Axiomata and Metanoia – Changing Our Minds in the 21st Century

This essay was first published in New View magazine Issue 63 June-August 2012

Axiomata and Metanoia (1) – Changing Our Minds in the 21st Century

       The Mood of the New Century

Under the surface of all the turmoil of the new 21st century  has been the burgeoning hype surrounding “the 2012 phenomenon”: will the world end in 2012 because of the supposed predictions of the Mayan Calendar? (2) There are conflicting moods of apocalypticism and  messaianic millenarianism such as have occurred before  at the turning of particular  centuries, but also feelings of great expectation and bliss that something wonderful is about to happen as the human races advances to ‘a higher stage’ or even ‘a higher plane’. And now, with the unusually non-violent revolutionary fervour of the Occupy Movement, which erupted last year and  already seems to have fizzled out but which may break out again in a new form at any time, there is a mood of impatient anarchism among the young on the streets. There is a desire to do away with the over-complex, bureaucratic and oppressive, stifling strictures and gross inequities of our modern economy and society, a sense that those all belong to the 19th and 20th centuries and deserve to be swept away and replaced by ….they’re not quite sure what yet, but like the demonstrators in the Arab world in 2011, they know they can’t stand the status quo any longer. There is a sense of “all this is old and rotten; we want the new that should be here, but where is it?”

 All of these yearnings and anxieties have been churning away down in the roots of society in recent years under the surface of mainstream media distractions with its soap operas and reality TV programmes. In spite of differing perceptions there is a widespread sense among many people that this is an especially decisive time in history which we’re living through. I have long felt that this is a true intuition and that it has to do with the nature of the century we’ve entered – the 21st century of the Christian era. Is it an accident that the land where Jesus lived is now, 21 centuries later, the focus of such strife and hope? Or that the Jews, the people among whom Jesus-Christ lived, have been, in living memory, the subject of the most awful persecution? Or that this people should, despite their meagre numbers in the world’s population, occupy such prominent positions across the civilised world, in the arts, the media, science, philosophy, banking, finance and many other fields? That the Arabs, with whom this people now find themselves in such difficult straits, can trace their origins, like the Jews, to a son of Abraham? Is it a coincidence that the three monotheistic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, all owe a great deal to the original monotheistic culture of Persia (Iran) and its Zarathustran religion and yet these three cultures seem set on war with each other at precisely this time in history, the 21st century? Is it an accident that the land where Jesus lived is approximately mid-way between America and China, the two mega-powers of the present age, albeit both somewhat ramshackle, that are now facing each other down in an increasingly tense and mutually uncomprehending mood and that both these countries have a particular relationship with Iran?

It was the influence of Iranian Zoroastrianism on the Jewish exiles in Babylonia in the 6th cent. BC and subsequently, which, passing on into Christianity and Islam,  gave the three monotheistic faiths their linear concept of history, the notion of a beginning and an end, the Last Days, a Last Judgment, the final  “renovation of the world” (frashokereti), a post-renovation, blissful spiritual existence,  a saviour (saoshyant), a good Creator God (Ahura Mazda) and an evil opponent (Angra Mainyu, or Ahriman)(3). It was also Iranian Zoroastrianism that had as its key concept the notion of free human choice, the individual’s free participation in the eternal struggle between the forces of truth/order (asha or arta) and falsehood/disorder (druj). It was this individual moral choice that lay at the heart of Zoroastrianism as distinct from earlier religious cultures that were based on collective ritualism and tribal consciousness. In western cultures, at the age of 21 (20 in the Far East i.e. the 21st year), young people were traditionally recognised as fully adult and responsible for their actions. In western esotericism, this point in life was regarded as the birth of the ego – the essential sense of onesself – becoming more fully awake and active within the three ‘sheaths’ that had developed and formed around the human being (physical, etheric and astral) in successive, approximately seven-year stages, since birth. Much western folklore and many fairy tales include stories of a hero or heroine with three assistants; these symbolised the spiritual ego and its three soul forces (thinking, feeling and willing) that related to the three sheaths. We still see this reflected in various ways, even in modern movies.

For me, it is the significance of humanity’s ‘ego birth’ at 21 that explains much of the turmoil going on in the world at present. Humanity is ‘in labour’, travailing to give birth to its own free self, free of political authorities, theological shepherds of flocks and economic oligarchs and monopolists. This is why this time is felt to be so significant by so many different groups of people, and this is what distinguishes our time now from those earlier periods of revolutionary upheaval – the late 18th century 1776-1794 (e.g. the American and French Revolutions)  or the mid 19th century 1848-1870 (liberal and nationalist revolutions across Europe), which were different biographical points on our path. “Live free or die!” went the words of the famous motto of the New Hampshire soldier of the American Revolutionary War, General John Stark (1809). It meant something rather different then. At that time it was the will of one small part of the largely British community to free itself from the oppression – notably economic – it was under by another larger part of that same community from which it had grown estranged. The same motto is often repeated today in the USA; however, in the 21st century it means not only economic oppression – even though today the bankers play an even greater role than they did in the 1770s – but oppression of all kinds; above all, perhaps, a kind of mind control, through education and the media, which accustoms people to the status quo as they grow up and which is aided by distractions which turn their minds away from looking into the heart of things to really understand what is at work. Today, “Live free or die!” also refers more to the freedom of the individual than a community. Since the 1770s,  the West has created a vast, machine-driven and machine-like civilisation which did not exist in the days of Stark, Washington and George III. That perceptive Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville, the political thinker, historian whose seminal work was Democracy in America could sense this approaching from the future in the young American republic which he visited in the 1830s (4). Writers like Kafka or directors such as Fritz Lang (Metropolis) and Charlie Chaplin (Modern Times) described in their own ways the burgeoning growth of this machine civilisation in the early 20th century. But, a century on, our modern global economy and society have become a colossal ‘solid state’ SYSTEM, a Moloch, devouring citizens and nature, demanding that all worship it and serve its needs (5). This may sound dramatic, but many people today feel trapped, like soldiers, bureaucrats or worker ants in the endless conformity that is demanded of us by the reams of forms, licences, regulations as well as endless computer passwords, usernames, tickboxes and phone menus that press in on us. Our lives and their details (social networking, e.g. Facebook, on the internet) disappear into the unknown and ever-expanding vastness of cyberspace, where they are stored and sold (often without our knowing nor our permission) by means of machines that have nothing to do with our lives. Some tell themselves that this is only a passing phase of technology and that all will be simplified and streamlined in the near future. But we forget that we told ourselves this in 1900, in the 1950s, in the 1980s… The technology becomes ever more convenient, colourful and entertaining, even amazing, but also, in its inner wokings, ever more complex and alienating of the human being.


“Live free!” in the cries of the Occupy Movement is the latest manifestation of the call for liberty, equality and fraternity that was also present in the cultural revolution of the 1960s. “Change your attitude to nature …. or die!” is what we are told by the Green movement, which draws our attention to the rapacious devastation and moral degradation caused by the personal selfishness built in axiomatically into our economic system, which essentially has not changed since the late 18th century – the axiom of economic liberty. And here we come to the nub of many, if not most, of our problems today – the continuance of certain basic axiomatic thoughts that have rumbled on automatically through our minds for centuries. What is purported to be self-evident, a truth, is not always the case. These thoughts are not examined, challenged and, where necessary, changed and as a result a whole superstructure of other thoughts is built up on top of them which then manifest in actions. For example, if we recognise that there are, as Steiner made clear, three distinct spheres of human activity: that of the Rights, or Political agreements between people; of Economics, and the Cultural/Spiritual Sphere that includes education then where does the axiomatic notion that ‘liberty belongs in the economic sphere as much as it does in the cultural or spiritual sphere’ come from? What if a person says “I have, or I demand, the right to do what I want in the economic sphere, to start whatever business I can conceive of, to exploit whatever natural resources and human labour I can in order to realise the goal of my business”? Is it  really acceptable that the Rights sphere should somehow be able to exploit the economic one?

Of course some will say: “But society does not actually allow that; there are rules and regulations proscribing certain forms of economic activity, rules against the use of child labour for example, rules protecting the environment from such activities.” There are indeed such regulations, but these, enacted slowly over the past 200 years, only represent society’s very partial, and only semi-conscious recognition that the original ‘axiomatic notion’ in this case – that of ‘economic liberty’ -  is flawed. The essence of economic activity is not in fact the liberty of the individual to exploit what is around him in order to realise a concept he has had, thus providing that individual with self-satisfaction and material benefit, but rather, the cooperation of a group of people to service the needs of society in ways that are recognised and permitted by society. In an economy governed by the division of labour, nothing gets done without cooperation. The very word ‘company’, for example means (breaking) ‘bread together’ (It.: compagnia – Lat.: cum panis). In their book The Company – A Short History of  Revolutionary Idea (2003), John Micklethwait and Adrian Woolridge, both long-term staffers at The Economist, observe that in 1856, at a time when companies were being increasingly freed up by the British Parliament to behave as they wished The Economist wrote: “it is very probable that companies will be carried to excess… but the state ought no more to interfere to stop the waste of capital than to stop its judicious its judicious employment.” Micklethwait and Woolridge comment: “What the paper called ‘the principle of Liberty’ was all important.” They go on to make the very pertinent observation that: “….the debate forged in mid 19th century Britain [about the nature of the companies] has shadowed the institution ever since: Is the company essentially a private association subject to the laws of the state but with no greater obligation than making money, or a public one which is supposed to act in the public interest?”

The Chinese origins of  laissez faire

Let us look a little further into the origins of some of these flawed thought forms. Paradoxically, the laissez-faire doctrine (6) of capitalist economy, as well as the doctrine of bureaucratic state control to which it is opposed, owe a considerable amount to the Chinese. Both of these doctrines  – the Confucians’ bureaucracy and moral rules and the Taoists’ ‘going with the flow’ of Nature and minimalising social regulation -  were mediated to Europe by the books and reports of the Jesuits in the 17th century. They were assimilated by European thinkers who passed them on to the rest of the educated public. Adam Smith, for instance (7), famous for his laissez-faire approach to economics in The Wealth of Nations (1776), a key text of western economic thought, initially wished to dedicate the book to the French economist François Quesnay (1694-1774), from whom he had learned so much while in France in the 1760s. Quesnay and Jean Claude de Gournay (1712-1759) were the founders of the Physiocratic school of economic thought. ‘Physiocracy’ means ‘rule of matter’ or ‘rule of nature’ because the French Physiocrats believed – following ancient Chinese thinking – that the real basis of the economy was always agriculture, farming and the peasantry, and that the nobility, the Church and the artisan class who served them both were all parasitic upon society and the economy. Quesnay believed that agriculture could only be fully exploited when producers were freed from the arbitrary interventions of the state. Only then could the ‘natural laws’ of the market prevail. J.J. Clarke, in his book Oriental Enlightenment notes that:

Quesnay’s revolutionary ideas amounted to a liberation from the economic orthodoxy of… mercantilism…  and his influence on the free-market theories of Adam Smith was profound. What is often omitted in accounts of Quesnay’s place in modern thought is his debt to China – unlike in his own day when he was widely known as ‘the European Confucius’ (8)

This then, represented the ‘go with the flow’ approach of Taoism. It was taken up strongly by the French Physiocrats and by their adherents abroad, such as Adam Smith. Jean Claude de Gournay strongly attacked the other strand that originated in China  – the mandarin or civil service culture of the bureaucrats, when he wrote: “We have an illness in France which bids fair to play havoc with us; this illness is called bureaumania.”(9)

So we find that both the axiomatic roots of contemporary economic thought  – for and against State intervention in the economy – sometimes expressed as the ‘Keynes vs Friedman’ debate (10), actually originate in China over 1000 years ago in the dialectic between Confucianism and Taoism. These Chinese ideas, both based on the application of reason or human intelligence in differing ways, were mediated to Europe by the Jesuits in the 17th century (11). The ‘Neo-Confucian’ stream of firm official control from the centre of the State was particularly taken up in France, while the ‘Taoist’ stream of a ‘naturalistic’, laissez faire economy with minimal State intervention was adopted in Britain and later even came to be called ‘the Anglo-saxon’ mode of economics (!), although it could just as well, or more accurately be called the Chinese, or the French or the Sino-French mode. In 1759, at the height of ‘the China boom’ of the 18th century, the British poet William Whitehead wrote:

Enough of Greece and Rome. The exhausted store
Of either nation now can charm no more;
Ev’n adventitious helps in vain we try,
Our triumphs languish in the public eye. . . .
On eagle wings the poet of tonight
Soars for fresh virtues to the source of light,
To China’s eastern realms; and boldly bears
Confucius’ morals to Britannia’s ears.

Thus when we look a little deeper, we can see where the roots of some of the basic ideas so much taken for granted in our modern culture actually originate, and as we can ask: is this still appropriate? Or even, was it ever appropriate? After all, cultures, like individuals, can take wrong turnings in their development that can lead them down the wrong track for long periods of time. The 18th century Age of Enlightenment intellectuals’ admiration of Chinese models stemmed from their desire for a top-down direction of European societies by rationally-minded intellectuals and philosopher-types such as themselves. But this top-down development or rule of the masses by an enlightened elite was an ancient pre-Christian concept, which, in the Christian era has in the West been steadily undermined by the growth of individual consciousness and personal autonomy in spiritual affairs. The Confucian and Taoist Chinese notions of social and moral order, which originated in very different cultural and historical contexts from that of 18th century Europe and which were injected into European consciousness by an organisation (the Jesuit Order) which regarded itself as a spiritual elite whose task was to shepherd the flock, were absorbed by a European culture in which a self-centred individualism was steadily growing. This self-centred western individualism drew upon the cultural prestige associated with the ancient Chinese practices to provide intellectual justification for its own individualistic predilections and inclinations. Such was the case then, in the area of economics where a kind of pseudo-Taoist spirit began to inform the laissez-faire axiomatic doctrines of the burgeoning capitalist economies of France and Britain.

A similar Chinese influence was felt in science and politics. The apparently ‘enlightened’ model of the Chinese social system also gave a new lease of life to the old classical western concept, going back to Plato, of rulership by the ‘philosopher-king’.  European intellectuals such as Leibniz and Voltaire tended to see in Chinese society, as mediated to them by the Jesuits, a rational harmonious system governed by philosopher kings who seemed to know instinctively how to govern. Such was the society that Francis Bacon had indicated in his utopian novel New Atlantis (1624-1627) in the island country he called ‘Bensalem’ which was directed from Salomon’s House, “which house or college … is the very eye of this kingdom.” (emphasis – TMB) This was a scientific research institute, a kind of beehive, strictly hierarchical, where all had a role and function. At the very top of this institute, which in a certain sense ruled the land of Bensalem, were the “interpreters of nature”, whose task it was to “raise the former discoveries by experiments into greater observations, axioms, and aphorisms”. In the beehive of Bensalem, everyone had his place and allotted function, just as in ancient China. But this Baconian beehive was not at all concordant with the spiritual and social ideal which European humanity has been struggling to affirm and uphold since the end of the Middle Ages, namely, that of  a society formed of freely associating individuals who choose to live and work together. In the mediaeval world view, the axiomata of thinking had been devised   and imposed by the authorities of the Church. In Bacon’s ‘new’, ‘scientific’ society, the axiomata would be laid down by the authorities of science, ‘the interpreters of nature’, and that is how the members of the Royal Society regarded themselves. The Society was founded in 1660; it looked to Francis Bacon as its inspiration and its actual patron, then and now, was the monarch, beginning with  Charles II (1660-1685).

Today, modern society is in many respects the realisation of Bacon’s Bensalem because everything has to be ‘evidence-based’ with appropriate values in numbers, statistics and  ‘paper trails’ to prove the authenticity of things. Our politicians, educators and even many artists take their cue from scientists, ‘the interpreters of nature’. These have given us our modern conveniences but also our modern nightmares – nuclear power, the military-industrial complex, all the machinery of surveillance and control, the virtual world of the Internet, robotics, pandemic viruses kept in laboratories, genetic engineering and so on. Brain scientists are now, amazingly, not only on the edge of developing technology that will allow control of machinery by thought alone, but are also on the edge of abolishing the very notion of free will. According to Rudolf Steiner, the Church ‘abolished’ the individual human spirit at the 8th ecumenical church council, held at Constantinople, in 869 which in effect altered the understanding of human nature as consisting of body, soul and spirit to  body and soul only.(12)  Then, in the 19th century, in its assault on religion and with the growth of the ‘evidence-based’ discipline of psychology, science began to abolish the human soul also. Today, it is about to abolish the notion of a human self, the thinking, feeling and willing ‘I’, the essential human kernel. Many leading brain scientists, especially in the English-speaking world, no longer even accept that such an entity exists. All has become a matter of electro-chemical brain ‘circuitry’ – ‘evidence-based’ and ultimately quantifiable. This is where the overemphasis on the rational intellect has brought us. We have seen in recent years where the rational intellect has brought the financial world, with its bewilderingly complex mathematical formulae for trading in derivatives by means of bizarre financial instruments and the calculations of its ratings agencies which have such an impact on the fates of whole economies. We have seen how the numbers game also dominates our political life in our opinion poll ratings and political campaign strategies and funding. All of this is the consequence of the development of the rational – the very word means ‘measuring’ (Latin ratio) -  intellect that occurred in the period spanning from the 8th century BC to the early 15th century (astrologically, the so-called ‘Age of Aries’). The effects of this one-sided intellectual development have reached right into our modern times. Modern society has, arguably,  been even more conditioned by its scientific authorities than  mediaeval society was conditioned by its ecclesiatical authorities to see the world in a certain way. Today, this has, above all, to do with ‘counting’, with numbers and calculations, which constitute the evidence base of what today is called ‘science’.

Work and Property

The kind of numbers games, that have been used, for example, in  financial institutions, would not have been applied without the prior existence of basic axioms that have been operative in economics and politics since the 18th century, such as: liberty of the individual in the economic life, party political tribalism in the political life, the (contradictory) concept of a privately-owned national central bank, the concepts of National Debt and Income Tax, as well as more homespun axioms  such as “a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay” – as if the time of any individual’s life could actually by quantified. How much is an hour of your lifetime worth? We have come to accept this foolish notion as a given. “The going rate for the job” is another absurd notion related to this. Steiner indicated almost 100 years ago that the false link we have created between labour and monetary recompense must be broken. To pay someone for his or her time or for the fact that a person  happens to have a certain piece of paper (BA, PhD, MBA etc.) while another does not is actually absurd, but we have come to accept it as normal and ‘rational’. It is by such “mind forg’d manacles” as William Blake called them, that we are kept in wage slavery, political oppression, ad beholden to the claims of property. We say that ‘one can’t get something for nothing’ and that a man ‘ought to work for his bread’ but then we grant that a man should pass on a huge estate or company that he has obtained through his own work to his offspring – even though his offspring may have no ability whatsoever to take care of it or make it work properly – simply because they are the offspring of the parent. Such are the ancient customs or ‘axioms’ of landed property rights. This link too, Steiner advocated, needed to be terminated. If a person’s descendents are incapable of managing an enterprise, a business, or looking after property that they have inherited, that property should be passed on by the community to others who have the capacity to manage it. In other words, the quality and capacity of the individual is what is important when it comes to management of enterprises and land, and not the principle of heredity. Of course one can quickly see how emotionally challenging such a suggestion would be to some people, but does that make it wrong? Land as property, like a company, is a public, not a private interest. In Britain, the monarch was traditionally regarded in feudal law as the ‘lord paramount’; even today, all land in England is “held of the Crown” – no-one actually owns any land in England except the Queen. In law, it all belongs ultimately to her, and she is in fact the only sovereign individual in the country. She IS England; the rest of the English people are but subjects under her (‘subject’ means literally ‘under thrown’). In law they own their land, freehold or leasehold, only with her permission (“of the Crown”). The government and the armed forces, all the instruments of State, the entire country in fact, belongs to the monarch; it is her property. This is a fundamental axiom (habit of thought) which underlies British society and all societies in the British Commonwealth that acknowledge the Queen as their Head of State. This is why Britain cannot be described as ‘a democracy’, because the people, the demos, are NOT regarded as the ultimate sovereign power; the country does not belong to them. It is not their country; it is the Queen’s. Is this axiom still appropriate in the modern age? Meanwhile, in Scotland, it is still hard to discover “the real identities of the actual owners of huge areas of land because they lurk behind nominee companies based in offshore tax havens.” (13)

Power and Opinion

We have a situation today in the developed countries in which millions live in cities in which there is no work due to the decline of manufacturing industry. Those millions poured into the cities following the agricultural and industrial revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries. The combination of the absence of sufficient real Christian ethics (e.g. “In so much as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto Me.” Matt: 25:40) in society plus the spread of the laissez-faire doctrine and the survival of the fittest approach which was held to be ‘nature’s way’  meant that the new factory workers usually had to live in degrading conditions. Today, we are faced with the prospect of a new degradation of our cities as long as we fail to change the 18th century axiomata that govern our political and economic practices. Even after the crisis of 2007-2009 our elites show little sign of readiness to do this. Instead, they force ‘austerity’ on the people, on the taxpayers who bailed out the profligate bankers who had been operating according to essentially 18th century economic thought forms. The international elites conspire in their various global gatherings (e.g. meetings of the Bilderberg Group, the Council On Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission) to foist more ‘austerity’ on the people, allegedly in order to reduce private and public debt – when our whole financial and banking system has been based on the creation of debt since at least 1694, when the Bank of England was founded to pay for the British State’s wars.

The 18th century Scottish philosopher David Hume (1711-1776) was very aware of what actually maintained the structures of control in modern society. He wrote that there is

“nothing more surprising” [than] “to see the easiness with which the many are governed by the few; and to observe the implicit submission with which men resign their own sentiments and passions to those of their rulers. When we enquire by what means this wonder is brought about, we shall find, that as Force is always on the side of the governed, the governors have nothing to support them but opinion. `Tis therefore, on opinion only that government is founded; and this maxim extends to the most despotic and most military governments, as well as to the most free and most popular.” (14)

People’s opinions then, the ideas and axioms they have in their heads, are what sustain the structures of control and were doing so, according to Hume, 250 years ago already! The authorities, being few in number, have no power other than what the public allows them through the ideas it has in its public mind, which is why they try so hard to keep the public in the dark about their more nefarious activities and are so concerned about managing public perceptions, especially in this media-driven age. These are the dark roots that underpin our social landscape. This is clearly the case with regard to recent events in Syria. Frustrated by the Russian and Chinese vetoes on UN-sponsored action against Syria at the UN Security Council, the US and its allies have stepped up a steadily mounting barrage of daily propaganda against the government of Syria. In our societies we are constantly told about the need for ‘evidence’ in all areas of life, and the BBC insist on their even-handed approach to the news yet the BBC and the rest of the mainstream media seem content to push a completely one-sided view of events in Syria (just as was the case in Libya) on the basis of scant real ‘evidence’ that the Syrian military are conducting “slaughters”, “massacres”, “genocidal war against its own people”. We are assured by the BBC, for example, that all the explosions we have seen and heard in the country are caused by the Syrian army, but we have seen no footage of Syrian soldiers doing all this shooting, shelling and killing. Much BBC footage is only monitored by BBC staff from Beirut, in Lebanon, hundreds of miles away. We are constantly told that “activists say” this and that but rarely ever what groups these are. We were given to understand that the entire city of Homs (pop. min. 820,000) was the subject of some genocidal attack by the government, but no other district was mentioned than the Baba Amr district which is less than 10% of the city. We were often told that the various reports were ‘unverified’ or ‘unconfirmed’ yet the BBC chose to accept and present these ‘unverified reports’ as ‘the truth’ of what was happening.

Around the Mediterranean littoral, only three countries have over the past decades often refused to follow an American line: Libya, Syria and Greece. Is it an accident that precisely those three countries have recently been hammered by violent assault and economic destabilisation? It is well-known that the USA and Israel are looking aggressively towards Iran, and many have argued that covert forms of warfare against Iran have already begun (cyber attacks, assassinations, the use of terrorism inside the country to stir ethnic tensions). In an article relating to a recent interview with Anne-Marie Slaughter, professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University and director of policy planning at the State Department 2009-2011 and the ever-influential Zbigniew Brzezinski, at the transatlantic elite think-tank The Atlantic Council, there appeared these words: “A more effective means of containing Iran might be by focusing on another country – Iran’s chief Arab ally, Syria. A change in government there could deprive Iran of its front seat on the Arab-Israeli conflict and conduit to Hezbollah, Hamas and other anti-Israel groups.” (15) Slaughter commented: [Arab] League members have “gotten themselves so far into this that there’s no way out other than forcing him [Assad] out.” The richest member countries of the Arab League – those leading the League’s criticism of Syria -  are all known to be satellites of the West.

Christ said in the Gospel of St. Luke (12:1-3) :

“Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. For there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed; neither hid that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.”

Since we entered this critical 21st century of the Christian era under the shadow of the events of 9/11, we have seen a great concern for truth and transparency emerge in our culture along with a much more sophisticated awareness of the power of propaganda and the manipulation of images and information. Transparency groups and ‘Truth’ Movements of all kinds have sprung up. The supporters of the establishment have sought to besmirch and discredit those who seek to get to the bottom of what happened in that first year of the new century, the so-called ’9/11 truthers’. There are now citizens’ groups with professional expertise such as Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, Pilots for 9/11 Truth, Scholars for 9/11 Truth, and many more. Indeed, there are now too many people with too many connected links between them for the few in the elite to suppress permanently, although the US government has made many efforts to infiltrate and spread dissension within the 9/11 Truth Movement (16). Steadily, progress is being made, and what was ‘spoken and done in darkness’ that led to the assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas in Nov. 1963, as well as what brought about the events in New York, Washington and over Shanksville in Sept. 2001 is gradually being uncovered. The Internet may seem to some to represent a terrible danger to mankind, a phony virtual reality and powerful source of addiction and illusion, but it has also been an effective means of making knowledge available to millions of ordinary people that they would otherwise have been denied by the mainstream media. This technology has also enabled material to be presented that challenges another long-held axiom of western thinking – the notion that we have only one life. There are a number of videos and texts online that challenge this notion and  advance the understanding of reincarnation which is obviously related to pre-birth and post-mortem existences (17). As these ideas spread they will have enormous consequences. Amongst other things, an understanding of reincarnation and karma  holds out the promise of peacemaking, as people begin to realise why they feel special sympathies or antipathies towards other countries, cultures and individuals. “….just as an age was once ready to receive the Copernican theory of the universe,  so is our own age ready for the ideas of reincarnation and karma to be brought into the general consciousness of humanity. And what is destined to happen in the course of evolution will happen, no matter what powers rise up against it. When reincarnation and karma are truly understood, everything else follows of itself in the light of these truths.” (18)

With the emergence and spread of a modern understanding of reincarnation and karma, the abolition of the individual spirit described by Rudolf Steiner which  has had such a severe impact on  western culture since in the 9th century is gradually being undone. In the realm of politics and rights the self-centred individualism which was the consequence of that ‘abolition’ is being increasingly challenged by myriad groups of people who strive to affirm community and solidarity with others and who take the part of the afflicted. In the same realm a great wave has arisen of ordinary people who are enlightening and empowering themselves by educating themselves and others, refusing to accept the versions of reality given to them by the mass media or the so-called cultural authorities of our times. And in the sphere of the economic life, while the old forms and forces of class warfare have thankfully receded, new, more positive socio-economic forces unbound by the old thinking, are taking their place – from fair trade campaigners to consumers’ rights advocates and all kinds of campaigns against corporate arrogance and exploitation – all of which is based on old-fashioned spiritual and economic thinking.

The first step towards a better future is …revision of thinking. Simply correcting the usual assumptions behind current events could be of immense significance…Every scientist knows that asking the right question is decisive in solving a problem If we are in possession of the right ideas, often openings for change present themselves, even if they are initially only steps in small areas…If one has grasped the spirit of the times, one will realise that change is indeed possible. One only needs courage coupled with a mind that has battled its way to an understanding that is sound. This is the way to succeed in dealing with the powers that be.” (20)

“The empires of the future are the empires of the mind” said that old imperialist Winston Churchill (19), and it is for the ideas in our minds, upon which our actions depend, that the struggle is now being waged. That struggle is getting harder for the ‘hypocritical Pharisees’ of our time to dominate, as more and more individuals become aware of what is going on in our world and metanoia spreads The more this happens, the more will our minds be cleared of the old axiomata, and we shall grow into our freedom and higher selves in this 21st century.


(1) From The Gospel of St.Mark ch. 1 Usually mistranslated as ‘repentance’, metanoia actually means ‘change mind’ (lit. ‘beyond mind’)
(2) Actually, such predictions are non-existent. Nothing is known about how the Mayans actually regarded the end of cycles in their complex calendrical system. This void has been filled by much unfounded speculation.
(3) See for example: The earliest known forms of Zoroastrianism date from approx. 6-7th centuries BC. Interestingly, Zoroastrianism ended as the state religion in Iran with the Islamic conquest in the 7th century AD.
The religion is likely much older in its origins. Rudolf Steiner spoke of the original Zoroaster as having lived in the age of Gemini (5067-2907 BC). Later individualities also bore the same name.
(4) See de Tocqueville’s remarkably perceptive Democracy in America (1835)
(5) Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, for instance, frequently called on Britons to serve in the economic competitive struggles that would be fought by what has commonly been called ‘UK plc’.
(6) Literally ‘let do’, i.e. ‘leave it alone, let it go on by itself. The doctrine emerged in the first half of the 18th century.
(7) Adam Smith, Scottish economist, 1723-1790
(8) quoted in John M. Hobson, “The Eastern Origins of Western Civilization” (2004), p.196
(10) John Maynard Keynes 1883-1946, British economist, upholder of a strong interventionist role for the State in economic life, and Milton Friedman, American economist, 1912-2006, theorist of laissez-faire economics and minimal State intervention
(11) “One might say that the moral system of this philosopher [Confucius]  is infinitely sublime, but that it is at the same time simple, sensible and drawn from the purest sources of natural reason . . . Never has Reason, deprived of divine Revelation, appeared so well developed nor with so much power.”  – From the Preface to the Confucius Sinarum Philosophus  [Confucius, the Philosopher of China], published by a group of Jesuit scholars 1687
(12) In the 11th Canon of the 8th Ecumenical Council, Constantinople 869-870 with the anathema against the doctrine of ‘the twin souls’
(14) Hume, Of the First Principles of Government – See the first two paragraphs.
(16) See “Cass Sunstein, “Conspiracy Theories: Causes and Cures
(17) Two of the most interesting cases are those of an American boy James Leininger, the apparent reincarnation of an American fighter pilot killed in World War Two and Cameron Macauley, a Scottish boy in Glasgow who remembers a life lived in the 1960s on the  remote Scottish island of Barra.  The understanding of reincarnation too is gradually spreading, though largely ignored by mainstream society. See
(18) Rudolf Steiner, Berlin 5th March 1912, Collected Works GA 135
(19) Speech at Harvard University, 6 September, 1943
(20) Johannes Rohen, Functional Threefoldness in the Human Organism and Human Society, (Adonis Press, 2011) p.135

©Terry Boardman

First uploaded 7.7.2012 Last updated 8.7.2012