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Life – Consciousness

10nhbA text by Ioannis Zisis
1. Overall Simplicity transforms life within the Spirit of the Infinite, it is the Fire of Freedom.
(Extract from Ioannis Zisis's book The Path of the Spirit)
Commentary by Ioanna Moutsopoulou
We have three foundation concepts/ideas: Simplicity, the Infinite, and Freedom.

'Simplicity' is a misunderstood concept, and is usually taken to be the noun from 'simplistic'. The boundaries between them are difficult to discern and strict spiritual criteria are required for a conceptual approach to it to be made. But the term 'spiritual' is also misunderstood and is usually thought to cover any external concern with what is likely to be termed 'spiritual', regardless of whether this is really so and of whether this concern manifests experiential identification.
For example, if Plato is regarded as a spiritual individual, it is thought that anyone who reads his texts, or, even, admires him, is himself a spiritual individual.

The truth, however, could be different: the admirer could profess precisely the opposite of what Plato professed. This happens mainly because the motive for the admiration can be non-spiritual, or the admirer could simply be deficient in terms of consciousness.

But let us come to simplicity, and let us attempt to make out its nature. Simplicity cannot in any circumstances mean an accumulation of idols, whether these are material or non-material goods. Any accumulation of idols is an obstacle to simplicity. But what, then, does simplicity mean? An emptiness and a vanity in the creative processes of life? In no circumstances could it mean anything of the sort.
Simplicity is reduction - since it cannot be accumulation. Reduction, here, has nothing to do with the void perceived by human apprehension, but with the transcendence which is the cause of every manifestation. Transcendence is what overlies idols/forms, however big these are, and, precisely for that reason, it is their cause - that which contains them all as potentiality.
It is not, however, a calculable entity, moving among the host of forms, just as, to use an analogy, man does not calculate the sum of his cells in order to feel that he is a man. In this case, and in relation to his body, there is in his consciousness a containing simplicity, which is his - albeit supposed - identity - that self-awareness which in the end operates independently of the complexity of the body, but also of its complex psychological conflicts.
Simplicity of every level of consciousness leads inevitably to another overlying and greater simplicity, because of its very nature it ceases to concentrate on the forms of some level which up till then had been attracting its attention. The problem with the consumer society is its fixation on material goods, on which the definition of human identity in terms of strength is dependent. This strength, resting on a void as divisiveness and power, can only give rise to labyrinthine differentiations, with the innumerable barriers which it sets up between beings, and regards this inaccessible simplicity, which is profound knowledge, as simplistic - that is, lack of knowledge.

Therefore, Overall Simplicity of the Being is that greater transcendence, abstraction, which is BEING and is the cause of created things. The Infinite can only be its spirit. The infinite, naturally, is not another summation of material and non-material forms. If that were the case, it would not be infinite, but simply something incalculably big. The infinite - however large its manifestation is - is not a form of any kind. It is 'absolute' simplicity, it is complete transcendence or abstraction, it is the creative cause. In reality, abstraction must cease to be regarded as non-being and be seen now as an ontological presence.

This is likely to call forth in any consciousness a depressing sense of the Whole, the sense of an overwhelming magnitude or quality which deprives man of freedom and the warmth of the familiarity of his world. Even only as a magnitude, the infinite can cause excessive pressure, and then the assumed existence of a void and the infinite as an idol allow man to have the illusion that he can be entrenched in his own world and that distance itself (a void), which causes vertigo, can at the same time be a factor for his protection, through alienation.

Here what is required is a subsequent effort to clarify the concepts, so that we are able to unwind this thread, to the extent of our abilities, which perhaps will be able to lead us to a happier understanding of the self and of life.

Does the void really protect?  Could it be that this protection lies in the fact that the supposed void permits individuality to self-define itself clearly, without diffusion, and could it also be an obstacle to the distant signs of otherness, so that these do not come close, just as, for example, the oceans prevent the wild beasts of one continent from crossing to another?

In order to answer these questions we should, of course, develop at length the concept of unity or synthesis, as well as those of wholeness and individuality (which is something that ought to form the subject of a separate book). Very briefly, however, we can arrive at some principles which rebut these fundamental fears of man.

The great problem lies in the apprehension of the relation of Wholeness as Being with individuality. Wholeness as Being (and not as an idol or representation) cannot serve as a factor of power since there is nothing beyond it to have power over, and therefore it does not rob individuality of freedom. And this is because Wholeness also permeates individuality; otherwise it would as if it were taking it away from Itself. In this way the relation which Rousseau renders as identification of the Good and the All-Powerful in Divinity becomes apparent. It is exactly at this point that the thought of Meister Eckhart on the need which God has for man and the world converges, and it is on the same basis that the thinking of the Isa Upanishad and the outstanding interpretation by Sri Aurobindo turns where freedom is also vital in its relation with the Good and Being in the dialectic of unity and synthesis, in the relation between individuality and wholeness.
The desideratum here is to define the nature of this freedom in itself, in order that we should understand whether what man means by this term is really freedom or a fantasy of it.
Let us start out from wholeness and its relation with freedom. In our apprehension, wholeness as something abstract, because of our inadequacy, may take on an inexorable form. Without understanding, unity, and brotherhood with the world, wholeness may become the perfect pretext for the exercise of power. The two poles balance one another and are not qualitative, but express an attribute:

Individuality ------------------  personalism
Wholeness -------------------- transcendentalism

But how is it possible for the freedom of wholeness to leave room also for individual freedom? Wholeness has inconceivably greater power than individuality, even if this individuality were a whole planet. Wherein does freedom lie? Is it an acquis of man?

It lies precisely in wholeness itself. It is not something which man wins by abstracting it from wholeness since this is impossible. It is the Wholeness itself, simplicity, or the infinite which exists everywhere (and therefore in us, but not only where our apprehension extends to). Because this is the greatest simplicity, or, otherwise expressed, abstraction, because it is not an idol or representation - even if ennobled - for this reason, its nature is undivided (that is, it is synthesis or unity, it is the Indwelling] of the Whole) and it is not even able to take away freedom from anywhere, because it is the only one that exists. If it were able to do something of the sort, it would not be wholeness or transcendence or simplicity, but simply something strong and competitive with other othernesses, that is, an idol or form, something which presupposes the existence of a void.

The fact that it cannot be competitive does not mean some impotence, but, on the contrary, this constitutes the greatest capability and freedom and is the recognition of a constant transcendental cohesiveness which surpasses any reference to substance dividing into space and time. In this case, freedom is of such a nature that it cannot be an idol of power and enforcement, since Being is not an idol. But human apprehension is unable experientially to approach such a way of looking at things, even when it approaches it to some extent intellectually.

Another point which requires clarification is if the need for idols is a part of consciousness, and for that reason, in every apprehension, even that of abstraction, there must be its transcendence, so that abstraction does not become an idol. There are many contradictions present in this need, but we are unable to perceive and handle them because we cannot evade the concept of the void and of substance.

It is, then, in this sui generis relation of the Whole with the part that the freedom of man lies. But this is not freedom from his true self, because freedom cannot be absurd and chaotic. Desire is a ghost of freedom and will. And up to now man has understood by freedom the satisfaction of his desire. But no one can escape from his self, and for that reason it is necessary to define it. The Self is existence and not non-existence. And existence and non-existence are not dualistic concepts, because if it were so the one would preclude the other.
Dualism, in reality, means complementariness, co-existence, antithesis, form, but not exclusivity, in spite of the fact that the parts attempt an impossible exclusivity when they are competitive.
As far as we are concerned, to the extent that we are a form, we are not wholeness. Thus individuality as personalism is necessary so that the abstract should not be denial of the world, or a means of enforcement, or an idol. Furthermore, such a denial on the part of a supposed 'abstraction' would mean dualism, divisiveness, and idolisation, because it would idolise abstraction into a form which would be - at least - the denial of form. Only as form we are not wholeness, because wholeness is universal, since it is overall simplicity, it is the infinite located inside and outside forms. This unitariness of Being is true freedom and from this emanates the true self.

Consequently, freedom is a concept synonymous with overall simplicity, the infinite, wholeness in the above sense, with abstraction or transcendence. Of course, true freedom, as generative of or stemming from or concurrent with the above attributes cannot be conceived in practical terms and this would have no importance for us, because it cannot penetrate our consciousness, nor can it play any role in the shaping  of our life and responsibility. Perhaps the only thing that can be attempted is the setting aside of our distorted perceptions of it and an approach to certain new facets which can become in the future of mankind creative factors for exceptional developments on the planet.

To sum up, however: we must point out something important in connection with the fear with which we regard abstraction, transcendence, and the infinite. The truth is that scarcely anyone can escape from this overwhelming psychological pressure caused by the contemplation of simplicity and the infinite. We regard the infinite as something which is far distant from us, and therefore alien. As such we look upon the vast distances is space and in time, forgetting that the infinite is not the void which we think it is,  nor is it distance as we think of  it. The nature of distance is unknown, even though we usually think of it as the void interpolated between the different forms. However, this is not compatible with the nature of the infinite, because this is all things in space and time, and outside space-time. Consequently, the infinite is not distant from us - quite the opposite. Abstraction / transcendence or the infinite itself as non-power (it is not power because it is truly freedom) cannot be other than absolute Unity, or Synthesis, because of the unbroken unitariness of its nature. For precisely this reason, there is inherent within it what we can, in our own world of consciousness, translate as love, presence without a void, caring understanding, and non-existence of distances as at least we perceive them.

But this love is not love of the sentimental type, which of its nature presupposes idols and a void, but is an overwhelming certainty on our part of unified / integral existence. This is absolute familiarity, whereas the apprehension of our individuality as absolutely separate leaves no margins for a sense of this familiarity.

There is a tragic contradiction in human consciousness: individuality has been structured with the element of fear, and fear itself seeks familiarity, so that human beings 'should not fear', but at the same time it rejects it in order to hang on to their absolute separateness. This separateness, however, is baseless. In reality, it is a fantasy, because all the world is a relationship and balance between the Whole and the part. Without the Whole there is not a thing, and the Whole expresses its 'self' by means of the part, given that expression can only be less than its creator, in the sense that the Creator is the created thing, and much beyond that.

The basis of the tragic element in our apprehension lies in the fact that we approach the world through our refractive divisiveness, which is the underdevelopment of a consciousness, self-restricted to its idols of fantasy.

Thus overall simplicity truly leads to the infinite and to freedom.

Text: Ioannis Zisis, writer
Commentary: Ioanna Moutsopoulou, lawyer

Photo from wikimedia

For further reading:
- Introductory Note to the Path of the Spirit
- The Path of the Spirit II

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