THREE, NOT TWO: Spirit, Body, & Mind in Sacred Activism

Andrew Harvey, through powerful mystical experiences described in The Hope, envisions the confluence of two rivers of fire into a third. The weaving of the Sacred with that of the Activism, of the mystics passion for “God” and the activists passion for “Justice”.

As I read Andrew, “God” and “Justice” are weak labels for complex tapestries of ideas and feelings. The third fire, of “wisdom and love in action”, is a Divine Fire that heals “the tragic split in our modern consciousness between masculine and feminine, body and soul, light and matter, passion and peace, contemplation and outer action“.

Fully aware of our contemporary Crisis-of-Crises, the Death of Humankind (as we know it), Andrew was gifted with a powerful “mystical” experiences informing him of the need for human persons to Awaken and Change, so as to be able to undertake what is needed to midwife the Birth of HUMANITY to emerge from the Death of CIVILIZATION. (Some of this terminology is now mine, nuet’s, and not Andrew’s.)

Through the merging of these two rivers of fire, “the mystics shadow of addiction to being would be healed by the activists focus on doing, and the activists shadow of addiction to doing would be balanced and transformed by the mystic’s surrender to divine wisdom and joy“. BEING and DOING, are in a relationship I would call “complementarity”.

Yet, to me, something is missing in this vision.  I don’t find any mention of HOW this is to happen. HOW are the multitudes to be awakened and HOW, once awakened are they to coordinate their actions?  What will sacred activists actually do? How will humans collaborate in developing a strategy for survival/thrival? Good will and sacred inspiration will not be sufficient. To depend on divine instruction would be to deny humankind the opportunity to create themselves. To me, it is far from sufficient to claim that once awakened humans will automatically know what to do, or even how to learn what to do.

In answer to these queries, I propose that there be three, not two, rivers of fire converging to give rise to the emergent birth of HUMANITY, as a Sacred Societal Butterfly metamorphosing from the Death of the Societal Caterpillar. At the end of The Hope, Andrew cites insect metamorphosis as metaphor for the change he envisions. I propose that metamorphosis be much more than metaphor – but the Sacred Strategy.

In very Earthy metaphors, Andrew’s rivers of Spirit and Body combine with the river of Mind. The Body is the direct actor in doing, eye-brain-muscle action in the “real world”. The Mind I refer to is the slow/conceptual/rational mind, recently acquired by languaging humans, currently adapting to the older, mammalian fast/intuitive/emotional mind. See: Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.

Doing, is a body addiction to stimulus/response behavior. Activists are usually reactive to horrors they witness around them. Activists act to stop suffering and to fix things so there will be no more suffering. Empathy and compassion towards the “enemy/oppressor” and reconciliation with the “victim/oppressed” may be a goal, but HOW it is to be achieved has yet to be discovered.

I offer the 5 decades emergence of nuet’s conceptual schemes labeled UPLIFT and Societal Metamorphosis, as one strategic HOW our collective Minds can design and implement Sacred Projects to coordinate the temporal emergence of Sacred Activism.

——————  Spiritual/Material COMPLEMENTARITY

Larry/nuet is agnostic about an “objective reality” for mystical experience – beyond the “subjective reality” of powerful personal experiences, as significant activity in the body/brain/mind of persons. The awesome wonders of the “complexity sciences”, of the cosmological universe, of the universe deep into quantum states and transitions, and the universe of life, Gaia, & evolution are all resident in the living human. In metaphor, human persons can holographically access much of the Cosmos within. The sacred may be within the patterns, as prayer or meditation processes – by which the whole accesses itself, and its “connections with Cosmos”. I cannot automatically accept the interpretations, by those who have had mystical experiences, give to their experiences – as powerful as I accept their experiences to be.

To over simplify: the “spiritual” and the “material” are both extremes, harboring blindspots. Andrew Harvey fully acknowledges how institutionalization has repeatedly warped organized religion and guru systems. I ask, what are the blindspots of “proper spiritualism” that has permitted this to happen – again and again and again? What are the blindspots of Scientific Reductionism that permits them to ignore the evidence of the “spiritual”.

May it be that both spiritualism and materialism appeal to the logic of language in their arguments, in competition? Do they seek a logical reduction of one to the other, where a perspective of complementarity (like wave/particle complementarity in quantum reality) permits both (but not “classically” at the same moment).

I don’t believe I ever have had a powerful mystical experience. Experiences with LSD, long ago, informed me that what I experience can be radically changed. My reading of other chemically induced altered states of consciousness informs me that the mind/brain has not yet been uniquely defined. When Larry groks nuet it is very moving emotionally and I sense the mysterious and realms beyond beyond. Yet, I have no sense that I am in touch with “ultimates”. I seek no scientific TOE (Theory of Everything) nor seek membership in an eternal community of souls.

Just as the most popular form of science fiction (at least in times past) were imagination limited “space westerns”, so the literary imagination of the spiritualists has been limited to “hierarchies of eternal higher beings”. In space westerns, humans characteristic of our times were magically transported to a far future – totally unchanged – to explore and colonize other planets and engage aliens modeled after Earth monsters. SciFi that attempts to explore changed human nature has not succeed well, although there have been some excellent speculations on minor variations of humans. The SINGULARITY was initially proposed by Vernor Vinge as a proposition that we were unable to speculate our own radical changes. Vinge’s SciFi stories had humans from today time-travel to the future. The “world of spiritual beings” has been, for me, no more imaginative than space westerns. These spiritual beings are as similar to contemporary humans as are the space explorers of SciFi. I acknowledge that, just as all SciFi aren’t Space Westerns, all conceptions of The Spiritual don’t include “beings”.

I don’t exclude the possibility of a massive, rapid, PHASE CHANGE in contemporary humankind. But, we have no evidence of it ever occurring in our past. In a millennium, after UPLIFT and Societal Metamorphosis – looking back – we might call it a massive phase change. I cannot risk the survival/thrival of Humanity/Gaia on a miraculous, Spiritual Awakening of most humans and their sudden, intuitive, collective behavior to do what is needed.

Metamorphosis enables a new perspective on Death and the Dark Night. Uplifting Humankind to Create Humanity via Societal Metamorphosis is both a story/scenario and a viable strategy. At this time, it is primarily a generative seed in the written archives by and in the mind of Larry/nuet. It’s expansion in the next few decades would be as miraculous as any Spiritual Awakening (and might well be accompanied by such an awakening – involving both consciousness change and changing social behavior). In NU GENESIS I speculate on a new myth for humans to “explain” our past trials.

Rebirth is not rising from the ashes. Rebirth doesn’t follow Death, but emerges from within the Dying.  There can be JOY throughout the whole process.  In our growth & development from conception on, new cells result from stem cells and as other cells die, sometimes intentionally and orderly (apoptosis). Death is essential for the ecology of life and evolution. To live, others must die, as food. Today, there are too many humans suffering and dying, unnecessarily – and it is increasing.  UPLIFT will not increase this suffering and dying – and eventually it will lessen it. UPLIFT, or the election of Bernie, will not immediately heal.

Sacred Death?  Chapter 7, “The Death and the Birth” of The Hope, is an exemplar of contrast.  The seven aspects of Death cited are accurate and relevant. The seven aspects of Birth cited are (to me) naive and not nearly comprehensive. Part of the disappointment in the seven aspects of Birth is that they are in context with the hopeful future when the book was written (not materializing) of Barak Obama’s election, Paul Ray’s Cultural Creatives, and Paul Hawken’s Blessed Unrest. Throughout history, humanitarian successes have been later negated. The real progress that can be cited must be contrasted with the more global suffering and threats we now face.

Scientifically and logically we can rank entities only one aspect or dimension at a time. Ranking multi-dimensional entities MUST entail totally subjective biases.  Example, to decide who is bigger, the taller or the heavier person, breaks down at  the place where we must give “statistical weight” to inches vs pounds. Thus, it is invalid and improper to compare the whole of humankind between different dates – although humans try to do it all the time. Stephen Pinker’s argument that there is less violence today is biased by his clever definition of violence. We simply are not permitted to add up the improvements and declines and arrive at a net violence.  This improper practice is one that must be excised from future humanity.  It is an OK practices for a person to use intuition to make choice decisions, at-the-moment; but it is improper to extend this practice to societal decisions.

Seven Aspects of The Death

Environmental devastation.
Population explosion.
The growth of fundamentalism and religion-inspired terrorism.
Nuclear proliferation.
Our technological worldview.
The corporate mindset and the corporate controlled media (and governments).
Our hectic pace of life.

Seven Aspects of The Birth

The crisis itself and the response to it.
Creative technologies.
New forms of democratizing media.
The mystical renaissance.
The evolving philosophy of nonviolence.
The return of the Divine Feminine.
The Divine willing and blessing the Birth of the Divine Human.

——————————-  MY (Larry/nuet’s) CHALLENGE.

Many human persons have had insights so significant as to believe, if spread among others, it would catalyze fundamental change. Andrew Harvey had such hope when he wrote The Hope and established The Olive Branch Center with Chris Saade to promote Second Wave Spirituality.  Ken Wilber, Paul Hawken, Paul H. Ray, MLK — the list could go on and on and on – had insights they deeply believed would make a difference. Each insight catalyzed a movement, that eventually plateaued and became institutionalized. Even those “sacred” initiators of our world religions would admit failure to achieve their visions. What was missing? What is missing? We are at a crisis juncture where we must learn what is missing and make-it-happen.

My search has slowly led me to conclude that it won’t be a few basic new insights, but a way to navigate hundreds to thousands of interacting insights. One of our problems has been that humans are limited to working with about 3 independent factors at a time and have developed ideologies that assume to be based on only a few fundamentals. We have accumulated many insights over the millennia, but none sufficient to catalyze the big changes needed. But, there were changes, major changes, as our histories tell.

In seeming violation of what was just asserted, I cite another ONE factor: our not attending to the distinction between the social and the societal.

A movement begins with the social – real human person-to-person relationships, focused around some basic insights and ideas.  There occurs social organizing and learning. But, in time, the movement grows beyond the social into the societal, but is not prepared for that shift and distinction. Simply put: tribes were social, civilization is dominantly societal.

My insight to this valuable distinction came from a personal experience in 1973. Coming to Tucson unemployed, I found employment with a residential institution for emotionally disturbed teenage boys, initially as a math teacher. The staff and site were small. We met mornings in a F2F meeting and all interaction was F2F. Records were kept for our clients, but all staff interaction was verbal. I became academic director, and established a quality educational system. The Arizona Ranch School was so successful that it was relocated to a new site in the desert of the Tucson Mountains, becoming The Chazen Institute. With an enlarged campus we expanded to include girls. The big change was the use of messages and documents for management and the sharp reduction of F2F meetings. We had shifted from social to societal – and it showed by many failures in our continuing effort to help our clients. In 1974 my employment shifted to faculty at a newly opening campus of Pima Community College where again the distinction between social and societal was clearly evident. In 1975 I had my cascade of insights leading to the conceptual scheme of Societal Metamorphosis and uplift (although that term came much later).

It has become common to view societies (governments, corporations, institutions, etc.) as living systems, because they have living systems as components. Or, we might view societies as mechanistic systems with living systems molded to play roles as mechanistic components. In civilizations and their societal institutions, human persons are more conditioned to perform in mechanistic roles than to exhibit living being agency.  Humans remain living beings and are warped by having to play roles as machines, which leads to internal stress and dysfunction. “Tribal minds lost in the confusion of civilization”

That “social” and “societal” are simple terms/words masks the fact that they label complex conceptual schemes involving many independent variables. So does the term “human” mask an awesome complexity – for which we have made too many false assumptions about who we might want us to be as distinct from who we actually are. Actually, I believe “who we are, potentially” is far more fantastic than “who we want to be”.

In a way my challenge appears unique. In nearly five decades I have been unable to create a movement, let alone carry that movement from social to functional societal. Although many others have valued some of my component insights, no one has been motivated to learn more about UPLIFT or Societal Metamorphosis, let alone offer to help create a movement. Further, I have been unable to discover why this is so.

Must I change direction?  Stop trying to inform others of my system of insights. I have long concluded that “informing” is a weak mode for sharing. I need to research why I am not successful in sharing these key insights. I also need to follow one of my insights: abandon informing and create an educational system. For this I have already formulated features: OLLO, SEAFING, LQE. The paradox is that these cannot be actualized by one person. I need a team to create a team.


What are my blindspots?
Which of my assumptions are not “right”?
What am I missing?
What should I do?

Author: nuet

01/24/1935. BS-physics RPI 1956; MS-physics UofChicago 1958; PhD-physics Yale 1965; PhD-Edu Psy Uof MInnesota 1970. Auroral Research Byrd Station, Antarctica 11/1960-02/1962. MINNEMAST curriculum dev 1964-68. Woodstock. faculty Pima Community College, Tucson 1974-1997. Transdisciplinary scientist, philosopher, educator, futurist, activist. PC user since 1982. "Wife". daughter, 2 grandsons. 5 dogs & 7 cats. Lacks mental imagery in all sensory domains.