There is a genre of fiction in which humans are depicted as living in a reality that is not what it appears to be. In these stories, the heroes are captives in an elaborate prison that keeps them from realizing the true nature of reality, which is hidden behind the veil of a false world.
Done well, these tales go super-viral and connect with a deep part of the human consciousness that gives them a kind of mythological status. That is because they are profoundly subversive narratives that hint at the oldest conspiracy theories of our civilization: that we are living in some simultaneously ancient and high-tech illusion that keeps us disconnected from our true identity and its cosmic power.
The amazing thing about this category of fantasy is that it first appeared in 380 BCE; almost 2400 years ago. And that first episode remains one of the most precise and elegant renditions of a hero’s journey out of the programmed deception of our reality.
I’m talking about the Cave Allegory which appeared in the Greek philosopher Plato’s Republic. In his story a group of prisoners are shackled by their legs and necks in an underground cave. Projected on a wall in front of them are images in the shape animals and people and objects.
The 2-dimensional shapes are what they believe the world to be.
What the prisoners do not know is that behind them is a fire. The images they see are merely shadows created by puppets which are being paraded in front of the fire by some mysterious procession of people. The apparition is enough to keep the prisoners distracted and complacent in their bondage.
And then one of the prisoners breaks free from his chains. He is suddenly able to turn around and see the fire, which blinds him momentarily. It is confusing and frightening, so he turns back to the wall and the reality he understands.
But then someone drags him up the pathway, past the fire, and out of the mouth of the cave. Again, he is angry and disoriented, but soon his eyes adjust to the light and he is able to see the world in all it’s 3-dimensional beauty and complexity.
He has awakened.
Awakened by escaping from the conjured trick of his reality and discovering the multi-dimensional truth of the world beyond his cave. For the first time, he sees animals and trees and rivers and other human beings who are not prisoners. And, when his eyes have finally adjusted to the environment, he looks up and sees the sun, which is the source that illuminates it all.
Transformed by his journey and the revelation he has been given, the prisoner runs back down into the cave to tell the others. But it is so dark that his eyes cannot adjust. He stumbles around like a blind man, ranting about a world that the others cannot understand. When they tell him they want to stay, he tries to drag them up the hill toward the light.
Faced with the threat of being turned insane by whatever exists beyond their wall and its shadows, they conspire against him and he is murdered.
The Cave allegory is the blueprint for a journey that many have attempted with varying degrees of success. The most famous of these was featured in another blockbuster story that became the best-selling book of all time: the Bible. Whether you believe that Jesus Christ existed or not, his story is an object lesson in the harrowing trials of transcending consensual reality and then returning to help others do the same.
Look what happened to him.
Instead of enshrining his journey as a lesson in reality hacking, the imperial church hijacked and distorted Christ’s teachings. Emperors and kings, and the popes that served them, had zero incentive to revealing a system of liberation to the very people they required to build and die for their worldly imperium. So they turned his life into a system of spiritual deception that still exists today.
But that doesn’t mean others didn’t carry it forward. They did, but under the cover of secret societies that protected the knowledge at all costs.
The Mystical Underground
Plato was a profound mystic. Which means he believed in a process through which humans can interact with the non-material, or spiritual realm. Central to his mystical teachings was that this plane is a source of truths about our world that can not be attained with our intellect. Instead, there is a hidden path to reaching that kind of “enlightenment” that can only be known by those who learn the hidden forces which govern our reality.
For the rarified class who were initiated into this knowledge, there was not only the promise of a kind of inner peace. But also the freedom and power that comes with living outside of the limitations that rule the rest of humanity. It was, and continues to be, a highly guarded and subversive form of spiritual technology.
In the Cave, Plato is telling his students that without an understanding of our world’s dimensional infrastructure, they are operating in a kind of trance which prevents them from knowing the nature of their reality. It is also about the difficult and isolating journey that must be undertaken if one wants to escape the limited experience that confines most people to a life of servitude and minor gratification. In the mystical, or mystery, schools that were formed in the centuries and millennia after Plato, these were taught as a system of specific beliefs, actions, and processes that one must undertake in order to break out of the illusion.
But Plato does not reveal those liberationist mystical steps to the reader, relying instead on very simple metaphors that keep the story in the Cave. There are practical reasons for this, chief among them: the high level of secrecy that surrounds this mystical knowledge by the elite group who possess it.
In order to access this esoteric intelligence, one has to be initiated through rigorous tests to prove that they can be trusted. And that they understand the threat posed to the Earthly rulers by those who seek to master the art of escaping this plane.
So its no surprise there weren’t any viral hits in the Cave category for a long time. That’s not to say there weren’t mystics. They just stayed underground. Until the power of the church began to fade and science became the new religion, then the mystical heresies went from being outlawed to simply ridiculed. Though the effect was the same:
Humanity remained in its cage.
Any references to our self-imposed confinement in the modern epoch were now ‘poetic’ and metaphorical and thus, meaningless. Instead of mapping the way out of this dungeon, William Blake, the Romantic poet and visionary, distilled Plato’s Cave down to a two liner.
If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.
For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.
The only traceable impact of which was the inspiration behind the naming of two highly psychedelic products: Aldous Huxley’s book about a mescaline trip, and Jim Morrison’s legendary 60’s era rock band.
So it was that humanity had to wait two millennia for the next blockbuster installment of the reality jailbreak series to drop. But when it arrived, it was a fucking masterpiece.
Enter The Matrix
The Wachowski’s 1999 sci-fi cult masterpiece brought us a hacker named Neo who is dragged up the steep incline from his own 2D flat screen reality by a hyper-cool revolutionary named Morpheus, who offers an explanation of the illusion in words that Plato never could have conjured.
“The Matrix is everywhere. It’s all around us, even in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work, when you go to church, when you pay your taxes. The Matrix is the world that has been pulled over your eyes, to blind you from the truth.”
“What truth?” Neo asks.
“That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else, you were born into bondage, born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch. A prison…for your mind….Unfortunately, no one can be…told what the Matrix is…you have to see it for yourself.”
Then Morpheus opens a container which holds two pills : a blue one, and a red one. He puts one in each hand, and holds them out to Neo. The rest is tattooed to the consciousness of a whole generation of redpill neo-Neos.
How many of us watched that scene and felt something we had never experienced before? A celluloid-induced deja vu that removed us from our virtual reality and illuminated a higher system of truth about the nature of our earthly experience?
But it was fleeting. Because then we went back to school or work or whatever occupied our days and remembered only that we had seen The Matrix, not that we were living in it.
It’s no wonder. Because after Morpheus’ description of the hi-tech stockade we are living in, there was no explanation of how to get out. Neo mastered the Matrix by leveling up his combat and parkour skills in response to Morpheus’ monotone provocations to “let it all go, Neo. Fear…doubt…and disbelief. Free your mind…”
It became impractical nonsense. Necessarily.
Because that is precisely the engine that drives (successful) third acts of modern science fiction cinema. To be commercially viable, The Matrix had to be an action film, not a treatise on the mystical ladder out of terrestrial bondage.
So once again, humanity was shown their prison, but not given a key.
Two years later, planes smashed into the World Trade Center and we entered an entirely new paradigm that placed the enemy firmly within the terrestrial framework. In the vacuum created by the War on Terror, there simply was no bandwidth for adventurist mysticism which frames the struggle of humanity against an external force that uses violence and dualism to keep them divided and enslaved.
But now, two decades later, we are moving into a highly dangerous phase of our history and there is an urgency to engineer a civilizational paradigm shift that will break us out of this holographic cocoon.
One that integrates an ancient and secret system of rungs on a mystical ladder that provides a map and path out of what, in the eyes of the great (r)evolutionary mystics, is a highly developed illusion designed to keep us locked within this third dimension that is ruled by time and space.
What will be the next installment in the reality jailbreak series launched by Plato 2400 years ago?
I received a few questions and challenges posed to my Mystical Trump post. One of them gives me the chance to answer them all. It comes from AM:
“Interesting. I’m trying to think about it in terms of the relationship between the market and society in Polanyi’s Great Transformation. The idea that the two realms aren’t really separate, but rather society’s response to crisis in the market makes the continuation of capitalist markets possible. So seeing them in a dialectical relationship.
In this context I guess my question would be a somewhat basic one: in what ways does or doesn’t a move towards inward non-opposition perpetuate the dialectical relationship between seemingly oppositional forces?”
This is a great question, and it is where it gets a little complicated. The core plank of my position lies in this graf:
what i would suggest however, in the context of (r)evolutionary mysticism is that we not feed into that binary impulse that drives those groups who are currently engineering reality for the great part of the world. but rather, that we consider that by opposing things with the intent of destroying them, we edify them in the process.
The simple answer to your question lies in the nature of dialectics. In its purest form, a dialectic is a discourse between differing points of view on a subject. In the case of political or social conflict, it is the semantic expression of a chaotic sine wave.
So in the pure mathematical/physics context, if we occupy the polar viewpoint to our ‘opposition,’ and we are engaged in a dialectical process, then we are an implicit participant and driver of the opponent’s momentum and identity. It follows then that if we simply abandon our positions and thus remove the binary curvature in the wave’s force/resistance, it will have the effect of collapsing the entire structure.
But that is a fallacy.
One has only to look at history to know that there have been times when hatred and anti-humanism have marshaled enough force to very nearly approach world domination if not for the willful opposition of an opposing force.
In some cases agents of change have been able to destroy all opposition so that they simply become the structure of reality themselves. They become the new paradigm, and the dialectic continues, within the parameters established by the new order.
This is very much what has happened to the world post-Industrial Revolution, and why Polanyi is able to make him point, that in the capitalist paradigm, even opposition feeds the capitalist enterprise.
I am proposing something very different here. Going inward is not simply about becoming silent and meditating oneself into an innocuous trance. No. Not at all.
When I write about (r)evolutionary mysticism, I am invoking an ancient practice that is more akin to alchemy than non-violent opposition. This is the stuff of the mystery schools who were forced underground for millennia because of the (real and perceived) threat they posed to those who ruled humanity on the material plane. You can find the substance of this deeply subversive thinking through history from Plato, Hermes, Meister Eckhart, and then the modern mystics like Mabel Collins and Helena Blavatsky.
In this line of (r)evolutionary thinking, the reality we are experiencing is not primary. It is a recipient realm, which receives the projection – much limited and distorted by virtue of the time/space confinements of 3D – of a higher, more true source. And it is from this realm that we can connect our earthly consciousness to attain incredibly powerful transmutational power. Power which will not simply neutralize the forces of hatred and fear which we ‘oppose’, but transform them through the vibrational frequency that we attain in our alignment with, and tuning to, the primary, non-material realm.
If we simply ‘oppose’ Trump from within the confines of the same paradigm, we are still locked in the same structure and what you get is another crest in the wave without ever transmuting the generators that created him. (Hence, the 50 year dialectic of Carter-Bush-Clinton-Bush-Obama-Trump).
So this is what I am talking about when I say, in my Mystical Trump piece, that we should:
vanish into the interior realm, where true generative power resides.
But of course, knowing how to connect with and channel a new paradigmatic vibration is not a simple thing. And it is not something that is taught. But, I will tell you, it is something we know innately to do. Just as much as we know that sitting near a 1000 year old redwood nourishes us more than hugging a telephone pole. But we must be willing to let go of the primacy of this plane, and all its amazing spectacles, in order to bring in the new/ancient thing that is what we are all so hungry for.
Let’s bring it back to Trump.
This is a phenomena that is being generated by people who are responding to a perceived threat. The campaign was driven by a system of phobias that essentially create an ‘us vs them’ dynamic which was enough to position Trump as a savior for the millions of Americans who feel deep-seated frustration and anger at their diminished economic and social agency.
The reality is that what these people are experiencing is real. And what Steve Bannon and the Trump team did was take that anger and channel it into a campaign that reflected it back in order to create a force of energy that would propel them to a electoral victory.
(r)evolutionary mysticism is not concerned with opposing these people. It is not concerned with opposing Trump or Steve Bannon or whatever other interchangeable body suit the ruling paradigm throws up to sustain its steady march toward oblivion.
It is concerned with a solution that is appealing to the deepest facets of all humanity. It is about ending the dialectic we are currently trapped in and establishing an entirely new playing field. Call it paradigm shift, call it a spiritual awakening, call it the solution to quantum physics’ search for a unifying theory.
Mysticism is based on the belief that we are in a place in which we are unable to feel the innate interconnectedness of all things, but that we all emanate from the same creative energetic field, and that is something we very simplistically call ‘love’.
And there is no cleaner and purer and more profoundly transformative vibration than love. But ‘love’ as we experience it on the material plane is a mere fragment of its computational and transmutational power in the non-material realm. What I have experienced in my own limited journeys to the primary realm is so beautiful and massive and ancient and futuristic… it is like a wave of creative potential that has the power to sink all of these zero-sum antiquated architectures and simultaneously float all boats to a new kind of world that we have only ever dreamed about. And it is just as real as everything we are experiencing now.
You just have to close your eyes,
Child prodigy, rebel icon, zen guru, Alan Watts was the philosopher king of the 60s counter-culture. At the age of seventeen, he experienced a mystical state which revealed the unity of spiritual and material worlds. And so began one of the most storied interior quests of the twentieth century.
During Watts’ lifetime his particular brand of wisdom pierced the conformist, Cold War society to appeal to the youth being drafted into a system they’d long stopped believing in. Besides leaving an indelible mark on the leaders of the sixties social movements, his council was solicited by corporations and the Pentagon. In this sense, Alan Watts was the ultimate cultural double-agent: a mystical trickster, courted by the same institutional elites who were fighting to sustain a societal paradigm that Watts was encouraging his young devotees to reject and transcend.
His enduring message asks us to see reality in a different way; to understand ourselves as components of a cosmic Self; the implications of which are different for every person whose life he has touched. Unfazed by his own shadow, and the one cast by the social order, he introduced a kind of commentary that was both ancient and ultra modern, and delivered it with an authenticity prized in today’s millennial culture.
I spent a lot of time with Watts’ writing and recordings recently and transcribed many of them into my journals. Watts was without question, for me, one of the greatest mystical teachers of the 20th century. Here’s one of my favorite Watt’s riffs from a talk in the 60s:
To control the world is not really what we want to do.
So if all explanations have as their function enabling us to control things, then maybe an explanation isn’t what we wanted. And furthermore, we can very simply see, what makes things complicated is explaining them. When somebody explains to you how a flower works… everybody stands fascinated. “How complicated that is. How clever God must have been to create that flower… to have all the complexity going.”
It isn’t complicated at all.
It’s only complicated when you start thinking about it. Because the vehicle of words is a very clumsy one. And when you try to talk about the processes of nature, what is complicated is not the processes of nature, but trying to put them into words.
That’s as complicated as trying to drink up the ocean with a fork. It takes forever.
So this intense complexity that we see in everything is created by our attempt to analyze it all. And so what we do, when we analyze, we use our eyes and ears as scalpels. And we dissect everything. And we have to put a label on every piece we chop off. And so we scalpelize and we get it right down to atoms…
There is no end to the minuteness that you can unveil through physical investigation. For the simple reason that the investigation itself is what is chopping things into tiny little pieces. And the sharper you can sharpen your knife, the finer you can cut it. And the knife of the intellect is very sharp indeed. And with the sophisticated instruments that we can now make, there’s probably no limit to it.
But in a way, all that is vain knowledge. In a way. Because you see… what it does is it gives the illusion that you’ve solved your problems. When have controlled certain things and you have solved certain problems. Practical problems. You say “fine, more of that please. Let’s go on solving problems.” And you create a world of people as we are today who are far more comfortable than the ones who lived in the 19th century.
But the problem is that we keep running into this thing that all constant stimulations of consciousness become unconscious. And when we take it as a matter of course to have certain comforts, then we switch the level on which we worry. When we solve a whole set of problems, people find new ones to worry about. And after a while you begin to get that haven’t we been here before feeling. Because we don’t realize we’re chasing our own tails, by a constant recurring process of not knowing who we are.
That is hide and seek.
That is the nature of what the Hindus call manvantara and the pralaya. The period of the manvatnara when the worlds are manifested and the period of the pralaya when the worlds are withdrawn from manifestation. In and out, in and out.
Ever more came out through the same door as in I went.
And the thing is to get to the point where you can see that you are doing that in every moment of your existence, with every tiny little atom of your body. You, now at this minute, you see, are the whole system. Of inning and outing.
In other words, you often think perhaps… maybe a long long time ahead I shall reach the point where I wake up from manifestation and overcome the world illusion and discover that I am the Supreme Reality behind all this diversification. My friends, there is no diversification. In other words, what you call diversification is your game. In the same way as you chop the thing and say it is made of pieces. Because you forget that you cut it.
I have owned Carl Jung’s Red Book since it was published in 2009. This is the legendary journal that he kept during a period of self-discovery and introspection that has been described as both revelatory and psychotic since its publication.
At the beginning, my copy was placed in our living room, open to one of the many entrancing images that Jung painted during this deeply private odyssey into, what he termed, “a confrontation with the unconscious.”
I hate to admit this, but I became one of those people who owned the book, but never read it. And so one of the greatest and most intimate journals of mystical illumination sat like some literary trophy on display in our living room. Often discussed, but only in the most banal of degrees.
Until a few months ago when I felt this deep pull to start reading Jung’s words.
So the book migrated to my office desk and then began traveling with me to cafés and weekend trips. I am sure it looked ridiculous, or more probably pretentious, carting around the 10 pound crimson red volume. But I didn’t care, I was so wrapped up in Jung’s writing that I used every spare moment I had to push through the text, marking it up with pencils so that I could return to transcribe the passages that were relevant to my work.
There is a lot I want to write about the Red Book and I will do that in a series of posts over time. But I want to start with a very simple and profound bit that comes from the Introduction. It is a statement about the time in which Jung was writing (1913-1917) by Hugo Ball that places it very precisely in a parallel historical period to the one we are currently entering:
The world and society in 1913 looked like this: life is completely confined and shackled. A kind of economic fatalism prevails; each individual, whether he resists it or not, is assigned a specific role and with it his interests and his character. The church is regarded as a “redemption factory” of little importance, literature is a safety valve……The most burning question day and night is: is there anywhere a force that is strong enough to put an end to this state of affairs? And if not, how can one escape it?
I have long been interested in the system of historical cycles; since I first read Schlesinger’s cyclical theory in high school. The idea that we can look at the intrinsic governing forces of a past time and then use those to map events in a current epoch is fascinating and takes the chaos out of human affairs. History, after all, is a function of economic, social, and spiritual currents. And when one looks back at previous historical trends, they will see very similar patterns occurring.
But I am focused on much more subterranean forces. These are the ones that precipitated the 1920’s and the 1960’s, and now these 20teens, as eras of unparalleled social change.
The birth of the jazz age, and all of the potent intellectual/artistic movements that were surfacing worldwide, is often overshadowed by the omnipresent psychedelia of the hippie era. But what they share in common is that amongst all the partying and re-identification, there was also a deep movement inward toward the mystical frontier.
And the person you find in the early pages of the Red Book is unlike anything you have ever read or been taught about Carl Jung. Here, he is going full shaman and what he is unearthing and chronicling about the pre-material forces that guide and propel our material plane is of critical importance as we enter this time of confusion and fear.
Because as you will discover, there are one of two belief systems that you can adopt about our reality. The first is that it is unpredictable, chaotic, and unpatterned; the product of a spectrum of disparate and purposeless forces which we have no choice but to protect our selves from.
Or you believe that there is an order to this world. That there is a system of reality-generation that is comprehensible and regulated; chaperoned by some force unknown and unseen, but which has the verifiable tracings of a system in place.
Of course, there is an infinity spectrum that bridges these two paradigms. The fundamentalist Christian can share a certain brand of certainty about the nature of reality with the molecular biologist.
But when one turns inward from the world, especially as a result of a calling from that deep seat of the soul, they embark on a journey of self-discovery that is both torturously lonely and paradigmatically revelatory. That is to say, what they learn about their ‘self’ and the forces that propel ‘it’ are ultimately understood as the same forces that govern the world.
This is the nature of systems theory. And I believe we live in an immaculate and uncharted system designed to nurture, evolve, and optimize our human ‘being’. Oh, so much could flow from this statement, and it will.
But for now I want to leave you with Jung’s description of the ‘spirits’ that drive and conjure the world we experience, but from two polar frontiers. I challenge you to read this in the context of the time we live in and ask yourself what Jung’s vision holds for us in this time. (I have bolded the lines I marked as important in my transcriptions):
I have learned that in addition to the spirit of this time there is still another spirit at work, namely that which rules the depths of everything contemporary.
The spirit of this time would like to hear of use and value. I also thought this way, and my humanity still thinks this way. But that other spirit forces me nevertheless to speak, beyond justification, use, and meaning.
But I did not consider that the spirit of the depths from time immemorial and for all the future possesses a greater power than the spirit of this time, who changes with the generations.
The spirit of the depths has subjugated all pride and arrogance to the power of judgment. He took away my belief in science, he robbed me of the joy of explaining and ordering things, and he let devotion to the ideals of this time die out in me. He forced me down to the last and simplest things.
The spirit of the depths took my understanding and all my knowledge and placed them at the service of the inexplicable and the paradoxical. He robbed me of speech and writing for everything that was not in his service, namely the melting together of sense and nonsense, which produces the supreme meaning.
But the supreme meaning is the path, the way and the bridge to what is to come.
Read Part 2 of the Jung series, here.
i have come to understand that my reality is generative, not deterministic.
i mean we do not live in a paradigm that is set and pre-determined as we are taught. but rather, one that is generated by the inputs (thoughts, feelings, actions) of the human beings that are generating, or transmitting, it.
further, the engine that generates this reality – from the transmitting being to the experience they are having – is something we have come to lazily call ‘consciousness’, but which is actually a much more quantifiable factor, which can be described as vibratory frequency.
reality is a generative construction that moves from the inside out. not the outside in.
two points about that:
- the best way to understand this way of seeing reality is as an algorithmically-driven platform. in other words, reality is created by highly tuned formulas that convert non-material impulses to a material experiential realm.
- this is confusing for many because we currently inhabit a paradigm that is actually highly deterministic (ie. for 99% of humanity, their experience feels very much beyond their own power of creation). and that is because humans have been conditioned to believe that that is what reality is; something that is generated from outside of them. so we are generating a deterministic reality paradigm. a very tricky business indeed.
so the vast majority of human beings believe we are born into a world paradigm that they cannot change and which they just have to accept. this has unquantifiable impact on the way that we live in the world and what we believe is possible.
the first step toward a reboot of the human operating system is to teach our people that the reality paradigm is generative and thus transactional: which means that we are in a constant state of negotiation with the reality we are experiencing.
it is created by, and for, us.
this is a revelation of the highest (r)evolutionary order. it means any single individual can gain agency in the process of reality-creation by learning about the power their thoughts, emotions, and actions have in creating their moment-to-moment experience.
because what we are experiencing is a direct output of our vibrational state and it can change moment-to-moment based on the nature and content of the vibration we are emitting.
in other words: if reality is generative and transactional, it is transmutable.
the great problem is that certain groups have more generative power than others. and so it is that some can say, “this is your world, i am just living in it.” in most cases, these generator populations have no idea of the power they wield in creating the experience of others. this is by design.
understanding the nature of reality, and our ability to re-orient ourselves within it, will be the key determining factor of whether the human civilization escapes the extinction algorithm we are currently programmed for.
Mabel Collins, Light on the Path