Thursday, November 11, 2010

Holism and Evolution

I have a friend who has a friend who accused me of being just an "intellectual".  I accepted the compliment, remembering that around the turn of the 20th century in heated philosophical debates over Mind and Brain, in America and in Europe, with players such as the great William James at Harvard, Borden Bowen at Boston University on "our" team, deep thinkers were dismissed as "metaphysicians."  Being "too metaphysical" got you laughed out of the discussions.  I filed this "compliment" away until on reading Jan Christiaan Smut's book Holism and Evolution (which launched the holistic health movement) written in 1925 contained the thoughts recorded below about the evolution of Mind, on which the greatest whole of wholes, human Personality, is built as superstructure. Without the stuff of Mind, my friend of my friend would have no stuff to work up into the language she may so thoughtlessly take for granted. My every word is an autobiography of my magnificent Yogic Self. My Atman shines most clearly in, as and through my use, misuse and abuse of myself (mind) linguistically.  I reveal and conceal the most of myself (unconscious) in my most habitual talk.  I cannot walk my walk, unless I talk my talk.  Evolution out of the spirit of Holistic Nature will not allow it.  Naming is my most powerful game.  But whatever I call a thing, or person, or situation, that it is not.  It is I disguised by my own self-ignoration and all my language can ever mean, or signify, or point to is its very author, Me.  Whatever is, perfectly is.
  Jan Smuts, was a twice-term Prime Minister of South Africa and the only Prime Minister until Nelson Mandela to stand against Apartheid.  Reverencing individuality, he courageously wrote the theory of Wholes and as I read it I guessed he was subverting the old order.  Haunting his prose I wonder if he is silently, brilliantly asking for Reason (Intellect) to justify the enslaving of an entire African race and in 1925 on what grounds?
  I do not wish to change my friend's friend's mind only to grow consciously my own.  And so I read and read and read.  And noticed I the hiding res in the words real, reason and reading.  Res, the thing itself is the common pool out of which all of my psychic energy and my living it comes.  I read myself only in whatever I read, including my friend and my friend's friend.  When I am trying to read your mind, whose mind am I really reading but mine own and how startling to discover my lack of appreciation for my own esteemed being, by my easy, quick dismissal of any part of it as if it were "only". Here is the text:
   Without Mind, the organic and regulative process of the universe, vast and magnificent in any case, would have been best but a tame affair.  The universe would have moved forward, as it were in a dream, with unearthly regularity and majesty of movement.  Its process would have become ever more complicated and ever more frictionless, as of some sublime animated machine, great beyond all power of conception.  All elements of discord and disharmony would have passed away from its vast cosmic routine.
   But it would have gone on sublimely unconscious of itself. It would have had no soul or souls.  It would have harboured no passionate exaltations; no poignant regrets or bitter sorrows would have disturbed its profound peace.  For it neither the great lights not the deep shadows.
   Truth, Beauty, and Goodness would have been there, but unknown, unseen, unloved.  They would have been cold and passionless like the distant stars and would never have become the great ideals thrilling and inspiring men and women to deathless action.  Love would have been there, but not that immortal emotion which mortals call by that name.
   Into that great dream-garden of Eden, Mind, the Disturber has entered, and with Mind sin and sorrow, faith and love, the great vision of knowledge and the conscious effort to master all hampering conditions and to work out the great redemption.
   To the Music of the universe there has thus been added a new note, as of laughter and tears, a new undertone of the human, which transforms and enriches all the rest. It is no longer a song of the Golden Reign of the Elder Gods, but of the intertwining of the Cosmos with human Destiny, of the suffering which has become consecrated and illuminated by the great visions, of the magic power of knowledge to work out new enchantments to break the dumb routine, to set the captive spirit free, and to blaze new paths to the immortal Goal. Mind has thus added infinity of light and shade and color, of inward character and conscious content to the great process in and from which it has emerged.
   Without Mind, the universe would have been an altogether dull affair, however unimaginably grand in other respects.  Even its aberrations have been woven into the new harmonies. Its eye has beheld the greater lights. And knowledge has given it the key of power and mastery over the conditions which it previously towered like an unscalable mountain escarpment athwart its path of progress."  (pages 267-268)

Like someone said, "If you think education is expensive try ignorance".   Mind-growth is not optional. Refusing to grow my mind consciously, it grows unconsciously as all my symptom-formation including all my fault-finding displacement of my low self-estimate upon my others.  The way I treat my mind (self) is the way I treat my all.