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Category Archives: On The Beginning

And now we come to the real distinguishing feature which essentially separates barbarism from culture; the only reason it cannot serve us as a guiding rod or for the determination of the beginning is that the documentary evidence is inadequate. It is the question: Where does mere living in the present, such as the savage does, cease, and where does life in the past and the present, i.e. differentiating comparison, begin? When does the mere present, devoid of history, end?

Jacob Burckhardt (Reflections on History, p. 5)

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The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.

– Aristotle

“There is truth, my boy. But the doctrine you desire, absolute, perfect dogma that alone provides wisdom, does not exist. Nor should you long for a perfect doctrine, my friend. Rather, you should long for the perfection of yourself. The deity is within you, not in ideas and books. Truth is lived, not taught.”

― Hermann Hesse, The Glass Bead Game

How does one convey the problem? How do you discover those who have broken away? Why does society, you and me, continually do the same thing….shun those who are different? Luckily, society doesn’t seem to kill the different anymore(?) but if society, you and me, are so perfect…how come there is still war? How come we are in the midst of a hundred years and counting of war? Supposedly our enlightened and educated society understands that we are the world and the world is us (an experience one can have through Ayahuasca or DMT) then it must be us who are making these wars…either directly or indirectly, by not facing fear and understanding the human condition. Enslavement Blues we can call it…enslaved to emotion and the running away that comes when the superficial self is not surrendered to the truth.

So if transformation can only happen through emotion then we all, quite easily, can take the first step…but it is the next step that is most troublesome.

The step where what is being asked of you: to allow yourself to feel and go through the emotions while at the same time not judging them; is never realized. Once you’ve judged them it is all over and you have fallen into the trap of the superficial self that seeks to save itself above all else and will weave incredible stories and excuses for not going further. Namely the person who tries to bring this about becomes the scapegoat and is therefore shunned or in Socrates’ case killed due to the ignorance of his society…you and me.

They can also be simply pushed to the side as Heidegger would say:

“When the creators have disappeared from the people, when they are barely tolerated as irrelevant curiosities, as ornaments, as eccentrics alien to life, when authentic struggle ceases and shifts into the merely polemical, into the intrigues and machinations of human beings within the present-at-hand, then the decline has already begun. For even when an age still makes an effort just to uphold the inherited level and dignity of its Dasein, the level already sinks. It can be upheld only insofar as at all times it is creatively transcended.”
– Heidegger (Introduction to Metaphysics, p. 67)

Questioner: What do you think “the human condition” is?

That is hard to answer but if I can bring anything to words that will hopefully speak then let it be this:

The human condition basically consists of the real life realization of the eternal truths. As in the limitedness of our consciousness and ability to know. A non-superficial understanding of this brings to one the understanding that we are always ignorant. That there is always something that we do not know and that we can only make our judgments based on what we know and so we need to continually re-look, re-see, re-adapt to the new insights and impressions life has given us…therefore we are forever in transformation.

This means, if these words will speak, that the truth, uncertainty, is the very thing that gives us the sight and power to create society and culture in the first place.

And while that fact operates any society, doesn’t matter what society, is always limited because it is made by man and therefore has to eternally be “creatively transcended”…

Which in the words of the I Ching means Return…to Return to the beginning and surrender to the truth, uncertainty. We then re-enter into that innocence of relation with truth and rebuild culture and all our relationships to people, thoughts, and things.

In short all “true” knowledge is only true when we start from ignorance. Not from the assumption that we are “correct”.

[More insight regarding Truth, Aletheia (ἀλήθεια), un-concealment, dis-covery and truth becoming “correctness” of propositions can be ‘un-covered’ in Martin Heidegger’s ‘The Essence of Truth: On Plato’s Cave Allegory and Theaetetus.’]

But I would like to raise another problem here, one that, it seems, will take some time to overcome…And this problem, I think will, probably, come to be known as: ‘The Oblivion of the Obvious’ or ‘Oblivion in the Obvious’.

For purely “practical” reasons, for ease of speaking and so we can move on quickly to other things, and in a sense to maintain our dullness and to not meet life head on; we level-down into more easily and readily graspable, “tough” concepts and ideas. Or rather to escape from the headache of truly thinking, in the present moment, we, as I did above, “shorten” or distill. Which for me, this whole attempt is a leveling down. Because it doesn’t properly go into and bring about an actual conscious experience of the event or process by which one consciously, authentically, experiences uncertainty without judgment. So, in this sense, when we “play” with words and throw them about we are adding to the confusion, the noise. And instead of seeking and attempting to get to the bottom and experience the phenomenon themselves, we pride ourselves on the superficial, on the word, on that which merely points towards what is true. Or as Krishnamurti might say: “We take the word, the description, the scientific treatise…what have you, as the thing itself.” And in the obviousness of the ‘correctness of our propositions’ we let the truth, Alethiea, the un-concealment of what is, slip into oblivion, where we remain uncreative and continue upon our merry way as if there are no such things as problems and heartache. And therefore have no tie, no relationship to the rest of world…to live as if we are actually separate. To hold to the attitude that: “I, already know how to treat people. That I, already know how thinking thinks. That I, already have, without a doubt, the truth and it is only the inferior who have to strive for something that is obvious to me.”

So to come full circle and to return to the beginning:

How does one convey the problem?

solitudinus

But the earliest dawn is still prior to the birth of light out of the darkness, and a wealth of symbols surrounds it.

The form of representation peculiar to the unconscious is not that of the conscious mind. It neither attempts nor is able to seize hold of and define its object in a series of discursive explanations, and reduce them to clarity by logical analysis. The way of  the unconscious is different. Symbols gather round the thing to be explained, understood, interpreted. The act of becoming conscious consists in the concentric grouping of symbols around the object, all circumscribing and describing the unknown from many sides. Each symbol lays bare another essential side of the object to be grasped, points to another facet of meaning. Only the canon of these symbols congregating about the center in question, the coherent symbol group, can lead to an understanding of what the symbols point to and of what they are trying to express. The symbolic story of the beginning, which speaks to us from the mythology of all ages, is the attempt made by man’s childlike, prescientific consciousness to master problems and enigmas which are mostly beyond the grasp of even our developed modern consciousness. If our consciousness, with epistemological resignation, is constrained to regard the question of the beginning as unanswerable and therefore unscientific, it may be right; but the psyche, which can neither be taught nor led astray by the self-criticism of the conscious mind, always poses this question afresh as one that is essential to it.

The question of the beginning is also the question “Whence?” It is the original and fateful question to which cosmology and the creation myths have ever tried to give new and different answers. This original question about the origin of the world is at the same time the question about the origin of man, the origin of consciousness and of the ego; it is the fateful question “Where did I come from?” that faces every human being as soon a he arrives upon the threshold of self-consciousness.

The mythological answers to these questions are symbolical, like all answers that come from the depths of the psyche, the unconscious. The metaphorical nature of the symbol says: this is this, that is that. The statement of identity and the logic of consciousness erected upon it have no value for the psyche and the unconscious. The psyche blends, as does the dream; it spins and weaves together, combining each with each. The symbol is therefore an analogy, more an equivalence than an equation, and therein lies its wealth of meanings, but also its elusiveness. Only the symbol group, compact of partly contradictory analogies, can make something unknown, and beyond the grasp of consciousness, more intelligible and more capable of becoming conscious.

-Erich Neumann
(The Origin and History of Consciousness p.7-8)

The beginning can be laid hold of in two “places”: it can be conceived in the life of mankind as the earliest dawn of human history, and in the life of the individual as the earliest dawn of childhood. The self-representation of the dawn of human history can be seen from its symbolic description in ritual and myth. The earliest dawn of childhood, like that of mankind, is depicted in the images which rise up from the depths of the unconscious and reveal themselves to the already individualized ego.

The dawn state of the beginning projects itself mythologically in cosmic form, appearing as the beginning of the world, as the mythology of creation. Mythological accounts of the beginning must invariably begin with the outside world, for world and psyche are still one. There is as yet no reflecting, self-conscious ego that could refer anything to itself, that is, reflect. Not only is the psyche open to the world, it is still identical with and undifferentiated from the world; it knows itself as world and in the world and experiences its own becoming as a world-becoming, its own images as the starry heavens, and its own contents as the world-creating gods.

Ernst Cassirer has shown how, in all peoples and in all religions, creation appears as the creation of light. Thus the coming of consciousness, manifesting itself as light in contrast to the darkness of unconsciousness, is the real “object” of creation mythology. Cassirer has likewise shown that in the different stages of mythological consciousness the first thing to be discovered is subjective reality, the formation of the ego and individuality. The beginning of this development, mythologically regarded as the beginning of the world, is the coming of light, without which no world process could be seen at all.

-Erich Neumann
(The Origin and History of Consciousness p.6)

The Master said, “With sincere faith he unites the love of learning; holding firm to death, he is perfecting the excellence of his course.

“Such an one will not enter a tottering state, nor dwell in a disorganized one. When right principles of government prevail in the kingdom, he will show himself; when they are prostrated, he will keep concealed.

“When a country is well governed, poverty and a mean condition are things to be ashamed of. When a country is ill governed, riches and honor are things to be ashamed of.”

– Analects of Confucius

“Suppose you had never read a book, religious or psychological, and you had to find the meaning, the significance of life. How would you set about it? Suppose there were no Masters, no religious organizations, no Buddha, no Christ, and you had to begin from the beginning. How would you set about it? First, you would have to understand your process of thinking, would you not? – and not project yourself, your thoughts, into the future and create a God which pleases you; that would be too childish. So first you would have to understand the process of your thinking. That is the only way to discover anything new, is it not?”

– Krishnamurti (The First and Last Freedom)

The least initial deviation from the truth is multiplied later a thousandfold.

 

-Aristotle