Embracing the Specter of Systemic Collapse by Tristan A. Shaw

Know Thy Self

Image by Andrew Huff via Flickr

by Tristan A. Shaw
Writer, Dandelion Salad
British Columbia, Canada
December 15, 2014

Let us evaluate our collective despondency as activists (the categorical minority of those who care) attempting to sustain the existence of human life. We think our role is defined by the perpetual struggle against imperial empire and capitalism – that the elite class must be vanquished through repeated protests and social organization. But limited is our mental landscapes, for there does exist an unrecognized alternative out of which our efforts will culminate great impact and change. Its essence can be discovered within your latent potential as a spiritual being, an inscribed message from our ancient past.

Awakening to this extraordinary realization – of intrinsic human wisdom – sets in motion an organic process of personal transformation. It unravels from a sacred seed of timeless beauty, spoken to by all great movements of old. And once this seed is implanted within your consciousness, you recognize the vital philosophical error in externalizing moral culpability and blame. That we, as those who care, are the only ones who clutch in our hands the destiny of human life, not the elite and its corporations. Our actions comprise the future, our behavior determines the outcome of the human experiment on planet Earth, no one elses.

Protesting the excesses of the system, although important, is not the ultimate demonstration of alternative avenues of being, as liberals believe. The system will inevitably buckle under its own weight of hubris and stupidity. Even if all protests were completely successful, if Wall Street capitulates and the Albertan tar sands is left in the ground, our global dissonance of systemic darkness would surely persist. It is a fight against the symptoms of disorder and does not strike at the root-cause of illness. Indeed, the collapse of industrial civilization is an irrevocable reality that must be assimilated into our reckoning. All endeavours to sustain our current system, through our faith in modern science or some sanguine hope in a mass awakening, will, in the end, only deepen our philosophical apathy.

But there are those among us who are demonstrating the Gandhian method of “becoming the change you want to see in the world.” They access a higher octave of mind by harmonizing the creative intelligence between Heaven and Earth, Fire and Water, Male and Female, Logic and Intuition. They understand that our institutional conditioning is designed to unbalance mind with the discord of hyper-masculinity – left-brained instrumental rationality. Thus, the justification of the entire system is made possible. Patriarchy is the ultimate perversion of nature, and its result is the elevation of those who can best exploit, manipulate, and dominate others. It describes how we all operate within the modern epoch: we serve the idea of linear time, of a virulent professionalism, individual self-promotion and a blind faith in the presupposition of belief. We organize our whole realities to suit this gross fabrication, this deluded worship of the Male polarity. Because when you can effectively bring those two polar dimensions into equilibrium, by virtue of nature’s perfection, we break through our imposed mental confines, our imposed intellectual prison, and instantaneously become the living, breathing solution to all our ills.

The intelligence of the human heart, spoken to by so many, becomes palpable, and therefore we begin to “feel” the travesties of modern materialism. Nihilism is the engine that compels the masses toward perpetual consumption and blind subservience; inner harmony rejects this endless pursuit to fill a spiritual void. No more searching for answers, like how to bring about external revolution, for the answer lies only within. From the Emerald Tablets of Thoth:

“Seek ye forever in the veil of the darkness,
somewhere ye shall surely find Light.
Hidden and buried, lost to man’s knowledge,
deep in the finite the Infinite exists.
Lost, but existing, flowing through all things,
living in ALL is the INFINITE BRAIN.

In all space, there is only ONE wisdom.


Turn thy thoughts inward not outward.
Find thou the Light-Soul within.
Know that thou art the MASTER.
All else is brought from within.
Grow thou to realms of brightness.
Hold thou thy thought on the Light.”

Thus, the corruption of liberal thought, and the mainstream scientific world at large, is made evident. We saturate our day-to-day lives in a constant repetition of liberal analyses, the same old monolithic approach to current affairs. An ancient principle of philosophy is that one must be challenged by a plural contrast of honest thinkers. That we all ascend within an infinite degree of spiritual development, and therefore, to truly illuminate Truth, discourse must seek to challenge and question the honest difference between intellectuals. This eviscerates blind subservience to an institutionally crafted, socially perceived ideal (what I call the liberal method). And if we accept the premise that it is only our group of committed, caring activists who can determine the human outcome through irrevocable collapse, what analytical value does someone like Noam Chomsky provide? If we really do seek a pragmatic articulation of our current purpose, how does Russell Brand challenge our perception? Or does someone like Chris Hedges repeat to us a kind of liberal sloganeering against capitalism and its elite that is already overwhelmingly unambiguous and clear? We cannot seek to enlighten the benighted hide of mass human ignorance (those who do not care), for such an attempt will always fail. Hence, liberal thinking actually restricts our psychologies; it doesn’t challenge us in any form. By externalizing the moral responsibility of our crisis we ignore the ancient truths that speak to us from the depths of history.

Michael Parenti has long challenged the limitations of liberal analysis. They have been called the “liberal gatekeepers,” a name denoting their function as institutional guardians of the system. They call on us look to at the implicit effects of capitalism and elite control, but ostracize those who involve conspiracy within their thinking. Noam Chomsky tells us that nano thermite found within building 7’s rubble is meaningless to anyone who isn’t a professional (that is, institutional) engineer or physicist. He sidesteps the issue, as all liberals do, by blindly adhering to formal structures of institutional power. We are taught not to question these professional fiefdoms of knowledge, these hyper-specialized disciplines, for if we cross that invisible line we breach established parameters of permissible thought and challenge the very basis of our hierarchical system. Philosophy, as an art, is inter-disciplinary. It seeks the attainment of existential relevance by unifying fields of knowledge – a holistic approach lost to the institutional methodology.

Free yourselves from the prevailing darkness of disease. Realize the pathologies that pervade our dialect. Be fooled and pacified no longer. Despite what a textbook or modern writer may tell you, there are super-essential qualities underlying the manifestation of the material universe: there does exist both immutable and mutable forces within the cosmos. This is naturally apprehensible to a purity of intuitive-reason, that deep within the Eternal Present Moment, the self-emergent awakening of human consciousness is unveiled. The universal intelligence of Spirit, spoken to Einstein, reveals the absolute beauty of natural law, of divine wisdom. Harmony is achieved when the higher mind, the higher Self, is activated through reconciling the infinite with the finite, the absolute with the relative, spirit with matter, soul with body, Heaven with Earth, micro with macro, and so on. We have not outgrown the usefulness of philosophy in a technological age, we have merely regimented and repressed its intrinsic value … because it competes with the way in which we all think and behave.

So let it be known once again: carnal desire is the manifestation of sickness within the human condition. Whether that desire be for material objects, the accretion of financial wealth, or prestige, or, more subtly, for the implementation of some conceptual ideal through external revolution. Know this above all else to be true: that all human discontent stems from the same frequency of imbalance. The Buddhist articulation of enlightenment through “nirvana” is a recognition of naked Truth preeminent within nature’s perfection, a recognition of the larger cosmic beauty that compels humility and appreciation. We all have the capacity to channel this sacred impulse, this transcendent state of mind, if we could only extinguish the inordinate noise of Western culture.

Conditioned to flee from our moments of silence, we are taught to replace the tranquility of emptiness with things, to distract ourselves from ourselves. But deep within these fleeting moments of silence, of what has been called ‘secret Silence’ or ‘Divine Darkness’, deep within this ‘no-thingness’ state of mind, lies the golden key that may open the many doors of awakening. “Know thyself and ye shall know the universe.”


We all stand upon the cusp of modernity’s complete annihilation — a global breakdown of such magnitude that the very existence of our species is challenged. The questions are yet to be answered: does the human race have the capacity to overcome its spiritual impoverishment? Will we employ the necessary moral codes that will ensure the maintenance of our species? Can each one of us consummate the radical transformation of consciousness that will spawn a new narrative throughout the world? Or will the human race descend into collective barbarity and primitivism? Human destiny will unfold according to our ability (not the elite’s or the mass’s) to implement spiritual awakening, to demonstrate the only pragmatic solution, the only pragmatic alternative, to the virulent mutation of modern culture.

So … the solution, dear brothers and sisters, is not found within the battle between rich and poor. It is not found within any particular protest or ideology. It does not concern itself with the plethora of rational treatise that outline an ideal state and society. It is not measured by the accumulation of ammunition or of Heinz beans. Free yourselves from confusion! The sanctity of Spirit, silently awaiting our recognition, is impervious to such mortal scheming.

Instead: to successfully vanquish the great seismic implosion of industrial civilization, of complete and utter systemic breakdown, to carry our kind through the impending chaos and mass panic, we must (each and every one of us) ground ourselves to the universal wisdom that defines our potential for greatness as a species. We must unlock our beauty as divine beings. From predynastic Egypt to the Renaissance, all human artistic and philosophical achievements point to this one great eternal truth: we are all divine beings endued with the creative intelligence to determine our own fate through time. So just remember: spiritual power is infinitely larger than all the world’s financial and military power combined. Once this sacred seed sprouts within your consciousness, when you awaken to your intrinsic human wisdom and reharmonize your body with Spirit, reality will transform itself into something so joyful and awe-inspiring (so beautiful and happy!) that the cosmos becomes one perfect, harmonic symphony emanating the pure light of compassion and love.

The collapse of modernity is not such a problem after all. In fact, it is the solution!

Tristan A. Shaw is a young writer residing off the West coast of Canada. He invites constructive communication at tristanshw@gmail.com.


Chris Hedges: Time To Dismantle Industrialized Civilization + Guy McPherson, Derrick Jensen and Richard Manning at the Earth at Risk Conference 2014 + #TPP: The Dirtiest Deal

Helena Norberg-Hodge: The Right to Fresh, Healthy Food is a Fundamental Human Right

Chris Hedges: Voices of Hope in a Time of Crisis

from the archives:

Noam Chomsky: Will We Survive the 21st Century?

We Are a Movement of Movements by Rivera Sun

Introduction to Intelligibility by Tristan A. Shaw

The Great Unknown by Tristan A. Shaw

The End of an Age by Tristan A. Shaw

The Seeds of Hope by Tristan A. Shaw

9 thoughts on “Embracing the Specter of Systemic Collapse by Tristan A. Shaw

  1. Pingback: Chris Hedges: Confronting the Signs of a Society in Decline | Dandelion Salad

  2. Pingback: Embracing the Specter of Systemic Collapse by Tristan A. Shaw | Exit

  3. Pingback: The Nature of Reality by Tristan A. Shaw | Dandelion Salad

  4. A deeply considered and provocative post from Tristan, worthy of careful reflection and needful of coherent absorption.

    I think it may be fair to say, that we all progress through stages of growth and understanding ~ from direct experience, but also from exposure to formal learning, in particular cultural or personal contexts.

    As we acquire more knowledge, we refine our increasingly autonomous, or self-selected intellectual and symbolic development, judiciously seasoned by reflexive application and conscientious assimilation.

    The mature mind may become more discriminating toward the suggestible enthusiasms of passionate youth, but not necessarily. It may be that conditioned acceptance and a tendency to buttress prejudice or “confirmation bias” restrict & over-ride fresh insight, obscuring the uncluttered clarity of the “first, fine, careless rapture” of naive (in a positive sense) lucidity…as the poet says.

    Philosophy is in my view both a cognitive discipline, and a pragmatic process, rather than an art per se. Although clearly, great philosophy may be so original and inspired as to warrant being characterized as an art. However, I suspect we may find ourselves more in the realm of mystical experience, once that intuitive threshold is broached.

    When philosophy becomes an agent of persuasion rather than a method of symbolic analysis or a type of imaginal praxis, we may also find ourselves susceptible to potential confusion, by mixing the planes. It all rather depends on one’s frame of reference ~ what has been learned, read, communicated or transmitted and received; what has been rightly understood and what has been fully internalized through coherent absorption.

    Tristan’s allusion to Thoth-Hermes, the supreme patron of ancient learned magick, philosophy and writing is profoundly welcome ~ and of inestimable value in my opinion, given the virtuous attainments of our most pre-eminent spiritual practitioners since classical antiquity. Only, once we are invited to consider the spectral deceits of externalised error in terms of academic complaint, I think we may be on contentious, even shaky ground.

    I would defend the right of a Chomsky, or Hedges et al. to rail against the prevalent system. We need them to do this because it is a legitimate,necessary, & actually healthy and therefore essential, component of our political morality. They are practising free speech and exercising free thought.

    If we disagree, and are competent to criticize their position, we are also at liberty to do so. That is the root idea of intelligent debate in civic society.

    We may not entirely agree, but we ought to condone their right to be wrong (by our lights.) If we feel strongly enough about it, we should express our perceptions and argue the case.

    Very few people, I suspect, can grasp the perennial Daoist notion of pure microcosmic responsibility and ethical relationship. The idea of the superior man/woman (cf the Yi Jing) is alien to our Western sensibilities, but does nonetheless exist, disguised in other, more familiar & perhaps parochial concepts of Western philosophy, as Tristan indicates, all actually traceable back to Ancient Egypt, to Greece, Persia, India and of course to China.

    I would be more cautious however, when confronted with the disputable dogmas of ersatz occultism & the unfalsifiable interpretations proposed by (some) transpersonal psychologists, psych-analysts, or those who peddle “human potential,” that may indulge in extravagant assumptions about a “Higher Self,” or what I would characterize as the ego-deluded, material reductionism and “new age” commodification of the more exalted Yogic Trances.

    All “higher” mental states have been freely codified in one discipline or another across the Aeons; but what distinguishes our present condition, is the unprecedented access we now have to the full range of eclectic spiritual experiences that have ever been recorded or embodied in any formal praxis ~ together with those other historically lesser-known methods of indigenous knowledge, healing and initiation that have lately become more familiar through the work of contemporary ethnobotanists like Wade Davis, Mark Plotkin & so many others.

    I agree, we should assume the responsibility to internalize our demons, in the sense of mastering them ~ not just accommodating them. That resolve may even invite “evocation” in a hermetically pure and highly specialized, secure ceremonial context ~ but we should always resist tyranny and political oppression, both of the mind and of the spirit…or of society at large, by whatever means we can lay claim to, that we may find effective or at our present disposal.

    The “honourable” self-initiated man/woman, is a huge asset to any society, but even more valuable as pragmatic activist, who can invoke the rule of law. To internalize the entire world of possibility is a Gargantuan task, that few can undertake; most of us can only ever claim partial success.

    The notion of law is indeed an exceedingly complex one and according to the Daoist canon, perhaps altogether foreign to the spiritual estate; but the Dao De Jing is also held to be a treatise of just government. All religious dispensation if “legitimate,” proposes some kind of sacred order ~ ie appropriate system of governance.

    “Law” may be our single most powerful agent of change in a globalized polity ~ if we are to overcome the inchoate ambiguity & current chaos that prevails in this assaulted, abused, & in-ecologically (mis)guided world.

    Law implies ethical rules, standards of integrity and due accountability.

    Is this not a sensible aspiration for intelligent humanity?

    • Hi David, nice hearing from you again.

      Don’t have much time but I thought I’d do my best…

      Regarding the Chomskys: I do recognize their legitimate role within society. In fact, I try not to try judge them at all. My intention was to highlight the gaping deficit within our (activists) discourse. The liberal method is found everywhere. The simple ancient principle of internal transformation, on the hand, can not be. To me, the Chomskys parrot ideas too repetitive and institutional (“saving American democracy”) to account for all the impassioned enthusiasm, largely youthful, that needs to be (that MUST BE) responded to with insight and wisdom, rather than another critique of capitalism. We all know capitalism is bad, right? Everyone at all capable of employing their mental faculties figured that out, probably on their own.

      If we care about the survival of humanity we need to broaden our minds, challenge ourselves, embrace the honest difference between intellectuals and make every effort to pluralize our collective communication.

      You say Chomsky challenges the system. I say that challenging the system is not done effectively by Chomsky’s liberal method of moral externalization. If you want to challenge the system, live life in a way contrary to our institutional system. Chomsky promotes our system in many ways, some of which are touched upon in the article (institutional subservience). Whereas the true practicing philosopher concentrates his attention upon what is important: his own self, his own being. Be the change, don’t just sit back encased within a corporate institution and point the finger at the elites. This is childish and may result in our species extinction.

      • Good response Tristan, I thank you for this.

        Yes, I get your drift and actually. I profoundly agree. Only in defence of Noam Chomsky and others, I would say he contributes invaluable correctives, insofar as he compensates for the omissions and deceptions of profane or partisan “histories,” & provides us with an alternative narrative in the spirit of great radical intellectuals like Howard Zinn.

        He is a pragmatist and simply offers us the facts as he best understands them, based on available evidence. He is a “public intellectual.”

        These are socialist commentaries and should be understood as such.

        What you are advocating is deeply significant but it addresses another plane of discourse altogether, and one that really imparts or engages with the notion of initiation.

        I’m all for that, but I think it is essential to accept the implications of what it means. Some just cannot grasp this idea, others will simply profess atheism or skeptical indifference, still others may decry it as elitist and self-delusional. My own view is, “each to their own.”

        The narrow gate is not for everyone.

        • David,

          I do see what you are saying and agree on a certain level. Howard Zinn, as I perceived him, was much less dogmatic and was actually open to criticism. I place him in a subtly different “class” of intellectuals. He was open to 9/11 and conspiracy at large, and seemed to embody (practice) on a significantly greater degree the words he espoused.

          Initiation is certainly a way to describe it. But what are we initiating into? Belief? Superstition? Or Truth?

          Initiation is pretty damn esoteric to any outsider. Magick, sigils, evocation of spirits, inter-dimensional transcendence … all described in traditional language purposely inaccessible to normal folk.

          My intention is to challenge our monolithic mental environments. Every great movement used a few simple principles of truth which are diametrically apposed to modern analysis. Something must be said regarding this…

          ” Only in defence of Noam Chomsky and others, I would say he contributes invaluable correctives, insofar as he compensates for the omissions and deceptions of profane or partisan “histories,””

          Perhaps you are correct. Seems reasonable. I guess the only point I would add, in reference to my article’s thesis (that only the caring, committed activists can sustain humanity), is that this function is strictly outside of humanity’s usefulness. I do not need a Chomsky “compensating” for elite manipulation of history, and neither does anyone who actually can make a difference (regarding human survival). If he, like he says, actually cares about human survival, than clearly he is committing the most basic, rudimentary flaw of philosophy. He is attempting to influenced benighted mass ignorance, a historical flaw spoken to by so many. Socrates did not try to influence mass ignorance, such an ambition is doomed from conception. Instead, he kept his mind on internal truth (wisdom) and behaved accordingly — an approach diametrically apposed to liberal instrumental logic. No one considers this, even analytically.

          So, if the word “pragmatism” implies an effectiveness to implement, or simply “practicality,” than I regard Socrates as pragmatic and Chomsky as impractical. Socrates changed things by acting, whereas Chomsky (one could argue) is stunting our (caring activists) ability to initiate change and impact. Does he actually, deep down, believe that one more critique of American empire has any palpable effect on our purpose of sustaining humanity?

        • Thanks Tristan, for expanding on this. I guess I must agree with you, even though Chomsky does encourage action and active dissent, as do Chris Hedges, Naomi Klein and so many others.

          On the other hand, there is clearly an argument that suggests they may be token examples of controlled opposition, as intellectual dissent can be so easily managed or dismissed when so few people actually seem prepared to engage with the real issues.

          I think Chomsky has had far more impact through the internet lately than from published works, for example

          On the question of moral action and civic virtue (Aristotle,) I must agree with you. As the English mystic Aleister Crowley has espoused, the process of initiation is not something that can be second-guessed or “anticipated;” for if we knew what it was all about, then we would already be “initiates.”

          My own view is that the outward form is entirely arbitrary, what counts is the inner experience of transformation, its truth. How that manifests in the world is unpredictable, because nature is so unique and diverse, that any genuine expression of legitimate spiritual values will therefore also be totally original ~ providing they are really authentic…and only the individual can finally determine that.

          Although blatant imposture and self-delusion can often be quite evident, to anyone with even a modicum of instinctive integrity.

  5. Yes! smile
    “the proverb is applied to those whose boasts exceed what they are”, and that “know thyself” is a warning to pay no attention to the opinion of the multitude.
    Hhhmmmmmm…I am staying out of it! Know thyself ……everything in moderation is my creed and that is work enough!
    A good post…thanks

Comments are closed.