Ep. 17 - Awakening from the Meaning Crisis - Gnosis and Existential Inertia



my notes

  • Contributions meaning and wisdom from Christianity.
  • Jesus: exemplification his participatory knowing in God’s Agapic creativity, for-giving personhood to others.
  • John: God is Agape.
  • Paul’s radical personalization of this. Metanoia of his own transformation. Carried with it dark side where elements of his identity get projected into history. Reflects his own inner conflict. Gnosis/participatory knowing bound up with how our agency can be fractured, be at war with ourselves -> suffer
  • Agency can be undermined. Central idea Gnostics.
  • More a way of thinking like existentialism. Way of orienting oneself. Not belonging to a particular community.
  • Sense of inner conflict. Losing agency. All made central to this movement.


  • Lot of conspiracy theories about them.
  • Important because they are the axial revolution within the axial revolution. Bring it to its rational culmination.
  • worldview: when you have a deeply integrated way of seeing yourself and the arena - integrated. Dynamically coupled. Bidirectional modelling. Mutual conformity. Reciprocal revelation.
  • Happened to him: reading philosopher, then come to follow the arguments, and inferences, even come to believe some of the conclusions. Lot of beliefs. Then something else happens sometimes: like a change. Go from seeing what spinoza saying to seeing things the way Spinoza says

( I see this as the difference between understanding and grasping)

  • See the world spinozistically. Lens by which seeing the world and myself. Now living the world as if Spinoza was an adverb. Perspective what it is like to see the world the way spinoza does. Advent of the viability.

(I think this is how I see the world in my #USvsTHEM paradigm.)

  • Livability of worldview.

( He’s not talking about metaphysical worldview. More agent/arena I think).

  • Difference between believing things and it being a live option.
  • Agent/arena relationship conformed to what Spinoza had, not just what he said. Who and what he was, become available to him.
  • Viability: able to enter into particular agent/arena configuration helps take the next step forward.
  • Sensibility Transcendence:
    • John Wright
    • Based on Iris Murdoch: The Sovereignty of the Good
    • Trying to get to the viability of morality.
    • Pay attention in such a way such that we do the good. Salience landscape.
    • Ex: mother in law: son married to woman. Doesn’t like her. Coarse. Loud. Beneath her son. At some point, insight. Not a normal insight. Bidirectional insight. Reframing how she sees the world and herself. Participatory change. Agent/arena co-changed together. Not a reframing: Transframing . Transformation of whole framing process.
    • See her not as coarse - but spontaneous. Not uncouth but sincere. Simultaneously realizing that the way she has framed things habitually has been wrong. Systematic insight.
    • Whole system of errors transforming.
    • Sensibility transcendence: daughter in law can be someone she could be before, and mother in law becoming someone wasn’t before.
    • Both things going through transcendence.
    • Go through a process like this and enter into a worldview.
  • Now think of the opposite: Inability to enter into or make viable to yourself a new way of being.

6:10 - The Unthinkable

  • Unthinkable: although can make thoughts, images, propositions, run inferences, can’t make it viable.
  • Can’t go through the sensibility transcendence that would bring you into living that worldview.
  • Ex: Son lives with him while building his carrier. Can think I should kick him out. But can’t make this a viable alternative to me. Love for son doesn’t mean can’t run thoughts, but can’t bring myself to live in that world.

( Hmm, this is interesting. Something to play around with)

  • Not viable, unlivable to me. Good thing. Doing that think of kicking him out is not viable to me.
  • But can be twisted. Negative of it: What if you’re stuck. Stuck in a worldview don’t want to be in. But you can’t go through the sensibility transcendence that make that worldview viable to you.
  • Can go through all the thoughts, inferences, affirmations, logic. Won’t get you there. You’re stuck. Can’t go through that change. Existential inertia .

(This state I know well!)

  • Therapy for this reason: can state who want to be and what kind of world want to be in. Can deeply want to be there, but don’t get there. Stay stuck.
  • Ex: want to stop getting in bad relationships, can see myself, but can’t get there. Every time try to get there, end up back here again.
  • Don’t know how to bring about sensibility transcendence to make that world viable to me.
  • How do I stop suffering?
  • Can lose agency (that’s what suffering means) losing any sense of how to get to that other worldview, self. Radical existential inertia.
  • Jung: primary thing people try to get to in therapy is because feel stuck.
  • Don’t have the participatory perspective of knowing. They don’t know how to get there.
  • Therapy has an agapic aspect to it. Affording the transformation.
  • L.A. Paul: Transformative Experience: way in which these TEs render us stupified, they have us confront an existential ignorance.
  • Ex: someone offers to taste a new fruit: can say so unlike anything ever tasted: love it or hate it. Don’t know which going to have until bite the fruit. So do you bite it?
  • May say nothing significantly at risk if eat the fruit. But shows there is a type of knowing based on state of being. No way of knowing beforehand.
  • Epistemic transformation.
  • But sometimes something deeper - agent arena radically changed.
  • Transformative experience: undergo that change in perspective off knowing and that change in participatory knowing
  • Thought experiment: imagine friends reveal a secret, evidence that they can turn you into a vampire. Do you do it? Can’t make inferences about this. Don’t know what it’s like to be a vampire, or who going to be. Face: I don’t know what I’m going to lose. Once go through the change, will have lost a way of being, will be unthinkable to me. But also don’t know what I’m missing. So don ’t know what going to lose or what missing. Can’t do the calculations.
  • Can’t reason way through it. Everything at risk. Agent and arena at risk.
  • You confront these at multiple times.
  • Ex: should you have a child? same. Should I enter into romantic relationship with them. Don’t know who you’re going to be until on the other side.
  • We face irreversible change. No way to reason our way through it.
  • Going from child to adult: don’t know what going to lose when become an adult, also don’t know what missing when become an adult.
  • People face so many difficulties because of this
  • Can be stupefied as face the need for radical transformation.
  • Don’t know how to transform, also don’t know if they should.
  • Aspect disguise: very thing trying to change, is the very thing don’t want to let go of.
  • Same thing have negative and positive aspects
  • inertia, indecision, then existentially trapped.
  • Modal confusion, parasitic processing.

37:30 - How do you get out?

  • Considering if to have a child: some get a pet. Do bizarre behaviour with dog. Take pictures, give bed and toys. Doing something that’s kind of like having a child
  • Should go into romantic relationship: suggestion go on a trip with them.
  • Role playing games. Bleeds : line between the game and the reality bleeds, so can play with the possibilities.
  • People engage in play. Puts in between
  • Play is not a frivolous thing. Play can be fun, but it’s not the only thing.
  • Tai chi: play tai chi.
  • Enactive Analogy : takes a lot of skill. Can feel it, start to get participatory knowing but can pull out if need to. Has to be relatively similar to world want to go to and the world I am in.

(I used to many years ago on a forum I was on suggest an exercise where each side switched and played the role of the other side, trying to make the best case for the other side’s argument. I guess I still do this today by my effort to put myself in the shoes of the other person. And there is a transformative effect, I become that other person to an extent. I can see the world from their eyes. Though important caveat: I can think I see the world from their eyes, I may be mistaken. But it’s not my perspective at least)

  • Real martial arts: also path of wisdom.
  • Jeep form.
  • Try to find an apt metaphor that can play with: ah, that’s what it would be like, but I still know who I am. Can feel the two together.
  • We have to recover play
  • One of the important things that religion was is play.

( Ok, I just got it. This whole thing has been about the value of ritual. That a big part of what ritual is is this play aspect of seeking participatory knowing. Really interesting. Another practical benefit of religion. What religion is “doing” apart from the theological. This series is a must watch for anti-theists. This will have to be the topic of a video on my upcoming YouTube channel).

  • Serious playing: put themselves in a liminal play: normal world and the sacred world they want to dwell in. See how if they want to go through the change that religion is demanding and affording.
  • To make a world-view viable to me have to go through this self-world sensibility transcendence.
  • This is Anagoge : to set things up so that as this is transcending, getting in contact with what is real, affords me transforming.
  • Need inactive analogy, also enacting Anagoge:
  • Religious ritual used to do for us was a way of playing with enactive analogies, so can compare, so can overcome the ignorance. I can see/be these two worlds (grasp)
  • Giving the skills to know HOW to get unstuck, how to go through sensibility transcendence.
  • Pretend mom there, talking to her: play but not fun. That’s how get out of being existentially trapped. Ritual behaviour
  • He does Tai Chi; enactive analogy: enact what it would be like to be in a fight sittuation, but also anagogic, radically transforming, how experiencing myself and the world
  • Two eyes: how I look at myself and the world
  • Ritual = serious play
  • Hungry for ways of dealing with being existentially trapped
  • Close to saying what Gnosis is.

51m - Gnosis

  • Trying to bring about an altered state of consciousness:

    • Flow state
    • Possibility of higher state of consciousness
    • Mystical experience that’s transformative
    • Setting it in a ritual context
    • Viewing an enactive analogy and serious play
    • Enactive anagoge
  • This is why psychedelics can improve therapy so much

  • To get free from existential entrapment

  • Gnosis: is to have a set of psycho-technologies that create a ritual contex t - like Jeep form- like martial arts, like therapy, t hat allows us to overcome the existentially stuck/stupified. Powered by altered state of consciousness, induced by chanting, sleep deprivation psychedelics.

  • Gnosis frees me from being existentially trapped.

  • Sense of a greater reality we want to live in. Heals us from fractured suffering, fragmented agency, our broken world

  • Next time: how gnosis taken up in a movement same time as Christianity