Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Primal Relationships

Three primal human relationships form the basis of all others in life: maternal, paternal, and fraternal/sororal. Of the three, the strongest is the maternal, or mother-child, relationship, founded as it is upon the 9 month prenatal period and the closeness of mother and child during infancy.

The mother’s first physical encounter with her proto-child occurs at conception, and it ensues at the acceptance of the female egg of the father’s sperm. Hence, the mother’s experience is akin to an ingestion, as spiritual and revelatory as the inner consciousness' acceptance of an outside.

The fraternal/sororal affiliation represents digestion. It is the intermingling of similars within the contextual stomach of the of the world.

The father, obviously, is an excreter, ridding himself of what he doesn’t need, but which is so essential to himself, that it fertilizes its leaving ground. The mother, consequently, is seen as both saint and whore, heaven and unclean sewer, whereas the father is seen as both source and polluter.

Socialism and the building of a community can not be accomplished unless a spirit of fraternity underlies it. The fraternity espoused by a fascist state, or other form of racial supremacism or nationalistic chauvinism, is an obvious counterfeit, intended to fool the young and the stupid. It relies upon a hatred and villification of the outsider, and is therefore a hypocritical negation of the fraternity upon which it supposedly is based. It is an incestuous version of community, which depends upon reviling the outsider in order to define itself. When no obvious outsiders are present to provide the contrast necessary to this principle of organization, the fascist state will prioritize those that it might normally consider insiders on the basis of their proximity to the center or periphery, classifying them as “relative” insiders or outsiders. Fascism is essentially a doctrinal system of inhuman social purification which idealizes the characteristics of a self-proclaimed elite.

In terms of power and authority, the most powerful dictators of the Twentieth Century - Stalin, Hitler, and Mao – were more like pharaohs or god-kings than mere political bosses. Each commanded almost religious levels of devotion from his band of followers.

(c) Copyright 2009 by A. Rogolsky

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Laws and Hierarchies

Laws and social orders, which are fundamentally structures based on a group of laws, are created with the intent of fostering a more perfect ordering of society than that which came before. This ordering is intended as the institutional manifestation of a vision of justice and harmony, applicable to those considered integral members of society, and the relationships between them. Essential to the construction of any social order is a belief in progress toward ultimate perfectibility, qualified by an acknowledgement that compromises must be made so as to cope with an imperfect, mundane present. The replacement of an old order by a new and greater one represents a recognition by society that an expansion of awareness has occurred, based upon, but also influencing, the progress of human knowledge of what we currently term “the material world.” Such expansion invariably extends legitimacy of societal membership to individuals and relationships previously considered of lesser value, or beneath consideration. Of course, such a linking of social change with technological progress might be termed “materialistic,” but it is rather more accurate to state that such a conception is probably primitive and coarse in comparison to the revisions and re-definitions which will be made in a more enlightened future. All philosophical speculations, including those you are now reading, are to some extent products of the times which bore them, and share in the limitations of current circumstances. Furthermore, the character of the social order qualifies the totality of definition, modifying all meaning in relation to the cosmology of its world view.

The institution of any law or social order creates a hierarchy of seven types of individuals, dependent upon how each relates to the law.

1- “Priests” of the Law – those who promote, define, and enforce the law, and benefit excessively from doing so;
2- Successful Lawbreakers – those who break the law, and escape the consequences doing so;
3- Law Abiders – those who abide by the law, and suffer no consequences from doing so;
4- Punished Lawbreakers – those who break the law, and are punished for doing so;
5- the Wrongly Punished – those who abide by the law, but are punished for breaking it anyway; 6- Excessively Punished Lawbreakers – those who break the law, and are excessively punished for doing so;
7- “Sacrificial Lambs”- those who uphold the spirit of the law, but are excessively punished for breaking it anyway.

It is interesting to note that only two of the seven above categories, the Law Abiders and the Punished Lawbreakers (categories 3 and 4), represent the intended categories of individuals “created” by a given law. Five of the seven categories imply the unjust suffering of either those unjustly or excessively punished, or, in the cases of the excessively rewarded or the unpunished lawbreakers, society as a whole. Hence, the institution of any law, or social order, represents a sacrifice by those who are unjustly victimized by it, including, to some extent, society as a whole.

The hierarchy of these groups can be represented as a diagram in the form of an upright triangle intersected by an inverted triangle, like a Star of David. The three law affirming categories are connected by a line running from the top apex of the upright triangle (the #1 group), through the center of the diagram (the # 3 group) to the bottom apex of the inverted triangle (the # 7 group). This line of law abiders I term the “Aaron’s Rod,” because it connects the priestly elite with the other believers in the law.

The Priestly group is divided into two groups: the theoretical preachers of the Law (at the apex of the upper triangle) and its practical promoters (at the base of the upper triangle). The theorists are the creators of the law, and as such, transcend it. This is not to say that they violate the law, but that, since they define it, the law “abides” by them. The pragmatists are in the somewhat paradoxical position of having to cope with the reality that some degree of lawbreaking will always exist, and that in order to maintain the law, compromises will have to be made with some lawbreakers in order to punish greater ones.

The Law Abiders (group #3) stand at the center of the structure, as they represent the very people for whom the law is ostensibly made, and the group which the institution is ostensibly intended to expand. They are the ideological fulcrum and core which upholds the order, and their obedience to it is essential to its survival.

The Sacrificial Lambs (group #7) represent the most tragic, dynamic, and paradoxical of the seven groups. Like the Excessively Punished Lawbreakers, they are the recipients of exemplary punishment, yet they uphold the spirit of the law at least as much as the Priests. Like the Priests, this group also “transcends” the law, but it does so not as its creator, but from the standpoint of those who are unjustly victimized by its institutional form, and who rail against it as prophets. In effect, they uphold the spirit of the law by opposing the unjust aspects of its institutional manifestation, and they are, in turn, grossly victimized by the vested interests that those unjust aspects represent. The examples of such matyred figures direct attention toward the absurdity and irrelevance of the fomal law or order, by personifying the contradiction between the spirit of the law- the original intent which motivated its creation- and its institutional manifestation.

(c) Copyright 2009 by A. Rogolsky

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Centrality of Unified Being

The Unity of Being, the ultimate divine state, transcends time and space, in that such a consciousness may exist within any or all states of existence, regardless of the limitations which apply to the lower realms. It still faces Nonbeing, or Neverness, the abyss of incomprehensible nothingness which it is not. In a sense, the process of developing awareness comes full circle, in that just as those within the lower realms confront and struggle with an unknown which is outside of themselves, and attempt to widen their circles of self-definition and influence, Ultimate Being, while infinite in reference to itself, can not know what it is not and never will be. The states of utter peace and bliss termed “Satori” by Hindus, “Nirvana” by Buddhists, and symbolized by the Sabbath Bride of Judaism, describe the utter peace and bliss of Ultimate Being in its acceptance of non-existence and inits acceptance of the implications of non-existence. These implications include (paradoxically) both acceptance of the possibilities of Ultimate Being’s own annihilation and transformation into what it is not, and acceptance of the subrealms of Being in which it does not accept non-existence. Ultimate Being’s acceptance of its own lower subrealms sustains their existence, but its existence within these subrealms does not limit its potential to flow between them, although the progress of awareness between the subrealms would seem to be governed by an evolutionary gradualism.

Since Ultimate Being transcends Time, and its relationship to the subrealms, which appear to be more or less bound by it, is timeless, beings existing within the subrealms will have dual orientations corresponding to the temporarily dominant circumstances of their existence- both governed by time and fear, and defined by the immanence of the eternal, essential self, Ultimate Being. From the practical perspective of the limited, fear-dominated self, there is the necessity for attachment to a methodology or ideology which is to some degree based upon parochial materialistic considerations. The perspective of Ultimate Being, however, is one of bemused philosophical anarchism, which observes each attempt at establishing an order as merely the construction of a temporary artifice, as ephemeral as a bubble, which rises to the surface and then bursts. It views the the various stages of evolution, whether individual, social, or universal, as nothing more than a dance at a costume ball. Is there a nexus between Ultimate Being and the mundanity in which we find ourselves? Does Ultimate Being, or, for that matter, any of the higher levels of being than the current human one, ever communicate with those facing the desperation of the present? Prayers often go unanswered.

(c) Copyright 2009 by A. Rogolsky

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Wheel of Rebirth and Human Progress

Obviously, a human can only speculate about the realms beyond Humanity, because they are beyond his comprehension. Extending the Buddhist Wheel of Rebirth analogy, three states remain: the Demigod or Titan Realm, the Heaven of the Gods, and Nirvana, or Enlightenment. In a sense, the Demigod and Godly Realms may simply extend the progress begun in the Human Realms; however, it is impossible to imagine the quality of existence once certain aims are achieved.

A reasonable approach to describing future realms might be to view the historical trends of progress in the sciences, social organization, the arts, and ethics, and then to consider the probable implications of a continuation of these trends. Obviously it is impossible for humans to comprehend the magnitude of improvements which will be achieved by our descendants. However, by projecting such trends into the future, we may catch a glimpse of the superhuman future which awaits the collective “us,” while coming to identify our individual selves as true progenitors and citizens of a community which may not exist until centuries after we have died, yet which will redeem and reclaim all from suffering as fulfilment of its raison d’etre.

The most impressive quantum leaps which will transform humanity into something beyond its current state will occur in the fields of medicine and genetics. All diseases and afflictions, including the condition we have become accustomed to calling “old age,” will be cured. Humans will be “re-made” – enhanced so that individuals are stronger, more intelligent, more creative, and more capable of pleasure. Eventually, physical immortality will be an option for those who desire it.

Comparable advances will occur in other fields as well. We will vanquish the scarcity of natural resources and energy, rendering economics virtually irrelevant. Knowledge of the mind, time, and thanatology shall be expanded to a degree which will make our current conceptions regarding psychology, physics, and religion seem like primitive, pseudoscientific forerunners, just as alchemy was to chemistry. Whether the transformation of humans into superior beings- termed “titans,” “superhumans,” or “demigods” - occurs gradually or as the result of a specific advance is unclear and, for the present, unimportant matter of speculation. The advances which breach the divide between the superhuman and Godly realms will be of vastly greater import, though they will be considerably less comprehensible to current humans, and will involve the capacity of individuals to change form and travel between times and dimensions. Separateness, the inability to fully transcend one’s own individuality and sense of self, and to be more than one self at an instant, remains the fulfillment of the final unified state, in which Divinity knows itself, and accepts that which it is not.

(c) Copyright 2009 by A. Rogolsky

Monday, November 30, 2009

Compassion and Evolution

Compassion is a mysterious emotion, the development of which defines the human realm. Paradoxically, this development is based on both a visceral identification with one’s experience, existing prior to one’s separation of self from other, and its more refined manifestation in the province of the intellect- the evolution of a faith based on an unprovable but nevertheless persistent idea that the pursuit of one’s material self-interest, or even the interests of those close to one, will not suffice in the attempt to confront the wretchedness of one’s condition. The first element is, of course, a latent potential common to all experience; the second development, however, characterizes the human realm in its gradual, if uneven, progress toward ever-widening considerations of connectedness and community. Universalism, the idea that certain truths apply to all of existence and that no entity is irrelevant, is the logical extension of this development. Human awareness presents its inheritors with a unique challenge and opportunity: to embrace the sentient Universe as a single living being, and consciously confront the physical deficiencies of material existence – bodily pain, disease, senescence, mortality, temporality, the limits of physical transformability, and separateness. To a degree without precedent in any of the earlier states of being, the Human Realm, both in its microcosmic form as a individual striving for greater self-actualization and in its more general form as a species defined by history and culture, stands at the threshold of taking control over its own evolution and radically accelerating the progress of consciousness towards divinity.

(c) Copyright 2009 by A. Rogolsky

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Minimization of Pain

The refinement of the process of minimizing pain results in the realization of pleasure, and the consequent pursuit of pleasure. Pleasure is an experience both of relief - the process of moving toward lesser pain - and also of the anticipation of further lessening of pain. Such activity, the most basic maximization of the individual’s physically selfish interests, characterizes the Animal realm-stage. Such motivation does not, however, preclude the cooperative behavior in which some species engage, as such behavior results from instincts pre-selected by the process of genetic evolution rather than any internal evolution of thought. The attainment of a “pleasure-maximum” ironically leads to an awareness of its limitations. The maximum level of pleasure that the animal-self may attain is limited to the individual’s potential for physical pleasure (in terms of degree and frequency). Also, the sense of one’s own mortality, implied by the knowledge that others die, results in the suspicion that the current pursuit and potential attainment of physical pleasure may be ephemeral. This dissonant coupling of physical satiation with a less defined, though ever-present, feeling that the self is insufficient unto itself exists in higher animals, at the border between the animal and human realms. It is a flickering recognition that beings other than one’s self have existential significance, and that there is a world outside of one’s physical self, to which one is connected, in an intimate and perpetual, albeit unknown manner. It is natural to assume that the animal self might experience the first semblances of such notions in the form of dreams; for sleep, the decceleration of physical activity and period in which the resting mind makes play of thought, occurs when the day’s overriding demands for safety, food, and sex have been satisfied to the degree that circumstances allowed. More evolved animals take greater care of their young than the more primitive forms, and some, especially those which congregate in groups, such as herds and packs, evince feelings of a sort of group, or species, sympathy, which may be likened to a primitive form of compassion. Whether this is merely a Darwinistically selected instinct, by which those of like genes favor one another, or a more deliberate and conscious form of cooperative reciprocity, enhancing the coherence and survival of the group, it represents a significant practical step beyond the preservation and promotion of the individual self.

(c) Copyright 2009 by A. Rogolsky

The Minimization of Pain

The refinement of the process of minimizing pain results in the realization of pleasure, and the consequent pursuit of pleasure. Pleasure is an experience both of relief - the process of moving toward lesser pain - and also of the anticipation of further lessening of pain. Such activity, the most basic maximization of the individual’s physically selfish interests, characterizes the Animal realm-stage. Such motivation does not, however, preclude the cooperative behavior in which some species engage, as such behavior results from instincts pre-selected by the process of genetic evolution rather than any internal evolution of thought. The attainment of a “pleasure-maximum” ironically leads to an awareness of its limitations. The maximum level of pleasure that the animal-self may attain is limited to the individual’s potential for physical pleasure (in terms of degree and frequency). Also, the sense of one’s own mortality, implied by the knowledge that others die, results in the suspicion that the current pursuit and potential attainment of physical pleasure may be ephemeral. This dissonant coupling of physical satiation with a less defined, though ever-present, feeling that the self is insufficient unto itself exists in higher animals, at the border between the animal and human realms. It is a flickering recognition that beings other than one’s self have existential significance, and that there is a world outside of one’s physical self, to which one is connected, in an intimate and perpetual, albeit unknown manner. It is natural to assume that the animal self might experience the first semblances of such notions in the form of dreams; for sleep, the decceleration of physical activity and period in which the resting mind makes play of thought, occurs when the day’s overriding demands for safety, food, and sex have been satisfied to the degree that circumstances allowed. More evolved animals take greater care of their young than the more primitive forms, and some, especially those which congregate in groups, such as herds and packs, evince feelings of a sort of group, or species, sympathy, which may be likened to a primitive form of compassion. Whether this is merely a Darwinistically selected instinct, by which those of like genes favor one another, or a more deliberate and conscious form of cooperative reciprocity, enhancing the coherence and survival of the group, it represents a significant practical step beyond the preservation and promotion of the individual self.

(c) Copyright 2009 by A. Rogolsky

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Relativization of Pain

The first stage of existence is that of Pain, symbolized by the Hell Realm. Agonizing as it is, this stage is, in fact, a positive progression from the Non-Existent and proto-existent state which came before it. Pain is an inversion – a violent and uncontrolled implosion of the incoherent wonder that was felt without the awareness that the feeler exists, a forceful realization of the discrete and separate existence of an “inside self” – the individual awareness being born amidst an alien “outside” of other, foreign and alien, entities impressed upon its awareness.

Inevitably, experience of pain leads to a more complex awareness of it, and the crucial lesson that there may be means of avoiding greater pain in favor of lesser pain. This realization constitutes the basis of the realm-stage of the Pretas, or Hungry Ghosts. Tibetan paintings of the Pretas portray them as starving beings with necks that are so thin that they cannot digest very much of the food, which nevertheless sustains them. Like the denizens of Hell, the Hungry Ghosts still exist within a realm of pain, but it is a hierarchical realm in which each desperately strives to lessen the agony.

(c) Copyright 2009 by A. Rogolsky

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Symbology of Tibetan Buddhist Wheel of Maya

The stages encountered during the internally directed evolution of consciousness, both of the individual on the microcosmic level, and of society or even the Universe as a whole, on the macro- level, is symbolized by the realms portrayed in the Tibetan Buddhist Wheel of Illusion (Maya) or Rebirth. The ultimate goal is to transcend the cycle of Time and Ignorance, and arrive at the still, calm center, Enlightenment. Within the traditional version of the Wheel, however, the soul revolves around and around between the different realms for millions upon millions of rebirths, although the guide toward Enlightenment (Nirvana), symbolized by the Buddha, appears within each realm, and offers opportunity for attainment at any point in the cycle. Hence, the traditional ordering of cycle’s realms reflects the notion of a nearly perpetual repetition of cycle by the journeying soul, and proceeds as follows through the realms of: the Gods (or Heaven), Titans or Demigods, “Pretas” (or Hungry Ghosts), Hell, Animals, Humans, and then Gods again. A simplification of the cycle is also portrayed within many Tibetan paintings of the Wheel, in which a black pig (representing Ignorance or Fear), is chased by a Snake (representing Anger), chased by a cock (representing Greed or Desire), who is in turn chased by the original Black Pig. Obviously, Ignorance is viewed as the quality which is furthest from Enlightenment, and is the basis for all delusions.

The traditional ordering of the realms is somewhat problematic in that it makes no distinctions of value between the various realms. Obviously, it is more pleasant for a soul to exist in the Heavenly Realm than to suffer in Hell; however, in traditional depictions of the Wheel, all of the realms are equally distant from the Center (Nirvana), and the Buddha appears in each, offering the possibility of attainment. In fact, it is a tenet of Mahayana Buddhism that the Human Realm offers the greatest opportunity for attainment, although the most convincing explanation for this belief is one of anthropocentrism - that it is created by and for human adherents.

That the Buddha appears in each of the the realms, offering different means (suited to the denizens of each) of attaining immediate enlightenment is meaningful both in the sense that, under any circumstance, a direction toward greater spiritual evolution is possible, and also in that, though a being may be situated at a particular stage in the process, he may at any time connect to an essential self which transcends it all. An internally directed evolution, however, may not wholely rely upon a system which, though valid on an ultimate level, does not offer a sufficient practical description of the stages by which on may recognize progress, the means toward its continuation, and some notion of how future, higher levels of awareness should appear.

Starting with the traditional assumption that all of the realms contain delusion, we may consider two modifications of tradition: that some realms are more proximate to Enlightenment than others, indicating that a progressive evolution is possible, and that, generally, those “realm-stages” progress from those portrayed most negatively (as being the most painful) to those that are more pleasant, and onward, to final Enlightenment. We may envision these realm-stages as a sort of “onion” – a sphere of concentric layers, in which the soul moves ever-inward towards the center.

Outside of the sphere, before even the first stage commences, we encounter the “Neverness,” an abyss of utter ignorance, incomprehension, non-existence - Nothingness. It cannot be said to exist, so terming it an “abyss” is actually meaningless, though perhaps a better approximation than calling it a region, or realm. Approaching the “border” between Nonbeing and Being there lies an incoherent, unexpressed sense of amazement, reminiscent of the Biblical statement: “The Light shone through the Darkness, and the Darkness could not utter it.” It is a mental state which precedes even the utterance of “What?,” the primal query of the just-born infant. That first question, posed in the hope or expectation of an answer which does more than simply replicate the question in more complicated form, defines this border between non-existence and existence, between mental nullity and awareness. It is the foundation impulse which demands definition, of self, of universe, and of all existence, and it grasps at all that it is given – most obviously: a world of multiplicity in which the self interacts with stimuli within and without its corporeal form. This self attempts to attain a solution initially based upon an internal projection of its dominant interactions (those which were the most profoundly stimulating and well-remembered), and later by reflecting upon the possibility of a meaning, or essence, common to the cumulative range of experience, which may unite and encompass it all.

(c) Copyright 2009 by A. Rogolsky

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Solar Religion in Ancient Egypt

"Lockyer's researches make it clear that in the main the temples of Egypt were oriented with reference to the point at which the sun rises on the day of the summer solstice. The time of the solstice had peculiar interest for the Egyptians, because it corresponded rather closely with the time of the rising of the Nile. The floods of that river appear with very great regularity; the on-rushing tide reaches the region of Heliopolis and Memphis almost precisely on the day of the summer solstice. The time varies at different stages of the river's course, but as the civilization of the early dynasties centered at Memphis, observations made at this place had widest vogue. "

(from Williams, Henry Smith, HISTORY OF SCIENCE)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Solar and Lunar Time

Among the first of the regional empires of human history were those of two agricultural civilizations centered on two rivers, the Nile and the Indus.

The Egyptian civilization, based upon the union of an African South, symbolized by the Snake, and a Semitic North, symbolized by the Eagle, was able to maximize its agricultural production, based upon the innovative use of solar time, and as a result, the ability to predict exactly when the Nile would flood. In consequence, Egypt developed a solar-based, linear-triangular view of time, oriented to the Eye, and focused upon the material progress of society.

The Indus Valley civilization was able to maximize its agricultural production, based upon the use of lunar time, and as a result, the capacity to predict approximately when the Monsoon rains would come. In consequence, India develop a lunar, curvilinear-cyclical view of time, oriented to the Mind, and focused on the spiritual and mental progress of the individual.

The Solar view of Time, symbolized by the triangle, is concerned with domination. The triangle is always dominated by what is at the top, whether it is its apex (One Above All, representing Material Order), or, in the case of an inverted triangle, its base (Many Above All, representing Material Disorder).

The Lunar view of Time, symbolized by the circle, is concerned with definition. The circle is defined either by its center (One Central to All, representing Spiritual/Mental Freedom), or by its periphery (Many Peripheral to All, representing Spiritual/Mental subjection).

A society based upon Solar Time may maximize material progress (Material Order), but is vulnerable to spirtual enslavement. A society based upon Lunar Time may maximize spiritual/mental progress (Spiritual/Mental Freedom), but is vulnerable to material disorder.

(c) Copyright 2009 by A. Rogolsky

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Three Elite Groups

The material progress of human history is not the synthesis of a process of dialectical class conflict between those in power and the oppressed, but rather as the result of rivalry between three elite groups, each of which claims to represent the greater good of society. These three groups correspond to the body's digestive processes, and in order of succession, they are: the priests/philosophers, warriors/administrators, and merchants. They also may be referred to, in more derogatory terms, as liars, murderers, and thieves. Collectively, the groups may be symbolically represented as a 3-pointed star within a triangle representing the social order. They are the dynamic force which perpetually rotates the social order between six stages of domination and upheaval, like the blade of a food processor. The food processor analogy is apt, because the continual instability of the social order dissolves the materialistic aspect of individuality of those most involved in the process, rendering the disillusioned survivors ambiguous and ambivalent in their identification with their material interests. In effect, the survivors become the “food of the gods,” in that they wish to disengage in the outward struggle for material dominance, seeking deeper introspection and self-definition. Of course, the “trialectical” competition is maintained by the diehards and their new recruits among the young.

Interestingly, these three groups closely correlate with certain paradigms of both Hinduism and Buddhism. The Hindu caste system accords with its cosmic view of energy. “Thought” is considered the highest, purest form of energy, and the Brahmin (priests/philosophers) are intended to embody thought. Action, corresponding the the Ksatriyahs (warriors), emanates from thought. Finally, energy dissipates as Inertia, represented by the Sudras (merchants and craftsmen). A well-known allegory illustrates this: at an athletic competition, those watching the game represent Thought, the players- Action, and those betting on the game- Inertia.

Buddhism correlates the three types as partners in a vicious cycle of delusional emotions, perpetuating Rebirth. At the center of a Tibetan painting of the Wheel of Rebirth, we may find three animals chasing one another: a dark Boar, representing Ignorance or Fear, being chased by a Snake, representing Rage, who is in turn chased by a Cock, representing Greed or Desire, who is in turn chased by the Boar, completing the cycle. These emotions lead into one another, and it is no great feat to see a relationship between the three emotional weaknesses and the three types of elites which exploit them: Fear/Ignorance- Priests/Philosophers, Rage- Warriors, Desire/Greed – Merchants.

(c) Copyright 2009 by A. Rogolsky

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Three-fold Process of Consumption

Humans, as well as most living beings of which we are aware, are biologically constructed in a manner which necessitates that physically, they must devote all of their time to the process of consumption of air, water, and food. This process is a cycle, divided into three sub-processes: ingestion, digestion, and excretion. The cycle mirrors that of the material universe – the phases of expansion and contraction, divided by momentary, reflective “pauses.” Given Man’s organic and constant involvement with the consumption process, it is inevitable that this three-fold process serve as a pattern for the more developed psychological processes in which the individual is engaged, as well as the more complex historical processes undergone by human society as a whole.

Ingestion, the experience of choosing, tasting, and accepting the formerly external object to be consumed, is the individual’s first revelation of and union with, the world of external phenomena. This novel and unfamiliar experience, an acceptance and exploration of an active principle outside of the self is the origin of one’s spiritual and philosophical perspective.

Digestion involves the breaking down of the ingested object, and the absorption of those elements which the body can use. In a sense, digestion is a transitional process, partaking of both ingestion and excretion. It occurs between digestion and excretion, yet partakes of both, because it involves the body’s absorption and casting off of the ingested object. It also occurs between excretion and ingestion, however, in that a “meta-ingestion” and “meta-excretion” proceed before the actual consumption of an object, a choosing and rejecting of prospective objects to be consumed. Digestion may be said to be an "administration" of ingested objects.

Excretion is the process of getting rid of those elements which the body cannot use. That which cannot be exploited by the body is determined to be valueless and is excreted as waste, although it becomes part of a larger "trickle down" process, in which it is consumed by lower organisms.

(c) Copyright 2009 by A. Rogolsky

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Ideology of Slavery

The ideology of a Slave Empire must assume the identity of a civilization progressing toward the education and improvement of those it considers primitive, wild, and barbaric. Hence, the notion that the civilized better the lot of the uncivilized, as well as the world as a whole, through education, and, when necessary, faster and less oblique modes of persuasion. At times, unpleasant examples must be made of the most recalcitrant among the “unwashed,” in order to “guide” the others back to the path. The exemplary killing of rebellious slaves, an apparent regression back to the former institution of human sacrifice, sustains the institution of slavery by demonstrating that it is progressive in comparison to what came before. It proclaims to the slave class: “We could kill you if we wanted to do so, and we have slaughtered subject peoples in the past, but now we only do so if you force our hand.” Necessarily, though regrettably, the costs of such a mission of civilization must be born, at least in part, by its human objects, the “under-people.” Furthermore, these under-people must be seen to be grateful, admiring, and humbly subservient beneficiaries of the ruling civilization’s graces. In its ostensibly liberal, tolerant mode, the ruling civilization may condescend to view these subjects as perennial children and pets, amusing and stimulating due to their quaint simplicity and exoticism. The longing for the exotic may even extend towards a flirtation with eclecticism: a desire to assimilate those aspects of the subject people’s culture which seem attractive as ornaments, enhancing and accentuating the superiority of one’s own. Such a stance may be accompanied by feelings of compassion toward the benighted inferior, similar to that which one might feel toward a wounded pet, or it may even take the form of sexual desire for the slave, prompted by occasional atavistic, animal urges, but it never involves losing sight of the primary assumed directive- the present dominating superiority of the ruling civilization, as justified by its eternal mission: the salvation by purification of all.

(c) Copyright 2009 by A. Rogolsky

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Aborted Sacrifice of Isaac and the Abolition of Human Sacrifice

The Old Testament story of the aborted sacrifice of Isaac by his father is illustrative of many cogent points regarding this transition. Abraham, the father of his people, is tempted by God, given divine order to sacrifice his son, and the instructions are detailed and explicit regarding ritual and methodology. Hence, the symbol of an incipient, quasi-Canaanite Judaism in a transitional state between a reluctant but ready acceptance of the old form (human sacrifice) and the fruits of a new revelation. The institution of human sacrifice is here credited as the result of a temptation by God, a means of testing the faith of his followers. After having proven his devotion by readying for the sacrifice, Abraham’s hand is stayed by an angel of the Lord, who then points to a more suitable substitute, a stag with its antlers caught in a thicket. Why is Abraham’s devotion praised, when it has almost resulted in a barbaric end? It is praised for its totality, because the very repulsiveness of the act is a test of Abraham’s faith. In this case, the ends justify the means, yet there is a paradox in that a semi-divine intervention is required to resolve both. That an angel rather than the Lord Himself resolves the contradiction represents a key lesson of the story: God will not resolve humanity’s moral problems or guide us toward progress; that role is filled by angels, however we may wish to define them. To some, they may seem the better, or more evolved, aspects of our nature, or those among us who best express them. It is similarly significant that “Isaac” means “to laugh” in Hebrew. What does it mean to say that we must not sacrifice Laughter to our god, or for that matter, to what we worship? If Laughter is seminal, essential for hope and progress, then our actions must befit its preservation. But since some cruelty in life is unavoidable, the compromise that we make (and the best that we can do) is to gradually minimize its destructiveness. The institution of human sacrifice is shown to have rendered a historical function appropriate to its time- humans have proven their capacity for devotion- but it is now rendered obsolete and considered primitive and brutal. Thus, the command of “I AM THAT IS,” with Being entailing a progressive, futuristic element, delivered by His angelic intermediary: Humans will not be sacrificed either for God or in His Name. Lastly but no less significant is the meaning of the substitute sacrifice, the stag trapped by its antlers: an adult male animal, whose masculine attribute, the antlers (representing its masculine sexual function) has become a hindrance. Herein lies a lesson of evolutionary dynamism: neither females nor the young animals are sacrificed, for these carry the future of their kind; instead a male past his sexual prime is offered. This mirrors the moral at the heart of the story: just as angelic intermediation has abolished human sacrifice in the present (the time of the story’s narration), so shall it one day abolish animal sacrifice, and beyond that, eventually, the necessity for all sacrifice, whence comes the Sabbath of Days.

(c) Copyright 2009 by A. Rogolsky

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Emergence of Slavery

The emergence of agriculture and slavery occurred in tandem. A hunter-gatherer society has little use for slaves; those captured from rival tribes cannot be armed to assist in engaging in a hunt, for obvious reasons, nor can they be left with the women and children, for equally obvious reasons. Alive, they are a hindrance and a threat, so they may as well be sacrificed. In times of plenty, captured children, if young enough to be bred into loyalty, may have been adopted on occasion, so a precedent of a kind did exist. However, only the establishment of agriculture, the first labor-intensive means of food production, made slavery both feasible and necessary.

The invention of agriculture as a means of procuring food must have been a result of observation of wild plants, their seeds and seedlings, by women gatherers in consultation with their shamans. To them, that a tiny seed could, when sown on fertile soil and given sustenance, sprout roots and grow into a much larger plant, and later give forth more seeds to perpetuate the process, must have seemed miraculous. A logical implication of such a potent model of growth was to base a social vision of progress upon it, to contemplate a prospect of ever-increasing bounty, with villages and cities as the branches of a tree of life founded upon a divine order to “be fruitful and multiply.” Sustaining such a tree, there are god-kings and priests at the top, representing the sun, admininistrators, aristocrats and merchants, representing water, which mediates between earth and land, and a vast base of slaves, representing the soil, upon which the tree is founded.

How, then, did slavery originate? To begin with, it would seem logical to envision a village society in transition, still in its hunter-gatherer stage but with the beginnings of primitive agriculture. Some prisoners, captured from a rival village during a successful raid, and now bound and guarded, await sacrifice. Given the increased demand for labor, especially during harvest time, it would seem reasonable to put some of them to work, postponing killing them until they’re no longer needed. A slave “hierarchy” is gradually established: initially, the best workers are simply allowed to live longer than the others. Later, as the demand for labor increases with the expansion of agriculture, a more elaborate structure of domination is instituted. The best slaves are made into overseers or house-slaves, and may even, in time, earn their freedom. The most rebellious receive physical punishment and death. It is likely that, as a slave system eclipsed the institution of human sacrifice, conflicts erupted between an established priest caste with a vested interest in preserving the old institution, and a new group representing the agriculturalists, and willing to accept animal sacrifice, which must have seemed a spiritually weakened, less profound substitute. In hard times, it is likely that the “old-way” practitioners sometimes demanded, and were allowed, a temporary revival of human blood sacrifice, to appease the angry gods. Harvest festivals, such as Halloween, and Spring (planting) festivals, such as May Day, reflect some of the spiritual ambivalence that early societies must have felt regarding the changeover. On the one hand, they are days of great freedom, in which a pagan jubilation is felt, reflecting the happiness of those spared from the prospect of sacrifice in order that they may be slaves – on the other, there is a foreboding, especially in the case of Halloween, in which a dread persists that the forces of darkness may now have their day, presumably because sufficient sacrifices have not been made in thankfulness for the harvest. No longer does human blood irrigate the fields, and those outsiders once sacrificed are now accepted as productive members of society, though of inferior status. However, the relaxation of strictures governing blood-appeasement of tribal gods poses risks: the expanded vision of society comes with the cost of greater social complexity, and the benefits of diversity are accompanied by the threat of barbarian contamination. The plant model of the slave empire develops as a strict hierarchy in which all members are, in fact, slaves to the system, though some are more blatantly subordinate than others – from the flowers and leaves down through the branches and trunk, and finally, the vast complex of roots. The familial simplicity of the clan as totemically symbolized predator, hunting, killing, and eating those outside of the group, is replaced by a hegemonic plant model, which seeks to assimilate and enslave all outsiders, thereby eliminating the insider-outsider distinction.

(c) 2009 by A. Rogolsky

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Transition From Cannibalism to Human Sacrifice

To the shaman, fire could be seen both as a fearful symbol of physical annihilation, and also as a doorway and connecting force to the ethereal realms of the dead- a powerful, magical, and dangerous gift of one’s ancestors and also a means by which to reach them. Cooked meat (including cooked human meat) was safer to eat than that eaten raw. If one threw food into the fire, it would sizzle, as if in agony, and then turn to ash and pungently smelling smoke, useless to the living, but perhaps satisfying one’s dead ancestors, or the gods, with an offering of its consumed, transformed essence. What could be more natural than to offer some of the meat to one’s gods after a successful hunt? It is likely that some shamans were among the first to observe that cannibalism could be dangerous, in that serious diseases could be transferred from the eaten to the eaters. Better to eat it cooked rather than raw, and even better to offer it to the gods, and not eat it at all. That realization, combined with a circumstance in which food was plentiful and a tribe might have on hand an excess of prisoners which might normally be eaten, may have provided the opportunity for the next leap in human social and moral evolution – the age of Human Sacrifice and the beginning of organized religious cults. To kill one’s prisoners and throw them onto the fire so that one’s gods or ancestors could eat them, and thereafter reward those making the sacrifice, may seem barbaric now, but it was progressive then, especially if one’s sacrificed enemies were “uncivilized” cannibals. It satisfied a need for “spiritual insurance,” based upon pure speculation, of course- a tribute to the shaman’s genius in exploiting his depth of knowledge in the psychological weaknesses of himself and those around him. In addition, the profundity of the practice and the complex rituals which developed in order to cope with the deep general ambivalence toward it greatly enhanced the authority of the spiritual leader who presided over it, transforming him from a freakishly eccentric, filthy clan medicine-man into a high priest, with a vision of the tribe’s future, sanctified and clarified by blood-sacrifice.

(c) Copyright 2009 by A. Rogolsky

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Confusion as Primal

In a sense, we’re all fools. Confusion is the primal emotion, that which greets our first thought and our first sight of things to come. Confusion is primal, and it never goes away. Many of the great psychological theorists of the past were wrong in choosing differently, but then, they, too, were confused. What lifelong therapy would they design to cope with this primal, evanescent emotion? The shaman may be seen as the authority who addresses this confusion but he is also a jester, or holy fool , and a portion of his function is that of an entertainer. As holy fool, he exemplifies that fool within us all. He is us, in our weakness, our freakishness, and our animality. The shaman and the totem of the tribe represent our beastliness and boorishness, our vulgarity and our wildness. Hence, the shaman plays on our love for him through his knowledge (manifesting his self-knowledge) of our humble position in the face of confusion, our utter ignorance and pathetic weakness, our cravenness - as known of himself in amplified form, by him. He is a fool, as confused as we are, and all that he has is his heart.

(c) Copyright 2009 by A. Rogolsky

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Dialectic of Doubt

Being primarily selfish creatures, humans have always lived based upon their definitions of their self interests. Like each of us, no human living then could know for certain whether his own life was all that he would ever know and experience, or whether there was something of positive value beyond the physical death of the body. There is the possibility that death ends both pleasure and suffering, which might be interpreted as a neutral prospect, but could also give rise to the hope that, in ending suffering, the dead are happier than they were in life, since so much of life involves suffering. However, if all hope, including that of death as a painless nullity, is a delusion, then the individual faces the prospect of a future comprised of an infinite, lonely wasteland, solely real in that all happiness past or falsely present is nothing more than a futile mental diversion, a false memory dreamt by a desolate, longing state of consciousness, unbearable but for the fact that it is unavoidable and immanent, indistinguishable from death, though, again, not the optimistic version of it as a nullity granting relief and release, but death as a constant, painful, and eternal process of entropy – unending diminution and loss. Obviously, there was, and is, no means of proving or disproving any position on this matter. If one knew, beyond any doubt, that this life is all that there is, and that nothing may be done to influence what happens afterwards, then the only sensible course of action would be to enjoy one’s single and solitary life as much as possible, and as selfishly as possible, with one’s own definition of self interest limited to that of a single life. To some extent, many people accept this “one life” idea as a probability and “working hypothesis,” and live accordingly. However, even for most of those who tend to believe that death ends everything, it is impossible to banish all doubt of the idea that existence may somehow transcend physical death, and that, consequently, one’s actions in this life may somehow affect one’s existence beyond the grave. Since it is inevitable that some degree of belief in the hereafter will persist, even in those who take the greatest pride in claiming a personal skepticism regarding transubstantiation, it becomes necessary to purchase a sort of “spiritual insurance.” Of course, the amount that each of us purchases varies, depending upon the degree of skepticism regarding the possibility of a hereafter. The type of insurance purchased also varies in that the purchasers need not be faithful to any given religion, or even outwardly pious and observant of religious ritual. The only commonality in practice is sacrifice to a good beyond one’s individual material self interest, based on the assumption that one’s consciousness may transcend the material self. It is interesting to note that in Greek Mythology, Chronos (or Time) tries to eat all of his children, until Zeus, his son and the founder of the Olympian Gods, kills him. The lesson is clear: Time is cruel and consumes its offspring, and the only hope of escaping the fundamental horror of temporal existence is the belief in something beyond it. There is the possibility that this hope is a false one and that we never truly escape Time- that a Hobbesian world exists in which the future is a wasteland and we are all merely self-deluded cannibals, driven insane by the desperation resulting from the knowledge of our certain destruction. If so, then all is pointless, and it doesn’t matter how selfishly we act or what atrocities we perpetrate. Although one might argue that, if the actual truth is intolerable, entertaining a roseate delusion of transcendence might constitute a “golden lie,” and that it is therefore not a waste of time, no delusion can be sustained as an eternally convincing lie, as it is the truth, intolerable or not, which must be faced. The truth is ineradicable and immanent, though not always self-evident. Since no one can know with any certainty which prospect is real, the mindset of the individual, and of human society as a whole, alternates between pursuing our happiest dreams and surrendering to our ugliest suspicions. The means of engaging in these pursuits evolve in complexity and sophistication as well, as the inventions and benefits resulting from the evolution of our civilized and humane personae are mirrored in our destructive and wasteful abuses of this new knowledge, the logical and contradictory negation of the spirit which created it. The essential dialectical conflict between the outlooks underlying a seemingly dynamic, materialistically progressive process never changes.

(c) Copyright 2009 by A. Rogolsky

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Origin of Shamanism

Once a fire was made, it was a matter of convenience for there to be someone to watch it, feed it, monitor it so that it didn’t become a threat, and re-start it if it died. The most likely candidate for such a job was a either a man who couldn’t hunt, because of physical weakness, deformity, or permanently crippling wounds, a similarly deformed woman, or one who could not mate and raise children. Such a person, considered inadequate as a male or female in so many respects, would previously have been killed. We may speculate that in some instances some such persons were saved by their mothers, and that those mothers who succeeded in convincing the others not to kill their weak children were powerful women within the tribe. The “mother’s helpers” would spend hours upon hours with little to do but stare at the fire and ponder its mysteries. Such “fire-watchers” were the the first shamans. They were physically and socially shunned by the rest of the tribe, yet they came to be at the heart of it. Physically weak, dependent, and fundamentally expendable in times of great need, the shaman justified his existence as the arbiter and nexus between his clan and the realms of mystery. He also became the repository of his clan’s medical knowledge, partly because heat was a necessary element in the preparation of herbal medicines, and the cauterizing of wounds.

These, the physically deformed, the epileptic, formerly outcasts, shunned yet to be edified, were probably the loneliest members of a tribe.

A lonely existence can bear within it some happiness; as one seeks the friend within one’s self, one dreams and deepens, one focuses more clearly on one’s inner visions and outward priorities, one defines. A new way of seeing may emerge, a universe transformed by new observation, the correct action but the union of a thought with its inevitable, quite naturally occurring result.

Through greater acknowledgement of his fears and of his own vulnerability to the many destructive forces around him, the shaman could forge an internal, psychological strength which he could use in his relationship to others because he could better detect and exploit such fears in them. The ultimate fears of all living things, of pain and death, he could comprehend in depth as he contemplated the fire as a microcosmic paradigm of all of the pain- and death-giving aspects of primitive man’s existence. Primitive man was surrounded by destructive forces which often overcame him, including famine, extremes of weather, predators (including other humans), and disease. The phenomena that surrounded him told him nothing about his origin or destination. Things which lived- animals and plants- brought forth young, and then died. Water and air seemed to last forever, and fire also lasted forever, in the sense that was always the same when reborn. Rock and soil might be tranformed, but it didn’t seem to care what form it took, and was thereby dead to death. How did it all come about? Was this short, hard life all that there was?

(c) Copyright 2009 by A. Rogolsky

Sunday, October 18, 2009


The invention of fire-utilization occurred during the Cannibalistic period. Possibly, the discovery of how to ignite a fire resulted from the knowledge that rubbing hard objects together created heat. Cooked meat (including human flesh) was safer to eat than raw, and therefore those who ate it survived longer. Also, fire provided an effective defense against other carnivores, aided in the drying and preservation of meat and in the preparation of other foods and medicines, and made it easier to survive the winter.

Fire was viewed as miraculous, mysterious, and dangerous. It could grow from a small spark into a whole forest of flame, and like something living, it seemed to consume what it burned, and reproduce itself. It constantly and rapidly changed. It could cause great pain and kill. It was difficult and time-consuming to create fire, and it required fuel to sustain it. And the best way to “kill” a fire was with water, which, like fire, was also both creative and destructive, miraculous and mysterious. A fire could be killed, but it would be reborn with each new fire, as all fires were alike. Fire in its apparently “dead” state was not, in fact, dead, but merely asleep, latent and abiding within all that it might burn, as an infinite and eternal potential for both creation and destruction. Hence, fire-worship became associated with the bird of prey, such as an eagle (or later, a phoenix). The bird of prey was a fitting symbol in that it embodied the nexus between earth and sky, was a potentially vicious and cruel animal which nurtured its young, and also because it had a seemingly magical mode of fully realized, active being - flight.

(c) Copyright 2009 by A. Rogolsky

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Cannibalistic Phase

The second phase, the Cannibalistic, was an inevitable consequence of famines, and provided the impetus for overcoming the first phase, since those who best hunted and killed other humans or proto-humans also learned to kill stronger animals. It is interesting to speculate on how our ancestors first came to use weapons. Perhaps, after witnessing the killing of another by an animal, an outraged survivor picked up a hard object, such as a rock or stick, and threw it against another hard object, damaging either the thrown item or its target, and drawing the obvious and necessary conclusion- that a hard object could break when hit by a harder one. The first tools were undoubtedly found weapons, such as rocks, sticks, and bones. The most capable hunters (of both humans and other animals) became the leaders of their clans. Hence, human cannibalism, as barbaric as it seems today, provided the means by which humans abandoned their subordinate role as prey to other animals, and became hunters. The totemic identification of clans with animals began during this period, partly as a means of identifying clans with the strength of particular animals, and partly to assuage the guilt that resulted from the killing. Torture also developed during this period- partly as an experimental method of determining physical weaknesses of humans, thereby to apply them to other animals, and partly as a means by which hunters could be psychologically hardened so as to increase their ability to inflict and withstand pain. Cruelty may be seen as a necessary outgrowth of the natural curiosity which exists in all higher animals, useful in expanding a predator’s practical knowledge of its enemies and prey. This is not to say that cruelty is a universal or absolute virtue, but rather that, at certain early stages of human development, it had greater relative value than at later stages, when it’s value diminished to a point where it was defined as utterly vicious and destructive.

(c) Copyright 2009 by A. Rogolsky

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Evolution of Social Organization

It is useful to examine the extremely gradual evolution of social organization, from the primitive anarchy of our proto-human and human ancestors to the first imperial slave states which arose at the dawn of history. What we now refer to as “history” comprises considerably less than 1% of the period in which we and our proto-human ancestors have existed on this planet. During the prehistoric period, which comprised hundreds of thousands of years, our rate of innovation proceeded at a glacially slow pace, when compared to the constant acceleration of in the rate change which occurred in the historical period. At each phase, the conceptions of Time reflected and influenced the world view of society- its religions, laws, and economic organization, as well as their concurrent evolution to the next phase.

In the first phase, humans hunted smaller and weaker animals, and larger, stronger carnivores hunted us. The conception of Time was that of a “point-instant”- an all-encompassing Present in which all needs and desires were dealt with immediately. During this period, we were closer to other animals, in terms of outlook, then we have ever been since. All primeval paradise myths in which humans live simply and in harmony with nature hearken to this period, partly because such a harmony did exist in the sense that the pace of human mental evolution and the pace of human social and technological evolution were in more closely in tandem than at any later period. Certainly the physical condition of human existence was harder, and more dangerous, and lives extremely brief compared to later times. Modern humans sometimes romanticise Nature, but Nature cannot be tamed: it can be both ugly and brutal. There are innocent victims aplenty in Nature. However, we must not dismiss the possibility that even given the apparent relative harshness of natural conditions when compared to modern times, the human brain, physique, and society of the primeval age was endowed with hundreds of thousands of years during which little changed and an unspoiled natural environment conducive to an ever-increasingly satisfying depth of familiarity. Mother Goddess Cults, celebrating plenitude and the nurturing qualities of the Earth, date from this period.

(c) Copyright 2009 by A. Rogolsky

Monday, October 12, 2009

Celestialism- Introduction

Like our predecessors, most modern humans are complacent in accepting, without justification, the universal and timeless validity of our most deeply held values. It is almost unthinkable for us to even consider the possibility that certain practices and institutions of our primitive past which currently revolt us might once have represented moral progress for human society, given what came before. While few scholars of pre-history credit a naively idealistic and atavistic vision of our distant past featuring a “noble savage” living in harmony with nature, a more subtle delusion predominates- that of believing that those people of earlier times who believed themselves moral subscribed to beliefs and lived in a manner in conformance to modern conceptions of morality. The notion that self-definedly ethical individuals of earlier times perpetrated cannibalism, torture, genocide, human sacrifice, and enslavement strikes us as absurd, repugnant, and alien. Equally discomforting is the implication of such a concept as it might be applied by future scholars of current human society, who might consider actions which to our eyes seem harmless and innocent, such as eating a hamburger, as barbaric, cruel, wasteful, and mindless, when compared to the standards of moral evolution of their society. The question of whether morality is absolute or relative is not at issue here. Rather, there arises the question of whether morality is to be defined as a specific set of universally applicable tenets referring to specific acts and institutions, or whether it is to be construed as an evolutionary process comprising a gradual spiritual progress towards a lessening of suffering and waste, and greater happiness for all.

(c) Copyright 2009 by A. Rogolsky