Some post Spiritfest Reflections
by Arjuna Ben-Zion Weiss
10 – 1 – 2018
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…
So writes Charles Dickens in his historical novel, A Tale of Two Cities (1859) about the French Revolution.
In the last session of the Spiritfest 2018, Pranav read from the teachings of Baba about the crisis of the present times in the world and the challenges of capitalism and materialism.
As we drove back into the other world – I gave Maria-Eleni and Rani a lift back to the eastern suburbs – we had a very interesting conversation about the nature of the present world. I made the comment that for me the world is moving towards a more positive direction than the mainstream media and the public figures like politicians are presenting.
Maria-Eleni asked me why I thought that and I explained that for me the Mayan Prophecy of 2012, was proving to be playing itself out in a positive way as I feel the paradigm has been shifting, in a way that is accelerating since then.
When she asked for evidence for my optimism I explained that there are a number of indicators for this shift. Interestingly, I found a you tube posting on Facebook, which I passed on to the Spiritfest Facebook page that supported my optimism.
Here’s a link to that Avaaz video about 2017:
This video showed that while the year was a challenge for many people, there were also some great victories for social justice and the environment.
My main evidence draws on the work of Jean Gebser, a mystic, poet and cultural historian who spent many years pondering the terrible state of affairs that emerged in Nazi Germany in the 1930s, that led to so much suffering and destruction in the Holocaust and the Second World War. Then in the Pacific ended with the explosion of the Atomic Bombs on civilian populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Gebser’s great work is the book The Ever Present Origins, in which he charts the evolution of humanity’s structures of consciousness, although he himself was reluctant to use the word ‘evolution’ and preferred ‘mutation’. I suspect that may have been because the way the Nazis were using evolution to justify their master race theory. I’ve been working with Gebser’s theory for some years now and have found it exceedingly useful to navigate our turbulent changing times of what Joanna Macy and others call the ‘The Turning Times’.
In Gebser’s view we are now emerging from the mental structure of consciousness as a deficient cause and entering the new structure of integral consciousness as an efficient cause. Many people will know Gebser’s work through Ken Wilber, who has popularised and developed his own version of integral consciousness. Wilber can be a useful introduction to Gebser, but he is still more embedded in the mental consciousness.
Gebser came up with 5 structures of consciousness: the Archaic, the Magical, the Mythical, the Mental and the Integral. He was reluctant to relate these to periods of history with the exception of the mental consciousness, which he regarded as an outcome of the European Renaissance. Each structure begins as an efficient cause, that is a positive influence and eventually becomes deficient, that is a negative influence and then a new structure is needed to continue our human evolution. Each structure has a shadow side. I’ve related each structure to a Yoga Chakra and a period of human history.
The first structure is the Archaic, which is the time when we humans were completely part of the natural world, like all animals and plants we had consciousness, we needed to find food, energy, shelter, a mate and to reproduce the species and for this we needed information about our world to survive. This is the structure that was present some 200-300,000 years ago in Africa when Modern Anatomical Humans like us emerged and clearly was the structure that had been present to some degree since the since the beginning of life some 4 billion years ago on planet Earth. The shadow side of this structure is that we had little to no awareness that we were conscious. I relate this structure to the Base Chakra in Yoga, where the alchemical element is Earth. Its Sanskrit name, Muladhara, means mother chakra. So the Earth is our Mother.
I’ve presented this theory in greater detail on my blog so if you want to know more I’ll refer you to the link of a short version:
and a longer more detailed version:
Now we are most affected by the mental consciousness in its deficient cause, and the shadow of the mental consciousness is intolerance. This was Gebser’s explanation for what happened in Germany under the Nazis, when the workshop of Europe as Germany had been regarded before the Nazi era, descended into a tragic horrific destructive mess. This resonated for me as someone who had been trying to understand what happened to my Jewish ancestors in Europe during the Holocaust.
At that point in his thinking, Gebser went to India and met Sri Aurobindo, who had developed a theory of integral consciousness. He travelled to the Deer Park where the Buddha had taught over 2 millennia ago and had a Satori experience. On returning to Switzerland he created his theory of integral consciousness as the next structure of consciousness that humanity needs to evolve into.
So how does this relate to our contemporary world, you ask? Well, the mess we’re in collectively is the result of the deficient cause of the mental consciousness. This came in some 500 years ago and led to the European Enlightenment when all the scientific and mathematical theories emerged and which eventually created the industrial world we live in today. The globalised world of capitalism, materialism and consumerism is gradually leading to the destruction of our very life support system through climate change, pollution, destruction of the natural world and generally unsustainable ways of living. If we look at mainstream media, the corporate and the mainstream political world, we can see a world that is falling apart as it reflects the mental consciousness in its deficient form.
If, on the other hand we look at the emerging world of integral consciousness, which we can see through alternative media and lifestyles, then a very different picture emerges. Our weekend Summer Spiritfests, that I’ve attended these past 3 years, are wonderful examples of this emerging integral consciousness. Another example is evident from the rapid uptake of renewable energy in Australia – see link:
Then there’s the work of Paul Hawken and his study and book Blessed Unrest, which as he states is the biggest movement in human history:
and more recent work in his study and book Drawdown:
Finally there’s the phenomenon of cultural creatives, who now make up some 35% of all OECD countries according to their website:
I’ve also written about this movement on my blog:
All this is my understanding of how the Mayan Prophecy is playing itself out in our contemporary world and makes me feel very positive about the future. However this process needs to be a co-creative one. A critical mass of us need to participate to transform our world through a creative revolution, to focus on a great deal of healing, as visionaries like Joanna Macy, Ervin Laszlo, Barbara Marx Hubbard and mystics like Hazrat Inayat Khan, Murshid Samuel Lewis, Sri Aurobind and the Auroville Mother, Ramana Maharshi, Ama and many others have all been working towards.