Guiding the Tide: Working with the World Waiting to be Made

We need not look so far into recent events in order to see the consequences of our failure to consciously shape our time in the direction in which it itself is already heading.

Instead of working with the reality at hand we have instead invented all sorts of arbitrary programs for how we think social life should be. But social life will not suffer this. Like the surging of the oceans, it will go its way according to an inner lawfulness. If we do not listen to this lawfulness, we can and should expect nothing other than an ongoing tidal wave of disastrous events.

To look at one example among many, we can see all-too-plainly in present day Europe the consequences of overlaying a social program onto a social organism that has already begun to ‘move’ in a particular direction.

At present, it is unsure whether or not Greece will remain within the confederation of nation states known as the European Union (EU). The reason given for this? It has not been able to account for itself economically. Because of this, Greece has become part of an ongoing debate about whether or not to approach economic problems with ‘austerity’ (essentially, the state spending less) or ‘growth’ (essentially, the state spending more).

Leaders at the recent G8 Summit in the USA have rightly said that this perceived duality – austerity or growth – is a false debate.[1] They are right, however, not because austerity and growth, hand in hand, can fix the problems we currently see, but, rather, because such a debate belongs only to the surface-level of the problem. It takes place only on the level of the social program which hovers slightly above the actual currents flowing through social life itself.

In order to truly get past this false debate, therefore – in order to truly come to some meaningful pictures for how society itself is already seeking to be – then we need to get past this surface-level of contemporary thinking and its slogans. Only in this way can we come to any real understanding of the direction in which society is already heading, and how we can work consciously with it in order to guide it towards health.

In England, at present, we are observing the implementation and effects of so-called ‘Big Society’.[2] Essentially, this amounts to the trimming-down of an overweight government – an overweight political / rights life. Whether or not we agree with what is taking place is not so much the point. The reality is that, faced with economic difficulties, the UK government is reducing its control over services that it was once responsible for. It is, essentially, handing control of many of these services to civil society – to community and other such organisations. The rationale for doing this, according to the government, is to transfer power from “politicians to the people”.[3] The economic effect is, of course, that it saves the government money.

Whatever the rationale, and whatever the result, however, it is more important to observe that this is actually taking place. The government of a once, so-called, global empire – the government of a country in which modern economic life really took a foothold; the government of a country that is part of the G8 and that remains a global power-house – is actually attempting to shrink. It is attempting to limit its control over the community sector – or, more broadly speaking, civil society as a whole. That is, political / rights life is attempting to shrink back from its control over cultural affairs.[4]

Again, the most important thing to observe is that this is taking place. It is a social fact. The consequences – the way in which it is handled – however, are the result of approaching the situation in an as yet one-sided manner. This is one situation.

Another important social fact that we must not overlook can be found in the many ‘revolutions’ that have taken place around the world in the past year or so. To Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Jordan and elsewhere in the Arab world, we must also add the Occupy movement in the USA (and globally), as well as the many protests taking place in Russia. What we are seeing in each of these cases is the standing up of non-governmental and non-economic individuals and groups against the way in which their country is currently operating. We are seeing, essentially, civil society saying that their freedoms have been encroached upon either, predominantly, by the state (in the Arab world) or by economic interests (in the Western world). (Even in the case of repression by the state, however, economic interests have played a central role, and vice versa.)

Whether or not we agree with such revolutions is, again, to miss the point. If we are to look simply at the facts, we must say that we can clearly observe here the way in which civil society is pushing back from its own sphere of influence and activity the tides of government on the one hand, and business on the other. Not only that, it is attempting to push economic interests out of government. Civil society, as representing values, identity, meaning and norms – that is, all things cultural – has been pushing back polity and economy into their rightful places – into their lawful currents or streams.

A further, essential, observation involves economic life itself. What we can clearly observe is that business – as representative of economy – has completely permeated political / rights life, as well as cultural life. Elections are bought and sold, laws are created by lobbyists, and so on. At the same time, our schools and universities have become mere training grounds for the so-called ‘workforce’ – education has put itself completely at the service of economic life. We are more concerned in producing cogs in the wheels of the economic machinery of the world, than we are in producing free-thinking and creative human beings who are able to re-imagine and re-create not only economic machinery, but the social organism as a whole. These are also facts.

The stream of economic life, in flowing over the other streams of society – over culture and polity – has become a kind of toxic, black oil slick, suffocating the life of the social organism – and of the human beings – struggling to live beneath it.

And yet, again, we are seeing civil society stand up against this slick[5] and push it back – changing the course of the tide. Not only that, however, we also see, from time to time, government attempting to push business back into its rightful place, however feebly. The inquiry into the media practices of News Corp is one such observation we can make in this direction. If we observe it clearly, we can see that, in this case, the UK government is engaged, however consciously, in a pushing back of business from out of both political and cultural life. Political because of the political influence such businessmen as Rupert Murdoch wield; and cultural because the media is in reality a cultural institution wishing to be free of both economic and political control.

The debate between either a free or state-owned / controlled press is as irrelevant as the debate between growth or austerity. It is a question of observing that the press – and media in general – will ultimately always seek its own freedom (as the internet clearly demonstrates). But the freedom it seeks is not economic (i.e. as a business free from government regulation), it is cultural. That is, media (and cultural life as a whole) tends always towards cultural freedom, and in so doing pushes back again and again both state and economic control. While the UK media inquiry argues in a round-about, mostly-unconscious and feeble way for this to happen, the stream of cultural life continues to flow its own way (again, as the internet, for example, clearly shows).

What we can also observe within economic life is, of course, that businesses continually attempt to push back what they call over-regulation by government. (The debate between state-regulation and the free market is another false debate.) This can be observed from the activities of the lobbyists in Washington, to the campaign against so called ‘mining taxes’ in Australia, which led, in part, to the removal of a Prime Minister.[6] Again, whether we agree with it or not, economic life does wish to go its own way, and to be free from the control of government. At the same time, it also wishes to be free from the control of civil society organisations that attempt to push it back into its own stream of activity. However, we must be clear here that, as our observations reveal, economic life, though it seeks to flow in a direction free from the influence of the other two streams of social life, it will (through its current unhealthy program / structure) tend towards, if able, a flowing over the top of the other two streams. Our observations show that this is the case. But why is this the case?

In the idea of the free market – in the so-called ‘invisible hand’ of the market – we have created a kind of programmatic intermediary that stands between human beings. In so doing it negates our capacity to perceive the real needs of one another. We become, as it were, removed from real economic encounters with our fellow human beings because we have entrusted this activity to an idea – to a program that stands between us – the invisible hand of the free market. In trusting in this free market with the fervour of religious belief, we have relinquished our power to perceive the true needs of our fellow human beings. When we see suffering, we pray to the god of the free market who will in time, hopefully sort it out. Where we see great wealth, we praise this individual as someone who the god of the free market has looked favourably upon, and we hope that we too, one day, may also receive such blessings. Like religion, there are those who are able, more so than others, to use the idea of the free market for their own gain. Unlike religion, however, the free market is built upon the premise that our own gain is all that matters. Greed is good. Social Darwinism has become the bible. We shall compete and the strongest will survive. In such a process, everything thereby becomes commodified: land, labour, capital, even money itself. This has become our economic program.

And yet, on the other hand, what we can also observe taking place in our time are more and more businesses which put an emphasis on economic exchanges not determined by the free market, but by human beings. Community Supported Agriculture, Associative Economics, Social Finance, Social Investing, BALLE, B-Corps, social enterprise generally, and so on, are just some articulations of a way of working economically which can be said to be based not on the program of the free market, but on human beings perceiving the needs of one another.[7]

It is important to note that such initiatives are able to flow into economic life because they began as trickles that flowed across from the stream of cultural life. Without a free-flowing cultural life, no such associative or collaborative economic thinking (or the resulting initiatives) could ever have come about. With this observation we touch upon part of the mystery in which the three streams attempt not only to separate, but to then re-align and work together towards health.

So far we have observed the way in which the stream of political or rights life is now attempting to pull back its influence from culture and economy, as well as, at times, keep economy in its place. We have also observed how cultural life is pushing back the streams of both economic and political activity into their rightful spheres, as well as influencing activity within those spheres (economics based on collaboration between human beings, political life based upon the democratic principle of equality[8]). And we have observed how economic life, seeking to be free of the influence of polity and culture, will (given its current unhealthy program) eventually seek to overrun the other streams of social life unless it is able to give up its worship of a false deity / idol – the invisible hand of the free market – and instead focus on economic facts: namely, the real needs of human beings. The impulse to do this flows, originally, from the wellspring of cultural life.

This is the way the tides of the world are currently flowing. These are observable facts. The question for us is whether or not we will choose to work consciously with the way in which the social tide is now blatantly turning, choosing to sculpt and guide it in the direction in which it is already moving. This is the direction of health.

Cultural life – education, the media, art, science, academia, agriculture, medicine, etc. – is clearly striving to be free in order that it may be able to provide a space where new thoughts are possible, and in order that it may be able to put these thoughts into actions which are in service of the needs of the other streams of social life. Freedom is the channel that must guide the stream of cultural life as it flows ever forward.

Political life is clearly striving for equality. No more can economic life influence the creation of and carrying out of laws – of the life of rights. All human beings seek to be equal before the eyes of the law, and also in the creation of laws. The direct, participatory and deliberative democratic movements, together with the Occupy movement, are clear expressions of this observable fact. The channel that will guide the stream of political life towards health is equality.

We are currently suffering, primarily, under the cancerous oil-slick of economic activity run riot. This is because, again, we have inserted a false program to govern it. At the heart of economic life, however, it itself seeks, as we have touched upon, to enable human beings to work together to meet each other’s needs. The channel we must consciously build for the healthy development of economic activity is not false competition based on illusion, but rather association, based upon economic fact.

And so how are these three divergent streams currently striving to re-align and work together? Cultural life, in order to carry out its task, obviously needs economic capital. The concept of Big Society in the UK already shows us that government is seeking to (further) remove itself as the provider of such capital. Rather, economic life, carrying out its true task of perceiving and meeting human needs, is also charged with the task of perceiving this general need of cultural life as a whole. Capital, beyond that needed to carry out the functioning and further development of business, seeks, rather, to flow to cultural life as a free gift.[9] It must be a gift, otherwise culture cannot flow down its necessary and lawful channel of freedom. As the ensurer of rights, it is the task of political life to ensure this capital flows from economic to cultural life. It is then the task of cultural life, in freedom, to see where this capital is allocated.

We may also ask, In what ‘mood’ does each stream wish to relate to the others? The answer can already be seen in the way in which the leaders of nation states meet with one another. In observing the way in which one country meets another (such as at the recent G8 Summit) we can have a feeling for the way in which each stream wishes, in truth, to encounter those of the other. The streams of social life within countries seek to meet one another in the atmosphere of mutual respect and interdependence with which the leaders of countries currently (or aspire to) meet.[10] (This can, of course, flow over to meetings with those beyond current state borders.)

This is how the already-present movements of the streams of social life are already flowing, and how we must observe them in order to comprehend how we can guide them in the direction of health. For if we do not, the levees we build against the tide social life through the arbitrary programs we create, will only serve to hold it for a short time. They are bound to eventually collapse under the weight of the lawful movement of the social currents of the world. Such a collapse will bring a tidal wave of devastation and catastrophe for a long time to come.[11] We must learn to work with the social tides of the world in the ways we can only touch upon here.

If we are able to rise to this challenge, however, we will build the necessary channels to guide the waters of the world in the direction in which they themselves have already begun to flow. The time for the levees and dams of social programs is over. We can no longer manipulate or hold back the tide for our own personal gain. We will drown under such greed and illusion as this, and the course of world events and world history will wash over us.

If, on the other hand, we can work consciously with the direction of world becoming, we will be able to create the right channels for and with social life, in order that each channel may flow in its rightful place, in its rightful way, in right relationship with one another. If this is able to happen, then will these channels become the arteries and veins – the lifeblood – that can flow through the social organism as a whole. And the organism can begin to breath new life, with its autonomous, yet interdependent streams working together in mutual respect – in a healthy flow throughout the entire social organism. In this way will the human being be able to find a social organism that supports the healthy development of his or her own organism. Then will the streams that flow through the human organism find right relationship with the streams that flow through the social organism. Then we will be able to find the one within the other, and rather than wave after wave of catastrophic social flooding (whose task it is to correct our misunderstanding) we will instead move with the whole course of world evolution, towards health.

 

John Stubley


[4] The UK government, like most Western countries, has already released much of its control over economic life.

[5] In an interesting word /meaning connection (‘slick’) we can get a feeling for both the ‘smooth’ and ‘glossy’ surface-level representation of much of the world’s economic activity, as well as the destructive nature of an out-of-control ‘oil slick’ – destructive, that is, for all that lives beneath it, and all else that it comes into contact with.

[7] Fundamentally, we can observe the way in which, in every economic exchange, both the buyer and seller receive something they want. In valuing your product over my money, I get what I want. In valuing my money over your product, you get what you want. I supply my money and demand your product. You supply your product and demand my money. Supply and demand exist on both sides of the transaction, making the ordinary duality of ‘supply and demand’ yet another false debate. The reality of the economic exchange, therefore, is that it strives to be a place where human beings are able to meet each other’s needs. This must become conscious, however. If it does not, we fall into (and thereby create) abstractions such as the free market and Social Darwinism, and the true activity that seeks to come into expression in all economic exchange slips through our fingers. If we are able to overcome this unconsciousness, however, we can move from illusory ‘win-lose’ economic exchanges, to real exchanges which may be expressed as ‘win-win’.

[8] As seen, for instance, in what the Occupy movement strives towards.

[9] To explore this flow from an accounting perspective see, for example, the work of Marc Desaules, particularly A Human Response to Globalization: Discovering Associative Economics (Switzerland: Associative Economics Institute, 2003, pp 88). One well-known example of an application / initiative in this direction is ‘Newman’s Own’, which donates all after-tax profits to educational and charitable purposes. This kind of movement of money, however, is itself striving to become the norm for every business’ after-tax and after-growth business profits.

[10] Many so-called tri-sector partnerships currently exist between government, civil society and business, but often without this necessary mutual respect, nor of a conscious understanding of the streams from which they draw their power, i.e. civil society from culture, government from polity, business from economy. For a detailed exploration in this direction, see the work of Nicanor Perlas, particularly Shaping Globalisation: Civil Society, Cultural Power and Threefolding (Philippines: Center for Alternative Development Initiatives, 2000).

[11] That which has been taking place – and continues to take place – in Syria is but one example of such devastation.


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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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And the Flesh Becomes Word: The Art of ‘We’, The Art of Community, the Art of the Future

We currently live in a world which is – from one direction – nothing other than an expression of the difficulties associated with approaching a certain mystery. And the mystery is this: How are we, as individual human beings aspiring towards freedom, supposed to live in community with other, individual human beings?

Wherever we turn – on whatever social level we choose – we can see the consequences of our struggle (conscious or otherwise) to find an appropriate way of dealing with this question, this mystery. At the same time, we can see, on the one hand, existing power structures which are attempting to carry on with business as usual, as if this question was not alive within social life or the human beings who comprise it. On the other hand we are seeing the beginning of numerous uprisings of human beings attempting, out of an inner necessity, to change the existing social climate into ‘something else’. But what, in reality, could this something else be? And what is this something else asking from us?

What has carried human beings for millennia – namely, the given community – has been a kind of community which has flowed through the arteries and veins of human beings and of different groups. It has been a kind of community which has flowed through the blood (families etc.). At the same time, it has also flowed through language (races, nationalities etc.). Up until relatively recently, all that has lived in the bloodlines and in the ‘language-lines’ of human beings has provided a given community life. This situation has now, however – on the whole – run its course.

Joseph Beuys has, famously, said that every human being is an artist. (If so, we must add to this, as we shall see, that every human being is also a community being.) In Beuys’ sense, artistry can be seen as the individual, creative and, indeed, spiritual capacity of human beings, no matter where it is directed. It is not limited to art in a narrow or traditional sense, but includes anything humans turn their hands and minds to, including social life.

Artistic capacity, in this sense, can be seen as a given. Its realisation is, however, not given. We all have it as potential within us, but it requires us to awaken it if it is to be realised. So it is today with community. All that has lived in the blood has run dry. Language too has run dry. Community is no longer provided for us in the same way as it once was. So then, how are we to re-enliven social life – how are we to realise and create any art of ‘we’ – based upon the current reality we find today?

It is all too easy to see the consequence of falling too much to the extreme of one-sided individualism cut off from community life. This manifests in the kind of extreme capitalism currently ravaging the world. It manifests in families and marriages falling apart. It manifests in the breakdown of communities, drug and alcohol addiction, and the exploitation of human beings. At the same time, we have also seen the effects of a kind of enforced community life that negates the free, individual, creative, spiritual capacities of the human being. Communism, for instance (as well as a dictatorship, for that matter), rather than creating community, has the actual effect of hindering true art and, thereby, true community.

All of these symptoms – on either end of the spectrum – represent a kind of ‘speaking’. They represent a kind of language. They speak of the un-health – the cancerous disease – that has spread throughout social life in our time. The revolutions we have observed in recent years are an acting out – a speaking out – against this, though they too are at risk in any moment of falling into old habits.

For this article I was asked to say something of the power of writing to create the ‘we’. In considering this, I had to consider the power of the word itself. Though the power of language and of words have, of themselves, grown weak in our own time, this has not always been the case. Indeed, it is hard to move far in an exploration of the word without calling to mind one of the most poetic of all texts – whatever one’s religious persuasion – the Gospel of St John. Here the creative power of the Word is both the subject and the activity required to grasp it. “In the beginning was the Word”. The Word – the Logos – can be found in the beginning of all things. And yet, if we are to follow the trajectory of the Word, we must also come to observe, as St John did, that “the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us”. What does this say, then, about the significance of language and of ‘writing’, of community life and creativity in our time?

The creative power – art, as Beuys would have it – dwelt (i.e. was) in the beginning as the all-pervasive, creative power of the world. In becoming flesh, this creative power has made its way into the hands of individual human beings (indeed, it is itself the individualising force). The Word, the Logos capacity, became flesh. Every individual human being now has the possibility to create, to be artistic, to shape community and social life as a whole. And yet, in order to realise this possibility, we must add another step to the path outlined in St John’s work. And if we are to do this without prejudice, looking at the situation of the world today and all we have so far been observing, we can say that to “In the beginning was the Word” and “The Word became flesh”, we must now also add, “And the flesh becomes Word”.

To do so, however, we must, again, see the situation in the right light. We are not referring here to a return to “the beginning” – to a time of all-pervasive communal life – communal Wording – void of the individual and free nature of the human being. The individualised nature we currently possess is the consequence of a long journey of this creative element – this Logos activity – becoming earthly – becoming flesh. We ourselves, as free individuals, now contain within us the creative power of all that lived in the beginning as the creative Word. To turn back to some previous time when individual freedom was not possible for the human being would be to run counter to the whole course of the evolution of human consciousness and world becoming itself. This kind of thinking runs into the dead-end of communism or, essentially, any form of social life which does not respect individual, creative freedom.

We cannot turn back. We must instead, step forward on the path. And to step forward means to realise our own creative capacities, and offer the opportunity for others to realise theirs. The capacity we have within us must be realised – must be actualised – the flesh must begin to become Word – if we are to have any art, any community, any future worth speaking of.

And yet, as we have seen, the pitfalls on this path are significant. On the one side the temptation to turn back appears as a kind of pink, warm cloud. It tempts us to forgo our own individualised nature and surrender to the whole. It is a cloud that would take us away from the earth, back to the beginning. On the other side of us on the path there appears, out of a murky abyss, a kind of cold, bony hand that would pull us even further down – even further into the flesh. It would, in a way, project us too far into the future, individualising us even further and completely cutting us off from our fellow human beings. We would become completely isolated.

Each of us imaginatively walks this path today. We walk between, in a real way, two evils. It can be observed everywhere – and perhaps nowhere more obviously than in technology. In using the internet, for example, we can find that, at one extreme, we are pulled further into the flesh – pulled down into a kind of mechanical-computational thinking, a mechanical ‘flesh’ – where it is quite possible to experience ourselves as mechanical, computational beings. Within this one-sided extreme, the proponents of technological singularity and artificial intelligence, including Ray Kurzweil, are quite correct – that the human being is a kind of machine, and that in the future the best that we can hope for is that human beings merge with machines, and that machines merge with human beings.

On the other side we are tempted, constantly, by a kind of thinking that would take us away from ourselves. Our attention while ‘surfing’ the internet can flit about wherever it is taken – our thinking floats, in a way, on a cloud of interaction wherever it is drawn next. Countless advertising, scams, pornographic content and predatory activity can take place in this realm, preying upon, at times, people’s earnest desire for community itself. Wherever we turn on the internet, our thinking is confronted with the tempting and warm cloud that life can somehow be better here – that we will find here all the community we ever need.

Here, it is all too possible to see the bony hand of a kind of mechanical individualism wrapped up together with the cloud of communal temptation – they weave together. And yet, where is the space for the human being? Again, the internet is only one such place where we can observe this activity – it can be seen everywhere. The only remedy available is to create for one’s-self the necessary path through these two forces which, though having their role, become evil when we stray too far to one extreme. The creative Logos – the Creative Word – as we have been describing it here, is the only sure path through the centre of these two evils, holding them in a kind of balance.

We can ask ourselves, What was our experience during the most creative experience of our lives? It is worthwhile taking a moment to consider this. If we do so seriously, it is possible to observe that during such moments it is not only us who is active or creative, but that something other than us is creative in us. We are active, and then it is as if something creative comes to our aid in the creative deed. Creativity itself – in the sense we have been talking of it here; the creative Logos – allows a kind of speaking in which we are ‘inspired’ (as Greek writers called upon and were inspired by their muses – though now it is not so much that we need to ‘call down’ the muse, as we need to ‘step up’ to it, as individuals as well as in community) in our act of creativity. We may wonder, then, if in this moment we lose any of our individuality, any of our freedom. In such moments, it is possible to observe that rather than losing any of our individual human freedom, we actually feel the most free, the most individual, the most human. That which makes us human is of the same substance as that which comes to our aid in moments of true creativity, true artistry, and yes, true community. We here realise the Logos – the creative Word – within us, and we are able to make a space for the same in others. We thereby overcome the experience that we are simply mechanical objects – mere machines – but are, rather, human beings; that we are communal beings related to all the creative beings of the world; that our very nature is that of creativity, of artistry, of spiritual activity, and that we can create community/communion with other creative, spiritual beings.

In realising this in any moment, we are able to hold the two evils of the world in their rightful places, whether we are using the internet or anything else (for we cannot turn away from the world, we must engage with it). We are able to move from the i-cloud (or i-life, i-pod, i-pad etc.) to a true community with other I beings. The i-cloud then becomes a kind of capital ‘I’ I-cloud; we move from a little ‘i’-life to a capital ‘I’-life. We become more fully human in a human community of other I-beings, and more fully ourselves. We are thereby able to work with the internet (which, as we well know, is possible), or anything in social life, in a way that is artistic, creative, human and based upon true community because the Logos is there present.

In doing so we can become co-writers, co-authors, co-poets with the creative powers of the universe – with the Logos – with the Word. We move from an original, unconscious/un-individualised presence in creative activity (“the beginning” Word), to holding unrealised potential, to an active participation in shaping the world as individual, creative, spiritual beings. The small ‘i’ becomes, and then becomes capital ‘I’. (In an interesting word-connection, for Beuys, Capital = Creativity / Capital = Art. The new world must be built on such capital(s) – on such pillars – as this.)

At the same time, our artistry must be turned also to the organisation – to the artwork, to the poem – of social life as a whole. The imagination of the way in which social life needs to be structured is the true – i.e. artistic – human being. The human being is how we must picture society as a whole. In this way can we understand Plato’s idea that the state is the soul “writ large” – except now we expand the state to encompass all social life, or rather, place the state in its rightful place within society as a whole. Only in this way will we create a social life in which it is possible to find the human being as human being.

And in order to shape the social organism in the direction of health, we must have the courage to again and again come to the wellspring – to the source – of the Logos. We must come again and again with our individual, fellow human beings not to an un-free “beginning” but in freedom to the ‘ever-present future’ – to the fountainhead of the Word. Here we can find one another as human beings. Here we can find the field of pre-linguistic Wording – the place from which all words (i.e. deeds) flow. And they must flow. For if we do not provide very real and practical avenues and applications for this wellspring to flow into, it will float away – it will waft away with the clouds. At the same time, we cannot ‘dam’ the flow of the Word – we cannot dam the creative, artistic and spiritual capacity of each one of us as human beings. For if we do, more and more illness will occur, both for individuals and for society as a whole. Instead, we must create the right kind of channels, the right kind of vessels for the creative Word to flow into the world. And these right kind of vessels are artistic, creative, human beings. And when these human beings turn their attention to the social organism on whatever level, they will see that it needs to be organised in a way that is fit for artistic, creative, human beings – that is, for the whole – not just mechanicalhuman being. In so doing can the creative Word flow, as it longs to do, through the previously dry arteries and veins of the human being, as well as through the arteries and veins of the world itself. In so doing can the organisms of the human being and society grow towards health. In so doing can language and words find new life among human beings, so that each one of us may take up our rightful place as co-authors and co-poets of the future of the world, in service of and in accordance with the creative speaking of the cosmos. In so doing may the human being and the world realise their free, artistic, spiritual and communal capacities. In so doing, may the flesh become Word.

 

John Stubley

This article has also been published in Volume 7 of We-Magazine: “We and the Arts”.

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The Life and Death of Social Change

From the Arab world, to America, to Europe, to Russia and beyond, we have witnessed, over this past year, and are continuing to witness now, the obvious death of existing conceptions and imaginations of how society needs to be in order that the human being may be able to live in it as human being.

What we are, thereby, also seeing throughout these times is nothing short of a death of our existing understanding of the human being itself. Our paradigms have run dry, and they have run dry because they are out of step with reality. And yet, what has been our response to this?

More than a year after initial events in Tunisia and Egypt, we are seeing old patterns re-emerge in different garments. Dictatorships are being dressed up as something else, in many instances using imported clothing.

The fact that Egypt, for example, is currently working towards the kind of formal democracy which has created the kinds of problems that people in America are themselves rebelling against must surely raise some serious questions.

No doubt there are steps on the road to any destination, and progress can be painfully slow. But what of the road that we as humanity tread together?

The lessons being learned in America must also be learned by those calling for social change in other parts of the world. In looking to America, it is clear that representative democracy coupled with a so-called ‘free market’ has devastated not only that country, but, as a global power, the rest of the world with it.

The paradigm that stands behind neo-liberal globalisation and the ‘Washington Consensus’ is nothing other than a dragon which has been devouring the world (and the human being), and is now also devouring the lair out of which it has crawled. The question must be, however, Is another world possible? Is there another world waiting to be made?

True creativity involves a process of death. In nature we can observe the withering and decay of plants even while their seeds germinate and bring new life. Animals, as a part of a particular species, such as the lion, will often compete with other lions. Here, the strongest may survive (on this lower level Darwinism proves itself true), but only in order that the species as a whole may find renewed life. In this sense, each human being is a species unto him or herself; and contains within it all animal species.

In zooming out our microscopes we can also observe the way in which natural ecosystems contain organisms that do not compete with, but rather support, one another. Bees pollinate flowers which, in opening to the warmth and air and light, offer their pollen for the honey of the bees; bees which are involved in an elaborate co-working for the hive as a whole. Everywhere we can observe organisms which have not merely ‘adapted’ to their surroundings, but whose survival itself actually depends upon this mutual co-dependence and co-operation.

Social life is nothing other that the coming together of human beings. At present, we are working with paradigms that picture the human being only as a higher form of animal that must also compete to survive. The social revolutions we are seeing take place around the world are nothing other than a feeling within the human being that there is more to it than this – that no longer do we wish to live in a world that forces us through its structures to pit ourselves against our brothers and sisters in an eternal struggle for survival as if we were merely animals.

What we are really seeing unfold across the world in our time is the external manifestation of a kind of inner revolution taking place within the human being. At the same time, this outward revolution is causing us to ask more and more questions about the true nature of who we really are.

We feel ourselves to be more than a creature in constant war with our fellow human beings. We feel ourselves with something better to contribute to the world than the way it currently is. For we can feel that the way it currently is is a world which is inherently hostile to the true nature of the human being.

And where we see people currently attempting to reshape society, we see something of that which lives behind this feeling uniting with that which is the same within others. And yet, in order to avoid continued violence, we must also have the courage to get behind these feelings and make such impulses conscious. If this does not happen, the world will continue to be rocked with violent social explosions, sparked by the match of our own misunderstood feelings.

What we must truly come to understand is the connection between ourselves and the kind of social life that is seeking to emerge through us. And if we really observe the current social situation around the world we can see that the existing system is a system and a paradigm that is withering, that seeks death.

In particular the global economic and political systems are severely in decline. Because we have allowed economy and polity to set the global agendas for society as a whole, so society is also in decay. As an organism we could say that it has already passed the point of its own death. We keep it alive, as it were, on structural and societal breathing apparatuses. We huddle around it as we might huddle around a person kept alive in a hospital, though we know they are in truth not really there. Through this society-paradigm we have created machines that allow us to freeze human beings – before or after life (or, indeed, during) – and now we use these same ‘machines’ upon society itself.

Why would Egypt, or any country for that matter, seek to take on a system-paradigm that has proven itself incompatible with the human being? Why wouldn’t America – the country that has been the flag bearer for democracy and new economy – itself realise that the way it has been operating at home and around the world is no longer appropriate for the world or the human being today?[1] Why do we continue to prop up structures that have, essentially died?

We have so permeated the world with systems arising out of these paradigms (essentially Social Darwinism), and out of the corresponding picture of the human being, that we fear what may happen if we were to let them die. For in letting them die, we feel it may well be that we will die along with them. We fear our own death, for we have no clear idea of what lives on the other side of it. And this fear is paralysing.

On the global level, as the recent ‘bailouts’ in Greece reveal, it appears we are afraid to act, other than to re-enforce that which we already know. But what is being asked for today is that we come to an experience of that which we do not yet know. In order to do this we cannot re-insert more habits or old ways of thinking into the world nor our own selves. In order for this  to happen, we must be prepared to make a space in ourselves for this same ‘not yet’ – for the future. This future – the future world that longs to be – will only come into being in and through us.

But this can only happen if we are prepared to let something in ourselves die. What is this something? Nothing other than that part of ourselves that we associate with who we are, but that in truth is not us; everything we have built up as a kind of identity of who we think we are, but that is in reality only of this same decaying social structure, and that will pass away with this structure as it too passes away.

Everything that is connected to our own lower selves – to that part of us which proves Darwinism and Social Darwinism to be true – is, in fact, needing to die into our higher selves, as a plant often needs to die in order that its true reality may live on in the seeds of the new plant. This new plant has, in a way, lived within the old for some time as potential from the future.

We cannot overlay tired, worn-out structures onto countries nor the world as a whole. It will ultimately be rejected, though with the tragedy of more unnecessary violence. The only social structures appropriate for our time are the ones that are born, seed-like within human beings, when human beings allow enough death to take place within themselves in order for new life and the true future to emerge.

In the initiation traditions of old, the human being would undergo a kind of ceremony of death in order that they could be reborn into the spiritual realities of the world. The whole initiation community carried this process. It was treated as if the previous person had died and a new person had been born out of the old.

Now, everything has become an initiation waiting to happen. In order to have any true knowledge about anything, we must be prepared to let what we think we already know about it (and that part of ourselves connected to that knowledge) die. This extends now all the way to the social structures of the world as a whole, and how they impact upon our individual tasks.

Our individual tasks have become connected to the global paradigm. It cannot be avoided. Global economic and political structures affect the way I live. The dragon is everywhere. So too must my creative deed carry something of a world-response within it.

The initiation communities of old are, generally speaking, no more. Today we must form these communities ourselves, though they will look far different than they once did. The true initiation ceremony of today takes place in any encounter between human beings. In any moment, in order for something new and creative to be born, we must have the courage to let something of ourselves die. And that something is that which we think we know of one other.

The other person is not only comprised of their past and present, but also their future – their ‘not yet.’ In making a real space within ourselves for the future of the other, we enable them to be creative out of their own highest potential. Not only that, but in such moments – in the other – we are able to locate our own highest possibilities.

Such moments are initiation, or perhaps resurrection moments, in which it is possible to experience something of our future selves – the true selves of one another as human beings. Such moments are moments in which we are able to experience not the part of ourselves tied to the past – not that part of ourselves that links us to the animals and to concepts of Darwinism and Social Darwinism – but to a part of ourselves that will not pass away when we die. Such experiences link us to that part of ourselves that contains the life of a new seed waiting to slowly grow in the soil we make for it – as we tend it again and again. Such experiences allow us to get beyond the fear that lives in and arises out of the gap we sense between death and new life. Such experiences create a bridge across this gap; such experiences are this bridge.

To the extent that we are able to foster such activity through our own free will, we put ourselves voluntarily in service of all that constitutes the spiritual part of who we are and of the world as a whole. We ourselves are able to create the conditions of what was once handed down by others in initiation wisdom. We can become free beings in service of the world becoming.

If we are able to create, with and for one another, such social spaces of free and true spiritual insight into the realities of the world, then do we stand a chance of being able to overcome the inherent fear that lives within the possibility of death. In ‘dying before we die,’ we are able already to put ourselves in service of new life. We will find there a space for new thoughts, new insights, new possibility, new creativity and, ultimately, true social thinking. For we will have come then not to an alternate social paradigm to place alongside (or as an appendix to) the old, but to the place from which all paradigms spring. In so doing we can come into a social space where it is possible for us to perceive the forms that the social organism itself is asking for in order that it may be possible to find a place within it for the true nature of the human being – in so doing, we will have actually already co-created a seed of this new form; this new life.

Such activity is not re-activity – it is, rather, true creativity. It is the antidote to both austerity (social ‘freezing’) and revolutionary violence (social re-actionary ‘burning-up’). It stands in the balance. It is itself this balance. It is the powerful creative gesture in defiance of the ‘bailout’ – it is the diving in, the diving through.

To be active out of true insight into reality in the shared spaces we make for one another as human beings is to be truly social, truly creative and, at the same time, truly individual. Unlike the bee, the human being of today can only be truly social if he or she is truly individual. And yet, paradoxically, we can only truly find this individuality in mutual co-working with other individuals in community. For true health, each community must bring out the best in all individuals, and in each individual the community as a whole must be alive. Only in this way will we create healthy, human, social hives appropriate for our time.

This is a spiritual-cultural deed. Long since sidelined from the world situation through economic and political activity, but also, tragically, its own irrelevance, culture must once again be fuelled with the reality of new life. It must not let itself be carried away to some other place in order to make its home. It must make a home of this place. Cultural life must find the freedom it needs in order to let such new life flow into the world through the human being. Everything depends on this.[2]

A great courage is needed to again and again cross the abyss that lies on the other side of death – be it our own or the world’s. Courage can keep such fear at bay, but also lay down its sword so that we may cross upon it into the new life that waits for us in order to be truly creative in collaboration with the world that seeks to be. We have responsibilities for each other in this direction.

If civilisation is not to explode in too much revolutionary heat, nor freeze in the cold-room of the cryogenic life-preserving structures that it itself has created for its own continuity, it must be prepared to burn as the candle does – as a self-sacrificial activity that sheds light and warmth for all others on this path. We ourselves are such candles.

Revolution is currently taking place against the mostly-unconscious story-mythology of Darwinism and its social consequences. The old stories are half-truths and no longer appropriate. This must become conscious. The human being must now take centre stage. New story-mythologies must now take place out of current resurrection possibilities. Resurrection story-mythology must itself be reborn and recreated anew between human beings.[3] If we are able to truly find one another as human beings (and not as mere Darwinian animals), then will we find new life; then, in such moments, we will co-author an always-new resurrection story in the space that lives between each of us, and in all that flows out of such creative, spiritual fields for the resurrection not only of ourselves and one another, but of the earth as a whole.

***

The current global economic and social paradigm is one of competition only because at one point we agreed (consciously or otherwise) that it should be so. Therefore, our capacity to agree prefigures anything we may actually agree upon, including the notion that we are competitive beings. That is, the social paradigm that states we are competitive beings is itself only made possible because we are able to agree – to collaborate – to work together. This fact alone undercuts the paradigm of Social Darwinism. At any moment we can choose to make new and conscious agreements out of our deeply collaborative nature.

 

John Stubley


[1] The Occupy movement represents part of the first outcry in this direction, though there remains little recognition on the level of those who hold structural power.

[2] We can see instances in the world that suggest this activity is taking place, however consciously, in communities of various sizes; namely, in the work of Civil Society. But it must grow to full consciousness and clarity of thought in order to be appropriate for today. And it must now grow rapidly in size and in number.

[3] As the article as a whole (and the experience itself) makes clear, this can happen regardless, of course, of any religious persuasion.

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Wall Street and Beyond: Occupying the World, Occupying Ourselves

Among and through the many voices currently attempting to be heard on Wall St and elsewhere around the world, we can feel as if something of the future is attempting to articulate itself – something of the future of both the human being and the world.

The question then becomes, What is it saying?

The ‘Occupy’ movement has grown rapidly since its first day in the financial district of New York on September 17. It has now spread to more than 150 cities in the United States, as well as to dozens of other cities around the world.

On any given day one can read and hear – on placards, interviews, articles, live streams, and so on – the numerous grievances that individuals and groups currently have with present social conditions. The response to these many difficulties has been: Occupy.

Signs have included: ‘Occupy Wall St,’ ‘Occupy Boston,’ ‘Occupy Together,’ ‘Occupy Your Own Heart,’ ‘Occupy Everything.’

In using such a picture-concept as a guiding principle and activity, the Occupy movement has also been engaged in a battle to reclaim and redeem (and, indeed, re-occupy) the very concept of occupation itself. In recent times, occupation has been connected to military activities, primarily conducted by America, in foreign countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq; it has been an expression of a foreign power occupying that which in reality it has no right to occupy.

Likewise, on a more individual level, the concept has been connected to our employment – our occupation. More and more this occupation has been something given to us from outside – from another kind of ‘foreign power’ (in this case, economic interests) – rather than something we have taken up out of ourselves. That which ‘occupies’ us and our time has more and more been given over to that which lies outside of our own selves.

The present Occupy movement represents a significant shift in this activity. What we are seeing take place on Wall St and beyond is a reclaiming of the concept of occupation for the human being.

No longer do those who connect themselves to this movement wish to hand over control of their own destinies to unseen ‘foreign powers.’ Rather, they seek to gain control over their own lives – to occupy their own selves – and to work with others in order to occupy society in such a way that it may be possible for the human being to exist in it once again.

For the very real experience we can have today is that society has become so ‘polluted’ that within it the human being is no longer able to breathe. The air of social life has become completely toxic. So much so, that within society today it is truly objective to say that it is no longer possible to find the human being, for there is no longer any room in it for humanity.

So what is the Occupy movement currently doing? None other than attempting to breathe. None other than attempting to detoxify the air, and through this to create the necessary space whereby it may become possible for human beings to once again find themselves, and one another, in social life.

At the same time, much has been said and not said in relation to ‘demands.’ Many have expressed that the movement needs to put forward clear and definite demands. Others have said that the very strength of the movement is dependent upon it having no demands whatsoever.

In looking at the actual situation, however, is it already possible to read in the ‘text’ of its activities something which the movement itself is already striving for? Is it possible to read already in that which has now been taking place for some time, a kind of set of demands?

Nothing will come from an overlaying of demands (from outside) onto the current situation (another kind of ‘foreign power’ occupation), other than a kind of ‘hardening’ or scleroticising of the movement, which is itself antipathetic to ‘movement.’ On the other hand, however, nothing will come from a lack of clear and conscious ideas (or pictures) of the kind of world we actually want to live in. Without such pictures the movement risks detaching itself from the earth and floating out, in too much movement, upon the hot-air currents of the world.

In reading the reality of the situation itself, however, we can begin to clearly see, within and inside the actual reality, that which the movement is itself asking for. The question simply becomes, Can we see this reality with the right kind of eyes and in the necessary light?

For the reality is that what the Occupy movement is doing is itself the demands that it is asking for. It is already asking for demands simply through the action it has already taken. But this must become conscious, and it must become clear.

The Occupy movement is not an economic movement, though it seeks to address economic problems – business is not behind the movement. Likewise, it is not a political movement, though it seeks to solve the many political problems in the world today – government is not behind the movement.

So what is it? It is none other than a coming together of NGO’s, not-for-profits, community organisations, people’s organisations, labour movements, and so on. In short, we can say that the facts of the matter reveal that this is a civil society movement. These organisations are not economic nor political in nature. They do not draw their power from economic nor from political life. They are, rather, cultural in nature. Their power stems from cultural activity. The sword they wield is fired in the furnace of the cultural sphere of social life.

Out of this sphere the individuals and groups connected to the Occupy movement are attempting to regain – to re-occupy – the cultural realm of society; a realm which, rather than being left free, has been completely strangled by economic and political interests. Education, the media, agriculture (and so on) are just some of the cultural institutions which have been almost completely over-run by economic and political interference.

The Occupy Movement seeks to re-occupy the cultural landscape of the world with its own free activity. It seeks to push back the toxic air of economic and political pollution from its own sphere and duties, while at the same time attempting to disentangle business from government – economic activity from political life.

As such, the Occupy movement is an expression of cultural power – a power that has the potential to pour into social life the necessary meaning, values and identity necessary in order to transform society as a whole, if only it can become conscious of its own activity and seize hold of the freedom necessary for it to do so. For it is clear that no longer will this freedom be given to it by political or economic life. The Occupy movement, and civil society collectively, is taking hold of this freedom itself, for the good of the human being and of society as a whole.

Out of this cultural wellspring, political life can also become transformed. Rather than the inequalities of cultural violations and puppetry (by economic interests) we currently observe taking place in political life, government can begin to pick up its rightful task: To ensure the equality of all human beings, not only in the carrying out of laws, but also in their creation. Many organisations are currently attempting to help government to recognise this task, including the direct democracy movement. Again, such organisations are not political in nature; they are civil society – cultural – organisations active in the transformation of political life.

The same holds true with civil society organisations who are actively engaged in the transformation of economic life. Their battle ground may be found in the economic landscape, but the source of their power flows from the ever-renewing wellspring of cultural life. In so doing, such organisations are engaged in a deeply redemptive process: The transformation of economic life from its current shadowy activity of competition, to its actual task: To work co-operatively (producers, distributors and consumers) to ensure that the real needs of all human beings are met.

From the shadows of competition, inequality and subjugation (unfreedom) that we currently experience throughout social life, civil society is attempting to make a space for the true lights of economy, polity and culture to shine (autonomously yet interdependently) into society as a whole: Freedom for cultural life, equality in political life, co-operation in economic life.

The Occupy movement is already engaged in this activity. In occupying the landscape previously over-run by polity and economy, this movement is staking out a claim for cultural life. It is re-claiming the ground it has lost and adding its voice to the already powerful voices of business and government. For even though business and government are incredibly powerful at present, so too is civil society, because the place that it draws its power from – culture – has the potential to recreate the world. Culture is the place from which new civilisations are born – in this case, one that is worthy of the human being.

Nowhere is this personal-social transformation more aptly expressed, perhaps, than in the Native American initiation story of ‘Jumping Mouse.’ In ‘Jumping Mouse,’ a young mouse begins to hear a roaring in his ears that he can longer ignore. Even though his other mice friends cannot hear it, he sets off in search of the source of this roaring, and soon finds ‘The River.’ Here he is given his medicine, and spies for the first time, while jumping, the Sacred Mountains. He is then given his new name of Jumping Mouse.

And so he sets out across the prairies, watchful of the circling eagles above, while having to free himself of the old mouse who knows of the river but who insists that the Sacred Mountains are just a myth. In avoiding the circling eagles high above, Jumping Mouse comes to a wounded buffalo who is sick and dying. He knows that the only way to save the buffalo is to give him one of his eyes. And so he does. Instantly the buffalo becomes healthy again and travels with the mouse, sheltering him from the eagles, all the way to the edge of the Sacred Mountains.

Here, the now one-eyed mouse finds a wolf who has become forgetful. ‘Wolf, wolf, that’s who I am,’ he says, then forgets himself, before again saying ‘wolf, wolf…’ Jumping Mouse, after listening to the beating of his own heart, again realises he must give him an eye, knowing now that he will become blind and completely at the mercy of the eagles above. He does so and the wolf immediately regains his memory, guiding the now-blind mouse into the mountains. The wolf, returning to help others, leaves the mouse at a large lake where the whole world is reflected – the people, the lodges of the people and all the rest of the world. The  mouse knows now that an eagle will take him soon, so he prepares himself for the inevitable strike. And then…it hits.

Moments later, he wakes, opening his eyes as his vision gradually clears. All below him he can see the mountains and the prairies. He has been given new medicine power. And he has been given a new name. It is…Eagle. (Read the full story here.)

This is not only the story of each one of us, it is also the story of the Occupy movement, and of civil society as a whole. We are each one of us in a process of sacrificing our mouse-like way of experiencing and seeing the world, in order that we may find our own highest potential – our becoming, our future. Likewise, civil society is also in the process of becoming – of growing into its own potential. The Occupy movement has heard the roaring for some time, and is also aware of the wounded buffalo and the forgetful wolf of economic and political activity.

The question now is whether or not it is able to own its own story and thereby rise to the sacrificial and redemptive tasks of healing both the economy and polity (as well as society as a whole), finding therein its path to its own medicine, to its own becoming – to its own highest potential.

In the great stories of humanity, only when the hero has owned his or her own story are they able to finish their quests. Gilgamesh writes his own story on the clay tablets of the walls of Uruk, Babylon. Odysseus hears his own story told back to him on the island of the Phaeacians, then, owning it, is able to return to his beloved Ithaca. Parzival, on hearing and owning his own story told to him by Trevrizent is finally able to locate again the Grail castle, ask the all-redeeming question, ‘What ails thee?’ (‘How can I help you?’) and take up his rightful place as Grail king. There are many more examples.[1]

We are each one of us engaged in such a quest. We are each one of us engaged in a process of allowing the eagle of our own highest potential – our own becoming – to occupy us here and now. For this is no foreign occupation, but an occupation of ourselves by our True selves – a Self-occupation by us of what it means to be both truly individual and truly human. It is the occupation of ourselves by the becoming Eagle in each one of us.

Of the same substance is the future of society as a whole made. The Occupy movement is an attempt to make a space for the very real becoming – for the realisation – of a society in which it is possible to find the human being – a society that is worthy of the human being. A truly civil and civilised society in which the future human being can exist as co-creator with the future of the world. For this is an occupation in which there is no foreign power, only the creative and, indeed, spiritual power of the free human being shining its light into, and finding itself in service of, the becoming of the world.

In such a way as this shall we occupy the world and our own selves. In such a way as this shall we occupy the future, and be freely occupied by it.

John Stubley

Article originally published on Occupy the Future (occupythefuture.org), October 6, 2011.


[1] See Horst Kornberger, The Power of Stories. Edinburgh: Floris Press, 2008.

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Between a Burning London and a Frozen Society: Time to Build a Human World

Throughout London and the rest of England we have witnessed, in recent days, widespread riots, violence and looting. The 2012 Olympic city, and many other cities around the country, have been on fire.

The rioting was initially sparked by the fatal shooting of a man by police. The rapidity with which the violence spread is proof enough, however, that unrest in Britain has been bubbling below the surface for some time.

If we are not to fall either into fear or reactionary, revolutionary tendencies ourselves, however, we need to be able to see the situation clearly and in its full context.

And if we are able to look at it in such a light we will observe the way in which violent social unrest sits at the opposite extreme to violent social structures.

The primarily young men who are currently engaged in these acts of lawlessness are speaking something in their actions. And what they are speaking is uttered in a language born from the experience of extreme social subjugation, inequality and competition.

This does not condone their actions, of course. Yet, if we are even to attempt to come closer to a society which could be called healthy, we need to have the courage to view the situation in its totality, including underlying systemic problems.

And what we can observe, without even digging too far, is that all previous speaking out of and about an unhealthy social order has fallen on deaf ears. The voices of those affected – and that is, ultimately, all human beings – has not been heard.

From protests against Britain’s massive cuts to social services and the public sector, as well as increased fees for university education, to the obvious collusion between politicians, police and the media currently under investigation as part of the Murdoch news group scandal, there has been no shortage of outcry.

People have raised their voices and yet nothing has significantly changed, increasing a feeling of complete powerlessness. So some turn to violence in order, consciously or otherwise, to be heard – and they will be heard, though the deeper message of their speaking will be lost.

For, essentially, what is being voiced during these days and through protests over recent months, albeit in different ways, is the speaking out of people against a social system in which it is no longer possible to find the human being.

Much has been enacted across the globe in recent months and years in the name of ‘austerity.’ This is an interesting word. Essentially, it means strict or severe. In the past it has been connected more to the moral sphere – to cultural and spiritual life – which then in turn affects the rest of our actions and the rest of society. Now the word finds a home in economic activity and moves, in a way, in the opposite direction, affecting, ultimately, our moral, cultural and spiritual development.

Austerity comes as a kind of ultimate and fatal Trojan Horse in the battle playing itself out in social life. For what we are finding within its husk are the hidden armies of ongoing and extreme wealth redistribution – a redistribution from the many to the handful. In the name of austerity we are witnessing, around the world, capital continuing to flow into the hands of a smaller and smaller number of elite individuals.[1]

This, of course, is relatively obvious on the global level, but it requires a little more work to acknowledge it also in places such as the USA and Britain. Economic austerity is a kind of final straw for the many individuals who have suffered under the weight of an already unhealthy and violent social structure.

And yet, what is needed is not that we arm ourselves with weapons, but with the right kind of pictures for the creation of a social organism worthy of the human being.

There have been interesting scenes in the London area of Clapham following the rioting. Residents have come together with brooms and plastic bags in order to clean up the trail of destruction caused by the violence. This is reminiscent of some of the moving scenes following recent natural disasters in New Zealand, Japan and elsewhere. In such deeds we see human beings coming together in communities in order to help one another in creative ways. The Mayor of London thanked them for their work and said that this was the real stuff that London was made of.[2]

While yes, this may be what London is made of, it – like the rest of the country, like the rest of the world – is also made of much more. We must have the courage to be honest at such times – we must strive to face the whole situation. And if we do so, we will see the need to not only come together to sweep and clean the streets following the riots, but to also completely clean up the social structures which have created such unliveable conditions for the human being around the world.

What we are seeing taking place in England – the birthplace of the industrial revolution – and around the world, is essentially the culmination of a social structure that has, for decades, increasingly put itself in service of economic activity. Modern economic life arose with great force from centres like England and the USA, and instead of being carried benevolently and associatively around the world, has ultimately carried its darker side of extreme competition in the form of elite globalisation.

This kind of one-sided economic activity has become a kind of mechanical beast – a kind of steel dragon which has been devouring both other realms of social life – polity and culture – and with them, the human being. This dragon has now spread its wings beyond national boundaries – for it is economic in essence, and knows no national borders – turning the world cold and frozen as it blots out the sun. We are living in the shadow of such activity every day. Social life has been frozen and devoured, and the human being with it. Many individuals and places around the world have felt its effects for many years, and now it has returned to its birthplaces of the USA and the UK – has returned, in a way, to its lairs, with its plundered treasures hidden in the bank accounts of a rare few. (Ultimately, however, whoever it may apparently seem to benefit, the dragon itself will be left as the only true victor.)

Governments around the world have, to varying degrees, put themselves in service of such one-sided economic activity. Rather than following a guiding star of equality – not only equality before the law, but also equality in the creation of laws – an ongoing and systemic practice of inequality has instead been practiced by most governments. This is a kind of democracy which has yet to find its own potential.

Yet, the finding of any potential, for the individual or society as a whole, can only be found through an enlivened and free cultural life. However, cultural life is, at the same time, being strangled by numerous hands. Excessive government regulation is one hand – the over regulation of education, for example. Another is austerity, whether implemented by government or business. The other, finally and to a lesser extent, it suffers at its own hands – from its tragic disconnection from actual life – certain academic research is one such example.

Seen more clearly, then, social life as a whole also presents itself to the human being as a hideous caricature of its own potential – a strange, lopsided monster. It is a monster that is heavy and mechanical in its limbs, is unequal and distorted in its chest, and is dry, strangled and starved in its head. It is a monster, sadly, created by the human being in a misguided understanding of what it actually means to be human. We have created society in our own likeness, misguidedly, and now it is devouring us.

Yet the human being is so much more than this – so much more than a material, mechanical being. The real question that therefore comes knocking on our door – nay, burning our doors and even houses down – at this period in world evolution is, Do we have the courage necessary to see not only the current social situation in the right light, but also ourselves?

The sweeping and cleaning must not end at the street – it must extend to the social structures we have created, but it must also, simultaneously, take place within the human being. We must find all the necessary courage to clean from ourselves the kind of unhealthy thinking, feeling and willing that result in the social disease and unrest that now confronts us from without.

We must find the strength to create a social system worthy of the true nature of the human being while, at the same time, consciously bringing this true nature more and more to realisation. Only freedom – not choking subjugation, nor the moral austerity of yesteryear – only freedom is appropriate for spiritual and cultural life today. Freedom from government and economic control. Freedom in the spiritualised thinking activity necessary to see the world as it is – both its material manifestation and its inner, guiding, impulses – and then placing such observations in service of actual social life. This includes the necessary renewal of political and economic activity.

Government, in such a way, can take up its true democratic task, shrinking in its current activities, yet rising to its true task of ensuring equality for all in the life of rights. Economics, far from devouring the rest of social life and the human being in extreme Social Darwinism, now picks up its actual and economically lawful task of working associatively – producers, consumers and distributors working together – in order to meet real human needs. Profits not needed for the further growth of such activity can then be made available as necessary gift money to cultural life for it to do with it as it sees fit, with government regulating and assisting in this flow.

Here we have the foundation for a new form of governance worthy of the lawful tasks of each realm of social life, as well as the human being. No longer governance by government alone (with economy pulling all the puppet strings), but a threefold governance with business representing an associative economic life, government representing an equal political life, and civil society representing a free spiritual-cultural life. Three autonomous yet interdependent realms separated and brought together in the right way – similar to the autonomous yet interdependent working of systems within a healthy human organism.

In such a way as this will we shape a social life which no longer appears before the human being in a hideous and lopsided manner ready to devour it (as Frankenstein was devoured), but in a way that takes on the proportions of the true human being. A free thinking activity able to see reality in its wholeness – thinking imbued with impulses flowing from objective spiritual life – enlivening and flowing through the whole organism. A balanced and equal feeling life able to connect with other human beings in a rhythmical way for the formation of agreements necessary for life on earth. And an associative willing life that works together with other human beings to meet genuine needs.

We do not have to invent anything new. Nothing here strives for the abstract or the impossible. All we need lies ready at hand. Business, government and civil society are already in existence, as are our own thinking, feeling and willing. All we need do is have the courage to recognise everything’s objectively lawful task within the larger organism out of its essential, spiritual character, and then transform it accordingly. Business must stand up for an associative economic life, government for an equal rights life, and civil society must recognise its cultural power and stand up for its own free and relevant spiritual, cultural force.

Every human being – and what takes place between human beings – becomes the site, thereby of new civilisation. We make of ourselves creators of the world which seeks to be, in us, and we make of the world a home necessary for the further development of the human being. We thereby overcome the cold and freezing forces of structural violence on the one side, and the burning, violent forces of reactionary revolution on the other. We create, instead, through health and through warmth, a middle ground of truly human activity for a truly human world. We create the civilisation that is longing to be, with the human being in us who is longing to create it.

We cannot wait for the rest of the world to be engulfed by flames before we act. The materials are at hand. The plans are laid already in the world and in each one of us. We must step into the free and creative spiritual human beings we already are and are destined to become, offering our capacities and gifts to the world according to our individual tasks, in whatever field of social life we find ourselves. We must overcome this social freeze and join together, not in a way in which our individualities are lost (reactionary violence), but in a such a way that we are able to support the full unfolding of one another’s unique capacities and gifts. We shall then find ourselves within communities of individuals who strive to help one other to become free, simultaneously building a social organism that will support our own and the world’s necessary becoming.

John Stubley

Published August 11-12 on Sri Lanka Guardian, Information Clearing House,
Care2, Ephemeris 360Global Peace & Justice Auckland,
World-News Independent Media


[1] “Last year alone, the combined fortunes of the 1000 richest people in Britain rose 30 per cent to £333.5 billion” (Mary Ridell: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/no-jobs-no-future–a-human-catastrophe-waiting-to-happen-20110809-1iku9.html#ixzz1UbVHtBOu). While, as a guide, in the USA, for example, in 2007 the top 1% of all income earners made 23.5% of all income, which is more than the entire bottom 50% of earners (see: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o meter/statements/2010/dec/10/bernie-s/bernie-sanders-viral-speech-says-top-1-percent-ear/)

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And the Stars Amongst our Human Lights

I recently returned to my home in Australia. On the flight from Singapore I looked out the window somewhere above the Western Australian coast. It was a dark night – no moon. Below were the scattered lights of the Pilbara – station (ranch) country. Desert. The land was completely black, broken only by a solitary light here or there. Somewhere further west I knew the land gave way to ocean, and from there spread up to sky. And in the sky were the shining lights of familiar stars, including the Southern Cross.

All of this – earth, ocean, sky – was not separated this night the way it usually is. No coast, no horizon. Without the reflecting moon it was all so dark that it looked like one scene, one canvas, one stage. The sky and the stars moved amongst the ocean and land, and the land and its lights moved freely amongst the stars. All was dark, with star and human light interweaving.

***

With so many cultural and natural upheavals taking place in the world at present – with so many phenomena forcing us back upon ourselves – and with so many ‘transition’ experiences existing for individuals and groups, we are confronted with numerous questions. Change is all around us, and all within us. From the most macro to the most micro situations, something is being asked of us. We can feel – like many people of the Arab world, for instance – that existing social conditions are no longer appropriate for the full reality of the human being today. Such conditions are of the past and are asking for transformation. Likewise, when faced with such out-of-date social structures, and with numerous natural disasters, we can also have a feeling that something within ourselves is asking for similar transformation. We can have the feeling: No longer can we experience the world with the same consciousness as we have previously been doing; that in order to overcome such natural and social crises, something of ourselves must also develop.

Such feelings as these – that something is not right in the world and in our own selves; that the world has become something hostile to the essential nature of the human being; that the essential nature of the human being does not find itself rightly in the world – can lead to all sorts of consequences. Change must come, we may rightly feel, but it must also come in the right way. If we do not bring these feelings to the full light of consciousness by permeating them with thoroughly worked-through thoughts, then our actions can take on revolutionary, re-actionary or event violent tendencies.

One test of such a situation may be to ask ourselves: What is it we are actually fighting for?

To our feelings we must also add clear thoughts. To our noble, and often beautiful, feelings we hold for change we must also add truth. If we do so we will move from being revolutionary to being evolutionary, for we will be able to act not simply in reactionary ways, but in ways which are in accordance with the reality of the change being asked for in the world today. The transformation of the world is of course necessary, but it must be in accordance with what the world itself is needing to become. In order to act in such a way, our thinking must align with what the world itself is asking for in us. In our thinking our own becoming must align with the stream of world becoming. If I make a space for the becoming of the world in my own thinking activity, then something of the transformed world-picture can begin to speak itself in me. I then can act in accordance with my own highest potential, and in accordance with the highest possibilities of the world. I make of myself a free instrument in service of world possibilities. I transform the world not according to what I think it should be, but in accordance with how it thinks itself in me.

Such is the reality of what is confronting us in every micro, meso and macro natural and cultural difficulty in the world today. In a way, we have attracted these difficulties to ourselves in order that we can overcome all that holds us back from our own – and the world’s – lawful becoming.

The only truly transformative-evolutionary force in the world and the human being is the poetic – is the non-material, the creative – the spirit. In adding to our feeling for social change all that stems from poeticised and spiritualised thinking activity we are changing ourselves in accordance with that which the world itself is asking for. Out of this we can develop the necessary pictures for our very real next steps – and they will be lawful next steps because they contain within them the only truly transformative agent in the world. Evolution thereby steps itself out in us. We are stepped. We are evolved. The world becomes, in and through us. We are becomed. We are poeticised. We are en-spirited. We are spoken by the true speaking of the cosmos. We are Worded.

Through such activity we birth freedom in the cosmos. In overcoming our separation between I and all that is not-I (including our own bodies) we, through love, bring freedom into the cosmos. We awaken, as fully creative human beings, in a field of true freedom and of love. It guides us on, bridging the gap, and we become carers for the newborn part of ourselves that holds this as a reality in and for the world. We become with the world.

Through such activity as this we can awaken experientially within the field of true, beautiful and good next steps for the human being and the world. Every natural and cultural, world and personal disaster calls us more fully to this task. For within every disaster lives our own poetic self – with the poetic world – calling us on. Through such activity we can, without theory but in reality, develop the eyes necessary to see what it is we are in fact fighting for.

And so what is it that we can see? What is it that we are actually fighting for? We fight for the human being. We fight for the future of the world and of the human being.

We fight to create social structures worthy of the human being: body, soul and spirit. We fight to create a social world in which we can find the full reality of the human being – in which we can truly find ourselves. We thereby create the opportunity for others to develop themselves in accordance with their own becoming – with who they truly are. One feeds the other. We, in developing ourselves through the poetic light of clear thinking, feeling and willing, can awaken in the world waiting to be made. In making it we make a space for the future development of the human being.

The boundary between I and not-I, between self and world is hereby overcome. The subjective-objective duality is resolved – not theoretically, but experientially-perceptually. In and through the human being the world is seen and made anew. True and poetic science and art, through true religious experience. The human being stands in the centre of everything. Personal and world becoming overlap, without losing the differentiation of either. We stand as free and individual beings in service of the Gods, whose religion is the human being. The horizon line dissolves, and we find ourselves amongst the stars, and the stars amongst our human lights. The Earth mingles with the heavens, and heaven steps down upon the earth.

The human being becomes, and the world with it.

***

Only a social organism that makes a space for truly poetic thinking activity of the human being is appropriate for our time. This must be a free field. All spiritual-cultural activity must be free. Schools, media, academia, civil society as a whole. Freedom must reign here. Teachers must be able to design their own curriculum, for example. No subjugation to economic or political interests. Freedom must be the guiding star in all spiritual-cultural activity.

Only a social organism that recognises each human being’s right to this kind of spiritual-cultural activity, and also to having their needs met – only a social organism of this kind is appropriate for the human being of today. Equality for all human beings regardless of their social situation or standing. Equality for all human beings in the creation and carrying out of laws and agreements. No interference from economic interests. Equality must be the guiding star in all political and legal life.

Only a social organism that strives to work together economically in order that the needs of all human beings can be met – only a social organism of this kind is worthy of the human being today. Economic solidarity to meet real human needs. Not competition for personal gain. No economic interference in other realms. Solidarity to meet human needs, and to finance, through profits transformed into gift money, the further development of spiritual-cultural activity. Solidarity as the guiding star of economic activity.

The untangling of the existing shadowy threads of culture, polity and economy. The bringing of them back together again, in the right way. Civil society recognising its task as the torchbearer of cultural life. Government as having only a political function. Business representing only economic activity. All organised and arranged so that ever-new and life-giving impulses can flow into society in the same way as they flow into the human being through the separation of shadowy and entangled thinking, feeling and willing activity, and of the bringing of them back together again in the right way – where the human being is thereby able to awaken in the field of their own and the world’s becoming, receiving further impulses, from this field of freedom, for future work and further poetic transformation.

Such social organisation as this is poetic. All poetry needs to be individualised by the poet, as much as each place needs to individualise the poetic social organism.

Through conditions such as this shall we find the human being within society. Through social conditions such as this shall we create a world worthy of the human being, and in so doing create an opportunity for the human being to fulfil its evolutionary task in the course of world becoming.

John Stubley

Published May, 2011 on youthsection.org

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The Earth is Shifting Beneath our Feet

In trying to comprehend some of the recent natural and social upheavals taking place in the world, we can find ourselves entering into a realm of uncertainty. Earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, cyclones, fire. Social revolutions unfolding in country after country.

On the one hand it is tempting to look at each event as an isolated occurrence and attempt to understand it as something that stands on its own. On the other hand it is tempting to somehow lump all these events together and pronounce the ‘end of days.’ Both of these viewpoints approach reality from a certain perspective. But we must have the courage to walk a path between these two extremes and see if we can discover there any kind of truth.

Observing the situation at hand solely with our intellects can leave us doubt-filled about our own understandings. Observing solely with our emotions can take us into a realm of illusion. The question is whether or not we can objectively perceive all that is taking place around us – and within us – with the faculties available to the whole human being.

We have been witnessing the ground shift beneath our feet. The recent earthquake near Japan is one of the largest in recorded history, and comes soon after earthquakes in New Zealand and elsewhere. Tsunamis have followed, and bring back memories of the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004. In the country of my birth – Australia – there have been, in recent months, wide-spread flooding, cyclones and fires. Australia, of course, has not been the only country to experience such activity.

All of these natural events have had very real impacts on the lives of human beings. Many people have died, and others suffered terrible loss. The question of the relationship of nature to the human being has been brought more and more to the forefront of our consciousness through these events. Yet, there are more questions awaiting us in this direction.

In social life, we have been witnessing revolutions taking place across the Arab world. We have also seen social unrest and protest in many states of America. Numerous other protests and expressions of social discontent have been unfolding around the globe. Very real instances of human un-freedom and social inequality have all been brought into question and directly challenged.

Speaking pictorially, we could say that a kind of social earthquake has been taking place across the world. The social structures which have existed beneath our feet are being brought into question. No longer are human beings content with the social common-ground that has existed, routine-like, for the last decades. The social earth is shifting. And we can ask, What is it that is seeking to arise?

Social life is brought about through the activity of human beings. The human being stands in the centre of all social activity. We can also ask, therefore, What is it that is seeking to emerge within the human being?

As we have already touched on, there are many commonly-used cultural expressions and phrases that employ pictures of natural events in order to describe social conditions. ‘It is like an earthquake.’ ‘The ground is shifting.’ ‘We are completely flooded.’ ‘We were completely blown away.’ ‘The world is on fire.’ And so on – there are many others.

It is important to observe that social pictures such as these are now taking place at the same time as physical events. Natural and social ‘earthquakes’ are unfolding together. Both the social imagination and the natural event are occurring simultaneously.

And so we may ask, How does this relate to the human being? How and where does the human being stand in relation to both natural and cultural events?

In reality, the ground beneath the feet of the human being has also been shifting. It cannot be otherwise. No social change would be necessary if this were not so. We find, in truth, everything that is taking place within the outer natural and social world also unfolding within the human being.

‘I have lost the ground beneath my feet.’ ‘I am completely inundated / flooded.’ ‘I feel completely blown over.’ ‘I am fired up.’ The natural and social ‘climate’ of the human being is changing. We are not immune or separate from all that is taking place around us in natural or social conditions. On the contrary, we find ourselves, truly speaking, right in the middle of it.

The question then becomes, What is seeking to unfold within the human being, as well as in the world around us, and how can we help this process unfold in healthy ways?

If we have lost the ground beneath our feet – if we have lost such firm support and foundation – we must seek such ground elsewhere. We cannot find such a foundation in the past, for the ground there has been torn up – has been completely thrown into chaos. Nor can we find such support solely in the present, for the ground there is continually shifting. In truth, we can only find solid ground – can only find new foundations for ourselves – in the future; in our own becoming. Only in our own becoming – the person we are ‘not yet’ – the person we are growing into – our own highest potential – only here can we find the sure ground that we need in order to withstand all that is taking place within the human being today, and all that is taking place around us.

It is the same, thereby, with social life. We cannot turn back. When the ground shifts, as it did during the recent financial crisis, we cannot – or should not – re-build the same structures on the ever-shifting ground of the past and expect that a different outcome will unfold. A different outcome will not unfold. We must build, instead, our foundations out of the future – out of the becoming social situation – out of the highest potential of the social organism. We must rebuild the social organism upon the foundations of its highest potential in the same way as we must build our own foundations upon the ground of our own becoming.

Only this will suffice. For, in reality, that which is causing the social and human earthquakes – that which is seeking to arise, volcano-like from the rubble – is nothing other than our own and society’s highest potentials – the ideal becoming of both the human organism and the social organism, which are seeking to be.

We ourselves – our own future possibilities – are causing the disturbances in our own inner lives, as much as the archetypal social organism is causing the disturbances in outer social life. This is happening because things are currently so desperately out-of-line with what they could potentially be. Only by building human and social foundations on that which is seeking to be in us and in the world will we be working in healthy ways with the highest potential of the human being and the world.

And yet this is no easy task, precisely because we must cross the ground that has fallen away – the abyss that lies between our past and our highest future possibilities. This takes great courage. This takes the whole human being. Our highest future selves (and all that is able to work through them) are the very bridges we are looking for in order to cross and become. The activity becomes, and becomes the goal. We can and must grow conscious of this process.

In this way will we move from violent and destructive experiences to activity that works in a conscious and healthy way with that which is seeking to emerge in the world through us. No longer will we falter under shifting social and human earthquakes – we will find and build new ground in the ideal future of both the human and social organisms, for in truth we find the one in the other. No longer will we be formed by destructive flooding in ourselves and in social life – we can work consciously with the creative forming forces of life in ourselves and in society. No longer will we or society be blown about randomly – we will breathe the air of highest possibilities. No longer will fire be a destructive force in ourselves and in social affairs – we will instead burn in the fire and light of our own and the world’s highest becoming.

In this way can a new light enter into the human being and the world. In this way can we find the courage, strength and enthusiasm to overcome the abyss that separates us from our true common ground and our true ‘common wealth.’ In this way can we work practically, creatively and in true freedom with that which is seeking to express itself in the world and in ourselves.

We shall enter then a field of certainty and sure ground out of which we can work in very real ways towards the further progress of social life so that it supports the full unfolding of the capacities of the human being. We shall find ourselves, thereby, as true human beings with a true relationship to natural and social conditions in order to bring about the ideal development of ourselves, of one another, of social conditions and of the world as a whole.

John Stubley

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The Sphinx Can Guide Us: After the Revolution

Following the dramatic events we have seen unfold in Egypt’s ‘Freedom Square,’ and as we watch the rest of the Arab world (as well as Wisconsin, USA) stand up against dictators and centralized power structures, the question that now hovers in the atmosphere of the Earth is, ‘What now?’

Approaching us on the back of this question, as if it were a rider upon a horse, is, ‘What pictures do we have for the kind of world we are actually fighting for?’

With Egypt in the centre of many people’s consciousness at present, we can perhaps turn our gaze to that which stood as such a significant imagination during the height of ancient Egypt – that is, the sphinx.

The sphinx approaches our consciousness of today as something of a riddle. A significant later expression of the sphinx (and therefore closer to our own time) has the head and face of a human, wings of an eagle, torso and forelegs of a lion, and backside of a bull. What could this mean?

If we attempt to enter into the imagination of the sphinx – especially into the eagle, the lion and the bull – we can begin to ask, ‘What are the qualities of these particular animals?’

If we observe the eagle we can see that, in spreading its broad wings, it lives high in the overarching sky, looking down onto the earth. It moves and sweeps freely in large circles on the updraft of air, able to strike down upon its prey at any moment, if it so chooses.

The expression we associate with the lion is that it is ‘king of the jungle’ – it regulates the equality of the whole of jungle life. It does not fly like the eagle, however. Culturally, the lion has recently played a central role in the films The Jungle King and The Chronicles of Narnia.

The bull is firmly connected to the earth. It eats huge quantities of grass before digesting it in its four stomachs and producing one of the most fertile substances in the world – manure. The female – the cow – also produces milk. The cow/bull is the great provider. It is strong, however, even wild if provoked. It cannot fly freely, nor can it be said to regulate activity in the same manner as the lion. Likewise, the lion and eagle could not be said to provide in the same way as the cow/bull.

Many many more observations could be made, of course. If they are made, we can begin to see and experience that what approaches us in the riddle of the sphinx is nothing other than a true imagination of the human being – it is us.

We see in the eagle a kind of archetypal or poetic expression of the activity of thinking. We see in the lion an ideal expression of the activity of feeling. And in the bull, we find an ideal expression of what it is to actually do something – of willing.

That which holds it all together – all our thinking, feeling and willing – in a balanced, harmonious way (where each aspect is clearly autonomous yet interdependent) is that which only each one of us can say ‘I’ to. That is, our I – our Selves – the head and face of the human. Thus, this sphinx is nothing other than each one of us imaginatively expressed.

So how can such a picture – and such an understanding of it – help us in our present time, particularly in connection to all that we are watching unfold in the Arab world?

If we observe all that is unfolding, we can clearly see that what is taking place is an uprising against an out-of-time Pharaoh-ism. No longer do people wish to be held down by a dictator of any kind. The dictators of today are not, however, cultural-spiritual leaders, as the Pharaohs had been, but are those, generally speaking, who have inserted themselves into positions of political (and/or economic) power. From there, of course, they are also able to dictate much of cultural and spiritual life, as well as economic activity.

The great problem with this situation is the fundamental urge of human beings today towards two things: freedom and equality. The human being of today – consciously or unconsciously – seeks to be free in all that he/she does in cultural and spiritual life, while at the same time striving to be equal in all matters of law and politics.

Any kind of dictatorship – and we have as many forms of dictatorships in the world today as we have countries – suppresses these fundamental realities, and will ultimately find itself in conflict with them, as we have seen. The question that still remains is, ‘And so, what now?’

In the Arab world we currently see many cultural organizations – what we can call civil society – standing up against the overarching power of government. Economic organizations – businesses – are, or will be in the future, also involved in this liberation of their field of activity from governmental control (whatever form that may look like).

We are seeing, in a way, a new expression of that which was striven towards but remained unfulfilled during the French Revolution all those years ago. That is, freedom, equality and fraternity/solidarity. Freedom in all cultural and spiritual life; equality before the law – equality in all matters of the rights life; and brotherhood/sisterhood/solidarity or association – working together rather than endless competition – in all matters of economics.

But what is it we see here taking place in social life across Egypt and the rest of the Arab world? It is nothing other than the expression of that which have so far observed in the imagination of the sphinx.

What we are seeing happen unfold – consciously or otherwise – is a revolution towards the sphinx in social life. It is a sphinx in which each aspect – culture, rights and economics – like the animals of the sphinx – is striving to find an autonomous yet interdependent working relationship with one another in order to form a whole and healthy social organism.

In the same way that the sphinx is a picture of a balanced, harmonious and ideally healthy human organism, so the sphinx is also an imagination of a harmonious and interdependent working together of autonomous aspects within a healthy social organism.

What these revolutions are therefore striving towards – and none of us are excluded from this, for we are all engaged not only in our own inner revolution, but also a revolution in the society in which we stand (the ‘I’ of the social sphinx) – what all these revolutions are striving for is nothing other than to find and locate ourselves – the human being – within the social organism as a whole.

We seek to create society in our own ideal image. And in changing society we seek to create conditions suited to the further development of ourselves and of one another.

We must sit up and pay attention, therefore, to what is unfolding in the Arab world. For we find ourselves there. And we find the tasks – the revolutions, both within ourselves and within social life – that we have thus far left unfinished.

John Stubley

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The New Pharaohs of Egypt and the World

We are witnessing unfold in Egypt an expression of the inner reality of the human being in our time. No longer does the human being of today wish to subjugate themselves to the rulership of another. No longer do we seek for Pharaohs, kings, queens, presidents, prime ministers etc. who stand in for our own highest potential. No – today, we ourselves are the kings and queens we are looking for – the new Pharaohs of Egypt and the world.

What we are watching every day unfold in Cairo’s Tahrir Square – Freedom / Liberation Square – is the human being of today battling for their own humanity. In striving for freedom, these individuals are striving to throw off all of the old chains of the past – all of that which in reality belongs to earlier times.

The Pharaoh of old was considered an incarnate divine being – a God in human form. From out of his mouth flowed the whole cultural and spiritual impulse for the greater society. The Pharaoh stood as the highest potential for the whole of the society – people looked to him in order to understand their own becoming, their own development.

In a way, this was appropriate for the civilization of Egypt and the world at that time. One felt one’s-self as part of a community. The sense of community ran through the veins and arteries of people of that time like blood. The community was one organism with a shared blood flowing through it. One could say that the Pharaoh was the ‘head’ of such an organism, such a community.

Since that time, the reality of the situation has changed, however. After the fall of the Egyptian civilization into decadence – as all civilizations eventually do – the individual human being began more and more to stand on their own two feet – and to think with their own ‘head.’ In time, the human being gradually began to grow more into an individuality – a community of one.

The social forms did not necessarily follow this reality, however. From the Caesars of Rome to the Pope of the Catholic Church; from the kings and queens of monarchies to the presidents and prime-ministers of nation states – in all of the social forms these rulers expressed we see something of an out-of-time Pharaoh-ism. The social structure does not take into account the reality that the human being no longer needs another ‘head’ to think for them – we are quite capable of doing it ourselves.

What we are seeing all around the world at present, and especially in Egypt in recent weeks, is the further articulation of the individual human being. Over the centuries, this individual human being has come more and more into their own, especially since the scientific revolution in which the world began to be studied and known as something truly separate from ourselves. During this revolution – the scientific revolution – our individual intellects truly began to blossom. We grew more fully our own ‘heads.’

From this period right up until our own time we have witnessed the human being gradually develop the capacities to do that which the Pharaoh had done for the community as a whole all those centuries ago. Each and every human being has gradually become the point at which cultural and intellectual/spiritual impulses can flow into society as a whole. Each human being, in reality, has become a free entry point for impulses which can transform the world. Each human being is, in reality, a modern Pharaoh, and is charged with tasks similar to these earlier God-kings.

The people of Egypt – the place in which such Pharaoh-ism originated – are showing us that now is the time for us to rise to the tasks of today. They are reminding us that no longer do we need to sacrifice our own freedom by elevating another into the position which we ourselves should rightly occupy. The thrones are ours.

The question arises, however, as to how we are each to exist in a world where each one of us is, in truth, a king, a queen, a Pharaoh. How do we in fact live in a healthy community when we have each become so individual? We can see that, for a large part, the western world has been so far unable to provide a satisfactory answer to this question.

If we observe more closely what is happening in Egypt, we can perhaps find part of a beginning-answer to this question. The Egyptian people have lived for three decades under a ruler who has amassed more wealth than the country as a whole. There has been no political equality, no cultural or spiritual freedom. In reality he has elevated himself, like so many other rulers since the time of the Pharaohs, at the expense of others. He has lifted himself up to the heights by keeping others firmly pressed to the ground.

What is being asked of us today, out of the reality of the situation at hand, is something quite different. We are being asked for a new kind of rulership. We are being asked for the kind of rulership whereby we do not elevate ourselves by forcing others down, but where we allow a space for others to become the kings and queens and Pharaohs that they are destined to become; that we make a space in ourselves for the Pharaoh – for the highest potential – in the other human being.

Interestingly, if we turn to Tahrir Square – to Freedom Square – at the moment, we do not see a revolution in which one major political or other organization is overthrowing another. We do not see a single opposition leader rallying others behind him or her. We do not see the military overthrowing a ruler. We do not see human beings handing their freedom over to another human being (or even an organization) who will simply replace the human being who previously ruled over them.

What we are seeing is a revolution of hundreds of thousands of human beings from all walks of life calling first and foremost for the removal of the self-installed Pharaoh who has ruled by keeping others down. We are seeing individuals and organizations – largely civil society organizations – working together by holding one another up – by raising one another into their rightful place as free human beings.

We are seeing Freedom Square organized in such a way that individual human beings are able to live together in community while striving to attain their own, and one another’s, freedom. If we are attentive, we can see that the revolution is actually practicing, in part, the kind of new society it is itself asking for.

In the medieval story of Parzival, it is only when the knight is able to recognise the suffering of another king and ask him the all-redeeming question ‘What ails thee?’ that he is able to take up his own position as king of the grail castle. What we are seeing unfold in Freedom Square is a Parzival kingship of individuals supporting one another to become what they are destined to become. They have made a space for one another’s suffering and seek to help one another to take up their thrones. They are a practicing example of individuals living together with one another in community. Their hard-won individuality is not lost in this process – rather, by helping one another, it is strengthened, as is the community.

Food and water are extremely well organized, as are medical supplies and security. Communications and media are grasped hold of in the best possible way considering the situation. There are songs and dancing. People have come from all around the country. Families are gathered. They seem to live as individuals within a common star: their own and one another’s freedom, together with the freedom of their country. They are thereby reminding the rest of us around the world of our own responsibilities and tasks.

The question must arise at this point, however, as to how to enable that which lives in the heart of so many Egyptians right now, and within the heart of Cairo – in Freedom Square – how can this same quality of individual freedom in community exist on the level of the country as a whole?

We see already the seed-answer for this in the activity taking place in Freedom Square. We see individuals from many different organizations and spheres of social life working together. We see civil society organizations representing cultural and spiritual life. We see political organizations representing political life. And we see businesses and business owners representing economic life. These three areas are all currently thrown together in the revolutionary melting pot at the centre of the Freedom Square of Egypt as a whole.

It is obvious enough to anyone with eyes to see that the situation is not asking for the same system to continue simply with a change of ‘heads.’ As much as many western and other ruling ‘heads’ may want this, that which is living in Freedom Square does not. If this does happen – if the Vice President, or any other individual is installed as a new ‘head’ for the social organism – we will see the same scenes repeated again and again in the years ahead. (And surely the situation in America is proof enough that no matter how ideal an individual ‘head’ may seem to be, the structure of existing national social forms does not allow for the full unfolding of the free human being of today.)

If, however, that which is taking place in this point of liberation is understood in the right way, then we can see that the human being of today is asking for social forms that are in line with the reality of who it has become. The human being of today demands freedom – it demands to be able to do as it likes with respect to all cultural and spiritual life. At the same time, it demands equality in all activities related to political and legal life – we seek equality before the law, and we each want our voice heard in the formation of such laws. And finally, the human being of today seeks to work together with other human beings – that is, to work in economic association. The reality of the human being today demands this, as do all human beings who currently sit in any Freedom Square around the world.

In the same way that each human being’s individuality must be upheld in a community in order that people can work together freely, so too on the national level must such autonomous interdependence hold sway. Each human being is autonomous, yet we rely on each other. It is the same with the systems of our physical body: our nerve-sense system, our heart-lung system, our metabolic-limb system – here too each system is in reality separate and yet depends on one another for healthy life.

So too is this autonomous interdependence currently being expressed in Freedom Square. A free cultural/spiritual realm, an equality-imbued political realm and a co-operative economic realm are all equally dependent on one another. On the other hand, they are, in reality, all separate from one another. Three realms of social life distinct from one another and yet working together. Here we see already a way in which we can move from government by government alone to a new governance based on the reality of the human being today.

Civil society representing a free cultural realm, government representing an equal political/legal realm, and business representing an associative economic life where each realm is autonomous yet interdependent. Three autonomous yet interdependent realms of social life coming together at the decision making tables of the world, fully respecting one another’s role and part in the health of society as a whole. From government by government alone to a new tri-polar societal governance.

This is obviously no abstract program, but that which is already clearly expressing itself out of the social and human needs of the world today, as we can see through all that is currently taking place in Egypt.

We are no longer the slaves of Pharaoh or of any other leader. We are each now Pharaohs, and we need social forms that allow this to be expressed. Anything else is a form of structural violence – violence against the developing human being. The people of Freedom Square in Egypt and in many other Freedom Squares around the world are expressing this need out of the reality of our times. May we have the strength to support one another in the fashioning of kingdoms worthy of each of us as human beings – as the Pharaohs we are and must continue to become.

John Stubley

Published February 11 on commondreams.org, informationclearinghouse.info, dprogram.net

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