Sacred geometry

Logos in the Garden of Souls (Part 1)

PLEASE NOTE: This series of talks is intended for experienced practitioners who have already developed some understanding of and working familiarity with practices of emptiness, samatha, mettā, the emotional/energy body, and the imaginal, as well as basic mindfulness practice. In particular, it is strongly recommended that before approaching this set you study and work with the material from the following talks and series: The Theatre of Selves (Parts 1 - 3); Approaching the Dharma, Part 1 (Unbinding the World), and Part 2 (Liberating Ways of Looking); the three-part series Questioning Awakening, Buddhism Beyond Modernism, In Praise of Restlessness; Image, Mythos, Dharma (Parts 1 - 3); An Ecology of Love (Parts 1 - 4); The Path of the Imaginal (Longer Course); and Re-enchanting the Cosmos: The Poetry of Perception. Integrating that previous material and also taking the talks in this new set in their intended order will, for most, support a better and fuller understanding of the teachings from this course.
Date2nd February 2017
Retreat/SeriesEros Unfettered - Opening the Dharma ...


Let's continue in our circling motion, our circling movement, between the different elements and facets of this whole area that we're trying to open up of eros and soulmaking, and continue our weave back and forth, revisiting certain of those elements and weaving them together with others, back and forth like a loom.

I mentioned that I would like to say more about the whole aspect of conceptual framework, and draw that in and draw that out more. I hope it's obvious -- it should be obvious, I think -- that any path that we wish to walk down, a spiritual path, a psychospiritual path, whatever, and any set of practices that form part of that path, that path and those practices need some kind of undergirding in a conceptual framework, a logos that holds them together, that puts them in relationship to each other, makes sense of them, gives them direction -- all that. So they go together. They're kind of indispensable. A conceptual framework is indispensable to a path. And as such, in a way, it forms a map, or part of a map, you could say, of where that path is trying to go, if we use that image. It helps in the navigation. That's what we were talking about before: navigation. What is the art of navigation with all these practices?

The conceptual framework is very much a part of that at a lot of different levels, you know. One level is a kind of macro-level. The other level is the conceptual framework, our understanding of that, informs our moment-to-moment decisions and responses in practice. In life, we're constantly meeting, encountering, a new situation, a new moment with a new experience, this or that coming to the fore, and the question is, how should I respond? How should I navigate in relation to what is coming up, in relation to where I want to go? All of that is informed by the larger conceptual framework. Conceptual framework, logos, also makes sense -- we need something to make sense, or a part of us needs something to make sense of our experiences, of the whole notion of the path, of our life, all of that. So conceptual framework is part of that. It offers that. It contributes to that.

Actually, there's a whole other level in which it 'makes sense' in a different meaning of the word. It makes sense. In other words, it makes experience. We'll come back to that. But it forms for us a vessel, if we go back to that alchemical metaphor or maxim that we were drawing on. The conceptual framework forms a vessel, forms a structure that contains, we feel contained by, supported by, so that we can trust our movement on the path: are we going in the right direction? We trust our experiences as they unfold, or we know what to trust. So in that sense, it gives us a sense of stability, support and stability, and that's part of balance, isn't it? We're talking about navigating and finding balance with eros, with the imaginal, etc. So conceptual framework, logos, is part of what grounds us. We say it's a head thing, but actually it grounds us. It gives us a foundation. It gives us a kind of scaffolding.

Now, especially if we're encountering intense experiences, but even if they're not intense, if we're just feeling ourselves move into what might be new territory or edgy territory, if it's our edge or if it's regarded by the mainstream of society or whatever culture we're moving in, Dharma culture or other, you know, larger culture, regarded as edgy or dangerous or ridiculous or whatever it is -- really, really supportive there in all of that; a grounding, foundation, scaffold, support, vessel, all of that. And, you know, eros and the imaginal and soulmaking, for a lot of people, is edgy, or is regarded as edgy and all that other stuff. So in a way, we could, to give a sort of image/metaphor for a conceptual framework, it's kind of like a trellis in a garden -- a sort of wooden scaffolding, if you like, or could be made of something else, but that forms a support for a certain flower (maybe roses or something) to grow, and they grow along or up and wind their way along this trellis, and then they can flower, and they can have their beauty, and their beauty can be seen, and we can receive that. The structure, the trellis is providing a structure that's supportive and for the sake of all the beauty that flowers there.

Sometimes we dismiss or we want to get away from conceptual frameworks, etc. We don't realize actually how supportive it is. Actually, a better analogy even than the trellis would be, for the roses in a rose garden or something, would be a tree -- perhaps a fruit tree. The tree is its own structure. The roots, the trunk, the branches, all of that, the shape of that, we could say that the conceptual framework is like the structure of a tree. It forms a structure. What's perhaps better about the tree analogy is that it's not like the structure is one thing and the soulmaking is another thing, as it was in the trellis analogy to the roses. Here the structure, the conceptual structure, is a part of soul. It's an aspect of the tree. It's totally integrated with the tree. The trunk, the roots, the branches, the structure, the shape of that is the tree. It's part of the tree. It's completely embodied, incorporated. They're not separate things. So logos and conceptual framework is part, a dimension, an aspect of soul and soulmaking and psyche. Even though we say eros-psyche-logos, remember I said they're not really separate.

So that might be a useful analogy. And then we have the fruit and the beauty and the flowers of the tree, and all that a tree can offer, or even a whole orchard of trees. But the structure of the tree is the tree. And also in the tree analogy or the fruit tree analogy, it's not a fixed structure. So the structure of that tree is organic. It grows, just as our conceptual framework can and, as I've been saying, needs to grow. The logos needs to grow. Just like a tree, it's not a fixed, limited, preset, rigid structure. It is actually organic, and it grows, and that growing of the tree and of the conceptual frameworks are responsive. In other words, they respond. If you look at the way, let's say, an apple tree grows in an orchard, you'll see how responsive it is to the light, as plants are phototropic to different degrees. It responds to the light. It responds to the other trees around it. It responds to all kinds of things. It responds also to itself when it's getting too heavy or too lopsided, etc., and sometimes that response is it actually breaks. A branch breaks off, or the tree splits in two, or a crack appears. Sometimes the tree gets too big for itself. And conceptual frameworks also can break, get too big, a crack appears, etc.

Can we include that fact, that organic fact of the way trees grow as organic, and that organic fact about conceptuality and conceptual frameworks? Can we include that in a sort of larger scale conceptual framework? So right there, there's this Kabbalistic idea, mythical idea of the breaking of the vessels, Shevirat ha-Kelim. And one kind of vessel, as I said, is a conceptual framework, and those, too, in our life, they break at times. Though that can be very difficult -- and I'll come back to this -- I would also say: sad, the person whose conceptual framework doesn't break at least once in their life. I'll come back to that. But here we have perhaps an analogy where the structure is not separate from the fruit, from the soulmaking, from what the soul is. It's not fixed. It's organic. It grows. That's part of its nature. And it grows in a responsive way with what's around it. And the breaking might be part of it.

Now, I've also said (and it's one of the things that's really worth repeating), when I say 'concept,' or 'logos,' or 'conceptual framework,' or even 'idea,' I'm not just referring to something abstract, something removed, taken away from life, away from experience, away from an embodiment, into some kind of disembodied, intellectual, separate sort of realm of the mind. There can be that. We can have conceptual frameworks [where] that's what we're doing with them, and that's what they become for us. And, okay, we can include that. But mostly, I'm really talking about what we live, an indispensable element of our existence that comes into our life, that we actually end up embodying, whether we know it or like it or not, and comes into our experience. Mostly, I'm not even talking about what we think. Certainly a conceptual framework, we elucidate it, and elaborate on it in words and thought, and we reflect on it, and put it together with other ideas, and make sure we understand, and all that, thinking. Of course I'm including that. But I'm also making the point that I've made before, that concept, logos, as I would use that word, operates even when we are not thinking. Even in the second jhāna and other jhānas and those kinds of experience, there is not thinking going on, but there is conceptuality going on.

If we don't see that, if you don't see that -- and I know some people are really wedded to the idea of non-conceptual awareness in different ways; for some people it means bare attention, for other people it's kind of got a Dzogchen context or whatever -- but if you don't see that, then what I would unfortunately (or fortunately) say to you is: it just needs more practice. You need to practise with more subtlety of sensitivity and noticing, but particularly you need to practise in the direction of less fabrication, so much so that you begin to see the relationship with concepts, conceptualities, in the present moment, in the mind -- how they not just shape the fabrication and therefore the experience, but actually how they contribute, how they actually fabricate anything at all. In other words, without conception, if you really drop all conception, nothing gets fabricated. No experience gets fabricated. So that where there's conception, it fabricates experience, and where there's experience, there's some conception bound up, wrapped up, in that experience. Even the barest level of conceptuality, some kind of knowing, with some kind of knower and known (therefore, subject and object), the barest, most refined level, and some kind of sense of a present moment: that's conceptuality. Subject, object, and time is the barest level of conceptuality. And pulled almost immediately in with all that is a whole bunch of other stuff about potentiality and change, and therefore past and future and all that.

But even that, and I don't have any label for what is appearing as object, what is known -- it can be a very subtle perception, but where there is perception, experience, appearance, there is concept. Certainly at the level of mindfulness and so-called bare attention, you just need to play with, "Is there a subtle concept?" This is now a less subtle level of conceptuality, but is there a relatively subtle concept I'm not even conscious of? This is what I'm mindful of, but, for example, am I regarding it as something real? Am I regarding it even as something material, whatever it is -- this tree that I'm looking at, this touch of the foot on the earth? And what's wrapped up in that concept of materiality? Or am I regarding it as an appearance, which is a more, if you know the philosophical term, more of a phenomenological bracketing there? It's appearance. Regarding it as appearance, a mindfulness that regards this touch of the foot as appearance, is different already than a mindfulness that unconsciously, automatically, out of habit regards that touch as the meeting of materials, the foot and the earth.

Anyway, there's always a conceptual framework, there's always a logos, there's always a way of looking when there's any experience apart from the so-called experience of the Unfabricated, which is a very different kind of thing where there is no time, no knowing of subject or object, knowing subject or knowing object, knowing of object. There's always a conceptual framework. There's always a concept, a logos, which creates a way of looking, which is part of the way of looking, which, if you like, is part of determining the experience -- not just the interpretation, the hermeneutics of this experience, but the experience itself. It's part of fabricating. So when I'm talking now about conceptual framework and logos or idea -- and I probably use those words interchangeably -- I'm talking about something that we want it to be translatable, incorporatable into a way of looking so that it's fruitful, so that it's fertile, so that it opens up our perception and our experience. We're talking about something that we live.

As I've said before in other talks and I'll come back to, there's always a metaphysics. There's always some belief about what's real. And there's always some conceptuality there. We want to be able to employ different conceptual frameworks that are actually fertile, that give rise to, open up our experience, and that we can actually embody in our life.

Now, for me, I would say, and you'll have to see how much you feel the same way, but for me, I would say if we're interested in building a conceptual framework, opening one up, discovering/creating a conceptual framework in the Dharma and in relation to eros and soulmaking, then it's going to need to be able to do quite a lot, or support quite a lot, the way I see it right now. It's going to need to account for quite a few things, quite a few aspects of experience, and it's going to have to include and not ignore quite a few things. And I'll give a list of things. It's going to need to make sense of quite a few things in our experience, etc. It's going to need to give a vital place to and a purpose to quite a few things, and also connect those things. So it needs to account for, include and not ignore, make sense of, give vital place and purpose to, and connect quite a few different elements of our experience.

One is this whole observation that we have of lessening fabrication. And that whole spectrum of fabrication that we can discover in meditation, it's not random. It's not just, "Things disappear because they're impermanent." We actually see there's a whole spectrum, more or less fabricated, all the way down to no fabrication at all, no experience. We need to understand the dependent origination there, and what that's dependent of, and conceptuality, and identification, and avijjā, clinging. We talked about this all before. But that fact, somehow I need to account for it and include it. I can't just kind of skip over that. And coming out of that observable spectrum of fabrication, its relationship or its dependent arising, either coming out of that, or some other way, the emptiness of all things, all things without question. Not leaving anything not empty. Not leaving the aggregates, the process, the time, the big awareness, being, materiality, atoms, electrons, subatomic particles. Emptiness of all, all, all: space, time, and all of that.

Somehow, this, to me, has to be included. If we don't, then something remains not empty, and we start building a whole structure on that assumption of reality, which is relatively easily disproved in one way or another. Of course, that's what sometimes happens, either consciously, or a person doesn't even realize that they're assuming the reality of this or that, assuming the non-emptiness of this or that, and they're just saying, "Yes, yes, yes, emptiness, of course," but there's some basis in reality there, and everything is coming out of that as a foundation, of this real thing, whatever it is -- materiality, and then you've got a neuroscience-based Dharma, or atomistic process or whatever it is.

So fabrication, the spectrum of fabrication, dependent arising, the emptiness of absolutely everything. And also, for me, the whole opening up of the idea of ways of looking, the plurality, the legitimacy of a whole manifold range of ways of looking. Not because we want to be nice guys (I don't actually think I'm a nice guy, but) -- that's not the reason [laughs], that I'm just trying to not get into an argument with someone, so I just say everyone's way of looking is fine. That's actually not what I'm saying, and that's not the reason. It's coming out of emptiness. It's going deeply into fabrication, very deeply, and seeing the emptiness of all things, seeing: what are we left with? We are left with a range, an option of ways of looking, the diversity, the flexibility of ways of looking. And somehow in all that, I also need to account for, make sense of, and give purpose to the whole and really structure the whole relationship of the fabricated with the Unfabricated. And then where does this thing that people call 'mindfulness' or 'bare attention' fit into that? This we've talked about before. But somehow my conceptual framework has to, as I said, account for and include all this. I can't just ignore this spectrum of fabrication. I can't forget that everything is empty.

So all of that, but then also, a conceptual framework that, to me, would really be healthy and relatively robust and beauty-making and supportive and all that, needs also to account for, include, make sense of, give vital place and purpose to, and connect all of these with the other ideas -- so also images and the imaginal, and what does that mean. Are we just going to discount the whole imaginative faculty that human beings have? The noticing of the fact that our life is full of fantasy anyway? The whole movement of soulmaking? Are we just going to ignore it, and pretend that that's not something that is part of our existence, to more or less degrees for different human beings at different times? It already exists, all this. Are we going to dismiss it? Are we going to ignore it? Or, actually, are we going to construct and discover a conceptual framework that can hold all this together and give it life?

And again, you know, part of that is, and what we're talking about, eros and desire and sexuality. Are we just chopping that stuff off, or over-simplistically reducing it, or dismissing it, or labelling it in too reductive or not subtle enough ways? And body. Are we limiting what body is to us and can be to us? Do we just have a materialist reductionist view of body, or I just see it through the lens of sort of the way we've been taught the four foundations of mindfulness, as the first foundation or something? Body. How much that has been left out, until quite recently, and even then, it's only just hardly made any inroads. How much that has been left out of Western philosophy and psychology -- embodiment, and what the body is, and what the body can be for us, to us. Where there is soulmaking, where there's this expansion of eros-psyche-logos, the body, too, will be drawn into that. I'll come back to this.

So somehow our conceptual framework has to actually include body, and give more place to body, more purpose to body, different accounts of body. And then, of course, also just the whole of the human being. And again, what is our conceptual framework saying about what a human being is? Because that, too, is soulmaking, will be expanded, broadened, deepened, given dimension. Am I just sticking it into, again, a kind of evolutionary accident emerging from the primal swamp after a long enough time by the vagaries of biochemistry? Or the human being is just what secular modernism says the human being is? And related to that, of course, relationships. What are human relationships? Does my conceptual framework allow the growth and the expansion, and the widening and deepening of the sense and the concept of what my human relationships are? Or again, am I just putting it into some modernist secular box or whatever it is, or Marxist box or whatever? Death. Can the whole conceptual framework support opening the relationship with death? How often the conversation about death, and relationship with it, seems so sort of flatly polarized: "After death. What will happen after death? Is there anything after death?" And it revolves around this rebirth, or heaven or hell, or this state, or dissolving into oneness or whatever.

What are you now? Never mind what you will be or what will happen. What is happening now? If I see that flatly, if I'm limited in what I actually sense and see happening now, if my soul's looking and sensing of this existence now is limited -- what is this? What is even this now? What is time? All of that, when that gets limited, then it just becomes, "After death. After death. What will it ...? Will it be just extinction?", or "It is extinction," "No, it's not," or "There is rebirth." It's a flat, polarized, kind of naïve and unhelpful argument.

A friend's mother is dying. The friend, he said, "She doesn't believe in something better than what she has on earth," as if that's the only way of looking at it. What do you have on earth? How is time woven into all this? And is there a way of, you know, some people respond to death, "Oh, well, who dies? No one dies because there's no self, or it's just a process that then disbands or whatever. There was no self, so death is okay," or "You just dissolve into the universal being or the universal Brahman or whatever it is, or dissolve into God or whatever." Or someone says, "No, all that's rubbish. It's just a tragedy. It's just an actual tragedy. Here was this wonderful human being, and now they're just gone, and there's nothing but unremitting loss about death."

Is there a way, are there ways of relating to death, that include all those possibilities, but add the whole dimension of the self? So the self is not either just dismissed -- "No one dies. Who dies? No one dies, because there is no one, because there's no self," just a simplistic answer -- or the self just gets dissolved back into a universal, amorphous, unparticularized being. Is there a relationship with death not bound by time, not bound by any idea about something lasting, or what will happen later, or anything like that in time after death, that actually still has a place for the self, a soul-place for the self? So all of this, our conceptual framework has to be able to open up. For me, it has to be able to open up and support quite a lot more than is often the case in relation to all these aspects of our existence, and of course in relation to the earth and the environment. How desperately we are in need of a new relationship, a new conception, a new perception, a new cosmology, really, something that can offer support, real respect, real openness in regard to the earth, the environment, the cosmos. But also the senses. Again, how are we seeing the senses? How are we conceiving of the senses? And again, some interpretations of Buddhadharma, it's as if the senses can be these basic instruments that reveal bare attention. Other versions of Dharma have, you know, the senses are effectively what you're trying to get rid of, ultimately, in some kind of transcendent dissolution. But the earth, the environment, the cosmos, the senses, the beauty, beauties. Can our conceptual framework open up the possibilities for beauty, for discovering and creating beauty? How does our notion of the Dharma support or inhibit that?

And our conceptual framework also needs, of course, to do all this -- account for, make sense of, give place, purpose, connect different aspects. Our Dharma practices -- you know, how does all that connect? The ones we've maybe learnt, and new ones that we can discover for ourselves, and how do they all fit together? And psychology. Again, it's a sense of, you know, what's taken as truth in psychology, or the psychology of a person, or a child development? What's, you know, the whole notion of, or rather the whole possibilities of psychology? Because that, too, must expand if the eros-psyche-logos dynamic expands. Psychology, logos. Logos needs to expand. And as I've said many times before, the whole sense of sacredness, and the range of that, and this whole notion of divinity, and what might that mean, or what can that mean, or how can that open up and become something that's supported and fertile. And if we talk about divinity again, how does the conceptual framework relate to and conceive of the whole relationship of, say, the spectrum of fabrication, with the fact tied in with that that our perception can seem more or less substantial with the refinement and the moving up and down of that spectrum of fabrication? And do we just associate that with less substantial, more refined, more ethereal, is somehow more divine? Is that how we relate? Or is there some other way that actually gives as much divinity to both ends of that spectrum? Are there other ways of conceiving that support a kind of non-hierarchicalized notion of divinity, of the range, of the spectrum of what divinity can be and how we can sense it?

So the notion of dimensionality, I've said, is related to divinity. And somehow, what's the conceptual framework in relation to the sense of dimensionality we discover in our experience as we pay attention, as we experiment? There's always more dimensionality. Maybe that's tied in with the whole sense of divinity: the always more, the unfathomability of divinity. But in 'always more,' it's not necessarily that the 'more' is closer to divinity, just because it's more and I haven't fathomed it yet. So there's a lot here that a conceptual framework needs to take account for, include, not ignore, make sense of, give place and purpose to, and kind of stitch together in a supportive framework -- all that, for me, I would say. For me, again (maybe you agree; maybe you don't), these are important things. These things matter to us, matter deeply. They make a big difference, the conceptual framework and the concepts and the beliefs about and assumptions about all this stuff, perceptions of all this stuff.

Now, another aspect of all of this that's, for me, a requirement, is we need to acknowledge, as I've already pointed out, not just that concept and percept (the conceptual framework and experience) are mutual dependent originations. In other words, where there's concept there is experience, and that concept is part of fabricating that experience, shaping, determining that experience, giving rise to that experience. And also, of course, that the concepts we have are formed by experiences -- at least some of them. There's a mutual dependent origination there to some extent. Not just that, but in addition to that, both idea (concept, logos, conceptual framework) and experience are both situated -- they are contextually conditioned. So that history and society, ideas/logoi/conceptual frameworks, and experience/perceptions/appearances, whatever you want to call it, those three (history/society, ideas, and experience) are mutually conditioning. They're hardly separable. In other words, ideas emerge in history and are borrowed from history. We inherit certain ideas from history. Ideas also shape history. And both of those shape our experience. And of course experiences emerge, and they become ideas, and shape history that way. There's a mutual conditioning between all those three.

So what that means in relationship to conceiving of a conceptual framework that's supportive to soulmaking and eros and everything that we're talking about is that we can't claim, it would be silly to claim a kind of ahistoricality, like, "We're now talking about some truth. This conceptual framework is the truth. It's ahistorical. It's transcendent of all history. It's not situated in this culture, in this time, with this historical influx of ideas and all the rest of it." It's totally contextual. We somehow need to admit that, and actually give relevance and place to that, yeah? And maybe even purpose to that, which hopefully is something I'll come back to.

For example, in the story that I related of the yogi on retreat the other day, and her need for the earth and the woods to touch and address and cherish, to cherish her particularities, her self, her particular self, her unique self. In other words, in the way that we're speaking about, for her what was needed there was her self, in its particularity, in its uniqueness, to be more fully included and involved in the imaginal constellation, so that there was a balance there in the expanding soulmaking dynamic of eros-psyche-logos, and also so that, as part of that, the self became an erotic-image (either for the self, or in this case, for the object of the image reciprocally).

So her need for that, someone could say, "But surely that's just a creation, a fabrication, demanded now, or kind of conditioned or even forced, by the rise of the modernist self, which was a self, a sense of self that didn't exist before." In other words, go back far enough in history, read whatever documents we have, get a sense, and it's like, it's hard to really believe that the sense of self that we so much take for granted now in modernity, in the time of modernity and Western culture, is the same kind of sense of self of the people the Buddha was talking to. You simply do not get the same sense of complexity or difficulty in regard to certain psychological interiorities that we now have, that we absolutely take for granted, and we feel viscerally, "This is my self, and this is important." Or perhaps even in the Old Testament, as well, as well as the Pali Canon.

This modernist self, as quite a few philosophers have pointed out, it's a creation. It's a construction. It's not, so to speak, an independently existing reality. Some sense of self will always be there, but the actual sense of self, and the complex, interior-arised sort of psychological self that seems to exist in some kind of independent way, etc., that we feel so normally nowadays, is a creation of modernism, of Western modernism. "And were it not for that creation," this person is pointing out, "then there's no need for the creation of an imaginal perception of the earth being in love with me, as felt as a modernist self. There's a double construction there." To which I would say, "Yes, absolutely. There's a double construction. There's a double construction there." Soulmaking, eros-psyche-logos, creates as much as it discovers. So yes, fabrication. Yes, construction. But that doesn't make it, certainly, less soulmaking. It's like, there's a whole soulmaking process here that we could actually say includes history, includes the ideas that are bequeathed to us. So the modernist self is, to a certain extent, a soulmaking construction, historically emergent, culturally contingent, all of that.

It's a soulmaking construction. And then it demands -- its logos begins to break, and doesn't support enough eros, doesn't support enough soulmaking -- demands another construction. That whole historical movement could be regarded as soulmaking. I'm going to come back to this. But yes, acknowledging that it's a creation, a construction, a fabrication, doesn't make it less soulmaking. On the contrary. It doesn't make it less divine, either, in the way that I would be talking about divinity. And doesn't even make it less real, because you would have to ask, "Compared to what?" Show me something that is not fabricated. "It's created. It's fabricated, therefore it's not real," compared to what?

Or, to stay a while with this point of mutual conditioning of history/society, ideas/logos/conceptual framework, and experience/perception/appearance: I wonder how many of you have had this experience that I've had, and I don't think it's that uncommon. Perhaps you are with a relative or a loved one, someone who you love deeply, and perhaps they are ill, for example. And perhaps you massaged their feet, or held their feet, or somehow held something of their body. Perhaps they were dying. And somehow, in the holding, and in the love, and in the erotic love (and I don't just mean sexual love), in the erotic love there, this person's feet, this loved one's feet, became holy. Maybe even became, somehow, in the perception there, in the imaginal perception, they gained a dimensionality or dimensionalities of holiness. Maybe they even became Jesus's feet, body, the feet of the Christ -- perhaps the crucified Christ. And wrapped up in that kind of thing, there's something sacred about this person. This person I love, their particularity, their body, something sacred. And something sacred about Christ or Jesus or whatever. And something sacred kind of spreading from that to all bodies, and perhaps in the cosmopoesis as well. So there's some degree of that movement happening.

Now, you could say, of course, if it is, let's say, the sense of touching Jesus's feet there, how rich that is. Some people this will not resonate with at all, but for a lot of people in our culture, not just people who have Christian backgrounds or who were raised Christian, that image has such a richness and a poignancy and a beauty and a poetry to it. You could say, "Oh, sure, but you're having that experience because you're just kind of recalling a cultural icon that you've been fed or conditioned from the culture, from your background, from your family, whatever." And we say, "Yeah, sure. Sure, that's part of what's going on. Yeah." We are fed that image, and it's worked its way into the collective psyche. It might actually be almost eroded now at this point in history, but still, it's there. So yeah, sure, acknowledge that. And, both now, and even originally, in the actual historic occurrence of Jesus's crucifixion and all that, with the apostles, the twelve disciples who became the apostles, etc., both now, in this experience, and in the original, could it also be that both you in this experience of your loved one's feet, and Mary or whoever it was, Joseph of Arimathea and these people, were tapping into an archetype that kind of pre-existed Jesus, if you like? An archetype of the Christ and the martyred one, and everything that's wrapped up in there about death, and divinity, and an exceptionally soulmaking, beautiful love. So there's a tapping into an archetype (we could say that), a kind of primordial archetype in a Jungian sense. Sure. It could be both.

And it could be that, in the original experience historically in the New Testament, with Mary, and then Paul coming with his theology of the body of Christ, etc., all that was exactly the movement of erotic love stimulating, fertilizing, opening, widening and deepening, and giving dimension and divinity to, what it came into contact with as the eros-psyche-logos dynamic was stimulated and fertilized. In other words, there is this eros to this person. Paul I don't think ever met Jesus, but maybe it was Mary, and Jesus's person became image for Paul, and there was an erotic connection there, for Mary and for the others. The erotic connection to this person of Jesus fertilized and deepened and widened the soulmaking, and thus the perception of the body of Jesus, and other bodies related to his, and the self, and the cosmos, and all of that. And out of that, a theology was woven, via Paul and all that, St Paul. And this theology somehow preserved Jesus's uniqueness, his uniqueness and his person, and somehow connected flesh and divinity, and in some theologies, spills over into a cosmology of the cosmic Christ, etc., and the whole kind of divine nature of the universe.

So in this third possibility, we're not just tapping into a kind of pre-existing primordial archetype, but the eros-psyche-logos dynamic, as it expands, is actually creating an archetype, creating a cosmopoesis, creating a theology. Maybe that was what was going on both historically, at the time of Jesus, and also now. The eros-psyche-logos, it will tend to divinize. And of course, what happened back then, 2,000 years ago, was historically conditioned. The kind of logos that came out of that, you can also trace it to the Old Testament, and other ideas that were around, and Greek ideas. But you can't escape cosmology, partly because you can't escape from history and society. The cosmology, you know, that was historically around back then, and the kind of Messianism and Judaism and all that, of course that informed. But there was also something else happening. You could say the eros-psyche-logos dynamic was doing what it does, and how it will transubstantiate things, which we touched on in the last retreat. And the idea that you can get away from any kind of cosmology that's in the present culture, and get away from history and society (I'm going to come back to this), that is highly questionable.

Or again, as a third example, you know, the idea, the conceptual framework or the logos of a cosmic or divine eros, that idea that we've touched on, it will seed, it will feed and support -- think of that orchard image of the tree -- it will seed and support the actual sense, the perception, the experience, the image of that, of a cosmic and divine eros. The idea supports, seeds and supports, the experience -- intrapsychically, with intrapsychic images, and then inevitably with the perception of the world, if I don't get in the way of that. And the reverse: this idea of a cosmic or divine eros that somehow I'm mirroring or that's permeating the cosmos, and all these different ideas, those ideas, that image or that mythos, will emerge from and be seeded by, both -- I would say historically is my guess -- historically, but certainly now. You can see it also in practice, how something opens in experience, and then a little while later, you read something and discover that someone had this idea that corresponds to your experience. Someone had it a long time ago.

Both historically and now, the idea or the mythos emerges from experience and perception opening in the mystical experience, in the imaginal perception, and in the cosmopoesis that comes from that. Because the eros-psyche-logos dynamic is operating, everything is gaining dimension, and thus divinized. The divinity comes with the dimensionality. So eventually, as we said before, even the eros gets given dimensionality and divinized and expanded. There's a sense -- I'm not even thinking it first, but just from following the mystical and imaginal perceptions, not getting in the way, eventually eros appears divine. And then that gives me the idea, "Oh, this is God's eros. I'm participating in it. I'm mirroring it. This eros that I have, this love that I have, echoes, mirrors, has roots in," whatever.

Any conceptual framework that I would like to be involved with, or that I would feel I could get behind, needs to acknowledge that it's not some kind of ultimate truth. It's not depicting some 'way things really are' in some independent way. Nor is it some ultimately true kind of grand theory, a conceptual framework of everything, that's completely ahistorical. So it needs to acknowledge all that. It's not ultimate truth, and it's not completely ahistorical. But at the same time, it needs to, as I said, recognize, as we've said before, there's always a way of looking, and included in the way of looking is the conceptual framework. A logos is operating always when there's experience. And that way of looking and that conceptual framework will give rise to experience -- shape, determine, and actually give rise to experience. And of course the experiences we have shape and inform the conceptual framework and the ways of looking.

But it's not possible to be without a conceptual framework or a way of looking. And if you don't know that, it's like, find that out. Know that that's true. Somehow we need to recognize that. That needs to be included. And with all this, somehow we need, I would say, a conceptual framework -- we need something that supports soulmaking. (I'm going to run through a list, and then go back through them more slowly.) (1) We need a conceptual framework that supports soulmaking. (2) We need a logos, a conceptual framework, that supports, I would say, the fertility and widening of our experience and understanding. So, fertility and widening. (3) And related to that, we need to make sure that we're not engaging in epistemicide. I only learnt that word the other day, but I was thinking along similar lines. I'll come back to this: epistemicide, the killing, the erasure, or the dismissal of ways of knowing.

(4) That we're not, fourthly, reducing to some kind of dogma that there's just one way of looking that's valid, and that way of looking reveals the 'true reality of things.' Often that is what happens in secular modernity, that there's a kind of monotheism, a secular modernist monotheism in terms of ontology (what is real and what's not real), epistemology (what are the valid ways of knowing and what are the not valid ways of knowing), and cosmology (what kind of world we live in, what is the nature of the world we live in). And shrinking that down to, "There's just one way of looking" -- we can call it mindfulness or science or whatever you want to call it -- "and that reveals the reality of things." That's actually a kind of monotheism, whether it's religious or secular or whatever. It goes with modernism actually. I'll come back to this.

(5) Fifthly we need to -- as I've already touched on -- somehow incorporate, this conceptual framework needs to incorporate dependent origination, ways of looking, but principally the emptiness of things. (6) And it's actually related to what I've said before, but a sixth, perhaps, is some conceptual framework that actually opens the ways of knowing, embodied ways of knowing, without a prescribed limit. Going back to what I said before -- this is a variation of what I said before, but how fertile is it? Am I putting a limit? And are there ways of knowing that are not just mental, rational, disembodied? Can the conceptual framework, as I said, include the idea that the conceptual framework breaks? And that the breaking of the vessels is, in some way, included in the very conceptual framework, and the larger conceptual framework? And also what I said much earlier in the retreat: acknowledge and live with and integrate the idea that we can never fully understand eros, either because we say it's divine and unfathomable, or because of the eros-psyche-logos dynamic expanding always the nature of eros itself, the perception, the concept of eros itself. Somehow all of those need to get integrated into our conceptual framework.

Sacred geometry
Sacred geometry