Suspended Somewhere Between Heaven and Earth
If one is lucky, a moment comes in one’s life when one makes the conscious decision to move closer to God, to know reality to the fullest, and to establish a permanent relationship with what is permanent. In so doing, we become what we are and what we were always meant to be. We become a true individual, but we also become a human being as such, for there is no humanness without divinity, only exalted animality.
There are many ways to prove the existence of God if one is sincere about doing so. One very easy way for me is to notice how different my life is when God withdraws, as inevitably happens with most anyone on a spiritual path: now you see Him, now you don’t. For example, when I write something of a spiritual nature, it is only because I am in the state of which I write. If I am not in that state, then I can only fake it, which I try to avoid. Such writing is generally worthless.
The same holds true for anything I write about politics. Whatever the content may be, it also unavoidably emanates from a particular level of consciousness. I am completely aware of this as I am writing. People who accuse me of a disconnect between my supposedly lofty spiritual principles and my “blue orange” political philosophy (in the loopy terms of “spiral dynamics” theory) don’t seem to realize that I take the world as it is, not as I wish it to be. Nothing could be more vain and narcissistic than assuming that everyone in the world is at the same level of development and responds in the same way to the same rewards and incentives.
This is elementary. Take two tribes and place them side by side. One is a highly spiritually advanced, wise and peaceful “green” community of seekers. Next door is a bloodthirsty tribe of red-purple brigands. If the peace-loving group is not entirely in touch with its own aggressive red side, it will simply be devoured--as was Tibet and as would Israel if it were to lay down its arms.
This is why I consider Gandhi such an unqualified--you will pardon the expression--ass. The notion that violence is a priori bad or immoral is one of the most pernicious ideas imaginable. As I have said before, it is as immature, stupid and dysfunctional as the idea that your immune system is bad because of the violent manner in which it greets invaders. Pacifism is the moral equivalent of AIDs; it is like equating a compromised immune system with robust health.
Not everyone is the same. To become an individual is to know your destiny, and your destiny is not another’s destiny. There exist natural castes--priests, scholars, warriors, artisans, merchants, laborers, etc. Each person has their function in the whole, and none has any more intrinsic dignity than the others. But no one, regardless of caste, should lose sight of the good fortune of being born into the human state. Trials and ordeals will come, and they will be of a different nature, depending upon one’s dharma.
Some of my readers are well aware of the ordeals of the spiritual path, for when you take that path, make no mistake, you are declaring war. And your declaration will not go unnoticed by the other side. You are going to have to drop the gloves at center ice and go toe to toe with the other team’s goon. It is your destiny, just as it is the warrior’s destiny to meet the enemy on the battlefield.
War of the external variety is simply an exteriorized version of this interior warfare. The spiritual path is hardly a cakewalk, as the lives of the great saints and mystics illustrate. For when you take this vertical path, there comes a moment when the divine element makes contact with what is undivine in the soul, and the results are both painful and disruptive. Whatever you habitually carry within yourself that is incompatible with perfection will be burned, dissolved, broken apart, shoved around, and hopefully transformed, but not without putting up a fight.
All traditions recognize this process by various names. Joseph Campbell called it the “hero’s journey,” but it is also known as the “dark night of the soul,” the temptation of the devil, the descent into hell, and yes, even jihad. Only he who has personally witnessed sacrifice and resurrection knows the secret of dying in order to be reborn.
The elements that are aroused by the declaration of spiritual warfare come from different levels and dimensions. There are the personal mind parasites I discuss in my book. There are cultural mind parasites--the collective madness of your particular human group. There are genetic influences that must be transcended, even collective patterns that haunt all of mankind. It is well understood that the great saint or boddhisatva takes on the karma (or sins) of the world and does something for the benefit of all mankind, no different than the great scientist who makes a breakthrough that will cure a disease that threatens everyone.
I am personally so grateful to some of these saints who have waged spiritual warfare for my benefit, that I can hardly find the words to thank them. They devoted their lives to a cause which benefits me in a direct and palpable way, every day of my life. Where would I be without these great souls that went before? They are no different than the great explorers of the physical world who first discovered the unknown country, waged battle with various hostile forces, made a little clearing, mapped the territory, and made it habitable.
Obstacles and trials in life are absolutely necessary, because these will reveal and test your character. I was about to say that everyone is tested, but no longer. A big part of the liberal impulse is to reward weakness rather then to help the weak--to eliminate the very conditions that allow humanness to bloom on the altar of sacrifice and trial. Society degenerates under these lax conditions. Even thinking becomes sloppy and decadent, let alone behavior.
It would be nice if we could make life easy for everyone, but it would be a life unworthy of human beings and our reason for being here. A well lived life is not measured by indulgence and momentary pleasures, but “is paved with acts of renunciation; in order to live in accordance with truth and beauty it is necessary to know how to die. Thus it is that the ‘Remembrance of God’ is a kind of death that day by day interrupts the blind flux of life; without these pauses, the flow of our temporal existence strays and is squandered” (Schuon).
War would not be useful or necessary if every man could bear the battle within rather than without. All human beings should be taught as part of their birthright that their greatest enemy is within and that their greatest struggle in life will always be with themselves. Both the Left and the Islamists, in their own ways, teach the very opposite of this quintessentially humanist doctrine: the enemy is outside, you are a victim, and you are entitled to the fulfillment of your fantasies.
Where are the leaders who teach not self esteem, but self conquest? What great Arab will explain to fellow Arabs that Israel is not the source of any of their problems--not a single one--and what great liberal will deliver the hard news to his fallow trivialers that George Bush is not what is obstructing their spiritual--much less material--fulfillment?