The fate of the explorer of consciousness is like that of a Robinson Crusoe who, castaway on an unknown island, must recreate his reality from his own resources.
The following brief, but rich, paragraph from The Individual and the Becoming of the World details the requirements to proceed from Stage Two to Stage Three. If we take literally the Traditional teachings that our ordinary life — if you can call our life in the Cave “ordinary” — is illusion, then all that we naively accepted as obviously true needs to be questioned and discarded. This path is only for those who “have the courage for an attack on their convictions” (Nietzsche).
Before going further, we have to point out the necessity that this critical moment of the ideal history of the individual be brought down to and experienced in its depths. Not until he has doubted and denied everything, not until he has cut himself off from everyone, not he until has suffered the unreality of every reality, the uncertainty of every fact, the darkness of every light; not until he has destroyed every support and every haven and has realized the point of the “great alone” — not until the individual can call himself completely that, not until he is an autonomous and self-conscious being. It is this negative act, this absolute tearing of oneself away from whatever used to provide solidity and consistency — that now makes him be. Besides, according the powerful saying of Stirner, the “I” is not everything, but that which destroys everything; through this absolute negativity that tragic principle dawns in man which — as was clearly seen in Buddhism — makes him superior to the whole of nature and to the very kingdom of the “gods”.
In the next segment, Evola points out that every experience is somehow one of “my” experiences. So that which is constant and unchanging among the changing world phenomena, is the sense of “I”, whether implicit or explicit. Evola likens it to the Vedic concept of ahamkara, defined as
I-maker. Personal ego. The mental faculty of individuation; sense of duality and separateness from others. Sense of I-ness, “me” and “mine.” Ahamkara is characterized by the sense of I-ness, sense of mine-ness, identifying with the body, planning for one’s own happiness, brooding over sorrow, and possessiveness.
So this I presupposes some other experience, that is, the experience the I is conscious of. He relates it to the Vedic teachings on the Observer … that is never observed. The text follows:
We can specify the place of such an “I” as follows. Every experience is inseparably accompanied by the characteristic, implicit or explicit, of being one of my experiences. The self-reference, the ahamkara of Vedic metaphysics, is the elementary condition, without which no reality is conceivable, since the only reality that I can concretely speak about is that which, in one way or another, resolves in one of my experiences. Now it is possible to detach this principle of self-reference from the particular contents of experiences in order to fold it back in a certain way onto itself. Thus we have: “I” equals “I”, that is a bare experience, a possession, something simple and ineffable. This bare experience presupposes, in fact and by right, some other experience — one can say that it is like the cloth from which all the particular experiences are then cut out: here we have that “seeing that is never seen”, that “knowing that is never known”, that point of pure centrality that the Upanishads talk about, and in respect to which every particular experience, phenomenon, or thought is a “posterius“, something that comes afterwards and remains at the periphery.
Evola then rejects all new age and philosophical teachings that postulate a “higher self” that must be reached. There is only the “I” and its experiences or representations. Evola then poses this challenge. First he points out that there can only be one such “I”, and so there cannot be any other “I”. Therefore, while we are accustomed to regard others as independent centres of awareness, for Evola, the “others” are again representations, that is, objects, and not other subjects. This is a crucial challenge made by Evola, and it must be understood and seen, in order to move forward. Evola links the failure to grasp this to sentimentality or a lack of critical reflexion; complete detachment is the only way. Finally, Evola concludes:
This is a point which it is particularly necessary to draw attention to: whoever, either because of moral and sentimental concerns — that is, reconnected to the preceding stage of natural evidence — or because of a lack of critical reflexion, does not succeed in extending doubt to the very reality of other subjects and so conceiving them as nothing other than my representations, has not truly brought that detachment, which we wrote about previously, to its limit, and so has not yet perfectly realized the pure essence of the individual. He is not yet ready for the passage to the third stage since those who have first not known how to doubt everything, can have absolute certainty of nothing.
Here again is the reminder to let go of all theories and opinions, in order to base certainty only on what the I can verify for itself. This is the Principle of Induction.
Since the “I” cannot be known as an object, Evola next describes what the “I” could be. As expected, he does not see the “I” as simply the passive observer of phenomena, but relates it to the will-to-power: the I is the centre of will. Therefore, unlike objects — which are what they are — the “I” must create itself through its activities (“self-positing”). The “I” therefore has no static being. Though not explicitly stated here, Evola has in mind the Tao of the Tao Te Ching. Hence, the activity of the “I” is the action – non action (wei wu wei) of Taoism.
Evola likens the transition to stage three to the fate of a Robinson Crusoe, who must now create a new world in order to survive. Once all the theories, opinions, beliefs, and creeds have been discarded in stage two, the individual is now in a similar position to the castaway and is also forced to create a new reality:
Therefore, moving onto the third stage, let us immediately say that in it there is an overcoming of the negative point of view connected to the arising of individuality. As one, whom an unfavourable event had cast onto a desert island, followed, after the initial shock, immediately by the will to live, must look for and create the means for a new existence, so the individual, who feels himself by this point alone with himself in the entire extent of the world, can be brought to drag out from his own interior a principle that can secure a new reality beyond the order of appearance and mere representation, in which every thing up to now had to be submerged. This principle is: THE POWER OF CONTROL. The “I”, in fact, is not a thing, a “given”, a “fact”, but, essentially, a deep centre of will and power. As “I”, Fichte says, it is, only insofar as it posits itself — and only a pure self-positing is, to tell the truth, its “being”.
Evola now concludes the discussion of the stages before moving on to the relationship between the individual and the becoming of the world.
He points out the the awakening of the I — or “still point” — in the second stage is now understood in the third stage. This happens not through learning some theory or studying some philosophy, but rather through a process of self-analysis, that is, of one’s consciousness. So, what started out (in stage one) as an independent reality is now understood in its relationship to the “I” — both as its representations and also as subject to the will of the I.
Hence, the only principle of certainty that Evola is willing to admit is what can be verified in the consciousness and will of the I.
Through a further self-analysis, the nature of that still point, which was realized in the second stage, is revealed to be such. Now this still point can convey is own substance to whatever lacks it,and that obviously when the various arrangements of that reality, that first appeared irrationally as raw contingency, without participation of the will of the I — almost as in a dream — get recovered in accordance with its own connection to an unconditioned assertion of the individual. What now remains is to proceed to a definition of this stage, so that the point of the present treatment is resolved, which is the relationship of the individual to the becoming of the world. In the meantime, we can specify the criterion of certainty that is called for at this point. It is expressed by the principle:
“There is absolute certainty — and postulatable reality — only of those things, of being or non-being, of being such or being otherwise than what the I has in itself, in its capacity of control, or the beginningor cause; of other things, only to the extent of that in them which satisfies such a criterion“.
These things, which depend in fact entirely on the powerof the “I”, contribute to the intrinsic evidence that is inherent in its unvarnished beginning.