Book Club Post

The Cosmic Doctrine: The Beginnings of Consciousness

This week we continue a monthly discussion of The Cosmic Doctrine by Dion Fortune, which I consider the most important work of 20th century occult philosophy. Climb in and fasten your belts; it’s turning out to be as wild a ride as I expected. If you’re just joining us now, please go back and read the previous commentaries, which are listed here; the material covered in these earlier posts is essential to making sense of what follows.

As noted in earlier posts, there are two widely available editions of The Cosmic Doctrine, the revised edition first published in 1956 and the Millennium Edition first published in 1995, which reprints the original privately printed edition of 1949. You can use either one for the discussions that follow. The text varies somewhat between the two editions, but the concepts and images are the same, and I’ll be referring to both.

Assigned Reading:

Revised Edition:  Chapter 10, “The Beginnings of Consciousness,” pp. 48-51.

Millennium Edition: Chapter 10, ‘The Relation Between the Projected Image and the Logoidal Consciousness,” and Chapter 11, “Auto-Reactions and Cosmic Memory,” pp. 67-72.

Commentary:

This month’s section from The Cosmic Doctrine goes further along the path sketched out last month—the trajectory that leads from one set of metaphors based on physics to another based on psychology. It’s an unfamiliar route in today’s world, for two reasons. First, our habitual way of dealing with knowledge is to break it up into separate sciences, so that – to borrow one of Buckminster Fuller’s jokes – nature has to call an interdepartmental meeting any time a kid throws a stone into a lake, to figure out how to resolve this unwarranted intrusion of one discipline on another that proceeds from psychology through anatomy to physics.

The point of the joke, of course, is that divisions between sciences have to do with the limits of human understanding, not with the thing that’s being understood. Psychology and physics exist in the same world, subject to the same characteristic observed sequences of events that modern materialist thinkers like to call “natural laws.” At least in theory, it should be possible to start from either science and move step by step to the other, making only the changes required by shifts in complexity or scale.  That’s exactly what Fortune is doing in this section of The Cosmic Doctrine; having built up an elaborate set of metaphors relating to motion in space, she shows how increasing complexity gradually transforms motion into mind – and, of course, vice versa.

That’s where we enter into the second source of unfamiliarity, because the gap between physics and psychology, between matter and mind, has been turned into a no man’s land full of smoking craters and barbed wire by centuries of bitter quarrels between science and religion. For a long time, it was standard practice in the Western world to split the cosmos down the middle, handing the material world over to the scientists while turning the world of subjective experience over to the clergy. It’s the attempt to overcome this division and claim the whole of existence for one’s own that drives the efforts of scientific materialists to insist that mind is “nothing but” something matter does, if mind exists at all; the same attempt drives the efforts of Christian fundamentalists to insist that the Bible ought to be treated as a geology textbook.

One of the things that makes occultism so controversial in today’s society is that the subject matter of the occultist is the realm where physics and psychology impinge on one another. To be an occultist is to deal with the places where mind affects matter and matter affects mind – where a symbolic image held in the mind and filled with emotional energy can make things happen in the world of outward experience; where the positions of the stars at the moment of birth reveal an individual’s character and destiny; and so on through the roll call of the occult sciences.

It’s not unheard of for occultists to engage in the same sort of imperial thinking as scientific and religious fundamentalists, and try to impose occult explanations on the whole of existence. That’s why H.P. Blavatsky’s first big book, Isis Unveiled, spends one thick volume lambasting the science of her time and another lambasting the mainstream religions of western Europe and the Americas. (Her critiques didn’t age well, which is why even among Theosophists you won’t find many people who’ve put a significant amount of study into Isis Unveiled.)  More often, the occultists of Fortune’s time placed their discipline in the gap between science and religion, and tried to maintain good relationships with both sides – an attempt that got no more encouragement from either side, to be sure, than it does today.

By and large, this latter approach was Fortune’s way of dealing with things; that’s why she encouraged her students to study the sciences and to participate in whatever religion made sense to them. (She practiced what she preached; she published books on psychology and soybean cultivation, and most Sundays you could find her at her Anglican parish church.)  The Cosmic Doctrine, though, took a subtler tack. By presenting metaphors for meditation that move elegantly from physics to psychology, she provided a mental toolkit for bridging the gap between mind and matter without trying to impose any one set of explanations on either. That, to conclude this somewhat lengthy prologue, is the project that this month’s text is meant to further.

We are dealing at this stage in her cosmology with the mind of the Solar Logos, the god of this solar system, whose physical body is the Sun and whose aura embraces the planets. This is a metaphor that reveals much, though readers who don’t have the kind of occult training Fortune’s students got may need some help following out its implications. In occult teaching, the aura or Sphere of Sensation is a roughly egg-shaped body of subtle energies that surrounds the physical body. It’s the body of consciousness, and its outer surface is both the sense organ by which we perceive patterns in consciousness and the organ of action by which we create such patterns and radiate them outwards for others to perceive. (In modern English, we confuse these two processes by lumping them together under the single word “imagination.”)

The solar system is the aura of the Solar Logos. It is the screen on which the influences of other Logoi and of the twelve great Rays of the Cosmos are projected. So – and this is where the metaphor becomes extraordinarily useful – everything Fortune says about the relation between the Solar Logos and the solar system is also being said about the relation between your consciousness and the realm of images and ideas reflected from other minds or created by yours.

So we begin with some developmental psychology. The Solar Logos, remember, has settled into its orbit on the seventh Cosmic Plane after aeons of journeying, and the atoms swept up with it in its outward journey form a vast formless cloud around it. The Logos and its companion atoms all go through the various changes and reactions possible to them in their new setting – think of it as settling into a new neighborhood, meeting the neighbors and figuring out where to shop and what pub’s going to be your local from now on, and you’ve got a decent metaphor for this process – but the companion atoms, being much simpler than the Logos, get settled in much faster and then begin a process that’s going to play a very large role in what follows.

Fortune’s term for this process is “epigenesis.” Another term for it, which Fortune also uses and which expresses one of its core aspects very well, is “play.” The companion atoms have finished settling in long before the Solar Logos has finished brooding over its experiences, and so they find ways to fill the time until the Logos begins to act on them. That’s the first phase of Logoidal evolution – the creation, by the Cosmic atoms, of new possibilities through play – and it’s also the seed from which free will, in a certain nuanced sense, eventually unfolds.

The second phase of Logoidal evolution happens as the Logos reflects on its experiences, and those reflections shape the cloud of companion atoms around it. Since the Cosmos is what the Logos has experienced, the solar system (Fortune, like the astronomers of her childhood, calls this “the universe”) is drawn into the image of the Cosmos, with seven Circles or Planes surrounding the Logos and twelve Rays streaming outward from his solar body.

The third phase begins as the Logos begins to reflect on the solar system around it. It has been conscious of the Cosmos, and then of itself; now it becomes conscious of its surroundings; the differentiation between subject and object now shapes its awareness; and since its broodings are reflected outward into its aura, the Cosmic atoms that form its aura reflect this, and begin to perceive themselves as subjects and other things as objects.

This is an immense shift. Think of what you experience when you wake up out of a dream. You move from a state of consciousness with no center, in which “you” can mean a dozen different things in as many moments, to a state in which your own consciousness becomes the center of your experiences. You become a subject, and other things become objects; that allows you to know the things that surround you, but it also allows you to know yourself. That’s what happens in the third phase of Logoidal evolution.

It’s important to remember that none of this takes place in a vacuum. We’ve already learned that as the Solar Logos and its companion atoms move in their orbit, they’re affected by the forces of the twelve Cosmic rays, and also by the influences of Logoi on other planes. Once the Logos has awakened to objective consciousness, it is no longer directly aware of these things. They become the exact equivalent of the subconscious influences that affect each of us, and work their way out into the brooding of the Logos and the answering movements of the solar system in exactly the same way that subconscious influences on the human mind reflect themselves first in our thoughts and feelings, and then in the events we experience around us.

Since the Logos isn’t deliberately repressing the influences of the Cosmos, though, they work their way into consciousness in a roundabout fashion – the same way, in turn, that each of us can come to terms with our own subconscious patterns. A Cosmic influence shapes the brooding of the Logos, and causes certain modifications in the solar system; the Logos perceives these, reflects upon them, and integrates them into its own understanding of itself and its solar system – in words Fortune borrows from the Book of Genesis, it “sees that it is good.” This is the process by which the great creative periods take shape: the Days of Creation in Christian esotericism, for example, or the periods of geological history understood by science.

Implied here, of course, is the idea that the Solar Logos learns and grows. It is the god of its solar system—we’ll see a little later on where the other beings worshiped by polytheist religions come from and how they relate to the Logos—but neither it, nor they, nor any other being in Fortune’s vast metaphor, exists in a static condition of perfection. Everything is learning, growing, exploring new possibilities.

The Cosmic atoms are also learning and growing. Like the Solar Logos, they are conscious of the patterns of tracks in space they have created around themselves, and of the similar patterns that other Cosmic atoms have created around themselves—we call these patterns, in their present extremely complicated form, “bodies,” and call the tracks in space that form them “matter.” At first that consciousness is of a very simple form, like the bodies that are its objects, and both grow more complex as the solar system ripens. We’ll get to that in future chapters.

Notice, though, that the Cosmic atoms or Divine Sparks are not conscious of the Solar Logos. Instead, the Logoidal consciousness becomes the subconscious background of the newborn minds of the Divine Sparks, in exactly the same way that the Cosmos forms the subconscious background of the Logoidal consciousness. As the Divine Sparks ripen and engage in further epigenesis, they will each develop a personal subconscious, but the Logoidal consciousness remains as the deeper background to their acts and awareness. If you want to borrow a turn of phrase from another occultist with a strong background in psychology—yes, that would be Carl Jung—you can call these the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious respectively. The implication, as Jung and Fortune would both have agreed, is that the collective unconscious that humans experience is identical at its deepest level with the mind of God.

But what is this thing that we’re calling “consciousness”? It’s to Fortune’s credit that she does not try to dodge this difficult question. She starts by pointing out that consciousness does not belong to the Cosmos; it is not a reaction of the Cosmic atoms in and of themselves; it does not originate from and return to the Logos. It is a modification that affects the Logos and the Divine Sparks, and it is the first such modification that comes into being as a result of conditions in the solar system as distinct from the Cosmos. It is, to be precise, a matter of tracks in space.

Tracks in space, as my readers will doubtless remember, are how the Cosmos got started in the first place. The same principle gives rise to the solar system as we experience it, but there’s a difference, of course. The tracks in space that gave rise to the Cosmos were set in motion by the movement of empty space itself; the tracks in space that become a solar system are set in motion by the movement of Cosmic atoms, whether we’re talking about the immensely complex Cosmic atom who has become the Logos of the solar system or the far simpler Cosmic atoms who were swept up in the outward movement of that Great Organism. It’s all tracks in space, but within the context of a solar system, there’s a point to drawing a distinction between tracks in space that have a Cosmic origin and tracks in space that originate within a solar system, as a result of the actions of things that have a Cosmic origin. That distinction is in fact drawn very often; we call things of the Cosmos by the term “spirit,” and things of the solar system “matter.”

Between these lies a third kind of thing, which also originates within the solar system and is also a matter of tracks in space. A Cosmic atom reacts to something, and that reaction leaves a track in space that continues to flow even when the Cosmic atom is doing something else. That ongoing flow is memory. As reaction follows reaction and more tracks in space are formed, memories flow together into patterns of pure movement that we can, without too much confusion, call “thoughts” and “images.” Over time, the Cosmic atom or Divine Spark develops a rich network of movements in space surrounding it, expressing all the potentials for reaction that Divine Spark has gained.

So we have the Divine Spark, or spirit; the network of tracks in space surrounding it, which is mind; and the specific repeated movement patterns the Divine Spark acts out at any given time, which is body. It can be helpful to try to imagine these in some simple form—say, a Divine Spark as a single point of light tracing out the pattern of a triangle repeatedly, going from angle to angle to angle and around again, while all around the point of light whirl the faint tracks of other possible motions the Divine Spark isn’t making just at that moment. The point of light is spirit, the tracks whirling around it mind, the triangle body. Then imagine yourself as a far more complex version of the same thing: a glowing point of light, which is your spirit; a whirl of possibilities tumbling through your consciousness, which is your mind; and a pattern of movement which has swept up billions of other, smaller lives—the cells of your body—into its dance.

Notes for Study:

As already noted, The Cosmic Doctrine is heavy going, especially for those who don’t have any previous exposure to occult philosophy. It’s useful to read through the assigned chapter once or twice, trying to get an overview, but after that take it a bit at a time. The best option for most people seems to be to set aside five or ten minutes a day during the month you spend on this chapter. During that daily session, take one short paragraph or half of a long one, read it closely, and think about what you’ve read, while picturing in your mind’s eye the image you’ve been given for that passage of text.

As you proceed through the chapter and its images, you’re likely to find yourself facing questions that the text doesn’t answer. Some of those are questions Fortune wants you to ask yourself, either because they’ll be answered later in the book or because they will encourage you to think in ways that will help you learn what the text has to say. It can be helpful to keep a notebook in which to write down such questions, as well as whatever thoughts and insights might come to you as you study the text.

Questions and comments can also be posted here for discussion. (I’d like to ask that only questions and comments relevant to The Cosmic Doctrine be posted here, to help keep things on topic.) We’ll go on to the next piece of the text on May 8. Until then, have at it!

39 Comments

  1. You weren’t kidding when you said Cosmic Doctrine is “heavy going”, JMG! My poor brain is doing some major calisthenics just to grasp a morsel of this discussion.

    Pertaining to the subject-object relationship, I am trying to analogize it by dumbing it down and thinking of myself and my house. Not that I built my house with my own two hands or anything — I doubt I could successfully erect a mud hut — however, if I playact with myself in the role of “Logos”, then I project my own image onto my house, which I have consciously imprinted with my consciousness. For example, my house has a couple of gardens, a thrifted couch, one of my guitars, my husband’s attic man cave, etc. that are of course within certain parameters I prefer. The house itself is not aware of me (though this is the part where I get confused because the house has lots of spirits and energies who in essence imbue everything within it, including the gods the SOP has me invoking) but I am certainly aware of it and the creative process that enabled me to live here and that I made it happen.

  2. Just a note JMG. It is Chapter 10 (not 9) “The Beginning of Consciousness” pp. 48-51. Thanks

  3. JMG, what is relation between astral plane and Sphere of Sensation? Isn’t imagination (as an active force), operating in large part on astral plane like you explained in the Infinity Path podcast[1]? Is it an unique construction of Golden Dawn tradition? And original metaphor from Dion Fortune?

    Also, the image of the divine spark racing in the track of space, every movement reinforcing existing memory/patterns have so many implication for microcosmos – if Will is expression of Divine Spark, how far we can consciously shape all the cascading patterns, take the different path through space (and time on material plane). We can also track the change from the will through imagination through action and back – and see how it is important to anchor change (even symbolically as ad-hoc ritual) in psychical, astral and mental plane at the same time.

    [1] to every reader here, those podcasts are worth listening to, if you don’t keep with our illustrious host second site.

  4. Rita, thanks for this. Not sure about the website but the researcher they quote, Paul Devereux, is very competent — one of the experts in the field. I’ll have to chase down what he’s written on the subject.

    Kimberly, good. The beings that are aware of the Logos come a little later in the process.

    Dan, got it. Thanks.

    Changeling, the sphere of sensation or aura is etheric, but it reflects the patterns of the astral world. Imagination does indeed have its effects on the astral plane, through the medium of the sphere of sensation — and no, this isn’t a unique teaching of the GD or Fortune, it’s central to modern magic generally, and appears first (as far as I know) in Eliphas Levi.

  5. John–

    Only tangential to the chapter, but certainly provoked by it and by your commentary. You mentioned Isis Unveiled as a less-lasting work and I found myself reacting very strongly to that, not because of the work itself (of which I know very little), but rather a sense of frustration with this occult landscape more generally. I am standing in the midst of a vast, unknown territory. I have all of these various maps that have been drawn by various other explorers, but maps of varying quality and in different languages and using different keys. I am near-sighted and hard-of-hearing, so my own senses are of little use. How am I supposed to manage a trek across this terrain if I can’t tell which maps are good and which are nonsense, I can’t see or hear the land for myself, and even if I could discern the quality of the maps, I can’t reconcile the “good” maps into any kind of coherent over-all picture of the land?

    I recalled the comment you had Owen make in WoH #3, that he could spend his entire life studying the Necronomicon and still not have plumbed its depths to a great extent. The territory is so vast that I cannot possibly understand it to any meaningful degree.

    After sitting with this for a while yesterday, I realized that I was in some ways complaining because I wished to drink all the water in Lake Michigan and that task was proving to be overwhelming. Well, perhaps the decision to attempt that task is the source of the problem…

    So, I came back to accepting (if begrudgingly) the limitations of this finite existence and making what headway I can, even if it will be vanishingly small in the grand scheme of things.

    Now, back to studying.

  6. Hi, JMG and commentariat. I have uploaded a short story for the Love in the Ruins anthology (deadline May 1). For anyone who is interested in reading, it is to be found here: https://rageagainstsauron.blogspot.com/

    Regarding this month’s post on CosDoc, I’m loving it! I find the chapters about the ‘solar system’ much more stimulating and relatable than the preceding chapters. I also love the fact that Fortune depicts the Great Entity / Logos / Solar God as evolving entity – much more in line with polytheistic depictions of gods as interacting with other gods and “learning” in the process, rather than the monotheistic God who has always been omniscient and omnipotent (which if interpreted as the consciousness of the entire universe I don’t dispute as being possible, but is at a degree so far removed from our feeble minds that a God beyond all dualities is practically incomprehensible). This rhythm and flow of day/night, expansion/dissolution, activity and introspection, and how a being evolves due to these dualities – rather than experiencing a senseless repetition of these cycles – fits so well with the lives that we experience.

    In Indian culture, an art form or philosophy that is very rich but very difficult to penetrate is referred to as a “coconut”. CosDoc sure is one ripe coconut – thanks for cracking it open for us, JMG!

  7. Wow, that’s incredible. I’m actually kind of raw after reading your explanation. Or maybe it’s the journalling that I’ve just begun that’s left me emotionally open.

    I’m going to build up a physical analogy of my own here, if you’ll bear with me.

    If we were two dimensional beings, a three dimensional being would see us like we see a shape drawn on a piece of paper, or like we see a paramecium as a two dimensional shapes when we look at it swimming around on the slide of a microscope. If you were to take horizontal cross sections of my body and print them on transparencies, each slice would look like a two dimensional being. If we stack all of the cross sections (printed on transparencies) up in the right order, you would be looking at a three dimensional image of my body, encased in a box of clear plastic.

    To get an idea of what I look like in 4 dimensions (3+time), you would need to take a series of photographs from a fixed place, say 100 feet above the precise center of my house, and again print them on transparencies. If you stack all the transparencies on top of each other and look at them from above, you would see me swirling around my house very densely, less densely around my garden and yard, and even less densely around my neighborhood. If the resolution of the photos was really high, you could see cells and other material entering and leaving my body, along with water, and air.

    If the resolution was atomic, and you could see matter as it was–mostly empty–instead of how our eyes have learned to interpret matter, then you would see clouds of protons and electrons, really dense around my body proper, and diffusing outwards into the clouds that represent other people, animals and things. If you traced all the matter that came and left my body out to it’s source and destination, tendrils of me would radiate outwards into all the other objects on the earth, but there would be an extremely dense cloud at the center–my center–around which you could still draw an arbitrary border and call it me.

    Expand that analogy into the ethereal plane, astral plane, etc. with energy and ideas entering and leaving, and you have a picture as complex as anything I can even imagine the ability to imagine.

    So, thank you John. You swept me up into your cloud about 15 years ago with the incisively logical Archdruid Report, back when I thought the “Archdruid’ part was an ironic gag. Thanks to every one else as well. I didn’t start reading the comments section until a few years ago, internet comments being what they are, and have found your ideas and questions mind opening as well. Mind blowing is more accurate, and I don’t use the term at all lightly. It’s been quite a ride.
    Wooler

  8. Hello JMG and fellow commenters,

    I would also like to thank you for guidance through this most complex text. I know I would only be getting a fraction of what I am otherwise.

    Also, in reply to David’s comment about the sheer volume of material to learn once one begins to look orthogonally to the conventional view: I know how you feel. Some days it is like I’ve opened the closet to get a shirt, but instead found Narnia.

    So, John Michael, this is evidently skipping ahead a little, but this thought came to me while I was reading the text and I wanted to put it out there. If the Logos is capital “G” God, whose mind is the backdrop for all that occurs in our solar system, then the lowercase “g” gods would have to be found among the most complex of the other cosmic atoms swept up by the pre-Logos in its travels through the Cosmos. Since the text indicates that these atoms continue to evolve as a result of their interactions, this yields a model that seems to have a good fit with the concept of reincarnation, your divine spark having experiences in this life which are encoded in patterns of movement, then built on in future lives. This also suggests that the evolutionary step from conscious animal to spiritual being is some sort of state change of the divine spark, like from liquid to gas, because of the qualitative difference between those life forms.

    One more thought. Other stars then, are other Logoi. The reason then, as far as we can tell, that these other star systems are similar to ours (on the material/scientific level) is because these Logoi are born of the same Cosmos as ours, and took similar paths. Hmm. Now I am wondering about the spiritual significance of black holes, neutron stars and other stellar remnants. I can see the beginnings of a pattern, but I will not go down that particular rabbit hole right now.

    Thanks again!

  9. Finally all caught up! Felt good about it for a solid minute, until this month’s reading resulted in far more questions than answers. Every effort at filling in the gaps leads me down seven rabbit holes that have seven subrabbitholes. I accept it’s just a matter of time and persistence, which wears down all things, including rabbit holes.

    It isn’t so much this month’s reading gave rise to the questions, exactly, but rather that as time goes on, the questions in the blurry background become sharper.

    Among them: Is she going to lead us toward the idea of the planets as spirits/gods? In that vein, what about human interactions with the spirits/gods? How do their astrological effects on us fit in with them as spirits/gods influencing events on Earth? Is she leading us toward being able to comprehend them being all of these things simultaneously? Should I learn about the seven planes outside of CosDoc, or is that going to be covered? (I probably will anyway just because it’s becoming increasingly necessary to do so to understand what the planes are, these are just questions that have arisen.)

    Still, rather than obsess on what I can’t figure out yet, I’m going to take a moment to celebrate the breakthroughs –

    1. From your commentary last month: “The Great Entity is entirely unconscious of the Cosmos, in much the same way that you and I are unconscious of the deep processes of our own minds.” This was such a lightning strike moment. I immediately consciously went at my subconscious processes – they were open and able to be moved like never before with that revelation in mind. No, we can’t get to the bottom of the deep processes of our minds, but by being made aware of their existence in that fashion I was able to so quickly go to work at changing some of them.

    2. Also from last month: “The Great Entity is therefore, in Fortune’s words, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe it has brought into being.” I’m also going to connect this to commentary from October regarding the Trinity and the Three Rings. A nerdy passion of mine is seeing how universal truths manifest in different cultures and systems of knowledge. Once you lift the veil on different descriptive words and names of deities across different cultures, you find that the holy people of any given culture did in fact have a firm grasp of creation and universal truths.

    2.a. Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver, and Shiva the Destroyer in Hinduism as the triple deity, the Trimurti. There’s a story about Brahma and Vishnu fighting over who was more powerful, when lo came a column of fire with no bottom nor top – Shiva the Destroyer, more powerful than both of them, here to prove it. It’s easy to see instinctively that this is a metaphorical tale about the Ring-Chaos and the Ring-Cosmos duking it out, but can’t quite fit everything into place at my current level of knowledge.

    2.b. There is a dwarf planet in our solar system called Quaoar. From the discoverer, Chad Trujillo, on his page at http://www.physics.nau.edu/~trujillo/quaoar/:

    “The Tongva people (sometimes called the San Gabrielino Native Americans) inhabited the Los Angeles area before the arrival of the Spanish and other European people. The name “Quaoar” (pronounced kwah-o-wahr) comes from their creation mythology. In the words of Mark Acuña, Tongva scholar, dancer and tribal elder:

    “‘Quaoar’ the great force of creation sings and dances the high ones (Deities) into existence. While Quaoar has no form or gender he is usually referred to with the male pronoun. He dances and sings first ‘Weywot’ who becomes Sky Father; they sing and dance ‘Chehooit’ Earth Mother into existence. The trio sing ‘Tamit’ Grandfather Sun to life. As each divine one joins the singing and dancing, the song becomes more complex and the dance more complicated…”

    From NASA’s original press release in 2002 about the discovery, on the web at https://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2002/02-190.txt:

    “According to legend, Quaoar came down from heaven; and, after reducing chaos to order, laid out the world on the back of seven giants.”

    This is fun! Looking forward to more.

  10. I was kind of hoping that by this point, things would be getting a little bit easier to understand…but that doesn’t quite seem to be the case here! Anyhow, a few reflections so far, mostly on this passage of text (if I have at all understood what Fortune is saying):

    “You will perceive that the Logos, or subject, has become aware of an object; that object being a reflected projection, or replica, of the subject. Awareness of an external object on the part of the subject must be reproduced as a corresponding reflection of consciousness in the object, so that the object is equally capable of awareness of an external object. But the object, being of a different order of manifestation to the subject, cannot be aware of the subject but can only be aware of itself, and of the influences which proceed to it from the subject. Hence the saying that “No man hath at any time seen God”. God cannot be seen by any unit of the manifested universe during a manifestation. He can only be deduced.”

    This section reminded me of the Kybalion, which also describes the universe as a mental creation in the mind of God (the All). If this is indeed the case, then we and all created beings in our Solar System are held in the mind or consciousness of the Logos at the heart of our Solar System, which in turn is organized according to and held in the consciousness of a more evolved being, all the way back to the Unmanifest. The Logos is trying to organize all the atoms (including us) according to the patterns of its consciousness, which it derived from journeying around the rings and rays – the framework of the Cosmos.

    This way of thinking about things flies in the face of dualism, which states that God is separate from the material creation of the world, God created it outside of himself, and in order to know God we must somehow transcend the material world. Or, I suppose, that God is somehow a product of matter and the material world. Instead it gives us monism or pantheism, in which God is immanent in every part of his creation, since everything is all mind through and through – even matter is a version of mind.

    Dion makes the point about pantheism somewhere in the last chapter, though, how it’s a half-truth, in that even though we are part of the mind of God, we are not identical with God. We’re more like a thought that God is thinking in his mind. A good analogy here would be like the characters in a book that are created by an author. Even though the author is their creator, and the characters exist in the author’s mind, the characters are not identical with the author (I think that analogy may have been in the Kybalion).

    We can’t know God directly, for in order to know God, we would have to actually be the subject (God) – the one doing the thinking in the first place. Of course that’s not possible – we are just the objects, the things being thought about.

  11. Strangely enough, the night before I read this month’s chapter and JMG’s explication, I had a dream in which what I was told insists on overlaying its meaning on top of the chapter and I can’t unsee it.

    The reference point to the teaching was my daughter’s epilepsy when she was a child. The doctor at the time said that every time she had a seizure, the pathways in her brain that the electrical impulses travelled through were made deeper or bigger, like a highway, making it more likely that she would have more seizures. The medication she was given suppressed the electrical impulses to give time for her brain to overlay on top of these highways a new network. The highway did not disappear, but became overgrown with other pathways.

    (Habits come to mind here.)

    In any case, in the dream I was then told that we are tracks in a consciousness through which energy flows, like roads made by movements of energy through a mind. Energy flows through us, shaping us. We are not the neural network itself, we are the pathway. I’m not sure how else to explain this.

    So I’m musing about this view of things, reading the chapter for this month, and thinking that if the solar system is the aura of the Solar Logos, it in turn is part of the aura of the central sun which must have gone through the same process our Great Entity went through, and is the consciousness that is behind everything in this cosmos. The divine sparks that we are, being movement acted on by the rays and circles, are simply tracks of this mind, if you will.

    I don’t know if this deviates significantly from what Dion Fortune was saying, but that image is stuck in my head. I will have to meditate on this much more.

  12. First, thanks to everyone for your stimulating comments. I really like the analogy by Wooler explaining the diffuseness of objective awareness.

    I think the interplay between thought and manifest reality discussed in this chapter is a really important concept: “…the evolution resembles a series of duplicating mirrors wherein the consciousness of the Logos projects its own image, becomes aware of and reacts to the image thus projected, and the reaction affects the projection, and so the cycle is everlastingly revolving.”

    Our thoughts create our Universe, our reality. How we react to this reality, whether consciously or by an unconscious knee-jerk reaction (a mental habit or track in space) ultimately snowballs over time to create joy or misery in our lives. We wonder why some people slowly become crotchety over time while others seem wise and magnanimous. The latter has realized that “thoughts are things” and consciously watch their minds to direct their lives towards a chosen end. The former crotchety ones simply are victims or pawns reacting to the tracks in space of their own created universe. We have many sayings, such as “do you see the glass as half full or half empty” to describe this process of mental creation through either a thoughtful or a knee-jerk reactive mind.

    There seems to be a level of conscious creation that is outside of our normal mental processes, however. This is from our subconscious that is affected by the greater Cosmic tides of the Rays and Rings, since “the sensations (of the tides on the subconscious) thus engendered in the Logoidal consciousness are forthwith incorporated in the self-projection, which is the universe, and the conscious consciousness of the Logos perceives them there.” This subconscious part of the mind seems to be like Jung’s collective unconscious, since all of humanity would be experiencing similar impulses from the greater Cosmic Rays and Rings at any given time, and thus, be expected to have similar unconscious impulses. Maybe the times when humanity seems to go crazy, such as the times of witch burning, are a result of a Cosmic impulse entering in through the collective subconscious (unconscious) of humanity at a point in time. I guess we can only partially consciously control the construction of the universe our minds create; the greater Cosmos is also an unseen participant (via our subconscious) in this creation process.

  13. I was struck by several things when I did the reading.

    1) For some reason, the description of atoms as being the “units of manifestation” being swept along by “currents and tides of Divine Power” clicked with me a lot more than the previous descriptions of the atoms.

    2) The idea of God having a subconscious was fairly startling to me. It seems to open up a lot of doors. Like others have said, this description of God seems far more relatable than the mainstream view.

    3) So if the Solar Logos is going through the same process of evolution as the Cosmos, but in miniature, then it would seem to make sense that each planet in our system is going through the same process. I making a jump here, by adding in a layer of manifestation between the Solar Logos and we Divine Sparks. Rather than Solar Logos —-> Humans, I’m saying Solar Logos —-> Gaia —–> Humans, or Solar Logos —-> Jupiter —-> ???

    In a way I got here by thinking of Jupiter’s moons. If Luna is an astrological influence here on Earth, then it stands to reason that Ganymede and Io and so on are influences on Jupiter. But Jupiter is its own microcosm, and I’m guessing we only get the gestalt effect of that whole microcosm. Same with Mars and Saturn and so on.

    So my evolution as a human is a cycle within the greater evolution of Gaia, which is a cycle within the greater evolution of the Solar Logos.

    Alternatively, I have been inhaling too many PVC primer fumes.

    4) The “series of duplicating mirrors,” and the systems theory mentioned a month or two ago, reminds me of the strange loops of “Godel, Escher, Bach.” I should probably spend some time meditating on this comparison, as I found Hofstadter’s book, and his smug materialism, extremely irritating.

  14. David By Lake Michigan –

    I have felt your pain. Just speaking from experience, it’s not wholly a matter of knowledge, you know. I don’t have any real serious scholastic aptitude (although I’m always happily learning this and that) and I’m not able to express spiritual concepts with any great clarity or with an eye to history and so forth. What I do have is a little bit of, what’s the word, let’s say “gnosis”. Even though I’m not able to connect all the particular dots in the Cos Doc, overall I get what DF is saying in the same way I get what J. Krishnamurti is saying and what Gurdjieff and Bubba Free John and Osho, and Jacob Boehme, etc., are saying, and I’m able to draw at least some telling spiritual distinctions between them. Again, this is not a matter of my non-existent towering intellect; it’s just a small touch of gnosis. When I read the Cos Doc, I have the feeling that in a sense, I’m learning what I already know, that DF, by expressing spiritual concepts in the way that she does, is helping me to really know what I already know. And there’s no end to it. For me, the Cos Doc is a bottomless well.

    An analogy: you walk into a recording studio and you see all the mixers and you think, how can anyone learn what all those levers and dials do? and your head begins to swim in despair. Of course the truth is you need only learn what a few of the levers do, then you see the pattern and it becomes obvious what all the levers do, at least on a basic intuitive level.

    Point is, study hard the thing before you and don’t let the rest of the levers distract you. Do that and I imagine that in time the patterns of all the levers will become obvious to you. Gnosis.

    And ease off now and then. Strain really bollixes up the brain. Let what you’ve learned come together on its own. To quote somebody, trust the process.

    Good fortune to you!

  15. Hello Ron,
    I have read your story, and it is well executed, thank you.
    I hope it will find a readership beyond this blog thanks to the anthology.

  16. David, it’s become very common these days to assume that of course everything is nicely mapped, so we look at the map and figure out where we’re going and then go there. Imagine instead that it’s 1500 or so and beyond a certain point, the lines fade out and nobody knows what’s in those immense blank spaces. That’s where we are when we deal with the subject matter of occultism — and indeed, with much of human life. A verse of a song comes to mind:

    “East of O. van Kortlandt all the world was safe and known,
    West of him the lines leapt off the map;
    Luck or loss, the dice won’t speak ’til after they are thrown,
    He packed his gear and stepped on board and dared Ginnungagap.
    He would come back to Communipaw, but that just happened so,
    He sailed from men to mystery, and did not travel slow,
    He made them brace and bend their backs and row! Ho! Ho!”

    Ron, got it — you’re in the contest. I also find the later chapters more approachable than the earlier ones, for what it’s worth — all in all, not surprising, since the account Fortune offers has to start out at a very high level of abstraction and work down to more relatable things.

    Pogonip, tentacles are always welcome, and a tentacled horror from the Paleozoic is even more welcome! 😉

    Wooler, you’re welcome and thank you! As they used to say back in the day, ’tis an ill wind that blows no minds.

    Steve, good! We’ll be talking about those complex atoms in the chapters ahead, as they play a significant role in the metaphor.

    Athena, we’ll also be talking about the evolution of the Planetary Spirits in the chapters ahead. The metaphor’s got many layers of complexity still to go. Thank you for the material about Quaoar!

    Stefania, I don’t know, it sounds to me as though you’re doing a fine job of figuring it out.

    Myriam, first of all, since the point of the metaphor is to teach your mind to think in certain ways, not to hand over some specific set of beliefs to be accepted, it’s always appropriate to take the ideas Fortune is offering and try pushing them further. Second, I think Fortune would have approved heartily of your take on the Cosmos as the aura of the central Sun!

    Dan, excellent! Yes, exactly.

    Cliff, yep. A few chapters from now we’ll be talking about the evolution of Planetary Spirits, so I wouldn’t worry about the primer fumes. As for Hofstadter’s book, I found it a fun read but, yeah, the smugness got a little much from time to time. It interests me that none of his later books had anything like the success of GEB.

  17. As I read this I had the notion that the there were many more layers of mind/consciousness then just consciousness and sub-consciousness. We seem to be moving through various fields of consciousness. Made me dizzy.

  18. Regarding crotchety people: I think some people see the glass as 7/8 empty and some see it as 1/8 full. But the notion of guarding the mind and the imagination is well-taken. For what it’s worth, a less well-known “fourth way” author named Rodney Collin wrote of “the long body of the sun” in one of his books that I read long ago. There was even a drawing depicting it. The sun traveling through space/time, with it and all its entourage of orbiting bodies leaving their permanent traces like a twisted rope. The image is not unlike what is described in the current chapter. I am one of those who are finding CosDoc a little more accessible as we get down to the human scale.

  19. Wooler, the “archduid was ironic gag, no way someone so lucid in writing is heavy into occult” was close to my first impression too. How the mind change.

    As for metaphor to get a sense of proportion about our ability to comprehend the other planes, I like to think about it this way: there are more than 40000 spiders spices known; we don’t know everything about them, we have no way to know if we even counted them all, since every year a new species are added, their most distinctive feature – web building – is current open question, not fully explained. One person can send lifetime of study just to get to being relative expert on spiders alone. We don’t know spiders – how can we know spirits?

    And spiders are not even all arachnids, scorpions are distinctive family tree.

    We don’t know how the collective mind of anthill works – and we are going to figure out how a god’s mind work?

  20. Hi John Michael,

    I just wanted to clarify with you a thought that popped into my mind whilst reading your essay. I assume that as a Divine Spark reincarnates over several lifespans, the Tracks in Space, get ever more complex and perhaps far ranging, and that free will is sort of like the ‘wild card’ that can lead – not too far from the Tracks in Space mind you – but to different destinations and possibilities? Dunno.

    Speaking of dreams, I had a whopper two nights ago. It was a nightmare actually, and I dreamed that a very large chunk of ice slipped off then land and fell into the ocean – although the ice was represented as a very large snowball in the dream and I was watching it from the perspective of the ocean and felt that I was about to get sucked down into the depths. I woke up in a sweat and in a panic, that’s for sure.

    It is funny that I can have such vivid dreams, but I have no facility at all with a visualising images in my head.

    I’m enjoying this series of posts, but they remind me of my first year at Uni. The first few classes were packed with people, and then slowly as the semester progressed (!), the lectures became ever more empty. Students these days might miss that observation, because I have heard that many lectures nowadays are streamed over the interweb. Whatever will ‘they’ think of next? 🙂

    Cheers

    Chris

  21. A thought has occurred to me: have societies caught us in much the same way we caught our cells? I think I have a theme for many meditations here.

    Chris,

    It’s really funny watching the lectures also streamed online, because then the first class is packed and then nearly everyone stops attending.

    I’m still here, and I really like these posts and the comments here, but I’m a few chapters behind and so don’t have much to say. It looks like it’ll get easier though!

  22. JMG and all – (admission – I posted this on Day 6 of the February Cos Doc commentary, too late, I think for any comments, so here it is again. I hope my re-commenting is okay, but if not, no problem with me if it’s deleted. Thank you – wm).

    I’m finding it very interesting in comparing Dion Fortune’s Cosmic Doctrine with the work of Jacob Boehme, the early 17th c Christian mystic and theologian. Both have Kabbalist influences (though it’s somewhat in doubt if Boehme actually ever saw a copy of the Kabbalah), both had Christian perspectives, albeit very unorthodox ones, both outlined a schematic of the evolution of the Cosmos, both stress the so-above/so-below fractal nature of the Cosmos, both employ metaphors, obviously, to get their message across, both seem to contradict themselves at times, the usual trip-wire for the overly materialist mind, both are dense, often seemingly impenetrable, requiring long periods of meditation – and both seem bottomless in their insights; return to them again and again and you’ll find a new revelation or meaning to be had.

    Boehme of course, doesn’t use modern science tropes as does DF, and he’s nowhere as elaborate in his depiction of the cycles-within-cycles nature of the Cosmos, but here’s one interesting similarity – they both describe the Cosmos as beginning with *movement*. In DF’s “scientific” description, the prime movement is of a current in space that due to the pressures of momentum and inertia, curve around to eventually form the Cosmos-enclosing Rings. Now, this is obviously a metaphor because before Manifestation there was no “space” or time, for that matter, through which a current could move. Boehme, on the other hand, seems more direct in describing the movement as somehow taking place within the endless Unity of the Unmanifest. It unravels like this – an “unequal pressure” in the Divine equilibrium came about because of desirousness “to be something”. The desire became concentrated because the Unmanifest Unity “had nothing of which it may make something to itself”, and so the Unity compressed itself into a yearning, a “magnetical hunger”.

    Unequal pressure leads to a flowing, a motion (basic physics). Thus an agitation, an “anguish” results, this due to the insatiability of the Divine desire. The anguish however, is the original source of sensibility and the capacity for feeling – out of nothingness, a somethingness has been born. Divine nature becomes perceptible to itself, and it is out of this fiery matrix that the Cosmos is formed. The Unmanifest becomes the Manifest, but it is a sublimated Manifest – because the Divine Unity is now mirrored in the mode of perceptivity, it can manifest in infinite myriad forms.

    So, just as The Cosmic Doctrine outlines the macro-microcosm scheme of the Cosmos – from Rings to Solar Logos to humans – so Boehme has his own above/below scheme, in which the original desire-to-anguish-to-manifestation/Enlightenment of the Unmanifest is reflected in our own spiritual lives. That is, through our acceptance of necessary pain and anguish, we grow in spiritual perceptivity, and we literally participate in the nothingness-to-somethingness that is the essence of Divine Creation. And that’s why it’s an error to think of our “lower self” as something to be discarded or eradicated – our lower self is rather the ground base, the necessary spark that inspires the manifestation of divine love and enlightenment.

    Of course, with his emphasis on surrender, Boehme stands as a mystic. Dion Fortune is a mage, and I suppose that is the critical difference between them. Still, between them, there seems to be plenty of overlapping themes and parallels.

  23. One of the things that occurred to me in this chapter was the memory of my niece as a baby, looking into a mirror my brother had mounted on the wall low to the floor. She would look at herself, figuring out who this baby was, who moved when she did. As she hit the terrible twos, she would fling herself onto the floor and kick and scream, and check herself in the mirror, and look to see her parents’ reaction. She was very much the center of her universe, the subject, recognizing objects around her, and only slowly figuring out that we, her family, were not just objects, but subjects in our own right.
    Thanks for the guidance in reading this- I likely would have finished it quickly, given myself credit for having read it, but not understood it nearly as well as I am with your (and the commentariat’s) help.

  24. Hi JMG

    I was recently reading a translation of the Corpus Hermeticum and it reminded me of the Cosmic Doctrine. Is that a coincidence? I expect it’s reasonable to think that Fotune would have incorporated some of that imagery in her knowledge base when she was contemplating this. Would it be beneficial for those of us who are struggling with the Cosmic Doctrine to read the Corpus Hermeticum or something similar along with it? If so do you have a recommendation of a recent translation? I know you wrote an introduction to one but in that introduction you mentioned the style was rather dated.

    Thank you for continuing this study!

    Candace

  25. Kay, excellent. Yes, there are — it’s sometimes useful to simplify things with a broad division into two or three or four, but it’s worth remembering that this is a convenience for the sake of thinking and that reality is far more complex.

    Phutatorius, I remember that illustration!

    Chris, exactly. The tracks in space we build with our repetitive thoughts in one life become the paths in which we move in another, and eventually are incorporated into who we are. As for the dwindling class size, yes, and I expected that. One way or another I’m going to finish the sequence.

    Will J, enjoy the meditations!

    Will M, the connections and similarities aren’t accidental. “The kabbalah” isn’t a single book but a very broad tradition, and there was a lot of Cabalistic material in Latin and German by the time Boehme lived — given that he studied the writings of Paracelsus and a flurry of Christian mystics, it would have been very difficult for him to miss picking up Cabalistic material. Then of course there’s the fact that Boehme had a huge following after his death in England, and his writings massively influenced English esoteric and occult circles, including those that gave rise to the traditions in which Fortune had her training. Given her intense interest in Protestant Christian mysticism, I’d be amazed if she hadn’t read at least a little Boehme, or perhaps the development of Boehme’s thought by Jane Leade and William Law.

    That is to say, you’re on to something. 😉

    Sidney, glad to hear it.

    Katsmama, it’s a slow process for humans, and probably a slower process for solar logoi, but yeah, that’s a fine example.

    Pogonip, don’t worry about it. Just take each image one at a time, without trying to make sense of the whole pattern, and explore the thoughts related to that image. That’ll train the mind just as effectively.

    Candace, Fortune will have studied the Corpus Hermeticum pretty intensively as part of her Golden Dawn training. I don’t know that it’s necessary but you might find it useful. The Brian Copenhaver translation is the best that I know of that’s currently available.

  26. I’m still here too, also a bit behind and over my head, but appreciating the discussion. It’s good to have the reminder that I don’t need to make sense of the whole pattern at once. I know that was the first thing DF told us, but the lifelong training to try and “figure the whole thing out” rather than just experience it piece by piece is so hard to forget. But the images others have offered here- that I’m not going to drink the whole lake or know all about all the spiders- are helpful. Now back to the text…
    –Heather in CA

  27. JMG: it’s been 40 years since I read it, and that illustration is about the only thing I remember!

  28. JMG, there may be no dwindling class size; I for one have been following dutifully this sequence of posts and learning much by them. The subject, however, is very dense, and there are too many questions to ask. If you are planning to write a book about the Cosmic Doctrine, incorporating some of the questions asked here, in this forum, by us, your readers, might be a good ideia.

  29. Re partially-filled glasses

    I can understand the imagery but in some sense, a 1/8th-full glass is a failure of 87.5%; even at 7/8ths-full, you’re talking 12.5% performance failure. At the end of the day, have we maximized our potential or have we failed to do that?

    @ JMG

    The more I read in Cos Doc (and this material generally), the more I get the sense that what we’re working with plane-wise is a thin sliver of a vast spectrum. I think you may have alluded to this analogy before, but thinking here of visible light versus the entire electromagnetic spectrum, with infinite ranges above and below. Simultaneously frightening, exhilarating, and frustrating 🙂

  30. Regarding the “dwindling class size”, I think that though these may not be the most read posts on Ecosophia, I suspect they will become the most re-read posts.

  31. Despite what Chris says *waves at Chris* I comment less on these Cosdoc threads, but have not left them. In fact I read the post more times, and spend time studying the comments, but also feel less competent to have something useful to say.

    So, I want to say, by all means, please continue, even though some of us have not left so much as we are left gobsmacked.

    In any case there are several things in this post that have me thinking. The addition of “play” to the process of growing and learning that everything in the Cosmos is going through, strikes me as an excellent word. In play there is exploration, there is discovery, there are rules set out within a defined area, there is experimentation, but there is no fixed outcome. In play, there can be novelty. Indeed, in today’s corporate-patron model of science, scientist’s complain most keenly that the element of play has been removed from their job descriptions.

    Religions might also rightly complain that the element of play has long been missing. My own father, a Christian missionary, has written a book on elements of play in God’s creation, and the way the sabbath was supposed to stress the importance of “re-creation” to the created.

    And, although it is not a coincidence that theatre spectacle may also be called “a play” – it seems to me that the kind of play that children, and adults who are freed from the expectation of producing a set result, naturally do, is realler and freer than the kind of thing referred to in “all the world’s a stage” which seems about fakery, and trickery, to me. That is to say, if I consider that whatever I encounter is something playing, it may feel good or bad, but I can relate to what’s happening as profound, and a part of something’s learning process. Whereas if I thought I was living a play that was staged by somebody, I’d feel somehow lessened, as if I was a character, mouthing the script they wrote. Anyway, that the Cosmos, the Logos, Divine Sparks and all down to myself, and further down to the bacterial realm, and further down again to the atomic realm, and as far as tracks in space can go, are all playing, and learning, and growing, in the context of one anothers playings (whether conscious or not), seems right to me.

    There are some other things about “tracks in space” and how they are the basis for spirit and matter and consciousness that I am thinking about from a clinical point of view. Thanks for giving me the material/metaphor to think with.

  32. At this point in our journey, it seems to me that DF, in building a metaphorical narrative that translates motion into mind, is in some ways inverting, but in other ways mimicking, the origin narratives of naive materialism. The inversion is in the dimension of scale. Fortune starts with universal motion on a cosmic scale and eventually, through many intermediate patterns and entities on a progressively decreasing scale of time and distance, works her way to mind and eventually to the human mind of our own experience. While of course the materialism of her day started with the motions of particles and built up in scale to molecules to organs to mind (unfortunately stopping at human intelligence, which is one of two main reasons I call it naive).

    The mimicking is in the (so far) rather mechanistic description of the process. Fortune writes (so far) of attractions and forces and influences rather than, for instance, preferences, choices, volitional actions, plans, or goals. That’s a surprise to me, certainly not my expectation going in.

    Now that the narrative has introduced consciousness, in a way that applies at all scales, it’s looking like the complete picture does include a sentient Cosmic Mind (even if on a scale that’s beyond our perception or reasonable concern). That part’s not a surprise, but in Fortune’s metaphor even such an entity is situated. This strikes me as a much sturdier conceptual construct than starting with a Cosmic Mind as an axiom, then explaining everything else as the design or preferences or whims of that entity. Instead, from any given viewpoint there is a ONE, but on any scale, even the ONE always has, let’s see, flow, limits, balance, rhythm, evolution…

    Big whorls have little whorls
    That feed on their velocity
    And little whorls have lesser whorls
    And so on to viscosity.
    – Lewis Fry Richardson

    (That verse dates back to 1922, but was little-known for many years, so DF may or may not have seen it at the time of writing The Cosmic Doctrine.)

    I suspect it’s a false dilemma to ask whether, outside of metaphor, existence “really” develops downward from the cosmic, or upward from the quantum. Like looking at a Mandelbrot zoom and asking whether the bigger swirls spawn the smaller ones within them, or the bigger ones emerge from the smaller. Neither is really true; they’re all generated by one algorithm. A useful understanding may require picking one or the other model and running with it. But, just maybe, it doesn’t.

  33. Simply want to say that I am still here, sitting in the back of the class, not making much noise, attending to what comes up. I do confess though to getting off rhythm when we had the bye month in January. The February post snuck up on me. I was late to class and not prepared, and March was a complete miss because I was busy for two weeks doing my civic duty as a citizen, listening to testimony and deciding with 11 other people the fate of the accused based on the presence or absence of reasonable doubt. (And that was quite an intense experience that left little room for much else.)

    I’m caught up now and have no plans to drop this class. I continue to find the Cosmic Doctrine fascinating, thought-provoking, and mind-expanding, not to mention in some sense heart-opening.

    What I discover frequently is that reading and thinking about the concepts Fortune presents cause me to hark back to my Buddhist studies for a bit of compare and contrast. I am much less schooled in any Western or Christian religions than I am in Buddhism, though it’s been a while. My thoughts went once again to the concept of dependent origination. This-that, me-you, inner-outer, subject-object, both arising simultaneously because mutually dependent, reinforcing, causing, even creating each other. I also harked back for some reason to the concept of the five skandhas (form, feeling, perception, mental formation [impulses], consciousness), and I continue to think about how that might relate to concepts in the CosDoc. Echoes and reverberations in the mind as new concepts and images are introduced like pebbles dropping into a lake, creating new patterns in the surface of the water as patterns flow and combine in new ways into the deeper currents below. Interesting that you mention Jung in this week’s explication, one of my teachers long ago remarked that Jung created conditions so that Buddhism could be understood in the West.

    Thanks for all the meditations,
    Yanocoches

  34. Hi John Michael,

    Thanks for the reply. You always give us a lot to consider. It has been my experience that numbers are not generally commensurate with quality – and this is certainly the case here, and I never for one moment doubted that you had the gumption to finish this excellent series of posts! Isn’t your writing here on the subject the opposite of the concept of ‘to occlude’ what is an important topic?

    Hi Will,

    Thanks for the shout out! Mate, it never occurred to me that someone could see the decline in numbers on those lecture videos. My experience was all at lectures IRL. 😉 I have noticed that the debt does not disappear with the lack of attendance!

    Hi Scotlyn,

    Thanks for the shout out! I like the concept of play as it applies to this topic too. Interesting!

    Cheers

    Chris

Courteous, concise comments relevant to the topic of the current post are welcome, whether or not they agree with the views expressed here, and I try to respond to each comment as time permits. Long screeds proclaiming the infallibility of some ideology or other, however, will be deleted; so will repeated attempts to hammer on a point already addressed; so will comments containing profanity, abusive language, flamebaiting and the like -- I filled up my supply of Troll Bingo cards years ago and have no interest in adding any more to my collection; and so will sales spam and offers of "guest posts" pitching products. I'm quite aware that the concept of polite discourse is hopelessly dowdy and out of date, but then some people would say the same thing about the traditions this blog is meant to discuss. Thank you for reading Ecosophia! -- JMG

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