A Great Rejoice: The Meaning and Value of Transcendence for the Contemporary Age

“The Red Thread is not a kind of ancient Truth, nor is it a kind of secret Wisdom,

that is hidden deep within. It rather refers to a very ultimate,

an essence that living originates in, exists in and is sustained by.

It is just beyond thinking, beyond feeling, and beyond any desiring or believing;

beyond affirming and negating.

It is merely ‘What Is’”

– Yoginâm

A socio-cultural environment for transformation

In a previous paper Attuning to a World in Well-Being, I provided an introduction to Nâm, as it has evolved from the life and work of Yoginâm.[i] The vantage point of Nâm is that the human being is by nature a transcendental being, sharing in resonance which is infinite in its multi-layered expressions. One who lives in this realisation will approach living in affirmation of a totality, sharing in essence, an all-inclusive state of openness for what is known, not-known and un-knowable: Peaceful acknowledgement of ‘What Is’.

Yoginâm urges that living in awareness of one’s transcendental nature is a psychological necessity, as a natural aspect of living. Nevertheless, socio-cultural configurations of the modern West overall have lost the transcendental as a living reality, having thrown away the baby with the bath water, in the process of becoming secular.[ii] He finds that many contemporary crises and global problems originate in this dissociation, and urges that when we do not succeed in reintegrating this transcendental orientation into our personal, social and cultural lives, we may gradually loose our humanity.

The purpose of the work of Yoginâm is to help restore this transcendental orientation, by making it accessible in a form, approach and language that fits the cultural environment and mindset of people living in the modern West. While a degree of ignorance of one’s transcendental nature is a starting point at birth, Yoginâm stipulates it is the Task of Human Living to realise this nature, and live life optimally in its light. This is a transition from a state of ignorance to a state of wisdom, from spiritual infancy to spiritual maturity. Nâm is a practice of this Task of Living, for which the circumstances of daily life provide the raw material. 

The state of ignorance is of the ‘separated subject’, experience of being an isolated unit, separated from a world appearing as objective, and that you may allow dictating your reality. Yoginâm speaks of a double Illusion of Separation. The first is that there would be a separation between Awareness and Experience, i.e. between transcendence and daily experience. The second is that there would be a separation between ‘Sense of I’ and ‘Sense of World’, between what I am subjectively, and the world around me. They are a mirror image and resonate in continuity, which Yoginâm expresses by describing the human subject as ‘I/World’:

“I/World is infinitely sharing in all the dimensions that it consists in.

It is an ongoing hallucination of infinite potentiality,

that is being restricted to the human frame of reference.

Being human is a closure of infinite potential.

Ideals, opinions and beliefs are further closures of this closure.”

(The Book of Nâm, p. 61)

I have been witnessing the life and work of Yoginâm evolve for a long time. I believe pursuing a presentation from an anthropological perspective can be of added value, as it may deliver prospects for beneficial directions of mankind. The thought and way of living originating in a transcendental orientation has become of renewed significance for the modern Western man. We may be in need of some support from a modern-day mystic, while it is there.

This study aims to demonstrate this, by elaborating on perspectives from two social scientists. The psychologist Matthias Desmet recently published an intriguing piece of work.[iii] Its subject matter suggests a state of urgency in relation to socio-cultural processes related with the persisting state of the separated subject. The anthropologist Louis Dumont focused on ideologies in anthropological perspective, which helps to complement Desmet. Perspectives of both demonstrate how the transcendental thought and innovations of a type like Yoginâm should be of meaning and value for the contemporary world. I will conclude by describing how these innovations come to expression in some more detail.

The separated subject and Mass formation: perspectives by Desmet

In his book, Desmet exposes some critical deficiencies in the configuration of modern democratic societies. His diagnosis should be of concern to all interested in their resilience.

He perceives processes of totalitarianism evolving in our world, and studies the psychological conditions that make it possible for this to happen, as a socio-cultural process (he distinguishes totalitarianism from classical dictatorships). He finds it is the logical consequence of a certain ideology based in a mechanistic worldview. This is a narrative in which man is reduced to a material organism, ignoring the psychological, symbolic, and ethical dimensions of the human being. An ideology which limits its belief exclusively to the rationalisation of all of life and the universe. This is a cause for various consequences: Man becomes isolated from his fellow man and nature; man stops resonating with the world around him; it turns the human being into an atomised subject.

Desmet describes how during Covid-19, a new totalitarian dynamic evolved. It would seem safe to observe that measures that have been taken are totalitarian in nature, without having to assess whether the circumstances have justified it or not. What has been exceptional is the role of the official narrative. Any diverting views became steadily censored across the spectrum. Media, politics, and other strands of power started speaking explicitly with ‘one voice’, not to be defied. This was an extraordinary transformation taking place for democratic societies.

Desmet qualifies the process taking place amongst the population in a totalitarian scenario as mass formation. This is a kind of group hypnosis that destroys individuals’ ethical self-awareness and robs them of their ability to think critically. Both leaders and masses are subject to the process of mass formation, they hypnotise each other.

There are four conditions for mass formation: Generalised loneliness, social isolation, and lack of social bonds amongst the population; lack of meaning in life; widespread presence of free-floating anxiety and psychological unease; and a lot of free-floating frustration and aggression. I would see these conditions as intimately related with the state of the separated subject.

The process of mass formation sets in the moment there is a ‘suggestion’ in the public sphere, an impulse, a narrative, which creates a sense of renewed interconnectedness amongst the masses (consisting of individuals otherwise existing in relative isolation). The new social bond the narrative creates becomes the driving force, and the truth of it no longer matters. Desmet sees a mounting difference between solidarity of the masses and genuine loving interconnectedness. The former is always at the expense of a particular group; the latter is not. 

States of anxiety play a large role, as the totalitarian process will constantly seek for new objects of anxiety for the masses. This is what unites narratives that generate this anxiety, man constantly being in need of renewed protection from external threats, a non-stop to crises. This shows how the state of separation between subject and objective world is required for this kind of anxiety to have impact. Without this dissociation, there is no anxiety, there is certainty.

There are more who perceive totalitarianism encroaching in lockstep, and some analyse that people in power conspire to shape this process. Desmet discourages conspiracy perspectives, as it draws attention away from the driving force of the process, which is an ideology in play, a way of thinking. He finds that such perspectives contribute to the problem because it makes more nuanced analyses less visible and more prone to stigmatisation.

There has been some criticism on this point. A problem with this topic is that there will be varying degrees of analyses ranging from pure speculation to sound research. There are views that history shows ample examples where people have conspired to shape processes, and that this taking place in the present should not be implausible from this perspective. Nevertheless, here I will follow Desmet’s focus that the primary condition of totalitarianism as a socio-cultural process is the ideology in play.

Desmet suggests that ultimately, we must go beyond the mechanistic ideology in order to come to a substantive sociocultural solution. “The most fundamental change that we as a society have to aim for is not a change in practical terms but a change in consciousness” (p. 148). He highlights how the mechanistic worldview is in fact scientifically outdated.For instance, he provides ample evidence of research which shows how the psychological acts as cause for the physical realm. Our mindset and terms in which we think about reality indeed ‘matter’.

Furthermore, one major problem of a mechanistic way of thinking is the difficulty of grounding ethical principles in it. It is ultimately about being the fittest in the struggle for survival. This ideology sees the universe as a logically knowable, predictable, controllable, and undirected process, a meaningless interaction between dead, elementary particles. While it is actually an open, living and creative universe. Modern science has shown that all things small and large are connected, everything is part of an overarching, complex, and dynamic system. The smallest units of matter may not be objects, in the ordinary sense; they are forms, ideas, potential.

Desmet explains a tension existing within science. On the one hand its development is a steady growth of rational knowledge of obvious value. On the other hand, its course leads to witnessing an a-rational core in things, eluding human understanding. Desmet describes how the greatest scientists have increasingly come to acknowledge a mystical dimension to the universe, as their findings pointed towards something man’s rationality could not fathom.

It makes sense: To approach the universe in its ‘all-ness’, the more you need ‘all’ of your being facilitating the realisation. Just a rational part of you cannot comprehend the whole. This is what mystics have always seen, said and practised. Their expressions are abundant with this notion.

This “a-rational” something is not just a negligibly minor aspect of all things observed, it is the very essence of life, Desmet observes. This illustrates why and how, in a further rationalisation of the world, human beings increasingly feel the essence of life eluding them. Science witnesses that there is some dimension beyond where science, at least traditionally, cannot go. However, at the other side, we may find an awareness, as embodied by the mystics.

Desmet’s book shows that this separated subject permeating the modern West is by no means a marginal glitch. When an ideology rules that reinforces the illusion of the separated subject, by requiring it, the environment becomes susceptible to totalitarian processes. It generates a range of problems and risks for the humane environment. In his assessment of the nature of conditions and potential directions, to an extent Desmet resonates with Yoginâm. In order to make this more meaningful, I will discuss some analyses by Louis Dumont.

Holism and two kinds of Individualism: perspectives by Louis Dumont

Dumont’s work has focused on ideologies understood as ‘systems of ideas and values current in a given social environment’. As an anthropologist, he studied the cultural configuration of India. Then he used those insights to reflect back on Western culture, looking at ourselves in perspective, which he considered a primary task of cultural anthropology.[iv]

His leading views concern the juxtaposition of holism and individualism. Holism is a cultural configuration where the main value is with the ‘whole’ that people collectively share in. One lives in reference of this whole, in this world there is no ‘individual’ as a distinct value.

Individualism represents a system, where the dominating value is the Individual. The man in the world is not a subject within a larger whole, he is his own unit of meaning and value. In this sense, Dumont distinguishes two meanings of the word ‘individual’. One is the empirical subject that every human being is. The second is the individual as a category of value, an expression of an ideology, modern Western ideology. He figures individualism to be an exception, both cross-culturally and historically, and holism to represent the common type.

Holistic cultures and societies of course have different forms and expressions, they are not homogeneous, yet there will be similar ideas and values. For example, Dumont qualifies holism as characterised by a primacy of relations-between-men, while individualism is characterised by a primacy of relations-between-men-and-things.

In the holistic configuration of traditional India, Dumont did identify a kind of individual, however he is different from the modern individual. He is the renouncer, one who leaves the social world, to dedicate himself to the transcendental life. This way was integrated in India’s holism. While going his path makes this type an individual, all his efforts go into transcending it; “the man who is after ultimate truth forgoes social life and its constraints to devote himself to his own progress and destiny. When he looks back at the social world, he sees it from a distance” (p. 25). Dumont identifies that this man has been responsible for all innovations in religion that India has seen, thus facilitating its holistic scope.

Importantly, a holistic configuration has a transcendental dimension integral to it. This means that finally, the social collective is not the highest value, the transcendental sphere is. This could be represented by, for example, Dharma.

Dumont qualifies the Indian type as an outworldly individual, and the modern individual as an inworldly individual. He sees a yawning gap between the two. In his study on the origins of modern individualism, the problem is how, starting from the common type of holistic societies, a new type has evolved that basically contradicts the common conception.[v] His thesis is: “If individualism is to appear in a society of the traditional, holistic type, it will be in opposition to society and as a kind of supplement to it, that is, in the form of the outworldly individual” (p. 26).

He surmises that a form of outworldly individualism was present with the first Christians and the surrounding world. This was expressed for instance in the notion that all men are equal in God, man is an ‘individual-in-relation-to-God’. Dumont finds that the old form and the new are separated by such a radical and complex transformation, that it took seventeen centuries to be completed. It is a transformation where Christianity over centuries transforms from an outworldly to an inworldly orientation.

“The main lesson upon which to meditate is perhaps that the most effective humanization of the world has issued in the long run from a religion that subordinated it most strictly to a transcendent value” (p. 52). At this point, we may recall Yoginâm stating that a process of dehumanisation may follow when a transcendent value is discarded all together.  

On a potential of transforming from individualism to holism in a modern environment

Any society may need a healthy dose of holism to rely on natural connectedness and cohesion between humans. If Desmet identifies the atomised subject and his mechanistic worldview as the root cause of the totalitarian potential, one may find that a transformation out of this predicament will require a more holistic ideology. This faces two problems.

The first problem is this modern Individual as a separate unit of value, since Dumont emphasises that holism is an environment where that ‘individual-in-the-world’ is not. The second problem is that holism is naturally situated in a wider transcendental context. The highest order is not the collective order, that which transcends all is, representing an ultimate guiding force, like Natural law, or Dao. The modern West lacks such an all-encompassing transcendental sphere of reference.

On the first problem, Dumont’s analysis of totalitarianism as a modern phenomenon is of interest.[vi] He insists that introducing ‘holistic categories’ into the environment of the inworldly individual cannot succeed because they are systematically antithetical. Dumont emphasises that the totalitarian disease is encapsulated in the modern ideology, similar to Desmet.

It is “a disease of our own world – and not simply an aberration of a group of fanatics, the effect of various historic causes, or the going astray of an entire nation” (p. 158). He assesses that “totalitarianism is a disease of modern society, that results from the attempt, in a society where individualism is deeply rooted and predominant, to subordinate it to the primacy of the society as a whole” (p. 150). This leads to inevitable contradictions, tensions, and violence.

Desmet describes a similar process on a psychological level as the essence of mass formation: “A society saturated with individualism and rationalism suddenly tilts towards the radically opposite condition, radically irrational collectivism” (p. 97).

The introduction of holistic elements into an environment of inworldly individualism is essentially the separated subject shaping ideas of ‘Wholeness’. Yet he would not be able to fully experience his integral sharing in a Whole, ideas would tend to be conditioned by his existential state of separation. He could be inclined to situate holistic categories in an ‘objective’ world, as it is the only common world he knows. A genuine Whole is not objective, it is transcendental to him, and he would be sharing in its resonance.

“The sharing of ‘I/World’ is not an individual life in a collectivity of lives

It is rather like the integral sharing of a drop in an ocean

That shares entirely in the ocean”

(The Book of Nâm, p. 110)

This demonstrates that for modern individualism to transform into modes of holism, the transformation must occur on the level of the individual. He needs to become a different kind of individual, beyond separation, who realises the transcendental nature of his world. Dumont highlights that the modern individual has hidden in his internal constitution an unperceived but essential element of outworldliness (p. 56), which suggests that modern man has the potential for this transformation in him.

Mirroring Dumont’s thesis cited earlier, I would suggest: If genuine holism is to appear in a society of the modern, individualistic type, it will be in opposition to society and as a kind of supplement to it, that is, in the form of the outworldly individual.

This means that for an environment of the separated subject to evolve towards a holistic mode of being, the involvement of a type living a realisation of transcendence would be inherent to this process. This is also consistent with Dumont’s qualification that “the holism/individualism distinction supposes an inworldly individualism, while in the inworldly/outworldly distinction, the outworldly pole is not opposed to holism” (p. 57).

What makes this type an outworldly individual is that he stepped out of society, out of its habitual programmes of perception, to attain to what transcends it. Having come to a realisation, he perceives life and the world from another perspective, he is conditioned differently. His outworldliness is phenomenological, rather than empirical. He may translate that state of being, providing means for the individual-in-the-world to manage his lifeworld of experience to open to a transcendental state of being.

On the second problem of integrating more holism into modern society, being the absence of a transcendental order, it could be illustrative to see how this may invoke surrogate transcendentals. I see a transcendental as ‘a feature that is not rational in its nature, invoking an image which is beyond you’. It is a surrogate when this beyond is not genuinely of a spiritual nature, but is essentially material, whereby it cannot facilitate orientation to actual transcendence in living. If man is transcendental, but is deprived of awareness of it, he may remain receptive to a (surrogate) transcendental. It is that vacuum needing to be filled.

Surrogate transcendentals are visible in our world. One expression may be in professional sports, with the marketed notion of the great player being “not human”; he is “God playing sports”. He had an “epic” performance, and he is the “Greatest of All Time”. It is present in the wider celebrity cult, displayed as if they are super-humans: They are called “Stars”, a term not used elsewhere individuals excel in their craft. When these people say anything publicly, we all need to take notice. It is entirely unreal. Avoiding idol worship appears to make much sense. In movies, the figure around all the time is the ‘Hero’, manifesting extra-ordinary talents. The Hero represents the language of myth, the transcendental, as Joseph Campbell has illuminated.

Surrogate transcendentals manifest elsewhere, like in ‘Save the Planet’. Practically, the planet would not need us saving it, whilst we, with other life and non-life forms, are it. Keep our environment clean, organised, in a harmonious balance, certainly. Yet saving the planet is an over-estimation of what we can know it needs, and how to contribute. It is a transcendental. Other examples are Climate change, Global health, Patriotism, or the Greatest country on earth.

Paradoxically, while science finds dimensions of the world that we cannot grasp rationally, by our ideology we consider we know everything there is to about the Climate’s changing nature. It would surely be an idea of the separated subject that a single factor in isolation would be the cause, as that is a world he understands. Even while for science this should have been absolutely the most implausible scenario for such a complex ecosystem, where everything else is otherwise contingent on a dynamic of interrelations.

Interesting is the image of climate change shaking up the planet so profoundly, it is causing extreme weather. The image is the Planet being in total Rage and wreaking havoc in response to our behaviour, as we shall experience all the time now. Primitive people figured heavy thunder meant the Gods were upset, an identical mind-set. Climate change is displayed in dramatic mythical fashion.

These are surrogate transcendentals, not by potentially being incorrect, but by being of a material nature. From a transcendental perspective, it makes them superficial, volatile, in need of gullibility, and therefore cannot serve as an ultimate binding force, however hard one tries. Dumont would likely consider some of these surrogate transcendentals as instances of ‘holistic categories’ imposed in a modern environment (that dynamic of the totalitarian disease). Surrogate transcendentals may spread easily in an environment where humans ignore the actual transcendental nature of living.

“Ignoring the expression of the transcendental nature,

or distorting it by rational elaborations, however beautifully and subtly constructed,

leads unavoidably to a sense of emptiness,

a fundamental doubt and a loss of meaning,

and as its offshoot to a lack of purpose”

(The Book of Nâm, p. 11)

The transcendental of a genuine spiritual nature could be restored by modern man transforming his perception of who and what he is, and in what kind of universe he lives. Becoming open to the transcendental nature of living, transforming from a ‘closed system’ as a separated subject to an ‘open system’ of a transcendental man.[vii]

Following Dumont demonstrated that this process can only take place on the level of the individual. This can also only take place there where that modern individual is; ‘in the world’ and ‘through the world’. It is a practice of everyday life. The focus of Nâm is here, and by looking at practices Yoginâm suggests, we can perceive features this may involve.[viii]

Transforming from a separated subject to a transcendental man

In a recent talk with Yoginâm, he recalled a story by Rumi along the following line:

One man eats a plate of rice and creates anguish and jealousy.

Another man eats a similar plate of rice and he creates love and kindness.

It is the way in which you eat the plate of rice, which determines what you create.

Yoginâm sees overcoming a state of Ignorance and opening to Awareness of our transcendental nature as The Task of Human Living. This task is not one amongst other tasks, it is performed within all other tasks. This is not about what you do, it is about how you do it.

The Task of Living is to live life in such a way that you may contribute beneficially to the totality of all. During a talk, Yoginâm clarified, “while we cannot know the totality of all, human beings have always been experimenting, and in that they reached heights and depths. Nowadays we are closer to a depth, but there have been heights. In the heights people realised that we are having a very intimate relationship with the totality that is. It is not something far away.”

Performing the Task of Living is to use every instant in order to contribute as well as possible to life. “In this experience of thousands of years, humanity concluded that beneficially contributing to totality implies harmony, implies compassion, implies love, and implies understanding. It implies trying to do your best in everything that comes up. Many traditions include indications for what this means, and how to perform this task of living optimally. It is found in teachings of Confucius, Buddha, Jesus, and it can be found in books like the Koran and the Bhagavad Gita.”

Earlier views by Desmet illustrated how in the recent history of mankind, an ideology came to rule insisting we could just discard all these insights, it just would not count anymore. Since now, we are figuring out rationally what this universe is all about, and experts will let you know. As the rational mind cannot see the creative spirit, also spirit did not matter, and matter was left on its own. Then, science discovered there is something rationally unknowable about the universe. All of a sudden it has become relevant and meaningful again to figure out how this relationship between man and his unknowable universe, that he is intimately sharing in, can be reintegrated in living.

The focus of Nâm is to support a Journey of the Return to this transcendental relationship in living, to strive living as a Complete Human Being. Yoginâm has repeated a saying by Rumi, that you can perform many tasks in life successfully, but if you do not perform that one task, none of it matters and your life has gone to waste. It is abundantly clear that in current times, many are craving to go beyond that uninspiring state of the separated subject and to approach living creatively, living life spiritually.  

The realisation that one is not a separate unit

that moves in a world like an actor does on a stage,

but a sharing in infinity that is being closed down

to what one erroneously considers as a fixed identity,

is a Cause for far-reaching Consequences.

(The Book of Nâm, p. 62)

Some may find that effort has gone into this subject in what is known as New Age. This would concern still mostly the environment of the separated subject and his therapeutic mind-set. There is plenty of health and satisfaction in it, however, practices would tend to be ‘add-ons’, i.e. not particularly tailored to dissolving the existential predicament of the separated subject. In this sense, Yoginâm prefers to avoid the term ‘spirituality’, as it may affiliate with a different field. For clarity, he distinguishes between satisfaction spirituality, and Attunement spirituality. The latter is integrated into every aspect and moment of living.

It is also useful to note that it would not be helpful to see all this as a ‘Great Awakening’, meant here as if by a spark of light humanity will become enlightened. Instead, this is about becoming a different kind of being. In Nâm practice, the natural state of sharing in totality that is, requires drawing it into Attention in Remembering constantly. This will impact your Attitude towards circumstances – being an expression of this totality – and the kind of Behaviour you will consequently engage. It implies consistency in Ethics, based on observation of Resonance and a natural regularity of Cause and Consequence.

This occurs not on the level of a collective mass, but on the level of the individual. Ideally and at best, it occurs for a critical mass of such individuals.

Yoginâm has emphasised that for the ‘spiritual endeavour’ it is important that the symbolic scope is connected to one’s own cultural background or programming. Adopting traditions from other cultures will involve many pitfalls. One pitfall is romanticism of being identified with the other culture, mistaking its exotics for the essence. The tradition of the other culture has also been shaped for a different psychological mindset, ways of perceiving, easily giving rise to misinterpretation and confusion.

An example Yoginâm has provided is the Sufis’ Spiritual Love. In Arabic and Persian, different words express ‘love’ with refined nuances, which may all be translated into that single word in many modern languages. This Love may carry a different sense, as it does for Western people, and the inner process it will trigger may not be the same. At risk of oversimplifying, Western love may be associated with satisfaction and fulfilment, whereas Sufi Love may be a relentless longing for an unreachable object – a very different inner state. Yoginâm is sensitive to such nuances from having lived himself in societies of the Middle-East for several decades. Having intimately experienced Persian Sufism, since his guide (‘pir’) was from that tradition, has enabled him to witness how Western people could get distracted from the essence. 

Against this background Yoginâm embraced a task of ‘translating’ the essence of the mystical endeavour into a form and language which fits the psychological and cultural mind-set of people in the modern West, in a way that it can be integrated into daily life. He observes that besides a secular orientation, modern people have acquired a virtual thinking about reality, of qualifying the world in scientific terms, and analysing themselves in psychological terms. This virtual thinking may easily grasp an idea how everything is interconnected and that you may manage life creatively on this basis. Nâm uses a more psychological (non-academic) language.

Yoginâm would concur with Heidegger that the reality you perceive is intrinsically connected with the language you use to describe it. He has found it essential to develop a vocabularythat facilitates perceiving life, the world and oneself from a transcendental perspective, and an approach to living in such awareness most optimally. Such a vocabulary is a skilful means.

He has translated a tradition of mysticism, not ‘horizontally’ from another culture, but ‘vertically’, from the essence of the transcendental state involved. In my view, this work is that of a Sage. Or using Dumont’s term, of the outworldly individual.

In providing a paradigm of living by means of which the modern subject may transit to a man opened to his transcendental nature, Yoginâm has had to deal with various tendencies of the modern mind-set, he considers not helpful for transcendence. One tendency is that primacy of rationality, a need to understand. While transcendental living will involve some mind, one will need to go beyond the rational as a decisive force, to open to other spheres of being, like those Yoginâm describes as Creative Imagination, Sovereignty, Guidance, Awe and Wonder.

Specific terminology in Nâm would help nurture some understanding, yet a state of Awareness is beyond understanding, as it is beyond experience. Yoginâm says that we are not rational beings, even if rationality is a strong part. Essentially, we are Beings of Imagination. Through imagination we discover and create our world. The motor of imagination is Meaning.

Another tendency concerns Western people’s program of relating to a transcendental in terms of ‘believing’. In Christianity, some belief may even represent ‘truth’, which is a fine breeding ground for a dualistic stance on life and transcendence, and may be partly responsible for the mechanistic ideology, once the transcendent could pass away. People would be apprehensive about ‘again’ having to believe in something, yet also may not see how to relate to a transcendental without the condition of belief.

Yoginâm clarifies two obstacles for finding Attunement to the transcendental in living. One is to consider the Ultimate in an anthropomorphic image, as this limits its scope. The other is to consider the Ultimate as an entirely abstract image. The transcendental is everything that is, so certainly, it should be as wide as possible, but it should also be as warm and as close as possible, he conveys. Being very close-by calls it into Attention and gives it Meaning. While the Ultimate remains Unknowable, by a skilful means, one may make it very intimately present.

Nâm does not involve believing. Its foundation is Affirmation, a very strong psychological state.It is Affirmation of an unknowable totality you are sharing in through daily living, whatever symbols you may use to express this. Just because it is so self-evident. This leads to Peaceful Acknowledgement of ‘What Is’. The Affirmation and orientation of Attunement become a source of Certainty. This does not arise from knowing, nor from believing, but from an Embrace of Unknowability. This is a much stronger and more attractive state than anxiety. It becomes a deep source of meaning.

During a talk, Yoginâm explained: “The starting point of Nâm is taking the responsibility that you are what you are, as an aspect of a Whole, that you cannot know, but you are fully responsible for. Since you are of a Whole, it is interactive, you are not standing there alone. Already that what you are, is beyond what you think you are. Everything as you, like thinking, feeling, is already transcendental and can teach you what it is. If you take the responsibility, you receive guidance to the degree that you take the responsibility. From this realisation comes Awe and Wonder. Things happening are no longer coincidences, you are creating them, by what you are. It is a subtle shift from ‘soul identification’ to ‘Heart identification’. In the former you think you are that small little thing which stands there in the world. In Heart you realise that you are at best a cloud that flows along other clouds, a drop in an Ocean. It is not definable. By understanding the task of living, you begin to understand what you are. That is Know thyself, which means know your God. The kind of God you know is what you think you yourself are.”

Yoginâm lives a secluded life in Andalusia. After he graduated from Leyden University with a doctorate degree in cultural anthropology he lived and worked in the Middle East. Gradually however Nâm, as he would call it, became his passion. With it he tries to ‘de-spiritualise’ the spiritual endeavour. He sees that as the essence of human living, which he sees as essentially transcendental.  The spiritual endeavour is for him not something ‘religious’ but rather an aspect of natural psychology. It belongs to what he sees as growing up into a mature human being. With Nâm, he presents a way that allows this natural maturity to shape itself, utilising often ancient methods that the traditions of the world have been using since time immemorial.

In my view, because of its focus on essence, resonance and openness, Nâm can also be a ground for cross-cultural understanding and reconciliation. Many contemporary thinkers are calling for a needed change of consciousness, a different orientation to Living. It is a call for Humanity, and I think Yoginâm answers the call with profound meaning and value.


[i] See the most recent work by Yoginâm, The Book of Nâm (2020). Also see the podcast series by the Nâm Academy where this book is presented in detail: https://nam-academy.org/podcasts/

[ii] I recognise that “modern West” would seem a generalised term. In the meaning of a cultural configuration it does not primarily indicate a geographical space, but more a paradigm.

[iii] Matthias Desmet, The Psychology of Totalitarianism (2022).

[iv] Two primary works of Dumont are: Homo Hierarchicus; the caste system and its implications (1970), and Essays on Individualism; modern ideology in anthropological perspective (1986). Quotes and page numbers in this article will refer to the second title.

[v] Louis Dumont, “The Christian Beginnings: From the Outworldly Individual to the individual-in-the-world, in Essays on Individualism (1986), pp. 23-59.

[vi] Louis Dumont, ‘The Totalitarian Disease’, in Essays on Individualism (1986), pp. 149-179. 

[vii] I derive the terms closed system and open system from the work of Matthew Ehret, who elaborates on these terms in various contexts of analysis, including in relation to paradigms of thought. See www.canadianpatriot.org.    

[viii] To indicate when I am referring to a term from the body of Nâm vocabulary, I will write it with a capital and in italic, e.g. ‘’Breath’’.

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A Preface to Authentic Living

‘An unexamined life is not worth living’ – Socrates. Humanity is in crisis. In a relentless regularity of Cause and Consequence, human attitudes and consequent

Attuning to a World in Well-Being

Yoginâm presents Nâm as a contemporary expression of a voice which has existed throughout human evolution in different cultural expressions. He calls it the Red

Nâm: The New Way

An introduction by Yoginâm When a way of life is presented, people quickly associate it with a religion or a sect. They are usually nor