The Atman Project, Eros, Thanatos:

The Atman Project concept posits that every person intuits that he or she is God, but corrupts that intuition by applying it to his or her small "s" self, and will then do whatever's necessary to confirm that distorted intuition.

Eros wants perpetuation of its own existence, to transcend its obvious physical fate. So it creates a series of symbolic substitutes for that Self, and pretends to be cosmocentric, independent and immortal, e.g., king/god figures. Rituals are used to control the world, to transcend the world, to appear supernatural. Eros also causes the fervent drives to achieve wealth (possessions), fame, power, knowledge.

Thanatos is the pull of Wholeness, that would tear down the boundary between self and other, the primary dualism, which would lead to death, dissolution, transcendence. So the Atman Project seeks to avoid all that threatens the separate self's dissolution. It finds substitute sacrifices for the lost Whole: if you won't surrender, you need to find substitute sacrifices, ie death to others. In other words, the desire to kill is Thanatos extroverted.

Culture's purpose is to manufacture surplus Eros and reduce Thanatos.

The further along a civilization and the development of the individuals therein, the greater the intuition of the Atman lack, and therefore the more difficult the substitute gratifications are to achieve and sustain. So the Atman Project becomes ever more intense to make up for an ever increasing intuition of the Atman lack.

"Through substitute seeking (driven by Eros) and substitute sacrifices (driven by Thanatos) individuals propel themselves through the ocean of equally driven souls, and the violent friction of these overlapping Atman Projects sparks that nightmare called history."

The Atman Project, Eros and Thanatos concepts discussed above are based wholly on Ken Wilber's books The Atman Project and Up from Eden. This is a severely truncated explanation of Mr. Wilber's views, and has not been reviewed by him.

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1984-2001