The Sethian Mythos

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The Sethian Mythos

Post by Übermensch » Sat Dec 31, 2016 6:01 pm

Part I: The Sethian Mandalas: Interpreting the Divine Mind

While it is fairly obvious that the overall structure of the Sethian mythos is that of a proto-psychology, what is not obvious is how one can use this as a functioning psychology in the modern age. In fact, I do not believe this is possible at all. Not without some serious trial and error, and probably stepping on one or two spiritual landmines along the way. It is more likely for you to discover the secrets of Masonic symbolism on your own (a monumental task in itself) before you would be able to figure out how to use the myth of the Sethians to achieve integration. However, there are certainly some significant spiritual insights one can glean from the myth itself. Perhaps, the most important insight being precisely what Jung discovered and that is simply that consciousness has a tendency toward integration (becoming whole). Unfortunately, simple recognition of that fact does not get us any closer toward becoming a fully integrated and wonderful human being. There is some spiritual technology missing or rather “lost in translation” that is absent from the myth as it exists today. I believe the spiritual technology that made the central myth of the Gnostics functional ‘back in the day’ was the four-fold mandala structure depicted in the beginning. Comparisons between these mandalas and the Sephiroth (mind of God) depicted in the Kabbalah can be made, but such comparison is relatively fruitless, if not downright confusing. For that matter, you might as well just study the Sephiroth on its own, since this spiritual technology has been in constant development by the Kabbalists for centuries, unlike its Gnostic counterpart. But this is not entirely true.

For instance, a four-fold structure of consciousness has been practiced by the alchemists of the middle-ages and has even been symbolically represented in the Tarot cards. So we could even employ the use of these alchemical grimoires and Tarot cards to glean further insights and possibly this four-fold structure would even be revealed to us in the process. But, to me at least, these things are still a bit too archaic and fraught with spiritual peril. The meanings inherent within these things are too ambiguous and the risk of misinterpretation is too high. That is, while it is still possible to gain spiritual insights from these things a more modern approach is desirable, if not absolutely necessary. For example, I, myself, have used Maslow’s hierarchy for a number of years as an aid in the individuation process (and a great aid it was!), but even this was not the key to integration I was searching for. (Even though at the time I didn’t know what I was searching for, let alone integration!) Such an approach to integration can be found in Jung’s modern psychology—Jung’s theory of Psychological Types. Although Jungian analysts have been using this typology of Jung’s for decades to great effect it is still underappreciated and often ignored by mainstream psychology. Therefore, it is desirable (if not absolutely necessary—especially if you are not an introverted intuitive) to use Jung’s typology to interpret such four-fold representations of consciousness used in alchemical symbolism and, in particular, Gnosticism. This provides us with an internally consistent framework for working with the unconscious across the various Gnostic and alchemical texts. (Subsequently, there are some excellent lectures on this and many other subjects relating to Jung and Gnosticism on Stephan Hoeller’s website: bcrecordings.net.)

That being said, it should be noted that the words used in relation to the old Gnostic four-fold mandala (which can be found in the Secret Book of John) are largely ambiguous and so there is very little basis on which we can assign a psychological type to a particular mandala (which would provide further meaning and insight). But if such an assignment had to be made, personally, I would suggest the following: to Harmozel I would assign the Thought function (on the basis of the keywords ‘form’ and ‘truth’); to Oriel I would assign the Sensate function (on the basis of the keywords ‘perception’ and possibly ‘memory’—since our memories are often tied to the senses); to Daveithai I would assign the Feeling function (on the basis of the keywords ‘love’ and possibly ‘understanding’—since understanding is often linked to empathy); and to Eleleth I would assign the Intuitive function (on the basis of the keywords ‘wisdom’ and ‘peace’—since wisdom is often ascribed to intuition and peace is often related in a spiritual context to wisdom). Now we may think that we have restored the ‘Divine Mind’ of the Sethian Gnostics by assigning to each mandala a function within the context of a modern, workable psychology; thus, rendering an otherwise useless ancient proto-psychology useful again. Unfortunately, this is still not all that helpful, since from within the context of the myth, this merely gives us an outline or theoretical framework, but tells us nothing of how to use it. Furthermore, from the perspective of Jungian psychology, none of the types are necessarily higher or more important than any others (depending on your type and what qualities you may be trying to integrate); however, in the context of the Sethian myth these mandalas are presented as a divine hierarchy with the thought function at the top (according to my interpretation) and the intuitive function at the bottom. From my perspective (an introverted intuitive) this seems upside down and I would place the intuitive function at the top of the hierarchy, instead of at the bottom. Especially, since in spiritual matters, our ultimate goal is typically oriented towards the attainment of wisdom. Of course, depending on your psychological type, it may be the thought function (and Plato would, perhaps, agree with you, which is evident by his Theory of Forms—even though the theme of wisdom and self-knowledge features prominently throughout most of his works). However, this just goes to show that our psyches are really a make-up of all these psychological functions and while we may use some more than others, inevitably, we rely on all of them at one point or another. The good news is that within the context of the Sethian myth, we are merely given a description of this proto-psychology and nothing more, so whether or not we assign a psychological type to each mandala is beside the point—we can go no further.

For this reason, this portion of the myth is often trivialized or ignored, but I think it illustrates the importance of an underlying psychology as the foundation of the Sethian mythos. Without which much of the myth is simply a story—there is no realness to it. This realness is important if we are to use myth for the purposes of living a symbolic life, as Jung contends. The ancient Egyptians used the Horus-Osiris myth symbolically to celebrate the death and resurrection of the sun each day. However, think that if they did not use the sun it would not be serving the function of a myth—since there would be nothing real about it—and therefore nothing symbolic about it either. Likewise, the Sethians used myth for the symbolic reconstruction of the Divine Mind in order to save a creation that has fallen in disrepair and restore wholeness to the Pleroma by restoring the wholeness within themselves. But think that if there is not a real psychology underlying the Sethian myth, there would be nothing symbolic about their plan to reconstruct the Divine Mind or restore fullness to the Pleroma. Therefore, we need a spiritual technology in the form of a useful psychology for the purposes of achieving this symbolic wholeness (the individuation process).

In addition to this, what is useful to us also is the idea of assigning keywords to particular psychological types in regards to typology. Although the keywords used in the Sethian myth are not very helpful, there is a modern counterpart to this ancient mandala system. This is a very recent development in Jungian psychology made possible by the work of a brilliant Jungian typologist by the name of John Beebe, who came up with the idea of assigning a semantic field consisting of 3 keywords to each psychological type. Each of the 3 keywords corresponds to an element of Jung’s psychology: the persona, the ego, and the Self (notice the capital ‘S’). The reason for this was largely to provide a somewhat standardized interpretation of each psychological type for the purpose of type recognition (for which there are eight in total: each of the four types can be either introverted or extroverted), since interpretations of the eight types often vary rather significantly between type analysts. One other significant difference with Beebe’s system is that it shows, quite clearly, that Jung’s theory of psychological types was not merely a psychology of the ego (as many analysts contend), but also (and more importantly) a psychology of individuation. (John Beebe’s book on psychological types was recently published in 2016.)

To serve as a general overview of Jung's typology, or for those unsure whether Psychological Types is right for them, here are a couple great lectures of John Beebe demonstrating Jung's typology in action:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=770FrOmZbuU
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ctxEFl7fKlc

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Re: The Sethian Mythos

Post by Taurandir » Sun Jan 01, 2017 9:28 pm

Fascinating. For the utter layman, could break down the core beliefs of the Sethian myth into a few bullet points? Could you also give a concrete example of what it might mean to live a symbolic life? Also, what exactly does individuation look like?

Please excuse these rudimentary questions. I am not a student of Jung, and my attempts to try to understand his work has always left me a little confused. I can't seem to get a firm grasp of what exactly is being talked about. I have this problem with psychology in general. Thanks.
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Re: The Sethian Mythos

Post by Meneldur Olvarion » Mon Jan 02, 2017 6:46 am

Taurandir wrote:[...] Please excuse these rudimentary questions. I am not a student of Jung, and my attempts to try to understand his work has always left me a little confused. I can't seem to get a firm grasp of what exactly is being talked about. I have this problem with psychology in general. Thanks.
I second this, as it is mostly outside my knowledge-set also. In this area, I'm more of an experiential than a theoretical person, so Taurandir's suggestion would help me as well.

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Re: The Sethian Mythos

Post by Taurandir » Mon Jan 02, 2017 3:07 pm

I glanced at the videos in question, but in all honesty they are very long and the speakers didn't rivet me to the screen immediately. Perhaps at a certain age a person starts becoming choosier about where he spends his time, after a prolonged realization that time is not an infinite resource (at least not on this plane).
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Re: The Sethian Mythos

Post by Lúthien » Wed Jan 04, 2017 8:57 pm

Cool, I'll have a look.

Edit -

Actually, after having read your post twice I still cannot connect the dots. Supposedly I miss some contextual knowledge, for instance about the Sethian mythos, as the others also suggest?

I do know a few things about Jungian typology (it was once used at a training we did at work even) but I have no idea how to to connect that to gnosis. I've also understood that Jung was at one point very enthusiastic about alchemy as used in a psychological context but I know very little about that. In fact, on the occasions where this material was touched upon (indeed also by Lance Owens) it always seemed to me that this represents the practical, psychological "result set" of Jung's work as opposed to having direct spiritual or occult applicability.

You also suggest this right in he first paragraph when talking about "using the Sethian mythos as a functioning psychology" - despite suggesting this is not possible as such, it seems nonetheless to be at least something that is worth considering.

I can very well imagine that Jung would eventually work out a psychology as one of the results of all that he was doing (recorded in the Red Book and afterwards) - he was after all a psychiatrist / psychologist; but to me, the notion of working towards a psychology seems to be something of a different order than what one would usually consider as the motive for busying oneself with spirituality/ gnosticism.

Or maybe there is a more direct link, but in that case I miss some of the steps in between. In other words: why specifically striving towards "psychology" as the result of gnostic spiritual practice?

Do you see that psychology as a tool to achieve individuation wih maybe?

Maybe this sounds naive ... but I've always assumed that individuation is the result of encountering, recognising and integrating your more or less estranged inner "soul" - that part of you that you can say exists in the timeless Imaginal realm. Precisely that what Jung describes in the first part of the Red Book.
I found that this happened more or less in passing when becoming aware of that Imaginal realm, which happened when I found this forum years ago. Of course this didn't happen in a vacuum; I was sort of primed by things in my life that led up to it, so that it wasn't such a huge step to take when all the threads came together.

I can imagine that this doesn't always happen so easily. Some people might have more difficulty with parts of that "priming" or just not stumble across the right pointers in their lives.

This is how I have always imagined that a Jungian psychological therapeutic intervention might be applied: by setting the parameters right for a person to achieve this. If the person in question has psychological problems arising from being too disengaged from their souls (anima animus?) I can see how a Jungian psychological intervention might help them regain balance or even individuation.

The mythology in this case can, as far as I have understood and experienced it, be anything that happens to be compatible with the person in question. As long as it offers a doorway to the Imaginal world, I would think.

In that sense, what you describe seems so highly abstract and technical to me - for me it was, as Dave also says, much more an experiential than a theoretical matter.
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Re: The Sethian Mythos

Post by Übermensch » Thu Jan 05, 2017 8:43 pm

Taurandir wrote:Fascinating. For the utter layman, could break down the core beliefs of the Sethian myth into a few bullet points? Could you also give a concrete example of what it might mean to live a symbolic life? Also, what exactly does individuation look like?

Please excuse these rudimentary questions. I am not a student of Jung, and my attempts to try to understand his work has always left me a little confused. I can't seem to get a firm grasp of what exactly is being talked about. I have this problem with psychology in general. Thanks.
No problem Taurandir, this is quite understandable. I appreciate the interest in this topic. (This will be just a quick post to address the bigger issues, with a lengthier post to follow to address the finer points.) Well the bullet points are unnecessary, this is just the very beginning of the Secret Book of John which describes a proto-psychology, the actual myth portion begins directly thereafter. (When I post part two of the Sethian myth, I'll use bullet points for ease of discussion.) Now this proto-psychology is similar to the Kabbalists' Tree of Life, but as I pointed out, Jung's theory of Psychological Types is a closer match to the one found in the Secret Book of John and John Beebe's retooling of Jung's psychology is closer still. Of course, given Jung's interest in Gnosticism this is understandable. And I'm not saying this is where Jung got the idea for the basis of his psychology, in fact, it was developed independently by Jung. But given the similarities, the use of Jung's theory as a suitable replacement for this, otherwise meaningless, proto-psychology would be the obvious choice. Furthermore, Jung's theory can be used for contextual analysis of various Gnostic and alchemical texts; especially where a four-fold structure of consciousness is a necessary prerequisite to interpretation.

That being said, the first thing to understand is that Jung's psychology is of a quasi-religious or spiritual nature, unlike Freud's psychology which is not. (We generally think of Freud's interpretation when we hear the terms: psychology, ego, unconscious, and integration.) Therefore, Jung's interpretation of the structures within the psyche are radically different than Freud's (at least, in my opinion, this difference is somewhat radical). In that, Jung's definitions of the ego and the unconscious are much broader and cover a larger area within the psyche than Freud's. Jung's theory of Psychological Types, in general, constitutes his psychology of the ego. From the perspective of this typology, Jung's understanding of the ego is, in some ways, similar to the understanding of the ancient Greek 'Nous' (or intellect). Likewise, Jung's understanding of the unconscious was much broader, extending to the imaginal and spiritual realms, one could say. Not surprisingly, Jung's understanding of integration--which Jung dubbed the individuation process--was of a spiritual nature. Of course, one of the biggest insights of Jung's was that consciousness had a tendency towards individuation (towards achieving wholeness). In this sense, the psychology of Jung revealed itself to be a mystical psychology.

In comparison to which Freud's understanding of integration was simply to become a well-adjusted member of society. It is important to point out, however, that simply becoming a well-adjusted member of society, in itself, is not a good measure of sanity. The takeaway from this is that Freud's psychology is inherently geared more towards pathological individuals who otherwise have a difficult time functioning within society in a normal capacity. In comparison, Jung's psychology is oriented towards individuals who are otherwise psychologically healthy. This does not mean, however, that Jung's psychology is not useful for dealing with individuals who are pathological, but in certain cases Freud's psychology may be better suited to dealing with such individuals. Although this is not a comprehensive overview of Jung's psychological theory, it does serve to flush out some of the basic features without an understanding of which it is not possible to correctly interpret Jung's works.

So, of course, the individuation process cannot be said to look like anything necessarily. But John Beebe gave an excellent allegory of this process of psychological/spiritual growth and development, likening it to a flower in bloom. (Again, it is important to note that within Jung's psychology the spiritual corresponds to the psychological, in a similar fashion, the soul corresponds to the psyche.)

*I will get back to you on living a symbolic life, but I should quickly mention there is nothing concrete about it. But of course no psychological theory can be said to be concrete, since the psyche itself is not concrete. ;)

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Re: The Sethian Mythos

Post by Übermensch » Tue Jan 10, 2017 7:35 pm

In regards to living a symbolic life, this is somewhat sticky business. The reason for this is largely that Jung’s notion of the symbolic life cannot be clearly defined by way of rationality. (Just as the story of Abraham and Isaac cannot be understood by way of reason alone—one must suspend reason, and as Kierkegaard suggested, place faith above the thought function into the religious or spiritual realm.) Of course, Jung’s notion of the symbolic life does not correspond to faith as such, but it too lies within the spiritual realm. That is, the symbolic life is a function of the non-rational types of consciousness, such as sensation (experiencing) and intuition (knowing). So, one has to take into account the fact that the intellect is composed of both rational and non-rational types of consciousness. If a person denies this fact, then there can be no symbolic life (i.e. the magic is dead). The magic involved here is the result of the permeability of the unconscious to the ego by way of these non-rational types of consciousness. Simply put, the unconscious manifests itself to consciousness by way of symbolism, which cannot be interpreted through the thinking function alone. This symbolism largely addresses itself to consciousness through our intuitive knowing and also through experience. Therefore, in order to live a symbolic life, we need to address the unconscious by learning to speak its language (i.e. symbolism). But what ways do we have of speaking to the unconscious in this manner?

I would say largely through myth, magic, and ritual. Although these functions are for the most part fulfilled by religion, these functions can also be fulfilled within society by way of culture (or, perhaps, counter culture). (It is important to note, however, that both religion and culture are in decline these days.) To put it in another way, living a symbolic life allows a person to participate in the cosmic dance, which gives one’s life greater meaning and purpose. It should give us a sense that our lives are not trivial, but are important in the grand scheme of things. For instance, Gnostics say that our spiritual awakening is a cosmic event for this reason. Rather, it is nothing banal, but has profound meaning and importance. That is, if one does not feel too terribly connected with the events and happenings of the universe, then life becomes pretty grey and dull. Our ancestors often intuitively used astro-theology and gave meaning to important celestial events to fulfill the spiritual needs of the unconscious.

However, I believe that one can employ such unconscious symbolism in a more abstract manner as long as there is some basis in reality in which to employ that symbolism (i.e. it is not purely a product of fiction). Therefore, as long as said myth, ritual, or magic has meaning to the unconscious and there is some aspect of it that is grounded in reality, then our unconscious needs are fulfilled. Only then can it be said of us that we are living a symbolic life. On the other hand, the extent to which our unconscious needs are fulfilled can be said to depend on the realness of the unconscious symbolism that we employ. Simply put, employing symbolism that we, ourselves, made up, which has weak ties to reality (a criticism often touted against new-agers) will not suffice in relation to fulfilling the needs of the unconscious. That is, the role of unconscious symbolism in myth, magic, and ritual is to give greater meaning and purpose to our lives and it cannot fulfill that role if said symbolism is not grounded in something which actually provides our lives with greater purpose and meaning.

Furthermore, the question of whether literature can fulfill this role in relation to living a symbolic life arises. Personally, I believe this is possible, at least to some extent. One could say, perhaps, that Nietzsche lived a symbolic life in this respect. (For anyone interested in this topic, Nietzsche: Life as Literature by Nehamas, I think, makes a good case for this being a real possibility.) On the other hand, Nietzsche put an incredible amount of effort into it; to the extent that he wrote his own myth! One could say similar things of Philip K. Dick. Unfortunately, with PKD’s multiple suicide attempts, I am somewhat reluctant to speak favorably of the proposition of using literature to fulfill such an important role in relation to the unconscious and one’s life. But if anyone makes a good case in this regards, I think it would be Tolkien. So that begs the question: Did literature actually play this role in Tolkien’s own life? It’s an interesting area of speculation, but who knows? I am somewhat skeptical of literature playing such an important role in one’s unconscious life. While I believe it can certainly be an important aspect of one’s life, there is a depth and complexity to the unconscious that can only be met with the product of a real religion or cultural heritage (which is one of the reasons I am drawn to Gnosticism, simply because it has real roots in western culture, albeit largely suppressed!). In a similar manner, someone practicing Tibetan Buddhism, let’s say, in the United States will be largely alienated from his own cultural roots and the extent to which someone can apply sufficient meaning to such foreign symbolism is, at the very least, questionable. The question is: how real is it to the unconscious? Is the practice implemented beyond the level of superficialities? Does it fulfill the role of the symbolic life?

These are important considerations to take into account, to say the least. On the other hand, to achieve any measure of living a symbolic life these days is an accomplishment in itself (something on the level of giving birth to a star!). Especially when you consider that most cultures and mainstream religions are in decline, and particularly in relation to the symbolic life. To the extent that living a symbolic life, by Jung’s standards, is virtually non-existent these days. So, I say, whatever the demiurge will let you get away with in order for you to live a reasonably happy and fulfilling life; I say go for it! Whether that means making a trip to see an Amazonian shaman once a year or starting your own heresy, the choice is up to you. Or as Miguel would say: “Happy heresies, beloved truth seekers!”

*In short, to answer your question, anything that speaks to the unconscious by way of symbolism for the purposes of adding meaning to one’s life is an example of living symbolically, and I would say these things largely fall under the categories of myth, ritual, and magic. The catholic mass and the Eleusinian mysteries would be prime examples of the use of unconscious symbolism in the form of magic (and I use the term loosely here) and ritual.

**But if you want an explanation beyond my rudimentary interpretation, I urge you to check out Stephan Hoeller’s lectures on the subject of Jung.

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Re: The Sethian Mythos

Post by Übermensch » Tue Jan 10, 2017 10:55 pm

Lúthien wrote: Or maybe there is a more direct link, but in that case I miss some of the steps in between. In other words: why specifically striving towards "psychology" as the result of gnostic spiritual practice?

Do you see that psychology as a tool to achieve individuation wih maybe?

In that sense, what you describe seems so highly abstract and technical to me - for me it was, as Dave also says, much more an experiential than a theoretical matter.
Well, no, the purpose is not to strive towards a psychology, but with Gnosticism it's definitely possible for you to end up there. That being said, you will find that Gnosticism is very much rooted in theory, without which one's practice is reduced to a minimal level of effectiveness. Of course, while I'm stressing the importance of theory, I'm not saying that's the only way. But if one chooses to ignore it, then one would have to rely on ritual and magic (such as baptism and the Eucharist sacrament, etc.) to a greater extent; simply because without such a theory there is no way of working with the unconscious in a more direct manner. Of course, Jung's theory of psychological types is not a method of working with the unconscious (such as dream interpretation or active imagination are), but it is a powerful tool for understanding the Self with a capital 'S'. In a similar manner, meditation is not a tool for working with the unconscious, but rather a tool for understanding the Self. That is, as one is working through the individuation process to understand the Self (i.e. self-knowledge), one will inevitably encounter different modes of consciousness which correspond to the eight psychological types. It is the discovery of these other modes of consciousness that aids one in the individuation process. That is, all eight types exist in each one of us. It's just that our primary type is our preferred method of being conscious; whether introverted/extroverted, thinking/feeling, or intuitive/sensate. So it's not uncommon for someone to go through several different psychological types at different times in their lives. The takeaway here is that the Self is not static, but dynamic and unfolding. This is why Jung's psychology is such a powerful tool for discovering the Self (the God hidden within), the fact that it is dynamic in nature. For these reasons, Jung's typology is not just a psychology of the ego, but a psychology of individuation.

Of course, if you are already individuated this may seem like beating a dead horse and I realize that I'm most likely preaching to the choir. However, one should realize that spiritual growth is an unending endeavor and the better the tools you have in your arsenal, the farther you'll be able to go. That's why I'm so interested in Jung's theory, not only is it useful for contextual analysis, but in understanding the Self at an even deeper level. I believe this is what differentiates a Gnostic from a mystic--a Gnostic doesn't just stop at the mystical experience, but seeks to understand it. I know this all seems very theoretical, but realize that to the ancient Gnostics this was not just 'psychology' but magic! So, at least for me, Jung's theory is not only necessary in order to understand gnosis, but also part of the magic of gnosis.

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Re: The Sethian Mythos

Post by Lúthien » Sun Jan 15, 2017 6:34 pm

Thank you for that. This is most useful, maybe I should try and explain why.

Like with everyone, everything that happened in my life prior to coming across all this has set me up with a certain mindset.
Part of that is an inner contrast between the rational way of thinking that I've always had and the way in which I was able to accept the inner reality of the imaginal world, which is much more creative, artistic or intuitive in nature.
Maybe this is the only way in which these two sides of me can co-exist: as long as they stick to their own territory, so to speak, they won't collide.

This rather strict separation of rational and imaginal territories does make me a bit uneasy with crossovers of either direction. For instance, when someone like Richard Dawkins blindly stamps everything spiritual as a falsehood 'because it cannot be falsified' he overplays his hand by applying a rational model to something that it cannot be applied to. And I feel similar about the sort of spiritual tick-tock-clockwork-models of life, the universe and everything that some syncretic new-age enthusiasts are so very fond of putting together: with neat little cogs for chakra's, minerals, planets, colours etcetera that all lock together. In my opinion they commit the same sin as Mr. Dawkins, only backwards: they, too, use rational models and methods and try to shoehorn their spiritual awareness into them, albeit with a hugely different motivation.

Of course I don't want to suggest that any theorising about spirituality is like that. I merely want to stress that I think it is very important to keep in mind that rational, scientific methods and principles might not work in other areas and I have seen many cases where this important distinction is not being made. Therefore I am always very reluctant to draw any rational conclusion, or construct any kind of mental model or theory based on whatever I have experienced. It feels like a kind of tightrope-walking, because you can never completely prevent that from happening. Even writing a meditative experience down in plain language applies a kind of rationality - even thinking consciously about it does.

This has made it a bit hard to figure out what to do with the raw material of gnosis, lacking a theoretical framework. As you suggest as well this can be challenging. Eventually I concluded that to find an artistic outlet for it was the best I could do, and that is where I am still.
But I am very much interested to know what others have made of this. I'll need to think a bit more about it.
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Re: The Sethian Mythos

Post by Übermensch » Sun Jan 15, 2017 8:43 pm

Well, don't think too hard about it Lúthien... these things are still very hotly debated. There is no conscensus about reality among philosophers or scientists. Consciousness itself is a paradox between our inner subjective world and the outer objective world. Most people cannot accept such an apparent contradiction, so they revert to a dualistic mindset (i.e. both cannot be true, it must be one or the other). But most modern philosophers would agree that reality and most phenomena we experience have both an objective and subjective component. (Many of the questions that have plagued philosophy have ended up being a ping pong match back and forth between the objective and the subjective.) In fact, accepting only one or the other is quite radical in terms of modern philosophy. But many people in our society still fall prey to the dualistic mindset, as you pointed out. However, many of the greatest minds in history have all had a similar worldview, namely, that reality is relative. A view of reality that is relative never boils down to a choice between this or that, but instead views reality as an intricate web or matrix. What we see as apparent opposites are actually quite illusory in nature, because things cannot exist on their own as opposites independent of everything else. Opposites always exist in relation to something other than themselves, so they're not really "opposites" to begin with, but part of the larger matrix of reality. It's just that as humans we can't help but see things in terms of opposites, because that's how our minds compartmentalize information, otherwise we can easily become overwhelmed. Simply put, being able to see beyond the dualistic mindset, in many ways, is the very condition of our Gnosis ;)

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Re: The Sethian Mythos

Post by Taurandir » Mon Jan 16, 2017 3:48 am

Would you call this "learning to live with paradox"? It doesn't seem that difficult in a sense. Science is a fairly recent invention, and no matter how good it is at describing reality (and it is very, very good indeed), there will always be the Great Mystery outside it. Some questions simply cannot be answered by it due to the very nature of the questions. This wouldn't be an issue but this Great Mystery keeps intruding on our reality. So use science as the tool it is to study reality but realize that there might be and very probably is something else out there.

Would it be accurate to say that the psychology of Freud is very reductionist and premised on a closed universe which is entirely explainable (ultimately) by science, while the psychology of Jung allows for the possibility of something greater than we can understand? It doesn't try to prove the existence of the spiritual realm, but allows for the possibility.
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Re: The Sethian Mythos

Post by Übermensch » Thu Jan 19, 2017 4:58 am

That's just it, you cannot live with such a paradox, no one can. You must no longer see it as a paradox. (This is where the Jedi mind trick comes in.) Understand many paradoxes can be dissolved by using a different mode of thought. Many logical paradoxes can be dissolved with pragmatics, such as the logical puzzle that translation from one language to another is impossible. The obvious answer is that it requires experience by way of learning, such explanations are beyond the scope of logic. Zeno's paradox can be solved by the concept of the limit. But on a more practical level just think how assinine it is for someone to tell you that you can walk towards the door but you will never reach it! On a practical level, your simply walking over to the door proves otherwise. Thought itself is limited, but the limitations of logic (a specific mode of thought) is more limited still. From a Jungian perspective, we cannot use the thinking function to solve a sensate type problem--always remember there are other modes of consciousness! Jung's notion of ego consciousness is multifaceted like the ancient Greek Nous. Nowadays, the intellect or the ego is simply reduced to what's rational (the thinking function). That being said, there are at least two ways to dissolve such dualistic paradoxes. One being what I consider the Gnostic approach, that is, to see paired opposites as a unity instead of as a division. The second is derived from Plato's ontology, which, in itself, reveals the relativistic nature of existence. In Sophist, Plato dissolves the paradox of being and non-being by showing that being stands in relation to motion, rest, sameness, and difference--and non-being stands in relation to them all. Think of a pentagram with being, motion, rest, sameness, and difference as the points of the star with non-being encircling them all. Now it is one thing to demonstrate the illusory nature of the dualistic mindset by way of logic and reason, but to realize it for yourself by way of Gnosis is, yet, quite another.

Of course, I generally agree with most of what you said, but I think science can explain this. Jung believed what he was doing was science and I tend to agree with him. In terms of philosophy, my god, this subject has been so thoroughly covered throughout history, it's a wonder there's any mystery left to solve. (For the most part that's all they talk about.) And there's been no shortage of philosophers who have approached this scientifically and, in my eyes, they have largely succeeded (so long as we get the message). So it's not that science has never encountered this before, it's just that it is time and again largely ignored. John Beebe even pointed out in one of his lectures that as far back as the Enlightenment period, the tendency has been to persecute introverts. In western culture there is no such thing as "enlightenment," because it's been stigmatized--it's taboo. The odd thing is, you're granted a free pass if you're a Buddhist--no one bats an eye. (In other words, Buddhism doesn't count--it's not part of 'our' cultural operating system.) But coming from a western cultural perspective you're an outcast--enlightenment is outlandish from a western cultural milieu. Even the term enlightenment has been reduced to a platitude in our society, and if you mean anything other than that by it, it's met with hysteria. But call it Gnosis and (tada!) you're safe, it's recognizable as a Greek word, and no one knows what the hell you mean by that anyway. So from the perspective of science it's no mystery, it's already been solved. For science to take it upon itself to 'solve' this mystery rates right up there with the guy who solved the mystery of belly button lint--you know, it just doesn't care. Science already has a full time job trying to keep humanity from destroying itself, so let's not waste its time on trivial matters.

And I'm not sure about Freud's metaphysical leanings, but I know toilet training is somehow involved. But as for Jung this 'spiritual realm' would exist inside the collective unconscious, I believe.

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Re: The Sethian Mythos

Post by Taurandir » Thu Jan 19, 2017 5:12 pm

I'm reading a book about Jungian psychology right now trying to learn something about it. Do you agree with this.

Jung believed that the experience of the soul was a manifestation of the personal individual unconscious, while he believed that the experience of demons, angels, gods, spirits of all kinds basically, were manifestations of the collective unconscious; that they were sort of built into the hardware of every person. I get the impression that he left open the possibility or chose not to deal with the question of whether these spirits (or "archetypes" as he called them) corresponded to realities outside of the psyche.

Perhaps I'm just trying to bend Jungian psychology to include the supernatural because I'm fond of it and would like to have a world where that was a possibility. I suppose Jung was coming at it from a purely scientific point of view, but he was just more open-minded than Freud. I've often thought Freud's psychology told us more about Freud than the human psyche.

On a side note, I hate the fact that Freud's supremacy has led to a world where so much is seen through a sexual filter, even quite innocent things. Sometimes a banana is just a banana, in fact I would say it is almost always just a banana. My god, get over it.
-Raúl

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Re: The Sethian Mythos

Post by Lúthien » Mon Jan 23, 2017 5:13 am

Copy that about Freud, Taurandir!

It's very interesting to read about Jung and Freud breaking up in Jung's "Memories, Dreams, Reflections". While the common opinion is that the 'scientific' Freud dumped his 'not so scientific' pupil Jung because Jung was a bit wacko; in that book you can read a wholly different view on the matter. It comes down to that Freud was adamant to defend his theory of sexual repression (or whatever it was) in a way that went way beyond a scientific quest for truth. Friend WANTED it to be accepted for personal reasons (and even threw a few tantrums about it if we can believe Jung), and Jung couldn't go along with that.

The straw that broke the camel's back was indeed Jung publishing a book that Freud thought was unscientific, but their relationship had already cooled below freezing then.
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Re: The Sethian Mythos

Post by Lúthien » Mon Jan 23, 2017 5:23 am

About Jungian psychology including supernatural: he made a development in that sense. At first he did not take anything supernatural into account, but his experiences around the time of the Red Book (1913-1920(?)) changed his mind.

I think Lance quotes him somewhere, referring to something Jung said in the time he was not including the supernatural - something to the effect of "I marvel at the fact that nature has been able to codify (all that unconscious material) in genetic material" but comments that Jung later abandoned that view, and regarded the unconscious as not limited by the cranium.

Also somewhere in 'Memories, Dreams, Reflections' Jung uses the image of a rhizome growing underground (the collective unconscious) sprouting flowers that pierce the earth and blossom for a while, then wither and die (individual persons), while the rhizome continues.
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