This should be read after reading my article, The Fall of the Transcendent Hierarchies.
As we already know, cultural paradigms based on an underlying philosophical framework of transcendence, of which there is no better example than Western culture, are decaying rapidly and will eventually give way to a paradigm of immanence. My attention was drawn to this fact from reading the blog, On Self-Realization, authored by Dr. Jennifer Lilla. She has written some wonderful articles there which describe the matter very well. I highly recommend reading her work. Here is one example:
It is only now that it is emerging everywhere, blossoming forth. This new paradigm is all around us. It is a shift that is occurring within us, at the very heart of our ways of being, becoming, and knowing. It is a deep spiritual truth that is emerging into the collective mind and potentiating a cultural shift: like a dream that you had last night, and cannot remember, but which affects your day nonetheless. It is a contemplation of the unnameable, of the unspeakable, which, nevertheless, begins to be uttered in our poetry, our art, our movies, and in our collective dreaming. It is the transcendental emerging into the social body, not through fixated perspectives or empty representations, but through the collective energy of our creative acts (The Culture of Immanence).
We are a culture of transcendence primarily because our idea of God is that of an ultimate Creator who is totally separate from the Creation. Somewhere in the mists of Time, reality was ripped apart. Nature and Spirit, always experienced as one reality, now became two. Dualism has been a powerful force ever since.
A culture of transcendence is centered on a set of hierarchies and vertical power structures. Dr. Lilla provides an excellent metaphor: the Tower of Babel. Even though Jehovah confounded the language so that these post-Deluge people no longer understood one another, the verticalization has never ceased in the West. Our society has always been replete with hierarchical power entities, from the Church to the workplace to the government to business, etc. But now, that picture is changing.
The twentieth century saw an amazing acceleration of human learning and discovery occur at a pace unrivaled in the history of the world. During that time, certain prerequisite foundational stones were laid that made the current revolution of immanence possible.
One example is the discovery of quantum mechanics, which proved that the mechanistic worldview of Newton and Descartes no longer accurately described the universe. Suddenly, a world was uncovered where none of the rules applied anymore. Furthermore, human consciousness seemed to alter the results of scientific observation. We were forced to develop a new worldview to accommodate these discoveries. Nature was no longer a neat little logical machine, much to the dismay of positivists everywhere.
Another watershed event in the twentieth century was the beginning of a renaissance of Soul, brought about by C.G. Jung. Almost single-handedly, Jung revived the investigation of the human Psyche that, in our day, is flourishing. Jung inherited the mantle of Soul from a long line of Soul spelunkers that probably began with the Pre-Socratics in the West. Notable members of this group are Heraclitus, Plato, Plotinus, Averroes, Ficino, Bruno, Vico, and many others. James Hillman probably did more to further our ideas of Soul than anyone after Jung.
The juxtaposition of Jung’s theories and the new science of quantum mechanics was no accident. History is an unfolding, where events occur synchronistically. There is an Intelligence in the universe that brings forth all things, constantly giving birth to more order and complexity. Giordano Bruno called this Mater-Materia, which means “matter mattering.” Mind is not separate from matter; mind is within matter. The phrase connotes the womb of the Mother. Matter exists as an agent of “mattering;” matter is the matrix of all material forms. Now, we better understand why we say “Mother Nature.” We could also say, “Mother Matter.”
I think these two events, along with several other important discoveries and occurrences, erected powerful horizontal structures that are enabling the revolution of immanence. The nineteen-sixties consisted of several events that changed the world: the civil rights movement, the anti-war protests, the bringing in of Eastern philosophies, etc. These built upon the foundation laid down by Jung and the quantum scientists.
The philosopher, Karl Jaspers, referred to that fecund period of history that gave us the Upanishads, Lao Tzu, Homer, Socrates, Parmenides, Heraclitus, Thucydides, Archimedes, etc., as The Axial Age. We are living in a similar time now, but I see this time as even more profound.
We are acquiring consciousness that the Divine is part of us and is inherent in the material world. No longer will there by a yawning abyss between the material and the spiritual. The metaxical bridge across is Soul and we are traversing it daily. This is changing our reality. We are in the midst of a metamorphosis of consciousness. We are realizing that we are homogeneous with each other and with all of Nature.