Aristomenes X

Seize the initiative and claim yourself. Be determined to grow and thrive. Choose to choose no matter what, and embrace all meaning vibrantly alive. To create, to redeem, to be free as was meant.

Month: March, 2016

Growth and Revelation – Part III

The tribal stage is the herd stage where humans are conditioned into whatever their early life impressions program into them. The tribal or herd stage, however, does not amount to being in a complete and utter zombie trance. The first three veils are indicators of one’s maturing by progressively dissolving their conditioning, learning to stretch the boundaries of what they take as real, so they can challenge their programming without completely throwing off its yoke. By the third veil one has reached the outer boundary of  normalized social conditioning.

This is also the boundary beyond which cognitive dissonance and latent defense mechanisms that protect one’s sense of security (or complacency) come into play. If we continue to push the envelope and defy our status quo thinking process, we enter the domain of the true skeptic. This arena of challenge is also the point of reference where the true hero’s journey begins in my opinion. It is where the hero awakens to their potential to be a defender of integrity, cultivator of indomitable will, and a true freedom fighter.

The hero in Sanskrit is known as virya, the courageous one who generates their own vitality, is master of their sense of meaning and captain of their life; the one who stands on their own feet, without crutches. One who embodies the heroic stage is also a skeptic; one who thinks for themselves, not to be confused with the arrogant reductionist who defends the status quo. The hero doesn’t just fall into the role. They are challenged to cultivate inner self-sufficiency without sacrificing the value and integrity of all their relations. This is the dynamic of true individuation. To dissolve veils from four to six, and face what lurks behind them, one embodies the heroic ideal. This is accomplished a step at a time, as the individual bears the shock of the implications of a dissolving veil.

So far we have only scratched to surface of two frameworks associated with two stages of growth. We refer to these correspondingly as the tribal or socio-cultural framework, and the individuating/heroic framework. While moving past the first framework we can choose to adhere to the 90% who refuse to penetrate into the next threshold. We can become a professional, respected in society. We can be admired for our ideas and gesticulations, our charities and respectable alliances. We can be affluent and influential. Yet in all this, we would still be nothing more than a well adapted herd-human. Not bad really. One doesn’t have to be the last in the pecking order in a given tribe or herd. By many a definition life would be good, if it were not for the denizens of the second triad of veils that tend to shatter any sense of complacency, especially in desperate times such as ours.

When moving through the second triad of veils, however, it unwise to linger. Thus we are motivated to grow as fast as we can without leaving any stone unturned. Glossing over anything here would have us backtracking until we get things right. It is beyond the scope of this essay to go into the details of the heroic frame. Suffice it to say, just like many a shamanic initiation or dark night of the soul experience, it can appear to challenge our very sanity. Once we are past the third veil, and enter the heroic phase, it doesn’t really matter if conspiracies are true or false. We have entered the arena of the bogeyman, and this can be personal or collective, physical or incorporeal. This is the gate that tries to rip hope from our hearts, and no matter what we think or want to think it is unlikely we would be spared feeling as powerless victims.

Indeed, the monsters of the heroic phase can indeed break us, while the phase can last for years as we spin our wheels trying to get out. We can gain traction, but only when we realize there is no out. There is only through. In that orientation our priority should be to sustain determination, hope, aspiration and a strong sense of meaning and purpose. This is not where you want to be if your heroic spirit breaks. The heroic phase challenges us to relate to things that the herd person cannot even fathom. The threats that seem to arise in our field of perception especially clash with any sense of common reason. It does not mean they are in our heads, but it also does not necessarily mean that the monsters encountered are as they appear to be.

Here we can see the benefit of comparing the three systems of triadic arrangement. Namely in this case the qualities of the different models are complementary. The desire to liberate one’s mind, to be free of conditioning, deception and oppression naturally opens the mind to all its former rules and regulations forbade. To overthrow that yoke one must experience with full acceptance the terror of breaking from the tribe to divorce from mass belief, so that the power of will is nourished and true courage and strength dawns in the heart. The hero cranks the wheels of mind, even though these are rusty. She or he confronts and questions consensus ideas, even if with a head that is about to split from the dissonance.

They challenge authority, even if that pits them against the god of their religion, and they challenge science and its allegedly infallible methodologies. They challenge a moral consensus that is both hypocritical and manipulative, they challenge society and they challenge history no matter who wrote it. They can even go so far as to challenge the ground upon which they stand. In doing so they are willing to stand up to the fear of that ground giving way to an abysmal pit reserved for the faithless and insane. A hero can end up facing fears on so many levels that others might hear them speak of monsters of legend being real. And who can doubt them aside from those who still languish in the tribal awareness frame?

The mystery of the hero is that they question everything from depths of existential defiance. In doing so, any answers they receive are more than just information. They are living dynamics of transformation that promote the expansion of their horizons of meaning. Thus the middle stage of spiritual growth- the penetrated veils of the middle triad- and the way of the virya or hero both complement the way of the truly individuating human being. This is the hero’s journey as I understand it. Regardless of what looms on existential horizons, heroes eventually transform and grow to claim the treasure that is their due.

This treasure is revealed in the triad beginning with the penetration of the seventh veil, and is the emergence of mystical actualization in the individual. Works of tantra, especially involving the controversial vāma mārga or contrary path, emphasize practices for the heroic individual, but don’t seem to say much about divya (enlightened or deva-like) human types. I would say it’s redundant. One can probably figure things out at that stage. I don’t think it involves some sort of intellectual genius, moreover, that the psychopathic status quo of society can corrupt or manipulate. Dr. Peck’s mystic stage of spiritual growth is far more common than the divya stage of the Tantras. According to the math, there are just seven hundred so beyond the seventh veil, with only seven penetrating the ninth and final veil. A very select group indeed!

I don’t believe it’s that simple. Even if I could give a first-hand account of the mystic stage of awareness, I doubt if it would make sense or be anything more than just words if it did. Be that as it may, most of us interested in such things have our hands full with our own version of the hero’s journey. We are very likely all too busy with our own version of walking over the precipice of the solid ground of our former preconceptions. Let us dare to keep walking even though it appears as if an abyss stretches out from underneath our feet. We have made it this far; no small feat. So let the veils fall. Let the hero rise and walk to call forth the revelations, and grow into their calling. The calling of life, spirit and heart. It is why we are here, in ourselves and all our relations.

Part I, Part II

Growth and Revelation – Part II

The fourth, fifth and sixth veils pick up where the power elite theme leaves off, taking it into the realm of secret societies (fourth veil), super-scientific and occult advances (fifth veil) and frightening supernatural beings (sixth veil). I call this the territory of high strangeness. How can we reconcile our stages of spiritual growth with revelations of such a disturbing nature? No, this goes beyond just disturbing. Here we confront the stuff of nightmares.

The very thought of waltzing through these ever-darkening twilight zones may tempt the more fragile of us to engage in the type of hysterical laughter that I imagine echoes through the dismal halls of many a mental hospital. And yet, the veils that follow this progressively terrifying territory represent the ultimate in benign reality frames, and spiritual goal of humanity since the dawn of human sentience.

From the above, we can speculate that the mapping of the nine veils in comparison to the stages of spiritual growth- and the tantric categories of self actualization- makes more sense if we organize the veil progression in terms of triads. With that perspective the first three veils fall into a category of being rather normal. A relatively intelligent, albeit socially adapted individual, can logically surmise that human history tends to express repeating patterns of adverse man-made events such as genocidal wars. Thus the average socially adapted individual need only a modicum of intelligence and the willingness to do some research to uncover a basic fact that seems to be a fringe subject for many so-called well-adapted people these days.

The historic fact is that throughout recorded time, influential individuals formed alliances to accumulate power, engage in tyrannical oppression and indulge apparently limitless cravings for greed and bloodlust. To consider that such alliances were often formed in secret would be a logical conclusion, given every plan involves the necessity for undisturbed preparation before it can be effectively implemented. Thus one does not have to uncover unfathomable mysteries and long lost artifacts to comprehend that human history is a story of purposely perpetrated criminality by fanatical groups that will stop at nothing to promote their despicable agendas.

It is, therefore, not farfetched to conceive that social systems are to a great degree unjust; that representatives of even the most allegedly democratic governments can be bribed and blackmailed, and that scientific discoveries are not always used for the benefit of humanity. A rational individual need not sacrifice their sanity to conclude that institutions like the mass media, the citadels of science and education, the foundations, the churches the corporations are not always- or even commonly- groups of honest people doing honest work for the mutual benefit of all. Ultimately, by the time a rational individual reaches the fourth veil, they have no problem concluding that conspiracy in history was never a theory, but the way of the world more often than not.

That is the point where the socially adapted or tribal individual might shrug their shoulders and say: “C’est la vie”. The majority who end up traversing the first triad of veils do just that. They believe in so doing that they continue to be rational, and that it is the only choice if they wish to remain rational and more importantly be seen as such by their peers and those who butter their daily bread, as it were. This is not done in one swoop, but progressively through the first veil triad as the consensus reality is challenged to greater degrees.

According to the authors sited, there are seven million people on the planet at any given time open to the reality frame concealed by the third veil. In addition, most of these otherwise intelligent individuals will never even approach the fourth veil. We may speculate as to their motive being a primitive urge to avoid the implications of the next triad of veils looming over their intuitive horizon. Those few who dare take things a step- or several steps- further in their drive to challenge the status quo, and their own awareness frame, end up in an increasingly terrifying place.

The transition into the fourth veil can, therefore, be considered as a threshold, where the undaunted seeker is invited to enter what may be called The Rabbit Hole. The latter is a well-known reference to a common metaphor regarding the transition from the frame of comforting reason to one unfamiliar enough to appear outright insane. I do not consider the middle veils to be states of mystical attainment, for that matter. They are, however, known as thresholds of initiation to those cultivating esoteric potentials. These would be the shamans, mystics and other seekers and innovators of the type of wisdom most philosophers prefer to avoid, and most scientists feel it is their duty to persecute with every fiber of their being. This is the arena of high strangeness mentioned earlier. We can bring this  closer to earth, as it were, when considering it in the context of spiritual crisis otherwise known as the dark night of the soul.

If one can make it through the next three veils hale, whole and without mishap, they approach the final triad. This is territory mired by speculation more than it represents experience. That is no surprise. By the time one approaches the seventh veil they will find they are only one of seven thousand strong on this planet. At this stage it appears that the third triad is accessed by those of high intellectual as opposed to spiritual capacity. It is the eighth veil that involves the realization of the Love that underlies all things, something to be experienced by only seventy people, leaving only seven to actually be capable of applying the wisdom for the good of all.

The first triad makes sense to me, the second triad, disturbing as it is, also makes sense. Even so, I question the revelations describing nothing but ceremonial psychopathy, escalating to legendary level technologies and supernatural monstrosities. My skepticism increases with the third triad, because I cannot fathom that all we have to discover is hell on earth until the next to last veil. Something is not right with that, even though it would be easy to simply conclude I am just not capable of penetrating those veils. That, however, would be too convenient. It could just as easily be the nightmare impressions that colors perception when one is in spiritual crisis.

These are very real. My critique revolves around the point that certain literal interpretations can more resemble corruptions of projected veil three frames of understanding. Consider that the given interpretations a) do not give us anything new aside from bloated versions of the same conspiracy, and b) the revelation serves nothing but to show how all-powerful the conspiracy is all the way to the final triad where even some of those penetrating the seventh veil are recruited by it. If we take a step back we can see that the model might benefit from the support of a complementary paradigm. Thus, the veil triads, understood as three categories of cumulative revelation, can be readily compared with the stages of spiritual growth, as well as the tantric categories of self-actualization.

To review the four stages of spiritual growth, I consider the first to be pathology. The model seems to be describing the psychopath more than a human being of primitive morality. That leaves us with three stages as follows: a) the tribal stage, b) the individuating stage and c) the mystical stage. These happen to be comparable to the tantric categories of herd, heroic and enlightened human types. I find the nine veils paradigm in this way more realistic and comprehensive in terms human experience when complemented as above. In the next and final installment I elaborate upon the aforementioned synthesis.

Part I, Part III

Growth and Revelation – Part I

A while back I read an intriguing article entitled Slavery and the Eight Veils by Don Harkin. Recently I came upon another article, this time by A. True Ott, PhD, a personal acquaintance of the previous author, who amended the number of veils to nine. This essay is built on my impressions of these articles, in comparison with the four stages of spiritual growth by M. Scott Peck, M.D.  I was undeniably intrigued by these writings and their implications. For some reason, in comparing them, my mind jumped to the traditions of Indian Tantra; namely to the way humanity is defined in terms of three categories or types: the herd human, the heroic human and the enlightened or divine human.

I had read about the four stages before, and also about the eight veils, but connecting them never occurred to me. When I read Dr. Ott’s article, however, the wheels started turning, even though I still had no idea how four stages fit into nine veils. If anything, they might have been a better fit when the veils were only eight. Let me backtrack a bit. The premise of the first pair of articles is that there are nine consecutive veils- originally conceived as eight- separating us from highest awareness. Each of these is penetrated only by ten percent of the population group that managed to penetrate the previous veil.

In the context of navigating the hierarchy of consecutive veils, one can surmise that only a handful of people ever reach the final destination. Granted these quantities seem arbitrary, and the pattern of veil distribution may be too neat for comfort. This would be a shallow commentary, however, if the points of observation rested on petty critique. The percentages are secondary, in my opinion. They are useful in representing a general idea of exponentially increasing challenges we can face as we penetrate each barrier to expanded awareness.

To me the following observations matter more than analyzing how many penetrate a given veil. First, I believe that to describe the veils accurately one must have experienced them first hand. Second, it makes sense to me that one can credibly discuss the nature of perception beyond any given veil, even if not pierced in practice by them. The condition to insure at least some credibility in the discussion is that one at least have experience in dealing with what lurks beyond familiar awareness frames in general. It means that when we face our fears of the unknown, we have a greater chance of predicting what lies over the horizon, for it is natural intuition and not fear that assesses the situation. That being said, let us examine the four stages of spiritual awakening and compare them to the theme of the nine veils.

Both themes are presented from an open-minded Christian perspective. Both refer to fear as a dominant theme in how people relate to the veils and stages to which they refer. Both express a hierarchy of evolving stages. The difference is that the four stages refer to spiritual growth, whereas the nine veils refer to one’s awareness of reality. Initially it is historic and social reality, but as more veils drop for fewer and fewer seekers of truth, the involves greater horizons of experience. As such, the latter paradigm still has a spiritual basis as exemplified by the description of what lies beyond the seventh veil.

Regarding the four stages of spiritual growth, I cannot take the stance that the first stage eventually evolves to the second. In the first stage the individual is without integrity. They may be intelligent and adapted well to society or antisocial and violent, but they do not form real social bonds. Everything is pretense for such an individual. Thus they are commonly known as a psychopath. Anyone with experience dealing with psychopaths would doubt that such a state has anything to do with spiritual growth at all, primitive or not. Instead it makes more sense that the so-called first stage is either pathology or a mutation of the natural primitive human profile, which I would call the tribal stage.

The latter is described as being the second spiritual stage, where one adheres to religion- and any ideological status quo- as an institution, condemning any and all who do not abide by the letter of its law, while very likely breaking the very same rules when they think nobody is looking. The second stage is functional, albeit primitive and immature, whereas the first in comparison exhibits the nature of pathology; dysfunctional and harmful to the species. The second stage is the one more akin to the pashu or herd stage described in tantric spirituality.

The third stage is that of the individualized human being. Tribalism is questioned and eventually transcended. This is not an easy stage. In fact it can be saturated with a fair amount of cognitive and emotional dissonance if not outright trauma. All one’s motives of security at the expense of truth and integrity are confronted. It is, therefore, a stage with many challenges, demanding sacrifices at many a turn of its winding path. This is the awareness frame of the skeptic, but also of the seeker of truth and meaning. Stage three can be philosophical, but the subject is still bound to concepts of mind and intellect they consider normal. It is a stage of liberation using the means of the mind/psyche at hand without any demand or desire to transcend those means. That, by the way, is its limitation.

Stage four is said to be that of the mystic. Mystical attainment, however, is more than simply applying the spirit of religious belief. We can, therefore, view stage four as a threshold to possibilities of spiritual transcendence. Even though stage four is open-ended, we do not need to add more stages or categories since a) we grow increasingly beyond the compulsion to label everything as we progress through stage four and b) we cannot relate to transcendent possibility from the lower stages, so for the most part the issue is moot. By the time an individual opens to the fourth state, in other words, they probably won’t be as motivated to analyze things in a hierarchical manner. This model of inner growth is not a simple one, which is why I recommend reading Dr Peck’s analysis first hand.

In the context of this work, we can compare the four stages with the nine veils and what they conceal. Veils often have to do with confronting the fear of more expanded frames of awareness, perception and experience. It appears to me that as the veils are penetrated, one’s spiritual growth is also stimulated. And as one’s growth is stimulated, veils are penetrated. Thus we have a congruence between stages of growth, categories of actualization, and the degree of the proverbial unknown unveiled to us.

This makes perfect sense if we consider that navigation and receptivity are functions of wisdom and maturity. After all, how much we can “see” is related to our ability to respond to it- hence our response ability- which is associated with our maturity as self-aware beings. I find it noteworthy that the essay on the nine veils, and the decade older one on the eight veils, were written from the perspective of being in a world ruled by a “power elite”, the recognition of which involves the penetration of the third veil. Beyond the third veil, however, things get hazy in terms of the difficulty to distinguish between an exotic yet credible reality frame and a fabricated one. We’ll continue with this line of thought in the next installment of Growth and Revelation.

Part II, Part III

Horizons in the Mist

This venue, this medium to write as one wills is fascinating to me. It encourages horizons to spread invitingly. It beckons the mind to touch formerly unexplored possibilities and dissolve the mists of uncertainty and confusion around them. It is enticing, and it is daunting. Fascinated as I am, however, I feel as if trying to put on a suit that sits on my frame like I’m wearing a loose version of the skin of someone else.

How do I just wear the damned thing and be done with it? How do I make any needed alterations? Do I- mixing metaphors here- just swagger through this virgin territory or should I be more careful and conservative in my expression? I’m not sure. What is certain is that when I tap dance my fingers across the keyboard, I care less and less about such details- until the tapping stops, and I’m left with the echo of my thoughts.

That being said, here is the venue of my expression: It’s titled Aristomenes X, the latter letter being a convenient stand-in for a rather long surname. Aristomenes is an ancient Greek historic figure and my namesake. He was the leader of a revolt against the Spartan yoke (circa 7th century BCE). The ancient Greek city state of Sparta was populated by a class of warriors, considered undefeatable in those days. They amounted to about ten thousand fighting men who enslaved a population that outnumbered them ten to one.

The Spartans captured Aristomenes and fifty of his comrades after his allies betrayed them, and then promptly threw them all into a pit. Somehow the hero managed to survive the fifty meter fall and escape. He rallied his troops and for all his trouble was betrayed again! Having lost the war, but not his life, my namesake escaped into exile for rest of his days. I mention Aristomenes because, to me, he was a man who lived up to the meaning of his name. That inspires me to feel that I can do the same.

I also like to think that the meaning of the word chosen to refer to one’s person can be a positive influence if one consciously opens to it. I like to think that one’s name can vitalize the bearer, especially in difficult times. That being said, I think it would be presumptuous to assume that just because someone is called something that they are that thing, for better or worse. When life wears me down, however, I like to remember that the name ‘Aristomenes’ is a compound word, from aristos (without flaw) and menos (passion, spirit). I like to remember and hold onto the quality of passion without flaw. I like to keep it in my heart like a powerful light, and feel into that light as if it could cut through life’s stubborn occlusions. Sometimes it feels like it does just that. Sometimes not.

Aristomenes X is founded on the desire of a passionate and moderately opinionated spirit to clarify and work through the mists that veil the horizons of possibility in all manner of issues, themes and topics regarding the human condition. Where these horizons will appear and where they will lead is unclear to me. They are horizons shrouded in mist. This is why I associated this venue of expression to the quality of flawless passion, of aspiration and undaunted drive. A name is, after all, supposed to bless the bearer with its meaning.

Aristomenes is a constant reminder to me of my potential, and Aristomenes X is a constant reminder of the potential that lies latent in this arena of expression. When mist dissolves to reveal an open horizon, the latter may recede as I approach it, but it never withholds its ideal even as it appears to step further away. I don’t have to identify with the word for its meaning and ‘energy’ to fill my soul, nor do I need to be attached to something to honor it, or feel honored by it. I suppose one can call this pride; not the pride of egoistic arrogance, but something more down to earth. It is the humble pride and honor of bearing meaning.

The term “humble pride” was deliberate. In this instance it is intended to denote paradox, and not insufferable contradiction. Aside from the name of the blog, the address given also bears some meaning. This time the meaning is off the top of my head. That being said, I consider it noteworthy. The blog address name is “xparavox“. That x that ended the Aristomenes this time initiates a pesky neologism. Paravox as I use the word carries the meaning of the ability to name things, to bear and express meaning through words. This ability is then applied to what is unfamiliar, different and even- or especially- strange at times. At the very least it points to the ability to put words to possibilities unconventional and difficult to understand.

Just as paradox sustains the meaning of being a contrary (para) presence (doxa), paravox represents the meaning of a contrary voice. Just as paradox points to something that appears false but is in fact true, paravox represent sthe voice or expressive annunciation of an idea that doesn’t make sense in the face of common conception. It appears meaningless yet holds all the meaning a word can hold.

It sounds more than a tad pretentious, but it’s a name and the path to finding this place and all it promises. Aristomenes X reflects the spirit and life of all I aspire to express here, and xparavox marks the spot for contrary views to make sense and perhaps inspire. This is more risky than pretentious. I have to do my best to live up to it or I misrepresent this effort and myself.

It is a reminder to be true to penetrate the mists of confusion that confound many today regarding all that is going on in the world as well as the promises and pitfalls of the human condition. Lies and truth are often so enmeshed across the globe that many are weary with confusion and worse; they are willing to latch on to anything that simplifies their world-view.

I’d like to commit to avoid ranting about personal preferences and names. I want to get on about what really concerns me: Dispelling mists of confusion and despair, and shining some light to show that the days and times to live with meaning are neither out of reach in distant tomorrows nor lost in long gone yesterdays. They are in the here and now. Onward then: horizons beckon and mists taunt, and the path will not define itself!