Last edited: 12-98
This series of seven lectures deals mainly with the meaning of historical knowledge and the first stages of human history – tribal life.
1.There are several guides one must follow before any meaning can be deduced from history.
a.One must be conscious of one’s bias, otherwise there is no reference point for selection of issues, or for organization. Everyone has a point of view; one cannot operate for one day without one.
b.History can be told only as a story because the whole value of the effort is to determine how something new happened in the world, against all odds saying it couldn’t happen. Every great advance in civilization, whether in science, or politics, or art, had to break some mold and go against traditional knowledge. When Jesus was crucified, who could have guessed at that time that his influence would persist and a great church would be formed? Einstein was first thought to be mad, and Rembrandt was unrecognized as a genius during this lifetime. SO THE IMPORTANT PART OF HISTORY IS TO CONVEY HOW SUCH A GREAT MIRACLE HAPPENED AGAINST THE ODDS. THE PURPOSE IS TO HELP SOCIETY THROUGH SOME CRISIS , THE SOLUTION TO WHICH SEEMS HOPELESS. HOW THIS HAPPENED CAN BE TOLD ONLY THROUGH THE MEANS OF A STORY – NARRATIVE HISTORY IS THE ONLY MEANINGFUL HISTORY, because there is no logic or prediction in how those events happened.
c.Lack of predicted events means these events go against what can be seen at the time. The famous stage-play HARVEY is a case in point. The rabbit cannot be seen, but through a story it can be made believable. Great creations of man likewise cannot be seen before they have occurred, because they exist only in the mind of the perpetrator.
d.Newness is always recognized with great difficulty, and with some delay. A generation or more may need to pass. Einstein waited 17 years before even a few scientists believed his theory of special relativity was valid, and longer before the whole scientific community accepted it, and longer still before public recognition.
2.History is the story of creation, of how all the elements of new life came into the society of different cultures. Lincoln would not have been a historical figure if he had not acted to maintain the Union and abolish slavery, thus changing life in the United States. truly historical events are therefore unique, unexpected, unheard of miracles of social creativity. Nothing else in past events is particularly interesting.
3.The purpose of history is to help us create a future; it should begin with the problems of our time. To solve these problems, our first step should be to examine similar past events to see what these might tell us about similar problems. Thus, the value of history in creating our future lies in direct proportion to how far it extends into the past. Today Western culture refers to the Christian era. To understand and respond to our religious problems then, one must go back at least that far. History can be interesting, only as long as the future is interesting. (p.18) “…the future of history is always the revival of the miracles of the past, plus those miracles that are necessary to make this revival possible.” (p.10) One turns to the past in order to discover newness.
4.True history assumes that mankind must participate in regenerating society, which is to say that mankind is yet unfinished. Each new advance represents an incarnation, a new life for society. And at each point, human nature changes as well. Only such assumptions make history vital, living, and relevant to our lives. This is why history must be rewritten every generation. New problems arise, old problems take on new forms, and different issues become the focus of examination of past events.
5.Part of the creative force of true history is to free one from superstitions in judging old from new. As said before, we are all biased and could not make decisions without predisposition. Paradoxically, to change we must forget those biases in order to strike out anew. The old saying, “history never repeats itself,” is an incomplete aphorism. Old methods that establish qualities of life must be repeated, for example, the fight for freedom, the fight for peace, the resistance against oppression. Battles against these forces are eternal, and so there is some repetition. But there is also newness, and therefore, new means must be found in order to reestablish desirable conditions.
6.Of course individuals commit acts of self-interest so the repeated stories of human failure are neither new nor interesting. BUT WHENEVER SOMEONE COMMITS AN ACT, NOT OF SELF-INTEREST, THIS BELONGS IN HISTORY. (p.26)
7. …history is the sum of the events which make it necessary for a child to grow up differently than before. Other events we will not mention. They are not historical…Lincoln now belongs to the ages, your children have to learn the Gettysburg Address… If he had only lived in his own time, like professor Everetts, the senator,…your children could grow up without ever hearing the Gettysburg Address…So we call history those events which have made it necessary — a different way or approach of any man born afterward. (p.30)
1.”All history, then, is between speakers and listeners. It is not between professors and students.” (p.1)
History in bits and pieces makes no sense and has little value. It has value only if mankind is conceived as one, not as 23 different civilizations living side-by-side but isolated from each other.
There can be no meaning in the creation of the world and in its preservation and in its redemption if there is not one history. The pluralism of history is the greatest atheistic enterprise of our age. (p.1)
2.ERH admonishes us in this country for providing too much freedom to the uninformed (mainly children), asking them to make choices for which they are ill equipped.
…modern education denies the American child the privilege of being told…This is the first age in which man is left alone in space. (p.4)
3.We, he asserts, are lost in space with no direction. We are space-oriented thinkers craving more material things, consumption-oriented, lacking much in moral judgment. We will not tax ourselves to improve education, we want lower taxes, we destroy the environment for profit and we run up enormous national debt that leaves our children and grand-children to pay – in every sense destroying our future.
We have freedom to change all this, FREEDOM TO ORIENT OURSELVES, but to change requires our respecting and following the rhythms of time. The past, present, and future is a unit of time which must be understood and acted upon as a unit. That is, we must begin in the present by working for a future we desire, then seeking similar past events that will guide us to move in that direction. When we are conscious of how to use the present in this way, it becomes expanded, larger, meaningful, fulfilling.
4.Meaningful history, fruitful study of past events, creates this expanded present. ERH points out these important distinctions between space and time. Space is things we can see and measure, and represents events in the material world. Time, in contrast, is not visible, but is driven by the spirit.
The spirit, in turn, is driven by listening to commands. Whether one becomes a physicist or doctor or teacher, one’s primary drive stems from one’s spirit, for better or worse. To create a future has everything to do with the problem of time, and of specific times in which we live.
5.To enter our “times” is to enter history, to participate in actions that will regenerate the community, and will move toward creating a future for it.
People who ignore this call are “counted out” from entering life; they remain beings with no spirit, with no future, and no sense of a fulfilled life, except to be able to consume more and die from chloresterol-clogged arteries.
TO ENTER INTO THE TIMES MEANS, AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE,TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE OPPORTUNITIES OF THE MOMENT. One can act only in the present, not in the past or future!
6. ERH asserts that for the last 1,000 years we have developed our concepts of space, developing science and technology. But science and technology cannot provide us with guidance for action in community-building (except of course where to put the sewers.)
Using technology and science (space thinking) has nothing to do with the heart, with our feelings, or with engendering our spirit (soul). Heart and soul are the core of a vital social order, the source of its power.
All the marriage problems of the human race are problems with timing… Timing is a much broader field (than politics). But we have allowed it to crumble and to shrink, to so little bits of life that the rest of life is not taken care of. (pp.16,17)
It is as though our lives are like the 10-second time bites of advertising, With no extended time from past, or into future. Our knowledge of past provides us with case studies for guidance for action in the present. Our drive must be, not only to survive in the present, but to do it in a way that creates the future we wish.
8. …the heart is given us as the pre-eminent indicator of time, of timing. We have no other. The brain can never tell you. The brain always tells you the opposite. The next millennium at this moment —we will have to start on timing, because today timing is destroyed. (p.18)
The theme of the future is not the world (i.e. more science), but society. And there is a definite opposition between society and world…World is everything visible and measurable. (p.19)
9.His point is not to reject science, but to define its contribution and balance it with other factors. For instance, in science, contradiction is to be avoided. In society, we constantly immigrate from one stage to another, wherein we become the opposites, child to adult, bachelor to husband or wife, husband and wife to parents, parents to grandparents. Receivers of past wisdom and authority mixed with our own experience, we use them to create added authority from our actions. All of these stages require different laws for guidance, different appropriate behavior.
Today we tend to worship the mind, but in the third millennium we must re-learn the lesson that the mind must also love and be guided by its opposite, the heart, by an intuition of what feels right.
10. I have tried to show you that we are at this moment vaulting between the second and third millennium of an era, which had three tasks to make all people so free that they could go into the future. To allow them to conquer space. And now to allow them to organize society.
We have therefore three great thousand-year topics, themes of history which deserve your attention. Church, for the people. The world, for space…And now we have the social problems. Society, as the organization inside which man must be allowed to know when to do one thing and when to do the very opposite. (p.25)
1.ERH identifies the crucial indicators of changes throughout history; these represent, not only the stages we have gone through, but also present evidence that those changes occur against seemingly impossible odds, and that these odds are overcome.
…we have now to round out now the whole era of history, the whole times of human endeavor into the impossible, into the surprising, into the unexpected, into the unnatural. (p.1/3)
Applying these criteria he identifies the stage we are now presently entering and thus the major thrust of our times. Of these three different endeavors, we now are prepared to enter the third.
a.The creation of a church (Christian), that creates a universal guide to moral behavior fired all people to find a universal basis for integrating all peoples of the world. Universality also frees us to gain perspective on the physical universe (space). This took the first 1,000 years of the Christian era.
b.The second stage was the evolution of science and technology, which allows us to control our environments and thus frees us to address the final problem, social organization. This scientific achievement was the preoccupation of the 2nd millennium, how just ending. ERH asserts that space has now been conquered in the sense of basic methods and understanding, and that anyone who sees this as not accomplished, belongs to the past.
c.Finally, we enter the 3rd millennium to address the problem of better organizing society.
2.ERH reminds us of what is believed to be a common truism, that if one wishes to look into the future, one shall see what children are interested in. This he refutes: “They are always behind. That’s why they are children.” CHILDREN SIMPLY HAVEN’T HAD ENOUGH EXPERIENCE TO UNDERSTAND WHAT LIFE IS ABOUT; they have yet to support themselves, found a family, send sons and daughters to school. The truism is a handicap to parents on this issue.
3.In general, man’s (humankind’s) evolution is from being “natural” (animal-like) toward becoming unnatural (civilized). Our evolution beyond animals has occurred only through society, and thus we have weathered changes that have engendered this progress: a) Evolving language (and therefore families) to expand and validate experience. b) Learning from past experience, respecting authority (a & b were tribal eras). c) Developing science, (i.e. the great empires like Egypt). d) Developing philosophy and poetry (Greek accomplishments). e) Creating a future through prophecy (Jewish accomplishment). f) Integrating these previous eras into universal principles (Christianity). And now, g) Entering the 3rd millennium, to organize society.
Each era created freedom to progress to the next step.
4.THE DANGER OF CONTINUING TO ALLOW SPACIAL ORIENTATION (SCIENCE) TO DOMINATE OUR THINKING IS THAT INDIVIDUALS TEND TO BE TREATED AS COGS IN A MACHINE. This is why we must now address social organization, which allows us to evolve as humans. This is to say, to organize society so that we have the appropriate freedom and peace among all groups on earth.
[RF – ERH in other essays, explains the consequence of modern social science having borrowed too much of its orientation and method from natural science: humans are treated as cogs in machines. The, social scientists seem to have forgotten that their field is differentiated from that of natural science.]
Scientific laws, by definition, allow no freedom, and no human future; society becomes fixed, ant-like, non-creative. We no longer can act as an image of God, participating in the creation of the social world and of ourselves. Freedom means not being bound by natural science attitudes, which cause us to misinterpret the meaning of our experience.
5.To create a future, and to change is to create time, to have time to plan. That is the meaning of the sabbath. [RF – this is a subtle issue, time. What I believe he is getting at is that we have freedom for creativity only when we have time to reflect and re-examine and re-search.]
The church was to create a single people out of many presently separate and alienated peoples. Science created one universe out of many universes, and in the 3rd millennium we must create one time out of many times. [RF – the idea is, I believe, that human society cannot evolve when we are fragmented, when we are constantly battling each other. The crucial notion then is that all creativity is in creating a society at peace. To do this requires a unified concept including all cultures and races. One of order, but an order that can change when our concepts of how to do this indicate reexamination (when war threatens).].
For instance, the Jews invented a life that was more concerned with the future than with the past or present. Contrasted with Jews, the tribes invented a life dominated by ancestor worship, being more concerned with the past, and Egypt created a society more interested in the “eternal present.” Christianity then unified these concepts, to the point of saying, “We need the freedom to choose to emphasize any one of these, depending upon the problem.” When social problems arise we may need to revert to some past practices, or on the other hand, invent something new.
6. So the three elements of our history, one people, one space, one time, or – one church, one universe, and one society. (p.15)
From page 14 through the end of the chapter, he provides historical examples of how this sequence of events takes place in different cultures. Ultimately, unification is always the goal. Pre-Christian history has four stages, which, when combined, allow us more social tools and therefore more comprehensive ways to understand human experience. This in turn allows us to better communicate, find common interests and be more likely to create peace. Again, the four pre-Christian orientations were a) the tribal orientation, b) the empire orientation, c) the Greek, and finally d) Jewish. Christian beliefs contributed to unifying all of these attitudes into a single way of thinking.
1.The Christian era admonishes us to recognize time as the primary method for ordering society; to seek, not only the right actions, but the right time to act. For instance, “If you want to learn something in a new environment, the minimum today, as things stand in this country is two days and three nights,…” (p.2) If we are “space minded,” as we are brought up to be, i.e. technologically minded, then we believe that “seeing” is adequate to knowing about a place. This, however, does not allow us to ascertain the spirit of the place. That takes time; it takes speaking to people, getting their opinions, identifying what is important to them.
2.It takes time to become conscious of our illusions and biases, to interact with people, to get them to respond to us “…people who do not know how to time their lives are licked.”
3.What leads a country into a future? Not education (that leads to a career), and not science (that is a method only, as is education). Neither science nor education can create a new conscience, a new hope, or faith.
What are the great mysteries of our time? What we do not yet know, and must know, is, 1) how society will organize work for all peoples in the world, for all tribes, and 2) how the Jews were replaced by the church. HOW, IN OTHER WORDS WERE PEOPLE ABLE TO CHANGE DIRECTION IN ORDER TO FREE THEMSELVES FROM THE RESTRICTIONS OF BEING, MERELY TRIBAL OR MERELY EGYPTIAN OR MERELY GREEK OR JEW? We know some of these things, but not how we will organize, or how the church came into being. (pp. 5-7)
4.In other words: 1) What is to be our principle for social organization, the role of women and all citizens? Peace between individuals, between cultures and ethnic groups, between nations, between sexes still evades us. 2) How do we incorporate the church (ethics and concern for building a future for society) into our everyday living, by not being trapped in one method (one cultural mode)? ERH goes on to explain that we separate the church from the state “inside us.” We do not consider career and worldly judgments from the standpoint of moral principles. The standard for judgment today is that business are one sphere and church another sphere. Church is for Sunday morning.
5.At present, we say that all nations or peoples are equally right, or have a right to live the way they please. THIS CANNOT BE TRUE, BECAUSE, ONE CULTURE ENSLAVES ITS MINORITIES OR WOMEN, AND DESTROYS THE ENVIRONMENT, AND IT EFFECTS THE REST OF THE WORLD. ALL IDEAS ARE NOT EQUAL! It is a truism that, “What my neighbor does effects me and the rest of the world.”
6.A decent future, one that regenerates a spirit to allow for stable, regenerating societies the world over – this is worth sacrificing to the hilt for today, in the present, now! (p.11)
To be creative is to sacrifice, to dedicate oneself totally, as Abraham did when he spoke out alone, or Jeremiah (voice in the wilderness). Real dedication is to persist when one is totally alone to have faith in one’s cause. From ancient ways of life we learn of models whose ideas succeeded beyond their death. THESE ARE THE EVENTS IN HISTORY THAT NEED TO BE REMEMBERED AND REPEATED AT THE RIGHT TIME.
Creation cannot take place as long as your own will enters anything you have to do. You see it must be stronger than you, yourself (p.17)
7.Why do we have to recall the past, especially the Bible? “…to remind us of the intensity of living, of the singleness of purpose.” (p.18) The ancients didn’t allow people to change. There was unity for one way of life only. “Once a baker, always a baker.” To remain vital, individuals must have freedom to change, as do societies as well. That is achieved through unity with a universal religion – one that is comprehensive, encompassing all of the past accomplishments of different religions, as well as the ability to select one emphasis (way of life) that may be called for at a particular point in time.
At one time, for instance, past authority may be most important to listen to, especially when some necessary way of living has been forgotten. At another time, new ways may need to be evolved.
8.To the end of the chapter ERH describes how ancients practiced many lifestyles within a tribe, pacificists, warriors, vegetarians, meat-eaters, etc. But what we must learn is that those who survived practiced certain things that are necessities. To fight when necessary, to maintain communication (language), to listen and respect elders, to bury their dead, to maintain a unity by respecting the rights of all members of the tribe equally, by dividing labor appropriately, etc.
1.This notion must be repeated as long as necessary, no matter how tired one may be of hearing it – that we must stop worshipping science, or commerce as ways into the future. (p.1/5) Today, technology and profit form the principle criterion used to justify all decisions. A forest with all its wild species will be destroyed for the sake of profit and a few short-term jobs.
What is most likely to carry us into a decent future (i.e. quality of life) will be our frail “consciences,” our willingness to tell the truth in spite of the risk, and ability to learn more from our experience and how people brought about change throughout the ages.
2.No one is free by declaring oneself to be free. One can be partially free only by knowing one’s own prejudices, one’s own weaknesses, by knowing life’s temptations, by knowing how the family should be sacred, by knowing that we can only discern viable truth in social life after something has been experienced by at least three generations, each generation believing strongly enough to pass it on to the next. Then we know what is necessary in lifestyle. ALL OF THIS WE LEARN FROM HISTORY. ONE MAN, OR ONE GENERATION, OR ONE CULTURE CAN NEVER EXPERIENCE ALL THAT IS NECESSARY IN LIVING. One must learn vicariously about the many variations inspiring the spirit of people to change, from the beginning of human time. Then we must be creative in seeing how to apply wisdom to present problems, risking new methods for solving problems when necessary. Individually, we are too frail, too ignorant, too naive to survive. Individually, we would never have language or a heritage of learning – we would be as animals.
3.ERH points out that for our individual lives, we could exist with animal sounds. The necessity and miracle of speech is that it allows us to communicate between generations. (p.8)
Speech is language which is to last for more than one generation…all language in the beginning is only vow. The first vow is the name of a person. They vow themselves to the name of their ancestor. You vow yourself to your husband as husband and wife. You vow yourself to recognize children born as your children. (p.9)
Language is only indispensable when part of the human being’s concerns are away, or dead, or not yet born….Mr. Korzybsky, the Russian, has called it that man is a time-binding animal. (p.10)
4. …I’m not teaching what is in my head, but I try to put through my head what has been true for the last 7,000 years. And that’s obviously worthwhile. (p.11)
…names were created so that something would survive death. And names are created so that somebody would live into the future with some clear consciousness of who he was. (p.12)
The horizon of time for tribesmen was between great-grandfather and great-grandson.
5.ERH claims to see no contradiction between the Bible and modern science. The Bible says that first plants were created, then animals, and then man, who is a little higher (because of his ability to participate in creation of society). The contradiction is seen only by “…silly asses who misunderstand both science and the Bible….So what’s the contradiction?” (p.14)
6.A BASIC GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING OUR EXPERIENCE RELATES TO OUR FEELING OF SECURITY. Do we not often feel lost, lacking of power over our lives, alienated, misunderstood, confused, not belonging, with no clear direction or unsure of what it might be? Are these not common emotions? We experience “today” as an eternal presence of these types of insecurity. ONE PART OF THE SOLUTION is through our experience of time. We cannot control the ticking of the clock, BUT WE CAN CONTROL our emotional impressions of time. 50,000 years back is an abstraction to us, but we can comprehend to some extent the life and sacrifices and environment of our great-grandparents, and imagine what the lives of our sons, daughters, and grand-children might or should be.
Time is therefore an important measure of our location in life. Thinking in these terms of generations, immediately before and after our lives, gives us a sense of realism about what has been done and what might be done, and what price there is to pay for certain types of behavior. This tribal way of thinking about time is something we need to rediscover.
7.ERH claims this “raft of time” gives us orientation, and therefore reduces our insecurity and increases our feeling of hope and faith in gaining some control.
The name-giving process which tries to get hold of your ancestor and of your great-grandchild is incisive. There is no speech without holidays, without great events, without picking and choosing some moments of time to be lifted above the average run-of-the-mill time.
Man’s history does not consist of the natural time of the scientist. It is not a sequence of a thousand years, but it is the sequence of beginnings and ends which is something quite different; of epochs, of ages, or of generations. (p.16,17)
8.He asserts that we want to know how our parents and grandparents lived and worked, and of their accomplishments and problems, and how they confronted them. These are the people who have established our personal direction in society, figuratively speaking, the people from whom we have received orders. We live today in the light of their accomplishments (and of course, in punishment for their shortcomings). And we need to learn and understand these experiences as a basis for our own decisions today!
ERH states elsewhere that most of the time we act through weakness and cowardliness, and ONLY OCCASIONALLY RISE TO THE OCCASION to carry out acts that contribute to the community. We need to understand these realities, and attempt to improve on them. To be too self-centered (for instance, leaving a national debt for our children and grandchildren to face), or to avoid facing problems, only to have them grow to overwhelming proportions later, is evidence of our weakness. All of this weakens a possibility for our future.
9.To act “rightly” always puts one in the minority. But such acts can have such power as to convince the majority. To act as a model “converts” the majority.
If the minority of yesterday has an important issue, then it will become the majority of tomorrow, but the majority will at the time, when the law is finally enacted, be already behind the times. (p.25)
1.People who are marching into an unknown future are great people because they face death. They know change must occur and are willing to act on a prophecy.
Today’s poets enhance the act of prophecy because they sense our times, and cast back into history to find some period that parallels our present problems, which is also to guide us into change. They then enlighten us by bringing forth from history what has been forgotten and what needs to be remembered now. His example is that of poet Robert Graves, who was interested in exploring pre-Greek times, when they were attempting to meld the Tribal and the Empire ways of life. Once again, one must ask, “How, in other words did they manage this change?”
2.ALL OF THIS POINTS TO HOW WE GO FORWARD BY LOOKING BACK. The fundamental needs of human society are the same in all times, and thus every generation must understand what those needs are, and how they are manifest in modern times.
3.Ideas are based on what we have seen (experienced) before – our hopes can only be based on recovering or enlarging those past desires. ANY MEANINGFUL FUTURE THEREFORE CANNOT BE BUILT UPON HOPE ONLY, BECAUSE THE FUTURE CAN NEVER BE THE SAME AS OUR PAST. Changes occur from one generation to the next. WHAT IS A FUTURE BASED ON? Certainly knowledge of past solutions offers a foundation, as does a sense of present conditions. But then one must invoke faith as a motivator, because one can never be sure of consequences. The only entry to a future is through faith. That is why those who are willing to act, to march forward into the future are great, because they have faith that their actions now will help create that future. The norm in bad times is to give up hope.
This is why our prayer should be for faith, not hope. Faith overcomes the dread of the change. (p.6)
4.Any renaissance, any new life, any change realistically begins with something we do not understand. Hope is always for “sausage,” for something physical. Physical desire cannot strengthen us to march into the future. “Faith is a future cleansed from your clutterings of mind, and opinion, and ideas, and programs.” (p.9)
Of course we must unavoidably bring some clutterings of mind – opinions and ideas and plans. But the point is, one needs to be ready to release those ideas when it is called for.
5.What mediates between hope and faith? Love, of course. The spirit of love can function only in the present. Hope, love and faith integrate past, present and future.
ERH goes on to assert that today, in America, people function only on hope. For instance, our present policy, personal and public, seems to be driven almost entirely by principles of commerce.
Nobody in this country at this moment has faith in the year 2200, at least not officially….If you read the editorials, they all think — by that time there has been a third world war and the whole world has gone up in flames. (p.11)
[RF – One might observe also that medicare is not expected to be available in a few years. The forests are going fast, pollution is progressing, etc., etc. Ironically, ERH points out that many “so called Christians” venerate the primacy of commerce as a basis for making most judgments.]
6.ERH points out that the “ancients” had only hope and faith, which were always in balance, as evidenced by their actions at death. If the correct ceremonies, including sacrifices, were not performed, it would bode ill for the future.
7.Names conquer death. To carry out any act today, “in the name of,” is to say in the spirit of, for example, Aristotle, or de Vinci or Bach – or the law. This connects the past with the present and future. It is a recognition that the spirit of those great persons from the past lives on today.
[RF – Elsewhere ERH describes the fantasy of believing that individually we never die, but are transformed into some other “place,” e.g. a heaven of sugar-plumb fairies, or a hell of fire and brimstone, obviously all images of sensory life. This, he claims,is not in keeping with true religious intent.]
Rather, it is the spirit of one who has died, that lives on in others, that invades the spirit of other people. Scientists emulate the spirit of Einstein, thus, give him eternal life. The religious admonition is then to each of us individually is to live in a way that memory of each of us is likely to live on in others who knew of our way of life. (20)
The real story of mankind has always been a religious story between one’s own hopes of that which is already done, can be preserved, can be expanded, perhaps, and that, something that is lacking will be created, despite our lack of creativity. (p.21)
…hope (can) always (be) expressed by quantity. You can say “more” of something. Faith can never be expressed by quantity, because it’s a new quality that doesn’t exist, yet. (p.22)
8.To summarize contributions of the tribe to civilization:
a.The grave, where recognition of the elders and ancestors manifests in the burial ceremony. The invoking of the ancestor’s name to carry into the future. The phrase, “in the name of,” carries past wisdom into the future.
b.The altar where “…all crooked things have to be straightened out again.” The modern “altar” is not where animal or human sacrifices are made or paid, but other types of sacrifice; i.e. the future is only reached through sacrifice. Sacrifice is the first payment by which change is made possible, because it means preparation in the present, the and cessation of some things we are doing now, which is often painful. For instance, consuming less, recycling.
c.Strangely, war is a contribution to the future. War is the sacrifice made to protect our values. It is not murder, which is individual. It protects us from brutalization and other forms of exploitation from bullies. The fifth commandment from the Bible, “Thou shall not kill,” does not speak to war.
d.Celebrations, the gathering, the meeting place, the getting into the “mood” to make commitment are all part of cementing unity among the people. The notion of a holiday is fundamental to this unifying process.
1.Continuing on this theme of contributions of the tribe, we see that they possessed hope and faith, but not love in the sense of its regenerating power. ERH correlates hope with the past, with history. Hope can, you recall, only be based on desiring something out of the past that had been experienced.
The past is long, and to learn its lessons takes patience:
History brings together all classes of themes. Its superiority over any other type of knowledge is evident. And all minds concede its supremacy…. You (in America) believe that physics is superior to history…Physics is dust, dealing with dirt…History: it makes us into human beings…. (history)…unites the foreign — the far-distant one and that which is right around us. It joins the past to the present. It combines the most diverse forms and the most distinct species. It is the dead who speak to you in the name of the dead, and it is accessible to you in the language of the living. (p.2)
2.The spirit is material, having a physical presence in connecting us with the dead and with the future generations. This is why history must be told, as it physically unites us with the past.
Hope results from being able to see something. Faith, by contrast, is not located in the eye. Rather it rests in the emotion of anxiety. We are anxious about that which we cannot see. Fear and hope are related. We fear what we can see, or have seen! Love (charity) is to be balanced with sacrifice.
3.History connects us to great events of human endeavor, or to the sum of the human spirit, as though each of us were the cell of a great man (Jesus or God?). “THERE IS NO HISTORY UNLESS YOU BELIEVE THAT ALL MEN ARE ONE. Instead you (in America) believe in this cheap `brotherhood of man’.” (p.13)
[RF – “All men are one”, means that we connect our individual lives with all of humankind through history, as contrasted with the notion of “brotherhood,” meaning “be kind and understanding to others.” While this notion of brotherhood may not be bad, it is inadequate.]
4.We, teacher and students, eat and live together, and I teach in order that I may harness human thirst to serve and enliven the community. The community forms us, and individually we owe our lives to it. It passes down to us language, history, our very physical existence, a government that protects us, a community by which we discover reality, and most of all a spirit that engenders creativity. It emboldens us to discipline and a willingness to sacrifice, all of which supports our ability to rise above our animal nature and become HUMAN.
5.Ash Wednesday originally was the day of the dead, the day in which the dead spoke to us. At Carnival, masks are warn so that one can speak for the dead, for one’s ancestors. This is why every tribe had to have at least one mask.
6.To be spoken to is much more important than speaking ourselves. We get direction when someone speaks to us. The purpose of the medicine man was to redirect persons into the right path.
7.In the tribe, the dead speak to the living to provide orientation. In empire culture (e.g. Egypt, China, Babylon), the living speak to the dead to give them direction. Jesus speaks to both the dead and the living, because nothing in either the living or the dead has final meaning.
In the tribe, the living are always wrong, the dead always right. Judges in modern society are the manifestation of the dead speaking to the living. Law comes from the past.
In modern life, corporations and lawyers are also masks, legal fictions with no life unless real persons are behind them. This fact is perhaps the most important problem in America (all industrial societies), much more so than competing ideologies such as capitalism or communism. The problem is, what is most real or powerful, individuals or corporations? Today, corporations seem to have all the power, BUT WHAT ENGENDERS VITALITY AND MORAL BEHAVIOR?
VITALITY AND FRAILTY GO TOGETHER. FEAR, HOPELESSNESS, AND FAITHLESSNESS DRIVE MANKIND ON TO SEEK MORE AND MORE POWER, but in the process life, humanity, and vitality are lost. This is how power corrupts.
8.The curse of the tribesmen is that they don’t believe their ancestors have died. The achievement of history is based on the attempt to keep the spirit alive. The trap of non-death is that succeeding generations cannot change. The misplaced tribal assumption is that all knowledge is already known (by the ancestors).
9.ERH goes on to explain that the primitive tribal people were fine and courageous, but simply wrong about some things, and that it is of course wrong for us to look down on them. They solved the eternal problem of mankind by admonishing tribal members to carry their burdens of guilt and pain and to persevere. They were kept in line (on the straight and narrow) by the witch-doctor.
10.Survival of the fittest should mean, “He who helps his fellows survive beyond themselves.” (p.22) The individual was always seen as less important than the survival of the tribe (no personal egos). Egos speak with authority, and the only authority in the tribe was the dead.
11.He goes on to define the sacred word “person” as understood by Americans. The status of person:
…has been bestowed on every brat, without any obligation to continue the life of the race. But the word “person” is only available to those who want to do right, and who will fight wrong, because in this very moment, they enter upon a beaten path of life which they have to continue. (p.24)
To know right and wrong does not come about by introspection. In reality, right and wrong is discerned by knowing what happened as a consequence of certain actions, and how those actions (might) need to be changed (manifested in a new way) in a present situation. “You want to alter a law, you first must understand the law.” (p.25)
12.Uniforms, and other specific types of dress such as the robes of judges or the Pope’s dress indicate the wearer is speaking of the wisdom from the past (exercising authority from former generations).
END OF SERIES