It is common within occult, buddhist, and hindu circles to talk of the transcendence of the soul, but in the advent of scientific knowledge, the concept of a transcendent soul has become almost laughable. I will make no claims about whether or not the human spirit has within itself the capacity to exist independently of the body, but I do seek to illustrate how the spirit can attain an increase in transcendence–with regards to the body and its perceptive impulses– in its experience of life. One can transcend the projection of his affinities into assertions or feelings of another’s absolute goodness or badness. One can lessen the warpage unpleasant sensations deal to one’s perceptions. One can begin to craft one’s experience of life to impulses of a more artistic, more spiritual, nature. Prioritizing beauty, harmony, truth, or lucidity, in one’s preceptive structure speaks of a certain ‘coming to its own’ of the spirit, a demanding that it be taken into account in its own operations. When the animal in man has been sufficiently satiated, then the spirit can know itself, build itself through building a world which affirms its aspirations.
I am not of the type who believes that every human spirit has a common nature or common aspirations or that those attributes of the spirit are some essential, immutable thing. I furthermore do not believe the the spirit can ever truly transcend the environment with which it interacts, or even know itself without the mediation of that environment. The spirit is a certain perspective one can take on life, a distinctive operative plane with priorities unique to it. I stand on a mountain, and from that mountain, the plight of the valley plays itself out before my eyes but touches me not. My desires alight bellow me in flames, burn themselves out, and pass to nothingness. I live them from a distance but not an actual distance; rather, I live them in the distance that a mind in directed psychosis can produce if it knows how. That man has been able to conceive of spirit is do to his power of disassociation, his power of creating space between what is really one.
Spiritual rebirth, transcendence, it is consciousness coming to the awareness and use of its power to create nothingness between itself and its contents, its power to augment that which is given to it. That perception exists at all is due to augmentation, interpretation, and a natural operation of differentiation–the nature of which it would be useless to speculate about–, and we can come to participate in those operations, just as we, through the course of maturation, come to consciously participate in our motoric functions. A personal intelligence, yet worldly, when it comes in contact with and begins to possess its own natural powers of world construction, of perceptive penetration, becomes a spiritual intelligence; more, the impersonal, spiritual intelligence which one already embodies begins to form connections with the personal, conscious intelligence it shares a psychological sphere with. Before, the personal sphere and the spiritual sphere, the sphere of the construction of reality, are only linked beneath consciousness. One perceives evil through an unconscious projection of his own personal situation. One is under the illusion that the affective content within the world, the content which seems to relate directly to one’s personal being, is inherent to the things one is perceiving. When personal consciousness begins to be aware of its links to its reality, it’s complicity in the way it sees the world, it can begin to participate and influence that reality directly and and with an intent. One can, in short, begin to also build one’s world, rather than just live in it. One can embody fantasy, participate, spread, and become a myth, or decimate those elements altogether, leaving their motivating principles withered and unactualized in the personal sphere. With spiritual awareness comes the great existential dilemma, the point at which man must take responsibility not only for his actions but his perceptions, for the very world he creates and lives in but also the freedom from the fatality of his perceptions and the necessity of his world.
For thousands of years, monks, wizards, and alchemists have taken it upon themselves to master the spiritual to the extent of forming a closed system, a system within which the personal is wholly satisfied by the impersonal. The attempt is to wholly usurp the impersonal intelligence from the world and tie it to the personal, at which point it theoretically wholly satisfies the personal’s imperatives, has been the spiritual quest of a multitudinous host of aspirants. That goal is the pot of gold at the end of the spectrum of spiritual transcendence, one which reachable or not, had been pursued as the highest–though often forbidden– good in ancient societies.
The problem with this approach is that the personal has within it the irrational will to live in a world which transcends it, to inhabit a universe of others and interact with those others. This irrational drive inhering in the human’s personal psyche, when confined to a closed system, splits apart the whole being into a diverse set of personalities and forces. The personal sphere, the person, without a world to define itself in opposition to, divides itself. From hence we have the gods, the spirits, and all the various phantoms which plague the chasers of the elixir of life. One thinks in transcending the world that one transcends the problems which haunted one in it, but one only acquires new ones; one acquires, in short, a new world. The force of differentiation, if over looked, will turn back upon the personal consciousness without any world to operate on.
Eastern mysticism has attempted to circumvent this concern by teaching the practice of undifferentiation, of lulling the divisive function in the psyche to sleep. The mystical experiences which ensure following this undifferentiation, if I may be allowed to speculate, arise from one no longer perceiving the categories of ‘real’ and ‘imaginary’. The real and the imaginary begin to blend and mix, as they do naturally without the imposition of a distinguishing concept, and it is from this blending that one ‘perceives’ rather than just conceives, mythical content. What is human, the personal, begins to blend with the world, the impersonal principle of ‘reality’. This blending is different from the natural participation mystique in that the focus is not on reality but on that which constructs reality: one’s spirit. When the personal and the spirit merge without the mediation of the world, there is heaven, possibly some states in between, and also hell, depending on the state of the person on severing from the world.
Between the states of complete integration between spirit and world and the complete severance of the spirit from the world, lies a middle way. On this path, one realizes that the content in the world, if not completely originating from oneself, is still a partial product of oneself, one’s desires, and one’s composition. One still participates in The Dance of Maya, but one realizes that it is a dance, an illusion, and can enjoy it all the more because of that realization. The hazards of locking the self in with itself are manifold, and while the possibility for bliss is there so too is the possibility for an unending loop of inescapable, negative psychosis. All channels to the world, at death, will be severed, but until then, we have the advantage of existing in a world with other subjects, sources of knowledge, and examples of being. We have the advantage of existing in a world that we are apart of but transcends us, just as we are a part of it but transcend it. This life, the personal relevance of the world to us, may be an illusion, but it isn’t necessarily an illusion one must give up–assuming you believe in necessity in these matters at all. We are left with the realization that what we live is not fatal, that the script we act from is rewritable, that the cycles with walk can be changed, that we are co-writers in this mass production of psychic life. Reality is man’s greatest art form. The brush that once rested in the hands of the gods, the hands of man’s personified instinctive and environmental factors, now lies with our reach. Consciousness has climbed atop mount olympus, has been inducted into the lesser divinity. What now will we do with this new found mastery, this new horizon of existential possibilities? We have now, as a species, the ability to transcend mere participation in reality and to accept participation in the very creation of that reality. This is not a religious superstition but an experiential phenomenon heralded in postmodern philosophies and fringe occult experimentation. It shouts itself from the deterioration of tradition, from the recognition of relativity in even the humanities, from the death of our gods, and from the complete absence of any basis for morality other than the moral instinct, or moral artistic taste, in man himself—though one could convincingly argue that there is no such instinct without the imposition of cultural forms.
Man must now bear his own meaning, for the world will no longer accept the projection. We have have blasted apart its mythic strength with our knowledge, burned the bridges between other and self, so we carry that self without the gods. Krishna says that man creates the gods and the gods create man; now we must wonder, what will we become now that we have torn myth from the world? We are the last myth left, the last spirits still surviving, the only psychic form which has come through the scientific holocaust–and but barely. Once, transcendence was a possibility fought for, the spirit a conquest, but now it is a fatal inevitability. Are you ready?