Potiphar12's Blog
An Octogenarian in the modern world


The quest interests me seriously. My second reading of SHAMANISM brings out ideas that I missed first time round, and some of them are echoed in other sources. One significant point is that the shaman goes to great lengths to separate himself from ‘normal’ reality in order to perceive and enter an alternative reality: one in which he can see things otherwise unseen and gain knowledge otherwise hidden. It is as if too much ‘normal’ knowledge is actually a hindrance and all the conventional wisdom we have embraced diminishes our ability to see things differently. I also bought The Cloud of Unknowing” and God Bless Amazon for fast delivery. The Cloud was written by an unkown mystic in the 14th Century and takes the form of instruction to a young man about the ‘work’ of contemplation. The object of contemplation is to get close to God and colossal emphasis is given to the idea of FORGETTING ALL YOUR INTELLECTUAL KNOWLEDGE. The theme is that God is so far beyond our knowledge that he cannot be known intellectually. However, a mind that has ‘forgotten’ all earthly concepts and concentrates only on LOVE can receive God-given insights. So extreme is the doctrine that Christian beliefs, along with all other thoughts, must be thrown out during the contemplative activity. So the same idea is present in disciplines far apart – the idea that too much knowledge of one type can prevent you gaining knowledge of another type.

This concept of accepted wisdom being limiting and potentialy dangerous can apply in any age. In our own time, science and the scientific method are very powerful. Are they sometimes preventing us from looking elsewhere and examining alternative methods? Are we enslaved by science in the same way as people were once enslaved by religion? To what extent is language part of the enslaving mechanism? That must wait for another blog post.

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