Saturday, May 5, 2007
Michael Langevin and others asked if I had ever asked you to follow-up on the question of societies that had prevented hypertrophy of wealth. I’m a little worried about it (nothing new there!) But it is a worthwhile question – or is it? I am tempted to do something else, which I suppose is suspicious.
You are feeling responsibility, that’s all. But after all, remember what we gave you yesterday – you aren’t likely to mislead anybody. We pointed out that people act on ideas – or, rather, ideas get real for people – when they have received them both intuitively and sensorily. If an idea comes to you and you haven’t been prompted by sensory means, you are very likely to dismiss it or not even notice it. But if someone then says to you the same thing you had thought (or, as we would see it, the same thought that had been offered to you) you will pay attention, often feeling somewhat startled. But if someone says to you – or you read, or hear, or in some way receive through the senses – an idea that you have not had internal preparation for, that idea falls into a well of blankness. It “doesn’t resonate,” as you say. Like your favorite example of Lindbergh, who would fly only when gauges and feelings both said go, intuitive and sensory evidence together produce a “go” and one without the other is insufficient.
Now, this has all manner of complications that you may not want to stay for. Psychic’s Disease for one; blind obedience as a habit, for another; disastrous misjudgments that may nevertheless be worthwhile from the point of view of levels of you that are inaccessible to the conscious you – and, finally and not least, direct mental interference from others, usually mistaken for internal thought, hence unsuspected and undefended against. There is an essay in each of these.
The point is, a straightforward presentation of an idea won’t lead anyone astray. If it is not met by an inner assent – an inner receptivity – nothing will change. Then if later the inner assent is provided, the sensory suggestion will have been provided already, and the person will “remember” your post, or e-mail, or conversation. This is one of the ways in which the other side – other levels of your being – works with your side to produce changes in you. As you may be able to see, it is not force but persuasion, and less persuasion than suggestion, and less suggestion than presentation.
Remember always, you are there to shape your life by choosing: why would we want to short-circuit the process by subtly or blatantly using force? Yet we may have large vested interest in your choosing in certain directions; we may do all we can do to make it an obvious choice; we may send reinforcements in certain directions: Still it will be up to you to choose, or choose otherwise, and no one can choose but you yourself. And we tell you – as we have said so many times – that much of this reality is to be found in various scriptures. It is coded, so to speak, in metaphors and descriptions that are dead to your times and to your shared assumptions, mostly unconscious (your zeitgeist) but it is there, and you would all be better off if you would translate them into language that can be understood by the coming generation, which will need that understanding even more than yours does.
Living without understanding these things, you are sheep without shepherds.
All right. Having said that, we will proceed to a few words on other social organizations. But you may find this less helpful than you may expect, for our priority is not that you change your societies, but that you change your being. Lay down certain threads of your being, and pick up others, and in effect you will be born again, and new people will call forth a new society as a sort of side effect. To try to change society first is an error of materialist thinking. Changing individuals and changing the society around them is a reciprocal process of continual readjustment, not a one way or straight line process. Nature works only in spirals, not in straight lines. How else could it be, given the influences on earth?
I always wondered why I explain things easier at length than in brief. It is a sort of inherited trait.
We, too, smile. You are learning to use the needle in two senses of the word. Very well, to proceed to the proper groove of the record.
First, do not be surprised that what we will say you will find somewhat shocking, somewhat repellent. If it were a way of thinking that came naturally to your time, would you not be more likely to be different than you are? In other words, a new way of seeing things is either new or it is comfortable, but it is unlikely to be both. If the one, it is not likely to be the other.
We put it to you simply. If you want something to stay within bounds, you have to bound it by something. If you don’t want it to run out of bounds, you must restrict it. But restrictions are not only restrictions of maximums, as you may be tempted to think – necessarily they will be restrictions of minimums as well, though perhaps invisibly.
To put it into terms less abstract, we are talking about a class society or a tribal society, and America is neither. As usual, we must ask you to hear this as though it may be something new, and not merely pigeonhole it as “nothing but.” If you cram new thought into comfortable, familiar pigeonholes, nothing much new can present itself to you.
In a tribal society there are graduations of wealth as in any other. But the personal relation is so much stronger than in the larger, more complex societies that the effect is different.
For instance, Joseph’s Indian family. A man who owned 20 ponies was rich. Another might have not even one. But the tribe – the family, you see, of which smaller families were a part – could and did intervene to prevent this from becoming a stratification. The owner of many horses, or of many beaded belts, or whatever, might be proud as an individual, yet he (or she) might also be laughed at for that pride, and in any event would not have power because of the wealth. He could not hire others to do his bidding, and slave away receiving little for their efforts. He could not buy preferment or establish himself and his sons as “a power in the land” so to speak. On a tribal level things remained too personal. It was direct self-government, so there were no representatives to be bought, or hired, or rented, or influenced. And in case of need the tribe could put it directly to an individual: Do this, or cease doing this, for the sake of the whole.
In a tribal society, you see, extremes of wealth did not arise because the stratifying effects of one individual’s good fortune or skill or whatever were counterbalanced by personal relationships, and the lack of agents to multiply the effects of such excess resources, and mainly something that you can’t see yet but that we will try to show after we look at the other extreme, the society of classes.
In Hank Wesselman’s books you will see a description of harmonious societies that are nonetheless firmly rooted in classes, the antithesis of what you have been taught that America is about. In Elizabethan England you will see another example, although the Spain of Phillip II is a better example, but not as well known to you.
Societies are not all stratified (as yours is) primarily by wealth. One alternative is to separate them by birth, with no movement between classes. If your father was a merchant, you cannot become a nobleman no matter how much money you make. If he was a warrior, you may not be a very good warrior, but that is your destiny. If a peasant, guess what your opportunities are going to be.
In all these cases there are provisions for some fluidity (though not necessarily seen as such). Clerics may come from any background, theoretically – but don’t think that once you have become a cleric anyone, including yourself, will ever forget the rank your parents hold or held!
You find that abhorrent and stifling but perhaps that is your lack of imagination as much as anything, and certainly it is your unconscious social conditioning and your unconscious assimilation of social assumptions (to say the same thing twice) that consciously you may disagree with. For instance, you leap to say, what a prison for those born into the wrong class! But that assumes that someone can be born into the wrong class. How would he do that? This in turn makes you uneasy because it seems to ratify all sorts of social injustice by saying “well, God placed them in that sphere of society, that is their place in the social order.”
Of course it does! That is exactly what it does. And in your society you do exactly the same thing by a different route, who has how much money, regardless how s/he or his or her ancestors got it. All societies wind up saying, “This is how God set it up” or they say, “This is how mankind set it up and we have to change it because it is wrong” – but in the latter case no one who says that ever places themselves lower on the proposed order of things than in the existing order.
I am wandering here, and I’m not sure how much of the previous paragraph is perception and how much story. I’m going to take a break for a bit.