainment of this purely natural way of behaving, as when the planets revolve around the sun. The planets effortlessly do this revolving without any sort of control, force, or attempt to revolve themselves, thus engaging in effortless and spontaneous, or as water flowing downstream avoiding obstacles naturally, and effortless.
It’s An Attitude
So, Wu Wei, it’s not doing nothing, it’s an attitude, like when things are outside your control, what’s the point of clinging to, and be in the way of it?
There’s many things that require an attitude, of tuning yourself on, and off in a special wavelength, of letting go, like jumping the rope, you do it without thinking, first, of course you just jump, but later, you can add even different ways of doing it, and even get to do fancy moves.
Our mind, and emotions, are like our body, we can train them to do what we want to accomplish, in fact, body, and mind are one, and emotions are the product of our minds. When your body and mind are together as one, you are fully and naturally present in the moment. This is the essence of mindfulness practice. Body and Mind Are One
Pen Shue, or Chih Shue?
The nature of mind has long been one of the most perplexing problems in Western philosophy, achieving particular prominence since the time of Descartes (1596-1650) who, in the second of his Meditations, attempted to distinguish between mind-substances and physical-extended substances. Understanding the nature of mind has been a difficult and still unresolved problem in the West.
According to pen chueh, the mind is believed as being enlightened from the very beginning. Shih chueh believes, however, that there is a definite point in time when we transition from ignorance to realization.
As we shall see, the so-called defiled mind is the activity of mind which conceptualizes, judges, distinguishes subject from object, hates, craves, and constructs the conceptual framework within which we categorize our perceptions and experiences. This defiled mind seems to correspond roughly to the Western notion of mind, but what is this “pure mind”? How is the pure mind related to the defiled mind? Are they two different minds or two aspects of the same thing? Are they separable? Is one more fundamental than the other? If so, in what sense? These tended to be the kinds of questions which the Ch’an Buddhists were concerned with, and it goes without saying that the realization of the pure mind was considered an essential part of the goal for the Ch’an Buddhist.
To get a feeling for this pure mind, the following quotation taken from the sermons of Ch’ao-chou Ta-tien, a disciple of the famous Ch’an master Shih-t’ou (700-790), describes the pure mind:
The master ascended the ‘high seat’ and spoke to the assembled monks, saying:
Now, you students of the Way must realize your own original mind (tzu-chia pen-hsin …. Simply do away with all of your erroneous imaginings, thoughts and discrimination. This is your true mind (chen-hsin ). This mind has nothing to do with sensory realms, with maintaining the experience of silence and quietude, and is completely free from interaction [with these kinds of states]. Just this mind is Buddha, and it is not spiritual cultivation. What is the reason for this? It responds to worldly activities, it is in accord with the illumination [of each thing], it is calm and self-functioning. Penetrating to the place of this functioning cannot be grasped conceptually. And the name we give to this subtle functioning is the ”original mind” (pen-hsin)
O my heart, if you wish to arrive
at the begining of understanding,
To each atom there is a different door,
and for each atom there is a
different way which leads to
the mysterious Being,
of whom I speak.
In this vast Ocean the World
is an Atom, and the Atom a World.
Who knows which, is of more value here,
the Cornelian precious stone,
or a mere pebble?
The faraway king of all the birds, the Simurgh, lets fall a magnificent feather at night, in the center of China, by it’s mere presence, the Chinese great wise scholars, on seeing this single feather knew of this magnificent but mysterious bird, and it’s fame spread all over, therefore the saying:
“Seek knowledge even as far as China.”
Tired of their age-old anarchy, the birds resolve to go in search of him. They know that their king’s name Simurgh, means thirty birds; they know his palace is located on the Qaf mountain, the circular mountain that surrounds the earth.
Mount Qaf in Arabic tradition is a mysterious mountain renowned as the “farthest point of the earth” owing to its location at the far side of the ocean encircling the earth. It is also the only place in this world where the Roc will land.
They embark upon the nearly infinite adventure. They pass through seven valleys or seas; the name of the penultimate is Vertigo; the last, Annihilation. Many pilgrims give up; others perish. Thirty, purified by their efforts, set foot on the mountain of the Simurgh. At last they gaze upon it: they perceive that they are the Simurgh and that the Simurgh is each one of them and all of them. In the Simurgh are the thirty birds and in each bird is the Simurgh.
The poem was written around 1200 by the Sufi poet Farid ud-Din Attar.
About thirty works by Attar survive, but his masterpiece is the mantiq at-Tayr (The Conference of the Birds).
In the poem, the birds of the world gather to decide who is to be their sovereign, as they have none. The hoopoe, the wisest of them all, suggests that they should find the legendary Simurgh. The hoopoe leads the birds, each of whom represents a human fault which prevents human kind from attaining enlightenment.
“He who would know the secret of both worlds will find that the secret of them both is Love.”
The hoopoe tells the birds that they have to cross seven valleys in order to reach the abode of Simurgh. These valleys are as follows:
- 1. Valley of the Quest, where the Wayfarer begins by casting aside all dogma, belief, and unbelief.
- 2. Valley of Love, where reason is abandoned for the sake of love.
- 3. Valley of Knowledge, where worldly knowledge becomes utterly useless.
- 4. Valley of Detachment, where all desires and attachments to the world are given up. Here, what is assumed to be “reality” vanishes.
- 5. Valley of Unity, where the Wayfarer realizes that everything is connected and that the Beloved is beyond everything, including harmony, multiplicity, and eternity.
- 6. Valley of Wonderment, where, entranced by the beauty of the Beloved, the Wayfarer becomes perplexed and, steeped in awe, finds that he or she has never known or understood anything.
- 7. Valley of Poverty and Annihilation, where the self disappears into the universe and the Wayfarer becomes timeless, existing in both the past and the future.
“When the birds hear the description of these valleys, they bow their heads in distress; some even die of fright right then and there. But despite their trepidations, they begin the great journey. On the way, many perish of thirst, heat or illness, while others fall prey to wild beasts, panic, and violence. Finally, only thirty birds make it to the abode of Simurgh. In the end, the birds learn that they themselves are the Simorgh; the name “Simorgh” in Persian means thirty (si) birds (morgh). They eventually come to understand that the majesty of that Beloved is like the sun that can be seen reflected in a mirror. Yet, whoever looks into that mirror will also behold his or her own image.”
- If Simurgh unveils its face to you, you will find
- that all the birds, be they thirty or forty or more,
- are but the shadows cast by that unveiling.
- What shadow is ever separated from its maker?
- Do you see?
- The shadow and its maker are one and the same,
- so get over surfaces and delve into mysteries.
Now, this book was recommended to me by Adam, a friend of mine over 35 years ago, and had it in my hands many times at the bookstore, and read just snippets of it, I am fastidious, and particularly with books, and want the best translation, and the best format, and was not satisfied with the stuff available at the time, so, then just took it out of the library and read it.
I just bought it a few days ago, compromising as usual, I may buy another one, by a different translator.
It was one night while soaring in the Chinese sky,I heard people talk of a great bird that flew by,
Called Simurgh, the greatest bird alive,
Who dwells on Mount Qaf, where he is said to thrive,
Upon a giant mountain unlike any other seen, covered with trees.
Beyond Samarkand, across seven valleys and seven seas.
Jorge Luis Borges admired Attar’s Simorgh tremendously, comparing it to Dante’s Eagle in Canto XVIII of the Paradiso—another composite bird, made up of just kings flying around Jupiter in aquiline formation. Borges preferred the Simurgh as the more cohesive, integrated figure; however, in Attar’s poem, the Simorgh’s integration is also the birds’ disintegration:
Their life came from that close, insistent sun And in its vivid rays they shone as one.
There in the Simorgh’s radiant face they saw
Themselves, the Simorgh of the world – with awe
They gazed, and dared at last to comprehend
They were the Simorgh and the journey’s end.
They see the Simorgh – at themselves they stare,
And see a second Simorgh standing there;
They look at both and see the two are one,
That this is that, that this, the goal is won. Then, as they listened to the Simorgh’s words,
A trembling dissolution filled the birds–
The substance of their being was undone,
And they were lost like shade before the sun;
Neither the pilgrims nor their guide remained.
The Simorgh ceased to speak, and silence reigned.
There is admirable economy in the birds’ quest, Borges noted—“the searchers are what they seek.” Yet also in this climax is the sense of consumption, mortality, illusion.
If you haven’t read it, do it by all means.
“The ocean can be yours; why should you stop Beguiled by dreams of evanescent dew?
The secrets of the sun are yours, but you
Content yourself with motes trapped in beams.”
What It’s Self?
According to an online dictionary:
A person’s essential being that distinguishes them from others, especially considered as the object of introspection or reflexive action.
“Our alienation from our true selves”
Ego, I, oneself, persona, person, identity, character, personality, psyche, soul, spirit,mind, (inner) being
“Listen to your inner self”
The self is an individual person as the object of his or her own reflective consciousness. This reference is necessarily subjective, thus self is a reference by a subject to the same subject. The sense of having a self – or self-hood – should, however, not be confused with subjectivity itself.
There is a directness outward from the subject that refers inward, back to its “self”
A curious state of affairs, who, or what it’s this subjective Self?
Who is this mind who talks within ourselves, and we call the “I”?
A subjective me, separated from my physical person, who can only be witnessed, and listened by myself, and no one else?
There are psychiatric conditions where such ‘sameness’ is broken include depersonalization, which sometimes occur in schizophrenia: the self appears different to the subject.
Schizophrenics they may hear ‘voices’ within themselves diffrent from their self.
Who we are, as a different , but particular individual, it’s not our subjective Self, but a given condition of existence.
Our name, sex, parents, city, and country we are born, or live, religion, economy, school, friends, occupation, work, profession, wife, husband, relatives, friends, factors that marked our physical identity given by genetics, and ancestors, geography, and what not.
None of them the it’s real Self, but circumstantial conditions given at birth, and the subsequent life story we live by such limiting configurations, all simply circumstantial, or happenstance of one kind, or another one, supposedly planed, or not, since we didn’t choose the initial conditions of existence, and the consequence of the many struggles we go through as individuals to establish the identity of our own choosing, sometimes contrary as to what others perceive as a given.
Although subjective experience is central to self-hood, the privacy of this experience is only one of many problems in the philosophical and scientific study of consciousness.
Well, at an early age, I was six, or seven years of age, when I heard an older friend talking about a philosophy class, he had and the teacher expounded on Buddhism about the Three marks of existence. In Buddhism, the three marks of existence are three characteristics (Pali: tilakkhaṇa; Sanskrit: trilakṣaṇa) of all existence and beings, what we namely call impermanence (anicca), unsatisfactoriness or suffering (dukkha), and non-self (anattā).
And the five Skandhas (Sanskrit) or khandhas (Pāḷi) means “heaps, aggregates, The five aggregates or heaps are: form (or matter or body) (rupa), sensations (or feelings, received from form) (vedana), perceptions (samjna), mental activity or formations (sankhara), and consciousness (vijnana).
The skandhas aggregates, as a concept, in contradistinction to the idea of a unified “being or individual”, and complements the Anatta doctrine of Buddhism, which asserts that all things and beings are without self. The ornate and “five aggregates” doctrines are part of the liberating knowledge in Buddhism, wherein one realizes that the “being” is merely made up of a temporary grouping of five aggregates, inferences due to our five senses, who produce the illusion of a Self, each of which are “not I, and not myself”, and each of the skandhas is empty, without substance.
Now, of course all this explained in more simple terms by my friend, and very likely his teacher, as well, since my friend was nine, or ten years of age at the time, like pain, suffering, and death being a given of existence, and our attachment to existence.
Via Positiva Vs Via Negativa
Of course to those easily confused by the many Ways that exist I may refer you to a post I wrote on May 2012 titled: Via Positiva Via Negativa, and remind you form it’s emptiness, and emptiness it’s form, the difference it’s in the eye of the beholder.
The third century Indian Buddhist master Nagarjuna taught, “Emptiness wrongly grasped is like picking up a poisonous snake by the wrong end.” In other words, we will be bitten!
Emptiness is not complete nothingness; it doesn’t mean that nothing exists at all. This would be a nihilistic view contrary to common sense. What it does mean is that things do not exist the way our grasping self supposes they do.
In order of brevity, and not to make this post a treaty that would take many books, I will expose the simple, but profound words of the Ramana Maharshi, who was a Hindu sage and Jivanmukta. He was born as Venkataraman Iyer, but is most commonly known by the name Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. His message was simple, easily to understand, but with great wisdom. Though Ramana’s answers explain and incorporate elements from Advaita Vedanta, his spiritual life is strongly associated with Shaivism.
Although many claim to be influenced by him, Ramana Maharshi did not publicize himself as a guru, never claimed to have disciples, and never appointed any successors.While a few who came to see him are said to have become enlightened through association, he did not publicly acknowledge any living person as liberated other than his mother at death. Ramana never promoted any lineage.
I do not hold any particular Spiritual Path, to be better, than another one, neither claim to be this, or that, I am of the thought we all Men or Women come in all different guises, and likes, and dislikes, a Spiritual Path it’s unique to the individual, and it’s my firm belief that the problem, it’s not that there’s too many Religions, but too few, each person should be a Temple of the Light into his/her own heart, and have each their own, and unique Way, and should recognizes Universally Self, in every being. That by the way, according to Ramana Maharshi It’s the test, that confirm a person it’s an enlightened Being.
“Inquiring within Who is the seer? I saw the seer disappear leaving That alone which stands forever. No thought arose to say I saw. How then could the thought arise to say I did not see.” R.M.
“I cannot show you God or enable you to see God because God is not an object that can be seen. God is the subject. He is the seer. Don’t concern yourself with objects that can be seen. Find out who the seer is” R.M.
“When the identification with the body stops, any notions about death and rebirth become inapplicable, since there is no birth or death within Self.” R.M.
Reincarnation exists only so long as there is ignorance. There is really no reincarnation at all, either now or before. Nor will there be any hereafter. This is the truth.
“O learned one if the mind going inside come backs again outside, it’s only called practice; knowledge it’s a very unfailling experience.” R.M.
“Realization it’s nothing to be gained anew. You are the Self. You are already and eternally That.” R.M.
There is never a moment when the Self is not; it is ever present, here and now. If Realization were something to be gained hereafter, there would be an equal chance of its being lost; this cannot be Liberation, which is eternal.” R.M.
“Investigate the nature of the mind and it will disappear. When you inquire to see what it is, you find there is no such a thing as mind. When the mind has vanished, you realize eternal Peace.” R.M.
“We need not acquire anything new, only give up false ideas and useless accretions. Instead of doing this, we try to grasp something strange and mysterious because we believe happiness lies elsewhere. This is the mistake.” R.M.
“Birds , and all caged pets are waiting for an opportunity to fly, or run out of their cages. Ramana remarks:
All want to rush out. There is no limit to going out. When happiness lies within and not without.”
You can’t cross the sea merely
by standing and staring at the water.
Clouds come floating into my life,
no longer to carry rain or usher storm,
but to add color to my sunset sky.
Life is given to us, we earn it by giving it.
As to the frequent, and too much used question of;
Why do I Blog?
My response could be the obvious, like why do you eat, or even why do you have blue eyes, or why do you like a certain type of food, or why do you have a mole on your cheek?
And many such answers of the sort, of why you are, who you are, and what’s the stuff that motivate you to have the daring of typing some words, and put them out there for everyone to read.
Motivations can be many, as diverse as us human beings we are, despite of it, we all have our own special reasons why do we write.
I believe I do, because I love reading even at the tender age of five as I just learnt, at school, my father, who was an avid reader gave me my first book to read, nothing too complex, a small book 110 pages long or so, an adventure genre book, by the Italian writer Emilio Salgari, about Sandokan a pirate in Malasya, a very improbable story, but designed to appeal to a young person’s imagination.
Emilio Salgari (Italian pronunciation: [eˈmiːljo salˈɡaːri], but often erroneously pronounced [ˈsalɡari]; 21 August 1862 – 25 April 1911) was an Italian writer of action adventure swashbucklers and a pioneer of science fiction.
In Italy, his extensive body of work was more widely read than that of Dante. Today he is still among the 40 most translated Italian authors. Many of his most popular novels have been adapted as comics, animated series and feature films. He is considered the father of Italian adventure fiction and Italian pop culture, and the “grandfather” of the Spaghetti Western.
Salgari wrote more than 200 adventure stories and novels, setting his tales in exotic locations, with heroes from a wide variety of cultures. He gained inspiration from reading foreign literature and newspapers, travel magazines and encyclopedias, which he used to portray his heroes’ worlds. He wrote four major series: The Pirates of Malaysia; The Black Corsair Saga; The Pirates of Bermuda; and a collection of adventures set in the Old West. Salgari’s heroes were mostly pirates, outlaws and barbarians, fighting against greed, abuse of power, and corruption.
Salgari opposed colonization in his fiction. His most legendary heroes Sandokan, The Tiger of Malaysia, a Bornean prince turned pirate, and his loyal lieutenant Yanez of Gomera, led their men in attacks against the Dutch and British fleets. They declared war on James Brooke, the White Rajah of Sarawak, and tried to force him from his throne. The Black Corsair and Captain Morgan battled against injustice in the Caribbean, while Salgari’s pirates of Bermuda fought for American independence.
His tales had been so popular that soon his publisher hired other writers to develop adventure stories under his name. They added 50 novels to his “canon”. Salgari’s style was imitated by many, but no other Italian adventure writer managed to duplicate his popular success.
After reading the book completely non stop since midmorning until late afternoon, I returned the book to father, my father thought I had not read the book, so he said to me:
You didn´t like it?
To which I responded:
On the contrary, I love it, and therefore I want the continuation, the book that you gave me has a continuation and I want it immediately!
And so my long years of reading books commenced.
WRITING AS AN EXTESION OF READING
Well, there you have it, in a nutshell, I write because after so much reading figured up it was time for me to put my owns thoughts in writing.
After so much taking in, naturally it was time to give back, as a process of Osmosis.
The process of osmosis over a semi-permeable membrane. The blue dots represent particles driving the osmotic gradient.
Osmosis is the spontaneous net movement of solvent molecules through a selectively permeable membrane into a region of higher solute concentration, in the direction that tends to equalize the solute concentrations on the two sides. It may also be used to describe a physical process in which any solvent moves across a selectively permeable membrane (permeable to the solvent, but not the solute) separating two solutions of different concentrations. Osmosis can be made to do work. Osmotic pressure is defined as the external pressure required to be applied so that there is no net movement of solvent across the membrane. Osmotic pressure is a colligative property, meaning that the osmotic pressure depends on the molar concentration of the solute but not on its identity.
Simply put Osmosis, it’s soaking a rag until it cannot absorb any more liquid, and the process of absorption, it’s reversed and therefore, as when you clean with a rag something you spill on your counter the rag start to release the liquid instead of absorbing it, and you need to bring a new rag, or squeeze dry the one you have, before trying to clean up more the mess left, on the counter.
So it’s my time to give, rather than taking knowledge, not that I stop reading, but naturally feel like sharing what I have absorbed through my reading, and life experience, and that’s why I am here telling you about it.
That, and trying to add the skill of writing, as a complement to my reading, and sharing it with you, are the prime motivations behind my writing, not getting any money from my writing, or even further from my mind, getting to be famous through it, and so far yet, not even writing a book, has come to my mind…
What inspire me to write a particular post, can be as variable, as the weather, one day to another one, as for example, as I sat on my desk and turned the computer on, I didn’t knew what my next post would be all about it, then I read a message, someone wrote me, and bingo!
A friend of mine like to travel constantly, and once I retired figure that I would do the same, but then that was some time ago, before I knew myself better, the fact I am an INFJ, and just cannot be running around here, and there without having my battery easily exhausted, just a trip of four days some days ago made me crash, when I got home, sleep for twelve hours nonstop, when usually do not sleep more than six, a day!
Commenting on that, to another friend I said:
Our friend like to travel through the Oceans frequently, myself I prefer to travel through, as well, but rather the Oceans of Knowledge, within myself, with the help of some books of course, my kind of cup of tea.
THE END OF THE KALI YUGA, IN 2025. AND THE BEGINING OF SATYA YUGA, A GOLDEN AGE, ANOTHER MILLENIAL MYTH?
There were no poor and no rich; there was no need to labor, because all that men required was obtained by the power of will; the chief virtue was the abandonment of all worldly desires. The Krita Yuga (Satya Yuga) was without disease; there was no lessening with the years; there was no hatred or vanity, or evil thought; no sorrow, no fear. All mankind could attain to supreme blessedness.
According to the Surya Siddhanta, Kali Yuga began at midnight (00:00) on 18 February 3102 BCE. This is also considered the date on which Lord Krishna left the earth to return to Vaikuntha. This information is placed at the temple of Bhalka, the place of this incident
Information Kiosk at Bhalka, the place from where Lord Krishna returned to his heavenly abode
According to the astronomer and mathematician Aryabhatta the Kali Yuga started in 3102 BCE. He finished his book “Aryabhattiya” in 499 CE, in which he gives the exact year of the beginning of Kali Yuga. He writes that he wrote the book in the “year 3600 of the Kali Age” at the age of 23. As it was the 3600th year of the Kali Age when he was 23 years old, and given that Aryabhatta was born in 476 CE, the beginning of the Kali Yuga would come to (3600 – (476 + 23) + 1 (As only one year elapses between 1 BCE and 1 CE) = ) 3102 BCE
According to KD Abhyankar, the starting point of Kaliyuga is an extremely rare planetary alignment, which is depicted in the Mohenjo-Daro seals.[ Going by this alignment the year 3102 BCE is slightly off. The actual date for this alignment is February 7 of 3104 BCE. There is also sufficient proof to believe that Vrdhha Garga knew of precession at least by 500 BCE. Garga had calculated the rate of precession to within 30% of what the modern scholars estimate.
Most interpreters of Vedic scriptures, as Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami and his recent disciple Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada believe that Earth is currently in Kali Yuga and lasts 432,000 years. Other authors, such as Swami Sri Yukteswar and Paramhansa Yogananda, believe that it is now an ascending Dvapara Yuga, indicating levels of cycles within each major Yuga period as each being a development, the smaller cycles within cycles eventually leading to full development of the qualities of the ages. The Kali Yuga is thought by some authors to last 6480 years although other duration have been proposed.
Attributes of Kali Yuga
Hindus believe that human civilization degenerates spiritually during the Kali Yuga, which is referred to as the Dark Age because in it people are as far away as possible from God. Hinduism often symbolically represents morality (dharma) as an Indian bull. In Satya Yuga, the first stage of development, the bull has four legs, but in each age morality is reduced by one quarter. By the age of Kali, morality is reduced to only a quarter of that of the golden age, so that the bull of Dharma has only one leg.
The Kali Yuga According to Hindu Scriptures
“It is the lowest instincts that stimulate the men of the Kali Yuga, they prefer false ideas, they do not hesitate to persecute the sages, desire torments them, neglect, illness, hunger, the fear spread. Severe droughts The different regions of the countries will oppose each other The sacred books will no longer be respected Men will not have morals, and will be irritable and sectarian False doctrines and misleading writings spread in the age of Kali People are afraid because they neglect the rules taught by the wise and do not perform the rites correctly anymore Many will perish The number of princes and farmers will gradually diminish The lower classes want to attribute real power and share knowledge, food and the beds of the old princes, most of the new leaders are of slave origin, they will persecute the priests and those who have wisdom. to fetuses and heroes. The slaves want to play the role of intellectuals, the intellectuals that of slaves. Thieves become kings and kings become thieves. Rare are virtuous women. Promiscuity extends. The stability and balance of castes and the ages of life disappear everywhere. The earth produces almost nothing in some places and produces a lot in others. The powerful take over public goods and stop protecting the people. Wise persons of low birth are honored as if they were Brahmans and deliver to people who are not worthy of it the dangerous secrets of the sciences. Teachers are debased by selling their knowledge. Many take refuge in a wandering life. At the end of the Yuga, the number of women increases and the number of men decreases. During the Age of Kali, the Great God, Shiva, the dark blue and red peacemaker, will be revealed to all under a disguise to restore justice. Those who go to him will be saved. At the end of the Yuga, the animals become violent, the number of cows decreases. Good men withdraw from public life. Market cooked foods are sold in the market square. Also the sacraments and religion are sold. The rain is erratic. The merchants dishonest.
People who beg or seek employment are becoming more numerous. Nobody stops using rude language, nobody keeps their word, everyone is envious. People without morals preach virtue to others. Censorship reigns. Criminal associations are formed in cities and towns. The water and the fruits will be lacking. Men will lose the sense of values. They will have belly aches and will have their hair in disarray. At the end of the Yuga, people will be born whose life expectancy will not reach sixteen. People will envy the clothes of others. The thieves will rob the thieves. Many will become lethargic and inactive, contagious diseases, rats and snakes will torment men. Men suffering from hunger and fear will find themselves on the banks of the Bengal River. Nobody will live longer than the normal duration of life, which is one hundred years. The rites will perish in the hands of men without virtues. People who practice errant rites will spread everywhere. Unskilled people will study the sacred texts and will be self-proclaimed expert. Men will kill each other and also kill children, women and cows. The wise will be condemned to death. However, some will reach perfection in a very short time. Excellent Brahmans will continue practicing the rites. “
Linga Purâna, II. Chapters. 39, 40.
End of Kali yuga Controversy
In all honesty there is wide controversy, between Astrologers, about the time the Kali Yuga will end, and even some Astronomers have jump into the fray!
Some say it already started in on 26th July 2014 at 3:11:00 p.m., others not until 2,025, and many others into different dates, as far as thousands of years into the future!
And frankly it will take too many pages to explain, and it will not be of interest to those who do not have a background in Astrology, or Astronomy, if you are interested on those details you can find your way through those arguments by navigating to such websites.
Some propose the date of 2025, and the object of my post, it’s to call attention to this not new, but coming our way Millenarianism phenomena, as we speak, too many argue we are in the Aquarius age, some deny it, or that if the Maya end cycle on 2012 year, had, or has any meaning?
We will not go into that, my objective is to relate to you what the ones who agree on 2025, have to say:
‘The timeline also indicates that the ascending Kali Yuga, which is the current epoch in which we are living, will end in 2025 CE. The full manifestation of the next Yuga – the ascending Dwapara – will take place in 2325 CE, after a transitional period of 300 years. The ascending Dwapara Yuga will then be followed by two more Yugas: the ascending Treta Yuga and the ascending Satya Yuga, which will complete the 12,000 year ascending cycle.’
The Mahabharata has also prophesied the same thing but with further elaborations on how conditions will be when Satya-Yuga or Krita-yuga begins again: “O descendant of Bharata, when at the appearance of the Krita Yuga, sin will thus be completely destroyed and virtue will flourish, men will again be engaged in religious rites. Well-planted gardens, sacrificial grounds, large tanks, Vedic schools and colleges, ponds and temples, will (all) reappear everywhere; various sacrifices will also begin to be performed at the appearance of the Krita age. Brahmans will be honest and good. Being devoted to asceticism, they will be Rishis (and wise sages). The hermitages occupied by the wicked wretches will once more be the homes of men devoted to Truth. Men in general will begin to honor and practice Truth. All seeds sown on earth will grow. O king of kings, every kind of crop will grow in every season. Men will devotedly practice charity, vows, and religious rites. The Brahmans, devoted to meditation and sacrifices (Vedic rituals), will be of virtuous soul and cheerful disposition. The kings will virtuously govern the earth. In the Satya yuga (Krita Yuga), the Vaishyas will devote themselves to trade, the Brahmans will be devoted to their six duties and the Kshatriyas will be devoted to the display of prowess (for the protection of the citizens). The Shudras will be devoted to the service of the other three orders. Such will be the Dharma in Satya yuga (Krita yuga), Treta yuga, and Dvapara Yugas.
Controversy about cycles are based on hypothetical theories, based on Sacred scriptures interpretations, so therefore, also subjective, to multiple interpretations, however also believe what some sages said regarding in what age we live.
‘Kali Yuga is for hypocrites and fools. They always live in it. The wise and the truthful always live in Satya Yuga.’
‘Try to lead a truthful life. Time cannot change us unless we try to change ourselves. Avoid foolish speculations and imaginations. Develop right discrimination and be wise. Then you always live in Satya Yuga.’
THE COMPLEXITY OF HISTORY, KNOWLEDGE & POWER, A SELECTIVE MEMORY TO REMEMBER HISTORY, THE WAY HOLLYWOOD MAKES MYTHS, A FEW EXAMPLES.
“Things are not always what they seem; the first appearance deceives many; the intelligence of a few perceives what has been carefully hidden.”
“Knowledge is Power.”
However political power often ignores expertise that contradicts it’s self portrayal and goals.
Knowledge does not automatically leads to power, and power not necessarily command, attracts, or produce knowledge.
And many prominent scholars have little power of their own, if not helped by powerful Institutions, or organizations.
I meant to add some quotes about History, but desisted, not for a lack of quotes about History, regardless of it, few I would choose, since they tend to be heroic, rather than truthful, the History of Mankind, had being a messy affair of wars, lies, deception, fraud, robbery, pillage, and substitution of truth, for epic lore, to aggrandize and make us believe our ancestors were great, and no scoundrels, who behaved not as honorable men do, but as common criminals.
And then they wrote their deeds as History, not what really happened, but what they wanted for us to believe was true.
Different people wrote diverse stories, then we pick sides, and argue who is right.
History a Complex Matter
You will think History to be a simple straightforward affair, just get the data, arrange it in a chronological order, and just start writing it.
If things will be so easy as that!
At first glance, writing about history can seem like an overwhelming task. History’s subject matter is immense, encompassing all of human affairs in the recorded past — up until the moment, that is, that you started reading this guide. Because no one person can possibly consult all of these records, no work of history can ever pretend to be comprehensive or universal. At the same time, history’s subject matter is partially irretrievable. Barring the invention of time travel, no scholar can experience the past firsthand or recreate its conditions in a laboratory setting. Historians must rely on the fragmentary records that survive from the time period under study, which necessarily reveal just part of the story. For these reasons, the guiding principles behind all historical writing must be selection and interpretation: the thoughtful selection of topics and questions that seem most interesting, and the responsible interpretation of sources in order to construct meaningful arguments. Subjective decisions about what to include, what to exclude, and how to understand it make history writing manageable in the first place. No less importantly, they also make it controversial, because scholars are bound to disagree with the judgments of other scholars. You can think of history writing, then, as an ongoing argument or debate over this unavoidable process of selection and interpretation. Your first challenge as a writer is to find a way to enter this conversation.
And that it’s just a starter, we could rise a hundred more issues!
“Getting history teachers to agree on pretty much anything, is quite difficult. If you ever want to see some ding-dongs between teaching staff, just sit in on a History Department meeting and watch the sparks fly.
I cannot imagine my colleagues from the Maths department slogging it out over Pythagoras’ Theorem or chemists disputing the periodic table. But, historians; yes, historians are hard work. Even when we agree on the evidence, we rarely agree on the evaluation or analysis of it.
Depending on the history teacher you had in front of you, Dunkirk was either a triumph or a humiliation. The British Empire was jolly good or rather awful. King John was a nice chap or a nasty piece of work. And, the First World War was either a total disaster in which millions of decent people were led to their slaughter by an “out of touch elite” or a just war that put an end to the imperialist ambitions of an autocrat and an attempt to stand up for the self-determination of the people of Europe.”
After reading History for years, which by the way it’s mainly the story of conflicts, invasions, wars, and the like, well, I am jaded, and disappointed by so much incomprehension, and taking sides from so many people around the World holding grudges, about what happened hundreds of years ago to their people, or Nations, and carrying hatred for perceived affronts towards people of other nations, who have changed through centuries, and may have little in common with their supposed ancestors.
And of course,
There it is Hollywood!
People still read, but seriously, very little, most mainly learn their History watching movies!
I guess this it’s not news to any of you, who seriously study History, to listen to someone who doesn’t, but commenting about this, or that movie, and how they learnt about a specific place, and moment of history, by watching a Hollywood, or British epic, or wherever the movie was made.
Now, maybe unknown to you, making a movie it’s a total professional business, were even the slightest of details are not left to chance, like using the wrong period lighter, to light a cigarette, or the attire doesn’t match the exact period it means to portray, in other words nothing it’s left to chance, not even the way extras walk in the set, and where they are looking at, in making a movie, many experts on their fields are involved, I used to work in a place where the prop departments of movie studios will come looking for specific items they required to make a movie, stuff that you wouldn’t even notice, in the brief second they would appear in the movie.
However I have to say most film makers, care too much about giving us the ambiance of the period in question, but very little of telling us real History!
They just go along with the script, provided and approved, by whoever created the movie, and it’s responsible for the financial success of the project, that not necessarily reflect the views of the book author, if the movie it’s based in one.
Historians argue about facts, accuracy, reliability, and many other issues, movie directors creates a fantasy to sell, with little regard of Historical accuracy in the tale they make, period.
Recently a fellow blogger complained about how everybody judge Admiral Nelson as a great Historical figure, no doubt, he was, that even a movie of his Lady mistress Lady Hamilton was made, but I dare you to tell me who Blas de Lezo y Olabarrieta was?
Well for that you will have to read History.
“If Blas de Lezo were American, or English, his story would have been told hundreds of times in novels, movies and all kinds of media and formats. It would be a David Crockett or a Nelson. But he was a Spaniard or, rather, half Spanish, because he left so many pieces of his body in battle that he was called ‘Half man’. However, he was a complete hero, without cracks or shrinkage.”
Myths of the Old West
We know about William Henry McCarthy known better as Billy the kid, he was an American cowboy originally born in Manhattan, of all places, who ended up creating a legend by becoming an outlaw after shooting eight people and being shot himself at 21 years of age, or Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp, a US Marshall assistant, of the famous OK Corral gunfight, little known about him was that he was a professional gambler, a brothel keeper, and bar owner, as well as a pimp, and himself on many occasions, not so clearly on the side of law, Wyatt Earp and few other derelicts, seedy, and criminal characters, were able to make a career as outlaws, moving constantly into marginal towns, in the territories, not yet States, away from populated places, where that type of behavior would not be tolerated, and the reason they moved constantly, in search of new prey, and impunity. The safest way was by being officers of the law, when they could take that kind of job, easier on those days, at those places, or just running away when it was necessary!
Cowboys exalted in countless movies, as the spirit of American pioneers, and the legend of the indomitable old West, and the cowboy, a period that lasted no more than 25 years, before the railroad in 1869 took over, and the great cattle drives through the prairies where over, and law, order, and property rights were enforced, from coast to coast, except for isolated, and inhospitable places like Tombstone Arizona, a miner boom town, whose only existence today, it’s to perpetuate the OK Corral gunfight of yore, it was a 30-second shootout between lawmen and members of a loosely organized group of outlaws called the Cowboys that took place at about 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 26, 1881, and many claim it wasn’t at all as portrayed in countless movies, some accuse the Earp clan as low class criminals, and the Earp-Clanton differences as the falling-out of partners in crime, and the whole affair at the OK Corral as an ambush of the Earp, against the Clanton gang.
In all honesty, there’s tons of controversy about Wyatt Earp, to put all things clear, however I will go with Western historian and author John Boessenecker who in my opinion goes lightly, and benevolent, on the side of being cautious, and fair, when so much dirt has been wrote about Earp, as when he describes Earp as an “enigmatic figure … He always lived on the outer fringe of respectable society, and his closest companions were gamblers and sporting men … Wyatt never set down roots in any one place; when the money stopped coming in or his problems became too great, he would pull up stakes and move on to the next boom town … For his entire life was a gamble, an effort to make money without working hard for it, to succeed quickly without ever settling in for the long haul.”
He omitted as companions, outlaws, prostitutes, pimps, conman, drunks, and rustlers.
Well, the period in question didn’t last long, the expansion of people Westward, the railroad, and with it law and order, put an end to the Wild West epic period for good, Wyatt Earp himself ending as a Real State salesman in San Diego County, in Southern California, and dying in Los Angeles in 1929, promoting his image to Hollywood.
On The other Hand
Of course, we know almost nothing of the previous 350 years, when the Spanish brought without fanfare, or movies, to depict us, the culture of cattle ranching, and expert horsemanship, that the cowboys learned from the humble vaqueros, mostly half bloods of Indian, and Spaniard, the original cowboys, and extending all through Northern Mexico, and the South West before America took it over in 1848, in the Mexican war, not to talk about the original Indian people, who lived all through America before the arrival of the white settlers, who almost exterminated them, or confined them to reservations, talk about Genocide, and selective memory to do History!
And a force to reckon, were the Mestizo vaqueros, who in California defeated the US Army three times. First lead by Gen José María Flores Californios, (at the time Mexican citizens) retake Los Angeles, Second, defeat and capture of 24 Americans, led by Benjamin D. Wilson, who were hiding in an adobe house in Rancho Santa Ana del Chino, near present-day Chino, California, and the Battle or Rancho Dominguez, Californios, led by José Antonio Carrillo, defeat 203 US Marines led by U.S. Navy Captain William Mervine. Mainly through expert horsemanship, and using long lances, one old brass canon, and a few old muskets.
History is Selective
Well, just recalling a few incidents of History it’s clear that if you want to learn the truth, you cannot be selective, but unfortunately most of History it’s biased, and full of gaps, in actuality it’s more like focusing your attention on a specific place of time, and from a particular point of view, to tell whatever you may find useful to elucidate your main argument, leaving aside what in your judgment may not care to expose.
And I do not care what you may choose to fix your attention, unfortunately most of us, individual humans, we belong to a race, country, are politically inclined, and posses particularly given attributes who define you, possessing a Weltanschauung, a particular Worldview, before we can’t even go into any claim of neutrality to elucidate any argument.
History is Written by the Victors
One of the most unfortunate and widely-accepted ideas about historical thinking is that “history is written by the victors.” This talking point asserts that the truth of the past is not shaped by reasoned interpretive historical scholarship or a factual understanding of the past, but by the might of political and cultural leaders on the “winning” side of history; the “winners” have the power to shape historical narratives through school textbooks, public iconography, movies, and a range of other mediums. To be sure, these mediums are powerful venues for establishing political ideologies and shaping personal assumptions about the way the world works. And it’s definitely true that governmental or “official” entities can and do exploit this power to achieve their own ends. Well to be fair it’s not always the case, there’s exceptions, and of course what we name Revisionist versions, but I would just say that History it’s not a straightforward affair by any means, and even digging deeper, we may never learn the whole truth of it.
Tear down pyramids, wipe out cities!
How dare you and the rest of your
barbarians set fire to my library?
Play conqueror all you want,
Rape, murder, pillage thousands,
millions of human beings.
But neither you nor
any other barbarian…
…has the right to destroy
one human thought!
When young at school in early age I learnt about the Alexandria library, something that as a young reader excited my imagination , and saw the burning of the library of Alexandria as such a tragedy. It was one of the greatest libraries in human history, holding a vast archive of manuscripts and books from all over the ancient world, and what our ancients would have themselves considered ancient. It was built after the famous Alexander the Great conquered Egypt and acquired knowledge from all parts of the globe. From East to West, the teachings of multiple civilizations throughout human history up to that time could be found in the great library.
The books contained in this library touched upon every subject that concerns humanity, from health, science, and astronomy to geology, philosophy, mysticism, magic, knowledge of the spiritual world, and much more.
Libraries as such were well known to multiple ancient civilizations in Egypt, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, Syria, and Greece, who were very impressed by Oriental knowledge. There is literary evidence of Greek individuals visiting Egypt specifically to acquire knowledge:e.g., Herodotus, Plato (particularly in Phaedrus and Timaeus), Theophrastus, and Eudoxus of Cnidus (as detailed by Diogenes Laërtius in the 3rd century CE).
The Royal Library of Alexandria or Ancient Library of Alexandria
Alexandria, Egypt, was one of the largest and most significant libraries of the ancient world. It was dedicated to the Muses, the nine goddesses of the arts. It flourished under the patronage of the Ptolemaic dynasty and functioned as a major center of scholarship from its construction in the 3rd century BC until the Roman conquest of Egypt in 30 BC, with collections of works, lecture halls, meeting rooms, and gardens. Alexandria was considered the capital of knowledge and learning, in part because of the Great Library. The library was part of a larger research institution called the Musaeum of Alexandria, where many of the most famous thinkers of the ancient world studied.
The library was created by Ptolemy I Soter, who was a Macedonian general and the successor of Alexander the Great. Most of the books were kept as papyrus scrolls. It is unknown precisely how many such scrolls were housed at any given time, but estimates range from 40,000 to 400,000 at its height.
Arguably, this library is most famous for having been burned down resulting in the loss of many scrolls and books; its destruction has become a symbol for the loss of cultural knowledge. Sources differ on who was responsible for its destruction and when it occurred. The library may in truth have suffered several fires over many years. In addition to fires, at least one earthquake damaged the city and the library during this time. Possible occasions for the partial or complete destruction of the Library of Alexandria include a fire set by the army of Julius Caesar in 48 BC and an attack by Aurelian in the 270s AD.
Well, as a child I cried the loss of the library, as much as Shakespeare did, and I am sure, as much, as every other bibliophile in history, since so many years ago.
The New Library
The idea of reviving the old library dates back to 1974, when a committee set up by Alexandria University selected a plot of land for its new library, between the campus and the seafront, close to where the ancient library once stood. The notion of recreating the ancient library was adopted by other individuals and agencies. One leading supporter of the project was former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak; UNESCO was also quick to embrace the concept of endowing the Mediterranean region with a center of cultural and scientific excellence. An architectural design competition was organized by UNESCO in 1988 to choose a design worthy of the site and its heritage. The competition was won by Snøhetta, a Norwegian architectural office, from among more than 1,400 entries. The first pledges were made for funding the project at a conference held in 1990 in Aswan: USD $65 million, mostly from the Arab states. Construction work began in 1995 and, after some USD $220 million had been spent, the complex was officially inaugurated on 16 October 2002.
The Bibliotheca Alexandrina is trilingual, containing books in Arabic, English, and French. In 2010, the library received a donation of 500,000 books from the National Library of France, Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF). The gift makes the Bibliotheca Alexandrina the sixth-largest Francophone library in the world. The BA also is now the largest depository of French books in the Arab world, surpassing those of Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, in addition to being the main French library in Africa.
Building and library features
The dimensions of the project are vast: the library has shelf space for eight million books, with the main reading room covering 20,000 square meters (220,000 sq ft) on eleven cascading levels. The complex also houses a conference center; specialized libraries for maps, multimedia, the blind and visually impaired, young people, and for children; four museums; four art galleries for temporary exhibitions; 15 permanent exhibitions; a planetarium; and a manuscript restoration laboratory. The library’s architecture is equally striking. The main reading room stands beneath a 32-meter-high glass-paneled roof, tilted out toward the sea like a sundial, and measuring some 160 m in diameter. The walls are of gray Aswan granite, carved with characters from 120 different human scripts.
The collections at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina were donated from all over the world. The Spanish donated documents that detailed their period of Moorish rule. The French also donated, giving the library documents dealing with the building of the Suez Canal.
Why don’t you ask it, to your Magic Mirror?
Ironically in the course of my life, since the days I felt sadness as many before me, for such loss, now day things have changed to the point, where libraries are not even fashionable, and some may question their value, as a public service, since we live in the digital age, with computers, and the Internet, libraries are mainly museums to the past, despite being one, of the now rapidly diminishing amount of people, who prefer to hold a paper book in my hands, rather than a tablet, or read it on my computer screen.
Which take me to another issue, the many times, I have to remind people who carry the library of my childhood dreams, at the tip of their fingertips, and still ask me all sort of questions, and I remind them often with these words:
Why don’t you ask it, to your Magic Mirror?
You got no idea, the many puzzlement faces I got to see, until, suddenly they catch my meaning, and reach for their phone!
Like Magic, doesn’t it?
The magic Wonder, of wonders, who, could have told me then?
The wondrous Magic mirror, of the evil Queen, Merlin’s amazing crystal, gazing ball, right there, at the fingertips, of every Tom, Dick and Harry, all these, numberless, absent minded people, who use it for trivial things, like chatting, texting, exchanging jokes, and some no better, than the evil Queen, as a mere vanity tool, instead of a new depository of wisdom like the ancient Alexandria library of yore.
To each his own…I guess.
AMERICA THE LAND OF WEIRD POLITICS, EXCEPTIONALISM, AND OF COURSE, THE REST OF US, AND THOSE WHO WHO SUFFER IT
Everything that everyone is afraid of has already happened: The fragility of capitalism, which we don’t want to admit; the loss of the empire of the United States; and American exceptionalism. In fact, American exceptionalism is that we are exceptionally backward in about fifteen different categories, from education to infrastructure.
American exceptionalism? Exceptional at what? Waging wars against innocent people for fake reasons? Exceptional at what? Being addicted to pharmaceutical drugs that have people’s minds wasted? Exceptional at what? Eating more junk food and becoming the most obese nation on Earth?
American exceptionalism is the recurring character in the nation’s narrative.
It is not that I am not a fan of American exceptionalism. That is like saying I am not a fan of the moon being made out of green cheese-it does not exist. Powerful states have quite typically considered themselves to be exceptionally magnificent, and the United States is no exception to that. The basis for it is not very substantial to put it politely.
The conservative version of American exceptionalism has become a password of sorts for candidates who want to prove their credentials to a right-wing America.
[American exceptionalism] is a reaction to the inability of people to understand global complexity or important issues like American energy dependency. Therefore, they search for simplistic sources of comfort and clarity. And the people that they are now selecting to be, so to speak, the spokespersons of their anxieties are, in most cases, stunningly ignorant.
The idea of American exceptionalism doesn’t extend to Americans being exceptional.
There are also fundamental issues related to what the current leader, President [Barack] Obama, said. I am referring to his idea about American exceptionalism. I am skeptical about this idea.
Christian nation mythologists pump themselves up with narratives of American exceptionalism and Christian domination. But sooner or later even their most devoted followers should begin to see that also depicting it as vulnerable to non-existent threats undermines the myth itself.
I think where [Donald Trump] loses most hawkish republicans is when he talking about how much he likes [Vladimir] Putin. That should make any person who believe in the American exceptionalism, incredibly uncomfortable.
People get tired of talking about American exceptionalism, but I think this is an extraordinary thing about the United States, that we are a nation of immigrants, first of all, that is built upon a pluralistic society of native people that were here to begin with. The issue of diversity is really with us from the beginning.
Diana L. Eck
We have had a long held myth of American exceptionalism.
American patriotism is now jingoism. American Greatness is made fun of. The concept of “Make America Great Again” or American exceptionalism is lampooned. It is impugned. It is attacked. The effort to globalize our society and make us feel, as many of us as possible, that there’s nothing special about being an American, that we ought to think of ourselves as citizens of the world, and in that context America is a problem because we have too much, we’ve done too much, we owe too much, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
It’s a deft trick to turn American exceptionalism into an exceptional political tactic.
We are going to lead once again by being the best. We’re gonna lead economically. We’re gonna lead technologically. We’re gonna go back to the Moon, we’re gonna do whatever we’re gonna do. We are going to lead by engaging in American exceptionalism and this is going to inspire others to come along with us. We’re not shrinking away from anybody. We are reengaging. That’s what Trump is, and that’s what Democrats don’t see.
“Well, I learned a lot….I went down to (Latin America) to find out from them and (learn) their views. You’d be surprised. They’re all individual countries.” President Ronald Reagan
America a great Nation
Now there’s no doubt in my mind, America it’s a great Nation, build on new ideas, new principles, like all men are equal, freedom, the constitution, our Founding Fathers, men of great vision, with a great past, and great accomplishments to be proud of.
However we can’t go on living from past glories, just the way we cannot live from the money we inherited from our grandfathers, when we spend it already.
Each generation has the moral duty to be great, we can’t go on living in what we were, but in who we are now, and what we got, already we have spent our capital, things have changed, and it’s time to begin again.
I got to confess before coming to America my experience in politics was one of abstention, and skepticism when it come to politicians, and knew nothing of American politics.
Well, that had changed a little bit, still need to learn a lot, but my skepticism about politicians and the value of their word, remain unchanged.
As an anecdote when looking for quotes about exceptionalism, not surprising Rush Limbaugh had many, a character with a lot of followers in America, but plagued by a lousy reputation for veracity, and accuracy, basically an ideologist of the far right.
“I Used To Think It Was Funny: Before the Right Wing Media Supplanted Moderate-Conservativism, Created an Ideological Monopoly, and Became a De-facto Propaganda Arm for the Extreme Right’s Agenda.”
When I first got here, I was baffled about the difference between Republicans, and Democrats, to me, they didn’t seem that different, today even less! And what I gather, it’s that the Democrats with the years, in the effort of pleasing the jingoistic masses, and Capital, had lost their old values and become closer to the right way of thinking, as opposed to their traditional left views of being there for the little guy, in a country where the word Left, no longer means what it used to be, but become a vilified word by the media, who of course paid by big money works tirelessly to make it so. And why not say it, Democrats leaders had abandoned those ideals, courting the almighty dollar, and become too fond of realpolitiks as defined by the dictionary:
‘A system of politics or principles based on practical rather than moral or ideological considerations.’
It is often simply referred to as pragmatism in politics, e.g. “pursuing pragmatic policies”. The term Realpolitik is sometimes used pejoratively to imply politics that are perceived as coercive, amoral, or Machiavellian.
On the other side
Most people who follow politics are aware that something unusual is going on in the Republican party — unusual relative to major conservative parties in other developed democracies and unusual relative to American history. GOP leaders no longer appear in control of their own agenda. Instead, they are being dragged from crisis to failure to embarrassment and back to crisis by the most extreme elements of their coalition. The far right has captured the party.
Here are some opinions of what’s going on in a forum:
‘They are becoming too intrusive and extreme like the far right did in Germany.
They are doing what Nazis did and taking control of peoples private rights (women’s reproductive rights). They are forcing their religious values by making laws based on them. They are intolerant of anyone that is NOT white. They spread lies and propaganda just like the Nazis. They are trying to destroy government and take over with privatization and a feudal system of economics. They pledge oaths to unelected politicians (Grover Norquist/a Muslim sympathizer, married to one). They are isolationist. They are taking dictator-type control over cities in states like MI and their rights to elect who they want. Election Rigging and they are very scary. They want to destroy education and want to rid the country of the elderly and poor and non-white people.’
‘Yes the Republican Party are acting more and more like fascists
They don’t listen to what anyone has to say. It is their way or the highway. They believe it is fine to disrespect the President and office of the Presidency. They feel that the old way is the glory way. They long to go back to a time where women were subservient and stayed home and had babies. They act as though they are the only game in town. They are bigoted, hypocrites that want you to do as they say not as they do. They would love to turn the world back to the 1950’s where the women wore pearls and only said perky things. And Father only knew best. They have done nothing positive for anyone but themselves since they have been in power. We can only hope they go the way of the dinosaur.’
‘The extreme right of the Republican are not conservatives, they are Fascists.
Fascism of any shade has certain common core characteristics:
2. Sexism and Misogyny
3. Strong mixture of state and religion
5. Protection of the cooperate class
6. Disregard of Human rights when deemed necessary
7. Fraudulent elections through use of powerful monied interests, gerrymandering, and voting suppression and intimidation.’
Comparisons are Hateful, but Necessary, the fact America it’s no longer Number one.
I kind of smile at the duplicity of our media, every so often, there’s an article on the newspapers where Norway it’s listed as: Norway ranked as the best place to live in the United Nation’s annual Human Development Report. It ranked the highest out of nearly 200 countries, forgetting to mention to the many readers, what was our actual rank, most people write comments indignant believing we are naturally the second behind Norway, by omission (not mentioning our rank) they lie of course, maintaining the illusion we are right behind when in fact in 2017 ranked in the eleventh place!
The Human poverty Index we are rated even lower; seventeen.
Quality of life Index: Sixteen
For many decades throughout the 20th century, the United States was recognized as having the highest standard of living in the world. Per capita income is high but also less evenly distributed than in most other developed countries; as a result, the United States fares particularly well in measures of average material well being that do not place weight on equality aspects.
In other words, if based on an individual count, rather than on an average of the highest, with the lowest, we will rate even far lower, which means a lot of people actually live way far below of sixteen, sad but true, it’s a fact our cities had deteriorated, their infrastructure, as well as our jobs, and living standards, we still live pretty well if compared to so named third World countries, but we no longer can claim top honors.
The number of homeless people grew in the 1980s, as housing and social service cuts increased. After many years of advocacy and numerous revisions, President Ronald Reagan signed into law the McKinney–Vento Homeless Assistance Act in 1987; this remains the only piece of federal legislation that allocates funding to the direct service of homeless people. Over the past decades, the availability and quality of data on homelessness has improved considerably. About 1.56 million people, or about 0.5% of the U.S. population, used an emergency shelter or a transitional housing program between October 1, 2008 and September 30, 2009. Homelessness in the United States increased after the Great Recession.
I guess depends much where you live, to be a witness, and feel the effect of it, at least visually, and worst, if you are one of the ones suffering it, but in the big cities it’s just another fact of life.
Now, I am not talking out of my liberal heart, as some may think, just to criticize how bad the homeless problem is, I did ride three of the mos busiest bus lines, and the metro Red line in the city of Los Angeles, and I can tell you horror stories a mile long about the problems of sharing a ride with many of the homeless, that by the way, have free unrestricted access to the services, and rightly so, many times they use it as a home, or shelter, and some misbehave greatly, creating mayhem, and inconveniencing many other riders, few even dangerous, a daily reminder of what is wrong in America.
Some personal friends of mine, at work would patiently listen to my ‘Baba’s’ stories, as named by them, (like in India graciously name mendicants ) about my daily rides, and laugh about my adventures, it was fun for them to listen, but I assure you, most of the time, it wasn’t fun for me, or the many riders who just wanted a peaceful, and uneventful ride to work, or back home after a day of toll at work. The idea of writing a chapter on a book dedicated to the encounters, and many incidents I witness over those twenty two years, had crossed my mind, a close friend even got the idea of making a coffee table book with the pictures, and the many stories, with a title like: Meetings with Remarkable Babas!
And to the surprise of the many European tourist, and the many following conversations, I had with them about the disparity between the wealth of the surroundings, and the sad scenes witnessed by them on the rides, and in the streets, of some of our wealthiest communities, their expression usually was: ‘Such a shame.’
And I will not touch on this post mass shootings, and gun control issues, a great tragedy, but also a fact of life in America.
Yes, I agree, a real shame.
The late George Carlin
May 12, 1937 – June 22, 2008
A good tune, and nice Rhymes, do not make a song True.
Most astrologers claim that Jesus commenced the Pisces age and most people believe the Age of Aquarius commenced in the 1960s and 70s. However how can both these facts be true if ages are at least 2150 years in length? Most projections of what we can expect in the Age of Aquarius is a paradisaical age free from all the problems that have encumbered the world in recent millennia. Are your Aquarian friends perfect? Do they stand out as superior to the other 12 signs of the zodiac? Why should the Age of Aquarius be more positive than any other age?
The Age of Aquarius has become an urban legend ever since the theatrical production of Hair proclaimed “This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius ….” Most newspapers and comments on blogs clearly relate the dawning of the Age of Aquarius to the 1960’s and 70’s when Hair first appeared. Many people are so disappointed with the direction the world has taken since those inspiring times (for some) of the 60’s and 70’s to the point where the sentiment has become `where is the goddamned Age of Aquarius anyway?’ Some journalists even state that the Age of Aquarius was a 20 year phenomenon applying only the 1960s and 70s and has now died an ignoble death.
“The Age of Aquarius” or “Let the Sunshine In“
Astrologer Neil Spencer denounced the lyrics as “astrological gibberish”, noting that Jupiter aligns with Mars several times a year (which doesn’t make sense either, since Mars’ orbital year is 687 days) and the moon is in the 7th House for two hours every day. These lines are considered by many to be merely poetic license, though some people take them literally.
In truth there seems little to be positive in our future, All we got to do is to listen, or watch the news, to put us in a somber mood.
Good news stories don’t sell so this list is almost guaranteed to get next to no views. But, despite the deluge of bad news stories that hit us every day there is plenty to be positive about and we think it’s worth putting something out there that challenges the medias bad new bias.
The world is very different in this Aquarian age to date compared to the known historical events of any other age. No other age has seen the human population anywhere near current levels. In no other age could humans light up the world at night (with Aquarius electricity) so that it is observable from space. In no other age could some people fly, watch TV and have all the labor savings devices available in this modern Age of Aquarius. In no other age has any human walked on the Moon.
What is noticeable to date from the Aquarian age is that the benefits seem much greater compared to previous ages and the problems see much greater compared to earlier ages. This in itself satisfies the Aquarian archetype that it must be somehow fundamentally different to other ages.
The Age of Aquarius is not going to save the world. The Age of Aquarius it may rise your consciousness, it may not. The future of the world depends upon the sum of all the people in the world. It is what all the people in the world do that will make things happen. Judging by its track record to date, the problems and benefits in the Age of Aquarius will be much greater than previous. However, there is every reason to believe from the evidence provided by astrology that in this age of uncertainty, there is a much higher chance than normal that the world is heading for a mini-golden age associated with the Libra age-decan of the Age of Aquarius that will be firmly in place as the years, slowly but surely advance, hey I am old enough to remember the sixties!
In astrology, a decan is the subdivision of an astrological sign (zodiac sign). … Each sign is allocated a triplicity, consisting of three of the four classical elements air, water, earth or fire, and is therefore subdivided into three equal parts of 10 degrees each; these parts are referred to as decans or decanates.
And a man’s life it’s brief!
Uranus Ruler of Aquarius
Uranus had been observed on many occasions before its recognition as a planet, but it was generally mistaken for a star. Possibly the earliest known observation was by Hipparchos, who in 128 BC might have recorded it as a star for his star catalogue that was later incorporated into Ptolemy’s Almagest.]The earliest definite sighting was in 1690, when John Flamsteed observed it at least six times, cataloguing it as 34 Tauri. The French astronomer Pierre Charles Le Monnier observed Uranus at least twelve times between 1750 and 1769,including on four consecutive nights.
Sir William Herschel observed Uranus on 13 March 1781 from the garden of his house at 19 New King Street in Bath, Somerset, England (now the Herschel Museum of Astronomy), and initially reported it (on 26 April 1781) as a comet. Herschel “engaged in a series of observations on the parallax of the fixed stars”,using a telescope of his own design.
Herschel recorded in his journal: “In the quartile near ζ Tauri … either [a] Nebulous star or perhaps a comet.” On 17 March he noted: “I looked for the Comet or Nebulous Star and found that it is a Comet, for it has changed its place.” When he presented his discovery to the Royal Society, he continued to assert that he had found a comet, but also implicitly compared it to a planet.
Although Herschel continued to describe his new object as a comet, other astronomers had already begun to suspect otherwise. Finnish-Swedish astronomer Anders Johan Lexell, working in Russia, was the first to compute the orbit of the new object. Its nearly circular orbit led him to a conclusion that it was a planet rather than a comet. Berlin astronomer Johann Elert Bode described Herschel’s discovery as “a moving star that can be deemed a hitherto unknown planet-like object circulating beyond the orbit of Saturn”. Bode concluded that its near-circular orbit was more like a planet than a comet.
This planet (as well Neptune and Pluto) are associated with the unseen aspects of life. Uranus’ domain is akin to that of future-forward Aquarius, the star sign that rules scientific inventions, electricity, innovation and technology. These are all things that require us to stretch beyond our vision and lean in to belief. For example, we might not be able to prove the Uranian, but we feel a certainty about its existence. Even the Internet—which is Uranus’ domain—is a form of virtual reality, if you think about it.
In mythology, Uranus is known as Father Sky who bore children with Gaia, aka. Mother Earth. This is the planet that rules outer space and aeronautics and shows where we want to fly free—without restriction! (Gravity…what’s that?!) Given these liberated vibes, it’s no surprise that parenting did not come naturally to the Uranus of lore. Legend has it that Father Sky was cruel to his children, burying some in the earth and banishing others. Saturn, one of his sons, even castrated Uranus out of revenge, and Venus was born out of the sea, were Uranus testicles were tossed.
What it’s there to be positive?
Well, after unabated bad news, a bad economy, if you are not part of the infamous 1%, and I seriously doubt that, despite a total unenlightened political leadership, almost worldwide there it seems very few things you may feel worth to be happy to celebrate a New year.
But I said we will end in a positive note, and that I will do!
First we are still alive, second all the bad stuff hasn’t sip out my will to live and keep fighting, for whatever it’s just, and wise, regardless of the odds, and if you are reading this, right now you are probably in better shape I am, and I am willing yet to put a fight, hopefully, so do you!
There are people like us all over the world. You can find your ‘family’ online.
There is always a way. Always.
If you haven’t find it , keep looking!
We have been through a lot of hard times, and somehow we still standing, there’s no reason that if we keep the fight, things would go always the wrong way, finally our day of victory will come up, if you have not giving up, the fight it’s not over, period.
God loves you no matter what! With that knowledge, there is always hope!
There’s still Kindness, Joy, Grace, Love, and Mercy, go there find it, or give it out to someone, spread the good stuff.
My best wishes to you all, you deserve a great New Year!
“It is not conflict of opinions that has made history so violent but conflict of belief in opinions, that is to say conflict of convictions.”
Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human.
When in my late teens, the books of Friedriech Nietzsche started to circulate with those students between us who undeservedly, thought ourselves, at such young age as ‘intellectuals.’
I smile now at our arrogance, and ignorance, at such young age, but vividly remember using the title of Nietzsche’s book, Human, All Too Human: A book for free spirits.’ Very often with condescending ironic tone, and a smile, when we heard, or witnessed, some stupidity, or act of ignorance, committed by whoever, or whatever event provoked us, empathizing the words; Human all too Human!
In accordance with the old Latin Proverb: Errare humanum est. ‘To err is human, but to persist in error (out of pride) is diabolical.’
Sadly, we never had to wait too long without having a chance to use it!
It’s common knowledge now day to see our World as chaotic, and a mess out of control, and we despair at the thought Mankind may not be around for too long if we persist to be ignorant of the problems we are constantly creating, and that have global repercussions, with few solutions in sight.
We even wonder what is at the root of these problems, and some of us we even choose far fetch reasons of our choosing, according to our own weakness, and proclivities, as our beliefs in opinions as Nietzsche’s quote above.
In the classic movie my dinner with Andre(1981) the following conversation took place:
”I think it’s quite possible that the 1960s represented the last burst of the human being before it was extinguished, and that this is the beginning of the rest of the future now. That from now on, there will simply be all these robots walking around – feeling nothing, thinking nothing, and that there will be nobody left almost to remind them that there once was a species called a human being with feelings and thoughts, and that history and memory are right now being erased and that soon nobody will really remember that life existed on the planet.”
– Andre, My Dinner With Andre
Our Many Maladies
There’s hundreds of people who have compiled lists with titles as: 50 reasons why Humans are too stupid to survive, or a 100 reasons, and have little faith Men will accomplish anything but annihilation not only of the Human race, but of the World we all live in , as well.
Reasons too long to list here, and redundant, all we got to do in the morning when we wake up is to turn on the news, and a good reason why for many years I now do not care to follow the news, but occasionally, and not very often, you could say I pick, and choose+ the events I care to watch.
Also occasionally I am baffled by some new idea of why we are all walking like lemmings to our doom, when talking to particular individuals with wacky ideas, or even bright, and intelligent but with far fetch reasons, they read here, or there, some even as bold to be the creators of such idea. No need to say more; if like me you are exposed to talk with all sort of people, I am sure you have heard it all, and as the days roll along, more keep coming!
What it’s rare, are those who have anything positive to say, and we may even look at them as people with good intentions, but too naive.
As to why we seem unable in almost every place, and age in time to learn from History lessons baffle many of us, and therefore the multiple explanations people come with.
Ockham’s razor; Latin: lex parsimoniae “law of parsimony“) is a problem-solving principle attributed to William of Ockham (c. 1287–1347), who was an English Franciscan friar, scholastic philosopher, and theologian. His principle states that among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.
In science, Occam’s razor is used as a heuristic guide in the development of theoretical models, rather than as a rigorous arbiter between candidate models. In the scientific method, Occam’s razor is not considered an irrefutable principle of logic or a scientific result; the preference for simplicity in the scientific method is based on the falsifiability criterion. For each accepted explanation of a phenomenon, there may be an extremely large, perhaps even incomprehensible, number of possible and more complex alternatives. Since one can always burden failing explanations with ad hoc hypotheses to prevent them from being falsified, simpler theories are preferable to more complex ones because they are more testable.
In few words Occam’s razor, is not infallible, but it has become a very reliable tool to cut the B.S. out of Science. When investigating a theory, and the feasibility of it, as a fact, Occam’s razor it’s hard to beat.
A simpler explanation, most of the time comes to be the correct answer.
And the great thing about it, is that the solution to what it seems subjective, and complex issues of sometimes unfathomable nature, they posses a simple explanation.
For a brief time in History, it seems to be periods of greatness, and enlightened men who guide us through the stormy Oceans of life, just to fade into oblivion and we are faced with new, and never ending problems of many kinds., and most people wish new champions, or at least one, a giant between men, a Messiah may arise, and like a bridge over troubled waters may guide us to safety.
Abdicating in that way on our personal responsibility, at the state of affairs of the World, true, you can be a very nice guy, or gal, but you rather have someone else doing the job for you, of cleaning up the mess!
If we look for a culprit, we no longer need to look for specifics, we are in the state we are thanks to our collective ignorance.
Unfortunately Darwin’s theory of Evolution explain our biological evolution, but has little to do with our Human condition as social individuals, who require to be taught since the moment we are born to become decent, and useful citizens of the community, or place we live in.
We know now that about one child in a thousand, however, is born with no ability to hear whatsoever. Years ago such people were called deaf-mutes. Often they were considered retarded, and in a sense they were: they’d never learned language, a process that primes the pump for much later development. The critical age range seems to be 21 to 36 months. During this period children pick up the basics of language easily, and in so doing establish essential cognitive infrastructure. Later on it’s far more difficult. If the congenitally deaf aren’t diagnosed before they start school, they may face severe learning problems for the rest of their lives, even if in other respects their intelligence is normal.
And so my argument is we need to learn our social skills, and to be virtuous, like almost everything else, since it’s not a given!
Learning it’s consilient, we build like a wall with bricks, through our life, since early childhood, to old age.
And the reason why Humanity never seem to progress historically speaking, since every individual regardless has to start from zero, and learning it’s a process that it ends with death, not with certain age, and I do need to tell you this, you all know it, some people it’s more ignorant than others, because what the individual has learned through his/her life. And society it’s as good as the sum of it’s Wisdom, a poor amount of wise individuals over a majority of ignorant people, do not reflect good at the state of society, period.
Knowledge and Wisdom
Knowledge it’s acquired with teaching, and schooling, Wisdom it’s shown by our behavior, in how we apply what we have learnt.
We want a better World, we need a better society, we want a better society, equals better individuals, we want better individuals, they need to be taught, more education, less evils, like violence, war, poverty, crime, and less ignorant people.
And we cannot slack on it, as we are currently doing, and no, it’s shouldn’t be about money, and a privilege for the few, but about the right of the individual to have an inalienable right to education, at all levels, and World governments around the globe should be hold responsible, and accountable of doing so.
Even with a great education, I do not believe we will be free of problems, however I know we will be a lot better.
Acquiring Knowledge, and Wisdom should be a priority of our existence, like in the Greek word Arete, or moral virtues, Knowledge, and Wisdom are the sinequanone in all Sacred Paths, I have talked about that abundantly in many past posts, so I would not do it here.
“Once, a long time ago, there was a wise Zen master. People from far and near would seek his counsel and ask for his wisdom. Many would come and ask him to teach them, enlighten them in the way of Zen. He seldom turned any away.
One day an important man, a man used to command and obedience came to visit the master. “I have come today to ask you to teach me about Zen. Open my mind to enlightenment.” The tone of the important man’s voice was one used to getting his own way.
The Zen master smiled and said that they should discuss the matter over a cup of tea. When the tea was served the master poured his visitor a cup. He poured and he poured and the tea rose to the rim and began to spill over the table and finally onto the robes of the wealthy man. Finally the visitor shouted, “Enough. You are spilling the tea all over. Can’t you see the cup is full?”
The master stopped pouring and smiled at his guest. “You are like this tea cup, so full that nothing more can be added. Come back to me when the cup is empty. Come back to me with an empty mind.”
This teaching it’s so famous, and well known, that now it’s almost trivial, and yet the opportunity to be applied in today’s World at large, is practically endless!
A less well known phrase is Shoshin (初心) is a word from Zen Buddhism which means “beginner’s mind“. It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would. The term is especially used in the study of Zen Buddhism and Japanese Martial Arts.
The well known Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki said:
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”
Changing People’s Minds
The famous french woman writer Anais Nin once said: “we don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.” To see things as they are, instead of how we are, it requires leaving preconceptions behind, a receptive open mind, quieting of the ego, and a cultivation of the beginner’s mind.
We live in a political system known as democracy, even if it’s just a name, not a reality, and we feel, are entitled to our own opinions, and we see fit free to express it, regardless if we cannot add a single thing that can make any sense, or if it’s needed, when out of politeness people do not say nothing to avoid confrontations, despite the stupidity a particular individual may show.
One of the greatest tasks you can ever start, it’s to change people’s mind regarding any subject, a thing most of us avoid at all cost, we rather avoid the person in question than trying to set him straight.
We have made phrases of wisdom like: ‘Never argue about politics, or religion.’
Therefore our conversations are mainly trivial stuff, who almost nobody really cares, specially with those you got to deal not out of friendliness, but by duty, like family, or people you work with, specially if they are above you in rank. If you really want to talk about something important you go to a like minded friend, who you know he/she will not challenge you but confirm, and share your ideas, after all who needs a bad time confronting someone? In fact we choose friends more based on comfort, and ‘friendliness,’ instead of choosing people who can have a positive influence on us, and teaching us good things, despite the difficulties of being corrected, and told we are wrong.
On True Learning
Well, our focus, it’s not about our ideas, and how we see the World, but about our readiness to learn new things, so pardoning the digression above, just to show the rigidity of our minds, and how we are use to live with our preconceived ideas about almost anything, regardless of how little we may know about it.
Contrary at what most people’s think, learning it’s not difficult, actually what’s really difficult it is to change our attitude!
Perhaps it’s better today, I wonder, but reflecting, and being honest, even as children most of us with few exceptions granted, we went through school, as a duty, and found it a drudgery, only dissipated by the ring bell telling us recess was next, and it was time to play with friends, or it was finally time to go home!
Attitude, The Key Element To Learning
We know things, or we do not know, or maybe we know a little, but not enough, we have not even an idea, or we think we know better, but in reality it’s common to know nothing.
Humbleness it is a key to learning, admitting we do not know a subject it’s essential to learning, so to look for a qualified teacher to teach us, is the first step we need to take. A teacher can be many things, a person, a book, and above life, is the best teacher, by being humble we are accepting we are in lack of knowledge and we desire to improve, so we set to the task at hand which is to learn what we are in need to.
Now, observe we do not ask children to know if they approve, or desire to go to school, or not, children are in most countries obligated to attend school, some countries even penalize parents who do not take children to school.
As adults we are the ones who have to self motivate ourselves, and there is no way around it. Therefore our attitude to learn is primordial, otherwise it’s a no go situation, we are stuck!
Once we change our attitude, we are ready to, for whatever it’s necessary in order to learn, all these things may seem self evident, but if they are, how come so few people pay any attention to them?
There is a Hispanic saying: ‘Desde que se inventaron las excusas se acabaron los idiotas.’
An equivalent will be: ” Inventing an excuse, eliminates looking like an idiot.”
Excuses are just a way, to avoid changing our attitude, and they not remove the the obstacles for learning.
And therefore emptying the cup it’s a total change of attitude, and a preparation to open our senses, and our attention, and be ready to learn.
Now, pay attention and be ready to listen, and do the right thing, be alert!
Now in a lighter tone a long list, of random quotes on foolishness, and stupidity:
The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.
Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
The doctor sees all the weakness of mankind; the lawyer all the wickedness, the theologian all the stupidity. Arthur Schopenhauer
Stupidity is a talent for misconception.
Edgar Allan Poe
In politics stupidity is not a handicap.
Stubborn and ardent clinging to one’s opinion is the best proof of stupidity.
Michel de Montaigne
You know when you’re young, you have this unbelievable stupidity and arrogance and ignorance all mixed in?
People’s ignorance really pisses me off. Stupidity is when you can’t help it -ignorance is when you choose not to understand something.
Never attribute to malice, that which can be reasonably explained by stupidity.
I have had to experience so much stupidity, so many vices, so much error, so much nausea, disillusionment and sorrow, just in order to become a child again and begin anew. I had to experience despair, I had to sink to the greatest mental depths, to thoughts of suicide, in order to experience grace.
Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish.
People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.
Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.
You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.
Talk, talk, talk: the utter and heartbreaking stupidity of words.”
Irony is wasted on the stupid
Beauty fades, dumb is forever.
When a great genius appears in the world you may know him by this sign; that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.
If your brains were dynamite there wouldn’t be enough to blow your hat off.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr
Start a huge, foolish project, like Noah…it makes absolutely no difference what people think of you.
THE SUBJECTIVE REALM, A KINGDOM OF THE IMAGINATION, POST-STRUCTURALISM, IBN ARABI, DANTE, AND MIND BENDING MOVIES
The world is an illusion; it has no real existence. And this is what is meant by ‘imagination’ (khayāl). For you just imagine that it (i.e., the world) is an autonomous reality quite different from and independent of the Absolute Reality, while in truth it is nothing of the sort’…. Know that you yourself are an imagination. And everything that you perceive and say to yourself, ‘this is not me’, is also an imagination. So that the whole world of existence is imagination within imagination.
I like to point out to anyone who may want to listen, that the world we live in, and we consider an indisputable fact of existence, it’s not so, contrary from what most of us think, we do not live in the World, the World lives into our subjective consciousness.
When we go to sleep the world we know, disappear totally, and if we dream ( We all do, some of us just do not recall the dreams, or are easily forgotten.) a new reality emerge during our dreams, were images, colors, ideas, emotions, and actions acquire a confusing atmosphere, of incomprehensible, or unintelligible gibberish, completely meaningless, sometimes with flashes of profound intuitive insights, that are totally mysterious in nature, but appear as some sort of connection, or an ethereal link to our particular everyday reality.
There is nothing new to this fact, except our ignorance about the subject.
Mind Bending Movies
Artist, like novelist, movie directors, aware of this fact had produced all kind of films were our basic principles about reality are questioned like The Matrix, Dark City, What Dreams May Come, The thirteen Floor, and others.
The Matrix draws from and makes reference to numerous cinematic and literary works, and concepts from mythology, religion and philosophy.The Matrix also makes reference to the ideas of Buddhism, Christianity, Gnosticism dualism, Hinduism, and Judaism. The Matrix‘s premise resembles the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. Andrew Godoski from Screened.com observed Neo’s “virgin birth”, his doubt in himself, the prophecy of his coming, along with many Christianity references. In The Matrix, a copy of Jean Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation is visible on-screen as the book used to conceal disks, and Morpheus quotes its phrase “desert of the real”. The book was required reading for the actors prior to filming. Baudrillard himself said that The Matrix misunderstands and distorts his work. Check my post MANICHAEISM, AN ONTOLOGICAL, DUALISTIC VIEW ON THE NATURE OF EXISTENCE March 2017
Baudrillard’s published work emerged as part of a generation of French thinkers including Gilles Deleuze, Jean-François Lyotard, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, and Jacques Lacan who all shared an interest in semiotics, and he is often seen as a part of the post-structuralist philosophical school. In common with many post-structuralists, his arguments consistently draw upon the notion that signification and meaning are both only understandable in terms of how particular words or “signs” interrelate. Baudrillard thought, as do many post-structuralists, that meaning is brought about through systems of signs working together. See my posts:
DELEUZE, WESTERN PHILOSOPHY AND THE ENDLESS REVERSING OF THE SOCK. April 2013)
LANGUAGE AND CONSCIOUSNESS February 2013
One can make a connection between the premise of The Matrix and Plato’s Allegory of the Cave; once one accepts that The Matrix is an illusion, then the allegory of the cave becomes clear. The allegory is related to Plato’s theory of Forms, (Archetypes) which holds that the true essence of an object is not what we perceive with our senses, but rather its quality, and that most people perceive only the shadow of the object and are thus limited to false perception. See my post:
THE WORLD WITHOUT DUST, GEOGRAPHICAL ARCHETYPES OF THE SOUL March 2012
Morpheus of the matrix paraphrases the Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi when he asks Neo, “Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you weren’t able to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference from the real world and the dream world?”
I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming I am a man.
In the movie Inception (2010) the character Dom Cobb says: ‘Well dreams, they feel real while we’re in them, right? It’s only when we wake up that we realize that something was actually strange.’
Khayāl-The World of Creative Imagination
“Now in a dream, our mind continuously does this, we create and perceive our world simultaneously and our mind does this so well that we don’t even know it’s happening.” –Cobb
One of the most important concepts in Ibn ‘Arabi’s writing, which Inception illustrates beautifully, is a term called khayāl, which scholars translate as “imagination” or “imaginal faculty” to separate it from the illusory or derogatory connotations of the word “imaginary.” The world of khayāl is imaginary in that it the same stuff which dreams are made of, but this stuff is real, at least partially so. For example, most of us spend our lives in this imaginal world, not only during dreams, but also during our ordinary, everyday lives. When we see a color, or smell perfume, or feel an itch, our minds/souls are actually creating these sensations out of physical stimuli. We don’t see electromagnetic radiation with a 700 nm wavelength, we see red. Our minds “imagine” the sensory reality in which we live, simultaneously creating and perceiving these experiences, much like how Cobb described the process of dreaming to Ariadne during her first shared dream. In fact, Ibn ‘Arabi writes that one of the purposes of dreams is to alert us to this aspect of our existence, writing that “The only reason God placed sleep in the animate world was so that everyone might witness the Presence of Imagination and know that there is another world similar to the [everyday] sensory world.” For Ibn ‘Arabi, this imaginal world encompasses all human experience, and the imaginal faculty of ours gives form not only to physical but also metaphysical realities or archetypes. If you’ve ever written a melody or a poem, or drawn a picture, you’re already familiar with the magical process of imagination, the process of giving tangible forms to intangible ideas, concepts, and emotions. This is the function of the imaginal faculty, to bring together “pure ideas” and meanings and clothe them in sensible forms. But what of the reality of these things behind their imaginal forms, and what of reality itself? Most of us take these sensory, imaginal forms to be our reality, and are happy living out our days in this seemingly solid world. But Ibn ‘Arabi takes a different stance. Quoting the famous Prophetic tradition, “People are asleep, when they die, they awaken,”
It doesn’t matter if the top is spinning or not Before I continue, a quick aside about the much-debated end of the film is in order. I take the position that the film’s end is meant to be ambiguous and ambivalent, and I am completely uninterested in the director’s intentions or if, at the end, Cobb is “really” in a dream or back to reality. Part of the point is that the film is a dream, a phantom, a story, an illusion, so there is no “what really happens” on that level of reality. Dreams, like good movies and literature, are ambiguous and resist being pinned down to simple, literal descriptions, and this is simply the nature of all imaginal reality (more on this later). For the purposes this essay, I will take the perspective that whether or not the top stopped spinning, the film ends with Cobb still in a dream state, and in fact, Cobb has been in a dream state throughout the entire film. The entire action of the film takes place in a dream, the impossible dream technology with all of its logic-bending features, all the characters, everything, is part of a dream. In short, even if the top falls, he’s still dreaming because the top we see only ever existed in a dream.
Imagination and the limits of reason One of the most interesting and challenging aspects of Ibn ‘Arabi’s work for modern readers is his critique of reason. As Ibn ‘Arabi is fond of pointing out, one of the Arabic words for “reason,” ‘aql, 64 comes from the verb ‘aqala which means to “bind” or “fetter.” In this sense, reason is useful in that it allows us to get a handle on things and deal with them conceptually. However, in doing so, reason necessarily distorts reality by trying to delimit, define, and “bind” it in its rational schemas. Reason cannot deal with paradoxes and seeks to resolve ambiguities into “either/or” relations, while the worlds of imagination are characterized by the relations of “neither/nor” and “both/and.” But for Ibn ‘Arabi, reason and imagination are not opposed to each other; rather, they are complementary. Reason is critical and analytic, while imagination is creative and synthetic. A balance of both is needed to achieve the correct view of things, which Ibn ‘Arabi calls “seeing with two eyes.” The eye of reason distinguishes the real from the unreal, and the eye of imagination sees the images, reflections, and dreams that make up our world as simultaneously real and unreal. This formulation is particularly apt, because you need two eyes in order perceive the third dimension correctly, just as you need both reason and imagination to understand the metaphysical dimension of the world. With the eye of reason, we can discriminate things from each other and see the multiplicity of the world, and with the eye of imagination, we can see the many things as one. Ibn ‘Arabi argues that in order to understand things properly, we have to see both ways at once.
In Inception, Eames represents the pole of imagination, while Arthur represents that of reason. Eames calls Arthur a “stick in the mud,” and during a gunfight, tells him, “you mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger darling,” before mysteriously producing a grenade launcher. Their friendly rivalry in the planning stages of the mission, in which Arthur demands “specificity,” while Eames calls inception a “subtle art,” teases Arthur for his condescension, and declares, “to perform Inception, you need imagination,” wonderfully illustrates the creative tension between imagination and reason. The ensuing fantastical fight scenes and Arthur’s ingenious (and wonderfully shot), gravity-free “kick” vividly depict the process of “seeing with both eyes,” of thinking simultaneously inside and beyond a given dream level. The team’s ability to think both vertically and horizontally, to “see with both eyes,” is what allows them to navigate the labyrinth of dream worlds. Similarly, for Ibn ‘Arabi, “seeing with both eyes” is what allows people to navigate the labyrinth of the imaginal worlds that make up our existence both before and after death. Unaware of the various levels of reality, the unimaginative projections are bound to one level of reality and its rules, while with the aid of imagination, Cobb and his team jump from level to level, bending and breaking the local laws of logic as they go. Reason is a tool and like most tools, works best in conjunction with others. In fact, pure reason has to be coupled with imagination and insight in order to work at all.65 This fact, and the limitations of reason, can be somewhat difficult for us to grasp today, because we live in a world that undervalues insight and imagination, and is simultaneously irrational and corroded by over-rationalization. Turned against imagination and insight, instead of working in conjunction with them, modern reason has tried, and then given up on addressing issues it can’t handle on its own, such as metaphysics, ethics, and teleology. For this reason, fundamental questions such as “What is real?”, “What is right?”, and “What are we here for?” are often better engaged by artists (such as filmmakers) than by scientists and academic philosophers.
What Dreams may come
The title comes from a line in Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be…” soliloquy, namely, “For in that sleep of death what dreams may come / When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, / Must give us pause.” The plot outline in the novel contains several allegorical references to Dante Alighieri’s epic poem The Divine Comedy (1308–1321).
The prologue is narrated by a man telling of his visit from a psychic woman, who gives him a manuscript she claims was dictated to her by his deceased brother Chris. Most of the novel consists of this manuscript.
Chris, a middle-aged man, is injured in an auto accident and dies in the hospital. He remains as a ghost, at first thinking he’s having a bad dream. Amid a failed séance that ends up reinforcing his wife’s belief that he didn’t survive death, an unidentified man keeps approaching Chris, telling him to concentrate on what’s beyond. Chris disregards this advice for a long time, unable to leave his wife Ann. After following the man’s advice, and focusing on pleasant memories, he feels himself being elevated.
He awakens in a beautiful glade, which he recognizes as a place where he and Ann traveled. Understanding now that he has died, he is surprised that he looks and feels alive, with apparently a physical body and sensations. After exploring the place for a while, he finds Albert, his cousin, who reveals himself as the unidentified man he had been seeing.
Albert explains that the place they occupy is called Summerland. Being a state of mind rather than a physical location, Summerland is practically endless and takes the form of the inhabitants’ wishes and desires. There is no pain or death, but people maintain occupations of sorts and perform leisure activities. The book depicts Summerland at length, through Chris’s eyes.
Divine “Imagination” and the Intermediate World: Ibn ‘Arabî on the Barzakh.
For centuries after the time of the Andalusian mystic Ibn ‘Arabî, his remarkable discussions and conceptions of the “Imagination” (al-khayâl) were elaborated by Islamic philosophers, poets, artists and critics in order to explain, interpret and justify the full range of artistic and creative activities carried on within later Islamic cultures, as far away as India and Indonesia.1 Modern western students of Ibn ‘Arabî writing on such themes have tended to focus on the development of those ideas in his celebrated Fusûs al-Hikam (“The Bezels of Wisdom”) and its long line of traditional philosophic commentaries.2 But another major source of those classical Islamic understandings of the Imagination was in the Shaykh’s many discussions of the eschatological “Barzakh” or “intermediate world” of the divine Imagination–as well as his accounts of his own striking experiences and decisive spiritual encounters there–which are scattered throughout his magnum opus, al-Futûhât al-Makkîya (“The Meccan Illuminations”). One of his most extensive and widely influential discussions of the Imagination/Barzakh, in all its humanly relevant dimensions, was in the set of five eschatological chapters (61-65) within the long opening section of the Futûhât–chapters first brought to the attention of a wider Western audience in the famous studies by Asin-Palacios of Islamic themes in Dante’s Divine Comedy.
See my post:
EROS SUBLIMATED , THE MUNDUS IMAGINALIS April 2013
Now there are some people who perceive this imaged-object (al-mutakhayyal) with the eye of the (physical) sensation, and there are others who perceive it with the eye of imagination. Of course I’m referring here to (our perceptions) in the waking state, since during sleep (everyone) definitely perceives with the eye of imagination. So if a person wishes to distinguish between (those two modes of perception) in their waking state, whether in this world or at the Day of Resurrection, they can determine (which sort of perception it is) by looking at the imaged-object. Thus if [a] the states of what one is looking at continue to change as it changes its shape and characteristics, even though you can’t deny that it is still the same thing, and [b] the fact of observing it does not stop it from changing its shape and formation–as when a chameleon, when you observe it, stops changing its colors–then that is undoubtedly (being seen) with the eye of imagination, not with the eye of the senses. For you perceive what-is-imagined (al-khayâl) with the eye of imagination, not with the eye of (physical) sensation.
Indeed few of those who lay claim to the unveiled vision of spirits, whether of fire (i.e., jinn) or of light (angels), really understand how this is. When (those spirits) take on the image of perceptible forms, (most people) don’t know whether they are perceiving them with the eye of the imagination or with the eye of (physical) sensation–since both sorts of perception involve the sensing activity of the eye. That (inner sensing activity) is what presents the perception through both the eye of imagination and the eye of (physical) sensation. So this is a subtle form of knowledge: I mean the knowledge of the distinction between the two “eyes,” and between the sensing activity of the eye and the eye of (physical) sensation. One can know that (what one perceives) is indeed sensible, not imaginal, and that one has perceived it with the eye of sensation, not the eye of imagination (by the following conditions): [a] when the eye perceives the imaged-object and, without being distracted, sees that its shape and characteristics don’t change; [b] when it doesn’t see that imaged-object in different places at the same time, assuming it is definitely a single reality; and [c] that imaged-object doesn’t become changed or transformed into different states.
This is how you should understand how a human being can perceive their Lord–may He be exalted!–in a dream, even though He transcends any form or image, as well as how that perception of Him takes place and its limitations. And through this you may understand what has come down in the sound report (of the famous hadith) concerning the Creator’s “manifesting Himself (to souls at the Resurrection) in the most unlikely of forms among those in which they saw Him,” and concerning His “transformation into a form which they knew (before then),” after they had been denying Him and taking refuge from Him (in more agreeable forms of His manifestation).
So you should know with which eye you are seeing Him! For I have already let you know that (the divine) Imagination is perceived either through itself–I mean through the eye of imagination–or through the (physical) vision. And which of those two is the sound one on which we should rely?! Regarding that we (wrote these verses): When my Beloved appears to me, with which eye do I see Him? With His eye, not with mine: for none sees Him but Him! (This is only) in accordance with the transcendence of His Station and confirming His Words, since He says: “The gazes do not perceive Him, [but He perceives the gazes…]” (6:103), and He did not specify any particular Abode (of this world or the next), but sent it as an Verse unrestricted (in its applicability) and as a definite, confirmed matter. For none other than Him perceives Him, so it is with His eye–may He be praised!–that I see Him, as in (the famous divine saying in) the sound hadith-report: “…I (God) was his gaze through which he sees.” So wake up, you who are asleep and heedless of all this, and pay attention! I have opened up for you a door to forms of awareness and inner knowing that thoughts can never reach, though intellects can come to accept them, either through special divine Providence or by “polishing hearts with dhikr and recitation (of the Qur’an).” Then the intellect accepts what the divine Self- manifestation (tajalli) gives it and knows that that (imaginal revelation) is beyond its own power with respect to its thinking, indeed that its thinking could never give it that. Therefore (that person) gives thanks to God–may He be exalted!–Who created their constitution (nash’a) so that it could receive things like that: this being the constitution of the (divine) Messengers and prophets and those among the saints who are the recipients of special divine Providence. This is so that (such a person) may know that their receptivity (to what is bestowed by God) is higher and more noble than their own thinking. So realize, o my brother, from now on Who it is that is manifesting Himself to you from behind this door (of the imagination)! For this is a prodigious matter, where even the innermost hearts become bewildered.
In a world of darkness, controlled by time, images and roles shift and change in an ongoing nightmare as if part of a mad experiment. Everyone seems under the spell of sleep and forgetfulness, just vaguely remembering a distant memory of light and home, but unable to remember how to get back there. When the plan of darkness, attack thoughts and projection is finally uncovered and exposed, the upside-down world is turned right-side-up and bathed in the light of innocence—the present moment. There is no memory of a past. The games of fear and guilt are ended in the light of true love. In the light, Christ is recognized anew, as if for the very first time with no memory of the past.
John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell) awakens alone in a strange hotel to find that he is wanted for a series of brutal murders. The problem is that he can’t remember whether he committed the murders or not. For one brief moment, he is convinced that he has gone completely mad. Murdoch seeks to unravel the twisted riddle of his identity. As he edges closer to solving the mystery, he stumbles upon a fiendish underworld controlled by a group of ominous beings collectively known as the Strangers.
The Strangers bring Murdoch to their home beneath the city and force Dr. Schreber to imprint Murdoch with their collective memory, believing Murdoch to be the final result of their experiments. Schreber betrays them by inserting false memories in Murdoch which artificially reestablish his childhood as years spent training and honing his psychokinetic skills and learning about the Strangers and their machines. Murdoch awakens, fully realizing his skills, frees himself and battles with the Strangers, defeating their leader Mr. Book in a psychokinetic fight high above the city.
After learning from Dr. Schreber that Emma’s personality is gone and cannot be restored, Murdoch exercises his new-found powers, amplified by the Strangers’ machine, to create an actual Shell Beach by flooding the area within the force field with water and forming mountains and beaches. On his way to Shell Beach, Murdoch encounters Mr. Hand and informs him that the Strangers have been searching in the wrong place—the mind—to understand humanity. Murdoch turns the habitat toward the star it had been turned away from, and the city experiences sunlight for the first time.
He opens the door leading out of the city, and steps out to view the sunrise. Beyond him is a pier, where he finds the woman he knew as Emma, now with new memories and a new identity as Anna. Murdoch reintroduces himself as they walk to Shell Beach, beginning their relationship anew.
Ibn Arabi The Horn of Light
Hence the imagination (as indicated in many familiar hadith) sees knowledge in the form of milk, or honey and wine and pearls; and it sees Islâm in the form a dome and pillars; and it sees the Qur’an in the form of butter and honey; and it sees Religion in the form of a bond; and it sees God (al-Haqq) in the form a human being and in the form of light…. As for this “horn” (of the Barzakh/Imagination) being made of “light” (according to the hadith mentioned above), that is because light is the immediate cause for (things) becoming unveiled and clearly appearing, since without light, vision would perceive nothing at all. So God made this Imagination as a “light” through which could be perceived the Bringing-into-form (taswîr) of every thing, whatever that might be, as we’ve already mentioned. His Light passes through the absolute nothingness so that He might shape it into the forms of being. Hence the Imagination is more deserving of the (divine) Name “the Light” (al-Nûr) than all the created things ordinarily described as “luminous,” since Its Light does not resemble the (created) lights and through It the divine Self-manifestations are perceived.
And It (or ‘He’) is the Light of the eye of imagination, not the light of the eye of sensation. So understand this! For if you understand how (the divine) Imagination is Light, and you know in what way it is (always) correct, then you will have an advantage over those who don’t know that–the sort of person who says: “that is only a false imagination!” That is because such people have failed to understand the perception of the light of imagination which has been given them by God. This is just like their saying that our senses are also “mistaken” in some of their perceptions, when in fact their sense-perceptions are sound, while the judgment (regarding the meaning of those perceptions) belongs to something else, not to the senses themselves. It is the judgment that is false, not the sensation. Likewise the imagination perceives with its light whatever it perceives, without passing judgment. The judgment only belongs to something else, which is the intellect, so the error can’t be attributed to the imagination. Thus there never is any “false imagination” at all–indeed all of it is correct!
The deepest aspect of your being resides in the inseparable, formless dimension of Eternal Presence.
Inception and Ibn Arabi by
Divine “Imagination” and the Intermediate World: Ibn ‘Arabî on the Barzakh.
James W Morris
HELOISE AND ABELARD, LOVE’S REQUITAL, FEMINISM AND RELIGIOUS BIGOTRY IN THE MIDDLE AGE, SCHOLARLY CHAUVINISM, AND CONTEMPORARY VIEWS, ON HELOISE LOVE LETTERS.
I would not want to give you cause for finding me disobedient in anything, so I have set the bridle of your injunction on the words which issue from my unbounded grief; thus in writing at least I may moderate what it is difficult or rather impossible to forestall in speech. For nothing is less under our control than our heart – having no power to command it we are forced to obey. And so when its impulses move us, none of us can stop their sudden promptings from easily breaking out, and even more easily overflowing into words which are the everready indications of the heart’s emotions: as it is written, ‘A man’s words are spoken from the overflowing of the heart.’ I will therefore hold my hand from writing words which I cannot restrain my tongue from speaking; would that a grieving heart would be as ready to obey as a writer’s hand!
Heloise on the Third Letter to Abelard.
‘Heloise and Abelard’ is one of history’s most passionate and romantic true love stories. The nine hundred year old love affair of the 12th century philosopher and theologian and his student Heloise continues to inspire and move us. Their passionate relationship scandalized the community in which they lived. The details of their physical and spiritual intimacy is also a cautionary tale for our time.
There are still societies whose policies result in rigid attitudes of intellectual, theological and sexual repression. This great love story, and the courage and passion of its protagonists, has much to teach us about our own understanding of religious tolerance, sexual equality and intellectual freedom.
Here is an admonitory tale screaming to us from across the centuries to reason, and to question, question, question!
In twelfth century Paris, the intellectually gifted young Heloise, the niece of Notre Dame’s Canon Fulbert, strives for knowledge, truth and the answer to the question of human existence. It soon becomes apparent that only one teacher in Paris can provide the education that she seeks. Though twenty years her senior, Abelard quickly becomes intrigued by Heloise’s uncommon wit and intelligence, for Heloise is on par intellectually with Abelard.
They soon find themselves so entwined that neither can resist the spiritual and physical desires of their bodies, yet they both know that the laws of the time forbid such a relationship. But their physical love and the strength of their passion proved to be a power impossible to resist.
When Heloise becomes pregnant, they realize it is not safe for her to remain in Paris. They flee for Brittany, Abelard’s place of birth. In a scheme to protect the dignity of his fallen niece, and return Heloise to his home, Canon Fulbert arranges a secret marriage between Heloise and Abelard. But shortly after the two lovers are wed, they discover Fulbert’s true plot is to ruin Abelard and keep Heloise for himself. For her safety, Heloise escapes to the convent at Argenteuil, but it is too late for Abelard and he is brutally attacked in Paris.
As a result of his humiliating punishment, Abelard no longer considers himself capable of continuing as a teacher at Notre Dame, and he and Heloise understand what they must do. Canon Bedell pleads with Abelard to not force such a fate upon Heloise, but both Heloise and Abelard agree that they must take Holy Orders as Monk and Nun. In a heartbreaking moment, Heloise must give up her child, knowing that she will never see him again.
Through their famous correspondence of twenty years, their love continues to flourish, in spite of their separation. After many years pass, in a chance meeting, Heloise and Abelard are briefly reunited at a ceremony in Paris. Though they have been physically apart all these years, at last in the sight of the other, the former lovers realize that the love they share is the reason for human existence. As the glorious ceremony begins, they triumphantly promise to remain “Forever One”.
They never met again, yet through their famous letters, their love endures.
“You know, beloved, as the whole world knows, how much I have lost in you, how at one wretched stroke of fortune that supreme act of flagrant treachery robbed me of my very self in robbing me of you; and how my sorrow for my loss is nothing compared with what I feel for the manner in which I lost you.”
Six hundred years later, it was Josephine Bonaparte, so moved by their story, the she ordered that the remains of Abelard and Heloise be entombed together at Pére Lachaise cemetery in Paris. To this day, lovers from all over the world visit the tomb where the remains of Heloise and Abelard rest eternally together.’
Now the above story, it’s a simplified versions, somewhat sweetened of the real struggle, on a Men dominated society, common, not only to Heloise, but of injustice for many women through the annals of History.
Heloise (1101-1164) was the niece and pride of Canon Fulbert. She was well-educated by her uncle in Paris. Abelard later writes in his autobiographical “Historica Calamitatum”: “Her uncle’s love for her was equaled only by his desire that she should have the best education which he could possibly procure for her. Of no mean beauty, she stood out above all by reason of her abundant knowledge of letters.”
John Marenbon, in his book on Abelard, has two chapters in which he deals with Heloise’s contribution to his ethics. The first of the two chapters is about dismissing claims that Heloise did not write her own letters. That, in itself, is telling. Take any woman philosopher who is not actually around to fight her ground, and chances are, someone will argue that she did not author her own work. Marenbon’s defense is spirited and convincing, but it does not go far towards building up an account of what Heloise might have had to contribute to the philosophy of her age. The second of the two chapters does a little better, as it claims that Abelard’s later account of Caritas as unconditional love of God was influenced by Heloise’s description of her love for Abelard. She, was, Marenbon said, a writer he had to take seriously, and this is reflected in his revisions of his own ethical thought.
‘Many commentators dealing with the question of Heloise’s tumultuous “inner life” as an abbess have focused primarily on Heloise’s refusal to relinquish her sexual desires for Abelard. In these cases, her desire has been construed as a form of subversion and transgression, thus relegating her to the position of the unruly female who must accept the “bridle of the [monastic] injunction.” Instead of being used as a heuristic for dialogue, it places the female subject into a position that must be controlled and subjugated. Rather than desire being an agent of actualization for the female subject, it shuts down avenues for negotiations of subjectivity. Furthermore, the inordinate focus on Heloise as a romantic heroine obscures the fact that she is also acutely anguished by the uncertainty of her heavenly reward. Despite claiming that she has done everything for the love of Abelard, Heloise still expresses her anxiety about her spiritual salvation. She believes that in her struggle against her own body and subjectivity, God will grant her a little “corner of heaven.” Thus, Heloise’s sudden redirection in the third letter should be approached for what it simply is, as a well-calculated rhetorical move on her part, for she knows that Abelard will not confront the question of her continued desire directly. Heloise starts afresh on another subject which she knows he would be more amenable to discuss, the management of the Oratory of the Paraclete. As such, though Heloise’s third letter to Abelard is submerged in mundane theological concerns, Robert Edwards argues that the third letter of Heloise continues an ongoing struggle and negotiation of and for desire. Desire here, however, is not only the overtly passionate eroticism that suffuses Heloise’s first two letters to Abelard, but desire in the broader sense, encompassing her own longing to attain intellectual communion with him. Prior to this letter, Heloise has already been sending a deluge of complaints to Abelard. She demands remuneration for the infinite debt he supposedly owes her; she pesters him to address her old perpetual complaint against God; she demands consolation for her emotional distress. In a sense, Heloise is seeking recognition from Abelard, asking him to realize that he has left her mired in their past, that he has forgotten about her after his castration. Abelard’s conversion is a continued source of anxiety and despair for Heloise, as she can no longer request the same sort of idealized engagement with him she so treasured from their past. Her dilemma arises from a desire explicitly forbidden by traditional monastic profession: a desire to let her past shape and influence her present and future religious life and a desire to construct a new order that would allow her to continue upholding her cherished notions of secular love.
And what a love it was. Until recently, we could read it directly only in eight letters discovered in the 13th century and composed long after the lovers’ entry into monastic life. The first, from Abelard, isn’t even directed to Heloise. Written for an unnamed monk, it’s what a medieval reader would have called a “letter of consolation,” meant to comfort a troubled friend by convincing him that your problems are greater than his. This early variant of schadenfreude, the so-called “Historia Calamitatum,” is how we learn of Abelard’s first arrival in Paris, of his growing renown as a teacher and his encounter with the well-educated young Heloise. Here too we learn of Abelard’s rash decision to move into her uncle Fulbert’s home and become her tutor, of their love and her pregnancy, of Fulbert’s rage, Abelard’s attempt to pacify him by proposing marriage and Heloise’s resistance — at least in part because of the damage it would do to her lover’s reputation. We learn that Abelard prevailed over his pupil, that the wedding was initially kept secret and that Fulbert ordered a terrible act of vengeance. Days after thugs broke into Abelard’s bedroom at night and castrated him, the newlyweds took vows of celibacy and repaired to their respective religious institutions.
The letters written after the “Historia Calamitatum” are the richest, containing the rash, ringing, reckless and altogether impious declarations of love for which Heloise will always be known. Here is a voice that refuses to stay in the Middle Ages; it reaches through the centuries and catches us at the throat. “Men call me chaste,” she writes. “They do not know the hypocrite I am.” Even during the celebration of Mass, she confesses, “lewd visions” of the pleasures she shared with Abelard “take such a hold upon my unhappy soul that my thoughts are on their wantonness instead of on prayers. I should be groaning over the sins I have committed, but I can only sigh for what I have lost.” She asserts the primacy of desire, boldly professing the amorous, sacrilegious motives that drove her into the convent: “It was not any sense of vocation which brought me as a young girl to accept the austerities of the cloister, but your bidding alone. . . . I can expect no reward for this from God, for it is certain that I have done nothing as yet for love of him. . . . I would have had no hesitation, God knows, in following you or going ahead at your bidding to the flames of hell.” Her bravado, her defiance, her ruthless honesty and her apotheosis of eros over morality are everywhere apparent — and still today they are shocking.
Love is Heloise’s religion, even when she’s wrapped in the robes of a nun. And in the practice of this religion, she is as uncompromising as she is unconventional. For her, love has no business with the law or money or social safety nets. It is for this reason, more than any other, that she opposes Abelard’s desire to wed: “I never sought anything in you except yourself. . . . I looked for no marriage bond.” Indeed, she proclaims,”if Augustus, emperor of the whole world, saw fit to honor me with marriage and conferred all the earth on me to possess forever, it would be dearer and more honorable to me to be called not his empress, but your whore.”
The dust will not settle on such words. At once intrepid and idealistic, transgressive and submissive, taboo-busting and sweet-natured, noble and naughty, they have seduced scholars for centuries. This woman, this prioress, who was prepared to sacrifice not just earthly reputation but heavenly salvation for the sake of her secular love, is a literary original. Petrarch couldn’t read her without scribbling exclamations in the margins; the three letters to Abelard that have come down to us from her monastic confinement have sufficed to make her name as a writer.
Only recently — and miraculously — has a new cache of material turned up, fragments of 113 letters that many scholars believe Abelard and Heloise exchanged before Abelard’s castration. Copied in the 15th century by a monk named Johannes de Vespria, discovered in 1980 by Constant J. Mews and finally published as “The Lost Love Letters of Heloise and Abelard,” these short but eloquent missives present two people vying — with no coyness or gender typecasting whatever — to outdo each other in expressions of adoration. “To a reddening rose under the spotless whiteness of lilies,” the woman addresses the man. “To his jewel, more pleasing and more splendid than the present light,” the man addresses the woman. The letters have unleashed a new storm of interest in the couple; it is to this that we owe the British filmmaker James Burge’s biography, “Abelard and Heloise.”
Burge spends much time glossing the new correspondence — unfortunately, trivializing rather than illuminating it. “This sounds to modern ears like a promise of sex,” he tells us at one point, then rushes to explain: “The question of when exactly they first consummated their love awaits more assiduous scholarship.” Given that scholars are still arguing about Heloise’s birth date (she’s been put between 15 and 27 years of age at the time of her encounter with Abelard, who would have been in his late 30’s), you shouldn’t hold your breath waiting for this golden factoid. But what’s really missing in Burge’s biography is an ear for the lyricism of his subjects’ correspondence, a feel for the mystery of their bond.
Antoine Audouard’s novel “Farewell, My Only One” doesn’t draw explicitly on the new letters, but it’s substantially truer to their spirit. It also has an ingenious narrative scheme: the story is told from the point of view of a wandering student, William, who falls in love with Heloise at the same time that he becomes Abelard’s disciple. When he has outlived both, at the end of the tale, we discover an even closer connection.
Audouard, a former director of the French publisher Laffont-Fixot, evokes in gritty and poetic detail the streets of 12th-century Paris (where the narrator tells us he “stumbled over a pig”). He’s also very good at conveying the process of infatuation: William falls for Heloise when she loses consciousness in a crowd: “I am not strong. I have never carried a woman,” he marvels. And yet he does, and even lunges after the flower that has fallen from her hair. “A few crushed petals” are all that remain, though, when he opens his “clenched fist” — a foretaste of what happens when we grasp what we love too firmly.
But Audouard spends too much time alone with William — building churches, cleaning grates, making friends — and we resent being taken away from the lovers. Then again, anyone writing about Abelard and Heloise must compete with their own eloquence. The early letters are so clear and beautiful they can be read alone, without anachronistic glossing or fictional superstructures. Like the later letters — recently reprinted in a volume edited by the British medievalist and Abelard biographer Michael Clanchy — they glow. Together they preserve the myth of a shining couple, persecuted by authority and hounded by circumstance but true to each other, ready for all sacrifice, passionate even to the grave.
It’s a potent myth and a necessary one — but it is a myth. The reality of Abelard and Heloise’s story may be no less moving, but it’s less than perfect. You could argue, first off, that their relationship was already on the decline by the time Abelard was castrated. And that Fulbert’s vengeance was taken because Abelard was insufficiently, rather than excessively, close to his niece. Heloise already lived in a convent at the time of Abelard’s mutilation — not as a nun, but nevertheless under the protection of the nuns. Ostensibly this was a tactic to preserve the secrecy of their marriage; to Fulbert, however, it may have suggested that Abelard was planning to get rid of his wife. Is this what it meant to her? The arrangement, in any case, was neither ideal nor particularly gallant, and Abelard’s visits were decreasing in frequency: “You sadden my spirit,” Heloise writes in the last of her early letters.
Is it possible that Fulbert’s crime saved rather than sank the lovers’ passion? That by turning Abelard into a romantic martyr at the very moment his interest was flagging, Fulbert reinvigorated Heloise’s loyalty and gave Abelard an excuse to ignore her without blame?
This is, in fact, what he did for the next 12 years. It wasn’t until Heloise had become abbess of her own convent and stumbled upon his “Historia Calamitatum” that she was able to draw Abelard back into communication with her. And even then religion had changed him; the passion and warmth of the early letters had fled.
In the later letters, Abélard has become pious and self-centered. When Heloise entreats him to take pity on her loneliness, he sends her a set of prayers to say for him. When she serenades their love, he moans about the trouble he’s having with the other monks at his abbey. Never an easy man to get on with, he has made blood enemies of men whose well-being he is supposed to preserve: they are, he assures Heloise, relentlessly trying to poison him. Therefore the refrain, “Pray for me.”
It is Heloise’s tact and generosity that allow the dialogue to continue and even attain exemplary dimensions. Seeing that her beloved is no longer capable of the language of passion, she smothers her love song (“the loss,” as Burge states, “is history’s”) and addresses him on the only terms he still knows and values. Like the star student she once was, she begins to quiz him on every biblical, monastic and moral question she can think of. In doing so, she inspires much of the most valuable — and satisfying — work of Abelard’s life. Disdained by his own monks as well as by the Vatican (he was twice condemned for heresy), he found an enthusiastic audience in Heloise and her nuns. It is for Heloise that he undertakes what one scholar has called “the most substantial writings of the 12th century on women’s place in Christianity”; it is for Heloise that he writes countless sermons, hymns and disquisitions on spiritual themes. Heloise’s convent becomes, in some sense, the couple’s joint project, their spiritual child. Their cooperation struck onlookers as a dazzling example of friendship between a man and a woman.
If Heloise didn’t get what she most wanted from Abelard, she got the very best he had to give. His reflections, his confidences and his final, all-important confession were addressed to her; his most urgent worldly plea was to be buried where she would be near him. Is their story a fraud because Abelard, as Mews has written, was “tagging along behind” Heloise in matters of the heart?
The love stories that touch us most deeply are punctuated by human frailty. Look at them up close and you see the fault lines, compromises and anticlimaxes. At the beginning of Shakespeare’s play, Romeo is just as intemperately in love with a girl called Rosaline as he is later with Juliet. Tristan and Isolde’s passion could well be the fruit of substance abuse, of a love potion they drank unknowingly. And Abélard and Heloise? They weren’t equally strong or passionate or generous. Still, they put their frailties together and begat a perfect myth, as well as something perhaps even more precious — a surprising, splendid, fractured reality. “There is a crack,” the Leonard Cohen lyric goes, “a crack in everything: that’s how the light gets in.”
The Problemata Heloissae, And My Motivation
In all honesty my original intention was to focus on Heloise’s as:
Problemata Heloissae (The “Questions” of Heloise): Prefatory Letter, Heloise to Abelard.
The letter introduces 42 questions (the “Problemata”) that have arisen from the daily biblical readings Heloise and her nuns do. The questions involve issues of sin and judgment, intention versus action, law and punishment, damnation and repentance, as well as contradictions or odd references in the Bible. Heloise does not hesitate to draw an analogy between herself and Marcella, Jerome’s celebrated and very learned colleague and correspondent.
However I understood that focusing on such letters the main story would be lost and that it’s Heloise main love’s requital to Abelard, so the Theological letters would be of no interest to most readers anyway, the real story is told above.
Too much had been said about the couple to add new insights into their story, so I just put together from several sources what I thought would be interesting to the readers if unfamiliar with the story.
Also I would like to remind to our readers how different the times in the Middle Ages were compared to our contemporary values, Religion was, how we should say? No a fact of Life, but ‘the major fact of Life’ that took precedence over anything else.
Books Discussed in This Essay
SHARON JANE GO SHUA A Thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of Arts and Letters of Georgetown University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in English
HELOISE AND ABELARD A New Biography. By James Burge. HarperSanFrancisco,
FAREWELL, MY ONLY ONE By Antoine Audouard. Translated by Euan Cameron. Houghton Mifflin,
ABELARD AND HELOISE By Constant J. Mews. Oxford University, cloth, $74; paper,
THE LETTERS OF ABELARD AND HELOISE Translated With an Introduction and Notes by Betty Radice. Revised by M. T. Clanchy. Penguin, paper,
THE LOST LETTERS OF HELOISE AND ABELARD Perceptions of Dialogue in Twelfth-Century France. By Constant J. Mews. With Translations by Neville Chiavaroli and Constant J. Mews. Palgrave Macmillan.
Cristina Nehring Eloise and Abelard: Love Hurts. writes regularly for The Atlantic. She is the author of the forthcoming “Women in Love From Simone de Beauvoir to Sylvia Plath: A Feminist Defense of Romance.”
“As for you, Gilgamesh, let your belly be full,
Make merry day and night.
Of each day make a feast of rejoicing.
Day and night dance and play!
Let your garments be sparkling fresh,
Your head be washed; bathe in water.
Pay heed to a little one that holds on to your hand,
Let a spouse delight in your bosom.
These things are alone the concern of men.”
Siduri the Barmaid to Gilgamesh.
Which may represent the first recorded advocacy of a hedonistic philosophy.
The Epic of Gilgamesh Tablet X
Hedonism is a school of thought that argues that pleasure and happiness are the primary or most important intrinsic goods and the proper aim of human life. A hedonist strives to maximize net pleasure (pleasure minus pain), but when having finally gained that pleasure, either through intrinsic or extrinsic goods, happiness remains stationary.
Ethical hedonism is the idea that all people have the right to do everything in their power to achieve the greatest amount of pleasure possible to them. It is also the idea that every person’s pleasure should far surpass their amount of pain. Ethical hedonism is said to have been started by Aristippus of Cyrene, a student of Socrates. He held the idea that pleasure is the highest good.
Hedonism is a sub-philosophy of utilitarianism, which says to act in a way that maximizes utility. Hedonists equate pleasure with utility and believe that pleasure is the master of all humankind, and acts as the ultimate life goal. Hedonists believe that there are only two motivators of human action, pleasure and pain, and that decisions should only be made that further our pleasurable experiences and minimize or completely eliminate our painful ones.
David Pearce is co-founder of Humanity, formerly the World Transhumanist Association, and a prominent figure within the transhumanism movement.
Based in Brighton, England, Pearce maintains a series of websites devoted to transhumanist topics and what he calls the “hedonistic imperative”, a moral obligation to work towards the abolition of suffering in all sentient life. His book-length internet manifesto, The Hedonistic Imperative(1995), outlines how pharmacology, genetic engineering, nanotechnology and neurosurgery could converge to eliminate all forms of unpleasant experience from human and non-human life, replacing suffering with “gradients of bliss”. Pearce calls this the “abolitionist project”.
A vegan, Pearce argues that humans have a responsibility not only to avoid cruelty to animal within human society but also to redesign the global ecosystem so that animals do not suffer in the wild.
Hedonistic Transhumanism Manifesto
This manifesto outlines a strategy to eradicate suffering in all sentient life. The abolitionist project is ambitious, implausible, but technically feasible. It is defended here on ethical utilitarian grounds. Genetic engineering and nanotechnology allow Homo sapiens to discard the legacy-wetware of our evolutionary past. Our post-human successors will rewrite the vertebrate genome, redesign the global ecosystem, and abolish suffering throughout the living world.
Why does suffering exist? The metabolic pathways of pain and malaise evolved only because they served the inclusive fitness of our genes in the ancestral environment. Their ugliness can be replaced by a new motivational system based entirely on gradients of well-being. Life-long happiness of an intensity now physiologically unimaginable can become the heritable norm of mental health. A sketch is offered of when, and why, this major evolutionary transition in the history of life is likely to occur. Possible objections, both practical and moral, are raised and then rebutted.
Contemporary images of opiate-addled junkies, and the lever-pressing frenzies of intra-cranially self-stimulating rats, are deceptive. Such stereotypes stigmatize, and falsely discredit, the only remedy for the world’s horrors and everyday discontents that is biologically realistic. For it is misleading to contrast social and intellectual development with perpetual happiness. There need be no such trade-off. Thus states of “dopamine-overdrive” can actually enhance exploratory and goal-directed activity. Hyper-dopaminergic states can also increase the range and diversity of actions an organism finds rewarding. Our descendants may live in a civilization of serenely well-motivated “high-achievers”, animated by gradients of bliss. Their productivity may far eclipse our own.
Two hundred years ago, before the development of potent synthetic pain-killers or surgical anesthetics, the notion that “physical” pain could be banished from most people’s lives would have seemed no less bizarre. Most of us in the developed world now take its daily absence for granted. The prospect that what we describe as “mental” pain, too, could one day be superseded is equally counter-intuitive. The technical option of its abolition turns its deliberate retention into an issue of political policy and ethical choice.
Pearce’s ideas inspired an abolitionist school of transhumanism, or “hedonistic transhumanism”, based on his idea of “paradise engineering” and his argument that the abolition of suffering—which he calls the “abolitionist project”—is a moral imperative.
Transhumanism(abbreviated as H+ orh+) is an international and intellectual movement that aims to transform the human condition by developing and making widely available sophisticated technologies to greatly enhance human intellect and physiology.
Transhumanist thinkers study the potential benefits and dangers of emerging technologies that could overcome fundamental human as well as ethical limitations of using such technologies. The most common transhumanist thesis is that human beings may eventually be able to transform themselves into different beings with abilities so greatly expanded from the natural condition as to merit the label of posthuman beings.
The contemporary meaning of the term “transhumanism” was foreshadowed by one of the first professors of futurology, FM-2030, who taught “new concepts of the human” at The New School in the 1960s, when he began to identify people who adopt technologies, lifestyles and worldviews “transitional” to posthumanity as “transhuman”. The assertion would lay the intellectual groundwork for the British philosopher Max More to begin articulating the principles of transhumanism as a futurist philosophy in 1990 and organizing in California an intelligentsia that has since grown into the worldwide transhumanist movement.
Influenced by seminal works of science fiction, the transhumanist vision of a transformed future humanity has attracted many supporters and detractors from a wide range of perspectives, including philosophy and religion. Transhumanism has been characterized by one critic, Francis Fukuyama, as among the “world’s most dangerous ideas”, to which Ronald Bailey has countered that it is rather the “movement that epitomizes the most daring, courageous, imaginative and idealistic aspirations of humanity”
Here are three scenarios in ascending order of sociological plausibility:
b) Utopian designer drugs
c) genetic engineering and – what I want to focus on – the impending reproductive revolution of designer babies
a) Recall wireheading is direct stimulation of the pleasure centres of the brain via implanted electrodes. Intracranial self-stimulation shows no physiological or subjective tolerance i.e. it’s just as rewarding after two days as it is after two minutes. Wireheading doesn’t harm others; it has a small ecological footprint; it banishes psychological and physical pain; and arguably it’s a lot less offensive to human dignity than having sex. Admittedly, lifelong wireheading sounds an appealing prospect only to a handful of severe depressives. But what are the technical arguments against its adoption?
Well, wireheading is not an evolutionary stable solution: there would be selection pressure against its widespread adoption. Wireheading doesn’t promote nurturing behavior: wireheads, whether human or non-human, don’t want to raise baby wireheads. Uniform, indiscriminate bliss in the guise of wireheading or its equivalents would effectively bring the human experiment to an end, at least if it were adopted globally. Direct neurostimulation of the reward centers destroys informational sensitivity to environmental stimuli. So assuming we want to be smart – and become smarter – we have a choice. Intelligent agents can have a motivational structure based on gradients of ill-being, characteristic of some lifelong depressives today. Or intelligent agents can have our current typical mixture of pleasures and pains. Or alternatively, we could have an informational economy of mind based entirely on [adaptive] gradients of cerebral bliss – which I’m going to argue for.
Actually, this dismissal of wireheading may be too quick. In the far future, one can’t rule out offloading everything unpleasant or mundane onto inorganic supercomputers, prostheses and robots while we enjoy uniform orgasmic bliss. Or maybe not orgasmic bliss, possibly some other family of ideal states that simply couldn’t be improved upon. But that’s speculative. Whatever our ultimate destination, it would be more prudent, I think, to aim for both super happiness and super intelligence – at least until we understand the full implications of what we are doing. There isn’t a moral urgency to maximizing super happiness in the same way as there is to abolishing suffering.
[It’s worth noting that the offloading option assumes that inorganic computers, prostheses and robots don’t – or at least needn’t – experience subjective phenomenal pain even if their functional architecture allows them to avoid and respond to noxious stimuli. This absence of inorganic suffering is relatively uncontroversial with existing computers – switching off one’s PC doesn’t have ethical implications, and a silicon robot can be programmed to avoid corrosive acids without experiencing agony if it’s damaged. It’s debatable whether any computational system with a classical von Neumann architecture will ever be interestingly conscious. I’m skeptical; but either way, it doesn’t affect the offloading option, unless one argues that the subjective texture of suffering is functionally essential to any system capable of avoiding harmful stimuli.]
b) The second technical option for eradicating suffering is futuristic designer drugs. In an era of mature post-genomic medicine, will it be possible rationally to design truly ideal pleasure-drugs that deliver lifelong, high-functioning well-being without unacceptable side-effects? “Ideal pleasure drugs” here is just a piece of shorthand. Such drugs can in principle embrace cerebral, empathetic, aesthetic and perhaps spiritual well-being – and not just hedonistic pleasure in the usual one-dimensional and amoral sense.
We’re not talking here about recreational euphoriants, which simply activate the negative feedback mechanisms of the brain; nor the shallow, opiated contentment of a Brave New World; nor drugs that induce euphoric mania, with its uncontrolled excitement, loss of critical insight, grandiosity and flight of ideas. Can we develop true wonder drugs that deliver sublime well-being on a sustainable basis, re calibrating the hedonic treadmill to ensure a high quality of life for everyone?
A lot of people recoil from the word “drugs” – which is understandable given today’s noxious street drugs and their uninspiring medical counterparts. Yet even academics and intellectuals in our society typically take the prototypical dumb drug, ethyl alcohol. If it’s socially acceptable to take a drug that makes you temporarily happy and stupid, then why not rationally design drugs to make people perpetually happier and smarter? Presumably, in order to limit abuse-potential, one would want any ideal pleasure drug to be akin – in one limited but important sense – to nicotine, where the smoker’s brain finely calibrates its optimal level: there is no uncontrolled dose-escalation.
There are of course all kinds of pitfalls to drug-based solutions. Technically, I think these pitfalls can be overcome, though I won’t try to show this here. But there is a deeper issue. If there weren’t something fundamentally wrong – or at least fundamentally inadequate – with our existing natural state of consciousness bequeathed by evolution, then we wouldn’t be so keen to change it. Even when it’s not unpleasant, everyday consciousness is mediocre compared to what we call peak experiences. Ordinary everyday consciousness was presumably adaptive in the sense it helped our genes leave more copies of themselves on the African Savannah; but why keep it as our default-state indefinitely? Why not change human nature by literally repairing our genetic code?
Again, this dismissal of pharmacological solutions may be too quick. Arguably, Utopian designer drugs may always be useful for the fine-grained and readily reversible control of consciousness; and I think designer drugs will be an indispensable tool to explore the disparate varieties of conscious mind. But wouldn’t it be better if we were all born with a genetic predisposition to psychological super-health rather than needing chronic self-medication? Does even the most ardent abolitionist propose to give cocktails of drugs to all children from birth; and then to take such drug cocktails for the rest of our lives?
c) So thirdly, there are genetic solutions, embracing both somatic and germ line therapy.
By way of context, today there is a minority of people who are always depressed or dysthymic, albeit to varying degrees. Studies with mono- and dizygotic twins confirm there is a high degree of genetic loading for depression. Conversely, there are some people who are temperamentally optimistic. Beyond the optimists, there is a very small minority of people who are what psychiatrists call hyperthymic. Hyperthymic people aren’t manic or bipolar; but by contemporary standards, they are always exceedingly happy, albeit sometimes happier than others. Hyperthymic people respond “appropriately” and adaptively to their environment. Indeed they are characteristically energetic, productive and creative. Even when they are blissful, they aren’t “blissed out”.
Now what if, as a whole civilization, we were to opt to become genetically hyperthymic – to adopt a motivational system driven entirely by adaptive gradients of well-being? More radically, as the genetic basis of hedonic tone is understood, might we opt to add multiple extra copies of hyperthymia-promoting genes/allelic combinations and their regulatory promoters – not abolishing homeostasis and the hedonic treadmill but shifting our hedonic set-point to a vastly higher level?
Three points here:First, this genetic re-calibration might seem to be endorsing another kind of uniformity; but it’s worth recalling that happier people – and especially hyperdopaminergic people – are typically responsive to a broader range of potentially rewarding stimuli than depressives: they engage in more exploratory behavior. This makes getting stuck in a sub-optimal rut less likely, both for the enhanced individual and posthuman society as a whole.
Secondly, universal hyperthymia might sound like a gigantic experiment; and in a sense of course it is. But all sexual reproduction is an experiment. We play genetic roulette, shuffling our genes and then throwing the genetic dice. Most of us flinch at the word “eugenics”; but that’s what we’re effectively practicing, crudely and incompetently, when we choose our prospective mates. The difference is that within the next few decades, prospective parents will be able to act progressively more rationally and responsibly in their reproductive decisions. Pre-implantation genetic screening is going to become routine; artificial wombs will release us from the constraints of the human birth-canal; and a revolution in reproductive medicine will begin to replace the old Darwinian lottery. The question is not whether a reproductive revolution is coming, but rather what kinds of being – and what kinds of consciousness – do we want to create?
Thirdly, isn’t this reproductive revolution going to be the prerogative of rich elites in the West? Probably not for long. Compare the brief lag between the introduction of, say, mobile phones and their world-wide adoption with the 50 year time-lag between the introduction and world-wide adoption of radio; and the 20 year lag between the introduction and world-wide penetration of television. The time-lag between the initial introduction and global acceptance of new technologies is shrinking rapidly. So of course is the price.
Anyway, one of the advantages of genetically re-calibrating the hedonic treadmill rather than abolishing it altogether, at least for the foreseeable future, is that the functional analogues of pain, anxiety, guilt and even depression can be preserved without their nasty raw feels as we understand them today. We can retain the functional analogues of discontent – arguably the motor of progress – and retain the discernment and critical insight lacking in the euphorically manic. Even if hedonic tone is massively enhanced, and even if our reward centers are physically and functionally amplified, then it’s still possible in principle to conserve much of our existing preference architecture. If you prefer Mozart to Beethoven, or philosophy to pushpin, then you can still retain this preference ranking even if your hedonic tone is hugely enriched.
Now personally, I think it would be better if our preference architecture were radically changed, and we pursued [please pardon the jargon] a “re-encephalisation of emotion”. Evolution via natural selection has left us strongly predisposed to form all manner of dysfunctional preferences that harm both ourselves and others for the benefit of our genes. Recall Genghis Khan: “The greatest happiness is to scatter your enemy, to drive him before you, to see his cities reduced to ashes, to see those who love him shrouded in tears, and to gather into your bosom his wives and daughters.”
Now I’m told academia isn’t quite that bad, but even university life has its forms of urbane savagery – its competitive status-seeking and alpha-male dominance rituals: a zero-sum game with many losers. Too many of our preferences reflect nasty behaviors and states of mind that were genetically adaptive in the ancestral environment. Instead, wouldn’t it be better if we rewrote our own corrupt code? I’ve focused here on genetically enhancing hedonic tone. Yet mastery of the biology of emotion means that we’ll be able, for instance, to enlarge our capacity for empathy, functionally amplifying mirror neurons and engineering a sustained increase in oxytocin-release to promote trust and sociability. Likewise, we can identify the molecular signatures of, say, spirituality, our aesthetic sense, or our sense of humor – and modulate and “over-express” their psychological machinery too. From an information-theoretic perspective, what is critical to an adaptive, flexible, intelligent response to the world is not our absolute point on a hedonic scale but that we are informationally sensitive to differences. Indeed information theorists sometimes simply define information as a “difference that makes a difference”.
However, to stress again, this re-encephalisation of emotion is optional. It’s technically feasible to engineer the well-being of all sentience and retain most but not all of our existing preference architecture. The three technical options for abolishing suffering presented here – wireheading, designer drugs and genetic engineering – aren’t mutually exclusive. Are they exhaustive? I don’t know of any other viable options. Some transhumanists believe we could one day all be scanned, digitized and uploaded into inorganic computers and reprogrammed. Well, perhaps, I’m skeptical; but in any case, this proposal doesn’t solve the suffering of existing organic life unless we embrace so-called destructive uploading – a holocaust option I’m not even going to consider here.
2: WHY IT SHOULD HAPPEN
Assume that within the next few centuries we will acquire these Godlike powers over our emotions. Assume, too, that the signalling function of unpleasant experience can be replaced – either through the re-calibration argued for here, or through the offloading of everything unpleasant or routine to inorganic prostheses, bionic implants or inorganic computers – or perhaps through outright elimination in the case of something like jealousy. Why should we all be abolitionists?
If one is a classical utilitarian, then the abolitionist project follows: it’s Bentham plus biotechnology. One doesn’t have to be a classical utilitarian to endorse the abolition of suffering; but all classical utilitarians should embrace the abolitionist project. Bentham championed social and legislative reform, which is great as far as it goes; but he was working before the era of biotechnology and genetic medicine.
If one is a scientifically enlightened Buddhist, then the abolitionist project follows too. Buddhists, uniquely among the world’s religions, focus on the primacy of suffering in the living world. Buddhists may think that the Noble Eight fold Path offers a surer route to Nirvana than genetic engineering; but it’s hard for a Buddhist to argue in principle against biotech if it works. Buddhists focus on relieving suffering via the extinction of desire; yet it’s worth noting this extinction is technically optional, and might arguably lead to a stagnant society. Instead it’s possible both to abolish suffering and continue to have all manner of desires.
Persuading followers of Islam and the Judaeo-Christian tradition is more of a challenge. But believers claim – despite anomalies in the empirical evidence – that Allah/God is infinitely compassionate and merciful. So if mere mortals can envisage the well-being of all sentience, it would seem blasphemous to claim that God is more limited in the scope of His benevolence.
Most contemporary philosophers aren’t classical utilitarians or Buddhists or theists. Why should, say, an ethical pluralist take the abolitionist project seriously?
Here I want to take as my text Shakespeare’s
“For there was never yet philosopher That could endure the toothache patiently.
[Much Ado About Nothing, Scene Five, Act One (Leonato speaking)]
When one is gripped by excruciating physical pain, one is always shocked at just how frightful it can be.
It’s tempting to suppose that purely “psychological” pain – loneliness, rejection, existential angst, grief, anxiety, depression – can’t be as atrocious as extreme physical pain; yet the reason over 800,000 people in the world take their own lives every year is mainly psychological distress. It’s not that other things – great art, friendship, social justice, a sense of humor, cultivating excellence of character, academic scholarship, etc – aren’t valuable; but rather when intense physical or psychological distress intrudes – either in one’s own life or that of a loved one – we recognize that this intense pain has immediate priority and urgency. If you are in agony after catching your hand in the door, then you’d give short shrift to someone who urged you to remember the finer things in life. If you’re distraught after an unhappy love affair, then you don’t want to be tactlessly reminded it’s a beautiful day outside.
OK, while it lasts, extreme pain or psychological distress has an urgency and priority that overrides the rest of one’s life projects; but so what? When the misery passes, why not just get on with one’s life as before?
Well, natural science aspires to “a view from nowhere”, a notional God’s-eye view. Physics tells us that no here-and-now is privileged over any other; all are equally real. Science and technology are shortly going to give us Godlike powers over the entire living world to match this Godlike perspective. I argue that so long as there is any sentient being who is undergoing suffering similar to our distress, that suffering should be tackled with the same priority and urgency as if it were one’s own pain or the pain of a loved one. With power comes complicity. Godlike powers carry godlike responsibilities. Thus the existence of suffering 200 years ago, for instance, may indeed have been terrible; but it’s not clear that such suffering can sensibly be called “immoral” – because there wasn’t much that could be done about it. But thanks to biotechnology, now there is – or shortly will be. Over the next few centuries, suffering of any kind is going to become optional.
If you’re not a classical ethical utilitarian, the advantage of re-calibrating the hedonic treadmill rather than simply seeking to maximize super-happiness is that you are retaining at least a recognizable descendant of our existing preference architecture. Re-calibration of the hedonic treadmill can be made consistent with your existing value scheme. Hence even the ill-named “preference utilitarian” can be accommodated. Indeed control over the emotions means that you can pursue your existing life projects more effectively.
And what about the alleged character-building function of suffering? “That which does not crush me makes me stronger”, said Nietzsche. This worry seems misplaced. Other things being equal, enhancing hedonic tone strengthens motivation – it makes us psychologically more robust. By contrast, prolonged low mood leads to a syndrome of learned helplessness and behavioral despair.
I haven’t explicitly addressed the value nihilist – the subjectivist or ethical skeptic who says all values are simply matters of opinion, and that one can’t logically derive an “ought” from an “is”.
Well, let’s say I find myself in agony because my hand is on a hot stove. That agony is intrinsically motivating, even if my conviction that I ought to withdraw my hand doesn’t follow the formal canons of logical inference.
If one takes the scientific world-picture seriously, then there is nothing ontologically special or privileged about here-and-now or me – the egocentric illusion is a trick of perspective engineered by selfish DNA.
If it’s wrong for me to be in agony, then it is wrong for anyone, anywhere.
3: WHY IT WILL HAPPEN
OK, it’s technically feasible. A world without suffering would be wonderful; and full-blown paradise-engineering even better. But again, so what? It’s technically feasible to build a thousand-metre cube of cheddar cheese. Why is a pain-free world going to happen? Perhaps it’s just wishful thinking. Perhaps we’ll opt to retain the biology of suffering indefinitely.
The counterargument here is that whether or not one is sympathetic to the abolitionist project, we are heading for a reproductive revolution of designer babies. Prospective parents are soon going to be choosing the characteristics of their future children. We’re on the eve of the Post-Darwinian Transition, not in the sense that selection pressure will be any less severe, but evolution will no longer be “blind” and “random”: there will no longer be natural selection but unnatural selection. We will be choosing the genetic makeup of our future offspring, selecting and designing alleles and allelic combinations in anticipation of their consequences. There will be selection pressure against nastier alleles and allelic combinations that were adaptive in the ancestral environment.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a rigorous argument, but imagine you are choosing the genetic dial-settings for mood – the hedonic set-point – of your future children. What settings would you pick? You might not want gradients of lifelong super-happiness, but the overwhelming bulk of parents will surely want to choose happy children. For a start, they are more fun to raise. Most parents across most cultures say, I think sincerely, that they want their children to be happy. One may be skeptical of parents who say happiness is the only thing they care about for their kids – many parents are highly ambitious. But other things being equal, happiness signals success – possibly the ultimate evolutionary origin of why we value the happiness of our children as well as our own.
Of course the parental choice argument isn’t decisive. Not least, it’s unclear how many more generations of free reproductive choices lie ahead before radical anti-aging technologies force a progressively tighter collective control over our reproductive decisions – since a swelling population of ageless quasi-immortals can’t multiply indefinitely in finite physical space. But even if centralized control of reproductive decisions becomes the norm, and procreation itself becomes rare, the selection pressure against primitive Darwinian genotypes will presumably be intense. Thus it’s hard to envisage what future social formations would really allow the premeditated creation of any predisposition to depressive or anxiety disorders – or even the “normal” pathologies of unenhanced consciousness.
RENE GUENON, TRADITIONALIST, ALEXANDER DUGIN ON THE FOURTH POLITICAL POWER, BRANCO MALIC’S RESPONSE, POLITICS, AND VISIONARIES
“The quantitative degeneration of all things is closely linked to that of money, as is shown by the fact that nowadays the ‘worth’ of an object is ordinarily ‘estimated’ only in terms of its price, considered simply as a ‘figure’, a ‘sum’, or a numerical quantity of money; in fact, with most of our contemporaries, every judgment brought to bear on an object is nearly always based exclusively on what it costs. The word ‘estimate’ has been emphasized because it has in itself a double meaning, qualitative and quantitative; today the first meaning has been lost to sight, or what amounts to the same thing, means have been found to equate it to the second, and thus it comes about that not only is the ‘worth’ of an object ‘estimated’ according to its price, but the ‘worth’ of a man is ‘estimated’ according to his wealth.”
― René Guénon
A Traditionalist an Perennialist
For many years, maybe 44 years to date, I have been aware of Rene, Jean, Marie, Joseph Guenon, also later known as Abd al –Wahid Yahya (al-Maliki, al-Hamidi ash-Shadhili ) a French author and intellectual who remains an influential figure in the domain of metaphysics, having written on topics ranging from metaphysics, “sacred science” and traditional studies to symbolism and initiation.
In 1921, Guénon published an Introduction to the Study of the Hindu Doctrines. His goal, as he writes it, is an attempt at presenting to westerners eastern metaphysics and spirituality as they are understood and thought by easterners themselves, while pointing at what René Guénon describes as all the erroneous interpretations and misunderstandings of western orientalism and “neospiritualism” (for the latter, notably the proponents of Madame Blavatsky’s Theosophism). Right from that time, he presents a rigorous understanding, not only of Hindu doctrines, but also of eastern metaphysics in general. He managed to expose these doctrines to a western public viewed by him as quite unprepared and unreceptive as a whole. He departed from standard scholarship (orientalist) terminology and methods and preferred to expose the doctrines as a simple “easterner”, devoid of what he called “western prejudices”. For one of the most famous aspects of René Guénon’s work is the irreducible difference he describes between the East and the West. René Guénon defines eastern metaphysics and intellectualism as of “universal nature”, that “opens possibilities of conception which are truly beyond any limitation”.
His work comprises:
An exposition of fundamental metaphysical principles: Introduction to the Study of the Hindu Doctrines which contains the general definition of the term “tradition” as Guénon defines it, Man and His Becoming according to the Vedânta, The Symbolism of the Cross, The Multiple States of Being,The Metaphysical Principles of the Infinitesimal Calculus, Oriental Metaphysics.
Studies in symbolism (comprising many articles he wrote for the journal Le Voile d’Isis which became later known under the name Etudes Traditionnelles). These studies in symbolism were later compiled by Michel Valsan in the posthumous book Symbols of Sacred Science. The studies The Great Triad,Traditional Forms & Cosmic Cycles, Insights into Islamic Esoterism & Taoism and The King of the World (alternately translated as Lord of the World) are also mostly about symbolism.
Fundamental studies related to Initiation, a subject completely re-exposited by Guénon from the traditional perspective: Perspectives on Initiation, Initiation and Spiritual Realization, The Esoterism of Dante.
Criticism of the modern world and of “neospiritualism”: East and West, The Crisis of the Modern World, Spiritual Authority and Temporal Power, Theosophy: History of a Pseudo-Religion, The Spiritist Fallacy and The Reign of Quantity & the Signs of the Times, the latter book being often considered as his masterpiece as an explanation of the modern world from the traditional perspective.
Various studies in esoterism: Saint Bernard, Insights into Christian Esoterism, Studies in Freemasonry and Compagnonnage, Studies in Hinduism, &c.
Imagine my surprise of the likes of Alexander Dugin, the so named Putin’s Rasputin claiming ideas derived from Rene Guenon!
In all honesty I had read some time ago a little about Dugin, mainly on the Western media, not an unbiased source for news, and filtered through the lens of what it’s considered a politically, Liberal, and correct attitude, then the shock of recently reading a extract from his Fourth Political Theory book, and when he claims allegiance to the Traditionalist.
Dugin’s Fourth Political Power:
“Modernity and its ideological basis (individualism, liberal democracy, capitalism, consumerism, and so on) are the cause of the future catastrophe of humanity, and the global domination of the Western lifestyle is the reason for the final degradation of the Earth. The West is approaching its terminus, and we should not let it drag the rest of us down into the abyss with it.
Tradition (religion, hierarchy, and family) and its values were overthrown at the dawn of modernity. All three political theories were conceived as artificial ideological constructions by people who comprehended, in various ways, ‘the death of God’ (Nietzsche), the ‘disenchantment of the world’ (Weber), and the ‘end of the sacred.’ This was the core of the New Era of modernity: man came to replace God, philosophy and science replaced religion, and the rational, forceful, and technological constructs took the place of revelation.
When we use the term ‘modernization’, we mean progress, linear accumulation, and a certain continuous process. When we speak of ‘modernization’, we presuppose development, growth, and evolution. It is the same semantic system. Thus, when we speak of the ‘unconditionally positive achievements of modernization: we agree with a very important basic paradigm – we agree with the idea that ‘human society is developing, progressing, evolving, growing, and getting better and better: that is to say, we share a particular vision of historical optimism.
This historical optimism pertains to the three classical political ideologies (liberalism, Communism, and fascism). It is rooted in the scientific, societal, political, and social worldview in the humanities and natural sciences of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries, when the ideas of progress, development, and growth were taken as axioms that could not be doubted. In other words, this entire set of axioms, as well as the whole historiography and predictive analytics of the Nineteenth century in the humanities and the natural sciences, were built upon the idea of progress.
The Socialist Herbert Spencer claimed that the development of human society that the development of human society was the next stage of evolution in the animal species, and that there was a connection, and a continuity between the animal world and social development.
And, therefore, all the laws of the animal world leading to the development, improvement, and evolution on the animal world, within Darwin’s framework, can be projected onto society, This is the basis of the famous theory, ‘Social Darwinism’, of which Spencer was a classic representative. If, according to Darwin, the driving force behind the evolution of the animal kingdom its the struggle for survival and natural selection, then the same process must take place in society, argued Spencer. And the more perfect the struggle is for survival (Inter-species, intrs-species, the struggle of the strong against the weak, the competition for resources, pleasure), the more perfect our society becomes, The question is how to aid this process of selection. According to Spencer, this is the theme of the liberal model, and is the meaning of social progress.
Therefore, if we are liberals, in one way or the other we inherited this ‘zoological’ approach to social development based on the struggle against the destruction of the weak by the strong.
Spencer’s theory contains an important point that must be elaborated upon. He argues that there are two phases of social development. The first phase occurs when the struggle for survival is conducted crudely, by force; this is characteristic of the ancient world. The second occurs when the struggle is carried out more subtly through economic means. Once the bourgeois revolution takes place, the struggle for survival doesn’t stop. According to Spencer, it acquires new, more advanced, and more efficient forms; it relocates into the sphere of the market. Here the strongest survive-that is the richest. Instead of the most powerful feudal lord, a hero, a strong person, or a leader, who simply sizes all that there is for grabs around his community, taking away what all that belongs to other nations and races and sharing it with the ruling ethnicity or cast, now come the capitalist, who bring the same aggressive principle to the market, the corporation, or the trading company. The transition from the order of power to the order of money, according to Spencer, does not mean the humanization of the process, but only underscores greater effectiveness. That is to say, the struggle in the market sphere between the strong (meaning the rich) and the weak (meaning the poor) becomes more efficient and leads to higher levels of development until super-rich, super-strong, and super developed countries emerge. Progress, according to Spencer, and, more broadly speaking, according to liberalism is always the growth of economic power, since this continues to refine the struggle for survival of the animal species, the warfare methods of strong nations, and the castes within the framework of pre-capitalistic states.
Thus, an animalistic form of aggression is embedded in the liberal idea of progress, which is regarded as the main trajectory of social development. With more economic freedom, there is greater power for takeovers, attacks, mergers, and acquisitions.
In such a system, the ‘more advanced’ law or the more advanced, ‘more modern’ methods of production do not mean that they are more humane; what it means that they allow more opportunities for the strong to more effectively realize their power, while the weak can only admit defeat, or, if they have any strength left, fight on. In this meaner, the modern idea of economic growth, as we see in liberals such as Alan Greenspan, and Ben Bernake, has its foundations and origins in the idea of the struggle between species, that is, the feral destruction of the weak by the strong, or the validation of the strong at the expense of the weak. Only instead of the conflict between predators and herbivores, we have the golden billion, and in that golden billion, their own ‘kings of beasts’ ( the New York Stock Exchange and the World Bank bankers) who devour all that there is up for grabs and, at the same time, turn the forest of the World into ‘social infrastructures’.
Therefore, when we speak of ‘modernization’ into the liberal vein, of necesity we mean the enhancement of the social, political, cultural, spiritual, and informational scenario within which the absolute aggression of the strong against the weak can be implemented.
There is only one way out-to reject the classical political theories, both winners and losers, strain our imaginations, seize the reality of a new world, correctly decipher the challenges of post-modernity, and create something new-something beyond the political battles of Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries. Such an approach is an invitation to the development of the Fourth Political Theory-beyond Communism, Fascism, and Liberalism.”
“Dugin charges that Liberalism in the end contributes to decline and does not achieve the progress it claims. “Communism and Fascism have collapsed,” Peter J. Leithart asserts, then he assigns the belief that “liberalism, the final twentieth-century ideology, turned into libertine postmodernism as soon as it triumphed,” to Dugin’s mindset. Dugin believes that “the idea of modernization is based on the idea of progress, which is regarded as the main trajectory of social development. With more economic freedom, there is greater power for takeovers, attacks, mergers, and acquisitions. Liberal discourse, meaning the analysis of the liberal ideologist, is a completely animal discourse.”
Branko Malic’s, Dugin’s questionable Traditionalism
“Alexander Dugin’s influence on Russian foreign policy is an object of speculation, mostly on the level of gossip. In the West he is often times dubbed new Rasputin, probably because mainstream opinion maker’s intelligence doesn’t seem to reach further of pattern recognition (clue: the beard). While it’s hard to believe that esteemed professor sees himself as “Russia’s greatest love machine”, it is impossible to overlook that some of the moves Russian foreign policy makes are fairly concordant to his opinions and affirm much of what he is saying. Diplomatic victory over the West during the first phase of Syria crisis cannot be denied, and it is hard to escape the fact that Reagan’s term “Evil empire” is coming dangerously close to denote the USA itself. However, there is a great danger in idealizing the Eurasian project spearheaded by Russian Federation. Uncritical glorification of the rising might of Russia, although understandable, shouldn’t lead to forgetting the famous saying about “enigma wrapped in secret”. In other words, Westerner must never forget that he doesn’t know and – as is implied in Dugin’s logic – maybe even cannot know, what goes on behind Putin’s stone face. Further, it is questionable how really can one reconcile militant Evolian mysticism with ascetic wisdom of Guenon, which Dugin apparently tries to do. It is a pity that West is more or less ignorant of Guenon’s consequent spiritual descendant, Hungarian Bela Hamvas, man far more experienced in enduring than exercising the violent force, but who nevertheless almost single handed kept the flame of Tradition alive for all Eastern Europe. What he and Guenon were able to do is to point the finger and say: this is Corruption. Nothing more, nothing less. And that in itself made them revolutionaries. Resistance of the sort Alexander Dugin advocates could prove no less immoral than the aggression of the West and in fact can hardly be reconciled with the religious attitude of Traditionalism.
We must conclude that Alexander Dugin is relevant thinker and his work is a point of reference for everybody who sees, or at least hears, something creeping in the bushes near his front door. Dugin says it clearly: in the plastic flowers of Globalization, there is a serpent hiding. But if we observe how he, as well as the European alternative right in general, splices the Traditionalism and realpolitik, the unavoidable question arises: do you really cure the viper’s bite with another batch of poison? No doubt, ever more people are becoming aware that history of 20th century was not what they were told it was. The values of the West more and more prove to be a threat not only to political, economical and biological, but also the very logical foundation of human being as such. Nihilism is all out of masks. However, to align with thinkers like Alexander Dugin solely because they see the shortcomings of the West so clearly is very unreasonable. For although his cards are not marked, don’t be so sure you know what card game he is really playing.”
My View of the Matter
I can’t deny to agree with the above words expressed by Dugin, but I would be the first to recognize at my lack of knowledge about Dugin’s political intentions, and his dealings with Putin, and as to what extent Putin himself take Dugin’s advise in his political dealings, or it’s just a ‘spiritual’ ideological adviser of a philosophical nature, rather than a de facto policy maker? Do not know, it’s said he doesn’t even hold a job at the Kremlin, journalist Alexander Nevzorov: “if we had had Sergey Kurginyan and Dugin instead of Putin, there would have been hell for all of us to pay, they would have unleashed a European and World War without a shadow of a doubt, without considering consequences at all.” But “Dugin and Kurginyan do not have the slightest impact on what is going on in the Kremlin and do not even get coaching there”.
My only interest on him, it’s in relation to Rene Guenon’s Traditionalist ideas. And in all this I suspect a little of an idealism, on his part, based on isolated, and disconnected readings on Guenon’s books, than a serious, more direct relationship, with Guenon’s school of Traditionalist heirs.
The Traditionalist School is a group of 20th and 21st century thinkers concerned with what they considered to be the demise of traditional forms of knowledge, both aesthetic and spiritual, within Western society. The principal thinkers in this tradition are René Guénon, Ananda Coomaraswamy and Frithjof Schuon. Other important thinkers in this tradition include Titus Burckhardt, Martin Lings, Bela Hamvas, Jean-Louis Michon, Marco Pallis, Huston Smith, Hossein Nasr, Jean Borella, Julius Evola and William Chittick. A central belief of this school is the existence of a perennial wisdom, or perennial philosophy, which says that there are primordial and universal truths which form the source for, and are shared by all the major world religions.
A group of mainly Western idealists, mystics, religious scholars, seeking the Wisdom of the East, known only to the few who care what they have to say, certainly a small minority, who also have ideological detractors, but hardly a nest for political activism, upheaval, and controversial ideas regarding a ‘New World Order’. Now thrown into the searchlights, by Dugin’s pronouncements. And consequently my surprise of Dugin’s allegiance to the Traditionalist or Perennial school, despite my sympathy for the ideas he express above, and by my long acquaintance with the Traditionalist writings who seem to have little in common with Dugin’s public persona, by their disregard for the limelight of politics. However we know ideas move mountains, and that a seed on fertile soil, under the right conditions grows, as for what kind of seed may be, only the future will tell.
“The conclusion is that the whole of those laws
of nature which have been woven into a
unified scheme – mechanics, gravitation, electrodynamics and optics – have their origin,
not in any special mechanism of nature,
but in the workings of the mind”
Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington
We all have noticed that time drags when we want to get over with something, like getting home after a long commute, or getting out from work after a long day of dealing with difficult things, but also the reverse it’s true, the more busy you are the faster time seems to go by, I remember a particular job I did for three years, were my job was to take call, after call, as a customer service representative, not an easy job, but that I got to like it, because as I got used to, most of the times someone would come to me and tap me on the shoulder, to call my attention, and said, it’s time to go. And it seem to me that I had only been there three, or four hours, rather than eight!
Over a century ago, Albert Einstein postulated that a given time interval is registered differently by independent (moving) clocks. Interestingly, Einstein himself recognized the similarity between the relativity of physical and psychological time: “When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute – and it’s longer than any hour. That’s relativity.” Einstein was literally talking about different temporal contexts providing different read-outs for the same physical interval. While relative time became the de-facto view in physics, the relativity of psychological time is still a matter for debate. For example, neuron-biological evidence suggests indeed that major time scales (millisecond, second-to-minutes, and circadian) are processes by different regions of the brain (e.g., cortex, cerebellum, striatum, and suprachiasmatic nucleus), it is still unclear whether everyday timing in the seconds-to-minutes range is performed by a single or rather multiple parallel mechanisms in the brain.
Real or absolute time does not exist – only local time(is), different for each observer.
Short list of types of temporal illusions:
Telescoping effect: People tend to recall recent events as occurring further back in time than they actually did (backward telescoping) and distant events as occurring more recently than they actually did (forward telescoping).
Vierordt’s law: Shorter intervals tend to be overestimated while longer intervals tend to be underestimated
Time intervals associated with more changes may be perceived as longer than intervals with fewer changes
Perceived temporal length of a given task may shorten with greater motivation
Perceived temporal length of a given task may stretch when broken up or interrupted
Auditory stimuli may appear to last longer than visual stimuli
Time duration may appear longer with greater stimulus intensity (e.g., auditory loudness or pitch)
Simultaneity judgments can be manipulated by repeated exposure to non-simultaneous stimuli
Time as Unreal
In 5th century BC Greece, Antiphon the Sophist, in a fragment preserved from his chief work On Truth, held that: “Time is not a reality (hypostasis), but a concept (noêma) or a measure (metron).”Parmenides went further, maintaining that time, motion, and change were illusions, leading to the paradoxes of his follower Zeno. Time as an illusion is also a common theme in Buddhist thought.
J. M. E. McTaggarts 1908 The Unreality of Time argues that, since every event has the characteristic of being both present and not present (i.e., future or past), that time is a self-contradictory idea (see also The flow of time).
These arguments often center around what it means for something to be unreal. Modern physicists generally believe that time is as real as space, though others, such as Julian Barbour in his book The End of Time, argue that quantum equations of the universe take their true form when expressed in the timeless realm containing every possible now or momentary configuration of the universe, called ‘platonia’ by Barbour.
A modern philosophical theory called presentism views the past and the future as human-mind interpretations of movement instead of real parts of time (or “dimensions”) which coexist with the present. This theory rejects the existence of all direct interaction with the past or the future, holding only the present as tangible. This is one of the philosophical arguments against time travel. This contrasts with eternalism (all time: present, past and future, is real) and the growing block theory (the present and the past are real, but the future is not).
Our story: The Longest Night Of My life
There is a lot to talk about time, but this would have to be a book, and it’s just a post, so here it is my personal perception, and experience of how time can stretch to great lengths, it was many years ago, somewhere in December of 1973 just before Christmas and close to the Winter Solstice when nights are long, a friend of mine invited me to go and listen to a conference to a town 60 miles away from us, the conference would start at 8:30 PM and we would be living somewhere before 7:00 PM to arrive with plenty of time to find the place.
Having to teach a Yoga class at 6:AM the next day, decided to take a little nap somewhere at 4:00 PM that evening before leaving, expecting a long night ahead of us, but to be back before midnight. Woke up from my nap at 5:00 PM and headed to the Yoga studio where we would meet to leave, at that time it was one of the shortest days of the year and I remember it was almost dark, and by the time that I arrived to the studio, 40 minutes after it was totally dark, and not only that, it started to rain, shortly as I left my home, very likely now day, I would had apologize to my friend and cancel the trip, but been young and excited about the conference the four of us we left as planed somewhere around 6:30 PM.
Half way down the way, with the rain some rocks had landslide in to the road, being dark and rainy my friend hit one of the rocks and had a flat tire, and broke the ring of the wheel. It took us quite a while in the dark, and with the danger of other cars hitting us from behind to change the wheel. Needless to say by the time we could mount the spare tire we better should had turn the car around and go back home, but instead my friend the driver over optimistic we fought traffic and the rain in the city, and once when we finally got to the conference, we were able to listen the answer to the last question the speaker had, somewhere a little after 10:00 PM.
My friend worried about not having a spare tire on our way back, he went looking with some of his relatives who lived in that town, for a spare tire, to begin with, the relatives lived at quite some distance, and that also took some time, and he not only pick up the tire but he talked to the relatives for an hour or so, finally we left back to our town and we arrived maybe at 2:00 AM, but of course they couldn’t drop me right away, they were hungry and wanted diner!
So we looked for a 24 hour place to eat, and needless to say it was way past the time estimated we would be back by midnight, somewhere around 3:30 AM when they drop me home, went to bed immediately just after setting the alarm for 5:00 AM, after a brief sleep the alarm went off, and dressing up I went in to the wet, and muddy streets, rain was still pouring, and what strike me right at that moment as I walked to the class, through the poor lighted streets avoiding mud, and big pools of water, under the rain, how it was still dark, and despite traveling to a different town, and back, doing all the things we did, here I was walking the same path I did earlier a few hours before in darkness to meet my friends at the studio, but the night wasn’t over yet..!
No doubt the night wasn’t longer than any other night around that time of the year, but so much events were sandwiched in between, including walking twice to the Yoga studio in darkness during the same cold, rainy night, that it stuck in my memory, neither was the toughest night of my life, as I have memories of hell, like spending the night on a train trip on the mountains in a freezing night without proper clothing, and no heating in the car compartment, this just been only the prelude of many subsequent nights on that trip, sleeping on cement floors, on top of cardboard, and the flimsiest of a sleeping bag, separating my body from the cement floor, on subfreezing weather for a whole month. And many other nights when I used to work night shift, or whatever many other occurrences through a life’s long journey.
Time perception is relative, maybe because so much was sandwiched in between, went on that night, and we wasted the night away without achieving anything of purpose, since waking up from my early nap in semidarkness, and not seeing the light of day after finishing the teaching of the class in the early morning. It stayed in my memory as a very long night, it was the longest night I remember maybe because it just stuck on my mind, to be that way. I am sure for all of us there have being similar occurrences, when time seem to stretch for ever, or at least an unusual length, for no other reason that we perceive it that way.
MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH CINEMA, FROM TEN SECONDS TO HELL, HURRICANES, AND THINGS TO COME, CINEMA PARADISO, AN EDUCATION, AND DISILLUSIONMENT
“For me, film making combines everything. That’s the reason I’ve made cinema my life’s work. In films, painting and literature, theater and music come together. But a film is still a film.”
My love of movies
I was probably six years of age when my parents took me to see my first movie ever, at the time movie theaters didn’t allow children less than seven years of age in to the theaters, at the 8:00PM show mainly I guess at least in my days as a child they put us in bed just after diner no later than 9:00PM, or not to disturb the adults at the theater, besides most movies were foreign movies and had subtitles, if you were too young to read there was no point to take a child to the movies. The movie I remember was Ten seconds to Hell, a movie by Robert Aldrich with Jack Palance, and Jeff Chandler, the movie was sort of a failure, and not memorable, except to me, since it was the first of thousands of movies I have watched through the years.
Fortunately I learnt to read at five, so I could read the subtitles, now there was no television in town, a thing hard to understand to people now days , but I got to remind you this was 1959, there was no satellites even if the first Russian Sputnik was launched in October 1957, first time ever than TV signal was transmitted from a satellite wasn’t until July 23, 1962, but since in my town we lacked a tower to capture the signal, in fact not until 1968 our town got a TV tower for the first time.
So as a child I missed watching TV, but in our small town we had been watching movies since 1897 two years just after the Lumiere brothers offered their first picture to the people of Paris, and in my childhood we possessed a whooping six movie theaters, or at least three of them running continually, since one did not have a roof and run at night only for obvious reasons, (but not a drive in) aptly named “Tropical” and two of them were out of action periodically, theaters would start selling tickets at 3:30PM, and punctually at 4:00PM the magic of turning off the lights and start rolling the first movie would begin, you could adjust your watch to it, possibly the only thing that would run on time in my town!
And we had at each theater three old movies on Monday, three different on Tuesday, and Wednesday, Three more on Thursday, and Friday to Sunday two new releases, if my math is correct we had at least from 33, to around 60 different pictures, you could choose to watch at any given week, not counting matinees who were meant for children, and that I did, watching on the mid sixties to the early early seventies, numerous films, being at the theater four, or five times a week! An evening without going to the theater was a bore, even on school days being out of school by five we could be at a theater to catch the second picture, and stay there if we wish to do so until the end of the last picture around midnight.
Growing Up Nurtured by Movies
Now I used to joke if it wasn’t for the big old theaters at home showing us so many movies, and a respite to our daily boredom, in a town where the only two things a young person could do was go to the beach during the mornings, and to the movies during the evenings, pretty much there was nothing else to do but to read a book, or go to a bar to drink!
I believe the movies saved many of us young people of becoming early alcoholics, sad to say but on those days there where bars everywhere, I remember a particular corner with a bar in all it’s three points, and the fourth point, the local beer brewery! Movies was an innocent healthy escape you could say, not to talk a respite to the heat as well, since few people could afford air condition, and above all, truly an education on cinema, a window to the world seen on celluloid, in a time when communication with the outside world meant to be able to travel. Going to the movies on the other hand, was relatively cheap, around 35, 0r 40 cents depending on the theater.
And what a first class cinema education I got, the rich fare we were served, through our theaters we saw every movie made around the globe, not only by Hollywood, but French, Italian, British, Swedish, German, Japanese, Spanish, Indian, Mexican, Argentinian, Brazilian, and anybody who could make a movie, somehow slowly but surely the heavy canisters of celluloid would reach our theaters, and were loaded into the big old projectors. In my opinion the golden age of cinema was reached on the late fifties, through most of the sixties, and had been a long slow decline since, to the point that long after I ceased to go to the theaters, in the early eighties, and renting them instead to watch at home, and finally cancelled my Netflix account quite a few years ago, now days I ever hardly watch a movie, and haven’t been to a theater in ages, by that I do not mean good movies are no longer made, they do, not just that often.
I saw Cinema Paradiso on video, some years after it was released in 1988, already somewhat disenchanted with the mass production of movies on a totally corporate business like, industrial line of production, not that old movies were not done that way, but wised up by age, disillusioned, with the so named seventh art, maybe too much of a cynic. One of the reasons for the success of Cinema Paradiso, no doubt was that Toto’s story it’s for many of us who grew up in a small town, our own story, people like me who left for good their small town, in an age where people abandoned their small towns to go to the big cities to study, or try their luck in search of work, and a better life somewhere else, and the local movie theater was the window that provided the necessary inspiration to look for bigger horizons.
And we share the same story with some variants no doubt, but pretty much on the same lines, leaving a young High school sweetheart behind, family, and friends, to face life in the big city, with farther, and farther in between visits to home, and family, and when back, the heartbreak from seeing the abandoned remains of the old movie houses, where we spend our childhood, for so many hours dreaming…
My Story, A Matinee, and Things to Come
Only twelve years of age on September 26 1965, a Sunday my elder brother and myself did what we used to do every Sunday morning, and that was to go to the matinee that started a 10:00AM. every Sunday, it matter little to us what movies were playing, as long we had not see them yet, we used to go along with three or more friends, little did matter also that the day was sort looking like rain was coming, in those days without satellites to track the weather they relied on weather balloons that would send up every day sketchy weather information, our mother hesitated a little before letting us go, since it looked like a storm was about to hit town, but we went anyway prevailing over our mother’s fears, we arrived to the old theater and there were two movies to watch, and that was all we cared, we took our seats in our favorite spot and saw the first movie without any incident worth talking, I can’t even recall what movie it was, but during the second movie an interesting old British prewar movie, about half into it, we start noticing that the old theater roof was having leaks of water here, and there, first slowly, but as the minutes went by, more and more water start leaking down on us, suddenly a ceiling panel with a loud noise ripped off the false ceiling, and a veritable waterfall equal to emptying a swimming pool on top of our heads come down the theater!
The movie being of interest to us took a second seat to the real show when every panel of the ceiling start being coming apart under the weight of the water accumulated, between the roof, and the false ceiling, we were exposed not only to get soaked wet, but in danger of a piece of ceiling hitting us, so we run for cover, not out of the theater as we should have done, but under the projection cabin, to protect us from the water, and the more dangerous debris from the roof, and just sat there to weather the storm and keep watching the movie, and the falling debris of the ceiling!
Incredible enough the movie kept playing and we didn’t abandon the protection under the cabin until every piece of the roof was gone, and the corrugated sheets of asbestos were totally torn off by the storm, and flew away one by one, like if they were sheets of paper, still wonder where they landed, they probably did great damage!
Water kept pouring and we decided we had enough, mainly because we couldn’t see the movie anymore, there was no roof anymore, and the place look like if it was a drive inn with seats, even if the projector kept running and the light of the day, and the rain made it difficult for us to keep seeing the action on the movie, just as we started to leave the theater finally the power gave out, no doubt an electricity pole falling down somewhere, or many!
Every employee of the theater had abandoned the theater, including the projectionist, in fact we were the last to leave the now totally wrecked theater, my surprise had no end, when we descended in to the lobby and saw the candy shop under water, and the popcorn floating around!
The theater was located in a low zone of the city, in terrain that very likely was a estuary, or a marsh, if not outright land gained from the ocean, that naturally flooded when a storm of the magnitude of Hurricane Hazel hit the city.
Luckily the employees of the theater, who obviously knew better, had deserted us for quite some time, but didn’t even lock up the theater, or turn the projector off. With water to our chest and waddling through a current of water holding ourselves cautiously from the iron works of the house’s windows along our way we reached narrow Constitution street where water was running with the force of a river rapid, and had a first hand knowledge at that moment as to the why the sidewalks on that street where that high! We solved the problem by walking back in the opposite direction from where the water was coming, and forded the current so we could come out successfully at the opposite sidewalk, crossing the street at an angle, now reflect how lucky we were of not been swept away by the strong current!
From there we reached high ground on Plaza Revolucion, right at that corner in the picture below, although the plaza didn’t look as nice as in the picture!
There was no a tree left standing, every heavy Indian Laurel fig laying on the ground, but to us was an adventure just crossing the park through the the jungle of fallen branches, by that time the storm had subsided, and we reached home all excited by such great adventure, in our young lives, of course mother had another view of the event, herself a victim of an earlier Hurricane adventure, my poor mother was scared out of her wits, and blaming herself for letting us go to the matinee, posted to the window through the storm in hope to see us come safe home that day, and later more terrorized by our account of the destruction of the theater, and the general mayhem at the town caused by the storm.
Later next day my father who was out of town arrived home, and we drove on his car avoiding all sort of obstacles, like downed trees, and big water holes, and cautiously made our way along the coast seeing the devastation of many places and kept driving until we reached a point called Sabalo, at the time way out of town, where the lonely figure of a local character, famous for his jolly occurrences, nicknamed Pacharo, who had recently acted on a minor role, a little above extra, working for scale on a non talking role, along Yul Brynner and George Chakiris on a forgetful movie named Kings of the Sun, filmed on location on the outskirts of our town, Pacharo who owned a palapa restaurant by the beach, and faced the storm all by himself, very little remained of his destroyed place, but he was so happy to see us, being the first people to be able to reach his place since the day before the storm, he recognized us and yelled my father’s name running toward us as soon he saw us, as we got out of the car to talk to him, in character with his recent movie exploits he exclaimed: I withstood the storm all alone; Like Attila frente a Roma! (Sign of the Pagan) thing that provoke all the members of our family to laugh, and remember through the years Pacharo’s ordeal.
Not My First One
It was not even my first Hurricane, I had a first seat from a window at home, as a witness of great mayhem occasioned by a Hurricane in 1958 or 1959? When I was only five or six years of age and our house’s windows faced another park, and saw every huge Indian Laurel tree in the park being lifted in to the air pulled by the roots like a carrot, and crash with an uproar, like thunder sound, just fifty feet from our house, meanwhile I watched my father and an elder cousin who where trying to rescue my mother who had the bad idea just before the Hurricane hit, to go and fetch up a bag of coffee at the grocery store for breakfast that day, mother spent most of the hurricane a block from home holding in to the iron bars of a window until my father and cousin could rescue her, and brought her back home safe, a home that no longer exist, and was located in front of the park on the upper right corner in relation to the park (middle) in the picture below.
Neither those Hurricanes were the last ones, been on six Hurricanes through my life, however non as exciting as the two first ones, for many years between our friends who participated on that faithful matinee in September, try to figure out what was the name of the movie we never finished, the main problem being because at that age we cared little to read the credits, all we wanted was for the credits to end soon, so we could start watching the movie, that and the fact we didn’t knew the original title in English, on those days the translators would change the original name and give it any name they saw fit, or they pleased, as an example the Sound of Music was translated as La Novicia Rebelde! (The Rebel Novice) go figure!
Well, after almost fifty years later could figure it was Things to Come (also known in promotional material as H. G. Wells’ Things to Come) is a 1936 British black-and-white science fiction film from United Artists, produced by Alexander Korda, directed by William Cameron Menzies, and written by H. G. Wells. The film stars Raymond Massey, Ralph Richardson, Cedric Hardwicke, Pearl Argyle, and Margaretta Scott.
Thanks to the Internet, and Youtube could solve the mystery, we went to a matinee to watch Things to Come, and what it come was a Hurricane!
Ironically in my town, the oldest of all the theaters, was the only one to survive, and after it’s almost total destruction by another Hurricane in 1975 was beautifully restored and you can appreciate it on the third picture, now the place for all kinds of cultural events.
I have wonderful memories of the great many movies I had watched through the years of my life, even if now days hardly watch a movie, tired of the direction movies in general have gone, some people mainly young ones, sometimes try to talk me into watching this movie, or that other one, rarely if I do, care too much about it, at least not as I did so many years ago, I guess I have changed, lost that sense of wonderment you carry as a young person, and look at things, and life with different eyes, I will not go to specifics, too well known by many, and in fairness there is a few movies made that are good, and enjoyable no doubt, but I am no more the same small child who looked in wonderment from my seat, in the cool darkness, and silence of the old theaters, with devotion like in a temple, to the magical reflection on the screen that opened new worlds of discovery to my young eyes, and imagination.
“When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams — this may be madness. Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be!”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote
The Silver Age of Literature
The world’s first hand-tinted motion picture was produced by Thomas Edison’s company, Edison Studios, in 1895, more than 115 years ago. The dancer, Annabelle Moore (1878-1961), was just a teenager when this film was released, and her dance caused both a sensation and a scandal.
Ironically the end of the Nineteen century and the beginning of the Twenty century, those were the heydays of Literature, with writers in Russia like Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Turgenev, Andreyev, Bunin, Bulgakov In England Dickens, W Eliot, Bronte, Hardy, Kipling in America Poe, Whitman, Melville, Twain, in France Balzac, Baudelaire, Hugo, Dumas, Flaubert, Zola, Maupassant, Proust, in German Fontane, Rilke, Musil, Roth, Mann, Kafka, Hesse, in Hungary Kosztolányi, Poland Sienkiewicz, Bruno Schultz, and Gombrowicz, in Italy Pirandello and Svevo, in Spain Perez Galdos, Leopoldo Alas, Palacio Valdes, Valle Inclan, Pio Baroja, Blasco Ibañez, in Portugal, Eça de Queirós, Ireland, Wilde, James Joyce, Norway, Ibsen, and Hamsun, Sweden, Strindberg, Lagerlöf, and Lagerkvist.
And this it’s not an exhaustive list, just a few well known names to a roster of great writers of many nations who wrote great many books in a sort of Silver age of writing after the Golden age of Shakespeare, and Cervantes.
Literature As Art, Or Entertainment?
Before starting throwing accusations to contemporary literature, in all fairness let’s say most people read as an utilitarian occupation, in order to learn something, like a subject at school, like math, History, Biology, etc. We will not talk about business since if you are not able to read basically it’s even hard to get a job!
Then some may read as entertainment like reading a thriller, or a detective story, romance novel, science fiction, etc. This it’s what we call genre novels, whose main objective it’s to fill our time to avoid boredom, now some may be pretty good, and engaging, some may even border on real Literature…As to when a piece of writing crosses the line and become an authentic piece of Literature, it’s hard to tell, since most people have different standards to qualify a work of art, sad to say but now days our standards are very low, we consume a lot of garbage, in food, music, movies, television, and mass media.
It doesn’t help that the prime motivator of writing a novel it’s to sell it, not to promote Literature, or good taste on people’s reading habits, so bottom line is that a novel in order to be successful is necessary to produce money to the writer who laboriously wasted uncounted hours writing it, and to the editors as well, who need to profit from the book, so the first requisite of a writer it’s not to produce a piece of art, but something that sells, and here comes the editor saying : Sorry your work it’s very good, but I will not be able to sell it, there is not a car chase, nobody gets kill, there is not even someone stealing something, or nothing really exciting ever happens, there is not even bad words, or sex! How do you expect for me to sell this?
Exhibit Number One, The Thriller
Thriller is a broad genre of literature, film and television, having numerous sub genres. Thrillers are characterized and defined by the moods they elicit, giving viewers heightened feelings of suspense, excitement, surprise, anticipation and anxiety. The Merriam Webster dictionary: one that thrills; especially : a work of fiction or drama designed to hold the interest by the use of a high degree of intrigue, adventure, or suspense.
Writer Vladimir Nabokov, in his lectures at Cornell University, said: “In an Anglo-Saxon thriller, the villain is generally punished, and the strong silent man generally wins the weak babbling girl, but there is no governmental law in Western countries to ban a story that does not comply with a fond tradition, so that we always hope that the wicked but romantic fellow will escape scot-free and the good but dull chap will be finally snubbed by the moody heroine.”
Thrillers may be defined by the primary mood that they elicit: suspenseful excitement. In short, if it “thrills”, it is a thriller. As the introduction to a major anthology explains:
Thrillers provide such a rich literary feast. There are all kinds. The legal thriller, spy thriller, action-adventure thriller, medical thriller, police thriller, romantic thriller, historical thriller, political thriller, religious thriller, high-tech thriller, military thriller. The list goes on and on, with new variations constantly being invented. In fact, this openness to expansion is one of the genre’s most enduring characteristics. But what gives the variety of thrillers a common ground is the intensity of emotions they create, particularly those of apprehension and exhilaration, of excitement and breathlessness, all designed to generate that all-important thrill. By definition, if a thriller doesn’t thrill, it’s not doing its job.
Common methods and themes in crime and action thrillers are mainly ransoms, captivities, heists, revenge, kidnappings. Common in mystery thrillers are investigations and the whodunit technique. Common elements in dramatic and psychological thrillers include plot twists, psychology, obsession and mind games. Common in horror thrillers are serial killers, stalking, deathtraps and horror-of-personality. Elements such as fringe theories, false accusations and paranoia are common in paranoid thrillers. Threats to entire countries, spies, espionage, conspiracies, assassins and electronic surveillance are common in spy thrillers.
Characters may include criminals, stalkers, assassins, innocent victims (often on the run), menaced women, psychotic individuals, spree killers, sociopaths, agents, terrorists, cops and escaped cons, private eyes, people involved in twisted relationships, world-weary men and women, psycho-fiends, and more. The themes frequently include terrorism, political conspiracy, pursuit, or romantic triangles leading to murder. Plots of thrillers involve characters which come into conflict with each other or with outside forces.
The protagonist of these films is set against a problem. No matter what sub-genre a thriller film falls into, it will emphasize the danger that the protagonist faces. The protagonists are frequently ordinary citizens unaccustomed to danger, although commonly in crime and action thrillers, they may also be “hard men” accustomed to danger such as police officers and detectives. While protagonists of thrillers have traditionally been men, women lead characters are increasingly common.[ In psychological thrillers, the protagonists are reliant on their mental resources, whether it be by battling wits with the antagonist or by battling for equilibrium in the character’s own mind. The suspense often comes from two or more characters preying upon one another’s minds, either by playing deceptive games with the other or by merely trying to demolish the other’s mental state.
An atmosphere of menace and sudden violence, such as crime and murder, characterize thrillers. The tension usually arises when the character(s) is placed in a dangerous situation, or a trap from which escaping seems impossible. Life is threatened, usually because the principal character is unsuspectingly or unknowingly involved in a dangerous or potentially deadly situation.
Hitchcock’s films often placed an innocent victim (an average, responsible person) into a strange, life-threatening or terrorizing situation, in a case of mistaken identity or wrongful accusation.
Thrillers take place mostly in ordinary suburbs and cities, although sometimes they may take place wholly or partly in exotic settings such as foreign cities, deserts, polar regions, or the high seas. These usually tough, resourceful, but essentially ordinary heroes are pitted against villains determined to destroy them, their country, or the stability of the free world. Often in a thriller movie, the protagonist is faced with what seem to be insurmountable problems in his mission, carried out against a ticking clock, the stakes are high and although resourceful, they face personal dilemmas along the way forcing them to make sacrifices for others.
Yes unfortunately it’s true, if a novel doesn’t hit us with the brutal force of a koboko whiplash and wake us from our dense, saturated, and insensitive slumber we will not be able to read the book, our attention span, it’s getting shorter, and shorter does not tolerate anything less than a high doses of peak events, like an earthquake, or a tremendous explosion, the hijack of a terrorist, the threat of a nuclear explosion, police descending in mas like the invasion of an army, a terrific car chase where cars fly through the air like airplanes, and explode like bombs, why bother to keep reading? Regardless of the fact many of us never will be in the cross lines of a rifle sight held by a professional killer. A far fetch concocted piece of trash designed as junk food for our minds, the Doritos bag of chips to go along our Friday movie night watching of an exciting movie. This genre pretends to make us believe that what you see in the news as incidents of a highly unusual nature, that are one in a million, it may be happening to you at any moment, when your chances of being hit by lightening are higher, but not as high as wining the lotto!
In principle I am not oppose to consider this type of writing, as Literature if it’s very good, but just like twins conjoined are one in 200,000, and of those only about 5% survive, they are oddities, and the subject is not something it may happen to you, words that come to mind are epic, implausible, far fetched, contrived, Manichean, (good vs evil) it points out as writing for entertainment, Literature in my opinion it’s something we all can relate, and identify as happening to any of us, what makes it great, and different, is just the way is told.
Exhibit Two, the whodunit
Detective fiction in the English-speaking world is considered to have begun in 1841 with the publication of Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” itself, featuring “the first fictional detective, the eccentric and brilliant C. Auguste Dupin”. Poe devised a “plot formula that’s been successful ever since, give or take a few shifting variables.” Poe followed with further Auguste Dupin tales: “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt” in 1843 and “The Purloined Letter” in 1845.
Poe referred to his stories as “tales of ratiocination”. In stories such as these, the primary concern of the plot is ascertaining truth, and the usual means of obtaining the truth is a complex and mysterious process combining intuitive logic, astute observation, and perspicacious inference. “Early detective stories tended to follow an investigating protagonist from the first scene to the last, making the unraveling a practical rather than emotional matter.” “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt” is particularly interesting because it is a barely fictionalized account based on Poe’s theory of what happened to the real-life Mary Cecilia Rogers.
The period of the 1920s and ’30s is generally referred to as the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. During this period, a number of very popular writers emerged, mostly British but with a notable subset of American and New Zealand writers. Female writers constituted a major portion of notable Golden Age writers, including Agatha Christie, the most famous of the Golden Age writers, and among the most famous authors of any genre, of all time. Four female writers of the Golden Age are considered the four original “Queens of Crime”: Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh and Margery Allingham. Apart from Ngaio Marsh (a New Zealander) they were British.
Various conventions of the detective genre were standardized during the Golden Age, and in 1929 some of them were codified by writer Ronald Knox in his ‘Decalogue’ of rules for detective fiction, among them to avoid supernatural elements, all of which were meant to guarantee that, in Knox’s words, a detective story “must have as its main interest the unraveling of a mystery; a mystery whose elements are clearly presented to the reader at an early stage in the proceedings, and whose nature is such as to arouse curiosity, a curiosity which is gratified at the end.” In Golden Age detective stories, an outsider, sometimes a salaried investigator or a police officer, but often a gifted amateur investigates a murder committed in a closed environment by one of a limited number of suspects.
The most widespread sub genre of the detective novel became the whodunit (or whodunit, short for “who done it?”), where great ingenuity may be exercised in narrating the events of the crime, usually a homicide, and of the subsequent investigation in such a manner as to conceal the identity of the criminal from the reader until the end of the book, when the method and culprit are revealed. According to scholars Carole Kismaric and Marvi Heiferman, “The golden age of detective fiction began with high-class amateur detectives sniffing out murderers lurking in rose gardens, down country lanes, and in picturesque villages. Many conventions of the detective-fiction genre evolved in this era, as numerous writers, from populist entertainers, to respected poets, tried their hands at mystery.
The murder, or the detective novel, a simple premise someone gets killed, no one seems to know who did it, so a policeman, or a private detective have to uncover the mystery surrounding it, and catch the perpetrator(s). A genre so common that many of the writers get a style that it’s easily recognizable by the readers, and even if this give us a pretty good idea how the novel will develop, and after reading two, or three novels by the same author we can figure pretty easy who did it, either you stop buying the author, or keep coming because you identify with the hero, or enjoy his witticism. The novels are done with a mass audience in mind who are not hard to please, and do not demand much of you as a reader, usually short, and very formulaic, successful authors know this, and do not bother to come with anything new, why bother if your books sell? So you keep making the same book over, and over, changing names, and situations a little, just enough to justify the different title. Of course depending on the author this genre can be very entertaining, regardless of it’s merits as Literature, and taken to the big screen very often.
Exhibit Number Three, Science Fiction.
Science fiction (often shortened to sci-fi or scifi) is a genre of speculative fiction, typically dealing with imaginative concepts such as futuristic science and technology, space travel, time travel, faster than light travel, parallel universes, and extraterrestrial life. Science fiction often explores the potential consequences of scientific and other innovations, and has been called a “literature of ideas.” It usually eschews the supernatural, and unlike the related genre of fantasy, historically science fiction stories were intended to have at least a faint grounding in science-based fact or theory at the time the story was created, but this connection has become tenuous or non-existent in much of science fiction.
Literature of ideas a most generous name given to this genre, if you ask me, but like in anything there is some good storytellers, far and few needless to say.
Science fiction is largely based on writing rationally about alternative possible worlds or futures. It is related to, but different from fantasy in that, within the context of the story, its imaginary elements are largely possible within scientifically established or scientifically postulated physical laws (though some elements in a story might still be pure imaginative speculation).
The settings of science fiction are often contrary to those of consensus reality, but most science fiction relies on a considerable degree of suspension of disbelief, which is facilitated in the reader’s mind by potential scientific explanations or solutions to various fictional elements. Science fiction elements include:
A time setting in the future, in alternative timelines, or in a historical past that contradicts known facts of history or the archaeological record.
A spatial setting or scenes in outer space (e.g. spaceflight), on other worlds, or on subterranean earth.
Characters that include aliens, mutants, androids, or humanoid robots and other types of characters arising from a future human evolution.
Futuristic or plausible technology such as ray guns, teleportation machines, and humanoid computers.
Scientific principles that are new or that contradict accepted physical laws, for example time travel, wormholes, or faster-than-light travel or communication.
New and different political or social systems, e.g. Utopian, dystopian, post-scarcity, or post-apocalyptic.
Paranormal abilities such as mind control, telepathy, telekinesis (e.g. “The Force” in Star Wars.)
Other universes or dimensions and travel between them.
The annual Hugo Awards for science fiction and fantasy have been running uninterrupted (with the exception of a brief hiatus in 1954) since 1953. Voting is open to anyone prepared to stump up the money (currently $40) and the ceremony has been held all over the world. As such, the awards can lay serious claim to being one of the most venerable, democratic and international in existence, not to mention one of the most transparent
Outside the sci-fi community, however, the awards barely resonate. Leaving aside the (admittedly interesting) question of whether democratic voting will always select the best novel over that year’s populist Dan Brown equivalent, there’s the well-known snobbery around these genre books. Science fiction may be one of the defining literature of the last century, but it’s rare that its products get any kind of acceptance by the academy (and when they do, they’re then generally called something else).
I got little taste for this type of writing, born by the advent of our contemporary Science, and based on the infatuation from our Western obsession with Science, at the root a staunch materialism, from people with the idea Science it’s a panacea for Mankind, a delusional idea if there is one, who even ignore the second law of Thermodynamics: Entropy, yes the Universe had a beginning, and consequently would have an end, therefore a material existence ends with death, there is no hope of extending life beyond it’s end, however rosy a picture you may have of a fictional future brought by Science and technology, there will not be eternal life, at least not on this material dimension, so go seek it elsewhere!
To be fair there is nothing wrong to read for entertainment purposes, neither a desire to be thrilled, and we have the freedom to choose and pick our own form of entertainment, even if we secretly may feel guilty of indulging our time in such pursuits, myself a clear example of it, for many years I read WWII History, and biographies, knowing that they didn’t add a thing, but to my knowledge of History, if that has any value at all, now days once in a while pick one of this books, read it and feel a little bit guilty afterwards, in fact reading any book that doesn’t make me feel I learnt something valuable, even if I enjoyed it make me feel that way!
As a fellow blogger just read recently describe himself:
“As my faithful readers must have surmised, I like to touch upon a variety of subjects. I was diagnosed “borderline dilettante” at an early age. Fortunately my Juvenile records are sealed. Fiction, non-fiction, gender, travel and the accompanying “yours truly’s” photographs.”
Genre is a label that characterizes elements a reader can expect in a work of literature. The major forms of literature can be written in various genres. Genre is a category characterized by similarities in style, or subject matter.
The classic major genres of literature are:
- Realistic fiction
- Romance novel
My original intention was to talk about all of these, however for the sake of brevity we would end this post right here, and we may tackle the subject on further posts.
“The first men to be created and formed were called the Sorcerer of Fatal Laughter, the Sorcerer of Night, Unkempt, and the Black Sorcerer … They were endowed with intelligence, they succeeded in knowing all that there is in the world. When they looked, instantly they saw all that is around them, and they contemplated in turn the arc of heaven and the round face of the earth … [Then the Creator said]: ‘They know all … what shall we do with them now? Let their sight reach only to that which is near; let them see only a little of the face of the earth!… Are they not by nature simple creatures of our making? Must they also be gods?”
The Devil’s Advocate
My friend Bob it’s a very nice guy, but a little on the stubborn side, when it come to arguing about anything, he rather choose an eccentric point of view than a logical one, he prefers to abandon common sense than to be subjected to established rules, or measures of any kind, as an example recently it took me half an afternoon to explain him, against his better understanding of why we have leap years, his argument was since a day has 24 hours and a year consist of 365 days why we have a need of leap days, and leap years?
When I pointed out a year has no relation to the rotation of the Earth around it’s axis, 24 hours a full rotation known as a day, but to the Earth orbit around the Sun 149.60 millions kilometers, 92.96 million miles, he couldn’t figure out why there was not a synchronicity relationship of exactly 365 days, but a leftover roughly a quarter of a day (256. 363 004 parts of a day), and therefore the need every four year to add a leap day to keep an accurate calendar system, I tried to explain him to the best of my ability that a calendar it’s just a conception of the measure of time for utilitarian purposes, and point to the fact even our months are not all of 30 days thanks to the 5 days over 360, a beautiful division of our 360 degrees of a circle, in twelve months of 30 days, but in reality an idealized way to divide a circle, if we wouldn’t add a leap year in a century we would be roughly 25 days off time, and in a millennium that would add up to 250 days off the mark and that would throw off the seasons, our January first would be somewhere in early September.
Of course my friend Bob argued that if calendars were arbitrary and relative measures of time why we couldn’t just divide time as we pleased, as simple as cutting a cake in 365 equal parts!
Neither to say at this point of the conversation I had to point to the obvious need of an standard system of measure, in order to have consensus, that it may be relative to, but not arbitrary, just like going to his house the time it may take him in his car, has no relation as to how many times it’s wheels may spin, since that it’s determine, by the diameter of the wheels, x π (pi)=circumference or size of the wheel, in relation to the distance, regardless of the speed, he could be driving 5 miles an hour, or 60, it will not matter, the number of spins from the wheels will be the same, independent of the time it make take him to get there.
Measure it’s related to honesty, and justice, maybe you will be surprised to know how our writing it is related to this virtues, not surprising writing was not as we know it today. In Mesopotamia it started out as simple counting marks, alongside which sometimes a non-arbitrary well understood sign, in the form of a simple picture image, that was cut into wood, stone, pots but more often pressed onto clay tokens. In that way, recorded accounts of amounts of goods involved in a transaction could be made. This convention began when people developed agriculture and settled into permanent communities that were centered on increasingly large and organised trading marketplaces. These marketplaces traded sheep, grain, and bread loaves, each and every one of these items was recorded by clay tokens. These initially very small clay tokens were continually used all the way from the pre-historic Mesopotamia period, 9000 BC, to the start of the historic period around 3000 BC, when the use of writing for recording was widely adopted.
No doubt this was simply a practical reason to keep record of any transaction, and in this way to keep people of short memory honest!
Any measure it’s Relative to
We have come a long way since, and a preconception of time involve a complex set of variables for a celestial planet, or star in relation to other celestial objects, just like our planet Earth year it’s in relation to our Sun, by it’s orbit, so do the rest of our Solar system, as for example a year in Venus it’s 224.7 days long, but a day in the other hand takes a whooping 243 day of our Earth, imagine a day in Venus, is longer than a Venus year!
A year in Jupiter it’s the equivalent of 11.86 years on Earth. As for a day time it depends on where you are in Jupiter! Because Jupiter is not a solid body, its upper atmosphere undergoes differential rotation. The rotation of Jupiter’s polar atmosphere is about 5 minutes longer than that of the equatorial atmosphere; three systems are used as frames of reference, particularly when graphing the motion of atmospheric features. System I applies from the latitudes 10° N to 10° S; its period is the planet’s shortest, at 9 hours 50 minutes 30.0 seconds. System II applies at all latitudes north and south of these; its period is 9h 55m 40.6s. System III was first defined by radio astronomers, and corresponds to the rotation of the planet’s magnetosphere; its period is Jupiter’s official rotation.
Human measure systems
As we saw every planet has it’s own particular conditions, and therefore ruled by different time standards in relation to one another, but this is not so different from our way to measure anything here on Earth.
We had so many calendars through History, by every civilization you can think of, that a whole post wouldn’t be big enough to enumerate, and do justice to the subject. There is Solar calendars, Lunar calendars, and Luni-solar.
A little known fact outside of France was the French republican calendar also commonly called the French Revolutionary Calendar (calendrier révolutionnaire français), was a calendar created and implemented during the French Revolution, and used by the French government for about 12 years from late 1793 to 1805, and for 18 days by the Paris Commune in 1871. The revolutionary system was designed in part to remove all religious and royalist influences from the calendar, and was part of a larger attempt at decimalization in France (which also included decimal time of day, decimalization of currency, and metrication).
Each day in the Republican Calendar was divided into ten hours, each hour into 100 decimal minutes, and each decimal minute into 100 decimal seconds. Thus an hour was 144 conventional minutes (more than twice as long as a conventional hour), a minute was 86.4 conventional seconds (44% longer than a conventional minute), and a second was 0.864 conventional seconds (13.6% shorter than a conventional second)
There were twelve months, each divided into three ten-day weeks called décades. The tenth day, décadi, replaced Sunday as the day of rest and festivity. The five or six extra days needed to approximate the solar or tropical year were placed after the months at the end of each year and called complementary days. This arrangement was an almost exact copy of the calendar used by the Ancient Egyptians, though in their case the beginning of the year was marked by summer solstice rather than autumn equinox.
A period of four years ending on a leap day was to be called a “Franciade”. The name “Olympique” was originally proposed but changed to Franciade to commemorate the fact that it had taken the revolution four years to establish a republican government in France.
The leap year was called Sextile, an allusion to the “bissextile” leap years of the Julian and Gregorian calendars, because it contained a sixth complementary day.
Weights and measures have taken a great variety of forms over the course of history, from simple informal expectations in barter transactions to elaborate state and supranational systems that integrate measures of many different kinds. Weights and measures from the oldest societies can often be inferred at least in part from archaeological specimens, often preserved in museums. The comparison of the dimensions of buildings with the descriptions of contemporary writers is another source of information. An interesting example of this is the comparison of the dimensions of the Greek Parthenon with the description given by Plutarch from which a fairly accurate idea of the size of the Attic foot is obtained. Because of the comparative volume of artifacts and documentation, we know much more about the state-sanctioned measures of large, advanced societies than we do about those of smaller societies or about the informal measures that often coexisted with official ones throughout history. In some cases, we have only plausible theories and we must sometimes select the interpretation to be given to the evidence.
By studying the evidence given by all available sources, and by correlating the relevant facts, we obtain some idea of the origin and development of the units. We find that they have changed more or less gradually with the passing of time in a complex manner because of a great variety of modifying influences. It is possible to group official measurement systems for large societies into historical systems that are relatively stable over time, including: the Babylonian system, the Egyptian system, the Phileterian system of the Ptolemaic age, the Olympic system of Greece, the Roman system, the British system, and the metric system.
Standard weights and measures have existed in the Indus Valley Civilization since the 5th millennium BCE. The centralized weight and measure system served the commercial interest of Indus merchants as smaller weight measures were used to measure luxury goods while larger weights were employed for buying bulkier items, such as food grains etc.Weights existed in multiples of a standard weight and in categories. Technical standardization enabled gauging devices to be effectively used in angular measurement and measurement for construction. Uniform units of length were used in the planning of towns such as Lothal, Surkotada, Kalibangan, Dolavira, Harappa, and Mohenjo-daro. The weights and measures of the Indus civilization also reached Persia and Central Asia, where they were further modified.
Every System Had A Utilitarian Purpose
My point is every measure system had a human origin base on a practical purpose, and could differ according to the specific needs of the task, and the cultural backgrounds of the people who invented the system, a relatively new invention The metric system is a called a decimal-based system because it is based on multiples of ten. Any measurement given in one metric unit(e.g., kilogram) can be converted to another metric unit (e.g., gram) simply by moving the decimal place. Adopted by most of the countries in the world even England the creators, except us here in the United States of America we keep company with Myanmar, and Liberia the other two countries where we cling to the more complicate British Imperial, or Exchequer System.
However no system it’s a God’s given system attuned to every need since as we see in the Heavens every planet, and Star holds different conditions particular, and specific to the given celestial body with their own calendar. Could we have a better calendar now days? Very likely, however changing a calendar just because it’s better it’s not practical just like the Republican French found out, people it’s used to what we have, changing things may bring a lot of unhappiness for the sake of accuracy, an expedience.
As a bit of anecdote the Toltec, Olmec, and the Maya build their calendar, according to their own Cosmological views with their own logic, that until recent were totally unknown to the rest of the world, some people argue the Julian it’s still a better calendar, but the fact remains the Maya adjusted their calendar five days every 52 years, meanwhile in the same period we adjust it 13 times!
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.
The verses below reportedly were written on the wall of Mother Teresa’s home for children in Calcutta, India, and are widely attributed to her.
A Personal Anecdote
First let me say I was born a Catholic, perhaps a little of a misnomer, no one is born having a particular Religion, or Faith, our parents give us that as a fact of life, few parents would choose a different Faith for their children like in the Gandhi movie where an individual full with repentance feelings after killing a Muslim, Gandhi recommends for him to raise the child of an orphan from Muslim background as his, but not in his own Faith but as a Muslim, as an act of atonement for his crime.
Nevertheless I was a sort of precocious child and from an early age I start to question my Faith, and figure it was my own teachers who provoked me in to question that Faith being them Italian Francis Xavier missioners priest, not that they want me to change my Faith, however they provided me with the base of a solid education, that I will be grateful for life, but of my own inquisitive mind, and not doubt a germ of a rebellious nature typical of youth, combined with a curious disposition, and an skeptic character of mine. Let me just say that by the time I was twelve years of age, I no longer considered myself a Catholic, and even if at this time kind of smile at my early change of mind, and now understand the Faith of my parents far better than I did then, never return to the fold of the Catholic church, as a matter of fact do not think Spirituality as an Institution it’s the way for me, whatever Religion it may be.
A picture of my eldest brother, and me on our first communion at six, or seven years of age with our Godfather, Father observing in the background the man with the black tie by the doorway.
Now the anecdote; a brother of a close friend of mine interviewed Mother Teresa for the radio, a few years before she died in 1997, and despite of him being a Catholic he still hold reservations about the church condemning birth control, and from all the questions he could choose to ask her, having a short chance to talk to her, he could only make one question to her, he picked that one, asking her opinion about it.
Of course Mother Teresa a good Catholic she was, cited 1968, Pope Paul VI landmark encyclical letter Humanae Vitae (Latin, “Human Life”), which reemphasized the Church’s constant teaching that it is always intrinsically wrong to use contraception to prevent new human beings from coming into existence.
My brother’s friend, naive as he was in those matters try to argue with her about it saying: “But Mother what about all those children who are born out of wedlock and live in poverty, and many are just abandoned, and thrown in to the streets with no help of anybody, by the thousands?”
Mother Teresa looking him on the eye and holding his hand said: “Do you know a child abandoned?”
He answered: “Well no, but I know there is many!”
Mother Teresa still holding his hand said: “Then what business it’s for you to question the church stance on these matters?”
My friend’s brother stammered something about the injustice of it. Mother Teresa smiling said: “Do not worry my son, whenever you find an abandoned child, if you can’t take care of him, bring it to me, I will take care of him, and that will take the worry out of your head.”
Releasing his hand, and walking away she still turn around and said: “Bring as many as you can find, I will take care of all of them!”
Now my friend’s brother despite being a Catholic didn’t like the answer Mother Teresa gave him, and had a poor opinion of her, I sort of smiled and said to him:
“I didn’t knew much about Mother Teresa to have an opinion about her, but now you have left no doubt in my mind Mother Teresa is a saint!”
Mother Teresa Critics
According to a paper written by three Canadian academics, Serge Larivée, Geneviève Chénard, and Carole Sénéchal, Teresa’s clinics received millions of dollars in donations, yet their conditions drew criticism from people disturbed by the shortage of medical care, systematic diagnosis, and necessary nutrition, as well as the scarcity of analgesics for those in pain;[ they said that “Mother Teresa believed the sick must suffer like Christ on the cross”. Some have argued that the additional money could have had transformative effects on the health of the poor by creating advanced palliative care facilities in the city. Abortion rights groups criticized her stance on abortion, while anti-abortion advocates praised her support of fetal rights.
One of Teresa’s most outspoken critics was the English journalist, literary critic and antitheist Christopher Hitchens, who wrote the extended essay The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice (1995) and wrote in a 2003 article, “This returns us to the medieval corruption of the church, which sold indulgences to the rich while preaching hell fire and continence to the poor. [Mother Teresa] was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction.” He also accused her of hypocrisy for opting to receive advanced treatment for her heart condition.
Hitchens thought he was the only witness (Chatterjee, another with views antagonistic to Teresa, was also called) called by the Vatican to give evidence against Teresa’s beatification and canonization process, because the Vatican had abolished the traditional “devil’s advocate” role which fulfilled a similar purpose. Hitchens said that “her intention was not to help people”, and that she lied to donors about the use of their contributions. “It was by talking to her that I discovered, and she assured me, that she wasn’t working to alleviate poverty”, he said, “She was working to expand the number of Catholics. She said, ‘I’m not a social worker. I don’t do it for this reason. I do it for Christ. I do it for the church.
The Dark Night of the Soul
Analysing her deeds and achievements, John Paul II asked: “Where did Mother Teresa find the strength and perseverance to place herself completely at the service of others? She found it in prayer and in the silent contemplation of Jesus Christ, his Holy Face, his Sacred Heart. Privately, Mother Teresa experienced doubts and struggles over her religious beliefs which lasted nearly 50 years until the end of her life, during which “she felt no presence of God whatsoever”, “neither in her heart or in the Eucharist” as put by her postulator, the Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk. Mother Teresa expressed grave doubts about God’s existence and pain over her lack of faith:
Where is my faith? Even deep down … there is nothing but emptiness and darkness … If there be God—please forgive me. When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven, there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul.
With reference to the above words, Kolodiejchuk (the official responsible for gathering the evidence for her sanctification) said he thought that some might misinterpret her meaning, but her faith that God was working through her remained undiminished, and that while she pined for the lost sentiment of closeness with God, she did not question his existence, and that she may have experienced something similar to what is believed of Jesus Christ when crucified who was heard to say “Eli Eli lama sabachthani?” which is translated to “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Kolodiejchuk drew comparisons to the 16th-century mystic St. John of the Cross, who coined the term the “Dark Night of the Soul”. Many other saints had similar experiences of spiritual dryness, or what Catholics believe to be spiritual tests (“passive purification”), such as Mother Teresa’s namesake, St. Therese of Lisieux, who called it a “night of nothingness.” The Rev. James Langford said these doubts were typical and would not be an impediment to canonization.
Teresa wrote many letters to her confessors and superiors over a 66-year period, most notably to Calcutta Archbishop Ferdinand Perier and a Jesuit priest, Celeste van Exem, who had been her spiritual adviser since the formation of the Missionaries of Charity. She had asked that her letters be destroyed, concerned that “people will think more of me—less of Jesus.” Despite this request, the correspondences have been compiled in Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light (Doubleday) In one publicly released letter to a spiritual confidant, the Rev. Michael van der Peet, she wrote, “Jesus has a very special love for you. [But] as for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great, that I look and do not see,—Listen and do not hear—the tongue moves [in prayer] but does not speak … I want you to pray for me—that I let Him have [a] free hand.”
Stations and States
The various stages of self-awareness on the Sufi path are known as ‘Maqamat’, or the ‘stations’, which are attainable through continuous spiritual practices and sincere efforts. However, ‘haal’ or ‘state’ can only happen by the Grace of God.
Rumi has described these stages poetically as: ‘Maqam’ is the (King’s) being alone with the bride while ‘haal’ is like unveiling of the beauteous bride.
To elaborate these stages further:
‘MAQAM’ represents a spiritual station, where the seeker finds him after sincerely treading the spiritual path for a while. With gradual polishing of the mirror of the heart through meditative exercises, he keeps on becoming aware of the spiritual subtleties behind the physical realm. With each breakthrough, he finds a new level of awareness. In this process, his previous level of awareness serves as the ‘Maqam’ where he becomes stationed till he moves on. Maqamat or Stations can also be perceived as the ascending rungs of the spiritual ladder. With continuous spiritual practices, a seeker ascends on this ladder. While moving from station to station, he may be touched by the special Grace or HAAL from time to time.
HAAL occurs spontaneously as a spiritual gift. While walking in the spiritual forest amidst pathways decorated with dancing trees and perfumed flowers, a soft cloud appears on the horizon, engulfs the seeker while quenching his spiritual thirst then moves on leaving him in a state of awe. In this state, a seeker neither expects what comes to him from the unseen world nor has the slightest idea about the nature of experience. He is simply taken over by an overwhelming compassionate power. It reflects a state, where a door opens out of nowhere and breeze from the garden of eternity surrounds the seeker and colours him with its perfume. A realm of ecstasy prevails due to unbearable display of beauty. This state of Hal comes and goes on its own. A seeker can never claim such a state due to its extraordinariness and his ordinariness. It always happens as a Grace.
Such stages are not some concrete milestones depicting progress on the Sufi path step by step rather reflects inner spiritual development. This is why; there exists no consensus among Sufi’s on the number and details of these stages.
I never cared much for the late English journalist, literary critic and antitheist Christopher Hitchens a controversial figure to say the least, after describing himself a socialist, a Marxist and anti totalitarian, made a turncoat move to the far right, joining and supporting with his jingoistic tirades in the news media the second Bush invasion of Iraq, this actions left no sympathies in me for his opinions, as for his criticism of Mother Teresa, I question how much he was motivated by his personal atheistic beliefs, and personal complacency, as my friend’s brother, and many others, who having an opinion, on every subject imaginable, and supposedly worrying about multiple things, still without moving a finger to do anything about it! On that respect any opinion you may express, in my view has little value whatsoever, and more when you do not know nothing about it, specially when you are far from being a saint, yourself!
Another close friend of mine a rabid atheist, in a very recent conversation, a few days ago, or I should said argument, he carried against some nice young Jewish Lubavitcher followers just because he can’t imagine any rational being to posses Faith, and belong to a Religion, who just happen to ask us if we were Jewish, immediately my friend engaged them on an argument about their Faith, for quite some time, one of the nice young men mentioned in his arguments that his father run a kitchen for the homeless in another country where he serves 70,000 meals a year to the poor, my friend after they left, dared even to question the reasons this person may have in doing this, fed up with his reasoning I said: “Stop it, as far as I am concern he feeds 69.999 people more a year, save my occasional guest, than I do, and probably more than you do as well, so you have no right to question his motives!
Errare humanum est, sed perseverare diabolicum:
‘To err is human, but to persist (in the mistake) is diabolical.
Mother Teresa was a human being, maybe she did a lot of mistakes like we all do, but she worked tirelessly most of her life helping the downtrodden, and that in my opinion, it is to have achieved a higher Spiritual Station, regardless if she never experienced bliss, or ecstasy like some saints do, the more merit to her since she only relied on Faith to sustain her, and to persist on her work despite her dark night of the soul.
I may write in a further post about Saints, Sadhus, Babas, Aghoris, and Holly men who become God intoxicated through meditation, singing, and dancing as Dervishes do, others they even smoke ganja, or drink herbal brews of a psychotropic nature, and acquire Ecstatic states, some briefly, others for days, weeks, even months, some even years, but as we read above, bliss, ecstasy it’s a grace, or a gift if you wish, not really difficult to experience, the path to Godhead or Spiritual Realization comes not in a single fashion, but in myriads of ways, some, or most I should add we do not know nothing about, so we can’t judge easy in matters of Spirit when we have no knowledge of it, but to reach a high Spiritual Station it’s what make a Saint great, not the states. In other words; Spiritually it’s not what you take, but what you give what it is important.
The twenty century has been marked by cynicism,
selfishness, greed, and the desire to please,
all without changing the status quo.
In the 21st we must resurrect solidarity and
Oscar Arias, Nobel Peace 1986
A century of wars, and failed utopias
At the beginning of the Twenty century the world was involved in a class struggle over a hundred years old, since the French revolution, the American independence, the beginning of the end of colonization, and old Empires, monarchies become obsolete, and state nations like America surged here, and there, in other parts like in Russia the monarchy come to a bloody end, after the hecatomb of the First World War, basically a scramble for power between old, and outdated Empires, as the British, Austro Hungarian, German, Russian, and Ottoman Empires. And the start of America flexing it’s new power around the globe.
The Russian revolution saw the emergence of Socialism, and the utopia of communism, a reign of terror of unimaginable proportions, First World War was just a preamble to the unsolved problems of what yet was to come The Horrific World War II that culminated in the destruction of most of Europe, were not only soldiers fought and lost their lives, but also civilian population was involved and not spared, along with genocide, and not only of Jews, but of many other people like Chinese, Asians of many nations, Eastern Europeans, and even the Japanese bombed twice with atomic bombs, as for the need of it with Japan on the brink of collapse justifications are numerous, but of dubious necessity, or credibility.
A cold war soon after, and an armament race that exhausted Soviet Russia, but empowered brutal capitalism and an industry based on manufacturing weapons instead of looking for a better use of science in the benefit of society at large. Mini wars here, and there, all over the globe feeding the war industrialist, and solidifying Capitalism, and shoving it down the throats of undeveloped Nations all over the world.
A sad, and shameless History was the Twenty Century if you ask me, and so far on this new Century doesn’t look any better!
The facts about the twenty century and our current condition
No, I do not live with the idea that past times were always better, but neither believe that our time it’s the best ever. It is hard to describe this without being accused of nostalgic idealization of the past, and biased interpretation of History. It’s hard to quantify the degree of deterioration to the quality of life, not only of the privileged, as well of those living in poverty, and disadvantaged, life that has been cheapened and debased, despite the so much vaunted progress, in every sphere of knowledge, and technology, social inequality still reigns unabashedly in most parts of the world, regardless of the relative comparisons between what they didn’t have in past centuries, to our days, since if they lacked many of the advances in technology, science, medicine, and the many trinkets we enjoy today, nevertheless, they enjoyed a more tranquil, and quieter life without the fast pace, and stress imposed on us since the Advent of modernity, slavery has been abolished in the Nineteen century, but another type of hopeless servitude still exist well and alive now days in many parts of the world.
Few examples are necessary to prove my point, people with only a few years of school made more money, and lived in bigger, and more comfortable surroundings, than most people in their present life today, many mothers as housewives never needed to look for a job, they enjoyed a quieter life, and at more relaxed surroundings than most of us do, herded in crowded apartment buildings, and run down neighborhoods, and neither commuted two hours just to get to work, never the worker was asked to do so much work for less money, as plutocrats now days take for granted you will work for less, not since the time of the industrial revolution the progress of labor have being so dismal. Some may argue the past generation they were smarter, or better than we are now days, being called by some, “The greatest Generation” a myth if I had heard of one, if anything they should be called “The Great War Generation” (That by the way wasn’t WWI but WWII) who just happened to benefit from the work brought by an Industrial war machinery, and from Roosevelt’s New deal together with the GI bill who granted free education for veterans, unlike now days were you have to pay dearly for an education, even to the point to be saddled with debt for the rest of your life! But we also witness that despite their great assets, they also suffered substantial set backs on their later years, as result of the new winds of change enveloping all of us in the new game of greater effort, more skills, and bigger sacrifices demanded from you, for less rewards, a common state of affairs we live now days, nevertheless they fared way better than my generation, were we now endure this trend even from early age where you have to compete as a child through the years we need to spend in school where more is demanded from you, as a preparation for the work ordeal you got to face, and endure now days, for far less return, and without a job security as our fathers took for granted, but a shifty, insecure, and for precarious prospects, with the consequent deterioration, and diminishing in the quality of life for the majority. Like if by the mere fact of your existence you would not deserve, or grant you a fair chance, and decent conditions of living, but have to wrestle it away from other less lucky. My question to you is, what sort of benefit it’s to live under these so much vaunted conditions of “Freedom and Democracy”? When you are not even a person but a consumer=a sheep to be fleeced! Just read an article were old medicine drugs, costing a dollar, and necessary for many people suffering decease, are revamped and sell in new patents for over $500 dollars! These type of abuse its an everyday occurrence so common as to be relegated to the back pages of the newspapers.
In Brief, an outmoded, and obsolete form of government.
We remain as spectators, and helpless victims of a political system that now days it’s as inefficient, and out of pace with our current needs, whose only reason for it’s existence is to enrich the few, and as useless as Monarchy was at the beginning of the Twenty Century, it just doesn’t work and we need to shake it!
There is a chasm that keep on widening, fueled by rampant privatization, mass incarceration, the demolition of the welfare state, a consumer culture, the corruption by money of the democratic process, a failed judicial branch of government, police militarization, military solutions, instead of diplomacy, that favors interests rather than justice, global inequality, the despoliation of resources of the poor countries, by the rich countries, the subjugation of the same nations by credits who benefit few, but saddle the countries with enormous unpayable debt, the spread of a capitalistic global octopus who cares little what may be the result of such despoliation, and governments that in fact are accomplices of such barbaric enterprises, but above all the corrosive lie that they keep spreading; that things can’t be different or be changed, propagated by a media apparatus of Orwellian proportions, whose labor it’s to control opinion, by a relentless barrage of misinformation, that keep people brainwashed in to believing any effort to confront them it’s futile, and useless, and to accept as normal what should be intolerable.
A MISGUIDED BUT COMMON IDEA ABOUT DEMOCRACY, THE FIFTEEN MINUTES OF FAME IN AMERICA, AND TO KNOW YOURSELF.
“IN THE FUTURE EVERYBODY WILL
BE WORLD FAMOUS FOR 15 MINUTES. ”
THE NATIONAL DREAM
In the United States of America everybody is entitled to become famous, rich, successful, popular, even infamously, if its necessary, by doing whatever you dream, and aspire to become, regardless of your merits to do so, or at least have a chance to win the big one, playing the lottery, and daydream how you would expend your winnings, once you get the winning ticket.
Most people consider you a rare bird if you do not hold any such lofty aspirations, like becoming somebody worthy of praise by getting rich, or achieve your rightful place in history by succeeding on your not so secret dream of becoming an actor, tycoon, Rock musician, artist, or in whatever field of choice lays your ambition, to make a statement of success.
Once many years ago by ill fortune, and self made mistakes, I had fallen in hard times, and this may be a subject for another story, anyway I took a low level job since I needed a job ASAP. One thing I had clear on my mind at the time was, that whatever it was needed from me, I would do in order to do a great job of a bad situation, taken one thing at a time, and try my best, despite the drudgery of the work, my attitude after a year was rewarded with a promotion by my good performance, however because my honesty when asked by the head of the personnel department what were my future plans for advancing with the new job position in the company, and manifested I had none, I was dismissed, the offer was cancel, and sent me back to my old position!
My lack of ambition was judged as a clear sign that I was not good for the growth of the company, despite my excellent work performance at the same, and the reason why my immediate boss applied for my promotion, ignoring the fact I was willing to do as much effort on my new assignment, regardless of not allowing myself to build sand castles on my imagination, and was perfectly capable of fulfilling such task properly. Soon after, another company offered me a better paid job, took the new position, and did as well, or better in that company as the last one, got numerous awards, being the first, or second employee of the month, gaining numerous prices, and incentives straight for two years, until the company moved elsewhere in the country, being one of the few 4, or 5 employees in over two hundred employees to receive an offer to be paid for moving to the new location on the other side of the country, and it would represent a good career move for me, regardless I decided not to, since had no desire to start my life at a new place where had no interest to relocate, judging I would do well at any future job I may be offered in my city, and there was no need for me to start in an unknown city, preferring familiarity, and old friendships, over success, and a monetary reward of dubious satisfaction, since happiness it’s such a subjective, and relative thing.
FIFTEEN MINUTES OF FAME
German art historian Benjamin H. D. Buchloh suggests that the core tenet of Warhol’s aesthetic, being “the systematic invalidation of the hierarchies of representational functions and techniques” of art, corresponds directly to the belief that the “hierarchy of subjects worthy to be represented will someday be abolished,” hence anybody, and therefore “everybody,” can be famous once that hierarchy dissipates, “in the future,” and by logical extension of that, “in the future, everybody will be famous,” and not merely those individuals worthy of fame.
On the other hand, wide proliferation of the adapted idiom “my fifteen minutes” and its entrance into common parlance have led to a slightly different application, having to do with both the ephemeral nature of fame in the information age and, more recently, the democratization of media outlets brought about by the advent of the internet. In this formulation, Warhol’s quote has been taken to mean: “At the present, because there are so many channels by which an individual might attain fame, albeit not enduring fame, virtually anyone can become famous for a brief period of time.”
There is a third and even more remote interpretation of the term, as used by an individual who has been legitimately famous or skirted celebrity for a brief period of time, that period of time being his or her “fifteen minutes.”
DEMOCRACY VS MERITOCRACY
One of the breakthroughs of political history was the invention and implementation of democracy in the West. Its virtue was that it could take absolute power away from despots, tyrants, autocrats, and monarchs and emperors parading under a Divine Right, and hand a lot of that power to the formerly oppressed citizens, thus evening up the odds.
In a world where ideas and information flow freely, where governments have to answer to other governments, and where free speech is a sign of a healthy civilization, democracy becomes especially important and valuable, and suggesting that it is not up to snuff is a tricky business. Even in cases where corruption perverts a democratic system, it’s usually traced to a deviation from this ideal, not to the ideal itself.
Although meritocracy as a term is a relatively recently coined word (1958), the concept of a government based on standardized examinations originates from the works of Confucius, along with other Legalist and Confucian philosophers. The first meritocracy was implemented in the second century BC/BCE, by the Han Dynasty, which introduced the world’s first civil service exams evaluating the “merit” of officials. Meritocracy as a concept spread from China to British India during the seventeenth century, and then into continental Europe and the United States.
With the translation of Confucian texts during the Enlightenment, the concept of a meritocracy reached intellectuals in the West, who saw it as an alternative to the traditional ancient regime of Europe. In the United States, the assassination of President James A. Garfield in 1881 prompted the replacement of the American Spoils System with a meritocracy. In 1883, The Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act was passed, stipulating government jobs should be awarded on the basis of merit through competitive exams, rather than ties to politicians or political affiliation.
The most common form of meritocratic screening found today is the college degree. Higher education is an imperfect meritocratic screening system for various reasons, such as lack of uniform standards worldwide, lack of scope, not all occupations and processes are included, and lack of access, some talented people never have an opportunity to participate because of the expense, most especially in developing countries. Nonetheless, academic degrees serve some amount of meritocratic screening purpose in the absence of a more refined methodology. Education alone, however, does not constitute a complete system, as meritocracy must automatically confer power and authority, which a degree does not accomplish independently.
MY VIEWS ON THE MATTER
I will not ramble on the merits of one system over the other, my point it’s to make aware my fellow Americans that we should never confuse our much vaunted democracy as our natural right to success, and fame. Democracy it’s a form of government that allows us to be consider as equals, when it come to our rights as individuals, and we deserve to be respected individually, regardless of our humble rank as the garbage collector, or as the powerful first citizen, the president of the United States of America. Sure almost any citizen could be president according to our laws, but I remind you that in 240 years of our history, we had only 43 presidents a rather short number if becoming a president would be God’s given right of every Harry, Dick and Tom in America.
Freedom for any individual to pursue a possibility doesn’t mean it’s a free pass for everybody to have a right to become exalted in rank in whatever you do, just because you have dreams of obtaining your fifteen minutes of fame without having to work hard for what you believe to deserve.
Dreaming it’s fine, dreaming too much and lacking the skills, or means to realize your dream it’s practically the definition of a fool. And who wants to be a fool?
Well judging by the numbers, it seem many of us fit the definition, I will not tire you with anecdotes of such foolery I am sure you have many anecdotes of your own, from relatives, friends, acquaintances at work, or elsewhere, maybe at one point in our life, ourselves played such role.
Yes we all deserve a chance, and yes we all should do our best to succeed, but before dreaming too high, we should do better by studying our shortcomings, and see a way to amend them, after all, success function more like a Meritocracy, than a Democracy despite both being not perfect. There is not a substitute for working hard at what you want, and sometimes that it’s not enough, other factors weight on the balance, so a philosophical attitude it’s necessary to deal with our lot in life, but please do not expect that after a life of mediocrity, and lack of effort to be rewarded with fame, and richness if you didn’t inherit a legacy from a rich family. If we examine our life and figure our handicaps, but are not willing to do anything, oh well, you can still buy your lotto ticket and dream like anybody else!
But my advice save the money of the ticket the odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are roughly 1 in 259 million, not very good, rather look at the other side of the coin, and that is to realize, and discover who you truly are, what its important is to be happy with yourself, and there’s nothing wrong with realizing that you are not ambitious, while this does not bother, or disturb you, the important thing is to be happy in your heart with who you are, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to be better, just the realization of knowing yourself it’s preferable than winning the lotto, in fact winning the lotto it may destroy your life. Meanwhile knowing yourself will be your real winning.
For many years I thought there was something wrong with my character, since never cared to become rich doing this, or that, neither to achieve success, or pursuing concrete goals, actually I was pretty indifferent to acquire lots of money, and as long as I had enough to go by, was pretty happy with, until…
Well that, is another story to be told on a future post, let just me say, that after years discover that my lack of ambition, turned to be my biggest treasure, and what an asset this is! Precisely my lack of ambition freed me of the need to be the kind of person I was not, and it was not in my nature to be, and stop me from pursuing the wrong things, the kind of stuff that would have been detrimental to my soul.
Life it’s an irony, doesn’t it?
But a wise irony it is!
Carl Jung said: “The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”
Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials. Lin Yutang
And the grass grows by itself.
Love cannot be found in erudition and science, books and pages. Whatever is discussed by people, that is not the way of lovers. Whatever you have said or hear is the shell. The kernel of Love is a mystery that cannot be divulged.
Why Romantic Love Seems Destined For Failure?
On our day an age we are no wiser that our forefathers were, in fact we seem to fall in to folly easier!
We spoke before about Romantic Love on April 2015 here we go back to it adding unsaid things about Love. For those of you who never read it maybe it will be useful to do it, since I prefer not to repeat saying the same things already treated on another post, but briefly I would say our notions of romantic love, and expectations for most of us in our predominant Western culture are totally out of whack with reality, feed by the media, movies, TV, romantic novels, and crass commercialism, hey it’s not a secret, Love sells! We celebrate it on every occasion, Valentines, super expensive weddings, jewelry, gift cards, flowers, chocolate, cakes, and any other present made in the name of love, from diners, movies, cars, houses, diamonds, serenades, dances, vacations, clothes, makeup, hairdos, you want to look good, and any conceivable expenditure made on the name of love too many to exhaust easily, weddings are also the foundation of a multi-billion dollar industry rife with questionable traditions and irrational expenses.
Our youth of course it’s the primary target for buying the idealization of love so when they marry can’t be strangers to the idea of throwing the house through the window, and in fact most parents paid for these weddings which tell you how even if the parents are already divorced themselves, still marrying your daughter or son becomes a matter of prestige, to expend extravagantly on a wedding.
With all these high expectations for happiness out of romantic love no wonder the letdown of failing to fulfill that happiness is anything but brutal.
If you look at the history of weddings only the nobility would celebrate sumptuous weddings, kings and princes would celebrate weddings, the rest of the people would have if lucky a blessing by a priest of their religion, before going back to milk the cow, or cook the daily meal. My point if you notice, is that a lavish wedding celebration now days is trying to mimic a fairy tale dream of kings and princesses, living happy ever after. What sort of model is that for realistic expectations for your average couple struggling to make a living?
But being the juicy business it is do not expect a change of values, since it is business who fuel the romantic notions of what love should be, my only advice if you want to be a fool for love, is hold on to your wallet, and get rid of fairy tales expectations about love, it is not real!
Love to begin with it is not infatuation, I will not try to define love, there is many degrees of love, but it’s not illusion, to care dearly for a woman, or a man is fine, to expect things to be a fairy tale, well that is a whole different story.
Fairy tales we tell children, hopefully with a moral story to help them to implant good values on them, but for adults to enact these fantasies, at a great price no doubt, tell us the children in us is well and alive, nothing wrong with it you may think, but it will be unwise not to realize there lays an Archetype dream, and that to try to become that Archetype it is not a good idea, since we always be short in fulfilling dreams.
Archetypes are innate universal pre-conscious psychic dispositions that form the substrate from which the basic themes of human life emerge. The archetypes are components of the collective unconscious and serve to organize, direct and inform human thought and behavior. Archetypes hold control of the human life cycle.
As we mature the archetypal plan unfolds through a programmed sequence which Jung called the stages of life. Each stage of life is mediated through a new set of archetypal imperatives which seek fulfillment in action. These may include being parented, initiation, courtship, marriage and preparation for death.
Hindsight is 20/20 we like to say, as we live the experience we learn from it, but of course it’s too late to change anything, at least for some if not everybody, old age brings maturity and set illusions to rest, and we can see the folly of our past actions, and too understand our dreams, and expectations were too big, and that romantic love was frail with all sorts of illusions that not correspond to our imperfect world of painful realities.
In India the Sanatana Dharma followers call this Maya; Illusion sometimes translated as the world to be an illusion, it is more subtle than that, more like not seeing truthfully things as they are.
“YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD
WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL,
AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND”
“YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD
AND HIM ONLY SHALL YOU SERVE”
As a child remember in my Catechism classes the rule that only God you could adore, and worship, humans and other things you could love, but adoring them and worshiping them was tantamount to idolatry. I guess that was my first hint that you have to take romantic love with a grain of salt, and not to make idols with clay feet. Not that it made me any good later, but we will not get in to that, since either yourself went through it, or you will likely find out on your own!
Relationships they are never perfect, more likely something we have to cope with it, a noble enterprise if you wish, marriage is a such a quandary state of living, as a friend of mine liked to quote her mother: “Marriage is the art of reaching a committed agreement, where the force of habit triumphs over hate.”
Not very romantic, but pretty good advice to any sensible, but full of illusion person wishing to get marry. So do not go overboard with romantic illusions, be practical keep your feet on solid ground, realize marriage it’s not a joy ride, more like a tough endurance race, that you bear with, for love.
And no, this is not a final word about love, Love is inexhaustible doesn’t it? So there will be more of it on future posts.
If people knew how hard I worked to get my
Mastery it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.
Practice it is what is needed in order to achieve Mastery, and practice is work, the amount of time you work in your practice it will depend on the seriousness of your intention, and the will you exercise in to it, and that’s practice.
My Aikido, and Zen teacher, will scratch his head when a student with false expectations would abandon the Dojo after a few lessons, realizing it will be impossible for them to acquire easily the skills necessary to be like the heroes of the many Martial Arts movies that at the time where big hits, but now days are a dime a dozen, and shaking his head my Sensei would say:
“Don’t they understand? It’s only a movie!”
Media it’s so powerful today that is easy to forget most things require a great effort to be achieved, at least those things that have any value, they require long time and much practice, be these working as a chef, fishing for crab in Alaska, become a great musician, or a great artist in the diverse fields of Arts, or simply following a Spiritual path.
The results of most enterprises will depend on the amount of time , effort, and work you put on any task at hand, period. To believe otherwise is to be fooling yourself, and setting yourself for disappointment
Excellence has a price, and you got to be willing to pay the price, otherwise you are wasting your time, another great anecdote from my Sensei come to mind.
Concerning a female friend of his who decided to study ceramic making with a great Sensei living in Japan, she announced to him she was leaving for Japan in order to become an apprentice with such Master.
A couple of years later he run in to her at a bank, my Sensei was very surprised to see her since he expected her to be in Japan at the time studying as he was told by her, after a brief conversations they went for coffee so she could explain to him why she was back, and here is what she told him.
“I was very naive at the time, I loved the beautiful ceramics and thought I could learn this beautiful craft just going over there and learn it easy, but to begin with as you know my Sensei live in the mountains far from populated areas, one of the reasons is that in order to set the ceramic pieces in the kilns a lot of wood it is necessary for the fires to keep them going day, and night for up to a month of work.
As I arrived in the mountains realized how rural, and simply my Sensei lived, there was no electrical power, no modern conveniences, or appliances of any kind, even the simplest tasks like cooking with firewood, or washing clothes by the creek in the cold waters of the mountain had to be done by hand, the same way with cleaning the wood floors, or mats, on your knees and with wet rags, also we had to care for a plot of land where we grew vegetables for use in our cooking, we cleaned, cooked, mended clothes, and all kind of chores necessary to run a household, plus taking instruction from Sensei about pottery making.
You go to bed after diner basically and it’s necessary to do it early because you got to get up very early every day of the year at 3:00 AM in order to go out and collect firewood, every one is required to bring a pack load of wood more or less the equivalent of your weight, and because you can’t just go and cut a tree you are only able to pick dead branches, and for that it’s necessary to walk for miles, up and down the steep mountains with hardly any tracks for you to walk bringing the wood from miles around, in the summer months it’s not an easy task, but in the winter months with the snow well…you can imagine how hard to find the wood in the snow, and darkness, dig it out, and to carry such heavy weight through the snow back to the house. Not to talk about how cold it gets out there, your hands and feet are numb all the time, and with chilblains, it’s brutal.
During the summer the Master will put the completed ceramic pieces in the kilns and set the fires burning that required vigilance and attendance 24 x 7 for weeks to feed the fires and make sure the temperatures of the kilns will be correct, and everything would go according to Sensei’s orders, of course that mean we couldn’t go to sleep guarding the fires until the whole thing was done, this was an ongoing thing for a whole month!
Excuse to tell you we hardly slept at all for the period and we where totally exhausted by the end of it.
During that time I did a lot of thinking about my vocation to be a Master ceramist, specially when I found out it will take twenty years of my life to live along Sensei in the conditions described, with no life but the study under Sensei’s rules, but what about my own life, and being a young woman. what about finding a husband, making a family, visiting my own parents in America was troublesome, so with heartbreak, and sorrow come to the conclusion being a Master ceramist wasn’t mean for me, and here I am…
In a time when we are so removed from simple living by the use of technology we almost live in a virtual world, wherever you go you see people walking holding their new gadget that allow them to live in cyberspace for hours at a time. Our tastes are now dictated by media like movies, and TV, where actors portray fantasies that are confuse with reality by many. We choose to follow the example of fictitious characters portrait by actors in movies, in my city the joke says every waiter it’s an aspiring actor, rock musician, script writer, plastic artist or at least a poet, but in fact I had run in to many other occupations who are in pursuit of the fame dream, or rag to riches dream, I use to meet casually at the place I work before the crash of 2008 with a lot of phone stock market brokers, now a not so popular occupation, who dreamed of making scripts, or movies, and at restaurants and cafes all kinds of people are in search of a person who may connect them to the right place in order to pedal their dream wares, there is an industry now who prey on these dreamers and help them put together a script, or a small movie, shot with aspiring actors looking themselves for their big chance, and all kind, of advice, and seminars in how to achieve your dreams. If you haven’t watch Zizek’s “The pervert guide to cinema” you should.
To have a vague fantasy of something you want to do, will no turn to be what in reality it is, confused by the romantic side, or the glamour of certain activities, like acting, or being a rock idol, have a way of confusing people’s minds in to believing something unreal to be real, deluding themselves in to making things work according to their fantasies.
When concerned with life as it is, as oppose as how you imagine things to be, things take a turn for the unexpected and we learn a lesson in humbleness after hardship, and enduring trials, and tribulations when you pursue anything of value. For those who go through such experiences there is something gained, even the knowledge that such thing wasn’t for you, or having grown up, character building, a great inner knowledge, and satisfaction of learning a precious thing about yourself.
And for those that endure to the end and Master whatever they choose to do, there is even a bigger reward of Spiritual worth.
Great Mystery spoke to our heart
and told us that Earth Would be
the Mother of countless life forms.
Cherokee Nation oral tradition
The age of Earth is approximately one-third of the age of the universe. An immense amount of geological change has occurred in that time span, accompanied by biological change.
Earth formed around 4.54 billion years ago by accretion from the solar nebula.Volcanic out gassing probably created the primordial atmosphere and then the ocean; but the atmosphere contained almost no oxygen and so would have been toxic to most modern life including humans. Much of the Earth was molten because of frequent collisions with other bodies which led to extreme volcanism. A “giant impact” collision with a planet-sized body is thought to have been responsible for forming the Moon.
The water must have been supplied by meteorites from the outer asteroid belt and some large planetary embryos from beyond 2.5 AU. Comets may also have contributed. Though most comets are today in orbits farther away from the Sun than Neptune, computer simulations show they were originally far more common in the inner parts of the solar system.
As the Earth cooled, clouds formed. Rain created the oceans. Recent evidence suggests the oceans may have begun forming as early as 4.4 Ga. By the start of the Archean eon they already covered the Earth.
Theories for the formation of the Moon must explain its late formation as well as the following facts. First, the Moon has a low density (3.3 times that of water, compared to 5.5 for the earth and a small metallic core. Second, there is virtually no water or other volatile on the moon. Third, the Earth and Moon have the same oxygen isotopic signature (relative abundance of the oxygen isotopes). Of the theories that have been proposed to account for these phenomena, only one is widely accepted: The giant impact hypothesis proposes that the Moon originated after a body the size of Mars (sometimes named Theia) struck the proto-Earth a glancing blow.
The collision released about 100 million times more energy than the more recent Chicxulub impact that is believed to have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. It was enough to vaporize some of the Earth’s outer layers and melt both bodies. A portion of the mantle material was ejected into orbit around the Earth. The giant impact hypothesis predicts that the Moon was depleted of metallic material, explaining its abnormal composition. The ejecta in orbit around the Earth could have condensed into a single body within a couple of weeks. Under the influence of its own gravity, the ejected material became a more spherical body: the Moon
This is of course a very brief synthetic version of the formation of the Earth, my intention its not a thorough scientific exposition of Earth history for those interested on Geological, and biological phenomena you can look elsewhere. My views concern more on looking at our Mother Earth in more than Historical scientific facts, and more towards her Archetype role model, and it’s Spiritual connection with ourselves, her children, since Earth it’s our Mother.
Native Americans say: One general truth that threads throughout the Native American spiritual beliefs is the belief of the Mother Earth spirituality. The Native Americans felt that the earth is our mother, the sky our father, and all things were interconnected. The many Creation myths of the Native American stress the mutuality and interdependence between people and other forms of life. There is mutual respectfulness required when interacting with trees, birds, and plants and also natural forces such as the wind and the rain. Their creation stories empathize that Creation did not just happen a million years ago and end there, but that the Spirit that first infused the world is still with us now and can be experienced as “immanence”, the spirit which imbues all things.
There were 500 hundred plus nations scattered from “sea to shining sea” north to Alaska and south to Land’s End, on Tierra del Fuego (Patagonia) It is a mistake is to believe that all of the 500-600 tribes were alike in their beliefs. Like most indigenous peoples, their ceremonies were tied to the land and their way of life. Each tribe’s rituals were connected to the specific qualities of the land that they called “home”. Because of the particular history of these tribes, their way of life was severely curtailed by the coming of the European settlers, and many spiritual practices and rites have been lost forever.
Although most of Native American societies did not have a written language or holy book, some tribes were very advanced and had written history and very organized spiritual ceremonies and practices. Some tribes were totally destroyed and others moved thousands of miles from the ancestral home. It is only in the last 25 years has the importance of the Native American culture and spiritual beliefs became more popularly known. By delving into the practices and beliefs and experiencing their essence for ourselves, we can be enriched by them and reach a better understanding of traditions that have been practiced for thousands of years.
Mother as an Archetype
It always strike me as naive, and lack of an interior life by those who miss the connection between the Earth and the Mother archetype, not only when it come to recognize the correspondence between Earth as the mother of every living creature in it, but our own relation with our carnal mothers as a mystery to be solve by our own development as Spiritual beings.
The mother archetype is a particularly good example. All of our ancestors had mothers. We have evolved in an environment that included a mother or mother-substitute. We would never have survived without our connection with a nurturing-one during our times as helpless infants. It stands to reason that we are “built” in a way that reflects that evolutionary environment: We come into this world ready to want mother, to seek her, to recognize her, to deal with her.
So the mother archetype is our built-in ability to recognize a certain relationship, that of “mothering.” Jung says that this is rather abstract, and we are likely to project the archetype out into the world and onto a particular person, usually our own mothers. Even when an archetype doesn’t have a particular real person available, we tend to personify the archetype, that is, turn it into a mythological “story-book” character. This character symbolizes the archetype.
The mother archetype is symbolized by the primordial mother or “earth mother” of mythology, by Eve and Mary in western traditions, and by less personal symbols such as the church, the nation, a forest, or the ocean. According to Jung, someone whose own mother failed to satisfy the demands of the archetype may well be one that spends his or her life seeking comfort in the church, or in identification with “the motherland,” or in meditating upon the figure of Mary, or in a life at sea.
Of course this examples are generalizations, it is to each individual to dive in to his own subjective self (soul) to discover how the Mother archetype affect him and what self discovery it’s necessary for the individual to make the connection that will bring resolution to his anima, and put him in harmony, not only within himself, but bring outward this realizations to make his actions on Earth in accordance with this inner self, and become positive steps for a better relationship not only with the environment, the treatment of women as second class citizens, and abuse, but a total understanding as Thelema quoting Aleister Crowley:
“As the Great Mother, represents MATTER, a word which is derived from the Latin word for Mother. She is the physical mother of each of us, the one who provided us with material flesh to clothe our naked spirits; She is the Archetypal Mother, the Great Yoni, the Womb of all that lives through the flowing of Blood; She is the Great Sea, the Divine Blood itself which cloaks the World and which courses through our veins; and She is Mother Earth, the Womb of All Life that we know.”
Carl Gustav Jung suggested that the archetypal mother was a part of the collective unconscious, a term I always like to substitute by subconscious) of all humans, and various Jungian students, e.g. Erich Neumann and Ernst Whitmont have argued that such mother imagery underpins many mythologies, and precedes the image of the paternal “father”, in such religious systems. Such speculations help explain the universality of such mother goddess imagery around the world.
All ancient civilizations had their Cosmogonies, what we call now creation Myths, and explanation of the birth of the Cosmos, or Earth, and the beginning of life, we will explore those in further posts.
So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life
Hardly explainable on an age of skepticism, and Science explanations for all kind of phenomena, Angels are now treated like a sort of New Age fad. They are something we associate with beautiful Pre-Raphaelite and renaissance paintings, carved statues accompanying Gothic architecture and supernatural beings who intervene in our lives at times of trouble.
An angel is a primarily spiritual being found in various religions. In Abrahamic religions and Zoroastrianism, angels are often depicted as benevolent celestial beings who act as intermediaries between God or Heaven and Earth, or as guardian spirits or a guiding influence. Other roles of angels include protecting and guiding human beings, and carrying out God’s tasks. The term “angel” has also been diverse to various notions of spirits or figures found in many other religious traditions. The theological study of angels is known as “angelology”.
If we look for the origin of Angels we can track them down to Chaldean Zoroastrian beliefs and further back to Indian Devas.
Deva (Sanskrit: देव, Devá) means “heavenly, divine, anything of excellence”, and is also one of the terms for a deity in Hinduism. Deva is masculine, and the related feminine equivalent is devi.
In the earliest Vedic literature, all supernatural beings are called Asuras. The concepts and legends evolve in ancient Indian literature, and by the late Vedic period, benevolent supernatural beings are referred to as Deva-Asuras. In post-Vedic texts, such as the Puranas and the Itihasas of Hinduism, the Devas represent the good, and the Asuras the bad. In some medieval Indian literature, Devas are also referred to as Suras and contrasted with their equally powerful, but malevolent half-brothers referred to as the Asuras.
Devas along with Asuras, Yaksha (nature spirits) and Rakshasas (ghosts, ogres) are part of Indian mythology, and Devas feature in one of many cosmological theories in Hinduism.
In Judaism an angel (Hebrew: מַלְאָךְ malakh, pluralmalakhim) is a messenger of God, an angelic envoy or an angel in general who appears throughout the Hebrew Bible, Rabbinic literature, and traditional Jewish liturgy. Angels in Judaism are categorized in different hierarchies. The figure of “the angel of Yahveh” (Heb. מלאך יהוה) has been perceived by generations of exegetes and interpreters as theologically troublesome due to its obscure and perplexing identity. Yet, mal’akh Yahvehseems to conceal the answer in regards to the origins of the idea of angels as heavenly commissioners.
Jewish mysticism or Kabbalah describes the angels at length. Angels are described in Kabbalah literature as forces that send information, feelings, between mankind and the God of Israel. They are analogized to atoms, wavelengths or channels that help God in his creation, and it is therefore, reasoned that they should not be worshiped, prayed to, nor invoked. They are not physical in nature but spiritual beings, like spiritual atoms. Therefore, the Kabbalah reasons, when they appear in the Hebrew Bible their description is from the viewpoint of the person that received the vision or prophesy or occurrence, which will be anthropomorphic. However, they are not material beings but are likened to a single emotion, feeling, or material, controlled by God for his purpose of creation.
On returning home from services on Friday night, the eve of Shabbat, or at the dinner-table before dinner Friday night, it is customary in Orthodox Judaism and Conservative Judaism to greet ones guardian angels (Angels of Service or Ministering Angels) with a traditional hymn beginning with:
- Peace be unto you, Malachai HaSharet (Angels of Service)
- Angels of the Most High
- From the King of the kings of kings
- The Holy One Blessed Be He
Before going to sleep, many Jews recite a traditional prayer naming four archangels, “To my right Michael and to my left Gabriel, in front of me Uriel and behind me Raphael, and over my head God’s Shekhinah [“the presence of God”].”
On the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah, it is customary to call all the boys (in some synagogues, all the children) to the Torah reading and for the whole congregation to recite a verse from Jacob’s blessing to Ephraim and Manasheh (Manassas).
- May the angel who redeems me from all evil, bless the children, and let my name be named in them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, and let them flourish like fish for multitude in the midst of the land (Genesis 48: 16)
- In Christianity mainly new converts belonging to pagan religions to begin with, had no qualms in accepting Angels, demons and whatever follows along with.
An Angel Appears to Mary
26 During Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin. She was engaged to marry a man named Joseph from the family of David. Her name was Mary. 28 The angel came to her and said, “Greetings! The Lord has blessed you and is with you.”
29 But Mary was very startled by what the angel said and wondered what this greeting might mean.
30 The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary; God has shown you his grace. 31 Listen! You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of King David, his ancestor. 33 He will rule over the people of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will never end.”
34 Mary said to the angel, “How will this happen since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel said to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will cover you. For this reason the baby will be holy and will be called the Son of God. 36 Now Elizabeth, your relative, is also pregnant with a son though she is very old. Everyone thought she could not have a baby, but she has been pregnant for six months.37 God can do anything!”
38 Mary said, “I am the servant of the Lord. Let this happen to me as you say!” Then the angel went away.
Mary Visits Elizabeth
39 Mary got up and went quickly to a town in the hills of Judea. 40 She came to Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the unborn baby inside her jumped, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 She cried out in a loud voice, “God has blessed you more than any other woman, and he has blessed the baby to which you will give birth. 43 Why has this good thing happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me?44 When I heard your voice, the baby inside me jumped with joy. 45 You are blessed because you believed that what the Lord said to you would really happen.”
Mary Praises God
46 Then Mary said,
“My soul praises the Lord;
47 my heart rejoices in God my Savior,
48 because he has shown his concern for his humble servant girl.
From now on, all people will say that I am blessed,
49 because the Powerful One has done great things for me.
His name is holy.
50 God will show his mercy forever and ever
to those who worship and serve him.
51 He has done mighty deeds by his power.
He has scattered the people who are proud
and think great things about themselves.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
and raised up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away with nothing.
54 He has helped his servant, the people of Israel,
remembering to show them mercy
55 as he promised to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his children forever.”
56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.
In Islam Angels Arabic: ملائكة malāʾikah; singular: ملاك or مَلَكْmalāk are heavenly beings mentioned many times in the Quran and hadith. Unlike humans or jinn, they have no free will and therefore can do only what God orders them to do. Believing in angels is one of the six Articles of Faith in Islam. Just as humans are made of clay, and jinn are made of smokeless fire, angels are made of light
- In Islam, the functions that the angels perform vary, one of the most prominent of these functions is their function as messengers. The angel Jibreel (Gabriel) is the most important (prominent) messenger angel, as in Islam, he delivers the message of God (Allah) to the Islamic prophets. Angels cannot be seen as they are heavenly beings but that can take on different forms, including human.
- Ibn Arabi discussing why Angels and Jinns can’t be seen said:
- God hid them from our view, so we cannot see them except when He wants to unveil them to some of His servants and let them see them. Since they are from the world of insubstantiality and subtlety, they can take on the appearance they wish to adopt among the sensory forms. The original form attributed to them is that of spirit, or to be more precise, this was the first form they received when God created them. Later they took on diverse semblances in accordance with how God wishes them to be. If God were to unveil our ordinary sight so that we could see what form is given by the faculty of image-making which God entrusts with making representations in the imagination of those of us who use imagination, then you would come to see in time the human being (insān) in various forms quite unlike each other.
The Jewish angelic hierarchy is established in theHebrew Bible, Talmud, Rabbinic literature, and traditional Jewish liturgy. They are categorized in different hierarchies proposed by various theologians. For example, Maimonides, in his Mishneh Torah or Yad ha-Chazakah: Yesodei ha-Torah, counts ten ranks of angels.
The most influential Christian angelic hierarchy was that put forward by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite in the 4th or 5th century in his book De Coelesti Hierarchia (On the Celestial Hierarchy). During the Middle Ages, many schemes were proposed, some drawing on and expanding on Pseudo-Dionysius, others suggesting completely different classifications. According to medieval Christian theologians, the angels are organized into several orders, or “Angelic Choirs”.
Pseudo-Dionysius (On the Celestial Hierarchy) and Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologica) drew on passages from the New Testament, specifically Ephesians 1:21 and Colossians 1:16, to develop a schema of three Hierarchies, Spheres or Triads of angels, with each Hierarchy containing three Orders or Choirs.
There is no standard hierarchical organization in Islam that parallels the Christian division into different “choirs” or spheres, and the topic is not directly addressed in the Quran. However, it is clear that there is a set order or hierarchy that exists between angels, defined by the assigned jobs and various tasks to which angels are commanded by God. Some scholars suggest that Islamic angels can be grouped into fourteen categories, with some of the higher orders being considered archangels.
There is also an informal Zoroastrian angelic hierarchy, with specific angelic beings called yazatas having key positions in the day-name dedications on the Zoroastrian calendar.
- The Skeptical view
- Two-thirds of all Americans believe not only that angels and demons exist, but also that they are “active in the world.” Skeptics are dumbfounded by such “archaic nonsense.”
To believe in nonphysical beings—souls or spirits without bodies or brains—in today’s world may seem, well, delusional. But there are serious scholars who take angels and demons seriously. Why?
Certainly, nonphysical beings would challenge the scientific worldview that only the physical is real. Certainly, angels and demons, in one form or another, populate most of the world’s religions. But do angels and demons really exist?
- Dean Radin, a leading researcher in extrasensory perception, has special ideas about angels and demons. “I view them as a projection of the unconscious,” he says. “You don’t need to go too far into the ESP world to appreciate why people persist in believing in such things. There is some kind of inter subjective reality, a reality that we create between ourselves and others by sharing thoughts and feelings.”
This is more than personal psychology. “It’s a natural extension of the idea that you’re not locked inside your head,” Radin says. “The moment that you make the leap of faith that our intentions, to some degree, can affect the world around us and what other people think, then you might create a shared mental space which can appear as if it were an angel or demon. It will seem just as real as a hard table would seem real, but it’s different in type.”
- Carl Jung asserted that we must embrace the inner darkness. The shadow must be faced to overcome it. It is our awareness of this inner demon’s existence that brings freedom from its control.
“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light but by making the darkness conscious.” – Carl Jung
- Rilke’s Duino Elegies excerpts
- Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the Angelic
Orders? And even if one were to suddenly
take me to its heart, I would vanish into its
stronger existence. For beauty is nothing but
the beginning of terror, that we are still able to bear,
and we revere it so, because it calmly disdains
to destroy us. Every Angel is terror.
And so I hold myself back and swallow the cry
of a darkened sobbing. Ah, who then can
we make use of? Not Angels: not men.
Finally they have no more need of us, the early-departed,
weaned gently from earthly things, as one outgrows
the mother’s mild breast. But we, needing
such great secrets, for whom sadness is often
the source of a blessed progress, could we exist without them?
Is it a meaningless story how once, in the grieving for Linos,
first music ventured to penetrate arid rigidity,
so that, in startled space, which an almost godlike youth
suddenly left forever, the emptiness first felt
the quivering that now enraptures us, and comforts, and helps.
DEMOCRACY A WEAK SYSTEM AGAINST CORRUPTING TYRANNY AND OLIGARCHY, OSTRACISM AS A PREVENTION IN ANCIENT GREECE
It’s always strike me as a great irony that the name of Marcus Junius Brutus Minor is an infamous name to many in our Republic history, and that most sympathize with Caesar.
“Et tu, Brute?“and you, Brutus?” or “you too, Brutus?”, purportedly as the last words of the Roman dictator Julius Caesar to his friend Marcus Brutus at the moment of his assassination. The quotation is widely used in English-speaking world to signify the utmost unexpected betrayal by a person, such as a friend.
The fame of the quotation is entirely due to its occurrence in William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, as Caesar utters these words as he is being stabbed to death, having recognized his friend and protege Brutus among the assassins. However, there is no evidence that Caesar actually said these words. Despite Brutus friendship.
Whatever unknown reasons Brutus may had in the killing of Caesar, it is suspected he was his illegitimate child, and he was a favorite of Caesar, still the fact is that he was defending the Republic against tyranny, and together with many senators was doing the killing of Caesar a sort of heroic act, in order to save the Republic from tyranny. Maybe it reflect our subconscious sympathies for our undemocratic love for empire.
Ostracism (From the Greek ὀστρακισμός, ostrakismos) was a procedure in which any citizen of ancient Athens could be expelled from the city-state for ten years. While some instances clearly expressed popular anger at the citizen, ostracism was often used preemptively. It was used as a way of neutralizing someone thought to be a threat to the state or potential tyrant. It has been called an “honorable exile”
Ostracism is derived from the ostraka, referring to the potsherds or pieces of broken pottery that were used as voting tokens. Broken pottery, abundant and virtually free, served as a kind of scrap paper, and was used by the citizens of Athens to write down the name of the one they wised to be ostracized. In contrast, papyrus, which was imported from Egypt as a high-quality writing surface, and was thus too costly to be disposable.
Ostracismwas a pre-emptive strike to take down any citizen who seemed to be trying to take control of the city. Because it could be done so early in anyone political career, it helped defuse any major confrontations between rival politicians or political groups before it overheated into civil war.
Each year, around January or February, the Athenians were asked in the assembly whether they wished to hold an ostracism. If they voted “yes”, then an ostracism would be held around two months later. In a roped-off area of the agora, citizens scratched the name of a citizen they wished to expel on pot shards, and deposited them in urns. The presiding officials counted the ostraka submitted; if a minimum of six thousand votes were reached, then the ostracism took place: the officials sorted the names into separate piles, and the person receiving the highest number of votes was exiled for ten years.
Crucially, ostracism had no relation to the processes of justice. There was no charge or defense, and the exile was not in fact a penalty; it was simply a command from the Athenian people that one of their number be gone for ten years. The person nominated had ten days to leave the city, if he attempted to return, the penalty was death.
The first rash of people ostracized in the decade after the defeat of the first Persian invasion at Marathon in 490 BC were all related or connected to the tyrant Peisistratos, who had controlled Athens for 36 years up to 527 BC. After his son Hippias was deposed with Spartan help in 510 BC, the family sought refuge with the Persians, and nearly twenty years later Hippias landed with their invasion force at Marathon. Tyranny and Persian aggression were paired threats facing the new democratic regime at Athens, and ostracism was used against both.
In 443 BC Thucydides son of Milesias (not to be confused with the historian of the same name) was ostracized. He led an aristocratic opposition to Athenian imperialism and in particular to Pericles’ building program on the acropolis, which was funded by taxes created for the wars against Persia. By expelling Thucydides the Athenian people sent a clear message about the direction of Athenian policy. Similar but more controversial claims have been made about the ostracism of Cimon in 461 BC.
In part ostracism lapsed as a procedure at the end of the fifth century because it was replaced by the graphe paranomon, a regular court action under which a much larger number of politicians might be targeted, instead of just one a year as with ostracism, and with greater severity. But it may already have come to seem like an anachronism as factional alliances organised around important men became increasingly less significant in the later period, and power was more specifically located in the interaction of the individual speaker with the power of the assembly and the courts. The threat to the democratic system in the late 5th century came not from tyranny but from oligarchic coups, threats of which became prominent after two brief seizures of power, in 411 by “the Four Hundred” and in 404 BC by “the Thirty”, which were not dependent on single powerful individuals. Ostracism was not an effective defense against the oligarchic threat and it was not so used.
As we can see ancient Athenians used ostracism as a defense mainly towards powerful, rich citizens, who using their money, and influences were potentially capable of destabilizing the State, by undermining democracy, oligarchs who through diverse ways tried to take over power either to become tyrants, or just to profit from their dealings at expense of the people. It could be alleged that on the long run didn’t work out, but we can’t deny that at least they tried to curb the ambition of the powerful so unlike today were the rich through corporate power basically do whatever they please to our expense, and we are incapable to defend our so much vaunted, but in fact ineffective democracy.
Our oncoming elections a clear example of the abuse of the powerful against the common interest of the many, where our are choices are dictated by the infamous 1% and the inevitable choice between the less of two evils takes effect, rather than what would be ideal for the common good.
In his famous book, MOSES AND MONOTHEISM, Sigmund Freud concluded that monotheism was not a Jewish but an Egyptian invention, descending from the cult of the Egyptian sun god Aten. Moreover, upon applying his psychoanalysis to the myths/stories of the Hebrew bible, Freud not only argued that Moses was an Egyptian priest but he was also perplexed by how the whole story of Moses/Exodus, according to the oedipal pattern of analysis, was inverted and didn’t make sense the way it had been told. In other words the Hebrew myths/stories didn’t seem original.
First let me say there is a lot of nonsense and misunderstanding related to the why of Monotheism, including Sigismund Freud idea of psychoanalyses of the Hebrew Bible!
Second let me say the word God it’s a loaded issue in itself!
Why is a loaded word? Because God means a myriad things to a myriad of people, in fact there is no man who may have a similar idea of the word God, and what it encompass. And that it’s why some religious people prefer not to give it a name, unfortunately because the intolerance of many religious groups and individuals through History the word God has become a word of dissension rather than unity.
One thing it’s not disputable is the fact that the word God encompass our private idea about it, which it’s by far not the same idea other individual may have. And if we can’t agree in a definition, or a meaning, how we will be able to sort this issue?
For some the word God it’s just a word, with no real existence, to others it’s not just a word but an experience, a way of life.
Some people rather than use the word God like to say it’s a Mystery, to which I wholeheartedly agree, ultimately any idea, or definition will be lacking…
Polytheism refers to the worship of or belief in multiple deities usually assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses, along with their own religions and rituals. In most religions which accept polytheism, the different gods and goddesses are representations of forces of nature or ancestral principles, and can be viewed either as autonomous or as aspects or emanations of a a creator God transcendental principle a monists theologies, which manifests immanently in nature as panetheistic and pantheistic theologies.
Unfortunately some of our Western pagans when trying to defend their views rely more on emotional issues like Patriarchy and it’s nefarious historical ramifications than on rational, and solid theological grounds.
And this by no means to dismiss their just claims, Patriarchy should be remember it’s a tribal institution adopted by migratory clans, shepherds and the like, who it’s independent of theological argument, unfortunately Monotheism was invested with these social garments in the Abrahamic religions, but I want to remind the reader these social characteristics are of no relevance when it come to the theological argument, of an All inclusive God, Transcendent and Immanent, I don’t see any problem with a vision of a religion with different social trappings based in equality and justice not only between men and women, but one that include social justice to the environment, Pachamama, our Mother Earth, and any non human creatures. There is a social problem around the world of a male dominated society independently of Religion, that of course reflects in our way of living, consequently some religious groups may still embrace this ossified mentality which it’s deplorable at this day an age.
VIEWS FROM SANATANA DHARMA =HINDUISM
Ed Viswanathan on : Am I A Hindu says:
“Hindus consider it absurd to state that any other true religion of the world is false.”
“The Bhagavad Gita (4:11) Krishna (a Hindu word for God) says: ‘Whatever and whichever way men approach Me, even so do I accept them; whatever paths they may chose finally lead to Me’….. From these lines, one can easily understand that Hinduism does not project itself as the only way to God-realization. It claims no monopoly on wisdom. It tolerates all forms of thoughts. A Hindu Yogi will never try to convert a person from another religion to Hinduism. Instead he will try to make a person’s faith steadfast in his/her own religion. The Gita says, ‘In whatever form a devotee seeks to worship Me with faith, I make his faith steadfast in that form alone.'”
“So, in Hinduism, you can worship the Almighty, which is formless and timeless, as Krishna, Jesus, Allah, Moses or as anyone or anything. As long as you have faith in that form of the Almighty, you will be following a true religion and you will ultimately realize the truth, even if you are following a crude form of worship. No one can be lost, according to Hinduism. In whichever way one may seek God, one is always in the path of God.”
“When someone calls ‘It’ Jesus Christ, ‘It’ comes as Jesus Christ; when someone calls ‘It’ Lord Krishna, ‘It’ comes as Lord Krishna. The great Muslim mystics, the Sufis, said, Wheresoever you turn, there is the face of Allah. In all forms of worship, ultimately the worshiper will transcend the name and form of his/her personal god. All of them started with their attachment to a personal god and finally ended up with an almighty which is timeless and formless…. The word Islam means submitter to the will of Allah, and Allah has no proper definition…. No religion has a monopoly on God.”
“All came from that which cannot be defined called Brahman (monism).” “All came from That, so all existence is good and divine (pantheism).” “There is only one God (monotheism).” “All of us are Gods. This, of course, is just like saying that if you analyze one drop of seawater, then you know everything about the entire sea, or that if you the properties of electricity within the light bulb, then you know all about the electricity in the entire network.” To search for God is like a pinch of salt finding the depth of the ocean, it becomes part and parcel of the ocean. Similarly, a devotee who seeks God becomes part and parcel of That.”
THE MYTH OF IMMUTABILITY IN RELIGION
The idea that religions are immutable in character it’s more a wish idea than anything close to reality, religion it’s linked to Man, and men change with time, places, customs, Historical periods, and new ideas, who come to discard old ideas who had lost their contemporary appeal, or reinvigorate them with new leaven, that it’s why it is of no point to stick to the letter in scriptures, literal interpretations encase words in to a straight jacket, when what it’s really important is to embrace the Spirit of it, and Spirit it’s a living thing, not a fossil encased on an old interpretation of a word, just like languages they evolve and change to become richer and useful, or they die and disappear as dead languages. “You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life.” (John 5:39,40).
This was true on Jesus days, as it is now. The world will be a better place if men will defend Truth, rather than words.
ONEIROMANCY DREAM INTERPRETATION, THE RAMESSIDE PAPYRUS, ARTEMIDORUS ONEIROKRITICON, SHAMANIC DREAMING, AND IBN SIRIN
80. With these last words the dying Enkidu did pray
and say to his beloved companion:
- “In dreams last night
- the heavens and the earth poured
- out great groans while I alone
- stood facing devastation. Some fierce
- and threatening creature flew down at me
- and pushed me with its talons toward
- the horror-filled house of death
- wherein lrkalla, queen of shades,
90. stands in command.There is darkness which lets no personagain see light of day.
- There is a road leading away from
- bright and lively life.
- There dwell those who eat dry dust
- and have no cooling water to quench their awful thirst.
- As I stood there I saw all those who’ve died
- and even kings among those darkened souls
- have none of their remote and former glory.
100. All earthly greatness was forfeitand I entered then into the house of death.Others who have been there longdid rise to welcome me.”
EPIC OF GILGAMESH
THE SCIENCE OF DREAM INTERPRETATION ONEIROMANCY
Oneiromancy It is defined as :(from the Greek όνειροϛ oneiros, dream, and μαντεία manteia, prophecy) is a form of divination based upon dreams; it is a system of dream interpretation that uses dreams to predict the future.
I m not in agreement with the definition, specifically with the idea it’s some sort of divination, a bad word that our Jungian friends would be insulted if we would define them as diviners, rather than interpreters, or analyzers of dreams, I agree Intuition may play by no means a small role, however this it’s not to imply a supernatural science, but rather a long time of study, and the acquisition of wisdom by experience and skill, that makes to the eyes of the uninitiated appear like a magic trick or divination.
Dream interpretation it’s not a new science, it was well known to our ancestors the Egyptian, Babylonian, Sumerian, Indian, Chinese, Greek, Roman, Celt, Maya, Aztec, Inca and all Native Americans Nations in North, Central, and South America on prehispanic times, and today between the Shamans of the Amazon basin and anywhere on America or Africa, or Asia, and Oceania including Australia and New Zealand, where Native Indigenous cultures have survived the onslaught of so call Western civilization.
Sigismund Freud, and The Swiss psychotherapist Carl Gustav Jung they didn’t discovered a new science they made the role of the High Priest, and the Shaman in to a methodological approach named psychiatry, and developed the field of analytical psychology, focused this idea and formed theories, experiments, and terminology around Oneiromancy, although if in need of therapy maybe with a few exceptions I would rather entrust myself to a wise Shaman in Amazonia, or elsewhere than to a run of the mill psychotherapist, a product of academy and dependent on pharmaceuticals for treatment.
A unique exemplar of a book of dream-interpretation survives from pre-Hellenistic Egypt, the so-called “Ramesside Dream-Book”
The Dream Book
From Deir el-Medina, Egypt19th Dynasty, around 1275 BC
Papyrus giving a list of dreams and their interpretations
The meaning of dreams is a subject that fascinated the ancient Egyptians. This hieratic papyrus, probably dates to the early reign of Ramesses II (1279-1213 BC). On each page of the papyrus a vertical column of hieratic signs begins: ‘if a man sees himself in a dream’; each horizontal line describes a dream, followed by the diagnosis ‘good’ or ‘bad’, and then the interpretation. For example, ‘if a man sees himself in a dream looking out of a window, good; it means the hearing of his cry’. Or, ‘if a man sees himself in a dream with his bed catching fire, bad; it means driving away his wife’. The text first lists good dreams, and then bad ones; the word ‘bad’ is written in red, ‘the colour of ill omen’.
The papyrus had several owners before it was, presumably, deposited in the cemetery at Deir el-Medina. It is uncertain who the original owner was, but it passed into the hands of the scribe Qeniherkhepshef; on the other side of the papyrus, the scribe copied a poem about the Battle of Kadesh, which took place in the reign of Ramesses II (1279-1213 BC). The Dream Book passed to Khaemamen, Qeniherkhepshef’s wife’s second husband, and then to his son Amennakht (both added their name to the papyrus). The Dream Book was part of an archive, including a wide variety of literary, magical and documentary material, which passed down through the family for more than a century.
During the Hellenistic era all across the Mediterranean, the practice took place in temples that were staffed by priest-physicians. In fact, dream temples made up the single most popular spiritual healing institution in the Mediterranean world.
These restful sanctuaries were designed to produce dreams that provided healing wisdom — and also instant cures — if we are to believe the boasts of ancient graffiti. Successful cures were honored with inscriptions on the walls of the sanctuaries, acting as advertisements as well.
The dream healers of ancient Greece were also surgeons and herbalists, teaching their young doctors the art of empirical observation coupled with an environment of safety and spiritual cleansing. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, learned from his dream healing mentors to make empirical observations rather than simply following untested beliefs. Hippocrates is also cited as writing a medical dream dictionary that focused on a number of common dream symbols that indicate bodily ailments, although many scholars attribute the work to his disciples.
Artemidorus (Greek: Ἀρτεμίδωρος ὁ Δαλδιανός) or Ephesius was a professional diviner who lived in the 2nd century. He is known from an extant five-volume Greek work, the Oneirocritica or Oneirokritikon (English: The Interpretation of Dreams)
Artemidorus was surnamed Ephesius, from Ephesus, on the west coast of Asia Minor, but was also called Daldianus, from his mother’s native city, Daldis in Lycia. He lived in the 2nd century AD.
According to Artemidorus, the material for his work was gathered during lengthy travels through Greece, Italy and Asia, from diviners of high and low station. Another major source were the writings of Artemidorus’ predecessors, sixteen of whom he cites by name. It is clear he built on a rich written tradition, now otherwise lost. Artemidorus’ method is, at root, analogical. He writes that dream interpretation is “nothing other than the juxtaposition of similarities” (2.25). But like other types of Greek divination, including Astrology, celestial divination and pallomancy, Greek dream divination (Oneiromancy) became exceedingly complex, a given dream subject to a number of interpretations depending on secondary considerations, such as the age, sex, and status of the dreamer. At other times, subtle distinctions within the dream itself are significant. In a particularly memorable passage, Artemidorus expounds upon the meaning of dreams involving sex with one’s mother:
- “The case of one’s mother is both complex and manifold and admits of many different interpretations—a thing not all dream interpreters have realized. The fact is that the mere act of intercourse by itself is not enough to show what is portended. Rather, the manner of the embraces and the various positions of the bodies indicate different outcomes.”
I rather put my allegiance to Artemidorus than to Sigmund Freud when it come to dreaming about the Mother, obviously an Archetype of primordial proportions , and to his practical skills as a priest of the temple of Ephesus where the sick specifically went to find an oracle to cure their sickness or deal with their problems, let’s just say that Artemidorus knew some ill patient was about to die when it’s dream was having sex with their mother and she was on top, an obvious allusion to the fact of been covered by mother earth, a returning to the womb we all come from.
The first three books of the Oneirocritica are dedicated to one Cassius Maximus and were intended to serve as a detailed introduction for both diviners and the general public. Books four and five were written for Artemidorus’ son, also Artemidorus, to give him a leg-up on competitors, and Artemidorus cautions him about making copies.
According to the Suda The Suda or Souda (Medieval Greek:Σοῦδα Soũda) is a massive 10th-century Byzantine encyclopedia of the ancient Mediterranean world, formerly attributed to an author called Suidas. It is an encyclopedic lexicon, written in Greek, with 30,000 entries, many drawing from ancient sources that have since been lost, and often derived from medieval Christian compilers. (Alpha 4025), Artemidorus also penned a Oiônoscopica(Interpretation of Birds) and a Chiroscopica (Palmistry), but neither has survived, and the authorship is discounted. In the Oneirocritica, Artemidorus displays a hostile attitude to palmistry.
Among the authors Artemidorus cites are Antiphon (possibly the same as Antiphon the Sophist), Aristander of Telmessus, Demetrius of Phalerum, Alexander of Myndus in Caria, and Artemon of Miletus.
Shamanism And The Dream
For thousands of years, many indigenous tribes and cultures have valued dreaming. The Shaman’s journey to other worlds in non-ordinary reality to commune with the spirits, to retrieve lost soul parts, to find healing for their community. Aborigine tribes of Australia believed dreaming was a way to travel to other places. Cultures used dreaming to foretell the future so they could plan for what was coming.
Dreaming is a time when we can turn off our conscious and third dimensional mind chatter and enter into a world of vivid imagination where the subconscious and our creativity connect to the sacred divine. Our dreams are gateways, they tell us a story, and it is up to us to follow the storyline and find the meaning.
There are many ways of dreaming, the Shamans use journeying, and employing all their senses to be able to walk in both worlds. Lucid dreaming and guided meditation are other forms of being able to travel the worlds. I would not like to dwell too much on these practices, since it would be too extensive to cite examples of many cultures around the world, with their own set of beliefs, and rituals, some may include entheogens, some may not, it’s just enough to say wherever there is an indigenous group of people who preserve their culture, despite the encroaching of the prevailing dominant Eurocentric culture, there you will find Shamans who will dream, and interpret dreams as a Spiritual quest, and as healing tools.
Ibn Sirin, Muhammad was one of the first ascetics of Al-Basra. He became the prime imam in religion and an erudite in the Qur’an. He was described by one of his contemporaries (Abu Ná’eem) as wise, heeding God and perspicacious, sharing food with his brethren and travelers, strongly interceding in favor of the lonely and those who were punished for one reason or another. He was alert, cautious, honest and properly maintaining whatever was entrusted to him. He used to weep at night and smile and rove around all day. And he fasted every other day. No one was as religious or as knowledgeable as him in his art. His family was so generous that they would not hesitate to offer to their visitor the last loaf of bread in their house. He used to savor and recite poetry.
He was particularly renowned for his extraordinary skill in interpreting dreams as attested by the Arabs’ greatest intellectuals, such as Al-Gaheth, Ibn Qutaybah and Ibn Khaldoun, who considered his work as crucial in this field.
The most notable of the books attributed to him is Dreams and Interpretations. Ibn Al-Nadim says that he was the author of Taabirul Ro’oya (What Dreams Express), which is different from or an abridged version of Muntakhabul Kalam Fi Tafsir El Ahlam (A Concise Guide for the Interpretation of Dreams) first printed in Bulaq, Egypt, in 1284 AH, in Lucknow in AD 1874 and in Bombay in 1296 AH. It was subsequently reprinted numerous times in various parts of the Arab World under different titles.
It’s very likely Ibn Sirin never wrote anything, but his fame was so great that later composers of books about dream interpretation used his name in order to add prestige to the books in question, the fact remain this book it’s a great help to interpret dreams.
My personal Views
Dream interpretation it’s as old as the time of the first dream, which set the date of dream interpretation way back to the time the first Man had a dream, and that is why Dream, and Myth are closely link by Archetypes. Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung were pioneers in our current Western culture for a systematic study approach to it, but by no means were discoverers, the same way Christopher Columbus didn’t discover America, Indigenous people did Thousands of years ago, and populated America, Christopher Columbus just made people in Europe aware of it.
By the very nature of dreams, their fluid state, and the myriad of objects, and situations, books about dream interpretation, can only be of help to recognize a symbolic meaning to objects without been categorically the last word, the dream interpreter has to analyze the dream taking in to consideration many factors, that may scape the neophyte, a dictionary of dreams it’s ultimately one of the many tools a skillful dream interpreter has resort to when the meaning it’s not clear, but as any tool it’s the skill of it’s use that brings good result to the enterprise, regardless of the tool itself, therefore dream books are just a general guide for interpretation, and the interpreter can’t rely solely on the book period.
Questioning the dreamer about the details of the dream can be useful, the more a person can recall about a dream the clearer the interpretation can be revealing in the details, sensations, feelings, colors, etc. The meaning of the dream, deep knowledge of Symbology, the use of analogy, are key factors, Spiritual awareness brings light, in to many affairs, and Intuition, plus knowledge about the dreamer facilitate the interpretation.
“There are as many paths to God as human souls on earth”. Ibn Arabi
You must only follow your path, path of the heart, learn how to feel and this way see beyond the mask, (ego) because reason, it sees the mask, the outside, the logic, but heart connects to one reality beyond it. Spiritual awareness shouldn’t be discarded either, on the contrary it’s closely linked in to the language of symbols.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SYMBOLS, CARL G. JUNG, SYMBOLISM NOT JUST AN ANCIENT SCIENCE, BUT IT’S RELEVANCE TODAY
Dreams are often parables that contain hidden treasure
if you’re willing to search for it. The condition of your heart
directly affects your spiritual insight and understanding.
Are you distracted or captivated by the gift God may
be giving you in your dreams? …It may reflect the condition of your heart.
Jesus only spoke in parables to the unbelieving because
He wanted them to have to apply their heart. He says in Matthew 13:13-15
This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not hear or understand. 14)
In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: ”
‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. 15)
For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’
I sort of smile, when reading about something were the author goes on with his dissertation ignorant about the many issues surrounding the topic he is talking about specifically one sided explanations, that ignore the deep power of symbols, and the use the ancients had for them way before we come to lost our way around them, this a profound loss for the understanding of an issue, even the explanation of the symbol itself!
According to the dictionary
something that represents or stands for something else, usually by convention or association, specifically a material object used to represent something abstract
an object, person, idea, etc, used in a literary work, film, etc, to stand for or suggest something else with which it is associated either explicitly or in some more subtle way
a letter, figure, or sign used in mathematics,science, music, etc to represent a quantity, phenomenon, operation, function, etc
But of course there is more, a lot more than that!
As for example:
Word Origin and History for symbol Expand
early 15c., “creed, summary, religious belief,” from Late Latin symbolum “creed, token, mark,” from Greek symbolon “token, watchword” (applied c.250 by Cyprian of Carthage to the Apostles’ Creed, on the notion of the “mark” that distinguishes Christians from pagans), literally “that which is thrown or cast together,” from syn- “together” (see syn- ) + bole “a throwing, a casting, the stroke of a missile, bolt,beam,” from bol-, nominative stem of ballein “to throw” (see ballistics).
The sense evolution in Greek is from “throwing things together” to “contrasting” to “comparing” to “token used in comparisons to determine if something is genuine.” Hence, “outward sign” of something. The meaning “something which stands for something else”first recorded 1590 (in “Faerie Queene”).
In considering the effect of a symbol on the psyche, in his seminal essay The Symbol without Meaning Joseph Campbell proposes the following definition: A symbol is an energy evoking, and directing, agent.
Later, expanding on what he means by this definition Campbell says:
“a symbol, like everything else, shows a double aspect. We must distinguish, therefore between the ‘sense’ and the ‘meaning’ of the symbol. It seems to me perfectly clear that all the great and little symbolical systems of the past functioned simultaneously on three levels: the corporeal of waking consciousness, the spiritual of dream, and the ineffable of the absolutely unknowable. The term ‘meaning’ can refer only to the first two but these, today, are in the charge of science – which is the province as we have said, not of symbols but of signs. The ineffable, the absolutely unknowable, can be only sensed. It is the province of art which is not ‘expression’ merely, or even primarily, but a quest for, and formulation of, experience evoking, energy-waking images: yielding what Sir Herbert Read has aptly termed a ‘sensuous apprehension of being’.
Heinrich Zimmer gives a concise overview of the nature, and perennial relevance, of symbols.
“Concepts and words are symbols, just as visions, rituals, and images are; so too are the manners and customs of daily life. Through all of these a transcendent reality is mirrored. They are so many metaphors reflecting and implying something which, though thus variously expressed, is ineffable, though thus rendered multiform, remains inscrutable. Symbols hold the mind to truth but are not themselves the truth, hence it is delusory to borrow them. Each civilization, every age, must bring forth its own.”
In the book Signs and Symbols, it is stated that A symbol … is a visual image or sign representing an idea — a deeper indicator of a universal truth.
Symbols are a means of complex communication that often can have multiple levels of meaning. This separates symbols from signs, as signs have only one meaning.
Human cultures use symbols to express specific ideologies and social structures and to represent aspects of their specific culture. Thus, symbols carry meanings that depend upon one’s cultural background; in other words, the meaning of a symbol is not inherent in the symbol itself but is culturally learned.
Symbols are the basis of all human understanding and serve as vehicles of conception for all human knowledge. Symbols facilitate understanding of the world in which we live, thus serving as the grounds upon which we make judgments. In this way, people use symbols not only to make sense of the world around them, but also to identify and cooperate in society through constitutive rhetoric.
Carl Gustav Jung and the Collective Unconscious
Carl Gustav Jung ; 26 July 1875 – 6 June 1961), often referred to as C. G. Jung, was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist who founded analytical psychology. His work has been influential not only in psychiatry but also in philosophy, anthropology, archaeology, literature, and religious studies. He was a prolific writer, though many of his works were not published until after his death.
Collective unconscious, a term coined by Carl Jung, refers to structures of the unconscious mind which are shared among beings of the same species. According to Jung, the human collective unconscious is populated by instincts and by archetypes: universal symbols such as the Great Mother, the Wise Old Man, the Shadow, the Tower, Water, the Tree of Life, and many more.
Jung considered the collective unconscious to underpin and surround the unconscious mind, distinguishing it from the personal unconscious of Freudian psychoanalysis. He argued that the collective unconscious had profound influence on the lives of individuals, who lived out its symbols and clothed them in meaning through their experiences.
In Jung’s 1916 essay, “The Structure of the Unconscious”. This essay distinguishes between the “personal”, Freudian unconscious, filled with sexual fantasies and repressed images, and the “collective” unconscious encompassing the soul of humanity at large.
In “The Significance of Constitution and Heredity in Psychology” (November 1929), Jung wrote:
And the essential thing, psychologically, is that in dreams, fantasies, and other exceptional states of mind the most far-fetched mythological motifs and symbols can appear autochthonously at any time, often, apparently, as the result of particular influences, traditions, and excitations working on the individual, but more often without any sign of them. These “primordial images” or “archetypes,” as I have called them, belong to the basic stock of the unconscious psyche and cannot be explained as personal acquisitions. Together they make up that psychic stratum which has been called the collective unconscious.
The existence of the collective unconscious means that individual consciousness is anything but atabula rasa and is not immune to predetermining influences. On the contrary, it is in the highest degree influenced by inherited presuppositions, quite apart from the unavoidable influences exerted upon it by the environment. The collective unconscious comprises in itself the psychic life of our ancestors right back to the earliest beginnings. It is the matrix of all conscious psychic occurrences, and hence it exerts an influence that compromises the freedom of consciousness in the highest degree, since it is continually striving to lead all conscious processes back into the old paths.
On October 19, 1936, Jung delivered a lecture “The Concept of the Collective Unconscious” to the Abernethian Society at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London. He said:
My thesis then, is as follows: in addition to our immediate consciousness, which is of a thoroughly personal nature and which we believe to be the only empirical psyche (even if we tack on the personal unconscious as an appendix), there exists a second psychic system of a collective, universal, and impersonal nature which is identical in all individuals. This collective unconscious does not develop individually but is inherited. It consists of pre-existent forms, the archetypes, which can only become conscious secondarily and which give definite form to certain psychic contents.