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.

Category: Gnosis

Realism, Idealism and the Meaning of Life

Idealism and realism are opposing views. Their more extreme versions are irreconcilable because they are intended to be. Each is defined by the denial of the other. The extremes of idealism, transcendentalism (in the mystical sense) deny the tangible, and pragmatism, realism or objectivism in its extreme expression denies the existence of spirit and mind as anything but a side effect of random- and hence meaningless- materialization.

Extreme as these views are, they each have a certain merit, but only when mitigated by the other view. This is a paradox because we can make sense of it when we look beyond the obvious- or toward it depending on one’s perspective. The views are interdependent and each can balance the extremes of the other, when they are taken as two sides of the same coin.

I want to, therefore, suggest looking at the merit or attraction of the two views. Why are we drawn to one over the other? Can there be a happy medium between them, or are we limited to flipping the coin back and forth to access only one side at a time?

Let me approach this by my own example. For years I had been an advocate of pure spirituality, and the more I practiced the more spiritual and focused on mind and consciousness I became. That was not, however, how I saw and felt things as a child. I remember that the world mattered, and that my thoughts and feelings mattered, and that the two were cohabiting, with the lines between them being ever more blurred the further back my memories went.

Conventional wisdom might say the blur was a product of my immature psychology. Memory, or the feel of it at least, tells me that this was a healthy state. It made sense, and was free of conflict. Everything was embraced, and everything was experienced in a more direct manner because of that. It was only as I was growing up that polarization between “objective” and “subjective” was rather imposed by the words and actions of people around me.

Following the conditionings of childhood and the turmoil of adolescence, I found myself on a quest to heal the damage that growing up appeared to have inflicted upon me. Part of that included the quest to reconcile the idealistic, transcendent states of subjective coherence, with the worldly, sensate focus of objectively powered reality evaluation.

This journey was far more chaotic and disorganized than its initial referencing might suggest. As I approached adulthood, my concern was holding my own in social relations, be they causal, intimate or formal. The quest for truth wasn’t idealistic, but driven by a desire to use truth as a sort of tool, if not a weapon, to enhance my position in the group, as it were. Nevertheless, being more an introvert, my attitude was rather defensive.

In academics I found myself majoring in physics, even though I strongly continued to question he extremes of radical idealism and what I came to know as reductionist materialism. These are labels, since idealism can be an oversimplified bottom line of nihilism, just as materialism can be revolutionary in its meaningless assertions. My view that idealism was for those of intuitive bent, with realism/pragmatism for the more rational was also overturned over the course of time and experience.

Analytic reasoning can support either view, just as feeling based-intuition can advocate the sensual world (if one is hedonistically motivated, for example) as the abstract and transcendent divorced from it (as is the case for the disgruntled aesthete). It became apparent even further down the line that the situation was even messier. Whatever one’s motives, both reason and intuition could be used to justify them.

Even when the bottom line is the adage that the truth will set us free, what matters is not so much the truth itself, but the acquisition of freedom. If we are convinced that a certain view is the truth, it is at the very least interesting to consider that freedom may be seen to come not so much from the view itself, as from our vehement support of it. We may be passive in that support, resisting opposing views, or end up fighting for it. As we do, we can consider that our struggle is to be free from whatever oppressive or harmful influence we may feel the contrary view represents.

For some the door to freedom from whatever oppresses them in life might take the form of supporting a view because it is popular or collective accepted. For others the opposite can hold; resisting the popular view is how one can be truly liberated in life. Or maybe the collective voice gives one courage to join with it or makes one desperate to resist.

In my case, and after deliberation over several decades, I have settled in a place where I don’t feel I am coddling myself, nor beating myself up. I can grow through challenge, while maintaining a sense of integrity and self-respect through minimizing conflict.

My motive is the love of life. I am not speaking of the way things are in the world, but of the very nature of life and its broad horizons of possibility. Life is tangible. Life is free. Life is the magnetic force of desire for more, for deeper, for greater, for less, for higher. Life is beauty and love and challenge and fun, and creativity in all its aspects. Life is the fulfillment of what matters, and all that is meaningful.

To be more specific, there are few things that can be concretely said about life and the experience of being alive without falling off the mark in some way and distorting one’s own intended meaning. It may appear that scientific description of life is accurate, but subjectively poetry appears to have more authority when it comes to resonating a sense of meaning in the human breast.

Even so, the proverbial left brain has its place. Thus, to navigate the existence in which- of which- we find ourselves, as human beings we need to distinguish this from that, to identify, to speak, to formulate, and to analyze. It doesn’t mean we proceed with stuffy academic or theoretical complexity either.

Life is the big picture and all the little ones as well. What may lie beyond the furthest horizon need not negate what is in from of our noses. More importantly, what we feel as meaningful need not be treated like so much psychic trash just because the feedback we get from the world is disappointing. As such, the child I used to be would be well justified to kick me in the shins if it realized how much I contributed to trashing its felt ideals over the years.

If that child were savvy with its intellect, it might even tell me I am making a mess of things in confusing my copping out for growing up. It might aggressively explain that a hardening against life is nowhere near the same as maturing in accordance to its reality. On the other hand, if it could that ever sagelike child-me might patiently explain that so long as my motives represent all of me, all that I was and all I will be- and nobody ever said self-knowledge was easy- I can be as intuitive as I need, as intellectual as I need, as emotional as I need and as spiritual or materialistic as I need to be without beating myself over the head for being “selfish”.

In my experience selfishness only appears to benefit the selfish, and generally harms those around them. Ditto for self-denial, because the two are also sides of the same coin of dis-integrity. All in all, truth is not easy to pin down, but we can make friends with it. Perhaps we might even be lovers. But if we are denying ourselves or accepting something that we only mistake as our-selves, then truth is nowhere near what we think we are befriending.

Let me then be so bold as to assert that these days it matters not what I believe so much as what it means and where it takes me. It matters not so much to discover or live truth than to be true and genuine, to myself, all my relations and ultimately to the existence in which and of which I am. If there is any mode of becoming that may approach a “path to fulfillment”, I believe this might be it.


The Demonizing of our Inner Resources

I’ve been doing videos with an online friend of mine, Ron Van Dyke since 2013 if memory serves. It was kind of fun, sitting there just talking about things that interested me. A few times there would even be dialog, but mostly it was just me releasing the hounds of personal viewpoint, as it were.

Ron and I share a certain common mindset, one that I have seen attacked and even touted as a sign one is a ‘shill’. It goes something like this: addressing the issues of humanity from a purely mundane framework of conventional or even unconventional reasoning- including religious and philosophical reasoning- is not going to resolve the situation, nor even make a dent in it. To me it is a conclusion akin to one definition of insanity: approaching a problem in the same impotent manner, always hoping for a different outcome.

In effect most who realize all is not right with the world appear to think that applying this or that system, philosophy, financial or social/psychological approach can make a difference. In comparison, anyone suggesting a different and paradoxical way is marginalized, and can be bullied and ridiculed. Even worse they might become a cultural icon and hence a caricature and joke of all they claim meaningful.

The aforementioned state of affairs- the demonization of the real inner alternative approaches- is more than a little bothersome to me. When definitions of what is ‘good’ vs. what is ‘bad’ thinking are ironed out people can cease to think. Instead they tend to refer to the menu of definitions and feel very intelligent in the process. Call it the frugality of mental function or its delusional tendencies.

In any case, I too am oversimplifying for the sake of making a point. Ron and I understand that the way things are, we need more than a physical revolution or a new system to redeem our species, and all other life on this planet, from the suffering it endures at the hands of human psychopathy/sociopathy. Where Ron believes only a transcendent Divine Creator (or rather the Creator) can make a difference, I ascribe to the view that human beings have it in them to awaken alternative resources of heart, mind, body and spirit to engage at a depth of meaning with the conditions of existence necessary for results to be satisfactory for all. In fact, I would say that kind of cultivation has been part of the ‘Divine Plan’ all along.

Unfortunately, the depths of which I speak have been simplified, conceptually packaged and reworked by the deluded and opportunistic. The possibilities have certainly been corrupted by malicious individuals working for the pro-global enslaving establishment known colloquially as ‘shills’. The umbrella label used to demonize our inner resources as been known by many names, and over the last several decades as “New Age Thought”. Indeed the meme has so many facets I find myself singing its praises one minute and criticizing the shit out of it the next.

Finding one’s self on the schizoid seesaw of love/hate with a contrived meme is not flattering when you come down to it. It is damn humbling, and to me underlines the need for a discerning filter to make sure babies don’t end up down the drain with dirty bath waters. And therein lies the challenge.

We don’t like racial, religious or gender labels, especially when it is our race, religion or gender that is labelled. But we still apply them wherever we are not put on the spot by this or that ‘correctness’ mindset. New Age is a label. It does not reflect reality except in the sense that a minority of promoters of pseudo-spiritual crap have run with it. The rest is often the result of ignorant human nature, one of the greatest resources of tyranny throughout the ages.

Interestingly, many of those who keep claiming that we have to research and investigate seem to do nothing of the sort where this label is concerned. They (to use the pronoun common among the paranoid and deluded) mix ascension with awakening, Satanism with occultism, magic with trickery (although it can be, but not always), connecting with non-corporeal existence (which can be anything from the essence of other life forms to something beyond our comprehension of space-time) with the religiously demonic.

They associate psychopathic and sadistic practices with the reverence of nature, and religion with mysticism- rarely compatible. As a result of the labelling there is division among those who think rationally, and even between those who explore the trans-rational but in different ways. Yet it is common for individuals (as ‘normal’ and nonviolent as anyone) who are into ritual magic to make fun of ‘new agers’, and individuals with strong pro-ascension beliefs being wary of black magic wherever an occult ritual is involved.  Christians on the other hand consider ‘new agers’ and occultists as peas in a ‘Satanic’ pod when they clearly mix as well as oil and water.

Instead of falling into the traps of the labels, lets consider the following: Esoteric potentials (expressed in ways mystical, occult, alchemical, shamanic, psychic etc.), known to humanity since time immemorial and monopolized by those who would control others from well before the dawn of known history, are a potential resource we need to examine as we would any promising application. We- always meaning those who naturally feel inclined in this direction- need to explore it privately and in creatively minded groups in healthy ways, free of new age, religious or pseudo-occult trappings, after first identifying what those trappings are. It is always important to save the babies and let the bathwater drain away.

There are, and have always been, interests against this kind  of thing. We have enough history of persecution and disinformation regarding esoteric potentials under our collective belt so that the ones benefiting from our weakness need not do much to get us pointing fingers and derailing any possibility of taking something that is our birthright seriously. But if those of us who are so inclined dare to move forward, there is the promise- albeit not the guarantee- of learning to create our reality, and maybe really help make things right for once. In any case,  as it stands it appears either nobody is doing it deliberately or only those who have little regard for life. Or perhaps we are in the humble beginnings of something truly wonderful. I, for one, like to think so.

A Psycho-Aesthetic Rant

I’ve been reading online articles as of late, many of them attempting to debunk a lot of what makes the internet so colorful and interesting. Their science is bland no matter how they try to dress it up, their medicine hopeless when it’s not perverse, their politics are insane, and their religious rants are just to vomit for. At the same time folks all over the world appear to crave breaths of fresh air, changes that are life affirming, even as attempts to go out on a limb to catch the breeze appear few and far between. That isn’t surprising since limbs seem very prone to break these days.

Then there are the ‘alternatives’, like alternative medicine, politics, archeology, physics and spirituality, and many more. Sometimes these alternatives appear to be the fresh vitality we have been craving. Under any meaningful alternative path one might discern waves upon the surface of the calm and stagnant seas of proprietary thinking. One might see color washing its gray landscapes. Perhaps even a faint music may be heard wafting through its stiff and stale atmosphere. All that shaking and rocking can get the sleepers of hopeless conformity moved to rise up and celebrate. Sleepers can also wake on the wrong side of the bed; those who would throw all the refuse at their disposal at the offending source.

And yet the monotone forces of conformity can cleverly diversify. The enslaving path rammed down our throats since birth sustains a million grimly spun faces of reason, faith and cleverly contrived “compassion, and the masks we are prompted to emulate have ridiculously hypocritical smiles- ready to snap into disapproving frowns at the flick of a switch.

I am not here to advocate “alternative-ism” or debate if views claiming the label are credible or not. I am not here to dump the straight and narrow either. I only suggest addressing things from a psycho-aesthetic stance. A psycho-aesthetic stance is not simply a perspective of the soul- or mind- regarding what’s pretty. It isn’t even about appearances. The psyche is not, after all, like a leaf lazily floating about on the surface of things. Even if we are one of those sunny personalities skipping though life to proclaim: “what you see is what you get, baby” our psyche is still more like an underworld leviathan.

Most of its monstrous extent lurks in the dark cavernous domains of our under-self. On occasion a prominent crest will break the surface, to leave a few ripples that sparkle in the light of the conscious mind. Those fleeting sparkling splashes leave an enduring impression the mind then loops into that perpetual “what you see is  what you get, baby” that brings a smile- or smirk- to so many faces wishing it were that simple.

Psycho-aesthetic stance manifests as a sense of inner poise when the denizens of the depths of our being, those especially that are capable of touching, and even more consistently caressing our surface consciousness contact something that matters to them; something that can bestow a sense of balance between the wild chaos of an uncertain existence, and the stifling order of all that strives to control it.

The inner leviathan that so often appears to be the very source of every fear, neurosis and psychological entanglement the human mind can conceive is also a source as well as a guardian of treasure hoards of wisdom and existential potential waiting to manifest in the light of day. Inner wisdom grows on a certain ground that corresponds to a sense of poise. It is not the truth of the intellect this sense of poise respects and credits. It isn’t even the sentiments of the heart or the pleasures of the body per se. All those matter, for in meaningful proportions they provide the context and frame our inner wisdom needs to be real.

The seeds are already planted there, our embryonic aspirations waiting to sprout. The sunlight is our very own much prized consciousness. It is also the existential confidence that is not quite sentimental, but whose home is still the heart where sentiment also resides. All we need is the water of our commitment to the cultivation, a commitment of true passion. Then everything changes.

We can be trendy or we can be edgy or defiant or conforming. We can sport a wardrobe of “isms” to shape our personal identity, like a protective atmosphere; not the same as a hypocritical mask. It is ego; a good thing, like human skin is a good thing, so long as we don’t mistake it for the core of our strength and the truth of our psyche.

Being judged by the color of our skin is never pleasant, but for most being praised as having beautiful and/or healthy skin most often is. Skin matters in its way, and we all want it healthy, youthful and clear. Same with all the “isms” we sport. All are points of contact and references of relationship for us. Even though they matter, the treasure lies deeper, in the stance of inner poise, not easy to grasp but impossible to ignore once it is touched.

It comes from our depths, from the caverns of our much discredited and often ignored leviathan, the source of our true soul power. We can call it to the surface by honoring what we value, even if it sounds  incredible; and especially if it contradicts our ego’s conceptual fashion sense. I for one seek to enter the fray and navigate the waves from a position of poise, asserting what feels meaningful in the depths insofar as I can dive into them. No matter if my reason threatens that I must justify it from reliable and credible sources. I will not throw away my reason. But I must prioritize my psycho-aesthetic stance so that I may be poised in an uncertain world. As I move forward, I might even learn that which certain alternative views claim I do all along: Create my own reality.


Suffering and the Promise of Yoga

One of the most imposing realities of existence, and especially human existence, is the reality of suffering. Thus the question regarding the nature, purpose and origin/cause of suffering in existence has been front and center for human beings as long as there has been a humanity to speak of.

Yoga literature reveals the root of suffering via the Sanskrit word avidya. Other causes of suffering and fragmentation are said to be secondary to this. The term avidya is usually translated as “ignorance”. It is the negative of vidya, which in turn comes from the verb root vid, which means “to know”. The noun form vidya identifies the acquisition of knowledge or the learning process as opposed to the act of knowing. In this manner, avidya is not exactly lack of knowledge, but the negation of learning.

As other commentators on the subject have noted, knowledge in this context is not about formal education and books. It is more about revelation. In this writer’s opinion it refers to a dynamic of contact with the known, reminiscent of the biblical term “carnal knowledge”.

The long and the short of it is that the cause of suffering reflects a gap between the knower and the known, or the subject and object of knowledge. To know, in this particular context, is the same as to perceive- to experience- where experience is akin to reality being revealed along the way. To experience reality in this way is to establish intimacy with “it”, and by implication, with and in one’s own nature. To “know” is to, therefore, be one with that which is known; to experience it or have it revealed from the inside-out; from one’s own inside and outward into worldly realization.

If the one who knows, in other words, cannot connect with what is known then knowledge is not complete. It is a fragmented dynamic, not a genuine representation of what is real. If true knowledge is also self-knowledge, then its fragmentation is also the fragmentation of self-realization. All we then know and experience of and as ourselves is an accumulation of shards held together by conditioned and erroneous assumptions. Such a condition would feel terrifyingly brittle, and under the threat of existential collapse if defenses are not constantly maintained. It is no surprise our actions and reactions are mired in suffering when all we can be is a shattered image that puts on a show of coherent being.

Even with the above implications, it is still perplexing- at least for me- to think that “ignorance” is the root of all suffering. The popular saying that ignorance is bliss, after all, is based on enough experience of individuals so it is not forgotten. It is also rather obvious that not knowing might cause inconvenience, or indirectly lead to trauma. But implying it is the root cause of suffering as Yoga literature asserts may seem a bit much, because it is. The translation is unsatisfactory and cannot cover the depth of meaning that justifies the critical existential state that does justice to the notion of avidya.

To reiterate, we can understand avidya as qualified by a state of separation between subject and object, but also between consciousness and energy. This is really a state of con-fusion or sañyoga. The separation is supplanted with an artificial or distorted conjunction of what is still for all practical considerations a schizoid state.

Processes of yoga are said to remedy this. Such practices can be broken down to exercises in being aware. It is said: “use it or lose it”; so exercising awareness cultivates and increases its presence. Cultivating awareness in specific ways disentangles the con-fusion or false union. The nature of being establishes itself by being allowed to receive the presence of its own revelation. One of these ways of cultivation is known as meditation.

Meditation comes from a Latin word meaning “in the middle”. The middle is where one has equal access to both ends. Perhaps we can see those ends as the Macrocosm and the Microcosm, or perhaps as being between objective and subjective or energy and consciousness. Be that as it may, the middle is where one can best bring things that have been apart together. It is where one finds balance.

In yoga tradition the physical body is not the only form acknowledged in human beings. The bodies of sensation, emotion, mind and wisdom are said to constitute our subtle and refined frames, with even more abstract and intangible forms of being that express the dynamics of existential causation where out manifest embodiment is concerned.

All this is not easy to understand because there is little to reference as such in mundane worldly- socially conditioned- experience. It is therefore unlikely one would normally establish conceptual precedence and notions for comparison and contrast with the principles of yoga and esoteric unfolding. It is a topic of unfathomable depth, more of the nature of profound mystery than the likes of an art or science.

On the other hand we can establish reference points of potential understanding if we are open to assimilating revelations that rise out of the mystery. We might even consider the proposition that avidya is a- if not the- primary cause of suffering as one such revelation. As expressed earlier, it seems incredible that simply being uninformed is why we suffer. It does, however, make more sense if we interpret “ignorance” as being alienated from our selves, the world and all that reality is. In other words, our experience of suffering is reality being disconnected from itself, hence in a state of fragmented alienation. This kind of state is even identified in the clinical sense where the human mind is concerned. It is labeled “schizophrenia”, a term that means something to the effect of “torn mental state”.

The good news is that what has been torn asunder may be reintegrated and made whole. At least that is what many individuals deemed wise on this planet have in one way or another expressed through the ages. At the very least the possibility is worth exploring, for we are talking of nothing less than a healing and hence redemption of the human condition, and perhaps much more. That is one of my reasons- or excuses if one wishes to be cynical- for pursuing esoteric cultivation.

In my experience commitment to such cultivation is well worth the challenges one faces along the way, even when there is no end in sight to them. I consider the possibilities of yoga to be true hope. They offer a promise whose fulfillment one can witness unfolding over time, even if at times it seems there is little reason to credit its existence. In these days of turmoil, however, I value and do all I can to keep true hope alive, and to refrain from easy counterfeits. It is not just a whimsical belief or blind faith. True hope is a power to be reckoned with, even as it is marginalized. True hope, in other words, is what redeems us from entering through the gates of hell, the domain where suffering is absolute, and where avidya is law.

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