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Monday, January 15, 2018

The Orchid Pavilion

With the words of the great Chinese life-philosopher and idler, Lin Yutang, I call myself an apostle of loafing. Look at what the wisdom of the art of loafing has given us. Chinese literary tradition is rife with the jottings of non-achievers – the cultured vagabond, the scholar recluse, the Taoist wanderer. Already in 500BC, the sage Lao Tzu recommended that one should “never be the first in the world”. Only he who is not wanted by the public can be a carefree individual, runs the Taoist adage. The importance of living is peopled with educated dropouts – for instance poets such as Su Tungpo and Tao Yüanming; Su, who sang about “the clear breeze over the river and the clear moon over the mountains”, and Tao, who sang about “the hen, which rested in the top of a mulberry tree”.

After having followed the Beatwriters´ way of living for a period, then these Chinese kinds of dropouts have become the new great source of inspiration in my life.

Like Lin Yutang I actually see the art of loafing as democratic in its nature. But, as Walt Whitman is pointing out in his Democratic Vistas – it is the ideal of free men and women in the Now, not the ideal of the democratic progress or improvement (today Consumer Capitalism and the growth fanatism of the self-help industry) - just look at Laurence Sterne on his “sensitive journey”, or at Wordsworth and Coleridge, wandering on foot through Europe, with a great sence of beauty in their hearts, but with a very few money.

The philosophical refined pleasure in the art of loafing is something, which costs much less than the lust for luxury. The only thing the pleasure of loafing requires is a creative emptiness, a life enjoyed as it is lived. Play without reason; travel to see nothing; a perfectly useless afternoon spent in a perfectly useless manner – these are the kind of activities that redeem the art of living from the business of living, which also Henry David Thoreau has shown in his Walden, where he describes his life in the woods, retired from the world´s ups and downs.

Look at nature! All nature loafs, while Man alone works for a living!

Today I have retired to Rold Forest, where I participate in the joys of conversation on a moonlit night; to be in the middle of a joyful gathering of happy friends, like in Wang Hsichih´s immortal little essay The Orchid Pavilion.

The Orchid Pavilion Gathering of 353 CE was a cultural and poetic event during the Six Dynasties era, in China. This event itself has a certain inherent and poetic interest in regard to the development of landscape poetry and the philosophical ideas of Chuang-Tze. 

The Orchid Pavilion Gathering of 42 literati included Xie An and Sun Chuo and Wang Pin-Chih at the Orchid Pavilion on Mount Kuaiji just south of Kuaiji (present-day Shaoxing in Zhejiang), during the Spring Purification Festival, on the third day of the third month, to compose poems and enjoy huangjiu (yellow wine). The gentlemen had engaged in a drinking contest: rice-wine cups were floated down a small winding creek as the men sat along its banks; whenever a cup stopped, the man closest to the cup was required to empty it and write a poem. This was known as "floating goblets.”

In the end, twenty-six of the participants composed thirty-seven poems.

The Orchid Pavilion Gathering was an example of what´s today called philosophical counseling and cafés.

The Art of Loafing seems to tell something essential about human nature. It is echoed in many cultural connections. It for example reminds about what in ancient Greece was called the symposium, a part of a banquet that took place after the meal, when drinking for pleasure was accompanied by music, dancing, recitals, or conversation. Literary works that describe or take place at a symposium include two Socratic dialogues, Plato's Symposium and Xenophon's Symposium, as well as a number of Greek poems such as the elegies of Theognis of Megara. Symposia are depicted in Greek and Etruscan art that shows similar scenes.

Epicurus (341-270 b.c.) was a Greek philosopher and Life Artist, who contrary to most other Hellenistic philosophers, was Athenian citizen. His place of birth was however on the island Samos by the seaside of Asia Minor, and on this, and on the other, cultural seen, rich islands in the eastern Aegean Sea, Epicurus came in contact with Philosophical traditions, that hardly was alive in Athens; especially the thoughts of the great philosopher of nature, Democritus.

Epicurus left Samos after having stepped his philosophical child-shoes on the island, and established as philosopher on the island Lesbos. However he was banished from the island because of his viewpoints. In 307 he travelled to Athens with the mental ballast, that he was Athenian citizen; this meant that he, contrary to the other philosophical schools, had the right to own land in Athens itself.

Epicurus established one of two central schools in Athens. It was in constant sharp opposition to the Stoics. I will not go deeper into the philosophical opposites, just mention, that philosophy of nature was central in Epicurus, whilst the Stoics had a concept of a god, which in them was the central. But both are common in the view of philosophy as an art of life.

The school of Epicurus was called The Garden, and since then the concept ”to cultivate your garden” has in European way of thinking been synonymous with living a life retired from the world´s ups and downs, to give up all ambitions about social status. This is a completely central aspect in my own way of life.

Epicurus had a real garden, a kitchen garden with vegetables, and to that he retired, and lived of own productions. It was an attempt to avoid the bindings of the world, just like the Stoics, but in quite another way. The Stoics were radically extroverted, and went into Athen´s central buildings, where they, among the cloisters, forced themselves speach access to the citizens, whereas Epicurus retired, and avoided all kind of – also political – debate. As he said: “Live in secret!”

 In his garden he realized his own life-ideal: together with friends and pupils to live a life in silent peace and joy, in peace to cultivate his garden and his needs, afar from the world´s noise and political quarrel. It was a kind of philosophical commune, which stood open for all sections of population and for both sexes, and where the master with his friends practised, what they taught. The teaching of Epicurus is in other words a way of life, a teaching, which puts undisturbed happiness and refined pleasure up as the supreme good.

The Right to be Lazy is an essay by Cuban-born French revolutionary Marxist Paul Lafargue, written from his London exile in 1880. The essay polemicizes heavily against then-contemporary liberal, conservative, Christian and even socialist ideas of work. Lafargue criticizes these ideas from a Marxist perspective as dogmatic and ultimately false by portraying the degeneration and enslavement of human existence when being subsumed under the primacy of the "right to work", and argues that laziness, combined with human creativity, is an important source of human progress.

He manifests that "When, in our civilized Europe, we would find a trace of the native beauty of man, we must go seek it in the nations where economic prejudices have not yet uprooted the hatred of work...The Greeks in their era of greatness had only contempt for work: their slaves alone were permitted to labor: the free man knew only exercises for the body and mind...The philosophers of antiquity taught contempt for work, that degradation of the free man, the poets sang of idleness, that gift from the Gods." And so he says "Proletarians, brutalized by the dogma of work, listen to the voice of these philosophers, which has been concealed from you with jealous care: A citizen who gives his labor for money degrades himself to the rank of slaves." (The last sentence a quote from Cicero.). However, Marx himself condemned these ideas.

In his essay The Abolition of Work, the anarchist Bob Black argues for the abolition of the producer- and consumer-based society, where, Black contends, all of life is devoted to the production and consumption of commodities.

Attacking Marxist state socialism as much as market capitalism, Black argues that the only way for humans to be free is to reclaim their time from jobs and employment, instead turning necessary subsistence tasks into free play done voluntarily – an approach referred to as "ludic". The essay argues that "no-one should ever work", because work – defined as compulsory productive activity enforced by economic or political means – is the source of most of the misery in the world.

Play, in contrast, is not necessarily rule-governed, and is performed voluntarily, in complete freedom, as a gift economy. He points out that hunter-gatherer societies are typified by play, a view he backs up with the work of Marshall Sahlins; he recounts the rise of hierarchal societies, through which work is cumulatively imposed, so that the compulsive work of today would seem incomprehensibly oppressive even to ancients and medieval peasants. He responds to the view that "work," if not simply effort or energy, is necessary to get important but unpleasant tasks done, by claiming that first of all, most important tasks can be rendered ludic, or "salvaged" by being turned into game-like and craft-like activities, and secondly that the vast majority of work does not need doing at all. The latter tasks are unnecessary because they only serve functions of commerce and social control that exist only to maintain the work-system as a whole. 

These ideas are important in my own philosophy of idleness. If I should mention a modern English idler, which promotes all the qualities of an idle way of life, you could mention Tom Hodgkinson (born 1968). His philosophy, in his published books and articles, is of a relaxed approach to life, enjoying it as it comes rather than toiling for an imagined better future. Together with his friend Gavin Pretor-Pinney he founded The Idler which is a bi-yearly British magazine devoted to promoting its ethos of 'idle living' and all that entails (read an additional account on idleness in my pop culture files on The Hobbit and The Big Lebowski).

Ronald Hutton´s book The Rise and Fall of Merry England: The Ritual Year 1400-1700 demonstrates how the festive culture of the Middle Ages was gradually eroded by the Reformation and the Puritans. It was in this merry time the legend of Robin Hood was formed. Robin Hood is a heroic outlaw in English folklore who, according to legend, was a highly skilled archer and swordsman. Traditionally depicted as being dressed in Lincoln green, he is often portrayed as "robbing from the rich and giving to the poor" alongside his band of Merry Men. Robin Hood became a popular folk figure in the late-medieval period, and continues to be widely represented in literature, films and television. In The Hobbit we discover that this idea of gift economy is shared by Bilbo Baggins, who gives most of his treasures away. Also it is seen in the hobbit custom of giving presents when they celebrate their birthdays, instead of receiving them.

And Max Weber´s book The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism shows how the competitive Protestants booted out the co-operative Catholics; it shows how a new ethic based on work and earning a lot of money came to replace, in the eighteenth century, the old medieval ethic, which was based on mutual aid. The medieval culture (which wrongly are depicted as a dark age by the Protestant work ethic) combined a love of Jesus, who preached idleness, and a love of Aristotle, who argued that contemplation led to happiness. (I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to banish their guilt around work).

The Chinese dropouts and the Epicurean attitude became a central inspiration for my own life, my teaching, my kind of philosophical counseling and cafés.

It is a passive way of meditation, a non-acting, receptive receiving, relaxed, enjoying, easy laid-back holyday-like kind of awareness, as when you listen to the birds or the breeze in the trees.

So today I live like a kind of philosophical mendicant friar, in poverty, chastity and obedience to some philosophical principles. I began to ask people the question: What philosophy of life would you choose if money was no object?

As the man who quit money, Daniel Suelo, says: “Wild Nature, outside commercial civilization, runs on gift economy: ´freely give, freely receive.´ Thus it is balanced. Commercial civilization runs on consciousness of credit and debt; thus it is imbalanced. What nation can even balance its own budget or environment? Gift Economy is Faith, Grace, Love - the core message of every religion. The proof is inside you: Wild Nature is your True Nature, crucified by commercial civilization.”

Following this philosophy of gift economy (freely give, freely receive) all my services (including philosophical counseling and cafés) are free of charge. All my articles and books are available in free PDF Versions.

I earn my living from what people give me (the “freely give, freely receive,” philosophy) and what the society can offer in form of social security benefit (which I see in the light of a kind of “Robin Hood-philosophy”). This is sometimes not very popular, but as I have mentioned, sometimes you have to be a kind of spiritual anarchist, a philosophical rebel, if you want to live in accordance with your calling in life. And not so different from how monks and nuns, or artists, always have lived.

Krishnamurti said, that it would be wise to retire in the age of 40 or 45, or even younger. Not in order to enjoy the fruits of what the world can offer, or what you have gathered of wordly things, but retire in order to find yourself, to think and feel deeply, to meditate and discover reality; because then you would actually be able to help the world in quite another way, because you not are identified with it. An insider in society is namely an outsider in relation to life itself, while an outsider in relation to society, is an insider in life itself.

My art of living is an idle philosophy born of an idle life. And if my life raises the suspicion of lolling, then look at my actions. I am trying to help people, and are favouring a person who would react freely and incalculably to external circumstances, pitting their individual liberty against the process of society: the little man eluding the clutches of the traffic warden.

Related Blog Post: 

On The Nature of Longing 

Related links:

Friday, January 12, 2018

A Brush from the Dawn of Creation

The mystical experience.

It doesn't come from your head. It unfolds from you heart like a flower.

It is a sense of an ancient shape beyond impermanence. It is a brush from the dawn of creation.

It can move behind a poem, a moonbeam, a memory of a childhood´s summer morning.

It is innocent. It doesn't obey. If you try to catch it, it dissapears like a butterfly.

And yet it is closer to you than your own thoughts.

There is a strange recognition when sensing it. You have known this in a forgotten time.

It can move behind historical places, but it is not history. It gives meaning to past and future, but it is not of time.

It is an invisible image accompanied by a soundless music.

It has no cause but leaves a sweetness on the tongue, a wonder in the heart.

It makes you long after breaking with the ordinary, and reaching into the extraordinary.

You must find it again and express it.

It is the self-portrait which came into being before yourself.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

On the Nature of Dreams

Imagine a distant garden, far away from the world´s ups and downs, a place where you really can rest, sleep and heal, such as The Garden of Epicurus, Wang Hsichih´s The Orchid Pavilion, or The Last Homely House in Rivendell.

In order to understand the nature of dreams you must simplify your life. In old days this meant to become a nun or monk. Today you can do this through the philosophy of idleness.

Dreams are a continuation in the sleep of the thinking in the awaken state. The awaken state´s thinking is primarily characterized by words, while the thinking in the dream state primarily is characterized by images. When you fall asleep the thinking in other words dissolves in images.

The thinking´s structure is the personal, collective and universal images in time. So, in dreams you experience the thinking´s structure. The personal and collective images work in past and future, while the universal images work in synchronicity with the Now.

The collective images are the area of primordial images, archetypes, religious images, symbols, teachers, higher worlds, other dimensions etc. They are form-formations of energy, creative up-tensions, a kind of matter, though on a highly abstract plane. These images exist in other words in the actual movement of the matter, and therefore not only in your mental activity, but also outside you in nature. They reflect themselves in your personal images, more or less vaguely.

Only you yourself know what your personal images are, but usually you don´t understand the conflicts. Due to the challenges of the Now the Ego is created. The Ego is the source of your conflicts. The Ego makes resistant against the Now, and therefore in fact against reality. This resistance consists of problematizing the Now by evaluating, saying yes and now, accepting and denying, comparing with earlier and hoping, desiring or fearing something else.

In this way the Ego creates a line of thought distortions of reality.

Feelings arise where the mind and the body meet. They are reflections of the mind in the body. Feelings can also be a reflection of a whole thought-pattern. A thought-pattern can create an enlarged and energy-charged reflection of itself in the form of a feeling. This means, that the whole of the thought´s past also can create a reflection of itself in the body. And if this past is filled with pain, this can show itself as a negative energy-field in the body. This is the emotional painbody.

In the concrete dream-content, which can be personal or collective, the universal images work in form of symbols. The symbol is a telescopying, a representing quintessence of the informationquantities, which the wholeness of the universal images contain. In this way the symbol-function of the dreams has a developmental function, which works with the person´s developmental level (the level of realization-work and ethical practice). This means, that dreams seek to put together, to synthesize and join, what the Ego in the awaken state has divided.

The developmental function tries to show you the map of your spiritual history, the dreaming tracks and songlines in the artwork of your spiritual life – your progressive karma. 

But therefore it is also impossible for the Ego in the awaken state to understand the dreams. It can well be, that the Ego finds that the dreams cost identitical clarity, but the Ego can logical seen not understand their function. Much dream interpretation is therefore completely deceptive. The Ego must let go of its desire after control.

Furthermore the dream state is connected with the body. When you fall asleep the energy flows away from the head and down into the body – you can feel it when you become sleepy, and your feet´s becoming warm. And therefore dreams are more characterized by feelings than by thoughts. The typical feelings in dreams are characterized by the five existential categories of suffering: unreality, division, stagnation, anxiety and meaninglessness. These are in Mediation as an Art of Life inextricable linked with the painbody.

Feelings are the body´s reaction on the thoughts. Feelings arise where the thoughts and the body meet. They are a reflection of the thoughts in the body. The thoughts create a build-up of energy in the body. It is this energy, which is the feeling, and it is in this energy the images of the dreams show themselves. In order to understand a dream you therefore have to try to feel it rather than to think it. And if there is conflict between a positive thought (all of your desires and longings) and a negative feeling, then the thought is a lie and the feeling is a truth.

The five existential categories of suffering are a part of your life-situation. In this way suffering has a past and a future. The past and the future form an unbroken continuum, unless the Now´s releasing power is activated through your aware presence, which is the goal with Meditation as an Art of Life. Behind all the different circumstances which constitute your life-situation, and which exist in time, there in other words exists something deeper, more essential: life itself, your being in the timeless Now itself.

If you activate this deeper dimension you will get the opposite categories: reality, cooperation, movement, safety and meaning.

The Ego-weakening, and the dreams´ connection with the body, causes that the energy-laws of life work much better in the dream state. In other words: dreams balance the energetical swings of the thoughts. And dreams seek to finish unfinished situations.

If you follow your dreams you will see, that wherever and whenever the Ego´s awake life - on the background of evaluations using opposites - has slipped out in one extreme, then the dream-process seeks to balance this imbalance by insisting on the opposite extreme. If you awake were too gentle, the dreams depict the more stubborn and unfriendly sides in your personality. If you were too negative, the dreams seek to bring the positive aspect into light. And each and every time the Ego in the awake life reacts on the challenges of the various situations, by using the past, an unfinished situation is left behind. The dreams seek to finish this as good as possible. As you know you are cursed to re-live the same dreaming themes again and again – until you begin to examine yourself, and change and restructure your thought-patterns, so that you can let go of the situations.

So, firstly the dreams have a developmental function through their symbol-function (progressive karma). Secondly the dreams function with reference to bodily and energetical balancing and regulation of the swings of the thoughts (compensatory karma). This, the self-regulating system of the dream-process, is a Sisyphean task though, as long as you in the awake life don't help.

This help is Meditation as an Art of Life.

Your dreams, and the five existential categories of suffering, will typical revolve around three of four themes (it can be less or more). The themes are due to particular painful/problematic events in your life. Jorge Luis Borges says something important about ordinary dreams:

“A curious feature of my nightmares – I don´t know if you share this with me – is that they have a precise topography. I, for example, always dream of certain corners in Buenos Aires. I´m on the corner of Laprida and Arenales, or the one at Balcarce and Chile. I know exactly where I am, and I know that I must head toward some far-off place. These places in my dreams have a precise topography, but they are completely different. They may be mountain paths or swamps or jungles, it doesn´t matter: I know that I am on a certain corner in Buenos Aires. I try to find my way.”

I think Borges here tells us something very common to all ordinary dreams. The thought (the dreamer) is lost in an endless split, and he tries to control the situation without luck. The horror is the negation of control. The content of the dream will normally be about childhood, your hometown, your school, the time where you lost the innocence of childhood, and the painbody was created - in all kinds of variations. All characterized by that you try to find your way; either concretely as a search for the way home, or as an attempt to figure out how to manage situations. Without luck. The painbody is the material for the dreams. If we want to enter into unordinary dreams (lucid or astral dreams) we must let go of our will to power.

The first step in Dream Yoga is to be clarified over what kind of themes your dreams typical revolve around. Therefore you must begin a process of remembering your dreams. You can do this by writing your dreams down in the moment you awake. Later you won´t need that.

The states of dreams can be grey, lucid and astral, which again correspond to the personal, collective and universal images in time. In the grey state you don´t know you are dreaming. In the lucid state you know you are dreaming, but you don´t know you are lying here in this bed and are and sleeping. In this state the creativity of the consciousness is set free in a fascinating degree.

In the astral state you know all this, and your consciousness can so to speak follow the dissolvement of the thoughts out into the astral worlds of the collective and universal images of time. In this state you can leave your body and use your dreambody to travel elsewhere, meet other astral travelers, and receive teaching from dream masters. In this state you´re like Peter Pan.

But the area of the collective images of time are a  dangerous place full of pitfalls.  

Central in Dream Yoga is the discrimination between subject and object, dream and reality - and what is lie or illusion, and reality. All original wisdom traditions have knowledge about this. The Dominican mystics call this step discriminatio, the ability to discriminate between how the energy is used temporal or religious. And despite that magical thinking actually can create something magical, then in true spirituality it is still something temporal, or relatively (black magic/occultism), which will create negative karma if practiced. The Orientals call it viveka, discrimination, the ability to use your will on that part of the energy, you can steer yourself, and steer it towards exercises, prayer, mantras, meditation, instead of towards career, worldliness, self-unfolding, as for example the New Thought movement wrongly preaches. Hereafter you let the process work by itself.

So, in spiritual practice it is of vital importance, that you begin to practice Harameditation (or other supporting religious/spiritual exercises), if there should occur lucid and/or astral states. This consists quite simple in stopping the fascination of the anti-spiritual (ego-based) experiences and temptations, and instead focus the awareness in Hara, and therewith lead the awareness in towards the source of consciousness. This will lead the consciousness towards the more universal images of time, which work in synchronism with the Now.

If you remain in, or explore the astral worlds of the collective time, which the astral state gives access to, then you in other words distract your awareness in past or future. This can cost awakenness and life energy, if you aren´t under guidance of an enlightened master. In addition it can cause Ego-inflation and other spiritual crises.

It is in other words very important that you do not move accent from awake day to dreams and sleep, do not use drugs or one-sided development techniques, which promise you great experiences concerning either lucidity or astrality.

You have to have patience. Even for people with a regular and well-ordered practice (2-3 hours every day) there can pass weeks, months or years between the reflections into the processes of dreams and sleep. However if practice is appropriate, the spiritual consciousness will with time automatically penetrate the nightlife´s vegetative forms of consciousness.

The nature of dreams is equivalent to the nature of death.

Three reminders:

1)  Let the dreams work by themselves as flowers.

2)  Don´t interfere in their self-regulating system.

3)  If you interfere they will get more distorted.

Dream Yoga is about fertilizing the nightlife´s vegative forms of consciousness.

Related links:

Paranormal Phenomena seen in Connection with Mystical Experiences (this article is about the nature of symbols).

Monday, December 11, 2017

On the Nature of Longing

In 1939, as Europe braced for the worst, J.R.R. Tolkien completed the first half of The Fellowship of the Ring, emphasizing how terrible riders in black could terrorize even the peaceful oasis of Frodo´s beloved Shire. The Ringwraiths of Middle-earth added a touch of evil not present in Tolkien´s previous novel, The Hobbit. In The Fellowship, the Black Riders are messengers of a greater evil brewing in Mordor. However, within the parallel perils of Europe in the twentieth century and Middle-earth at the end of the Third Age, Tolkien elegantly writes of safe havens where even in the darkest times, songs of love are sung under starlit skies. Nestled in the perfumed mountains of Rivendell and the ancient forest of Lórien, many of the elves of old knows what to hold on to, and what to let go of.

It is not unexpected that Frodo should be healed (though never cured) and reunited with Gandalf and Bilbo at the house of Elrond in Rivendell. Readers of The Hobbit already are familiar with the charms of The Last Homely House, the westernmost outpost of the elves. “That house was, as Bilbo had long ago reported, ‘a perfect house, whether you like food or sleep or story-telling or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all.’ Merely to be there was a cure for weariness, fear, and sadness.” In Rivendell the Nine Riders of the enemy are turned back, Isildur´s sword is re-forged and given to Aragorn, and the Fellowship of men, dwarves, hobbits and elves is formed. Despite, or because of such hard work, there is joyous singing, day and night.

The elves of Rivendell are famous for their singing. In the Christian story of creation, the New Testament tells us that in the beginning, there was the Word. In Tolkien´s spin, we are told that in the beginning, there was the Song. Before writing The Hobbit, Tolkien laid out the origins of Middle-earth and how the happy elves found a home there. Though The Silmarillion was first published in 1977, four years after Tolkien´s death, it contains the history behind Middle-earth that Tolkien had been working on for much of his adult life. As it begins, the creator of the world, Ilúvatar, made the Ainur, or Holy Ones, and gave them the power of song. The voices of the Ainur, like innumerable choirs and musical instruments,

Began to fashion the theme of Ilúvatar to a great music; and a sound arose of endless interchanging melodies woven in harmony that passed beyond hearing into the depths and into the heights, and the places of the dwelling of Ilúvatar were filled to overflowing, and the music and the echo of the music went into the Void, and it was not void.

Both elves and men (Quendi and Atani) were created as important players of the world´s symphony. But though the race of men will do great things, Ilúvatar proclaims, it is the elves who “shall be the fairests of all earthly creatures, and they shall have and conceive and bring forth more beauty than all my Children; and they shall have the greater bliss in this world.”

Tolkien´s Rivendell and Lórien are places you long for. Every kind of longing contains a glimpse of a longing after the universal vision and song of the Universe. Every longing is a thought. Your thoughts are words and images, which work in the river of time, which also is called Heraklit´s River.

As the Indian philosophy claims, then this stream not only contains your personal history, it also contains a collective and universal history – together a history, which consists of images. These images are form-formations of energy, creative up-tensions, a kind of matter, though on a highly abstract plane. These images exist in other words in the actual movement of the matter, and therefore not only in your mental activity, but also outside you in nature.  So, your thinking rises from an endless deep of images, which flow in the actual movement of nature.

The Indian philosophy claims, that the movement of time in itself is a negationpower. Time is one great negation of the Now´s unmoved being, which is the unmanifested, the actual source: the Good, the True and the Beautiful (God, Brahman, Ilúvatar). The negationpower is in that way the power behind the world´s manifestation. This manifestation, the Indian philosophy claims, has arised on the background of a mighty universal vision, which originates from past universes. In this way, the future arises, and an outgoing creative movement; a movement, which can be compared with what they within science call The Big Bang. In the outgoing movement, the great vision becomes, because of the negationpower, shattered in many images, which now become a kind of memories about the great vision. In this way, the past arises, and a longing back towards the origin, the unmanifested. And then a destructive backmovement is created.

In that way, the movement of time consists of two universal movements, which we could call the outgoing movement and the backmovement. Future and past, creation and destruction. These two movements are reflected throughout the universe in a multiplicity of different lifecycles; they are Samsara´s wheel of up-cycles which are followed by down-cycles and vice versa (for example life and death, success and fiasco, joy and sorrow) – all this which lie behind the law of karma and rebirth. This universe is for example considered to be a reincarnation of a past universe, the same way as a human being is considered to be a reincarnation of a past existence.

So the images in the movement of time is shattered reflections of the great vision of the universe, and are background for the manifestation of the holy scriptures of India, the Vedas, which are claimed to have been ”heard” by wise men (the so-called Seers) in the dawn of time, and by word of mouth delivered over oceans of time. They are shadows, dreams, masks, mirrors, fables, fairy-tales, fictions, music and songs. The Vedas therefore both include the most sublime and difficult available philosophy, as for example in the Upanishads, and good folktales as Ramayana and Mahabharata (with the famous Bhagavadgita), which with its clear ethical messages is told in village temples, to the children as bedtime stories, and which is inspiration for great poets as Rabindranath Tagore.

But the thinking´s past (memories, knowledge, traumatic bindings) and future (plans, projects, ambitions) can easily become a never-ending self-circling activity. All sovereign and self-forgetful life-expressions (which are flowering in Rivendell and Lórien) are coming from the Now, while the circling life-expressions are coming from time.  Guild-feelings, regret, anger, complaints, gloom, bitterness and all forms of lack of forgiveness, are created by too much past and too little presence in the Now. Discomfort, anxiety, tension, stress, worry – all forms of fear – are created by too much future and too little presence in the Now.

Tolkien´s Middle-earth, you could say, is in the same way filled with many dangers, and after the newly-formed Fellowship leaves the comforts of Rivendell, the participants are beset by snowstorms high atop Caradhras, and orcs within the Mines of Moria. Before they escape the Mines, the members of the Fellowship suffer their greatest loss, as their guardian wizard and mentor Gandalf falls into darkness at the bridge of Khazad-dûm. But just when all seems lost for the weary band of travellers, they reach Lórien, a magical forest where elves live and sing in the treetops. Like Rivendell, Lórien is a place for spirits to rise. It is the safe haven of the Now.

Tolkien, like many existentialist philosophers before him, believes that meaningful happiness does not come from ignoring the dangers but from facing the pain and still affirming life. As we read Tolkien´s famous essay on the author of “Beowulf,” we get the distinct impression that Tolkien might be speaking of himself. He discusses the artistic impulse, “looking back into the pit, by a man learned in old tales who was struggling as it were, to get a general view of them all, perceiving their common tragedy of inevitable ruin, and yet feeling this more poetically because he himself removed from the direct pressure of its despair.”

Living through two world wars, Tolkien himself had seen his share of despair and ruin. The Lord of the Rings was written during the years 1936-1949, among the darkest years in England´s history.

Galadriel has a darker side to her as well. Galadriel had tried to make Lórien “a refuge and an island of peace and beauty, a memorial of ancient days,” but she was now “filled with regret and misgiving, knowing that the golden dream was hastening to a grey awakening.” What has so filled the strong and seemingly ageless Lady of the Wood so with regret?

Perhaps the cause of Galadriel´s growing unhappiness is that she remembers too much. She never really forgets the curse hanging over her from ages long gone. Though Frodo and Sam see only settled bliss, Galadriel feels the burden of being a stranger in a strange land. She can never be fully happy in Lórien, because she can never entirely let go of the past. Tolkien judges this clinging to the past to be an “error,” a futile attempt to “embalm time.” Holding on to perfection in an imperfect world is an ultimately tragic attempt by the elves to “have their cake without eating it.” As long as Galadriel harbors an irrational desire to turn back the clock, her songs are mournful and slow. Her curse reminds about Karen Blixen´s fate.

The mythologist Joseph Campbell´s theory of the monomyth (The Hero´s Journey) is in the same way exceedingly conservative and founded on a deep nostalgia: for him, the cure for modern problems is found by returning to earlier notions of spirituality and moral virtue. In promoting a “living mythology,” Campbell harkens back to a lost “golden age” from which we have fallen, but to which we can return with effort and guidance of a “sage.” This might have to do with the inspiration from Jung. It is a reductionism, a psychologism. And herewith there is the danger of ending in idealism, and the same psychologizing, emotionalizing and therapeutizing ideology of our society, which New Age and Self-help stand for.

I have therefore supplied this with my own metaphysical naturalism, and with this a philosophical principle, namely to examine, whether the karmic talk and experiences of the experts and clients remove their energy-investments in the actual reality. If focus is displaced backwards, then the collective time has taken over and spiritual seen there therefore happens an escape. Such an escape is seen both in Freud, Jung, Rank, Grof, Janov, rebirthing, regression. None of these people and theories can therefore be said to work spiritual. And if they use the karma idea in that way, it is no longer a spiritual help, it is a collective displacement of the focus backwards in time and therewith out of reality and into the unreality of the collective time.

The genuine karmic structures do not lie in the collective time, but in the universal time, which works in synchronism with the Now. If the karma idea is used spiritual seen correctly, then the focus, instead of being projected out in something afar (past lives, a guru, birth, the future), will be present in something very near, namely only in the most intensive experiences of this actual life, and after that: in this actual Now with its possibility of realizing your innermost. It is your awareness in the now that will find the progressive karma, and this awareness you can of course only practice yourself.

The progressive karma is our inner light. And that is also the bright side of Galadriel, her rational and wise side. Tolkien teaches us to trust that inner light and be strong enough to leave old problems behind. When Frodo freely offers Galadriel the One Ring to rule them all, the very Ring that Galadriel has coveted throughout the ages, she refuses, knowing full well that with the refusal comes her own demise. Though the Lady of the Wood has stayed too long, she can still find happiness by remembering who she is, while walking away from the pronouncements of her past. “’I pass the test,’ she exclaims. ‘I will diminish, and go into the West, and remain Galadriel’”.

More than any other character in the tale, with the possible exception of Tom Bombadil, Lady Galadriel is imbued with the existentialist´s affirmation. As Frodo leaves the friendly borders of Lórien, she presents him with the symbolic light: The Phial of Galadriel. It was a crystal phial filled with water from her fountain which held the light of Eärendil's star - the light of the Two Trees as preserved in a Silmaril: a "star-glass." 

“It will shine still brighter when night is about you,” she promises. “May it be a light to you in dark places.”

And perhaps that is all that is meant by Tolkien´s imaginary elves. The elves find happiness when they trust in themselves. This self-confidence helps them sing throughout the darkest night, and leave the shores when the music ends. May their world be a light to us in our own dark places.

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