Intellectual Center

Conscious attention is dependent upon the part of the soul on which it impinges, as shown below:

  • Mechanical part: there is no attention or else attention is wandering. Thoughts, sensations, images, feelings, etc., arise spontaneously in an instinctive, mechanical or automatic way.
  • Emotional part: attraction is attracted to an object, thought, image, etc.
  • Intellectual part: attention is controlled by the will, i.e., directed attention and individual mental effort.

The intellectual soul itself has three parts. In spiritual combat, we try to control which ideas to harbor in our mind. Since such thoughts and images arise spontaneously, or from outside influences, it takes wakefulness and diligence to prevent negative thoughts, feelings, and fantasies from taking hold of our consciousness. Clearly, it is impossible to have directed attention (the intellectual part) and wandering attention (the mechanical part) simultaneously. You may find, too, that it is impossible to hold onto negative emotions when you control your attention.

Obviously, indulging in negative thoughts will have an adverse effect on our inner life. Bad books and, especially in our times, magazines, movies, TV, and other manifestations of popular culture are sources of negative thinking. The political season can really exacerbate negative reactions in people.

You can see that some New Thought ideas about positive thinking do have a sound basis. Actually, much of such teachings have Hermetic sources; they are just incomplete and really don’t explain exactly how to eliminate negative thinking. That is why attention exercises are necessary.

Keeping track of wrongs done against us has really negative consequences. How much of our inner life is dominated and motivated by keeping a mental account book of alleged (or even real) injustices done to us by others? This is why forgiveness is so important. Our memories can often rob our attention by replaying past events for no useful purpose.

Spending too much time in imagination and daydreaming can feed the emotional part of the intellectual center. I realize that such imaginings tend to spontaneously arise, but when they do, they need to be resisted. It is usually quite difficult because paradoxically we get intense pleasure out of our negative images.

Many people, I’m afraid, live mechanically and hence have no possibility of meaningful change or development. They don’t even see the need for it. Conscious will and efforts cannot be taught unless they are desired.

Maurice Nicoll describes the parts of the intellectual center as follows.

Mechanical Part

A mechanical part works almost automatically: it does not require any attention. But because of this it cannot adapt itself to a change of events and continues to work in the way it started, when circumstances have completely changed. In the Intellectual Centre the mechanical part includes in itself all the work of registration of memories, associations, and impressions. This is all that it should do normally—i.e. when other parts do their work. It should never reply to questions addressed to the whole centre, and it should never decide anything, but unfortunately it is always ready to decide and it always replies to all sorts of questions in a narrow and very limited way, in ready-made phrases, in slang expressions, in party-maxims, etc.

The mechanical part may be subdivided into three more parts:

  • Mechanical part: mechanical repetition of some words heard or read. These may include clichés, slogans, partisan propaganda, grammatical mistakes, speech disfluency, and the like.
  • Emotional part: curiosity, inquisitiveness and undirected imagination. This may show up as an interest in the personal lives and activities of movie stars and sports figures, for example. Sex fantasies or Walter Mitty type daydreams are other examples.
  • Intellectual part: shrewdness, craftiness, cautiousness. These are simulations of real intelligence.

Emotional Part

The emotional part of the intellectual includes:

desire to know, desire to understand, satisfaction of knowing, dissatisfaction of not knowing, pleasure of discovery. Work of the emotional part requires full attention, but in this part of the centre attention does not require any effort. It is attracted and kept by the subject itself.

Intellectual Part

The intellectual part of Intellectual Centre includes in itself a capacity for creation, construction, invention and discovery. It cannot work without attention, but the attention in this part of the centre must be controlled and kept there by will and effort

These parts are summarized in the following diagram.

Intellectual Center
Intellectual Part Capacity for creation, construction, invention, discovery.
(works by controlled attention, kept there by effort.)
Emotional Part Desire to know and understand.
Pleasure of discovery.
Moving Part
(apparatus replies to questions, etc.)
Intellectual Part Shrewdness, craftiness, cautiousness.
Emotional part Curiosity, inquisitiveness, undirected imagination.
Moving part Mechanical repetition of words and phrases

The Emotional Center

Traditional psychology is not based on the so-called “scientific method” of experimentation and hypothesis formation. Rather it is based on direct observation of one’s own self. This is the meaning of the maxim “Know Thyself”. It is the essential first step in any path of spiritual development.

In its most basic form, traditional psychology has recognized three souls in living beings:

  • Vegetable Soul or Motor Center. The mechanical, automatic, vital, sensual, and instinctive processes of life reside in this center. All plant, animal, and human life has this soul.
  • Animal Soul or Emotional Center. This is the center of feelings and passions. Animal and human life has an animal soul.
  • Intellectual Soul or Center. This is the center of thinking, judging, evaluating, deciding, and so on. This is unique to human life.

Of course, there is more to this story. Each center has a positive part and a negative part. Moreover, the centers compenetrate each other. For example, there is an intelligence that is part of plant and animal life. And, there are automatic mechanisms in the intellectual center, so that thoughts and images seem to spontaneously arise.

In normal human life, the intellectual center should be dominant and regulate the other two centers. However, in our current state of being, that is not the case. Mechanical and emotional processes will cloud our intellectual judgment.
It is obvious that the world regards the emotional center, and not the intellectual center, as the true center of the human being. Examples are easily found.

For now, we will focus on the emotional center. The positive part of the emotional part are mostly contrived. Clearly, this applies to popular attempts to incite religious emotions. Those unable to experience true religious emotions are really missing out.

Aesthetic emotions are within reach of some. They manage to keep some semblance of High Culture alive. Unfortunately, much contemporary art is geared to excite negative emotions. Note how people pride themselves in eliciting negative reactions from others. Besides art, this is prevalent in political commentary.

Nervous giggling is a mechanical expression and is disturbing in men.

Moral emotions, of the Social Justice Warrior type, may feel good, but they are mostly manifestations of mechanical personal emotions. Justice is the highest natural virtue. It not only requires an objective Conscience, but also an intellectual understanding of what is just.

With all the negativity in the news, popular culture, books, and so on, the negative parts are absorbing a lot of material. If conscious efforts are not made, these parts absorb energies that may be spontaneously discharged in unexpected ways. Instead, you can use this energy to remember yourself. This is the spiritual meaning of handling snakes and drinking poison.

Maurice Nicoll gives us this overview of the emotional center in his Psychological Commentaries:

The mechanical part [of the emotional center] consists of the cheapest kind of ready-made humor and the rough sense of the comic, love of excitement, spectacular shows, pageantry, sentimentality, love of being in a crowd, all kinds of crowd-emotions, and all kinds of lower half-animal emotions unconscious cruelty, selfishness, cowardness, envy, jealously, and so on.

The emotional part may be very different in different people. It may include in itself religious emotion, aesthetic emotion, moral emotion, and may lead to Conscience, but with identification on its negative side it may be something quite different – it may be very cruel, obstinate, and cold, and jealous, only in a less primitive way than the mechanical part.

The intellectual part (with the help of the intellectual parts of the Moving/Instinctive center) includes in itself the power of artistic creation. In cases where the intellectual parts of the Moving/Instinctive Center, which are necessary for the natural manifestation of the creative faculties, are not educated enough or do not correspond to it in their development, it manifests itself in dreams. This explains the beautiful and artistic dreams of otherwise quite inartistic people.

There is plenty of material here to work on for the next few weeks. Work on resisting negative impressions that spontaneously arise. See how you react to what the world considers normal. Be sure you want to change. There is a certain sweetness to the mechanical parts of the emotional center that you may not want to forego.

Emotional Center
Intellectual Part Positive Chief seat of Magnetic Center and Artistic Creation
Emotional Part Positive Religious emotions, aesthetic emotions, moral emotions, may lead to Conscience
  Negative Cruelty, obstinacy, coldness, jealousy
Moving Part Intellectual Part Resultant of small desires, little daily “wills”
  Emotional part Positive
All emotions relating to one’s likes and dislikes. Personal emotions
Jealousy, envy
  Moving part Mechanical expressions of emotions, laughing and crying. Cheap humor.

Heat and Fire: Notes for 25 Aug 2014

The task for the week was to deliberately create an internal friction. Entering the esoteric path requires the non-identification with the personality “from which we should be able to detach ourselves at the price of particularly painful efforts.”  [Vol 1, IV (6)]

In an essay titled “Fragments of an Unknown Teaching” (“Les Fragments d’un Enseignement inconnu”, Mouravieff writes

The immediate goal is to place the disciple between two groups of forces: attraction and repulsion; to thus provoke in him an anxiety and thereby the most intense possible interior battle of affirmations and negations. This friction of specialized language called to produce heat in order to end up lighting a fire. As expressed in Christian doctrine, “the way towards the truth passes through doubts.” Multiplying doubts in the spirit and the heart of the student offers him the chance to break through the preliminary steps more rapidly.

A similar idea is expressed in a discourse addressed to the monks in India that can be found in Volume 1 of the Philokalia. Although it is meant for monks, we who are in the world (but not of it) can still derive benefit. This was intended as an encouragement to move beyond the initial stages. It begins:

The anguish of soul and hardship that you endure are more precious in God’s sight than surpassingly great virtue on the part of someone living in the world. Your deep dejection and despondency, your tears and sighs of distress, the torments of your conscience and your doubts, your feelings of self-condemnation, the sorrow and lamentations of your intellect and heart, your contrition and wretchedness, your gloom and self-abasement — such experiences as these, which frequently overwhelm those cast into the iron furnace of trials and temptations, are far more precious and acceptable to God than any good actions of those living in the world.

The word for today is “Synecdoche”, a figure of speech in which the part represents the whole, e.g., “Hired hand” for the services of the whole man. Become aware of synecdoche in your own life. It may be that a smaller issues is disguising a larger and deeper issue.
Figure 20
The reading is sections 6 and 7 from Chapter VI of Volume One. The task for the week is to meditate on Figure 20, as suggested in the text. In the meantime, you can use the gnosis mailing list or comments to post insights from the meditations during the week if you like.

Exterior man. Exterior man has not even entered on the exoteric path and is living spiritually in the scrubland or outback. I don’t like the translation of “brousse” as wilderness, since wilderness has a different, and more positive, meaning in the Bible. I will reserve any commentary on these sections until after the next meeting.

Meeting Notes for 19 Aug 2014

The task this week is to deliberately place yourself in a situation that you know will be uncomfortable (but NOT dangerous) for you in some way. You can then use that deliberately created internal friction as a trigger for self-awareness. (In lieu of that, you can continue with any previous task.

The point that is being emphasized is that initiation is at this stage concerned with the development of a strong and healthy emotional center, rather than the accumulations of doctrines. For examples, you can refer to this description of initiations as the conquering of the four elements … not that I am suggesting these particular exercises at this time.

Qualifications for Initiation

The reading was from Section (5) of Chapter VI of Book One of Gnosis by Boris Mouravieff. Here we are introduced to two new centers: the higher intellectual center and the higher emotional center. As transcendent, they work perfectly and, unlike the lower centers, are unaffected by the turmoil of everyday life. However, we remain oblivious to their influences for the most part. By regulating and balancing the lower centers, a permanent tie with the higher centers can be established.

Hence, that is the ultimate goal of the various exercises. The exterior man is stuck in the lower centers and believes that reason is the only tool and hence falls into the errors of positivism, materialism, scientism, etc. He fails to see that a change in the level of being is also required. As we have seen, this is a major theme also in Valentin Tomberg, Hermann Keyserling, and Julius Evola.

The higher emotional center issues from the spark of the Son and the higher intellectual center from the spark of the Holy Spirit. The complements Valentin Tomberg’s Meditations on the Tarot. As the soul life becomes balanced and quiet, then it becomes possible for the Holy Spirit to appear and the second birth of initiation.

Mouravieff introduces a new level of pure consciousness above the consciousness of the real I. This is the level of the universal I. Readers can relate this to other Traditions.

Gabriel Derjavine was a Russian poet renowned for his pithy sayings.

I ordered a collection of Mouravieff’s essays in French. If I find anything of interest, I will make it available.

For more information, please see Achieving Gnosis in Practice.

Achieving Gnosis in Practice

Everyone reading Gornahoor is aware of Guenon’s belief that the West lost its Tradition with the dispersion of the Templars. On the other hand, we need to counterbalance that with Tomberg’s claim:

All through the Middle Ages right on down to the present, an unbroken stream of occult tradition has flowed in the West. This occult tradition has branched out and taken many directions yet all show a certain relation to each other. One branch of this tradition, the one pre-eminently characteristic of Western occult tradition, is the occult stream which usually calls itself Templar.

We alluded to this continuing tradition in The Russian Idea. What is occult is by definition hidden, and least it is hidden to those who do not know how to see it. There are two reasons:

  1. It is couched in sometimes obscure symbolism
  2. It requires a corresponding practice to properly understand the symbols

Tomberg explains:

The content of this Templar tradition passed down through time contains both a theory and a practice; but before one comes to the stage of practice, it is necessary to have acquired at least part of the theory. Now access to the theory is not an easy matter, for it is not brought forth openly as a system of thought, but is hidden in a comprehensive symbolic system.

Now the two exemplars that we intend to deal with have indeed made use of “comprehensive symbolic systems”. In the case of Tomberg, there is the Tarot, and Mouravieff has developed, or better, brought to light, a different class of symbols. We have been commenting on Tomberg’s Meditations in a mailing list. Mouravieff’s system, on the other hand, requires knowledge of the exercises corresponding to the text and symbols.

We have decided to inaugurate an online seminar on Boris Mouravieff’s Gnosis. There is no set termination for this, and it may possibly go on for years. This will not be a series of lectures, but rather an organized plan of practical exercises without which the written material is not fully comprehensible. Due to the personal nature of these seminars, membership will have to be limited and restricted.

The goal is for the participants to realize in themselves what has been discussed here in theory. Transcendence will become a real experience. The clearing or emptiness that lies above the turmoil of thoughts, emotions, and sense experiences will be recognized. The maxim that the “subtle rules the dense” will become a reality, not a wish or a hope. A strong and secure I will evolve so that the vagaries of the material conditions of life will have less and less impact on the personal sense of well-being.

Participants may leave at any time. Anyone interested should email me at expressing that interest. I can also make myself available for any questions you may have about this.

There will be no degrees or grades associated with this seminar. Nor will there be an initiation, because in our era, there is now only one initiator.

Where Truth Will Dwell

Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of the Lord, by which the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with the burning heat? But we look for new heavens and a new earth according to his promises, in which justice dwelleth.
~ 2 Peter 3:12-13

In the brief monograph, The Problem of the New Man, published by the Praxis Institute, Boris Mouravieff describes the historical conditions leading up to the issues of today and the necessary solution that will usher in the next Golden Age, ending the current cycle. Mouravieff claims to be revealing the esoteric teachings of the Eastern Churches, which have not been made public until now.

Four moments of the Spirit

He identifies four dominant trends, which we are calling the moments of the Spirit since they are the historical manifestation of a single idea. These are: Philosophy, Religion, Science, and Art.

Philosophy is based on the concept which is both universal as idea and concrete as it is expressed as the judgment of particular states of affairs. This judgment is the unity of subject and object, or essence and existence.
Religion denies that reality can be fully expressed conceptually. For the religious consciousness, the concept and the thing, essence and existence are no longer statically givens, as objects of contemplation. The ethical will connects the ideal to existence, which it actualizes.
Science, the child of nominalism, then reduces the concept to the practical. Bracketing out any reference to the transcendental, it is autonomous with respect to the ethical. The will is replaced with volition, or desire, whose aim is merely practical. Ideas, concepts, and theories are tools to manipulate the world for practical ends.
Art is knowledge of the individual, not the universal concept of philosophy. Its method is intuition, a direct, unmediated, unity. But intuition is real only to the extent to which it is expressed. For intuition, the ethical is the aesthetic.

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