Ep. 17 - Awakening from the Meaning Crisis - Gnosis and Existential Inertia
(Sectioning and transcripts made by MeaningCrisis.co)
A Kind Donation
Welcome back to Awakening From The Meaning Crisis. Last time we tried something somewhat pretentious - I hope it was still valuable! We endeavored to discuss the contributions to the notions of meaning and wisdom that were made by the advent of Christianity. In particular, we looked at Jesus of Nazareth and the exemplification of this participatory knowing in God's Agapic creativity, this for-giving of personhood to others. John's radical idea that God is, in fact, this Agape! That that is actually what we've always been talking about when we've been talking about God. And then Paul's radical personalization of this and how the Metanoia of his own transformation is seen by him as a powerful instance of this Gnosis Agape. But how that also carried with it a potential dark side in which elements of our, of his identity get projected onto cosmic history, and the idea of inner conflict within history, within God, as being reflected of and reflected in his own inner conflict between the old Saul and the new Paul. And how much this Gnosis Participatory knowing is bound up with an exploration and an understanding of how our Agency can be fractured, how we can be at war with ourselves, how we can suffer. And I want to take this up because the notion of how we can suffer, how we can become at war with ourselves, how our Agency can be undermined and how much cosmic forces may be aligned with our suffering becomes a central idea amongst a group of people known [as], or at least called by their enemies, the Gnostics.
Now there's a lot of controversy about whether or not this is a useful theoretical construct. There might've been some Gnosis communities. It's more apt to think of Gnosticism as a style and a way of thinking, like Existentialism or Fundamentalism. You don't go to a "fundamentalist church". You belong to a branch of Christianity that might be fundamentalist. It's a way of orienting yourself that is not like belonging to a particular community, or a particular political or socioeconomic group. Nevertheless, this sense of inner conflict, this sense of losing Agency, this sense of the importance of Gnosis and Agape are all made central to this style, this movement.
Now, before I talk about them in particular, I want to reverse how I want to present this. What I want to do is instead of trying to historically teach you about them first, I want to try and make clear to you from the inside, so to speak, what Gnosis is and how you are probably at some point seeking it, or will be seeking it, or have sought it in your life. And then once we get this existential understanding of what Gnosis is, then through that lens, I think it is more appropriate to try and understand the historical figures. The Gnostics are sort of, I dunno what to say, "sexy", "hot" right now?!? A lot of conspiracy theories and Dan Brown kind of crap around all of this. And I think that's the wrong way! You don't really understand the Gnostics as a movement, unless you understand what Gnosis is itself. This is going to turn out to be important because I think a way we can understand the Gnostics is they are the Axial Revolution within the Axial Revolution. They are the attempt to take the Axial Revolution to it's culmination, to it's rational culmination, and they are going to provide the undercurrent to Western Cultures' understanding of its spiritual history and direction.
So for a long time you won't hear me talk about the Gnostics because, like I did when I was talking about the Buddha's enlightenment, and we did a lot of cognitive science on higher States of consciousness, I want to try and do some significant cognitive science before we turn back to the history. So let's get, let's our work our way into what this is... We've already got some sense of what this is. We've had a lot of discussion of Participatory Knowing and Perspectival Knowing, and Gnosis has both of those elements in it, of Transformative Experience. We're going to try and draw this all together. But let's work our way into this.
So we've talked about a Worldview. And a worldview is when you have a way... You have this deeply integrated, dynamically coupled way of seeing yourself, your Agency, and seeing the world as an Arena. You have this bi-directional modeling. It is simultaneously modeling the world to you and modeling you to shape the world. This mutual conformity, this reciprocal revelation. So that's a worldview. Now, this has happened to me, and I hope something similar has happened to you. Perhaps when you're reading a book, a novel, or - I'll use an example: I'm reading the works of a particular philosopher, let's say it's Spinosa. And I'll be reading and I'll... and spinosa is a profound and deep thinker, and you spend a lot of time and you're reading the arguments and you're trying to understand... and you can come to follow the arguments. You can come to follow the inferences. You can even come to believe some of Spinoza's conclusions until you have a lot of beliefs - and they don't even have to be in co-??? [related] - they can be sort of systematically related together. But then something else happens. Sometimes. Not always. But it's happened to me [on] multiple occasions. And it's often what I'm trying to convey above and beyond what I'm saying when I'm teaching other people, when reading Spinosa - and there's, it's like (Clicks his fingers) there's this change!! I go from seeing what Spinosa is saying to seeing things the way spinosa says.
Spinosa goes from something [like], you know: "Oh, I believe what Spinosa's saying 'there' and 'there', and 'there', and 'there' about the world and about what it is to be a human being..."! I go from that to actually seeing the world "Spinozisticly". It's because Spinoza is now, to use a metaphor [of his], is now the lens by which I'm both seeing the world and myself. I am now living the world as if Spinoza was an adverb. I'm living the world "Spinozisticly". I have the perspective of what it is like to see the world the way Spinoza did and what it is like to participate in that Worldview. You get this advent of the viability, the livability of a Worldview. James talks about that. He talks about the difference - William James, the great psychologist and philosopher - he talks about the difference between believing things and it actually being a live option to you.
So what happens there is, at least for some period of time, the Agent/ Arena relationship, the perspectival and the participatory knowing, are now conformed to - at least it seems to me to be that way - to what Spinoza had. Not just what Spinoza said, [but] who and what Spinoza was and what his world was to him has become available to me. Now that's important because that viability, that ability to enter into a particular Agent/ Arena configuration will help me to take the next step forward.
So John Wright talks a lot about "Sensibility Transcendence" (written on the board), and he talks about it - and this is based on the really important work of Iris Murdoch and just an absolute gem of a book called "The Sovereignty Of Good". If you read 10 books in your life, one of them should be The Sovereignty Of Good; your life will be less if you have not read it. - So Murdoch was trying to get beyond the rules and reasons for morality to something much more important. She was trying to get to that viability of morality. The way in which we pay attention in such a way that our Salience Landscape and the Agent/ Arena Relationship has transformed such that we do 'the Good'.
But... Let's use Murdoch's particular example. There's a mother-in-law; she has a son. The son is married to a woman and she doesn't like this woman. The Mother-in-law doesn't like the woman. It's obviously the mother-in-law to the daughter-in-law. She doesn't like this woman because she finds her coarse, finds her loud. [She] finds her kind of uncouth [and] therefore beneath the elegance and dignity of her son. And then - and think about Agape and 'for-giving' here; think about Agape and for-giving - but what happens here, at some point Murdoch says, and it happens like an insight, it happens like when you come out of the nine dot problem: The mother-in-law realizes something. And Murdoch is clear about this: It's not a normal insight! In a normal insight we reframe how we're looking at something; I reframe how I look at the nine dots. But what's actually happening is the mother-in-law is having a bi-directional insight. She's not only reframing how she sees the world, she's reframing how she sees herself and these are happening in a completely interfused manner. This is a Participatory Change. Both the Agent and the Arena side of the relationship are being co-changed together.
So it's not a reframing of this or that. I often use this term, it's a "TRANSFRAMING" (written on the board). It's not a reframing of a particular problem. It's a transformation of the whole framing process: Both ends. Because what's happening is the mother-in-law is seeing the daughter-in-law not as coarse, but as spontaneous; not as uncouth, but sincere; not as lacking in elegance, but as possessing authenticity! And then she's simultaneously, in a code determining fashion, realizing that the way that she, the mother-in-law, has framed things, habitually, has been wrong! She's having what we've talked about before, that Systematic Insight, not just an insight here and here, but there's a whole system of errors that she's transforming. She's going through that kind of Developmental Transformation that we've talked about. Wright calls this Sensibility Transcendence. Because what's happening, simultaneously, is the daughter-in-law can be something that she couldn't be before and the mother-in-law is becoming somebody she couldn't become before; she couldn't be before. These two things are happening together. Her sensibility, her whole way of participating in a Worldview, an Agent/ Arena relationship is being transformed. And so both things are going through transcendence. Do you see this? Here's herself, and here's the daughter (drawing / writing on the board), the object of attention, and 'this' (Mother-in-law) is going through self-transcendence, but so is this (daughter), and that's happening in a completely conjoined way (the inter-relationship between the two, individually transcending selves).
The mother-in-law is becoming what she couldn't be because of how she is opening up what the daughter-in-law can be, and precisely because she's coming to see, [to] have a radical insight into what the daughter-in-law could be. (Gesturing to the board for the following) Opening up that (daughter) she's opening up what she (her 'self' - the Mother-in-law) can be. It's again, this process, a participatory knowing, [a] reciprocal revelation. And there's mutually accelerating disclosure. There's knowing by loving; It's a Sensibility Transcendence. So, notice what's happening here: There's a way... You can see that I can... I can go through a process like this (Sensibility Transcendence) and enter into a Worldview, and of course that's what Christianity was offering! It was offering people that Metanoia of how they can go through this radical transformation in this way, opening up the world, opening up themselves, etc...
Flipping sensibility transcendence
Now, why is that important? Because now I want you to think of the opposite! Your inability to enter into or make viable to yourself a new way of being. Now in order to get to that, let me bring up, again, somebody we've spoken [about] before, Harry Frankfurt. (Remember he's the person who talked about bullshit.) Frankfurt also talks about how - [a] wonderful book: "The Reasons Of Love" and "The Importance Of What We Care About" - how much our reasoning depends on what we love, what we care about, how we're bound into an Agent/ Arena relationship. Now, Frankfurt brings up an important notion. He brings up a notion he calls - [and] I don't quite like this word, but to be fair to him, I can't think of a better one - he calls the "Unthinkable" (writes on the board). So let me give you an example of this: The way to think of the Unthinkable is, although you can make thoughts, images, propositions, run inferences, you can't actually make it viable. You can't go through the Sensibility Transcendence that would bring you into living that Worldview.
So here's my example. My oldest son currently lives with me. (And this has been such a blessing for me. I get to live with him and spend time with him as he's building his career.) Now, I can think this thought: "it would be great if I kicked Jason out"! I can run this thought through my head because if I did, then the apartment would be clean. I'd have more money, I can draw... I can imagine what it would look like. I can run the thought, right? I can drive all the inferences. But what I can't do is actually make this a viable alternative for me. It's in that way, the thought, it's unthinkable to me. My love for my son doesn't mean I can't run these thoughts/ imagine these scenes/ draw out these inferences... I can do all of that. What I can't do is bring myself to live in that world. It's "unthinkable" to me. Perhaps a better way of thinking about it is [that] it's not viable to me. It's unlivable for me.
Now that's a good thing, right? So do you see how I have a way, a Sensibility Transcendence with my son, that means there's no effort on my part to treat him morally and I'm not trying to be self-congratulatory. What I'm trying to say is [that] doing that thing of kicking him out, which I think would ultimately be an immoral act, is not viable to me. So right now, this all sounds... this is all really great! But there's a way in which this can be twisted, and I want you to now think of the negative of it. What if your stuck? You're stuck in a Worldview you don't want to be in. You want to go over there to that Worldview! But you can't. You can't go through the Sensibility Transcendence that will make that worldview viable to you, because... You can run inferences in your head... You can run [or] Imagine scenes... You can state things to yourself... You can make all kinds of affirmations... [but it] won't get you there! You're stuck! You can't go through that change. You experience a kind of existential inertia. People often enter therapy for exactly this reason. They can state who they want to be and what kind of world they want to be in. They can imagine it. They can make inferences of what it would be like if they were there. They can deeply want to be there! But they don't... They don't get there! They stay stuck!!
I want to stop getting in these horrible romantic relationships. I want to be in a relationship that is deep and profound. It would be so good. I can imagine myself there. I could see myself, but I can't get there. Every time I try to get there, I end up here again every time somehow, and I don't understand how, I don't understand how the way I'm caring about things, the way I'm participating in myself and my world is preventing me from making that way of life a viable option to me. I want to be there. Think about Paul and the old man in the new man. I wanna be there. I want to be that person living there, but all my efforts to get there, circle me back to here. I just can't get out of this existential inertia. I don't know how to bring about the sensibility transcendence that's going to make that way, that person and that world viable to me. How do I get there? How do I get there? How do I stop suffering? So one thing that can happen to people is they can lose their agency. Remember, that's what suffering means because they are there, they're there, they're stuck like this. They're losing any sense of how to get to that other worldview, that other self, they're experiencing. Radical existential inertia.
You used to often talk, Carl Young used to talk about the primary thing that people would have to get to and have to express and why they would come into therapy was precisely because they felt stuck. It might not even be that there's particular concrete problems in their life. It might be that everything is actually going kind of well, but they're stuck. They're stuck. They're thwarted. They there, there is, there's a sense of they're not moving and they should be. And although they can talk and draw images and make inferences about how they should move and where they should move to, they don't have the participatory perspective of knowing. They don't know how to get there. They don't know how to engage in the sensibility transcendence. They don't know how to bring about the trans framing. And often they enter into therapy and therapy has an Adaptic element into it. The therapist is affording an [inaudible] transformation.
But in addition to being stocked because of existential inertia, there's another problem people face when they are seeking, when they need significant transformation. And this goes to the heart of one of the best books. I've already mentioned it before in this series. And I think philosophy in the last 20 years, this is LA. Paul's work, a transformative experience because what LA Paul's work points to, it's a way in which these transformative experiences render us the possibility of such transformative experiences, render us kind of stupefied because what they have us do is confront a deep kind of existential ignorance that is endemic to these transformative experiences.
And it has to do again with this very perspectival and participatory knowing that I'm talking about. Okay? So she gives the example. She first starts with a very trivial example just to, to, to warm you up to the thinking. She, she says, somebody offers you to taste this fruit that you've never tasted before. And the problem is people have very bi-modal reaction. They either say, wow, this food is so unlike any food I've ever tasted. It's so wonderful. I love it. Or they say, this food is so unlike any food I've ever tasted. I hate it. It tastes like vomit. And, and the thing is, you don't know which reaction you're going to have until you bite the fruit.
And she says, well, do you bite the fruit? And you may say, well, I don't know. The point is right, you bite the fruit or not, you'll typically say, well what does it matter? It's not a, there's nothing significantly at risk if I have the fruit. That's true, but what the fruit example points to is the following. There's a kind of knowing that is dependent on your state of being. This is your perspective knowing you don't know what it is like cause that's the core of you don't know what your salience landscape will be like when you eat this fruit until you have eaten the fruit. There's no way of knowing that ahead of time. You have to go through the experience to know what it is like to have the experience. You say, okay, I can sort of get that. So like this is kind of what she calls an epistemic transformation, but she says some of the times what we're confronting is something deeper where we're confronting a personal transformation, right?
This is where what's what's happening again is knowing not just by having a particular perspective. This is knowing by having the agent arena relationship radically trans framed. You don't know what it's like to be that person in that world, right? Because you have to actually be changed and the world has to be changed in order for you to have that participatory knowing. So she talks about the fact that what she means by like a transformative experience is one in which you're going to undergo that change in perspective of knowing in that change in participatory note showed you, gives a good dog experiment to bring that out. First a thought experiment. She says, imagine the following. All right? She said, your friends come to you and they revealed a secret. They give you just in like in Dubin biteable evidence that they can do the following. They convince you that they can absolutely do the following. They can turn you into a vampire.
Do you do it?
Do you do you become a vampire? Now before you put this off, is stilly the point of a philosophical thought experience that is to play with something free from your own life so you can get clear about what it means. After we've played with it. We will go back to our lives. But here's the issue. You can't make any inferences about this cause you don't know what it's going to be like to be a vampire and you don't know who you're going to be when you're a vampire because your preferences, your character, everything is going to change. And your salients landscaping is going to radically change. You don't know what it's going to be like. So here's what you face. I don't know what I'm going to lose if I become a vampire. I don't know what I'm going to lose. Once I go through this change, I will have lost a way of being.
It will become unthinkable to me. I can't back to it, but I don't know what I'm going to lose until I go through it. So, Oh well then I shouldn't do it. Ah, but if I don't do it, I don't know what I'm missing. I don't know what I missing. There could be a way of being here that is amazing and wonderful. I don't know what I'm missing and I'm caught. I equally don't know what I'm going to lose and I don't know what I'm going, what I missing and I can't do any calculations. I don't know what my values are going to be are my values. Now the right set of values are my values. Then the right set of values is the kinds of experiences I'm having now or the like. There is no place above. I can make the comparison. I can't reason my way through it and now unlike the fruit example, everything is at risk. Both the agent and the arena are at risk and you go, okay, so what? I get it, who cares? I'm never going to be a vampire. That's not the point. The point is once you acknowledge the logic of the problem, this is what she now gets you to realize. You confront these EV in your life at multiple times. Here's an example, so relevant to everything we've been talking about with a golf bag.
Should you have a kid? Should you have a child? You see how it's exactly the same. You don't know what you're missing if you don't have a child, because you are going to, we've talked about this. You're going to become a different person with a different salience landscape, and until you have a child, you don't want a toy, so you don't know what you're missing. You also don't know what you're gonna lose. Oh, people will tell you, Oh blah, blah, blah, blah, but until you go through it, you don't know you're existentially ignorant. Here's another one. Should I enter into a romantic relationship with that person?
You don't know. You don't know who you're going to be because if it's a real romantic relationship, it's going to change you. You don't know who you're going to be. You don't know what your silliest landscape is going to be until you're on the other side. You don't know what you're missing by not getting into the relationship, but you don't know what you're going to lose until when you get into it. So should you do it or not? We face irreversible change and yet we can't. There's no way to reason our way through it because on both sides of the transformation, we are confronted by radical ignorance. We don't know what we're missing and we don't know what we'll be losing. We don't know if we should stay here. We don't know if we should go there. Now I've had the pleasure to talk to, to LA Paul, Lori about some of this and present a case to her, which I think she, there's some agreement about this. And I look forward to, we have some future work we're doing together. As I pointed out to Lori, that when, whenever we're going through any significant developmental change, like to use Paul's example, going from a child to an adult, the child doesn't know what they're going to lose when they lose their childhood innocence. When they become an adult, they don't know.
But as an adult, right? But the child also doesn't know what it's going to miss. What is missing if it doesn't become an adult and you think, Oh, that's ridiculous. No, it's not. Do you know how much people face difficulties? Precisely because they get transfixed by this. They, right. If I grow up, I'm going to, I might lose stuff, but if I don't grow up, I don't know what I missing. What should I do? What should I do? What should I do? Like if I choose this career, I lose all these wonderful potentially polities, but should I just keep all my possibilities open? Look at all my possibilities. But, but if I choose this, I'll lose and I, and some of those possibilities, I don't even know. But if I don't ever choose, what am I missing? I'll never know because I've never actually gotten into any particular career.
So we can be stupefied as we face the need for radical transformation. So people are not, they go into therapy, not only because they're stuck, they don't know how to transform. They're also stupefied. They don't know if they should. All right, I won't cause I might, Oh, what am I? Right. And this is bound up with the aspect disguise that people get into when they're stuck and it shows this stupid vacation and the stuckness working together. Look, somebody comes in, they're doing therapeutic work with you. Right? Why are you here? I'm stuck. How are you stuck? Oh, well I'm so stubborn. Like I'm stubborn and I originally, Oh, and I went on. I need to get, I need to be more of like, Oh, okay. And then you talk to them and let's talk about other stuff. Come back and go. What do you like most about yourself? Oh, I'm persistent.
I don't give up.
And you see the very thing they're trying to change. It's the very thing about themselves that they don't want to let go of, that they're most identified with. I'm stubborn. I won't change my mind. What do you like about yourself? I'm persistent. I don't give up. I don't change my mind. They talk about the same thing, one under a negative aspect and one under a positive aspect and they don't realize it. They're stuck and they're stupefied. And when we're stuck and we're stupefied when we're stuck, we can't imagine how to make an alternative worldview significant. How to make it viable when we're stupefied. We can't imagine the alternative. We can't figuring out how to rationally make the choice. So we get this right and nurse HSA and indecision. We're stuck and we're stupefied and then we're trapped. We're existentially trapped. And then you can think about how that could mix. We mixed up with the stuff we talked about with the Buddha, the parasitic processing, the parasitic processing, the Bodel confusion. But we get stuck. How do you get out? What do you do in therapy? Because therapy works. What do you do? How do you, how do you get people out of being existentially trapped? Well, let's, let's go back to it. Let's try and work our way through it.
So what do some people do when they're considering whether or not they want to have a child? Well, some people just throw themselves into the Darwinian flow and just blow, right? But some people are like, Oh, should we have a child or not? Right? What do some people do? Well, I've noticed many people doing this and it's very interesting. They get a pack, they get a dog typically, and then they do kind of bizarre behaviors with the dog. They have pictures taken with the dog and they give the dog a bed and some toys and write and write and say, Ooh. Right. And what they're doing right is they're doing something that's right. Kind of like having the child, should I enter into a romantic relationship with this person? This is advice. It was actually given to me when I was dating and I, I see people do go on a trip with them, go on a trip with them, live with them for seven days. It's kind of like living with them. It's kind of like being in a relationship with them. People say, Oh well yeah, I sort of get that. But even the things like the being of event, how do people do that? Well, they play role playing games and you say that's just fantasy. Okay, well pay attention to the way this is evolving in our culture.
So role playing games have moved into live action versions where you act out the role playing. And then this has evolved into a Norwegian, like not Norwegian and Scandinavian style, which is called Jeep forum. And in Jeep forum what you're doing is you're given a scenario to act out and the person that's plays the role of like the junk din masters, like a movie director, they will tell you to cut scenes or switch roles and here's the whole point of Jeep form you. You're trying to enact emotionally difficult situations. Why would you want to do that? What? What people are seeking in Jeep form is they're seeking a phenomenon called bleed. I want, I'm going to do this roleplaying and I'm getting this person or here's the director and they're doing stuff to mess up with my trans framing and my role playing because what I'm trying to do is get so that the line between my real life and what I'm doing in this psychodrama bleeds so that the line between the game and reality bleed into each other. Billers, I'm looking for bleed so that I can play seriously play with the possibilities.
Do you see what's happening here? People engage and we have to learn how to take this word seriously again. They engage in play. The whole point of a play, right? The whole point about play is it puts you in between here's the world you're in and here's the world you want to be in, and then there's this liminal zone where we can play. It's no coincidence that as organisms become more intelligent, more need needed meat, more in need of right developmental transformations, they also become much more playful. They need more and more play and play is not a frivolous thing. One of the disasters of our culture is we think of play as only about fun. We've trivialized it. A play can be fun. I don't think fun is what people are after in Jeep form. It's not really fun that people are out after when they adopt the dog and treat it like a child. See, the word play doesn't have to be about fun because you can play music and it could be heartbreaking music. It could be Mauler that you're playing in Tai Chi. You don't do Tai Chi. You play Tai Chi, and it's not about having fun. It's about a deep engagement with processes of transformation.
So the way to think about this is what are people doing in all these instances there? They're confronting the possibility of a transformative experience. And so what they do is they have an enactive analogy. This isn't an analogy of word or thought because that's not gonna work because this is about perspectival and participatory change. This is an analogy you enact. You go through the actions. Now this takes a lot of skill to create an enactive analogy. It creates a lot of skill. I got to get it right, right? If I'm doing the Jeep forum, I got to get it right, and that's what the director's there to help Mike meek do role reversal. Suddenly give me an object I got to use, right? The therapist will suddenly get you to talk to that. Pretend that that empty chair, that your mother's there and start talking right? And you got to get it right because the enactive analogy has to be similar enough to the world and the person you're trying to become in that world. It has to be similar enough that you can feel it. You can start to get the perspectival and participatory knowing, but it's still similar enough to this world that you can pull out if you need to and you got to get this. It's this delicate balancing act. It has to be relevantly similar to the world I want to go to, but still relevantly similar to the world that I'm in because I want to put myself into a place where I can play, whether it's with the two so that I can compare them together. This tray, this crates, this creates demands, I should say. It's a man's tremendous skill. Disability to come up with a opt. There's, there's a beauty and an elegance here, an apt metaphor that you can actually play within that you can participate in so that you can, ah, that's what it would be like. Ah, but I, but I, I still know who I am right now and I can feel and see and sense the two together. That's what you're doing in therapy.
One of the things we need to do. As you can probably see an implication of what I'm saying as part of addressing the meaning crisis is we have to recover play and I hope you now understand what I'm going to say and that is not meant to be disrespectful. One of the important things that religion was was play. That's what ritual properly understood is people are playing serious play in order to try and put themselves into a liminal place, a place between two worlds, the normal world and the sacred world. They want to dwell within. They're playing there in order to see how and whether they should go through the change in world and self that the religion is demanding and affording. Now notice in order to make a worldview viable to me, I have to go through this self world sensibility transcendence, but you've seen that before. You've seen that before. This is anagoge. Anagoge is precisely to set things up so that as this, as this is transcending as its decline, as I'm coming more into contact with what's real, getting below the illusion, like Paul just seeing things in mirror or just shadows on the cave for player as that opens up, that affords me transforming, right? So sensibility transcendence is just I think anagoge and sensibility transcendence is how I entered into a worldview. So what I need is I need not only an enactive analogy, I need a way of enacting anagoge.
And that is also what religious ritual used to do for us. Religious ritual was a way of playing with enactive analogies so that I can compare so I could overcome the ignorance. I can, right? I can see isn't even the right verb. I can see B, these two worlds, these two ways of being, these two persons within those worlds. But ritual also was and acted at a gay, it was giving you the skills for knowing how to get unstuck, how to go through sensibility, transcendence, how to make that world for survival. So in therapy, you're often doing this. You're giving people an active analogy, okay? So you're having like, it's coming clear that you're stuck and it has to do with how you relate it to your mom. Okay? So pretend that your mom is in that chair. I know she's dead. Now forget that this isn't literal, but it's not fun. It's not frivolous. It's serious play. Pretend your mom is there and enact that. Get the analogy, talk to her. And then here I am, I'm a therapist. I'll give you ways of reframing her and reframing yourself. I'll help you to engage in anagogy. So you'll start to know how to go through the sensibility transcendence, and that's how you get out of being existentially trapped.
You have this ritual behavior. Again, like when I'm doing Tai Chi, like Tai Chi, right? These are all, this is enactive analogy. I'm doing these motions. This is how like if somebody, this is how single whipped is helping me actually enact what it would be like to be in a fight situation, but it's also anagogic, right? The whole point about doing Tai Chi is it's also radically transforming. That's one way of understanding. She don't understand it as magical energy. Understand that X instead as its way of radically transforming how I'm experiencing myself in the world and Tai Chi, we talk about the two eyes. I have an eye that's looking out at the world and looking at myself and what I'm doing is I'm radically transforming them. I'm trying to bring about the knowhow of anagoge and I'm in acting. The analogy of fighting. It's a ritual. I'm seriously playing with an enactive analogy and enacting anagogic transformation. That's why it's a path of wisdom and a martial art. At the same time is he therapy? Real martial arts, martial arts that aren't just kicking punch but real martial arts. We're all doing this. That's why so many people in the meaning crisis are attracted to martial arts, are attracted to things like Jeep form. They're hungry. That's why they go into therapy. They are hungry. They are hungry for ways of dealing with being existentially trapped.
So people are looking for ways of transforming, not just their cognition, their beliefs, but perspectively transforming their consciousness and a participatory fashion, transforming their character, what they identify with and how they, that identification enables them to inhabit an agent arena relationship. We're close to telling you what gnosis is. So in gnosis what I'm trying to do, it's bringing about an altered state of consciousness
cause that it's going to put me into the flow state. It's got the possibility of giving me a higher state of consciousness, a mystical experience that's transformative. And then what I'm doing is I'm setting this within a ritual context where I'm at, I'm feeling enactive analogy and I'm doing enactive anagoge. I'm doing serious play and I have the flexibility, the cognitive flexibility. This is how the psychedelics can be immeshed, why psychedelics can improve therapy so much because the psychedelics give you the cognitive flexibility in the flow state and the possibility even of a higher state of consciousness that then empowers this process to get you free from existential entrapment. This is why you give people right psychedelics and you put them through the therapeutic process. And you can get them free from post traumatic stress disorder.
Okay, so now what's gnosis? This is gnosis. Gnosis is to have a set of psychotechnologies that create a ritual context like Jeepform, like martial arts, like therapy that allows us to overcome being existentially stuck, existentially stupefied. And that is being powered by an altered state of consciousness that's induced by chanting, sleep deprivation, psychedelics. And what this does, what gnosis does is it frees me from being existentially trapped. It's this combination, this integration of psychotechnologies that activate and transform perspectival and participatory knowing and give us a sense of a greater reality that we want to live within and thereby liberates us from being existentially trapped and heals us from our fractured suffering, our fragmented agency, our broken world. That's gnosis. So what I want to look at next time is how gnosis was taken up within a movement within the same time period is early Christianity. Thank you very much for your time and attention.
Episode 17 notes
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A philosophical theory or approach which emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development through acts of the will.
A form of a religion, especially Islam or Protestant Christianity, that upholds belief in the strict, literal interpretation of scripture
(Other names: Benedictus de Spinoza)
Spinoza, Baruch (1632–77), Dutch philosopher, of Portuguese-Jewish descent; also called Benedict de Spinoza. Spinoza espoused a pantheistic system, seeing ‘God or nature’ as a single infinite substance, with mind and matter being two incommensurable ways of conceiving the one reality.
A doctrine which identifies God with the universe, or regards the universe as a manifestation of God. Pantheism was popularized in Western culture as a theology and philosophy based on the work of the 17th-century philosopher Baruch Spinoza, in particular, his book Ethics (Buy here). A pantheistic stance was also taken in the 16th century by philosopher and cosmologist Giordano Bruno.
William James (January 11, 1842 – August 26, 1910) was an American philosopher and psychologist, and the first educator to offer a psychology course in the United States. James is considered to be a leading thinker of the late nineteenth century, one of the most influential philosophers of the United States, and the "Father of American psychology"
Author - John Wright(Philosophy)
Article - Transcendence Without Reality
Harry Gordon Frankfurt (born May 29, 1929) is an American philosopher. He is professor emeritus of philosophy at Princeton University, where he taught from 1990 until 2002, and previously taught at Yale University, Rockefeller University, and Ohio State University.
1 - On Bullshit - Book mentioned - Buy here
2 - The Reasons of Love - Book - Buy here
3 - The Importance of What We Care About - Book - Buy here
Carl Gustav Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who founded analytical psychology. Jung's work was influential in the fields of psychiatry, anthropology, archaeology, literature, philosophy, and religious studies. Jung worked as a research scientist at the famous Burghölzli hospital, under Eugen Bleuler
L. A. Paul
Laurie Ann Paul is a professor of philosophy and cognitive science at Yale University. She previously taught at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Arizona. She is best known for her research on the counterfactual analysis of causation and the concept of "transformative experience."
Book - A Transformative Experience - Buy here
A thought experiment considers a hypothesis, theory, or principle for the purpose of thinking through its consequences. Johann Witt-Hansen established that Hans Christian Ørsted was the first to use the German term Gedankenexperiment circa 1812.
Jeepform is a label used for contained, experimental and sometimes controversial roleplaying games in the freeform tradition, as designed by the larpwright group Vi åker jeep. Many jeepform games are documented by manuals, allowing them to be re-run at the convenience of the reader
Gustav Mahler (German: [ˈmaːlɐ]; 7 July 1860 – 18 May 1911) was an Austro-Bohemian Romantic composer, and one of the leading conductors of his generation. As a composer he acted as a bridge between the 19th century Austro-German tradition and the modernism of the early 20th century.
In traditional Chinese culture, qi or ch'i (/ˈtʃiː/ CHEE simplified Chinese: 气; traditional Chinese: 氣; pinyin: qì About this soundqì) is believed to be a vital force forming part of any living entity.
Altered State of Consciousness
Other helpful resources about this episode:
Notes on Bevry
Summary and Transcript on awakeningfromthemeaningcrisis.com