*“Civilization and the Travesty of Morals” … Chapter 9 of *Who to Be: Identity, Authenticity, and Crisis* (2020) by Michael Adzema. Free. Downloadable chapter.*
Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Uncivilized “Civilized” Man
“…in taking away all freedoms and rights from Nature and all its planetmates, eventually the rights of any being were no longer seen as of any concern. What another wished, intended, or wanted became increasingly unseen as a consideration, including, eventually, what a woman might want in terms of her body … and what a man might wish to do with his time … or his life. Power became the basis of morality.”
Civilization became about being controlling, narcissistic, baby-like in having insatiable desires and deeming it fine to satisfy them in any way one wished.
Civilization and the Travesty of Morals:
Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Uncivilized “Civilized” Man
We show our derelict nature, as hemmed in by civilization, in the major epic story emanating out of early history. It displays exactly how we changed in relation to Nature and how we beat our chests — brazen yet pathetic — about our downfall. Furthermore, it demonstrates how humans changed in their relation to planetmates, to their children, to the others in society, and in the way they thought of themselves and what they considered to be good and true ways to be in life. We see here how the more felicitous aims and the more pleasurable “duties” of life became corrupted so as to produce the sour end product of the modern human — someone who could exterminate millions of people as they were fallen leaves, commit to world wars with uncountable dead, ravage and desecrate their very nest the planet Earth, and ensure the death of all life by radiating the planet for a half million years … a radiation that only tardigrades, microscopic animals, and not even cockroaches have any chance of surviving.
Everything, including who to be, who we were, and what were the proper aims of life changed with civilization. It is something we need to understand in order to correct this major fall from grace, this abomination that we became in Nature. This we must do so as to choose something different and to regain our proper role in relation to Nature and the Divine, in alignment with an actual, a real, not unreal, self, and our unique atmadharma, destiny, and mission in life.
Civilization in the Light of the Natural
The historical period this epic tale depicts is notably after that mythologically expressed in Genesis, after Cain and Abel. That story, and the others of Genesis, reflects some prehistoric happenings, occurring over the course of millions of years of evolution. The writer of the narrative in question is now describing, not just our beginnings as farmers and shepherds the way those biblical stories did. At this point we are in cities, we have hierarchy, and we have kings.
The story is The Epic of Gilgamesh. It is said to be the first great literary product, dating back to the time of Babylon. It is astonishing what it contains and how it has never never ever, right up to this day, been seen to be what it is — a depiction of the depraved values and unconsciousness that came about through our supposed “civilization” … perhaps even a hidden critique of civilization and its abominable elites, as we will see. We take that up in this chapter.
It also tells us what became of us in the course of our deeming the world to be non-alive; how we doomed ourselves as well to mortality; how in killing off the alive world we in essence reduced our aliveness. We no longer saw ourselves as the immortal beings we are but reduced our self-perception as well to being mortal beings … pathetic beings relative to who we were.
Nature Versus Civilization
How did this epic show the first point, the travesty of morals? With absolute clarity the story contrasts two humans — one representing civilization, Gilgamesh; the other representing ourselves in Nature, Enkidu.
Now, Gilgamesh is the king, which signifies he is the controlling one and represents the controlling function of the psyche, the Ego. He depicts who we became in becoming more egoistic, more controlling of everything around us, ourselves, other people, and Nature. We became “kings of the jungle,” each of us, dominators of Nature. So Gilgamesh is civilized man.
Enkidu is natural man. He is primal man, for he is said to be “wild.” He lived in the wilderness, actually. Astonishingly, he was discovered through the fact that he, being attuned to and sympathetic of the planetmates still, was on the sly releasing our furry relatives from the traps that the “civilized” humans had been setting for them.
So you see the huge contrast. Now, note also what is said about their behavior. First, there is a conflict between the two setting off a huge fight between them. What starts the brawl is that Gilgamesh is determined to rape this woman and Enkidu blocks his way. You heard that correctly, the “civilized” man is the one who rapes; the “wild” man is the one who protects innocents. Just as he had been protecting the planetmates by, among other things, releasing them from traps, Enkidu was set on protecting other innocent and vulnerable beings … in this instance, women. Here already, we see echoes of modern times in which the sensitive and compassionate are deemed unmanly and termed “bleeding hearts.” Meanwhile, the ruthless and grasping are consecrated as being “real-worldly” and practical, and the power that insensitivity brings to them is admired, even applauded.
Oh, sure, in the context of the story, the non-consensual sex Gilgamesh was after, and partook of heartily in general and on many other occasions, was not labeled “rape.” No, and this is what is so amazing: The rape is considered okay and to be in keeping with morals! Remember what I was saying earlier about the elite determining religious dictates to suit themselves, while christening their desires with the power of divine authority and intent? They say their narcissistic drives are the commandments of the gods. Well, sure enough, the rape was “okay” in the context of the story … not a crime! nope … because it had been … ahem … ordered by the gods. In particular it was the solar god, the patriarchal one, Shamash, who supposedly authorized kingly rape. That is significant, the solar part; keep it in mind, for later.
Civilization’s Overwhelming Onslaught Against Natural Values … and Normal Human Feelings
You see how the easy and natural morality of Nature gets complicated … not to mention confused … once hierarchy and men with desires and power to attain them are brought into the mix? No doubt it takes quite a bit of propaganda and enforcement to so distort entire societies’ views of the obvious … not to mention to get them to dismiss their natural feelings for empathy coming into play during the execution of these “divinely ordained” assaults and wrongs. Certainly, the cries and wishes of the raped woman are to be put out of one’s mind. Which is reminiscent of the way the wishes of indigenous cultures are trampled as the industrial world exploits their land. Or how the weeping of the mothers for their obliterated children in countries bombed for oil and corporate power cannot be heard, let alone heeded.
Yet this kind of suppression of such a powerful natural part of humans … which we call “our humanity,” in fact — which is to be averse to pain, suffering, and the domination and death of innocent others and to wish to prevent these in others out of a unity of feeling with the suffering other — is achieved in civilized culture.
You think, perhaps, this is of no consequence. You think it an obscure point of little effect on people’s lives. I am here to tell you this travesty of feeling come of civilization — with power and authority the wellspring of right and wrong … with might making right and power making privilege — is embedded deeply in civilizational culture. It is at the core of family life and even the modern psychologies sprung of deliberation of its dynamics. Let me give one example
Of the Oedipal Kind
While Freud’s Oedipus complex is not as much a part of the modern dialogue as it once was, it remains largely unchallenged, hence prevailing in the area it seeks to explain. It has long been subject to criticism as being culturally variable; it is said of it that it is a product primarily of civilized cultures, especially Western cultures. Yet as pertains to such cultures, it is not disputed in intellectual circles.
Well, what if I were to tell you that we can now see, in the light of experiential psychotherapies such as primal therapy, that such a depiction of the family dynamic is a consequence of the patriarchal “ethic” itself. Itself it is a “travesty of morals.” In a way parallel to the way Gilgamesh’s brutality is condoned, lauded even, we to this day have been advancing the idea of Oedipal and Electra conflicts at the heart of the childhood narrative. Freudians claim that a young boy wants to mate with his mother and replace his father; this is the Oedipus complex. Young girls want to mate with their dads and replace their mothers; this is the Electra complex. Both are resolved — it is said, “successfully” — by the child “identifying with the aggressor.” And you would think that depiction — the parent as the “aggressor” — might have given them a clue. For is that any different from the complicity of the oppressed and ruled, during Gilgamesh’s time, in kingly rape?
You don’t see it yet? Okay, to continue.
Well, no, it did not; identification with “the aggressor” fell silently on unillumined minds. For in modern societies and mainstream counseling and psychology it is thought that the successful resolution is had when the child surrenders her and his desires for closeness with the parent of the opposite gender and instead identifies with that parent. Stockholm syndrome, anyone?
But, no. Not understood. For this “resolution” assumes a superficial understanding of the dynamic. When actually this “development” has two distinctly patriarchal components — a pandering and sycophancy regarding authority, along with a condemnation of the weak, vulnerable, and needy. That is to say, this explanation exonerates the parent’s role, and the parent’s behavior, in the drama, and places blame on the child. The child is not seen as innocent; the parent is. Self-congratulate much? Scapegoat much?
Whereas from the perspective of primal psychology this Oedipal-Electra dynamic is entirely different: The child, innocent, having natural and fundamental needs for love, attention, respect, and so on, wishes to receive them of both parents, including the one of the opposite gender. Meanwhile that parent, aloof, insensitive, and having been deprived and Oedipalized and Electra-lized him- or herself as a child, wants both to push the loving child away as well as sexualize the child, wishing to get a sexually symbolic substitute from their child of what they were deprived growing up. When this is acted out, and it often is, we have incest. To think that it is the child, innocent of such understandings of sexuality and not confusing sex with simple affection — as the parent does — that is the instigator of either the sexual use-abuse or the Oedipal-Electra desire for intimacy is just another aspect of the authoritarian, patriarchal schema we have had thrown upon our perspectives from the time of the birth of civilization.
Rather, the essence of these dynamics of childhood is best explained in the dynamic of the primal scene, which, according to Janov, occurs around the age of four or five … not coincidentally the same time as these Freudian dynamics. To think that a child of four or five is sexually desiring the parent is not only child abuse, it is typical of the way ordinary and innocent love and feelings of closeness are sexualized in civilized and predominantly patriarchal societies, where such ordinary feelings …. as we see Enkidu had … is disparaged and repressed.
What is actually going on in these dynamics is that the child, in the case of the boy, sees the father’s distinctly patriarchal abuse and disrespect of the mother — the mother from whom that child came, who nursed that child, who is in a way large or small bonded with that child. You see, the Oedipus complex, if we want to call it that, arises out of a child’s innocent reaction to the misogyny … to the pervasive misogyny displayed in all kinds of ways, subtle and not so, in the culture. So also in the child’s own father. The child, now, with innocent eyes, sees the disrespect … even if others do not … sees the abuse, and wants to come to the mother’s defense. The abuse is bad enough so that the boy imagines saving the mother from the assaults of the father … exactly the way Enkidu wished to block the way of Gilgamesh from raping the bride!
The son, from this perspective, is trying to protect the mother from a dangerous and violent husband. Then when patriarchal apologists, in the guise of psychoanalysts and mainstream counselors, see this dynamic they impugn the purity of the child’s love in sycophantic and society-sanctioning support of the father — both condoning the father’s brutality of the mother and the boy, as well as projecting onto the boy the father’s twisted feelings, himself jealous of the attention his wife gives his son. In this manner, scapegoating the boy, the father covers up the guilt that would otherwise come of acknowledging his own jealousy.
Of the Electra Kind
On the female side, the girl, naturally bonded with the mother as well, wants also to be loved by the father. Why would not a child, or anyone, want to be loved by both important figures in the young one’s life? Yet here again, the father’s twisted, perverted desires to have his daughter sexually is projected onto the child. “It’s not me! She’s the one who is seducing me!” As common as is this thinking in regard to sexual predators and incestual fathers, you would think that psychological theorists somewhere along the way would have seen through this paternal gambit and stopped blaming the daughter for the parent’s erotic leanings. But they did not…. And that is why I bring this up in this chapter on civilization and the travesty of morals. For the Electa and Oedipal complexes are a common, everyday example of how morality got turned on its head with civilization.
I will get into this again later, when I go in more detail into this area of the identification with the aggressor, a concept alone fertile with insight. But for now, do you see how the patriarchy, like the story of Gilgamesh, sanctions the abuse of others and slanders the intentions of those who would defend those innocents out of empathy and feeling for them? Notice here how the cultures of contemporary and patriarchal societies include the same processes of the family dynamic…. Elites, just like fathers, are to be protected and sanctioned in their brutality, whereas the opposition … rebels and sons … are to be slandered and their intentions distorted so as to discredit them.
Of the Patriarchal Kind
Though such repression and such a campaign of slander and propaganda has always required, and still does, an immense amount of power, military, police and security forces, control of media, clergy, and the professional service class to bring it about. You can see how, from the Oedipus-Electra projections, that would include its mental health professionals. However, this was all done during most of historic time through brute force. By contrast, contemporary societies have gotten ever subtler in the use of propaganda and coercive enforcement of unnatural, but elite-serving, dictums.
For that matter, and equally astounding, is that such propaganda, to this day, is not seen for the ruse it is. In a popular interpretation of The Epic of Gilgamesh, the author, Stephen Mitchell (2004), states that “we are told ‘Enkidu’s face went pale with anger,’ but we aren’t told why he is angry.”3 This he writes concerning Enkidu’s reaction to finding out that Gilgamesh will force himself upon the bride and have his way with her after the wedding ceremony. This is a lot like we see in the Abraham and Isaac story. With Abraham and Isaac, a natural response is to think that it is insane to think that a god would tell a person to kill his child. That is the child noticing the emperor has no clothes. It takes “culture” to tell us that there is something religious going on, something to do with God, in a story about a man having a “spiritual” message to kill someone. Similarly, that someone’s rage at someone else’s intention to rape is questionable, as it is for Mitchell, requires quite a bit of cultural propaganda to be able to think. Again, that innocent child, able to see an emperor with no clothes, sees nothing strange about a man being enraged by another man’s intention to rape a woman. But not this author, Stephen Mitchell. He writes, “This leaves us with the raw emotion of Enkidu’s anger … unexplained and uninterpretable….”
Yet, Enkidu is not confused, at all! Morality, for the natural person such as Enkidu, is simple: What a person or planetmate wants and chooses is important and to be respected. Taking away that right causes suffering and is wrong, especially if one trounces the other’s desires and wishes with one’s own. No confusion at all with a natural morality in mind. Substituting one’s own wants for another’s amounts to domination … making oneself more important than the other. On a societal level, it is called oppression. Regardless, forcing sex on someone, as occurs in the story, is a clear no-no to an unassuming mind, a clear one … such as Enkidu’s.
Furthermore, that author of the Gilgamesh publication for our times offers a rather jolting apologetic for the patriarchy. He reminds that the rape is okay because it was sanctioned by the gods. Correspondingly, he expresses his confusion as to what the to-do about it is. Why is Enkidu enraged, he wonders. “Hasn’t he understood that this is a ritual act sanctioned by the gods?”
Let me stop laughing at that before I continue. Notice both the sanctioning-by-gods part, but also that Mitchell is glossing over the brutality of a rape with the euphemism that it is part of a “ritual.” Which is not part of the story, at all. This is an astounding reflection, however, of the way religion is brought in to sanction the desires of elites and to rule out any nods to common empathy and human feeling.
Okay, in so doing the author impresses his own inability to see the obvious onto his reader. He passes along the confusion about morals that adhere once elites begin inserting their desires into public morality. Mitchell writes, “One thing it [this supposedly “not knowing” of the reason for Enkidu’s rage] means is that we don’t take sides. Yes, Gilgamesh is a tyrant but he is also magnificent. Yes, he mates with the lawful wife, but this apparent sexual predation may be in the divine order of things, and to oppose it is not necessarily virtuous.” And, if he believes that, well, I have some fine and wonderful preemptive wars and soldierly massacres of civilians he can next explain to us … along with the lies and harmful decrees of an American president beholden only to his inner demons for council.
Am I the only one cringing at this author’s twisted words of sycophancy? Not that this man is sycophantic to Gilgamesh, of course, but clearly the author, raised in a patriarchy and schooled in its elitist and traditionally patriarchal, hallowed halls has not a clue of the obvious in the story. The obvious which is that — rules of the elite and the privileges of the elite be damned — a rape is a rape and is a horror, to any innocent and honorable person. Clearly it is that way in the story itself, as we see in Enkidu’s reaction. This is the case however much you might have the law, or the supposed approval of the gods (the ones enlisted in support of the divine order of kings … and that should be a hint), to support it. As you will soon see, I do not believe even the ancient author (or authors) of The Epic of Gilgamesh are as confused … or sycophantically blind … as is this modern-day author.
How can I not simply hear Kellyanne Conway, Spencer Spicer, or Sarah Huckabee Sanders trying to explain Donald Trump’s many inconsistencies and lies in these remarks. Such are the perils of sycophancy. Once one has given over one’s perception of the obvious to patriarchs and authorities, one is left having to spout inane rationalizations … and to struggle to believe them oneself. One might even think that there are “alternative facts” to justify the inane pronouncements and behaviors of “kings” and tyrants … and unjustly installed American presidents.
The “Morality” of Power
This pattern in civilized and demented … devolved … societies of rewriting the obvious about existence to suit their elites is seen many other places. Indeed, as I said we see it in the Abraham and Isaac story. In both cases, the atrocity — the rape or the killing of a child — is rationalized. For the abomination is attributed to a patriarch — in particular, one aligned with a patriarchal god. And readers and interpreters for millennia afterward, therefore and right up to today, fail to notice the obvious wrong and brutality involved. The masses of humanity having been programmed in alignment with patriarchal cultures to deny their feelings, along with their own perceptions and their own obvious interpretations of events, most folks are to this day utterly confused about the meaning of a natural morality that arises out of empathy and feelings.
Morality Explained, Confused
This is so prevalent that I came across it most recently in a meeting a few of us had on the issue of ethics. We were preparing for a panel discussion on ethics in an era of Trumpism, incidentally. This issue came up as to what might be a common ground of morality for all cultures and peoples of the world. In the ensuing discussion, I offered that a common denominator of all beings is a natural morality — in line with ordinary human feelings and empathy — which is that life is good, death is bad; that suffering and pain inflicted on others is bad; that help, kindness, love, and anything positive offered others is good. Simple, right? Christ summed it up, “love your neighbor as yourself.” There could not be a better, more concise expression of the unity with and empathy for other people being the basis of morality than that. Christ is saying, another’s suffering is as much to be avoided as one’s own, another’s happiness is as much to be desired as one’s own.
I also offered, as a corollary for it follows from the first, that this morality could be summed up in the non-directive directive, “You can do anything you want, as long as you don’t hurt anyone.” Well, immediately, the reaction was, “Well, you’re going to have a hell of a lot of people having a problem with that!” Clearly, for most all of us, by this time in history, the idea of good and bad has gotten mixed up with dictums of do’s and don’ts of behavior — handed down and instilled in us from some outside authority or others — which are split from any feelings and in which empathy is irrelevant. Often these pronouncements are attributed to random inclinations of some transcendent god or other.
For example, that recreational drug use, including the kind that is overtly mind-expanding (psychedelic) or wholeness-directing (holotropic) or facing toward God (entheogenic); that any kind of consensual sex, including homosexuality, sodomy, masturbation, consensual non-monogamy; that “swearing” and “profanity” or “taking God’s name in vain”; and so on … many other examples could be given and they vary widely by culture and religion … are in themselves hurtful to anyone is clearly not true. On the other hand, that these are individualistic impulses which are contrary to having a uniformly alike mass of people, easily managed and manipulated to the ends and profits of an elite, is certainly true. The only things such free and uninhibited behavior hurt are the profits of the powerful and the desires of the elite for the populace to be constrained, obedient, unexpressive, and thereby manageable. And this, for their profits, but also as preemptive action against the rising up of the populace, which such expression if not smothered, naturally results in.
Despite this, the masses of folks, throughout civilizational history, have gotten it into their heads that there is a god or some gods somewhere who want us to abide by such kind of inane directives, regardless how little sense they contain or import they have on human happiness. And the masses are willing to kill, torture, and war … i.e., do all kinds of evil things … in allegiance to such nonsensical “commandments” and directed against all others not abiding by them.
Again, just like in Eden and as we will see, in Abraham and Isaac, morality does not have to make sense. It can be random, capricious, nonsensical, even. The Abraham story in particular imposes that misperception: Obey, regardless! It does not have to make sense to one’s own sense of morality, one’s own feelings of right and wrong.
Follow the Money, Follow the Power, Follow the Ego
You can see how convenient having such a populace believing such a thing would be for the purposes of warring on others; but notice also how it works toward the masses obeying in all matters emanating in profit to the elite, or to their ego-aggrandizement (notice how often the truly nonsensical word “glory” is used in patriarchal tomes, including this one regarding Gilgamesh), or to the Controllers’ desire-satisfaction, regardless how perverted. It takes a truly repressed, non-individualistic, unexpressive, and unfree people to satisfy the predilections of the narcissistic elites of all civilized societies.
Yet a closer look reveals that such injunctions trace conveniently upon the predilections of the elites of society, then and now. Just as the patriarchal god Shamash’s permission of rape for the king could not be more self-serving to Gilgamesh. Despite this, the fact that people are hypnotized into believing that morality does not have to make sense, that obedience to nonsensicals is a good thing, shows how successful patriarchy has been in confusing morality for people in general in order to mask their desire to do whatever they want for themselves and to punish whatever they want, however ridiculous, in their subjects.
Conversely, patriarchy’s overwhelming success in deluding folks into adhering to the ridiculous in order to suit the elite’s desires is shown in how the idea that there is a good part of a person, an empathy or feelings, that would naturally, as in a natural morality, stand in the way of harming and causing suffering, is completely eliminated from the imagined possibilities of humans. And this depiction of human nature as inherently vile and deranged, therefore needing reining in, punishment, control, and so on … well, can you see how that plays directly into the hands of the patriarchal elite? For if humans are naturally “wild” and uncontrolled, then do not they require these elites and their self-serving dictums, authorized by their concocted and inherently capricious and not-understandable “gods,” to keep them in line, to “keep the peace,” to provide religion, police, psychiatrists, jails, pharmaceuticals, punishments — however self-serving to the elites, yet in this way justified to an oppressed and mind-controlled populace?
In any case, observing all this, I see how radical and necessary our generational injunction to “question authority” was, and still is, for the righting of our ethical boat. Clearly this contemporary author of the Gilgamesh interpretation did not get that memo.
The Travesty of Morals
Back to the story, Enkidu’s protecting the woman is not an incidental happening, either. We see it is part of a pattern where the values and ethics one would expect … where goodness is equated with life values such as life over death, and less suffering over more suffering, and more respect for other’s rights and feelings over less respect or brutality over other’s rights and feelings, and harmony with one’s environment over aggressive and destructive acts regarding one’s environment … are completely overturned. They get reversed in each and every instance.
Civilization, Elites … Might, and Materialism, Makes Right
Somehow we see the wonders of the rising up of cities — and in these days the miraculous products of material civilization, such as our electronic devices and the other amazing products displayed in our markets — as more civilized than goodness or morality … or the reduction of anyone’s pain and suffering or the limitation of deaths. Regardless what we tell ourselves, we feel that being good at making “things” is more “good,” more moral, than simple things like kindness, respect for lives, or reducing the inevitable suffering of other living beings. Indeed, it is not coincidental that in “civilized” societies, material things — especially that produced by the hands and by their extensions in industry — are deemed “goods.”
Why do you suppose so many in modern times — conservative types — give such a wide berth to the actions of the titans of industry? Those who we deem to be creators of the material world around us we allow all kinds of atrocities — murders, wars, despoliation of the environment. We say it is because they are job creators or “wealth” creators, when neither of those are true. See my Culture War, Class War (2013) on that, specifically.
In fact, all those rationalizations of the super-worthiness of the elite are evidence, merely, of our feelings that they are more powerful than us, they feel threatening to us, and we feel safer being sycophantic regarding them. Hence we will grant rich folks free rein in the moral sphere, along with forgiveness of their horrible crimes, rather than acknowledge the obvious. Notice, as a perfect example of this, how George W. Bush and his cadre of well-to-do war profiteers in modern times were allowed to walk away from their many crimes. Consider how the bulls of Wall Street were actually rewarded with payoffs for their actions that brought so much death and hardship to world citizens at the time of the global economic collapse of 2008. Meanwhile, ordinary folks — especially in America, African-American males — are prosecuted for petty infractions or attacked, even killed, for nothing at all.
For our purposes in this book, simply notice how we in modern civilization, in actual fact, are not much different from the slaves and subjects in ancient Egypt. For we glorify our “pharaohs” as well, and we allow all kinds of cruelties and atrocities of those who are good at making “things” … the bigger the better — skyscrapers, pyramids. Remember, the rich and powerful Donald Trump — sexual predator, liar, racist, cheater of workers, misogynist and user and disrespecter of women, and tax-dodger — was allowed to be installed as a president not long ago. Morality does not apply to the ones we deem so much higher above us in being able to wield power and to make and do things we could not imagine ourselves pulling off.
The point is that morals become a surreal travesty with civilization, and we see that represented in that Enkidu, the “wild” man, steps in to block the “civilized” man from attacking a woman. What of Gilgamesh and his intentions? Well, he deems it his right to rape any woman in his kingdom that he wishes. See in that how much civilization became about being controlling and being narcissistic and baby-like in having insatiable desires and deeming it fine to satisfy them in any way one wishes, irrespective of their effects on anyone else. Uh, Trump reference again, perhaps? Remember, as he himself put it, he’s a celebrity so he can get away with anything … and all manner of “pussy grabbing” and the like is within his purview, without consequence.
Beyond that, Gilgamesh considers it his right to dominate and control his male “subjects,” removing from them their free will, as well. Yes, he is described as oppressing his “subjects,” along with raping at will, the women. After all, he is king, isn’t that his prerogative? You see how odd it is in all these millennia that it never occurred to anyone to question the “civility” of that? At least in relation to Enkidu’s “wildness” in setting planetmates free from traps? What does that say about us? About the human blinders, the blinders of civilization, that block our awareness of the obvious?
Not to mention, what it says about which stratum of societies determines what ideas will be promulgated therein; what will be professed, by scholars; who will be appointed to teach at institutions of higher learning; or whose books, up till only a few decades ago with the digital revolution, will see the light of day.
Civilization and the Rape of Nature and the Divine
In any case, raping women and oppressing his “subjects” as he goes, Gilgamesh adds additional crimes. He shows how our diminished awareness as humans separated from Nature gets acted out on Nature … and even the Divine!
Gilgamesh proceeds to a forest, the Cedar Forest, and he cuts down all its sacred wood. He kills, also, the “monster” protecting this arboreal stand from abuse, as easily as modern corporations roll over and kill off indigenous cultures also trying to save their environments. Throughout history this has happened, by the way. Regardless, we see how this attack on the Cedar Forest and its guardian is an aggression and controlling of the sacred Flora Kingdom.
Subsequently, Gilgamesh kills, also, the Bull of Heaven, which is clearly symbolic of taking the life and soul of the Fauna Kingdom. Significantly, it is a bull. After all, cattle — cows and the like — were among the first designs of humans for “domestication” and control. Notice also that it is “of heaven.” Indeed, in one of the more legitimate instances in the story of divine intent, the bull was sent from on high as punishment to Gilgamesh for his crime against Nature.
Furthermore, this killing of the Bull of Heaven indicates how we descended into patriarchal religion, from Earth religions … how we suppressed matriarchal, goddess, “lunar” religions in favor of “sky” or “solar” religions, patriarchal ones, when we “advanced” to increasing dependence on farming and “civilization” in the creation of urban centers and its increasing separation from Nature.
In any case, Gilgamesh takes the Bull of Heaven and kills it. In taking the lives of the forest and that of heaven, we see here a humanity, specifically a “man”kind, a civilized patriarchy, at war with both Earth and heaven … with both Nature and the Divine.
Civilization, its Seductions and Regrets
Gilgamesh enlists Enkidu’s help, by the way. You see how this is symbolic of how our “civilized” self, our unreal self, took over and suppressed the values of our natural self, our real self? Indeed, that is exactly what the epic portrays. It says that a harlot seduces Enkidu and then entices him into drinking alcohol and eating bread. Notice here how becoming civilized is being equated with the eating of food produced, not by Nature, but by farming. By grain … the bread.
It is also associated with another product of grains, beer, which significantly is intoxicating. So, the ecstatic ceremonies of the “wild” folks — the gatherer-hunters, in actual history — which often employed hallucinogenic and specifically entheogenic (entheogen means “toward God”) plants and substances, get supplanted by “recreational” pastimes in which are used drugs that do not open one to God but instead cover up the conscience that is in forever alarm at what civilized humanity does. Opiates that conceal the atrocities of the higher ups, along with one’s own, are desired by all concerned in a civilized, demented, degenerate, elite-controlled society, of course.
In fact, the story reveals that Enkidu, the first “wild” man seduced into civilization, has a burning conscience, causing him regret. He bemoans everything that has been wrought of his “descent” into civilization.
The Gods Do Not Approve
For one thing, remember that Enkidu was saving his fellow planetmates from their traps. Subsequently, the “gods” enlist Enkidu to “rein in” Gilgamesh. Notice that here in this epic, almost despite itself, it is giving note that the Divine does not approve of the behavior emanating from humans as a result of their “civilization.”
In fact nowhere did the “gods” in ancient times approve of our descents; whether it was the crimes of Prometheus, Adam and Eve, Cain, or Gilgamesh. It took more modern times, Christianity, and Western culture to begin having a God approving of our lives as abominations in Nature.
We see the epitome of that today where fundamentalist religion in the West — especially as depicted by Tea-Party-type folks in America — is equated with Western civilization and its materialism more than anything at all transcendent or sacred. Capitalism has become equated with Divinity in America in modern times. You can hear that equation in any religious pronouncements from Republicans today. It is civilization, and especially its modern material consumer-obsessed form, that is considered holy. And nationalism, which defends, with all manner of military methods, that material culture, is deemed as sacred, or more so, than God. Look for yourself at the worship around the American flag. Notice for yourself how in churches the American flag will be displayed upon the altars along with all the religious iconography.
Back to the Gilgamesh story, it is the wild man Enkidu who is moral. And whereas we presume civilization to have higher morality than humans in the wild, as does the epic on the face of it, it cannot help but reveal that the gods don’t think this at all! For Enkidu represents a “natural morality,” one that emanates from all humans at their base — before the priests and “theologies” come in to muck it up. A natural morality which is that what is good is what is related to life, not death; and is what is related to less suffering, not more suffering. And it is this “natural conscience” of humans, represented by Enkidu, that the gods seek to enlist to rein in “civilized” man, Gilgamesh.
Notice how at odds that is with the story, which has Gilgamesh, according to the laws and rules of “man,” with the right to rape women and oppress men. Gilgamesh in raping women did not do “wrong” according to the morality of the day. Indeed, in the epic, it is said that the gods have given Gilgamesh this lurid “right,” which all patriarchal religions have done — undergirding the power and privilege of the elites everywhere, as long as there have been hierarchical societies. Consider how in taking away all freedoms and rights from Nature and all its planetmates, eventually the rights of any being, even human, were no longer seen as of any concern. What another wished, intended, or wanted became increasingly invisible as a consideration, including, eventually, what a woman might want in terms of her body … and what a man might wish to do with his time … or his life. Power became the basis of morality. But the gods — and they knew Enkidu, the natural man, would feel the same — did not see it that way. The gods did not see morality according to “man’s” rules, regardless what men would claim regarding them.
We see this in Genesis where Yahweh, the God of the Jews, prefers the offering of Abel, the sheepherder, and not Cain, the farmer. Remember, as herders we still retained a bond with planetmates; we conscribed their wanderings, but we also cared for them. We killed them eventually, but we also allowed them to grow to full maturity. We did not allow them to roam freely, yet they were able to roam.
Whereas the farmer has no such connection or bond with the planetmates. The farmer exhibits a greater separation from Nature and the Divine and a more extreme objectification of the alive Universe around him, including its planetmates. He shows this in the way he enlists the efforts of planetmates toward the tilling of the soil; the way a farmer holds a cow in place, imprisons it, in order to steal from it daily its milk meant for its offspring. In the way the farmer does the same imprisoning of fowl for the purpose of daily removing their offspring to be eaten by humans. So the farmer, to do that, cannot have the same kind of sensitivities toward planetmates as herders; and earth-tillers must necessarily suppress their natural feelings — their “natural” morality — just like we did earlier in order to allow our ability to murder planetmates — in other words, to hunt.
The point here is that — despite the literature of man basically being construed in ways so as to bolster the elite and to orchestrate the “civilized” members of society along the lines of the powerful — our literary creations cannot but help reveal the Divine displeasure at said “civilization” and separation from Nature. The Unapproved and Hidden Freudian-slips out into the world through the doorway of the storytellers’ creative fervor.
In fact, in reading the epic one can justly consider the writer or writers might actually have been trying to express their own disapproval and complaint about such a status quo, however in the only way one could at such a time, with patriarchs everywhere in power and controlling everything, including any literary productions. Such a literary product might have been reproduced, promulgated, and eventually come to light, only because its criticism — clear as a bell to any with the sensitivity and sanity to see it — is so overlaid and hidden with the usual glorification of power and the powerful, which it also provides.
Perhaps even the author’s original writing was edited by the powers-that-be of the time prior to its inscription in stone — much as any of our media-produced books today must bow to the prevailing academic and political gods in order to see the light of day. Perhaps it was infused with all this glorification of kingship and the right and behavior of kings by the elite themselves, much as one might, as Donald Trump did recently, edit another’s tweet so as to make it fit with his prejudices and desires. Regardless, hidden inside a shell of the required sycophancy is why this pearl of insight and complaint into the injustices of early hierarchies was allowed to survive. Just as the spiritual aspects of alchemy, during the Middle Ages, are said to have been covered up in scientific metaphor to hide them from the light of an otherwise direly disapproving Catholic hegemony, so also we might see here during the time of ancient Mesopotamia such a ruse to safeguard the writer.
All that understood, next in this part let us look more closely at some of what amounts to the mythology around the primal scene and the Oedipal conflict. Naturally, we start with the ancient story of Oedipus.
— this is an excerpt from *Who to Be: Identity, Authenticity, & Crisis* by Michael Adzema. It has just been released for publication as of March, 20th, 2020. Click to order print or digital copies and go to Michael Adzema’s Author’s Page at Amazon for other books, info, and updates.
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About Dance of the Seven Veils II and about The Path of Ecstasy Series. Upcoming works by Michael Adzema
About Dance of the Seven Veils II and about The Path of Ecstasy Series:
Upcoming works by Michael Adzema
— Which is the Afterword of *Dance of the Seven Veils I: Primal/Identity Psychology, Mythology, and Your Real Self* by Michael Adzema
Continue with Dance of the Seven Veils II and about The Path of Ecstasy Series
Upcoming works by Michael Adzema
This book, while the first of three in Dance of the Seven Veils, is also one volume out of a series of books begun, and planned, which I am titling, The Path of Ecstasy Series. Which series is separate from and paralleling the one series of mine already well along — the Return to Grace Series of fifteen volumes of which nine are in print at this time. I wish, here, to share with my readers what they can look forward to in this series, The Path of Ecstasy.
Book One, The Secret Life of Stones
This was the first book in The Path of Ecstasy Series. Being the launching point, it introduced and touched on many of the new perspectives developed and elaborated in the subsequent works. It presented a comprehensive new overstanding of Reality — a new map, if you will — comprising elements usually categorized under Idealism, in philosophy; and pantheism and panentheism, in religion. The essence of this new-paradigm view is that Reality — the Universe in its totality — is basically Consciousness or Subjectivity and that the seemingly physical part of It is a mere epiphenomenon of that all-inclusive Beingness … a Beingness which I have termed, Experience.
Coinciding with that perspective is a perceived awareness that such Subjectivity undergirding the material universe is not separated into parts, as we think normally — with different experienced realities whirling away inside the separate “boxes” of different physical bodies. Rather this Subjectivity is not only shared, it is singular. There is only one of It. And we, immersed in this Universal pool of Experience, are merely areas of It which are “lit” in our own uniquely configured way, through our focus on and participation in those elements within It. We are different experiential regions of It, though we are not separate from each other. Rather we are overlapping experiential fields, ultimately interconnected with All.
This way of looking at things is in direct contrast to the dominant materialist old-paradigm stance of modern times, which holds that the world is basically matter. Regarding consciousness? Well, it is thought to be an epiphenomenon of matter — an offshoot of it. Which consciousness, by the way, springs inexplicably into existence at some point, yet unknown, along the billions of years trajectory of biological evolution.
Meanwhile, the non-separation involved in the new cosmic overstanding, which has Experience as Reality’s base, is demonstrated empirically. This has been revealed in quantum physics as well as the new biology — where the phenomena of morphic resonance and morphogenetic fields point to a sharing of subjective space, or fields, or a Common Intersubjectivity. As the quantum physicist, Schrödinger, put it, “The number of minds in the universe is a total of one.”
Various other experiences of “experience-sharing” are verifiable — such as the trans-species experience and identification with aspects of the so-called “material” world. Both experiences of being other animate beings as well as being parts of the physical world have been described by Stanislav Grof in his many works as occurring quite frequently.
And, yes, for those who are waiting, in this last — identification with and experience of aspects of the material universe — is where we encounter the consciousness of matter … “of stones,” metaphorically speaking. It is here where we get a peek into “the secret life of stones.”
We find that we understand and partake of the inner experience of Nature — animate and inanimate — in at least some way that is not so much less than we partake of and are able to understand the experience and inner states of other humans. The extent of similarity between people is what accounts for the degree of accuracy in our abilities to do that, in the normal sense of ordinary consciousness, which is called empathy. Though in the sense of it occurring in a nonordinary state of consciousness, well even the amount of similarity, or difference, between such units of being is not such a barrier.
Indeed, the history of science in the last hundred years has amounted to a gradual giving back to Nature of its status as aware and conscious, which was initially taken away by Western hubris in regard to Nature. So, we have animal rights, the “secret life of plants,” and so on, in a gradual procession of acknowledgment over the decades. I need to add that, sadly, before that we even needed to bring awareness to the facts of children’s and babies’ consciousness. Remember, there was a time when it was thought that newborns do not feel pain. That is merely one example.
Even, if you can believe it, Western culture needed to acknowledge women’s feeling consciousness. In a similar way, in fact, some societies have considered folks in other societies as lacking in feeling awareness. And some strata of society have denied the feeling consciousness of certain “lower” segments of the population … or even of other races, as when we had slavery. I am reminded of recently hearing the pronouncements of a political figure and industrial mining titan of early Twentieth Century America rationalizing his insensitive treatment of workers as that they do not experience suffering … not really. Hard to believe, isn’t it?
Thus, my book, The Secret Life of Stones, only continues the reversal of such abject greed and cruelty manifesting as the lack of empathy and the stupidity as we see in the examples above. Still, it seems the understandings of the consciousness and aliveness in the inanimate world, the world of matter — which are the most recent and necessary conclusions, arising from the findings of quantum physics and modern consciousness research — are the most difficult of which to grasp.
Yet, matter is alive, is conscious. Our sciences do tell us. There is an awareness in the physical world which is beyond our imagining. The Universe is at base Consciousness, Absolute Subjectivity, Experience, or mind-stuff. This is the finding of quantum physics and Consciousness research. Does that not imply that matter and stones are, somehow, aspects of that Consciousness, mind-stuff, Experience?
No doubt about it, there is a secret life in the Universe. It is found everywhere and in the most unlikely places. The physical world is an illusion arising from our human perception, we have found; and the fundamental reality is consciousness; it is experiential. When you look at a mountain you are seeing Experience, in some indirect way. This is the conclusion of the new physics and our latest consciousness research. There is a secret life of stones.
The Secret Life of Stones is a journey that explores the territory approaching and bordering that overstanding of matter being alive. Not just humans, plants, and animals, but all the physical world is alive. This vision of a world pregnant with Being, beyond our imagining, is the catalyst for the revolution needed in our times. It does change everything we think we know, in science, and otherwise. It brings forth a perception of reality as something in which we are immersed that is on our side, blessing us, supporting us, encouraging us — in all ways, large and small. Regardless our actions, our successes and failures, we are part of an aliveness interpenetrating us and connecting us with alive beings, experiential unites, and higher realities. It is a web, unable to be broken, in which the spot of it we see in life — with all its drama, dead ends, seeming fragmentation, circularity, and meaninglessness — is revealed to be perfect in every detail, in spite of us.
More even that that, it brings the blessing that we can be proud and noble in our rightful and truly honored place in the Universe. We can feel, rather than the cosmic aloneness to which we have relegated ourselves, the joy of cosmic belongingness, which is the right of all beings.
To our astonishment, the discovery of modern times and current science is that the boundaries of self are arbitrary and mutable. Quantum physics and modern consciousness research have revealed the possibility, once again — using psychotechnologies such as entheogens, holotropic breathwork, shamanism, deep experiential therapies, past-life regressions, and expanded forms of primal therapy — that we are not just the All, in potential, as in an experience of “becoming one with God” or in an opening to the All That Is. Along with and more easily than that, our sciences and psychotechnologies have revealed that we can take up one of the infinite foci already existing in Reality, or in potential within It, and actually be, for a time, another entity … be it an insect; a star system; a single celled animal; a sperm or egg cell; a planet, such as Gaia, the Earth; and anything in between. And amazingly, even far beyond.
Using these rediscovered and newly invented psychotechnologies, people are able to identify with and experience the consciousnesses not only of other planetmates — that is, of other species on Earth — but also are able to merge with and experience the consciousness of higher orders of beings: the Earth; individual planets; the galaxy; individual collections of people, such as the women of all time; and even collectives of supranormal beings and realities, including archetypal consciousnesses and their subjective experience. It is possible to experience consciousness of supposedly inanimate, non-living forms and even identify with consciousnesses on the atomic and subatomic levels.
Not only is the Universe alive and we are interconnected with it, but we find we can experience it. We can expand our boundaries or pass through them into the experiential realms of seemingly separate beings and Realities. And we discover we are all alike, inside, though we act and exist within different forms. Therefore, we can grok the inner realities of others, animate and inanimate. So trees bloom for the joy of it. Bees delight in their tasks. The ocean is deep, wise, and comforting. And the Universe is pervaded by love, which we erroneously label gravity. This is what we know because we are part of Reality, part of Nature, part of Divinity and not superior to it as the Judeo-Christian religions presume…. Or fallen from it like we are some kind of alien fruit that was somehow projected out of a tree, a Nature, that we have no part of, as fuddy-duddy scientists assume.
The Secret Life of Stones explains how all of this is so and reveals the profound implications that has for us and for how we live our lives. This book can be described as an adventure in logic surrounding an investigation into the discoveries on the cutting edge of our sciences, bringing forth the most profound and comprehensive philosophy, to date. We walk hand-in-hand through that new and wondrous country; we follow all the paths we find there, brought into view by this new cosmic overstanding.
Book Two, Dance of the Seven Veils I:
Identity/Primal Psychology, Mythology, and Your Real Self
Adult to Toddler, Veils One-Three.
This book, the second volume in The Path of Ecstasy Series, is the first of three parts on this topic of the Seven Veils. This first part answers the questions, who to be? And, what is the real self? It deals with our stage of adulthood and goes back to that of toddlerhood. It is all about pulling back the Veils of anthropocentrism and species-superiority, which is Veil One; the hidden agendas of societies and especially its elites which get construed as rites of passage and initiation into adulthood for young girls and boys and which thus corrupt their personalities along lines not their own, which is Veil Two; and the layers of parental abuse, misdirection, control and direction, for their ends, not our own, which get impressed upon us in infancy, toddlerhood, and childhood, and which coalesce as the primal scene, which is Veil Three. And which tells each and every one of us that we are not going to be loved unless we be something other than what we are, what we were meant to be, and what we were destined to be — which is our real self.
Book Three, Dance of the Seven Veils II:
Prenatal/Perinatal Psychology, Mythology, and Your Divine Self
Infancy to Prenate, Veils Four-Six.
The Series continues with the second of three parts of Dance of the Seven Veils. This book, the third volume in The Path of Ecstasy Series, answers the questions, what is the Divine Self? Do we have such an inner core of being? If so, how did we lose it, so that we think we do not? And, how can we get it back?
This book is concerned with the time of our lives around birth; however it traces the psychological imprints from that time back into the womb. This work’s elucidation of the experiential realms of the prenatal is, in fact, that which distinguishes it from what has been said about this time around birth, previously, in the field of prenatal and perinatal psychology.
Just as fresh to the field, it adds to that discipline by exploring the influences from our time of “prenatal hell,” during late gestation. That is something never really dealt with before and only written about by one other.1 So it is that this book has to do with the time after birth — the newborn and infancy periods — yet it extends back to the time before birth, the prenatal. However, the prenatal is divided into two separate Veils, which could not be more contrasting. There is the time of blissful existence during the first two trimesters of gestation. This is the basis of much of what I call the joy grids — which is the substratum of each human’s personality having to do with what gives them pleasure, joy, fulfillment, ecstasy, and bliss. It is our deepest self in this lifetime, and it is interconnected with the Divine. From which we had only a little time earlier separated, keep in mind.
It also expands on what happens, generally speaking, during the third trimester, when the fetus’s larger mass, in conjunction with the bipedal stance of humans, results in constriction of the blood vessels going to the prenate. The extreme compression experienced by the unborn baby at this time already causes increasingly more difficulty in movement and pressure from all sides on the body. This crowdedness in the womb brings forth claustrophobic-like feelings in the prenate of wanting to explode, yet being unable to do anything about it. No exit.
Then, because of the inefficiency of the blood flow in bringing nutrients to the fetus, which includes, most importantly of all, oxygen; it is characterized by feelings of suffocation along with the cramped feelings. Finally, because the reduced blood flow means the toxic byproducts of food conversion will not be removed as efficiently, we routinely experience feelings of being force-fed toxins, waste matter, and “poisons.” This is accompanied by feelings of nausea, sickness, and — because it seems to come from all around and yet from nowhere in particular — paranoia, the sense of a dire threat which can come from anywhere at anytime and is directed in particular at oneself.
Also consequent to this buildup of toxins in the amniotic surround is a feeling of burning or irritation on the surface of the skin. These feelings are the basis of the human evil of all times, and I call them the prenatal matrices of human evil, or the PMEs. Comprising, as they do, the greatest amount of the trauma and pain of our early lives, they are pretty much congruent with what I call the pain grids.
One of the major points of the book is that in any growth — spiritual, personal, or psychotherapeutic — the goal is to go through the pain grids, by facing, acknowledging, experiencing, and reliving them, and tapping into the joy grids beneath them. Which “joy grids” I liken to our deeper human nature. This deeper self or personhood is interconnected with and interacting with the Divine — which is a state of beingness that is the experience of that time as well as is a quality of everyday consciousness that embraces one when one reconnects with these repressed experiences in the process of personal growth as an adult.
Dance of the Seven Veils II also lays out, for consideration and integration into the larger overstanding being presented, the aspects of the perinatal matrices of experience. These are matrices that have been discovered and presented to our collective understandings by Stanislav Grof.
Another aspect of this book is that it brings out the truly amazing coincidence of the events of these times with the religious ideas, theologies, iconographies, and beliefs of all cultures of all times. We discover the roots of many of the archetypes here. We can discern the imprints of that time playing into both the positive and negative proclivities of religious behavior. Naturally, these early prenatal-perinatal matrices all together — both Grof’s and mine — are the patterned substratum which gets ever and over again reflected in our basic beliefs, which we conceptualize and narrate in our mythologies.
In terms of the sequence being laid out in Dance of the Seven Veils, the time of birth itself — including the postnatal period, with its graces or horror … depending — is what I term Veil Four. The time of prenatal malnutrition and our experience of third trimester hell, with its four aspects, the PMEs, comes under the heading of Veil Five. Lastly, the time of, optimally, early blissful womb experience, connection with Divinity, and experience of harmony and buoyant optimism, confidence, and delight is what I call Veil Six.
All of these, whatever their experiential qualities — pleasureful or painful — are Veils. They are films across our comprehension because they are imprints about what Reality is that arises of our unique human experience — either individually or collectively. Thus, being a consequence of early, quite variable, quite unique (in comparison to other species) events, they cannot truly be considered accurate about what exists outside the parameters they most definitely inscribe. They comprise hard and fast prejudices about what is True and Real.
So, what is Real, then? What is Reality prior to the events which skewed our understandings of What Is so that It is a particular thing, not any other things. What actually is Naked Reality? Who were you before you were you as you think you are? What is your “original face”? Well that is what we look at in the next book.
Book Four, Dance of the Seven Veils III:
Transpersonal/Periconceptional Psychology, Mythology, and Your Original Face
Cellular to Soulular, Veil Seven and Beyond.
In the third book of Dance of the Seven Veils, which is Volume 4 in The Path of Ecstasy Series, I take on the most profound of all human questions, which has to do with what is really really real. What is Reality? That is a question that lies deep at our roots, and deep in our souls.
It is no coincidence its discovery might lie at a consideration of those deepest parts of our selves. Indeed, having removed six overlying Veils upon Reality — Veils which were projected out onto our screens of perception and understanding as a result of prior experience, especially traumatic and deeply affecting ones — this is our best chance to remove the last Veil. That is exactly the purpose of all the preceding pages in these volumes and all the prior ideas which — one by one — were used to pry back the boards upon which we stand which unthinkingly create our arbitrary platform within Reality. The culmination and purpose of this entire journey approaches its fruition here.
In this third book of Dance of the Seven Veils, then, we look at the last Veil, which has to do with our periconceptional experiences. That is to say, the experiences around conception. Periconception extends back to our emergence into Form with the creation of ovum, first, and then sperm. It continues with the actual events of the coming together of ovum and sperm at conception. It passes on into the events of the fertilized egg, the blastocyst, of implantation, and finally, of early embryonal existence. We find the deepest imprints on our human reality here, periconceptionally. Hence it is our first, our deepest, our initial Veil across our ultimate identity as Divinity and our experience in the No-Form State.
This Seventh Veil — the first reduction from Cosmic Awareness, the first cookie cutter on the dough of our physical reality — establishes our physical world, in many ways. We find here the creation of duality as perceived in the world, of thing and no-thing, of self and other, of forward and backward. We discover here the philosophical basis of our human reality. These are the things we believe, without any doubt. It will require the removal of all the preceding, and overlying, Veils to have a chance to grok what is to be gotten here. For at this point we border on the truly astounding and mind-blowing. All else may be interesting, is no doubt instrumental, is most of it useful; that is, in a practical psychological or spiritual sense. But here is where we “get real.” That phrase will be seen to never have been so true and profound as it is in its applicability here.
This third book of Dance of the Seven Veils pulls to the side the final Veil on Naked Reality. We see the soulular, the No-Form State, the face of Ultimate Divinity. And … we find … our Original Face, which is discovered to be part and parcel of all of that. Knowing this thing, one knows everything.
So this is where we will go in those books. We will, like Salome, do a Dance of the Seven Veils and find out what Naked Reality is more likely to be like.
Book Five, Womb with a View
The next volume in The Path of Ecstasy Series will be titled, Womb with a View, and it will continue this exposition. Much of it is already written, so I can tell you a little about what it will contain.
In Womb with a View, I will continue this look into the screens of distortion across human perception by focusing on the ways our womb experiences — our prenatal events and traumas — create our beliefs in life. You will notice that this is something I will have addressed, at this point, in Book 3, or Dance of the Seven Veils II; yet here is where I will unfold the premises and revelations therein. It will focus exclusively on this time in utero, which is the foundation of all our most profound religious beliefs.
We have already seen how our experiences of the events of this time create our beliefs about the supernatural. Here is where I will present the grand matrix of our prenatal basis of beliefs in goodness, joy, God, fulfillment, and life. Which I term the joy grids. We will see what that is in us; how it affects us in every moment of our lives; what its greatest profile is, collectively; how we have expressed it in religions, mythologies, and theologies; and most importantly, how this knowledge can be used to provide our truest direction in life and the path to our greatest fulfillment and joys.
It represents, as well, the passage beyond the constraints of our pain grids. This is the road to freedom. Many talk about it; many yearn for it. In this book I will show you what it is, where it is, and how to get to it. This is the heaven attainment. It is still one step removed from enlightenment, which is a going beyond all the Veils, including this one. Still, not bad. This is the basis for a happy life.
Book Six, Cells with a View
I have presented for your consideration in this current book many examples of the way fundamental and mostly unvarying events around conception arise and configure so much of our ritual and mythologies in widely varying cultures, often widely separated in time. I have shown how much alike they are, and I have expressed to you my incredulity at the fact that their remarkable consistencies have not been catalyst for research about that previously. Which congruence of patterns cross-culturally can finally — with the understandings I present of the prenatal and perinatal precursors of them in mind — garner some possibilities for comprehension, if not ultimate conclusions.
Regardless, it would seem culture in and of itself does not exert as large an influence on cultural patterns of belief as was once thought. Nor does cultural transmission account for all similarities. We have a common substratum of being, you see, arisen of our common biological experiences as humans.
Cells with a View will dive deeply into the deepest underpinnings of our reality, as laid down in us through our absolute earliest experiences in Form. In so doing we can expect to reveal the most fundamental matrix, the deepest template of our mind, and the seeds, if not foundations, of all human beliefs and culture.
We can expect that what we see here will be at least interesting; more likely it will be enlightening of much beyond it.
Book Seven, The Prenatal Matrix of Human Events
Following Cells with a View, I have plans to write a more elaborate exposition of the “prenatal matrix of human events,” as I introduced it in my recent work, Wounded Deer and Centaurs: The Necessary Hero and the Prenatal Matrix of Human Events. Which I also expanded on here in several of the chapters, especially, Chapter 5, “The Prenatal Matrix of Human Nature,” and which I will, at the time of this book’s publication, have explored in Dance of the Seven Veils II, dealing with the prenatal and Veil Five.
There is much more to be said on this topic, and it is vitally important. As I explained in Wounded Deer and Centaurs, this prenatal matrix is virtually the root of the evil that humans distinctively manifest, out of all of Nature. More than that, it is essential we see it and remove those weeds from the meadow of human personality if life is to continue on Earth. This book, Book Seven, like Wounded Deer and Centaurs, will elaborate on why and how that can be done.
Book Eight, The Centered Path Through Hell
Beyond these first seven — i.e., this one, the other two in the Dance of the Seven Veils, The Secret Life of Stones, Womb with a View, Cells with a View, and the one elaborating on the prenatal matrix — six more works are in this queue, at this time. These include one that would be about the centered path through hell. This one follows logically the one elaborating the prenatal matrix and explaining the source of human evil. For this one begins discussing the path that is necessary in order to go beyond those hellacious influences. It is one that involves facing and going through them in order, like Dante proceeding through Inferno and Purgatorio, to release oneself from their influences.
This work will include important corrections to common spiritual thinking, including my stressing the truth that the path to liberation involves facing the darkness. Unless one deals with the pain-evolved proclivities in one’s personality, one might simply become a calmer crazy person, with spiritual or religious practice. Or, as Jung put it, “One does not become enlightened by imaging figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” This book, as well, will highlight a fundamental acknowledgment that the path to authenticity, to rootedness in Divinity, is not a ladder-style one, as Wilber and transpersonal Ego psychologists think of it. Rather, an authentic spiritual path embraces, as Hesse phrased it, “seeking the depths.” As Jung also wrote, “There is no coming to consciousness without pain.” My book on the centered path through hell, correspondingly, acknowledges that “the way forward is down.”
This work reveals the equally disastrous matriarchal and patriarchal mistakes that are made in the spiritual quest. And in noticing the mistakes to the left and to the right of true-footedness it carves a road, a centered path, avoiding them. It shows how to keep oneself centered and unharmed while also proceeding in the direction down, into one’s feelings, into life experience, hence metaphorically, into “hell.” This book would be Beatrice to Dante in his Divine Comedy.
So this work focuses, for one thing, on the matriarchal mistakes we make on the path, which delays or blocks our progress. These matriarchal mistakes have to do with opening to overwhelm through various reckless means, at the times when actualization, not more access to potentiality, is what is warranted, as I explained in Chapter 39 on “Identity and the Sea of Potentiality.” At this time, I expect to include, additionally, in this particular book some of the ideas I was laying out in that chapter on Identity and potentiality about the dangers of mysticism for “modern” youth. So “the centered path through hell” book will also deal with Identity, potentiality, rites of passage, youth and mid-life and other liminal crises, drugs and their effect on the process, multiculturalism, the occult, and generations — mine of the Sixties and the ones subsequent.
However even more importantly this work on the centered path through hell deals with the much more widespread patriarchal mistakes we make. Especially in that we live in a patriarchal world, almost totally, and going back ten thousand years and more in some places, the patriarchal mistakes virtually riddle our religious and spiritual beliefs and even our ideas of personal and psychological growth. These patriarchal mistakes predominantly involve the use of control, versus surrender, and mastery, versus vulnerability, on the path. These are Ego mistakes, they are ones that are ladder-like and intellectual and are rooted in a false reliance on “rationality” as a tool of spiritual growth. Which “rationality” is an aspect of Ego, as opposed to intuition, faith, guidance from within and without, and grace.
Book Nine, The Journey of Re-Membering … The Four Phases of Self-Awareness
After this in line is a book on the “the journey of re-membering,” with a title something like that. Following the corrections to the misunderstandings of spiritual evolution unveiled in the previous book on the “centered path,” I have laid out a volume detailing the path to ecstasy and Self, or Divinity, as it proceeds in four stages, which are four completely different orientations to life itself.
These are four truly distinct phases of self-awareness that those who become liberated embody and go through in this life and over the course of their incarnations. It is the path involved in moving out from the prejudices and the evil that accrue to us all, as described in the first seven books of this Path of Ecstasy Series. The book previous to this one, the eighth volume, dealing with the “centered path,” focuses on the mistakes common on the road of self-actualization. Whereas this one, on stages, takes a look at what that path entails. So this book, by contrast to “centered path,” is the one that will depict the true and authentic route of realization — the one avoiding the pitfalls of matriarchality and patriarchality which in one way or another keeps one stuck in hellish misery.
Once one realizes the way of the centered path through hell, then, there are four phases of expanding self-understanding that are related, roughly, to four stages of life, correctly lived. More importantly these four phases are related to levels of the unconscious — each deeper and more expansive than the previous. Thus they lead to the superconscious, once those levels are embraced, incorporated, and gone beyond.
These phases of self-awareness were inspired by Masters and Houston (1966, 2000) in their seminal work, The Varieties of Psychedelic Experience. These levels — congruent with Masters and Houston’s model of the entheogenic experience itself — are the sensory, the recollective-analytic, the symbolic-existential, and the integral. Don’t worry I’ll come up with “sexier” labels for them by print time. lol. At any rate, these stages are found in virtually all valid spiritual, psychological, transpersonal paths of evolution or growth to liberation. Therefore, they provide a yardstick against which one can evaluate one’s progress. They can provide direction, when needed; and confirmation, when that is what would help.
Book Ten, Primal Spirituality and the Primal Process … The Second Half of “The Cure”
The book following that, a tenth book in the Series, is the one I am anxious to bring to print. It is on “primal spirituality.” I have several parts of it currently online, including “Only Half a Cure: Unconditional Acceptance and the Primal Process” (1993); “Reunion with the Positive (Self), Part 1 (1995); and “Creating Positive Scenarios” (1995). These are ideas that have already melded into the culture of the field of primal therapy, by now, as I brought these ideas out initially in the early Nineties. But I have much much more to say on them. And it is very important.
For one thing, the fact that it is radical unconditional acceptance that truly allows growth, that truly heals, is hardly known. Outside of the primal modality, and unfortunately sometimes even under its aegis, it is missed. If it is known, it is rarely understood sufficiently for it to bring about the powerful transformation it can. This of which I speak goes way beyond Carl Rogers’s (1961) admirable therapeutic advances termed client-centered, by the way.
However, it is truly difficult for facilitators to apply it without having done considerable deep experiential work themselves. For, predictably in a patriarchal culture and a capitalist system of economy, everything pushes in the direction of a medical-type model of growth and healing; where facilitators can get paid to give direction, provide advice, and so on … to be authorities and to be esteemed and paid that way. Fine for them, but basically that usurps the growing person’s primary mechanism for growth — which is the self-realization coming from within. Beyond that, the authority-citizen, the teacher-student, the doctor-patient mode is the only one that a person, whether counselor or client, has encountered in life, usually. The client expects it; the counselor often does not know there is anything wrong with it. Hell, what else would they be getting paid for? Why else should folks give them money except for they telling them what they need to know and fixing them wherever one thinks one can?
Nonetheless, there is a mode of radical unconditional acceptance, as we learned it in primal therapy. It is close to what Tav Sparks — the current director of Grof Transpersonal Training — is getting at in his manual Doing Not Doing: A Facilitators Guide to Holotropic Breathwork. Hard to explain, it is, but I will in my forthcoming book. For now I offer this as analogy: I am reminded that as a one-time community activist I was taught that organizers do not succeed by doing what is needed to be done, but rather by encouraging others in the group, and then stepping to the side when an event arises, so that those in the community can be motivated to step up and can learn to be leaders and initiators of change. That in no case should one step in, even if failure results, for that precludes people finding their own power, their own ability to lead and initiate progressive action.
Well, the vast majority of healers and psychotherapists are way behind the curve in learning this, unfortunately. The temptation of wanting to be seen as an authority, to be able to label oneself a “professional” … the ego and the remuneration involved in that … is virtually impossible for most would-be healers to forgo. So, that point is important to bring out in this upcoming work.
The other aspect of this book, which I see now is also very very important … I think even more so as time goes by … has to do with the final movements in the spiritual symphony. This is where so many get stuck. My experience is that even primal people, not to mention folks in virtually all spiritual and psychological paths, get this wrong. If you have come here by way of The Secret Life of Stones, think back to what I said about the spherical path versus the circular ones, in Chapter 31 of that book. Virtually all spiritual and psychological modalities see everything in terms of “balancing” opposites or “integrating” dualities within the person. And there is a huge flaw in that. I want to make a joke and say it implies that being an asshole is fine as long as one does it only half the time. And while that hits on part of it, the problem far surpasses that.
Even in my “centered path” book, I stress that it is not about “balancing” or “integrating” matriarchal and patriarchal ways but forgoing them, for what good is it to make two mistakes, however equally? One is not benefited by opening to overwhelm, a matriarchal mistake, and then alternately enlisting ruthless body-bullying will power, a patriarchal error. What is best is to avoid both blunders and learn to surrender to an inner flow that has one naturally unfolding and effortlessly actualizing, not in a “balanced” way but in a seamless way.
Hence, as one would expect in models that are circular, indeed yes, they go round and round and go nowhere. For they are ever trying to fix the person prior to or outside the person’s engagement in the world. This is another aspect of the medical model. For the medical model does not only have the problem of authoritarianism coming about because of its paid authorities, but it also has a category of “sickness”; hence, withdrawal from the world is included as an aspect of that. So also do virtually all spiritual paths involve such a retreat from life. This is the “monastery” stage — the contemplative or meditative or therapy arc of the process of growth.
Now, certainly it is important to have liminal times for growth. I stressed that repeatedly in this book under Veil Two, especially when I referred to experiences mimicking vision quests or hero’s cycles. But there is a problem in this as well. For what usually happens is those liminal times get clung to by sick people. Then to add to that, these folks are encouraged in their dependency by professionals who can hardly keep from operating out of motives of financial gain, since they live in and are constantly pressured by the demands of a capitalist system. Dependent clients make for steady streams of income, you see.
So a huge realization is missed: It is what I call the second half of the cure. And it is embodied in this statement, that:
It is only when one aligns oneself with a cause beyond oneself that one is truly healed.
For in doing so, one is lifted out of oneself into a larger, and higher, reality in which one’s Pain is not focused on, is inconsequential, hence becomes forgotten.
Another reason this is not seen is that professionals who might lead — whether in psychotherapeutic or spiritual milieus — are often ones who are themselves stuck. Indeed, they then are pied pipers. They are blocked themselves, are often unhappy and unliberated, yet they feel the need to pass on what has not worked for them … for regardless its barrenness of results, hell, they worked and paid hard for it! They tell themselves that it is okay for them to do that, for — with faith as blind as any fundamentalist — surely they will at some point, somewhere in the future, sometime, succeed in what they have been trying to achieve.
What is funny is how they sometimes will try to convince others — they will brandish it as some kind of badge of courage — that there are no real answers, as a way of rationalizing to themselves their failure and avoiding the necessary correction in their path that their failure is trying to reveal to them. Saying silly things, meant to come across as bravado, like “the only answer is there are no answers,” and such, they affirm their dead end in growth as a value. And they hate like hell any insinuation that there are actual answers and that they have simply been failures in finding them in this life.
This cul de sac is often the street signed, Existential Circle. Folks living there do not know of the freeways beyond where they live and try to convince you to live there with them. They would have you believe the “no exit” and “dead end” signs you notice are just more proof of their hardiness in living there anyway. Though perhaps being tough-minded in a losing cause is not very smart? However macho it might seem to be in some kind of existential no-nonsense “real-world”–worshiping way?
The other reason the second half of the cure — the one involving higher causes, fate, actualization, destiny, and atmadharma — is missed is related to that monkish mistake in that once retreat is taken as a value, one finds all kinds of ways to deprecate more active paths, paths of activism and service in this world. You will hear such folks decry politics, as in some egoic way of trying to put out that they are above that stuff, would not get their hands dirty. They refer to politics as “negativity,” perhaps, or “drama.” And they proclaim how they are superior in “not getting caught up in that” — those “petty concerns of this world.” However, in truth, it is simply that they are fearful of venturing outside their cocoon of the monastic, the fearful, the narcissistic, the self-obsessed — that hypochondriacal cul de sac they have made a home and rationalized as a value.
Regardless the reasons, all these folks miss the culmination of the healing process, which is expressed in the final stage of the hero’s cycle, when one brings back to the world what one has learned in the liminal state. It is related to what Maslow called self-actualization. It is parallel to what Sathya Sai Baba called the path of service (of seva, in the Sanskrit), which according to him was far far superior to the meditative route. Indeed, Sai Baba explained how the meditative route was not a properly fruitful spiritual route at all. That it was just a kind of way of doing mental spring-cleaning, so to speak. That it was only the paths involving service in the world and to society or to something beyond oneself that are any kind of spiritual paths. Castaneda in enjoining one to choose “a path with a heart” was saying something similar. In any case, this is what I agree with, what I think it is vitally important for folks to know, and what I bring out in the ideas on “the second half of the cure.”
So in terms of being healed, it is true in practice that one will not be really complete or authentic until one finds a way to bring what one has learned out into the world in some kind of helpful way, often by applying it to some cause of importance, often involving the relief or prevention of suffering to some beings other than oneself, for a change. This actualization of what was discovered within is clearly evident in vision-quest sorts of experiential cycles; it is the final stage of the Hero’s Cycle; Janov has alluded to it in his explanation of the “dialectic” between feeling feelings and action in the world; and I have written at length — in Wounded Deer and Centaurs, especially — how the myth of Chiron as the ever-suffering centaur, become the “wounded healer, is showing us this need.
And, yes, this activism is the missing component in virtually all spiritual and psychological paths. I touched on it in the first book, as well, in The Secret Life of Stones. There, I wrote about the bodhisattva path, for example. But again there is far far more to be said about it. What I want folks to get out of this upcoming book on primal spirituality and the primal process is the release into knowing that one gains oneself when one gives oneself. That sickness and neurosis and Pain cause one to look inward — that is fine. But staying constrained and fearful keeps one stuck in misery and neurosis, in directionlessness and meaninglessness. What I want folks to know is that there is a grand and beautiful and fulfilling world out there in which to participate. And that at a certain point, far earlier than most folks know, the way to grow is to stretch out to it, to stretch past one’s Pain. And to align with something that measures up suitably with what one discovered within.
It is because spiritual paths tend to draw to them introverts that this is not seen. Introverts hate like crazy having to do anything that would seem to require something like extroversion. Understandable, of course. However, they then rationalize it is not needed and is inferior to them and their path. But this is out of a mistaken notion of what activism or a higher cause is. So this is their fear or prejudice that they need to put behind them in order to feel free.
By the way, though I am not planning a book on it, extroverts, who naturally embrace activism as a matter of course, have the complementary problem in the way they pooh pooh inwardness. Yet, as I have been saying in my books, especially Funny God, that is their tragic mistake, as well. And it is the one needing correction in order for actual success on the pressing problems of the world to be had.
Now, this notion regarding a necessary engagement in the world and alignment with a cause greater than oneself is something I did actually say a bit about in The Secret Life of Stones in the chapter on gods being seen as demons, Chapter 34. I pointed out the hero’s cycle aspects of the alien abduction phenomena. And quoting Joseph Campbell (1972) and Keith Thompson (1989), I was making the point that a liminal time — a time of social “alienation” and living on the borders of one’s group, of retreat and reevaluation, of moratorium — is an absolutely essential stage in the cycle. But that if one does not come back to the world … one is “harassed night and day by the demon within.”
This problem of emotionally sick people clinging to the liminal world — spending one’s time immersed in fantasy and in wishing things were a different way is the way this commonly manifests — is in the camp of what Campbell (1972) called the “refusal of the return.” Similar, though different, is something I dealt with in this book in detailing what happened in America when the counterculture revolution and awakening was crushed by the fearful and the powers-that-be of the second half of the Twentieth Century, which is in the category of Campbell’s “refusal of the call.”
The point is that one needs to take what one learns and bring it back to the world. It is only then, with the cycle complete, that one gets relief. Indeed, one gets liberation. And more important than those, one feels fulfillment in the surety that one has been helpful; and one is rewarded being at home in a place among the noble ones who have lifted the suffering of the world a tad. Knowing that, is the wholiest blessing of all.
So, in summary, the book on primal process will explain how to traverse the path of Re-Membering described in the previous book on the four phases of self-discovery. It will explain the process, its permutations; and it will show how to “go in” — that unconditional acceptance and the primal process. But also it will unveil how to “come back out” — the second half of the cure.
Book Eleven, Authenticity Rising
The book planned for after that is one about current times and its cultural changes which involve a shift to the importance and valuing of authenticity. It is a book on “authenticity rising.” And it will show how the current state of the world in so many aspects — multiculturalism, mass media, social networking and the internet, and the environmental and political and civil crises of the day — is pushing for more and allowing for more in terms of personhood. I will show how this powerful and promising trend is raising itself up, as well I will show the powerful forces seeking to push it back down … to snuff it out. There is authenticity vying with conformity and the status quo. There is original and dharmic roles and living going head to head with the incessant, relentless demands of a material industrial corporate culture and its governments, geared to keep the masses compliant, unmoving, uncomplaining … but also ungrowing. Only time will tell who will win out.
Book Twelve, Return to Grace … The Crisis and Opportunity of End Times
What follows naturally from a book on current times and its craving for authenticity is the outer — or the social, historical, current events aspect of that. For not only is there an increasing hunger for realness and truth, the times themselves are demanding genuineness and integrity of us. No less than the survival of all life on this planet is at stake. This is the greatest crisis.
However, it is also the grandest opportunity for folks to find themselves and to participate in a cause beyond themselves. There has never been a time so ripe for personal fulfillment alongside and within a time so dire and having such momentous consequences. There has never been a better time for heroes to come forth and rainbow warriors to awaken. This is the grandest adventure of all time, the greatest story ever being told on Earth, and it is happening in our lifetimes. We are lucky to be here, despite the dark cloud of gloom and doom approaching. For we can never be better than we are able to be now. The brightest angels of our beings are being summoned at this exact time, like never before.
So this book, Book Twelve, will explore the unique and apocalyptic character of our times … in all its wondrous implications.
Book Thirteen, The Cosmic Overstanding … You, God, and Identity
The final book in this series, at least the way it is all being envisioned at this time, not only caps off the entire series in a kind of culmination, but it brings it back around again to some of the themes of the first volume, The Secret Life of Stones. For Volume I of The Path of Ecstasy Series dealt with the nature of Reality in all its components. And it pointed to some implications of that for one’s life.
Well, in this final book, I will put forth the greatest overstanding — The Cosmic Overstanding — of us in relation to the Universe as revealed in that first book, especially, but also all subsequent volumes. Whereas The Secret Life of Stones (2016) was about the nature of matter and Divinity, the final book will be about the nature of The Game, our script, and how we can be liberated within it. It will expand the ideas of “The Mind’s True Liberation” as put forth in Part Three of Funny God: The Tao of Funny God and the Mind’s True Liberation (2015), as well as conveyed in Part Three, “Experience Is Divinity” of the book by the same name (2013).
It will do far more than explain the path of liberation, though. Let alone, give you steps to achieve it — that kind of direction and to-doing of you is something I would never do. Rather, it will embody it … embody liberation. It might also open your eyes to the realization that you already are.
The Path of Ecstasy Series, Summary
In summary these books are:
Book 1. The Secret Life of Stones: Matter, Divinity, and the Path of Ecstasy. It dealt with the metaphysical nature of Reality as Idealist and panentheistic, as an experiential pool in which you, along with everyone and everything else is immersed. In which you belong, are never alone, and are noble. And in which ultimately, you are Divinity.
Book 2, this one: Dance of the Seven Veils I: Primal/Identity Psychology, Mythology, and Your Real Self. It answers the questions, who to be? And, what is the real self? And it is concerned with our anthropocentric bias as a human, and the time of our adulthood back to our time as a toddler. Which is Veils One through Three.
Book 3. Dance of the Seven Veils II: Prenatal/Perinatal Psychology, Mythology, and Your Divine Self. It will be concerned with the questions, how to be happy? And, what is the Divine Self? It deals with the pain grids as laid down in us through our prenatal and perinatal experiences. Importantly, though, it reveals the joy grids, deep inside us and imprinted in us through our early womb experiences. This is Veils Four through Six.
Book 4. Dance of the Seven Veils III: Periconceptional/Transpersonal Psychology, Mythology, and Naked Reality. This book will look into the actual nature of Existence. More importantly it will answer the questions, what is Naked Reality? And, what is our existence in the No-Form State? Which is the state in the place that is no-place and the time that is no-time both before and after this current incarnation. Naturally, it is the no-place, since it is outside of Form, or physical reality, and one can be everywhere in a place that is nowhere. However, since time is an illusion, it is also in no-time, which means an aspect of yourself exists in it right now.
The book also addresses what is the nature of No-Form beings and our existence in our No-Form aspect, our soul. Additionally, Dance of the Seven Veils III reveals the spiritual grids, which are the absolute earliest imprints we have while in Form, and which themselves need to be journeyed beyond. These spiritual grids are concerned with our cellular and soulular existences, and so, with Veil Seven, and beyond it.
Book 5. Womb with a View. This will be about how our womb experiences create our religions and supernatural beliefs and how those pre- and perinatal experiences show up in our mythologies, our spiritualities, and our theologies.
It will get into biology as both metaphor and mythology to elaborate upon what our bodies and our early biological experiences tell us about life, Reality, and our purpose and meaning of life … and how that is reflected back again upon us in our mythologies and religious beliefs.
Book 6. Cells with a View. This work will tell how our earliest experiences of life at the cellular level create our physical world and our deepest assumptions about Reality. It will uncover how these early imprints show up in the makeup of the world of matter and Nature, which we share; and of the time, cosmos, and supernatural that we assume.
Book 7. On the prenatal matrix of human events. Here will be laid out for review and insight how our late-stage gestation experiences configure our actions … how they give rise to human evil … how they are the origins of the brutality and atrocities of all time and how they are hence not our true human nature. So they can finally be gone beyond when that is recognized and addressed.
Book 8. On the centered path through hell and the way forward is down. This work will take up and strip away the matriarchal and patriarchal mistakes which mar a true apprehension of our journey. Hence it will also unveil a centered and safe navigation of our way through our Pain and dis-ease on the way to our liberation.
Book 9. On the journey of re-membering and the four phases of self-discovery. This one delineates the path of ecstasy to Self, or Divinity, as it is found in the transpersonal paths of all times and places. It shows how each of us travel from Pain and darkness to ecstasy and reunion, from the prenatal matrix to the cosmic overstanding.
Book 10. On primal spirituality and the primal process. It will reveal how radical unconditional acceptance heals and how anything less hurts or diverts. More importantly, it will unveil the necessary stage, the second half of the cure, which involves aligning with something greater than oneself — a cause, a principle, a duty, or a blessing — as the way to finally achieve release from the tortuous prison of ego, of primal pain.
Book 11. On authenticity rising. This book will dive deep into some auspicious trends in our postmodern society involving the goals that the masses are fashioning and the feelings and personalities that are being valued. This craving for genuineness, this adherence to only the real, this no-nonsense insistence on truth … “Just give me some truth!” as John Lennon asserted it … could not have happened at a better time. And it is none too soon.
Book 12. On return to grace and the crisis and opportunity of end times. This book will bring out the unparalleled fortune of our times even as we stand on the brink of disasters as great as eco-apocalypse.
Book 13. Finally, The Cosmic Overstanding: You, God, and Identity will present the good news involved in a new paradigm as it rises up from all these understandings, and more. Consistent with consciousness studies and quantum physics, yet revealing a friendly and loving reality, it says what we can rely on, why we should have hope, and how there is no reason not to be happy and free, at this time, even as we apply ourselves. For we are always and everywhere assisted and saved, uplifted and loved, even “in spite of ourselves.”
Other Books and Series
Just an fyi, I have intentions for other series — some of which I have done already considerable work on.
The Stages of Re-Membering Series
For a very long time — for forty-five years, in fact — in the works has been the elaboration, in four volumes, of the phases of re-membering or the four stages of self-understanding. These ideas, at this time hopefully, will have already been published initially in one work, as Book 9, above. These four volumes expanding on the earlier one — this Stages of Re-Membering Series — would include, again with sexier titles by print time:
Book 1. The Sensory. This describes the place from which we all start. It is a way of apprehending world and life where sensory experiences are all that matter and the sensory and the material are all that has value. Regardless what “religious” beliefs people have, we start with a “fundamentalist” view of the world of it being comprised of things. We might be the average person seeking, in the “venerable” words of George W. Bush, to “throw food on their families” (lol). We might be the careerist. We might be the religious-minded, thinking that God created us five thousand years ago in a Garden of Eden, who can’t wait to get lifted up in the skies physically when the Rapture comes. It could be the Catholic thinking that at the end of time God is going to raise all the bodies from the graves, refurbish them somehow, and then the lucky of us are going to get to hang out in “heaven” in those bodies. I just hope they have grilled cheese sandwiches, in that case.
And regardless, what is valued as a goal is the accumulation of sensory experience in life, as much as possible. So it is aligned with the struggle for wealth, as well, in that it is seen that it is money that allows more sensory experience — whether that is the finest vacations, the most elegant residences, the most sophisticated dining, or the most daredevil of stunts … or having the most accomplished of sexual partners, the most variety and amount of sexual experiences.
At this level of personal development, or spiritual advance, if there are any goals beyond surviving and increasing the pleasure quotient of life to the max, they center around stuffing as much as possible of different experiences into one’s life, having the longest “bucket list” and accomplishing them. The more parties, the more sexual partners, the more cars, the more planes jumped out of, the more motorcycles raced, horses rode, medals won, the more lavish repasts and exotic locales visited, the winner … or as they boast, those who are at this level, “the one with the most toys at the end wins.”
This is the sensory level of evolution back to Grace. This is where we start after having been diminished by the four falls from Grace as we came into this world. It is the one everyone knows; it is the one you are the most familiar with, even if you have grown past it. For we each contain it even if we supersede it. For these levels are not about different stops on a bus route, they are about expanding outward in all directions at once. So the innermost circle, this sensory one, is encompassed in all beyond it. It is integrated within one’s personality, even if one has reached past it to place the focus, the interest, of one’s life elsewhere and beyond it, in the domain of one of the outer rings from it.
As a stage of life, the sensory level is childhood. Regardless how we evolve afterward, virtually every one of us in childhood apprehends the world this way and has these kinds of values. As a spiritual experience, it is the one most are aware of, where there is enhanced sensory experience; sensory experience that is open and wonderful as a child’s, but which doesn’t go beyond that.
Book 2. The Recollective-Analytic. Some folks, however, enter upon a search for Identity in youth that involves more than simply finding out what route one might best take to acquire the materials of life and to draw to oneself the sensory experiences desired — the pleasures of the world including all the above from stage one as well as sex, spouse, family, and friends. Such individuals, instead, seek a grander identity and wish to know a more ultimate truth. And it might arise at any time of life, actually, not just youth. Especially so it might arise after the occurrence of a life-shattering tragedy. Often it emerges in mid-life, as Jung chronicled, when life’s material and sensory attainments are revealed as the shallowness they are. Nevertheless, it is an Identity stage that contains all the components of the one at youth, and some folks in youth do embark on it.
People often do not choose it — this opening into self-reflection. It is frequently forced upon one, rather, as a result of a tragedy: One experiences a serious illness or the death of someone close to one or has an accident, a career disaster, a heart-breaking love disappointment, or some other major misfortune. And this unexpected stumbling block on one’s well-planned route to material, sensory, and social success, this enforced “moratorium” from life, causes the initial inward turning. One wants to know “Why?” As in “Why me (Lord)?” “What’s it all about?” “What’s wrong with me?” “What did I do to deserve this?” In response one becomes reflective. One turns self-analytical. One begins the process of self-inquiry that is the initial and necessary stage of any and all spiritual or personal evolution.
This stage of spirituality has its corollary in the life stages as the student phase of life. Indeed, often this quest begins in college. However, the recollective-analytic as a spiritually evolutionary phase involves more of a vision quest, or of an existential search for meaning, than occurs for the average youth or student. And all things considered, this search for identity, for who to be in life and what to do, takes on the character mostly of a more profound and wider search — that for self-understanding.
Book 3. The Symbolic-Existential. This phase of spiritual evolution comes about after one has discovered some aspects of self (and Self) on the inner plane, through the previous stage, that one wishes, rather needs, to express and bring to the world. I talked above how this is a necessary stage in the primal process. Indeed it is, but in all other processes of growth it is vital as well. In terms of the primal process, the therapy stage would be the recollective-analytic above, from Book 2 of the Stages of Re-Membering Series; and this book would be the actualization phase required, or, as explained above, “the second half of ‘the cure.’”
This stage is existential for it involves immersing oneself fully in existence, in the game here and now that one came to human form on Earth to play. It is symbolic as well, for it has mythological overtones. This is the phase often depicted in mythologies, which portray the path, the journey, of everyman-woman through life. It is the life as lived by the “hero of a thousand faces,” as Campbell laid it out, and as exists in all cultures and is available for all peoples.
It is the facing of challenges, the overcoming of obstacles, the expression of what was discovered within and now in the context of society and the rest of life and the world. From stage one to stage two it was a leaving of the fold, the community, society. From stage two to stage three it is a returning to the fold, the community, the society, although perhaps not the same one. For as Tom Wolfe said, “one can never go home again.” In that case it is about finding one’s tribe and then participating in it.
It is dramatic; it is the grandest theater, for the stakes are high. It is the life that is worthy of a soundtrack, so to speak. For it is urgent and necessary to bring to the world what one uniquely can. No one else can do it. And if you fail in it, the world will simply lack forever whatever it is you came here to contribute.
This stage of spiritual evolution is full and fulfilling but stressful, intense, and all-encompassing. Failure in one’s task is the thing most feared. Not loss of material things or lack of avenues for sensory gratification. Not either is the problem that of confusion and wondering about “it all.” One does not feel here that one lacks meaning in life or considers life to be empty. There are always periods of self-reflection and re-evaluation at every stage. But in this one, one is not obsessed by that, is not paralyzed by that. One does not retreat from the world; one throws oneself into it … eager to do and belong in it. For here, at this stage, one knows enough about “it all” to know that the world lacks and needs what one can uniquely bring it. So responsibility is laid upon one’s actions as well.
It is the heroic quest, thus mythologically important, and is in that sense “symbolic.” It is immersion in life experience; it is the experiential path of evolution, it is one where one is lined up with a cause higher than oneself … thus it is existential.
It corresponds to the adult time of life, though few adults in any society bring adulthood to fruition in the way it needs to happen in order for it to be a stage in liberation. But some do. Creative and spiritual people in particular know what I am talking about here. And when one fulfills one’s life and purpose in this grandest of fashions, the next ring of the circle of growth becomes accessible. That’s a crucial point of this whole series, by the way: Which is that one cannot “jump” to the final stage from the first or second stages, but must traverse each of them, all three of them, before the doorway to the final way of being opens.
Notice, these are rings outward, with each one encompassing all the ones that preceded it. They are not rungs of a ladder in which each step takes one further away from what was below and wherein the earliest efforts are left behind and forgotten, no longer feeding or fulfilling the ones following, no longer being a headspring for ever greater wisdom. No. Each phase is enclosed within every level following it. Each way of being, with all its advancing vision and expanding awareness, is integrated within more comprehensive and truer stances in life, that it is to say, in larger wholes.
So one edges outward along the circumference of one’s self, bordering on the Divine. Here is where the magic is palpable. One has grown in purpose to the point where it brings about the next stage, the Integral.
Book 4. The Integral. This is the one the spiritual literature talks about. It corresponds to the sannyasi stage of life in the Indian culture. It corresponds to Jung’s Wise Old Man and Crone archetypes, framed as stages of life and spiritual evolution. At this point one has fulfilled oneself in relation to the society; one has done one’s Atmic duty. One approaches the Cosmic. It is not about getting anywhere at this point, it is about being here.
As I said in a previous chapter, first there is a mountain, that is the Sensory. Then there is no mountain, that is the Recollective-Analytic. Then there is … this is the Symbolic-Existential. And at this stage of the Integral one has gone beyond even that, and one has merged into Self. And if still alive, one expresses and operates out of that Source. This is the stage of the individuated person, using Jung’s terminology. In the spiritual literature, much more is said about this stage of spiritual evolution than any other, for it is the one wherein one is on the doorstep of the “goal.”
However, that reveals a mistake as well. For although in Hindu culture these stages are reflected as the four stages of a human life, if one looks in the spiritual literature it is as if this is the only stage and one can attain liberation from any of the other stages of life. Whereas that is not the case.
We now know that one cannot jump from sensory experience to enlightenment. If one takes an entheogen at that first stage, the Sensory one, all one can expect is enhanced sensory experiences. At the most there is possible an opening to the Recollective-Analytic. The experience might lead to deeper self-reflection and/or the undertaking of a spiritual quest for understanding and liberation. It might even lead to a break-down that hopefully, sooner or later, will be seen to be the break-through it in actuality is. In such case it is termed a spiritual emergency, and it is not at all pleasant or comfortable … one’s self-esteem gets wrecked, for one thing … regardless how growthful and necessary it turns out to be. In any case, that is just the beginning.
Similarly, one cannot expect to jump from the Recollective-Analytic, the monastic, the student phase directly to liberation. That is what I was stressing in what I said regarding the book that will be about the second half of the cure. One needs to bring one’s re-freshed, re-newed, re-born self into the world and add what one can to it, in engagement with the community of souls and the life on this planet. One can do that in parts, for one should always keep one foot in the world of self-evaluation, but one needs to embark on self-actualization where and when one can. It is the dialectic between the two that catalyzes growth. One goes from self-understanding to worldly actualization and inevitably confronts obstacles. Leading one back for more self-inquiry; then out into the world again, to expression and participation; which sooner or later finds stumbling blocks. Leading one inward again for another stint at the drawing board, followed by another ad-venture, and round and round again.
Nevertheless, this fruitful and often ebullient process is not the Integral stage. The Integral stage is the dawning of wisdom, or at least the beginning of that. It is open-hearted beingness in the world; palpable reunion with all life, all Experience; it is both cosmic and community belongingness at once. And that can only come about through participation and immersion, fully, in the pulsing phases of expansion, previous.
The Quadrilogy, Remembering
The other series I have planned at this time has to do with the quadrilogy, the novel in four books that I have worked on over the years. The name of the quadrilogy is Remembering. It comprises four books. Book One: Leaving. Book Two: Looking. Book Three: Arriving. And Book Four: Being Here.
Perhaps these titles make sense after what I was just relating about the four stages of re-membering above? In any case, it is true these novels are fictional expressions of the ideas of the four stages of self-understanding of the Journey of Re-Membering Series described above.
Finally, I have plans to fill out the ideas of Falls from Grace (2014) in a series of four books covering each of the phases: The First Fall, Conception. The Second Fall, Birth. The Third Fall, the Primal Scene. And The Fourth Fall, Identity. And more immediately in the future, are the books in the Return to Grace Series, titled, Psychology of Apocalypse; Back to the Garden; Primal Return; Primal Renaissance; The Necessary Revolution, and Return to Grace. Also, with no apparent series for them to find a home, are these six books in process: Prenatal Earth; The Primal Matrix of Being; Who to Be; An Existential Metaphysical; The Psychology of Generations; and The Secret of Men.
I am not going to say any more, and I have already said too much. For these plans are likely to change, indeed they undoubtedly will. What usually happens is these plans expand as put into practice, so that more books will be added. But you see here the grandest overview possible of what you can look forward to in the upcoming years. This is a look at what is enroute and will appear, barring unforeseen circumstances. That is, as they say, this is what will arrive, “the Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.” Lol.
We will see what the Universe wants and what it will support. So far, It has wanted and has supported a prolific amount! As for the future, well, stay tuned.
— from Afterword, titled “Continue with Dance of the Seven Veils II and about The Path of Ecstasy Series”
— of *Dance of the Seven Veils I: Primal/Identity Psychology, Mythology, and Your Real Self* by Michael Adzema, now available in print and e-book formats.
Click for a free downloadable copy of this excerpt from *Dance of the Seven Veils I*, with my compliments.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, Michael Adzema. Video below … interviewed by Michael Harrell
— Related: See also other published versions of these ideas….
*Dance of the Seven Veils I* (2017).
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To reconcile with Nature you need to stop projecting your malevolence onto the Universe… Darkness creates the Light to dispel it
“To reconcile with Nature you need to stop projecting your unreal malevolence onto the Universe…. Darkness creates the very Light to dispel it.”
The Planetmates on love, helpful fear, faith, darkness, horror, and Light: “The Universe is you. You are it. So how can it not be on your side?”
“You have made discomfort an evil and view fear as something to be extinguished. You say, “Love is letting go of fear,” when it is exactly that love that moves you to face your fear! It is only because you love that you will permit any discomfort of yourselves in order to keep another from suffering. And that includes the discomfort of fear!
“To Reconcile with Nature You Need Humility and to Stop Projecting Your Unreal Malevolence Onto the Universe, Say Planetmates
“For this reason of making fear a wrong instead of the guiding hand of Providence it is, you have created substances — pharmaceuticals you call them, drugs both legal and illegal — which allow you to not feel fear or pain. Yet it is just that — fear and pain in amounts not overwhelming — which propels the good you do. It is only because of that early trauma that you think such a thing as overwhelming fear and pain even exists. It assumes a malevolent Universe — one that would allow you to suffer — and even constantly push it on you if you resisted — in an amount you cannot handle or for a period that would actually be interminable. You need to remove this malevolence from the All That Is by realizing that it is only a figment of a uniquely human consciousness, not part of Existence itself. Being not part of Existence it is possible to live without it, as indeed we planetmates do.
“At any rate, in fleeing the possibility of overwhelming fear (this delusion of yours), you flee ordinary fear, helpful fear, the fear that catapults the good you do: Darkness creates the very Light to dispel it; just as Light needs a Darkness for it even to exist. Yet you are fascinated by horror, not horrified by it. You turn from your fears, then you project them — more twisted and horrible for you viewing them indirectly now — onto the dramas of screen and into your imaginings of doings of those unlike you. And you are fascinated with them in this altered form — not connected to you in any way. You need to take back these projections of horror onto screen and scapegoated others and realize they exist within you. You need to be horrified at the reality you are creating. Only then will you be motivated to write a different script, a more wonderful one. And it would be that much more wonderful inspired by and propelled by this fear that is natural in view of this horror of your making.
“So, no. Love is not letting go of fear. Love is facing real fear so one might be able to do something about what is causing it. Concern for the welfare of those other than oneself is what would motivate one to do that. And that is the very definition of love. No. Apathy is letting go of fear. Insensitivity is letting go of fear. And this is the path you most assuredly plod at this moment. Whereas, being conscious of the darkness, and only then … that is, with the darkness and suffering in mind and motivating the best possible alternative of good to negate that, knowing that is the correct thing to do … is faith. So, actually it is only faith that is the letting go of fear.
“All We Are Saying Is Give the Universe a Chance … Darkness Creates the Very Light to Dispel It
“You say, “I can’t stand it.” You say that because you fear it would be overwhelming. With faith, you know that you never ever receive more than you can handle. That is the Nature of Reality. It is a benevolent Reality — a helping and comforting one — giving you only that which you can handle at any time and for the purpose of your higher good and ever expanding en-joy-ment. It cannot help but be assistive in your overall, long term happiness because it is not, as you in wrong-gettedness have made it, separate from you. It is you. You are it. So how can it not be on your side? How can it not want the greatest joy for you since it is you? And it is only by thinking that you are separate that you can have such a thing as self-defeating behavior, self-destruction … or suicide — those peculiar inventions of you.
“It is simple: You need to give the Universe a chance. Have faith that you can “stand” it, that the Universe does not contain things you cannot “stand,” things that would somehow “destroy” you or make you deranged. For right there with your assertion that you would not be able to “stand” it is the refrain, “It would drive me crazy!” Seriously? As if you are not already crazy. As if it is not “crazy” to run from helpful fear and try to manifest a light that has no darkness and that continues unending. Not only is that impossible, but how could it not be the most boring kind of hell imaginable?
“Faith and Benevolence … “It Would Drive Me Crazy,” You Say. As if You Are Not Already Crazy.
“No, this being “destroyed” or made mad by emotions cannot happen. In fact, you are made mad by not letting yourselves have these natural emotions. Chopping up your experience that way into pieces — some of which you are desperate for and others of which you must not acknowledge lest you be “destroyed” — is exactly that disintegration you call madness.
“So it is that madness you already have that causes you to think that what you need to do and would be the most beneficial to you overall is the opposite of that. It is your delusion and magnified fear that makes you think any experience can ever “destroy” or “derange” you. On the contrary, in trying to “stand” it — your fear, guilt, shame, and so on — you will find how benevolent the Universe is, once again. You are aware at some level that Reality is this way. It is what you refer to as God being all-merciful and all-forgiving. But hear us that you by no means have to wait till after you have died to experience that. It is available to you at any moment….”
[Pt 2 of 32nd Prasad — Redemption. More coming….
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“You can reconcile with Nature through … acknowledging your equality with and not superiority over Creation.”
“You have this claim of high morality.… Yet where is your morality as concerns the most basic fundamental thing about life: whether it goes on or ceases?”
The Planetmates reveal hubris, fear, redemption, and reconciliation with Nature: “You can reconcile with Nature through … acknowledging your equality with and not superiority over Creation.”
Hubris and Fear … In Striving for a Forever Light It Is You Who Have Created the Darkness
“From all we have said, it should be clear you need redemption. For you have created horror here in Reality, to match your imaginings, that is of a nearly perfect wrongness. This is the blackest of nights that you would bring down upon yourself, but it is made that much worse in that you would, in your insanity, pull all of Creation, all living things not you, as well into this hell you have created … this utter darkness.
“So you need to redeem yourselves by reconciling with that Creation, which you so arrogantly threaten. It is arrogant, because you give nary a thought to that which you do. You have this claim of high morality — another vanity you have blessed upon yourself in rationalizing your inferiority and wrong-gettedness. Yet where is your morality as concerns the most basic fundamental thing about life: whether it goes on or ceases? You have laws that tell you, “Though shalt not kill.” Once again, it is clear you tell yourself these things and put them on high to rein yourselves in from doing that which you in particular are inclined to do. For you are not just suffering ape but also killing ape. You would bring down your entire species — committing a most unprecedented humanicide — but participate in the ending of all other species as well — commit an ecocide.
“So, how exactly does such a killing species reconcile with a Creation in which everything in it has become its enemy, including itself? Since all that you have done that has caused you to stray from the path of life involves a state of ignoring what you were doing, an ignore-ance, and a rationalization of it, it is of course that which must be undone. You can reconcile with Nature through facing your hubris, acknowledging your equality with and not superiority over Creation, and looking at the wreckage you have made of Creation through that ignore-ance, which is part of that thing of yours of straining to reach a forever happiness, while putting out of mind the hardship and pain emanating all about from that deluded effort.
“How will this help, let alone save you … or us? Does it not make sense that in reversing the wrong-gettedness that has resulted in this horror you might begin to dispel that horror? But more than that. For out of your over-developed fear and your magnified pain you have done monumental things that have created this infinite wrong. We can tell you that you have the same capacity to right this wrong out of that same fear and pain. You have that same capacity for monumental achievements for the good of yourself as well as all of Creation, out of that capacity for fear and pain, as you have shown for monumental achievements for evil. Your fear and pain can catapult the most magnificent of “live,” just as it has driven its opposite, the ultimate of “evil.”
“What you need to do to redeem yourselves is to face the horror you have created and to embrace your capacity for fear — this would be an actual fear, for a change, not an imagined one. Allowing yourself to have the fear that is natural in these circumstances we are in will motivate the most magnificent of efforts for good. You think this is simple and obvious and that you are already doing it. This is part of that dimming of awareness you do that creates the veil of ignorance that allows you to be so self-defeating and destructive.
“For this simple thing you do not do. We would not need to alert you as we are doing if you were. No, in your fevered mania to run from darkness, pain, and suffering, you hide from yourselves the consequences of your actions. You block out from your vision the results. If you see them, you act the little child caught red-handed: “It’s not me!” you say, having been able to suppress even the shame your wrong-doingness should bring.
“You see guilt and shame to be unpleasant emotions and wish to discard them, yet they are the source for your salvation. It is in this way that you indeed have an Original Sin. You have a basic wrong-gettedness and a way of acting against all Reality (God) and Nature — which is the definition of “sin.” Yet, you would wish to deny this because it is not comfortable — again reaching for that forever light, which creates the greatest dark.
“You have made discomfort an evil and view fear as something to be extinguished. You say, “Love is letting go of fear,” when it is exactly that love that moves you to face your fear! It is only because you love that you will permit any discomfort of yourselves in order to keep another from suffering. And that includes the discomfort of fear!”
[Pt 1 of 32nd Prasad — Redemption. More coming….
To purchase any of Michael Adzema’s books, available in print and e-book formats, go to Michael Adzema’s books at Amazon.To purchase a signed copy of any of my books, email me at email@example.com … Discount for blog subscribers.
Posted in Anthropology, authenticity, being yourself, Birth, Child Abuse, Consciousness, Environmentalism, Evolution, God, individualism, life, meaning, Metaphysics, Mystical, nonconform, Philosophy, Primal Spirit, Primal Spirituality, Psychology, Religion, Spirituality
Tags: creation, darkness, ecocide, evil, fear, horror, hubris, humanicide, ignore-ance, killing ape, light, morality, Nature, planetmates, reconciliation with Nature, redemption, SUPERIORITY, The Great Reveal, vanity
Out of Eden, Part Four — Secondary Altriciality and the Origins of Culture: Why We Can’t Get No Satisfaction and What It Has to Do With Being Born Helpless
Human Nature, Culture, Pelvic Size, and Plato’s Cave: Needs Which We as Newborns Ache to Fulfill Are Satisfied by Other Species Perfectly
Secondary Altriciality and Culture
Let us now add another factor to this development of supposed intelligence and culture. Let us talk about the consequences of secondary altriciality. As I said, altricial means humans are born helpless. We would die if not cared for. Secondary altriciality of humans, and only humans, means our brains and consequent functioning are even less advanced than other species at birth. We are, in essence, born premature relative to other species.
So, the consequence of secondary altriciality is that the newborn requires a period after birth of getting its needs satisfied in the same complete way as it did prior to that in the womb. This is a characteristic of Homo sapiens. It is another one of those very few things that definitively distinguishes us from all other species known. That is, the human infant is in a more dependent state, when born, than any other species, when its young is born. The human infant at birth in terms of its degree of development, is at a level corresponding to that at which, in every other mammal, it would still be in the womb. In other words, we are born, comparatively, “premature.”
By comparison, all other mammals, when born, are more able to provide for themselves, are further along in their development toward independence when born, are more capable of bringing about or at least initiating the satisfaction of their needs . . . hence they are less dependent, and vulnerable, than are human infants.
Why We Can’t Get No Satisfaction
Secondary altriciality in human infants means that there is a greater need for care, for “mothering” — because of the newborn’s greater helplessness, greater dependence, greater vulnerability — than that of all other mammals postnatally. But even the best mothering cannot be as perfect in satisfying the infant’s biological needs as was the situation for it in the womb. Hence, there is going to be a gap between need and fulfillment inherent in this prematurity, an inherent frustration of need to at least some extent, and, hence, inherently an increase of at least some amount, in the degree of pain suffered by the newborn and infant in the nonsatisfaction or incomplete satisfaction of its biological needs.
But secondary altriciality is important in another respect. Since this phase represents a dependent phase that corresponds to phases that occur to other species en utero — this leaves Homo sapiens vulnerable to neurosis and mental illness (its roots in the pain of unmet biological need) to an extent unprecedented, in any other species . . . hence also contributing to increased brain size, increased secondary altriciality, and so forth in the way discussed above for birth. Thus, we have another vicious cycle, again with “fevered” brains and culture the byproduct.
In this light it is interesting to point out that Moore (1987) presented evidence of the significantly larger pelvic size in our ancestral line of hominids which would have either (1) allowed for a gestation period of up to twelve months or (2) allowed for an exceptionally easy birth — the increased brain size being much more readily passed through a larger opening. Either of these propositions, or a combination, is provocative in light of the above.
In other words, we can speculate that either (1) increased pelvic size in females was naturally selected for as brain size became larger, so as to minimize the deleterious effects of painful birth (as in creating neurosis in the adult, hence reduced reproductive fitness) or (2) gestation period was prolonged, with increasing brain size, to minimize the deleterious effects of imperfectly met biological needs which are a consequence of secondary altriciality.
In this second instance, the disadvantages of secondary altriciality are lack of precociousness in the infant, requiring an increase in maternal care after birth and reducing the economic potential of the female during that period. But it logically follows that there is a limit to which gestation can be prolonged without itself becoming an economic disadvantage to the female — certainly the proposed gestation period of two years, twenty-one months to be exact, for full precociousness at the level we see in nonhuman primates would be a substantial economic hardship on the female. Thus it would be selected against, in evolutionary terms.
Therefore, we may speculate that a combination of these factors resulted in a compensatory system where the fact of increasing brain size is eventually resolved, to date, by a comparatively reduced gestation period accompanied by increased need for child care after birth, increased need for economic dependency overall (both during and after gestation) by the female, increased need for male parental investment in providing for both female and child, and increased birth pain correlating with increased cultural development to offset or mitigate the effects of birth pain (See Fromm, 1955, on culture as providing the neurosis as well as the “opiates” to deal with such).
The net effect is a species with prolonged child care, increased tendency toward single-family units, increased brain size, greater cultural elaboration, increased birth pain for the neonate, increased “intelligence,” and increased neurotic and psychotic behavior (thus idiosyncratic and variable behavior) which requires further cultural accommodation, hence cultural elaboration — all evolving simultaneously, interrelating and mutually reinforcing each other. All in all, with these considerations, we have the basic factors which outline our distinctive human nature — that is, which constitute (for good or ill) our fundamental distinctions from other species.
The Result: Plato’s Cave
At any rate, the point is that viewing it either psychologically or historically, it can be said that the Fall from Grace in Eden is such that ever afterwards humans are indirectly related to God and Nature. By this I mean they are indirectly related to the processes of reality of either the physical or metaphysical (including their own inner life, their subjectivity) sort. They have turned their back on the beneficence of God, or Nature, and seek to go it on their own, to control Nature, to focus on survival. In that they are focused now on the world, they can see only a reflection of the Divine. They are confusing the map and the territory.
And in that reflection they seek to discern God’s will. In those shadows they seek to understand Truth.
To Be Continued with Primal Return, Chapter Two: Isaac’s Eyes
Return to Birth Pain Causes a Feverish Human Mind, Struggling Against Nature and the Divine, Which We Call “Intelligence”: Out of Eden, Part Three — Birth, “Intelligence,” and Culture
Chapter One, Out of Eden, References
Adzema, Michael. (1985). A primal perspective on spirituality. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 25(3), 83-116.
Baba, Sathya Sai. (1984). Sathya Sai Speaks: Volume IV. Tustin, CA: Sathya Sai Book Center of America.
Baba, Sathya Sai. (1991). Sanatha Sarathi, November, 295.
Bird-David, Nurit. (1992). Beyond “the original affluent society”: A culturalist reformulation. Current Anthropology, 33(1), 25-47.
Buck, Sharon. (2011). The evolutionary history of the modern birth. Totem: The University of Western Ontario Journal of Anthropology, 19(Iss. 1, Art 7), 80-92. Available at: http://ir.lib.uwo.ca/totem/vol19/iss1/7
Chamberlain, David. (1988). Children Remember Birth. New York: Ballantine.
Farrant, Graham. (1987). Cellular consciousness. Aesthema: The Journal of the International Primal Association, No.7, 28-39.
French, Marilyn. (1985). Beyond Power: On Women, Men, and Morals. New York: Ballantine Books.
Fromm, Erich. (1955). The Sane Society. Greenwich, CN: Fawcett.
Grof, Stanislav. (1976). Realms of the Human Unconscious. New York: Dutton.
Grof, Stanislav. (1985). Beyond the Brain: Birth, Death and Transcendence in Psychotherapy. Albany, NY: SUNY.
Grof, Stanislav. (1988). The Adventure of Self-Discovery: Dimensions of Consciousness and Mew Perspectives in Psychotherapy and Inner Exploration. Albany, NY: SUNY.
Hannig, Paul. (1982). Feeling People: A Revolutionary Concept in Therapy, Lifestyle and Human Contact. Winter Park, FL: Anna Publishing Inc.
Janov, Arthur. (1971). The Anatomy of Mental Illness. Berkeley: Medallion.
Janov, Arthur. (1983). Imprints: The Lifelong Effects of the Birth Experience. New York: Coward-McCann.
Kuhn, Thomas S. (1970). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Lake, Frank. (1981). Tight Corners in Pastoral Counseling. London: Darton, Longman and Todd.
Mahler, Margaret S.; Pine, Fred; & Bergman, Anni. (1975). The Psychological Birth of the Human Infant. New York: Basic Books.
Moore, James. (1987). Colloquium presentation, 16 November 1987. Department of Anthropology, University of California/ San Diego, La Jolla, CA.
Peoples, Karen M. and Parlee, Bert. (1991). The ego revisited: Understanding and transcending narcissism. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 31(4), 32-52.
Sahlins, Marshall. (1972). Stone Age Economics. London: Tavistock.
Skibbins, David W. (1991). Letter to the editor. The Quest, 4(3), 5.
Sroufe, L. Alan; Cooper Robert G.; & DeHart, Ganie B. (1992). Child Development: Its Nature and Course. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Turnbull, Colin M. (1961). The Forest People: A Study of the Pygmies of the Congo. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Verny, Thomas, and Kelly, John. (1981). The Secret Life of the Unborn Child. New York: Dell.
Yogananda, Paramahansa. (1946). Autobiography of a Yogi. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship.
To Be Continued with Primal Return, Chapter Two: Isaac’s Eyes
For an Overview and Links to Other Parts of This Work-in-Progress, Go to Prodigal Human: The Descent of Man
Falls from Grace: The Devolution and Revolution of Consciousness – Michael’s latest book – is now available in print and e-book formats.
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Birth, “Intelligence,” and Culture … Out of Eden, Part Three: Birth Pain Causes a Feverish Human Mind, Struggling Against Nature and the Divine, Which We Call “Intelligence”
Bipedalism Caused Painful Births, Which Caused Bigger Brains, Which Caused “Intelligence,” Which Caused Culture: Birth Trauma Makes Us Humans … and Mistrustful of Everything
The more civilized the people, the more the pain of labor appears to become intensified. – Grantly Dick-Read, M.D. Childbirth Without Fear.
Giving birth is like taking your lower lip and forcing it over your head. – Unknown
To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.” – Genesis 3:16
Basic Trust, Basic Mistrust, and Birth
As I have said the worldview of our hominid and hunter-gatherer existences was trusting of Nature. The world is felt to be good, not antagonistic, so dependence on it is not seen as a problem and makes life overall easier than what we know beginning with the agrarian revolution and the rise of “civilization.” Our primal forebears had a “basic trust” in regards to Nature.
But the agrarian revolution and all “advances” after that imply a “basic mistrust.” What happened to make us more fearful, more anxious about our human condition?
These differences of basic trust versus basic mistrust are fascinating considering their possible relation to birth trauma.
Our Experience of Birth Determines Ever Afterward Our View of the World
Erik Erikson proposes that the earliest relation of the infant with the mother sets the foundation of the later attitude toward the world. A caring, sensitive, and responsive environmental and caretaker response, in particular, the mother’s, can be the basis for an attitude of basic trust toward the world … a fundamental faith in its goodness. While a harsh and insensitive early experience — wherein the child begins to feel it cannot get its needs met — becomes the basis for a feeling of unshakeable mistrust toward the world.
However, with our understanding of the influence of our first experiences of the world — that is, postnatally, usually in a delivery room and hospital nursery — on our basic attitudes toward it, we realize that these fundamental orientations are formed much earlier. Importantly, birth is a huge influence on that primary stance of trust or mistrust. First impressions are hard to overcome, as they say. Sure enough, if the first encounter with the world outside the womb … immediately after birth … is painful, and characterized by harshness, insensitivity, and unresponsiveness to one’s needs, then the infant comes to view the world mistrustfully and feels it to be a hostile place. [See Leboyer, Birth Without Violence, 1975].
What also of the pain of birth itself in setting up an attitude of trust toward the world or mistrust of it? The cold, hard fact is that our experience of our birth — that is, the amount of pain and discomfort we experience in the process of delivery as well as those first crucial moments and hours of our “introductory” experience of the world outside the womb — determine ever afterward in our lives the degree of positivity or negativity with which we will view the world and other people. [See, also, Janov, Imprints: The Lifelong Effects of the Birth Experience , 1984]
And this is where it gets interesting in seeing how we became humans and different from all other species.
Skull Size, Pelvic Size, and Birth Pain
In this regard, it is interesting to note biological anthropologist Jim Moore’s (1987) comments in a talk given at the University of California, San Diego, concerning pelvic size, birth, and secondary altriciality. Jim Moore pointed out that the paleontological evidence from the bone records of our hominid line show several fascinating developments occurring simultaneously and over the course of millions of years. We are going back as long as six to seven millions here. One is an increase in skull size. Another is a decrease in the size of pelvic bones, which occurs alongside and is a consequence of our gradual evolution to bipedalism from being, like our primate relatives, quadrupeds. [Footnote 1]
Most folks know about the increase of skull size that occurred over the course of our evolution. However, what is only rarely considered is what effect this increase has on the process of birth. Nor has this been laid alongside the other factor of reduced pelvic size. But doing so leads to some fascinating conclusions.
To begin, it is reasonable to suppose that this increased skull, and brain, size in hominids contributed greatly to birth pain, for both mother and infant. This is so for the obvious reason that the size of the head is the determining factor in the size of the vaginal opening required for delivery. That is, because skull bone is mostly unyielding when pressured from outside, its diameter must be less than or equal to the maximum diameter of the vaginal opening through which it must pass at birth. If the skull is too big for the opening, the child simply cannot get out. And the factor that most determines the maximum diameter of the vaginal opening is the configuration of the bones, especially pelvic bones, that are involved.
Keep in mind that this kind of birth pain would not have occurred when the skull was smaller. A smaller head would pass, in general, with considerably more ease for infant and mother. In support of this we note that this is exactly the case for all our primate relatives, all of whom have proportionately smaller skulls. Note they also have larger, wider pelvises, proportionally, than us, and thus pelvic openings at birth time. Correspondingly, they do show observably much less difficulty and pain in birth, for both mother and newborn. So, along with this trend to increasing skull size in humans and reduced pelvic size we can surmise a corresponding trend to increasing birth pain, birth difficulties, and, consequently, increasing birth trauma for hominid newborns. [See Footnote 2]
The Vicious Cycle of Skull Size and Birth Pain
Brain Size and Primal Pain: Brain Size Related to Degree of Unconscious Pain Needing to Be Repressed
About this factor of birth trauma, keep in mind that it is demonstrated neurophysiologically (Janov, 1971) that much of the increased brain size in humans is tied up with processing unconscious pain. That is to say, that we require the expanded capabilities inherent in neocortical expansion and larger brains to keep traumatic experiences repressed. A bigger brain is needed to keep our primal pain from overwhelming us.
Bipedalism –> Narrower Pelvic Opening –> Birth Pain –> Increased Brain Size –> Increased Skull Size –> Birth Pain
What I am saying is that increased brain size and painful birth become, then, phylogenetically linked in a vicious cycle — one producing the other. Said another way, over the course of millions of years skull size and birth pain increased each other: Greater pain in birth requires, later on, greater repression of pain in order to survive, which leads to the development of greater neocortical capacities for processing and keeping that pain repressed. This leads to actual physical neocortical expansion, which results in greater skull size. Then, that bigger head causes greater pain in childbirth for both mother and infant. This increased birth pain causes greater birth trauma in neonates. And finally, this birth trauma leads to greater repression of pain, then, to expanded brain size, then, increased birth pain, birth trauma, a need for more repression … round and round and round again. And this goes on imperceptibly over an extremely long time in the course of our evolution.
But keep in mind, also, that this is a chicken-and-the-egg correlation. There is no way of knowing what came first. Whether changes in skull size and expanded neocortical capacity (as for example, in the development of tool use), or greater repression of feelings and pain (possible as a consequence of increased social behavior, requiring increased repression/ control of individual behaviors), or increased birth trauma (either on its own, for some unknown reason, or more likely because of skeletal changes occurring through increasing bipedal locomotion and upright posture) came first is irrelevant. These are mutually arising causative factors. It is enough that we notice their interrelationship.
Birth Pain Makes Us Humans
Birth Pain Caused the Feverish Minds of Humans, Which We Call Intelligence
To continue, remember that what is universally acknowledged to distinguish humans from other species is our intelligence and the elaboration of culture that comes from that. But with the understanding of skull size, birth, and repression described above, we see these much-touted distinctions and claims to superiority to be merely the byproduct of our neocortical attempts to deal with unconscious pain, specifically, that of birth trauma.
Birth pain caused the feverish minds of humans, which we call our intelligence. “We ain’t born typical,” as The Kills phrased it. And those spinning excess wheels of mental fibrillation, driven by human birth trauma, are the gears in the machine of our manic material culture.
Continue with Why We Can’t Get No Satisfaction and What It Has to Do With Being Born Helpless: Out of Eden, Part Four — Secondary Altriciality and the Origins of Culture
Return to We Once Had the Run of the Forest and the “Original Affluent Society”: Early Human Savagery Is a Patriarchal Myth Rationalizing Our Descent Into Civilization
1. On bipedalism and pelvic bone changes, at “Wanna Be an Anthropologist“:
Bipedal Adaptations in the Hominid Pelvis
Two major features are unique to humans among all the living primates: A very large brain, and moving about upright on two legs exclusively. One of these, bipedalism, appeared long before the other. Many anatomical features of Australopithecus afarensis anatomy demonstrate habitual bipedal locomotion, and the 3.6 million-year-old footprints discovered by Paul Abell at Laetoli in 1978 confirm it unequivocally (White, 1980). Not until the appearance of Homo erectus, some 1.7 million years later, could hominids be considered on their way to being large-brained (Stanford, et al., 2006).
While certain adaptations seen in the knee (e.g. the valgus angle), in the foot (such as a fully adducted hallux), and to a lesser extent in the cranium (a fully inferior foramen magnum) are all strong indicators for bipedalism (Lewin and Foley, 2004), the most interesting evolutionary changes necessary for upright posture occurred in the hominid pelvis. All of these adaptations are present not only in the pelves of modern humans, but also in all members of the Genus Homo, and in the earliest known hominids, the Australopithecines.
PELVIC ADAPTATIONS FOR BIPEDALISM
The hominid pelvis displays many unique features (when compared to that of quadrupedal primates) that support bipedalism. The major adaptations are seen in the sacrum and the ilia, as well as in the overall configuration and orientation of the pelvic bones….
2. On brain size and secondary altriciality in humans at Human Development:
Human babies enter the birth canal from the womb in the same way a chimp does but just before the actual birth the skull rotates 90 degrees in order to exit the rounded birth canal that humans have evolved. In Homo Sapiens, evolution reached a compromise that favored even bigger brains at a further cost to birthing and efficient walking. The Homo Erectus pelvis was very narrow. Humans are unique among mammals in the extent to which the brain keeps growing well after birth. The scientific terms for this is secondary altriciality. It involves accelerating the birthing process and arresting the development until after birth. Monkeys and apes are born with brains half as heavy as they will ever be. A chimpanzee brain, for example, will weigh perhaps 7 ounces at birth and about 14 ounces as an adult. Human brains are about a third of their final size in newborns; they more than double in size in the first year after birth. On average, human babies are born with a brain that weighs 14 ounces but reaches 35 ounces in one year. It will continue to grow until it reaches about 45 ounces in size (at age 6 or 7).
Gestation in humans should be about 21 months rather than the normal 9 we think in terms of. This is the process of accelerating the birthing process to enable the enlarged brain to escape the birth canal. Development of the brain then continues external to the womb for well over the first several years. What this intense development means is that a human infant is born relatively helpless. A baby can neither stand up or in any way fend for itself for a long time. Stephen Jay Gould has written our sexual maturation comes almost absurdly late in a Darwinian world supposedly regulated by a constant struggle to secure reproductive success and pass more genes along to future generations….slower development must provide some power advantage to evolve, in the face of its obvious drawbacks. In fact, must of what makes us human in the end may stem from this unnaturally long period of helplessness in the very early part of our lives.
3. On prolonged postnatal brain growth at Unique to Humans –
This is one of the most dramatic distinction between humans and other mammals (including primates). In all precocial mammals other than humans, at around the time of birth there is distinct slowing down in brain growth relative to body growth. In altricial mammals, the switch to diminished brain growth occurs at a developmental stage comparable to birth in precocial mammals. In humans, substantial brain growth relative to body growth continues for approximately a year after birth before a marked slow-down occurs. Because of this human neonates are unusually dependent on parental care in comparison with other primates for the first year of postnatal life, and sometimes labeled as “secondary altricial”.
Martin RD. The evolution of human reproduction: a primatological perspective. Am J Phys Anthropol. 2007;Suppl 45:59-84.
And on postnatal brain growth at The Rise of Homo sapiens: The Evolution of Modern Thinking:
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“Your very survival … indeed your redemption … lies in this unique and strange capacity of yours to make darkness darker, but then also the possibility that light can be brighter.”
[Pt 2 of 31st Prasad — Pain. More coming….
To see the entire book, to which this will be added eventually (book is two-thirds updated), go to http://mladzema.wordpress.com/the-great-reveal-book-6/ …
Falls from Grace: The Devolution and Revolution of Consciousness — Michael’s latest book – is now available in print and e-book formats.
Posted in Anthropology, authenticity, being yourself, Consciousness, Environmentalism, Evolution, God, individualism, life, meaning, Metaphysics, Mystical, nonconform, Philosophy, Primal Spirit, Primal Spirituality, Psychology, Religion, Spirituality
Early Human Savagery Is a Patriarchal Myth Rationalizing Our Descent Into Civilization: We Once Had the Run of the Forest and the “Original Affluent Society”
Out of Eden, Part Two — Agrarian Revolution … or Devolution? The Adoption of Agriculture Brought Drudgery for Humans … And So We Cast Ourselves Out of the Garden
A Fall from Grace?
The Switch from Hunter-Gatherer to Horticultural Lifeways
Turning now from the individual, the microcosm, to that of society, the macrocosm, the obvious historical corollary to the Fall from Grace in Eden is the switch from the hunter-gatherer way of life to the horticultural. For most of our time on this planet, our species has lived as hunter-gatherers. But the switch to the harnessing of Nature and the less mobile agricultural way of life brought with it a correspondingly different worldview.
We Once Had the Run of the Forest
There were specific economic factors that came into play here. The hunter-gatherer culture has been called “the original affluent society” — with the amount of daily work required for survival being estimated at only four hours (Sahlins, 1972; Bird-David, 1992).
With the run of the forest, so to speak, and so much spare time for personal, creative, or playful pursuits, it is easy to imagine hunter-gatherers having more congenial attitudes toward each other.
The Agrarian Revolution Brought Drudgery for Humans
With the beginnings of agriculture and the domestication of animals, the so-called “agrarian revolution,” repression and oppression begin to rear their ugly heads. (See The Great Reveal)
Being truly a “fall from grace,” agriculture, along with the seeming advantage of control of Nature, brings with it a significant increase in work time required — especially at certain seasonal times.
And Large Families, Child Labor
So here we have also the beginnings of large families (free labor) and child labor. Children are born into families where they feel themselves invisible and unspecial and are forced into drudgery at an early age. This is, of course, contrary to an individual child’s needs and desires; so authoritarian controls and a system of sanctions and punishments are required.
And Hierarchy in Society … a Master/Slave Pattern … Elites, Law, Punishment, and Out-Laws
This master/slave pattern is reflected also in the larger culture. With the onset of horticulture we have the beginnings of settled communities. Whereas in nomadic groups it does not pay to own very much and hence an egalitarianism is the rule, in settled groups we have the gradual accumulation of wealth and property into the hands of a few. This brings in a hierarchical society and an elitism which, reflecting the situation of the family, requires control of the populace for the ends of the elite. Thus a system of dire sanctions and punishments is instituted. We have the beginnings of law . . . and hence of “out-laws” — that is, those who refuse or cannot abide by the wishes of the dominant group.
And Conformity and Repression of the Self: Authoritarian Cultures Create Authoritarian Personalities. We Have the Beginnings of Religion.
The agrarian culture is, generally speaking, much less tolerant of individual differences, viewing them as potential threats to essentially ill-gotten wealth and power. Its economic system “requires” conformity and repression of individualistic impulses of all kinds. This cultural and familial situation is reflected in the psyches of those who pass for “normal” in that society. Authoritarian cultures create authoritarian personalities. The members themselves are as equally repressive of their own “individualistic” impulses as the larger society is oppressive of such corresponding individuals and groups.
We have the beginnings of religion. Whereas primal cultures look to personal experience of the numinous as a basis for establishing a relation to any Larger Reality beyond the self, hierarchical societies extend the effort to control the populace for the benefit of the elites into the private realm. Clerical authorities now mediate with the supernatural. Conformity and suppression of impulses is sought even in directing the very thoughts and consciousness of societal members.
There Was No War: Early Human Savagery Is a Patriarchal Myth … Hiding Our True History, Our True Human Nature as It Rationalizes Civilization and Its Enforced Enslavement as a Boon
In support of this, I quote:
The entire period under discussion, from 3.5 million years ago to about 10,000 years ago, was a peaceful period. There are no remains of weapons used by humans against humans, no signs of groups of human beings being slaughtered. Thus the early forms of humanity, far from being savagely aggressive and cruel, were probably a gentle, humorous, peaceable folk, like many tribes living to this day in gentle climates. The picture previously offered of early societies — that of a patrilocal band of related males who exchanged women and treated them as commodities — is a patriarchal construct; such societies probably never existed. Most likely, early gatherer/hunters lived in fluid, flexible egalitarian groups. This is not to say that these people lacked aggressiveness and did not experience conflict. But they developed social skills for dealing with negative interaction; their education focused on personal relations, cooperation, their part in a larger whole.
A group life centered on child care and sharing could not survive in a highly aggressive environment. Intense aggressiveness would have destroyed the species. And among present-day gatherer/hunters, whose customs vary from extreme male dominance to more or less equal but segregated male/female to integrated egalitarian societies, one factor is universal: all live by sharing. A degree of aggressiveness is culturally induced: where it is not valued, it is not strong. This “advance” was left to Homo sapiens and that glory, civilization. (French, 1985, p. 39)
Upon which Skibbins (1991) elaborates,
As [Marilyn] French documents in her book Beyond Power, the first three and a half million years of our existence on this planet as hominids and the first 85,000 years walking on this planet as homo sapiens, we lived without war. There are no cave paintings of war. Replace that inaccurate bear killing bundle of testosterone which Wilber paints, with the images of the tribe in the movie The Gods Must Be Crazy. Research in anthropology and paleontology reveal that we were a gentle, nomadic, primarily vegetarian people. For 95 percent of our lives on our planet both genders shared their love of children, their loyalty to hearth and tribe, and their deep sense of connection with each other and with the earth mother who gave them life.
Aggression, domination, subjugation, isolation, depersonalization, sowing wild oats and clinging to powerful others are the products of the last 5,000 years. They reflect the gradual domination of a worldview obsessed with an addiction to power and control. This pollution has so warped our capacity to love that we believe the differences Wilber describes to be inherent. Actually they are a symptom of a recent aberration in our history, a disease which we may be nearing the end of. . . . (Skibbins, 1991)
So at a certain point some of us began the agricultural attempt to harness the natural order for our benefit. The hunter-gatherer and the agricultural lifestyles correspondingly reflect two radically divergent ways of viewing oneself and the world — two separate attitudes, two different consciousnesses, if you will.
The Original Affluent Society
In the agricultural worldview, people are separated from nature and seek to control it. By contrast, the hunter-gatherer sees in nature a great provider who asks only that one relate harmoniously to it and act in harmony with it. Marshall Sahlins (1972), in the famous anthropological essay titled “The Original Affluent Society,” first published in 1968, which did a lot to expose Western ethnocentric biases in evaluating these early cultures, wrote “a pristine affluence colors their economic arrangements, a trust in the abundance of nature’s resources rather than despair at the inadequacy of human means” (p. 29). But see, also, Colin Turnbull’s (1961) classic, The Forest People, for further help in freeing oneself from the burden of our limiting Western heritage concerning the basic “darkness” of human nature.
Basic Trust Versus Basic Mistrust in Relation to the Natural World
From these newer perspectives it is easier to see how, since Nature is seen as beneficent, this dependence on it is not viewed as a problem. Still, it does imply a strong element of basic trust; whereas the agrarian culture seeks to control the natural and economic forces upon which it is dependent and implies basic mistrust.
We Opted for “The Struggle” Over Easy Living
And So We Cast Ourselves Out of the Garden
The relationship for the agricultural society, thus, is one of fear, struggle, attempt to control nature, and to propitiate and appease God — in a word, separation, analogous to the physical separation at birth of the newborn from the mother.
Notice that at the outset, in The Bible, immediately after being thrown out of Eden, people are agricultural:
And Adam knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord. And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. (Genesis, 4:1-2)
We Ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil = We Split Life Into a Duality of Pleasure and Pain, Seeking to Possess One and Avoid the Other … at Great Cost, for We Turned Life Into Great Effort
We, of course, did not really start out keeping sheep and tilling the ground. So in Genesis the entire period of a hundred-thousand years … or three-million years, if you include our hominid existence … of hunter-gatherer culture is subsumed under the time in Eden. But then, speaking metaphorically, we ate fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We no longer trusted “God” … Nature, Divine Providence, the All That Is … and instead attempted ourselves to gain power over nature by the separation of life into a duality of good and evil and pleasure and pain — struggling to avoid one and possess the other.
In doing this we began our agricultural lifestyle, and so we were thrust out of The Garden.
Since this did not happen for that 95 to 99 percent of our previous existence, what changed? What was that “apple”?
I contend it was birth pain. And this is what we address next.
Continue with Birth Pain Causes a Feverish Human Mind, Struggling Against Nature and the Divine, Which We Call “Intelligence”: Out of Eden, Part Three — Birth, “Intelligence,” and Culture
Return to Is Birth the Beginning of Consciousness, as We Assume, or Is It the Forgetting of Innate Divine Awareness: Out of Eden, Part One, Birth — An Awakening or a Forgetting?
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Birth — An Awakening or a Forgetting? Out of Eden, Part One — Is Birth the Beginning of Consciousness, as We Assume, or Is It the Forgetting of Innate Divine Awareness
We “Fall from Grace” at Birth: “The Child in the Womb Is in Soham (I am He); But, When It Is Born … It Starts the Question, Koham, Who Am I? For It Forgets Its Truth” — Sathya Sai Baba
Falls from Grace, Prodigal Human, Primal Return … Overview
The book that precedes this one, Falls from Grace, has not presented an optimistic portrait of the human condition. The question might arise, is this scenario true for all people? Has it always been true? Is it this way in all cultures? What are the roots of this dismal human predicament? Finally, and not the least of these, is there anything we can do about it … what is the alternative … what would something better look like in our current situation?
This book, Prodigal Human, and the one to follow, Primal Return, will address these questions and those like them.
We begin by looking more closely, in Prodigal Human: The Descent of Man, at the “evolutionary” and historical aspects of this situation. If the previous book could be said to describe the ontogenetic or “developmental” arc of the devolution of consciousness that has led to our estranged state, this upcoming part can be called the phylogenetic arc of that perspective—the falls from grace, not occurring in one’s individual history, but unfolding over the course of prehistory for our species, human.
Therefore, the next few chapters will address the questions of origins and cultural variations. I follow that with relating the historical and cultural variants to the contemporary situation in putting forth a cultural solution.
But the most thorough response and effort at solutions will be brought out in the next book. Primal Return: Return to Grace will carry the threads of solution forward and weave them into a tapestry of an understanding of what an alternative might look like.
In surveying the phylogenetic and historical terrain immediately before us, however, I will employ the myth of Abraham and Isaac as the primary viewing-rock from which to make out the relevant features. While Biblical renderings are not historically accurate, they provide poetic, allegorical reflections of our possible prehistory and evolution. I could have used mythical accounts from any number of other cultures to provide this heuristic, but it makes sense to use one that is most widely known and has a long tradition of scholarly use in Western culture.
Other aspects of the Genesis account of creation, from The Bible, will also serve as vantage points in our understanding of how we have come to be at this particular pass. That includes the Cain and Abel story and the myth of Eden and The Fall.
We begin at a familiar starting point: Let us recall these words from Genesis concerning our fall from grace and expulsion from Eden:
Unto the woman he said,
I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception;
in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children;
and thy desire shall be to thy husband,
and he shall rule over thee.
And unto Adam he said,
Because thou has hearkened unto the voice of thy wife,
and hast eaten of the tree,
of which I commanded thee, saying,
Though shalt not eat of it:
cursed is the ground for thy sake;
in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life:
thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee;
and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread,
till thou return unto the ground;
for out of it wast thou taken:
for dust thou art,
and unto dust shalt thou return.
And Adam called his wife’s name; because she was the mother of all living.
Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
So he drove out the man: and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. (Genesis, 3: 16-24)
One common interpretation of the Garden of Eden myth in the Genesis book of The Bible concerns God’s direct communication with Adam and Eve prior to the Fall. It is said that Original Sin occurs out of the fact that Eve begins talking to the serpent and making decisions of her own without consulting God — keeping Him “in the dark,” so to speak.
Thus Original Sin occurs out of our separating ourselves from God, turning from Him, as it were, to the things of the world and leaving off direct communication with Him. The result is that we are banished from Eden — the place where we “walked with God” — and are thrust out on our own, “in the sweat of thy face,” to work it out by ourselves.
Birth — An Awakening or a Forgetting?
Birth Is a Forgetting of Innate Divinity: “Like a prodigal child, I had run away from my macrocosmic home and imprisoned myself in a narrow microcosm” — Paramahamsa Yogananda
Now, the obvious psychological corollary to this pattern of falling from grace in Eden is that of one’s birth into this world. Prior to birth, many of us have a relatively direct relationship to the Divine.
The “first major shutdown” has not occurred — that is, the first major time that we have retreated from our roots in the infinite because of our entanglement in the pain of physical existence (Adzema, 1985).
We know this from our re-experience in the various forms of experiential psychotherapy, especially primal therapy, and from the various spiritual growth modalities going under the rubric of “breathwork,” especially holotropic breathwork (Farrant, 1987; Grof 1976, 1985, 1988; Hannig, 1982; Janov, 1983; Lake, 1981).
When you are immersed in your Self, you are happiest. The child in the womb is in Soham (I am He); but, when it is born in the world, it starts the question, Koham, who am I? For it forgets its truth; it identifies itself with the body and the senses. Until it becomes a Jnani, it will never regain the Soham knowledge. (p. 111)
By “I am He,” Sai Baba is indicating the identification of the self with the Divine essence of all. So he is saying we are identified with that essence, or God, in the womb but that when we are born we forget this identification — wondering afterwards, “who am I?”
Similarly, Swami Paramahansa Yogananda (1946) wrote about his experience of returning to a physical body in his reincarnation on earth. He described it: “Like a prodigal child, I had run away from my macrocosmic home and imprisoned myself in a narrow microcosm” (p. 46, emphases mine).
Birth trauma causes this first major shutdown, this first major forgetting of our divinity. After birth we no longer “walk with God” as easily, like most of us did in the womb. We are too caught up in the world, its play of pleasure and pain, our survival in it.
Birth Is the Beginning of Human Consciousness? Addressing the Old Paradigm Understanding of Birth
Mainstream psychology disputes this on two counts — in both cases keeping with Freud: It contends that such a change does not occur in the direction I am proposing, that is to say that consciousness is not reduced through such early experience but is increased (Sroufe, et al, 1992, chapter 8). And further it asserts that it doesn’t occur at the time I am suggesting, by which I mean such change of consciousness, in whichever direction, is not related in any way to the birth event but is stretched out over time in infancy and early childhood (Mahler, et al, 1975; Peoples & Parlee, 1991).
We (Adzema, 1985; Chamberlain, 1988; Janov, 1983; Grof 1976, 1985, 1988; Lake, 1981; Verny, 1981; to name just a few), however, disagree with mainstream psychology based upon our evidence, which they, as yet, continue to ignore. On both counts — the direction and the time — our evidence is overwhelming that it is as I’ve stated: We “fall from grace” at birth. The fact that mainstream psychology is reluctant and inefficient in its methods of admitting new data and better interpretations should not, I feel, be allowed to inhibit the progress of science: Specifically, in this case, paradigm entrenchment should not preclude our efforts to evaluate these findings in the field of prenatal and perinatal psychology and to follow them to whatever other new truths they may lead.
I should point out that I do not object to mainstream psychology limiting the range of what it considers to be valid and credible evidence to a certain small spectrum of “hard” data. But what I do object to is that when they stray into areas … and they inevitably do … about which there is no hard evidence, perhaps because there can be no such evidence in such an area—for example, what might be the subjective experience of birth for the infant—they project into those areas their “scientistic” biases and prejudices. This they do, completely ignoring the vast amount of evidence of a less-than-hard variety that would completely dispute their biases. So doing, we end up with psychologists of the status quo putting out self-serving rationales and rationalizations for their beliefs and lifestyles, couched in scientific language. And that is anything but the empiricism they proclaim.
For how anyone could judge the (often voluminous, meticulously recorded, and researched) “softer” data that is available (we’re not talking about wrong data) at a lower value than no data is a mystery. This is understandable, I suppose, only by a reading of Thomas Kuhn on paradigm entrenchment and resistance to new data that implies paradigm shift (1970). Here we see a situation where the old adage that religion takes over where science leaves off remains true. Only it is “scientistic” religion that is taking over to color those areas where they cannot dare to tread on purely empirical grounds.
This would be bad enough, but for the fact that not all the evidence that is ignored in this manner is even of the “softer” variety. Much of it is hard evidence, scrupulously grounded in strict empirical methodology. But this “baby” is also thrown out with the supposed “bathwater” of the anecdotal “softer” data. In addition to that evidence erupting in the field of prenatal and perinatal psychology, there is the evidence in related fields, the research on morphic resonance and morphogenetic fields is one such example, previously explored.
So apparently, in self-appointed “reputable” psychological science, there are sanctioned sources and unsanctioned sources for one’s information. Again we need Kuhn (1970) to help us understand this. But it has nothing to do with science and everything to do with politics and psychology—that is, it has to do with human failings and arrogance.
At any rate, this book, Prodigal Human, and its accompanying volumes, may be considered part of the effort to evaluate the evidence ignored by the mainstream. Further, the attempt to reconcile these findings, to accommodate mainstream constructs to these discoveries, is an ongoing effort on our part.
Birth Is the Next Major Diminishing of Consciousness After the One at the Beginning — Around Conception: In the Womb, One Is Still Conscious of Divinity
At any rate, technically speaking, birth is the first major narrowing of consciousness after the one at conception. Of course, we are speaking generally here, for there is a great deal of individual variation in this depending upon the events in the womb. These are complicating issues that would not be profitably addressed here but are elsewhere (See, for example, Falls from Grace).
Therefore, to all intents and purposes conception is the first shutdown, technically the first fall from grace. But at this point, after that first fall, and while in the womb, many people are still relatively open to the Divine. There is the awareness of separation from Divinity, and the creation of form, at the creation of sperm and egg. But the second duality, the second split has usually not occurred — that of separation from the present, and the creation of time, which occurs at birth (Again, see Falls from Grace).
This is what happened to us in our individual lives. Now, let us look at how this same kind of fall from grace or “ejection from Eden” has played out over the eons in the creation of what we know today as the species, human.
Continue with We Once Had the Run of the Forest and the “Original Affluent Society”: Early Human Savagery Is a Patriarchal Myth Rationalizing Our Descent Into Civilization
Return to Book 9—Falls from Grace
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Posted in Anthropology, authenticity, being yourself, Birth, Consciousness, Evolution, God, individualism, life, meaning, Metaphysics, Mystical, nonconform, Philosophy, Primal Spirit, Primal Spirituality, Psychology, Religion, Spirituality
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Out of Eden—Agrarian Revolution … Return to Eden—Primal Renaissance: The Earliest Yuppies, 25,000 Years Ago, Cast Us Out of the Garden. We Are Returning … Now
Primal Renaissance: Our Greatest Hope May Be the Flourishing of Culture as We Reintegrate Long-Lost Knowledge and Worldview, Formerly Ridiculed as “Primitive”
Falls from Grace, Epilogue: Are We Entering a Primal Renaissance?
We live in exciting times. Information hams it up before us at every turn. This unparalleled info-glut brings fascination, paralysis, agony, insight, change, renewal, and inspiration. In some ways it looks like a renaissance — take the incredible proliferation of technology, for example . . . the mind-boggling advances in computers. But a renaissance of the “primitive,” the “uncivilized” . . . a primal renaissance? How can that possibly be?
Paleolithic Consciousness … Out of Eden
For weeks I had been working on several articles, my ardor suspending me above the landscape of a natural consciousness, a hunter-gatherer one. Called “paleolithic consciousness” by one contemporary theorist, this mindstyle is reputed to exist among our hunter-gatherer progenitors and among some current “primal cultures.” It is characterized by greater attunement with body and nature, greater relaxation and well-beingness, more loving child-caring, greater sensory and aesthetic appreciation, more expanded psychic openness, fuller emotional and relational capacity, and greater “with-it-ness” (Witness) with reality in general.
The Earliest Yuppies and The Agrarian Revolution
I was also focusing on how our civilization came to lose that primal expansiveness of soul — a la “ejection from the Garden of Eden.” An increasing mistrust of nature — and an inexplicable rebellion against an eternally old “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” philosophy — led to attempts to control Nature, and consequently body as well. The supposed big “advance” of these earliest yuppies was the domestication of plants and animals. In history, this first major “upwardly mobile” turning is known as the “agrarian revolution,” and it occurred variously between 10 and 30 thousand years ago.
All of a piece it came to me that what was going on now, in Western culture, was exactly parallel to what had occurred during the Renaissance of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. At that time, you may recall, the Catholic Church’s intellectual hegemony was loosening, which allowed ancient Roman and Greek texts preserved in the monasteries to be released into the collective culture. There, our formerly repressed and forgotten “classical” heritage combined and cross-fertilized with views prevailing at that time to create the incredible flowering of culture and human potential that the word renaissance now conveys.
The View from the Doorstep of Nuclear and Ecological Annihilation
It occurred to me that night how we, in the consciousness and ecology movements, are becoming ever more aware, once again, in diverse and various ways, of the vast legacy of feeling, perception, human fulfillment, and spiritual awareness and viewpoint that current “child-rearing” practices cause us “normally” to leave behind. Similarly we come to realize how much our species lost in coming into its much-vaunted “civilization” in its evolutionary history. The view from the doorstep of nuclear and ecological annihilation allows such perspectives.
Yet, through our different ways of healing ourselves, and to extents greater and lesser, we retrieve that lost and repressed legacy.
And we are, happily, not alone in that retrieval. Increasingly it appears that our age is characterized, on a global scale, by an unprecedented multiculturalism wrought of technological advances in telecommunications and transportation. Consequently, we are pushed to enjoying an ever growing awareness of the legacies of primal cultures, both current and historical.
Xenophobia Dissolving and “Ego”-Eroding Information
At the same time and not coincidentally we observe our own religious, scientific, and Western-cultural hegemonies collapsing under that same weight of contrary and both xenophobia- and “ego”-eroding information. Moreover, this collapse is aided by momentous and far-reaching occurrences as diverse as our mistaken engagements in third-world countries — our misadventures in Iraq and Vietnam, for example; the technological crisis of credibility wrought of the global ecological crisis; and the discoveries of the new physics with their concurrent death-blow to the pretensions of common-sense materialism.
Re-Integration of the Primitive and Primal … Return to Eden
It became clear to me that just as centuries ago we came out from under the thumb of a brand of cultural repression that scapegoated and repressed former cultures — specifically, the Greek and the Roman legacies, calling them “pagan” — we were now coming out from under the thumb of a cultural repression and consequent scapegoating of even longer duration — one extending back ten to thirty-thousand years! Along with this we were seeing not only the limitations and inadequacies of the Western civilization and technology which so many had sacrificed for, and killed for; we were seeing also the re-integration of long-lost knowledge and worldview — which formerly had been obscured and hidden beneath such pejoratives as “primitive,” “savage,” and “uncivilized.”
Shamans, Vision Quests, Sweat Lodges, and Drums
Some of us were learning this only too well, as it seemed necessary to search out the earliest or least “civilized” cultures possible for the only pertinent tips we could find on sane and healthy child-caring techniques.
But the rest of our culture is catching on too, and in a big way! Shamanistic practices, rites of passage, and indigenous rituals are enjoying great popularity. Workshops on everything from vision quests, fire-walking, and Native American sweat lodges . . . to nature treks, drumming, and “sacred arrow” ceremonies have begun popping up. And currently we are even recognizing our Western patriarchal culture’s evil hand in the extermination of society upon society of indigenous peoples; we are re-writing the history books on the legacy of Columbus even as we passed the five-hundredth anniversary of his landing in America.
A Flourishing of Culture?
What’s more, in a manner analogous to the cross-fertilization of ideas that led to the medieval Renaissance, our culture is expanding and becoming richer through the inclusion of these alternate perspectives. Those of us on the healing edge are uniquely able to sense the potential of this inclusion as we experience the effects that this kind of appreciation of the feeling, the affectionate, the intuitive, the natural, the body, and the senses has had upon our individual lives. Why would we not think that this kind of cross-fertilization of repressed heritage would lead to a flourishing of our culture in the same way that it is has led to a blossoming in our lives?
The Brightest Light on Our Cultural Horizon
Indeed, many of us do feel that a “primal renaissance” is occurring on our planet. Furthermore, many of us believe that this occurrence may be, in truth, the brightest hope on what otherwise can appear globally to be a rather bleak social and cultural horizon.
So let us not lose this opportunity to midwife the emergence of this primal renaissance, and, germinal as it may appear at this time, to nurture it to its fullest flowering. We cannot change the past, of course. But our efforts will work — one small measure at least — for righting the many wrongs of those who have come before us toward those earlier primal societies, and the deeply felt ideas and cultural ways they held dear.
Continue with Book 10 — Primal Return: The Prodigal Awakening
Return to Planet of the Apes? Thunderdome? No. But Only If We Are Lucky: Our Primal Return May Indeed Be a Primal Renaissance
To Access the Entire Book, of which this is an excerpt, Go To Falls from Grace
Invite you to join me on Twitter:
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Continue with Book 10 — Primal Return: The Prodigal Awakening
Return to Planet of the Apes? Thunderdome? No. But Only If We Are Lucky: Our Primal Return May Indeed Be a Primal Renaissance
To Access the Entire Book, of which this is an excerpt, Go To Falls from Grace
Invite you to join me on Twitter:
friend me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sillymickel
and in print and e-book format at Amazon at
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