Multiplicity and the Hunter Gatherer Zeitgeist

Discussion in 'Animism' started by Mountain Valley Wolf, Aug 6, 2013.

  1. Mountain Valley Wolf

    Mountain Valley Wolf Senior Member

    Generally speaking, we can separate animistic cultures from religious cultures (as in those which have a historical and cultural basis in an organized religion) by separating the so-called civilized from the indigenous cultures. (In this case, by using the term civilized, I do not wish to imply that it is superior by any means. As a civilized culture it is simply based on institutions and has evolved from planter communities that developed into City States.) Civilized cultures, are based on an understanding of the universe rooted in planter culture ethics such as a group ethic and a concept of duality. Western culture, which today is defining global culture, is particularly dualistic in nature.

    Indigenous (animistic) cultures, on the other hand, are based more heavily on hunter gatherer ethics, which sees the universe as a multiplicity rather than a duality, and there is a stronger tribalistic individualism as opposed to a group ethic. This is true even when the indigenous culture has a long history of planter traditions, even as long as those of the fertile crescent, such as those commonly found in tropical islands.

    This is, of course, a bit of a generalization. For example, the civilized cultures of China and Japan, are largely grounded in animistic belief systems (Taoism and Shintoism respectively), and have maintained a more multiplistic zeitgeist. On the other hand, European and American cultures appear to have a more individualistic ethic, probably rooted in the Germanic and Celtic indigenous cultures, and later, in the case of North America, a hunter-gatherer-like revival of individualism among the pioneer traditions. Though I would also argue that Western individualism, is more of a veiled group ethic based on elitism, and industrial age greed, and consumerism, and therefore still represents a post-planter culture ethic.

    Time and again, in Hip Forums and elsewhere, I have expressed my beliefs that duality is a destructive and divisive force that has played out through man's history. Good and evil; man and woman; in-group, out-group; us and them; black and white; God, Devil----these dualistic concepts have started wars, engendered prejudices, oppressed women and ethnic and religious groups, fueled totalitarian control, and have wreaked social havoc in just about any way you can imagine.

    But I also think that things are changing. I think that there is a gradual rediscovery of the hunter-gatherer multiplistic ethic taking place. Take for example the Deconstructionist Movement, and the Post-Modern attempts to attack and break down binary opposites. The ultimate psychological implications of the modern rise of the feminine is another example. Women's lib may seem like simply a struggle for equal rights and equal pay, but inevitably in the longer term it will have major social implications as masculine forces such as rationalism and objectivism lose ground to the more feminine forces of intuition and subjectivism. Then there is the example of the search for spiritual meaning in the West. It started with renewed interest in Eastern Philosophy, and then grew to include a revival of animistic belief systems. In fact, I see the rise of a multiplistic ethic as a key part of the resolution of the Post-Modern Crisis.

    But the dualistic ethic is so deeply programmed into our way of thinking that we have a hard time seeing the world any other way. The argument goes that you can't have good without evil. You can't have hot without cold. You can't even have up without down. This dualistic argument is true, but it implies that life is nothing but polarized opposites. Yes, there are good forces and bad forces in our physical world, but there are also kind of good, and kind of bad forces, there are forces that are good for some and bad for others, or visa versa, and there are even those that are neither good nor bad.

    An animist understands that there is a multiplicity of forces in the universe. His/her world is not one of opposing opposites, where good must win over evil, but rather a world of multiple forces where the ideal is to have a balance. This is why, for example, the Taoist yin-yang symbol, which we immediately understand as a symbol of opposing forces, is in fact, a symbol of two complementary forces in a continuous dance. It is not just a yin opposing a yang, because in the head of the yang, is an eye of yin, and in the head of the yin, is an eye of yang. The yin-yang symbol, is far more closer to the Native American medicine wheel of 4 colors, than any dualistic understanding we place upon it in the West.

    I parodied Western duality in a post on my Facebook page this evening:

    "Western thought and philosophy, which began to take its earliest shape sometime after the rise of civilization in the early planter cultures, is thoroughly dependent upon duality. It is so strongly programmed into our way of thinking, that we find it difficult to conceive of a world in any other terms.

    But why should we? After all the world is dualistic. You cannot have a West without an East. ...oh, and a North. ...and a South. ...well--an earth below and a sky above. ...oh, and a center too... Wait a minute--that's not a duality..."
  2. Mountain Valley Wolf

    Mountain Valley Wolf Senior Member

    This is of course a play on the 7 sacred directions that are fairly universal among various indigenous cultures around the world. But Western man would have plenty of problems in the Modern World without these 7 sacred directions. A 2-dimensional map would not make sense as a dualistic concept of the universe without the four directions. (In fact, without obvious landmarks that generally align with the four directions, such as roads, highways, towns, etc, you would probably need 360 points of direction, a multiplicity, to really get a bearing). But whether you have 4 points, 8 points, 16 points, or 360 points of direction, they all imply a center. Without a center, they are meaningless. I am not talking about just the center on the compass, though that is one, but also another center: right where you are located.

    For example, imagine two friends in the middle of a vast desert of sand dunes. They are going to meet up at some designated landmark, about a mile or so away, that is level with the sandy ground. One friend is about a mile East of the other, and he knows that this landmark is directly North of him. If he radios his friend and tells him that it is directly North of him so he will head North, the other friend will have to realize that his center point for measuring directions is a mile to the west of his friends and he would therefore need to travel North East. If he didn’t realize this and was to also travel North, he would never meet up with his friend.

    In addition to these points of direction, and the center, there is also an implication of earth and sky, because we do not live within a two-dimensional map, but in a 3-dimensional world. In setting bearings, most of us tend to be on earth, so while it is implied, it is not relevant. But modern man has taken to the skies, and the sky and the earth have become just as critical as the other directions and the center. Pilots that have gotten the direction of the earth and sky confused, and it does happen, have ended up with fatal results. ‘You can’t have an up without a down,’ is a common example of duality, but such a statement would not make sense without a center point.

    The fact is, the world is not dualistic, even if we are programmed to see that every up has a down, it is meaningless without a center—a center that could be on any one of a multiplicity of points. This leaves a multiplicity of other points each being a relative level of either up or down.

    Another good example of this is the philosophy of Hegel. Much of modern philosophy is in one way or another, either affirming or denying the philosophy of Hegel. A key part of his philosophy was his concept of the dialectic. On the surface, we tend to see his dialectic in dualistic terms, as if it is two opposing forces crashing head on into each other, thesis versus antithesis, the resulting impact leaving nothing but a synthesis of the two.

    But let’s examine, for example, his dialectic regarding ‘being.’ On the one side you have ‘being,’ and on the other, ‘nothing.’ Of course, we would conclude, for what is the opposite of being, but nothingness. But this is not how Hegel arrived at nothing. Instead, he reasoned that being implies nothingness, because when you try to conceive of Pure Being, you can only conceive of nothingness. This makes sense from Hegel’s standpoint of an essentialist in that Pure Being is beingness, or essence, without a manifested physical form. In this regard, nothing is not the complete opposite of being that it first appeared to be, or that it would be in a purely materialistic sense. The fact that this is not two radically polarized dualistic opposites becomes even more clear when you consider the synthesis of this dialectic: ‘becoming.’ In other words, it is much like the center between up and down, in that it would be somewhere between being and nothing. But 'becoming' is a present-progressive form of a verb implying action, the action of becoming something. Therefore it implies not only one point between the thesis and antithesis, but many and all points between Nothing (Pure Being) becoming being, or being becoming nothing.

    Consider also that Hegel’s ontology was one of a self-contained circle, self moving in purposive activity, wherein the actuality of the end is in its beginning. It is easy to see this as a self moving circle of being becoming nothing becoming being.

    And yet, this is only one of a whole multiplicity of dialectic thoughts where one thing moves into its contradictory thing leading to a synthesis which leads to a new dialectic thought, a process that Hegel believed eventually lead to perfection—the pure ideal—God. His universe was not a dualistic one of good versus evil, with two opposing forces of God and Devil. Instead, it was a multiplicity of contradictions and opposites, which eventually lead to the all encompassing mystery of the absolute. Each part (or each in this case, each dialectic) is a part of the whole, as demonstrated by his dialectic of the subjective versus the objective. The objective contains the subjective, while the subjective implies the objective. This is just as every crowd of people is made up of individuals—each a separate whole within the greater whole of the crowd. The synthesis of the subjective and the objective, is the absolute. This is no different than the indigenous universe which is made up of a multiplicity of forces, which all together form the absolute: the animating force of the universe, the Great Mystery, the Great Spirit.
  3. BlackBillBlake

    BlackBillBlake resigned HipForums Supporter

    Interersting thread MVW.

    Just to say that there are also cultures that are monistic in their view. Vedantic Hinduism is one such, possibly Buddhism in some aspects too, although I dont know enough about that to be certain.

    Robert Anton Wilson had the idea of "maybe logic". The universe contains a maybe as well as yes and no. I think there is something in this, and it would seem to converge with what youre saying here. Very few things it seems are just black and white.

    I like the seven directions thing. I think thats a kind of basic way to orient oneself. I also think that there is an almost infinite diversity here in this world. Maybe it can all be seen as one thing, but with the vast multiplicity of being as its active or emergent aspect.

    On the subject of duality, I think its a myth. There is always at least a third thing involved. Its more shades of orange than yellow of red quite often.
  4. Mountain Valley Wolf

    Mountain Valley Wolf Senior Member

    Yes there is definitely a parallel with that yes, no, and maybe. And there are many shades of grey and off-white between black and white.

    Hinduism presents an interesting problem. It certainly embraces multiplicity much more than the religions of the West. Yet buried within that multiplicity is a strong duality. on the one side of the duality you have earth--physical--karmic--female. And on the other side you have heaven--spiritual--transcendent--male.

    This duality was clearly part of the overlaying Indo-European belief system (which includes the caste system and other indo-European features). A good example of how this came to be is the early history of tantrism. The Indo-European invaders were actually appalled at the sexual freedom of the Goddess followers of the indigenous Indian people. There is plenty of evidence of how they initially put people to death for the sexual tantric practices. Eventually it was absorbed into the early Hindu belief system and became part and parcel of it------Indo-Europeans have a long history of absorbing aspects of local belief systems, and demonizing other aspects of it----all in the name of political control.

    Buddhism has this same grounding as it is a radical reformation of Hindu beliefs. You are right though---Hinduism is Monistic. In fact----I like to point out that Christianity is essentially just as polytheistic as Hinduism. It is only that Western man defined what is polytheistic and what is a god, etc. If it was the Hindus who were the dominant ones in this manner----I could just imagine the conversation-----those crazy Christians believe in a God, a Jesus, Mother Mary, angels, a Lucifer, and all kinds of characters. Don't they know that all the universe is only Atman?
  5. BlackBillBlake

    BlackBillBlake resigned HipForums Supporter

    Theres no doubt that Hinduism is a very complex thing, with layer accreted upon layer over a long period of time. I said that Vedantic Hinduism is monistic, but actually, within that too are dualistic theories. However monism has been a feature of many schools.

    I think actually that the monistic tendency throws up certain problems. There can be a tendency to say that only the One is real, and all else mere illusion to be transcended.
    In extreme cases, this can lead to an anti world, anti life attitude, similar to that of some Christians.

    My own view is that the One may well exist, but that isnt to say it is the sole reality, as the Vedantist does. The multiplicity of nature and beings, even "supernature", is just as real. Its just a different phase of seeing. I think many indigenous peoples have much the same view under different terms.
  6. MeAgain

    MeAgain Dazed & Confused Lifetime Supporter Super Moderator

    You should read Boomeritis by Ken Wilber.

    As far as Dualism, the minute you begin to talk about One, you have already created Two.

    When discussing the Eastern Philosophies it is very easy to taint them with Western Dualism. There is no Dualism in Taoism, Buddhism, Venadta, etc. when understood in their pure form. But once you start discussing them, all Hell breaks loose.

    And that is why everything is one and enlightenment is already here, it's all real, all One and all Many. Once you institutionalize it in the form of formal Buddhism, Taoism, etc, or any religion or philosophy at all, you hide the innate nature of the All behind walls of study, reflection, opinions, dogma, and so on.........
  7. BlackBillBlake

    BlackBillBlake resigned HipForums Supporter

    Im pretty sure that there is dualism in Vedanta. The philosophy of Madhva, dvaita, being the most extreme case I know of.

    Of course, Madhva may not be "pure" Vedanta, but nonetheless influential.
  8. MeAgain

    MeAgain Dazed & Confused Lifetime Supporter Super Moderator

    Yes, I realize that there are many schools in each discipline, and I know I am presuming to "know" which ones have the "right view" and which do not.
    This is the first time I have read anything on Madhvacharya. From what I read, I am not overly impressed. I must admit I don't understand everything I read in the Wiki, but it sure does sound like dualism, a lot like the popular Christian concept of God, which I find to be a pretty simplistic explanation of reality.
  9. BlackBillBlake

    BlackBillBlake resigned HipForums Supporter

    Well Im no fan of Madhva myself, but he is one of the founders of the six main schools of Vedanta. Regarding the similarities with Christianity, they are certainly there, including a concept of eternal damnation. However, it is a possibility that there were Christian influences on Madhavas thinking, possibly Nestorian.

    I dont want to go into this at legnth here because its a bit off topic, but as far as I am aware, of the six Vedantic schools, only that of Shankara is fully monistic. Again, some say that Shankara was reacting to the spread of Buddhism in India at the time.
    Most of the others are cults of Bhakti or devotion, where they want to keep a distance between the devotee and the divine. Ramakrishna was echoing this tendency when he said "I want to taste sugar not be sugar".

    The only major Indian philosoher (modern]I know of who accepted both the One and the Many as realities was Sri Aurobindo. Sometimes his system is called Integral Advaita (advaita = non dualism].

    All this though seems a far cry from the ethos of the hunter gatherer. It may well be that many of the Indian thinkers after the upanishadic period had backed themselves into something of a corner.

    Without a complex intellectual philosophy, it may be that archaic, pre literate cultures were closer to direct experience. They had no need to fit this in with existing scriptures as did the Hindu sages.
    The earliest Indian texts, the Vedas themselves, seem to give a very different notion of things than later developments in Indian religion. Maybe the original Rishis were closer to the Shaman type figure.

    I probably made a mistake in my earlier post in refering to Indian non dualists as Vedantists. More properly they should be called Advaitins.
  10. Mountain Valley Wolf

    Mountain Valley Wolf Senior Member

    I edited my second post----I needed a little more clarification on what I was saying about Hegel to get my point across----so I added this:

    In other words, it is much like the center between up and down, in that it would be somewhere between being and nothing. But 'becoming' is a present-progressive form of a verb implying action, the action of becoming something. Therefore it implies not only one point between the thesis and antithesis, but many and all points between Nothing (Pure Being) becoming being, or being becoming nothing.
  11. Mountain Valley Wolf

    Mountain Valley Wolf Senior Member

    I meant to respond to you guys yesterday but I ran out of time, then I accidentally deleted what I had wrote.

    Meagain and I have talked about Taoism before----that one is particularly multiplistic, as is Chinese culture, because it evolved from ancient Ural-Altaic shamanism. Buddhism is more multiplistic than Hinduism as it was influenced by Chinese culture, Taoism, and Tibetan shamanism.

    But Eastern philosophy and religion is a bit more difficult to categorize than Western, because it relies more heavily on the mystical experience, which makes it less dualistic and reductionist in many matters than the Western case. The profoundness of the mystical experience does take one beyond duality to both a multiplicity and an Absolute. I also was going to mention about Vedanta and advaita---but you summed it up pretty good BlackBillBlake.

    The profound mystical experience probably accounts for the pure form that you referred to Meagain, and how when you discuss it, all hell breaks loose, as well as your next comment about study, opinion, reflection, dogma, etc.

    The problem is that on top of the mystical experience there is the religion----which is dogmatic (even if they call it dharma), has a definite political motive, and is an institution. Hinduism demonstrates its dualistic nature in the ethical system it creates culturally and politically. There is, for example the dualities between men and women, and lighter skin and darker skin.

    Spiritually there is an appreciation of women, but politically and socially there is not. This has a lot to do with the male dominated belief system that was introduced to India through the Indo-European invasion. The early Indo-Europeans were disgusted with the sexual tantric practices and goddess beliefs of the Dravidian and other indigenous Indians. A lot of people were killed until Hinduism absorbed the tantric beliefs.

    But the one duality that Hinduism and Buddhism have trouble escaping, is that of the physical (karmic) versus the spiritual (transcendent).
  12. BlackBillBlake

    BlackBillBlake resigned HipForums Supporter

    Its interesting that you mention the Indo European or Aryan invasion of India. Invaders of the same proto indo iranian group also eventually made their way into persia, where the religion of Zoroaster was hatched. That is perhaps one of the most dualistic of religions, and may have had influence on Judaism and Christian dualism as they developed since the Jews were once under the persian empire, and at a time when Zoroastrianism was in the ascendency.

    Zoroaster turned the Aryan gods of Hunduism into devils.
    That rings a bell, as its not disimilar to the way the Christian church branded local pagan deities of Europe also as devils. Later on there was a similar process in South and Meso America under the Spanish.
    Actually, in their favour, the persians were quite tolerant of different religions within the empire provided they didnt cause trouble and coughed up the tribute.
    I think this is worth mentioning though because it demonstrates a process away from multiplicity toward something much more stark and dualistic.

    I think with the Chriatians , it was to do with branding the whole of nature as evil, as the old gods were often associated with natural forces.

    Taoism is very interesting, but I only really know of it from Tao Te Ching, Chang Tzu and the Yi Jing. I know very little of its actual practice as a religion. I would agree though that the Taoists seem to avoid strict dualism. And certainly the shamanic influence is there.
  13. Mountain Valley Wolf

    Mountain Valley Wolf Senior Member

    This process that you refer to of assimilating local gods and demonizing others (and demonizing those of the out-group--i.e. the enemy) is what I refer to as the Indo-European legacy---actually I had a more descriptive term for it, but I can't remember it off hand.

    Another interesting aspect of this is that the lower castes of the Indo-European social structure (the farmers and laborers) still maintained there ancestral indigenous traditions (paganism) which were multiplistic. In many cases these traditions went to the top of the caste system (such as in the case of the Germanic tribes). But the higher you moved up the caste system, there was a long tradition of diminishing the power of the Goddess, and a shift to a more dualistic cosmology. Odinn for example, sacrificed himself to himself and recovered of himself---and I believe this tradition existed long before Christ did essentially the same thing. We also find this in the Rig Veda---the oldest Indo-European scripture we have. Was it Vishnu? I forget off-hand----and I am too lazy to break out my Rig Veda right now (actually I am limited in time).

    The higher levels of the caste system---the soldiers, and priestly castes were more dualistic and centered on the masculine-----which was more suitable for warriors, conquest, and manipulation of the people they took over.

    The Persians clearly influenced the Hebraic tribes---as did another group of Indo-Europeans, the Hittites. The Hittites were considered the scholars and record keepers of the Ancient Middle East as they maintained large libraries and kept records for many of the cultural groups around them.

    However there was a spiritual revolution that happened all around the globe, even in various indigenous communities as well, around a millenia or two or four before Christ. It was more pronounced in planter cultures, because their shift towards a group ethic represented a natural zeitgeist that was more dualistic in nature (again, it began with an understanding of the world in an in-group out-group manner). It came after the Goddess rose to prominence in the planter cultures (an obvious event as the feminine is so deeply connected to fertility). The rise of the Goddess already represented a philosophical break from a multiplicity----though not necessarily a radical break, because the feminine is still deeply connected to the subconscious, and non-rational aspects of the human psyche----such as intuition, and other non-rational emotions and perceptions.

    But this was followed (in a Hegellian dialectic manner) by a rise of the masculine. And this rise came about like a revolution (the spiritual revolution I am referring to). The rise of the masculine resulted in a rise of rationalism and objectivism, and presented a natural and almost inevitable path to duality. This new zeitgeist provided the vehicle for man to evolve his social institutions, science, technology, and all the other things that he has accomplished, but at a terrible cost of alienation from his sub-conscious and his self. The Modern Age is the time when that payment is due, so to speak. It is the time when we have reached the highest level of objectivism and rationality, and life has become meaningless----masked over by a veil of consumerism.

    This process of assimilating gods and demonizing others is a political means of manipulation. The Spanish were the last ones to do it so blatantly. It backfired somewhat in Mexico, when the Mayan priests gained too much power in the Catholic church. If you were to visit small villages in the Mayan areas of Mexico, you would still find that Catholicism is very different there and includes a strong blending of Mayan tradition. When the Spanish reached the Philippines they did not want to make the same mistake so they incorporated only a few local traditions----the rice god as the baby Jesus, Maria Makiling (the Goddess of the Mountains, forests, and Nature) as Mother Mary----and did there best to quash everything else. Because of this, the Filipinos have no connection to their ancestors and this has given them a dysfunctional culture and a fair amount of mental illness.

    Christianity, and the Western traditions, do take man out of nature, and places him as lord over it. This was, as it developed among the Hebraic tribes, part of that rise of the rationalistic objectivism and the beginning of the process of alienation from the subconscious. Under the Romans this was, at first a way of solidifying control over its own citizens, who previously had a whole assortment of Gods, Goddesses, and traditions. Mother Mary was the surrogate Goddess to appeal to the need for a Goddess.

    Hinduism too, is a very powerful political institution. If an alien God appears---it is simply absorbed into the local pantheon. The ancient Indo-European caste system has survived strong and well-----because why would one fight and rebel, when it only creates negative karma. If you are good and proper, you will die and move onto the next caste system. Buddhism carried this same concept into China, Japan, and elsewhere, and were very efficient at keeping the citizens of these countries well behaved and dutiful to the State. It is the same thing with the repression of women.
  14. BlackBillBlake

    BlackBillBlake resigned HipForums Supporter

    I would pretty much agree with most of that. The rise of the masculine sky god cultures displacing the earth or luna goddess cultures.
    Im sure that came as a result of settled agriculture, the life of agricultural production being very different from that of the nomadic hunter gatherer.

    As you say the results today of all of what has been built up over the last ten thousand years or so are in many ways negative for the human spirit. Detached from our sub conscious and our deeper selves, also living lives which are extremely artificial, and detached and detuned from nature.

    On the subject of Christ and his death and resurrection, it seems to me that on some level, this is actually a kind of recapitulation of certain motifs found in shamanism from many cultures. There is the idea that the shaman is taken away by the spirits and dismembered while he somehow watches. The spirits then put him back together in an altered form, sometimes with crystals inside, and henceforth he has the power to do his shamanizing. It is common to practitioners from Asia to Australia.
    This is all detailed in Mercea Eliades book "Shamanism Archaic Techniques of Ecstacy", which you may be familiar with.
    There are also some shamans who climb up poles or trees, and theres another pre figuration, at least to my mind.

    However, I am not very much into Christianity.

    If there is a dialectic in history, I think the only swing that could help us now is one towards something much deeper than all these religions of the last couple of millenia, and more...lets say holistic than the mindset of modern science and rationalism. We have been through an historical process since the end of the last ice age. We cant go back and be hunter gatherers, so somehow we have to find a way to get back to the connectedness they had in the context of this modern world.
  15. Mountain Valley Wolf

    Mountain Valley Wolf Senior Member

    You've touched upon my own philosophy----however I feel that science does play a part. As a culture, we have lost our unifying myth (or as I prefer, our unifying truth---because that unifying belief----the metaverse----is accepted culture wide as an undeniable truth). Cultures do not appear to last too long once they lose their unifying truth---it gives meaning to the traditions, beliefs, mores, and existential understanding of that culture. As a culture loses its Unifying Truth, it becomes more rational and objectivistic. Nietzsche explained it best with his description of Dionysian and Apollonian dynamics at work within a culture. The Dionysian dynamics are energetic, giving into natural urges, ecstatic, explosive, animal nature, uncontrolled growth... The Apollonian dynamic is repressive, retardant, oppressive, managerial, manipulative, controlling... Nietzsche saw both forces at work within a culture, but the Dionysian tends to lead in the early growth phase, and the Apollonian tends to rule during the latter days of that culture. The Apollonian forces are certainly at work in Western Modern culture right now.

    Our Unifying Truth was the church for many centuries. After the enlightenment, it began to give way to science as the new Unifying Truth. But the 20th Century--two World Wars, the Atomic Age, pollution, communism, etc., etc.--showed us that science was not the answer. In short, we had lost our Unifying Truth. This is the Post-Modern Crisis. The New Age movement is, more than anything else, an attempt to find meaning and value, i.e. a new Unifying Truth.

    But there are several key problems. Western culture, or more correctly, Modern Culture, is way too international, and therefore diverse, to accept a traditional Unifying Truth. Second, After the Enlightenment, and Modernism, we can no longer accept religion as a Unifying Truth. This is why New Age is little more than a parody of the traditions it seeks---it pulls traditions and beliefs, willy nilly, out of various cultures, stripping them of their cultural context and combining them with other similarly stripped global traditions. The result is way too often overly plastic, not too mention, too easily exploitable by consumerism. In the end, the biggest problem of New Age, is that we see these beliefs and traditions through the eyes of the Post-Enlightenment Modern World---and they are thus stripped of their essence----or to be more exact, they are lacking a natural spiritual belief enforced by a deep connection to the subconscious.

    None of these New Age traditions can be accepted by Modern Culture as a whole. Nor can Christianity be accepted as a whole, nor Islam, nor indigenous traditions, nor even atheism. One could argue that each of these traditions could exist as a sort of eclectic Unifying Truth, but the growing nihilism that defines Modern Culture is proof that there is no cohesion, and therefore, no ‘unifying’ truth.

    So how do we discover a new Unifying Truth? If society does collapse, and the survivors are forced to return to a Hunter-gatherer lifestyle that is one way----and mankind would have gone full circle. On the other hand, there are things happening within our culture that suggest that we may be coming full circle but in a more positive sense. I feel we are seeing a return to multiplicity, and a reconnection with our subconscious, a renewed spiritual understanding of the universe but in a non-religious and non-reductionist (or benign-reductionist) manner. This may all occur over a long-term period, but the seeds of change are certainly there.

    As for the Unifying Truth itself, if it is impossible for the Modern World to move backwards, pass through the enlightenment, and return to a religion as the Unifying Truth, then it is up to science to rediscover that Unifying Truth. In this case, science does not become the unifying truth, but rather it provides the understanding of that unifying truth, and a proof (or at least a theoretical model) of its existence---mind, consciousness, spirit----whatever you are comfortable calling it.

    This may sound outlandish---but quantum physics, for example, is certainly on the edge of facing a revolution of Idealism. At MIT, there are scientists who have done extensive reproducible research implanting intention into electronic oscillators to change the results of various biological and electrochemical processes. Then again, there is already extensive evidence of such things that science has yet to come to terms with (for example the research of Dr Stanislav Grof, or that of Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, or the implications of the Double Split Experiment).

    This, of course, would equate to another Copernican Revolution. But for this revolution to avoid the dangerous reductionist values of the past, it would have to take place in a culture where the dualistic zeitgeist has broken down, and perhaps an over-riding nihilism enables it to be what it is—a value-free, nonjudgmental dimension of the universe.

    That book of Mercea Eliades, is a classic. I didn’t come upon it until the late 90’s, but it very quickly made a lot of sense of some very weird things I had experienced in the Philippines, and elsewhere. More than any other book, that one helped me find my own spiritual home.

    You are right about the Christ story. And the motif of the tree, is universal----the world tree/world mountain/tree of life/world cave----it is the axis mundi, the celestial axis. The cross is also just that. The Christ story is the age old retelling of the death and rebirth of the shaman—a story that goes back at least to the Paleolithic. However, it has too many Indo-European motifs mixed within it to make sense as wholly originating in the Middle East. And all religious stories and events are built upon previous precedents, and despite the strong masculine focus of the Hebraic and other Middle Eastern cultures of the time, there is no precedent in the Middle East for the male God to be reborn without the grace of the Goddess as there is in Indo-European traditions.
  16. I know that in the factory, everyone sort of identified by what part your machine made. If you had to cut you had to be precise or you'd have to correct or throw it away, or get piled up . An auto machine you just had to check and make sure the part looked right, the machine did all the work. They called automachines lego land lol
  17. BlackBillBlake

    BlackBillBlake resigned HipForums Supporter


    Again I find little to disagree with in your post. Im a bit pushed for time right now but just one or two quick points.
    I agree that science has some role to play. One problem with the notion of a collapse leading back to hunter gatherer status nowadays is that we have created massive amounts of neuclear waste which wont be safe for tens of thousands of years, and which has the potential to wipe out both humans and animals. So somehow we will have to look after that, or find ways to get rid of it.
    Also in some areas of science there seems to be movement away from the dualistic mentality, and from absolute materialism. I am quite interested for example in the work of Rupert Sheldrake, whom you mention. Quantum pyhsics is also interesting, but Im no mathematician, so I only have a limited understanding of that. Stan Groffs research, and his notion of transpersonal psychology is another indicator that not all is lost. There are also other scientists and researchers doing good work.
    There are also people such as Daniel pinchbeck, Graham Hancock and others seeking to draw attention to the shamanic traditions of sacred plants such as ayhuasca.

    My feeling is that the historical processes which have brought us from early agriculture to todays world must have some meaning and significance. Maybe a new paradigm will come in science.

    Also agree that the new age movement is not likely to do the trick.

    One other thing that I think about in the context of all this. It seems that as humans settled first into farming and later into industrial and commercial societies, the trend has been toward ever more specialization of roles. Tribal peole tend generally to be multi skilled, and basically to be able to everything their culture does.
    If we go back even to the rennaisance, the birth of modern society, we still find the "rennaisance man", someone with a handle on a very wide range of knowledge and so on. Today thats just not feasible because of the complexity of all we have developed. Maybe the closest we can come to it today is through computers, which give us now an unparalleled acess to knowledge on one hand, and through our own direct experiences with the spiritual, magical or whatever term you prefer realms of consciousness.
    How we can find grounding for that as per hunter gatherer cultures is another question.

    Ill be away from computers from now until monday, but look forward to catching up with this then.
  18. MeAgain

    MeAgain Dazed & Confused Lifetime Supporter Super Moderator

    I'm not quite sure what you are saying here.
    So you are defining one type of culture as dualistic and all others as multiple, in regards to how they view reality.
    This in itself would be a dualistic view as to cultural natures. If I understand you correctly.

    Then you seem to imply that one world view is better than the other.
    And then you seem to posit that returning to a multiple view of the universe is better and we are, or need to be, returning to a view such as is held by tribalistic cultures.
    So are you implying that we should hold a multiple view of the universe instead of a dualistic, or unified view; or are you just reciting the historic nature and development of world views?
  19. Mountain Valley Wolf

    Mountain Valley Wolf Senior Member

    I am saying that one is good and the other is bad, and I am not being dualistic... I am not dual... ...ummmm... that there are only two... ummm...

    (I'm joking).

    I am saying that Western, or Modern culture, and generally most civilized cultures, view the world in dualistic terms, but that a dualistic view of reality is not realistic. Most indigenous cultures tend to view the world in a multiplicity. Yes, that is a dualistic concept of culture. One problem is that even Monistic cultures tend to break down to a dualistic cosmology. Cultural traditions are based on a long history of social, religious, and spiritual development. Therefore it is difficult to speak of even an atheist culture, or any other culture as anything other than dualistic or multiplistic (perhaps Monistic is a third possibility to an extent). (And as I pointed out, this is a generalization, because Chinese culture for example, while largely civilized, tends towards a multiplicity rather than a duality).

    But if a dualistic culture is simply categorizing, generalizing and simplifying, and polarizing a multiplistic reality into a duality, then you simply have multiplistic cultures that have a more realistic understanding of reality than those who do not see it that way.

    In any event, as much as this is a dualistic argument, it is not one of two polar opposites wherein one cancels out the other. There are two polar opposites within a multiplicity---to be more exact, there are many polar opposites within a multiplicity, but there are also those points in between. For example, in a most simplistic manner, a compass is simply two perpendicular lines of polar opposites, North - South, and East - West. But in truth, there are 360 points of direction, and a center point on a compass.

    Yes, I do suggest that one is better than the other--a dualistic interpretation. But again we are not speaking of opposites, or two opposing forces struggling to dominate. A multiplicity has inherent within it dualities, just as the compass does. Dualistic value judgments help make sense out of life. However it becomes a problem when such duality becomes more than a way of categorizing, and thereby turns into a reductionist argument denying multiplicity.

    Also I would like to clarify that a multiplistic view of the universe does not deny a monistic view of the universe. All of the universe can be, in the absolute sense, one spiritual essence. In the Lakota cosmology, for example, the universe was created when it split apart---from the single great unity, and the two became four, and the four became eight, and so forth. To the Lakota, the Great Spirit, or Great Mystery, is manifested as a multiplicity of forces. But all of creation, in the sense of Mitakuye Oyasin (meaning, All my relatives), is all related, and the Great Mystery is everywhere within that.

    Finally I do posit that we are coming full circle, and that we are returning to a multiplistic understanding of reality. And, yes, I do suggest that that is a needed philosophical change before man destroys himself---because, dualistic reductionism is divisive, destructive, discriminatory, and overly judgmental. It feeds both our inflated ego-shadow complex, and our shadow projection, whether it is the individual psyche, or the collective unconscious of our subcultures (including racial groups), cultures, or even our nations.

    This does not mean that we are becoming tribal in nature. Technology may very well carry us to a whole new social structure that we have yet to label. But, I do see a return of a multiplistic, individualistic, and non-polarized-gender zeitgeist that we will share with our distant hunter-gatherer ancestors.

    If we do not take this path, then I fear that our representative tool of the future will be a pointed stick, rather than a quantum computer.
  20. Mountain Valley Wolf

    Mountain Valley Wolf Senior Member

    Let me clarify, I think we are headed down one of several paths. On the one hand, in the worst case scenario, our pollution (including nuclear waste), loss of our resources, disease, and our violence and greed towards each other will ultimately lead to our destruction. After such a collapse, there will be few survivors, and they will be forced to return to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to survive. Our pollution, if bad enough, may even eventually kill off all of these last humans.

    On the other hand, we may improve our lot, and pass into our next level of development as human beings. As I wrote in the previous post in response to Meagain, I suggest that this would happen with a return of values that were held by Hunter-Gatherers. In this latter case, we do not return to hunter-gathering, we just return to some of their values---a multiplistic cosmology, a concept of individuality that is not dependent on greed and competition, and an understanding that both genders are part of a whole, rather than two opposing forces, or one of dominance and submission. I see forces in society that suggest this is happening. I feel that history has brought us to this point for a purpose---and that history has always had an unfolding purpose---in other words, I agree to an extent with Hegel's historicism. I am optimistic that this is positive path is the one we will take, though I imagine it would take many years to fully unfold as I see it.

    Once again, I am not suggesting that we return to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle (except in the worst case scenario of societal collapse). As I suggested in my previous post, technology may create a new social structure of society that we even have yet to understand and know.

    A lot of Post-Modern theorists tend to see Post-Modernism as the next state of mankind, or the next state that we have already entered into. I see post-Modernism as a transition period, and therefore speak of the Post-Modern crisis, as opposed to Post-Modernism.

    What comes next after Post-Modernism---I don't know. I have been struggling to come up with a label or category of my own philosophy.

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