Greetings! Throughout the maze of magic and mystical thought, avid readers of these schools often fantasize about possessing superhuman powers and the like, but the “work” of an Adept takes a much different course. Although a controversial grimoire, the Simon Necronomicon approaches this topic with a drop of wisdom. In its introductory pages we read:
“Man’s power to alter the nature of his environment must develop simultaneously with his ability to master his inner environment, his own mind his psyche, soul, spirit. “
The development of our inner nature is often referred to in so-called sacred books as a “resurrection” of sorts. However, this resurrection is symbolic of the solidification of the inner self, sometimes called the astral body. The exercises revealed in the work ensure that the candidate focuses on primarily having an “inner body experience” before focusing on the ability to transfer consciousness in other areas of space. We cannot function on any astral level until we become aware of the astral body working within the physical shell. This is awareness. In ancient times, the process of self-awareness and how the astral works in the physical body, is often described as a “resurrection.” Notice what is mentioned by H.P. Blavatsky in the Secret Doctrine:
“Elijah is also taken up into Heaven alive; and the astrologer, at the court of Isdubar, the Chaldean Hea-bani, is likewise raised to heaven by the god Hea, who was his patron, as Jehovah was of Elijah (whose name means in Hebrew “God-Jah,” Jehovah, ), and again of Elihu, which has the same meaning. This kind of easy death, or euthanasia, has an esoteric meaning. It symbolises the death of any adept who has reached the power and degree, as also the purification, which enable him to die only in the physical body and still live and lead a conscious life in his astral body.”
Gurdjieff’s basic teaching is that human life is lived in waking sleep; transcendence of the sleeping state requires a specific inner work, which is practiced in private quiet conditions, and in the midst of life with others. This leads to otherwise inaccessible levels of vitality and awareness. This is where we learn that the realm we exist in is the astral realm, but our awareness only allows us to perceive things according to the messages we gather from the five senses. If we confine reality to only those things perceptible to the five senses, then we must regard all our thoughts and feelings as unreal. Awakening requires being aware of our inner changes, or astral changes. Through continued effort, we can gradually bring to life what was once dead within us, but the first step in this process is to realize that we already exist in the astral world.
While the novice seeks to discover how to unlock some “miraculous” power, the Initiate upon the proper path understands that real miracles lay all around us, but we are unable to see these things if we are not aware of the changes that regularly and mechanically occur all around us.
The following is an excerpt from one of my favorite films entitled The Dutchman. This film was released in 1967. What usually stumps people when viewing this film is the language and the shadowy subject, but minus the “race card” overtones, it really is about how the Satanic Witch is able to manifest an experience. You will note that this “Ishtar” of a woman is able to control the experience without the “special effects” of the paranormal-things moving throughout the space. Life is just as miraculous when you are aware of the inner self. Enjoy!
Greetings! Over the past decade we have witnessed an upheaval in the economic global economy. It is during this time that we also find an increase in natural disasters, and while many readers are fortunately not part of the “end of the world” theology, perspectives about our survival are still challenged.
What is amazing about all of this is that the world has seen some beneficial things arise out of conditions previously described. One example of this is seen in the work of G. I. Gurdjieff. Although it is not discussed in some “occult” circles, but it is useful to observe that while the works of Blavatsky, Crowley, and Gurdjieff are highly revered today, it should also be kept in mind that the brunt of this work was laid down during two world wars.
Outstanding among these is the work of Gurdjieff and his system of inner development, which is widely known as the Fourth Way. The Work Life, written by Beryl Pogson, mentions the following on page 128:
“The Fourth Way is the way of sly man. And the sly man has this special technique so as to be able to walk safely through life without being touched by it.”
While the “New Age” magician finds his glory in a fantasy world, the true adepts sees all things, divine and worldly, in the same space called life. One of the way of mastering the ‘way of the sly may’ is through self-remembering. Pogson continues on page 129:
“This is one of the simplest forms of self-remembering-remembering your aim.”
The majority of people living in the world today are preoccupied with the “end of the world,” or the pursuit of being lazy while seeking to fulfill an urge. This is what keeps them enslaved to victim-hood. The simple act of remembering our aims from moment to moment helps us survive in adverse conditions, both economically and spiritually.
Many people have fell into the trap of building their lives around a set of reactions and no proactive philosophy. It is due to such, that these people are under the constant guise of “chance,” not knowing what will come next, while being grounded to the idea of luck. However, how much more can be accomplished while self-remembering our aims.
Noticing how suggestive commands influence people is a very good exercise. If you are on a bus, train, or even driving in traffic, just observe the messages being conveyed by billboard signs and other forms of advertisement. You will notice after a while that these tools “command” people. Exercises such as these, and others found on this site, are excellent tools in amplifying the part of ourselves that is known in some traditions as the “observer.”
Our hypothesis is that the general discontent that has lead each of us to seek alternative modes of thought is spurred by our mandatory involvement in consensus reality; the laws, social rules, and patterns of behavior that we are obliged to abide as members of our society. By managing or eliminating our obligatory participation in the general consensus reality and becoming more active in the development of our personal reality we can become more content. This hypothesis is inspired by the Fourth Way philosophy and forms the root of Evolutionary Satanism, Post Modern Satanism, and the efforts of numerous social and philosophical movements. These three lines of thinking are separate and distinct from one another, yet all have recognized the same problem and developed a similar approach to resolving the issue. This suggests both the pervasiveness of the problem and that the Satanist Movement is at the forefront on this issue.
Much of the discussion regarding this issue deals with its philosophical and metaphysical components, when the majority of the issue is in the management of its mundane aspects. How can an individual be expected to determine and control their personal reality when so much of their time is eaten away by predetermined mundane obligations? Exploring the potential metaphysical ramifications of a large percentage of our society awakening to their own self-defined paradigms means little if you find yourself stuck performing menial tasks in a 9-5 job in which you are miserable. In order to achieve the potential promised in the metaphysical and philosophical theories the individual must first achieve a greater control of their mundane obligations.
The model to use when approaching this issue is as follows: the reality experienced by every individual can be divided into three inter-related categories; Physical Reality (the apparent natural rules that govern objects and energy in space-time), Personal Reality (the individual perspectives and urges of the self), and General Consensus Reality (the reality defined by social and cultural standards). For our purposes at this time it would be counter-productive to discuss the theoretical reversals of the laws governing Physical Reality; we should accept that up is up and gravity is consistent in our existence as unless we are physicists paid to explore such issues it has little impact on our immediate sense of contentment. Also, we recognize that when to Personal Realities interact a temporary Consensus Reality is created. Our focus is on the longer lasting General Consensus Reality.
In this model, we will establish Physical Reality (R) as the foundation for both Personal Reality (Pr) and General Consensus Reality (GCr). A correlation can be established between the average person’s sense of contentment and the ratio of Pr and GCr that governs their behavior. For most people, the more they live by their Pr, the more content they tend to be. The problem is that establishing your Pr in the presence of the GCr, especially if in opposition, requires continuous and often monumental effort on the part of the individual. It is easier to live as dictated by the GCr, but less fulfilling.
The GCr also has the advantage of being in existence for so long that it is self-perpetuating. It no longer requires an individual or body of individuals outside of it to enforce it; we all have a role in its enforcement. Even those individuals who are viewed as at the society’s upper echelons are obliged to abide by the GCr with their positions often being dependent on its continued stability. In general, an individual in our society will spend the first 20 years of their life being reared and prepared for their role in society under the GCr, a role which is expected to last at least 40 years before they are phased out. During that time, the GCr permeates every aspect of the individual’s life unless they choose to engage in there own Pr, but most are not even aware of this as a possible option. Thus, most people live with a minimal Pr and are grossly participant in the GCr.
The inverse; living primarily in your own Pr while minimizing your participation in the GCr is considered a kind of insanity. Linguistically, this makes perfect sense. “Sanity” refers to the state of alignment with the “Sangre”, or royal will (as well as the will of the blood…again referring to the royal line). The word hails back to a time when GCr was defined by the King or ruler of the people (“reality” is a word that also shares in the connection to royal or regal decree). Madness tends to only hamper the efforts of those who are interacting with others abiding by GCr, which is all of us at least occasionally, thus we each tend to develop a form of functional insanity. The fact that everyone is insane should be a fore-drawn conclusion (“sanity” being actually the term defining the tolerable levels of functional insanity in an individual).
The only way to effectively live at 100% Pr/ 0% GCr would be to abandon society all together and avoid interacting with any other individuals for the rest of your life. Even when a group of individuals chooses to sequester themselves off from the mainstream GCr, a new GCr (gcr) is formed for that group. While most of us are discontent, few of us are willing to abandon our ties to society completely. In fact, many of us should find that effective establishment of one’s Pr will be enhanced by proper management of one’s interaction with the GCr. We should not go to war with the GCr, but instead seek ways to use the GCr to our advantage as individuals, smooth our interactions with it, and use the GCr to bolster our own Pr.
The GCr is addictive because it is easy. It cultivates apathy, and disillusionment is its primary tool for creating obedience. As children, we are told we can do whatever we wish, we could each be President of the US, or astronauts, or rock stars. We are not told in advance the odds against us achieving those goals, thus we believe that if we obey we will be rewarded with greatness. It is not until obedience is ingrained into our behavior that the illusion is ended, but then our disappointment is used to turn us toward lesser goals more befitting the GCr. You might not be President because you were born in to the wrong economic circumstances, but you might own your own business. You might not own your own business because you lack the creativity/funds/charisma to enter the market, but you might become an executive of a powerful company. You might not be an executive of a powerful company, but you might become a manager of a subsidiary branch of a chain business. You might not be a manager, but you will be an important part of the team. You might not be an important part of the team, but you will earn enough to live comfortably. You might not earn enough to live comfortably, but you will have enough to scrape by. You might not have enough to scrape by, but that is what the government is here for… and haven’t we always taken care of you?
At that point, most individual’s do not care. Their ambition is gone, their dreams abandoned, and their interests is only in their next meal/bed/fix/television show.
Reality (R) does have actual, mandatory requirements that are common to the human experience. We each need to eat and to sleep. We each, on frequent occasion, require shelter. One of our evolutionary enhancements over animals is our need to have purpose and our need to feel like we matter. Not the most noble traits in an animal but they have served our species well. It helps to have a “high altitude” perspective when considering the questions such as these. From a high enough altitude, for example, the purpose of humanity becomes obvious; to continue the existence of humanity as it is with any other life-form (and life itself). GCr provides a means for each individual to meet the mandatory requirements of being a human in R, and it is insinuated (though never flatly stated) that these means are not only mandatory, but the only means available. Indeed, while the means to fulfill these needs do exist in Pr, GCr has made many of these means either illegal or so difficult as to be comparatively impossible.
Let’s say, for instance, you would like to eat while refusing to negotiate with the GCr. First of all, your options are going to be comparatively slim. You’ll need to be a fan of nuts and roots, and don’t expect the nuts and roots you find in the wild to be as tantalizing as those in the grocery. Oh, and then there is that “in the wild” part… as in the deep woods, in the elements, competing with animals who are better at finding nuts and roots than you. It will be a full-time enterprise just to find enough food to survive. Maybe those animals sound tasty? You can’t go at it with a gun and bullets because they cost money no matter how you go about arming yourself. The best you can manage in the woods is a primitive bow and arrow, not the aerodynamically engineered and precision weighted machines at the store. There’s a reason that in many drawings primitive peoples were thin. You could manage on your own, no doubt, but how long before you were arrested for trespassing, vagrancy, or even poaching? GCr is not going to make it easy on you.
So, we have established one condition when seeking the best ratio between our Pr and the GCr; rationality. Turning your back on the GCr exposes too greatly your insanity and results in backlash from those engaged in the GCr. Our society will only tolerate so much independence from its members before it deems the individual behavior as criminal. Establishing your Pr will require careful negotiation with the GCr, but the guide of rationality works both ways. It may be irrational to stalk your food in the wilds far from civilization on a daily basis, but it is also irrational to eat at McDonald’s daily (if at all). These are two extremes on the spectrum with the appropriate balance laying somewhere around growing some of your own food, preparing the majority of your own meals, and managing your own diet based on your personal preferences and means. What that balance is for the individual is determined by their own needs and sense of satisfaction.
In order to effectively use rationality to guide our choices, the first step is to establish what is, in fact, rational. Since we are trying to create a state of being in which the Pr is more relevant than the GCr, then it follows that we should create our own definition of “rational”. Personally, my definition follows risk assessment and cost analysis models and includes making use of “what works”. In other words, rational for me is the least risk for the most gain, the least cost for the greatest value, and I go with that which I have experienced as effective. This leaves a great deal of room for my behavior to appear “irrational” to those who’s standards are defined by the GCr. For example, there is more personal benefit in my experience in personal interaction with a self-defined “divinity” than in catering to a pre-defined, mass-consumer deity. At the same time, my experience suggests that it is more rational to cater to the idea of divinity versus being an atheist… at least it seems to work best for me. This rationality obviously leaves room for the irrational idea that “truth” is often a fluid concept and a matter of perspective.
During this discussion I have mentioned several personal labels; “Satanist”, “insane”, “individual”. This brings up another aspect of the GCr’s means of control: identity. Those who live by a Pr have to create their identity, while those who abide the GCr have an identity assigned to them. Your identity is based on how you spend the majority of your time, thus in GCr your identity is typically your means of employment. Consider this: there are 168 hours in the average week as most people reckon time. On average, most people in the US spend 40 hours of that time at work, often for someone other than themselves. If a person sleeps 8 hours a day, another 56 hours of their week is accounted for. Let’s say we spend just two hours preparing for our employment, including commuting to and from the work-place, each day. That’s another 10 hours. Throw in just 1 hour a day for your main meal… another 7 hours a week is gone. This would suggest that the this individual would have 55 hours for their own self-definition, just shy of 8 hours a day. This does not include time spent engaged in housework, grocery shopping, paying bills, or any of the other tasks “required” to lead an efficient life by GCr standards. How many people honestly spend the spare 55 hours a week totally devoted to the cause of self-definition? Sleeping, to the uninformed observer, would be a non-activity and thus not a means of definition. For most of us, our activities during the 55 hours are often less than stellar. Our most “productive” hours are those 40 during which we are employed, thus definition comes from our employment. You may be an artist, sing opera, or write novels in your “spare-time” (that phrase always makes me shudder as on average each of us only has about 80 years of life and such a finite amount of time does not allow anything to spare), but when society takes its measure of you it is most often as what you do to earn money. In GCr, cash is the lubricant of will, another aspect of the GCr which is not readily shared with its participants. This is why you will often find it difficult to discern what many public Satanists do to earn a living. Their Pr cannot cope with the nature of the GCr selves.
This idea, that you are defined by your employment, can be a little depressing, especially for those first trying to develop their Pr while deeply engaged in the GCr. This leads many to creating “false” public identities, idealized selves that would never lower themselves to employment for another at some menial task or in being apathetic about their identity (they manage a gas station during the day but it is what they do at night that matters, right?). The problem is the misconception that developing your Pr means abandoning the GCr. You can develop your Pr in a manner that is in line with GCr. The difference is the conscious choice involved in doing so. In regards to the situation of being employed, GCr says you work for Employer X. Pr says that, regardless of what you do, you work for yourself, and contract out your services to Employer X at an agreed upon rate. The difference is a matter of perspective, but in one version the individual is a victim of circumstance, in the other they are a decisive director of their life. Their is also a heightened sense of responsibility with the latter perspective that may lead the individual to make more “rational” choices about their employment. Being guided by the whims of fate might lead a person to live paycheck-to-paycheck while someone who is “self-employed” is more likely to pay themselves from their paycheck first and build their wealth while working for another. They are also building toward their own goals while their GCr counterpart often chooses to simply (begrudgingly) accept their lot.
This demonstrates how important a shift in perspective can be. We are more creatures of our own mental landscapes than we often realize, with those of us who are active in shaping those lands enjoying more freedom and a greater sense of contentment. This shift in perspective is not merely being positive, but being self-defined. By recognizing and initiating or personal responsibility for our reality we become more powerful beings, awakened amongst the sleeping masses free to do as we choose instead of merely what we are told. It is simply a matter of choice and then the discipline to see our choices through.
I was on my way through town this morning, heading south out from Austin’s core as others headed north toward what I assume was their jobs. Traffic going my way was markedly thinner than the stop-and-go crush of the northwardly flow. I found myself thinking “I wonder if that is what it looked like in Egypt as the people left the slave-district to build Pharaoh’s pyramid.” The whole ‘going-to-work’ thing took on a sharp focus for me at that moment. People, I believe, go to work for one reason: the Pharaoh says that they have to.
Anyone who has talked to me lately knows that I have really been hung-up on the imposed systems of our society. Probably the last two decades of my life has been an on-going exploration of and resistance to those systems that exist and define our lives. Whether lately I have been getting “better” or “worse” about these issues is a matter of relative opinion; I am becoming more frustrated and more prone to act. Thus, a new blog and a “new” idea.
Obviously, I use the idea of “Pharaoh” symbolically. This Pharaoh is the systems of order that are imposed on each of us almost as soon as we are born. Boy/girl, rich/poor, good/bad, quick/slow, motivated/lackadaisical, producer/consumer, content/disillusioned…we are given pre-defined sets of options leading each of us to be better slaves for the Pharaoh. Ideally (for the Pharoh), we buy his bullshit about satisfaction with our lot, accept what he passes off as entertainment to keep us pacified, envy our immediate “superiors” in the system just enough to strive for the baubles that they have, and never…ever look up from our set tasks to wonder if we might be better off without the Pharaoh. What keeps us from just taking our own measure of goods and walking off into the desert?
Wisely, the system keeps each of us thinking that we are individuals, and that as individuals we are powerless against the unified might of the Pharaoh and his resources. As a matter of fact, ideally we ARE a part of his resources he would use against any individual that would decry him and his methods. “Keep your head down.” “Don’t rock the boat.” “Quit complaining.” “Just do what you are told.” Some people are so dependent on the system that they will fight and die to defend it. The possibilities frighten them. There are beasts in the desert, waiting to devour them. Without the protection of the Pharaoh, they are lost.
The power of the Pharaoh, of the system, is in its ability to demonstrate how, through the unification of its resources (you and me), it is able to make its will reality. Our will as individuals, we are told, is not worthy of manifestation. Obey the system, the police-man is your friend, A is A just because.
I watched the cars drive north as I went south, and wondered what would happen if they all just turned around and went home. The Pharaoh says they have to go to work. They have to work not to have the things they want, but to earn the things they need. The wants are delusional, established by the system, to make us easier to motivate. Maslow suggests a hierarchy of needs that I won’t detail here. Suffice it to say that the Pharaoh, the system, has established laws that make it illegal or extremely difficult to achieve the most basic of those needs without assuming a position within the system. Food, one of the most basic needs, grows everywhere. You can pick it from the trees, pluck it from the fields, and hunt it in the forests. That is, unless the Pharaoh manages the trees, controls the fields, and makes hunting game nearly illegal. We have allowed an artificial gambling house to arise in our reality and encompass us; all the tables are rigged, all the decks marked, and the house wins… always. The means to satisfying your basic needs are regulated by the government, therefore you are under their control.
What would happen if they all just turned around? The flow of cash powered by the consumer/worker-drone is the life-blood of the system. If the slaves cease to work, the system ceases to function. He that can destroy a thing controls that thing.
Obviously, the consequences of such an act would be dire…but what if it were not a permanent cessation of the normal paradigm? What if, for one day, when the bees were supposed to go about their tasks for the queen, they all instead just did what they wanted? What if, as an act of defiance of the system, everyone just took one day, together, and did not go to work? We would have a true National Blow-Off Day. For 24 hours, business would have no choice but to either close their doors or else the owners would need to work the registers themselves. The point of the demonstration would be to convince ourselves that the individuals are truly empowered, that our lives are in fact our own. I am not talking about a holiday, a pre-scheduled and system-ordained break from work. I mean a true, “everyone calls in sick” day.
The conditions of the experiment would be simple. Everyone would agree to do this on the same day; let’s say Monday, October 31st. Nobody likes Mondays anyway, and we could all use a three day weekend. Everyone just calls in sick. You don’t take a vacation day. You don’t give your manager/boss/supervisor/division coordinator/corporate masters any warning. Even if they know it is coming, the point is that the system should not have time to prepare to cope with the stoppage.
Everyone would also agree not to patronize anything that would require that one of their fellow wage-slaves be at work to service them. Hopefully, everything is closed by 11am anyway, but just in case someone doesn’t get the memo NO MONEY FLOWS ON MONDAY, OCTOBER 31ST! Some could see this as anti-capitalist. That is untrue. I suggest that everyone prepare for the 24 hours when the system stops; gas up your cars, buy plenty of food, make certain to have your games/rent your movies/have your sex lotions all in your favorite flavors…whatever. Preparation for the National Blow-Off Day might actually stimulate the economy, but the slight increase prior will not be as impressive as the 24 hour lull. The point is that you turn your back on the system for 24 hours.
Be prepared for anything. If everyone does stop working the power could go out (how did we manage before electricity?), the police and emergency services might be inactive (what will we do if mom and dad isn’t around to protect us?), and hospitals might not be staffed (what about our boo-boos?). Take care of yourself and your family. Go camping. Take your family out to the woods and enjoy one another’s company. Call in sick from deep in the forest and then shut off your cell-phone. Invite some friends over and light a bon-fire…whatever. It is one day of irresponsibility.
And, let us dare imagine that this idea actually catches on. When the system compensates and we see the smiling face of Obama-hotep or whoever wears the Pharaoh’s mask at that time announcing that the government has adapted the National Blow-Off Day to it official holiday calendar, be prepared for an underground call for a new National Stay Home Day on a different date. Revolution is a part of our heritage; we became a society by giving the king the middle-finger. It is time to start stretching that digit again.
“slave screams he thinks he knows what he wants
slave screams thinks he has something to say
slave screams he hears but doesn’t want to listen
slave screams he’s being beat into submission
“don’t open your eyes you won’t like what you see
the devils of truth steal the souls of the free
don’t open your eyes take it from me
I have found
you can find
happiness in slavery
“slave screams he spends his life learning conformity
slave screams he claims he has his own identity
slave screams he’s going to cause the system to fall
slave screams but he’s glad to be chained to that wall
“don’t open your eyes you won’t like what you see
the blind have been blessed with security
don’t open your eyes take it from me
I have found
you can find
happiness in slavery
“I don’t know what I am I don’t know where I’ve been
human junk just words and so much skin
stick my hands through the cage of this endless routine
just some flesh caught in this big broken machine.”
~”Happiness in Slavery” Nine Inch Nails
In another post, I discussed how “freedom” is subjective… it is a relative state of mind. There is no such thing as “freedom”, no absolute that you can describe, nothing you can point to as freedom, nothing you can hold in your hand. “Freedom” means something different to everyone, and generally we tend to focus not on the relative “freedom” we have, instead we focus on the freedom we lack.
GI Gurdjieff, a Russian mystic and philosopher, suggests that we all exist in a kind of prison. As the character Morpheus describes this prison, it is a “prison for your mind”. We sense the restrictions placed upon us, we experience the limitations both within ourselves and externally built around us. But, since it is a prison for your mind… since it is a prison largely dependent on your own feeling of being limited, is it a place you need to be?
“Need” is yet another subjective term, though less subjective than “freedom”. Abraham Maslow was a psychologist made famous for his theory regarding need; the Hierarchy of Need. Maslow’s Hierarchy breaks the human condition into several basic categories of need which man strives to fulfill. He also suggests that these needs must be prioritized and met moving from one successive tier to the next. With the fulfillment of one tier, other tiers become easier to fulfill.
The lowest rung on Maslow’s Hierarchy is Physiological; the basic things our bodies require to remain functional: food, water, air, sex (the physical act of), sleep, homeostasis, and excretion. This is common-sense… if you are unable to fulfill many of these basic needs, you die. If you are dead, then the pursuit of all other needs is moot. In regard to “freedom”, these basic needs represent fundamental limitations that are a part of our condition… we cannot be free of them and remain “human” in the manner we are most familiar with.
These basic needs are, under what I would consider normal conditions, relatively easy to fulfill and free to all. While the limitations discussed above represent “real” restrictions, there are another set of restrictions related to this tier. Artificial restrictions are those restrictions we either place upon ourselves, or are placed upon us by society (which we have a hand in to one extent or another). Food, for example, is used as a means of social control. First, a value system is established limiting what qualifies as food to a very narrow part of the over-all edible possibilities. Then, the means of producing or acquiring the “acceptable” food sources are regulated and limited, requiring us to engage in the system in order to eat.
People often forget that “freedom” includes not only the pursuit of one’s bliss, but also the possibility of starvation.
The next tier on Maslow’s Hierarchy is Safety; security of the body, security of resources (often through employment), the security of laws and rules, of health and welfare, of the family, and of personal property. “Freedom” in this regard is a two-way street. If you are restricted by government, it means that certain obligations must be met in order to be considered under that governments protection; you must obey the rules and meet minimum requirements. While restrictive, it also means (generally) that you are less apt to have someone of sounder mind or body take from you any of the things on this tier for fear of repercussions from the authority to which you are beholden.
“Freedom” from government means freedom to have whatever you consider yours taken from you by force from whoever has the means and desire to do so. There is nothing civil about civilization. Despite our assumed higher-culture, without the threat of repercussions from a superior force, the only thing between yourself and someone who wants what you have would be your wits and physical prowess.
And, there is always someone bigger and smarter than you ready to take what you cannot defend.
When that tier is fulfilled, Maslow suggests that we can then work toward fulfilling a Sense of Belonging; family, friends, romantic relationships, etc. This tier is more defined by cultural value structures than the previous two. Certain social standards exist which define a “family” and how a family is supposed to interact. The same is true in regards to friends and relationships. These value structures are semi-fluid, changing with time becoming either more or less inclusive. 50 years ago, a “family” was one man, one woman, and a 2.3 children. 30 years prior to that, the number of children in an average family was significantly higher, largely owing to the expectation that children were a method to fulfilling the first two tiers. Today, a family unit can consist of any number of parents regardless of gender combinations. Non-traditional families are not yet fully embraced by the culture, but the shift is in place. The definition of acceptable friends and relationships are also in transition.
Due to their transitional nature, the value structures applicable to this tier are used as a lever to guide the masses into the parameters set by the society for greater control. When the traditional values were the norm, living outside of that value structure openly made you a social pariah, subject to the derision and disdain of your peers and potentially the loss of rights because of your “perverted lifestyle”. Today, failure to recognize and embrace the changes in our value structure achieves relatively the same result, suggesting that you are biased, antiquated in your thinking, negating your opinion and voice in the public forum.
In either case, you only have the freedom to live as you see fit within the established acceptable parameters. Choosing to live outside those parameters means accepting the pariah-status and the consequences involved; predominantly continuous pressure to conform. A relatively greater freedom would be not only to live in the manner and by the values that you see fit, but the inherent ability to allow others to do the same, even if you disagree with the values they live by. The social enforcement of a value structure is the primary method for artificial restrictions of freedom, allowing for the restrictions placed in the lower, or more basic, tiers.
Esteem is the next tier; including self-esteem, confidence, a sense of achievement or the ability to achieve and progress, the respect and admiration of others, and the ability to respect and admire others. Like “freedom”, these are largely relative and internal concepts, but are artificially influenced by external pressures. You are encouraged to be proud of yourself and your accomplishments, but only within a narrow-band of acceptable achievements. What is worthy of pride should be self-determined, instead it is determined by others. The paradox in this is that while you may experience a sense of accomplishment and self-worth in any endeavor, we are taught that when others do not share in our assessments, the value of our achievements is diminished. Thus, we learn to chase external validation and shackle ourselves by the chain of public admiration.
This does not mean, however, that social acceptance is not rewarding. Indeed, social acceptability can be very fulfilling, but it must be understood for what it is; fleeting and secondary to your own personal sense of accomplishment. Again, this requires a shift in our personal value structures. Externally, we are encouraged to chase the validation of others, the proverbial carrot tied to the end of a stick.
The risk of not chasing the carrot is getting nothing but stick.
The final tier in Maslow’s Hierarchy is Self-Actualization. Here is where we develop our morality, our ability to accept the facts of our condition, where we develop the expression of our creativity, and so-on. These higher aspirations are almost entirely internal, and thus have been perverted into either something artificially external (such as morality), or largely dissuaded by external pressures (creativity and acknowledgements of facts). The limitation we experience relative to this tier is in its de-prioritization. Morality is either an absolute externally enforced or is to be ignored completely; a naturally evolved morality is shunned or considered naive. Creativity and an acceptance of facts are devalued, with those energies directed toward frivolity.
Indeed, this tier is largely ignored altogether, leading to a failure to complete Maslow’s progression and what he would views as stunted development in most people. Our external and artificial value system has lead to the priority being given in our society to the Esteem tier; we chase after validation to the near exclusion of all else; family, friends, relationships… even personal health and welfare.
When we are internally directionless, we are given direction by others.
“Freedom”, being relative, is a matter of personal value structure, either self-determined or determined by others. This represents a scale; your value structure is either more self-determined or more determined by others. “Freedom” is the internal sense that your value structure is self-determined, even if by way of self-determination you choose the same values as would have been given to you if determined by external pressures… it is purely a matter of personal perspective. “Freedom” is also the inherent ease by which a value structure can be pursued; a self-determined value structure that is outside the acceptable parameters established by the herd meets with friction… what we call “oppression”. Just like “freedom”, “oppression” is simply a matter of perspective; we either experience it based on our value structures or we do not.
The system either works for you, or you work for it.
At least, this seems to be the way of the world. We seem, however, to be discovering a third option; the route of the Slyman. The Slyman recognizes precisely what we have been discussing here; “freedom” is relative, based on your own perceptions and your value structures. These things are self-determined, unless you lack personal direction, in which case they are then determined for you. Most people are not aware of there even being an option for self-determination, so the vast majority feel “oppression” in a very general way, and tend to favor their “minimal oppression” to the greater risk of “freedom”. The system which governs these people is itself restricted by a particular set of parameters and works through a particular set of processes which are in slow but continuous transition. The greater your opposition to that system, the greater the external pressure to conform.
If those parameters and processes are understood, and the transitions predicted, the system can be used by the Slyman to make his existence outside those parameters easier, reducing the “oppression” he experiences in his pursuits and increasing his relative sense of “freedom”. Through comprehension and awareness of the system, that system can be manipulated for our own benefit… even changed.
Happiness can be found in slavery. The Slyman understands this, which is why he prefers to let those who’s eyes are closed remain closed. He lives by a self-determined value structure… his eyes are open. His task now is comprehension. Can he continue his self-determination while understanding the nuances of the system that seeks to consume him? Can he safely navigate the thin line between pariah and slave, not only in open view of the forces that demand conformity but also within his own mind? Does he have the awareness to recognize that the parameters set about him are in his mind, are his to manipulate, and can either act as a cage keeping him in, or a barrier to keep others out?
If we are aware… if our eyes are open, our first step is rightly defined by Mr. TC Downey. To resist the pressures and currents that ebb and flow about us, we must develop a self-determined direction; what he describes as a “Calling“. We must live deliberately. In that deliberate effort, we must recognize that if we are oppressed, it is because we choose in our minds to be oppressed. If we are to be free, we must convince ourselves of our freedom.
The way my life is run, currently, will never be enough. I want out of this slave pen. I think my path is taking me there, but at the same time I can’t help wondering if I’m really just scuttling from one end of the cage to the other (the side with the better view). What will it take to truly be free? What qualifies as good enough?
Immediately I want to say that true freedom happens only when we can precede in any direction desired without obstruction. However problematic it seems for freedom to become a reality, I cannot with clear conscience ignore a reoccurring observation I have made. Every person I have ever asked this one simple question, has answered it the same. “Do you have a sense of purpose?”, in every instance the response has been to the affirmative.
From the Materialists who believe all things are deterministic, to the Creationists who claim divine Will, and every shade of thinking between each has the idea the we have a role. Rightly so, who can honestly deny that we impact the causal; with every breath we draw. From what I have also gathered, another commonality observed is our quest for this ‘calling‘.
Even more impressive is that this happens on many scales, with an almost eerie congruence; we see one behavior manifested on marginal levels of scaling. I remember being completely fascinated, when being informed that a piece of glass; was in fact not in a truly stationary state. Imagine, over just a few hundred years; what was once a completely level surfaced window, will be thicker toward the bottom and thinner at the top. I marvel even more at the molecule and the mechanical manifestation of material.
One morning swimming at a spring, I started thinking about the current I was walking against. My mind drifted to maps of ocean currents moving, I thought about how it resembled the moving air streams above, everything seeming in motion. It then occurred to me that we use this type of analysis in second nature. I realize none of these are new ideas, it builds a sufficient platform for what I propose might place this square in alignment.
I won’t suggest I have any undeniable truth or solution, but I have some hard-pressed questions to which could open the doors to real answers. If we feel hungry does our body not call to be nourished? If we need sleep do our heads not lean towards the pillow? Say we are addicted to a cigarette, do we not have driving cravings? What happens when your sex drive, cannot be satisfied; do you not boil with frustration? Is it not possible, a woman’s compulsion for chocolate; mirrors the flirtatiousness of Le Femme Fatale ( Our Lady Fate)?
Not to labor the our point of reference unnecessarily, I have but two questions more and my closing.
If we should have meaning (subjected to the filling of physical and psychological needs) , yet be able to to affect the casual to the point of holding responsibility; are we not then mandated by the health of our being to tap our potential? This of course demands an honest analysis of priorities, structure, philosophy, process, and ideals; none the less no man is just born, they’ve all grown. Growing is difficult on some levels, but all must do so together. What then can we say is our true obstructions, and how can they be removed?
Freedom is progression without out obstruction. Without Will or Calling we collapse into happenstance; no different than the currents of the ocean or winds of the air. Though we surely will never be free of Influence, we can choose which currents, on what level; to ride. Live deliberately.