Re: Ideas are alive. We are their hosts.

I recently noticed another interesting blog post by Matt Cardin:

Ideas are alive. We are their hosts.

I posted it on Facebook which led to a conversation with a friend.

She wrote: “So, ideas as a kind of AI…”

I responded with: “Yeah, something like that. Ever since I heard of the theory of memes, it’s always made sense to me. It really makes sense to me when combined with Jung’s view of archetypes and the view of the imaginal.
“However, I’m not sure about the criticisms of Marx. I don’t consider myself a Marxist (mostly because I’m too uninformed about Marxism), but I’m certainly not an anti-Marxist. I do see truth that ideas often are fake, especially on the level of politics. A meme is amoral. It simply seeks to propagate itself. Political power is similar. A meme can reflect a deeper level of truth, but not always and maybe not usually.”

She then asked: “But what is it that feeds memes or ideas, that helps them propogate?”

The following was my answer:

That is an interesting and insightful question. It’s hard to answer as it implies further questions.

Asking what memes or ideas feed upon is the same as asking what are they dependent upon for their very existence and the continuation of that existence. How independent are they? To what extent are they self-propagating and hence independent of humans? Even if memes feed upon human psychic energy, is that their only food source? And either way, who created them originally or where do they come from?

It reminds me of the idea of thought-forms in the Tibetan tradition. They put an interesting twist on it. A ‘god’ or ‘buddha’ or other spiritual being is a thought-form. Ultimately, thought-forms aren’t real. They are merely useful in aligning our minds with some higher truth or, if they are of another variety, then they are the opposite of useful. This value of usefulness is held above any claims of reality. Focusing on thought-forms is useful because it makes us realize that we too are thought-forms and ultimately not real.

No matter their origins or their nature, it does seem that memes and thought-forms feed upon human psychic energy. In terms of human experience, at least, the paranormal tends to pay attention to a person when that person pays attention to the paranormal. Or is it that the person pays attention to the paranormal when the paranormal pays attention to that person? Are we feeding the beings of the imaginal realm or are they feeding us? Or is it a symbiosis?

Maybe the best explanatory model would be a metaphor, especially since we are trying to explain the imaginal where metaphors can resonate more deeply. The metaphor I had in mind is the garden.

The human psyche is a garden. All plants come from the wild as do humans. We create a garden that is separate from the wild, a safe area that we defend and tend. Humans eventually become so dependent on their garden that they forget about the wilderness except when it presents dangers and problems. The supernatural is the wilderness, the area we’ve chosen to exclude from our cultivated human reality. The garden is a reality tunnel, a filter throught which we see the world and a set of beliefs by which we interpret our experience.

The garden we create becomes an extension of ourselves. Maybe a meme is a humanized idea. Out in the wild, there are many thought-forms that float in and out of existence, that mate and evolve. When we domesticate an idea, we make it a part of the human world. We claim it as our own and if it is successful as a meme it becomes a part of our sense of identity. Eventually, the thought-form can become so domesticated that it can no longer survive in the wild.

This could be where symbiosis becomes possible.

Here is a quote from an article ( “What Defines a Meme?” — James Gleick, May 2011) in the above blog post:

“That “soup” is human culture; the vector of transmission is language, and the spawning ground is the brain. For this bodiless replicator itself, Dawkins proposed a name. He called it the meme.”

This seems to be the environment in which symbiosis takes place. When humans developed abstract thinking and language, they were able to grasp and more clearly perceive the non-material. This led to a familiarity, a closeness between the human species and the wild thought-forms. Humans became something more than just animal. As fairytales and UFO experiencers explain, maybe there even was a cross-breeding of sorts, a psychic melding between self and other.

I wanted to add some more commentary on Marx. I noticed that Matt Cardin linked to some writings by Marx:

“In every epoch the ideas of the ruling class are the ruling ideas, that is, the class that is the dominant material power of society is at the same time its dominant intellectual power. The class that has at its disposal the means of material production also for that reason disposes simultaneously of the means of intellectual production, so that in general it exercises its power over the ideas of those who lacke the means. The dominant thoughts are, furthermore, nothing but the ideal expression of the dominant material relations; they are the dominant material relations conceived as thoughts, in other words, the expression of the social relations which make one class the dominant one, and thus the ideas of its dominance.”

This relates to two aspects.

First, there is propaganda that is controlled by those with the power, propaganda being a manifestation of and an extension of power. Even with the acceptance of the reality of the imaginal, the power of propaganda is no less real. Propaganda just demonstrates how we are controlled by ideas and how, therefore, we seek to control ideas. However, it must be pointed out that even the powerful end up falling under the sway of the ideas that they think they control. Memes are powerful, even more powerful than the most powerful humans, for the reason that their power is subtle.

Second, this can be interpreted in a more contemporary understanding through the lense of what Robert Anton Wilson wrote about reality tunnels. We get trapped in a reality tunnel and can’t see outside of it. It determines our thinking. An example of this is that the medium is the message. When humans shifted from oral speech to written text, all of society shifted and all of collective reality shifted with it.

This notion of reality tunnels is elucidated, in different terms, within Marxism:

“This phenomenon is not restricted to individuals; but can, significantly, be applied to the various classes in a society. Class ideals spring from the conditions and necessities of its members. The bourgeois notions of private property and marriage are thus extensions of the material position of the bourgeoisie. “But don’t wrangle with us so long as you apply, to our intended abolition of bourgeois property, the standard of your bourgeois notions of freedom, culture, law, etc. Your very ideas are but the outgrowth of the conditions of your bourgeois production and bourgeois property, just as your jurisprudence is but the will of your class made into a law for all, a will whose essential character and direction are determined by the economical conditions of existence of your class” (Communist Manifesto). Culture, as it is understood in the larger sense, can be viewed as an outgrowth of the beliefs held by that society’s dominant class, as it has the power to impose its perspectives and make them seem ‘natural’ or ‘universal’. Thus, institutions such as the family, law, and religion as manifested in bourgeois society should not be dealt with in the terms of ‘universal law’ in which the bourgeois is likely to understand it. Rather, they should be viewed strictly in terms of the ‘life-activity’ of the bourgeois class, namely, accumulation. Ideals such as that of the free market are merely the beliefs held by the dominant class. Marx cites the case of classical economists: “There are only two kinds of institutions for them, artificial and natural. The institutions of feudalism are artificial institutions, those of the bourgeoisie are natural institutions… Thus there has been history, but there is no longer any” (Capital 92). These constructs become the cultural norm insofar as they are imposed by the ruling class.”

Marx is challenging ‘natural law’. This is a fair criticism. By claiming that one’s beliefs are ‘natural law’, one claims one’s beliefs can’t be challenged as if one was speaking for God. The powerful will claim their beliefs are ‘natural’, meaning real, and everyone else’s beliefs are unnatural or unreal, somehow unworthy and even dangerous.

A reality tunnel is about what is perceived as real. Also, a reality tunnel is typically a collective phenomena. We all share some basic reality tunnels or else we couldn’t communicate at all.

“Thus, Marx views consciousness as interwoven with the practical elements of individuals’ lives; a person’s place in society conditions his or her opinions. Ideas and consciousness must necessarily be rooted in an individual’s life and daily activity; earlier thinkers’ notion of a ‘self-sufficient philosophy’ cannot accurately explain the relationship between consciousness, ideas, and life. Significantly, these ideas extend beyond the individual level such that one can speak of class-consciousness. Marx elaborates on this notion, understanding the power relations and struggles as having ramifications in the moral or ideological realm, as the dominance of one ideology or the conflict between ideologies speak to the underlying class dominance and struggles. In this way, material conditions are able to determine what human beings, as historical actors, are able to do.”

Marx was challenging Enlightenment ideals. He was pointing out that abstract thought isn’t separate from the everyday world. To most people today, that is commonsense and to claim otherwise would seem silly. After all, thoughts exist in the realm where psyche and biology meet. We aren’t disembodied thinkers. Enactivists most strongly challenge this false notion and they do so from within a scientific framework. The ideal of disembodied thought is a meme that has haunted modern humans for quite a while now and has caused Cartesian anxiety.

It’s probably true that Marx tended to go too far in the opposite direction in emphasizing the material world, but his insight shouldn’t be dismissed. In the context of the imaginal, a deeper resonance can be given to the Marxist worldview. The imaginal is the meeting and merging of the subjective and objective, the inner and outer, the material and non-material. Ideas, like plants, grow in the mud of the earth. An idea is just a seed until planted.

Here is another link from Matt Cardin and the relevant quote:

“Marx is, in fact, more complicated on this issue, however, since at other times he suggests that some aspects of ideology (for example, literature) can have a semi-autonomous existence; that is, that such cultural products can exert an influence that is at odds with the dominant mode of production.”

So, apparently Marx didn’t merely see ideas as being entirely controlled. Rather, he saw ideas as sources of power, both power to control and power to challenge control. Some aspects of ideology such as literature touch upon the imaginal and tap into the power of the imaginal, a power that isn’t human. I realize Marx probably didn’t understand it in this way, but Marx did recognize that ideas couldn’t always be controlled.

10 thoughts on “Re: Ideas are alive. We are their hosts.

  1. If the vector is language then a certain comment I made to my friend is in context of memes. I’ve mentioned it to you before: where the youth of today (figurative, to mean any current time) learn the philosophy or advancement in learning from around, implicitly, that is, without any real enculturation, they learn all about the past so and so years; I call it implicit enculturation. An example is a VCR of today which a kid considers and can see the advancements processes leading up to this. It’s quite sketchy esp due to the example used but I’m sure you get the picture, you might have thought of it yourself before. For me, however, the vector isn’t simply verbal language (if that’s what was meant in the quote) but language in general – tone, visual etc.

    And then, this whole post reminds me of mine where I put forward a pool of luminiscent daemons that are at the bottom of all knowledge and they mix and match however they want. The difference might be mine seems to be an autonomous process that influences humans. When they amalgamate into a bigger daemon, we get concepts and more and more concepts, but they will be built on the same group of daemons which amalgamated. As you say, as they get useful, they become memes. But, it doesn’t mean that more amalgams can’t be formed. I’ve always wondered how many amalgams, that is, potential memes, might be lying on shelves, in dead bodies or just plain un-understood.

    This also reminds me of our conversation about theories becoming institutions. An institution is transmitted as a meme, otherwise, a meme such as the United States of America will never be. Meanwhile, a meme is already a body of ideas. If you birth a child today, are you sure he will know anything about United States or whether he’s a citizen if there’s no United States in the world? Or if he is immediately taken to the Himalayas, will he know? Then there’s the case of the raw thoughtform of a union of states, will it not be foreign to him?

    Maybe, the symbiosis is always there in the form of learning. When we learn something new, how much control do we have over the mating and evolving? it just happens. Perhaps, our will is used to maintain the integrity of the reality tunnels we form. I wonder what role Rational functions have in guarding these tunnels. Or maybe it’s rather a matter of thin- and thick-boundary types. Maybe, the symbiosis is an illusion and all we do is build tunnels, the ideas themselves are in constant motion, just like gases. Brownian motion of ideas? 🙂 There’s two ways we can maintain these tunnels, 1. by putting up the tunnel to seal of entry of the other ideas so they don’t mess us up and 2. by keeping chains on the ones we have inside so that they don’t move apart from each other. That begs the question about whether those ideas within the reality tunnels have been used exhaustively in terms of permutations.

  2. I more or less get what you mean by “implicit enculturation”. I’ve come across similar notions before. I agree with you that it isn’t just about verbal language. Everything potentially can be thought of as ‘language’. A flower is the plant’s ‘language’ in communicating to the insect looking for nectar. All species on earth evolved together and so have evolved ways to co-exist and interact.

    I somewhat remember your post about “pool of luminiscent daemons”. I would also agree that there could be an autonomous aspect to all of this. Furthermore, this could relate to your thoughts on synchronicity and fate, specifically the idea about people (and, I would add, the world in which people live) occurring together. To put it in this context, the human mind and the daemonic memes are arising into reality from a ground of being, maybe in the way Buddhists describe it, i.e., co-arising.

    The amalgam part is intriguing. I’m not sure what to think about it. What are these daemons? How does one detect their presence? How does one follow their trail to see where they reside?

    Theories becoming institutions. Yes, we discussed that. How far does enculturation go? Is a fetus being enculturated into the mother’s culture even before being born? Supposedly, the fetus does pick up some language while developing just by hearing the voice of the mother.

    I liked what you said here:

    “Perhaps, our will is used to maintain the integrity of the reality tunnels we form.”

    That also goes to the issue of synchronicity and fate. In my response to your thoughts on those, I had brought up the ‘will’ and speculated about the relation to the ‘self’ and the ‘soul’. Maybe our very identity is the most fundamental reality tunnel. Because we identify so closely with a particular reality tunnel, we don’t see it because we become it (or at least perceive it to be that way). So, as you say, our will is used to maintain the integrity of the reality tunnels we form, maybe even a servant.

    You speculated about our chaining these reality tunnels to keep them in place. But maybe that means we are chained to them to keep us in place.

    You also offered the possibility of reality tunnels walling us in. That is how they are normally thought of. According to the metaphor of tunnels, they would therefore have ‘walls’ that keep us in and keep other things out. The question then follows: Is the tunnels metaphor valid and useful?

    The permutations issue is a different way of thinking about it. How limited are we? Even if confined to our reality tunnels by walls or chains, that doesn’t discount that infinite possibilities can exist within those limits. Maybe the key to the lock is in the prison cell with us. Or maybe if the right permutation is found, an entirely new perspective will shift one’s awareness and understanding. What is the relationship between the reality tunnel as a metaphor and metaphors as memes? What meme underlies the very idea of reality tunnels? The metaphor of reality tunnels seems very gnostic to me, and the original Gnostics got those ideas from neo-platonism.

    • I just loved your response, so many questions you brought up man..Excellent!!! Gonna get down to them, see if I can come up with answers.

      Yeah, is the reality tunnel metaphor useful? I agree with the centrality and urgency of that question. I wonder cos it just might be that the life altering permutation hasn’t yet occurred in another’s reality tunnel so he doesn’t have the same reality tunnel that one has, giving the illusion of sizes of reality tunnels. Maybe, we all have the same reality tunnel, it’s just the amount of illumination that exists within that reality tunnel.

      How limited are we? That’s a practical question..I’ll dodge that one..haha..we can only prove it with time. No a priori argument will suffice.

      We’ll have to be chained to them if our argument that ideas are alive and we are their hosts holds. Because, the ideas are us, and it is these ideas that constitute our reality tunnels.

      “How do we know of the presence of these daemons?”. Hmm..the daemons are us, it is they who are working when we say “I am thinking”. But, that begs the question “who is watching these daemons?” or “how do we know of their presence?”. Perhaps, they watch each other, or there is a singular ruling daemon or maybe they are self-assertive so that when we speak of them, it is they who are speaking up for themselves thus upholding the phrase that “we are their hosts”, alternatively “we are their vessels”. That brings to mind the issue of possession – to what extent are we immune to possession? Maybe, possession comes about due to predominance of one or another (group of) daemon(s).

      • I would think that most reality tunnels are collective to some extent. An entirely individual reality tunnel would seem to be problematic in that if it wasn’t shared then it would make interacting normally difficult. Maybe that is what happens to some people with psychiatric illnesses.

        I spoke about collective reality tunnels in one post you commented on:

        The metaphor of a ‘tunnel’ is limiting in some ways. It gives the impression that reality tunnels are isolated and exclusionary. My sense of personal and collective experience points to various paradigms and filters being overlapping to some extent. In this sense, reality tunnels are relative, some shared and others not, some with thicker boundaries and others thinner, some more limiting and others expansive.

        I wonder what would happen if a personal reality tunnel entirely fell outside of the collective reality tunnel. I would think that even an insane person is at least partly in the collective reality tunnel shared by others even if his experience of it is distorted by a personal reality tunnel. If two reality tunnels diverged completely, I could imagine that might lead to two separate realities altogether. That is a theory some have proposed. A larger reality that contains many realities, i.e., other dimensions of reality, alternative universes. It’s a fun idea to ponder, but it’s a bit beyond my personal experience and comprehension.

        I tend to think that ideas are alive just like us; furthermore, that we are nothing more than the nexus of ideas. The question then is: Are ideas greater than us or merely parts or extensions of us? Do we think ideas or do ideas think us? It seems to me, from my understanding of Buddhism, our sense of self arises out of a substratum that is prior to the self. This makes sense considering that is just a spiritual way of formulating the scientific theory of mind arising out of matter, matter arising out of energy, and energy arising out of universal laws… the whole narrative of the Big Bang onwards.

        There is something I was thinking about lately. Julian Jaynes has a theory about early human consciousness based on his study of the earliest written texts. It seems humans didn’t experience themselves as isolated from the world around them. We read the words of God in the Bible and we hear it as a thought in our head. When ancient humans heard God speaking it was literally a voice that came from outside. The world was full of voices. Maybe the earliest humans had no thoughts of their own. They simply lived in a world of thoughts where everything was constantly speaking to them. There was no individual self because it hadn’t been invented yet.

        In creating a self, we trap the daemons. So, the souls we have are stolen from the world. It used to be the world was ensouled. When we took the soul of the world into us, the world became dead matter. We’ve imprisoned the gods in the prison cell of our ego-mind. The gods still speak, but we now mistake them for our own thoughts. The gods still manipulate us mere mortals, but they do so now as unconscious psychological mechanisms.

        The alternative interpretation is that we are possessed. Have the gods become stuck within our mortal frames like gnostic aeons fallen into this world? Or have the gods chosen to take control of our bodies for their own purposes like the gnostic demiurges?

        Related to all of this, is there any part of us that is unique to us, something truly our own? Are our souls merely borrowed or stolen? What is the self? Is the self (as ego-mind) related to the soul in the way that demiurges are related to aeons? When looking into the self, is there any there there? Or are we empty like the Buddhists say? Are we in our minds merely hearing the echoes within this emptiness?

        I know this sounds like crazy talk to some people or else mindless philosophizing. To me, however, it is a very serious inquiry. For a long time now, I’ve had this inkling that we aren’t what we think we are. When one looks at the self or the will, the closer one looks the less one can find. It is like looking at matter which at the microscopic level is mostly empty space and the smallest particles turn out to be hypothetical structures that we can only comprehend in terms of the metaphor of ‘energy’.

        It’s all very strange. Some people might find it depressing to contemplate their own non-existence. I understand such a reaction to discovering one might be a non-entity, a mere illusion. However, I’m not sure it’s such a bad thing.

        From the Buddhist perspective, once again, emptiness is very good news because it means suffering is empty. Suffering is just the condition of forgetting this emptiness and becoming lost in illusions. We grasp these illusions because we think anything is better than nothing, but maybe we should accept this nothingness. Maybe it’s not such a terrible thing. If one is thirsty, the light reflecting on the surface of the water won’t sate one’s parched mouth. To Westerners, Buddhism doesn’t seem to be offering much hope. Whether or not one sees hope in emptiness, it doesn’t change reality itself. If reality is empty, then that is just the way it is. There is certainly no hope in denying reality.

        I’ve tended to connect the notion of emptiness to the notion of darkness, and both relate to my sense of the imaginal. The emptiness and what arises out of the emptiness are two sides of the same coin. It’s the liminal realm, the precise point of arising that appeals to my sensibility, As I think of it, the darkness is both empty and full. Entering into the darkness, we learn of the insubstantiality of reality and of the self. Exploring the darkness, we learn that there are things unseen.

        Comforting or not, this just makes sense to me. It’s how I experience the world. Like everyone else, I get lost in appearances and in suffering. However, I always have access to this sense of shifting into another mode where the world is transformed. It’s not speculation. It’s an experience. It feels true.

    • This is a grand discussion, it shouldn’t end, even if we end up repeating what we say..haha. Toast to Matt Cardin for providing the stimulus 🙂

      • Yep, Matt is a good guy. His blog has inspired my contemplations on a number of occasions. As for this grand discussion, I don’t imagine it will ever end. Discussions of any relevance typically never end… at least in my own mind they never end. Anyone who so desires is always free to join me in my endless ponderings.

  3. I have given these a lot of thought since these inquiries form a substantial part of my living experience. They just come to me – metaphysics. The Julian Jaynes theory is not unfamiliar cos Jung said something of the sort in passing in one of his books. The only people who would be anxious at their non-existence are self-centred people, like the Christians. It is like death, especially, my experience of death, in connection with my pre-pubescent and pubescent fear of death. It was a fear of non-existence, a very foundational fear, metaphysical fear, it seems I started life at a deeper level than most people. I didn’t really believe in God and heaven so they just couldn’t sate me, the anxiety just wouldn’t be fooled :-D. I questioned God even as a little kid, questioned if “God had a father”, “what was beyond God”, so their heavens and hells were nothing but extra fear tactics that served to take my mind from that more fundamental ‘fear of death’. They themselves do not know how much they fear death, as I wrote in an essay before: if after death, you are promised heaven, why do you fear death so much? That was my question to the Christians. As usual, they won’t answer you from a wide perspective, they will use the Bible to answer, meanwhile, the question is not from the Bible. The nature of the question itself is disputing the validity of the Bible as an authority so how do you answer such a question with such answer?

    The Buddhist perspective is increasingly looking too nihilist to me. The Taoist one which denies nothing but merely tells us about perspectives and shape-shifts is better, to me. The Buddhists’ looks like the Christians, exclusionary. The Taoist universe allows for many things, a more holistic world. The Taoist universe is akin to the Pythagorean and the Gnostic, as well as the Jungian and my own conception. Exclusionary worlds just don’t cut it for me no matter how comforting they are, they are too suicidal, for if the concept is always begging questions, it is begging for its own demise.

    We cannot be empty, as these are thoughts that we have, even empty is a thought. But, it could be a matter of perspective; maybe empty her meant we not being any real vessel at all but just a conglomeration of these daemons, which upholds the idea that “ideas have us”. I have seen the fundamental problem here: it is a problem of self-awareness. When we prune away all the talk of idea and daemon, the question is actually asked of self-awareness. A question which shows up in the linguistics that have been offered so far: self-will, ‘us’, ‘we’, etc. I am inclined not to think of it completely as an illusion, but rather an illusion only to the extent of separation from world. It was a problem I dealt with artfully in an essay before.

    The possible reason why we might think that there is no self-awareness is because of an extension of our human self-centredness into a sphere possibly beyond, or prior to, us; viz. we treat these daemons as things and so they having no awareness. If the gods have us, as you say, it doesn’t make us empty, it rather shows us the fundament of us, “the daemons are us”. What does it mean when we say ‘I’, that is the question; the ideas that aggregate around this ‘I’ aren’t the crucial thing, it is the ‘I’. Perhaps, lunacy is due to this loss of ‘I’, that the person falls back into the soup of cosmos, which will come along with a changing of reality tunnel. Maybe, when this ‘I’ falls apart then we lose the ability to control the ideas mating and cleavage, so the reality tunnel gets chaotic just like the primordial cosmos. That makes the ‘I’ an ordering principle like the Logos telling us that, perhaps, the ordering principle that has been posited so much in the past is our own projection.

    Also, that perhaps, God is that Universal ‘I’ or Logos who just orders the Chaos. But still, crucially is it Chaos birthing ‘I’ as Gnostics say or they arise like that, as Chaos and ‘I’? And then, why is Chaos even disposed to ordering at all?

    • “The only people who would be anxious at their non-existence are self-centred people, like the Christians.”

      That is an insightful comment. Christianity is essentially self-centered. The very theology of Christianity is centered on the self, the eternal life of the self whether in heaven or hell.

      “The Buddhist perspective is increasingly looking too nihilist to me. The Taoist one which denies nothing but merely tells us about perspectives and shape-shifts is better, to me. The Buddhists’ looks like the Christians, exclusionary. The Taoist universe allows for many things, a more holistic world.”

      I understand what you mean and I agree to an extent. Taoism, at least as a philosophy, appeals to my sense of the world. However, I think Buddhism has some genuine insights.

      At times, Buddhism can seem nihilistic, but I’m not sure if that is entirely accurate. Buddhism isn’t merely about negating. What Buddhism posits is compassion and it does so more than any other religion in the world. Compassion is at the center of the Buddhist worldview in the way that the self/soul is at the center of the Christian worldview. Some forms of Buddhism, however, do emphasize more the side of emptiness. So, it depends. There are many varieties of Buddhism, some that are closer to the Taoist worldview.

      “When we prune away all the talk of idea and daemon, the question is actually asked of self-awareness. A question which shows up in the linguistics that have been offered so far: self-will, ‘us’, ‘we’, etc. I am inclined not to think of it completely as an illusion, but rather an illusion only to the extent of separation from world.”

      Yeah, awareness is the key element, and it is the context of the ‘self’. That is the difficulty. What is meant by illusion? I realize that Eastern philosophies/religions mean something different than Westerners in their use of words related to or translated as ‘illusion’. I think that is why Buddhism can seem nihilistic. Buddhism doesn’t begin or end with illusion. It’s just one piece of the puzzle. I think Buddhists would agree with you about that it only being illusion to the extent of separation from the world.

      “The possible reason why we might think that there is no self-awareness is because of an extension of our human self-centredness into a sphere possibly beyond, or prior to, us; viz. we treat these daemons as things and so they having no awareness. If the gods have us, as you say, it doesn’t make us empty, it rather shows us the fundament of us, “the daemons are us”.”

      I don’t think I was arguing there is no self-awareness. We are awareness or else awareness is us, but there is an important distinction between awareness and self-awareness. I don’t treat the daemons as things or are try not to.

      My meaning of emptiness can be thought of in a number of ways.

      There is emptiness in that there is nothing substantial to the self, that the self (or rather the awareness, the ground of being behind the self) is a flow like water or wind which is how Hindus, Buddhists and Taoists often describe it as. There are currents of being. Those currents could either be those daemons or the pathways the daemons follow. We are empty in that we aren’t any single thing.

      The other notion of emptiness is clarified by modern understanding. Physical matter is real. But we also know that the atoms forming matter is made up of mostly emptiness between infinitesimally small sub-atomic particles. And, as I think I pointed out earlier, those sub-atomic particles are highly theoretical. Matter seems to disappear under close scrutiny. The self is empty in the way that matter is empty, but that isn’t to say they aren’t real or that there is something else that is real underlying them. Maybe the self is essentially empty awareness in the way that matter is empty energy.

      Of course, emptiness is just a word, an attempt to describe something in metaphorical terms. It’s like an empty jar. There is structure to the jar and yet inside nothing is there. The external form maintains itself without need of an internal essence. Still, the empty jar is real. You can fill the empty jar with many things and it becomes filled with that substance, but the jar isn’t that substance.

      Another way to think of this might be helpful. Instead of a jar, think of a pipe. The pipe has structure. It is hollow and so designed as an empty form, but it can be filled. What is interesting about this metaphor is that it emphasizes the idea of flow since that is what pipes are designed for. A pipe doesn’t just hold a substance but facilitates it’s flow. A blocked pipe no longer can serve it’s purpose. The Jungian Self is like the flow itself, the possibility of movement, the inner potential of the pipe. Any given substance flowing through the pipe is a self, a daemonic being. When something becomes lodged in the pipe stopping or slowing down the flow, that is what forms into the ego-self.

      “Perhaps, lunacy is due to this loss of ‘I’, that the person falls back into the soup of cosmos, which will come along with a changing of reality tunnel.”

      That is a way of describing what Ken Wilber explains as the pre/trans fallacy. Pre-consciousness isn’t the same thing as trans-consciousness, although the two often get conflated. It isn’t helpful to merely seek the destruction of the conscious self. As it is explained by some Buddhists, the ego has to be strengthened before it can be transcended.

      “That makes the ‘I’ an ordering principle like the Logos telling us that, perhaps, the ordering principle that has been posited so much in the past is our own projection.”

      My point from a Jungian and polytheistic view is that there are many principles. Idolizing any single principle to the exclusion of all others isn’t helpful in the long run. We need to develop our ego through a single principle in the way that we need to develop a single function, but to stop there is to stop short. What is good for one part of human development isn’t the same as what is good for another part of human development. Furthermore, what is good for human development in general isn’t the same thing as what is real. Reality may or may not always be good for healthy human development in terms of maintaining life and psychological coherence, but nonetheless reality is what it is whether or not it serves our purposes.

      The ‘I’ may be the ordering principle or one among many possible ordering principles. Even if it is the only ordering principle, it isn’t what is ordered. Reality may look like chaos to the ordering principle. But the ordering principle may look like oppression, suffering and death to the creative principle.

      “Also, that perhaps, God is that Universal ‘I’ or Logos who just orders the Chaos. But still, crucially is it Chaos birthing ‘I’ as Gnostics say or they arise like that, as Chaos and ‘I’? And then, why is Chaos even disposed to ordering at all?”

      In the Hindu pantheon, the ordering principle would be about the god of preservation, Vishnu. However, Vishnu can’t operate without the creative force of Brahma and the creative destruction of Shiva. Vishnu can order what Brahma has created and Vishnu can’t forever defy Shiva. In Gnostic theology, Vishnu would be the demiurge who orders the fallen world (the substance born out of the fallen aeon, the divine emanation gone wrong). So, it can be seen in positive or negative light.

      Why is Chaos disposed to ordering at all? The question could be reversed as well: Why is Order disposed to disordering at all (inertia, decay, etc)? Creation of Order to preservation of Order to destruction of Order to new Order. The dynamic force that keeps this process going is Chaos. If Order reigned supreme, there would be stagnation. In scientific terms, when inertia overcomes the expansionary forces of the Big bang, what will follow is a shrinking back to the original point. At that point exists perfect Order.

  4. The ego being strengthened before transcendence, I think, is where the ego gets away from itself far enough then it is pulled back into the bigger Self by the opposing forces. I don’t think one can merely destroy the ego, its strengthening is its destruction.

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