in the following excerpts, adam is in red, Peter in normal text:
I appreciate you taking what little active-time and energy you have at your disposal to respond to my thoughts.
No need to thank me. I find our mutual engagement very motivating and hope-inspiring. But I hope it doesn’t take too much time away from your own book projects.
I hope you know that whatever happens to your name and the work that it signifies, your accomplishments will live on.
I certainly do know, and am aware that my work is constantly unfolding also in other dimensions and probabilities – so in that sense anything not accomplished in this one is certainly not going to bother me when I take my leave of it.
I think you and I are coming from very similar soul/consciousness-threads and having both been so influenced by Seth, I know you know that nothing is really “lost”. Of course. And the interweave of those soul threads on many different levels is what it’s all about, and something I look forward to continuing to engage in without need of words, even on a conceptual level, in the afterlife.
The “Sethian” distinction you were using between the inner and outer event concerning Castaneda is oh so central to the question of what really matters in the end, and hence all ethical questions. I made it the central motif in my essay “It Could Have Been Otherwise”, starting with a quote from Seth on the distinction you are referring to. It is central to Deleuze’s philosophy too, which often goes under the name “the event”, like here: “When time passes and takes the instant away, there is always a meanwhile to restore the event.”
Interesting that Heidegger and Deleuze should have arrived at the same central singular signifier – “the event” / “Ereignis”. Though in the context of Castaneda I was thinking, of course, more of all the extraordinary events he restored to awareness, like forgotten dreams, in the meantimes.
The master attracts “students” which are usually the people least likely to attain the level of individuation of the master … It is the same with psychotherapy. People that are attracted to a therapist usually are still trying to overcome their oedipal issues.
Agree wholeheartedly. Expresses my experience of teaching in a nutshell. But it took some time for me to ‘get’ that the metaphysical teaching and experiencing was not what my students were coming for. Certainly not the men. The women were generally more aware of the issues they came with and more appreciative of the healing value of the work I did with them. A couple of them also wrote quite detailed experiential accounts of it which are an invaluable legacy, irreplaceable by my own writing.
Deleuze and Guatarri’s Marxian critique of Freud and Lacan was that they universalize this paternal arrangement of the psyche which is more of a by-product of capitalist alienation than a universal psychic structure. The therapist often plays into the insular arrangement of transference, merely socializing them into the symbolic order of the big other rather than helping the dependent person individuate. Spiritual teachers tend to be much worse, especially with the guru tradition.
Absolutely. My work here in Prague was basically to subvert and free a whole host of people, including some highly vulnerable ones, from the authoritarian structures, theory and practices of a large homegrown group guru cult here and an enable them begin to live their own individual lives, one in which ‘meditation’ meant aware living and relating and not spending hours each day, twice a day dissociating from their bodies, lives – and their own bodily knowing.
Castaneda’s disciples killed themselves after he left. Ouspensky went from being a confident theosophist to a conflicted and traumatized disciple after his relationship with Gurdjieff. Maybe the guru tradition worked before everyone was so fucked up by capitalism but in modern times there is no guru that has left any disciples remotely approaching their own level.
True. I adopted the ‘Acharya’ mantle in my books on The New Yoga partly as a teacher-training exercise in the Sethian sense of teaching as an inner vocation – in this case learning the symbolism and attracting those with leanings toward a particular counter-cultural sub-culture in order to both deconstruct the nonsense that passes today as advaita, yoga and tantra, but show them the power of the ‘real thing’ in an authentically new way – not as an elevated guru but as a human being capable of relating to and deeply ‘seeing’ my students as individuals. A very new experience for them. I never did anything but one to one work for this reason.
It isn’t the disciples that carry on the work of a great soul, even though there are many good masters who have helped many poor souls in modern times. It is other strong souls that carry on the master’s legacy.
Absolutely agree again. Though it is nice to continue to regularly receive messages of gratitude from many a poor or messed up soul I haven’t even met but who has come across my work.
Steiner may have been poisoned by the nazis, but he also may have just died so young from being overworked. He supposedly could never say no to people coming to see him (he had a bit of martyr-complex after his Christian conversion).
My problem too. I was just a guy who couldn’t say no to people wanting to see me. Needed my illness to get me to the point where all I could say was no!
Aurobindo went the other direction and refused to see anyone, confining his contact to letters. But I have read several thousand pages of his letters to his disciples and I can tell he was getting tired of it. He had his partner Mirra, herself worshipped as a guru by their students, taking care of the students in person but he complained of being turned into a “letter-writing machine”.
Yup. Know that one too. I have probably written more in exhaustive and painstakingly meticulous and impeccable correspondence than in all my essays and books until it too, became too much – or rather I needed to be far more selective. On the other hand, there was always something a lot more satisfying and fulfilling in writing to a specific other than an anonymous readership.
I agree Steiner was way too literalistic and scientistic in the presentation of his ideas. It was a common mistake of the time period, as I mentioned. Semiotics I like as a signifier when dealing with interpretation because I do believe it has been well thought out logically as an alternative to representational and set theoretic logic if you see it as a form of category theory. Here is Gangle’s book on the philosophical implications: http://s3.amazonaws.com/arena-attachments/1627933/82e41f2941e54ddfe32ca3e0c6247dd9.pdf And though semiotics has a bit of a representational sound to it, hence the recent trend in Theory towards affect and continuity, I think we need room for both, as Alexander Galloway defends here: https://youtu.be/eq4CDLNAvXU
Looking at the vid. I’m afraid I must admit to being allergic if not totally phobic towards academic head thinkers and speakers such as Galloway, whom I feel are so devoid of any embodied presence or any personal and trans-personal experiential contextualisation of what they talk about. Their academic intellectualism and name-dropping make me cringe as much as the self-invented lineages of the spiritual gurus. One learns to ‘spot the difference’ between someone for whom concepts are just concepts, and someone who embodies a feeling bodily, feeling experience of and relation to them in their thinking. One need only take one look at their bodies and faces, and listen to the tone of their voice and language as they speak to do so.
As Feyerabend said, “there is no idea, no matter how ancient or absurd that cannot add to our knowledge”. Some of course more than others, but it greatly depends on the context.
And on the embodied depth of soul and character of the individual imparting the idea, i.e. authentic maturity in an immature age or culture. But yes, otherwise, I fully agree.
Indeed topology and projective geometry are important in this regard for they concern the generation of space and our experience of space. Deleuze’s integration of idealism and realism, the continuous and the discrete, empiricism and transcendental philosophy, he sometimes calls “transcendental empiricism” because he is trying to complete Kant’s attempt to explain the generation of experience, and following Bergson, the genesis of space and time. Steiner also recognized the power of projective geometry in this regard, though since that time, topology has extended projective geometry’s still somewhat phenomenological framing. You indeed can get many of the basics with your phenomenological approach without delving into the admittedly complex subjects of group theory, topology and complexity theory itself. But when done right, these things do indeed scale down to intuitive “felt meaning” as I tried to do initially with my essay on gravity but more fully with “It Could Have Been Otherwise”, where I explain some of these things with the help of popular sci-fi shows without going into any “hyper-complex” subjects…
The meaning of far too many terms such as ‘idealism’, ’empiricism’ and ‘thinking’ per se are presupposed or taken as given and only in need of (representational) labelling for me for me to respond here. So let me just comment on a single phrase you use: “our experience of space”.
Your use of the phrase halted me in my tracks. It made me think back to the lesson in my Manual of The New Yoga entitled ‘The New Yoga of Space’, on how different the ordinary visual perception of space is to experiencing it with one entire felt bodily surface – itself a more or less open and porous field boundary of inner and outer spaces of awareness that constitute what Deleuze calls our Body without Organs – not as a body we are aware of ‘in’ space, but as a body of spacious awareness – distinct but inseparable from everything experienced within it.
It made me think also of the countless hours spent developing methods for and teaching students just how to fully experience the space within and around them for the first time in their lives – to experience, for example, the interiority of their head, chest and hara as regions of a singular hollow space of awareness, with the ‘tanden’ (tantien) as a ‘centre at infinity’ within the lower abdomen or hara – and their true ‘centre of gravity’.
I taught them how differently they could feel themselves and relate to others from the different spatial regions and centres constituting their ‘Head, Heart and Hara’ spaces respectively – and how they could freely shift their ‘assemblage point’ between the topoi constituted by these regions or centres of awareness or ‘positions’ of the assemblage point.
I thought also of how the second of two simple question I invariably used to ask my students right at the start of any teaching was: where, on a spatial line extending from the top of their head to the soles of their feet they felt that both their awareness and their sense of self to be centred? I also taught them also to balance and ground the spatiality of their upper body awareness with greater lower body awareness and then also centre it in hara.
I have changed a number of people’s lives in an hour by simply teaching them to experiencing the bleak soul emptiness or abyss of depression they otherwise felt or feared within themselves as hara, as feel it as a warm, dark womb of knowing awareness, power and intensity.
I regularly taught my students to both observe and tangibly sense me alternating between being entirely being nothing but a finite body bounded by my skin to being nothing but the trans-finite ‘all-round’ (not just background’) space around that silhouette-type foreground ‘figure’;
I showed them how the tiniest ‘mudra’ – gesture or change in their posture and/or facial expression – could, if held, alter their entire bodily sense of self and relation to space – and that of others too if they are open to it. I used imperceptible mudra myself to draw threads of awareness out of them even while sitting apart again in armchairs in the altered ‘space of consciousness’ that always lingered and filled the room after the very close up eye-contact and pair meditation seated on stools. In this way I enjoyed a soul body dance in space with them.
In an important way I taught them also for the first time to experience the reality that, as both Heidegger and Steiner agreed, we do not end at the boundaries of the flesh, but extend to to the horizon of our spatial awareness – and to experience a particular spatial meaning of the ‘da’ of da-sein, i.e. to experience ourselves as both ‘here’ (da) and ‘there’ (also da), for example ‘there’ at the door of a room before we set foot to ‘move’ toward it, and ‘there’ the surface of any the walls around us in that room or that anything present the space they bound – able to sense their very texture with our feeling awareness.
To be able to enter and experience the spatial bodily soul-inwardness of any other person or thing is a great and wonderful capacity that I feel privileged to have been able to exercise.
Also the art by which we can not just experience the sensed spatiality of our awareness expanding or contracting, but creatively and deftly sculpt the ‘topology’ of space qua awareness. I learned also how we can experience in a more intense way the innate spatiality of music. Also how we can experience the raying in of an invisible light of awareness from a ‘circumference at infinity’. And how the tanden leads into a region of non-extensional or ‘intensional’ space within which all extensional space-time universes open up and expand.
I learned how we can use silently voiced and mouthed vowel and consonant sounds to shift our assemblage point and experience a change in the entire spatial quality configuration of our awareness, as in the passage from a spatially and luminously expansive radiant Aaah, to a warm, containing, fluid and womb like Mmm, or a deep and extended Eeeeh.
Then again, I think of an entire course of psychotherapy I gave a particular client, unique because it was oriented from beginning to end on his inter-subjective, inter-personal and inter-bodily varying “experience of space” in different places – like feeling small in the space of his parental home when he visited, feeling distant to his partner when close to her at home etc.
I recalled the early journeys into space I took in repeated lucid dreams in which I levitated and always flew towards a single star in the night sky. And the sense of electric charge pervading the space around my bed in those conscious states of ‘sleep paralysis’ that indicated to me I could levitate ‘out of body’ – an experience of Brownian ‘electro-gravitics’ as it were.
NB In this context I recall also that Seth indicated that some UFOs were our perception of beings from other reality systems in so-called ‘Out-Of-Body’ states.
In the most literal sense, the body can be experienced as a shape-shifting ‘space-suit’ of the soul.
I could go on and on recapitulating such experiences of space – describing, for example how together with a special individual I knew used to know here, we lit up the space around us with an extraordinary luminosity, an experience of luminous space often observed when people die, but also evident in the tangible luminosity of a radiant look in someone’s face and eyes.
NB Head, Heart and Hara – my first published book, with its chapter on ‘Coordinate Points of the Inner Cosmos’ is, as the chapter concedes at the end in itself, a topology of a deepened experience of space.
So I am not certainly not averse, Adam, to talk or exploration of Topology. Indeed one of the chapters on The Qualia Revolution is actually entitled ‘The Topology of Qualitative Space’.
Also, I just want to say that info on Castaneda was very cool. I knew about his links with Heidegger, which is why I mentioned hermeneutics, and had formed almost the exact same perspective as you did through your psychic experiment. The “event” is so important a concept and these pseudo-Marxists like Badieu don’t understand it at all. Seth nailed it so well without all the fancy language of these French intellectuals. I suppose I just want to help bridge the esoteric scene and the intellectuals so bad because I think the future of the planet is at stake, which requires more than just critiquing science from within a spiritual perspective, but necessitates as Steiner put it, a “spiritualization of the intellect” and of science itself. To that end I am doing my best to make coherent sense out of not just the future of science but the future of religion, which is going on right now in esoteric UFOlogy.
A very important statement here, and some very important questions within it:
What exactly is lacking in the dominant, purely intellectual and disembodied mode of thinking that dominates the sciences and academia, including academic philosophy and alternative science, today? That it has completely lost its roots and ground in lived, bodily feeling and sensory awareness and experiencing. Except in the most excellent, ‘Focusing’ oriented phenomenology of Eugene Gendlin, with its fundamental emphasis and simple exercises in resonating back and forth between our felt, bodily sense of meaning or ‘sense’ on the one hand, and its formed expression in images, words and verbal concepts on the other (rather than passing from one concept to another). If you haven’t read it I thoroughly recommend Gendlin’s little book on Focusing, in which far simpler and more basic ways of using body awareness to contact the body’s own knowing (like just placing a hand on your chest, belly or abdomen) are introduced to the general reader by a very erudite phenomenologist. Yet our innate bodily knowing still plays no role in all those academic bodies of knowledge that pass themselves off as products of ‘thinking’ or ‘science’. Instead the intellect has lost in way in disembodied intellectual abstractions and needs to ‘come to its senses’ and return to its roots in bodily, knowing awareness.
Herein lies the true meaning but also the hidden danger, though I understand what you mean, of speaking of a “spiritualisation of the intellect” – particularly coming from those who, like Steiner himself, still clung, at least in principle, to the outworn notion that that the spiritual world is a “supra-sensuous” realm rather than a hypersensuous one (as William James vividly affirms from his experience of the afterlife as recounted by Jane Roberts). And what indeed is ‘spirit’ qua the universal awareness – except that which not only individuates and worlds itself, but also that which also bodies, senses, intuits and feels – and does so within, through and as us, and through and as all beings and all things?
“Philosophy begins with a mood” (Heidegger), i.e. a grounding attunement. All the more important then, not to mimic the colourless and almost clinically moodless tonality of ‘academic’ and ‘scientific’ writing, theorising, debating and speaking. Instead, as Speakers, we each need to find our own voice and forge our own language, one that if, as Einstein said of Relativity, but applies to so many abstract philosophical terms in the languages and vocabularies of philosophical,, if we cannot explain, exemplify or offer an experience of them that ‘makes sense’ to a plumber or checkout worker, count for nothing.
Yet we ourselves are still and will remain underway towards or ‘On the Way to Language’ – across many a Country Path, field and dirt track or ‘Feldweg’ – and through many a ‘Conversation on a Country Path’ (Heidegger’s supreme trialogue). Above all we need to be driven not just by high ideals but by an intent to really speak to other people as real life individuals through our language and not just ‘about’ this or that general concept.
The danger that faces us now is the electronic virtualisation of the sensuous, and a resulting desensualisation of the human soul, bodyhood and culture – precisely through the gross, crude and cultureless sensory bombardment of commodity marketing. When even a monumental unity of musical sensuality and meaning or sense such as a Beethoven symphony is violently interrupted by gross and loud marketing ads we know already where the world has come to. I am not sure that religion or science have a future. Science has set its course on serving as the handmaiden of technology and technocracy to produce its own fictional facts, and despite Tesla’s urgings, denies that it needs a new foundation in metaphysics and the trans-physical. Esoteric Ufology does certainly constitute a most interesting convergence of ‘alternative’ science and religion, and is something I used to be strongly ‘into’ myself and returned to in Event Horizon, but I see this largely as a symbolic convergence, a placeholder for what I call ‘soul-scientific’ research. That said, the single ‘soul-scientific research paper’ I mentioned had also to do with the VRIL Society in pre-war Germany, and the success of its mediums in channelling and recreating UFO technologies stemming from another reality system and species of consciousness. On the other hand,the very idea of ‘space travel’ as it is understood, whether through conventional or alternative technologies, not only contains much that is unthought but is, as Seth himself suggests essentially meaningless. If man succeeds in it he will only discover that space itself is something quite different from what he thought it was. ‘Outer space’ simply doesn’t exist in the way we think it does, whereas ‘space travel’, as a motion of awareness within awareness, is what we do all the time in daily life.
NB Re. “Philosophy begins with a mood.” Steiner himself admitted in one of his first talks that without the cultural mood of his time having already been influenced by what can only be described as the hypersensuous music of Richard Wagner (so deeply and hypnotically sensuous that some of the bourgeoisie fainted during the first performances of the Ring Cycle) Anthroposophy would have had no soil to plant its own seeds in human souls and to set its own fundamental tone And it is the tonality or fundamental mood of Steiner’s language and discourse which, like that of Heidegger, marked it out as something special, independently of anything he used it to merely posit as a concept or assert as a true proposition. For as we know, truth or reality as such is not the property of propositions made about it, whose role is to serve as a vehicle to truly say something – which demands individuals with something authentic to say and not merely to argue or state, elaborate or debate.
A word for the wise: search for the deepest knowing in yourself and the deepest message you feel you wish to impart to others from it and through your writing – what you most truly want to say to others through it. Do not limit yourself to just discoursing on that which your writing and that of others, not least that of the academics and scientists, well known or not, and however original or ‘interesting’, is ‘about’. I myself do not think that academic philosophy and scientising discourse can be redeemed in our time. Heidegger tried and failed as Rektor, and cultural life in his time was a lot richer and deeper than in our own – even in the realm of the sciences as Harrington’s book shows. My own watchword from Samuel Beckett: “Fail again. Fail better”. In other words to learn profound lessons and gain profound insights from the experience of never fully ‘succeeding’ in doing justice to all that remains both thought worthy and still unthought in thinking. Yet as you say, Seth had it ‘nailed’ more than the fancy French and other academic intellectuals, valid though their work is in its own terms, and one whose vocabularies can become sources to mine in forging our own languages and vocabularies, finding our own truest voice in the din – and impeccably reserving, preserving and guarding it for the few who have ears to hear and heed it. This is where Heidegger comes into the picture again, as something who foresaw thinking as something that, if it survives at all, will only do so in small pockets or ‘cells’ of individuals like those around you, i.e. in small groups of “Speakers” in the Sethian sense.
So I leave some last words to Heidegger … though it seems like you may have read them all already on my heidegger site!!!
How…to preserve a tradition that may have to survive underground for a long time?
What we call feeling or mood…is more reasonable – that is, more intelligently perceptive – because more open to Being, than all reason…which was misinterpreted as being rational.
…it seems necessary to characterise our entirely different method as specifically engaging in our relationship to what we encounter … In a sense, what is characteristic of phenomenology is the will not to resist this engaging-oneself. The relation that constitutes knowing is one in which we ourselves are related and in which this relation vibrates through our basic comportment.
Being-here as an existing human being is always one and the same as being-there with you.
Modern man must first and above all find his way back into the full breadth of the space proper to his essence. That essential space of man’s essential being receives the dimension that unites it to something beyond itself … Unless man first establishes himself beforehand in the space proper to his essence and there takes up his dwelling, he will not be capable of anything essential within the destining now holding sway.
Hello Peter, I hope the transit and solstice is treating you well. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and for your interest in me. I might have to write down my own story some day, but I am hoping the best parts are yet to come! I will sketch a quick version tailored to your questions; it has indeed been a rough ride so far, but I have, since childhood, had a deep feeling that I was destined for greatness and that the first half of my life would be preparation. This gave me an arrogance in my youth which led to some difficult lessons especially in my adolescence. Even well into my adulthood, I used to attract conflict.
I remember one run in with a schizophrenic that I was politely ushering out of the store I work in (this was perhaps a decade ago). I had never met him before but a bit of my confrontational confidence was coming through as I was trying to manage his behavior which had become disruptive to the store. I have always appreciated schizophrenics, and in my youth used to seek them out for conversation and their sometimes oracular advice. With this man however, I was just trying to quiet down his crazy, and once we were out of the store he looks deep into my eyes and says “you know, just because you have a great cosmic destiny, doesn’t mean you have to be an asshole”. I smiled with pleasure, never having been pegged so well, and in a way that exposed the source of my over-confidence. But I admit I still have a pretty unwavering belief in myself. I have never really felt lost. Though I have often been indecisive, I have always had a strong sense of knowing who I am an what I am here to do. I have read voraciously, but never out of an impulse of uncertainty. Just always wanting to understand what I already know in my heart.
Of course I have also had intense anxiety most of my life that has only recently been giving way to bliss. I love my parents but they were young and lost when they had me and there was a lot of violence. My ego may have been full of courage and confidence but it was very vulnerable, so by the time I started experimenting with drugs, a background trauma and anxiety led to some bad decisions. Nothing really bad has ever happened to me. I have a warrior’s spirit and a deep survival instinct. I never even had bad trips when experimenting with drugs. I read Castaneda passionately in high school and college, which helped me create my own little tribe of warriors, and got way too into LSD. I was desperately trying to fry out my weak and fragile ego and connect more securely with my strong spirit.
There were times when I would live for days in another world with my friends and their higher selves before my ego would come back with (what seemed) an entirely different personality, not only from my enhanced self but also my previous ego. It wasn’t until I read Seth in my early twenties shortly after sobering up that I realized what had happened (Seth discusses the damage that can happen from LSD in the second Seth book). I later got a more biological understanding of the voltage problems that started to plague me then, when I later started studying biophysics in my thirties.
In any case, after finishing my anthropology degree at the University of Illinois and then wandering around Central America and the pyramids there for months, I had a breakthrough. I was reading Rumi and begging God to help me find the will to overcome myself in this lifetime. I wanted to find discipline but had such a wander lust that I couldn’t break until one day in the wee hours of the morning, I found myself lording over a group of poor people in a very poor town in Guatemala after a night of drinking and drugs. I was in some rundown hotel that rocked up the coke for you, smoking it with this small group of lost souls; I was eagerly trying to help them while we got high and suddenly realized the absurdity of playing the party-shaman in some New Age tragedy. I realized my self- centeredness, my need to “help”, so I asked them what they really wanted. I gave the coke to the woman so she would fuck one of the guys because that is what they wanted. Another young man followed me around still unsure whether he would take my offer to buy him a hooker like he wanted and take my leave of him, or continue to drink and philosophize with me–take my money or friendship. (I was reeling with confusion from the power a few dollars has in the third world). After a couple day bender I made the plea to God, and answer to which came soon after as my health started making any normal life impossible.
As my traveling ended, I decided to go home and stay with my parents and youngest brother for a while. My health was getting worse and the necessity for discipline was becoming strong enough that I lost any desire for the old pleasures. At 23 I started seriously meditating as I found Aurobindo’s work, which I devoured insatiably. I had been into Taoism all through my college years, but never found the actual practices my style. To this day, I have a bit of an allergy to any scripted practice. I remember doing Mantak Chia’s “big draw” method while in bed with a french woman in Mexico and feeling quite silly when I tried to explain why I was rapidly clenching my buttocks. It took me until being almost 40 before I actually could do it correctly and naturally without it being some awkward gimmick. But the principles of Taoism were very influential on me, especially the I Ching, which I started consulting and studying as a young man and have never stopped. The alchemical principles of the taoist tradition stayed rather metaphoric to me, informing my health advice, but not much of my own practice, until my youngest brother moved out to oregon where I had been living since I was 24. My other brother and I had tried giving him some external alchemical substances to convince our parents to get him off the shitty ADD meds they were poisoning him with. I had already found some of the gold substances were perhaps too strong on the pineal, but there was some promise for ADD so I agreed it had to be better than the synthetic meth they were giving him.
But of course it just exacerbated his instability, leading him to seizures and spirit possession, and they still gave him the meds anyway. By the time he was a young man I convinced him to come stay with me and luckily he found a great master out here in Oregon, who really turned things around for him. I had got him into Taoism and Kung Fu when he was young but it took a while to get him off the New Age occultism route. Even when he realized his errors, having been on drugs so long made it hard for him to quite smoking pot.
I on the other hand never had much of an addictive personality. It was hard for me to quit partying, but that was because I had little interest in normal social contact, so leaving drugs was also leaving behind my interest in people, and my friends at the time. My friends all used drugs because we felt that draw to a higher group functioning. But they were never going to quit drugs, so I had to leave them behind–which the leader of our little tribe could never do (he is the one that dies of heroin as many of my friends now have, of that drug or another). One of my favorite scenes from Castaneda is when he must die to the world in that hotel room (which I perhaps was trying to recreate in my own little drama). I have died in many ways, not only struggling to let go of that need for people, but its opposite. As Carlos says, it is about it not mattering whether you are alone or with people. Which for me always had two sides. The need to be alone and the need to be with someone.
It has been a long road to true independence, to being unbothered by the presence or absence of people. I have always been so sensitive to people that in normal consciousness, I could barely stand it without gut wrenching anxiety. (For a while I would hang out with people that were on LSD, because it had always been as much about them being on a higher level as it was me. I think your writings on dealing with people on a “lower” level of consciousness is some of your most unique work). I think that distaste for normal life is why I have tended to just have a lover and ever since I sobered up in my youth, confined most of my socializing to a very social work environment where I can counsel people and talk with my friends while I am getting paid, and then go home and not be bothered with people.
I have tried to never let the anxiety control me, or make an issue of my struggles; I always just let it happen and make it part of my karma yoga, but such a frequent tension took a toll on my health, often needing hours of mediation before I could sleep. The many health issues that resulted made what was a boring subject to me in my twenties a pressing issue and the center of my daily life and work as I shifted to health and wellness counseling around my Saturn return(age29).
My attitude towards people has been changing though as I really let go any personal desire/fear of them; I have found intellectuals that help my higher goals. I have been working with one very broadly educated friend here who is finishing his PHD in Modernist poetry and has been contributing some astrology articles to my website. Our conversations have developed in me a kind of semiotic understanding of astrology that I think makes much more sense than the usual archetypal Jungian mode that dominates the New Age. And with the pandemic things are changing even more, and with it my attitude towards socializing, as more of a need for community forms around these divisive issues that have split our larger community and make socialization more of a subversive act than in the previous consumer-capitalist mode we are moving out of.
I am also finding that my rather solitary practice of Integral Yoga is not one many can follow and that most people need some kind of ritual or practice. My day job in the health and supplement industry and my taoist arts practice has converged on a deeper understanding of alchemy, both external and internal. I find doing internal martial arts a helpful practice, especially partner exercises like push hands. The Chinese have a much more sophisticated understanding of the etheric and physical body than most of what the New Age, “yoga” and “tantra” have to offer. I am still a more psychologically orientated person so I find the Indian tradition more suited to me, but the Chinese are very helpful and more nuanced when it comes to the body, at least if you can find the right people.
The master here in Oregon was a godsend for my brother. A very humble enlightened master, who though he is far superior to any martial artist in town, prefers to just do his acupuncture clinic. My brother left town a year ago anyway and he is already so advanced in taoist arts and always learning more nuances about the structure and dynamics of the body from taoist masters that talking with him and sparring with him when I see him is enough for me. I do really like this guy on the internet though if you are interested. He can be very funny, especially when he critiques the New Age, though in this video he gives a good technical overview of some of the key principles of internal alchemy: https://youtu.be/ZuA484T1CHM
But much of my life has been lived in relationship with women and in the internal space of reading, thinking, and feeling beyond myself. I hope to more fully be able to say when I die, as Aurobindo said before his own death, that his life “has not been lived on the surface for men to see”. Which can be said in some sense of all of us, but more so for mystic recluses like him (though he did have an eventful life on the surface, despite his reclusiveness). Aurobindo has had the biggest effect on my spiritual practice because he starts with that connection with the Divine which I have always felt. As a child in catholic school I was told that God had no beginning and no end, and that very thought delivered to me a deep feeling and picture of infinity.
All practices and active intention seemed small and distracting, since what I need most is to just be receptive to what I know is always speaking to me (even if I sometimes want the I Ching to put it into words for me). I do like Steiner’s practices that help spur feeling and imagination, but I pretty much do what he advises automatically. My whole being is driven by a passion for occult science. Aurobindo does not emphasize imagination and thought in principle as Steiner does, but I think they are both expressing versions of the same “higher path” of “integral” transformation, as I put it in this brief note I made for questions on the path:http://www.creativecoherence.org/on-meditation-and-choosing-a-practice/
Women are a whole ‘nother story. Suffice it so say, my mother was very controlling and I have had some difficult relationships when I was in my 20’s as I worked that out. I had a nice partner for 5 years in my 30s, and some interesting shorter relationships testing my heart, but never had the the right person on every level until my friend Megan and I started a relationship a year or so ago. The tantric aspect of relationships has always been more of a goal for me until her. Finally the alchemy is clicking into place and my health problems are resolving. I could write a nice alchemical story of my relationships, with the elements dominant in each woman and the needs they met. But as I fuse the elements in my own body, I can finally enjoy my partner without needing that energy or suffering without it (but it can certainly be even more powerful as it transcends the alchemy of individuals). I will now try to answer some of your questions and responses from your last letter:
“Interesting that Heidegger and Deleuze should have arrived at the same central singular signifier – “the event” / “Ereignis”. Though in the context of Castaneda I was thinking, of course, more of all the extraordinary events he restored to awareness, like forgotten dreams, in the meantimes. “
Deleuze and Heidegger share a lot. Though Deleuze does not talk about him much, I think he was trying to do many similar things as him. I think he wanted to take a different path than what the rest of continental philosophy was doing at the time, so though he read him and has many analogous concepts, they are framed differently with a different purpose. “The event” has many meanings but I think Deleuze gets at what Castaneda is doing, and what you and Seth are referring to and which I explore in the essays mentioned.
“Perhaps you could elaborate a bit more on death and legacy as a life theme for you. As for your and my writings, for our conversation to fulfil its potential I think we need to do more than casually read each other’s writings. What is thought-worthy calls for patient and in-depth study.”
I have actually read many of your books quite closely, though it was quite a while ago. I have read the books you have published in recent years more selectively, but always checked them out to see if there was anything new to me and have meant to read some of what looked like interesting variations on your themes. Looking at your amazon page, I read at least 10 of them very closely and four more selectively. I am sure I have missed things, and there is always more to learn, but death and time is always a consideration. However, corresponding with a thinker with your depth and thoughtfulness is always worth the time. I appreciate the opportunity.
But yes, I am a bit obsessed with time, as you are with space. This may be a source of difference between us(see below). I am always thinking about the ends of things. This makes staying grounded and at ease difficult. That anxiety has been both a blessings and curse. I have had to work at connecting to the lower centers, but “working from above” as Aurobindo calls it, has its advantages. Though I do try to work from below as well these days, if only to keep things moving and churning with tai chi and kung fu (sexual and martial).
One thing that interests me is priorities in different mystical traditions and how that effects the trajectories of practice. Taoists value longevity very highly and have the least emphasis on thought. The most intellectual of mystics seem to die younger. As Steiner pointed out, thought is inherently disruptive to the body. It seems like the enhanced energy flow of meditation exacerbates or speeds up karmic issues. I know it did for me. I am glad, actually grateful, it did so when I was young. The extreme tension slowed me down and made me focus much more on the etheric and physical than I would have otherwise.
But even in the higher ranges of occult mind beyond anything intellectual, the cognitive threads of occultism converge with more collective karmic issues. When it comes down to it, the mind is the other, not the self. It is that connection to the worldly drama that pulls us into the mind, so it is best to make sure that connection is a service not an attachment. But how much time to spend in the mind? How helpful is it to the world to work on the collective struggle even without any attachment? Steiner and Aurobindo were taking on collective karma, which definitely takes a toll on the body. The RA material talks about the balance between wisdom and compassion that can take different forms, with certain “higher-density” beings following one or the other more or less exclusively with interesting consequences. Too little compassion and you end up isolated, too much, you end up a martyr.
Thank you for sharing more of your experiences with meditative space and experiential topology. These kinds of ideas had a big influence on me when I first read them in “The Qualia Revolution” and “Head, Heart, and Hara”, but my favorite book of yours is “Therapist as Listener”; they all helped me connect different threads of my own study and development, with a language I could use in counseling people. Chinese internal arts and martial arts gets deep into some of this territory but it doesn’t connect it well with the psychological. And I find western people have a hard time connecting to the lower centers without some engagement with their conscious mind. The chinese just expect people to be able to get into their feeling-body, but this psychological process of emptying out is an important precursor for the hyper-focused modern mind. As Dammo Mitchell(the taoist with the youtube great channel) points out, you cannot place the mind on the tan tien, it must sink into it.
There is definitely a connection between the visual-mental experience of space and what D&G call “segmented space”, as well as one between the full-body feeling-sense and what they call “smooth space” or the misleadingly named “body without organs”, as you mentioned. But I have thought about this polarity in some form or another my whole life, ever since I read Nietzsche’s “Birth of Tragedy” as a teenager and relished the richness of the Dionysian/Apollonian split. And as I argue in the book prologue linked above, integrating these two sides is very important but must be done in the musical way that Steiner describes in the quote towards the end of my essay.
D&G are careful not too make a value hierarchy out of these poles as well. They end “ATP” with the line: “Never assume a smooth space will suffice to save us”. Deleuze’s thinking is about helping us make our striations of space conscious, not negating them completely. A runaway deterritorialization he associates with suicide, with cancer, and fascism. Nietzche had some similar concerns with tendencies in Wagner. I was just discussing with John David Ebert some videos he just made concerning Steiner and his critique of Spengler, which has a similar theme. He reads Steiner as deconstructing Spengler’s favoring of dasein over wachsein. My last essay took a similar tactic critiquing Spengler.
A mentor of mine Gregory Desilet, wrote a Derridean critique of Heidegger along similar lines in his book “Cult of the Kill” which had a big influence on me as well. Spengler’s dasein isn’t the same as Heidegger’s, and the Derridean critique of Heidegger is not without its own problems, but there is a recurring theme of the romantic intellectual romanticizing the sensual, the spatial, the background, over its other by which it attains its own distinction. One is tempted to see this as a problem restricted to Romanticism or German intellectuals, but I see it everywhere, especially in the New Age, and in New Age Americans it takes a particular unhealthy form when they read Krishnamurti and think all thinking, all striations of space is bad.
Deleuze reads fascism as the opposite of totalitarianism, or like the paranoid schizophrenic, as deterritorialization gone wrong, as a molecular movement breaking from the collective and affirming the line of flight into smooth space only to be caught up in a new molar(collective) territorialization from below. He points out how common this is with gurus and cults, which he describes as resonating black holes. I know one tantric guru that my buddy hangs with that codes his whole worldview and workshops with the image of the “black hole”.I discussed this in a brief blogpost a while back that touches on many of our themes here:http://www.creativecoherence.org/2019/04/18/the-black-hole-of-tradition/
“What exactly is lacking in the dominant, purely intellectual and disembodied mode of thinking that dominates the sciences and academia, including academic philosophy and alternative science, today? That it has completely lost its roots and ground in lived, bodily feeling and sensory awareness and experiencing”.
I would say it has lost awareness of its ground: its ability to think with its ground in reciprocal determination.
“Herein lies the true meaning but also the hidden danger, though I understand what you mean, of speaking of a “spiritualisation of the intellect” – particularly coming from those who, like Steiner himself, still clung, at least in principle, to the outworn notion that that the spiritual world is a “supra-sensuous” realm rather than a hypersensuous one “
One can call it a kind of sensual awareness, but that distinction may cover-over the important difference being alluded to. Steiner was not implying it is beyond any kind of sense, but he is emphasizing the important transformation from external to internal sense. This isn’t a negation of normal sense. Steiner and Aurobindo both emphasize the transformation of sense and the body but the spiritualization process depends on the ascending current that suspends the onslaught of sensory input from the material sensual world. The higher path is to come back down and spiritualize the senses of course. Aurobindo’s yoga emphasizes the psychic transformation process before the spiritualization process. Finding the ground in the psychic being makes the spiritualization process less likely to succumb to the allures of staying in the higher realms. What he calls the psychic being is what feels the feeling tones of awareness, the grounding mood or attunement, as both you and Aurobindo might say, of our innermost being.
“Philosophy begins with a mood” (Heidegger), i.e. a grounding attunement. All the more important then, not to mimic the colourless and almost clinically moodless tonality of ‘academic’ and ‘scientific’ writing, theorising, debating and speaking. Instead, as Speakers, we each need to find our own voice and forge our own language, one that if, as Einstein said of Relativity, but applies to so many abstract philosophical terms in the languages and vocabularies of philosophical,, if we cannot explain, exemplify or offer an experience of them that ‘makes sense’ to a plumber or checkout worker, count for nothing. “
This is what I do. Though I recognize the value of other writing that is not necessarily my mood or style. I think it is my job to help make it make sense and connect with everything else, even if I have to violently transform it with critique.
“Esoteric Ufology does certainly constitute a most interesting convergence of ‘alternative’ science and religion, and is something I used to be strongly ‘into’ myself and returned to in Event Horizon, but I see this largely as a symbolic convergence, a placeholder for what I call ‘soul-scientific’ research. That said, the single ‘soul-scientific research paper’ I mentioned had also to do with the VRIL Society in pre-war Germany, and the success of its mediums in channelling and recreating UFO technologies stemming from another reality system and species of consciousness. “
Indeed. I think what we are getting, especially in the last few years with the avalanche of new revelations of all kinds is just the tip of the iceberg that we have to uncover with spiritual science and creative thought. I think some of us are slowly uncovering the true fruits of the creative line of flight that was German and Romantic culture before it was destroyed and hijacked by the Nazis. We aren’t getting access to our true heritage (despite my Italian name I am over half German, though now I think this is the rightful heritage of our whole planet though I think too much disclosure is a bad thing; we have to figure it out for ourselves–the breakaway groups have lost all culture and are too intertwined with alien agendas).
“A word for the wise: search for the deepest knowing in yourself and the deepest message you feel you wish to impart to others from it and through your writing – what you most truly want to say to others through it. Do not limit yourself to just discoursing on that which your writing and that of others, not least that of the academics and scientists, well known or not, and however original or ‘interesting’, is ‘about’. I myself do not think that academic philosophy and scientising discourse can be redeemed in our time. A word for the wise: search for the deepest knowing in yourself and the deepest message you feel you wish to impart to others from it and through your writing – what you most truly want to say to others through it. Do not limit yourself to just discoursing on that which your writing and that of others, not least that of the academics and scientists, well known or not, and however original or ‘interesting’, is ‘about’. I myself do not think that academic philosophy and scientising discourse can be redeemed in our time. Heidegger tried and failed as Rektor, and cultural life in his time was a lot richer and deeper than in our own – even in the realm of the sciences as Harrington’s book shows. My own watchword from Samuel Beckett: “Fail again. Fail better”. In other words to learn profound lessons and gain profound insights from the experience of never fully ‘succeeding’ in doing justice to all that remains both thought worthy and still unthought in thinking. Yet as you say, Seth had it ‘nailed’ more than the fancy French and other academic intellectuals, valid though their work is in its own terms, and one whose vocabularies can become sources to mine in forging our own languages and vocabularies, finding our own truest voice in the din – and impeccably reserving, preserving and guarding it for the few who have ears to hear and heed it. This is where Heidegger comes into the picture again, as something who foresaw thinking as something that, if it survives at all, will only do so in small pockets or ‘cells’ of individuals like those around you, i.e. in small groups of “Speakers” in the Sethian sense.”
I do my best! Thanks for the advice though. I think we are all in this together, especially the evolution of our knowledge; but I know the mainstream is on its own destructive trajectory. I know I am here to plant seeds and tend developments that may only bear fruit far after I am gone. Such is life!