Guided by Hermes’ art, Caris finds the path to a higher consciousness, one grounded in a holistic and alchemical matrix that encourages the growth of a healthy mind. All the arts—including music, art, and literature—are rooted in the sacred tradition and form the center of meditation. From ancient times the arts have conveyed mystical knowledge besides practical skills of their crafts. The treasure discovered on the golden path is paradoxical thinking, the key to a higher consciousness.
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Foundation for a New Consciousness
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Offering the reader a dare, Caris shines light on the path to cultivate a higher consciousness. Many examples selected from literature, philosophy, art, and music illustrate paradoxical thinking and its blossoming. Among those artists and philosophers discussed are Bela Bartok, M. C. Escher, Frank Herbert, Hermann Hesse, Carl Jung, Ursula Le Guin, Pablo Picasso, Plato, Tom Stoppard, and Edgar Varese. Some of the important ideas investigated include personal transformation, microcosm-macrocosm, gender duality, perceptual viewpoints, magic theater of the mind, intuitive use of signs, paradoxical thinking, sacred geometry, and continuing the quest.
Softcover, 138 pages, illustrations, bibliography, index
Birth is a lucid symbol of life's journey. When a child drops from the womb, she becomes immersed in a radically different environment. The sense organs are turned on, providing constant stimuli for the brain. Visually, the child develops pattern recognition and stereo-vision. Many patterns are reinforced by society through language and acceptable behavior. The child learns which patterns are "real," which her society accepts.
As the child learns to cope with the environment, developing her body consciousness, she is suddenly hit at adolescence with a major bio-chemical transformation. The budding ego consciousness is often submerged under the sexual energy, not resurfacing again until the gateway at menopause, which is true for both female and male. A new birth can take place in one's life, and frequently it occurs around this time. This is a birth on a higher level and is described by the myth of the cave, for the cave is both womb and tomb. Christian art uses the cave in this way, as a symbol conveying the paradox of beginning and end.
Leaving the cave and the distorted images of convention, one steps into a new and strange reality. No wonder mystical tradition comments upon the ineffable quality of this experience, for the convention of human language is too restricting. What if you were an astronaut who had just returned from a space flight? How would you describe the experience of free fall to someone who has never been in space? You can show her video tapes of yourself floating and describe your feelings and thoughts, but that is not the actual experience.
Attempting to bridge the gap, ancient science has developed a language using symbols and artistic images. This language is non-linear and has a vertical axis for its linkage. Paradoxical thinking is the first step toward the higher level. At the end of Through the Looking-glass, when Alice has awakened, she wonders aloud to her kitten who it was that did the dreaming. "You see, Kitty, it must have been either me or the Red King. He was part of my dream, of course--but then I was part of his dream, too!"
The key I have selected from tradition is alchemy, a science now hidden by fable and legend. Alchemy has a Gothic aura; the alchemist, working secretly in the laboratory, changes lead into gold and discovers the elixir of life. The alchemical process centers on the reciprocity between the inner and outer environments. The alchemist through laboratory operations simultaneously reshapes the mindscape. The laboratory operations correspond to analogous mental activities. When the alchemist manipulates the outer environment, the mind goes through intended changes.
Symbols are the keys that open the door to consciousness of paradox. A symbol is like a tree with branches extending in many directions or like a neuron with dendrites spreading out. When a musical chord is played, pitches vibrate and produce a cluster of resonating overtones. The listener hears a multiplicity of sounds that have grown from only a few notes. A symbol has a basic duality, objectivity and subjectivity; simultaneously, it functions as both object and subject. The mind experiences a symbol in both roles. The paradox can be described in another way. When looking at nature, the artist sees many forms as if they were reflected in a mirror. Moving into the imaginative realm, the artist changes focus and becomes aware that actually a single form is reflected in many mirrors.