DRAFT summary of Mark Stahlman’s Three Spheres thesis

Mark Stahlman

After listening to most of the 16 webinars twice, and Marks’ Team Human interviews, the Three Spheres webinar 5/8 seems to approach closest to a summary of Mark’s thesis. See if you can improve on this. Let me know if you can.

What problem does Mark addresses? The west must become the West again. It must recover its healthy humanism and humanistic values and virtues. Western culture based on capitalism is a lost cause.

It may be useful to say this another way: Western culture isn’t evolving. It’s stuck in fantasy, fantasies about superheroes and blurring the line between humans and machines. For the West to become the world cultural leader again, to offer culture evolving further forward into healthy humanism, it must recover its healthy humanistic roots, values and virtues.

When was healthy Western humanism in flower? How far back do we have to go? Before the printing press, prior to the wide availability of books, before books in every home. Mark defines this era as starting with the Greek philosophers. It ends as printed Bibles and books became common household items in the 1600s (first Gutenberg Bible is 1455 but another 100–150 years before books were widely available to the top 10% of elites?).

At its best, the pre-book scribal era was about attending to the soul; and, to Best Practices for soul development, doing the individual work of replacing sinful habits with virtuous habits. Social-cultural changes brought forward by the printing press, is where the West lost track of its humanism.

Mark suggests Jon Locke was the start of Modern World. Mark suggests no later than Mc McLuhan, the modern World was over, passe. Mark suggests capitalism was a result of printing press [is Protestant mercantilism and commerce more accurate here?]. Mark suggests nation states were a result of the widespread availability of print texts.

Mark points to the Book of Revelation. It got very little play until printed Bibles became common. Before printing presses, no one read this book; they only heard stories about it. Once the Bible was copied and distributed, people could skip the rest of the New Testament and turn directly to the most sensational part, the last book, Revelation. People of the 1600s (when fear and superstition ruled) imagined the West was in the End Times. The world was coming to an end! The Widespread idea of the world coming to an end in 1600 prompted Pilgrims to come to the New World [a citation here would strengthen this].

Mark cites A World Turned Upside Down (1975) by Christofer Hill. Bruce’s description: This is scholarly evidence from the period, 1640 to 1660 in England, a period surprisingly resonant with the 1960s-1970s in the USA. In both periods “hippies” ruled pop culture to an astonishing degree. In England 1640–1660, the Quakers, Diggers, Levelers and similar alternative-thinking fringe groups ruled the zeitgeist for a decade or two. Talk of “Secret societies” and an “invisible college” of wise men was also common in both periods.

Another parallel, these two periods were both succeeded by more conservative decades, the 1670s in England and the 1980s in the USA. From one of several dozen Goodreads reviews, “As one can guess, ‘moderate’ middle-class protestantism won out in the end. The most radical dissenters made their peace with the status quo; or, disappeared into history. ‘Milton’s nation of prophets became a nation of shopkeepers.’”

The end result? The English Revolution of the 1640–1660s resulted in the triumph of the protestant ethic and the ideology of the propertied class [The striking parallels between these two periods may be a strong argument for the reality of returning astrological aspects between local planets].

The East and chi, Tao, I-Ching

Mark and Western chi-gung expert, John Alton, make clear the East never lost its connection with ancient concepts of chi, Tao and I-Ching completely. The Chinese are trying to re-incorporate these wisdom traditions; and, develop chi machine technology. See Critique section for discussion.


Mark prefers two solutions [please check and correct this]:

1) Redeem, remember and restore the best of healthy, balanced humanism, prior to widespread reading of books. This is where we can reclaim the values and mindset of healthy humanism. Do this age-appropriately in grades K-5 [this is what so far only Waldorf-methods K-12 education does; insert link here].

Mark suggests awareness of Natural Law holds much of what was best about Western humanism, before the printing press and books for all. Returning to Natural Law is in large part about restoring the rhetoric about humans having a soul; and, the invisible (non-digital), no-material essences and virtues which ennoble the soul.

2) “Subsidiarity,” better known as “small is beautiful.” In more words, the devolving of decision-making-power, to the lowest level possible. To allow decision-making-power to rest in the hands of the people most affected by decisions made [DCST has an entire webinar on Subsidiarity].

3) The endgame of “Love thy neighbor” Mark: the next step after video games is not Facebook Meta, not Second Life. For those who tire of video games, some will choose to explore the what and how of become more completely human. This requires retrieving wisdom of how the human being, the soul and virtue were conceived, before the printing press.

The endgame? This will lead us back to, Love thy neighbor” — because — robots cannot do this.

Most of this summary comes from Three Spheres webinar5/8.

Discussion notes on Mark’s platform

Unresolved ~ Where does the Sufi tradition fit in Mark’s scheme?

Bruce notes Mark’s timeline unintentionally includes the Sufi poets:

- Rumi (1207–1273),

- Ḥāfeẓ, ‘the memorizer; the (safe) keeper’ (1325–1390), and

- Kabir Das (1398/1440–1448/1518).

Since the 1970s, I believe, Rumi has been the best selling poet in the USA. Modern interest in classic Sufi poetry strongly supports Mark’s thesis of return to the scribal. Bruce is more engaged with the Sufi and Gnostic versions of Natural Law. Mark is more engaged with the Catholic version of Natural Law. I look forward to discussing the common ground and synergy between these two.


Unresolved ~ soul as mind-emotions (psyche); or, soul as immortal-eternal?

The West does not have its own version of chi, prana or I-Ching. Instead it has values-virtues rhetoric about the soul.

Mark seems to prefer to define “soul” as our personal thoughts, feelings and emotions, our psyche (the original Greek word). Bruce prefers the Sufi-Sound Current definition of “soul” as the immortal-eternal aspect inside each human being. This resonates with Gnostic tradition: Also meaningful here, the Gnostic idea of every living thing, from a virus up to a whale, having awareness and intelligence, awareness appropriate to its range of function.


Unresolved ~ How to address the gap between pre 1600s rhetoric and post 1970s rhetoric of healthy Western humanism and psychology?

Before the printing press, prior to the wide availability of books, in the era of Church-led, virtue-led soul development, doing the individual work to replace sin with virtue, early methods were primitive and without much insight. Methods consisted primarily of exhortation (lecturing) to change thru crude will power. After 1970 or 1985, much better rhetoric for personal change work developed. A conversation on this would be useful.


Unresolved ~ Limitations on the modern East embracing ancient chi, prana and Tao

The Chinese connect chi, prana, Tao with the invisible energy within Creation, which can be manipulated by martial artists, measured and manipulated with some machines. As Bruce see it, the Chinese have two big blocks before chi and Tao can be incorporated into modern Chinese culture, in a healthy humane way. Bruce lives in a predominantly Chinese community in California.

To argue this, one has to choose a rhetoric of the endgame you have in mind. The endgame I like is thinking on both sides of the brain; and, thinking with both gut brain and head brain. “Whole-brainedness” expresses this clumsily.

The first problem for the Chinese is allowing, accepting, educating, and refining expression of personal emotions, has to come before Whole-brainedness can flower much.

Limited range of emotions vs…

Due to Confucianism, the Chinese have yet to allow, develop social permission to feel and express emotions beyond anger. The range of emotions the Chinese find acceptable to feel and express is astonishingly narrow compared to the West. Unless someone knows differently, Bruce suspects there is no Chinese tradition about emotions like this Western aphorism: “You can only fly as high as you can dive deep.” Accepting the full range of emotions AND modulating them constructively and as socially appropriate, is a huge part of healthy self-mastery. I see no reference for this quote in three search engines. I learned it in counseling-therapy trainings of the 1970s-1990s.

Mark having fun

Overflowing torrential, exaggerated emotional expression

The West has the opposite problem. Especially since the 1990s, personal agency and personal autonomy, including emotional agency and autonomy, has become more like a religious cult. Converts to the religion worship at movies like the Fast and Furious movies; and, Birds of Prey (2020) with the Australian actress, Margot Robbie (also the second James Gunn Suicide Squad (2021) movie.

All characters in all these movies start with outlaw, anti-hero premises. Everyone, including the women are masterless “bad boys.” Each of these movies artfully inverts most norms of human decency and appropriate behavior, up to and including, choosing unnecessary self-destructive risks to bodily survival (these are viewed as “heroic”). These movies celebrate “freedom to be yourself” unfettered by social mores, or emotional decency, or healthy ethics, morals and values, of any kind.

Bruce thinks the above analysis also fits the original Godfather (1972) movie; as well, The Simpsons animated cartoons. In the name of fantasy, bad behavior is condoned and celebrated. If it can make a buck, pop culture condones (norms) greed, violence and every other emotional excess (vice) you can name.

In short, the West suffers from exaggerated-extreme emotional freedom, too much! Without a balance, without equal and greater emphasis, on healthy ethics, morals, values, virtues — exaggerated emotional freedom is toxic. “Too much of a good things,” and, “more is not always better” come to mind.

On to the second block I see for the Chinese to incorporate chi and Tao into modern Chinese culture.

The Chinese have closed off their minds to the Tao as a rhetoric about “soul and Above.” The Chinese seem only interested in chi and Tao for left-hemisphere reasons, to grasp chi, increase chi, manipulate chi. Chinese awareness of, and interest in, where virtues have their natural home, above Creation, appears to be vanishing to non-existent, in Chinese and Western culture (outside of pre-literary wisdom traditions).

This is odd because the Tao Te Ching is considered by many Westerners, to be one of the most spiritual books (read: soul and above) available in any language. The Chinese government seems to revere Tao Te Ching and the I-Ching more as pragmatic “how to manuals” than as “windows” on the positive truly human qualities and potentials above Creation. To find the tradition of “soul and above” online, ask Google to search for: “soul and above” “sound current.”


Unresolved ~ How are we going to update the rhetoric, vocabulary and syntax of pre-printing press humanism?

The above is also a pretty good summary of Mark’s project: Starting with the rhetoric, vocabulary and syntax of pre-printing press humanism, how are we going to update, standardize and spread pre-literate wisdom in 2022 and beyond?

Western genius, healthy non-dogmatic humanism before the printing press, contains the wisdom of “soul and above.” “Sin” and “virtues” is how this was expressed in earlier cruder syntax and vocabulary. Many examples of how crude early rhetoric was can be found in A World Turned Upside Down:

begin Q

The Lord preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the father- less and the widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth ~ Psalm 146,9

end Q

Of course Catholic Social teaching from the 1940s-1950s has much more modern vocabulary and syntax. Still, it’s unclear in my mind whether Mark believes the rhetoric of modern Catholic Social Teaching is:

- Already adequate, sufficient and ready-for-prime-time, or

- If he agrees with Bruce, more work needs to be done to update Catholic Social teaching for current and future generations.




Health Intuitive, author in Los Angeles, CA

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Bruce Dickson

Bruce Dickson

Health Intuitive, author in Los Angeles, CA

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