In Darkness Philosophy Will Be Redeemed
After reading my provocative entry on all philosophers being charlatans, a spiritual brother sent me a rebuttal. Nic Benjamin1, whom I affectionately call Saint Nic, has embarked on quite an intense spiritual journey since our paths crossed. He exhibits remarkable discipline, constantly challenging his limits and immersing himself in non-ordinary states of consciousness. In essence, he has witnessed things in the last three years that many never encounter throughout their entire lives.
Considering this, I trust his words whenever they reach me. Since his rebuttal resonated deeply, with his permission, I present it in full:
I don't know how to express this, but I will try – you are the first person I am expressing this to.
There is a glow of pure happiness shining forth in ancient Greek philosophy, beneath all of the interpretations. It is only reachable through one's Reason. This is not the Reason that we've enshrined post-Enlightenment, the reason-ing we've been taught in academia and science, the reason you are pointing to in your essay, which divides and sets against.
It is something else entirely.
When I say pure happiness, I mean what remains after the Fire of unknowing consumes every single idea in one vast conflagration greater than the universe.
In my studies of platonic and neoplatonic philosophy, I experience things in my body and soul. I get glimpses, but already, I know they point to the greatest, most beautiful ?????? in the entire world. There is absolutely nothing else that can compare, because this is Beauty itself, emanating from the source of Beauty itself.
Within ourselves, we can recover the exact – I mean absolutely 1=1 exact – way in which the Greeks perceived the Universe, and it is no more and no less than Heaven, and it is all we have ever truly wanted, want, or will want, and it is only achieved when we have truly lived knowing-nothing, when we have given ourselves completely to the all-consuming Fire of our Reason, consuming our flesh, our sinews, our bones, our marrow, our soul, our mind, our life, our being.
I understand your points, and they are valid in relation to sophistry. I am writing this to you though, because these experiences have completely redeemed Philosophy for me. Philosophy is Truth, and "Truth Beauty, ...and that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."
No one I know seems to see this. Maybe there are some out there. I don't care. I see it. And it is The Greatest.
With love brother,
Saint Nic accurately observes that my critique of "philosophers" is focused on post-Enlightenment thinkers; individuals who philosopher Pierre Hadot calls "artists of reason.” I lack the inclination to argue for or against Nic’s assertion that the Philosophy originating in ancient Greece is the "most beautiful in the entire world." His claim simply resonates as true. I know what he means. I, too, have experienced such Beauty, pure and expansive, with Heaven permeating in every direction.
When I tap into the source of Philosophy and sense its potential, I experience glimpses of this Beauty. The philosophemes, TOEs2, and rhetorical gymnastics of the "philosophers" are mere distractions from the spiritual north star that has been the Reason for everything all along: a full-bodied experience of a beautiful world. Most deeply, men like us just want a beautiful world.
Curious about the source of Philosophy, I recently read Peter Kingsley's book In The Dark Places of Wisdom, where he traces the discipline's origin to Parmenides, a pre-Socratic philosopher known as the father of metaphysics and the inventor of logic. Kingsley argues that knowing Parmenides is knowing the foundation of Western culture.
The source of the Parmenides' Philosophy is more mystical than the reasoning of "philosophers" today. In essence, the practice Kingsley claims is the source of Philosophy is "incubation," lying in complete stillness in secluded chambers, receiving wisdom through dreams and visions. According to Kingsley, this practice was central to the teachings of Parmenides, who influenced many great philosophers proceeding him.
Deriving divine downloads in dark places may seem like a strange source of Philosophy. Yet, this proposal maps well with my most profound insights, which shake me from the stupor of modernity, beautify my world, and give me Reason to be. These insights do not seem to come from me; they definitely do not come from my mind-full reasonings. In my most mystical moments, when my mind is still and my body fully felt, an unknowing-knowingness brings clarity of paths ahead, gifting glimpses of a beautiful world.
If philosophy will be redeemed for those who have given up on it, I suspect the artistry of reasoning will not be enough. It must be fused with different ways of knowing, where souls unfold from dark nights and spiritual north stars light the way.
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Lastly, consider joining the regular fools at Collective Journalling, where we philosophize together in silence.
What is Collective Journalling? This communal practice happens via Zoom and is 90 mins, with check-ins in the chat at the beginning and an opportunity to connect with fellow journalers in breakout rooms at the end. You do not have to stay the whole time. If you are in an antisocial mood, you do not have to interact with anyone, yet you can still enjoy the coffee shop-esque communal vibe. The session concludes with an optional sharing of a passage in the chat. Most of the time is spent in silence together, individually inquiring about what matters most. A lovely group of people has formed around this practice. The practice occurs on weekdays @ 8 AM ET. RSVP link is behind the paywall.