Monadic Soul

Cyclops, by Odilon Redon  

As early as the Presocratic philosophers, the idea of non-reducible, indivisible units had been expressed as monads. For Pythagoras, it was the “all-including ONE” (Manly P. Hall). The universe is also a monad, but all the individual parts are as well. For Plato, the monads were likened to the Ideas. So, it is directly in line with this tradition to suggest that monads are indeed archetypal images, and therefore irreducible, and that everything derives from them.

It is fitting to match god with the monad, since god is in a seminal way (spermatikos) all beings in nature, as the monad is [potentially all things] in number; for things which appear in actuality to be extreme opposites, in absolutely every mode of opposition, are potentially contained within it, just as we saw, throughout the Introduction to the Arithmetic, that the monad took on every form, by a certain ineffable nature…The monad is absolutely the most authoritative of all things, like a pure light, sunlike and governing, (hegemonikos), so that it may resemble god in these respects, and above all in being a source of friendship and union for things multifarious most diverse, as god has harmonized and unified this universe from things similarly opposed (Nicomachus, qtd. by Charles H. Kahn, Pythagoras and the Pythagoreans: A Brief History, p. 116-117).

I propose that these Pythagorean monads that I refer to as images, as in archetypal images, are the bases for, not only all empirical experiences, but any and all experiences we have in this life. I would equate the archetypes, as in Jung’s archetypes of the collective unconscious, with monads and atoms (not the physical balls of matter we are so familiar with, but atoms in the ancient sense, as being indivisible and irreducible). These are the gods of Greek mythology.

What are archetypes images of? Of this we can only say, “All Monads are mirrors of the Universe. ” (Galileo, Giordano Bruno, and Goethe, A Lecture given by Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, Architektenhaus, January 26, 1911). This was also the opinion of Giordano Bruno. Steiner goes on to explain that,

Such a Monad is the human soul, and they are many. Indeed, the human body itself is composed of many Monads, not of one. If we understand the truth about the physical body according to the ideas of Giordano Bruno, we shall not see the fleshly human body, but a system of Monads; these Monads cannot be clearly seen, just as we cannot distinguish the separate midges in a swarm; the chief Monad is the human soul. When the human soul comes into existence at birth, so said Giordano Bruno, the other Monads which belong to the soul collect together and, by this, the existence of the Chief-Monad, of the Soul Monad, is made possible (ibid).

Fascinating, no? So, now we know, according to Bruno, the so-called Chief-Monad is the Soul in each of us. Not only are the archetypes monads, but Soul is Monad. The main point in all of this is to link Soul to the ancient idea of monad. This was the view of the Pythagoreans. They believed all things emanated from the monad. An idea that has endured for over two millennia deserves to be reexamined.

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A Tripartite Anthropology

Har and Heva bathing, Mnetha looking on, by William Blake

Man has no Body distinct from his Soul for that call’d Body is a portion of Soul discern’d by the five Senses, the chief inlets of Soul in this age (William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell).

Human being is tripartite in nature, but it is just an illusion of our language, a convenience of Western thought and communication that has evolved in the Western psyche, having become archetypal. When we discuss our nature, the Western tendency is to dissect and analyze our subject, so we speak of the tripartite nature of humans. In all reality, Body, Soul, and Spirit are actually one.

In the passage above, Blake prefers to discuss only Body and Soul, but stresses that they are indistinct. He calls Body “a portion of Soul discerned by the five senses.” Perhaps he does not discuss Spirit because of the overemphasis that has been placed on Spirit in the West for many centuries. Western culture is primarily a Spirit-seeking society, even though many would deny this. We have been obsessed with Spirit for a long, long time. Spirit is ubiquitous in our culture. It is the driving force behind many Western standbys, like capitalism, technology, industry, religion, and even some mysticism and new age teachings. Anytime you hear someone talking about transcendence, you can bet Spirit is close by. Spirit is overemphasized at the expense of Soul. Many have forgotten about Soul, since it is much messier and less glamorous. We would rather soar in the heavens than slog through the morasses and quagmires of Soul. I believe Blake recognized what the overemphasis of Spirit had done to his world.

Spirit, however, is also a portion of Soul. Soul is actually the Mediatrix, the in-between of Spirit and Body. Speaking of Neoplatonism, James Hillman writes,

This tradition holds to the notion of soul as a first principle, placing this soul as a tertium between the perspectives of body (matter, nature, empirics) and of mind (spirit, logic, idea). Soul as tertium, the perspective between others and from which others may be viewed, has been described as Hermetic consciousness (Lopez-Pedraza 1977), as “esse in anima” (Jung [1921], CW 6, §66, §77), as the position of the mundus imaginalis by Corbin, and by Neoplatonic writers on the intermediaries or figures of the metaxy (Archetypal Psychology, p. 5).

Western thinking has been primarily focused on Body and Spirit alone, matter and mind in the Cartesian manner. This sort of dualism goes back much further, to perhaps the 9th century, at the Eighth General Council of Constantinople.  In Canon 11, the council ruled that,

…the Old and New Testaments teach that man has one rational and intellectual soul, and this is the teaching also of all the fathers and doctors of the Church… (Medieval Sourcebook:
Eighth Ecumenical Council: Constantinople IV 869-70).

Basically, the Church said that only the rational mind is the Soul, but it is really an element of Spirit, thus leaving human being with only Body and Spirit. This is a gross misunderstanding. The rational mind originates with Spirit. Spirit has been the driving force behind Western progress ever since. The constant need for ascent and transcendence is the classic archetypal motif of Spirit. Spirit soars into the very upper regions of the atmosphere. It is most at home in very high places, where the air is thin and light, where one can sit atop and apart from the world and be superior to it. Spirit is cold, since the higher one ascends, the lower the temperature and the thinner the air. There is a snowy whiteness about spirit that makes it chilly and vapid, if taken to extremes. When you hear someone refer to “spiritual detachment,” you’ll know that the archetype of spirit is present.

Spirit is a valid, necessary human experience. A problem arises, however, when it is pursued to the exclusion of Soul. Spirit is height, but Soul is depth. What would we be like without depth? We would be cold, inanimate automatons, going around making positive affirmations, bathing in the light and rejecting the darkness. Spirit seeks intelligence, while Soul seeks imagination. We need both, of course, but we must never overemphasize one over the other. So many problems in our world have been caused by just this.

Even though there are three valid archetypal images of the human makeup, when all is said and done, all three are one, as are all things in our universe. All is animaterial, the intermingling of Body, Soul, and Spirit into one animaterial whole. Three in One, in all things, according to their various modes of presence. Humans have one mode of presence; animals another; and even stones have their mode of presence. In all things, however, human and otherwise, Soul is the tertium.

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Animatter Is Equilibrium

Public Domain painting for NASA, by Donald David


This post is dedicated to Giordano Bruno, who was burned at the stake on February 17, 1600 for telling the truth.

If we were conscious of the spirit of the age, we should know why we are so inclined to account for everything on physical grounds; we should know that it is because, up till now, too much was accounted for in terms of spirit. This realization would at once make us critical of our bias. We would say: most likely we are now making exactly the same mistake on the other side. We delude ourselves with the thought that we know much more about matter than about a “metaphysical” mind or spirit, and so we overestimate material causation and believe that it alone affords us a true explanation of life. But matter is just as inscrutable as mind. As to the ultimate things we can know nothing, and only when we admit this do we return to a state of equilibrium. This is in no sense to deny the close connection of psychic happenings with the physiological structure of the brain, with the glands and the body in general. We still remain deeply convinced of the fact that the contents of consciousness are to a large extent determined by our sense-perceptions. We cannot fail to recognize that unalterable characteristics of a physical as well as a psychic nature are unconsciously ingrained in us by heredity, and we are profoundly impressed by the power of the instincts which can inhibit or reinforce or otherwise modify even the most spiritual contents. Indeed, we must admit that as to cause, purpose, and meaning the human psyche, wher­ever we touch it, is first and foremost a faithful reflection of everything we call material, empirical, and mundane. And finally, in face of all these admissions, we must ask ourselves if the psyche is not after all a secondary manifestation-an epiphenomenon-and completely dependent on the physical sub­strate. Our practical reasonableness and worldly-mindedness prompt us to say yes to this question, and it is only our doubts as to the omnipotence of matter that might lead us to examine in a critical way this verdict of science upon the human psyche (C.G Jung, CW, Vol. 8, §657).

I see this as a very important passage of Jung’s writing. He is commenting on the emphasis of Western thought on materialism, and why we should not be surprised that it has come to be this way. For centuries, during the Middle Ages, the balances were tilted in favor of spirit, to the exclusion of matter. The message Jung is conveying here is that reality is inscrutable, mysterious. We go through periods of compensation after experiencing extreme views, such as materialism. We go from one extreme to the other trying to untangle the web of truth, but both poles are deeply enigmatic. And of the ultimate things, like God, we can know nothing. When thinkers admit these truths, perhaps then equilibrium can be found. This current age of post-materialism I have deemed the Epoch of Soul, since the metaxical nature of Soul is equilibrium. This period has already dawned. We are gradually edging into balance. It may not seem like it with all the political turmoil we are experiencing, but this is normal for such a period of tectonic shifts.

The following is not a reductionist statement by Jung when he tells us that the psyche itself is a “secondary manifestation-an epiphenomenon…completely dependent on the physical substrate.” Jung, unlike James Hillman, makes a distinction between psyche and soul. In one passage, he says,

I have been compelled, in my investigations into the structure of the unconscious, to make a conceptual distinction between soul and psyche. By psyche, I understand the totality of all psychic processes, conscious as well as unconscious. By soul, on the other hand, I understand a clearly demarcated functional complex that can best be described as a “personality”. (Psychological Types, Collected Works, Volume 6).

So, in essence, the Anima and Animus archetypes are what Jung means by “soul.” Psyche is the entire sphere of psychic activity. James Hillman does not differentiate between the two, but uses them interchangeably as “a deliberately ambiguous concept resisting all definition in the same manner as do all ultimate symbols which provide the root metaphors for the systems of human thought” (Suicide and the Soul, p. 46).

A conceptual outlook concerning these matters can quickly lead us into a trap. Our language limits us when discussing such things. Jung clearly believed the psyche, with its archetypes, was very closely tied to physical matter. His writings concerning the archetypes make it clear that he considered them the psychic correlates of biological instincts. Above, he says, “We cannot fail to recognize that unalterable characteristics of a physical as well as a psychic nature are unconsciously ingrained in us by heredity…” Evolution produced both our biological as well as psychic instincts (the archetypes). The only reason we speak in dualities is because of the extraordinary difficulty of writing about what I call Animatter. Actually, the process of evolution produced human-being-theres, in the sense of Heidegger’s Dasein. These being-theres are animaterial, interrelated creatures that possess several modes of presence, one of which happens to be physical, one of which happens to be psychic. I close with this passage from Jung:

Since psyche and matter are contained in one and the same world, and moreover are in continuous contact with one another and ultimately rest on irrepresentable, transcendental factors, it is not only possible but fairly probable, even, that psyche and mat­ter are two different aspects of one and the same thing (CW, Vol. 8, §418).

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Images Are Prior To Experience

Odysseus in front of Scylla and Charybdis, by

Johann Heinrich Füssli

In the beginning is the image; first imagination then perception; first fantasy then reality…Man is primarily an imagemaker and our psychic substance consists of images; our being is imaginal being, an existence in imagination. We are indeed such stuff as dreams are made on (James Hillman, Re-Visioning Psychology, p. 23).

Prior to our perceiving anything in this world, there are images that create our reality. Jung said, “The psyche creates reality every day.” Our consciousness is totally dependent upon this vast storehouse of images we call Soul. Soul is Image and Image is Soul. The only way we experience anything in this world is because of our ability to imagine. We imagine and create constantly. Our consciousness would not exist without images. Images are the irreducible elements inherent in all animatter. At bottom, all is Image.

British philosopher, John Locke, claimed we are, at birth, a tabula rasa, a blank slate. He meant we are born without any innate psychological content. Locke proposed that all knowledge derives from empirical experience and perception. This is an egregious error. We are all born with a foundation of archetypal, imaginal content that is innate to our species.

Carl Jung claimed the archetypes are much like instincts. According to Jung, the archetypes are analogous to human instincts in that they are images of the instincts. They are inborn and unlearned, just like instincts. And just as instincts evolve from repeated experiences of a species, so have the archetypes evolved in the human species from repeated inner experiences. For example, the archetype of the hero, which Joseph Campbell spent considerable time writing about, is a process that is seen in all cultures, and which seems to have evolved as a means of overcoming what we call schizophrenia. According to Campbell (who is quoting a Dr. John Perry), the way a schizophrenic loses touch with reality and turns inward corresponds to the mythical journey of the hero, who

ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder; fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won; the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow men (Joseph Campbell. Myths to Live By, p. 209).

In the human experience, there arises an image in the imagination, one that is distinct from a daydream type of image (Henry Corbin would call a daydream image imaginary.) The image arises from unconsciousness to our conscious awareness. Many times, the images become metaphors in myth and literature, or are brought to life in works of art, or make their way into our moods and impulses. These images come to light in personified form as the heroes and villains of myths and legends. They also come to life through us, sometimes possessing our personalities. I am thinking here of someone like Adolf Hitler, who I believe was in the grip of a collective Shadow archetype.

Hillman says, “To live psychologically means to imagine things” (ibid.). Images are ordered by the archetypes. At their behest, images travel down particular, patterned pathways, motifs and mythologems. These ancient Gods constellate around certain mythemes, from which the world’s great stories, fables, and sagas have been created.

Our lives are living metaphors. We all have a story. We all have a vault of images from which our particular world is fashioned. Our story is created by the archetypes, but it is up to us to bring it into manifestation. In order to do so, we must ponder the images, our personal dreams and imaginings, and act on them until they attain plasticity.

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The Aphroditic Soul

Geburt der Venus, by Odilon Redon

…beauty is an ontological necessity, grounding the sensate particularity of the world. Without Aphrodite, the world of particulars becomes atomic particles. Life’s detailed variety is called chaos, multiplicity, amorphous matter, statistical data. Such is the world of sense without Aphrodite. Then sense must be made of appearance by abstract philosophical means – which distorts philosophy itself from its true base (The Thought of the Heart and the Soul of the World, by James Hillman, p.45).

The old proverb, “Beauty is only skin deep,”  attributed to Sir Thomas Overbury (1581-1613), is far from the truth. Sir Thomas was only thinking of carnal allurements when he coined this phrase. True beauty, as I stated earlier, is an essential characteristic of Soul. Without it, there is no Soul in this universe, nor any other. Western thinking, over the centuries, has stripped Beauty of its true value and meaning. By Sir Thomas’ day, it meant no more than a pretty lady, a handsome gentleman, or some superficial material object.

Whenever Soul is presented to the senses, be it through a walk in the forest, a lovely sunset, or the smell after a Spring rain, the Goddess, Aphrodite, is unveiled to us. The truth we learn when experiences like these occur is that Soul is Aphroditic in nature. We usually think of Aphrodite as the Goddess of love and beauty; that is true, but what did the Greeks think and believe about Her? How did they understand Her gifts to the world?

Aphrodite was born, of course, when Cronus castrated Uranus and threw his genitals into the sea. Aphrodite emerged from the sea foam that formed around them. One of her names is, Anadiomeni, one who emerges.” This sense of emergence is quite important in understanding the nature of Soul and its accompanying Beauty.

James Hillman writes,

In pursuing what we mean by beauty we are obstructed by the word beauty itself. It strikes the ear as so effete, so ineffectual, lovely and etheric, so far removed from the soul’s desperate concerns. Again we see how our notions are determined by archetypal patterns, as if beauty had become relegated only to Apollo, the examination of invisible forms like music, belonging to collectors and subject to disputes in journals of aesthetics. Or, beauty has been given over wholly to the soft hands of Adonis and Paris, beauty as violets, mutilation and death. In Plato and Plotinus, however, beauty does not have this glabrous, passive and ungenerative sense at all, and it is rarely brought into relation with art. In fact beauty is not ‘beautiful’ and Socrates’ person is witness. Rather, the beautiful in Platonic thought can only be understood if we can enter an Aphroditic cosmos and this in turn means penetrating into the ancient notion of aisthesis (sense-perception) from which aesthetics derives (ibid., p. 41-42).

I don’t know about you, but I want to enter this “Aphroditic cosmos.” It is not far off somewhere in another world; it is right here, where we are! We just need to learn to open ourselves to the Aphroditic experience, the emerging and unconcealing of Her beauty in her role as Anima Mundi. I believe this level of experience occurs when Soul mediates sensory data via the Imagination, transforming the experience into a powerful noumenal encounter with the Gods. How difficult it is to put these things into words!
This is what the Romantic poets discovered in their day. Read these words of Goethe and feel how Soul brings these images to life in your heart. Soul makes these images live to the point of becoming sensate, to where there is no separation between physical sense and spiritual sense:

Now I leave this little hut,
Where my beloved lives,
Walking now with veiled steps
Through the shadowy leaves.
Luna shines through bush and oak,
Zephyr proclaims her path,
And the birch trees bowing low
Shed incense on her track.
How beautiful the coolness
Of this lovely summer night!
How the soul fills with happiness
In this true place of quiet!
I can scarcely grasp the bliss!
Yet, Heaven, I would shun
A thousand nights like this,
If my darling granted one (Goethe, The Lovely Night).

This is Soul. This is Aphrodite’s emergence from the world.

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The Beauty Of Soul

Geburt der Venus, by Lovis Corinth

Some may wonder why I spend so much time writing about Soul. I decided many years ago that Soul was the most beautiful, the most fascinating, and the most perplexing of pursuits among all human endeavors. As little free time as most people have, including myself, I want to spend it, for these reasons, thinking and writing of Soul. What better path to travel than the vortical highway that is the Soul, for along the way there are many wondrous things to see and learn. As James Hillman wrote,

psyche is the life of our aesthetic responses, that sense of taste in relation with things, that thrill or pain, disgust or expansion of breast: these primordial aesthetic reactions of the heart are soul itself speaking (The Thought of the Heart and the Soul of the World, p. 39).

In a nutshell, Soul is Beauty. The man who most likely was responsible for initiating the European Renaissance, Francesco Petrarca (20 July 1304 – 19 July 1374), better known as Petrarch, fell in love with Soul on April 6, 1327, when his eyes fell upon a beautiful young girl named Laura:

It was on that day when the sun’s ray
was darkened in pity for its Maker,
that I was captured, and did not defend myself,
because your lovely eyes had bound me, Lady (The Canzoniere)

Petrarch never had a relationship with this young woman, but he carried her in his heart the remainder of his days. In her, he realized the beauty and truth of Soul. This is, of course, what Jung called the anima archetype, that unconscious feminine Person that men possess within them.

There are many examples of this in literature. Some of the most famous are Dante and Beatrice, Arthur and Guinevere, and Tristan and Isolde. These stories relate the relationship of man with the Soul. The Soul is, indeed, beautiful beyond comprehension, but it is also dangerous and powerful, not something to be taken lightly. One feels sometimes as if one were standing at the precipice of a bottomless abyss. There are the deepest dangers there. But, if we remain in harmony with Soul, She will always comfort us, even if we do happen to plunge downward occasionally.

Soul is essentially aesthetic in nature. All of the beauty we experience in life derives from Soul. If one does not recognize this source of Beauty, one cannot realize the fulness of Soul. Remember Aphrodite. Remember that “Beauty is the manifest anima mundi” (James Hillman).

Beauty is not an abstraction, as is much of Aesthetics in academic Philosophy. Beauty is actually sensate, perceptible, and is revelatory. Beauty is a revealing, a theophany of the Gods in all their splendor.  Beauty is in the Greek sense, aisthesis. The image is not transcendent or immanent within the object at hand, but lucidly perceptible. This is one very essential characteristic of Soul.

This discussion reminds me of my Heidegger studies, particularly his revival of truth as unconcealment (aletheia) and his idea of ready-to-hand. This also corresponds nicely with something zoologist and anthropologist, Adolf Portmann (1897-1982), said,

Visible appearance itself must be understood above all in the widest
sense as ’self-presentation’ of the protoplasmic individual. Not only
are optical, acoustic, and olfactory features of the individual in a
state of rest part of this self-presentation, but so are its movements,
its forms of expression, all of its manifestations in space and time…
The taking into account of self-presentation as a primary property of
life justifies by itself a complete and autonomous theory of forms.… Beings in relationship with the world are not just living machines which
live in function of their activities and metabolism. They are above all
beings which display themselves in their singularity without this
self-presentation being primarily related to sense organs. (Adolf Portmann on the New Biology, by Gianna Maria Gatti (translated by Alan N. Shapiro).

The idea of self-presentation seems related to the Greek idea of aletheia in its sense of self-presenting reality as theophany. Such is the nature of Soul.

By the way, Portmann was one of the founding lecturers, along with C.G. Jung, at the Eranos conferences in Switzerland.

This is a fruitful line of discussion which I will undoubtedly continue to pursue.

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Musings On Metaphor And Allegory

Corbin’s distinction between the imaginal and the imaginary, discussed in the last article, runs parallel to the distinction between metaphor and allegory. Corbin claims that

…the general tendency is to juxtapose the real and the imaginary as if the latter were unreal, utopian, just as it is customary to confuse the symbol with allegory, or the exegesis of spiritual meaning with allegorical interpretation. Allegory, being harmless, is a cover, or rather a travesty of something that is already known or at least knowable in some other way; whereas, the appearance of an Image that can be qualified as a symbol is a primordial phenomenon (Urphaenomen). Its appearance is both unconditional and irreducible and it is something that cannot manifest itself in any other way in this world (Mundus Imaginalis, translated from French by Ruth Horine, 1972).

This German word, Urphaenomen, is an idea from Goethe that refers to an archetypal phenomenon, particularly in Nature. Much of Goethe’s theory of science rests on this principle. An image as Urphaenomen is Nature (as Gestalt) revealing Herself primordially as an irreducible element of the complex whole. This order of image is a complex unveiling of truth that will always remain mysterious, for the true symbolic image possesses infinite meanings. One will never plumb the depths of the image of Soul, for instance.

These primeval symbolic images are best presented, not as allegories, but as metaphors. Metaphorical language is the language of Soul. Thus, there is a correlation between imaginal reality and metaphor, just as there is a correlation between imaginary reality and allegory. The imaginal, presented as metaphor, is much deeper and more complex in describing those aspects of reality that have infinite layers of meaning, such as the metaphor, God.

An allegory is nothing but the use of something known to represent some moral truth or trope in figurative terms, such as in the book, Pilgrim’s Progress, written by John Bunyan in 1678. No new truths were revealed in this work, just the retelling of the Gospel story. In a lecture on Pilgrim’s Progress, Ian Johnston of Malaspina University-College (now Vancouver Island University), comments that

Allegories need to be distinguished from symbolic stories. Both allegorical structures and symbolic structures derive their full meaning from something beyond the literal meaning of the word, event, image, or character in the fiction. That is, they both point to a range of meanings beyond themselves. The major difference is that in allegories the reference point is clear and relatively unambiguous; whereas, with symbols the range of meaning is more ambiguous and uncertain.

The metaphor is the preferred language of the unconscious because metaphors are images that catapult one beyond the literal to the Mundus Imaginalis. The unconscious speaks through imagery. This is not the imaginary kind of images, but imaginal symbols, which originate from the realm of the Imaginal.

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Imagination Takes Us Beyond The Mountain Of Qaf


In his classic essay, Mundus Imaginalis, Henry Corbin attempts to articulate the distinction between the imaginal and the imaginary. This distinction has been necessary for discussion since Western scholars took a turn towards Averroism in the twelfth century. At this fork in the Western philosophical road, the acceptance of aspects of Averroes’ philosophy, particularly his cosmology, over that of Avicenna, led to the disparagement of imagination even down to our day and age.

There is a confusion in the West about imagination. We have been led to believe, since the twelfth century, that all things imagined are not as important as material things, or even that they are unreal. Corbin draws the distinction of 1) imaginatio vera, true Imagination, which corresponds to the Mundus Imaginalis; and 2) personal fantasies, which he calls “imaginary.”

Prior to this cleavage of being, the ancient world enjoyed an undifferentiated consciousness:

The ancients–and by the ancients I mean the Greeks, the Romans, and the Graeco-Roman Christians–the ancients experienced an awareness open to what lay around them, and they experienced no sense of dichotomy between their awareness and everything else. What they found in their own minds or intellects was of like character with much of what was outside it; what they found in the world could in large part move directly into their minds and be possessed by it. There was an ontological continuity between what happened in their intellects and what happened in the kosmos or world (F. Edward Cranz, unpublished ms, The Reorientation of Western Thought c. 1100 A.D., qtd. in The World Turned Inside Out, by Tom Cheetham, pg. 120.).

Tom Cheetham comments,

And, so, thanks to our “history of being,” we confound the esoteric with the subjective (and therefore the “unreal”) and the exoteric with the objective (and therefore the “real”) (The World Turned Inside Out, pg. 120).

Cranz sees no way back to the ancients’ mode of consciousness; Corbin seems to think there is a way. He believes the Mundus Imaginalis was lost due to the decadence of Western rationalism:

Whenever imagination strays and is wasted recklessly, when it ceases to fulfill its function of perceiving and producing the symbols that lead to inner intelligence, the mundus imaginalis…may be considered to have disappeared (Mundus Imaginalis, by Henry Corbin).

This realm of the Eighth Clime, as it is described in Islam, is lost to our current mode of consciousness, that of empiricism and ratiocination. The good news, however, is that our Western mode of consciousness is changing, is returning to an ontology that recognizes a reality more encompassing than simply things perceived by the physical senses. I personally feel the work of thinkers like C.G. Jung, James Hillman, Henry Corbin, and many others have led us back to the fork in the road and have enabled us to retrace our steps, thus bringing us to a better understanding of the role of human imagination in our lives. I prefer to think we already have recovered that path and are currently on a journey beyond the mountain of Qaf.

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