"Then when does the soul attain truth?--for in attempting to consider anything in company with the ordinary bodily consciousness she is obviously deceived. "
Plato made it clear that we do not attain truth in our ordinary state of consciousness.
Please read that last sentence very carefully several times, so you can begin to understand the nature of this essay: 1 a dynamic, dialectical interchange between the author and the reader. The essay constitutes an active dialogue.
Dialectical interchange can occur between carnate and/or discarnate beings. For example, in Perennialist meditation and contemplation, dialectical interchange can occur between carnate (living persons) and discarnate (previously living or completely spiritual) beings.
This essay contains highly challenging metaphysical material which requires intense concentration, study of its elements--and intelligent deliberation. The key to this essay cannot be fully expressed in words, but requires that the reader actively enter into the elements (words, images, linkouts, word-changes, etc.) delineated. In other words, this essay cannot be understood unless it is responded to in the correct manner and in the correct spirit.
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The truth contained within this essay is conveyed by the mutual action of the words and the reaction of the reader. The necessary experience occurs by means of a dynamic which takes over at the point where words (Ora) leave off--and the reader responds appropriately (Labora) to apprehend the experience. Hence, while the essay has been deliberately created with the potential for enabling experiential participation in higher consciousness, the results are entirely determined by what kind of response the reader is able to make.
You might want to re-read that last sentence several times.
A Story In Two Parts
Maude was married to Ebeneezer. She always took her pistol with her when she went to the outhouse--so nobody nor no critter would mess with her.
The blackbirds were flying over Ebeneezer's garden casting shadows on the area he'd designated as "sacred," so he got out his revolver, went out to the garden, and revolved.
"This new technique of teaching and learning presents situations which provide the student a certain form of experience that can assist in our self-transformation. Of course the situations do not possess a mechanistic magic; they cannot change us automatically. We must use them in order to explore and transform ourselves. At the same time, however, the form of experience the situations provide can begin to affect us in ways which we may not at first recognize. As we participate in the situational learning experiences, we may find ourselves changing in ways which our old categories and feelings cannot explain."
Norman D. Livergood, "Situational Learning," Humanist Educator, 1977
Plato referred to dialectic as psychagogy: the transporting of the soul to a higher state of consciousness. Both Socrates and the other participants in Plato's dialogues were in an altered state of consciousness. Socrates at times had to work to bring other participants into a heightened state, since they were largely unfamiliar with the experience. But his presence and his actions were able to bring them into this higher state--so much so that the participants sometimes spoke of being entranced, charmed, or bewitched.
Each of us attains a certain level of being and a corresponding state of consciousness. At what level persons have their being determines how much they can perceive and do. Because of the deliberate destruction of education and all other positive features of civilization by malevolent forces, most persons today have their being at level -1. An advanced teacher can, during a dialectical interchange with another person, momentarily bring that person into awareness of her being at the higher levels (levels 3 and 4).
Unable to see or hear what's happening in the world Supporting people who are destroying you
Menon speaking to Socrates: "You seem to me to be a veritable wizard, casting your spells over me, and I am truly getting bewitched and enchanted, and you have stopped my world. And if I may venture to make a jest about you, you seem to me both in your appearance and in your power over others to be very like the flat torpedo fish [electric eel], who torpifies those who come near him and touch him, as you have now stopped my world."
As is clear from the Meno, the Phaedo and other dialogues, Plato believed that we can only discover truth when we are in a state of higher consciousness.
"Must it not, then, be by contemplating in our soul, if at all, that any of the things that possess true being become known to it?
"And surely the soul then contemplates best when none of these things disturb it--neither hearing, nor sight, nor pain, nor pleasure of any kind; but it retires as much as possible within itself, taking leave of the body; and, so far as it can, not communicating or being in contact with it, it aims at the discovery of that which has true being."
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"I have attained the capability of experiencing my own essence within myself, and for me this experience becomes enlarged into another, that in me and through me the universal essence expresses itself, or, in other words, knows itself. Now I can no longer feel myself to be a thing among things; I can only feel myself to be a form in which the universal essence has its life. At any moment I can have the higher experience that I am the form in which the universal essence looks upon itself. Then I myself am transformed from a thing among things into a form of the universal essence--and within me the knowledge of things is changed into an utterance of the nature of things. It is only in creating this higher cognition that man develops his nature, and only through the higher cognition of man does the nature of things come into actual existence."
Perennialist savants 2 often "contemplate in their soul," engaging in dialectical interchange with discarnate Perennialist sages. Here are two examples of contemporary dialectical interchange:
Interchange between a carnate Perennialist Savant and a discarnate Plato
Perennialist Savant: Master Plato, how am I to apprehend and comprehend what you are communicating to me in this interchange in the supersensible domain?
Plato: You apprehend and comprehend what I am communicating to you by discerning (understanding and appreciating) my essence and thereby knowing what I am communicating in any given context. In this extramundane realm we communicate through our essence and we apprehend and comprehend such communication by discerning the essence of the being communicating.
Interchange between two carnate Perennialists
Socrates: Do you experience being in the supersensible realm?
Diotima: When I experience transcendent music (such as Beethoven's Ninth Symphony), or Shakespeare's plays, or Wallace Stevens' poetry, or Jane Austen's novels, I feel a direct awareness of being in a higher realm, of being in a heightened state of consciousness.
Socrates: What was your most profound experience of being in the supersensible realm?
Diotima: When I inadvertently smoked some hashish at a party many years ago (they told me it was a Moroccan cigarette). I heard Debussy's Afternoon Of A Fawn, then wandered through a meadow as a deer, then lay down in the grass as myself, looking up at the stars, realizing the simplicity of the universe; that everything was connected, that it was all one.
Socrates: When we engage in dialectical interchange as we are now, do you have the sense of "being on a trip?"
Diotima: Not with the intensity and noetic quality of the "afternoon of a fawn" trip.
Socrates: Are you aware of the new, unexpected insights and understandings that arise out of our dialectical interchanges?
Diotima: Yes, dialectical interchange requires genuine effort, because among other things it requires digestion?
Socrates: What do you mean by digestion?
Diotima: I can't be bothered to define every word I use in these interchanges! Like digestion. I have to wait to gain complete understanding of some things we arrive at in these dialectical interchanges. Later, I have to reflect on what was said to get the full meaning.
Socrates: You just did what you said you couldn't be bothered to do: you defined the word "digestion." What elements do you experience when you are conscious of being in the supersensible realm?
Diotima: Do you mean in general what do I experience?
Socrates: Yes, that's why I used the word "element," to allow for anything in general.
Diotima: A sense of peace, a feeling of love, an appreciation of beauty, joy.
Socrates: Do you recognize that the supersensible realm must be inhabited by billions of discarnate persons, some of whom are our special favorites, persons whose works have assisted us in gaining an understanding of and consciousness of the supersensible realm?
Diotima: Yes, but we might also be in touch with a "collective unconscious."
Socrates: Jung's "collective unconscious" is a dodge, it seems to me; a way of pretending to refer to an unconscious "consciousness."
You acknowledge receiving inspiration in the process of writing poetry.
Diotima: Yes. At the time of composiion, the full meaning is unknown to me.
Socrates: Part of the essence of inspiration, it seems to me, is receiving unexpected and unanticipated content, whose meaning is revealed through contemplation.
"And so with dialectic; when a person starts on the discovery of the absolute by the light of reason only, and without any assistance of sense, and perseveres until by pure intelligence he arrives at the perception of the absolute good, he at last finds himself at the end of the intellectual world, as in the case of sight at the end of the visible."
Plato, The Commonwealth
We must define the phrase "mystical experience" precisely in this essay, because we're not interested in what many counterfeit mystics and others have believed to be "spiritual" experience or "trips," especially such persons as Teresa of Avila. Mystical experiences, so-called, were for such counterfeit mystics merely an excuse for irresponsible, egomaniacal behavior.
What we're referring to as a shared mystical experience is a heightened state of consciousness which is accompanied by remarkable spontaneity (creative inspiration), an unusually heightened sensitivity and receptivity to other persons and objects, and a feeling of being in another dimension or realm.
"The boundary between my physical self and my surroundings seemed to dissolve and my feeling of separation vanished. . . . I felt as if I had suddenly come alive for the first time--as if I were awakening from a long deep sleep into the real world." (Wendy Rose-Neill)
"I saw that the universe is not composed of dead matter, but is, on the contrary, a living Presence; I became conscious in myself of eternal life. It was not a conviction that I would have eternal life, but a consciousness that I possessed eternal life then; I saw that all men are immortal." (Richard Maurice Bucke)
"I seemed to comprehend the nature of things. I understood that the scheme of the universe was good, not evil as our Western society had taught me as a child; all people were intrinsically good. Neither time nor space existed on this plane." (Claire Myers Owen)
Reported in Colin Wilson, Beyond the Occult
Throughout human history, genuine mystics have described these encounters with another order of reality. If they talk about their experiences at all, mystics use words like "ecstasy," "illumination," and "exaltation"--after confessing that words fail them. Protesting all the while that their sensations cannot be explained, mystics, meditators, and contemplatives of all stripes describe experiences of inspiration, peace, serenity, and all-rightness with the universe; of moving into another order or dimension of consciousness; of fusing in oneness with God, the universe, others, everything, eternity; of transcending time, space, and ego; of being infused with knowledge, recognition, awareness, insight, certainty, illumination; of having a sense of endowment, of gaining more from the experience than they can intellectually comprehend. Watch out if you click on the image above.
"The integral Knowledge is something that is already there in integral Reality: it is not a new or still non-existing thing that has to be created, acquired, learned, invented or built up by the mind; it must rather be discovered or uncovered, it is a Truth that is self-revealed to a spiritual endeavour: for it is there veiled in our deeper and greater self; it is the very stuff of our own spiritual consciousness, and it is by awaking to it even in our surface self that we have to possess it."
Aurobindo, The Life Divine
For any heightened state of consciousness to be positive in its effects, the persons experiencing such an altered condition must possess moral qualities such as self-control, altruism, and responsibility. 3 States of higher consciousness during authentic Platonic dialectic 4 are heady experiences, and challenge a person's moral fiber. It is easy to allow oneself to become irresponsible, presumptuous, self-important, supercilious, or excessively "familiar."
We can explore the impromptu and inspirational dimensions of dialectical interchange by looking at a small snippet of a dialogue between two advanced persons that included this immediate, unpremeditated exchange.
"I am practicing to improve my spontaneity.
"Do not overlook the overlook."
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The spontaneity of dialectic is not, however, mere mindless blathering, bantering, or Freudian free-association of senseless mental effluence. We're learning to use the unfamiliar powers of intuition and inspiration, tapping into content already existent in a higher realm. Dialectic involves allowing this supersensible wisdom to flow through us in an untrammeled and unpremeditated way. Instead of the uprush of crude, raw discharge, we become unobstructed conduits for exalted, resplendent ideas and feelings.
Dialectical interchanges--shared mystical experiences--can occur when two or more persons are interacting through verbal communication, through the interchange between author and reader via written works, or when two or more advanced persons are sharing an experience--such as listening to enlightening music 5 , watching a television program or a movie together, or even separately reading enlightening books in the same room.
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"After long continued interchange between teacher and pupil, in joint pursuit of understanding, suddenly a light is kindled in the teacher's soul by a flame that leaps to the student's soul, and thereafter sustains itself."
Plato, Seventh Letter, 341c
The mystical aspect of dialectic is evidenced by the sudden flash that shines forth, the light that is kindled in one soul which leaps to another and then sustains itself. As a Master--such as Socrates or Plato--creates the dialectical atmosphere and brings his inner wisdom to bear on the shared mystical experience, a literal enlightenment can take place. Such an experience cannot be contrived by merely trying to set up a "debate" or a "philosophical conversation." There must be a real "magician"--a genuine philosopher--present to bring about the flash of intuitive illumination eventuating in attunement with true reality, the "activation of the subtleties." And when two or more magicians engage in Platonic dialect--look out!
Only click on the correct image above if you feel you are an advanced person.
"The 'invisible world' is at all times, at various places, interpenetrating ordinary reality. Things which we take to be inexplicable are in fact due to this intervention. People do not recognize the participation of this "world" in our own, because they believe that they know the real cause of events. They do not.
"It is only when you can hold in your mind the possibility of another dimension sometimes impinging upon the ordinary experiences that this dimension can become available to you." 6