foundational essays out of a Science of the Spirit,
in support of the coming
living metamorphosis of Christianity
by Joel A. Wendt
philosopher...and occasional fool
author's brief forward: (p. 2)
[page numbers are approximate]
New Wine: the art of the
sacrament of reason on the altar of
The Idea of Mind: a Christian
practitioner considers the problem of consciousness (p. 8)
The Quiet Suffering of
be separated from Nature (p. 36)
A Matter of Death (p. 59)
a small meditation on the
spiritual path pioneered by
Ralph Waldo Emerson, including a report of some practical
occasion of Emerson's 200 birthday, May 25th, 2003, at the
School of Philosophy in Concord, Massachusetts (p.63)
this and that: some thoughts on the
Four Noble Truths ((p. 70)
pragmatic moral psychology (p.
The Misperception of Cosmic Space As Appears In the Ideas of Modern Astronomy: and as contained in the understandable limited thinking regarding the nature of parallax and red shift. (p. 88)
Insanity of Psychiatric Medicines and
common sense and a return to the knowledge of soul and
mean for our mental health system and care
Transcendentalism Comes of
Age* - the transcendentalist impulse, heretical Christianity and
Anthroposophy - (p.
The Arcanum of the Loom: the spiritual meaning of the Internet (p. 191)
the next four are recently added - and can also be found in the published book at Lulu.com http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/new-wine/11927276
The Coming Metamorphosis of Christianity
Sam Harris and Humanity's Moral Future
Saving the Catholic Religion from the Roman Church through deepening our understanding of the Third Fatima Prophecy
Barack Obama and the reality of the Anii-Christ Spirit
two essays published elsewhere, included
here as a help in the introduction to a rational
impulse, and a religious scientific impulse
The Meaning of Earth
Existence in the Age of the
In Joyous Celebration of the
Soul Art and Music of
author's brief forward
The essays collected in this tiny book were written over a period of almost two decades, and represent several provisional attempts to lay a foundation for a more rational Christianity. These essays can be read as a preparation for a closer examination of those matters to be found in my books: the Way of the Fool: the conscious development of our human character, and the future* of Christianity - both to be born out of the natural union of Faith and Gnosis; and, American Anthroposophy: a celebration of the American Soul's unique ability to contribute to the future of Anthroposophy, and to the future of world culture.
The Way of the Fool is meant to
be an opening dialog between exoteric Christianity (the Way of
or of the Shepherds) and esoteric Christianity (the Way of
of the Kings). American
Anthroposophy is meant to be a
certain errors into which certain aspects of the practice of
Christianity fell during the latter two-thirds of the 20th
The study of the essays below should provide a sound
later taking up either or both of the above two books.
I have, in
reviewing these essays for
inclusion in this little book, made a few small corrections to
original text, and as well began this small book with a
brief new essay as an introduction.
As this book is
introductory, you will
find that it mentions many other books and writers in the
essays. That is what this little book means to do,
introduce the reader to a literature and work they may have no
exists. They also may not know that such
work represents nothing less than New Revelation, for a great
this work is fully rooted in a conscious connection to the
This last needs
some more explanation.
The Divine Mystery is living (...in it was life and
life was the light of the world...).
is ever new, and when people try to fix such revelation in the
a book such as the Bible, they kill this living revelation
to always be able to speak to us in our present.
a certain time create these books, selecting what to include
to exclude. They then justify this human activity
for it divine inspiration. For example, the Roman
over the centuries often deviated from the truth and became
earthly temptations. At these moments the Mystery
inspire a corrective in the various Saints and the founders of
of the religious orders (such as the Franciscans). Those
understand this history will realize how little of these
were accepted and became fundamental reform in the
form that was the institutional Church. The Mystery
to speak through, and while the hierarchical institutional
was unable to hear, enough of the laity was able to listen,
as time passed, at least a few individuals could deepen their
experience in the religious orders.
even the orders would grow
old, and fix their rule into dogma. When you
with the Church's punishment of those who express supposedly
doctrine, you get a social process where institutional power
able to trump the work of the Mystery as it continuously
individuals. If we examine the institutional Church we
lost in legalisms and a vanity of power and authority (instead
humility and service). There is no room in such a
in the souls of those who adhere to it blindly, for the
bring in the living, always modern and to the point, new revelation.
scientific age progressed,
religious doctrine and dogma became more and more rigidly
While science on the one hand opposed
Christianity, this same institutional power structure more and
tried to carve out a field of thought where it could claim
moral authority. During the advent of science (the
Copernican revolution), new revelation that was unable to
the institutional Church was punished as heresy, and those who
disagreed with doctrine were tortured and murdered.
consequence, this constant and
ongoing living stream of wisdom hid itself, in the work of the
alchemists, the original Rosicrucian's and other similar work
individuals. A division was manifesting between Faith
for while Faith (becoming more and more an arid belief in the
institutional hierarchy) had potency for many, without ongoing
revelation (out of Gnosis - that is direct contact with the
Mystery), the ground underneath Faith more and more began to
This reached a
high point in the early
20th Century, when the work of Rudolf Steiner was offered to
Here stood a giant of inspired religious revelation,
build a bridge between science and religion, writing books and
lectures. Fully Christian in its fundamental nature,
revelation (Anthroposophy and Spiritual Science) made no
force itself on the Church or to suggest that it was in itself
renewed Christianity (to understand a renewed Christianity,
read the Way of
the Fool the
conscious development of our human character, and the future*
Christianity - both to be born out of the natural union of
Gnosis, noted above). The work
Rudolf Steiner, and his many companions, was in fact the
return of the
Kings stream of wisdom, which had been fully recognized in the
(wise kings from the East).
Incarnation this ancient
mystery wisdom and conscious approach to knowledge of the
stepped into the background for a time, and then in the 20th
returned (it had returned once before at Chartres in the 10th
but that is a whole other story). In the 20th
humanity was now fully under the influence of natural science,
religion was thought to be incapable of adding anything to
thought. Yet, with the return of the stream of the Kings
(especially Rudolf Steiner) science and religion were
reunited, by a
process that asked of science that it become religious, and
religion that it become scientific. The place the two
individual souls was art.
Steiner's life, this new
revelation gave birth to a new kind of education (Waldorf
new kind of science (Goethean Science), a new kind of
(bio-dynamic farming), a new kind of medicine
medicine) and much more. All this during the 20th
flowed out over humanity, and the institutional Church was not
to this, for it happened right in plain sight in Central
institutional Church, as with
much it had done over the years, turned a conscious blind eye
which threatened its assertion of superior moral authority and
over its members, supposedly Christians all. This was
more than a
tragedy, it was a crime. New revelation was made
humanity in a quite obvious way, but those in authority in the
Catholic institutional hierarchy love their own power and
more than they loved either their own laity, the truth or
As we enter the
21st Century, it becomes
imperative that such treasures do not pass by those who
science and religion do not have to be opponents. The
this little book are meant as an introduction to the more
aspects of the new revelation.
In addition to
work I have previously
written, I have also written an essay on the stars just for
given that perhaps one day in the not too distant future, we
realize that our present image of cosmic space, as a kind of
three-dimensional endlessness, will be eventually be seen as
kind of fundamental flaw that led more ancient peoples to
the Earth as flat. Yes, that's right folks, I am going
that the heavens are in fact a representation of Heaven
that appears in the physical, and the ancients were right to
the Earth the center of the Universe. At the same time,
remain within the rational and the facts - the reader may be
Given that most
people will find the
whole thing quite ludicrous, I hope the more discerning reader
enjoy that final essay in the wry spirit in which it was
That essay is, as was often said in the 1960's: far out - man,
- the art of
the sacrament of reason on the altar of devotion -
of reason into which my
life took me over 25 years ago, could not have been
without the inspiration of Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), on the
anniversary of whose birthday (Feb 27th, 2008) I write the
version of this brief introductory essay. While my
grounded me in Faith, circumstances in my biography, beginning
31st year, brought it about that it became necessary to add to
practice of Christian Faith, a scientifically based Christian
following the example of Steiner.
forgotten that the Birth
of Christ-Jesus was attended by two groups: Shepherds and
With Rudolf Steiner's work, the insight of the Wise (the
has returned to benefit all of humanity. Steiner was a
thinker, who still is hardly at all recognized by the general
for the extraordinary genius he presents. This lack of
recognition is no doubt connected to the fact that to the
said that if they wanted their science to really discover the
they had to become religious in their attitudes (the
laboratory is to
become an altar). To the religious he insisted that all
of mystery and magic in the practice of religion could not be
unless the devotional practice became scientific and rational
core. Scientific and rational pure thinking, he taught,
properly carried out could become exactly the modern path to
spiritual experience - the one path that would allow science
religion to rediscover their true inter-dependence.
between the two was, however, to
be built out of the impulse to Art. Art, via the
imagination - or
the picture creating faculty of the soul, was the natural
between Science and Religion.
possibility, latent in thinking
itself, did not actually exist at the time of the Birth 2000
Humanity's inner life evolves, and this evolution of consciousness has brought us
to where we are today - in a necessity of tension between
Religion. Our civilization will fall into terrible decay
if we do
not turn inward and discover the potential, latent in pure
for spiritual experience. Science must become religious
Religion scientific. The balance point is to be found in
it is only out of the artistic aspect of the soul that a
language can be built bridging the other two great cultural
Science, Art, Religion. Truth, Beauty, Goodness.
Imagination, Devotion. In the essays below will be found
and New Mysteries for a
"And John's students
came up to him and said, "Why is it
that we and the Pharisees fast a lot, while your students
"And Jesus said to them, "The wedding party can't be in mourning while the groom is with them, can they? There will come days when the groom will be taken away from them, and then they can fast. No one patches an old cloak with a scrap of brand new cloth. It takes away the cloak's completeness, and a worse split results. Nor do they put new wine in old wine skins, because if they do, the skins break and the wine pours out and the skins are ruined; instead, they put new wine in new skins and both are preserved."
Matthew 9:14-17 translation from the original Greek by Andy Gaus, as published in the Unvarnished Gospels.
The Idea of Mind
- a Christian meditation practitioner considers the problem of consciousness - (originally written in the early '90's
revised for this book in
For many people, having been raised in modern culture, mind is thought to be something that exists in the brain, and as a byproduct of basically chemical and electrical processes in cells and nerves. This essay considers this problem quite directly and finds that, for all its inventiveness, science has yet to ask and seek the answer to the most important question - "what is mind to itself". When mind considers itself directly, in its own inward environment, then the idea of mind, as a product of the biology of the brain, fails.
If laymen were
not intrigued by the
mysteries of the world, there would be little interest in the
flow of books and magazine articles explaining modern
anthropology, paleontology, and so forth. While such
often fascinating, far too many science writers unnecessarily
the boundaries between fact and speculation. For the layman
distinction, between what scientists truly know and what they
might be true, is not understood and has engendered in the
a scientific appearing, yet somewhat mythological, world view.
the once unanimous
acceptance of natural selection as the guiding principle in
evolutionary biology is slowly eroding in those circles where
problem is critically considered. Yet this idea, which is not
by an honest assessment of the geological facts, remains a
the modern view of our evolutionary past. It is used in
places to explain and support other speculations, and will no
continue for some time to be one of the main beliefs we have
world. Its truth is not proven, however. The known facts do
In this regard,
when speaking of natural
selection, or "Darwinism", I am basically referring to the
which modern humanity is taught, namely that the human being
through millions of years as a result of accidental processes
from a mineral ocean, through a biological soup, to single
organisms, then to invertebrates, vertebrates, mammals and
man. It is
this general picture which is not sustainable in the face of
facts, and the genuine pursuit of the truth.
record reveals that between
when a geological age begins and when it ends the plants and
have remained the same. The paleontologist calls this "stasis"
the whole of a geological age there is no observable
change, particularly no evidence whatsoever of one species
transmuted into another. Whatever change does occur, appears
in the interval between ages, which for unknown reasons
mysterious, and leaves no trace of its processes.
thinking concerning the
geological record will see that what is presented to our
and imagination is a sequence of transformations which have as
main characteristic the living process of metamorphosis. A particular geological period dies into
condition of formlessness, soon thereafter to be reborn filled
entirely new forms of life, totally new ecological systems and
Moreover, when the record is grasped by the imagination
single whole (which it quite rationally has to be), it is not
discontinuous, but speaks plainly in the language of life that
Earth is a living organism that has undergone a long unbroken
metamorphic processes. It is only an analytic thinking,
concentrates on the parts instead of the whole, that fails to
This is an
objective instance where the
theoretical speculations of science have not stood the test of
yet our ideas of the world, once captured by this speculative
conception, are unable to disentangle themselves. Natural
such a strongly held article of faith, both within and without
scientific community, that it will continue to be a dominant
many many years. In human psychology it has more kinship with
it does with truth.
It is this myth
making capacity of
scientifically authored speculations that concerns us. It is
powerful force on the ideas we hold about the world, that we
expect, for example, that many readers will not believe what
said here about natural selection. Dozens of books and
supporting what is said could be cited, yet most people would
dismiss these statements as the prejudices of perhaps a
then risk their own belief system and actually look into what
discussed in those circles where this question is genuinely
considered. (See for example: Dogma
Doubt, by Ronald H. Brady
ago, in a popular critical
examination of evolutionary biology, Darwin
Trial, Phillip E. Johnson, (1991,
Gateway), the whole problem was carefully examined with an eye
aiding the layman in understanding the difficulties that
represents. The standard, however, is not to test modern
biology against some kind of competing theory, but rather to
whether it is good science. It is this which "Darwinism" fails
is simply bad science, and as a consequence results in two
and dangerous results.
The first is
that it holds still the
advancement of the biological sciences in that these might
important facts upon which a more realistic theory could be
As long as "Darwinism" is held to, biology is blind when it
the past, trapped in an illusion of its own creation.
danger is that this untestable
theory (see Brady above) is used to support other kinds of
in other realms, most significantly for our purposes, the
of human consciousness. Important questions, which otherwise
suggest alternative ways of thinking about consciousness,
asked because "Darwinism" is already presumed to answer them.
various places, as we proceed with the text, we will encounter
danger. When this occurs as we run into this speculative and
creating impulse, I will endeavor to point it out.
The Idea of
in neurophysiology, in
computer science, and in cognitive science and related
have produced numerous books, as well as major television
the workings of the mind. For the most part, when I read these
find my morality, my heart-felt concerns, my idealism, my life
prayer, of meditation and contemplation - all these most
subtle inner experiences - increasingly explained as mere
electrochemical phenomena, as products of brain activity in
material sense, and nothing else. Here is the speculative myth
power of science in action. In saying this it should be noted
is not so much that I am against science, but rather that
only asked one-half of the essential question, namely what is
consciousness viewed from the outside. The other half of the
is: What is consciousness viewed from the inside.
The views put
forward by the vast
majority of workers in these fields are materialistic,
and ultimately anti-religious, although often not consciously
questions of the ultimate truth of human nature, in so far as
sciences consider them, are being decided without really
in a forum in which the broader implications are considered.
Neurophysiology, for example, really only asks certain limited
questions (chemical happenings in brain cells, or how cells
to apparently accomplish computation), yet appears to assume
states of consciousness are produced exclusively by these cell
"It is old hat to say
that the brain is responsible for
mental activity. Such a claim may annoy the likes of Jerry
the Ayatollah, but it is more or less the common assumption of
people in the twentieth century. Ever since the scientific
the guiding view of most scientists has been that knowledge
brain, its cells and its chemistry will explain mental states.
believing that the brain supports behavior is the easy part:
how is quite another." (Mind
How the Mind and Brain interact to Create Our Conscious Lives, Michael S. Grazzanica Ph.D. pp 1, Houghton
For a more
modern statement of the
problem, this from an article on the World Science website, in
understand what creates consciousness-the sense of being alive
aware-is one of the all-time most exasperating problems in
key stumbling block: even if one knew every brain mechanism
consciousness, there would still be no apparent way to see or
the actual production of consciousness.
perhaps note two things about
the first quotation above. First the words "common assumption" and "believing", by which
tacitly admits that we are not here dealing with proven facts,
rather with the "belief system" held in common by some unknown
of the scientific community. Secondly, he clearly admits that
from facts about brain chemistry and related phenomena to an
explanation of consciousness, free will, morality etc. is a
undertaking (still a problem 20 years later - see second
In that portion
of the scientific
community supportive of Grazzanica's "common assumption",
mind are considered a single phenomenon, and one popular
even goes so far as to say that the recent advances in
establish conclusively that there is no human spirit, and that
states of consciousness are caused electrochemically. "There will of course
certain sadness as the "human spirit" joins the flat earth,
infallibility and creationism on the list of widely held but
erroneous convictions." (Molecules
the Mind, Jon Franklin, p 202,
New York, 1987).
There can be no
doubt that if a human
being ingests certain chemical substances, whether for
purposes or as prescribed medicine, the state of consciousness
altered. Electrical stimulation of the brain also produces
whether it is simple stimulation of certain brain centers to
pleasure or to bring out memories, or whether it is the more
electroshock therapy, still urged today for certain
disorders. In one part of our society we say free use of
alter mental states is a crime and in another part forced use
advocated in order to control deviant behaviors. (c.f. Deviance
Medicalization: from Badness to Sickness,
Conrad and Schneider, Merrill Publishing Company, 1985).
The point of
this is to realize that we
are not only dealing with serious questions of truth, of
scientists actually know what they claim to believe, but also with
the social policy consequences of this
knowledge. The central question remains, however: what is the
relationship between mind and brain? As we proceed, I would
show how to extend our knowledge of human consciousness by
what one can come to know from what might be called: Christian
meditative practice. In such a practice, what one can know
is quite different from what science knows. In such a
practice, mind is
explored from the inside rather than from the outside. Even
unfortunately, those who have explored mind from the outside
pretty much concluded: "...it has long been recognized that mind
does not exist
somehow apart from brain..." (The
Mind, Richard M. Restak M.D. pp ll,
Bantam Books, 1988);
premise about the brain is that its
workings - what we sometimes call mind - are a consequence of
anatomy and physiology and nothing more." (The
Dragons of Eden, Speculations of the Evolution of Human
Intelligence, Carl Sagan, pp.7,
Ballantine Books, 1977). [note in the
above the use of the terms premise and Speculations]
conclusions are possible, in
fact, may be said to be mandated, if one takes the trouble to
consciousness from the inside, as is possible for anyone with
a more or
less intact mental health, and the requisite good will.
At this point I
would like to proceed in
such a manner that it is provisionally allowed to use the
and soul, but in a way that acknowledges the legitimate
science for exact, empirical and logically rigorous
These two words are essential to understanding mind from a
contemplative view and can be put forward in a way free of
or mystical implications. The problem is in part confused by
that today, when we use the word mind in normal language
usage, we mean
only the brain and as well confine this aspect of our nature
boundaries of the skull. Mind (in modern usage) means brain,
within the head.
spirit, on the other hand, are
not thought of this way, and while many people do not even
entities exist in the same sense as mind and brain, at least
words have the advantage of being capable of a usage meaning
beyond the spatially limited confines of the cranium.
The problem is
one of relating personal
experience through language in a situation in which the
science have tended to already fix the meaning of certain
example, the poet will refer to heart with regard to the
human feeling. Our whole language is filled with related
(heart-felt, warm-hearted etc.). On the other hand, the
community tends to see emotion (feeling) as a function of
brain chemistry, and therefore as an aspect of the
nexus. Yet, an electrochemical explanation seems to deny human
experience, which has produced language implying that the
center of our
"feeling" life is not connected to the brain, not located
the head, but rather finds is primary locus in the chest. We
have a gut feeling", or "my heart got caught in my throat".
The point of
this is to notice the denial
of this imagery (derived from human experience) by the
scientific thinking which have over the last few hundred years
more confined the source of these experiences to the head and
As a general
trend in science this is
called reductionism and involves a process which Eddington
earlier in this century: "Knowing more and more about less and
less." Our body of knowledge about
cell chemistry and neural
networks in the brain grows, but often at a cost to genuine
understanding (I say this from direct experience, as one who
in a neuropsychiatric unit in a private hospital). Perhaps it
to pause and consider whether or not it is necessary to go the
way for a while, to reintroduce the study of the soul, from
as it appears to direct human experience.
This can, I am
certain, be done with due
regard for the demand of science for reproducibility. I
is not the usual approach by religious thinkers, yet in this
mutual respect for the truth seems to require it. This ethical
of science for reproducibility, namely that whatever is
concerning mind (soul/spirit) be discoverable by another who
to follow the procedures, the experimental protocols, as it
demand I believe is perfectly justified.
In "new age"
circles one hears frequently
about mind, body and spirit, meaning, I suppose, that these
distinguishable human characteristics. In modern mind sciences
of mind and brain. Are these differing perspectives talking
same things at all? It will be useful to note in passing that
Freud's works were translated from German into English the
"geistes" (spirit) and "seele" (soul) were both translated as
(c.£ Bruno Bettelheim's Freud and
man's soul, A.A.Knopf, 1983), even
English did have the correct dictionary terms. This really
that for the English consciousness the inner life was already
of as mind even though Europe had had a long tradition of
inner life in terms of soul and spirit (Freud thought and
wrote out of
Modern American English still uses these terms as in: soul power, soul brother, soul music, or in noting the distinction between the spirit and the letter of the law.Yet such usage's are more metaphorical, more imaginative, than the exact language usage which science demands, in fact depends upon. Even so, while brain has a very concrete physical existence, mind does not; it is much more ephemeral. It can't be touched, nor can consciousness, or inner life, or feeling, or even idea. Yet, these apparently non - sense perceptible - phenomena are all recognized intuitively. We accept loss of consciousness in sleep and in certain conditions of trauma or illness. We moderns are in love with feelings and their expression, about which have recently been written more books than one can read. The practice of science would get nowhere without ideas and in fact the principle foundation of science's logical rigor is mathematics, which has no sense perceptible existence at all, and is nowhere observable in nature, even with instruments.
That nature is
mathematical lines confirms the utility of mathematical
the creation of mathematical insight comes first. The
produces these ideas out of its own nature, before they are
applied to the natural world.
Descartes invented analytic
geometry while high on dopamine (a neurotransmitter identified
factor in drug use and satisfaction). How are we to relate the
state of the brain and the simultaneous ideas? Is one producer
product? And, if the productive cause is then questionable,
accept the product?
recently joined the
(illustrious?) group of historic personalities to be diagnosed
having a psychiatric disorder (depression in his case) by a
psychiatrist who never personally met him. If true would this
analytic geometry a dubious discovery, or a hallucination
unreal)? Our electrical technology is impossible without the
that followed (and its relative differential equations), so
something very different about this non - sense perceptible -
called mathematics. It is somehow part of the world yet only
It is clear
that accepted scientific
ideas are not being disputed because their producer has been
time categorized as having been either physically or mentally
one can find in the literature (in the brain sciences) the
so-called mystic states and other kinds of religious
represent, or are caused by, unusual chemical states; i.e. are
those who experience them say they are: experiences of God.
can this be? How can one make such a distinction that
discovery of a mathematical truth is different from the
discovery of a
religious truth, merely on the basis of the possibility that
happenings in the brain can induce hallucinatory states of
Now the working
scientist should have an
argument here, which is, at first blush, quite reasonable.
conforms to mathematically oriented models at least
won't say proves) that this formal relation exists. Granted
can't be seen, but it does allow prediction of physical
Nature acts in conformance with mathematical principles. Where
evidence it acts according to the principle God - this the
scientist should ask. After all, this is the habit of mind of
scientist to form such questions. Or, perhaps to put it
what predicted observation would permit the logical inference
Even so, such a
response has not really
appreciated the problem as I have been trying to state it. All
the ideas of
science are first and foremost mental phenomena.They
appear in mind as a product of mind, not in sensible nature. I
see gravity or even light. I see falling objects and colors. I
the law of gravity and the existence of light from these
and, if I am a scientist, I make rigorous my observations
experimentation and precise instrumentation. But natural
the big bang are in each case mental creations, they proceed
act of thinking, not from sense perceptible nature.
What this means
to me is that if I am
going to prefer one kind of mental phenomena over another
idea of accident in the creation of life versus the idea of
I'd better be clear as to why I have such a preference. Yet,
can make such choices, I need to understand mind, to
understand the act
which makes such a choice. But to understand mind don't I
first need to
understand understanding, to think about thinking?
reader this may seem to be running backward in time. Modern
philosophy (linguistic analysis), from Quine to Ayer to
no longer thinking about thinking, at least in the way someone
Fichte or some other 19th century German philosopher
problem. For the lay person the question might be put this
way. How can
I look to current work in linguistic analysis, in
cognitive psychology, in order to build up my idea of mind,
systems are already products of mind? Is not the cart before
Don't I first have to have clearly
before me what
thinking is to my own experience of it, before I apply it in
I have mind directly before me. What might I understand if I
investigate the nature of my own experience first?
This is a
crucial point. If we were to
examine each of these disciplines we would find some idea of
either being assumed or derived from the particular work. In
very explicit statements are being made about what thinking
is, how it
is caused, how it proceeds, what its potential is and so
forth. Yet, it
is thinking which is producing these ideas. How might such
investigations evolve if first it was clearly before the
what thinking was to his own experience?
There are other
reasons for making such a
question the foundational step. Earlier in this century, the
physicist/novelist C.P. Snow pointed out the existence of two
the cultures of science and of literature (or the humanities).
cultures did not speak the same language and did not consider
problems. Moreover the scientists seemed to believe that only
method produced objective truth, and that the humanities only
subjective truths. Alan Bloom (in his The
of the American Mind) observed how
the distribution of assets in the modern university reveals
domination of the sciences today, at least to governments and
businesses, who provide most of the funds for research. When
last time a President convened a panel of poets to help him
problem? (This is not to say that this is a bad idea by the
suspect in many instances our poets and troubadours would give
wiser advice). My own view is that Snow did not go far enough,
his being a scientist/novelist makes this limitation
There are, I believe, three cultures (or three constituent
Culture): a culture of science or Reason, a culture of
Imagination and a culture of religion or Devotion. Reason,
and Devotion are related to the older ideas of Truth, Beauty
Goodness, in that the former are human capacities of the soul
latter are the outer expressions of those capacities. Reason
truth, Imagination engenders beauty, and Devotion engenders
In reality this
is a complex
relationship. On a certain level, or from a particular
soul capacities are also capable of being called powers. The
poet S.T. Coleridge called imagination the "esemplastic power" and felt it was not just an aspect of human
consciousness, but was a force of Nature as well. Reason, for
could be called Truth, as that appears in the soul as a hunger
then a question, and finally an answer. Reason is then a
process which is intimately connect to Truth. In a way they
mirror of each other.
for both Snow and Bloom is
that they have no practical depth experience at devotion; they
really understand it or appreciate its role in their own soul,
the world. Most Christian contemplatives are cloistered and
encouraged to either prove their claims (in fact they make no
or to exhibit works. Certainly no science curriculum, and few
humanities curriculums teach the works of St. John of the
Cross, or St.
Teresa of Avila. Our secular age is filled with writings and
who believe religion is superstition, but who have never
tested it on
its own terms. When Christ Jesus says "No one comes to the
except by me." it doesn't seem to
people that knowledge of God might depend upon method just as
science does. Perhaps the reason the scientist doesn't find
creation is because he looked in the wrong place. God being
(spiritual), perhaps God can only be observed (known) by the
in man. Perhaps only to mind in a pure state is the
I have written
briefly here of reason,
imagination and devotion because I wanted us to remember that
(soul/spirit) produces much else besides technical wonders. So
when we think about thinking we will remember all the kinds of
which flow from mind and appreciate that skill and effort are
involved in the discovery of truth as in the creation of
beauty or in
traveling on the stony path to goodness. Moreover, there seems
evidence that our greatest geniuses are often active in such a
combines these qualities. Are not the true scientists and
devoted to their calling? Einstein was mathematical, musical
faithful. Michael Faraday, who was the founding theoretician
electrical and magnetic phenomena, was a man of special
devotion. Teilhard de Chardin is a very obvious case in point,
is Goethe, whose scientific work was impeccable, although
under appreciated. Here is what Roger Penrose, a major thinker
problem of mind and science, had to say in his The
New Mind, pp. 421, Oxford
University Press, 1989:
"It seems clear to me
that the importance of aesthetic
criteria applies not only to the instantaneous judgments of
inspiration, but also to the much more frequent judgments we
the time in mathematical (or scientific work) Rigorous
usually the last step! Before that, one has to make many
for these, aesthetic convictions are enormously important..."
And here is
Karl Popper, whose work on
scientific method sets the standard (for many at least), in
and the Aim of Science, pp. 8, Rowan
"...I think that there
is only one way to science - or to
philosophy, for that matter: to meet a problem, to see its
to fall in love with it;...".
Or as we might
add to Mr. Popper's
thought: "...to meet a problem (reason), to see its beauty
(imagination) and to fall in love with it (devotion);..."
I'd like now to
introduce the ideas of
Thomas Taylor, as expressed in the introduction to his early
century book: The
Theoretic Arithmetic of the Pythagoreans. He
observes there an interesting fact and draws from it an
conclusion. He starts by deploring the increasing emphasis in
on the practical side of mathematics instead of the
i.e. teaching math only with the idea of enabling people to be
accountants or engineers. The theoretic side has special
characteristics for Taylor, which should not be lost to the
education. In Nature, says Taylor, we do not find the perfect
the straight line. All the beautiful (or elegant in modern
parlance) characteristics of mathematics arise not from the
contemplation of Nature, which is imperfect, but rather are
the soul which thereby reveals its perfection.
Or to restate
Taylor's observation in our
terms: mind (soul/spirit) in showing its capacity to think the
the perfect, the elegant, the beautiful, as that appears in
mathematics, reveals its own nature. Mind could not produce
of these ideas except as that reflects the quality of its own
condition. Yet, we know that the brain is a physical organ,
and is no
less imperfect that any other aspect of material nature. How
this electrochemical machine come to the ideas which are
its own structure? While you might say that God is an
therefore some kind of mental dream or hallucination, I don't
can get very far arguing the same way about the circle, or
geometric, and algebraic formulations without making a
of the scientific and technological achievements which depend
observation, which I make my own
as well, is simply this. What the human being produces,
soul capacities of reason, imagination and devotion, namely
beauty and goodness, necessarily reveals that the human spirit
possesses a reality clearly transcendent of a mere brain bound
background then I would like to
return to the question of what is thinking, and what the
answer to that
question can reveal for us about the nature of mind. I don't
answer this question here in the way it must ultimately be
written work ever convinces, even scientific papers. The
make his own investigation and draw his own conclusions. This
fundamentally what truly constitutes proof, even in science.
obligation to reason is to state clearly my conclusions and
observations and to explain adequately my methodology in order
another can test my results. My reader's obligation is to
carry out the instructions, otherwise there can be no
validation or invalidation. This will not be easy, and few
try for the truth is that years of effort have gone into the
understanding I presently have of mind. In fact it is not the
this essay to establish or prove the idea of mind that might
be held by
a fully modern and scientifically rigorous Christian
rather to expose it, to make it known, and to do so in a way
accepts as authentic and justifiable the scientific
reproducibility. That the effort at replication may well be
will power of those who agree or disagree is a situation over
have no control.
This is not a
cop out, by the way. That
it takes years of study and development to be able to
"Hilbert space", in no way lessens its mathematical truth.
we have to be able to paint the Mona Lisa in order to
beauty? So, as well, we can marvel at the goodness of the idea
as a moral/spiritual act, even though we may lack the ability
completely engender in practice a full understanding of such a
On the other
hand, and if we are willing,
we can learn fundamental mathematical and scientific truths,
just having faith in the scientist's teachings. We can, as
up artistic activity and discover our own creative potential;
certainly we might devote ourselves to prayer and
thinking in order that we learn to encounter the threshold
visible and moral (invisible) worlds.
For my own
purposes I now want to put
aside (for the most part) the word mind and use instead just
soul and spirit. These two words are to mean no more and no
what the reader experiences in his own inner life. Such a
called introspection or looking within. It is a most ancient
discipline; the meaning of the Greek admonition: "Know thyself
does not mean, by the way, to know ones subjective individual
traits as is often thought, but rather to discover the
human nature as they appear inside our own being. On
Emerson made a cogent observation in his lecture, The
Scholar: "For the instinct is
that prompts him to tell his brother what he thinks. He
learns that in going down into the secrets of his own mind he
descended into the secrets of all minds..."
Earlier in this
century there was briefly
a psychological "school" which sought to discover truths about
psyche (soul) through introspection, but this work did not
headway, did not seem to contribute scientifically. and was
Its flaw was to pretend there was no tradition, no previous
of inner life, of psyche (soul) which might offer some
insight into the problems involved. This pretense is
that invariably those disciplines which actually know
practical about inner life are spiritual disciplines and the
trend of scientific thought has been to view spiritual ideas
Earth, Cosmos and Man, as mere superstition. It is no wonder
when science seeks to investigate inner life, its
assumptions and preconceptions become an impediment to the
just those facts sought after.
consciousness, which includes sense experience (sight,
taste and smell etc.), varying degrees of well being (health,
and illness), thoughts, dreams, feelings, impulses of will,
sympathies, antipathies, and so forth. Our language is full of
variety of words for different inner experiences, or states of
consciousness, and these usages can often be very instructive.
example, why do we call someone "bright" or speak of "flashes
insight" or draw cartoons in which having a "bright idea" is
by a light bulb going on over someone's head? We do this
instinctively know that certain kinds of thought activity
are accompanied by phenomena of inner light. This is not light
by the physical eye, but light experienced by the "mind's
individual human spirit.
In our ordinary
state of soul
(consciousness) this experience is not paid attention to
because we are
focused outwardly on the problem, whose solution the "flash of
represents. Moreover, the activity by which we produce the
lies below the level of consciousness. It is unconscious. Now
is that within many spiritual disciplines exists the knowledge
this unconscious activity can be made conscious, the inner eye
strengthened and intuitions can be produced more or less at
so, not all spiritual disciplines are the same, have the same
view, or the same purposes. It becomes necessary then to say a
words about this, in particular the differences between
Christian depth meditation practices, the principle paths of
and Western forms of spiritual life.
enjoys a certain
ascendancy in America.
"The Buddhist movement
has become a regional phenomenon.
It is pervasive. And it is quietly transforming our North
culture. This is the golden age of Buddhism. Right here. Right
now. " (Don Morreale, quoted in
Masters of the Universe,
Pamela Weintraub, Omni, March 1990.)
example, the book by William
Irwin Thompson, Imaginary
Landscape. This is a book straining
realize ideas about man and the world by combining reason,
and devotion. Thompson is a cultural historian fascinated with
cutting edge of the new sciences such as chaos research and
science.Thompson has clearly been influenced by Buddhism
the Tibetan Llama Choygam Trungpa), and this reveals itself in
ethereally vague, almost ungrounded character of Thompson's
you were to follow reading Thompson's book by reading Speakers
Meaning by Owen Barfield, who is a
the Western spiritual teacher, Rudolf Steiner, the different
the style of meditation and related practices on the thinking
two writers is clear. There is a mystery here concerning the
meditation styles on cultural life.
I do not say
this because I am opposed to
Buddhism as a spiritual path, but rather as an observer of
the ebbs and flows in the dynamics of a civilization's
existence. Years ago I had a profound experience of Buddhism,
I am ever thankful, yet I believe there must arise an effort
part of the leaders of both Western and Eastern cultural life
together, in mutually supportive ways. There is, I believe,
the mysteries behind both Christianity and Buddhism, a higher
which ought to sought for; all the while remaining mindful of
different effects on the soul life of the individual which are
the different practices, and the natural consequences these
in the life of a culture. Just like political leaders,
spiritual leaders owe the individual certain responsibilities.
of Buddhist and Christian
inner disciplines toward the act of thinking is quite
reader who begins to take an objective look at his inner life,
soul (which includes all that appears inwardly, both conscious
unconscious), will find that there is an actor, a self, an
this we refer when we think or say "I". Buddhist meditation
view that this "I" is the cause of suffering, the cause of
difficulties and that it (the "I") needs to be abandoned,
disappear into an experience of self merged and lost within
meditation sees the "I" as the
point of creation, as the image of God, which can be redeemed
fallen nature, so as to produce the mysterious and paradoxical
but Christ in me."
The Buddhist leaves the act of thinking, the "I"'s spiritual activity, to take its own course, believing that this activity only produces illusions. Christian meditation sees the act of thinking as capable of being metamorphosed, altered through discipline, into a new organ of perception, an organ which can then perceive deeper into the mysteries of creation.
believe this is an
inconsequential matter, just consider the following as
reported in the
Boston Globe newspaper in December of 1990. The story reveals
Carthusian priest, a monk in a Catholic contemplative order,
completed seven years training in the meditation practices of
Buddhism. This priest, Rev. Denys Rackley, is quoted as
need...is practical knowledge...of preparing the mind for the
experience, something almost entirely unknown in the West." It is understandable why he believes this, but
not true. The depth meditative practices with Christian
are not unknown, but one does have to look for them in the
then look to the East.
Father Denys is
also quoted as saying: "...as long as you're
functioning at the level of the rational thinking mind, you're
really into the heart of the spiritual life".
This is the Buddhist view, but one of the purposes of this
essay is to
suggest that thinking can in fact lead to direct spiritual
And that for the Christian, to abandon his cognitive
capacities in the
manner of Eastern meditative practices is to miss developing "Not I, but Christ in
consideration hardly exhausts
what would be a proper examination of these differences, nor
deal with the complex and difficult relation between modern
Christianity and the current theological beliefs of many
churches. I did feel it necessary, however, to note briefly
themes as part of giving as rounded out a picture of mind
(soul/spirit), as that exists for the modern, scientifically
Christian meditative practitioner.
The reader may
then consider the soul to
be all that appears before him inwardly as his consciousness,
as well sense experience. While we feel, and have been taught,
sense experience is caused by outer nature, the actual
these so-called stimuli occurs within the soul or conscious
For example, if one whose normal environment is urban were to
transported suddenly to a grand vista of nature they would
the soul's expansive movement deeper into the senses. Normally
life the soul withdraws as far as possible from its sense
which are so chaotic and immoderate. We tend to hear, see,
taste, feel (as in touch) with less sensitivity while we lead
existence. The opposite is also true. If an urban dweller, who
spent a month or so in raw nature were to suddenly return to
Manhattan, they would experience a sudden contraction of the
rapid withdrawal from the senses, and a constriction of the
(so as to breathe less deeply the toxic air).
as well that which exists
in the unconscious, and which manifests over time, such as
character, temperament and other like phenomena. Within the
soul, within the totality of psychic life, the "I" or spirit
the experiencer, the actor, and the creative or initiating
remember that this way of
describing soul life comes from the process of active
introspection. It does not try to infer from outer perception
as do the
sciences, but seeks to objectify the direct experiences of the
of his own self. Just as science then points to technological
to validate its views, so can these practices point to
effects in the inner life brought about by the disciplined
the "I" through self development exercises, such as
meditation, contemplation and prayer. I would like to put
model here, just as science does, but in this case I want it
clear it is only a device by which to convey an idea, a mental
representation of a real process, which can be known, but
be described by the concepts we are used to.
Imagine if you
will that you are holding
a "stick" between the palms of your hands. If you move your
in such a way as to push the "stick", your right hand will
well. Move the right hand and the "stick" will push the left.
is the idea I want to suggest for the brain-mind relationship,
body/soul/spirit relationship. Brain chemistry can cause
consciousness, but as well the "I", the spirit, can cause
brain chemistry. In Mind
Matters, Grazzanica, having already
brain to a mechanism, then says paradoxically: "A thought can change
chemistry, just as a physical event in the brain can change a
thought". My question for Grazzanica
is: what does he think
causes the thought which changes the brain chemistry?
If I ingest
substances, food or chemical,
I alter my state of soul, of consciousness. There is no
fact that brain chemistry effects states of mind (soul).
opposite is also true. My active spirit can also effect states
and in some circumstances brain and body chemistry as well
capacities of Jack Schwartz who is able to control consciously
of so-called involuntary bodily processes including blood
Moreover, any conscious physical movement is initiated by my
which first imagines it. Ordinarily we are not aware of how
will brings about this physical movement. The "stick", as it
hidden deep in the unconscious.
With regard to
the act of thinking,
however, the whole activity lies within the reach of my self
spirit. Thinking takes place in the conscious parts of the
with training one can become aware of and be active in the
experience thinking as an
inner dialog, a flow of words. This talking to ourselves
(don't we say,
"I can't hear myself think") is the end product of unconscious
processes. In this instance it is the spirit which initiates
wording and the soul which hears. This act of thinking (which
unconscious ) produces thoughts or trains of thought (the flow
words) of which we are conscious. The training disciplines of
specific spiritual practice can, stage by stage, uncover and
to experience, and will activity, what remains otherwise
hidden in the
I will now
describe some of the
consequences of such a discipline in terms of capacities and
experiences. This is not meant to be exhaustive, only
we will discuss certain books which have much more to offer in
line, books which I have used (tested) myself. The stream of
can be brought to a halt. The act of thinking can then be
focused on a
single concept. The discovery here is that concept and word
different experiences. This is another crucial matter, but its
difficulty for the reader's understanding is that it cannot be
words. It is completely a function of experience.
we think of concept and
idea as the same as the word which we experience in our inner
The true experience of the concept is beyond language. It can
ultimately be experienced in a way analogous to that in which
object is experienced. The difference is that I am in an
of consciousness, which can be described as "sense free". Only
mind's eye, my spiritual eye, does the concept appear.
Moreover, as an
experience it is more vivid, more intense, than sense
touches, as it were, my whole soul, filling the soul with
with image, sound, tactility, engagement (I am pulled toward
seems to rush toward me). In addition the experience can only
sustained if my "I" is active in a certain way. In the face of
experience I can be passive. In the face of the supra-sensible
experience of the pure concept, I must remain active inwardly.
in his The
Emperor's New Mind relates how as a
mathematician (recall what had been said previously about
by Taylor) he is beginning to think mathematical truths have
independent existence. "...I cannot help feeling that, with
mathematics the case
for believing in some kind of ethereal, eternal existence, at
the more profound mathematical concepts, is a good deal
stronger..." (pp. 97). Mathematical
thinking is a very concentrated
activity, is good practice for meditation and contemplation
easily evolve into the contemplation of the pure concept.
When we think,
then, in the ordinary way
(stream of words), our unconscious thought-creative activity
the realm of the pure concept, but our conscious awareness is
the words which fall out, as it were, like autumn leaves blown
the living tree of our mind.
As with mathematics, so with music. Consider the poetic intuition out of the imagination of the writer Kim Stanley Robinson in his novel: The Memory of Whiteness:
"A music leads the
mind through the starry night and the
brain must expand to contain the flight like a tree growing
the speed of light."
Thinking cannot only focus on the single concept, it may also suspend itself just before the act which produces the awareness of the concept. Thinking can take up a question, but not proceed all the way to an answer. We can live in the question, in a condition of heightened anticipation. A great deal can be learned from appreciating the qualitative difference of the "I"'s activities of "focus" and "question".
Up to now
little has been said here of
the Christian nature of such practices. Consider then that the
Christian contemplative's practice is to think in a
focused way ever and ever again on the Being of God. If
begun to suspect that mathematics is derived from an
something that is "there
already", are we to be surprised
contemplative finds God as an experience in his consciousness
and as a consequence (in part, we will have to avoid
things with the problem of Grace) of the activity of his
(spirit)? Prayer is another form of question, and by
question and focus, or prayer and contemplation, the
proceeds in an exact, disciplined and rigorous fashion.
The summa of my
own investigations (which
is not by any means to be considered more than the work of a
is the discipline of sacrifice of thoughts. I have found it
important to learn to give up any tendency to fixed ideas.
Always it is
necessary to approach the situation ignorant, to sacrifice all
the poor in spirit. " is the
Only in a condition of humility, of not knowing, can I come to
subtle, more intimate inner experiences. One of my favorite
calls sacrifice of thoughts: "...learning to think on your knees...".
This leads us
to the consideration of the
core problem, that of morality and conscience.
today think of education and
character development as having to do with pouring something
otherwise empty soul. To my experience this is mistaken.
Rather it is
always a question of development, of unfolding. A human being
True morality then involves the development of a capacity, and
merely a matter of instruction. You can get people to conform,
morality comes from the inside out and is not a response to
expectations of right behavior. (This appears to be a new
mankind. Previously, in human development, morality, to a
was set for the individual by the outside social structure,
codes of behavior, traditions, and other socially enforced
introspection of the act of
thinking will discover that the outcome of thinking is
affected by the moral intention of the thinker. Just as the
thinking needs to be made conscious, so the moral intention
to the object (or the why) of the thinking needs to be fully
If, for example, I am a business man looking for a solution to
certain problem, the answers I get will vary according to the
intention. Ultimately the practitioner of such thinking will
come to an
appreciation of the activity of conscience within his own soul
This is a
special experience. The "voice"
of conscience needs to be carefully distinguished from the
subjectively incorporated authority figures. The conscience,
example, never endlessly nags us, does not make us feel
Conscience is the experience of the higher element of our
is normally in the unconscious. In the awakening and the
conscience we begin to develop within us this higher element
Paul calls: "Not I, but Christ.in me."). The conscience does
pain, "pricks of conscience", because it forces us to
true moral consequences of our actions. The truth hurts and
of conscience reminds us of the truth. The conscience,
us, which is why it makes us conscious of the truth, but does
to destroy our self image or impair our self esteem.
Now just as one
can evoke certain kinds
of inner experiences through various types of thinking
can one evoke the voice of conscience and thereby come to
knowledge. This understanding of the life of the soul and the
of the spirit, this part of the idea of mind, involves the
inner discrimination; and, since it places morality within the
individual knowledge, it represents a threat to authoritarian
organizations, religious or otherwise. No one, who eventually
this fine discrimination, will ever assert to another that
a more perfect moral knowledge. Each individual must make his
This does not
mean that morality is
subjective, or that it is relative and changeable. The problem
subtle and more complicated. The
is an organ of knowledge - of
understanding the true moral qualities underlying human
individuals with the same choices, the same life questions to
if they strive for the same depth of understanding, they will
the same knowledge of what is right. However, the reality is
life, two individuals seldom have to face the same choice. Our
are very individual, regardless of superficial similarities.
to be weighed and balanced is unlikely to be the same. So when
individual problem is presented to the organ of conscience, we
get an individual result.
This can be
very confusing. In part the
confusion is due to our usually thinking of morality as a set
immutable principles, and the teaching of most religious
quite definite rules and codes. For example, to many murder
abortion are absolutely prohibited. In these instances, to
the above seems to suggest, that the individual has some kind
choice, is to appear to go against these most obvious and
moral restrictions. Such thinking, however, misses the point.
First we should
remember that most of us,
in many situations, do not follow the indications of our
the extent we become aware of them. Conscience gives us
choose to act, or not, upon that knowledge. That we often
ignore conscience in no way takes away the power of conscience
what is moral. Secondly, what is often forgotten, is that one
most common ways we ignore conscience is in judging other
people. If we
put to conscience whether we should judge another's morality,
answer do you think conscience will give? "He who is without
him cast the first stone.".
In the process
of coming to this
understanding of the role of conscience, or moral intention,
consequences of these acts upon the activity of thinking, we
to a practical understanding of many of the lessons of the
teachings of Christ Jesus, in that they have a practical
effect, in that they concern matters of "mind", conform
exactly to all
that has been said above. In spite of what religious dogma
this knowledge, which is derived from the direct experience of
Christian meditant,and which is also representative of a
such meditation practitioners, in no way conflicts with true
implications flow from this idea of mind.
We might ask the question: where is the "there"
there" is? When the mathematician
proposes that mathematical ideas are "already there", where is
"there"? Inside the physical space of my skull? This is our
thought, but does that "habit" have to be true?
It will help to
consider a parallel
problem/question. Which comes first in evolution/creation,
matter? We assume matter, or at least such is the fundamental
assumption current in science today. The basic belief is that
point in evolution the complexity of the nervous system
reaches a point
where consciousness arises and ultimately what we know as mind
(soul/spirit to the Christian meditative experience). We have
of this. It really hasn't even been seriously investigated, if
be investigated at all. That mind arises spontaneously, out of
accidental physical condition, is an axiom (unproven
many mainstream scientists.
Such a supposed
event, lying as it does
in the distant past, cannot even be the subject of an
any other direct observation. This alleged event must be
from what? The fossil record only gives us bones, hardened
The soft tissues are always dissolved. And as to the thoughts?
We do have a
picture of stages of
development, one that we have been indoctrinated in from our
years in school: single cell plant, to multi-cell, to
vertebrate, to mammal, to man. We have an idea of mind
solely reason, and therefore connect mind and tool making.
itself is an inference. Are we justified in building inference
inference. The fact that the majority of scientists believe
this to be
the case is of no moment whatsoever. We don't vote facts into
existence, and at the very least the history of science itself
not an unbroken advance, but rather a series of "beliefs", a
substitutions of ideas often quite at odds with each other
Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions).
Is there any
reason for inferring the
opposite? Is there something which suggests mind preceded
matter? As a
matter of fact there is. The discipline of philology, the
language as developed by the mind (soul/spirit) of Owen
reveals that what we call thinking was experienced by
ancient peoples as outside them. The whole way they used
their references to muses and to genii, shows that they
thoughts as coming into them from the outside. (c.£ Owen
Barfield's Speaker's Meaning, also his Poetic
English Words, and Saving
Appearances: a Study in Idolatry).
investigations, which represent deeply profound and scientific
of the history of meaning and the meaning of history, suggest
unequivocally that modern assumptions regarding the nature of
consciousness, both historical and prehistorical, must
rethought; and if that is done, the inferred idea of matter
mind in evolution will be replaced with its opposite, that
prior. Moreover, this philological research shows that mind
(soul/spirit) has over the course of history (that is the
man's evolution for which we have records) only just finished
period of contraction; thinking, having first been outside the
entelechy, is now inside.
This is not the
place in which to give a
full recapitulation of the relevant trains of thought
Barfield makes, nor to go into the supporting evidence that
found in the field of art history (c.f. Art
Human Consciousness, Gottfried
Anthroposophic Press, 1985). Rather I wanted to point out the
and as well to point to work which finds a satisfactory
is the "there" where one finds ideas already? It is in the
of Mind (Soul/Spirit) which encompasses all of Nature (sense
perceptible as well as supra-sensible), to which our
"I", has access through its own disciplined inner activity.
Just as it
is quite unreasonable to expect the imperfect to conceive the
(the material brain to imagine the immaterial and elegant
projective geometry), so it is non-reason to assume that mind
(soul/spirit) is not born out of its own likeness. Matter
given birth to consciousness, to thinking, or to certain moral
knowledge (conscience). Our inwardness (soul/spirit) can only
progeny of the Universe's Inwardness.
How do I know
this? Because I have
explored my own inwardness, and found there much more than I
lead to assume was "there" by the scientifically oriented
my youth. It has become a matter of experience, an empiricism
inwardness. In fact, such is the nature of this experience
idea of mind as solely a product of brain electro-chemistry
sustained. Moreover, there is a community of practitioners
replicates (repeats) this experience, the whole activity being
conducted with the rigor and discipline justifiably required
I would like to
remind the reader, as we
draw this exploration to a close, that the intention has never
prove an opposite idea of the mind/brain nexus to that one
held in science, but rather to give as clear as possible a
the idea of mind which can be held by a Christian meditation
practitioner. Further, to do this in a way which at least
reader the opportunity of testing for him or herself the truth
believe it will be most
healthy for our culture and our civilization, if what is
the powers of reason, be supplemented by the faculties of
and devotion, as well. What is offered then, in this theme, is
disagreement with present day mind sciences, but rather an
extend them, to evolve them by adding to their considerations
be discovered about the nature of mind from a disciplined
which proceeds from the inside, from what appears to our
experience of mind.
We need to
remember that these questions
are fundamental to the future course of our civilization. It
crucial, both for the health of our social order, and the
attribute to our existence, that we have a true idea of human
Our culture is deeply psychologically split, in a quite
by the confused idea we have of human nature which raises
the capacities of Imagination and Devotion, and which makes
scientific knowledge the only truth worth considering. This is
prejudice which grants an illegitimate power to what is really
often only another belief system.
In the hospital
where I worked for over
seven years, powerful drugs are routinely administered to
without sufficient consideration for these individuals
or needs. That their "depression" might instead by caused by a
crisis with moral and self definitional (spiritual meaning)
is not really considered. At the same time, just down the
hall, in the
chemical dependency units, where the alcoholics anonymous
practiced, meetings frequently end with the Lord's Prayer, and
spiritual self transformation is considered an absolute
order to deal with the relevant problems.
What a picture
this gives us of the deep
inconsistencies that exist in our culture!
We can do no
better than to begin to end
our considerations of this theme with these remarks by a
(individual) in whom reason, imagination and devotion were
in the soul in a remarkable balance. From Emerson's essay Nature: "Nature
the incarnation of a thought, and turns to a thought again, as
becomes water and gas. The world is mind precipitated, and the
essence is forever escaping again into the state of free
remarkable intuitive powers,
Emerson sees to the heart of what we have been attempting to
Contrary to the assumptions of the scientific age, namely,
is no correlation between human thought and the world, the
is a product of Thought, and the human being, in that he or
has directly before him, in the experience of his own mind,
but rudimentary, capacity. We were Thought into being, and we
preceding, I attempted to show how
one could begin that exploration which will validate, in a
scientifically acceptable way, the proposition that human
and the act of thinking are not the product of material
happenings in a
physical brain, but the products of acts of soul and spirit.
critics of such an idea will be willing to struggle with the
work of replication, I cannot say. At the same time I will
without such an effort, any argument to the contrary need not
listened to or heeded.
For those who
will wish to take this
challenge seriously, I recommend the following two books: The
of Freedom, Rudolf Steiner,
Anthroposophical Press; and Meditations
the Tarot: a journey into Christian Hemeticism,
author anonymous, Amity House.
The Quiet Suffering of
"And while they were
Jesus took bread, and blessing it, he broke and gave it to
said, "Take; this is my body." And taking a cup and giving
gave it to them, and they all drank of it; and he said to them
my blood of the new covenant, which is being shed for many..." Mark 14: 22-23
Where is humanity without the Earth? Without air, water or food we die. What then is the true name of that extraordinary Earth-Being whose nature it is to sacrifice Itself for us, and in whose own living substance we are nurtured from birth until death?
For many people
today, within the
environmental movement and without, the treatment of the
Earth, by much
of humanity, is understood to be a terrible tragedy. The
the rain forest, the over fishing of the oceans, the casual
of toxic wastes, the continuation of atomic testing - the list
almost endless of the crimes committed against the natural
not coincidentally, also against humanity. A central thesis of
concerned is that these excessive activities are unnecessary;
carry them out have alternatives. Yet, if we honestly look at
being done, and especially at the conceptual context in which
deeds are carried out, in most cases we will have to admit,
the point of view of the apparent destroyers, their acts are
The truth is that the conflict is over what these acts mean,
the acts themselves.
Most of the
time those, who seem to be
abusing the natural environment, are acting in pursuit of
interest. They are business people, whose obligation to their
stockholders is to maximize profits. If they don't act, they
jobs, their livelihood and all that that implies. For example,
and tree lovers collide over national forest policy. One wants
in order to continue an existence already set on a certain
other wants to preserve out of an
appreciation of what will be lost when it all
is gone. In an odd kind of way both are conservationists. One
conserve and existing way of life,
the other, a
rapidly disappearing kind of life. Both are
expectable moral and human responses to a situation where no
is possible, because the contexts of meaning, in which the
viewed, are opposed. Each, given the quite different
which life is pursued, acts forthrightly. At the human level
This is not to
say that there are not
individuals and/or companies who act immorally or criminally,
what they want in defiance of convention or good sense. But
aberrations are the exception. For the most part, the conflict
environmental policies owes its existence to opposing life
world conceptions, and not to any intrinsic or objective truth
what is right and what is wrong. Both sides, being human, can
is something missing.
While one can understand the human elements, how each view is
appropriate to its adherents, there is something that is not
understood. Nature is not understood, because neither side
the natural world the same effort at understanding they could
It is the
thesis of this essay that the
environmental movement, for all its passion and good
simply not radical enough in its understanding of the natural
Concepts, like ecology and preservation and save this and save
are impotent before the truth of Nature. What Nature truly is,
beyond such an incomplete idea as "save the rain forest".
Nature is more
than a physical living
environment which we find necessary for our survival as just
species. In solemn and sacred truth, Nature has consciousness
being. As a consequence, the environmental movement will only
do that which is needed, in the face of the terrible tragedy
the natural world, when those who would lead it realize that
they wish to save is filled with just as much will and
intention as a
human being, and is just as much deserving of being treated
personal dignity and respect. Environmentalists need to find a
of approaching Nature; namely to come to Nature as someone,
something. The only relationship which will be effective for
the quite worthy goals of the environmental movement, is the
relationship of I and thou. For there is an immense unasked
Nature want? And no human being has
right to impose their personal point of view over that of
We must again
learn to approach Nature as
someone with whom one can communicate, and who is better able
us about what to do than we can imagine. We need to begin to
how trapped we are in the confines of the lifeless and
mental images (conceptions) provided by the one-sided
education of Western culture. Even the Indians, the
original peoples still living within the bosom of Nature, have
for the most part, that intimate connection and conversation
the Spirit of the Natural world is perceived, appreciated,
and listened to. What is left, namely tradition, although
wonderful in its wise conception of the Earth as our Mother,
conscious being, this tradition is itself inadequate for the
which need to be done.
consciousness, this being
of Nature is not singular, is not simple. The being of Nature
multiple and complicated, diverse and specialized. What has
conveyed to us out of the deep past is not superstition.
tales of the elemental beings, of undines and gnomes and
sprites, all this seemingly legendary material owes its
the fact that in the past human beings did in fact experience
directly the world of the spirit, the world which lies
separated from humankind by a kind of veil. And recognition of
Nature beings is just a beginning, for the world of the spirit
quite beyond that realm of mere earthly Nature, but to cosmic
Even so, this
bold assertion of the
consciousness and being of Nature in itself is insufficient.
of this essay is entitled to more. It becomes necessary, then,
explore not only the sterile quality of the conceptions of the
world provided us by the processes of Western science, but
suggest the means by which these ideas can be overcome and a
communion with the Spirit of Nature reestablished.
should be cautioned that in
this single essay there will no proof of what is asserted.
Such a task
would be impossible. What can be done, however, is to show
it is that science came to such a narrow view of the natural
what personalities resisted this process, and how then that
matured so that today one can find once again a way toward an
conversation with Nature. There is already existing much work
Nature by those who have begun this difficult and much needed
this essay will endeavor to
show that the conceptions of modern science have failed to
way to the truth of the natural world, this is not to be seen
criticism of that science. In the main, scientists follow
rigorously and with great diligence a path of seeking which
chance of leading them to the truth. Science stands upon an
moral foundation when it says: anyone who asserts the truth of
must be able to show others that means necessary for them to
truth for themselves. Experiments must be reproducible.
It is also necessary to be brief, so to the extent the reader may wish for more the author at once apologizes. Many books will be referred to, however, which if read and appreciated will more than satisfy the questing human spirit.
We all will
perhaps remember from school,
at least somewhat, what has been called the "Copernican
the early struggles of science against the doctrines of the
Church. This often resulted in various practitioners of the
discipline called natural philosophy (eventually to be called
being excommunicated, and in some instances burned at the
heretics. We may think we are past this now, but anyone with
an ear for
these things is aware that even today those who espouse views
sufficiently outside main-stream science (the Church of our
rebuked by their peers, shunned in the communities of their
specialization, and at risk for having their funding, i.e.
livelihood, taken away. Some of these "arguments" are more
"cold fusion", creationism vs. Darwinism and so forth. Less
to the general public is what can happen to someone who looks
the spirit in nature, or otherwise seems to think that some
"superstitions" may have been based upon the truth.
beginnings of science the
problematic philosophic problems were more out in the open.
the materialistic ideas won the day, theirs are the views in
histories of science in which the ordinary person is educated.
politics and war, so in science; the winners write the
Several of the "romantics" and the "transcendentalists" had
problems with the course science was taking. The poet Goethe
vigorous opponent of Newtonian optics. The poet Coleridge had
different approach to early biology. Emerson wrote in his
thought incarnate, and turns to a thought again as ice becomes
and gas. The world is mind precipitated, and the volatile
forever escaping again into the state of free thought." Kepler, who gave us the fundamental laws of
dynamics was also an astrologer, and warned repeatedly about
of "throwing out the baby with the bath water", i.e.
whole-sale all the hard won wisdom of the previous ages in the
make everything "scientific". One could go on...Ruskin,
Faraday, the list is long of those who opposed a completely
view of Nature.
excellent examination of the whole
flow introduced into scientific thinking with the idea of
Nature as a
mechanism, and related problems, the reader of this essay
acquainted with Evolution
and the New Gnosis: Anti-establishment
Knowledge, Science, Religion and Causal Logic,
Don Cruse, with Robert Zimmer. See also Cruse's website.
thing to realize here, is
that, as this "war" over what was the true picture of Nature
was in its
beginning stages, there were few "pure" scientists. That
remembered mainly as a poet is true only because the winners
histories. He was in fact an extraordinary scientist, as
realize who studies his Theory of Color. That Kepler and
Faraday had a
lot more to say than what is taught in school today is a
Faraday gave us the fundamental laws of electricity and
he did so in the context of observations which lead him to
that a distinction between "ponderables" and "imponderables"
i.e. between matter and spirit, was essential. Both were
view won the day. The "why"
of this is not simple, and cannot be found in the idea that
true and one was false. We can perhaps get a slight feel for
underlying dynamics by realizing that at the time when all
happening, the whole of Europe was emerging from a world view
by the ideas of the Roman Church. Thus, for many, to strive
spirit-free view of nature was to also strive for freedom from
longer desired authority which had for centuries been telling
what was true and what was not. To find spirit in Nature would
been to grant power back to an institution many were violently
struggling to leave behind.
scientists were led in
directions that were determined by the yet unknown nature of
discovered. Ultimately, with the discovery of electricity,
understandably following carefully the trail as it appeared
them, were led rapidly into what one author has called "a
is not ours". As part of this process a concept concerning
arose, which was very different from the way past ages looked
problem of causation. This new concept of force was abstract,
completely divorced from any idea of being
or consciousness. No longer were the happenings in the natural
product of the activity of beings, the
product of intended
activity. Thus more and more the possibility, that Nature may
spiritual foundation, disappeared.
For a wonderful examination of the times in which this "battle" was being waged, read Neal Stephenson's three books collected titled: the Baroque Cycle (Quicksilver; the Confusion; and, the System of the World). For a remarkable historical imagination of these issues, read in the System of the World, the chapter Library of Leicester House.
For a deeper
and more modern examination
of these problems, read Owen Barfield's fascinating book: Worlds
Apart. Barfield creates
imagined three day conversation in this book, involving what
describes as: a solicitor with philological interests; a
historical theology and ethics; a young man employed at a
station; a professor of physical science; a retired
linguistic philosopher, and a psychiatrist. What the
reveals is that even these modern men, educated in our
where the scientific paradigm is dominate, can't actually talk
other. The fundamental concepts of each individual
discipline can't be brought together.
think that the argument
between the creationists and the neo-Darwinian biologists over
theory of evolution, is the real battleground between an
of reality over whether there is spirit, or only matter.
The folks involved in this argument don't even
know the history of ideas that is relevant to their discussion
of what they say is useless and completely superficial.
If one wants to
get into the heart of the
question of matter versus spirit, the collective genius of
and Barfield is the best path. Only those who work
history of ideas can speak to these questions, for the current
our understanding of these questions has deep roots that need
included if we are ever to resolve these matters and remain
and devoted to the truth.
As everyone is
aware, it is pretty much
assumed today that older conceptions of Nature are purely
superstitious; that a Nature with being and consciousness is
impossibility. With the arrival of DNA research and genetic
engineering, the difficult problems in biology are believed to
mostly solved, and few new conceptions are needed. Physicists
act as if the mind of modern man has little problem forming
concepts of events billions of years in the past. Zoologists
Darwinian evolution as a settled matter, and resent deeply the
struggles of the "creationists" to suggest otherwise.
Neuro-physiologists are convinced that the secrets of the mind
shortly to be theirs. While the clockwork is complicated,
clearly a mechanism, made up of very small parts acting in
understandable ways leading from a remote "big bang" through a
period of evolution to the arrival of life, and ultimately
consciousness (mind). Unfortunately, they've probably got it
It would be
possible to make an argument
about this "wrongness" solely from the history of science
Thomas Kuhn's The
Structure of Scientific Revolutions,
established that science, rather then being a carefully built
structure, erected on a sure foundation, is instead a
points of view, the newest one substituting for the preceding,
then being built out of it. Science is somewhat like a rat in
convinced at every point it has solved the puzzle only to
another dead end which has to be abandoned. Based merely on
one would have to assume that what is believed to be true now
these great questions (what is life and consciousness, where
come from, how did the universe begin) will, in its own time,
false and replaced by other views.
Or to take
another tack, one could argue
that most of what is said, about these big questions (does
consciousness or mind, and which comes first in evolution,
matter), by modern day science, is itself pseudo-science, i.e.
form of superstition, because the theories are not testable.
this regard, Karl Popper's Realism
and the Aim of Science; Darwin
Trial, Phillip E. Johnson, (Regnery
1991); and, also, Natural
Selection, and the Criteria by which a Theory is Judged, by Ronald H. Brady, Systematic Zoology,
1979 (now called Dogma and
Doubt, it can be found on-line at:
last is the best by far, for it is deeply informed on the
the relevant ideas, and is carefully and subtly thought out.
While the above discussion has been unnecessarily brief, it should have hints enough so that the reader wanting more can find his own way. It remains then to find some process by which these questions can be answered in ways which satisfies our human desire for testable and reliable truths. What can be said about this, as briefly as possible, will be related next.
We can perhaps
begin by asking what kind
of an approach to the spirit would be necessary, what pathway
finding out the truth about Nature and Spirit, will meet the
reasonable demands of science for reproducibility and
testability. In a
sense we need a science of the spirit, or perhaps to put it
way, a spiritual science.
Those who know
the foundations of science
are aware that science stands basically upon two touchstones,
a philosophical point of view, which at one time was called
positivism, and the other being mathematics, which provides a
discipline to the practice of science which is very
beneficial. So we
can anticipate as well that our spiritual science needs a testable philosophic basis (the
the Sciences), and a reproducible mathematical structure (the
the Sciences), or perhaps better said, skeleton.
Another aspect of modern science which supports its reliability is the technology which proceeds from it. This suggests then that our spiritual science will have to show some results, will need to have produced observable effects, somehow people will have to have been able to take from this spiritual science and acted upon and changed the world.
Well, that is
quite a lot, and I believe
enough. We should now, perhaps, cut this spiritual science a little slack, and not expect some
things. We ought to allow it to be different in certain ways,
that is exactly what it has to be given the basic assumptions.
Certainly we can't expect it to be widely known or popular;
mainstream science has to have been constantly resistant to
Therefore, we ought to allow it to be young. How could it be
or wouldn't we already know of it?
have to allow for some
controversy, after all the ideas it produces will be different
mainstream. As well, we should not expect to understand it
nor expect that we will come to the necessary understanding
some, in fact perhaps, a great deal of effort. After all we
educated into the mainstream. We think those ideas
most of our words take their meaning from this quite dominate
thinking about the natural world. Let us take a sample
problem, and see
if it can help us better appreciate what a spiritual science
how it will be different and the kinds of struggles necessary
understanding what it might be able to communicate to us about
natural world. With this problem, by the way, I am not
attempting to do
something definitive, but rather to use it to give us a more
sense of what such a science needs to be, and how it might be
the moment the idea of
space. When we think this idea on a very large scale we
of the great universe of stars; and, having been influenced by
television and films we will have an image of movement between
as if we were a star-ship traveling at light speed across the
spaces. While the "spacial" world is three dimensional, and
endless, for the modern physicist, there are certain problems.
there "empty space" before the "big bang", before matter
its supposed birth point and exploded into the evolving
universe? Or to
put it another way, was space itself "created"?
For all of
humanities history, up until
the last four or five hundred years, very different ideas of
space existed. To the naked eye the starry heaven is a
vista; a place we cannot go, a place of mystery whose rhythms
movements seemed to announce great and small events in the
peoples and kingdoms. Our ancestors did not have the idea of
three dimensional openness; for them the heavens were the
abode of the
Gods. But the early natural philosophers thought otherwise,
the new tools, first the telescope, and then later the
the computer, and so on almost endlessly, the old vision was
The theory of parallax gave us distance, red shift gave us
the universe was expanding and enormous. And we? We were small
insignificant. The Earth as the Center of the Universe?
Who would dare
doubt this? To suggest
otherwise, to some, would be evidence of an unstable mind. To
that this endless emptiness might have consciousness and being...get a life,
go see a psychiatrist.
to bring bad news...but...
First off, most of astronomical-physics, or what is sometimes
cosmology, is not testable by the ordinary means we have and
in geology or zoology. We can't go to the nearest star and see
if it is
in fact made up the way spectrometry suggests. We can't go
such a way that confirms whether the distance we develop from
is accurate, nor can we go off to the side, so to speak, and
some other way the velocity to confirm what we think the red
Our methods are
limited. What certainty
of belief there is comes in large part from the fact that each
been rigorously examined by many scientists, and carefully
over and over again, and whenever possible each part was
worked upon in
such a way that it could, if possible, be used as a double
against any other part. If it isn't true, it isn't because our
efforts haven't been spent working it out. If it isn't true
because we missed something, or haven't yet discovered
maybe assumed something was a certainty that will later turn
out not to
The point to
note is this: our idea of
space, even to the extent developed by modern cosmology, does
speculation (although as sound as humanly possible) and
can't be confirmed directly, but which have to be inferred.
a better one?
At this point
we should perhaps examine a
particular aspect of this discussion a little more closely. By
large for the ordinary person, that cosmic space is a three
endlessness is an idea, or better yet an imagination created
education and further developed through the experience of
television. We don't have a direct personal experience of this
fact. Our whole culture believes it. We are raised to think
In this, it
(the idea) bears an odd
relationship to an older idea, that of the flat earth. For the
consciousness of the time in which people believed in a flat
was an obvious fact. The earth was observably flat. Yet the
when people became convinced the earth was round, and thus a
belief was taught and became part of the general cultural
of what was real. Only after this did humanity receive the
seeing from space the beautiful blue-white globe of the world.
Now what we are
trying to notice here is
not the particular fact of the three dimensionality of cosmic
but rather that we know it as an idea, as part of the general
imagination of the world's reality. We do not know it as an
but rather as one part of a very complex system of ideas in
are indoctrinated through education. This complex of ideas, of
large parts are believed to be absolutely true, constitutes
educated humanity a new myth. Just like the ancients, whose
now call superstitions, we have our world view, our socially
indoctrinated concepts of what the world is, how it is
fundamental principles caused it to be, and how those
it to behave in the present. The most comprehensive name for
is scientific materialism, and even though many scientists
the limitations of their work and ideas, for the ordinary
ideas are reality.
To say that the
modern scientist is
similar to the old priests of the ancients is not to overstate
case. For the ordinary person the protocols and methodologies
science are a protected mystery. Only after long preparation
education is one admitted to the sanctuaries of modern science
co-worker. And there are secrets, things kept hidden from the
public. For example, Darwinian evolution (i.e. natural
selection) is in
serious trouble, but the "priests" don't want the creationists
it. The physicists studying quantum theory are beginning to
word "intention" in describing the quantum behavior of certain
small "particles". No one should be surprised if scientific
is slowly coming apart, because as long as the scientist is
his pursuit of the truth he is bound to discover the role of
Nature. It's there and thus it must be eventually found.
will now have sufficient
preparation to look at what exists today of another point of
another "imagination" of the world that again finds mystery in
processes of the natural world. Again, this caution. At best
essay can do is expose this approach to the natural world to
reader. Its fundamental works can be cited, its relationship
general trends of science noted, and its basic ideas and
briefly referred to. Beyond that one cannot go. It remains for
reader to investigate this ongoing work with an unprejudiced
eye and an
open mind, for its is a certainty that nothing new will be
if one already knows the questions and the answers.
I am going to
approach the following more
in the form of a narrative story then as an expository essay.
personality lived and did this, this other personality did
pictures conveyed will necessarily only be partial. Our
problem is not
unlike that of the five blind wise men who chanced to meet an
One, who touched the tail, thought of it as like a twig. The
touched the ear, believed it was a large leaf. To the one, who
the leg, it was a tree, to the one, who touched the side, it
was a rock
and to the, one who touched the trunk, it was a...well I can't
all the story, but I think you get the point. If you draw
conclusions from this article you will not get the
otherwise might if you instead investigate carefully and
I would also
like to add a special
contextual fact, one of which many in the environmental
have some awareness. Many today look to aboriginal peoples for
example of a healthy relationship to the natural world. Among
peoples are a number of prophecies, and I would like to direct
attention of the reader to a particular one: that of the Hopi
of America's Southwest. Part of the Hopi Prophecy is an
that there will arrive someday among them someone or some
they call the Pahana, or the True White Brother. This
group is to bring purification, to inaugurate the Day of
and to provide the "life plan for the future".
of conscious knowledge of
the being of nature, as that has occurred over the course of
history, is also the descent of a kind of darkness. It should
e no one, who bothers to think carefully about it, that the return of such an understanding, a kind of broad social enlightenment, must necessarily be accompanied by an extended, and cultural-wide rite of passage - quite aptly named by the Hopi: the Day of Purification.". Without going into the very complicated details, I would like to suggest that the following will eventually be understood to be part of the fulfillment of this ancient prophecy.
In 1861, while
the American Civil War was
just beginning, in Kraljevec, a village on the border between
and Croatia, a man by the name of Rudolf Steiner was born. By
he had died in 1925, he had laid securely the foundations for
spiritual science we have imagined must need to exist, if we
find our way again to the being of Nature. Among the several
biographies of Dr. Steiner can be found this one, written by
Shepard: Scientist of the Invisible, Rudolf Steiner, a biography. To those who know and clearly understand his
is a most apt title.
We can get an
early measure of Steiner's
genius by noting that at the age of 23, he was invited to edit
write the introduction to Goethe's scientific writings. For
those of us
raised in the cultural West, it is difficult to realize what a
remarkable honor this was, because Goethe has not the same
for us that he has for Central European culture. During the
this work, Steiner realized that Goethe's views of nature
a philosophical position quite different from that of main
science, and one which Goethe himself had never articulated.
therefore undertook to remedy this situation and produced in
remarkable philosophic text: A Theory
of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World Conception.
In 1894, in a
more formal way, and also
fully cognizant of the philosophical ideas and temper of the
Steiner produced a deeper philosophic text, which was an
his own personal work and not just the elaboration of
in Goethe's scientific books and papers. Called The
of Spiritual Activity, it also
carried the intriguing subtitle, "some results of
observation following the methods of natural science".
expressed in these two books it
would be quite impossible to even summarize. In one sense they
the same fundamental question: how do we know what is true?
difference, between modern philosophy and Steiner's, may be
painted this way: For the mainstream, the activity of human
consciousness, of the mind, is subjective in nature and, in
with our senses, is not a reliable way to the truth of the
Steiner, as for Goethe, the opposite is true. The human being
designed that our senses, when properly trained, can give us
Natures secrets as long as the mind is disciplined as well.
human being is of nature, and what appears inwardly to a properly
human thinking is the essence of Nature Herself. Here are
words from Theory of Knowledge:
"It is really the
genuine, and indeed the truest, form of
Nature, which comes to manifestation in the human mind,
whereas for a
mere sense-being only Nature's external aspect would exist.
plays here a role of world significance. It is the conclusion
of a work
of creation. What takes place in human consciousness is the
interpretation of Nature to itself. Thought is the last member
series of processes whereby Nature is formed."
question, these books pose
and proceed to answer in a quite empirical way, is: what do we
human thought? The approach, while expository, if read
reveals that the reader is challenged at each step to observe
own mind those universal processes leading to the production
thoughts, so that by an empiricism of thinking, and
thinking, the human being finds that in the activity of
stands upon the threshold to a yet unknown world. An internal
which once stood in darkness, and which went on without any
given to its nature or meaning, now begins to unfold new
When this is pursued fully one comes to realize that the inside of the human
being is a thing much greater and
significant than the outside of things as these appear to the senses.
Let us try to
work with an analogy.
Imagine opening up the hood of an automobile. There before one
mass of complicated wires, hoses, machines and other strange
unknown devices. That is for most of us. For the master
view is something else altogether. We both see the same thing,
ideas we bring to what we see are quite different. The master
mechanic's understanding and experience allows him to identify
relationships where to most of us there would just be chaos.
reality and significance of those man made objects is not in
appears to the senses at all. Only to the mind does the
It was Goethe's
insight to realize that
something similar was true of our relationship to Nature. With
very significant difference. Man made objects are created
our intentions; we give them purpose. This can itself be
what is the purpose of a flower; who is to teach us that?
Over many years
of work Goethe came to
realize that one could trust the senses if one did not add
what was observed. Rather one observed all the manifestations
object of study (for example the world of plants), until one
recreate in ones own imagination the observed processes. For
over the course of its birth from seed to its flowering end, a
will produce a variety of types of leaves. The early ones
different from the last. What Goethe did was to recreate in
imagination this process of movement, from the earliest form
leaf to the latest. (This is very much an oversimplification
work, by the way.) Over time, Goethe began to experience
which seemed to stand behind the transformations from one form
to the next, but which did not arise from his own activity. In
his mind became a sense organ into another realm. Through the
discipline of his thought life, and the devotion to what came
through the senses, Goethe began to experience inwardly what
the Ur-Plant, the spiritual Archetype from which all plants
In a like
manner Goethe examined the
animal kingdom in addition to the kingdom of the plants. He
way of working there to be successful as well. He called his
activity: "learning to read in the Book
of Nature". What Nature presents to
senses, if appreciated in a disciplined way, "spoke".
so, the history of science passed this work by, and other ways
thinking became the established methodology.
then for Rudolf Steiner to
rescue this overlooked work and restore it to its deserved
place in the
history of human thought. As a consequence of Steiner's
has come to be born: Goethean Science. Its practitioners are
the number of its published works also small. But in their own
these works offer the beginning of a whole new way of
and teaching, about Nature. And when Goethean Science is put
relationship with Steiner's more mature work, Spiritual
means to commune with Nature emerges as well.
Let us at this
point simply become aware
of a few of the published works of Goethean Science. Many
the various versions of the Whole Earth Catalog will be aware
book: Sensitive Chaos,
Creation of Flowing
Forms in Water & Air), by
Schwenk, Anthroposophic Press. Here, with beautiful text,
drawings, some of the basic laws by which form arises in
uncovered, simply through the careful exploration of how water
move. I will say no more here, for those who genuinely want to
investigate Goethean Science will trouble themselves to become
acquainted with its basic works.
About the realm
of the animals can be
found this: Man and Mammals, Toward a Biology of Form,
by Wolfgang Schad, Waldorf Press. Here is expressed one
of the most profound ideas, first put forward by Steiner, yet
consistent with Goethe's studies, about the relationship
function and form which appears everywhere as a threefoldness,
remarkable law of organization of both the organic and the
according to laws of polarity.
With the idea
of polarity we brush up
against one of the things we noted above as a precondition for
yet spiritual, science, namely an appropriate mathematics. The
Science movement and its more spiritually complex relative,
Anthroposophical Movement, have produced many works exploring
remarkable form of mathematics called Projective Geometry.
just a few of the available texts: Physical
Ethereal Spaces, George Adams,
Steiner Press. Projective
Geometry, Creative Polarities in Space and Time,
Whicher, Rudolf Steiner Press. The Plant Between Sun and
George Adams and Olive Whicher, Rudolf Steiner Press. The
of Form, Lawrence Edwards, Floris
With these and
other related texts, as
well as with the two philosophic texts of Steiner noted above,
science stands upon all the necessary foundation it needs, as
indicated earlier - that is an appropriate mathematics and
For those who
legitimately may need to
understand how main-stream science took the path it did, and
be done about it, there is: Man or
Matter, Ernst Lehrs, Anthroposophic
The description, in the Anthroposophic Press Catalog about
reads as follows: "Now
classic, this is the fundamental text for those seeking a
understanding of nature on the basis of Goethe's method of
observation and thought. Working out of a detailed history of
Lehrs reveals to the reader not only how science has been
lead to the illusions it holds today, but more importantly,
reader may correct in himself these misconceptions brought
world view through modern education."
It remains for
us then to link up
Goethean Science, and Rudolf Steiner's Anthroposophy, or
Science. This, however, is not so simple, for in really
spiritual we run also into the religious, which for many is
grave difficulty or a profound and untouchable belief. If we
carefully, we can nevertheless walk through this potential
without too much harm. Hopefully these guidelines will help.
It is not the
intention of this essay to
argue for or against any religious belief, including, broadly
agnosticism or atheism. The point is to remain true to the
of modern science which require reproducible experiments and
hypotheses. However, when we approach the spiritual we have to
realistic about what is involved in "reproducing" and
"testing". In the
realm of the spirit such matters are more difficult because in
part they require of the individual a far greater effort and
self-mastery than ordinary experimental science.
analogy. If I were to
attempt to reproduce current work in particle physics, in a
way, I would need access to the appropriate devices
(regardless of how
complex and costly). Further I would need an appropriate
familiarity with the current work and theories. These are all
So it is with research in the realm of the spirit. One needs
the techniques of the inner capacities and to have mastery of
ongoing work. Thus, to attempt to dispute or criticize
science without such effort is to defy the scientific spirit
age, and to make a mockery of reasonable human discourse.
needed understanding in mind
let us begin to enter more deeply into the realms of a modern
not mentioned so far, and,
in the view of many, certainly Steiner's peer in the science
invisible (spiritual research), is one Valentin Tomberg. In
remarkable lectures published under the title: The
Sacrifices of Christ and the Appearance of Christ in the
Etheric, (Candeur Manuscripts),
given in Rotterdam in the turn
of the year 1938 to 1939, we can find the following:
"You see, the
transition from all that is most prosaic
produced by the nineteenth century to what the future holds is
by the spiritual manifestation of Goetheanism - Goetheanism
fact, a bridge on which the transition can be made from the
quantitative thinking of the nineteenth century to a
characterizing thinking. Now, where this transition leads is
Spiritual Science. Here it is not only a matter of being able
qualitatively, but of placing the moral element in the
the foreground. And by way of comparison, one could say that
Goetheanism is related to Anthroposophy, to Spiritual Science,
same way as the organic world is related to the soul world.
calls for qualitative thinking; the soul world, for the
readers, right at this point
there will be a difficulty. Having used the word "moral" at
encounter all kinds of preconceptions about what that means.
is anything which seems to lie outside of the realm of the
of the objective, it would be the question of what is moral.
interestingly enough, there are some who think there can be an
However, in the
understanding of Steiner
and Tomberg and their many students, the core need of modern
is freedom. And not just political liberty, but more
freedom in thought, freedom of spirit. Steiner's The
of Spiritual Activity is sometimes
called The Philosophy of Freedom, the
problem being how to translate from the German, Die
Freiheit. One translator invented a new English word to stand
Freiheit: namely Freehood, which is obviously very clumsy and
unattractive. My poet-self leans toward a freer translation,
Philosophy of Free
The key to this
problem lies in a general
confusion of our time regarding human inner life and the role
conscience. An objective introspection of human consciousness
realize that there is an equally objective experience which is
"voice of conscience". Just as the darkness, which inhibits us
truly understanding the production of our own thoughts, can be
so can the darkness which makes dim the "voice of conscience"
eliminated. "Conscience" is an aspect of our spirit, and it is
higher element of our nature which knows what in any given
means to be moral. This places morality outside the realm of
dogma or rules or anything other then our own higher judgment.
Steiner's The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity calls this part
potential: ethical individualism. Morality then becomes as
much an act
of freedom as any other.
There can be
difficulties here. Freedom,
Steiner pointed out, is something different from license. Of
can do anything, but whether we should or not is a whole other
question. In the past the problem has been who is to make the
of what we should or should not do. In Goetheanism and in
Science, it is the individual himself who makes that judgment.
the gift of "conscience" we have a capacity for certain moral
knowledge. The difficulty is whether we pay attention or not,
whether we can know what is moral or not. Conscience can be
often is. But that is a whole other issue.
discussion will have
helped some regarding the confusion that can arise when one
that with Goetheanism we leave behind quantitative thinking
qualitative thinking, and that with Spiritual Science we go
moral thinking. In each case it is a question of what is to be
object of our search for knowledge. With quantitative thinking
a mastery of the material-mechanical aspects of existence,
civilizations technological successes. With qualitative
gain a mastery of the living aspects of existence and with
thinking we gain a master of the invisible aspects, the
aspects of soul
and spirit. In each case we can have an "objective" knowledge,
we chose a method appropriate to the purpose we pursued, and
acted in a disciplined way, so that our investigations
"empirical", reproducible and testable.
It is then with
Spiritual Science that we
enter on that path that can lead to a real knowledge of the
consciousness of Nature, to a communion with that which lies
veil of the sense world. From one point of view, anthroposophy
spiritual science, as founded by Steiner, has two main themes.
first theme is how to attain knowledge of what aboriginal
call the world of the invisibles. The second theme is the
that research. In the literature of both Goetheanism and
science one finds both these themes well elaborated. Yet, when
criticism of these disciplines is presented, it is usually
ignoring the how and arguing instead with the what, the
is rather easy, because the results very often contradict what
already thought by the main streams of both science and
A good way to
appreciate this problem is
to imagine that what is being experienced today, by the
these disciplines, Goetheanism and spiritual science, is the
thought of the future making its first beginning appearances
present. Think what it would have been like to have been a
of Galileo. What he taught directly contradicted the views of
Think what it is like to change our habits, say ways of
speaking, for example. For most of Galileo's contemporaries to
their habits of thought is impossible. And not just because
habits, but also because of the social pressure. The habits of
of thinking and the social dynamic which supports them are
powerful forces. No one, therefore, should expect these new
disciplines, Goetheanism and spiritual science, to overcome
version of this mental and social inertia very easily.
are made all the more
complex by the fact that even within those groups which
spiritual science (such as the Anthroposophical Society) in an
to learn it, there is not a uniform approach. The groups which
and practice these new disciplines are made up of human beings
there are many difficulties, disagreements and confusions. I
all out, so that those, who might choose to investigate more
these disciplines, will approach Goetheanism and spiritual
a certain carefulness.
If what has
been written so far,
especially as regards the possibility of learning to commune
spiritual realities behind the natural world, has meant
the reader, then I will close with these words of guidance.
Be methodical and patient. Face the challenge of the philosophical problem contained in the books mentioned concerning it. Do not fear encountering the mathematical aspect, projective geometry. It is usually presented in ways far easier then we can imagine - not by abstract algebraic formulation, but through drawing and visualization. At the same time become acquainted with the practitioners, the people carrying out the various fruits of this work. Remember what was said regarding the need for a new science, a spiritual science, to have produced results, just as materialistic main-stream science has? Have you heard of Waldorf Schools, biodynamic agriculture, Camphill Communities, Eurythmy, anthroposophical medicine, curative education, the Christian Community, astrosophy, psychosophy, rhythmic massage, Werbeck singing, anthroposophical nursing?
past Goetheanism. That
way leads to an illness. Thinking must go through a
from the quantitative, to the qualitative and then to the
moral. It is
a process of inner metamorphosis. Each stage is essential. The
spiritual science, which stands upon the philosophic work and
mathematical work. Out of this disciplining of the thought
can be grown a disciplining of the sense life, the life of
obstacles. The moral thinking
depends upon that moral training which only arises from the
live, the immediate moral challenges of our own personal
There is nothing abstract here. It is all too painfully real.
Do not become
confused by and in love
solely with the results of spiritual research. It is much more
important to master the how. With the how we are then free to
just what we will think about. If we become too involved in
the results, it is possible to become captured by the rich
world there unveiled, and then to lose sight of the necessity
all concepts our own work product. Those, who encounter the
Anthroposophical Society in their search, will meet many who
fallen into this error. Remember, the only ground on which we
as a free spiritual being in the world of the material and the
immaterial is those qualities of being that arise from The Philosophy of
The purpose of
this essay has been to
introduce a question into the environmental movement (What
Nature want?). The secondary purpose
been to point out an ongoing work which is laying the
(Goetheanism and spiritual science) for answering just that
a foundation which does not require the abandoning of the
science. To those who may wish to travel this path, I add
will not travel it alone. Many there are who seek to reunite
and the Cross. See The Mystery of the True White Brother, on my website.
Then, as a free
spirit among other
spirits we will come to that communion with Nature, which we
desire, a silent Eucharist of the Invisible.
This essay was
written over 10 years ago,
and I have become since that time more clear as to certain
distinctions, that I did not know at the time I wrote the
Today, I can still stand behind the above, but would (if
to rewrite it today) emphasize even more clearly the role and
importance of Steiner's The
Philosophy of Freedom. It is
mystery of the new cognition (see the essay In Joyous Celebration
Soul Art and Music of Discipleship
appendix to this book), that Anthroposophy finds its truly
has been much public
discussion about the problem of a possible right to die,
called assisted suicide or euthanasia. This small essay is not
to those issues, at least directly. Others have examined these
questions much better than this writer, who does not consider
has anything to add.
is always a "however".
In all these
discussions, I have read
almost nothing about death itself. The fundamental questions
were about rights, or mental health, or the role of physicians
lawyers or legislators, and, of course, about suffering. Yet,
seems to be willing to consider just what death is.
What is being
avoided? What is being
embraced? If people are to be assisted, toward what end?
The failure to examine death is understandable. We have no real knowledge of death, although many beliefs. Even so, to my mind at least, there are facts which can be assembled, and, as is the nature of facts, there are implications. I offer here no argument, no attempt to come to definite conclusions - just facts and their natural consequences.
core, of the first set of
facts I would point to, was suggested to me in an unusual work
(anonymously written), called Meditations
Tarot: a Journey into Christian Hermeticism.
These facts are nothing more than basic simple physics.
When a person
dies, respiration stops and
blood flow ends. Under these circumstances metabolism ceases,
body loses heat (which is just reabsorbed into the general
thermal mixture of the surrounding environment). If we take
the body of
the deceased out into nature, as certain native peoples do,
these natural processes to continue, the body will eventually
except for the bones which may be eaten.
activity of microbes and
insects (excluding in this instance those animals that are
eaters) that aspect of physical existence which we call the
de-constituted and its smallest parts redistributed throughout
various cycles of nature.
Nothing has ceased to exist -
to be. Due to the operation of the laws of conservation of
energy, all that has disappeared is form; that is the
arrangement and interrelationship of matter and energy, which
recognize as the human body.
difficulty comes when we
consider that aspect of the human being we call consciousness,
particularly consciousness of self.
changes form and continues.
The energy changes form and continues. It seems most likely,
these uncontroverted facts, that self consciousness also
form and continues.
aside for the moment, let us
take up another thread. The essence of these next observations
suggested to me in the works of the largely unknown genius,
Steiner. Again it is a matter of simple known facts.
organism contains a number of
different kinds of organs and arrangements of matter and
such a living organism, the most common sub-division is the
which there are certain various types. One type, the nerve
exhibits unusual properties.
properties arise when we
examine nerve cells in association, that is in those organs
call nerve bundles, which stream throughout the body and which
concentrate in one large center (the brain) and two smaller
(the spine and the solar plexus).
other cell types, which are
organized in various ways throughout the body, nerve cells do
repair themselves when damaged. A severed spinal cord will not
itself, while a severed muscle sheath or a blood vessel will.
There is a
second difference. Our
consciousness is only associated with the "nervous system". If
correct nerve bundles to a limb are cut, sensation (i.e.
to the limb ceases.
What is even stranger is the fact that some nerve bundles are necessary for movement, that is conscious directed action, but can be destroyed (as in polio) while sensation remains.
What is implied
by these facts?
that whatever life
is, in a general sense, it is not of the same order or kind as
consciousness. That is, when the cell/organ complex is capable
repair, which is certainly a process filled with life,
same complex excludes consciousness. While on the other hand,
the life processes of the organism are reduced (i.e. the
for repair is no longer present) then, and only then, does
There are two
other generally reported
phenomena, which, while anomalous and anecdotal, conform to
The first is
the so-called "phantom limb"
pain. The matter and energy arrangement, which had been the
limb, is completely dissolved, but consciousness, to some
The second is
the many and remarkably
consistent "near death" experiences, which accompany temporary
and respiratory failure.
There are, of
explanations put forward regarding these two oddities. If you
carefully, they are all essentially arguments directed at an
conclusion, and are not an examination of the natural
We have so far
noticed that consistency
requires a law of conservation of consciousness to accompany
matter and energy. In addition, we have observed that first life
must withdraw to a significant degree before consciousness
we extend this last fact in its natural direction, the
that if life recedes even further, even more consciousness
arise. Death, then, rather then being the extinguishing of
consciousness, would actually mean its complete expansion, no
being inhibited by the effort at maintaining life.
last is, of course, what all deep spiritual (enlightenment and
initiation) systems teach.
To the above
two general considerations I
would like to add one more, for which I will have to take
responsibility; at least in the sense of being the only one I
who has observed certain well known facts and yet assessed
The facts are
moment of birth, the mother
and the child suffer and labor. After birth the physical pain,
trauma, has not disappeared, yet when the baby, now cleaned
given to the mother and first put to the breast, powerful
(states of consciousness) cover over the pain with feelings of
exceptions of course, but, by
and large, these are uncontroverted facts concerning the door
In the case of
death there is, as well,
labor and suffering. Death is often work of an extraordinary
only reason we do not know, that on the other side of the
death there is also joy and contentment, is because this
outside our ability to observe.
Now one thing
Nature certainly reveals is
its tendencies to symmetry, balance and harmonious order
Given these clear facts, it seems to me that the much more
the sense of the absence of reason) view is to assert that
consciousness does not survive the death of the body.
This being the
case, it is not so
surprising that all the great religions and myths conceive of
life. Rather what is surprising is that many advocates of reason do not.
reader may wonder what side
this material may fall on in the current controversies around
suffering of the disabled and dying as that relates to
I can only
answer in a personal way,
quite mindful of the many women who take days to deliver, days
and labor, and who resort to drugs to mask this suffering;
well, the work of suffering which precedes death, and the
desire to be relieved of it when it has gone on for what seems
such a long period of time.
I only hope,
when confronted with the
suffering accompanying my own demise, to comport myself in a
as to be worthy of the joy and comfort I expect to find beyond
of death. I already know I don't do well with pain, and I have
desire to be a martyr, but I can't help feel that the labor
suffering which accompanies the end of life has just as much
and significance as that which accompanies its beginning. The labor preceding
into death is worth enduring, because, like the labor
gate into birth, it has a purpose.
a small meditation on the spiritual path
pioneered by Ralph Waldo Emerson,
including a report of some practical applications
delivered on the occasion of Emerson's 200 birthday,
May 25th, 2003, at the Alcott School of Philosophy
I am not a
scholar of Emerson, and have
read only a small part of his works. Yet, what I have
made clear to me that for the last 30 years I have walked in a
which he walked before me. We are forced, mostly by the
limits of language, to use such words as soul and spirit and
to point toward this land, but none of these words serve as
more than a
mere hint of this world, so different in nature and kind from
we know through our senses.
I first became
aware of this inner
landscape through the discipline of psychology in the early
Berkeley California. Shortly after my initial
with what was literally a magical territory, I studied
multitude of various maps to this land, most of them
traditional in one
way or another - such as Zen Buddhism, Sufism, Tibetan
magic path of Franz Bardon, the remarkable teaching stories of
Plains Indians, coming eventually to the work of a man named
Steiner, the founder of what is called Anthroposophy or
It was through
Rudolf Steiner that I was
introduced to an objective study of thinking, principally
works on epistemology. I very much needed this
work, because my main interest at that time, and since, has
trying to understand the nature of the social and political
of humanity, particularly in relationship to our divine
It was already by then clear to me through experience
that we are
spiritual beings, living in a material world, and it was
me to understand society in relationship to this and yet
the scientific spirit of the age. Rudolf Steiner set
the means to do this, particularly in what he called the
this sense is a kind of
training of observation and thinking, and has some
relationship to what
others call phenomenology. What is done is that thinking
within the appearances, rather than to invent theories or
behind them. For Nature, this disciplined thinking
remarkable understanding. What I tried to do was to
this same discipline into an examination of the social and
I approached the basic phenomena of our shared existence
as if in
how it simply was - without adding or subtracting anything -
reality was all that I needed to know.
This work was
not easily done by the way,
although much was obvious right from the beginning. It
years to bring to thinking and observing our social existence
needed discipline, and to eliminate from my own inner life,
of prejudice and assumption that frequently stood like a dark
between my thinking-observation and the phenomena of social
I was also aware that I kept adjusting what I was doing in directions away from Steiner's work and what I knew of Goethe. I felt comfortable in these adjustments, particularly since I would find confirmation in the improved results of my research. Nonetheless, I made changes away from what I thought of as pure Anthroposophy and Goetheanism.
Let me also be
honest in another way, for
this work was produced in many fits and starts. I
an academic, but a family man. I worked at whatever jobs
find, for example, for the last three years I worked in a
the ten years before that a mental hospital. I mostly
children and lived life with all the successes and failures
Now I have had
the great fortune for the
last 16 years to become a friend of Stuart Weeks, and through
find a connection to the Transcendentalists, particularly
At the same time these last 16 years have not been
the bookish kind, so I didn't read a lot of Emerson. I
worked at developing my thinking and my observational skills,
gathering what might be called all the basic facts and
discovered over time that it was
important to love the object of ones thinking. I don't
this to become overly sympathetic, but rather to have an
willed into the thinking such that we care and honor and trust
matters which we want to understand. In this way the
the object of our interest, and our own essence, these
essences draw nearer to each other.
This meant, for
example, that I watch a
lot of television, and a lot of movies, and partake of all
be called American Culture with a kind of relish.
Culture isn't representative of the whole of human social and
existences, but it was the nearest at hand, and I drank deeply
nature. You might say that I read this Culture in much
way one learns to read a book. And, of course, watching
television and going to movies wasn't all that I did - its
example of where the intention to love can lead someone.
Now to return to Emerson for a moment, before going on to some of the results of my own work. A couple of years ago I read for the first time his The American Scholar lecture. This was really a wonderful experience, for in this lecture I saw, not only a reflection of Emerson's path to inner discovery, but what was essentially an exact description of my own path. All those ways, in which I had instinctively adjusted what had been initially work that emulated Steiner and Goethe, were here described by Emerson.
Now this is, at
first blush, a curious
thing. Not having studied Emerson, how did I come to
he had gone before. Well, the explanation is simply
We both read the same instructional text, which is not
in the world, but inside ourselves, within our own inner life.
And because we are both Americans, we share something,
Peoples are not the same all over the world, but have inner
of no little import.
So when Emerson writes, as he did in The American Scholar, that: "In self trust all virtues are comprehended", I knew this because I had been there and done that. And when he says in his essay Intellect: "You have first an instinct, then an opinion, then knowledge, as the plant has root, bud and fruit. Trust the instinct though you can render no reason. It is vain to hurry it. By trusting to the end it shall ripen into truth and you shall know what you believe." This too I understood, for it was where I had walked.
recall that I said above: "This
work was not easily done by the way, although much was obvious
the beginning." Here you see was my instinct, things I
right in the beginning, but to fully realize them I had to
keep at it
for a long time, to let it ripen inside, until there it
finally was -
Now I'd like to
speak of my research into
the social and political. By the way, there is no
more than hinting at this work, so that if you want details
you should just do a Google search for my name and this will
to my websites.
aspect of social and
political existence is not in the stream of events, what we
call history such as the recent war or the current political
in America, but rather in the individual biography. The
individual biography is the rooted axis around which all else
because it is only the experiences acquired by the "I am",
life path, that endures.
All the rest
passes away over time -
governments, social ideals, legal systems, religions, even
paths, but the "I am" or spirit endures and during its
acquires those transforming experiences that become an aspect
Our social life
does have a great deal of
order to it, however, but this order comes to it from within
biography outward. Our social existence is fully
by the individual and common elements of our human nature, not
the way a piece of just melted wax receives an impression from
ring. Our nature is expressed onto the social organism,
all its essential qualities. This means that we learn as
from the study of ourselves as we learn from the study of the
notice that I just used the
term organism, for that which we ordinarily speak of as social
existence and form, that is civilizations, kinds of
of communities, the nature of families, these are all aspects
whole which is quite alive. How could it be otherwise,
all the component parts, are individual living human beings?
It is possible
then, through a
disciplined thinking and observation, to learn to see with the
thinking, how it is that life processes move though our shared
existence, giving us all the dynamic life conditions, and
more, that we
know from biology, such as birth and death, growth,
reproduction, and even metamorphosis. We discover how to
this by learning to move the thinking in a way that it
inwardly how it is that social form changes over time.
just look at any social condition in its static present state,
to learn to think it in terms of its own biography. For
the family has changed considerably since the 14th Century and
whole of these subtle developing changes have to be thought,
they unfolded in time.
Not just that,
but we also have to think
any particular stream of changes in such a way that we don't
out of its context. To continue the example, families
embedded in communities, which in turn are embedded in
themselves are embedded in languages and cultures, while the
ultimately is embedded in something we call Civilizations.
major work, by the way, a book not yet finished, is called: Strange
the Death, and the Resurrection, of Modern Civilization. [no longer the case as of 2006 ed.]
Once we can see
this, then we know that
part of the difficulty of understanding our own Age, is due to
that we are within a metamorphosis-like social crisis wherein
Civilization is passing away, and something is being created
replace it. It is almost impossibly difficult to
something like this when we are so intimately connected to it
unfolds. Yet, if we want to forge a more human future,
the very matter we need most to understand.
Part of our
problem is that we can't,
using the scientific thinking of our Time, take hold of the
because this scientific thinking has limited itself to the
and the sensible. The living, whether it is a simple
organism, or, to put a crude name to it, the Life Sphere of
Organism, these can't be thought on the basis of what is
and allows itself to be calculated.
impulses of social existence,
fear of death, joy in life, - all the virtues and the vices
inhabit human beings - these are invisible, and none of them
reduced to merely physical causes without killing the very
want, and desperately need, to learn to understand.
in a quite remarkable
book called: A Theory
of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World Conception, wrote: "What takes place in human consciousness
interpretation of Nature to itself. Thought is the last
the series of processes whereby Nature is formed.", while Emerson wrote in his essay Nature:
thought incarnate and turns to a thought again as ice becomes
gas. The world is mind precipitated and the volatile
forever escaping into the state of free thought."
when we learn to properly
discipline our thinking and observing capacities is that the
which are the outer garment of the Beings who are the essence
we lovingly seek to know, these Ideas - this outer garment -
spontaneously within our consciousness as part of a
cooperative Art in
which the Creator Being of the World Himself participates.
and seek and knock, after which we are given, and find and all
opened to us.
leads is to an understanding
that knows that human social and political existence, which in
cultural East has often been called Maya, is better understood
Cultural West as the Creative Activity of the Word come to
equilibrium. As it says in Genesis: "God blessed the
and made it holy because on it he rested from all his work of
friends, is where we live, and
have lived and will live as long as our Eternal spirit needs
existence - within the living being of the Seventh Day.
rested, having given us a most remarkable gift - not just
but something much much more, of which the heart of it is the
and enveloping womb of our social and communal existence
living and self evolving growth environment for the human
individuality, Itself ever changing and becoming as our needs
themselves change and grow.
biography, with all its ups and
downs, tragedies and joys, is always held within the loving
a great and wise Intelligence, and if we pay careful attention
own lives, to all that lives and breaths there, we will learn
this for ourselves.
beginning of such a journey we
might have to overcome something. For mostly we tend to
this Age along the lines that science has developed, wherein
accidents and chance encounters in life are just that -
meaning, happening for no intelligence reason whatsoever.
Yet, there is a
counter-image to that, an
impression that the Ancients spoke of when they used the ideas
and Destiny and Karma - ideas that still might be true.
intriguing thing is that we don't have to go backward and
reason to discover the truth here. Rather we just have
heighten the degree to which we pay attention - to change the
of the nature of our observation. Then we think about
it, in our
own personal Emersonian way, trusting more to our own
than to what we have been taught and told to think.
our thinking from the binding assumptions of culture and
ask ourselves - what is true here? Is there wisdom
life? What is its nature? How does it work?
If I look
back in my biography, what has been there as a gift that
become who I am today? What about tomorrow - is there
surprise of special meaning? What about this moment,
How do I contribute? What is the meaning of evil?
do I understand freedom in this context?
wonderful questions - each one
filled with life, for when we really start to see and think
here on our
own, in that same inner land walked years ago by Emerson, all
mundane ways of past thinking that have blinded us to the
treasures of each day start to fall away, and we find once
again - as
we did first in childhood - that the world is filled with
with love. Thank you...
this and that
- some thoughts
on the Four Noble Truths -
This is an
essay on the mind in the light of the Four Noble Truths of the
In my own studies of Buddhism, I found more
considering these very basic questions myself than I did in
of all the rich literature that follows, whether in Zen or
Buddhism, or whatever. I did find it helpful to study these
however, not just for their practical understanding of mind,
for how this understanding created a much better possibility
appreciating the mental processes of the "other", the thou.
It is this last which is such a ripe fruit of the
basic teachings - namely the growing in the own soul of
According to John M. Koller's, Oriental Philosophies, the short version of the Four Noble Truths is as follows: "1. There is suffering; 2. Suffering is caused; 3. Suffering can be extinguished by eliminating the causes of suffering; and 4. The way to extinguish the causes of suffering is to follow the Middle Way constituted by the Noble Eightfold Path."
The same text
gives these as the supposed
actual teachings, or words of the Buddha:
1. "...birth is
suffering; decay is
suffering; illness is suffering; death is suffering; presence
objects we hate is suffering; separation from objects we love
suffering; not to obtain what we desire is suffering. In
five aggregates which spring from grasping, they are painful."
"...originates in that
craving which causes the renewals of becomings, is accompanied
sensual delight, and seeks satisfaction now here, now there;
that is to
say, craving for pleasures, craving for becoming, craving for
"...concerning the Cessation of
Suffering; verily, it is passionless, cessation without
this very craving; the laying aside of, the giving up, the
from, the harboring no longer of, this craving."
4. the path
which leads to the cessation
of suffering, "...is this Noble Eightfold Path, that is to
views, right intent, right speech, right conduct, right means
livelihood, right endeavor, right mindfulness, and right
I would be a
complete fool to suggest
that I can add anything to this, or to further suggest that I
anything to all that the great teachers of, say, Tibetan or
Buddhism, have said about these fundamental teachings of the
purpose of this essay is
state simply how these ideas have influenced me, and in what
way I try
to order or structure my life, based on my understanding of
American means that I tend to
the pragmatic, the practical. So my approach, when I spent
considering these Four Noble Truths, had the tendency to be
related to my personal existence. No theories, just what was
in my life that these Truths could lead me to understand.
I was aided in
this quest by having heard
some lectures, read several books and known several students
Trungpa, teacher of Tibetan Buddhism, now deceased. My
favorite book of
his is: Meditation in Action, Shambhala Publications. In this
book is a
statement that has, over time, became my central principle
considering knowledge: "...and in that sense Buddha was a
revolutionary in his way of thinking. He even denied the
Brahma, or God, the Creator of the world. He determined to
nothing which he had not first discovered for himself." (ibid.
This became my
motto, and, as regards the
Four Noble Truths, I would only understand what I could
myself. The Truths became, in this sense, questions to put to
and to life.
1. There is
fairly obvious. Life is
suffering. Yet, what does that mean? What is suffering and
what is life
in this sense? And, I don't mean to approach this by means of
philosophical definition, but rather simply by observing
life. I did think about animals and other kinds of beings for
which seemed to have life (plants etc.), but since my
only of my own consciousness, I eventually decided to confine
the consideration of my own suffering, and that which I could
around me in those other human beings with which I came in
There seemed to
be a lot of it. Friends I
knew were raped, hurt in cars, lost children, lost the
capacity to bear
children, lost jobs, lost loves, needed love and had none.
looked, within myself and outside myself, there were
But the Four
Noble Truths are not just a
logical sequence, they are a whole. The meaning of one effects
meaning of the whole...
2. Suffering is
After a time
there seemed to me to be two
kinds of suffering: self caused and caused from the outside,
agency (others, fate, god, divine providence, whatever). But
the more I
explored self caused suffering the more I realized that to
was caused by others was an error. The error arises because of
Every event in
life which came to me from
the outside, that is what we might call fated suffering,
self induced, had a certain quality to it. This quality of
suffering depended upon how I related to the situation. The
matter was in itself neutral. If it was experienced as a
suffering, that arose because of how I related to it. It was
the fated experience itself.
Before we get
confused, let me deal with
physical pain, such as perhaps results from trauma. Certainly
pain seems on the surface to be fated suffering. However, pain
a case is not suffering, but increased consciousness. The body
demanding our attention. When we resist, when we desire to not
experience the pain, then we have the pain and suffering.
The point of
this is to make a
distinction between the experience of physical pain, and the
that arises because we are experiencing physical pain. The
former is an
inescapable physical reality, and the latter is a relationship
mind to that reality.
suffering and suffering is caused
by the relationship of mind to life.
can be extinguished by
eliminating the causes of suffering
How I relate to
suffering is an act which
takes place within my own mind, and for which I can be
just here we start to get to the tricky part, because we start
face to face with the problem of mind, and the problem of the
I, or the
various teachings of
Buddhism, from Zen to Tibetan, to beyond, here is where the
gritty comes in. To understand this part, there has to arise
degree of self awareness, some degree of inner awakeness. It
belief (and only that, because I don't know the whole of
a very small corner), that all the commentaries, all the
the koans, and the whole purpose of the various styles of
have to do with this problem.
This is tricky
because to some degree the
Ego can't take a hold of it. Merely by grasping, by trying to
strategy, the Ego steps off the deep end and just repeats what
always doing. Desiring not to desire just leads to more
is why we find in the various teachings such ideas as
no-mind, mindfulness, instant satori, and hundreds of other
making an idea about something which doesn't have an idea.
So Buddha, in
order to help the crossing
of the threshold of this problem provides the Eightfold Path,
means to cut through the confusion.
4. The way to
extinguish the causes of
suffering is to follow the Middle Way constituted by the Noble
Path has a very interesting
structure, in that each element is preceded by the word
"right", as in:
..."right views, right intent, right speech, right conduct,
of livelihood, right endeavor, right mindfulness, and right
Now what is
that? What is meant, in this
context, by "right"?
This is where
we get to the title of this
modest mediation: "this and that". Mind has certain qualities,
of the main ones is what we might call "discrimination", or
capacity to form distinctions. This is up, that is down. This
that is wrong. This is enlightened, that is unenlightened.
This is Ego,
that is not. This is desire, that is not. This is suffering,
not. This is my Buddha nature, that is not.
Of course, you
don't have to be a
Buddhist to have this difficulty. This is Christian, that is
is moral, that is not. Or if you are an anthroposophist:
this, he didn't say that.
This is what I
have learned as a
practical matter about this problem - the problem of "this and
In any given
moment, I may not like the
what is, the this. The this could be myself, my feeling life,
someone else is doing, my thoughts, what someone is saying,
of an object, my lack of health, another driver, my salary,
the way the
world is, my son's haircut, my wife's spending habits and so
Against this this, I will imagine a corresponding that, which
the what is not.
what is and the what is not
there arises a tension, namely my desire for this to change
My discriminatory mind by creating the this and the that, also
same time necessarily creates the tension, which is the
suffer precisely because I conceive, as an act of mind, of the
(the what is) and its difference from the that (the what is
It actually is
that simple to conceive,
but the real problem is practice. What do I do about this? How
do I, if
that is what I decide to do, eliminate the this and the that?
course, just in conceiving the problem this way, I am still in
and the that, but with this one change. I am now aware of
(or at least the most recent ones).
then comes down to coming
back, ever and again, as a matter of slowly developing
the this and living wholly within the this, which does not
but is rather constantly creative. Trungpa calls it "crazy
reason it is crazy is because it (spontaneousness - the this)
predicted, can't be stratigized, and can't be controlled. It
complete intuitive relationship to the this. You could say
that the Ego
is constantly going beyond its previous condition, rather then
remaining stuck in one of its past points of view.
Of course, we
should again return to the
Sutras, the koans, or whatever practices we have discovered in
that seem right for us. These practices are the various paths
one moves from living this and that, to just living this.
of us must find their individual way/means through to the
this; so it
is a great goodness that so much help exists, and in such
comment: The this comes not from
the past, but is born in the future. In any given moment, even
"I" am (past looking), "I" really am not (unborn, no mind and
forth). At this level, there really is no difference between
and Christianity, in practice: " Matthew 18:3: " ...Verily I
you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye
not enter into the kingdom of heaven."
is all I have to say about that.
pragmatic moral psychology
have trouble with the idea
'moral". This is understandable given the history
Christianity (for example), which has included so many
dominating the moral thinking of others.
in our age we don't like being told what is right to do.
would rather follow our own judgment. It will come
surprise to many, that the Christian Gospels actually support
latter view (personal moral judgment) instead of the
allows someone else to tell us what is moral. But
of the Gospels is not appreciated until we have penetrated, in
practice, the psychological teachings these remarkable Books
contain. Many so-called Christians have failed to
Gospels, and for this reason have never come to understand
teach about mind, about soul and spirit in a practical and
sense. This essay is the result of my own
these Books of Wisdom as they apply to life, to thinking and
and to how the world is ordered in both its social and moral
For it is here, in such practices that the real facing
problem of Evil comes toward us. It is only in the
honest examination of how we introduce Evil into the world,
learn what we need to know in order to appreciate how Evil
works in the
social. For a deeper examination of this problem, see my
book The Way of
the Fool: The conscious
our human character, and the future of Christianity - both to
out of the natural union of Faith and Gnosis.
is the highest form of
art. Remember: the social world is the moral world, and we
need to move
from a state of sleep with regard to this, to a state of
material below is offered in support of the reader's struggles
regard, and not as a statement of an activity which the reader
undertake. How one proceeds as regard these matters is very
and the following material, based on the author's own
given only as an example of how one might proceed; should they
to make some efforts in these directions.
The political or community leader, and certainly the story-teller who wants to encounter the Mystery, should realize that some kind of practice, some kind of personal effort at inner growth, of a kind similar to that described below, is essential to carrying out the responsibilities undertaken. We are not born virtuous, but rather human, with all the normal failings that implies. The author can state, with some surety, which he hopes this book demonstrates, that such practice does bear fruit that can be obtained in no other way. The Mystery draws near that which strives toward goodness.
This is not an
essay meant for
psychologists. Nor is it about mental health per se, although its reflections may touch
This essay is
based on an understanding
of human inner life that developed out of the necessity of
certain real problems of personal experience. It represents
of many years of practical work derived from a struggle, only
occasionally successful, to live according to certain
Jesus Christ. It is the latter aspect which brings in the
When this work
was begun, almost
twenty-five years ago when I was in my early thirties, it
appeared as an instinctive awakening to certain problems, most
what was the relationship between my own thinking, and the
experienced through my senses? A secondary question, more
quite definitely related, is what was the role of conscience
solving of this problem?
Over a few
years investigation and
practice, I taught myself to: work at bringing discursive
thinking to a
halt (no inner dialog); to think with my heart, instead of my
and, to think in wholes, or, what I called at that time,
this, I discovered that
essentially the same problems had been confronted by the
genius of a
man named Rudolf Steiner, in his 1894 book, The
of Spiritual Activity. When I read
this book, I found therein, not only a much clearer statement
problems I had already been examining, but what turned out to
introspection of human consciousness that was in accord with
methods of natural science; and which was therefore, at the
quite compatible with all those academic characteristics of
that ordinary people find so confusing.
A few years
later I encountered another
book of Steiner's, The Theory
of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World Conception, which, although again compatible with academic
philosophic standards, is nevertheless much simpler in its
Both books were extremely helpful in making it possible to
these questions (the interrelationship of thinking, experience
conscience), with all their possible subjectivity, in a
Rudolf Steiner, because he has
had an enormous influence on my thinking, and those readers,
wish for a more academic justification for certain themes in
should begin with the above materials. Most people, however,
satisfied by their own common sense.
I use the word
psychology in the title of
this essay because this same struggle has also taught me that
teachings are grounded in a complete understanding of human
They are, in fact, a moral psychology par excellence; that is,
understanding of human nature which both fathoms and
true moral reality and potential. This is so regardless of
conclusions regarding His religious significance.
who might have some
discomfort with the religious matters below, should be advised
that I can do is reflect my own experience. If the reader, for
this may be some kind of problem, is careful, they may be able
translate the materials below into their own understanding and
system. The person of Christian faith, who feels there may be
of even deeper significance, is invited to read: Meditations
Tarot: a Journey into Christian Hermeticism,
Matthew 7: 3-5:
that ye be not
judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be
with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
why behold-est thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but
consider-est not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or
thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine
and, behold a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite,
cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou
to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.
psychological realities I
have so far discovered in this teaching are as follows:
When we meet,
or interact, with another
person there may arise, within our own soul life, antipathies,
of disliking. Perhaps we will not like how they look, their
nature of the ideas they present to us or the values they
Maybe they are of another race or culture, or believe in
believe in choice, or have a selfish political agenda, or a
other categories by which we may define them or weigh their
In each and
every instance where we
experience an antipathetic judgment (or sympathetic for that
we do not perceive the individual before us, but rather only
classification or label by which we have identified them. This
even though it is someone we know well. In fact, those in our
intimate circles are more likely to be the object of judgments
made and continue to make, yet sleep through. These last have
ingrained habits of thought, a (perhaps too rigid) soul lens
which we view the world of our daily relationships.
We also apply
this judgment to ourselves.
Just consider how much we do not like about ourselves. It will
possible to turn the material in this essay into another
This judgment is the beam in our own eye. By it we become then blind, confusing our judgment for the "mote" in their eye, the character fault we believe we have identified.
actually be possible that we
could help them, the existence of our beam
nevertheless disables us. We lack the objectivity (which is
antipathetic or sympathetic, but is rather empathic) by which
actually understand them.
In fact the
Gospel promises us that when
we can succeed in setting aside the judgment and can instead
i.e. know them from the inside-out objectively, then we may
able to be of service to them (then shalt thou see clearly to cast out
the mote out of
thy brother's eye).
Steiner, I was lead to
understanding, that the most common types of such judgments
are in fact
reflections of our own weaknesses and failings. Our normal
is so ordered that our common antipathies are mirror images of
defects. We often most strongly dislike, in others, our own
flaws. So Jesus Christ advises us: "Thou hypocrite, first cast
beam out of thine own eye..."
This being the
case, how do we work with
this in a practical manner?
The first step
is to wake up to it, to
notice each and every act of judgment. This is painful. A
help is found in an spiritual exercise Steiner taught, the
review. This exercise, which the reader is free to use or not,
taking time at the end of the day, and remembering it,
the most recent events just before beginning the exercise, to
events surrounding our awakening early in the morning. In this
reflect upon our day, and will begin, after a time, to
which need our attention. When, for example, we have begun to
these judgments, they can become an element of the review.
"unfinished" soul business.
review feelings of remorse and
shame are good signs. In these self reflective feelings the
awakens. Out of the impulse of conscience we can utter a brief
to the guardian angel of the one we have judged, so that the
we meet, our perception will be more objective. The angel of
"other" wants to help us do this. Those who doubt such an idea
simply asked to carry out such activity with full sincerity.
will, itself, establish the truth of these matters.
In this way we
slowly refine the impulse
to judge, and gain thereby (small bit by bit) control of our
and mastery of our feelings. The soul area, in which these
antipathies and sympathies have previously tended to pull us,
become an ever growing arena of spiritual freedom.
One of the
mysteries of our inner life
that this work, the refining of the judgment, uncovers, is
that we are
often captured - enslaved - by these repeated
having made them, our continued repetition of them, or
habitual use of
them, becomes then a point of view, a kind of judgmental
through which we view the world. To refine the judgment in the
being described in this essay, is to no longer by possessed by
it - to
be inwardly, spiritually, free.
applications in other areas as well. The reader, who works
with these soul-lawful realities, will discover other possible
the skills developed.
We can in fact
be glad of those
personalities who irk us so, who bring out of us these strong
unredeemed feelings. Their lives are a great gift to us and we
to have sought out these relationships just so they could
Here is good cause for a prayer of thanks during the review.
represent a similar problem to
antipathies. How often does life teach the tragedy of those
who fall so
in love that the excessive sympathies and its resulting (love
blindness leads eventually to confusion and terrible pain,
another up in excessive praise
is also a beam of great
proportions. Whenever we do this, we are just
as blind to an other's real humanity as when we live in
Our judgment is not a source of true understanding when it is
from unconscious and unredeemed feeling-perceptions.
In the case where we are turning this unredeemed judgment upon ourselves, this can become another aspect of our search for spiritual freedom. In our inner life, once we become awake there, the voice of the conscience and the voice of the judgment are not the same. Conscience "hurts" because it expresses the truth, and we "wince" inwardly in this perception. The judgment dislikes, or excessively likes, but it is not expressing the truth. Learning to distinguish between these - between truth and dislike - can be very helpful.
does not begin to exhaust all
that could be said about the beam and the mote, nonetheless,
take up another thread.
John 8:5-9: Now Moses in the law
commanded us, that such should be stoned; but what say est
This they said, tempting him, that they might have to
But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the
though he heard them not. So when they continued asking
lifted up himself, and said unto them. He that is without sin
you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he
and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being
by their own conscience, went out one by one...
We all know
this story, but we don't stone
people anymore; or do we ? Obviously physical violence,
against criminals continues. We understand these issues, to a
there then some more subtle meaning? This is what I have
be true in practice.
unredeemed judgment is spoken,
that is, when it passes from the inner life into the social
through speech, it becomes a stone. The
flesh is not wounded
by this stone, but the soul surely is. Our ordinary language
natural genius recognizes this, for don't we speak of "hurt
ordinary personal life is full of
just these acts of stone throwing. Tired
we throw them at our children and our partners. Believing too
our own righteousness we will throw them at work, or at play.
teaching it this. Be
silent. Remember, Jesus' response in this story is first to
Jesus stooped down and with his finger wrote on the ground, as
he heard them not". Examine our own
more rigorously than that of others. Not every thought must be
An ancient middle-eastern aphorism goes this way. There are
to speech: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind? Any
cannot pass all three gates should not be spoken. And there
may be even
other reasons for not speaking those thoughts which otherwise
questions are these. What is the
moral purpose for our speech? Why have we said what we have
is the objective? Do we speak to be self important? Or do we
possible benefit for others as our purpose? How do we know it
will be a
benefit, rather than an interference in their freedom or a
hurt? Do we
believe we know the truth, that our knowledge is superior to
Hidden here are all the judgments, the consequences of the beam.
Are we so sure of ourselves, that all our thoughts are worthy of being spoken? Silence is golden is the cliche. In truth, outer silence is just the beginning.
Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor
spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
If my mind is
not quiet, empty, poor in
spirit, what can enter there? Inner silence has two valuable
benefit of inner silence is
that it is essential to listening to someone else speak. If we
quiet our own mind when we are listening, if our whole
instead on our anticipated response or on what we think, then
attention is not focused at all on the other person or what
lectures published under the
title: The Inner Aspect of the Social Question, Rudolf Steiner suggests the practice of seeking
the presence, of what he calls "the Christ Impulse", in the
thinking. This is very difficult. It is not just listening,
feeling-imagining of the heart felt purposes living in the
What brings them to speak so? What life path has brought them
place? Even if they are throwing stones at us, we must still "actively" listen;
will be no understanding of their humanity.
There is a
wonderful experience possible
here, when we have won past our antipathetic judgment and
begun to hear what lives in the other speaker. Each of us has
in life some wisdom, and these little jewels lie every where
often in the most improbable places, the most unsuspected
treasures are often hidden only by the darkness we cast over
through our unredeemed thought-judgments.
benefit is this. Unless I am
silent, and empty, that is poor in spirit, how will it be
the Mystery to touch me?
John 3:8 The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit
goes where it wills. If we
are not listening outwardly, we well may miss it when it
through others. An inflated sense of self righteousness will
interfere. How much have we missed in life because we did not
what was being offered? Even a piece of an overheard passing
conversation on a bus, which seems to jump into our silent
have an import just for us. And inwardly? The Mystery is
itself, quiet, like an angel's beating wings. How much has
to us just there as well, a barely audible whispering that our
internal rambling dialog has covered over in its insistent and
"It thinks in me" spoke Rudolf
Steiner. The Mystery has its own will. "It" comes like a
when "it" wills, and we prepare the way by "learning to think on
our knees", as Valentin Tomberg,
another passionate seeker I find
very helpful, has advised. Two acts, only one our own.
unto me, all ye that
labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke
upon, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and
find rest unto your souls.n For my yoke is easy, and my
Two acts, only
one our own. Something
comes to meet us and does not bring weight, but rather eases
psychology is not meant
to be heavy labor. We are working together with the world of
We make an offering of what lives within; we offer it up. In
Celebration of the Mass, the Offertory precedes the Eucharist.
The soul makes the same rite of gesture, when the unconsciously created judgment is perceived and then let go, after which the empathic understanding is yearned for. When this has been done we are then met by grace, by the work of others. Moreover, this grace is so quiet, so silent, we may not be able to distinguish it from our own yearning thinking.
Mystery seeks no gratitude for
its acts, we should not mind when it has invisibly carried us
heights, breadths and depths. To expect this, is faith.
we may sometimes feel, we are, in fact, never alone.
Let us review
and synthesize, perhaps
adding a few new thoughts.
We are born
into a culture and a
language, a family and a destiny. In our youth we draw into
way of seeing the world, consistent with those who raise us,
without which we would have become incapable of being a member
Each of us has
an inborn faculty of
judgment which finds its center in the feeling life, but which
its most conscious traces in the life of thought. We do not
eliminate this faculty, but it does need to be refined if we
evolve it into a capacity for perceiving the true, the
the good. As the poet Goethe pointed out, particularly in his
scientific works, it is not the senses which deceive, but
The fundamental quality, latent in judgment and from which its evolution may proceed, is our moral nature, our moral will. Let us consider this in a more practical way.
What do I do
with antipathies (or with
excessive sympathies for that matter)? Something enters my
consciousness and my "reaction" is to not like it. The first
(borrowing a term from more recent popular psychology) is to
own it. It
is my reaction, it arises in my soul, and it is not (in any
way) in the object to which the reaction attaches. There does
be something, a seed perhaps, that does exist in the judgment
does belong to the object of the judgment, but this seed only
flower through processes like those outlined below.
antipathetic reaction, which is a
"feeling", then draws concepts toward it, clothes itself in
forms, and in this way enters our conscious thinking life,
usually as a
stream of inner dialog (discursive thinking: our spirit
soul hears). Above, we considered how to become alert to these
judgments using the daily review, and noted there, as well,
feel remorse and shame for having so unconsciously and
categorized our fellow human beings, is a sign of an awakening
Once we have
become more awake in the
moment, it is possible to work with this process during the
waiting for the daily review. The antipathy arises, we notice
have learned not to speak it, not to allow it across the
speech into the social world. We behold it inwardly, this
judgmental creation. This objective perception of our self
thought-judgments is an act of spiritual freedom, inner
There are two
very practical acts we can
do in regard to this object within our consciousness. One
other, and the second is born out of the first. The initial
act is one
of sacrifice. Steiner calls this: "sacrifice of thoughts". We not only allow it to die, we participate in
process of its dying. We give it up, we detach ourselves
from this no longer desired judgment.
Doing this has brought our will into play. Using this same will we now engender a new becoming of the act of judgment. Dying has preceded becoming. We actively engage the process of metamorphosis inwardly in the soul life. The caterpillar of our antipathetic judgment can give birth to the butterfly of our empathic understanding. The crucial act is our moral intention. We recreate in the newly freed soul space the object of our judgment as an act of spiritual will. We choose to behold the "other" with the forces of resurrection. We clothe the object of our previous antipathy in a freely chosen word-picture created in the crucible of a struggle to know them empathically. We redeem them in thought.
essential matter to recognize
here is that in this activity one is not acting alone. Two
one our own.
thought. In that activity by
which we transform unconscious judgments into conscious ones,
the world with new meaning. We adorn the world, and the
which inhabit it, with self-created significance. The
that this new meaning-significance is neither arbitrary or
The world means what we choose it to mean. In this act,
makes a great deal of difference whenever we have invited the
cooperation of the invisible world.
With regard to
this problem of meaning -
the creation of new meaning - there is much more yet to say,
as this is
one of the principle ways for crafting the resurrection of a
civilization from the decay and debris of the old and dying
Unto the reader
then, I place these gifts
of twenty-five years of practice, with all their flaws, for
service they may give.
The Misconception of Cosmic Space* As
Appears In the Ideas of Modern Astronomy
- and as contained in the understandably limited thinking embodied
conceptions of the nature of parallax and redshift -
on to the main body of
this essay, we should consider briefly the nature of thinking
the imagination. In this little book there are a
different comments on thinking and on the imagination, coming
different directions, but here I want to point out some basic
a foundation for the coming work.
The first is
that human beings think, and
that there is no science without the activity of human
Thinking determines which questions the scientist
what experiments he conducts, and then ultimately how the data
by the experiments is interpreted - that is what does this
activity mean. For this
essay we are confronted with the
scientific meaning created by human thinking in relationship
considerable portions of the data accumulated by scientific
centered on questions concerning the stellar world. We
here in this essay whether what science thinks today of the
significance of the stars is what we ought to continue to
think, in the
future, or even today to assume is still a reasonable
As part of the
process of examining the
underlying questions, we will be using a particular capacity
mind, which might be called the imagination, or
capacity. We make all manner of mental
the normal course of ordinary thinking, and in scientific
carry out this activity in quite specific directions.
astronomical ideas, for example the idea of parallax, are
grounded in the picture-thinking connected to Euclidean
While we sometimes use a pencil and paper to work
details of this geometric picture thinking, the fact that
should not be
ignored (but often is) is that it is the mind of the human
contributes the fundamental activity from which our modern
conceptions arise. In fact, our interpretation of the
astronomical data is entirely a result of mental processes, a
which are expressly born in the imagination.
carefully observe the stellar
world with all kinds of remarkable instruments. We
a great deal of mathematics in how this material is
interpreted, but we
must never, in the process of unfolding this scientific
of the world of the stars, forget the centrality of thinking
and of the
imagination to the whole process. If we take
the imagination away, there is no science of astronomy.
this is so important will hopefully become more clear as this
- main body -
*"Our Father in the
are the first words of the Lord's Prayer, as translated
Gaus in his book The
Unvarnished Gospels. I start
point out the fact that the people living in ancient
Palestine, at the
time of the Incarnation, had a different kind of consciousness
do today. When they looked at the heavens, they
(and were taught by their wise elders) that the sky was the
the Divine Mystery. In fact, they understood the whole
Creation to be en-souled with Being and Consciousness. Since that time a different
the heavens and of the earth has come into existence for large
of humanity. How did that original conception change and
we learn by observing carefully the nature of that change?
this last essay in the main body of New
Wine, we'll look primarily at a
crucial set of ideas related
to the field of astronomy that were a significant part of
understands that if we make even
the slightest error in the aim of the bow and arrow, by the
arrow reaches the end of its journey, it doesn't take much of
original error to cause the arrow to have completely missed
Human beings are flawed, and science is the activity of
beings. In the following essay I am going to concern
clearly amateur* researches and thinking into the problems of
and red shift, as these ideas are used to create for us a
the world of the Stars.
*[While I am
not a member of the
priesthood of the religion of Natural Science, I do know how
carefully and how to think objectively, so just because
my profession, the reader should not automatically anticipate
be misled. The reader should, however, themselves
themes outlined below in their own careful picture-thinking.
tendency of scientific thinking has been toward too much
analysis, and not enough synthesis,
while the return of
a focus on the imagination will help us move forward in the
toward a needed balance between these two basic gestures
The fundamental question is this: the current generally understood idea of cosmic space is that it is essentially a three dimensional endlessness - a very big box, which while it must have some unusual properties as a container, it is nevertheless organized such that everywhere inside it one can expect that the same rules of physics we observe in the laboratory on the Earth, will be true all that way out there...one upon a time in a galaxy far far away. Is this conception of endless three-dimensional space true?
Let us consider
a rather simple geometric
thought experiment, which everyone (trained mathematician or
Make a picture
of a small perfect sphere
in your mind. It has a center and a periphery.
can use the terms radius, circumference and diameter with
this sphere, but they really don't have any exact meaning
define one of these characteristics by giving it first an
measure. For example, if we said the radius of our
was one meter, well understood rules of the geometry of a
sphere would give us diameter and circumference (as well as
related characteristics, such as the degree of arc of the
the surface, the area of the surface, etc.).
Now keep in
mind that we don't have to
conceive of this sphere in terms of measure. It can just
our mind as a measureless perfect geometric form.
imagine the radius line, from
the center of the sphere to the periphery, increasing.
again don't have to measure it, we just make the picture in
thinking of this imaginary sphere as something that is slowly
through an elongating radius line. The radius line
As that line grows all the other characteristics of the
grow as well.
We could also
mentally cause the same
effect by changing any other properties. For
example, if we
cause with our picture-thinking the area of the surface to
change at the same time all the other relationships.
Now lets return
to the increasing of the
radius line. In your imagination now picture that
intersection between the radius line and the periphery of the
At this intersection there is a degree of curvature of
the arc of
the sphere. We can notice as we do this thought
that as the radius line grows, the tightness of the curvature
To help this,
lets imagine the radius
line decreasing. We shrink it, and as we do this
curvature of the periphery of the sphere gets tighter and
until we make the radius line zero. When we make
line zero we have lost the sphere, and it has disappeared into
Yet, since we
are working without any
need for measure, a zero radius sphere is simply a point.
give measure of any amount to the radius line of a zero radius
sphere (a point), the sphere returns. A radius
line of a
nanometer takes a point and makes it a sphere.
Seeing this clearly with our geometrical imagination (which is quite exact and precise, by the way), we now do the opposite and complete the earlier exercise by increasing the radius line to infinite length. Instead of a radius line of zero, it is now infinite. What then happens to the curvature of the sphere when the radius becomes infinitely elongated?
Well, if we
carefully follow out our
precise and exact geometrical imagination, we will be able to
this process unfold. As the radius line increases in
original tightness of the curvature of the surface of the
lessens, until at the moment the radius line is infinite there
no curvature at all. The sphere has disappeared, and
metamorphosis into a plane. If we think carefully
what we have learned here, we will see then that any sphere of
measure of radius line is always an intermediate geometric
in between a dimensionless point and a plane at infinity.
This fact is
already well known in the
profound mathematical science of projective geometry, and we
ourselves discovered what is called there: the Plane at
The sphere then is geometrically in between the
and the infinitely small, or in between the plane at infinity
geometric point (which has no measure at all, unless we put it
relationship with something else). A point by itself is
- nothing else. It occupies no space at all.
Well then, what
is the point
of this exercise?
several. First it is
crucial to realize that we can think geometrically without
measure at all. If one is lucky enough to come upon a
Olive Whicher's Projective
creative polarities in space and time*, one
has the possibility to study this wonderful geometry using
pencil, a straight edge and some paper (large sheets are
some constructions). Measure has been done away
the creators (or discoverers) of this mathematics describe it
geometry - meaning by this that
every single other geometry is a
special case of projective geometry.
Schools or other Rudolf
Steiner institutions for copies of this book. At present
tragically out of print.]
The difficulty for Natural Scientists has been how to apply this beautifully symmetric, measure free geometry, to the natural world. Science is rooted in measure, and while the ideas of this geometry are recognized as significant, what could they mean in a world that is already hopelessly entangled in a science which has to use measure for everything?
riddle in the background, let
us now examine the history of ideas by which the old view of
heavens as an abode of the Divine Mystery came to be
supplanted by a
view in which space is conceived as a near endless three
container, punctuated with mass caused curvatures (the
gravity ideas following after Einstein, using the Reinmann
again a special case of the more general projective geometry).
who was burned at the
stake as a heretic in 1600, is credited with having first
idea that a star might be like the sun. Would that our
were more accurate, because what we think of as the sun today,
he thought about such matters (he was, among other
deeply thoughtful meta-physician*) is not quite grasped by
his idea, that a star and our sun were relatives, in fact
anyway our modern conceptions. For Bruno, the idea that
and our sun were related, was a completely different idea than
today. The details of that, however, is a whole other matter.
contrary to modern views
that it is not a science at all, was really always seen as a
a synthesis of ones total understanding. Modern
from taking things apart, from analysis.
Meta-physics always had the task of make the parts
human knowledge into a single whole.]
Bruno did agree
to a degree with
Copernicus, and so in those years the ideas being produced by
philosophers (the grandfathers of natural science) came to be
with the dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church. While the
age of careful thinkers (the Scholastics), would have
(keeping to Aristotle) that there was a difference between quantities and qualities, the
impulse coming to the fore in those years more and more felt
only deal with that which could be counted or measured - that
is quantities. The various categorical qualities of Aristotelian meta-physics more and more
from consideration (although this was a long term process and
thinkers (Kepler and Faraday for example, thought this was an
thought to do so).
In any event,
pure astronomy slowly freed
itself from the meta-physics connected to astrology and
disciplines, by a process in which the qualitative problems were left aside and everything was more
more rooted in only what could be counted (and measured).
it has been forgotten, was an astrologer as well as the
the three fundamental laws of planetary motion*. Not
but Newton was an alchemist. The tendency has been to
history of these thinkers as if they thought as we do today,
anyone who actually reads what they wrote discovers they did
a comprehensive examination of this overlooked history of
Ernst Lehrs' Man or
Introduction to a Spiritual Understanding of Nature on the
Goethe's Method of Training Observation and Thought. Also read Arthur Zajonc's Catching
entwined history of Light and Mind.
*[Kepler believed, for example, that his formula and ideas regarding the Third Law of Planetary Motion was a rediscovery of the ancient's idea of the Harmony of the Spheres]
As this process
matures, it reaches a
kind of high point in the 19th Century, and two important
given birth out of the context of this leaving aside of the
problem of qualities, and resting
all theories of the starry world only on
what can be counted and measured. These ideas are
and redshift. Such concepts don't emerge on their own,
so we have
to work carefully with them, still keeping in mind how
are upon measure alone.
The idea of
redshift doesn't come by
itself, for example, for it is really based upon spectroscopy.
This science is itself not based initially on stellar
observation, but on work in the laboratory where various
elements are combusted (burned) in such a way that they
"light". This "light" is measured according to the
ideas of Newtonian Optics, and so we get the "spectral" lines
basic elements as hydrogen.
As a result
stellar light phenomena,
including light phenomena from our sun, are used in such a way
is assumed that this light from the stars and our sun is
those places by a burning process similar in kind (but not
what was done in the laboratory. If the light from a
star, or our
sun, has a certain mathematically accurate vibration
is like or essentially similar to the hydrogen line obtained
laboratory, this light frequency is then seen as showing us
that star, or our sun, hydrogen is being burned up, which
process gives off that particular light frequency.
This is so
important a fact (actually
assumed to be universal) that in the movie Contact, the frequency used to send the message to Earth
the fictional stellar civilization is the hydrogen light
times pi. That is, it is a material constant multiplied
All the same,
there was a problem with
the hydrogen light frequency, for example, from the stars.
The observed light frequency in the normal range
hydrogen (assumed to be an exact universal constant) isn't
quite so exact to observation. Various stars' hydrogen
discovered to be a bit off center, so to speak, such that they
described (in the assumptions of physical astronomy) to be
shifted or blue shifted. The greatest number of stellar
are red shifted (only a very very few are blue shifted).
Newton, color is a spectrum of
light frequencies, with a red end point, where beyond which it
invisible to the eye, or a blue end point (actually violet,
convention names that end of the spectrum the blue end) where
this end it also becomes invisible to the eye. We see
eyes a normal color Newtonian spectrum (so it is assumed) and
edges of this visible spectrum the light is no longer visible,
it still can be observed and measured with instruments (the
becomes infrared or heat, and the blue end becomes
then to such as x-rays). The wavelength of the frequency
red end is longer and longer (elongation), and the wavelength
frequency at the blue end is shorter and shorter (compaction).
arise: what does it mean
that light from the stars is not exactly showing us the
hydrogen line we came to know in the laboratory, and what do
we make of
the fact that this shift toward the red (the dominant types of
itself varies? Some stellar objects show small
other's quite large redshift.
dominating idea for the
meaning of the phenomena of the redshift (elongation) of such
hydrogen line frequency was arrived at by creating an analogy
light waves and sound waves, in 1842. We all know (or
at least) the so-called Doppler effect - the shift in sound of
horn as it comes toward us or away from us. This movement toward or away produces a change in the pitch
frequency), even though we know that the actual pitch the horn
making never changes. The change in pitch is heard
because of the
movement of the source of the sound (which compacts or
the frequency, as perceived by the ear,
which is relatively stationary).
then, redshift was thought to
give evidence of the movement of the object away from the
the Earth. Whatever was going on, most of the stellar
this redshift phenomena (in varying degrees) and from this
born the idea that the Universe is expanding (which then later
supposed to logically give us the Big Bang - an explosion
an expanding Universe). I point out this last to
reader to notice how interwoven are all the ideas we have
the physical universe, such that if, for example, redshift
really mean what we think it means, then this idea of the
the Universe loses one of its main supports.
problem to arise after the more
or less universal acceptance of this theory, was the
while light was superficially a wave phenomena (a
propagating in a medium), similar to sound, the analogy didn't
hold, so a lot of thought went into how to revisit the
phenomena and appreciate it better. Unfortunately,
many scientists feel certain older kinds of ideas ought to get
away from any current point of view, some ideas seem quite
be abandoned, so the Doppler analogy remains, even though
physics sometimes sees light as both particle and wave
(depending on what questions you ask, and which experiments
One of the
newer theories as regards
redshift (moving away from the Doppler analogy) is that it is
a consequence of the temperature in the star. Another
redshift phenomena as reflecting the influence of gravity
I point this
out only to suggest that
theories themselves are in constant motion (a kind of social
motion among different minds). I am not so much
interested in the
current theory here, because it is my view that the resolution
fundamental question lies in a quite different direction.
Let us now
leave redshift behind, and go
on to the idea parallax, which arose a few years before
historically (1838, so it says on-line).
The basic idea
of parallax is that it
enables us to measure (remember what was said above about
far a star (or other stellar phenomena) is from the Earth.
Basically this is done by coming up with an
that can be measured on the Earth, and is made possible in
by the orbit of the Earth around the sun. Since I can't
put in a
drawing here (the reader can go on-line if they desire) I'll
try to do
this with words.
Place on the
grass of a football field,
in your imagination, two poles. One pole is at the
center of the
goal line, and the next at the center of the 10 yard line
goal line. Now go down to the goal line at the
other end of
the field, and set up a transit (a device for taking the
measure of an
angle of changes in a sight line). Move the
from one side of the field to the other, stopping every yard,
observations of the angle of observation between the two poles
by viewing them from the moving transit.
As we do this
the angle we are measuring
changes. This angle is widest at one side of the field,
contracts, until we are right opposite the two poles (at which
occurrence the near pole occults the other, or stands in front
and then the angle expands again as we move toward the
opposite side of
such an activity taking place
with respect to the light phenomena of stellar objects.
transit is actually the earth, which moves constantly,
observational "angle" with respect to distant objects.
earth-transit moves, some of the distant objects seem to
other, as if one was in front, and the other behind.
these objects are so far
away (apparently), the angles that are measured are very very
small (small fractions of seconds of degree of arc). One
suggested that if you took a quarter, and looked at it from a
of three miles, measuring the angle between a transit
one side of the quarter, and then the other side - this
suggests how small an angle is actually being measured by this
(parallax) with regard to the nearest star to the earth (for
believed to be further away, the "angle" is progressively
Using this data
(the angle measurements
coupled with our knowledge of the diameter of the Earth's
orbit) we can
use the basic rules of Euclidean geometry to determine the
the sides of the resultant triangle. This information
couple of other geometric ideas rooted in measure) then gives
think to be the distance of the stellar object from the Earth.
redshift is believed to tell us
that most stellar objects are moving away
from us, these distances change over time, which then appears
us a kind of confirmation of the parallax. The problem
some of these observations came in conflict (an inconsistency
redshift and parallax). One of the most obvious of
was discovered by the astronomer Hal Arp, who as a result for
found himself to be seen as a heretic by his fellows, and was
temporarily shunned (couldn't get telescope time to continue
research (see his book, Quasars,
Redshifts, and Controversies).
he observed (using
conventional astronomical ideas and methods), was that Quasars
(quasi-stellar objects), while they had a very high redshift
(suggesting they were traveling very fast away from us, and
were thought to have been doing this for some time - no
rate of velocity and/or acceleration were assumed, they were
also thought to be quite far away) the parallax measurement
imply they were much nearer. Quasars seemed to occult
front of) much slower (less redshifted) stellar objects).
phenomena could not be reconciled. Were Quasars near or
I'll not go
into what were the
conventional adjustments made (its all very complicated, and
unnecessarily so in my view) in order to preserve the basic
ideas of modern astronomy, but we can (with
past these ideas. Why?
fundamentally the problem is due
to the fact that phenomena of redshift and parallax is
accord with Euclidean geometry and the need in science to
In effect, at every point in the development of
(though scientific thinking and imagination), we exported to
Space those conceptions that were true here in the center (the
and further, we assumed that these conditions were an
the distance we measure
using the idea of parallax can't actually be tested
In essence, we export from our Earth reality the concept
Euclidean three-dimensional space to the apparently farthest
the starry world, but at the same time have no way of testing
of assumptions behind the activity of exportation of such an
We can't go off to the side of the container in which all stars are held, and measure from
quarter whether in fact the distance the parallax formulation
example, we find the hydrogen
frequency line by a laboratory experiment here on the surface
Earth, and then assume that nothing of physics changes at
distances, and that the universe will obey the same laws way
that it obeys here. Under the influence of these
export our earthly picture to cosmic spaces, something that
isn't justified if science wishes to remain properly
observations are made on the
Earth or from near-earth space. It is really only in our
that we go outward toward cosmic space. If that is
case, then we must be very very careful in how we let one
from the other. Clearly if there is an error in
(remember our arrow to the target analogy at the beginning of
essay), then the further
out in space our imagination, of the
of the meaning of the data we collect here goes, the more a
small error in our thought will produce
a quite large miss in our understanding of the truth.
were many small mistakes made
(such as the assumptions observed regarding the hydrogen
is one single idea that saves the situation as it were.
aside Euclidean geometry and substitute for it Projective
the fundamental geometry of which all other geometries
Euclidean) are a special case. Let us next then try to
geometry to the image creation aspect of our thinking, because
all it is the image we are making of cosmic space that is
It is the mind that travels to cosmic space, riding the
have created from the data only empirically observed here.
who live today, have traveled far down the historical path of
of mind-created image, and now it is time to perhaps
deconstruct it and
create something new.
Lets recall the older (or current) image first, namely of a three dimensional emptiness, filled with stars which are like our sun, some surrounded by planets like our planet. It is a powerful image. Science fiction, books and films, tell all kinds of tales. If one were to suggest that this might not be correct, most people would think you were crazy.
Return now to
our earlier work in which
we expanded the radius line of the sphere to infinity and
the sphere became a plane at infinity (or the reverse, where
contract the radius line the sphere disappears into a
point). Also keep in mind that the geometric form never
its basic nature - it just transforms at
extremes (the infinitely large and the infinitely small radius
A lot of people
should have some trouble
here, because they conceive of infinity as something much
say the multiple light years of measure we have applied to the
between the Earth and the stellar objects. In this
look at some apparent facts so far developed under the old
the so-called nearest star,
Proxima Centuri is thought to be 4.2 light years away (its
arc in parallax is .77233 seconds of arc - which is by the way
largest degree of arc using parallax measures, for every more
object will have a smaller degree of arc). 4.2 light
next is an amateur calculation) is 24 billion miles (that's
24,000,000,000, or 24 thousand million). The
distance objects are high multiples of that. We'll
return to this
a bit later.
have exported an idea to
cosmic space which we can't empirically test. Science,
the idea of counting and measure, has exported to cosmic space
measure (huge light year distances), which idea can't be
checked by any
other means. As a result, we are quite right to
exportation of measure to test whether it is a thought that is
rigorous. Since we cannot empirically test the assumed
we are left with the quite definite necessity to even more
and rigorously subject that idea to the tests of logic.
Here is a very
If at the center of our infinitely small sphere, the
is no actual space, once we have created any measure of radius
(a nanometer, for example), we now have three dimensional
what happens at the infinite radius, when the sphere
becomes the plane at infinity? Is this transition as
sudden as the one from the point to the very very small
If we actually
think very carefully about
this we will notice (using our geometric imagination) that
transition to the very very small is not sudden. There
is a lot
of work on theses themes in mathematics, and you can Google it
starting with Zeno's paradoxes. In any event, at
infinitely small end of the transition, from the sphere to the
itself is likewise smaller and
nature, while the transition from the very large sphere to the
infinity must be, by virtue of laws of symmetry, larger and
nature. Keep in mind we are thinking here of the transformational
process, from one geometric state or
form to another state or
The plane at
infinity doesn't appear
suddenly out of nowhere, but as we approach it the nature of
three-dimensional space is slowly undergoing a metamorphosis.
Three-dimensional space is becoming plane-like in
fundamental nature, but not all of a sudden. Space
is changing, and the rules of physics applicable to a purely
three-dimensional sphere (Earth conditions) will no longer, at
extremely large distances, apply.
What are huge
light year imagined
measures then (such as the 28 billion light years assumed for
the visible universe - there being thought to exist a greater
we cannot yet see even with our instruments)? They are
fantasy or myth, born in the assumptions of the scientific
Since we cannot conceive of anything as knowable
without measure and counting, we presently are unable to
the universe without measure either. Again, an
causes the arrow to miss the mark. The question right
is whether the current limits of our imagination and thinking
the actual limits of reality. Confined for a time in the
box of Euclidean Geometry, we stand on the cusp of
limits by applying the more universal Projective Geometry.
This should not
surprise anyone, for we
already know that in particle physics, where the transition of
endowed space becomes infinitely small (remember the sphere
into the point - which has led us into all the paradoxes of
physics) the conditions there are suggestive of all kinds of
alterations of the rules observed at a more (relatively) macro
matter. At very small dimensions, the rules of physics
why would we be surprised that at very large dimensions, the
physics will also change.
In fact, in the
wonderful movie Mind Walk, the character of the physicist describes matter
huge emptiness, punctuated with geometric points, where fields
intersect. In effect, there is nothing there at all in
substance (or what we call matter) but this organism of
of fields of force in various kinds of pure geometric points
space). No space at the infinite periphery, and no space
infinitesimal point. In between, the perfect geometric
mediates between the greatest and the smallest. "Think on it: how the
becomes a sphere and yet remains itself. Hast thou
the infinite sphere may be only a point, and then come again,
the Infinite will shine forth for thee in the finite." Rudolf Steiner.
Now if this is
true, then as macro cosmic
space becomes more plane-like and less like the normal
conditions of the Earth, we ought to be able to observe
as we do in the very smallest dimensions revealed by quantum
experiments) that reveal to us that this condition of space itself has altered. Space, being no longer
dimensional at the plane at infinity, must become something
believe this is a poor idea,
recall that already we have been taught about the so-called gravity wells (especially near such objects as our Sun).
us have seen images, either on TV or in a page in a magazine,
suggests that near a massive object, space itself is distorted. Light, we are told, traveling near this
state of a gravity well, can't travel in a straight line.
thought to have been proved by Einstein's predictions
from Mercury as it passes toward us from the other side of the
(when Mercury's orbit causes it to hide (be occulted) behind
Using the Reinmann geometry (a special case of
geometry) Einstein was able to calculate exactly the amount of
bending of light by the gravity well our our Sun.
already know how to imagine a distorted near
space around a massive object like our Sun (recall
that Bruno thought our Sun and stars were of a similar nature)
not too great a leap to imagine a fully transformed space at the transition from the very large
the Plane at Infinity. In a sense, the image of
wells is already a transformation of our ideas of space
although not going so far as to free itself fully of the need
measure. What I am suggesting is that we take our
imagination faculty all the way, and also bring projective
itself all the way into play as descriptive of the natural
Which is of
course exactly what our
observations of light, and other phenomena of the stellar
tells us if we let them. Once we overcome the one-sided
geometry previously applied in parallax, and substitute
Geometry principles, then all the anomalous problems of
The reason the
hydrogen line is different
is because it (the light) originates in a kind of space which itself is
different). A star isn't a sun
(unless we change our ideas of our near sun-space - going back
Bruno, which is entirely justified but a whole other problem).
Those stellar objects with large redshift
as Quasars) are deeper (a presently necessary poor choice of
it implies a continuation of three dimensions) within the
plane-like space. In fact, if we make a picture only of
redshift (disregarding Euclidean parallax) phenomena by itself
related other astronomical facts of stellar radiation
phenomena), a new
kind of picture emerges.
Think for a
moment on all the pictures we
have been graced with of the starry world from the Hubble
Everyone has seen these. Rich colors
computer enhanced far too often, but that is a whole other
Marvelous shapes and forms. Just looking at the
characteristics we can make a picture of an object that is
active. It is not static or at rest in relationship to
but dynamic. Its relationship to other stellar objects
fixed (perhaps musically harmonious, because there is a dance
objects - including our solar system - all based on the
geometric form of the vortex*), but the light phenomena, which
instruments observe, suggests (since we observe this variation
redshifts, x-ray stars etc) that stellar objects have dynamic
properties. The various kinds of radiation, pouring
earth from the cosmic periphery, are not constant, but rather
changing and dynamic.
*[A vortex is,
in terms of projective
geometry, a dynamic form.
That is, it is, in its actual nature, in
movement. A tornado funnel cloud is a vortex, and we see
every time we flush a toilet. A vortex is also a
relative of the
cone of light, which is how we think of what light does when
the eye through the lens. These cones of light are well
in all their geometry properties by the rules of projective
and, a vortex is simply a dynamic (moving) cone-like form in
objects are extremely
dramatic (x-ray and neutron stars, for example). Keep in
that these pictures are created by a thinking which has
removed all qualities, remaining
only in quantities. To better appreciate this lets make a
flower garden in full late
summer bloom. Vivid colors, lots of insect life and
and playing. For some almost violent growth (how fast
does a sun
flower grow, on its way to a height of 12 to 14 feet in three
time). Of course, to the gardener it makes no sense to
the way such a garden makes us feel (its qualities), but if
astronomical thinking were applied to a flower garden, all
disappear. We'd end up with a bunch of numbers (how
which kinds, what frequency of light were the colors, what was
speed of growth etc. etc. etc.). Our actual experience of the garden is washed away by the process of
our thinking only to the quantitative.
Now think (if
you can remember) of a time
when you were deep in Nature, away from city lights, and lay
back in a meadow looking up at midnight at the night sky.
Thousands upon thousands of stars, and your mind
saw everywhere patterns. Moreover, we feel awe.
starry night touches something deep inside us, that can only
with marvel and wonder. We forget this living in our
we have also forgotten (and losing) even the ability to have
view because the atmosphere itself is so polluted that less
and less of
the stellar light passes through it to our eye.
This is what we observe - what we experience. What we think - what is our mental image or picture - having been formed by modern astronomical ideas, is that this endless emptiness is filled with objects like our own planet and solar system. But now we are discovering in this essay the possibility that deep space is not three dimensional at all. Cosmic space is a peripheral plane of light, alive with dynamic processes creating what? What is this new kind of space, the plane at infinity, from which stellar light pours down upon the Earth?
Lets take a
small side trip here, to
consider light itself. The book mentioned above, Catching
entwined history of light and mind,
remarkable detail and history. Keeping our projective
idea in mind, we might then make a relationship between the
has collapsed into a point, and what is now called light
photons. As mentioned above, these quanta exhibit all
properties that normally spacial (in a three dimensional
the world we see of trees
and clouds does not reveal the micro world of light quanta and
other many strange particles known to modern high energy
The scientist doesn't see much of this either, except
instruments and the image making powers of his mind.
We could say
(from our more naive point
of view - which has a special validity) that it is as if light
have stepped outside of time and space (this is one way of
the experiments with light show to us today through quantum
To help here, let me add another idea from projective
We know in
Euclidean geometry this
general rule: parallel lines never meet. In projective
(of which, remember, Euclidean geometry is a special case)
lines meet at infinity. To appreciate this better we
practice another imagination, for we can with our picture
follow quite easily in thought the wonderful paradox expressed
Picture two parallel lines (I can do this here):
Now imagine the
top line, in the center
of which is a point, rotating around that point.
example, the top line crossing the bottom line at about a 45
angle toward the left side of the page. As we rotate
further to the left, the angle of crossing gets smaller and
until at infinity it no longer crosses the line. Yet, if
rotating the line in the same direction of rotation, as soon
as it goes
the smallest possible distance further, the top line starts to
the bottom line at the farthest distance to the right.
When we couple
this idea with our
appreciation of the plane at infinity, we can with our
imagination feel (picturing it is hard, but logically we can
is right - and all these ideas have been proved by those
the rules of projective geometry using algebraic formulas and
calculations) that these two lines, which could be seen as
lines contained in a sphere, will at infinity arrive at the
on the plane at infinity, because as we saw before, when the
line of the sphere is infinite it is no longer a
space. The rounded sphere has become a plane, an all
plane to be sure, surrounding from the infinite periphery (the
universe imagined by cosmologists) all that was at one time
The surrounding geometric quality remains, but since space itself is transformed,
accomplishes a kind of paradoxical miracle.
To travel to
infinity in one direction
(in terms of the spherical three-dimensional nature of
means to return from the opposite direction, for once within the plane at infinity, the line that intersected
ever flattening arc of the sphere is now simultaneously a
point that is
everywhere. The point, in the center dimensionless,
first becoming a growing measureless sphere until it
becomes a plane. Our geometric imagination never has to
proper and logical train of geometrical thought. Once
on it: how the point
becomes a sphere and yet remains itself. Hast thou
the infinite sphere may be only a point, and then come again,
the Infinite will shine forth for thee in the finite." Rudolf Steiner.
If we then
appreciate that the night sky
is the plane at infinity, and that the measure we exported
earthly perspective is not valid out there in cosmic space,
light quanta, existing there outside of time and space,
us from this cosmic periphery, only becoming space-bound when within three-dimensional space. At
periphery, light quanta are not limited by the so-called speed
light, but are everywhere at the same time, yet somehow
for that is what we see, not just with the eye but with all
instruments as well.
towards us from the stellar
reality. If that reality is not spacial in the sense
previously assumed (rooted in three-dimensionally matter based
like suns and planets), then what is it? What can
the transitional space in between a true three-dimensional
the pure plane at infinity? If out there is not an empty space in which three
matter arises, what does arise there in that space that, like
infinitesimally small, will not allow itself to conform to
These are the questions that have to be faced if we apply projective geometry to the relationship between our Earth center, and the peripheral plane at infinity. If we look at the stellar phenomena, such as redshift, then what meaning can be attributed to that kind of existence which creates light that violates the rules we know at the Earth center?
would be better (disregarding
the word "deeper" above) to think of these objects as more
Life. The plane at infinity, as transformed space, reveals a high level of dynamic properties in
light radiations. Could that dynamism be Life? Why
think that and remain within reason?
happening out there that
comes here. Light is created out there and comes here.
science has made all kinds of pictures for us of what is
there, yet these pictures are not empirical, but entirely
Moreover, they are entirely material and assume that the
physics at cosmic distances will be the same as they are on
which already we have noticed is not justified for the very
If we work from
the idea of the plane at
infinity first (for which projective geometry grants us every
then we might ask whether or not space
itself is created out there.
We see the
light coming toward us from the cosmos, and we notice its
properties (all the various intensities of redshift, among
Quasars, neutron stars etc). If we discard measure
projective geometry doesn't need), then the plane at infinity,
inward radiating light is perhaps creating space itself, not
point center (such as the Big Bang), but from the cosmic
The plane at
infinity (transcendent of
matter oriented three dimensionality) creates three dimensional space and time, by radiating
inwardly from the cosmic periphery. Redshift is not old
receding, but its opposite - new light becoming space and
This is exactly the idea of a student of Rudolf
Adams Kaufmann, in his 1933 essay on cosmic theory (rooted in
projective geometry): Space and
the Light of Creation, which essay's
chapter is Radiation
Space (the second chapter is The Music of Number, and the third and last chapter is The Burden of Earth
Sacrifice of Warmth).
What kind of
power could create Space
itself? Our point centered assumptions, working from
quantities, have only been able to think of a spiritless
Universe, born in a Big Bang. Certainly, working
the cosmic periphery (the plane at infinity) which the new
gives us every right to do, what is that which can be out there that rays inwardly the creation of Space itself?
"...and in it was life
and the life was the light of the
world..." The power
(fiat lux - let there be light) surrounding the Universe, is
the Life creates the Light, and the Light rays inwardly
and Time, in the center of which the Earth of living matter
substance arises, itself a narrow spherical band, for Earth
only on the surface - go too deep and it is fire and there is
go too high and it is airless and again no life.
From the plane
at infinity, through the
inward plane-ward sculpted spheres of light, resting for a
the Earth periphery, where humanity unfolds its evolution,
eventually still collapsing to smaller and smaller spheres,
disappearing into pure point centered geometric intersections
of force and the mysterious light quanta we discover in our
experiments in quantum physics. But is it light
is born first in the cosmic periphery, and then flies inward
dying into very very tiny points from out which are built
according to the laws of
symmetry so essential to projective geometry, there be both a
similarity and a difference between the infinitely large and
infinitesimally small? If life is created at the cosmic
periphery, does it die into the very very small, only to be
instantaneously once more in the cosmic periphery?
our imaginative experiment with the parallel lines. If
space rules don't apply to light quanta (photons), this will
both at their point of first appearance and then again at
not quite right here.
The measureless sphere exists in between the infinitely
the infinitesimally small. Appearance and disappearance
same process in a way. Here again is Rudolf Steiner: "Think on it: how the
becomes a sphere and yet remains itself. Hast thou
the infinite sphere may be only a point, and then come again,
the Infinite will shine forth for thee in the finite."
Created out of
the uncreated and
formless, generating space and time, falling then inward
center from the periphery until collapsing into the
more of timeless and space-less point centers, before
instantaneously again to the cosmic infinite plane of life.
Arising out of the uncreated and formless nature of the
mysterious light quanta, radiating outward from an infinite
point centers, spreading out toward the cosmic periphery,
disappear into the remarkable spaceless and timeless plane at
A mystery aptly
caught in the image of a
mobile imagination of the gesture in space that creates the
know as the lemniscate.
all the mysterious facts
quantum mechanics has discovered, it seems that it is the mind
that determines the nature of the collapse from potential
(probability) into manifestation. Consciousness is
Without consciousness there is no manifestation,
probability. Could not a Larger more Infinite
exist at the Periphery, where time and space themselves are
manifested? Then too, if the Great Mind can do that,
what then is
involved in the small mind, when it thinks and acts so as to
own creative imagination and exact picture formation in
learning of and
practicing the measureless beauty of projective geometry?
Beginning was the Word, and the Word was toward God, and God
the Word was. It was with God in the Beginning.
happened through it, and not one thing that happened happened
out it. In it was life, and the life was the light of
advises us to pray: "Our Father in the skies..."
from the Greek of a part of
the prologue to the John Gospel, from the book, The
Gospels by Andy Gaus.
currently Natural Science
hasn't the capacity to appreciate such a change in their
of the Cosmos. But this book isn't written for
written for those Christians, who might like to have a sense
can still be deeply religious and not abandon the rational.
What we have
done, by the way, is look at
the image building processes of the fine minds at work in
science, which have created a kind of myth regarding the
- a myth quite different from that held by more ancient minds
long ago. We have not returned to those ancient myths so
taken up, out of the advancing progress of natural science
particular discipline (projective geometry, or all geometry),
applied it to move past the current astronomical myth to what
might well be the kind of truth the physicist pursues when he
his holy grail of the so-called: Theory of Everything.
of the Theory of Everything
rely on highly abstract mathematical complexities - a kind of
near-secret symbolic language only useful to the priests of
Science. Would it be possible to construct a Theory of
using ordinary language? Can the symbols of words on a
simple concepts, understandable by ordinary consciousness,
better Theory of Everything? May it not be necessary in
reintroduce qualities and mix those with quantities, if we are
going to have a true Theory of Everything? Doesn't such a Theory not only have to
consciousness, but our form of consciousness - why we live in
in between the very very large and the very very small?
constructed this essay in a way
that makes it possible for the naive consciousness to behold
own minds something that so far has been presented to the
world as a
secret mystery only knowable to the mathematical adepts of the
of natural science.
We live in a
time when there are to be no
more priests, of the religious or the scientific kind.
claims that the ordinary and naive mind has to be dependent on
for their understanding of the world and of the universe.
The Universe wants to be known, just as we want to be known. "You see, for now we look as if in a mirror, shrouded in mystery; but then we will see face to face. Now I partly discern; but then I will perceive the same way that I was perceived all along. And so we will have faith, hope and love, these three: but the greatest of these is love."*
*[Andy Gaus, Unvarnished
Testament - end of chapter 13, of
Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians.]
- many questions remain -
should consider that the above
has exhausted all the remarkable possibilities of projective
in advancing our understanding of the Nature World as it
both our senses and our scientific instruments.
All I have
really done is try bring to light aspects
of thinking and
the imagination that many don't yet appreciate.
Nor is the
above perfect by any means,
for it is clearly the work of an amateur. That fact,
should not stop us from going onward and asking all the many
that still need to be asked.
does the plane at infinity
collapse into one point, or into all points? We can
think of the
very smallest, as we observe them in the local conditions of
in our laboratory experiments, as a very huge number of such
centers. All matter and substance seems to be built up
light quanta, and other oddly named particles.
Now a plane,
which has no measure, is
infinite in all directions. It can also be
under the well known rules of projective geometry, of points.
There is, in this geometry, a plane of points, a
lines, a point of lines, a point of planes, and a line of
points and a
line of planes. If we recognize that the Plane at
made up of all possible points, then what keeps it from
toward our Earth-Center that which becomes all the many point
from which matter and substance arise. Once there, in
infinite number of point centers, that which has first
returns once more to the periphery. This our geometric
imagination can experience.
A deep study of
reveals several kinds of processes which arise according to
relationships of plane, line and point; or, the source or
light (the plane at infinity), light becoming space and time
of space) and light dying into the source once more through
collapse into the infinite number of point centers quantum
discovers. To this we add the process of that which
from point centers towards the periphery. In the light of
understanding this, we can come to
quite new conceptions of how
crystals grow, and what is happening at the growing point of a
Such work has been done, in fact, by the Goethean
pointed out in the above essays.
In addition to
these questions then we
are right to ask another: what is the nature of the space
occupied by the imagination
itself? We know this exists, and
only that it exists, but that we create it. We consciously create imaginative
ourselves. What are we that we can do something that has
kinship with the space and time creating activity of the
Mystery at the
Plane at Infinity?
"Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand." Albert Einstein [emphasis added, ed.]
- healing materialism -
The human being
possesses a remarkable
power in that he (or she) is able to make images and share
others. Meaning streams from
one to another upon this product of the
picture-thinking imagination. We are taught science out
image creation capacity. We tell the wonderful stories
ancestors out of this same image creation capacity. What
frequently don't do well, is find a way to be scientific about
image creating capacity itself.
Of all the
scientific disciplines that
will enhance this image building capacity, in a logically
fashion, it is the discipline of projective geometry (as
taught by such
as Whicher above) that will be the most fruitful.
same time, the human being is more than rationality - much
culture produces art and
religion, as well as science, ought to give us a significant
Whicher's book takes account of this, to a degree,
including a number of pictures of art, including religious
What is less appreciated is the role of human intention,
will, in all this (the will is the
point center of the
same consciousness which the quantum physicist recognizes is
the potential to collapse into the real).
At the end of
the main body of the essay
above, I tried to remind the reader that we are part of
Quantum mechanics has seen this, for the potential of
events only collapses into actual space and time when our
participates. The genius of Owen Barfield discusses participation in detail, in his book Saving
Appearances: a study in idolatry.
In this book,
through a wonderful
examination of what the deeper study of human languages can
Barfield shows us how there is an evolution of consciousness, to go along side the physical evolution so far
discovered. For Barfield, the quite ancient times could
participation. This was a time
human consciousness was instinctively one with reality, thus
birth to all the ancient myths.
faded away, giving us an intermediate state, called by
others): the on-looker
separation. Humanity is
out of the condition of original participation by the Gods
so that we can by this independence learn to experience our
our ego (self) consciousness. The on-looker
itself marked by special changes in language, in art and also
rise to natural science. It is as on-lookers
our role as thinking observers) that we build the images of
world, both earthly and cosmic, as only matter and never
But the natural world will not submit for long to that false view, and so quantum mechanics finds that it must reinsert human consciousness into its concepts of the basic physics of the world. With this now well established basic scientific knowledge, to which we can add the discipline of projective geometry (especially with its understanding of visual cones of light), the path is laid out of science itself toward what Barfield called then: final participation.
mechanics tells us that our
consciousness is needed for the potential to be able to collapse into the real.
Geometry tells us not just rules about the light cone
of physical space, but as well the light cone of internal
space. Rudolf Steiner's introspective science (outlined
in A Theory
of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World Conception and The
Philosophy of Freedom) shows us how
experience the world of image building (organic form) and
creation (pure thinking) in a fully mature participatory way.
At the same
time, I don't participate
solely as a rational being, but as a being to whom art and the
have meaning. If I add these dimensions of my being to
building and conceptual formulations, what kind of picture of
will I paint? Given this question, I will end with a
stories as a kind of demonstration.
mid-seventies I was traveling with
some friends in Northern California. We were a group of
and children, and during the day a few of the adults were
camp-parents, while the others were free to wander farther.
Thus I found myself, on the evening of the Summer
sitting on a beach in Northern California watching the Sun set
As the Sun set,
the sky slowly grew
darker and stars slowly appeared. This is what I
as I continued to watch the horizon where the Sun had set.
Together, as a group, at the precisely same arc of
of the ocean, there appeared three stars in a somewhat
The Sun goes down, and soon thereafter where it
went down a
vertical line of three stars appears.
Now the reader
should realize that I was
at that time quite convinced of the spiritual reality of
things, out of
my own direct experience. As a consequence, when I
our natural world I perceived it as a teaching. For example, we can observe that of all
inorganic and organic beings that appear in visual space,
there are a
variety of forms. Of this variety of forms, only
one shape, has hands that have been so creatively freed by our
to be able to stand upright.
being changes his living environment in profound ways.
upon the creation, as if it was within us that the creative
itself was slowly incarnating. To my thinking then,
a kind of dialog between the world of the senses and my own
(the teaching). Here I was on a beach watching the
itself a very special form (we receive light and heat from it
necessary for life - without the Sun we do not live). As
form set on the Summer Solstice, the first stars to appear
teachers), were three.
This then is
what the teaching sang to me
on that beach: one becomes three. So the Mystery of the
was written right there in the most simple events of the world
senses. One becomes Three.
light became slightly dimmer,
and not too soon thereafter, above the three was four, in the
a kind of box, standing on one of its corners above the last
the three. The One becomes Three and then Four is added
Seven. Those who know what is sometimes called the
significance of Numbers will recognize here all manner of
about which nothing more need be said. (for the more
fixed of mind, the Sun set and in the order described, the
constellation of the Great Bear emerged, standing on its tail
same place on the horizon the Sun had set on the night of that
particular Summer Solstice - yet this constellation did
appear all at once, but in a very definite sequence as the day
faded and the night lights manifested themselves).
In this way I
was initiated more deeply
into the Mystery of the Night Teachers, and while I wished my
would have allowed me to study over many decades this teaching
we noted not just the starry sky, but when and in what order the stars emerged, I did then realize that those
observed from such as Stonehenge saw a world of wonder we have
yet to fully appreciate.
similar picture. If the
shape of the sense world is from a Creator, and this Creator
profound Mystery that we have hardly yet begun to appreciate
all the He
has done and is doing, should we be surprised by the manner
of the teaching that awaits us both within and without?
Consider, sunrise and sunset.
happens all over the world everyday, and has done so for eons.
If we, as an aspect of final participation, re-ensoul the world of the senses with being and consciousness, might we not then begin to see that when the Sun sets, when the shape representing (in its speaking-teaching) the Highest of the Mystery, recedes from our sight, at that moment the stars, one by one and then in groups, slowly emerge, slowly appear in the dark and by their order of appearing and by the shapes and forms they thereby render, they can be seen as singing praises to this Highest. He sets, and they rise and sing.
Then the night
ends, the regular
night-singing has passed, and as the Sun begins to once more
shed Its light and warmth and life on humankind, the stars
kneeling down, in groups and then one by one, they give way to
which they honor above all else. Yet, this is not all.
For the shape
of time and space, of stars
and suns and the world of humankind, is also teaching. We are there too, and what are we, we
beings, that the Highest and all the Angels look down upon us
surround us and gift us with such Love we hardly appreciate
Not just that but more, for we are not only looked down
Above, but we are also carried through cosmic space by the
Father Sky and Mother Earth - as the world's oldest peoples
cultures well know.
The dark moist
earth is the Mother, from
which all that grows and nourishes flows. The waters
life, the very air we need to breath. There in the
of all, looked down upon by Father Sky, upheld and nourished
Womb of Mother Earth, sits the human being, the upright shape
hands and the creative and curious mind. That is the
question of final participation: Who
recent news concerning Red Shift
Sept. 12, 2008
Port Angeles, Wa. This
week, dozens of leading astronomers,
researchers and other scientists from around the globe met
Cosmology conference. The conference provided eight
of experts in every facet of cosmology including the reality
expansion, quasars, dark matter, dark energy, black holes,
true nature of the microwave radiation from space. One
his presentation live from Germany using video-link
Organizer Tom Van
Flandern said This was a thrilling
success. We heard and discussed three new mechanisms
redshift and a new equation modifying our understanding of
any of the redshift proposals passes experimental tests that
we do not have an expanding Universe; that the Big Bang
theory would be
without its strongest foundation.
Physicist John Hartnett
from the University of Western
Australia said its amusing that our conference occurred
just as they
fire up the Hadron Collider in Europe. Most of our
the deep problems with the Big Bang while a 40 billion
starts up to trying to find an elusive particle to keep the
story from collapsing.
in the light from galaxies led to the belief that
the universe is expanding, and this belief has persisted for
But modern observational evidence, especially from NASA
Agency space telescopes and satellites, has clouded the
raised many doubts. In 2004, an open letter was published in
New Scientist magazine,
and has since been
signed by over 500 endorsers. It begins: The big bang
today relies on
a growing number of hypothetical entities, things that we
observed-- inflation, dark matter and dark energy are the
prominent examples. Without them, there would be a fatal
between the observations made by astronomers and the
predictions of the
big bang theory. In no other field of physics would this
recourse to new hypothetical objects be accepted as a way
the gap between theory and observation. It would, at the
serious questions about the validity of the underlying
From the many lines of evidence presented at the conference, It now appears that those concerns were justified. Presenters also outlined the principles that a good cosmology should be based on. Chief among them is that it should not require a series of miracles to remain viable.
the Natural Christian
the world is full of people whose heart
is Christian through and through, but who
cannot, with good justification, grant themselves
for that name has been stolen by others
this is for them
part one: how may we describe the consciousness of an ordinary human being, in ordinary terms?
part two: what does Science Believe it Knows about Consciousness?
part three: ordinary consciousness studies itself.
part four: Is Science Limited to its Present Methods of Investigation?
part five: the psychology of the moral life of a natural Christian.
part six: the relationship of Natural Science to Thinking.
part seven: the relationship of the natural Christian to thinking.
part eight: culmination and integration: becoming scientific about our own consciousness and self-consciousness.
part nine: arguments with God; a personal view, offered ...
addendum: BICYCLES - a
Christmas Story, which is also for Adults -
- introduction -
First ... I
can't answer all questions
here, but I'll try to point out some things that might be
people, especially those who say something like: well, I'm not
I am spiritual.
What I have
in mind here, by the idea of
a Natural Christian, could even include Sam Harris, the
author of the End of
Faith, who believes himself to be
more of a
atheist, than a religious person. The God he
described in most religious texts (especially as interpreted
practiced by modern individuals who consider themselves to
of Christian Faith) seems to him to be completely
think Harris is quite justified in this view.
of religion, by many who
name themselves Christians, is often irrational, and what is
worse - even more often hypocritical. This is not to
the way, that anyone who calls themselves Christian is of
tendency. The reality is more difficult to apprehend
and come to
terms with. Which is why this essay is being
written - to
help anyone who stumbles upon it to perhaps orient their own
life with greater surety of purpose.
One of the
peculiarities of the present
time, especially with connection to those organized
institutions that call themselves Christian, is that while
many who have beliefs, few actually practice the teachings.
actually follow the teachings of Christ, as most anyone who
read the Gospels knows, is rather difficult. A
lot is asked
consequence of this difficulty,
Christianity has become today mostly a system of beliefs,
different institutions espousing radically different points
from the Roman Catholic Church to the Church of Jesus Christ
Day Saints (the Mormons). Holding beliefs is a lot
following those oh so difficult teachings. Not to say
weren't a lot of people who tried to follow the teachings,
it just that
a lot of them got killed for heresy* by the Roman Church, or
agreed (submitted) to correct institutional doctrine, had to
living in domiciles for the members of Religious Orders
and Heretical Christianity,
with this essay in the book: New
systems of belief became rigid
(rules and doctrines and dogmas), one could ask whether this
value at all. This question really has
one considers the meaning of Faith in the psychology of a
In the prologue to the Gospel of John, we find these
lines: "...There was a man sent from
God, whose name was John. He came for testimony, to
to the light, that all might believe through him.
not the light, but came to bear witness to the light."
understood this: "Blessed are those who have
not seen and yet have believed."
Most religions make a great deal of the idea of
perhaps get confused when they insist that it has to be
Faith in their
version or system of beliefs. Even Harris, mentioned
called his book, the End of
Faith, but if you read him
carefully, he is
actually highly critical of beliefs. We could
people today don't understand the distinction, or the
to all this by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 13: "And now these three
faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is
love." Faith is as much an
act of trust in the Divine
Mystery, as it is anything else. To equate Faith,
however, with a
system of beliefs, is to mistake the superficial (beliefs)
depths of religious practice (Faith).
Why can I
people today don't
It is mostly
a question of the difference
between reading about something in a book, and learning to
it - to practice it. Obviously we can recognize
person who reads all kinds of books about the martial arts,
great deal less than a person who has become a master of
practice. The same is true in religion.
religion in a book, and actually practicing it for a
lifetime, are two
very different things.
goes to Church on Sunday and
prays the Lord's Prayer in public (as most Christian
doesn't understand the first thing about the Sermon on the
very clearly says to say the Our Father in secret. Out
in secret. To actually follow Christ's instructions
example, about the mote and the beam in the Sermon on the
the same way the practice of martial arts leads to experience.
No pain, no
gain is the modern cliche.
Same is true in religion. Its easy to have
system. Its comforting. It doesn't ask too much.
hang out with a bunch of folks who all believe the same
Sort of like a club. Thing is Christ
join a club. In fact He said kind of the opposite: He who loves father
more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or
that me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his
follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life
it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.
receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives
him who sent
course, there's the example.
You know the one. Preaching what was essentially
a bunch of
ideas contrary not only to the dominant local religion
time (according to the Hebrew Priesthood), but also all
kinds of social
ideas not exactly in accord with how Rome conducted its
business. We know not to talk at dinner about
politics. Christ didn't seem to know that one.
thought the truth was more important. Then they killed
well in the beginning
anyway, there were a lot of people running around telling
news, telling the story. Churches were founded (of a
Women were often leaders. The story didn't
the beliefs of the Hebrew religion. Disciples were
for religious reasons and political. People,
people, liked the story. It was impressive.
Disciples were impressive. The Romans were often jerks
and the Hebrew priests often hypocrites.
Emperor Constantine, who
unites the declining Roman Empire with some of the bishops
of the emerging Christian Church.
Institutional politics and institutional religion make
authoritarian bed partners, and the teachings of Christ
already started, but here it gets serious) getting
For example, the Gospels, in the original Greek,
the word sin (the Greek word means missing the mark, or
error). Where Christ (again in the Greek) says
you are to
love God with all your mind and all your heart and all your
spirit, the Roman Church drops the idea of an
and substitutes the idea of the soul (you are to love your
God with all
your heart and all your mind and all your soul).
only that, but the New Testament gets organized,
leaving out a whole bunch of books that talk about things
(how to have direct experience of the Divine Mystery), as
Faith. I could go on.
certain personalities try to
refocus on what Christ actually said and did, and that maybe
be worried about living the way he taught, and no so worried
whether our system of ideas is officially approved by the
head guy (and
his cohorts) in Rome (or other places). The so-called
religion slowly more an more loses its connection with what
actually taught. Yet...
ideas have become part of the
general cultural background of Western Civilization.
arises, those who want the truth instead of doctrine again
martyrs to the truth, only this time to the truths of
science, which in
the beginning was just another heresy to the Roman Church.
getting the picture yet?
Now not everyone in an organized Church is a fool, or stupid. Many scientists are quite religious, in all kinds of ways. Kepler was an astrologer. Newton was an alchemist. Faraday was a deeply religious Christian. Einstein, born a Jew, reacted to the probability theory in quantum mechanics by saying: that God doesn't play dice with the universe.
A lot of
people get turned off to
organized religion, yet are very concerned about what they
The belief systems are weird (as Sam Harris and others
observed), but even the new atheists are inclined to ethics.
scientists are so convinced that people are often moral,
that they try
to find a way to explain this using evolutionary psychology
(which believes something
got hardwired into the brain in evolution,
including moral behavior, which has to have a survival
utility, or so
it is often assumed).
If we look at
what people do, and not
just at what they believe, we often find that many people
do the right thing. While some find the idea of
thing as an aspect of their religious beliefs, many others
decide for themselves what is right to do.
of moral relativism, and find evil where their particular
interpretation of morality is violated (mostly biblical -
that is in a
so-called holy book, which as we know was very much edited
institutions with other agendas). Even though warned
mote and the beam, preachers of absolute biblical moral
(e.g. all abortions are murder), still don't get
and all beliefs, is not
following Christ. You follow Christ, you get in
You join a comfortable club, you get to hate everyone
in it with you. Apocalyptic end times eschatology
based. Its human mistrust of the actual world, and a
delusion that only the true believer has it all right.
of us can go to hell, literally.
So are there
real Christians out there?
Of course, and many are in organized Churches.
this other group. People with a personal ethic,
that if you
trace the history of their particular ideals, you'll end up
influence of Christ's teachings on Western Civilization.
is that because the
institutional Churches made a primacy of belief (instead of
the focus of modern critics has been on the irrationality of
in the beliefs. The Churches have leaned far too
rigid doctrines, and not having actually practiced the
Christ, don't have a clue where the real meat is.
Where's the beef?
said the lady in the commercial. In the
practice folks. Want to know the real meaning of
Christ taught - follow the teachings.
In a sense
there is a considerable
difference between a world view or a cosmology
(thus the arguments between creationists and neo-Darwinian
evolutionists) and the experiences provided by the practice. Our ideas and beliefs about the
questions of reality are one thing, while the religious life (the practices) are quite another.
scientists are right to question (as they did 500 years ago
natural philosophy first appeared), whether the
by the Roman Church (and other similar religious
true. What is the truth about human origins is one
How do I be a moral person (should I so choose)
The truly odd
thing, however, is that if
one really practices the teachings a new state of being
In the cultural
East, this is seen as the pursuit
of enlightenment. In the cultural West,
the following of
the teachings of Christ will lead to a related state of
being, but one
which is more appropriately called: initiation. The John Gospel, for example, is a
a path of initiation - a path leading to Gnosis or direct
experience of the Mystery (when we are practicing, that is
moral, our life more and more takes on the following
washing the feet, the scourging, the crowing with thorns,
the cross, the crucifixion, the entombment, and the
resurrection - that is, the true
moral life becomes a Path or Way).
In the midst
of these apparently
conflicting views over cosmology and the goals of the
there are the countless biographies of ordinary people,
are living in the East or the West in the wider cultural
reference. What does all this mean for them?
being a member of a church have anything at all to do with
life of the individual heart?
the reader will appreciate
that there are many questions, some a bit strange, others
quite down to
earth and practical. This essay (and booklet), the
Christian, seeks to shed some
on these questions. Hopefully this process will
reader as well as initiate them into the deeper aspects of
Christian religious mysteries, without leaving behind the
nature of the human mind.
In order to
proceed carefully, and
logically, it will be necessary to give some order to the
themes to be
elaborated. This book then takes the course of
can always fail) to proceed by sticking to knowable facts as
possible, well all the while not forgetting that even though
we may be
involved in very practical aspects of human psychology, we
have living in us fundamental questions due to our
experience of the
teachings of natural science.
This then is
the basic structure - to
alternate the subject matter of the chapters or parts.
start with psychology, of the sort everyone can appreciate,
move to the scientific riddles which so enchant us.
personal questions and wider questions of meaning and
will then be elaborated in the different parts, in a kind of
To make this
all a little more concrete,
consider the following:
We all know,
in ourselves, that we have
something we call: mind. We think,
of our thinking we make decisions. Scientists
as do psychologists. So one kind of question is very
concerns our own understanding of our own inner life, or
How do we operate our decision making process? Not
do we think (the content), but how do we think?
Is there somewhere an operating
manual for the mind, and how do we make moral decisions with
mind and remain free? That would be the theme of the
sequence of parts would concern
the wider questions. Where does mind come from?
is the relationship between consciousness and the physical
Are we only matter, or are we also spirit?
these many questions in mind, let us begin...
How may we describe the consciousness
of an ordinary human being,
in ordinary terms?
One of the
interesting things life has
taught me is that quite often the simplest matters are the
important. Not only that, it is frequently the case
simplest matters are subjects about which there is sometimes
there is sleeping and
waking. This, it would seem, is all very obvious, but
as we go forward in this first part, the reader will
these obvious and simple matters, when carefully thought
about, can be
When we are
awake, that is conscious,
certain processes go on within our minds. When
these process may or may not cease, but at the very least it
that we are unaware of them. Certain kinds of
cause unconsciousness. We can also faint from
right, and then experience momentary unconsciousness.
So we know
two quite different states.
Being awake and being unconscious. Yes, there
but keep in mind that dreams have a number of odd
In them we are aware, but of what.
The world of
dreams is quite unlike the world we know when we are truly
awake in the
When we are
conscious in a normal way, we
are conscious of some object. We experience through the senses. We hear
things, smell smells and so forth. We are also aware
states - things others can't see. Our thoughts for
example - no
one (apparently) sees/knows our thoughts, but us.
We are also
aware of our self as a
subject. We are ourselves, and then there is the
is not us. So there is not only, when we are
experience, but also that which experiences. Most of us call that which experiences
We say: I saw the cat scratch the dog. Or,
experienced a certain idea.
We also have
feelings, which also tend to
be invisible, but sometimes these are so expressive that
read them in our face, or in our posture. Of
know well, we could notice when they are angry or afraid.
times we need to speak of our feelings, for others to know
times of developing intimate
relationships, our anxiety over the possibilities will make
tied. We have thoughts and feelings of which we are
but we can't express them. Our language is full
descriptive phrases as tongue tied.
continue the example, we have to hold in our anger we might
had to bite my tongue.
We could say
that we have both an outside
(which others experience through their
senses) and an inside which only our I experiences.
wonderful phrases: you can't tell a book by its cover. Or, beauty is only skin deep.
waters run deep.
Now we all
know these very simple things,
don't we. Our whole social life and a great deal of
takes account of these very simple observations.
things get interesting is when we try for more detail,
we go for more detail about the experience of our inner
world by our
Some of this
is also embedded in our
language, although occasionally in odd kinds of ways.
for example, the word insight.
We can even
describe a person as insightful.
We also speak
of some people as bright, or that
someone had a bright idea. In
a cartoon, when a character has a bright idea
the cartoon has a picture of a light bulb going off above the
person's head. Then there is the word enlightened.
another word: intuition. We
also speak of gut feelings.
Some people today, who a few decades ago would
have described themselves as a psychic, will now call
themselves an intuitive. In a
recent New Yorker magazine I just read there
is an article called: The Eureka
why do good
ideas come to us when they do? (by
Of course we
have such words as:
thinking, thoughts, ideas, concepts and so forth. Our
rich, and somewhat mysterious, for while we have learned
more and more
about the brain (see the next chapter), the scientists of
still have to confess that they do not know just quite how
brain produces this assumed subjective state known as
much less why we have this sense of the I itself (self-consciousness).
Oh, there are plenty of theories,
but real accurate scientific knowledge
is hard to come by.
Now lets take
the mystery all the way out
there, as far as it can go (perhaps), with this quote from
the Gospel of Luke: "The kingdom of God doesn't come with
watching like a
hawk, and they won't say, Here it is, or There it is,
because you know
what? the kingdom of God is inside you."
Gospels, by Andy Gaus. [emphasis
among scholars of the Gospels
(and the Bible in general) the version above is disputed
disputed in the Bible?). Recall, however, from the
the difference I pointed toward with making a distinction
systems of belief (which has to include any effort at interpretation), and what is learned by practice. If we
writings of the truly religious, as against the writings of
believers, what Christ says in Luke above makes a lot more
Serious practitioners of Christ's teachings have experiences via their inside.
So that we
may make one fundamental
question obvious: Do good ideas come from God?
be one reasonable question, although there are many many
This being the case, perhaps we should now move
to a short
part more explicitly on science, since many readers will be
familiar with those ideas concerning these kinds of
What does Science Believe
it Knows about
thing we have to recognize is
two general assumptions common to scientific thinking in
this field of
interest. They are somewhat related.
1) The world
only consists of physical
matter and all phenomena will be discovered to the based
2) The mind
and consciousness are
products of the nervous system in the human being,
physical brain. (although no one presently has a
explanation for how the physical brain produces
A lot of
behavior is also thought to be
rooted in our evolutionary past. The general idea here
through processes of natural selection, various behaviors
wired in the brain, or are the result of a similar process
the genetic level. Again, in these ideas science is
with the result that solely physical explanations are
arrived at for
how and why we act as we do.
theorists even go so far to say that
self-consciousness (our sense of an I) is an illusion
electro-chemical processes in the brain. We really
don't have an
I according to this view, it is just a convenient illusion
by the brain for the purpose of ... well, here the
(theories) get a bit fuzzy.
mentioned above (the Eureka
Hunt) describes some current
certain aspects of the method used in that work are quite
Various individuals are wired up to EEGs or put in MIR
both at the same time), and then images (or other kinds of
experience) are shown to them, while the scientist records
which parts of the brain show greater activity when
stimulated in this
way. In the essay in the New Yorker they showed their
puzzles, and tried to map what happened in the brain when
had a "aha!" moment when they solved the puzzle.
Science has also
worked with people with various defects and injuries, where
seems not to function normally (in part), and thus this data
the total pictures created.
modern scientific research
into consciousness takes this same general path.
studied and data accumulated. The scientist approaches
subject through his own senses, stimulating the subject and
electrical and other physical changes in the brain.
are of course also purely psychological
often in the form of interviews, but again the scientist
comes to the experiment with a
certain formal approach.
We need to keep in mind that research of this kind is held to certain standards (unless it is part of government black operations or similar secret and probably illegal corporate research); and, we also need to keep in mind that in most scientific disciplines funding is needed. A lot of research on the brain is also done by looking at the chemistry. The basic question here is what happens in the nerve cells at this level. The pharmaceutical industry supports, or itself carries out, a lot of this research, especially with regard to developing medications for what we call: mental illness. Multiple motives drive the nature of this research - it is not always purely done for the purposes of seeking the truth.
of the work, legitimate and
otherwise, is extraordinary. Detailed maps of the
brain have been
created. Left hemisphere, right hemisphere, spacial
skills, language areas, what happens when we think, what
we run - the terminology is almost endless.
the two assumptions mentioned
above are the overriding ideas determining everything else.
very tricky problem of causality (what causes what) is not
understood. For example:
"It is old hat to
say that the brain is responsible for
mental activity. Such a claim may annoy the likes of Jerry
the Ayatollah, but it is more or less the common
educated people in the twentieth century. Ever since the
revolution, the guiding view of most scientists has been
about the brain, its cells and its chemistry will explain
states. However, believing that the brain
behavior is the easy part: explaining how is quite another." (Mind Matters: How the Mind and Brain
Create Our Conscious Lives, Michael S. Grazzanica Ph.D. pp
Mifflin, Boston 1988). [Emphasis added]
and, from the
"A thought can
change brain chemistry, just as a physical
event in the brain can change a thought."*
Michael, I think you goofed
here. If a thought can change brain chemistry,
the thought if not the I? Oh, yes well, don't actually
do you. We'll come back to this riddle later.]
Now this book
quoted above is 20 years
old, but these problems remain unresolved today.
years of research into consciousness has not rescued natural
from the mystery of how the brain produces consciousness and
self-consciousness. Of course as Grazzanica admits
above, for the
working scientist this causal problem is resolved by a common assumption. Mind and brain are assumed to be one
scientist has not yet asked
the right question, because his assumption stands in the way
There is one
very very big peculiarity in
modern consciousness research. The dominant thinking
tiny exceptions) assumes that the present nature of
will yield results, and further this thinking acts more or
less as if
nobody ever studied consciousness before.
This last is
a major paradox.
Human beings have always wondered about their
any look at the history of human thought, in the cultural
West and the
cultural East, finds not just all kinds of philosophical
of mind in great detail, but also rather elaborate
the fundamental truth of mind is sought to be known through
essentially experiments (practices that teach).
There is a
What the older mind sciences do is something
in relationship to modern consciousness studies. Mind,
disciplines, is studied from the inside, not from the outside.
Those who lead
the consciousness studies in modern natural science look
person as a subject to be studied. The more
far wiser), and some modern disciplines, require of the
subject that he
said the Greeks. The Zen Master practices
meditation daily for hours. The Carmelite Nun
hours every day. A serious student of Anthroposophy (a
Christ-oriented spiritual discipline) spends years thinking
thinking. All study their inside, although the methods differ.
consciousness studies itself
shocked, we already do this.
Who is more curious about our self than us? If
there is a
limit, it is a bit natural too. Most of us forget our
with all its "who
am I" questions, ambiguities and
uncertainties. We are, as we grow psychologically, inventing our self. We
participate, as an I, in the construction of
our personality. If we can stand the pain of
time in our psychological development (adolescence), we can
aware in detail just exactly how we constructed our
personality - how
we created a kind of mask by which we lent to the world one
who we are, and kept private a great deal of the rest.
There is a
lot that shapes this, of which I'll remind the reader soon,
make this first point as clear as possible.
or instinctive elements of
psychological growth run out of steam in our 20's.
This is why so
many adult men and women seem to remain emotional children.
degree this is an artifact of culture. If our cultural
experiences don't teach us that we can continue to grow and
psychologically mature, we end up just letting the
development of our
personality become fixed - become a set of habits.
itself grows and develops.
What we remember as the 1960's was (among much
explosion of ideas whose essential common center (from
of view) was that we could continue to grow spiritually
psychologically. We take up meditation.
to encounter groups. We join AA. We
therapy. The result is that there is a near endless
transformative processes in which people can be engaged
do more than one.
Sometimes they'll do several at the same time, and
they will do them serially - one at a time, but still be
involved in personal
growth. Those who didn't do
often make fun of it. Stuck in their own
they talked of the me generation, or new agers, or moral
family values or culture wars - demonstrating all kinds of
label the natural curiosity to become something more and
possessed by others, as some kind of defect.
are afraid of change, and
they seek others of a like taste and relationship to life.
form different kinds of clubs, and these clubs often resist
movement of culture and of human nature. Many of
clubs sought to label themselves as Christian, or found in
Christian sects a warm safe home. At a psychological
they really were looking for was something fixed, just as
personality was fixed. Some even went culturally
They tried to bring alive in the present
something of the
past. The ambiguities of the 1960's frightened such
they wanted the family to be just like their romantic idea
taken from television) of family life in the 1950's or
Once you take
such a view, which is at
its roots driven from fear of change, it becomes easy to use
like the Bible to provide justification for the need.
our society itself devolves into factions - those moving
holding still and those trying to run backwards.
this are fundamental
questions, which some are willing to face as they mature,
others can only find comfort in relationship to, if they
hold still and
get answers from the outside. They don't want to think
their own beliefs, they want to be told what to believe.
Who am I?
What am I? Why do I
exist? What do I believe? How do I find
How do I find comfort? How do I avoid
How do I be moral?
questions began for many in
adolescence as our own thinking woke up. We
hungered, we were uncertain. It was so painful finding our self in the midst of
all those hormonal changes and inner
psychological developments. Our parents wanted
and our teachers another. So did our friends.
Everyone around us had an idea of who we were
be. But what about me - what did I want?
knows today that their High
School experience seriously sucked. It sucks even
since we live within a culture with a lot of aspects which
and dying. When I was an adolescent (the
1950's), the world
wasn't so sexualized or so full of drug temptations. I
raised five children through adolescence now, and it always
what they have had to face - the older ones with less
troubles of a
certain kind, the younger with issues I never could have
possible. The miracle, however, is that they seem
handle these experiences. I would not be able to do
what they do,
for they endure a much tougher adolescence (rite of passage
today is accelerated.
The structure of society is falling apart. In
in my work I write of this time being the end of Western
Whether you buy that or not, I don't think many
today think we live in simple times. Who we are
by this social context. The context pushes more
questions at us.
If we reflect on this we can see that there seem to be
My self understanding is
influenced by my cultural experience.
One of those simple things, that we know in such
way, is perhaps far more important a fact then we realize.
will return to this later.
Is Science Limited to its
Present Methods of
away from the direct study of
consciousness by science, and take a look at modern physics,
particular quantum theory and mechanics. If one
how basic aspects of science advance, physics is generally
edge. As a general observation we could say that
sometimes as much as 30 or more years before a discipline,
microbiology for example, is able to integrate into its
ideas what the physicists have already learned.
One of the
more interesting scientists to
look at this is the mathematician Roger Penrose. To
call him a
mathematician is a bit lame in a way, but he is quite
skilled at the
pure and abstract thinking of a leading mathematician.
takes these skills and tries to integrate knowledge from
disciplines. At the same time he is very open
He is more interested in discovering the truth than he
proving a favorite theory can't be touched or changed.
For example, in his book The Emperor's New Mind he wrote (in 1989):
"It seems clear to
me that the importance of aesthetic
criteria applies not only to the instantaneous judgments of
inspiration, but also to the much more frequent judgments we
the time in mathematical (or scientific work) Rigorous
usually the last step! Before that, one has to make many
for these, aesthetic convictions are enormously important..."
"...I cannot help
feeling that, with mathematics the case
for believing in some kind of ethereal, eternal existence,
at least for
the more profound mathematical concepts, is a good deal
A very open
this early book, which was
rather popular, Penrose began to speculate that what goes on
brain, if connected to ideas about quantum states of matter,
begin to explain consciousness. These were
but lets look a little at quantum theory to see what it says
substance or matter, for after all the brain is matter and
assumption of science is that consciousness arises from
matter to modern physics?
If you've never run into these ideas, don' worry.
they are a bit strange if you are not familiar with them.
same we need to dip into the past a little bit, for a lot of
out of earlier ideas.
it used to be thought that
at the fundamental smallest level of matter there was a
object. Very tiny yes, but you could with
perhaps see it. Some scientists even did (or
did). But then the idea of fields came into play (Faraday). You
know, like the
magnetic field that organizes a bunch of iron filings.
There is no tiny thing there, in the field.
anything that enters the field is affected by it.
The next idea
was that when we spoke of a
particle (like the kinds of particles that are smaller than
from which atoms are made) this particle was a result of the
intersection of various fields. Where the fields
this point in space (which was not fixed, but moved)
penetrated. So while a rock, for example, seems very
full of what it is made of, in reality it is mostly empty
punctuated by intersections of fields of force.
sub-atomic particle began to be more and more conceived of
as no longer
a thing occupying space, but as a dynamic (moving and
point center created by intersecting fields of force.
with photons (split beam
experiments and the like) suggested some very odd ideas.
Indeterminacy theory emerges, and theorists decide you
predict anything at this level anymore. Its all
probabilities. (Thus Einstein's comment that God
dice with the Universe - he couldn't believe these ideas).
only is matter mostly empty space (that is there is no there
but even worse, whatever it is, it only exists as a
potential, as a
probability. It might be here, it might be there.
definitely isn't yet. Something has to intervene
probability collapses into definiteness. For something
actually be, and to have a there (mass
or being-ness and position
or there-ness) consciousness has to influence
followed carefully the
examination of smaller and smaller conditions of matter
disappeared, first into the interactions of fields of
mysterious forces, and then
finally into conditions of indeterminacy. Of potential. Of not yet.
constant state of becoming, in which the I or self-consciousness of
the experimenter was the final contributing factor.
from potential into manifestation only arises when the
goes looking for either the being-ness (position) or the
(movement) of an object, which to his mind has none of those
qualities* until he acts).
spite of its efforts to
deal only with data that could be counted and measured, that
only quantities (but never qualities),
has been unable to
fully abandon qualities (being-ness
and there-ness). In spite of
generations of effort to eliminate the subjectivity of the
well, physics has ended up discovering that this very
essential to maintain its present line of experiments.
subject we'll take up in more detail later.]
One thing is
certain, if you read what
these physics writers try to say about consciousness.
don't know much about it. They mostly live in
assumptions as those scientists studying consciousness
the outside - which is that at some point we must figure out
show consciousness emerging from the matter (which
doesn't become determined without consciousness?). Did
fundamental level there is a huge
circular system of reasoning (a tautology) at the root
modern quantum physics and theories about how the brain
consciousness. We study the brain, but can't
figure out how
it makes consciousness from matter. We study matter
that it needs consciousness to become determined. Yet,
consciousness itself we are very very ignorant.
consciousness directly, but we
never study what is right before us in our own minds.
We study it
indirectly, using others as subjects, but avoid our own
Perhaps there is a reason for that.
the psychology of the moral life
of a natural
difficulty for those engaging in
the self study of their own mind is those nasty moral
Right at the beginning of such a study we already know
dark within. That is, if we have what is called:
conscience (some folks don't appear to have one).
of facing the own shadow is what keeps many from being
willing to look
partially why Alcoholics
Anonymous has the forces for true change it has.
Steps help you take that journey of facing the dark inside.
Hitting bottom is a life experience that tends
people up and confront them with a choice. Do I take
(particularly my inner life) in hand,
or do I just continue to let it spiral
out of control, destroying all those I love in its wake.
are powerful moral questions, and the process of AA's Twelve
walks you through this minefield in a very healthy way.
The fact is
that AA is universally valid
as a Path, and need not be confined to just people with
addictions and flaws. Everyone is flawed,
lot of so-called Christians, for example, are addicted
love with and hooked on certain systems of belief, by which
many others are harmed). There could well be a
recovery group for
former fake Christians. Lets look at the Twelve Steps
a bit and
see if we can appreciate their deeper nature.
twelve Disciples, twelve
Signs of the Zodiac. One Sun in the Center, shedding
warmth on All.
certain point of view, the Twelve
Steps can be conceived of as three processes, through which
the soul is
mastered (its dark and its light integrated - healed and
These three processes elevate the spirit for the
mastery of the
soul. The self-consciousness (the spirit) becomes awake in
consciousness (the soul). What was fallen in the soul
redeemed, by the forces of the own I.
The first stage of this total process is surrender.
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol -- that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a
searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
part of surrender is directed
at our egotistical idea that we can, out of the present
state of being
of our own I, rule our life of soul, in particular its
The second part of surrender is to recognize
other than our own I can help us. The third part
surrender is to choose to include this other-ness consciously as a force within. The
fourth part is
to surrender the I's defenses of its own dark truths about
In a way the 4th Step and the 1st form a circle.
surrender phase (and keep in mind
people don't always get it the first time or the tenth time)
around ourselves, trying to create a true attitude of
surrender to the
truth. Admitted powerlessness, sought help from
greater, let this something greater have more influence over
than our own egotism, and began the work of understanding
(too much I, not enough Thou) in brutally self-honest
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a
list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to
make amends to
learned surrender, we now move
away from egotism toward the Thou, via the higher nature of
In this process surrender becomes confession and
contrition. We include others - we confess to
another and to God as we understand him (maintaining our
think for ourselves). We ask for help. And, we
get ready to
face our responsibilities. This is the central
it takes us away from our self as the egotistic center of
our life, and
involves us in community. Confession and
us better social beings. AA is a social process
- we don't
do it alone, but as part of something greater.
In a certain
way this gesture of movement
away from self and toward community is the heart of the
It is clearly, to those who actually become able to
it, the hardest step of all, and the one most difficult to
We don't get perfect. We don't
We continue to have a dark inside, as well as a
Yet, to help us maintain (continue one day at a time
recovery), we have the process of the last four Steps.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we
carry this message to others, and to practice these
principles in all
of the last four Steps is:
practice leading to service. We need a daily
as a monk or nun, or meditating Zen student needs. One
day at a
time, - but to do that we have a form as it were - a Way of Life.
The beginner in AA is encourage to do 90
in 90, that is to make 90 meetings in 90 days. A lot
well into their recovery and able to help others go
things get tough, you go more than once a day.
get really tough in the dark of the night, you call your
your sponsor and they will come and sit with you.
We don't have
to be alone in our trials.
We redeem the
past, and as there is
always more past as we walk into our future, and as we are
and not recovered, we will continue to screw up.
stop making amends, we just get used to being occasionally
(making mistakes and missteps) and learn how to deal with
processes. Surrender. Confession and
(social acts as part of a community).
and Service. If you re-read
the steps you will see that 4 and
5 together meditate between those two processes, while 8 and
mediate between those two processes.
a Way, everyone.
We think of it as our routine. A prisoner
routine as does his jailer. The wonderful movie Groundhog
Day is a beautiful modern fable of
be done if we take the right attitude to the Day.
movie understands that we do wake up everyday the same
person, and that
there is no change or development (growth past the end of
unless we use each given Day to move, one step at a time,
forward on our Way.
the relationship of Natural Science
Recall Grazzanica above:
"A thought can
change brain chemistry, just as a physical
event in the brain can change a thought."
We now need to explore more carefully the paradox observed here by a leading neurophysiologist, as that might illuminate the problem of causality in our thinking.
of consciousness studies
the brain by stimulating this physical organ in another
through the vehicle of the senses (although sometimes
electrical stimulation of parts of the brain - a course of
find a bit reprehensible). This is done in part
because of the
idea the scientist has about his own subjectivity.
method, with its experiments, seeks to overcome human
designing experiments that can be repeated and requiring
conclusions be open to argument and logical reasoning by
peers in the
scientific community. In a sense, the scientist
own subjectivity to the community activity of peer review,
this process hopes to discover objective truths.
scientist's relationship to this
method is his belief system. He believes he will more
approximate the truth (he confesses a limit to his
forced to so confess).
scientists in the Eureka experiments noted previously, stimulates the
solving ability of the brain (his assumption) and tries to
which part of the brain there is increased measurable
activity when the
puzzle is solved. The scientist's subjectivity asks
the subjectivity of the experimental subject. He
says (essentially): I am going
to give you
a puzzle to solve, and then I am going
to measure what
happens in your brain when you solve it.
Notice the pronouns above, which are essential in order to communicate his ideas about his experiment to the ego of the subject. The scientist makes a kind of appeal, from his I to the Thou of the subject: please cooperate with my experiment by helping me, through your trying your hardest to solve this puzzle. Even a scientist convinced (theoretically) that there is no self-consciousness never actually uses language in such a way, or probably even thinks in such a way. Ask yourself this: can he even think about his own brain or your brain, without a subjective pronoun? Nobody can do this. Nobody can form a thought that does not contain the subjective pronouns in some variation of I and Thou.
of mind cannot think
discursively (more in a minute) and at the same time deny
subjective nature. There is no social speech without
all of which parts of speech are rooted in the commonly
truth of the existence of self-consciousness.
In a way it
is impossible for the
self-consciousness of any thinker to deny that
because once we become awake to this during our
development, the existence of an independent self as against
a world of
others is, as the Founders of the American Experiment said:
evident. "We hold these truths to be self
evident", they said.
At the same
time, and during the same
period of history that gave birth to the American
scientists recognized the existence of flaws in the
subjectivity of the
human being, including themselves. All the arguments
they engaged are silly unless they are based on the
recognition of the limits of human
thinking in relationship to the discovery of
the truth. Out of this emerges scientific method, so
least there is a community of discipline (surrender,
practice) among seekers of the truth (scientists).
As we have
seen so far, however,
consciousness and self-consciousness retain a degree of
for the researcher on brain function and processes, and on
researcher into the real nature of matter (of which the
supposedly composed). Grazzanica above
fundamental paradox, for if the researcher asks of his
subject that he
undertake certain kinds of inner activity, this thinking activity will
produces measurable effects to the instruments
observing the brain. Different kinds of thoughts give
effects in different parts of the brain. Memory in one
language in another, puzzle solving in a third and so on.
subjectivity of the research subject
is often a necessary and needed participant in the
is the subjectivity of the research subject that lets
change brain chemistry, just as a physical event in the
change a thought."
In both this
realm and the realm of
quantum experiments, the subjectivity - the self-consciousness -
of someone present (the experimenter in
physics and the experimental subject in brain studies) is an
part. Also in both case thinking activity plays a role.
The experimenter must choose
to seek either
knowledge of mass or position, thus bringing about by his
in the experimental process, the collapse of potential into
While in the other case, the experimental
subject must choose some
inner activity (such as to solve a puzzle) in order
for the observer to have something to measure.
observed previously, the thinking
subject, even if they believe there is no
actually engage in discursive thinking (the inner dialog we
recognize as the first stage of conscious thought) without
pronouns, which by their very nature have to be based in a
of the subjectivity of I and Thou. Some scientific
noted above, will put forward their view that the I is an
the matter based material processes in the brain, while at
time be incapable of using language (either in thought or in
writing) that is able to divorce itself from personal
In fact, by
asserting the ability of the
brain to create an illusion of self-consciousness (a
operation of the brain, apparently), they open all thought
question, including their own. If self-consciousness
illusion, could not everything the scientist thinks be an
is here not an illusion, be
a delusion. In the face of illusion we are perhaps
but a delusion is more actively created. Why do some
want to get ride of the self-evident fact of
Why does it trouble them? Is it perhaps that
instinctively recognize that self-consciousness (the
presence of a real
subjectivity within the human being), suggests that
than matter is involved?
more Grazzanica's remarks: "A thought can change brain
chemistry, just as a physical event in the brain can change
the thought that changes the
brain chemistry? In this problem of causality, which
everywhere present in many studies of brain activity (the
to be a participating actor), the paradox of imagining that
only matter and no spirit more and more manifests itself.
The thinking of the scientist of the brain is
the same problem (but from a different direction) that the
physicist did. The brain researcher can't figure out
produces consciousness, and since a large part of his
process includes him having to ask a subject for participating
mental activity (puzzle solving
for example), the researcher confronts
his own inconsistency. If it is only matter that makes
being, why does he need to require its cooperation?
Would you ask
a rock to move and expect it to do so? A plant?
be trained (domesticated), but everyone knows the difference
cats and dogs. The cat is indifferent to our commands,
own instinctive self interest is involved. The dog
lives for our
attention, and readily obeys (when so trained).
We have the
wonderful expression noting how much some human beings are
We say: To get this group of people to cooperate is
to herd cats.
the relationship of the natural
When we try
to practice Our Way each Day
in Life, we run into moral and ethical dilemmas more or less
constantly. Some are very ordinary, such as if
we are given
too much change at the store do we return the overpayment?
are potentially catastrophic, such as do I start an affair
with my best
know we are inconsistent.
In one mood we are more generous and naturally ethical
and, in another mood we are downright dangerous and
risks almost without any control of our emotions at all by
That inner dialog I have called discursive thinking
inside our own minds to ourselves - that is our
speaks into our consciousness) is often in forced flight,
calm and collected. Life-demands propel us through the
to the alarm, feed the children and get them to school, go
to the job,
hassle with the boss, come home, argue with the spouse and
on and on
So much seems
out of our control,
especially in the present times of seemingly more and more
world-wide. It really is not surprising that some
want to check out of the world, and form communities of zero
even try to enliven past social forms and realities.
individuals can't find a club, unless it is the club of
into one kind of addiction or another. For some it is
for others overwork. Even madness beckons to a
few - they
hide inside their own minds and become completely
At the same
time, everyone thinks or has
thoughts. Sometimes thoughts are intrusive and even
The whole field of mental health, and as well
justice, deals with social and individual problems that
manifest out of
something whose causal reality is within the own inside -
consciousness we see that others do not.
We get depressed.
We get high, we use downers. We zone out on TV.
escape into books or sex.
Yet, for most
of us, there are a few
simple facts (remember those I talked about in the very
this little book) worthy of noting. Our thoughts have
which we sometimes call ideas or concepts or mental pictures
whatever. The activity of the self-consciousness
mental or conceptual product via the discursive thinking.
these are our thoughts, and we often guard them quite
They are very personal, and rare is the other - the
Thou - with
whom we will share.
Oh, we do
have all kinds of glib chatter.
are you, how's your sister and so forth.
Most of the time we don't expect the truth, and
shocked if we get it. Actually screw you and I'm going crazy
and I just killed
A lot of the
content is culturally
produced. We suckle it in in childhood simply by
our native language. We are raised in families
and schools, all of which try to forge our beliefs and the
our thoughts. As noted previously, in pre-adolescence
adolescence proper we start to free our thoughts from these
and sometimes can't do this until we leave home, and move
far far away.
Our self-consciousness wants freedom in this most
of our consciousness - our thoughts. Don't we say: I'm entitled to my
At the same
time, even as adults our
social environment often requires conformance of thoughts.
work place, in spite of our being in a so-called country
speech, is not a place we can afford to speak freely.
Remember above where we noted the phrase: I had to bite my
tongue. Spontaneous speech,
while often a true
representation of our thoughts and feelings, just as often
can get us
in a lot of trouble.
when our boss (or a close
relative) requires of us an action we know (to our own view
is not ethical or moral?
Now the point
of this is not so much that
these obvious things go on all the time, but rather that
they go on all
the time for all of us. Each individual human being,
thinker, is born into a world of concepts and values, from
may or may not emerge into some kind of personal or
freedom. What is especially odd, is how often we
that all of us have values, and ethical and moral rules that
become angered when someone
doesn't act like we would act. We know what is right
to do, don't
we? Shouldn't they know this too?
don't think carefully about
this particular fact, which is so important (see my little
story Bicycles in
the appendix) to understanding the world in which we
live. When we do, however, (and many do) there is a
shift in our
relationship to other people. Usually we call this:
We accept that others necessarily think
differently, and in
our own thinking we find a way to live with this when we
book The End of
Faith (noted at the beginning)
makes a big
deal of this. He finds the tolerance of moderate
of the irrationality of so-called extremist Christians, a
failure than the irrationality he describes. He
this, so why should they?
who is a natural scientist of
a sort, doesn't yet know what to do with human social facts
like. He seems to believe that there are purely
principles (in this he is not alone) that are so soundly
everyone ought to agree. His difficulty is one typical
to us all,
and which we noted above on our way to looking at the Twelve
We all have a
dark inside, all of us.
If you pretend you don't, you'll make false
hypocritical ones. If Our Way doesn't include some
the own dark inside, as well as the light, we will make
the Way. Christ in the Sermon on the Mount called it
of the Mote and the Beam, and while a lot of these teachings
present everywhere as ideas in Western Civilization, not all
are practiced. Remember: surrender, confession
contrition in community and practice.
At the least,
we should recognize that
while many of us are natural Christians, because we
have taken in certain fundamental values that are sourced
Christ's parables and teachings, we are not finished yet.
growth can stop or can go on, and this too is a moral or
that belongs to our own freedom to decide.
There is a
kind of a trick here, or
perhaps a puzzle that needs to be perceived and then worked
This puzzle is with our own thinking.
is we don't generally think about thinking, or study our
as a puzzle, we just do it. We swim in the sea
of our mind,
not paying much attention at all to the content, mostly
makes so many demands we just don't have time to be
That a lot of
people don't think the same
thoughts, we already know. That is pretty obvious.
less obvious (except perhaps to professional educators or
work with people intimately) is that not only is the content clearly different, but how
people think is sometimes also radically different.
are a lot of different ways in which this has been observed,
on the context and the discipline making the observations.
It is most
obvious to those teachers in
the field of special education, however. The
or the dyslexic student or the autistic student or the
student - all these children have a different how
of thinking. Artists tend to think differently as
couple of examples: the emotional relationship to color is
for one most
important, while for another it will be the tactile
relationship - how
their medium of art feels to the sense of touch.
A lot of
people end up in jobs where
their naturally different how of
thinking finds a place.
A highly disciplined abstract thinker (who lives only
conceptions, and hardly in their senses at all) might become
mathematician. Someone who thinks with their
become a dancer. Someone who thinks with their hands
a carpenter, or other kind of craftsman.
If you walk
through your own life, asking
this question: what
or way does this person think and feel that are different
own? - a whole other world within
environment will light up before your own thinking. In
a way, you
are letting what you can observe about their outside (not just how they look but how they act and
kind of environment have they come to live), show you a way
deeper into their inside. With
this kind of question (and its variations)
you will begin to understand (in practice) how to come awake
Mote and the Beam. It is our semi-conscious reaction to the outside that comes from the own Beam, while our
the inside takes us much nearer
culmination and integration:
becoming scientific about our own
look at something we passed by
above, namely our recognition that our life pushes our consciousness and self-consciousness all
Life makes demands. Life is suffering is the
Truth of the Buddha. People get martyred on a cross of
the time, sometimes not so obviously, but all the same, they
from jobs and/or are left by a spouse.
cliche is that god never gives us more than
we can handle, but a lot of people
out certainly don't seem to be handling life at all.
a Country and Western song
about giving someone an attitude adjustment? A
lot of us recognize the importance of attitude. When we form our personality we take on
(or what an acquaintance of mine
Catherine MacCoun, in
her book called On
Becoming an Alchemist called style.
has a style or attitude (a personality), that originates
in the self-consciousness (which some call our: immortal
These are all
individual and unique in
their formation, but often imitative in the presentation.
from the start our personal biography pushes at us, and as
we grow we
create this response: the attitude or style we present to
We don't expose all, except in very significant
relationships, because we are taught by life that such
leads to pain (we get hurt).
Science hardly talks at all about
this. Hard to quantify a hurt, or a style or an
attitude. When Natural
approach this it first did so in the soft sciences (as
against the hard
sciences such as physics or chemistry), such as psychology
or sociology. In recent years such disciplines as
psychology have tried to imagine that they can think
reasonably to the
roots of human behavior, inner and outer, by supposing some
adaptive mechanism, sometimes getting all the way into the
The brain and the genetic code adapt
to evolutionary pressures (the pushes of life). A lot of
work wants to compare us to the higher mammals, and
certainly we have
the idea of the human
phrase, while common in our
language, is a kind of very subtle oxymoron (a figure
that combines into a more or less contradictory set of
What's the point of the word human in that phrase: human animal? We often use the terms quite
everyone understands in those uses the distinction. We
the variation: humane. Would
we ever call an animal humane and
have such a sentence mean anything?
example, aren't moral.
They are instinctive. They don't create art or
We can project on them human qualities (and often do
this to our
pets), but no one is every going to call a tiger in the wild
humane. The confusion between the human and the
just a result of very sloppy thinking.
beings can forget their
humanity. We even have a phrase recognizing this: man's inhumanity to
man. Or, he was such an
the latter case, the term animal is more of a metaphor than
it is a
rational judgment. But Natural Science seems to be
this idea, and finds rationale for it in such well know
facts that the
difference in the nature of the DNA between a higher order
mammal and a
man is slight.
however, that this train of
thought is completely based on the assumption that only the physical is real.
Hopefully, in the
above parts, we have somewhat deconstructed this idea in our
examination of consciousness and self-consciousness.
then leads us to something that is a kind of socially sloppy
disagreement: Intelligence Design vs. Random Evolutionary
I say sloppy, because most of those involved in these
haven't bothered to look at the history of the development
In that history this issue was originally
it has never gone away. Its just gotten buried under
more assumptions as time went on, and as Natural Science
and more to occupy an intellectual territory that was
abandoned by orthodox religions, as they lost themselves in
of their belief systems, at the expense of the actual
practice of their
acquaintance of mine, Don Cruse,
writes about the development of ideas that have led to the
of Darwinian Evolution: random processes and so forth.
He has a
web site and a book: Evolution
and the New Gnosis: anti-establishment essays on
knowledge, science, religion
and causal logic. On the web
there is a
wonderful essay Dogma and
Doubt by Ronald Brady
thoroughly unzips the basis of evolutionary biology as a
system of thought.
the whole thing quite simply.
For long time in the history of science, the
metaphorical language to communicate their understanding,
such: as mechanism.
Nature was a randomly created mechanism. The problem, says Cruse, is that that
word, mechanism, means only one thing, something created.
beings make mechanisms, and to
export, from our understanding of the creative
activity by which a clock is made, to nature the idea that
nature is a mechanism is to
define it as designed and created. He
actually challenges them, in his book and in letters to
forgo (if they can) the use of such metaphors to describe
observe. Create, he insists, a language that isn't
based on an
analogy to human creativity, but which truly describes
evolution as a
random accidental process. They can't do it.
stop the process of
analysis to take up the task of synthesis (making a whole of
or parts discovered in experiments), they always use
in one way or another in human intentionality. The hand
of natural selection. Even the term selection involves a meaning of human intentionality.
truly random process can't select
doesn't - it can't - make choices.
reader will now see that
Science has reached limits. It has very definite views
(assumptions and ideas), but in the brain biology (the study
consciousness) and in quantum physics (the question of what
matter), and even in evolutionary theory, some element of
intention - participation - can't be gotten rid of. If
self-consciousness is spirit - the I is spirit, and
soul, then the need to use the idea of some kind of
explaining the facts of evolutionary theory leads only to
one place: a
Divine Mystery. Moreover, the story of Christ's
teachings in the
Gospels, when practiced, lead to the same place.
If one goes
to what is described in other
essays of mine (and in books), and studies there either
or Goethean Science, then it is clear that New Revelation
over humanity in the 20th Century. How? Why?
questions, not all of which can be answered here.
arguments with God;
a personal view,
ideas that reality teaches is
that the human being is being born more and more into a
role with the Divine Mystery. In fact, something
Divine Mystery itself lives in the ego or I of the human
being, and to
be co-creative, as Owen Barfield suggested in his book Saving
Appearances: a study in idolatry,
engage in final
participation. In Ages Past
being was more passive and less free (original
participation). Now we are
more free and more potentially
active. This, to my experience, has brought certain
One of these
is quite odd, and I was
surprised to discover this mood of soul. The more I
the design of the creation (at least this present part - see
my book the Way of
the Fool), and even more and more
it, the more certain aspects of it bothered me. These
paragraphs then come from such a mood. I start
recognizing my antipathy towards certain elements of the
might call: Gods Design. In effect I recognize that
not entirely wrong to go through a period of rebellion, and
begun to think that part of developing fully the Divine
Mystery of the
own I is to (on occasion and quite deliberately) approach
observations of the design with a critical faculty.
We are, after
all, quite intimately
involved in this situation. To just sort of roll over
like a good
dog and always love everything the Master does and did, is
something that is part of being human. Like a
becoming truly free and responsible, I am finding that part
separation, that has to precede the choice and pursuit of
reintegration, must include taking the attitude of whether
everything just perfect.
upon us the idea that the Gods
make no errors, and this is becoming more and more to me one
truths that paradoxically can be seen from a totally
direction to be false. In point of fact, a fair
reading of Rudolf
Steiner's researches into the supersensible worlds will come
comments where it is clear that the communities of spiritual
that have led the way so far were not in agreement on all
We could actually say that our critical examination of the design is quite necessary if we are to ultimately become responsible for many of its future aspects. In the light of this I want to share an odd thought that has come to me many times now, and which I confess I find to be more and more true. Let us call this: the mobius strip incarnation idea.
First call to
mind what a mobius strip
is. If I have a belt-like form, and make it into a
joining the two ends, I have two surfaces and two edges that
exactly connect. If before I join the two ends
together, I give a
half twist to the form, I end up with one continuous surface
continuous edge. If I make the form
by having the edge be without measure - that is it is zero
thickness, I can still have a geometric form that is
circular, while at the same time endless - that is without
apply this idea to the Creation,
to repeated earth lives, to reincarnation, and to what
appears to be
the separation from God which ancient ideas of the cultural
considered to be an illusion. Some readers will have
goal of ego-lessness, which is urged by teachers from the
East. They say things like there is no ego,
is no I, there is no am.
In the cultural
West we have the opposite idea (in a way). Here in the
say there is an ego, the I-am is what God named Himself in
texts, and that in that the individual human being has an I,
name for it would be: immortal spirit.
words: we all come from the
same Source and to that Source we will return.
Mobius Strip Incarnation Idea, I mean to suggest that the
truth is that
both East and West see the same reality from different (and
directions) and that for developmental purposes the idea of
each of us
having a separate ego is important for some purposes and not
important for others. I mean to suggest here that
there is just
One Ego, and as it enters Time and Space (the Creation) it
into distinct parts in order to learn. And, that
followed each part in Time we would
find that like the Mobius Strip there
is only one continuous surface.
I am you.
You are me.
We are Christ and the Buddha and the Holy
in Time and Space we are sequential, like the Mobius Strip.
We are to live all these apparently separate
points of view
in Time and Space in order to become at the end of Time and
Space, when on the other side of the Last Judgment we all
Eternity - in timelessness and spacelessness, something that
arises because of this becoming and
impossible before the Creation. Through this process
sequential becomings, the Father Principle and the Mother
will not only have become something they were not before,
but they will
also have lived all the lives, of all the parts, from the
human part to
the dog part to the tree part to the atom part to the gluon
part and on
and on and on.
ye do to the least
of these my brethren, ye do so also unto me.
meantime, in order to fully
separate from the Divine Mystery (from a human perspective),
with God about the design is a natural and necessary act.
necessary spiritually adolescent attitude is in fact
(what after all is scientific materialism and atheism).
This has often led at various times to so much
certain egos, egos that imagined themselves as superior
moral authorities, that they murdered and tortured heretics
(non-believers in their doctrines). Sam Harris, and
those of like
mind, are right to see such an attitude as the height of
These new atheists, however, just don't get it that
that guy over
there that is making (to them) so much trouble has a quite
aspects of his point of view and an equally valid state of
with all your heart and all your mind and all your spirit, and
your neighbor as yourself.)
Getting the picture yet?
"I am he as you are
he as you are me and we are all
together.", sang the Beatles in I
Walrus (Lennon/McCartney - Lennon,
to Wikipedia got the idea while on a acid trip).
But who is
this I that is we? Our
discovery of this I goes through it, that is through
Developing our I fully is how we come to any deep
realization. The Narrow Gate. Where
people, who want
to put down new age and other religious ideas outside their
vision Christian beliefs get confused, is where they think
at the goal by being saved. And then, by saving others
teaching them to give themselves to God. Not a bad
they just the opening bars of the song of development.
most fake Christians stop there. They cherry
Gospels for what serves their own ideology, and either feel
the rest is
superfluous, or too hard.
assumed superior to practice
(not by works alone). This would make sense if all
Christians had the same beliefs, but the very fact of their
bickering over these matters, sometimes leading to horrible
other crimes, pretty much ruins such an idea as anything
all. But the idea of not by works alone also doesn't
saved alone. Belief, in the form of true Faith (trust)
together with practice. Ora et labora is the Latin for prayer and labor. Prayer is the main practice of Faith,
meditation in action the main faith of Practice.
in action is another way of saying prayer in action, or
acting from the
center of our heart, or acting out of moral grace. It
prayerfulness (meditative inner attitude) that enables me to
Good, and to act on that knowledge.
But this is a
bit more complicated and
has to be read elsewhere: The
Meaning of Earth Existence in the Age of the Consciousness
Soul; and, In
Contemplation of the Soul Art and Music of Discipleship.
In this essay (booklet) I just wanted to walk the reader through some basic questions and ideas, as a help to prepare them for discovering their Own Way.
Blessings and good luck.
- a Children's
Story, which is also for Adults -
dedicated to Gabriella, Catherine Rose, Ross Gregory, and
were on my mind Christmas Eve, 1996, as their fathers (of
which I must
confess I was one) were absent from home for the Season. It
the following Christmas Morning.
There once was a girl, who
found herself weeping in the dark, alone in her room.
This is nothing unusual. Many people, not just children, can be found weeping, alone with their pain in the dark of the night.
was a difference. Although it was not a difference as
as we might imagine.
difference was this. While she was weeping an Angel
sitting quietly at the end of her bed.
It was quite a while before the girl noticed the Angel. Yet, this did not bother the Angel, who had been, if we do not mind, created out of patience and joy.
time the girl stopped weeping, and the two simply looked at
other for a while.
reached out and touched the girl on the shoulder, and asked:
"What is troubling you child?".
Now it is true that the Angel already knew the answer to this question, but the Angel also knew that the girl needed to talk about her grief.
the girl's answer.
Christmas Eve." she said, "My father and mother have
my father is not here. I don't even know when, or if, he is
At this the girl, who was at that very awkward age between being a child and being a young woman, began to weep again, even more deeply then before.
while she stopped, looked at the Angel and asked: "Why?"
began weeping some more.
may wonder why the girl wasn't troubled or confused by
being in her room at night. The fact is that when you meet
there is no question about what is happening. No doubt, no
Angels aren't like anything else except Angels.
how the Angel answered the girl.
ever bad?" asked the Angel.
a bit hesitantly.
ever bad on purpose, knowing you are being bad?"
almost whispering now.
ever bad by accident, not having thought about what might
a little more confident.
things ever sometimes happen even though you were trying as
possible to do something good?"
back to herself finally.
sat together for a while. She was thinking and the Angel
said. "Mother and father aren't trying to hurt me, and I
didn't do something wrong."
having just reinvented philosophy, "Why is the world such a
very long pause the Angel said, "It's because of the
was said with a straight face, as much as an Angel can be
have a straight face, their normal countenance being filled
the girl's dark mood broke and she laughed, and then caught
odd feeling she tried to stop and ended up almost falling
out of bed
because she was giggling so much.
Again there was a passage of time, so that the girl could ask her next question without breaking up. It actually took several attempts before she could get the question out.
you mean by "it's the bicycles"?" she said, pulling up the
her nightgown, as much to distract herself as to dry the
tears of both
suffering and mirth.
Angel, "As you have guessed the bicycles are invisible,
made out of ideas and dreams, hope and despair, all stuck
bits of conscience and just plain stubbornness.
up and ride around on their invisible bicycles, forgetting
the bicycles are there and then because they have forgotten
people just keep banging into each other.
the bicycles are in great disrepair. Some with flat tires,
with crooked wheels, and some without even handlebars to
a great deal of courage for people, for mothers and fathers,
get up in the morning and ride their bicycles out into life
each day. A
great deal of courage."
Angel was quiet again and so was the girl.
while the girl, having graduated from philosophy to
"Why does God let this go on? Why doesn't he fix the
bicycles or make
people learn how to ride them without banging into each
you imagine the Angel is pausing to think, I should tell you
that is not what was happening. Angels do think, but when
something happens. For Angels thinking creates. The reason
said "Hmmm" was so the girl would first reflect a little
about what she
had said, before the Angel answered her.
ever talk to God?" asked the Angel.
so," said the girl, tentative again, and rightly so.
you know.", said the Angel. "You can't interrupt him, or
him when he's doing something else. He always listens.
Always. And when
you talk to him he never interrupts you, never tells you
he's heard it
before or done it himself or knows more than you. You
couldn't ask for
a better listener. And when you're done he doesn't give
advice, or tell
you what to do, or criticize what you've done or tell you,
adequate. He just listens, and accepts you and loves you,
have to say."
Angel asked another question.
ever get angry at God?"
girl. "Get angry at God !?!"
said the Angel. "God loves you and wants your love. People
love each other get to be angry with each other. It's a way
God doesn't mind your anger. Now your indifference? That's
girl, now a little more in touch with her own frustration.
"But you still haven't said anything about repairing the
giving lessons on riding them."
said the Angel. "All kinds of excellent repair and riding
manuals already out there. There's the Bible, and the Vedas,
Torah, and the Koran, and the Sutras, and the..."
it." she said, interrupting the Angel, who didn't mind at
Then she paused and thought a little.
she said. "This is what you've said. The reason the world is
difficult is because we all have our own ideas and dreams
conscience and stubbornness, and when we go out and ride
"bicycles" in life we bang into each other, or ride over
feet, because we have forgotten about these invisible
things. But if we
want riding lessons and repair instruction, that information
there. We just have to use it. Right?"
girl, after a very deep sigh, "Just one more question."
the best listener in the world, always available and never
critical. But how come he never answers me?"
was spoken with a great deal of anguish, as only the very
can feel at the impossible burdens they sense when they
growing up and being really free and responsible for
Angel waited for a while, as silent and beautiful as a
do you listen?" the Angel answered. "He always answers you,
always. You just don't always hear him. He answers in many
the continued breath of life, or with a fading sunset. With
of a breeze on the cheek or a crash of thunder. In the most
inside yourself he whispers to you. More softly then the
of your heart he sings to you in the voice of the dancing
delight the eye. You eat his answers for breakfast and when
barefoot through the dew wet grass his answers touch your
have eyes, ears? Or if not even these, you have the thoughts
choose. You believe or not. Is that not a great gift itself?
have faith or not, hope or not, charity or not, according to
will. God does answer. With life, with freedom. And yes,
and with pain. Are these not gifts as well?"
was a harmony of silence between the two of them. Then the
smiled and looked mischievously at the Angel.
have a bicycle?" she asked.
Then the Angel laughed. And outside the girl's window the birds sang to greet with joy the first hints of dawn on Christmas morning.
Healing the Insanity of
Medicines and Practice
one thesis of this small paper that
common sense thinking, applied to the question of the efficacy of
anti-psychotics and similar medicines, will reveal
that such drugs cannot generally be healthy
for either the mental or physical health of the human
being. They only seem to work, and then only
define the goal of the application of such medicine in a
quite limited, and anti-human, fashion (behavioral modification
instead of healing).
is not to say no good at all comes
from the lifetimes of effort put out by many professionals
fields, but rather that the picture we have of this work
is spun, just
as politicians spin their versions of the truth.
Spin is not the
truth, and in this essay we are trying to come nearer to
reality represented by our institutional mental health
They are mostly not about mental health (those
problems of the mind are not being adequately
researched or solved), but rather about power, wealth and
help some possible confusion in
the reader to distinguish the psychiatric profession, from
psychological profession. Most psychiatrists no
participate in talk therapy (classical analysis on the
couch), but by
and large engage in the practice of diagnosis of mental
according to the DSM* V (a system of labeling various
symptoms into a
name that can be recognized by the mental health system
for purposes of
insurance payments and other institutional processes).
such a diagnosis the psychiatrist (being also an MD)
medications designed to adjust the behavior of the
will be said about this later.
and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders V,
for interesting details look it up on Wikipedia.]
almost universally engage
is some form of talk therapy, although often in connection
to some kind
of prescription medicine, and as well often using the same
classification system as the DSM V.
important point above concerns the general
method of thinking involved in
the practice of this discipline (psychiatry), for that is
failure begins and ends.
It is not so
much the individual thinking, but rather the institutional
the generalized paradigm which serves as the context and
all the rest. Let us begin
the examination of
this method of thinking, by first looking at something with which most
of us today
are quite familiar: the movement toward organic food.
Some history ...
In the 19th Century natural science reached a kind of
advances in knowledge were seen everywhere, and technical
devices of all kinds were being created in
the hope of solving any number of humanity's pressing
problems. The industrial
revolution was a seeming success, and not a week went by without some scientist
pure knowledge or in some practical art.
agriculture the plant had been studied in the laboratory
how it was composed of basic elements, such as
carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen
(plus a few trace elements) was
now assumed to be quite clear. Farms as a
started to become more and more modeled after factories, where what is
mono-culture started to flourish.
Machines planted the
seeds, watered the plants and artificial fertilizers
to the soil to make up for any missing elements such as
are related to
the plant's need for clay, silicon or calcium.
corporations grew into existence, many of them chemical
factories creating pure and ofttimes synthetic substances
applied at the farm or then later during procedures by
which food was
distributed to consumers via grocery stores.
Needs of commerce became
important and shelf life required new chemical methods of
preservation. Foods were enhanced, adulterated, preserved, and supposedly purified. Flour was
bleached. Sugar was too (keep in mind you wouldn't, yourself, directly
many places, however, things were not coming out so well. Large farms
mono-culture and artificial fertilizers found themselves
more and more
attacked by insect life (nature, sensing something dead or dying or ill, sends its
workers to take it apart, and return it to the whole). This
required the application of poisons to kill the
also to kill any weeds (unwanted plants). The farm became essentially a chemical
astride the land. Ordinary farmers couldn't compete, and the whole
way of life, changed
Eventually, people began
to question whether this was sane. After some
farming (which is
really only a return to the pre-industrial farm)
became important, as ordinary
common sense was applied by ordinary people
to examine the assumptions of mono-culture and corporate
food processing and practices.
is a brief, but I believe quite worthwhile picture. What is the
the thinking that produced this history of farming
ultimately have failed on such a huge scale to provide
first step was in natural science
has followed primarily a method of analysis (taking things
apart). For example, the plant was
burned in the laboratory to produce ash. Then the ash
analyzed to see what were the basic elements of which it
was made (the burning only eliminated
the water from the harvested plant - although that
is not precisely true, for the combustion
process creates many products such as light and heat, but which
come from where - the burning takes something
less quantifiable away from the once living plant.).
In any event, the modern
scientist looks at plant biology on the farm
as a process by which the plant was created by the DNA of
the seed out
of certain basic elements available in the soil. Already, before DNA, if the soil
be added later (fertilizers etc.).
turning of the farm into a chemistry
factory was before the need for ecological or holistic
thinking was understood. Pure analysis needs to
be followed by wise synthesis.
After you take something
apart, you have to know how to put it back together, in order to
actually learned something.
The later discovered flaws
of mono-culture have pretty
much proved that the original thinking about plants
and foods was
this analytical thinking was added the
thinking involved in mass production. Machines
were seen as useful replacements for physical
labor and the farm became large and mechanized
(leading to mono-culture or
farms sowing and
reaping only one plant, such as wheat or corn). The profit
motive was added to the search for scientific
the whole thing becoming a bit distorted because as
colleges grew in size (and developed more research capacity),
a great deal of the
research in these schools was provided by business (and sometimes
government), neither of which had pure agendas and
bodies such as the Food and Drug Administration became
defenders of the public interest, and more the creatures of the lobbyists for
agricultural and chemical corporations.
today is more or less aware of
these facts and tendencies.
common sense was applied, it became clear that the
earth in which plants were grown was itself alive with
and worms etc. The
chemical fertilizers and anti-weed and insect poisons were
to the farm, the
more dead the soil became. A kind
cycle arose, which
more and more chemicals on the farm,
that has since resulted in more
and more a
denaturing of the food itself.
We could try to look for
laboratory evidence for this, but since it was the
human population itself upon which the experiment (denatured and
processed food) was conducted, we need only look at
people to see the results.
is not usual to relate to this
certain other facts, but it is clear to a holistic thinking that
diseases of the heart, and many cancers began to arise at the same
changes in farming. In fact, the so-called obesity epidemic in America is
related as well. True experts in nutrition realize that the
real reason so
many people are fat is because there is no actual
nutrition in the food
you get at the grocery store.
As a consequence the body
keeps telling people to eat
more, but the
only thing in the food is empty calories which the body
then stores (converts the excess of sugars
into fats) if one
has a certain body-type (an endomorph). Other body types burn all the calories, but need
as caffeine and cigarettes in order to function at work
and in home.
is worse is that many today in the
medical field want to castigate the consumer, and leave
aside or ignore the responsibility of the
producer of the food, as well as the role of the government (or absence of a
role, might be a better way to
phrase it). Wealthy corporations and
corrupt government officials get a free ride, but the fat
person has to take the whole blame for his
are to be able to overcome corporate and
government power, and the
the same time raising the children and creating through
our work all
the flawed excess of analysis
without synthesis, and the flawed excess of corporate greed, we must now
flawed reasoning which wants to blame the consumer for
that should never have been sold to him in the first
why did we bother to look at this, in an article
problems with mental health medications.
The reason should be clear
reader with common sense: the same flawed thinking that debased the
food supply has
come alive in the realm of soul-healing, and is currently
debasing the physical and mental health of
science remains locked in an
excess of analysis, and an absence of wise synthesis.
Corporate greed in the
pharmaceuticals has led to a need to force the sale
advertising of products after products whose side
and injure. If these so-called medicines were truly
there would be no need to sell them - they would sell themselves.
has become corrupted, as are
many universities and hospitals where research is
the absence of holistic thinking, suffering is produced
many minds. Lets look at some examples.
writer of this essay has 18 years experience in the
trenches of the mental health field, including ten
years as a mental health worker in a
for-profit psychiatric hospital in Nashua, New
Hampshire. I could tell a lot of stories, but I'll just
tell one, after making a few basic observations.
of all it was clear, to my observation and
working at the hospital were basically poorly supervised
saw a diagnosis made at the beginning of an admission
same over the whole course of treatment (unless the
patient had been in the system for years).
It was routine to order
one medication (or more) in the beginning, and then change that as
treatment went forward.
The goal, of course, was not to
heal the patient, but to modify behavior. The
diagnosis defined certain behavior as socially
the psychiatrist experimented using various medications
desired behavioral result was reached.
this process the subjective inner
life of the patient was often not a factor, although many
patients came seeking help with their inner
states of being. Of course, such inner states often led to deviant social
behaviors, such that people would
come recommended by various agencies (social services, the police, the family
etc.). The new
patient would have a complaint, of sorts, but the social matrix
surrounding this person would also have its own separate
patient was worried about their state
of mind, and
the family or job was worried about their behavior. What
we did was
modify behavior, often by what was essentially a chemical
some aspect of the patients subjective state of mind. We pressed
personality with drugs in order to make them more easily
fit into their social
went with this process a number of side-effects
(physical and mental
collateral damage is probably a more accurate term), some of which
were more or less permanent (such as tardive dyskinesia).
appreciating what I write here
about the psychiatrist as an experimenter, the reader
should be clear that I am pointing out a great
deal of ignorance and some degree of arrogance
(just as was done to the farms
we need for the food we eat).
At the same time it is the
institutional system of mental health that perpetuates
these problems, because these flaws are
well known and are everywhere criticized, although
polypharmacy; psychiatric and organic
anti-psychiatry, for example). Psychiatry is a soft science, not a hard
It is more art than
science, and a lot of people practicing it clearly
don't have any
do the horror story now ....
hospital where I worked had a Chief
of Psychiatry (a
different job than the business head of the facility).
He was also paid outside
various pharmaceutical companies to manage research
projects. When a new experimental
drug had to be tested, we were one place such tests were done. This
a lot of money (the
drug company paid the full admission costs of all patients
in the study
as well as additional staff time needed to support the
study, such as through frequent
blood tests, physicals
Chief of Psychiatry maintained professional relationships with the
Nashua community, and was in fact already the doctor for a number of
individuals with chronic mental health
these individuals were provided living support through
services agencies, as they couldn't work and often needed help
basic living skills.
drug for schizophrenia was to be
shortly thereafter a number of regular patients of the
Psychiatry were admitted to the hospital to participate in
the study. They were not in
were admitted solely for the study. Because the
study was a double-blind study, some would get a placebo, instead of
patient, clearly receiving a placebo, began in a
couple of weeks to show severe symptoms. He had been
the medication that helped him live (with aid) in the
community, and brought into the hospital for the study. He was, in the jargon
we used, decompensating.
began to be awake for 50 hours at a time, and then crash for about 16 hours and
then be awake
because I was the one who went carefully through his chart
these and other facts in order to confront the Chief of
the torture of this individual). He wasn't eating and existed mostly on coffee
was erratic, and
his speech pressured (speedy and incoherent). He pestered
staff and other patients constantly. Fortunately
not violent, just
terrific nuisance to others, and of course miserable inside himself (for which his madness - as it were - offers him no
We forget, or ignore, that the
world seen from inside such a mind is not the
same world we see at all.
look at what happen here - the reality. People with known mental
health issues were brought into the hospital to suit the
the Chief of Psychiatry and the drug company, and used as
guinea pigs. This is not only shameful, but it ought
to scare us that such callous and
indifferent impulses fill in the structural nature of the
that no one objects on an institutional level.
Of course, the
professionals put a good face on all such activity, because as
anyone knows, we can with our thinking
today in the food industry, that system still lives
in denial of what has been done
(and is being done that is worse)
to the food supply.
The same attitude is
rampant in the
field of mental health. Natural science does not understand what it
is doing. Commercial interests
mine this field of confusion for profit making purposes. And, the human
beings, the patients and their
families (as well
as society) are
not being well served.
really doesn't need to be an expert, but just use
common sense; and, in fact recognize that the expert has his own
agenda, which is often the
preservation of his status and his income.
The only way to stop the
the mental health institutional system is for public
opinion to marshal
its common sense, and ask of their representatives in
legislative bodies to
use their common sense as well.
beings shouldn't be the subject of
experiments by psychiatrists no longer interested in their
inner well being, but only in changing the behavior, all supported
pharmaceutical industry which has proven it will lie and
cheat in order
to make money. There
alternatives as everyone who looks at this question knows.
come at this from another direction ...
is a field of science that is called (or was called) coal tar
chemistry. Basically this field
(and its related industries) took something
already quite dead (petroleum in the ground) and killed it some more (took it apart on
a massive scale). Those smelly gasoline making plants you drive
by were at
one time called cracking
what they do is heat the oil to very high temperatures, while keeping
pressure (crack the
petroleum coal tar into pieces that don't exist in nature) and then as the
vapors rise, they
them and make gasoline, kerosene etc. (a kind of distillation
process). From this same chemistry
we have ingredients for plastics, cosmetics and even
medicines. These are
all synthetic, which among other things means nature didn't
make them, man did (with all his selfish motives, and his
aware today of all those allergies
that comes with the proliferation of these products
full of this stuff. It has a lot of uses, of which one
is that it makes some people a lot of money. Lets make a
synthesis, a common sense picture.
science matures in knowledge, human impulses everywhere
look for personal advantage.
The industrial revolution includes a
chemical or synthetic revolution where all kinds of
substances are created that never before existed in
nature. Human beings now swim in
a sea of synthetic (artificial) chemistry, for which their bodies
were never originally adapted.
Nature made us, we made
synthetics and synthetics are ruining our food, changing the
torturing mental patients.
as a whole social process, we've essentially
conducted a huge set of experiments on the human
population of the
right, we are
the experimental subject of a lot of badly thought out
theories, acting in collusion with
profit making industries.
We played with the world in ignorance and arrogance and now must reap the consequences. Yes, a lot of the time we were trying to solve problems and meet genuine human needs. But at the same time we were not humble. We believed we could try anything and fix any mistake. We were childish, and as all of us learn growing up, when you are impulsive and childish, you screw up, and sometimes ruin the rest of your life. Humanity, as a group, has been doing the same thing on a very large scale for some time.
the rule that is frequently
violated: Just because you can do a thing, does not mean
you should do a thing.
beginning of this small paper I
made an off-hand remark regarding modern psychiatric
medicine, which now needs some
said: They only seem to
work, and then only if
the goal of the application of such medicine in a quite
limited, and anti-human, fashion.
watched all kinds of people
receive all kinds of medications over my 18 years
personal experience in the trenches of the field of
mental health. By trenches I mean direct patient care (the psychiatrists
see their patients briefly, sometimes not
It is people
like me who see them all day long and talk to
them as one human being to another (instead of as
treating doctor to insane patient).
we call mental patients are individuals of great personal courage, who suffer
ways few of us can imagine.
They live in an Age where
they are not understood. They are often lucky to
have caregivers (nurses
mental health workers) who treat them as human beings - with
and compassion. The mental health system treats them
as things and as numbers on summary sheets. If they are
they sometimes get compassionate doctors, but these
doctors are themselves caught up in the
institutional system, which has a quite distinct life of its own.
ago an acute observer of the
business world (Peter
forward something called the Peter principle, which
that: in a hierarchy
naturally rise to level of their incompetence.
truism for sure, but certainly not always
are competent, but
the nature of that competence can often be solely for
their own benefit. The present-day financial crisis in America
is an example
of that truism. Our mental health institutional systems, and their
pharmaceutical allies, are full of folks not very good at anything
their own interests. We really shouldn't expect them to produce
helps mental patients - that's
the agenda under which they operate.
Maynard Keynes wrote this about our
economic system: Capitalism is the
extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men, for the nastiest
of reasons, will somehow work for the
benefit of us all. A similar statement can be said about the
system. But we (patients, and families of patients, and Society, and state and
ourselves if we expect the institutional mental health
benefit those unique individuals we label "the mentally
ill". The evidence showing
this failure is overwhelming.
Hopefully this paper will
reveal that even common sense
can know and understand this, and that we need to not be dependent upon
experts to realize something is badly wrong.
Further, we need to
realize that only we can fix it.
The system won't fix
course, we often think of certain
people as violent and aggressive, and with good judgment
exclude them from our communities. This need to
exclude is a
theme we'll come to at the end of this paper.
add another approach to our
we noted that the scientist in the
laboratory sought to understand the plant through reducing
it to ash. He did not study the
living plant in its natural environment, but removed
it to the laboratory and disassembled it. The
in this same period of scientific development spent a lot
taking apart the cadaver - the dead body.
He did not concentrate on
the living organism, but on the dead organism.
similar kind of thinking has gone on in
brain studies, where
physical apparatus is assumed (if we read the literature carefully) to be the basis
mental activity. The scientist studied dead brains, and if he
often studied ones with problems
- that is ill or dysfunctional
brains (such as people with the split
do a survey of psychological
find different attitudes there as well. Some study
optimum states of consciousness, others only diseased or
deviant states of consciousness.
Recall the Chief of
Psychiatry, and his allies in the pharmaceutical industry - he tests his
drugs on an already ill (socially deviant) population, who can't truly consent, because the real nature
of their abuse by the system is not apparent to them. Like most
people in the
field, he and
his allies consider their activity (the use and
abuse of the unfortunate in the pursuit of limited goals, such as behavioral
profit) to be
normal - that is okay.
psychiatrist and the
pharmaceutical company are not even trying to heal the
only modify behavior.
background here is a very deep
question, upon the rocks of which Western Civilization now
Natural Science has taken the course where it has
decided that there is no spirit in the world - no spirit
in Nature, no
spirit in the human being. All we are, to this
materialistic outlook, is matter.
large part this view comes from an
unfortunate truth in the field of psychological studies:
investigator never studies his own mind, but only that
of others, and then only through processes which take
or eliminate the
living element), or which only look at a
From an ontological (or basic premise) point of view, natural
science mostly uses death processes and disease
processes to try to wrest, from the once living and healthy, its secrets.
Were natural scientists to study their
own minds objectively, the presence of the spirit would
soon be quite
application of a little common sense
logic might suggest that the secrets of the living and the
be found in the study of those elements of existence, where they
arise - that
is in the family and social environment. This is not
however. While certain thinkers in these fields have
the positive (Abraham Maslow etc.), the institutional system does not take such an approach.
is a view held by some in the field
of psychology that speaks of the "identified patient".
is the person who comes to a soul-healer (the
psychologist) in order to
resolve certain personal problems, and many mental health
realize that the so-called "identified patient" might be
mentally healthy person in that family. At the least
recognizes a problem, but the root of the problem may not
in the individual, but only in the family-matrix.
related theme ...
took a while, but women finally understood that this same
thinking had led doctors to think of birth as a disease
process, and such views had to be
opposed and eliminated (a struggle not yet over). In a similar
way, we have to resist taking the so-called
deviant out of
Society in order to study them in isolation, but rather we
need to keep the whole together, and recognize that they
aren't so much deviant, as unique and highly individual.
It is in fact Society that
needs to be
healed of the assumption that unusual mental states (and their related
behaviors) are an "illness".
is the true insanity - to take the living personality and treat it
plant in the laboratory where we first destroy it before
understand it. To
the unusual personality through powerful and intrusive
to coerce changes in behavior, is not healing.
in fact the worst kind of tyranny - the tyranny of the majority (who declare
themselves superior psychologically) over an
different). It says more about us, as a Society, than it does
about them. It reveals our "us and them" assumptions, and our moral
weaknesses in shunning them and setting them
outside our company, all the while pretending as if we were
helping them, when the raw truth is
that we are only helping ourselves.
Society that lacks the sanity of
true charity, and
honest impulse to help (and or heal) the weak and troubled. Its far past
time for us to grow into a greater maturity
in our social relations with the different.
come at this once more with a
slightly different emphasis ...
Healing the Healer: the first steps in a sane future
evolution of psychiatry and psychology
works were translated into
English, from the
German, the terms geistes and seele were
translated as mind, and
spirit and soul, which
could have been done (c.f. Bruno
Bettelheim's Freud and man's soul, A.A.Knopf, 1983).
and deepened the materialization of the underlying
thinking of those
who sought during the 19th
to treat problems of human inner life - of
the psyche - the soul (which
everyone knows is the root term for the words psychology
thinking on the brain now seeks to explain all inner
of the human being today as consequences of material
causes. Mind and brain
are now seen as equivalent.
The Fall, from
time appreciation of the human spirit and soul dimensions
of existence, is, within
the level of assumptions.
"It is old hat to say that the brain is
mental activity. Such a claim may annoy the likes of Jerry
the Ayatollah, but it is more or less the common
educated people in the twentieth century. Ever since
the scientific revolution, the guiding view of most
scientists has been
that knowledge about the brain, its cells and its
explain mental states. However, believing
that the brain supports behavior is the easy part: explaining how is
quite another." (Mind Matters: How the
Mind and Brain interact to Create
Our Conscious Lives, Michael S.
Grazzanica Ph.D. pp 1, Houghton Baffling, Boston 1988).
of materialization of our ideas of human inner states of
has now gone so far that some believe today that there is
, or "ego"
perception of self by the brain
is nothing but a chemically manufactured illusion.
minefield today come those who feel called to what remains
profession of "soul
dialog with the writer Tom Wolfe, when
on this very issue, was
admit such could be possible.
This interview, broadcast
Grazzanica rising from his chair and moving around so
certain was he
that the I or ego was real.
All the same, he
had to confess
that some evidence more and more suggested otherwise.
the depth of this problem for modern humanity, the
urged to try to speak
of human interactions without using personal pronouns, for
the ultimate implication of this train of thought: If
there is no
I then there is no you, nor
he, or she.
All is simply it.
was dramatically portrayed in the film the Silence of the
Lambs when the
serial killer commands the "it"
to rub on the
oil and for "it"
to obey all commands.
If it is an
imagined serial killer madman that refuses to acknowledge
in his victim
the reality of an I, how
insane then has become certain kinds of thinking in
that would, in
the name of
some kind of hyper-objectivity, declare
complete illusion the idea of any human subjectivity at
very real sense, we
that scientific thinking has run up against a wall of
sorts. At the same
time, a careful
review of the research reveals that this wall only really
exists in the
conceptual frame of reference in which all this research
is conducted. It
is not the
facts of experience that are flawed, but
that makes the errors. It
is the paradigm
has reached the limit of its viability (c.f. Thomas
Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions).
writer of this little essay is not unfamiliar with these
previously noted was in his work life drawn into them, albeit
the professional level of the doctors.
I have 18 years
trenches mental health, from
therapy in California in the 1970's, to
work with adolescents in the 1980's
to ten years
in a for-profit psychiatric facility in New Hampshire in
I've been a
a mental health worker. Nor
degrees in pre-seminary (B.A.)
and Law (J.D.)
My avocation (now
in retirement) is
this at a
level far beyond ordinary academic philosophy.
aside set out, let
of the paradigm of scientific materialism have been
consciousness and how that might arise from a material
brain still are
unable to explain how this happens or what consciousness
this thinking, the
of the idea of self-consciousness is just a cheap and easy
way to get
rid of a very big problem.
physics, the natural scientist
his own problem with consciousness, for
split-beam experiments prove in this field that the
indeterminacy of states of matter does not become "real"
observing subjective self-consciousness acts upon the
can't actually keep any longer his own subjectivity
outside the work - the
true also with regard to a great deal of research being
done on the
brain. The researcher
in these fields often has to ask the subjectivity (the "I")
of his subject
to engage in certain "mental"
order for a
brain scan to have something to look at.
The subject is
to look at pictures, try
memory and so forth. The
comes when the experiment is thought about afterward, and
tries to create his "model"
or theory, and
include the facts that the subjectivity of the researcher
researcher's subject, first
make a social agreement before the "mental"
knows he can't do this (refuse
longer to recognize the participation of his own
self-conscious choices) anymore, so
is time for those who do research on the mind to recognize
In Mind Matters, Grazzanica, having
likened brain to a mechanism, then
paradoxically: "A thought can change brain chemistry, just
as a physical event in the brain can change a thought". My
for Grazzanica is: what
think causes the
thought which changes
the brain chemistry?
the naive experience of any thinking subject, it
own self-conscious activity that directs thought.
In point of
fact, there is no
experiment and even no theory, without
thinking of the scientist.
leads us then is to this:
psychiatrist and the psychologist are human, and
flawed (as we all are
it not be
possible that hidden
modern theories of consciousness are assumptions that are
justified precisely because we have arrived at the above
the question as stark as possible: Can a
researcher or "healer"
in the field of "mental"
patients to treatments
would not do
or to his own children? Have
doctors prescribing ECT, for
example, actually had
answer is that it seems necessary to engage in this kind
help the patient. But
falsified by the fact that quite often the soul healer no
believes he is healing a subjectivity or
in fact is
really only altering behavior.
self-consciousness of the patient wants some kind of
relief from inner
the social order surrounding the patient seeks and needs
a change of behavior, which
same social order considers to be deviant, or
healer no longer thinks of the subjectivity as real, but
material brain, then
of gross processes and adjustments become possible, because
really only dealing with the alteration of a mechanical
system. Biological to
be sure, but (and
a kind of unrecognized denial)
thing, not a person.
The system of mental health seems to run itself these days, and the soul healer is just a cog in a unhealthy aspect of the social organism, whose purpose more and more requires of its participants that they not feel either sympathy or empathy with their patients.
not one of the costs to the psyche of those who work in
that they have to stop having normal human feeling, and
dehumanize their patients on some level in order to
subject them to
such powerful forms of suppression of the individual
spirit? Mental health
professionals routinely subject their patients to chemical
on behavior, while
same time never actually believing they are curing the
patient of a
Remember, please, psychiatry
become almost entirely behavioral in its approaches.
No longer is
the subjective inner state of being of the patient
by the need to define certain
as undesirable (the
attempt to modify them without respect
the subjectivity of the patient.
subjectivity (how they feel
treatment) of the
less and less a concern, and
of unwanted behaviors the entire goal, for
individual spirit is here being sacrificed to the assumed
needs of the
social organism for
order. Any individual
unable to conform to social order is quickly defined (already
school, and sometimes
even earlier in the family) as
criminally or mentally defective.
sociological perspective on this read: Deviance and
Medicalization: from Badness to Sickness, Conrad
a way out?
to answer that question, lets
look at the whole situating in its basic form.
Are the individuals crazy, or is Society crazy
First lets step back a bit and think about growing up in modern culture. What was it like to live in a family and go to school and then join the work force?
didn't like to sit still in class.
curious and perhaps gregarious.
You wanted to
touch things, and
them and talk to the other kids, and
stuff. You were full
of life and full of spirit.
adults around you had, even
your arrival, already "conformed"
to the social
norms, and so they
expected you to "conform"
behave you were probably physically and/or emotionally
one likes to admit how much this still
survived your families rules and the school's rules, you
work. At work you
had a boss and he had his rules too.
These also you
need to survive, because
order to live you had to eat, in
eat you had to have money to buy food, and
to have money you had to work for a boss.
were criminal or crazy, that
deviant and non-conformist - that
irrepressible of spirit in one way or another and wouldn't
normative social rules "just
Everywhere while growing up some "authority" (with a great deal of practical power over you) demanded you do what it wanted you to do, and not what you wanted to do.
go through this and it seems to make a lot of sense.
or less agrees this makes a lot of sense, and
it is the
normal or standard thing to do, so
everyone does it.
a problem, right?
a couple of things we tend not to connect to growing up
learning to conform to the social authority which has
enormous amount of effort to get us to be what it wants us
to be and
not to be what we want to be, such
ILLNESS, both PHYSICAL
energy and spirit that gets pressed down during growing
up, through the
exercised by the "authority"
social conformance urged upon us by society, moves
psychological and physical organism and causes stress and
all the good we believe we do by using our authority on
get them to conform to social norms, maybe
not such a good idea after all.
nature of the child has a kind of kinship with water and
similar fluids (there
are other kinships as well).
The one I have
in mind here, however, is
with a well known physical law: the
of fluids. This
your brake system on your car works. Because
brake fluid is incompressible, when
your foot on the brake pedal, this
fluid, trapped in the
tubes of the brake system, pushes
brakes (whether disc or pad).
other laws of physics the force of the foot gets
changes in the diameter of the tubes or assisted by engine
power (this makes no
difference to the analogy).
means is that when we use authority, either
family, and/or the
school and/or the work place to repress the spirited
nature of the
individual, we stress the rest of
and nature, both
and psychologically. [See
the film The Village, by M. Night
Shyamalan, for a fairy tale like metaphorical look at
these kinds of
later, when the
stressed individual acts "mental", or "criminal", we
problem with those social systems, which
and not less. Even
physical illness we do the same - the
profession uses its "authority"
to get us to
take drugs, and
are a "physical authority"
applied to our
bodies and minds. Instead
offering more freedom from stress, we
the stress (remember all those
nasty "side effects"?).
Maybe we really need to think out the whole damn structure of our social culture better from top to bottom, and in the meantime we ought perhaps to stop whacking the "mentally" ill (overstressed spirited human beings) over the head with more authority to conform (whether the rules of a hospital or the physical rules of a drug).
point of view, its
seem like society
is more crazy
than the individual; or, that
collective is more stupid than the one.
to the question of what might be done...
of this little paper is not to attack those called to the
professions of soul healing.
They are, in
fact, caught in
hand there is the social order that wants something done
hand is the massive presence of the paradigm of scientific
tolerate any mention of spirit or soul, but
insists (with less and less
evidence everyday) that
matter, and all
explanations of human existence must be based upon
create prophecies about the end of the human, and
the supplanting of
the human with the biomechanical. They imagine we
how to transplant the consciousness of the human being
into the memory
chips of a machine, thus giving us imperishable bodies and
other end are those - the "them"
know how much behavior is derived from Nature and how much
from Nurture. What
know, those of us
lucky enough not
caught up "in
the system", is
don't want someone messing with our inner life.
personal sphere of autonomy - our
impulses of will - this
guard even to the point of violence if necessary.
the American and
their individuality without getting
call them artists.
We worry about
tyranny, especially the
tyranny of the majority. We
gone so far today, that conformance
often seen as a
character flaw. That
is, until your non-conformance
goes too far.
and more the parents and friends of psychiatric patients
is done to their kin to be unjust, even
patient is often unable to advocate for
himself, others must
take up the task.
mount on the soul healer. If
back from this, and
look at it
as a kind of an organic process in cultural development, we
whether or not the soul healer is in fact just that person
who can do
the most for all parties, given
soul healer is already in the
the storm. If
healer takes a stand, then
be forced to pay attention.
the weight of scientific materialism
need for social order -> the soul healer <- the kin of the patients
healer is himself a spirit struggling to be scientific, a
the social order, kin
of some in
need, and perhaps
has even been a patient. All
surrounds the soul healer socially should help the soul
healer, instead of
demanding that the center conform to their one-sided point
of view. If we find a
way to heal the soul healer, we
begin to heal the whole.
First, concerning scientific materialism: This approach, in that it seeks knowledge of consciousness, makes one glaring fundamental error. It assumes nobody has studied consciousness before. The whole cultural history of mankind is full of such studies, all of which are practical and experimental and rational. Some seem to lean toward a vague mysticism, but this is only when see from the outside. The more modern are eminently scientific. A partial list: the Middle Way of Lua Tzu; Yoga; Tibetan and Zen Buddhism, Quabbalah; Gnosticism; Sufism; Alchemy; Rosicrucianism; Transcendentalism; Christian Hermeticism; and, Anthroposophy (this last is the most modern and scientific).
healer will find much to aid his ability to help
materialism overcome its own one-sidedness, by taking
his own path to self
social order: the
healer needs to speak plainly to power, and
that while political
can want almost
it wants is not possible, and
still have a free society. Go
too far in
eliminating deviance (something
and more hard to define), and
freedoms will be eroded. The
healer, being in the
middle of these social forces, needs
his views particularly respected, for
sees and knows certain aspects of the
whole. The social
order needs to follow the guidance of the soul healer in
how money is
spent and on what.
Third, concerning the kin of the patients: more and more the kin must accept that they are often (but not always) the best caregivers. Their hearts are most open and committed, but such care must be cooperative in nature ... all four groups, who surround the soul healer in the center have to work together. In practical terms this means that families and communities in which special individuals have been born and raised, perhaps need to stop wanting to send these individuals away, and hide them in institutions.
realize that the more they want to
socially deviant behaviors, the
that they be isolated
the rest. No
one, the conformist
or the non-conformist, can
themselves on another individual
being. Actions will
have consequences, and
will have a perfect life.
parts of this organism directed at soul health, is
trust and cooperation.
Each has a
role. All must sit at
the same table.
patience and agreement the whole can make progress, one
day at a
also needs to be said to the soul healer:
define deviant behavior as symptomatic of a disease (mental
locked in a box a whole other set of questions that need
to be asked.
among these questions are whether the social order itself
is healthy. If
order breeds deviance, then
why do we
blame the deviant? If
are material, why
do we even have a
debate about Nature and Nurture?
problem, from a
philosophy of knowledge point of view, is
live in a time where there is an excess of analysis, and
synthesis. Remember: the
enterprise (at the present, this
can change) is dominated
by analytic thinking - thinking
takes apart what it observes in order to make it
analyze. The fewer
define the experiment.
this, at the
beginning of the 20th
Century, knowing more
and more about less and less.
multiplies far faster than wise synthesis.
having confined itself to dealing only with what it could
exclusion of qualities), can
create a world view (the
big bang) based upon
number relationships - no
relationships having been investigated or understood.
healer, trapped in the
scientific model which only counts and takes apart, can't
longer understand his patient whose subjective psyche is
complex in the
extreme, and completely
inter-related and inter-dependent - not
soul healer there are almost too many variables,
at least in
the sense of what is acceptable science today.
become dependent on material chemistry (in
reality the soul healer faces is obviously a mixture of
chemistry and emotional or social "chemistry".
Perhaps we need an entirely new discipline: social alchemy,
be concerned with how we transform the soul-lead of human
darkness, into soul-gold for the benefit not just of the
the community as well.
the problem is the pursuit
soul healer of pure objectivity, following
sense) of physics.
kinds of rules (developed
over time in the history of soul healing such
as the problem of transference), the
healer more and more abandoned his own subjectivity.
in this field knows this, the
therapy work is often done in groups, and
great deal of perception on the part of the soul healer of "feelings".
chemistry has to be brought into the open.
In order to do
this, the best guide
is actually the self-awareness of the soul healer's own
feeling life. A
not seeing his own therapist on a regular basis is not
necessary standard of self discipline.
An explorer of
the spiritual dimensions of human inner life, that
studying with someone more experienced, will
into error. If
healer combines his work (that
studies his own mind and the art of soul healing), will
work not only with other soul healers, but
whose spiritual practice is mature.
want to move in this direction will find, obviously, a
mine field. Therapists
human and subject to much temptation - sexual
of the patient being an obvious case in point.
healer who pursues real self knowledge in an objective
fashion, will discover
that his best guide is his own moral attitude, a
is not at all simple.
best perceived when we develop the ability to think with
the heart. Thinking
the heart, however, is
best done when our
motive is to realize the good.
We will the
good, and then think
with the heart. Moreover, the
what is the good begins in the head.
We think first, what
good, then we will
the good and let the heart be what it was designed to be: an
this work in the realm of soul healing?
every human being wants is to be known and cared about
non-judgmentally by other human beings.
This is where
the child begins its life, and
the deep pain of growing up is lodged.
At the same
time this is a very frightening want.
We want our
truth to be known, and
order discourages us from expressing our truth.
order already in the family doesn't want the truth of who
we are, but rather
some kind of mask. Everyone
is already wearing masks, and
imitate from childhood onward.
The very first
thing deep psychological art we learn is to put on a mask.
the fundamental nature of childhood and it leads easily to
correlative creation of an outer personality - it
is a mask
designed to navigate troubled emotional seas.
We have how we
behave, and then who
we really are inside - known
secret self. Conflict
between the two modes of being - the
the reality. Everyone
the conflict in unique ways.
Some parts we
mask, other parts we
on the mixture are remarkable, and
really appreciate the nature of individuality - the true
spirit of the
individual human being - we
discover that scientific materialism has been itself a
mask hiding our
fear of religious domination for a long long time.
order itself put on a mask.
to manipulate this
for the benefit of commerce.
healer will find that in order to truly heal the
simultaneously help to heal the social.
to this vast work lie within his own humanity.
and heal the truth of ourselves, and
we at the
same time discover and heal the truth of the world. Fully
what the soul healer can know is available to him only
scientific and objective introspection.
At present the
soul healer only knows what is available through his
senses. What lies
landscape already explored by many others, remains
potential. Unexplored, the
the world is incomplete. Once
What happens when we do this
two common problems: hearing
and serious depression.
side of scientific materialism, these
reported phenomena are diagnosed as defects at the level
mind, as a mechanism, is
seen to be producing
such effects because those who are not seen as deviant
not experience them. The
thought of the soul healer is that since I do not
experience voices or become paralyzed with depression, such
must be a flaw in the brain chemistry itself.
conclusions then is that if I can change the brain
chemistry with drugs
or ECT, I have fixed
very reasonable, as
long as we
refuse to recognize the inherent contradictions and
present day limits
of scientific thought about consciousness.
example, we do
something very dangerous (only
time, and in this
essay, as a thought experiment), and
the possibility that the paranoid schizophrenics'
hearing voices is in fact accurate.
hearing voices that are real.
is not a normal condition for a human being, but
why do we
assume that because it is abnormal, it
is not true. The
does not automatically follow from the other.
Further, if we turn to the understanding of the historical (and recent) mind sciences (who dangerously don't accept that the mind is based in matter only), we will find all kinds of explanation for the voices. So as to not complicate things, let us just consider such a view as might arise in the West, and is modern and scientific: Anthroposophy.
voices are real, what, possibly, is
invisible people is to mock the experience of the
the experience, but
same time, this
precisely what we see when we notice a paranoid
down the street, seemingly
to the air - talking to
someone that is apparently not there (we don't see
defines this as insane and seeks to rid this individual of
experience. Yet, in
mind sciences, two
possibilities are recognized. One
the schizophrenic is talking to the dead, or
are engaged in a kind of spiritually abnormal dialog with
the double or
the shadow. These
sciences would not say that the individual talking to
is behaving in a spiritually healthy way, yet
same time they would say that what the schizophrenic
real, and not
illusory (albeit warped by psychic imbalances).
everything on its head, certainly.
redefines the problem, and
in a quite
significant way. The
once ceases to be one of ridding the brain mechanism of a
soul healing, for
is out of sorts in terms of the self-consciousness of the
is out of balance, and
out of balance can be restored to harmony.
this exclude physical therapies.
Rudolf Steiner, the
of Anthroposophy, gave
of lectures to an audience of both pastors and doctors, which
length and specifically about mental illness, putting
the idea that many such individuals needed both medical
and pastoral care, simultaneously.
give an example from personal experience.
I was working
on a woman's unit at a for-profit psychiatric facility
admitted a nun. She
member of an order that teaches children and she no doubt
exhibiting anomalous behaviors.
What struck me
as particularly tragic, was
she was in the hospital, the
ground of her spiritual life (daily
and Mass etc.) was
ignored. If fact, I
was the only
one who would talk to her about her spiritual life, and
clear how much she hungered just to have someone listen to
of her soul.
course, the reader may
now say this is ridiculous, but
no doubt has not practiced meditation and other inner
years. Had they
engaged in such practices, the
then take on an entirely different meaning.
and seeing things that supposedly aren't there is a common
spiritual development well know to those on a meditative
path. When mind
becomes sufficiently inwardly silent, it
becomes receptive to that which is otherwise too subtle to
experienced by ordinary consciousness.
subjectivity is actually more real than matter, and
wakes up to itself sufficiently, it
another world along side the one we normally experience
go too far here to give meditation instruction, but
least lets revisit some of what science thinks is knows.
For example, it
in an experiment, where
brain is being watched
with a CT scan, to
certain sequence: the
is asked to perform a certain mental function (solve
puzzle, for example), and
some point there appears to the scan a great deal of
activity in some
part of the brain, after
the subjectivity reports the solution.
observations are seen as demonstrating not only that the
the puzzle (after all the observed
electrical activity occurred in
time prior to the report of the solving of the puzzle), but
part of the brain was involved.
here isn't the observations being made by the
with the interpretation of their meaning.
that we pointed out the tendency in brain studies to leave
social agreement between the investigating subjectivity
subjectivity of the one whose brain is being studied.
knows he has to reinsert this into his appreciation of
what happened in
his split-beam experiment, so
lets do the
first thing that has happened is the social agreement by
self-consciousness of the scientist asked the
self-consciousness of the
research subject to
engage is certain activity (solve
puzzle in this case).
with the indeterminacy problem for the physicist, there
brain activity to observe without the social agreement
subjectivity of the one whose brain is being studied to
self-conscious mental activity.
The next thing
observed is the electrical discharges in the brain.
Prior to this, however, the
has inwardly acted (which the subject certainly
experiences, and the
scientist if he is honest about his own introspective
knowledge of his
own mind also regularly experiences).
train is: scientist
asks > subject acts
inwardly > brain activity
is observed > then
subject reports the solution to the puzzle.
brain activity is surrounded by four self-conscious
subjective acts, and
it is only
our preconceived paradigm that makes us isolate the brain
if it is causally independent.
The fourth act
is the scientist's subjective act of interpretation of the
1) scientist asks
2) subject acts inwardly
3) brain activity is observed
4) subject reports a solution to the puzzle
interprets the meaning of the experiment
observed brain activity is caused by the inner activity of
puzzle solving subject, and
the observed brain activity is a consequence of, not
the cause of, this
puzzle-solving act. What
actually being observed, once
ourselves of the constraints of the paradigm, is
act which needs a material brain to act in a material
subject can't hear the voice of the scientist asking for
physical ear, nor
research subject report the solution to the puzzle without
apparatus of the voice box.
example, we wired the
scientists up as well, we
the whole sequence of events quite clearly.
But every time
there was observable brain activity, there
to that the spiritual activity (thinking)
participants in the experiment.
know, there are lots
of brain activity going on without the self-conscious
the thinking subject, but
just goes to prove the observation of soul healers in the
prior to the full materialization of scientific thinking, when
others re-discovered the existence of the sub-conscious
elements of human inner life (something know to ancient
for centuries). The
subject has to be coaxed into sufficient self observation (talk
therapy) in order to be
able to report, what
otherwise been hidden from the I, or
process of self examination is aided by the modern mind
rooted in deep inner disciplines, then
possible to go even further in the direction of needed
can shed a great deal of light on the soul health of many.
Freudians etc. discovered
just the surface of a plane of existence already well
others, for centuries.
sub-conscious and unconscious aspects of human inner life
are already a
well explored territory.
understanding is then integrated with all the remarkable
on brain physiology and chemistry, a
unknown world of soul healing can result, such
and overly powerful drugs then become completely
of the material world have done a great work, which
limited in its
application by the restrictions imposed by the no longer
paradigm of strict scientific materialism (all
is matter, there
come at this once more, this
respect to depression, instead
hearing voices. What
deep explorers of our shared human inwardness already know
the basic phenomena of depression?
It is a
paralysis of the will, and
varying degrees. The
immobile the patient. Some
take to their beds and never leave, if
sciences of the Occident (as
those of the Orient - who
differently oriented in terms of goals)
recognized what is to be called: the
of the temperaments (the
and the melancholic).
quite apt objective observations of general human
quite useful in their application.
the temperament the course taken by depression will be
might ignore it until some crisis ensues, while
melancholic will find self-satisfied glory in it, for
it proves all his worst
similar to all is the influence of the double or the
shadow. There really
is no understanding of the human being without
appreciating not only
soul and spirit, but
dark side - the shadow.
One writer (see
on the Tarot, Arcanum
quite practical terms of the tempter, the
and of egregores.
older (and wiser)
terms for what
addicts know as the
monkey on my back.
I have taken
to abandoning that name (it
too archaic), and
the idea of wounds.
We bear wounds
in the soul (psyche), some
fester in such a way that they overwhelm our conscious
will. I point out
the temperaments and the three-fold nature of the shadow
suggest that this way of thinking is as equally complex
and rich as is
the present day conventional view.
Not only that, but
being offered here is meant to supplement, not
the conventional view.
mean to suggest that depression is complicated, and
one has to
in any event carefully observe and examine whoever has
such a problem
with attention to a lot of detail, for
is everyone quite individual, as
healers appreciate, the
is delicate, and
patient very vulnerable and unsure -
know what facts to share, and
hide relevant phenomena for a variety of personal reasons.
is clear that the basic problem is a paralysis of the
will, and a related
experience of life
is too much, then
we can be
fairly sure that the shadow, in
the form of
the prosecutor is in play. In
the soul, the
ego (or spirit)
by the dark.
aspect of the problem is that we tend to think that this
experience that should be eliminated -
believe, ought to not
suffer, but should be
happy. A choleric, who
easily ignore a deep case of the
upon a melancholic, who
this mood. Since
culture teaches no coherent inner disciplines (materialism
recognize their need), people
think that the ego can be taught how to manage their soul
life out of
their own inner will. Thinking
brain is the cause of all inner states, we
really following those lines of thought that would lead us
appreciating other possibilities.
cultural age where some think the self-consciousness is an
doubt never consider that this very self-consciousness can
master of its
life. Of course, all
people engage in serious self-help or self-development
success. Some people do
manage, through such
as the 12 Steps, to
addiction and alcoholism, using
discipline that sees the whole process as spiritual in
nature. Our culture is
full of examples where the I masters something of the
inner life, unless
in the mental health system, which
permitted (in general)
to apply any
other treatment modalities but medications.
found it the strangest kind of paradox, in the hospital
worked for ten years, to go from the adult unit to the
unit, where two
entirely different paradigms were at work.
What was even
stranger was to watch how those labeled dual-diagnosis were treated.
addict was a odd creature indeed (you
to read the treatment plans and the doctors intake
how weird this can be).
For the addict
was very acute, for
troubles them (their
addiction) tends to
require that they take no drugs at all.
But if they
are simultaneously described as bi-polar with an
depressive (those with mania
aren't so bothered by their so-called mental disease)
there is a big
you prescribe to an addict an upper to defeat their
survey the field over the last 40 years, we
how just at this juncture
profession itself created addictions to mood altering
drugs. Have a
mood disorder (that
is have a
soul state the culture defines as deviant), why
you a happy pill. Oh, sorry, you've
an addict to Valium now? Gosh, you
sure are a
wreck. (The system and the
doctors are not responsible -
serious study of
modern mind science, will
their ability to help people greatly increased with every
take in self knowledge and understanding.
be found in my books: the Way of the Fool;
and, American Anthroposophy.
the forces opposed to the self-development
of the soul healer
acquire power, and
leaders gain wealth and prestige.
corporations have a lot at stake in manufacturing drugs to help
Politicians like to be seen as doing
general don't want to be bothered by deviant behavior.
out for aid.
Like many people, the soul healer is confronted with a house of mirrors of choices. He can swim with the pack, or plot his own course. One way is easier, the other harder. Which way does Society need him to swim? If we define Society by its power structures, those structures will certainly need the soul healer to provide services that lets the powerful take action. In the Soviet Union, hospitalization for a "mental" illness was a political tool of a totalitarian State. Recently during the Bush II adminis