A New Renaissance and the Transcendental.

“Our business is to break down & dissolve the mental ego & get back to our divine unity without losing our power of individual & multiple existence in the universe.” 

– Sri Aurobindo

“Evolution is not finished; reason is not the last word nor the reasoning animal the supreme figure of Nature…” 

– Sri Aurobindo

This post is an edited version of a piece I wrote at the end of 2010, which very much anticipated the welling of expression seen recently in the ‘Occupy’ movement, and takes note the growing presence of mindfulness studies in mainstream media and science, among other things. There is also a vision of the growing dissonance between the current global economic and political structures that underpin our lives, and an emerging grass-roots, globally integrated and distributed way of operating that can’t help but bypass the old and stale boundaries that might have once been helpful, but now stand as impositions. This new ‘movement’ is still finding its way and its new definitions, but recognises all the same that our current foundations for life are not sustainable, not at all equitable, or in our best interests if we wish to survive the next millennia.

Amid the noise and distraction the fake culture of consumerism has increasingly become, a groundswell of people from all walks of life have hit the wall so to speak, the limit at which we are amused by pushing the boundaries of pointlessness. It’s a sense, a feeling. For every generation has had its counter-cultural views and issues to raise and consider. But somehow this feels more, a culmination, a point at which some deeper cycle, more far reaching in our collective Mind, has reached the limit of its internal tolerance, and must in some way break, be it gently or violently.

The stories we are starting to tell ourselves in the media, music, film, online, are slowly shifting in focus. While these stories remain gems in the rough, they are nevertheless growing and weaving a re-focused lens on inner-truth, and wittingly or unwittingly shine with a touch, or sometimes even a self-aware ray, of the Ineffable. It can easily be missed, disguised more often than not in the full-spectrum of life and expression that we currently live in, but easy to catch by those who have found themselves of late trying to scratch the same internal, cosmic itch. For Art, and its role as our collective mirror, ultimately survives through meaning. By which I mean that meaning must ultimately come from within us. Given this current state of affairs, the sum accumulation of structures and systems that order and direct our ways of life is facing the kind of crisis of meaning that impels us to find it fresh in a way that is unprecedented on such a collective, global scale. Signs of this has found its very first faint murmurs happening now, and it has the potential to bloom into a fully-fledged renaissance not unlike, and perhaps even more far reaching than the last.

If we cast our thoughts back, even casually over our recorded history right up to now, it has been a major preoccupation of civilization in its most enlightened thinking to find some kind of right order, by cycles and missteps, fleeting successes and tragic failures, visionary hope and misguided tyranny. Yet no matter how comprehensively we think, no matter how well defined we make our best ideals whatever they happen to be, humanity has yet to shake off the shackles of discontent, doubt, opposition, or fear. Violence occurs both as an attempt to grasp the reins forcefully, physically and psychologically, or through sheer disintegration. One begets the other. Whatever tentative foundations of peace we have in the world right now, its flaws are now more exposed than ever by this very crisis of meaning and the emerging response.

It is just the beginning. For within the response is a collective ‘feeling’ that humanity is in desperate need of re-casting the way it searches for truth, formulates truth, and reveals truth in a lasting, deeply meaningful and satisfying way. Yet, as long as humanity continues blindly to take the limit of this search as the same limit that has followed us throughout all of recorded history thus far, such a search will wheel around in dead-ends, come to rest upon yet new tentative foundations, only to topple again in various unforeseen ways. For it is the Mind and its thinking itself that must urgently become the object of our scrutiny and the subject of deep change. History also shows that trying to hammer people forcefully into idealistic shapes is futile and elicits sooner or later an opposing response, for corralling people into fixed ideas is yet again the Mind and its thinking, imposing some abstract boundary-line. In the ideas behind democracy we have a very enlightened impulse and vision towards freedom, and indeed it resonates deeply in us that freedom, somehow, is our innate condition, or at the very least our deepest desire. However enlightened these enshrined ideals are, the governing apparatus that has built up around them has become bloated and unserviceable, distorted and contradictory as we have unwittingly married it to our commonly shared afflictions, rooted in the mind and its thinking itself. So much so, that the original integrity and enlightened intentions have largely been lost, or turned into a great chest-thumping show, full of spectacle but little real substance. All sound and fury, signifying nothing as the Bard would say. And no amount of mindless consuming can escape it.

This new renaissance must have in it, and it is already present and gently emerging, the kind of genuine reflection that shifts people away from the storm of the Mind and the world it has created around us, in all its wonders and all it horrors, towards something beyond, something Transcendental. The current condition of mind is still very much the field and scope of events, but through the cracks that are appearing the light of deeper reflection must cut through the crusted, tired, completely outmoded, and meaningless language of church and state, of belief and reason, of matter and god, of left and right, and so on ad infinitum. This Transcendental ‘something’ cannot in its very nature be co-opted into any system, cannot be valued and economised, cannot be legislated and enforced, cannot be reasoned and argued, cannot be codified or ritualised. There is no mechanism of the mind by which it can be captured and made static. For such an operation would render it yet another object in thought, and miss the mark. Yet its presence, always Now, can be felt when we stop and deeply reflect, listen to its silence and let it transform the very nature of our thinking. This faculty of self-reflection, at once ubiquitous and mysterious is like a seed of the Transcendental planted within, ready to blossom.

It is a major flaw of reason that it does not recognise or appreciate the extent to its blind plodding and groping in applying itself to the problems of our age and how we are to live. It is rapidly losing the ability to recognise its own malaise, entranced as it is by the world it sees and has created, and myopic in its insistence that all must be vetted and approved according to its cataloged rule of order. Standing alone pure reason, if there can be such a thing, is an egoless ideal without agenda or predetermined bias. It aims for a factual truth that can be stated and understood, and verified by replication. It has succeeded in fashioning all facets of our lives and yeilding the many secrets of matter to do so. In all the many ways that reason is employed, it is still us that must be there to weild it. Without our desire to know and the eye to observe, reason cannot operate and conclude.

It is this factor, this point of interaction that is the elephant in the room, for no matter the degree of objectivity we are able to achieve in facts and reason, it is still us that must engage with them. Our collective and individual inner-lives have driven and generated the world we see around us today, yet Reason pretends at being hermetically sealed from it. To what degree can facts, by themselves, give us self-knowledge? By what power can facts alone satisfy our insatiable need to understand? If we were to discover some central fact of reason that explains us and the world, how does it change us? How are we moved?

In the end it is us, how we respond, react, and digest the objects of reason. In the end, it is us that has been there at every moment to witness the events of our collective life. And it is us that is here to witness the world which the mind has constructed us to live in. To what degree then are we happy with this world? Free of reasoning and justifications, apologies about ‘human nature’ or any kind of explanation. If there is such a thing as Truth, how can it remain a sole object of reason standing apart and independently of us? What does our deepest feeling tell us? No matter how we cut it, no matter what direction we trek, all the roads lead back to us, individually and collectively, to turn this unceasing urge to witness and know back, inwardly, upon ourselves with all the power, scrutiny, and enthusiasm that we have applied to understanding the external world and the human sensory apparatus that it both produces and appears to. For our continued reluctance and ignorance in addressing and reflecting upon our inner-life is our continued indifference to the world which we are busy creating for ourselves.

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About ashok z

Currently living in Shanghai, freelancing both as a model and journalist. Committed student, instructor, and practitioner of Meditation over the past 16 years. Patron of inner-life, casually alarmed observer of global trends, and seriously irreverent. Or is that irreverently serious? Either way, one inevitably to follow the other.

12 comments

  1. “the Mind has reached the limit of its internal tolerance” – how true for a lot of us. We are living in interesting times where change can happen if we want it to be so. Is this the time window where we avoid the collective global apocalypse, or will we run full steam straight into it?

  2. As much as I see the potential for a fledgling renaissance happening right now, one that will surely gain momentum and traction in the coming years, it remains to be seen how successful and far-reaching it could be in the long run, as in the next generation or two. It’s up to you! ;)

    It is an evolutionary pressure, and evolutionary crisis. We are and have been mental beings for countless generations. All that we have done and achieved has been a product of Mind. Mind alone, as in the ordinary thinking, reasoning, mental, egoic mind (as opposed to the much broader meaning of ‘Mind’ in Buddhist models) in its current make-up is fast reaching, or has reached its used by date, and we can’t continue dithering, procrastinating, and loitering around within its ordinary limits for too much longer, like ancient fish in a drying lake.

    Evolution is a central part of scientific cannon, yet we seem to forget that this also applies to us, and our very nature inside and out right now. The ordinary mind alone, can’t really grasp what this evolutionary leap must be. One clue for the ‘thinkers’ out there is the general cluelessness about consciousness in science. Perhaps it’s time for a re-think (some direct inner inquiry!) as to the long-held working assumptions used in trying to identify its origins. How long can one continue trying to hammer a square peg into a round hole!?

    :)

  3. Jaye

    Imagine a Universe where we solely communicated through our souls… I’d love to see these moments occur more consciously day to day. That said, I am whole heartedly grateful for those I’ve engaged with on this journey so far. :)) Looking forward to your next journey of words! x

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  5. Giulio Sica

    Excellent piece of writing Ashok!

    Yes, wherever we go, there we are. No doubt the ability of science to unlock the secrets of matter has been impressive and it is a necessary part of our development, the yang to the internal quest’s yin. But what we must find now is the key that will link that outer pursuit and the philosophy that underpins it, with the internal, the knowledge of self, which has a methodology that has been tempered by the scientific method. There are historical reasons why the Scientific Enlightenment had to happen, the quest was to know the outer, the other and also to be able to know the truth of the other. How do I know that the outer is real? So many in the new age and spiritual quests make claims of spiritual knowledge and, in its worse excesses resort to superstition and demand blind faith using charisma and fear to coerce. How can we know the other’s true intention? How can we know if the other is even delusional? This was at least one of the aims of the Scientific Enlightenment, the quest to know God from the centre of one’s own being. Science at least deals with what it can decipher in the material world, and reason is a useful tool even in the spiritual quest, but the non-material, the psychology of the self, on that it modern materialist science, stripped of its original aim to know God or the source of life, now attempts to reduce that original quest to an irrelevant pursuit at best and a modern scientific heresy at worst. But that key that will link the inner and the outer, the yoke that will bind the two worlds, a New Enlightenment, stripped of all mythology, or rather reinvested with new symbols created for this age and this time of global communication and convergence of knowledge, this must be our quest. To find that key, one that brings the two worlds into harmony.

    I look forward to our sharing more insights as we move through these momentous times.

    Best regards, Giulio

    • Thank you, Giulio! I really do appreciate your words. And yes, I’m looking forward to the same. Perhaps in the future I might pass on a piece or two that are in the works before publishing? At the moment I don’t really have anyone with a solid critical eye, who understands what it is I’m trying to express. I’ve also no background in philosophical writing past 101 level, I was just a hack journo for the Aussie PC Authority magazine and a few other tech mags once upon a time.

      I’m totally with you on the historical significance of the Scientific Enlightenment, it’s an important piece of the puzzle that is not to be gotten rid of at all, although that’s exactly what the materialist agenda wants to do now to internal knowledge of the Self. Finding the key that links the two is an incredibly exciting prospect! Our future depends on it.

      Best regards,

      Ashok.

  6. Giulio Sica

    You’re welcome to pass on any writing for me to read and give my thoughts on. Yes, exciting times indeed.

    All the best for now, Giulio

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  8. neorobbo

    Great piece
    What I am personally trying to achieve at present is to create my own key so I can create a vision for people who are not familiar with or have an in depth knowledge of true spiritual work and healing, people are acknowledging unconsciously and consciously that they have had enough. Most People want Harmony.

    There is a shattering of the mind taking place that has the potential to unlock us collectively from the slavery of the mind. I see it as though there is an offering for deep reflection, collectively, for how we became trapped and enslaved by the little ego mind. with the revelation of simple facts on how we have been conditioned to think by church and state it creates the opportunity for one to search the inner self and connect with the Heart. As an example when Eddie Mabo and colleagues defeated the Crown and were acknowledged as the original landowners of Land within the Torres Strait Islands his colleagues said we are now free, he replied we are still captured the same as the white man, his friends were astounded by his comments, Eddie then went on to say the white man will become free when he can SEE us and we will all be free. The precursor for this to happen is the breaking down of the conditioning of the mind that they don’t exist physically for collectively they are known as Aboriginals which is incorrect they are Originals. Normal v ‘s Ab-normal. With the unraveling of the external world one has step inside for answers (this was my experience). The bombardment of facts will hopefully short circuit the conditioning and create a Wave for People to ride back home. People just have to get out of the box first. But then what? Our Material world is a giant mess, it is imperative that we Anchor forces now and create a generational thread for our children to connect with and strengthen to Build the Key.
    All Glory to the Teacher.
    J.R

    • Thanks J.R,

      As you say, Seeing is very much a part of the Key. For some the growing mental complex that we’re compelled to build around us externally will serve as a mirror, they will look and suddenly ‘See’ their reflection and what it has become. For others, they will simply be absorbed in it and fail to see anything at all, except perhaps a mirage where they chase after the empty ghosts of long forgotten feelings.

      Yours in spirit,

      Ashok

  9. I like Giulio’s comment above, so true! And I think as indicated in the article itself, the key that links the inner and the outer, the mystical and scientific, the subjective and the objective… is US! What else?!

    The Self, the Transcendant, pure Being-Awareness is seeking to know itself through us, as us… and it is succeeding!

    Great post, Ashok. Peace and love,

    ~ Ben

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