Tuesday 25 September 2018

Third Eye errors

There is a recurrent spiritual idea that there might be an organ of spiritual perception - an inner 'Third Eye' - by which we might see reality; see, in particular, spiritual phenomena imperceptible to the ordinary senses.

But this idea is conceptually incoherent; because any inner spiritual eye would be prone to the same problem as any ordinary eye; which is that the meaning of reality is not Out There, but requires our own thinking. To know The World therefore requires not merely perceptual information (what we see, hear, touch, taste or small) but instead the true conceptual understanding of perceptual information*.

This 'combination' of perceptual and conceptual can happen in thinking, and only in thinking; and only when thinking is truth-full, real - is, in sum, the thinking of that aspect of each Man that is divine.

So, it does not matter whether an eye is one of the usual two organs that are located on our faces, or if it is an inner Third Eye - anything that is perceived by any means always requires to be interpreted and understood. Seeing is Not believed, not even with an inner eye, because we do not comprehend the meaning of what we see unless we are able to interpret what we see in light of true concepts, true theories.

It is hard for us to grasp this reality, since we are accustomed to assume that seeing is believing, and that anything really-real forces itself upon us without any act of interpretation. Yet, at the same time - and in a contradictory fashion, we also know that the same sensory data can be, and often is, interpreted in widely different ways by different people - or by the same person at different times, or when in different psychological states.

Such a contradiction is, indeed, one of the deep roots of modern nihilism and despair - because people have come to believe that they can never really know anything: that objective external reality is un-knowable and that that their personal subjective experience has no necessary connection with objective reality.

The idea of a Third Eye is an attempt to get past this assumed unknowability of external reality, by assuming-by-definition that there exists an 'infallible' organ which both perceives and interprets reality - an organ that leads to knowledge. And indeed there is! But it is not an organ of perception, but an 'organ' of direct knowing (without perception).

The organ of direct knowing is our true, real and divine self in its thinking.

Because only by knowing directly can we escape from the insufficiency of the perceived; and knowing is an active state of thinking - not a static and crystallised state: being is itself active, dynamic, doing.

Direct knowing (without mediation, without perception; just-knowing some-thing) is a matter that is difficult to conceptualise for Modern Man, but was apparently quite everyday and normal in ancient cultures. People have tried to conceptualise direct knowing in many ways, often using natural science metaphors - but I find these abstract and impersonal - hence misleading.

The way I think about it, is that all direct knowing is akin to telepathy between individual conscious beings. I assume that ultimate reality consists of purposive, living, conscious beings, of which Men are one type. I also assume that it is possible for such beings to have access to each others thinking, to share thinking: for two beings to be thinking the same thoughts, simultaneously. And That is direct knowing. 

And I further assume that this kind of thinking is ultimate reality - it is itself a part of divine creation (because divine creation is thinking: God thinks creation into reality).

What is the relevance of this to Albion Awakening? Well, rather than me writing an answer, you reading and interpreting it... Think about it.

*This matter was elucidated for me by Rudolf Steiner's books Truth and Knowledge (1892) and The Philosophy of Freedom (1894); although Steiner was himself inconsistent in his actual later practice - e.g. mistakenly asserting that perceiving (inwardly) is necessary to knowing.  


William Wildblood said...

The inadequacy of the third eye as an organ of perception is further illustrated by the fact that it was supposed to be partially open for early man giving him a kind of clairvoyance but then closed down as the mind developed. Clairvoyance might give extra-sensory perception but it doesn’t give spiritual insight. That’s because it’s only extra-physical sensory. It is an extension of the senses not a full going beyond them to mental knowing.

Unknown said...

You are of course correct that anything seen by Third Eye would have to be interpreted and understood....if we were after conceptual knowledge,formulas, and statements about reality.

In Eastern traditions one is explicitly told to NEVER try to interpret or understand what you see with the Third Eye.

The moment you think you understand, you have lost the vision. There is something far better than understanding, which is seem as trivial. Conceptual knowledge is utilitarian knowledge, knowledge-for-the-sake-of, not vision for its own sake.

The vision itself is considered the summum bonum.

Conceptual knowledge and understanding has value for purposes of control - not as a pejorative in the technological sense, but in the spiritual sense if we see ourselves as trying to attain something or accomplish something, as striving.

In traditions that talk about the Third Eye, they explicitly say there is nothing to attain and nothing to accomplish. It is already here, and the type of knowledge used to attain something - conceptual knowledge, understanding - merely obscure it and falsify it.

These are paths of liberation, not of accomplishment or attainment. The world has no purpose, is not going anywhere, it is already perfect and thrumming with meaning. Striving and seeking are harmful and pointless - they merely obscure the vision.

Now, of course this is the complete opposite of the path encouraged on this site - which is one of accomplishment and attainment, with happiness and perfection at the end of a long process through time - which is real - and as a result of striving and seeking.

Both of these traditions exist in the East and the West, although obviously each tradition is more characteristic of one part of the world.

What's interesting is that this distinction often runs like a thread through individual traditions. Christianity has a striving path that prizes conceptual knowledge (utilitarian knowledge), but also a non seeking path that prizes vision as end in itself over utilitarian knowledge (mystics).

In the end, we must all make our choice - but to do so we must clearly lay out what the choice actually is.

Unknown said...

I was going to say the primary division is between those who prize conceptual knowledge, understanding, and those who value another kind of knowing.

But the division actually is prior to that.

If one seeks and strives, sees time as real, and happiness as an attainment, one must prize conceptual knowledge - knowledge for the sake of (control, manipulation), as that's essential to that path.

If one sees striving and seeking as an error, then one must prize s vision that is an end in itself, that does not lead to anything else, that is not for the purpose of control or manipulation, and cannot help us attain anything.

It's interesting how these second level distinctions actually depend on more primary dchoices and preferences.

Chiu ChunLing said...

There is a part of the forehead that is light sensitive and helps (among other things) to regulate circadian rhythms. It's a useful thing to know if you want to select the proper method of dealing with jet-lag or otherwise napping during daylight hours. The ability to sense more detailed visual information than light or darkness with this eye is beyond normal humans, but some people can train this sensitivity to a degree that makes it a somewhat useful counter to losing use of their normal eyes.

However, as you relate, it has no particular spiritual function, it is merely an esoteric natural perceptual organ.

The best analogy for direct knowing is in the scriptures, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed."

Of course, communion with divine knowledge is not really exactly like conversing in a human context. You cannot apply the famous Hollywood maxim "Sincerity, if you can fake that, you've got it made." Nor is it the case that God only listens to a particular language.

William Wildblood said...

The problem with the ‘nothing to attain, nothing to accomplish’ path is that it has no answer to evil. If ‘’the world has no purpose and is not going anywhere as it is already perfect” that means there is no good and no evil, that creation is without point and fundamentally nothing is better than anything else. This is actually a very limited and one-sided view of reality which rejects the relative for full focus on the absolute.

Now the absolute is the absolute, of course, but reality is not just the absolute or the uncreated. It is the absolute and the relative, spirt and matter, together, and a more inclusive view sees that time does indeed have a place in the context of eternity. It is not rendered null and void by eternity but contributes to a deeper view of life than eternity alone. This is why God creates, to make something more than pure undifferentiated oneness.

So the path that seeks growth is greater than the path that seeks being alone. What is more, it is able to counter evil which very definitely does exist in a fallen world. The world is not yet perfect but it will eventually be made so by those who join the struggle. Those who simply seek to be will ultimately be left behind, albeit in peace and stillness, as they have rejected or not picked up on the fact that the fullness of life is found in the integration of being and becoming and the journey to ever greater heights of glory.

Unknown said...

You are of course correct William. The liberation paths which see nothing to attain do not believe the world is a battle between good and evil, and our task is not to eradicate evil or improve the world. We have no task.

However, you must admit that if there is nothing to attain, the entire motivation to do evil is removed. One lives simply, content with nature. Further if one is already one with the All, then all grasping and self seeking is eliminated.

And how much evil has actually been done by those who are trying to improve the world and do good.

You are also correct William that in this system nothing is fundamentally better than anything - the world is a system whose parts are interdependent.

It is also partially why Christian mystics like Eckhardt and others say to call God good is to limit him - he is beyond such limiting conceptions.

Of course, this does not mean one might as well do evil (what we call) because it is no worse than good - rather, all grasping and seeking is eliminated.

To be honest, I do not see how this is a one sided view - it seems rather to avoid clinging to any extreme, and embrace the whole.

Ah, I see - you think it denies evil. But that is a misunderstanding. Any kind of denial - like any kind of affirmation - would indeed be one sided clinging.

Of course, you are right that both time and evil 'exist' - to deny their existence would be grasping for one side. It is just that they do not have an independent fundamental existence, they only exist relative to everything else, so are part of the All.

So they exist in a relative sense, like an illusion - they don't have an i dependent entity like existence that we can cling to and grasp (even in thought).

As for integration of being and becoming, that already exists - it does not need to be attained.

And being left in peace and stillness is also a misunderstanding - it is rather the a sense of magic and wonder at being one with the whole process of the world, win which each individual thing is empty of an individual existence and do not a fit object for grasping or clinging.

The peace and stillness is not a blank state of inanition - but a sense of magical fulfillment, of "being home", of no longer being a fragment separating itself from its magical Source, and being a part of the wondrous Whole.

That, any rate, is the vision of these alternative traditions.

Its not so much a different vision but rather a different way.

Of course we cannot draw a complete division between the vision on this site and that vision - they interpenetrate.

But I was merely pointing out that from another POV, Bruce wasn't quite correct in saying the Third Eye needs interpretation, although I understand why he said it.

Unknown said...

But really, William, these are all nice theories, and not reality -

The question must be -

If you strive and seek, if you fight evil and try and improve the world and yourself, if you approach the world through concepts and understanding and thus control- does the world then reveal its magic and wonder to you, do you then feel existential fulfillment, does seekin and grasping of the ego lessen, does your existential anxiety and anomie diminish? Or are you just expecting these things in a future that never arrives?

Or, if you cease all striving and seeking and desire for attainment, if you cease approaching the world through concepts and understanding (symbols, fingers pointing at the moon) and cease mistaking these arid symbols for the wondrous reality, does the magic and wonder of the world as it is then reveal itself to you, does seeking and clinging and grasping, the Source if anxiety and sorrow, lessen, and do you find the world a mysterious but magical home for the first time?

It is a purely practical question based on experiments that each of us must do for himself - it isn't solved through argument or concepts unfortunately.

William Wildblood said...

Unknown, I respect your position and have a strong pull towards it myself. For 21 years I lived a more or less solitary life that revolved around the path you describe. Two of the people I most admire from the last century were Ramana Maharishi and Krishnamurti who would have gone along with what you say. It is not wrong but I do think that it doesn’t cover the whole picture. We won’t agree which is fine but to me your view basically downgrades the individual who is little more than a blot on the face of pure awareness. But there is a big difference between the self-seeking ego which strives, tries to grasp etc and the fact of the individual which brings quality to consciousness (a good, in fact, an inevitable, thing) and allows for relationship which I now see as the principal purpose for creation. Your scenario removes the need for any kind of creation.

Ultimate truth is beyond good and evil but please don’t compare relative things to an illusion. What God creates is real even if not self-subsistent. It’s a mistake to think that the world of creation exists apart from God but it does exist in God and he saw that it was good. It’s not an illusion or a dream. He loves it.

By the way, I see what Eckhardt means but I think he’s wrong. God is good. That doesn’t limit him because goodness cannot be limited. The goodness of God is not part of the pairs of opposites. Evil has no intrinsic reality but it does have limited reality as the perversion of goodness. God is only beyond good and evil to the extent that he is beyond opposites. But he is goodness not nothing.

Perhaps you don’t accept God or see him as something subsidiary to ultimate truth? I don’t see how this can stand up. If the absolute does not include the personal then the personal could never arise. There must be some kind of differentiation even in the absolute, strange as that may seem to our logical minds. I suppose the trinity in Christianity is a clue as to how this might work.

These are not theories to me. They are not thoughts though that is how they form themselves mentally. But they are more perceptions than concepts.

With regard to seeking and striving, I would draw a distinction between the striving of the ego or separate self who is after a reward, and striving driven by the pure aspiration of the humble soul. There is no saint or mystic who has not struggled even if the struggle is to let go of struggling. We seek effortless being certainly, but that does not mean that we don’t have to work towards it.

It’s not a question of fighting evil or trying to improve the world but the saying that all that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing is very pertinent. Even if that doing is no more than proclaiming the truth (sounds pompous, I know!), that is necessary in a fallen world which this is. But we must always act from love of God not desire to make our own paltry mark on the world. That is the difficulty which those who do seek to improve the world often don’t face and then they fall into the trap you rightly draw attention to.

I’ve gone on too long so I shall now retreat into silence as the wise men of your way would properly counsel!

Unknown said...

Thanks, and I respect your position even though in the end it doesn't "work" for me. I even send people to the three blogs you guys have - because it may work for them.

It doesn't necessarily have to be competitive.

Just s few quibbles -

The idea that the individual is a mere blot on the surface of things or that ego must be eliminated is not quite the correct way if seeing it.

Rather, the individual is the All, and instead of eliminating himself expands himself so enormously as to be the All.

Rather than a gloomy self-extinction it is s joyous self expansion into the limitless.

It rather, it is the insight that this is already so :)

You are quite correct that this removes any need for creation - rather, creation is mere Play, the Divine Game. Need means God isn't perfect, which Bruce quite honestly acknowledges and accepts.

The notion of the universe as a game, and play as superior to work, and magical spontaneity as better than necessity, is I admit very foreign to us today - but it is an ancient notion, and I wonder how much of the gloom, anxiety, and seriousness of the modern world cones from the loss of this notion.

Well, logically something that doesn't exist as an independent entity but is part of an energy field isn't real to the extent that it appears to us as an independent entity - that's all that's meant by illusion, and I don't think that's so terrifying.

An illusion is in fact real - it is not nothing - but it distorts what it represents.

The idea is that no single thing is worth clinging to because only the entire field exists - you grasp one thing, you grasp it all. But if you imagine you are grasping just that thing, you are victim to an illusion.

I suppose I see God in the same way Bruce does and that Buddhism and Hinduism does - as a limited being who is very far from the Cosmic Absolute, and as such,for me, of lesser interest.

As for personality, I think its wrong to say it either exists or doesn't - it's real from a certain point of view, but unreal as a distinct fragment apart from the entire field.

In a way, it IS the all - far from not existing. From another point of view, the All is beyond these kinds of distinctions.

There is a famous Buddhist saying you no doubt know about - form is emptiness, emptiness is form. Its not like the world of form is a different place than emptiness, which must be left behind. They're the same thing views from different perspectives. Both exist and both are illusion.

As for fighting evil, I believe the more you fight it the more you become it - and the spread of a philosophy of non striving would do more to ameliorate it than any theory of fighting it.

But one can never eliminate it, because there can be no good without the concept of evil. If we eliminate evil, we automatically eliminate good. Utopia is conceptually impossible, and the world cannot be improved.

But if good and evil aren't quite real, the world does not need to be improved. We just have to wake up.

Anyways this is just the alternative vision - it's quite coherent and many people for millenia have found it satisfying, but of course one must choose for oneself based on experience and personal insight.

It was nice talking to you William and I wish you joy and happiness in your path.

Chiu ChunLing said...

A genuine nihilist, one who really doesn't care whether or not God should exist and doesn't prefer life to death (whether in mortal or eternal terms) can be neutral about religion without denying truth.

But that's still evil.