The destiny of Western culture: An open letter to Peter Kingsley

"Well over two thousand years ago, science as we know it was offered to the West with a warning tag attached to it: Use this, but don't be tricked by it. And of course, impatient little children that we are, we tore off the tag and ignored the warning."
Peter Kingsley, in Reality (2003).

One of the more salient intellectual events of 2019 for me, personally, was my discovery of the work of Peter Kingsley. Earlier this year, a friend gifted me a book by Kingsley, having perspicaciously suspected it would resonate with me at some level. And it surely did, for which I am deeply grateful to my friend (you know who you are). Unlike most of the books I read—which I tend to regard rather soberly and coolly—Kingsley's work left me irate, inspired, bemused, delighted and a few other things, all at the same time. Whatever the case, I am anything but indifferent to it, which is probably the greatest compliment I could pay to any author.

More importantly, Kingsley's work helped me situate my own in a historical context. It has become clearer to me what it is, exactly, that I am trying to do, where it fits in the long line of Western thought, what role it is supposed to play in our culture, and what the ultimate purpose of doing it is. I see the path ahead more clearly, have a sharper sense of direction for my work, and recognize how it ultimately comes together with that of others. This is what I'd like to discuss in this long post, which is doubtlessly the most important of the year.

In what follows, I refer to two books by Kingsley: Reality (2003) and Catafalque (2018). For the sake of simplicity, I shall cite them as 'R' and 'C,' respectively.


A culture's source and telos

Kingsley's central premise is that all cultures have a sacred source and purpose, including our own Western civilization: "everything, absolutely everything, anyone can name that makes our so-called civilization unique has a sacred source—a sacred purpose" (C: 228). The seed of every culture, including our own, is planted not through mere chance, habit or deliberate planning, but instead through visionary experience in altered states of consciousness. It is prophets who learn, and then inform us of, what our purpose is: "western civilization, just like any other, came into being out of prophecy; from revelation" (C: 231).

In our case, we can trace our roots back to visionary Greek philosopher-poets living in southern Italy about two and a half thousand years ago, particularly Parmenides. In Parmenides' poem On Nature we can find the origins of our Western culture. Uniquely, however, we are the only civilization that has neglected and forgotten its origin: "nowhere on this planet are you going to find one single traditional culture that doesn't remember ... having its sacred purpose and source" (C: 230).

Misunderstanding Parmenides

Indeed, Kingsley claims that we in the West have been misinterpreting and misrepresenting Parmenides' ideas since Plato, and modern scholarship has compounded the problem even further. Parmenides is seen as the founder of logic and rationality, of our particular way of discriminating truth from untruth, fact from fiction, through reasoning. According to this mainstream view, the Promethean powers of Western science, as embodied in technology, are the culmination of a way of thinking, feeling and behaving that can be traced back to Parmenides' manner of argumentation in his famous poem.

But Kingsley argues very persuasively (R: 1-306) that what Parmenides was trying to say was nothing of the kind. According to him, logic for Parmenides wasn't a formal system based on fixed axioms and theorems, meant to help us discern true from false ideas about reality; it wasn't grounded in some metaphysically primary realm of absolutes akin to Platonic Forms; it didn't derive its validity from some external reference. In summary, Kingsley argues that, for Parmenides, logic wasn't what we now call reason, but something much broader, deeper, unconstrained by fixed rules and formalisms.

True logic as incantation

As a matter of fact, according to Kingsley Parmenides' logic was a kind of incantation. The idea is that we live in a world of illusions, caught up in our own internal narratives and made-up categories about what is going on, completely oblivious to the true world that surrounds us and from which we derive our very being—i.e. reality. This illusion is unfathomably persuasive, has tremendous power and momentum. So to help one see through it and ultimately overcome it, an even more persuasive rhetorical device is required, a kind of spell or incantation woven with words, meant to disrupt our ordinary mental processes by poking them in just the right spots. This incantation is the true logic Parmenides gifted us: "We were dragged into this illusion by a force far greater than ourselves. Something even stronger has to drag us out. That's what logic is" (R: 143). True logic is thus a kind of spell meant to trick our internal story-telling, make it catch itself in contradiction and thereby release its grip, so we can escape the illusion. But unlike ordinary logic or reason, true logic is not grounded in fixed or absolute axioms and rules of derivation. It is malleable, flexible, not bound to external references. A 'logical' argument in this sense is whatever argument will actually persuade its target, whatever it takes.

This is a critical point, so allow me to belabor it a bit. If I were to use Parmenides' true logic on you, I would weave whatever argument line I felt would be compelling to you, irrespective of whether the argument is strictly rational or not, strictly consistent with a given set of fixed axioms or not. The ultimate goal of true logic is way too pragmatic for that: it is to get you out of the bind in which you continuously tie yourself up. True logic, thus, is a rhetorical incantation meant to be more persuasive than our inner narratives and categories. In essence, it is a semantic trick meant to break the spell of illusion, like cracking a crystal by gently tapping on it in just the right spot.

Kingsley explains that, for Parmenides, there were only two ways to approach reality: either we judge that everything we feel, think, perceive, imagine or otherwise experience exists as such—regardless of any correspondence with objective facts—or we must ultimately dismiss everything as non-existing. The latter option goes nowhere, for obvious reasons, which leaves only one viable path. The bind we find ourselves in is due to our hopeless attempt to find some compromise or middle ground between those two canonical options: we try to discriminate which of our mental states correspond to actual existents—i.e. to some external reference—and which don't. This, according to Kingsley's interpretation of Parmenides, is the core of the illusion. And true logic is a rhetorical tool meant to show that all such discriminations—if pursued consistently to their final implications—are ultimately self-defeating.

Parmenides' metaphysics

The implicit metaphysics being adopted here is, of course, subjective idealism: "for Greeks, the world of the gods [i.e. reality] had one very particular feature. This is that simply to think something is to make it exist: is to make it real" (R: 71-72). Therefore, "whatever we are aware of is, whatever we perceive or notice is, whatever we think of is" (R: 77). Everything that has mental existence exists as such—i.e. as a mental existent—and there is no other way in which it can exist: "There is nothing that exists except what can be thought or perceived" (R: 78). Therefore, the use of reason to discriminate between what exists from what doesn't exist is, well, ultimately unreasonable: "To choose good thoughts is to reject the bad ones—and to reject something is to entertain it, is to make it exist" (R: 80). The act of deciding that something does not, or cannot, exist immediately backfires and makes it exist, by the mere fact that the act forces us to think it into existence to begin with. Reason, as we normally apply it, is thus ultimately incoherent, even though it has its practical applications within the context of the illusion.

It is the subjective idealism he attributes to Parmenides that renders Kingsley's interpretation plausible and internally consistent: subjective idealism does away with the correspondence theory of truth, according to which mental states that correspond to objective facts are true, whereas those that don't aren't. Once these external references are done away with, all criteria of truth and existence become internal ones, and thus logic boils down to persuasion: what exists or is true is whatever mind has been persuaded to make exist or true. There is nothing outside mind, no objective facts out there, to make it otherwise. This is important, so allow me to repeat it: without external references, such as objective facts, logic boils down to persuasion; there is nothing else it can be.

Kingsley explains: "facts are of absolutely no significance in themselves: it's just as easy to get lost in facts as it is to get lost in fictions. ... All our facts, like all our reasoning, are just a façade" (R: 21-22), they hide something more essential behind them. And this 'something' is reality: pure stillness, a realm in which nothing ever moves or changes, in which everything is intrinsically connected to everything else in an indivisible whole, and where no time but the eternal present exists. That's why true logic is "a magical lure drawing us into oneness" (R: 144)—i.e. back to reality. But what is the metaphysical ground of this reality? It is consciousness: "Wherever it seems that you go, or come, everything happens in your consciousness. And that consciousness never moves, is always the same" (R: 80).

Notice that Kingsley's attribution of subjective idealism to Parmenides is based on the implicit assumption that the consciousness in question isn't just your or my personal consciousness alone; it is, instead, a transpersonal, universal consciousness within which all existence unfolds. Kingsley: "our thoughts are not ours; never have been. They are simply reality thinking itself" (R: 80); reality, or consciousness, is "utterly impersonal" (R: 160). Therefore, from the point of view of seemingly personal, individual minds, such as yours and mine, the idealism in question is actually objective idealism, such as the one I pursue in the body of my work. It is crucial to keep this understanding in mind, otherwise you will dismiss Kingsley's story way too quickly. His metaphysics isn't solipsism; he isn't saying that reality is your personal dream, or the materialization of your egotistic fantasies; he is not giving the ego divine powers of creation.

Reason is not true logic

Kingsley explains that, because we have historically misinterpreted and misrepresented Parmenides' intended meaning, we've ended up conjuring up reason out of what was meant to be true logic. But reason is a tool precisely for discriminating between mental states that correspond to ostensive external facts from those that don't. Under the metaphysical view that to think is to make exist, such discrimination is incoherent.

Therefore, by misunderstanding true logic, we've also departed from what was meant to be Western culture's foundational metaphysics. We've invented external references outside consciousness—i.e. outside reality—such as matter, energy, space and time. And then we've forced true logic "to operate, distorted and disfigured, in the world it had been designed to undermine" (R: 144). The result is reason, the rational discrimination of fact from fiction in an ostensively autonomous material world independent of consciousness.

For Kingsley, it is reason that keeps us stuck in the middle ground between the two canonical paths—namely, between judging either that everything we can conceive of exists as such, or that nothing exists. This, according to him, is the seminal mistake that has put our entire culture on the wrong footing. Logic is no longer regarded as a magical incantation meant to persuade us out of illusion, but has turned into a tool for perpetuating the illusion: "All our attempts to discriminate between reality and deception or between truth and illusion are exactly what keeps on tricking us" (R: 211).

The telos of Western culture

But what was it that we were originally supposed to do? What goal are we supposed to pursue? What is the "burning purpose at the heart of our Western world" (C: 205)?

Kingsley is not terribly explicit about it, but he does drop enough hints. For instance, he says that the modern attitude towards the divine can be summarized in the words,
“Let’s make sure the divine takes good care of us. But as for finding what, in reality, the divine might possibly need: let it look after itself.” From here onwards one can sit back and watch how the idea of looking after the gods starts, almost by magic, vanishing from the western world. ... And now it never for a moment occurs to us that the divine might be suffering, aching from our neglect; that the sacred desperately longs for our attention far more than we in some occasional, unconscious spasm might feel a brief burst of embarrassed longing for it. (C: 29-30)
The suggestion is that the meaning and purpose of our lives is to help fulfill some divine need, which can only be fulfilled in, or by means of, the state of consciousness we call life. This is reinforced by the fact that Kingsley overtly associates himself with the thought of Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, particularly Jung's book Answer to Job. And in that book, we find Jung saying:
what does man posses that God does not have? Because of his littleness, puniness, and defencelessness against the Almighty, he possesses ... a somewhat keener consciousness based on self-reflection: he must, in order to survive, always be mindful of his impotence. God has no need of this circumspection, for nowhere does he come up against an insuperable obstacle that would force him to hesitate and hence make him reflect on himself.
It seems to me that all cultures have the purpose to serve the divine by means of the state of consciousness we call life, the latter not being available to the divine itself. But each culture is meant to fulfill this sacred task in its own particular way, according to its own particular dispositions or strengths. In the case of Western culture, our strength is our sharply developed meta-cognition, or self-reflection; our introspective ability to turn our own thoughts, emotions, perceptions and fantasies into objects of thought, recursively. Western culture is thus meant to serve the divine by contributing to it the meta-cognitive insight of self-realization: through us and our Western science—"a gift offered by the gods with a sacred purpose" (C: 229)—the divine recognizes itself.

The failure of the West

However, Kingsley ultimately concludes that we, in the West, have failed in our divine task. We've failed not only because we've misunderstood Parmenides—and thus bungled our metaphysics and became unable to properly use the sacred tool we were given, i.e. true logic—but for other, more insidious reasons as well.

Indeed, to serve the divine requires "a deeply religious attitude, the sense that it's all for the sake of something far greater than ourselves" (C: 122). But to nurture and sustain such religious attitude, people must "step out of their personal dramas" (Ibid.). Yet we, in the West, indulge in personal dramas, having conflated individual freedom and expression with egocentrism, even subtle forms of narcissism. We've forgotten that, "as humans we are archetypes" (C: 143), instances of a universal template of being, so that "Whatever we think of as personal is in fact profoundly inhuman, while it's only in the utter objectivity of the impersonal that we find our humanity" (Ibid.).

We've immersed ourselves in the dehumanizing "brutality of our western society with its normality and triviality as well as the hollow emptiness of its surveillance" (C: 230). And "when a culture forces a human to act so automatically, talk so robotically, the humanity inside the person is lost ... Everything can seem to go on working and functioning, for a while. But our role in existence has been hollowed out; our human purpose on this planet turned completely upside down" (C: 434-435). By losing touch with our own humanity, which is what links us with the divine, we've forfeited intimacy with our sacred destiny.

Worse yet, Kingsley maintains that there is no fixing the problem, no rescuing Western culture, no finding our path again: "this world of ours is already dead. It existed for a while, did the best it could, but is nothing more than a lifeless remnant of what it was meant to be. ... And this is the moment for marking, and honouring, the passing of our culture ... to keep on indulging in optimism is a shameless dereliction of our duty" (C: 442).

Well, I am not an optimist... But I don't agree.

De Facto Western culture & the value of error

The first thing to notice is that, although Kingsley has convinced at least me that we did misinterpret Parmenides, and that the correct interpretation is that offered by Kingsley, the fact of the matter is that what we call 'Western culture' embodies and is based on the values, premises and modes of cognition set by Plato, Aristotle, and the rest of the post-socratic philosophers and scientists. According to Kingsley himself, Parmenides was misinterpreted already within a single generation, so there has never being a 'correct' Western culture, so to speak. Factually, even if it is based on a seminal misunderstanding, being Western effectively means what Plato and his successors defined it to be; it has never really meant anything else.

Western culture, it seems to me, has three central, differentiating characteristics:

  1. More than many other cultures, its approach to reality is based on self-reflection, critical meta-cognitive reasoning, so as to discriminate between fact and fiction, truth and falsity; (Empiricism is a relatively recent invention of the late renaissance or early enlightenment, so I won't list it as a central characteristic of the West. We have had, for instance, well over half a millennium of scholasticism, when empiricism played hardly any role.)
  2. More than many other cultures, the West's metaphysics unreservedly acknowledges the existence of personal, individual minds and, therefore, the existence of an objective world out there, outside such individual minds;
  3. More than many other cultures, the West fully embraces the illusion we call the world.
Notice that, although the view that objective facts are material has dominated Western culture for the past couple of centuries, over the more than two millennia of its existence the West has also entertained other possibilities: Western idealists, for instance, posit that objective facts are grounded in a transpersonal mind, whereas Western computationalists posit that they are grounded in pure information.

Now, I acknowledge that the three characteristics listed above are not what Parmenides intended. Moreover, I also acknowledge that they are all ultimately illusory: logic is largely a mental invention, not a Platonic absolute; the very distinction between my personal mind and the world out there is ultimately illusory; and the physical things I perceive are mere representations, not essence.

But I don't think that these Western errors are a waste of time either. Wisdom sometimes comes only with error, as any wounded healer will know. Sometimes a misstep is more useful and important than the correct way forward, because of the experiences and insights it creates the space for. Getting to the right answer only after having exhaustively tried, and failed with, seductive but wrong ones arguably leads to a deeper, fuller insight than getting things right first time round. For in the former case, one is more intimately acquainted with why and how those seductive answers are actually wrong, and therefore has an equally fuller comprehension of the right answer.

More specifically, by having embraced objective facts and reasoning fully, unreservedly, we are making sure that every stone is turned, particularly the most seductive ones; we are laying the ground for a deeper future insight than what those shooting straight for the end can achieve. For in the latter case, there may always remain a residual seed of doubt or temptation to go and have a look under that beautiful, round, shiny stone over there on the corner, which has never been fully turned.

The destiny of Western culture may, for all I know, intrinsically entail experimenting with extremely seductive but wrong answers first, exhausting the alternatives, and only then setting itself straight. Of course, the price we pay for this is unfathomable. Generation upon generation have endured grief, despair, unspeakable suffering of every kind for having followed the siren song of illusion. This is the West's sacrifice. The only question is whether we will eventually get it right or not.

Prison break

But just how can we eventually get out of this bind and unveil reality? Kingsley talks often about μῆτις (mêtis), a kind of cunning wisdom that can be used to trick, enchant or persuade. The illusion we live in is a product of μῆτις, and only more persuasive μῆτις, such as true logic, can get us out of it.

Now ask yourself: What would be truly persuasive for the Western mind? What kind of story could short-circuit our inner narratives, expose its inner contradictions and force us to review our unexamined assumptions? The answer seems absolutely crystal clear to me: reasoning consistently pursued to its ultimate implications.

The Western mind only acknowledges reasoning as a valid story. It will dismiss anything else without even looking at it. So if one wants to use true logic to trick the West out of illusion, this true logic must come disguised as reason; it must entail embracing the illusion fully, objective facts and all, and judiciously applying reason within it. That's the μῆτις required here; there's just no other way. And Kingsley himself left space open for this approach: "when we live the illusion to the full, to its furthest limits, we are nothing but reality fulfilling its own longing" (R: 258).

Kingsley could counter this argument by claiming that those who use reason today aren't at all aware of true logic; they aren't trying to get us out of the bind, but simply hand-waving and gesticulating furiously and frivolously within the illusion, which only makes things worse. But is that really the case?

With deep and absolutely sincere respect for Kingsley, I should like to suggest the following: If one doesn't have affinity with hard-nosed reasoning, one will probably not become acquainted with present-day efforts to use hard-nosed reasoning in the spirit of true logic. And in failing to notice these efforts, one may become unjustifiably pessimistic, concluding that true logic has died. Maybe it hasn't; maybe it's still alive, just disguising itself as reason—a tactic of μῆτις—so as to not be immediately recognized and dismissed by the vulgar spirit of this time.

To free the West from illusion, we must first break into the prison wherein the West finds itself, and then break out again carrying the rest of the culture with us. We must fight the duel with the weapons chosen by the opposition, for those are the only weapons the opposition recognizes as real. Kingsley himself is well aware of this approach: "there are methods that reality can use to work its own way into our illusion and start to draw us out" (R: 255). Ditto. What a fantastic movement of μῆτις it would be to use pure, strict, sharp reasoning to undermine reason itself... wouldn't it?

Transcending reason through reasoning

And, as it turns out, if pursued to its ultimate, final implications, reason does undermine and relativize itself. Through reasoning we can demonstrate, beyond any shadow of a doubt and in multiple redundant ways, that reason isn't absolute; that, although applicable and useful in many circumstances, it is relative, a convenient invention, not a fact of reality etched into stone. As a matter of fact, I've written a whole book about it, Meaning in Absurdity.

The relativity of reason isn't a new insight. The West has been refining it for a long time, at least since Agrippa's famous trilemma, also known as the Münchhausen trilemma. Modern scholars like Graham Priest have further developed the associated insights. In the 20th century, Kurt Gödel has demonstrated that no axiomatic system—such as e.g. arithmetic—can be both complete and sound: they either fail to express every truth about themselves, or they contradict themselves (this is an oversimplified description of Gödel's conclusions, but it should do for the purposes of this essay). And since physics—our very description of the universe—is based on axiomatic systems, a fundamental limitation seems to be established for the ability of reason to comprehend reality in both a sound and complete manner. Finally, the insights of Quantum Mechanics in the early 20th century led to a long and deep academic debate about the ground of logic: Is it empirical? Is it invented? Where does it come from anyway? All these developments illustrate how far reason can be brought in undermining itself from within, under strictly rational conditions.

I discuss all this and much more in Meaning in Absurdity, my first foray into true logic. I invite interested readers (and Kingsley) to peruse it. Here is a passage from the book:
It is ironic that science, through the diligent and consequent pursuit of a materialist, strongly-objective view of nature, would lead to the very evidence that renders such view untenable. As we will later see, it is a recurring theme in different branches of science and philosophy that the pursuit of a rational system of thought ultimately leads to its own defeat. There is something perennial about the idea that any literal view of nature, when pursued to its ultimate ramifications, destroys itself from within. It is as though every literal model carried within itself the seeds of its own falsification; as if nature resisted attempts to be limited or otherwise boxed in. Whatever we say it is, it indicates it is not; whatever we say it is not, it shows it might just be. These are built-in mechanisms of growth and renewal in nature that we ignore at our own peril. Nature is as fluid and elusive as a thought. Indeed, it is a thought: an unfathomable, compound thought we live in and contribute to. The world is a shared ‘dream.’ In it, as in a regular dream, the dreamer is himself the subject and the object; the observer and the observed.
The Western path towards transcending reason is through the strictest, most consequent pursuit of reason possible.


One step at a time

Meaning in Absurdity has been a profitable book commercially, but it is my least successful one. This, together with a bunch of other observations, suggest to me that the West is not yet ready to take the final plunge into reality (as if this weren't obvious enough to even casual contemplation). What we have here is a slow process of acclimatization, of weaning ourselves off of our intellectual habits. It can't be rushed. And it may, as I discussed above, have its own intrinsic value: it forces us to become deeply acquainted with seductive but ultimately erroneous views.

One must take one step at time, starting with the relatively easy ones. That's why, I think, my best-sellers are Why Materialism is Baloney and The Idea of the World: two books whose aim is restricted to demonstrating that, based on strict reasoning and empirical evidence, we must conclude that the world is mental—i.e. that the inanimate universe is merely a mental representation of transpersonal mental states, and that living organisms are the representations of dissociated processes in a transpersonal mind. These books have their own μῆτις, but they do not undermine reason; on the contrary: they leverage reason under the implicit assumption that it is absolute, self-evidently and eternally valid everywhere. They threaten a certain metaphysics—namely, materialism—but not the very foundations of our Western mode of cognition. Reason is still valid; there is still an objective world out there, although it is constituted by mental states.

Metaphysics first

The relatively unthreatening recognition of this metaphysics—i.e. objective idealism—is the first and indispensable step towards reality. Only by embracing the notion that all is in mind, even though not in your personal, individual mind alone—the latter being itself an illusion—can we begin to make room for, and ultimately accept, the following statements made by Kingsley (in which I've added clarifying comments in between brackets):

  1. "The moment you accept every single thought as equally true [for, if all is in mind, to be true is to be thought] and also see the truth of this, then all thinking fades into unimportance" (R: 74);
  2. "There is nothing that exists except what can be thought or perceived [for there is nothing beyond mentation]" (R: 78);
  3. "Absolutely everything, including the fabric of reality itself, is trickery and illusion [i.e. mind deceiving itself by believing the products of its own imagination, without which there would be precisely nothing except the mere potential for experience]" (R: 91);
  4. "There is deception at the heart of reality, and the other way around [for in mind, to exist is to be imagined and then believed, like a dream we believe to be true while we are in it]" (R: 211);
  5. "Everybody is a myth. You are a myth [for your very sense of individual identity is a story you tell yourself, in mind, and then believe it]" (R: 158);
  6. "All that exists is now [for in mind, as I discussed in another essay, the past are memories experienced now, and the future are expectations experienced now]" (R: 164).
Embracing objective idealism within the constraints of the game of reason is a necessary step in our path forward; it is the step that creates the space required for all other steps. And it is a long and laborious first step. Those eager for the West to liberate itself from illusion any time soon are condemned to disappointment and despair; it just can't happen that way. My own attitude is to focus on this first step, acknowledging that the rest will come whenever we are ripened enough to received it. My only concern is that we may literally kill ourselves, as a civilization, before we get there; but that's another story.

Concepts versus experience

One could say that understanding and embracing objective idealism is merely an abstract conceptual game, which isn't transformative. Conceptual conclusions don't sink into the body, but instead circle around in our head as loops of thought; they don't change much the way we feel and behave. Only direct experience is transformative, for it percolates throughout our entire being. To know what reality is, one must experience it directly, not only grasp it intellectually. Otherwise one stays stuck in mere descriptions—like a would-be traveler who only knows places by the information in brochures, but has never actually been to those places—and never becomes acquainted with what it is all about. In Kingsley' words: "Until we have the direct experience of reality we are ... totally helpless. We can't understand a thing" (R: 255).

And I concur. Only direct experience is transformative. However, given the mindset of Western culture, one must first give oneself intellectual permission to have the experience, to be rationally open to it, in order to have any chance of experiencing it. One must be conceptually primed to accept the experience if and when it comes, for otherwise our rational defense mechanisms will instinctively and promptly shut ourselves off from it. It is critical that we first bring down our defenses through μῆτις suitable for the prickly Western mind—i.e. reasoning—because the intellect is the bouncer of the heart. In the West, what the intellect dismisses as impossible, or nonsense, or woo, or flakey, bounces off our head and never sinks in.

This is why embracing objective idealism as a metaphysics—the metaphysics of Parmenides—is a crucial first step in the Western path towards reality. We must first give ourselves intellectual permission to experience what is now considered impossible or nonsensical, for only then will we truly recognize and accept the experience when it comes.

Beyond objective idealism

It is conceivable that, even without direct experience, we can grasp some of the more counterintuitive characteristics of reality that Kingsley describes. For instance: "Cunning and trickery ... are woven into the fabric of the universe. Everything around us is an elaborate trick" (R: 219); or "the origin of the universe is now" (R:169); or "everything is one, whole, motionless" (R: 255); etc. If one has intellectually bought into objective idealism, these seemingly contradictory and even outright absurd statements can be made understandable through suitable argumentation; suitable incantations that gently hold the intellect by the hand and take it beyond the boundaries of its domain; a kind of μῆτις much more subtle and delicate than that required to argue for idealism itself; in summary: true logic.

These arguments of true logic need to skirt and transcend the edge of rationality, exceed the envelop of strict, explicit, unambiguous reasoning. They are really a kind of conceptual spell meant to take one beyond conceptual thinking. And it is extraordinarily difficult to compose them correctly, for the slightest fault brings down the whole building before it has any effect.

For instance, it is true that reality is constructed out of belief; pure belief, nothing else; if there is no belief, there is nothing. But if one is to make this statement and leave it at that, one is bound to be misinterpreted and dismissed. For we will fall and die if we jump off a building, even if we believe we can fly; the world doesn't seem at all acquiescent to our beliefs. The point here, however, isn't that reality is constituted by personal, egoic beliefs; the foundational beliefs in question aren't accessible through introspection; they underly not only a person, not only a species, not only all living beings, but everything. They aren't our beliefs, but the beliefs that bring us into being in the first place.

Another example: As Kingsley says, trickery is woven into the fabric of the universe. This is entirely true, but if he or I were to just leave it at that, the intellect of our readers would trounce the statement: obviously the physical world is just natural, it is doing merely what it is compelled to do by natural laws; it isn't the product of trickery by some God up in the sky. And this, of course, would be an entirely valid criticism of the statement, if the statement is misinterpreted to begin with. The actual point I—and, I trust, Kingsley—are trying to make here is that, since reality unfolds in mind, and mind is also its own witness, the only way for things to feel real is if mind tricks itself into believing that its own imagination is an external phenomenon. Mind's prime directive is to trick itself, for if it doesn't, nothing is left but a void. That's the point.

And yet, there is much more to the point; this 'more' isn't at all easy to describe in words in a manner that wouldn't sound totally foolish and self-contradictory. That's the challenge facing authors who want to go beyond rationality, to unveil a little more of reality than what can be corralled into explicit and unambiguous concepts. It really requires a kind of incantation or spell.

I have tried to do it. This is what my book More Than Allegory is all about. Despite its subtitle ('On religious myth, truth and belief') it is really a book about reality; about aspects of reality that can't be captured by analytic philosophy. In the book, I use true logic to try and convey ideas that transcend reasoning. And yet, I attempt to render these ideas in a manner friendly to rationality—i.e. I try to help the reader go beyond the intellect in a way that isn't threatening to the intellect; that doesn't scare off our conceptual reasoning but, instead, makes an ally of it. Indeed, I try to make ultimately unreasonable ideas as reasonable-sounding as possible. This is the book's μῆτις.

To give you a sense of how I went about this formidable challenge, here is a passage from the book wherein I touch on the subject matter of the following statements by Kingsley's: "Cunning and trickery ... are woven into the fabric of the universe" (R: 219), "the origin of the universe is now" (R:169), and "everything is one, whole, motionless" (R: 255):
Despite its intangibility, all of existence must fit within the present moment, for the present is all there ever is. Even the past and the future, as myths experienced in the present, exist within it. Thus, out of the quasi-nothingness of the now somehow comes everything. ...
The present moment is the cosmic egg described in many religious myths, which we briefly discussed in Part I. It is a singularity that births all existence into form. It seeds our mind with fleeting consensus images that we then blow up into the voluminous bulk of projected past and future. These projections are like a cognitive ‘big bang’ unfolding in our mind. They stretch out the intangibility of the singularity into the substantiality of events in time. But unlike the theoretical Big Bang of current physics, the cognitive ‘big bang’ isn’t an isolated occurrence in a far distant past. It happens now; now; now. It only ever happens now. ...
Existence only appears substantial because of our intellectual inferences, assumptions, confabulations and expectations. What is actually in front of our eyes now is incredibly elusive. The volume of our experiences—the bulk of life itself—is generated by our own internal myth-making. We conjure up substance and continuity out of sheer intangibility. We transmute quasi-emptiness into the solidity of existence through a trick of cognitive deception where we play both magician and audience. In reality, nothing ever really happens, for the scope of the present isn’t broad enough for any event to unfold objectively. That we think of life as a series of substantial happenings hanging from a historical timeline is a fantastic cognitive hallucination. Roger Ebert’s last words, illuminated by the clarity that only fast-approaching death can bring, seem to describe it most appropriately: 'This is all an elaborate hoax.' And who do you think is the hoaxer?

Recognition versus discovery

More Than Allegory is my most complete and profound work; my best attempt at true logic to date. Writing it has been my greatest challenge so far, for what I set out to do in it is close to impossible: to talk coherently about the ineffable. The book lays it all out, my whole shtick; nothing is held back. It goes as far as I, personally, feel I can go. All my other books, essays, papers, etc., are only elaborations or reiterations of parts of More Than Allegory.

However, in all honesty, it is not a book for everyone. The reason is simple: when one describes the ineffable, only those who already know the ineffable—in some deep level inaccessible to introspection—grasp the description. People who, deep within, already know what reality is, will recognize it in the book; and they will find the book exhilarating, for it will give words to things they already knew but couldn't articulate back to themselves. It will reassure them that, after all, they really were right all along, for somebody else saw, independently of them, what they had seen. Ultimately, this is the value of the book.

I am saying all this for a reason: there is only so far an author can go in describing reality. Sharp and clear conceptual reasoning can bring us all the way to metaphysical idealism. But beyond that, readers have to do much of the work, even most of the work, themselves. Books like More Than Allegory can provide some tantalizing glimpses, some deep insights, but not take you all the way. Yet they have their value in reassuring and motivating people to go further, for conceptual reasoning can be helpful even in this manner.

Looking forward

The value of Kingsley's work for me has been the precise opposite of what he overtly tried to achieve: instead of convincing me that Western culture is dead and must be mourned, I now have renewed faith that it is not only still alive, but viable. Perhaps this was, all along, Kingsley's (or, more likely, his daemon's) secret intention with the book. For nothing motivates people more than facing a contrarian attitude; nothing mobilizes more energy for action than being told that there is nothing to be done.

It has also become clearer to me what role my various books play in a broader historical and cultural context. Some of them—Rationalist Spirituality, Brief Peeks Beyond, Why Materialism is Baloney and The Idea of the World—comply fully with the premises and constraints of rational thought, strict reasoning, aiming to convince you that objective idealism is the most reasonable description of reality. Others—Dreamed up Reality, Meaning in Absurdity and More Than Allegory—are instances of true logic: they seek to use reasoning to transcend reasoning, to help you glimpse certain mental landscapes or insights that cannot be captured in explicit and unambiguous words.

Kingsley insists on the importance of historical context and continuity: "The task is to give birth to the old in a new time" (C: 300). And: "because of our 'forgetfulness and laziness' we abandoned any path, which means we've broken the essential link between our future and our past ... in our case nothing is being carried forward" (C: 438). That we are forgetful and lazy in the West goes almost without saying. We've come to a point—with the Internet, mobile communications, nighttime lighting and entertainment, never-ending activity, etc.—where the past is no longer part of our lives. But to me this means that there is a whole lot of work to be done, a lot of catching-up to do.

And it is in this spirit that I have now embarked in a new phase of my work: I'm trying to link my own formulation of objective idealism with its historical roots. Next year, my new book Decoding Schopenhauer's Metaphysics will be coming out. In it, I try to demonstrate that Schopenhauer was a committed objective idealist who composed an exquisitely persuasive argument (μῆτις!). I seek to show that modern academic scholarship has failed miserably in understanding Schopenhauer and has been misrepresenting his views for decades. As a matter of fact, this seems to be a pattern since Parmenides, who—as Kingsley shows—has been misunderstood and misrepresented for millennia. Yet, here we are, Kingsley, myself and others trying to fix whatever we can.

Decoding Schopenhauer's Metaphysics is just the first in a series of at least three books wherein I seek to repair "the essential link between our future and our past" (C: 438). The next volume is already in production: Decoding Jung's Metaphysics. And right now I am pondering who I am going to write about next. The current leading candidate is Emanuel Swedenborg, who was most certainly a visionary idealist.

We, authors, are slaves to our daemons, which is symbolized by the circular chain in my coat of arms. My own daemon is particularly ruthless, so I couldn't just stop my work even if Kingsley or anyone else had convinced me, intellectually, that there is no point to it. I just can't stop. But importantly, the fact that my daemon is more energetic than ever after I read Kingsley suggests to me that there is still a point to it all. Perhaps Kingsley's own daemon tricked him (daemons are masters of this sort of trickery, capable of a level of μῆτις mere humans can't ever hope to match): by announcing the death of Western culture, Kingsley may have inadvertently revitalized it; prompted me and many others to redouble our efforts to prove that this isn't the end, that there is still much to be done. Maybe that was the plan of Kingsley's daemon all along...

The West is alive, it only looks lost. I know it because my daemon knows it. I am myself a quintessential embodiment of Western rationalism: have the highest academic degree in both the sciences and the humanities, from two of Europe's top universities; have been raised and educated immersed in Western thinking; have worked in some of the most recognizable Western scientific institutions; earn my living in the cut-throat world of Western high-tech business; the life streams of my ancestors—my own dead—from Northern, Southern and Western Europe meet in the river of my veins and life. And still, despite all this, I understand and recognize where Kingsley is coming from (or at least I think I do); I am not lost (hopefully). So if I take myself as a representative example—which is the only thing I can do, since I don't have access to other people's inner lives—the West is, just under the surface, still very alive and vital. We do have a future and a destiny to fulfill.

Onwards we go.

(Important post-publication clarification: some readers have construed some of my statements in this essay as a form of relativism, meaning that reality is whatever we make of it. This is incorrect. The origin of the misunderstanding is confusion regarding what is meant by the word 'mind.' If I say that the entire universe is a creation of mind, I don't mean your or my personal mind, but a universal mind of which we are merely dissociated complexes. From our individual perspective, there are objective facts that we cannot change by a mere act of volition, and which are whatever they are irrespective of our individual beliefs. However, at a deeper level, under certain states of consciousness, one dis-identifies with the individual mind and recognizes that one is, and has been all along, the universal mind. Then, from that impersonal and rather extraordinary perspective, one realizes that the entire universe is indeed a product of the universal mind, founded on the beliefs held by the universal mind, and that one is the universal mind.
For emphasis: I am not a relativist; I strongly believe in objective facts, from the point of view of individual minds. And I believe that Peter Kingsley isn't a relativist either. His entire point is based on the perspective of the universal mind, which you, I and him happen to be, but don't realize it because we are immersed in illusion. I hope this sets the record straight.)


  1. There is 'much to be done' and grateful that your daemon is stoking the fire! Brilliant article

  2. Important post-publication clarification: some readers have construed some of my statements in this essay as a form of relativism, meaning that reality is whatever we make of it. This is incorrect. The origin of the misunderstanding is confusion regarding what is meant by the word 'mind.' If I say that the entire universe is a creation of mind, I don't mean your or my personal mind, but a universal mind of which we are merely dissociated complexes. From our individual perspective, there are objective facts that we cannot change by a mere act of volition, and which are whatever they are irrespective of our individual beliefs. However, at a deeper level, under certain states of consciousness, one dis-identifies with the individual mind and recognizes that one is, and has been all along, the universal mind. Then, from that impersonal and rather extraordinary perspective, one realizes that the entire universe is indeed a product of universal mind, founded on the beliefs held by universal mind, and that one is the universal mind.
    For emphasis: I am not a relativist; I strongly believe in objective facts, from the point of view of individual minds. And I believe that Peter Kingsley isn't a relativist either. His entire point is based on the perspective of the universal mind, which you, I and him happen to be, but don't realize it because we are immersed in illusion. I hope this sets the record straight.

  3. Thank you for this, Bernardo. Onwards!

  4. I have read the article and I am left somewhat confused. Presently I am about 2/3 of the way through "More Than Allegory" and as usual find it challenging and invigorating. I am one that has always "known" for a long time what it is your are presenting without being able to articulate it. I come from the background of an automation engineer and have always enjoyed reading "Physics for Idiots" types of publications. I grew up in a Catholic family and went to Catholic school for 12 years. My dad was a chemical engineer although very devout. My mom had a degree and also devout. Point being there are some parallels in our lives although you are obviously off the charts intelligent. As I read your works and watch you on Youtube there appears to be a call to action that you feel although I'm not sure what that action would look like. I'm much older than you, 65, and I live on top of a mountain in Ecuador with little or no contact with my past life or thinking. I see western civilization as being way out on the limb and it's continued existence as we know it almost certainly doomed brought on by numerous threats both self induced and life just being life. I've developed a rather cavalier concern about the outcome of this drama due to the recognition we are part of this "mind at large" and in reality you can't kill us and any pain we experience is based on our preconceived perceptions of what the outcome should look like. What am I missing in you perception? Also how would you see the behavior of a person that had the "correct" picture? Do you believe a person projecting virtue is sufficient or is there concrete action involved.

  5. Truly inspiring stuff Bernardo. I've been a fan of your work for a while, and I too have only very recently discovered Kingsley. I haven't yet read any of his books but I will definitely do so now. It's a joy to see the streams of my interests flow together, something I also experienced when I heard you name dropped by Paul VanderKlay, a Dutch reformed pastor and YouTuber.

    I think you hold a vital piece of the puzzle pertaining to the emerging conversation around the meaning crisis in the West; I think you are entirely correct that the prevailing 'materialist rationalist' worldview needs to be met and challenged on it's own terms, because the recalcitrance of those who are in it's grip to any talk of higher purpose, or deeper meaning, is quite staggering.

    I'm a musician and songwriter and am trying to convey your ideas, and those of many people I read, in my work, but in a way that is not so direct. I think I have room for the ambiguity, and perhaps I can better 'meet the unconscious' in that way. But for your part in helping me understand things explicitly and rationally, I salute you.

    Thanks man :)

    1. How do you define the meaning crisis? The question is not a challenge to it's existence because I share your concern but I find it is a mistake to think we "mean" the same thing when we say meaning. As an example you say you are song writer and your action plan is to spread the word through your work. If you were to impact a person in the way you wish what would that impact be? Will your work reach only the choir already singing that tune or would it change the mind of the uninitiated. A philosophy I have followed for many years originated by indigenous people of the Americas taught there is an inner voice we should listen to which I have always took to mean intuition. Your intuition will guide you. As an example there are 3 types of knowledge, the known, the unknown and the unknowable. They believe contemplating the known and the unknown is fair game but leave the unknowable alone. It is basically way above your pay grade. How do you know when you are in the area of the unknowable? Your inner voice will tell you by making you feel almost depressed. When you feel that you back out. I watch Bernardo in these interviews and it cracks me up how many of the interviewers want to be his "teacher" or guide. What they fail to understand in my mind is when they see Bernardo they are seeing a man following his intuition and these people would be nothing but noise blocking that signal. So from my 1 square inch view of the elephant my mind says we have to start getting people to listen to their inner voice and accept it's wisdom and follow it's lead.

  6. "They (Bernardo's books) threaten a certain metaphysics—namely, materialism—but not the very foundations of our Western mode of cognition. Reason is still valid; there is still an objective world out there, although it is constituted by mental states." If we all live in a world of experience, common and individual, what difference does it make, as far as living one's life is concerned, whether the structure of that experience is physical or mental? What has metaphysics to do with meaning, purpose, ethics, honor, commitment, compassion, sacrifice, suffering, etc.? If the answer is nothing, then is not metaphysics, while intellectually interesting in an abstract and speculative way, of little bearing upon the things of life that matter? I ask these questions, and seek answers from Bernardo and others, as one who has read several of his books, enjoy visiting this blog, and finds himself in substantial agreement with Bernardo's take on the mental nature of experience. But is all of this only an intellectual exercise, or if not (and I suspect it's not), then where does it take us personally and/or socially?

    1. In my opinion what Bernardo is selling comes in many ways with the caveat that "If you have to ask the question "why does it matter" then you are not going to understand the answer". In effect my interpretation of when Bernardo says "What I am presenting will only make sense to people that already know" he is saying somewhat the same thing. My life experience has taught me that is a very valid approach. I no longer get in debates with people that have a materialist philosophy. I have learned to follow my instincts and rarely do those instincts let me down. So in my opinion this is where "faith" if you will comes in. I have faith in my instincts and my instincts say Bernardo is correct. My instincts says life matters and in the final analysis I have to live "my" life. This need to have every thought and the action generated by that thought given some sort of stamp of approval from people that your instincts say they are wrong seems like a silly way to approach life. So I applaud Bernardo and see his mind and the insights it generates an extremely valuable tool as I travel through this weird, wonderful universe we live in.

    2. What personal or social value has the metaphysics that takes everything in so simple, literal way.
      The world is much more complicated then this instrument called brain which finally is a programm dependent converter of light and vibrations, always revoking it's hard disc information during the act of peceiving, just to create some clumsy image of the world.
      Materialism provides that we can finally discover the meaning of the world using not eye and ear (which is far too limited ) but creating abstract models of reality which in the end means an exploration of our own imagination and therefore our conciousness. It's as simple as that.
      The Universe that is not a dead matter producing some accidental flash of awarness, but the counsciousness itself is a fertile, omnipotent environment full of meaning and mistery.
      It's like a great book of everything that can be read by thous who can see it. The meaning in the palm of your hand!
      Pawel B.

  7. Fascinating essay. Caught my deep attention many times. Much that I like and surely some with which I disagree. I want to re-read and contemplate more before offering specific comments but, for now, I'd like to note that the farther west one travels in the geography associated with Western-Culture-Civilization, the more alive, present, real and sensible seems shamanic and indigenous cultures and ways, which only recently are starting to be recognized in the Hallowed Halls of Western Civilization. Perhaps, we are heading toward an Ancient-Future, which may be where Kingsley's main finger is pointing.

  8. I am extremely satisfied to hit upon Bernardo's books.
    All my life I had an impression that all we were taught about the fundamental structure of the Universe is as false as horribly bleak.
    The Newtonian influence closed the world within the iron bars.
    First it was strucking, what degree of simplification it obligatorily
    introduced in it's descrption of the world, if a simple act of throwing a stone imply so complex mathematic challenge that finally it's always reduced to a perfect sphere in action, to avoid the overpowering, inconceivably complicated (and not practical) model corresponding to actual event.
    Afterwards the hard problem of consciousness although I'm not a philosopher was always intuitively obvious to me.
    How (putting it ironically) from these lifeless balls which push each other in the lifeless space can consciousness come into being?
    Enstein theories made it a bit more flexible but still not enough to explain the nature of the universe and finally quantum physics seemed to be more promising. Like polish physicist Wlodzimierz Sedlak (professor of Catholic University in Lublin) said the mistery of life seems to be hidden in quantal and not gross dimension.
    But still I suffered a lot because of explosive clash of "perennial and western philosophy. Why the primordial, fundamental and irreducible fact that there is awareness wasn't the point of departure in western philosophy if evidently everything else using the ockham's razor is a pure speculation ?(finally Wittgenstein's conclusions). I was fascinated by Plato, bishop G. Berkeley, C. G. Jung, Victor. E. Frankl as well as Lao tse, Krishnamurti, Vimala Thakar, Longchenpa or Jean Klein.
    On reading Bernardo books came to conclusion that I am natural born idealist, but not in possesion of adequate semantic and philophical tools to express it with enough precision.
    This cristmas I've finished The Idea of the World and feel great relief and hapiness, like Odysseus who is back to Ithaca again.
    Thank you very much Bernanrdo!!!

  9. One of the most important articles I have read. Although I'm still pessimistic. There is not enough critical mass and I don't see many reasons for it to increase.

  10. I've been a big fan for many years Bernardo, here is a link to an essay that might point into a similar direction. It mentions some of your favs, Schopenhauer and in the notes, Kingsley and Paramenides. Its conclusions on civilization spot on imho.

  11. Great stuff. I would tend to view the phenomenon of culture differently. "Culture" is always and primarily an elevation of form over content. In the Western tradition, this is most clear around Jesus. When Paul "decides" that the resurrection was of the body, not of the mind as some were teaching at that time (and no doubt is what was meant), he chose for dualism over non-dualism, he chose form over content. Ultimately, he rendered the teachings of a teacher whose Kingdom is not of this world, suitable for Caesar so it could become the religion of the Roman Empire. Luther in effect constituted an attempt for the lay-believer to regain access to the teacher directly. Vatican II was then a compromise attempt, in effect a belated response to Luther. Some Catholics thought it did not go far enough (Malachi Martin, Ivan Ilich et al.) In the same year as Vatican II, in New York, Dr. Helen Schucman started the recording of A Course in Miracles, which would fully restore Jesus to the non-dualistic paradigm he originally taught, which has more in common with Parmenides and Plato than with the teachings of Paul that became known as Christianity.
    In short "culture" is the human reaction formation against the self-doubt that we might not be real, but only a perceptual phenomenon. Culture provides the seriousness to repress that thought.

  12. please read a history book, cultures arent magical godly institutions bestowed by prophets, they are scams to secure power to an 'elite' few. western culture, and any others, have no divine purpose, they are simply the result of individual contextual decisions in aggregate,usually enforced with direct physical violence in addition to various mental manipulation techniques. this article reeks of the kind of mystical nationalism popular with fascist movements.

    1. Most great civilizations, if not all are founded upon divinely inspired visionary ideas. I'm only directly experienced with my own, the USA. our founding document and may writings of the founders are imbued with references to the Deity as being the only source of natural rights. Why would someone not wonder why this astounding innovation just coincidentally led to the most free and successful civilization in history? Other civilizations such as on the Indian subcontinent, had a many thousands of years rise to eminence but modest familiarity with the sacred scriptures of that land supports the opinion of my first sentence, and surely does not support the idea of "scams to secure power to an 'elite' few" over those thousands of years.

  13. I find it disconcerting that there are less than two dozen comments to this essay. I was so captivated by the message that I had ordered four of Kingsley's books before I finished reading the essay.

    When reading More Than Allegory many months ago (and sending it as a gift to a couple friends) I put to memory (and rethought many times since) the following short passage from the book and quoted above:

    "In reality, nothing ever really happens, for the scope of the present isn’t broad enough for any event to unfold objectively."

    On first reading that passage I was spellbound, in a place mentally I recognized as pure in some way. I knew I had read something that was written for me.

    Oh well, I'm already over being disconcerted, I'm creating new meaning as I write this comment. Who needs a crowd anyway, they're usually annoying.

    Thanks BK for your passion. I'll never write a book or grasp so completely the ideas you give life to, but knowing that something deep within me resonates with your thoughts is a great comfort to me.

  14. I just recently discovered Bernardo’s work and am blown away by it. I discovered Bernardo while searching for content on Peter Kingsley. There seems to be very few people around who “get” what Kingsley is trying to convey or even care. I was very heartened by Bernardo’s extensive commentary and analysis on Kinsley’s work and then building upon it even further.

    I wanted to ask how many people are familiar with the work of George Gurdjieff and one of his prime students John G. Bennett.
    I know that Gurdjieff is a bit of a controversial figure and don’t wish to necessarily get into a full-throated discussion about him. I will say there is a lot of misinformation out there on him and many organizations promoting him that don’t really understand his core message and/or are looking for dues paying members.

    One of his key ideas is called “reciprocal maintenance”. This is the idea that everything in the universe supports everything else. It’s sort of a cosmic ecology. We all know and understand the natural ecology here on earth. Plants utilize sunlight to grow and produce oxygen. Animals eat plants and produce carbon dioxide, and when they die their bodies are decomposed by fungi and bacteria to return the nutrients to the earth for use by plants, etc. Everything is constantly being used and recycled.
    Gurdjieff extends the idea to the whole cosmos. Humans produce energies via experiences and emotional states that are needed for higher purposes in the cosmos. Humans have an important role in the universal scheme of things. We are needed by higher (divine) entities.
    To me, this seems to fill in a lot of what Peter Kingsley is alluding to when he speaks of western civilization having failed and not recognizing that the divine needs something from us. In Catafalque Kingsley does have some references to Gurdjieff, but does not seem to pick up on this idea of reciprocal maintenance.
    John G. Bennett was an English scientist-philosopher-mystic and one of Gurdjieff’s prime students. His own magnum opus is a four volume set called “The Dramatic Universe”. In it Bennett attempts to synthesize all known thought into one coherent framework. It is called the “Dramatic Universe” because hazard is a key component of the cosmos. The outcome is not foreordained. (It if were, there would be no meaning to anything). We humans have a role to play in the outcome.

    Another key Gurdjieff idea is that there is a fundamental cosmic triad of function-being-will. Function is largely the mechanical and material, Being equates to “consciousness”, and Will to “purpose”.
    A good analogy is provided by another one of Gurdjieff’s students, P.D. Ouspensky. – Imagine there is a room with various instruments in it – microscopes, telescopes, etc. Function corresponds to the instruments themselves. Being corresponds to light – the more light you have, the more you can do with the instruments. Will corresponds to the user of the instruments or what the instruments are used for (purpose).
    Bennett also writes a lot about “Will” and was influenced by Schopenhauer. As Bernado states referencing Schopenhauer, in the end all that exists is “Will” and this is something Gurdjieff and Bennett would agree with.

  15. Most excellent, Bernardo. I think Peter will love this, and I will forward it to him, in case you have not. Peter's work figures prominently in my book The Illusion of Will, Self, and Time: William James's Reluctant Guide to Enlightenment [SUNY Press, 2015]. Reading your work makes me regret not adding "matter" to my title. As James put it, and I elaborate, with the help of Parmenides, matter as something "behind phenomena" is just a "postulate of thought".

    Any chance your deepened appreciation of Parmenides (Popper's unresisted nickname for Einstein, due to his block universe theorizing) will lead you to evolve from "objective idealism" to "absolute idealism"?
    Of significant value in both of Peter's books is the vindication of prophecy and/or precognition. Precognition is also what prompted James, in the last year of his life, to ask, "Is...consciousness already there waiting to be uncovered, and is it a veridical revelation of reality?" Peter, alas, unlike James and Jung (who condidered James a mentor) cares little for parapsychology. But he has helped restore its respectability by linking it to core beliefs of Parmenides and Jung. My own belief is that precognition makes a strong case for the homogeneity of thought and matter; not just the lab stuff, whose results may ultimately impress only statisticians, but the anecdotal accounts--from Kingsley's dream incubating Greeks, to Jung's own prophetic dreams. Here are 2 of many striking contemporary examples:

    May I look forward to the day when "precognition" no longer comes up empty in your search blog?

    Either way, I salute you. Whether or not you ultimately want to join Sprigge and me in the Vindication of Absolute Idealism, you are far and away our most forceful spokesperson on behalf of Idealism itself. A truly virtuoso ongoing performance.


    Jonathan Bricklin

    Typo: so there has never being a 'correct'

  16. ... 🤔🤔🤔 ...

    Might have to read this one a few more times... 🤔🤔🤔

  17. Your words are clear, bravo. I have followed Kingsley for a long time and now have discovered you. I wish you luck in pressing forward with your new found energy to bring rationalism towards revelation of reality. However, I personally believe rationalism has failed - too much human-centrism has brought us global warming, species extinction (and thus our own), and ongoing political strife with possible nuclear devastation. Non-western cultures better understand what we missed and which Kingsley hinted - and it will sound shockingly primitive - bring deities back into our lives by making them our most beautiful offerings. Leave your next most beautiful book as an offering in the wilderness and walk away - do not publish it. You will find this to be transformative.

  18. Thank you Bernardo!!! From the depth of my heart and from the hights of my intellect. Your mission is my mission. I kiss your intellect! ;-) I tought I would have to do all the work by my own efforts. Now I found you and realize the metaphysical foundations are already being set up. I am deeply grateful, excited and motivated... Thank you!!!

  19. Thank you Bernardo!! I fullheartedly share the approach to undermine reasoning by the means of reasoning. I kiss your heart ;-). Your mission is my mission! I thought I would have to do that work by my own efforts. Now I found you and I notice the metaphysical foundations are already being set up. I am deeply grateful, excited and motivated... Thank you!!

  20. Possibly naive question... what is meant here by The West - the general populace up and down the streets of America, Europe, Australia, maybe the western bit of Russia ? Or just the influential culture making elites in those countries ?

  21. Hi Bernardo,
    What about "the new archetype of the new human", "the birth of the Diamond Soul" (Professor Chris Bache) on Earth...?

  22. I read this in Science Ideated. I liked it, but it prompted a few thoughts. Some of you might even be interested in reading them...

    1. Thanks, Peter, this is a thoughtful criticism, which I'll take the liberty to post on social media. Very briefly, ordinarily I write for readers of any culture. In that particular essay, I did write with people who have the same cultural background I have in mind. You come across as proud of your own cultural background (as for ethnicity, although you touch explicitly on it, I, personally, don't even believe the concept of race applies to homo sapiens, so I don't personally consider that part relevant), and you almost certainly have good reason for that pride. I, on the other hand, struggled with my own cultural identity for most of my life, and that essay is a form of self-acceptance and self-affirmation that emerged rather late.

    2. Thanks Bernardo! I'm really quite chuffed to be quoted by you on Twitter. I now appreciate the perspective from which that essay was written. I'm really enjoying my journey through your writing - thanks again!

  23. I’ve just finished reading Kingsley’s Catafalque, and stumbled on your article whilst looking for reviews of Kingsley’s Reality which I now have on order.

    Reading your article, I am left wondering what you believe about the imaginal unconscious mind, as distinct from the rational conscious mind. Given the thrust of your article is challenging Kingsley’s pessimism about the future of Western civilisation, the role of the unconscious mind in exercising agency would seem important either to dismiss or explore. Your argument, if I understand correctly, is that reason can see through reason (via its errors), and your article would seem to imply that it needs no help from the imaginal or the unconscious.

    For example, in agreeing with Kingsley that only direct experience is transformative, you state that “given the mindset of Western culture, one must first give oneself intellectual permission to have the experience to be rationally open to it in order to have any chance of experiencing it.” This statement would appear to put your conscious logical mind in the role of gatekeeper to all “progress” - which as Kingsley sees it, is a modern concept of value that results from our ‘faulty’ version of logic. However, your endorsement of the idea that “only direct experience is transformative” leaves a lot unsaid, for example about Jung’s notions of synchronicity and his claims about the centrality of archetypes in shaping thought.

    Bergson’s notion of duration as a creation of mind, conceives of thought as transcending space-time. His claim that intuition always precedes analysis was at the heart of his personal way of thinking and working, and his metaphysics. Bohm similarly believed that the source of insight and creativity was the universe, and thus from the universe. McGilchrist offers a complementary narrative to Kingsley’s from the points of view of the left and right brain hemispheres, and claims the modern mind has been hijacked by the reductionist, grasping, categorising left hemisphere and needs balancing with the right hemisphere’s ecologically aware, open-minded and holistic thought. All point to a form of knowing beyond reasoning. Wolfgang Pauli and Jung ultimately arrived at their formulation of synchronicity, or meaningful coincidences, as the non-causal ‘force’ organising “meaning” (Jung’s nod to the I-Ching).

    Jung’s notion of “psychological types” is another potential source of confusions when framing a discussion about reasoning. We don’t all take in information and process it in the same ways, and so our different psychological “types” complicate the communication of ideas, to put it mildly.

    In summary, it seems to me that Kingsley’s story in Catafalque is that the substrate of consciousness is accessed via ancient archetypes, and that we have forgotten this way of knowing in a sort of historical amnesia. These archetypes predate even humans, so the modern mind is not merely a product of “wrong turns” after Plato and Aristotle. Feel free to point me to your books if your thinking is already laid out explicitly there: I’m genuinely interested in exploring these themes further.

  24. I know Bernardo is not reading these anymore. I am just using this as a place to work through some thoughts and admittedly frustrations. I reread Science Ideated last week and I was really touched by what Bernado had to say about Kingsley's book Reality.

    So with some rigormarol I obtained a copy as fast as possible -- we won't say how -- and began pouring through it. It was immediately obvious that we were going to talk about the Great Matter and I was excited to hear about it from a Western perspective. I am about half-way through now and the core --- deep, deep core -- is great.

    The problem is that Kingsley does so much prepping and apologizing for transgressions I have trouble discerning. It was quite far in, for example, before I realized that the reader is supposed to be offended at the idea that reason and mysticism might be practiced together.

    I know that most people mistakenly believe reason to be superior, but come on he is talking about meditating in a dark room and then recieving dream-like communication. There is no Gnosis, no generations of emanations, no triple-goddesses (Yeah, he tries to double up one but its totally conceptual), no chemical marriages. This is like vanilla sh*t. Who has a problem with this I don't even think hardcore materialist really. They are lying. They know damn well that their dreams are meaningful. And, they can just tell some story about unconscious memories or something to settle their nerves. Couldn't they just tell themselves that this is how Parminedes works through problems, by casting them in his unconscious as a Goddess who then tells it back to him. Easy peasy, Why do we need to keep, keep, keep, apologizing.

    I just got through a paragraph where he says

    "And these two basic traits of existencereality as held fast in bonds, the world that we live in as a
    deception-are far from unrelated."

    I couldn't help myself but spend maybe 5 minutes, first rereading that passage a bunch of times, then, sure I had it right, try to figure out how in the world someone could think these two things were unrelated. It made me wonder if he was talking about something completely different. Then when shuffling through the text I was 80ish percent confident we were still talking about the One Mind, wonder what sort of conception he must be addressing that would allow these things to be unrelated or there to be a mystery here.

    Now, maybe I've just missed everything, And, writing this helped so I think I can go back with fresh eyes. Thanks