Thursday, April 20, 2006

Unholier Than Thou

In many ways, spiritual growth involves the acquisition--or reacquisition--of primordial simplicity. As we go through life, so many layers of complexity are added to our nature that this in itself becomes problematic. If I am recalling correctly, the Tao says words to the effect that every day the worldly man adds something to his stature, while the sage gives something up.

It occurred to me that in writing about gnosis and various subtle metaphysical principles, the reader may go away with the false impression that the spiritual enterprise is highly sophisticated and elitist. But that is not the case. In reality, the principles that govern both the world and the soul are rather straightforward and transparent.

It's very easy to be complicated. Come to think of it, almost everyone who comes into therapy, whatever their particular problem, is also plagued by the more general problem of complexity. Their minds are full of back alleys and dark corners, ulterior motives, hidden assumptions, ungoverned imaginings, simmering resentments, idle dreams, unacknowledged fears, unlived passions, etc. You might say that these various parts of our personality fall into two categories: the undead and the unborn.

As I mentioned in the book, everyone comes to therapy--and to spirituality--in a state of fragmentation. Becoming unified or "whole" is the goal of each. For example, yesterday we spoke of hysteria, which is one way to express one's lack of wholeness. Hysterics externalize their inner emotional fragmentation and are constantly "seduced" and hypnotized by one thing or another.

Complexity can be immensely appealing, because it provides convenient justification for sin. Yes, sin, understood in its widest sense as separation from the divine. For among other things, our fall from grace involves a fall from objective simplicity into subjective complexity. The way back is so simple--it's a straight line. And yet, the path has disappeared.

It reminds me of my bike ride in the hills yesterday. We've had a lot of rain recently, so the wild grass is growing very rapidly. As I continued on my path, I was soon hip deep in tall grass. The path had disappeared, even though it had been there just last week, and I knew that it was still somewhere down below where I couldn't see it. Ultimately, through an act of faith, I made it to the other side, but not without several ticks hitching a ride on my legs.

To one degree or another, we all live in sin--we all fall short of the Glory of God. However, the critical question is just how far we have fallen. For your answer to this question will determine whether you can make it through the parasite-infested tall grass back home, or whether you will even bother to try.

There are many religious thinkers whom I respect deeply--Father Seraphim Rose comes to mind--but with whom I disagree on this point. They maintain that our fall is so complete and final, that there is nothing we personally can do to reverse it. It's merely a matter of realizing the extent of our fallenness, the calamitous nature of our existential situation, and crying out to God for help.

But it is not metaphysically possible that our fall can be complete. Recall our post from a couple days ago, discussing how God is paradoxically both radically transcendent and yet fully immanent and "within" everything. Therefore, human beings can be no exception. No matter how far we have fallen, we will still have a spark of holiness connecting us to our source, even if the pathway back appears to be overgrown with tall grass--various accretions, mazes, dark spots and other samskaras that obscure our vision.

So we can be saved, because somewhere deep inside, God is what we are. But this is where I deviate from new age pagans, who generally do not believe in sin, in our inherently fallen nature. As a result, they approach spirituality through the fallen ego--in other words, they use as their vehicle of spiritual advance the very entity that is inherently separate from God. In this sense, the ego cannot save itself.

If you listen to any new age teacher, you will see that they commit this heresy. And I use the word "heresy" advisedly, because I am not talking about something that is heretical to this or that religion. Rather, I am speaking of intrinsic heresy that flies in the face of objective metaphysical truth.

For spiritual growth is not a colonization of Spirit by the ego, but a conquest of the ego by Spirit. It is the exact opposite of Freud's aphoristic formulation regarding psychological growth. He said "where id was, ego shall be," meaning that the purpose of analysis is to make more of the unconscious conscious, so that it comes under the purview of the ego. But in the case of spirituality, we might say, "where ego was, Spirit shall be."

Thus, the principle task of spirituality is not to acquire more land for the ego--that is the way of complexity. For the things we must "acquire" do not belong to us and cannot belong to us. Rather, they belong to God--to that part of us that is not fallen and is therefore not ego.

This is admittedly a razor's edge, as we must guide ourselves between the "rock" of a pious belief in too much sin and the "hard place" of new age or secular sinlessness. Interestingly, both extremes involve a certain kind of excessive pride and self-importance. In the latter case it is obvious, but the pious variety is a more subtle kind of spiritual affectation, of "I'm so bad I'm good." But you see, our faults belong to us, not to God. The more we make a big deal out of them, the more we inflate our own importance.

Furthermore, this kind of morbid obsession will simply reinforce our separation from God. And what is separation from God? Sin. Neither the sinning ego nor the sinful act are ultimately "real," and that is the problem. They must be "given up," not held onto and celebrated. It reminds me of those Muslim nutjobs who go about cutting themselves with knives and swords to prove their piety. Talk about a perverse celebration of ego: "bloodier than thou." This is not humility but obscenely egotistical false modesty.

How about that ultimate act of "self sacrifice," the suicide bomber? It is actually the ultimate act of ego-aggrandizement, carried over into the next world. The mother of the latest suicide monster says her son is a hero. No person of humility could ever so hate the world that they gave their only egotistical son, that whoever believes in his narcissistic act should get their own state.

For submission to truth is both simplicity and humility. According to Frithjof Schuon, "to submit to truth is the best way to be humble," because humility is nothing more than an accurate self-assessment. No need to make a big deal out of it. It is what it is. The cause of our calamity is engraved in our existence. But this knowledge is the key to ungraving our dead selves, for the cause of our salvation is also inscribed somewhere below the tall grass of our meandering lives.

*****

That's a coincidence. In her most recent column, Ann Coulter writes,

"But we're all rotten sinners, incapable of redemption on our own. The liberal answer to sin is to say: I can never pay this back, so my argument will be I didn't do anything wrong.

"The religion of peace's answer is: I've just beheaded an innocent man--I'm off to meet Allah!

"I don't know what the Jewish answer is, but I'm sure it's something other than, 'therefore, what I did is no longer bad behavior'--or the Talmud could be a lot shorter.

"The Christian answer is: I can never pay this back, but luckily that Christ fellow has already paid my debt."

Although I enthusiastically endorse what Coulter is saying, I think you can now understand the subtle 1% of it with which I would disagree.

*****

Keep it simple and you won't get swallowed up by the tall grass. You can't fall any further if you're already on the ground.

43 Comments:

Anonymous DigDug said...

Nice post. I especially like,

For spiritual growth is not a colonization of Spirit by the ego, but a conquest of the ego by Spirit.

You slipped off the wrong side of the razor's edge there. This line of thinking leads to compassion. Surely you jest?

4/20/2006 09:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Hoarhey said...

Thanks again Bob for putting into words what my conscience/intuition have been telling me my whole life. This post has reminded me of inumerable encounters with people of every description discussed and the path I chose to remain on.

digdug,
I'm not able to follow your logic (sarcasm?).
While colonization of the Spirit by the ego may lead to self agrandizing, egotistical, holier than thou/look at me compassion, conquest of the ego by Spirit leads to Truth and what comes as a result of that Truth.

4/20/2006 10:05:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

Buenos Dias, Roberto y los Bobblecabezas -

>>They maintain that our fall is so complete and final, that there is nothing we personally can do to reverse it. It's merely a matter of realizing the extent of our fallenness, the calamitous nature of our existential situation, and crying out to God for help. . . . But it is not metaphysically possible that our fall can be complete<<

Hmm. Well. Of course, if we do in fact realize the extent of our fallenness and if we do cry out for help, we *are* personally doing something to reverse our sorry state. However, when I think about it, it seems to me that in most matters re our spiritual fragmentation this is exactly what we have to do.

Take the most basic tenets of the Christian doctrine: Love your neighbor as yourself, forgive those who trespass against you. This is simple stuff, all right. And how many people in this world are capable of even loving themselves in the real sense of the word "love"? I think the answer would most likely be "very very very few." But this is basic stuff! And forgiveness - same thing. Very basic stuff but really, how many people really achieve it?

Point is it takes a grace from above - ie., the bestowing of a higher mode of consciousness - for real love and forgiveness to manifest in our beings. And this we have to "cry out for". I think the fall is complete to that extent anyway.

The real spiritual danger, I think, is that we can reach a point in our own spiritual degradation wherein we don't want to cry out. In fact, we can reach a point wherein hell becomes our heaven, literally so. If evil is the reversal of divine evolution, from the sublimated fire of love back into the primal fire, this would seem logical. Not to get too far afield, but, as the Medievalists, in their simplicity, were aware enough to observe, demons and nasty spirits like to hang around damp,cold places like swamps and caves and garbage dumps. They like to hang around them because they find them attractive. Demons fled from the Light of Christ because they found it painful. His Light was their hell. Our hell is their heaven.

Well, I think for a human spirit to fall this low is, thankfully, very rare. I'm pretty sure it's possible, however.

4/20/2006 10:08:00 AM  
Anonymous digdug said...

hoarhey,

I'm always leery to post, not sharing all Bob's ideas. Forgive if caution appears as sarcasm. Probably some truth there. Mea culpa.

Giving over the ego to spirit has led me to commonality, of finding the one in all. Often I think Bob dips into the ego pool to "sharply outine the differences" between his thinking and contrasting lines of thought. I hope I don't have to cite examples. My experience is that it's difficult to conquer ego with spirit and remain angry. Ego/anger is replaced with spirit/compassion. Hence my observation.

4/20/2006 10:31:00 AM  
Blogger LiquidLifeHacker said...

I think the magnitude of our own sins sometimes paralyze us, because our ego says, "they are too big of sins to be forgiven" and yet again, I go to Saul/Paul and remind everyone that God used Paul to do his will. Look at how Paul's heart was changed. If God can change a murder's heart...anything and everything is possible!

No matter what we have done and no matter how far we have fallen away by our own doings, there is nothing that can stop us from repenting and making change. What I have found out is that once I repent over something then the actual struggle of the work begins. It's like the devil snarls and goes to working on tempting me more at the very thing I have asked for forgiveness from. But the good news is, the more that I stop doing it and the more I say no to it, it eventually loses it's hold on me. Sure, every now and then it resurfaces to see just how sure I am about my commitment, but by then I can laugh at it and shoo the thoughts away and it feels like victory until it rears it's ugly head again! But each time you overcome it, thats when you know that you are not alone! Each victory is in it's self it's own testimony of support! Thats when you know that you are not powerless!

When your heart and mind starts to take on the battle you will be suprised how when at those times that you sin, and trust me...we all sin!....but you will feel ashamed almost immediately and then your spirit goes about trying to fix it. You know your spirit is actively working when it won't allow you any peace until you take action to reconcile the damage. So we are always "on call" to be alert at staying on the path and when you realise that you are not alone and that there is someone there always willing to talk it through with you and always guide you and help you into making things right ... thats when you know you are walking in tall cotton and that the harvest of our actions is coming soon!

4/20/2006 11:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Hoarhey said...

digdug,
Perhaps the perception of anger on Bobs' part may be projection from your own life. I personally enjoy his concrete examples of the spiritual theory he is trying to convey.

As far as compassion goes in this country, I'm afraid it has been distorted and reduced to putting cash into a manure spreader and flinging it to every degenerate the State can find. There is no Truth or discernment behind this type of compassion which ends up making people more demanding and "entitled", thus making them worse and more "sinfull".
When compassion was left to the charity of the people as it was in the early history of the U.S. it was done on an individual or community level and there was a measure of discernment as to whether or not the charity would help or harm. When I go into town and see homeless people on the street corner, I have some type of radar (Truth) which tells me if charity (I don't ever give money) to that person will help or harm. I've been known to pack up a humble street bum into my truck and take him/her to the nearest Wendys for whatever grub they want because I detect a measure of humility in them. The Truth tells me that they will appreciate the kindness and something good may grow out of that. I have also been known to walk up and chastise other street people, the ones smoking cigarettes with the bottle hidden behind the trashcan because the con job was obvious. And yes it is possible to shame these people for what they are doing by pointing out their disingenuous use of people who are giving to them to try and help. That, in my opinion is also compassion, the rest is up to them.
Unfortunately the State doesn't have this capability as all have to be treated the same which results in more of what their "compassion" is trying to aleviate.
The Freedom of Information Act gives us access to the tax records of politians who scream about "compassion" but actually do nothing about it with their own resources, they are the manure spreaders using your and my money to make this or any country worse. Others give of their own resources and put their money where their mouth is. Do some research see what you find out.
Compassion comes in many forms and it's only compassion if it helps lead a person to become more virtuous.
Bob does that!

4/20/2006 11:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Kahntheroad said...

digdug -

"My experience is that it's difficult to conquer ego with spirit and remain angry. Ego/anger is replaced with spirit/compassion. Hence my observation."

I'm not looking to rehash old issues (or discourage you from posting). But I do think what you bring up is very important.

One of the things that once turned me off from Buddhism and other eastern religions (at least how I perceived them as practiced by many) was the goal of extreme detachment from the material world.

To detach completely from the ego is not my idea of enlightenment, it just seems like an extreme defense mechanism. Our purpose should be to integrate the good and the bad, our whole selves, and live fully as a human being. Only through mastery of and full connection to ourselves and the material world can we transcend.

Emotions - all of them - are part of that.

Everything we feel, see, experience, have access to, is part of this puzzle, or, better yet, model, we have to put together. If you wanted to construct, say, a model airplane you'd open up the box and take out the pieces, with the presumption that all of them are to be used.

Even if we believe in a spiritual goal, place, other world, destination or whatever, we are here in this world for a reason and we must respond to it. There are appropriate, human responses to everything we see or experience.

Love, loss, sadness, fear, anger...they are all part of it. Mastery of one's emotions is not to escape them - be it through detachment or projection - but to embrace them, experience them fully use them as steps toward growth.

And feeling anger in response to cruelty, betrayal or barbarism is as human and natural as grief is to loss, joy is to beauty, pain is to physical injury. Yes, anger (like fire) is a powerful and potentially destructive force - but it cannot be simply discarded. To do so is the opposite of enlightenment - it is outright denial.

Also, it is possible to feel more than one emotion at a time. I do feel a certain amount of compassion for the depraved. Yes, it is sad that a human being might grow up under terrible conditions - it is tragic that a child who is molested might grow up to be a predator himself. It is tragic that innocent children are raised to hate and use their bodies as weapons of murder.

But I feel anger towards these people as well. Sure, such people have challenges to overcome - probably ones unimaginably greater than my own; however once they cross the line and threaten or attack others they are no longer worthy of compassion. Why? Because They gave up, gave in and somewhere along the line decided to ignore whatever light flickered deep within and then they set about to snuff out the lights of others who are trying to play by the rules, bear their own crosses. Anger is the only appropriate response to people who have succumbed to pure hatred - in fact, it is a biological necessity that, as a society, we feel anger towards those who willingly threaten the social order and make cowardly and destructive choices that threaten the right of others to make choices is good faith.

It is suicidal to offer compassion to those of bad faith.

Whoa...that was quite a ramble.

4/20/2006 11:46:00 AM  
Blogger LiquidLifeHacker said...

digdug,"Ego/anger is replaced with spirit/compassion"

Even when one reaches compassion on any route, it doesn't mean that they must suddenly go blind in the presence of evil.

As the others have tried to explain, sometimes the truth is not always pleasant and yet in sharing the truth whether it appear ugly or bad because it is not candy coated with political correctness or fear of offending, it is a compassion of love when shared .....as long as it's the truth! When the spirit replaces the ego it pulls us to that place of truth. Sometimes it feels like anger also because what is that old saying, "Truth hurts sometimes"

It's our responsibility for each of us have to decide what is "the truth" Thats what makes us all seekers!

4/20/2006 01:05:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

It's easy to talk about the battles between ego/anger and spirit/compassion in the relatively abstract world of life on the street. I would hazard a guess that anyone who takes the time to read this blog more than once is the kind of person who has put food in the hands of a homeless person, or likewise committed some "act of random kindness" (sorry for the bumper-sticker homily)

It's a lot harder to try this at home.

I, and several of my friends and acquaintences are members of what I've jokingly called "The Vulture Club": fifty-something, childless, and in the position of caring for our rapidly aging parents.

Think you had issues with your folks when you were seventeen? Just wait.

My mother fell down and sprained her shoulder Tuesday. It's the third time she's fallen and injured herself in the last couple of years. She isn't hurt badly, but she is in a lot of pain. She does not suffer in silence.

Even though I've shared parts of my story here, there is only so much I'm going to post on web log. This is, after all, a public forum regardless of Bob's conscientious gatekeeping.

But slowly, day by day, my life becomes circumscribed by my mother's needs. Now that includes dressing, and undressing. Helping her get on and off the pot. Picking up piles of snotty kleenex.

In my head it's easy. The Confucian notion of filial piety is easy. The notion that is. I know that I am engaged in one of the U.T.O.L.'s (universal tasks of life). This is a test, and God gives the grade. I am determined not to fail.

In the gut- in the realm of emotion it is not easy. I would add here that I've several times been through the twelve-step process of dealing with resentment by taking inventory: that fourth, fifth, and sixth step exercise. I've done a lot of digging in the basements of my soul.

Nonetheless, at the times when I most need to exercise compassion I am flooded with resentments. When I want to feel sympathy I am awash in anger. When I most need patience I am frustrated to tears and rage.

I pray for patience and forbearance every single morning. Yet it is only by the exercise of will that I keep the negativity contained. If God is dealing out forbearance, he deals it out in precious tiny amounts. On any given day it seems like I have exactly enough strength of will to do what needs to be done. My words and deeds are in the provence of will. My thoughts and feelings are not.

I got through this morning. I picked up the revolting mess of dirty kleenex, soggy teabags, wet paper towels and yesterdays newspapers. Afterward, all I could do was sit at the computer table, and try to get out another prayer.

I clicked on Bible Gateway, KJV, and once again dropped the cursor at random and clicked. Parable of the sower. I get that one over and over again, so there is probably a message here. I always stick on the one that gets choked with weeds.

JWM

4/20/2006 01:55:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I agree with LLH and Hoarhey on this one. I was shocked and disappointed to read about the Dalai Lama's reaction to Islam. It just seemed like another spiritual guru closing their eyes and denying true evil. The acceptance and allowance of that type of evil is almost as bad as the evil itself.

4/20/2006 02:10:00 PM  
Blogger LiquidLifeHacker said...

awwww jwm, its some tough trying times it seems at your household, but hang in there.

I remember one time when a person had a brain tumor, and how frustrating it was for them to every day, since this person had lost their long term memory, they would ask what is wrong with them over and over? Where's my hair? Why can't I go to work? Why can't I drive? ....and everyday the person that was taking care of them had to tell them the truth. They had cancer. Now most of us wouldn't want to tell anyone this the first time but to be sentenced into having to tell a person that you love this every morning is truly a test of patience and strong love. I remember when this was so trying for this caregiver and yet....I also remember the day that the morning question began with "Who are you?" as the tumor's ugly fingers took over more brain capacity and more memory. It was very hard for this person but in retrospect they have said they would give anything to have one more day of that frustration and one more morning of hard questions, just to be with the one they loved.

I guess Jwm...what I am trying to say is..."this too will pass" and so try real hard to hang in there and know that our prayers are going out to ya! When we think of the things we end up doing for our parents it reminds us of all those things they have done for us when we were children. We can never pay them back in full I guess. Giving of yourself is also giving you time to learn alot about yourself and showing you what you are made of. Your parents are lucky to have such a caring son to be with them and help them. A house is just a house....but its the people inside the house that make it our home.

4/20/2006 02:24:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Thank you LLH.
That story sure puts things in perspective. Sometimes I almost have to laugh. When I get full of myself I have to keep in mind that the problems of any given day manage to swell themselves up until they assume the proportion of my capacity to deal with problems.

JWM

4/20/2006 02:43:00 PM  
Anonymous digdug said...

Hoarhey,

Thanks for clarifying your opinions. I hope you weren't expecting a fight: I agree with most of what you said. In a nutshell, the idea of repeatedly giving something for nothing is wrong-headed. Whether one is attempting to right a past wrong, or "enable" a "victimized" member of society, a free lunch breeds not thanks but beggars. America proved it with the indigenous tribes of our own country. One failed social giveaway program should have been enough, but still we persist.

From your descriptions of personal "charity", it sounds like we both subscribe to the "teach a man to fish" school. As for politicians, holding politicians up as role models for anyone (except other politicians) is like holding up a bottle of peppermint schnapps as an example of dental hygiene.

Your final summary, "...it's only compassion if it helps lead a person to become more virtuous. Bob does that!" begs the question, Whose job is compassion? I assert that it is not the job of the state, but the job of the individual. I think we agree here. I still don't know whether I manifest compassion, or compassion manifests the highest ME. Only through personal experience with it can I gain insight. While Bob as a person may be compassionate, this blog as his agent is not a compassionate blog. While I would never pretend to speak to Bob's intentions (he provides that clarity himself) I submit to you that one doesn't tune into this blog for lessons in compassion.
That too is a truth, and the reason for my original comment today.

In summary, I offer the notion that you may have blended our understandings of compassion with our understandings of social charity. Speaking for myself: compassion is a spiritual outgrowing of understanding one's identity in the universe; the other is a monetary outpouring resulting from a lack of understanding both natural and spiritual law. As I said, I suspect we mostly agree. Perhaps not...

4/20/2006 03:28:00 PM  
Blogger LiquidLifeHacker said...

Jwm,

Let me share with you a little thing I do when I get overwhelmed...

For example, one time I was so tired and ready to leave after a long long day working which had turned into a 12 hour thingy, and suddenly I was reminded that I had to do this one task before taking off! There was no getting out of it or leaving it for another time...It had to be done then. I remember just wanting to sit on the floor and cry because I was sooooooooooo tired! But I knew I had to finish up this one thing. I remember biting my lower lip and asking God for the strength to get through it without bitterness! I suddenly decided that I would finish up the task as if I was doing the job to help out God. I was gonna do it with a total different perspective. Not for me...but as if God had asked me to do it and to give it my best effort. I tell you...it was the best bit of work I ever did! I remember leaving smiling inside and amazed how joy had replaced my fatigue.

So whenever ya get overburdened just remember that your hands can do the job and you can stand on your feet longer with support from the big guy upstairs!

Never forget Matthew 25:40

And the King answering shall say to them, Verily, I say to you, Inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it to me.

4/20/2006 03:28:00 PM  
Blogger LiquidLifeHacker said...

digdug, Because Bob's blog isn't compassionate to the leftist way of thinking? Is that what you are referring to? Maybe you can explain what you mean when you say Bob's blog is not compassionate? Can you clarify that?

4/20/2006 03:36:00 PM  
Anonymous digdug said...

Kahn,

Hats off. You seem like an interesting man, and one day I may actually pop in at your "alternative discussion site" where we can explore the dichotomy that is Petey Seeger. Thank you for offering the words of "non-discouragement".

For me also the Buddhist notion seems too detached. (I have always seen it as the first refuge of the atheist seeking God.) I need a God I can cry in front of and sing praises in worship of. However I do resonate with the discipline and purity of the practice. The Buddhists I know are certainly not my enemies, and given a choice of meditating alone or among a crowd of Buddhists, I will always choose the latter. That's the way it is for me.

I agree with your thoughts on emotions. Anger has its place along with joy or compassion or any other mindset, at least within my construct. But I remind you that this is dangerous ground for the Bobblehead. You are validating emotion, which...well, you know. You've been here longer than I have.

Personally, anger has not served me well. Not when compared to the other emotions you mentioned: love, loss, sadness, fear. Anger is the capscaicin of the spice world. A little goes a looong way. Too much dilutes one's appreciation of the more subtle of life's spices: love, loss, sadness, fear...to name a few. When I find myself getting inordinately angry, I make a change. Job, partner, religion, ideology. To name some that have worked.

The danger with anger is that it is indiscriminate. And for all Bob's talk about the acquired skillsets needed for true discrimination (no matter whether the task be intellectual or spiritual) I am always puzzled at the cat o'nine tails he uses to pop pimples. I think either extreme can be just as wrong as its counterpart. While I don't claim any expertise re: politics, I can smell the wrong when the school janitor comes down the hall sweeping generalizations. Many of the people most interested in the ideas put forth on this site re: logic, spiritual responsibility, and personal responsibility for ones own dogma have a BS detector that goes off when in the presence of incendiary rhetoric versus reason. Intolerance is to good judgment what a lawsuit over coffee in the crotch is to a McDonalds Breakfast. So we can't apply the validity of anger in some instances and not in others, unless we want to be discredited as illogical.

Words are only carefully packaged symbols delivered via hungry jackasses. I have no idea whether you will understand me as I want to be understood. I can tell you that I might, given the right circumstances, strap a bomb onto my own back and wander into a nest of Al Quaeda operatives. Does that make me unworthy of God? I would happily go to war to kill Islamic extremists if I felt that they were more than sound and fury. I listen carefully to anyone who appears to have knowledge I do not. I truly admire Bob's ability to boldly go where few have the cajones to go: into the catacombs of the human heart. But it's Bob's heart, not mine. I'm here for the spelunking tips. I'm not here to slam anyone. I'm here to learn, and to observe, and to offer my opinion when so motivated.

Whoa, indeed. Some rambles are worth the stretch. Thanks for the walk, Mr. Kahn.

4/20/2006 03:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Petey said...

It's true. Since Bob isn't really compassionate, he doesn't actually have any ungrateful readers.

4/20/2006 03:46:00 PM  
Anonymous digdug said...

LLH,

I agree that the truth is not always pleasant. One of my personal bellwethers for the hidden truth of a situation is whether or not it hurts to accept it. If it does, then I give it a second, and third... audience. First question: is the fault mine?

In rereading your comment I can't find anything to take issue with. Sorry! :) I will only refer back to my belief that anger is best used sparingly. Personally I'm a chilihead. I love hot foods in any form. I've learned, not through going quietly either, that what works for me may not work for others. Season to taste. But if you are going to get angry around me, here is what will likely happen: your audience will disappear. You will say something you don't really mean. The intended idea will not be communicated. So here's a question: Is anger's highest purpose internal or external?

Re: your conclusion, that

It's our responsibility for each of us have to decide what is "the truth" Thats what makes us all seekers!

I would strengthen that statement: it's our ONLY responsibility, deciding what is true. Hopefully, that is what in turn drives us to become seekers.

4/20/2006 03:47:00 PM  
Anonymous digdug said...

LLH,

re: OneCosmos as a model for compassion...

yeah, er, What Petey said!

Please remember, I didn't say Bob was not compassionate. I don't know that to be true, and would imagine the opposite. I'm talking about the blog.

4/20/2006 03:53:00 PM  
Blogger LiquidLifeHacker said...

digdug, I never said you said that bob was not compassionate, I asked could you clarify what about his blog you felt was not compassionate? Is it because the blog isn't compassionate to the leftist way of thinking? That is all I am trying to find out is what on this blog you feel is not compassionate? Since I am confused about what you mean.

4/20/2006 04:02:00 PM  
Blogger LiquidLifeHacker said...

digdug--- So here's a question: Is anger's highest purpose internal or external?

Re: your conclusion, that

It's our responsibility for each of us have to decide what is "the truth" Thats what makes us all seekers!

I would strengthen that statement: it's our ONLY responsibility, deciding what is true. Hopefully,

------------------------------

Digdug, once anger has a hold of you ...it will burn you inside and out! It's what you do with your anger. But anger is a natural thing that we all experience, the key is not to let anger cause you to sin.

For example, when my mother would get angry at me as a child acting all goofy or wanting to ride my bike across the busy street she might raise her voice and in anger warn me that if I didn't straighten up that there was going to be a consequence I would pay later...now my mother wasn't sinning or getting angry out of malice...no...she was correcting me because my behavior had enraged her! She was angry at my actions...not angry at me the child! Eventually, as a child I learned from that. I could catch my spine straighten up just at my mother's tone. My mother didn't have a sinful motive at raising her voice in anger...she would correct me out of love for me. Over time I learned to behave in public by just a look from her!
Ha Ha

So anger can be internal and external....depends how we manage it but the real thing is that we shouldn't let anger cause us to sin. But it doesn't mean that our anger cannot work towards a good or allow us to make changes within ourselves or outside ourselves on the things that we can change because sometimes anger , if managed and dealt with can steer us into a better direction.

4/20/2006 04:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Kahntheroad said...

Digdug,

"The danger with anger is that it is indiscriminate. And for all Bob's talk about the acquired skillsets needed for true discrimination (no matter whether the task be intellectual or spiritual) I am always puzzled at the cat o'nine tails he uses to pop pimples. I think either extreme can be just as wrong as its counterpart."

Oh, absolutely, I'd argue that all emotions are indiscriminant, and that's why that energy -especially anger - should be transmuted into something productive. The ability to deal honestly and constructively with our emotions may be our greatest challenge.
Regarding the compassion and/or anger of Bob and/or his blog, I would say that, first, I wouldn't characterize anything Bob has written as driven by raw anger. Second, I don't know about this compassion matter - it may be falling onto a cycle of semantics - but I'll just say that Bob's sharing of information, and the time he is willing to put into providing personal guidance to people on a similar path is compassion. Also, I know that I've personally reaped compassion from both Bob and the regulars here.

Now, we can't bottle up and control all of our emotions. For myself, I'm a very passionate person, and I need to keep a close watch on my emotions. There is an part of me that is prone to anger, which I am careful to keep in check. I have outlets, I primarily strive to channel emotion into music, but I also have outlets for anger. Following baseball and football I find to be a constructive area to unload some rage (especially as a life long fan of the f**king Jets...grrr).

Politics has long been another one, going back to my objectivist/libertarian days.

Now, I'm well aware that I am projecting something from my psyche, perhaps an inner conflict or frustration, with my passionate, at time emotional, response to certain issues - especially involving terrorists and the culture that breeds them. But I believe that this is a constructive, clarifying form of projection. It drives me to debate these issues, to seek truth, to appreciate the traditions of my culture like I never have. Also, having a concrete opposite (an external, tangible shadow) gives me insight on my own internal flaws and contradictions. I believe that is there is a slight silver lining to the stark divisions in the world today (and I say this knowing it is an easy thing for me to say live in relative safety) it is the clarity it can provide, which in the long run can lead to a stronger society and better world

(On the other hand, a moonbat who projects all of his anger onto Bush is only moving further from the truth, casting his emotions onto a straw man which, rather than relieving a burden it clogs their mind and rattles their nerves further since they are boxed into ever more contrived and absurd justifications for their irrational, overblown anger).

So, yes, in most cases sustained anger is not productive, but are there not times when it is called for? Where would we be today if Winston Churchill or General Patton did not project their anger in an appropriate place? Were the founding fathers overblown rage towards some relatively minor taxes not constructive?

You say you could see yourself fighting for a cause:

"I would happily go to war to kill Islamic extremists if I felt that they were more than sound and fury."

Now, if this is your contention - that Islamists are not a significant threat - then it makes sense that you would see our words are excessive. Just like it would be foolish to seethe all day over the schmuck who cut me off this morning. But suppose you did acknowledge the threat as we do, to the point where you would fight, and even kill, to protect your family, country, way of life, would that impulse not be rooted in anger towards those that wish to destroy your world?

Or, on a more personal level, suppose a madman were to attack someone you love; your passion for that person would take the form of anger, and that anger would provide the adrenaline to fight that person off - and only anger, hopefully guided by some reason, would be able to carry you through that trial.

4/20/2006 05:41:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

To exclude or deny certain emotions that you may feel unnecessary or unproductive is not really truthful or constructive. The important part is how you react and understand why you are feeling certain emotions. Emotions are what make us human.

Please, don't go making me reference quotes from Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation! I think I have been very successful so far at hiding my geekiness from fellow Bobbleheads! ;0)

4/20/2006 05:56:00 PM  
Anonymous digdug said...

LLH,

Yes I agree of course. Anger has its place in the design and implementation of a full human, being. IMHO. My question was posed to explore the notion that anger, when acted upon outwardly, seldom creates the desired effect. Turned inward and analyzed, as your mother does before she reacts to her anger at your disobeying her, results in a "processed anger" that many might call wisdom. "Wow, she's a good parent!" some might say of your mom, witnessing her parenting skills. Your mother herself, in a private moment, might confess something more dramatic: "Lord, keep me from beating that child's behind!"
I submit that anger is like a young wine. Leave it in the bottle awhile until you see what it can become. Once one knows their way around the shelves, there are better choices. Even if what is called for is action. Ask a soldier if anger is his friend or his enemy.

And re: my observation that Bob's blog is not compassionate, remember that I stand in Bob's house and I am not here to insult Bob. Not only is it ungracious, but it is stupid. I have tried to skirt this question but you have asked for an answer again. I hope this doesn't get me kicked off the blog. I've watched it happen...

No, this blog is not compassionate. It is highly intolerant. This is not my opinion. This is a simple fact. The two are not simultaneously assimilated, no matter what your views on Bob as a person are. In fact Bob is advocating intolerance of the highest order. Intolerance of stupidity, moral laziness, and sanctimonious posturing, to name some of his favorite whipping posts. And this is his right, on his blog or anywhere else in America. I have to exercise great tolerance to be here, and it has been worth every bit of the effort. Stimulating, engaging, and viscerally ennervating? You betcha. But Compassionate? No way. I hope you come to see that. Sorry if speaking in this authoritative tone offends. That's not my intention. Truth is.

4/20/2006 05:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Digdug said...

Kahn,

Well said. I think your dissection of compassion goes a long way toward making this a semantics issue. You make excellent points, leading me to realize that even though Bob's topics may advocate intolerance, that in itself doesn't prevent compassion generated from within the Bobblehead camp. I have been moved often by this. JWM's very personal sharing is a case in point. I am humbled and moved by his stories. So yes, in that respect LLH, OneCosmos is a compassionate blog. And I hope I am not confusing Bob's persona with his posts. Even in your own mind(s). I see the purpose of his blog as esposing an ideological and a spiritual viewpoint. You are right; it takes compassion to put up a blog such as this, and that speaks to the man. I am speaking to the ideas.

4/20/2006 06:14:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

DigDug- Why should Bob have to tolerate the stupidity of non-logical, unrealistic, paranoid banter from the occasional moonbat on his own blog. The reason most of us congregate here is to avoid that type of moonbat. God knows, we see enough of that in every day life, especially if you live in a big city such as LA. It would be uncompassionate of Bob if he allowed that kind of nonsense to fester in the comments. They have places like that called Democratic Underground, etc. Maybe it's just a case of you say tomaeto, I say tomahto.

I personally happen to think this blog and Bob are very compassionate, he takes time EVERY day to explain in detail the points he is trying to make in the book he already wrote! Maybe you should rethink your definition of compassion.

BTW, I am not trying to come down on you personally because FWIW I think you are on the edge of truly getting it and that is why you are attracted to this blog. So, stick around.... Truth is very close by. You just need to recognize it.

4/20/2006 06:16:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

Oh, why don't we just face up to it?

Bob is the VERY ESSENCE OF EVIL ITSELF!!! A COMBO OF DARTH VADER AND A TAX AUDITOR! WITH THE SOUL OF A HAMMERHEAD SHARK!

4/20/2006 06:48:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I agree, Will! I have decided to look for spiritual insight elsewhere, namely the movie Napolean Dynamite. Ligers Rock!

4/20/2006 07:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Petey said...

He won't let me out of my vertical prison pod!

Tell my story to the world!!!

4/20/2006 07:15:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Sorry, Petey, but you don't have enough of a victimization complex for the MSM. Did he touch you inappropriately in any way?

4/20/2006 07:24:00 PM  
Blogger LiquidLifeHacker said...

digdug---It is highly intolerant. This is not my opinion. This is a simple fact.
---------------

What's wrong with intolerance of stupidity, moral laziness, and sanctimonious posturing?

4/20/2006 07:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Hoarhey said...

I had just gone though all of digdugs posts and cut and pasted the examples I was going to use to point out to him how Bob's thankless job was actually the epitome of compassion, how digdugs fear of his own ego anger has yet to transform into a higher form of "anger" without the ego, his blind suicidal tendencies in the guise of tolerance etc..
Until I came across this gem: "Intolerance of stupidity, moral laziness, and sanctimonious posturing, to name some of his favorite whipping posts."
Bob, is that you messin' with us?

4/20/2006 07:43:00 PM  
Anonymous didgdug said...

Ha. Bob,is that you messin with me?

4/20/2006 08:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Hoarhey said...

Seriously Dig,
If you're not Bob messing around, why on earth would you post this: "Intolerance of stupidity, moral laziness, and sanctimonious posturing, to name some of his favorite whipping posts." as the example of Bobs intolerance?
Why would anyone want to waste precious time dealing with any of that.
As to the anger issue, there is a way of expressing riteous indignation without any of the egotistical time-bomb stuff. "Anger" of this higher nature (think: money changers in the Temple) is infinitely more effective because it has moral authority on its side and actually has a chance of appealing to the conscience of the person/s on the receiving end. It's amazing the power in that type of good anger because in a way it comes from love, and doing the right thing.
But to be able to do it takes the prior work of ridding ourselves of our resentments and finding forgiveness for people in our lives we've felt victimized by. Otherwise were dragging decades of resentment into the anger rendering it tainted and ego ridden. It's all about the intent, are we resentfully trying to jam it down someones throat or are we objectively doing it because we see it's the right thing to do.
I never knew the difference until I dropped the resentment. Now I'm able to kick riteous ass, compassionately of course.

4/20/2006 09:46:00 PM  
Anonymous digdug said...

Hoarhey~

Why would anyone want to waste precious time dealing with any of that.

Because I value the opportunity to post, as a necessary component of my search for understanding. If I have to offend someone as a necessary byproduct of posting, better you than Bob. Note that I did not say "his only" whipping posts. On purpose. As for the rest of your comment, I take from it that you are comparing your righteous anger with that of Jesus, not just in style, but in motive. That certainly cuts me out of the loop.

I came into the discussion today to bring attention to the idea of intolerance existing simultaneously with compassion. Intolerant compassion, or compassionate intolerance. Call it what you want, as often as you want. It will not stand in the light of spirit, no matter how many words or ideas you prop it up with. But unlike you hoarhey I don't ask you to take my word for a complex piece of personal moral posturing. Next time you feel intolerant, do a gut check for yourself and see just where the love is that you presuppose it's coming from. My money says it's still on the bench, waiting patiently for a chance to play. I won't post to you on this topic again. I think we understand our differences as well as we are going to.

4/20/2006 11:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Hoarhey said...

I'm not offended in the least by anything you've posted.

You wrote:
"Intolerance of stupidity, moral laziness, and sanctimonious posturing, to name some of his favorite whipping posts."
I wrote:
Why would anyone want to waste precious time dealing with any of that.
You said:
Because I value the opportunity to post, as a necessary component of my search for understanding. If I have to offend someone as a necessary byproduct of posting, better you than Bob.

I can only guess from this that you are calling yourself stupid sanctimonious and morally lazy.

I still don't get what you're talking about with the intolerant compassion. Too much is left unexplained as if everyone is living in your mind.

Nothing I've communicated to you was out of a sense of anger, just an attempt to understand. If I assumed something about you that was wrong you could have corrected me and explained things better.

4/21/2006 12:16:00 AM  
Anonymous digdug said...

Hoarhey~

So I lied. Thanks. I don't think it's a revelation that I don't share all of your (meaning the Bobbleheads) ideas and opinions. I hope I have been able to get that across in my posts. I do however share a respect for the process that Bob is chairing.

Let me drop the attempt at using words with some sense of craft, and try to simply explain what I believe I said several times already: I used three "friendly" examples of OneCosmos intolerance, and hinted at other examples, not wanting to pull the comments off track. You got hung up on the illustration (for your own reasons), and I still couldn't get it across a second time when I added:

"Note that I did not say "his only" whipping posts. On purpose."

I WAS TRYING TO BE SUBTLE!!!
I WAS TRYING TO BE POLITE!!!

My irritation, I suppose, is that I have to climb down from my carefully constructed Homily Horse and explain this in laymans terms. Ego. Ah well, it ain't the first time.


I am here to understand better why you think like you do. I am not here to provoke (not usually) and if I appear to be I'm sure I'll be called on it. I have seen others' blogging privileges revoked for yanking the comments offtrack for the sake of a personal agenda. Bob has been clear that this is HIS blog, and HIS agenda is what's important. I respect that and have tried to operate within those guidelines.

I am viscerally engaged with the same topics Bob deals with, with different conclusions. If you want to spend your time preaching only to the converted, then I'm sure I'll feel the non-love. As it is, I'm still struggling with the idea that such a deep chasm has developed right here in my own country. It's like a hutu-tutsi thing, or serb-croat. Take us out of our element and no one can tell us apart. Just how is this possible? This blog is helping me understand. And through that understanding, maybe I can more effectively communicate my own values.

I am not here to change anyone's mind, or even to argue. I can find name-calling everywhere, on both sides. No thanks. And when I see it here, I cringe. Not because it's Left, but because it's incendiary. It works. But if your intent is to make someone think, you don't start by calling them names. Hasn't anyone here ever raised a child, or been married, for crissake? And if your intent is simply to form your own close knit, private model airplane club, then shame on you. For hiding the light you profess to hold in such high regard.

If ideas are durable, they will stand up anywhere, without any attending high school mockery toward opposing thought. If not, let them fall and be replaced by something stronger. If you are only seeking that which you've already found, then you probably don't belong here. Or maybe you do. I'm still trying to decide.

I feel like Timothy Treadwell.
And I can feel my own park rangers laughing at me. All I can say is, "Hey. You don't have to watch..."

("Oooh, that's a BIG bear!")

4/21/2006 08:08:00 AM  
Anonymous jwm said...

I've been following the exchange, and while I don't want to jump into the middle of a disagreement I'll offer a couple of observations.

First, I'm not quite sure what the point of contention is.

Second, Digdug- I think I know what you mean by the "intolerance" point. Bob has been pretty vigilant in cutting off folks who have showed up to argue, proselytize, or promote personal agendas. A while back it seemed that a whole lot of threads, particularly those dealing with politics, degenerated into free-for-all rounds of "whack-a-troll" ala LGF.

I am hugely guilty of falling into that trap. It's exciting. It's fun. But once it starts then all learning and discovery go out the door. I need to remind myself why I am here. I'm trying to get a handle on faith. I'm looking for that point of entry into the mystery that is religion. I won't accomplish either if I'm sitting here stoking my own ego with the latest witty barb that I slung at someone.
And lest I be misunderstood on the 'ego stoking' point, I do not mean to imply that you, or Hoarhey, or anyone else is doing it. I am talking only about myself.

By the way- Who is Timothy Treadwell?

JWM

4/21/2006 11:58:00 AM  
Anonymous rorschach said...

Intolerant compassion is perfectly understandable. One may love humanity so much that one hates to see them acting so ri-goddamn-diculous every day of the year. One may love humanity, but hate watching it self-destruct.

Bob's work is sort of the spiritual version of an Intervention: "I love you, but I hate what I see you doing to yourself."

4/21/2006 01:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Hoarhey said...

digdug said:
"I feel like Timothy Treadwell.
And I can feel my own park rangers laughing at me. All I can say is, "Hey. You don't have to watch..."

They may not have had to watch but the Rangers did have to come back risking their own lives and kill two bears and clean up his mess.
And actually this is a perfect illustration to show why:

"I'm still struggling with the idea that such a deep chasm has developed right here in my own country."

Because on the one hand we have the Park Rangers who can see reality and the train wreck that will eventually happen if we follow Leftist policies and on the other end of the spectrum is Treadwell stuck in the fantasy world of his own making, unable to or refusing to see things as they Truly are.
The Rangers are trying to stop the advances of the Treadwells because they can "see" dangerous, history repeating itself, consequences that will happen down the road if they follow Treadwells policies.
It's interesting that you would see things from Treadwells perspective.
I can assure you one thing, no one here has been laughing at you. We've actually been trying to help. At least I have.

And I really am done with this.




JWM, pick up a copy of 'Grizzly Man' from the local video store. Treadwell is the guy who was warned for years what would happen to him if he kept up with his fantasies concerning grizzly bears and he ended up getting himself, his girlfriend and two bears killed because of his poor judgement. One warning though, it contains explicit footage of a highly paranoid extreme moonbat leftist.


Rorschach, I understand your definition of intolerant compassion but believe digdugs definition is something else entirely.

4/21/2006 05:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Kahntheroad said...

(Don't know if I'm screaming in an 2 day old post comment ghost town, so I'll be brief)

digdug, I agree with you wholeheartedly here:

"if your intent is simply to form your own close knit, private model airplane club, then shame on you. For hiding the light you profess to hold in such high regard.

If ideas are durable, they will stand up anywhere, without any attending high school mockery toward opposing thought. If not, let them fall and be replaced by something stronger. If you are only seeking that which you've already found, then you probably don't belong here. Or maybe you do. I'm still trying to decide."


For me, Bob's perspective was like a revelation - I mean I shocking - UFOs landing in the middle of the road to Damascus - confirming moment. My response to this is an increased effort to find something to disagree with him on. It's been about 4 months and his batting average gets more frightening by the post (Heck, even dressing the baby in bright orange every day is starting to make way too much sense...).

Anyway, digdug (and anyone else), I would love to continue this discussion over at Cosmic Launch (I'll see if we can sqeeze it in the schedule...). Pop over if you're interested.

4/21/2006 10:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The bible is bullshit.
There is not one ounce of proof that this stupid book is the word of God.
In addition it explains nothing.

When people say they believe in the bible what they are saying is they like to pick and choose what to believe because the book is totaly illogical and bogus.

12/23/2006 06:38:00 AM  
Anonymous cousin dupree said...

Thank you for that glistening insight, but you are an animal, so you are speaking of matters that a priori exclude your rudimentray level of consciousness. However, know that we hear your anger and empathize with your inarticulate frustration.

12/23/2006 07:29:00 AM  

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