The Story of Xena & Theo

The principles of open-emptiness and inclusive-transcendence play important roles in my speculative philosophy of history.

In a mytho-poetic way we can anthropomorphize the two principles as feminine and masculine deities (Xena and Theo, respectively) who split apart from a primordial state in which they were indivisibly united as indistinguishable aspects of the same reality. This split was “caused” by Theo’s impulse towards transcendence which was predicated on a divorce from and an Othering of Xena. This impulse occurred spontaneously as a function of Theo’s own nature, yet which was never reconciled and negotiated with his constitutive other due to his own preoccupation with himself, so that what could have otherwise been a movement of self-transcendence became instead a movement of self-alienation.

For countless eons to follow, the movement of historical time would consist of a dialectical struggle between the two where, over and over again, Theo would build upon the foundations laid by Xena to erect his own self-glorifying, imperial state in an attempt to crown himself as the principle of reality itself, only to be surreptitiously undermined by the labor of Xena to disclose new, alternative possibilities for becoming. With each iteration of their struggle, the extent and reach of Theo’s imperial power would continue to increase, but Xena would always have the final say in the last instance.

Towards the end of this historical dialectic, Theo’s imperial mandala becomes so wide-spread and his power and influence so entrenched that it would seem that Xena no longer has any place or space to be herself, having nothing she can call her “own”. While every prior instance of Theo’s empire participated in a dialectical negotiation with an “other” from the “outside”, for the first time it would seem that there no longer is an other. It would appear that Theo had finally accomplished and brought to full fruition his missionary impulse to transcendence and realize himself as the crown achievement of being, retrospectively re-conceptualizing his past struggles with Xena as actually struggles with alienated instances of himself that have now been fully integrated. No longer struggling against reality, in a way he came to see himself as reality. History, it would seem, had finally come to an end.

But the fact that Xena could not be found does not entail that she is inoperative. As the champion of the principle of open-emptiness, it is in her nature to be elusive, unfindable, and without inherent existence. Whenever she worked in explicit form, that form had invariably been encountered, re-configured, integrated and surpassed by Theo. But her utterly secret, unsurpassable heart-essence was and is always implicitly at work in each and every thing, tirelessly laboring to undermine the pretensions of absolute inherent existence in order to disclose empty spaces that open up novel avenues for becoming. In this way, without him ever having recognized it, Xena is the actual reason why Theo’s mission of transcendence was ever possible in the first place. He can only pretend to lay independent claim to his accomplishments. The property he calls his own depends upon his expropriation of her. He owes it to Her for his own existence.

With the outside-other seemingly eliminated and the breadth of his empire reaching totality, Theo realizes that his craving is yet to be satiated, his empire still insecure and mission incomplete. His crowning achievement was not as he had imagined. For the first time it seems as though he had gained everything, but in reality he experiences it as if he had nothing. No matter how perfectly crafted his fortress seems to be, there are always cracks and fissures that must be patched up, infrastructure to constantly manage, insurrections to stamp out. Everything he has built seems to be crumbling from the weight of its own stature, unable to support its own independence.

Eventually he gains the intuition that it is precisely the ongoing interaction with Xena that had nurtured him all this time, that gave him reason for being, that provisioned him with the necessary resources (whether they were gifted, stolen or extracted) for the continual recreation of his empire. Compelled, both from within and from without, to renounce the means by which he has hitherto conducted himself, the same missionary impulse that was pointed outwards is now brought inwards. Seeking deep within himself, he finds that which he had longed for for so long: Xena herself — pristine and unadulterated — is actually the essence of his own being. With this newfound recognition, he comes to realize the truth of his own nature: as champion of the principle of inclusive-transcendence, he is nothing without the foundations laid by Xena, the champion of the principle of open-emptiness. In fact, there was never a time when he was actually ever separated from her: while the externalized, alien form of Xena labored tirelessly to undermine his imperial mission, the internal, secret form was silently yet incessantly creating the conditions for not only his perpetual dissatisfaction with every new and changing circumstance but also for the inevitable renunciation that would invariably bring him back to her.

Realizing this, the historical dialectic between Xena and Theo that configured them as inherently different entities vying for the exclusive status of supreme absolute reality passes on to a progressive dialogic that alternatively configures them as unique yet indivisible aspects of the same dynamic reality. All of this time, Theo — the champion of inclusive-transcendence — was deluded as to the real nature of himself and his relationship to his constitutive other, Xena — the champion of open-emptiness — who had never actually left the primordial state that birthed and homed them both.

While history seen retrospectively from the eyes of Theo was a his-story of the struggle between divine man and the alien forces which sought to constantly challenge and undermine him, history as her-story prospectively realized through the laboring body of Xena is a process of emancipation and consummation in which both alien and divine are freed and returned to the non-dual, primordial basis from which they came, a process that would stir this original basis from a state of nescient slumber and bring it to a state of self-awakened omniscience. From the fresh perspective of this perfectly self-awakened basis, there never ever was a real difference between Xena and Theo, for the whole entire process — of going away in separation only to come back to consummation — was nothing but a magical and miraculous self-display, a dream without any real reality but still as real as real could be.

Yet because this story never had a definite beginning (since there never was a separation), it also has no definite end (since without separation, consummation has no meaning), so the “time” of the basis is no time at all; in a sense it is happening all the time. So as long as we find ourselves in the midst of this unfolding cosmic drama, we always have the opportunity to reconnect with the primordial basis of our experience and join Xena in her effortless effort to bring Theo to a recognition of his own true nature, such that together they can come to realize, in perpetuity, the uninterrupted eternity of their amorous union.

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