Saturday, 21 November 2009

The Individual & The Universal

This is an off-shoot from Safeguarding the Individual . The following extracts were too long for the comments thread when imported over to Blogger, so they deserve a separate blog.

Erich Fromm on his Credo, from "Beyond Chains of Illusion".

"I believe that there are two ways of arriving at the choice of the good. The first is that of duty and obedience to moral commands... The other way is to develop a taste for and a sense of well-being in doing what is good or right. By taste for well-being, I do not mean pleasure in the Benthamian or Freudian sense. I refer to the sense of heightened aliveness in which I confirm my powers and my identity.

I believe that education means to acquaint the young with the best heritage of the human race. But while much of this heritage is expressed in words, it is effective only if these words become reality in the person of the teacher and in the practice and structure of society. Only the idea which has materialized in the flesh can influence man; the idea which remains a word only changes words...

I believe that society has both a furthering and an inhibiting function. Only in co-operation with others and in the process of work, does man develop his powers, only in the historical process does he create himself. But at the same time, most societies until now have served the aims of the few who wanted to use the many... Only when society's aim will have become identical with the aims of humanity, will society cease to cripple man and to further evil...

I believe that every man represents humanity. We are different as to intelligence, health, talents. Yet we are all one...

I believe that man can visualize the experience of the whole universal man only by realizing his individuality and not by trying to reduce himself to an abstract, common denominator.
Man's task in life is precisely the paradoxical-one of realizing his individuality and at the same time transcending it and arriving at the experience of universality. Only the fully developed individual self can drop the ego.

I believe that the One World which is emerging can come into existence only if a New Man comes into being - a man who has emerged froth the archaic ties of blood and soil, and who feels himself to be the son of man, a citizen of the world whose loyalty is to the human race and to life, rather than to any exclusive part of it; a man who loves his country because he loves mankind, and whose judgement is not warped by tribal loyalties.

I believe that man's growth is a process of continuous birth, of continuous awakening... The great leaders of the human race are those who have awakened man from his half-slumber. The great enemies of humanity are those who put it to sleep, and it does not matter whether their sleeping potion is the worship of God or that of the Golden Calf.

I believe that the development of man in the last four thousand years of history is truly awe inspiring. He has developed his reason to a point where he is solving the riddles of nature, and has emancipated himself from the blind power of the natural forces. But at the very moment of his greatest triumph, when he is at the threshold of a new world, he has succumbed to the power of the very things and organizations he has created. He has invented a new method of producing, and has made production and distribution his new idol. He worships the work of his hands and has reduced himself to being the servant of things. He uses the name of God, of freedom, of humanity, of socialism, in vain; he prides himself on his powers - the bombs and the machines - to cover up his human bankruptcy; he boasts of his power to destroy in order to hide his human impotence.

I believe that the only force that can save us from self destruction is reason; ...

I believe that reason cannot be effective unless man has hope and belief.
Goethe was right when he said that the deepest distinction between various historical periods is that between belief and disbelief; and when he added that all epochs in which belief dominates are brilliant, uplifting, and fruitful, while those in which disbelief dominates vanish because nobody cares to devote himself to the unfruitful.

No doubt the thirteenth century, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, were ages of belief and hope. I am afraid that the Western World in the twentieth century deceives itself about the fact that it has lost hope and belief.
Truly, where there is no belief in man, the belief in machines will not save us from vanishing; on the contrary, this 'belief' will only accelerate the end. Either the Western World will be capable of creating a renaissance of humanism in which the fullest developments of man's humanity, and not production and work, are the central issues -- or the West will perish as many other great civilizations have.

I believe that to recognise the truth is not primarily a matter of intelligence but a matter of character. The most important element is the courage to say no, to disobey the commands of power and of public opinion; to erase being asleep and to become human; to wake up and lose the sense of helplessness and futility. Eve and Prometheus are the two great rebels whose very 'crimes' liberated mankind. But the capacity to say "no' meaningfully, implies the capacity to say 'yes' meaningfully. The `yes' to God is the "no" to Caesar; the 'yes' to man is the `no' to all those who want to enslave, exploit, and stultify him.

I believe in freedom, in man's right to be himself, to assert himself and to fight all those who try to prevent him from being himself. But freedom is more than the absence of violent oppression. It is more than 'freedom from.' It is 'freedom to' – the freedom to become independent; the freedom to be much, rather than to have much, or to use things and people.

I believe that neither Western capitalism nor Soviet or Chinese communism can solve the problem of the future. They both create bureaucracies which transform man into a thing. Man must bring the forces of nature and of society under his conscious and rational control; but not under the control of a bureaucracy which administers things and man, but under the control of the free and associated producers who administer things and subordinate them to man, who is the measure of all things. ...

I believe that one of the most disastrous mistakes in individual and social life consists in being caught in stereotyped alternatives...

I believe that man must get rid of illusions that enslave and paralyse him; that he must become aware of the reality inside and, outside of him in order to create a world which needs no illusions. Freedom and independence can be achieved only when the chains of illusion are broken."

I could not have said it better!!! :^) And he sees no contradiction in the seeming paradox between individuality and oneness, which is reassuring. So how I'm wondering now do we turn words into practice... the eternal problem. An idea that comes to me is to put value on human freedom. But like he said in the first paragraph, it either requires something to be imposed from above or what he sees as the only real way which can genuinely succeed, namely the collective awakening of humanity itself. I'm not so confident about the latter - firstly, because it only takes a handful of troublemakers to cause fear, anger and collective falling asleep again, and secondly because of our belief in machines and systems being too great and outweighing our belief in humanity.

Reading this three years later in 2012, I feel... 
let us be more optimistic!

Photo courtesy of Hille: from Japan, 'Entering A New Dimension'

(Eckhart Tolle)
Those unable to look beyond form become even more deeply entrenched in their beliefs, that is to say, in their mind. We are witnessing not only an unprecedented influx of consciousness at this time but also an entrenchment and intensification of the ego. Some religious institutions will be open to the new consciousness; others will harden their doctrinal positions and become part of all those other man-made structures through which the collective ego will defend itself and "fight back." ... But the ego is destined to dissolve, and all its ossified structures, whether they be religious or other institutions, corporations or governments, will disintegrate from within, not matter how deeply entrenched they appear to be. The most rigid structures, the most impervious to change, will collapse first. This has already happened in the case of Soviet Communism.

(Buddhist thought)
To bring Peace to All, one must first discipline and control one's own mind.

(Jacob Burkhardt)
"The essence of tyranny is the denial of complexity".

Excerpts from John Ringland on the Collective Ego
...important lessons that can be learnt from spirituality, especially meditation in all its many forms, which are a subtle and much misunderstood science of the ego and the path from egoic crisis to balance, harmony and liberation. It is normally applied to the context of individual humans, which are civilisations of cells governed by an egoic power structure operating within the mind, but its lessons can be usefully adapted to civilisations of humans governed by an egoic power structure operating within the culture. ... Overcoming of the tyranny of the ego, liberation of the organism and alignment with the holistic reality is the true purpose of all spirituality. Hence, whether made explicit or not, overcoming naïve realism lies at the heart of all mystic traditions, all spiritual paradigms and at the core of all genuine religions.

Cooperative Ego
The most common method for overcoming commonsense realism is to practice the process of letting the impressions arise whilst not believing in their separate objective reality, this is meditation, which is simple and sure to succeed in the long term. The collective parallel of this would be for governments and organisations to practice monitoring situations without instantly assuming that, for instance, when they see a threatening nation that it is obviously exactly and only that; but instead to also look into the deeper human side and all the other possible sides. Don't just immediately categorise things based on pre-existing prejudices and then believe in those judgements from then on. They might not be an aggressive enemy but just people who desperately need help or perhaps its blowback from people who are outraged by previous atrocities that the regime denies, even to itself or perhaps its a delusional collective ego and a little diplomatic psychotherapy may be all that it needs. Harassing them will only lead to further blowback and turn them into embittered enemies whereas helping them or facing up to their grievances might turn them into future allies. Willing cooperation is always superior to coerced submission.

Another general approach toward overcoming commonsense realism is jnana yoga (yoga of supreme knowledge) where, with one's whole awareness, not just the intellect, one subtly enquires into the mind, the self and the process of commonsense realism until one 'sees' through it; this can lead to rapid liberation for those who are so inclined to it. A collective parallel would be for a regime to "turn inward" and invest great effort into understanding itself, the society, the culture and the psychology of holistic awareness and to cease investing effort into deceiving itself, dominating the society and culture and developing the psychology of manipulation. This could result in rapid flourishing for a civilisation as it gained true self-awareness and holistic self-command through informed cooperation rather than deceptive manipulation.

Pathological Ego
The methods just mentioned require the cooperation of the ego or regime so they cannot be used to resist and diminish pathological fascism that is already full blown and seeking only to secure its dominance. Other more subversive methods are required to set up a parallel personality that is gradually energised until its voice of reason begins to overcome the psycho-babble of the collective ego. Its spread will initially be slow because the collective trance will be strong but as it spreads and as the psychotic nature of the regime becomes undeniable it will spread all the more easily, eventually building up into an avalanche of reason and sanity that will sweep the delusional discourse aside. But exactly what tactics are required?

If the regime uses information warfare and psychological warfare to generate a delusional discourse the dissidents must use guerrilla versions of these. Whilst the regime has far greater numbers and a far louder voice it relies solely on delusion, denial and fear whereas the guerrillas can use truth, reality and people's innate instinct for reason, justice and survival. In the short term fear is a powerful weapon but in the longer term the guerrilla's weapons are far superior and effective even though their numbers are far fewer and their voice far weaker. What they have to share is something that people want and once they have it they want to share it whereas the regime must deceive people and force things upon them. The regime may have the media and a head start but the guerrilla message will spread of its own accord. ... The groups should share information but not know too much about each other, other than what is required to conduct, develop and spread the discourse. It's not about the participant's egos, it doesn't matter who you are it's about what understanding you can share with others and receive from others.

Image of Transformation
An "image of transformation" is essentially a simple and compelling idea that is easily conveyed, easily understood and that makes sense of the whole situation. The collection of hard evidence and the development of rational arguments is an important parallel activity and will become more important as the operation progresses but whilst ever the delusional discourse is dominant these are essentially powerless to influence the delusional discourse which is already inoculated against rational argument. The image of transformation implicit in this analysis could be stated as: "All complex systems form egos much like your own ego which is just a centralised power structure within your body/mind, and our human power structures are the ego of the planetary system (Gaia). This ego has become unbalanced and thus Gaia is headed for a nervous breakdown unless we bring some sanity into the situation. Imagine what it is like to be a regime using a nation as its body and what it is like to be a cell within your own body where your ego is the regime using the body to pursue it agendas. Then look upon the events in the world and see them from a fresh perspective thereby gaining a deeper understanding of global events. I urge you to hold this idea in your mind and look through it at the world, it will help you make sense of many things."

Given this simple image and a little imaginative observation many of the events of the world and their wider systemic pattern become understandable. Even without conscious effort to look through it, if the person doesn't immediately reject it or forget it, it will sit in the back of their mind and subtly inform their subconscious as it interprets and constructs the cognitive impression that they assume to be the world, thus their world will subtly change. Certain connections between things will become clearer and certain lies will wield less influence on them and gradually they will come to understand what is happening around them. This subconscious understanding makes the image compelling and likely to spread, leading to deeper understanding as more people input their personal perspectives and experiences into the growing discourse.

Different images of transformation can be used in different contexts to convey the basic understanding at a level that their audience is able to absorb. As this "sinks in" people will gradually become more able to approach the rational arguments and evidence. Before long the situation will become obvious and undeniable to all but the most heavily conditioned minds. This marks a "tipping point" or shift in the mood or conscience of the whole society and the regime will begin to face increasing resistance and non-compliance throughout all levels of society and the delusions and other mechanisms that the regime relies on will simply not work anymore. When the people no longer mindlessly obey and the agents of oppression no longer mindlessly enforce the will of the regime, the revolution has been all but won and the regime finds itself robbed of its power base without the need for violent conflict.

Collective Meditation
The ultimate goal of meditation is to overcome "commonsense realism" or our deepest habit of confusing the subjective objects of sense perception with objective external objects. Upon rational enquiry the assumption is easily seen to be just an assumption. The collective parallel would be to stop taking collective opinions as obvious truths and start challenging them. For example, just because some person or group is labelled by the media/government as a 'terrorist' doesn't mean they actually are and just because the government is portrayed to most as their protector doesn't mean it actually is. When this attitude spreads and become entrenched the regime cannot wield its manipulative lies anymore because people will have enquired their way through them and the lies will only become further proof of the regimes bankruptcy and will give insight into its psyche and strategy. It will become an "emperor with no clothes".

The essence of meditation is to turn the mind on itself with sincere and open awareness and the collective parallel with this would be to turn the culture on itself and to begin a process of sincere and open discourse on the true nature of the culture. True self awareness relies on true skepticism, which is open minded enquiry taking nothing as obvious fact until clear and compelling understanding arises of its own accord. Many people confuse skepticism with cynicism but they are complete opposites, this is an example of an important distinction that has become blurred thereby corrupting the public discourse; it is a major aspect of the web of deceit.

In meditation one should avoid all identification with habitual thoughts, desires and aversions and the collective parallel would be to avoid traditional discourses, propaganda, catch-phrases, cynical denial tactics and all manner of conditioned stimuli that condition our thought processes. One should return to basics and expressing things directly rather than through catch-phrases and propagandist euphemisms. In places such as India, mystic, spiritual and religious analogies are the most effective ones but in the West and any Christian, Muslim or Jewish societies that are estranged from their mystic core and caught up in politicised dogmatic religion it is best to be careful with this approach.

Undertaking these simple 'spiritual' practices will help unravel the entrenched systemic confusion and allow a coherent discourse to arise, thereby allowing wisdom to flow through the culture rather than self-deceptive propaganda. These 'meditative' practices are simple but they are powerful; they can result in a state described as 'stillness', which is simply an absence of agitated fear mongering, manic distraction seeking and manipulative advertising. This creates a space free of conditioning in which creative genius can arise and inspiration can flow, thereby channelling our hidden potential into the world. When this stillness spreads the culture is thereby returned to the people and wisdom spreads leading to deepening awareness, resulting in true understanding and harmony, which is called 'enlightenment'. When the groups and eventually the entire society is not driven by delusion people may engage coherently with reality and cooperate in very intricately creative and organic ways giving rise to a creative flourishing in which things undreamt of by confused fascist regimes can happen. These are what mystics call ‘miracles’; they are not 'supernatural', they are in fact the natural flowering of a healthy living being such as a person or a society. They only seem 'supernatural' and 'unreal' because our understanding of nature and reality is so limited.

As a form of resistance these practices of awakening cannot be enforced in a fascist mechanistic way; that would be like trying to force oneself and others to meditate, which only leads to resistance and failure. The way is to quietly spread the understanding amongst those that are open and able to understand. Don't get caught up in only fighting the insanity, that is merely acting out a role within the insane drama, and don't get caught up in believing it either (beware it is contagious), but instead work in 'parallel' gradually spreading awareness. If one pushes the message too hard and carelessly it can create strong defensive responses from people who are too conditioned to be open to it, which can result in hostility and a spreading discourse of inoculation against the growing ideas so be careful how you communicate things. Don't come across as pushy or condescending, be humble, helpful and inviting when speaking to a broad audience. As this discourse of holistic reason and awareness spreads it becomes easier to spread. This forms a parallel personality within the society; nurturing the Higher Self of the system rather than the ego of the system.

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely brilliant, thanks for sharing this, through 99 % of the read I was naturally nodding my head to it and feeling the truth of it with my heart, reveling in someone speaking as wise.

    The 1 % dichotomy in me was in this-
    "Goethe was right when he said that the deepest distinction between various historical periods is that between belief and disbelief; and when he added that all epochs in which belief dominates are brilliant, uplifting, and fruitful, while those in which disbelief dominates vanish because nobody cares to devote himself to the unfruitful."
    The periods of disbelief are just as important for me as the periods of belief, just as brilliant in the end, though most don't recognize the necessity of those times. It's a natural waving of energy, we wouldn't learn anything without those dark periods, we should be just as thankful for those.

    "No doubt the thirteenth century, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, were ages of belief and hope. I am afraid that the Western World in the twentieth century deceives itself about the fact that it has lost hope and belief. Truly, where there is no belief in man, the belief in machines will not save us from vanishing; on the contrary, this 'belief' will only accelerate the end. Either the Western World will be capable of creating a renaissance of humanism in which the fullest developments of man's humanity, and not production and work, are the central issues -- or the West will perish as many other great civilizations have."
    The East and the West are naturally changing polarities through the ages, one diminishes, other flourishes, one safe-keeps ancient knowledge, then the other does. At the moment the safe-keeping and flourishing of ancient knowledge is mainly in the west in my humble opinion, this is my feeling from traveling in the East, the citizens of which are mainly interested in gaining the wealth and comfort state of the west and have for the most part lost any real will to sustain their ancient truths and wisdom. And in the West the two polarities- one of which is looking to the ancient soul-soothing knowledge of the east and the other which is technological are equal. Technology is not an evil, it is our highest creativity, in fact the virtual worlds we have created have come to such a height to actually make us realize we are illusionary beings, CREATORS of our own illusion- there is much merit and depth in this development.

    But really- almost all of the text- couldn't have said it better too, so good, thanks okei!