Let’s talk about trash, shall we? Life in the what we once called the First World has been steeped in wealth, in technical and material improvements to the quality of life. It formed a coccoon, insulating us from some harsh aspects of life. It also insulated us from Reality, from the disruptive spiritual pulse that makes possible spiritual transformation. It wasn’t perfect insulation, by any stretch, and it wasn’t exactly malicious; aspects of it were well-intentioned and warm, protective to a fault. That insulation took a lot of energy to maintain, though, and produced a lot of waste, both psychic and material. That waste didn’t vanish but circulated along the margins and became the vehicle through which more than a little light made its way into the world.
This situation isn’t exactly unique to the modern world. Every society tries to weave itself a coccoon of order and does so through a constant and perpetual sloughing off of disorder. That disorder, in the act of its exclusion, opens a gap in that coccoon. The modern world, though, definitely cranked this process way, way up. You thought this dial only went to 10? We made it go to 1000. Deterministic Materialism wasn’t just an abstract ideology–it was a plan of action and made the world as mechanical as possible.
Surrealists, beatniks, existentialists, and mystics of the 20th century hit upon this process again and again. You want to break out of the prison? It’s like Star Wars, you gotta find the trash. The hard part, though, is you can’t embrace the trash for trash’s sake. That shit is a mess; it has been chewed up and spit out. More often than not, when we find ourselves in that place, it’s because we, too, have been trashed. If we embrace it on its own terms, we just keep trashing ourselves.
What do you do? You have to scramble for the light, for the wild sparks that transform and organize the world toward Reality, toward God. That’s hard to do because we inevitably have some (capital-B) Baggage to deal with there. Even we don’t believe in God per se, what is labeled good and light in the world that trashed us is likely the first thing that comes to mind when we think about trying to order the mess. Those of us who are right and properly done with that want to throw out order altogether and while those of who aren’t are in perpetual danger of remaking the world that trashed (and will trash) us and calling it God.
That baggage is part of the garbage and it will surely be part of the work. More importantly, the fantasy that the trashing world dressed itself up in contains a glimmer of truth, contains a hint about what is good, what will help make things better. Getting at that matters. This stuff is on the other side of winning and losing, it’s not about taking down the empire (ha!). It’s about holding the door open to God, even if that means spiking the doorframe.
That is what the gnostic initiation circuit really is about–getting hold of the wild sparks of heaven (which we are) and helping them to reorganize the mess into something a little better, something which allows us to prepare our souls for … well, that’s its own mystery, isn’t it?
The mess, the trash, the broken things, don’t have neat lines to connect and the initiatory work that remakes them isn’t neat, either. What is ready to hand? What can be put into service for the work? How do you make it better, clearer or less leaky?
The world is a mess, but it might yet be a glorious mess.