Meditations on Karlfried graf von Durkheim




The following are my reflections,  contemplations,  interpretations,  and meditations

 that come from  an informed reading  of the enlightened writing of Karlfried graf von Durkheim

 He was one of the great European translators of the perennial philosophy and the wisdom tradition

 originating from  Eastern sources of “religio” into the Western mindset.


              The purpose of all living things is to manifest                               

                                            and express Divine Being in the world.



The distinct and unique virtue of humanity is that we are self-conscious.  We are aware

that we are aware.  We are aware of our separate consciousness.  To be “hu” “man”

hu-man,  human is to be of two minds.  From being one minded (living in the mythological

 garden” and consequently [and necessarily so]  being in a connected relationship with source

through our instincts (operating as an automatic reaction to environment, conditions, needs, etc..) 

We humans now develop and evolve as a species into a new relationship with source.   We are both

 connected and independent It is absolutely  essential and  at a certain level on the journey it needs to

learn how to “let go,” how  to “let be” and  how  to surrender control to its higher informing and

transcendent aspect.  This is a high art that must be learned.  People talk about  this all the time (yada

 yada, yada.)  But the whole point is to be able to do it (and not just  talk about  it.)   Spirituality can be

 the ultimate ego trip !  It is absolutely blind to the obvious fact that it,  of itself,  not able to accomplish

 this high  art of “letting be” and surrendering control to the transcendent aspect.  That would be like

pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps.



The surrender of control (from a position of wisdom) by the ego is difficult to

accomplish Ego must learn to be open, trusting, without doubt and full of faith,

patient, secure, the strength of the position of “pure passivity.”  The ego is “the

captain” of the ship.  That is what it has trained to do all its/your life.  It does not

know how to be “crew”.  It only knows how to be captain.  The irony is that it

can only fully trust and surrender and let go/be from a position of strength  and

true faith.  If it chooses to relinquish control from a position of weakness, it is

operating out of fear,  and not love.  The fear based response should not be

mistaken for true letting be.  To surrender from a position of fear, doubt, and

defeat does not lead to learning the lesson of how to do  it.  We learn the lesson

by learning to be passive to spirit.  This is not a trick.  It goes against all of the

ego’s programming.  The ego is your ally.  But it must learn to listen, open, and

receive guidance, inspiration,  and direction from a higher source. 



The art of letting be only begins  with the choice to do so.  It takes a great deal of practice

 patience, and learning  in order to be able to accomplish this task.  It takes as long as it takes,

 and you get there when you get there. The paradox is that it is not about doing,  but from a

 position of enlightened “non-doing” that the ego is finally  able to learn to “follow the flow”

 from the  transcendent informing  aspect.  It learns to allow and relinquish the need for egoic

self control from a position of wise trust.



Pride, vanity, conceit, the seemingly endless list of negative emotional response and

patterns, closed mindedness, impatience, doubt, worry, and anything that could be

considered to be originating out of a fear based response and posture to life and

experience will reinforce the problem.  The more that the ego is out of control,

the more attention and effort it will give to attempting to regain  control  because it

is designed by nature to be the captain of your ship. It learns only reluctantly to willingly

 and consciously to be “first mate” or “crew.”  This is the work of a matured lifetime.



This  extraordinary aspect of how we humans are unique.  Through humanity,

 the transcendent aspect, Divine Being, becomes conscious of itself (self-conscious) in

nature.  We humans have the capacity to reflect Being as Source.  But in order

to accomplish that, we must be able to relinquish consciously our separateness.

We individuate as a self out of Self as originating source.  The injunction is for

self to become transparent to Self, without obstructions.  Let self learn to become

transparent to Self.  Let self learn to become transparent to the transcendent



Become a clear mountain lake.  Become the clear mountain lake at an

elevation of 10,000 feet.  There is no wind, nothing to stir the surface of the waters,

now completely calm and placid and waiting.....waiting.....waiting.  The waters are

clear all the way down to the bottom far below.  Sun overhead radiates its light all

the way down, all the way through to the bottom of lake.  The water is transparent

to the light.  There is no obstruction, no sense of self or other.  The clear lake

allows the sunlight to move all the way through.  Light impregnates water. Spirit

expresses itself through out the waters.  Water receives and “surrenders” to fire.



The relationship of the sun to the moon can be a wonderful metaphor  in the deeper

 development of  understanding.  The moon appears bright, but its source of illumination

 is not within itself.  Its source of illumination is outside (as the sun.)   When the moon is

directly in line between the Earth and the sun, the moon (the new moon) is not visible. 

The light is on the “back side” of the moon- which is never  visible to the Earth.  When

the Earth is directly between the moon and the sun, we have the condition of the full moon. 

 The fullness of the globe of the moon is illuminated.  The phases of the moon are a continuous

 movement back and forth between an ebb and flow from light, as the full moon,  to darkness, as

the new moon.  This s a profound metaphor to contemplate.  What in the human being (the micro)

corresponds to the macro (the sun, moon, Earth.)  How ironic (and telling) that in our language we

 capitalize the planet, Earth because it is our home,  but we do not capitalize the sun which supports,

sustains, and nurtures all life.  If the sun ceased to shine,  within a few brief moments all forms of life

would lose their “livingness;” and life would be reduced to inert matter.” 



The higher purpose and function of the “true person” is to reveal

Divine Being within themselves.  Their self is to become their Self.  

Soul, from a place of wisdom and realization, now becomes able

to be passive to Spirit.  It becomes “moon” to sun as spirit.



The single most important single aspect in the practice, practice, practice of the

 Inner Way” (or the path of transformation) is in learning to become open,

trusting, receptive to your inward and innermost experience of essence (soul.)

Spirit speaks through soul.  Spirit does not speak directly to mind.  Spirit informs

soul; then soul informs mind.  It is through the soul that your sense of essence, your

innermost self, that Divine Being expresses itself to us and through us. It is a cardinal

and common error of thought to conclude that spirit expresses itself to mind.  Mind

receives its conscious inspiration, direction, and guidance via the soul aspect.



It is essential to have a right understanding of ego.  This is more difficult in the West

than in the East.  In the West, mind is more commonly assertive and willful. 

In the East, there is a 3,000 year written history of the art,  heritage,  technique, and practices

of the “ inner way.”  It is respected because it is understood as the higher meaning of life.

In the West (historically and classically, although this is changing slowly,)

 it is neither respected or understood.



The West is extraverted; the East is introverted.  The East held the treasure of the

inner “science” as a written heritage.  In was, in fact, a science- because it had developed              

and refined  its methods and techniques that were independently verifiable  It is important

to understand  that the Eastern wisdom tradition is, in fact, a science.   It has a very different

domain than western science; but its methodology is quite similar.  It starts with a question or

hypothesis, such as: “How may I apprehend the “inner way ??” or how may I develop a

psychological or spiritual maturity.  It does not begin with the question of belief.  It is concerned

with methods that have stood the test of time going back 3,000 years of recorded history

and beyond into the oral heritage. 



The methods and techniques require  a wholehearted attention and devotion. 

This level of commitment is rare.  This level of devotion requires a long period

of preparation and practice, practice, practice.   There were very few people who

were willing to go through the enormous effort, and to make the singularity of  real

intention and commitment in order that the experiment, as the individual’s experience

of spiritual practice leading to spiritual maturity,  could be verified by the methodologies

of the science  of the “inner way.”   Peer review of the interpretations, methods, and

transformations that will  occur if only the “right” methods are applied in the “right”

manner by the “right” person.  This peer review of “right” person practicing the

psychological and spiritual principles and methods are the community of informed and

accomplished mystics.  This is both a most unique and rare gathering of persons.  One does

 not get there by power, or wealth, or ambition.  In fact, all of those parameters seem, all

too often, to greatly hinder the development of intention and the ability to accomplish the

long way” to spiritual maturity. It is a science because its methods are testable and

verifiable. It is all too true that few are those who choose to go down this river, and fewer still

homeward bound.”  And of those too few who persist wholeheartedly, only the too

few are truly able to fully ripen,  fruit and flower into spiritual maturity.



The higher meaning and purpose of “leisure” is to be able to devote the available

open time (that can be “spent” at will and by choice) to developing  one’s inner BEING.

 It seems to me that most people avail themselves to the opportunity for leisure in order

 to devote it to the choices of rest, entertainment & amusement, the pursuit

of pleasure (as opposed to the pursuit of happiness) and excitement. Clearly,

we, as a culture have lost the higher understanding of the meaning and purpose of

free time” and leisure.  We have lost the purpose and understanding of what it means

 to be a human being.  To fully realize  that is to put all available agency of heart,

mind, will, and body at the disposal of  the journey  “homeward bound.”



It is essential that each person in the process of living in their world of experience

and circumstances develop a mature knowledge of themselves- the subject, itself,

of their life.  This is the domain of ego whose purpose is to direct us outward to

successful adaptation to events and situations as we meet them.  The purpose of the

ego is to accomplish our “successful” adaptation to life.  To become self-conscious,

to have become separated out from source in the process of being hu-man, human,

is to become “two  minded.  The function of the ego is to be captain of the “ second

mind until it has learned to become able to accomplish  a new conscious unitive return

to source as spirit. At that point, it becomes our “first mate.”



The fundamental error is that the ego assumes that it is the “chairman of the

board” instead of the “executive officer.”  It allocates all resources, attention, and

efforts at its own “mission” which is successful adaptation to life.  This is all well

and good, as far as it goes, but eventually the phone call from the board chairman

(the soul) is received wondering out loud to the executive officer, ego, why there has

been no joint inquiry, no interactive dialogue between them, between soul and ego.



Ego is, of course, oblivious to all this.  It doesn’t hear soul.  It is not listening to

the “chairman.”   It becomes necessary for the soul to capture the attention of

ego.  Estrangement from one’s higher empowering aspect (soul) will result,

and necessarily so, in a state of existential anxiety.  That inner state is uncomfortable,

we feel out of sorts with ourselves, there  is the inner experience (if we are beginning

to listen) of a psychic (mental states) suffering as well as emotional conflict, confusion,

a loss of inner integrity and balance.  The result of the estrangement is progressive,

and is only diminished when the individual self (as ego) out of a place of awareness

and understanding turns inward and attempts to deal with the state of one’s

inner life.



The difficulty is that the turning inward need occur in addition  to the attention

to outer events and conditions.  We are being asked to grow up by growing inward

and outward  simultaneously.   Successful adaptation to one’s duties and

experiences must not be abandoned even though often we feel overwhelmed by the

added  requirement.  Here-to-fore metaphorically we have used the right hand only

 in  the world to accomplish all tasks.  Now we are being asked to learn to develop                           

 and mature the left hand(ed) path.  The transition to being able to “ use both hands,”

and to mature the ability to be aware and intimate with one’s inner states while being

able to accomplish appropriately one’s responsibilities and circumstances is always a

difficult and arduous matter.



The consequences of the inevitable  estrangement from one’s inner being,

one’s soul, is apparent in the contemporary world for all who choose (and are

able) to see.  This is a cultural crisis of the first magnitude. This is precisely the

pattern in which the modern world finds itself.  It is a progressive enfoldment. 



 Something we do not and cannot

 understand  is doing something

 we know not what.



Unless a culture is willing to come to terms with this, to see, identify, and name

the problem, it will never be able to move from the level of the problem to the

level of the solution.  Western culture has increasingly and progressively separated

itself from the existential awareness of the soul.  It sees the soul as a naive vestige

from the past, or a religious doctrine that has no basis in fact.  Its existence can

 neither be confirmed or verified by standard empirical scientific methodologies.



Therefore, we have been led down a one way road to a blind alley on a road that is

fast approaching a cliff.  The chasm is wide and deep.  We will not turn around.  That

gesture would be anti- progress.  We will not admit defeat.  We cannot, must not ( for

that would admit that we are wrong.)   And more than anything, we hate to admit that

we were wrong.  We know we are right, so they say, so they say.  A little further down 

the road, just a little further down the road, and everything will be swell.  After all,

after all,  we have international corporations on our side.  We have government on our

side.  We have international finance on our side.  We have the media on our side.

We have education on our side. We have science and technology on our side.

We have our interpretation of history on our side.  We have progress on our side



And they look at each other, and smile that smile of self-satisfaction.

 It is their field, and they know it.  They own the football,  and the rules,

 and the players,  and the crowds. They own the commercials, and the

 announcers,  and the planes flying overhead at half time.  They own today. 

 They have owned yesterday as far back as anyone can ever remember.

 They know  they will own tomorrow, so they say, so they say.

 And  so why should anything change, they ask themselves.



 It is hard to find just the right answer to them.  It is simple.  It is right before our

  eyes.  It is in the air that we breathe.  Every time we take an in-breath, we animate

  ourselves with spirit and source and substance.  The in-breath is the first act that

  we do that initiates our life and livingness.  It is the next to the last act that we do

  that concludes the livingness of our life.



The answer is there; but it must not be simply words.  If it were merely words, it

could be no more that “the finger pointing at the moon.”  Words are symbols.

They stand in place of the reality that they, as words,  do not, and cannot touch. 

We must answer those who always win on their field by their rules with their football

with reality itself.  We ourselves must transform ourselves and become that reality.



               We ourselves must  now learn how to become

                           transparent to the transcendent                                                                                                      



                               Carry no stones down to the banks of the river

                                 Speak to the river on tongues of light.

                                 For we are hollow bamboo reeds that carry no memory

                                 Floating down and across this river called, Life.



                                Spirit is the doer.  And spirit is the deed to be done as well.

                                 And spirit is the doing of the deed to be done by the doer.

                                 We human beings are the blessing point in which the doer,

                                                    and the doing, and the deed become one.