Saturday, March 26, 2011

Formal Operational Thinking & Recognizing a Transformative "Truth"

I miss the Challis "Read Alouds".  This post is in response to my not being able to attend and share something I'm reading and, in part, also a response to the current state of human affairs.  So for what it's worth; here goes.  I've taken the text from Ken Wilber's Up From Eden .

"The egoic structure, as a true evolution of consciousness, brought new and expanded potentials.  It brought a new level of exchange, that of mutual self-recognition and esteem.  It brought a higher mentality; the possibility of rational comprehension; self-reflexiveness; a grasp of historical time; a final transcendence of nature and the body; formal operational thinking; a capacity for introspection; a new form of, and potential respect for, morality; legally recognized self-consciousness; and the beginning of the sanctity of personhood.  These might not have been universally implemented and respected, but the  potential for such exchanges was/is clearly present.

     The new egoic structure also brought, necessarily, new terrors.  The self-conscious ego was more vulnerable; more aware of its mortality; more guilty in its emergence; more open to anxiety.

     And the new terrors inherent in the ego, when coupled with the new powers of the ego, resulted in the possibility (not necessity) of even more brutal terrors exercised by the ego:  new substitute sacrifices, mass homicide, oppressive exploitation, massive slavery, class alienation, violent inequality, hedonistic overindulgence, and wildly exaggerated substitute gratifications-all of which could cripple the levels of exchange both in oneself and in the others who happened to fall under one's influence or power.

     This can all be summarized very succinctly; just as the ego is (to date) the highest or "capping" level of the average human compound individual, with the power to distort, oppress, and repress not only its own level but all lower levels as well, so the egoic Atman project could exploit not just its own level but all the lower levels of being in an attempt at substitute gratification, token transcendence, and symbolic immortality."

Wilber goes on to suggest that..."the essential and unifying idea: namely, the egoic Atman project could exploit ( and thus distort):

1)  Material exchanges:  attempting to possess unlimited wealth and property, money and gold, goods and capital, as immortality symbols.

2) Emotional-sexual exchanges:  attempting to squeeze transcendent satisfaction out of orgasmic release and hedonistic overindulgence, or emotional excess in general.

3)  Verbal-membership exchanges:  attempting to verbally propagandize for one's own ideology and one's own version of symbolic immortatlity; attempting to distort ideally free communicative exchange in order to control membership consciousness and gain symbolic omnipotence; communicative distortion through defensive and substitutive maneuvers.

4)  Egoic self-esteem eschanges:  attempting to rob others of equal recognition and esteem by forcing one's own ego to be "number one", recognized above all others, cosmocentric and all glorified.

     There can be no doubt that the primary and immediate aim of any sane and humane social theory would be the relaxation and relief of oppression and repression, at every level of exchange in the compound individual.  Without in any way detracting from that aim, let us nevertheless conclude with the reminder that, although some of these evils (of oppression and repression) are only potential and not mandatory to the egoic level, nonetheless they are all tendencies possible to the egoic level-in anybody.  Granted they can be lessened and humanized; but the final point is that wherever there is exclusive ego, there is the egoic Atman project- and just that is the ultimate problem.

     As long as the egoic forms of the Atman project are present, just those types of exchange distortions, oppressions, repressions, inequalities, and injustices are guaranteed-both master and slave need them.  No wonder-to give only one short example-that Otto Rank said that economic equality is "beyond the endurance of the democratic type" of person.  And, I would add, the socialist type as well.  The democratic ego and the socialist ego are still egos, and egos by structure house the tendency and the power for exploitation, repression, and oppression.  As a frightening Czechoslovakian saying has it, "In democracy, man exploits man; in communism, it's the other way around."

     The reason equality is "beyond the ego" is that if everybody has the same amount and type of visible immortality symbols, then those symbols miserably fail their consoling purpose-we are all then equally immortal, which is to say, none of us is immortal.  Because we cannot find true and real transcendence and timelessness, we are reduced to stealing what immortality symbols and tokens of transcendence as we may from our fellow human beings.  This is one of the factors that lead to exploitation (the king and state can always grab faster than a citizen alone can), and social inequality (some citizens can, however, grab faster than others), and radical class stratification (quick grabbers on top, slow ones on bottom).  "Modern man cannot endure economic equality, because he has no faith in self-transcendent...symbols [that is, in real transcendence]; visible physical worth is the only thing he has to give him [substitutive or symbolic] eternal life."  And that type of analysis is true on all levels of exchange, material to emotional to verbal to egoic-we will find true Atman, or we will deliver exchanges of all levels into the hands of the Atman project.

     I suppose the Buddha, with his own penetrating insight into the necessary relationship between attachment, fear, and hatred, could probably have put it all very simply.  For according to the Buddha, hatred and aggression arise wherever there is attachment (clinging and grasping), for one mobilizes to defend one's attachments.  Aggression, in this sense, is property defense.   Even in the animal world, aggression almost always occurs as a simple defense of territorial property.  But man alone of all the animals has a property in his person, and thus a new form of aggression:  man alone will lash out blindly to defend his egoic immortality status and "save face" (save the mask).  Each attachment, each property, whether internal as self or external as possessions, acts as a stick point or lesion in choiceless awareness that will fester with the stench of hostility.  This lesion, this person/property defense, this new twist in the Atman project, can fuel both oppression and repression, for one aggresses internally and externally to protect the person/property.

     And mankind will never, but never, give up this type of murderous aggression, war, oppression and repression, attachment and exploitation, until men and women give up that property called personality.  Until, that is, they awaken to the transpersonal.  Until that time, guilt, murder, property, and persons will always remain synonymous."

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Starts & Scrubs

I've found gainful employment and seeds are ordered and some of last year's seeds have been sprouted and are germinating.  Neighbors have graciously allowed us to make use of one of their outbuildings for germinating our seeds.  It's close and very spacious...good light!  I'm working in housekeeping at a local surgical center.  I work a swing shift 3 times one week and 2 the next.  I am by no means getting rich, but the income keeps me from dipping into my savings.  The facility is state of the art.  The machines, my co-workers and the swing shift I work are interesting, challenging and doable.  My job allows me time to garden and devote time to personal development.  I have purchased biodynamic preparations from the Josephine Porter Institute and I can hardly wait to dig into our compost piles, consolidating the several piles we have and adding the prep's.  I've been reading several very interesting books on the spiritual aspects of gardening.  You probably didn't realize there were spiritual aspects of gardening, neither did I, at first, but the more I read about what we don't know, what we do know about sub atomic physics, the power of intention, etc...the more I realize that magic does exist.  I am still meditating.  I look forward to it every morning and to the stretching that keeps me limber and quick.  The snow is melting.  Winter seems to be departing.  I have started "sitting" outside on the deck facing east.  I listen to all kinds of birds:  robins, starlings, chickadees, pheasants, flickers, swans, geese, seagulls, magpies, song sparrows, waxwings, doves, chickens, ravens, woodpeckers, nuthatches, etc.  The earth is active and alive.  I wish you all the best this spring and encourage you to go outside as much as possible.  I'll keep you posted on the garden as it grows.