Enlightenment is Necessary

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Image by Claus Sproll

“Our concern is with a new reality — a reality functioning and effectual integrally, in which intensity and action, the effective and the effect co-exist; one where origin, by virtue of “presentiation,” blossoms forth anew; and one in which the present is all-encompassing and entire. Integral reality is the world’s transparency, a perceiving of the world as truth: a mutual perceiving and imparting of truth of the world and of the human and of all that transluces both.”

And, Gebser offers a list of “characteristics” which indicate the integral mutation:

“The whole,
transparency (diaphaneity),
the spiritual (the diaphainon),
the supercession of the ego,
the realization of timelessness,
the realization of temporicity,
the realization of the concept of time,
the realization of time-freedom (the achronon),
the disruption of the merely systematic,
the incursion of dynamics,
the recognition of energy,
the mastery of movement,
the fourth dimension,
the supercession of patriarchy,
the renunciation of dominance and power,
the acquisition of intensity,
clarity (instead of mere wakefulness),
and the transformation of the creative inceptual basis” — Jean Gebser


For the first time, I was part of a texture of life foreign to me.

Without knowing when or how, I moved into profound focus; the direction of the future opened wide its doors. My life seemed whole again and the strains of an unknown melody healed my inmost center. It was glorious.”

— Howard Thurman

Gebser is trying to define a mental state by pointing what it isn’t or what it cancels out. Thurman speaks to the feeling of accessing a state of clarity. Those of us who live in an ever-burgeoning jungle of concepts may never visit this open field of truth. We are waylaid and overwhelmed by beliefs we are handed when we’re too young to raise any questions. The work of deconstruction is something we seldom attempt, we give our allegiance and pass it on to the next generation.

This is how history repeats itself as it flows through our cultures. Changes and adaptations are usually superficial reactions, but don’t get to the crux of things.

We are the results of a modus operandi which reaches back into this mists of time. This is weighty conditioning. The notion that we could see through all the layers of fixed ideas and our dependence on them is daunting. We can’t imagine not being guided by indoctrinated precepts. We imagine that without commandments we would all be criminals.

But love is not a precept. True kindness is not engendered by commandments. In fact it may oppose society’s rules. Taking care of others and nature arises spontaneously from clarity about the reality of others and nature, clarity of suffering and our need to cultivate a state of attention. If we’re put to sleep by our certainties, if we can’t see our connections to the web of existence, if we imagine that other beings don’t feel the same pains we do, we can be stupidly cruel.

That is the mental space our modern culture lives in at the moment. We have to graduate to a level of insight that is aware of our consanguinity with all beings and acts accordingly.

All our social constructs come to bear on this one thing. From politics to business to how we treat the earth and its denizens, we are challenged as a species to see more deeply, to stop using the world as a tool for our own self-aggrandizement.

This is not a new idea. It’s a realization that has been obvious to a minority for centuries, even in our utilitarian culture. We are now challenged to make it visible. It’s a vision that is no longer put forth only by spiritual visionaries. Science is taking it mainstream now. Rational thought carries more weight for us than religion does.

That’s the long way around to get to the heart, but that may be more convincing than the short path of direct perception for most of us. Rationality is our religion, after all.

Written by

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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