Dedicated to Iris and Hermes
Written by: Iacchus
The advent and development of the ego in any species constellates a spark in the dark mystery of being, a probability and hidden potential in the unfolding drama of our Cosmos. This hidden potential began to emerge during the evolution of life upon our planet, within a system of life and way of being that we call humanity.
Humans do not live only according to the unconscious demands and desires of our animal instinct. Humans have a focus of consciousness, a center or referential point of awareness called the ego. The ego’s coming into being, and its development, has given humans the ability to contemplate our everyday existence. Our ability to contemplate allows us to manage some instinctual impulses, plan actions, develop ethics and generate culture.
From the beginning, the ego of humanity arose out of the darkness of profound ignorance. The ego did not know of the unconscious realm of humanity, and its immense capacity for knowledge, learned behaviors and civilization. For untold generations, humanity has been engaged in a purposeful wandering - following human intuition in a “walkabout”, as if trying to wake from a lucid dream. During this time, the ego developed and increased its rational understanding of humanity and Cosmos.
The rationality of ego has brought humanity to a center - a place of orientation. In this center, humanity has come to know the rational limits to knowing. We know that the biological organization and structures of our body and its brain shape our experience of existence. The human abilities to sense, value, think and intuit, are primary elements to this shaping. These elements weave together to shape our human experience, and in this way, limit our ability to know. This woven limit is like a tapestry, veiling the Mystery that is existence.
Self-knowledge begins with the recognition of this woven limit. To be conscious of this veil is to know there is no way to get beyond it to know what reality is. We must assume what reality is, and this assumption is based upon our impressions and interpretations of human experience.
The value of this knowledge is that it grants a greater degree of freedom to being human. With this Freedom, humans can now reflect on their evolutionary “walkabout” from a perspective based on this knowledge. This perspective allows the seeker to see the landscape of human experience as a woven tapestry, painted with memories, discoveries and interpretations. During the time of human existence, these paintings have evolved into “maps” called belief systems.
Every belief system is a way of knowing and a system of knowledge that orientates humanity to its experience of existence. All seekers of self-knowledge see human belief systems forming a patchwork of maps painted upon the tapestry of human experience. Some “maps” have coexisted with others and occasionally overlap, while some “maps” are built upon others and so hide or destroy previous “maps”.
Seekers come to know that every belief system is a map constructed by the human mind, and the truth of each belief system is rationally unknowable. Belief systems at best can be very good maps representing the territory. This knowledge frees humanity from the literalism of belief systems. Belief systems can then be seen as a metaphor, whose creation weaves by allegory a symbolic narrative that may point, in a circumscribed way, at the truth of the Mystery. In this way, a belief system, as a metaphoric construction, may provide an understanding of what the Mystery is, our relationship to it, who we are, and how to be at peace with one another and Nature.
By acknowledging the metaphoric character and allegorical weavings as essential in its construction, a belief system becomes a poetic creation. A poetic belief system, by definition, expresses the awareness that it is a human construction and map, whose truth cannot be proved. So, as a part of Self-knowledge, there is the awareness of two great categories of belief systems; one Poetic and the other Literal.
Self-knowledge, as valued by Sweetwood Temenos, is a Poetic belief system that has these five essential elements:
(1) It has internal validity. Internal validity means the ideas, concepts, facts and metaphors used in the construction of a Poetic belief system do not contradict one another, but rather, form a congruent whole.
(2) The symbolic, mythical, and mystical elements are complementary with rational thought and science.
(3) It fosters a certain level, or stage, of human completeness. This completeness is one of psychological wholeness, where harmony within, between humans, and between humanity and Nature, is achieved, and so creates Peace on Earth.
(4) It has a concept of Self. Here, the Self is understood as the light that gives humanity its nature. Inherent in the nature of the human Self, is the potential harmony that creates Peace on Earth. This potential harmony, as a way of being, is the immanent spark of Divinity in Humanity, and Humanity’s beauty and glory [Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God]. This is the spark of light in the dark mystery of being that was constellated, along with the ego, at the beginning of our human being. This understanding of the Self is an essential element of the nature religion that Sweetwood Temenos celebrates.
(5) Its truth is evaluated by the outcome it has for humanity, both individually and collectively. This means that, although the truth of a poetic belief system cannot be rationally known, its truth is based on its positive psychological outcome for Humanity. In this way, Self-knowledge, as a Poetic belief system, becomes a ‘tree of truth’, where it’s truth will be known by the fruit it bears.
Sweetwood Temenos seeks to foster these ‘trees of truth’, whose fruit is the psychological harmony that creates Peace on Earth, and is a realization of immanent Divinity in Humanity. Each such ‘tree of truth’ is a form of the Self-knowledge that Sweetwood Temenos values.