“The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.”
–Alfred North Whitehead

The Zeitgeist

The zeitgeist gives our individual lives their substance. Without this cultural matrix to create and sustain our sense of ourselves as subjects; as persons with responsibilities; as bodies with a rational will required by outer law to be in control (but by inner law to be spontaneous), we would be free to release our experience from our past and our present, free to push our perception out from the womb of culture and into the future. But what is the future? What is seen beyond past and present? Pure form. Eternal light. A single point containing all of space and time in potential, but also in actuality. The absolute future is our own death, the travel down the tunnel of light back to the source. This process of dying, of coming to see the light, is what we commonly call life. This is the paradox of our experience: we are an eternal being becoming itself, a daemon (demon-angel) trapped between darkness and light, or so it seems as a result of our paradox. To even talk about a zeitgeist, we must be able to take the perspective of eternity. This is possible only because eternity is our essence; it is the source of the mind in time that manifests our existence. But we experience both at once as the poles of the paradox we call human consciousness. Here we are in a particular historical context thinking about the meaning of historical context. How can we even begin to do that without intimations of something beyond time? Eternity is our essence. The zeitgeist is our existence. Or we might say Spirit is our essence, and time (or our mind/psyche/soul), Spirit’s created world, is our existence. And what are we to make of the zeitgeist? What are we to do about the world that we live in, about the circle of ignorance that drives us all to war and consumption, about the paradoxical gap we’ve hewn between life and death? Isn’t it the same question: how are we to create the future? How are we to be born from the womb of culture, of our historical situation, of our bias, and into eternity, the pure form of the source of creation itself? But then maybe it is not a “how?” question at all. Maybe it is a “why?”. Or maybe it is only a “when?”. Ah, but in the end it can only be a “who?”. Who is it that has time as its experience? Who is alive in this world? Who perceives, who thinks, who am I? Does the answer beam us into heaven, or does it release us to transform the world we live in now, to stop consuming and waging war to obtain the means of production, so we can start creating a sustainable future society instead? When we recognize the paradox as the paradox, it is not hard to decide.







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