Roger Weir presents Our New Aion
Roger Weir has taught at University level since 1965 and publicly offered his visionary work in Los Angeles since 1980. The publication of his book Our New Aion is the first blossoming in book form of a vast reservoir of compelling work. Our New Aion was first presented in 1994 as a series of four lectures in commemoration of the death of his daughter Sarah. The work covers four themes and spans traditional wisdom school patterns and their emergence into a future civilization. It draws upon material from the forthcoming books, "Jesus In Alexandria", "Shared Presence Bodhisattvas" and "Hermetic America". The fourth part of the book is about our future civilization, which will span our entire star system. The lectures for Our New Aion were transcribed and updated in 2001 for this publication. Roger Weir came to the Bodhi Tree Bookstore to talk about his book in July 2001. What follows is an edited version of that presentation.
In progressive two-year cycles, and for the past several years, Roger Weir has been teaching every Saturday at the Bodhi Tree Bookstore Annex. Weir’s presentations draw upon a deep sensitivity, insight, and understanding of the entire range of "all that is" and "is-not", from East to West, and from the dawn of the cosmos to the distant future. The presentations are not simple to grasp because they encompass a complex formulation, a high level of vocabulary, and concepts juxtaposed in unusual ways and defined pristinely. However, his lectures are mysteriously compelling and fill you with the sense that you have experienced something unique and valuable. Weir challenges us to listen, read and comprehend in new and transformative ways, to "see" with new eyes and to learn "how to learn" spontaneously. Weir’s teachings may be the key to our survival and successful function in the 21st century and beyond.
All of Weir’s lectures have been recorded, initially on audio cassettes, but starting in 2000, on video cassette as well. Beginning in 2004, lectures are also available in a CD and DVD format. These cassettes may be purchased individually or in complete sets. In addition, sets of audio cassettes are available for other lecture series such as "Hermetic America". Audio cassettes are $10.00 each and video cassettes are $20.00. Please contact the Shared Presence Foundation directly to acquire cassettes or additional information. Shared Presence Foundation: 310-279-9668
A short biography of Roger Weir is presented at the end of the following presentation: About Roger Weir and his visionary teaching.
Roger Weir: When I first started teaching, I learned to lecture pacing, back and forth, and someone said, "Well, this is the pacing tiger school of lecturing and you’re very good at this." And when I started lecturing in Los Angeles in 1980, I had to learn to lecture seated for taping purposes and I didn’t know how to do it. I couldn’t speak. But Manly P. Hall, a person who has made over five thousand spontaneous lectures, sat me down and worked with me for a few days and taught me how to speak with feeling and gestures.
When I first began lecturing from a seated position, I used my hands too much. And during one lecture, I noticed somebody in the front row, a man, and he was doing some kind of hand gesture. So, after the lecture I went up to him and I was going to berate him. He introduced himself as one of the head scientists from Los Alamos and he said, "You know, I was imitating your hand gestures, and as I did that, I could follow what you were saying." So, I’ve longed since stopped judging the way people hear and learn and understand.
This book, Our New Aion is a commemoration of the passing of my daughter, Sarah. It is sort of a male version of Demeter searching for her daughter and trying to find some way to bring her memory or her spirit, her person back into life. And I decided to do a set of four talks around four themes that, for me, have held together for quite a long time.
In 1955 I began to seriously entertain the idea that I might be able to write. My hero in those days was the great science fiction writer, A.E. van Vogt. Van’s science fiction novels encouraged me in the early 1950s to take a very broad view of man, to realize that we’re not just a species but we’re a spirit and that the calibration of the spirit matches infinity, and anything can happen, anything is possible. But the key to it is to be able to learn to grow beyond our limitations. Whatever limitations there are can be put within a parentheses, and the context of that parentheses are further realms which can be discovered. And that started me off.
Of course, from the mid 1950s, for those of you who are old enough to remember them, it was a very surreal time. It was the time when the Cold War was setting in, in a very deep, real way, and yet there was, in this country, in the United States, a curious élan. The late 1950s had a quality of both hauntedness and a lilting, lyrical freedom of person. The rock songs from the late 1950s carry the tone of the way in which Americans alive at that time had this beautiful quality of being ready for the adventure, whatever it was. In face of this haunted tapestry of the Cold War setting in, I was led to begin to investigate the tradition of the United States. Not the textbook tradition, but about the little-known, unsung men and women who in a very real way have always contributed to what we have come to understand as the United States, as distinct from a formal America.
My own family were here for a couple of hundred years, and we went to Southern Illinois with a sheepskin land grant from Andrew Jackson. So I’m one of these American pioneer families. Our family house was the only three-story house in Southern Illinois for a long time. All of my uncles and grandfathers were doctors, and I think I’m the only one in the entire family who was never a doctor. When I was eleven years old, I was taken around the area from Springfield, Illinois to Terre Haute, Indiana down to Vincennes, Indiana, and almost every little town had a Weir doctor, and I was introduced to all of them. The question was always, "Well, where do you want to set up practice? You know, they need something over here in Effingham or they need somebody down there or you could go to Evansville, Indiana. It’s Indiana, but they need good doctors." So, when I was a boy, I was always expected to deal with health. And in our family, American country doctors of the frontier, it was always a question of being of service, not to make money, but to be on call. I can remember being told stories by my great aunt, who lived to be 104, who had raised my grandfather because his father and mother had died, and she said, "You know, your grandfather was the best surgeon in this whole part of the country before you were born, and he was asked to go and head the clinic up in Rochester, Minnesota, but he wouldn’t leave because he said I have my people to take care of." So, I was raised with that in mind.
One of the essays in Our New Aion is called "Hermetic, America." And in dealing with it, I not only tapped my heritage, but I also went to the Huntington Library over in San Marino and I read Benjamin Franklin and Henry Thoreau for a year. They have the original Benjamin Franklin autobiography there, which was never published in this country until more than eighty years after Franklin died. It was published originally in a French translation. One of his sons turned out to be an English Tory and he didn’t want to have the embarrassing Revolutionary Benjamin Franklin on record, and so the original documents were sold and eventually they ended up here in Los Angeles. But while I was researching Franklin and Thoreau, I found that the Huntington also has the original manuscript of Thoreau’s translation from the Greek of Aeschylus, which he did when he was nineteen. I thought to myself, wait-a-minute, nobody is telling us that these are spectacular people. I always thought, well, Thoreau is like a standard parlor classic and you get little snippets in textbooks and this is what it is. So, I took a look. I don’t read Greek, but I have enough of a vocabulary, I could pick it out. And I could see that at nineteen, in Harvard, that Thoreau, 180 years ago, was really somebody. When I got to that realization I thought, what else don’t I know. What else don’t we know. And so "Hermetic America" became a series, a year-long series. I gave fifty-two 90-minute lectures on it. I took certain individuals that fit together into what I used to call a gestalt, but really it’s not a gestalt, it’s a set. I took individuals whose lives, whether they knew it or not, overlapped. The time period that was determined in between phases, in between cycles, like energy cycles of a body, cultures and even civilizations also have energy cycles. I learned to look for the telltale signs of, not the breaks, but where are the defining nodes.
I would make sets of individuals, and I found that in our American tradition, there have been so far five sets of individuals, men and women, and we’re at the end of the fifth set. This last set is very curious because we have had almost no genius. Why it was that for four sets the American genius was, I would say, on a level of the best primordiality that the world has ever seen. We had the most incredible from-scratch geniuses, like Walt Whitman, Thomas Jefferson, or Frank Lloyd Wright. But also individuals like the man that I was raised to regard as one of our own, Abraham Lincoln. And I could remember being taken to Springfield, Illinois when I was about ten, eleven years old and seeing the Lincoln material there and told by one of my great aunts that he’s one of us. This is how we are. And if called upon, we not only serve, but we serve clear through into the end. And so it was just a curiosity to me of why over the last generation the United States has produced no one who is in that ilk. And it’s a very curious thing. And so, "Hermetic America" is a discussion about why we were so great for so long, and the answer as to what has happened to the last generation is yet to be determined.
Another of the essays in Our New Aion is called "Stellar Civilization," and it takes off from my science fiction reading. The earliest book in my library is a book on Flash Gordon with my signature from 1945. I’ve been reading science fiction for almost two-thirds of a century. And it’s an interesting thing to me that as Roethke said of poets that they were the prophets of his time, science fiction writers have been the prophets of our time. And there are four science fiction writers that have always been grouped together as the great Golden Age: A. E. van Vogt, Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov and Theodore Sturgeon. And I was always happy to know both Van and Theodore Sturgeon.
"Stellar Civilization" takes a look at the next 200 years. I think our kind, not just the species, but our kind of people, are not willing to be polarized into a revolutionary, Tory kind of polemic. I think the resolution has always been for our kind to follow a synthesizing pioneer mode to take the adventure further. Sturgeon was famous for signing books using a "Q" with an arrow in it. It was one of Sturgeon’s laws, and I guess you could call it "Sturgeon’s Third Law" — always ask the next question. Don’t be satisfied that you ask a question or that you got an answer, ask the next question. And then he would write sometimes under it "onwards and upwards." There is in the continuing questioning, a kind of an algorithm which does not allow you to settle into being satisfied either with the answer or with the question.
Now the mind being a very complex, organic, analog type computer, has a structure and it has a method of working. The mind, once it gets an answer to a question, tends to pair them together and consider that issue now available for pro and con. This is an illusion, and this is what is meant in classical yoga as "samsara". This is an illusion that the mind creates. Until it’s transformed by consciousness it will only work exactly that way.
In the Western tradition, Plato learning from Socrates who learned from his teacher, who was a woman, Diotima, who learned from Pythagoras, that you do not let the mind set into its confidence-building certainty that it has asked the right question and got an answer and now it can form a viewpoint based on that. In Plato, the word that’s always translated as "dialectic" doesn’t translate as "dialectic" at all. The Greek term "diaresis" means "division." It means keep dividing the issue, and that if you keep the process of inquiry alive and you keep dividing, there will come a series of plateaus of discovery and that after a limited series of plateaus, you will come to a point where the issue cannot be divided into pro and con any further. And Plato says several times in his later dialogues, the Sophist, the Theætetus, that which has no divisibility is called alethia, it’s called truth, because it’s not dividable. Not because a dialectic has synthesized it, but because a differential consciousness is no longer able to separate it and, therefore, this is an element which you can count on to make a composition, and that building from such elements, you can find literally, the old Jewish phrase was, the alphabet of creation.
While we have sputtered in many areas, one area in which we have become almost uncanny is science. We are able to move through ion sculpting, material on the molecular and atomic bases. There are corporations who have written their names with atoms already, and we’re just beginning the twenty-first century.
What’s important and is missing, and is something I’ve been working on for the last thirty-five years. We need to have some kind of a process of learning that takes us from the old pioneer, tribal hunting way of living and brings us into that molecular ion sculpting capacity and does it through phases that make sense emotionally, intellectually, as well as holding in a powered consciousness. And this is a very difficult thing to do. The last time that such an education was attempted and offered was 350 years ago. A man you probably never heard of named John Amos Comenius. He was a Czech. He was looking for a way to put universal philosophy together in the hands of children, grade-school children, from the beginning. And he created the world’s first picture textbook. It was called the Orbis Pictus - The World in Pictures. And it was a graduated series of illustrations that just showed everyday things, but progressively refined the aggregates in the way that they were put together until the child would have reached what we call now the sixth grade, and by that time, the children would have learned through this graduated sense of pictures, how to form images that link together increasingly to lead them to the threshold of being able to see in a very peculiar way. Instead of looking at things, that they would learn finally to make a jump and look at the proportions of things, the ratios of things. It was teaching children how to develop the capacity for rational thought, not through argument, but through graduated ways of looking at images and pictures. It was the world’s first picture textbook, and all the textbooks in the world are great-great-great-grandchildren of that. It was the last time that anyone attempted a universal education.
One of the quotations that I use in my education was an excerpt from a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote to James Madison. At the time, Jefferson was in Paris and Madison was at the Constitutional Convention. Jefferson was discussing with Madison where the guarantees might be for human beings in these high-powered structures that were going to come into shape. And out of that, of course, came the Bill of Rights. But in that same series of letters, Jefferson wrote, "We must trust ultimately in the good sense of the people so that we must take care that their education is real and that they have free access to it. That’s the final guarantee that this will become a Republic in quest of itself and not just another structure available for manipulation." So, as you can see, Our New Aion has a lot of traditional old things and some new things, and some very surprising things.
I never take questions on my Saturday lecturing here at the Bodhi Tree Bookstore Annex. But, I thought this evening I might just open it up and take questions for a little while.
Question: You have developed themes about the end of the American empire and the current civilization cycle. What’s your feeling about the current government?
Weir: I think, briefly, my take is be alert. I think that’s the phrase. I don’t know if you ever were initiated into the old American technique of hunting. But in hunting big game, you have to first get to know the forest before you can hunt. You can’t just go in and hunt the game; you have to know the forest, the terrain, first. Part of the difficulty right now is that the terrain of history is so complex, almost chaotic, that it defies description. And it begs the ability for minds to form pictures about it, and so, one of the difficulties is to re-alert people that there are many ways to deal with these conditions. And the first thing to do is to learn to do that. We can’t do anything in 2001, but by 2012, with an alerted population, we can do anything. Anything at all.
Question: During your Saturday lectures, you never take questions. However, isn’t learning a dialogue process?
Weir: It is in a certain level, but when you’re trying to engender from scratch, it isn’t dialogue at all. I have to tell you a little story. In the ’60s in Berkeley in San Francisco, if you were in the torrential center of the whole thing, it got to be very peculiar, very odd. And where I was at San Francisco State, we had a professor who used to sit barefoot with his feet in a galvanized washtub full of carrots and cabbages. He was conducting a seminar one time on the psychology of gestalt therapy, and it had gotten to a very delicate point to where no one was sure that they wanted to ask a question or offer anything. Everyone just sat there very quietly. And the professor in his habitual way, looked around flashing his eyes. Finally one black gentleman, beautifully dressed in a white shirt and tie, obviously a businessman who had come there, paid good money to get an education, slammed his books down and he stood up and he was enraged. He jammed them into his briefcase and he stomped out of the room. He didn’t say a thing. And after about two or three minutes, Professor Blum said, "We might as well go home. He stole our energy."
Question: You commented on the lack of modern day geniuses. Do you have any theory about why there isn’t?
Weir: I honestly don’t know. I think there is genius in some areas, definitely. But it’s been a long while since we’ve had someone really excellent. When you look at our history and our tradition closely, it’s unbelievable how dozens and dozens and sometimes hundreds of really incredible men and women were busy and how after probably the mid-‘60s, it just seems to have petered out. I remember trying to think of what had happened to me and my companions. For me, I got a job designing a sixteen-course program up in Calgary, Alberta. So, I went to Canada. On the first day of driving, I went from San Francisco, and I drove 900 miles before I stopped. I got to Pocatello, Idaho and I stood in Pocatello about 3:00 in the morning. I don’t know if you’ve ever been there, but around there they have these big stacks that flame off the natural gas from the oil fields, and I stood there in the glow and the glare of that, and I was stunned that I had had so much anger that I would drive 900 miles nonstop. I hadn’t realized that I had held that all that time.
Question: There are some prophecies, such as the Mayan, that point towards 2012 as a pivotal time of change and transformation. What do you feel about these prophecies?
Weir: Time is a very peculiar thing for us. Time is actually the first dimension, not the fourth, and space blossoms out of the way in which time moves. But that construct, that time-space construct, takes transform because time is basically change. And though time seems to us to be a sequence, it is a sequence of change, not of integers, not of items, so that time becomes very mysterious once consciousness comes into play. I’m sure you know the poly exclusion principle. When you’re dealing with a conscious time-space, you have to be very careful about making definitions because they will never hold. Whatever shape you make are always provisional on a partial registry of what is real. And the most difficult thing for us is to realize that while this is true of consciousness, it is like exponentially true of history. History is like a hypersonic form of time. And that’s why we have never successfully navigated it. We do it for a little while, but no civilization has ever lasted on this planet. We are in the place now where the civilization that we grew up, at least we were taught was there, hasn’t been there for some time, and it’s beginning to show now in a very curious way. It means that organizational planning flats out. It just doesn’t have any traction. And by 2005 or so, it’ll become apparent that this is a worldwide crucial problem. Let me leave it there.
Question: Some people talk about computers becoming human like, but when it gets down to it, they don’t have consciousness. How do you feel about computers?
Weir: I think Moore’s law has held so far, with capacity doubling every time period, but computing has been on a polarized basis and there’s a new form coming that’s on a quadrapole logic, and that will change the whole way in which those things work. The changes are going to be more than we’ve had already. It’s an odd thing, but the sense that one can get now is that we have been living on the tail ends of a Neolithic period. Robert Heinlein once said that by 2150, we’ll have the first mature civilization, that none of the civilizations were anything more than just complex tribal constructs.
I remember when my daughter began to use a computer. I think she was in the fifth grade when computers began to really come in for the first time, and all the students were taught computers, and she became so very good at it as all of her friends. It took me quite a while to learn to work with a computer. To them, it was just another arcade game that they could play with. And by the time she was in the eighth grade, it was old hat to her, and I was still trying to adjust myself to it. The younger children coming in now are incredibly adept at manipulation of what we call programs or applications. They just seem to have a sense for it. What they don’t have a sense for is what to do with their character vis-à-vis that, and that’s the big problem. And I think that it is a real issue, and the maturation of character to be able to come into that kind of fast play is really got to be something.
I recently shifted over from a ten-year-old computer to a new one, and I couldn’t believe that 60 gigabytes work so fast. It waits for you to do the next step. And I’m beginning to appreciate that the situation is one not of our speed, but of our ability to compose. It’s a compositional orientation, and I think our sense of certainty is not to outthink computers, but to direct them as tools. They still are tools, oddly enough.
Our New Aion
$22.00. 128 pp. paper. ISBN 9990418438. Shared Presence Foundation
Our New Aion by Roger Weir Roger Weir began his work on the History of Ideas, or as he calls it, "The Yoga of Civilization", in 1955. He has taught at the University level since 1965 and in 1980, began teaching his visionary work in Los Angeles. "Our New Aion" is the first blossoming in book form of a vast reservoir of unique and compelling work. It first took life in 1994 as a series of four lectures in commemoration of the death of his daughter Sarah. The lectures were transcribed and updated in 2001 for this publication. The work covers four themes and spans traditional wisdom school patterns and their emergence into a future civilization. It draws upon material from the forthcoming books, "Jesus In Alexandria", "Shared Presence Bodhisattvas" and "Hermetic America". In the first part, Weir discusses the re-positioning of the central figure of our time, and places Jesus in Alexandria during the "lost years". The second part explores the idea of Bodhisattva, which is key to Mahayana Buddhism and brings it current into the 21st century. The third part deals with the esoteric history of the United States starting with Benjamin Franklin. The fourth part of the book is about our future civilization, which will span our entire star system.
This is not a simple book to read because it uses a complex formulation, a high level vocabulary, and concepts juxtaposed in unusual ways. However it is mysteriously compelling and draws you into it much as you experience a deep meditation.
About Roger Weir and his visionary teaching
Roger Weir has been a lecturer and educator for more than 45 years. He began his work on the "History of Ideas", or as he calls it, "The Yoga of Civilization", in 1955. Based on nature, ritual, mythology, symbolism, vision, art, history, science and consciousness, his yoga reflects his conviction that our civilization, based on ancient Greek and Roman models, is nearly over and for us to survive, something new must emerge. Weir says that no future exists without a real education, one in which there is a comprehensive understanding and disclosure of the natural and supra-natural where the student enters into a living algorithmic form of coming into maturity/wholeness. He emphatically states that we need desperately to develop capacity for freedom and a coming into wholeness. To this end, Weir has devised a unique transformational educational process that progresses and develops in nested cycles.
Weir’s narrative challenges us to learn and understand in new ways. For example, he develops themes of "pairedness", "shared presence" and acts based on the "contemplative spiritual act envisioning the unity so clearly in the individual soul, and using language which impresses it upon the minds of the hearers, that it literally brings it into being". He presents a history of our humanity that includes startling images, symbols, art and science, revealing our most esoteric and sublime visionary wisdom development. Weir proclaims that his teachings may be the key to our survival and successful function in the 21st century and beyond.
"‘Future’ as an existential possibility relies on an extended past, enduring through a present order. Without an extended past, without a present order, no future exists. Even an idea like ‘The Future’ connotes experience and understanding woven into a transmittable continuity, which most certainly is the reality of ‘education’. . . It has long been time to reshape the human personality to a greater fullness, to its original spirit Reality. Persons must be able to live their lives consciously and not be individually dissolved in antiquated cultural systems and doctrines. Liberty of purpose must not be limited ever again to the few." - Roger Weir
In progressive two-year cycles, and for the past several years, Weir has been teaching every Saturday at the Bodhi Tree Bookstore Annex. At the Bodhi Tree, the first two-year cycle of the teaching series was called "Ecumene." It was followed by "The New Aion" (beginning January 1998), "Differential Consciousness" (beginning in January 2000), and then "Stellar Civilization Education" (beginning January 2002). The final series of public talks, called "Interstellar Learning," commenced in January 2004.
"Interstellar Learning", subtitled "A Visionary Education for Our Generations" is a conscious phase-set learning-field ecology. Weir writes, "Over the millennia many errors and misconceptions, deceptions and ideological doctrines have accrued and now not only distort but deny our opportunities for maturity. This cannot continue. We need a new form for learning. One commensurate with all that really founds our planetary humanity and stellar potential. One able to comb through the snarls (even wash and rinse!) so we may emerge resplendent, vibrant in our own unique refined persons. And, find interesting possibilities for sharing and community everywhere we wish to explore." Further, "This is a new form for cycles of education West and East, from the Paleolithic to the Interstellar. Here is presented a special poetic syntax of delivery a new education. This takes its winding-course time to find unheard-of oceans. A learning style that recreates our treasured past (often cut into new jewels) and envisions a promising future as well. The Future and New Past paired! We belong to the Real Cosmos spread vast before us. Enjoy! Learn. Share."
All of Weir’s lectures have been recorded, initially on audio cassettes, but starting in 2000, on video cassette as well. Beginning in 2004, lectures are also available in a CD and DVD format. These cassettes may be purchased individually or in complete sets. In addition, sets of audio cassettes are available for other lecture series such as "Hermetic America". Audio cassettes are $10.00 each and video cassettes are $20.00. Please contact the Shared Presence Foundation directly to acquire cassettes (310-279-9668)
"We must live by the dignity of our spirit and not be seduced by the promised bliss of submergence, however advertised. The tradition of the new, the forms of things unknown require freedom. . . The human personality is protean and unbounded. Its health is not an imitation, however perfect, sweet, brilliant, or traditional, of any model." - Roger Weir