Learning to Think Anew

1
Die Schnecke hat Gesicht – Raimund Joachim Höltich

If we are interested in redefining our world, we must change the manner in which we think. We must learn to think anew. In essence, we must unlearn thinking. Calculative thinking is fine, in the proper context, but it is not the only kind of thinking we humans need to utilize. When we read a poem for instance, we most certainly do not use calculative thinking. As Martin Heidegger said, “…we can learn thinking only if we radically unlearn what thinking has been traditionally” (What Calls For Thinking?).

Our thoughts and ideas come in the form of images. Is the brain the source of these? Yes, but there is more to it. I am of the opinion that every part of the body thinks. We are provided with thoughts and ideas through imaginally communing with the World Soul. Since soul permeates every atom of the animaterial body, thoughts and ideas can have their origin in any bodily element. It’s more likely that the body/soul is a Gestalt. Remember, when I mention “soul,” or “body,” I mean the intertwined soul-body. I call it the animaterial human. This is similar to what Heidegger called Dasein, but with an emphasis on the ensouled nature of Being. It is akin to what Jung called psychoid reality, or his idea of the unus mundus.

Thoughts are not just “in the head.” The animaterial human is a continuum for thought. The brain is obviously a processing center for the body, but that doesn’t mean that thinking is necessarily a product of the brain. In our age, we view the brain as a computer, a calculative thinking machine. Thinking is not necessarily calculative. Western culture has overemphasized many things, especially analytical thinking. We have limited our definition of thinking to one type. Yes, this has brought our civilization many wonderful advancements, but at what expense? We have also unleashed many evils on the world. Most of all, we have forgotten the more essential type of thinking, which I call metaphorics.

Metaphorics is the type of thinking that occurs in art, dreams, mysticism, poetry, and mythologizing. Knowledge, in the form of images, ascends from the Cosmic Mind, the World Soul. As we commune with the Cosmic Mind through meditation, rumination, active imagination, and dreams, certain images enter our conscious minds. These form metaphors, symbols that help us comprehend this knowledge. The aim of the World Soul is to impart gnosis to us through these metaphors and symbols. A good example of this is a dream that Carl Jung had not too long before the schism with Freud:

I was in a house I did not know, which had two stories. It was “my house.” I found myself in the upper story, where there was a kind of salon furnished with fine old pieces in rococo style. On the walls hung a number of precious old paintings. I wondered that this should be my house, and thought, “Not bad.” But then it occurred to me that I did not know what the lower floor looked like. Descending the stairs, I reached the ground floor. There everything was much older, and I realized that this part of the house must date from about the fifteenth or sixteenth century. The furnishings were medieval; the floors were of red brick. Everywhere it was rather dark. I went from one room to another, thinking, “Now I really must explore the whole house.” I came upon a heavy door, and opened it. Beyond it, I discovered a stone stairway that led down into the cellar. Descending again, I found myself in a beautifully vaulted room which looked exceedingly ancient. Examining the walls, I discovered layers of brick among the ordinary stone blocks, and chips of brick in the mortar. As soon as I saw this I knew that the walls dated from Roman times. My interest by now was intense. I looked more closely at the floor. It was of stone slabs, and in one of these I discovered a ring. When I pulled it, the stone slab lifted, and again I saw a stairway of narrow stone steps leading down into the depths. These, too, I descended, and entered a low cave cut into the rock. Thick dust lay on the floor, and in the dust were scattered bones and broken pottery, like remains of a primitive culture. I discovered two human skulls, obviously very old and half disintegrated. Then I awoke (Jung 158-159).

An amazing dream, indeed! These images ascended into Jung’s consciousness while he was sleeping, leading him to make some of his most important discoveries, including the theory of the collective unconscious. Obviously, Jung had been communing with the World Soul. He said, “Certain questions had been much on my mind during the days preceding the dream” (Jung 161). He had been seriously meditating on these questions, which is exactly what one would expect just prior to such a revelation. Jung said, “the dream became for me a guiding image” (ibid.).

Hermes, the World Daimon, plays a part in this exchange of knowledge too. Hermes, as Guide of Souls, charges our personal daimones to facilitate the gnostic experience, to carry the knowledge we need at a particular time, from the Cosmic Mind and whisper it to our conscious minds.

 

Works Cited

Jung, C.G. Memories, Dreams, Reflections. trans. Richard and Clara Winston. New York: Vintage, 1961.

Share Button

Thoughts on a Gnoseology of Metaphorics

1
We have grown weary of the man that thinks.
He thinks and it is not true. The man below
Imagines and it is true, as if he thought
By imagining, anti-logician, quick,
With a logic of transforming certitudes.
-Wallace Stevens, Sombre Figuration

I have come to realize, after all my years of studying philosophy and psychology, that my own personal gnoseology must be one I am calling “metaphorics.” I name it this to accentuate the primary use of metaphorical thinking in the acquisition of knowledge, or, rather, gnosis. What is metaphorical thinking, or metaphorics? Metaphorics is the type of thinking that occurs in art, mysticism, poetry, and mythologizing. Unlike its cousin, logical analysis, metaphorics does not need to set up a dichotomy between subject and object. Even though this type of thinking has its usefulness, this is a reductionist practice that transforms beings into objects to be analyzed by a subject. This is why metaphorics is more primary to our experience. In a gnoseology of metaphorics, beings are accepted phenomenologically, as they are in reality, be they humans, animals, plants, stones, etc. In metaphorics, The need to split object from subject does not arise.

Why do I use the word, “gnoseology?” It denotes more the sense of an inward, revelatory knowledge than the usual term, “epistemology.” The ancient Greek language had several words for knowledge, two of which were gnosis, and episteme. In short, both mean a “theory of knowledge,” but gnosis has more of a sense of non-sensory, experiential, intuitive knowledge, while episteme leans more toward a scientific type of knowledge. Knowledge that emanates from the Cosmic Mind is more of a revealing, or unconcealing of truth. It arises sometimes spontaneously, perhaps in a “Eureka moment,” or through meditation or active imagination. A fine article by Rev. Fr. Troy W. Pierece called, Gnosis, Episteme, and Doxia, Oh My!, explains the differences between gnosis and episteme quite well.

 So, a gnoseology of metaphorics is a theory of how imaginal knowledge is acquired through communing with the Cosmic Mind. I have discussed this very briefly in my article, Bruno and the Cosmic Mind. I use the word “communing” here, but Bruno was more explicit. In his book, De Umbris Idearum, He used sexual imagery to convey his meaning:

Hence in order for you to acquire a consummate and absolute art, it behooves you to copulate with the soul of the world, and once you have copulated with it, to act, for it is teeming with rational forms, and it generates a world full of rational forms (qtd. in Mendoza 163).

Bruno’s highly imaginative reasoning follows thusly: the Soul of the World, the Cosmic Mind, has produced all material forms, including the human body.  According to Anaxagoras, everything is in everything, therefore humans contain elements of the Cosmic Mind, the Soul of the World, thus allowing us to enjoy intercourse with it. This is exactly how Michaelangelo created the amazing works he is famous for, as well as Einstein, Picasso, da Vinci, and many others who have tapped into this awesome power.

Mankind has ignored this type of knowledge for much too long. Certainly, logical, deductive, scientific knowledge has served a great purpose to further our civilization, but it is nearing its limit. We need gnosis. We need metaphorics. We need to tune into the Soul of the World, copulate with it,  in order to get humanity past this crucial period in our evolution.

More to come later……

 

Works Cited

Mendoza, Ramon G. The Acentric Labyrinth. Rockport: Element, 1995.

Share Button

Bifröst: Rainbow Bridge

The Magic Spring, by Jusben
The Magic Spring, by Jusben

If you’re familiar with Norse mythology at all, you’ve probably heard of the Rainbow Bridge. The Norse called it Bifröst. The etymology of the word is not fully known, but it translates roughly as, “the vibrating or trembling rainbow.” Another possibility is “shimmering rainbow.” This supposedly speaks to the fleeting and fragile nature of a rainbow.

Bifröst is the bridge that links Asgard, the home of the gods, with Midgard, the world of humans. The gods traverse Bifröst on horseback, moving between earth and heaven. The Rainbow Bridge stretches from this world to Himinbjörg, “heaven mountain,” home of Heimdallr, the watcher of the bridge. Heimdallr is a god who is equipped with a mighty horn to warn of Ragnarök, the death of the gods and the end of the world. The bridge will be  destroyed when the sons of Muspell, a race of giants, ride across and trigger the end of times for gods and men.

I’ve been thinking about these images today and have arrived at the conclusion that they have great meaning for one trying to fathom the truths of the soul. Since the soul is a kind of bridge between spirit and matter, being the metaxy in Platonic terms, it is analogous to Bifröst. Now, the gods, except for Thor, travel the Rainbow Bridge and descend every morning to Midgard, assembling at the Fountain of Urd to sit in judgment.  Thor was told he had to find another route to the fountain. Because of his great strength and power, it was feared the god of thunder would destroy Bifröst  if he set his feet or his chariot wheels upon it, the bridge being very fragile. The balance between heaven and earth, spirit and matter, is very delicate. The soul must be built and fortified over many years if it is to stand strong and mighty when the giants of adversity come storming across.

Even then, however, the bridge may collapse, just as we sometimes have “breakdowns.” But Bifröst, and bridges in general, symbolize a state of transition, moving from one mode of being to another. Cirlot says, “there are a great many cultures where the bridge symbolizes the link between what can be perceived and what is beyond perception” (A Dictionary of Symbols, p. 33).

Bifröst also points to something I wrote about in my article, The Brunian Revolution, Part 4: Epistemology, where I discussed Bruno’s idea of the copulation between human minds and the anima mundi, the cosmic mind. This is gnosis that flows freely between heaven and earth, macrocosm and microcosm, just as the gods descend and ascend across the Rainbow Bridge. Bifröst is fragile, though, so the metaxical bridge must be guarded closely, lest ragnarök is unleashed.

Share Button

The Brunian Revolution, Part 5: A New Ethics

1
Far, far away Soria Moria Palace shimmered like Gold, by Theodor Kittelsen (1899)

Bruno desired to place truth into the hands of the human race. He may not have completely seen the ramifications of an acentric universe, that this would lead humanity to question its own self-worth in the face of nihilism. Humanity believed it dwelt in the center of God’s universe. After Bruno, this delusion was banished. Humanity lived on a planet that was just another speck in a vast, infinite ocean of other specks. Eventually, this truth, among others, would lead many to discouragement, anxiety, and despair. But now that the lies had been dispelled, mankind could focus on its true nature, to become conscious of its affinity with the cosmic mind, to copulate with it, and to bring forth truth in abundance.

Bruno envisioned that we would gradually become more aware of our relationship with the cosmic mind, and that we would join together with it in the dynamic creation, evolution, and transformation of the universe.

Bruno’s revolutionary philosophical anthropology would thus lay the foundations for a viable universal religion, since it would offer a spiritual bond that had some chance of success in bringing humanity together, in leading it to peace and solidarity, and above all, in securing its survival (Mendoza 217).

Bruno’s goal was to completely overthrow the value system of the day, what Nietzsche would later call, a “transvaluation.” The Church’s total entrenchment in Ptolemaic cosmology gave Bruno the courage to believe he could overturn their religious and ethical system. When the masses discovered how primitive the Church’s beliefs had been, they would turn from it in droves. If the hierarchy could be proven wrong about such an important point, what would be the value of the remainder of their doctrine?

The body, and matter, in general, had been denigrated by the Church for almost the entirety of its existence. This was carried over from Plato, who believed the body is a tomb, a prison of the soul. When matter is viewed in this way, it leads to the neglect and abuse of all living things, and the entire planet. It is utterly crucial how we view matter. Without a true respect for matter, or, as I call it, “animatter,” there can be no true ethics. Bruno wrote,

Divinity reveals herself in all things . . . everything has Divinity latent within itself. For she enfolds and imparts herself even unto the smallest beings, and from the smallest beings, according to their capacity. Without her presence nothing would have being, because she is the essence of the existence of the first unto the last being. [Expulsion, p. 242]

If one believes the Divine is innate to matter, One will treat all material things with reverence and respect. Think of how this one point would totally transform our world, if acted upon! Think of the tremendous damage being done to this world by various corporations all in the name of profit and someone’s twisted idea of freedom! It is a crime against the soul of the world and all of us individual souls. The ethical ramifications of the fusion of matter and soul are mind-boggling!

The so-called Copernican revolution was really not very revolutionary, since all he did was replace the earth with the sun; he retained all the other nonsense from the Ptolemaic worldview. It was Bruno who truly revolutionized cosmology by asserting there was no center at all, which is how we view the universe today.

Bruno’s view of humanity was revolutionary. He sought to overturn age-old traditions concerning human nature and humanity’s place in the universe. Instead of worn-out anthropocentrisms, Bruno claimed that humans are linked by the same soul that permeates everything. The same soul that is in all our bodies is the same soul that creates worlds and beings in those worlds. Soul and matter are indissoluble.

If all of this is true, the manner in which we treat our fellow humans changes. No longer will we allow racism, sectarianism, chauvinism, or bigotry to exist in our societies. Jingoism will have no place in any nation. War would necessarily be a thing of the past, since we would not want to harm the Soul that is innate to all of us by harming anyone, since we are all interconnected by soul. Of course, this is a Utopian dream. I have stated before that I do not believe such a state of existence is possible. It is something, however, for which we must strive if our world is to continue.

The Universal Intellect coupled with soul, the cosmic mind, has the potential of providing humanity with an unlimited intellect. We have limitless potential because we all share the Mind of God. I think this is what Jesus was referring to when he quoted Psalm 82:6, which says, “You are gods; you are all children of the Most High.” Jesus was trying to teach humanity the truth of who we really are. Giordano Bruno was attempting to do the same.

 

Works Cited

Mendoza, Ramon G. The Acentric Labyrinth. Rockport: Element, 1995.

Share Button

The Brunian Revolution, Part 4: Epistemology

1

Bruno was one who fully utilized the imagination in his work. It took him a mere ten years of traversing the imaginal world to reach a more accurate picture of the universe than Galileo’s, who spent several decades calculating and experimenting. Even after those many years, when Galileo was ready to die, he still believed the Sun to be the center of the universe. Bruno accurately saw the universe to be without a center almost sixty years prior to this. Galileo had much better technology, some he invented himself. Bruno used, primarily, his imagination, along with astute observation, to reach these revolutionary conclusions. This brings to mind Albert Einstein’s success, using his “thought-experiments” to reach equally monumental developments.

Bruno had serious reservations concerning the sole use of mathematics to ascertain the nature of reality. He cites Ptolemy as one example of someone with amazing mathematical skills, who claimed the earth to be the center of the universe. This view was dominant in the West for over fifteen hundred years. Bruno felt that the use of mathematics, to the exclusion of observation, reason, and the imagination, was not a reliable road to knowledge. In this point, Bruno was anti-Pythagorean and anti-Platonic. But this does not mean Bruno totally rejected mathematics. He believed it is was very useful in his work to corroborate “the intuitions about the universe that he believed only philosophy could provide…” (Mendoza 158).

Eventually, Einstein helped to prove that mathematics was indispensable in cosmological theory. He didn’t accomplish this, however, exclusively through mathematics, but by using his amazing imagination to envision the geometric motions of heavenly bodies.

Bruno’s epistemology is firmly grounded in his idea of the Cosmic Mind, which you can read about in my article, here.

Bruno’s conviction that the human mind was ‘the eye of divine intelligence’ may have prompted him to ‘tune in’ with the cosmic mind. Man had first to set his mind free from all the prejudices that held it imprisoned in the dark dungeon of ignorance so as to render it capable of establishing contact with the cosmic mind. He simply had to let the ‘larger mind’ take over (Mendoza 162).

Bruno’s mature epistemology is dialectical, preceding Hegel by a little over two centuries. Borrowing from the coincidentia oppositorum of Nicholas of Cusa, and the dynamic Heraclitean principle of becoming, Bruno forged a theory of knowledge that was truly unique. In de umbris idearum, he writes:

…in order for you to acquire a consummate and absolute art, it behooves you to copulate with the soul of the world, and once you have copulated with it, to act, for it is teeming with rational forms, and it generates a world full of rational forms. And these forms (Plotinus would agree) shape and form in seed everything that exists, like tiny worlds. Hence since the soul is everywhere present, all of it in the whole and in every part of it as well, you may be able to behold, as the condition of matter will allow, in everything, no matter how small or cut off, the world, not to speak of the semblance of the world, so that we may without fear say with Anaxagoras that everything is in everything (qtd. in Mendoza 163).

Bruno is asserting the “tuning in” of the mind with the cosmic mind that involves “copulation” with the soul of the world. Powerful imagery, indeed! The same thought processes, archetypes, imagery of the cosmic mind can be experienced in the human mind. The universe is understandable because the subject and object of knowledge share the same type of configuration; the mind and the cosmic mind have basically the same structure.

So, using his dialectical methodology, Bruno saw mind and matter as complementary, as  interdependent “moments of reality” (Mendoza 164). The macrocosmic mind and the microcosmic mind both share the same divine and infinite Oneness.

Probably the thing that distinguished Bruno’s method most of all was his courage to question the authoritative assertions of the past. Because of his method of free thought and uncompromising intellectual honestly, he influenced all freethinkers after him to not rely on revelation or dogma for their discoveries, but on their own minds and imaginations.

 

Works Cited

Mendoza, Ramon G. The Acentric Labyrinth. Rockport: Element, 1995.

Share Button