Disciples of the Mysterium
Better to be unborn than untaught, for ignorance is the root of all misfortune – Plato
The fact that you have decided to read this book probably indicates that you have given some thought to the meaning of your existence. That is good. However, like a lot of people you may have concluded that the meaning of existence is a tough nut to crack. Most philosophers and scientists are quick to agree that it is no easy task finding out why we exist and what our true purpose might be.
Philosophers come in many shapes and sizes, and most are interested in certainty. So what can we be certain of? Well, it’s clear that we were born, that we age through time and finally die. It also certain that for everything that exists there is an opposite. The moment we set out to rationally examine something before us, we are bound to discover its counterpart. We have life and death or existence and non-existence. We have men and women or masculine and feminine. We have age and youth, night and day, black and white, right and wrong, good and bad, inside and outside. We have wholes and parts, chaos and order, sorrow and happiness, despair and hope, comedy and tragedy; and we have waking and sleeping, consciousness and unconsciousness, right brain and left brain, intellect and emotion, beauty and ugliness, truth and falsehood, ignorance and knowledge. So it goes ad infinitum.
Of all the dichotomies, surely the most important is that of mind versus body. It is important because it is most personal and immediate. We each possess a “mind” and a “body.” Okay, what do we conclude from this? Well, philosophers and scientists emphasize how tricky it is to explain how minds and bodies interact. We can give a fair assessment of what mind does, but are not so expert at explaining what mind is.
Relatively speaking, we have a somewhat better grasp of what a body is and how it operates. When we examine our bodies, we see skin, flesh, hair, joints and various extended limbs. We have a certain height and weight, and know that beneath the surface of our skin we possess subcutaneous fat, muscle fiber, bones, bone marrow, nerves, organs, glands, blood, grey and white brain matter, etc.
Bodies exist in the world around us. That much cannot be doubted. And apparently within each body is a so-called “mind.” The mind exists because of the body, and we don’t know of a mind that exists independently of a body. When a brain suffers damage, the body housing it ceases to be worth much. The mind can therefore be said to animate the body, and be more important than the body which houses it. Most of us think the immaterial mind is greater than the physical body and brain through which it apparently operates. However, as I said, philosophers have labored to explain exactly how the matter of our brains and bodies is animated by the seemingly incorporeal mind. How does mind affect the blood, bone, nerves and neural circuitry of the human body? How does it create movement and stimulate action? Saying that a mind is a computer or network of computers does not explain much. Saying it is the result of a long evolutionary process also explains little. After all, why are humans apparently the only species with their kind of intelligence? We know humans are unique, but why so? Again, we are not able to find conclusive answers to questions of this sort. Is it because there are no answers, or because we are looking at the problem from the wrong perspective?
In my opinion there is something profoundly revealing about the existence of and connection between mind and body which has rarely been given the attention it deserves. My interest is not on how the body-mind interface works, whether the mind is greater than the body, or whether the mind is a phantom. My interest confines itself to the empirical fact that mind and body do exist together. They are profoundly entangled and occupy the same world-space. They have, as it were, the world in common. The dialogue between world, mind and body creates the phenomenon of consciousness. A group of philosophers known as Phenomenologists are intent on examining and correctly understanding this complex interchange.
However, even if we never go this far, we can at least benefit by acknowledging the simple fact that mind does coexist with the body. This fact does not require proving because it is self-evident and absolutely obvious. It does not matter if we choose to regard mind as a ghost in the machine, a disembodied mystical presence, an epiphenomenon of neural function or mysteriously rarefied super-computer. We need only acknowledge the mind’s actual existence in the body. This is the certainty, the fact, and rational ground of understanding. It must be acknowledged in the same way as we acknowledge that our bodies inhabit the universe. Saying that mind and body are dissimilar, not made from the same stuff, and that their subtle interaction is the cause of interminable questions and vexatious scientific and philosophical problems, leads us nowhere. To attain great understanding about life, we need only face the intelligible fact before us – namely, that incorporeal minds do indeed exist within corporeal bodies. This self-evident coexistence of mind and body – which we irrationally insist on regarding as separate entities – is of paramount significance. It tells us something.
If the mental (or spiritual) inhabits the material – as we know it does – we have no reason to be unduly puzzled over the nature of the universe of which we are a part. We must merely acknowledge that the universe is a body infused with and animated by an enfolded intelligence, in a similar way as our personal bodies are animated by mind. It defies explanation, and just is. Doubting the fact of the matter does not lead us to wisdom and understanding, only to additional unfathomable questions and insoluble puzzles. In short, proofs for the connection between the spiritual and material have been before us all along. Nothing is hidden from us. It is we who have chosen to overlook the obvious.
Of course, this opposition – of body and mind, or mind and matter – did not pose a major problem to men from the Idealist schools of philosophy. To the Irish philosopher George Berkeley, and to the German philosophers Georg Hegel and Friedrich von Schelling, it was simple to explain. Taking their cue from the sixteenth century Christian mystic Jacob Bohme, they understood the dichotomies and asymmetries of all existence to be symptoms of an underlying contrarium or disharmony that permeates all things. According to the Idealists, this disequilibrium is not a bad thing, or something to be lamented. It is the reason for the rise of sentient and non-sentient life and for consciousness. Self-consciousness, and man’s ability to question the meaning of his existence, would be impossible without it. Bohme described this contrarium as a kind of restlessness at the heart of Spirit. As far as he was concerned, it is a fundamental trait of God’s character, which is why it is discernible in every aspect of reality. Oppositions are, in this sense, the hallmark of the Creator. The antinomies mentioned above are manifestations of this fundamental (ontological) restlessness, and unthinkable without it. Sadly, we have trained ourselves to focus on the differences between apparent opposites, when we should be minutely aware of their subtle interplay and similarity. The bottom line is that our very ability to think and feel comes about due to their tension and everlasting interchange. By getting to know our opposite we inevitably discover who and what we are. What we recognize as harmony is the later resolution of a more originary disharmony. It’s time we taught this simple but revelatory fact to the next generation. A great deal depends on doing so.
Jacob Bohme (1575–1624)
What a pity that the profound miracle of existence – of the mind/body/universe relationship and dialogue – goes unheeded by the majority of unreflective people. It is a relationship that begins for each of us at birth and – as philosopher J. M. E McTaggart asserted – it may never end. During our lifetime the relationship between body, mind and universe is never the same from one instant to the next. It changes continually and is not explainable by scientific theories and constructs. As Kierkegaard said, life is not a puzzle to be solved, but a reality to be experienced. Many have accepted this, and to my mind no other view makes sense.
As you read, you will see that this is a book about philosophy and also of philosophy. It explores questions about thought, knowledge, God, belief, religion, doubt, delusion, collectivism, science, time, existence and death. It gets to the heart of why men feel overwhelmed with confusion, anxiety, frustration, anger and envy, and why the state of decay in the world exists.
Chapter One looks at the pros and cons of world philosophy. Have our world and minds improved due to the centuries-old questioning of existence and reality? Are we right to heed what others says about reality? Why are there so many antagonistic attitudes, beliefs and schools of thought? Is it because there is no single, all-encompassing answer to life’s mysteries, or because appropriate questions are not asked? Why are the answers to questions about existence so elusive? What are the differences between philosophy and psychology, reason and belief, mind and matter; and can we be certain about anything we see, think and feel? Will we ever solve the problems that beset us?
Chapter Two introduces a philosophical outlook I refer to as Objectionism. When taken seriously, this philosophy compels us to radically reevaluate what we know about consciousness and the process of philosophical investigation. I also introduce you to the basic tenets of Personalism. This philosophy has commonalities with Perspectivism, Relativism and Pragmatism, but goes beyond them, centering the Imperial Self, rather than the pseudo-self, at the heart of existence and reality.
Chapter Three deals with the problem of God’s existence and ongoing rivalry between believers and non-believers. What causes the schism between purveyors of religious dogma and advocates of atheism, materialist scientists and metaphysicians? What does each side believe, and what are the arguments used by one side to checkmate the other?
Chapter Four examines the origin of ego-consciousness and problem of the psychic trauma caused by historical catastrophe. Although the effects and after-effects of past terrestrial cataclysm damaged consciousness, most academics pay the problem little heed. I show how mistaken they are and what kind of delusions (or “Mysteria”) are engendered and entertained as a result of deep-set psychic trauma and fragmentation. I show that most humans are caught in ideas about reality, and ideas about ideas. I also present a new concept of pathology, and show how neurosis and schizophrenia, and other so-called “disorders” are linked to ancestral trauma.
Chapter Five explores the philosophical ideas of Martin Heidegger, Friedrich Nietzsche, Ayn Rand, and other important savants who exalted Selfhood above collectivity. I show how the ideas of Postmodernist thinkers – like that of ancient Taoists – direct us toward a deeper understanding of ourselves and our world, warning us against having our identity lost in mass consciousness. The chapter also deals with the dangers that lie ahead and what is required for annihilation on a personal and social level to be avoided.
In Chapter Six I review the meanings of important philosophical terms, and in Chapter Seven I review the exceptionally important ideas of R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz, Wilhelm Reich and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Merleau-Ponty’s theories on perception and role of the human body enhance key aspects of Martin Heidegger’s profound teachings on Being and Time. I show how crucial this little known philosopher’s work is for us today.
In Chapter Eight I turn to the subject of psychology, and focus on flaws in the work of Carl Jung regarding the nature of the so-called Collective Unconscious. I also explain Otto Rank’s radical reevaluation of Freud’s Thanatos Complex or “Death Instinct.”
In the final chapter I offer powerful solutions to man’s existential predicament, focusing on our aesthetic sensibility which provides us with the only legitimate way of healing the damage to the psyche caused by ancestral trauma.
I hope my text inspires you to take up philosophy, think about thought, and be lucidly and reverently cognizant of the miracle of existence. After all, your capacity for wonderment, and ability to question the meaning and purpose of your life, distinguishes you from other species. It may even distinguish you from other humans. In any case, as you search for answers, you may choose to follow the intellectual trends of previous sages or those living today. You may accept their ideas without question or work to improve and advance them. Alternatively, as philosophers Jean Jacques Rousseau and Ludwig Feuerbach recommended, you may dispense with everything written and said by others, and, throwing aside the oars, sail out alone toward the temple of the Self – the zero degrees longitude, zero degrees latitude of your own being.
By philosophy the mind of man comes to itself, and from henceforth rests on itself without foreign aid, and is completely master of itself - Johann Gottlieb Fichte