This evening, while perusing the pages of Jean Gebser’s classic, The Ever Present Origin, I ran across a passage that speaks profoundly to our current historical period:
The tendency toward chaos, decay, decline, disruption; the loss and renunciation of once legitimate values; and the rise of the devalued and worthless, which are all prominent expressions of our epoch, present major obstacles to the interpretation of manifestations of the new consciousness. Everything is out of order; even so-called “positive” attempts undertaken here and there to “save” humanity or Europe should be viewed for the most part with no less skepticism than the equally undeniable attempts to destroy mankind (Gebser 295-296, italics mine).
First of all, Jean Gebser possessed a keen ability to foresee what our world would become when the current consciousness structure, the mental-rational, would start unraveling with breakneck pace. Just this year, we’ve seen developments occur which shake the very foundations of Western society. Our time seems to be out of joint. As Hamlet said,
The time is out of joint—O cursèd spite,
That ever I was born to set it right!
Nay, come, let’s go together (Hamlet Act 1, scene 5, 186–190)
It is only together that we will be able to set things right in this world. The cesspool of corruption is very deep. We will have to endure much hardship in order to clean things up.
We are living in, what Gebser called, the deficient mental-rational, which is the most decrepit era of this particular focus of consciousness, this consciousness structure. The use of ratio to fashion a device that could destroy the earth signaled that the end of this phase was at hand. Since then, society has been unraveling at the seams. This election year, we have seen things we have never seen before.
There is hope, though. We are ripe for the transcendence of the mental-rational mode of consciousness. This will take a goodly number of humans willing to lay aside the old ways of egomaniacal and irrational actions and thoughts, and embrace a new integral consciousness.
Gebser, Jean. The Ever-Present Origin. Trans. by Noel Barstad and Algis Mickunas. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1985.
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