Essay: Retracing Spiritual Activity (Part VII)

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AshvinP
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Essay: Retracing Spiritual Activity (Part VII)

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We began exploring the technique of imaginative concentration as a means of retracing into an intimate experience of the higher contextual spheres of spiritual activity, i.e. the modes of spiritual activity that project into the conceptual-sensory perspective as its emotional, biological, and physical constraints. That is the temporal depth context that we ‘carry around’ in each moment of existence, which provides the meaning of our momentary state. It is natural that this whole idea, its possibilities and its method, should remain abstract and remote at first, perhaps even bewildering. There is simply nothing like this technique that we learn through the stages of instinctive development, nor are we given many opportunities to hear about it in later life. Even if we hear about it, there is an additional obstacle - we have been conditioned to understand the World in terms of ‘mechanisms’, because we work with a primarily spatial consciousness, where isolated objects appear to act on each other through physical touch or at a distance through ‘waves’ and ‘fields’, and their mutual relations appear to march forward in time ‘frame by frame’.

This default mechanistic intuition of ‘how reality works’ permeates all of our thoughts about spiritual existence as well. We are prone to think of spiritual reality as a more subtle space filled with ‘spiritual atoms’ that interact with each other through some mechanisms within that space. Such atomism and mechanism, however, is only an aliased effect of an organic and holistic experiential flow that is primary and includes not only sensory impressions, but also our experience of emotions, thoughts, and intents. There is no ‘space’ existing between our anger and our joy, our idea of goodness and idea of truth, or our intentions to pursue those virtues and ideals. These inner experiences can’t be divided up, weighed, counted, or measured. Moreover, they only exist by virtue of each other, not as discrete and self-sufficient ‘entities’. By exploring this relationship between the meaning of atomized mechanisms and the holistic meaning from which the former was aliased, we are at the same time deconditioning from the default sense-based intuition.

For example, the concepts of ‘mass’, ‘force’, ‘energy’, ‘space’, ‘time’, and so forth, which are used to describe the ‘mechanisms’ of outer nature, are only possible to conceive because we have instinctively learned these qualities within ourselves. We can only conceive that objects exert ‘forces’ on one another because we intuitively know how it feels to influence other objects (including inner ‘objects’) or to have them exert an influence on us. Likewise, we conceive ‘energy’ because we know how it feels to become tired after exerting forces. We can conceive that other objects possess volume because we experience our own inner volume, the relative positions of various bodily components. We can conceive objects in movement because we experience the movements of our own inner processes, particularly those connected with our eyes. We experience the three outer dimensions of space because we have learned to balance ourselves within the Earthly force of gravity (that balancing is also connected with the three canals of the inner ear). As we will see later, the concept of ‘time’ also originates from relative inner experience.

Modern consciousness has forgotten this inner origin of its concepts and began externalizing the latter as independent realities to be used as rigid ‘explanations’ of phenomenal processes, rather than symbolic testimonies to the inner depths of subtle activity. The modern world is now haunted by these mechanical ghosts that were conjured up and split from our intuitive being. The spiritual retracing technique can never be properly understood when thinking remains under the tyranny of such mechanized and idolatrous habits. Instead, we must re-cognize that the concepts used, even when they sound ‘mechanistic’, are always testimonies to organic and hierarchically structured metamorphoses of sensing, thinking, feeling, and willing experience. The ‘four contextual spheres’ discussed in the previous part are always present in the flow of our experience, structuring what we normally experience as our intentional agency, feeling, thinking, and bodily will (through which we experience the lawful transformation of sensations).

Of all these experiential domains, practically only the last one (sensory rhythms) is considered the proper domain of objective scientific research while the other three are relegated to ‘epiphenomenal’ status, even though their functions are clearly implicit in the meaning of everything experienced through the lawful transformation of sensory life. When we are walking outside on a hot and stagnant summer day, and a strong gust of wind blows through from mysterious origins, the first thing we experience is not the oscillation of airwaves or the pressure differentials, but the meaning of relief, refreshment, and renewal, functions traditionally associated with the Spirit.1 In fact, the oscillation of airwaves is only experienced in our abstract mental space. It is a fictional entity that we insert into an otherwise unbroken stream of inner experience. To gradually retrace this phenomenal experience to its deeper spiritual basis, we should pay attention to all the rhythms of experience (sensory, emotional, mental, transpersonal) and resist inserting phantom mechanisms into their experiential flow.

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These rhythms are ubiquitous in our stream of experience, although our spatial consciousness is often insensitive to them. The great rhythms of the Sun, Moon, planets, and stars structure our epochal, yearly, seasonal, monthly, weekly, and daily cycles (among others). There are also the biological rhythms of Nature, including those of the human organism. The plant, animal, and human bodies are essentially a complex of overlapping rhythms such as breathing, blood circulation, hormonal, metabolic, reproductive, etc. Such rhythms speak volumes about our spiritual existence if we remain attentive to their inner gestures, rather than only their outer appearances. It is through them that the Spirit manifests its contextualized intents within sensory life in a temporally patterned and therefore somewhat predictable way. Even the sense-perceptible physical body undergoes a periodic rhythm by which its entire material structure is pushed out into the surrounding environment and built anew from spiritual forces within. Most people assume the material constituents of their body remain the same during life because this ongoing process of material death and renewal is aliased from their cognitive perception.

But consider the following thought experiment. Imagine an extraterrestrial humanoid life form whose mode of visual recognition was based on the enumeration of the material components that make up particular [manifestations] of general types, rather than on the identification of the general types that are instantiated by particular [manifestations]. Imagine, further, that this alien lands on Earth at a particular location and encounters two dogs: a living dog and a robotic dog. The alien scans the two dogs, catalogues their material constitution for future identification, and returns home. A few years later, the alien returns to Earth to the same location and faces the two dogs it encountered in its first trip. Despite being in the presence of the same two dogs, the alien’s cognitive apparatus is such that he is only able to identify the robotic dog and not the living one. From the alien’s perspective, the living dog of the first trip has faded out of existence, and an entirely different living dog has taken its place. What this admittedly fanciful thought experiment is meant to illustrate is that, if one focuses on matter rather than on form and allows for a sufficiently extended period of time, the stream-like nature of macroscopic organisms becomes perfectly evident. The fact that this does not happen to be easily perceptible to us does not make it any less true or important.
-Everything Flows: Towards a Processual Philosophy of Science (2018)

There are also the rhythms of human culture – religious rites and festivals, financial boom/bust cycles, political cycles, educational cycles, and so on – as well as those of the individual psyche and spirit – the oscillating rhythms of sympathies and antipathies, fears and desires, and, uniquely to humans, ideas and ideals. All of these rhythms are superimposed in our experience – when we are reading these words, we are nested within a rhythm of perceiving visual shapes and the sounds of our inner voice and thinking through their meaning. That rhythm is nested within a rhythm of feeling, within particular emotions and moods that we are experiencing and that oscillate in a patterned way. That is further nested within a daily rhythm of tasks to perform. All of these may be nested within an educational rhythm, a career rhythm, a mid-life rhythm, and so on; we are also at the same time experiencing a breathing rhythm, pulse rhythm, metabolic rhythm, etc. Eventually, we may become sensitive to how all these rhythms are also nested within broader transpersonal rhythms involving our nation, our epoch of time, our species, and our planetary organism as a whole.

These rhythms characterize the polarized states of being a relative perspective endures within various domains of experience (sensory, emotional, mental, transpersonal) in the pursuit of conscious or unconscious intents. From our human relative perspective, we have developed intuition for the pace or tempo at which these states of being unfold in relation to one another, which was only later formalized as ‘units of time’. For example, the metamorphoses of our verbal thinking states are within the pace of ‘seconds’. That is the tempo at which our normal consciousness is most comfortable. If we look at a clock, the second hand seems to be always in movement, easy to pay attention to, while the minute and hour hands remain relatively fixed, and it won’t be long before we become impatient and lose interest in watching them. If there was a hand that moved in micro-seconds, it would be disorienting for us to try and follow its movement – that hand would be a blurry mess. It is similar to how, at the spatial level, we are most comfortable with medium-sized objects and beings, whereas small insects are more disturbing because we can never quite trace where they are, what they are doing, or how they move.

We intuitively feel that our thinking states must progress through a certain number of ‘ticks’ to complete characteristic rhythms of experience, such as the rhythm of a visible outer world that we formalize as a ‘day’. We partition the latter into segments (like morning, afternoon, evening) and ‘hours’ because we intuitively sense sub-rhythms that unfold while the outer world is visible. In the morning, we experience an abrupt incarnation into sensory impressions that must be navigated and understood to some extent, while in the evening we experience a gradual integration of the insightful fruits of that incarnation before dropping into unconsciousness. All rhythms can be understood as self-similar movements that involve analysis of experience and synthesis of the cognitive fruits, incarnation and excarnation, unfolding at various temporal scales. At the bodily level, it is clear how breath flows inwards and back outwards, and how blood flows from the center to the periphery and back. Through imaginative development, we become more sensitive to how these movements are also experiential and cognitive in nature.

That the relational movements are inwardly experienced is obvious in the case of psychic rhythms, but it is more difficult to notice for sensory rhythms that seem unrelated to our intents. In that case, people simply start to assume the outer rhythms reflect ironclad ‘laws of nature’ that have existed prior to any inner experience and have always been the same (uniformitarianism). Under this view, the phenomenological pacing of time within contextual relations of inner states is completely discarded. What pacing perspective should we use when investigating the metamorphoses of mechanical natural processes that occurred before any conscious perspective existed? How do we derive consistent ‘laws’ for these past epochs without knowing at what pace the ‘frames’ of phenomenal events transform? Such conundrums are not even taken seriously or investigated by standard scientific inquiry, but rather the current ‘ticks’ of verbal thinking states are unconsciously projected into all stages of evolutionary history. Under its own logic of mindless processes existing prior to consciousness, however, there is no conceivable justification for secular science to do so.

We cannot afford any such assumptions or projections if we aim to retrace the inner significance of the ever-evolving outer rhythms. Even at a superficial level, it is clear that evolving human ideas are completely entangled with natural rhythms. For example, the technology of geoengineering aims to modulate the Earth’s climate rhythms and that of gynecology aims to modulate reproductive rhythms. That is possible only if there is lawful continuity between rhythms of all domains and at all scales. In other words, it is possible only if all the rhythms are animated by spiritual activity at various ‘states of aggregation’, just like our local thinking-perception rhythm is animated by our conceptual activity. The idea that these natural rhythms could have modulated themselves ‘before’ there were any ideas is simply an assumption that is self-defeating and creates irresolvable experiential dualities. It is no arbitrary coincidence that the generation of new thought forms and the generation of new organic forms are both referred to as ‘conception’. In both cases, new forms are incarnated through spiritual activity and the spirit integrates new experiences through the forms, only at different temporal scales. So, as we see, the meaning of both spatial objects and temporal rhythms, cultural or natural, can be traced to characteristic inner experiences and intents.

Whatever unconscious intents are responsible for the natural rhythms, we know that they ‘hover above’ all the mental, emotional, and sensory states of being that unfold within their context like an aura that gives each state a special tint. During the daily rhythm between the Sun rising and setting, the fact that the World is visible and amenable to objective consciousness contextualizes everything we think, feel, and do. We entertain those feelings, ideas, and activities that are in keeping with this characteristic quality of the rhythm. In ancient times, the spirit could still resonate strongly with the supersensible aura clothing natural rhythms with inner meaning. The daily rhythm, among all others, was concretely felt as proceeding from the activity of supersensible beings; activity that was interwoven with their own psychic and bodily life. In that way, our ancestral spirit was more akin to the present-day consciousness of animals, which is in such instinctive resonance with its natural environment that the latter imprints itself right on the physical organization. That is the basis for camouflaging capacities, for example. The imagistic experience of an animal shapes not only its soul life but can also shape its physical structure in a direct way.

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Modern humanity retains such formative capacities, but they have become much more interiorized as soul and spiritual functions. We often speak of people “going with the flow” to merge with their cultural environment and become yet another indistinct member of some particular group, so as not to stand out too much. In that case, the environment impresses directly into their soul configuration, i.e. into what they think, feel, and do. These inner tendencies eventually work their way into bodily processes and forms as well, but the connection is not so obvious because of the ‘phase gap’ between inner activity and the physical forms that result from it. This gap became so extreme in modern times that people began confusing the outer forms and rhythms as the foundation of the soul-spiritual rhythms instead of vice versa. With enough time and cognitive effort, however, we invariably reach the conclusion that the totality of life experiences will imprint itself on the countenance, the skin, physical mannerisms, and many deeper parts of our physiology that we never observe. Because these physiological domains reside beyond the spirit’s normal sphere of resonance, we are apt to forget the cognitive connections made almost as soon as we make them.

As we have discussed, the spirit’s sphere of resonance now only extends to the mental rhythm and the flow of its conceptual connections – the intuitive logic of how concepts relate to one another. Although that inner logic is experienced as intuitively clear, it also lacks any sense of substantial reality. On the other hand, our physiological rhythms possess substantial reality but lack intuitive clarity (which is why it has become convenient to reduce their inner logic to mindless mechanisms). The mental rhythm must once again be permeated with the sense of reality, and the physiological rhythms permeated with the sense of intuitive clarity, by retracing the spiritual activity that animates the World rhythms. This retracing will, at the same time, heal the increasingly pathological split between human culture and outer nature, which is but a reflection of the inner split between the mental rhythm and the organic rhythms. The mental rhythm must be reunited with the life force that is characteristic of the deeper organic rhythms and the latter should be purified by the Light of moral intuition.

A comparison with the animal is again instructive since the animal’s dreamy conscious life is completely interwoven with its organic processes. We know that in human dream life, organic processes can appear as an objective ‘outer world’ for the dream character just as much as emotions and ideas. A headache can become a dark dungeon with cobwebs, a stomachache can become a pit of snakes, and so on. That is the permanent state of consciousness for the collective inner life of an animal species. The difference is that the meaning conveyed to the animal consciousness by these organic processes is not dim imagery to be interpreted piecemeal by the intellect, but the holistic wisdom that allows the animal to exhibit complex skills and complete the most intricate tasks related to its Earthly life. These capacities arise almost simultaneously with the animal’s need to use them, like the spider weaving its web or young birds building their nests. It’s interesting to note that young birds are often more skilled at building nests than older ones, which is the exact opposite of what we would expect when dealing with human beings.

The human conceptual life inserts a ‘circuit break’ between the flow of holistic wisdom and the development of necessary skills and this break leads to the process of learning and, likewise, the polar possibilities of ignorance and spiritual knowledge. The animal is practically born wisdom-filled and its capacity to ensoul and embody further wisdom is fundamentally limited by its physiological organization, whereas there is no such limit for human beings. Once we complete our instinctive development, we start with intuitive clarity about the cause of our stream of thought-perceptions (our intimately known activity is that cause) and ignorance about the causes for the perceptual flow of soul processes, physical processes, the alternation of day/night, seasons, epochs, etc. The latter meet us as mysterious processes that we can only abstractly reflect upon with our insubstantial thoughts. Nevertheless, we have inner knowledge of one crucial thing about them - how they modify and constrain our intuitively transparent thinking activity in characteristic ways.

So, we are not without recourse here - there is an overlap between knowledge of our inner thinking rhythm and the broader World rhythms insofar as the latter shape and steer the former as a riverbed shapes and steers the water streaming through it. Whatever the inner nature of our physical, biological, and psychological rhythms, or the environmental rhythms of minerals, plants, animals, and other humans, it is clear that these riverbeds shape our intentional activity. It is enough to notice how our beliefs, our temperament, our native language, highway construction, or a severe thunderstorm prevents us from pursuing certain paths of mental, emotional, and sensory experience, while pushing us into the vicinity of other paths. Our intentional activity meets varying levels of resistance as it flows through these superimposed riverbeds of experience and receives a varying intensity and quality of feedback from flowing through them. That allows it to triangulate its intuition of the Whole from diverse experiential angles, provided that it remains awake to this function of the riverbeds and does not idolize them as independent realities.

Imagine you are sitting at a table in a crowded restaurant that is right on the beach. When you move your head in one direction or another, the sound of voices at your table noticeably shifts – there is tight feedback between your activity and the sound perceptions. The speech rhythms at other tables still sound like blurry background noise when moving your head, but if you actively focus your attention on the direction of another table, the conversation there becomes clearer while your own table conversation becomes fuzzier. The rhythmic sound of the seagulls hovering above your side of the restaurant remains relatively constant when you move your head or focus your attention, but if you get up and move to the other side of the restaurant, there is also a shift in that perception. No matter how you move your head, focus your attention, or relocate in the restaurant, the rhythmic sound of ocean waves crashing ashore remains constant. It is in that sense we can speak of superimposed experiential rhythms that contextualize (constrain) our activity in distinct and lawful ways, except the inner contextual rhythms don’t only modulate our sense perceptions but also our thoughts, emotions, intents, careers, relationships, etc.; our mental, psychic, and organic processes.

Our activity is normally too weak and insensitive to penetrate the inner nature of these riverbeds through which it flows, as we discussed in the previous essay. We can only reflect on them abstractly with our thoughts and speculate, yet these speculative thoughts are themselves shaped by the riverbeds we are trying to investigate with them. In that sense, the whole process can become a recursive paradox, like a snake trying to eat its own tail - the thinking that is trying to capture the reality of the riverbeds is itself being morphed and shaped by the riverbeds as it thinks about them. Imagine you are a botanist trying to study the structure of a certain plant, but every time you take a step, move an arm, or shift the direction of your eyes, the structure of the plant morphs into something else. This ‘paradox’, which is always occurring, has been empirically established at the quantum level where conditions are made favorable to notice it – the observer is always entangled with the state of what is being observed. The reason such paradoxes exist is immediately illuminated when we try to inwardly observe our own spiritual activity and its constraints.

In the experience of that activity, we already have a tiny corner of the universal ‘temporal law’ that intuitively guides the intent-driven metamorphoses of the World rhythms. The retracing technique does not try to capture that deeper activity in fully formed concepts but rather seeks to cognitively feel its way into the ongoing flow of activity before it is crystallized (deadened) into inner and outer perceptions. It allows the spirit to expand its state of resonance into the normally subconscious elemental and archetypal rhythms; into the macrocosmic intents and their microcosmic reflections. Then we gain intuitive sensitivity for how our inner impulses are inextricably bound up with those animating the World rhythms. The experience of each individual is contextualized by all of these superimposed rhythms whose unfolding can be retraced to purely inner relations. To begin with, we only have creative responsibility within the active thinking rhythm that proceeds from our intent, while we can only abstractly reflect upon those that proceed from transpersonal intents, like the seasonal or metabolic rhythms.

Yet we know there are rhythms that we can only reflect upon at first, which seem to proceed according to ‘natural law’, but can later become rhythms we creatively participate in through inner effort, like psychic habits or even physiological rhythms. Through certain meditative practices, the spirit can creatively intervene in the unfoldment of the breathing rhythm, for example, which was the basis of ancient yoga. When we inwardly penetrate these psychic and bodily rhythms through retracing, we are also becoming familiar with Cultural, Natural, and Cosmic rhythms that unfold in the outer perceptual environment, since they are both structured by the same spiritual intents, just like my invisible thoughts and the perceptible words reflecting their meaning are structured by my unified intent. They are the same reality viewed from polar opposite cognitive perspectives, from within and from without. There is an intimate polar relation between the stellar rhythms of the Cosmos and those of human embryological development, for example. These polar relations manifest in both time and space.

If we are following the logic carefully, then it becomes evident that every experience is thinking confronting its own activity. It is only that the spiritual activity confronted by thinking is more or less attenuated from the spirit’s current state of resonance at any given time. The sounds of our inner voice, the sounds of other voices, the chirping of birds, the crash of ocean waves, the sound of our breathing, the beating of our pulse, etc. – all of that is the manifestation of spiritual activity along a gradient of attenuation. The natural sciences and ordinary thinking take their start from the most attenuated activity that has been crystallized within the sensory spectrum. Within this spectrum, what the spirit is doing with its activity and the conscious content of that activity are most out-of-phase with one another. Somewhat ironically and tragically, ordinary thinking in the modern age has become the most confident of its results when it investigates the experiential domain where it has the least intuitive insight.

The modern initiation of spiritual retracing, on the other hand, begins with the least attenuated activity, i.e. where the spirit observes the flow of pure thought-perceptions (mental pictures or inner voice sounds) that manifest in-phase with its activity at the exceptional point. It then gradually brings that activity in-phase with the more integrated spiritual activity that animates the constraining rhythms. Normally, these constraints are conceived as extended across long temporal spans. For example, the psychic constraints of beliefs, opinions, interests, character, and temperament are conceived as aspects of soul life that we have gradually built up through many life experiences and ideas, through the endurance of many states of being. Yet at the foundation of such psychic constraints are holistic intents; more integrated spiritual activity which serves as resistance for our conceptual activity. These more integrated forms of spiritual activity are superimposed on our momentary states of perception and can be retraced.

As we discussed in Part IV, most of our daily experiences are unfree, passively conditioned by rhythms that the spirit feels thrown into and tossed around on as clothes in a laundry cycle. It is only when the spirit actively wills its thinking movement, out of only its Love to explore reality’s inner relations, that it begins to experience freedom for the first time. The free act of concentration, which we briefly experimented with in the previous parts, is the natural continuation of the principled phenomenological explorations we have been engaging. It is the means for the spirit to further extricate from its habitual thinking activity and ascend along the gradient of free and lucid consciousness. We can never stumble into the act of concentration, awaken, and say, 'Oh great, it appears I am concentrating now!', like we can with most other sensory activities. The spirit must be deliberate, present, and active the whole way - if it is truly concentrated, it will always know exactly how it reached its current state. In other words, it can always retrace the contextual rhythms that are constraining and funneling its current experiential state.

This sort of inner activity has been referred to as 'creation ex nihilo' by the initiates. It is an act of the spirit that cannot be traced back to any causal chain of necessity, rather emanating from the intuitive and inexhaustible depths of superimposed potentiality. It is an act independent of past karmic factors which condition the spirit’s experience; independent of all the various riverbeds etched through the instinctive spaces. Nevertheless, the experience of the act is still constrained and formatted by those contextual rhythms and, by concentrating the ray of its imaginative activity, the spirit grows ever-more sensitive to the latter’s inner dimensions. It bumps up against the inner constraints and remains fully awake in the process, learning about their inner ‘geometry’, i.e. their temporally patterned configurations. The spirit learns to live in more integrated phases of its existence which, somewhat paradoxically, feel familiar to it, as if it had always been active there.

One of the most difficult mental obstacles to overcome in orienting to this possibility of retracing into the World rhythms is that of linear sequential time, i.e. a set of infinite moments are felt to exist in a domain of receding experience that we call the ‘past’ or ‘memory’ and another set of such moments is felt to exist in the domain of non-existent experience that we call the ‘future’. Both of these domains are felt to exist quite independently of the spirit’s activity, and the latter is felt as contained ‘inside’ the immutable march of sequential moments. With such a mental habit, it will always be difficult to sense the temporal depth that exists within each moment of existence. We tried to decondition a bit from that habit in Parts V and VI through the discussion of relative contextual perspectives structuring each other’s flow of temporal experience. We spoke of how a momentary imaginative intent of the angelic perspective structures many conceptual-sensory human states of being spread across time. By retracing into the former through concentration, we make more and more sense of the latter.

We can also use the following experiment to gain a better orientation to how our retracing technique leads into these temporally thick layers of our momentary state.

Galileo Galilei's pendulum experiments began in 1602 and lasted for much of his life. He was inspired to study pendulums after noticing a lamp swinging back and forth in a church in Pisa while he was still a student there. Galileo observed that the lamp repeated the same pattern of swing each time, and used his pulse to time the swing. He concluded that the time it takes for a pendulum to complete a single oscillation, or period, is constant. Galileo also discovered that the period of swing is independent of the pendulum's amplitude.

In our context, we can take the period or the ‘sweep volume’ of the pendulum to represent the number of states of being (including sensations, emotions, thoughts, intents) that are experienced by a relative perspective within a contextual rhythm of experience. The length of the string is the central axis that all relative perspectives share in common, the fundamental rhythm of intuition-perception that we explored in Part VI. Since the central axis remains constant, it takes the same amount of time for the spirit (pendulum) to sweep a large spectrum of states in a higher contextualizing rhythm as it does for it to sweep a smaller spectrum of states in a lower contextualized rhythm. This ‘period’ of the ideal rhythm is independent of the relative perspective’s ‘mass’, i.e. the level of the perspective’s relative influence within the contextual architecture. In other words, implicit in any momentary state of existence experienced by a relative perspective within the conceptual-sensory rhythm is also the spectrum of all possible states of existence experienced within the deeper ideal rhythms. The former can only carry the meaning it does because of that implicit depth context that exists within the same ‘current moment’.

If we can stabilize the oscillations within any given momentary state, as discussed in Part VI, we become more and more sensitive to the wider spectrum of states that is always present in the former. This wider spectrum encompasses states that are felt to be both ‘past’ and ‘future’ in relation to our momentary conceptual-sensory perspective. When the spirit retraces its activity, it ascends along the Central axis of the string and experiences the more expansive sweep volumes of potential states. We could say that it ‘splits’ the current moment into ever-finer temporal slices of its intuitive movements which are normally merged together in the final act of thinking-perception. These are the movements within more holistic states that make possible all of our memories, qualities, skills, capacities, and relationships; our organic and physical structures and rhythms. These states are increasingly shared between relative perspectives as we retrace the length of string, just like our thoughts, emotions, protein structures, and atomic structures progress from more individualized to more universally shared (every being in the known Universe has identical atomic structure).

Through this principle, significant light is shed on many phenomenal rhythms of the Cosmos and within the human organism. For example, we know that the human embryo recapitulates the entire history of organic development before it reaches something like the current human form. Such phenomena only become somewhat comprehensible in a concrete way when we discern how the processes at work in the mother’s womb within the span of weeks and months sweep a volume of states that were only swept over thousands and thousands of years in outer nature. It is a similar principle with many chemical reactions that occur within the human organism in the process of digestion – these same processes span much longer durations when taking place in outer nature. Another example is the conjunction between planets that occur periodically and, while they only last for maybe a few days, they structure Earthly states of being for many years. When the rising Sun at the vernal equinox coincides with a new Zodiacal sign, it structures humanity’s states of being for about 2,100 years.

So we see that, far from being some exotic speculations with only philosophical relevance, these principles of Time-consciousness help us understand how the experiential realities within us and around us truly unfold, not through mechanisms, but through organic and ideal rhythms that overlap and contextualize one another. They help make transparent phenomenal realities that would otherwise remain ‘occult’. With that said, these analogies and principles should only be used as versatile tools for orienting toward specific intuitions on our inward journey, not as rigid and encompassing models of reality. The aim of spiritual retracing is not to remain with a mere framework of principles, as elucidating as they may be, but to progressively ensoul and embody these principles as individuals and collectives. In all cases, the principles should be continually tested against ever-expanding constellations of experiential facts.2

In the next part, we will continue fleshing out these principles of retracing spiritual activity into Time-consciousness with more practical considerations.

1 - John 3:8
“The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”

2- 1 Thessalonians 5:21
“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”
"A secret law contrives,
To give time symmetry:
There is, within our lives,
An exact mystery."
Federica
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Re: Essay: Retracing Spiritual Activity (Part VII)

Post by Federica »

AshvinP wrote: Wed Jun 12, 2024 12:31 pm
Cleric K wrote: Wed Jun 12, 2024 10:49 am In the phenomenological approach things are different. I don't know if it has been deliberately chosen but the abbreviature NOW makes an important reference to time. In a sense, we know only an eternal now. It's not just a spatial window but a Moment of experience. If the rhythms of the now are completely self-similar, as we can metaphorically depict like this:

...

then fast and slow don't have meaning - a rotation at any scale is indistinguishable from rotation at any other scale. It is not possible for one scale to serve as a context for another. However, if the rhythms have different qualitative natures, then our now feels as placed somewhere within the spacetime contextuality. Now we feel as if the gear at our thinking scale must turn so and so many times before a larger gear makes a full revolution, which we anticipate as, say, being on vacation. It is a very powerful step when we begin to grasp time not as an axis that goes in the past and future but as nested rotations (of intuitive intents), which all happen in the NOW, yet their relative phases lead to unique rhythmic relations that need to be endured until they approach self-similarity and thus eternity/timelessness.

Thanks, Cleric and Federica, for sharing the JR video and this fascinating discussion. I am still working on the next essay part, but as usual, things have become very resonant :) In fact, I decided to take a stab at addressing this NOW issue early on, but it's difficult for me to assess how coherent it is. I will share the relevant excerpts here, keeping in mind there is some discussion that is omitted between the paragraphs. Hopefully, it helps orient readers to nested Time-consciousness to some extent and I am open to any suggestions for refining the ideas or the clarity of the presentation.

***

Very little attention is normally paid to the rhythms through which our meaningful experience unfolds, even though they are obvious and ubiquitous in that experience. The great rhythms of the Sun, Moon, planets, and stars structure our epochal, yearly, seasonal, monthly, weekly, and daily cycles (among others). There are the biological rhythms of Nature, including those of the human organism. The plant, animal, and human bodies are essentially a complex of overlapping rhythms such as breathing, blood circulation, hormonal, metabolic, reproductive, etc. Such rhythms speak volumes about the nature of humanity and the World if we remain attentive to their inner gestures, rather than only their outer appearances. It is through them that the Spirit manifests its contextualized intents within sensory life in a temporally patterned and therefore somewhat predictable way. Even the sense-perceptible physical body undergoes a periodic rhythm by which its entire material structure is pushed out into the surrounding environment and built anew from spiritual forces within. Most simply assume the material constituents are the same because they fail to perceive how it is destroyed, reduced to chaos, and new matter brought into manifest existence.
...
There are also the rhythms of human culture – religious rites and festivals, financial boom/bust cycles, political cycles, and so on – as well as those of the individual psyche and spirit – the oscillating rhythms of sympathies and antipathies, fears and desires, and, uniquely to humans, ideas and ideals. These rhythms characterize the polarized states of being a relative perspective endures within various domains of experience (sensory, emotional, mental) in the pursuit of conscious or unconscious intents. That is quite obvious in the case of psychic rhythms, but it is more difficult to notice for sensory rhythms that seem unrelated to our intents. In that case, people simply start to assume the outer rhythms reflect ironclad ‘laws of nature’ that have always been the same (uniformitarianism). We cannot afford any such assumptions if we aim to retrace the inner significance of the ever-evolving outer rhythms. Even at a superficial level, it is clear that evolving human ideas are completely entangled with natural rhythms. For example, the technology of geoengineering aims to modulate the Earth’s climate rhythms and that of gynecology aims to modulate reproductive rhythms. That is possible only if there is lawful continuity between rhythms of all domains and at all scales. In other words, it is possible only if all the rhythms are animated by spiritual activity at various ‘states of aggregation’.
...
The retracing technique does not try to capture that activity in fully formed concepts, but rather seeks to cognitively feel its way into the ongoing flow of activity before it is crystallized in concepts and perceptions. It allows the spirit to expand its state of resonance outwards and inwards, so to speak, into the normally subconscious elemental and archetypal rhythms, the macrocosmic intents and their microcosmic reflections. Then we gain intuitive sensitivity for how our inner impulses are inextricably bound up with those animating the World rhythms. The experience of each individual is contextualized by all of these superimposed rhythms that are intimately related to one another and whose unfolding can be retraced to purely inner relations. The individual rhythms of the mental space are the ones that put us into the most intimate experiential connection with the essential nature of the broader World rhythms, but as mentioned above, they lack a sense of substantial reality. They have been deprived of the life force that is characteristic of the deeper biological and physiological rhythms.
...
The modern initiation of spiritual retracing, on the other hand, begins with the least attenuated activity, where the spirit observes the flow of pure thought-perceptions (mental pictures or inner voice sounds) that manifest in-phase with its activity. It then gradually brings that activity in-phase with the higher-order activity that animates the constraining rhythms. Normally, these constraints are conceived as being extended across long temporal spans. For example, the psychic constraints of beliefs, opinions, interests, character, temperament are conceived as aspects of soul life that we have gradually built up through many life experiences and ideas, through the endurance of many states of being. Yet at the foundation of such psychic constraints are holistic intents; more integrated spiritual activity which serves as resistance for our conceptual activity. These more integrated forms of spiritual activity are superimposed on our momentary states of perception and can be retraced.
...
One of the most difficult mental obstacles to overcome in orienting to this possibility of retracing into the World rhythms is that of linear sequential time, i.e. a set of infinite moments are felt to exist in a domain of receding experience that we call the ‘past’ or ‘memory’ and another set of such moments is felt to exist in the domain of non-existent experience that we call the ‘future’. Both of these domains are felt to exist quite independently of the spirit’s activity, and the latter is felt as contained ‘inside’ the immutable march of sequential moments. With such a mental habit, it will always be difficult to sense the temporal depth that exists within each moment of existence. We tried to decondition a bit from that habit in Parts V and VI through the discussion of relative contextual perspectives structuring each other’s flow of temporal experience. We spoke of how a momentary imaginative intent of the angelic perspective structures many conceptual-sensory human states of being spread across time. By retracing into the former through concentration, we make more and more sense of the latter.

We can also use the following experiment to gain a better orientation to how our retracing technique leads into these temporally thick layers of our momentary state.
Galileo Galilei's pendulum experiments began in 1602 and lasted for much of his life. He was inspired to study pendulums after noticing a lamp swinging back and forth in a church in Pisa while he was still a student there. Galileo observed that the lamp repeated the same pattern of swing each time, and used his pulse to time the swing. He concluded that the time it takes for a pendulum to complete a single oscillation, or period, is constant. Galileo also discovered that the period of swing is independent of the pendulum's amplitude.




In our context, we can take the amplitude or the ‘sweep volume’ of the pendulum to represent the number of states of being (including sensations, emotions, thoughts, intents) that are experienced within a contextual sphere of experience at any given current moment. The length of string is the central axis that all relative perspectives share in common, the fundamental rhythm of intuition-perception that we explored in Part VI. Since the central axis remains constant, it takes the same amount of time for the spirit (pendulum) to sweep a large spectrum of states in a higher contextual sphere as it does for it to sweep a smaller spectrum of states in a lower sphere. In other words, we can say that, implicit in any momentary state of existence experienced within the fourth sphere is also the spectrum of all possible states of existence within the higher spheres. The former can only carry the meaning it does because of that implicit depth context which exists within the same ‘current moment’. If we can stabilize the oscillations within any given momentary state, as discussed in Part VI, we become more and more sensitive to the wider spectrum of states that is always present in the former. This wider spectrum encompasses states that are felt to be both ‘past’ and ‘future’ in relation to our momentary conceptual-sensory perspective. (Cosmic Memory, GA 11 Ch XIII)

Through this principle, significant light is shed on many phenomenal rhythms of the Cosmos and within the human organism. For example, we know that the human embryo recapitulates the entire history of organic development before it reaches something like the current human form. Such phenomena only become somewhat comprehensible in a concrete way when we discern how the processes at work in the mother’s womb within the span of months sweep a volume of states that can only be swept over thousands and thousands of years in outer nature. It is a similar principle with many chemical reactions that occur within the human organism in the process of digestion – these same processes span much longer durations when taking place in outer nature. Another example is the conjunction between planets that occur periodically and, while they only last for maybe a few days, they structure Earthly states of being for many years. When the rising Sun at the vernal equinox coincides with a new Zodiacal sign, it structures humanity’s states of being for about 2,100 years.

So we see that, far from being some exotic speculations with only philosophical relevance, these principles of Time-consciousness help us understand how the experiential realities within us and around us truly unfold, not through mechanisms, but through organic and ideal rhythms that overlap and contextualize one another. They help make transparent phenomenal realities that would otherwise remain ‘occult’.

Thank you Ashvin, for another captivating episode in your future saga of retracing!
I prefer to comment on these sections first, which I started before you posted the entire essay part. These I read carefully, while I will need to read Part VII again later. I feel the more the retracing process is taken forward, the more difficult it gets to effectively transduce it, through greater and greater lengths, to the point of intelligible conceptualization which, for its part, remains fixed in its origin. The reader may have followed the previous episodes, but the demand of putting finer and finer things in intellectually readable form remains whole. Since my own understanding of time is partial, the following is meant as a subjective perspective, possibly representative of some tier of your present or future readers. As in the previous parts, the wealth of examples is very inspiring. Some are new, and go beyond the soul curvatures, which I really appreciated. So the few points I have on these paragraphs are mainly on words. In some cases the words have slowed me down.


Such rhythms speak volumes about the nature of humanity and the World if we remain attentive to their inner gestures, rather than only their outer appearances (…)
Even at a superficial level, it is clear that evolving human ideas are completely entangled with natural rhythms. For example, the technology of geoengineering aims to modulate the Earth’s climate rhythms and that of gynecology aims to modulate reproductive rhythms. That is possible only if there is lawful continuity between rhythms of all domains and at all scales. In other words, it is possible only if all the rhythms are animated by spiritual activity at various ‘states of aggregation’.



What is the inner gesture of a rhythm? - could the reader wonder. This becomes clearer at the end, but stated upfront it could possibly remain obscure? Maybe this whole point, including the outer examples, would serve the argument better if given at the end, together with the example of the embryo? Because in this configuration, I can easily imagine the rationalist objecting: sure there is lawful continuity and interrelation in nature’s various cycles, nature has its laws, but this doesn’t imply aggregating spiritual activity, whatever ‘aggregation’ may indicate.


I don’t know if it’s only me, but the word and concept of rhythm doesn’t seem to bring strong intuition to me. Rhythm sounds abstract, rather than expressing various levels of intentionality. While reading, I’ve been wondering if it wouldn’t be more explicit to speak of processes (or cyclical processes), curvatures, or rotations, at some occasions. For example here:


The experience of each individual is contextualized by all of these superimposed rhythms that are intimately related to one another and whose unfolding can be retraced to purely inner relations. The individual rhythms of the mental space are the ones that put us into the most intimate experiential connection with the essential nature of the broader World rhythms, but as mentioned above, they lack a sense of substantial reality. They have been deprived of the life force that is characteristic of the deeper biological and physiological rhythms.


Will the reader smoothly get that “the individual rhythms of mental space” are our thinking activity, and that the World rhythms are the curvatures of spiritual activity of other beings? It’s maybe not immediately clear how there is a regularity of pace (rhythm) in these activities.

And I also noticed the word “integrated” activity, for what’s been so far mainly referred to as “cohered” activity. Could these be worth connecting? For example:

Yet at the foundation of such psychic constraints are holistic intents; more integrated spiritual activity which serves as resistance for our conceptual activity. These more integrated forms of spiritual activity are superimposed on our momentary states of perception and can be retraced.

Here I would have liked to have something additional about the more integrated forms being more cohered, more heavy with potentiality, hence less sunk in sequential time, less drenched in the spatiotemporal experiential flow. An idea of trade-off would perhaps make it easier to leverage the image of concentrated activity so meaningfully provided in Part VI, to grasp the idea of time-consciousness as a spectrum, forming from an operating trade-off. A spectrum - or a portion of spectrum - that can start to be known/intuited at once in the now. And that such enrichment of the feeling of now can be intuitively qualified as temporally thick.

Temporality is felt as thicker and thicker through the act of encompassing more potential precipitations of intelligent intents in their uncollapsed status, when they remain open to the manifold patterns of precipitation into sequential cycles of phenomena, so that the standard sense of passing of time is triggered. And here I wonder if the metaphorical idea of extension of the now-perception doesn’t risk locking the reader into an image of spatio-temporal extension, in terms of length, sequence, radius, or amplitude of a pendulum. The logic of the metaphor of the pendulum is perfectly fitting, but for my part I found the Moiré patterns more intuitive, because of the rotations. And I wonder if (this is only a vague idea) instead of the idea of expanding our now, one could imagine making the bigger rotations contract-rotate within our now horizon, sort of like plisse fabric, so that the more integrated rhythms (cohered ideational content) can be captured by more attuned 'thinking ears'. Maybe file compression as a metaphor could also help? Like zipping those higher files/ideas. Not that we can change them, but we can behold them all at once by retaining them in zipped, potential, non-collapsed form, in the slots that we have carved out for them through concentrated attention.
As said, this being all tentative and fully subjective.
"As much or as little as healthy thinking has to do with the body, just so much and so little have the activities of a genuine training for supersensible knowledge. Any kind of training that affects man in a different way is no true spiritual training, but a caricature of it."
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Re: Essay: Retracing Spiritual Activity (Part VII)

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Federica wrote: Sun Jun 16, 2024 8:49 pm Thank you Ashvin, for another captivating episode in your future saga of retracing!
I prefer to comment on these sections first, which I started before you posted the entire essay part. These I read carefully, while I will need to read Part VII again later.

Thanks, Federica! I actually had made significant alterations of Part VII on substack (not sure which one you read) and forgot to make the corresponding updates here. They are matching now. It got too long so I removed the Mandelbrot metaphor and will incorporate that into the next essay, which will hopefully also be easier to follow in general.

Just wanted to give that notice and will respond to your comments tomorrow.
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To give time symmetry:
There is, within our lives,
An exact mystery."
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Re: Essay: Retracing Spiritual Activity (Part VII)

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Federica wrote: Sun Jun 16, 2024 8:49 pm What is the inner gesture of a rhythm? - could the reader wonder. This becomes clearer at the end, but stated upfront it could possibly remain obscure? Maybe this whole point, including the outer examples, would serve the argument better if given at the end, together with the example of the embryo? Because in this configuration, I can easily imagine the rationalist objecting: sure there is lawful continuity and interrelation in nature’s various cycles, nature has its laws, but this doesn’t imply aggregating spiritual activity, whatever ‘aggregation’ may indicate.


I don’t know if it’s only me, but the word and concept of rhythm doesn’t seem to bring strong intuition to me. Rhythm sounds abstract, rather than expressing various levels of intentionality. While reading, I’ve been wondering if it wouldn’t be more explicit to speak of processes (or cyclical processes), curvatures, or rotations, at some occasions. For example here:


The experience of each individual is contextualized by all of these superimposed rhythms that are intimately related to one another and whose unfolding can be retraced to purely inner relations. The individual rhythms of the mental space are the ones that put us into the most intimate experiential connection with the essential nature of the broader World rhythms, but as mentioned above, they lack a sense of substantial reality. They have been deprived of the life force that is characteristic of the deeper biological and physiological rhythms.


Will the reader smoothly get that “the individual rhythms of mental space” are our thinking activity, and that the World rhythms are the curvatures of spiritual activity of other beings? It’s maybe not immediately clear how there is a regularity of pace (rhythm) in these activities.

Thanks for this feedback. As a general note, I have kind of been assuming my 'target audience' for these essays will be spiritual scientists of some form or another. Not that I don't want others to read them as well, but I don't think it's likely. Even amongst the Anthroposophists and spiritual scientists and esotericists, I imagine only a few are keeping up in real-time and reading the essays with great care. Perhaps only you, Cleric, Max, and maybe one other. A few others may catch up sometime next year :) I have to remind myself few people have the enthusiasm for long-winded phenomenology like I do. There are just so many other things to read out there, so I imagine most people skim the essays at best and move on. That being said, there have been a few comments that give hope such as this one from Discord:

Just finished part V. This is great stuff. You have a unique talent for re-presenting spiritual science in different language... Conceptualizing the kingdoms of nature as nested temporal modalities (I'd have to go back and read it again to remember the exact terminology you used) was very intriguing. When I think about it, what you're saying is right there in works like Theosophy, but it's not expressed that way. Having the additional perspective is helpful. Steiner loved to talk about "photographing the tree from different angles." I think you've captured the tree at a particularly good angle with these essays.

If only one or two people (besides us) understand the essays with that depth, I am happy! So I don't put much thought into addressing the objections of anyone holding out hope for materialist or dualist reductionistic explanations of phenomenal processes. Instead, I assume the people reading already understand reality must be experiential and unified, and hopefully are quite open that experience always implies spiritual activity, even if the relation is not obvious at first.

I sort of understand what you mean re: "rhythm", although for me the concept speaks directly to temporally patterned spiritual activity, such as experience in the rhythm of music. It is true that we have a hard time discerning this rhythmic structure in our soul experience (apart from obvious sensory rhythms like day/night, seasons, bodily processes). Retracing spiritual activity is synonymous with becoming more attuned to the inner rhythms, individual and collective, through which our soul experience unfolds. I also am hoping that people who work through the essays with the needed imaginative effort and depth will appreciate the alternation between terms for the same underlying intuition, like 'rhythms, processes, curvatures' etc. They will experience more of the Spirit embodied in the various symbolic textual forms, which provide slightly different angles on the intuition at issue.

Federica wrote:And I also noticed the word “integrated” activity, for what’s been so far mainly referred to as “cohered” activity. Could these be worth connecting? For example:

Yet at the foundation of such psychic constraints are holistic intents; more integrated spiritual activity which serves as resistance for our conceptual activity. These more integrated forms of spiritual activity are superimposed on our momentary states of perception and can be retraced.

Here I would have liked to have something additional about the more integrated forms being more cohered, more heavy with potentiality, hence less sunk in sequential time, less drenched in the spatiotemporal experiential flow. An idea of trade-off would perhaps make it easier to leverage the image of concentrated activity so meaningfully provided in Part VI, to grasp the idea of time-consciousness as a spectrum, forming from an operating trade-off. A spectrum - or a portion of spectrum - that can start to be known/intuited at once in the now. And that such enrichment of the feeling of now can be intuitively qualified as temporally thick.

Temporality is felt as thicker and thicker through the act of encompassing more potential precipitations of intelligent intents in their uncollapsed status, when they remain open to the manifold patterns of precipitation into sequential cycles of phenomena, so that the standard sense of passing of time is triggered. And here I wonder if the metaphorical idea of extension of the now-perception doesn’t risk locking the reader into an image of spatio-temporal extension, in terms of length, sequence, radius, or amplitude of a pendulum. The logic of the metaphor of the pendulum is perfectly fitting, but for my part I found the Moiré patterns more intuitive, because of the rotations. And I wonder if (this is only a vague idea) instead of the idea of expanding our now, one could imagine making the bigger rotations contract-rotate within our now horizon, sort of like plisse fabric, so that the more integrated rhythms (cohered ideational content) can be captured by more attuned 'thinking ears'. Maybe file compression as a metaphor could also help? Like zipping those higher files/ideas. Not that we can change them, but we can behold them all at once by retaining them in zipped, potential, non-collapsed form, in the slots that we have carved out for them through concentrated attention.
As said, this being all tentative and fully subjective.

I like the temporally thick metaphor and tried to introduce that briefly in Part VI. The reality is that there are infinite metaphors that could be employed for these intuitions of the higher spaces and their overlap with normal experience, so it's difficult to figure out which ones are best at any given time within the context of the essay themes and flow. I am simply flowing with my inspiration on any given week for the most part, not thinking too much about selecting the 'right' metaphors. In all cases, the readers will need to exert imaginative effort to 'fill in the gaps', so to speak, and resist latching onto the misleading aspects of a metaphor while extracting the intuitive fruits. I try to mention 'superposition' or 'superimposed' as much as possible so as to decondition from the mental habit of imagining separate layers of reality with different spatiotemporal 'extensions' and so forth.

I would encourage you to elaborate some of these metaphors you are exploring on the forum! It's a great exercise for you and can also help orient our intuition further.
"A secret law contrives,
To give time symmetry:
There is, within our lives,
An exact mystery."
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Re: Essay: Retracing Spiritual Activity (Part VII)

Post by Federica »

AshvinP wrote: Mon Jun 17, 2024 3:29 pm
Thanks for this feedback. As a general note, I have kind of been assuming my 'target audience' for these essays will be spiritual scientists of some form or another. Not that I don't want others to read them as well, but I don't think it's likely. Even amongst the Anthroposophists and spiritual scientists and esotericists, I imagine only a few are keeping up in real-time and reading the essays with great care. Perhaps only you, Cleric, Max, and maybe one other. A few others may catch up sometime next year :) I have to remind myself few people have the enthusiasm for long-winded phenomenology like I do. There are just so many other things to read out there, so I imagine most people skim the essays at best and move on. That being said, there have been a few comments that give hope such as this one from Discord:

Just finished part V. This is great stuff. You have a unique talent for re-presenting spiritual science in different language... Conceptualizing the kingdoms of nature as nested temporal modalities (I'd have to go back and read it again to remember the exact terminology you used) was very intriguing. When I think about it, what you're saying is right there in works like Theosophy, but it's not expressed that way. Having the additional perspective is helpful. Steiner loved to talk about "photographing the tree from different angles." I think you've captured the tree at a particularly good angle with these essays.
Nice comment from Discord. What you could do is put the episodes in a book and on Amazon! Why not?
Yes they are free on Substack, but a collection is a different 'product'.
Instead of redeeming mushrooms, you could redeem unpublished ideas :) Sounds great doesn't it.
"As much or as little as healthy thinking has to do with the body, just so much and so little have the activities of a genuine training for supersensible knowledge. Any kind of training that affects man in a different way is no true spiritual training, but a caricature of it."
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Re: Essay: Retracing Spiritual Activity (Part VII)

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Federica wrote: Mon Jun 17, 2024 7:27 pm
AshvinP wrote: Mon Jun 17, 2024 3:29 pm
Thanks for this feedback. As a general note, I have kind of been assuming my 'target audience' for these essays will be spiritual scientists of some form or another. Not that I don't want others to read them as well, but I don't think it's likely. Even amongst the Anthroposophists and spiritual scientists and esotericists, I imagine only a few are keeping up in real-time and reading the essays with great care. Perhaps only you, Cleric, Max, and maybe one other. A few others may catch up sometime next year :) I have to remind myself few people have the enthusiasm for long-winded phenomenology like I do. There are just so many other things to read out there, so I imagine most people skim the essays at best and move on. That being said, there have been a few comments that give hope such as this one from Discord:

Just finished part V. This is great stuff. You have a unique talent for re-presenting spiritual science in different language... Conceptualizing the kingdoms of nature as nested temporal modalities (I'd have to go back and read it again to remember the exact terminology you used) was very intriguing. When I think about it, what you're saying is right there in works like Theosophy, but it's not expressed that way. Having the additional perspective is helpful. Steiner loved to talk about "photographing the tree from different angles." I think you've captured the tree at a particularly good angle with these essays.
Nice comment from Discord. What you could do is put the episodes in a book and on Amazon! Why not?
Yes they are free on Substack, but a collection is a different 'product'.
Instead of redeeming mushrooms, you could redeem unpublished ideas :) Sounds great doesn't it.

I think you are more confident in the quality of the essays than I am :)

I feel it would take A LOT of work to make it into something publishable as a book, and I would need to get rid of all my cool GIFs :)

But I am curious why you feel it would help to publish it and make people pay for it rather than offer it for free?
"A secret law contrives,
To give time symmetry:
There is, within our lives,
An exact mystery."
Federica
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Re: Essay: Retracing Spiritual Activity (Part VII)

Post by Federica »

AshvinP wrote: Mon Jun 17, 2024 11:09 pm
Federica wrote: Mon Jun 17, 2024 7:27 pm
AshvinP wrote: Mon Jun 17, 2024 3:29 pm
Thanks for this feedback. As a general note, I have kind of been assuming my 'target audience' for these essays will be spiritual scientists of some form or another. Not that I don't want others to read them as well, but I don't think it's likely. Even amongst the Anthroposophists and spiritual scientists and esotericists, I imagine only a few are keeping up in real-time and reading the essays with great care. Perhaps only you, Cleric, Max, and maybe one other. A few others may catch up sometime next year :) I have to remind myself few people have the enthusiasm for long-winded phenomenology like I do. There are just so many other things to read out there, so I imagine most people skim the essays at best and move on. That being said, there have been a few comments that give hope such as this one from Discord:


Nice comment from Discord. What you could do is put the episodes in a book and on Amazon! Why not?
Yes they are free on Substack, but a collection is a different 'product'.
Instead of redeeming mushrooms, you could redeem unpublished ideas :) Sounds great doesn't it.

I think you are more confident in the quality of the essays than I am :)

I feel it would take A LOT of work to make it into something publishable as a book, and I would need to get rid of all my cool GIFs :)

But I am curious why you feel it would help to publish it and make people pay for it rather than offer it for free?

It's not about making it paid versus free, it's to give these ideas Amazon visibility, so that people have a chance to find them when searching for books on phenomenology, Anthroposophy, etc. It's more difficult to spot these essays through a search or to bump into them, when they are published on Substack and this forum.
"As much or as little as healthy thinking has to do with the body, just so much and so little have the activities of a genuine training for supersensible knowledge. Any kind of training that affects man in a different way is no true spiritual training, but a caricature of it."
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Re: Essay: Retracing Spiritual Activity (Part VII)

Post by AshvinP »

Federica wrote: Tue Jun 18, 2024 8:15 pm
AshvinP wrote: Mon Jun 17, 2024 11:09 pm
Federica wrote: Mon Jun 17, 2024 7:27 pm

Nice comment from Discord. What you could do is put the episodes in a book and on Amazon! Why not?
Yes they are free on Substack, but a collection is a different 'product'.
Instead of redeeming mushrooms, you could redeem unpublished ideas :) Sounds great doesn't it.

I think you are more confident in the quality of the essays than I am :)

I feel it would take A LOT of work to make it into something publishable as a book, and I would need to get rid of all my cool GIFs :)

But I am curious why you feel it would help to publish it and make people pay for it rather than offer it for free?

It's not about making it paid versus free, it's to give these ideas Amazon visibility, so that people have a chance to find them when searching for books on phenomenology, Anthroposophy, etc. It's more difficult to spot these essays through a search or to bump into them, when they are published on Substack and this forum.

Oh ok, so compile the essays into an e-book on Amazon that is still free. That makes sense. It would be nice if a compilation of phenomenological essays eventually became available in print format as well. I know that I always prefer a print version of a spiritual text when that is an option.
"A secret law contrives,
To give time symmetry:
There is, within our lives,
An exact mystery."
Federica
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Location: Sweden

Re: Essay: Retracing Spiritual Activity (Part VII)

Post by Federica »

AshvinP wrote: Tue Jun 18, 2024 11:25 pm
Federica wrote: Tue Jun 18, 2024 8:15 pm
AshvinP wrote: Mon Jun 17, 2024 11:09 pm


I think you are more confident in the quality of the essays than I am :)

I feel it would take A LOT of work to make it into something publishable as a book, and I would need to get rid of all my cool GIFs :)

But I am curious why you feel it would help to publish it and make people pay for it rather than offer it for free?

It's not about making it paid versus free, it's to give these ideas Amazon visibility, so that people have a chance to find them when searching for books on phenomenology, Anthroposophy, etc. It's more difficult to spot these essays through a search or to bump into them, when they are published on Substack and this forum.

Oh ok, so compile the essays into an e-book on Amazon that is still free. That makes sense. It would be nice if a compilation of phenomenological essays eventually became available in print format as well. I know that I always prefer a print version of a spiritual text when that is an option.
I don't think free is an option. Someone needs to pay for the printing costs. Amazon takes a share of some selling price. I don't know exactly how it works, but you friends surely do, and you kan keep the gifs in the Kindle version, I believe :)
"As much or as little as healthy thinking has to do with the body, just so much and so little have the activities of a genuine training for supersensible knowledge. Any kind of training that affects man in a different way is no true spiritual training, but a caricature of it."
Federica
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Re: Essay: Retracing Spiritual Activity (Part VII)

Post by Federica »

AshvinP wrote: Fri Jun 14, 2024 7:12 pm We began exploring the technique of imaginative concentration as a means of retracing into an intimate experience of the higher contextual spheres of spiritual activity, i.e. the modes of spiritual activity that project into the conceptual-sensory perspective as its emotional, biological, and physical constraints.

Reading again this sentence, I have wondered why are the ideal constraints projected by the higher spheres into our activity not mentioned, on top of the emotional, biological, and physical ones?
"As much or as little as healthy thinking has to do with the body, just so much and so little have the activities of a genuine training for supersensible knowledge. Any kind of training that affects man in a different way is no true spiritual training, but a caricature of it."
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