The Forgotten ‘Third’

There is little doubt that Western infatuation with Eastern spiritual disciplines, ostensibly designed to transcend or extinguish the illusion of the ‘Ego’, has reached an impasse. Instead of offering an alternative way to transforming Western consciousness, these disciplines have been converted into subtle devices for enhancing its insatiable desire for light, power and control. Once again it is as in the old Chinese saying “If the wrong man uses the right means, the right means works in the wrong way.” In effect, it is the Western belief in the right method irrespective of the man who applies it that seems to be responsible for the impasse, because method alone, divorced from the psyche, only breeds the delusion of technical omnipotence.

What has in fact ensued from the artificial transplantation of Eastern values into Western soil is a kind of “spiritual materialism” — using “spiritual activities” in order to bolster and enrich one’s ego. We may call this phenomenon the hydra syndrome: like the mythical Hydra whose cut-off head is always replaced by two others, the adept’s ‘innermost self’, the perennially selfsame and boring ego, aching for transcendence, appears to reemerge, strengthened and solidified, as a direct result of the methodical attempt to cut it down to size. Another word for this sort of uncontrollable growth is hubris, misleadingly translated “pride.” Hubris is from the Greek hubridzo which means “to run riot.” Applied here it denotes that frantic search for new spiritual experiences issuing in “the mania of an ego’s vertigo, endlessly spinning about its own center.” In a larger setting hubris is the flaw of a grotesquely excessive masculinity and rationality.

From Roberts Avens, Imagination is Reality, p. 4-5

About David Smith

One of the guys named Smith who was once a consultant. This is not his first rodeo. Or his second or third.
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