To get anywhere, we must start from somewhere; some common ground that we can all agree on, at least provisionally, for the sake of discussion. So what would that be?

Our treatment of Truth depends on whether we see it as the reality preceding thought, or thoughts that correspond to that reality. The latter is conceptual, the former is not. Our concepts have our experiences for their content.

Being-here-now is the most general statement about our predicament, how we find ourselves abiding in the world, specifying nothing beyond the obvious, but indicating self-consciousness, basic linguistic apparatus and at least some level of abstraction.

When we have realized that All is One, and are satisfied with that barely articulated realization, then that’s it. => But any further elaboration cannot escape from that Truth or falsify it: later conceptual analysis reconfirms the truth of that pre-reflective intuition, it sees that it cannot be otherwise.

“This” and “that” is the first distinction and the prototype for all others. Language (concepts are expressed in words, words are symbols) imposes a conceptual matrix over the original unity, breaks it up and creates apparent multiplicity for us. Reality precedes minds thinking it, so the primordial unity of all is not severed by conceptual distinctions – those come afterwards.
We can , as Milton Scarborough notes in his work on Comparative Theories of Non-Duality, have distinctions that do not imply any dualisms.
We can divide, and divide well, but without effecting in the least the unity that precedes all thought, welcomes it in its wake, and persists indefinitely after its cessation.
“Separation is not reflected in thought, but produced by it.” Emmanuel Levinas

Embodiment itself involves the phenomenological experience of being spatialy localized and temporaly situated , although those senses can cease at times, leaving one either disoriented or forgetting about coordinates altoghether, giving us the impression that our thinking about those categories is what makes them real…for us? or at all?
That very distinct mode of being-in-the-world, where one center emerges out of the all-embracing isness of the natural world to differentiate itself as a particular subject, whether semi or proto-conscious. This already implies some level of cognition, which, it is not unreasonable to say, rests  on a certain level of bio-hardware capacity, connected, in cases familiar to us, with brain size, complexity and interconnectivity.

Exactly at what point does pre-conscious turn into semi-conscious or conscious and for what reason (if any), driven by what force?
Wherever we draw the line between different stages of evolution, different kingdoms in nature, different ages past etc., even between living and non-living matter – those sharp borders will always be somewhat arbitrary, however intrascientifically convenient they may be (independently verifiable differences stand on their own feet).
Is the current state of affairs the only way things could’ve worked out? Was the highest state of development in nature and the production of self-conscious life its goal all along? Can there even be word about ‘higher’ and ‘lower’ in nature? Is there some kind of intelligence guiding the development of natural things, some kind of pattern according to which things are unfolding? Or are we just left with purposeless randomness? Is any talk of teleological directionality justified?

Nietzsche, for one, would fiercely oppose any kind of logocentric grounding of philosophy – projecting the mind’s craving for order onto the natural world.
Reality does not conform to our categories and expectations, and it’s never as simple as a diagram.

logic(Philosophy and its Others: Ways of Being and Mind by William Desmond p. 226)

Here we find a kind of conceptual non-realism – apes who invented knowing! (On Truth and Lies in a Non-Moral Sense – 1) … Are they to be trusted?
Their futile attempts to construct grand systems of philosophy on an unstable foundation of an unruly world – that house of cards had to crumble.
(Nietzsche’s aversion to systematicity is reflected in his fragmented style of writing.)
Letters are always slipping through the fingers of these logoids who’re trying to push the envelope; and that is so ’cause the nature of the case. We expect the world to be predictable and to unfold in a lawful manner – our minds always like things sorted out neatly.
Terence Mckenna and Rupert Sheldrake both figured out how antropomorphic a metaphor “law” is; extending it from human jurisprudence to natural phenomena may not be totally adequate. It may serve us better to think of Nature’s tendencies as ‘habits’. ( Sheldrake at the roundtable…Bonus! )

Nature does not unfold according to strict, set, mathematicaly precise progressions, but displays more freedom in its ways – such is the nature of the organic, influenced by both the genetic code and the environment (but determined by neither), leaving room for variation and mutation, thus novelty, emergence, creativity. This may be closest to the ‘divine’ that the postmodern world is willing to go – it needn’t involve any kind of personal agency behind events; creativity here being not an attribute of the divine, but equated with it.
(See David Ray Griffin : God and Religion in the Postmodern World)

So whatever the case may be, here we have a knowing subject; immersed in the world but never fully reducible to it (the feeling of strangeness, not belonging, being alien).
Is it but another ‘thing’?It’s a special mode of being-in-the-world:a psychism,an egoism:

psychism
(Emmanuel Levinas : Totality and Infinity p. 54)

This radical separation, this subjectivity, this individuality, a kind of metaphysical revolt against participation in totality, marks the beginning of independence and ‘atheism’ for Levinas, which is, ironically enough,  a pre-requisite for a relationship with ‘God’. This relationship can only be realized through a relationship with another human being, whose eyes are a window into the Other (God being the Absolutely Other). This is what marks the difference between primitive and superior religions in Levinas’ view.

levinas atheism
levinas atheism1
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(Emmanuel Levinas : Totality and Infinity)

Conversation with another exceeds the boundary that isolates the self (the same) and opens up the social and the ethical dimension. Justice here consists of a recognition of the otherness of the other, and respect for its freedom and autonomy.

Now, can this subjective consciousness be thought of simply as an epiphenomena of the body?  In the on-going debate over the nature of consciousness, multiple views are presenting themselves: from crude materialism and substance dualism to mentalism and subjective immaterialism (along the lines of George Berkeley…The Kybalion also comes to mind as a modern rendering of ancient Hermetic philosophy by “Three Initiates” – most likely W.W.Atkinson again with his pseudonyms, LOL).
I’m inclined towards an explanation that sees consciousness as being irreducible to physical phenomena – as having an irreducible first-person ontology. This position is defendable on purely philosophical grounds; no amount of digging in the brain will get us to subjectivity, which is what is looking. (Dialogue…it’s a dialogue…)

To say that the subjective,experiential element is not reducible to the empirically given is not to deny the reality of the physical and the biological, but to recognize an element that transcends them although it is situated in their midst; not hovers above them in some mysterious way but is closely interlinked with the biological apparatus.
Correspondence between mental and neurological states is significant, but the correlation does not prove causality in one direction or the other.

John Searle, an eminent contemporary philosopher, does not fail to point out that although consciousness is ontologically subjective, we can approach and study it in an epistemologically objective manner – so a science of consciousness is not only possible but on her way.

In the words of Artur Schopenhauer, The Subject is “That which knows all things and is known by none.” (WWI) A metaphor often used to illustrate this is that of a lamp, a source of light, that illuminates everything but itself. This kind of thinking is not uncommon in Indian philosophy, with which Schopenhauer was acquainted. It also captures the interdependence of the subject and object.

Schopenhauer cuts out the weeds of materialism at their root when he says:

“The fundamental absurdity of materialism is that it starts from
the objective, and takes as the ultimate ground of explanation
something objective, whether it be matter in the abstract,
simply as it is thought, or after it has taken form, is empirically
given—that is to say, is substance, the chemical element with its
primary relations. Some such thing it takes, as existing absolutely
and in itself, in order that it may evolve organic nature and finally
the knowing subject from it, and explain them adequately by means of it;
whereas in truth all that is objective is already determined as such in manifold
ways by the knowing subject through its forms of knowing, and
presupposes them; and consequently it entirely disappears if we
think the subject away. Thus materialism is the attempt to explain
what is immediately given us by what is given us indirectly. All
that is objective, extended, active—that is to say, all that is
material—is regarded by materialism as affording so solid a
basis for its explanation, that a reduction of everything to this
can leave nothing to be desired (especially if in ultimate analysis
this reduction should resolve itself into action and reaction).
But we have shown that all this is given indirectly and in the
highest degree determined, and is therefore merely a relatively
present object, for it has passed through the machinery and
manufactory of the brain, and has thus come under the forms of
space, time and causality, by means of which it is first presented
to us as extended in space and ever active in time. From such
an indirectly given object, materialism seeks to explain what
is immediately given, the idea (in which alone the object that
materialism starts with exists), and finally even the will from
which all those fundamental forces, that manifest themselves,
under the guidance of causes, and therefore according to law,
are in truth to be explained.”

(WWI pp. 55-56)

All objects exist only for some possible or actual subject, by the laws of thought.
Objects of thought and knowledge, as far as they are objects, exist for a subject as representations present in his awareness. That’s not to say that the world independent of our consciousness is unreal or that the whole of the object is exhausted in its representation. This leads us to postulating a ‘thing-in-itself’ that is the cause of the representation. But that is in principle unreachable for us. The only object that we have immediate awareness of, from the inside,  is our own body. This grants us an insight into the inner nature of things, and by extension, the world, which in Schopenhauer is understood as the will. (helpful article on Schopenhauer)

Nietzsche would immediately part ways with this notion of truth that exists over and above the world; in a realm of perfection and ideal forms, divorced from the concrete reality of life. He sees Greek philosophy as having taken a turn for the worse with Socrates and Plato (arguably earlier, for example as suggested by these revealing passages…): namely the dynamic, ever-changing, fiery, alive! nature (he’s inclined heavily towards the presocratics, particularly Heraclitus[1]) is replaced with an imagined world of phantasms and eternal,static ideas (non-existent, in his view). There is the the contrast between, in his parlance, Dionysian (uncompromising, untamed) aspect, intoxication and celebration of life and the Apollonian (cold, strategic) aspect, detached reasoning, of human nature.
The difference between ‘being’ and ‘becoming’.
Rationality can hijack instinct, override it for a period of time, and direct or prevent certain actions based on what it considers the best option. When this contradicts instinctual preferences, we have a battle of multiple wills which interferes with and is contrary to the advancement of life.

nietzsche truth

nietzsche truth1

(Nietzsche, Epistemology, and Philosophy of Science: Nietzsche and the Sciences II p. 8)

That is also a part of his critique of the science of his day: it smuggles in a kind of religious ideal of ‘truth’, as an inherent value, an end in itself, as something to be unconditionally strived after. This truth just another metaphor, the last remnant of moral prejudice.
When it comes to the relationship between truth and falsehood (just like with good and evil), Nietzsche rejects a simplistic black-and-white, 0-1 relation, and suggests instead that we’re dealing with a whole spectrum of truthfulness/falsehood, a grey area. Take it or leave it. What tips the scale is more often the usefulness of a given belief, than the epistemic grounds it stands on. Our ‘pure reasoning’ purports to have the last word, but it is far from infallible, and is often painted by our personality traits and character and highly psychologically conditioned. The dream of “a thing-in-itself”.
What causes one set of beliefs to prevail at a given time and place is not due to the coherence or strenght of their arguments, but their social utility.
The fallacy of “knowledge for its own sake” (BGE ch. 4-64) – the will to know is but a facet of the will to power and serves it primarily. Body, which is the self for Nietzsche reigns at the end of the day; instincts drive actions, not ‘reasonings’ or ‘free will’.
The carnal is what has precedence and takes the prize (or not, depending on the strenght of the will). Consciousness, in Nietzsche’s account is a surface level phenomenon (very cerebral), it is subordinate to instinct, its tool and servant. It is used by the deeper will and deeper intelligence of the pre-conscious to present to itself possible routes for enlarging its sphere of influence (not consciousness per se) and increasing its power.
Nietzsche did not go into the metaphysical discussions on the existence of God: he never really took it as a tenable possibility.
“I have not come to know atheism as a result of logical reasoning and still less as an event in my life: in me it is a matter of instinct.” (EH – Why I am so Clever)
His concern is mostly with the social implications of the death of the belief in god, diminishing of the hold that the traditional religious structures have on the plebs, and the effects that a loss of a transcendental, metaphysical basis for value making has on human affairs.
After traditional religious authorities and institutions have crumbled away, or faded into the background, when ground is there for the creation of new values if not the individual himself?

“To create new values—that, even the lion cannot yet accomplish: but to create itself freedom for new creating—that can the might of the lion do.

To create itself freedom, and give a holy No even unto duty: for that, my brethren, there is need of the lion.

To assume the right to new values—that is the most formidable assumption for a load-bearing and reverent spirit. Verily, unto such a spirit it is preying, and the work of a beast of prey.

As its holiest, it once loved “Thou-shalt”: now is it forced to find illusion and arbitrariness even in the holiest things, that it may capture freedom from its love: the lion is needed for this capture.

But tell me, my brethren, what the child can do, which even the lion could not do? Why hath the preying lion still to become a child?

Innocence is the child, and forgetfulness, a new beginning, a game, a self-propelling wheel, a first movement, a holy Yes.

Aye, for the game of creating, my brethren, there is needed a holy Yea unto life: ITS OWN will, willeth now the spirit; HIS OWN world winneth the world’s outcast.”

(TSZ: The Three Metamorphoses)

Nietzsche’s main problem with Buddhism is that it sees suffering inherent in life  as something to be avoided, while he praises it for its strengthening and transformative possibilities. In his view, pain and pleasure are not distinct from each other, let alone opposites, but merely different modifications of the same sensation.

niet ppniet pp1niet pp2niet pp3niet pp4niet pp5niet pp6niet pp7niet pp8
(Nietzsche, Epistemology, and Philosophy of Science: Nietzsche and the Sciences II,
from the section “We Sensualists” by Robin Small)

His notion of eternal recurrence struck me as a challenge and a question:
If you had to re-live your whole life, every second of it, beginning to end, with all its ups and downs, over and over again infinite number of times, would you be able to do it? And not just tolerate it, but rejoice in it? That would be the ultimate affirmation of life and the whole spectrum of human experience.

“Transcendence of the Ego” is a phrase often repeated as stating a goal, maybe the goal of spiritual practice. This is an example of what someone once comedically called McDonald’s spirituality.
This kind of mystical urge for self-annihilation is sharply contrasted  with the urge for self-preservation, subsistence, continued existence as an individual entity – as Levinas rightly observes, in self-transcendence individuality is kept.
Transcending the ego does not mean going to the pre-egoic state (which is impossible) and child-like purity does not mean infantilism. A cat is not an enlightened Buddha. Although it may seem tranquil, it is not wise. That’s not to say that it is a mechanical automaton (to part with Descartes’ injustice!) – Again, we’re talking gradations of freedom here.
Innocence of the Edenic state plus the experience of being fully immersed in the world is what makes us complete, (w)holy : Being fully Divine and fully Human – complementarity of involution and evolution.(A tripartite series of lectures on Esoteric Christianity heavily based on the readings of Rudolf Steiner [1]  [2]  [3] )

Theosophy in general, and H.P. Blavatsky in particular, fully recognized the
multi-layered nature of the Ego, it being more than just a psychological construct, but, in the broadest terms, the Individual Spirit of Man. (This article does justice to the intricate conception of the Ego found in Theosophy)

A. O. Hume, an associate of Theosophy, notes duly in his Fragments of Occult Truth how inextricably connected body and spirit are, Individuality being a special feature of the embodied modality of existence:

“Immediately on the severance of the spirit, whether at death, or (as, we have already hinted, is sometimes the case) before death, the spiritual Ego is dissipated and ceases to exist. It is the result of the action of spirit on matter, and it might, to render the matter more clear, be described as a combination of spirit and matter, just as flame is the result of the combination of oxygen with the substance being oxygenized and might loosely be described as the combination of the two. Withdraw the oxygen and the flame ceases, withdraw the spirit, and the spiritual EGO disappears. The sense of individuality in spirit cannot exist without combination with matter. Thus the pure planetary spirits, when first propelled into the circle of necessity, have no individual consciousness, only the absolute consciousness which they share with all fragments of the spirit hitherto entirely uncombined with matter. As they, entering into generation, descend the ladder and grow gradually more and more hemmed in by matter and isolated from the universal spirit, so the sense of individuality, the spiritual Egoship, grows. How finally on re-ascending the circle, step by step, they regain on reunion with the universal, the absolute consciousness, and simultaneously all the individual consciousnesses which they have developed at each stage of their descending and ascending progress, is one of the highest mysteries.”

Coming to a close, here’s some Levinas’ thoughts on Metaphysical Congition and Multiplicity:

levinas subjeclevinas subjec1

Here’s William Desmond’s explanation of the interdependence of the self and the other, how the “I” is deeply interwoven into what he calls the ‘metaxological web’ of finite existences:

self and other

Sri Aurobindo captures beautifully how The Absolute Self-Awareness rests in itself, stays superior to the world of dualities, while still delighting to witness the play of the multiplicity of beings:

a life divine
(Sri Aurobindo: The Life Divine, some page or another)

Our rational instincts call for a reconciliation of all opposites. If this attempt is not sufficient, just remember where we started.

If you went through all that, congratulations. I leave you there.
Author: Miodrag Vujaković
Artist: unknown

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Different approaches to Magic: The 4 Models

Magic , being as broad a field as it is, has plenty of room upon its playground to allow for a variety of different approaches, while not loosing its flavour and the usefulness that it obviously has for so many people. Fortunate is the fact that is offers us opportunities for a highly personalized take on it, adapted to our individal need, wants, and style.
Views on magic differ greatly; from writing it off as an outdated superstition to accepting it as an exact science known to the sages of all times. It is both an art and a science: science, since it rests on the laws according to which Nature operates, and an art since it allows an almost limitless amount of personal freedom.
The efficacy of any kind of magical undertaking (be it strictly ceremonial or less formalized) does not rely on the belief system of the practitioner. In fact there are multiple mutually compatible theoretical frameworks within which one can work and still obtain the results one is looking for.

These four models were proposed by a contemporary occultist and author Ralph Tegtmeier (also known as Frater U.’. D.’.), and I’d like to explore each of them here:

The 4 main models of magic are:
1.) The Supernatural/Spirit model
2.) The Energy model
3.) The Psychological model
4.) The Information model

1.) The Supernatural or Spirit model of Magic:
This model is probably the oldest and the most common among the so called ‘primitive’ cultures of the Earth; pretty much taken for granted by  many shamanistic societies with an animistic outlook, but also held by many an educated and respectable person, by no means naive, up to the present day.
This view embraces the existence of, and a possibility of communication and cooperation with, individualized superphysical beings that exist outside of the time-space bound consensus reality on planes of being parallel to the material one. These spirits/deities/entities are able to and do interact with our plane, especially with persons of cultivated magical ability, who utilize trance or drug-induced states to overstep the boundries of our familiar mundane existence and receive messages and guidance from the otherworld.
Here we can also include workings with celestial and planetary intelligences, traditional magic being so closely tied with astrology.
This view is taken much less seriously by the mainstream mind of today, but it never completely died out.

2.) The Energy model of Magic:
It is also of considerable antiquity, and under this model the objects of our working are subtle, but unquestionably real forces and cosmic powers of an impersonal nature (known as aetheric forces, Prana, Chi, Reiki, Vril, Manna, Astral light, L.V.X., Pneuma, Orgone, Electro-magnetism or by a plethora of different names), present within and around us, that we then work on familiarizing ourselves with and manipulating to an extent that our ability allows us, and directing to the point of the magical finger to a target either far away or close-by, and using it for predetermined purposes.
This model has an intuitive appeal because of its simplicity and different people have varying degrees of sensitivity to these energies, which of course can also be cultivated with meditation and different kinds of focused energy work.

3.) The Psychological model of Magic:
Magical practice could be simply taken to be merely intra-psychic and not at all depending on any factors external to us; it could be that we’re simply rearranging our mental atmosphere and working on our emotional natures, weeding out unwanted thoughts and feelings and planting seeds of the desired outcome in the fertile ground of our minds.
Under this model, gods and spirits are replaced with archetypes, and hellish and heavenly realms with the subconsious and the superconscious minds respectively.
Finesses of this work differ depending on what view of the subconscious/unconscious we take: The more Freudian one, where the subconsious is seen as a depository of supressed psycho-somatic energy and unprocessed emotions, or a more Jungian one, where the uncoscious is both personal and collective, being a whole new dimension altogether.
Different symbols and/or sigils that have a deep personal meaning for the practitioner may be used to impress upon the psyche states of mind that one wishes to cultivate and thus bring about realization and transformation, expansion and refinement of consciousness.
Notably, Israel Regardie (among others) is a proponent of this approach, uniting the goals of magical activity with modern psychoanalytic theory.
Also, connected with the New Thought movement is the belief in the magical potency
of our iMagination and that our subconscious mind in particular is the possesor of power, so all our conscious will can do is reprogram it (using prayers, affirmations, vizualizations etc.) so that it works in our favour, and ‘attracts what we want’.
This model is particularly appealing to the more secularized Western audiences, leaning towards a more materialistic worldview.

4.) The Information model of Magic:
In our computer age, it’s not suprising that a need arose for an updated version of our magical theory and practise, this is exactly what this model offers us.
It rests on an assumption of the reality of the Universal Field of Intelligence, or the Zero Point Field if you wish, and not on the existence of any kind of personal spirit beings.
(this model being compatible with modern physics)
We’re constantly exchanging (transmitting and receiving) information with this omnipresent Field analogous to the Internet (or Innernet), thus we are able to gain knowledge and insight valuable for our growth and development in the desired direction. In fact, one can argue that that’s where all of our thoughts and ideas originate, being received or ‘downloaded’ by the central nervous system, or more generally our whole biological hardware (et al. Nikola Tesla, and Walter Russel’s Universal Thinker, or the One Mind of God).
The Zero Point Field may rightly be considered to be synonymous with Akasha (a term from ancient Indian metaphysics, popularized by modern Theosophy and Anthroposophy),
signifying a universal field pervading all space and containing within its warehouse the records of all the past, present and future events on all planes of existence.
I would also add that the simple act of asking a specific question and clearing the mind, opens one up for receiving specific answers pertaining to that deeply rooted interest of ours.
The concept of Cybermagick, a relatively recent addition to the scenery of magical ideas, is notable here.

One can adopt one, all, or any combination of the above presented models, according to one’s views and preferences. Common advantages assisting with all of these are: clearly defined goals, concentration and centeredness of mind, and one-pointed intention.
And let’s not forget the breath!

Mechanical reenactment of the steps given by another (as helpful as these can be), without properly understanding the deeper significance of the rituals performed, won’t get us very far. The more advanced a practise is, the simpler it is, so it’s only understandable that we would want to eliminate from our practise all inessential elements. It isn’t always necessary to follow every single little detail of how things are conventionally done, but there’s often a very good reason behind time-tested techniques. Ultimately, only personal experimentation will prove the (in)validity of a given path or system to anyone’s own satisfaction, and direct experience is the highest authority. With the right attitude we can tap into the energy built up around certain words, mantras, symbols etc. during the centuries of repeated and emotionally charged usage by our fellow craftsmen. Just don’t let it become a boring automatized routine! Then it would stop being, well, – magical!

Magic is neither good nor bad, Black nor White by itself, and the produced effects depend solely on the level of consciousness or the wielder of the Force behind the steering wheel.
With rising levels of consciousness comes a greater sense of moral responsibility towards self and others. Hopefully our purpose is mutually beneficial: healing, learning, growth and self-development, and reintegration into the cosmic harmony.

Here’s Ralph’s own article on the subject: http://www.sacred-texts.com/bos/bos065.htm

Thanks for reading!
Do you think that something was left out? Feedback is appreciated.
Miodrag Vujaković
Artwork: Science vs Magic by JacketRockArt

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Hear no evil, speak no evil; it’s all good folks!

The ‘all rainbows and unicorns’, ‘Love and Light’ paradigm, so prevalent among New Age circles, is a result of a demasculinized humanity, unwilling to face the unpleasant aspects of our world. The attractive ‘feelgood’ philosophy may seem comforting in the short term , but it’s shallow and doesn’t bring about fundamental changes so desperately needed in these times of major global shifts. It’s a kind of a self-hypnosis; tucking yourself warmly into deep sleep. Anger is a healthy reaction to atrocities, and it can be a powerful motivating force for change. The person who smiles all the time is called a neurotic. Satisfaction is deeper than ‘happiness’.
Giving attention to the darkness does not feed it; reflecting on it increases the influx of light. Truth is not always pretty, but it’s remedying nevertheless. With blindfolds on we’re headed straight into impending doom. Face it and erase it.
Having faith in a brighter future while ignoring the inadequacies of the present is a pipe dream that cuts itself from its own realization…You can’t build a castle on top of ruins.
Turning the blind eye to the world or our own darkness is psychological repression; we must face the world in its entirety, with its highs and its lows. That doesn’t mean taking a pessimisitic or fatalistic outlook, since all the crap that’s going on is not built-into the nature of the world nor is it necessarily there by default. The world is not cruel or ‘evil’ in itself, or ‘good’ for that matter; there are no value judgments independent of the evaluator.  Any ‘problems’ that we may  encounter (besides natural catastrophies?) are a result of our own screw-ups, individually and collectively, so it’s up to us to remove the causes in our thinking and behaviour that lead to manifestations we do not like, and work towards a better future from the starting point of how things are at the present moment.
 If we do not identify the root causes of the problems we see in the world we can never solve them….Turning away from them won’t make them go away; untreated infection just spreads around even more…anaesthetics may numb the pain but they don’t cure the disease.
Perfection may be unattainable; because we can always push the goal post a little further ahead. But improvement is always possible, and necessary.
‘Utopia’ for me isn’t something unachievable, but it requires our collective cooperation for the greatest good of all. What a new years resolution, huh?
I’m optimistic when I think of what we’re capable of, but we shall see what plays out…
 

Thanks for your time!Miodrag Vujaković
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Evolution of ideas as living organisms

It certainly looks like concepts, words, theories etc. all evolve in a way that is analogous to the way living beings do. Ideas spread across the population in the same way genes spread over the gene pool. Fighting for our attention kinda like animals fight for food; and the battle is especially rough when there’s a shortage!
So, what increases a notion’s  rate of survival and reproduction? Utility? Common sensibility? Verifiability? Aesthetic appeal?
Richard Dawkins is the first to introduce the concept of a ‘meme‘ into the stream of collective consciousness; he sees them as cultural equivalents of genetic information being transferred from one host to another. Although I wouldn’t say memes are just ‘viruses’ inhabiting our minds, but in a meaningful sense our own creations, which in turn re-create us in a perpetual feedback loop.
Now, what makes some ideas stick around for millenia, while others are just passing sensations? Only genuine knowledge can survive the test of ages and continue to be recognized as true wisdom by one generation ofter another. If ideas are not rooted in reality they’re going to be blown away by the wind. The river of time erodes everything but pure gold.
The thinking population of today is no longer satisfied by half-baked and doubtful fillers for the holes in our knowledge. Demand has risen for epistemologically credible claims.
The mind has this built-in self-correcting mechanism, and when it’s freed from bias and lazy, pre-packaged notions, it will learn to sharpen itself either from within, or by reconsidering it’s position when subjected to outside reviews.
Our conceptions evolve alongside ourselves, and they must be constantly updated to adapt to the ever-changing scenery of life. Rigidity and clinging to long-held beliefs prevent the mind from being fluid and flowing freely towards a moving target – the truth of the world.

Thank you for reading!
Written by: Miodrag Vujaković

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Religion and atheism

The phenomenon of religion is, in one form or another, ubiquitous across human civilization. As such, it is deserving of our most careful attention. So, what constitutes a scholarly treatise of religion?
Your average believer is one thing, and a serious theologian and/or philosopher is another.
The ‘new atheists’ who, under a pretense of scientific rationality, dismiss religion altogether in a broad sweep are often as one-sided as the religious fundamentalists they’re attacking (I know ’cause I’ve been there). They throw the baby out with the bathwater by discarding the metaphysic that lies beneath all the rubble of inessential, exoteric elements of particular cultural religions – to distinguish between the two requires philosophical sensibilities.
The whole belief structure of ‘scientism’ – the view that mistakes science to be synonimous with materialism -.is as laughable as blindly following scripture or religious authorities. Truth lies where extremes meet, and where skepticism marries open-mindedness.

What I’ll briefly suggest here is this: the most sober way to look at this question is to take a comparative approach: what are the shared features of the many religions and on what points do they differ? Examining world religions with a hermeneutic attitude in mind, will allow us to discern genuine insight from the cover stories and cop-outs. This line of inquiry will, I suspect, get us closer to extracting the philosophia perennis  up from under the shroud of the numberless myths and legends.
It is my view that all authentic religious systems have a common basis in this fundamental reality; or a trans-cultural truth that found its various expressions through the most spiritually in-tuned people of all time. The entire corpus of humanity’s spiritual literature is thus a documentation of a relationship that countless many people throughout history have had with this transcendental dimension of existence which, although being fundamentally the same, was interpreted differently in different cultural contexts.

And so, the project continues…

Thanks for reading! I’d like to know what you think.
Authored by: Miodrag Vujaković
Artwork by: He Qi

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Language and God’s self-knowledge

My working definition of a mystic is: one who experiences more than he can verbalize. But isn’t it ,oh,  so exciting to try to explicate the unutterable as much as possible, even though some would instantly doom that attempt to failure. The beast called mind grabs to comperehend. It is unsatisfied by mere letting things be; it wants to bring things under its jurisdiction and wants to encompass the whole cosmos and measure it with its square. The thing is, we can linguisticaly refer to that which is beyond words – which isn’t the same as reaching it- and the mind can be used to understand its own limits. That to me is the only real chance of ever “silencing the mind”; namely to exhaust it so much that it stays within its boundaries and not try to do what is can never do – conceptually grasp the Infinite. The state of mental stillness does not exclude thoughts, they appear on the surface of consciousness, reflecting reality as clearly as the waters are tranquil.
Certainly, any terms that I utilize for the purpose of communicating my ideas can only have meaning for someone else if he/she can find within their own section of reality an experience equivalent to what I’m trying to convey. Language is to me a very peculiar function of the human mind, being as out-branched and sophisticated as it is in us, seemingly exceeding any and all biological considerations of an organism, but assisting with the social ones. Terrence Mckenna’s way of looking at nature as building new levels of complexity upon already established ones stuck with me; seeing nature as a self-developing and ‘novelty preserving’ mechanism really fits the bill. (He would give language an even more radical role though, but nevermind that now).  Nature certainly seems to display a quality of liking to bring-out-оf-itself ever fuller expressions of itself, thus demonstrating its inherently creative nature.
I wish not to underestimate our fellow creatures by judging them according to our standards, but I can’t help but notice the very special relationship we,humans, as contemplative beings have with ourselves and the world, which we now understand as not seperate from ourselves. It’s this infamous capacity of self-consciousness that we posses…Deity, thus, whatever it may be, is not undestood to be complete onto itself (otherwise there’d be no need for a universe), but it is on a quest, or a role playing game of sorts: disguising itself as the Other in order to make itself an object for it’s own thinking. Self-referentiality is the key word these days. In this scheme, man plays a crucial role in God’s own self-discovery, or as Ibn al’ Arabi puts it:
“God sleeps in the rock, dreams in the plant, stirs in the animal.. and awakens in man.”
This is very much in line with the hermetic way of thinking, which was one of the influences on Boehme, as is clear from his seven-fold conception of creation, related to the seven days of creation, but understood non-linearly, as principles coexisting simultaneously in eternity. (Ref: Jacob Boehme The Cross in the Heart of God by Don Godfroy pg. 3-15)
In short, God’s essense is seeking self-expression through the creating universe.
“YHWH: 10.5.6.5, Existence-Life-Copulation-Life, expresses in existence the two lives (that of the container or shell or physical support, and that of the contained germ or inner life) that fertilze each other. This double impregnation can only occur in Man and as long as it does not occur YHWH is immanent but unborn.”
Suares, The Cipher of Genesis
Thus YHWH becoming YHShWH is akin to going from pure potentionality (kabbalistically speaking Ain Soph) to actuality, so that divinity is manifested in physical existence, and God’s inmost desire for self-knowledge is fulfilled in the life of a human being.
“I and the Father are one.” John 10:30

Thanks for reading! Author: Miodrag V.

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