My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Ancient Future has been the flagship moral tome in my personal library for just over a decade, but as I review it again this time, I now discover that I no longer find many of the principles personally applicable to my present worldview. When I initially encountered the text, I was a seeker and novice critical thinker milling through each church, mosque, temple and movement of the organizational multitude in search of an answer to an obscure internal question. Ancient Future was filled with precisely the sort of supernatural ambiguity which could fill that void. Furthermore, it was written in the tradition of my namesake, Djehuti, which added to my idyllic attraction.
There was a time when I loved nothing more than to contemplate these forms of artificial complexity while ascribing to all things a meaning whose truth of knowing may have made me none the wiser for my worry. Things have changed greatly since that time. I love my humanity and want nothing more than to embrace that notion more fully. “Divinity” and “Eternal Life” are still as cryptic as they were in a previous era, but I have disengaged from grappling to comprehend such mysteries for what I posit are more worthwhile pursuits where concrete and finite answers are to be found.
The feelings noted above are applicable mostly to the first 5 principles where a great deal of energy is expended establishing ground for concepts like mental metaphysics, karma and “the All”. In order to accomplish this aim, subjects such as physics and geometry are tackled with the goal of displaying how all things cooperate in cosmic order. I am such the lover of mathematics and science that I am both fascinated and appreciative of the glorious beauty that lives within the symmetry of nature. Still I am not so bemused as to think that should I write an exegetical text on the diameter of the spots decorating the back of the monarch butterfly that the gates of great wisdom will open to me either.
My life at present is more practical and driven by the desire to ascertain a greater workable understanding of the human condition. Perhaps this is why I found the greatest insight in the closing chapters of the text which were also the most densely packed containing “The Principle of Rhythm” and “The Principle of Causation”. The former was filled with histories of ethnic and social migration and conflict throughout West Asia (Europe), East Asia, Africa and the Pacific. The latter contained a simple admonition to remember that the actions humans pursue on this planet hold serious consequences which we must prepare ourselves to face in the future with changing weather, water wars and famine encroaching ever nearer on the horizon. I would arguably state that “The Principle of Rhythm” is the greatest concise history of human migration patterns ever written. Chandler also veers off on the direction of discussions of the descent of matriarchy which accompanied the rise of patriarchy, sexual exploitation, subjugation by gender and other social ills.
From a wide view, this volume will remain an important addition to my library and I am likely to reference it in future writings, but it has certainly lost some of its luster since that first awesome encounter in the Underground Bookstore on 71st Street. This is understandable for we are always growing from the place where we stood previously and we must be prepared to recognize that growth when it makes itself apparent.