Here are some thoughts in progress on a topic that I’ve been musing about for a while: trans-rational magic and its connection to Sri Aurobindo’s understanding of meta-mind. I’ll begin by asking about magic in general.
I must confess that I don’t have a lot of affection for “The Secret” or other New Age peddlers of cheap magic as profound technology. The notion of “If you think about getting rich, it’s going to come true” is pretty lame, if you ask me. But I’m not going to spend a lot of time criticizing this strand of spiritual thinking as foolish because it is aware of truths that the seemingly more sophisticated spiritualists and skeptics have forgotten. It is smarter than skeptics and even avowed integralists give it credit for. We don’t need to distance ourselves from magical thinking in a crude attempt to be more mature; we need to “up-level” our magic — firstly, from pre-rational to rational; secondly, from rational to trans-rational.
If you want to see the world as more enchanting without losing your reason, just look at the mysterious processes surrounding the evolutionary process on this planet over the course which unfolds over millions of years. The adaptation of species to their environments seems to unfold in a very magical way. Chameleons. Flying squirrels. Polar bears with white fur that blends in with snow and keeps them hot in cold climates. Nature is bursting forth with this creative, adaptive “intelligence”. There’s no other accurate way to put it.
Now isn’t it just possible that animals adapted in the way that they did because some of their animal ancestors *thought* about what they wanted to have happen, and these *thoughts* got encoded into DNA in ways that we don’t well understand and then passed along to ancestors, some of whom realized the adaptation successfully? Was there once a squirrel who wished he could fly, an ancestor of the flying squirrel; was there once a brown bear who wished he could live in the snow all year round, an ancestor of the polar bear?
All animals have a profound subtle awareness, though we can only guess about what they think about, dream about, and keep secrets about. Every time scientists take a good long look at animal communication they astonish themselves at just how wrong and arrogant scientific materialism has been about animals. From ravens who solve complex puzzles that baffle humans to groundhogs who communicate descriptions of human beings to other groundhogs, complete with descriptors like “tall” or “kind” or “wearing the color red”, we know animals think and speak in their own sort of languages. These thoughts and communication systems are likely to be the guiding force (or telos) of the hidden mechanisms of evolution, just as human consciousness is both the magic cauldron and broth in which our lives unfold.
The fact is that scientists are increasingly learning how thoughts and memories and communication systems are encoded in genetic instructions and then transmitted generationally. Although the mechanisms are still unclear, it is not at all delusional or merely pre-rational to have the belief that thoughts participate in the creative unfolding of evolution, and even of evolution becoming conscious and aware of itself in human nature. So the way I see it, everything that the so-called peddlers of “magical thinking” are telling us is not pre-rational, but a form or style of rationality after all — watch what you think, it may come true in ways that are poorly understood; be impeccable with your words, you are creating the grooves of evolution; if you want abundance, be weary of self-sabatoging thoughts that can become ingrained as behaviors.
Once and for all, let’s rid ourselves of the phrase “magical thinking” as a derogation. Magical thinking is only a problem when it’s applied to something it isn’t equipped to handle, like using a fork when you need a spoon.
We are coming full circle when it comes to our attitudes and behaviors towards magic. So-called pre-rational magic begins to look mainly rational, and rational magic — like computer and Internet technologies and virtual reality and space exploration — begins to look ordinary, devoid of magic, disenchanted. We who are users of technology forget the creative process of the engineers and scientists who made painstaking inventions with crude equipment, often cutting against the grain of established scientific thinking and mores with ideas that were worked out in dreams, visions, and occasionally even divinations and psychic readings. The inventor of the steam engine, Hero of Alexandria, probably used a quintessential form of rational magic in order to create amazing inventions more than 2,000 years ago: simple trial and error and a mind on fire with resolve to create novelty.
We’ve seen that pre-rational magic is sometimes a useful and practical form of thinking which has an intuitive grasp of hidden and esoteric processes. We’ve seen that rational magic works with a variety of input mechanisms ranging from cold analytical logic to perceiving matching patterns discovered in dreams and stories. So what then do I mean when I talk about trans-rational magic? Firstly, I mean a form of cognition that is able to see the connections between pre-rational and rational forms of magic, and appreciate both forms in their own way as useful and limited forms of meaning-making. And what is it that allows a magician to perceive the value in both early and middle forms of magic, e.g., animism and scientific materialism?
The trans-rational magician works within the field of Maybe – with probabilities, known and unknown, fuzzy logic, indeterminacy, the numinous, and with alphabets and parables and fables that have embedded within them the hidden processes of linguistic evolution itself (the emergence of Ngo-type alphabets, as we would say in Lingua-U) in much the same way that the design of microprocessors and their innate structures contain the design of the microchip-makers. And from within this field, the trans-rational magician allows the alphabets and numbers, knowns and unknowns, to “process” themselves in a difficult-to-describe way which can be called a synthesis of magical and naturalistic and nguvu (Swahili for strength, power). Essentially, it is the meta-mind consciousness (or cognitive style at the Violet altitude as an integralist could say) arriving at a tripartite actualization in which the matters of reflection and the novelties of reminiscences meet together almost effortlessly to produce new master patterns embedded in objects (of thought or matter) which are capable of containing more than what is given by their surface appearances.
The term “intuition” is helpful in understanding trans-rational magic, but unfortunately its hidden symbolism has become lost in common usage. The term “active and agile mind” is more apt. Intuition is not synonymous with trans-rational magic, but it is part of the input which is “processed” through the cognitive style; specifically, the yin or inward form which responds to the additive mind to make it active and agile. The additive mind produces mental work, and the intuitive mind negates the manifold output, thus discovering action and actualization in the novelty, as night follows midday, or negativity follows meaning.
Aurobindo’s description of intuition is similar to what I mean by trans-rational magic. He had it that intuition is not a subject becoming aware of an object, but a penetrative meeting in consciousness in which that which is conscious in a subject and that which is conscious in an object combine in a sort of lightning storm. To him this was “direct inner contact” beyond ordinary cognition, a movement beyond sensual contact into actual awareness. In my preferred way of reflections, inspired by sparks of lumination from Lingua-U, I would say that trans-rational magic deals with Maybes, not objects, the Maybe serving as a Yang to the Yung of the Object; and it deals with Matrikas (Little Mothers in Sanskrit, Sacred Letters) and Materials, not subjects, the Matrikas/Materials serving as a Yung to the Yin of the Subject. Between the Maybe and the Object, there is The Way (Tao, “Causal Floor”), which is the hidden Yin; and before the Subject and the Materials is Being, which is the hidden Yang.
Trans-rational magic as I see it does not directly deal with subjects and objects, only indirectly. The Magician positions him/herself as the Subject, the Yin to Being itself. The Magician does not cognize in an ordinary fashion, but generates or acts upon Matrikas/Materials. If there is a “subject” to speak of, it is the tripartite harmony of Being + Subject (Magician) + Matrikas/Materials. The magical activity is his/her relationship to the Yang of Maybe, the Yin or Way/Tao, and the Yung of the Object. In the process of a magical act, the Yangs align so that Being itself enters the flux of Maybe, the Yins align so that the Subject itself enters the eternity of the Way/Tao, and the Yungs (unitive consciousness) align so that the Matrikas/Materials penetrate the Object, with its own sort of lightning storm. Speaking of the Subject’s relationship to the Object, it is difficult to speak clearly about whether there has been “direct” interpenetration or not, to use the exact word of Aurobindo; but there has clearly been an interactivity, meditated through alignments of subtle properties of consciousness.
Put simply, the Magician’s subjectivity has transferred subtle materials by pushing indeterminacy into the Way/Tao of Being and inserting them into an object. There is a connection between the subject and object in trans-rational magic, but the Magician’s subjectivity needs to be meditated through Being and Way in order to affect an electrical rising in consciousness. This is the best phrasing I can come up with at this time to describe the “how” of trans-rational magic, but I have not yet defined it. I think Aleister Crowley and Thelema get the gist of it correctly enough in their general definition of Magic: Magic is an art/science of creating Change through Will. We will eventually need more extensive definitions of Magic which is capable of being carefully distinguished into pre-rational and rational and trans-rational forms, but this will do for today.