Ep. 15 - Awakening from the Meaning Crisis - Marcus Aurelius and Jesus | Transcription

Transcription for the video titled "Ep. 15 - Awakening from the Meaning Crisis - Marcus Aurelius and Jesus".


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Intro (00:00)

Welcome back to Awakening from the Meaning Crisis. So last time we finished up our look at what was going on in Buddhism and then we moved back to the West and we started to take a look at what was coming after the axial revolution and we saw that Aristotle's disciple Alexander Ashardin, a period of turmoil and cultural anxiety, a period where many people were experiencing domicide at a very wide manner, a deep and profound sense, a loss of home, not of having a house or a dwelling, but that connectedness, that rootedness to one's culture, one's place, one's history, one's language group, one's religion, one's community, etc. And we saw that what happens is a change in the cultivation of wisdom. Notice again the deep connection between the cultivation of wisdom and the attempt to deal with enhancement of meaning or the response to a meaning crisis. What happens is a change in the notion of wisdom and that wisdom now takes on a therapeutic dimension in which the philosopher is the physician of the soul and has to learn to cure anxiety.

Exploration Of Stoicism And Ancient Greek Philosophies

Epictetus (01:27)

And then we learned how the Epicureans responded to this, how they diagnosed the problem, like a physician and prescribed a response. They diagnosed the anxiety of the period of the Hellenistic domicide as being caused by an anxiety about one's own mortality. We took a look at that and we took a look at how they responded to that. They advocated giving up, I would argue, the quixotic attempt to achieve immortality, and instead trying to come to an acceptance, a lived acceptance of one's mortality, and they did that by getting you to realize, by slowly getting to realize, getting clear about your nebulous anxiety, that it's not about non-existence, it's not about experiencing total loss, it's about experiencing partial loss, and then there's a remedy to experiencing partial loss, which is to set yourself upon those things that are actually constitutive of meaningful happiness and then realizing, deeply realizing, and structuring your lives so that you will have those up until the moment of your death, which is philosophically informed friendship, meaningful relationships in which we are afforded the cultivation of wisdom and self-transcendence. Now, well, I think mortality salience is definitely a part of the Hellenistic crisis. I don't think the Epicureans have a comprehensive understanding, and to get a more comprehensive understanding and diagnosis, we turn to the Stoics, but in order to understand the Stoics, we have to understand the group that they developed out of, those were the cynics, and the cynics were not as impressed by Socrates' argumentation as Plato was, they were much more impressed by Socrates' capacity for confrontation and provocatively inducing aporia in people, and they started to practice this, and in doing so they started to force people to realize the distinction between moral codes and purity codes, and to thereby pay more careful attention to what they're actually setting their hearts upon, so that their hearts would not be broken by being set on man-made, impermanent cultural systems and values. Zeno, a cynic, was deeply impressed by this, but he was also impressed by Plato's argumentation. He wanted to integrate the two together, and he also had the fundamental insight that although particular cultures and historical institutions are contingent, being social is not. We are inherently social in the depths of our humanity. So leaving the polis was not actually an option, according to Zeno. Instead, what we have to do is realize that our issue isn't what we're setting our hearts upon, but how we're setting our hearts. Pay much more attention to the process than the product. So you can see how the Stoics are even picking up on something that's implicit in the Epicureans. The Epicureans aren't trying to change the world and eradicate death by bringing about immortality. The Epicureans are trying to get you to reframe, have insight, not just an intellectual insight, but an existential insight that changes the meaning of your mortality. And this was the core of the Stoic Insight. Pay attention to how that existential meaning is being made. Pay attention to how that process of co-identification, the way we're assuming and assigning identities is occurring, because that's where yourself and your identity and your agency are being forged. The problem is most of us let that process go by mindlessly, automatically and reactively. And so we mar this process. We make it susceptible to distortion. And that distortion is going to be a distortion that affects the very machinery of ourself, of our being in the world. So what did the Stoics advocate that we need to do? Well, we need to bring this process of co-identification of assuming various roles of our agency, assuming various identities and assigning various identities in the arena. We need to bring this whole co-determination, co-creation of agency and arena into our awareness. So they advocated prososh and prokiran. And you're going to see similarities here to what we saw in Buddhism, but also some differences. So prososh is to pay attention. Now obviously we're always paying attention, so that's useful, useless advice. What they meant is pay attention to how you're paying attention. Pay attention to how you're judging. Pay attention to this process. Learn, right? Learn to see there's a difference between the meaning and why I mean here the modal meaning, the existential mode you're in. I don't mean semantic meaning. Learn to distinguish between the meaning and the event. Let's stop here. Let's stop here. This is the core, I would argue, of all of our current psychotherapies that are cognitive psychotherapies. Learning to distinguish between the event and the meaning you give the event. Because this is happening, this is like when I talk before about your glasses. They're normally transparent. Because we almost always unconsciously framing events. The meaning and the event are fused together. But here's the issue. They're not identical. Events are events. The meaning is the co-identification process that is taking place in response to the event. That could be a process of parasitic processing. That's not intrinsic to the event at all. In fact, the meaning isn't part of the event at all. This is important because if you keep them fused, you will be confused. If the meaning and the event are fused, the only way you can alter the meaning is by altering the event. The problem with that is sometimes you can. But here's the thing. Here's the thing that the Stoics are doing. It's very much like what the Buddha was doing with trying to make you realize how threatened you are. You do not have as much control as you think you do. Epictetus, one of the great Stoic philosophers, starts his manual for living. Basically his instruction manual of how to try and live a Stoic life with saying, "The core of wisdom is knowing what's in your control and what's not in your control." And stop pretending that things are in your control that aren't. Because most of the time we do not exercise as much control over events as we like to believe, and we delude ourselves that we do precisely because if we lose control of the event, we will of course lose control of the meaning because we have fused the meaning and the event together. We are confused. Existentially confused. How can such a confusion occur to us? We've already talked about this. I mentioned Eric Fromm. When we talked about the being and the having mode, I mentioned at that time and we would come back to it, that Fromm was directly influenced by the Stoics.

Having and Being (11:12)

It's the Stoics who got us to realize, to use Frommian language, the distinction between the having mode and the being mode. The having mode is met by controlling things. And there are some things we literally have to control. Water, food, air, shelter. But most of our most pertinent needs are not meat needs that are met by exercising control. But our needs that are met by enhancing meaning. We have to become, look, the being mode is met by developing the agent arena relationship, by becoming mature, which isn't just something that happens inside of me. Look, when I become mature, it isn't just that I'm changed inside. I also inhabit a different arena and we recognize that socially. That's why we don't let little kids get married or drive cars or own guns. They're not allowed to move in a certain arena. Maturity is an agent arena relationship. It is a particular existential meaning. But if you do not know how to separate the meaning from the events, you're liable to be very seriously motally confused, such that you pursue maturity by trying to have a car. You pursue being in love by having sex and controlling and manipulating. But it doesn't work because you really can't exercise as much control over the world as you need in order to stabilize the meaning. Do you see how this is like the cynics still? You're trying to control the world that largely is beyond your control. You're setting your hearts on thing and your heart's going to be broken. But it's not just about man-made. Anything, anything can fall prey to this. You have to practice bringing into your awareness in a way that is transformative and developmental, the distinction between events and the meaning of events and realizing this. You often act as if you have no control over the meaning because you're ignorant of the processes and it's transparent to you.

What is the feeling we call control? (14:10)

And you focus on trying to control the event in which you often often have much less control than you realize. This is what you should do. Pull the two apart, the meaning and the event, and recalibrate your sense of control and identity. Because you have actually way more control over this than you realize or practice and you have way less control over this than you realize or practice. That's why the core of wisdom is knowing what's in our control versus what's not in our control. So how do you practice that? And how does your identity change as you do? Well, the practice is prokiron. This means sort of ready to hand. It means remembering, but in the sense of sati, like mindfulness, it means remembering in a way that brings things, brings skills and sensitivities and sensibilities to bear in an appropriate and effective manner. It means remembering in a motally existential sense. So you practice a bunch of psychotechnologies to try and get them so internalized that you can not know that there's a distinction. I know that I should go outside the nine dots, but I need to know how to actually separate these things.

Chronic Pleasure and Pain (16:13)

So what do you do? Well, you engage in moment to moment practices. You can see this, a book where you can see somebody doing this. And the book has to be read properly because many people misread the book. This is the Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. People read this book and they often think the point of the book is to believe the propositions he is proposing. The book is not written to you. It is not an attempt to create beliefs in you. Therefore, using it as creating beliefs is mistaken. The book is written to whom? The book is written to himself. Marcus Aurelius is practicing what Pierre Haudel called spiritual exercises. He is practicing psychotechnologies that are attempting to bring into awareness the co-identification process and co-transform the meaning of the world and the meaning of himself as distinct from attempting to control and manipulate the world by accruing power and fame. And this was a particularly difficult problem for Marcus Aurelius, precisely because he had power and fame. He was the emperor. Many people consider him. I do as well. The greatest of the Roman emperors. He was the Roman Empire of the Roman Empire when it was still in ascendance. Generally, he is considered the last great emperor of that ascendance. The beginning of the decline is marked when his son assumes the throne. The movie, well in many ways, a fine movie, Gladiator does not represent Marcus Aurelius well at all. Marcus Aurelius said something that really brings out both of these points, the challenge he faced and not getting enmeshed in power and fame because of the way power and fame fuse the meaning with the event. He famously said this, "It is possible to be happy even in a palace." And now you can think of the Buddha leaving the palace. Marcus Aurelius, unlike the Buddha, unlike the cynics, doesn't leave the palace. He learns how to be happy even in a palace because he does not want to shirk his moral responsibilities. So what are some of these practices you see him engaging in? One is a practice that Hadojo calls objective seeing. We are not quite happy with that terms because of some of the associations with the word objective, but let us go on. Aurelius says, "Conceive of sex as the friction of two patches of skin and the production of a sticky fluid." And you go, "Ooh, that's kind of like diogenes in the marketplace. It's 'ooh.' What's he doing there? What's he doing? And why is he doing it? He's married, he's has children, so he's not a prude. In fact, he loved his wife quite deeply. What's he doing? He's trying to get you to realize the event of sex as distinct from all the meaning we pour into it. The event is friction between some patches of skin and the production of a sticky fluid. But we pour all of this into it. And there's all of this meaning. And he's not saying that meaning is wrong. That's not the point anymore than the being mode is good and the having mode is bad. He's not saying that. He's getting himself to realize, to enact, wait, there's a difference between the event and all of this meaning that I'm identifying with. All of this rules, all of this rules I'm assuming, all of the rules I'm assigning. The Sorex would recommend, get a cup that you're really attached to, a cup you really like. Start using it on a daily basis so that you really like it until it becomes very familiar and then smash it. Because then you'll remember the distinction between the meaning and the thing. And if you can practice it with something that ultimately isn't that much of an event with little things, then you can learn to do it with larger things. This leads to a practice that many people find distasteful for the Sorex. It's called premeditario. When you're kissing your child good night, say to yourself, I may lose them to death tonight. Because you have to learn to distinguish the meaning from the physics. You have tremendous control over the meaning that you and your son are making together. You have very little control over the physics of his mortality. Yes, you can do things to protect him and you should, but you can't move the universe. Look, we have got to remember this better, Sati. We have entire genres that distort and refuse together the meaning and the event. They are pervasive in our culture and I think they're much more pernicious than we realize. The ubiquitous evil is always the most dangerous, right? These are romantic comedies. Because romantic comedies teach us that the narrative meaning we are assigning to things is aligned with, consonant with, in concert with the way the world is unfolding. So events will conspire to bring two people together. There will be difficulties, but the world will help them to realize until they finally end up together.

Praemeditio (23:17)

Of course, we have tragedies to try and compensate that, but the romantic comedy teaches us the wrong, that's not how it works. I'm in love with an amazing woman. I admire her as a person. I'm just so deeply grateful to be in this relationship and it's growing and growing. Right? And I'm, "Oh, this is fantastic!" And I step out into the street and I don't notice a truck coming and it kills me. It doesn't care about my happiness. It doesn't care about my narrative. It doesn't care about all of that meaning that I'm making with her. It's real that we're making this meaning. It's part of our being mode, but it's not the same as the events that I'm experiencing. See, this leads to the Stoics diagnosis. It's not mortality that makes us anxious. It's fatality. Now, here's another instance, and this I would recommend Bizer's book, Beyond Fate, where we've lost the meaning of a word, because we associate that with mortality, something that's fatal is something that has caused death. But that's not the root of the... Death is not the root of this word. The root of this word is fate. Now, there's two meanings to this. One is some sort of magical things that are predestined by some supernatural force. I'm not talking about that meaning of fate. I'm talking about the way things are just... are fated to happen. They're just rolling from their own causal necessity. And here's the point. When we fuse these together, we become subject to the fatality of all things. Everything is fatal in that the meaning and the thing are not identical, and if we forget that, we will suffer when they come apart. Now, I can explain to you the association. Why is this associated with death? Because death is where those come apart. Death is where the events of the universe and all of your meaning and all of your narrative and all of your identity radically become unglued. Death is fatal. It reveals to you in the ultimate loss of agency that meaning and event are not identical. What's another practice that the Stoics engage in? Practice they engaged in is called the view from above. You can see Marcus Aurelius doing it in the meditations. He says, imagine that instead of... and think about the Solomon effect that we talked about moving from the first person perspective to the third person perspective.

Construal (27:04)

There's all kinds of evidence about altering your level of construle having these very powerful effects on your cognition and your sense of self. You're viewing some situation and you're enmeshed in it. Now view it from higher up in space and time. Then higher up in space. Situate this event within all of Toronto. Situate it within all of Canada within the whole world. Within not just the whole world now but the whole world through all of time. What happens when you do that? Don't just say it. Try it sometime. Visualize it. Imagine yourself doing it. What happens is the agent arena is being altered and all of this machinery is coming into your awareness and your sense of self and your sense of what matters and what's important, what things mean is being radically transformed. You become more liable to pursuing more long term goals. You become more flexible. You become more capable of rational reflection, self transformation. This is all evidenced from construle level theory. A bunch of practices that are designed to get you to bring into awareness this process of meaning making and to give you the discernment to pull apart the meaning from the event. Most therapy is about getting people to see this. Respectival change. To identify with it. Change their sense of self, their sense of control so that they move off trying to so much change the events that they can't control as much as they deeply desperately want to. To cognitively reframing the meaning. This isn't just semantic meaning. This is the identity, your participatory meaning, your existential mode. This takes tremendous practice. The last thing you'll see Marcus Aurelius doing and even more a pectitus is the practice of actually internalizing Socrates. Like Antisthenes talked about at the very beginning of this whole tradition. It means trying to do with yourself what Socrates had done with you. You can see this again in modern cognitive behavioral practices. You get people to stop and be socratic with themselves. The person is depressed. When Antisthenes was talking about conversing with himself, he wasn't talking about the way you ruminate. When we ruminate, we're running things to our head. Everything I do is a failure. The therapist doesn't try and console the person and says, "No, go out and get more success." He doesn't give the American commercial response, "Well, go out and succeed more. Conquer the world." Good luck with that. She says, "Well, everything you do, everything, was you stating to me that that's a failure, itself a failure?" "Well, no, not everything. Did you get here successfully today?" "Well, yes, I did." "What about clothing yourself?" "Yes, so what do you mean by everything?" "I don't mean everything." "What do you mean?" You realize a lot of this is because I'm letting this go by without having my own internal Socrates that stops me and says, "Oh, wow, you're making such powerful claims. You must know and understand. You see, you're bullshitting yourself." Because this is very salient to you, but it's way beyond your understanding because what it's not representing what you actually mean. This may be what you believe, but it can't be what you mean. Everybody hates me. Everybody? So everybody's out to get you. Well, no, not most people. Which people? Well, this person. They hate you. How do you know they hate you? Well, they said that, "Is that enough for hate? You can see Socrates here. Is that what you mean by hate? Tell me what you mean by it." You've got all these things salient in your mind and you're running them round and round and round, but you don't really understand the meaning.

Keep wisdom cognitive (32:48)

And you're bullshitting yourself. Your motivation and your arousal is way ahead of your understanding. And most importantly, because of that, the meaning and the event are confused together. And again, this is not just in your beliefs. This is in your very identity. By doing all of this, you're going to transform your capacity for interacting with the world. You're going to not fall prey to the absurdity. And we're going to come back to absurdity again. Right? That's inflicted on you by the fatality of all things. Because if you can discern, and this is one of the key things of wisdom, is discerning, not just in thought, but in perspective and in identity, the difference between the meaning and the events, and properly identify by meaning properly sensing and calibrating your sense of control, then you will alter your sense of identity. How? And how could this possibly give an answer to the mortality of things that the Epicureans gave a direct answer to? Let's play with that a little bit. A kind of a bit of a view from above. Let's say I gave you immortality. You got it. What would you do with it? Well, I do all the things I'd like to do. Okay, great. What would you do? I'd have lots of socks and eat lots of chocolate. Okay. How long? Probably not very long. I'd get bored. Then what would you do? I'd pursue more meaningful things. What? I've always wanted to learn art tree. I'd take up art tree. Okay, then I'd get really good at art tree. Great. Then what? Well, really good at basketball. Yeah, and then what? There's a really good story by, well, it's a chapter in a book, The History of the World in Nine of Chapters by Julian Barnes, where people go to heaven, and what they're doing in heaven is they think it's immortality, and he practices golf until he's getting a score of 18. Right? And then he's sort of like, okay, what do I do now? What do I do? And then he comes to St. Peter and he says, what's going on? And he says, what's wrong? Aren't you doing everything you want? I am. But I get great at everything. And St. Peter says, well, you asked her what? He says, well, I'm kind of done. And then St. Peter says, ah, now you get the point of heaven. The point of heaven isn't to live out immortality. It is to make you accept death. Now, that's not classic Christian doctrine by any means. It's a great story. And it epitomizes the stoic idea. As long as you are formulating your identity horizontally in terms of a narrative, of achieving an unending duration to your life, you're going to fail. But even if I gave it to you, and this is what people need to stop and think about, it would fail. What you want is that moment that that guy in heaven has. You want not a length of life, but a fullness, a depth. You want to have lived life as fully as possible. This is why Marcus Aurelius says, everybody dies, but not everybody has lived. People quote that, and they think it's about sort of gusto or something like this. That's not what it's meant. This is the access of fame and fortune to having mode. There's nothing wrong with it. But this is the access of self transcendence, the being mode.

Wisdom finds home in various forms of Stoicism (37:20)

What do you identify with? Is your identity here? Or do you identify here? And if you identify here and you practice prokiron and prosage, you can get this fullness of being. Remember, that's what Plato promised. You could come to a complete fullness. And even if it lasts a moment, that's enough. Because it's not based on duration, it's based on quality. If I can achieve that in this moment right here, right now, then I'm done. So the Stoics have an answer. An answer that in a somewhat watered down form is still very powerfully effective, at least in our therapeutic endeavors, which are becoming more and more central to many people's lives because of the meaning crisis. But a less watered down version is also existentially pertinent and relevant. We can come to realize that I can exercise much more control over the meaning making, such that I get the one thing that is always good to have, which is wisdom, that can afford me an identity in the depths, an ontological identity, rather than a merely historical identity. And that would be a fulfilled life. And that is actually what I want. I'll speak personally now for a moment. I mean, at a physiological level, of course, I avoid death. Like I don't step into traffic and I'm enjoying my life, so I don't mean this in any morbid or depressive way. But I do not want to live forever. I do not want to live forever. I do not think that John Brevakey should exist for all time. I think that would be an ontological mistake of astronomical proportions. In some ways, I'm tired of life. I'm tired of the ways in which I've been foolish, the ways in which I've been immoral, let myself and other people down. And I have a strong sense of the inevitability of that. And extending that through all of eternity strikes me as a horrible evil to inflict on reality. And that one eye myself did not want to bear. But have I seen glimpses of this? Yes. I have. And we know from when people have awakening experiences that give them this, that they lose their fear of their mortality, they lose that existential anxiety. And if that's coupled to a fullness of being, that would be a way of responding to not only our mental health issues, but our existential distress about our own individual mortality.

Pierre Hado explores ancient Greek philosophies and wisdom (41:18)

So you can see with both the Epicureans and the Stoics that we have things analogous, different but analogous to the kinds of things we saw at work within Buddhism. And we can see that the West is building up this very powerful tradition in its own right. And one of the great things about Pierre Hado's work, and I recommend it very strongly to you, like what is ancient philosophy, or philosophy as a way of life, is to remind us that we do not have to look to Asian history, Asian not ancient. We do not have to look to the east for the psychotechnologies of self-transcendence and self-transformation. There's no reason not to, we should, but we should not do that because we believe there is nothing within the Western heritage that offers us a profound response to the quest for meaning, wisdom, self-transcendence, and a response to existential anxiety. We have those things. Now one of the things that has been happening, and I think it is a good thing, although it is indicative of the increase of the meaning crisis in the West, is there has been a rediscovery of Stoicism, Platonism, etc. Part of what we need to do, and that's what I've been trying to do with you, is integrate that with our current cognitive science, so that once again, we can learn how to, and I mean this in a deeply, spiritually deep way, salvage from our own tradition, the psychotechnologies and practices of wisdom and meaning making that we are going to need, but in a way that we can live within a scientific worldview. So, the Hellenistic period comes to an end with the advent of a return to a world empire, which in very many ways is going to be informed by the axial revolution, but in very many ways also, represents a return to a pre-axial world, namely a world in which eventually a man can be considered a god because he wields so much power, the Roman emperors, and power and prosperity are the primary ways in which wisdom is understood.

As axial religions mature they terminate & a quest to Know God (43:19)

But within that empire, all of these philosophies will find home, and eventually, as we noted with Marcus Aurelius, even the emperor himself, will be a proponent and an exemplar of the legacy of the axial revolution. But something else is also happening with the advent of this empire in the Mediterranean, and we return back now, as I promised we would, to one of the areas in which the axial revolution had taken place, and this of course is ancient Israel. Because what's happening is, of course, Israel has now been conquered by a sequence of empires, and the most recent of course is the Roman Empire. And I want to now speak of a religion that emerges at this time. It's not an axial religion, but it is deeply informed by the axial legacy, particularly the ancient Israel legacy, where the two worlds were understood, if you remember in terms of moving from the land of slavery to the promised land, where the real world is the future, and God is this open creator, and we are trying to sense the oath, have faith in, participatory knowing of, involvement in the course of history, and sometimes we're distorted in that and we trespass, we fall off course, and we have to be redeemed, we have to be brought back on course, by prophets who speak God's attempt to get us back on track with making the future. This whole idea of co-creating with God the open future such that we can bring about a promised land for human beings. Now there is a person, a Jewish person, who is born into that tradition, and is responsible in ways that are very hard to determine historically for a radical transformation. And of course this is Jesus of Nazareth, and probably the most pretentious thing I'm going to do is trying to speak about Jesus of Nazareth. I mean literally, many millions of people believe he was God, not metaphorically, not symbolically, but literally, metaphysically. I am respectful of this fact, I don't agree with it at least in very standard interpretations. My endeavor is to not try and give some final complete version of this, that would be hubris and arrogance on my part. My endeavor is to try and explain what Jesus via Christianity did to that Israelite axial legacy. Because that is what is relevant to what we are discussing here and now. The battles, the intermarble, and I think ultimately, undecidable battles, even though many people claim to have reached the final conclusion about who Jesus was and what Jesus did are not something I'm going to try and resolve here. We're even going to see when we take a look at the Gnostics that there is right from the beginning, multiple competing interpretations and how that has had deep historical influence. So, if you remember, we used a Greek term from Paul Tillek because the New Testament, part of the Bible that talks about Jesus and the Advent of Christianity, was actually written in Greek. So, Tillek, the same Paul Tillek who wrote the courage to be, talked about Chiross, about that perspectival participatory knowing, knowing the fullness of time, knowing exactly the right time. So, some right that are going to, the right timing to shift the course of events, what Pascal, when we come to Pascal, we'll talk about as the spirit of finesse. The right, you know, you're not yet in a romantic relationship with Susan and you kiss her and is it the right time? If you get the timing right, if the Chiross is right, then the course of your relationship is altered, transformed, and your identity and her identity changed. Now, the Israelite conception was for the whole nation and God would intervene, ironically, at moments in history. Christianity is going to propose this radical idea that God's creative logos, the word he speaks through the prophets, it's the same word by which he speaks things into existence, the word that helps create history, the word that causes Chiross, makes Chiross possible for us. So, logos doesn't mean just spoken words, it means like the intelligibility, the formative principle, the underlying structure. Christianity, it's in the Gospel of John, on Archaean logos, in the beginning was the logos. A passage actually probably lifted from stoicism.

Logos Chiross & the Word of God (50:03)

But what is John appropriating it to say? He's saying that God's capacity for producing Chiross through logos has been identified, or to use an older term incarnated in a particular individual. That Jesus of Nazareth is actually the ultimate Chiross, that all the other Chirosses were pointing to him and are summed up in him, that he represents the ultimate turning point. And he represents it not only historically, he represents it personally. Because he is a person, you can identify with him and that Chiross can come to take place in you personally. Just like Socrates personalizes the axial revolution and brings it into a direct personal confrontation, the encounter with Jesus means that you too can experience a profoundly personal Chiross, which Jesus seems to have spoken about using a metaphor of being born again. About such a radical meta noia, a radical shifting. This is often translated as conversion, until you read about that. But this word is much closer to awakening. Noia means noticing. This is your perspectival awareness. That means beyond. This means a radical transformation in your salient landscape, a radical transformation of what it's like to be you. It's this deeply perspectival and participatory transformation. And Jesus is saying he incarnates the principle by which you can intervene in your own personal history, or by which maybe you want to say intervention can occur in your own personal history, such that this meta noia, you will have a new mind, a new heart, a new modal existence. You will be born again. What's going on there? What does this Chiross look like? What could possibly so radically transform my salient landscape, my sense of self, my processes of co-identification? What could bring that about? And now I'm going to say the word and then you're going to laugh because it sounds like a hallmark card. The Christian answer is love and now we all titter. That's so quick. Love. Sounds like, oh, love. Okay. The problem with that, as you've seen many times, is that this word is trivialized for us. We use one word to talk about so many different things. Like, I love peanut butter cookies. I love Canada. I love Sara. I love my son. I love a really good game of tennis. Are those the same? We're even confused about this. We think that love is an emotion. No, it's not. Love is a modal way of being. Love isn't a feeling and it is not an emotion. How do I know this? Because loving someone can be expressed by being sad when they're absent, being happy when they're present, being jealous when there's somebody else around, being angry when they're neglecting you. Love isn't a feeling. It isn't an emotion. It is a modal way of being. It is an agent-arena relationship.

Love, happiness and Christianity (tough love) (54:17)

And what Jesus seemed to be incarnating as a kairos to change the history of the world and to offer you to change your own personal history is a different kind of love. This is agape. We have to distinguish between three kinds of love, eros, philea and agape. See, eros is the love that seeks to be one with something. And that can be spiritual, like being one with nature, or it can be being one with a cookie by eating it. Of course, we come to think of eros erotically, right, being one with somebody by having sex with them. Remember, Socrates knew ta erotica, which wasn't just sex. Socrates knew what to care about. This is philea. So this is the love that is satisfied through consummation. Philea, this is the love that seeks cooperation. This is the love in which we experience reciprocity. We love the cookie because we can consume it. We love our friends because we are in reciprocity with them. What kind of love is this? And this is what Jesus claimed was how God loved individuals. This is the love that a parent has for a child. This is not the love of consummation. You're not trying to consume the child. That's evil. And it's not friendship. When you bring a child home from the hospital, I've done this twice, right? That's not your friend. It's not even a person. It's basically a slug. But here's the astonishing thing. You love it. Not because of any way you can consume it or be one with it. You don't love it because, hey, you're a great friendship. You love it. You love it because by loving it, you turn a non-person into a person. It's the closest thing to a miracle. And that sounds hackney, I know. But stop that and think about this.

Concept Of Love

Love (56:57)

You depend on a copy. It's because people loved you before you are a person that you have become the person you are. Love turns non-person animals into moral agent persons. It's like somehow if I could just care about my sofa enough, it would turn into a Ferrari or something. It's that powerful. And here's what Jesus was offering. That love can be made, it can be exacted and made available for all.

Love In The Context Of Roman Civilization

Taking the love show to the Romans (57:35)

Here's what is on offer. Here's why Christianity will take the Roman Empire culturally. With agape, Christianity can say to all of the non-persons of the Roman Empire. All the women, all the children, all the non-male citizens, all the sick, all the poor, all the widowed can take all of those non-persons and say, "We will turn you into persons." Persons that belong to the Kingdom of God. We'll take another look at this in more detail next time. Thank you very much for your time and attention.

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