Know Your Caste
But natural castes exist, and if you try to eliminate them, they will just return in a perverse form -- just as you can try to eliminate sexual differences but will end up with weird sexual hybrids and a lot general confusion -- confusion that is then institutionalized and taught as “wisdom” in our universities.... but only because there are so many academics who are in the wrong caste and have no business being in academic life! (As a brief aside, you will also notice that when I have a troll problem -- or more accurately, a “problem troll” -- it is always a caste issue, so that there is really little Dupree can say aside from “pipe down and keep pulling the rickshaw!”)
Let’s review our castes, shall we? But before doing so, let us remind ourselves that this is not a matter of equality under the law, much less before the eyes of God. To be honest, it is actually an issue of compassion, for it is difficult to be happy if one spends one’s life on the wrong path. As the Buddhists say, “another man’s dharma is a great bummer,” or something like that. I hope it goes without saying that I am not advocating some sort of imposition of the caste system, any more than I would advocate stratification of society based upon Jungian typology. Having said that, there is a good chance that you will be happier in life if you know your Jungian typology -- your “psychological DNA,” so to speak -- and pursue a career consistent with it.
In fact, in order to avoid any misunderstanding, let’s just stipulate at the outset that we are speaking “mythologically,” in a Jungian sense of the term.
There are five main castes; the priest, the knight or warrior, the merchant or artisan, the laborer, and the “untouchable.” The priestly, according to Schuon, is “the purely intellectual, contemplative and sacerdotal type.” In a manner that comes to him quite naturally, his mind is focussed on the transcendent -- you might say that he is born with a vivid “sense of the eternal.” There will be something about him that is “not of this world.” It is as if there is a reversal of figure and ground, in that the noumena will stand out from (or “shine through”) the phenomena, rather than vice versa. There will be a natural aversion to the things of this world -- which is not to say “disgust,” only that, for the sage, any created paradise is a prison compared to the eternal and changeless. For a person who is truly of this caste, they will be a natural renunciate -- which is a rapid way to distinguish between true and false prophets, so to speak (or at least degrees of such). Perhaps one major qualification is in order, because attraction to beauty is central to this caste, but only insofar as it serves as a reminder of its transcendent source.
Just as the priestly caste is poorly understood by our culture, so too is the knightly. This is reflected in idiotic sentiments toward the military that are routinely expressed by the left -- such as Jon Carry’s remark a few weeks back. In fact, a couple of days ago, an anonymous troll left the following comment:
“Meanwhile dreadfully sane peace loving ‘christian’ America accounts for 48% of world wide armaments trade. It is easily the largest maker,owner,seller and user of weapons of all kinds including and especially WMD's. Its dominant institution is the Pentagon and its associated military industrial complex. The ‘values’ of the Pentagon permeate every aspect of USA ‘culture’. The ‘culture’ of death literally rules. Brought to one and all by over 700 foreign military bases” (sic).
This troll’s fulsomely idiotic comment is a fine example of Guenon’s remark about no one knowing their place. To jump ahead a bit, the problem is actually the opposite of what the troll suggests. Because of an aggressive imposition of egalitarian ideals, this results in the “leveling” of the higher castes, so that the society ends up with a collective soul that is roughly half merchant and half laborer. Not only that, but, as we shall see, through the magic of “inverse analogy,” the society ends up “worshipping” the outcast -- the transgressor, the outsider, the person “above” (actually beneath) the law.
You see the same foolishness in the MSM’s coverage of the war in Iraq, which comes down to a running tally of how many "ultimate losers" have died in the battle. In short, in their liberal “sophistication,” there is not the merest appreciation of warrior culture -- of a caste that is higher than those common leftist intellectual laborers and liberal media drones who dismiss it with such contempt. Deep down they know this, which is why, after they express their contempt, they must always qualify their statement with an expression of how much they “support the troops.” Whenever they say this, what they really mean is, “ignore what I just said.”
In fact, the knightly or warrior type is analogous to the priestly, except that their keen intelligence “is turned towards action and analysis rather than towards contemplation and synthesis.” Their strength lies especially in the area of character. The warrior “makes up for the aggressiveness of his energy by his generosity, and for his passionate nature by his nobility, self-control and greatness of soul." Action rather than contemplation is valued, for it is through action that honor and glory are attained.
The nobility of the warrior caste is something that, as a boy, it was impossible to "not know.” This heroic ideal was reflected in movies, in television programs, in the media, and in my grade school text books. Now it is the opposite. Our elites believe that warriors are “losers,” a message that has been ubiquitous since the Vietnam war. An entire generation of Americans was brought up to believe that warriors are either “victims” or “baby killers” and that the cowards who characterize them as such are “heroes” -- courageous “activists” who “speak truth to power” -- itself a pale imitation of the real warrior who puts his life on the line to confront evil.
For the moment, I want to skip over the merchant and artisan castes and discuss something I touched on above, that is, the moral inversion that places the “untouchable” or “outcast” at the top of society. Schuon mentions it somewhat in passing, but in giving it some thought, it occurred to me that he hit on something rather consequential -- at least it was for me when I was growing up.
First, it needs to be said that the man “without caste,” like the others, is a natural type, or “basic human tendency.” He possesses a “chaotic character”; in modern psychological parlance, you might say that he has poor boundaries. He will exhibit “a tendency to realize those psychological possibilities which are excluded for others: hence his proneness to transgression; he finds his satisfaction in what others reject.”
There is a mythological explanation -- do not necessarily take it literally --- that the “chandala,” or casteless person, is the product of the maximum of differences between the parents -- say, a noble brahmani mother and a common shudra (laborer) father. The idea is that there is a maximum of “impurity” introduced by the incompatibility of the parents. Food for thought.
In any event, what intrigues me is the notion that the outcast “constitutes a definite type which normally dwells on the fringes of society and exhausts those possibilities that no one else is willing to touch. When he has talents -- and one might say he is then capable ‘of anything and nothing’ -- he often appears equivocal, unbalanced, sometimes simian, and protean if he is gifted....” He will often be drawn to “illicit occupations; in a word he shows a tendency either to follow bizarre or sinister activities; or simply to neglect established rules, in which he resembles certain saints, though of course by inverse analogy” (emphasis mine).
When I read this, I immediately thought of the many celebrities, actors and rock stars who clearly fall into this category -- chaotic and unbalanced people who “live on the fringes,” and whose neglect of rules and boundaries can be confused with some sort of liberation or transcendence.
Now, I am not ashamed to admit that when I was younger, I was unquestionably drawn to this type of individual, for lack of any other model of transcendence in our society. For example, John Lennon was undoubtedly of this type -- a perfect example of the “gifted and protean” outcast. He didn’t transcend anything but he transgressed everything, which is why he is practically elevated to sainthood by the left. This is an example of the “inverse analogy” alluded to above. As a human being, Lennon was so dysfunctional that it is hard to imagine what he would have done with himself if the Beatles hadn’t become successful. Bear in mind that it took a good seven years -- from 1956 to 1964 -- to achieve this success. But in the case of Lennon, those seven years cannot be thought of as any kind of patient “laying the foundation” for a career in music. Rather, he was mostly driven by sheer drug-fueled desperation, because, given his many personal problems, he literally had no other options.
To a large extent, this is what the art and entertainment worlds have become -- refuges for desperate outcasts, most of whom have no talent, much less Lennon’s prodigious gift. Instead, we end up with people whose only talent is their ability to transgress or to shock -- or, to be perfectly accurate, their juvenile inability to not transgress. What would be left of Madonna without the childishly obligatory transgression?
Schuon points out that this pariah type is “without center and so lives on the periphery and in inversion; if he tends to transgression, that is because in a sense it lends him the center he lacks and thus in an illusory way frees him from his equivocal nature. His is a decentralized subjectivity, centrifugal and without recognized limits; he flees from the law, the norm, because that would bring him back to the center which by his very nature he avoids.”
This would explain the inverted hypocrisy of the psychological left. Although this type of person superficially appears to be the most “liberated” and without boundaries or limitations, in reality, they are desperately in need of the “cultural center” to rebel against. Like a child, they are most in need of what they most protest against. Since they are chaotic souls with no center, they gain a spurious sense of internal coherence by rubbing up against, or breaking through, a boundary. Thus, the transgression eventually takes on a wearily compulsive quality. They rapidly become caricatures of themselves.
Looking back at my own life, I can clearly see that I have always sought transcendence. But again, in the absence of any models for such, I was initially attracted to transgressive sociopaths -- the "beats,” or Timothy Leary, or John Lennon and other rock stars. I remember when I was 19 or 20, my circle of friends included such an individual. At the time, we were in awe of him, although now I can see him as he was: pathetic and desperate. He had what Paul McCartney described as Lennon’s “fuck all” attitude, as if there were literally nothing he wouldn’t do. It was quite bracing to be around him, to say the least. I have a vivid recollection of sitting around a pool with the guys, drinking beer. A lizard had fallen into the pool. My drunken outlaw friend impulsively reached in, grabbed it, and bit off its head.
I sometimes wonder where he’s buried....
***All quotes taken from Language of the Self, which I do not necessarily recommend as an introduction to Schuon's thought.