A Critique of Rugged Individualism

Source: Curtis, Edward S. Indian Days of the Long Ago. Yonkers-on-Hudson: World Book Company, 1915. Page 84.
We think of ourselves as rugged individuals, in true Western form. We see ourselves as Egos encapsulated in earth-suits we call bodies. But we who have studied analytical and archetypal psychology know this is not true. Each one of us is composed of many Persons. Carl Jung called the process, whereby we integrate these Persons into a holistic Self, individuation. James Hillman advocated for allowing these Persons to remain fragmented in a circumferential multiplicity, thus preserving the supposedly polytheistic nature of human being. The idea of archetypes also includes the notion that we are not only many Persons, but many Beings, both human and non-human. We all carry the Microcosm within ourselves and this world does not contain only human beings.

Hillman attributes the desire to integrate into a central Self to the “monotheism of consciousness:”

…when the monotheism of consciousness is no longer able to deny the existence of fragmentary autonomous systems and no longer able to deal with our actual psychic state, then there arises the fantasy of returning to Greek polytheism” (Hillman, Re-Visioning Psychology, p.27).

We carry multiple Beings in our Souls because we carry each other and the world. The archetypes are all of us, all the myriad types and styles of Beings that compose our world, human and non-human. We really are the world and the world is us. The idea that we must integrate into a central and strictly human Self seems to be a desire to retain the Western sense of individuality and Ego, and the attitude of superiority of human over non-human.

The sense of individuality we possess  makes us susceptible to denying the sense of self to non-human beings:

For individuals in industrialized society, the sense of self is felt to be and understood to exist within the confines of that person. Further, the only beings that are assumed to possess this sort of subjectivity are humans; other beings, lacking this subjectivity, become an other and as such, are of lesser value. Moreover, any point of view which does understand nonhuman beings as possessing an individual self charged with spirit, soul and intelligence is dismissively accused of animism or of anthropomorphizing the outer world. Animism is defined by Freud as nothing but the projection of primitive man’s emotional impulses. As a result of that sweeping assumption, the whole of the highly complex, sensuous and intelligent natural world is reduced to mindless things, blank screens. But by declaring ourselves the only beings with intelligence and a sense of self, we have, in many ways, placed ourselves in a vulnerable position (Rocky Greene, What does the Individuation Process have to do with the Earth?).

This planet is not important just because humans live here, but because Life and Soul are here in all Beings. Many previous cultures have recognized and accepted this fact. Western society, in our emphasis on rugged individualism, i.e. self-absorption, have denied the sense of self and individuality to non-human animals. This will change in the Epoch of Soul.

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A Fear of Icy Death

Sleep and Death carrying away Sarpedon of Lycia, by Füssli, Johann Heinrich

You people, dismayed by fear of icy death, why are you terrified by the Styx, by shadows and empty names, the stuff of poets’ tales, by the dangers of a world that doesn’t exist? Our bodies, whether destroyed by the flames of the funeral pyre, or by slow decay, do not feel any suffering. Our souls are immortal and are ever received into new homes, where they live and dwell, when they have left their previous abode. All things change, but nothing dies (Ovid, Metamorphoses, 153-9, and 165).

The fear of death is one of the most tragic consequences of being human in this imperfect world. For many of us, it gnaws at the very fiber of our being throughout our lives, especially if we have lost loved ones close to us. Empirically, there is such a sense of finality that the suffering is sometimes overwhelming and interminable. We, however, have been deceived by those who wish to control us and manipulate us. We have not been given the appropriate teaching, which had been handed down for millennia, from our ancestors. In fact, the brutalizing fear of death we experience today  is a product, for the most part, of the last two thousand years of Christian domination. In their maniacal zeal to wipe out thousands of years of religious and mystical traditions, the Church Fathers demonized teachings on death in order to have a more controlling effect upon the social order.

By now, we are very aware that, in an animaterialistic worldview, all matter is dynamic and full of activity. The Soul that infuses each of us is the same Soul that infuses the entire universe. It is no less a part of us than it is a part of our vast, infinite cosmos. Soul stands as the Metaxy, the bridge to the divine for all animaterial creatures. We build our soul-houses by daily becoming more aware of Soul. This comes by learning to think mythologically and utilizing imagination instead of focusing on Aristotelian logic. Nature is our classroom in which Soul has many things to show us. All forms in Nature are symbols for us to assimilate until they permeate our animaterial bodies.

It is an insult to Soul to believe all of this activity, this dynamism, just ceases at the point of death. For what is it to die, except that we pass from one form to another? It is Ego that deceives us into thinking we will pass into a state of final annihilation, or that we will escape to a Shanghai-La mode of existence somewhere in the clouds.

It is a great mystery what occurs after death, but, for thousands of years, humanity has believed in some form of reincarnation. I would say it occurs thusly: a person who has been engaged in the business of Soul-making has striven for many years to become more aware of Soul. This person “dies,” with a great deal of Soul-consciousness, but the soul-house, which I believe is inherent in the animaterial structure of the body, get redistributed in the universe. Thus, the awareness of Soul continues to grow, albeit in another animaterial form. From this, it may be deduced that there is an element of time involved, whereby such awareness grows to a point of overabundance. Perhaps this is where an idea of linearity may be inserted into the cosmic scheme of things.

Some cultures call sleeping “the little death.” Sleep and death are closely intertwined in Greek mythology.

Sleep and death are brothers, according to the old Greek proverb. However, they are not merely brothers, born of the same fabric of human consciousness, but are in all verity one, identical. Death is a perfect sleep, with its interim awakenings of a kind, such as in the devachan, and a full human awakening in the succeeding reincarnation. Sleep is an imperfect fulfillment of death, nature’s prophecy of the future death. Nightly we sleep, and therefore nightly we partially die. Indeed, one may go still farther and say that sleep and death and all the various processes and realizations of initiation are but different phases or operations of consciousness, varied forms of the same fundamental thing. Sleep is largely an automatic functioning of the human consciousness; death is the same, but in immensely greater degree, and is a necessary habit of the consciousness in order that it may gain for the psychological part of the constitution a resting and an assimilation of experience ( Sleep and Death are Brothers, by G. de Purucker).

Sleep is preparing us, nightly, for the death experience. This is a most curious statement to the literal-minded masses, but it is the most profound truth. Death is encountered within oneself on a nightly basis. We would not know life if not for death. The goal of life is death, but death is not a telos. We build our death-vessel night by night. Within us, there are laborers toiling, hammering, nailing, constructing, tearing down, rebuilding. This is an ongoing phenomenon, night after night, year after year. We do not begin to “get our house in order” at the point of death, but at birth.

Death is not our enemy, but simply another experience of the human condition. Where did we get this idea in Western culture that death is an enemy? The Apostle Paul bequeathed it to Christianity, influencing many later Western thinkers. Paul said,

The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death (1 Corinthians 15:26).

As many things in the West have been cloven asunder by repressing one pole or another of reality, so too, turning away from the death experience in Christianity has resulted in an imbalance in the human condition. This gave birth to the heroic Ego, the quintessential archetype of Western man. An overemphasis on light, life, joy, happiness, feeling good, etc. has driven many to madness and destruction. Acquainting oneself with one’s impending death is a necessity to being fully alive. Memento Mori.

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Ubiquitous Soul

Fonte des neiges à l’Estaque, by Paul Cezanne

…the soul, in its power, is present in some way in the entire universe, because it apprehends substances which are not included in the body in which it lives, although they are related to it. Thus, if certain impediments are excluded, the soul has an immediate and sudden presence with the most distant things, which are not joined to it by any motion, which nobody would deny, but rather are directly present in a certain sense (Giordano Bruno, Cause, Principle, and Unity).

The reason why Bruno taught that the infinite universe is homogeneous is because Soul is homogeneous throughout. The same Soul that permeates all animatter is the same Soul that permeates all of us. We are animatter personified. The Soul, Bruno tells us, “is no less present in one part than in the whole, nor in the whole less than one part” (ibid.). Referring to this statement, Bruno reveals the crux of what I call, Animaterialism:

This is the most important and most fundamental of all the principles which provide an explanation of the marvels found in nature; namely, that because of the active principle and spirit or universal soul, nothing is so incomplete, defective or imperfect, or, according to common opinion, so completely insignificant that it could not become the source of great events” (ibid.).

Notice that Bruno does not distinguish between Soul and Spirit. It is one Unity that animates our entire infinite universe. So, take heart, all you who feel you are insignificant and unworthy of great things. You are permeated with the same power that brought forth all things into existence. 

This is what the rulers of the world do not want you to know. They want to know it for themselves in order to retain what they have been given, but the secrets are leaking out. Our generation is discovering the truth about Nature and our place in it. No longer can they lie to us and tell us that one race is superior to another, that one nation or people is more worthy of blessings. These lies have been told for millennia to keep us warring with each other in order to keep us in the dark and under control.

The Epoch of Soul is upon us because of the incredible means of communication we enjoy in this age. This is a revolution of Universal Soul, not of violence. Involutionary consciousness will only occur if we allow ourselves to whirl within the Maelstrom. It is a choice. The Maelstrom interpenetrates every particle of our being and the entire universe, but it is up to us, as sentient entities, to add love and will to the vortical mix.

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Transhumanist Machine?

Let an ultraintelligent machine be defined as a machine
that can far surpass all the intellectual activities of any man however
clever. Since the design of machines is one of these intellectual
activities, an ultraintelligent machine could design even better
machines; there would then unquestionably be an ‘intelligence
explosion,’ and the intelligence of man would be left far behind. Thus
the first ultraintelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever make, provided that the machine is docile enough to tell us how to keep it under control (I. J. Good, Advances in Computers, 6, “Speculations Concerning the First Ultraintelligent Machine”, pp. 31‒88, 1965).

From what I’ve read so far about Transhumanism, the movement seems to be obsessed with escaping being human, as if that were something undesirable. Certainly, we humans have our problems, but that is simply Nature unfolding as She is meant to. I think the Transhumanism movement is just another attempt at transcendence of this world and what it means for us to be connected to this world and universe.

We have been lied to for thousands of years as to who we are. The Christians and pessimist Gnostics ingrained into us that we were sick with sin, corrupt, dirty, and in need of salvation; that all matter in the universe is defiled in some way and also in need of a savior. These days, we are told matter is dead and lifeless and that there is no Spirit, no Soul in anything. Why don’t they want us to know the truth?

All attempts at transcendence seem to me to be a form of escapism. What are we running from? Sure, this world isn’t easy, but it is ours. As if being human was unsatisfactory in some way, transhumanists look to science and technology to lift them out of their very human bodies and make them “more than human,” like some super heroes we watch at the movies.

Isn’t the this desire just another example of the Western Ego run amok? I’ll be the first to admit that technology has greatly improved our lives in some ways, but I would argue that some technology has harmed both us and our planet. Technology is not a panacea. It should be a tool we use to improve the lives of the billions who live on this planet. It should never be used to harm them.

The Transhumanism myth is another story, just another myth. It derives from the collective unconscious, as do all collective mythologies. And as with all such stories, we should attempt to examine it in a mythopoeic fashion. A few comments on some transhumanist points:

1) One goal of transhumanists is life extension. The attempt to live forever has been a dream of humanity for many millenia. Why do so many myths carry this theme? Could it simply be that we already live forever due to the fact that death is merely transition from one form to another? But we repress this and believe, instead, that life ends at death, or that when we die, we pass to a transcendent world, escaping the earth for eternity. This is simple denial that we are already infinite beings who change form occasionally. They are so attached to their particular bodies because they allow Ego to rule them instead of understanding that we are connected to all things.

2) Colonization of Space: This is another heaven quest, another attempt to transcend, another Utopian trip. I’m not saying we shouldn’t do it someday because we’re interconnected with the entire universe anyway, but it will never be a Utopia.

3) Designer Babies: What is this part of the story telling us? We should genetically design our own children to be what? Rich, smart, successful? Won’t everyone want that for their children? But who will get it? Only the privileged few who can afford it, thereby setting up yet another caste system, another disjointed, fragmented excuse for humanity. I think such concepts are harmful to humanity because they continue to promote the transcendent and hierarchical model that has wreaked such havoc on our world. If our paradigm is not one of rhizomal and immanent thought, our future will be bleak, indeed.

There are some good ideas in Transhumanism. The use of technology to improve our lives is wonderful. To heal the sick and suffering, feed the hungry, provide for the destitute, these are the ideas that have always led humanity to its ultimate potential. If these values could be preserved, that would be wonderful. But I fear these values have already been laid aside by those who wish to transcend this world and humanity.

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Animaterialist Ethics

The Golden Gate, by Albert Bierstadt

If we believe the universe is a living organic reality, and all things are interconnected, the way we treat all creatures will be affected. Our current milieu, being based on a dualistic materialistic capitalism, acts toward all things with one thing in mind: profit. Its most vocal proponents pay lip service to the Jesus of the Gospels. But the Jesus of the Gospels wanted nothing to do with those who greedily manipulated the people. He spoke out against it time and time again. We should too. If we are related to each other and to all things, as we are, animaterialism necessarily infers we treat all things with lovingkindness, respect, empathy, and magnanimity.

One example of how our current capitalistic culture is bringing great harm to our world is in the area of health care. It is a business for profit; not just a “fair” profit, but tremendous profit! In an animaterialist worldview, it is ethically and morally wrong. It is an assault on humanity! Millions of people have their already meager incomes and savings threatened on a daily basis by something as simple as seeing their doctor and having a few tests. Many of today’s health care insurance plans pay very little toward anything, it seems. This is done all in the name of a small number of privileged individuals getting rich at the expense of others. It is wrong, plain and simple.

Capitalism is based on a deeply fragmented worldview, where the haves rule over the have-nots. There is a yawning abyss between the two. It is hierarchical, and thus anti-immanence. It is mostly patriarchal, where women are paid much less than men. The upper class rules the lower class and what’s left of the middle class. Capitalists see Nature as something to be exploited for profit, therefore it is perfectly fine to drill for oil anywhere and everywhere; it is perfectly fine to pollute our oceans; it is perfectly fine to pump toxins into the atmosphere, as long as the corporations continue to make a profit. It is wrong, plain and simple.

I don’t know yet what an animaterialist politics would be like. Socialism has failed so far to make any progress in the battle for ethical treatment of Nature and its creatures. I don’t really think the answer lies in politics, but in a particular mode of consciousness. A majority of people must come to a certain awareness concerning the universe and how it should be treated. This will come with the next evolutionary leap of awareness.

Typically, we think that humans will be the only creatures that will enjoy such a leap of consciousness. I think all things will increase their modes of consciousness. If all things are interconnected, why should everything but humans be omitted from such blessing?

Animaterialist ethics views all things as possessing value. We are laterally interconnected; we grow toward each other. We respect each other. We do not seek to take advantage of each other, and we certainly do not seek to profit financially from each other.

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Animaterialist Consciousness, Part II

Keep in mind, as we proceed, the distinction discussed in Part I between philosophical consciousness and psychological  consciousness. We are dealing at present with the former.

What is the origin of animaterialist consciousness? How do we grow in awareness? First of all, we must not reify consciousness. It is
a state (not static), not a being in and of itself. It is a quality of being. Many
times, we tend to talk about “the unconscious” and “consciousness” as if
we were referring to beings. They are not. Rather, they are qualities
of beings. The avoidance of anthropomorphism is the best route when thinking along these lines.

These are images of things we cannot explain precisely in human language. The best we can do is provide an approximation. If you were thinking the various modes of consciousness could be
classified into neat categories, then you may be disappointed.There are
no tidy delineations of the modes of consciousness.

In Part I, I talked about the most primal consciousness, the vortical quality of the universe that is ever whirling, ever creating new animaterial forms for matter to unfold into. This is a mode of consciousness that acts creatively and volitionally and is concomitant with the fusion of Universal Spirit and Universal Soul, i.e. the Cosmic Mind. This primeval mode of consciousness is shared by all things, for all things are within the Vortex and all have creative input into how new forms are created. The Cosmic Mind spins infinitely with the creativity and volition of all things because all things possess innate Divinity. It is an involutionary Vortex because all things are involved with one another. The motion is not away from, but toward more immanence and rhizomal growth in the universe, and more involvement of all its animaterial forms.

The Vortex is the foundation of all consciousness in the universe. Growth of consciousness derives from obtaining information. The Latin word for information is informare, which means “to give form to.” Don’t think of information as it is discussed in computer scientific circles. Information brings more awareness because it provides form. Thus, the involutionary Vortex, which is forever spinning, produces information and informs matter to bring about animaterial entities. The Vortex is the modality of emergence for animaterial forms. Other modalities of consciousness derive from the Vortex due to its involutionary nature. As its spins in its cone of creativity, It involves all things by interconnecting all things. This has a sort of domino effect, creating more varied modes of consciousness as the Vortex spins inward. As the Cosmic Mind grows more collective, wonderful things occur. The closer that entities grow together, the more intense the interconnection. The perfect state would be perfect interconnection. But remember, the Vortex is the collective and creative Mind of all things, so all things must participate and contribute, according to their modality of consciousness.

Remember, these statements are shadows of the true; they are mere approximations. I believe Kant was wrong about the inability to know the noumenal. I am of the mind that, because our minds are sprinkled with Divinity, we have the ability to gain knowledge of the thing-in-itself, the world as it really is. We may only get fleeting images of the way things really are, but this a good start.

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