Durant 1926: From Aristotle to the Renaissance (Francis Bacon)

Reference: The Story of Philosophy

This paper presents Chapter III, Section 1 from the book THE STORY OF PHILOSOPHY by WILL DURANT. The contents are from the 1933 reprint of this book by TIME INCORPORATED by arrangement with Simon and Schuster, Inc.

The paragraphs of the original material (in black) are accompanied by brief comments (in color) based on the present understanding.  Feedback on these comments is appreciated.

The heading below is linked to the original materials.


I. From Aristotle to the Renaissance

When Sparta blockaded and defeated Athens towards the close of the fifth century B. C., political supremacy passed from the mother of Greek philosophy and art, and the vigor and independence of the Athenian mind decayed. When, in 399 B. C., Socrates was put to death, the soul of Athens died with him, lingering only in his proud pupil, Plato. And when Philip of Macedon defeated the Athenians at Chreronea in 338 B. C., and Alexander burned the great city of Thebes to the ground three years later, even the ostentatious sparing of Pindar’s home could not cover up the fact that Athenian independence, in government and in thought, was irrevocably destroyed. The domination of Greek philosophy by the Macedonian Aristotle mirrored the political subjection of Greece by the virile and younger peoples of the north. 

The Greek philosophy and art, and the vigor and independence of the Athenian mind decayed after Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.

The death of Alexander (323 B. C.) quickened this process of decay. The boy-emperor, barbarian though he remained after all of Aristotle’s tutoring, had yet learned to revere the rich culture of Greece, and had dreamed of spreading that culture through the Orient in the wake of his victorious armies. The development of Greek commerce, and the multiplication of Greek trading posts throughout Asia Minor, had provided an economic basis for the unification of this region as part of an Hellenic empire; and Alexander hoped that from these busy stations Greek thought, as well as Greek goods, would radiate and conquer. But he had underrated the inertia and resistance of the Oriental mind, and the mass and depth of Oriental culture. It was only a youthful fancy, after all, to suppose that so immature “and unstable a civilization as that of Greece could be imposed upon a civilization immeasurably more widespread, and rooted in the most venerable traditions. The quantity of Asia proved too much for the quality of Greece. Alexander himself, in the hour of his triumph, was conquered by the soul of the East; he married (among several ladies) the daughter of Darius; he adopted the Persian diadem and robe of state; he introduced into Europe the Oriental notion of the divine right of kings; and at last he astonished a sceptic Greece by announcing, in magnificent Eastern style, that he was a god. Greece laughed; and Alexander drank himself to death.

Alexander, through the force of his armies, may have secured victories in the Orient, but he could not overcome the inertia and resistance of the Oriental mind, and the mass and depth of Oriental culture. 

This subtle infusion of an Asiatic soul into the wearied body of the master Greek was followed rapidly by the pouring of Oriental cults and faiths into Greece along those very lines of communication which the young conqueror had opened up; the broken dykes let in the ocean of Eastern thought upon the lowlands of the still adolescent European mind. The mystic and superstitious faiths which had taken root among the poorer people of Hellas were reinforced and spread about; and the Oriental spirit of apathy and resignation found a ready soil in decadent and despondent Greece. The introduction of the Stoic philosophy into Athens by the Phoenician merchant Zeno (about 310 B. C.) was but one of a multitude of Oriental infiltrations. Both Stoicism and Epicureanism—the apathetic acceptance of defeat, and the effort to forget defeat in the arms of pleasure—were theories as to how one might yet be happy though subjugated or enslaved; precisely as the pessimistic Oriental stoicism of Schopenhauer and the despondent epicureanism of Renan were in the nineteenth century the symbols of a shattered Revolution and a broken France. 

Instead of Alexander influencing the Orient with Greek culture, the Oriental cults and faiths poured into Greece along those very lines of communication which the young conqueror had opened up. 

Not that these natural antitheses of ethical theory were quite new to Greece. One finds them in the gloomy Heraclitus and the ”laughing philosopher” Democritus; and one sees the pupiIs of Socrates dividing into Cynics and Cyrenaics under the lead of Antisthenes and Aristippus, and extolling, the one school apathy, the other happiness. Yet these were even then almost exotic modes of thought: imperial Athens did not take to them. But when Greece had seen Chreronea in blood and Thebes in ashes, it listened to Diogenes; and when the glory had departed from Athens she was ripe for Zeno and Epicurus.

Greek philosophy went from being practical and extroverted to extolling apathy (the apathetic acceptance of defeat) and happiness (the effort to forget defeat in the arms of pleasure).

Zeno built his philosophy of apatheia on a determinism which a later Stoic, Chrysippus, found it hard to distinguish from Oriental fatalism. When Zeno, who did not believe in slavery, was beating his slave for some offense, the slave pleaded, in mitigation, that by his master’s philosophy he had been destined from all eternity to commit this fault; to which Zeno replied, with the calm of a sage, that on the same philosophy he, Zeno, had been destined to beat him for it. As Schopenhauer deemed it useless for the individual will to fight the universal will, so the Stoic argued that philosophic indifference was the only reasonable attitude to a life in which the struggle for existence is so unfairly doomed to inevitable defeat. If victory is quite impossible it should be scorned. The secret of peace is not to make our achievements equal to our desires, but to lower our desires to the level of our achievements. “If what you have seems insufficient to you,” said the Roman Stoic Seneca (d. 65 A. D.), “then, though you possess the world, you will yet be miserable.” 

Zeno (of Citium) founded Stoicism which laid great emphasis on goodness and peace of mind gained from living a life of virtue in accordance with nature.

Such a principle cried out to heaven for its opposite, and Epicurus, though himself as Stoic in life as Zeno, supplied it. Epicurus, says Fenelon, “bought a fair garden, which he tilled himself. There it was he set up his school, and there he lived a gentle and agreeable life with his disciples, whom he taught as he walked and worked. … He was gentle and affable to all men … He held there was nothing nobler than to apply one’s self to philosophy.” His starting point is a conviction that apathy is impossible, and that pleasure—though not necessarily sensual pleasure—is the only conceivable, and quite legitimate, end of life and action. “Nature leads every organism to prefer its own good to every other good” ;–even the Stoic finds a subtle pleasure in renunciation. ”We must not avoid pleasures, but we must select them.” Epicurus, then, is no epicurean; he exalts the joys of intellect rather than those of sense; he warns against pleasures that excite and disturb the soul which they should rather quiet and appease. In the end he proposes to seek not pleasure in its usual sense, but ataraxia—tranquillity, equanimity, repose of mind; all of which trembles on the verge of Zeno’s “apathy.” 

Epicurus, on the other hand, started with the conviction that apathy is impossible, and that pleasure—though not necessarily sensual pleasure—is the only conceivable, and quite legitimate, end of life and action. Both Stoicism and Epicureanism became mainstream after exposure to the Oriental culture.

The Romans, coming to despoil Hellas in 146 B. C., found these rival schools dividing the philosophic field; and having neither leisure nor subtlety for speculation themselves, brought back these philosophies with their other spoils to Rome. Great organizers, as much as inevitable slaves, tend to stoic moods: it is difficult to be either master or servant if one is sensitive. So such philosophy as Rome had was mostly of Zeno’s school, whether in Marcus Aurelius the emperor or in Epictetus the slave; and even Lucretius talked epicureanism stoically (like Heine’s Englishman taking his pleasures sadly), and concluded his stern gospel of pleasure by committing suicide. His noble epic “On the Nature of Things,” follows Epicurus in damning pleasure with faint praise. Almost contemporary with Caesar and Pompey, he lived in the midst of turmoil and alarms; his nervous pen is forever inditing prayers to tranquillity and peace. One pictures him as a timid soul whose youth had been darkened with religious fears; for he never tires of telling his readers that there is no hell, except here, and that there are no gods except gentlemanly ones who live in a garden of Epicurus in the clouds, and never intrude in the affairs of men. To the rising cult of heaven and hell among the people of Rome he opposes a ruthless materialism. Soul and mind are evolved with the body, grow with its growth, ail with its ailments, and die with its death. Nothing exists but atoms, space, and law; and the law of laws is that of evolution and dissolution everywhere. 

No single thing abides, but all things flow.
Fragment to fragment clings; the things thus grow
Until we know and name them. By degrees
They melt, and are no more the things we know.

Globed from the atoms, falling slow or swift
I see the suns, I see the systems lift
Their forms; and even the systems and their suns
Shall go back slowly to the eternal drift.

Thou too, O Earth—thine empires, lands and seas—
Least, with thy stars, of all the galaxies,
Globed from the drift like these, like these thou too
Shalt go. Thou art going, hour by hour, like these.

Nothing abides. Thy seas in delicate haze
Go off; those mooned sands forsake their place;
And where they are shall other seas in turn
Mow with their scythes of whiteness other bays.

To astronomical evolution and dissolution add the origin and elimination of species. 

Many monsters too the earth of old tried to produce, things of strange face and limbs; … some without feet, some without hands, some without mouth, some without eyes. … Every other monster … of this kind earth would produce, but in vain; for nature set a ban on their increase, they could not reach the coveted flower of age, nor find food, nor be united in marriage; … and many races of living things must then have died out and been unable to beget and continue their breed. For in the case of all things which you see breathing the breath of life, either craft or courage or speed has from the beginning of its existence protected and preserved each particular race. … Those to whom nature has granted none of these qualities would lie exposed as a prey and booty to others, until nature brought their kind to extinction. 

Nations, too, like individuals, slowly grow and surely die: “some nations wax, others wane, and in a brief space the races of living things are changed, and like runners hand over the lamp of life.” In the face of warfare and inevitable death, there is no wisdom but in ataraxia,-“to look on all things with a mind at peace.” Here, clearly, the old pagan joy of life is gone, and an almost exotic spirit touches a broken lyre. History, which is nothing if not humorous, was never so facetious as when she gave to this abstemious and epic pessimist the name of Epicurean. 

From Greece, these philosophies were transmitted to Rome where even the Epicurean philosophy was presented stoically. There was evolution and dissolution everywhere.

And if this is the spirit of the follower of Epicurus, imagine the exhilarating optimism of explicit Stoics like Aurelius or Epictetus. Nothing in all literature is so depressing as the “Dissertations” of the slave, unless it be the “Meditations” of the emperor. “Seek not to have things happen as you choose them, but rather choose that they should happen as they do; and you shall live prosperously.” No doubt one can in this manner dictate the future, and play royal highness to the universe. Story has it that Epictetus’ master, who treated him with consistent cruelty, one day took to twisting Epictetus’ leg to pass the time away. “If you go on,” said Epictetus calmly, “you will break my leg.” The master went on, and the leg was broken. “Did I not tell you,” Epictetus observed mildly, “that you would break my leg?” Yet there is a certain mystic nobility in this philosophy, as in the quiet courage of some Dostoievskian pacifist. “Never in any case say, I have lost such a thing; but; I have returned it. Is thy child dead?—it is returned. Is thy wife dead?—she is returned. Art thou deprived of thy estate?—is not this also returned?” In such passages we feel the proximity of Christianity and its dauntless martyrs; indeed were not the Christian ethic of self-denial, the Christian political ideal of an almost communistic brotherhood of man, and the Christian eschatology of the final conflagration of all the world, fragments of Stoic doctrine floating on the stream of thought? In Epictetus the Greco- Roman soul has lost its paganism, and is ready for a new faith. His book had the distinction of being adopted as a religious manual by the early Christian Church. From these “Dissertations” and Aurelius’ “Meditations” there is but a step to “The Imitation of Christ.” 

The exhilarating optimism of Epicureanism also degenerated into the pessimistic acceptance of Stoicism. The next step was Christianity.

Meanwhile the historical background was melting into newer scenes. There is a remarkable passage in Lucretius which describes the decay of agriculture in the Roman state, and attributes it to the exhaustion of the soil. Whatever the cause, the wealth of Rome passed into poverty, the organization into disintegration, the power and pride into decadence and apathy. Cities faded back into the undistinguished hinterland; the roads fell into disrepair and no longer hummed with trade; the small families of the educated Romans were outbred by the vigorous and untutored German stocks that crept, year after year, across the frontier; pagan culture yielded to Oriental cults; and almost imperceptibly the Empire passed into the Papacy. 

With this decay of spirit the Roman Empire passed into the Papacy.

The Church, supported in its earlier centuries by the emperors whose powers it gradually absorbed, grew rapidly in numbers, wealth, and range of influence. By the thirteenth century it owned one-third of the soil of Europe, and its coffers bulged with donations of rich and poor. For a thousand years it united, with the magic of an unvarying creed, most of the peoples of a continent; never before or since was organization so widespread or so pacific. But this unity demanded; as the Church thought, a common faith exalted by supernatural sanctions beyond the changes and corrosions of time; therefore dogma, definite and defined, was cast like a shell over the adolescent mind of medieval Europe. It was within this shell that Scholastic philosophy moved narrowly from faith to reason and back again, in a baffling circuit of uncriticized assumptions and pre-ordained conclusions. In the thirteenth century all Christendom was startled and stimulated by Arabic and Jewish translations of Aristotle; but the power of the Church was still adequate to secure, through Thomas Aquinas and others, the transmogrification of Aristotle into a medieval theologian. The result was subtlety, but not wisdom. “The wit and mind of man,” as Bacon put it, “if it work upon the matter, worketh according to the stuff, and is limited thereby; but if it work upon itself, as the spider worketh his web, then it is endless, and bringeth forth indeed cobwebs of learning, admirable for the fineness of thread and work, but of no substance or profit.” Sooner or later the intellect of Europe would burst out of this shell. 

For a thousand years, under Papacy, there was peace under a common faith exalted by supernatural sanctions. An unvarying creed and dogma controlled the adolescent mind of medieval Europe. It was within this shell that Scholastic philosophy moved narrowly from faith to reason and back again. Even Aristotle’s wisdom was subjugated to uncriticized assumptions and pre-ordained conclusions.

After a thousand years of tillage, the soil bloomed again; goods were multiplied into a surplus that compelled trade; and trade at its cross-roads built again great cities wherein men might cooperate to nourish culture and rebuild civilization. The Crusades opened the routes to the East, and let in a stream of luxuries and heresies that doomed asceticism and dogma. Paper now came cheaply from Egypt, replacing the costly parchment that had made learning the monopoly of priests; printing, which had long awaited an inexpensive medium, broke out like a liberated explosive, and spread its destructive and clarifying influence everywhere. Brave mariners armed now with compasses, ventured out into the wilderness of the sea, and conquered man’s ignorance of the earth; patient observers, armed with telescopes, ventured out beyond the confines of dogma, and conquered man’s ignorance of the sky. Here and there, in universities and monasteries and hidden retreats, men ceased to dispute and began to search; deviously, out of the effort to change baser metal into gold, alchemy was transmuted into chemistry; out of astrology men groped their way with timid boldness to astronomy; and out of the fables of speaking animals came the science of zoology. The awakening began with Roger Bacon (d. 1294); it grew with the limitless Leonardo (145~1519); it reached its fulness in the astronomy of Copernicus (1473-1543) and Galileo (1564-1642), in the researches of Gilbert (1544-1603) in magnetism and electricity, of Vesalius (1514-1564) in anatomy, and of Harvey (1578-1657) on the circulation of the blood. As knowledge grew, fear decreased; men thought less of worshiping the unknown, and more of overcoming it. Every vital spirit was lifted up with a new confidence; barriers were broken down; there was no bound now to what man might do. “But that little vessels, like the celestial bodies, should sail round the whole globe, is the happiness of our age. These times may justly use plus ultra”—more beyond—“where the ancients used non plus ultra.” It was an age of achievement, hope and vigor; of new beginnings and enterprises in every field; an age that waited for a voice, some synthetic soul to sum up its spirit and resolve. It was Francis Bacon, “the most powerful mind of modern times,” who “rang the bell that called the wits together,” and announced that Europe had come of age. 

Ultimately, the improved production, economy and trade opened Europe to the outside world, and the influx of goods and knowledge doomed asceticism and dogma. A new age of achievement, hope and vigor, spirit and resolve began. It was Francis Bacon’s voice that announced  Europe’s coming of age.


SUBJECT CLEARING STEP 9—Subject: Enlightenment

Reference: Course on Subject Clearing

Looking at Buddha and other spiritual masters we wonder, “What is enlightenment?”

Enlightenment is a deep personal realization of the laws underlying our spiritual nature. It seems that subject clearing (especially steps 7 and 8) may speed up the path to enlightenment.

The key to subject clearing is contemplating over the fundamental concepts in any subject and mediating over personal anomalies (doubts and perplexities) until they resolve. The anomalies are discovered when one places different interpretations of the same concept side by side. This is very apparent when one looks at concepts like God and self from different cultures, religions and philosophies.

One may have certainties in a subject when considering broad concepts; but, as one starts to look deeper, doubts and perplexities may arise. As one resolves these anomalies greater certainties are established; but there are always doubts that carry one’s quest forward. Each time a certainty is established it is a point of enlightenment because one simply lights up. Many such points are minor, but some are major, and finally, there may be a point of enlightenment that simply blows one’s mind. Thus, one may accomplish a lot, and still the quest may continue. It is doubtful if the quest for certainty will ever end.


Key Words

Enlightenment, Contemplate, Concepts, Meditate, Anomaly, Interpretation, Emptiness, Certainty, Light up, …


Reading Materials

  1. The Quest for Certainty
  2. Meditation
  3. The Meaning of Enlightenment
  4. Emptiness



To enlighten is to give intellectual or spiritual light to; instruct; impart knowledge to. There may be a major point of enlightenment, such as, the realization of the laws underlying our spiritual nature, but further enlightenment is always a possibility.

To contemplate is to think studiously, or consider deliberately.

Concept has the basic sense something “taken together,” or conceived through thought or imagination. It is an idea or mental picture of a group or class of objects formed by combining all their aspects.

To meditate is to engage in deep thought or contemplation; reflect. See SUBJECT CLEARING STEP 4—The Discipline of Meditation.

An anomaly is something that is perplexing and leads to some doubt. The anomaly fundamentally consists of

  1. A disharmony,
  2. An inconsistency,
  3. A discontinuity.

To interpret is to explain or translate. Interpretation is the action of explaining the meaning of something.

Emptiness is the ultimate reference point from which all phenomena can be understood objectively without any preconceived notion.

Certainty is a firm conviction that something is the case. It is achieved by resolving all known anomalies. There is no such thing as absolute certainty.

Light up
To brighten with animation or joy, as the face or eyes. One lights up as certainties are established.



Reference: Course on The Bhagavad Gita

English Translation By Swami Purohit Swami


Chapter 18


18.1 Arjuna asked: O mighty One! I desire to know how relinquishment is distinguished from renunciation.


18.2 Lord Shri Krishna replied: The sages say that renunciation means forgoing an action which springs from desire; and relinquishing means the surrender of its fruit.


18.3 Some philosophers say that all action is evil and should be abandoned. Others that acts of sacrifice, benevolence and austerity should not be given up.

A fine distinction is being made here between forgoing an action which springs from desire, and surrendering the fruits of action. Shall we abandon all action, or surrender simply the fruits of all action?


18.4 O best of Indians! Listen to my judgment as regards this problem. It has a threefold aspect.


18.5 Acts of sacrifice, benevolence and austerity should not be given up but should be performed, for they purify the aspiring soul.


18.6 But they should be done with detachment and without thought of recompense. This is my final judgment.

Actions, such as, sacrifice, benevolence and austerity, are necessary to purify oneself, since the attainment of static viewpoint is the goal. But such actions should be done with detachment and without thought of recompense.


18.7 It is not right to give up actions which are obligatory; and if they are misunderstood, it is the result of sheer ignorance.


18.8 To avoid an action through fear of physical suffering, because it is likely to be painful, is to act from passion, and the benefit of renunciation will not follow.


18.9 He who performs an obligatory action, because he believes it to be a duty which ought to be done, without any personal desire to do the act or to receive any return – such renunciation is Pure.

Obligatory actions should not be avoided. They must be performed even when they involve physical suffering. One must perform one’s duty without any personal desire to do the act or to receive any return.


18.10 The wise man who has attained purity, whose doubts are solved, who is filled with the spirit of self-abnegation, does not shrink from action because it brings pain, nor does he desire it because it brings pleasure.


18.11 But since those still in the body cannot entirely avoid action, in their case abandonment of the fruit of action is considered as complete renunciation.


18.12 For those who cannot renounce all desire, the fruit of action hereafter is threefold – good, evil, and partly good and partly evil. But for him who has renounced, there is none.

A person becomes wiser as he resolves his doubts. The biggest doubt exists on the subject of self. A wise person understands that self is temporary and it can be sacrificed. Such a person understands what action is. He neither shrinks from it because of pain, nor desires it because of gain. When there is action he has no attachment to the outcome of it. He can see that other people regard the fruit of action as good, evil or in-between, but he is indifferent to it.


18.13 I will tell thee now, O Mighty Man, the five causes which, according to the final decision of philosophy, must concur before an action can be accomplished.


18.14 They are a body, a personality, physical organs, their manifold activity and destiny.


18.15 Whatever action a man performs, whether by muscular effort or by speech or by thought, and whether it be right or wrong, these five are the essential causes.

These are the five essential causes which must concur before any action can be accomplished: a body, a personality, physical organs, their manifold activity and destiny.


18.16 But the fool who supposes, because of his immature judgment, that it is his own Self alone that acts, he perverts the truth and does not see rightly.


18.17 He who has no pride, and whose intellect is unalloyed by attachment, even though he kill these people, yet he does not kill them, and his act does not bind him.


18.18 Knowledge, the knower and the object of knowledge, these are the three incentives to action; and the act, the actor and the instrument are the threefold constituents.

Self alone does not act as it takes concurrence of natural laws in the form of body, personality, physical organs, their manifold activity and destiny, for any action to be accomplished. For example, the killing of people takes more than just self—it takes pride and attachment. The incentives to action consist of knowledge, the knower and the object of knowledge, And the action itself consists of the act, the actor and the instrument.


18.19 The knowledge, the act and the doer differ according to the Qualities. Listen to this too:


18.20 That knowledge which sees the One Indestructible in all beings, the One Indivisible in all separate lives, may be truly called Pure Knowledge.


18.21 The knowledge which thinks of the manifold existence in all beings as separate – that comes from Passion.


18.22 But that which clings blindly to one idea as if it were all, without logic, truth or insight, that has its origin in Darkness.

This is beautiful. Pure knowledge is seeing the One Indivisible, which is also indestructible, in all separate lives. This is the recognition of ultimate Self. When one thinks that there are separate selves in each body, that idea comes from Passion. And when one is fixed in that view without logic, truth or insight, then, it has its origin in Darkness. These are the three Qualities of Knowledge.


18.23 An obligatory action done by one who is disinterested, who neither likes nor dislikes it, and gives no thought to the consequences that follow, such an action is Pure.


18.24 But even though an action involve the most strenuous endeavour, yet if the doer is seeking to gratify his desires, and is filled with personal vanity, it may be assumed to originate in Passion.


18.25 An action undertaken through delusion, and with no regard to the spiritual issues involved, or the real capacity of the doer, or to the injury which may follow, such an act may be assumed to be the product of Ignorance.

Actions may also be categorized as above per the three Qualities (Gunas). A pure action is meticulously done for its own sake. One is bound to the results when the action is carried out of passion. And the action, which is the product of ignorance, is simply delusory and injurious.


18.26 But when a man has no sentiment and no personal vanity, when he possesses courage and confidence, cares not whether he succeeds or fails, then his action arises from Purity.


18.27 In him who is impulsive, greedy, looking for reward, violent, impure, torn between joy and sorrow,it may be assumed that in him Passion is predominant.


18.28 While he whose purpose is infirm, who is low-minded, stubborn, dishonest, malicious, indolent, despondent, procrastinating – he may be assumed to be in Darkness.

These verses differentiate the doer according to the three Qualities. A pure doer has no attention on himself or on the idea of success; he courageously and confidently does what he must. A passionate doer has attention on himself and on succeeding; he is driven by his desires and emotions. An ignorant doer is not sure of what he wants to do; he is low-minded, dishonest, lazy, uncaring, etc.


18.29 Reason and conviction are threefold, according to the Quality which is dominant. I will explain them fully and severally, O Arjuna!


18.30 That intellect which understands the creation and dissolution of life, what actions should be done and what not, which discriminates between fear and fearlessness, bondage and deliverance, that is Pure.


18.31 The intellect which does not understand what is right and what is wrong, and what should be done and what not, is under the sway of Passion.


18.32 And that which, shrouded in Ignorance, thinks wrong right, and sees everything perversely, O Arjuna, that intellect is ruled by Darkness.

These verses differentiate intellect according to the three Qualities. A pure intellect correctly sees what is there. A passionate intellect’s view is colored by his passion. An ignorant intellect sees everything perversely thinking right to be wrong.


18.33 The conviction and steady concentration by which the mind, the vitality and the senses are controlled – O Arjuna! They are the product of Purity.


18.34 The conviction which always holds fast to rituals, to self-interest and wealth, for the sake of what they may bring forth – that comes from Passion.


18.35 And that which clings perversely to false idealism, fear, grief, despair and vanity is the product of Ignorance.

These verses differentiate one’s conviction according to the three Qualities. The conviction and steady concentration by which the mind, the vitality and the senses are controlled, are the product of Purity. The conviction which always holds fast to rituals, to self-interest and wealth, for the sake of what they may bring forth, comes from Passion. And that which clings perversely to false idealism, fear, grief, despair and vanity is the product of Ignorance.


18.36 Hear further the three kinds of pleasure. That which increases day after day delivers one from misery,


18.37 Which at first seems like poison but afterwards acts like nectar – that pleasure is Pure, for it is born of Wisdom.


18.38 That which as first is like nectar, because the senses revel in their objects, but in the end acts like poison – that pleasure arises from Passion.


18.39 While the pleasure which from first to last merely drugs the senses, which springs from indolence, lethargy and folly – that pleasure flows from Ignorance.

These verses differentiate pleasure according to the three Qualities. Pure pleasure increases day after day and delivers one from misery. It may be hard on the senses at first, but it evolves one toward greater skills, as it is born out of wisdom. The pleasure arising from Passion is always pleasing to the senses, but the outcomes are always disharmony, break ups or conflicts. The pleasure arising from Ignorance merely drugs the senses because it consists of indolence, lethargy and folly.


18.40 There is nothing anywhere on earth or in the higher worlds which is free from the three Qualities – for they are born of Nature.


18.41 O Arjuna! The duties of spiritual teachers, the soldiers, the traders and the servants have all been fixed according to the dominant Quality in their nature.

The three Qualities (Purity, Passion and Ignorance) are part of natural, spiritual Laws. They apply to everything and everybody. The dominant Quality defines a spiritual teacher, a soldier, a trader and a servant.


18.42 Serenity, self-restraint, austerity, purity, forgiveness, as well as uprightness, knowledge, wisdom and faith in God – these constitute the duty of a spiritual Teacher.


18.43 Valour, glory, firmness, skill, generosity, steadiness in battle and ability to rule – these constitute the duty of a soldier. They flow from his own nature.


18.44 Agriculture, protection of the cow and trade are the duty of a trader, again in accordance with his nature. The duty of a servant is to serve, and that too agrees with his nature.

These verses describe the duties of a spiritual teacher, a soldier, a trader and a servant. This spectrum of duties is required for a human society to function. Such duties are natural. They are also part of the natural law. Every person takes up these duties at various times in his or her life, though one of these may dominate.


18.45 Perfection is attained when each attends diligently to his duty. Listen and I will tell you how it is attained by him who always minds his own duty.


18.46 Man reaches perfection by dedicating his actions to God, Who is the source of all being, and fills everything.


18.47 It is better to do one’s own duty, however defective it may be, than to follow the duty of another, however well one may perform it. He who does his duty as his own nature reveals it, never sins.


18.48 The duty that of itself falls to one’s lot should not be abandoned, though it may have its defects. All acts are marred by defects, as fire is obscured by smoke.

It is one’s nature that determines one’s duty and one must follow it diligently, dedicating his actions to God. This is how one attains perfection. Sin lies in neglecting one’s duty and performing the duty of another.


18.49 He whose mind is entirely detached, who has conquered himself, whose desires have vanished, by his renunciation reaches that stage of perfect freedom where action completes itself and leaves no seed.


18.50 I will now state briefly how he, who has reached perfection, finds the Eternal Spirit, the state of Supreme Wisdom.

Perfection is the static viewpoint that is viewing everything objectively without being influenced. It lets everything happen per the natural laws. It does not interfere. It does not react. It considers everything for what it is. It does not color anything. Herein lies the Eternal Spirit, the state of Supreme Wisdom.


18.51 Guided always by pure reason, bravely restraining himself, renouncing the objects of sense and giving up attachment and hatred;


18.52 Enjoying solitude, abstemiousness, his body, mind and speech under perfect control, absorbed in meditation, he becomes free – always filled with the spirit of renunciation.

After attaining the static viewpoint one is guided by pure reason, or according to the resolution of anomalies in real time. He uses the sense-objects, senses and feelings simply for the information they provide and does not get fixated on them. Thus, he enjoys solitude; he is well-restrained; he eats and drinks sparingly; his thinking, actions and speech are under perfect control; he is attentive to everything around him. He is free because he does not let anything bind him.


18.53 Having abandoned selfishness, power, arrogance, anger and desire, possessing nothing of his own and having attained peace, he is fit to join the Eternal Spirit.


18.54 And when he becomes one with the Eternal, and his soul knows the bliss that belongs to the Self, he feels no desire and no regret, he regards all beings equally and enjoys the blessing of supreme devotion to Me.


18.55 By such devotion, he sees Me, who I am and what I am; and thus realising the Truth, he enters My Kingdom.

Selfishness, power, arrogance, anger, desire and the sense of personal ownership, are human traits and are marks of human misery. Such traits fall off when the person attains the Static Viewpoint. He attains inner peace and happiness and regards all beings equally. He feels one with the universe.


18.56 Relying on Me in all his action and doing them for My sake, he attains, by My Grace, Eternal and Unchangeable Life.


18.57 Surrender then thy actions unto Me, live in Me, concentrate thine intellect on Me, and think always of Me.


18.58 Fix but thy mind on Me, and by My grace thou shalt overcome the obstacles in thy path. But if, misled by pride, thou wilt not listen, then indeed thou shalt be lost.


18.59 If thou in thy vanity thinkest of avoiding this fight, thy will shall not be fulfilled, for Nature herself will compel thee.


18.60 O Arjuna! Thy duty binds thee. From thine own nature has it arisen, and that which in thy delusion thou desire not to do, that very thing thou shalt do. Thou art helpless.


18.61 God dwells in the hearts of all beings, O Arjuna! He causes them to revolve as it were on a wheel by His mystic power.


18.62 With all thy strength, fly unto Him and surrender thyself, and by His grace shalt thou attain Supreme Peace and reach the Eternal Home.


18.63 Thus have I revealed to thee the Truth, the Mystery of mysteries. Having thought it over, thou art free to act as thou wilt.


18.64 Only listen once more to My last word, the deepest secret of all; thou art My beloved, thou are My friend, and I speak for thy welfare.


18.65 Dedicate thyself to Me, worship Me, sacrifice all for Me, prostrate thyself before Me, and to Me thou shalt surely come. Truly do I pledge thee; thou art My own beloved.


18.66 Give up then thy earthly duties, surrender thyself to Me only. Do not be anxious; I will absolve thee from all thy sin.


18.67 Speak not this to one who has not practised austerities, or to him who does not love, or who will not listen, or who mocks.


18.68 But he who teaches this great secret to My devotees, his is the highest devotion, and verily he shall come unto Me.


18.69 Nor is there among men any who can perform a service dearer to Me than this, or any man on earth more beloved by Me than he.


18.70 He who will study this spiritual discourse of ours, I assure thee, he shall thereby worship Me at the altar of Wisdom.


18.71 Yea, he who listens to it with faith and without doubt, even he, freed from evil, shalt rise to the worlds which the virtuous attain through righteous deeds.


18.72 O Arjuna! Hast thou listened attentively to My words? Has thy ignorance and thy delusion gone?


18.73 Arjuna replied: My Lord! O Immutable One! My delusion has fled. By Thy Grace, O Changeless One, the light has dawned. My doubts are gone, and I stand before Thee ready to do Thy will.”


18.74 Sanjaya told: “Thus have I heard this rare, wonderful and soul-stirring discourse of the Lord Shri Krishna and the great-souled Arjuna.


18.75 Through the blessing of the sage Vyasa, I listened to this secret and noble science from the lips of its Master, the Lord Shri Krishna.


18.76 O King! The more I think of that marvellous and holy discourse, the more I lose myself in joy.


18.77 As memory recalls again and again the exceeding beauty of the Lord, I am filled with amazement and happiness.


18.78 Wherever is the Lord Shri Krishna, the Prince of Wisdom, and wherever is Arjuna, the Great Archer, I am more than convinced that good fortune, victory, happiness and righteousness will follow.


DIANETICS: Keying-in the Engram

Reference: Hubbard 1950: Dianetics TMSMH

These are some comments on the chapter “Keying-in the Engram” from  DIANETICS: THE MODERN SCIENCE OF MENTAL HEALTH.


Comments on
Keying-in the Engram

The aberrations and the psychosomatic illness of the organism persist simply because their source not known. The individual attributes his troubles to certain known incidents, because he cannot perceive the actual source—the hidden engrams. He does so because the known incidents are the key-ins.

The key-in is a mild incident that activates a dormant engram. 

The engram was received some time in the past. But it was dormant waiting to be processed. Now it is activated by an incident that contains something similar to the content of the engram. There could  be many more similar incidents, but none of them are the source of his troubles. The individual is not “conditioned” to act in a certain way because of these “memories.” All such incidents stay in his memory only because of the hidden engram. Nothing short of the processing of the hidden engram shall handle his troubles. When the engram is finally processed and assimilated, all these troubling memories also go away and become a part of experience..

The conscious level incidents described as the causes of trouble, are never the actual cause.

A person may spend an entire youth without displaying any aberration. Then a normal event, such as, marriage and having children, takes place. And, suddenly, we find him acting in a very abberated manner. Maybe something happened when he was weary or ill, that keyed-in the first engram. This may then have the effect of keying-in more engrams. 

We are looking at a key-in when a sudden decline occurs without a traumatic incident present.

Any operation under anaesthetic, any drugging, or hypnotizing of a patient may bring about the keying-in of engrams. Any time the body is tired and weary, an engram may be keyed-in. It is possible that a new engram may key-in old engrams. Engrams are timeless things unless they are arranged properly on the time track. 

These conscious-level experiences are at best guide-posts leading toward the actual seat of trouble.

Corporal punishment shuts down the consciousness to some extent. It restimulates old punishments as minor engrams, which rest usually on major engrams. Punishment only causes reactions, which take one of five forms: attack, flee, avoid, neglect or succumb. Man is usually quite resilient  and acts rationally in spite of engrams. But only when the law of affinity begins to be broken and becomes part of engrams, do human beings become a punishment source and make matters worse in the long run.

Keep up the punishment cycle and the prisons will get more numerous and more full.

The cycle begins with a large number of engrams before birth. It gathers more in the dependent and rather helpless condition post-birth. Punishments of various kinds during childhood key-in the engrams. New engrams enter that also involve the earlier ones. Similar incidents accumulate. Illness occur, and aberrated actions set in.

Short of processing the engrams, some relief may be brought about through environmental change, education and physical treatment. 



The next ten axioms of Dianetics are also presented here. These axioms were put together by Hubbard to demonstrate the preciseness of Dianetics. Revisions are proposed based on consistency with Buddhism.

DN AXIOM 131: Any counter-effort received into a control center is always accompanied by all perceptics.

The force of impact which gives the pc an engram is a counter-effort. The perceptics are the sense messages that arrive at the mental matrix from the sense organs but they are difficult to assimilate.


DN AXIOM 132: The random counter-efforts to an organism and the intermingled perceptions in the randomity can re-exert that force upon an organism when restimulated.

DEFINITION: Restimulation is the reactivation of a past counter-effort by appearance in the organism’s environment of a similarity toward the content of the past randomity area.

The engram of random counter-efforts stays in a holding area when it cannot be assimilated in the mental matrix. Similar perceptics when they arrive from the environment and get assimilated, may form a bridge to the engram. That allows the counter-efforts of the engram to enter the mental matrix and impinge on the organism. This mechanism is called restimulation.


DN AXIOM 133: Self-determinism alone brings about the mechanism of restimulation.

Self-determinism is the function of the mental matrix. Restimulation occurs because perceptics similar to the counter-effort are active in the mental matrix. The unassimilated counter-efforts simply ride on them and appear to be coming from the perceptics within the mental matrix.


DN AXIOM 134: A reactivated area of the past randomity impinges the effort and the perceptions upon the organism.

Counter-effort reactivated by the presence of similar activated content in the mental matrix then impinges upon the organism


DN AXIOM 135: Activation of a randomity area is accomplished first by the perceptions, then by the pain, finally by the effort.

The perceptions are those from the environment and not from the engram, but then pain is from the reactivation of the counter-efforts in the engram. These counter-efforts also modify the effort of the organism.


DN AXIOM 136: The mind is plastically capable of recording all efforts and counter-efforts.

The perceptics from environment remain as recordings until they are assimilated in the mental matrix. The force of the counter-effort remains as long as they are not completely assimilated.


DN AXIOM 137: A counter-effort accompanied by sufficient (enrandomed) force impresses the facsimile of the counter-effort personality into the mind of an organism.

The unassimilated perceptics of the counter-effort contain the impressions of personalities involved in the engram. The force that impinges on he organism through the mental matrix contains the impressions of these personalities that color the “I” of the mental matrix.


DN AXIOM 138: Aberration is the degree of residual plus or minus randomity accumulated by compelling, inhibiting or unwarranted assisting of efforts on the part of other organisms or the physical (material) universe.

Aberration is caused by what is done to the individual, not what the individual does, plus his self-determinism about what has been done to him.

Other organisms and the physical universe are part of the environment. Therefore, efforts and counter-efforts cause plus and minus randomity that appear as misalignments in the efforts of the organism. These misalignments are the aberrations displayed by the organism. The mental matrix, with the engramic contents not assimilated cannot do anything about these aberrations. The only solution is the assimilation of the engramic content. 


DN AXIOM 139: Aberrated behavior consists of destructive effort toward prosurvival data or entities on any dynamic, or effort toward the survival of contrasurvival data or entities for any dynamic.

Aberrated behavior is not targeting anybody or anything. It is simply irrational and disorderly.


DN AXIOM 140: A valence is a facsimile personality made capable of force by the counter-effort of the moment of receipt into the plus or minus randomity of unconsciousness.

A valence is the coherence among counter-efforts, which appears as a “personality”. It forms a package of coherent perceptions that cannot be aligned with the mental matrix. The original “personality” of the mental matrix  is aligned with the natural laws, but a valence is not. The surrounding universal matrix represents those natural laws.


Summary of Axioms

The force of impact which gives the pc an engram is a counter-effort. The perceptics are the sense messages that arrive at the mental matrix from the sense organs but they are difficult to assimilate. They remain a holding area as an engram. Similar sense messages when they arrive from the environment and are assimilated, may form a bridge to the engram. That allows the force of the engram to enter the mental matrix and impinge on the organism. This is restimulation.

Restimulation occurs because sense messages similar to the engram have access to the mental matrix. The force of the unassimilated engram simply rides on them and appears to be coming from the mental matrix itself. Therefore it appears as something self-determined. The perceptions are those from the environment and not from the engram, but then pain is from the engram, and its force modifies the effort of the organism.

The sense messages from environment remain as recordings until they are assimilated in the mental matrix. The force of the engram continues to ride on them. The unassimilated engram contain the impressions of personalities involved in the traumatic incident. The force that impinges on he organism contains the impressions of these personalities that color the “I” of the mental matrix.

Other organisms and the physical universe are part of the environment. Through restimulation, they cause misalignments in the efforts of the organism that appear as aberrations. The mental matrix cannot do anything about these aberrations short of assimilating the engramic content. The aberrated behavior is not really intentional. It is simply irrational and disorderly.

A valence is part of the force from the engram, which appears as a “personality”. The original “personality” of the mental matrix is aligned with the natural laws of the surrounding universal matrix, but a valence is not.


SUBJECT CLEARING STEP 8—Subject: Unwanted Condition

Reference: Course on Subject Clearing

Unwanted condition is probably the most intimate subject to clear. An unwanted condition is something that persists and does not go away. It may be described in terms of life events on which the person’s attention dwells often. These life events are often those that are somehow connected to some trauma. It takes a review of related life events to process them completely.

A life events happens in one’s environment. The environment is continually sensed through sense organs. The sensations are continually transmitting to the mind. The mind breaks the sensations down into fine elements. These elements are then assimilated in a mental matrix. Until these sensations are assimilated, there are no perceptions of the environment. Perceptions arise through the process of assimilation.

When a person receives a trauma, the sensations generated are very chaotic as they consist of shock and confusion. Such traumatic sensations are difficult to break down into fine elements in real time. Therefore, they are not assimilated in the mental matrix, and thus, never converted into perceptions. Therefore, unconsciousness occurs during a trauma. The traumatic sensations are placed in a holding area for later processing.

Later, when the mind is considering the situation, the memory reconstructs perceptions from the mental matrix. But the perception of actual trauma is not available. The traumatic sensations are still waiting to be broken down into fine elements and assimilated. Such sensations appear only as pain and discomfort.

Pain and discomfort from unwanted conditions, therefore, are indications of unprocessed traumatic sensations. The processing requires a closer examination of related life events. A life event may be identified as described in the glossary below. 

NOTE #1: In subject clearing, the subject of Unwanted Condition follows the subject of Self, because it is only after some understanding of self can you really start clearing up your unwanted conditions for good.

NOTE #2: The content of this document are just to get you started. You should continue the subject clearing on your own exploring other theories and methods until you achieve the clarity that you are looking for.


Key Words

Unwanted Condition, Environment, Sense Organ, Sensation, Mental Matrix, Perception, Memory, Trauma, Traumatic sensation, Life event, Anomaly, … (Life events as “key words”) …


Reading Materials

  1. Mind: The Matrix Model
  2. The Mind as a Matrix
  3. The Basics of Meditation



Unwanted Condition
These are conditions, such as, anxiety, depression, loneliness, and illnesses that seem to persist. They start to resolve as traumatic sensations are finally assimilated.

The environment is “the aggregate of the conditions in which a person or thing lives”; the natural world.

Sense organ
A specialized bodily structure that senses the environment and conveys those sensations to the mind.

Sensations are generated continuously as the sense organs interact with the environment. The sensations are transmitted to the mind where they are broken down into fine elements. Until then the sensations exist in a literal “picture” form.

Mental matrix
The mental matrix is a knowledge repository where the sensations from the sense organs are assimilated after being broken down into fine elements.  

Perceptions arise only after the sensations from sense organs get assimilated into the mental matrix, and not before.

Memory is a reconstruction of original perceptions from the assimilated matrix elements. Memory is reconstructed automatically when needed for consideration. 

A life event may contain a trauma. The basic sense of trauma is “wound.” The general meaning of trauma is “a body wound or shock produced by sudden physical injury, as from violence or accident.”

Traumatic Sensation 
These are sensations of shock and confusion that are too intense to be assimilated in real time. Therefore, they do not get converted into perceptions and the organism appears to be unconscious for the duration of such sensations. The sensations remain in a holding area in the form of a “literal recording” waiting to be processed.

Pain and Discomfort
Traumatic sensations appear as pain and discomfort until they are assimilated and converted into perceptions.

Life Event
A life event is some event that occurred on which a person’s attention dwells often. There is some anomaly associated with that event that needs to be resolved. A life event may be identified by age, location and season. It may be described by the dominating thought, emotion, effort and the anomaly associated with it. For example,

  1. Age: 3 years and 6 months (03-06), 
  2. Location: New Orleans, 
  3. Season: summer 
  4. Thought: birds 
  5. Emotion: happiness
  6. Effort: running
  7. Anomaly: Attention is fixed on a scene

An anomaly is something that is perplexing and leads to some doubt. The anomaly fundamentally consists of

  1. A disharmony,
  2. An inconsistency,
  3. A discontinuity.


Processing the Unwanted Condition

An unwanted condition may be processed as follows:

  1. Treat the “unwanted condition” as a subject.
  2. Treat the life events related to that unwanted condition as “key words.”
  3. Arrange all related life events in the time sequence that they occurred in your life.
  4. Scan over the anomalies connected with these life events.
  5. Start meditating over the anomalies in the order attention goes to them. See Subject Clearing Step 4.
  6. During the meditation, If more life events come to mind, then add them to the list. 
  7. Continue the meditation until the pain starts to break down into fine elements.
  8. Let the assimilation takes place at which point the details of the trauma shall start to appear.

The unwanted condition resolves as the related traumatic sensations get assimilated in the mental matrix.