Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Bridge to the Center of the Cosmos

Today we are going to do some verticalisthenics, so bring your Denys shoes and casuist clothing, and I'll talk along some loose fitting gab.

Frithjof Schuon writes of two key ideas, that of the origin and that of the center: “In the spatial world where we live, every value is related in some way to a sacred Center, which is the place where Heaven has touched the earth; in every human world there is a place where God has manifested Himself in order to pour forth His grace.

“And it is the same for the Origin, which is the quasi-timeless moment when Heaven was near and things were still half-celestial...”

For those of you who are familiar with my book, the nonsensuous uberchore at the beginning was my attempt to describe the badda bing-badda bang of the Origin, while the nonsense at the end was my attempt to describe the journey to the Center, where heaven and earth meet once again in the muddle of the mount, right back at the Origin. Hallow, noumena!

Most of our waking life is spent outside the Center and Origin, although one of the purposes of the spiritual life is to spend as much timelessness there as as possible. Outside the vertical world of Center and Origin, we pass our days in the horizontal categories of space and time that flow from them. But in the spiritual view, time takes on a special, eschatological meaning, as it relates to the perfection that leads to theosis--both individually and cosmically. In other words, timelessness takes time, and as some Beat up old poet once said, “walking on water wasn’t built in a day.”

To be situated in space is to be situated in a cosmology, even if it is a very boring and stilted cosmology that is not worthy of humans, such as materialism. A legitimate religious cosmology serves the function of providing the human being with all the tools he needs to discern his existential situation and to do something about it--not on his own, mind you, but with the assistance of the grace which flows through it. Religion is supposed to provide you with a vertical cosmology that helps you know your way around the interior of the cosmos. Science, on the other hand, deals only with the exterior aspect of the cosmos--its outer tier, or epidermis, so to speak.

Through grace, we may surpass ourselves and therefore become ourselves. We may realize our highest destiny, which is not found in the things of this world, but back at the vertical Center and Origin, now further enriched and transformed by our presence, which it is our duty to radiate back out horizontally into the world. And so it glows....

Multiculturalism is a pernicious crock in the cosmic egg because, among other reasons, there is no ultimate value in culture per se. Rather, we judge a culture in its vertical aspect in terms of how effective it is in orienting us to our destiny and allowing us to arrive there. There are many cultures that focus on our ultimate destiny--in a charitable mood, one could even say that this is what the contemporary Islamic world attempts to do. However, their various horizontal pathologies prevent anyone from actually achieving their vertical destiny--or at least they had better keep quiet about it if they do stumble upon it, or sufi the consequences.

Other, more dynamic societies such as ours, provide us with all the tools we require to move, to get off the dime and go forward. But forward into what? Here is the nub of the crux of the gist of the rub, my cosmonauts, for if all our wonderful dynamism is not oriented toward the Origin and Center....

Does anyone out there understand what I’m saying, or does it sound like I’m speaking of irrelevant abstractions that do not touch our day-to-day lives, much less the future of our civilization? Can I get a witness? Can I get a hallelujah? Is this thing on?

Naturally, we in the west have our well known metaphysical pathologies of materialitis and reductionosis, effectively barring the gates of heaven and installing man in place of the Creator. As a reaction to this impoverished horizontal cosmolatry, we also have our curiously muddled spiritual pathologies that reverse the cosmic order and elevate the relative to the absolute, e.g., “Nagarjuna is God.” This is the way of most spiritually barren new age alternate post-religious magic. You shall know them by their fruit cakes.

It goes without saying that no culture is perfect, just as no relative world of any kind is perfect. “There is none good but the One.” Human perfection lies in its proximity to the Perfection of our vertical lighthouse at the end of the historical tunnel. It’s a narrow path toward that tunnel, but it is only on that path that the ravages of time are essentially reversed, leading toward perfection rather than mere repetition or degeneration.

The cultural bridge that leads us from the relative to the absolute is badly broken, not just through neglect, but because some vertical errorists in our very midst--most of them terminally tenured--have been actively trying to blow it up for several centuries. It was once a very sturdy bridge that led to many blessings, such as science, democracy, liberty, and the ultimate value of the indvidual. But now, those things are in danger of becoming ends in themselves, thus enclosing us in a linear prison rather than a means of reaching the Center and Origin.

For man does not flourish in the circular world of old-fashioned paleo-paganism or the linear world of contemporary neo-paganism, but only in the open spiral of vertical faith and horizontal reason.

62 Comments:

Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"As a reaction to this impoverished horizontal cosmolatry, we also have our curiously muddled spiritual pathologies that reverse the cosmic order and elevate the relative to the absolute, e.g., “Nagarjuna is God.” This is the way of most spiritually barren new age alternate post-religious magic. You shall know them by their fruit cakes."

Not really. Form is emptiness. Emptiness is form. The relative and the absolute are not two. This is not "new age" babble. It is the profoundest wisdom stretching from millennia past through the present day.

9/21/2006 09:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That kind of "wisdom" explains why the Buddhist world so backward and dysfuntional. Thank God that we in the west are beneificiaries of the view that form is logos, not emptiness.

9/21/2006 09:32:00 AM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"That kind of "wisdom" explains why the Buddhist world so backward and dysfuntional."

Probably not. This insight predates Buddhism and may be the mystical core of several of the great wisdom traditions, including Christianity. However, too few of those within these traditions have probably understood this insight well enough for it to have had a significant impact, for "better" or "worse," on the socio-cultural development of any nation.

9/21/2006 09:55:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

There's pockets of witnesses out there, Bob. Now for an enigmatic assertion - this blog reaches them even if they aren't reading it (yet)

To look on the Light side: The traditional cultural bridges may be collapsing, but I think that, in some ways, this underscores other ways to get across the water, maybe compels some to see that they have the capacity to, one by one, walk across the water. You know, the Light is born in the darkness, etc.

9/21/2006 09:55:00 AM  
Anonymous charlz said...

QDoes anyone out there understand what I’m saying, or does it sound like I’m speaking of irrelevant abstractions that do not touch our day-to-day lives, much less the future of our civilization? Can I get a witness? Can I get a hallelujah? Is this thing on?

A Occasionally and lately more frequently, sometimes, to whom should I witness, hallelujah Brother hallelujah! and on what, oh, you mean working. Yes!

All seriousness aside, we who lurk and seldom comment greet each new post andcomment with pleasant anticipation.

Keep 'dat stuff up!

9/21/2006 10:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm working; I'm working; but I have to wait on the One Will (which should come at any minute...)

9/21/2006 10:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nags--

That is an extraordinarlily ignorant thing to say. Can you cite an examle of a reputable history book you have read that says that Buddhist culture was not influenced by Buddhist ideas?

The metaphysics upon which the Christian west was based were quite different than Buddhism. It is specifically because of this correct metaphysical understanding that we were able to escape the circular prison of the pagan world.

9/21/2006 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Does anyone out there understand what I’m saying, or does it sound like I’m speaking of irrelevant abstractions that do not touch our day-to-day lives, much less the future of our civilization? Can I get a witness? Can I get a hallelujah? Is this thing on?"

I think so, I take my best stabs at it anyway.

I think that it began to dawn on me when I began to wonder what would happen, what it would be like, to have all of my dreams come true, to achieve every one of my goals, acquire every thing I could possibly desire - what then? That's when I began to change my focus from seeking outwardly only, to seeking upward and inwardly (to the center) as well.

For if you've ever attempted the child's ideal day, with you and your best friend riding the biggest rollercoaster in the park all day long - you found out that it loses its luster and thrill with each successive run - the thrills soon deaden to mere shakes and jolts, until you and your friend eventually look at each other and say "Lets get off this thing!". If you are introspective at all, you'll discover that the real fun - not merely the thrill, but Your true enjoyment of the thrill park comes from being with, and experiencing the rides WITH your best friend.

The Thrill Park is something that is enjoyable only as an intersection of the Park, your friend, and yourself - together, at once. The removal of either three, will lessen the experience, and also to overemphasize any one of the three, will lessen the beneficial possibilities and experience of the entire trip.

If we were put here, we were put HERE, into the interaction of the mental, physical and spiritual, as Individuals within the Cosmos for a purpose, and it seems to me that trying to behave as if you were the PUT-ER rather than the PUT-EE, is a childish waste of time and effort.

If indeed we are all God, and everything else at once, then you may want to consider why you (God) entered into the world shorn of the conscious memory of your actually being the big cheese himself - attempting such a belief (which I would say can't truly be believed, only faked - for who?) might be putting you in jeopardy of taking all the fun out of the experience that you (the almighty and powerful God) were trying to enjoy, kind of like cheating at solitaire.

9/21/2006 10:42:00 AM  
Anonymous ben usn (ret) said...

Hallelujah Bob!
We need that bridge over the river Why.
Leftists see no reason to cross the bridge, because they already NO Why.
They keep trying to blow that bridge, because they don't want anyone to KNOW Why.
Those who KNOW Why, understand that those who NO Why don't have a clue as to Why.
Case in point, the fruit cake of the day who attempts to unlighten us with
the profundissed wizzdum, stretched by Mo and Lennia.
And what is this profundissed wizzdum?
"The relative and the absolute are not two".
Bad form Mr. Fruit Cake.
I don't give a fig about this brand of profundissed wizzdum!
I mean, it's relatively deep and absolutely the pitts!
I much prefer to climb than to fall!
The relatively impossible climb is absolutely possible, because of the Absolute King who doesn't have a relative waiting in the wings.

Thank you, Bob, for immunizing against spiritual pathologies!

9/21/2006 11:06:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Ben, speaking of surpassing oneself, you just surpassed yours.

9/21/2006 11:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Joe said...

nagarjuna said: Not really. Form is emptiness. Emptiness is form. The relative and the absolute are not two. This is not "new age" babble. It is the profoundest wisdom

He who declines to tell difference between emptiness and form drops the ball.

9/21/2006 11:23:00 AM  
Anonymous stu said...

Nags,

Do you even know what you're saying? Do you realize the utter nonsense of your meaningless words? What happened to your filter between mind and paper that allows most of us to exercise discretion when we want to make impulsive comments? And why do you insist on completely inverting the true structure of the cosmos?

You said,

"Form is emptiness. Emptiness is form. The relative and the absolute are not two. This is not "new age" babble. It is the profoundest wisdom stretching from millennia past through the present day."

Perhaps an analogy might help you understand the structure of things:

There was once a pool of calm water, ubiquitously flat and completely undisturbed. But then a stone fell into this pool. The stone dropped to the bottom of the pool and could never again be directly perceived. But before it sank, the stone set countless ripples in motion across the pool. And while the stone could never be seen directly by the ripples, each ripple was itself a unique reflection of the stone. After a long time, the ripples dissipated and the calm pool of water was restored to its initial state.

Of course, it would be foolish to think that while a ripple exists it is the very same thing as the original undisturbed pool. And it would also be wrong to believe that a ripple is the stone. And certainly, the ripple cannot directly experience the stone that caused it.

That should clear things up, Nags, but in case you don't get it yet:

Pool = Godhead, Ein Sof

Stone = The Pure Act, The Holy Instant

Ripples = Layers of Reality in the Cosmos

9/21/2006 11:34:00 AM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"That is an extraordinarlily ignorant thing to say. Can you cite an examle of a reputable history book you have read that says that Buddhist culture was not influenced by Buddhist ideas?"

Once again, the insight that the self is the Self is God predates Buddhism. But it is an insight so poorly understood or not understood at all by the vast majority of Hindus, Buddhists, and those of other wisdom traditions with this essential insight that it has probably had relatively little influence on their societies and cultures.

However, it could also be said that if it has had a greater impact that this, this is not necessarily the gauge of its truth.

9/21/2006 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Stu--

I love that metaphor. I would only add that perhaps little stones are contantly dropping from on high, and that it is our task to notice the ripples of these cosmic depth charges. In fact, perhaps that big stone that came in at the start now abides at the end, and is pulling all of us little stoners into its gravitational attractor at the end of time.

9/21/2006 12:01:00 PM  
Anonymous stu said...

I agree, Bob. Without the continuous influence of the little stones and the telos of the big stone we would live in a pretty bleak deterministic world.

Just trying to get the point across to Nags that the waves are not the ocean.

9/21/2006 12:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Stu--

His new age thinking is necessarily rather muddled and shifting, but as far as I can tell, he is confusing the principial world with its manifestion, without which existence could not be. He has a sort of glorified flatland cosmology that disregards the degrees of being and elevates the relative to the absolute. Sure, it's a spiritually simple and impoverished world, but at least he gets to be God in it.

9/21/2006 12:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Don't forget as well that the "ancient wisdom" promulgated by Nagurjuna was formulated at a time when the universe was thought to be eternal instead of having a start and going somewhere. Thankfully, both Judaism and Christianity ignored this pagan superstition rather than, as he erroneously asserts, secretly founding themselves itself upon it.

9/21/2006 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"Just trying to get the point across to Nags that the waves are not the ocean."

The waves and ocean are ultimately "not two."

9/21/2006 12:24:00 PM  
Anonymous nat said...

Nagarjuna, if you're not two, stop acting like it. We would settle for three or four.

9/21/2006 12:29:00 PM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"He has a sort of glorified flatland cosmology that disregards the degrees of being and elevates the relative to the absolute. Sure, it's a spiritually simple and impoverished world, but at least he gets to be God in it."

Degrees of being are intellectual constructs, not ontological realities. I don't "elevate" the relative to the absolute; I simply acknowledge the ultimate non-duality of them. It is not "flatland" in the Wilberian sense because it encompasses all the interior as well as exterior dimensions of being. And it is not that little ole me gets to be God; God gets to be God.

"Don't forget as well that the "ancient wisdom" promulgated by Nagurjuna was formulated at a time when the universe was thought to be eternal instead of having a start and going somewhere."

Who has proven that the universe "had a start"? Who knows with certainty that it hasn't existed eternally?

9/21/2006 12:32:00 PM  
Anonymous jacob B. said...

Nagurjuna--

You're in way over your head, and now you are just pretending. Of course the degrees of being are ontological, most notably the necessary ontological divide between being and beyond being or principle and manifestation. This is a fine example of what Van has been trying vainly to drive home to you. The hollowness of your words betrays your ignorance of what you are talking about. You are like a mental patient who has escaped into a medical school, barges into a class, and begins discoursing on anatomy until the men with the net come in and haul you off. You have no personal knowledge of that which you speak, and it leaks out all over.

9/21/2006 12:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been reading this blog and staying on the sidelines for some time. I agree in general with most everything said, yet increasingly of late the comments themselves sound like a bunch of true believers, arguing over some nuances I go not see as important to the overall viewpoint. The "moonbat" comments re Nagarjuna are a case in point. If I took the time perhaps I could find the esoteric points you all seem so keen on disagreeing with. Nagarjuna himself seems like the most intent on actually listening but gets abused for his, to my way of thinking, healthy effort.
I have read and enjoyed Bob's book and followed up on several of the more important strands of thought. In Meditations on the Tarot, p 276, a distinction is made between conversation and controversy- flowing together and flowing against. To paraphrase the anonymous author further from the same page, I conclude I will continue to learn much through the blog, but nothing from it.
I can't wait to see my words nitpicked to death.

9/21/2006 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"The hollowness of your words betrays your ignorance of what you are talking about."

It's interesting that you should say that, Jacob, because I have the impression that many here are hypnotized by abstruse theological and metaphysical constructs (or by those who express them here with undeniable eloquence) instead of getting to the "nitty gritty" of of THAT which lies beneath the constructs. They appear to be engaged in the "hollow" task of trying to graft conceptual legs onto an ontological snake.

Do I speak the words of sages with the same authority as the sages themselves who spoke them first? Not any more than Gagdad speaks with the same authority as the saints and sages he quotes, paraphrases, and summarizes. But that doesn't necessarily invalidate my message any more than it does his.

So much of what seems to pass here as intelligent rebuttal of points with which the "One Cosmos" community disagrees is not reasoned, much less wise, addressing of the points themselves, but personal remarks about the alleged emotional, intellectual, or spiritual incompetence of the person who makes them. What a shame, because they can surely do better.

9/21/2006 01:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Joseph said...

anon,
Nag's last comment regarding degrees of Being as not ontological realities, but ontological constructs clearly betrays his views, perhaps more than any other statement he has yet made, in my opinion. For him, there is only Thou Art That, or in other words, only immanence, which is another way of saying everything is God, or pantheism. Everything else is construct. This is an intrinsic heresy, the kind that Grant could not stand. That there are degrees of Being that are ontological real is irrefutable, and fundamental for understanding how a human may get from here to There. I highly recommend a very heavy dose of Rene Guenon's metaphysical works (not necessarily his critique of modernity) and Schuon for Nag.

9/21/2006 01:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Nagarjuna pretending to be anonymous--

Far be it from us to disagree with you about Meditations. But the "flowing together" of conversation is not possible when people fundamentally disagree about the most important values. We cannot provide the full back story of our unpleasant dealings with Nagarjuna, but suffice it to say that we would be happy if he would simply go away to his own blog. He is combative, passive aggressive, and argumentative, and if you are the least bit psychologically sensitive, you will notice how he alternates between obnoxious bully and pathetic victim. You obviously have a soft spot in your heart for self-inflicted victimhood, but we do not. Not a single one of these wearisome discussions has ever gotten anywhere, mainly because he has no understanding of the point of view being expressed here but pretends to instruct us about things we know to be false, absurd, and pernicious. We try not to engage him, but we well understand the temptation of others, such as Van, to tear into a bad argument. It's a guy thing.

9/21/2006 01:19:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Joseph--

Amen.

9/21/2006 01:20:00 PM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"For him, there is only Thou Art That, or in other words, only immanence, which is another way of saying everything is God, or pantheism."

No. All is one, and one is all. There is immanence and transcendence, but they are complementary aspects of the same Ultimate Reality. Yes, everything IS God, but then God is everything.

"I highly recommend a very heavy dose of Rene Guenon's metaphysical works (not necessarily his critique of modernity) and Schuon for Nag."

Thanks for the recommendation.

"Petey," I have posted anonymously before, but I did not post the comment to which you refer. You can presumably confirm this if you actually DO value truth above all else.

9/21/2006 01:33:00 PM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"He is combative, passive aggressive, and argumentative, and if you are the least bit psychologically sensitive, you will notice how he alternates between obnoxious bully and pathetic victim."

Where? Recent examples please of my displays of any of these alleged traits.

"pretends to instruct us about things we know to be false, absurd, and pernicious."

Examples please of any of these "false, absured, and pernicious" instructions.

" but we well understand the temptation of others, such as Van, to tear into a bad argument."

What "bad argument" have I made that Van has torn into with success? That a statement is not a lie unless the person making it knows it's not true? That a belief can be true and worth stating even if the person making it doesn't know for sure that it's true and, in fact, must not know that it's true if it's to be a belief rather than a certitude?

I'm sorry to say that I have to leave now. My best to all of you.

9/21/2006 01:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nags,

Not so long ago, I thought and acted a lot like you do. Before that, I was an atheist. And before that I was too self-absorbed to consider such matters.

When I was a narcissistic idiot I was never able to truly identify with the mundane and materialistic.

When I was an atheist I was never able to authentically believe that God was an absurd myth.

And when I was a NewAgie moonbat, I could never truly believe that I was God or that the Relative is not real, or that all is unity.

Perhaps in the future I will be graced with another perspective shift and my current beliefs will seem as incomplete as my past ones now do.

Nags, I know exactly where you are coming from. But you have to realize that ideologies evolve just like biological organisms or memes or consciousness.

And I know from experience that your New Age pseudo-beliefs are more false (i.e. "less-evolved") than the ideologies which Bob gives voice to on this blog.

And there's no need to be such a pretentious asshole in your arguments. I wonder if you talk (and think for that matter) the way you write.

-Stu, pretending to be Anonymous

9/21/2006 01:58:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Joseph--

If you're out there, I was wondering if you've ever come across the writings of a Jean Bies, who was an orthodox Christian who also embraced both Schuon and Aurobindo, the former of whom did not approve of the latter due to his lack of orthodoxy, among other matters. I'm just curious how someone pulls all of that together. I try, but not without diffciulty.

9/21/2006 02:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Joseph said...

Bob,
I actually have, but have not yet read Bies' book, done by World Wisdom Books, "Returning to the Essential". I had no idea he also embraced Aurobindo, which is very interesting--I'll have to read that book (funny that World Wisdom, Schuon's publishing company, put that out). Being very Schuonian myself, I have discounted Aurobindo, until I came across One Cosmos. Your blog and book have definitely opened up new worlds for me. Indeed, I have always had a terrible time with the full blown rejection of the modern world. How do I reconcile, I have thought many times, obvious positive aspects of the modern world, such as Albert Pujols and Doc Watson, with this wholesale rejection? Though I obviously don't always agree with you, I am very grateful for the openings you have offered.

9/21/2006 02:14:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"We try not to engage him, but we well understand the temptation of others, such as Van, to tear into a bad argument. It's a guy thing."

sigh. I know you warned me, but in my defense you've had several months headstart on me.

But after the double-reverse layups of Nag's last few Post's-comments, I think I do finally get the picture.

Experience is the best teacher.

9/21/2006 02:16:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Joseph--

Regarding Schuon, that in itself is a difficult balance. Maybe it's because he is so absolute and categorical about everything, but I can't think of anyone else of whom I enthusiastically embrace about 90% of their ideas but must respectfully but categorically reject the other 10%. I suppose one picks and chooses with anyone--indeed, Schuon did not hestiate to pick and choose from those he learned from. It's just that he's so sure of himself.... He's like the Cosmic Pope or something.... He even makes Petey nervous.

9/21/2006 02:25:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Joseph--

Albert Pujols, yes, not to mention Ryan Howard. But one shudders to think what Schuon would say about the demonic innovation of the DH. A mark of the beast? A sign of the Kali Yuga?

9/21/2006 02:35:00 PM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

Stu and Van, before I step out the door, please allow me to address your remarks.

Stu,

"Before that, I was an atheist. And before that I was too self-absorbed to consider such matters."

I started out Christian, became agnostic (but never atheistic), and am now probably closest to what you might call agnostic panentheistic. So, I certainly agree with you that "ideologies evolve," and I would never go so far as to say, in all candor, that Bob's or your "ideology" isn't more evolved than mine.

"And when I was a NewAgie moonbat, I could never truly believe that I was God or that the Relative is not real, or that all is unity."

For the record, I don't believe that the relative is not real or that the conventional "I" am God.

"And there's no need to be such a pretentious asshole in your arguments. I wonder if you talk (and think for that matter) the way you write."

How am I being pretentious? By expressing opinions, just like all the rest of you do? How am I being an "asshole"? By not agreeing with everything you say?

"I wonder if you talk (and think for that matter) the way you write."

Yes, I think I pretty much do.

Van,

"But after the double-reverse layups of Nag's last few Post's-comments, I think I do finally get the picture."

I'd be curious to know to which "double-reverse layups" you refer, and what "picture" you now get, if you care to share.

Peace and goodwill to you all, as I really DO take my leave for the rest of the day.

9/21/2006 02:43:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Hi folks. Van, Stu, Joseph , and Joan: I've been in lurk mode for a while, but I still read every day. Your contributions have been great.
I haven't been too concerned with the more rarified and esoteric end of the spiritual quest these last days. Immanence/ transcendence; if thou art this, that, or six different other things- or not... Sometimes it's great fun to ponder.

Right now I'm just not into it.

Love your enemy?
Hard enough to love your family- hell, sometimes it's hard to love yourself. I am suspicious of people who claim to be able to love their enemies. Jesus could. The Saints, and Bodhisatvas could. Let's just say I'm not there yet.
Besides. We are at war. We we can worry about loving the enemy later. Right now we have to destroy them.

I am trying to acquire a working faith. I'll worry about celestial navigation in time. Right now I need keel balast and rudder. You can talk all day about where the stars may guide you but you can't get there without a sound and worthy craft. Frankly, I don't want to go to sea in someone's homemade boat.

Was all that sufficiently cryptic?

hi Lisa, Will, Sal, Dilys.

JWM

9/21/2006 03:24:00 PM  
Anonymous joseph said...

Bob,
Reconciling these things has become my very serious spiritual dimlemma. My situation is somewhat similar, as I agree fully with 90%, while questioning 10%. For a disciple of Schuon, there is no cafeteria plan. My main issue, in fact, Albert and Doc aside, is how does one function living in a world, having children, and yet, in principle, fully reject it? I simply cannot not notice clear advancements in certain things, finally, some fundamental things. When I think that way, however, I wonder if I am like those people who Aurobindo speaks of who have the truth, but their minds are not content, so it seeks elsewhere for something to grind. I pray I am not simply grinding.

9/21/2006 03:27:00 PM  
Anonymous joseph said...

I did not actually mean to write "dimlemma", but I really like the word.

9/21/2006 03:34:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Joseph--

I've been intending to address that issue directly in a post, but I haven't had the time it will take to do it justice. However, I think the bottom line is that we must live in two worlds and not necessarily try to reconcile them--render unto Caesar, and all that. For example, there is a sense in which Darwinian evolution and big bang cosmology are clearly true, but another sense, as outlined by Schuon, in which they are false and clearly do not speak to our humanness.

Wolfgang Smith talks about it in terms of the corporeal world and the physical world. Science takes the physical world as the most real, but for humans, the corporeal world is more real, and the physical world is actually a declension from that. This would be fully consistent with Aurobindo's idea of involution-evolution, and also be reconcilable with Christianity.

I know that was cryptic, but I will explain all in a future post coming soon to a computer near you!

9/21/2006 03:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Joseph said...

Bob,
I look forward to that. Thanks.

9/21/2006 03:43:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Nagarjuna said...
"I'd be curious to know to which "double-reverse layups" you refer, and what "picture" you now get, if you care to share."

Nope.

Tell you what, go back through all of your previous comments and argue with yourself - there's plenty of opposing views you can take issue with.

Ta.

9/21/2006 05:15:00 PM  
Anonymous stu said...

Joseph,

You said:

"My main issue, in fact, Albert and Doc aside, is how does one function living in a world, having children, and yet, in principle, fully reject it?"

Bob recently wrote about Jesus being both fully divine and fully human at the same time.

That's the beauty, and the bane, of the human condition. We get to simultaneously inhabit more than one world.

My personal internal experience of this phenomena has been interesting. There is part of me that knows that Seeking is the only truly important mission of my lifetime. And there is another part of me that knows that everything else I do here absolutely DOES matter.

The Seeker part trys to fully 'reject' the world, and the other part of me trys to function in the world and embrace it.

I don't logically know how these two apparently opposing drives can harmoniously coexist within me. And I do at times experience some conflict between these two drives.

This conflict will occasionally manifest itself as a juvenile desire to quit my career and Seek full time. (In fact, all the time I've been spending commenting here is probably a manifestation of this.) Other times, I'll get so wrapped in work or in a girlfriend, that I'll temporarily forget about my Search.

But despite the fact that it doesn't seem logical, I mostly experience these two opposing drives as compatible with each other and integral to my identity.

How this can be, psychologically or logicall, I have no idea.

9/21/2006 05:27:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Stu--

What you are describing is central to Judaism, to Christianity, and to Aurobindo's neo-Vedantic approach, which is really just a restatement of orthodox Vedanta. For as it says in the Isha Upanishad:

"To darkness are they doomed who devote themselves only to life in the world, and to a greater darkness they who devote themselves only to meditation." This again highlights the error of he who shall not be named.

9/21/2006 05:40:00 PM  
Anonymous stu said...

You mean Lord Voldemort?

9/21/2006 05:45:00 PM  
Anonymous stu said...

Nags,

You said:

"I would never go so far as to say, in all candor, that Bob's or your 'ideology' isn't more evolved than mine."

So you do agree that hierarchy exists? And you do admit that your New Age ideology might be a rung or two down on the cosmic ladder from perspective Bob showcases on his blog?

Because everything else you have said suggests that you dont accept the existence of authentic hierarchy.

Perhaps you might take some time to clarify your thinking.

It does seem futile, at this point, to try and get through to you. I'm sure one day it will just click for you. But for now, I give up.

9/21/2006 06:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Connecticut Yankee said...

Bob-- Good to see some kind words about another Phillies player. On the subject of bridges, there's one now between baseball and the Tarot.

From Mark Lerner's review: "The Baseball Tarot is a quality Tarot cards-and-book set with 78 borderless, oversized, and very glossy cards. The major arcana have titles altered to fit the baseball theme, while the minors are divided into suits of Mitts (Cups), Balls (Swords), Bats (Wands), and Bases (Coins), each with twelve suit cards and two courts (Coach and MVP)."

Card images at http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/cards/baseball-lerner/

Don't know what the learned commentator on the Tarot might think, but I'd guess Petey has an opinion!

9/21/2006 06:20:00 PM  
Blogger geckofeeder said...

Hallelujah !

9/21/2006 06:41:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Stu said...
"There is part of me that knows that Seeking is the only truly important mission of my lifetime. And there is another part of me that knows that everything else I do here absolutely DOES matter...The Seeker part tries to fully 'reject' the world, and the other part of me tries to function in the world and embrace it."

I think that part of the explanation is that we are naturally lazy, and the process of bringing the two worlds into contact and fused into our souls, as our true accomplishments seem to be - is difficult, and take deep inner and outer strength effort.

Nothing is more common than the pious preacher of manners, civil behavior, and proper living who has memorized his Bible - and who is then found with his picture in the paper after cussing out a lady, and getting into a fight with her boyfriend in a drunken bar fight. He did the internal work, but not the outer work, and Virtue requires both.

I think that part of the explanation is that we are naturally lazy - and seeking truths in our musings is relatively easy, as compared to putting them into practice, which is hard - but unless you do both, you haven't really achieved the truth you are seeking. Not to get all guru-y on you, we are that which makes it possible to bring the Vertical into contact with the Horizontal, and unless both are brought together through our thought & action - the truths we muse, never make it into reality - they don't truly exist - within us, or without.

As we are judged not by our intentions - the thoughts we profess - but by our actions, it is because it is only through our bringing our thoughts out from the depths & heights within us, and practiced out into the world, that they become our true abilities, habits, and traits with which we are known by.

I don't know about you, but I was the cocky kid in the back of Algebra & Geometry, who was clever enough to see what the Formula's & Theorem's were all about, "got it, makes sense, I don't need to bother with doing 50 exercises for each one to prove it" and so of course when it came time for the test - I was clueless. All those theories that I thought I "Got", weren't put into practice, and so I didn't have them, I hadn't "become them" (wish I could think of a less flaky way of saying that) by merging action with thought into reality, and so back into myself, my soul through the chisel of reality.

That fusing of the inner and outer worlds into deep etchings upon our souls are what we can take with us when we go - and they will be the true marks of who we are and what we have become.

9/21/2006 07:15:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Unfortunately my "Fusing abilities" aren't much better than my ability to quickly scan for typo's & grammar errors.

9/21/2006 07:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Aquila said...

Bob,

Yet another superb posting. Yours is the only blog I read on a daily basis; truly, the spiritual insights of you and your regular posters never fail to get me thinking. I just wish I had the smarts to fully comprehend everything here, or the skills to write with your Joycean flair.

I noticed at the end of today's post, you mentioned neo-Paganism. This is a particularly germane subject for me, as I was involved with the whole Wiccan/earth-spirituality movement for many years, eventually rejecting it for a variety of good metaphysical, philosophical, social, and political reasons.

Bob and Bobbleheads: what's your take on that phenomenon? Me, I tend to see it as yet another example of false verticality, much like any other form of pantheism. Or as I once put it, "When everything is 'sacred', then nothing is truly sacred." The old anti-hierarchical/leveling impulse at work, I guess.

Thoughts?

9/21/2006 07:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Will said...

A que pasa! to JWM, plus a shoutout from Fergus the Orange (on his Catsmart keyboard)

9/21/2006 07:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Connecticut Yankee said...

This is for Aquila, who asked for thoughts about neo-paganism from other posters-- I've never been involved in Wicca or other neo-pagan groups myself, but I have known a few people who have been. I think you are correct about the false verticality, but then too people are attracted to that for many different reasons. Some people simply like to dabble in magic and the occult because these things allow them to feel like members of a spiritual in-group or elite (y'know, like liberal intellectuals) lifted above the common herd of "outsiders." C. S. Lewis referred to this motive as the "Inner Ring" phenomenon.

There are others--mostly but not exclusively women--who may be attracted to Wicca as a way of coping with a history of abuse. There was a Wicca circle a few years back (it has since disbanded) in the theological school where I completed my MDiv. I knew some of the women in the group who were struggling with abuse issues, and I think Wicca for them was a temporary phase-- it allowed them to vent their anger at men until they felt ready to move on. They used to hold their worship services in an auditorium because they felt the school's chapel was hopelessly contaminated by "patriarchal vibes." They once invited the dean (known to be an orthodox Christian) to one of their services. He came--reluctantly--after deciding he had better find out more about Wicca. During the ritual, one of the "witches" danced over to him and asked whether he was ready to be "cleansed of his evil masculinity." He exclaimed, "Over my dead body!" and left. (Will will like this anecdote about the dean-- he grew up in a German Baptist farming family in North Dakota-- his parents figured he was headed for the ministry when they found him at age 8 baptizing the family cats in the rain barrel.)

I don't think neo-paganism is a purely feminist movement, by the way-- there are Viking (Asatru) and skinhead (neo-Nazi) neo-pagan groups for the estrogen-deprived/hyper-testosterone guys.

Then there are the Radical Faeries, for those who are looking for "queer spirituality." From the Washington DC group's statement of purpose: "To agitate and subvert models of gender, sexual identity, religion, and selfhood rooted in oppressive power relations, while simultaneously pointing prophetically towards new and liberatory possibilities on the horizon of human experience. In the language of street demonstrations, when we see the Faeries we can say, 'this is what democracy looks like.'" They also hope "To relentlessly expand the limits of the Fabulous."

Lastly, I wonder whether some people might be attracted to neo-paganism as a PC way to affirm their Celtic or Scandinavian heritage among the multi-culti crowd. There was a recent case in Pennsylvania involving an Episcopal priest who was simultaneously a practicing Druid. He told his bishop that he wanted to "celebrate his Welshness," whatever that might mean. But I suppose "celebrating Welshness" as a practicing Druid means that you're less likely to be called a white racist.

This is a mixed bag of observations about neo-paganism, but then I think NP itself is very much a mixed grab bag of odds and ends from various pre-Christian and folk traditions. It comes across to me as a religious rummage sale, if that metaphor makes sense to you and Bob.

9/21/2006 10:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Will said...

Yank, good cat story.

I'd try baptizing my cats in the bathtub, but right now I can't really afford cosmetic surgery.

Maybe I'll just use a squirt gun and then run for the tall grass.

Agreed on the Wiccan/earth-spirituality thing. Earth-worship was fine - about 3000 years ago. It's totally out of sync with the spiritual age we're living in, so it is, in a literal sense, spiritually regressive. It mimics a transcendent quality, but there really is no transcendence to it. "Gaia" - which I believe does exist - is not a transcendent god(or goddess), but rather is a sort of plastic consciousness of the earth, not self-aware, which can become infected by collective human consciousness. So anyone "praying" to Gaia is rather asking for trouble.

I can understand its appeal to many. There is, as you point out, Yank, a counter-cultural element to it,with particular appeal to feminists of a certain stripe, as well as to eco-devotees. For those who haven't found a transcendent spirituality and who are dismayed by the sterility of modernity, it can offer an exciting, exotic vibrancy, an enlivening sense of sensuality. Because that's what it is primarily, I think - a religion of sensuality. Again, was fine 3000 years ago when the instinctual energies needed to be fired up in preparation for their eventual sublimation, but wholly out of sync now.

As for the Wiccan stuff, same thing, only that can also appeal to those who seek a form of personal power - and as you point out, Yank, might seek it for understandable reasons. Still, those who seek that kind of power via the marshalling of the powers and energies of the earth, and who are not trying to surrender their egos to the One Infinite Spirit, are really asking for trouble.

9/22/2006 12:36:00 AM  
Blogger Gaude said...

Bob is the one and only Gagdad and we're not worthy ;)

but anyone who's not reading Van on a regular basis as well is missing out, big time.

van-
Peter sums it up in the verses about faith and works. And the 'works' here can also be the authentic spiritual struggle that is neverending - dang.

Bob, you have a larger Silent Majority than you think, I imagine. We get it, but we're so awed by the wit and articulateness of the commentors that it is better to keep silent, etc. etc.

9/22/2006 05:37:00 AM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

Van,

"Nope.

Tell you what, go back through all of your previous comments and argue with yourself - there's plenty of opposing views you can take issue with."

I share your opinion that our perspectives are probably too far apart for us to accomplish much continuing the discussion we were having. However, I also believe that I haven't contradicted myself, and that it's unfair of you to make the accusation in the way that you have.

Stu,

"So you do agree that hierarchy exists?"

Yes, I subscribe to the idea, popularized by the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber, that there are hierachies or, as Wilber calls them, holarchies of growth or complexity along many developmental lines of the interior and exterior individual and collective.

"And you do admit that your New Age ideology might be a rung or two down on the cosmic ladder from perspective Bob showcases on his blog"

I don't admit that my "ideology" is what you appear to mean by "new age," because I don't believe that it is. I do admit that it might be less 'evolved' than Bob's, although I don't believe that it is. Or, let me put it this way, I believe that it's less developed intellectually than Bob's, but not necessarily any less "true" than Bob's, although I admit that I could be wrong about even this.

I appreciate your questions and comments.

9/22/2006 05:41:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Gaude said...
"Bob is the one and only Gagdad and we're not worthy ;)

but anyone who's not reading Van on a regular basis as well is missing out, big time."


That warms my Blogger heart, thank you Gaude.

9/22/2006 07:04:00 AM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

JWM,

"Love your enemy?
Hard enough to love your family- hell, sometimes it's hard to love yourself. I am suspicious of people who claim to be able to love their enemies. Jesus could. The Saints, and Bodhisatvas could. Let's just say I'm not there yet."

Yes, it IS hard enough to love most people who aren't our enemies, much less those who are, and I share your suspicion of anyone, including a saint or Bodhisattva, who says s/he can. But, then, I think it's an ideal to be reached for rather than something one is ever likely to completely achieve.

"Besides. We are at war. We we can worry about loving the enemy later. Right now we have to destroy them."

If we are not at war with someone, who will our "enemy" that we can try to love? It seems to me that we are likely to always be "at war" or in conflict with someone. So, if we wait until we have complete peace to start trying to love everyone, we will wait forever, and possibly end up forsaking a key route to having fewer enemies and less conflict.

"I am trying to acquire a working faith."

I wish you the very best in your endeavor.

9/22/2006 07:17:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Gaude--

Good point. In the next day or two I will be placing my various cosmic deputies and ministers in the side bar.

9/22/2006 07:17:00 AM  
Blogger TOR Hershman said...

It’s a Chaosmos or,
to waxmetaphorically mathematical,
0=T=0
(When “T” represents “Totality”).

Stay on Groovin'
(Moi ain't gettin' paid
by-the-word)

Safari,
TOR

9/22/2006 07:22:00 AM  
Blogger TOR Hershman said...

wax metaphorically

You see?
If'in moi was paid-by-the-word they'd save a lot O loot 'cause moi doth runnith them there words together.

Stay on Groovin' (DNA Jungle) Safari,
TOR

9/22/2006 07:25:00 AM  
Blogger TOR Hershman said...

Oh yes, "Always at war," you must listen to moi's lill' song
Hey! Hey! We're The Humans
it agrees 100%.

You kill moi's DNA/Atoms, it/they reform and kill your DNA/Atoms, then they reform, then they reform, then, then, then, then, then, then,
RED GIANT STAR.....tha tha tha tha that's ALL, Earth DNA.

If'in ya wants to see ALL your enimies destroyed.....get a rockin' chair, sit down, just sit, don't die.....they will, all will.

9/22/2006 07:32:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Thank you Jar Jar Binks.

9/22/2006 08:54:00 AM  

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