Origin is ever-present. It is not a beginning, since all beginning is linked with time. And the present is not just the “now”, today, the moment or unit of time. It is ever-originating, an achievement of full integration and continuous renewal. Anyone able to ‘concretize,’ i.e., to realize and effect the reality of origin and the present in their entirety, supersedes ‘beginning’ and ‘end’ and the mere here and now (Gebser xxvii).
I’m surprised I haven’t previously encountered the distinction between origin and beginning. If I have, it apparently didn’t make a great impression on me until this past week. This article will deal with the discoveries I’ve made.
I first became aware of the importance of the distinction while reading articles by Scott Preston at The Chrysalis. At least as long as I’ve been studying philosophy, I’ve understood the idea that time is simply a framework created by our minds to order our empirical experience. Time, as we normally understand it, is an illusion. Many are confused concerning a beginning as a moment in linear time, and the idea of origin. Most think they are synonymous, but they are definitely not. As Gebser says, “origin is ever-present.” It is not “linked with time.” A beginning is, on the other hand, linked with linear time. For example Isaac Newton entered this earthly life on January 4, 1643 at 1:38 AM. This was the moment Newton began his sojourn on Earth. This moment was not Newton’s origin, it was merely the beginning of his earthly life. Similarly, what scientists call the Big Bang is not the origin, but the beginning of this universe. They can attach an age to this event, which is about fourteen billion years ago. They cannot attach an age to the origin.
Our origin, as living creatures, is “ever-originating,” an eternal presence. We have forgotten this. Our true selves have been disconnected from eternity. We have wandered far from our origin. Our task here is to re-member, to re-collect that which has disintegrated. It’s not a remembering in the sense of memory, but a re-integration of what has been torn asunder. It is difficult to say what the origin is, but it seems similar to what Hermetists calls The All. It is certainly non-spatial and non-temporal. All the various modes of consciousness emerge from the origin. In fact, I would go so far as to say that all things in the universe share in this ever-present reality. It is not an external reality. The very roots of our being lie within us, connected rhizomally to the origin, and, in turn, to each other.
The sense of meaninglessness we experience in this current world is due to our straying too far from the origin. Nihilism is a symptom of what Gebser calls the deficient mode of the mental-rational structure of consciousness. Not only this, but the myriad crises of our world equate to birth-pangs meant to prepare the earth for the next transition of consciousness, which Gebser calls the integral structure. When the various structures have lost their potency, they enter their deficient mode. This is indicative of the imminent arrival of the next mutation of consciousness. When the integral structure comes to predominate human consciousness, all of the structures will be integrated into the whole. Our perception of time as linear will be superseded, as well as all dualism. Aperspectival man will experience reality four-dimensionally. Rationality will be replaced by arationality. Instead of extreme egocentricity, or narcissism, which dominates our culture today, mankind will experience diaphaneity, the transcendence of the ego in favor of a self that will fully experience the whole, not simply the parts.
The undivided, ego-free person who no longer sees parts but realizes the “itself,” the spiritual form of being of man and the world, perceives the whole, the diaphaneity present “before” all origin which suffuses everything (Gebser 543).
Is this what Jung means by the individuated Self?
Friedrich Nietzsche. The Will to Power. Trans. Walter Kauffman and R.J. Hollingdale. New York: Vintage, 1967.
Gebser, Jean. The Ever-Present Origin. Trans. by Noel Barstad and Algis Mickunas. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1985.