Monthly Archives: January 2015

In Heidegger’s Temple

By Gabriel Hartley

templeNOTE: This piece is a bit more academic than my usual blog posts, given that this is my draft for a roundtable presentation at Ohio University in October 2014.

I do not yet know whether and how this essay will figure in my writing projects, although I imagine it will. I am here taking advantage of this chance to present these ideas and experiences to you in order for me to come to terms with them. Even so, I consider this to be some of the most important writing I have ever done, for in it I use the essay form in its root sense as a mode of trying to articulate things that remain suggestive but relatively inarticulate in my own head and heart. In a sense that I hope will become clear as I continue, I see this essay itself as a temple of sorts—a space brought into being by a certain dwelling in the world that steps back and lets things simply be as they be, shine as they are.

Dwelling in the Works of Heidegger

Perhaps the primary thing that I am trying to bring to fruition in this essay is a crucial aspect of my reading experience in the works of Heidegger: my sense that I am intuiting on a primal, familiar, interactive level the things that Heidegger brings into being through his writings. I have always had a sense that I am entering into an experiential or phenomenological space that Heidegger opens up and that I somehow occupy that space with him. In fact, I often feel as though I always occupy these spaces, and have done so for many lifetimes, even when I read a work of his for the “first” time. There is a sense in which I am there in his works, watching the world glow in increasing clarity as I pass from word to word and sentence to sentence. There is a very real sense in which the world that Heidegger discloses is a world I am integrally familiar with and which I know intimately from the inside. And this feeling happens most intensely when I enter into Heidegger’s temple.

I am speaking, of course, of Heidegger’s description of what he calls the temple-work in his essay “The Origin of the Work of Art.” What I have realized over the years is that when I read this description, I enter into the building of sacred space that he describes as the mode of dwelling that gives place to the temple, the sacred site—in this case, the Greek temple, where neither Heidegger nor I have ever been in this lifetime. [I was later alerted to the publication of Heidegger’s travel journals in which he gives accounts of journeys to the Greek temples very late in his life—long after he had written the material I am discussing here.] And given my work with sacred sites around the globe during the past three years especially, I now see that the building of the Greek temple that Heidegger enacts in his “Origin” essay is true to my own experience and understanding of the building of sacred space.

In other words, in this essay I hope to begin my in-depth exploration of a certain mode of attention or apprehension that Heidegger models in his writings that I will impertinently characterize as mystical, visionary, or shamanic—although none of these words in their usual understanding does justice to the experience I am pointing to. And rather than appropriate the customary dualism in the West that separates the mystical from the scientific—an opposition that itself falls prey to the very objectifying aspect of Western thought that Heidegger seeks to uncover and move beyond—I hope to enter into a mode of engagement that allows for the things and experiences we encounter to appear to us in a more open spirit than the typical Western mode of comprehension. I will characterize that western mode as an attempt to dominate all that we encounter by imagining all things as mere passive objects for our imperial vision—our attempt to see into the heart of things in such a way as to render everything as a discrete, determinate object. I will characterize Heidegger’s mode of thinking, alternatively, as an attempt to let all things be as they might be without attempting to determine the grounds of that being ahead of time. This is a shift from “Let me see” to “Let it be.” And this openness to the genuine essence of Being as it unfolds into or withdraws from our interaction, I suggest, allows for a more sustainable foundation for human behavior in the more-than-human world. And I will explore Heidegger’s description of the temple-work of the Greek temple as a privileged scene allowing us a glimpse into the dynamics of this mode of letting be. In this example, Heidegger offers a sense of what might be involved in the shift from what he calls ordinary consciousness to what I would call, perhaps inappropriately, superconsciousness.

Heidegger’s Description of the Greek Temple-Work

I present two paragraphs from “The Origin of the Work of Art” concerning the Greek temple here before working through this passage afterwards in detail:

[L]et us select a work that cannot be ranked as representational [darstellenden] art.

A building, a Greek temple, portrays [bildet . . . ab] nothing. It simply stands there in the middle of a rock-cleft valley. The building encloses the figure of the god, and in this concealment [Verbergung] lets it stand out [hinausstehen] into the holy precinct through the open portico. By means of the temple, the god is present in the temple. This presence of the god is in itself the extension and delimitation of the precinct as a holy precinct. The temple and its precinct, however, do not fade away into the indefinite. It is the temple-work that first fits together [fügt] and at the same time gathers around itself the unity of those paths and relations in which birth and death, disaster and blessing, victory and disgrace, endurance and decline acquire the shape [die Gestalt] of destiny for human being. The all-governing expanse of this open relational context is the world of historical people. Only from and in this expanse does the nation first return to itself for the fulfillment of its vocation [Bestimmung].

Standing there, the building rests on rocky ground. This resting of the work draws up out of the rock the mystery [das Dunkle] of the rock’s clumsy yet spontaneous support. Standing there, the building holds its ground against the storm raging above it and so first makes the storm itself manifest in its violence. The luster and gleam of the stone, though itself apparently glowing only by the grace of the sun, yet first brings to light the light of the day, the breadth of the sky, the darkness of the night. The temple’s firm towering makes visible the invisible space of air. The steadfastness of the work contrasts with the surge of the surf, and its own repose brings out the raging of the sea. Tree and grass, eagle and bull, snake and cricket first enter into their distinctive shapes and thus come to appear as what they are. The Greeks early called this emerging and arising in itself and in all things physis. It clears and illuminates, also, that on which and in which man bases his dwelling. We call this ground earth. What this word says is not to be associated with the idea [Vorstellung] of a mass of matter deposited somewhere, or with the merely astronomical idea of a planet. Earth is that whence the arising brings back and shelters everything that arises without violation. In the things that arise, earth is present as the sheltering agent. (“Origin” 41-42)

So let me begin walking through this temple passage line by line. To begin: “[L]et us select a work that cannot be ranked as representational [darstellenden] art.” The key to all of Heidegger’s work is seeing this move beyond or outside of representational thinking. “Representation” here is the translation of darstellen, the typical term in reference to artistic representation. It suggests an aesthetic staging before an audience, a putting-on-view for viewing and appreciation. The problem with artistic dependence on the notion of darstellen lies in its root, stellen, which makes it kin to the even more disturbing tendency in Western culture to emphasize another form of representation—vorstellen. For Heidegger, as can be seen throughout his works, the whole problem behind Western Metaphysics since Plato and Aristotle, but especially since Descartes, is the question of the German verb stellen, which means to place, to position.

This positioning (or positing) is the fundamental activity and perspective behind all traditional Western thought and still dominates today. It implies the act of placing an object before a subject in order to lay it out for inspection. This is a kind of mastery, objectification, and exploitation, as Heidegger explains in several places. Vorstellen, in particular, is the dominant sense here, where we “represent” an object by “presenting” it to ourselves on the lab table or the cutting board. “Vor” means “before” in its spatial sense as in “lying there before you.” Vor-stellen, then, is a positioning something before yourself in order to submit it to your analytical gaze, so that you can find out “what it is” (the key question for metaphysics). We, as good Westerners, want to know what an entity (Seiend) is. In the process we blind ourselves to the fact that we have not yet asked what its Being (Sein) is, the way it presences, the way it shines forth, as in Heidegger’s turn to the Greek word “physis” as the self-emergence of entities in nature.

With the temple, then, and unlike his famous example of Van Gogh’s painting of shoes, Heidegger here deliberately turns to an example of a work of art that is in no way representational (either in terms of darstellen or vorstellen). “A building, a Greek temple, portrays [bildet . . . ab] nothing. It simply stands there in the middle of a rock-cleft valley.” This work of art is not trying to stand in for something else but simply to stand there in our vicinity. This example immediately defuses our Western tendency to read art as symbolic and instead forces us to enter into a different kind of relationship with the work. It forces us to step back in order to stand there with it in the rock cleft valley and to attend to other events rather than representation. And this, I suggest, is the first move in opening us up in our relationship to things in the world in that we must let go of our metaphysical desire to define the thing (the work of art) and instead simply let it stand there and be what it is as it is.

But what is the temple, as a temple, doing there in the rock-cleft valley? “The building encloses the figure of the god, and in this concealment [Verbergung] lets it stand out into the holy precinct through the open portico.” This artwork is also a temple, after all, so by definition it has a relationship of some kind to the gods. But curiously the temple does not make the god appear but instead, in its enclosing aspect, allows for the concealment of the god—a concealment that itself allows the god to stand out in its very concealment, its absence, an absence that makes the god all the more present, to stand out all the more as the being whose absence is now present and emanating from out of the holy precinct into the world beyond through the open portico. The temple creates the space of the sacred by consecrating this otherwise undefined plot of rock-cleft landscape. “By means of the temple, the god is present in the temple.”

What Heidegger offers here is a shift away from representational concepts of art to what could be called a performative participation in the art-work—performative in the sense of bringing to presence for us the presence of the gods. The gods are not here thought of as already-present subject matter for art, which the artist then re-presents, but rather the end result of the bringing into presence that the art-work is as it clears the space for the presencing of the gods. Nor is this space itself merely some calculable plot of land that in its emptiness becomes available to such presencing. This space itself is created as the space of presencing by the temple-work. Presumably raw calculable space is thereby transfigured into a sacred place. Now, then, this “presence of the god is in itself the extension and delimitation of the precinct as a holy precinct. The temple and its precinct, however, do not fade away into the indefinite.” In other words, the sacred space opened up by the temple does not disappear once the gods arise within it; the gods are able to arise as the result of this opening up of the space of their possibility as a feature of this space. And as a result of this holy transfiguration, the nature of human being, this newly illuminated human world, can then present itself within this divine matrix in its historical context:

It is the temple-work that first fits together [fügt] and at the same time gathers around itself the unity of those paths and relations in which birth and death, disaster and blessing, victory and disgrace, endurance and decline acquire the shape [die Gestalt] of destiny for human being. The all-governing expanse of this open relational context is the world of historical people. Only from and in this expanse does the nation first return to itself for the fulfillment of its vocation [Bestimmung].

But the divine-human aspects of the temple-work in no way exhaust the nature of the experience of this opened space. If the meditations made possible in the first paragraph of our passage led us to a sacramental engagement with the unfolding of what Heidegger has referred to as the world, the next paragraph leads us to an equally unfamiliar yet infinitely suggestive recasting of our relationship to what he calls earth. For the temple located in the rock-cleft valley draws our attention to the grounding nature of the earth as well. It allows us, in other words, to enter into a sacred relationship to the earth. Again, I will work out these implications as I work my way through the second paragraph of our passage.

To begin: “Standing there, the building rests on rocky ground. This resting of the work draws up out of the rock the mystery [das Dunkle] of the rock’s clumsy yet spontaneous support.” As he says in a later passage, in this temple-work the rock is not used up but is instead set forth in the clearing of truth. Here we see how the work “draws up out of the rock” the mystery or opaqueness of its support. The stone from out of which the temple is built is in an active and spontaneous rapport with the stone upon which it is placed. Through the space opened up by the work we are able to encounter a dimension of the rockiness of rock that we rarely experience in daily practical activity. But we do not in our aesthetic dreaminess imagine such a drawing up and out of mystery; the work itself sets such a reciprocal relationship in motion as it sets forth [Herstellung] the integrity of the rock. And the integrity of the environment as a whole: The violence of the storm, the light of day, the breadth of the sky, the darkness of the night, the invisible space of air, the surge of the surf, the raging of the sea, the distinctive shapes of the plant and animal life in this natural surrounding: all “thus come to appear as what they are” because of the standing temple’s stability, luster, firm towering, steadfastness, and repose. In short, all that is around us enters into the manifest nature of the truth—the unconcealment—of its being by way of the work.

“The Greeks,” Heidegger writes, “early called this emerging and arising in itself and in all things physis.” (I will have reason to return to this notion of physis or primal emergence later.) Physis “clears and illuminates, also, that on which and in which man bases his dwelling.” For Heidegger, the notion of dwelling captures the essential nature of human being, as he explains in this passage from his essay “Building Dwelling Thinking”:

[I]f we listen to what language says in the word bauen [or “building”]we hearthree things:
1. Building is really dwelling.
2. Dwelling is the manner in which mortals are on the earth.
3. Building as dwelling unfolds into the building that cultivates growing things and the building that erects buildings. (148)

Building as dwelling, in other words, engages us in primal human activities such as the cultivation of nurturing plants and the erection of buildings such as temples. Dwelling is our mode of setting things “free into [their] own presencing” (150). So to repeat: Physis “clears and illuminates, also, that on which and in which man bases his dwelling.” And, according to Heidegger, “We call this ground earth. What this word says is not to be associated with the idea [Vorstellung] of a mass of matter deposited somewhere, or with the merely astronomical idea of a planet. Earth is that whence the arising brings back and shelters everything that arises without violation. In the things that arise, earth is present as the sheltering agent” (“Origin” 41-42).

Truth Happens, or, the Performative Presencing of the Gods

One day I was trying to explain to my students at Ohio University what I refer to as the performative function of the temple-space within Heidegger’s Greek temple. These lines were the occasion for such a need: “[T]ruth does not exist in itself beforehand, somewhere among the stars, only later to descend elsewhere among beings. This is impossible for the reason alone that it is after all only the openness of beings that first affords the possibility of a somewhere and of a place filled by present beings” (61). I found myself for some unknown reason—since I do not consider myself a Christian in any recognizable sense—quoting the statement of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew in which he says, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” I explained that on a literalist level we might imagine two or three people gathering together in Jesus’s name and then his sudden miraculous appearance to them there. But if we follow the performative logic behind this statement, what Jesus is saying is that it is the coming together in my name that is itself the manifestation of the Christ being. Christ here is the result of an action that comes to characterize that action itself. In Heidegger’s terms, just as truth “does not exist in itself beforehand, somewhere among the stars, only later to descend elsewhere among beings,” neither does Christ. The “coming together in his name” opens up the sacred space within which the gods can manifest.

Another lesser-known example from the Christian texts is in the Gospel of Thomas, saying 77, in which Jesus says, “It is I who am the light (that presides) over all. It is I who am the All: it is from me that the All has come, and to me that the All goes. Split a piece of wood: I am there. Lift a stone, and you (plural you) will find me there.” Jesus in this instance here is the particular manifestation of the All, the One whose indeterminate universality is mediated and particularized by Jesus. But again it is important not to simply read this on its most literal level, wherein Jesus claims to be the All and that therefore all (including sticks and stones) find themselves in Him and Him in themselves. The performative logic we have examined before suggests rather that it is in the splitting of the wood and in the lifting of the stone that Jesus can be found—not as a material or spiritual constituent of the stick or stone but as that communal spiritual nature that becomes manifested in plural actions guided by spiritual intention. In other words, when we lift a stone, our act of lifting makes us like the Christ Being, for in this act we recognize before we even begin that the All is in all. Our act of splitting makes us like Christ, again because such actions are carried out in the foreknowledge of the divine unity of all existence. These acts are devotional acknowledgements of this knowledge and ritual re-enactments of the moment of Creation itself. We find the Christ Being in our consecrating devotional actions, not in some external entity who blesses us for performing those actions. We are the Christ Being when we consciously and ceremonially perform such actions of re-creation.

How I Find Myself Dwelling in the Temple

As I have already expressed, the most intriguing element of my reading of Heidegger’s temple passage is that in it I find an understanding of the relationship of human activity to the manifestation of sacred space that feels very familiar to me. I am at home in that temple experience so described. In fact, I would say that my reading and teaching of this passage over and over in a very profound way prepared me for my own sacred site activity. I began to recognize that the description of the temple-work very much fit my subsequent experiences at places such as the ancient stone circle of Stonehenge, the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings with their ceremonial kivas, Serpent Mound and other ancient ceremonial mounds here in Ohio, the earthen barrows and standing stones at Avebury, and the Newgrange complex of underground structures in Ireland.

What I find as I encounter each of these sacred sites is that when I enter into the mode of consciousness that allows for the suspension of the typical Western demands for representational thinking and Metaphysical structures of causality and thinghood (demands which also inhere in traditional expressions of the dominant Western religions, as Heidegger frequently points out), I experience exactly the process of the opening up of space—a textured and energized space, in fact—that allows for the presencing of the gods and daimones of the place that Heidegger describes. The question remains, despite its ultimate irrelevance, whether Heidegger himself had such experiences.

APPENDIX

The pages that follow contain other extended sections, notes, and quotations that I will ultimately work into a much longer version of this essay. I include them for anyone wishing to see other dimensions of the story of the West that I am telling as the complement to the creation of sacred sites such as the ancient Greek temple.

The sections here include my initial overviews of sections from Heidegger’s book Parmenides, including his interpretation of the early Greek notion of truth (alētheia) as unconcealment, as well as a his explanation of the Roman translation of the Greek notions of unconcealment and concealment (alētheia and its opposite) into our contemporary notions of truth and falsity. My larger point is that this discussion of the Latin imperial translation of Greek into Roman culture helps us to understand the difficulty most readers, even sympathetic ones, have in taking Heidegger’s discussions of the opening of sacred space seriously—that is, as more than simply a poetic or nostalgic symbolic reference to the mysteries of the gods.

What is That?

Western metaphysics. What is a thing? Ordinary thinking

Hypothesis, hypokeimenon, Voraussetzung

patient on an operating table

Alētheia and Lēthē

Given that the Greek term for “truth,” alētheia, begins with the privative a- prefix, making the term negative (a-lētheia), Heidegger explores the possible senses of the root word lēthē and its relationship to the Greek notion of truth. One possible literal translation for alētheia is “non-forgetfulness,” a sense reinforced by Plato’s discussion of truth and forgetfulness in the “Myth of Er” segment of The Republic, where the River Lethe figures prominently as the cause of our forgetting the signs of truth we saw before being reborn into our current bodies. If we drink too much water while swimming across this River of Forgetfulness as we transit from the interlife plains of Er to this earthly existence, in this life we will experience a greater degree of forgetfulness of the nature of truth. But according to Heidegger, the more proper translation for capturing the original Greek sense of truth is “unconcealment” [der Unverborgenheit], where lēthē now suggests concealment and a-lētheia suggests truth as un-concealment.

In his lecture on Parmenides, Heidegger emphasizes that the “oppositional,” conflictual nature of the early Greek experience of truth. He explains that “unconcealedness is wrested from concealment” (Parmenides 17). This conflict, however, is not something that can be imagined as a struggle between humans and the barriers to truth but rather a condition internal to truth itself: “It is unclear who is struggling here and how those involved are struggling. It is important, however, to think for once this conflictual essence of truth, an essence which has been shining for 2,500 years in the faintest of all lights.” And this shining light of truth is further concealed for us in the west ever since the Roman translation of this struggle between unconcealedness and concealment into our “ordinary” opposition of “truth and falsity” (veritas et falsitas), a translation that extinguishes and flattens out the essential shining that for Heidegger is key to the early Greek notion of truth.

As I delve into the fruitful complications that Heidegger wishes for us to consider, I want to take a look at the implications of Heidegger’s description in Parmenides of these linguistic turns. For if we pay close attention to his approach to language and allow ourselves to be carried away in the movement he offers, we might find ourselves in a space of disclosure that offers us a way of imagining an alternative to our various current modern modes of imperial domination. Already above we have seen an example of Heidegger’s approach to truth (and to Being itself): “It is unclear who is struggling here and how those involved are struggling.” This lack of clarity is not the fuzzy-headedness of the subject who just needs to get his or her head clear. Truth is not subjective. But neither is it objective, for truth stands prior to the whole subject-object distinction that becomes the characteristic dualism of western thought since the Roman translation of the Greeks into Latin and the translation of concealment—the opposition inherent in unconcealedness—into falsehood. The struggle is one of truth, not for truth. Our job should not be to find truth but to let truth itself disclose itself before us.

Heidegger goes on to say the following concerning translation: “But if we translate ἀληθεία by ‘unconcealedness,’ and thereby transport ourselves into this word’s directives, then we are no longer constrained within linguistic significations but stand before an essential nexus that engages our thinking down to its very foundations” (P 26). Let’s look carefully at this expression. By translating ἀληθεία as “unconcealedness,” we “transport ourselves into this word’s directives.” Just as we are not seeking to track down truth and lay it bare in our subjective dominance, neither here are we pinning down the sense of the word but rather transporting ourselves into its own directives. Again, we are completely outside of the western subject-object duality. We open ourselves up to the opening up of the being of the word; we let it do its work on and for us. “In this way, Heidegger continues, “we hope to experience something of the primordial essence of truth in Greek thought.” We do not determine truth; we experience it—primordially. And we do so under the name of the goddess Áληθεία. We will have more to say about her later.

The Imperial Roots of Falsity

For Heidegger, key to understanding the inescapable connections between truth and domination in the modern age is the Roman translation of truth’s opposite as falsum. “The stem of the Latin word falsum (fallo)” he explains, “is ‘fall’ and is related to the Greek σφάλλω [sphallo], i.e., to overthrow, bring to a downfall, fell, make totter” (39). The power dynamics inherent in this falling become clearer in Heidegger’s elaboration: “The realm of essence decisive for the development of the Latin falsum is the one of the imperium and of the ‘imperial.’ We will take these words in their strict and original sense. Imperium means ‘command’” (40). And “command,” Heidegger continues, is the “basis of the essence of domination.” From out of this notion of command as domination comes the sense of domination as iustum (“ the ‘to-be-in-the-right’ and the ‘to have a right’”), a sense of justice very alien, Heidegger contends, to that of the Greeks. This dominating command involves a sense of superiority, a “constant surmounting of others, who are thereby the inferiors.” And in this surmounting lies the ability to oversee: “veni, vidi, vici—I came, I oversaw, and I conquered” (41). “The properly ‘great’ feature of the imperial,” then, “resides not in war but in the fallere of subterfuge as round-about action and in the pressing-into-service for domination . . . ; the falsum is treachery and deception, ‘the false.’” The imperial roots of the notion of falsity as the opposite of truth interject this scene of seeing-as-domination into the conquest of truth in general, wherein the Greek opposite of truth, not σφάλλωbut ψεῦδος (pseudos), gets lost in the shuffle of imperial conquest: “The Greek ψεῦδος, by being translated into the Latin falsum, is transported into the Roman-imperial domain of bringing to a downfall.”

What is decisive is that the Latinization occurs as a transformation of the essence of truth and Being within the essence of the Greco-Roman domain of history. This transformation is distinctive in that it remains concealed but nevertheless determines everything in advance. This transformation of the essence of truth and Being is the genuine event of history. The imperial as the mode of Being of a historical humanity is nevertheless not the basis of the essential transformation of ἀληθεία into veritas, as rectitudo, but is its consequence, and as this consequence it is in turn a possible cause and occasion for the development of the true in the sense of the correct. (42)

Despite all appearances, in other words, it is not because the Romans were imperialists that they sought a dominating definition of truth but the reverse; their dominating sense of truth became the essential ground for their approach to everything else—not simply the imposition of imperial political domination the imperial domination over all relationships: “the basic comportment of the Romans toward beings in general is governed by the rule of the imperium” (44). Through an evolutionary chain of term shifts such as adaequatio, ratio, rationalis, rectitudo, veritas, certum—prepared in advance by Plato and Aristotle’s association of ἀληθεία with ὁμοίωσις (homoiōsis or similitude, resemblance), the “entire thinking of the Occident from Plato to Nietzsche thinks in terms of this delimitation of the essence of truth as correctness. This delimitation of the essence of truth is the metaphysical concept of truth; more precisely, metaphysics receives its essence from the essence of truth thus determined” (50). And from out of this chain comes the metaphysical adherence to the notion of truth as representation. Representation (Vorstellung) becomes the mode of imperial conquest extended into all conceptual relationships between subjects and objects in the west.

QUOTATIONS

That into which the work sets itself back and which it causes to come forth in this setting back of itself we called the earth. Earth is that which comes forth and shelters. Earth, self-dependent, is effortless and untiring. Upon the earth and in it, historical man grounds his dwelling in the world. In setting up a world, the work sets forth the earth. This setting forth must be thought here in the strict sense of the word. The work moves the earth itself into the Open of a world and keeps it there. The work lets the earth be an earth. (46)

 

Ein Bauwerk, ein griechischer Tempel, bildet nichts ab. Er steht einfach da inmitten des zerklüfteten Felsentales. Das Bauwerk umschließt die Gestalt des Gottes und läßt sie in dieser Verbergung durch die offene Säulenhalle hinausstehen in
den heiligen Bezirk. Durch den Tempel west der Gott im Tempel an. Dieses Anwesen des Gottes ist in sich die Ausbreitung
und Ausgrenzung des Bezirkes als eines heiligen. Der Tempel
und sein Bezirk verschweben aber nicht in das Unbestimmte.
Das Tempelwerk fügt erst und sammelt zugleich die Einheit jener Bahnen und Bezüge um sich, in denen Geburt und Tod, Unheil und Segen, Sieg und Schmach, Ausharren und Verfall – dem Menschenwesen die Gestalt seines Geschickes gewinnen. Die waltende Weite dieser offenen Bezüge ist die Welt dieses geschichtlichen Volkes. Aus ihr und in ihr kommt es erst auf sich selbst zum Vollbringen seiner Bestimmung zurück.

Dastehend ruht das Bauwerk auf dem Felsgrund. Dies Aufruhen des Werkes holt aus dem Fels das Dunkle seines ungefügen und doch zu nichts gedrängten Tragens heraus. Dastehend hält das Bauwerk dem über es wegrasenden Sturm stand und zeigt so erst den Sturm selbst in seiner Gewalt. Der Glanz und das Leuchten des Gesteins, anscheinend selbst nur von Gnaden der Sonne, bringt doch erst das Lichte des Tages, die Weite des Himmels, die Finsternis der Nacht zum Vor- -schein. Das sichere Ragen macht den unsichtbaren Raum der Luft sichtbar. Das Unerschütterte des Werkes steht ab gegen das Wogen der Meerflut und läßt aus seiner Ruhe deren Toben erscheinen. Der Baum und das Gras, der Adler und der Stier, die Schlange und die Grille gehen erst in ihre abgehobene Gestalt ein und kommen so als das zum Vorschein, was sie sind. Dieses Herauskommen und Aufgehen selbst und im Ganzen nannten die Griechen frühzeitig die (I)”I1L~. Sie lichtet zugleich jenes, worauf und worin der Mensch sein Wohnen gründet. Wir nennen es die Erde. Von dem, was das Wort hier sagt, ist sowohl die Vorstellung einer abgelagerten Stoffmasse als auch die nur astronomische eines Planeten fernzuhalten. Die Erde ist das, wohin das Aufgehen alles Aufgehende und zwar als ein solches zurückbirgt. Im Aufgehenden west die Erde als das Bergende.

 

PASSAGES FROM “THE THING”

179

This appropriating mirror-play of the simple onefold of earth and sky, divinities and mortals, we call the world. The world presences by worlding. That means: the world’s worlding cannot be explained by anything else nor can it be fathomed [180] through any- thing else. This impossibility does not lie in the inability of our human thinking to explain and fathom in this way. Rather, the inexplicable and unfathomable character of the world’s worlding lies in this, that causes and grounds remain unsuitable for the world’s worlding. As soon as human cognition here calls for an explanation, it fails to transcend the world’s nature, and falls short of it. The human will to explain just does not reach to the simple- ness of the simple onefold of worlding. The united four are already strangled in their essential nature when we think of them only as separate realities, which are to be grounded in and explained by one another.

The unity of the fourfold is the fouring. But the fouring does not come about in such a way that it encompasses the four and only afterward is added to them as that compass. Nor does the fouring exhaust itself in this, that the four, once they are there, stand side by side singly.

The fouring, the unity of the four, presences as the appropriating mirror-play of the betrothed, each to the other in simple oneness. The fouring presences as the worlding of world. The mirror-play of world is the round dance of appropriating. Therefore, the round dance does not encompass the four like a hoop. The round dance is the ring that joins while it plays as mirroring. Appropriating, it lightens the four into the radiance of their simple oneness. Radiantly, the ring joins the four, everywhere open to the riddle of their presence. The gathered presence of the mirror-play of the world, joining in this way, is the ringing. In the ringing of the mirror-playing ring, the four nestle into their unifying presence, in which each one retains its own nature. So nestling, they join together, worlding, the world.

181 When and in what way do things appear as things? They do not appear by means of human making. But neither do they appear without the vigilance of mortals. The first step toward such vigilance is the step back from the thinking that merely represents—that is, explains—to the thinking that responds and recalls.

The step back from the one thinking to the other is no mere shift of attitude. It can never be any such thing for this reason alone: that all attitudes, including the ways in which they shift, remain committed to the precincts of representational thinking. The step back does, indeed, depart from the sphere of mere attitudes. The step back takes up its residence in a co-responding which, appealed to in the world’s being by the world’s being, answers within itself to that appeal. A mere shift of attitude is powerless to bring about the advent of the thing as thing, just as nothing that stands today as an object in the distanceless can ever be simply switched over into a thing. Nor do things as things ever come about if we merely avoid objects and recollect former objects which perhaps were once on the way to becoming things and even to actually presenting as things.

stellen = to position, to set, to place (something)

aufstellen = to set up

ausstellen = to exhibit, to display, to expose

bereitstellen = to provide, to allocate

entgegenstellen = to counterpose, to set against, to oppose

erstellen = to build; to draw up

darstellen = to represent, to depict, to portray

feststellen = to determine, to establish, to fix

Fragestellung (noun) = questioning, interrogation

herstellen = to produce, to make, to prepare, to establish

Sammelvorstellung (noun) = accumulative representation

verstellen = to shift, to block, to misplace

vorstellen = to represent (in an image or an idea), to picture (in one’s mind)

wegstellen = to put away

zurückstellen = to defer, to reserve, to put or set back

Zwischenstellung (noun) = intermediate position

 

 

Wir bedenken zunachst den Namen der Gottin ‘AA~~EdLaus, heißt die Unverborgenheit. Sicherlich wissen wir dadurch, daß wir zur Kenntnis nehmen, die sprachliche Bezeichnung fur >>Wahrheit<lacute im Griechischen >>&hfi8~ian<och, nichts vom Wesen der Wahrheit, so wenig wir uber das Pferd belehrt wer- den durch die Angabe des lateinischen >>equusccA. ber wenn wir M46~1adurch >>Unverborgenheitccubersetzen und dabei iibersetzen in die Weisungen dieses Wortes, d a m halten wir nicht mehr bei einer sprachlichen Bezeichnung, sondenl stehen vor einem Wesenszusammenhang, der unser Denken von Grund aus in Anspruch nimmt. Wir gehen den vier Weisungen nach, die uns der Name ‘Ahfi8~~inader Obersetzung >>Un- verborgenheitcc gibt. Wir erfahren so einiges uber das grie- chisch gedachte anfangliche Wesen der Wahrheit.

Zum ersten verweist die Un-verborgenheit auf Verborgenheit. Verbergung also durchwaltet das anfangliche Wesen der Wahrheit.

Zum anderen verweist die Un-verborgenheit darauf, daß sie der Verborgenheit abgerungen und mit ihr im Streit ist. Das anfangliche Wesen der Wahrheit ist streithaft. Zu fragen bleibt, was hier >>Streit<be<sagt.

Zum dritten verweist die Un-verborgenheit gemaD den vor- genannten Bestimmungen in einen Bereich von >>Gegensat- zencc, in denen >>dieWahrheitcc steht. Weil von ‘dem >>gegen- satzlichencc Wesen der Unverborgenheit aus ihr streithaftes Wesen zunachst sichtbar wird, mussen wir die Frage nach dern >>Gegensatz<ci,n dern die Wahrheit steht, eingehender bedenken. Im abendlandischen Denken wird als einziger Gegensatz zur Wahrheit die Unwahrheit in Rechnung gestellt. Die>>Unwahrheitccistgleichgesetztder>>Falschheitccd,ie,als Unrichtigkeit verstanden, das einleuchtende und aufdringliche Gegenteil zur >>Richtigkeitccbildet. Der vorwaltende

 

My Christmas Gift from Turehu

Christmas 2014

orbGiven the solemnity and joy for many people on this particular holiday—at least for those who actually celebrate it as a Holy Day—I thought that it might be good for me to do some yoga, meditation, and ceremony of a sort. It is a day of renewal and in many ways represents the true New Year. So as my wife and son, Anna and Kivi, continued sleeping, I got up determined to do some “traditional” shamanic journeying on this Christmas Day.

[Please note that what follows is a lesson for me regarding following my own path to truth. Neither I nor any of my spirit guides have any intention of criticizing other shamanic paths. The point, rather, is to embrace all paths that lead to truth while being true to one’s own truths. May all beings prosper as they follow their appropriate paths. By the way, I love drumming but have just never been called to engage in it in my own practice.]

My intention on this day was to follow through with the advice that the Grandfather Tree in the forest on our ridge had given me about a week ago. On that day, as I was walking ceremoniously (and what for me could be called “shamanically”) through the forest, I was drawn to the Grandfather Tree along with some other spots I am often called to, although not always all together on the same particular day.

As I leaned into the tree with my forehead pressed against it, the Grandfather began addressing me. He began with his usual greetings and friendly words and vibrations—I rarely hear much more from him, although I often feel that I have gained some energetic wisdom during each of our visits. But suddenly and unexpectedly he said, “You need to undergo a shamanic journey.” Surprised, I asked him to say more.

“You need to undergo a shamanic journey. A journey involving soul retrieval. Long ago in a distant lifetime you lost a key element of your soul, and now you need to get it back. During this journey you will meet with a being who will offer you an object embodying your lost soul part. You must accept this object, swallow it whole, and then you will be restored after many lifetimes of deprivation and suffering. This particular Karmic trail is coming to an end.”

I was surprised to receive this advice, or, perhaps, more wary than anything else. For I had never done a journey for a soul retrieval before. And beyond that, I have always had more confidence in my shamanic work for others than for myself. I am often too self-conscious to see things as clearly as I think I should when it comes to helping myself, and so I often end up feeling a bit frustrated after doing some personal spiritual task.

drumA few days ago I tried to do such a soul-retrieval journey for myself, but with only partial success. I put on some shamanic drumming music and, after my ritual yoga and pranayama workout, lay down on my yoga mat and closed my eyes. Initially things felt great. I eased into the drumming rhythm, the heartbeat of the worlds, and quickly drifted into a dark and cloudy sleepy kind of space. I could tell that what was being prepared for me was a kind of projector screen, a backdrop for the visions that might come to me in this alternate dimension.

Soon I saw a faint glow in the center of my visual field. The glow grew a little in size but not much in intensity. At a certain point I noticed that within this growing glowing circle there was a winged being—an angel. I tried to make direct contact with this angelic being, but after a few seconds it began shifting shape. It then slowly dawned on me that the angel had changed form into the crocodile-headed humanoid god of Egypt known as Sobek.

sobekI have seen several classical Egyptian figures in my visionary journeys in the past few years, but never Sobek. In this visionary state I established an energetic communication stream with him, but I never heard him speak any clearly identifiable words. Eventually I simply drifted off into a dreamy, floating sleep, feeling wrapped in a warm and dark womblike atmosphere that seemed like an opiate haze. After twenty minutes of this comfortable, indefinite slumber, I awoke and realized that I had gone on a dream journey, but one that evidently will have to wait before I achieve any kind of enlightenment and meaning from it beyond the beautiful sense of comfort. The key point was that no being, not even this Sobek, had offered me anything that I recognized as an object that I should swallow in order to retrieve my lost soul energy ball. So I knew then that I would have to try again to journey into the proper environmental conditions for a successful soul retrieval.

Days went by without a good opportunity for such a journey when Christmas Day arrived. I woke up early and decided that my first gift to myself would be to attempt another retrieval journey and hope for better results at Christmas.

As in my earlier attempt on the day when I encountered Sobek, I began with my usual opening up preliminary exercises—yoga and pranayams—and then lay down on the carpet in our yoga room. Again I began to slip into a dreamy fantastic space, comforting and opiate in tenor. I called on my main spirit guide, Turehu—in her words, a “fairy of the highest order”—and asked her to accompany me on this journey, hoping that in her presence I might better stay awake and draw this figure to me who would offer me my lost soul ball. She began helping by speaking to me about the benefits and drawbacks of my previous attempt at soul retrieval. And then fairly quickly she stopped and suggested that this particular method of lying down with closed eyes might not be my proper journeying mode.

“What do you normally do when you journey, Gabriel?” she asked.

I told her that I usually sit in a yoga position on my meditation pillow and drift off into the Otherworld in that posture.

“Then why,” she asked, “are you lying down on the floor with your eyes closed when this is not your usual method?”

I had to admit that I was doing so because I had recently been challenged concerning my personal shamanic procedures, the suggestion being that I should follow more “conventionally-accepted” methods. This was, in fact, why during my earlier attempt at soul retrieval I had taken the corpse-pose and the drumming background as my approach.

Acknowledging that there is immense power in shamanic drumming, Turehu nevertheless then suggested that I take my usual position, given my success with that procedure, and ignore the criticisms, however well-meaning. So I got up and sat on my meditation cushion and immediately entered the Otherworld.

I could now see Turehu there, standing to my left—an indefinite yet beautifully warm human-shaped glow. Like the other fairies I have seen, Turehu is not at all some small flower-like being as we see in Disney movies but actually a humanoid form that is larger than the typical human. The typical fairy, as they have presented themselves to me, is seven to eight feet tall. And so this was how I saw Turehu on Christmas morning.

With Turehu at my side, I then peered into the mist of the Otherworld—the “Mists of Avalon,” as I now call it—that has come to characterize my current state of visionary encounter. I waited, hoping for the being that the Grandfather Tree had predicted to appear and hand me my soul orb and ask me to swallow it in order to repair my fragmented state of being. I again saw angels coming and going in the glowing center of the visual field, but none came forward to offer me anything.

At a certain moment a realization shot through me like a bolt of lightning. “Wait a minute—I have been waiting for some new, strange being to greet me. But what if the being I have been waiting for is Turehu herself?” As soon as I became conscious of this question, I also knew in my greatest depths that this was the truth. Here I had been waiting for some new being to approach and introduce itself when all along my beloved spirit guide Turehu was there by my side with a brightly glowing orb in her left hand.

orb2“It has been you all along!” I shouted, and Turehu smiled. She reached her left hand out to me, offering me the glowing orb.

retrievalI slowly and ceremoniously accepted it, lifting it from her hand and carrying it to my mouth. As soon as I placed the orb into my mouth—it appeared to be about the size of a billiard ball but with no noticeable densely material mass—I felt that lightning shooting once more throughout my being. This is a frequent experience when I encounter power beings and enter into an energetic continuum with them. But this was probably the most beautiful intense electrocution I had ever experienced. It shot throughout my whole physical body and soon I felt it shooting throughout my etheric, astral, and mental bodies and well. After a good thirty or forty seconds of this spirit energy charging through my being, I saw the orb slowly pass down through my esophagus, my stomach, and then take its place in the hollow pit in my Third Chakra, just below my sternum. It fit itself perfectly into this chamber and then its glow intensified and flowed throughout the various levels of my body, from physical to causal.

Turehu, now standing directly in front of me, then placed her hands on my shoulders and looked me square in the eyes.

“You are whole now, Gabriel. You are once more reunited with your soul essence. Over time you will come to learn in detail how you initially lost it and why it has taken this many lifetimes for it to be returned to you. But the main point for you to recognize is that you are now whole. You are complete. And nobody else’s definition of you matters unless it fits with the truth of yourself that you know in your very being. You now know what is true for you, what is your very own truth.

“This is why the traditional journeying posture would not work for you. That posture and the definitions that go along with it are appropriate for some shamans. But your own version of shamanism is growing out of your very being. That is the only appropriate method and definition for you—the one that comes from your connection to your Higher Self. This, in part, is what it means to be whole, to be complete.”

In tears I thanked her. I slowly opened my eyes and embraced a whole new Christmas Day and a whole new me.