Spirits in the Material World AKA Descartes Fucked it All UP

There is no political solution
To our troubled evolution
Have no faith in constitution
There is no bloody revolution

Our so-called leaders speak
With words they try to jail you
They subjugate the meek
But it’s the rhetoric of failure

Where does the answer lie?
Living from day to day
If it’s something we can’t buy
There must be another way

We are spirits in the material world
Are spirits in the material world
Are spirits in the material world
Are spirits in the material world
Are spirits in the material world
Are spirits in the material world

by Scott Preston edited by O Society October 1, 2019

“I am strongly convinced the evil principle prevailing in this world leads the unrecognized spiritual need into perdition if it is not counteracted either by real religious insight or by the protective wall of human community. An ordinary man, not protected by an action from above and isolated in society, cannot resist the power of evil, which is called very aptly “the Devil.” But the use of such words arouses so many mistakes, one can only keep aloof from them as much as possible.”

~ Carl Jung A Letter to Bill Wilson

I do not particularly care for terms like “mysticism” or “metaphysics” and generally avoid terms such as “spiritual” or “transcendental” because these terms are usually misunderstood. I especially avoid phrases like “higher truth” because every charlatan and two-bit propagandist often justifies their deceptions and lies in the name of a “higher truth” supposedly inaccessible to mere mortals.

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“Clarity of perception and thought evidently requires we be generally aware of how our experience is shaped by the insight (clear or confused) provided by the theories implicit or explicit in our general ways of thinking.”

~ David Bohm Wholeness and the Implicate Order

This notion of a “higher truth” is very misleading and is merely the result of centuries of error, of mistaking a metaphor for something real but beyond our normal experience because we are presumed to live in such a “lowly state” of untruth. Nonetheless, these may have some meaning as symbolic states and metaphors.

“The understanding of the men of ancient times went a long way. How far did it go? To the point where some of them believed that things have never existed – so far, to the end, where nothing can be added. Those at the next stage thought that things exist but recognized no boundaries among them. Those at the next stage thought there were boundaries but recognized no right and wrong. Because right and wrong appeared, the Way was injured, and because the Way was injured, love became complete. But do such things as completion and injury really exist, or do they not?”

~ Chuang Tzu 2 Discussion On Making All Things Equal (translated Watson)

I am in full agreement with David Bohm, the state of fragmentation (currently very intense) we typically take as being the normal and natural state of affairs (while wholeness is seen as an “ideal”) is actually quite unnatural and quite abnormal. Wholeness is our natural condition, while the fragmentary state contrariwise is the unnatural condition. We already live within the great field of “unbroken” or “undivided wholeness.” A portion of us already knows this as its primary reality. It is not a Great Beyond or something beyond the here and now. This is, of course, what some of the religious mean in saying “God is closer to us than we are to ourselves.”

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The ego-consciousness (McGilchrist’s “Emissary” mode) breaks up this original wholeness into fragments and then establishes itself as “the measure of all things.” Our mode of perception (in our case “Single Vision” as Blake puts it) slices and dices the undivided wholeness into discrete particulars, and then imposes upon the whole this fragmentary state of affairs (including “human nature”) as being “reality as it is” and calls this “realism.”

Therefore to speak of a “beyond,” and in terms of the usual senses in which the “mystical” or “metaphysical” or “transcendental” are understood is quite in error, for “beyond” is pretty much the state psychoanalysts and child development theorists sometimes describe as “oceanic feeling” of the infant state before the acquisition of habits of thought and language (especially the word “No!”). This is the natural state. It does not disappear, rather this state merely is eclipsed by the development of an ego-consciousness.

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Be filled with Te, Like a baby: Wasps, scorpions, and vipers Do not sting it. Fierce tigers do not stalk it. Birds of prey do not attack it. Bones weak, muscles soft, But its grasp is tight.

It does not yet know Union of male and female, But its sex is formed, Its vital essence complete.

It can scream all day and not get hoarse, Its harmony is complete. Knowing harmony is called endurance. Knowing endurance is called illumination.
Increasing life is called fortune. Mind controlling energy is called power.
When beings prosper and grow old, Call them not-Tao. Not-Tao soon ends.

~ Laozi (translated by Lombardo & Addiss)

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The present “common sense” view point is, of course, the foundations of the really real lie in innumerable discrete elements called “facts” and “factoids,” which must be woven together somehow (via theory) into a unity called “totality” — Humpty-Dumpty like. But the mind is flailing desperately at this task because the state of fragmentation/ disintegration is a critical condition. The Ego consciousness grasps reality from the wrong end of the stick, as it were. Our lives already begin in awareness of this primary state of “undivided wholeness” and we are already enveloped within this infinity of undivided wholeness, which is called “the One.”

“Our Master Lieh Tzu dwelt on a vegetable plot in the Chêng State for forty years, and no man knew him for what he was. The Prince, his Ministers, and all the State officials looked upon him as one of the common herd. A time of dearth fell upon the State, and he was preparing to migrate to Wei, when his disciples said to him:

‘Now our Master is going away without any prospect of returning, we have ventured to approach you, hoping for instruction. Are there no words from the lips of Hu-Ch’iu Tzu-lin you can impart to us?

Lieh Tzu smiled and said: ‘Do you suppose Hu Tzu dealt in words? However, I will try to repeat to you what my Master said on one occasion to Po-hun Mou-jên.’

A fellow-disciple. Out of modesty, Lieh Tzu does not say the teaching was imparted directly to himself.

I was standing by and heard his words, which ran as, follows:

‘There is a Creative Principle which is itself uncreated; there is a Principle of Change which is itself unchanging. The Uncreated is able to create life; the Unchanging is able to effect change. That which is produced cannot but continue producing; that which is evolved cannot but continue evolving. Hence, there is constant production and constant evolution. The law of constant production and of constant evolution at no time ceases to operate.’

The commentator says: ‘That which is once involved in the destiny of living things can never be annihilated.’

So is it with the Yin and the Yang, so is it with the Four Seasons.

The Yin and the Yang are the Positive and Negative Principles of Nature, alternately predominating as in day and night.

The Uncreated we may surmise to be Alone in itself.

‘The Supreme, the Non-Engendered–how can its reality be proved? We can only suppose it is mysteriously One, without beginning and without end.’

The Unchanging goes to and fro, and its range is illimitable. We may surmise it stands Alone, and its Ways are inexhaustible.”

~ Lieh Tzu Cosmognony (translatated by Giles)

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It is not a “beyond” or a “behind” or a “beneath” except in relation to the Ego consciousness for which it appears “beyond” or “behind” or “beneath” the phenomenal forms or surface appearances. To realise this it is very often necessary to suspend the Ego consciousness long enough to see how this mode of consciousness precipitates, crystallises, manifests, or arises out of this primary state of undivided wholeness in flowing movement (i.e., “the holomovement”).

Virtually all post-Cartesian modes of thought begin here, on the foundation of reality as undivided or unbroken wholeness, so in effect, what was previously coerced and coaxed into the background — or cast into the outer darkness — by Cartesian metaphysics, now emerges as foreground. But it also scares people as being a “loss of self” or “identity crisis,” for the ego-consciousness now comes under great pressure to realise its source and its origins in this singularity of “undivided wholeness in flowing movement.”

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So, these two dynamics constitute the present crisis — the “crisis of paradox” in Bronowski’s terms or “the double-movement” in Jean Gebser’s terms: an intensification of the fragmentation or disintegration of individual and society is answered by an equal but contrary intensification of the awareness of undivided wholeness as primary reality, and thus arises the necessity of a new integration. Bohmian Mechanics (so-called) is rooted in the awareness of this “Undivided Wholeness in Flowing Movement.” This is very Heraclitean, and much of post-Cartesian thought is beholden to Heraclitus — the Philosopher of Becoming.

The Master Lieh Tzu said: ‘The inspired men of old regarded the Yin and the Yang as controlling the sum total of Heaven and Earth. But that which has substance is engendered from that which is devoid of substance; out of what then were Heaven and Earth engendered?

‘They were engendered out of nothing, and came into existence of themselves.’

‘Hence we say, there is a great Principle of Change, a great Origin, a great Beginning, a great Primordial Simplicity. In the great Change substance is not yet main est. In the great Origin lies the beginning of substance. In the great Beginning, lies the beginning of material form.

‘After the separation of the Yin and the Yang, when classes of objects assume their forms.’

In the great Simplicity lies the beginning of essential qualities. When substance, form and essential qualities are still indistinguishably blended together it is called Chaos. Chaos means that all things are chaotically intermixed and not yet separated from one another. The purer and lighter elements, tending upwards, made the Heavens; the grosser and heavier elements, tending downwards, made the Earth. Substance, harmoniously proportioned, became Man; and, Heaven and Earth containing thus a spiritual element, all things were evolved and produced.’

~ Lieh Tzu Cosmognony (translatated by Giles)

The peculiar nature of this Modern Mind (or the Modern Self or Ego-consciousness) and its origins presumes itself to be the mean and measure of all things is my principle obsession, if you will. This is the mode of thinking and perception Gebser calls “the perspectival” or “mental-rational” because it does have its roots in the invention of perspective in the Renaissance. Perspectivism (which emphasises the “point-of-view” and the sense of Self or ego-consciousness as a result) is at the root of what I refer to here as “the Modern Canon.”

This “Modern Canon” embraces these seminal textual works defining of the Era as: Copernicus, Galileo, Bacon, Descartes, Newton, (and one might also include Cervantes’ Don Quixote among them, from which we get the term “novel” apparently, because of its biting satire and ridicule of an older and quite decadent mode of consciousness — the aristocratic or Late Medieval Mind). What unites them all is the ruling idea or Zeitgeist — perspectivity and the perspectivising mode of consciousness and thinking, or what I have called also “point-of-view-line-of-thought” consciousness and logic, which is now disintegrate and decay into “the culture of narcissism,” which alone attests to the correctness of Bohm’s views on individual, social, cultural and even physical (and climatic) fragmentation and disintegration.

“Once Chuang Chou dreamt he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn’t know he was Chuang Chou. Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakable Chuang Chou. But he didn’t know if he was Chuang Chou who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was Chuang Chou. Between Chuang Chou and a butterfly there must be some distinction! This is called the Transformation of Things.”

~ Chuang Tzu 2 Discussion On Making All Things Equal (translated Watson)

Bohm places great emphasis on what he calls “experience-knowledge” and this is very similar to Rosenstock-Huessy’s idea of “survival knowledge” (which we’ll get around to comparing in future). And if Bohm insists that fundamental reality is “Undivided Wholeness in Flowing Movement” (his capitalisation, significantly) I trust it is because he had direct experience of this himself, much as Gebser had direct experience of “the ever-present origin” (or “the Itself”) and was able to acknowledge it, too, as being the “archaic structure of consciousness” of non-differentiated awareness.

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Make Your Mind an Ocean ~ Lama Yeshe

In effect, this “archaic” consciousness would be the same as the child psychologist’s “oceanic awareness” prior to the precipitation of the ego-consciousness. And as Bohm also points out regarding the contradictions between the relativity theory and the quantum theory, both nonetheless presume, however implicitly as background, an undivided wholeness as fundamental reality. Bohm is simply drawing out the implicit, tacit, or latent background presupposition.

Let’s sum up our inquiry to date into Bohm’s work here:

A quite dangerous and perilous fragmentation or disintegration now prevails in the individual, the society, and the Earth as a whole, that appears as madness and even psychosis, that now even threatens to end all life on Earth. A corrective to this dissolute condition (the “abomination of desolation” as Scripture puts it) is to recover or retrieve our implicit or tacit awareness of our primary reality as being “undivided wholeness in flowing movement” (a.k.a. “the holomovement”).

“Undivided wholeness in flowing movement” is not a surrender to “mysticism” or to an abstract metaphysics, but is directly perceivable as being “reality as a whole” and actual Life as it is lived prior to our taking thought, and there are reflections and echoes in the contemporary mind of this primary reality in new “Field Theory” thinking (notably theoretical physicist David Tong strongly buttresses Bohm’s idea of “wholeness in flowing movement” (and I do strongly recommend you watch this video presentation on quantum field theory).

The reality of this singular “undivided wholeness in flowing movement” can be directly experienced through suspending our conventional modes of thought which induce division, segregation, and fragmentation and then, not surprisingly, discovers its “reality” as being divided, segregated, and fragmented in a kind of mirroring effect or self-fulfilling prophecy, so we must examine deeply how our modes of thought — our presuppositions and assumptions or tacit metaphysical assumptions and theoretical foundations foundations actually result in fragmentation and disintegration — which is to say, the development of the ego-consciousness (McGilchrist’s “Emissary”) which, in its present form and structure as “Single Vision”, has become destructive of itself and its lifeworld and, in fact, a thing insane, also demonstating symptoms of “schizoaffective disorder” as previously discussed.

“Undivided wholeness in flowing movement” recalls Heraclitus, it is true. It also recalls the great Sufi Rumi who called it “emptiness.” It’s only “mystical,” though, in the judgement of the ego-consciousness, which has become exaggerated, over-developed, and alienated (distantiated) from its own roots and the sources of its own being — the problem of “social anomie,“ This is the problem we refer to as “narcissism.”

This brings us to the next phase of our inquiry into Bohm’s masterwork Wholeness and the Implicate Order. If fundamental reality is “Undivided Wholeness in Flowing Movement” (which would be the same as Gebser’s “ever-present origin”) when, how, and why did divisions and differentiations arise from this singular field called “the One” or “unbroken wholeness?” Are these divisions and differentiations actually “real” or are they imposed upon reality be our own thinking and mode of perception and if so, for what end and purpose?

 

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