The Philosophy of Psyche
Butterflies are Free to Fly
In the ancient Greece of Plato and Aristotle, the word “psyche’ held a dual meaning; one could be referring to a nearby fluttering butterfly or to the deeper nature of the soul-mind. The Greeks learned much from the hoary Egyptians, who favored the spiritual analogy of butterflies being reborn from the chrysalis. One can imagine millions of butterflies hovering above the Nile River during its seasonal floods in ancient Egypt. We can find numerous hieroglyphs depicting butterflies sprinkled liberally on the inner walls of their ancient tombs and buildings. Art in ancient Egypt was not simply decorative and aesthetic. By their art, the ancient Egyptians depicted not only their physical world…but also their deeply held customs and beliefs, including those concerning life and death; those twin concerns of all of humanity. Butterflies undergo a complete metamorphosis from their earlier form of the low-crawling crawling caterpillar. Anyone observing these dramatic life stages could make the association with rebirth, resurrection, immortality, and longevity, as had the Chinese, Greeks, and other cultures.
In ancient Sumer 4,000 years ago, the ‘Gala’ poet-priests, who likely wrote the Epic of Gilgamesh, focused instead on the molting dragonflies as their symbol of human psychology and spirituality, for King Gilgamesh, in his ancient saga, must shed the mortal Ego, or molt his human side, before reaching his spiritual goal of overcoming death and reaching immortality. The Kings great challenges are newly revealed in the New Muse book, ‘How to Become Immortal; The Adventures of King Gilgamesh and the Wildman.”
As in the lives of Gilgamesh and Enkidu the Wild Man, each of us has a similar unfolding awaiting us, as we move through our own unique human challenges, while alive on a revolving planet, in a great cosmic setting, while traveling at great, astonishing galactic speeds. We are both human…and that is which way past human; we are the great, expansive divine mind of which the ancients wrote. Most humans are uninterested in spiritual growth; the Greeks called these the ‘wooden’ type of human being, and they are predominant in all cultures, ancient and new.
Everyone Learns Better When They’re Awake ~!~ A Teacher
Philosopher Aldous Huxley once wrote that our Ego-mind causes a great reduction in the appreciation of universal reality; he called it a ‘trickling down’ of something much greater in scope. The overcoming of the Ego’s extremely small estimation of reality is the true, effective way for spiritual growth, and it’s always been so, for all of humanity, although this ‘way’ expresses itself in endless flavors called religions and spiritual paths. Regardless, of the Flavor, there IS a Way, and each of us will call it their own; this reflects the endless diversity of opportunities in this unfolding universe.
As we are brought into this world, in the personal sense, we seemingly start our mental, psychic lives as a young babe; a tabula rasa, or blank slate, as the Romans used to say. Interestingly, as we write upon our blank mental slate, neuroplasticity occurs in our neural background as we grow. The brain constantly prunes itself, as a natural gardener, discarding, old unused neurons from the brain. We generate new neurons from undeveloped ‘stem’ cells, whenever we exercise our minds in areas of new experience and interest. These cells are then locked into a type of patterned group, as neurons which ‘fire together-wire together’ and become semi-permanent neural structures in the brain. All the while, through the losing and gaining of brain and body cells, our ever-growing personal cocoon, our growing knowledge is somehow maintained. Further, we must repeatedly use our neurons through the growing experiences of our lives…or we lose them to our ‘neural gardener’. Throughout this endless cellular transience of neuroplasticity, our internal knowledge of ourselves and the world mysteriously ascends upon a rising scaffold of consciousness, occasionally intensifying even to the stage of Transcendent Awareness. The Ego and Personality grow quickly, and we progress rapidly from childhood to adulthood and in doing so, we gather prodigious psychological forces within us, which are both informational and motivational, as we write upon our inner neural slate.
“From the very beginning of his education,
the child should experience the joy of discovery.”
Alfred North Whitehead
Another way of describing our mental growth, is to say that we populate our subconscious with new information and values which act as a springboard for the emerging consciousness of the Ego-Personality. As we grow into our lives, we emerge with fledgling potential; we develop extraordinary psychological powers; even Wisdom. While the emerging butterfly sheds its Chrysalis, and learns to fly anew, we too will soar off somewhere inside of ourselves into the supreme adventure of our own psyche, well beyond the cocoon-like restrictions of the physical body. These creative, emerging traits will be our new wings as we live and grow though our inner and outer lives. As is stated in the Hindu Upanishads, we cannot help but to be creative in our search for value, meaning and truth. We constantly foster our psychological and physical environment; whether helpful and good…or damaging and destructive; we endlessly create our personal reality throughout our entire lives, yet the depth of truth and satisfaction remain for elusive for most:
“The face of Truth is covered with a brilliant golden lid:
that do thou remove, O Fosterer, for the law of the Truth, for Sight.”
As children grow and psychologically emerge from their human chrysalis, each new, young individual will be participating in social structures almost immediately. They will both influence and be influenced by the outside world at large. This is not only psychologically and culturally true but also biologically true as evidenced by the strong rise of the science of Epigenetics, which studies the effects of the outside world upon the makeup of the dynamic human genome. The outside world does indeed affect our bodies genetic makeup; our particular bio-cocoon. Contrast that idea with the previously supposed biological notion that your genes alone create your physical destiny; your life’s path. This scientific idea of genes is important, but only as a precursor to the more dynamic science of Epi-genetics. Gene-science itself now seems to have more limited value, and simply doesn’t begin to address the nature and color of our minds. In this book, we follow a strong, internal neural theme that suggests there is an important, yet subtle passing of neuro-psychological energy, both conscious and unconscious, coursing throughout our brains and bodies…and also between each of us.
This energy represents our latent psychological and spiritual potential. This powerful, yet subtle neuro-psychological energy can be seen everywhere, if we look. It’s our in our body language, thoughts, speech, social valuations, visual glances, esteemed ideas, passionate emotions, personal desires, and still other modalities, such as Love, both inwardly and outwardly focused.
This remarkable energy seems to be created in our mind…and yet, as we shall see, it is exerted from beyond our brain… in the remarkable pulsations of our own beating neuronal hearts, which extend strong electromagnetic waves throughout and well beyond the physical body. This internal ‘psychic energy’, as psychologist C.G. Jung called it, is extremely sensitive and does sublimely interact with the external sensing of ‘the world’ at large. To borrow a phrase from Chaos Science, there is a ‘sensitive dependence upon initial conditions.’
This simply means that our own initial birth into a biological ‘neural body,’ along with the social aspects of raising a child in a particular environment, will always produce a distinct, unique, individual Mind. The intense societal persuasion to be ‘normal’ is a heavily-cherished myth of the masses. Good, bad, or indifferent, this is how civilization grows…from the inside out; as endlessly creative children are born and emerge as adults in our competitive societies. They are massively creating new social zeitgeists; again, good, bad or indifferent. Our world civilization is like the river that always changes as it constantly flows…into the future. But, what of our Butterflies wandering direction?
Long ago, in the famous ‘Pythagorean Y’ mystical tradition there was an emblematic process called ‘The Forking of the Ways’. The ‘Y’ character in English originated from the Greek letter Upsilon, and was a visual, metaphoric illustration for how our brains work…and for how our decisions help to shape our destiny.
“The Pythagoras Letter, Two Ways Spread,
Shows the Two Paths in which Man’s Life is Led.”
“Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run
There’s still time to change the road you’re on.”
The Y-upsilon signified the all-important power of choice and was used by the Greeks in their initiations into their secret Mystery Schools. The Y consists of a stem which separated into two parts, one branching to the right and the other to the left. When a child grew into adulthood, they were expected to make a choice as to the type of life they would live. The branch to the right was called Divine Wisdom and the one to the left Earthly Wisdom. If the children chose the Left path, the lesser road of Earthly Wisdom, then they set upon a path of choosing to live life materialistically, selfishly and with a cold, predatory logic towards their survival. They live an egotistical life to be lived for the purposes of desire. Centuries later, Rene Descartes, a student of the Pythian Way, also wrote that all men were of two different mind-types. The Pythagorean’s considered the Left path to be the lesser journey of failure and mindlessness. It took courage to follow the right-hand path:
“True courage is not the brutal force of vulgar heroes,
but the firm resolve of virtue and reason.
Alfred North Whitehead
If children chose the Right path of the Y-Epsilon, then they developed, through interest and devotion, a deeper inner knowing about their intrinsic Divine nature. They underwent trials of difficulty during their spiritual, perceptive development period, while journeying towards a greater consciousness that highly valued Virtue. In finding their Divine Nature inside themselves, they came to sublime Peace. The Pythagorean ‘Forking of the Ways’ represented the potential character of the emerging adult. And now, our question is; what is the character of these children in the early 21st century and going forward? What type of character will children have…in a rapidly accelerating futuristic society?
Is human character, as seen for its Virtue, a survival trait for living sanely… or something becoming useless in a modern, ill-mannered society? Is modern character a matter of the deep Heart or rather a dominating Ego? These new individuals, ever ‘fostering’ and expressing themselves upon the ‘Forking of their Ways’, create societies, cultures, and civilizations. Could the good flowing river of our civilization become a torrential, ego-driven technological Tsunami of overwhelming proportions in the future?
Above: The 8,000 year old Phoenician Ypsilon migrated to the Greeks, well before the Pythagorean adopted the symbol.
Yes, There are Two Paths. Choose Wisely.
Peace, Love, Lessons, Wisdom, Flight ~!~