See commentary on The Gospel of Philip.
Technology comprises all the skills and
tools developed by humanity for controlling nature and organizing society.
In the West (Europe and America) the age of high technology is considered
the apex of civilization, the fullest expression of common striving. Much
to our dismay, however, civilization turns out to be a precarious venture
that opposes the human-made world, the social order supported by technology,
to the realm of Sacred Nature. This tension defines the baseline of the arch
Beliefs encoded in ancient
myths from the Middle East and elsewhere suggest
that human evolution was boosted by the intervention
of more advanced beings, variously conceived as
gods, divinities and "ancient astronauts." As
the science of genetics moves us toward playing God by manipulating the
ultimate code of life (DNA), humanity is faced with doubts about its
qualifications for such divine status. The scientific technological
imperative insists that what can be done must be done, but this conflicts
with the growing evidence that science, especially when allied with commercial
interests, often acts precipitously and against the well-being of society.
Far from offering the keys to a utopian world, technology proves on a daily
basis to be a PandoraƠs box of mixed blessings. Ultimately,
the beliefs we hold about technology may be as powerful in
determining the future for global society as technological
technomania: term proposed by Gordon
Rattray Taylor (R 235ff.) for the mental aberration exhibited by those
who uncritically accept technology and view it as the single, supreme
directive force in society. Writing in 1972, well before Internet and
Information Age became household words, Taylor observed:
"Modern communications are praised because they bring us so much
information; but an excess of communication confuses, unbalances in
and output, and puts an end to reflection. Today, fee people have
time to absorb all they hear and to incorporate it in their thinking
and feeling. We could probably do with less information, not
more." (R 237)
This caution reflects the advice of King Thames
to the technocrat, Thoth (cited in Themes under Technology).
Taylor concludes: to sacrifice man to mechanism is in my view
pure nihilism. (R 244)
theism: by contrast to deism, which assumes
as little as possible about God, theism is a belief-system that
carries a massive load of assumptions about the single and supreme
creator god. Theism asserts the fourfold belief that
(1) God is a personal entity,
(2) God is worthy of adoration of worship,
(3) God is entirely separate from the world and transcendent to the realm of nature, and
(4) God is nevertheless continually active in the
world and in the personal reality of those who believe in Him.
Summary of Master Themes
The opposition between the natural world and technological society involves
tremendous tension and determines many of the crucial moral dilemmas and
survival-issues of our time. The three overarching themes -- Eternal Conflict,
Origins and Moral Design -- resonate with the structural tension of the baseline
of the arch, and so these themes recur constantly in every situation of
Each component of the arch represents a comprehensive and repeating phase
of experience enacted through a range of specific mythemes through which
human beings identify their personal and collective belief-systems. For
instance, Eden, Paradise and the Golden Age are subsumed in Sacred Nature.
The Fall, the Flood and War in Heaven are subsumed under Eternal Conflict.
The mytheme of sacrifice, considered in two earlier cases in the Guidelines,
appears in the category of Origins, because the sacrifice of the sacred king
(messiah, the anointed one) is a ritualized belief upon which all civilizations
were known to be originally based. But sacrifice is not exclusively restricted
to that category. The meaning of sacrifice also figures within Moral Design and
even Technology. The belief that we must sacrifice the earthƠs natural resources
of the earth to have an adequate standard of living for global society is also an
example of this mytheme.
In short, mythemes are fluid, capable of assuming different profiles relative to
the five components of the arch. In the language of comparative mythology and
depth psychology, the operative mythemes are said to "constellate" human
activities both externally and in the personal psyche. This means that a mytheme
such as sacrifice gathers around itself a specific pattern of enactments
(constellation), rather like a magnet gathers iron filings into a rosette or
figure eight. The overarching themes of metahistory are tools for detecting and
deciphering these patterns. The five components -- Sacred Nature, Eternal Conflict,
Origins, Moral Design, Technology -- are discussed at greater length in individual
pages dedicated to them, elsewhere the metahistory Site.
theogeny: poetic or systematic
description of the emergence
of gods, usually considered as coeval with the origin of
Hindu myth expresses the belief in a steady-state
cosmology in which the life of the gods goes eternally through two
alternating phases of awakening (Days of Brahman) and latency
(Nights of Brahma). The timing of these cycles runs into billions of
years. Hinduism recognizes thousands of gods, permutations from the
primordial trinity of Brahman, Vishnu and Shiva.
In J-C-I religion, god is conceived as the
Supreme Being who preexists the universe and whose origination is
never explained, hence there is no theogony in the Old Testament. In
a poem called Theogony, the Greek poet Hesiod [after 800 BCE]
describes various generations of Greek Gods: primordial,
Titanic, Olympian. Apparently, Greeks believed that these gods
were embodies in the forces of nature and could, in some cases, take on
human guise. The goddess Athena, one of the Olympians, appears
in various human disguises in the Odyssey of Homer. Recent
critical studies indicate that Hesiodic mythology was the written
form of an oral tradition which, in being written down, came to be
spun on a masculine bias. For instance, Hesiod gives Zeus wife or
consort, Metis, but when he conceives a child with her he swallows
the mother so that he alone can give birth to the offspring, the war
goddess Athena who springs from his brow. This exemplifies
patriarchal scripting of a complex mythological tale.
theophany: the appearance of a god or
superhuman entity in tangible form, detectible to the physical
senses. The belief that gods and goddesses could assume human form
was routine in pagan religion. In the Odyssey, the goddess
Athena who champions Odysseus assumes several different forms,
including Mentor, the old sage who advises Odysseus son,
Telemachus. A passage from the Homeric hymn to Demeter is revealing
about the pagan view of theophany:
Ensheathed in a veil of clouds,
withdrew from the company of gods.
Departing from Mount Olympus in the heights
She went in disguise into the cities of men, the grasslands.
For a long time no one saw her or recognized her,
for its hard for gods to be recognized by mortals.
(Boer, 97ff, modified)
These lines script the belief that gods and
goddesses who assume human guise do not necessarily to do so in
order to be recognized by human beings. Pagan theophanies are
paradoxical, for the divinities like Athena who assume human form do
not want to be detected in their simulation. This contrasts with the
central belief of Christianity, that the Son of God who
incarnated in Jesus must be recognized as a human divinity.
Apparently, pagan spirituality did not demand any such recognition
for its gods and may indeed have shied away from it.
The belief that divinities on the human plane
remain mysterious and elusive, playing with appearances, is purely
Asian in provenance. In Hindu myth and theology, Vishnu is the
the god who plays hide and seek with appearances. See Beyond Theology
theurgy Literally, "god-working." Archaic term for
practices of the Mystery cults in which intiates" worked with god,"
i.e., with divine, superhuman forces tha operate in the universe
at large, in nature, and within the human psyche. Mastery of these
forces in all three levels earned the initiate (man or woman) the
title of Trismegistos, "Thrice-Great."
"rising above," but more accurately "going beyond," as in the sense
of the Buddhist invocation, Gate Gate Paragate, Parasamgate: "Going,
going, going beyond, going beyond the beyond."
One of the most important insights of metahistory is the
religion-science collusion: how a great deal that Eurocentric
Christian religion established up until the Enlightenment supports
and complements the rise of scientific materialism after the Enlightenment.
The notion of transcendence figures strongly in this nexus. Thus
technological futurist George Gilder declares, "The central event
of the twentieth century is the overthrow of matter... The powers
of mind are everywhere ascendent over the brute force of things."
And Eric Davis comments: "This technological dualism is most starkly
reflected in the world economy's myopic and cavalier relationship
toward the biosphere itself, the material matrix of trees, water,
wetlands, critters, and toxins within which our bodies remain inextricably
embedded." (TechGnosis, p. 115-6. Citing Gilder in Virtual Worlds,
Penguin, London, 1992.)
The transcendence of the body proposed by Christian ideologues
like Saint Paul is fulfilled, not refuted, by the latest technological
fantasies of humans uploading their consciousness into cyberspace
and attaining immortality in the grey goo beyond.
truth By one definition (favored by Gnostic initiates),
realization of the organic nature of perception.
Essential taching of Asian philosophy, proposing the distinction
between conventional truth and ultimate truth, (in Sanskirt,
samvrittasatya and paramarthasatya).In Ch'an, Zen, and
Mahayana taditions, the doctrine of the Two Truths is often closely associated
with non-attainment teachings.
In Dzogchen, it is more closely related to self-liberation teachings.
I propose the distinction between the truth, which
is relative and conventional, and truth without the the, which
is ultimate. We can know the truth about, say, dental decay,
given that we understand and analyze all the conditions pertaining
to that subject, but we can only know truth outside of whatever
conditions our realization of it. The truth is particular to certain
conditions, but truth is beyond conditions and conditioning.
human beings, we all embody truth. What is truth for our individual
lives, lives in us at every moment, but we do not automatically
realize the presence of truth (not the truth) in an immediate,
lucid way. This is what Zen teaching means when it asserts that
enlightenment is the realization that you are already enlightened.
See also veracity.