Synthesis: Reflections on the Journey

January 7, 2014 § 44 Comments

By: Tai CarmenCurtain-Call, site credit: www.millstonenews.com/2013/05/synthesis-ii-fibre-art-show-opens-may-9-2013

“We don’t receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us.” ~ Marcel Proust 

“The only journey is the one within”. ~ Rainer Marie Rilke

The turn of another year inspires reflection on what has come before.

When I first started Parallax three years ago, I didn’t know what the theme would be. I wasn’t sure if anyone would care about the topics that interested me, or indeed, if I had anything interesting to say. I had only a vague feeling—a multitude of disconnected puzzle pieces floating around inside me, like dots begging to be connected.

Damien Hirst, dots, site credit: www.thelmagazine.com/TheMeasure/archives/2011/08/08/damien-hirst-to-connect-his-dot-paintings-around-the-world

I had one focal point, and it became the source of my first entry: “The Role of the Dreamer & the Falseness of Civilization,” inspired by a stop light. I realized how automatic my response had been upon seeing the amber traffic light turn red: foot on break, like a trained animal. Then the light changed to green and without conscious thought my foot obediently pressed upon the gas.

In that moment, I wondered what else I had been conditioned to accept that had become automatic—even intimate—to my functioning, which was the product of some external system. I saw that my experience with the traffic light—my unconscious conditioning—was a metaphor for society at large.

"they live" still, site credit: www.streetdemocracy.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/the-signing-of-peaceful-protesting-laws-first-uk-then-spain-now-egypts-interim-president-adly-mansour-signs-anti-protest-law/

The blog soon became my shared in-process journey connecting the dots, many of which (of course!) remain unconnected. Yet, a picture emerges…

I began to see a coherence to the topics, which at first seemed merely a loose, eclectic collection of curiosity-driven investigations.

Connecting the Dots, site credit: www.artisautobiographical.blogspot.com/2012/03/connecting-dots-differently

A theme began to crystallize. I realized I was trying to mentally pan back—to accurately perceive a reality, which I had witnessed for so many years that I had ceased to truly see it. Familiarity seems to breed a kind of trance state of assumptions. I began to attempt to deconstruct society as I knew it—imagining what our world would like like to an alien observer (“The Mad Cult of the World”) with no preconceived notions. This excercise was a tremendous eye-opener for me.

What I saw was a well oiled machine. An (apparently) self-perpetuating system of control, with built-in reinforcements & viscous cycles so as to appear both inescapable & desirable.

john-kane-i-had-an-epiphany-new-yorker-cartoonI observed how conformity & consumer-based lifestyles that feed the system—and increase people’s wage-slave circumstance with debt & emotional dependence on external status—are marketed & reinforced constantly from every angle (“Invisible Architects,“The Engineering of Human Desire,“Mind Control in the Music Industry,” “The Perversion of the American Dream”)…

How our natural instinctual herd mentality & desire for acceptance (The Mythology of Conformity: Totem & Taboo) is exploited by marketing to create a climate of uniformity (The Politics of Normalcy), where independent thought that jeopardizes the status quo (“Polarity & Paradox”) is not given a widespread platform of expression.

I began to realize that my feelings of alienation within mainstream society were not necessarily indications of personal failing, but perhaps symptomatic of a larger imbalance within the system.

conformity

As Krishnamurti says, “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society” (“The Outsider” ).

I became convinced that positive social change, in fact, could only come from an outsider, because only someone looking in from the outside could see the problems for what they were (“The Outsider As Visionary”, “The Art of Madness”).

looking-at-world, site credit: www.louisdietvorst.wordpress.com/tag/world/

 I became interested in the idea of personal authenticity (“Authenticity & The False Self”) as the path towards true self-knowledge, beyond social conditioning. For I believe we can only incite true social change—contribute positively to society— when we have processed our own shadows (“Navigating the Dark Night of the Soul,”) and begun to piece together our true selves, which have been fragmented by a compartmentalized system (“Soul Retrieval”). 

As I became more conscious of my personal journey (“The Modern Vision Quest,” “The Question of Reality, “The Human Soul & The Floating Man,” “The Art of Seeing,”) I began to explore my own thoughts, feelings & direct experiences with reality. The further down the rabbit hole I went, the more the dots seemed to connect. And it felt different to come to these ideas in a visceral way—through personal gnosis—than through reading the ideas of other minds. I only used their works to substantiate my own discoveries, and offer what I hoped would be interesting background to the topics which most compelled me.

connect-the-dots

As I wrote on these subjects, I received—wonder of wonders!—a positive response from readers (you guys!), which reflected back to me that I was actually speaking to subjects which were not just in my heart, on my mind, alone, but were also meaningful to others. I actually acquired readers at all, which itself is both humbling & thrilling.

Your feedback is what keeps this blog going. To know I am not dropping letters into a well but actually contributing to the collective conversation has shown me that these subjects, which at first seemed so disconnected, are truly on our collective mind—and truly form a cohesive picture.

Global connection, site credit: www.thebrooklynscribbler.blogspot.com/2011/12/meet-your-creative-needs-with.html

The idea put forth by British Zen philosopher Alan Watts in the 60s that “[We] are an aperture through which the universe is looking at and exploring itself,” later re-popularized in the 80s by American astrophysicist Carl Sagan—“We are a way for the cosmos to know itself”—was actually first developed in its modern form by 18th century German philosopher George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.

Hegel contended that Spirit was at first unconscious of Itself. (Hegel’s use of “Spirit” is a translation of the German word “Geist,” a nonreligious term, not comparable to our English word for “God,” but a neutral term, mingled with the idea of “transpersonal mind” & “essence”.) He called this stage of unconscious Spirit the Thesis stage.

Cosmic Man, site credit: www.tsgarp-mysticlight.blogspot.com/2012_02_05_archive.html

At one point,  Spirit-exploring-itself-through-Man became conscious of existing.

The self-aware man looked around (or Spirit looked around through Man’s eyes) seeing himself and others—others who might be similar to him, but were not him. And the newly self-aware man defined himself through this negation. In short, he knew himself in part by what he wasn’t: the other. He looked at the world and saw many, a multi-facetted prism. He saw division. Those who were not him were perceived as foreign, alien, other—often, too, inevitably, as “enemy.”

This was Antithesis stage.

by: Francisco_de_Goya, "Two Men Fighting with Clubs"

Eventually, as man’s time on the planet progressed, a few, rare introspective humans—specifically, for Hegel, the philosopher—became aware of the interconnectivity of all life-forms (“Connectivity Through Form”), at which point he perceived Self in Other (a hallmark throughout all mystical literature of enlightenment) and became self-realized. The prism revealed itself to be—while multi-faceted in appearance—in essence, a single diamond.

This was the Synthesis stage—where thesis & antithesis, two apparent opposites, merged & integrated to form a more complete truth.

Polarity by Jair Rhuÿs, site credit: www.absolutearts.com/cgi-bin/portfolio/art/your-art.cgi?login=rhuys&title=Polarity-1118522979t.jpg

I believe we are currently experiencing the growing pains of collectively & individually moving—shifting—into a Thesis stage of existence (“Transformation, Destruction & The Inner Apocalypse“). That is where my studies thus far have lead me.  (“Starseeds, Cosmic Consciousness & The Galactic Generations,” “Stardust Contemplating Stardust: Inner Space & The Science of Illumination”).

There are many fighting this emerging connectivity. But there are an increasing number straining towards it. Some, only half-consciously, as I was when I first began this blog—driven only by a vague sense of discontent & yearning. As Morpheus tells Neo in The Matrix: “Something is wrong with this world, you’ve known it all your life, you don’t know what it is. It’s like a splinter in your mind … driving you mad.”

Still others, aware & awake through their own process of trail, error & self-discovery, are fighting for the cause: of reverence for life & planetary harmony.

The Fear Culture of the media news may tell you otherwise, but I—perhaps you, and so many others—are beginning to tear down the facade like a paper sky and see it for what it is: the attempts of a system under threat to maintain control through division, traumatization & uncertainty.

Practical Paranoia, by Mike Elko, site credit: www.blog.lib.umn.edu/peza0001/arts1001wednesdays/2008/11/millions_of_innocent_accidents

I perceive this as a time—intense & trying as it may be—of integration for many. We are all connecting the dots. Feeling more connected to one another, across space & time, even while we may still experience major bouts of isolation…we see that we are not alone in our strange (or not so strange) thoughts & visions. If through the advancement of technology alone.

We are a mere Google search away from learning, for example, that the long-dead Hegel’s complete life philosophy beautifully articulates that intuition we could not quite put to words; or perhaps that blogger you’ve never met, but read sometimes, has been mulling over the same insights you’ve been contemplating on your journey.

And it is a journey. (“Alchemy: An Allegorical Map for the Transmutation of Consciousness.“) No doubt about it. Complete with dragons to slay, puzzles to solve & dark forests in which we must, by virtue of necessity, learn to generate our own inner light to illuminate the path ahead.

site credit: www.awesomedigitalart.tumblr.com/post/60796504639/polarity-in-art-fraility-of-memory-and

We are heroes and heroines scaling Dark Nights of the Soul like mountains … swimming rivers of sorrow, where we reach dry land of revelation & new strength. Each trial, an initiation, each passage, a threshold into new insight, if we continue to search for the lesson, for the center, for the truth. Nothing is wasted. We can use it all.

Happy 2014, fellow journeyers! I would love to know what you think about all this! All comments on this first post of the new year—as has become Parallax tradition!—will be entered into a drawing, the winner of which will receive my current heart-compass book-companion,  “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…And It’s All Small Stuff,” By Richard Carlson, Ph. D: a slim inspirational little easy-read manual for transcending postmodern angst and tapping into inner peace.

Here’s to the journey, fellow travelers.

On on!

TC

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§ 44 Responses to Synthesis: Reflections on the Journey

  • Happy New Year TC,
    I was sitting with two friends of different minds and I asked them, What’s your idea about this strange world? The first said, We are guests to the home of God and we should be polite guests and bring a present before leaving. The second said, Don’t say we are guests; we are the owner of the home and we should regulate it as we think; in our home we are free to do any thing we like; nothing compels us to do any thing. I said, It is not the home of God or our home; it is a prison; the only thing we can do is to imagine and dream; this cosmos is bigger than our fancy.
    Your essay is a good tour in different sects of culture. Thanks!

    • Tai Carmen says:

      Happy New Year to you!!

      I like your first guest’s approach, and I really think you all have your points. But the idea that we are borrowing these bodies (after all, they will eventually be taken from us, if by nothing else than Time!) is undeniable… therefore, to me, there is an undeniable “guest” aspect to living in this world due to its temporary nature. I can also see your friend’s point of view that we can do whatever we want ~ but we must be prepared for the consequences. And the first guest’s attitude, I feel, breeds a more respectful worldview, wherein we are trying to discern how best we can serve ~ good for everyone! And full of grace. Which feels good!

      I can also identify with your feeling that it is a prison. At times, society and life at large can indeed feel this way. Though it’s important, I believe, to find redemption in the little gratitudes…all the little graces. I like to think of this excerpt from a beautiful poem by Frederick Langbridge when speaking of this sort of perspective question:

      Two men looked out from prison bars
      one saw mud
      the other saw stars

      May this year grace you with unexpected gifts!

      On on,

      TC

  • well written & thought out. it seems we’re at the point where the psyche must catch up to science and technology, we’ve no sustainable path left to take as a species. keep writing – this is great. cheers – kLr

    • Tai Carmen says:

      Thank you, Kevin!

      Agreed. I almost wrote this post zeroing in on that exact subject — balancing our humanity with our technology — but went with a review theme instead. Still, you’ll probably see a post focusing on that subject in the near future here. More proof that we are all dew drops vibrating on the same web (Indra’s Net!) tuning into the same wavelength of what seems to be “the matters at hand!”

      May the year bring you good fortune & grace!

      On on,
      TC

  • Michael Gilman says:

    Thanks for reminding me… I’m not alone. Great post.
    mGilman

    • Tai Carmen says:

      It’s my honor! We are all here to help remind each other, I think. You are definitely not alone. :)

      May the year bring you gifts of kinship, grace & inspiration!

      On on,

      TC

      • Michael Gilman says:

        Indeed we are.

        The grace we bring from within ourselves (May the wind stay beneath your wings). Inspiration, the laughing child who peeks at us behind our own curtains of distraction. May we see more of her, remembering to fling open the windows and let her in. Kinship… if the circle completed this year it would be a beautiful thing.

        We probably have a lower degree of separation than we both know. But that’s a strange tale for another time.

        Love the thoughts and writing. A beautiful New Year to you and yours.

        MG

      • Tai Carmen says:

        A beautiful, poetic & apt picture of inspiration. May we see more of her, indeed!

        Thank you! And may the same wind lift your flight as well, fellow traveller.

        I think we are all more connected than we consciously know. :) But we are beginning to feel it in our hearts…!

        A beautiful new year to you as well.

        On on!

        TC

  • Alan says:

    A brilliant synthesis on synthesis. I recently read Bucke’s 19th-century classic “Cosmic Consciousness,” which explores this budding third phase of man by examining a few of humanity’s most enlightened individuals. A great book.

    De Chardin’s idea of the Omega Point parallels the Hegelian dialectic, suggesting that consciousness in the universe moves to higher and higher states of organization toward an ultimate end point. This is also echoed in Kevin Kelly’s “What Technology Wants.”

    It is indisputable that we are in a global crisis and it seems we’re headed toward a crucial turning point in civilization where we will either die or be reborn, 2001-like, into something complete new. Technology will play a role in this but consciousness must take the lead.

    To some extent I feel like a puppet or an actor or a prisoner, as the speaker said above — part of me is fascinated and excited to witness and participate in a great transformation, but part of me is impatient for the next stage, like a gamer ready for the next level, and wonders why this whole evolutionary game must be played out at all and why people have to suffer and die in the process.

    • Tai Carmen says:

      Beautifully said, Alan. Thank you for your thoughtful & mind-expanding comment!

      I will definitely have to check out “Cosmic Consciousness.” Sounds like a “must read” classic for this thread of study! I love Chardin & will have to look further into his concept of the Omega point.

      Certainly consciousness *must* take the lead—agreed!

      I, too, feel very much like a gamer who keeps almost breaking through to the next level, but constantly finds themselves falling through some trap door back into the same old level…though it is not quite the same…almost a micro-advancement, I want to say “half” a level up, or a parallel level that is slightly “higher” than the last but still not a full level up, as would feel like a definite “gear shift”…And I think a lot of us are experiencing this sense of being on the threshold, working very hard at moving through it, but continuing to feel a bit like we are treading water. I think it is because as a collective we are in this pre-passageway limbo. A simultaneously frustrating & exciting time be part of the human experience.

      I like the gaming metaphor. It captures my developing concept of the relationship between a person’s soul/spirit/higher awareness and their conscious human personality: I like to think of the soul as the gamer, in the seat of the timeless/eternal, and the human personality who exists in the world is the avatar, controlled by the gamer/soul, which exists in a larger reality…though the avatar believes itself to be on the journey alone. At first. Then it starts to “wake up” to the fact that the reality landscape is full of tests & puzzles…then it starts to reach for something greater to help it through…and perhaps makes contact with its origin, the “gamer”/soul, which is really in the seat of power.

      I believe part of passing the first level is awakening to the avatar-matrix-esque nature of our reality & making contact with the higher level soul/gamer…which dramatically increases one’s effectiveness in the world for the obvious reason of an allegiance with a power in the world beyond the world.

      This theory is still in development. But I share in-process thoughts, inspired by your mention of the “gamer” analogy. :)

      On on!

      TC

      • Alan says:

        I was recently re-watching ‘The Game’ (dir. David Fincher), and it certainly has some of these metaphysical overtones. It’s a great commentary on life as an arena for transformation, regardless of what is or is not ultimately true.

        Thanks again for a great post. I will be on the lookout for more!

        Alan

      • Tai Carmen says:

        I remember really liking The Game & feeling it had extra dimensions beyond just a sensationalist plot….! Allegorical… metaphorical … Will have to re-watch it sometime soon!

        Thank you for the kind words. :)
        On on!

        TC

  • Cam says:

    Welcome back, Tai! I’ve definitely missed your insights and hope they continue to flow :)

    • Tai Carmen says:

      Thanks, Cam! Yes! I aim to get more posts in this year, to be sure. One of my new year’s goals. ;)

      So glad the post hit home.

      May the new year bring you all good things!

      On on,

      TC

  • Ken Baden says:

    Very well written! A great start to 2014!!! Cheers! Ken :)

    • Tai Carmen says:

      Thank you, Ken! I’m so glad you think so. Honored to help start the New Year out on the right foot…!

      *Cheers*
      On on!

      TC

  • Minhaj Khan says:

    haven’t read this blog in a while and just caught up on a few of your recent posts. fascinating and inspiring material.

    • Tai Carmen says:

      Thank you for the kind words, Minhaj! I appreciate knowing the material strikes a resonant chord. More to come!

      On on!

      TC

  • citizenphil says:

    Hi Carmen, I discover your site not too long ago. I’m still in the process of reading. But I wanted to tell you that you are not shouting down a well shaft. Quite the contrary. What I’ve discovered on your pages is fascinating and most of the time validating. I now feel less lonely. Philippe

    • Tai Carmen says:

      I’m so glad to hear that, Philippe. The path of the seeker, and the sensitive, is often a solitary one. But it doesn’t have to be lonely…When you realize how connected you are with an ongoing conversation between fellow thinkers, feelers & dreamers across time & space.

      May the new year bring you an increasing sense of connectivity!

      On on,

      TC

  • Karol says:

    This is fabulous, comforting and inspiring! I am in awe of your gift of being able to put together, so beautifully, the very complex thoughts of many. Not feeling in “sync” with what is can be disconcerting, but you connecting those proverbial dots, gives a sense of peace, and that is very gratifying! Wishing you good things always!

    • Tai Carmen says:

      Thank you so much, Karol. I’m so gratified to hear that I can achieve my aim in this way. Thank you for letting me know. It can feel isolating to be out of sync with the status quo…And I want to be part of spreading that realization that we sensitives who are “out of sync” with what is, essentially, a terribly corrupt society—in terms of being very far from its highest potential, very desensitized & off center—are actually in sync with a greater cosmic-planetary rhythm…the natural rhythm of Intelligent Consciousness (our collective & individual self-awareness) straining to right itself & realize itself, harmonize & balance itself… nudge the bud of human evolution into a more expansively unfolding blossom.

      I wish all good things to you!
      May the new year bring you joy, kinship, inspiration (lots of dot connecting!) peace ~ and unexpected gifts!!

      On on,

      TC

  • Lauren says:

    Love this wonderful summary ~ as always, you manage to capture so beautifully what I have swirling around in my head, but find difficult to put into words. You have a great talent for collecting consciousness – making it easy to understand and a joy to read. Thank you!

    • Tai Carmen says:

      Thank you so much for this meaningful comment, Lauren. “Collecting consciousness…” I love that line. It feels like what I’m trying to do for sure. It feels like a bunch of us have all this “swirling” (again, a great word for it!) around inside us… myself included…I notice so many of my friends going through similar trials, transformations & having similar insights, which are often just on the tips of our tongues, half-articulated…

      So it seems there is a collective re-patterning or realization absolutely at work. As a writer, I am compelled to tease out exactly what it is as best I can…though words are such limited symbolic representation for the actual multi-leveled experiences we are going through—they are all we have to communicate our inner worlds to one another, so I enjoy the challenge and find tremendous satisfaction in hearing I have successfully given voice to these “inner swirls.”

      It is an honor to, in some small way, encourage this conversation!

      On on!
      TC

  • Dustin says:

    Wow! I loved how you linked the old articles into this and wove them together. As I’ve read most if not all it really left a great overall impression of your works so far.

  • batgurrl says:

    I have a few words that seem so simple but yet so hard to follow. Be here now.

    You help me remember these important things Tai. R

    • Tai Carmen says:

      Thank you, batgurrl, I’m honored to be a reminder of that absolutely essential touchstone.

      The truth is often simple—yet the hardest to put into action! I agree: presence is absolutely the key. And *this moment* is the only place we can do anything. All that is real & true.

      Simplicity, I believe, is a hallmark of truth. If it’s too convoluted & cerebral, we know the intellect has been tinkering with a perfectly good profound simplicity. :)

      Thanks for your offering…it really sums up the goal of the path, which, put into action, can & is revolutionizing the world — so caught up in future plans & past regrets too many have become checked-out entirely from the present, our point of power.

      To be mentally projected into the past or the future, as Eckhart Tolle points out so pointedly, is absolutely a form of madness.

      On on!!

      TC

      Thanks for bringing us back to center, batgurrl….these three words compose the key, I believe, to unlock all the next level revelations we seek.

    • Tai Carmen says:

      batgurrl….!

      You won the draw! Not only that, I picked your name TWICE in a row. So the book is really meant to go to you. The first pick I did just casually…eyes closed but not really focusing. Got you. Thought: Well, I didn’t really center first. I should probably treat this more like a tarot reading and center first, really put all my energy into being a clear vessel, etc. So I did a more conscious draw…thinking secretly if I got you again it would be super-affirmative…and YEP! Got you the second time, too. Out of 15 + names!

      Congratulations. You are apparently destined to be the proud new owner of “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff …. And It’s All Small Stuff.” Where can I send your prize?

      TC

      • batgurrl says:

        Tai – I am speechless how this all worked out. I have read this book quite a while back so I have a special destination for your gift.

        My friend opened a bookstore yesterday and when she retired she gave me a gift. It was a book on Hawaiian quilting (she knows I quilt). While she was working on her store the night before her last day at work this book fell out of the shelves & she said it belonged to me.

        So, I want to return the favor to her with this special book. There are forces in this world we can’t explain but rather we need to move with the serendipity of it. Thank you so much for this honor.

        Her store is:

        Books or Books
        3460 E Sunset Rd #R
        Las Vegas, NV 89120

  • Gulliver says:

    Thanks TC, i appreciate your respect for deep reflection into the mosaic of individual existence and the questioning of this global cult’ure gone haywire. Your entries are always provoking in the best of ways.

    • Tai Carmen says:

      Thanks for the positive reinforcement, Gulliver!

      “Cult’ure,” I like that! I’ve been mulling the connection between cult & culture for a while now & that hybrid sums it up perfectly. :D

      A mosaic it certainly is. Beautifully said.

      I appreciate your appreciation. Fuel for my heart to keep sharing my process on this journey.

      On on, brave pioneer!

      TC

  • bert0001 says:

    Great post summarizing your journey, and a lot of mine. Would you mind a reblog?

  • bert0001 says:

    Reblogged this on who is bert and commented:
    An extremely interesting article by Tai Carmen, on het website:

    http://taicarmen.wordpress.com

  • Kade says:

    Your clarity in describing the facets of your journey is truly beautiful. I see so much of my own journey in your reflections. I hope the new year brings you more beautiful light. Thank you for sharing.

    • Tai Carmen says:

      Oh, thank you, Kade! It is my hope to give voice to a collective emergence. So I appreciate hearing this very much. It’s interesting how venturing into the vulnerable landscape of sharing one’s personal process seems to bare tremendous gifts of interpersonal unity…as Anaïs Nin said, “The personal, if taken deep enough, becomes universal.” I’m so thrilled to hear this post accomplished that for you.

      And may the new year bring you beautiful, clear light upon your path as well! Thank you for that uplifting intention. :)

      On on!

      TC

  • blogalexg says:

    Reblogged this on blogalexg and commented:
    Beautiful!

  • neketa0824 says:

    Man, oh man! I just found your blog…I am SO following it from now on, lol! Talk about sychronicity :) You seem like you’ve got lots of food for thought spanning these pages; I’m going to take this weekend to stuff myself silly.

    • Tai Carmen says:

      Fantastic!

      Thanks for your comment, Neketa.

      Glad you found us. And *love* that it was a synchronistic find!

      I so enjoy knowing that my blog is being enjoyed like a delicious & nutritious mental/emotional treat. It is certainly my hope & aim to supply such thought-food. So thank you for letting me know! :)

      On on, fellow journeyer!

      TC

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