Unit 5: Taking Away the Veil
Speaking of the south and west African gnostic traditions in which he was trained, Orland says, “For them, there are no fixed laws.” The assumption of fixed laws is foundational to the modern, Western approach to knowledge. Science assumes it implicitly by the principle of the repeatability of experiments, through which these laws may be discovered. The next step of science is to build reliable technologies based on these fixed laws. It seems to be working well, as the miracles that technology has enabled testify. But what if the apparent fixity of physical laws is an illusion born of our relationship to materiality? What if, as Orland says, “Everything that can be spoken to responds to speech”? Scientific experiments are themselves a kind of speech, a ritual performance.
Orland has trained for 20 years in the ways of communicating with that which responds to the “speech” of ceremony, which allows its practitioners to hold far more complex systems of belief than any that rests on fixed physical laws. More than that, it allows new (actually ancient) kinds of technologies – ways to interact with matter – that are desperately needed today; hence, his expressed desire to work with “scientists.”
When I was in Egypt last January I saw relics of many impossible engineering feats, such as precisely carved 100-ton blocks of granite (which is harder than steel) moved hundreds of kilometers from their quarries by a society that had not even invented bronze, the pulley, or the wheel.
Orland explains that these ancient technologies are never lost; no accomplishment is ever lost. The field of these accomplishments is still present, allowing us to create our own miracles (technology) that recapitulate ancient ones. He names artificial intelligence as an example. We have barely scratched the surface of this inheritance, but already we are at risk. Computers recapitulate the ancient technology of ritual and speech (after all, they do nothing but manipulate symbols, which is the same thing as ritual and speech). In a sense, we are doing nothing different than we always have. The difference, as Orland describes it, is that we have not done the inner work, the work on consciousness, to use these powers safely. Even the ancients, who were highly developed in that way, misused their powers and brought about catastrophe. All the more at risk are we.
In the last segment, we speak about the powers of the material world and what they can give to humanity. Gold is one of them. It has powers that are invisible to the eye of conventional physics, but were and are widely recognized outside of it. This is true of every substance in the world. When we treat it as a mere resource and subjugate it to economic ends – the mentality of extraction rather than interaction – few of these powers are available to us.
To see them requires letting go of what we think we know, including the conception of fixed physical laws operating on inert, unconscious materials. Obtaining new knowledge is not about speculation, as Orland says, it is about empirical experience. But we have to be willing to have those experiences, willing to explore what Bayo Akomolafe calls “the wilds beyond our fences.”
Finally, beyond what we recognize as physical substances there are also more subtle – and even more abundant – substances of which Orland names as examples love, grace, and mercy. We have endless help to find our way back, if we only accept that help.
For practice and discussion I offer the following:
First, notice if you have any resistance to what Orland has shared. For example, if his mention of Atlantis triggered contempt, take note of that. Or if you have a deadweight of doubt, or of unworthiness, take note of that.
Second, touch for a few minutes your inner knowledge that love, grace, and mercy are available to you, so that you may discover what would otherwise be beyond your contrivance to find.
Third, keeping tethered to the knowledge of the availability of love, grace, and mercy, explore with naivete a substance that you feel curious about. It could be a stone, a crystal, a metal, a plant, or a liquid. Experiment with touching it, sitting on it, contemplating it, putting it in your room or on your body. Notice how you feel, what thoughts you have, how you communicate, how you dream.
You can also do research on the internet to see what others (modern and ancient) have discovered about this substance. If you like, share your experience in the discussion group.
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