Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Speaking Truth to Pouters & Doubters

It’s too bad that the main point of the pope’s recent talk has been lost amidst the willful misunderstanding by habitually aggrieved and pouting Muslims and their western mouthpieces in the MSM prick-and-martyr spin machine. This is probably perfectly understandable, because what the pope said was just as insulting to the secular left as it was to Muslims. It’s as if there is a secret affinity between the left and the Islamists--what Eisenhower* famously called the "mullah terror & nasty-old-leftist complex"--as the left riles up the Muslims so as to encourage them to act out their own aggression. The left does this in a thousand little ways, and the terrorists are fully aware of it. We even have their own internal memos revealing how much they rely upon the western media and other useful jihadiots to achieve their aims.

The reaction to the pope reminds me of my own detractors, in that they habitually take one small part of my writing that they think they understand and proceed get all emotional about it, meanwhile ignoring the much larger context that they are probably incapable of understanding. They are like the drunk who looks for his missing keys under the street light, except they are looking for an argument under their dim little metaphyical street light.

In any event, the pope’s main thesis was something that is equally incomprehensible to both the Muslim world and to the secular left, that is, “the close relationship between reason and belief. Without the right balance between the two, the pontiff said, mankind is condemned to the ‘pathologies and life-threatening diseases associated with religion and reason’--in short, political and religious fanaticism.” When the Pope said “political fanaticism,” you can be sure he wasn’t talking about the creeping fascism of Bushitler, but about the actual life-threatening spiritual and cognitive pathologies of the secular left.

In his talk, the pope spoke of the truism that in Christianity, God is inseparable from reason: "In the beginning was the Word." He noted that "God acts with logos. Logos means both reason and word," and that "The inner rapprochement between Biblical faith and Greek philosophical inquiry was an event of decisive importance not only from the standpoint of history of religions, but also from that of world history.... This convergence, with the subsequent addition of the Roman heritage, created Europe."

This fortunate convergence of faith and reason occurred at only one time and in only one place: the Christian west. It did not take place in the Muslim world--or at least where it did begin to take place, it was stillborn (or rather, violently aborted). But in the west--particularly in Europe--the covenant between faith and reason has been relentlessly attacked and almost completely vitiated by various secular and materialistic ideologies, with truly grave and deadly results. In the long run, it is doubtful that Europe can even survive its own cognitive and spiritual pathologies, because they are now steeped in a philosophy and a way of life that was never intended for humans. Their “spiritual environment” cannot sustain a truly human community, if only because it cannot passionately defend itself.

As for the pathology of Islam, the pope quoted another Catholic theologian, who said that "for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent, his will is not bound up with any of our categories." The writer of the WSJ piece linked above asked, “If this is true, can there be dialogue at all between Islam and the West? For the pope, the precondition for any meaningful interfaith discussions is a religion tempered by reason: ‘It is to this great logos, to this breadth of reason, that we invite our partners in the dialogue of cultures.’"

Yesterday a reader expressed bewilderment at our mention of intrinsic heresy. An intrinsic heresy is a religious idea that cannot possibly be true in any objective metaphysics, while an extrinsic heresy is one that only applies to a particular religion. The belief that God is not both radically transcendent and equally immanent is an example of intrinsic heresy.

To cite a fine example of intrinsic heresy, another reader yesterday expressed bewilderment at my pointing out that it is fruitless to affirm the great Upanishadic truth tat tvam asi--thou art that, or atman, the self, is brahman, the ultimate reality--before realizing the extent to which, in our fallen state, thou aren’t much of anything, much less that. This is simply respecting the objective metaphysical truth that, while God may be immanent, he is also radically transcendent. To emphasize only half of this paradoxical equation leads on the one hand to collective pantheism and personal narcissism, on the other hand to the type of spiritual darkness inhabited by the Muslim world, where God is radically transcendent and therefore beyond human understanding.

Orthodox Christian doctrine, like the Vedanta, gets the equation exactly right. Modern people are generally baffled by the intensity of the early Christian debates on the nature of Christ, but the stakes were actually quite high, and if those councils had gotten it wrong, the Christian world may well have gone the way of Islam. Among other things, they determined that in Christ, God was both fully God and fully human (I am not a Christian theologian, so forgive me if I get any details wrong here.) They didn’t say how this paradox could be or how they knew it (it was a divine mystery), but they rejected every possible variation--Nestorianism, Monophysitism, Monothelitism, etc. (look ‘em up yourself). In the end they affirmed that Christ embodied the two natures unconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, and inseparably. And what goes for Christ goes for us, to the extent that we may participate in his life and consciousness. We may become through grace what Christ is by nature.

Now, secularists habitually steal things from religion and then either pretend that they invented them or presume that they can be wrenched from their sacred context without doing grave damage to them. For example, secularists benefit just as much as anyone else from the blessings of Judeo-Christian values, while at the same time doing everything possible to attack or belittle the source of those values. Again, many things we take for granted in the west developed specifically in a Christian context and nowhere else: the infinite worth of the individual, liberty, democracy, science, etc.

This is one of the primary reasons why secular progressives are so ironically named. They can never really be progressive, since their materialistic metaphysic denies meaningful progress at the outset. Scratch a leftist and you will always discern a nostalgic, backward-looking, non-friction metaphysic--the painful recollection of the lost entitlement of infancy and the desire for a romantic merger with the conflict-free eden of childhood--only projected into the future.

As I have mentioned before, in the absence of the supernatural, people will fall back onto more primitive, pre-religious and magical modes of thought, but then imagine that they are progressing beyond religion. But in my view this is impossible, for I believe that religion discloses objective metaphysics. Therefore, anything short of real religion descends into mere mythology: relying upon it to orient yourself in the cosmos, you will move laterally and eventually backwards, as we see in contemporary Europe--a fine example of trying to live off the fumes of Christian values in the absence of the Christianity that gave rise to them. This was definitely one of the main points of the pope’s talk, and one that the left will not understand because they cannot understand--partly because of the intense, mocking superiority they feel toward religion.

The vast majority of our contemporary pagan scholars would undoubtedly agree that intrinsic meaning does not and cannot exist. For a secularist, this is necessarily the case. For example, if history does not refer to something outside itself, it has to be without meaning or purpose, truly the proverbial "tale told by a tenured idiot, full of sound and fury, but signifying a nice paycheck and adoring coeds.” While there can be limited purposes within history, there is no transcendent meaning to any of our endeavors, any more than there can be transcendent meaning to your individual goals and pursuits. It's all ultimately pointless. History is simply history--just a material process, a journey of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing.

But if this were true, mankind would never have found the exit out of its closed circle of material and instinctual existence. In the logoistic understanding of Christianity, history is witness to a literal descent of the logos into the stream of horizontal time, so as to forge a concrete link between the vertical and horizontal--between the One and the many, time and eternity. To say that "God became man" or "Word became flesh" is just another way of saying that the vertical, that is, the ultimate, timeless ground, outside time and anterior to manifestation, poured itself into material form and chronological time--not just in a single human being, but in all of humanity.

Only humans can serve as a bridge between the higher and lower planes that are manifest in the outward flow of history. Indeed, this is our purpose: to nurture and grow the seed of eternity within the womb of time. How do I know this? I don’t. I just water the plant and watch it grow.

*A persistent urban myth has it that Eisenhower warned us of the "military-industrial complex" rather than "mullah terror & nasty-old-leftist complex," when clearly, we require the former to defeat the latter.

86 Comments:

Blogger Nagarjuna said...

In my blog, I questioned the judgment of a Pope who either didn't anticipate that his obscure quote would be used to fuel outrage and violence, or he anticipated it and expressed it anyway. I wondered what he would be hoping to accomplish by challenging Muslims to engage in peaceful dialogue and reflection by quoting words to the effect that the defining essence of Islam is bloodthirsty violence and other evil.

I still wonder about that even as I increasingly believe that the emperor was correct in his assertion and that something needs to be done about it in this age of suicide bombers and WMD's that the world at large is not doing. But what must be done, and who must do it?

Must the Pope, the President, and all of us be willing to call "a spade a spade" and a Muslim terrorist a bloodthirsty fanatic of a faith that fosters this growing pathology and menace to the world with its inherent or, at least, deeply ingrained shortcomings, or is there a more skillful way to encourage Islam to evolve that minimizes the inevitable resistance and violence spured by the more "brusque" approach and guides it into becoming a genuinely peaceful religion or, at least, one we don't have reason to fear the way we do now?

It's so tempting at times to stop all this searching for refined understandings and solutions and take the simple, Gagdad Bob approach of "telling it like it is" the way John Wayne did in all those cowboy movies and President Bush seems to want to do now. But the real world is not a movie, and when people are beaten, bombed, tortured, decapitated, or shot in the real world, they don't get up after the end of the take and move merrily on to the next scene.

What are we to do?

9/19/2006 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"To cite a fine example of intrinsic heresy, another reader yesterday expressed bewilderment at my affirmation that it is fruitless to affirm the great Upanishadic truth tat tvam asi--thou art that, or atman, the self, is brahman, the ultimate reality--before realizing the extent to which thou definitely aren’t that."

To put it more accurately, the reader in question asked if the poster might clarify his point so that he could understand and evaluate it better. More specifically, he asked the following two questions: "If "Thou art That," how is Thou NOT that?

If "Thou art That," how is it necessarily "arrogant" and "false" to believe it?

The poster never answered. If he had, perhaps the reader in question (and even some of the poster's other readers) would be less "bewildered."

9/19/2006 09:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Sorry. We meant to say that the reader in question "is the expression of bewilderment."

9/19/2006 10:03:00 AM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

Thank you for clarifying that, "Petey". :-)

9/19/2006 10:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Joan of Argghh said...

An actual conversation I had with a liberal school teacher went along the expected lines of argument-- questing for reasonable understanding, ad hominem attacks and general "feelings" on his part and facts from me.

He was finally frustrated, unable to counter facts with any reasonable argument, so he accused me of being some sort of activist and why couldn't I just see where we agreed?

So, I told him I wasn't going to let him go home ever again. He was stunned, not understanding the change-up. I repeated that I was going to deny him the simple joy of ever setting foot into his own home ever again. I would oppose him, block him, bring every resource to bear to physically wall him off, if necessary, and never lay a hand on him... but would leave the decision to resort to some sort of physical confrontation to him.

Unable to see any sort of lesson in it, he began to whine, "why would you do such a thing?" It was his stopping point, he couldn't move beyond his complete need to understand my reason.

I told him, "too bad, I don't have a reason". He could not get his mind around it, or move forward in the role-play I had instigated. He could only whine and call me a monster, and evil.

And that, kids, is why you should never trust your family's security to someone who holds some sort of lofty feel-good idea of "peace and love".

You may never see home again.

9/19/2006 10:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Will said...

Nags, I suspect you are personally a nice guy, a well-meaning good neighbor-type, but you are flat-out unbelievably dense. And yours is the denseness that is deadly, that makes a dangerous situation infinitely worse, and that ultimately results in giving evil a new lease on life.

If you want to know how the pope should act re: Islamic fascists and the evil they represent, then reflect on his predecessor. Pope JP2 did not call for a negotiated peaceful coexistence with the Soviet Union, he addressed it for what it was, an unmitigated evil, a bloodsucking leach on the cosmos. The secular left howled in protest: how dare he rattle the Soviet cage!! And the Soviets tried to kill him via a Turkish assassin. But JP2's confrontational approach worked, didn't it, Nags? The USSR is no more, because ultimately nothing less than a truth-telling confrontational approach will do with respect to dealing with evil.

Would you have counseled JP2 (and Reagan and Thatcher and Walesa) to throttle back on his anti-Soviet stance? Yup, I am thinking, you would have; and had you had your way, the Soviet blasphemy would have continued, with God knows what terrible consequences.

Nags, as it is without, so it is within: concerning your own personal spiritual failings, your own capacity for evil - and we all have such a capacity, I'm not singling you out - are you willing to let it fester away while you temporize, fearing that you will "rile it up" if you address it head-on? If this is the case, trust me, you will self-immolate.

9/19/2006 10:36:00 AM  
Anonymous stu said...

Nagarjuna,

>>If "Thou art That," how is it necessarily "arrogant" and "false" to believe it?<<

It is false to believe that "Thou art That" because you don't really believe it. You can't really believe it. At least not authentically. Not yet.

And it is arrogant to believe that "Thou art That" because only a few of history's most remarkable men have authentically perceived the Truth behind this statement. And it's not very likely that you're one of them. Not yet.

I know it can be painful to put things into perspective, but YOU ARE NOT GOD. Everything you have read about the unity of all creation and how everything is God and how we are all part of the divine whole...... well, it's true, but it is a Truth that cannot be authentically realized or appreciated from any perspective you're approaching it from.

At best, you are an ultra-diluted reflection of God that cannot comprehend how far from the Source you actually are. And until "you realize the extent to which 'thou aren't that,'" you cannot authentically realize the Truth.

And that's why all the talk about unconditional love is such nonesense. We exist in the Relative and it is arrogant and false to interact with the Relative by pretending to know the Absolute.

We're taking baby towards towards the Truth, or as as Richard Rose liked to call it, "retreating from untruth." Love and unity will emanate from the Truth in due time. Learn, plant seeds, and watch the Absolute in you grow, but son't force it. It's the most natural of processes.

9/19/2006 10:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Gagdad & Petey said...

Joan--

So, when do you start your own blog?

We hereby appoint you Metaphysically Correct anti-Wiccan Deputess in the Loyal Order of Cosmic Raccoons (Will is first Deputy; Van, although he doesn't know it, is second deputy, covering for Will when he is out of body).

9/19/2006 10:43:00 AM  
Anonymous joseph said...

I was recently listening to a remarkable interview with Frederick Turner (are you familiar with him Bob?) in the context of his new book "Natural Religion". Turner's thesis is that the major religions are all true. He also correctly identifies the 20th scourges of Communism and Nazism, as well as the cancer that has grown and may well take over Islam, meaning the Wahabi heresy. He opines that this would have to have been dealt with sooner or later. I agree with his conclusions on all fronts. Schuon says somewhere that it is necessary to realize errors and correct them prior to coming up with a solution. Certainly Islam has embraced gross errors. The West and Christianity has their own as well. I mention just two: the CIA/British Intelligence overthrow of the Iranian Prime Minister in 1953. This man was very interested in modernizing and westernizing Iran. Our (I don't mean the American people, of course--they knew nothing about it) complete short-sightedness, and lust for foreign oil (this all began because he proposed nationizing Iran's oil supply--meaning the Brits would have to start paying for it), stopped us from being able to see a larger picture, namesly that a bonafide democracy was about to take root in the Middle East. Much of the fruit of our current crisis can be found lying under that tree. Much further back, the case of southern Spain. Islam had taken root there, and it was a particularly peaceful and beautiful form of it, producing incredible art and architecture and great mystics like Ibn Arabi. It was also a great center of learning where Jews and Christians and Muslims worked and lived and studied more or less peacefully side by side. That particular brand of Christianity that conquered southern Spain was a cancer, the one that brought the inquisition and ultimately the Fascism of Franco. More importantly, Islam, in that region, and not speaking of other regions where it was much more violent, was not able to flower. Had the west been able to see Turner's wisdom and Schuon's for that matter, many problems possibly would have not come to pass. Perhaps some of this is why the Church is opposed to the war in Iraq. It simply won't work, unless the ultimate goal is to rid the world, somehow, of Islam. To achieve this would require the aid of millions upon millions of soldiers. The US wisely never directly went to war with the Soviet menace and let the world see it for what it was, to the point where one only sees communists teaching at US universities, give or take a few. Could we not, very clearly, warn the world of the Wahabi menace, protect ourselves from it by denying entry into this country of any Muslim who embraced it, send those back home that are here who embrace it, and send our special forces in to selectively root it out abroad? Just some thoughts.

9/19/2006 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Stu--

You're in the running for second assistant deputy.

As an aside, I am sometimes surprised at how clearly some people get what I am talking about. Explaining those who don't get it is easy.

9/19/2006 10:47:00 AM  
Anonymous stu said...

Bob,

I was shooting for ombudsman, but I guess I can settle.

9/19/2006 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Stu--

You mean OMMMMMMM buds man? Just don't scrimp on the buds....

9/19/2006 10:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Will said...

>> . . . the covenant between faith and reason<<

Here, I think that "reason" is synonymous with the development of true individuality, which is synonymous with the development of the human soul - this as opposed to a pagan herd-instinct in which there is no individuality and no true human soul.

I think that, in certain ways, the advent of the city was a very necessary step toward soul/individuality formation. Cities get a bad rap - they're "anti-nature", etc. But that was the idea. People had to be separated from the overwhelming song of nature so as to develop an individuality. In any case, all cities, as grotesque as they may be in material actuality, have as a nature-transcending archetypes, St. Augustine's "City of God".

9/19/2006 10:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Will said...

And Stu, you get to carry a concealed phaser.

9/19/2006 11:00:00 AM  
Anonymous stu said...

Will,

I already do.

9/19/2006 11:01:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

Stu -

A model X-34M Omnivore with a de-particulating setting? The old X-34M's always seem to deposit the "subject" halfway between the astral and Cleveland.

9/19/2006 11:19:00 AM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"Would you have counseled JP2 (and Reagan and Thatcher and Walesa) to throttle back on his anti-Soviet stance? Yup, I am thinking, you would have; and had you had your way, the Soviet blasphemy would have continued, with God knows what terrible consequences."

I would not have, Will. You don't know me as well as you may think you do. I don't dismiss speaking the truth about Islam and taking action to prevent its most fanatical followers from causing more death and destruction. In fact, I favor it. I'm just trying to understand the best way to do it, to find the skillful means to do it well. And THAT, my friend, may require a subtler approach than John Wayne "diplomacy" or even quoting obscure emperors who say, ostensibly in order to encourage inter-religious tolerance, dialogue, and peace that what defines Islam is bloodthirsty violence and evil.

You may consider someone to be "unbelievably dense" for asking such questions and making such observations, and he may well have the same impression of anyone who doesn't.

9/19/2006 11:22:00 AM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

Thank you, Stu, for your extremely eloquent and thoughtful response. It provides me with much to ponder.

9/19/2006 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger Eeevil Right Wing Nut said...

nagarjuna-

The more nuanced, soul searching approach you seem to favor has been tried for nearly 30 years and all those years of pondering why the violent hate us and trying to placate the lunatics has got us is more violence and more lunatics.

The first thing we must do is stop kidding ourselves and making excuses for islamo-facisism. You cannot reason with people who do not want to be reasonable. This is not a situation we can mouth meaningless sweet-talk our way out of. If you can't "tell it like it is" (in other words the TRUTH) then what is the point of talking at all? If you can't truthfully give your point of view, then how can you possibly hope to come to any sort of solution?

Frankly, I think that after 30 years any more talking is pointless. They want us dead, they don't respect anything about us and they aren't afraid to die themselves to take as many of us out as possible. Perhaps it is time for you to consider that if the emperor was correct in his judgement of the nature of Muslims, that his solution was correct too. http://www.americanthinker.com/comments.php?comments_id=6154

9/19/2006 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Gagdad said...
"Van, although he doesn't know it, is second deputy"

Ooh! Does that mean I get to wear Will's fright wig, moose antlers, and sped-up calliope music playing boom box?

(I'd ask for the clown suit & big floppy shoes to but I thought it might be a bit presumptious)

(Back off Stu, that fright wig has my name all over it!)

9/19/2006 11:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Joan of Argghh! said...

"We hereby appoint you Metaphysically Correct anti-Wiccan Deputess in the Loyal Order of Cosmic Raccoons"

Oh my! Is my badge on straight?

Do we have a secret handshake yet?

Can I wear a fez? (Actually, I look stunning in a simple Spanish bolero hat with a demi-veil. Too much?)

See, that's the problem with letting girls into the "club".

;)

9/19/2006 11:51:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

Nag -

You really have distorted the meaning of pope B's speech just as thoroughly as have the Islamo-fascists.

Again, I give you credit for being a nice guy, but as novelist Walker Percy once observed, "(misguided) compassion leads to the gas jets."

9/19/2006 11:56:00 AM  
Anonymous stu said...

Nagarjuna,

"Thank you, Stu, for your extremely eloquent and thoughtful response. It provides me with much to ponder."

Let's be sure to give credit where it is do. Thanks, Bob, for all the countless hours of blogging. And thanks for helping me clarify and understand my beliefs.

Bob, sometimes I think you might feel like this blog is becoming an excersize in futility. Well it's not.

I was a leftist not so long ago and a feel-good moderate as recently as a few months ago. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction and pushing me to take the next step.

9/19/2006 12:09:00 PM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

Stu, a quick response, and then I must be on my way for the rest of the day.

"It is false to believe that "Thou art That" because you don't really believe it."

When I first read this, it seemed to make sense. But when I read it again, it didn't. If I said I believed something that I really didn't, that wouldn't make what I falsely said I believed false; it would just make my statement that I believed it false. If what I said I believed were true, it would still be true even if I didn't actually believe it.

As for my allegedly being unable to believe what I assert, oh, but I DO believe it. I think you're confusing "believing" with "knowing." I agree that I don't "authenitcally" know it the way, say, Ramana Maharshi did. But I DO believe it, and sometimes I even feel it in a way that seems to go beyond mere belief. I grant that this doesn't necessarily make it either true or false, but I DO believe it's true, and so, it would seem, do you.

"And it is arrogant to believe that "Thou art That" because only a few of history's most remarkable men have authentically perceived the Truth behind this statement. And it's not very likely that you're one of them. Not yet."

This also seemed to make more sense at first than it does now. Why is it necessarily any more "arrogant" to believe "Tat tvam asi" without" "authentically" verifying it through spiritual experience than it is to believe that E=MC2 without verifying it through doing the math that only a comparitively small percentage of humankind is qualified to do?

"I know it can be painful to put things into perspective, but YOU ARE NOT GOD. Everything you have read about the unity of all creation and how everything is God and how we are all part of the divine whole...... well, it's true, but it is a Truth that cannot be authentically realized or appreciated from any perspective you're approaching it from."

If you say it's true and it is true, and you do, why can't and shouldn't I or anyone else? And if it is true and I draw true inferences from it (e.g., If we are all one in our Thatness, we are all worthy of unconditional agape love and not deserving of hatred), what's wrong with that? And if my inference is false, how is it false? It's not false simply because I haven't "authenticated" the truth from which I drew it. Furthermore, I don't claim that what is conventionally understood as "I" is God. I DO claim that what is conventionally understood as "I" is not really who and what I am, and that the real, true, and ultimate "I" that I am (and you are and everyone else is) IS Alan Watts' "which than which there is no whicher" that you may wish to call God.

"At best, you are an ultra-diluted reflection of God that cannot comprehend how far from the Source you actually are. And until "you realize the extent to which 'thou aren't that,'" you cannot authentically realize the Truth."

Isn't it more accurate to say that our conventional sense of who and what we are is an "ultra-diluted" reflection of our true identity, and that until we realize the extent to which that conventional sense or reflection of our true identity is not our true identity, we "cannot authentically realize the Truth."

"And that's why all the talk about unconditional love is such nonesense. We exist in the Relative and it is arrogant and false to interact with the Relative by pretending to know the Absolute."

Could you elaborate? What do YOU mean by "the Relative" and "the Absolute," and when you say that "we" exist in the former but not in the latter? And why oh why is it any more "arrogant" to say that we should love everyone than it is to say that we should hate anyone? Was Jesus being arrogant when he said "Love your enemies."? And if we should love even our enemies, is it such a stretch to believe that it would be ideal for us to love everyone?

"Love and unity will emanate from the Truth in due time. Learn, plant seeds, and watch the Absolute in you grow, but son't force it. It's the most natural of processes."

Good advice, although one might legitimately ask whether it is the Absolute that grows in us or just our apperception of an Absolute that cannot grow beyond the infinity that it has always been. But does that mean that when others preach contempt and hatred not just for ideologies but also for those who hold them, and you sing their praises for doing it, I am wrong to preach love?

9/19/2006 12:30:00 PM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9/19/2006 12:34:00 PM  
Anonymous stu said...

Nagarjuna,

Wow. I mean, really. Wow. Somehow you've managed to distort and twist everything I've said. Orwellian doublespeak at its worst. I'll try to respond, but we seem to just disagree at a very fundamental level.

9/19/2006 12:40:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Stu--

I forgot to tell you, one of the responsibilities of assistant deputy is what we call "milking the bull." You make full deputy when you realize its futility.

9/19/2006 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

Stu, we may disagree, but not necessarily because I've "distorted" and "twisted" everything you said with Orwellian doublespeak. :-)

Gagdad may well counsel you not to waste your time on me. All I can say is that I'd be happy to read and consider what you have to say, because if I don't understand what you're saying, I'd like to.

I have to go now.

Thank you, Stu, for bearing with me as far as you have, and, in advance, for bearing with me a little longer if that is what you decide to do.

9/19/2006 12:48:00 PM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"You really have distorted the meaning of pope B's speech just as thoroughly as have the Islamo-fascists."

How so, Will? What was the Pope attempting to say in his speech, and how did that quote help him to say it?

9/19/2006 12:50:00 PM  
Anonymous stu said...

Nagarjuna,

The problem you are having can be summed up as follows:

You are failing to recognize the distinction between:

1) Authentic belief which emerges only from direct experience or direct knowledge of Truth.

and

2) Bad faith pseudo-belief that is the result of you're psychological mechanisms and desires.

And Bob:

I still find it exciting to quietly creep up behind the Bull and reach for that magic wand. But I imagine it loses its appeal after you get kicked in the head a few times.

9/19/2006 12:59:00 PM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

Stu, I said I had to go, but not until I briefly address your comments by asking how they answer the objections I posed to what you posted previously.

I may not be a mystic, but does that make my mystical statements false? And if they aren't false or you're not qualified to know if they are, why is it necessarily wrong for me to state them, and how are you qualified to say that I am?

Furthermore, how do you presume to know that my beliefs, some of which you even seemed to have expressed agreement with, are "bad faith pseudo-belief" that result solely from my "psychological mechanisms and desires"? Sounds like a full-blown example of the "genetic fallacy" to me, at the very least. Also, how do you define "belief," "authentic belief," and "pseudo-belief"? It sounds to me like you're using "authentic belief" to mean "certain knowledge." If so, why must one be certain of something before he can say without misguided arrogance that he believes it and draw inferences from it?

9/19/2006 01:32:00 PM  
Anonymous stu said...

"Milking Nagarjuna"

1a: You think it is possible to hold a belief without directly experiencing the fundamental Truth behind the belief.

1b: I think all authentic belief must necessarily arise from Truth which is only knowable through direct experience, be it physical or psycho-spiritual.

2a: You see true and false as concepts open to interpretation, as states of being that you can possess or acheive.

2b: I see true and false as universal absolutes and I see these absolutes reflected in varying degrees throughout the world.

3a: You view ideas like "E=MC2" or "Thou art That" as Absolute Truths to which you have access.

3b: I view such ideas as Relative Truths or maps that point toward greater truths which I may or may not be able to personally experience.

4a: You think you know the Absolute so you deny the Relative and try to interpret the world through this false prism.

4b: I embrace the Relative part of my identity and try to understand the Absolute through the Relative.

5a: You believe all people are deserving of transcendant, unconditional love while they are incarnate in the slaughterhouse.

5b: I believe people should be treated in accordance with their actions. There's plenty of time for the transcendant love stuff when I'm ascended or dead.

6a: You think that you are in touch with the part of you that is divine.

6b: I have a cursory realization of how difficult it is to peel back the countless layers that obscure the divine spark, and I don't pretend to understand God or his Revelation.

7a: You believe our fundamental identity is our unity with God and that all the other aspects of humanity are illusory or unimportant.

7b: I beleive that our fundamental divine identity is not directly knowable and that only through our flawed humanity can we can we symbolically interpret our true identity.

8a: You think we should love our enemies and that by "preaching love" we can somehow bring about a utopian heaven on Earth.

8b: I think we should live in the real world and rely on reason and truth to determine our actions.

9a: You see the Absolute as all that exists and you deny the Relative. You see goodness in everything and deny the reality that stares you in the face.

9b: I see evil and imperfection in the world. I see fallen men living in a slaughterhouse. And as I struggle to emerge from this looney bin, I'll be damn sure to keep myself and my loved ones safe from dangerous men and dangerous ideologies.

10a: You want to debate the Truth and argue about your beliefs.

10b: I know that I have found a small piece of the Truth and want to point you in the right direction.

9/19/2006 01:58:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

Nag -

Obviously, the pope was directing a question at those of the Muslim faith as to whether violent jihad best served that faith. As he underscored reason as a beneficially stabilizing factor in Christianity, it was and is a perfectly reasonable question to ask, considering the un-reasonableness of violence committed in the name of Islam.

Again, the pope posed a question, didn't make a blanket statement - but he didn't dodge the Elephant in the Room as so many seem eager to do.

9/19/2006 02:09:00 PM  
Anonymous feeblemind said...

Another excellent post, Bob. You go from strength to strength. And not so long ago you suggested you had no more to say.

9/19/2006 02:30:00 PM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

Stu,

One point at a time.

"1a: You think it is possible to hold a belief without directly experiencing the fundamental Truth behind the belief.

Of course I do. Look up the word "belief" in a dictionary. It isn't defined as "certain knowledge proven by direct experience of the fundamental Truth behind it." Belief is much simpler and less restrictive than that. It's essentially accepting a proposition as true. And we all no doubt believe plenty of things that we have not "experienced," and a goodly number of those things are probably true to boot. E=MC2 is one of my beliefs, even though I haven't confirmed it for myself by doing the math. Again, you seem to be confusing "belief" with "certain knowledge." In classical philosophical understanding, certain knowledge is "justified true belief." But one can believe with or without adequate justification, and it can be true belief in either case. I believe "Tat tvam asi" no matter how many times you try to tell me I don't.

9/19/2006 03:39:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9/19/2006 04:21:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"…they habitually take one small part of my writing that they think they understand and proceed get all emotional about it"
Isolated particulars separated from principle and examined out of context through their own necessarily emotional viewpoint, is their motto and way of life.

Their method is to direct your attention solely into one particular, to the exclusion of other related facts so that not only can't you see the forest for the trees, you can't see the tree for the bark, and preferably you'll be too preoccupied with picking the bark from your teeth, and examining the taste of it to bother with wondering how the tree it came from fits in with the idea of forests or even of other trees in general.

I'm starting to think that this isn't a conscious tactic (except for perhaps the few guiding dark lights of the leftists), but more of the inevitable pattern of thought that is spun out from the philosophical Kant/Hegel/Marx template. Poison cookies stamped out from leftist cookie cutters, irresistibly tasty to their psychic sweet-tooth, no matter the painful cavities; just eat more and more and more.

Sounds like the cue for my one note sonata, Kant's: "I have found it necessary to deny knowledge, in order to make room for faith." What else can we expect from the first philosophy in history dedicated not to discovering truth, but to avoiding it?

Why do the leftists fawn so much over the Islamo’s? While the Greek philosophical inquiry merged with the Judeo Christian religion to give us the heritage of Greco-Roman-European civilization with its respect for Law, individual rights and freedom of religion; can you think of a more appropriate result through the pairing of Kant/Hegel/Marx with Mohammed, than a group who says “You can’t say we’re violent! We’ll burn you for that! Take it back or we’ll Kill your Pope!” and the leftists who defend them?

You get what you play for.

9/19/2006 04:26:00 PM  
Anonymous stu said...

I'm going to keep trying Nag. And I'm going to try to simplify as much as I can.

There is a difference between a belief that is grounded in fundamental Truth and pseudo-belief which is based in false ideology or in a psychological desire to hold a certain belief.

Humans have a unique capacity to recognize truth and to form beliefs based on Truth. They also have the capacity to hold false bad faith beliefs and to delude themselves in endless ways.

For example:

"All Muslims are bad" = false.

"There are thousands of fundamentalist Musilms who want to do evil things to people who won't conform to their value system" = True

"Islam is an evil religion beyond redemption" = False

"Unreformed Islamic ideology supports the subjugation of woman, freedom and Enlightenment values" = True

"America is a totalitarian facist regime" = False

"America is the greatest experiment in human freedom and dignity the world has ever known, despite our occasional failings" = True

"Tat Tvam Asi" = False

"God exists and I am trying to discover my relationship to Him" = True

How do I know the truth value of these statements? In fact, how can I even claim to know or believe the truth value of these statements?

Because I directly experience the fundamental phenomena of our world that makes these statements true or false. As I human, I am capable of recognizing degrees of Truth in the physical and psycho-spiritual events of our world. And I try to form authentic beliefs based on the Truths that I uncover, not on what I want to be true, or on what other people say is true.

Nagarjuna, maybe you're a realized master and you can authentically believe "Thou art That" when you say it. But the fact that we are engaging in this conversation seems to suggest otherwise.

The spiritual journey is longer than you or I can imagine, and just because you can repeat something you've read by a Master, doesn't mean you are capable of authentically believing the Truth it points to.

9/19/2006 04:26:00 PM  
Blogger Bro. Bartleby said...

Perhaps the Pope's speech was "setting up the experiment" and when the speech was complete, he muttered, "Now, let the experiment begin." And of course the following morning, the proof of the experiment was headlined the world over.

9/19/2006 04:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting analysis of the Pope's remarks: www.stratfor.com/products/premium/weekly.php

If it gets truncated, join the following 2 lines:
www.stratfor.com/products/
premium/weekly.php

9/19/2006 06:07:00 PM  
Blogger John Richardson said...

Bob, you have the nature of Christ correct. Here is part of the Nicene Creed - an example of Jewish faith meeting Greek reason:

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.

9/19/2006 06:45:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Let's ask the Buddhist peace loving Thais how it works when you are non-aggresive towards a Muslim minority. The latest military coup in Thailand has just named a Muslim to be the new Prime Minister. The old hardliner and conservative Prime Minister could never bring peace to the southern region where 1700 innocents were killed since 2004. There definitely is no compulsion of religion by violence going in the Muslim world. I don't know what that Pope guy was talking about. Move along, nothing to see here.....

Of course there will be peace, just submit or die!

9/19/2006 07:37:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Well... I had this really neat extended comment, then I saw that Stu took the text right out of my fingertips with his 1-10a,b and true-false comments (I still want Will's fright wig when he's out of body...), but I can't resist taking a dip anyway.

Nagarjuna said...
"But when I read it again, it didn't. If I said I believed something that I really didn't, that wouldn't make what I falsely said I believed false; it would just make my statement that I believed it false. If what I said I believed were true, it would still be true even if I didn't actually believe it."

Nag tell me truthfully, you been taking a correspondence course from Donald Rumsfeld?

Wow.

"I agree that I don't "authenitcally" know it the way, say, Ramana Maharshi did. But I DO believe it"

Believing what you don't know is pretty much the definition of false belief... and it's a good bet it'll eventually destroy what you're trying to believe in.

And about the whole "Love the world, be love, thou art that" issue... this is probably a waste of time to argue - not so much that it's with you (though that plays into it), but that the issue itself is outside the realm of argument... but being human, I can't resist either.

Here's a cosmic analogy for you, picture yourself looking into a mirror. There's a definite difference between realizing that You are looking at your reflection in the mirror, and saying that in the reflection you can feel You, or saying that by touching the reflection that you can feel the warmth in the reflection. Through the image of the mirror, you can see yourself and conjecture about your true self, but claiming to know You directly through the reflection of the mirror misrepresents both You AND the reflection... it's... fake.

9/19/2006 07:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if leftists and radical islamists will go the way of Neanderthals? Leftists will be destroyed by the radical islamists, who in turn will be crushed by US military might.

I used to wonder about how to speak to the leftists so that they can see the error of their ways, but I wonder if extinction is the inevitable consequence, if not irrelevance.

B.

9/19/2006 07:38:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

Van, I usually take the fright wig with me when out of body - Einstein seems to get a rise out seeing me wear it - how about a nice fake-arrow-through-the-head set?

9/19/2006 07:57:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Joseph said..."the CIA/British Intelligence overthrow of the Iranian Prime Minister in 1953. This man was very interested in modernizing and westernizing Iran. Our (I don't mean the American people, of course--they knew nothing about it) complete short-sightedness, and lust for foreign oil (this all began because he proposed nationizing Iran's oil supply--meaning the Brits would have to start paying for it)"

Excuse me, but the Brits and the western companies that searched for, discovered and drilled the oil wells using their knowledge and wealth, were the rightful owners of that oil, and our later yielding to their desire to nationalize the oil wells to one Thugocracy after another, was the first visible sign of Western power & principle weakening, which the sharp eyed but still enfeebled Wahabists' saw as their way to climb to power by using the West's own power against it.

"Much further back, the case of southern Spain. Islam had taken root there, and it was a particularly peaceful and beautiful form of it"

Taken Root there? A particularly peaceful and beautiful form of it? Hey! In 711 a.d. Muslim forces INVADED, and over the course of seven years CONQUERED the Iberian peninsula. They didn't do it peacefully or beautifully - they butchered and enslaved the inhabitants. Yes some nice things eventually followed from it - I hear that John Gotti & Al Capone had some nice houses too, but that doesn't make them admirable or men of peace.

Interestingly, the Muslims did have their "Thomas Aquinas/Renaissance" moment though, through two greats al-Farabi (Alfarabi) and Ibn Sina (Avicenna), who we in the west owe bigtime for reintroducing Aristotle and Reason to the West... but proving the power of the individual to improve or destroy, they were later countered by al Ghazali, who decisively, brutally and permanently shut the door to Reason in Islam, and it never made a comeback there from his day to ours.

"Jews and Christians and Muslims worked and lived and studied more or less peacefully" a lack of violence is not the same as Peace - look into "dhimmi" - living as a slave, excuse me, as a 'protected', with or without a master is not living.

9/19/2006 08:43:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Will,
"how about a nice fake-arrow-through-the-head set?"
Done! They'll go great with my "Happy Feet" dance.

9/19/2006 08:45:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Have you also been practicing your fall for each entrance, Will?

9/19/2006 09:10:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Stu said to Nagarjuna..."The spiritual journey is longer than you or I can imagine, and just because you can repeat something you've read by a Master, doesn't mean you are capable of authentically believing the Truth it points to. "

That reminded me of a story I'd heard years ago, of a Zen monk... in Japan? It's been a couple decades... but the upshot was that a young monk seemed to have achieved Satori, and an elder enlightened monk approached him about how he knew this, the young monk didn't answer, but only flexed the tippy tip of his index finger, and the elder realized that he had in fact achieved it, and they went there enlightened ways.

Some years later, a young monk wishing to achieve Satori, let it be known that he had achieved it, and when approached by the now grown enlightened monk to see the nature of his claim, the young monk mimicked what he'd heard the elder had done when he flexed his finger tip for his master.

As he did this, quick as lightening, the elder monk whiped out his short sword and sliced off the youth's finger tip, and as the blood spurted out said "Now try that again" - and in that moment the younger monk DID achieve Satori.

Nagarjuna, hopefully you'll be fortunate enough to find (listen to) a more subtle teacher to set you straight. ;-)

9/19/2006 09:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Nagarjuna's Friend Grant said...

I don't think Nagarjuna needs to be set straight in his discussion with Van and Stu; I think he still has the upper hand in defending his assertion that universal love is the correct attitude for a God-loving person to take.
Stu and Van argue convincingly that a separation between people and God exists (Stu uses an analogy of a many layered onion, each layer a barrier between man and God) and Van uses the analogy of an image in the mirror, with God being as unknowable and flat as that image in a mirror that cannot be truly touched. The thinking that they have expressed is: You may have a relationship with God, but you are not God, and cannot ever be like God. And, if you make yourself out to be as God, you are deluding yourself and are not truthful.
Yes, I think this does happen quite often, but: by and large, most people can be with, in, surrounded by, and generally saturated in God's presence, and take on many of His characteristics such as universal love, unshakeable peace, and unerring discernment and sincerity. People can and do live this way, and they operate in the real world with great efficiency in executing the will of God.
But, if you personally cannot feel God within yourself then it is your responsibility to do what it takes to rectify that situation--you have to work for it,in other words, whether that work is prayer, meditation, or simply a constant calling out for the grace of God to come to you. He will come if you ask sincerely. You must persistently call and patiently listen hard for the answer in your mind, your heart, and even your body. He answers in subtle ways, but you will know when He comes if you are paying attention. Trust! Vigilance! Sincerity! Persistence! You must want Him more than anything else in the world, and you will be amply compensated for your trouble.

If you are not working as hard as you can to merge with God, then yes, universal love will seem like a pipe dream that must be reluctantly discounted. This is not God's fault--that's on us. He meets us gladly halfway.

I'd like to see personal testimony on this blog about people's experience witih finding and joining and living in God's grace; the mystical arm of our fatih should not be left out of our discussions. This I say in support of Nagarjuna.

9/19/2006 10:18:00 PM  
Blogger Tin Foil Hat Guy said...

Bob,

Brilliant post. Question... or maybe more of a comment, Does the "secular progressive" manifest the "Vertical" in feelings?

9/19/2006 10:33:00 PM  
Blogger geoffb5 said...

Van said,
"Why do the leftists fawn so much over the Islamo’s? While the Greek philosophical inquiry merged with the Judeo Christian religion to give us the heritage of Greco-Roman-European civilization with its respect for Law, individual rights and freedom of religion; can you think of a more appropriate result through the pairing of Kant/Hegel/Marx with Mohammed, than a group who says “You can’t say we’re violent! We’ll burn you for that! Take it back or we’ll Kill your Pope!” and the leftists who defend them?"

Anonymous said,
"I wonder if leftists and radical islamists will go the way of Neanderthals? Leftists will be destroyed by the radical islamists, who in turn will be crushed by US military might.

I believe that both the left and the radical islamists are de facto united by their hatreds. Both also think they are the crocodile and the other is the one feeding the crocodile hoping to be eaten last. Europe will be the place that shows if either are correct in their beliefs. The Pope had just thrown down the gauntlet to both, he sees that they are both predators and must either learn to stop themselves or be stopped.

9/19/2006 10:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Mark L. said...

Grant & Nag. You’ve inspired a poem. It’s so late I doubt anyone will read it, much less respond to it. Here ‘tis anywho...

Puffed-up Sugar-coated Egos
believe themselves to be
crisp and crunchy.
But after soaking up
the milk of their own
self-absorbtion all these
Puffed-up Sugar-coated Egos
prove to be mighty squishy
to the Teeth of Truth and really
aren’t crisp or crunchy at all.
Nope. Not at all.

Hmmm. Needs work. But, hey, doesn't everything?

9/19/2006 10:48:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

Lisa, those falls aren't exactly "practice".

9/19/2006 11:11:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

tinfoil hat guy--

No, I would say--as Will has touced on in the past--that the secular progressive movement manifests the vertical as a sort of "aping of God," in the sense that their ideas are naively beautiful but profoundly misguided in any real world.

And progressives are often motivated by feelings, but feelings alone are not vertical per se. One of the points of the spiritual life, at least in my school of thought, is to refine and "subtilize" one's feelings.

9/20/2006 04:50:00 AM  
Anonymous joseph said...

I agree Van, that the Brits were rightful owners of the oil. Nonetheless, one always takes a risk when working on someone else's land. This does not authorize secret overthrows of elected governments and then installing dictators who will be your puppets. The Founders were very clear on foreign entanglements, which is a conservative principle that we have long since abandoned, much to our detriment. In other words, I am not a believer in global imperialism, and I don't believe the founders were either. The British were.

As for the case of Southern Spain, "by their fruits you shall know them". Simply compare the Great Mosque in Cordoba to the rest of the Catholic architecture there. Spanish Catholicism was a cancer for a very long time.

9/20/2006 07:25:00 AM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

Stu,

"There is a difference between a belief that is grounded in fundamental Truth and pseudo-belief which is based in false ideology or in a psychological desire to hold a certain belief."

A true belief is true no matter where it comes from. If I believe there's life on Mars and there actually is, my belief is true even if it stems not from any direct experience of that life but only from some deep-seated psychological need to believe it. In other words, it's true if it corresponds to fact, whether or not I know at the time I hold it that it does so. Indeed, if I know it does, it's no longer belief; it's knowledge.

"Humans have a unique capacity to recognize truth and to form beliefs based on Truth. They also have the capacity to hold false bad faith beliefs and to delude themselves in endless ways."

Of course.

""Tat Tvam Asi" = False"

Why is it false? If I understand you correctly, you maintain that it's false if I say it because I'm not a spiritual master who has experienced it directly, but if I were such a master and said it, it would be true. I'm sorry, but I roundly disagree. I may not have the same basis for saying "Tat tvam asi" that the Upanashadic author did, but if it's true when he said it because it corresponds to an actual fact of our nature, it is also true when I say it, just as it's no less true when I say E=MC2 as it is when Einstein said it.

"How do I know the truth value of these statements? In fact, how can I even claim to know or believe the truth value of these statements?...Because I directly experience the fundamental phenomena of our world that makes these statements true or false. As I human, I am capable of recognizing degrees of Truth in the physical and psycho-spiritual events of our world. And I try to form authentic beliefs based on the Truths that I uncover, not on what I want to be true, or on what other people say is true."

So do I. I base my own beliefs on my own experience along with that of those whose experience and assertions I respect. But, again, it doesn't matter how I come by my belief. It's true if it corresponds to fact, even if I haven't confirmed for myself that it does, and it's false if it doesn't.

"The spiritual journey is longer than you or I can imagine, and just because you can repeat something you've read by a Master, doesn't mean you are capable of authentically believing the Truth it points to."

I agree. But my belief can still be true even if it doesn't meet your standard of being "authentically" held. And, by the way, I don't believe "Tat tvam asi" just because Hindu and other sages have been saying it in one way or other for millennia. I believe it because it squares with my own reasoning and experience, as limited as one or both might be compared with that of the aforementioned sages.

9/20/2006 07:34:00 AM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

Lisa,

"Let's ask the Buddhist peace loving Thais how it works when you are non-aggresive towards a Muslim minority."

I don't know if you're aware of this, but the Thai government has hardly been "non-aggressive" toward the Muslim insurgency in southern Thailand.

"The latest military coup in Thailand has just named a Muslim to be the new Prime Minister."

Where in the world did you hear THAT? I've seen nothing about that it the news, and neither my Thai wife nor her family back in Thailand have heard anything of the kind.

9/20/2006 07:44:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

To Nagarjuna's Friend Grant -

The whole point of blogs is to put your views out there for questions & comments & critical evaluations.

Striving to reach the unreachable star is a good thing, and striving to emulate the composure of those who have come closest to reaching it almost certainly helps to improve your own spiritual posture.

Behaving as if you are one of those who have come closest, or even as if you've reached it is... it's hard to say this gently in black & white text... uncomfortably silly, and when you see someone doing it, it's like watching a bad sitcom where the kid actor puts on his best grown up look and asks his teacher out on a date - it just makes you squirm to watch.

It is particularly difficult to read the all is love & thou art that from Nagarjuna, who not only often argues for determinism (how is that rectified with a soul, let alone love?), but the general off the handle retorts, accusations and judgements he routinely makes - not that I don't do something of the same, but I'm not claiming Godhead here.

I've read his comments here & on his site, and I don't have a problem seeing him as a nice guy trying to improve himself, and kudo's for that, and I enjoy debating him - usually ;-), but Krishnamurti he ain't.

9/20/2006 07:51:00 AM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

Van,

"Believing what you don't know is pretty much the definition of false belief... and it's a good bet it'll eventually destroy what you're trying to believe in."

No, Van, it's believing something I don't know to be true. If I knew it was true, I wouldn't believe it; I would KNOW it. As long as I only believe it, for all I really know, it could be true or it could be false. But if it corresponds to fact, it is true belief whether I ever come to know it or not. For instance, I believe that Bob is a clinical psychologist, even though I've never seen and verified the authenticity of his and others' claims to this effect. Does this mean that my belief is false and that he really isn't a clinical psychologist?

9/20/2006 07:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Along those lines, it is an amusing to see Nagarjuna delete his own hostile posts, which is a vivid metaphor of how he is magically trying to deny his own aggression and hostility through the misunderstanding and misapplication of spiritual percepts that were not intended for that purpose. Everyone feels his hostility except for him.

9/20/2006 07:59:00 AM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"Stu and Van argue convincingly that a separation between people and God exists (Stu uses an analogy of a many layered onion, each layer a barrier between man and God)"

Grant, I respectfully take issue with you here. I don't think they've "convincingly" argued anything of the kind. I agree that there may be 'layers of separation" between what most of us perceive or understand ourselves to be and what we actually are, but I believe that this is a PSYCHOLOGICAL rather than ONTOLOGICAL separation. We are the "which than which there is no whicher," and the ultimate aim of spiritual practice is or should be to concretely realize this.

9/20/2006 08:07:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

joseph said..."The Founders were very clear on foreign entanglements..."

- So much so that they sent the Marines to the shores of Tripoli to shut down the Muslim Pirates & Thugs of their day.

"one always takes a risk when working on someone else's land."

Merely wandering around the land as nomads, does not in and of itself create "Land" in the civilized sense, nor is it created by planting your boot on it and saying "Mine!". 'Land' as property, is created only through a very long string of concepts and customs that carry with them the principles of Rights, and Ownership in a civil society where your claim is recognized and supported through Law. If the local "Authorities" do not recognize or respect all that goes with that view of 'Land' and 'Property' and 'Rights' and 'Law', then they can have no more claim to ownership and authority than the Indians had to what became the Land of America.

"As for the case of Southern Spain, "by their fruits you shall know them". Simply compare the Great Mosque in Cordoba to the rest of the Catholic architecture there. Spanish Catholicism was a cancer for a very long time."

I'm certainly not going to defend the inquisition (which if you look into its supporters & methods, has many comparisons to those of our modern day leftists) or any other dealing of the Spanish Catholicism, but Architecture is no justification, compensation or Mea Culpa for the society that created it. Along the same lines, I don't look upon the pyramids with anything other than revulsion for wealth & lives that were wasted & forced into puffing up some Pharaoh's personal self esteem.

9/20/2006 08:15:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Hey Nags-

Check out this article on Jihadwatch
http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/013205.php#comments

If link is truncated it is the first article on Jihadwatch as of this moment. Many reporters it seems do not feel this is necessary information to report and is not included in all reports, but none the less, it is true. Plus, most of the killing in southern Thailand had been committed by Muslim Jihadis, not the military. If the military were more aggressive against the Jihadis, we would not see this happening right now. You are now witnessing the birth of an Islamic Nation, take notes! It ain't pretty!

9/20/2006 08:27:00 AM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"Along those lines, it is an amusing to see Nagarjuna delete his own hostile posts, which is a vivid metaphor of how he is magically trying to deny his own aggression and hostility through the misunderstanding and misapplication of spiritual percepts that were not intended for that purpose. Everyone feels his hostility except for him."

Bob, though you may suggest that this is merely a rationalization for why I truly deleted the posts in question, I say that I deleted most of those posts not to hide hostility, but because they didn't express what I wished to say as accurately or precisely as I would like. Does this mean that I don't have aggressive and hostile feelings? Not at all, nor have I ever claimed otherwise, although I DO claim that those feelings are far less present in me here now than they were when I first came to this blog; that I do delete expressions of them when I'm aware of them not to deny them to myself or to hide them from you but to act as best I can in harmony with my principles so that my interrelated thoughts, emotions, and conduct can more closely reflect those principles; and that the presence of any anger or hostility in me doesn't invalidate my expressed belief that we should try to love everyone unconditionally and try not to hate anyone.

As for my allegedly misunderstanding and misapplying spiritual percepts (or precepts) in saying that it's ideal for us to love everyone unconditionally, I'm still not aware of any explanation you've offered as to how this is the misunderstanding and misapplication you say it is, or of how it would be wrong and "disastrous" to do this as you say it would be. I've repeatedly asked you to share with us which Christian saints would disagree with me, much less champion the hatred of any human being that you do, and I don't recall seeing any kind of answer other than something to the effect that it is pointless to try to "milk a bull." :-)It may be pointless to try to milk a bull, but it would still be nice to see if you can cite any Christian saints who say that it's good to hate anyone for any reason or bad to love people unconditionally.

9/20/2006 08:35:00 AM  
Anonymous joseph said...

Van,
As James Madison put it, "it has been the true glory of the United States,” in “fulfilling their neutral obligations with the most scrupulous impartiality . . . to maintain sincere neutrality toward belligerent nations,” and “to exclude foreign intrigues and foreign partialities." Thomas Jefferson concurred, declaring that the foreign policy of a free society has to mean “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship, with all nations – entangling alliances with none." "Our first and fundamental maxim should be, never to entangle ourselves in the broils of Europe."
As John Quincy Adams, author of the Monroe Doctrine put it, "America... does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own."

The United States has never maintained a policy toward so-called nomadic countries (of which Iran certainly is not one) that they are not really countries with land or governments. I am sorry, but a failed business transaction, no matter how important one thinks it is, does not give authorization for government overthrow--even if you don't like the government.

I'll not argue any more about aesthetic fruits and civilization. Too long ago anyway.

9/20/2006 08:43:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"A true belief is true no matter where it comes from. If I believe there's life on Mars and there actually is, my belief is true even if it stems not from any direct experience of that life but only from some deep-seated psychological need to believe it. In other words, it's true if it corresponds to fact, whether or not I know at the time I hold it that it does so. Indeed, if I know it does, it's no longer belief; it's knowledge."

As usual, you take the label of a word and strip it of all it's chain of conceptual meaning, to place it like a stuffed animal, or a scarecrow, where you think it'll look lifelike. Websters defines Believe as "To trust what one has heard.” - to do so without reason sufficient to the significance of the belief is foolhardy and dangerous. Trust and Truth have meanings and correspond to reality in a way that doesn't jibe in the least with what you espouse.

"No, Van, it's believing something I don't know to be true. If I knew it was true, I wouldn't believe it; I would KNOW it. As long as I only believe it, for all I really know, it could be true or it could be false."

No Nagarjuna, your belief is but a belief that is unwisely held, and probably indicative of the worthiness of all of your other beliefs. Knowingly holding 'Beliefs' that may be true, though you don't know it - that has got to make for a very shaky psyche.

You have a view of 'belief' that seems similar to what the physicist Richard P. Feynman described as 'cargocult' mentality (it's worth your time looking into). It puts you in a position little better than that of a savage who after watching traffic for the first time, believes that a red-light has the power to stop speeding trucks, because he see's the red light come on, and the Trucks stop. If he steps out in front of a speeding truck with only a red-light to protect him, he will discover the nature of beliefs grounded in truth and understanding, and beliefs held because he believes them to be true.

9/20/2006 08:51:00 AM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

Van,

"Behaving as if you are one of those who have come closest, or even as if you've reached it is... it's hard to say this gently in black & white text... uncomfortably silly, and when you see someone doing it, it's like watching a bad sitcom where the kid actor puts on his best grown up look and asks his teacher out on a date - it just makes you squirm to watch."

Who do you see here pretending to have come closest to or reached an ideal? I have certainly never claimed to love everybody or be any better at it than anyone else here. What's more, even if I had done this, what bearing would this have on whether or not my ideal was right or wrong?

"It is particularly difficult to read the all is love & thou art that from Nagarjuna, who not only often argues for determinism (how is that rectified with a soul, let alone love?), but the general off the handle retorts, accusations and judgements he routinely makes - not that I don't do something of the same, but I'm not claiming Godhead here."

I don't argue for determinism. I say that everything that happens is the ultimate result of the unified totality of existence. I have never said that all is love. I do say that "Tat tvam asi," and so does Bob, if I'm not mistaken. I don't claim to state all of my criticisms with love as I would like, but criticism can come from love. When I suggest that we should love everyone unconditionally, this doesn't mean that we can never judge their actions or criticize them or, if necessary, invoke sanctions against them.

"I enjoy debating him - usually ;-), but Krishnamurti he ain't."

I have never claimed to be. But I've seen Krishnamurti in person, and I think you would probably find me a lot warmer and friendlier in person than you would have found him. :-)

9/20/2006 08:53:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Nagurjuna, due to a congenital lack of understanding combined with a willful and eagerly combative spirit, you so distort and misrepresent our views that it would serve no purpose whatsoever to respond.

9/20/2006 08:54:00 AM  
Anonymous joseph said...

Bob,
70 comments (more if you count the deleted ones). I think your readership is engaged. Great post!

9/20/2006 09:08:00 AM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

Van,

"Websters defines Believe as "To trust what one has heard.” - to do so without reason sufficient to the significance of the belief is foolhardy and dangerous."

Where have I suggested otherwise? How does this address my contention that a belief is true if it corresponds to fact and false if it doesn't, and that the truth of a belief does not depend on how one arrives at it?

"No Nagarjuna, your belief is but a belief that is unwisely held, and probably indicative of the worthiness of all of your other beliefs."

What justification do you have for saying it's "unwisely held"?

"Knowingly holding 'Beliefs' that may be true, though you don't know it - that has got to make for a very shaky psyche."

Once again, if I knew it was true, it wouldn't be a belief; it would be certain knowledge. To believe is to (provisionally or otherwise) accept a proposition as true without knowing for sure that it is.

"You have a view of 'belief' that seems similar to what the physicist Richard P. Feynman described as 'cargocult' mentality... It puts you in a position little better than that of a savage who after watching traffic for the first time, believes that a red-light has the power to stop speeding trucks, because he see's the red light come on, and the Trucks stop."

The "savage" has a false belief, but, contrary to what Stu seems to be arguing, he still has a belief. That is my "view" of belief. No more and no less. I agree with you that some beliefs are false and that they can therefore be dangerous. I agree with you that we should ground our beliefs as firmly as we can on experience and knowledge (and be open to changing them if new knowledge and experience supports such a change). I try to do this. That's one reason why I'm engaging you in this dialogue--i.e., to see if there are good reasons not to believe what I currently do believe about our true nature and the desirability of universal agape love. So far, no one has explained to my satisfaction what is either false or "dangerous" about either.

9/20/2006 09:16:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"I have never claimed to be. But I've seen Krishnamurti in person, and I think you would probably find me a lot warmer and friendlier in person than you would have found him. :-)"

My parents did meet him but I didn't - read his books though, and warm and fuzzy isn't the impression I've had of him.

Nagarjuna, after your last comment I no longer have any idea of what you do or don't claim or believe. I think I'm going to go with Bob's last comment and leave it there.

9/20/2006 09:18:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Joseph, your last selection of quotes from the Founders so hugely misses the forrest for the trees, that it has left me still picking the bark out my my teeth.

I don't have the strength at the moment to rebut it or hope to pull you back enough to get a fuller view of even Madison, let alone the Founders as a whole.

For the moment I will agree to disagree.

9/20/2006 09:19:00 AM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

Lisa, the general in charge of the coup has not appointed himself or been appointed as "Prime Minister." Nor is there any indication I'm aware of that he is part of the Muslim insurgency in the South. Furthermore, the Thai military HAS killed Muslims in the South. For instance, there was an infamous incident sometime back in which scores of Muslims, not all of whom may have even been insurgents, died after being hereded into stifling trucks. Muslim violence increased after this.

Not that I'm excusing the Muslim insugency. But I don't know that the solution to it is to march in there with Thai troops and blow them all away.

9/20/2006 09:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Joan of Argghh! said...

"you so distort and misrepresent our views that it would serve no purpose whatsoever to respond."

But the young cubs enjoy cutting their teeth on the easy prey! It's wise of you to let Nags continue to wander into the lair. And it gives his existence an excellent purpose.

Circle of life, ya know...

9/20/2006 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"Nagurjuna, due to a congenital lack of understanding combined with a willful and eagerly combative spirit, you so distort and misrepresent our views that it would serve no purpose whatsoever to respond."

Bob, maybe I AM the dumb guy you seem to be implying that I am. But you could still cite any saints who urge us to hate people or who speak against the goodness of universal agape love. You could still explain why it would be "disastrous" for us to fulfill this ideal, whether I understood or agreed with your explanation or not. Maybe you have a good explanation, and, if you do, I might be more open to it than you realize.

Finally, it would be very instructive for you to cite an examples of any views expressed here that I've grossly 'distorted' and 'misrepresented.'

9/20/2006 09:45:00 AM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"Nagarjuna, after your last comment I no longer have any idea of what you do or don't claim or believe. I think I'm going to go with Bob's last comment and leave it there."

If you're going with Bob's "last comment" because you agree with him that I'm too stupid, too bent on arguing for arguing's sake, and too prone to misrepresenting and distorting what you say to be worth wasting any more time with, that's unfortunate. First, I may indeed be less intelligent than all of you, but I might still be capable of understanding good arguments against the beliefs I've espoused if anyone offered them. Second, I challenge only those arguments, positions, or beliefs that seem dubious or untrue to me; many things are stated here that I either do agree with or at least think might be true or unimportant even if they're false and so I don't challenge them. Finally, in the absence of compelling evidence to the contrary, I don't believe that I've "misrepresented" or "distorted" anyone's views.

On the other hand, if you don't want to discuss these matters with me further simply because you believe that we've gone as far as we can go with them given our differing perspectives and approaches, I think you're probably right and have made a sound decision. This is the same reason why I didn't respond to your posts on your blog, and not because I thought you were too dense, combative, or inclined to twist my words.

All the best to you, Van.

I have to go anyway for the rest of the day.

9/20/2006 10:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Blogsite Referee said...

"Bob...you could still cite any saints who urge us to hate people or who speak against the goodness of universal love. You could still explain why it would be "disastrous" for us to fulfill this ideal..maybe you have a good explanation..."

Bob has walked in front of Nag's machineguns and is now pinned down. He is forced to either concede a mistake or supply evidence that I'm pretty sure is not there. If he is smart he will ignore the whole thing and pretend to be above it all.
But, this does show that Bob is fallible if nothing else.

9/20/2006 11:34:00 AM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

Lisa,

I see that the military ruler of Thailand is being called the "interim prime minister." So, I retract what I said earlier about him not being the prime minister. However, I don't see any evidence that the coup represents a Muslim takeover of the Thai government or of the overwhelmingly Buddhist nation. But I'll certainly be keeping my eyes open to unfolding developments there.

I'm just happy to see that my wife's family and friends of mine who reside there are doing fine and report no problems to speak of. I hope it stays that way.

9/20/2006 01:09:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

I'm not questioning your intelligence or thinking you're intentionaly deceitful Nag, I wouldn't bother with some who I thought was, but in your methods of thinking - IMHO - somewhere your way of evaluating data and taking it on up the line to information, knowledge, and Value, just won't synch up with mine.

I'm saying this as an explaination for my earlier sign off, not something I'm willing or able to back up with citations at the moment - a little unfair, I'll grant you - everything in your 8:53AM post seemed to contradict everything I've been under the impression you've been arguing since our first exchange of comments - and I'm dumfounded how to respond.

The conceptual chase is fascinating to me, but tiring also. This exchange doesn't seem to have a prospect of carrying us further - maybe the next will.

9/20/2006 02:03:00 PM  
Anonymous God said...

ref:

To quote mySelf:

You who love the Lord, hate evil!

The moonbat who is kind to the cruel is cruel to the kind. You shall hate all workers of iniquity. The Lord is angry with the wicked every day. You should be too. The Lord abhors the boodthirsty and deceitful man! Are you morally superior to God?!

Depart from me, oh wearisome and boneheaded moonbat, and take thy fellow moonbats with thee to thine own silly, meforsaken new age blog.

9/20/2006 02:05:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Joseph said...
"
I'll not argue any more about aesthetic fruits and civilization. Too long ago anyway."

Joseph, I do get the arguement that a civilization is best known, and perhaps judged, by what is expressed in its aesthetic output.

If memory serves, Kenneth Clark made a similar arguement in his excellent "Civilization" series/book in the last century, and Matthew Arnold in the next to last century. There is certainly some worth to it, but I think a fundamentally more important consideration is how the civilization sees and values its citizens, and who they are (and not anachronistically, but in relation to the available wisdom of their own time), over and above what a few of its citizens were able to create within it.

9/20/2006 02:30:00 PM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9/20/2006 06:30:00 PM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"You who love the Lord, hate evil!"

Can't one hate evil without hating the human being who does evil?

"The moonbat who is kind to the cruel is cruel to the kind."

Maybe that's true of "moonbats," but not necessarily true of human beings.

"You shall hate all workers of iniquity."

Why?

"The Lord is angry with the wicked every day. You should be too."

One can legitimately be angry with someone for his wrongdoing without illegitimately hating him.

"The Lord abhors the boodthirsty and deceitful man! Are you morally superior to God?!"

I AM God. Not the nonsensical, mythical, and morally degenerate God of the literal Bible. I'm the real deal.:-)

9/20/2006 06:34:00 PM  
Anonymous God said...

You're drunk.

9/20/2006 07:30:00 PM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

Not in the least.

9/20/2006 09:05:00 PM  

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