172. The joyous (II)
For a long time, I was entranced by the Tao, but I was only entranced by it as a psychological concept. I thought of it in the same sense as Nietzsche did: the individual lives through constant engagement with the world; when reality shatters our expectations we reformulate our concepts of the world, our goal should be to shatter these expectations more and more quickly, as a bullet shatters sheet after sheet of glass, and so strip away the indefinite veils of life—the veils of what, as a metaphor, we call Maya. To live in this way is to live like an axis, the conscious observer reduced to a process; it is likened to a cybernetic loop, a hormetic system that seeks new stimuli and responds to those stimuli to maintain its equilibrium at a higher level.
It took me a long time to realise that this approach, a metaphorical approach, did not capture the reality of the Tao—it provided a profane analogy to the Tao, and the profane always reflects the spiritual. Yet it was not the Tao. The Tao is real; it is a spiritual reality, a supraconscious reality. Jung skirted this issue somewhat, since he wished to maintain credibility in the material world; but it is clear to me, from his writings on alchemy, that he thought that what he discussed was not an analogy or metaphor for the processes of the brain; he knew that he had a entered a spiritual reality—Jung was just more circumspect about this than people like Evola, Guénon, and John Michell; people who fully accepted the reality of spiritual truth—people who went, as I like to say, “full retard”.
When Jung speaks, say, of the dissolving waters of the feminine it could be taken as a metaphor for the way we change our views as we experience chaos in the world—this is the preferred interpretation of Jordan Peterson—while at a profane level this is useful, it is not the whole reality. The waters of dissolution are real—a real process that the soul can undergo through, for example, painting or singing a particular picture or symbol. There is no need to gather new information from the external environment in order to change your intellectual opinions, as Nietzsche and Peterson suggest. The process could be worked out when seated in a quiet room; it could even be done without movement, through meditation. Nietzsche, Peterson, and the psychological-scientific school that works in the metaphorised tradition is purely intellectual; the Tao, for them, means to change views—to reach scientific truth. They miss the soul or the heart—Jungian intuition means to know with the heart, not the head—and this does not require, in the Nietzschean fashion, action or interaction with the world. Maya is not just the physical reality that we seek to understand through new iterations of scientific hypotheses, it is a real spiritual domain.
I had a girlfriend recently with whom I experienced the reality of magic and synchronicity. One day, I read about the Jewish Kabbalah and the Tree of Life; fifteen years before, as a teenager, I would have scoffed at this idea—yet, that day, everything had changed. I took the idea quite seriously and became excited at the exploration of the idea, the great game of Kabbalah and its Eastern equivalent, the Tantra, fascinated me. That night I went to visit the girl. When I went to her bedroom I saw that she had spread a great tie-dyed sheet over her bed that perfectly resembled the Tree of Life; she had done it that day, and, thoughts of sex momentarily extinguished, I stood and looked at the Tree; it splintered in neon, as if it had reached from 1968 or 1998 to touch me today. The resemblance to the Tree of Life was extraordinary; it was as if the Tree of Life had walked off the page and painted itself on the wall of the bedroom.