M31-SW-Subaru-HST-S1024

My weltanschauung – otherwise known as ‘the philosophy of pathei-mathos’ – is currently (2014-2015) outlined in the following four works, available both in printed format and as pdf files:

° David Myatt: The Numinous Way of Pathei-Mathos. 2013. 82 pages. ISBN 978-1484096642

pdf: https://davidmyatt.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/numinous-way-pathei-mathos.pdf

° David Myatt: Religion, Empathy, and Pathei-Mathos. 2013. 60 pages. ISBN 978-1484097984

pdf: https://davidmyatt.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/myatt-religion-and-pathei-mathos.pdf

° David Myatt: One Vagabond In Exile From The Gods: Some Personal and Metaphysical Musings. 2014. 46 pages. ISBN 978-1502396105.

pdf: https://davidmyatt.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/one-vagabond-pathei-mathos.pdf

° David Myatt: Sarigthersa: Some Recent Essays. 50 pages. ISBN 978-1512137149

pdf: https://davidmyatt.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/dwmyatt-sarigthersa-v7.pdf

°°°

Also of interest may be:

° David Myatt: Understanding And Rejecting Extremism. 58 pages. ISBN 978-1484854266

pdf: https://davidmyatt.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/dwm-rejecting-extremism-v3.pdf

° J.R. Wright & R. Parker: The Mystic Philosophy of David Myatt. 56 pages. ISBN 978-1523930135

pdf: https://davidmyatt.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/mystic-philosophy-myatt-v1a.pdf

The four essays provide an introduction to the philosophy of pathei-mathos.


Image credit: NGC 206, Hubble Space Telescope


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A pdf version (647 kB) of the final draft of the first edition of my Questions of Good, Evil, Honour, and God is available here:

Questions of Good, Evil, Honour, and God

Contents

Part One
°Good and Evil – An Early Christian Perspective
Part Two
°Good and Evil – A Muslim Perspective
°Jurisprudence and Society
°The Modern State
°Good and Evil – The Perspective of Pathei-Mathos
Part Three
°Religion, Law, and The Reformation of Individuals
°Good, Evil, and The Criteria of Progress
Part Four
°Ontology and Denotatum
°The Simple Way of Harmony
Part Five
°A Very Personal Conclusion

°°°

Image credit: NASA-STS107 (Columbia) – Moon over the Atlantic Ocean


Attic Red Figure Vase c. 480 BCE, depicting Athena, in Antikensammlungen, Munich, Germany

Concerning The Development Of The Numinous Way

Background

What I term The Numinous Way, as a philosophy and as a way of life, was not the result of a few or many moments of inspiration striking close together in causal Time as measured by a terran-calendar and thus separated from each other by days, weeks, or even a few years.

Rather, it resulted from some nine years of reflexions, intuitions, and experiences, beginning in 2002 when – for quite a few months – I wandered as a vagabond in the hills and fells of Westmorland and lived in a tent, and during which time I communicated some of my musings, by means of handwritten letters, to a lady living in Oxford whom I had first met well over a decade before.

These musing concerned Nature, our place – as humans – in Nature and the Cosmos; the purpose, if any, of our lives; whether or not the five Aristotelian essentials gave a true understanding of the external world; and whether or not God, or Allah, or some sort of divinity or divinities, existed, and thus – if they did not – whence came mystical insight, knowledge, and understanding, and what value or validity, if any, did such mystical insight, knowledge, and understanding, possess.

During the previous thirty or more years I had occasional intuitions concerning, or feelings, regarding, Nature, divinity, the Cosmos, and ‘the numinous’; insights and feelings which led me to study Taoism, Hellenic culture, Buddhism, the Catholic mystic tradition, and become a Catholic monk. Later on, such intuitions concerning the numinous – and travels in the Sahara Desert – led me to begin a serious study of Islam and were part of the process that led me to convert to that way of life.

But these intuitions, feelings – and the understanding and knowledge they engendered – were or always eventually became secondary to what, since around 1964, I had considered or felt was the purpose of my own life. This was to aid, to assist, in some way the exploration and the colonization of Outer Space, and it was enthusiasm for – the inspiration of – that ideal which led me to seriously study the science of Physics, and then to seek to find what type of society might be able to make that ideal a reality, a seeking initially aided by my study of and enthusiasm for Hellenic culture, a culture – manifest in Greek heroes such as Odysseus and in the warrior society home to the likes of the sons of Atreus – which I came to regard as the ideal prototype for this new society of new explorers and new heroes.

After considering, and then rejecting, the communist society of the Soviet Union [1], an intuition regarding National-Socialist Germany [2] led me to seriously study that society and National-Socialism, a study ended when I peremptorily concluded that I had indeed found the right type of modern society. Thus I became a National-Socialist, with my aim – the purpose of my life – being to aid the foundation of a new National-Socialist State as a prelude to the exploration and the colonization of Outer Space, and thus the creation of a Galactic Imperium, a new Galactic, or Cosmic, Reich.

As I wrote in part one of some autobiographical scribblings issued in 1998 and which were based on some writings of mine dating back to the 1970’s:

“It is the vision of a Galactic Empire which runs through my political life just as it is the quest to find and understand our human identity, and my own identity, and our relation to Nature, which runs through my personal and spiritual life, giving me the two aims which I consistently pursued since I was about thirteen years of age, regardless of where I was, what I was doing and how I was described by others or even by myself…”

For it was this aim of the exploration and the colonization of Outer Space, and my rather schoolboyish enthusiasm for it, which – together with the enjoyment of the struggle – inspired my fanaticism, my extremism, and which re-inspired me when, as sometimes occurred during my NS decades, my enthusiasm for politics, for a political revolution, waned, or when my intuitions, my feelings, concerning the numinous and my love of women – the dual inspiration for most of my poetry – became stronger than my political beliefs and my revolutionary fervour.

The aim, the purpose, this idealization, regarding Outer Space even partly motivated my study of and thence my conversion to Islam in 1998. For example, not long before that conversion, in an essay entitled Foreseeing The Future, I wrote:

” I firmly believe that Islam has the potential to create not only a new civilization, governed according to reason, but also a new Empire which could take on and overthrow the established world-order dedicated as this world-order is to usury, decadence and a god-less materialism […] I also believe that a new Islamic Empire could create the Galactic Empire, or at least lay the foundations of it. Perhaps the first human colonies on another world will have as their flag the Islamic crescent, a flag inscribed with the words, in Arabic, In the Name of Allah, The Compassionate, The Merciful.”

Thus, as when a National-Socialist, I dedicated myself to my ‘new cause’, to an ideal I idealistically carried in the headpiece of my head: the cause of Jihad, of disrupting existing societies as a prelude to manufacturing a new one. In this instance, a resurgent Khilafah.

As with National-Socialism, it was the ideal, the goal, the struggle, which was paramount, important; and I – like the extremist I was – hubriatically placed that goal, that ideal, that struggle for victory, before love, fairness, compassion, reason, and truth, and thus engendered and incited violence, hatred, and killing.

In addition, I always felt myself bound by honour to be loyal to either a cause, an ideology, or to certain individuals and so do the duty I had sworn by oath to do and be loyal to those I had sworn to be loyal to. Hence when doubts about my beliefs arose during my decades as a nazi I always had recourse to honour and so considered myself – even during my time as a monk – as a National-Socialist, albeit, when a monk, as a non-active one for whom there was ultimately no contradiction between the NS ethos and the ethos of a traditional Catholicism, for there was the Reichskonkordat andthe agreement Pope Pius XII reached with Hitler.

During my Muslim years I felt bound by the oath of my Shahadah; an oath which negated my NS beliefs and led me to reject racism and nationalism, and embrace the multi-racialism of the Ummah; and which general oath, together (and importantly) with a personal oath sworn a few years after my conversion, would always – until 2009 – bring me back, or eventually cause me to drift back, to Islam and always remind me of the duty I felt I was, as a Muslim, honour-bound to do.

2002-2006

This drift back toward Islam is what occurred after my musings in 2002. I tried to forget them, a task made difficult when later that year I went to live on a farm and also work on another nearby farm. For that living and such work brought a deep personal contentment and further intuitions and feelings, and a burgeoning understanding, regarding the numinous, and especially concerning Nature; some of which intuitions and feelings I again communicated by means of handwritten letters, mostly to the aforementioned lady.

For a while I saught to find a synthesis, studied Sufism, but was unable to find any satisfactory answers, and thus began an interior struggle, a personal struggle I made some mention of in Myngath. A struggle, a conflict, between my own intuitions, insights, and burgeoning understanding – regarding the numinous and human beings – and the way of faith and belief; between what I felt was a more natural, a more numinous way, and the necessary belief in Allah, the Quran, the Sunnah that Islam, that being Muslim, required.

For a while, faith and belief and duty triumphed; then I wavered, and began to write in more detail about this still as yet unformed ‘numinous way’. Then, yet again honour, duty, and loyalty triumphed – but only a while – for I chanced to meet and then fell in love with a most beautiful, non-Muslim, lady. And it was our relationship – but most of all her tragic death in May 2006 – that intensified my inner struggle and forced me to ask and then answer certain fundamental questions regarding my past and my own nature.

As I wrote at the time:

” Thus do I feel and now know my own stupidity for my arrogant, vain, belief that I could help, assist, change what was […] I know my blame, my shame, my failure, here. Thus am I fully humbled by my own lack of insight; by my lack of knowing; by an understanding of my selfishness and my failure – knowing myself now for the ignorant, arrogant person I was, and am. How hypocritical to teach, to preach, through writings, feeling as I do now the suffering of words.”

I did not like the answers about myself that this tragedy forced me to find; indeed, I did not like myself and so, for a while, clung onto Islam, onto being Muslim; onto the way of faith, of God, of ignoring my own answers, my own feelings, my own intuitions. For there was – or so it then seemed – expiation, redemption, hope, and even some personal comfort, there. But this return to such surety just felt wrong, deeply wrong.

2006-2009

For there was, as I wrote in Myngath,

” …one uncomfortable truth from which even I with all my sophistry could not contrive to hide from myself, even though I tried, for a while. The truth that I am indebted. That I have a debt of personal honour to both Fran and to Sue, who died – thirteen years apart – leaving me bereft of love, replete with sorrow, and somewhat perplexed. A debt to all those other women who, over four decades, I have hurt in a personal way; a debt to the Cosmos itself for the suffering I have caused and inflicted through the unethical pursuit of abstractions.

A debt somehow and in some way – beyond a simple remembrance of them – to especially make the life and death of Sue and Fran worthwhile and full of meaning, as if their tragic early dying meant something to both me, and through my words, my deeds, to others. A debt of change, of learning – in me, so that from my pathei-mathos I might be, should be, a better person; presencing through words, living, thought, and deeds, that simple purity of life felt, touched, known, in those stark moments of the immediacy of their loss.

But this honour, I have so painfully discovered, is not the abstract honour of years, of decades, past that I in my arrogance and stupid adherence to and love of abstractions so foolishly believed in and upheld, being thus, becoming thus, as I was a cause of suffering. No; this instead is the essence of honour, founded in empathy; in an empathy with and thus a compassion for all life, sentient and otherwise. This is instead a being human; being in symbiosis with that-which is the essence of our humanity and which can, could and should, gently evolve us – far away from the primitive unempathic, uncompassionate, beings we have been, and unfortunately often still are; far away from the primitive unempathic, uncompassionate, often violent, person I had been.”

Thus I was prompted – forced – to continue to develope my understanding in what began to be and became my own ‘numinous way’ and which thus and finally and, in 2009 publicly, took me away from Islam and my life as a Muslim.

2009-2012

Given that the essence of The Numinous Way is individual empathy, an individual understanding, the development of an individual judgement, and the living of an ethical way of life where there is an appreciation of the numinous, the more I reflected upon this ‘numinous way’ between 2011 and Spring 2012, the more I not only realized my mistakes, but also that it was necessary to remove, to excise, the detritus that had accumulated around the basic insights and the personal pathei-mathos that inspired me to develope that ‘numinous way’. Mistakes and detritus because for some time, during the development of that ‘numinous way’, I was still in thrall to some abstractions, still thinking in terms of categories and opposites, and still fond of pontificating and generalizing, especially about The State [3]. I therefore began to re-express, in a more philosophical manner, the personal, the individual, the ontological, the ethical and spiritual nature, of The Numinous Way, and thus emphasized the virtues of humility, love, and of wu-wei – of balance, of tolerance, of non-interference, of individual interior (spiritual) reformation, of non-striving, of admitting one’s own uncertitude of understanding and of knowing.

The year-long [2011-2012] process of refinement, correction, and reflexion resulted in me re-naming what remained of my ‘numinous way’ the ‘philosophy of pathei-mathos’, and which philosophy I attempted to outline in the two texts Recuyle of the Philosophy of Pathei-Mathos and Summary of The Philosophy of Pathei-Mathos, the latter of which was also published under the title Conspectus of The Philosophy of Pathei-Mathos.

As I mentioned in Society, Politics, Social Reform, and Pathei-Mathos [Part Four of Reculye of the Philosophy of Pathei-Mathos] –

“Given that the concern of the philosophy of pathei-mathos is the individual and their interior, their spiritual, life, and given that (due to the nature of empathy and pathei-mathos) there is respect for individual judgement, the philosophy of pathei-mathos is apolitical, and thus not concerned with such matters as the theory and practice of governance, nor with changing or reforming society by political means […]

This means that there is no desire and no need to use any confrontational means to directly challenge and confront the authority of existing States since numinous reform and change is personal, individual, non-political, and not organized beyond a limited local level of people personally known. That is, it is of and involves individuals who are personally known to each other working together based on the understanding that it is inner, personal, change – in individuals, of their nature, their character – that is is the ethical, the numinous, way to solve such personal and social problems as exist and arise. That such inner change of necessity comes before any striving for outer change by whatever means, whether such means be termed or classified as political, social, economic, religious. That the only effective, long-lasting, change and reform is understood as the one that evolves human beings and thus changes what, in them, predisposes them, or inclines them toward, doing or what urges them to do, what is dishonourable, undignified, unfair, and uncompassionate.

In practice, this evolution means, in the individual, the cultivation and use of the faculty of empathy, and acquiring the personal virtues of compassion, honour, and love. Which means the inner reformation of individuals, as individuals.

Hence the basis for numinous social change and reform is aiding, helping, assisting individuals in a direct and personal manner, and in practical ways, with such help, assistance, and aid arising because we personally know or are personally concerned about or involved with those individuals or the situations those individuals find themselves in. In brief, being compassionate, empathic, understanding, sensitive, kind, and showing by personal example.”

The Philosophy of Pathei-Mathos

It is the philosophy of pathei-mathos which represents my weltanschauung. For I now consider that most of my writings, my pontifications, concerning ‘the numinous way’ – written haphazardly between 2002 and Spring 2012 – are unhelpful; or of little account; or irrelevant; or hubriatic; or detract from or obscure the basic simplicity of my weltanschauung, a simplicity I have endeavoured to express in Conspectus of The Philosophy of Pathei-Mathos.

 

David Myatt
24th April 2012
(Revised November 2012)

Notes

[1] During this study of communism, in the 1960’s, I began to learn Russian and would regularly listen to communist radio broadcasts such as those from Rundfunk der DDR, something I continued to do for a while even after becoming a National-Socialist. Indeed, on one occasion I wrote a letter to Radio Berlin which, to my surprise, was read out with my questions answered and this – occurring as it did during the Cold War – may well have been when I first came to the attention of the British security services.

[2] As I have mentioned elsewhere – for example, in Myngath – this intuition regarding the Third Reich arose as a result of me reading an account of the actions of Otto Ernst Remer in July of 1944. For I admired his honour and his loyalty and his commitment to the duty he had sworn an oath to do. Here, I felt, was a modern-day Greek hero.

[3] These un-numinous, errorful, hubriatic, pontifications about ‘the state’ included essays such as the reprehensible January 2011 text The Failure and Immoral Nature of The State and the February 2011, text A Brief Numinous View of Religion, Politics, and The State.

Among the abstractions (categories) which needed to be excised from a supposedly abstraction-less and empathic numinous way were ‘the clan’, and ‘culture’, and the divisive category ‘homo hubris’, a divisive category I hubriatically pontificated about in essays such as the 2009 text Homo Hubris and the Disruption of the Numinous, based as that text was on an earlier, 2002, essay.

◊◊◊

A pdf version of this text (c 245 kB) is available here – development-of-the-numinous-way.pdf


Acknowledgements:
This article is based on – and summarizes and/or quotes from – several replies
sent to various correspondents during April of this year (2012)

cc David Myatt 2012
(Second Edition)
This item is covered by the Creative Commons
(Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0) License
and can be freely copied and distributed, under the terms of that license.
Image credit: Attic Vase c. 480 BCE, depicting Athena (Antikensammlungen, Munich, Germany)

Soli Deo Gloria
Being extracts from a letter written in reply
to someone enquiring about the philosophy of The Numinous Way.

 

Since you enquire about the veracity of my Numinous Way, I should perhaps emphasize – as I have mentioned several times over the past few years – that this Way represents only my own fallible answers born from my own pathei-mathos, and that I am acutely aware that the answers of many other Ways, such as Buddhism and the answers of conventional religions such as Catholicism, also in their own particular harmonious manner express something of the numinous and may thus for many people provide a guide to living in a more numinous way.

As I wrote many years ago:

The Numinous Way is but one answer to the questions about existence, [and] does not have some monopoly on truth, nor does it claim any prominence, accepting that all the diverse manifestations of the Numen, all the diverse answers, of the various numinous Ways and religions, have or may have their place, and all perhaps may serve the same ultimate purpose – that of bringing us closer to the ineffable beauty, the ineffable goodness, of life; that of transforming us, reminding us; that of giving us as individuals the chance to cease to cause suffering, to presence the good, to be part of the Numen itself. For what distinguishes a valuable, a good, a numinous Way or religion, is firstly this commitment, however expressed, to the cessation of suffering through means which do not cause more suffering; secondly, having some practical means whereby individuals can transform themselves for the better, and thirdly, possessing some way of presenting, manifesting, presencing what is sacred, what is numinous, thus reconnecting the individual to the source of their being, to their humanity.

In my fallible view, any Way or religion which manifests, which expresses, which guides individuals toward, the numinous humility we human beings need is good, and should not be stridently condemned.

For such personal humility – that which prevents us from committing hubris, whatever the raison d’être, the theology, the philosophy – is a presencing of the numinous. Indeed, one might write and say that it is a personal humility – whatever the source – that expresses our true developed (that is, rational and empathic) human nature and which nature such Ways or religions or mythological allegories remind us of. Hence the formulae, the expression, Soli Deo Gloria being one Western cultural manifestation of a necessary truth, manifesting as it does one particular numinous allegory among many such historical and cultural and mythological allegories. Just as, for example, the sight of King Louis IX walking barefoot to Sainte Chapelle was a symbol of the humility which the Christian faith, correctly understood, saught to cultivate in individuals.

As I mentioned in my essay Humility, Abstractions, and Belief,

One of the great advantages – a manifestation of humanity – of a Way such as Islam and Christianity and Buddhism is that they provide, or can provide, us with the supra-personal perspective, and thus the humility, we human beings require to prevent us veering into and becoming subsumed with the error of hubris.

As it says in the Rule of Saint Benedict:

“ The peak of our endeavour is to achieve profound humility…” Chapter 7, The Value of Humility

As it says in the Quran:

“ The ‘Ibaad of Ar-Rahman [Allah] are those who walk on earth in humility.” 25:63

As it says in the Dhammapada:

“ Yo bâlo maññati bâlyaè paúóitovâpi tena so bâlo ca paúóitamânî sa ve bâloti vuccati.”

” Accepting of themselves, the simple person in their simplicity is wise, although if they pride themselves they are wise, they are simply full of pride. “

Furthermore, such Ways provide such a supra-personal perspective in a manner which is living – that is, these Ways are presented to us as something which has a historical genesis and which lives among us, in our own times, in and through those devoted to them in that dignified manner which makes such people living examples of those tenets, of those Ways. That is, the dignified people who follow such Ways – who are inspired by those Ways to practice humility in their own lives – thus manifest the numinous, the sacred, among us, and so can provide us with practical, and personal, guidance, and a sense of belonging.

Thus, I now have, partly from practical experience, come to apprehend a certain unity, a certain common insight, behind many outwardly differing Ways and religious forms, to the extent that I personally have been considered by some people to be some kind of Buddhist-Taoist-Muslim-Sufi-Catholic-NuminousWay-pagan-mystic hybrid. But in truth, I am merely someone who as a result of pathei-mathos knows their limitations, their fallibility, and thus who empathically resonates with past and present emanations of the numinous, often because of struggling to answer certain questions about our human nature, about our mortal existence, and about the nature of Reality which many others over millennia have also saught to answer.

Since you especially ask about Catholicism in relation to the Numinous Way, all I can say in my experience – having been raised a Catholic and having spent some time as a Catholic monk – is that Catholicism did manifest, and to an extent still does manifest, aspects of the numinous and therefore this particular guide to human living is one which I understand and appreciate as one style of earthly-harmony.

As I wrote a year or so ago:

” The Latin Tridentine Mass of the Catholic Church […] evolved over a certain period of causal time, and became, for many Catholics, the main ritual, or rite, which imbued their ordinary lives with a certain numinosity – a certain awareness of the sacred, with attendance at this rite involving certain customs, such as modest and clean dress, and women covering their heads with a veil. This rite was, in essence, a Mysterium – that is, it embodied not only something holy and somewhat mysterious (such as the Consecration and Communion) but also was wordlessly un-mundane and so re-presented to most of those attending the rite, almost another world, with this re-presentation aided by such things as the use of incense, the ringing of the Sanctus bell, and the genuflexions. In addition, and importantly, the language of this rite was not that of everyday speech, and was not even, any longer, a living changing language, but rather had in many ways become the sacred language of that particular Way.

The Catholic rite endured for centuries and, indeed, to attend this particular rite marked, affirmed and re-affirmed one as a Catholic, as a particular follower of a particular Way, and a Way quite distinct from the schism that became Protestantism [1], a fact which explained, for instance, the decision, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth the First of England, to punish by fine or imprisonment those who attended this rite, and to persecute, accuse of treason, and often execute, those who performed this rite.

However, the reforms imposed by the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican replaced this numinous rite, this Mysterium, with rites and practices redolent of un-numinous Protestantism. Why? Most probably because those involved in such planning and producing and implementing such reforms were swayed by the causal abstractions of “progress” and “relevancy” – desiring as they did and do to be in accord with the causal, material, Zeitgeist of the modern West where numbers of adherents, and conformity to trendy ideas and theories, are regarded as more important than presencing The Numen in a numinous manner. When, that is, some profane causal abstractions come to be regarded as more relevant than experiencing and manifesting the sacred as the sacred.

Yet this does not mean that Catholicism, before the reforms imposed by the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, was or remained a Way, per se. Only that, of all the variants of what are now termed Christianity, it retained a certain numinosity expressed by the original Way; that, through its Mysteriums such as the Tridentine Mass, it still presenced something of The Numen; and that it managed to avoid the worst excesses of the religious attitude, maintaining as it did a monasticism which by its own particular way of life encouraged the cultivation of a genuine, non-dogmatic, humility.” Source – Concerning The Nature of Religion and The Nature of The Numinous Way

As this quote – and the associated footnote – make clear, it is my personal opinion that traditional Catholicism, with its Tridentine Mass and its particular conservative traditions, was a somewhat better, more harmonious, expression of the numinous (a necessary and relevant expression of the numinous), than both Protestantism and the reforms introduced by the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, and which reforms served only to undermine the numinous, to untwist the threads that held together its “hidden soul of harmony”.

 
However, what really matters in my view in respect of considering how we judge and evaluate other Ways and other styles of earthly-harmony (that is, what are often regarded as religious expressions of the numinous), is not so much their veracity as perceived and/or assumed by us during one span or certain spans of causal Time, but rather how those Ways, those expressions, affect people and predispose them toward or guide them toward living in a more numinous manner. That is, by criteria such as humility, avoidance of hubris, compassion, fairness toward others: by those things which express, which manifest, the numinous in us, in terms of our character, our behaviour. Not, that is, by some abstract criteria which we posit and which we with arrogance use to condemn or malign, often based on some vainglorious assumption or need that our own beliefs, our own answers, are the correct ones.

There is thus a tolerance, a respect; a desire not to stridently condemn; an awareness of our own fallibility deriving from our own pathei-mathos and from the numinous perspective, the silent wordless clarity, that such a personal learning from the suffering of experience brings.

All I have tried to do in respect of The Numinous Way is present what I hope is an alternative style of earthly-harmony, and saught to clarify how this alternative differs from others. For instance, in the matter of empathy, of honour, and of seeking to avoid the dogma arising from some causal abstraction or other. As to the veracity of my personal answers, I admit I do not know.

 

David Myatt
June 2011 CE

 

Footnotes:

[1] Catholicism (before the reforms imposed by the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican) represented, in my view, the original Way known as Christianity, and was – at least before those reforms – quite distinct from those schisms which are now known as Protestantism and Orthodox Christianity.  Indeed, distinct enough – until those reforms – to be considered a different Way of Life, a Way evident, for example, in Catholic rites (such as the Tridentine Mass), in monasticism, in Papal authority, in the use of Latin, and in the reverence accorded The Blessed Virgin Mary.

Furthermore, it is my view that the schism now termed Protestantism was a classic example of the religious attitude predominating over numinosity – and thus that it is and was redolent of attempts to reduce The Numen to linear causal abstractions. Thus, Mysteriums such as the Tridentine Mass became replaced with recitation of Scripture in the vernacular and with attempts to rationally explain – according to some abstract causal theory – the mystery of the consecration.

 



A pdf version of this article is available here – Heraclitus-Fragment80


Some Notes on Πόλεμος and Δίκη in Heraclitus B80

εἰδέναι δὲ χρὴ τὸν πόλεμον ἐόντα ξυνόν, καὶ δίκην ἔριν, καὶ γινόμενα πάντα κατ΄ ἔριν καὶ χρεώμενα [χρεών]. Fragmentum 80.

This fragment, attributed to Heraclitus, is generally considered to mean something rather abstract such as: war is everywhere and strife is justice and all that is arises and passes away because of strife.

That is, πόλεμος is regarded as a synonym for either kampf, or more generally, for war. However, I incline toward the view that this older understanding of – the accepted rendition of – πόλεμος is a misinterpretation , and that rather than kampf (struggle), or a general type of strife, or what we now associate with the term war, πόλεμος implies what I have elsewhere termed the acausality (a simultaneity) [1] beyond our causal ideation, and which ideation has separated object from subject, and often abstracted them into seemingly conflicting opposites [2]. Hence my particular interpretation of Fragmentum 53:

Πόλεμος πάντων μὲν πατήρ ἐστι, πάντων δὲ βασιλεύς, καὶ τοὺς μὲν θεοὺς ἔδειξε τοὺς δὲ ἀνθρώπους, τοὺς μὲν δούλους ἐποίησε τοὺς δὲ ἐλευθέρους.

Polemos our genesis, governing us all to bring forth some gods, some mortal beings with some unfettered yet others kept bound.

Hence my interpretation of Fragment 80 – εἰδέναι δὲ χρὴ τὸν πόλεμον ἐόντα ξυνόν, καὶ δίκην ἔριν, καὶ γινόμενα πάντα κατ΄ ἔριν καὶ χρεώμενα [χρεών] – as:

One should be aware that Polemos pervades, with discord δίκη, and that beings are naturally born by discord. [3]

Here, I have deliberately transliterated (instead of translated) πόλεμος, and left δίκη as δίκη – because both πόλεμος and δίκη (written Πόλεμος and, I suggest, Δίκα) should be regarded, like ψυχή (psyche/Psyche) as terms or as principles in their own right (hence the capitalization), and thus imply, suggest, and require, interpretation and explanation, something especially true, in my opinion, regarding Δίκα. To render them blandly by English terms such as ‘war’ and ‘justice’ – which have their own now particular meaning(s) – is in my view erroneous and somewhat lackadaisical. δίκη for instance could be, depending on context: the custom(s) of a folk, judgement (or Judgement personified), the natural and the necessary balance, the correct/customary/ancestral way, and so on.

In respect of Δίκα, I write it thus to intimate a new, a particular and numinous, philosophical principle, and differentiate it from the more general δίκη. As a numinous principle, or axiom, Δίκα thus suggests what lies beyond and what was the genesis of δίκη personified as the goddess, Judgement – the goddess of natural balance, of the ancestral way and ancestral customs.

Thus, Δίκα implies the balance, the reasoned judgement, the thoughtful reasoning – σωφρονεῖν – that πάθει μάθος brings and restores, and which accumulated πάθει μάθος of a particular folk or πόλις forms the basis for their ancestral customs. δίκη is therefore, as the numinous principle Δίκα, what may be said to be a particular and a necessary balance between ἀρετή and ὕβρις – between the ὕβρις that often results when the personal, the natural, quest for ἀρετή becomes unbalanced and excessive.

That is, when ἔρις (discord) is or becomes δίκη – as suggested by Heraclitus in Fragment 80.

In respect of Πόλεμος, it is perhaps interesting that in the recounted tales of Greek mythology attributed to Aesop, and in circulation at the time of Heraclitus, a personified πόλεμος (as the δαίμων of kindred strife) married a personified ὕβρις (as the δαίμων of arrogant pride) [4] and that it was a common folk belief that πόλεμος accompanied ὕβρις – that is, that Polemos followed Hubris around rather than vice versa, causing or bringing ἔρις.

As a result of ἔρις, there often arises πάθει μάθος – that practical and personal knowing, that reasoned understanding which, according to Aeschylus [5] is the new law, the new understanding, given by Zeus to replace the older more religious and dogmatic way of fear and dread, often viewed as Μοῖραι τρίμορφοι μνήμονές τ᾽ Ἐρινύες [6]. A new understanding which Aeschylus saught to explain in the Oresteia.

Therefore one can perhaps understand and appreciate the true and acausal nature of Πόλεμος which, as suggested by Fragment 53, is a natural principle (or ‘energy’ or a manifestation of Being) which affects, or governs, all mortals and which, as suggested by Fragment 80, causes the manifestation of beings from Being (the causal separation of beings) and which natural separation results in ἔρις and thence, as suggested by Fragment 123 [7] a return to Being; a return which can result, as suggested by Fragment 112 [8] arise from thoughtful reasoning [σωφρονεῖν] – and which thoughtful, balanced, reasoning can incline us toward not committing ὕβρις.

David Myatt
April 2011 CE

Notes

[1] For the axiom of acausality, see my Introduction to The Philosophy of The Numen.

[2] For an outline of opposites, refer to my essay The Abstraction of Change as Opposites and Dialectic.

[3] Some alternative renderings of this fragment are:

One should be aware that polemos is pervasive; and discord δίκη, and that beings [our being] quite naturally come-into-being through discord

One should be aware that polemos pervades; with discord δίκη, and that all beings are begotten because of discord.

[4] A δαίμων is not one of the pantheon of major Greek gods – θεοί – but rather a lesser type of divinity who might be assigned by those gods to bring good fortune or misfortune to human beings and/or watch over certain human beings and especially particular numinous (sacred) places.

Furthermore, Polemos was originally the δαίμων of kindred strife, whether familial, or of one’s πόλις (one’s clan and their places of dwelling). Thus, to describe Polemos, as is sometimes done, as the god of conflict (or war), is doubly incorrect.

[5] Agamemnon,174-183.  qv. my essay, From Aeschylus To The Numinous Way – The Numinous Authority of πάθει μάθος

[6] Aeschylus (attributed), Prometheus Bound, 515-6

[7] Φύσις κρύπτεσθαι φιλεῖConcealment accompanies Physis. See my Physis, Nature, Concealment, and Natural Change.

[8] σωφρονεῖν ἀρετὴ μεγίστη, καὶ σοφίη ἀληθέα λέγειν καὶ ποιεῖν κατὰ φύσιν ἐπαίοντας

For this fragment, see my essay The Balance of Physis – Notes on λόγος and ἀληθέα in Heraclitus.


Attic red-figure vase, c. 500-450 BCE, depicting The Horae. Antikenmuseen, Berlin
The Abstraction of Change as Opposites and Dialectic

I – Opposites and Dialectic as Abstractions
II – The Error of Polemos as Kampf
III – Being and Empathy

I – Opposites and Dialectic as Abstractions

For well over a hundred years there has been a belief that some kind of process, or dialectic, between or involving certain, particular, opposites might lead us to answer questions such as Quid est Veritas?, could lead to a certain understanding of ourselves, and may well express something of the true nature of reality, of Being itself. In varying degrees this belief is evident, for instance, in Hegel, Nietzsche (with his Wille zur macht), Marx, and those espousing the doctrine that has been termed Social Darwinism.

In addition, and for a much greater span of causal Time, this belief has been an essential part of certain religions where the process is often expressed eschatologically and in a conjectured conflict between the abstract opposites of ‘good’ and ‘evil’, God and Devil, and such things as demons and angels.

This notion of opposites, of two distinct, separate, things is much in evidence in Plato, and indeed, philosophically, the separation of beings from Being by the process of ideation and opposites may be said to have begun with Plato. For instance, he contrasts πόλεμος with στάσις (Conflict/strife contrasted with stasis/stability) thus:

ἐπὶ μὲν οὖν τῇ τοῦ οἰκείου ἔχθρᾳ στάσις κέκληται, ἐπὶ δὲ τῇ τοῦ ἀλλοτρίου πόλεμος. Rep. V 470b

In respect of these two forms, Plato tries to explain that while there are two terms, two distinct namings – πόλεμος and στάσις – what are so denoted are not just two different names but express what he regards as the reality – the being, οὐσία – of two differing contrasted beings; that is, he posits what we would call two different ideations, or abstractions, creating an abstract (idealized) form for one and an abstract (idealized) form for the other.

Some centuries later, Diogenes Laërtius – apparently paraphrasing Heraclitus – wrote in his Lives of Eminent Philosophers:

πάντα δὲ γίνεσθαι καθ᾽ εἱμαρμένην καὶ διὰ τῆς ἐναντιοδρομίας ἡρμόσθαι τὰ ὄντα (ix. 7)

All by genesis is appropriately apportioned [separated into portions] with beings bound together again by enantiodromia [1].

Which might seem to suggest that a certain mis-understanding of Heraclitus [2]. the ideation of Plato and of later philosophers and theologians, was the genesis of abstractions and of this belief that a so-called conflict of opposites can lead to ‘truth’, and explain the nature of Being and beings.

However, this ideation, this development of abstractions, and this process of a dialectic, led to the philosophical error of the separation of beings from Being so that instead of the revealing that would answer Quid est Veritas? there is ὕβρις with the numinous authority of an individual πάθει μάθος replaced by adherence to some dogmatic dialectical process involving some assumed struggle/conflict. That is, by considering ἀρχὴ as the cause of the abstractions which are opposites and the origin of a dialectic, and which opposites, and which dialectic involving them, are said to manifest the nature of both our being and of Being itself.

This is an error because Πόλεμος is neither kampf nor conflict, but rather – as the quote from Diogenes Laërtius suggests – what lies behind or beyond Phainómenon; that is, non-temporal, non-causal, Being which, though we have have a natural tendency to separate into portions (that is, to perceive beings as only beings), beings themselves become revealed as bound together again by us facing up to the expected contest: that is, to our human nature and to knowing, to developing, to using, our faculty of reasoned judgement – σωφρονεῖν – to uncover, to reveal, via λόγος, the true nature of Δίκα and thus restore ἁρμονίη [3].

That is, instead of this abstraction of a dialectic there is, as I have suggested elsewhere:

A natural process of Change, of ἀρχὴ which we apprehend as Φύσις – as Heraclitus expressed in fragment 112:

σωφρονεῖν ἀρετὴ μεγίστη, καὶ σοφίη ἀληθέα λέγειν καὶ ποιεῖν κατὰ φύσιν ἐπαίοντας.

This suggests that what is most excellent [ ἀρετὴ ] is thoughtful reasoning [σωφρονεῖν] – and that such thoughtful reasoning is a process which not only expresses and uncovers meaning, but which is also in accord with, in harmony or in sympathy with, φύσις – that is, with our own nature as mortals and with the nature of Being itself. [4]

II – The Error of Polemos as Kampf

In a fragment attributed to Heraclitus [5] Πόλεμος is generally regarded as a synonym for either kampf, or more generally, for war; with the fragment then considered to mean something such as: strife (or war) is the father of every-thing. This interpretation is said to compliment another fragment attributed to Heraclitus:

εἰδέναι δὲ χρὴ τὸν πόλεμον ἐόντα ξυνόν, καὶ δίκην ἔριν, καὶ γινόμενα πάντα κατ΄ ἔριν καὶ χρεώμενα [χρεών]. Fragmentum 80.

This is generally considered to mean something abstract such as: war is everywhere and strife is justice and all that is arises and passes away because of strife.

However, I contend that this older understanding of – the accepted rendition of – Πόλεμος is a misinterpretation of Πόλεμος [6], and that rather than kampf (struggle), or a general type of strife, or what we now associate with the term war, Πόλεμος implies the acausality (a simultaneity) beyond our causal ideation, and which ideation has separated object from subject, and often abstracted them into seemingly conflicting opposites. Hence my interpretation of Fragmentum 53:

Πόλεμος πάντων μὲν πατήρ ἐστι, πάντων δὲ βασιλεύς, καὶ τοὺς μὲν θεοὺς ἔδειξε τοὺς δὲ ἀνθρώπους, τοὺς μὲν δούλους ἐποίησε τοὺς δὲ ἐλευθέρους.

Polemos our genesis, governing us all to bring forth some gods, some mortal beings with some unfettered yet others kept bound.

Hence also my interpretation of εἰδέναι δὲ χρὴ τὸν πόλεμον ἐόντα ξυνόν, καὶ δίκην ἔριν, καὶ γινόμενα πάντα κατ΄ ἔριν καὶ χρεώμενα [χρεών] as:

One should be aware that Polemos pervades, with discord δίκη, and that beings are naturally born by discord. [7]

Thus the suggestion is that Πόλεμος is not some abstract ‘war’ or strife or kampf, but not only that which is or becomes the genesis of beings from Being, but also that which manifests as δίκη and accompanies ἔρις because it is the nature of Πόλεμος that beings, born because of and by ἔρις, can be returned to Being (become bound together – be whole – again).

For it is perhaps interesting that in the recounted tales of Greek mythology attributed to Aesop, and in circulation at the time of Heraclitus, a personified πόλεμος (as the δαίμων of kindred strife) married a personified ὕβρις (as the δαίμων of arrogant pride) [8] and that it was a common folk belief that πόλεμος accompanied ὕβρις – that is, that Polemos followed Hubris around rather than vice versa, causing or bringing ἔρις.

As a result of ἔρις, there often arises πάθει μάθος – that practical and personal knowing, that reasoned understanding which, according to Aeschylus [9] is the new law, the new understanding, given by Zeus to replace the older more religious and dogmatic way of fear and dread, often viewed as Μοῖραι τρίμορφοι μνήμονές τ᾽ Ἐρινύες [10]. A new understanding which Aeschylus saught to explain in the Oresteia.

III – Being and Empathy

This understanding is basically that of a particular balance, born from πάθει μάθος (from the personal knowing of the error, the unbalance, that is ὕβρις) and from using reasoned judgement (σωφρονεῖν), and both of which make us aware of the true nature of our φύσις and of Φύσις itself.

In addition, by cultivating and by using our natural faculty of empathy, we can understand both φύσις and Πόλεμος, and thus apprehend Being as Being, and the nature of beings – and in particular the nature of our being, as mortals. For empathy reveals to us the acausality of Being [11] and thus how the process of abstraction, involving as it does an imposition of causality and separation upon beings (and the ideation implicit on opposites and dialectic), is a covering-up of Being and of Πόλεμος and thus involves a mis-understanding of both Δίκα and of φύσις.

In place of the numinosity of ψυχή – of Life qua being – there is, for the apprehension that is a dialectic of opposites, the hubris of abstractions, and thus a loss of our natural balance, a loss of ἁρμονίη [12] and συμπάθεια.

David Myatt
2011
(Revised 2012)

Notes:

[1] I have used a transliteration of the compound Greek word – ἐναντιοδρομίας – rather than given a particular translation, since the term enantiodromia in my view suggests the uniqueness of expression of the original, and which original in my view is not adequately, and most certainly not accurately, described by a usual translation such as ‘conflict of opposites’. Rather, what is suggested is ‘confrontational contest’ – that is, by facing up to the expected/planned/inevitable contest.

Interestingly, Carl Jung – who was familiar with the sayings of Heraclitus – used the term enantiodromia to describe the emergence of a trait (of character) to offset another trait and so restore a certain psychological balance within the individual.

[2] Refer to my Heraclitus – Some Translations and Notes. (Fifth Edition, 2012)

[3] While Φύσις (Physis) has a natural tendency to become covered up (Heraclitus, Fragment 123) it can be uncovered through λόγος and πάθει μάθος.

[4] In Empathy and The Immoral Abstraction of Race

[5] Πόλεμος πάντων μὲν πατήρ ἐστι, πάντων δὲ βασιλεύς, καὶ τοὺς μὲν θεοὺς ἔδειξε τοὺς δὲ ἀνθρώπους, τοὺς μὲν δούλους ἐποίησε τοὺς δὲ ἐλευθέρους. Fragmentum 53.

[6] See my Heraclitus – Some Translations and Notes (Fifth Edition, 2012) where I suggest a new interpretation of Fragmentum 53: Polemos our genesis, governing us all to bring forth some gods, some mortal beings with some unfettered yet others kept bound.

[7] I have deliberately transliterated (instead of translated) polemos, and left δίκη as δίκη.

Alternative renderings of the fragment are:

a) One should be aware that polemos is pervasive; and discord δίκη, and that beings [our being] quite naturally come-into-being through discord

b) One should be aware that polemos pervades; with discord δίκη, and that all beings are begotten because of discord.

[8] Correctly understood, a δαίμων is not one of the pantheon of major Greek gods – θεοί – but rather a lesser type of divinity who might be assigned by those gods to bring good fortune or misfortune to human beings and/or watch over certain human beings and especially particular numinous (sacred) places.

In addition, Polemos was originally the δαίμων of kindred strife, whether familial, or of one’s πόλις (one’s clan and their places of dwelling). Thus, to describe Polemos, as is sometimes done, as the god of conflict (or war), is doubly incorrect.

It is interesting to observe how the term δαίμων – with and after Plato, and especially by its use by the early Christian Church – came to be a moral abstraction, used in a bad sense (as ‘demon’), and contrasted with another moral abstraction, that of ‘angels’. Indeed, this process – this change – with this particular term is a reasonable metaphor for what we may call the manufacture and development of abstractions, and in which development the ontology and theology of an organized monotheistic religion played a not insignificant part.

[9] Agamemnon,174-183. qv. Pathei-Mathos as Authority and Way in The Way of Pathei-Mathos.

[10] Aeschylus (attributed), Prometheus Bound, 515-6

[11] qv. The Nature of Being and of Beings in The Way of Pathei-Mathos.

[12] The numinous is what predisposes us not to commit ὕβρις – that is, what continues or maintains or manifests ἁρμονίη and thus καλλός; the natural balance – sans abstractions – that enables us to know and appreciate, and which uncovers, Φύσις


Image credit:

Attic red-figure vase, c. 500-450 BCE, depicting The Horae. Antikenmuseen, Berlin


A pdf file of this article is available here – In Pursuit of Wisdom


In Pursuit of Wisdom

For thousands of years, we human beings have been aware – or could discover, for ourselves – a certain wisdom, a particular conscious knowledge concerning our own nature.

From Aeschylus to Sophocles to Siddhārtha Gautama, from the mythos of the Μοῖραι [1] to the postulate of samsara, from the notion of Fate to the Sermon on the Mount, and beyond, we have had available to us an understanding of Δίκα [2]: of how we human beings are often balanced between honour and dishonour; balanced between ὕβρις and ἀρετή; between our animalistic desires, our passions, and our human ability to be noble, to achieve excellence; a balance manifest in our known ability to be able to control, to restrain, ourselves, and thus find and follow a middle way, of ἁρμονίη.

For several Aeons, this understanding, this middle way, was of two essential things. First, of how such a middle way enabled us to avoid causing or contributing to that suffering which our own πάθει μάθος – our learning from the sorrows of personal experience – informed us was unwise because contrary to the natural balance (the numinosity) that such πάθει μάθος intimately revealed to us. Second, of how this balance – this self control – was preferable for us, as individuals, since to upset this balance – for example to go beyond the limits established by our ancestral customs – was: (1) to invite a personal retribution (or misfortune) from the gods; or (2) to invite punishment from a supreme deity; or (3) condemn us to be reborn again and thus have to toil yet again to obtain reward (karma) enough to progress in accord with the bhavacakra.

As Sophocles wrote, over two thousand years ago – ὕβρις φυτεύει τύραννον [3]. That is, ὕβρις (hubris) plants the τύραννον, although the sense of τύραννος here is not exactly what our fairly modern term tyrant is commonly regarded as imputing. Rather, it refers to the intemperate person of excess who is so subsumed with some passion or aim or a lust for power that they go far beyond the due, the accepted, bounds of behaviour and thus exceed the limits of or misuse whatever authority they have been entrusted with. Thus do they, by their excess, by their disrespect for the customs of their ancestors, by their lack of reasoned, well-balanced, judgement [σωφρονεῖν] offend the gods, and thus, to restore the balance, do the Ἐρινύες take revenge. For it is in the nature of the τύραννος that they forget, or they scorn, the truth, the ancient wisdom, that their lives are subject to, guided by, Μοῖραι τρίμορφοι μνήμονές τ᾽ Ἐρινύες.

Λυκοῦργος and the Ἐρινύες

Thus the knowledge that our pride, our arrogance, our uncontrolled desires, our lack of σωφρονεῖν, are the genesis of the disruption of the natural balance – both within ourselves, and exterior to ourselves.

Or, as Milton expressed it in the terms of one particular mythos:

The infernal Serpent; he it was, whose guile,
Stirred up with envy and revenge, deceived
The mother of mankind.

The received wisdom was personal avoidance of the error of ὕβρις because we, we individuals and possibly our immediate family, would suffer: either in this life (by for example receiving bad luck, inviting misfortune, or having some tyrant foisted upon our community) or in some afterlife we believed in. Hence what we would now describe as ethical behaviour, for individuals – our control of our instincts, our desires – essentially derived from something supra-personal, such as ancestral customs, some belief in some gods, some faith in some supreme deity, or acceptance of some postulate such as karma or nirvana. In the terms of Christian theology, the belief being that we need to replace the guidance, the temptations, the guile, of The Infernal Serpent with the guidance, the love, of Christus Redemptor.

More recently, we human beings have committed a new kind of ὕβρις. Or more correctly perhaps, our ὕβρις has acquired a new form, new manifestations. That is, we have manufactured causal abstractions – ideals, ideas, -isms and -ologies – which we have identified with and/or striven to attain, both for ourselves, and for others; so that it has become apposite to write that causal abstractions are the genesis of suffering, for both ourselves, and for others. because such abstractions disrupt the natural balance of Life [ψυχή]: the life within us, within other sentient beings, and the Life that is presenced to us as Nature, leading thus to a loss of ἁρμονίη. This kind of ὕβρις also plants the τύραννος, but the impersonal kind of τύραννος that lives in the practical implementation of such abstractions, internally and externally – so that, for instance, we allow ourselves to become subjects of some -ism or some -ology (whether described as or deemed to be political, social, or religious) or we become actual subjects of some impersonal entity such as a State, controlled, constrained, by laws, taxation, and the ever-present threat of the use of force by the ‘officially appointed’ minions of such an entity, so that such an impersonal entity has, in all but name, usurped our older gods, our Μοῖραι, our God, our karma.

Thus, the reality now is often of either (1) obedience to the dictat of some entity such as The State, our government, or the mandates of some supra-national body such as the United Nations, because to dissent would render us liable to punishment; or (2) a belief in – an acceptance of – such entities as the provider of ‘good fortune’, of ‘justice’ [4], and of prosperity, for us and our family.

Here, the threat of exterior, practical, punishment – the always present threat of imprisonment, the use of force against us by such entities as the Police, and ultimately the armed forces – has largely replaced the interior threat we hitherto might have imposed upon ourselves by our acceptance of such things as retribution from the gods, or punishment from some supreme deity. That is, ethical behaviour, for individuals still essentially derives from something supra-personal involving an us and them, the others.

The Pursuit of Wisdom

Despite these approaches, ancient and modern – that is, despite the ethical behaviour these two approaches encouraged and even demand, or tried to encourage – human beings, en masse, do not seem to have significantly changed. Thus, the world is still replete with individuals who cannot control their desires and who thus commit dishonourable deeds, the error of ὕβρις. For every minute of every day, year following year, human beings are murdered, brutalized, bullied, raped, injured, tortured, humiliated, abused – just as deception, theft, robbery, fraud, and malfeasance, occur with monotonous regularity.

The world is still rife with bloody murderous conflict, except that new causes of conflict have been added to the ancient ones of personal greed, personal dishonour, and the desires of some τύραννος or other. For the new entities that we have manufactured – such as nation-States – have themselves caused suffering, of a magnitude arguably greater than caused by some τύραννος and far greater than could be caused by individuals unable to control their dishonourable urges, their greed. For example, conflicts between the modern nation-States of the West, and internal conflict within such States, have resulted in the deaths of an estimated one hundred million human beings in just over a century [4].

Thus, it seems as if the ancient wisdom of Δίκα has remained the preserve of a minority, and thus that the accumulated πάθει μάθος of millennia – manifest in such things as literature, Art, music, ancestral culture, and spiritual Ways of Life – has little or no relevance for or been a significant influence upon the majority, even in those modern States which have had, for nigh on a century, compulsory education for children. [5]

Since murderous conflict, the error of ὕβρις, and a lack of reasoned judgement, and thus suffering, remain – despite a variety of middle ways over millennia to divert us from such things, and despite numerous individuals over millennia, in their own ways, understanding Amr bil Maroof wa Nahi anil Munkar [6] – it is perhaps pertinent to consider if there is, or might be, a better expression of that wisdom, that particular conscious knowledge, concerning our own nature and how we might find and express that balance which enables us to restrain ourselves and avoid the error of ὕβρις.

That is, is there a Way which does not mean or imply a belief in some ancient mythos, or demand of us some faith in some supreme deity and some afterlife, or involve us in obedience to some supra-personal entity whose authority ultimately derives from the threat or the use of force or acceptance of some suffering-causing -ism or -ology whose nature is enshrined in the cliché that the abstraction of happiness, the abstraction of the welfare, the abstraction of the security, the abstraction of the prosperity, of the majority is more important than the fate of some individuals, and that thus for such abstractions to be obtained, in some (mythical) future the suffering of some or even of many individuals is an ‘acceptable price’ to pay?

In brief, a Way which does not of necessity involve us in considering matters as we have hitherto almost invariably done: by whether or not we, as individuals, are rewarded or punished (in this life, or in some believed in afterlife). That is, which does not of necessity posit some personal abstraction for us to accept or believe in – be such an abstraction some personal prosperity or some peace (in this or some next life such as Heaven or Jannah), or some supreme deity, or some notion such as nirvana or even some mythos such as Μοῖραι τρίμορφοι μνήμονές τ᾽ Ἐρινύες.

For such things – and the middle ways derived from them in the past – are, correctly appreciated and thence understood, only pointers toward a deeper truth, which is that of the error of the self, and an error revealed by the nature of the causality implicit in this individual desire to seek some reward and avoid punishment, or, in Buddhism, avoid the periodicity of samsara.

Even in Buddhism, where this truth concerning the self has been dis-covered, revealed, in a rather rational manner, the practical reality for the majority is of individual striving, and the assumption of a goal for individuals. Hence the reason of the individual doing what they do – meditation, giving alms, striving to avoid causing suffering, for example – because they themselves seek liberation, nirvana; because they are concerned about their karma. Thus there is still a judgement based on the concept of individual reward. Hence, also, the striving for a posited goal, a striving exemplified by the bhavacakra.

The Error of The Self and The Natural Balance of Empathy

The error of the self is the error of a simple cause-and-effect predicated on the separation of living beings and upon a separate goal which the separated individual could attain by a given causal process.

Thus, and for example in Buddhism, the goal is nirvana and the process the Eight-Fold Path; in Christianity the goal is Heaven and the process is acceptance of Christus Redemptor; in Islam the goal is Jannah and the process is complete submission to Allah (and acceptance of Quran, Sunnah, and Shariah); in Hellenic culture the goal was ἀρετή (and thence a good place in Hades) by means such as avoidance of ὕβρις. In modern times, for the plethora of agnostics and atheists, the goal is happiness/prosperity by means such as The State, whether actively or passively accepted [7].

This assumption of self – of the separation of living beings, and such a causal process – is inherent in most if not all hitherto spiritual Ways which posit and require a praxis, and in the modern abstraction of The State, and also forms the basis of the ethics deriving from such Ways as well as the ethics of that modern abstraction. That is, either (1) The State defines what is moral, by means such as enforceable laws, or (2) such spiritual Ways posit what is moral based on their particular given goal and their given causal process and praxis of achieving that goal.

Why is this assumption of self an error? Because of empathy, which uncovers the nature of Being and beings that has hitherto been obscured by such spiritual Ways and by abstractions such as The State. For empathy – the innate (if still little used and underdeveloped) human faculty of συμπάθεια [συν-πάθος] – reveals the separation of living beings for the assumption, the limitation, it is.

For empathy reveals the a-causal nature (the numinous nature) of living beings – and the nexions that they are to Being, thus establishing a human ethics independent of the hitherto assumed cause-and-effect of separate human beings striving for some assumed goal by means of some given causal process.

Empathy thus establishes a new (or possibly a re-expressed older) understanding of our human nature – both existing and potential – and a new (or possibly a re-expressed older) knowing of how we might avoid ὕβρις and thus the suffering that ὕβρις brings. This understanding and knowing is of the numinous manifest in the indivisibility of living beings: of how the joy, the pain, the sorrow, the suffering, the very life, of what has hitherto been causally perceived as the-separate-others is in essence our joy, pain, sorrow, suffering, and life. For this, this natural balance, this ἁρμονίη, is what empathy, in the living moment, reveals – or rather what empathy by its very nature naturally and wordlessly and effortlessly moves us toward: what empathy brings-into-being.

Hence the empathic human being avoids Al-Munkar (and thus avoids causing suffering), and inclines toward Al-Maruf, just by being human – by using the faculty of empathy in the same way the faculties of sight, smell, taste, touch are used. That is, naturally as wordless perceptions of what-is, and not of what is assumed or believed. There is thus no naming and no ideation necessary or involved in this use of empathy; only a living in the transient moment. For it is not correct to give names to – to denote by names and terms – some-things, some existents; since such naming, such denoting, implies the causality of separation between subject and object, and it is this causality that empathy transcends.

There are therefore no given or assumed causal means – no techniques, methods, or teachings, no praxis, no texts, no faith in some-thing or some-one – as there is no goal, assumed and/or to be striven for. There is only empathy, and its development and use: only the empathy of the living changeful transient moment, and us-as-Being (The Numen, the acausal Unity, The Cosmos) presenced, temporarily, as one living nexion (one being) on one planet orbiting one star in one Galaxy.

How then to develope, to cultivate, empathy? By letting-go of all abstractions (all -isms and all -ologies). By ceasing to denote living beings by causal terms but instead perceiving them wordlessly in the moment of our perception. By ceasing to prejudge other human beings, either by some outer perceived form/appearance or by some assumption or assumptions manufactured or made by others – and instead relating to them as hitherto newly-known beings in the natural immediacy of the moment of our meeting with them. By placing ourselves in The Cosmic Perspective – that is, by an acceptance of ourselves as but one fragile fallible microcosmic nexion only temporarily presenced on one planet orbiting one star in one Galaxy in a Cosmos of billions of Galaxies. This is the essence of wu-wei – a knowing, a feeling, of Being; a knowing, a feeling, of The Numen, the acausal Unity, the Cosmos itself; and a knowing, a feeling, once described in that ancient wisdom termed Tao, and yet which even then, as now, could not and cannot be described by or contained within that one, or any, particular term.

David Myatt
2011 CE

Notes

[1]

τίς οὖν ἀνάγκης ἐστὶν οἰακοστρόφος.
Μοῖραι τρίμορφοι μνήμονές τ᾽ Ἐρινύες

Who then compels to steer us?
Trimorphed Moirai with their ever-heedful Furies!

Aeschylus (attributed), Prometheus Bound, 515-6

[2] In respect of Δίκα, see for example my Principle of Δίκα, and also my essay Quid Est Veritas?

[3] Oedipus Tyrannus, 872

[4] The modern notion of an impersonal abstract ‘justice’ – said to be obtainable by the making and enforcement of laws – has replaced the older, wiser, personal notion of the natural balance which was manifest in Δίκα and in the Ἐρινύες.

[4] For example, sixty million people in the Second World War, sixteen million in the First World War, and over twenty million in the Soviet Union mostly as a result of Stalin. Estimates of the number of people killed by the Mongol tyrant Genghis Khan range from a possible fifteen to twenty million, to a speculative eighty million.

[5] For an overview of the failure of the modern State, refer to my polemical essay, The Failure and Immoral Nature of The State.

[6]

وَلْتَكُن مِّنكُمْ أُمَّةٌ يَدْعُونَ إِلَى الْخَيْرِ وَيَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ  وَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ

(Quran, 3:104) ” Let there rise among you a group Calling others to Al-Maruf [the honourable] and forbidding Al-Munkar [what is dishonourable], for these are the ones who will achieve success [Jannah].” Interpretation of Meaning

[7] Such happiness/prosperity of the majority – together with what is termed their ‘security’ – may be said to be the stated or the assumed raison d’etre of The State. Given that in modern times most human beings live in areas where States have assumed or obtained ‘authority’ over them, by whatever means, it might well be argued that The State with its aims and goals (based on some and various -isms and -ologies, including that of δημοκρατία) has, for those uncommitted to spiritual Ways, become an idealized weltanschauung supplanting more spiritual Ways, and a weltanschauung when not actively affirmed is at least passively accepted by a majority of such uncommitted, non-religious, ones – and even by many religious ones in agreement with that modern abstract division between State and Religion which many supporters and/or theorists of The State assume exists or believe should exist.


cc David Myatt 2011 CE
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