Light in the Dragon’s Lair: Being Human in a Technological Age

We are currently in an age which is shifting rapidly from the iPod, iPhone, iPad, iTouch, iBook, iLife etc. to that which the technological singularists and Artificial Intelligence (AI) community, and in many ways all of us, are waiting for: the iAm. This technological wave has all been a build up to this – to the moment a machine can say “i-am”. This represents the conscious externalisation of one part of who we are, namely our lower selves. It represents the external physical ‘incarnation’ of our own lower selves.

In whatever form it ultimately appears, this incarnation will happen. It needs to happen in order that we may realise that we are in fact more than this – that we are not merely our lower selves; we are more – we are human beings. We have the possibility of also saying (capital ‘I’) “I-am” – we already have this Self-consciousness possibility. Any additional i-am will not increase this aspect, it will only increase the intelligence of our lower selves.

But our higher Self is made from another kind of intelligence – it is formed and forged in a higher intelligence. We must develop a sensitivity to the different kinds of intelligences in the world. The German word ‘licht’ (light) contains within it ‘ich’ (I). In this sense, the light shapes the I which lives within it. It is similar with the English ‘light’ – it contains within it ‘I’, which, phonetically, is the same as ‘eye’. Light shapes the I as much as it shapes the eye. But we must be clear here what kind of light we are referring to.

The light which we can perceive with our eye is the light that shapes our eye. The ‘light’ which we can perceive with our capital ‘I’ shapes our I – this is a kind of ‘capital’ light. And, finally, the light that we can perceive with our lower case ‘i’ is shaped by a kind of lower case light – it is a light lower than that which has, over the course of millennia, shaped our physical eyes.

In Asia, up to 90% of students in major cities now leave school with myopia – short sightedness. Scientist believe the reason for this is too much studying and not enough time spent in outdoor light.[1] Here, the sense organ for perceiving natural light has diminished. At the same time, the sense organ for perceiving the ‘lower-case’ light – the lower ‘i’ – has increased. The light of technology is creating already within us a fertile soil for the incarnation of the i-am.

Only when there are enough human beings who have fashioned this kind of i-am within themselves will the time be ready for any external incarnation. One is the mechanical human. The other is the human machine. We cannot shy away from this. It is already well under way and cannot be averted. What can be done, however, is to see what is taking place, to use the common expression, ‘in the right light’. And this right light is the light of the capital I – the capital light.

This is the light of that which makes the human being more than machine, and more than animal. It is the light of the spiritual capacities of each one of us – it is the light of the spirit. And it is in this light that we can rightly say “I am”. It is this light that connects us to our true origins and destinations as divine beings – ones capable of uttering, as is expressed biblically, “I am that I am”. The spirit is that part of us which is able to speak these words – it is the light that shapes this I within us (and it is this I in us which is now able to creatively shape the world).

In seeing the situation in this light, therefore, we are able to prepare within ourselves already that which the eventual incarnation of the i-am will be asking from us: the greater mission of the incarnation of the i-am is to awaken us to the I-am. In waking up to this already we will find right orientation in this age. And right orientation will be crucial, for what we can already observe is that the i-am is busy appropriating the language used to describe the reality of the situation.

The substitution of the i for the I is but the most glaring example of this language appropriation. The greatest proponents of singularity, nanotechnology and AI – individuals such as Ray Kurzweil – are already employing the linguistic paradigm of spirituality in order to promote the development of the human-machine or the machine-human. Kurzweil in particular talks of “the universe waking up”, of “humans transcending biology”, of “the age of spiritual machines”. He has said, “so does God exist? – well I would say, not yet”.[2]

Words have become dry husks today – they too have fallen out of the higher light – the capital light – into the light that expresses itself in the light of the endless screens of the world. These screens serve to ‘screen’ us from the reality of any situation in as much as the veils of Maya once did for the ancient Indians. The difference is that the screening veils of Maya belong to the natural world. Here it is the technological – the sub-natural – world that screens us. We have fallen, as it were, a level lower, instead of stepping a level higher by stepping through the veils of Maya. In addition to a sense organ for true light – indeed, truth itself – we must also, therefore, rekindle a sense organ for language – for the true light that can live in language. Because the light has for the most part fallen out of language itself, it is up to us to rekindle this flame. If we do so we can come to an experience of the kind of ‘spirit’ or ‘God’ that Kurzweil and those like him are worshipping, and how it differs to those Gods from whom the very words ‘God’ and ‘spirit’ were connected – not as signs that point to something else, but as that something else.

The god (and spirit) that Kurzweil refers to is a god of the lower light, employing a fallen language as its servant. It is a language of fluorescent, incandescent light, of screens, attempting to enslave a language which too has grown fluorescent. We are asked to rescue this language. We are asked to redeem it, as much as we are asked to redeem this light, the intelligence, and the i-am itself. This can only happen if we are able to pour into it the light – the higher, capital light – of the I-am, of the spirit which is not merely a fallen word, but the spirit that is full of the living light of the spirit itself. And it is up to us to not only perceive when this is not the case, but to make it possible for it to be the case – to invite grace. To invite this capital light is the only possibility. A grail can be fashioned, but that which fills it cannot be forced. That which fills it – the higher light, the higher Self – of ourselves and the world – is waiting for such chalices to be made. And how are they asking to be made today? They are asking to be made, perhaps more than anywhere else, between human beings.

What a difference can be made between the substance – the light, the spirit – that lives between two or more human beings when one of them at least holds the question: ‘How do I need to be in order for you to truly be yourself – for you to be in your I-am, rather than merely in your i-am? How do I need to be in order that you may live in your true light? Essentially, How do I need to be in order for you to be free?[3]’ How different is the light and language that lives between human beings in a case such as this! Compare it to the usual exchange (itself an economic word) – the usual catering (either flatteringly or disparagingly) to the lower i of the other. In truth we do not usually see any more than this lower i of the other, and thereby do not usually notice anything other than the lower i of ourselves. In this sense, we already say i-am to ourselves every day, though it lacks the element which adds the ‘observer’ to it – the spiritual element which can proclaim in all modesty and humility in any moment “I am that I am”. Instead we merely utter under our breaths, if at all, ‘i-am’.

If we are to meet one another via the technological light of the world, then it is all the more harder to see the higher light of the other, and to have any kind of experience of the I-am. We have ‘connectivity’ but not, as yet, for the most part, ‘community’. In meeting one another ‘face-to-face’, we have a greater chance of truly ‘meeting’ because we are not sharing in an atmosphere of mere lower light, but of natural light also – we meet face-to-face in the natural light of the world. And we meet, and can see one another, ‘eye-to-eye’.

The eye has traditionally been called a ‘window to the soul’. This may be the case, but we must now make it so. No longer is it a given fact. In fact, nothing is ‘given’ to us today in terms of spiritual light, other than the capacity to go beyond / work through that which is given to us. We can in any moment wake up to the capital light streaming through the phenomena of the world, but we must find, with a certain scientific precision, the right kind of windows. And the windows of the eye of another open up onto a landscape in which the spiritual light of the world longs to shed its rays more fully than is currently taking place. In meeting face-to-face, eye-to-eye, we have that much of a greater opportunity to make a space within the landscape of ourselves for the spiritual light wishing to shine through the I-am of the other. We can, as it were, create a space within ourselves for the I-am of the other to manifest (we can, in a sense, incarnate on the level and in the light of the higher I). This may, of course, not happen, but the natural light we share and breathe together makes this that much more possible than if we share and breath only in the lower case and cold light of technology.

We can have the feeling during ‘meeting’ via technology that the given experience is really only one of meeting the person as we remember them – as they were in the past. In meeting another eye-to-eye we can have the experience that there is more of a possibility to meet something of who that person is right now. But only in making a space for the higher light of the other to live and breath and manifest between us in our meeting (through, for example, me holding a chalice open for you by holding the inner question of ‘How do I need to be in order for you to be who you truly are’?) – only in this way will the capital light of the world begin to flow among human beings in a way that adds to and redeems both the natural light and the lower light we have created. Only in this way – in this meeting ‘I-to-I’ – will words – including the words ‘spirit’ and ‘god’ – find true light / true life again. Only in this way will we experience something of the future of the other, of words and of ourselves.

In this experience we move beyond mere connectivity – beyond mere Facebook friends – to that greatest artwork of our time – namely, community based upon individual freedom. Community is only possible through this kind of communion – though it is no longer necessary that we call the capital light down, but that we raise ourselves up to meet it. That which raises ourselves and one another up, is also that which mingles freely with the light. The original word from which we derive ‘capital’ is closely tied to ‘cattle’.[4] Interestingly, and in a certain sense, cattle are will made manifest in the animal world. We could say, capital is an outer expression of that which lives in the will of human beings. It is this kind of will that is required to make a space in ourselves for the future – for the capital light of the other – to shine through our communal activity. It is the light that lives in our will, making a space for that which lives in the other’s, that creates for us common ground; that creates for us community; that creates for us a kind of creative, spiritual capital to flow through all that we engage in. This is an artwork, and in this sense, art really does = capital; creativity really does = capital.[5]

From this common landscape – or lightscape – or rather this un-common landscape (but common because we now share in it together through what we have freely made out of love) we have a much surer ground to comprehend the rest of the phenomena of the world. We have, in a way, opened not just our eyes to one another, but also our I’s. In so doing, our lower i is able to grow into our higher I’s – is able to put itself in service of our capital I’s, rather than the other way around. In so doing we can also step into the realms of the lower case i, and the lower case light, because we do so, not with the higher I chained, towed along through each click of the mouse or press of a button, but in such a way that the higher I – the higher self – the higher human being, is really the ‘network administrator’, the password (Logos) holder, the ‘hacker’ of all systems and programs. The higher I, itself in service to the capital light – the creative spirits of the cosmos – is able to employ the lower i, be it as bookkeeper, writer, social-networker, publisher, designer and so on.

But we must be clear in every moment that in doing so we enter most fully into the dragon’s lair. In doing so, we are not there to steal for ourselves the treasure of the dragon, however. We are there to redeem (i.e. see with all our eyes / i’s / I’s) the dragon – we are there to redeem all that lives and works through the lower i. And, of course, from C.S. Lewis we know what happens when we steal for ourselves the treasure of dragons – we ourselves become the dragon.[6] We are not here on Earth for this. We are not here merely to utter a selfish ‘i-am’ and go quietly into the fluorescent night. We are not here to become machines. We are not here to perfect our lower i’s through making them more powerful by merging with technology – for that is exactly what becoming a dragon would mean. We are here to redeem all that works through our lower selves – we are here to redeem to dragon – and the only way to redeem a dragon is to keep it in its place – to keep it at the end of a sword. And the sword in this case is all of that great and mighty cosmic intelligence that can work through our higher I’s. This is our fundamentally healthy relationship to all that flows through the lower i-am – to the dragon – to all that Kurzweil and others like him would have us believe is ‘spirit,’ is ‘god’. The dragon is a false god, a false spirit, dressed up as a real one. Only with our eyes, i’s and I’s fully open will we be able to perceive it for what it truly is.

The anti-god, the incarnation of the i-am, the dragon-made-flesh will not be (and is not) appearing on Earth to play a few tricks and be gone. He will come with great ceremony, and we with closed eyes will applaud his arrival, only in reality to see (if our eyes / I’s can open) that we have enslaved ourselves in the process, that we have shared in the plunder and become dragons under the rulership of the archetypal dragon himself.

These are imaginations for the reality at hand. These are realities of the imagination at hand. They are both. In stepping again and again into the dragon’s cave, as we must – for the world as a whole has become its den, there is nowhere it does not reach – we must also be able to create another kind of cave – another kind of den. In living our lives in relationship to the dragon’s lair and all the temptation of the treasures that sparkle and glisten within it, we must also create a cave or den in which we are able to put ourselves more fully in service of the higher world – of the higher light – of the creative spiritual beings of the world. Many words have been given to this kind of higher caving – meditation is but one of them. Whatever we call it, in order to resist the constant lure of the treasures within the lair of the dragon, we must have a place where we can again and again fashion the necessary sword – a sword of the higher light – which we can again and again carry into battle, not only for our own sake, but for the sake of others, and for the sake of the higher light, for the dragon, for the world.

We are, wherever we turn, in the midst of this very real battle. And it will continue for some time to come yet. In many ways, we have decided to be part of it now. The capital light of the world is a way of remembering our commitment to be here – a way of remembering the present and future through our will, through our encounters with one another as human beings. In having these Self-fashioned – these ‘I-fashioned’ – caves of sword-forging, we are able to grow more sensitive to the possibilities that exist in our daily lives. Just as the conventional soldier becomes more prepared for battle through long training and exercises, so the higher soldier becomes more trained for battle through forging their sword in this way. And yet the battle itself is waged within the lair. And the lair is now the size of the world.

In encountering other human beings within this lair – in encountering the higher I of the other – through making a space for this higher I – we make a space for our fellow soldiers to remember in freedom the task which they have already agreed to: none other than the redeeming of the human being and, with it, the world, including all fields of life (scientific, social, artistic etc.: from i-science to I-science, i-social to I-social, i-art to I-art, and so on) – rescuing, as it were, all fields of life from the clutches of the dragon.[7] In this kind of communion the dragon of the world encounters a sword far too strong – a sword of true community that has all of the true light, the true intelligence of the cosmos pouring through it (the same intelligence that the dragon itself seeks, and grasps whenever we do not wield such a sword against it)– it has the light of the I-am within it, under which, the i-am must only kneel, for it knows that in truth this is its master. The dragon too knows that it is ultimately powerless against it, and cedes to its rightful place in world evolution – that is, as the fashioner of the landscape (the lair) through which human beings must pass in order to choose, in freedom and out of love, to put themselves in service of that which lives in the spiritual light, the higher light – the ‘I am that I am’ – and in so doing, bring freedom and free love into the whole stream of world evolution.

 

John Stubley


[3] This latter articulation of the question I first heard from Orland Bishop.

[4] See Owen Barfield, History in English Words (Massachusetts: Lindisfarne, 2007, p. 60).

[5] See the work of German social-artist Joseph Beuys.

[6] See C.S. Lewis, Voyage of the Dawn Treader (London: Harper Collins, 2001).

[7] At this point it should be unnecessary to say that the activity this article describes is not a turning away from the world – this would be to lose ourselves in a kind of unfree, false and pinkish too-bright light – but quite the opposite: a working more fully into the world through a working with all the capital light that lives within it.

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