In humanity’s search for meaning, what if we’ve overlooked a single, universal, ubiquitous and unequivocal truth staring us all in the face all this time? Not meaning as such…a method. And not just any method, but the Analogous Ultimate Methodology at the heart of countless phenomena expressed in countless ways and in every conceivable aspect of human life: from our biology and mythology to society and technology…but most critically to human psychology and the myriad traditions, teachings, symbols and allegories which are, of course, expressions of ‘the AUM of psychology.’ If Marshal McLuhan was right and “the medium is the message,” is it possible that in our exploration of the AUM of life we will discover that the method is the meaning?
Let us embark, dear reader, on a heroic journey. Much has been written about Joseph Campbell and The Monomyth of The Hero’s Journey. There is precious little we can contribute to the immense cataloguing of human narratives, mythologies, traditions, folklore, fairy tales and scriptures compiled by Campbell during his lifetime and countless others since his passing in 1987. What we will do, however, is expand the analysis beyond mere story-telling and culture. As powerful and meaningful as Campbell’s work was (and remains to this day), it failed to have the intended impact on the broader populace and in other fields of study—particularly psychology, the sciences, and society as a whole. Yes, it had a profound impact on George Lucas and arguably gave us Star Wars, but fandom notwithstanding, as a modern mythology, it too has fallen somewhat flat in terms of moving the collective consciousness of humanity in a truly positive direction. For more on that, read our blog article Star Wars: The Last Jedi or The Last Logi?
In that sense we are expanding the scope of the Hero’s Journey beyond mere story or myth. Of course, Campbell also attempted to do so: by rightly associating myth and stories with our own lives and psychology. But the hyper-intellectual, materialist, literal, and dogmatic minds of “hard science” find any discussion of allegorical storytelling quaint at best. They demand something more concrete, more tangible, more directly relatable to their field of study than some literary trope. And perhaps for the first time in the history of this humanity, we are able to give them exactly that: an Analogous Ultimate Methodology which can be mapped onto practically every phenomenon of the human condition.
To begin, let us define what we mean by ‘methodology.’ A method is a process. It is the means by which some outcome is achieved. It is the how any given phenomenon functions, operates and/or comes into being. The implication of the word ‘ultimate’ is just that: the ultimate process; the process of all processes; and, we daresay, how All Phenomena and The Universe itself comes into Being. If we comprehend that “coming into being” simply means how it got here, then another way to express it is evolution—the process by which the current state of being came to be. A method is also by definition a series of causes and effects, building one on top of another in succession; a progression. The word word process is thus analogous to progress, even if the process is destructive. Any state of being which differs from a previous state, whether evolving or devolving is still a progression. Progress is a matter of objective fact; not subjective judgment. Death and destruction are as much an aspect of life as birth and construction. Evolution and devolution are both necessary aspects of the progress of the universe and the Ultimate Coming into Being…the Ultimate Methodology.
So, what about the word ‘analogous?’ Why not simply ‘Ultimate Methodology’? Nothing can actually be the Ultimate Methodology. All things are merely analogs of it; expressions of it; representations of it; and applications of it…we could say manifestations of it. Put another way, a process does not strictly exist in and of itself. Causes and effects are entangled with their subjects and objects. Theoretically, a process can exist in the abstract absolute, but without some kind of input, activity, and outcome—whatever that outcome may be—it remains idle; purposeless, pointless, and meaningless. When the methodology is brought into activity through some application of it, its meaning and purpose likewise springs into life. And yet, that application is just an application, it is not the actual process. It employs the process, can be seen as the living embodiment of the Ultimate Methodology, but is not the Ultimate Methodology itself in the purest sense. Thus, it is only an analogy.
“The Tao that can be described is not the real Tao.” – Lao Tzu
Any description of the Ultimate Methodology is not the actual Ultimate Methodology, it is just an analogy of it. Yet, all analogies of the Ultimate Methodology embody its essence; and, through our holistic experience of the analogy, we can come to know the Ultimate Methodology directly, consciously, experientially, even if we can never find the words to do it justice. It is as true for AUM as it is for TAO and IAO and LOVE and even INRI.
There is another reason for using the word analog, and that relates to its relationship to digital, particularly as it applies to music. In recent years there has been a real revival in vinyl records due precisely to the fact that digital music is not analogous to the original recording. Compression removes information—that which we supposedly ‘cannot hear.’ Similarly, digital photography eliminates frequencies which we allegedly cannot see. Thinking is digital: an idea, position or belief can only exist at the exclusion of all others. Facts are invariably and inevitably removed in favor of some limited definition. In fact, that is the very meaning of the word definition: to define something is to strip away the ‘superfluous,’ the ‘unnecessary,’ and the ‘irrelevant.’ The result is something which is ‘sharper, cleaner, more precise.’ And of course, performed mentally the result is indeed often technically more exact. But it is often far less rich. As with all digital phenomena, there is something lost in the process. What’s lost is the richness, the depth, the scope, the fleshed-out wholeness, the warmth, the soul. As before, we turn to one of the best analogies ever given which vividly and with humour describes the devolution and degeneration of an analog expression providing some limited experiential comprehension of the reality of a phenomenon (shell shock) into a stripped-down digital expression which is technically more descriptive but produces a far more limited intellectual understanding of the very same phenomenon (PTSD).
The AUM of LIFe – Biology and Psychology
In theory, the best way to comprehend AUM is to explore one of its most crucial and important expressions—psychology—in an experiential way. That is the very purpose and function of all stories, theatre, scripture, folklore, ritual, fairy tales, and myths. Joseph Campbell clearly spelled out how cultural narrative traditions the world over encapsulate and dramatize The Hero’s Journey in their own unique way. Whenever we reflect on stories—particularly our own stories—we have the potential of gaining deep insight into our own psychology; our own condition (since all stories are about some aspect of the human condition).
We say ‘in theory’ because it was once the case IN PRACTICE that the best way to explore the AUM of psychology was through stories, which is the reason Joseph Campbell faced such a monumental work documenting and distilling the world’s myths, traditions, religions, et al. However, these days stories are far less impactful as they once were. As we have already pointed out, even when Joseph Campbell spelled out for people the deep significance and far-reaching implications of the Monomyth of the Hero’s Journey, the world seemed relatively unimpressed and unmoved by the essential universal Truth buried beneath hordes of precious stories deep in the heart of the mountain of our narrative history—symbolized by the Arkenstone in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. The Ark is perfect knowledge and power—the embodiment of the cultural history and heritage of the dwarves—condensed and preserved but essential and whole, honed over millennia, like a brilliant diamond. It is the most precious of all treasures.
But these days such ‘flights of fancy’ and ‘delusions of grandeur’ are lost on the masses, the intellectual elites, and pragmatic materialist literalists alike. People today read stories and watch movies solely for entertainment—for distraction from reality—or to reinforce their own political and social worldview—to feed their delusions of reality—but very rarely to deepen their experiential knowledge of the essential Truths of reality. Even many self-styled spiritual seekers self-righteously cling to “their truth,” and condemn anyone suggesting that they might instead pursue the actual Truth. Ironically, this is very similar to what takes place in both institutional science and religion, where those invested in beliefs held dogmatically for centuries ignore, scorn, ridicule, and/or dismiss the evidence, their own intuition, their experience, and many objective facts.
Cognitive dissonance is rife these days. And we are under no illusions: spelling out AUM for them is not going to make a difference to most. Still, we have to try. And to do so we will not use a story, or mythology, or religion, or any such literary device. As you might expect, dear reader, we are going to employ a secular and unambiguous analogy… the human immune system.
We cannot make it much clearer than that, although to be fair some additional explanation may help smooth over some potential wrinkles for those suffering from excessive over-thinking. We will cover them in order of steps, below. And, to help illustrate the ubiquity and provide another lexicon with which to describe the AUM of life, we will turn to technology and the phenomenon of cyber-security (specifically anti-maleware, also called anti-virus), for while it was not directly modeled after the human immune system, it remarkably follows precisely the same steps.
Step One: Mindfulness (Dis-ease; system monitoring & scanning)
Clearly, mindfulness is not a disease. Dis-ease, as in pain, discomfort, suffering, etc. is there in part to raise awareness of an infection, a problem, a malfunction in the body. Likewise, psychological suffering, discomfort, dis-ease is there to raise our awareness…quite literally. Thus, mindfulness refers directly to the act of being aware of our internal psychological state. Unfortunately, mindfulness is often taught erroneously and incorrectly to mean awareness of our surroundings. Yes, it is also that; but that is only half of the equation! Mindfulness is awareness of our relationship to our surroundings and circumstances—our internal state in response to our experience. After all, our own consciousness and inner psychology is what creates and filters our experience of reality. Mindfulness not only makes us aware of the activity in our three brains and five centres (thoughts, emotions and instincts, actions and sensations) but also helps us discern between automatic mechanical reactions versus intuitive conscious responses to our circumstances. Put another way, mindfulness is analogous to system-monitoring and scanning as performed by computer anti-maleware programs. Please understand, dear reader, that without such monitoring of ourselves, our heart-minds, as with our bodies and computers, can go infected for years without our awareness or knowledge. This step cannot be skipped or ignored, and it does not happen automatically in our mind. Like our computer, it must be done ACTIVELY. Although, as mentioned before, symptoms of pain, discomfort and suffering are there to help raise our awareness of psychological infections/cancers/antigens (egos: psychological aggregates, sins, nafs, demons, or by whatever name). But the vast majority of egos, like maleware, are expertly devised to disguise themselves as harmless and/or useful and/or embed themselves in positive/attractive thoughts, feelings, sensations (like trojans). So it takes much more than mere mindfulness…self-scanning and monitoring of our psychology is only step one.
Step Two: Diagnosis (Detection; Threat Detection)
Once awareness of a threat has been established, the next step is to diagnose the nature of the threat. In immunological terms, that involves determining the nature of the antigen: toxin, fungus, other parasite, macrophage, bacteria, virus, cancer? Similarly, in computer security, it’s determining the nature or signature of the malicious code: adware, spyware, virus, worm, trojan, rootkit, backdoors, keyloggers, rogue security software, ransomware, browser hijacker? (List source and explanation of each type can be found here: http://www.malwaretruth.com/the-list-of-malware-types/ ). Psychologically speaking, our goal is to diagnose the nature of the underlying causes responsible for the problematic effects in our three brains and five centers; that is, we are seeking the nature of the causes of suffering, ego(s): fear, anger, greed, pride, lust, gluttony, laziness, envy, et al. However, just like with antigens, pathogens, cancers and maleware, it is not simply a matter of general diagnosis. The immune system cannot react to a viral infection like a doctor might: by prescribing a cocktail of antiviral drugs hoping one will work. Just as in a successful immunological response or cyber-security intervention, we need a detailed analysis of the identified ego(s).
Step Three: Analysis (Inflammation; Identification of Maleware and Infected Systems)
Another way to say this is, we need to engage the problematic entities responsible for our suffering and dysfunction, in the same way that the immune system mobs the antigen with cells (inflammation) or anti-virus performs a thorough analysis and cross-references its findings with a database of known signatures. In our case, we want to perform a holistic analog analysis in retrospection meditation. This is not a process of thinking. We are not trying to work out the answer for ourselves. It is not a process of “could be this, might be that, can’t be the other.” We should already know in general what ego(s) we are dealing with (at least on the surface: for instance, facing depression, we may believe we are dealing with something we call “sadness”). What we want to do is to relax and allow our conscious creative imagination to deal with THE FACTS. We’re not talking about fantasizing, here. No. By ‘creative imagination’ we mean re-creating the events of our lives through visualization and retrospection. That is a creative process, in the same way genuine investigative journalism and documentary filmmaking is a creative process—ideally objective. The point is we want to remove, as much as possible, the subjective influence of our “I’s,” characterized by the ceaseless cacophony of thoughts, emotions, and sensations running through our psychology (for obvious reasons…would you trust the fox to guard the henhouse? Then why would you believe what the three brains tell you about your egos, when the products of your thinking mind, sentimental heart and sensual body are precisely created by the egos you are trying to comprehend?) What we want is to relax and allow these INFERIOR centers of our human machine to settle down, making room for the SUPERIOR centers of our heart-mind to reach us with objective knowledge of ourselves in the form of insight, intuition, revelation, even ecstasy (Samadhi). Makes sense: while our consciousness is being hypnotized by the psychological aggregates of our subjective selves, we will be hard pressed to receive guidance from our objective Self. So retrospection through visualization and contemplation in meditation is the key to processing our observed reactions to experiences—within and without—so that we may get to the bottom of the ego(s) at play who were responsible for our actions, reactions, etc.
Step Four: Synthesis (Mobilization)
With great patience and much self-analysis as described in the previous step, we will achieve comprehension of the ego(s) which have been troubling us. That is, we will KNOW, by virtue of insight, intuition, revelation, or what seasoned meditators sometimes refer to as “a flash of lightning in the dark of night,” how it is that the ego(s) in question cause us and others suffering. The resulting knowledge will be a comprehensive and holistic synthesis of all relevant and irrelevant aspects of the phenomena we were studying—in this case, our own ego(s). In other words, the resulting knowledge will be analog: rich, warm, pregnant with meaning and profound in significance. You will know when you’ve achieved comprehension by how it feels: expansive, not reductive; complete, not watered down, isolated, arbitrary, or contrived. It will not be a case of thinking you know, or believing you know; it will be a case of knowing you know. It will carry with it a sense of fulfillment which no amount of book learning can ever match. A single moment of comprehension will overshadow ten thousand hours of intellectual studying. Experiential knowledge of this kind is actionable in the same way practising the piano results in being able to play the piano better, whereas no amount of time spent reading books about music will produce a musician. In immunology and cyber security, the analogous process is mobilization: unleashing the appropriate forces necessary to deal with the antigen. These may be antibodies and T-Cells in the immune system, and their analogous counterparts in the world of anti-maleware. The point is, such mobilization is only possible due to a high degree of confidence in the knowledge of the threat and how it is wreaking havoc in the body and/or the computer system. With a comprehensive knowledge of the nature of the threat, forces can be mobilized to execute the next step in AUM.
Step Five: Catharsis (Destruction; neutralization)
The removal of the threat is the goal of both the immune system and anti-maleware programs. Neutralizing the destructive capabilities of the antigen/malicious code will allow the system to begin repairing what damage has been done. In terms of our psychology, there is another perspective to consider: egos exist for a reason. Once that purpose has been fulfilled, they are no longer needed. If in the process of analysing and comprehending some ego we achieve new knowledge of how it causes us and others suffering, then it can be said “we have learned our lesson” from said ego. It is no longer necessary. In an immunological sense, once the body has developed a suitable defense against an antigen—i.e. antibodies—the antigen is no longer required, the body has developed immunity. In other words, what does not kill us makes us stronger. And herein lies the very truth, nature and purpose of egos themselves…to be comprehended and eliminated…to teach us about ourselves; to teach us the lessons we need to learn. Now, the lessons we learn from comprehending our egos does not give us immunity—we can still always fall into error—but comprehending and eliminating egos does give us a little more liberty—beginning with freedom from the negative influences of the egos themselves as they are eliminated, one by one. As for the mechanism by which egos are eliminated, it is simple: being metaphysical phenomena, egos can only be dissolved by the metaphysical sexual force: sexual energy, known as chi, prana, and most reverently as our Individual Divine Mother Devi Kundalini Shakti. However, since we promised a secular analogy, now is not the time for expounding on esotericism. Suffice it to say, AUM always includes the means to achieve redemption, and it is no different in our psychology.
Step Six: Liberation (Elimination)
In the physical and technological world, destruction of a pathogen must be followed up by elimination of both it and its harmful effects. So elimination is a two-pronged process which includes physical removal of the antigen and/or its remnants as well as repairing the damage it caused. Just think about a boil or a cyst forming around an infection, then popping or draining said boil/cyst. Only then does the body begin healing itself. Psychologically speaking, the process is analogous but reversed. From its perspective, the ego’s purpose—like a bacteria, virus, cancerous cell, or other parasite—is to steal resources and replicate itself. The resources our egos covet, steal and horde are consciousness and sexual energy. Elimination, therefore, is liberation. Instead of popping a boil to expel the infection, egos are “popped” to release the consciousness bottled up inside of them. Physically, antigens infect cells to reproduce. Metaphysically, egos envelope consciousness to reproduce. Believe it or not, this may actually be the underlying source of the compulsion we feel to pop pimples, boils, even bubble wrap. In a very miniscule way, the feeling of satisfaction we get from popping things is not only analogous but even mimics somewhat the experience of comprehension and liberation from egos. Both popping a boil and comprehending an ego is beneficial insofar as it involves “liberation from infection.” Again, psychologically it is the consciousness which is liberated. In both instances our reward center is stimulated, and a deep feeling of satisfaction is felt, as if “all is well.” This is not by accident, for liberation/elimination is related to “the return home” and precisely intended to help improve our state of being.
Step Seven: Gnosis (Immunity; Equilibrium)
It really should come as no surprise that the end goal of the immune system and cyber-security is to return systems to a state of equilibrium. And yes, we know quite well that not all operations of the immune system result in immunity. That said, be it greater resilience, immunity, or simple experience, the successful elimination of a pathogen and reversal of a state of dis-ease to one of ease (health, “all systems normal”) often produces a state which is slightly improved over the pre-infection state. Psychologically speaking, the Analogous Ultimate Methodology produces Gnosis, which is Greek for knowledge. Gnosis is not book knowledge, however, as we have already discussed. It is experiential knowledge. It is transcendent knowledge which is received in the consciousness through the superior centers of heart-mind. So the diagram of a simple circle going around and around through the seven steps is a little too simplistic. What AUM produces is more of a SPIRAL pattern—a growing spiral as one increases in gnosis, and a shrinking spiral if one decreases in gnosis. Yes, that old cliché: are you on an upward spiral in your life, or is your life in a downward spiral? We know what that’s like: we’ve all experienced it in some form. We have all also experienced the upward spiral. Other words describing this is EVOLUTION and DEVOLUTION (also: involution). And what knowledge are we talking about? Self-knowledge of course. Since throughout the AUM of psychology, what is being studied and worked on is not only inside us, they are a part of us; in a sense indivisible. In the same way that a virus infects cells and converts them into virus factories, or a corrupted cell becomes cancerous, it is not helpful to completely disassociate ourselves from our egos in our mind. That is merely avoiding responsibility for our own suffering, sweeping the hard Truth aside—that we created our egos through our own past errors and harmful actions—in favor of “positive thinking.” The only way to truly disassociate ourselves from our psychological aggregates is through the AUM as described. In other words, we have to KNOW our egos are not who we truly are, by making it so through experience, via AUM. Believing we are not our egos is folly. It is a trick of the ego to keep us hypnotized and enslaved. It is not belief, theory, or understanding we need but gnosis: the direct experience of the Truth, the liberation of consciousness and the evolution of our Being through the comprehension and elimination of egos via AUM. It is the universal process to progress.
Here is a visual summary of the seven steps described above.
“So this is all well and good,” you may be thinking, “but a single analogy does not a universal truth make.” True enough. The fact that we can draw parallels between the AUM of psychology, immunology and cyber-security is only a sample of three. In truth, dear reader, if we are to be successful in our goal of awakening masses of people to the Truth of AUM, it will require that we delve deeper into the AUM of life and unveil its ubiquity in our lives.
For starters, let us expand our analysis, by once again embracing Joseph Campbell’s monomyth—The Hero’s Journey. After all, we have now contextualized that comparative analysis and distilled phenomenon as being much more than just some cataloguing of mere literary device. We have given concrete substance to its very foundations: both physical and metaphysical. Moreover, just as cyber security is a technological version of physical immunology, so too are the countless stories, myths, traditions, religions, etc. versions of our metaphysical psychology. How could they be anything but? And why would they be anything but? Given that necessity is the mother of invention, we see and accept the practical need and use for cyber security to protect our precious computational systems—which are extensions of ourselves and are becoming more and more of a necessity in the world. Why would we not recognize stories, symbols, allegories, et al as practical and useful for protecting our precious and vulnerable psychology? As far as religion is concerned, let yourself not be dissuaded by what they have become at the hands of ignorant and unscrupulous people, just as you would not be dissuaded from making use of a kitchen knife simply because a psychopath is using one as they rampage across the country on a murderous killing spree. Be mature in your approach as Joseph Campbell was, only be prepared to delve deeper than even he did.
Still not convinced? In need of more evidence? We offer you the following chart which summarizes a handful of phenomena, illustrating the ubiquitous presence of the Analogous Ultimate Methodology.
In no way is the above chart comprehensive or complete. The presence of AUM as the foundational archetype of the immune system, anti-maleware software and the monomyth of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey (the archetype of all human stories) is uncanny. But it is also present in personal development, the process of muscular growth and neuroplasticity, reproductive cycles, the organization of dominance hierarchies, species migration, the practice of pure science, the justice system, mechanical and technical trouble-shooting, all problem-solving, and all cycles of peaks and valleys in nature. But unlike other natural phenomena, the Analogous Ultimate Methodology of psychology cannot be perceived directly except by each individual within themselves. Like the Hero’s Journey, it is personal. Hence the timeless axiom “know thyself.”
The personal nature and basic tenets of Self-Knowledge and psychological self-healing are universally held esoteric wisdom at the heart of all great religions and spiritual traditions including Gnostic Christianity, Hermeticism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sufism, Taoism, Alchemy, Qabalah, Freemasonry, Greek, Roman and Norse mythology, Egyptian, Aztec and Mayan mystery schools, and many others. It is encoded in many works of high art and literature, can be found within all classic fairy tales and even in modern movies, books, comics and video games—especially MMOs and RPGs.
The following all contributed to humanity’s collective understanding of AUM: Akiva ben Joseph, Arthur Avalon, Atisha, Augustine, Aunel va Daath, Buddha Shakyamuni, Chandragomi, Dalai Lama, Fifth, Dalai Lama, Fourteenth, Dalai Lama, Second, Dalai Lama, Seventh, Dalai Lama, Twelfth, Dion Fortune, Eliphas Levi, Euripides, Gnostic Instructors, Gurdjieff, Guru Nanak, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Henry David Thoreau, Hermes Trismesgistus, Jalal al-Din Rumi, Jesus (Yeshua ben Pandira), John the Evangelist, Lao Tzu, Litelantes, Longchenpa, M, Manly Palmer Hall, Marpa, Milarepa, Moshe (Moses), , Muhammad, Nagarjuna, Naropa, Nietzsche, Padmasambhava, Paracelsus, Patanjali, Paul of Tarsus, PD Ouspensky, Plato, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Samael Aun
Weor, Shakespeare, Shankaracharya, Simeon ben Jochai, Sivananda, Solomon (Shlomoh), Tilopa, Tsong Khapa, Valentinus, Virgil, Vivekananda, Yeshe Tsogyal, Zarathustra.