Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Democratizing enlightenment

by Zak Stein and Marc Gafni in the new issue of Spanda Journal (p. 93).  

We do need a new worldview to transcend and replace neoliberal capitalism, which has reached the end of its dominance. If we don't, we might indeed face the literal end of mankind, not just a metaphorical paradigm shift.
I also appreciate the emphasis on developing human potential as a measure of collective enlightenment, not just external measures like GDP or material possessions. And that technology in itself is not the savior. But in this need to emphasize development of internal consciousness I'm leery of its 'esoteric,' mystical framing as if said consciousness is from a divine source. Aurobindo is given as an example where the "divine super-mind descends" to meet humanities rising evolutionary development (94-95).

As discussed in my and Michel's paper (p. 85), this is still a holdover of metaphysical thinking. Yes, we can still posit a virtual domain but it is no longer framed in these metaphysical world-systems, to use their term. Now they do acknowledge that there are other ways to frame this such as how we have done. But they're more interested in these esoteric ways where people "awaken en masse" through a metaphysical, miraculous agency (95) via the likes of Aurobindo or Teilhard. And they call that post postmodern. It sounds more a carryover from pre- and modern metaphysics to me.

Granted we need a massive shift in consciousness to effect a world system change, but it will come from us enacting it, not waiting on deus ex machina. Or worse, some avatar and guru proclaiming they have received the message from God or the future and is willing to impart it to us all for a low, low price and/or our obedience and loyalty. This shift will come from us collaborating and participating in its enaction without need of skyhooks or enlightened ones.

This is reiterated in Gafni's notion of the True Self. "True self is the singular that has no plural. The total number of True selves in the world is one. This True Self is only one" (98). We've discussed this notion many times in the IPS forum (here and here), and that religions or spiritualities that posit it are still based in a metaphysical unity. He goes on to say that this True Self must then integrate with the small ego self in non-duality. We've also discussed this at length in Wilber's works on the two truths and their non-dual integration. This is an entirely different conception to the many ways we explored a pluralistic, participatory, postmetaphysical spirituality in the forum.

So I'm all in for their notion of the democratization of enlightenment. But that notion seem to me antithetical to the notion of the sort of metaphysical descent of divinity or True Self as necessary to achieving that goal.

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