Ticket to Infinity: Dave Oshana, Formlessness, & the Transformational Life

What Matters More than Infinity

In one of his online promotional pieces from January 2019, enlightened spiritual teacher Dave Oshana used the phrase “to infinity and beyond.”

I wrote this to him:

You know that’s the end of 2001, right? It’s part of my case against Kubrick, the self-aggrandizement, hyperbole, reality distortion. By definition, there is nothing beyond the infinite because if there were, it wouldn’t be infinite. I mention it because it’s probably what I dislike most about your publicity, the hype-er-bole.

Dave replied:

Yes, you told last month. I half expected to hear it again, and half not to since you don’t often repeat yourself, at least not so soon.

I think this time you didn’t find a suitable word for that expression. Maybe “tautology” would do. . . . I can’t [help] being effusive. Maybe it could help you if you could wear it unselfconsciously?

In my response, I pointed out that my criticism was “relevant since I am participating in your new PR program.” I added this question: Are you ok with risking self-satire?

Dave responded: It seems unavoidable, I can’t be saved afaik; being a guru was always a parody

My response:

What I wonder as a “consumer” of your “product” is: at what point do Dave’s words cease to be seriously intended to represent truth, and become parodies meant to amuse? And does it matter if people take the latter literally? Future lawsuits, “False advertising, Dave Oshana promised to take me beyond the infinite and all I got was infinity.”

Dave: LOL! I don’t think they would get very far with that one.

Jasun: It would make a great T-shirt tho; I’d wear it

Dave: You could make and even sell it, to add to the growing OETTC collection. Or you could start with an article and time it with a t-shirt launch

Jasun: [Thinks]

Dave: [Anyway,] I thought you had decided that words cannot represent truth. 

Jasun: They can point to it tho. Getting past the mind also entails not triggering its rational defenses by presenting it with patent falsities, absurdities, exaggerations or over-simplifications 

Dave: Good, that’s my current research, finding the “right stuff.” I was considering that I used to use provocation as a test to show they were in the zone and could stay there, but nowadays i might use it before they get there. Anyway I try hard to not err with words, so it matters.

Jasun: Yes. And what matters more than Infinity?

Dave: Experience

Existence Beyond Efforting

It is March 9th, two days after the Dave Oshana February 2019 Finland retreat—if I count them right, my tenth so far.

I just said goodbye to Dave, after talking in a corner of a hotel lobby for two hours, ostensibly for a podcast, but since Dave forgot to hit the record button and I forgot to check (though I certainly knew enough to do so), the conversation was just for us.

Dave seemed unbothered by the loss, and suggested I might be able to extract material from our time together by writing something down.

I am writing something down. Beginning with this:

Don’t trust the words, including the thoughts you have that tell you not to trust words.

Once upon a time, I had a dream in which Dave told me that I was now on a line to God, being reeled towards enlightenment, and that all I had to do was continue doing what I was doing and I would arrive at the destination. I sent Dave the dream in an email; he said it was something he might say to me some day, but not currently.

On this latest retreat, I had another experience of (what I choose to call) my soul. It was an experience of infinite peace, well-being, and effortlessness.

When I mentioned it to Dave during our failed podcast, he remarked that even the word “effortlessness” conjures up the thought of effort. He said something about how most people can’t even imagine a state that precludes the existence of effort, it is so central to our experience of reality.

In this world, not even the womb is easy.

*

Earlier, when I spoke about my experience of effortlessness on the retreat, Dave said something about how the mind may not notice an experience of (what he called) formlessness because it was only accustomed to dealing with forms. He suggested I might have been having experiences of this kind for some time already, but only recently become capable of re-membering (cogitating) them.

Apparently the mind needs to be trained to notice the soul, or perhaps simply learn not to interfere with an experience of it, not to trample all over it and force it to retreat. A hunter cannot experience an undisturbed forest—because the hunter is a disturbance.

Experiencing the formless as the underlayer of existence included, for me, realizing that formlessness was the nature and essence of my existence. It was a brush with the infinite that in reality I am.

This was not an impersonal experience, and with it came a welling up of emotion­. I found myself weeping. I wept for the people I love and the acute awareness of how much they were suffering, had suffered, and needlessly: this effortless well-being was available to us all of the time, and not even for the asking—much less the taking—but simply for the receiving. Yet we cannot receive what we don’t first accept.

I also felt joy, and for the same reason, that all our suffering ends in the moment we accept what we are: infinite, formless existence, eternally experiencing form, with all the ease of breathing.

 

Setting Off Landmines

 

My mind witnessed all this, in some sense at least; yet the following day, it withdrew from what it had seen. I began to feel my realization of peace slowly transmogrify into an oppressive weight, a sense of meaninglessness and futility—or worse, impossibility. Received grace became self-imposed despair.

When I recounted this to Dave, he suggested I was split within myself, that I was not one but two. While one part of me effortlessly aligned itself with reality, another part stressfully, stubbornly set itself against it. My mind—or the part that identified with its contents—was experiencing its impending retirement as a terrible burden.

*

As the retreat proceeded, there followed a form of unconscious revolt as the false identity scrambled to regain control over the body’s experience, to assert its will and become the knowing by turning it into knowledge, and thereby into a “doing.” To wrestle formlessness back into form—not as an expression of it but as a rebellion against it.

Some part of me seemed automatically opposed to the flow of infinite ease; its method—or madness—was to try to add to it or direct it. Ancient wounds bite back. The lack of requisite care during my formative years has shaped an identity that can only connect to reality, and to the other, by trying to use it, even if under the guise of “helping.” And in fact, my “rebellion,” when it spilled out into action, did take the form of a desire to bring the group together.

It took the form of a string of insights that I felt compelled to share with the group, even if it meant derailing Dave’s “program” to do so. I was not aware that these insights (or at least the desire to articulate them) might have been part of my mind’s covert attempt to reassert its control over the situation. Not at least until this unconscious internal revolt eventually led to a kind of public meltdown, when (with some help from Dave) I set off a chain of land mines inside my inner landscape, causing body parts and internal organs to explode all over the room.

While attempting to be the master chef and start making omelets, it was slowly and painfully revealed that I was the bloody chick, raw, vulnerable, exposed, fluttering wildly inside the frying pan of enlightenment transmission.

It may be that the only way to see our distortions fully is to let them be seen by others. There’s no way to look the other way when you are surrounded by mirrors.

A Formless Warrior in Finland

It is not just that Dave Oshana is hard for me to talk about; he is difficult even to mention in passing, besides, “A guy I know in Finland”. . .  

To describe Dave as an enlightened teacher, person, or worst of all, being, presupposes that I know what enlightenment is, and that I know for a fact that Dave is it. But neither statement is true.

On the other hand, to describe Dave, as I have done in the past, as “A guy in Finland who claims to be enlightened” suggests I don’t believe him, which isn’t true either. The dilemma of language.

After this last retreat, I am content to say: “Based on my interactions with Dave Oshana over the past 11 years, I am fully persuaded that enlightenment exists and that it is attainable. In other words, if enlightenment exists, the best evidence I have yet found for its existence is . . . a guy in Finland.”

So from here, what. . . ?

Many people on the spiritual scene believe they have found the one true path or teacher; some of them want others to partake in (or corroborate) their experience. While I can allow that “all roads lead to Jerusalem” in the end, I rarely if ever believe these people or have any interest in their chosen paths or teachers.

If I encountered myself talking about Dave Oshana and how he could transform my life, I wouldn’t believe me. So what does that leave?

Discernment, caution, restraint, subtlety, nuance. Dave Oshana is definitely not for everyone. He is, in my opinion, only for the very few. If you are one of these few and he is for you as he is for me, then knowing him will transform your life, as it did mine, in ways you currently cannot imagine. It is not for me to know this, however; only to wonder.

There is something else.

Of all the things in my life that I write and speak about via my creative output, what happens around Dave Oshana is the most meaningful and profound; not just by a little, but by miles and miles. So why do I speak about it so little?

My Secret Life

As much as my marriage (which I rarely speak or write about), in different ways and for different reasons, this is my secret life. It is where the lion’s share of my spiritual transformation is occurring. For years now, you, as audience member, have been glimpsing the after-effects of this transformation. The more sensitive and discerning among you have noticed it.

I have not been ready to invite you all the way in until now. Now time is running out and, at a certain juncture, the risk of withholding or practicing excess caution begins to seem greater than the risk of premature disclosure.

All things are timed according to only partially visible forces, and so, it seems, is this opening doorway of opportunity timed. Having persisted in my folly and faced my fears, have I finally arrived at the beginning of wisdom, at the threshold to the formless?

As I near the 52-year mark (in Mayan belief, a crucial turning point), I look back over a life that has spanned the extremes, like a crucifix, of high and low and left and right. It has taken me through the darkest destitution and despair and towards the brightest and highest of joys. A full spectrum of experience that now feels on the verge of completion—by which I mean, I suppose, the verge of true commencement.

I may not yet make that highest summit towards which I have strived for so long; but, at long last, I think I can see it.

Original Language

So what happened on this retreat to clear my perceptual field? Being in the field of the Oshana-flavored and facilitated enlightenment transmission is like group therapy squared. Not just days but years of frustration, anguish, rage, indignation, and the shame of an increasingly denuded psyche (mine) was exposed in its primal defenses, even while a herd of paper tigers smoldered and sparkled maliciously in my mind’s eye. Through a combination of self-generated images colliding with the living reality of the other (the Oshana collective), I saw just how defended I was, against life and love.

What I saw in the many mirrors of those eyes, was a soul in self-imposed exile, a raging Cain, condemned to a life of endless wandering, congenitally marked by his helpless defiance of the infinite.

Yet ironically, fatally, it is through the act of defiance that the infinite is invoked. Fear of the formless is the beginning of wisdom. But maybe I shouldn’t verbalize these things at all, if that is part of the problem, part of my system of defense, the desire to languify the ineffable and force it to submit?

What sort of fool tries to make an omelet out of his innermost?

Who wants to know anyway?

*

Original language, it is not on the page or the computer screen. It will never be found here.

As I let go of my reliance upon words to communicate (without of course letting go of words), with it went the personality (the mask) that had become fully dependent on verbalization to exist. I lost the face that put itself forward via artful (or artless) articulation, and abandoned the original syntax that covered over the original language of the body, the soul, and greater existence.

And with that egg-smeared face—my reliance upon artificial extension/protection—went all the stress of “performance.” Freedom, squared.

No more theory of mind, no more fraught, fearful, or fragile sense of a self seen through the eyes of imaginary others. No more potential—and eventually actual—adversaries to defend against or prove myself to; what an endless drag that was, a ball and chain in lieu of grounding.

Once all this was gone, there was only the communication of soul-body to soul-body that arises within, from, and as the infinite minutiae of experience: from the early trauma-generated habitual tics of a self-care system, to my deepest unconscious fears and desires, all the way to the transcendental echoes of the formless, as it emanates from beyond time and space.

 

Compelled Speech

There is a vast ocean beneath us. Uncountable waves eternally rolling, upon which our most carefully constructed verbiage is no more than the misty residue of spray. All words are empty words unless filled with the silence, and predetermined always, in content if not style, by the body of the ocean beneath them.

I had felt compelled to speak out—but compelled by what, to do what? To interrupt the flow of the formless and express my internal angstiness! And having passed through the gauntlet of my myriad neuroses and inauthenticities, having witnessed a psychic defense system turned in on itself—what was there left to say?

“D’oh!”

All that remained was to repent in the rawest way I could manage.

After that, it became clear how, and why, what I say never really matters, at least not in the moment before I say it, when the pressure to get it right is greatest. It doesn’t matter, because by then it has already been predetermined by the deeper movements within me that end with that articulation. At best, my words are icing on a cake; at worst, they are toxic trinkets that make the cake all-but uneatable, shards of eggshell mixed up inside a slimy omelet.

What that leaves is, really, everything. The fullness of the formless: the love-joy-sorrow and sweetness of encountering the other—meeting the infinite within the other, moment to moment, in every moment. And in meeting being met. When the formless meets the formless, it gives rise to form; or perhaps this: on the outermost edges of formlessness, as the formless comes to know itself, form occurs. And there we are.

This is the threshold which words cannot go beyond. This is the ticket to the infinite.

It does not require knowledge. Knowledge is an echo, a distortion of an original encounter with something that can’t be named, only known. Something we come to know only via the experience of the formless coming to know itself though us.

The Finish Line

Once upon a time, I was impressed by how unimpressive Dave Oshana was. Now I have seen (?) what Dave Oshana actually is (or is not), the tables have turned. I have met the infinite and now I am strangely unimpressed by how truly impressive Dave is. Why? Because there’s no one here to be impressed, perhaps?

The formless is nothing if not nonchalant. This final entry into reality is a non-dramatic event: as the seeker meets the formless warrior, and recognizes what he has sought for his whole life.

As my ticket to the infinite is punched.

As I settle effortlessly into the knowledge (the faith, nonconceptual and bodily) that I have a seat on that infinity train—that it is taking me infinitely beyond anything I can possibly describe or ever understand, to some place that is familiar beyond all words.

The return home has begun.

Postscript.
 
Dave has said that the simplest, most direct way to experience what he is offering is to meet him. I would agree. The people who have arrived at an encounter with Dave and the enlightenment transmission (an experience of formlessness?) via myself are the ones who have taken the all-important step to meet him, and who have been mysteriously affected by it, not so much via their minds as in their bodies.
 
Recently, as some of you know, I proposed a free online Oshana event – which Dave kindly agreed to host, provided there are 12 “volunteers” or more. The event is scheduled for the 6th of April at 9 am PST/5 pm UK time, and is titled “A Taste of Formlessness.” 
 
I look forward to seeing a few of you there, on the edges of the beyond.
 
PPS. Once you have signed up to join the Dave event, you should receive an email request from Dave for some info about yourself; be sure & respond to that, in order to let Dave know a bit about who you are & where you come from. Thanks!

18 thoughts on “Ticket to Infinity: Dave Oshana, Formlessness, & the Transformational Life”

  1. only read the first few lines… will add for the both of you that the mind can only exit via the form… anyway I will return to the read… appreciate u’all

    synchronic that my first email re.dave as I am aware of he per u book

    yer write re.d help me apprehend my werk as it were

  2. I look forward to meeting any of your readers, commenters and interviewees. Several were in the first wave to book ‘A Taste of Formlessness: From Something Comes Nothing,’ the 6th April online meet-up, within the last 24 hours since the event was announced. 33% of the available slots have now been taken.

  3. Beautiful piece, Jasun.

    A long time ago I was listening to a Rabbi who said “the mystery of creation is in its limitations”. Hearing this, I didn’t understand. Years later, I’ve come to see what he meant is this: the geometry of relationships between objects in physical reality represents universal perfection that has been naturally selected. It is a remarkable beauty which our existent feeling bodies – regulated as they are by existent social realities of reflexive cuing (never forget this! we cannot help but take in the intentional/affective states of other faces/voices/bodies) cannot feel relaxed enough in their body to represent.

    Relaxation, calming the autonomic nervous system, is the very root and basis of ‘enlightenment’, as you cannot understand yourself – or self-integrate – if you don’t know what you’re feeling, and why you feel what you feel. This means the brain is designed to know the meaning of its feeling, and not just that, but to communicate these feelings so that the Other will have an improved epistemology in relation to what bothers you. This is a functional gain in social-relations, and more importantly, it will work to relax your autonomic processes so that they don’t represent a threatening social environment.

    Everything we do is habit; and knowledge is all we really have to improve how it is we work. The Rabbi who said the ‘mystery of reality is limitation’ was not denying the formless, but impressing upon people how the formless/unconditional is actually manifested in the formal and material. It is misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the signs of external and internal reality which leads to ‘babbling’: to an exaggerated self-agency which puts the “power of now” front and center, as if the semiotics of reality didn’t encompass a wider field of knowledge – and furthermore, it would save us from having to sacrifice the natural world (and other people) so that we can secretly and dissociatively cultivate our addictions while tendentiously insisting that all of reality is the ‘now’ – only the now. As many psychotherapists and anthropologists have noted, shamans and mystics are often extremely derealized and depersonalized minds. They do not know that their system ‘stores’ the trauma of their pasts, and since pain/suffering is entropy, it undermines/poisons the quality of self-experience. How incredible is that? Geometry is the highest science for a good reason: it connects the significance of the parts to the whole so that the part/whole relationship is seen to be a matter of ‘signs’ around “good and bad”. In human lingo, this is the golden rule, whose consequences – if not held to – are epistemology and ontological. Humans cannot think clearly when they imagine that the behavior of their minds isn’t in a tight coupling with the signs/feelings of other bodies. If you can’t see this architecture, you evidently don’t have much knowledge of your own self-experience. Habit. The habits of cognition are connected to the habits of perception…of feelings. We respond to implicit feelings with ego-defenses because we are always deficient – passive: focusing on the external object and not the relational meaning of the internal object.

    Reality is much more beautiful – and exciting – than trauma allows us to see. Take the space-program: is that not exciting? Is medical science not exciting? 3d printing? All of these technologies are consequences of our ‘fall’; but they should not be treated as if they weren’t “worth it” i.e. our fragmentation…There is always this part/whole relationship at the social-level which experiences itself asymmetrically with the universe at large. In Human-human relationships, the logic of the Mishna (early Talmudic text) is: if I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I?” The logic is: every “I” deserves positive experiences and to feel enlivenment. That is, in order to do so, the self has to selfishly experience its own body to have fun. Allocentric awareness i.e. care/compassion, does not conduce to ‘gaming’. Instead, there is a complex lattice-work of feelings which carry their own structural ontology. Fun will always lead to dissociation of the other; care will always lead to dissociation of the needs of the self (if done too masochistically; i.e. as monks who deny themselves all physical pleasure) if awe for the structure of reality displaces the intention/goal of creation – to have fun. Therefore, care is dualistic: care for the other has to be balanced by care for the self. This is because the Self is an emergent property of the eternal witnessing of love. The self is the Other; the beloved; the world/universe.

    Hence, without understanding the nitty-gritty of how we work, we will never know when to shift from one mode to another mode. This is what I’m interested in showing in my work (with the conspiracy stuff tangential to this main arc). Our minds are the exact opposite of what postmodernism seeks to represent; there is a deep and ancient structure, and a continuously changing flow of signs – which are signs because they mean something to me, and can be connected to the logical events of my interactions with the world.

  4. Thanks, Till.

    That Talmud riddle is one Dave has explored on a previous meet.

    “Relaxation, calming the autonomic nervous system, is the very root and basis of ‘enlightenment’, as you cannot understand yourself – or self-integrate – if you don’t know what you’re feeling, and why you feel what you feel. . . .Everything we do is habit; and knowledge is all we really have to improve how it is we work.”

    I am not sure I agree here, or perhaps it’s a semantic difference about “knowledge.” Self-awareness via self-observation seems to allow for a letting go of layers of defense/habits of the false self, since once we see (by having it seen) that a given face is really a mask, it becomes pointless to try & put it on again. But is that knowledge or is it a letting go of an idea?

    This brings to mind Daath, the sephiroth for knowledge, that essentially does not exist save relationally, as you say about self – self knowledge is thereby the awareness that the self which knows, as much as the act of knowing that attempts to fix itself as “knowledge” (outside of the moment in which it occurs) is illusory….

    the only way to live, truly, is to live spontaneously, which IMO is the real truth of “being in the now” – that the body can only respond to the present moment, never to past or future constructs

  5. Concerning “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And when I am only for myself, what am ‘I’? And if not now, when?”

    I recall saying something similar in a recent group event but not the same. This doesn’t mean that what I said was better, only that it was different. Earlier, I have made more direct references. However, I have always felt that the riddle is too pithy and unwieldy to be imported into real-time communication. It is too time-consuming to unpack and could result in a loss of mutuality if the inherent value system is not shared by the listener.

    In group meetings, my use of language is very different than usage for everyday purposes, although on the surface it may sound the same. Language lies. Getting to the truth whilst only looking in a fairground mirror requires entering the layer between everyday waking consciousness and dreaming. That’s where most people can be found, which makes most talk simply the incoherent babbling of somnambulists. The imagined meanings are lost upon awakening.

    I am curious to know how Till came to use and emphasise the concept of “babbling” since it was a key part of the recent retreat’s experiential exploration Original Language.

  6. Hey Jasun,

    In my experience, and the experience of most psychotherapists, you don’t overcome trauma: you get control of it by expanding your range of knowing. What does this mean at a neurological level? The brain is plastic. From the bottom-up, the brain works by integrating signals from the body, coordinating them, and them integrating these coordinations with higher level attachment-related self-world behaviors. The first stop – the “paleomammlian brain”, is the midbrain area. Here’s the place where the core excitations of motivational-system nuclei (like VTA=dopamine; raphe nucleus = serotonin, etc) which are then systematically gated/transformed on their way to completion.

    I really think it is impossible to know the mind properly without a thorough knowledge of neuroscience:

    “Each individual is not only subject, like all material systems, to the second law of thermodynamics, but also to a multilayered set of irreversible selectional events in his or her perception and memory. Indeed, selective systems are by their nature irreversible.” – Gerald Edelman, Bright Air, Brilliant Fire: On the Matter of the Mind; pg. 168, 1992, Basic

    I know we like to think we overcome our traumas, but we don’t see to. We expand the system: we grow additional capacities for processing so that, in the dynamic described above, core excitation = brainstem = conditioned in early life (always a potential for response); mid-brain responses are handled in the striatum/amygdala, so that embodied habits of knowing/relating are always embodied.

    The Dalai Lama has himself questioned Buddhist doctrine if it contradicts scientific – i.e. empirical – study. As it should.

    In neuroplasticity, it is the forebrain – specifically the ventral PFC – which grows neurons (from the olfactory bulb or dendritic zone of the hippocampus) and since the OFC (orbitofrontal cortex) is almost entirely made of inhibitory, the computational/regulatory logic of brain-function makes much sense: brainstem excites, forebrain inhibits. In other words, we can add cognitive complex and higher-level representation to relax our feeling-body…

    So why do we feel like we change? Do we…really? If you fail to nourish yourself or get proper sleep, your past issues will become more affectively apparent to you. Or, go into a public space – or meet a face/individual/culture which has historically strained you: can you tolerate it? If you were completely honest, you should acknowledge the amygdala/brainstem connection (via solitary nucleus) so that your body freezes up. Why would this happen unless you – the individual – are really a sub-system of the dyadic relationship?

    It is for this reason that I am absolutely opposed to the historical mysticism/epistemology which trashes knowledge. For instance, do we exist with one another? Could you be the mind you are today without knowledge? Logically speaking – could you have a self-reflective mind without a mother/father speaking to you and in the process complexifying/expanding your minds focusing/relational capacities?

    Whenever mystics talk this way, I am astonished – floored even – by the sheer irrationality of it. This vs. that; formless vs. form; knowledge vs. wisdom. I mentioned the kabbalah, but I by no means hold myself to the kabbalah. I don’t look to it to figure out the structure of reality (I take its claims as to being such a thing to be a speculation requiring actual experimental verification…Anyone can make claims without evidence).

    Thus, knowledge exists BETWEEN PEOPLE. I cannot stress this enough: we are as much speakers and communicators of knowledge as we are anything else; and the big – and only -reason we think and posit as we do vis-à-vis knowledge is that we are still working from a substance dualism without acknowledging the real-live property-dualism. We have internal realities AND we have voices that speak. We have internalized-representations and we have interactions.

    As to your last statement, do you not use your memory to refocus your mind when your feeling-body represents a traumatic representation? The cognitive sciences have shown the mind to be nothing more than a prediction-machine. If you think you don’t need to use your cognitive memory systems, then your feeling/spontaneous body representation is nothing more than a ‘prediction’ my body will engage in to relax the stresses.

    So how did you get so confident in your feelings Jasun? Through conversation – interaction -via knowledge, with Dave Oshana? Did you have that before or after interaction with him? If after, wouldn’t we, or shouldn’t we, attribute the change to the force of knowledge? How can ‘fixing knowledge’ than be illusory if it can help orient you to a symmetrical organization? Help you feel better and project a better self-state?

    Reality can be formless and formal at the same time. But the formal better be what you/I/we are paying attention to, otherwise the mystic hogwash/imbalance will wash over us after the next round i.e. the next cycle.

  7. Here’s another good Edelman quote:

    “Higher order consciousness cannot be abandoned without losing the descriptive power it makes possible. (I often wonder whether this abandonment is what some mystics seek.)” – Gerald Edelman, Bright Air, Brilliant Fire: On the Matter of the Mind; pg. 124, 1992, Basic

  8. In other words, the dissociation of meaning/knowledge from interaction, and then experiencing the change of that interaction, only to say ‘knowledge had nothing to do with it’, is incoherent.

    There is clearly a fundamental complementarity here. Yin/Yang. Formless/Form. They mutually support/enhance/clarify one another.

    Edelman says ‘this abandonment’ of thinking is what some mystics ‘seek’. It may be. No system of knowledge if more full of unjustified-clichés super-charged by dogma/enchanting environments/ambiences as mysticism.

    I see it as the representation par-excellent of ‘mythological consciousness’. If the fullness of reality – mind plus body – knowledge plus feeling – cannot be contained, why not?

  9. P.S. In my reading of C.S. Peirce and William James (who were close friends) I am bothered by a recurring theme. I went through the whole Judaism/Kabbalah/Gnosticism/Hermeticism thing to figure out, or learn, what sort of conflicts are created in human beings when they address reality in the way the Hebrews/Jews did.

    Peirce believed in “perfect symmetry”. He believed reality was moving in that direction. Same thing with James, who, being more interested in the occult than in logic, also believed that reality was ‘all in the mind’.

    Jason W. Brown, a neurologist, takes the Universe as the Mind of God – as do I (as did Peirce). But Jason W. Brown wrongly and asininely thinks everything beyond his personal mind is merely ‘extrapersonal mind’. I have mentioned how deeply this irks me – being so relationally educated – and growing up – in a more developed scientific era than Brown did, I cannot tolerate the nonsense of referring to everything beyond your personal mind as merely ‘extrapersonal space’. Really? Nothing could be more personal to me than the meaning of the social world around me. Furthermore, I am not in control of it, but responding to it. In addition: my capacities as an agentic self are RESTRAINED by this social-presencing….This is definitely what Axel Honneth has in mind when he says the I is a function of the WE: we cannot know our true selves in a context of interpersonal tension, conflict, and aggressive competition.

    Just as the heart is more to one side than the other, so is cooperation more basic in us than competition (though we should not get rid of competition: again, it can be fun; it just needs to be coherently regulated). Same thing with social-communication. The Self-Other relationship is MORE REAL than my self-experience. I realize my true nature more truthfully when I adapt myself to the intrinsic constraints of the social interaction. I learn only after; but can appreciate only when the other helps me learn what I get from social interactions.

    Formless/form is a similar dynamic. The formless/love is the root of things, and we should be anchored to this; but we shouldn’t lose sight of how actual reality is composed of signs which constrain us towards this representation. Reality will always hold the formless: but to truly love life and live responsibly, you have to think/represent/use your memory systems. We can’t artificially excise/demarcate our internal life as if my ‘love’ makes me this way, as if realities composition has nothing to do with it (i.e. in mediating it). It is this passive/active quality which needs to be acknowledged. The complementarity at the core of things is very, very real, and deeply addresses the moral heart and soul of how the universe works.

    I see Logos as the mind that is projected by love. Love is written throughout this universe, but it takes mind – and coherent knowing – to represent it. Without knowing, the creation falls apart i.e. we hurt it. With knowing, we ‘stitch’ male with female, as the kabbalah describes it. Indeed, one Rabbi whose lecture I listened to made this point: 11 is more true than 10. You say the sephirah of death is ‘illusory’ – yet I’ve heard the opposite: the so-called “messianic era” is a function of re-inserting the 11th sephirah to create once again a relationship between the “indwelling presence of God” (humanity) and the Universe at large (God). This is typically how the religious Jews understand knowledge i.e. as connecting heaven (mind) and earth (body).

  10. PSS. As for pedophilia, look into William James and his family history for an example of how this issue arises, and more importantly, how it wreaks its havoc epistemologically by keeping the mind focused on subject matters correlated with the self’s evolved regulation goals. A good book to get a sense of this would be “The Metaphysical Club” by Louis Menand. Here’s a quote I took awhile back:

    The book is about how “American pragmatism” had evolved in the unique circumstances of American society. It covers William Holmes, John Dewey, William James and C.S Peirce. Here are 3 quotes and my own comments on the quotes (addressing the very issues I’ve been addressing here). I see, in other words, a structural relationship between pedophilia, and wishing to see the universe in a formless way. Clearly, the experience of pedophilia (where no constraints were acknowledged by the caregivers) and the positing of a pure ‘formless’, are metaphorically akin phenomena (I would recommend you read George Lakhoff/Mark Johnson is you haven’t done so already for how our minds reflect the structure of our relatonships with the environment i.e. it is metaphorically constructed)

    “To the Wendell Holmes who returned from the war, generalism was the enemy of seriousness. War had made him appreciate the value of expertise: soldiers who understood the mechanics of battle fought better – more effectively, but also more bravely – than soldiers who were motivated chiefly by enthusiasm for a cause. When he had written his letters to Charles Norton comparing the Civil War to the Crusades, Holmes was still attempting to inspire himself by his feeling for the cause. When he emerged from the Wilderness three months later, that feeling seemed to him only an emotion people used to destroy themselves.” – Louis Menand, The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America; pg. 59; Farrar, Straus, Giroux; 2002 [The purpose of this quote is to show how trauma can shock people out of their normal epistemological gullibility. What Holmes recognized was how an earlier held value – held when times were good – became worthless under real existential duress. In the biblical lexicon, they were “idols” – useless ideals which do not match up to the true shape of reality. In fact, he even recognized that the ideal, if continued to be held to, ultimately had a sadomasochistic aspect to it: it provoked people to keep doing what was in fact destroying them. The psychology of the process – an emphasis on an “end”, led to a chronic and constant bulldozing through the body of the self and other people, and a denial of the harm it continued to cause. His recognition that mechanics of things better corresponds to reality relied upon the only example he knew of: war; but it applies to everything, the mind especially. The difference between a mindless idealization and a healthy ideal way of being is that the former ignores immediate feedback from reality and fails to learn from that feedback, whereas the latter makes learning the primary point; it is from that feedback, and from learning, that the truth of things is ultimately discovered. Despite this depth of insight made following the war, the exaggerated sense of self-importance Holmes attributed to himself made him vulnerable to the social influences of the culture he had every interest of re-entering – and of course, of gaining power and prominence within. He once wrote “If they could make a case for putting Rockefeller in prison I should do my part…but if they left it to me I should put up a bronze statue to him.” Pg. 65; its pretentious and ostentatious statements like this which gives away the powerful effect elitist culture had upon him; an effect that was made grander as a function of his own misestimation of the way his own views – and their continuing evolution – resulted from his need to experience himself positively – an effect which relies upon the positive feedback from others. Having sought greatness and entered the company of “great” men like Rockefeller, he seriously misjudged the degree to which his views could be made more and more compatible with theirs; it was, in other words, misunderstanding how certain cultures fetishize trauma, and thus, can craft a narrative that makes capitalism seem like a great social good, as opposed to a power which can become maniacal if not restrained by the greater power of a collective socialism – a social system Menand tells the reader Holmes considered “to be silly”. Holmes fell victim to the elitist illusion that ‘disinterestedness’ towards results meant “not being attached” – as if the very pompous attitude felt towards disinterestedness didn’t constitute an affective attachment – a value – which he lorded over others without ever recognizing how that view was bootstrapped into his mindbrain, and through what relationships – his parents, and especially Henry L. Abbot. Menand concludes that he was ‘indifferent towards suffering’ of others – a position that was drilled into him by the ‘heroism’ of Abbot during the civil war – himself a son of an elite judge; this illusion, that you can have an attitude without the continuous feedback of social-position and opportunity given to you by the system, engendered an acute oversight of how fundamentally unjust the system was, insomuch as it was the system and its positive and negative feedbacks which made human beings what they are – that is, underlies their capacities for acting. In other words, it was Holmes hyper-valuation of scientific ‘disinterestedness’ which, when confronted with the ‘incompetence’ of the poorly educated, elicited in him a contempt for those who failed to embody it – a failure which had everything to do with the dynamics of the society which he himself became a chief arbiter of.]

    “His solution to this problem in his own life was to cultivate a self-conscious impulsivity. He would act decisively, and then, just as decisively, change his mind. He spent fifteen years trying to settle on an occupation, switching from science to painting to science to painting again, then to chemistry, anatomy, natural history, and finally medicine. Medicine was the only course of study he ever completed: he received an M.D. from Harvard in 1869 and never practiced or taught medicine for the rest of his life. He began teaching physiology at Harvard in 1872, but switched fields, first to experimental psychology and then to philosophy…In 1903 he began the process of trying to decide whether to retire. His diary for the fall of 1905 reads: October 26, “Resign!”; October 28, “Resign!!!”; November 4, “Resign?”; November 7, “Resign!”; November 8, “Don’t resign”; November 9, “Resign!”; November 16, “Don’t resign!”; November 23, “Resign”; December 7, “Don’t resign”; December 9 “Teach here next year”. He retired in1907…They had six children. William named the youngest son Francis; when the child seemed to dislike the name, he called him John; when the boy was seven, he officially changed the name to Alexander. When his family irritated him – as it frequently did: one of his children later described shouting matches between William and Alice – he would sometimes go off alone to his country house in New Hampshire. As soon as he arrived, he began sending love letters back home. Whenever he was in Europe (it was his habit to be out of town when there were newborns in the house) he announced his distaste for European life and his preference for everything American. When he returned, he complained about America and longed to be in Europe. “He’s just like a blob of mercury,” his sister, Alice, wrote near the end of her life, after William had paid her a flying visit in London; “you cannot put a mental finger upon him.” – Louis Menand, The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America; pg. 75-76; Farrar, Straus, Giroux; 2002 [To add to the obvious affect dysregulation disorder James lived with, he married a woman with the same name as his sister, which is made strange by the erotic pictures he drew of her (his sister), as well as her own lifelong affect dysregulations which strongly intimates a history of sexual abuse – whether by her father, or encouraged by him in relation to her brothers.]

    “He changed course frequently and abruptly, but, unlike his oldest son, he was never paralyzed by doubt. On the contrary: “A skeptical state,”…he once said,”…I have never known for a moment.” – Louis Menand, The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America; pg. 84; Farrar, Straus, Giroux; 2002 [A man who apparently constantly contradicted himself, and described as being both opposed to and for the criminal, never acknowledged doubt? Obviously, doubt did occur, otherwise he never would have changed his religion so frequently; what mattered, it seemed, was that he could never acknowledge that he doubted – insomuch as ‘to doubt’, as is still sometimes thought, is experienced as a ‘weakness of character’. His issue was a chronic, diseased dissociation of what he actually felt and actually did; and hence, helps explain the origin of the pathological vacillation William James dealt with. The elder James held to the view that independent selfhood doesn’t exist; in an ultimate sense, this is true, insomuch as the self has an intrinsic dyadic structure that is dyadically constructed through interpersonal relationships; yet, if you pay attention to the role needs play in the emergence and regulation of the ACTUAL mind, the individual self IS real, insomuch as not acknowledging the legitimacy of ones own needs generates asymmetrical effects within ones experience. What results from this analysis is that denying the independent self and acknowledging only an independent self amount to the same thing: ignoring how things actually work in fact, which ultimately reveals a bidirectional relationship between self and other in interpersonal relationships, as well as self and other in the experience of one’s own phenomenological experience i.e. which creates the need for self-compassion – ultimately proving the reality of the individual self, albeit, as a miniature representation of interactions between self and other.]
    “James therefore claimed to have no use for morality, a concept he regarded as bound up with the pernicious belief that people are responsible for the good or evil of their actions. People who believe this are people who think they can make themselves worthier than other people by their own exertions. But this is to worship the false god of selfhood. “All conscious virtue is spurious,” James insisted; genuine goodness comes only from God…The applications of such a cosmology are not self-evident. At the beginning of his career, James thought his views required him to become an advocate of free love. “If society left its subjects free to follow the divine afflatus of his passion whithersoever it carried him,” he wrote in the Fourieriest journal the Harbinger, “we should never hear of such a thing as sexual promiscuity or fornication, never dream of a merely natural ultimation of the passions. The natural appetite in each case would be infallibly subject to the personal sentiment, and thus would always be elevated into celestial purity.” He believed that “a day will come when the sexual relations will be regulated in every case by the private will of the parties. The public sentiment, then, or law,… will declare the entire freedom of every man or woman to follow the bent of their private affections, will justify every alliance sanctioned by these affections.” – Louis Menand, The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America; pg. 86; Farrar, Straus, Giroux; 2002 [This statement lends strong support to my previous theory: that his own child, Alice, was likely victimized by the pernicious permissiveness of this philosophy of her fathers: where even his own children, it seems, were not off the table; and no doubt, to blanket statement all things in terms of sexuality, gave ample room for the distortion of his own noxious projections. Later on, Menand quote’s a reversal of James views, which is consistent with his overall dissociative personality; indeed, isn’t his earlier claim of following his whim not consistent with reversing his position, again and again, as if no truth existed but the “one truth of God”? Again and again, this position dysregulates and disorganizes the biosemiotics of the brain-body-world matrix, providing the reinforcing feedback that steers the mind back to its world-destroying projections: for what? To find ‘safety’ for the “self” which, paradoxically, the elder James claims “doesn’t exist”. And so, again, the extremes generate polarized oscillation; manic-depression is the underlying structure that these vacillations in opinion skirt upon.]

  11. all very interesting, and at this point, I have to throw up my hands and say “I don’t know, but nor do I feel any need to.”

    I think if you make knowledge synonymous to memory, then I might agree, with the proviso that such body-knowledge/memory is not dependent on any kind of mental content, exactly as the traumatic memory of body affect isn’t, in fact, by definition, it can’t be contained by any form of cognitive framework (trauma, like God, being what is too large for the mind to grasp) .

    for example, as we get to know a person (me and Dave say), and develop trust, respect, and love & affection for them, this is experienced and expressed by the body, without necessarily requiring any reference to cognitive recall or memory (knowledge in the sense I use it), even tho, clearly, the sum of those experiences is informing our perceptions and (inter-) actions.

    to me, this is necessary for understanding how it is possible for form or the finite (our lived lives) to somehow have an experience of the formless and the infinite which they are nested within, without being utterly annihilated, cancelled out, by that. The Logos is the ratio between form/formless and finite/infinite, yet this is an inherent impossibility (absurdity) to the mind, since there can be no ratio between finite and infinite that isn’t itself infinitesimal.

    since we do not experience ourselves as infinitesimal (as non-existent), our experience of existing as form, is itself an experience of formlessness, or the infinite. Yet there is no knowledge-base, no matter how vast, that can even begin to scratch the surface of (much less encompass) the infinite.

    • As to the first sentence: You can learn from inference, which is basically the same exact process as the other sciences. How do we know quarks exist? Inference. We can’t even measure their existence, but the effects of their existence – mathematically – shows up in experimental searches for those effects. Hence, they must exist.

      Similarly, if all of reality can be thought of as triadic – beginning with the first cell (first life form), we can see this in the point-counterpoint between the membrane/protein complex and the internal nucleus/DNA complex, mediated by the flux of enzymatic and autocatalytic metabolism. A similar structure exists higher up: organism (DNA), other (proteins/membrane) and communicative signs. Within this dynamic – a dynamic shared by all mammals – self/other/affect emerges, but with it all happening now in the mind: the self is your observing part; the other, the feeling part; and the signs – the nature of what those feeling parts mean vis-à-vis everything that can be known/deduced from the symmetry of interactions. So, I agree that trauma as specific content – necessarily hides itself. But when you learn how we grow from a more theoretical/physical understanding, there is a necessity to this effect – and hence – we shouldn’t make any sharp distinctions between phenomenology (what I can know first person) from what I can know from third person studies (i.e. science). In fact, my personal knowledge is completely explained and made sense of from a coherent third-person perspective. Indeed – wouldn’t the latter perspective, since it takes social-cooperation in a complex technological/social environment a better road towards knowledge than the often self-serving claims to knowledge of the mystic? The “enlightened” person likes to pretend like he doesn’t need to persuade/convert people. If no need, than why speak/attempt to convert? If you speak, you need, and hence, you will feel bad if no one responds to your efforts. Understandable – human – a function of having a body that has been naturally selected to respond this way.

      As to second paragraph: the full process is mind and body, since you need to attend, reflect, understand. I’m not disagreeing that the body is the template – hence the whole biblical narrative of Adam/Eve/serpent. Adam is the reflective mind, Eve the body, and the serpent is unresolved trauma. It is the body which feels the unresolved trauma – hence the communication between Eve and the reptile; and why it is Eve who “misleads Adam”. This allegory describes what every human mind is doing when they reflect in traumtological ways: trauma is UNREFLECTED upon experience. Hence, when I say “knowledge”, I mean reflection. Trust, love, affect, etc, are the feelings produced by coherent reflections i.e. constraints on the flow of experience. Animals cannot achieve such feeling because they do not have faces/voices to convey such meaning, nor do they have brain-regions that can de-code such meaning. Our mirror-neurons (which are the most extensive in all mammals) allow such resonance, but the resonance is not independent of focus, correct marking, and then communication. The feelings you describe are very good ones: but they take a particular mental/cognitive approach/strategy to accomplish.

      In the view of the cognitive sciences, the body = knowledge. Fransisco Varela first touched on this in his book with Humberto Maturana, “The Tree of Knowledge”. Although this book doesn’t stress semiotic knowing, it definitely connects knowing/cognition to structure/dynamics, which biosemiotics (Hoffmeyer, Deeley, Sebeok, von Uexkull, etc) properly expands into a more fully-fleshed modern scientific understanding of life and mind.

      As to paragraphs 3 and 4. I wonder how fruitful this language is – of the logos being the ‘ratio’ between finite/infinite and formless/form. I don’t know what that means. Logos, from my perspective, is the ‘logic’ of existence. Infinite/infinitesimal – again, i’m bot sure how productive these descriptions are. They strike me as a form of philosophical essentialism, in which language is used without stating or describing its relationship to physical process i.e. this is how you, I, and everyone else continues to exist.

      So, in knowing how the universe works, I feel happy and satisfied. I find language to be inherently misleading if it is not connected to process. Since the self grows from the bottom-up, and each self trained by the top-down (from cultural narratives), we can see feedback loop between evolved cultures/narratives and the way the self forms meaning from procedural, analogical, self-other interactions around recognition of motivational needs. Thus, I feel this explanation suffices to explain ‘why I feel’ as I can sometimes. It is also what motivates me to realize that a far more inspiring and enlivening and REAL CREATIVITY lies before us once we resolve these psycho-social-biological feedback loops.

      Hence, I suspect these riddles/games mystics play (i.e.their narrativizing) has everything to do with the loss of trust in social connection. I remember an indian mystic saying there was a truer state beyond love – the “atman”. Aye, I think to myself. This dork (please let me have this one insult between us!) likes to imagine that contemporary Indian philosophy has nothing to do with the Indo-European invasions into the region 4500 years earlier. Such a simple myth: this is what reality is – case closed. Meanwhile the Brahman etc class system works its magic to ‘reconstruct’ the “karmic hierarchy” in Indian society.

      Most anthropologists see such mental behavior as self-serving narratives that justify social, material and sexual advantages. The Brahman, for instance, loves the social-advanrage that comes with “being a knower”. Such capacities underwrites his self-certainty i.e. he has to continue to support his self-mythology racket if he is to get what he wants.

      In my mind, cases like this show how thinking/narratives mislead, and that the truth of reality is what ramifies from physical processes i.e. what we call ‘feeling’ and ‘mind’, are these ramifications. Thinking – representations – should always be restrained in reference to how large-scale contextual events create these very feelings we are thinking from i.e. thinking is always reflective from feeling. The body is sometimes- oftentimes – wrong about what it represents.

      So, you say, “you don’t need to know”. If you feel calm and at peace with yourself, that’s great. But isn’t the formless so great that you could be wrong, and, rather than claiming you ‘don’t need to know’, that you could, in fact, come to learn something you didn’t know before, and come to appreciate/value it?

      I am not abashed to say I need. I need others to hear me; yet, If I fail in getting them to think logically, I don’t feel bad. It’s because I see my position as directly reflecting the structure of reality that I feel “if they don’t listen, someone after me will carry the baton”.

      I trust reality. It may be this trust, and love, for realities inherent goodness, that I find myself such an advocate for what kind of human self can form when we properly support what is required for a healthy development. The baby/infant is such a vulnerable creature, yet how often do we hear: “let him fall” i.e. let the baby get hurt, because it’ll “teach him”. Such cliché fails to understand what the first 2 years are about: the building up of an attachment system to a cognitive environment. If feeling isn’t protected, than when speech arises, wouldn’t the feeling formed move to the periphery/background vis-à-vis speech? Its these pernicious attitudes towards growth, which fails to understand that crying/not being attended to is entropy – inefficient development – which will become ‘closed’ with language formation around a feeling background that will be less resilient to illusory thought.

      I mention this because you can barely watch T.V/Moves without these dumb ideas intruding. They are conservative ones, but they can also be liberal; they work through ignorance and incoherent understanding of how an infants mind works. It doesn’t get that “being left to cry” is akin to “not feeling connected to the social environment”. If the social world fails to acknowledge you, how could you ever come to acknowledge the social, or, later on, the universe at large – in partnership and relationship? Seeing the metaphor across scales is deeply important.

      • To correct an idealization I made: I feel bad if people don’t listen; but I don’t fall apart: the truth (knowledge) that lives in me allows me to be resilient to negative feedback.

        Yet, I can imagine a different world. As could Peirce; and perhaps James too – who liked Peirce and financially supported him. Yet James wasn’t balanced (nor Peirce). Yet Peirce emphasized the cognitive social domain, whereas James emphasized “love”. Peirce thought James’ under-representation of the importance of socializing allowed for a non-loving way of being to emerge. For James – who raised by a father who claimed universal love, yet harmed his children – didn’t (or couldn’t, given the times) understand. His emphasis was always on matters that never allowed humans to get traction/coherency on their social selves. Peirce thought this was a destructive/misleading position to take.

        Between Peirce and James, I obviously side with Peirce. Many probably see Peirce as being more right than James, yet, I’m equally sure, many see James’ life-situation as a better representation of the needs of most elites. Hence, Menands position that the 4 people he covers – Holmes/Dewey/James/Peirce – were all equally concerned with pragmatism: what the self is doing to cope with feelings.

        Allan Schore and modern psychotherapy call this ‘affect regulation’, where higher level cognitive systems are evolved to regulate core feelings. The social environment is the ultimate context; and then after two years, the social-world is ‘internally modelled’ in the brain, where affects both predict and elicit responses from the environment – leading to the positive feedback loops we all know so well.

  12. James used to paint his sister nude. Weird? His father believed in a universal agape – with sexual love being the ideal example. His father – James father – was abusive towards James, yet at the same time subscribed to this universal love (dissociative disorder par excellent). James, whose sister name was Alice, married a woman named Alice. So, from painting his sister in the nude, to marrying a woman with the same name as his sister, to changing the name of his own child, again and again, as if that wouldn’t fuck up his internal feeling world…

    Clearly, sexual abuse messes with a persons feeling representations.

  13. Let’s keep the pedophilia discussion off this thread, please, as it’s not relevant to the OP and will only be likely to confuse people who aren’t following our previous discussions. Thanks.

    • Sorry about that. But it is, technically speaking, not completely irrelevant to psychological/neurological self-organization. If we make meaning through metaphor, as cognitive science has demonstrated, than how you think about reality cannot be treated as unrelated to core-social processes between self and other.

  14. Sorry for the poor annotation: first quote is about Holmes (and the powerful effect the civil war had on his mind); the second quote is about James; and the third about James’ dad.

    There is just such an obvious storyline that is unfortunately poorly attended to by James scholars – probably/plausibly because they subscribe to a similar/reconcilable world view.

    But its clearly there. The field of IPNB, relational psychoanalysis and traumatology have added a great deal of understanding as to WHY early-sexual abuse creates problems. Clara Mucci – borderline bodies – has some interesting theories; but the crux is really about the relationship – the non-constraining nature of it – and how the non-constraint/asymmetry of that external relationship becomes embodied as an internal asymmetry in object-relations vis-à-vis desire. Desire never gets properly regulated by the victim of sexual-abuse. This is because, quite understandably, they grow up with a supercharged libido and/or (as a different route; reality is of course capable of scaffolding many different forms of self-regulation) an autistic object-relations. That is, hyper-arousal or hypo-arousal, in trauma-lingo. This means objects – what they mean and suggest about functioning – is informationally relevant to functioning. Functioning can be made better or worse – feelings can be made more relaxed/resilient or tensed/reactive, based upon how the caregiver understands how humans work.

    A big part of my theory of human evolution is how theory – theorizing – plays a part in the process of regulating the psychological self, the physical body, and social relationships. I mentioned how mimesis is considered to be the root of our brainmind; this mimesis – as imitation – I believe, triggered a reflexive representation, or inquiry process, where the organism/human reasoned/learned that meaning/knowledge was relevant to its growth/function. Over time, this awareness dissipated such that two forms of human-being could emerge: one leaves archeological evidence of his existence, the other doesn’t. Both humans think/reason/speak. Both have knowledge. The former has coherent knowledge of social processes and “lives in the mind” i.e. what matters is the mind. Conversely, a broken/traumatized culture will scaffold bad-knowledge and bad behaviors, and in turn, its affective/motivations will be more towards the material world – hence, shamanism, complex hunter-gatherers, chiefdoms, etc, follow this lineage (Cain’s lineage, lets say). There are two logical organizations of human beings that have everything to do with the logic of self-organization in physical systems (i.e. threat/safety as embodying stability/instability). Good and evil, thus, are the obvious ‘control parameters’ in Humans, just as it is in all other animals…

    Yet humans don’t like being categorized as “just another animal”, do they? The philosopher Karen Seymour (Natural Metaphor) see’s all of reality as a metaphor of eternal being. I agree with her. In this sense, the animals/forms around us are the gradations of being that ascend from the natural world, becoming ‘complete’ in its logic, or search for coherency (i.e. safety) in human beings (homo sapiens). We share the universe with other beings. These beings may be metaphorically ‘akin’ to us, but they are not, in fact, “us”. They have an existence quite their own. I find Jason W. Brown type positions to be overly anthropocentric – to make reality about ‘humans’ – as if it were just a function of our feelings made physical (which is incompatible with the logic of evolution). Yet, doesn’t trauma make people egocentric? Ergo, wouldn’t a traumatized mind still be metaphorically driven by a desire to place humans – us – front and center? I am not ‘nature-centric’ either, but believe, once again, that there is a complementarity between the intrinsic ego-centric nature of our minds, and the “otherness” of the Universe around us; unpredictable, too vast to be held in our minds: hence why it is astonishes us, rivets us, and enlivens us with wonder. Science (as represented by Popper) seeks this balance between a human-centric world (as created by anthropological dynamics) and a natural world, with a partial – and not complete – overlap.

    Mystics who believe in a complete overlap between mind and reality evidently feel no qualms about murdering other humans. After all, what are they but “images of the same Self”? Is this not the obvious logic of Nazis or Islamists or white-supremacists? They are all instances of the same traumatological thinking. My mind = reality. Such an idiot will learn first-hand what “karma” means and why it is the law of balance: there are no free lunches.

    Yet the mystic/maniac evidently believes death is the end; as if the wondrous nature of existence didn’t hold some penalty to the aggrandizer who fails to function harmoniously with his own teleodynamisn (built in the biology of love).

  15. To readers who wish to join the Dave event: once you have signed up, you should receive an email request from Dave for some info about yourself; be sure & respond to that, in order to let Dave know a bit about who you are & where you come from.

    Thanks!

Leave a Comment