Turning our Fate into Freedom: Thinking Fission into Fusion (Part 2)
Fissions of the rational intellect.
"Michael Gazzaniga, a pioneer in this field, has studied people with ‘split brains,’ in which the right and left hemispheres can no longer communicate with each other, so normal sense-making is impaired. Taking advantage of the fact that information can only be fed to one side of the brain at a a time, Gazzaniga discerned that if the left brain is deprived of all of the information required to understand a situation, it will invent an explanation. In his studies, people who have not seen an object placed in their hand, such as a coffee cup, will make up a reason even if they do not know. “Oh yes, I have not had coffee today and was going to get a cup.”... For most of us, most of the time, our storytelling brain is a kind of black box that keeps the mechanics of what we are doing out of view. We don’t really notice how we are putting together stories: picking up different information, solving the ongoing mystery of what is happening by privileging some events, dismissing others and putting it all in an order that makes sense.
We generally only notice stories when they are brought to our attention as fictions: when we read novels or watch movies. In our everyday lives, as English professor Kay Young and medical doctor Jeffrey Saver have written, our story making is so well integrated into our lives that it is invisible. We don’t notice that our conversations are a process of developing a story with someone else, or the activity of selecting and ordering particular memories to make sense of our lives."
Our rational intellect is a master weaver of stories which give it the illusion of control over our conscious thoughts, feelings, and desires. Experiments like the one above reveal just how little our rationalizations about inner and outer experiences, formulated after they have taken place, reflect their actual origins within the depths of our being. In another experiment involving limbs moved by hidden computers, when asked about this movement, the participants speculated that they had moved their limbs by their own free will. That is the story they told themselves to explain what was, in fact, an external compulsion on their organism. No doubt the researchers who performed these experiments also forgot their conclusion as soon as they went about their own lives. We habitually forget to point our own reasoned conclusions back at ourselves when engaged in further inquiries or life activities. No sooner than we have understood the shortcomings of someone else's rational intellect have we managed to ignore our own. The first step to resolving an issue is always admitting to oneself that there is an issue to be resolved. No knowing impulse can be motivated within us if it is assumed we are already complete beings or that our incompletion is eternally destined, no matter what we do. It would have never occurred for our pre-modern ancestors to regard themselves in this way. That is the peculiar, polarized disposition of modern man alone. It is why the intellect refuses, under almost any circumstance, to take a hard look at itself.
The intellect senses that, once its deeper structure is unearthed, and the continuity between our current state of being and our higher potential Self is discerned, its own death is immanent. It is like a caterpillar who refuses to enter the cocoon, choosing rather to remain in its convenient and familiar physical form over sacrificing that form, dying, and metamorphosing into its higher creative essence (left-right brain polar balance). That rationalistic refusal manifests through the polarizing tendency we have been discussing. When the polarity of Spirit-Matter is made into a duality through the fission of the rational intellect, thinking will oscillate, out of necessity, between the two separated poles around an infernal loop of abstractions. Keep in mind, what we are exploring here applies to all polar relations, including, One-Many, Invisible-Visible, Eternal-Temporal, Conscious-Unconscious, and all others. These all express different qualitative dimensions of the same underlying Polarity. Sometimes, we say that immersion in 'mindful' contemplation is most important, other times that scientific inquiry of outer appearances is most important, and yet other times we will claim both or neither. None of the positions will be the result of our own independent reasoning, but the end result of someone or something else's ideas for how our thought-life should unfold. We then invent narratives which maintain the illusion that we freely chose the position after careful reasoning or because it's "common sense".
Next time you are in the shower, or wherever you spend time to think alone without too much sensory stimulation, try to observe how your thoughts were arising and fluttering about over the last few minutes, jumping from one topic to another in an erratic manner. The few times it even occurs for us to reflect on our own thinking in this manner, we will get a sense of how little control we had over its activity. When we venture out into the world of sensory stimulation, the situation only becomes worse. Then our thoughts become as polarized puppets, pulled around by the strings of the modern perceptual environment; an environment which itself has evolved from the polarized thinking. It is a vicious feedback loop into mostly over-materialized thinking, feeling, attending, and desiring. Our activity is sucked into digital screens, advertisements, political agendas, and all manner of forces which function to further enslave our thinking rather than liberate it. When our thinking is enslaved by unconscious forces, it inevitably projects its own flaws onto other people and 'reality-in-itself'. For example, logical confidence and conclusiveness will often be mistaken for "dogma" or "ideology", but it's precisely the opposite. We object to the force of ideological possession because it has rejected the utility of human logical reasoning. We say, "X simply cannot be reasoned with." Dogmatic thinking seeks to remain exactly where it is, never advancing towards conclusions more solidly rooted than its own airy fortress of prejudicial thoughts.
This unconscious compulsion on the rationalizing intellect was historically used to conclude humans are fundamentally 'unfree', since we can only think in deterministic loops imposed on us by external forces. Humans assume they are making "free" choices because they remain unaware of how 'oppressive' forces are always compelling their thoughts. We are like tiny men riding on the shoulders of a blind giant. Whether that giant is conceived as purely material, ideal, or some combination of both, most who overcame basic rationalism in centuries past fell right into this other polarized conception of human thinking. The reason for this trap is the same as before, but more difficult for the ego to discern and contend with. It's once again the cessation of logical reasoning via dogmatic thinking. What is the inner meaning of movement and its cessation? Living beings will wither away if they stop moving; their muscles will atrophy and, without constant external support, eventually their inner processes will fail as well. We most immediately discern whether we are confronting a living being when perceiving if that being is moving. We will conclude a man who is slumped over in a chair is likely dead, instead of asleep, when he fails to move in response to any stimulus. The dualistic mental habit will treat physical movement as separate from spiritual (ideal) movement, but it's easy to discern the former reflects the latter.
We only move physically of our own will when we first have the idea to move and the mental picture of where we desire to move; the idea evokes the will. This 'right brain' skill is learned very early in life and becomes so seamless for most movements that we hardly notice it taking place. The 'left brain' intellect will even tell itself the story that "ideal activity had nothing to do with my movement". That is also what occurs in relation to ideal movement. An otherwise well thought-out worldview, full of vitality when it was first born and grew into the world, will decay and die when it stops moving through the strength of further reasoning. The intellect will convince itself that "the worldview was never reasoned out in the first place", only perceived directly in the 'facts' or divined in some other way. This worldview then becomes another lifeless machine, living off of its past ideas which are growing dimmer by the day. Many modern, 'critical', and 'post-modern' philosophies, through this cessation of thinking-movement, became exactly like the mechanistic rational intellect they were criticizing. The psychological motivation for that cessation of reasoning and projection of limitation is also simple. It fortifies the intellectual superiority of the person who stopped reasoning. They no longer feel responsible for any further thinking effort, but, at the same time, they can declare their own current knowledge to be the pinnacle of human intellectual achievement.
"He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze too long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee."
- Friedrich Nietzsche
Because modern intellectuals could not personally imagine how we may come to reassert our reasoned and creative thinking in the world of material perceptions, they declared it must be an impossibility. Their localized limitations, born from cessation of thinking-movement, became fetters around the spiritual 'feet' of humanity at large. For the last 500 years, all of Western philosophy and science was either undertaken under duress of this projection or was attempting to escape its shackles, with very little success. To explore this dynamic a bit further, we will look at Spinoza's famous attempt to illustrate this conclusion of "fundamentally unfree human thinking" in the 17th century by analogizing the thinking human being to a stone which has become conscious of its own movement. Keep in mind, the criticism which follows is always aimed at the underlying mindset and those who blindly adopt it for themselves today, centuries later, despite having every opportunity to perceive its flaws, not the thinkers who originally formulated the arguments. Our memory of the past is not there for our own judgments against this or that particular person or idea, but for our learning and progress away from the shared mistakes of all people and all ideas.
"Now, please, suppose that this stone during its motion thinks and knows that it is striving to the best of its ability to continue in motion. This stone, which is conscious only of its striving and is by no means indifferent, will believe that it is absolutely free, and that it continues in motion for no other reason than its own will to continue. But this is just the human freedom that everybody claims to possess and which consists in nothing but this, that men are conscious of their desires, but ignorant of the causes by which they are determined. Thus the child believes that he desires milk of his own free will, the angry boy regards his desire for vengeance as free, and the coward his desire for flight."
- Baruch Spinoza
In this infernal loop, the rational intellect has spread itself over the entire Cosmos and reasoned only through its own fixed lens. Its own state of incomplete knowledge at any given time is assumed to be the highest possible capacity of human reasoning, for all people and for all time. Since when did humans begin finding it reasonable to stop reasoning? That arose when the modern intellectual felt he could stand apart from the phenomenon of "human thinking", as any other phenomena, and analyze it as a neutral observer. In other words, it is when we began abstracting ourselves out from observation of phenomena, as if our observation has no part to play in how the phenomena manifest. We discarded the subject who is thinking - ourselves - from the inquiry into "thinking". We think about the most complex phenomenon in the Cosmos as dead abstraction and refuse to observe it while it's still alive within us; to enter into the living reality of thinking as its flows forth from the wellspring of its Being through the external and internal forms perceived by our conscious intellect. Those forms, which are only dead husks of meaning remaining after thinking has extinguished its own life to gift us self-awareness, are idolized into the full and final essence of our thinking experience. It never occurs to us that an activity lives behind those forms, which comes to its expression through our own activity. Goethe was one of the few to observe that the scientific inquiry should always pay attention to its own reasoning process in relation to the objects of its inquiry. This rigorous phenomenological approach, 200+ years later, is still unknown to most.
"Do not stop on any step, no matter how high, or it will become a snare."
The spectrum of knowledge which a human being can attain is much deeper than the flattened intellect assumes. We can become aware of, not only our own actions at any given time, but also reason our way to the underlying causes for those actions. We can figure out some significant portion of the reasons why those motives exist and compel us. Does a motive for an action which I am unaware of exert the exact same compulsion on me as the motive I have become aware of? Is the child who compulsively desires milk the exact same as the adult who has perceived why he compulsively desires alcohol, such as an unexamined resentment or trauma? We are not compelled to let the preprogrammed computer code terminate once arriving to the only conclusion it was ever designed to reach. It is only the mechanistic intellect which keeps itself imprisoned, self-satisfied with the cell, cot, and the gruel it is given, pretending it has perfectly understood its own limitations. That alleviates a lot of thinking-responsibility for the guilty conscience, does it not? A person who is decreed unfree by Reality itself will not feel so burdened when failing to account for his own "unfree" actions (or lack of actions), although he will surely still demand everyone else account for theirs. Instead, we can begin observing the computer program itself, as it manifests within us, with genuine interest and honesty.
The words and concepts spit out by this program declare one thing, but the existence and action of the program itself declare the exact opposite. All of the philosophical endeavors of the last few centuries presuppose that human reasoning can go beyond the limits those endeavors concluded. Logic always has the upper hand, because its living power is perpetually presupposed and present within all the attempts to ground the World in some concept supposedly beyond it and immune to its reasoning. Whether that something is called "God", "Will", "Matter", or "Emptiness" makes no difference, because its meaning is always imbued by the Logic through which its conceptual structure is formed. It is the meaningful 'glue' which unites our concepts in coherent ideas. After a few centuries of history, philosophy, anthropology, math, science, and aesthetics, and the reasoning capacity presupposed in them all, the "unfree thinking" assumption/conclusion has become untenable. Even in this meager essay, we are reaching analogies which consistently marry surface appearances with their underlying forces through their shared inner meaning. We should nourish that into courage and conviction that the deepest questions of the Cosmos can be answered through our knowing activity, if we ask them sincerely and persistently.
"Unless we believe within ourselves this deeply rooted feeling that there is something higher than ourselves, we shall never find the strength to evolve into something higher."
- Rudolf Steiner
Polarity, dimensions, and our spiritual evolution.
"And this is what constitutes spiritual progress, that man integrates with the surrounding world. It is of little use to speak of these things theoretically. It is not particularly profound mystically to say that you are one with the world by merely thinking that you are, if you do not begin to experience the fact that when you are thinking you are living in the entire Earth's light."
- Rudolf Steiner
As we continue our own inquiry, then, we will be more self-aware of what we are doing. Instead of abstracting further away from the Logic our activity is presupposing in every moment, we will try to become more intimate with it. All of our reasoning through polarities, dimensions, kingdoms, etc. is a way to perceive, in broad outline, the Logic which brought humanity to its current cognitive condition from its previous conditions and what that might suggest about the path back to our ever-present Origin in conscious freedom. We are unearthing some portion, however limited at first, of the meaningful activity we are normally unaware of when thinking, which is always conditioning that thinking. The more man knows thyself, the more he also knows the Cosmos as a whole, spatially and temporally. This inquiry is a means of living in the Logic which in-forms all the world's perceptual content. Our concepts and conclusions are not nearly as important as consciously participating within the process that forms and concludes them. That process is the Logos principle permeating all modes of thinking and all forms of thought. It is the self-sacrificial thinking which continually dies in our thoughts so that we may be self-aware of the meaning we experience in our lives. If we keep that grace of the Divine Thinking in heart and mind, then the discussion will have more living meaning for us; more freeing potential.
"Now imagine the inner being of a Divinity that has in this way created a universe, with itself as the center. If, for example, you imagine yourself as the central point in this room, surrounded not by these six surfaces of walls, ceiling and floor, but by a hollow globe that reflects its content, you will see yourself, as the central point, reflected on all sides, everywhere. In like manner you can picture a Divinity as a central will, reflected on all sides, and the mirror is both image of Divinity and the universe. For what is a universe? Nothing but a mirror of the essential nature of Divinity."
In the previous essay, we saw how the perceptual reflection of the zero-dimensional Cosmic seed radiating Light outwards is the entire visible Cosmos radiating darkness inwards and metamorphosing in Time. Then we evolved to the one-dimensional line of the spiritual-material polarity, with each pole having an inward and outward force. The perceptual reflections of this polarity are the four fundamental forces we know as gravitation (material), electric and magnetic (material-spiritual), and nuclear (spiritual). Remember, our investigation is premised on the fact that the visible world, with all of its perceptions - inner and outer, natural and cultural, mathematical and aesthetic - is a reflection, shadow, dream, of the ideal (spiritual) Cosmos. The material evolution also led to reflections (outer perception) nested within other reflections (inner perception). It doesn't matter what label we use, as long as we understand that there is a lawful, continuous, precise relationship between the imperceptible Idea, its reflections, and the reflections of its reflections; the ideal forms and their manifold shadows. It is the same principle when we move in front of a mirror and first only perceive outer structures of skin, eyes, hair, and teeth. As soon as we bring our thinking into motion, even just a little bit, we discern there is an agentic source of the reflections with inner qualities of meaning; emotions, desires, hopes, thoughts. The trickier part is to also remember these inner forms are reflections as well.
Reader's tip: Since our current perceptual world involves many qualitative dimensions folded within each other, leading to reflections within reflections within reflections, we should avoid a myopic perspective on any particular details of the perceptual reflections being discussed. If we focus on the particulars too much, then we will become lost in this house of mirrors. If a person is only aware of images in a mirror, then they will get nowhere by studying its details. The goal is to trace these reflections back to their holistic meaningful context in full consciousness, which is done by entering back into the formless living flow of meaning which gave rise to all the reflections but is not identical to any of them or all of them combined. Here, we can try to always treat the details loosely as symbols pointing to the overarching Spirit of the discussion we are engaged in.
When we awaken from a dream, we may discern with our reason the broken heater translated into the meaningful dream imagery of erratic activity and a treacherous journey. That is akin to the inner meaning we experience when we are shivering cold. If we turn our view upwards, we may discern the great forms producing the tangled shadows on the ground beneath us. Notice we don't attain higher understanding through the lens of the reflections, shadows, and dreams, but only when we awaken and look up. These are both images for bringing our higher reasoning into motion. The reflecting doesn't understand the reflected; the shadows don't understand their source; the dreaming doesn't understand the awakened. Along with the lawful continuity between the material and spiritual poles, that is one of the most important principles for the rational intellect to discern today. The over-spiritualized perspective of the intellect denies the lawful continuity within the poles, while the over-materialized perspective ignores that its dreaming intellect will only realize there are incoherencies and incompletions in its perceptual experience after it awakens. Sound logical reasoning from experience, without any prejudice, strikes the polar balance. Evolving from lower to higher dimensions is also an image for moving from purely instinctual thinking behavior (2nd) to reflective thinking (3rd), to higher synthetic reasoning (4th).
So, when we have understood how dream imagery can reflect the inner meaning of material processes while asleep, we can also reason out what inner meaning the material processes reflect when we are awake. What connection is there between our shivering coldness in the waking world (material), for example, and more integrated inner meaning (spiritual)? Notice the connection between areas with persistently cold climates and a populace which suffers from more psychological conditions like depression and physiological addictions like alcoholism. Humanity has evolved to feel isolated by this coldness, as if surrounded by an element which entirely alien to the soul. The "North" is often symbolized as the source of great threats and evils to humanity in our cultural mythologies. Warm, flowing meaning from the collective Memory has condensed into landscapes of frozen perceptions and these isolate us from the broader Earthly and Cosmic rhythms. By that same token, some of the most individual, independent, and penetrating reasoning emerges from such climates. These personalities are intensely motivated to provide from within the warmth of meaning they are naturally deprived of from without, assuming they become self-aware of their conditions and do not remain frozen still but bring their inner core of heartfelt reasoning into motion. They take what has become only dormant potential energy within themselves and make it active kinetic energy again, radiating as Light out into the world of fixed forms.
Humanity's lawful evolution flows forth from our inner thinking-organism in this manner. We must first find the perceptual reflections which correspond to our own conscious thinking activity in the World Content and their continuity with the thought-essence from which they arose; the original Being within our conscious thinking which manifests itself through all the World Forms. Currently, it manifests most immanently within our own willed thought-forms, such as the form of "triangle". What significance does this triangle-form we picture inwardly have for our essential activity? It is the simple fact that we willed it into existence, we imbued it with meaning, and we perceive the final product of that activity. We then have a tiny, yet complete circuit of meaningful activity from inner will to outer thought-perception; a corner of the World Content we can plant our flag into and call our own. Pause to observe the sense of peace born of this simple participation. When we set our own thinking into motion to reunite perceptions with their meaningful concepts, rather than reflexively producing concepts in response to an 'external' sense-world, we are encouraged and comforted by our own spiritual agency in the world. We transition from passively receiving meaning from the world to actively giving meaning back to the world. Our dependent, selfish thinking becomes more selfless and responsible for itself.
“Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning
Let's resume some considerations of how we evolved to where we are through the fourfold dimensions of our current existence. Consider the following simple illustration to orient your first-person perspective. Imagine you are in an orchard among many different trees, with oranges, apples, peaches, and fruits of all kinds. They are of all different sizes, colors, and shapes. When you pick them and take a bite, they are of all different tastes as well. Each fruit stimulates a slightly different tincture of tastes on your palette. You are enjoying the fruit, but every next bite gives a new meaningful experience; new knowledge for your soul to in-corporate. Every new fact of experience creates new desires, new feelings, new thoughts, and new perceptual associations between them. You must begin differentiating between 'good' fruit and 'bad' fruit. Eventually, you are involved in a staggering complex of fruit-experiences. To make sense of them, you must reason your way back to the meaningful qualities they all share. You must work back from the manifold experiences to the fruits which gave rise to them, from the fruits to the leaves, the leaves to the branches, and the branches to the roots. Unlike your instinctive grasp at the fruit above for personal pleasure, you voluntarily descend to the roots below in full consciousness for shared understanding. Your lawful reasoning is a rhythmic descent-ascent, fall-redemption process in this manner.
You arrive to the meaningful principles which unite the patterned experiences, like the cultivation of orchards, tree growth by water and sunlight, planting of trees, and tree development from seeds. As you move from 'gathering' the fruits of perceptual experience, to the differentiation of that experience and their perceptual associations, and the integration of that experience into knowledge of its underlying principles, you have evolved through the 2nd and 3rd dimensions into the 4th dimension where most currently reside. Remember, the 4th dimension embeds all the lower dimensions as well - unlike the abstract scenario of purely material evolution, no past modes of experiencing are forever lost to us. Those modes, however, have been heavily aliased and veiled. A natural tradeoff has occurred between clarity of perception and holistic context of perception; between left (material) and right (spiritual) 'brain' cognition. From the material perspective, the uncertainty principle governs - an increase in 'precision' of measurement along one dimension, such as position or momentum, comes at the expense of understanding the holistic quantum state. That is why, after reasoning carefully within the 4th dimension, you will eventually ask yourself, "what is my own relation to these principles of meaning I have unconcealed"? You behold the meaningful principles, but the holistic context, i.e. the integral role of the Subject who is beholding the meaning, remains veiled.
You will look at the fruits, the trees, the seeds, the water, and the sunlight more carefully and intensely. These phenomena will be broken down into smaller components, abstracted into new technical concepts, rearranged into exciting new configurations, and given an air of dignity in aesthetic models. Nowhere will you find yourself in these models, however. You will eventually grow disappointed and weary. Your own activity will not be reflected anywhere in all these outer perceptions, concepts, and principles. Finally, you will forget that you were searching for yourself - something important will remain missing, but you struggle to remember what it could possibly be. Like the characters in the movie Inception who descend into "limbo", you will grow an "old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone." This feeling that you cannot find yourself in the outer dream-world, no matter how hard you look, should be nourished. It should become an impetus to look within for the meaningful activity which awakens you, through three nested archetypal layers of dreams, to your higher Self. Within you, the inner Meaning within the meaningful principles uniting the perceptual world reveals itself. This flow of Meaning within meaning - Thinking within thinking - illuminates your own agency and reunites it with that flow. Your conscious imaginations gradually become the body of your Thinking, and the Spirit becomes its Soul.
"I have tried to show you how that emergence is rhythmically accomplished, as is the incoming of a tide with its advancing, and yet continually withdrawing, waves. While he is dead--and then also during his life, while he is asleep--the slowly and painfully emerging individual spirit is again encapsuled for a time within the choir of the hierarchies who brought about its birth and who foster its growth into maturity; yet--more within them now, as more without them when he was awake in his earthly life--he himself becomes increasingly the co-agent of his own transformation."
- Owen Barfield
We have arrived at the metamorphic stage where we must discover a Rosetta Stone which deciphers the currently non-sensed meaning within the hieroglyphs of outer and inner forms. Fortunately for us, this Stone is not buried under mountains of physical sand, but is the cornerstone within the foundation of our own soul. It is our own inner Cosmos of thinking, feeling, and willing activity. Turning our knowing activity inwards is how we come to reveal the higher-order forces which subconsciously steer our perceptions, thoughts, feelings, and desires. The outer and inner manifestations of the world, including our own thought-forms, are only shadows of these forces. They are reflections in the 'mirrors' which are the outer and inner worlds we currently perceive. It bears repeating, the mirroring principle also extends to our inner forms as reflections concealing inner meaningful activity. That concealed inner activity is the same activity which fashions the outer forms we perceive external to our "I", which are like double-reflections in the mirror. That is why we gain greater understanding of the outer forms by penetrating within the inner forms. All of this can start sounding very remote and abstract, but that's because we have not yet made it more immanent to our own experience. We won't really understand what it means to be burned until we hold our hands to the flame; what it means "to know" until we have harnessed that flame's power from within. The inner investigation is not arbitrarily painful, however, but a sacrifice which is rewarded many times over in existential meaning.
Reuniting the material and spiritual poles; the outer and inner.
"... modern man has heard enough about guilt and sin. He is solely beset by his own bad conscience. And wants rather to know, how he is to reconcile himself with his own nature. How he is to love the enemy in his own heart and call the wolf his brother?"
- Carl Jung, Ending Your Inner Civil War
Our willing-and-thinking organism is always flowing along the 'curvature' of meaning. When some meaning moves across the mirror of the embodied human soul, it is reflected to our thinking-organism as perception. That is how we take non-sense and make sense of it, i.e. reflect meaning into perceptions. The soul, at its current stage of evolution, takes cohered perceptions and 'decoheres' them via our thinking-organism, currently steered around by subconscious forces, into the mineralized forms and processes of the sensory world. These forms are now about as varied as they can possibly be; they come in all shapes, colors, sizes, smells, tastes, durations, etc. Everything from the firmament we perceive in outer space on a starry night to the dust particles on our carpet, transforming through duration, reflects to us meaningful activity moving in front of the mirror that is the World Soul. These forms are always found within a meaningful context of many other forms. We must remind ourselves, the forms of our inner experience - desires, feelings, thoughts - are also reflected meanings in the same way. All these meanings are essentially interwoven with each other - none of them are reducible to each other - but, beginning in the first millennia B.C., they came to be isolated and reduced by our intellectual vision for more precise analysis, which culminated in the entirely fixed consciousness of the last 500 years.
Plato thus described the perceptual world as the Body which crucifies the World Soul. This image is more-than-metaphorical since our intellectual thinking does actually fix meaning in spatial dimension for observation and analysis. Every moment we are conscious, meaning is crucified into perception, and we are the ones carrying out the sentence. When we began idolizing the reflected perceptions, no longer imbued with living meaning, into the Reality itself, modern abstract philosophy and science was born. We were then content to know nothing other than our own thought-creations rather than the meaningful activity from which they are always precipitating. The modern perceptual environment provides us many helpful ways to conceive this process, if we are aware to look for them, because much of what we perceive around us is meaning which was fixed into perception with relatively little lag time. Our computer technology, for example, was manifested through ideas conceived not too long before we gained access to them in our common perceptual environment. There has even developed a marketing strategy centered around "planned obsolescence" of technology, which works effectively because the spirit-matter lag time has decreased so much.
This rapidly revolving digital technology is very mechanistic and tyrannizing of our senses. When reading this essay, you are engaging in a form of information consumption which is palpably less alive than any previous form. The letters are mostly homogenous typeface, the artificial screen light dulls our vision, and the overall experience is entirely impersonal. Even if I include varied fonts, colors, and pictures, they are only dim remnants of the life found, for example, in medieval illuminated manuscripts. Even worse still, as Marshall McLuhan observed, "the medium is the message". All the meaning conveyed via this digital medium is significantly deprived of life-giving potential. We must be honest that our intellect's mental habits are always conspiring with the environment born of those habits to dig our graves a good deal deeper. Becoming aware of this polar relationship between meaningful idea and fixed perception is a critical first step of tracing back from the latter to the former. It should always be a living tracing for us, heartfelt and inwardly energetic. Our Will-to-meaning via living Thinking, now more aware of its own presence in the reflected forms of the world, becomes the means of freeing that same will from the fateful Cross of fixed perceptions.
It is not only the computer environment which instructs our analogical reasoning, but the entire modern environment. When we drive our vehicles down the highways through our towns and cities, we are in ideas, moving on ideas, which take us through ideas. Every car, every road, every sign, and every building reflect to us meaningful ideas which were made manifest through human thinking. Every regulation on our public activity was born through many centuries of such ideations, known as "common law". We can try hard to maintain the continuity of perception between these cultural forms and the natural forms which are not so easily traceable to their ideal sources. These forms also unfold through a logical, i.e. lawful, structure. The only reason we hesitate to use the word "logical" in connection with natural forms is because we have abstracted most of the meaning out of Nature and her lawful transformations. We are even at risk of abstracting out the logical structure of cultural forms today. If we perceive some portion of that continuity of meaning between cultural and natural forms, however, we have then imbued our reasoning with the more abundant life of the Logos principle. Consider the central role of Logic in mathematics and how naturally processes can be mathematically described. By considering these connections, which are out in the open for anyone to consider, we set out on a path from the fated life of abstract mechanism to the freeing life of Logic and Reason.
A sacred tool for making a living connection between the outer and the inner sphere of experience is the reversal of outward judgments so that they point back inwards. We are driving in our ideas, on our ideas, and the idea of another person swerves into our lane without first signaling its intention to us. Here we think, "if I had been paying more attention, this driver's idea would not have been put in a position to cut me off in that way. I apologize and must pay more attention in the future." The point of this exercise has little to do with the "truth" or "falsity" of our inward judgments, but the fact that turning them inwards with sincerity will internalize the ideas and bring to light logical associations we would not have otherwise made. In that process of confession and repentance, we will also realize our outward judgments are not as unrelated to our own activity as we normally fail to imagine. We will discern how often events could have proceeded differently if we had been more aware of ourselves, of other people, and of our shared circumstances on the intersecting highways of ideal life. Modern technology and culture, which is normally sucking the life out of thinking when we mindlessly consume it, can be redeemed into ideal forms made conscious and conquered anew by our Thinking. We transfigure the World Content into our own Thought-Content and will it back into the Cosmos as a whole.
Natural and cultural reflections of the Spirit at higher levels of integration.
We are now going to consider the evolved laws, principles, and archetypes which we, as atomized human perspectives, and collective groups, are reflections and shadows of. Our collective spectrum of conscious inner experience, embodied in families, communities, nations, epochs of time, and kingdoms of the Earth, is also reflection of meaningful activity functioning at much higher levels of integration. The primal polar forces are reflected in the 'Kingdom of God'; the perceptual domains we know as the mineral (1st), plant (2nd), animal (3rd), and human (4th) kingdoms. A significant complication is added from our current perspective when we understand that, when we move from our domain of inner thought-experience (human) to the lower domains, we are also moving into additional layers of decohered meaning i.e. veiled abstractions. That is another way to conceive of "abstraction" and accounts for why we perceive the outer forms of the plant and mineral kingdoms with little to no life whatsoever. We will not tease out these veils of meaning too much further, for sake of simplicity, but it will be helpful to remember that they exist as we proceed. When people attempt to capture essential world processes by modeling them with concepts, they are moving in the opposite direction as we are here.
We already don't understand the reflections of our inner world or double-reflections of the outer world, yet our abstract intellect seeks to reflect entirely new models of the double-reflections and somehow derive essential world processes that way. Here, by understanding all outer and inner forms are only symbols pointing to dynamics of inner meaningful activity - forms which require deciphering via sound inward reasoning - we move towards concreteness instead of abstraction; towards the enlightened sources of those shadowy forms. Although we are focusing on the human individual's inner organism, that is a means of discovering the archetypal principles at work throughout the entire ideal Cosmos. It will help to consider the original pre-modern meaning of "individual".
early 15c., "one and indivisible, inseparable" (with reference to the Trinity), from Medieval Latin individualis, from Latin individuus "indivisible," from in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + dividuus "divisible," from dividere "divide".
Three persons unified within one essence. That is the traditional understanding of the Trinity, and that is also what the human individual reflects with her three spheres of forces, united through the Ego-"I" principle. All of the lower (less consciously integrated) kingdoms are embedded within her. The image below is not to be taken too rigidly, although there is a deep mathematical symmetry which develops through the evolutionary process and is now reflected in the perceptual organization of the human form. Keep in mind, the below represents how we currently perceive the fourfold principles from our material perspective.
Sphere of Ego-"I" (gold): The "I" is the uniting principle. The process of self-reflective thinking generates infinite thought-forms and provides the gate through which our consciousness can permeate the other three spheres. From the current material perspective, for the average person, the "I" is only conscious of lower sense-world reflections connected with the physical body.
Sphere of Soul-Forces (red): The entire spectrum of desires (impulses, instincts), feelings, and perceptions, mostly subconscious to the "I" currently.
Sphere of Life-Forces (blue): Nutrition, transportation, excretion, respiration, reproduction, sensitivity, and growth (shared by all living organisms). Almost entirely subconscious, with exception of respiration process after deep meditation.
Sphere of Physical Forces (black): Gravitational, Magnetic, Electric, Nuclear; shared by entire Cosmos. A 'black hole' of inner experience for our current perspective.
The human soul embeds the four physical forces which all four kingdoms share, the seven life-forces of the plant and animal kingdoms, the vast soul-forces of the animal kingdom (encompassing desires, feelings, and perceptions), and her own kingdom with infinite self-reflective thoughts. That, at the broadest level, is what it means for the human soul to be a "microcosm of the Macrocosm": to have the 'Kingdom of God' within her. We now participate in every sphere of meaningful activity within the ideal Cosmos, although most people are only conscious of a tiny sliver. We are dealing with qualitative jumps between these experiential domains which cannot be explained by strictly quantitative changes within the visible world, including the human genome. How can a strictly quantitative increase give rise to reflective thinking and its qualitative infinities? That simply does not stand to our logical reason. That is why spatial idolatry will lead us completely astray. Spatial dimension is a manifestation of meaningful activity, not the other way around. We actually exist throughout the entire spiritual Cosmic depth structure with different members of our Willing-Feeling-Thinking organism. As a metaphor for this ideal existence, consider how, for most of us, our entire life unfolds within a narrow spectrum of spatial locations.
The rich meaning of our lived experience can be condensed into a relatively small domain of space. We will speak often about the vast world "out there", but it remains speculation with increasingly less meaning over time. The point here is that the concrete world beyond our limited experience exists as shared meaningful activity within us, always potentially accessible, not as abstract spatial dimension extending away from us. When my activity perceives overarching Ideas - like Justice, Freedom, Peace etc. - it is living in ideal space with others who are also perceiving those Ideas, albeit from different spatiotemporal angles. We are much closer to other spiritual beings than we are currently aware through the spatializing intellect. To become more conscious of this spiritual companionship, we ascend to the higher dimensions of meaningful existence from which the spatial dimensions precipitated as material reflections. In the previous essay, we illustrated our simple two-dimensional polar perspective with nested circles connecting all points across the spiritualizing (red) and materializing (blue) spectrum of activity. A three-dimensional perspective manifests as we begin reflecting on this polar rhythm of experience. We eventually flatten out the dimensions for purposes of intellectual analysis and material aims.
The reality is that the phenomenal world of appearances now manifests from our first-person experience in four-dimensional spacetime, i.e. we perceive 3-D objects transforming through Time. We are not returning to previous states of meaning in any way, shape, or form, but integrating all such ways, shapes, and forms into higher states of meaning. Just as the human soul embeds all the lower kingdoms within, the later cycles of the matter-spirit, descent-ascent rhythm embed all the previous cycles as potentially accessible Memory. None of it has disappeared from existence or been permanently blocked from our consciousness. One way to visualize this spiraling upward of integrated perspectives is to simply shift our intention when viewing the image. Instead of intending it to reflect flat two-dimensional circles, we thoughtfully will it to represent a three-dimensional 'cone' which is spiraling from the bottom layers upwards (the outermost circles inwards). We are able to shift the perception with our intention because meaning is prior to perception. Put another way, meaning is always a necessary condition of perception. Since, at our current stage of evolution, we are four-dimensional beings who have attained the thinking-degrees of freedom to manipulate perceptions in one, two, and three-dimensions, we can give this image some three-dimensional depth by intending that meaning for it.
We are exploring the deeper meaning of the image in thinking, which then precipitates into a slightly different perception where we perceive the front side of the 'cone'. Please take careful note of this capacity because it also holds for higher dimensions. When we come to consciously live in those dimensions with our "I", even the fourth dimension of linear time-experience can be shifted through intentions as well. We are only saying here that there is continuity of Logic between our conscious experience now and potentially higher consciousness. Eventually, these assertions must be confirmed through experience, but our living Reason can perceive the Logic which practically necessitates them now. The point is not to fully understand the implications of that Logic, but only to perceive that it exists. It is as real as the Logic which informs us that there are other planets in the solar system orbiting the Sun in mathematically precise ways, even if we have not personally seen and measured those orbits. Or, more fittingly, the Logic that informs us there are black holes existing in the Cosmos, which appear to destroy all light and information, again in mathematically precise ways, even though we cannot possibly perceive these black holes with our current vision, since they annihilate all material perceptions.
The physical-mineral forces of the 1st dimension are found working through all actions (movements) within the Cosmic organism, as they also work through our own actions as localized human perspectives. At the next higher level of integration (2nd), we come to the seven life forces (plant), then the manifold soul forces (3rd; animal), and finally the infinite thought-forces of the Spirit who is uniquely embodied by humanity (4th). These are all how things appear from the material perspective, i.e., how the ideal forces appear to us when reflected through the dimensions. We also move from order to disorder in this progression. Some limited portion of all the domains outlined above are visible to us now. The stars and planets in the heavens above move through the firmament of meaning like clockwork, never deviating from their adopted and appointed journeys. Our mineral kingdom on Earth also flows through its meaningful processes peacefully, especially in those few nooks and crannies where it isn't entangled with human civilization. The plant kingdom progresses through its living transformations lawfully, but we have also appropriated much of it to our own selfish ends. In the animal kingdom, we begin to see many instances of erratic and cruel behavior, red in tooth and claw. Still, the predator-prey relations of the animal kingdom are nowhere near as twisted as our own.
They do not lay waste to the biosphere or wipe each other out en masse. Animals don't derive enjoyment from seeing other animals suffer or die. Only humans, at our current stage of evolution, are prone to such perversions. The human intellectual perspective is so fragmented and complexified that it has forgotten any forces higher than itself; any moral order within the Cosmos to which it is accountable. Let's also observe how we move from what is collective to what is individual through these dimensions of archetypal experience. Our physical bodies share their substance with the entire Cosmos and Earth. About every seven years, our entire material constitution has flowed back to these expanses and a new one has taken its place. Our physical being dies and renews, descends and ascends, falls and is redeemed, in this manner, every seven years. The implications of these rhythmic realities are only now dawning on those who study the fragmented fields of science for a living. The question is whether there is still time for these insights to permeate broader culture, and the only reasonable answer is for us to make the time by being responsible.
"But consider the following thought experiment. Imagine an extraterrestrial humanoid life form whose mode of visual recognition was based on the enumeration of the material components that make up particular [manifestations] of general types, rather than on the identification of the general types that are instantiated by particular [manifestations]. Imagine, further, that this alien lands on Earth at a particular location and encounters two dogs: a living dog and a robotic dog. The alien scans the two dogs, catalogues their material constitution for future identification, and returns home. A few years later, the alien returns to Earth to the same location and faces the two dogs it encountered in its first trip. Despite being in the presence of the same two dogs, the alien’s cognitive apparatus is such that he is only able to identify the robotic dog and not the living one. From the alien’s perspective, the living dog of the first trip has faded out of existence, and an entirely different living dog has taken its place. What this admittedly fanciful thought experiment is meant to illustrate is that, if one focuses on matter rather than on form and allows for a sufficiently extended period of time, the stream-like nature of macroscopic organisms becomes perfectly evident. The fact that this does not happen to be easily perceptible to us does not make it any less true or important."
- Everything Flows: Towards a Processual Philosophy of Science (2018)
We also have relatively stable qualities like our temperament and character, which weave us into communities and nations. Each individual has a character which also coincides with the character of his broader social community. These relationships can endure for our entire lives. We then have more tumultuous qualities, like our passions, desires, impulses, emotions, which fluctuate more rapidly, but are still relatively difficult to work on consciously. If our life temperament moves at the speed of a clock's hour hand, our soul qualities move at the speed of its minute hand. Finally, we have our Ego-consciousness which is much more individual to each personality and relatively unstable, like the nucleus of radioactive isotope. It is prone to many potentially destructive thoughts - ones which can wipe out entire societies and their infrastructures at our current level of technological integration - but it also carries the potential for lifting us out of fixed, categorical identifications with our own family, race, nation, culture, and even species, so that we are much less likely to employ the integrating technologies in these destructive ways. That latter potential will depend on us. Our meaningful spiritual activity, which manifests through the use of our Ego-consciousness, is the determining factor in turning our fate into freedom.
"I am the decisive element - it is my personal approach that creates the climate; it is my daily mood that makes the weather."
What can be done to redeem the disorderly and egoistic thought-life of current humanity, except to re-member and re-cognize the higher-ordering ideal forces exist and how they work into our own perceptual experience? The cure lies in the poison itself and we are only wasting precious energy if we continue to look elsewhere, as so many of our modern predecessors did. Our already 'thought thought', which we perceive within as something finished and devoid of life, can become thinking thought, i.e. thought which still has traces of its thinking-life present, extending our perception deeper into the meaning of higher archetypal dimensions. Eventually, thought thought and thinking thought synthesize into living thought, which actively continues to think deeply without emptying itself of life. Living thoughts becomes increasingly more united with the objects of its activity. We can remain self-aware and alive enough to really appreciate our awareness and life. So much so, that we are even willing to lay down that life for the benefit of our fellow beings. That is the great redemptive purpose of the perceptual world, which actuates itself through the Logos principle and comes to life in our inner reasoning. These are not linguistic games of the intellect, but liberating forces of the increasingly conscious Spirit, which any individual can begin experiencing today.
In the next essay, we will wrap up some considerations here of more integrated natural and cultural perceptions, reuniting the outer with the inner and the inner with the inner-inner, and begin exploring another domain of analogical reasoning from the material to the spirtual - from our fate to our freedom - in the context of Western mythology, art, and literature. As we move through philosohy and science into aesthetics, remembering how the former naturally evolves into the latter, we are approaching the threshold of the fourth dimension with our Reason; the 'border' of higher conscious worlds where what we know as "art forms" are more integrated and, therefore, living reflections, shadows, and dreams of meaningful spiritual activity. These aesthetic narratives, with their archetypal symbols, unfold through a higher order Logic which we can discern within us. Everything humanity has so far imagined in the last 200 years, whether expressed through art, books or movies, points to activity which is of immense reality and significance, if we simply remember to differentiate its material expression from the inner meaning it is reflecting, and to then seek out the fusion of inner meaning with inner thinking through the nucleus of our Ego-"I". Our collective imaginations can only made actual through the higher potential of the Spirit - the Logos - who lives in us as logical reasoning.