Philosophical Points for NL Teachers
May 2019/Edited May 2021
This video/article will be some quick points and pointers for the more intermediate and advanced students of Hermetic philosophy, the Kybalion, the Trivium, and the material on What On Earth Is Happening Podcasts, for those already dedicated to the path of the Great Work, and those who feel called upon to be Natural Law teachers. In the future, I will be breaking down these concepts in explanatory videos, but for now, I will be simply making some critical distinctions to assist anyone in their learning.
As is much of my work, this is a critique on postmodern and new age confusions, misunderstandings, and misconceptions... and especially those misconceptions that stay with us when studying Hermetic Natural Laws, which can create a lot of confusion.
Philosophy vs. Sophistry
If you can't combat sophistry, then your philosophical foundation will disintegrate because your understanding of the Absolute will not be absolute. Behind sophistry is often ego and shadow, not just ignorance, as when sophistry wins, the ego dictates what truth is, rather than is subordinate to it.
Because Natural Law is about the framework and structure of Everything, emanating from the All Itself... it can be confused with “knowing everything.” This is not the case. It is a common misconception that people who understand the basic principles of Natural Law are know-it-alls who claim to know everything.
Of course one can be arrogant when using such knowledge as an ego prop, which is indicative of more inner work to be done, but knowledge should not be necessarily conflated with arrogance. There is a definitive difference between the spirit of arrogance and the spirit of certainty.
Yet, those who truly understand Principles will not seek to be arrogant, even though they will be unyielding in what they know. These Principles are perfect, even though we are not. We are all subject to error, but we can know the Higher without being higher.
When we truly understand higher principles, humility is the correct response, for our imperfections must be measured against the utmost standard of perfection. Any hierarchies we place ourselves on top of will be shown by truth to be made of delusion and ego.
Knowledge and understanding of principles do not mean we have wisdom, but it is where wisdom starts.
True philosophy is pure and perfect because it is based in the Absolute. And this is a paradox of understanding because we can understand the Purity and Perfection of Principle, without being pure and perfect ourselves. Evolutionary movement requires imperfection, while True Ends (Telos) is always perfection; this is paradox. But if we cannot mentally perceive perfection in a philosophical way, then the relative becomes our highest standard, which necessarily devolves into relativism.
Any impurity in our philosophy will ultimately degenerate into relativism and this is what my future critique series will be focusing on. In particular, the work of Ken Wilber is the most advanced work of sophistry I have encountered. I was a prior fan of his work as he introduced to me the idea of objective morality, but because he has no understanding of Natural Law, he states that objective morality only exists to the individuals that have the higher consciousness to perceive it, thus stating it is also relativistic. Post-new age cul-de-sacs are on the rise.
These types of pseudo-holistic ideologies will only become more popular as a replacement to new age sophistry. I feel a calling to the work of sorting these issues out because I have suffered from their mind-viruses and I want to prevent that suffering in others.
Even one percent relativism in one's worldview will lead to relativistic systems of slavery, even an infinitesimally small amount of relativism is still a snake in the garden, for relativism operates on the slippery slope of blurred lines and the so-called indistinguishable or indeterminate.
Philosophy is the basis from which action springs, thus our philosophy is of great importance. When this is understood, then pointing out harm in philosophy is just as much a moral obligation, as defending oneself or others from harm.
Because action comes from mind, if our worldview is incorrect then only incorrect actions can follow. Moral relativism is an offensive ideology: it does create harm and offense in action. Even if it doesn't violate another person's rights directly, it supports the worldview that does. Moral relativism will always rationalize and validate evil to some degree. This is why it is so often correlated to satanism.
Even a drop of moral relativism offers a blindspot to the ego, shadow, and dark side.
Spreading disinformation, even unintentionally, still creates harm.
True philosophy can answer all challenges of sophistry and moral relativism.
For anyone who has listened to the phone calls on WOEIH will know how solid Mark has been at combating arguments of moral relativism—he has been my teacher for this. I want to stress how important the podcasts are, and also stress that the tricks of sophistry will only become more clever.
The sophist is always trying to deconstruct objective morality, trying to find a loophole of Natural law, a place where the polarity, of right and wrong, doesn't apply.
Now, in the initial stages of knowledge, one has to go through these steps of deconstruction, as Natural Law has to be tested and verified before it can be understood. But once understood, Natural Law doesn't budge, for its very definition is being immutable and static.
To be a Hermetic philosopher, one must be able to differentiate between truth and falsehood in a technical way, to tease apart sophistry from true philosophy. I do this impersonally, but many will still take great offense to that.
The Absolute and absolutism
The Absolute is part of True Philosophy, while absolutism is part of false ideology—connected to religious dogma.
While we can know and understand the Absolute, this doesn't make us absolutists, for there is a definitive difference between the two.
Absolutism makes that which is relative or changeable absolute. For example, our understanding of our physical human origins on planet earth will always be speculative, we can never know with certainty what has happened because we do not have direct access to this data. We have instead opinions, intuitions, speculations, and conjectures. This does not mean the study is all lost on us but that we can never make definitive claims about it.
Another example of absolutism is to claim that this plane of reality is the only reality like materialists do. Materialists make the relative absolute. As Hermeticists because we understand the logical existence of infinity, as nothing cannot exist, and because we understand levels of vibration and degrees of being, we can know with certainty that this plane is but one of many. There are many other examples of absolutism, but that should suffice for now.
The Absolute, on the other hand, is context-free. Hermetic/Metaphysical principles (as principles) are context-free and Absolute. When it comes to laws and principles, there are NO exceptions, EVER. Laws and principles are forever-binding.
In the context of Laws, there is no, “this is true, BUT” statements. The context where this statement (this is true, but) applies can be seen in patterns of classification and behavior... when the pattern is not absolute. For example, most apples are green and red, but not all.
From the days of Heraclitus and Parmenides there has been an argument whether the world is Flux or Static and of course the resolution here is found in paradox. Laws and Principles are static, but they operate in the world of Flux. We can know what the laws are, even if we cannot know how they manifest all the time.
The metaphysical structure of the universe is static and cannot be changed. While our understanding takes time, we do not have the liberty to change this knowledge. We are seeking what is objectively true, NOT to arbitrate or put one's subjective take on the deeper truths of reality. Now subjectivity is perfectly fine in other contexts, such as critiquing art, but when it comes to hermetic knowledge the distinction between subjective—meaning applying only to oneself, and objective—meaning applying to all is clear and absolute. We are seeking that which applies to one and all.
Polarity, Gender, and Gradients:
The black and white checkerboard in masonic symbolism represents ignorance to the law of polarity (or law of duality), and the two main types of polarities that fall under are logical and moral polarity consisting of:
In the ignorance of Polarity, we live in confusion and slavery. We participate in evil without knowing it is evil.
Logical polarity is where the Trivium and Hermetic principles intersect, as ultimately metaphysics is the foundation for the Trivium and the grammar of ontological categories.
Discernment is what allows us to distinguish things into categories based on properties so that we can identify what things are with clarity.
The Hermetic Law of Mentalism relates to the Law of Logic, and specifically the Law of Identity: that something is what it is. Extrapolated from this law is the Law of Non-Contradiction and the Law of Excluded Middle. This means that something cannot be other than what is is and that there is no gradient between what it is and what it is not. The distinction is black and white.
Logical polarity is built on metaphysical polarity, which regards being and non-being. Logical polarity regards true/false, propositional polarity: affirmation/negation, and epistemological polarity: ignorance/knowledge. These are all inter-related.
What can be confusing is the fact that the Hermetic Principle of Gender (feminine and masculine) can be seen as a polarity/duality. As a result, there is semantic confusion leading to moral relativism.
We should not treat logical and moral polarity like gender. We find harmony AND and balance in gender, but we find EITHER/OR, mutual exclusivity in polarity. Two contradictory notions cannot both be true; this is why the study of logic is essential to Hermetic philosophy.
Thus, the common statement “it's not binary, it's both” is only correct in the context of gender and false oppositions or dialectics. We don't want to synthesize true and false, good and evil.
The Law of Polarity is not about absolutism or left-brain imbalance. It can be misapplied in which a polarity distinction about something is incorrect, but the principle itself always remains true that there is black and white to reality.
Natural Law and the evolutionary process functions through polarity.
In terms of gradients, there are relative degrees of both sides of a polarity. There is less harm and more harm, and less good to more good, but due to the Law of Excluded Middle, there is no gray in between. If that were the case, we could not clearly differentiate right from wrong.
When people say that reality is more complex than black and white, that there are many gray areas, they fail to understand this Principle of Polarity. There is not one single absolute context of polarity in manifestation, except the Principle Itself—but the principle is context-free as to avoid contradiction here.
Just because near-infinite contexts exist does not however change the law of polarity, or muddy it down.
Because we live in a fractal universe, polarity is paired with multiplicity; yes, there are multiple contexts, but duality exists in every context. Nuance is found in context, not in gray areas.
We have to be careful when we say “things are complex” because complexification is a mind-control method to obscure the simplicity of objective morality. Shadow, and evil hide in the complexity... While there can be near-infinite detail in all things, there is a greater significance to certain contexts in regards to morality, purpose, and meaning.
A common error of postmodernism is the desire to transcend polarity and use infinite contexts as a way of obfuscating polarity—this leads to moral relativism.
For example, general semantics was an attempt to “transcend” Aristotelian thought of is and is-not, by seeing a gradient in between. This is was brilliant sophistry.
However, Polarity remains in the structure of all contexts, as do all natural laws.
In the new age/uninitiated so-called spiritual business communities, moral relativism often peeks its ugly head in the realm of sexuality and sexual relationships. Because power often combines with lust, blurring moral lines in these types of relationships allows for power dynamics to be sustained in sexual relations.
If we say that morality is based on consent and not objective morality then we remove the fact that a person can consent to something that she thinks is good but is actually bad.
For example, a sexual predator may be able to con a woman into bed only to use her, and she will have consented to the act, but this act is still not in harmony with Natural Law. This is not a case of rape, but sexual harm. Harm can exist without the violation of someone's rights. While a person who uses people sexually is not a criminal, he is still a bad person. There does exist consensual harm because harm is objective and not subjective.
By virtue of the existence of manipulation and deceit, which definitely includes self-deception, consent can NEVER be the basis for morality. Harm and no harm go beyond consent as Natural Law is definite about that polarity, even when our understanding of it is not clear.
Take, for instance, the global picture, we all consent to our systems of slavery as a global deception, but slavery remains evil nonetheless. We are still participating in harm.
When it comes to consent, what can be confusing is the area of property rights and self-ownership as those boundaries are made by the owner, as the owner has to assume responsibility and risk of all actions towards his property. This does not, however, make morality subjective, because the transgression of these boundaries is still objective harm. And this does not make whatever the owner decides as objective morality, because the owner may not have proper boundaries based on reason of what to allow or not to allow, and this can only be understood on a case by case basis.
For example, you may be a masochist and desire for someone to punch you, or you may be a weak coward and allow someone to take advantage of you and your possessions. Both are still wrong because harm was done to oneself, even though consent was given. On the other hand, one's boundaries may be too stiff and you may state to the world that no one is ever allowed to give you criticism or unsolicited advice without your permission. The reason that may be harmful is that you may be shutting out critical information being brought to your attention that you do not want to hear.
To have greater alignment with Natural Law means that you are seeking the appropriate boundaries, which means taking all important contexts into consideration. If you have been married for 50 years and you still will not allow your wife to drive your car when hers breaks down, then you are not being reasonable about your property rights. Again, this is very specific to context, but what is not specific to context is that there is still right and wrong.
In the pursuit of moral gray areas, many may believe that harm is unavoidable. To say that harm is unavoidable as a metaphysical axiom or principle is incorrect, for you are stating that harm is a metaphysical necessity, which is what ultimately rationalizes the existence of evil. In metaphysics, we speak of necessities and requirements as to truth itself, not contingent upon the systems of man or conditions we have created. Conditions are always subject to change, metaphysics is not.
For right now today, we do create a lot of unintentional harm, by virtue of, our participation in the control system. Ironically, our conditions are a manifestation of the ideology that harm is unavoidable, which is why this is dangerous when taken as an axiom.
This relates to the pragmatic axiom, "the ends justify the means", that in order to do good things, we have to accept bad things will be done. The basis of government and other relativistic systems is that it is a "necessary evil." This relates to saying that security requires tyranny and peace requires war. The new age is common to say that "good requires evil."
Again, our philosophical understanding should be pure and NOT conflated with our conditions. We live in a world in which our lifestyles and our technology are opposed to nature, but we CAN create a world in harmony with nature and we must leave potentiality open without end, understanding the total absence of harm mentally. Once we muddy the principle of Right-Action, as perpetually mixed actions, then the slippery slope of relativism will come about. Even if perfection is not found in the relative, we must seek the good without the bad ALWAYS, as the correct intention of spirit.
There is a definitive difference between the initiate and the non-intitate in Hermetic philosophy. To the new age community, there is no distinction because the capacity to even perceive this difference has not been developed. Being AWAKE means to understand basic principles. This was explored in Mark's Street-Wise Spirituality: What It Means to Be Awake.
Now, one may assert that there is always a gradient of understanding, but both gradients and definitive thresholds exist. In terms of becoming an initiate, this means that one has climbed the ladder above the checkerboard floor. We do not say that the initiate is between the floor and the ladder perpetually. There is polarity to knowledge.
Now a gradient of understanding exists when we are approaching our understanding of these principles, as we learn them one-by-one and this takes time. A gradient exists afterward, in our refinement of understanding these principles and our application of them in reality.
But in between, there is a point where a threshold of understanding is met, where we can be considered to have ENOUGH understanding to be an initiate and this can be seen in the consistency of our explanations and non-contradictory understanding of occult material. Contradictions are indicative of the lack of understanding.
This threshold can be met because the principles are limited in quantity and finite and can thus be known. You can say there are seven principles at a minimum, even though they can be fleshed out and refined with deeper levels of detail.
The quadrivium, the studies post-Trivium, deal with number and the sufficiency principle, necessary in understanding a particular subject. If this threshold did not exist then we could not know about certain subjects, definitively. Now, meeting this threshold does not mean you know EVERYTHING about the subject, but that you know the essentials to be able to properly contextualize any new data thrown your way.
Yes, learning is a continual process, especially in terms of application and also in terms of self-knowledge, which is the other aspect of Natural Law, that I have left out here in our focus on philosophy. The onion layers never stop peeling; there is always more to grow and improve, but once you understand the principles, you do not have to keep relearning them, you do not have to be in a perpetual state of not really knowing what they are, they can become part of your worldview in a fixed manner. Time, attention, study, and contemplation are REQUIRED.
When we speak of Hermetic principles, we are speaking of the structure of knowledge, NOT all knowledge. No one can ever know everything. Evolution goes beyond this plane and all other planes, so there is NO maximum level of knowledge in the relative.
Knowledge can be near infinitely refined with greater detail, but this doesn't change its basic structure, which can be known definitively. This structure appears finite because it can be grasped by the finite mind, but because Laws structure the infinite, they are infinite as well—this is a spiritual paradox.
As Philosophers, we do not seek to transcend polarity, but to transcend paradox and the false dialectics, and we seek to integrate and balance gender.
The initiate has moved beyond theories, beliefs, and opinions into the realm of absolute knowledge, that is the definitive quality of the initiate, otherwise, the term initiate would no have meaning. The initiate is no longer seduced by relativism and has uncertainty towards knowledge. This does not mean he understands every moral issue in his life. Wisdom is greater than understanding.
To be a NL teacher, there are qualifications, just as with any other subject matter. You are not a teacher by virtue of interest in the subject of Hermetic philosophy, as you must be able to demonstrate understanding in a non-contradictory fashion without confusing ideas.
NL Teachers should NOT be teaching different teachings, because there is only one truth, not many. Yes, there are many paths to the same truth, but not many truths to the same path. It is a critical distinction that differentiates the uninitiate from the initiate. And here I focus on content and not style of presentation. We first have to have knowledge and understanding before we teach.