Thursday, March 23, 2006

Body Snatchers, Haunted Mansions, and Revelations from the Abyss (3.12.08)

No time to spell check or even edit today. Wish me luck.

One of my favorite little books on Jewish mysticism is The Thirteen Petalled Rose by Adin Steinsaltz. Kabbalah can be extraordinarily complex, but I sometimes wonder if that's just a reflection of the limitations of the person explaining it. Mystics can be so... so mystifying... mysterious... mystagogic. But if you truly know something "from the inside," it's much easier than trying to describe it from the outside.

Imagine, for example, if you didn't know anything about hockey, and were trying to describe what was happening by simply observing a game from the outside. It would appear much more complicated and complex than it actually is. You wouldn't see the invisible strategy that is organizing the seeming chaos, you wouldn't understand the different roles of the players, and you wouldn't be aware of the rules under which the players are operating. When you really understand something, it actually reduces the complexity (which doesn't mean to say it becomes simplistic, or even simple--just easier to describe).

Having said that, some precious teachings should be protected by layers of enigma, paradox and oral transmission. How else to shield them from the grubby hands of a Madonna (imagine where those unholy hands have been.... Dennis Rodman.... Ewwwww!) or Britney Spears, who is so dense that she had a Hebrew symbol tattooed to the back of her neck--which is about as kosher as naming your kid Adolf.

Straight away, Steinsaltz sets the stage by writing that "The physical world in which we live, the objectively observed universe around us, is only a part of an inconceivably vast system of worlds. Most of these worlds are spiritual in their essence.... Which does not necessarily mean that they exist somewhere else, but means rather that they exist in different dimensions of being. What is more, the various worlds interpenetrate and interact in such a way that they can be considered counterparts of one another, each reflecting or projecting itself on the one below or above it."

I like this description because it is exactly analogous to the way the unconscious--the lower vertical--operates in psychoanalytic theory. The unconscious is another world that operates along different logical principles, but it is not "someplace else." It is not literally located in space, "below" the ego. Rather, it is right here, right now, interpenetrating everything we think and do. To "see" it, it is merely a matter of shifting your perspective. Like right now, if I open my ears, I hear a bird chirping in the backyard. In the distance is the "hoo hoo" of an owl. There's the very quiet humming of the computer. These things were always there, but it's a matter of paying attention to them.

Steinsaltz then proceeds straight into the differences between the vertical and horizontal, which for me is the essence of any spiritual metaphysics. Again, in speaking of the vertical, of higher and lower, he is not speaking of an actual physical location. Vertically speaking, "to call a world higher signifies that it is more primary, more basic in terms of being close to a primal source of influence; while a lower world would be a secondary world--in a sense, a copy." Thus, viewed horizontally, we may trace the material cosmos back to a primordial event some 13.7 billion years ago.

But this is only the horizontal explanation. Traditional metaphysics deals with the vertical causation of the cosmos, which is what confuses people. From the vertical standpoint, this world is indeed a copy, as are human beings, of a divine prototype. The "logos" might be thought of as the model of all things, the nexus between the divine mind above and the creation here below. Looked at in this manner, the inexplicable beauty of the world is not somehow the outcome of horizontal cause and effect. Rather beauty is the cause of the cosmos (among other nonlocal causes, such as Love and Truth).

Because of the ubiquitous vertical and horizontal influences, every aspect of human existence is made up of both matter and spirit, of form and essence. While we are fundamentally spiritual, we are unavoidably material, which sets up a host of interesting tensions and conflicts that fall under the heading of "the fall." The fall--or exile, if you like--is indeed a vertical one, a declension from the divine repose of celestial bliss, down to this world of toil, conflict, uncertainty and ambiguity.

In the past, I have posted on the inner meaning of "angels," which--now, don't be too literal here--are nothing more than vertical beings that travel in only two directions: up and down. Have you ever had a brilliant insight that came out of nowhere? No? How about you, Will? I thought so. That would be the gift of a vertical emissary. The more you reconcile yourself to the process and accept it on its own terms, the more messages you get. What about those lower promptings? Yes, we'll get to those momentarily.

Now that I've lost most of my readers, I'll ask the question: Did you know that you can create an angel, a vertical being? I know I do all the time. According to Steinsaltz, every mitzvah you perform--every good deed--is not just a horizontal act in the material world. It also has an effect in the vertical world. As a matter of fact, a holy act creates an angel, a new spiritual reality that will then go on to have its own vertical life and influence.

Let's just consider a banal but highly illustrative example, the first one that came to my mind--Oscar Schindler. One flawed man nevertheless trying to do the decent thing in a hopeless hell of utter depravity. But how many countless angels did he create, angels that continue to bless the world in demonstrable ways!

Let's jump ahead to the shadow side of this spiritual economy. For, as Steinsaltz explains, "just as there are holy angels built into and created by the sacred system, there are also destructive angels, called 'devils' or 'demons', who are the emanations of the connection of man with those aspects of reality which are the opposite of holiness." Thus it would follow that, just as good deeds create beneficent vertical beings, other actions create vertical beings "of another sort, from another level and a different reality." In so far as it is possible to do so, I try to create angels with this blog. I don't know if I am successful, but I do know that I attract demons.

Here again, you can take this literally or you can take it figuratively. But think, for example of just one awesome conjurer of demons, say, Karl Marx, the anti-Moses who belched his new revelation from the vertical depths of darkness. Could you even begin to count the number of devils, demons, and other agents of the nether world who are still being created and still making mischief as a result of falling under his sinister spell? You do see them, don't you? They're everywhere! Some things are metaphors, some are not. The term body snatcher is not a metaphor. Petey says that it explains all you need to know about the left.

If you have stayed with me this far, then you will understand that, just as there are evil beings, there are evil worlds. These are simply the "space" inhabited by the evil beings. Wisdom is a space, or "mansion." So too, creativity, love, beauty, peace. You can sense it when you enter one of those mansions. You can also sense it when you are near one of those haunted mansions where the dark ones reside.

The closest I like to get to one of these mansions is memri.org, which makes the Islamic darkness visible to us on a daily basis. Can you not feel and sense the utterly dark abyss of that black hole, where light neither enters nor escapes? If not, you may want to contact an exorcist, for something has hijacked your moral vision. There are many such vertical abysses in the world. Bottomless pits of anti-Truth and anti-Beauty.

Enough malevolent wishes and wicked deeds, and pretty soon you have created a world. People are fascinated by these worlds. In fact--this may just be apocryphal--I once read someone who pointed out the etymological links between "fascist" and "fascinate." For fascism begins with fascination, a sort of hypnosis, a dulling of the conscience, and the intoxicating infectiousness of the Unrepressed Man who lives by his will and his impulses, outside the Law.

Obviously, the evil beings have no independent existence, since their existence is contingent upon human actions. They are "parasites on the light," so to speak. But, once created, they are "alive" in a very real sense. Again, feel free to consider it metaphorically, but do consider it. There is a sort of "spiritual increase" that goes on. For example, the more you nurture and take care of something, the more you will love it. Likewise, the more you choose evil, the more it will be as if evil is choosing you--you become an instrument of it.

This process is described so exhaustively in great films and novels that it is hardly worth noting here except in passing. One of the reasons I enjoy the classic film noir of the 1940's is that they often deal with just this theme, of the typical person--say Fred McMurray in Double Indemnity--at first haltingly, then enthusiastically, making a key decision that then plunges them into the realm of dark forces beyond their control. McMurray, for example, thought he was "choosing," but all the while he was being tempted, seduced, hypnotized. Gotcha!

The Godfather also obviously touches on this theme in the pivotal character of Michael, who, by film's end, has transformed from fresh-faced innocent to devil incarnate, devolving far beyond his father, who still had a touch of humanity. While in the higher vertical we can never surpass the prototype, in the lower vertical we can. We can, like Hitler, be worse than the demon who inspired us.

As Steinsaltz describes it, "the sinner is punished by the closing of the circle, by being brought into contact with the domain of evil he creates.... as long as man chooses evil, he supports and nurtures whole worlds and mansions of evil, all of them drawing upon the same human sickness of the soul.... as the evil flourishes and spreads over the world because of the deeds of men, these destructive angels become increasingly independent existences, making up a whole realm that feeds on and fattens on evil."

Hitler. Stalin. Bin Laden. Yasser Arafat. Kim Jong-il. Ahmadinejad. Detached worlds of pure evil as an end in itself. Who could say it isn't so?

That would be the Old Serpent's vast team of useful idiots. He's got a very deep bench.

70 Comments:

Anonymous dilys said...

"Rather beauty is the cause of the cosmos (among other nonlocal causes, such as Love and Truth)."

You can tell where a thing is tending by the value it places on the practice of these values.

"Mortal sin entails a habitual, willful disorder that per se ruptures a man's friendship with God. As a beatific communion of friends, heavenly life is in part constituted by the saint's supernatural love of God. Since God never changes, the movement from sin to salvation must consist formally in created changes, all of which achieve their end by uniting the human spirit to God. Paradise is not a return to the flesh-pots of Egypt, juridical admission to which could be granted to sinners and saints alike. Instead, paradise is a nuptial bliss which of its nature demands self-giving love."

Even more than creating angels -- thoughts, acts, allegiances fit us for the environment that, well, fits. Kind of demolishes my habitual evasions...For a minute or two, anyway.

3/23/2006 08:40:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I am a little familiar with Kabbalah and find it very intricate and beautiful. I know that Kabbalists rearrange the letters of words in the Torah to make new combinations and hidden meanings become clear. Is this another key to accessing the vertical?

Many years ago, I attended an introductory meeting at the Kabbalah center in Los Angeles. I was a little turned off by it because of the monetary donations required to continue learning. It seemed a bit tasteless and a bit too political and organized for my preferred taste of spirituality. I still find it very interesting as a method to access higher meaning. Thanks for the recommended reading.

3/23/2006 09:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Will said...

Overslept a bit, had this weird dream: There I am, involved in a game of bridge with an assortment of animals - no, that's not the weird thing, I dream this every night - but then suddenly Petey shows up and asks me where I think I get these ideas I have. And he's got this big grin on his face. And oh, yes, he's got wings . . .

Anyway, semi-awake now. One thing, I think, that everybody can "field test" the kabbalistic idea that there exists a large respository of "demons" in non-localized space is - just pay attention to yourself the next time you get really angry, I don't mean righeously angry, I mean pride-hurt angry.

Check it out: see how anger actually seems to *magnify* your sense of self? How it seems to build on itself? How is actually feels, in a very self-centering way, quite good? And how you'd like it to feel even better? Those are the demons, doing their thing. You're drawing from the Lake of Anger. And you're experiencing a little slice of the Original Pride, courtesy you-know-who.

On the "lower vertical" a.k.a., the lower astral: I think when one experiences a nightmare, one is actually getting a taste, a mere taste, of hell. One thing about dreams: they tend to be either really good or really bad. And the bad, nightmarish ones evoke a sense of chaos and horror in us that is generally not accessable in our waking consciousness. A lot of people think the vertical is, by its very nature, all good. No, no, no. There are critters in the lower vertical that are anything but pleasant and you really do not want to deal with them, so don't play around with occulty stuff. Work on your own spirituality in a day-to-day way.

I have to scarf some food, will be back.

3/23/2006 11:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have made the case with a professorial correspondent that what we truly know is informed by an aesthetic sense. He disagrees. You might say, and I have said it differently, that he has become so enmeshed in the horizontal (perhaps satisfied by it) he cannot see the vertical. The wholeness of God, the Oneness, insists that the various ways of knowing participate, "sing together," "make harmony."

I see stuff that clearly doesn't work, can't work. I ask how these "things" could have come about. Those metaphorical angels work as poetical explanations, as do the webs of deceit spun by other "metaphorizers." But I see ideas as real objects, with real causes. Otherwise, metaphor aside, they cannot be understood.

But what passes for "cause" among ideas looks more like association than those force-like objects that pass for cause in the physical world. And association can be made of things which never rise above the level of metaphor. One imagined object can "cause" another . . . and I suggest that the contagion of evil emerges out of our inability to decipher the metaphors in other people's heads.

Too many notes.

3/23/2006 12:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The above comment was actually posted by the SOB that calls himself Benedict S. Bob has (somehow) made it impossible for me to post a comment under my true monicker. Guess he prefers home cooking.

3/23/2006 12:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Will said...

I can eat while I type.

More on the repository of "demons" - one thing that I think makes Shakespeare so immortal is his ability to underscore the "archetype-ness" of human passions. Yes, Shakespeare wrote the "secular scriptures" but to do so, he had to corral the passion archetypes, concentrate them, portray their very essence. And did so with unsurpassed genius.

This is why I think such a mythology sprang up around the Macbeth play. You know, all the alleged calamities that have ensued when the play has been staged, the fact that actors are spooked to the point where they won't even utter the play's title when they are performing in it - it's just the "Scottish play" to them.

Well, my theory is that the play is so very spot-on archetypal in its depiction of a descent into evil that is actually really does create something of a vortex which conjurs, in effect, the kabbalistic demons from the repository. The play is, in effect, a conjuring ritual. At least to a very limited degree.

Well, my bowl of Quakers oats just hit the floor. Maybe eating 'n typing wasn't such a great idea. I'll get back.

*&*#!@%*& Shakespeare!

3/23/2006 12:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Will said...

BTW, Benedict - you couldn't find the real topic of this blog if you were issued a compass, a map, and a personal tour guide.

That's why you get ignored.

3/23/2006 12:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't mind being ignored. Most of the people of the world have found the pathway away from my door without even trying. But my momma told me to tell you, will, that you should never be rude to half-witted people like her son. I jus' ain't nice.

3/23/2006 12:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Will said...

anonynously Benedict - if you want to confuse directness with rudeness, fine. Bob is direct with you, as am I - and that's far more honest than your coy, half-disguised, petty little slams.

You came in here the other day preening about how courageous you were to show your face after Bob had righteously, justly, squelched you. Wanna show some real courage? Ask yourself - is Bob talking about something I really don't know about? Has he experienced something I haven't? Should I start asking some questions?

There are eleventy biliion other places on the net where your perspective fits right in. Go to them, they call you.

3/23/2006 01:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Sal said...

Now this is what I love about Bob's blog: getting a new metaphor to play around with about - not angels, b/c I believe angels are actual sentient creatures created by God, not me - but the habit of virtue (or vice), and by extension, the communion of saints.

Action as language - very nice.

3/23/2006 02:01:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Good Afternoon all-

I like to think that by my commenting on Bob's blog that I am becoming a part of a group of friends that share some common bond regardless of our individual backgrounds. Ya know, like a peanut gallery of some sorts! Every peanut gallery has one really odd shaped nut. Benedict is our nut! He is probably very lonely because he believes no one else can even come close to him intellectually and well, Spinoza is dead....He keeps thinking that he is continually proving his point but we just cannot grasp his true meaning. The problem is that he uses really big impressive words that when strung together completely miss the point Bob is trying to make. He asks vertical questions but then tries to find answers in the horizontal and fails to come up with a rational answer. His natural conclusion is that there is not really a vertical. It is this self-convoluted logic that is his demon. But then again, what do I know, I could be completely misunderstanding what he is trying to say....He obviously keeps coming back because he is looking for something. Bob & Petey may be the answer for him. He can be our experiment and we can chart the progress of development by his comments. I think Benedict should stick around unless he is trying to purposefully offend and annoy on a constant basis. It's also kind of funny! hee hee.

3/23/2006 02:10:00 PM  
Anonymous dilys said...

A point on aesthetics keeps bothering me. It's a fine line, bec. a lot of gnosticism and (genuine) fascism and other romanticism seems "run" by aesthetics (unmoored from truth or caritas). See e.g. today's TCS column on " 'cool' as justifier" in the film V for Vendetta.

There's even an undertone in the delightful designs of New Urbanism, no ugly plastic accoutrements of big families or cookie-cutter tasteless merchants for the tired tasteless hurried unwashed. IMO, and more dangerously, aesthetics also to some degree informs the broadening scope of euthanasia policy.

So aesthetics as a standard is itself a challenge and a test of moral maturity, residing perhaps in the depth and sensibility of the definition of "beauty," which can turn out to be a tautology in a loop with other pre-determined conclusions, and not necessarily distinct from the costume of will's critters to be given a wide berth as not healthy for living things.

It is probably best that, short of the beatific vision, the definition of beauty is always growing and refining itself. Though it's clear early on that an outright assault on beauty (or truth, or agape) is a dead give-away that something is off.

3/23/2006 02:31:00 PM  
Blogger LiquidLifeHacker said...

Will, you are definately on to something, for example the movie the exorcist! My spirit really cannot stand it! If I see it on tv during halloween week I can't change the channel fast enough and yet it has such a cult like following!

Bob, I think you did a lovely post today on the good and evil that is present all the time, I think so many never open their eyes to the spiritual war that is going on all the time, but when we learn it's forces we can put on our own armour and fight back! We all make choices of which side we are on every day!

I think asking God to protect us in our going out and coming in is a good practice, because those evil forces are always pulling at us! I have said before that I pray for protection even for my dreams.
Don'tcha just love those stories about how someone was going to do some harm to someone or a tribe was going to burn down a village and how someone is spared because the enemy said they saw 'angels' big warriors or big guys all around the target? I truly believe that God protects his children, just like gravity protects the world from things in the bigger cosmos from like flying debri comets! Not that comets are bad, but there are forces out there working for us and against us no doubt! There is such a balance and although death is a system failure for these human bodies, it's good to know that God is in control of the big systems!

BTW Bob, could you ask Petey what is really going on when we see a shooting star? I am sure he has some hidden meaning on that to share?

3/23/2006 02:36:00 PM  
Anonymous kahntheroad said...

Along my current journey I found myself at a Rosh Shoshanna service where the rabbi, during the traditional sermon on the story of Abraham and Isaac, defined an angel as anyone who comes along at the right time. That statement was a catalyst for my seeing beyond the complicating cartoonish metaphors of religion, as it suddenly explained so much.

That was in the middle of my 8 month aimless wander across the country from New York to California. Throwing myself into that limitless existence - literally deciding each moment on a whim - put me face to face with 'good' and 'evil.' There were towns I'd enter, rooms I'd sleep in, backroads I'd wander that just held an invisible darkness; a fierce temptation to madness. Sure, they can be explained away as projections; either way, standing firm to these 'forces' empowered me.

More difficult to explain were the 'angels' - whom I could now reconcile based on the rabbi's definition. Otherwise normal people who would appear beside me - by a motel pool, a dive bar, a truck stop cafe -strike up conversation and impart words of wisdom too timely and deep to be casual.

A week after this Rabbi's sermon, at a bar in Kansas City, I was about to leave for the evening Yom Kippur service and a giddy, laughing little boy ran in, jumped up on the adjacent stool, grabbed a stack of drink coasters and said, "Wanna cut the deck?" "Sure," I said, humoring him. I handed him back the coasters and he dealt them like a Vegas pro. We sat there for a half hour, in an intense undetermined card game, throwing down "cards" and drawing from the deck. There was an eerie orange afternoon glow and the bar was practically empty. I drank gin, he pounded Shirley temples.

I looked at the time, I had to go - I was late for temple. "Okay, kid, who won?"

The boy just laughed.

His father came in, "Time to go...c'mon Isaac! Isaac!

My face turned white.

"Can i show him!" Isaac said to his father.

"Sure..."

The boy had a little fake tattoo of a cartoon ghost on his wrist. "I'm a ghost!" He said. "I'm a ghost! And look! I glow in the dark!"

That night, after temple, as the sun was setting, I took Pascal's wager and actually prayed for the first time.

Wow...sorry for the long post...I normally don't discuss these experiences, but that just came out...

3/23/2006 02:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Kahntheroad said...

Oh, speaking of Kabalah, here's a free audiobook download that I've found to be pretty enlightening:

http://www.learnoutloud.com/Free-Audio-Video/Religion-and-Spirituality/-/Attaining-the-Worlds-Beyond/15457

3/23/2006 02:59:00 PM  
Blogger LiquidLifeHacker said...

Hiya Dilys,
I think the whole superhero thing is entertaining, even to this day, I will say that when I grow up I am going to be a "superhero" HA HA, but the fact is, we love the superhero because it transforms our imagination into that hero that will battle good vs evil. That is always the theme! It's an extension of our daily life on principals and frustration about them! It's the part of us that wants to rise above our humanistic body and transform into a super power!

The thing though is, IMHO, the reality is that they always have a costume, ever notice that? OR they have a mask! Why is that? It's portrayed as if it conceals their identity so that they can leave a dual lifestyle but really, the mask to me, resembles the hiding of real truth! Because in my heart, I know that Jesus is really the ONLY superhero for me and when He comes back He won't be wearing any mask! So all the masked superheros out there from Batman to V......are just posers....just wannabes....but they still can give hope of justice, protection, and the things to come in Christ! Of course one would have look at it that way instead of watching the vigilante vibe...because the superheros we see in movies and comics sometimes use bad things to make good their end goal...using the level of evil that the enemy has against them but Jesus has the ultimate power over earth and heaven so for Him, there is no need to use evil at all! With God...all things work together according to His purpose.

I can see how the seduction of "superheros" might be paving a path for "evil" to pretend to be a superhero and fool many. Maybe our psyches are being groomed for that very thing! Ummm...lets see who will 'Evil' try to impersonate with great power? Won't Evil be given power to do "copperfield" type magic? Isn't that to come?

3/23/2006 03:06:00 PM  
Anonymous dilys said...

will's "see how anger actually seems to magnify your sense of self?" reminds me of several endocrine studies that show endorphins give sensations of pleasure when people perceive themselves as dominating socially, proving themselves "right," showing off as more insightful or more compassionate, etc. We probably iteratively train ourselves on several levels toward love-truth-beauty, or domination-spin-etc. I also remember hearing that the endocrine system is the medium whereby the body interfaces with the Vertical plane, either upward or toward the darker pole.

Bob, your knowledge of psycho-ceuticals have any light on this?

3/23/2006 03:18:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Benedict--

Like most boorish and disrespectful people, you're also paranoid. I haven't done anything to prevent you from taking credit for your middlebrowbeating vacuities. Blogspot is just having technical difficulties. Unlike your difficulties, they will soon be resolved.

3/23/2006 03:20:00 PM  
Blogger LiquidLifeHacker said...

kahntheroad,

I love the things you share here!
I always enjoy reading your contributions!

As for "angels" you know, I never see them as the cherubs, although I know that is the "symbol visual" but in my heart I know they are fierce warriors! In fact, if you look at the times when angels appeared to people they always had to say Do not fear! I think it was more their appearance than anything! God probably gives them power to take on other forms when needed, but I think they are awesome warriors in big size always willing to do battle for God!

3/23/2006 03:23:00 PM  
Blogger LiquidLifeHacker said...

Ha Ha Bob, bless your heart, you are getting blamed for powers you don't even have!

*Maybe it's Petey playing with the internet gods?

3/23/2006 03:25:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Dily's last post got me thinking about how spirit or the essence is also likened to breath. The breath also seems to be a link to the vertical. Each cell in our body needs breath and oxygen to function as part of the ATP process. Each cell is like a mini-cosmos that makes up a larger cosmos. Similar to those Russian dolls that fit inside each other. Respiration is a re-inspiration!

3/23/2006 03:33:00 PM  
Blogger LiquidLifeHacker said...

The breath also seems to be a link to the vertical. Each cell in our body needs breath and oxygen to function as part of the ATP process. Each cell is like a mini-cosmos that makes up a larger cosmos. Similar to those Russian dolls that fit inside each other. Respiration is a re-inspiration!


I love that Lisa! God breathed his word (bible) and you know, He breathes life into each of us and for me...well when I hear or feel the beating of my own heart, I am reminded that it's God's hand massaging it!

3/23/2006 03:36:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

spirit
inspiration
inspire

All the same root.

3/23/2006 03:37:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

That's why the abortion issue is not such a big deal to me during the first few months of conception. I believe the babies spirit enters its body on its first breath. If a baby cannot breath on its own it is just a shell or physical body much like a virus. The spirit that was to enter that body will just move to the next body. I do have problems with abortion after the fetus is mature enough to breath on its own and do consider that killing a baby. I hope this doesn't offend anyone as it certainly not my intention.

3/23/2006 03:43:00 PM  
Anonymous dilys said...

As per Bob's out-the-door authorization, here's one regarding "useful idiots." The subject is the Yale Taliban student.

Meme: "Moral Overconfidence" Mr. Muller concluded in an op-ed piece entitled "Sympathy for the Devil" that the "moral overconfidence of Yale students makes them subject to manipulation by people who are genuinely evil."

http://www.proteinwisdom.com/index.php/weblog/entry/19960/
http://www.yaledailynews.com/article.asp?AID=21623

In a way, this might be a response to LLH on The Evil That Is To Come. Escape from vulnerability to deception by whatever that turns out to be, is likely to be afforded only by a state of mind that is "working out our own salvation with fear and trembling."

Though it may be M.O. to have an opinion...

As to superhero narrative, I have some ideas too dull to inflict on the world at large, so might look for an email address at LLH's outpost.

3/23/2006 03:45:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Kahntheroad:
Thanks for sharing that. I have had several such encounters. It's when you look back and trace the web of coincidence that spins off of those moments that you begin to see the incredible hand of synchronicity at work. Think about the chain of events that led you to this blog. (Benedict- do the same)
These encounters have more than once led me to- I was about to say the conclusion- but it isn't a 'conclusion' like the one you reach when you diagnose the reason that the car won't start- the gut sense is more like it- that there must be a Greater Hand at play here.
Something- it may be as small as a casual comment that you hear- but it makes an impression on you which causes you to check something else out which leads you on to read something... Before you know it, you start messin' with this God business, and the next thing you know you're sniffin' around religion. Heaven knows what happens next...

(OK sorry- that was really cornball.)

JWM

3/23/2006 04:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Will said...

Dilys -

Your point on a certain pernicious brand of aesthetics - might not this boil down to the great bane of the 20-21st centuries, "glamour"? The word "glamour", I believe, is derived from the word "gramyre" or something similar to that, which translates, Scottishly, as "school of the magical arts." In other words, to be glamorized by something is to literally have a seductive spell cast on you.

That same "magnifying" effect of anger is a self-cast spell, abetted, of course, by the kabbalistic demons. The great repository of passions, which do magnify our individual passion, could account for the addiction syndrome. The more the passion is indulged, the greater its allure. And of this could fall under the rubric of "glamour".

The modern glamour-machines are obviously formidable. It's takes quite a bit of wakefullness to see through them, resist them. Film, of course, could be described as the apex/nadir of glamour, the projecting of what is not really there onto a screen. Film is inherently glamourizing. Useful idiots of all sorts, from Leni Riefenstahl to Michael Moore to Oliver Stone have employed it.

My point, however, is that glamour can be transmitted on many lower aesthetic levels, I think.

3/23/2006 04:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a wandering spiritual seeker who happened upon this blog a couple of weeks ago. In theory, I felt at the onset of reading it that I could gain knowledge here.

However, I am somewhat confused about some of the things I read here. I appreciate the substantive content, but what confuses me is what I perceive to be very negative, judgmental words, occasionally by Mr. Godwin, and often by the commentors.

What I am trying to understand is the spiritual nature of this attitude. As I read, I find myself having a very visceral reaction to this negativity. It makes me wonder whether it is possible to understand the spiritual on all the levels of which you speak and yet hold on to an unnecessarily harsh view, not just of humanity, but of particular innocent individuals who are only searching for a path to spiritual understanding.

I wonder, Mr. Godwin, about your perspective on compassion. What do you think of those who set aside barriers to befriend those who might otherwise be considered their natural enemies? Are these good people, stupid people or bad people? As I believe you said a few days ago, the devil is in the details.

June

3/23/2006 04:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Will said...

Sal -

I don't think the kabbalistic notion of creating "angels" negates the concept of the proto-angels as self-aware entities.

In some way, I think, the angels we imagine into being on a microcosmic level do have a consciousness of sorts, albeit not self-aware. On the other hand, we might think of the divine hierarchy of angels as having been imagined into being by God - and they are self-aware entities, even as they are principles of nature, higher and lower.

3/23/2006 04:40:00 PM  
Blogger LiquidLifeHacker said...

Dilys, you always have such cool links, as being "evil sympathizers" for the likes of Yale or Princeton...hahahhaaha, I think one must add that "lining pockets" of certain institutions is quite persuasive also!

I don't think anyone wouldn't be interested in your opinion on superhero stuff....share share share!

My email is a yahoo one btw!

As for the scripture that you linked to, I wonder if we can get Bob to discuss "fear" of our vertical. Isn't that the first sign of real knowledge?

June, welcome to the Cosmos...
and ummmm...sorry if you feel that any of us come off negative or hostile in any way, but we just toss ideas and thoughts around to share. We all have individual opinions and such but we are a loving bunch for sure just hang around longer and you will see that. It's okay to disagree. I guess when discussing truths it isn't always pleasant.

3/23/2006 04:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Will said...

>>However, I am somewhat confused about some of the things I read here. I appreciate the substantive content, but what confuses me is what I perceive to be very negative, judgmental words, occasionally by Mr. Godwin, and often by the commentors.<<

Anonymous - Not along ago, someone brought up the same point that you just did re the "unspiritual" nature of some of our responses to Benedict the Anonymous. Here's what I replied then, and if it doesn't make sense to you, so be it:

Bob can answer for himself obviously, but since I'm the one who is loosing most of the arrows here, let me say a couple of things in response to your comment.

First, in any other blog I would deal with benedict as I would any fellow citizen of earth, that is, with a modicum of respect and courtesy. On the street, I'd do what I can to help benedict with his daily burden. But Bob's blog is not any other blog, and it's certainly not street-level. In a way, this blog is a little patch of Dreamtime (in the Aboriginal sense) - this is, as far as blogs go, a realm of the Archetypes. Personalities don't matter here; essence does. This is where the archetypal chess pieces come into sharp focus. And there is a chess game going on, ie., war.

It's not just the war in Iraq or the cultural/civilizational clash. Those are the material manifestations of war on the meta-level, and a real war, it is. Here, like it or not, benedict is the Enemy. In the consensus reality world, benedict might be a perfectly nice guy, might give to charities and be kind to children and small animals; I might even like him. But here, he is the Enemy. He is, by virtue of his own words, on the other side. Doesn't mean he'd attack you on the street. But he's quite literally serving a side that wants to destroy us.

Here, in this blog-realm, you don't hold back in the face of the Enemy. In some respects, there's really a minumum of nuance here when it comes to the Big Issues. I'm told there was a war in heaven once. Now this was no doubt a clash on some metaphysical level with implications and meanings far far beyond my ken, but bottom line, it was a war and there probably wasn't a lot of troubled thought about Old Testament-like overreaction involved, if you know what I mean. In the archetypal theater, slack should not be cut - to do so is to compromise and should never compromise when the Big Issues are at stake.

One other thing - this isn't a case of projecting my own "inner-benedict" onto an external entity named "benedict". Oh, I've got an inner-benedict all right and I'm well aware of him. All my comments re the outer-benedict and all that he represents in the external world are addressed to the inner-benedict as well. No compromises with him either.

3/23/2006 04:53:00 PM  
Blogger LiquidLifeHacker said...

Concerning Harvard, did anyone read Harvard's New Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion

3/23/2006 05:05:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

June--

You'll have to give a specific example(s) of what I wrote, and I will be happy to explain why I wrote it. But in general, the idea that spirituality does not involve negative judgments is, I believe, entirely incorrect. I have no idea where it comes from, because it comes from no authentic tradition of which I am aware. Actually, I do have an idea of where it comes from, but that would involve another negative judgment, so I won't go there for the moment.

3/23/2006 05:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Will said...

A Brief Take On Madonna And Her Dip Into The River Kabbalah:

Not long ago, John Profumo died. When Mr Profumo became headline material, I was not quite sentient enough to know what was going on but in later years I caught up. Profumo had been Brit Sec of War in 1961, I think, had disgraced himself in a sex scandal, and had resigned from public office. What I hadn't been aware of is that after his resignation from office, Profumo never tried to seek the public eye again - and he was a gifted guy, could have done so. Instead he became a social worker in London's West End, ladling out food in soup kitchens and the like. And did so anonymously, for the rest of his days. It was said that there was never a day went by that he didn't have pangs of remorse and guilt over his shameful conduct.

Compare and contrast with Madonna, who a short while ago was simulating masturbation onstage for the edification of 14 year old girls. She goes from Whore of Babylon to self-proclaimed avatar, who has been "born to bring Light into the world" (her words) with nary a stop in between.

I'm all for conversions. However - call me old-fashioned but I think there should be some period, a la Profumo, of self-imposed expiation, at least, for one's spiritual offences before one takes the stage again, cloaked in the kabbalah and a desire to bring Light to humankind. Otherwise, you know, one kinda doubts the depth of the conversion.

These days, when one has disgraced one's self publically, instead of penance and expiation, the following is prescribed:

write a self-excusing book, go on talk shows and blather about it, and don't even think about resigning from whatever office you disgraced.

3/23/2006 05:17:00 PM  
Anonymous July said...

June, I too feel a dis-ease from reading this blog, which is distinctly out of character with spiritual development as taught by the enlightened masters I'm familiar with. (Bob, I hope you aren't opposed to some dissention. You sure aren't getting it from the rank-and-file.)

But. What I find after a couple of weeks is that one can make a distinction between Bob and the Bobbers. The negativity seems to be coming from the "peanut gallery", to take a line from one of the peanuts. Bob himself takes a workman-like approach to "putting someone in their place". He doesn't seem to do it for the sheer pleasure. It's as if he heaves a sigh and wipes some bugs off the windshield so he can see/be seen. Some of the Bobbers do seem to be well acquainted with negative energy. They can spin it off like cotton candy, and their glee is evident.

Personally I endure the unpleasantness. I find the source blogs to be truly inspired. I don't always agree with them, and I have learned that, to paraphrase the old Twilight Zone intro, "Bob controls the vertical. Bob controls the horizontal." At first I resented it but I am coming to appreciate it. He is a wonderful writer, a little dazzled at times by his own brilliance, but from a content and a style standpoint, hey. We should be paying for this stuff, but we're getting it for free. In the world of ideas, Any Man's a King. We are all in charge of our own Jewels. The BS detector is always on, but this blog is in a class by itself.

My advice to you June is to take the "chat room" aspect of this blog lightly. I do, and stay out of the chatter. I'm not reading this blog for the insights of the comment section. Not that some of the regular contributors don't seem like interesting folks, seekers in their own right, but I wonder as I read this how I would react were I in Father Bob's place, watching the loonyverse unfold as it does in the comments section. I won't try to speak for Bob. That seems to be the domain of the Bobbers. But I will say that, save for the "footballing" of Benedict S, for the most part Bob seems to stay away from specific bashing. I may learn differently with this comment. He seems to save his energy for the bombing of an entire ideology (emoteology), or what have you, and justifies it as he goes along. That's my take and I'm sticking to it.

~~July

3/23/2006 05:58:00 PM  
Blogger LiquidLifeHacker said...

Wow July, that was a deeeeeeep critical review of this blog, the writer, and the commenters, but again...it's your opinion eh? I don't know why, if you have been reading from the shadows that you can't see that we "bobbers" as you call us are NOT here worshipping Bob! Step into the light and you might get enlightened on that matter.

As for agreeing or disagreeing with Bob, I think alot of opinion and contributions are tossed around and sometimes thoughts have added more comments of personal experience by others but in no way should you feel force fed or intimidated by it. It's just sharing.

I have no problem being called a "Jesus Freak" here since I have voiced who I worship and you know what? NOT once has Bob dissed that or discouraged that! I think if you will read through the archives that we actually discussed even the "vertical" term and how everyone has their own responsibility to use that as a variable to place your chosen higher power into. If you haven't figured that out yet...well I challenge you to do so and go back and actually read what Bob and the others have shared. If you can't get Bob's humor or wit then I challenge you to read Finnigan's wake and get a little punning going and perhaps it will start to click for ya!

3/23/2006 06:33:00 PM  
Anonymous John Hinds said...

Hi, I have been reading One Cosmos under God, though, and don't tell Petey this, the check still hasn't cleared so it is like I am on a free ride, though at the price paid it is a wonderful bargain indeed. The scholarship is formidable. Just the footnotes in the ever so playful intro is enough to make a hundred PHDs gasp with envy. Your references and aliterations touch almost everything I have ever read or even heard about from authors to subjects.

So. I took some time to get caught up with your blog this evening. Aside from the usual approbation I gotta wonder if I am the only one that thinks June and July are really Benedict. Hmmm!

Ya'll take care.

3/23/2006 06:59:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Hilarious! John, I think you are onto something there....Funny, how perceptions really do cloud reality. I've never felt a negative vibe coming from any peanut here! Wasn't it God who said to Moses, "I am who I am"...?

3/23/2006 07:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Will said...

Well, July, I see what you mean. When Bob has referred to you - I'm sorry, I mean to Benedict - as being "disrespectful", "boorish", "paranoid", and, as I recall, "a clueless jackass", (all dead-on descriptions that I agree with), there really is a workmanlike quality in evidence.

I shall endeavor to jettison all my negativity and evil glee when justifiably slamming you, July - I'm sorry, I mean when slamming Benedict - and shall go about it more workman-like.

3/23/2006 07:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Petey said...

June and July--

Regarding the august Bob. Respectfully, I don't understand the complaint about the occasional negativity, or about how he is different than, ahem, "other enlightened masters." For one thing, Bob has made it quite clear in previous posts that he is specifically not trying to pretend to be something he is not. It's hard enough for him to pretend to be something he is, like a psychologist.

Secondly, in all fairness, I think you would have to agree that Bob dispatches his ideological enemies with as much affable gallantry and good humor as he can muster, considering the circumstances. You know, these being the end times and all.

For example, in the unlikely event that this blog ever becomes popular enough to come to the attention of the dark forces of a dailykos, then you will understand hatred, rage, hostility, heavyhandedness, shrillness, paranoia, etc. Yes, I have at times let an intemperate remark escape the place where my lips would be if I had them. But Bob engages in none of those things. It reminds me of how the left always thinks George Bush is bashing them, but he almost never mentions them. He's never called anyone "unpatriotic," but the left is constantly accusing him of that.

Also, you have to imagine Bob speaking, not writing. And imagine that he is speaking in a calm, light-hearted, bemused, and matter-of-fact way. You might well be reading a lot of emotionality into the situation that isn't there. That's easy to do when you're reading, because you are the one who's supplying the emotionality. You don't see the wink, much less the twinkle. I do. It's one of the things I like about him.

Of course, Bob is not at all averse to dissension, but he's very old school. He actually wants to learn from people who know more than him. And he wants to help people who, at the moment, know less. And he is delighted to discuss, debate, and shoot the breeze with equals. He has no interest whatsover in learning from people who know less, or presuming to teach people who know more. He has never once tried to teach me anything. He'd better not.

Benedict is a special case, because he is a breathtakingly disrespectful jackass of the first rank. For example, on his little blogroll he has a link entiteld "laughably deep stuff," which, if you click, takes you to this blog. And yet, he comes here to comment, and his blog seems to consist of little more than a running commentary on One Cosmos. Frankly, it probably bothers me more than Bob. But Bob won't refrain from calling him what he is, so long as he acts like one. If Benedict wants to contribute to the debate, that's fine. But he clearly has his own narrow agenda which most of our readers long ago rejected. And they're not going back. No one's going to take him seriously here, any more than they would take seriously the juvenile arguments of an atheist or materialist.

I don't think it's fair to call the commenters here "bobbers." The correct term is "bobbleheads."

Seriously, the whole point of Bob's book and his system is to create a way for people to think about and deepen their own spiritual understanding, regardless of their tradition. It really doesn't matter what Bob says, unless people can use it as a way to illuminate or deepen their own understanding from the inside--not to try to apply his ideas from the outside in. I may be wrong, but I really don't see people doing that here. If it was happening, I would be the first to let Bob know.

3/23/2006 07:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How unfortunate , and I might add unAmerican,that you would describe someone with a point of view that runs counter to your own as the enemy. I do not share the political, spiritual, or philosophical viewpoint that benedict s holds but I have found him to be intellectually honest and willing to hear what individuals like me have to say despite our differences.The fact that the author of this blog finds it necessary to censor the man leads me to wonder whether his philosophy can pass the smell test.Seems to me, if you don't like what the man is saying you can ignore him, or you can offer a sound agrument, without the personal attacks, to support your point of view. But then again, it is your blog and I suppose if you don't want to hear divergebt opinions you can always take you ball and go home.

3/23/2006 07:57:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Anonymous--

I would say you are being intellectually dishonest, but that presumes something beyond pure emotionality.

You are either lying or misinformed to suggest that I have censored anyone. Benedict is the one who, for reasons that escape me, made it his business to come here and announce his presence by insulting me and my readers. Responding to his insults and pompously ill-informed comments is not "attacking," it is responding. It is the opposite of censoring.

3/23/2006 08:18:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Hey Will-

I think you were onto something when you wrote earlier about people not wanting to talk about Macbeth because it was inviting evil. It seems that Bob has done the same thing just by discussing evil, it has attracted some vile anonymous and monthly creatures. I think most of the "bobbleheads" around here can wade through the crap and keep talking about the good stuff! If someone doesn't appreciate the topics of discussion around this blog, why don't they just leave? It is sooo judgmental of them to call us negative and judgmental! So there! Is there a computer sign for sticking your tongue out!?

BTW, for people with little or no sense of humor, that was a joke! ;0)

3/23/2006 08:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Will said...

Petey - hmm, well, I thought of us as being "bobcats" or possibly "bob-bob-a-lumas", but "bobbleheads" does have a nice vibrational quality.

3/23/2006 08:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Will said...

Lisa-

There's always a Benedict. Always. I think maybe if he didn't exist, we'd have to invent him.

You know Gurdjieff, the guy who, back in the 20's, devised a method of "waking up"? Long story there but in his classes he used to hire a really really annoying guy to just hang with the students and . . .well, be annoying to the max. And the students would have to do their best to maintain their spiritual sangfroid while Annoying Guy continued to be annoying. Thus Annoying Guy was, in Gurdjieff's scheme, a necessary item, a test, if you will. Same as when the zen teachers scream at their students who are in meditation.

NO, I don't think Benedict is a plant. Well, maybe he's a plant "from above", so to speak. Actually, that Bob's blog has attracted a Benedict is yet more validation that the blog and what ensues in here is definitely worth it, spiritually-wise.

There's an old saying, "the closer you get to the sacred, the closer you get to the profane."

3/23/2006 08:56:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Wow! That was a crazy experience. I just linked on that frontpage link from Dilys about the pathetic "academic" paper. My leg fell asleep and was throbbing pains and needles and felt sick to my stomach as I was reading. I came back and read Will's last post and started laughing and felt perfectly fine and even light! I don't care what anyone says, this is a fun blog!

3/23/2006 09:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Will said...

Right, Lisa!

This blog is Pilates without the machines.

3/23/2006 09:22:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Most definitely!

3/23/2006 09:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Will said...

Dilys -

Bob could inform you better than I re the glandular system, but yes, Edgar Cayce, for one, had any number of "readings" on the link between the glandular system and the higher perceptual capacities. I'd recommend him.

The pineal gland, for example, is linked to the fabled "third eye".

3/23/2006 09:35:00 PM  
Anonymous July said...

This is not unexpected, but it is surprising. Especially from a group of truth seekers. I chose my words so as not to indulge in or provoke the kind of behavior I was commenting on~~negativity. In retrospect maybe I could have left out the cotton candy metaphor. I was just trying to be sweet. (That's a joke, Lisa;) But I couldn't say what I wanted to say without um, saying what I wanted to say.

I am naive enough to have imagined that some constructive discussion might ensue from my agreeing and seconding June's observations. Instead, upon returning a few hours later, I encountered more destructive comments and the very negativity June originally brought to the table for discussion. To wit, Mr. Hinds speculated that I might be a Trinity (thanks JH), then Lisa seconded the speculation, which seemed to provide a runway for Will to launch this bit of dis-cuss:

" Well, July, I see what you mean. When Bob has referred to you - I'm sorry, I mean to Benedict - as being "disrespectful", "boorish", "paranoid", and, as I recall, "a clueless jackass", (all dead-on descriptions that I agree with), there really is a workmanlike quality in evidence.
I shall endeavor to jettison all my negativity and evil glee when justifiably slamming you, July - I'm sorry, I mean when slamming Benedict - and shall go about it more workman-like."


Ease up, brother bear! The justification for this outburst was what...me pointing out that there was negativity coming from the comments section, right? Thanks for helping me make my point. I'll buy the next round, OK?
Sarcasm is an interesting form of "humor". It carries with it an aspect of self-loathing. (look it up) Whenever I catch myself resorting to it as a first level of defense, I can usually find the root of my anger within rather than without. Check your sources, so to speak.

Liquid, thank you for eventually making an offer for a meeting of the minds. You put on your brave face when you went to the door, and that reveals a generous spirit. It is inviting. It makes me want to walk into the light rather than remain in the shadows. But honestly, this is not an inviting group as a whole. Perhaps the feeling June was alluding to is that specific feeling of "open discussion not welcome here". If it's not the case, show me that. Don't just tell me that it isn't so.

Now Petey, I won't take the time to find the chapter and verse, so let me risk paraphrasing Reverend Bob: careful reading pays off. I state pretty clearly, twice, that Bob is not the source of the perceived negative vibe. But you instruct me for two paragraphs on how to read Bob so as not to perceive him so negatively. Please devote some of this excess energy you have (from not having to lug around a body) toward two paragraphs worth of how to reverse the polarity of the Bobbleheads as they meet and greet new visitors and guests.


And pass this on to Bob, on the off chance that even though he knows it, he might not be in rememberance of it: the enlightened aren't here. The unenlightened are. If he has truth to tell it will go over just fine on its own. You don't have to sell a hamburger by telling everyone how bad a hotdog is. Of course Bob will say that for his points, he does. Naah. He doesn't. Remind Bob to emphasize the loving aspect of that wrathful, vengeful God from time to time. Encourage him to stop thinking (just for a moment) and feel the love. He can close the blinds and do it in secret if he feels the need. No one has to know... This Love business...It's still one of God's top selling points. And Petey: wink. Pass it on.

So there. I spent my dime. Off with my head? Have at it, brethren. I've been kicked around, and feted, by better gods than you.

Thanks for your time,
~~July

3/24/2006 01:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Will said...

July, since you highlighted me . . .

All the commentary "negativity" that you perceive centers around Benedict. Let's please keep that straight. 99% of the commentary in this blog is civilized, informative, helpful, and compassionate - and that would include my own. I have disagreed with people calmly and without animus.

From the get-go, Benedict proved himself a pompous, egotistical, condescending, self-congratulating, insulting, ass. And he continues to return here to insult. His is a special case. All the opprobrium heaped on his head has been more than merited. If he had not been repeatedly insulting, if he had offered instead well-reasoned disagreements in a civilized manner, he would have been greeted like any other newcomer, ie., with respect and courtesy.

Perhaps you are one of those who regards a vigorous response to invasive buffoons like Benedict as being "un-spiritual" and "unenlightened". If so, you are mistaken, period. Please, enough of the New Agey "non-judgmentalism" - if you can't call the Benedicts of the this world for what they are, then you are abdicating spiritual responsibility. And there's more than enough of that to go around, to the great detriment of those who are trying to uphold some kind of spiritual standard.

Yes, I was negative in responding to you, just as I should have been.

3/24/2006 03:57:00 AM  
Blogger Bro. Bartleby said...

Since those primeval nights we have sought to clothe evil in ever more elaborate finery, creating at times the garish and at others the sinister. So much so that we mistake the garb for the entity. In God's light all things stand naked, Truth is revealed and the nocturnal is exposed to the light of this Truth. Stripped naked evil quivers for what it is, the image of God denied. Free will is the agent.

3/24/2006 04:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Will said...

And, July, this time I gave you the benefit of the doubt in assuming that you are not, in fact, Benedict. Because if I hadn't, I would have expressed yet more of my "self-loathing" sarcasm.

Benedict has proved himself venal enough to cloak his identity and then falsely claim he is being censored. Fact is, your folksy pose bears a resemblance to his.

3/24/2006 04:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Will said...

One other thing, July -

Since you declare yourself knowing of what is enlightened and what is not, why not comment on something other than the commentary? I, for one, would welcome you to do so. As long as you are un-Benedictine, as long as you are not insulting, you won't get any kind of negative reaction from me. You might get a disagreement but it will be expressed in a civilized manner. So, come on, comment on something other than the commentary. Let's see what you got. Step up, get off the sidelines.

3/24/2006 04:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Ben-David said...

One important distinction to observe - especially for Christians - is that in the Jewish view, there is no separate "dominion of evil".

The Talmud says: Satan, and the Angel of Death, and the Prosecuting Angel of Judgement - are one and that same.

This angel has not "fallen" or left G-d's service. His agency is to introduce doubt and the possibility of wrong choice into this, human world. Our ability to freely choose good over an equally plausible evil is what makes us children of G-d, created in His image.

Paradoxically, the obscuring of G-d's presence by physicality is what makes us G-dlike!

No such children exist in the other spheres, however enchanting it may be to speculate upon them.

This leads us to another statement of the Talmud: G-d's main desire is to dwell in this, lower world.

This is precisely because He must be invited into this world, by us and our choices. The uncertainty and choice of this world, in which G-d is obscured, are what make *love* possible.

Without free choice there is no love.

The "angels" of other spheres may be more perfect, but their service of G-d is not freely willed our chosen. There is no love. That is not where G-d wishes to dwell.

The Hasidic saying takes it from another angle:

Where is G-d? Wherever you let Him in.

So this chaotic, obscured world is of supreme importance despite its low "vertical" position among the other spiritual spheres.

It also explains why we sense some positions of the radical left to be not just wrong, but "evil" - because they consistently undermine the fundamental notion of human free will, and the value of that choice. From its focus on class warfare, to the victimology politics of race, to the assertion that sexual and other behaviors follow genetic blueprints and should no longer be judged by moral yardsticks - all these positions undercut the notion of the human being as an individual, a child of G-d in their free will, one whose life - and choices - bridge heaven and earth.

So they are attacking the fundamental purpose of this world.

The most unfortunate of all are those Jews whose parents and grandparents embraced liberal humanism back when it truly was aligned with this more noble, Judeo-Christian view of humanity - and are now riding their left-liberal affiliation down into the pit.

3/24/2006 05:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Ben-David said...

If you like Adin Steinsalz, you should also read the books of Rabbi David Aaron:

Endless Light
Seeing G-d
The Secret Life of G-d
Love is My Religion (a smaller work)

They are available through Amazon.
This is the real deal - not Madonna-style pseudo Kabbalah.

3/24/2006 05:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Will said...

Ben-David -

Interesting. In some esoteric Christian thought, there is a kinship of sorts with the Talmudic view of Satan. That is, there is a distinction between Lucifer - the angel who fufills the divine plan by being the "tester", the necessary oppositional element, this in order to stimulate spiritual growth, and Satan who is thought to be the perversion of Lucifer. Satan is the Luciferic element that did indeed "fall" and that now seeks chaos and destruction for its own sake.

3/24/2006 05:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Will said...

Ben-David -

I should add that the psychological/spiritual value of the Satan-as-tester perspective is obvious: it helps one to see the burdens of life as being spiritual stepping stones.

On the other hand, the Satan-as-thrill-killer perspective also heightens one's sensitivity to evil, which is so clearly abundant in today's world - and does need to be recognized for what it is. By this I don't mean the "devil-made-me-do-it" notion, rather that anybody can succumb to the potential for evil, a potential far more potent that most people would think.

3/24/2006 06:10:00 AM  
Blogger Benedict S. said...

I was a bit concerned about making the claim that I made, fearful (wa-a-a-a-y down deep) that the explanation would be exactly as Bob said, just a gliche. The thought also crossed my mind that good old Bob, clinical psychologist -- at least skin-head deep -- would treat my mistake as symptomatic.

I apologize for my mistake.

Now, back to home base where I will feel free to explain to my fellow sick people the true nature of multiculturalism and how it relates to those who hear voices from on high.

3/24/2006 06:24:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I agree with Ben-David that the most unfortunate group is the liberal Jew who tows the democratic party line. I grew up in this group and many of my oldest, used to be closest, friends remain in that group. It is so sad to see them unable to think honestly and use their education as a jump-board to independent thinking. Many of them are so afraid of the Christian right and Bush's religious overtures, that they miss the true source of evil right in front of their eyes. I see their intolerance of Christians and cannot excuse the hypocrisy. In all honesty, sometimes I get a little freaked out by some of Liquid's religious quotes, but then I remind myself that I like Liquid and his ideas and to get beyond my own insecurities/fears about Christianity. If I replace the word Jesus with God, I can comfortably understand the point of Liquid's comment and hopefully even learn from it. It is beautifully strange how the Christian Right has become Israel's best friend and only true ally in this crazy world we live in today.

3/24/2006 07:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Will said...

Lisa -

I'm neither Catholic or Jewish but I've come to think in some abstract way that both the Catholic Church and the Jews, specifically the state of Israel, are symbolic of humankind's state of spiritual affairs. Microcosms, in short. That is, they are both inherently holy, they carry the flame, and yet they fall tragically short of the goal. Still, they never fall to the point of having to surrender the flame. It's almost as if the Great Drama of all humankind is played out symbolically in their specific dramas.

Thus Jews would be found in the most destructive elements of left-wingism and modern thought, Marx and Freud, eg. Then again, Jews tend to be the most creative, courageous, generous, and compassionate of peoples, artists, scientists, philosophers.

As for the Church - well, Jesuits led the way to "liberation theology", one of the, if not *the* major perversion of Christian doctrine. And I don't need to tell you about the scandals which rocked the Church. On the other hand, the Church still has the most intellectual of Christian apologists, and it's still the most philanthropic org in the world.

If the Church and Israel are indeed symbolic in this manner, what to make of their current dilemma? Israelis surrounded by states swearing to eliminate them, Hamas on one side, Iran on the other, the squeeze tighter than ever. And the Vatican, a little redoubt of spirituality in the sea of secularism that is known as Europe. What does that say about humankind as a whole? At what juncture are we in the Great Drama?

3/24/2006 08:08:00 AM  
Blogger LiquidLifeHacker said...

Awww Lisa, never get freaked out over my love for Jesus! I do however, understand exactly what you are talking about on the "mistrust" towards Christianity from some Jews. It's most unfortunate, but it isn't mistrust done out of hate in the heart of any Jew...it is based on a reaction to past persecution.

I have great hope for the bond between Jews and Christians to become even more stronger because I do believe that we worship the same God! I believe that God grafted us together and I never forget the root! Ephesians 2:12 reminds me to 'remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world'

In fact, I also believe that part of Islam's tactic is to do everything it can to destroy the love between the Jews and Christians.

P.S.(BTW....I think Bob and now Lisa think I am a guy, hee hee, but I am female)

3/24/2006 08:12:00 AM  
Blogger babushka said...

...kicked around, and feted, by better gods than you....

Heh.

On the internet, nobody knows you're a god.

3/24/2006 08:17:00 AM  
Blogger LiquidLifeHacker said...

july---Liquid, thank you for eventually making an offer for a meeting of the minds. You put on your brave face when you went to the door, and that reveals a generous spirit. It is inviting. It makes me want to walk into the light rather than remain in the shadows. But honestly, this is not an inviting group as a whole. Perhaps the feeling June was alluding to is that specific feeling of "open discussion not welcome here". If it's not the case, show me that. Don't just tell me that it isn't so..

July,
I don't need to give you or anyone "permission" to join into the open discussion here! Just jump in! I am sorry that you have felt like the conversation has been spinning by so fast here that you had to wait for "June" to inject an opening for you! Its a blog for "petey's" sake! Ha Ha...and I think it's pretty obvious to most that when Bob turned on the comments option that it was an "invitation" for his readers to join in!

3/24/2006 08:19:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

oops, sorry Liquid, I did actually think you may be female! It's really hard to tell from your picture but as I look closer those are female legs!

Just wondering if the usual commenters on this site (you know who you are) Does it physically hurt to be so smart? I am continually impressed by most of the comments on this site. They usually force me to think a bit harder and deeper. Thanks and I am not being sarcastic when I ask that question.

3/24/2006 08:22:00 AM  
Blogger LiquidLifeHacker said...

Lisa--Just wondering if the usual commenters on this site (you know who you are) Does it physically hurt to be so smart?

Ha Ha...I wouldn't know, since I don't fall under the "smart" category! Is there a 'desire to be smarter?' Thats where I sit...yeah I sit in that section as close to the front as I can!

3/24/2006 08:27:00 AM  
Anonymous yesandno said...

The past few years have been in turmoil...on a global scale, on a personal life scale...and I find an inability to put it all into perspective at times. Then I read this:

"see how anger actually seems to *magnify* your sense of self? How it seems to build on itself? How is actually feels, in a very self-centering way, quite good? And how you'd like it to feel even better?"

And I feel like that statement does indeed explain a big portion of what has been going on. In personal things, loosing sense of self to other events and realizing I am alone without any attention, yes on some days it does make me very angry, makes me want attention that only being in a rant can convey. I may be crazy in my rant, but I got your attention.

Same on the global scene. A culture that has not progressed over the centuries now gets angry and demands attention of self. And others who support such endeavors seek to also magnify their sense of self by demonizing the honest through a constant tantrum.

I am barely off the horizontal in this blog , I know. But I learn everyday. And if it helps me think of new heights, then that is good.
________________

Why is it always negative to choose between what is right and what is wrong? Between awareness and lack thereof?

If one reports a crack in the bridge, many will be grateful for the knowlegde: Some to fix the problem, others just to avoid the path that leads to the bridge.

In addition, there will also be a group that complains that you should not have pointed it out to begin with since nothing has happened and is unlikely to do so since the crack has been there for years.....so no problem.

No matter the truth, someone will think that you are negative for simply bringing it up for discussion.

3/24/2006 08:51:00 AM  
Blogger LiquidLifeHacker said...

Great post yesandno and all I would add to it is, sometimes the truth is not always pleasant!

I personally think that part of being alive is to feel the good..the bad...and the ugly. I know that I have much joy when the good is going on and that I learn to be stronger and depend on my maker in the lessons of bad times and I truly learn empathy and compassion in the knowledge of how fragile we all are in all the things ugly.

3/24/2006 10:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Kahntheroad said...

C'mon guys, 67 comments??? This is by far a record for this blog, and over what? Daily Kos style bickering.

I think there is something to the fact that Bob's post on evil brought this on. I'm not going to concur that Benedict is 'evil' I went through an Objectivist phase where we used to call all dissenters evil (which became just about everyone) and it's just not constructive. Lets not take the term lightly. Evil is serious business, and it's not just being wrong or negative. If we are here we have all had our intellectual struggles and have all walked a difficult, often confused path. If being wrong is evil, well, then I was once evil, and, who knows, maybe I still am.

The distinction is that there is no hope for evil. Terrorists are evil. Hitler was evil. These are people who consciously, methodically embrace the dark side.

Where ever we are heading it's still early in the game and we live in a world and a culture that is not accustomed nor prepared for vision and moral clarity required. This is a period of searching and adjustment for everyone. Some will be slow to the gate, and some - through grace and good fortune - will 'awaken' sooner. If we do indeed believe we are on to something then it is incumbent on us to accept the responsibility of holding that gate open...serving a beacon and not a barrier to others.

If there are people who come here and are sincerely put off by our attitudes then perhaps we should humbly take that to heart. It's one thing to chase away trouble-makers, but it would be sad if well-intentioned people are needlessly driven away from these ideas.

Anyway, I think it is beneath the intellectual stature of the core readership of this blog to waste time and space bickering over one obnoxious person. If someone makes comments that are irrelevant or unhelpful just ignore them and they might go away. If they don't, well, skipping over their words takes less time than filling up a whole thread with this type of teen-chat board nonsense.

3/24/2006 02:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Kahntheroad said...

"I think the most seductive of lies are those which mirror most closely the Truth."

I think Bob puts it nicely in the book blurb: "Fascist = Leftist in a Hurry"

All of the Grand Lies - from the snake on to communism to the Nazi master race - are enticing because they offer short cuts to The Truth. On a smaller level we have the old snake oil salesman (hmmm, never made the Eden connection to that term) or infomercial diet fads.

God has things planned a certain way, but it's too damn slow, so 'evil' tempts us with another way.

I suppose what's so frightening about today is the lack of logic involved. Or maybe it's more that people today are frightened and running from the truth.

It's an odd luxury to only know how to run away.

At least the masses in, say Germany or Russia, were in a more desperate state where they wanted something. Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, etc. all had a forward looking, but deeply flawed vision. They were perfectionists and their broad appeal was grounded in man's most basic longings for community, achievement, advancement. That, I think, is the deepest level of evil - when one lures another based on the purest longings of the human heart. Like the pathology of preying on a child with an offer of candy.

Today, what do our enemies and their hapless appeasers want? To desperately cling to the Teddy Bear of the past (or, in the case of the Islamists, keep the rest of the world in their darkness).

It's frightening, because we're dealing with people who have nothing to lose - no standards, not even a real ideology. At least those swayed by the dreams of, say, communism, could - conceivably - come to their senses when it is proven to fail, or is defeated in war. But what do the masses want today? Do they even know?

I'd rather be chased by a healthy animal - it might get tired, or go for easier prey. On the other hand it's much more dangerous to be up against a desperate, cornered animal. And at least the cornered animal has the instinct for it's own survival, rather than delusions of 72 Virgins.

3/24/2006 08:41:00 PM  

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