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Life – Consciousness

The weakness and imperfection of the alternative movements of the 'new age'

An age of crises and re-orientations. Will we replace the idols of ourselves and of others with new ones or will we, at last, be liberated from the primordial psychology of an attachment to them? Why did the achievement of the sense of unity prove to be such a difficult task? What are the social consequences of the attachment of the self to yet another role and is this role more subtle than others?

From fascination, the idol and divisiveness to distinction, recognition and approach

One of the most fundamental problems to have been highlighted anthropologically, historically and culturally is the problem of the identification and attachment of man to forms, above all the form of the self. Around the image of the self a continuous effort at confirmation is built, a phantasmagoria and a theatrical plot in which the actor is affirmed by his role and not by his self.

As the 'emperor does not wish to be naked', the problem is located in the fact that, although, on the one hand, he identified with his 'clothes', on the other, a number of other people – in the form of an organisation – do not see the 'emperor naked' but 'dressed'. This is a decisive double attachment of the actor and the viewer. Thus, despite all their expressive theatrical exploits, even actors, people of the theatre, cinema and the spectacle – and that includes singers – are unable to live the discrepancy and incompatibility of the self and the 'being', as they surrender themselves  to the power of their cachet as people of the spectacle, image and the idol.

Sense of unity and the fascination of idols

Charm lies in the power exercised by the idol, although not by the idol itself but by our identification with it.  The charm of idols has been so strong that even with schools that had a long duration, such as Platonism and Stoicism, as well, correspondingly, as the more profound monastic orders of the West and the East, an exaggerated emphasis was laid upon the achievement of the sense of unity to the detriment of conceptual issues.

However, despite all the ease that appeared with the rhetorical approach to the sense of unity, in practice it proved to be exceptionally difficult for both psychological and social reasons; effectively, in other words, for reasons of theatre in which two factors play a decisive role: the altered states of the mind and the element of time.  Beyond these undertakings, however, other ventures failed for a specific reason as all resorted to an underdevelopment of the mind. This happened for two reasons:

a. the mind, up to a certain point of its development, tends to distinguish things and this highlights issues of the property and quality which reveal differentiation and, consequently, which may stoke divisiveness.

b. mental completion would lead to the collapse of inner identification with the form and the fascination as regards the image of our own self and within us, as well as in relation to the environment and society. For this reason, and deliberately – even subconsciously – mental completion was not chosen.

From this stance of the consciousness, an 'enmity towards meaning' is revealed, which is expressed more through religion but, also through animistic, shamanistic and magical simplistic approaches and less through philosophy.  Thus, and despite the attempts to achieve the sense of unity, the identification with the mental forms of simplicities was not avoided. By contrast, fascination and the illusion of authority, spiritual, psychic and psychological demagogy were cultivated, in the sense of the perversion of the spirit and soul in the field of human communication and organisation.

As a result, organisations were produced that were founded upon the basis of a simplistic attitude, an imitation, towards the simple or a 'peace that exceeds the mind', and not on the 'conceptual concern' or that 'attachment to abstract thought' – as Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel would say – which would destroy and crush the selfishness in the daily lives of humans and peoples.

Conceptual concern was the fundamental undertaking of the Enlightenment, which unfortunately, however, was connected to phenomenological underdevelopment, as we can see today. It was connected, that is, with the reduced self-referentiality and self-awareness of the conscience – if we define the whole phenomenon with the phenomenology of Edmund Husserl.[1] From this deficit and problem arises the materialistic phenomenalism of the Enlightenment.

It was in this way that the gnosiological and epistemological process was developed and polarised, in terms, on the one hand, of a usurping economic self-interest and, on the other, in terms of a materialism. The space for the representation of the spirit was left to the aspects of simplicity and refusal of the discriminating capacity of the mind, essentially broadening the horizons of the 'sin of the mindless' and self-interested desire.

Sense of unity and apathy to the attraction of idols

The reference to the spirit, the soul and the transcendental being is done through a reflective, linguistic, dialectical and experiential deprivation and theatrical fascination. Hence, all these charlatan 'emperors of the new age', which is thus anything but new as it is filled with yesterday’s contradictions and driven by an obsessive hilarity of self-confidence. They forget teachings, such as that of Krishnamurti on doubt:

“Doubt is as a precious ointment: though it burns, it shall heal greatly”, “If doubt unconsciously insinuates itself into your heart, it will not purify it. You can only purify it by deliberately inviting doubt.” [2]

This psychoanalytical and compulsive, in the last analysis, narcissism has proved to be comfortingly catalytic to many. We must thus always be well-disposed to all those who seek to act as exponents of unity.

However, recognition of unity must be based on a deep process of distinction that will have been cultivated within a regime of apathy towards the demands of self-interestedness. Apathy is also experienced intensively as the 'Dark Night of the Soul' and this distinction is distinguished and confirmed in evolutionary fashion in the field of conceptual, existential and transcendental concern.

Theoretically, evolution is open to new principles and new qualities – as new as is the total human consciousness as a completely inconceivable level for a cerebral neuron – with the result that a team spirit is required, as well as a dialectical, evolutionary, experiential and reflective or insightful process. Thus an intuitive process of evolution, invocative and expressive, will start to be created for these new principles, qualities, affinities and evolutionary approaches, which will have to be developed at some point in the linguistic field as a new linguistic culture.

At the same time, however, in the field of the mentors of alternative culture, there reigns a linguistic poverty and an inability for honesty and a self-critical approach, which is supplanted both by an audacity towards otherness and an aggressiveness that expresses the "anger of the alienated or the evil which understands precisely what is good but because it knows it cannot easily reach it, hates it and at the same time imitates it," – as Pascal might have said.

Of course, in the area of alternative culture, as in all other areas such as in the area of global thought or global thinkers, in the area of 'social and economic sciences', of politics and religion, there reigns an inflation that is consumed on its narcissism, through the involutional mass culture of the society of spectacle.

Here we must admit that the image has an advantage in terms of its ease, its action. This is a slackness towards consciousness and it is for this reason that the society of spectacle rules. In reality, however, a current of 'thought' is debunked, which had attempted to b elevated to the level of spiritual and cultural mentor through the inanity of the form, such as, for example, often happened in the arts[3] or through the nomenclature which functioned as a decor to mass spectacle.

The stagflation of idols and fascination

At this moment, in the world of the spiritual and of psychological expression, we find ourselves in a generalised inflationary gap, within a 'liquidity trap' to use the terms of economic theory – and within a destructive and disintegrating 'stagflation'.

For example, although there is, on the one hand, a mass impression and a summons to the whole and to synthesis – and there are processes outstanding – interest is focused on to what extent these reference each other; and here I will mention at least two thinkers concerned with the meaning of totality, Emmanuel Levinas and Kostas Axelos.

Even worse, there are no deep processes of synthesis. What is, for example, the synthesis between the economy and philosophy? We say this bearing philosophy in mind in its general field and posing the question as to what extent it can function as a field of isomorphic equivalences with the economy. We are not talking, that is, of a philosophy of economy or of a philosophy analogous to education, but of a generalised theory, a generalised synthesis and supervision of the cognitive field.

Moreover, we observe that, ultimately, those active in the new age trends have an exceptionally tenuous approach to issues of economic reality and tragic character of it. They may have a greater awareness of environmental issues but their approaches are ineffective in terms of their suggestions. At the same time, on a mass level, there is no conducive recognition of their contribution and the masses trap themselves into 'Warhol'-type political representation. In short, all politicians become famous for a period and are then led once more into historical nothingness.

Moreover, the consciousness that is annoyed by thought and reflection, the consciousness that does not wish to seek and significantly to weaken the fear of death – even a deep affirmation and acquiescence towards totality and existence – is an 'annoyed' consciousness, an 'irritated consciousness', an 'annoyed identity' as a result of otherness, an 'irritated identity'.

Irritation and censure are the key elements in the underdevelopment of our consciousness. The matter lies in to what extent we reveal, on the one hand, all this tragedy of ours to ourselves and to others – not only that of others but our own – and at the same time, on the other hand, to what extent we are in a position to transcend criticism and to operate, as Walt Whitman would have said, “not only with the persuasiveness of action but as presences”, everywhere recognising the presence, the existence within life, movement and the existence that constitutes the limit, at least as conceived by our consciousness.

The achievement of caring and the mean

Through apathy and according to the course of caring and the mean, or the 'noble middle path', we proceed towards discrimination and from discrimination to detachment, where this suggests abstraction; or, otherwise, starting from the individuality and individualisation, we proceed towards initiatory and transcendental decentralisation and identification with it.

This means our readiness to recognise in every otherness its value in terms of discrimination, through our own capacity for abstraction, detachment and desire for good. There is a necessity here to determine that the good is chosen as an expression of freedom and true power, beyond alienation.

In this way, the Socratic 'no one is voluntarily wicked' is confirmed, as is the determination of the relationship between the good and the omnipotence of the god of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who characteristically said:

"The supremely great Being, because He is supremely powerful, ought also to be supremely just. Otherwise he would contradict Himself; for the love of order which produces order is called goodness, and the love of order which preserves order is called justice." [4]

A being that does not suffer from 'spiritual insecurity', who feels sufficiently powerful spiritually, will not function according to the terms of divisiveness and alienation, will not function according to the terms of harm and lack of discretion.

We have made mention elsewhere of moral and logical hazard[5] in the economy, in politics and in every aspect of the organisation of life and we have now come to the fundamental points to be addressed in this respect, with the accomplishment of caring and the mean.

We also note the particular emphasis placed on the mean by patristic thought. It is this which liberates us into true free time, into harmless free time or free time without 'akedia' (negligence) – to recall John Climacus, or Sinaites, in his comments on akedia. [6]

Such a completion of consciousness leads truly to the homo universalis, a term that has been so abused, as there have been few who have deserved it, it leads to a Cosmic Agent, to a planetary thinker and visionary, within a horizon of sustainable innovation.

In this direction we will agree with Aurobindo, who introduced the need for an expression of a principle that he calls the 'Supermind', through the mind of life and nature in the world, through processes that develop the knowable and express the spiritual.

Undoubtedly, such an undertaking would be incredibly difficult, because – as we said at the start – it is continuously exposed to variability, to the effect of time or to that which certain approaches of evolutionary effort, such as that of the Indian wise man Patanjali, call 'altered states of the mind'.

[1] The phenomenologist philosopher Husserl criticised Galileo that the attachment to the 'geometric model of nature' was 'fateful' for the scientists of his age as it swayed them into ignoring the 'primary source', that is, the intuitive inner world, through which "the objective world draws its meaning'.
[2] Krishnamurti, Jiddu, Life in Freedom, (Ommen, 1928), pp. 70 and 92.
[3] Picasso, Pablo, "Picasso Speaks" in The Arts Magazine (New York, May 1923)   "From the moment that art is no longer the sustenance that nourishes the best, the artist may exteriorize his talent in all sorts of experiments with new formulas, in endless caprices and fancy, in all the expedients of intellectual charlatanism. In the arts, people no longer seek consolation, nor exaltation. But the refined, the rich, the indolent, distillers of quintessence seek the new, the unusual, the original, the extravagant, the shocking. And I, since cubism and beyond, I have satisfied these gentlemen and these critics with all the various whims which have entered my head, and the less they understood them, the more they admired. By amusing myself at these games, at all these tomfooleries, at all these brain-busters, riddles and arabesques, I became famous quite rapidly. And celebrity means for a painter: sales increment, money, wealth. "Today, as you know, I am famous and very rich. But when completely alone with myself, I haven't the nerve to consider myself an artist in the great and ancient sense of the word. There have been great painters like Giotto, Titian, Rembrandt and Goya. I am only a public entertainer who has understood his time.
This is a bitter confession, mine, more painful indeed than it may seem, but it has the merit of being sincere."
[4] Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, Émile, NewVision Publications, p. 258.
[6] Saint John of Sinai, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, 1997, Parakletos Monastery, p. 192 [Greek edition].

Ioannis Zisis, Writer

Photo from Wikimedia

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