Our Values and Our Myths

 

-         The Unification and Harmonization of the Masculine Principle and the Feminine Principle

-         The Cosmo-Art Manifesto

-         The Cosmological Vision of Sophia-Art

-         The Prayer of the Ulysseans

 

 

 

The Unification and Harmonization of the Masculine Principle and the Feminine Principle by Dr. Paola Sensini and Prof. Antonio Mercurio

 

This paper was written by me and Antonio, by working in the following manner: first we explored together what we each knew about the masculine principle and the feminine principle; then we wrote down only those things that we both agreed on; finally, we watched a film about fecundation and from this we gathered possible behavioral “analogies” that we could offer to both partners within a couple. I, then, used my knowledge of the book the “I Ching” and found some essential ideas regarding this theme, and again working as a couple we gave a final form to the text.

 

We want to present to you some considerations on the masculine principle and the feminine principle that can be useful for the couple experience, within a historical and social context. We feel it is first important to make the concept of the masculine principle clear with respect to the concept of masculine part and the concept of man; and the concept of the feminine principle with respect to the concept of feminine part and the concept of woman.

 

The concept of man and the concept of woman, in our opinion, indicate two specific realities: a male being and a female being that have reached biological adulthood and an existential maturity that is typical of adults, that is completely different from childhood and childhood immaturity. When we say “man” and “woman”, in quotation marks, we are talking about two individuals who are capable of possessing their own lives freely and autonomously, and are capable of being completely responsible for them, both for themselves and in their relationship with others.

 

When we talk about the masculine principle and the feminine principle, we are referring instead to two different realities that are present both within the man and the woman within a couple relationship. These two realities are like two active motors and they can act at the same time, within both the man and the woman, either in harmony or in disagreement or in absolute contrast to each other, with one developed and free to continue developing and acting, and with the other that is repressed and incapable of acting and developing.

 

However, here we are talking only about the masculine principle in the man and the feminine principle in the woman; man and woman in the sense of adult persons who are complete and have already unified within themselves the masculine principle and feminine principle couple.

 

What these two “active motors” consist of is something we will explain further on. Now we want to first make a distinction between masculine principle and masculine part and feminine principle and feminine part.

 

As everyone knows, in a car there is a motor, and no one says “the car is the same as the motor”; they are two different things, with different parts and different roles. The motor has the function of creating movement and the rest of the car has the function of containing and transporting both objects and people. In every human cell there is a component called DNA and there is also the rest of the cell. The DNA is the active motor that tells the cell how to act in all its parts and in all its goals to be reached. Regarding man and woman, the masculine principle and the feminine principle, united together, correspond to the functions that DNA carries out within every cell. The masculine part and the feminine part correspond to all the components of the cell besides the DNA.

 

Let’s look at an even better example: the brain is made up of a right hemisphere and a left hemisphere and we all know they each have different functions. But the one who decides to start these functions up is neither the right hemisphere nor the left one, it is the subject, the individual the two hemispheres, the two parts of the brain, both belong to.

 

We can therefore say that the masculine principle and the feminine principle are like the subject, which decides to act with different modalities, with different motors, either the feminine one or the masculine one, both on the masculine part and on the feminine part.

 

For example, if we call the masculine part the rational part and the feminine part the emotional part, as we will see below, the attributes that belong to the masculine principle and the ones that belong to the feminine principle make it clear that the masculine principle is not identified with the rational part, and the feminine principle is not identified with the emotional part. When the two principles act together, they can freely act either on the rational part or on the emotional part. For example, I can use the rational part either in an analytical way, and this modality is attributed to the feminine principle, or I can use the rational part so as to make syntheses, and this modality is attributed to the masculine principle.

 

Now that we have made these clarifications, that are necessary although a bit boring, we are going to describe the attributes of the masculine principle and the feminine principle. We do not expect to indicate all of them, here we describe what we have been able to come up with based on our own experience.

 

Attributes and qualities of the masculine principle:

1)      The ability to penetrate and penetrative activity.

2)      The ability to reflect and the ability to develop thought and reason in a synthesizing, inductive-deductive, manner.

3)      The ability to fecundate and the goal of fecundating everything that is feminine.

4)      The ability to explore the outside world.

5)      The ability to search for and respect the laws that are anchored in the Life of the Universe.

6)      The ability to contain and give order to chaos, and the ability to guide it towards a specific goal.

7)      The ability to feel and act with strength, potency and impetuosity.

8)      The creative-inventive ability.

 

Attributes and qualities of the feminine principle:

1)      The ability to be receptive and to act receptively.

2)      The ability to be intuitive and to think and reason in an analytical way.

3)      The ability to feel and act with gentleness, grace and tenderness.

4)      The ability to offer continuity, stability and development to the goals of the masculine principle.

5)      The ability to explore the inner world.

6)      The ability of transmutation.

7)      The ability to harmonize opposites.

8)      The ability to tune into the laws of nature and the Microcosm.

9)      The creative-artistic ability.

 

Just as the ovum captures the sperm, the feminine principle is capable of capturing the masculine principle, of incarnating it in reality and of nurturing it so it can offer vital fruits. From what we have seen above, continuing to think that man is active and woman is passive is a frequent error that makes no sense and that we should give up, because – we repeat – one is active when penetrating (with everything that correlates to this) and the other is active in receptive welcoming and in increasing and developing what has been embraced.

 

We said earlier that both the masculine principle and the feminine principle are potentially present within both men and women, and we know that they are complementary to each other. This idea of being complimentary and of the synthesis of opposites can be found in a very antique book of wisdom, which is the “I Ching”, or “The Book of Changes”. Its contents rest on two theories: the theory of the five elements, and the theory of Yin and Yang. These theories propose an interpretation of the structure and the origins of the Universe. At first Yang was given the meaning of the Sun, of Light; to the contrary, Yin meant the absence of the light of the sun, it was the Shadow, and Darkness. Later on, Yin and Yang became considered two cosmic principles: Yang was the masculine principle of creativity, of heat, of light, of aridity and hardness; Yin was the feminine principle of receptivity, of cold, of darkness, of softness and of humidity. The Chinese cosmological principle has always been based on the concept that all the phenomena in the Universe arise from the reciprocal action of Yin and Yang.

 

Yin and Yang: both are strength and substance together, they are indicated as masculine and feminine in the sense that they complete each other.

 

This being complimentary is well illustrated in the book’s first two hexagrams:

1 – The Creative Principle, whose essence is Strength;

2 – The Receptive Principle, whose essence is Devotion.

 

The Strength of the Creator and the Mildness of the Receptive unite. Mildness in ways of acting, combined with the Strength of a decision. The quality of the second hexagram, “The Receptive”, is Devotion; it is the exact opposite of the “Creative”. It is opposite, not contrary; it is complementary, not at war. It is Nature in front of the Spirit, the Earth before the Sky, Space before Time, the Feminine – maternal before the Masculine-paternal. Between these two signs there is no dualism, because there is a relationship between them. They are both equally important, but the quality of devotion of the sign “The Receptive” characterizes the position of this primary force before the “Creative”. It must remain under the guidance of the Creative and be stimulated by it; if it does, its action is healthy. It becomes negative only if it moves away from this position and tries to stand beside it as its equal. If it does so, then a conflict arises, a battle against the Creative ensues that is damaging to both parts. Gentleness and devotion must not exclude strength, because they are necessary to “The Receptive” to be considered the “Creative’s” helper.

 

Whereas the “Creative” generates things, the “Receptive” gives birth to them. This is the oriental view. Here in the West, instead, our cosmological ideas all revolve around a God that is only masculine. Historically, it has happened that entire cultures have been educated to develop only the masculine principle in the man and repress the feminine part, while within the woman only the feminine principle is developed and the masculine principle is repressed.

 

We have observed, however, that in recent times in the West this educational principle is being ever more put aside, and women are given more freedom to develop their masculine principle, and men are freer to develop their feminine principle. Because of this historical turn around, within the couple it has become extremely difficult to harmonize men and women, because each of the partners are faced with the great difficulty of harmonizing the masculine and feminine principles within themselves.

 

But in our opinion, this is not the main cause of the current disharmony within couples. Within the historical panorama of human evolution a third identity has been added to the masculine and the feminine ones: the phallic identity, which arose from the oppression and the crushing of both the masculine principle and the feminine principle. We will not describe here the causes behind the appearance of the phallic identity. We are, however, interested in looking at how when the phallic identity dominates, there can be no harmony between the masculine principle and the feminine principle. The phallic identity is based on a drive for absolute power, and it does not look for nor does it want harmony of any type. Phallic power wants order, and only order obtained through violence (see fascism and Nazism). It does not want order based on harmony. Phallic power wants that everyone is the same and anonymous, subject to absolute obedience (see dictatorships, armies and various Churches) and it is not possible to obtain all of this without radically castrating both the masculine and the feminine principles. Within a couple, this means continual battles and a continual tearing each other apart, so as to obtain absolute power over the other.

 

To change this situation, we believe that it is necessary for both men and women to become aware of the “drive to dominate” that possesses them both. This drive for domination sneaks into every level of daily life, and, in our opinion, is the greatest cause behind the current crisis in the couple relationship. We would like to identify this “drive for domination” as a fixation on the part of both the man and the woman at the infantile state, which is a refusal to grow up and become adults. It is well known that every newborn fights to impose its will on the mother, and vice-versa. Since the time of Adam and Eve the will to dominate has been the major temptation that has corrupted men and women, along with the quality of their relationship to each other.

 

We have some reason to believe that this biblical story tells us of the situation between men and women that began about 6,000 years ago, and that continues today. The solution that has so far been adopted for this historical temptation is the oppression of either men over women or vice-versa, a solution based on the law of the jungle: whoever is stronger wins, even though the winner will have to deal with the revenge of the loser (a classic example: the story of Jocasta and Oedipus). We don’t yet see that a different solution is completely visible. Those of us that are engaged in Sophia-Analysis could commit ourselves to searching for and bringing about a new solution. We believe that there is only one way to get out of this mortal trap, and that is to constantly practice every day our ability to recognize where this will to dominate sneaks in, as well as the refusal to grow up and become adults. We must decide to kill this will to dominate and our refusal to grow up, and we must become willing to transmute ourselves instead of first killing our partners and then ourselves.

 

The ideal of “life as a work of art” and the type of practice it proposes, to learn how to become artists of our lives instead of remaining beings who are determined by the need to act out the will to dominate, can be forces that are great enough to help us decide to radically change. This change could come about more easily if women, as the greater expression of the feminine principle within a couple, decide to develop as much as possible their receptive ability towards the masculine principle that is represented by men, so they can allow themselves to be penetrated and fecundated by the man just as the earth is receptive to seeds, and offers them the conditions necessary for their development.

 

 

****

Having reached this point in our work, some friends of ours lent us a video that contains an exceptionally interesting film of the encounter between sperm and ovum. Fascinated by what we saw, we thought that we could use it to find some analogies with the theme we are working on. We would like to emphasize some points that were particularly significant to us, and propose some analogies that can be useful to couples, taking sperm as representatives of the masculine principle and the ovum, along with the entire female reproductive system, as a representative of the feminine principle.

 

1)      A man emits about 500 million sperm. It is like a “great army”, as it is rightly called in the film, that is prepared to reach and besiege the fortress of the female ovum. But out of this huge army, only a few thousand will actually reach the egg, and only one will be able to penetrate it. Here we have our first analogy: for there to be a fusion of the man’s masculine principle and the woman’s feminine principle within a couple, there must be a “great army” that must go to the attack more than once, in other words, a great amount of energy and effort must be available to besiege the feminine principle and bring it to fuse with the masculine one. It is a heroic effort and men must be aware of this, so they don’t give up at the first obstacle, and renounce the goal they carry within their SELF, which is the goal to fuse with the feminine principle.

 

2)      The ovum, too, has a “heroic task” to accomplish, in accepting a long series of detachments and transformations it must go through for it to go from the ovary to the tube, where it meets the sperm. Could these detachments be an analogy for all the detachments a woman must be capable of going through so she is open to a true encounter and fusion with the masculine principle? Could the transformation that the ovum goes through an analogy for all the transformations a woman must accomplish so she is capable of truly meeting and truly fusing with a man?

 

 

3)      We are struck by the fact that sperm, in their race upwards, at one point stop to rest and regain energy and then recommence their journey. Analogy: during the current historical moment, a man who hopes to accomplish this fusion with a woman without her help, or without the help of a choral group, is destined to failure.

 

4)      We are also struck by the fact that a woman’s body has certain pathways for the sperm that have survived the various selections throughout their journey to follow. Within the feminine principle, as an analogy to what we saw in the film, we can see that there is an ability to embrace the male and at the same time select from among the many goals the male may have those goals that are most effective for accomplishing a common goal between the feminine and the masculine. Therefore, the masculine principle has the task of creatively proposing numerous goals, and the feminine principle has the task of first welcoming these proposals and then selecting the ones that can best and most effectively harmonize with the goals of the feminine. The man must besiege the woman with his creativity, his strength and ability to formulate goals, whereas the woman has the task of embracing, evaluating and selecting the goal proposed by the man, so it can be transformed into a common one.

 

 

5)      Let’s reflect now for a moment on the strength expressed by the sperm, that all act together, to make the ovum that was attached to the walls of the tube begin to spin, before it is penetrated by one of them. The images from the film bring to mind the evolution of the cosmos, the rotation of the stars and elicits a feeling of harmony, a harmonious movement that carries life within it. There can be no life if there is not movement, if there is not continual change. We offer this analogy for the couple relationship. Stasis within a couple is against life, it is death. Just like the rotational movement brings with it the need to continually flip over,  within a couple relationship the woman must accept to flip over her points of view, prodded by the masculine principle. The essence of mutation and transmutation that belong to the feminine principle cannot be realized if the woman is not able to accept the prodding of the masculine principle, which, once it has put the feminine principle in motion, also turns and flips over, within the embrace of a woman. In this way it is possible to achieve the synthesis of opposites, which is the law the entire Universe tends towards.

 

6)      Once the encounter and fusion has occurred between the sperm and the ovum, an unstoppable series of vital processes begin, without having to again face the initial effort that was necessary before the encounter. The effort that remains necessary, if we can use the word effort when speaking of the process within a fertilized ovum, pertains to the division and multiplication of the cells, and to a continual change of identity. The identity that changes is a peripheral one with respect to the central identity that remains the same, so as to pass from an incomplete identity to one that is complete and mature. But let’s take one step backward, to look at the moment in which the sperm penetrates the ovum. It must lose a part of its identity (what we can call peripheral or temporary), it must lose its tail, and somehow the head must maintain its central identity, the identity enclosed within its chromosomes. The ovum must also lose its peripheral identity, while maintaining its central one, the one that is enclosed within its genetic material. For this reason we emphasize the fact that every transmutation brings with it necessarily the acceptance of some sort of loss, but only by doing so can life be gained, as well as its development.

 

The analogy we would like to make here with regards to the couple relationship is that both the man and the woman must be willing to lose their peripheral identities while maintaining and fusing their central ones. In this case, what do the peripheral and central identities refer to? We call the original identity that a man and a woman carry within their Personal SELF their central identity. We call the identity that a man and a woman develop within their families and societies before they decide to become part of a couple their peripheral identity. Once this decision has been made, the way a couple can be formed varies, depending on the superficiality or the depth with which the goal to realize or not the fusion between the man’s masculine principle and the woman’s feminine principle is carried out. Each must be willing to accept to lose the identity they had before and create an entirely new one. From the fusion of the maternal ovum and the paternal sperm a baby is born that, while it carries within it all the genetic material of its parents, is completely new and different from both of them. Therefore, we can say that from the fusion of the masculine principle and the feminine principle a new reality is born, that renders the man and woman completely new with respect to how they were before the fusion occurred.

 

7)      The fecundated ovum, which is an expression of the harmonious fusion of the two principles, must now start to move. It must go down the entire length of the tube, come to the cavity of the uterus and jump into the void so it can fall to the right place and attach itself and develop. In analogy to this, we would like to conclude by saying that once the fusion has come about within a couple, they now begin the journey where they will face together, with pain and joy, the challenges they will meet while accomplishing all the goals that the Personal SELF, the Choral SELF and the Cosmic SELF has entrusted to them. The fusion of the sperm with the ovum is the result of a law of nature. The fusion, instead, of the masculine principle of the man with the feminine principle of the woman is not a law of nature, it is a law of life. The difference between a law of nature and a law of life is that the first are born of necessity, and the second are born of freedom. Only a free decision on the part of a man and a woman can produce the fusion between the masculine principle of one with the feminine principle of the other, and this decision can be born only out of a great love that they have for each other.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

THE COSMO-ART MANIFESTO

 

First part

 

THE SONG OF COSMO-ART

THE SONG OF THE ULYSSEANS

AND THE SONG OF PLANET EARTH

SEARCHING FOR UNKNOWN WORLDS

AND OF PARALLEL, INFINITE UNIVERSES

 

I want to sing of Cosmo-Art and I want to sing the song of the pact of friendship between myself and all of those who want to become artists of their lives and artists of the life of the universe.

 

I want to sing the creation of a new artistic movement based on the organismic principle and on the goal of creating secondary beauty.[1]

 

I want to sing the Cosmo-Art movement and its offspring the Ulysseans, those who, beyond wanting to recover enjoyment of primary beauty, want to dedicate their lives to researching secondary beauty, to become capable of navigating from one universe to another in endless enjoyment. [2]

 

I want to sing the lives of those who are dissatisfied with the soul they received at birth, and want to make a soul that is immortal not only for themselves, but also for the entire universe that contains them. [3]

 

I want to sing the lives of those who, even though they are aware of the indispensable richness that love knows how to give, also know that love alone is often impotent if it is not united with strength, wisdom and art. [4].

I want to sing the birthing of a new time where it is possible to affirm that pain is necessary for creating and is no longer a form of expiation, and it is necessary for learning how to give oneself a life form that is stronger than death. [5]

 

I want to sing the possibility that while in pain I can gather the synthesis of all the pain of the world and all of your pain so we can together become capable of transforming ourselves and pain with Cosmo-Art, in the choral song of a new and unknown type of beauty that only human beings can create, and to make it such that no one’s pain on this earth has been in vain.[6]

 

I want to sing the birth of a new time in which it is possible to affirm that everyone, absolutely everyone, is endowed with creative artistic power and where it is possible that the life of human beings and the life of the universe become a work of art that is even bigger and even greater than all the works of art created up until now, because this is what we have decided to do to respond to the goal of Life. [7]

 

I want to sing the birth of a new time for the Orient and the Occident, where the only possible horizon is no longer the immobile return to the beatitude of the One, nor is it the return to dissolving into Nirvana or the return to this planet earth for a continual purification that leaves the world on this side and the world on the other side unchanged from what they were before, but instead is the return to Ithaca where everything is new and everything is different from what it was before. [8]

 

I want to sing the “mad flight” of those who at death want to go beyond the space-time of this universe and enter into the space-time of all the possible universes, according to the myth of Ulysses and the myth of Cosmo-Art. [9]

 

I want to sing the return of the Ulysseans to a new Ithaca, that signals a break with the past time and with every-day time and instead gives rise to the creation of an infinite time: the time of secondary beauty, beauty that never dies, beauty that knows how to navigate beyond this time and this space in another time and another space, where there no longer is pain and there is no longer death but there is Life that flies happily from one universe to another and I am one with it.[10]


 

I want to sing Life that so dearly wants to go beyond the cycle of death-rebirth, with which it eternally reproduces itself in billions and billions of forms, each one different but each one subject to death, and wants instead to conquer a life form that is both immortal and eternal and not just eternal or not just immortal, each one separate from the other and opposed to the other, and dispenses to me and you the gift of an immense artistic power so it can accomplish this. [11]

 

I want to sing the ability to transform my life and the ability that you can transform yours in a unified and unifying energy field, which is rich and dense of the energies of truth, freedom, love and secondary beauty, and which is capable of attracting to itself many, many people, like what happens to the great works of art of every kind. [12]

 

I want to sing the possibility that many people unknown to each other can transform themselves, just as one time the unicellular organisms transformed themselves and gave rise to the unstoppable growth of multicellular beings, and become the living cells of a single living organism, starting with those who today make up the body of the SUR and ending with those who want to create a united body of planet earth and a united body of this universe together with that of all the other universes where it is possible to navigate with the creation of secondary beauty. [13]

 

I want to sing the power of life that knows how to evolve, beginning with human beings that are mortal, and that can create a superior life form that is immortal.

 

I want to sing the power of art that knows how to evolve and how to create a type of artistic energy, which is immensely more powerful than atomic energy, and that is capable of giving human beings and the universe the immortal life that human beings have always imagined and dreamed about since the era of Gilgamesh, and that up until today have not been able to accomplish.

 

I want to sing the journey of art and of all the artists through the history of art throughout planet earth who, concentrated in their powerful efforts to celebrate primary beauty, have given their lives so as to prepare the way for the search for and the creation of secondary beauty. None of them knew from the first day what they had to do to create a work of art. They placed themselves before the mystery of art with an iron internal and external discipline, with their passionate study of the masters that came before them, with the humility and passion of those who incessantly try and try again until they are capable of wresting the secrets hidden within matter and spirit so they could make the miracle of the work of art appear. [14]

 

To them I express all my gratitude for the immense gift they have given us and I build my own faith in being able to create a superior art form on their example, certain that just as they made the impossible possible we, too, can do the same in this new challenge that Life is calling us to undertake.

And, finally, I want to sing the beautiful song of all those (almost one hundred fifty people who came from all over Italy) who signed this manifesto at the end of the Cosmo-Art Laboratory, on November 29, 1998, and who expressed with their own personal song the wishes, dreams and hopes that they want to accomplish through their participation in the artistic movement of Cosmo-Art.

 

Antonio Mercurio

_________________________________________________     

 

 

 

 

 


The Cosmological Vision of Sophia-Art *

with an introduction and commentary (in italics)

 

 

            Before I start reading my paper I would like to make a brief introduction. I have very much admired the comments you made yesterday evening and this morning, both in the small groups and in the big one. Allow me, after having expressed my admiration for all of your thoughts, to share with everyone what Giorgio brought up. Last night, he said that ever since the horse has been domesticated humanity has been divided into two categories: those that get into the horse’s saddle and become horsemen and those who instead remain stall boys. It takes courage to go from working in the stalls to becoming a horseman, and Giorgio pointed out that I was asking you to be courageous, with a capital ‘C’. So. If you want to follow me in my reading of the paper I am about to present to you, I will have to ask you to be even more courageous; I have to ask you to be courageous with capitals on all the letters, not just the ‘C’. To help you better understand what type of courage I am asking you to have, let me use a historical example.

 

            In a few years, in 1992, the whole world will celebrate Christopher Columbus and his discovery of America. But we all know perfectly well that it was not Christopher Columbus’ intention to discover America. In his mind there was the profound conviction that the earth was round, not flat like everyone else thought, everyone except for a few scientists. Since he was absolutely convinced that the earth was round and not flat, he had thought up a very arduous and ambitious project: to get to the Indies by crossing the ocean instead of  by land.

            Columbus presented his idea first to the King of Portugal, then to the King of Spain, and neither one of them listened to him. Don’t be surprised by this, because in those days everyone was convinced that the earth was flat, and to think of the earth as being round was considered madness. The only person who listened to him, ten years after he had first presented his project, was queen Isabella. So, with her help, Christopher Columbus was able to equip three caravels and leave Porto, sailing towards the realization of his dream. It was very, very difficult, during the trip, to keep his crew’s faith up so they could get to their destination. And when they finally came to land, Christopher Columbus had not found the Indies, but a new continent.

            I believe that since that day not only a new continent, America, has begun to be explored, but from that day on the unification of the East with the West began in a vast, global way. Another Italian, Marco Polo, had already begun this unification some years before.

 

            I believe that Christopher Columbus’ enterprise had, among many others,  the purpose of unifying the whole earth into a single organism, and this goal is being reached every day a bit more.

I mentioned Marco Polo, who created the first connection between West and East; I mentioned Christopher Columbus; I also want to mention Marconi, because if today we can communicate from one end of the globe to the other, it is again possible thanks to another Italian, Guglielmo Marconi.

           

            You all know how all of our ways of communicating via radio, via television, via telephone etc. are also thanks to another Italian genius. I  think that if you can try to imagine the gigantic effort that the earth is making through us human beings to become one unified organism, if you can see this project of the earth’s as an organism, then what I want to present to you today contains an even greater project.

 

            I want to propose the unification between human beings and the universe, the unification of the entire universe. I realize that what I am saying is very difficult to accept. You will have to be very patient in following me during each step.

 

            Let’s go back to the idea of courage, so that it is clear to you what kind of courage I am asking you to have. On one hand I am asking you to set  off on a journey with our three caravels, the Institute of Analytical Psychotherapy, the Institute of Existential Personalistic Anthropology and the CERVOA {Center for Research on Life as a Work of Art}, towards the discovery of a new continent, but on the other I am asking you to set off towards the project of unifying the human universe with the universe itself and the entire universe in all of its parts, so as to create a whole.

Do you realize how much courage such an enterprise requires?

I do have the courage to ask you to have this courage.

 

The cosmologies that we are familiar with so far in our history are of four types: mythological, religious, philosophical and scientific. Generally these cosmologies were created independently from one another. Sophia-Art poses the question of whether it is possible to create a new one, and blend together elements that pertain to religion, philosophy, science and art.

 

 

            Let’s take this affirmation as a basic assumption: “just as ontogenesis mirrors phylogenesis, the microcosm mirrors the macrocosm, so by understanding the microcosm we can reach knowledge of the macrocosm”.

            By macrocosm we here mean the universe. By microcosm here we are referring to the human being, because it seems that we can say with sufficient certainty the human being represents the most complete microcosm in comparison to all the other microcosms that exist in nature.

            We also have much more knowledge about this microcosm than we do about any other microcosm. In fact, while we do have inner knowledge of the human experience, no one will ever be able to give us inner knowledge of other living organisms.

            Does following such criteria mean that we are building an anthropomorphic cosmology?

            It’s obvious that we run such a risk and we must continuously check ourselves so it doesn’t happen. The best way we can avoid this from happening is to base our research, as mentioned above, on the ability to unite the essence of this subject as explained by religion, philosophy, science and art, where each explanation both corrects the others and integrates them.

            For example, it’s obvious that a cosmological vision that doesn’t take the data offered by physics and astrophysics into account would have absolutely no value. But by the same token, it would not be of much value if only these scientific approaches were utilized and others were ignored.

            Here we want to affirm that every world view that is created by looking only at one type of data, be it religious or philosophical or scientific, produces a view that is fallible. This is true because it would be a view that is both true and false at the same time, it would always be incomplete and reductionist, and it could never explain the complexity of the universe all by itself.

            The point of view expressed in Sophia-Art makes sense in that it allows us to:

a) proceed in a dialectical manner;

 

Our way of thinking cannot be only linear, where things are seen as being either in black or white. It must be, instead, dialectical, and not only dialectical but circular. Thus we must adopt a linear way of thinking, a dialectical thought process of thesis, antithesis and synthesis, and then a circular way of thinking that integrates both linear and dialectical thinking.

 

b) blend together the contributions from other points of view into a unified one by either purifying them of their falsehoods and keeping their truths, or by concentrating their contributions through a synthesis of opposites, thus reaching a concentration of truths that will never be linear but will always be complex;

 

c) maintain the complexity of the human phenomenon as a constant reference point, and thus have a guide that is based on fact and not on unverifiable fantasies.

 

Let’s look for a moment here what I mean by Cosmoanthropic principle.

The formulation of this principle was created in my mind as a development of my reflections on the anthropic principle created by a group of American scientists.

Anyone who would like to know more about the anthropic principle can read Stephen Hawking’s book “A Brief History of Time”, and the book “God and the New Physics” by Paul Davies.

 

            My own Cosmoanthropic principle is the formulation of a principle whose roots lie  in the anthropic principle but then detaches from it completely.

 

The Cosmoanthropic Principle

 

            “ To every question that we ask about the universe and that at this time does not have an answer we will ask an equal one regarding humanity. The answer we consider as being valid for humanity we will consider it as being valid for the universe as well”. We will not assume a definitive and acritical position towards the answers we find. Analogies are precious tools but they must be used heuristically, as an invitation to formulate daring new hypotheses and as dialectical departure points, not givens.

 

            This means that if I make affirmations on the basis of the cosmoanthropic principle, these are to be considered not definitive truths but rather as points of departure for research.

Humanity contains within itself all the truths of the cosmos. By asking ourselves the right questions we will continually find new answers that will complete this truth. What are the questions we can ask ourselves?

What follows are some examples, such as : how was the universe created?

 

            This is a fundamental question. Science does not know how to answer this question, rather, for now it has formulated a hypothesis that affirms the creation of the universe through the explosion of the Big Bang. Science up until now has been able to explain what happened starting from one second after the Big Bang. Scientists are working to try to understand what happened during the first second, but, as Stephen Hawking, one of the greatest contemporary scientists, affirms, science tells us that we will never be able to know what happened before the first second. In a moment I will confute this affirmation and I will explain how and why.

 

            I could add another question: where does the universe come from? If science is not yet able to answer this question, but I want an answer to it, what can I do? If I follow the Cosmoanthropic principle, I turn towards humanity and I ask: where do human beings come from? How was the human being created?

Therefore, for all the questions that we ask about the universe that science has not yet answered, we can formulate the same question regarding human beings, regarding their essence and their existence.

 

We will ask what the answer is that we get regarding human beings and, according to the answers we get, we can then make the leap from the microcosm of the human being to the macrocosm of the universe.

Now I will give you some simplifications of this idea and some various ways of looking at it. This principle has numerous possible ways it can be used and you will become aware of this with time.

 

Scientific discoveries are the fruit of hypotheses and of research that confirms these hypotheses, or of theories built upon constant observations.

 

            What does this mean? When Einstein created his theory of relativity, first of all special relativity and then general relativity, he started out from a hypothesis. He worked around this hypothesis using mathematics. Einstein could not offer experimental proof of his hypothesis! He could offer no proof. Proof was found later on by other scientists who embraced Einstein’s hypothesis and worked so as to verify if this hypothesis was true or false. His theory was confirmed later on, not by Einstein, remember, but by other scientists. Therefore, one starts out with a hypothesis and then goes on to look for an experimental confirmation of the hypothesis; if such a confirmation comes, then the hypothesis is considered to have either a partial or a complete truth to it. The general theory of relativity is a partial truth, it is not a complete truth.

            Why is that? Because in the meantime quantum mechanics was developed and there is no agreement between quantum physics and general relativity, even though scientists are working to try to find one. This means that Einstein’s theory is a partial truth, just as Max Planck’s is, who discovered quantum physics. We still need yet another scientist or another set of scientists who can complete these two partial facets of the truth. Therefore, scientific discoveries are the result of hypotheses,  of research to confirm hypotheses or of constant observations on which theories are developed.

 

            The first scientist who worked in this manner was Aristotle. Aristotle observed the world of nature with infinite patience; he observed and observed and he then started building his theories on what he had observed. Many of his theories were very important ones, whereas many others were damaging. There is one which was particularly damaging and which I will try to confute in just a minute.

 

We must use this same approach when we are utilizing the cosmoanthropic principle.

 

            Therefore, the integration we must make is clear: if on one hand we make an affirmation that comes from the cosmoanthropic principle, on the other we can say that this affirmation can make sense if it integrates the scientific method, which takes a hypothesis and then attempts to verify its truth, or if one begins making a series of observations and then builds a theory based on these observations. Newton, who worked in the following manner, is a good example of this second method: he observed what happened with solids and he later formulated the law of universal gravity.

 

d) question a truth that has been taken as valid, every time that humanity dismantles one of its illusions or false perceptions so as a new, more complete vision of truth can be reached, that beforehand was unthinkable. This is what happened, for example, with Galileo Galilei.

 

What do we perceive? That the earth stays still and that the sun goes around it. Only with the help of Kepler, Copernicus and Galileo were we able to convince ourselves – and still not everyone is convinced, sometimes polls are made where large numbers of people are randomly asked when walking down the street whether they know if the earth orbits the sun or if instead it stays still or if the sun orbits the earth or if it stays still, and there is still a large percentage of people who are convinced that the sun is in orbit and the earth stands still. This is true as of 1988, and not in Europe but also in America, of all places.

Therefore, since we are convinced by our sensory perceptions, we say that the sun goes around the earth and the earth stands still; only by using  reason do we realize that this perception is false and that reality is completely different from what we perceive it to be.

           

            Now,  throughout human history we have made many of these types of conquests that have allowed us to realize that many of our perceptions are one hundred percent true, and many others are only partially true, so we must modify them. The same thing is true for what I am proposing to you. What I am telling you is the result of all of human experience up until now, as far as I know, but humanity will continue to progress in the future. How many other things will change in our way of thinking, in how we perceive things, in how we reason? We will have to again integrate all of the elements from the past with what is emerging in the present, and go forward from there.

 

Here is a recent example to illustrate this point. Nuclear physics affirms that it knows with certainty what has happened in the universe starting from one second after the Big Bang, and it is working ardently at trying to understand what happened during the first second. It also affirms, quite uncautiously, that it will never be possible to know what happened before that, since time began existing only during the first second and not before that.

And what if one day all this should end up being revealed as false, just as the idea that the sun orbited the Earth was revealed as false, or that it was not possible to divide the atom into smaller parts was discovered as being false? Who can keep us from thinking (and here the Cosmoanthropic principle comes into play) that perhaps one day we will be able to demonstrate that in the beginning the universe was like a female ovum, and that if it is like it is today, this happened because something similar to the sperm of a man fecundated it and made it explode into the Big Bang?

 

Today there is no proof of this but one day there could be (just as it happened with Galileo’s telescope) and we could see that just as billions of humans exist billions of universes exist, and just as a man unites with a woman to give birth to another human being, it could very well happen that one universe unites with another and gives birth to another universe.

But for us to be able to proceed in this way, that is undoubtedly quite dizzying, we must first overcome the authoritarianism of philosophy, which inevitably supports the authoritarianism of theology. Such purification is necessary if we want to free science and art and allow them to move beyond the columns of Hercules that philosophy and theology impose.

 

The philosophy of Aristotle affirms:

a)     that the principle of causality cannot be put aside;

b)     that it is impossible to proceed infinitely from one cause to another but that at some point we must come to an uncaused cause, a primum movens that is moved by none other except God, or the Absolute, an Ens a se and not ab alio, to the uncaused Being, without beginning or time, that is, though, the cause of every beginning and every time.

 

 

Let’s stop and look for a moment at these ideas.

 

            God=Ens a se: the necessary being that depends on nothing else.

Let’s clarify this first concept.

Ens a se. This is a Latin phrase that translates Aristotle’s Greek ideas. “Ens a se” means that it is a being that is derived from itself and from no other being.

“Ens ab alio” is a being that necessarily comes from another being and, while the ens a se is the necessary being, the ens ab alio is a contingent being. What does necessary mean? Necessary is whatever necessarily exists; thus God, who is the ens a se, necessarily exists. Humanity and the universe, which are ens ab alio, and I will now explain why, are contingent beings.

What does the word contingent mean? That it can either exist or not exist. It is not necessary.

Thus God, the ens a se, is the necessary being; everything that is created, that is the result of creation, is a contingent being. To be contingent means that whether it exists or not makes no difference at all. And if it does exist, it exists by pure chance and just as it exists it can not exist and it is completely unimportant.

Do you see the difference between being necessary and being contingent? Good. Now let’s look at the connection between ens a se and ens ab alio.

            What is an ens a se? An ens a se is the Being, that is God, that doesn’t depend on any cause outside of itself, and for this reason we say that God is causa sui, the cause of himself.

What is, instead, the ens ab alio? Ens ab alio is the being that receives its being from another, not from itself. Thus this being, whatever being that might be here, including all of us, are beings that have a cause, according to this philosophy. Who made this watch? The watchmaker; and who made the watchmaker? and so on and so on.

            Therefore, everything that is created, everything that is contingent, everything that is finite, is always the effect of a preceding cause; that preceding cause is the effect of a yet earlier cause and so on and so on. But the first principle that Aristotle formulated says that we cannot proceed infinitely from one effect to its cause, from a cause to another effect and so on. It is not possible. At some point we have to necessarily stop; at some point we must necessarily postulate a being that creates all other beings but who has not been created by any other being.

            Is this clear up to this point? Now let’s look again at the earlier text to make the connection with the following phrase clear.

 

The philosophy of Aristotle affirms:

c)      that the principle of causality cannot be put aside;

d)     that it is impossible to proceed infinitely from one cause to another but that at some point we must come to an uncaused cause, a primum movens that is moved by none other except God, or the Absolute, the Ens a se and not to ab alio, to the uncaused Being, without beginning or time, that is, though, the cause of every beginning and every time.

 

Why? Because if the contingent being exists, if humanity exists, if the universe exists, it

exists because God created it.

Because the ens a se generated the ens ab alio. Do you follow me?

 

The error in this second affirmation lies, in my opinion, in the affirmation that it can be demonstrated, philosophically and scientifically, that any event can be brought back to a single cause, even with infinite steps, instead of to a complexity of causes or at least to two.

 

            My confutation consists in affirming the following:

it is not possible, neither philosophically speaking nor scientifically speaking, to prove that any event originated from one single cause.

            Philosophy will never be able to offer this demonstration, nor will science be able to. To the contrary, science continuously demonstrates the exact opposite. What is its opposite? That there are instead a multiple number of causes that originate every event, there is never one single cause. To simplify it all what I say is: if it is difficult to demonstrate the complexity involved in multiple causes, can’t we at least say that there are two causes at the origin of every event? Let’s just start from this more simple affirmation. At the beginning of every event there are at least two causes, not one. Demonstration.

 

I don’t believe that philosophy can ever make such a demonstration and I do believe, instead, that science can show that every event always has a complexity and a multiplicity of causes. It can do so and it already has done so in many different cases.

If, then, we apply the Cosmoanthropic principle, we see that every child is born from two distinct causes: the father and the mother. This is also true for every animal and for every plant. And I also know that the father and the mother are not two absolute causes, but they are immersed in multiple causes that keep them alive and make them act. At the same token, both the ovum and the sperm need many other causes to develop, either as sources of ulterior energy or as stimuli.

 

            Is it clear what I am affirming here? With a mental abstraction we can say: I am the child of my father and my mother; I am the child of two causes; and I could very well stop there, but I will make a mental abstraction because history tells us something quite different. What does history tell us? That my father was also the son of a father and a mother and my mother was the daughter of a father and a mother; here we already have two plus two equals four plus two equals six, and if I keep going back how many causes will I have? To touch on this  just briefly what I want to say is: I am the child of a father and a mother, and I have only named two causes, but what is behind these causes?

            An infinite number of causes. Where did my father and my mother live? Didn’t they live in a specific geographic area? And the geographical area, the land, the city of Messina where they lived, isn’t this a cause? And the air they breathed, isn’t this a cause? And I could go on and on ad infinitum. Is this example of what multiple causes are behind a single or double cause clear?

 

To further shift our perspective regarding the principle of a single and absolute cause, I would like to ask you: first of all, is the genius of Einstein or Michelangelo or Mozart only the fruit of the single cause of their parents? And secondly, if this is the case, how is it possible that from the lesser, the banality of these parents, comes out something greater, which is the genius of these people?

      I could ask the same question regarding life. How is it possible that superior, more complex forms rise from inferior, less complex ones? Human beings from animals, animals from plants, plants from minerals and all of it reduced to a single cause,  not a multiplicity of causes.

      To correct and complete Aristotle’s thought I would here like to affirm the principle of circular causality, which states that reality is circular, just like a wheel is circular. Linear realities can only exist as being part of a circular reality, that is, as a part of a whole.

      The spoke of a wheel can exist only if it connects to the axis of the circle. It can never exist otherwise. From this we can see that linear causes can exist only if they are a part of a circular cause and, in particular, it follows that the linear demonstration that Aristotle uses to deduce the Ens a se from the ens ab alio, based on the principle of causality, is false because it affirms that the line is an absolute.

 

Now, so we can assimilate well these concepts, let’s say that the principle of a single cause is equal to a straight line; the principle of a circular cause equals a curved line, a circle.

Is this comparison clear? Then let’s say that a straight line can exist only if it is part of a circle and here we must stop, because we immediately come to the point where all arguments fall through.

            If we look at any room, we can see that there are many straight lines; a table has a horizontal straight line and another one that is vertical. We have only straight lines and none that are curved. But so how does what I am saying pan out? By steps. If I ask you to use your imagination to leave this room and think of the space in the universe, think of the sky and all the stars and tell me, would you be able to find a straight line in the sky? One that really exists, not just in your imagination. There are no straight lines in the sky. Sorry, none exist in the universe either.

 

            The truth is that while on earth straight lines can exist – and we will look at why in a moment – beyond earth no straight lines can exist.

You can look for them as long as you like, but you will never find any of them! If you want to draw the starry sky on a piece of paper, you can trace a straight line, for example, from one star to another, but this is an invention of yours. A straight line does not exist in the universe. But so how is it that they exist here on earth? Think for a moment about the ramps where missiles are launched into space; a launching pad looks straight, it’s vertical, right? And when the missile takes off it goes straight up according to how we perceive it, but after a few seconds, what happens to the missile? It starts to curve. Why is that? Here we have the clearest demonstration that every straight line can exist only as part of a curved one. Otherwise it cannot exist. We can create straight lines only on a small scale, where they clearly exist and we see them. On a universal scale straight lines do not exist, they cannot exist unless they are a part of a curved line, of a circle or of a spiral. Is this clear?

 

Comment from the audience: “The force of gravity comes into play though”.

That doesn’t matter. What is important is that straight lines cannot exist. This is what really counts.

Comment from the audience: “Why do there have to be either circles or spirals?”

It is a law of the universe, I can’t tell you why.

Every straight line is always a part of a circle or a spiral.

 

            Let’s look at some examples, first regarding earth and then regarding the universe. On earth we have examples of straight lines that are part of a circle, like in a wheel. A wheel is made up of a circle that has a  central axis, the spokes of the wheel connect the central axis with the peripheral circle and here we have straight lines, which are the spokes of the wheel, but they are a part of a circular reality.

            Is this image clear? Let’s say then that as far as our perception goes, straight lines do exist, but they exist only because they are part of a circular reality. There are some instances in which this circular reality is immediately evident, like in a wheel, and there are others in which it is less obvious and we have to use our reason to find it.

What conclusion can we draw here? That if we have made the analogy that says that a single cause equals a straight line and a circular cause equals a curved line, we can conclude that single causes cannot exist as separate from circular ones.

 

            Now we must try to take another step forward. Later on I will again talk about single cause and I will affirm that single causes do exist. My discourse must be dialectical and thus you must be patient with me. For now I’ll say that a single cause can exist in that it is part of a circular cause, just like the spokes of a while are straight lines which are a part of a circular reality.

            To return to my confutation of Aristotle, if I remain convinced that straight lines can exist by themselves, then I can affirm along with Aristotle that the ens a se exists as a single cause. If instead I recognize that they cannot exist, through the reasoning demonstrated here, I must recognize that this is false. It is an arbitrary abstraction that Aristotle created and every philosopher and theologian since he first made it has followed along with it. And not only have the philosophers and the theologians followed along with it, so have each one of us. Even though I am here telling you these things, I still do not consider myself as being free of thinking or being tempted to think that absolute straight lines exist. I know this is a fallacy, but I tend to think this way because this is the way of thinking I was born into, this is my cultural background. It is not easy to change our way of thinking, it is indeed very difficult.

 

            Now, try to follow along with me in this other digression. I told you in the beginning that after Christopher Columbus all of humanity accepted to be convinced that the earth is round and not flat. Today everyone is sure that the earth is round and not flat even though what we see is a flat earth. We can’t see that it is round, right?

We are also used to thinking that God is flat and I want to ask you to begin convincing yourselves that God is round and not flat.

 

I have no doubt that this brief reasoning can clear the mind of philosophers and scientists from their unquestioned dependence on Aristotle and theology.

      Einstein spent half of his life looking for a way to confute quantum physics, only because “God cannot play dice” and he could not give up the idea of God.

      The same thing seems to happen today with Stephen Hawking, the greatest researcher on black holes and astrophysics, because he too is obsessed by the presence or the absence of the idea of God.

 

            His whole book, From the Big Bang to Black Holes,  is based on this dilemma: is there a God or is there not a God?

Can you see how the way of thinking that Aristotle initiated continues to influence the minds of the greatest scientists?

 

What in philosophy is called Being and Nothingness, in theology is called God and Nothingness, and in physics is called quantums of energy and the quantum void, in Sophia-Art all these names indicate two distinct causes, which have always existed and which have always mated to give birth to new universes. They represent the Yin and the Yang, the masculine and feminine principles that the Chinese Tao and the Hindu religion speak of.

      There is no reason to make these two entities into divinities or to hypostasize

 

hypostasize in this case means the same thing as making into a divinity

 

 them, which only creates all kinds of unsolvable contradictions in the lives of human beings.

      Now that I am an adult, I no longer need to make my father and my mother into divinities, but when I was a child I had to do so.

      Nor do I need to make myself into a divinity to give my life or anyone else’s life meaning, or to give spirituality and love an important place in my own life and in my relationships with others. Nor do I need to do so to figure out if I will have an immortal destiny or not. According to Sophia-Art all I need to know is if I will be able to make my life a work of art or not, and not all by myself but together with many others.

      I believe that at this point I can trace the essential lines of my cosmological vision.

 

            Now I would like to change my tone. Up until now I have spoken philosophically and scientifically, from now on I want to ask you to take what I am saying as though it were a fairy tale. I am asking you to listen to a fairy tale, and if you like what you hear you can accept it, if you don’t like what you hear you are more than welcome to not accept what I say.

Here is my fairy tale.

 

  1. The origins of the universe

 

There is no God who created the universe from nothing.

           

            I am sorry to have to disagree with the Bible (a book that I love very much for many reasons) but this is not the first time this has happened in history.

            The universe had a mother and a father, just like every human being does.

            This father and mother can be called in many ways. I prefer calling them Masculine Principle and Feminine Principle and I don’t have to make them into divinities but I do have to free myself of any idea of uncaused and absolute cause that sits there and observes and judges what I do with my life. My life belongs only to myself and I am completely responsible for it, both for good and bad.

 

  1. Is this the only universe that exists?

 

Many universes exist besides this one and nothing tells me that I have to know only this one I am living in now. If I transform my life into a work of art, I could find that I have discovered the key that will allow me to go from one universe to the next. To the contrary, if I refuse to transform myself, I could remain simply a man animal that falls into the nothingness and annihilation of its subjectivity once its biological form and physical form that incarnated it dissolves, just as what happens to plants and animals.

 

  1. Life after death

 

This is a development of point ‘2’. There I affirmed the existence of other universes and of the idea that those who transform their lives into works of art can go from this universe to another universe, and begin a new life there.

      How could this be possible?

      I have already explained this thoroughly in my book La vie comme oeuvre d’art {Life as a work of art}.

      Here I want to indicate another possible answer.

      Men produce sperm and women produce ovules. To create a new life these sperm and ovules must detach themselves, begin to move, encounter each other and fuse together.

      I think that every human being detaches from this life and its earthly identity dies, just like an ovum or a sperm detaches and dies, so as to acquire a new identity that comes about when it fuses with a partner in another universe.

      Not all sperm and ovules that are produced end up generating new life.

      Not all human beings who die are thus capable of beginning a new life. Those who remain profoundly egotistical are incapable of melding with another being and beginning a new life. An egoist will never accept losing his or her individual identity, thus he or she can never be part of a couple, whether it be in this life or in the next.

      It is also true that it takes art to find the right partner; it takes art to bring them out of their shell and obtain their agreement to fuse together. It takes art to make sure that this fusion completely extends into a complex project, such as life as part of a couple, and it takes art to face the many obstacles that could transform a life project into an abortion and overcome them together.

      It is not enough, therefore, to not be egotistical, as the religions tell us, to be able to incarnate in another universe. One must also become an artist and an artist of one’s own life. This is what Sophia-Art proposes.

Most animals, plants and human beings – maybe not all, but most – use forms of art to court each other.

      Some use visual effects, full of color, like flowers, and some use song, like birds. Some use olfactory effects and others use rhythmic movements that express the strength, grace and beauty of a dance.

 

      Human beings who want to incarnate into another universe must learn, before they die,  to transform themselves into visual, sonorous, rhythmic and perhaps even olfactory and taste artistic vibrations.

      The purpose of the wide range of human arts that artists have created is to move people, and inspire wonder in them through their five senses. There is a form of art for the eyes, one for the ears, one for the mouth, one for the olfactory sense, perfume, and one for the body, which is dance. These forms attract people and create fusions, fusions among human beings and fusions between human beings and art. New life is always produced through these fusions.

      Perhaps this is the way to the other side: knowing how to produce artistic vibrations in all kinds of ways so as to court and enchant our twin souls in other worlds and thus assure new life.

 

  1. The problem of evil and pain

 

If a God exists, the God of the philosophers and the theologians who created the universe and the presence of both physical and moral evil, we will never find an adequate response to why these things exist in this world. We are faced with so many philosophical and theological contradictions, that to find a coherent way of thinking we are  forced to either draw all kinds of far-fetched conclusions, or to simply attribute these things to the mysterious will of God. Either that or we must simply accept the brutal coherence of Saint Thomas of Aquino, which states that the damned are necessary to glorify God, or Saint Paul’s, who states that Christ’s death was necessary to save the world from guilt, because God had no better solution.

But the worst contradictions arise within the hearts of men and women, not in their minds, when the hour of drama, pain and evil strikes and they are faced with their unbearable weight.

Camus was horrified by all the pain in the world, but he was especially horrified by the pain and death of innocent people.

Today no one perhaps is as horrified as he was but this is certainly not because people have greater faith.

            But if it wasn’t God who created the world, then there is no absurd, unjust world which we must fight against. There is instead a world without meaning that only an artist can give meaning to.

            An artist who has not been faced with evil and with pain is a mediocre one, and his or her art is mediocre as well.

            Instead, whoever has learned to transform evil and pain into artistic creativity is capable of creating great works of art.

            Even greater is the type of art created by those who transform their whole life into a work of art, using the energy contained in evil and in pain, both that which is experienced directly and that which pertains to the outside world.

 

  1. Is the universe contracting?

 

Physicists ask themselves if this universe that is today expanding will continue to expand forever or if one day it will stop doing so and will begin an endless collapse.

      Sophia-Art offers the following answer to this, by using the Cosmoanthropic model.

      The entire universe is a single living organism, just like a human being is. A human being expands from conception until adulthood, but then it does not contract, it stops expanding at the point it had reached until after quite some time physical death overcomes it.

      Why should the universe contract like some sort of magic trick? This universe will, of course, one day die. But human beings generate children and many other things before they die. Therefore, how many other universes will it have generated and how many other things that today cannot be imagined will be created before it collapses and dies?

 

  1. Does the universe have an I Person?

 

If the universe is a single living organism, like a human being, it is feasible that like humanity it has a central subject, an I that thinks, desires, loves, makes plans and creates. Thus the universe would have its own I  that is a central subject and that thinks, loves and acts: in other words, an I Person.

But just like my I Person is not God, neither in a philosophical nor in a theological sense, why should the I Person  of the cosmos be one?

As a living being, I am made up of billions of cells and billions upon billions of atoms. Every cell and every atom each also have a central subject that thinks, loves and creates.

How can I possibly think that my conscious I does not communicate with my cells and atoms and vice-versa?

I can, of course, separate myself from them and I can oppose them with my madness, or I can transcend myself and ask my cells and atoms to follow me in my process of transcendence and in my work of art. In this manner we could create together a total joy of being.

In the same way I can unify my conscious, global I with the Cosmic, global I of the universe and become part of the cosmic harmony. Isn’t this what the mystics from all religions throughout the ages have done?

Following my personalistic metapsychology, outlined in my book Teoria della Persona {Theory of the Person}, I can attribute to both human beings and the universe a Psychological I, a Corporeal I, a Personal SELF and an I Person.

Or, being even bolder, I could think that the systemic whole containing these four components found in human beings, which is not a simple sum of the various parts, represents the Corporeal I, the Psychological I, the I Person and the SELF of the whole universe.

All together they represent the being and the future of the totality of the Cosmic I that moves continuously from one form to another, from one creation to another, from one transcendence to another, from one work of art to another. This happens so as to bring the many to the One, without cancelling the many, and the One to a contemplation of the Beauty that is thus created and to the ecstatic joy that is experienced when this happens.

 

            To help your minds concentrate on the topic I will give you another example of yet another reality that can become an analogy of what we have already said about single cause and circular cause or multiple single causes, and about circular causality and multiple causes.

            Think about a genealogical tree; a genealogical tree is made up of single lines. If you think about it, think above all about, for example, the genealogical tree of a monarchy, or a king that descends from another king and so on. What I want you to notice is that a genealogical tree is only a mental abstraction that does not take history into consideration. As one of you has pointed out, the female element is always eliminated in a genealogical tree. I mention this to bring you back to where we started when we were talking about causality, about Aristotle’s principle of causality, which is also an abstraction that does not take reality into account.

            And just like a genealogical tree does not take reality into account, because reality has multiple causes, we use straight lines in them to make it easier for us, but at the cost of skipping over elements and thus not truly reflecting the reality of a family history.

 

            Now let’s look at another discourse that I want to undertake.

In the beginning I mentioned Christopher Columbus and how his voyage began the unification between East and West and the unification of the earth as a global reality. I also asked you to have the courage necessary to undertake a new enterprise. An enterprise which entails unifying humanity with the universe and the universe in all its various parts.

 

            Someone mentioned how hard it is to follow this line of thought and I told him that he’s absolutely right. If earlier we had to find the courage to jump in the saddle of a horse, and we know what horses are like, now I am going to ask you to jump into the saddle of a winged horse, not just a simple horse. You are going to need even more courage, because I am asking you to jump onto a winged horse and ride it so we can undertake this type of unification.

 

            Here is another idea that we can use as the basis for our discussion. A human being is made up of a central nervous system and a peripheral one. The central nervous system is found in the brain and in the spinal column; all the connections to the peripheral nervous system come out from the spinal column.

            So, now let’s ask ourselves a question: where is the universe’s central nervous system and where is its peripheral nervous system?

            Second question: if we look at the evolution of life on earth, we know that early on there was no nervous system, then a peripheral nervous system developed and after that a central nervous system came into being. Later on, the connection between the peripheral nervous system and the central one was brought about. If this is what happened regarding the evolution of life on the earth, then what is it that must happen so that the universe’s peripheral nervous system and its central nervous system become connected?

I still don’t know how to answer these questions.

 

  1. Does life in this universe exist only on Earth?

 

I believe that this question is not asked quite in the correct manner. Let me explain. If the universe is a living organism, just like human beings are, life in the universe exists everywhere, in every part, just like life is present in every part of a human being.

The right way to ask this question could be as follows: does life reproduce only on Earth, or does it do so elsewhere as well?

Let’s again look at human beings to find the answer. The reproductive organs of men and women are found only in one area of their organism, not in more than one. The uterus is found only in one place within the woman, not in more than one place. It would be counterproductive for the proper function of the whole organism if there was more than one uterus in a single body.

I believe that the Milky Way, which the solar system containing the Earth belongs to, represents the male and female reproductive organs for the life of the entire universe. Other galaxies have other functions.

In the universe there is only one uterus and this uterus is the Earth.

            We can continue thinking and hoping that other living beings exist but if we do so I would suggest that we look for them not within this universe, but within other universes that are developing within infinite space, beside and beyond our own universe.

           

  1. Did time exist before this universe did?

 

Before I was conceived, my time didn’t exist but my father’s time and my mother’s time did, as well as that of many others.

Therefore, before this universe was born its own time did not exist but the time of previous universes did, which mated and created this one.

Is it so difficult to accept such a simple idea?

Or is it too simple to be appealing to the complicated minds of the philosophers?

But who were they themselves born from?

Aren’t they also children of a father and a mother?

One would think not. And just like so many children refuse to consider themselves children of their parents and they fantasize about who knows what kind of origins, many philosophers, who cannot accept the essential simplicity of life, wrack their brains with metaphysical speculation so that they make it seem they are different and very much better than the rest of us poor mortals.

I really like how Davide Lopez, in his book La vita nella selva {Life in the jungle} , tears them apart by declaring how miserable their phallic, Napoleonic  and megalomanic I  really is.

Then, thanks to Einstein, we know that time and space make up a whole, so what I have said about time refers to space as well. My own space-time begins existing with the beginning of my existence, and it will end when my life does.

And just like my space-time is within a space-time that is greater than mine, the space-time of this universe is part of a much bigger one.

What’s the problem if the human mind cannot manage to explain and even imagine this greater space-time? Is the human mind by chance capable of imagining four dimensions? And does this mean that four dimensions don’t exist?

 

  1. The role of art in the universe

 

Sophia-Art has an even more interesting question for the philosophers.

The history of philosophy is very vast and it stretches across the centuries. Have philosophers yet managed to explain to us what art is, what is art and what isn’t art, and why? One philosopher steps up and says: this is art. The next one comes along and says, no, all of you who came before me have been wrong, I’ll tell you what art is. But even this last one’s discourse is garbled and so no one has ever really managed to tell us yet what art really is. Art, though, has continued to exist and develop and it never dies, whereas philosophical systems do.

What is the great mystery we are dealing with here?

For me, art is a creation that is even greater than the creation of the very universe itself. I will attempt to demonstrate this.

In a work of art what did not exist before now exists, and it does not exist like an inanimate thing but like a living subject. It is not just any living plant, animal or human subject, that lives, reproduces and dies. It is a living subject that lives forever.  It generates unending energy and it never dies even after the artist who created it is dead.

Let’s try to put the artist in the place of the God of the philosophers and theologians, and we will find that an artist creates everything out of nothingness.

Here the nothingness I refer to is not in terms of being, but in terms of a quantum void from which all forms and all possible potentials emerge.

 

According to quantum physics, a quantum vacuum is the ability to contain packets of energy, but at an unfathomable level of condensation. Thus a quantum vacuum is an infinite ability to  maximum concentration of packets of energy.

 

This nothingness is intended as totally not being, in the sense that before the work of art was created it was truly nothing, it did not exist at all. Then the miracle happens and the artist creates its non-being into being, its non-existence into existence,  non-living into  living and into an immortal living being.

And the artist that existed previously only at the level of a biological being is now transformed, as it is incarnated into the work of art and the matter that is the work of art’s medium. Before there was just one and now they are three, which are both fused together and distinct from each other: the medium, the work of art and the artist.

 

If we look at this practically, thinking of a painting, what is it on? It is on a canvas. And what is the work of art? We don’t really know, but it is visible and we can enjoy it. Think of Botticelli and of his Primavera, or think of Leonardo da Vinci and his Gioconda; in each one of these works both the art and the artist that created them are inside of them. They are both three and one: the medium, the work of art and the artist.

 

What a synthesis of opposites and what harmony arises from this synthesis!

According to theology and philosophy, God is eternal and cannot die, because he lies beyond time. At the same time he is nonetheless present in the time of this universe. The theologians say that the contingent being, the universe, could not remain alive, could not keep on existing if the necessary being, God, should withdraw his support from the universe.

 

It is easy to make this concept clear. Here I have my key chain and I am holding it up in the air with my hand; if I take my hand away, my key chain cannot stay up in the air and so it will immediately fall to the ground. This is the image of the relationship that exists between God who is ens a se and the universe that is ens ab alio, according to philosophers and theologians. The universe which is a contingent being cannot exist if God is not always holding it up, because as soon as God takes his creative action away the universe will fall into nothingness.

But now let’s look at the comparison between the artist and the work of art.

 

Instead, artists can die. They die when their biological time is over. But, strangely, they never die completely: they continue to live, to be present and to act, within their works of art and through their works of art, which were created within time but which are beyond time as well. They can pass through all time, as long as there is a material medium that can sustain their existence and as long as there will be other human beings to appreciate a work of art and give it new life and new continuity.

 

Imagine here the power that not only the artist who created the work of art has, but also the power that those who enjoy it have, because if there is no one to enjoy it the work of art cannot exist,  nor can the artist. If we look at it this way we can begin to understand the concept of circular cause between the artist who creates and those who enjoy the work of art.

Let’s look at an even clearer example. Do you like rock music? I don’t like it, but at this time millions of people like it. Could a rock singer exist if he didn’t have millions of fans who go to listen to him sing, who buy his recordings or who go to his concerts?

He can exist by himself but in that case he is the only one who listens to his music. If he wants to exist publicly he needs his fans. The same thing is true for a soccer player. If no one goes to the stadium to watch the game, a soccer player will exist only for his team mates.

            Now can you understand circular cause? What it really means? Without someone to appreciate works of art, artists cannot exist, a soccer player cannot exist without his fans, nor can a rock singer exist without his.

            So it is important that we not only look at the power the artist, the soccer player or the movie star has, we have to see the essential relationship that each one has with their fans. We must understand and deeply comprehend how important the artistic power of those who connect with a certain artist really is. Because if this does not happen the artist cannot exist, either on a public level or socially or historically. The artist can exist on his or her own, but no one will ever know that he or she has existed.

 

And, contrary to the universe in relationship to God, a work of art can exist all by itself, once it has sprung from the mind of an artist. If the artist is not there, if the artist dies, the being and the existence of the work of art suffers no damage at all.

 

Try to look at this with respect to the difference between a philosophical, a theological and an artistic conception of things.

We have said that if I hold my watch up with my hand it will stay there as long as I hold it; if I take my hand away, the watch will fall. According to the philosophers and the theologians we cannot exist if God does not keep holding us in existence. If he does not keep us in existence we will disappear into nothingness. This is the power of God. It seems to me to be a very limited kind of power; if he doesn’t stay there holding our hands his creation will disappear into the void.

 

            Is it this way for an artist and a work of art? No, it is not the same type of power! Once Leonardo da Vinci created the Gioconda, it will exist for as long as the canvas exists, until it has been destroyed by an earthquake or a fire or by who knows what. The work of art will continue to exist even if Leonardo da Vinci isn’t right there holding it up. This is the power of the artist.

According to you, which is greater, God’s power or the power of the artist?

I hope you can understand the difference!

 

It is there forever.

How strange is that! Does the artist have more creative power than God? And does the work of art have a quality of being than the one this universe has?

So how big, exactly, is the power of an artist?

One could say that it would be better to be an artist than to be God!

But there is at least one point on which we could argue it would be not be better to be artists than to be God.

When artists create something, when they are completely involved in the creative process, there is a long, terrible moment in which they must face death and emptiness. They must empty themselves of everything their existence has been up to that point so they can make space for the fullness that is the work of art that springs out of nothingness, out of emptiness, out of the heart and total being of the artist.

God knows nothing of this death and knows nothing of this emptiness.

God is and does not become anything else.

God is and doesn’t have to die.

God is eternal beatitude and he doesn’t have to suffer.

God creates instantly and knows nothing of labor pains. The labor pains of a woman giving birth; the labor pains of an artist who is creating. Oh how wonderful it would be to be God in those moments!

 

And God said: let there be light, and there was light. That’s easy, right? But for us it isn’t so easy. Whoever has spoken at a conference knows something about it, right? How easy it would be to be God instead of being a person presenting a paper at a conference, where you have to get up in front of a room full of people who seem like a monster ready to eat you up: one’s stomach becomes a battle field! This is what I mean by labor pains. And God, the God of the philosophers and the theologians, what does he know about labor pains?!

 

  1. Is the I Person of the universe an artist?

If up until now we have spoken critically of philosophy and theology and have been enthusiastic about art, now the time has come to integrate the historical influence of philosophy and theology with that of art in our conception of the universe.

 

Here is an example of my way of thinking in a dialectical, circular fashion. If earlier I was speaking sarcastically of the philosophers and the theologians, now I would instead like to start talking about the wonderful things they have done.

 

We embrace the philosophical and theological idea of the existence of God as the creator and first cause, but we want to try to reformulate it in an artistic way, by using once again the Cosmoanthropic principle and the principle of circular causality.

Everything that we know about human beings as artists we can apply not to he who has created the universe but to he who is creating this universe. We will try to apply this idea according to circular causality.

As science tells us, the universe, in fact, is not completely created, it is in a phase of being created. It is in a phase of expansion and growth and it is just fifteen years old. If we consider a billion years as being one cosmic year, and if fifteen billion years have passed since the Big Bang – although science is still cautious about establishing this number precisely – we can say that fifteen billion years are the same as fifteen cosmic years. Therefore, the universe is fifteen cosmic years old.

Here we are inspired by the Cosmoanthropic principle to utilize what philosophy and theology tell us, be it in another context and by using a different modality.

If we reflect on how a human being is born, as a biological being, we have to recognize that there are essentially two generating causes: the father and the mother. But if we reflect on how a human being creates himself or herself as a man or a woman, we know that they are a single cause of themselves in the moment they decide to become a man or a woman or to build themselves as a man or a woman.

 

If we reflect on how human beings act with regards to morality or growth, we know that here, too, human beings are essentially a single cause of their actions. They are the sole ones responsible for their ability to give an artistic form and content to their creativity.

 

Is this idea clear to you?

If we look at how a man or a woman goes from the stage of infancy to the stage of adulthood, not in a biological sense, which happens automatically, but in an interior way (think about it, how is it that we transform ourselves from children into adults?), can anyone else do this for us? Can our parents do it for us? They cannot. Can our therapists do it for us? No, they can’t. Can teachers do it for their students? Of course not.

A child, an adolescent can only decide to do it him or herself. No one from outside can decide whether or not we will become adults or whether we will stay children.

 

Comment from the audience: “A child can be taught how to do it, though”.

Yes this is true, but that doesn’t necessarily make any difference. A teacher is important; however, at the time the decision must be made, an individual is alone with him or herself. If he or she decides to become an adult they will do so, if not, they never will.

 

Comment from the audience: “But can’t the individual be helped to make the decision?”

Yes, the teacher can help, adult role models can help, but only those who are adults internally can do so.

Here’s another example: let’s think about a person who has to own up to a moral responsibility. Who is it that decides whether to do something moral or something immoral? Does anyone else decide for me?

Only I can decide for myself. And I am the single cause of my moral actions.

And what about an artist who creates something? Can the artist call someone else to come and substitute her in the act of creation?

 

Now, this universe has a spiritual life as well as a biological one, just like human beings do.

If we postulate that at its beginning there are two causalities, a masculine principle and a feminine principle, which are central causes flanked by a number of other causes, the origins of this universe’s spiritual life must necessarily have a single central cause: a single subject that decides as  a causa sui, as a cause of itself and as an uncaused cause.

 

Uncaused cause means that no other has generated it. Let’s look again at the case of an adolescent who is becoming an adult. The adolescent who is becoming an adult is a causa sui and an uncaused cause, because the parents or the teachers cannot cause the effect of an adolescent becoming an adult if the adolescent does not decide to do so him or herself. In the moment in which an adolescent transforms himself into an adult, he is the sole cause of his transformation and of his creation of himself.

 

My father and my mother are the cause of my life but they are not the cause of my actions. The cause behind my actions is my I as a subject, my I Person.  The cause of my biological I lies in my parents and in the human species, but my parents are not the cause of my I Person

My I Person generates itself. I am the cause of my actions and my decisions, I create myself. I generate myself as creator of myself, I am a single cause, I generate my own works of art.

At this point, by analogy, it would appear to be necessary to reintroduce into the creation of the universe the first cause that the philosophers and theologians speak of. It becomes necessary to do so if the universe must have a spiritual life as well as a biological one, and if this spiritual life can only be in a process of being created, like it is for humanity, and not already completed from the first moment that the universe began to exist.

A first, single cause that is immanent to the universe, is within the universe and not outside of it, just like my I Person is within me and not outside of me. Others would speak of the soul of the universe, whereas I am speaking of the Cosmic I, the I Person of the universe that is in a process of becoming. I want to do so not speculatively, but rather by applying everything I know about the I of human beings as artists, artists of their own lives and artists of themselves.

This procedure cannot be linear, it must necessarily be dialectical. First we will affirm one thing and then we’ll negate it with other arguments, not to destroy what we affirmed before but to make a synthesis of concepts and realities that are opposite to each other.

This will also serve to affirm the presence of the principle of circular causation.

We can all agree on the fact that every artist is a creator.

But if we ask the question: is every artist a first and only cause of his or her work of art? We could answer that this is partially true and is partially untrue. The paternity of a work of art most certainly lies with the artist who made it but the artist is not the only one at work.

Every artist is part of a communications network whose roots are in the past and whose branches are in the present. Every artist expresses both continuity with and a breaking away from the artists who preceded them; every artist is influenced by the culture they live in at the present time, and they can also connect with any cultural thread that pertains to the past. Their intuition can also propel them into the future and make them capable of seeing what does not yet exist.

In this sense, artists are not and cannot be the first and only cause of their works of art. They work together with many non-causes, but there is a time when they synthesize all these causes into a single cause, together with their selves and their own perceptions, when they are actually creating. At that point they then become a first and only cause of their work.

Everything that exists before the artist’s own existence, and there are multiple factors, fuses together and unites with the artist’s own creative inspiration. Therefore the artist then becomes its own essential first cause.

Next to the artist, however, there is always empty space, the nothingness of all the works of art that have not yet been created. We have also said that the artist must be able to empty him or herself of everything they have been up to that point to be able to create, so as to give their work an autonomous existence and an immortal, artistic life.

When interacting with this emptiness, the artist is neither omnipotent nor omniscient, nor is he absolutely perfect. By creating he expresses his power and he becomes powerful, he expresses his art and he becomes a field of different energies; of knowledge and life, of love and beauty for both himself and for many others.

Coming back to our universe, it would seem wiser to postulate a God who is in the processes of creating the universe and who has the same qualities of an artist, rather than to postulate a God who has already created the universe and has the qualities that philosophers and theologians attribute to him.

 

This would help us overcome  omnipotence, omniscience and absolute perfection, which are all human needs and projections.

 

This could be the departure point for a new cosmology. Matter and energy can pass continuously from fullness to emptiness and from emptiness to fullness. This movement can be either chaotic or artistic. It is chaotic if there is no personal or impersonal force that organizes it and thus the movement occurs according to the laws of chaos and necessity; it is artistic if there is an I Person that molds and structures it so it becomes an art form, following the laws of art.

If we look at the physical structure of this universe we could decide to affirm that this universe is a work of art. But if we look at the “human phenomenon”, that is part of this universe, in all of its complexity and not only from a biological standpoint, how can we possibly affirm that it is a work of art?

We can only come to the conclusion that we must consider the qualities and the limitations of the Cosmic Artist. If on one hand it has shown itself to be powerful, on the other it has shown its impotence. It has been powerful regarding nature and powerless when it comes to humanity and human society.

But we could also look at things from a different point of view.

Perhaps the most arduous and most beautiful project that this Artist God – as postulated by Sophia-Art – has undertaken is to transform over time both itself and human beings from a mineral, plant and animal state to one of an artist. Not in the image of the God of the philosophers and the theologians, but in the image of an Artist God that is in a state of becoming.

An artist that creates his own happiness not before he has created the world, but while he is in the act of creating it.

An artist that realizes he cannot be perfect on the first try, like it seems instead the God of the Bible did when he created everything perfectly with his word, but that it is impossible to understand how he created his own happiness.

An artist that creates through trial and error, through continual attempts, and while he is trying he perfects himself and by perfecting himself he improves the quality of his work.

Just like Leonardo da Vinci, who always took his Gioconda with him as he moved from court to court, so that every day he could add some brushstrokes and touch it up a bit.

And here we could also imagine that the ideas for these touch-ups don’t just come from Leonardo, but at some point are inspired by the Gioconda itself, who communicates with Leonardo, sometimes graciously and sometimes arrogantly, suggesting the best touch-ups of all.

God, the artist, who models himself as a human being, over a long evolution lasting millennia, so he can give himself first a biological life and then a spiritual one, made up of intelligence, wisdom, love and artistic creativity.

God the artist who incarnates in humanity and gradually blends with its being, day by day, one step at a time, one transcendence at a time, one metamorphosis after another.

God that creates himself with human beings and in human beings with a quality of being that did not exist previously and that emerges in the moment of decision making, which only the I is the absolute Lord of, the sole first cause, the uncaused cause that has no beginning and that originates the fusion between human beings and the God that lives in them. This creates an incredible synthesis of opposites, a wonderful work of art, where one is not confused with the other but where the fruits belong to both, spring from both, show the best of both, so that joy and the fullness of life can spring forth and from life new life can continue to emerge.

God, the artist that first shapes human beings and then begins to speak with them, because they are two artists working together and no longer one working alone, as according to the principle of circular causality.

Just like what happens on the set of a movie or on the stage of a theater or in the orchestra pit.

There is no longer just one artist at work, such as the director of the film or the orchestra; there are more than one artist who create together – both as individuals and as a group – a work of art together with the audience who is not there just to watch but to participate, and is thus an integral part of the work of art.

Here there is room for human history, for human actions and human freedom and for the actions of God as well, if God is just an Artist and this artist is the I Person of the universe, which speaks to the I Person of human beings.

 

In conclusion, it was not necessary that there be a God to create this universe in its physical and biological reality. To create this universe in its spiritual reality, however, it is necessary that there exist a God that creates it by creating himself, just like a human being creates him or herself, like an artist creates him or herself.

On one hand this God is the I Person of the world, and on the other in part we are this God and in part we are yet to become it.

We have a lot of time ahead of us to do so.

In essence we, along with the universe, are just hitting adolescence.

 

Have I made up a fairy tale?

I certainly hope I have been able to do so.

I believe that all the cosmologies, from the mythological ones to the scientific ones, last through time as long as they are reassuring and illuminating to mankind.

A fairy tale is also a work of art, in a certain sense, and the ones which contain greater artistic qualities last through time, until they become immortal fairy tales.

I hope I have created an immortal fairy tale: the fairy tale of the cosmological conception of Sophia-Art.

This is only a first draft of it, a first attempt. To learn how far it has succeeded in its intent and where instead it hasn’t, I now have to speak with those of you I have told it to and then afterwards with those to whom I will tell it to in the future.

 

***

Comment from the audience: “I would like to say just two things. I feel that this vision is very, very revolutionary. It seems truly original. The importance of the I Person’s actions is a wonderful thing. But do you realize how free we are?!! Just the thought of being so free, of being no longer tied down,  is so exciting. This gives me even more energy to do so many things. I find it really exciting that we are the cause of ourselves and that our parents are a cause only at a level of the biological and psychological I, but not of the spiritual I. I am free!

And then there is another thing: when you spoke of making a step into a new life, I said to myself: well, then dying is like a passage, it’s an orgasm. I had already felt this, but now I know it’s true”.

 

Thank you, I hope that many others like you can feel the breeze of freedom that this new vision of the world brings along with it. It is our duty to conquer our freedom. But freedom cannot be an end unto itself. It must be part of a larger goal  so that it can be of service to life. Today I indicated two goals: the first is unifying humanity with the universe; the second is artistically transforming the life of humanity and the life of the universe, to create a form of immortal life from a form of mortal life.

 


THE PRAYER OF THE ULYSSEANS

 

            There are many types of prayer.

            It is praying when we ask someone for help (our ancestors, the gods, a God); we have examples of this type of prayer throughout the millennia found in thousands and thousands of archeological findings.

            Still today this is the most common form of prayer. It is a weak form.

 

            I adhere to a much larger definition of prayer.

Asking that something be given, even when it should be our given right, is prayer. For example, by asking our internal positive mother to give us what was taken away by the negative mother we obtain a double effect: the first is the reconstruction of the internal positive mother, like a benevolent presence that takes care of us; the second is the liberation from feeling guilty about wanting to get back what was violently taken from us by arrogantly demanding it.

            These two effects generate a third, that is most rare and precious: the ability to actually enjoy having our rights, that we have recuperated by receiving a gift rather than simply taking it by force.

            I would call this a strong prayer and an example translated into words could be: “Mother, would you please give me back the freedom you took away from me?”.

             This type of request contains at least three things: a) the ability to put aside one’s hurt pride, b) the ability to forgive one’s mother and c) the ability to recognize that the mother does have a positive side.

            Acting in this way is a way of expressing love for ourselves even more than expressing love for the mother.

            And it is like travelling around the moon and discovering the other side of the moon, the side that we usually cannot see but that does exist.

 

            Expressing gratitude to Life is a prayer.

            As is expressing appreciation to someone who deserves it. This is a type of prayer that dispels envy and introduces justice in relationships between people.

 

            For me, prayer, in its most basic form, has meant and still means being able to create a source of light and a source of continuous transformation in my life. A constant journey from lies to truth and authenticity. A way of transforming and unifying  my self and my various internal parts. A journey that carries me from ugliness to beauty.

 

            Intelligence and willpower are helpful for many things, but in many situations we don’t know what to do, we don’t know what to choose, we don’t know how to act. We are surrounded by darkness and we don’t know how to get out of it. In these cases it is important to turn to the precious help prayer can offer, as a possible source of light within ourselves and that materializes only if we learn how to pray.

            In this sense, prayer is an indispensable action if we want to go from living life as thieves to living life as a gift and from living life as violence to living life as a work of art.

 

            If we observe our existential reality, we can see that it is not only the I Person who prays, but it is also the Corporeal I, the Psychological I and the SELF, each one with its own way of doing so. The Corporeal I prays when it turns to the I Person and asks it to heal its physical ailments or to simply give it food, rest and play.

            The Psychological I prays when it asks the I Person to decide to do something about healing its psychological problems.

            The SELF prays when it knocks on the door of the I in a thousand different ways so it will decide to listen to it and carry out the transformations that are necessary, according to the laws of life.

            The artist prays too, when he invokes a Muse to receive inspiration when there is none to be had, and he prays even more when he is swimming in the torment of creation. This prayer is not known as such, but it is indispensable just the same. I think it is only right to call it prayer.

 

***

 

            To somehow define the structure of the I Person, let’s say that it is a spiritual principle that makes decisions based on love and on hatred, it decides to be free or to be a slave, it decides to be true or to be false, it decides to be a victim or to be an artist of its own life and of the life of the universe.

            The I Person is the living spiritual principle that chooses whether to value itself or to despise itself; it chooses to embrace certain values and which values have meaning rather than others; it chooses which dreams and projects it will follow; it chooses whether to have hope or to surrender to nihilism.

            The fact that the Psychological I, the Corporeal I or the SELF most certainly cannot make any of these choices by themselves offers ample proof that the I Person exists.

            Therefore we can also make the affirmation that the gene for prayer, that might explain why some pray and some don’t, will never be found.

            Prayer, too, is a free choice made by the I Person, helped along or hindered by the culture and the environment it lives in.

 

            The type of prayer that I want to draw your attention to, is the best way to accomplish a fusion between the I and the SELF, the Personal SELF and the Cosmic SELF. It is action-reflection-dialog that requires years of practice so that this fusion can come about.

            To avoid any danger of mystical alienation, I want to make it clear that this fusion is not an end in itself. Its purpose is to transform the I and to create a fusion between the I and the Life of the Cosmos, between the I and a You of a man and a woman. This last fusion is the most difficult to achieve for human beings. As history shows us, not only is not everyone capable of realizing it, but many are downright against it.

            We are living beings and we therefore possess life, but our will is almost always in opposition to Life. Our constant disappointment is that “life never goes the way we want it to” and this is a clear example of how there is no fusion between ourselves and Life.

            The fact, then, that the I and the You are in constant conflict is another clear example of how a fusion does not exist between an I and a You, even when the two are very much in love.

           

***

            Homer tells us that Ulysses turns to prayer many times. His prayers are directed both to Zeus and Athena.

            When Zeus responds, either the god Hermes arrives, or a lightning bolt comes out of a clear sky. Hermes appears to tell Ulysses how he must deal with the enchantress Circe and how he can win her favor; he comes to tell Calypso that Zeus wants her to let Ulysses go and that Zeus’ decision is final.

            When Ulysses decides to kill the Suitors, Zeus sends a lightning bolt so his approval is visible.

            When Ulysses prays to Athena, she doesn’t always show herself to him, but Homer tells us that the goddess often acts even before he formulates his prayer. She does so by coming to his aid so that he can reach Ithaca, step by step, the island of secondary beauty.

 

            If we look at Zeus and Athena as being inner parts of Ulysses, we can see that Zeus represents a will that cannot be bargained with as well as unexpected help that arrives suddenly, when he has lost all hope. Instead, Athena represents Ulysses’ wisdom, that works for his wellbeing, often unbeknownst to him. In the very first lines of the Odyssey, Homer affirms that this wisdom can be found within every human being.

 

            The will that cannot be bargained with, in my opinion, belongs to both the laws of life that we carry inside ourselves, and the Cosmic SELF, which contains a cosmic will that is greater than our own.

            This will works toward the realization of a global purpose that our intelligence is often incapable of understanding ahead of time.

            The unexpected help is an expression of the deep resources of human beings, resources that we often do not utilize.

 

            Ulysseans also pray to their SELF (Zeus and Athena), because they know that without prayer they cannot become artists of their own lives and of the life of the universe.

 

            Prayer is an energizing action that allows the I to overcome its fears and find the courage it doesn’t yet have to make the right decisions. It is also a space that is created inside of ourselves, where the I becomes capable of undergoing the kinds of changes it must  make so it can see what it doesn’t want to see and can do what it normally doesn’t want to do.

            Prayer is an energy field that is built up every time the prayer expands. It allows the I to gradually reach a fusion between the I and the SELF. This fusion is an indispensable goal for those who want to transform their life into a work of art.

 

***

 

The SELF is the first basic “You” within the I. (When the I is not specified, we are always referring to the I Person , which is the central subject of the human individual).

            The I and the SELF form a couple of opposites that contains both attraction and repulsion, just like in the male-female couple.

            And just like there is an inner male-female couple and an external one, there is also a SELF that is partly internal and partly external. It speaks to us from within and also from outside ourselves.

 

            Between the I and the You in a couple, there can be passion and feelings of being in love, but when these end hostility or indifference take their place. At this point one is faced with a very basic decision: should one give up on the couple relationship, or should one instead keep aiming for the goal by transforming oneself?

 

            The I and the SELF do not fall in love with each other. Sometimes they wait for each other, and look for each other. Sometimes there is a sudden enlightenment. Sometimes there is a deep estrangement between them, caused by the hybris of the I and its theomania.

            But the I without the SELF is like an artist with no talent and lacking in inspiration.

            It will never produce anything that becomes immortal.

           

            Sometimes the SELF reveals itself to the I in all its light, but this happens only after the I has battled for a long time and has waited for the light to be created. It happens only after the I has gone through all the darkness that it must experience.

            We must not forget that stars, before they produce light, are only a dark cloud. Why should we be any different?

            Often our darkness is made up of ignorance and fear, of pride and expectations, of arrogance and insolence, of lies and power and control.

            Other times the darkness is a simple natural fact that is caused by the quality of the matter and the spirit we are made up of.

 

            Therefore darkness belongs not just to dark matter, it is found within the I and its purpose is to macerate the I in its powerlessness and prepare it for its encounter with the SELF.

            When this process is complete, the SELF reveals itself and the I is filled with light and joy.

           

            During this process prayer is an indispensable element. It accelerates the maceration of the I and of its willfulness and thus opens it so that it can fuse with the SELF.

 

***

 

            I will now show you a form of prayer that has been very useful to me when I had to turn my life inside out like a glove:

 

Oh my SELF,

Lord of my life

And child of my love

And my courage,

Whatever You want

Is right that it happens

And wherever You want to go

I want to go too.

 

Only help me understand:

Why did You put me

In this situation?

And what is it

That You want me to do?

 

When You want

Then it is time

And when You want

I will arrive at the island

Of secondary beauty.

 

Even if it seems

Like misfortune

Whatever You want

Is my advantage.

 

But tell me:

What do You want me to create

Out of so much pain?

 

And what is wrong

Inside of me

That I must

Transform?

 

Even though sometimes

I feel I am falling

Into the abyss

If You want me to

For me that’s fine

And this is why

I have courage.

 

Before I become You

And You become me.

While I die and

Am reborn

To reach my dreams

And Your dreams

In your arms

I find my repose.

 

***

           

            Sometimes it can happen that the first time you try this prayer you will feel afraid. It’s a good sign if that happens. That means that the words touch on important points within our way of being and we are filled with a strong desire to change as well as with a refusal to do so.

            We are now living in a time when no one accepts that there is a power greater than ourselves. We don’t want anyone to have power over our lives, whether we are right or wrong.

            Nor do we accept to leave behind our current identity so we can acquire a better one, even though this is an ineluctable law of life that we do so.

            We don’t want to have to experience emptiness and we are afraid of going towards the unknown.

            We don’t want to give up our will to consider ourselves an absolute, nor do we want to stop imposing this absolute on others and on life.

            Now, the truth is that we are not an absolute and the SELF transcends the I and has a power that the I does not have. The SELF contains the purpose that the I must achieve during its life and this purpose was given to it by the Cosmic SELF.

            Sometimes one’s life purpose becomes clear during childhood; sometimes it is revealed day by day, year after year. Sometimes it moves forward in a linear fashion and others it has a dialectical movement, where it passes from one opposite to the other until it finally makes a synthesis. During this journey the I does not have the ability to look beyond its own nose: the SELF does.

            This is why I say that the SELF is the Lord of my life.

 

            We must understand that we can overcome our fear if we think that the virtue of courage is not an absence of fear but an ability to overcome it; we can overcome it if we remember that we have the power to create things that do not yet exist, but only if we begin to believe in our own creative power and to trust in it.

            The SELF can exist by itself but it does not exist in our lives unless we create it; this is why I say that it is the child of our courage and our love.

            We can overcome fear if we have a purpose, a dream or a myth to follow. Secondary beauty can be an example of this, if we are convinced that our life becomes alienated and senseless if we do not fulfill our purpose or follow our dreams and our myths.

 

            Starting in the nineteen sixties, I created my second life with the help of this prayer. It was very painful but it was also very exciting.

            This prayer also helped me to face my own long odyssey so I could become capable of creating a couple relationship and capable of loving a woman. This, too, was a journey full of many woes.

 

***

 

            If someone would prefer to begin by using something a bit easier, I can suggest another prayer of mine:

 

            My Father who art

                        In the deepest part of my heart

                        Make it so that You

                        Don’t remain

                        Unknown to me.

 

                        May Your wisdom be done

                        And not mine

                        And make it so that I can unite

                        My will with Yours.

 

                        Don’t give me just

                        Daily bread

                        Give me also

                        A fragment of your soul

                        So that I like You

                        Can create one for myself.

 

                        Just as the birds in the sky

                        And the lilies in the field

                        I have no debts nor debtors

                        Because life is a gift

                        And everything is a gift:

                        Joy, pain and trouble.

 

                        But like the lilies and birds are here today

                        And gone tomorrow

                        I too will one day vanish into nothing

                        Unless you help me

                        Make myself into an artist

                        And make my life

                        Into a work of art.

 

                        And finally,

                        Tempt me if necessary,

                        But free me of perfectionism

                        And so it is.

                        May thy wisdom be done

                        And not mine.

 

***

 

            These two prayers are based on the metapsychology which is at the basis of Existential Personalistic Anthropology and of Cosmo-Art.

            From the time of conception onward, the I is both one and it is four.

            The I is together the I Person and the Corporeal I and the Psychological I and the Transcendental I or SELF. This is because all four of these components belong to the same single subject.

            But since these four components found in the I are all opposed among themselves, often people are full of conflict. Sometimes it happens that they are all in harmony amongst themselves, due to a gift of nature. It is more often the case that at best they are in battle amongst themselves, and at worse they are split, meaning they are thousands of light years away from each other.

            To be able to bring them all together in harmony is the task of the artist who wants to make his or her life into a work of art.

 

            I personally had to begin with harmonizing, first of all, the I Person and the SELF. I did this with the help of the first prayer above and with the help of the Corporeal I, which for me was the book from which I learned to read the voice of the SELF. I do know that this type of opportunity is not given to everyone, and those who do not have it must look for other opportunities, but this was the one given to me.

            Only after having achieved this first unification was I then able to descend into the abyss of the Psychological I and, after that, into the abyss of intrauterine life. First I explored them and then I transformed them, one by one, with infinite patience and constancy, and through enduring great pain. My couple relationship was an indispensable help in being able to carry out this task.

            Gradually, after this unification, I went on to create a fusion, and this task is not yet complete. I can say, however, that I am at a good place with it, and being so has allowed me to explore in some way the cosmic and the ultracosmic dimensions. In doing so I was able to formulate the theorem of Cosmo-Art and the myth of Cosmo-Art or secondary beauty.

 

***

                                               

            I would never have been able to undertake this journey had I not dedicated many hours to prayer, or to the action-reflection-dialog between my I and my SELF.

            First of all, prayer is an action that creates the space necessary to be able to dialog with the SELF; then it is action-reflection that creates two other spaces, one where the SELF can be heard and one where we can decide whether or not to say yes to its requests.

            We must first imagine the changes we must make, by looking at ourselves from above and from below; by using two different points of view that are completely different from each other.

            Secondly, prayer is the action that decides to make the changes, or rather to go through with a transformation and to make possible what was formerly impossible to do.

            Third, it is reflection that becomes intuition. Intuition allows us to see what was previously impossible to see, and at this point action becomes creation.

            It becomes creation of oneself and creation of a new world and a new life.

 

            This phase of “creation” is very important in clearing up how the I must interact with the SELF.

            We are all children of an ancient tradition that tells us that we must accept God’s will and resign ourselves to it. God decides and human beings must only obey.

            This is a tradition that must absolutely be changed if we want to follow the path of fusion between the I and the SELF.

            The SELF decides, this is true, but it demands that the I transform and create something that is very different from that which it had decided upon.

            From the synthesis of two opposites, where fusion is a synthesis of opposites, something is created that is entirely different from the two elements that were present before.

            An artist that works with marble and stone is faced with two realities that are opposites to his own. These realities must indeed be accepted but the artist must be able to completely transform the essence and the existence of marble or of stone.

            They must be transformed into the essence and existence of a specific work of art created by a specific artist.

            There is an acceptance of the marble’s reality, but it is a dialectical acceptance, that must both be present and not be present; what must appear in its place is a new reality, a living soul that the artist has transmitted to the marble.

            When the SELF’s will means we must face adversity or a loss, the I must accept it but it also must be transformed so that new life can spring from adversity and loss.

            It is the I that creates this new life, not the SELF.

            This is why in the first prayer it is written:

                                                What do you want me to create

                                                From so much pain?”

 

***

 

            Coming back to Homer and the Odyssey it can be helpful to now reflect on two things. The first: Athena cannot do what she wants to do by herself; she must first obtain Zeus’ permission.

            This helps us understand why the Personal SELF and the Cosmic SELF are always in close contact.

           

            The second reflection: everything that Athena does for Ulysses is to help him reach Ithaca. But Ithaca is not the final goal, nor is it the ultimate purpose of either Athena or Ulysses. The poem does not end after the story of how the Phaeacians leave Ulysses while he is sleeping on the shores of Ithaca. If this were the case, the return, the greatly proclaimed “nostos” of the poets and writers, would have been concluded here.

 

            Homer is not thinking about the “nostos”. From here on there is yet another half of the poem that tells how Ulysses must reconquer his palace and especially Penelope’s heart.

            It took ten years of keeping Troy under siege and then the cunning idea of the wooden horse to be able to break down the walls that held Helen, the contended woman.

 

            It took another ten years (the whole odyssey by sea) of keeping Penelope under siege, as well as Ulysses’ cunning in pretending he is a beggar and  his decision to take up the challenge of the bow and arrow, to penetrate Penelope’s heart of stone. It took all of this to break down her childish pride and obtain a heart of a woman capable of loving a man to emerge.

            It took twenty years for Ulysses to become a man capable of loving a woman. Why should we be surprised that it took Penelope just as long to become capable of loving a man?

 

            If the SELF is the first fundamental “You” for a human being, the other fundamental “You” is the one represented by one’s partner in a couple relationship.

            It is not one bit easy for the I to open up to a You, to encounter a You and decide to meld with it, as happens in nature every time new life is conceived and sperm and ovum merge.

            Nuclear fusion and the birth of a star are works of art of nature. So is the fusion of two gametes and the birth of biological life.

            Nature alone cannot create the fusion between an I and a You, so as to create a lasting union between them.

 

            When this occurs it is a work of art made by the man and the woman, who are united in a common goal: the fusion of the masculine and the feminine principles, to create secondary beauty.

            According to what Homer says in his poem, this is Ulysses’ true purpose, this is Athena’s true purpose.

            This purpose is one that neither the gods nor human beings can achieve by themselves.

            It is a goal that can be reached only if the gods work together with human beings and if human beings collaborate with the gods.

            Human and divine forces (we’ll call the cosmic forces divine) meet through prayer so they can create secondary beauty in a Cosmo-Artistic way.

 

***

 

            The human condition experienced by both men and women is to remain imprisoned for a long time in the maternal and the paternal dimensions. This is true until both of them manage to free themselves of the entangled ties that keep them anchored to the past, and they find a way to completely take control of their own lives and their ability to love a You. Homer thinks, and I agree with him, that to do so it is necessary to go through a long siege and a long odyssey, topped off by a final battle.

            The long siege is narrated in the Iliad, the long Odyssey and the final battle are narrated in the Odyssey.

 

            If we look at both poems it would seem that both are talking about the same thing: that a siege and war are necessary to conquer a woman. But this is not the case. The second Homer is more mature than the first and he has a deeper knowledge of life and of the male and female soul. He also has a second goal in mind, to create beauty that has not yet been created, not just to conquer beauty that already exists.

 

            There are many heroes in the first poem but none of these heroes is capable of transforming himself and becoming a man.

            They are capable of doing great things, but none of them is able to overcome the ties that bind him to the maternal dimension.

            Achilles remains a prisoner of the maternal dimension and dies. He wanted glory and he got it, but in Hades he mourns the life he lost. Agamemnon is a proud, stupid child that first is the reason the Achaeans must face so much loss and then ends up running blindly into Clytemnestra’s revenge and betrayal. Ajax dies a crazy man because they take Achilles’ weapons away from him. (Is this not similar to the desperate tears of a baby whose teddy bear has been taken away?). Ulysses takes his booty, glory and weapons but his inner child is still buried within him and it is even more difficult to conquer than Troy. He will have to meet Circe and stay a long time at sea before he can face the descent into Hades, look himself in the face and then decide to transform himself. Hector, instead, had the love of Andromache, but he did not know how to listen to her, or he didn’t want to. He too preferred glory over developing a love relationship with a woman.

            What is glory except for the evasive image of the mother who empties you of your life and that you can only hold for a moment?

            Homer becomes aware of the nothingness that his heroes have devoted themselves to, and in his own heart he regrets this.

            He chooses one, Ulysses, and around him he builds a second poem so he can fill the gaps left in the first one.

 

***

 

            Helen was a child. She was like a Barbie doll, a toy held by other children. Many Greeks and Trojans risked their lives to help her become a woman. Were they able to do so? Maybe.

            Nausicaa was a child who played with other children, before Ulysses came along and woke up her desire to become a woman.

            Penelope was also a child. But she was a killer child who was not willing to forgive Ulysses for having taken her away from her father and her homeland through the violence of an exchange. Nor would she forgive him for having left her alone for twenty years.

 

            Ulysses risks his life twice to help awaken Nausicaa; once when he is about to drown after having lost his raft and the other time when he runs the risk of being smashed against the rocks when he tries to get near shore.

            Ulysses risks his life a thousand times to awaken Penelope. He risks it every time he must fight a sea monster; he risks it every time he allows himself to be seduced by a woman; he risks it in his own palace where the Suitors are camped, with Penelope’s ambiguous consent, and are plotting his own death and the death of Telemachus.

            During his long odyssey by sea Ulysses accumulated experience and knowledge of women who, in one way or another, were always trying to kill him. These women were all different versions of a same woman, his mother, who had tried to kill him while he was in her womb, first by rejecting him and then by loving him in a possessive and devouring manner.

            It was a long, difficult road for him to free his life from the maternal dimension and yet keep his life in tact. It is not easy to help a woman free herself from her ties with her mother and not suffer the consequences. One must risk one’s life a thousand times and one must also know how to save her. One must know how to forgive a thousand times and never give up, never give up hope.

            Men and women today don’t like to have to risk their lives and they don’t like to forgive. They prefer to run away. They escape into their own alienation from themselves, they escape into their work, they escape into victimhood and masochism. They escape into nothingness and into death.

            Homer had understood this three thousand years ago and with his poems he wanted to give us the gift of his deep understanding of this and of his wisdom.

            When he talks about Ulysses, he is speaking of himself. When he talks about Penelope, he is still speaking about himself.

 

            I have read many books on Ulysses and especially on the Odyssey, but I still have not found a single author that journeyed inside him or herself to understand what Homer was trying to say about himself and what he wanted to say about the destiny of men and women, of the meaning of life in this universe and of the meaning behind life’s belonging to this universe.

            Is it possible that the myth of Ulysses is all contained in his hunger for knowledge and in his desire to travel, or in his wish to return home? I have the feeling that the authors I have read up until now all repeat what the others have already said. They see only one aspect of Ulysses. They don’t see all his other aspects.

            Why is it that no one tries to explain why Ulysses rejects the gift of immortality that Calypso promises him, when everyone knows that Greek mythology is full of personages that aspire only to become immortal?

            Why does Homer differentiate himself from the others on such an enormously important point? What is this mystery?

            I have found my own answer to this question and I won’t repeat it here (see A.M. The Ulysseans, Sophia University of Rome, 2009).

 

            All I will say here is that just as DNA invented its own way to become biologically immortal, through the fusion of male and female chromosomes, Ulysses, through his fusion with the unconquerable Penelope, also invented his own way of reaching immortality. He does this not by becoming a god or a semi-god but by becoming a mythological archetype that will never cease to fascinate human beings.

            From this myth we learn that not simply an encounter between the I and the You of a man and a woman, but a fusion of them, is a way we can give birth to our own immortality and secondary beauty.

This is Homer’s gift to us; this is, in my opinion, the true essence of the myth of Ulysses, which has still much to be discovered.

 

Ascetics, hermits and monks dedicated most of their lives to the search for a mystical union with God or to save their souls, which was already immortal but that risk eternal damnation (remember St. Benedict’s rule: “Ora et labora” {Pray and Work}?).

These people had before them role models of people who searched for the encounter and fusion with the Absolute, but they had no role models of people who look for and create a fusion with a human You.

This millenary tradition represented a negative weight on my life for a long time, and it was not easy for me to free myself of it.

            To the same degree the search for an angelic woman, which Dante upheld as an ideal, caused me much damage.

            Ulysses of the Odyssey was of great help to me in changing my perspective.

 

***

 

            To propose the fusion of an I with a You in a time like now where the number of separations and divorces continuously grows can seem like madness.

            This might be true, but if extreme evils require extreme remedies, if desperate conditions require impossible ideals, why not decide to not fall into the common pit?

            Only by proposing what others dare not to do is a good way to get the hidden resources in human beings to jump to life and help us leap towards impossible and unknown goals.

            This is how hominids evolved into humans and this is how every leap forward in the evolutionary process has been achieved.

 

            The mystery of nuclear fusion that gives birth to the stars was revealed to us as the result of years of scientific research. Before that no one knew what it was or even that it existed.

            My wife and I described the fusion between an I and a You in our paper presented at the Sophia University of Rome congress in Assisi in 1987, entitled “Unificazione ed armonizzazione del principio maschile e del principio femminile” {The unification and the harmonization of the masculine and feminine principles}, published in the magazine Persona n.14 – March1988, and as a special insert in the paper “Gli Ulissidi” {The Ulysseans}, May 2000.

 

            Here I would like to add another reflection that is important, as it clearly underlines the transformation that happens in Penelope’s heart.

            For three years she deceived the Suitors by telling them she was weaving the shroud for Laertes’ funeral:

 

And first a god inspired me to weave a shroud,...

... during the day I stayed at my loom weaving

and at night I would unravel everything, with torches for light”.

            (Od., XIX, 138-150 )

 

            In these verses we can find a clue about how Penelope prayed. In conflict over whether or not to remain faithful to Ulysses or to get remarried, Penelope asks for help through prayer. A god gives her the idea of the shroud. Prayer and weaving become a single action. But this action is not enough, it only serves to gain some time.

            The decisive action takes place when Penelope is speaking to Ulysses who is hiding behind the disguise of a beggar. She has another idea, this too most certainly inspired by her SELF, and that is to propose a competition that is connected to a memory she has of Ulysses:

 

            “...whoever can more easily string the bow with his own hands

            and can send the arrow through all twelve rings,

            I will choose him, and with him leave this palace...”

         (Od., XXI, 75-78)

 

            Weaving is an exquisitely feminine activity. Stringing a bow is a typically masculine activity and the bow is Apollo’s favorite weapon. Apollo is the god of the arts, and as we know art is always a fusion of opposites.

            We could think that the bow is an excellent representation of the fusion between the masculine and the feminine principles, where the curve of the arch symbolizes the feminine and the arrow that flies symbolizes the masculine. The fusion of these two forces, masculine and feminine, makes for maximum efficiency in action.

            This competition with the bow will end up being decisive in giving Ulysses the best possible weapon to kill off the Suitors. He would not have had it if Penelope hadn’t made this proposal.

            Weaving was a deception, proposing the competition with the bow and arrow was the winning action. This shows us that Penelope had changed and she had made an important step forward in becoming a woman and in loving a man.

            This is where the creation of secondary beauty resides, of a beauty that does not yet exist and that must be created so it does. 

            Prayer is the servant of this creation.

 

***

 

            I like to imagine a new world where human beings devote a lot of time to prayer, not to save their souls, but to give themselves a soul that is truly immortal. I have attempted to explain here that this can happen when we work towards creating a fusion between the I and the SELF and, afterwards, decide to work towards a final goal of creating a fusion between the I and the You of a man and a woman.

            From nuclear fusion a star is born, and afterwards a whole galaxy of stars is born.

            Entire universes emerge from subnuclear fusion.

            Vegetable, animal and human life emerge from biological fusion.

            These are all living organisms that are born.

            From a fusion and not an enmeshment between a man and a woman, that are by nature two beings that are completely opposite, a living super-organism is born. Its life challenges death forever and it goes beyond the time-space dimension of this universe.

 

            Ulysses forgave Penelope many things and Penelope forgave Ulysses for many things (abandonment, betrayal, desire for revenge, deadly plots and a waste of goods).

            They have just finished making love, after being separated for twenty years, and they have a whole night ahead during which they can tell each other their stories.

            Since they have forgiven each other of everything, they can tell each other everything. Everything can be understood in a totally new light, that goes well beyond good and evil.

            Beyond good and evil there is only secondary beauty, an energy field that is a synthesis of many opposites, including the opposites of good and evil.

 

            Now that the I and the You have been fused into One, Ulysses can leave again for the other end of the world, as Teiresias predicted. There is no abandonment, because the I and the You are a Unit that can now look for Others with whom to create a Choral SELF. Everyone can participate in this, no one is excluded. Anyone who wants to can participate in the great project of creating secondary beauty.

            After all of this, there will finally be the desired return, the “nostos”, and there will be a serene old age. One day, far into the future, physical death will come sweetly, from the sea.

 

            (This paper was presented on October 21st, 2000, during the 21st Group Laboratory of Existential Anthropology of the Sophia University of Rome and it was published for the first time as a special insert of the paper “Giornale degli Ulissidi” {Ulyssean Journal} ).

 

*****

A comment on the presence of the positive mother figure when it is internalized:

 

            There is no such as mothers who are only bad. Every mother has also a positive part and we can find it only if we are capable of listening to our hearts.

 

Ulysses and the internalized positive mother

 

            In the Odyssey, we find a trace of a prayer made to the positive mother figure when, as advised by Athena, Ulysses goes into Alcinous’ palace, walks immediately towards queen Arete, bows down and embraces her legs, begging her to help him.

 

... “go first to the queen”... says Athena.

 

... “if she is in a good humor

then you have hopes of seeing your friends and returning

to your high-ranking home and the land of your forefathers”...

 

... “Odysseus threw his arms around Arete’s knees”...

 

 

This is what Homer says in Book VII.

           

            He had already said something very similar in Book V.

            Poseidon had stirred up a violent storm against Ulysses and only the help he receives from the nymph Ino and the goddess Athena save him from sure death. Ulysses sights the land of the Phaeacians but here he is faced with another huge problem.

 

            ... “Woe is me, Zeus has let me glimpse the land I’d lost all hope for

            after coming all the way  through this abyss

            but I see no way out of the frothy sea

            only sharp rocks protrude with waves all around

that scream and roar and only one naked stone wall rises up out of them…

(Od.V, 53 and following verses)

.

 

Ulysses is faced with a wall of stone and it isn’t the first time that such a thing happens in his life. Ulysses had stone walls before him for ten years while he was at Troy.

            Then he was dealing with Troy’s city walls and Ulysses found the solution to his powerlessness by using cunning and deceit. This time he is faced with a rocky coastline that keeps him from being able to come to shore. In this case, cunning and tricks won’t be of any help to him.

            Ulysses has to transform himself, he must completely turn himself upside down and look for a solution through humility and prayer. It’s not easy to leave behind his arrogance and find the way of humility. By trying again and again he will finally succeed.

 

            After having been smashed against the rocks several times, Ulysses finally sees the mouth of a river and he prays:

 

....  “ Hear me, Sire, whomever you may be: I believe you must be often

called upon, by those escaping Poseidon’s wrath by leaving the sea.

It is by venerating the immortal gods

That a lost man just like me now arrives before your river,

at your knees I come, after so much suffering.

Have pity on me, sovreign: I am hereby your servant”. (Od. V, 445-450)

 

            The river answers his prayer and Ulysses can finally land.

 

            Where Ulysses has landed is at the virtue of humility, a land that was hitherto completely unknown to him. He is the one who says to the sovreign river “I am at your knees”; have pity on me, I am begging you. If Ulysses before had an arrogant heart just like the Suitors do, now he becomes capable of having a humble heart. His prayer is no longer a way of commanding or winning over the divinity, as it usually is for most.

            When Athena advises him to do the same thing with queen Arete, Ulysses is ready to do so. He has already learned that there is not only a negative part within the mother, a devouring part; there is also a positive part, one that is capable of being welcoming and giving.

            He manages to get there by following his heart. He gets there by abandoning his determination to hold on to his wounded pride and his refusal to make any changes whatsoever.

            He gets there after having been thrown against the rocky shoreline and having risked being smashed to pieces and then deciding to keep on swimming to see if beyond the rocks there is some small beach that he could land on.

            This is how Ulysses finds the mouth of the river and sends out his prayer.

 

            There is yet another wall of stone that Ulysses will come up against, and that is when he lands in Ithaca and is faced with Penelope’s hardened heart. This time he will need both humility and cunning. He will need the power of hatred and the power of an immense love, fused together, so he can break down the wall of stone and find a heart of flesh and blood.

 

            Here I would like to reflect on another important element. If going from pride to humility is like passing from one universe to another within the same life dimension we are in, by having Ulysses go from a world full of storms to a world of peace like the one the Phaeacians live in, Homer is telling us that truly our life is made up in such a way that we can go from one universe to another. This is possible if we can stop complaining and accept creatively the “thousand woes” that this life has in store for us; our ability to do so is conditioned by our ability to not act like victims when we are confronted with trouble, but like artists of our lives and of the life of the universe in which we live.

            Ulysses’ passage from victim to artist is described in the way Ulysses acts while at Alcinous’ court.

            While Demodocus sings about the Trojan war, Ulysses does nothing but cry. He cries for himself and for the thousands of painful experiences the gods have inflicted him with.

            Soon after the scene changes: it is no longer the storyteller who is singing, but it is Ulysses. He is no longer crying and he sings about all his misadventures and his trials and tribulations with such art and mastery that the Phaeacians don’t want him to stop, even though it has gotten very late.

 

Again a comment on “La preghiera degli Ulissidi” {The prayer of the Ulysseans}:

 

            ... “For me, prayer, in its most basic form, has meant and still means being able to create a source of light and a source of continuous transformation in my life. A constant journey from lies to truth and authenticity. A way of transforming and unifying  my self and my various internal parts. A journey that carries me from ugliness to beauty”...

 

            During his journey from Troy to Ithaca, Ulysses must face continual losses. Every loss can help Ulysses transform a part of himself, if he can understand its meaning and accept it.

 

            ... “prayer is an indispensable action if we want to go from living life as thieves to living life as a gift and from living life as violence to living life as a work of art”...

 

            For ten years, beneath and inside Troy’s city walls, Ulysses lived in violence and thievery and he continues to do so when he leaves Troy and attacks the Cicones to steal their goods.

            Up until this point he knows nothing about life as a work of art, which demands a continual effort to synthesize opposites and a continual transformation of oneself. He will learn this throughout the rest of his journey, step by step.

 

            Now let’s look at the type of prayer that is most meaningful to me.

 

            ...   “.. prayer .....is the best way to accomplish a fusion between the I and the SELF, the Personal SELF and the Cosmic SELF”....

            The best example of this dialog and the reflection that then leads to action can be seen in what happens between Athena and Ulysses, when he has just landed at Ithaca.

 

… “then Athena came near him

with a young man’s body and like a shepherd

delicate and gentle like kings’ sons are”...(Od. XIII, 221-223)

 

            Athena comes to Ulysses as a human, and since he does not recognize her right away he starts telling her a bunch of lies.

 

… “of all the gods

I am famous for wisdom and cleverness

not even you recognized

Pallade Athena, Zeus’ daughter, whom has nevertheless always

through every danger stayed near you and saved you”… (Od. XIII, 298-301)

 

            Ulysses complains that he hadn’t seen her come on board his ship to save him from having to suffer so much, but Athena forcefully tells him that she has always been near him during every danger and she has always saved him.

 

            This interaction describes a fundamental aspect of the SELF as defined by Homer and Cosmo-Art.

            The SELF is always with us to save us from every danger, but this does not mean that it keeps us from experiencing the pain we need to go through so we can transform ourselves.

            It is necessary to have full faith in the SELF, that often operates in our favor even though we are unaware of it.

            The dialog with the SELF must always be cultivated and maintained so we can create the kind of trust that is not just given to us freely, but which must be worked for day after day. When we have this trust, it becomes possible to make plans and put together strategies to help us reach our goals, with the assurance that we are fully supported by the SELF.

 

            Ulysses must save his life that is threatened by the Suitors and he must find a way to eliminate them. He must also find a way to make sure Penelope is not dangerous, unless he wants to end up like Agamemnon.

 

            Athena and Ulysses speak at length about this, and they “meditate” and “reflect” on what the best way would be for Ulysses to present himself at the palace and how he can massacre the Suitors.

            Athena advises Ulysses to disguise himself as a beggar and Ulysses has to decide to accept this suggestion or not. It is a terribly difficult one to accept and Homer describes all the pain and humiliation that Ulysses has to undergo by presenting himself as a beggar.

            What man would accept to be a beggar in his own house and to patiently take all kinds of harassment from a pretentious wife, just to win her back after a long absence?

           

Nevertheless, Ulysses accepts to disguise himself as a beggar:

 

And speaking thus Athena touched him with a wand;

and she wrinkled his beautiful skin on his agile limbs,

she made his blond hair disappear from his head, she

made his skin like that of an old man,

she made his eyes, once so beautiful, bleary;

and she threw a filthy rag on him as well as a tunic

both ripped and dirty, black from the horrible smoke;

above this she put on a great skin of a swift deer:

she gave him a cane and a torn ugly sack, that he

slung over his shoulders with a rope.   

(Od.XIII, 429-438)

 

            It was important for Ulysses to meet Agamemnon in Hades and learn from him what had happened when he returned to Clytemnestra with all the arrogance of a king returning victoriously after a long battle, full of gold and with Cassandra as his slave.

            When he got off the ship a red carpet was laid out for him to walk on, but when he entered the house he was killed by his wife’s lover, Aegisthus, as is mentioned in the first verses of the Odyssey.

            Agamemnon’s arrogance (and he indeed had an arrogant heart) is in contrast with Ulysses’ humility, and Ulysses manages to become so by maintaining prayer-dialog with Athena.

            The shift from having an arrogant heart to becoming capable of having a humble heart is one of the most difficult changes a human being must undergo, if he or she wants to live with wisdom and be able to create secondary beauty.

            Arrogance can not be transformed by arrogance, pride cannot be won over with more pride. We are all born arrogant and prideful and we create conflict all throughout our lives. It takes a lot of strength and above all a lot of humility to change ourselves and it is very difficult to blend strength and humility.

 

            The dialog between Athena and Ulysses is followed up by action and the action is: to accept to transform himself into a beggar and to accept to be deeply humiliated by the Suitors and even by the servants. This is not an easy thing to accept: it is a very bitter task. The strength necessary to be able to accept it can be found through prayer, through the special type of prayer that is a fusion between the I and the SELF.

 

            I will again take a quote from “La preghiera degli Ulissidi” {The prayer of the Ulysseans}:

 

            The fusion between the I and the SELF ...  “is not an end in itself. Its purpose is to transform the I and to create a fusion between the I and the Life of the Cosmos, between the I and You of a man and a woman. This last fusion is the most difficult to achieve for human beings. As history shows us, not only is not everyone capable of realizing it, but many are downright against it”...

 

            For example, all of those who, both in the East and the West, invented vows of chastity and have affirmed that living as monks is a life as perfection, whereas instead being married is a second-class lifestyle that keeps one from reaching perfection, are opposed to it.

 

            Before Ulysses departs for Troy he and Penelope experience a symbiosis, but now, after twenty years of being apart, Penelope is full of a deep pain as a result of having been abandoned. She also is full of a concealed hostility towards him.

            She is also obstinately opposed to growing up and becoming a woman capable of loving a man, but she is not very aware of this.

            It really is quite nice to be courted by one hundred suitors and not have to ever decide who she will choose among them. It’s nice to be able to deceive them by weaving her tapestry by day and unraveling it by night. She gets a subtle pleasure from maneuvering them with her tricks and at the same time knowing they will kill Ulysses for her, if he should ever return.

            Up until this point there really is not much difference between Agamemnon’s Clytemnestra and Ulysses’ Penelope. One of them is consciously plotting her husband’s murder while the other is plotting using a wily ambivalence, typical of those who do not want to get their hands dirty and be fully responsible for their actions.

 

            Penelope’s ambivalence is mentioned for the first time in Book I of the Odyssey, when Telemachus encounters Athena:

             

            She neither refuses the hated nuptials, nor does she have the courage

to go through with them; in the meantime the Suitors are ruining my house

with their banquets and soon they will tear me to pieces as well».(Od. I, 249-251)

 

            But Penelope herself tells Ulysses, who is still disguised as a beggar, that her heart breaks during the day and at night she is overcome by thousands of fears and doubts:

and so my heart as well jumps here and there with opposing emotions

whether to stay with my son and faithfully protect every thing,

my wealth, my slaves, the tall and great palace,

being respectful of the nuptial bed and the talk of the people;

or whether to just follow the most noble of the Achaeans,

the one who best courts me in my palace and offers me endless gifts .

(Od. XIX, 524-529)

 

***

            Ulysses’ cunning and intelligence help him out in many ways but in many situations they are ineffective all by themselves.

            He needs continuous help from Athena as well as sometimes directly from Zeus himself. Their intervention is the result of Ulysses’ constant prayers to them.

 

 

******

 

 



[1] See The Ulysseans

[2] See The Odyssey

[3] See the movie Scent of a Woman

[4] See the movie Scent of a Woman

[5] See the movie The Shawshank Redemption

[6] See the movie Forrest Gump

[7] See the movie Don Juan de Marco

[8] See the Odyssey

[9] See the Odyssey

[10] See the movie Don Juan de Marco

[11] See the Odyssey

[12] See the movie Don Juan de Marco

[13] See the movie The Shawshank Redemption

[14] See the movie Shine

* This paper was presented in Frascati, Italy, on December 8, 1988, at the 1st National Symposium on Personalistic Anthropology and Sophia-Art. It was later presented in video form in French and Italian at the II International Congress of the Sophia University of Rome in Paris, in July 1988. This is the first time the text with commentary has been published.