recorded earlier in the year, Rudolf of Thoth Hermes talks with Angel Millar about Western esotericism, from the occult to Freemasonry. Thoth Hermes is a relatively recent podcast exploring Western esotericism, and has already gathered a considerable following due to it interviews with such well-known figures as Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki, Thomas Karlsson, and Stephen Flowers.
Michel Houellebecq, a controversial (and plain brilliant) French author, about whom the UK’s The Guardian deemed an “aging literary enfant terrible”, wrote in his La Possibilité d’une Île
“The physical bodies of young people, the only desirable possession the world has ever produced, were reserved for the exclusive use of the young, and the fate of the old was to work and to suffer. This was the true meaning of solidarity between generations; it was a pure and simple holocaust of each generation in favor of the one that replaced it, a cruel, prolonged holocaust that brought with it no consolation, no comfort, nor any material or emotional compensation.”
Undoubtedly, it seems quite a grim outlook of adult life or just a philosophical entrenchment after Turgenev, things have indeed changed these days.
Jung made use of the mythological term Puer Aeternus from Ovid’s Metamorphosis. It’s Latin for ‘Eternal Boy’. In this case, the Boy-Daemon named Iacchus, from the Eleusinian Mysteries, being a minor deity of vegetation and divine youth; it was also Demeter’s Daemon, a naughty boy for copulation. In analytical psychology, the puer element describes adult men whose emotional lives remain at an adolescent stage with too great a dependence on the maternal figure. Remember Tyler Durden in The Fight Club? “Our great war is a spiritual war… Our great depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars, but we won’t.” Precisely, we are the “f@&k-you-Mom” generation.
In our particular case, the focus is on men this time. Women do manage these issues much better than us. Their brain physiology makes them true emotional managers.
There is quite an arrested-development case to be made for most men in Western nations. Specifically, for young men who do not know they have much to contribute to themselves and the rest of us mortals but seem to shy away from their potential, as there was no paternal companionship in human terms to their childhoods, to push them to ‘combat’, to improvement, to “chin-up-chest-out” for themselves. These young men need to feel embraced, protected and many are doing so by then in turn embracing certain ideologies that directly accuse them of ‘patriarchy’ without understanding much about it.
You must be above 60 to remember anything of importance to this issue or being the age of any of the above mentioned young fellas. It was after all the 60s and 70s during which a Zeitgeist turning point or metaphysical mutation occurred. Some of its features were and still are Juvenile-ism, Ever-presentism, the negation of death and individual finiteness. Silicon Valley – accidental provider of many a digital father for these kids – is not an exception, for death must be disrupted. Google-backed Calico or Ray Kurzweil’s Transhuman Singularity are good examples.
Does this disparagement of our species perpetuation fit into the modern warrior credo? How does an often cackled and seemingly tyrannical sense of compassion affect individual autonomy? How come this Peter Pan-like conduct – another representation of the ‘eternal boy’ – has taken roots to reject established standards sine causa and to overvalue everything ‘disruptive’ or transgressive?
Names like Marcuse, Foucault, Derrida, Althusser, and Bourdieu are some to be remembered as the university professors and intellectuals behind France’s May 1968 social movement. Peter Pan remains a faithful soixante-huitard (a 68’s follower) to this day; people who have entered adult life and already seem tired of the responsibilities of living a real life, under the laws of Nature (such as old age), without method, without goals other than creating ‘impact’ or feeling irremediably without purpose. There is no götzen dämmerung for these comfort seekers from Paris’ Quartier Latin or Berkeley’s grasslands (both beautiful places).
Peter Pan still draws from La Sorbonne, now to every major academic institution in the so-called West. He wants to remain static, unnatural, deconstructed and he is not alone. Just as any other meme in history – using the reinterpreted term Dawkins provided the English language with – he wants to live the ‘nowness’, the timelessness, a chandala-sort version of Nirvana. The postmodern archetype of the eternal juvenile seeks new Lost Boys and Darling children. Tinker Bell is thus whispering new sociopolitical strata.
Industriousness, Self-Reliance, Courage, Sense of Duty, Discipline are some universal characteristics of The Way of the Warrior. None of these can ever be used improperly. None of these can ever be called ‘inhuman’. Most important for the sake of this argument, none of these are divorced from Creativity, Art, Science, Solidarity.
It’s been nearly two years since the last article in this series, on the meaning of peace. For me, it’s been a time of growth and learning, possibly like none other before (though I imagine later years will have more surprises). Among other things, it’s been a time of trying to live peace and not merely think or talk about it.
And this leads quite naturally to the attainment of freedom.
Last time, I explored peace as the virtue of equanimity, requiring both strength and pliancy. Meditation, internal martial arts, traditional medical practices, mettā, and so on, all conduce to the awakening of this master of all virtues. But so do more “mundane” behaviors. Along with the now-classic saying that your character is the sum of the five people with whom you spend the most time, I have found that it is extremely important for the person chasing spiritual attainments to be cautious of their social attachments. While everyone will bring some difficulty along with their virtues, the hope is to build a circle of daily contact which balances out to encourage your better nature, and those of everyone involved. Parasites must be, as compassionately as possible, kept to the periphery.
We obviously don’t have full control over every regular contact we have. Work and family quite famously bring us in constant touch with people who are not trying to better themselves, and sometimes with those who actively seek to cause problems. Some of them may even be people we can help! But we can deal with these relationships in a healthy fashion only if we cultivate peace within ourselves. Equanimity provides the calm center to which we can always return and perpetually generates the energy which can be applied throughout the day. Peace is thus nothing but a true virtue, a very real power which can be cycled within or projected without as necessary. It integrates macrocosm and microcosm through every interaction with the world.
Freedom is not a lack of obstacles—impossible for as long as one is in a body—but the peaceful meeting and overcoming of them. While peace and freedom are individual, they are not individualistic; that is, they are rooted in the individual who cultivates them, but they impact and benefit the entire community and society with which they interact. As one engages peacefully, freedom increases; the capacity to deal with every obstacle which meets one on the road, wherever one has set the waypoint, comes ever more naturally as one is able to remain calm, assess, and respond rather than react.
My own life supports this model extremely well. I am increasingly free from parasitic interactions. I am also more and more free from strife in most areas of life. Practices of meditation and mettā, as well as tantric ritual offerings to various spirits, gods, and ancestors add up to an incredible shift in perspective—our mental state making up the vast bulk of our experience as it is. For those who practice in a Western scheme, ritual magic or adaptations from various shamanic traditions can fill in a lot of gaps for achieving similar ends.
Freedom is therefore primarily negative in nature; to borrow the language of Isaiah Berlin, individual freedom is generally “freedom from”, negative freedom, rather than “freedom to”, positive freedom. This may strike some on both sides of the political aisle as too libertarian, and this may be true in the anarchic sense of Ernst Jünger, but I must again emphasize that individual does not equal individualist.
By the same token, genuine compassion will sometimes look very much like apathy. An appropriate response will not always appear to be what others want in the moment, though it benefits all in the long run. The capacity to do what is really good rather than what is demanded, and refrain from what is bad regardless of expectations, is the only true freedom in this world.