The World Illusion, Truth, and Literal Facts

Traditional Wisdom teaches that the material world is an illusion from which we will all someday awaken. What does this mean?

I have not reached Enlightenment, and anyone reading this who has reached Enlightenment already knows the answer(s) to this. From an Unenlightened state, we can not fully understand this. The World Illusion seems very real to us, and indeed, it should. In the Late Iron Age, we are firmly entrenched in the material world, so the material world is more real to us than ever before.

Yet, every Tradition teaches that there are worlds other than the material world. There are worlds that are higher and those that are lower than that which we live in. The Christian Tradition simplifies this greatly by calling everything higher than the material world Heaven and everything lower than it Hell. From a Traditionalist perspective, there are many Heavens (places above the material world) and many Hells (places below the material world). All of these worlds are a part of manifestation and Creation, and all will eventually return to the One at the inbreathing at the end of time. Any state other than reunion with the One is temporary, even Paradise.

From an Unenlightened state, however, our understanding of this can only be a theoretical understanding. Even to talk about the inbreathing at the end of time is not really accurate, as time itself is a part of the World Illusion. Because we are bound in space and time, we really can not understand that which is not bound in space and time. For this reason, we have been given Mythos and stories. These Mythos and stories are told as if they were in space and time, so that we can understand them, but the Truth is beyond space and time. That is the meaning behind the statement, “The Tao that can be spoken is not the True Tao.”

Literal facts are details about the material world. History tells what happened in space and time in the context of physicality. Literal facts can be true or false within the context of the World Illusion, but they are not Truth so far as the Reality that exists beyond the material world. Filianist Scripture contains a Creation Mythos, which we believe to be True, or more accurately, we believe it to tell the story of Truth in a way that we can understand it in this day and age. We believe it to be the Only Truth, which means that we believe it tells us enough for us to live our lives and attain Liberation; however, we also believe that other True Creation Mythos exist, and are also the Only Truth which can lead to Liberation. We do not believe that this story itself as it is told in our Scripture happened in space and time in the material world, nor do we believe that any True Creation Mythos could have happened in space and time.

GuanYin4This being said, the material world is a reflection of the spiritual world, and what happens in physicality is a reverberation of the Truth. An example of this is the Mythos of the Sacrifice of the Daughter, which is found in almost all Traditions in one form or another. Filianst Scripture tells a version of this Mythos. The Sacrifice of Quan Yin is a different telling of the story, but it is the same story. The Daughter descending to Hell and dying and the vow of the bodhisattva to remain in the physical world until the “last blade of grass” is redeemed is the same sacrifice told of in a different way.

Modern Christianity teaches that a person by the name of Jesus lived and died at a specific place and time and was resurrected. It has been noted, and rightfully so, that this story is not new to Christianity and that the God Sacrifice is found everywhere in many different Traditions. From a Traditionalist perspective, if the historical story has relevance, it is because it is a reflection of the True Story, which happened outside of space and time. It may have happened in the material world or it may not have, but if it only happened in the material world in time and space, than it would not be a story of Truth, but merely one of historical fact. From this perspective, the question is not whether or not the actual events happened in history, but whether the Story itself rises to the level of Mythos, and thus able to lead to Liberation and Truth.

What does this mean for our lives within the physical world as time and space bound creatures? Does this mean that what we do in the physical world does not matter? Filianism teaches that there is a balance. It is neither world affirming nor world denying. We believe that the material world is a beautiful gift from Our Mother, the Creator God, and our relation to it should be that of humble appreciation and gratitude. We should enjoy what we have been given, and do our best to live the life that we have been given striving to manifest our True Selves, which in the context of manifestation, are our best selves. On the other hand, we try to remember that this world is not all that there is, and to avoid excessive entanglement within it.

Our thoughts and actions in the material world do have an effect on our souls, which we believe are eternal. We can not be permanently separated from Our Mother, but we can experience separation. Within manifestation, there is Light and Dark, and Good and Evil. On one hand, even Evil is a necessary part of Creation and will return to the Mother in the inbreathing at the end of time; on the other hand, Evil also represents profound separation from Our Mother, and from a Filianist perspective, as well as a general Traditionalist perspective, is something to be avoided. This is a paradox and cannot be understood from an Unenlightened state.

Essentialism, Rationalism, and Post Modernism: A Parable

Essentialist philosophy may be a bit difficult to understand, especially because people have been educated, and I would say indoctrinated, in the modern scientific worldview.  I have thought of a parable that may help explain the various historical and current worldviews in a simpler way and how essentialism differs from these worldviews.

I will start this parable with a reference to a mini-series that was made in 1971, titled Elizabeth R, which is based on the life of Queen Elizabeth I of England.  In this parable, England sinks under the ocean, but the mini-series, Elizabeth R, is preserved and retains popularity.

In this parable, Queen Elizabeth represents Perfect Form, or Pure Essence.  The mini-series itself represents the reflection of Perfect Form in Substance.  The making of the mini-series represents Substance.

Elizabeth R A hundred years pass after the destruction of England, but people are still watching Elizabeth R.  Elizabeth R becomes so popular, most people now believe that this is the best possible rendition of the life of Queen Elizabeth.  At about this time, someone comes along.  We will call him Mr. Aristotle.  Mr. Aristotle taught that we can learn all there is to know about Queen Elizabeth from the mini-series.  If there is information that exists about Queen Elizabeth that contradicts the mini-series, that information is wrong.

Over time, Mr. Aristotle’s teaching becomes the general consensus, and the mini-series, Elizabeth R becomes the first and foremost authority on the life of Queen Elizabeth.  Any other work about her life must be derived from and able to defend itself using the mini-series.

After another thousand years or so, Mr. Ockham comes around and teaches that there was no Queen Elizabeth, but the mini-series is important to study in and of itself.  This idea does not really become part of the general consensus at the time.  Most people believe that Queen Elizabeth did exist, but that we can learn about her from the mini-series.

Even though Mr. Ockham’s ideas did not catch on as such, they started to become mixed with Mr. Aristotle’s ideas for another 500 years, and then Mr. Literal picked them up.  Mr. Literal held the belief that the mini-series was not a story based on Queen Elizabeth’s life made 500 years after her life, but was an actual documentary filmed in real time.  Mr. Literal’s views became the general consensus, and no respected scholar could say otherwise.

Another couple of hundred years later, Mr. Rationalist came along.  Mr. Rationalist “discovered” what seemed to be new information in the form of artifacts which showed how the mini-series was made.  His friend and colleague, Mr. Enlightenment, was able to prove that the woman in the mini-series was not Queen Elizabeth, but was Miss Glenda Jackson.  After that, more and more information was discovered about the making of the mini-series…in intricate detail.  With these new “discoveries”, the entire belief in the existence of Queen Elizabeth was called into question.

Not being able to contemplate that Queen Elizabeth might not have existed, many still held on to the beliefs of Mr. Literal.  Literalists and Rationalists began a long and hard battle.  Literalists called Rationalists heretics; Rationalists called Literalists hidebound, naive, and stubborn.  How could one cling to the idea that Queen Elizabeth existed in the face of all of this evidence about the making of the mini-series?

The idea of the non-existence of Queen Elizabeth was truly a hard pill to swallow, but what could one do in the face of all of this evidence of the making of the mini-series?  Most people held on to the belief that Queen Elizabeth existed, but the belief became a bit amorphous.  Many different clubs sprung up around Queen Elizabeth, with different ideas of who she was and how she lived.  Some still clung hard to Mr. Literalist’s teachings, but most just compartmentalized their thinking.

Elizabeth the Golden AgeAfter another few hundred years, along comes Mr. Post-Modern.  Mr. Post-Modern sees the bickering between the Rationalists and the Literalists, and between the various clubs that fought among themselves. He starts to believe that maybe the most important thing is not the mini-series, but the story told by the mini-series.  Mr. Post-Modern is skeptical about the existence of Queen Elizabeth, but thinks it is a very good story.

Mr. Post-Modern’s followers, Post-Modernists, do a lot of strange things with the story.  Some say that Queen Elizabeth is figure that was derived from the collective unconscious of humans.  Some say that the mini-series was a metaphor for depictions of social inequality.  Some create new purely fictional stories about Queen Elizabeth.

In the meantime, other movies are discovered about Queen Elizabeth, as well as material that was written during the time of Queen Elizabeth.  Rationalists take this as further evidence that Queen Elizabeth could not have existed.  These materials predate the mini-series.  Queen Elizabeth was obviously just a “myth.”  This mini-series must have been based on these “myths.”  Look how much we know about how this mini-series was made.

During this time, there is another voice, and that is the voice of Miss Essentialist.  Miss Essentialist says, Queen Elizabeth was a real person that existed centuries before the mini-series.  We can know about her from the material that was written during the time of her life, including things she wrote herself.

Everyone is all in arms.  Literalists call this heresy.  The mini-series is a documentary of Queen Elizabeth’s life, and anyone who says otherwise is wrong.  There is not much to say to respond to this, accept to perhaps acknowledge that at least they believe in the existence of a real Queen Elizabeth.

Rationalists say, how can you prove that there was a Queen Elizabeth?  Miss Essentialist responds with evidence of written material from her life and says that for thousands of years, Queen Elizabeth’s existence was common knowledge.  The Rationalists reply, yes, but all of those materials are myths written by people who lived long before anything was known about how movies were made.  We know who wrote the script, the actresses who played the roles, and we have uncovered the set that the mini-series was made on.  Given all of this, how can you prove that Queen Elizabeth existed?  By the way, you are not allowed to use anything other than physical evidence about how the movie was made; everything else is off limits to this discussion.  Miss Essentialist throws up her hands, baffled at how to respond given the parameters set by the Rationalists.

Queen Elizabeth IPost-Modernists say, sure who knows, Queen Elizabeth, or someone like her, may have existed.  Look at all of these different movies that have been made.  We are still making movies about her.  Miss Essentialist says look at this material written while Queen Elizabeth was alive.  You are going to get better information from this material that what is being produced today.  The Post-Modernist gets offended that the Essential treats modern material as less reliable than contemporaneous Elizabethan material or even the mini-series itself.  The Post-Modernist explains how much better at movie making people are these days, so why do you continue to venerate all of these old materials.  The Essentialist says that there was an actual Queen Elizabeth, so if one wants to understand her and her life, it makes sense to read the materials closer in time to her life, don’t you think?  The Post-Modernist scoffs at the Essentialist’s belief that Queen Elizabeth existed, extolling the virtues of “thinking for yourself,” and saying that one should not naively believe in the mini-series.

Miss Essentialist disengages from all of these conversations, quietly goes back to her Essentialist cottage in the blogosphere, continues to study the life of Queen Elizabeth, and engages in conversation with those with whom she can communicate.

Astrology as a Traditional Science, Part III: Application

We have discussed the origins of rationalist thought, and the 7 Divine Principles and the 12 Archetypes.  So, what does this all mean, and why does this matter to astrology as an applied science?

Let us go back to the disagreement between Plato and Aristotle on the issue of Perfect Form, and the later introduction of nominalism.  If you recall, Plato taught that Perfect Forms exist at the level of the Divine.  This teaching was not unique to Plato, and this is one of the basic precepts of essentialism.  Aristotle taught that all Perfect Forms must manifest in the material world, and any Perfect Form that does not manifest in the material world does not exist.  The later philosophy of nominalism teaches that only the manifest world exists.  Why do these differences matter?

In astrology, the Perfect Forms would be the Divine Principles and the 12 Archetypes.  According to Plato, and prior Traditional teachings, while the physical manifestation of these Forms derive from the Perfect Form, they are not necessarily perfect representations of these forms.  Also, Perfect Forms may exist without ever becoming manifest in physical form.  According to Aristotelian thought, all Perfect Forms must be manifest in physical form.  Nominalist thought would not acknowledge any Forms beyond manifest forms.

Ptolemy Model of CosmosWhile nominalist thought would state that the cosmos is the manifest universe, in the Traditional Model of the Cosmos, the manifest universe is the sublunary plane, and only the sublunary plane.  Plato and Aristotle would agree that the Traditional Model of the Cosmos is true and that the Solar System is a microcosm of the full cosmos.  Under this Model, the stars and planets that we can see are a visual model of the larger cosmos that we can not see.  The disagreement between the philosophers is over the question of whether what we can see is an exact replica of the cosmos we can not see.  According to Platonic thought, it does not have to be.  If what is seen in the physical sky does not match the Model of the Cosmos, it is interesting, but it does not change the metaphysical principles involved.  According to Aristotelian thought, if what is seen in the physical sky does not match our teachings regarding the Model of the Cosmos, this calls into question these teachings.

One may ask, if we accept the axiom, “As above, so below,” does this not mean that it is Aristotelian thought that must be true?  Should not what we see on the material plane match the metaphysical principles we can not see?  Not necessarily.  There is another axiom we can use to explain discrepancies between the physical and the metaphysical: “Earth moves, but Heaven is still.”  If one understands this axiom, one can see that it is not possible for a Perfect Form to manifest on the physical level.  Perfect Forms only exist at the level of the Highest Heaven.  Even at the level of the Sphere of the Fixed Stars, manifestation becomes imperfect.  This is why there can be evil fixed stars, such as Algol.  By the time we get to the level of the sublunary plane, forms become quite imperfect.  Forms we can see are reflections of the Perfect Form, but just as the reflection of the Moon does not look exactly like the physical Moon in the sky, the reflections of Perfect Forms do not look exactly like the Perfect Forms in the Highest Heaven.  Combining the axiom, “As above, so below,” with the axiom, “Earth moves, Heaven is still,” one can see how Platonic and Traditional Essentialist thought would be the soundest philosophy and doctrine.

Again, why does this matter?  Let us apply the three different philosophies to the 2 crises in astrology, the “discovery” of a heliocentric solar system, and the “discovery” of the Outer Planets.

The “discovery” of a heliocentric solar system is only a difficulty if one adheres to nominalism.  According to both Platonic and Aristotelian thought, an observation that the physical Sun is the center of the physical solar system is consistent with the metaphysical principle of the Solar Heart being central, see Mummies and Luminaries.  The manifest solar system exists in the sublunary plane, so an observation that the physical Sun is central to the physical solar system does not challenge the Traditional Model of the Cosmos in any way, and in fact, this observation supports generally accepted metaphysical teachings.  The only way that the “discovery” of a heliocentric solar system can challenge the Traditional Model of the Cosmos is if one believes that this model is describing the physical, manifest universe.LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01

The “discovery” of the Outer Planets is a bit more complicated.  If one adheres to nonimalism, then the discovery of the Outer Planets becomes of utmost importance.  According to this philosophy, it is the physical planets themselves that impact us, so any new planets that are discovered must be incorporated into practice.  In fact, we may even need to include bodies such as asteroids, comets, and the moons of other planets into our practice.  If we decide to include some, but not all bodies, we must have a good reason for doing so.  The burden of proof is on the exclusion of these planets under this analysis.

The “discovery” of the Outer Planets is even more problematic for Aristotelian thought.  According to this philosophy, the physical universe must be a replica of the metaphysical cosmos.  The “discovery” of extra planets is inconsistent with the doctrines of the 7 Divine Principles and the Traditional Model of the Cosmos.  This creates a huge crisis. Do the 3 extra planets mean that there are 3 extra spheres to the cosmos?  Are there 3 more Divine Principles?  If the physical solar system must be an exact replica of the full cosmos, this would seem to be the case.  The “discovery” of extra planets calls into question past metaphysical teachings, and if these teachings are to be preserved, there must be an explanation.  History has born this out.  The “discovery” of the heliocentric model of the solar system did not disrupt the practice of astrology; the “discovery” of the Outer Planets did.

The “discovery” of the Outer Planets is not a problem for Platonic and Traditional Essentialist thought.  Under this philosophy, one does not expect the physical universe to be the exact replica of the entire cosmos.  The physical universe reflects the entire cosmos, but there can be and probably are, variations.  The fact that there are more physical planets than are accounted for in the Traditional Model of the Cosmos or in the 7 Divine Principles does not change anything.  The traditional teachings are preserved.  The system that has been passed down for millennia does not need to be revised or changed.  The Outer Planets can not represent Divine Principles, because tradition teaches us that there are Seven Divine Principles and the Archetypes that these Principles rule.  We treat the tradition that has been passed down to us as sacrosanct.

Under Platonic and Essentialist philosophy, the movements of the Outer Planets may have meaning for us.  This does not disrupt tradition.  In astrology, there are other points that are traditionally recognized as meaningful that are not equated with Divine Principles.  Some examples are the Lunar Nodes and Arabic Parts.   On the other hand, the Outer Planets do not have to have meaning just because they exist, have physical properties similar to the Traditional Planets, and can now be perceived with instruments.  The burden of proof is placed on assigning them meaning, rather than on not assigning them meaning.

On the other hand, under Platonic thought, even if the Outer Planets have meaning, they can not rule signs, and they do not represent extra cosmological spheres.   There are Seven Divine Principles, not nine or ten, and their relationship to the Archetypes is a matter of well established tradition.  Assigning rulerships to the Outer Planets disrupts the system in a way that attributing meaning to them does not.

As you can see, returning to Platonic and Traditional Essentialist thought frees us to observe the physical universe and to adjust our practice accordingly.  At the same time, it also anchors us and gives us boundaries for these observations and adjustments.

I intended this to be the final article in these series, but this explanation ended up being longer than I expected.  Part IV of this series will explore the role of research and observation and its relationship to traditional teachings.

Astrology as a Traditional Science, Part IV: Research and Observation

Astrology as a Traditional Science, Part I: The Origins of Rationalism

An interesting discussion emerged in the comments for one of my previous articles, The Outer Planets: A Theory.  As a result of this discussion, a friend of mine wrote an article discussing Traditional Cosmology, which may be a bit challenging for modern Western practitioners of Classical Astrology.  The article is here.  I would posit that this is the challenge of restoring astrology as a true traditional science, rather than succumbing to the temptation of trying to force our art and craft into the mold of modern science.

In this blog, I have used the term traditional science, but I have not defined its meaning. A traditional science is a study which applies metaphysical principles in a practical way to our material and physical lives. Until the Enlightenment in the West, all science was traditional science. This is the reason why the Roman Catholic Church concerned itself with the teachings of Galileo. It is hard to see this today because modern science has divorced itself from matters of metaphysics, theology, and religion. While there are modern scientists that are deeply spiritual and religious, there has been a “Chinese Wall” that has been built between science and religion that is strengthened and supported by both sides.

Plato and AristotleWhile the so-called “Enlightenment” was the beginning of the final stages of this movement, its roots in the West go very deep. The “Enlightenment” was really started by the nominalist movement who had proponents such as William of Ockham, but even this movement has deeper roots. When I began my studies of essentialist metaphysics, I found myself in disharmony with my teachers as I was trying to place what I had learned in Classical Astrology into essentialist teachings. It was not until I read an article by Robert Hand that I understood why. It all began as a  disagreement that Aristotle had with his teacher, Plato, on the nature of Perfect Form. If I understand the nature of this disagreement correctly, Aristotle taught that all Forms must manifest on the material plane, so that if a Form did not exist on the material plane, it could not exist on the metaphysical level as a Perfect Form. It seems to me that this was the idea that eventually led to modern substantialism.

This notion added a corollary to the axiom, “as above, so below,” teaching “if not below, than not above.” This created the false dichotomy between science and religion, because now, if something was discovered on the material plane that did not match theology, metaphysics, and philosophy, this discovery called into question the doctrines of these disciplines.  This led to a new corollary, “as below, so above.”  The doctrine of nominalism takes this a step further teaching, “there is no above, there is only below.”

It is against this backdrop that the “Enlightenment” became possible, and this is the backdrop against which all Western astrologers must attempt to practice their craft.  With the understanding of Ideal Form having been dismissed and lost, astrologers were left to explain and practice their craft in a world where the fundamental principles of the science were no longer taught or believed.  Against this backdrop, it is not surprising that astrologers themselves began to confuse the actual physical bodies of the planets for what they represented.  It is also not surprising that the “discovery” of new planets and astronomical bodies would lead astrologers to doubt their forerunners, as the true understanding of their craft had been long lost and disregarded by Western society.

In order to reclaim astrology as a true traditional science, I would posit that we must turn back the clock and develop an understanding of the essentialist metaphysical principles upon which this craft is based.

Astrology as a Traditional Science, Part II:  Angels and Archetypes