This is my free rendering of the crucial passage ("The Vision & the Riddle") from Book III of Nietzszche’s famous revelatory prose-poem about Sri Zarathustra -- the post-metaphysical saint & trans-religious guru. We can speculate endlessly about whether this or that historical sage was aligned with "postmetaphysical spirituality" but it is obvious, overt and intended in the case of Zarathustra. Consequently he should hold a special place of honor in our hearts... and even perhaps a privileged status in the ethos of this online forum.

Fans of this luminous text (Thus Spoke Zarathustra) will know how this passage fits into the basic plot. After attaining illumination, the idiosyncratic and irreligious sage is moved by his natural compassionate abundance. He wishes to share his energy and depth in the human marketplace. But he soon discovers that the world is too full of disparate viewpoints. A superficial cacophony, a motley and bovine assemblage of diverse value systems swarms in the contemporary culture -- refuting all coherence and making mockery of authentic enactments of depth. So Zarathustra turns instead to the cultivation of a small band of friends (the free spirits) who are intellectually and spiritually attracted to his message. Over time, however, he begins to worry that their positive response to him may actually be impeding their own development. Even though they understand and agree with his teachings, they are not yet enough of themselves to really get where he is coming from. Thus he retires from being a “guru” and becomes a wanderer among the Happy Islands. He seeks to discover non-obvious truths which have not been revealed in his enlightenment. He is desperate to discover why higher transformative intelligence is not getting through to human civilization in a more dynamic manner. And he wants to overcome two lingering problems that he has diagnosed in his own psyche -- the egotism of his enlightenment & his sense of depression about modern humanity.

He sets out to sea. This is the setting of The Vision & The Riddle. The subsequent passage in the text is called Of Involuntary Bliss. That is very suggestive. The passage we will examine presents a secret that may generate unforced contentment. This prophetic writing by Nietzsche should be of particular interest to those who have studied Adi Da's description of the insights which led to his own laughing, dancing and peculiar awakening. 

THE VISION & THE RIDDLE


PART ONE


When it became rumored aboard the ship that the controversial sage Zarathustra was among them, a great curiosity and expectancy arose. Yet Zarathustra was brooding on his rare troubles and behaved as if cold and deaf to those around him. He did not respond to glances or queries. However, on the evening of the second day at sea, he relaxed and opened his ears again. He discovered that many strange things were buzzing on board that ship -- which had already come far and still had very far to go. Despite himself, he had always been a friend to those who take long journeys and do not want to live without danger. So behold! By listening to his fellow travelers he found his tongue loosened and his icy solitude broken. Thus he spoke with them, saying:


To you, bold venturers & adventurers, I speak! I speak to whomever has ever embarked with cunning sails upon dreadful seas, to you who are intoxicated by puzzling riddles, who take pleasure in the twilight of dusk, whose soul is lured by flutes into every treacherous abyss. You do not desire to grope for a rope with cowardly hands, and where you can guess you hate to calculate. To you alone do I tell this riddle of what I saw -- the vision of the Most Solitary Man.

Lately, I was walking gloomily through a deathly gray twilight. Gloomily & sternly. With compressed lips. Not only one sun had gone down for me! My path was mounting a mountain defiantly through stark boulders and rubble. It was a wicked, solitary path no longer cheered by any bush or plant -- a mountainous path crunching under my defiant foot.

Striding mutely over the mocking clatter of pebbles, trampling stones and making them slip, my feet forced themselves upward with great effort. Upward -- despite the spirit that drew them downward... down toward the abyss. It was the Spirit of Gravity! My old devil and arch-enemy. Upward I climbed although he sat heavily upon me, half dwarf & half mole, crippled & crippling. He poured lead drops into my ear and leaden thoughts into my brain.

O Zarathustra!” he said mockingly, sounding it out syllable by syllable, “you stone of wisdom! You have thrown yourself so high… but every stone that is thrown must FALL! O Zarathustra, you stone of wisdom, you great projectile, you star-destroyer! You have thrown yourself so high but every stone that is thrown MUST fall! Condemned by your self, condemned to your own stone throwing… O Zarathustra, you has thrown you stone so far but it will fall back upon you!

The dwarf then fell silent for a long time. His silence oppressed me. To be silent like that in company is truly more lonely than to be alone… So I climbed. I climbed, I dreamed & thought, but everything oppressed me. I was like a man with an awful illness who awakens from a nightmare to find himself in an even worse dream.

But there something in me that I am willing to call “courage”. It has always returned to destroy whatever is discouraging in me. This courage at last made me stop and say:

Dwarf! You -- or I!”

Courage is the best destroyer -- a courage that attacks. In every attack there is a small triumphant shout.  

The human being is the most courageous animal. Armed with his courage, he has overcome every beast. With his triumphant shout he has conquered so many natural pains. But inside him is a special human pain that is deeper than all others.

Courage also destroy the giddiness we feel in the face of an abyss. And where does a man not stand facing an abyss? To be able to see oneself -- doesn’t that meaning finding an abyss everywhere?

Courage is the best destroyer. Courage also destroys pity. Pity is the deepest abyss, for as deeply as a person looks into Life they will see into suffering.

Courage is the best destroyer, I say, a courage that attacks. For it destroys even Death when it declares, “Was that life? Very well then -- once more!” There is a great triumphant shout in such a saying. Whomever has hears, let him hear.


PART TWO


“Stop, dwarf!” I said. “It is I - or you! And I am the stronger one -- for you do not know my abysmal thought. You could not endure to know what I am now thinking…

Then I felt suddenly lighter. The dwarf jumped down from my shoulder to examine something. That inquisitive dwarf! He squatted upon a stone and we beheld a strange portal which stood where we had halted.

Behold this gateway, dwarf!” I announced. “It has two sides. Two paths come together here and no one has ever gone to the end of either. This long pathway behind us goes on for an eternity. And that long lane ahead -- that is another eternity. They are opposed to each other but they touch each other. They diverge in conflict but in this gateway they come together. The name written above this threshold is: The Moment. If one were to follow them further and ever further do you suppose, dwarf, that they would remain in opposition?

Everything straight lies,” muttered the dwarf disdainfully. “All truth is crooked and time itself is a circle…

Spirit of Gravity,” I cursed angrily. “Do not treat this so lightly! Or perhaps I will leave you here, squatting where you are on your lame feet. I have carried you so very high!”

That silenced him. I continued:

Behold this moment! From this portal a long eternal lane runs back -- and an eternity lies ahead. Must not all things that can pass not already have passed along this lane? Must not all things that can happen have already happened, been done, gone passed? For they have had forever to do it! And if all things have been here before then what do you think of this moment, dwarf? Must not this gateway have been here before? Are not all things entangled so tightly that this moment pulls with it all future things and also itself?

For all things that can pass must run once again forward along this long lane. And that slow spider creeping in this moonlight, and this moonlight, and I & you whispering at the gateway together, whispering of eternal things -- must we not have already been here? And must we not return and pass forward eternally along that long terrible lane that reaches ahead...

Thus I spoke, more and more softly, trailing off… for I was suddenly afraid of my own thoughts and many concerns about this matter. But my worry was interrupted by the sound of a dog howling nearby.

Had I ever heard a dog howl thusly? My memory ran backwards -- yes! Once when I was a child… in my most distant childhood… I heard a dog howling in this way. And I saw it too! Bristling. Its head raised. Trembling in the stillness of midnight when even dogs believe in ghosts. It moved me to pitiful empathy.

The full moon had just gone over the roof of the house, silent as death, and stopped. A still round glow upon the flat roof as if upon a forbidden place. An intrusion. That was what terrified the dog -- for dogs believe in thieves and ghosts. And so when I heard that howling again on the mountain I was again moved to pity.

Where had the dwarf gone? And the gateway? And the spider? Had I only been dreaming? Had I now awoken? All at once I found myself standing alone between wild barren cliffs -- desolate in the most desolate moonlight.

And I spotted a man lying on the ground. Beside him the dog was leaping, bristling, whining, imploring. It saw me coming and howling again. It cried out!  Had I ever heard a dog cry out for help like that?

Truly, I had never seen such a spectacle as I did then:

The man was a young shepherd, the master of a flock, and he was writhing, choking, convulsing with his face distorted. And why? Because a heavy black snake was hanging from his mouth, caught in his throat.

I had never seen so much disgust and pallid horror on a face. Had he been asleep, perhaps? Had the serpent crawled into his sleeping maw and bitten into his throat, locking itself in place?

I rushed to his side and tugged and yanked on the snake but in vain. Those yanks could not tug the snake from the shepherd’s throat. And then I heard my own voice call out:

Bite! Bite its head off! Bite!" All my horror, hate, disgust and pity, all my good and evil cried out of me with a single cry.

You bold men around me on this ship, you venturers & adventurers, those of you who have embarked with cunning sails upon undiscovered seas! You who take pleasure in puzzles -- solve for me the riddle that I saw that night. Interpret for me the vision of the most solitary man!

For it was a vision and a premonition.

What did I see in this allegory? Who is it that must one day come? Who is this shepherd into whose mouth the snake thus crawled? Who is the man into whose throat all that is heaviest and blackest will thus crawl?

The shepherd bit as my cry had advised him. He bit with a good bite -- spitting away the snake’s head and springing to his feet. No longer a shepherd, no longer a man! He was a transformed being surrounded by light. Laughing.

Never yet on Earth has any man laughed as he laughed.

O my brothers, I heard then a laughter that was no longer human and it awoken in me a terrible thirst. My thirst for that laughter consumes me. This longing is never stilled. My longing for this laughter consumes me.

How do I even endure to live without it?

And how could I possibly endure to die now?


Thus spoke Zarathustra.



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#21.

"Our task -- to see things as they are. Our method -- to look through millions of eyes." - N.

#22. THE REVALUATION OF ALL VALUES.

This famous phrase is not only about the personal and social courage to question the health of our various ideals. It is also a very dynamic description of how perspectival development occurs.

Kegan's commonly discussed model tells us that consciousness grows by converting "subject" into "object" -- the perspectives in which we are embedded become things that our New Self can contemplate. But there is a very dry flavor to this vision. Nietzsche keeps our evaluations and feelings front-and-center in his analysis of how we make inner progress.

The issue is not simply about "witnessing" and thereby becoming the more objective knower of an expanded identity. It is about questioning and undermining the point of bondage which keeps us enthralled with our current perspectives. Even if we can see something about ourselves we often do not release it. Release depends upon valuing it as something that CAN be released (or as Da Free John used to say "garbage").

All of our ideals and viewpoints are anchored by their entanglement with our self-concern. The ego is largely a feeling matter, a values matter. And to grow beyond it (to a greater ego!) means unhooking our current values and liberating them toward a higher coherence. To unhook means to have some wiggle room between ourselves and our habits. But, again, just seeing it is often not enough wiggle room. We have to wonder, really, substantially, whether or not we CARE that way.

To become transrational, for example, requires not only that we recontextualize conventional Reason against a broader backdrop -- it also requires that we take a moral & personal risk. We have to at least wonder whether or not the feelings of necessity we currently have are... actually necessary. This does not negate them. However it is necessary if we are going to feel beyond (rather than just see beyond) our current level.

Nietzsche repeatedly, especially in his autobiography, stresses that wisdom is as much a matter of DARING the truth as it is of knowing the truth. This courage relates to the risk we take when we revalue our current highest and most personally important values. Including, the saints will tell us, the core value of self-concern...

#23. TRANSPERSONAL EFFECTS.

To paraphrase a beautiful note from his Divine Madness Period (which occurred between Nietzsche's final books and his confinement in a primitive German sanitarium under pretty dubious therapeutic conditions):

"I would rather be a 19th century philosopher than GOD -- but I am not so vain and selfish as to let this get in the way of creating the whole universe!"

This is a typical Nietzschean remark. It very slyly, trans-ironically, confesses to humorous Self-identification with the Divine and linguistically emphasizes the joyous, transfiguring blur of nonduality.

#24. THE OVERMAN is described (in a letter to Nietzsche's friend) as a creative hybrid of Jesus Christ & the infamous Renaissance prince-general Cesare Borgia. We might just as easily say a cross between the Buddha & Emperor Augustus Caesar. Or the Dalai Lama mixed with Genghis Khan?

This is the image of a benevolent, compassionate, fully-realized Avataric saint mixed with a pragmatic, sensual, earthy, dynamic, world-conquering spirit. We might say this sounds an awful lot like a "tantric" messiah -- a peak of ascending and descending spirituality. Perhaps we get a taste of such figures in the complex, controversial and "very human" gurus like G.I.Gurdjieff and Adi Da Samraj.

We might also find an echo in Osho Rajneesh's prophecy of what he called "Zorba the Buddha". The axial age spiritual patriarch-martyrs are envisioned as integrating aggression, strategy, sensuality, artistry, ambition, etc. Full spectrum humanism coupled with classic spiritual purity and Divine Self-Consciousness. This is a very provocative notion for us to wrestle with...

$25. THE THREE AGES OF MORALITY

Nietzsche proposes an (integral-friendly) notion of emergent historical phases of social morality -- pre-conventional, conventional & post-conventional. Here they are:

The PRE-MORAL AGE involves individuals who experience very little socialized interiority. Consequently they responded with moral force mainly toward effects and consequences. If your sheep died mysteriously... you might be a witch! Or cursed! At any rate the village's wrath against you is morally justified. Failure was sin. To lose a battle meant that the Power of Heaven had chosen against you. Or: kill the stranger, save the town!

During the MORAL AGE people developed an intensified interior consciousness and began to expect this as the source and anchor of moral concern. Thus significance was attributes to the moral value of "inner intentions". Thus we ask whether you meant to do it. What was your motive? Your plan? Your attempt? Your state of mind? Your allegiance? Guilt becomes an issue.

And the POST-MORAL AGE describes the still-emerging period in which consciousness has expanded beyond "simple interiority" begun to critique itself. Today, fueled by brain studies & deconstructionism, we might wonder whether intentions even matter? Aren't villains just sick? Who is really culpable of anything? Does guilt matter? Is it counterproductive to think in those terms? Obviously capital punishment is not a deterrent nor a retribution -- so are there any conditions under which it is morally justified? If our own mind is the last to know about our motives... then our new morality must act beyond "blame". But, all the same, it must ACT.

$26. THE "HERD".

Remember Nietzsche tries to use provocative & vertical terminology in a non-pejorative way to entrap those who are not "his" readers. So the notion of the Herd should be taken as descriptive and not demeaning. Taken as a whole, his writings are full of praise for the Herd and intimations about the need to overcome our idealistic disdain for mass of humanity. The Overman has no resentment.

Actually the word "herd" is not used often. It has a distinctively mammalian or bovine flavor. We think of the Minotaur (cow-brain, human body) as the opposite of the integral Centaur (fully human consciousness, fully embodied animality). However an insectoid metaphor is also pertinent. We talk of swarm behavior. We talk of the "hive".

There is a voluntary, primitive and not unintelligent instinct at work in groupthink. My simplified synopsis of ideology is that insect hives are pre-consciously impulsed to preserve the existing resource-control systems of the hive. And in humans (as per Marx) we subconsciously do things that favor the existing material controllers even at our own expense. This is exacerbated in the shift from ethnocentric to worldcentric consciousness.

The observation that Herd-morality (simplified neighbor-love, hatred of arrogance, passive-aggressive equality sentiment, special honor for the lest among us, etc.) has become the standard notion of morality should fascinate us. It is only one of several instinct sets trying to empower themselves within us but it has had an impressive historical triumph. In "The Geneaology of Morals" Nietzsche traces this alongside other evolving lines of moral history.

Individuals, up to an including so-called Overmen, are tasked to understand and appropriately serve/govern the folk-herd and the herd of the whole world.

$27. THE GENIUS OF THE HEART.

Here is the famous passage #295 from "Beyond Good & Evil" describing Dionysus:

The Genius of the Heart (as that great Mysterious One possesses it), the tempter-god & born rat-catcher of consciences, whose voice can descend into the netherworld of every soul, who neither speaks a word nor casts a glance in which there may not be some motive or touch of allurement, to whose perfection it pertains that he knows how to appear -- not as He is, but in a guise which acts as an ADDITIONAL constraint on his followers to press ever closer to him, to follow him more cordially and thoroughly...

The Genius of the Heart, which imposes silence and attention on everything loud and self-conceited, which smoothes rough souls & makes them taste a new longing -- to lie placid as a mirror, that the deep heavens may be reflected in them...

The Genius of the Heart, which teaches the clumsy and too hasty hand to hesitate, and to grasp more delicately; which scents the hidden and forgotten treasure, the drop of goodness and sweet spirituality under thick dark ice, and is a divining- rod for every grain of gold, long buried and imprisoned in mud and sand; the genius of the heart, from contact with which every one goes away richer; not favoured or surprised, not as though gratified and oppressed by the good things of others; but richer in himself, newer than before, broken up, blown upon, and sounded by a thawing wind; more uncertain, perhaps, more delicate, more fragile, more bruised, but full of hopes which as yet lack names, full of a new will and current, full of a new ill-will and counter-current . . . but what am I doing, my friends?

Of whom am I talking to you?

Have I forgotten myself so far that I have not even told you his name? Unless it be that you have already divined of your own accord who this questionable God and spirit is, that wishes to be PRAISED in such a manner? For, as it happens to every one who from childhood onward has always been on his legs, and in foreign lands, I have also encountered on my path many strange and dangerous spirits; above all, however, and again and again, the one of whom I have just spoken: in fact, no less a personage than the God DIONYSUS, the great equivocator and tempter, to whom, as you know, I once offered in all secrecy and reverence my first-fruits--the last, as it seems to me, who has offered a SACRIFICE to him, for I have found no one who could understand what I was then doing. In the meantime, however, I have learned much, far too much, about the philosophy of this God, and, as I said, from mouth to mouth--I, the last disciple and initiate of the God Dionysus: and perhaps I might at last begin to give you, my friends, as far as I am allowed, a little taste of this philosophy? In a hushed voice, as is but seemly: for it has to do with much that is secret, new, strange, wonderful, and uncanny.

The very fact that Dionysus is a philosopher, and that therefore Gods also philosophize, seems to me a novelty which is not un-ensnaring, and might perhaps arouse suspicion precisely among philosophers;--among you, my friends, there is less to be said against it, except that it comes too late and not at the right time; for, as it has been disclosed to me, you are loth nowadays to believe in God and gods. It may happen, too, that in the frankness of my story I must go further than is agreeable to the strict usages of your ears? Certainly the God in question went further, very much further, in such dialogues, and was always many paces ahead of me . . . Indeed, if it were allowed, I SHOULD have to give him (according to human custom) fine ceremonious tides of luster and merit, I should have to extol his courage as investigator and discoverer, his fearless honesty, truthfulness, and love of wisdom.

But such a God does not know what to do with all that respectable trumpery and pomp. "Keep that," he would say, "for thyself and those like thee, and whoever else require it! I have no reason to cover my nakedness!"

One suspects that this kind of divinity and philosopher perhaps lacks shame?--He once said: "Under certain circumstances I love mankind"--and referred thereby to Ariadne, who was present; "in my opinion man is an agreeable, brave, inventive animal, that has not his equal upon earth, he makes his way even through all labyrinths. I like man, and often think how I can still further advance him, and make him stronger, more evil, and more profound."--

"Stronger, more evil, and more profound?" I asked in horror. "Yes," he said again, "stronger, more evil, and more profound; also more beautiful"--and thereby the tempter-god smiled with his halcyon smile, as though he had just paid some charming compliment.

One here sees at once that it is not only shame that this divinity lacks;--and in general there are good grounds for supposing that in some things the Gods could all of them come to us men for instruction. We men are...more human.

$28. HIGHER PEAKS

Whose peaks are higher?

Nietzsche loves the "style" of Schopenhauer but disagrees with almost all his conclusions. An main difference is that Schopenhauer posits the will-to-survive as the primary cosmic drive... while Nietzsche notes the many conditions under which both men & animals will sacrifice their lives and genes for certain types of meaningful feelings. The notion of the drive for increasing empowerment (W2P) describes a universe of energies which are always doing their best to incorporate each other, balance themselves internally and achieve their maximal depth and intensity of dynamic Beingness ("becoming"). After all, Nature does have an "eye" by which She stands apart and views how organisms are doing... rather She experiences their internal condition directly and uses that to navigate Her way forward.

Using these notions as the basis of a proto-value system (which underlies all interpretations, all alternative overt values) he attempts a post-relativistic "objective" set of values. In this world the purpose of life is to maximize peak experiences -- not in number but in degree. This requires two simultaneous functions that I might combine as "simplexity".

The greatest intensity of peaks (or pleateaux or even "stages") are felt by those who have unified (integrated) the most multifarious set of internal contradictions. They have health-ified and person-alized the most opposed and nuanced instincts. Yet the great complexity increases the fragility, the time necessary for unification and exposes the individual to the high risk of failure. On the other hand, simpler individuals and collectives are more like to attain their characteristic peaks. So -- with an eye toward cultivating a "better" future -- we walk a tightrope between stabler-but-simpler peaks and deeper-but-less-stable peaks.

Thus we cannot do away with either the "herd" or the "higher men". We are always trying to weave their virtues together. Nihilism results when our internal complexity of instincts exceeds our capacity for consolidation and harmonization. But "fitness" in a simpler being produces less intense experiences of Being-Becoming-Empowerment than in creatures who assimilate richer and more problematic perspectives, feelings, instincts, etc.

It should not escape our gaze that this is remarkably similar to Ken Wilber's summary of the "basic moral intuition" of the integral level of consciousness -- the greatest depth for the greatest span. In which, of course, depth depends on differentiation and integration.

$29. EVOLUTION

All "evolutionaries" are Nietzsche's grandchildren in a sense.

Although he picks up Hegel's narrative of socio-cosmic self-overcoming he places his unique & special stress upon the unknown character of what is yet to emerge.

While one often gets the impression that Hegel is using the phenomenology of the present moment to affirm modern humanity as the jewel of evolution... N. asks us to hold open a "clearing" for what is beyond us, next, strange, trying to emerge -- the ones to whom Man is like an Ape.

He was an early pro-evolution advocate... but also a harsh critic of Darwinists. Their position was too "positivist" and "naive" and "English utilitarian" to encompass the complexities of the evolutionary mechanisms.

Like the epigenetics researchers of the 21st century, Nietzsche tends to favor a nuanced reading of Lamarck -- for there is clearly a range of subjective, social & biological interactions which drive mutation in a number of different "artistic" styles.

One of the most common mystical articulation is the one we might today associate with scientific documentary entertainment about evolutionary history and the tree of life. Nietzsche often says, privately and publically, that he feels the entire history of life, all the beasts and plants and stars, living in him -- living AS him -- rushing forward through Time in one glorious and monstrous dance of organismic ecstasy.

The first 30 entries from NIETZSCHE CLUB!

$30. HAPPINESS.

Nietzsche quips hilariously that: "Man does not seek happiness -- only the Englishman does". He means, of course, that the utilitarian notion of economically maximizing pleasant experiences is both deeply rooted in the culture of British imperial bureaucracy AND that it is a psychologically misleading way to phrase our most innate impulse. After all, we constantly sacrifice happiness for other forms of possible empowerment.

He defines happiness as the 'feeling of increase' or the "feeling that power is enhanced'. Yet he also defines all things whatsoever as forms of the will-to-power. So we are entirely w2p before the happy feeling. And entirely w2p after the happy feeling. What has changed? What has increased? It is the coherent coordination of the empowerment impulses of which we are composed. Intensified coherence of drives/instincts feels good. Plants, animals, humans, minerals and stars are all skewed toward this enhancement through their actions and interpretations. Every "thing" would like to be the foundational context for more coherent power-drives.

And that both "is" happiness and often does not look very much like what civil utilitarians imagine happiness must be.

As the fierce dragon with his looming haughtiness dwarfs the plain smiling man, this Mr. Small glances towards the mixed group of onlookers who have fear, envy, and bloodlust in their eyes and postures. He can see that they are not all for him, and he is not distracted by that nor by the whole emergent situation. He half-grins and says, "Hah, I have him right where I want him."

Layman Pascal said:

$29. EVOLUTION

All "evolutionaries" are Nietzsche's grandchildren in a sense.

Although he picks up Hegel's narrative of socio-cosmic self-overcoming he places his unique & special stress upon the unknown character of what is yet to emerge.

While one often gets the impression that Hegel is using the phenomenology of the present moment to affirm modern humanity as the jewel of evolution... N. asks us to hold open a "clearing" for what is beyond us, next, strange, trying to emerge -- the ones to whom Man is like an Ape.

He was an early pro-evolution advocate... but also a harsh critic of Darwinists. Their position was too "positivist" and "naive" and "English utilitarian" to encompass the complexities of the evolutionary mechanisms.

Like the epigenetics researchers of the 21st century, Nietzsche tends to favor a nuanced reading of Lamarck -- for there is clearly a range of subjective, social & biological interactions which drive mutation in a number of different "artistic" styles.

One of the most common mystical articulation is the one we might today associate with scientific documentary entertainment about evolutionary history and the tree of life. Nietzsche often says, privately and publically, that he feels the entire history of life, all the beasts and plants and stars, living in him -- living AS him -- rushing forward through Time in one glorious and monstrous dance of organismic ecstasy.

"N. asks us to hold open a "clearing" for what is beyond us, next, strange, trying to emerge -- the ones to whom Man is like an Ape."

Yes, great enjoining by N.

Often we don't really know what possibility is portended by our getting mixed up at a boundary situation - except, maybe, later, no? Often we begin to sense the innumerable shifts, imbalances, disruptions, confusions, and then often the quickly and almost intrinsically associated anxiety and fear. These dreaded emotions channel us down familiar grooves, wash us down familiar currents of interpretation and thought. In the midst of the real deal, and not just the projected thought of a new strange trying to emerge, we miss this injunction to see/feel/know that a "clearing" in which to settle may be latently present.

We are overwhelmed by the apparati of biopsychosocial self. It is so understandable.

Yet I suppose that you, and N, are suggesting that we might come to 'know' the clearing early on. This is not to say that the next best thing to know this from a distance and maybe largely in retrospect is not something.

I'm supposing that N's and your sense of contemplation is a means of coming to feel the clearing when not in the midst of everyday crises. Maybe this clearing to live with a strange emergent becomes more possible in these deep moments of recognition, before the very ordinary freak-outs. Maybe new swales in the behavioral epigenic landscape begin to form and invite us.

It's cheating a little, perhaps, when one has one's life tightly regulated, modulated, and circumscribed as this avoids the feelings of impending doodoo and might lead one to imagine that they are so open to the unknown being who will replace the man who replaced the ape. Isn't it similar to Jung's metaphor that if we can go along with destiny, we don't need to be dragged kicking and screaming at the daily fates that ever encroach on and reverberate through us?

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What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?

This group is for anyone interested in exploring these questions and tracing out the horizons of an integral post-metaphysical spirituality.

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