Fatigue and Fuzzy Vision in the No-Spinoza Zone
One thing about fatigue and illness. They do serve to reinforce the hyperdimensional nature of reality, for when we are sick or tired--at least for me--the higher dimensions sort of become eclipsed. The world collapses back down to its lowest representation, the material. In fact, one of the most painful aspects of chronic pain and illness--including mental illness---is that it tends to foreclose those higher dimensions, leaving us exiled in a flatland of mere physicality.
I cannot emphasize this enough. Sophisticated secularists are of the uniform belief that religiosity represents a lower order of thought, at best a quaint mythological way to represent our infantile hopes and wishes. But this could not be a greater distortion of the truth, for in reality, we must raise intellect up to religion, not lower religion down to our intellect. In order to do this, we must develop latent capacities that lay dormant in the psyche. In so doing, the familiar world we know with our senses is turned upside-down and inside-out, as we begin to see the higher in the lower. Time becomes space, in that mere duration is now experienced as the moving image of eternity. Faith becomes vision--literally.
It is not just a matter of knowing where to look, but how to look. Religions are supposed to provide structures in order to illuminate the spiritual facts of our experience. Like good scientific theories, they not only make sense of those facts, but also allow us to see new facts, in the same way that the paradigm of quantum physics allowed scientists to see an entirely new realm of phenomena that was invisible to them with the old Newtonian, mechanistic paradigm. The facts were there all along, but without a theory through which to look, no one saw them. Likewise, spiritual facts are all around and within us, but without a spiritual practice, they tend to go unnoticed. One might say that you should try to know God not because He exists, but so that He exists.
As I have mentioned before with regard to imagination, it has a positive and a negative connotation. In its negative sense, it involves abandoning ourselves to the idle machinery of the monkey mind. It is a kind of bad detachment from reality in favor of an infrahuman sub-reality. It is as much a closed circle as is mere cerebral intellectuality.
But imagination in its positive sense is absolutely vital for religious understanding. Again, imagination is the membrane that makes contact with the higher world. It is dangerous to try to understand religious truths in a merely rational way, because it reduces them to the mere known and undermines their function of bypassing the ego and vaulting us out of our conventional way of knowing.
Apparently, there are few people who understand what I'm talking about. But those who do understand, understand exactly what I'm talking about. How then to communicate with those who don't? To them it will just seem like irrational nonsense. One of the benefits of being this tired is that I can well understand where they're coming from. To a certain unavoidable extent--except perhaps in saints and avatars--the higher planes are somewhat state-dependent, no different, really, than the way in which morbid anxiety during a test might prevent one from accessing the information needed to pass the test.
Here again, this cannot be emphasized enough. We only bring a few vital tools with us as we approach the realm of spirit, and much of our spiritual practice has to do with honing these tools, in particular, imagination, attention and memory. Attention must become focussed and yet relaxed and fluid, while memory must begin to operate vertically, not just horizontally. To the extent that attention is fragmented and dispersed in the horizontal, it is doubtful that you will be able to recollect the vertical. This is what meditation and prayer are all about. They are the keys to the kingdom, but they are not ends in themselves. Rather, they are simply exercises: "verticalisthenics," as I call them.
Speaking of being misunderstood, reader Benedict S., a disciple of the philosopher Spinoza, is a case in point. He is trying to understand this blog through the lens of Spinoza's purely rational philosophy, which cannot be done without reducing it to an image of Spinozistic pantheism. I specifically reject any form of pantheism based not upon intellectual speculation, but upon objective metaphysics and personal experience. I'm sure that most readers who enjoy this blog would agree entirely with me.
I see no evidence that Spinoza had any personal acquaintance with the transcendent God, which is why he attempted to reduce the vertical to a simple horizontal oneness. In short, he engaged in a misguided search for the One through the application of reason, therefore taking him down the sterile road of cosmolatry. Like all wrong philosophies--no matter how brilliant--when they reduce reality to mere cerebral intellection they will be only faint shadows of the Real--adumbrations that are missing a few vital dimensions, because the higher reaches of thought lie outside any application of worldly Aristotelian logic.
Of me, Benedict writes that my recent entries stike him "as having been written by a relatively educated and erudite individual, but one who on some matters regards himself as a 'seeker'. (On others, Bob pretends to be a 'having founder,' but I'll save that for another day.) Bob speaks of the many different views of God that have been recorded by many different people, the early and modern Christians, the Buddhists, the Hindus, and (I suppose if I read all the way through) all the other people who have at one time or another 'seen God' as this or that apparition."
Do you see the problem here? To be a guest in the Cosmos and employ that condescending and passive-aggressive tone, with the use of "pretend" and "apparition"? I'm frankly not surprised that Petey got a little ticked off. Petey doesn't barge in to other people's blogs and bash Spinoza, although he could surely pick him apart if he felt like it. He's done it before. It is hardly as if we didn't encounter Mr. Spinoza on the way up, dwelling in the foothills of pure reason. How to communicate with such an individual? One cannot. One shouldn't even try, for one has already been dismissed as someone who pretends to see apparitions, or worse, someone who actually sees them. Either way, not a person to be taken seriously. I am clearly someone who lives in the no-Spinoza zone.
Benedict dismisses me as someone who is perhaps "not really interested in finding the absolute truth," which is presumably Spinoza'a metaphysically closed and circular rationalism. He says that I "speak off and on of [my] preference for the 'vertical' as opposed to the 'horizontal' life. [Bob] means by 'vertical' a looking upward in our mind's eye, searching as it were for Godness, as opposed to looking around horizontally in the world. My criticism of his method traces essentially to the horizontality of [Bob's] vertical look. By delving into the fuzziness of the ancient religions, and apparently trying to jibe them with his own in a detailed sort of way, [Bob] adds unnecessary complexity to his struggle. I would rather simply say, 'Those people were looking for God,' and then move on to a search focused more on the here-and-now. That's what [I] did years ago and wound up with Spinoza's God, an absolutely simple concept of the divine."
This such a beastly distortion. The only reason I am taking the time to correct it is because it was posted publicly on his blog. I do not "speak off and on of my preference for the vertical as opposed to the horizontal life." First, his impoverished definition of verticality demonstrates a complete lack of familiarity with how I use the term. Second, I specifically emphasize in all of my writing that reality has both a horizontal and vertical component, and that any comprehensive view of the world can ignore neither. The whole point is to live vertically in the horizontal--not to get lost in the horizontal wasteland of materialism, pantheism, or rationalism, but also not to pursue purely escapist spiritual programs that facilitate only vertical ascent without proper deference to the horizontal.
Benedict's contemptuous dismissal of religion ("maybe he's not really interested in finding the absolute truth") betrays only his (and Spinoza's) innocence of that to which religion refers. To the extent that religions appear "fuzzy" to him, that is an honest statement. However, it is not a statement about the object of his perception, but a statement about his distance from that object. Of course Truth appears fuzzy and simple from so far away.