Sunday, March 19, 2006

Political Seance 101

What's a blogger to do? Some people who enjoy it when I discuss politics are turned off by the spiritual mumbo jumbo. But that group isn't nearly as disappointed as those who appreciate the discussion of spiritual matters, only to be outraged when they discover that I am not a left wing moonbat.

Most recently, a reader politely commented that my "political musings seem out of character with a search for self. How and when did that particular journey become politicized?... I respect your spirit-driven posts, but I'm having trouble with the political ones. I don't find it useful to tar myself with either brush. I swing both ways, depending on the issue, and work hard to stay limber."

My short answer was that regardless of whether I am posting about politics or spirituality, my opinions are "of a piece, and follow directly from my understanding of the whole of things. First, spirituality can only proceed on the basis of Truth, and leftism in all its forms is rooted in a primordial Lie. Secondly, spiritual evolution on a mass scale depends upon the proper cultural conditions. The deep structure of Leftism is anathema to these conditions."

I guess it's time for a more detailed review of how my politics and spirituality are inseparable. Some of this is reworked from a few very early posts that newer readers may not have read.

*****

Let us begin with some definitions. Spirituality is nothing less than a quest to understand the Truth of our existence. Politics has to do with one's philosophy of government, and more generally, of the relations between men and society.

There have obviously been countless political philosophies down through the ages, mostly bad ones. For that matter, there have been countless false or partial religions. Some false religions, such as Islam, swallow up politics, while some bad political philosophies, such as leftism, attempt to do away with religion and drain the world of its transcendent dimension, either in subtle ways, such as various "liberal theologies," or in more ham-handed ways, as in the case of the metaphysical yahoos at the New York Times or in the ACLU. Once you have drained reality of its transcendent dimension, there is only a horizontal struggle below for mere animal existence. The only ideal is that there are no ideals except that people with religious ideals are dangerous.

However, one cannot actually do away with religion, one can only displace it and insert false religion in its place. For example, if you are a secular leftist who sees reality as nothing more than a class struggle between exploiter and exploited, victim and oppressor, you are in fact a worshipper of an idol named Mars. This is nowhere more obvious than in the unrelieved rage of a ghost-dancing spiritual community such as dailykos or huffingtonpost.

The envious collective has always demanded the sacrifice of what is individual, distinctive, exceptional and "higher." In it's modern form, this is embodied in the left's war against objective standards of any kind: standards of morality, standards of truth, standards of college admission, aesthetic standards, etc. If you are in favor of leftist collectivist schemes which deny the spiritual primacy of the individual self and swallow up excellence, you are a worshipper of a fellow named Moloch.

There is no getting around the fact that the "culture war" is at bottom a theological dispute between secular and traditionally religious forces. But it would be a great error to conclude that the war therefore involves atheistic vs. theistic camps, much less logic vs. faith. Rather, it is a war of competing theisms, each rooted in faith and steeped in metaphysics. Radical secularists are rarely neutral about God--in fact, they are quite often burning with a passion about spiritual matters.

*****

At the foundation of the secular leftist revolt against God is the attendant idea that there is no such thing as absolute truth, for God, among other things, is the ground and possibility of Truth. One of the benefits of religion--properly understood--is that it prevents the mind from regressing into the magical worldview, the circular maze of pagan thought that preceded the major revelations. Sophisticated secularists believe they are making progress by leaving the “superstitions” of religion behind, but this is rarely the case. Instead of believing “nothing,” they tend to believe in “anything,” which is where the pseudo-religion of contemporary liberalism--that is, leftism--comes in. Secular leftists simply elevate relativism to the status of an absolute.

A fundamental distinction that must be maintained is this difference between liberalism and leftism. The modern conservative movement of which I consider myself a member is classically liberal, whereas contemporary liberalism is in reality a deeply illiberal philosophy that is ultimately rooted in leftism. This is a key point, because in liberalism the emphasis is on liberty, whereas in leftism the emphasis is on equality. The secular world is a prison where the human spirit is confined as a result of having foreclosed the wider world of vertical liberty. It is an elaborate cognitive system that has been constructed for the purposes of living in the Dark. It's language is a sort of braille, it's ideology a cane for moving around in an endarkened world. Only the recovery of spiritual vision confers true freedom, because it allows one to move vertically.

The American founders were steeped in Judeo-Christian metaphysics. As such, they did not believe in mere license, which comes down to meaningless freedom on the horizontal plane. Rather, they believed that horizontal history had a beginning and was guided by a purpose, and that only through the unfolding of human liberty could that "vertical" purpose be achieved. Our founders were progressive to the core, but unlike our contemporary leftist "progressives," they measured progress in relation to permanent standards that lay outside time--metaphorically speaking, an eschatological "Kingdom of God," or "city on a hill," drawing us toward it. Without this nonlocal telos, the cosmos can really have no frontiers, only edges. Perhaps this is why the left confuses truth with "edginess."

Liberty--understood in its spiritual sense--was the key idea of the founders. This cannot be overemphasized. According to Michael Novak, liberty was understood as the "axis of the universe," and history as "the drama of human liberty." Thomas Jefferson wrote that "the God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time." It was for this reason that Jefferson chose for the design of the seal of the United States Moses leading the children of Israel out of the death-cult of Egypt, out of the horizontal wasteland of spiritual bondage and into the open circle of a higher life. America was quite consciously conceived as an opportunity to "relaunch" mankind after so many centuries of disappointment, underachievement, and spiritual stagnation.

Now the lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty. Co 3:17

*****

The philosopher Michael Polanyi pointed out that what distinguishes leftism in all its forms is the dangerous combination of a ruthless contempt for traditional moral values with an unbounded moral passion for utopian perfection. The first step in this process is a complete skepticism that rejects traditional ideals of moral authority and transcendent moral obligation--a complete materialistic skepticism combined with a boundless, utopian moral fervor to transform mankind. However, being that the moral impulse remains in place, there is no longer any boundary or channel for it. One sees this, for example, in college students (and those permanent college students known as professors) who, in attempting to individuate from parental authority and define their own identities, turn their intense skepticism against existing society, denouncing it as morally shoddy, artificial, hypocritical, and a mere mask for oppression and exploitation.

What results is a moral hatred of existing society and the resultant alienation of the postmodern leftist intellectual. Having condemned the distinction between good and evil as dishonest, such an individual can at least take great pride in their "honesty" and "courage." To a leftist, the worst thing you can call someone is a hypocrite, whereas authentic depravity is celebrated in art, music, film, and literature.

Few people seem to clearly understand the type of destruction that follows when the moral impulse is detached from its traditional outlets. We can see the deadly combination of these two--“skepticism and moral passion,” or “burning moral fervor with hatred of existing society”--in every radical secular revolution since the French Revolution--from the Bolsheviks to nazi Germany to campus unrest in the 1960s.

For a while, America escaped this destruction because it had a very different intellectual genealogy, having been much more influenced by the skeptical enlightenment of Britain and Scotland than the radical enlightenment of France. In addition, America never lost touch with its Judeo-Christian ideals, which inspired individuals to work to improve and humanize society without violent disruption of traditional ways or heavy-handed government intervention.

As the contradictory ideals of liberty vs. equality began to ramify through history, it resulted in the very different nations and societies we see today, for the more liberty a nation has, the less her people will be equal, while the more equality is pursued by state policy, the more freedom will necessarily be attenuated and diminished.

The nations of the European Union are, of course, the embodiment of the perennial leftist dream of a cradle-to-grave welfare system. But in order to achieve the goal of radical equality, the Europeans must maintain a confiscatory tax system that radically undermines liberty, since they begin with the assumption that your money does not belong to you, but to the state.

This flawed understanding of equality is an atavistic and deeply pernicious holdover from our most primitive social arrangements. While it might have made sense in the "archaic environment" of psychobiological evolution in small face-to-face groups, in order for human beings to evolve psychohistorically, it was necessary for them to overcome their "envy barrier," and to tolerate the painful idea that some might possess more than others.

In his classic work, Envy: A Theory of Social Behavior, Helmut Schoeck notes that our most economically misguided ideas stem from the futile attempt to eliminate envy. In order to placate the envious individual, government must intervene with policies that do achieve the desired end of of creating more equality, but at the cost of inefficiency, lack of economic growth, and ultimately far less wealth for everyone. Only by tolerating envy is economic development possible: "the more both private individuals and the custodians of political power in a given society are able to act as though there were no such thing as envy, the greater will be the rate of economic growth and the number of innovations in general." A society is best able to achieve its creative potential if it functions "as if the envious person could be ignored." Likewise, well-meaning leftists who seek the completely "just society" are doomed to failure because they are based on the idea that it is possible to eliminate envy, when human beings inevitably find something new to envy.

Ironically, the pursuit of equality achieves its goal in a perverse sort of way, by dragging everyone down to a lower level of prosperity. The Fall 2005 Claremont Review of Books contains a revelatory article by Gerard Alexander, spelling out some of the dire results of the pursuit of equality. For example, on average, U.S. per capita income is 55% higher than the average of the 15 core countries of the European Union. In fact, the largest E.U. countries "have per capita incomes comparable to America's poorest states." Alexander points out that if France, Italy or the U.K. were somehow admitted to the American union, "any one of them would rank as the 5th poorest of the 50 states, ahead only of West Virginia, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Montana." Ireland, which is currently the richest E.U. country, "would be the 13th poorest state, Sweden the 6th poorest.... 40% of all Swedish households would classify as low-income by American standards."

In addition to impeding a nation's wealth-producing capacity, the mindless pursuit of equality results in chronically high unemployment. France has lived with unemployment between 8-12% for some 25 years, and if anything, this underestimates the true figure because of forced early retirement and extensive but futile job-training programs. And there is a disproportionately negative impact on the poorest sectors of society, since a high unemployment rate pushes aside the least skilled workers first.

But "ironically," the sense of entitlement that is nurtured in the entitlement society means that its victims will feel entitled to more entitlements, thus resulting in even worse conditions. This is just part of the underlying dynamic of what we saw with the Muslim riots in France. "Buying them off' with yet more social programs will only result in a greater sense of entitlement and more unrest, since, once the spigot of a person's sense of entitlement is opened, it is very hard to shut off. This is partly because our sense of entitlement is rooted in the earliest infantile experience, when we are, for the only time in our lives, actually "entitled" to mother's magical ministering of our every need and whim. The universe revolves around the moment-to-moment needs of the baby, which is as it should be. For a baby.

If there is a "human-animal" spiritual realm, then it is actually the purely immanent-horizontal space occupied by Western Europe. Although they think of us as "selfish" because of our low taxes and smaller government, it is actually the other way around. Although superficially socialism may appear to be more humane, Mark Steyn points out that "nothing makes a citizen more selfish than socially equitable communitarianism: Once a fellow's enjoying the fruits of government health care and all the rest, he couldn't give a hoot about the broader social interest; he's got his, and if it's going to bankrupt the state a generation hence, well, as long as they can keep the checks coming till he's dead, it's fine by him." In this sense, Social democracy is eventually "explicitly antisocial" (National Review, 11-7-05).

There is a further corrosion of the soul that takes place with European style socialism, in that, because it elevates material desires to the highest, it cynically cuts the heart out of any transcendent view of the world, anything beyond the immediate animal senses. As Steyn explains, it perversely elevates secondary priorities such as mandated six week vacations over primary ones such as family and national defense. And change is almost impossible, because the great majority have become dependent on government, which causes a sort of "adherence" to horizontal. You cannot rouse the ideals of a nation that has lost its ideals. Any politician who threatens the entitlement system cannot get elected in Western Europe. The situation is analogous to an addict who has given over his power to the pusher.

By attempting to create the perfect society on earth through government coercion, it actually diminishes our humanity, since it relieves human beings of having to exert the continual moral effort to make the world a better place, as this is only possible by maintaining contact with the realm of transcendent moral ideals. In other words, European socialism is actually a flight from morality, thereby making people less humane, not more. It is a bogus kind of freedom, because it merely frees one from the vertical while condemning one to the horizontal. As the new Pope has written, "I am convinced that the destruction of transcendence is the actual amputation of human beings from which all other sicknesses flow. Robbed of their real greatness they can only find escape in illusory hopes.... The loss of transcendence evokes the flight to utopia."

Part Two tomorrow.

UPDATE--

What a timely and provacative take. By Tony Snow:

"... Charles Murray, whose book Losing Ground made manifest the profound failures of the welfare state, has published a new book, In Our Hands, that suggests an alternative to the present mess.

Murray wants to abolish every major federal program concerned with health care, food, housing, education, jobs, job training, energy assistance, social services, retirement, unemployment insurance and income security. In their stead, he would give every American citizen over the age of 21 $10,000 per year from Uncle Sam, to be deposited directly into the person's bank account, with the stipulation that $3,000 of that sum must go directly into a retirement account.

Murray crunches the numbers to ensure his idea wouldn't break the bank. More importantly, he poses questions nobody asks anymore. In the words of the Baltimore Catechism, 'What is the end of man?' What ought we to do with this gift of life? How can we best build a society congenial to virtue and conducive to happiness? How can government be a help -- or at least, not a hindrance?

In recent years, Americans have embraced the belief that government can make us happier and more comfortable. Thus, whenever somebody suggests so much as tinkering with the ever-expanding lattice of federal programs and initiatives, critics howl about 'cruelty' and 'insensitivity.'

Murray turns this on its head, noting that our Bureaucracy of Compassion has become a Ministry of Misery. He defines happiness not as comfortable lucre, but as 'lasting and justified satisfaction with one's life as a whole.' You can't experience happiness, he argues, if you don't have deep and affectionate relations with others, activities that give your life meaning and enough power over your fate to enable you to say at the end of your days, 'I did well.'

The welfare system actively prevents our pursuit of happiness. It discourages enterprise, innovation, risk, work, marriage, and personal responsibility for procuring medical care, caring for loved ones and saving for the future. It outsources compassion and criminalizes common sense.

Murray's idea would demolish this system. Gone would be the perverse incentives built into the present system. Gone would be the rules and regulations that stand in the way of everything from marriage to charity. Gone would be excuses not to do the things necessary to produce the kind of great and vibrant society that caused de Toqueville and other observers of early America to gape with awe.

Liberated from the dominion of federal help, we could take a more active role in helping ourselves, cooperating with others and feeling good not only about our earnings statements, but the society in which we live.

Bureaucracy is a lumbering, unsubtle thing -- more suited to issuing orders than considering the special concerns of hundreds of millions of individuals. Bureaucracy does not beget compassion. It demands conformity.

Murray is right. The welfare state is both a snare and a delusion -- and an active obstacle to the American dream. A compassionate conservative would suggest what Murray urges: Don't fix the system. Tear it down -- and set free the ember of greatness that smolders in every free heart. Or, as our grandparents used to say, 'If you want something done right, do it yourself.'"

31 Comments:

Blogger Muse said...

I got to your blog through appreciation of your book. I was surprised to see a conservative polical bent to your thinking here, as most spiritual thinkers I run across seem to be of a more leftist bent.
In following your thinking, I am left with an a growing intellectual concern, while remaining generally optimistic in general. First, Islam seems to be a lower order backwater containing more and more of the world population, even if only by reason of a higher breeding rate. Unlike Christian fundamenalists, I see little way for them to evolve out of their backwater.
I am even less optimistic re our own Western secular progressives, containing most of our intellectual and journalistic professions, as well as much of Western Europe. My concern is that being "more" evolved as with Ken Wilber and his "mean green meme", they have even less probability of changing course to a more, in your words, verticle dimension. Moreover, they seem to control many of the chokepoints of our society- the press, the universities and even elementary education through various teachers unions and the like.
I hope I have conveyed my thoughts in as few words as I could. With my respect for your overall thinking I hope you could guide me toward a more optimistic intellectual view of where our world is heading.

3/19/2006 07:43:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"I hope you could guide me toward a more optimistic intellectual view of where our world is heading."

--Can't really help you there. Just realize that the world has always been on a knife edge between catastrophe and salvation and that it probably always will be. It has always been a struggle between good and evil, and it always will be. There is always a competition between ignorance and reason. Life is a struggle. It can't be perfected, only worked on. Just participate joyfully in the sorrows and struggles of the world, accent on the words "partcipate" and "joyfully," and fight for the conditions that allow vertical liftoff to the most people.

3/19/2006 07:55:00 AM  
Anonymous digdug said...

Your clarification of terms is hugely appreciated. You said:

A fundamental distinction that must be maintained is this difference between liberalism and leftism. The modern conservative movement of which I consider myself a member is classically liberal, whereas contemporary liberalism is in reality a deeply illiberal philosophy that is ultimately rooted in leftism.

The above goes far in helping this reader, at least, understand how your political rhetoric seems incongruous with your spiritual rhetoric. Now if you can only find a way to render this stuff down for those of us not possessing IQ's substantial enough to power up a small town...

...or is that a topic for future digestion: "Heaven-No (innocents)(leftists)(dummies) allowed..."?

Again, I don't want to seem provocative or mean-spirited - just curious. Your response to this topic is generous and informative and has certainly got me thinking. I look forward to further bobservations.

3/19/2006 08:15:00 AM  
Blogger Muse said...

A top down evolution going from matter to life to mind and finally to spirit seems inherantly optimistic. With this as an asumption, a check on our individual thinking would be to integrate various elements of the world into a positive, ultimate result. Your book sees a final result of evolution which if valid (and I believe it to be) would be consistent with current directions, even if you had to back up to a longer term view or elevate to 30,000 feet for a correct perspective. My challenge is not only to feel I am right but validate myself with an optimistic view of current events.

3/19/2006 08:48:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Muse--

I am apparently relatively alone in sitting within the uncomfortable paradox of deeply believing in the evolution you describe, but at the same time, believing we'll never arrive at the destination. My belief in the former alienates me from pure traditionalists that I otherwise revere, while my belief in the latter alienates me from people like Teilhard de Chardin, and even, to a certain extent, Sri Aurobindo, if his philosophy is understood as the achievement of an eventual evolutionary perfection on earth.

We must be guided by the light of the telos, but never reduce or conflate the telos with the things of this world. Doing so, as the philosopher Eric Voegelin put it, "immamentizes the eschaton," and spiritual growth only takes place in the dynamic transitional space between the immanent and transcendent God. And immamentizing the eschaton is what the left is all about.

Again, the cosmos is One, but it is a complex and hierarchical nonlocal One outside space and time, not a local blob or agglomeration of simple oneness. That is the Dark One of infrahuman longing, not the Real One of perpetual radiance.

3/19/2006 09:03:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Amen, Bob! I am so glad you picked up on the whiny, baby, French youth that cannot even compete in a world market. The obvious choice of action is hmmmm, of course, rioting! They really are a riot! Once again, proving capitalism is the most liberating and prosperous form of economy and socialism simply cannot compete.

I personally enjoy your site because you do approach it from both a political and spiritual side. Spiritual leftists of today are just not being honest with themselves or they could never go along with half the theories they believe in, such as affirmative action, political correctness, hatred of Israel, love of Islam, etc. Those people really do need to have their beliefs challenged intellectually once in a while! Go Bob Go!

3/19/2006 09:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Hoarhey said...

Another 3 pointer from waaaaaayyy downtown!!!!
Thanks for the ammo re-supply Bob!

3/19/2006 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger LiquidLifeHacker said...

Thanks so much for Murray's article! I am off to read it now!

3/19/2006 10:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Will said...

Hi Bob -

There is, I think, another possibility other than the long, slow, evolution toward the Omega Point and, as you say, the chance that we will never arrive there.

If spiritual progression really were "evolutionary" in the modern sense, I'd be inclined to agree with you. But evolution implies, to a degree, a lack of free will and true human spiritual liberty, and these I strongly believe in.

The other possibility is the quantum leap. You know, the "everything shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye" perspective, the culmination of Yeats's "13th Gyre", the separation of sheep and goat,the Hopi Indian "5th World", etc.. I believe this because it can and has occurred in individuals, and as we agree, the individual is the microcosm, the mirror image of the Greater Cosmos. When it does occur within individuals who have spiritually prepared for such, a cyclic window opens and a "force" exterior to the individual, let's call it an utterly transforming grace, pulls the individual through.

No one should underestimate the depth of this bio-spiritual transformation. I have reason to believe that the earth itself is subject to such a transforming grace and that such cyclic windows of spiritual opportunity do obtain on a universal scale. So, whereas I do believe that the "windows" are evolutionary in that they ratchet up the intensity of the exterior force/force, our reaction to them is a matter of free will.

There will come, I believe, a universal window of such force that the individual will either be utterly transformed or will necessariy have to be separated from the earth environs and then will have to pursue (or not) the telos elsewhere.

Just as the individual can be transformed at the cellular level by this, in Eastern terms, "Kundalini process", I think there is the possibility that, on a universal level, the very essence of materiality could be transformed. Thus, the "everything shall be changed" ideal, the Parousia.

Well, is hard to explicate in this short space but that's the general idea.

3/19/2006 12:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

shoutout to Lisa -

Yeah, the French are toast.

3/19/2006 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger Benedict S. said...

Bob:

Finally, common ground. Well said. Hayek and I have been sleeping together for ages and my daughter is proudly named Dagny Ayn.

I do not see the problem of the left and the right dichotomy the same as you do. I believe that both tend to build their ideas around a view of man as they wish he were, not upon man as he is. The ideas of Hayek and Marx suffer from the blight of organic optimism.

I also lack eyes good enough to see the same axes of the "spiral" that you see. It appears to me that the more successful movements have been grounded in very practical ideals that do not require a spiritual view in the religious sense. We seek to survive and for the most part, the ideas that have emerged in the far west (here) work far better than others toward that end.

I also doubt the self-contradicting opinions of post-modernist skepticism. Paradox is possible in language by the same sort of contextual error that permits M. C. Escher to draw impossible three-dimensional pictures in two-dimensional space.

Thanks for a good read.

3/19/2006 01:03:00 PM  
Blogger LiquidLifeHacker said...

IMHO, "the left" is so anti everything though and yet even in all this anti-ism they never seem to be able to stress what they are actually for....it either gets lost or they haven't found it to present it

3/19/2006 01:15:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Will-

I agree with you entirely on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays about the evolutionary quantum leap. I believe that religious notions of the apocalypse or the end of the yuga are intimations of just such a transformation.

I further believe that there is a general evolution and a personal, willed evolution, which is what spirituality is all about. As a matter of fact, there is actually a real similarity between ideas about the parousia and Sri Aurobindo's descent of the supermind. Both will apparently involve some sort of transfiguration into a body of light.

Today being Sunday, I'm not so sure. I just pretend it's already here.

3/19/2006 01:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Will said...

Bob -

lol, I wish I could pretend it were here; the load can get wearisome. In any event, I think when it happens, we'll know it in no uncertain terms. Yeats, in a minor discourse on the "13th Gyre", spoke of "reality dissolving". And the Mayan calender indicating "the end of time" . . . well, time and space being linked, if time - our perspective of, even - changes, then, it stands to reason, so will space/materiality. Even if it doesn't happen in our earthly lifetimes, that's something for which it's worth bearing the earthly burden. We'll be around someplace, bearing witness.

3/19/2006 01:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Will said...

Lisa, that insipid "French toast" shoutout was mine, I just forgot to put my name on the comment. It's Sunday and I'm a flake anyway. :)

Did my first Pilates, was good. I'm sure you know more about J Pilates than I do but from what I gather, he really did come up with a Westernized yoga, something more compatible with the Western mind/body disposition. Not to knock yoga but it always struck me as being quite intensely Eastern and not necessarily for Westerners.

Anyway, yours is a noble and spiritually-timely profession.

3/19/2006 03:50:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Aww, shucks, Will, that was sweet. I wish you much luck and success in your Pilates pursuit. You are correct, that it is a more westernized version of Yoga. Both are centered around the breath. Pilates also concentrates a bit more on the "center" or transversus abdominus, the deep abdominal muscles that support the spine. Pilates works on creating a strong mind-body connection. Joseph Pilates was a gymnast, boxer, yoga student, nurse, and all-around renaissance man. He was very ahead of his time. I feel very fortunate to be able to carry on his legacy and help people transform their bodies and move without pain! Plus, it is also a fun job to have if I must work!

3/19/2006 04:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Kahntheroad said...

Bob, as you put it so well in The Book, "The Cosmos wakes up one monkey at a time."

Taken from that perspective, is it not problematic to look at evolution from a collective perspective? If, as Will points out, certain individuals have shown to be capable of a "quantum leap" in consciousness, then isn't it just a matter of reaching an evolutionary point where each individual can reach to that level?

Of course, what happens at that point? Essentially, as a species, we would no longer have any need for a material body and then what? Or, maybe we reach that point and then just die off, because we no longer have any purpose to keep us going. Perhaps Heaven becomes Eden, we get bored, push reset and start the game all over from scratch...

Okay...my brain is hurting, I'll stop there.

On the broader point, the way I see leftist/collectivist views is that they are actually rather far-sighted from an intuitive sense; in that they see our raw human potential - for love, compassion, charity, knowledge, etc. - but, like wide-eyed children, they lack the perspective to take into account the restrictions of practical reality or the work and patience that it takes to make these things come about.

This is evident in everything from Hitler's "master race" to communism's perfect society. In the long term it's perfectly logical to conclude that human's will naturally evolve into a more physically "pure" species and that a more mature and expanded consciousness would, given time, result in a cooperative society. Of course, Nazis, communists, socialists, fascists, leftists, etc. - like children - want it NOW! Because it's not FAIR! that they have to wait around while the filthy, stupid masses stand in their way to paradise.

I think this helps to explain why so many intellectuals are purveyors of impractical philosophies. Meanwhile, traditional people who are out working in the real world, actually doing and producing, generally show a deeper - often matter-of-fact - understanding of the ways of the world.

3/19/2006 04:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Kahntheroad said...

Lisa and Will,

Hmm, Pilates, aye? Any advice on how to go about finding a good program? I'm in San Francisco, so I've got to be careful in pursuing any spiritual/growth outlets. Hell, even finding a service for The High Holidays where I could hear readings from the Torah without reference to Halliburton or Scooter Libby was an effort.

(BTW, Will, we should talk songwriting sometime...if you like, contact me though the link on my name).

3/19/2006 04:41:00 PM  
Anonymous John Hinds said...

Please, a couple of thoughts prompted by the exchange between and Will and Robert.

The problem in understanding ultimate reality, the purpose and meaning of man's existence, is that you are limited by the necessity of starting from a known. The known in any scheme of knowledge is rooted in man's own existence as a part of the whole. So, everything large is being measured by a calculus based on the very small and of course mere measurement is far from understanding. Perhaps it even precludes understanding. Is imagination a form of measurement? Without a systematic approach are we indulging in such? Art is like imagination. It asks a question for which it takes anything whatsoever for the answer....as long as it is aesthetically pleasant. Religion takes this a step further and posits the answer in an absolute other for which an eternal longing is engendered, a longing which can never be satisfied. Science, likewise, depends on a dichotomy where the truth is separate from the seeker and here too, longing comes into play. Scientific method seeks final truths, seeks it out and is never satisfied until being joined therewith, and then comes doubt that this is the REAL truth, maybe, just maybe, there is a better more elegant one just over the ever receding horizon. Lesson learned.

Which brings me to parousia. There it is, the long awaited coupling with the devine. It is just there, through that door marked "parousia". This may be, I don't know for certain either way. I, for one, can not know. I simply do my duty to the best of my abilities and watch and wait and indulge my inate hunter/seeker/gatherer instincts elevated, perhaps, to a spiritual level.

Finally, years ago, I came to a realization at the beginning of my quest for knowledge of purpose and meaning that whatever the ultimate reality is it is certainly right here in front of us. No need to go beating around the bush. The REAL is immediate, and it follows, of course, that the immediate can't be grasped. It is ever and anon gone forever. Therein lies a great, perhaps THE great truth.

As always, humbly submitted,

John Hinds

3/19/2006 05:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Will said...

Kahn - as Lisa suggested to me, you can find accredited Pilates teachers through pilatesmethodalliance.org. Which is how I found my Pilates.

Liaa might have more suggestions for you.

And sure, re songwriting, I'll drop you a line of these days.

3/19/2006 05:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Kahntheroad said...

Wow...

Well put John.

3/19/2006 05:41:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Kahntheroad--

Did I say that the cosmos wakes up one monkey at a time? Sounds to me like a "Peteyism." Then it must be so.

However, Petey has also mentioned a "General Law" of cosmic evolution that proceeds at its own leisurely pace. Evidently--or so we have heard from the wise--this General Law is suspicious of anyone who personally attempts to seize the tiller of evolution and jump ahead of The Others to the next higher world. Who are you to think you are so high and mighty that you can surpass what the cosmos has wrought up to this point, impudent knave?

If you never venture of the beaten path, you will not even notice the machinations of the General Law. Or to be perfectly accurate, The Law will ignore you, just as the sheepdog will ignore the sheep that stays with the herd.

This is evidently why the spiritual path is a perilous one. It is not that the General Law is hostile to you. Nor is it just "messing" with you. But it will test you. It wants to make certain that you are worthy of being an independent so-called "truth-seeker," dharma boy.

This is why we say, "to live outside the law, you must be honest." Yes it's annoying, but you must be more honest than the sheep who is part of the pack and is actually picking the pocket of the adjacent sheep, or perhaps messing with his mate. They escape the law, because such behavior is expected of them.

I don't know why, but it is so. Perhaps it's like sports. I remember when I was in little league, it was just a game. But when I was playing against American Legion boys, it was a different matter. The pitches whizzed under your chin, and you could actually hear the spin of a wicked curve ball as you flew backward and hit the dirt. Nothing personal. They just wanted to make sure you were fit for the next level.

3/19/2006 06:12:00 PM  
Blogger gumshoe1 said...

"Finally, years ago, I came to a realization at the beginning of my quest for knowledge of purpose and meaning that whatever the ultimate reality is it is certainly right here in front of us."


John -

Mr Ortega Y Gasset
would agree with you...

"The truths which matter are
not "over there" in some dusty corner...they are immediately at hand."

3/19/2006 06:32:00 PM  
Blogger gumshoe1 said...

"And the Mayan calender indicating "the end of time" . . . well, time and space being linked, if time - our perspective of, even - changes, then, it stands to reason, so will space/materiality."

will -

"you're soaking in it."

i've said several times,
we're surrounded by(man made)
things we take for granted...
...the internet is now like air
for modern man.

time and space HAVE changed.

you used to have
alla these conversations
inside you *own* head,
not mine.

heh.

3/19/2006 06:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Will said...

gumshoe - sticky of you.

Yeah, I did have these conversations with Lopez, all the time.

And time and space have changed but we've seen only the most surface-y tip of the 'berg in my estimation.

3/19/2006 07:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Will said...

Bob -

I'm not sure if the herd sheep escape the Law so much as delay its judgment, for lack of a better word.

Picking up the cross or "activating karma", which to many would seem an idiocy - who would want a mountain of troubles, interferences, etc.? - is really, in the long run, a great blessing. Willingly picking up the cross compresses karma, I think, so that what would take, say, ten lifetimes to expiate - without any guarantee that one wouldn't slip yet again - is compressed into a single lifetime: the opportunity of one's entire existence.

BTW, while I certainly agree about the slo-mo necessity of the General Law, I think the quantum leap is also the Law's little grace note, it's part of it. Of course, one would have to be exceptionally thick to try to "speed up evolution" by one's own volition. But it can happen, I believe, within the natural progression of the General Law.

3/19/2006 07:47:00 PM  
Blogger LiquidLifeHacker said...

Imagine how cool it will be when the holograms are beaming into our living rooms? Everything is going to come "out of the box" then!

3/19/2006 07:51:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Karma Compress?! Is that like spiritual bath salts? Hope you don't need one after your first class, Will!

Kahn- Will gave you good advice! It is also a personality choice. Find a teacher you connect with in some way. I feel for you, living in the center of moonbat city!

The more your physical body is aligned and in balance, the easier the mind can relax and open up to new possibilities. Your cells can operate at a higher frequency. Your physical body is the vessel that holds and protects your spirit at this time. Treat it right!

3/19/2006 08:53:00 PM  
Anonymous yesandno said...

Words mean something. So for me, the distinction of equality vs. liberty is significant. In two words, we can explain the difference between Europe and the US, between liberalism and being liberal, between groups and individuals being the focus of public policies.

We also can explain those who seek something higher because they understand they can and those that do not because everything is pre-ordained for them not to think outside the box.

Not sure this is clear, but individual searching is not restricted to the self in the same manner that group definition is. When we are always grounded in commonality, we are often no better then common. And yet, to raise oneself up, you must believe everyone capable of achieving more.

3/20/2006 07:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Rorschach said...

Bob:

Agree with your idea of ever-receding Omega point.

Friend of mine one put it: "We can never be perfect, but we can always get better."

And among the philosophers I have read, one that makes much sense to me is Robert Anton Wilson.

He takes an idea from Discordianism and expounds on it extensively in his own writings - the standards by which an act is to be judged are not whether it is an act of order or chaos, but whether it is an action of creation of destruction. Any expert on Stalinism can tell you that order can be just as dangerous as disorder; any art student can tell you that chaos is source of much inspiration and beauty.

3/20/2006 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger Dr. Sanity said...

Bob, thank you for putting into one post everything that I have been trying to blog about for almost two years. I have always understood the political arguments and even in the 60's and 70's sought refuge in libertarianism and conservativism. I'm sad to say that almost my entire life the spiritual/religious aspect has always been problematic for me. I can't be an atheist because I am too aware of a part of me that wants and needs to believe in something greater than myself. But I also could never give myself over to a specific religion which always seemed to ask me to give up whatever that essence or spirt was inside that made me...me. That doesn't mean I haven't been looking, and I notice that we share a similar bookshelf.

At any rate, I always appreciate your synthesis of rationality and spirituality.

3/26/2006 08:29:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home