Knowledge that liberates consciousness is often described as esoteric. The word “esoteric” is somewhat forbidding, usually connoting something obscure, exotic, and irrelevant to daily life—in short, something “far out.” But etymologically the word means exactly the opposite: it comes from the Greek esotero, which means “further in.” You have to go “further in” yourself to understand what this knowledge is about.
Some thinkers differentiate the esoteric from the mystical, a distinction that can be useful as long as one is not too rigid about it. Esotericism is characterized by an interest in these different levels of consciousness and being. Mysticism is not quite so concerned with these intermediate states; it focuses on reaching God in the most direct and immediate way. The mystic wants to reach his destination as quickly as possible; the esotericist wants to learn something about the landscape on the way. Moreover, mysticism tends more toward passivity: a quiet “waiting upon God” rather than active investigation.
“I don’t know about you, but I practice a disorganized religion. I belong to an unholy disorder. We call ourselves “Our Lady of the Perpetual Astonishment”
― Kurt Vonnegut
“In Gramsci’s view, all meaning derives from the relation between human practical activity (or “praxis”) and the “objective” historical and social processes of which it is a part. Ideas cannot be understood outside their social and historical context, apart from their function and origin. The concepts by which we organise our knowledge of the world do not derive primarily from our relation to things (to an objective reality), but rather from the social relations between the users of those concepts. As a result, there is no such thing as an unchanging “human nature”. Furthermore, philosophy and science do not “reflect” a reality independent of man. Rather, a theory can be said to be “true” when, in any given historical situation, it expresses the real developmental trend of that situation.”
Culture is a pursuit of our total perfection by means of getting to know, on all the matters which most concern us, the best which has been thought and said in the world, and, through this knowledge, turning a stream of fresh and free thought upon our stock notions and habits, which we now follow staunchly but mechanically, vainly imagining that there is a virtue in following them staunchly which makes up for the mischief of following them mechanically
— Culture and Anarchy – Matthew Arnold
The essence of comedy is making the meaningful meaningless or visa versa making the meaningless meaningful – Sigmund Freud
Despite the problems, humanists perform several critical functions. They
– remind the society of its contradictions,
– articulate salient emotional states,
– detect changing cultural premises,
– confront their culture’s deepest moral dilemmas,
– and document the unpredictable events that punctuate a life or historical era.
The books, poems, plays, and films that contain these ideas help the public find a balance between the benevolent and self-destructive consequences of their illusions so that hopefully each can create an ideal worthy of effort.
— The Three Cultures: Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, and the Humanities in the 21st Century by Jerome Kagan
“It is not enough merely to look into the space of happiness or sadness; it is important to have pure presence constant in that flow. If the power of meditation is not constant, it is impossible to remain long in the place of nondual perception. Thoughts that arise intermittently will break the continuity, and radiating out from this, like ripples on a pond, the poisonous taste of emotion will arise to obstruct the meditation. As gross thoughts increase, ripples become rough waves that intensify the emotion. Until subtle emotions are left behind, we cannot eradicate suffering, so it is crucially important to sustain the state of meditation. When we gain strong familiarity by staying in that space for a long time, then no matter what thoughts arise, whether gross or subtle, they will not be able to dislodge us: upon recognizing the first thought, whatever thought it may be, in that very moment, we realize it to be the play of the spontaneous creativity of dharmakaya. Like a wave falling back into the ocean, the thought vanishes into the dharmakaya. In that space of naked empty pure presence that is the view, always cherishing thoughts of the five poisonous emotions and all the movements of body, speech, and mind, and the acts of eating, sleeping, moving, and sitting, we are known as the yogins and yoginis who stand guard over the shifting dharmakaya display. This is the supreme method of sustaining the essence of meditation. According to Dzogchen teaching, this is unadulterated by any kind of focus; it is called ‘the great meditation that is nonmeditation.’”
||The Great Secret of Mind: Special Instructions on the Nonduality of Dzogchen, by Tulku Pema Rigtsal, translated by Keith Dowman, pages 154–155