The dawning of the New Year is a moment when we look forward with hope; we make resolutions to improve ourselves, to change those weaknesses that seem to make our lives more difficult than they ought to be, or to change things that our friends tell us makes us disagreeable to be around. When we make these resolutions, we do it in the hope that the problems of the year just ended will dissolve and that the year ahead will be a period of health and prosperity for our families, friends, and ourselves.
Unfortunately, when we look at the state of the world, there is no real hope that such wishes will come to pass.
Let’s face it. People have been trying to change the world for thousands upon thousands of years.
Doesn’t seem to work, does it?
At least not as far as producing any sort of improvement.
Sure, there are those who will say that with electricity life is easier, with modern medicine we have eradicated many life-threatening diseases, with automation we are able to produce goods for more and more people, with modern agriculture we can feed many more people than was possible with the family farm, and with modern communications we are in instant contact with the world.
The problem is, there are still millions who starve every year, hundreds of thousands who die in hospitals of illnesses contracted in the hospital for some other ailment or from the drugs meant to cure something else, millions of people are out of work and can’t afford the “good things” in life, not to mention the billions of people living in poverty in the “undeveloped” world.
So, for those who claim that the world has improved, it probably means “My life and the life of the people I know is better,” provided they are living in the Western world.
However in recent years not even this is true for many people. With each year, things get worse: more and more unemployed, a deteriorating sense of security coupled with a rising sense of fear for the future.
The US is now in Iraq and Afghanistan killing thousands of innocent people in order to impose its rules and to ensure safe conduct for oil. This is being done in the name of the pompous, “we know best” illusion of “democracy.”
As Gore Vidal said in a recent interview in response to the question, “Is the American administration interested at all in delivering democracy to the Middle East?”:
“Are you crazy? We don’t have it here, for God’s sake. Why would we export it? We talk a lot about it.”
We talk about a lot of things.
For thousands of years men and women have expounded philosophies, religious doctrines, moral codes, laws, rules, and regulations to improve the world, and none of them have worked. We are, on this first day of the year 2004, on the verge of a worldwide holocaust. We have the weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, to wipe all life off the face of the planet. As if that were not enough, numerous groups, particularly the Israelis, are working on ethnic specific weapons, that is, biological killers that will strike according to the victim’s genetic code.
The most powerful country in the world, the United States, is led by a religious fanatic who believes he gets his orders from God, and those orders appear to be about bringing on the Second Coming of Bush’s personal saviour by ushering in the End Times, Armageddon. Worse, there are millions of Americans who believe this, and who are eagerly awaiting this death and destruction because they are convinced that they will be excluded from any suffering and will be “saved.”
The two most dangerous countries for the well-being of the entire planet are still holding their titles. The US remains in the hands of a religious cult. Israel remains in the hands of a religious cult.
At the other end of the spectrum, we see thousands of people saying “Yes” to the “Aliens.” “Yes, please save us from ourselves.”
Globally, human values have been replaced by market values, technological values, military values, and material values, if these terms are not oxymorons. Not that this is new.
While this is going on, Mother Earth appears to be taking things into her own hands. The human body fights an infection through fever; looks like the planet is trying that on us. Global warming led to the hottest year on record in 2003. But it is not only the heat; there have been a series of earthquakes ringing the planet like a bell. What will their effect be on the earth’s super-volcanos?
In the skies, the sun fired off several geomagnetic storms our way this fall, and sunspots are way up; so much activity so long after the current solar maximum was due to end is more than odd.
What if all of this is connected?
The rationalists will, of course, discredit this notion. But one look at the daily papers, or the Signs of the Times page, will show you where rationalism has gotten us. The materialistic scientific world is squeezing the soul out of the planet. The mechanical reaction to this is the rise of fundamentalism in all its forms: a mechanical religiosity as divorced from the spirit as is the hard science driven by the market economy. Both operate on dogma and a closed system of rules. Let us call this mechanical nature “anthropoid,” to distinguish it from what we believe to be “human.”
We live in a world of science and religion created by and for anthropoids, for people who are incapable of having a critical thought, who seek their intellectual nourishment at the breast of Hollywood.
However, there continue to be seekers who, troubled by the terror of the situation, are seeking a way out.
The problem appears to be that people are trying to work on a level that is incapable of producing any real change, the level of the external world, the world of maya, of illusion.
Well, if we can’t “change the world,” then perhaps we can change ourselves.
This is another popular idea, and the money dealers and idea marketers have flooded the market with a lot of “opportunities” available for those who choose this route. They range in price, from the self-help sections of women’s and pop psychology magazines to expensive weekends in exclusive retreats with your guaranteed personal contact with the guru of the month. You can meditate, visualize, listen to tapes or CDs to change your brain waves, immerse yourself in a cocoon of love and light, focus only on the “positive,” learn to deal with “stress,” chant in the Great Pyramid, cover yourself in crystals, cleanse your house and spirit with herbs, and on and on it goes. Undoubtedly the New Year will bring a slew of new possibilities.
But what if the initial idea is incorrect? What if you do not need to change your essential self?
What if the path to change lies in understanding yourself, seeing yourself as you really are, or, as has been said throughout time: Know Thyself.
What could this mean?
Many of the proposed short cuts suggest ways of “reprogramming” ourselves. However, adding new programmes or filters does not change the underlying structure of the human personality; it simply adds more floors to an already faulty foundation. Rather than constructing on the existing personality, perhaps a better approach is to look carefully at what already exists within us, to see how it operates, how it influences our ability to see the world, and to act upon it.
Rather than reprogramming ourselves, is there a way to deprogramme ourselves? To enter into contact with the part that is Eternal, that is, the only part of us that is not temporary and illusory?
What do we see when we study ourselves?
The first thing we can see is the workings of our own minds: the emotions and thoughts that run through us every minute of the day. What do we see when we begin to study these thoughts? We see that they are continually changing. Our thoughts, our mood, our emotions are not constant. It is as if we are made up of a thousand “selves” competing for attention and control. One of these “I”s can decide to make New Year’s resolutions, in complete sincerity, determined to follow them through, but unfortunately, the morning after, another part of ourselves takes over and decides that all these changes are just a little too much work. With equal sincerity, we can find countless justifications to ignore our resolutions of the previous day.
We see we are not constant. How can we be constant with so many competing voices telling us what to do and not do!
We might even go so far as to say that “I” do not exist. There is no “one” home because there are so many at home.
What would life be like if we were able to bring these myriad little competing selves under the control of one, overriding “I”? We might be able to act for the first time in our lives. We could set goals that could be achieved because we could put our whole energy into making them happen.
We are not even aware of this fractured nature of our inner world, that we are incapable of thought and action because we are thought and we are acted upon by many differing voices. We are drifting in the stream of consciousness of our thousand little selves, carried along in the current without a canoe or a paddle.
But how to become truly ourselves, how to fuse these many little “I”s into one, real “I”?
There is a tradition which shows the way, a tradition that may well be the original source of many of the spiritual paths we know today. It is a tradition that appears here as Alchemy and there as Esoteric Christianity. It may well be the teaching of the man we have come to know as Jesus. This teaching begins with the constatation that man is a fractured, multiple self. It outlines the means by which we may fuse together these pieces of ourselves into a whole.
The conflicting selves generate internal tension, internal struggle with the “self.” Parts of us pull in one direction, parts pull in another. This creates heat, an internal fire. In normal life, we find ways of extinguishing these flames, we seek inner consolation, self-calming, to paper over the discord, to push it aside so that we will no longer feel the suffering of our lack of internal coherence. We seek solace in our work, in sex, in entertainment. We do everything possible to avoid confronting the problem.
And yet it is this “problem,” this heat, that shows the way out.
By confronting these contradictory aspects of ourselves, by refusing their domination or refusing to shove the problem under the rug, we generate an even greater internal heat, we stoke the fire that can eventually lead to the fusion of these little selves. The temporary, illusory “I”s can be burned away, and in their place arises the phoenix of our real “I,” that eternal part of ourselves we have ignored and shut out.
The work of the Cassiopaean Experiment has been to unravel the threads of this teaching from the many sources, each of which forms a piece of the puzzle. There are many clues in the work of Gurdjieff. Another important piece has come from the work of Boris Mouravieff. The work of Carlos Castaneda and his tales of Don Juan appear to describe the same process in different terms, and certainly there are clues in the Sufi teachings of Ibn al-‘Arabi.
There is one aspect of the teaching of these men that remains hidden or implied. It is rarely, if ever, confronted head-on. Yet it is the piece that puts the rest into focus, that gives context to the work as a whole.
This missing piece is the knowledge of the hyperdimensional nature of reality, a reality referred to in myth and legend, and now accepted as a legitimate hypothesis by many physicists. The Tradition, as it has come down to us through Gurdjieff and Mouravieff, the teachings of “Don Juan” as transmitted by Castaneda, often hint at the question of these realities but direct references are rare. Here at Cassiopaea this hypothesis forms an integral part of our work, it is the link which, in our opinion, holds the potential to reunite science and mysticism, recreating the true religion that is the birthright of humanity.
These other realities, or dimensions as they are called in mathematics, most likely exist in physical and not only mathematical terms. There is a large body of evidence, from Fortean phenomena to fairy tales that would indicate this. Of course, “accepted wisdom” will not admit it, and so these pieces of evidence are buried, and their proponents are denounced as cranks.
This knowledge of hyperdimensional reality gives a context to the model of man given in the esoteric tradition espoused by Gurdjieff and Mouravieff, and this context enables our understanding of the external world as well as our understanding of our inner world.
Externally, we come to understand that there is a force in the world which is working to keep us in ignorance. This is the force of entropy. This force works through each of us to keep us “in our place.” But this is not all: the force of entropy is represented in all domains of existence, therefore, if there are higher realms, other realities, this force must be represented there as well. If so, then it follows logically that such forces of entropy might be working in our world as well, doing all in its power to keep us ignorant? Why do we assume that “man” is at the top of the evolutionary cycle? Why could man not be “food for the moon” as Gurdjieff described it? What is the true nature of human evolution? The powers that be have sought to keep humanity 100% body centric, imposing on us the conviction that any possible future must be of a 3 dimensional character. But what if this is not the case?
Internally, the understanding of hyperdimensions helps us to see that the contact with our higher centres may well be a contact with the eternal parts of “ourselves” that exist in these other realms.
The Tradition speaks of man’s higher centres, pieces of ourselves with which we have lost touch. These centres are constantly knocking on the door of our awareness, yet we have lost the knowledge, the awareness and therefore the means of hearing this knock.
The loss of this contact is told in the myth of the Fall. These higher centres are parts of ourselves that may well extend into these other realities, these other dimensions or densities. By learning to forge a contact with them, we may be able to obtain the knowledge we need to find our way out, keeping in mind that the world is as it should be. Rather than trying to reshape the world into something it is not, our work is to learn all we can of the lessons this world has to offer. Having learned these lessons, we will no longer fit, we will move on.
By reading the signs of the times, we can come to the inner conviction that we no longer wish to remain in this mad world of the anthropoid. Coming to this conviction is not, however, enough. Once this decision is made, once the fire is lit, the torch that can lead us to a new world, it must be maintained and made to burn ever stronger, with greater and greater heat.
It is the work on the self that stokes the flames, the desire for contact with your eternal and real self.
The heat burns away the dross that obscures this self. What is this self?
It is love.
We open this new year with the words of St. Paul. When you touch this love within yourself, you will know that you have touched the Eternal. It is there that you will find the faith and hope to go on. This is not the love that comes from internal chemistry, the passing flash of the hormones or physical desire. It is the creative force that lies dormant within each of us, both the path home as well as the destination. It is Love: you, and me, and the fabric of our existence.
Our distance left to travel is measured in our distance from this flame within ourselves.
Love is patient, it is full of kindness, Love is not envious; Love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up with pride, does nothing dishonest, does not seek its own interest, is not provoked to irritation, does not suspect evil, rejoices not in injustice but rejoices in the truth; it forgives all things, hopes all things and endures all things.
Love will never perish when prophecies come to an end, when tongues cease to be, when knowledge disappears.
(I Corinthians xiii: 4-8)
Originally Published 2004_01_01