"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."
In this essay we're exploring how to discover, comprehend, and attain true being (το οντοσ ον), as explicated in the Perennial Tradition. It's appropriate in a philosophical essay such as this to explore the meaning and significance of true being, since as Plato says in Book Seven of The Commonwealth: "philosophers must rise out of the sea of change and lay hold of true being."
As there is "true being" so is there "false being." We'll examine what "false being" means, how it manifests in the terrestrial domain, and how to overcome it.
Understanding true being and false being are of primary importance to us, whether we realize it or not. Our life after death will depend entirely on whether or not we achieve true being while in this terrestrial realm. Our current existence depends on whether or not we can understand false being and overcome it--before it destroys us individually and civilization in general. At least ninety-five percent of the human species has been degraded to the status of false being so that the Cave
Mind-Manipulators--the Capitalist Cabal--have seized control of all economic, political, and social systems and are busily destroying the working class. The masses are so mentally, morally, and socially debased that they have even lost the instinct for survival.
"While in our private life nobody except a mad person would remain passive in view of a threat to our total existence, those who are in charge of public affairs do practically nothing, and those who have entrusted their fate to them let them continue to do nothing. . .
"How is it possible that the strongest of all instincts, that for survival, seems to have ceased to motivate us? One of the most obvious explanations is that the leaders undertake many actions that make it possible for them to pretend they are doing something effective to avoid a catastrophe: endless conferences, resolutions, disarmament talks, all give the impression that the problems are recognized and something is being done to resolve them. Yet nothing of real importance happens; but both the leaders and the led anesthetize their consciences and their wish for survival by giving the appearance of knowing the road and marching in the right direction."
Erich Fromm, To Have or To Be?, 1976
We have to look no further for evidence of "false being" than the current situation in America--and the world--presently dominated by totally
But the reality of false being includes much more than immoral, insane beings who are turning our world into a hell-hole of workers being murdered by capitalist billionaires, endemic corruption, joblessness, poverty, homelessness, and military personnel being destroyed by suicide six times more frequently than by military death. False being is actually a form of non-being, as described by Manlius Severinus Boethius (480-524 CE).
"Whatever loses its goodness ceases to be. Thus wicked men cease to be what they were; but the appearance of their human bodies, which they keep, shows that they once were men. To give oneself to evil, therefore, is to lose one's human nature. Just as virtue can raise a person above human nature, so vice lowers those whom it has seduced from the condition of men beneath human nature. For this reason, anyone whom you find transformed by vice cannot be counted a man.
"Although vicious men keep the appearance of their human bodies, they are nevertheless changed into beasts as far as the character of their souls is concerned."
Boethius, the Emboldenment of Philosophy
Boethius claims that persons who give themselves to evil--instead of seeking divinity--actually cease to be. The essence--the very being--of a human is the pursuit of unity with the Primordial Being. To pursue anything other than that goal means that a human does not possess true being.
"Perhaps it may strike some as strange to say that evil men do not exist, especially since they are so numerous; but it is not so strange. For I do not deny that those who are evil are evil; but I do deny that they are, in the pure and simple sense of the term. For just as you may call a cadaver a dead man, but cannot call it simply a man, so I would concede that vicious men are evil, but I cannot say, in an absolute sense, that they exist. For a thing is that which maintains its place in nature and acts in accord with its nature. Whatever fails to do this loses the existence which is proper to its nature."
"Those high and mighty kings you see sitting on high in glory, dressed in purple, surrounded by armed guards, can breathe cruel fury, threaten with fierce words. But if you strip off the coverings of vain honor from those proud men, you will see underneath the tight chains they wear. Lust rules their minds with greedy poisons, rage whips them, vexing their minds to stormy wrath. Sometimes they are slaves to sorrow, sometimes to delusive hope."
Boethius, The Emboldenment of Philosophy
False-being is also the condition that occurs when we allow our soul to be contaminated by its association with the body.
In the Phaedo, Socrates indicates that the soul can become defiled if it allows itself to become obsessed with terrestrial existence.
"When the soul departs from the body it may have been defiled and become impure, because it was always with the body and cared for it and loved it and was fascinated by it and its desires and pleasures, so that it thought nothing was true except the corporeal, which one can touch and see and drink and eat and employ in the pleasures of love. If it is accustomed to hate and fear and avoids that which is intangible and invisible to the eyes but is intelligible and tangible to philosophy, the soul in this condition will depart from mortal existence impure and contaminated."
"The soul may have been interpenetrated with the corporeal which intercourse and communion with the body have made a part of its nature because the body has been its constant companion and the object of its care."
We see persons with "false-being" all around us, persons who refuse to gain awareness or understanding of themselves or the world about them. They accept the myths and delusions of their "manipulators" (as in the Allegory of the Cave). They develop what we call "false personality" and become completely controlled by their debilitating self. What the false personality doesn't realize is that it really has no authentic being, so it couldn't possibly lose an existence it doesn't possess.
For example, presumptuous applicants to a study program sometimes ask (verbally or implicitly): "Why should I decide on this particular program when I don't know if it will benefit me?" The would-be illuminate (the false personality) doesn't realize that he totally lacks the capability of deciding anything--including this. His state of non-being involves his fooling himself into acting or thinking as unconscious forces determine. The only answer to the aspirant's question is to point out his condition to him--which he will likely not take kindly.
From humankind's beginning, there have been pretenders who imitate true being and attempt to redefine true being as:
Machismoism: An exaggerated sense of conformist masculinity placing great value on physical courage, virility, domination of women, and aggressiveness
"The Sophist appears to be a magician and he imitates true being. He does not have true knowledge of the various matters about which he engages in disputation. The sophist is one whose business is imitation and entertainment. He is a conjurer."
The essence of Plato's philosophy was an ongoing battle against exactly the same kind of twisted, unreal, counterfeit world that we presently face. Philosophy--the search for wisdom and truth--arises out of the resistance of the soul to its destruction by a perverted world. The situation Plato faced--and we now face--is the life-or-death of our very being.
"To be deceived or uninformed in the soul about true being means that 'the lie itself' has taken possession of 'the highest part of himself' and steeped it into 'ignorance of the soul.'"
Throughout human history, the masses have allowed themselves to be deluded by their manipulators--never more than at present. Most people today assume that public opinion is trustworthy and true--based on the false belief that there is a veridical consensus reality. Nothing could be further from the truth.
"What is so deceptive about the state of mind of the members of a society is the 'consensual validation' of their concepts. It is naively assumed that the fact that the majority of people share certain ideas or feelings proves the validity of these ideas and feelings. Nothing is further from the truth. Consensual validation as such has no bearing whatsoever on reason or mental health. Just as there is a 'folie a deux' there is a 'folie a millions.' The fact that millions of people share the same vices does not make these vices virtues, the fact that they share so many errors does not make the errors to be truths, and the fact that millions of people share the same forms of mental pathology does not make these people sane."
Erich Fromm, The Sane Society
Persons working within the Perennial Tradition struggle against false-being with the Forces of Light: the Light of Truth, Goodness, Beauty, and Justice. The various facets of this struggle are explicated in these essays:
We have our primordial
2 being in the One Quintessence in the Supersensible Realm. During the brief time that we experience Terrestrial Existence, most of us become totally "entranced" by and identified with our earthly body. The vast majority of us--through social conditioning (family, religion, education)--become nothing but egomaniacs: demented entities possessed by our egos; living only for ourselves; obsessed with mind-destroying activities and pleasures; incapable of genuine feelings for others; uninterested in learning, understanding, or developing to a higher state of true being.
(Click on image for explanation.)
God, the Creator, the One Quintessence, is beyond being or non-being, since this Ultimate Reality created being and existence. The realm of mortal existence is within the realm of true being and within the reality of God, the One Quintessence.
The human soul is immortal while the human body is mortal. The terrestrial phase of mortal existence is a school in which we can learn to attain True Being. We are placed within the sense-world so that we have the opportunity to activate the requisite faculties that lead to genuine participation in the world of higher, unitive being and consciousness: True Being.
"The philosopher . . . whose mind is fixed upon true being, is not obsessed with the affairs of the terrestrial world. He is not filled with malice and envy, contending against others. His eye is ever directed towards immutable entities [persons, objects, Forms, and events] in the supersensible realm, which neither injure nor are injured by one another, but all harmonizing in an orderly fashion according to Reason. The philosopher imitates these persons, objects, and events, and conforms himself to them as best he can. A true philosopher cannot help patterning himself on those with whom he holds reverential dialectical interchange. And if he is called upon to fashion the archetype of a true Commonwealth he will construct it of those elements which he perceives in the higher realm of Forms: goodness, justice, and every civil virtue. To be of the highest quality, a State must be designed by a philosophical artist who is inspired to structure it according to the heavenly archetype."
Plato, The Commonwealth, Book 7
The lover and seeker of wisdom focuses his attention on persons, objects, Forms, and events in the supersensible world and then attempts to fashion terrestrial existence in the same loving, harmonious, orderly manner.
The Perennialist teacher, Jesus of Nazareth, referred to this same endeavor:
"I assure you that the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. What the Son does is always modeled on what the Father does, for the Father loves the Son and shows him everything that he does himself." John 5:19
A true philosopher, Plato says, patterns himself and his life on those non-mortal beings with whom he engages in "reverential dialectical interchange." This is another reason why dialectic is of such importance, because it is the only method (either in its
inner, meditative form or its social discourse mode) that enables us to gain a genuine understanding of "that which has true being and ascertaining what each thing is in its own nature." [Commonwealth 7]
In his dialogue, The Sophist, Plato asserts that we have bodily existence in the realm of generation or change and we have supersensible being in our soul, through conception of Forms. Entities in the realm of Forms always retain the same essence, whereas entities in the realm of generation or becoming vary and change. The domain of Forms is the realm of True Being.
When we pass from the transcendental world to the domain of mortal existence, we lose remembrance of our prior being in the extramundane realm. Also, as Plato says in the Phaedo, "every pleasure and pain is like a rivet which fastens the soul to the body, pinning it down, leading us to identify with the body and accepting as true whatever the body certifies."
"A human must gain comprehension of Forms, and be able to proceed from the many particulars of sense to a unified conception within Reason--this is the recollection of those things which our soul once experienced while abiding with God--when regardless of that which we now call mortal existence she raised her head up among true beings. And therefore the mind of the philosopher alone has wings; and this is just, for he is always, relative to the extent of his abilities, clinging in recollection to those things in which God abides, and in experiencing which God is what He is. And he who employs aright these memories is continually being initiated into Higher Mysteries and alone becomes truly perfect. But, as he forgets earthly interests and is rapt in the divine, the vulgar deem him mad, and rebuke him; they do not see that he is inspired."
Plato says that through philosophy (the search for and love of wisdom 3) we can achieve anamnesis--remembrance or recollection of our pre-corporeal being in the supersensible realm. It is necessary to comprehend Forms by recollecting our experience prior to terrestrial existence--when we had true being with God in the supersensible realm. God is what He is because He experiences the world of Forms. As we put to use our remembrance of pre-terrestrial experience in the supersensible domain, we achieve initiation into "Higher Mysteries," achieving perfection progressively. As with the awakened one in the Allegory of the Cave, we can expect to be ridiculed and set upon by the non-seeing cave-dwellers and the "manipulators" who cast the shadows (lies and fantasies) on the cave wall which the ignorant masses mis-take for reality.
Plato speaks of "ordinary reality" as a "twilight world" and the higher world which only seekers of wisdom (philosophers) can discern, as "the truth," "the real world," and "true being." Achieving true being is not only a form of comprehension, it is a process of realizing, of creating oneself and other entities. Bringing to reality our "true being" enables us to become increasingly and persistently aware of and living in a Higher, Spiritual Realm.
Plotinus taught that the soul need not regret her contact with matter and body if she does not allow herself to become totally enmeshed in carnal existence. It is a part of the divine order that humans come to dwell in mortal bodies, just as a seed must be buried in the ground. The soul descends into the terrestrial realm to become germinated, quickened, so she may experience a new birth, a resurrection of her latent faculties at a higher level of capability.
Our experience of mortal life in the terrestrial domain appears to be essential to our eternal development. During earthly existence we are given the opportunity to gain awareness of our Higher Self--that is, our eternal being in the supersensible domain. The Higher World of eternal being contains all humans who have previously existed on the terrestrial plane--estimated to be 108 billion. The world population at the present time is 7.1 billion.
What we discover as philosophers, when we both recall our prior experience in the supersensible domain before human birth, and when we engage at present in dialectical interchange with discarnate beings in that higher world, is a host of persons who love one another, live together in complete harmony, and abide by the constraints of elemental moral principles.
"Love is an art; if we want to learn how to love we must proceed in the same way we have to proceed if we want to learn any other art."
"The mastery of the art [of loving] must be a matter of ultimate concern; there must be nothing else in the world more important than the art."
"The ability to love as an act of giving depends on the character development of the person. It presupposes the attainment of a predominantly productive orientation; in this orientation the person has overcome dependency, narcissistic omnipotence, the wish to exploit others, or to hoard, and has acquired faith in his own human powers, courage to rely on his powers in the attainment of his goals."
Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving
We Must Achieve True Understanding To Attain True Being
We must first understand what true understanding is. We truly understand only when we comprehend when we do NOT understand, but think we understand, and when we understand truly. Plato taught that in order to understand we must become aware of our
ignorance--not understanding something--and double ignorance--not understanding something but delusively believing we understand it.
"Understanding is the life of the heart, which delivers it from the death of ignorance."
Thaqafi (Perennialist adept)
The lack of true understanding--double ignorance--is actually a form of death. If you honestly want to understand yourself and assiduously examine your erroneous beliefs and those areas where you are ignorant (lacking in understanding), you may be able to bring yourself back from the dead by discovering your fatal ignorance which led you to embrace falsehood and deliberately turn away from truth. This essay encourages you to begin investigating your fatal lack of true understanding and overcome it.
At present, the majority of people have no authentic desire to understand. They're content to believe what the capitalist cabal programs them to believe. They have no genuine interest in knowing whether a particular understanding is true or not. The human condition has degenerated to the point where ignorance--lack of true understanding--and double ignorance--believing you have true understanding when you don't--are actually in fashion.
Most persons today consider themselves to be the center of the universe: the most important person in the world on whom all their attention and concern should focus. Such non-persons have no interest in understanding, do not care to know if their "understanding" (programmed beliefs) are true or not, and see no difficulty with the general lack of understanding throughout the world leading to catastrophe.
"When the soul's gaze is fixed upon an object irradiated by truth and reality, the soul gains understanding and knowledge and is manifestly in possession of intelligence. But when it looks towards that twilight world of things that come into existence and pass away, its sight is dim and it has only opinions and beliefs which shift to and fro. . . "
Plato, The Commonwealth
Can We Overcome False Being In Time to Save Our Civilization?
The preponderance of false-being is fast becoming an overewhelming "flood of evil" throughout the world, so that we are rapidly approaching one of those moments in human history when evil must be erased from the face of the earth.
"The need for profound human change emerges not only as an ethical or religious demand, not only as a psychological demand arising from the pathogenic nature of our present social character, but also as a condition for the sheer survival of the human race. Right living is no longer only the fulfillment of an ethical or religious demand. For the first time in history the physical survival of the human race depends on a radical change of the human heart. However, a change of the human heart is possible only to the extent that drastic economic and social changes occur that give the human heart the chance for change and the courage and vision to achieve it."
Erich Fromm, To Have Or To Be?
The primary question of this age is whether or not human beings will awaken to their evil plight and develop sufficient true understanding to take control of their lives, creating a true Commonwealth in which all are equal and society operates for the fulfillment of all citizens.
"Not . . . until popular government had been made possible by the diffusion of intelligence was the world ripe for the realization of such a form of society. Until that time the idea, like the soul waiting for a fit incarnation, must remain without social embodiment. Selfish rulers thought of the masses only as instruments for their own aggrandizement, and if they had interested themselves in a more exact organization of industry it would only have been with a view of making that organization the means of a more complete tyranny. Not till the masses themselves became competent to rule was a serious agitation possible or desirable for an economic organization on a co-operative basis."