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"The word ‘idea’ comes from the Greek EIDO, which means to see, face, meet, be face to face… The tree and we meet one another, as the tree stands there and we stand face-to-face with it. This face-to-face meeting, then, is not one of those ‘ideas’ buzzing round in our head…Where does [it] take place…in our heads? …while science records our brain currents, what becomes of the tree…What becomes of the man…of the face-to-face, the meeting, the seeing…?"

Martin Heidegger

The very idea that to ‘know’ things means to have an ‘idea’ of them in our heads or know ‘about’ them is the death of deep knowledge - of gnosis. Here it makes no difference whether people have ideas about scientific or spiritual matters. Nor does it make any difference whether they dress up spiritual ideas in old-fashioned religious symbols or in fashionable scientific terminologies. For all ‘knowledge’ that only takes the form of intellectual ideas about reality is a denial of gnosis – of feeling cognition. Ideas in our heads are mere mental representations of reality and thus a form of second-hand knowledge - no matter how revered be the ‘spiritual traditions’ or scientific institutions through which such knowledge is handed down. If ‘branches’ or bodies of knowledge are not rooted like a tree in our body’s own inner knowing, they are merely scientific myth or spiritual superstition. As such they cannot stand the simplest test of face-to-face encounter with a tree - let alone its deeper truth. The tree we meet face-to-face is no mere mental ‘image’ or ‘idea’ in our heads. Nor is the Solitary Tree we face in Friedrich’s painting. The painting too is a meeting. In this meeting the tree stands before us not only as a body in space but as a being - actively bodying and comporting itself towards us - and embodying the entire landscape around it. Its very body is a relation to and a condensed knowing of that environment.


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