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The Human Machine > by Levin A. Diatschenko

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   Imagine a robot that has a limited number of responses. If you say hello to it, the robot automatically reacts with: “Hi, how are you today?” If you keep greeting the robot, the repeated response would get annoying and it would not take long for you to recognise it as a machine. But say the creator programs it so that at every third time someone greets the robot, it changes its response to a second sentence: “Fine day, isn’t it?” In this case you would take longer to catch on it was a robot, but not much longer.

   Now picture a robot with hundreds of programmed responses to a wide range of everyday interactions, so that it might take a whole year of interacting with it before it repeats itself. Even then, humans repeat themselves a lot too. Imagine that over that year, mistaking complexity for consciousness, you confided in the robot. You argued with it, tried to convince it of your political views. It responded each time according to its pre-recorded programming. How long would it take before you cottoned on that it was a machine?


   It is not uncommon to refer to the human body as a machine. But of course, people have ‘internal’ thoughts and feelings and because of this we are thought of as conscious. We even have political and religious views and if somebody denounces them we get ‘hurt’. This is an interesting occurrence: we react emotionally when others insult our beliefs. We feel the urge to defend our beliefs.

   This is because we ‘identify’ with the belief and therefore feel it is us who are being attacked. That is, we identify with beliefs because we have no identity of our own; like machines. As such, we ‘borrow’ a belief for which to use as a surrogate identity. It is this phenomenon of getting emotional that we usually associate with sentience. But this same phenomenon actually proves our lack of free will. We respond automatically – an emotional exchange is something like a pinball machine. 


   The study of Artificial Intelligence, or A.I., allows another approach to the subject. British computer scientist Alan Turing (died 1954) thought that the human brain must be a machine – and that as such we should be able to emulate brains with computers. Therefore, he reasoned, computers can be intelligent. He invented what is known as the Turing Test, which became the bar for testing artificial intelligence. No computer has passed it yet.

   However, as Jeff Hawkins with his associates of Numenta Inc. (Donna Dubinsky and Dileep George), have noticed, most computers are not modelled on the human brain. After studying the brain and finding it naturally hierarchical in its recording, organizing and contextualizing of information, Hawkins and his associates came up with the invention of the Hierarchical Temporal Memory (or HTM). From the Numenta Inc. website, we find this explanation: --


“Hierarchical Temporal Memory (HTM) is a technology that replicates the structural and algorithmic properties of the neocortex. HTM therefore offers the promise of building machines that approach or exceed human level performance for many cognitive tasks.”

   The HTM is a memory system that doesn’t just perform a function, but can learn from the past, infer causes and make predictions. This sounds frighteningly promising.

   But what would it mean if a machine could consistently beat the Turing test?


Alan Turing

   I would like to reverse Turing’s reasoning: the human brain is a machine; therefore we can emulate brains with computers; therefore, what we previously considered to be intelligent is in fact a machine. The idea here is that rather than man creating artificial intelligence, I propose that man is artificial intelligence.

   In Mary Shelley’s fiction, Dr. Frankenstein created a dangerous automation that reacted to external stimuli with little rumination. Upon discovering this, the townspeople reacted dangerously to it with little rumination.

   Later, I will show that this idea is not new.                       


   What we call the evolution of ideas shows evidence in itself of the absence of evolution in humans. This is because a distinction between the ideas and their carriers becomes apparent. How many of us actually understand Einstein’s general theory of relativity? What percentage of the population, I wonder. Most of us know the catch phrases associated with it, sayings like ‘everything is relative.’ Einstein himself saw this when referring to the genius Jan Smuts. In a recent article of The Beacon, Ivan Kovacs says:


“Albert Einstein who, after reading Smuts’ Holism and Evolution, wrote that two mental constructs will direct human thinking in the next (now present) millennium, his own mental construct of relativity and Smuts’ holism. He further remarked that Smuts was ‘one of only eleven men in the world’ who conceptually understood his Theory of Relativity.”


Jan Smuts

    Similarly, how many people are really familiar with Charles Darwin’s theories? Many people faultily sum it up with, “We evolved from apes.”

   What people do know well is what ideas are up-to-date. We know what we are supposed to believe these days, and what terminology to use.

   In Islam, there is an old metaphor of the donkey. A donkey is a beast that can carry many books on its back but it cannot use them. It cannot read, let alone understand the information. The masses of humanity are not unlike the donkey. The belief that there has been increased development is based on the development of the ideas, rather than their carriers. Instead of change, we have generally remained constant as receivers—not necessarily users—of information. Here is an extract from the science fiction book Venus Plus X, by Theodore Sturgeon:


“He remembered a thing he had read somewhere: was it Ruth Benedict? Something about no item of man’s language, or religion, or social organization, being carried in his germ cell. In other words you take a baby, any colour, any country, and plank it down anywhere else, and it would grow up to be like the people of the new country. And then there was that article he saw containing the same idea, but extending it throughout the entire course of human history; take an Egyptian baby of the time of Cheops, and plank it down in modern Oslo, and it would grow up to be a Norwegian, able to learn Morse code and maybe even have a prejudice against Swedes. What all this amounted to was that the most careful study by the most unbiased observers of the entire course of human history had been unable to unearth a single example of human evolution. The fact that humanity had come up out of the caves and finally built an elaborate series of civilizations was beside the point; say it took them thirty thousand years to do it; it was a fair bet that a clutch of modern babies, reared just far enough to be able to find their own food and then cast into the wilderness, might well take just as long to build things up again.” (Pages 33, 34.)


   Ouspensky the Russian occultist had trouble with this idea when his teacher Gurdjieff presented it to him at the beginning of the First World War. In Ouspensky’s book, In Search of The Miraculous, he relates the conversation: --


   ‘ “For a man of Western culture,” I said, “it is of course difficult to believe and to accept the idea that an ignorant fakir, a naïve monk, or a yogi who has retired from life may be on the way to evolution while an educated European, armed with ‘exact knowledge’ and all the latest methods of investigation, has no chance whatever and is moving in a circle from which there is no escape.”

   ‘ “Yes, that is because people believe in progress and culture,” said G. “There is no progress whatever. Everything is just the same as it was thousands, and tens of thousands, of years ago. The outward form changes. The essence does not change. Man remains just the same. ‘Civilized’ and ‘cultured’ people live with exactly the same interests as the most ignorant savages. Modern civilization is based on violence and slavery and fine words. But all these fine words about ‘progress’ and ‘civilization’ are merely words.”’


   Most people I’ve discussed this idea with agree with to an extent, but not all the way. More especially, they would not go as far as to believe it applies to them. In fact, everybody you ask will no doubt say they are individuals. It would be most individual to admit you are not.

   But the conviction of occultists like Gurdjieff is that for the most part humans have very little free will. His proposition is that the vast majority, educated or not, are controlled almost exclusively by external influences, and therefore could be called machines.

   Alice A. Bailey, an English occultist around the same time, in her Esoteric Psychology Volume 2. gives us five definitions of the human personality, to be considered sequential. The first one runs: --


A personality is a separated human being. We could perhaps say equally well a separative human being. This is the poorest and most loosely used definition; it applies to common usage and regards each human being as a person. This definition is consequently not true. Many people are simply animals with vague higher impulses, which remain simply impulses. There are those also who are primarily nothing more or less than mediums. This term here is used to apply to all those types of persons who go blindly and impotently upon their way, swayed by their lower dense desire nature, of which the physical body is only the expression or medium. They are influenced by the mass consciousness, mass ideas, and mass reactions, and therefore find themselves quite incapable of being anything definitely self-initiated, but are standardised by mass complexes. They are, therefore, mediums with mass ideas; they are swept by urges which are imposed upon them by teachers and demagogues, and are receptive—without any thought or reasoning—to every school of thought (spiritual, occult, political, religious, and philosophical). May I repeat they are simply mediums; they are receptive to ideas which are not their own or self-achieved.”


   Gurdjieff agrees with the above, but puts it in another way:


“Man has no individuality. He has no single, big I. Man is divided into a multiplicity of small I’s.

   “And each separate small I is able to call itself by the name of the Whole, to act in the name of the Whole, to agree or disagree, to give promises, to make decisions, with which another I or the whole will have to deal. This explains why people so often make decisions and so seldom carry them out. A man decides to get up early beginning from the following day. One I, or a group of I’s, decide this. But getting up is the business of another I who entirely disagrees with the decision and may even know absolutely nothing about it. Of course the man will again go on sleeping in the morning and in the evening he will again decide to get up early. In some cases this may assume very unpleasant consequences for a man. A small accidental I may promise something, not to itself, but to someone else at a certain moment simply out of vanity or for amusement. Then it disappears, but the man, that is, the Whole, has to meet them. People’s lives often consist of paying off the promissory notes of small accidental I’s.”


   This admittedly seems too black and white. But as said, Alice A. Bailey listed five stages all up of a human personality, from automation to master. As they proceed, union of the various parts of the man would be achieved. Eventually, union of personality and soul would come about, thus constituting an intelligent being. Think of the word individual as something like indivisible.

   It is interesting, in this light, that the word yoga is usually translated as ‘union.’ It directly comes from yuj, in Sanskrit, which means ‘yoke,’ as in the yoke that holds bullocks together when ploughing fields.   

   But until (and unless) such union happens, man is (as AAB said) but a negative medium for external forces. Gurdjieff states it plainly: in order to do, first you have to be. In Ouspensky’s book, Gurdjieff’s followers asked him things like, ‘How do we stop war?’ Constantly, he returned to the point that we have to get rid of the illusion that we are able to do anything. “Things just happen,” he said. That is, they happen through us. “Nobody does anything.”

   But he did allow for the possibility of evolution. “Everything in the world,” he said, “from solar systems to man, and from man to atom, either rises or descends, either evolves or degenerates, either develops or decays. But nothing evolves mechanically. Only degeneration and destruction proceeds mechanically. That which cannot evolve consciously—degenerates. Help from outside is possible only in so far as it is valued and accepted, even if it is only by feeling in the beginning.”

   Consider all of this in the light of Climate Change and the constant presence of wars in our or any other time. Consider Jerusalem as a knot of misunderstood forces in which anyone who enters into its vicinity become unconscious tools of such forces. Consider, too, how many times revolutionaries have become the monsters they intended to overthrow. ‘We cannot do anything,’ insists Gurdjieff. The idea is not preposterous.


   Still, the idea that we are forms of artificial intelligence feels incomplete. It is difficult to shake the belief that we are genuinely alive. This could be true (I believe it!) and perhaps it is the general definition of life that is the problem.

   Itzhak Bentov (died May 25, 1979) the Czech born scientist and inventor (known for his holographic model of the universe) speaks for a lesser-known definition of life, which includes even minerals. From Stalking The Wild Pendulum: --


   “We may at first have trouble trying to visualise a rock or an atom as a living thing because we associate consciousness with life. But this notion is just a human limitation; a rock may also have difficulty in understanding human consciousness. At present we restrict the term ‘living beings’ to beings that can reproduce. This, I believe, is quite arbitrary. We seem to project our own behaviour onto other systems, by saying that starting from the atom and going to larger aggregates there is no ‘life,’ and then suddenly, when the aggregates of atoms have reached a certain stage of organization, ‘life’ appears, because we can recognise our own behaviour in it. My basic premise is that consciousness resides in matter; put another way, all mass (matter) contains consciousness (or life) to a greater or lesser extent. It may be refined or primitive.”


   His view is not unique. The Theosophist  H.P. Blavatsky said as much many years earlier in her The Secret Doctrine: --


   “Not only the chemical compounds are the same, but the same infinitesimal invisible Lives compose the atoms of the bodies of the mountain and the daisy, of man and the ant, of the elephant and of the tree which shelters it from the sun. Each particle—whether you call it organic or inorganic—is a Life.”


   Alice A. Bailey devoted her book The Consciousness of The Atom to studying this theory. She wrote: “In looking over one scientific book last week it was discouraging to find the author pointing out that the atom of the chemist, of the physicist, of the mathematician, and of the metaphysician were four totally different things. That is another reason why it is not possible to be dogmatic in dealing with these questions.”

   Proceeding, she gives us Thomas Edison’s view on the issue: --


“[…] I want to point out what Edison is reported by an interviewer as having said in Harper’s Magazine for February 1890, and which is enlarged upon in the Scientific American for October 1920. In the earlier instance he is quoted as follows: --

    “‘I do not believe that matter is inert, acted upon by an outside force. To me it seems that every atom is possessed by a certain amount of primitive intelligence. Look at the thousands of ways in which atoms of hydrogen combine with those of other elements, forming the most diverse substances. Do you mean to say that they do this without intelligence? Atoms in harmonious and useful relation assume beautiful or interesting shapes and colours, or give forth a pleasant perfume, as if expressing their satisfaction … gathered together in certain forms, the atoms constitute animals of the lowest order. Finally they combine in man, who represents the total intelligence of all the atoms.’


   Finally, I would like to include a section from Dr Annie Besant’s book A Study In Consciousness, where she shows us the experiments of Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose, pioneer of the investigation of radio and microwave optics, plant scientist, and who is considered one of the fathers of radio science.

   She begins:


‘Professor Jagadesh Chandra Bose, M.A., DSC., of Calcutta, has definitely proved that so-called “inorganic matter” is responsive to stimulus, and that the response is identical from metals, vegetables, animals and—so far as experiment can be made—man.

   ‘He arranged apparatus to measure the stimulus applied, and to show in curves, traced on a revolving cylinder, the response from the body receiving the stimulus. He then compared the curves obtained in tin and in other metals with those obtained from muscle, and found that the curves from tin were identical with those from muscle, and that other metals gave curves of like nature but varied in the period of recovery.



(a) Series of electric responses to successive mechanical stimuli at intervals of half a minute, in tin. (b) Mechanical responses in muscle.


‘Tetanus, both complete and incomplete, due to repeated shocks, was caused and similar results accrued, in mineral as in muscle.

   ‘Fatigue was shown by metals least of all by tin. Chemical reagents, such as drugs, produced similar results on metals with those known to result with animals—exciting, depressing, and deadly. (By deadly is meant resulting in the destruction of the power of response.)

   ‘A poison will kill metal, inducing a condition of immobility, so that no response is obtainable. If the poisoned metal be taken in time, an antidote may save its life.



Effects analogous to (a) incomplete and (b) complete tetanus in tin, (a’) incomplete and (b’) complete tetanus in muscle.


(a) Normal response. (b) Effect of poison. (c) Revival by antidote.


   ‘A stimulant will increase response, and as large and small doses of a rig have been found to kill and stimulate respectively, so have they been found to act on metals. “Among such phenomena,” asks Professor Bose, “how can we draw a line of demarcation and say: ‘Here the physical process ends, and there the physiological begins’? No such barrier exists.”’

  (These details are taken from a paper given by Professor Bose at the Royal Institute, May 10th, 1901, entitled “The response of Inorganic Matter to Stimulus”)


   The proposal of this article is that humans are of a quality of intelligence – or awareness – that might as well be artificial. No matter how complex, there is little free will involved. We are possessed by involuntary daydreams and physical sloth, driven by emotional reactions, mindless gossip and fear. However, there is real life there, as there is with any form of matter. This gives us the implied potential and hope.

   It would be natural to think that education – or increased knowledge – is what is needed to bring about real consciousness and free will. But this is an illusion, remembering the analogy of the donkey. The task is to create a stable point of consciousness, a permanent ‘I,’ which does not fall asleep in daydreams or emotional concerns every few seconds.

   Ouspensky relates how Gurdjieff saw the issue: “ ‘There are,’ he said, ‘two lines along which man’s development proceeds, the line of knowledge and the line of being. In right evolution the line of knowledge and the line of being develop simultaneously, parallel to, and helping one another.’” And further: --


   “ ‘People understand what ‘knowledge’ means. And they understand the possibility of different levels of knowledge. They understand that knowledge may be lesser or greater, that is to say, of one quality or of another quality. But they do not understand this in relation to ‘being.’ ‘Being’ for them, means simply ‘existence’ to which is opposed just ‘non-existence.’ They do not understand that being or existence may be of very different levels and categories.”


  To illustrate the point he gives the following example:


   “ ‘[…] In Western culture it is considered that a man may possess great knowledge, for example he may be an able scientist, make discoveries, advance science, and at the same time he may be, and has the right to be, a petty, egoistic, cavilling, mean, envious, vain, naïve, and absent-minded man. It seems to be considered here that a professor must always forget his umbrella everywhere.’”


   To return to the idea of most of us being donkeys, here is a quote from Wikipedia in relation to the word yoga: “Outside India, the term yoga is typically associated with Hatha Yoga and its asanas (postures) or as a form of exercise.    


   There are many systems of union, or of ‘increasing one’s being’. Given old word associations, it is important to distinguish between the word yoga with its different usages, and what it originally signified. It is not merely stretching exercises, and it includes more than the one type of yoga called Hatha, whose emphasis is the development of the physical body. Gurdjieff called striving toward union ‘the work’, or The Fourth Way. Bailey called it either yoga or practical occultism. The Golden Dawn called it magic. Religious mystics called it prayer or worship. We might here define it as taking the ‘artificial’ out of ‘artificial intelligence’. 

   If we cannot ‘do’ anything externally, maybe we can strive for the opposite. That is—stop letting external influences do things through us. Consider vows of silence and fasts. Consider ‘turning the other cheek’. Consider how Buddha stopped everything and sat under a tree.

   William Burroughs called humans ‘The Soft Machine.’ In his novel Junky he describes one of the many times he tried to kick his heroine addiction. The more he holds out against the junk craving, the more time he spends in bars, drinking; the less of a junky he is, the more of a drunk he becomes. Soon he is such a sloppy drunk, always getting into trouble, that his friend Ike says, “You’re drinking, Bill. You’re drinking and getting crazy. You look terrible. You look terrible in your face. Better you should go back to stuff [junk] than drink like this. ”

   It is as if in trying to evict one demon from the front door, another inches its way in the back door. Burroughs was an empty house, and nature hates a void. He – and all the rest of us -- could do nothing significant so long as the void existed. (The void represents the absence of consciousness.)

   Now reflect on the Russian Revolution. Think of William Burroughs as Russia. Heroin is the Tsar, and alcohol is the Bolsheviks. One external (and harmful) influence swapped for another. In an attempt to ‘do’ something, the same result occurred. Whether communism works or not is completely beside the point. If there is no free will psychologically, there could never be any politically. This would explain the occurrence of new governments eventually resembling the old ones.  

   Alice A. Bailey had the interesting idea that humans themselves are ‘atoms’ in the greater life we call planet Earth (humans constituting the brain). It should be noted that almost all occult traditions – including all those mentioned above – have advocated group work as preferred to solitary work. When considering this, coupled with Bailey’s idea of a macrocosmic being, we can imagine a group of people constituting the ‘point of consciousness’ or the permanent ‘I’ in the planet. This would imply that as ‘being’ increases, ‘doing’ becomes correspondingly more possible—and also less harmful.

   It is interesting, then, that issues (and groups) relating to Climate Change call more for working on ourselves instead of others, and for the ‘stopping of doing’ (for example, resisting convenience in regard to the technologies that burn fossil fuels). The same applies to war. The same again applies to the Economy: the argument there is whether to leave it alone as a rising and falling ‘automation’ that controls us without intelligence (the free market system)—or not.


      automated ecomomy






http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/turing/#MacInt (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) Turing.

Hierarchical Temporal Memory Concepts, Theory, and Terminology, Jeff Hawkins and Dileep George, Numenta Inc. 2006 (from www.numenta.com)

The Beacon, October-December Issue, 2009. Jan Smuts And The Concept of Holism, by Ivan Kovacs.

Theodore Sturgeon, Venus Plus X, 1960, (pp. 33-34)

Ouspensky, In Search of The Miraculous, 1949 (pp. 51, 59-60, 65. 70.)

Alice A. Bailey, Esoteric Psychology Volume 2. (page 264.)

Alice A. Bailey, The Consciousness of The Atom, 1922, (pp. 36, 38, 39.)


Itzhak Bentov, Stalking The Wild Pendulum. 1977. (Page 78.)

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Sectret Doctrine I. 5th adyar edition.    (page 304.)

Annie Besant, A Study In Consciousness, 1907, (pp. 109-112.)   quoting a paper by Professor Bose at the Royal Institute, May 10th, 1901, entitled The response of Inorganic Matter to Stimulus

William Burroughs, Soft Machine, 1961, (the title.)

William Burroughs, Junky, 1953 (page 128.)

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META-DETECTIVE > by Levin A. Diatschenko > BOOK EXCERPT

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UNDERGROWTH is proud to preview an excerpt from the new novella META-DETECTIVE by regular contributor LEVIN A. DIATSCHENKO.author of The Man Who Never Sleeps, comes another surreal adventure that experiments with reality.

META-DETECTIVE is a new illustrated novella is a cross between pulp fiction detective classics and Greek mythology. 

For more information purchasing a copy of the book, contact Wolfty & Cliff Publishing


A Novella


Levin A. Diatschenko


   EVERY now and then I jam up like old guns do. That’s what must have happened. I’d been stuck for a while, perhaps on some thought, because when I finally looked up there was a man in my office. I wondered just how long he’d been sitting there. To compensate for having been caught off guard, I jumped up and paced around the room.
   “Evening,” I said. “Have you been waiting long?”
   “Twenty-five years,” said the man.
   The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end. The colour of the man -- his clothes and skin – was black and white with shades of grey. He might have stepped out of an old movie. His expression was fixed as if he were being strangled. I hoped he was joking about the twenty-five years.
   “Sorry about that,” I said. “What can I do for you?”
   “I need you to investigate a murder.”
   “Mine. Twenty-five years ago today.”
   “Hold it,” I said. “You’ve been dead for twenty-five years and you wait till now to do something about it?”
   “A murder is still a murder.”
   He opened his jacket and revealed the gaping wound in his solar plexus. It looked like the work of a shotgun fired at point blank.  
   “Good God!” I said. “Cover it up.”
   “Will you help?” he asked.
   “Give me some details.”
   “Judging by your reputation I’d say you might be acquainted with some of them. Here.” He pulled out a piece of paper from his coat, and handed it over.
   It was a list: Seth Minx, Changy Collins and the Doyley Collective. He was right; these were all people I’d either crossed in the past, or at least knew by reputation.
   “Which one of them is guilty?” I asked.
   “They were all involved in one way or another,” said the dead man.
   “If you know that, then what is there to investigate?”
   “See, I want to find out who Doyley was taking orders from -- who is the new fellah taking my place?”
   “As Doyley’s boss?”
   “As number one in this town.”
   “So you’re using me for revenge.”
   “It’s up to you,” he said, “I get my revenge, yes. But you get the glory of putting Doyley and his lot away. I’m a first-hand witness to murder. You may not get this chance again. The police have been trying to put Doyley away for years.”
   “How do you know that?”
   “He used to work for me. That’s the thing: I’ve returned from the grave for a short time only, just to point my finger.”
      “What do I care whether Doyley is caught?” I asked. “Why don’t you go to the police with this?”
   “It’s well known that you’re a lackey for the police. And I’d rather deal with them indirectly.”
   “Now that hurt my feelings,” I said. “You’ll have to give me more incentive than that.”
   “How about your citizenship papers?” he smiled.   
   He was obviously a man of rank. One hears stories about how the Mob still give orders from prison … and now apparently from the grave as well. But I wasn’t one to fight their fight.
   “Hold it a second,” I said, considering.
   I turned and walked out of a door that was behind my desk and that opened out directly to the street. Reserved for a moment like this, it was in a foundation wall.
   You see, opening the door caused the whole room to collapse in on itself. The room shrunk and shrunk until it was but a small box with the dead mobster trapped inside.
   Now I was holding the cards.
   I heard the ‘undead’ man from inside. “You filthy animal!”  
   “Now my opportunity isn’t going anywhere,” I explained. “And don’t try to break out, because that will cause the box to shrink even farther, until space-time bends inwards and a black hole is created. Get it?”
   “I won’t testify to anything,” was his muffled response.
   “Then you’ll never get out of that box either.”
   I heard lots of swearing.  
   This is one of the perks of not having a permanent office.


   “What’s your name,” I demanded. “Speak up or I’ll kick another plank loose!”
   “You bastard!” he called. “The name’s Blacky. And nobody gets away with crossing me!”
   I’d heard of him. He had lived in the oldest and most central suburb, known as The Circle. It had very old buildings – the town’s first -- and was populated by wealthy families whose parents were the founders of the city. Blacky’s kind were like surrogate royalty. Much of the town’s money flowed back to its centre, glorifying The Circle and keeping it in good repair. The residents of The Circle were generally unintellectual and frivolous.
   A percentage of them – Blacky included – were vicious about self-preservation. They formed one of the two major political parties in the city – the Lyons Party. These were the Old Guard and they were determined to keep their ‘earth’ suburb, as it was called, as the town’s centre.     
   Since Blacky’s death, someone else had stepped up and taken the position of underworld boss. But this new person’s identity was shrouded in mystery.  
   I lugged the box up to ‘reception’.
   “Sinthia,” I said.
   My secretary was sitting on a stool, keeping watch at a broken window. The window had been like that since we found this disused warehouse and converted one of its rooms (which was now a box) into an office.
   “What happened?” she asked.
   “We’re homeless again,” I said. “Take this box over to The Pegasus – don’t let it out of your sight.”
   “Okay Sully. Where are you going?”
   I was putting on my coat and hat. “To gather up the usual suspects for a line-up. The Pegasus has rooms upstairs; get one and move all our stuff there.”
   She gave me a hard look. She always did, when I made her work late. “That’s going to cost money,” she said. “For the room.”
   I turned my back on her, pretending not to hear. I’m always reminding myself not to turn my back on her. She’s the violent type.

   The streets were soft and gluggy and the night was warm. I had to walk quickly because I was sinking into the road up to my knees. As I continued, a bullet whizzed past my ear. This was not uncommon in this part of town; I lived in the Second Ring. Each suburb was circular and ever widening, with The Circle as the centre. The Second Ring was symbolised as the ‘water’ suburb. It was the second-oldest part of town and a ghetto. Street gangs were common. So were riots. Stray bullets were just a part of the weather.  
   I ran out of wind in front of a little neon-lit pub.
   I entered and spotted an acquaintance. “Hello Split-ends.”
   “Hello Sully.”
   Split-ends was a dirty old man in a trench coat. The first image that comes to mind is fairly accurate. He believed that fingers were actually the split ends of arms, the same as the ends of hairs. So he chopped his hands off every once in a while and they grew back longer each time. He kept his arms rolled up in his trench coat.
   “What brings you here my brother?” he asked me.
   “I need your services for a moment. Will you come with me to Bonzo’s?”
   “Why not?” he said. “If you’re paying.”
   Bonzo’s is a highbrow restaurant on the main drag. If the goons from the list weren’t there, somebody who knew where they were would be.
   Split-ends and I got a table against the far wall under a painting of the Two Ronnie’s. I looked around for the highest rollers in the room. There was one fellow in particular I wanted to find, but I didn’t know what he looked like. Split-ends ordered a steak and some wine, the likes of which I couldn’t afford.
   “See that table over there, Split-ends?”
   “Them with the top hats?”
   “That’s right. Get me the fat one’s wallet.”
   Split-ends wriggled around in his seat for a moment and then his hand came up and dumped a wallet on the table.
   I opened it. The driver’s licence confirmed my suspicion that the man was a boyfriend of Seth Minx. ‘Block Head’ was his tag. I’d read in the paper only two days ago that him and Minx had been seen near the scene of a robbery. There was also about three hundred dollars, which I took for myself.
   “Split-ends, check if they’re armed.”
   Split-ends’s arms unravelled from his coat like two fire hoses. They then crept through the restaurant, under legs and tables, like cobras. Over the next few minutes Split-ends kept dumping revolvers and knives on the table in front of me. There were six guns already when I asked: “Is that it?”
   “That’s it,” he said. Then his hands turned to the job of filling his mouth full of food.
   I tossed Split-ends a fifty-dollar note from the three hundred.
   “Cover me,” I instructed. “I’ll give you the usual signal.”
   I approached the table of Seth Minx’s boyfriend. They looked up sneering.
   “Nice to know I’ve got a reputation,” I said.
   “Just what do you mean interrupting our supper?” said one.
   “I need information.”
   “Piss off!” spat Block Head, slamming his brick-like fist on the table.
   “I suggest you cooperate before I have to put my dukes up.”
   Smiling, they each reached for their weapons … only to find empty belts and pockets.
   I tipped my hat and Split-ends, from across the room, pushed a gun barrel into the back of Block Head. He looked over his shoulder.
   “Damnit!” he whined. “Split-ends is here, isn’t he?”
   I smiled. “Now, I have a question to ask. If it isn’t answered, Split-ends puts a hole in you.”
   They sat scowling.
   “Where’s Seth Minx?”
   “I don’t kn…” began her boyfriend.
   Split-ends gave him a poke with the gun.
   “She’ll be here in an hour.”
   “Thanks for your cooperation.”
   I turned my back on them and left the restaurant. Split-ends, according to our usual routine, would keep the gun on them until I left. The mobsters would then be left to guess which one of the customers was Split-ends.
   I’d been waiting outside for fifteen minutes when I saw Seth Minx hopping out of a car and striding towards the restaurant.
   “Hold it, Seth!” I called.
   The second she saw me she kicked off her high heels and bolted.  
   We wound in and out of side streets and alleyways until it became like a ride at the show. I’d just lean one way or the other to turn and slide around the bends. She was just ahead and I heard her cursing about her dress getting ruffled.
   Suddenly there was a wall.
    When I climbed to my feet, she had vanished.   
   “Bollocks,” I said, looking around dizzily.
   In the distance I heard gunfire.  
   The only accessible door I could see was to the lodge of some kind of clubhouse. On the door was an emblem of an equal -armed cross and a serpent spiraling from the centre to the periferal. I straightened myself up and knocked on the big double doors.
   A Frater in a ceremonial robe answered the door. “Lately I’ve been having strange dreams,” he said.
   “I’m sorry, sir,” I replied after hesitating. “I’m not a member.”
   “Oh.” The man was in his thirties. A long nose stuck out from under the hood he wore.
   “I’m a detective,” I explained. “Did a woman come through here only minutes ago?”
   “Absolutely no women are admitted here!” he said.
   “No? Sorry to have bothered you.”
   He snorted and closed the door.
   I paced around, trying to figure out where she could have gone. I looked up theorising that she might have shed her gravity and floated away. There was no trace in the sky.
   An idea popped into my head. I knocked on the doors again.
   A woman, dressed exactly the same as the previous man, answered. “Yes?” she snorted. “You again.”
   I hesitated.
   “Yes, what do you want?” she persisted. Her nose also stuck out under her hood.
   “Hello,” I said. “Sorry for the bother but did a man come in just minutes ago?”
   “Don’t be ridiculous, this is a women-only society. Didn’t I tell you that a moment ago?”
   “But just now you were a man.”
   “Don’t be absurd,” she said.
   “Look, did a woman come here just before me?”
   “A member might have.”
   “Can you show me to her?”
   “Certainly not. We protect our members here. That is, of course, if one did come.” She began closing the door.
   “Hold it!” I glowered.
   Another woman appeared, dressed similarly to the first one. The new woman was grey-haired and stern. “Is there any bother here, Sister?” she asked.
   “How do you do,” I said. “I’m a detective. A non-member may have penetrated your meeting.”
   Both Sisters started.
   “A non-member?” said the first. “But they all gave the password.”
   “Are you aware that only minutes ago you were a fraternity?” I asked.
   “Well, sir,” said the grey-haired woman. “Don’t you think we would remember such a thing?”
   “I would hope so,” I said, “nevertheless, this lady was a man  the last time she answered the door.”
   Both women looked uncertain. But then the grey-haired one said: “No. No, I can’t believe that our whole lodge could have changed sex without me noticing. I’m sorry sir.”
   “Besides,” rejoined the younger woman. “The so-called impostor of yours gave the password.”
   “So a woman did arrive just before me,” I said.
   Begrudgingly, the young woman said, “Well, yes.”
   “How exactly did she give the pass?” the older woman asked her Sister.
   “Well, let’s see,” the young woman began. “I opened the door and said ‘Lately I’ve been having strange dreams.’ She said she must have knocked on the wrong door. I closed it and he knocked again…”
   “He?” said the older woman and I in unison.
   “Oh dear. I mean she.”
   “Please continue Sister,” said the older woman.
   “When I opened it, she said to me, ‘Lately I’ve been having strange dreams.’ Bound by the tradition, I had to reply: ‘What makes you so sure they were dreams?’ I explained to the fool that I was supposed to say the first line and she was to give the reply. She then said, ‘Go ahead then!’ We repeated the process properly, me giving the first line. I then gave him … I mean her … admittance.”
   “You fool!” said the older woman. “She’s tricked you into revealing the reply. Come in detective.”
   “Come to think of it, I do feel a bit out of sorts,” mused the younger woman.the foyer, the older woman stopped me.


“I’m afraid you can’t enter like that,” she said. “It’s like a muddy person coming into a room with white carpet. You’ll have to change sex.” She pointed to a changing room.
   After I had changed into a woman and donned a spare robe, I was led to a hall where other women in robes of various colours were engaged in a lecture. The older woman was the Mater of the group. She explained that this was a special meeting of twelve Sisters from different lodges. They had never met before now. Consequently, an impostor would not be discovered on looks alone.
   To Seth’s advantage (I found out later) only eleven of the twelve turned up, and so she’d slipped in as the twelfth member.   
   The Mater called everyone to attention.
   “Sisters,” said my host. “There is an impostor among us.”
   The room inhaled sharply.
   “Does nobody remember that we were a brotherhood not one hour ago?”
   All the women looked at each other.  
   “Are you sure?” one woman called out.
   “We’ve been diluted!” exclaimed the older woman. “Like a drop of milk in coffee, the whole sorority…ah…fraternity… has been affected!”
   “Affected how?” called another. “I mean apart from changing sex.”
   I stepped forward. “Well, ah, ladies…” I cleared my throat, so as to get more accustomed to my feminine vocal cords. “The so-called ‘drop of milk’ is a known criminal. As such, all of you here have become criminals to some degree from the moment she joined you.”
   The crowd roared.
   The old woman said, “Silence!”
   The roar softened into a murmur.

   “This is the whole reason we have passwords and so on!” said the old woman. “To avoid contamination I suggest we ‘cut off the hand that offends us’.”
   “How, Sister?”
   “Why, by staying true to the purpose of our organization, of course. We must take our robes off and wash them!”
   As one group entity, we all began the process of washing our robes.
   A person’s past is something he wears as clothing, in the form of memory. It comes with many stains, such as prejudice and biases. The custom of this organization was to ‘strip’ that mental clothing off upon entering the lodge. Then, once inside, its members donned their formal memory/robes. These were all similar, differing only slightly to denote levels of learning. Together they would share the organization’s past, and so form a group identity. Any self-centred thoughts or memories would be left outside. If an incongruous thought were to come inside, it would ‘smear’ itself over all the robes, changing the entire colour scheme.
   Now we were a diluted Group-Seth. Her criminal intentions had spread amongst us, albeit thinly. This, incidentally, changed everyone into women because Seth was female. That much was lucky; it is easier to spot someone changing sex than it is to spot his or her character.
   The members cleared the room and prepared for The Cleaning Ritual. The Mater insisted that I take part in it.

  We re-entered the main room and stood in a circle, facing inwards. On the floor in front of each woman was a large, rough stone. Beside each stone was a bucket of water.
   “Sisters,” said the Mater, “let us shed our outer, worldly identities.”
   Copying the others, I pulled my robe off and held it in my arms. Naked now, we kneeled at our stones.
   “The bucket in front is your heart. You will notice how clear is the water within. This reflects the purity of our motives. It is the cleansing water of Aquarius and sparkles with enthusiasm and aspiration. Take your worldly robe and immerse it in the water.”
   We did so.
   The Mater continued. “The rough stone in front is the elusive philosophers’ stone. It is the ultimate reason underlying all that we do and live for. Note how immoveable and indestructable it is. This sturdy point is the fulcrum that gives strength to the rest of our lives. Dash your personalities on the rocks of Reason!”
   The women took their robes out of the water and wipped them over the rocks.
   “Only in service to humanity do we wash away the selfishness that stains our true spiritual selves. Let us labour.”
   We commenced rubbing the robes against the stones. Due to the roughness, the stones served well as washboards. I laboured vigorously, stopping only to rinse the cloth in the bucket again. 
   “Here,” said the Mater tapping my shoulder.
   When I looked up she handed me a bar of soap.
   “This holy order,” she said, “encourages education. This soap is the product of intelligence. Labour intelligently.”
   The job was easier with the soap and soon the water was brown. I stopped and rung the robe out. Most of the women were finished, too.
   We held the robes up and inspected them. The sky blues and the buttercup yellows, the reds and whites -- all glowed as if the fabric were made of mythological silk.   
   The Mater left hers on her stone and circled the group, inspecting each bucket.
   “Aha!” she called, pointing to one.
   It was the only bucket still with clean water.
   “Here’s the impostor!” said the Mater. “The owner of this bucket.”
   The woman next to the bucket leapt back. “Keep your distance!” she said, as the women surrounded her. “Stay back!”
   She retreated until her back banged against a wall. “I can explain,” she said.
   “You don’t need to,” said one of the women. “Your water is clear because you were unwilling to give up your selfish perceptions.”
   “No,” said Seth. “It is just that I am already pure and so there was nothing to clean.”
   One of the women held up Seth’s robe; it was filthy.
   Seth’s face went pale. “Well … alright then. I’m not a member of your ridiculous cult. What of it?”
   “Restrain her,” said the Mater.
   Seth struggled in vain. Four women dragged her out the door.
   “Wait,” I called. “Let me take custody of her!”
   The Mater tapped me. “Follow me,” she said. “The ritual is not complete.”
   The remaining sisters also followed, taking their robes with them. The Mater led us up to the roof. Along the way, the first woman that I’d met at the door grabbed my arm and said, “Mater told me to give this to you.”
   She handed me something similar to a foldout stand in its folded up form.
   “We only have twelve drying racks,” she explained, “As we weren’t expecting you. You’ll have to carry yours up.”
   On the roof were twelve clothe-drying racks, in the simple shape of the letter T. I set mine up with the others. We then put our robes on the rack for the sun to dry.
   “But it’s still night,” I argued.
   “Yes. Never mind, the sun will rise in three hours.”

cleaning ritual  

The order, of which I was now an honourable member, let me call the police to pick up Seth. I then changed back into my original clothes and sex and rode with her back to the police station.  

  I told Hardy – my connection on the force -- to hold her for me until I returned.
   “What’s this all about, Katonksky?” he grumbled.
   “I need her for a line-up. I won’t be long.”
   Next on Blacky’s list was Changy Collins. He began his professional life as a card counter. Changy enjoyed the skill so much that he later went on to card memorising and other memory feats. Eventually he entered chess tournaments blindfolded. All this mental weightlifting led to strange abilities, such as mesmerism and the like.
   Banned from casinos, he was a professional thief now. His method of escape was to disrupt the unity of a situation. The assailant would then give up, completely baffled as to how Changy got away. To understand a situation is to perceive the ‘unity’ of it. For example, a ‘horse and cart’ make up a working unity. But if you change it, say, to a ‘spider and cart’ the unity of the relationship will be broken. To catch Changy Collins would require an understandable relationship, like a lawman slapping handcuffs on a criminal. I knew this would be difficult. For a start, I wasn’t a lawman.    
   For the last month he’d been sitting in his car staking out a government building. I knew this because I passed him every so often on my way home from the pubs.
   When I accosted him he socked me in the nose and ran.
   “Ow!” My nose dripped blood and my eyes watered.
   I chased him into a park and hurled myself at him -- we rolled across the grass, finally stopping with me on top. Both of us grunted in pain.
   “Now hold on a second,” he said in his monotone voice.
   “Shut your mouth, Changy,” I huffed, dragging him to his feet. “You’re coming with me to the police station.”
   He thrust his steel gaze into my skull. “Why in reason’s name,” he said, “would you want to apprehend a tree?”  
   “I said shut up! I have my own reasons.”
   “But I’m rooted to the ground, Katonksky. Even if I wanted to come with you, I couldn’t.”
   I looked down at his feet and saw that he was indeed rooted to the ground. What I’d earlier taken to be jeans was bark.
   “See my point?” he reasoned.
   I felt quite embarrassed. In the corner of my eye, I saw passers-by laughing at me. Some detective I was!
   Never one to let a lack of logic stand in my way, I persisted.  
    Then I remembered something. It was vague, but I’d told myself earlier that in case of difficulty, I should use my magnifying glass. So I took it out of my pocket and peered at the tree through it...
   And saw a human, named Changy Collins!
   “Shit!” I snapped out of the trance.
   Unity was restored. Consequently, so was my strength. He was easy to drag along now.
  “Hold on,” he said. “You’re making a fool of yourself.”
   I clutched my magnifying glass like a talisman.

   “How many more?” Hardy asked when I got back to the police station.
   “Just one,” I said.
   Hardy patted his comb-over down with his stocky hand. “This isn’t your own private clubhouse, Sully,” he said. “You better have a good reason for this.”

    The last person on the list was the Doyley Collective. Doyley was one man but he had nine bodies. To any stranger he looked like a gang of people, but those who knew him understood that it was one soul spread between them. Doyley was a kung fu expert, specialising in Hydra Style. He used his multi-body technique in the same way you or I would manoeuvre our chess pieces. People knew and feared him by the tattoo of a hydra on each of his forearms. He was the unofficial king of the Second Ring.
   Eight of him were hanging out at his usual hideout, on the first floor of a rundown building. The ninth Doyley was across the street watching for trouble.
   My plan was simple. I knocked out the ninth Doyley with a blackjack. Then I took him to the station. I knew that Doyley would try to rescue himself.
   Two more of Doyley arrived only minutes after.
   “I was standing there minding my own business,” the three Doyleys complained in a gravel voice that was almost a whisper, “and that damned fool detective assaulted me!”
   Hardy shot me a foul look. “Sully claims you attacked first.”
   “The prick!” snarled Doyley. “I didn’t get a chance to resist. I don’t even know what I’m supposed to have done!”
   “Is that true, Katonksky?” the cop asked me.
   “Of course not,” I said. “But while you’re here, Doyley, I need you in a line-up.”
   “Outrageous!” exclaimed the Doyleys. “Officer, I want to charge this bastard with assault!”
   “I have to listen to them ... er ... him, Sully,” said Hardy. “I told you that you need just-cause to go hauling people in.”
   “Alright, charge me,” I said. “But first let me do my line-up. I promise you this will be a big bust. The credit will be yours.”
   “We’ve got nothing if you assaulted him.”
   “It’s his word against mine.”
   “No it isn’t – this guy has high up connections.”
   “Are you a coward?”
   Hardy pulled me aside. “Look Sully. You know you don’t have any citizenship papers. If you’re arrested it won’t matter whether Doyley is in the wrong or not. You could even be killed.”
   “I’m willing to risk it,” I said. “I have a strategy.” It was simple enough. A familiar invader will be killed or exiled by a body’s immune system, but a completely new one hangs around and causes confusion. I didn’t consider myself a disease or anything, more like a new piece of information. If they couldn’t explain me away, I figured, they’d have to incorporate me as part of the town. This being the case, my citizenship papers would come. I didn’t tell Hardy all this, of course.      
   Hardy conceded and ordered Doyley to bring all of his selves to the station for a line-up. After that, he’d charge me on Doyley’s behalf.
   “Why are you so indifferent?” asked Hardy. “What’s your motivation? I don’t understand.”
   “I don’t understand,” I explained. “That’s my motivation.”
   “You’re still on about all that!” he sighed.
   “A detective must never be personally involved in a case. The only case I ultimately seek to solve is the question of my true identity. That being so, I cannot be personally involved in my own life.”
   Hardy scowled. “So, what does Doyley have to do with your true identity?”
   “That is what I intend to find out.”  
   I went over to The Pegasus. Sinthia was sitting in the tiny hotel room that she secured, staring angrily out the window. She’d thrown all our stuff around the room.
   “I’m here to get that wooden box,” I said.
   “I need some money,” she said. “I paid for the room out of my own pocket.”
   “Sure. Just give me a moment.” I dragged the box down the stairs and  whistled a taxi.

   “This is what’s going to happen,” I told the dead mob boss through a tiny crack in the lid, once we were in the taxi. “You’ll pick your killer out in the line-up, and I won’t let this box collapse in on itself. All right?”
   “Whatever you say!” came the muffled reply.
    Seth Minx, Changy Collins and the Doyley Collective were standing side-by-side in the line-up when I returned.
   “What’s that?” asked Hardy, pointing to my box.
   “It’s the witness. Have you got a drill?”
   “What for?”
   “So Blacky can see out.”
   “That name sounds familiar,” noted Hardy. “Come on, there’s a drill in the hardware cupboard.”
   Against my better judgement I went with Hardy.   
   “You know you’re turning out to be nothing but trouble,” he grumbled. “Hurry up, will you! I want to knock off for the night.”
   “Don’t you want to charge me?”
   “I’ll do it in the morning. Don’t leave town, for goodness sake.”
   When we returned to the line-up, all the suspects were gone. In their place was a stranger, standing against the white background. He adjusted his tie.
   “Who the hell are you?” I asked. “And where the hell did they go?”
   The man looked around. “Where’d who go?”
   “Answer my question.”
   “I cannot remember for the life of me,” said the stranger, “how I came to be here. Guess you’ll have to release me.”
   “He’s right,” said Hardy. “I don’t know who this bloke is. Got nothing on him.”
   The stranger smiled and Hardy showed him the door. I cursed but Hardy told me to drop it and go home. “You’re lucky,” he said, “You almost got charged with assault.”
   I don’t need to tell you that I followed the stranger. He led me to a quiet street – just the kind of street I wanted to rough him up in. But then he turned around to face me.  
   “What’s the idea?” I barked, suddenly aware of how unarmed I was.
   “Sully Katonksky, I’ve been hoping we could have a little talk. Oh yes: We knew Blacky would go to you.”
  “Smart bastards!” I said. “I should have guessed it was a set-up.” I stepped back and got ready for trouble. “Well, you succeeded in getting me here. What do you want?”
   “I have some information for you,” he said.
   “Oh yeah?”
   He reached into his pocket and tossed a little black book to me.
   “It comes with a warning,” he said.
   I glanced inside: it was my citizenship papers. “Say on.”
   “You’re a perfectly legal citizen. You were born not far from here in the desert, and you grew up in the Second Ring. You are the only son of a widow.”
  “What happened to my father?”
  “I believe he was from up north. The point is you can stop investigating who you are. You’ve been stirring up a lot of trouble. Seems a stupid thing to do, right here in your own home.”
   They weren’t new papers. A whole past identity was there and just reading the name made that citizen’s memory come flooding into me like a possessing spirit. It made me question all this detective business. I already had an identity, I thought, one that didn’t attract any trouble. It’s right here in the book.  
   “Do yourself a favour,” said the man. “Give the detective game away. We don’t need any in this town.”
   “We? Who are you speaking for, exactly?”
   “You’ve made some powerful enemies. Doyley is not just a thug. He works for somebody in the New Centre. Understand?”
   “Smug son of a bitch.” I bent my knees, took a deep breath and charged at him.
   He split into two people; I flew between them and crashed into the road. Although I was dizzy, I regained my footing and put my guard up.
   Smiling, the two then divided into eleven different people: Seth Minx, Changy Collins and all nine of the Doyley Collective.

   The sun had risen by the time I made it back, bleeding and raw, to The Pegasus.
   Sinthia’s dark mood dissolved when she saw how messed up I was. She was all smiles after that.
   “Go,” I told her. “Get some sleep.”
   “I can’t do that, Sully. Someone’s got to take you to the hospital.”
   “No. I’m fine here.”
   She would not take me to a hospital. I knew very well that if I passed out, she’d finish the job. I told her to bring the box in. I heard Blacky groaning inside. Sinthia covered it with a tablecloth.
   I put my feet up on it and straightened out my broken legs. “There we are,” I said. “This will be my new desk.”
   I took a swig from my hip flask. The morning sunlight streamed through the window and burned my tender flesh. Smoke rose from me like a cigarette.
   “Hey Sinthia,” I said after a while.
   “Did you ever have a dream that seemed so real that, say, if someone does you wrong in it, you wake up angry at them?”
   “Oh sure, Sully. Now and then.”
   “…Then you realise it was just a dream and your anger dissolves.”
   “Sure. What about it?”
   “I don’t know. Sometimes I think I’ll awake from life like that. And all this crap will just dissolve.”
   “Sure, Sully.”
   Why did I even bother talking to her? She was just waiting for me to pass out.

End of Meta-Detective preview

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eleven's picture

Divine Work Wanted

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 The Silent Question


   Enduring silence is uncomfortable because it forces us to hear our own thoughts. Here, we notice the mental dialogue, and that it is undeliberate. We find ourselves trapped in memories or daydreams, or tunes or circular rambling. Upon finding that we cannot stop it, we flick the radio or television on. The noise stops it by drowning it out. We repeat that solution unconsciously every day—or we avoid the problem by surrounding ourselves constantly with noise. Fear of silence, says the theosophist Annie Besant (A Study In Consciousness), is evidence of a weak mind.

   But there’s more to it than that. What we also discover in the silence, and then avoid[1], is the fact that we do not know how we ought to employ our thoughts instead. A radio is a form of employment. The host says, “Listen to this.” Now we have something for our mind to do. If it is a talk show, they give us topics for us to think about, passively. A book is mental employment. Television too.

   So, what we become aware of in the silence is lack of purpose. Silence is a question. This question is what we are avoiding. I propose that as long as it remains unanswered, that question becomes the most common cause of depression (and anxiety).

   I found it interesting when I’d meet someone who was wealthy enough to retire and yet stayed in the workforce, explaining that they “got bored” sitting around. Retired people often have similar attitudes. It is also interesting when people express discomfort at a job which is quiet and there is little to do. “It is better when it is busy,” they say. “Time goes faster.”

   Time, of course, does not actually go faster. The worker simply becomes less conscious of its passing. Less conscious.

   This avoiding of time sounds frighteningly similar to how we avoid silence. It betrays the lack of any purpose outside the purpose of the company we work for. Keep busy and the day will go faster; your life shall wiz by too, with any luck. A job then, drowns out a physical problem the way the radio drowns out a mental one.


 There is something very similar, by degrees, about addiction to drugs and fear of silence/being alone/free time/empty space. All is initially based on avoiding the ‘silent question’. All is based on the realisation of excess, whether it is excess of uncontrollable thought, space, free time, or so forth.

   In his famous book, Junky, William S. Burroughs explains, “You become a narcotics addict because you do not have strong motivations in any other direction. Junk wins by default.” Radio, keeping company with people, television, computer games (or card games, for that matter) and beer – these all win by default too. (‘Keeping company with people’ is here over simplified, but I refer to the people who we stay with rather than being alone, not to close friends and beneficial influences.) 

   “As a habit takes hold,” continues Burroughs, “other interests lose importance to the user. Life telescopes down to junk[2], one fix and looking forward to the next, “stashes” and ‘scripts,’ ‘spikes’ and ‘droppers.’ The addict himself often feels that he is leading a normal life and that junk is incidental. He does not realise that he is just going through the motions in his non-junk activities. It is not until his supply is cut off that he realises what junk means to him.”

   The last line bears another similarity. It is not until our supply of entertainment or company is cut off, that we realise our problem. The majority of our lives have been based upon avoidance of facing this problem, usually unconsciously because we never let our supply of distractions be cut off for too long.

   A close friend of mine could not take being single, and could not bear going home to an empty house. He suffered from restlessness whenever left alone, and from deep depressions when having to live alone. His doctor did not tackle the problem of my friend’s fear of loneliness; the doctor gave him drugs to take away the depression.

   Here is another example I have experienced from three different people (two of them being senior citizens, the other in his mid twenties): At night, when sleeping alone in the silence, they would turn their bedside radios on. The radio would stay on all through the night, helping them sleep.

   These cases sound extreme. However, to find out how much you are affected, cut off your ‘supply’ for a while.


   Notice how jobs control our thoughts as well as bodies. If we feel empty (of purpose) inside, we take on a substitute purpose, in the form of a job. Having a job is a form of possession: we become possessions of our employers. They control us. There are three levels to this possession: physical, in the repetitive tasks, say, of factory workers; emotionally, the boss controlling your emotions through deadlines, rewards and chastisements; then the deepest level is mental possession, when the boss’s concerns inhabit your thoughts. This is complete ‘occupation,’ though not absorption.

   Absorption is when your identity becomes the job. Your personality becomes synonymous with the company. The job, being a substitute soul (for apparent lack of internal one), takes complete ownership – leaving any true soul floating in permanent abstraction.

   But they save us as well. Remember, we complain when there is no work to do. Also, we are glad to employ our thoughts as the boss wishes, not knowing what else to employ our minds with.

   An employer – a boss – is a substitute saviour. 

   I once worked with a man who came to work each morning, vomited in the garden and then happily began the day. Evenings and weekends were spent in marathon drinking sessions, which nearly always ended in his passing out. I truly believe that holding that job in the steel factory saved him from killing himself, for no other reason that he could not drink at work. It wasn’t the boss’s will.

   The idea of a Higher Self, and of Divinity, is endemically linked to the idea of there being a Divine Purpose. It implies that purpose is at the core of sentient forms (as opposed to sentient forms being at the core of purpose). For example, if each human is a cell in a greater being called Humanity – and an even greater being called Earth[3] – then a purpose is alluded to in the way that cells unite into organs and fulfil functions for the health of that organism. This is alluded to in the words, “He In Whom We Live And Move And Have Our Being” (New Testament).

"Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere,” said Edmund Burk, the so-called philosophical founder of conservatism, “and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without... men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.” This quote could cause much mischief, but there is no doubt a point in it.

   Similarly, William Blake said: “I must create a system or be enslaved by another man’s; I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.” If we are connected to our Higher Selves, it stands to reason we become conscious of a creative purpose. A soccer player experiences this when paying attention to the whole team (his ‘Team Self’) during the game; he sees where he fits.

   By this reasoning, an ‘enlightened’ man would inevitably become a ‘Self’-employed man. Furthermore, your boss at work serves as a substitute Higher Self. He is your ‘acting soul’. When we dislike our boss, we are disliking the gap he fills. He or she is a symbol of the void.

   That being said, this does not mean bosses are endemically good, like a spiritual purpose should necessarily be. We must perceive a difference between self-actualisation and Self-actualisation, the one being selfish and the other group-aware. This is why occultists call desire ‘distorted will’. The glimpse of the moon reflected as broken, shimmering shards in the lake.

   Many of us realise that our jobs are not fulfilling any greater and noble purpose. But only a very few of us hate our jobs enough to find them undoable. Either the need for money or fear of being idle is the bigger motivator. Eventually, people give up and become perfect employees.

   The idealist burning to toil at what he considers his ‘calling’ is surely struggling to ‘exorcise’ his employer. He is no longer satisfied with weekends. Until then, no matter how much we dislike it, the most mundane job fills a void and therefore keeps people going.  Here is more experience from Burroughs:


“After a junk cure is complete, you generally feel fine for a few days. You can drink, you can feel real hunger and pleasure in food, and your sexual desire comes back to you. Everything looks different, sharper. Then you hit a sag. It is an effort to dress, get out of a chair, pick up a fork. You don’t want to do anything or go anywhere. You don’t even want junk. The junk craving is gone, but there isn’t anything else. You have to sit this period out, or work it out. Farm work is the best cure.”


Where there is so much suffering that the employee needs to quit, there are two purposes rubbing against each other, causing friction. Unless the aspirant’s perceived purpose is strong enough to attract money and thus fulfil his living needs, he must camp under the ‘Staff’ of another (that is, get a day job). His spiritual cum daily struggle is to manifest his soul’s purpose to the point where it is as powerful and sustaining as his employer’s ‘false’ staff/purpose.


   Alice A. Bailey said this about auras:


“The aura is usually spoken of in terms of colour and of light, due to the nature of the vision of the one who sees and the apparatus of response which is in use. Two words only describe an aura from the point of view of occult knowledge and they are ‘quality’ and ‘sphere of influence.’ What the clairvoyant really contacts is an impression which the mind rapidly translates into the symbology of colour, whereas there is no colour present. Seeing an aura, as it is called, is in reality a state of awareness.”


   We can imagine an employer’s ‘sphere of influence’: a long shadow being cast from him over all his staff and all his outlets or factories. Imagine the employer as a great spirit incarnating in all the extended bodies of his workers, himself the head of a Homo Gestalt of some kind; the head with many limbs. (I have thought of this when my boss asked me to write an email in his name. In effect I was an extension of him.)

   In the case where the employer has himself attained some level of spiritual/psychological advancement, then we would theoretically get no friction, even if the employees were not empty of purpose themselves. We would get synthesis – like an organism or a soccer team. A Prime Minister or President’s aura reaches across his nation, but doesn’t necessarily posses or restrict; it could enable and facilitate. A truly great soul reveals a united vision. Jobs sprout naturally as the people work to realise that vision.


   Prayer could be seen as applying for a job. I don’t mean selfish prayer. True prayer involves discipline, selflessness and regularity – like how jobs do. A prayer is employing one’s thoughts. In Islam, for example, they sound the same prayers in the same order, five times per day. Imagine having to stop daydreaming about your own problems each day at the same time. When we employ something – like a muscle – it becomes stronger and healthier thereby. The Quaker version of prayer is literally to turn towards the silence and look into it. Members and ‘attenders’ of a Meeting sit together in a circle of chairs, in silence, for an hour. They seek The Presence in this silence, and in doing so transform the negative void into a positive portal. The world is put aside, and finally the Quakers’ ears are pricked up to hear the ‘still small voice,’ or the ‘voice in the silence,’ as they call it. If a member is moved to speak to the group, they do so, and then return to silence. To illustrate the positive connotation Quakers give to silence, one common saying runs: “If you cannot add to the silence, it is better you do not speak at all.” 

   We often ask if prayers are answered. If prayer is applying for work, the prayer is answered by itself. In this sense, Religion is not about understanding the universe; it is about participating in the universe. 

   Meditation could also be seen as applying for work. In meditation, you are also reaching inwards for divine purpose. If your equipment is calm enough, your resolve strong enough and your love wide enough, you will apparently sense this Divine Purpose. Those who claimed to have experienced the above behaved as if they’d passed a job interview; they did a lot of work afterwards. And they seemed to have gained the tools to do it. 

   When Christ got the job, he no longer had any time to be a carpenter. Buddha had no time to fulfil the functions of royalty, despite the financial incentive. George Fox and Mahatma Gandhi didn’t mind the jail time; it was part of the job.

   If, when reaching across the void, we ask, “Is there really anything there?” then what we are also asking is: “Is there actually any thing worth doing?”

   If not, we are justified in fearing silence, time and space. Imagine the cells of an organism scattering the way a soccer team disbands when a game is cancelled. Or when employees are laid off. Imagine cancer cells. 


“Junk is a cellular equation that teaches the user facts of general validity. I have learned a great deal from using junk: I have seen life measured out in eyedroppers of morphine solution. I experienced the agonising deprivation of junk sickness, and the pleasure of relief when junk-thirsty cells drank from the needle. Perhaps all pleasure is relief.” (William S. Burroughs.)

[1] A void.

[2] The word ‘Junk’ here used in its connotation as slang for Narcotics. (Levin)

[3] …and so on to a greater being called the Universe, etc.

eleven's picture

Ethereal Estate

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 everyone wants land

THE other day, when visiting my friend the Imam, I questioned him about a detail concerning Islam which has bothered me. The problem was as follows: Moses advocated the Eye for an Eye philosophy in the Old Testament. Succeeding him, in the New Testament, Christ advised moving on from the “Old Times” and now turning the other cheek, blessing those who hate you, and so forth. If we are, then, to accept Mohammed as a further evolution – through the Koran – why is it that the prophet (peace be upon him) has seemingly gone backwards, reinstating the Eye for an Eye attitude?

   My friend the Imam answered firstly that Mohammed did indeed advocate forgiveness. The Koran, he explained, says that if you kill a single human, Allah will judge you as if you have killed all of Humanity. Likewise, if you manage to save one human life, He will judge you as if you have saved the Human Race. The prophet said it was preferable to forgive – however, the victim of violence still retains the right to Eye for Eye justice. This is because the attitude of forgiveness should come from him (the victim), not a law. If it were but a law protecting the perpetrator, and yet the victim still harboured feelings of hurt and resentment; the law would be causing continuing harm to the victim, who perhaps would have to see the killer of his family go free.

   So, the victim of violence has a choice between the Old or New Testament, I suppose. We might sum up that the Koran, then, is the wider viewpoint. The first two books expressing duality, the last resolving them in rhythm.

   Anyway, my friend the Imam then went on to cite some common senses. What if someone breaks into your home and intends violence upon your daughter? Turn the other cheek? My opposition to that was to attempt to restrain the bandit, while not going so far as to maim or kill him: for God would surely not hold either of his children as favourites. A death is a death, to Him.

   My friend the Imam nevertheless has a point, for to ‘restrain’ a bandit still may involve violence. U.N. Peacekeepers, for example, still carry guns.

   However, I found his last point the most interesting. My friend the Imam asked me, “Where did Jesus come to stay?”

   Jesus travelled around a lot, homeless. Finally, he made his home …

   “Nowhere, I suppose!” was my reply.

   And that was my friend’s point.

   Indeed, this is what came of Christ’s harmlessness. He owned no land. He was born in someone else’s stables and died without a possession. Moses had land. His sons and their sons, who fought and killed a good deal, had ever increasing estate. Mohammed, reluctant to fight at first, stopped fleeing and said Islam needs a home! They fought and got one.

   Does this mean that to be a true Christian means to own no land? The only other homeless spiritual leader who comes to mind is Buddha. He had a whole kingdom, of course, but he gave it up. Down the time line, Thibet’s army was pitiable. 

   This alludes to Tolstoy’s so called anarchic version of Christianity.

   Most of us want property. We reach a certain age, get a loan and a car and a partner and start raising children. It is of course, at around that time that we become far too busy to concern ourselves with the problems of humanity; the problems of the family eclipse it. Is the act of owning land endemically violent, even in the passive violent sense? Think of Murdoch and McDonalds and the Catholic Church. Remember the slogan, Ownership is Theft.

   The answer must be no – Christ advocated families! And families obviously need homes. (This musing is rampant with paradox.)

   Nevertheless, the Jews and the Arabs are still fighting to this day. (We cannot rightly say that the Christians are fighting too, because if they are, by definition they are not Christians.) It might also be noted that although Christ died landless, the very empire that killed Him, soon after became the first home of Christianity.

Moreover, in the end we can answer my friend the Imam’s question differently: Christ came to stay in Heaven, by His Father’s side. Which is to say that His real estate was not worldly. It was spiritual estate. Those who hammer their pickets into the Earth, tie themselves to worldly concerns. He hammered his picket in the Heavens.

   I’m aware, by the way, that in the end poeticising homelessness is neither making it desirable nor practical.  

eleven's picture

MAGIC WANDS - Labour, Capital and Magick > by Levin Diatschenko




“I am the sceptre of the rulers of men.”

– Krishna.






Labour is accomplished with the hands, and a man’s will is indicated by what he holds in his hands. It was with his hands that humanity built its great cities and artworks. With his hands he hunted and cultivated food. With her hands she carried the newborn child of the future generations. It was also with his hands that man killed.

   A person does not hold a tool unless he has a purpose. Tools, therefore, indicate purpose itself. If a man holds a gun, his will is to kill; if he holds a hammer, his intention is to build; fingers poised above a typewriter keyboard signify the person’s intent to discourse with humanity. And so on.

   The symbol of all these possible tools or possible purposes – the archetypal symbol of Man’s will – is the rod. The rod is the prototypical concept of a tool. It is a straight line, born from a point. It is a stick that fits in the palm of a primitive hand, held firm by the opposable thumb that makes him human[1]. The line is as straight as his purpose is steady and undeviating. It is simple and unspecified so as to include the concept of will itself, of the freedom will power brings and of order in an otherwise chaotic universe.

   We’ve seen this image as the wand of the magician, who ‘with magic’ -- that is, bypassing the middle processes of building -- manifests his will. It is the staff of the wizard and the club of Hercules.



wizard staff



   Every tool is therefore an incarnation of the rod, though with each specification and change in shape, its power is lessened, less universal, more localised. More ‘hands on,’ we might say. A monarch holds a sceptre, which physically has no application or function. But a monarch rules over an entire kingdom. A wave of his sceptre can cause a city to be built. A shovel, on the other hand, has unquestionable use and definite function. But its wielder has rule only over himself, if that.

   In Initiation, Human and Solar, Alice A. Bailey speaks of actual rods of power, kept by the world’s hierarchy of enlightened Mahatmas. She says:

“ In the sceptre of a ruling monarch at this day is hidden the symbolism of these various Rods. They are duly recognized as symbols of office and of power, but it is not generally appreciated that they are of electrical origin, and that their true significance is concerned with the dynamic stimulation of all the subordinates in office who come under their touch thus inspiring them to increased activity and service for the race.”

   Another reminder of this relationship is the ‘staff’, in the fact that the head of an organization has a ‘staff’ of people working under him (under his purpose).

   The further away from its universality the rod grows, the less visible it becomes. First there are simple modifications, such as having a pick on the end. Eventually, however, the shovel becomes a front-end loader, or a bobcat. They are still operated with the hands, but the simplicity of the straight line is lost in the details. The pen becomes the computer keyboard.

   At the end of a life, the rod becomes simple and visible again, this time as a walking stick held by an old man. He leans on it as if, with his bodily strength fading, the only thing keeping him up is his Will.

   The rods inside the clock understand this metaphor; they are even known as ‘hands’, and they point diligently to the present moment. This is because the only time we can make a difference in the world is now -- that is, the present. The present moment is the fulcrum. We can neither exert our wills in the past nor the future. The watch-face shows that the primeval power in us, symbolised in the rod, never for a second loses sight of the present moment -- as if indicating the door of opportunity. The hands are made completely invisible with digital technology, of course. But they still exist; just as the spirit is now occult, though as existent as ever in humanity[2].


As stated, the hands and their contents indicate the purpose in a person. If there is no purpose, the palms will indicate this too. The absence of the rod leaves a vacuum in the palms that attract ‘reverse rods,’ that is, indications of the absence of will.

   A cigarette, for example, is a reverse-rod. Visually it self-destructs. Practically it is a substitute purpose; the cigarette ‘employs’ the idle hands. It also kills the smoker, whereas will power represents life. The cigarette causes slavery through addiction when rods or tools, free people from bondage (in theory and purpose). A bottle of beer can also stand as a general reverse-rod, and so on.

   A cigar, displayed with pride in the mouth of a tycoon may be an indication of possession -- a desire-demon possesses the smoker. The ‘demon’ has stuck a burning stick out of the ‘door’ to signify that the ‘house’ has been taken.

   Sometimes, the wielder of a rod has little control over it, as it is a rod that reflects the will of a faceless corporation, a market trend or other external patterns. Building a rod like creating a Sabbath, then serving it.

   Those who have no rod are similar to negative mediums. But when they adopt sections of other people’s rods -- in the form of employers -- they are sometimes saved, temporarily at least. I have worked in labouring jobs with people who were quite self-harming when faced with spare time. One such man would drink alcohol until he passed out as a regular habit on his days off. His job perhaps saved him, being that it took up most of his time. Freedom would no doubt have killed him. Such was the vacuum left behind in place of a purpose. 


   Rods control and direct the attention, and therefore the life force. A conductor’s baton directs, holds together and organises an orchestra into a synthetic whole. The baton is here a bridge that the music uses to travel from the world of ideas into the physical world as soundwaves, perceivable by the ears. Perhaps this is why he is called the conductor.

   A lecturer directs his pointer to the blackboard, and the classroom fuses its attention on its contents. The rod creates unity.

   As the hands on the clock point to the present moment, which, in other words means eternity (what Helena P. Blavatsky called “Duration”); so too can a long enough rod encompass all of space, giving all men an opportunity to grab hold. “And,” as Freemasonry puts it, “in all his pursuits […] have eternity in view.” This is the famous lever that can move the world.

   A corporate owner states his will, say, to build some office blocks. His invisible rod fragments and specifies. The architect takes a piece in the form of a pencil. With it he controls and directs what dozens or more workers will then do, with lesser and more specialised ‘branches’ of the rod. It leads from the corporate executive on one end all the way to a worker on the other end.

   But, what of other corporations and competitors? The rod of one nation is only long as its borders. We can see that the world then is made of many long rods, but few reach around the globe. These relatively short rods incarnate as swords and rifles, in order to clash at the borders. Capitalist lances hit against Trade Union lances. Flags are hoisted on rods.

   We can theorise, then, that only one rod is large enough to encompass the world.

Only one, expressed in the ideals of the UN (and its ILO), is within reach of all people all over the world. Christian terminology puts it thus: “Not my will, but Thine be done.” (Perhaps we see an incarnation of this rod as the flaming torch of the Olympic games.)


   In the New Testament we have this warning: “Every plant which my heavenly father did not plant shall be rooted up”.

   The image of the tree is common. Hercules made his club from the branch of a tree. In some tarot card decks, tree trunks, branches and so forth represent the Suit Of Wands. Here they would have knotty staffs like that of a wizard, rather than the smooth man-made rods of a performance magician. Trees reach for the sun, as our purpose is to reach for the light of spirit. They also produce fruits, as does labour.

   When we go against natural law, which is born of a higher will, our rods eventually snap under the pressure of the greater rod. The state of the environment, of mental health, the oil crisis, and many other instances are all evidence that the capitalist system dominating world interrelations today, is breaking against the pressure of natural law.

   This lesson is indicated for us when two magicians challenged Moses. He throws his rod on the floor and it turns into a serpent (which has its own allegories again). The mages of the Pharaoh do the same, but the serpent of Moses swallows their serpents. It then becomes a staff again. All smaller wills are absorbed in the Greater Purpose, illustrating that in the end there is only one life which we all share. A similar principle is shown in Hermes’ caduceus. The dual snakes are controlled and directed up along the winged rod.



   Another relationship that the caduceus and the Moses story reveal is how all areas of human endeavour polarise or develop into a duality. We see this in many things such as capital vs. labour, religion vs. science, Left wing vs. Right wing, Mods vs. Rockers, Men vs. Women, Spirit vs. flesh, and so on. Debates will usually polarise too, no matter what the topic.

   The new third rod that was Moses’ staff indicates how we finally transform the duality into a trinity. The two merge into one. 


   This issue, like all others, comes down to the Seven Rays of which H.P. Blavatsky first spoke of, but which are present in all the scriptures of the world’s religions. The first three factors in considering captital and labour are the first three rays in practice.

1st Ray… This is associated with Life, purpose, universality, will and freedom.


   What is the purpose of any given job? One needs money and work to ‘live’. All jobs must have a fundamental spiritual purpose; making money is a substitute purpose, not a true purpose. People yearn for reason. The first ray also denotes universality, and so too must all produce be for the good of all men.


2nd Ray… is associated with love, wisdom and connecting.


   People yearn to love their work, and to engage in something harmless and beneficial to society.


3rd Ray… is associated with creativity, comprehension and active intelligence.


   One needs to feel the job is being done well, with creativity and intelligence, and employees need to comprehend their tasks. 


Alice A. Bailey illuminates more examples of the triad in this area: --


Capital………………….The Land…………………….Labour



Labour Union……………General Public……………….Management

Money Factor……………Material Factor………………Human Factor


Proffit…………………….Cost of Living………………..Loss



   In his paper, Beyond Employment, The Next Agenda (www.hrnicholls.com.au), Ken Phillips gives us the legal definition of employment, which is very interesting when coming from an occult perspective. Here is a quote:--


  “[W]hen [people] become employed they enter a legal state of being in which the employer has the "right to control" them.

   “When Australian industrial relations courts consider issues they first ensure that employment exists.   
   “The courts, in determining the legal existence of employment, apply several tests, the major one being the "control test". If an employer has no demonstrable "right to control an employee", no legal employment status will be said to exist.

   “This legal right of employers to "control" employees is a throwback to medieval times of feudal England and results in strange behaviours and regulations.

   “A condensed history lesson would show us that prior to the signing of the Magna Carta by King John in 1215 the people who lived and worked in the King's forests were at law the King's chattels. The Magna Carta contractually constrained the King, initially to the benefit of the Lords, but over generations contractual rights were delivered to all citizens limiting the unfettered abuse of the common person.

   “By the time of the industrial revolution people were no longer chattels of the King, but during working hours the master-servant relationship entrenched similar ownership and control powers. Workers were at law ‘servants’, who were effectively controlled by the ‘master’.

   “The progress of common law since the early days of the industrial revolution has diminished the master-servant relationship to the status of the employer-employee relationship where "control" has been reduced to the "right to control". Because employment equates to a legal right to control, social concern over the abuse that can occur when one person has the legal right to control another has caused legislators and institutions to limit and regulate employer power. Trade unions and the industrial relations club find the moral justification for their existence in this legal ‘right to control’ of employment.”


   This sheds some understanding on freemasonry. Traditionally, men who are “free and of good report” may become masons. In modern times, the ‘free’ means little, for the vast majority of citizens in the first world, at least, are not slaves. We are usually free to join unions, or not. We are usually free to vote and take part in democracies. Employment is a different thing than it was. The idea of just, upright and ‘free’ men seems to be a carry-over from times where the employee-employer relationship was closer to servant and master or slave and owner – closer to many third world conditions.

   Phillips goes on to ask the questions: “How is it that in a supposedly civilised society one area of the law aims to enforce income suppression, delivers legal supremacy of one individual over another and consequently institutionalises class stratification? Why, in a society obsessed with equality, is such blatant inequality tolerated and even institutionally enforced?” 

   The above article explains what is called ‘non-employment,’ as distinct from unemployment. His key example is shown by the example of employment placement agencies, where a person’s legal employer is the agency, not the company the worker serves. The agency merely sends the worker to a company, it doesn’t ‘control’ in terms of on-the-job tasks.

   Next, he explains the emerging phenomenon of employee-employee relationships in place of employer-employee relationships. This is where the employer is not actually a person on site, but a faceless company. In this phantom employer’s place is put an employee whose job is to manage instead, but who feels and is very much another employee.

   All this illustrates the further dilution of the control-based and dual relationship.

   Michael Wheeler, in his paper Toward A New Employer-Employee Partnership (www.fiveoclockclub.com/articles), voices a common feeling of today:--


“To be successful, the employer-employee relationship should be a partnership. That means listening to what employees have to say. Sybil Evans, a management consultant, explains that organizations need to establish a "voice system." This means that the employee has a voice in the organization when he or she has a concern, complaint, suggestion, or idea. A national workforce study found that "workers are more loyal to their employers, more committed to doing their jobs well, more innovative, and more satisfied with their jobs when they have more of a say in how to do their work." Since employees must take primary responsibility for their career development, they also must ensure that they are receiving candid, useful feedback from their employers about their potential and contribution.”


   We have, then, the presented duality. On one hand the struggle towards equality in the workplace, which includes the aspiration to feel valued, not just in the workplace but also in society through one’s work. On the other hand there is the holding on to the last measure of control and inequality. Sometimes the inequality is for the purpose of distinctions in favour of maintaining order and coherence, rather than a disorganised chaos. But more so in our time, it is not merely an attempt at maintaining order, but rather of maintaining selfish control of resources, class or office.  

   In freemasonry – and therefore in the older mystery tradition from which it draws its ritual -- we have an answer suggested, in theory at least. For in masonry there is both hierarchical order and equality at the same time (the duality brought into integration), carried forward beneath an underlying and united purpose. This is shown in the two pillars at the front of the temple, Boaz and Jachin; but more especially, it is shown in the purpose of the level:


   “The level demonstrates that we are all sprung from the same stock, are partakers of the same nature, and sharers in the same hope; and although distinctions among men are necessary to preserve subordination, and as a reward of merit, yet ought no eminence of situation make us forget that we are brothers, for he who is placed on the lowest spoke of fortune’s wheel is equally entitled to our regard, as a time will come – and the wisest of us knows not how soon – when all distinctions save those of goodness and virtue, shall cease, and Death, the great leveller of all human greatness, shall reduce us to the same state.” 


   One gets the impression that the workers of King Solomon’s Temple would have been very much devoted to their work, rather than just to their employers or pay checks. This suggests a higher rod being used. King Solomon was likewise a server to a greater ‘employer’. As one lecture (taken from the Old Testament) says, “for God said of King Solomon, ‘He shall build me an house and I shall establish his throne forever.’” Love is therefore added to the workplace.

   I can only think of similar devotion being carried out in volunteer work of a philanthropic nature. There are often no employers as such in these situations, but there are organisers. Where there is the old Western spirit of competition in business and life in general, there is more than one rod being used and these are clashing.

   It is interesting to note that the original Knights of Labour borrowed their rituals heavily from masonry. The Knights of Labor, whether knowingly or not, put the concept of the trinity into practice via the triangle seen on their Great Seal. Wier explains: “The inner-most lines of the equilateral triangle signified humanity, man's relationship to the Creator, and the three elements essential to man's existence and happiness - land, labour and love. They were also emblematic of 'production, consumption and exchange.'”





   Like freemasonry, the culture of the Knights of Labor was fundamentally good-willed, nurturing ethical seeds in its members. That the short-sightedness of some members tainted its spiritual usefulness does not change the beauty of its ritual, and the same can be said of freemasons or even theosophists over the years.

   Samuel Wagar, in his introduction to the now published rituals of the Knights (Adelphon Kruptos), says: “The Knights were a cultural movement as much as a movement of the proletariat, with goals broader than reforming the relations of production. They saw themselves as reworking society on behalf of the working class, and they included both skilled and unskilled, black, white, and brown workers (although, to their lasting shame, not Asian-origin workers), and women and men. They established co-operative enterprise and advocated for arbitration over conflict.”

   He goes on to comment on the ritual: “What is particularly significant about the Adelphon Kruptos, which makes the document so interesting to me, is its sense of the moral power and nobility of labour, the clear portrait of personal worth being measured and validated through productive labour. It is an emotionally resonant restatement of Marx’s cool and intellectual analysis of estranged labour and a determination, through fraternalism, to reclaim labour as ‘noble and holy’ and to reclaim the products of labour for moral reasons.”


   Here is an example of a question they would ask candidates for initiation:


   Worthy Foreman: “By labour is brought forth the kindly fruits of the Earth in rich abundance for our sustenance and comfort; by labour, (not exhaustive), are promoted health of body and strength of mind; and labour garners the priceless stores of wisdom and knowledge. It is the ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ – everything it touches turns to wealth. ‘Labour is noble and holy.’ To defend it from degradation, to divest it of the evils of body, mind, and estate, which ignorance and greed have imposed; to rescue the toiler from the grasp of the selfish is a work worthy of the noblest and best of our race. You have been selected from among your associates for that exalted purpose. Are you willing to accept the responsibility, and, trusting in the support of pledged true Knights, labor, with what ability you possess, for the triumph of these principles among men?”


   If the candidate for initiation answers in the affirmative, he soon receives this welcome:


   Master Workman: “On behalf of the toiling millions of Earth, I welcome you to this Order, Pledged to the service of Humanity.”


   One can note that many of the aims of the Knights were achieved and are in existence today, such as the eight-hour day, bureaus of statistics, safety regulations and so forth. The use of tactics by later labour unions is another example. But more than these is the legacy of their attitude, such as to equal pay for women and the nobility of work, which contrasts sharply with the status anxiety perpetuated in today’s media worldwide.


   Consider ‘the worker’ as a human equivalent of the rod symbol. Almost every adult on Earth is a worker, that is, they go to work each day. I am here using the term ‘worker’ in a more general sense.

   Workers are the ‘hands of humanity’, the part that gets things done. They specialise into carpenters, welders, managers, salespeople, and so forth, just as a rod specialises into a shovel or pencil. As the shovel is still a rod, the management are still workers.

   This indicates in theory what would become of owners in the future. Some workers might have a natural gift for leadership and management. So be it. But let all concerned never lose sight of the worker in them, just as the occultly literate does not lose sight of the rod in all tools.

   Nor of the soul in Man.



   The Argentine Fabrica Recuperada is an example of the Employer and employee categories being changed to mean specialisations/incarnations of ‘the worker’ archetype. Hundreds of factories are being operated and managed by workers without bosses now, after the older class-distinct method caused the factories to close and die at the turn of the century. The workers organise and perform the tasks of bosses themselves, showing the adaptability of a rod.

   It is interesting, too, that while political groups are allying themselves to the movement after the fact; the movement began more out of necessity rather than being motivated by political ideals. I wonder if they would have ever succeeded if it were the creation of political ideology[3].

   Any group that would hinder the Fabrica Recuperada movement now would not be seen to be hindering a ‘communist movement’ or ‘unionist movement’ in the eyes of the world; they would be hindering ‘Argentine citizens’. This is a much stronger rod to go against. By all reports, the workers’ revolution is proceeding very well. Wages are higher now in all companies (often double for the same job) now that the money does not go to the owners.     


   Another enthusiastic initiative to put the soul back in vocation are the Circles of Trust retreats created by Parker Palmer, based on Quaker processes (rituals?). This goes on through his Centre For Courage and Renewal.


Mobius Strip

  Palmer uses the Mobius Strip as an illustrative example of the emerging of duality (or cleavage), and then the following stage of fusion or integration. With a strip of flat paper, the ends joined, we have a ring with an inner side and outer side. Palmer describes the outer side as our social selves and our eventual vocations in the world. But on the other side of the paper, closer to the centre, is the inner side of the ring. This is that hidden part of our selves, concerned with spiritual things. There is a clear duality, and the soul is trapped, even buried in today’s materialistic world.

   But when changing the ring into a Mobius Strip, in which the inner side and outer side become one continuous side, we have the balancing of the opposites. That is, by following one’s true needs, honestly expressing one’s self, we reveal/create our true vocations. The cleavage ends and we create a bridge. In the Argentine factories, we might say the labour was on one side and the owners on the other; now, the workers are the owners, and the owners , workers -- a living Mobius strip. In this example, the original owners did not get past the duality, but instead left the country. However, one could see Tolstoy’s character Levin the wealthy landowner, in Anna Karennina, giving an example on how owners could create the Mobius Strip from their side of the duality. Indeed, Tolstoy’s ‘disciple’ Gandhi did that to an extent in the non-fiction world. 


   “What a long time it can take to become the person one has always been,” says Palmer in his paper Now I Become Myself. “How often in the process we mask ourselves in faces that are not our own. How much dissolving and shaking of ego we must endure before we discover our deep identity – the true self within every human being that is the seed of authentic vocation.”

   Later he says: “That concept of vocation is rooted in a deep distrust of selfhood, in the belief that the sinful self will always be “selfish” unless corrected by external forces of virtue.”

   “Our deepest calling is to grow into our own authentic selfhood, whether or not it conforms to some image of who we ought to be. As we do so, we will not only find the joy that every human being seeks – we will also find our path of authentic service, as Frederick Buechner asserts when he defines vocation as ‘the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need’.”


   The image of the wand of a magician indicates a further stage in some areas, where the work is done with little on-hand labour. Perhaps computers and machines take over the manual tasks (as we used to imagine before sweatshops and third-world labour made ‘robots’ redundant). All that people need to do is ‘wave their wand’, that is, manage the technology that does the work. This would surely mark a significant stage for humanity, when our hands are finally free.

   One road is to fill our fidgeting hands with a ‘reverse-rod’, and kill ourselves. The other way is to plant our rod upright in the earth and climb it, like Jacob’s ladder. In other words, turn our attentions to the deeper and more esoteric pursuits of answering just what work is.

   Krisna teaches: “What is work? What is beyond work? Even some seers see this not aright. I will teach thee the truth of pure work, and this truth shall make thee free."

[1] The secret handshake of the Knights of Labor was a clever recognition of this. The grip signified “Humanity” and involved applying pressure with the thumb before locking it in the grip. “As the thumb distinguishes man from all other orders of creation, and by it alone man is able to achieve wonders of art and perform labor, we always, therefore, approach a member in this way, after which shake hands in the usual way.” (Adelphon Kruptos.)

[2] This is reminiscent of Krisna’s words: “Having pervaded this entire universe with but a fragment of myself, yet I remain.”

[3] It is such passion-infected movements that helped in ending the Knights of Labor, if Samuel Wagar’s view is correct. He states that among the many factors leading to their fall included factions of anarchists, socialists and business unionists clashing within.  

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The Ritual of The Wounded Soldier

The Ritual of The Wounded Soldier – part one


by Levin A. Diatschenko 





The moon was high and full when I reached the place of my appointment. I saw no one, but there in a clearing stood an altar upon which were a dagger, a cup and a lamp. I approached and waited by the light.

   After a short wait, I heard steps. Into the light came two people: one of them, my sponsor whom I knew well, and the other a member of the order I sought entry into.

   “There he is,” said my friend. He was dressed like a Jew of Biblical times, in sandals and a tunic.

   The stranger was dressed as a Roman centurion.

   “Greetings my brother,” said my friend.

   I was previously instructed not to speak, so I did not reply.

   He embraced me, and then kissed my cheek. The sweat on his face suggested he was more nervous than I.

   My friend then stepped aside, and the stranger approached the altar. “Your friend has betrayed you to us,” he said. “For in the light of this lamp, you see the truth, that I am a soldier that would capture you, and force my ways upon you.”

   He took the dagger from the altar and held it in view. “Like all groups, I would have you a student and I a teacher; I would have you listen while I disperse my opinions. I would spread my terminologies to as many as possible, because the more people in agreement with me, the stronger would be my own confidence.”

   “But such a person would himself be very needy,” said my friend to the stranger. “Is he fit to be master of others?”

   The stranger handed the dagger to my friend. “Take this dagger, which is likened to my own tongue. For one like me, who still craves popular approval, can not help but commit violence in selfish speech.”

   With shaky hand my friend held the dagger. The stranger then took the cup and held it under his right ear. “Before I take this neophyte into my ways by the force of my selfishness, be thee his faithful disciple and protect him. Cut off my right ear from my head.”

   My friend then grabbed the soldier’s ear with one hand and began slicing through it with the dagger in his other hand. The whole ear came off. A stream of blood spilled into the cup.

   My friend handed me the knife, saying, “Keep this with you till we next meet.”

    He then wrapped the ear in a silk handkerchief and handed it to me.

   I put the dagger in my pocket and took the ear.

   The wounded soldier then took a handkerchief of his own and pressed it against his wound. His aspect remained calm, as if he’d performed an ordinary chore of duty. He held the cup up.

   “The blood in this chalice,” he announced, “Shall be my sacrifice to the All-Good, so that He know I would give my own blood to serve Him, but not the blood of others.”

The soldier then put the cup back on the altar. He gripped my hand, which was closed around the ear. He closed it tighter.

   “This ear is my sacrifice to you, young candidate, so that in listening to your troubles and perspective, rather than in dictating or diatribe, I shall win your trust. Take this ear now and use it to confide in and share with it your pain. Exhaust too your own dagger-like tongue of all its fears, opinions, histories and hatreds, so that afterwards you too shall be rendered harmless. When this is done, we shall meet again, whereupon we shall be brothers.”

   He blew out the lamp, and all went dark. He then let go his grip, turned and departed. My friend followed him.

   I left the altar there, with the cup of blood still on it, and returned home.




    The next day, in my home, I unwrapped the silk and inspected the ear. It was no longer bloody, appearing more like a plastic movie prop than human flesh. It had grown too, almost double the size of a normal ear.

   Upon exposing the ear, it felt to me as if it were a living thing, actually listening to its surroundings--more especially, to me. Not in a clandestine way, but more in the quiet supportive way of an old Grandparent or cherished friend. I felt in good company.

   I found that each night, after I’d finished work, dined with my family and so forth, I would close myself in my study with just the ear for company. Its place was on the desk usually reserved for reading, writing and Internet searches. But instead of doing any of the former, I began thinking aloud. Not to myself, but to the master’s ear.

   If I’d had a quarrel at work, I’d tell it to the ear. If I felt like reminiscing, I’d drivel to the ear. Any ideas I had, I’d express them to the ear, holding it in my hand like a Dictaphone, and talking into it.

   It wasn’t like expressing yourself to other people, who often half-listen and interrupt with their own ideas or experiences. The ear listened whole-heartedly and quietly. More and more I confided in it. I’d even confess to it. Sometimes I’d subject it to diatribes of political or religious opinions.

   The more I unloaded on the ear, the lighter I’d feel. It absorbed all my depression, anger, and fuelled my creativity. It wasn’t long before I actually craved to talk to it. At that point I carried it in my pocket and spoke into it much like one would a mobile phone. I blathered until no thought was unexpressed. My entire emotional and mental process became externalised. All absorbed by the ear.


On the last great speech, I suddenly became aware that I’d been talking for over an hour straight. I was in my study, still blathering when I realised this. I grew tired and forgot what point I’d been trying to make -- there had been so many digressions and sidetracks.

   So I stopped in mid sentence.

   That was it. I was tired of talking. I’d expressed myself in circles already. There was nothing more to say. The feeling dawned on me that nobody really has anything worth saying that hasn’t been said already. And so, I ceased talking.

   Only then did I notice how decayed the ear was.




On the appointed night, I returned to the clearing and once again found the altar. The lamp was lit when I arrived, and waiting for me was my sponsor. This time he was dressed as a doctor of medicine.

   “Good evening,” he said. “Before your initiation into the order, do you have any weapons you wish to divest yourself of?” He gestured towards the altar. On it was the cup and the light.

   I took the dagger from my pocket. I couldn’t help but notice that it had gained weight and was therefore uncomfortable to carry.

   “You will notice the dagger has gained weight,” my friend announced, “This is because it is a reflection of how heavily ill deeds sit upon the conscience of an enlightened man.”

   He took the dagger and held it in view. “For this is a symbol of your tongue. In the mouth of a self-centred man, words are cutting and speech is draining, much as a dagger drains the blood from its victim.”

   He placed the dagger on the altar. With one hand he picked up the light, and the other he picked up the cup. The cup was still filled with liquid, which I assumed to be the blood of the master.

   My friend put the cup to his mouth and drank. “Here,” he then said, offering it to me. “Let us drink together.”

   Reluctantly, I tipped it to my lips and smelled. To my surprise, it did not smell putrid but rather like fruit juice. Upon drinking, I discovered that the blood had been replaced with cool pomegranate juice.

   Holding the lamp up, he turned to go. “Before we proceed with your initiation,” he said, “I have a house call to make on a very sick man. Do you mind?”

   “Healing the sick takes priority,” I replied.

   “An honourable answer. Will you come along and help?”

   “I will.”

   I followed him away from the clearing, in the opposite direction from which I’d come from.

   “No longer,” he explained, holding the lamp in front, “will you leave the light behind. Instead, the light will travel with you wherever you go.”


He led me up a hill to a small cabin. Without knocking, the doctor entered. Inside was the master who’d given me his ear, only now he was on his deathbed, curled up on a mattress. His skin was yellow and he appeared to have aged a few years. His body was lacquered in sweat and his breath was weak. He had also lost weight.

   “You will see,” said the doctor, “that he has absorbed all the poisons that were in you. You, in turn have drained him of his strength.”

   I cringed in horror.

   “But don’t despair,” he said, “for you have returned! Give him his ear.”

   I produced the ear, unwrapped it, and then placed it back on the knotty hole on the side of the master’s head, where the ear once was.

   A musical note sounded in the air, and the ear reattached as if by magic. In seconds the ear was completely healed.

   With the doctor’s help, the master sat up.

   “And now,” said the doctor, “give him the healing cup.”

   I held forth the pomegranate juice and helped the master to drink the last drops. Within seconds his skin returned to a healthy colour and hue, and he seemed to grow young again. He opened his eyes and they twinkled with joy.

   Smiling at me he said, “Welcome my brother, to my humble home.”


Directly after that, the master led me to the second room, where we three dined together on a simple vegetarian meal. This supper sealed my membership in the order. It was explained to me that my first obligation was to move into the cabin for forty days and forty nights, where I would commence a vow of silence. Each day, a member would visit me and present me with a lesson or lecture about the order and its doings. Any questions I had would have to be bottled up and asked when the vow was complete.


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The Challenge of World Service by Alice A. Bailey


I challenge the thinkers of the world to drop their sectarianism, their nationalism, and their partisanships, and in the spirit of brotherhood to work in their particular nation, regarding it as an integral part of a great federation of nations,--a federation that now exists on the inner side but waits for the activity of the world thinkers to bring it to materialisation on the outer side. I charge them to work in the cause of religion and in the field of that particular religion in which they, by an accident of birth or by choice, are interested, regarding each religion as part of the great world religion. They must look upon the activities of their group, society or organization as demanding their help, just in so far, and only so far, as the principles upon which they are founded and the techniques which they employ serve the general good and develop the realisation of Brotherhood.


I ask you to drop your antagonism and your antipathies, your hatreds and your racial differences, and attempt to think in terms of the one family, the one life, and the one humanity. I ask for no sentimental or devotional response to this challenge. I would remind you that hatred and separateness have brought humanity to the present sad condition. I would add to that reminder, however, the fact that there is in the world today a large number of liberated men to produce a change in the attitudes of mankind and in public opinion, if they measure up by an act of the will to what they know and believe.

   I challenge you also to make sacrifices; to give yourself and your time and your money and your interest to carry these ideas to those around you in your own environment and to the group in which you find yourself, thus awakening your associates. I call you to a united effort to inculcate anew the ideas of brotherhood and of unity. I ask you to recognise your fellow workers in all the groups and to strengthen their hands. I ask you to seal your lips to words of hatred and of criticism, and to talk in terms of brotherhood and of group relationships. I beg of you to see to it that every day is for you a new day, in which you face new opportunity. Lose sight of your own affairs, your petty sorrows, worries and suspicions, in the urgency of the task to be done, and spread the cult of unity, of love and of harmlessness.


I ask you to sever your connection with all groups which are seeking to destroy and to attack, no matter how sincere their motive. Range yourself on the side of the workers for constructive ends, who are fighting no other groups or organizations and who have eliminated the word “anti” out of their vocabulary. Stand on the side of those who are silently and steadily building for the new order—an order which is founded on love, which builds under the impulse of brotherhood, and which possesses a realisation of brotherhood which is based on the knowledge that we are each and all, no matter what our race, the children of the One Father, and who have come to the realisation that the old ways of working must go and the newer methods must be given a chance.


If you cannot yourself teach or preach or write, give of your thought and of your money so that others can. Give of your hours and minutes of leisure so as to set others free to serve the Plan; give of your money so that the work of those associated with the New Group of World Servers may go forward with rapidity. Much time you waste on non-essentials. Many of you give little or nothing of time. The same is the case with money. Give as never before, and so make the physical aspects of the work possible. Some give of their very need, and the power they thereby release is great. Those on the inner side are grateful for the giving by those who can give only at great personal cost. Others give of what they can spare and only when it needs no sacrifice to give. Let that condition also end, and give to the limit, with justice and understanding, so that the age of love and light may be more rapidly ushered in. I care not here or to whom you give, only that you give,--little if you have but little of time or money, much if you have much. Work and give, love and think, and aid those groups who are building and not destroying, loving and not attacking, lifting and not tearing down. Be not taken in by the specious argument that destruction is needed. It has been needed, no doubt; but the cycle of destruction is practically over, could you but realise it, and the builders must now get busy.


I challenge you above all to a deeper life, and I implore you for the sake of your fellow men to strengthen your contact with your own soul so that you will have done your share in making revelation possible; so that you will have served your part in bringing in the light, and will therefore be in a position to take advantage of that new light and new information, and so be better able to point the way and clear the path for the bewildered seeker at that time. Those who are not ready for the coming events will be blinded by the emerging light and bewildered by the revealing wonder; they will be swept by the living breath of God, and so it is to you that we look to fit them for the event.


First published in 1936 by the woman often called 'the founder of the new age movement'. Taken from the book Esoteric Psychology Vol.1.

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Chimney Head

Chimney Head              ink and water colour by eleven
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chimney heads

chimney heads      ink and water colours by eleven