Wednesday, 18 October 2017

New Gnostic Politics (Wilberg on Wednesday)

Preface: New Gnostic Politics as Relational Revolution


The term ‘gnosis’ refers to that inner knowing, free of symbols, from which all historic religions and their symbols have sprung. The following paper presents an outline of the revolutionary ‘political’ dimensions of gnosis. Its central thesis is that revolutionary political change cannot, paradoxically, be achieved through political action alone. Instead the true source of lasting political change lies in Relational Revolution – a revolution in the realm of immediate relations between one human being and another that Martin Buber called ‘the interhuman’. Religion has always placed a greater emphasis on relational or ‘ethical’ practices than political ones – and for good reason, but it has also ignored or denigrated the role of the body in human relations. The medium of Relational Revolution is a new ‘yoga’ of revolution - relational practices that can give each human being a bodily awareness of their whole self or soul, show them also how to embody this awareness in everyday relations with other human beings, and offer them a tangible sensuous experience of deep inner soul-connectedness with others. It is through such ‘bodily relational practices’ that individuals can change their world, the world of others, and the social world as we know it. How? By overthrowing the foundations of capitalist social relations in their own souls. To do so means ceasing to experience their own personal identity as private property, recognising instead that their true spiritual individuality – their whole self or soul - is itself an inner society of selves. None of these selves is the private property of the ego. Rather each of them is a bridge of identity linking them with others in soul families, groups and communities. All religious revolutions have aimed not just at a renewal of each human being’s relationship to the divine but at a revolutionary transformation of their relationship to one another. The Relational Revolution is the vehicle of a new Religious Revolution in the form of a revolutionary spiritual socialism – a ‘socialism with soul’. It recognises the already existing reality of ‘communism’ - not in the social world but in those soul groups and communities that make up the soul world. Its aim is the formation of groups and communities with ‘gnosis’ – social groups and communities that know themselves as the embodiment of soul groups and communities, and in this bring the ‘heavenly’ kingdom of soul ‘down to earth’.



1. Theses of the Relational Revolution

"The individual is a fact of existence in so far as he steps into a living relation with other individuals. The aggregate is a fact of existence in so far as it is built up of living units of relation."

Martin Buber

When we think of ‘revolution’ most people think of mass demonstrations or armed revolts involving large groups or masses of people. For without collective action, how can the world – society - possibly be changed? But if the aim of social revolution is, as Marx understood it, a change in social, political and economic relations then the real question is not how ‘society’ in the abstract can be changed but how those relations can be changed? A true revolution is a revolution in human relations.

What follows from this is the basic thesis of the Relational Revolution: namely that that the true locus of revolutionary practice is therefore neither the individual alone nor society as a whole but a third realm. This is the realm of immediate one-to-one relations between individuals in society that form its basic dyadic "units of relation". A realm that Martin Buber called ‘the between’ or ‘the interhuman’ (das Zwischenmenschliche).

The starting point for a worldwide revolutionary transformation of human relations can only lie in those one-to-one "units of relation" that shape the reality of both individuals and social groups.

Human relations on a group, institutional, social or international scale can only be changed by changing the way in which individuals relate to one another within those dyadic, one-to-one units of relation.

No social or political changes, however dramatic, can bring about any fundamental revolution in human relations unless those social and political changes are themselves the expression of a revolutionary transformation of human relations in those units.

No purely individual or collective, spiritual or political practices can bring about that Relational Revolution. The only practices capable of bringing it about must, by definition, be relational practices of a new and revolutionary character.



2. The Message of The Relational Revolution


"The sicknesses of the soul are sicknesses of relation."

Martin Buber

We live in a sick world and a world of sicknesses – social and political, economic and ecological – sicknesses which threaten the very survival of humanity. All these sicknesses are essentially "sicknesses of relation" - but how many of them are understood as such?

When will Martin’s Buber’s central message get through? That sickness and health, therapy and healing, are not about how people ‘are’ – their ‘well-being’ but how they relate to other beings. That human being is itself the activity through which we body a particular inner bearing or relation to other beings, and in doing so also ‘bear back’ or ‘relate’ a message to them. We live in a world of ‘relationships’ – social and economic, political and legal, personal and professional, family and communal, matrimonial and sexual, formal and informal, close or distant - but in how many of these relationships is relating understood as something we do, as a practice.

Relationships are seen as some ‘thing’. As for one’s actual way of relating, that is reduced to a vagary of ‘personality’ or a type of ‘behaviour’. Thus there is the practice of medicine - requiring of course a physician-patient ‘relationship’ - and the individual physician’s actual way of relating, or not relating, to their patients. There is the practice of psychotherapy - in which great importance is attached to the subtleties of the ‘therapeutic relationship’ - and the individual therapist’s way of actually and actively relating to a client as a unique human being. Similarly there are ‘customer relationships’, highly ‘valued’ of course - and there is the actual way in which a specific customer is related to as a human being not merely as ‘a customer’.

People have their own individual religious, political and ethical principles, their own dilemmas and problems, hopes and ambitions, and above all their own individual potentials and values that seek fulfilment.

AND they have relationships, more or less fulfilling.

People engage in all sort of relational activities with others, and for all sorts of purposes - educational, political, recreational, therapeutic, and spiritual.

AND those practices involve relationships with others.

People have practical relationships with others.

AND they have specific relational practices – specific ways of relating to others within those relationships that create a greater or lesser degree of relational fulfilment.

The aim of The Relational Revolution is to bring an end to this ‘AND’ - to show that individuals can only achieve deep spiritual fulfilment and a deepened spiritual relationship to God through a revolutionary transformation of the ordinary, everyday practices through which they relate to others.



3. Identity as Private Property

Those who simply rail against the political conservatives or the ravages wrought by global capitalism fail to even consider why it is that human beings should fear change. Is it only that the ruling corporate oligarchies fear loss of wealth and power? Or does the very attachment to wealth and power conceal a far more primordial fear that permeates all classes and strata of capitalist society?

What this fear fears above all is not essentially loss of wealth or power, but loss of identity. So long as identity itself is treated as the private property of the individual or group, both will fear anything that threatens to alter or transform that identity. Individuals and groups resist change because they cling on in fear to the identifications that constitute their sense of identity – whether identifications with wealth or power, economic class or professional status, gender or sexuality, ideology or religion, ethnicity or race. All genuine relating between different individuals, groups and cultures is feared precisely because it cannot but alter and transform both individual and group identity.

When asked what it was that led him to his profound philosophy of dialogue and authentic relating, Martin Buber spoke both of his own innate inclination or will to relate, and of fundamental ethical bearing he adopted towards others in all his human relations.

"It was just a certain inclination to meet people. And as far as possible, just to change if possible something in the other, but also to let me be changed by him. At any event, I had not resistance…put no resistance to it. I began as a young man. I felt I had not the right to want to change another if I am not open to being changed by him…I cannot be, so to say, above him and say, ‘No, I’m out of the picture. You are mad."




Buber emphasises that he was open to being changed not just by specific individuals but by large-scale international political events - such as the first world war - involving masses of individuals. He also describes how he felt this openness as a bodily openness, involving a type of bodily imagination of the reality experienced by others. He called this bodily imagination "imagining the real". That people today can remain inwardly unmoved and unchanged by broadcast images of war victims, poverty and starvation, does not imply a lack of basic human empathy or its suppression by media overkill. This being unmoved and remaining unchanged in the face of media images shows precisely a lacking bodily capacity to "imagine the real" in Buber’s sense.

This lacking bodily imagination is a form of psychopathology – a sickness of the soul. But the essence of this sickness is that it is a sickness of relation – an inability to feel or ‘imagine’ the inner reality of the other in a bodily way. If a corporate executive is so mentally detached from their own body how can they begin to feel in a bodily way the pain of exploited ‘third world’ employees unable to feed or provide healthcare for their children, let alone the pain of an entire tribe or community decimated by ecological or economic ruination, or all but wiped out by ethnic cleansing and genocide? Certainly it would be quite inconceivable for such an individual to even conceive of feeling the pain of an animal reared for profit in an industrial concentration camp, let alone that of an ancient tree felled for profit.

Changing the world is impossible unless we ourselves possess the relational will and capacity to feel not only the pain of others – not only the evident pain of exploited masses but the pain hidden in the very pathology of those who exploit them, the pain hidden in their numb incapacity to feel the pain of others in a bodily way. Without this will and capacity not only to change but to be changed by another, to come off the high horse that says ‘No, I’m out of the play. You are mad – or bad, or evil’ - and instead be moved by that ‘madness’ and ‘badness’ it is meaningless to speak of revolutionary change. A true change is relational and reciprocal. It is not reducible to political revolution in the ordinary sense – simply reversing the poles of a reciprocal power relation.

Politicising human relations is one of many defences against a Relational Revolution. So too is psychologising human relations, for as Buber pointed out, psychologising is "the attempt at a complete detachment of the soul from its basic character as relationship."

"‘Soul’ is the realm of relation between self and world and other human beings. ‘Spirit’ the realm of relation between the human being and ‘the Being that does not manifest in the world’."

Martin Buber

Spiritualising the self is yet another defence against the Relational Revolution, reducing both ‘spirit’ to a thing rather than to a reciprocally transformative relation. Neither old-fashioned political protest and activism, nor individual psychotherapy or New Age spirituality, have so far succeeded in bringing about revolutionary change.

For the very essence of revolutionary change is a revolutionary transformation of human relations that can only come about by changing the way in which we ourselves relate to the real human being before us – whether friend or foe, comrade or conservative, co-worker or corporate manager. For whilst it is the ruthless exerted power of the global corporations that are ruining our world, their power rests on the delusion that they themselves are but efficiently organised aggregates of individuals. In fact – and as any corporate manager will freely admit when he or she is not mouthing company speak – the corporation is built from units of relation – dyadic units. The same is true of all social organisations and institutions, economic or party political, religious or ideological, conservative or revolutionary.

The real front line of ‘revolutionary struggle’ is not the ideological ‘stand’, ‘position’ or political practices they seek to promote. It is the actual position and practices they adopt in relating to each and all of the individuals with whom they stand in relation. Whether and in what manner each of us is capable of fully sensing and receiving, facing and if need be confronting others in living encounters is what counts – not political programmes, protests, or policies - which are invariably directed at everyone and no-one, and will therefore always fail to touch the majority as individuals.

‘Great Dictators’ at all levels of society from the state to the local party committee or council, have always appealed directly to the group, party or general public because on a one-to-one level they are relational cripples - never having been able, through their own relational practices, to initiate, maintain and sustain even a single reciprocally satisfying and fulfilling relationship. In today’s world, people seek alleviation from contact starvation and lack of relational fulfilment through self-elevation to the status of political ‘leaders’, ‘idols’ or ‘stars’. In today’s world, pop-idolhood and celebrity, whether political or cultural, have become a drunken celebration of a generalised relational immaturity and incapacity - promoted for commercial profit by the corporate media barons and brand-designers of the day.


4. Practical Relations and Relational Practices

What exactly does it mean then, to ‘change the world’? Or more specifically, what is it that constitutes our or any ‘world’? The question is important because for all its seemingly irreconcilable differences, conflicts and divisions of wealth and power – our world is essentially a consensual reality reinforced by the virtual reality of the corporate media. It is not a reality fundamentally shaped by the media but by the practical relations human beings establish with one another and by the ritualised practices through which they enact these relations. Thus ‘being a Christian’ or ‘being a Muslim’ means commitment to an established set of religious practices and practical relations with others (e.g. attending Church on a Sunday or the mosque on a Friday). Conversely however, the whole religious significance of these practices lies in their defining what it means to ‘be a Christian’ or ‘be a Muslim’. Religious ‘meaning’ or ‘significance’ is thus established in a circular way.

Just as ‘being a Christian’ is reduced to Church-going, so is ‘being a parent’ reduced to producing children. Being someone’s lover is reduced to having sex with them. ‘Being a revolutionary’ is reduced to engaging in political activism. In all cases a sphere of intimate inner relation, whether to God or to other human beings, is reduced to an external, practical relation. This is also true of our relation with the ‘things’ that make up our everyday world. We think that ‘the world’, at its most basic consists of a collection of existing things, natural or man-made, that lie around for us to ‘perceive’ as objects. In fact we only perceive that thing we call ‘a kettle’ in the way we do – as ‘a kettle’ - because of our practical relation to it. What makes the kettle a kettle is the practical relation we have to it – the practical use we make of it, and the practical place it has in a set of routinised or ritualised practices such as ‘making a cup of tea’.

Ritualised or routinised practices shape not only the practical relations between human beings and the world of things, but between one human being and another. Thus the practical relation between physician and patient is shaped by the routinised practice of asking a few questions, examining the patient’s body, taking measurements or doing tests etc. The entire significance of the patient’s symptoms is reduced to what can be determined by a ritualised set of diagnostic practices. The practical relation of physician and patient too, is shaped by these professional practices and has nothing essentially to do with their relation as human beings. A recently bereaved patient, still heartbroken, feels the pain of her loss in the region of her heart and reports chest pains at night, when she feels most alone. For the physician, the heartfelt pain of the human being is of no significance. His practical professional relation to the human being is only as ‘patient’ with symptoms demanding diagnosis through routinised practices.

The relation of physician and patient could be enacted differently – not simply as a practical relation but as a relational practice – a practice of being with and relating to the patient as a human being - rather than relating to the human being only as a ‘patient’. Indeed in the past the very idea of disease as a thing-in-itself or disease entity was rejected by physicians and what we now take for granted as diagnostic practices were professionally frowned upon.

Listening – something that physicians rarely have time to do – is a prime example of a relational practice rather than a practical relation. If medicine were understood as a relational practice, the physician would indeed take time to listen to the patient. If it were understood as a bodily relational practice, the physician would not simply rest content with observing or examining the body of the patient from the outside – they would listen not just with their medical mind but with their whole body - using it to sense the patient’s own inwardly felt body and inwardly felt dis-ease. The world of medicine and the physician-patient relation is but one example of the way in which what we call ‘the world’ is shaped by practical relations which leave no room for relational practices.

Just as the physician-patient relationship is approached only with the practical purpose of producing a diagnosis and recommending a treatment plan, so can the teacher-student relationship be dominated entirely by the project of setting and completing assignments and passing exams. Study itself ceases to be experienced as an activity by which the student deepens their inner relationship to a subject matter, but is reduced instead to the purely practical project of exam preparation or the production of passable essays.

We live in a world of practices – scientific and technical practices, professional and vocational practices, commercial and economic practices, medical and therapeutic practices, spiritual and meditational practices, political and religious practices. All these practices are also relationalpractices, yet how many understand themselves as such? For whilst lip service is paid to ‘human relations’ in these practices, their nature as relational practices – and the nature of such practices – is rarely considered. How and in what manner one actually and actively relates to other human beings is instead reduced to the application of a set of professional skills, respect for a professional code of conduct, or the organisation of practical activities.

By relational practices I mean modes of relating to other human beings in general - not just in the context of specific ‘relationships’ or practices. Relational practices are so much a part of other relationships and practices that we barely consider them worthy of examination aspractices. They are either reduced to individual ‘behaviours’ or taught as practical communication ‘skills’. But the practice of such ‘skills’ is seen merely as an add-on to all the other practices they are applied to – as a means to an end and not an end in itself. Practical skills – even those supposedly to do with interpersonal relationships – replace relational practices as such.

Anyone can transform their ordinary practical relations with others into aware and bodily relational practices. In this way they ‘change the world’ in a revolutionary manner, subverting a consensual reality or world in which practical relations have hitherto squeezed the life out of human relations, and breathing fresh life into those relations through their relational practices.


5. Back to Marxist Basics

For Marx, the ‘natural’ relations of one human being to another (for example of man to woman, or parent to child) are nothing purely biological. Instead they are shaped by a specifically human relationship to nature – a relationship which takes the form of creative human labour or ‘industry’. Labour itself is not essentially ‘physical’ or ‘mental’ activity but sensuous activity – the necessary activity of labour that brings the senses to life both physically and in consciousness. According to Marx, therefore, human psychology is not the study of invisible processes in the human brain, the human genome or human soul. Instead human industry itself is the "open book of man’s essential powers", "the exposure of human psychology to the senses." In property-less tribal communities, the world of nature is "owned" by the human senses and through human sensuous activity – by seeing and hearing, touching and shaping things - without any need for private property in the modern sense. Marx saw it as a modern myth that we "own" something – that it becomes "ours" only by possessing it as private property for our own personal use and consumption. The history of human society shows that when the relationship of human beings to nature becomes one of ownership in this sense, so do relationships to other human beings – wives as well as slaves, for example, becoming the private property of their husbands.

The artisans and craftsmen of the past owned their own labour as a creative human power. They also owned the products of that labour, which they exchanged for the things they needed or sold for money to buy them. The feudal serf owned no property in the form of land. He forfeited a part of his labour and its products to his landlord. Marx recognized that the modern worker or employee owns neither their own labour power nor its products. They do not sell the products of their work to their employer but sell their labour power itself. In doing so they also forfeit ownership both of their own labour and of its products. This ‘alienation’ or ‘estrangement’ of labour, as Marx called it, "makes man’s life activity, his essential being, a mere means to his existence." "Life itself appears only as a means to life".

"What then constitutes the alienation of labour? First, the fact that labour is external to the worker, i.e., it does not belong to his essential being; that in his work therefore, he does not affirm himself but denies himself, does not feel content but unhappy, does not develop freely his physical and mental energy but mortifies his body and ruins his mind. The worker therefore only feels himself outside his work, and in his work feels outside himself. He is at home when he is not working and when he is working he is not at home. His labour is therefore not voluntary but coerced; it is forced labour. It is therefore not the satisfaction of a need; it is merely a means to satisfy needs external to it. Its alien character emerges clearly in the fact that as soon as no physical or other compulsion exists, labour is shunned like the plague. External labour, labour in which man alienates himself, is a labour of self-sacrifice, of mortification."

"The worker becomes an ever cheaper commodity the more commodities he creates. The increasing value of the world of things proceeds in direct proportion to the devaluation of the world of people. Labour not only produces commodities: it produces itself and the worker as a commodity – and does so in the proportion in which it produces commodities."

The grossest forms of this cheapening and commodification of labour, reserved for the less ‘developed’ world, are expressions of the more universal alienation of labour as analysed by Marx. This alienation is in turn a fundamental alienation of the human being from his own body. By selling his body’s labour power, manual or mental, to the owners of capital, the employee effectively prostitutes his own body - which becomes a mere object of use to be taken to work each day like a piece of serviceable equipment. Its function is solely to serve as a means of production – yet one whose creative products are no sooner delivered than torn from the worker (whether labourer or executive) like babies from the womb, passed over into the ownership of corporate shareholders. The double alienation of the employee - from his labour power and its products - is a double alienation from his own body. Human labour, instead of serving to body forth the individual’s creative potentials of being, becomes a mere means of ‘employment’ – a selective exploitation of these potentials for profit which leaves the vast bank of creative human potentials latent within each employee largely unfulfilled and disembodied – whether the individual be formally employed or unemployed. Purely quantitative ‘employment figures’, however positive, disguise not only the cynical exploitation of low-wage labour in the ‘affluent’ West, or the export of this exploitation to less developed countries. They also a disguise a vast and hidden qualitative unemployment – the unemployment of human creative potentials.

As Marx pointed out, one consequence of the capitalist alienation of labour is that it is in their most human function - that of productive social activity - that human beings feel most ‘animal’ in their mutual relations: driven by what seems to be the most competitive, predatory and territorial of instincts and behaviours. ‘Status’ – and with it ‘self-worth’ or ‘self-esteem’ - are not seen as a human being’s natural biological heritage but as something to be inherited, earned or bought. No animal questions its self-worth. Ideas of ‘animalistic’ instincts and behaviour are largely projections onto the animal world of these human competitive behaviours - one that allows the latter to be seen as biologically determined and a necessary part of ‘evolution’. Examined more closely, nature and animal life can be seen as an ecological miracle of cooperative behaviour.

Just as people become caricatures of predatory ‘animals’ in the exercise of their most human capacities, so they feel most human only in their most basic of animal functions…eating, drinking, sex etc. What the employee sacrifices as a producer - his own sensuous and bodily creative potentials – he is driven to buy back and reclaim as a consumer. Alcohol, drug-use or the consumption or mere possession of commodities become the only way for the human being to feel their bodies or to feel themselves to 'be somebody’. Those parts of their being devalued in the workplace are sold back to the employee piecemeal as ‘values’ artificially added to consumer commodities. A bodily sense of well-being is offered back as a brand of bio-yoghurt. ‘Real feeling’ is identified with ‘real chocolate’. Untrammeled autonomy is identified with the automobile, and the enjoyment of spontaneity with the consumption of alcoholic spirits. Another consequence of the alienation of labour is the alienation of human relations as such: "one man is estranged from another, as each of them is from man’s essential nature."

To make up for the alienation that is built in to their working relations (however superficially friendly and amicable) people seek to recover their humanness in their personal relations. But the alienation of working relations has alienating effects on people’s personal relations too (a) turning them into a mere means by which people seek to assuage a huge deficit of needs unmet in their working relations. It is the inability of people to truly body their own being or ‘spirit’ in their working lives that leads them to polymorphous perversions in their personal lives through which they seek to refind their own felt body – either by indulging their own bodies or by possessing, abusing or causing pain to the bodies of others. The scale of domestic violence and abuse is testament not to the innate ‘evil’ or ‘baseness’ of ‘unconscious’ bodily instincts but to this spiritual desperation. Capitalism knows nothing of the felt body. The only body it knows is the economically functional or dysfunctional body, the usable and abusable body, the profitable or prostituted body, the clinical or cosmeticised body, the pharmaceutically or genetically manipulable body, the saleable or disposable body.

Going back to Marxist basics means going back to the real ‘ABC’ of Marxist theory – Alienation, Bodyhood and Capitalism. Capitalism alienates human beings from one another and from their own bodies, preventing them from fully bodying their being in their mutual relations. That is why the ABC of revolution is the overcoming of the individual’s alienation from their own felt body in their everyday relations with other human beings and their bodies. Under capitalism a dissociative, instrumentalising, narcissistic, masochistic or pathologising relation to one’s own body replaces an embodied relation to others. What I call ‘bodily relational practices’ are fully embodied modes of relating to other human beings. All of them hinge on a ceasing to think the body as a mere object or ‘thing’ and instead feeling our own bodyhood as realm of spiritual activity – the activity of bodying our innermost being or soul.


6. Relational Revolution in Practice

A secretary is unable either to verbally express or emotionally repress feelings of anger and rage aroused by a bullying boss. Instead she develops an ‘angry’ red skin rash, one which she finds embarrassing and shameful. For the physician she goes to see, such symptoms are merely the expression of some somatic disorder – an ‘It’ which needs only to be diagnosed, treated and cured. He takes no interest in their symbolic significance, in the patient’s bodily self or in the her world - the relational context in which her symptoms first emerged. Despite his diagnostic expertise does not ask the most basic of diagnostic questions – what had been going on in her life and relationships in the period before the symptoms first emerged? A psychotherapist who did venture such questions of this sort would probably regard our secretary’s symptoms only as a form of ‘somatisation’ - a substitution of somatic symbols (the ‘angry’ rash) for a verbal expression of ‘anger’. For the ruling dogma is that emotions can either be consciously expressed or repressed and relegated to the ‘unconscious’. There is no suggestion of a third alternative – that instead of either expressing or mentally repressing emotions one can simply give oneself permission to fully feel them in a bodily way. Emotions are seen as private property of the self, some ‘thing’ to mentally recognise and cognise. They are not understood as the surface of inner cognitions – a bodily and feeling cognition of the world and other people.

The secretary finds herself in the bind of being unable to express her feelings verbally, fearing (and with good reason) that that would be ‘rash’, risking her job or arousing an even more powerful rage from her boss to which she would be emotionally vulnerable. Yet as her unexpressed feelings build up within her she becomes ever more afraid of reacting to her boss with a rash and emotive verbal outburst. Unable to do so, her feelings surface instead on her actual body surface – as an angry rash or skin ‘irritation’. Lacking a way to face her boss, let alone ‘whack him one’, the rash may appear on her face, her arms or both. Itching to do so nevertheless, she may be plagued by itching and scratch her skin until it blisters and bleeds – an activity that provides some substitute satisfaction in releasing her ‘bad blood’. What however would happen if, instead of either expressing her feelings or repressing the urge to do so, she allowed herself to ‘body’ them - to simply and fully feel those feelings in a bodily way? Were she to do so, those feelings would begin to change her and not just her body - transforming her bodily sense of self. Instead of just coming to the surface through a rash outburst or outward rash, she could feel those fully felt feelings of anger filling her felt body and in this way giving her a sense of substantiality and strength rather than fragile vulnerability. What before was merely an emotion felt or made manifest in a particular part or parts of her body would be transformed into a new and stronger sense of her body and self as a whole. From this whole-body sense of inner strength she would then be in a position to see her boss’s bullying behaviour as an expression of his inner weakness, his inability to feel that weakness and his consequent need to make other people – perhaps women in particular - feel weak instead. She would cease not only to see but to feel his bullying behaviour as an expression of masculine strength or managerial power over her. She would not only ‘see through it’ but know it as the behavioural enactment of his own disembodied sense of impotent weakness.

By bodying what she had first felt only as her ‘own’ private, personal feelings she would then transformed those feelings into a bodily feeling cognition of another. Such inner bodily knowing of another communicates instantaneously – requiring no words or actions. Knowing that it does so is the basis of embodied relating. In this case for example the secretary could now body not her anger but the inner strength and inner knowing it has given her - letting herself silently emanate this feeling of inner strength and knowing through a subtle change in her bodily demeanour and comportment or resound in her tone of voice. Knowing her boss’s inner weakness and bodying her own inner strength would in this way bring about a real political revolution in this single dyadic relationship. For knowing that he was ‘known’ by his secretary in this way and feeling the strength she now bodied would make it impossible to any longer exercise any power over her, or even to feel his own bullying as an expression of power. The revolution would be accomplished not because a power struggle had been acted out, nor because a reversal of roles or power relationships had taken place (the secretary becoming boss or bully) but purely through bodily relational practices - practices of bodying and of embodied relating. This is but one of countless possible ‘examples’ of the way in which a Relational Revolution can be accomplished in the context of dyadic or one-to-one relationships – such relationships being the basic dyadic units of relation from which all groups and organisations are built. Bodying our felt state of being – letting it fully permeate our inwardly felt body – is the basis of all ‘bodily relational practices’. It is what allows us to transform a deepened relation to our own body into a more embodied way of relating to others. Chronic sickness is just the reverse – for here a relation to one’s own body states replaces an embodied relation to others.



7. Communication as a Bodily Relational Practice

Of course most ordinary human activities and relations, personal and professional, are bodily relations. People face and interact with others in the flesh not as disembodied minds but as some-body. But to what degree do they sense, take in and respond to each other with and from their whole being and whole body? Communication in the form of speaking and listening are both bodily practices through which people relate. But as practical relations their purposes invariably narrow our awareness to their own focus on some specific ‘thing’ – a project, plan or purpose. In this way they also limit human relations to what Martin Buber called an ‘I-It’ relation – a mutual relation to that thing, whatever ‘It’ is. Even a dialogue about deeply ‘personal’ or even ‘spiritual’ matters is easily reduced to a purely practical relation - one in which the focus of awareness is not actually on our relation to the other as a human being or ‘You’ but on some matter or ‘thing’, whether personal or impersonal, technical or spiritual that is being talked about.

"In our age the I-It relation, gigantically swollen, has usurped, practically uncontested, the mastery and the rule. The I of this relation, an I that possesses all, makes all, succeeds with all, that is unable to say Thou, unable to meet a being essentially, is lord of the hour."

Martin Buber

Next time you have the opportunity to observe a conversation between two or more people, notice how much time they give themselves to take in, digest and metabolise the other person’s words, to sense and absorb their undertones and resonances, to silently take in what the other person has said — and to take them in — before responding with their own words. Notice too, what it is that they each take in and respond to. Do they respond only to whatever ‘thing’ it is that is being talked about — or do they respond to the human being addressing them? Do they take each other’s words "at face value" or do they also respond to the face that the other person is showing them through these words? In a word: do they simply exchange words and opinions or do they engage in a genuine dia-logue; listening and responding not only to what is expressed in words but also to what is communicated dia-logos, ‘through the word’? Last but not least, do they attend to the body and being of the other as a whole – listening with and from their whole being and their whole body? Or do they merely relate as talking heads, regarding the body of the other as an object or ‘It’ and relegating their own bodies to the status of another ‘It’ - a sealed container of their own private thoughts and feelings?

All scientific evidence pointing to the overwhelming unconscious significance of ‘body language’ and so-called ‘non-verbal’ forms of communication notwithstanding, the way people actually engage in conversation as a relational activity shows just how little conscious attention they give to its bodily dimensions – to their own bodily awareness of others and their own bodily responses to others. If they attend to the body of the other at all it is only as some sort of animate object. They may notice each other’s ‘body signals’ or ‘body language’ but the primary focus of attention is on the spoken word and what it relays. And yet however emotionally or gesturally animated this conversation may be, they themselves listen and respond to one another primarily as ‘talking heads’. Their attention is certainly not on the body of the other as a whole. Nor do they listen to each other with and from their own body as a whole. The more people feel their own heads and bodies as sealed-off private containers of their own personal thoughts and feelings the more they feel bound to rely on words and gestures to express those thoughts and feelings. Indeed, the more outwardly animated people’s bodies get in a conversation, the more they may be betraying how inwardly closed off from others they actually feel inside their bodies – and/or how incapable those others are of sensing the felt insides of their bodies without prompting through outwardly animated gestures or ‘body language’.

The mere fact that speech and body language, ‘verbal’ and ‘non-verbal’ communication are counterposed to one another is testament to a most fundamental misunderstanding of the body’s role in communication between human beings. We do not just ‘have’ a body. We body. And this activity of bodying is itself a relational activity, the embodiment of our inner bearing or comportment towards the world and other people. The body itself is no ‘thing’ but a relational activity akin to speech. We are constantly uttering our bodies in a way that our speech itself only echoes. The human body does not merely ‘have’ a language. It is a language. Without any movement or gesture it speaks. As for speech itself, far from being merely a bodily instrument of ‘verbal communication’ it is itself a form of non-verbal communication.

It was Rudolf Steiner who pointed out that just as bodily gestures are a form of visible speech so is speech itself a form of invisible gesture - an embodied gesturing of the soul. ‘Gesture’ is not merely something that may or may not accompany a person’s speech – an optional add-on. An individual’s whole manner of speaking - of vocal and verbal articulation – is a form of gestural activity. Their very words have a felt bodily sense which derives from this subtle gestural articulation, and lends them their suggestive character. Movement, like speech, is always an articulation of our body as a whole. The suggestive character of the word lies in the fact that each word in an utterance is the oral articulation of a specific ‘sub-gesture’ of our body as a whole. Speech is not the indirect representation of a meaning ‘in’ words, but the direct suggestion of a meaning through the word. Felt bodily sense or meaning, communicated and sensed ‘through the word’ (dia-logos) is the essential meaning of what we call dialogue.



8. The Fundamental Sickness of Relation

"The sicknesses of the soul are sicknesses of relation." That is to say, the sicknesses of the soul – and the consequent sicknesses of our world as a whole - do not have their cause ‘in’ the individual soul or in society but in a third realm – the relations between individuals within society. Here the fundamental "sickness of relation" that causes sickness of soul and of our world as a whole lies in the dominance of totally disembodied modes of relating between individuals. The prevalence of disembodied modes of relating is shown by the way in which people engage in the most elementary relational activities – above all communication in the form of conversing, speaking, and listening. A relational activity based on a practical relation to some ‘thing’ is one thing. An aware relational practice is another. An aware and bodily relational practice is something else again. Relational activities become aware relational practices only to the extent that they are experienced withbodily awareness and as bodily practices.

In everyday conversational activity however, people listen to one another as if meaning were something purely mental that is represented ‘in’ words. Speaking is perceived as ‘speaking our minds’ - the expression of a purely mental activity going on in our heads and brains. This way of understanding human communication reflects an understanding of the human mind itself that is truly mad or ‘psychotic’.

If a so-called ‘schizophrenic’ hears voices in their head they are regarded as mad or psychotic. Yet what is the ‘mind’ except a voice heard in the head ? The only difference between the so-called ‘schizophrenics’ and ‘sane’ people is that in everyday conversation ‘normal’ people either do not hear or listen less to the voices in their own heads. Instead they immediately translate these voices into a chattering of the tongue – into their own speech. It is said that the schizophrenic hears their own thoughts as alien voices speaking in their head. It could equally be said that the normal person immediately voices their thoughts instead of listening to them as they would to the voice of another. They do so because were they to listen to their thoughts in this way they would hear any given train of thought as but one voice of their being - one voice among others. As a result they would be forced to stop identifying their whole being with their mind and thought processes. They would be forced to recognise their own ‘mind’ for what it really is – a voice in the head that gives voice to something felt in their body.

The madness of our times lies in not recognising that what we call 'the mind' is but a mirror and echo-chamber of the inwardly felt body – that which we call ‘the soul’. The madness is a profound sickness of the soul - one that expresses a fundamental mis-relation to its bodily character. Both ‘reason’ and ‘emotion’ are voices of our being arising from our soul. Neither the highly rational or highly emotive individual is capable of listening to and hearing the voice of ‘reason’ or of their ‘emotions’ as voices. Instead they identify with these voices. This is the ‘sane’ person’s equivalent to a ‘schizophrenic’ identifying with the supposed source of the voice or voices they hear in their head – whether good or evil, human or non-human, angelic or demonic, rational or emotive. In most cases however, the psychotic - unlike the psychiatrist - does not identify with the voice in their head – let alone express it as if it were the voice of sanity in the form of sober reason or ‘scientific’ objectivity.

Why does this need to be said? Because if the sane cannot ‘think before they speak’ - cannot listen to themselves - how can they possibly listen to others, sane or ‘insane’? If they cannot hear their own thoughts as voices in their heads and understand them as a mental mirror and echo-chamber of their inwardly felt body – their soul - how can they possibly hear the soul of another resounding in their speech? To do so would require that we listen to others not just with our minds but with our body as a whole. That we hear the other not just as a talking head but as a soul speaking itself through their body as a whole. This would transform our listening into a bodily relational practice – a mode of embodied relating to the very soul of the other.

"The sicknesses of the soul are sicknesses of relation." The fundamental sickness of relation stems from an inability to be with and relate to others whilst staying in touch with our inwardly felt body as a whole, and not just the inner mind-space of our heads. As a result we cannot relate to the other as ‘some body’ – and not just a talking head. For to do so requires the ability not just to regard someone’s body as a more or less animated or attractive object but to feel it as a sensory image of their own subjective awareness or soul.

Only by feeling our body as a whole can we feel our self as a whole – our soul. Only by sensing the body of the other as a whole can we feel their self as a whole - their soul. If we cannot feel our body as a whole from within, we have no way of feeling what goes on in our minds as something occurring in but one part of our inwardly felt body - our head - and mirroring but one aspect of the whole, of our soul. If we cannot feel our own body as a whole from within, then neither can we sense the inwardly felt body of the other as a whole – their soul. Only the body of the other as a whole gives us a sensory image of their soul. Only our own body as a whole can function as a sense organ of our soul. Only through proprioceptive awareness of our own body as a whole can we transform it into a sense organ of our soul - enabling us to not only perceive another person’s body with our body’s senses but proprioceive the other – to sense their own inwardly felt body or soul. Disembodied relating is also soulless relating. The essence of The Relational Revolution as a religious revolution however, consists precisely in becoming aware of the bodily character of all relational practices and thus re-ensouling our relations to other human beings and to the world itself.



9. Religion as Relational Revolution

The Relational Revolution is a truly Religious Revolution, for like all other religious revolutions it aims at a spiritual transformation of human relations and with it, the sicknesses of those relations.

Only in religion do we see any understanding that relational practices belong to the very essence of ethics. Every new religion has brought with it a new set of relational practices designed to bring about a revolutionary transformation in the individual’s relation both to God and to other human beings. "Love thy neighbour as thyself" is a famous example. Yet these religiously proclaimed relational practices tended to be codified as positive or prohibitory ethical laws such as the 10 commandments. Practice of religious law however, both symbolises and at the same time obscures the true essence of relational practices. For following a relational practice has nothing to do with obeying a law but rather with authentically embodying a value.

‘Love’ is not an obligation, commandment, law that can be obeyed or broken. It is a quality of soul that we do or do not embody as a relational practice – in our whole way of relating to other human beings. The same applies to other religious ‘values’ – goodness, compassion, forgiveness, reverence, devotion etc. Such values cannot be taught as laws or principles to be obeyed or disregarded. They can only be embodied in different ways and to different degrees.

A relational practice is a method or means by which to authentically embody a spiritual value in our whole way of being with and relating to others – it is a means to that end. But just as following enforced moral codes became an end in itself in Western religions, so did the meditational disciplines and practices of the Eastern religions. Religious practices such as meditation, contemplation, study or prayer, are indeed intended to renew or consummate an inner relationship with God. Yet their essence as relational practices – and the essential nature of such practices - has not been examined.

As relational practices aimed at a revolutionary spiritual transformation of human relations, past religious practices have failed ignominiously. They have not created a race of human beings capable of truly embodying the spiritual values they espouse. That is because, as bearers of self-proclaimed ‘spiritual’ principles and practices, they have ignored or vilified the essential medium of all human relations and all relational practice – the human body. Or worse, they have treated human relations and the human body as an obstacle to a spiritual relation with God.



10. Changing the World?

"How far is the truth capable of embodiment? That is the question. That is the experiment."

Nietzsche

The Relational Revolution is no mere philosophy or set of moral or religious principles but a revolutionary set of bodily relational practices. Together these constitute a new ‘yoga’ – not a yoga of ‘health’ or ‘self-realisation’, but a yoga of embodied relating. This revolutionary New Yoga offers each individual a practical path to relational fulfilment – new ways to realise themselves through their embodied relation to others. By embodying the relational practices of The New Yoga each individual can become a Relational Revolutionary - furthering a revolutionary transformation of all human relations - the Relational Revolution.

What has a new ‘yoga’ of bodily relational practices and the Relational Revolution it can bring about have do to with all the evident things that need changing in this world, and with all its evident sicknesses – economic and ecological? Is not revolutionary change, after all, a political matter, demanding political protest, action and power? Because it is precisely in the realm of political practice that we see a complete eclipse of relational awareness and a complete absence of revolutionary relational practices.

Mass political apathy reflects the profound awareness of the masses that political discourse has become a mere preaching to the converted or a debate of the deaf, founded on a fundamental incapacity to engage in listening dialogue. Listening is not something we do with our ears or minds alone. It is something we can do with our whole body and whole being. Listening in this way we become ‘all ear’. Our listening is transformed into a bodily relational practice that allows us to hear through the word of the other and heed the whole human being that addresses us.

A group of left-wing activists meet to plan a protest, organise a campaign of political ‘action’, or participate in such action. Whilst their practical project may have the purpose of raising important issues that affect other human beings, even before they meet it has the result of reducing their own relation to one another as human beings to a purely practical or pragmatic one. Even though their common aim is to ‘change the world’, each departs from the meeting with their own world unchanged. For though they have met and engaged with one another as a group they have by no means genuinely met as individuals – for to do so would mean allowing their own way of being-in-the-world to be changed by one another – even if only one other. Despite wishing to change the world their own world remains totally unchanged - because for all the group ‘meetings’ that are organised no authentic meeting of two human beings ever occurs.

All who attend such ‘meetings’ remain bound to their own unchanged way of being-in-the-world and relating to others. Their own being-in-the-world not having changed, they are each left with a strangely ambivalent sense of ‘longing’ – feeling on the one hand a renewed sense of ‘belonging’ to a larger group or whole on the one hand, and on the other hand a lingering sense of existential hollowness on the other. The ‘existential’ hollowness is a felt lack of relational fulfilment and change that no group accomplishments and no sense of group solidarity can substitute for. For no purely practical relations with others – even those motivated by the desire to help other human beings - can replace the relational practices aimed at genuinely meeting the other as a human being and not just as the representative voice of a political passion or position.

The political actions that our activists plan and implement as a group are a way of ‘acting out’ the personal empathy they feel with other groups of human beings who suffer exploitation or persecution. In reality, however, it is not groups that feel and suffer from persecution or exploitation but individual human beings. No two Jews experienced the concentration camps in the same way, for by virtue of their irreducibly different ways of being-in-the-world they each experienced that world in a different way and embodied a different bearing or relation towards it.

Thus to politically act out a felt relation to groups of other human beings – through group meetings or mass protests - is by no means the same thing as to actively relate to those others – or to any other – as an individual. That is also why a single intimate dialogue with a single individual to whom one’s political sympathies are directed – whether a striking worker or asylum seeker – can do more to change the world than a whole series of political campaigns. Why? Because through that dialogue the world of that individual can be changed. Similarly, a single intimate dialogue with an individual towards whom one feels great political antipathy can do more to change the world than a whole series of ‘actions’ directed at the social group or political party to which that individual belongs. Why? Because only in this way can that individual’s mode of being-in-the-world and relating to others be touched and changed by one’s own. This assumes of course, that one can fully embody one’s own way of being-in-the-world through a fully embodied relation to the other - a relation in which one is fully present with the other in a bodily way and fully receptive to the other as some-body.

"The propagandist…is not in the least concerned with the person whom he desires to influence, as a person.."

Martin Buber

Two talking heads, discoursing, debating or seeking to score intellectual points off one another do not constitute a true and meaningful meeting of human beings.



11. Activism or Reactionism?

The way we perceive another person communicates to them, whether or not we express it in word or deed. Personal and political perception isa form direct action – for each individual’s awareness of other people and the world automatically communicates - working on the psyche of others and spreading out like a ripple in the mass psyche. Political activism on the other hand, is founded on the belief that political awareness is powerless unless translated into energetic ‘work’ or ‘action’. This belief often leads not to effective political action but rather to emotionally driven re-actions to political events. Political activism of this form is, in the most literal sense, ‘re-actionary’. Reacting emotionally to political beliefs or behaviour of others prevents us from seeing and feeling the emotions behind those beliefs and that behaviour. It is like reacting to a child’s ‘outrageous’ behaviour with rage rather than understanding the rage behind that behaviour – the rage of the other. What political activists remain ignorant of is the fact that not all knowledge needs to be translated into action or even communication. For there is knowledge of a different sort – an inner bodily knowing that is already and in itself a form of communicative action.

Left-wing thinking in general still bears the trace of a naïve enlightenment rationalism that opposes itself to the supposed ‘irrationalism’ of the political Right. The naivety is the belief that the world can be changed by rational cognition and argument alone. But rational argument and cognition without feeling understanding cognition can no more change the political world than it can change the behaviour of an infant, child or adolescent. Reason itself – including political reasoning - is nothing but a more or less distorted articulation of inner knowing or gnosis - an intuitive and bodily knowing. The rational articulation of this inner knowing however, is easily distorted into a mere ‘rationalisation’ of emotions. The degeneration of rational argumentation into a mere means of rationalising intense personal feelings only occurs because those feelings have not yet themselves been felt and explored sufficiently to understand their own intrinsic rationality. There is nothing innately ‘irrational’ about feelings – for there are always good reasons why people feel the way they do. Emotional feelings are the surface of an inner feeling cognition of the world and other people that is far deeper than purely intellectual cognition - and therefore also the potential source of far deeper intellectual or ‘rational’ understandings. A true and consistent rationalism would not oppose reason to feeling or treat the latter as ‘irrational’ but affirm the intrinsic rationality of feelings. Only in this way can reason prevent itself from becoming a mere rationalisation of feelings whose true ground or reason has not yet been fully felt and understood.

It is the remaining imprint of naïve enlightenment rationalism that makes socialists impermeable to inner knowing or ‘gnosis’ – indeed to any profound spiritual traditions or philosophies associated with ‘irrationalism’ and/or with the political Right. Do they not recognise that Marxism would not exist had not Marx himself studied, learned and drawn from the major philosopher of the political Right of his time – Hegel. Twentieth-century ‘Marxists’ on the other hand refuse to even consider the profoundly revolutionary thoughts that could be drawn from the thinking of a Nietzsche or Heidegger, merely brandishing them as proto-Nazi or Nazi philosophers not worthy of any consideration at all. It would be as if Marx had refused to even study Hegel on account of his political beliefs. Again, were he to have done so we would not have any Marxism at all – no Capital, no Communist Manifesto. We would also have no politically correct ‘Marxists’ of the sort who continue to remain proudly ignorant of every profound philosophy except that of Marx. Yet as they well know, it was Marx himself who first declared that he was not a ‘Marxist’.

The irrational Righteousness and false ‘rationalism’ of the Left is the biggest obstacle to a radical rethinking of revolutionary socialism and the creation of an even more deeply rational or ‘scientific’ socialism. It runs contrary to Marx’s own rejection of enlightenment rationalism with its lacking dialectical concept of logic and reason. Marx’s profound study of the dialectics of human social and economic relations did not, as we know from his biographies, endow him with any great capacity to relate to other human beings as individuals. Nor was Heidegger’s profound study of the nature of human being as such matched by his capacity to study individual human beings. It was through his intense interest in and ‘study’ of the individual human beings he encountered – his willingness to learn and be changed by them - that Martin Buber was able to transform Marxist theoretical dialectics into a practice of authentic dialogue.

In socialist political groupings, as in the parliamentary debating clubs of the Western democracies, diction and contradiction replace authentic dialogue. We know that parliamentary democracies are sham, since they allow the implementation of no political decisions - however ethical and rational - that go against corporate economic interests and global finance capital. Decision-making is based neither on rational debate nor on genuine meeting or dialogue, but rests on a push-and-pull of competing economic interests on the one hand, and party-political elites and cliques on the other. National political parliaments have proved themselves impotent in the face of the global economic interests, and the global military and economic hegemony of the United States. But where decision-making on any level - whether that of the individual, dyad, group, institution or state - is based fundamentally on a push-and-pull of competing ideas, impulses, emotions or interests, ‘reason’ can serve only the entirely subordinate role of rationalising ineffectual compromises and giving them a superficial veneer of ethical respectability. Decisions are taken ‘democratically’ by the individual or group mind but these are decisions that in no way embody the true will of the individual or group. For true will or intent knows no mental compromise – it is the uncompromising embodiment of inner knowing, inner values and inner truth.



12. The Politics of the Body

Real political history does not consist of a series of political events – wars and conquests, the creation of states and empires etc. Real history is rooted in the emotions that gave rise to and fuelled historic events. It is individually felt e-motions that motivate and move people and that also create mass movements. It is the fear people have of feeling those emotions in a bodily way, or the difficulty they have in expressing them in a bodily way, that leads both to the formation of organised political ‘bodies’ and to struggles between such bodies. Organised political bodies seem to offer people an opportunity to express the gut feelings aroused by their exploitation, but political action is all too often just a way of ‘venting’ feelings, thereby simply evacuating them from our bodies rather than finding ways of embodying those feelings in our way of relating to others. Chanting a political slogan or putting together a political policy may both appear to be ways of ‘expressing’ a gut feeling and communicating a political message. But expression is not communication, as we know from art that ‘expresses’ the artist’s feelings but totally fails to communicate. Communication is a relational act that bears back or relates a message to a specific other. A political act that is not a relational act is also not a communicative act in this sense. Instead political activism is a form of ‘acting out’ – one whose true purpose is not so much to express the gut feeling as to evacuate it from one’s body or vaporise it in words. Only by feeling our feelings in a bodily way can we embody them through a new way of being-in-the-world and relating to other human beings - not as a group but as individuals. It is only by letting our feelings first of all change us that we can change the world for others, doing so through our own way of relating to them as individuals.

Can we change the world simply by the way we are – our being? Only if we first of all understand that ‘being’ is not a noun but a verb, not a state but a relational activity - the bodying of a definite inner bearing or comportment in relation to the world and other people. The bodying of this bearing constitutes their particular way of ‘being-in-the-world’. We can each change the world through the way we are, because our very way of ‘being-in-the-world’ is a bodily relational activity, one which bears or ‘relates’ a message to others through our whole bodily comportment and demeanour.

Changing the world is made possible only by a basic bodily relational practice – the ability to not only put ourselves in another person’s shoes but in their bodies themselves, feeling from within our own bodies the unique inner bearing that they embody, their way of being-in-the-world. This bodily identification with the inner bearing of another human being enables us to feel in our own bodies their whole way of being-in-the-world - and with it the ‘world’ that they are ‘in’. If we can do this not only with friends and those we love but with foes and those we hate, not only with the victims of exploitation and racism, tyranny and abuse, but with their perpetrators, then and only then do we empower ourselves to change the world. Only by allowing ourselves to be changed by those we would change do we empower ourselves to change them - for it is only our capacity to identify with and be changed by another human being that can make them receptive to being changed by us. Those who seem to cause the most pain and suffering to other human beings and thus to be the most fearful and ‘evil’ of human beings – the Stalins and Hitlers of this world – are precisely those whose own suffering, hurt and pain others most fear to see and feel. Left isolated in this way, such ‘evil’ individuals then feel no way out except to try and make others feel their own pain, hurt and suffering – often doing so in the most violent and brutal of ways.

All violent action not only makes the victim feel pain. It also expresses the unfelt pain of the perpetrator. If the victims then express their pain by causing pain to others and becoming perpetrators in turn, the vicious circle is complete. It could be broken by a simple relational principle - ‘Love thy neighbour as thyself’ – but only if understood in its deeper sense. Loving thy neighbour, friend or foe, ‘as thyself’ does not mean merely loving another to the same degree as one loves one’s own self. It means lovingly identifying with their self and world as if it were ours. To embody this relational principle requires a bodily relational practice – that of bodily identification with the soul of the other in all its depths and all its felt and still unfelt pain. Each of us is in the world in a bodily way. Thus it is that we can only inwardly feel and identify with another person’s way of being-in-the-world in a bodily way, through a relational practice of bodily identification with the other. The practice of bodily identification is not simply empathy with another person’s emotions. For it hinges on a bodily sensitivity and responsiveness to the gestural and suggestive dimension of all communication - mental or emotional, ‘verbal’ or ‘non-verbal’.

"Empathy with the souls of others is…a physiological susceptibility to suggestion….One never communicates thoughts: one communicates movements, mimic signs, which we then trace back to thoughts."

Friedrich Nietzsche




Organised political bodies have long stood in the way of an organismic politics of the body. Such a politics would be based on the recognition that to every mental and emotional ‘attitude’, every intellectual and political ‘position’ or ‘standpoint’, belongs an inwardly felt bodily bearing and posture. An undefended openness to being intellectually persuaded or emotionally moved by others is no mere mental attitude or emotional state. It goes together with an inner bodily bearing - a felt bodily sense of openness to the other. Similarly, receiving another person’s body with an open-armed welcoming embrace is an authentic gesture only if it is the embodiment of an inner bearing that is alreadyfelt in a bodily way. That is why as much if not more can be read in the eyes, face and whole bodily bearing of a politician than in the political standpoint they adopt, the ‘positions’ they espouse, the political parties or programmes of action they participate in and the policy statements they put their name to. The look on a person’s face, the way they look at you and meet or do not meet your gaze show and say more about their way of looking out at the world and other people – their inner world outlook - than any ideology they espouse. Similarly, their bodily posture says more about their inner bearing towards the world and other people than any political position or ‘posture’ they adopt.

The general public knows this better than any political pollster or activist. They seek out politicians whose overall ‘look’ and bearing embody an inner bearing and world outlook resembling theirs – and do so independently of its practical or party-political expression. The German left were naively shocked that a Hitler could find support amongst the working classes, despite his courting and being abetted by industrial bosses. That is because what counted was not his political policies but his political bearing and physiognomy – one which embodied intense felt impulses, values and conflicts in their own soul. Alone among the left-wing thinkers of the time, only the Marxist psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich understood "the mass psychology of fascism" as the expression of an inner bearing that had become muscularly rigidified and took the form of a rigid bodily "character structure" - one whose visible expression was a type of militaristic rigidity of posture.



13. Health and Human Relations

The Relational Revolution is founded on the understanding that the health of both the individual and society is determined by the health of human relations, and that sicknesses of all sorts are the result of a fundamental pathology of human relations. This understanding has its historic roots in Marx’s analysis of ‘alienation’ – the alienation of human beings from one another, from nature and from their own essential human nature. It stands in direct opposition to the current commercial fetishism of wellness – an ideal of ‘well-being’ which ignores its foundation in our relation to other beings. Marx’s analysis of capitalist economies showed how relationships between people come to be dominated by relationships between things – prices, exchange rates, share values etc – and by one vast impersonal ‘thing’ in particular, that which we call "The Market". Marx recognized this as a great paradox, since in the last analysis relationships between things are actually an expression of relationships between people: ‘how things go’, and ‘how things are’ depends on how people relate – on their relational practices. That is why only through their relational practices can human beings free themselves from the grip of those reigning practical relations that reign over and impoverish human relations in capitalist society. The key to a relational understanding of revolution was provided by Martin Buber. For it was he who first identified two primary modes of being with and relating to others – the one governed by purely practical relations, the other being a practice of authentic relating and therefore also an authentic relational practice. In what Buber called the ‘I-It’ mode, the human being relates to both things and people only as objects of observation and analysis, need and desire. In what he called the ‘I-You’ mode the human being relates to both things and people in a quite different way – as one being to another, an ‘I’ to a ‘You’. For Buber, this was the true Realm of Relation for it was the realm of true or authentic relating.

The I-It mode dominates wherever other people serve primarily as means to an end, fulfilling each other’s physical, emotional or practical needs and desires. But it also dominates wherever any sphere of human practical relations is not transformed by relational practices which transform the ‘I-It’ or ‘We-It’ relation into an ‘I-You’ relation. Even the supposedly ‘best companies to work for’ still essentially relate to their employees in an I-It mode, using all their personal qualities and interpersonal skills to cultivate a ‘good’ relationship to the employees – but doing so only as a means to the end of enhanced productivity and profitability. They define their goals and objectives solely in terms of a ‘We-It’ relation focused on efficiency, costs, productivity, sales, shareholder value etc. The I-It relation also dominates professional relationships of all sorts - not only when the relationship to the client or partner is seen primarily as a source of income or fees, but also where it serves only as a means to other less obvious ends: for example that of ‘proving’ how knowledgeable, skillful or successful the professional is, confirming or boosting the latter’s image or self-image, helping their career advancement etc. As for the realm of professional medicine, before the patient even enters the consulting room the relationship of physician to patient has primarily the character of an I-It relation. For the primary professional role of the physician is precisely to separate the patient as a human being or ‘You’ from "It" – their own body and felt symptoms. However much personal interest he has in the patient, his professional focus is entirely on this It, and on "its" causes and cures, diagnosis and treatment.

The ‘I-It’ relation, as Martin Buber understood it, included all modes of third person relating, including the ‘I-he’ or ‘I-she’ relation. For in our minds, just as in any meeting with others, there is a part of us that takes the role of onlooker and observer of the other(s). For this ‘I’, the other is not a ‘You’ but exists for us only in the third person: as a ‘he’ or ‘she’, a ‘him’ or ‘her’. Our very thoughts about another person take the form of thoughts about ‘him’ or ‘her’ and not a direct felt relation to a ‘You’. Buber did not explicitly discuss the ‘We-It’ relation, though this is precisely the relation that most characterises those practical relations between people that dominate human relations in general and leave no room for relational practices. The We-It mode of relatedness is characteristic of most business and working relationships, relations in which human beings collectively concern themselves with a third thing, whatever ‘It’ is, or relations between things and between people – relations which are also turned into an ‘It’, an object of scrutiny or analysis. It is through the We-It relation that the relation of human beings to one another becomes preoccupied by their common practical relation to things and becomes in turn subservient to those things and their relations.



14. The Relational Revolution in Science

Marx’s great insight was to recognise how relations between human beings have hitherto been determined by their mutual practical relation to nature and to the ‘things’ of this world. That this relation has the character of a ‘We-It’ relation is what defines the character of modern industry and technology, which reduce both human beings and nature to a set of commercially exploitable ‘resources’. The fact that the term ‘human relations’ is treated as synonymous with something called ‘human resources management’ is testament to this. The Relational Revolution has a bearing not only on the relation of human beings to one another but also on their mutual relation to nature and to their ‘scientific’ understanding of nature. For what we call ‘science’ is an understanding of relations between natural phenomena that is entirely governed by the ‘We-It’ relation, and stands entirely in the service of the commercial exploitation of nature - including human nature itself in the form of the human genome.

Science is an attempt to ‘make sense’ of reality – it is essentially a sense-making or ‘semiotic’ activity. This sense that modern science makes of the world however, is one that has become far removed from our immediate bodily relation to nature and our immediate sensory experience of natural phenomena. The idea of water as a molecule composed of two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen bears no relation whatsoever to the qualities of water as we experience them in a sensory way. Yet for the modern scientist, the ‘reality’ of what we experience as water is nothing more than a molecular structure. That is because of what science itself essentially has become - a set of routinised and institutionalized social practices shaped by a purely practical relation to nature. This purely practical relation to nature leaves no room for practices which deepen our felt, bodily relation to nature and in this way allow us to experience its reality in a wholly different way.

What is missing from our current understanding of ‘science’ is the simple fact that our ‘scientific’ understanding of the relationships between things or between people is shaped by our relation to them. If that relation is a purely external one determined by practical purposes then nature, along with human nature will inevitably be perceived as an ‘It’ – reduced to a set of energies or genes, of quantum-mathematical relationships or biomolecular relationships. Conversely however, along with the revolutionary transformation of human relations will come a new ‘We-You’ relation between human beings and nature. This new relation to nature will entirely transform our understanding of relations between natural phenomena. Scientific research will be refounded in our immediate, sensuous and bodily experience of nature - becoming a set of ‘bodily relational practices’. This will allow human beings to once again understand all bodies, microcosmic and macrocosmic, as embodiments of their own aware inwardness or soul - as a living bodily language of that divine soul or ‘You’ that is also our innermost self or ‘I’.

What the ‘normal’ person generally takes as the real ‘world’ is a normative and consensual reality in which being is reduced to having and doing, health to economic functionality as part of a global labour force, and ‘reality’ as such to every and any ‘thing’ but living relationship. The essential reality of the human being is a complex of relationships. How they experience their reality is determined by the inner bearing they adopt to and within those relationships – their way of being in the ‘world’ that these relationships constitute. Any break in the normal pattern of relating, dominated as it is by everyday practical relations, brings about a break with normal consensual reality - but by no means with reality as such. For the ‘normal’ person their practical relations and purposes are what constitute the world they take as real - however superficial or unreal the relationships that make up that world. The Relational Revolution is a break with the entire non-relational concept of reality that underlies the world of normality, and the ‘normal’ modes of relating that maintain and reinforce it. Other realities do exist than the physical universe we take as the benchmark of reality as such. The Relational Revolution is also a doorway into those realities, but one we can only open and enter through a revolutionary transformation of our own relation to the sensory world around us. That relation must cease to be one in which thinking turns all sensory phenomena of that world into intellectual abstractions. Instead it must become a relation in which we think with our bodies themselves, using them to sense the aware inwardness or ‘soul’ of all natural bodies – not least the human body itself, which is both a sense organ of the soul, and as Wittgenstein recognized, a sensory image of the soul – its "best picture". Then we will begin to experience another ‘world’ or ‘reality’ – a world more fundamentally real than all the fundamental realities postulated by relativity and quantum science. That is the world of soul and of inner soul qualities that find expression in all the sensory qualities of the natural world. This is a world as closed to conventional scientific thinking as it is to conventional political thinking - for both are ultimately founded on a totally outmoded and disembodied understanding of thinking as such. How then, can we truly revolutionise our thinking – for surely that is the first step in any revolution?

"We must simply give our thought to the body. We must take our thinking ‘down’ into the body. We must learn to think through the body. We must learn to think with the body…For once we should listen in silence to our bodily, felt experience. Thinking needs to learn by feeling, by just being with our bodily being."

David Michael Levin



15. Relational Revolution and Education

Still today however, politicians and activists of the Left persist in the delusion that ‘the world’ can be changed without changing human beings – not just in general but as individuals, and changing not just their minds but their whole bodily way of being. Similarly seekers of knowledge persist in the delusion that it is enough to study the human world, its history, its religious and political philosophies and practices or to study the nature of the human being in general. The study of our own individual being and of the individuality of other human beings is not seen as an intrinsic part of life. Instead it is pursued only in psychotherapy - and only then if forced upon people by extremes of suffering that they cannot understand without the help of a professional psychologist. That it is foreign to everyday language to even speak of ‘studying’ individual human beings - except in a detached, clinical way - arises from the fact that we associate ‘study’ with the investigation of some subject or thing, an ‘It’ rather than a ‘You’. Thus it is that we also associate knowledge with knowledge ‘of’ or ‘about’ something or someone. We can study a subject by reading about it or a person by reading their biography, but we can only study living human beings, ourselves included, through a different sort of biography – a biography that is etched in their bodies, echoed in their speech and that unfolds through our own lived relation to them.

It is in the area of study and education that capitalism first indoctrinates people in disembodied modes of relating and a disembodied understanding of knowledge - one stripped of all individual, sensory and bodily dimensions. This was recognised by the American philosopher John Dewey: "…the pupil has a body, and brings it to school along with his mind. And the body is of necessity a well-spring of energy; it has to do something." But in conventional education "a premium is put on physical quietude, on rigid uniformity of posture and movement, upon a machine-like simulation of the attitude of intelligent interest." From this arise all the so-called problems of ‘discipline’ in schools, for the result is that "the neglected body, having no organised fruitful channels of activity, breaks forth, without knowing why or how, into meaningless boisterousness, or settles into equally meaningless fooling." The essence of education is a view of learning in which "the sense and muscles are not used as organic participants in having an instructive experience but as external inlets and outlets of the mind." The body is reduced to an instrumental channel for such educational inputs and outputs, the brain to a computer into which the student must download information from a teacher or textbook. The very ‘subject’ of study is invariably a class of objects and never a true subject – a being of any sort. Plants and animals are treated in the classroom as they are in mechanised agriculture and factory farming – as mere classes of living or animate objects. The knowledge thus imparted does indeed serve to ‘change the world’ but only in the narrow sense required by capitalism – learning the mental and manual practices necessary to transform both things and beings into commodities. Relational practices and relational knowledge do not fit into the frame. Even ‘religious’ education is reduced to knowledge ‘of’ or ‘about’ world religions and their diverse ritualistic practices - practices whose relational character has no individual dimension whatsoever but is equated with adherence to a universal moral code. Education of a new and revolutionary sort - education in bodily knowing and relating - can only be achieved through the teacher’s own bodily knowing and relating. The true teacher - academic, political or spiritual - is the most dedicated student. In particular the true teacher is the most dedicated student of their own students – not as learning machines but as individual human beings.



16. Bodily Relational Education

The aim of The Relational Revolution is not to do away with our ordinary practical relations with others, but rather to recognise and engage in them as relational practices. The revolution consists in reversing the dominance of practical relations over relational practices, a dominance which prevents individuals from achieving a sense of relational fulfilment in their practical relations with other human beings. Only through bodily relational education – education in bodily relational awareness can our responses to others become bodily relational practices. The first step in becoming a Relational Revolutionary is cultivating bodily relational awareness. The rule is to ‘be-ware’ – to be aware of oneself and others in a bodily way:

To be aware of the ways in which, at any time and in any interaction with other human beings, the purposes of that interaction and the routinised or ritualised forms it takes can prevent us from relating to others in a ‘holistic’ manner - with and from our whole body and our whole being.

To be aware of how, at any time and in any interaction with other human beings, our relation to them can reduce itself to a ‘We-It’ relation, one in which the two or more individuals who constitute this ‘We’ lose a full bodily awareness of themselves and each other and instead get drawn into an exclusive focus on whatever ‘It’ is that they are concerning themselves with.

To be aware of how, at any time and in any interaction with other human beings, we can lose awareness of our whole being or self by losing awareness of our body as a whole. Above all, to be aware of how, through losing awareness of our own body and being as a whole, we also lose awareness of the whole body and whole being of the other.

To be aware of how, at any time and in any interaction with other human beings, a disembodied mode of relating can set in - one in which people relate to one another only as talking heads, in which they may freely speak their minds and talk about some thing or other, but in which they do not sense one another with their bodies, or say anything to one another through their words.

To be aware that saying something to someone means more than just speaking about something with them. It means responding to their whole bodily presence and addressing their whole being. It means not just conveying a message to them ‘in’ words but doing so through the word – with our whole body and from our whole being. Only in that realm in which the wordless messages convey themselves through the word (dia-logos) is real dialogue established.

To be aware of the way in which our every word is an embodiment of our whole way of being-in-the-world - and a response to another person’s whole way of being-in-the world. For without this awareness we can neither change nor be changed by the other person’s way of being-in-the-world. Our words and those of the other therefore cease to be a medium of relation at all. Communication becomes an alternation of monologues which are a response to no one in particular, are addressed to no-one in particular, and which change no one at all.

To be aware that ‘the mind’ is a mirror and an echo chamber of our inwardly felt body as a whole – our soul. That the less inwardly aware we are of our body as a whole, the less we can feel our own inner depths of soul – or those of others – and the less depth there will be to our thoughts and words.

To be aware that the thoughts that pass through people’s minds, like the words and voice tones with which they express them, can both echo a more or less deep and resonant voice of their being.

To be aware that just as a full and resonant voice can only be produced by someone who speaks from their inwardly felt body as a whole - and not just their head, throat or chest - so can full and resonant words only be uttered by one who speaks from a bodily fullness of soul.

To be aware that in listening to others speak, we hear not only their audible words and tone of voice, but can hear through to the inner soul voices - more or less deep, full or resonant – that resound in their bodies and echo in their speaking voice.

To be aware at all times that the ‘person’ we encounter is not the whole human being but just that voice or those voices of their soul that they currently identify with and per-sonify, permitting them to ‘sound through’ their body and its facial mask or persona.



Postscript: Socialism with Soul



The soul dimension of socialism has to do with the intrinsically social character of the individual soul as such. We have not one personal identity but many. Our soul identity is itself a group identity. The soul is itself a family group or community of selves. The personal self we know and identify with is but one part and one expression of this inner society of selves. As souls we are multi-persons.

In the social world, each person is the hub of a wheel of dyadic relationships with others. Part of the meaning of these relationships lies in the way in which each person we relate to in our social world symbolises and links us to another self of our own – to a specific part of that group or society of selves that makes up our whole self or soul. In the social world, we are taught to feel our personal identity as the private property of our ego. In the soul world on the other hand, personal identities can mix, merge, meld and overlap with those of others, without any loss of essential spiritual individuality, which has to do with the group nature of our whole self or soul.

If two individuals linked in a dyadic relationship can sense the specific aspects of their own souls linking them with the other, and feel the ways in which their own identity overlaps with that of the other, then that relationship becomes a link to their whole self or soul. It ceases to be a mere ‘interpersonal relationship’ - one in which each person treats their own identity as private property, and rigidifies the boundary of identity separating them from the other person. Instead they become conscious of their interpersonal relationship as a soul relationship, and become aware of its reality in the soul world.

A social group is a group of persons. A soul group is a group of souls. But since each individual, as a soul, is themselves a group or society of selves, a soul group has a ‘holarchical’ character. It is a group of groups in which each member is part of every other, and is linked to eachother member through a particular aspect of their own soul. If each member of a social group is able to feel the specific inner soul-connection uniting them with each other member of the group, then the social group can come to consciousness of itself as a soul group, and become aware of its own living reality in the soul world.

It is only through a highly specific sense of our inner soul connection with a specific other that both interpersonal and group relationships can be transformed into soul relationships - awakening a social consciousness of our own whole self or soul, of soul groups and communities, and of the soul world as such.

Most accounts of society and social history are based purely on studies of social practices and the social world as such. They entirely ignore the social influence and reality of soul relationships, soul groups and the soul world. The natural world is a world that surrounds us all the time. It is not ‘another world’ but one we are a part of, even though, as urban dwellers, we may only be conscious of it through changes in the weather. The same is true of the soul world. We are part of that world too and have never left it. It surrounds us all the time and in the same way that the natural world does, making its influence felt through constant changes in the psychical atmosphere, mood or climate that permeates social groups and the social world as a whole.

We know what it feels like when the atmosphere in an interpersonal relationship or social gathering cools or gets overheated. Soul relationships and soul group do not necessarily find expression in interpersonal relationships and social groups. Yet individuals who do form part of the same soul group can feel changes in the climate or atmosphere of that group even though they may rarely or never meet as a social group, or live thousands of miles from one another in totally different natural climates. Because of the hold exerted by the notion of personal identity as private property however, individuals tend to both personalise and privatise their experience of changes occurring in the psychical climate and atmosphere of their soul group and soul world – often to the extent that they treat them only as the result of their own unpredictable personal ‘mood swings’.

Natural weather patterns and climatic changes are only ‘unpredictable’ in a conventional scientific sense. From a soul-scientific perspective they are themselves a manifestations of local, regional and global changes in the psychic atmosphere of the mass psyche. Dangerous and life-threatening global climate changes are a result of humanity adopting a soul-less and purely practical relation to nature – turning the planet into a stock of exploitable mineral, vegetative and animal resources.

It is because social relationships, social groups and the social world are primarily formed on the basis of common practical relations and purposes rather than shared inner soul connections that the whole climate of the soul world can also be damaged, affecting every soul group within it and each of the individuals within those groups.

The foundation of religious groups and communities, religious cults and cultures, was driven by the ideal of giving social and communal reality to the soul world - to soul groups and communities. Unfortunately, like other social groups and organisations, religious groups and communities too, have often been built up solely on the basis of practical relations between their members, albeit ones based on codified ethical principles and religious practices.

Socialist groups and communities too, however spiritual in orientiation, offer no guarantee of giving social and communal reality to soul groups and communities, founded as they most often are on purely political principles and practices rather than intimate inner soul connections between their members. What unites religion and socialism however, is precisely the ‘utopian’ spiritual ideal of creating ‘heaven on earth’, realising the innate soul-brotherhood and soul-sisterhood of all humanity in a way free of distortions and inequalities created by human practical relations.

This spiritual and political essence of socialism is not collectivism but individualism fulfilled through relation – the recognition that by freeing human relations from the alienation created by their practical social relations, conditions could be created for a communist society as Marx defined it – one in which "the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all." The ideal of a communist society will forever remain a utopian one unless soul is put back into ‘socialism’. Only by recognising the reality of the soul world (‘in heaven’), can soul communities attain reality in the social world (‘on earth’) as social communities. The sole means by which this can happen is through a Relational Revolution which shows each individual how to sense and realise their inner soul relationships with others through bodily relational practices – practices which break down the illusory bodily boundaries of personal identity itself.

We know that in reality all social groups, organisations and communities flounder or fragment through breakdowns in the interpersonal relationships among their members – the basic dyadic units of relation on which they are built. We know too, that the basic reason why individuals join or leave political and religious groups, organisations and communities has to do with the degree of inner soul connection they feel with them and the degree of relational fulfilment that they do or do not find within them. This in turn has to do not only with the practical relations that govern those groups, organisations and communities but rather with the relational practices that do or do not flourish within them – practices necessary in order to not only nourish the interpersonal relations that are their very life, but to transform those relations into intimate soul relationships.

John Buchan, the American author who wrote a graphic description of the Communist Revolution, predicted the future emergence of a "Four-dimensional Communism" uniting socialism with psychism - a new science of the soul. We know from the erstwhile Soviet Union what a mechanical and soul-less socialism looks like. The peoples of the Soviet Union now know from their own sordid experience about the no less soul-less nature of global capitalism.

Why ‘4-dimensional communism’? As bodies we are three-dimensional. But our three-dimensional bodies conceal a fourth dimension of space itself – for the inwardly felt body is not filled with tissues and organs but is an inner soul-space (the fourth dimension of space), one that links us through a 5th dimension with the aware inwardness or soul of all other bodies, human and cosmic. That fifth dimension is the soul world itself. The fourth dimension – that of the inwardly felt body and its inner soul space - is the dimension that can be opened up by a New Yoga of bodily relational practices. For this Yoga and these practices allow us to sense the souls of others with and within our own bodies, to feel our soul-connections with others in a bodily way, and thus also to embody those connections in our relations with others.

Will ‘4D-Communism’ remain just another utopian ‘dream’? That is up to us. But what the very nature of our dream life itself tells us is that we are all parts of one another’s souls - for how else could we each create and animate three-dimensional bodily images of one another. We do so in a 4-dimensional soul space. For entering a dream we do not leave our bodies. Instead we inwardly expand the soul-space of our inwardly felt bodies and dwell fully in that space. Within that soul-space, identities can meld and merge as they do in the figures of our dreams. The New Yoga of bodily relational practices allows us to experience a melding of identity and a communion of soul in our waking life and relationships too. Such bodily experience of soul communion is the sole foundation of communism, being the sole way in which we can become aware of the reality of communism – the already existing reality of soul communities in the ‘heavenly’ soul world. The bodily experience of soul communion is what will make it possible to truly re-ensoul our social world – to form social groups and communities ‘on earth’ which know themselves as soul groups and communities, not just as aggregates of atomised and otherwise isolated individuals.