Tami Simon: You’re listening to Insights at the Edge. Today my guest is Ashok Gangadean. Ashok has a doctorate in philosophy and has been professor of philosophy at Haverford College for over 45 years. His early work focused on logic, the science of thought, and ontology, the science of being. Throughout his career, he has been on a quest for the primal, integral logic at the heart of human reason and to bring to the fore the deep dynamics of communication and dialogue between diverse worldviews.
He’s the author of Meditative Reason: Toward Universal Grammar, and Between Worlds: The Emergence of Global Reason. Both books seek to demonstrate that human reason is essentially global, holistic, integral, dialogic, and intercultural in scope and power. Ashok has also released a six-session audio learning program with Sounds True called Awakening the Global Mind: A New Philosophy for Healing Ourselves and Our World , a program that introduces you to this revolutionary teaching for breaking out of the limiting patterns of what Ashok calls “ego-mental thinking” and connecting to the supreme universal consciousness that he identifies as logos.
In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Ashok and I spoke about “dilating,” or expanding the lens through which we see the world. We also talked about the importance of deep dialogue and being dialogical in our approach to understanding other people. We also talked about the logosphere and what it might mean to find the missing grammar of logos. Here’s my conversation with Ashok Gangadean.
Ashok, you talk about awakening the “global mind.” To begin with, help our listeners understand what you mean by the global mind.
Ashok Gangadean: That’s a wonderful question to open with. Of course, the word “global” has so many connotations in our contemporary culture in the second half of the twentieth century, often referring to the globe itself and to global communications, corporations, money, and forces across the planet. In philosophy and wisdom, it has a different meaning, going way back classically, that worldviews are realities—are shaping different worldviews or grammars of reality, whether in the Chinese mind, African modes of thought, feminist ways of thinking, or scientific structures of thinking. These are different worldviews.
Global in the philosophical sense and in the sense of wisdom has to do with: can we find any truth across our worldviews? That would be global truth. The global mind would be possibility. There is a lot of skepticism about this in contemporary culture. Is it possible for our intelligence, our rational capacity, our meditative intelligence to integrate diverse worldviews and find common ground across diverse cultures, worldviews, religions, scriptures, disciplines, and the liberal arts? That would be awakening global literacy and the global mind.
TS: I’m going to need you to help me here, because when I imagine people from different worldviews, from different countries, cultures, languages, backgrounds, I imagine us all sitting in a circle and not saying anything. Perhaps we could all tune into something that we could say we have in common or some shared heart space, if you will, something like that. But as soon as any one of us opens our mouths, aren’t we in our own worldsphere? How do we connect via language?
AG: Perfect question! That’s exactly right. Imagine a wide circle, as wide as you wish, of diverse humans in their different worldviews with their different lenses. Let’s use the metaphor for the lens of the mind. So if, say, you are of the Lakota mind, you would have a certain lens [through which] you see your world, yourself, and your language—or Judaic ways of thought, or Christian, or Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian. Across the planet, you’re right, to sit in a circle in silence or ready to be in what I call the logos. I use a Greek word, logos, which is a very high status in all of European thought, going back to Socrates, Plato, Aristotle. The logos is the Greek name for the fundamental field of rational light, of language, of speech, of thought. So, all of our scientific words of logos—psychology—are using the logos word. “Logic” itself comes from the logos—trying to get that ultimate space from which our world alleged [arose.] When we are even in silence, we are never outside of the logosphere, the sophisphere.
I use the words “logos” and “sophia” together as “logosophia,” the name for the fundamental field that has been named differently, as you rightly point out, so the Chinese deep wisdom, Lao Tzu would call it the Tao, the Yahweh of the Hebrew tradition, the Judaic tradition, Allah of the Muslim tradition, Om, Brahmin, emptiness, Basho in the Japanese—all naming this fundamental field. My work has been to really show that the deepest pulse of this is to find the logosphere. I’m using the word “logos” now not in a Greek, tribal sense, but in a global context of the logos.
We’re always in the logos, always in the Tao, always in the Yahweh, always in the Om. To be in silence is already to be speaking in silence with our being together. In my Deep Dialogue Institute, being in deep dialogue, silence is already to be speaking in silence—or Buddha’s silence speaks volumes. But you’re absolutely right. When anyone would start to speak, let’s say in English, whatever her worldview might be, it looks as if your lens is already there. The challenge you are rightly pointing to is: how do we find a way to dialogue across borders of our lenses, which are profound, to really, possibly, meet in the logos? That’s a great question.
TS: And I’m going to repeat it back to you, in a certain sense, since it is the question. As soon as we use language, aren’t we inherently challenged at understanding each other across these cultural boundaries, these boundaries of our lenses? How do we overcome that?
AG: That’s exactly right and this is why in my work into the global mind, global lens, or global literacy—imagine if this logos is indeed, as all of our geniuses have seen—there’s a fundamental field. It’s the Word. John begins his gospel in the beginning as a logos, an infinite word. In the beginning is the Word and Om is a word and Tao is a word.
The counterpart to your question, Tami, is that if this is true, that the original force of the universe is infinite and is the infinite word, does it cash out into a language, a script, a code that is coding all of our diverse worldviews? That is the presumption and finding of our great mystical, spiritual traditions. The ultimate force, the infinite word, by whatever name, being infinite, must be the common funding source for all possible language forms, worldviews, lenses, perspectives, and narratives. That is such a profound intuition that has been ever-present in perennial wisdom. Your question then becomes—this is what I’ve been dealing with in my institute, Global Dialogue Institute, that presumes to have deep dialogue encounters across worldviews. Can a Christian really share common ground with a Jew? Can a Muslim have common ground with a Christian? As children of Abraham, as these traditions are called, for example, can a Christian have a real conversation, a meeting of minds, with a Buddhist or someone in the yoga tradition? That is a challenge, you’re right.
The first way to respect it is to honor the point you’re making, which is, “Look, I am here with my lens at this roundtable. I’m speaking my truth from my point-of-view. You’re speaking from your point-of-view.” The presumption is: are we ever meeting? Can we ever communicate or find union or common discourse across those worldviews. My work has been to show how it is possible to dilate our own language form, to expand it into the logosphere.
All of the everyday English—is it possible that I can say, “This is mountain,” as a Zen master would say? When I say in my naïve, everyday, uncritical English, “This is mountain. This is pen. I am here,” the Zen master would point out [that] when you speak the Zen script, you realize that that narrow tribal identity is not the deepest meaning of your word. When you say “mountain,” mountain is not mountain. That’s the second stage of the therapy. Having gone through the deconstruction of that naïve identity of your sentence or words, the Zen master would now open up the new, or the logosphere, the “zensphere,” the “Zenglish,” the deeper English, to say, “Behold the mountain. Mountain is mountain.” Or, Blake would say, [it is] “infinity in a grain of sand, eternity in an hour.”
What these teachers are trying to do is to open up our words and resurrect them to their source, so that we realize our language is much deeper than we realized. Dilating the global lens is attempting to say, “Oh my God! This simple pen that I am holding, which I can use in everyday English, [like] ‘Bring me the pen,’ or ‘The pen is blue,’ or ‘The pen is for writing,’ or ‘The pen is plastic. I’ll throw it away.’”
If I found this pen was picked up on Mars, suddenly I have a changed perspective. Wow, a pen on Mars! This is headline news for all of history. This means a culture, writing, wisdom from another extraterrestrial source. Everything around us has that potential to be dilated into the Zen space or the Buddha space or the Kabbalah space. When we enter into the Kabbalah, we are getting the deeper decoded words from our ordinary language. It’s a great issue.
TS: You’re using an interesting term, Ashok, “dilating our lens.” What does that mean? How do I do that in everyday speech, dilate my lens?
AG: Well, in a way, think of Descartes’ lab experiment on this—great question, again. When he saw—and he was saying, “Is there anything I know for certain?” in his meditations—and it is all very classic. He says, “I can doubt everything in my world, on the screen of my awareness, where I use my everyday language. I could be dreaming and it could be all frivolous and fantasy.” And he says, “How about mathematics? OK, two plus two equals four; now that, I can’t doubt. But what if there’s a demon deceiving my mind and making it look as if it’s true? Even logic and mathematics could be false.”
Then, he says, “I’m going to step back from these stories that I have” —here’s a dilation, the stepping back, allegedly—“and allow myself to step out of the box and see if there’s anything I can discover.” That’s when he hit the “I am.” When he did that—if we just realize that he stepped out of the box that could be doubted, a screen, so to speak, where we put our everyday speech—and he said, “I am,” he hit a deeper, dilated “I am,” and he realized that. He realized that his utterance was his being. He wasn’t describing something or talking about it anymore. He was it.
That is a moment of dilation where almost all of yoga—for example, where the particular dialogue of Krishna with Arjuna, where Arjuna breaks down on the battlefield, in his life, in a war with his family, and he drops his weapon and says, “Krishna, this is impossible. I am damned either way. Help me.” And Krishna is the Om voice, the logos voice, and of course, your point is beautifully taken, because Arjuna doesn’t have a clue as to how to truly listen to Krishna’s voice from the highest sphere. So the early part of the Bhagavad Gita is trying to show him he has to dilate his consciousness to understand the Om script and therefore get into his higher atman, his higher self.
All of these great teachers—Buddha’s awakening exactly has to do with the process of stepping back from your ordinary patterns and habits of mind—linguistic prophecies—and allow yourself to open flow into the zone where these words expand into their source. Now it’s a new reality. It’s a holistic language. I found this journey so vital across our wisdom traditions that I, in my journey of awakening before mind, found it necessary to introduce a script, a marker, to see when we are in the ego language—utterances—and when we dilate into the holistic, integral, dialogic space.
I use double parenthesis for that and single markers to mark, almost like quotation marks, for our level of dimension of speech. When we are in the ego, monistic, monological mind, I use single brackets. When we cross into this dilated space of deep dialogue—the ether of space that Descartes stepped into and that yoga, Buddha’s awakening, the Zen moment, the Christ consciousness, and the Quaker wisdom are about. They are all trying to capture the double bracket logos, and that’s a dilated script, a dilated mind and lens.
TS: Just digging in yet a little bit further into this word, “dilating,” is that adding water, like dilution? Is that what you mean, that we’re adding space or we’re expanding?
AG: It is not diluting. On the contrary, it’s more concentrated, ironically. The dilation really is a metaphor for expanding, for opening up. When we are in our naïve, everyday, cultural language—whatever it is—which tends to be more focused on the law of identity, every word has its fixed meaning and everything has its own space. When I say “I,” I am thinking of me as a separate, autonomic being that stands on my own. Those identity words have a level of evolution of language based upon the law of naïve identity. [It] artificially chops our words into separate pieces. Every word, even the fundamental ones, like “space,” “time,” “cause,” “substances,” “color,” “feature,” “texture,” and “motion” all have their own identity stamp and certain “me”—“I,” “I am,” “Who am I?” I have my own story and my own identity.
Those words, that kind of language, has artificially fixed, cutoff meanings, and when the word expands—if I can say “I am” in the way Descartes is or that the yogi, who is awakened, in her meditative practice says “I am,” which is the whole point of the yoga. It’s not that you are diluted, it is that you are dilated and expanded into the awakened consciousness. Socrates would say we have to leave the cave and enter the logos light, which is a journey of philosophy and wisdom. What happens to our mind, our lens, our script, and our literacy if and when we do that? I use the word “dilation” as one metaphor for that.
Imagine Blake saying that if we can dilate and look at a grain of sand from that point-of-view, or anything, you would see if, in its deep and revealed essence, the grain of sand has infinity in it. There’s infinity in the grain of sand, in the rose, in every person. The Quakers say there is infinity in every person. If we could open that up and recognize that in each other—which is a dialogic way of being—the other person becomes more profoundly sacred and revealed, rather than diluted. That really is the spiritual—when you get into the logosphere, where, ostensibly, using that word, all of our great traditions think that is the fundamental field. That is where everything is flowing and there is infinite interconnectivity. That is where it is magnificent and sacred. That is the source of our human rights.
TS: It seems like some language structures would lend themselves to easier dilation, if you will, and that perhaps English isn’t the easiest language because of the subject/verb construction. I know you have done so much work cross-culturally and in the field of linguistics. What do we know? Which languages are the closest, if you will, to this global language of literacy?
AG: That’s a wonderful question, Tami. We know that, for example, in certain languages, in their grammars, there is no verb. In the Chinese characters, for example, which are a whole different way of representation, you don’t have the subject and predicate. In the English, Greek, and European languages, for example, you often have subject—S and P. “Socrates is wise.” You have the “is” joining the subject or noun phrase and the verb phrase.
Of course, Noam Chomsky, one of our geniuses, who is seeking to get the deep grammar—they call it the deep structure—of all human languages, thought that logic would help him to get into that fundamental structure that is the generative semantic syntax for all language and so forth. However diverse our natural human cultural languages are—and they are profoundly diverse—it’s hard to say that one is more conducive to the logos script than others, because the bottom diagnosis is that as long as you are objectifying the content of your speech, as long as your language is talking about X, Y, and Z, whatever its font, it is in the trap of objectification. You are separating the thinker from the content of thought in all of these languages. Our diverse languages don’t naturally lend themselves to being in the Om zone or the Christ space or the Kabbalah space or the Buddha space. That takes a shift—a dimensional shift—in our scripting.
Descartes said, “I am.” When he said, “I am,” he realized he crossed out of the box when he was talking about the world and mathematics into the unified field where he was scripting. He was the script and he didn’t know how to handle that. When Jesus got into this, for example, he spoke in a weird way: “I am the way. I am the truth. I am the life.” The listeners who were speaking the ego-based, single-bracket language couldn’t get it, because it was a different level of language where the scripture is the script. That becomes a divide between—can you cross into the holistic holosphere in which you are swimming in language and you are language and you are scripting? You can’t separate the scripter from what is scripted. That becomes the key to seeing whether you have crossed the dimension into the logo script or whether you are objectifying it and therefore reducing it and cutting it off, using the law of identity unconsciously to put it on the screen of awareness.
TS: In a very grounded way, I want to talk about this. Here you’ve done all of this work with cross-cultural dialogue and working with different religious leaders and spiritual leaders from different traditions. What is the best way to approach dialogue in this kind of form that will allow us to meet in—I like the Om zone, of all the words that you’ve used—to meet in the Om zone? What would you say are sort of the dos and don’ts, if you will, of dialogue to meet in the Om zone?
AG: Wonderful question again, Tami. The greatest challenge I have found in listening to our great teachers across the ages—if you think of Buber, whose I and Thou—a beautiful book—is saying there are two ways to speak and think. One is “I-It” —that’s a single bracket—and “I-Thou,” which is crossing into the dialogue space. When you are in I-Thou and you step back from your fixed lens, putting it on the other—something happens profoundly if you dilate your lens. Say you stand in front of a van Gogh painting and you can look at it from an egoic, monocentric view, where you look at it as an object, whereas it is in the museum, it is on the wall, it is worth three million dollars, and you want to write about it. But, then, if you can be in the Om zone with it and open your heart and mind and just be with it, in the I-Thou-sphere, where it is no longer objectified in a box, but now I’m meeting you and you’re meeting it in a direct encounter, that’s the I-Thou space.
Imagine for religious dialogue, interfaith dialogue, and peacemaking across borders, all of these different forms where we hit the boundaries of our single-bracket, monocentric language. The greatest challenge, when I met with religious leaders in New York City, for example, the Partnership of Faith, and they asked me to please come and help them see if they can get to a deeper dialogue in their faith. Each of these great religious leaders of their communities has been meeting for several years. They would come and bring their lens and speak in witness to their voice, their tradition, and their perspective. Then, if you do that—if I come as a Christian and listen to a Jew, a Muslim, a Hindu, or a Buddhist from my lens, knowing that Jesus is the only truth and you others are outside of that, that’s not dialogue, it’s monologue.
Monologue is when you privilege your own lens and are unwilling to dilate and step back, cut slack, and allow a “dialogos.” The word “dialogue” means through the logos. That’s where we meet. So, for example, if you have a pro-choice and a pro-life [person], and each is in a different world, speaking a different language, and they are willing to die for it, or you have Big Bang or Genesis—what’s the truth about the origin of the cosmos? Is the Bible right? Is it Genesis or is it the Big Bang? Well, if you stand in the single-bracket box and you duke it out, you’re not going to get anywhere in terms of dialogue. You have monologue. You keep repeating your own narrative.
The key to dialogue with, say, religious leaders is to recognize that what they value most—which is the fundamental Word, the primal name—that it must be infinite. This is a very powerful point, because then you realize that Brahmin is infinite, Om is infinite, Tao is infinite, Yahweh is infinite, Christ is infinite, and if that’s so, then is it a different infinite? That immediately collapses as nonsense. You can only have one infinite, and we know that is self-evident because if you had two infinites, you wouldn’t be infinite. You would be limited by the other. So, if it’s one infinite, is it unified? Yes. How? Infinitely unified.
What does that mean? It means all of our narratives must come out of that source. If that’s so—let’s call it a logos, just to take one of the names—you could take any of them—then, can we meet in that field? As Rumi says, there is a field—this is often-quoted Rumi—“There is a field beyond words. I will meet you there.” What he is calling out, in the Sufi tradition, is that this field is so profound and immediate, and therefore, ever-present, that we are already in it. We are never outside of it. You can’t step away from it. Therefore, it surrounds us in and out. It is at hand and within and without.
So, the key to dialogue, and this is where religious leaders, one would think, would be most inclined to say, “Yes, I do believe in the infinite. That’s my whole point.” Even the Buddha—the emptiness of Buddha’s field, the Buddha dharma, that too, even though it is not God, it is the field, where everything meets and interconnects. You would think that interfaith dialogue would be a very fertile space to dilate the act of privileging your lens and allow us to meet in the field of logos, the common ground of our faith. That’s a great challenge.
TS: Now, you’re saying something very interesting and I want to make sure that I’m following you here. What you’re saying is that you believe that all of these different representatives from different traditions would agree that the basis of their faith is something that can be called “something infinite.” That’s the leap. Because once we get to “infinity,” we’re all in this same infinite field. Does everybody make this leap to infinity?
AG: Well, it’s not a “leap.” It is a premise. It’s a given, because no one would say that Yahweh is not infinite. Or Om is not infinite. Or that Tao is not infinite. That’s why the opening of the Tao Te Ching is a Tao that is named in the ordinary script—it’s not a Tao, it’s the opening lines of the Tao Te Ching. And Patanjali and the yoga—yoga is a quieting of the ego-mind—the ego script—so that the Om can open up.
So, the way you worded it is intriguing, Tami. It’s that one would think that Allah is clearly infinite—no, it’s that Allah is not.
That spiritual master or leader—him or her—potentially has fertile common ground in realizing that there is something first that must be infinite, and if infinite, must be unifying. Because you can’t divide it or break it or multiply it. Once you see that, as you point it out, then it’s from that deep emptiness of the infinite—that profound global axioms begin to flow across borders.
When Buddha, for example, is trying to reveal that script in the Buddha-field—where everything is everything is originating—and he sees that’s the ethics, that’s the Buddha dharma, that’s the law of compassion where everything rises.
Oh, and Jesus has this version of that in his font: “When I was in prison you visited me; and when I was hungry, you fed me.” And his Disciples didn’t understand that. He’d say, “When you tended to the least of mine, you attended to me.” Why? Because the Christ space is the “I-Thou” and the Other is already coded within us. In each of us, there are no separate atoms. That’s the greatest mythology of the ego-based, monocentric script. Using identity atomizes—and atom, in philosophy, is a separate alleged unit of independent, self-sustaining existence. So when you make yourself an entity or a being, you think it’s a high status but [to see spiritually], that’s the fall. The fall of Adam and Eve and eating the fruit—of single-bracket knowledge, so to speak—fell from grace, from connectivity, from the zone, and the condition of sin is a condition of “sin script.” In Eastern thought, it’s called samsara—a cycle of beginnings and endless suffering, cut off from nirvana. So the journey of spirituality is to awaken the missing script that we got cut off from.
So, yes, that is really the pathway into that awakened common script.
TS: Now, Ashok, I know you’ve written a book called Meditative Reason. It’s such an intriguing title to me. Often, when I talk to people who are meditators, they’re not particularly interested in rationality or reason. Whatever insights [they have] have nothing to do with the thinking mind or the reasoning mind. Can you talk a little bit about what you mean by “meditative reason?”
AG: Yes. That’s a great question. Yes. That was actually my first major book. You may note that I was trained in logic at Brandeis University. I went into logic, even though as a boy walking in the streets of New York, I just had a vision hit me. My hair was standing up—I was only about 13 or 14—and the next day, I started writing. I knew nothing about philosophy. “Seek the light. Walk in the universal light.” I started writing this down and didn’t know what it meant. Years later, I went on to psychology and engineering first, [and] my psychology professor said, “You don’t belong here; you should be in philosophy.” I was asking about the psyche and the soul, and he said, “These are not questions that empirical scientists ask.” So I went into philosophy and when I got there—cutting my classes at City College of New York—I realized that, if [was] going to be a philosopher and a lover of wisdom (philosophia means “lover of Sophia), I’m going to have to learn analytic philosophy because that dominated the whole scene in America. And analytic philosophy meant logic.
So, I became a logician in my early years, even though I was seeking this universal light—which turned out to be the logos and logosophia. That was clear down the road. But as an early logician—logic is the science of reason. The laws of thought and logic. That’s where I was trained, and I saw that modern mathematical logic was whole breakthrough that revolutionized logic and it now dominated the scene in philosophy. Mathematical logic rejected Aristotle’s syllogistic logic, [which] shaped European consciousness for two thousand years. That was being dumped and rejected as Ptolemaic and old-school.
My mentor at Brandeis—of whom I was his assistant—[was] a genius [named] Professor Fred Sommers, who had just discovered a missing calculus in Aristotle’s logic to revolutionize the classical logic. And I got caught between the two logics. Mathematical new logic and the classical logic coming from Plato and Aristotle and Sophocles. And I realized, “My God! Logic is polarized. It’s two alternative ways of reason. And reason must be broken.” That’s why Socrates drank hemlock—because he was trying to show his colleagues that reason is coherent. There is a logos. There is a coherent unified logic.
I was struck at the start of my career to discover a polarity in the heart of logic and reason. It was three years later, after being at Haverford (back in ’68), I went on my first leave and I went to India for the first time to leave philosophy and do music and Sanskrit and just saturate myself in sitar and tabla and take a break. I was lecturing at the University of Pune on my logic findings, and they were fascinated with that. But then I discovered the Bhagavad Gita and that shook me up. Meditative intelligence. And I never really understood that. And then I studied Buddha and I saw Buddha’s great awakening. They, I thought, were trying to solve the polarity problems of single-bracket thought.
I began to see meditating intelligence. Why was I not educated in meditative intelligence in my long training? So, I came back from India and said to my colleagues at Haverford, “Folks, I want to start teaching Hindu thought and Buddhist thought as part of my research in logic.” They were very skeptical and suspicious, but they allowed it. I started doing that. Twenty-five years later, I wrote Meditative Reason because I began to see that single-bracket reason is polarized always, and it’s irreconcilable.
And so the logical polarity, I found, was inevitable—just like alternative geometries. How do you solve the broken structure of reason? It’s got to be coherent. And that took me over decades until the logos. That’s where I began to find the missing grammar of the logos. So, I wrote Meditative Reason—which is almost a paradox to say, because you think meditation is this spooky thing that’s beyond reason and reasoning is this simple, objectified, narrow-minded logic in the box, and that’s certainly not spirituality. To combine those two words in my title was a kind of breakthrough into a deeper dimension of human reason.
TS: Now, when you say you’ve found the “missing grammar of logos,” can you tell me what you mean by that?
AG: Thank you, yes. I began to see as a logician [that] logicians are keen on finding the grammar of thought. It’s almost like a biologist finding the DNA structure. If you could find and decode the structural laws of consciousness—which is what logic is after: the laws of thought, the grammar of thought. The word “grammar” in the philosophy of logic has a profound meaning, not just linguistic. If you can get the code that is structuring meaningful thought—the way we make meaningful, conscious thoughts—where human reason originates. If you can get the grammar of reason, that would be an ultimate human breakthrough.
When the model logicians thought they found the mathematical code, they thought they had finally decoded the missing grammar of reason. They had found the missing logic. But then, what I found was that no, logic was polarized because my mentor found an alternative logic to the mathematical logic. So, we still haven’t found the missing code.
When I began to discover the technology of meditative intelligence—technology that Krishna is teaching Arjuna. He’s teaching him how to enter the Om state, the Om zone. And Buddha is attempting to tell humanity these four noble truths—that humans are suffering in the box. It has a cause—it’s attachment to the mind-operating identity structure, the single-bracket script. The third noble truth is that they have a choice. They don’t have to use that mind-operating process. The fourth noble truth is that we can rehabilitate our intelligence and consciousness through mindful living into the Eightfold Path of all aspects—24/7, of culture—into the Buddha script.
What I began to see was that, in India, they’re fighting out that between the Hindu grammar and the Buddhist grammar. And I’m saying, “Why could that be? How can you have a battle? Now that you’re tapping the meditative intelligence as a source, how can you have Buddhists and Hindus fighting over the alternate grammar?” And then I studied [further] and I saw that Nishida, the great twentieth-century genius [and] founder of the Kyoto School was trying to get the logic of Zen and the logic of the empty field. He was saying that his colleagues were not understanding him. I began working on this for years and began to see there’s got to be a way to get the common ground of this deep space. That’s where I began to see through the geniuses. I would go back to Descartes and say, “Wow! Descartes [was] missing when he went into the zone, into I Am.” He was tapping the logosphere. Everything he said after that was not in the box anymore.
So, I began to listen to Jesus and began to listen to the story of Abraham when Yahweh calls out to Israel, “Love me with all you got, folks. Put me first.” And Abraham has to struggle with, “Do I give up my Isaac?” Which is to say, his metaphor for his agenda and his identity and everything that he valued. “Do I put God above this?”
Everything began to open up in a new light for me once I began to enter into, “What is this deep code of the logos?” Is there a common logos that we can bring yoga and the Buddha and Christ and the Abrahamic tradition and Allah and Sufi wisdom and Quaker wisdom and feminist wisdom and scientific wisdom and Einstein—the unified field—the quest for decoding the language of nature [into]? All of this began to come together in a double-bracket technology that was finally becoming clear to me.
So, that’s really what I mean by “tapping the missing grammar of logos.”
TS: Let me just try this on you: What if someone says, “From my meditative experience, I know what it means to rest in being or rest in stillness. Or you could use a word like ‘the Om zone,’ that’s fine. And there isn’t any thinking going on. There’s no reasoning; there’s no logic or rationality. There’s just a being. And that’s where we meet. Why all this talk about reason and logic? I don’t get that.”
AG: That’s a great question. And you’re in great company with all the mystics, for example, who would give the script away and realize that, “If I talk about it, my meditative stillness is beautiful. It’s nirvanic. It’s blissful. And it’s inviolate. And we’re going to muck it up. Reasoning and logic will interfere with the stillness and bliss I’m feeling.”
The Buddha knew that. Buddha was silent when the disciples were asking metaphysical questions of him. Is there a beginning of time? Does the Buddha exist after death? And Buddha sat still, in silence. That was his mode of speech. He spoke volumes in his silence because he was saying—in his demonstration, his body language, his stillness—to the other listeners that the Buddha is not speaking not because the Buddha is dumbfounded or silenced or shut down, but brilliantly [using] silence as an invitation to silence the ego, reason, logic, and thought. The ego script.
But then, your beautiful point, Tami, is: Why don’t we just remain silent? Can I speak? Can I carry water? Can I chop wood? Can I say, “I love you?” In that stillness, is there a way to speak? Is there a script? Or is the mystic right—that speech will always be dualistic and in the box? That the deepest truth is beyond words and therefore must be honored in silence. That’s a huge tradition, a wonderful tradition.
But, on the other hand, the geniuses also saw that, “In the beginning . . .” is script. The beginning is a word. Word power. And do you mean that it’s beyond speech and writing and verbalization? The answer is no. We need to go deeper to uncover the language of logos. It’s beautiful script.
It doesn’t mean you have to speak verbally in everyday terms. You can hand a flower to a friend. You can look in her eyes and bow. You can use body language. You can make music. My son is a musician, for example, and he has powerful music coming out of his faith. Great musical geniuses tap the musicality of this Akashic field.
The question you’re beautifully asking—and it needs to be asked—is if the ultimate truth is encountered in stillness and silence beyond reason. Or could it be that deep reason—logos as pure reason—flows in coherence and connectivity? And in that stillness, when I see myself in the Other and I see myself in nature—when I see myself in that tree or that flowing water—that flow in the zone, that’s pure speech and language unfolding. The fabric of the field is linguistic. Speech—verbal human speech—is just one download from it. I hope that makes sense.
TS: I’ll ask a further question and see if it helps add a little more fullness to your answer. I know you talk about something you call, “a convergence between faith and reason.” I want to see if I can see better what you mean by that.
AG: Of course, that was a classical divide in the Early-Modern period, [with] Locke and Berkley and Hume and Descartes and the European tradition. The battle between faith versus reason. And Descartes faced that in his meditations. He was treading on difficult, dangerous territory. When, in his meditations, he was a legend to [become] sure that reason can bring us into infinite being and the divine because the Church and the authorities—the realm of faith, the domain of faith—dominated and ruled. If you pressed that on scripture or desecrated Biblical tradition with human reason, it was dangerous.
Philosophers began to see that rationality arises in faith. In other words, there’s faith in the single-bracket self. You can believe in some propositional sentence. “I believe that Jesus is my savior.” “I believe that God exists.” “I believe that God is good.” Our beliefs in the single-bracket are content in the box.
And I can have faith in, or believe, that it’s raining now, right? I can have single-bracket faith. But the geniuses also knew that there’s a deeper faith, which is so profound, when you’re in that stillness that you beautifully articulated, Tami. That is pure faith. That immediate, non-dual, holistic, integral knowing. The I-Thou space where you know the full presence that surrounds you. That is an experiential communion, an intimacy of deep faith. That’s double-bright faith.
Now, reason is precisely tapping the logos. When you’re in the deep stillness of your being and an articulate indent and are experiencing profound interconnectivity within you and around you—with humans and the ecology—that’s the fabric of reason. Reason is the oculus of interconnectivity. It’s the Buddha field, the Christ field, the Yahweh field. So, reason in its mature sense is a field of coherent, integral connectivity. When we experience that, we are in the deepest state meeting the deepest reason.
Kant, for example, saw that we can’t find ethics in the box. We can’t talk about it if it’s in the box. You’ve got to be in the numinal self—and that is rational faith. Rational faith is a knowing that your higher self is with you, and yet you are that higher self, even though you can’t think about it and can’t put it in the box. That’s where our honor code and ethics come from—from that deep inner faith and pure reason. That’s where I find the link between deep faith and deep reason.
TS: That’s helpful. Now, Ashok, I want to make sure that our listeners are receiving takeaways, if you will, from this conversation that are really practical. We live in a time where we know that the world faces so many challenges because we don’t understand each other across borders and boundaries. Where we live with terrorism and racism and prejudice of all kinds. How do we take these philosophical ideas that you’re describing and how do they hit the ground so that we make real changes in the world and generate real results?
AG: Beautiful question. That’s right on. That’s been my passion for years. That’s why I founded the Global Dialogue Institute—precisely to bring the art and technology of deep dialogue into the culture, not only in a classroom but with our folks out in the civic space.
For democracy, let’s say, because the democratic space is deeply compromised and we’re not really communicating across our ideologies and perspectives and interest groups and so forth. “We the people,” the essence of democracy—just to pick out one aspect of a great question you asked—democracy, “We the people,” “E pluribus unum,”—the founding fathers and mothers used that motto. “Out of the many, there is one.” E. Pluribus. Unum. The “unum” is a double-bracket unity, not a single-bracket unity.
And this is huge for the takeaway for people, because if there’s any distilled point you might take away from our conversation, it’s that, “Am I paying attention to the script that I’m living? Do I realize that when I’m talking about things—as beautiful and great as it is that I can talk about anything and everything—that our great teachers have been calling us [for centuries] to step back a bit and watch what mind operating process [we] are using. If you’re talking about it—if you’re living the life of identity, if you’ve made yourself an object—there’s a profound scriptural violence. It has a virus in it. That’s the great message of all the teachers who are trying to help us to up-script, not download.
Really, it comes down to the most immediate things. “Am I really integral within my inner life?” Here I am, a practicing Jew or Christian, but I am also a scientist. And I’m a civic American. And I’m practicing yoga and chanting, “Om.” I’m using feng shui to redesign my life. Across all these borders, are there many meanings in all those different worlds? Or am I one human being? Am I one? Is there an inner dialogue within me? Am I raising my children? Am I raising them uncritically in the culture of boxes that we have, unwittingly and without knowing it because I haven’t paid attention to my lens and my script? [Am I] scripting my kid into boxes that they have to somehow liberate themselves from later—if they’re lucky—with deep therapy and spiritual awakening and meditative therapy to bring themselves into their true selves, their higher selves?
It affects every aspect of our lives, 24/7. In the workplace, am I truly stepping back and listening to the Other? Is the man listening to the woman? Are we really hearing the hearts of the gay people, for example, and not putting our lens on them? Are we really humanizing our space in our culture? Are we opening up our democracy for “We the people” to be a we? Where we pick up on your earlier question: If I can step out of my artificial story in the box about myself, and meet the other person in the field of Rumi, the field of Om—in that open space—[do] I dare to have the courage to do that and open myself to the Other and listen, [speaking] from that space? That would be the space of ethics. That’s the awakened space. That’s where “We the people” will lead—into the space of dialogue.
So, it effects every aspect of our lives, every aspect of our cultures, deep in our education. I have to ask as a teacher—45 years teaching at Haverford, founded by the Quakers. Which is about this. The Quakers understood [the aspect of] God in every man and woman, and therefore we must stand open for liberal arts to really blossom and never put our lens on the other person. That ethos—to have a classroom, a laboratory where students’ really beautiful minds coming in, but they’ve been so steeped in single-bracket education. In the boxes; in the different fields, all broken apart. How do I open a laboratory space for them to open up and experience this deep dialogue space and taste this Om script? This script of logos? This deeper logic? It really is necessary all through every aspect of our lives and I hope that this is helping you to get a sense of a takeaway.
TS: It is. I’m going to make it one step more personal—which is to know, Ashok, in your own life, are there times where you catch yourself in what you’re calling your “ego-mentalism” and how do you observe that in yourself? How do you catch yourself and what’s the shift that happens?
AG: Beautiful. I mean, my journey as a philosopher, then, is realizing that the double-bracket script—whatever name you use—the logosphere, the sophiasphere has to be lived and embodied. You can’t talk about it. You’ve gotta be it. You’ve got to walk the talk and talk the walk in that script. My life journey has been very painful and challenging at finding the ways it’s been deeply, pre-consciously programmed. In the lens that’s implanted in my mind, that I participated in. At seeking to practice: am I walking the talk? As the Zen master would say, “When you chop wood, chop wood. When you carry water, carry water.” In other words, the heart of wisdom is [to] be here now. Be in presence. Be open. Be in deep dialogue.
What I’ve found in my journey is—I have two generations of children. From my first marriage, I have two daughters. One is 53, and she’s an attorney. The other one is a yoga teacher—she’s 49. [In my second marriage], I was beginning to see the double-bracket culture and sought to raise my second generation in this articulate space of living and breathing the zone, so to speak. So, kind of almost a laboratory comparison in my own life. I began to see that—in many ways—I encoded that objectification of myself. There were things in me, mind and body. I was having a mind-body split. I realized that the double-bracket me would be a mind-body, not a mind versus the body. So I had to practice as an athlete, and all my athletic activities. Can I run in the zone? I’m a runner. Can I really let myself be the running?
I began to see every speck of nature around me. I was objectified. [I was objectifying] other people. Co-workers. My lover was objectified. My sexual life—is she a sex object? Or is she a sacred partner? My own body—am I treating my body a sacred temple, or is it objectified, in the box.
So, yes, my life’s journey has been a deep, ongoing self-revision. Painful, at times—discovering that I had been lodged in the single-bracket, objectifying calculus and technology. To really live the truth and be it is lifelong self-revision and watchfulness and education and learning. That’s the path that I find myself on.
TS: OK, Ashok. One final question: I’d love to know, as a philosopher and inquirer and deep thinker—what’s the question you’re really asking and chewing on now?
AG: Beautiful. I have been deeply invested in seeking to perform a book. I call it the “movie drama script.” It’s called Awakening Global Enlightenment: Our Maturation as a Species. I’ve begun to see as to working with many different leaders—evolutionary leaders, for example—brilliant minds, bestselling authors—to form a group to bring a new consciousness to the planet. Beautiful people who will do a commission on global consciousness—the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, Jane Goodall, many others. A world wisdom council. Many different brilliant people.
What I begin to see is that the most fundamental issue of our evolutionary maturation is moving from the ego-based, monocentric script in the box. Realizing that that has deep implications for generating our crises on the planet and our violence to one another and to ourselves. That the most profound evolutionary script—and our geniuses have been calling us to it for thousands of years—is to up-script into the zone. That that’s a literacy, and we need to get that out. I think that everyday people, as rational beings—because humans are rational beings—we have the capacity for this global enlightenment. It’s not just for some esoteric, small, elite group. We the people have a right to be awakened and step out of the boxes into this deep rationality and literacy of the scripts for our culture. We must do that we great urgency if we are going to be sustainable and thrive together as one human family across our borders.
My main preoccupation is: How would I write, say, a movie script? I’m seeing it as a movie because it’s so powerful. And not as an academic—I don’t want to write a treatise on philosophy. I want to write a script that people will read and, through the reading, will realize the script is transforming and dilating as we go through it. So that—by scripting the narrative of this journey to the ultimate mystery, of decoding and getting the logos code as we’ve never had it before—to see that our well-being and flourishing and sustainability turn on this.
So that’s really my clear focus and priority in my life.
TS: I’ve been speaking with Ashok Gangadean. With Sounds True, Ashok has created a six-session audio learning program called Awakening the Global Mind: A New Philosophy for Healing Ourselves and Our World. Ashok, thank you so much for the work you’re doing and I’m so happy to know that there you are at Haverford, working with students while you’re working on all these other projects simultaneously. You’re still right there in the field, working with young people. It’s beautiful.
AG: Thank you, Tami, so much. You led this conversation beautifully, with beautiful questions. It’s a pleasure to dance with you.
TS: SoundsTrue.com. Many voices, one journey. Thanks for listening.