To reconstruct the West, we need a will to be good; this requires some understanding of what good is, and how in a long-term sense it is more beneficial for us to embrace good than the convenient and short-sighted, often referred to as “evil.”
That in turn requires recognizing that what the crowd refers to as “good” is evil and vice-versa, because knowing their own tendency toward evil and venality, they make an ideal of those behaviors in order to avoid criticism for them by those that know better.
This places us in a strange place: we exist in a wasteland where nothing is true and everything is suspect, but are seeking an occult or hidden truth of what is actually real, despite it being right in front of us. We are fighting the mental spam created by the needs and chatter of other human beings.
In addition, we recognize the bias of this time toward the present tense, because it has no future and fears any consequences of its actions. Hence an entire range of thought, from long-term practicality to metaphysics, has been made taboo by the agitation of the herd.
A bias toward the present tense will inevitably favor tangible and material objects over long-term predictions, such as the knowledge of patterns in reality that lead to outcomes far removed from their origins. Present tense recognizes only conditions of objects already existing where their properties determine outcomes, like a match producing fire but not the production of flame itself.
This leads us to questions of cause and effect. What is the cause, the material object or the pattern? Plato says the latter, and he finds support in modern religious thinkers as well:
As Ransom is told in Lewis’s novel, Perelandra, ‘You see only an appearance, small one. You have never seen more than an appearance of anything,’ and he sadly realises, ‘I have lived all my life among shadows and broken images.’
What we think of as tangible and firm objects, being the causes of themselves and having the end goals of themselves, are in fact the least solid part of the process: they are the effect, and the cause is elsewhere, probably in a bigger and more complex formation than that which we think of as physical reality or, at least, immediate physical reality.
Pattern, principle and natural laws — from gravity through human hierarchy — are more solid than the positions we are in now. We are fragile beings, prone to die at any moment or falter as our bodies or souls weaken, but the order of nature prevails over time, more statistically than in the instant. Our tendency is to confuse its momentary abeyance for an exception that proves its invalidity, when inf act the exception proves the rule.
Let us revisit perhaps the most profound thinker the West has produced, Plato, on the nature of reality:
Behold! human beings living in a underground den, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the den; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets.
And do you see, I said, men passing along the wall carrying all sorts of vessels, and statues and figures of animals made of wood and stone and various materials, which appear over the wall? Some of them are talking, others silent.
You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange prisoners.
Like ourselves, I replied; and they see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave?
True, he said; how could they see anything but the shadows if they were never allowed to move their heads?
And of the objects which are being carried in like manner they would only see the shadows?
Yes, he said.
And if they were able to converse with one another, would they not suppose that they were naming what was actually before them?
And suppose further that the prison had an echo which came from the other side, would they not be sure to fancy when one of the passers-by spoke that the voice which they heard came from the passing shadow?
No question, he replied.
To them, I said, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images.
Plato describes the inversion effected by reality here: we confuse what we see for the truth of reality, when in fact we are seeing the effect and the cause requires discovery, like solving a mystery, debugging a computer problem, inventing a new algorithm or tracing a fault in a line. Our minds select the weakest link in the chain, the manifestation or instance, and confuse it with the essence or cause.
With this in mind, we can see the wisdom of German Idealism: all in the world is thought or thought-like, because thought operates on the level of patterns and not pure material this-thing-hit-that-thing style thinking. For the golf ball to hit the distant hole, the swing must be of the right pattern, the ball balanced on the tee, the wind at certain levels, and many other factors in balance. It is not as simple as bashing a ball with a club.
We know from Perennialism that there is an Ur-faith to all religions which believes that there is a cause beyond the immediate material reality; this takes both an agnostic form, in which patterning over time is more important than reality, and a monistic one, where the metaphysical is seen as a layer or level enclosing our material reality and producing its patterns and results. However, in all of these, the sane believe that this is an order based on nihilistic consistency, or logical actions independent of human desires and perceptions, and therefore is not of the primitive superstitious mysticism that blights third world nations.
A European religion will be like that: unconcerned with individuals, patterned in cycles and forces, and based on the idea that information and order are more important than material substrate. It will thus be Idealistic and Traditionalist, but not in the most common forms of these now, which apply modern superstition — either scientism or fundamentalism — to that which is essentially a logical and logically consistent process independent of our human monkey wishes.
The idea that there is a pattern beyond but manifested in the material might be called animism, or the idea that life has a form as a whole, and that this translates into events rather than those events arising linearly from previous events or material properties. Animism is the idea that life itself is alive and that living things are logical in the way thoughts are logical, meaning that they cast about for possible meanings and then choose the best, rather than being “objective” and “rational” in the way of humans approaching real-time decisions as if they were made in a lab.
Because the natural world is seen as sentient, for an animistic thinker significant events don’t ‘just happen’ – like inert billiard balls bouncing-off one another – instead events occur because some entity wants them to occur. For the animist, every significant event is intentional, every significant event has personal implications.
…The problem is that, for a modern adult, recovery of animistic thinking entails undoing the effects of an exceptionally thorough and prolonged process of socialisation that has buried animism under a vast superstructure of repressions. Modern adults cannot necessarily recover their animistic thoughts at will, even temporarily.
Methods used to help in the recovery of animistic modes of thinking have been known since the Romantic era. They essentially involve detachment from the social systems that tend to maintain objectivity and rationality. For example, solitude (away from people), leisure (away from the economy) and unstructured time (as contrasted with technologically-measured time). Direct contact with nature is another classic strategy. Under such conditions of societal detachment there tends to be a spontaneous resurgence of animistic thinking – and those who can achieve detachment, often strive to do so.
In other words, animism is the original condition of humankind and is obscured by the necessity of maintaining a civilization where most people cannot understand it, therefore need to be manipulated (a form of “control”) via carrot-and-stick style judgments. When we escape the modern world, we are able to see the original truth, and this points us not toward momentary adaptations as economic thinking does, but toward eternal paths toward clarity within ourselves, and through that knowledge of prescriptive use of those material truths so that they can serve cosmic or timeless truths (where “truth” means “a more accurate interpretation of reality relative to other human options”).
The main problem with the Christian interpretation of this is that Christianity is based on the Word, which forms a proxy for reality itself, and as a result it is quickly gamed by Crowdists, who turn it into a dualistic faith or one based on two worlds: (1) the physical world we know, and (2) a spiritual world where things are as they actually are, or are perfected. The problem with this is that it naturally creates a bias against reality because it is perceived as the physical world, and if the other world is perfect, then the physical world is wrong, broken or otherwise unimportant. Second, it encourages people to project their desires into this spiritual world because there is no data for how it actually works, so it becomes a manifestation of human intent rather than a reflection of the type of dry logical consistency we see in nature. Christianity takes on a “New Age” interpretation because people see in this “pure” world the idea of ideology, which is that in that world, things operate as they “should” according to human lowest common denominator desires, which reflect weakness more than reason and sensibility.
Animism relies heavily on the same mechanism as Idealism, which is a union between mental state and world, taking the ancient concept of intentionality to a level of ontology, or means of understanding the world:
In medieval logic and philosophy, the Latin word intentio was used for what contemporary philosophers and logicians nowadays call a ‘concept’ or an ‘intension’: something that can be both true of non-mental things and properties—things and properties lying outside the mind—and present to the mind.
Intentionality defines our relationship with reality and provides for us the basis of understanding Idealism. This definition is a complex way of saying that our mental concepts do not necessarily align with what is in the world, and that thoughts can be logically true without being true-in-fact, and that for that reason, our primary quest in philosophy is to figure out which concepts are accurate, which becomes difficult when there is not an external object to which they can relate. In animism, the world operates according to conceptual principles, which means that the mind can discipline itself to find the inner properties of external objects and from that, discover their actual nature as opposed to their merely-intentional or purely conceptual nature.
As a result, the ancient faiths were forms of monism or a belief that no matter what metaphysical layers exist on top of this world, the logical rules derived from this world also applied to those “worlds”:
Vedānta is nominally a school of Indian philosophy, although in reality it is a label for any hermeneutics that attempts to provide a consistent interpretation of the philosophy of the Upaniṣads or, more formally, the canonical summary of the Upaniṣads, Bādarāyaņa’s Brahma Sūtra. Advaita is often translated as “non-dualism” though it literally means “non-secondness.”
…According to Advaita metaphysics, Brahman—the ultimate, transcendent and immanent God of the latter Vedas—appears as the world because of its creative energy (māyā). The world has no separate existence apart from Brahman. The experiencing self (jīva) and the transcendental self of the Universe (ātman) are in reality identical (both are Brahman), though the individual self seems different as space within a container seems different from space as such. These cardinal doctrines are represented in the anonymous verse “brahma satyam jagan mithya; jīvo brahmaiva na aparah” (Brahman is alone True, and this world of plurality is an error; the individual self is not different from Brahman). Plurality is experienced because of error in judgments (mithya) and ignorance (avidya).
Humans break down any faith according to what is convenient for the human mental state, which generally involves that which requires the least discipline of the inner impulses and external behaviors of the self for intangible reasons. People will change in order to make money, make friends or gain social status, but when told they must change in order to be aligned with the order of nature that offers them no tangible reward, they tend to resist this and instead retreat into the world of their own thoughts, thoughts shared with others through language, and physical objects including the management thereof such as economics. This is the human world; it is easy to rely on, and it requires nothing of the individual but participation in nominal events such as jobs, social interaction and shopping.
For these reasons, much as we escape modern institutions because they are tainted with human illusions, the same must be applied to religion. Our goal is to discover the Idealism within Animism and through that, to understand the purpose of religion outside of its external trappings — work hard, be nice to other people, say the magic words — and through that, to rediscover how our inner goodness can find an outlet in religion for understanding the task of life.
In this light, the question is not so much Christianity or Paganism, but how to find in each the parts that fit with our task of spiritual revival in the West. Whichever one we use will eventually return to this original religion because people now have a memory of distrust for organized, formal and written religion. The result of this uncertainty will be a return to the pagan outlook, no matter what religion was chosen, of encoding belief in ritual and custom, not word and law.