symbol (n.) early 15c., “creed, summary, religious belief,” from Late Latin symbolum “creed, token, mark,” from Greek symbolon “token, watchword, sign by which one infers; ticket, a permit, licence” (the word was applied c. 250 by Cyprian of Carthage to the Apostles’ Creed, on the notion of the “mark” that distinguishes Christians from pagans), literally “that which is thrown or cast together,” from assimilated form of syn- “together” (see syn-) + bole “a throwing, a casting, the stroke of a missile, bolt, beam,” from bol-, nominative stem of ballein “to throw” (from PIE root *gwele- “to throw, reach”).The sense evolution in Greek is from “throwing things together” to “contrasting” to “comparing” to “token used in comparisons to determine if something is genuine.” Hence, “outward sign” of something. The meaning “something which stands for something else” first recorded 1590 (in “Faerie Queene”). As a written character, 1610s.
The power structure of the world is controlled by means of symbols, not by logic and not be reason. We have been told otherwise, and many proclaim to be strict adherents to scientism. But scientism, in the popular understanding of it, is also an expression of symbolic language. Smart looking people with granted authority, with charts and diagrams and clear explanations are only symbols that help the viewers convince themselves that what they see is true. If they see it on the TV, it is a symbol of truth. The power of media and governments have always relied on this symbolism. The new church today, the new religion tells us that anyone who is labeled with the symbol of “expert” knows the truth and can give them the answers they seek – to any question. The majority of people have become sheep, who feed constantly on media, on so-called doctors who the government nominates as experts, to politicians, to even Hollywood movie stars. As long as someone holds power, the public thinks they have science and they will pay dearly for it, with their money and with their soul. In this world, even the gods or God are used as symbols. Show people a symbol of something the deem good, they will think it is to their benefit, without further consideration. Show them something they deem evil, they will condemn it without further investigation. This is the case whether the person is left, right, democrat, republic, Christian, atheist, or Muslim, black or white.
All symbols in the public arena are designed to create identity, division, to setup the playing field, to organize and control, as the rulers see fit.
In the modern English language, the word symbolism, which is a symbol as well, seems to be the opposite to the “thing itself”. The thing itself is what it is. It is not a picture or representation of something else. What people believe is real is, however, just a symbol that is pretending to be the thing itself. What if I told you that almost all shallow, and unquestioned knowledge is the knowledge of symbols without the source? Knowing the symbols is like knowing the appearance of a few trees, but having no awareness of anything else about them: their roots, their connection to the essence of tree, their connection with the ecological system, their function for animals, planets, minerals, and human beings, their etheric bodies, the feeling they offer in their presence, the language they singularly speak, the minerals that are alive within their form, until they finally die and dissolve back into the earth. But, symbolic knowledge, no matter how conceptual or complex is always knowledge of the surface, and so it only generally perceives a very limited and static aspect of things, like a photograph does. Many people are filled with photographic symbolic knowledge, and their ability to express it is undeniably impressive. It is the emphasis of our society, to gather and to project as much symbolic knowledge as possible, in order to be successful and to be considered important. That is why symbolic knowledge is the basis of all arrogance, invalidated and illogical certainty and, of course, complete and disconnected insanity. It has, as most today would have to admit, led us to the current state of humanity in the year 2021.
Let’s look at a quick example of symbolic knowledge. The symbol “unity consciousness” represents connection between all beings, or connection of the whole in some way. It isn’t actually the thing itself, the experience of unity. It is a conceptual representation, such as a map is. That is all it is. That is why so many people have it programmed in their heads to have this unity consciousness, and fail to embody it with their spirit. In actually, most experience the exact opposite to unity consciousness in their realities, and so that strengthens the definition and sharpness of the definition in their heads, and simultaneously fuels their rage for experiencing quite the opposite in the world. Before they know it, they are not able to behave in a way that they themselves would approve of. They are hating this group and that group, struggling to find their place in the world, and enraged that others could be so devoted to division and contrast. All sorts of psychological problems are induced by this state of things, and that is why New Age religions (as well as many other religions) are designed to generate the complete opposite results that they profess to support. The reason is that symbolic knowledge, even as spiritual and religious knowledge does not automatically integrate with the spirit and connect with the physical body. Thus, the human being can easily act in all sorts of ways opposite to the “unity consciousness” that knows all too well from spiritual retreats and classes and churches.
The disconnect that symbolic knowledge causes, is easy to manipulate, because people, when they are susceptible to it, are already severed from their spirit-core and easily accept false or virtual realities that are symbolic of what they remember to be “real”. If people’s minds are absorbing and living of knowledge of symbols and their connection, then they can believe absolutely anything as long as the correct symbols are mixed together. Symbols are the things that represent something that they themselves are not. For example, the Swastika represents the NAZI party. The yin-yang symbol represents the inherent duality and unity of the universe. It represents contrast and the harmony of the contrast. Christian symbolism is all over the media. Hermetic symbolism has recently been introduced to the public as something evil and luciferian.
To fill people and children’s heads with facts and data is to fill them with symbols. Information is simply symbols pretending to be true science and true awareness. It is critical for the expansion of human consciousness to recognize this, otherwise it constantly falls into a virtual reality from which it has no idea how to escape.
Another property of symbols is that the objects they represent can change. The NAZI symbol was once a symbol of good fortune. Now it points to something that is murderous and hateful. In the natural world, a dog cannot be changed into a cat. But in the symbolic virtual world, the dog very much can be changed to a cat, though this usually doesn’t happen so quickly. Let’s take a very, very brief glance at the evolution of language and how it has afforded us both a rich mode of communication, and a means to true science, even though it has also provided the means to increasing manipulation and dissociation from spirit and soul.
Language is symbolic. Words are symbols. This is why many early languages were hieroglyphic in nature. They were used to represent what they point to. Yet, as consciousness demands finer distinctions, and more precise divisions, as the consciousness demands a broader range of expression, hieroglyphic language becomes increasingly limited. The invention of the alphabet allowed for a greater number of symbolic permutations. To play with this yourself, see Permutations Generator (Using Letters of a Word) (careerbless.com). No longer are we restricted to the pictures directly trying to imitate the thing they are symbolically representing, but we are now able to create words of our choice to represent what we are trying to express.
So, words are symbols that can represent objects, both physical and conceptual. Most ancient words were initially created to refer to physical representation. The conceptual, such as found in the philosophical writings of Aristotle, were evolved out of the physical language. For example, Aristotle often uses the word hule to describe what is usually translated as “matter”. Hule was originally a symbol for wood. It also symbolizes ship (that which is made of wood). It even symbolizes tree, forest, timber, etc.
Another word that is interesting is the word logos. This word is s symbol that most people recognize. It’s used to symbolize the logic/reason/commandment of God. It is the etymological root of words that contain -logy or -log, such as psychology, numerology, logical, logic, logistics, logarithmic, dialogue, monologue. The symbol is Greek and was originally an agrarian symbol that referred to the harvest and the gathering of crops. In Plato, the word is used to mean reason, speech, understanding, account, description. In some, the symbol, logos, shifted away from the gathering of crops to the gathering of thoughts through the faculty of the intelligence.
So, it is very important to remember that words are symbols, and that they are flexible. Symbols can be shifted to refer to new things and the shift usually happens through a relationship between its previous meaning to its new meaning. The NAZI symbol shift, as mentioned before, went from representing peace and good fortune, to evil and murder. At the time, the NAZIs adapted the swastika precisely because they wanted to portray themselves as peaceful and of good fortune. People felt lucky to be a NAZI, just like many feel lucky to take an experimental genetic modifier called by the symbol “vaccine” and the symbols “saving the world” and “doing my part to help humanity”. These are all symbols, but not grounded in any real experience or awareness. They do what they are told to do.
The reason this works so well is that most people are not scientists and do not understand science. Science simply means knowledge, and it derives from the Latin, scientia. Scientists are those who dedicate themselves to the process of acquiring knowledge. There is a branch of science that is critical for any scientist to study, and that is called philosophy, which will teach a seeker of knowledge not only the limits of knowledge, but the eternal problems of knowledge, the questions that cannot be resolved, and how one can still proceed regardless of them, yet keeping them in honor and humility. True scientists know that that science doesn’t “have the truth”. True scientists know that the truth is the eternal carrot dangling at the end of the stick. “So why bother?”, many would ask. “Why bother seek the truth if you know you can’t know the truth?” The answer to such a question is this: to witness the magic and divinity of the mysterious universe. Sheer wonder is the reason. How many people on this planet experience the wonder that is within them? The ones complying to illegal government mandates and controls are the ones who do not experience the magic, but only experience the worship of their symbolic masters, with their symbolic emblems and language.
I do want to emphasize that the symbols are not themselves bad. It is very important to understand this. As Socrates says in the Phaedo, the worst condition for human beings would be to despise the expression of the logos, of language:
“Well then Phaedo”, he said “it would be a pitiable [form of] suffering, if, after being able to mentally perceive a true and strong logos, and then, because of an encounter with the sort of logoi that at one moment seem true and on another moment seem false, one were unable to find fault with either himself or his lack of skill, and so would finally, due to his pain, gladly redirect the blame from himself onto logoi in general, and would spend the rest of his life zealously hating and abusing logoi, all the while depriving himself of the truth and knowledge of what they are.
“By Zeus”, I said, “pitiable indeed!” (Phaedo, 89d)
Science and our own reason, during our journey to seek truth, uses symbolism to express itself. Quantum physics is a good example of this, because it’s area of research is an unseen, invisible realm. Quantum physics studies things that they are not even certain exist. They only exist in virtue of their effects, and so they are deduced by the mysterious behavior in the world. Consider the Double-slit experiment – Wikipedia. There are different interpretations of what is going on this experiment alone, but suffice it to say that the jury is still out. The atom itself is represented by a symbol that you probably learned in high school. But it is just a symbol, and has nothing to do with the “real atom” to which it points. Plato would describe knowledge like this as being a like boat. We need the boat of knowledge in order to survive on this vast liquidity and every changing ocean. But still, nevertheless, we should never mistake the boat for the truth entire, or the spirit, or the connection to the world behind the symbols, the hidden realms, and the spirit of humanity and nature and the divine.
But science is not the enemy of spirituality. True science, not the science on the television or on the evening news or Dr. Faustus, essentially, works in the invisible realm first, and in the physical second. That is why its symbols refer mostly to conceptual objects of the mind, as well as objects that the mind doesn’t clearly even understand. Whether you read the works of Plato, or the works of Rudolph Steiner, you will see the same expression of this. Plato lived in age when the human spirit was not yet dissociated from human perception and experience. Steiner wrote at a time when the human spirit was already completely shut off from our experience and so our knowledge. That is why he had to coin the phrase “occult science”. It is the science that works in the invisible realm and yet attempts to bridge that invisible realm into the visible. Plato’s science, or episteme, in conjunction with the logos, is already attached to the definition of those symbols and so has no need to for a distinction. It is essential for the continuance of the human spirit, to regain its connection to the invisible realm, the realm of Teslian energetic source, the source of creative energy, both for the arts and the science. For, without these, we might be able to generate more artifacts, symbols, and representations and copies of artifacts, but we will have forgotten how to dig deep within ourselves, as individuals, and discover an infinite universe of wonder, discovery, and creativity.
It is very important that, in going forward, we review how we are educating ourselves and our children in this world. It is critical that children learn to access their own resources and power of intuition, their natural wonder and their ability to distinguish truth from lie in a way that we are ourselves, apparently, have forgotten.
The human being can deceive himself. He can yield to the belief that there is no hidden world, that what appears to his senses and his intellect contains everything that can possibly exist. But this deception is only possible, not for the deeper, but for the surface consciousness. Feeling and desire do not submit to this deceptive belief. In one way or another, they will always crave for a concealed something, and if this is withdrawn from them, they force the human being into doubt, into a feeling of insecurity of life, indeed, into despair. A cognition that reveals the hidden is capable of overcoming all hopelessness, all insecurity, all despair, in fact all that weakens life and makes it incapable of the service required of him in the cosmos. This is the beautiful fruit of the knowledge of spiritual science that it gives strength and firmness to life, and not alone gratification to the passion for knowledge. The source from which this knowledge draws its power to work and its trust in life is inexhaustible. No one who has once really approached this source will, by repeatedly taking refuge in it, go away unstrengthened. There are people who wish to hear nothing about this knowledge because they see something unhealthy in what has just been said. Such people are quite right in regard to the superficial and external side of life. They do not wish to see stunted what life offers in its so-called reality. They consider it weakness when a person turns away from reality and seeks his salvation in a hidden world that to them appears as a fantastic, imaginary one. If, in our spiritual scientific striving, we are not to fall into an unhealthy dreaminess and weakness, we must acknowledge the partial justification of such objections. For they rest upon a healthy judgment that leads, not to a whole, but only to a half-truth through the very fact that it does not penetrate into the depth of things, but remains on the surface. Were the striving for supersensible knowledge likely to weaken life and to estrange men from true reality, then such objections would certainly be strong enough to remove the foundation from under this spiritual trend.
– Rudolph Steiner, An Outline of Occult Science
2 thoughts on “The Power and Spiritual Deprivation of Symbolic Knowledge”
This is a comprehensive post – bursting with utility. i wish this had more eyeballs on it. Most people furnish their reality with what they see on TV and what surrounds them in social media – parroted by the people in their lives that digest the same “info” which tends to make the “info” seem like a consensus – of experts. These (mainstream) symbols are swallowed wholesale and labelled as “truth” which reminds me of what Carl Jung said about religions being dead but religious thinking remaining strong and very much alive in modern society. Most people feel like they aren’t a part of some spiritual denomination yet take on the mainstream consensus like a cult-member, adopting the precepts and fearful of denouncing anything so they don’t become what amounts to a secular heretic.
Most people have lost or never found the capacity to untangle the truth from the lies. Often they don’t even try, more often they don’t even realize that they should. As if propaganda happened everywhere all over the Televised world except for the very screens they gaze into.
There is a reality outside all the fear. More people need to turn from the dancing shadows projected onto the cave wall and see that there is a blue sky waiting to embrace them, past the mouth of the cave.
Thank you very much for this post. I hope more people see it.
Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I love it I hear feedback but rarely do.
The world is filled with symbol, but only symbol. It is the soul that makes it real :). When we lose connection with that, we truly have lost everything