Monday, February 27, 2006

Down the Rabbit Hole to the Threshold of the Unglishable

It is no great accomplishment to hear a voice in the head. The accomplishment is to make sure that it is telling you the truth. --Terence McKenna

So true. My unincarnated co-conspirator Petey talks a good game, but as you know, he can get very evasive when you try to pin him down. Are you being literal? Metaphorical? Symbolic? Allegorical? Obnoxious? Was that a joke? Hey, where did you go?

Anyway, have you ever have that exalted feeling that you've stumbled upon the key to the world enigma? That you've crashed through the doorways of the divine imagination and glimpsed the eschaton in all its naked glory? That you've been deputized by the Aion to disclose its inner secret, only to forget what it was when you wake up the next morning sober?

As you can see from my recent posts, I've been thinking very hard about certain spiritual matters that I had previously had to place on the back burner, partly due to the demands of trying to blog about the deep psychological structure of horizontal politics on a daily basis. In fact, I did this in violation of my own advice found on page 234 of my book: "It is critical to consume the proper spiritual 'food' and cut back on the graven mass media images that draw you into the 'tempest of the day.'" These things "resonate at a certain frequency that will awaken a sympathetic response in you if you are not vigilant." Therefore, "you must 'wean yourself from the momentary' (Kierkegaard) and make sure you give yourself each day your daily transubstantial bread."

I suppose that's one thing I've been trying to do with the blog lately--provide a quiet little vertical roadside diner where people can come and visit amidst the roiling insanity of the world. I will still write about politics from time to time, but we are in such good hands with ShrinkWrapped and Dr. Sanity in that regard. They probably don't even realize how important their work is. They are doing something truly novel--something that has never successfully been done in the past. You'd think it would be easy, but most past attempts to apply psychological principles to culture, politics and history have been either hopelessly shallow or ridiculously transparent agenda-driven twaddle produced by vaguely Marxist hack-, wack,- and attackademics. For that reason, psychohistory quickly discredited itself and no one took it seriously. ShrinkWrapped, Dr. Sanity, and others are virtually resurrecting this moribund field, whether they know it or not. The discipline is full of potential pitfalls, and it takes a wise and self-aware person to avoid them, because it is easily prone to excesses--explaining too much, or simply tarring your ideological enemies with a pathological brush. They do neither.

Where was I? Oh yes. The spiritual explorations. As I mentioned, since I liberated myself somewhat from the day-to-day political trench warfare, I've been able to focus like the proverbial laser beam on certain problems that I essentially had to set aside after I finished my book in 2004. The very same week I submitted the final correction of the galleys I was diagnosed with Type I diabetes--how's that for timing?--and didn't feel very well, both physically and psychologically, for a number of months. I think the more "finely tuned" your physical instrument is, the more you notice subtle changes in your body, not to mention the gross changes brought about by having had your blood sugar deranged for who knows how many months.

Then, a few months later, the birth of my first child at the age of 49. Normally that wouldn't be a big deal, but with the diabetes, it introduced a new stressor into the situation that I hadn't planned on. I'm not complaining. It's just that I really have to take care of myself if I want to be around for some of those precious moments, like when he drops out of high school or steals his first car.

One of the things that makes me "believe in" the spiritual is that when you sincerely and humbly think about it, you get results. Once I began opening myself up to the problems I'd been thinking about, ideas and theories started pouring in. This also happened in the writing of my book. Solutions to problems don't exactly come from "thinking" or "problem solving" per se. Rather, you have to immerse yourself in a problem and wait for the answer to come. Where does it come from? I don't know. You could say "the unconscious," but I think that just begs the question, because if the unconscious is capable of such feats, we have to come up with a better name than "un" conscious, because it's very conscious. It may be "non" but it's certainly not "un" conscious. Actually, it's a different mode of consciousness.

Not only that--and here's the weird part, but it's true--it doesn't seem to work just "inside" but "outside" your so-called mind, as if you are a point in a nonlocal field that extends both inside and out. Obviously, many people have had this experience, most notably Carl Jung, who called it "synchronicity." Here again, it doesn't so much matter what causes it, so long as you notice that it does happen. In my case, subtle intuitions that point me this way and that, leading me along an invisible trail that shows me what I've been looking for. It's not as if "answers" are provided. Rather, it's more like a missing key is given--a key that exactly fits the problematic "lock" you've been thinking about.

If you look at all my recent posts, we've covered a lot of ground, but much of it revolves around the problems I've been working on, specifically, how to "build a more perfect logos," as Terence McKenna put it. That is, I'm trying to come up with a way to more effectively describe and communicate the "super conscious" world, in the same way Freud did with the unconscious. In so doing, some critical answers---or at least previously hidden signs pointing to potential answers--have been falling into my lap.

Unfortunately, I'm flat out of time. I will explain more in tomorrow's post.

*No time to spiel check today, so forgive any typos in my spiel.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

On Seeing the Depth of the Cosmos With Your Own Three Eyes

Psychologists don't actually know much about consciousness. However, one thing we do know--or should know, anyway--is that it is not a bag. And yet, in thinking about the nature of consciousness, this seems to be the default setting of most psychologists--as if consciousness is a sort of empty container where mental events take place and are stored. In many respects, this is simply a projection--"injection," actually--and reification of our perception of three dimensional space. But it's the other way around. Three dimensional space is a projection of the mind.

In many ways, human psychological development can be thought of as a conquest of dimensionality. (Don’t get bogged down in a literal understanding here--this is a mental exercise to facilitate understanding.) For example, the psychotic mind inhabits a "zero dimension" of pure mathematical symmetry. It is a world of infinite meaninglessness, with no floor or center, just a roiling panorama of catastrophic, uncategorizable novelty. Symbols are equivalent to what they symbolize and the terror is endless, because there is nothing to contain it.

The autistic mind may be thought of as one-dimensional. It knows no depth, only points of sensory contact with objects that are known by their feel and texture--hard, soft, rough, smooth. For them, a communicative expression does not emerge from the human face. Rather, it is simply a bizarre collection of disconnected points--a nose here, an eye there, a curved mouth down there. The points are not synthesized into an internal representation of the emotional depth or interior of the other. The psychologist Frances Tustin wrote about how autistic defenses can operate in neurotic adults as well, for example, in certain repetitive rituals such as "rocking." These rituals help to contain an anxiously fragmented mind by focusing on some limited sensory perception. Without it, the mind might slip into the terrifying chaos of zero dimensions.

Once we reach two dimensions, we are in the realm of something more recognizably human. This was called by Melanie Klein the "paranoid schizoid position," and more people inhabit it than you might realize. It is the world of extreme, forced splitting into diametrically opposed emotional categories of good and bad. This type of two-dimensional thinking pervades the Islamic world.

For example, just yesterday there was a link on LGF to a transcript on Memri.org of a film seminar on Iranian TV by Professor Hasan Bolkhari, entitled "Tom and Jerry - A Jewish Conspiracy to Improve the Image of Mice, because Jews Were Termed 'Dirty Mice' in Europe." This man is a "professor," and yet, his mind clearly does not operate like yours or mine. Rather, it is simply a caricature of depth, when it is actually operating in the two-dimensional world of extreme splitting.

The professor soberly discourses on how "the Jewish Walt Disney Company gained international fame" with their Tom and Jerry cartoon (for the record, a Hanna Barbera creation). He goes on to suggest that the main motivation "for making this very appealing cartoon was to erase a certain derogatory term that was prevalent in Europe." That is, "If you study European history, you will see who was the main power to hoard money and wealth.... In most cases, it is the Jews. Perhaps that was one of the reasons which caused Hitler to begin the anti-Semitic trend... "

In his two dimensional mind, the Professor observes that "No ethnic group or people operates in such a clandestine manner as the Jews." In fact, "This ultimately led to Hitler's hatred and resentment." Therefore, in nazi Germany, "Jews were degraded and termed 'dirty mice'," so Tom and Jerry had to be made "in order to change the Europeans' perception of mice."

Obviously, this type of two-dimensional thinking is not confined to the Muslim world. In America we have many of our own two-dimensional professors, such as Noam Chomsky, Ward Churchill, and Juan Cole. Their minds are like utterly predictable calculating machines. Whatever data you put into them, they spit out the same results: U.S. bad, everyone else good.

Only with the emergence of the transitional space proper are we dealing with the creative use of three-dimensional psychological space. This is the imaginal space that emerges between an infant and his or her loving caretakers. But this creative and dynamic space is often hijacked and reduced to two dimensions as a result of the malign imagination of internalized mind parasites.

The fourth dimension adds time to the mix. This is called the "depressive position," a term of art that does not imply clinical depression per se, but the capacity to form stable relationships that endure through time. One of the reasons it is “depressive” is that it involves transcending the omnipotent psychological defenses of the lower dimensions. For example, a borderline patient is not in the depressive position. Rather, when they become angry at a loved one, they instantly convert the loved one into the category of all bad. Not only are they bad now, but they have always been, and always will be, bad. In a very real sense, time and history have been destroyed. The feeling creates the reality.

Perhaps you have noticed when you shift from one dimension to another. For example, depression clearly involves a loss of dimensionality. One of its most striking characteristics is that the world seems to lose a vital dimension of depth. Suddenly it is flat, lifeless, and devoid of the meaning that can only be located and experienced in the higher dimensions. Moreover, many psychological defense mechanisms operate by plunging the individual into a lower dimension. I call these “dimensional defenses." For example, there might well be unpleasant meanings and psychological realities located in the fourth dimension--indeed, there usually are. One way to avoid them is to descend into a lower dimension where those meanings cannot be located or "entertained."

I didn't mean for this to be a discourse on psychological development. For one things, these are my own theories, and I doubt if many psychologists would subscribe to them. But any way you look at it, this is as far as conventional psychology can take you--into the four-dimensional space of the depressive position. It's what most people would call "reality."

But neither internal nor external reality are limited to four dimensions. This is pure projection, an artifact of our evolved nervous systems. For example, if you could ask a worm how many dimensions there are in the world, they would undoubtedly say two. Ask a bacterium, and they'd probably say one. Ask most humans, and you get four.

But in my opinion, one of the things that spiritual development involves first and foremost is the ongoing conquest of dimensionality---of higher dimensional space. One way to think about it is that the conquest of each dimension brings with it a new degree of freedom. Think about that insane Iranian professor. How free is he really? In reality, he's free to move in only two directions: Muslim good, Jew evil. Same with Noam Chomsky, at least insofar as his mind touches on politics. His mind is free in only two directions. Conclusions are preordained. He's on a railroad track.

Now several of my readers have pointed out a useful analogy for spiritual experience, one that I myself have used in the past. That is, they compare it to those "Magic Eye" pictures, which look like a bunch of random two-dimensional dots until you relax your gaze, and suddenly a three dimensional object emerges from the page, floating there in the space before you.

Yes. This is an excellent analogy. Genuine spiritual insight involves dwelling in what appear to be meaningless clues, out of which suddenly emerges spiritual "vision." It is there. You "see" it. But that doesn't mean others will see it as well. For example, when I read the Book of Genesis, spiritual insight after insight tumble forth from the pages. But a two-, three- or four-dimensional scientific or religious literalist will simply see something concrete: somebody dividing light and dark or water and land. Some people walking around in a garden. A tree you're not supposed to touch. Etc.

In the past, I have touched on the idea of spiritual experience taking place on the shoreline between the infinite and the finite, between time and eternity. Consider the fact that we have two biological eyes or ears that are set slightly apart. Because each of the two organs has a slightly different vertex, we are able to see and hear stereoscopically or stereophonically. If you have only one good ear, you can't experience stereo, only mono.

Now, suppose we have a "third eye" or a "third ear." What would reality look like from that perspective? As a matter of fact, it is our "third eye" that sees into eternity. If you want, you can even think of it as a right-brain phenomena. That is, the left brain experiences things in sequence, while the right brain experiences them "all at once."

There is a way of living in which these two modes--the lower and higher eyes--harmoniously coexist to facilitate the emergence of additional dimensions of depth--of not being shipwrecked on the rocks of time, or of being lost in eternity, but somehow experiencing time in eternity and eternity within time.

I tried my best to capture this in my book. That is, if our perception of spatial depth comes from our integration of different points of view, depth may be thought of as a function of the number of perspectives that are integrated in an experience or perception. In my book, I tried to integrate as many points of view as possible--scientific, cosmological, biological, psychological, developmental, neurological, philosophical, spiritual, religious, mystical, etc.

I am hardly the only person who has had the experience of the deep unity that subtends--or supertends--the surface multiplicity of the world. As a matter of fact, it's more common than you think. I'm just trying to develop a language to talk about it. Just as we have Euclidean geometry to describe external space, we need to invent a geometry of higher dimensional spiritual space. It's one of the things I'm working on. So if my ideas appear half baked, that’s why. In reality, they’re more like 30-40% baked at this point.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

I See Dead People!

Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
Hotspur: Why so can I, or so can any man; But will they come when you do call them? --Shakespeare, Henry IV

Oh, I think so, wise guy. Where would we be without the authentic gurus, avatars, saints, seers, and miscellaneous holy men who have marked out the path of exit and entrance into the closed circle of material existence? Once you have formed a relationship with one of these celestial beings, it brings real tears of gratitude to contemplate how much they have sacrificed for the love of mankind and where your life would be without them. Thanks to their guidance and example, we can have real faith and hope that our spiritual endeavors are not in vain--that they will bear fruit.

Formed a relationship? With a dead person? Say it ain't so, Bob!

Now that I have successfully driven away half my readers with all the spiritual mumbo-jumbo--those so-called "normal" ones--I think I can say it, can't I? It's just you and me, right?

Yeah, I talk to dead people. And they t.... Never mind. I'll get to that part in a minute.

Mankind is haunted by the memory of paradise. Religions arise to memorialize and give structure to this memory. Rituals are enacted to make the memory present. But Buddhas show us that we are mistaken to see this as a memory of the past, as it is actually a memoir of the future. A Buddha is someone who has found the vertical path of exit from the closed circle of mere animal and material existence.

On the other hand, the avatar breaks into time from eternity in order to reconcile the horizontal and vertical worlds. There are more Buddhas than avatars. It is said that the avatar only incarnates at world-historical crisis points, when mankind has reached a hopeless impasse in its spiritual evolution. The avatar comes to fulfill a specific mission. That mission is not always strictly spiritual in the narrow definition of the term, but can be scientific, political, even military. You can look at it metaphorically if you like. But do look at it. Consider where the world would be if you removed a handful of capacious souls from the world-historical stage, say, Plato, Newton, Edison, Einstein, Washington, Lincoln, and Churchill. One of these men is worth more than most nations.

Now, I hope it isn't offensive to my Christian friends to suggest that there has been more than one avatar with a divine mission. As a matter of fact, it has been orthodox belief--ever since Augustine I believe--that the Christ had been present in the world in an attenuated or partial form from the beginning. There were hints and adumbrations before the full revelation appeared in the form of Jesus. You might say that the Christ existed as a sort of quantum field or wave function until, in the fulness of time, it collapsed and became particularized in the person of Jesus: "Before Abraham was, I AM." In any event, it is not so much Jesus' divine birth, but his divine death, that counts. That is what really sets him apart from the others. He is risen!

So one can still remain Christian and recognize the existence of other divine emissaries, even if they are not regarded on the same plane as the "only begotten"--at the very least, Moses, John the Baptist, St. Paul, etc. And I hope no one doubts that there have been "Christian Buddhas" as well--Denys the Areopagite, St. John of the Cross, Meister Eckhart, Theophan the Recluse, Seraphim of Sarov, and so many more. Ignore these luminous beings and you are denying yourself one of life's true metaphysical delights.

As I tried to convey in my book, there is only one story. It is the story of an evolving cosmos awakening to itself and becoming conscious. Who could argue with that? It happened. And it's happening. First there was matter. Then one fine day, life. Then just a short while back, self-consciousness. And most recently, the recognition of, and identification with, Spirit. Matterlifemindspirit. You can insert an arbitrary line dividing one from the other, but at least recognize that you are the one who created the abstract dualism. The underlying Oneness of existence knows no such demarcations, neither in space nor in time. Is that why it's possible to form a relationship with a teacher outside our local spacetime matrix? To resonate with someone who dwells in the nonlocal noumenal world from which this one is a local projection? I don't know. Probably. Off hand I can't think of a better reason.

I do know this. For a long time, I tried the "do-it-yoursoph" approach to spirituality. You may not think so, but I tend to be pretty rational, and it actually wasn't too long ago that I was an atheist. Still, I was always drawn to spirituality, so long as it was something along the lines of Zen or Taoism--strictly rational in a right-brained sort of way. Most forms of Buddhism might be described as "psycho-spiritual technologies" aimed at facilitating post-biological evolution, or ego transcendence. You don't even have to have any particular beliefs, either rational or otherwise. You just sit, meditate, and wait. That's it.

The purpose of such spiritual exercises is to become deep, that is, to plunge into the vertical. You can only think of one thing at a time. In this regard, it is just as important to develop a good forgettery as it is to have a good memory. In order to recollect the vertical, we must forget the horizontal. Meditation is learned forgetting. It is to change one's center of gravity from the horizontal to the vertical, or perhaps die to the one and be resurrected into the other. Either way, death is the guardian of this threshold. In making this transition, one recognizes the existence of something analogous to "gravity" on the spiritual plane, as we are "attracted" by and into it--as if it is a giant planet or star.

The uncorrupted heart is able to perceive the divine presence in the Buddha or avatar. When we perceive this, we spontaneously bow before it. In so doing, we open up to their benign influence. This is to move from spiritual technology to radiant grace. In the transitional space formed by the heartfelt veneration that occurs here, you actually reincarnate the departed avatar or Buddha. Their words become flesh.

Look at it this way. Our human personality develops in the transitional space between our brain's neurology and the empathic others of our childhood. Just so, our higher self is given birth in the transitional space between us and a transcendent being. As you know, some have even made the analogy explicit by referring to it as "the Father." In this view, our earthly parents only derive their just authority in being divine deputies of our nonlocal parent. Their job is to serve as examples and take care of us long enough to usher us into the presense of our real parent.

You want spiritual advice, right? I can do that, but I must emphasize that he in whose name I speak is mightier than I--mightier than me and Petey put together--and whose sari I am not fit to carry. I can bobtize you with my honeyed words, but s/he will do so with fire!

Yes, you can try to be a soph-starter, as I did. Or you can enlist the priceless assistance of one of the many helpful nonlocal operators who are always standing by. Immerse yourself in the word they have left behind, and read it not with your mind, but with a higher faculty: your heart. See for yourself if you can't make them a real living presence in your life.

O merciful Homo futurus, wholly I-AMbassador of the Omega Point, esteemed Eschatolator Operator, we pray that you lead us upward and occasionally throw us a freakin' bone down here in 4D! If it be your will.

Friday, February 24, 2006

I Can See Your Ho's From Here

Still experimenting with photos. This one is from today's bike ride. Not very good. I will do better.

That would be the liberatoreum, over there toward the mid-upper left, at the edge of the foothills. No, not those little white dots on the ridge above. That's where the entertainment executives and trial lawyers and rappers live. Don't worry--they're inside a gated community, so we're safe from them. We're down below, in the upper left corner of that triangle of green.

That range in the far background on the right is called the Santa Monica Mountains. It's what God put there to block our ocean view and cause the temperature to hit 108 here in the summer, when it's a cool 78 on the ocean side, just a few miles away.

I grew up right here. My parents bought the house in 1964. My father died in 1984, and when my mother had to enter a convalescent home in 1990, I bought the house from her so she would have a source of income to pay for the care. Since then, the state has purchased all of the land surrounding our little development that you see in the picture, so it's wide open space all around, as far as the eye can see. I do a lot of my best pondering back here. You might say its my own personal ponderosa.

I done took to mountain biking 'bout three or four years ago, right after the land become public. Hardly nobody ever come back here, so it may's well be all mine. Just me and Petey in the sidecar and all them coyotes, deer, rattlesnakes, bobcats, tarantulas, and ticks in the summer. Nothin' really dangerous, like one of them rappers. I don't know what I'd do if I come up on one of them in the middle of nowhere. Maybe conk him on the head with a big stick and put him in the back of that old Kaiser Willys I found, make it look like he got caught up in the fire or something.

On Gardening in the Dark: Who's the Hardest Working Man in Sow Business? (updated 9.16.07)

Yes, who is the man with the noetic bodacity to speak for the invisible logos that joins Mind and Cosmos? Who is a dweller on the threshold of the transdimensional doorway through which the dead pass daily? Who has pulled the ancient sword from the philosopher's stone and stuck it in the breadbasket of metaphysical ignorance? Who navigates in hyperspace with one hand firmly gripping the tiller of spiritual evolution, the other hand caressing a cold beer? Whose blog is the mystic church of the New Testavus for the rest of us, making darkness visible the unthought known in broad daylight? Whose book blows the locked doors of the empyrean off their rusty hinges?

Who's the man that won't back down, when there's spiritual danger all around?

Bob!

Can you dig it?

Sorry. That was Petey's little invocation. He was just trying to build me up and give me a little confidence as I venture into the hazardous waters of giving spiritual advice. Of course, I did this in Chapter Four of my book, but I tried there to do so in a more abstract manner, disclosing what I believe is the "deep structure" of any fruitful spiritual practice, whatever one's tradition.

Where to start?

There are objects and there is motion. Religions are like intellectual cathedrals that endeavor to mirror the hierarchical dimension of the vertical on this side of manifestation--they are "heaven on earth," so to speak. But spiritual growth is not an object. Rather, it is a "motion" or movement--an expansion. As a matter of fact, it is the leading edge of the cosmos.

In my book, I attempted to describe the algorithm of this movement with a set of abstract symbols that apply to any spiritual practice and all spiritual growth. To a large extent those symbols are descriptive rather than prescriptive, providing some hints but leaving the exact "how to" to the individual aspirant.

We are fallen beings. Specifically, we are exiled from the vertical; we are strangers in this world, wandering in the desert of the horizontal, trying to find our way home. We go through books, experiences, teachers, trying to find Truth or Freedom or Happiness. Sometimes we catch a glimpse, only to see it recede into darkness, like a dream that fades upon awakening.

The universe is a nonlocal whole that is thoroughly entangled with itself. Let's suppose that I am not me. Rather, I am you. I am the higher you, speaking to you from your future, bidding you to join me. It's frustrating for me, because I'd like you to be here with me. Actually, I'd like to be down there with you. To you, your life looks like a bewildering panorama of free choices. But to me, looking down on the scene, I see that your life is actually on a train track. It doesn't really have much freedom, except to move forward and backward in one line. Unfortunately, if you stay on that line, you will inevitably end up where you are headed.

So to arrive at me, you have to derail your life. You have to repent, which literally means to "turn around" or change course. Now, many people who come to a spiritual practice do so because their life has been derailed for them. They are probably the lucky ones. They have achieved a state of spiritual bankruptcy. They are no longer moving, but at least they have stopped moving in the wrong direction. Now, instead of pushing themselves toward the wrong destination, they will have the opportunity to be lured into the heart of the right one.

For others, their catastrophe has to be self-willed. I remember when undergoing my training, when I was in psychoanalytic therapy. I said something to the effect of, "I don't know if I'm cut out for this. I might be too neurotic," or something like that. My analyst quickly corrected me: "No, no--we don't exclude a treatable neurosis. We demand one. It's a prerequisite." You see, psychoanalytic therapy is a sort of self-willed crisis, as you dismantle your surface personality, dive into the unconscious, and try to reconstruct things on more stable footing. Only by doing so are you qualified to be a psychopomp for others, ushering them along the tortuous trails of their hidden self.

Likewise, there is no question that a spiritual practice will involve facing some catastrophic truths--catastrophic not to your true self, but to your surface ego. In fact, spiritual growth is nothing but the assimilation of truth. At first, the truth can be unpleasant. To many people it is positively toxic. For them there is no hope.

Our minds are chaotic systems with different basins of attraction. Our surface personality is one such basin. If you have a lot of conflicts and fixations, you may think of those as basins of attraction as well. Each basin within our personality is an open system with a life force and agenda all its own, drawing relationships and experiences it needs in order to go on being. These are the instruments of our destruction, at least as they pertain to ever escaping the closed circle of the horizontal and setting up shop in the vertical.

In psychotherapy there is something called "resistance," and it is ubiquitous. No matter how much a person comes into therapy wishing to change, there are parts of the personality that will resist this change and try to sabotage the treatment. Why is this? For the same reason that any living entity has a life instinct and wishes to go on being. These resistant parts of the personality are much more like quasi-independent organisms than "objects." This is why in my book I refer to them as "mind parasites." If they are not parasites, they might as well be. For, just like parasites, they take over the machinery of the host--you--and reproduce themselves, bringing about the very conditions that allow them to flourish.

For this reason, most anyone on a spiritual path requires some form of meaningful psychotherapy. If not, their entire spiritual practice is likely to be overrun by mind parasites disguised as spirituality. The mind parasites don't really care if you go spiritual on them, so long as you don't leave them behind. A moment's glance at the history of religion shows this to be true. Religion has almost been ruined by mind parasites, and it is perfectly understandable if a sophisticated modern person were to reject it on that basis alone.

However, this would be wrong and ultimately self-defeating. For it is not just religion that has been ruined by mind parasites, but almost every other instrument or institution devised by human beings. For example, until quite recently, the history of medicine was the history of error. It consisted not only of beliefs that were untrue, but could not possibly be true. Should one therefore toss out medicine because its history is so riddled with kooky beliefs?

Lies are the wisdom of the world. The world is immersed in, and ruled by, lies. Therefore, to the extent that you lose yourself in this world, you too will be lost in a sea of lies. For example, the war on Islamofascism is not ultimately a war against a physical enemy, but a war against the most outrageous and pernicious lies. Likewise, the "culture war" in America is not really about culture, but about truth and about unconsciously motivated stupidity. Europe has already lost this war. Like the American left they have abandoned truth for comfort, happiness for pleasure, vertical liberty for horizontal license.

Birth is always a chaotic and painful transition from one mode of being to another. The seeds of our new birth are already present within us, in the womb of our being. What are the conditions that allow the seeds to grow and bear fruit? Hell, I don't know.

"Petey? What do you think?" Okay. How about the sunlight of truth, the water of grace, the fertilizer of ritual, and the loving assistance of an expert gardener who certainly need not be technically "living" in the biological sense of the term?

Well, my allotted time is up this morning. As you can see, we've just gotten started. But the horizontal beckons me from the threshold of transdimensional doorway, so I bid you adieu. In fact, I will leave you with adieu and don't--a verticalisthenic, if you will. Today, whenever you have a spare moment, instead of wasting it in idle mental wanderings, try silencing your mind and breathing in the eternal, drawing breath from above your head down into your heart, and then offering the breath back up again to your new gardener.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Look What I Found

While mountain biking in the ancient hills around Godwin manor today, I stumbled across something that had been hidden from me under years of overgrown brush until our recent wildfire. Does anyone recognize this beast? Should I try to drag it home on the back of my bike and sell it on ebay?

Or maybe I'll keep it. Might make a cool birthday gift for The Boy.

From this angle, you can't see the best part: the skeleton laying in the front seat. And what is this scribbled document in his hands? Must be important...

Developing a Spiritual Practice, Part One: Spiritual Perverts and Other Problems of God

A number of people have contacted me asking for specific advice about developing a spiritual practice, but I always tell them the same thing. I wasted many years of aimless searching until I finally recognized that the only true path was Islam.

Fooled you again, boy!

Actually, there are few completely universal truths, but the news of the day continually reinforces the importance of avoiding Islam. Do that, and you can't deviate too far from the true path.

Let's say you've done that. You've spent 30 or 40 years avoiding Islam, staying completely non-halal, refraining from beating your wife, not blowing up any churches and works of art, contemptuously mocking CAIR, not being constantly angry and humiliated, not whining about your civl rights being threatened. What's the next step?

As I have mentioned before, I am a little uncomfortable putting myself out as a guru or spiritual teacher of some kind. I've gone back and forth debating with Petey about this, and he always ends up saying something cryptic--and I think a little insulting--like, "what is a bad man but a good man's teacher, anyway?"

There are at least a couple of issues here. First, people have such a genuine thirst for spiritual truth that it is a terrible sin to exploit that. Seriously, on the spiritual plane it's almost like child abuse, because the uncorrupted spiritual impulse is so pure and innocent. It spontaneously reaches out like a child for its father or mother, and it would be awful to use that to aggrandize oneself. Again, this is one of my main objections to frauds such as Deepak Chopra and the rest of the new age gang of narcissists, pneumapaths, and gnostic salesmen.

Have you ever been completely overwhelmed by choices, just wanting someone "in the know" to tell you what to do? In the past, friends of mine who know about my golden ears have asked for advice when purchasing stereo systems. I tell them that they have to audition different components and learn how to listen, and that their ears won't lie to them. There's no wrong choice--just don't purchase a stereo manufactured in the Muslim world. But they don't really want to hear that. "Just tell me which one is the best, and I'll buy it."

To extend the analogy, it is easy to recognize the bad choices in the hi fi world. Those would be most of the mass-market components found in your local big-box store. Purchase most anything above that level of quality, and you have taken a quantum leap toward sonic truth. After that, you can spend ridiculous sums of money, but there's a rapidly diminishing rate of return. In other words, you have to part with a great deal of cash to make increasingly infinitesimal improvements at the margins.

It's the same way with religion. Clearly, the typical reader of this blog will have to wander from the beaten path a bit in order to satisfy their discerning soul. In other words, if you are among the dwindling remnant of my readers who don't mind that I've stopped focussing so much on politics, then you will likely not be satisfied with simply joining your local church or synagogue, dragging yourself to services once a week, and leaving it at that. Obviously you want something more. You don't yet know what it is, but you can sense it.

That sense--assuming you have it--is a very important thing to cultivate. It is not something to be extinguished by the first religion to fall off the turnip truck. Like sexual desire, it needs to be tolerated, sublimated, and transformed. You can't just "act out" spiritually in order to extinguish the impulse.

Freud was partially correct in noting that human beings are driven by primitive instincts such as sex and aggression. What he did not address was the fact that we are also driven--or pulled, actually--by other factors that are equally important. Ignore those and you do violence to the integrity of the human person.

For example, human beings are inherently relationship-seeking. One of the most fruitful advances in psychoanalysis occurred when pioneers such as D.W. Winnicott and R.D. Fairbairn realized that human drives do not occur in a vacuum, but are inherently "object related." Freud largely focussed on the drive alone, as if human beings are simply hydraulic machines or "pressure cookers" that need to let off steam, whereas the modern view sees the drive more as a "link" that connects two persons or subjectivities.

A great deal of pernicious societal misunderstanding has resulted from the notion that our uncivilized drives are somehow more real than our civilized personalities, and that if we could only express them in a conflict-free (and conscience-free) way, then we would inhabit a sort of instinctual paradise. This immature view is at the foundation of a lot of leftist thought. It is thoroughly romantic, in the rotten sense of that word.

Later innovators such as W.R. Bion developed the idea that human beings are also epistemophilic--that our minds are driven to discover knowledge and truth. Freud thought of our desire to acquire knowledge as a sublimation of instinctual drives, but Bion thought of it as absolutely fundamental to our humanness. We are born to know. But, just as with religion, this inborn mechanism can go haywire, so that it can know many things that are patently untrue. Most of the things people have "known" down through the centuries have been of this nature.

But the epistemophilic drive can also go awry in more subtle ways, in particular, the development of a defensive barrier in the form of a belief that one knows all there is to know. Such a person stops "asking why" at a certain arbitrary point, and then defends that point as being the last word. This is my objection to scientism, which takes the truths that are discoverable on the material plane studied by science and then elevates that plane to the status of all there is to know. Such a mind is functionally dead insofar as the epistemophilic drive is concerned. It will never discover higher truth. As Bion said, "the answer is the disease that kills curiosity."

This brings us back around to the main topic of this post, how to develop a spiritual practice. To our relationship-seeking and epistemophilic drives, I would add a pneumaphilic, or spirit-seeking drive. Is it not obvious that such a drive exists? No culture has ever been discovered that did not develop some collective means to channel this drive into various religious forms and practices. Here again, you could be like Freud and try to reduce the pneumaphilic drive to something more primitive, such as a desire for fusion with the primordial mother. But that is a false and partial view.

This is not to say that spiritual pathology does not exist. It most certainly does. Most any normal person can recognize that in much of contemporary Islam we are seeing florid pneumapathology of the first order. For just as the sex drive and the epistemophilic drive can become perverted, so too can the spiritual drive. The sex drive can become twisted in all sorts of ways--pedophilia, fetishism, radical feminism, etc. So too, the knowledge drive can crystalize into a perverse version of itself--deconstruction, Marxism, most forms of leftist thought, the designated hitter in the American League, etc.

In the same way, the spiritual drive can become a perverse fixation, both in its positive sense (i.e., cults) and in its negative sense (i.e., obligatory atheism, which is a kind of spiritual "color blindness"). One does not have to look far to see this phenomenon, both in its extremely dangerous forms that threaten mankind at large, but also in more subtle forms that harm only the person with the spiritual perversion. A lot of new age thought is of this variety. Just magical thinking, really.

Now back to your specific problem: what to do about a spiritual practice? I will get to that. I don't mean to ramble, but a few additional cautionary notes are in order. As I mentioned, I am reluctant to put myself across as some sort of spiritual teacher. In addition to the reason I cited, one can only advance along the path with an attitude of utter humility. Can you not see how this immediately disqualifies most of the arrogant and hubristic "teachers" claiming to be superior enlightened beings?

Another reason is that spiritual knowledge is not something to be treated lightly or disseminated to people who are not ready for it or will simply misunderstand or distort it. There are penalties for doing so. There has always been a recognition that one must make oneself a worthy receptacle of spiritual knowledge. This is why most traditions insist on a strong foundation of moral principles before one even starts--for example, the ten commandments in Judaism and Christianity, or the eightfold path in Buddhism.

Yet another problem has to do with the fact that each of us is, so to speak, a unique problem of God. This is something that applies equally to psychology. If you have a little psychological knowledge, you quickly recognize that people can be pretty easily pigeonholed into various categories. Obtain more knowledge, and you eventually recognize that it is almost as if a person of any depth is suffering from their own particular psychological syndrome that no one else suffers from. They can only cure this syndrome in their own way. What works for one person will not necessarily work for another.

It is the same way with a spiritual practice. Yes, there are universal truths. But they cannot really be transmitted per se. Rather, they have to be discovered by each individual. It is not like scientific knowledge, which, once discovered, stays that way, and can be passed from mind to mind like an object. Rather, real spiritual knowledge can only be subjectively acquired through personal experience. It must be discovered, not just once, but again and again.

I'm starting to run out of time here, so I'll be continuing with this topic for at least a couple more days. But look at something as simple as a belief in Christ. Dogma is important, as it provides the structure, or "bones" for a belief system. However, unless the dogma is illuminated by the light of personal experience, it will be like a blueprint with no building, bones with no flesh--much less a beating heart that circulates spirtually oxidized blood. It is fine to say that the Bible is the word of God, but one must hear, understand, metabolize, and be transformed by it. And no one--least of all me--can do that for you.

But I think I might be able to help. More tomorrow.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Science Catching Up With Petey: It's a Living Cosmos

It turns out that I don't have enough time to continue the line of thought we have been pursuing together--assuming that anyone has been following along anyway--that line of thought having to do with better comprehending the vital relationship between language, symmetrical logic, and God.

So before getting back to that, today we will briefly venture down another rabbit hole in the cosmos, that one having to do with the mysterious fact that this is a living cosmos. As you initiates know, this was the subject of chapter two of my book, entitled Biogenesis: The Testimony of Life. In that chapter I argued that the universe was not contingent at all, but a necessary consequence of the fact that we are alive and conscious.

That is, our cosmos is uniquely suited for the existence of life and consciousness, to such an extent that if any of the twenty or so mathematical parameters that govern the character and development of the universe were changed one iota, the universe as we know it would vanish, only to be replaced with one that would not be capable of sustaining life or consciousness.

One thing they don't tell you in school about how to have a meaningful existence is: be sure and pick the right cosmos. For out of the infinite number of universes that are possible, only very few will allow life or consciousness to exist.

Let me save our troll some time and say that I am not arguing for a species of intelligent design theory. ID is true as far as it goes, but it is still just another form of scientific materialism disguised as religion. What I argued in my book is that, when we talk about a "relationship" between life and the cosmos, we are dealing quite literally with a tautology, a statement of equivalence. That is, our universe is so narrowly suited to life that, in order to not mislead, we cannot refer only to "the universe," but to something along the lines of "the living universe," or "the universe in the process of coming to life." Ours is exactly what a universe hospitable to life looks like; everything in it points to or implies life, just as life implies it.

From our privileged standpoint of being alive, there is absolutely nothing surprising about the character of the universe, because it had to be almost exactly the way it is in order for life to exist in it. So when we talk about Life as such, we are necessarily presupposing everything that made it possible for Life to exist at all.

However, because of the fallacy of misplaced concreteness, science takes an arbitrary "time slice" of the universe, and points out that life was visibly manifest on this side of the slice, but not on the other side. But they forget that the slice was of their own doing, and that the universe does not know such divisions. We can create such abstract dualisms anywhere we like, but we must never forget that they are just abstractions that we interjected into the seamless whole.

In reality, the universe is nonlocal both spatially and temporally. Who are we to say that a flower is not simply an external organ of a bee, and that a bee is an external organ of a flower? As it so happens, stars are organs of biogenesis. Without them, life cannot exist, as the ingredients for life are cooked in stars that then must explode in order to propagate their ingredients outward. And very few universes are capable of producing stars, much less stars that do us the courtesy of going super nova and spreading their life-giving wealth around the neighborhood.

Anyway, I'm late for work. I just wanted to point out that science is beginning to catch up with some of the inevitable conclusions put forth in my book. However, they are only half way home. That is, they still don't know what Life is. In this regard, they are like an expert watchmaker who can tell you all about springs, gears, and pendulums. But you wouldn't ask a watchmaker to tell you about the nature of time, now would you?

"Nothing is too wonderful to be true if it be consistent with the laws of nature." --Michael Faraday

"Nothing is too freakishly coincidental if it be consistent with a living cosmos." --Petey



*****

Biocosm, The New Scientific Theory of Evolution: Intelligent Life is the Architect of the Universe, by By James N. Gardner (excerpts):

It is, in the view of Columbia physicist Brian Greene, the deepest question in all of science. Renowned cosmologist Paul Davies agrees, calling it the biggest of the Big Questions.

And just what is this momentous question?

Not the mystery of life's origin, though the profundity of that particular puzzle prompted Charles Darwin to remark that it was probably forever beyond the pale of human comprehension. A dog, Darwin commented famously, might as easily contemplate the mind of Newton....

No, the question is more profound, more fundamental, less tractable than any of these. It is this: Why is the universe life-friendly?

.... We have been taught since childhood that the universe is a horrifyingly hostile place. Violent black holes, planets and moons searing with unbearable heat or deep-frozen at temperatures that make Antarctica look tropical, and the vastness of interstellar space dooming us to perpetual physical isolation from our nearest starry neighbors -- this is the depressing picture of the cosmos beyond Earth that dominates the popular imagination.

This vision is profoundly wrong at a fundamental level. As scientists are now beginning to realize to their astonishment, the truly amazing thing about our universe is how strangely and improbably life-friendly or anthropic it is. As Cambridge evolutionary biologist Simon Conway Morris puts it in his new book Life's Solution, "On a cosmic scale, it is now widely appreciated that even trivial differences in the starting conditions [of the cosmos] would lead to an unrecognizable and uninhabitable universe."

Simply put, if the Big Bang had detonated with slightly greater force, the cosmos would be essentially empty by now. If the primordial explosion had propelled the initial payload of cosmic raw materials outward with slightly lesser force, the universe would long ago have recollapsed in a Big Crunch. In neither case would human beings or other life forms have had time to
evolve.

As Stephen Hawking asks, "Why is the universe so close to the dividing line between collapsing again and expanding indefinitely? In order to be as close as we are now, the rate of expansion early on had to be chosen fantastically accurately."

It is not only the rate of cosmic expansion that appears to have been selected, with phenomenal precision, in order to render our universe fit for carbon-based life and the emergence of intelligence. A multitude of other factors are fine-tuned with fantastic exactitude to a degree that renders the cosmos almost spookily bio-friendly. Some of the universes life-friendly attributes include the odd proclivity of stellar nucleosynthesis -- the process by which simple elements like hydrogen and
helium are transmuted into heavier elements in the hearts of giant supernovae -- to yield copious quantities of carbon, the chemical epicenter of life as we know it.

As British astronomer Fred Hoyle pointed out, in order for carbon to exist in the abundant quantities that we observe throughout the cosmos, the mechanism of stellar nucleosynthesis must be exquisitely fine-tuned in a very special way.

Yet another bio-friendly feature of the cosmos is the physical dimensionality of our universe: why are there just three extended dimensions of space rather one or two or even the ten spatial dimensions contemplated by M-theory? As has been known for more than a century, in any other dimensional setup, stable planetary orbits would be impossible and life would not have time to get started before planets skittered off into deep space or plunged into their suns.

.... Collectively, this stunning set of coincidences render the universe eerily fit for life and intelligence. And the coincidences are built into the fundamental fabric of our reality. As British Astronomer Royal Sir Martin Rees says, "There are deep connections between stars and atoms, between the cosmos and the microworld . . . . Our emergence and survival depend on very special tuning of the cosmos."

.... my Selfish Biocosm hypothesis suggests that in attempting to explain the linkage between life, intelligence and the anthropic qualities of the cosmos, most mainstream scientists have, in essence, been peering through the wrong end of the telescope. The hypothesis asserts that life and intelligence are, in fact, the primary cosmological phenomena and that everything else -- the constants of nature, the dimensionality of the universe, the origin of carbon and other elements in the hearts of giant supernovas, the pathway traced by biological evolution -- is secondary and derivative....

This central claim of the Selfish Biocosm hypothesis offered a radically new and quite parsimonious explanation for the apparent mystery of an anthropic or bio-friendly universe.... if intelligent life is, in effect, the reproductive organ of the universe -- then it is entirely logical and predictable that the laws and constants of nature should be rigged in favor of the emergence of life and the evolution of ever more capable intelligence. Indeed, the existence of such propensity is a falsifiable prediction of the hypothesis.

.... The inescapable implication of the Selfish Biocosm hypothesis is that the immense saga of biological evolution on Earth is one tiny chapter in an ageless tale of the struggle of the creative force of life against the disintegrative acid of entropy, of emergent order against encroaching chaos, and ultimately of the heroic power of mind against the brute intransigence
of lifeless matter.

.... we should obviously be skeptical of wishful thinking and "just-so" stories. But we should not be so dismissive of new approaches that we fail to relish the sense of wonder at the almost miraculous ability of science to fathom mysteries that once seemed impenetrable -- a sense perfectly captured by the great British innovator Michael Faraday when he summarily dismissed skepticism about his almost magical ability to summon up the genie of electricity simply by moving a magnet in a coil of wire.

As Faraday said, "Nothing is too wonderful to be true if it be consistent with the laws of nature."

Playing Along the Infinite Shore Where the Eternal Breaks Into Time

Reader Brother Bartleby has posed one of the central questions I have been grappling with in my attempt to formulate a new theology. And when I say "new theology," I don't mean theology per se but perhaps meta-theology. As I mentioned in my book, I am not trying to become a "guru" or invent a new religion. Rather, I'm trying to better understand how the existing ones work when they work and why they don't when they don't. Because they definitely work. Except when they don't. The question is why.

Yesterday I wrote that "The idea is to live fruitfully in the dialectical space between the conscious and unconscious minds," adding that I would elaborate later. But Brother Bartleby can't wait. He asks, "Is this a conscious state to be lived in the present moment (waking hours), a sort of mindfulness, or is this an actual state, say between waking and sleep which when utilized wisely can actually change the trajectory of ones life? Or....? Please elaborate."

Well, that's what I'm working on. One thing I detest about most so-called spiritual teachers is their mystagoguery. Perhaps you've noticed that they are full of beautiful blather until it comes to certain key points around which they become very vague and evasive. Then they might even blame you for your failure to understand or for a lack of sincerity. It's a common guru trick: blame the seeker.

It is similar to a lot of academic writing. If you really understand something, you should be able to explain it in very clear language. But if you don't understand something, then you can always fall back on confusing and portentous language to make people believe that they are just too stupid to understand your rarified ideas. Also, sometimes the ideas are so banal that they need to be dressed up in overblown language to make them appear exotic or elevated. Most contemporary philosophy is of this nature.

But you can have the opposite problem as well. For example, the words of Jesus are very simple and even at times rustic, and yet, they are among the deepest words ever spoken by a human being. Because of their deceptive simplicity, we can think we have understood them when we haven't even begun to plumb their depth. His words are uniquely "unsaturated" on the vertical level, and will mean very different things at different times based upon your own spiritual growth. The words will come down to your level, but you mustn't allow this to fool you into thinking that you don't have to "ascend" in order to deepen your understanding of them. You can deceive yourself into thinking you've understood, when you've only just begun. Most of his statements can be fruitfully pondered for a lifetime, and are not reducible to an unambiguous rational theology, as so many people try to do.

This then brings us back to language. Since I brought up Christianity, I'll stick with that example. What on earth was Jesus up to with his striking use of language? Obviously something very special. He used language almost in a magical way designed to transform the person with ears to hear it. How did he know how to do that? And in our modern, sophisticated way of understanding language, is this critical factor lost on us?

It certainly is. On the one hand, we have literalists and fundamentalists who want to take the words of Jesus as unambiguous communications, as if he is making scientific statements about the material world. On the other hand, we have progressive liberal theologians and Jesus seminarians who dissect and drain his words of their richly mythological dimension, so that they fail in their primary task of resonating with the deeper layers of consciousness.

Again, truth can be deceptively simple. Take, for example, the word "depth" as applied to human affairs. Has anyone ever explained to you what this means, and why such a thing should exist at all if we are nothing but Darwinian machines? As a matter of fact, one of the projects of postmodernism is to attack the very concept of depth with their spiritual wrecking ball, and make everything equal to everything else. There is no higher or lower, no hierarchy of being, just a cosmic flatland of arbitrary meanings that we assign things.

But in fact, there is something ontologically real called depth. Depth is the measure of the vertical, and our souls are the means of measuring it. Furthermore, this is where God is encountered: in the depth, in the deep within of things. If not there, where? On the surface? No, that is the way of graven images. God is found in the "I" and the "AM," but certainly not understood in a narcissistic sense, as if "I am God." Again, words can be so simple that they can deceive us into thinking we have understood them--and what can be more simple than "I am"? But almost no one understands what this means, and if they understood completely, they would be God, wouldn't they?

"The idea is to live fruitfully in the dialectical space between the conscious and unconscious minds." What did Petey mean by this cryptic statement? Is it just the usual mystagoguery? Or will he get on with it and explain himself? "Is this a conscious state to be lived in the present moment (waking hours), a sort of mindfulness, or is this an actual state, say between waking and sleep which when utilized wisely can actually change the trajectory of ones life?"

First off, no, it is not the latter. It is definitely not a sort of hypnopompic state between waking and sleeping, although that state certainly has much to recommend itself and is worth cultivating, as it is an important piece of prime real estate where the waves of the eternal lap ashore into consciousness.

"Is this a conscious state to be lived in the present moment (waking hours), a sort of mindfulness?" That is more like it, although I wouldn't confuse it with the Buddhist concept of mindfulness, because that is a more detached state, when I am talking about a very engaged and dynamic state of engagement. In fact, it is one of the reasons I rejected Buddhism--perhaps because of my upbringing in the Christian west--because I firmly believe that the world is worthy of our being in it, and that "enlightenment," or whatever you want to call it, must take place in the world, not in some detached nirvanic state of bliss. I like a challenge. (And I'm not saying Buddhism isn't right for others.)

For the record, this is the entire basis of Sri Aurobindo's yoga, and what sets it apart from other forms. In this regard, it is much closer to Judaism and Christianity, which unwaveringly regard the world as real and not an illusory condition from which we are best advised to escape: "The object of our Yoga is self-perfection, not self-annulment. There are two paths, withdrawal from the universe and perfection in the Universe... the first receives us when we lose God in Existence, the second is attained when we fulfill existence in God. Let ours be the path of perfection, not of abandonment; let our aim be victory in battle, not escape from the conflict." In other words, the task is to actually embody the higher, to bring it down into the lower, not to flee from life and thereby lose our sense of the divinity in everyday living.

I am going to continue with this line of thought in tomorrow's post, which I am actually going to complete right now, since I have to leave very early Monday morning and won't have time. Don't worry--unlike my competitors, I'm not trying to go Deepak on you and leave you hanging just when we've gotten to the important part. However, do keep in mind our new blogging covenant--that I am trying to figure this out and learn how to express it as I go along. Sort of a mutual discovery. Or just a wild nous chase. We don't know yet.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

God, Language, and Vertical Logic

People want to know: is this or that religion true or false? Does God exist? How much religious talk is to be taken literally, metaphorically, symbolically, mythologically, or allegorically? In order to be religious, do I have to check my brain at the door and surrender myself to an intellectual ghetto of implausible fairy tales and the beastly society of a bunch of credulous, slack-jawed yokels?

Yes, you do.

Just kidding.

If you recall last Saturday's post, I floated the idea of putting the kibosh on this blog, in part because it interfered with my forays into the unknown. As part of the solution to that problem, I've decided to do some of my unknowing in public, so to speak. What I mean is that my commitment to the blog would have interfered with developing new ideas and moving on to the next book. Therefore, I will simply work on some new ideas in full view of your prying eyes.

I remember ten or fifteen years ago there was a film about Picasso, showing how he worked. I didn't see it, but from what I understand, it was filmed from behind a transparent "canvas" made of glass, so that the viewer saw the painter in action while the painting came into being. Now, I'm hardly comparing myself to Picasso--or to any artist, for that matter. But you are invited to take part in this self-indulgent journey, as I attempt to wrest a new book from the formless and infinite void. It may or may not happen, but you'll be the first to know.

Any original book begins with an attitude of abject faith that it is possible for it to be written. At present, I am merely swimming in a sea of provocative hints and clues pointing me toward something that I have not yet actually discovered.

In other words, I am only dwelling in the particulars that may one day reveal the meaning to which they may or may not be pointing and therefore become a book. Most books are presumably written only subsequent to the discovery that it is their purpose to convey. This one begins before, but hopefully during and after, the approaching discovery, as it draws closer and closer.

Although we are surrounded by clues, there is no guarantee that these clues are actually clues, that is, that they are somehow connected to something larger that we do not yet see or understand. What makes me so sure that these are even clues, since a “clue” presupposes a solution to the mystery to which it points? In fact, there is no way of knowing yet whether these are actually clues or just false leads, or worse yet, planted evidence.

Like Columbus, we are embarking on a voyage of discovery in search of an unknown land we feel exists but which we have not yet found. Also, like Columbus, if we wait for the land to be discovered before we set out for it, there is no certainty that it will ever be discovered. And in any event, if not Columbus, then someone must eventually gamble that the New World exists and take the voyage of discovery.

As always, our guiding clue is higher bewilderment, or the ability to appreciate the bewildering existence of clues. Anyone who has ever set about to solve a problem is familiar with the initial stage when you know and yet don't know. You have unconscious but not conscious knowledge--a holy hunch, the sense of a connection among the medley of facts before you that you can't quite apprehend.

We begin this foray into the unknown with a passion for wholeness and a sense of the eternal, guided by the dim foreknowledge that wholeness and eternity are somehow related as space is to time. In this regard, scientific faith is no different from religious faith. Both science and religion serve as “probes” into the unknown. Both involve a passionate commitment to the idea that there is something there to be discovered, something that will reward our passion to understand.

For both scientist and visionary mystic, the leap from a lot of known particulars to their joint meaning--from random appearing clues to their internal coherence--is a leap of imagination. It is not possible to specify a “rule” whereby the leap may be made from the known to the previously unknown discovery, otherwise it wouldn't be a discovery. It is discontinuous. The discovery evolves and extends us into the unknown. But for some reason, these discoveries are accompanied by a distinct kind of joy for which we don't seem to have a word.

So there you go: some unedited, pretentious blather for your Sunday morning amusement!

*****

Now back to the topic at hand: language, God, and the trans-logic of supersensible domains.

In order to begin this discussion, we probably need to go back to Freud's discovery of the unconscious, especially as elaborated by the psychoanalyst Ignacio Matte Blanco, because the unconscious shares much in common with the higher realms of consciousness where God is encountered. In fact, it is my belief that the vertical dimension extends above and below, so to speak.

While Freud ably addressed the "underworld" of the lower unconscious, he mistakenly consigned all religion to that realm as well (some religion most certainly emanates from there, such as most of Islam). But his genius notwithstanding, Freud had no understanding of real religion. Coincidentally, he also had no feel whatsoever for music--it didn't do anything for him. I can't help thinking that these two disabilities were related.

In any event, we can certainly be thankful to Freud for being the first psychic cartographer to map the world of the unconscious. Moreover, he discovered the mode of logic whereby the unrepressed unconscious mind operates.

In other words, the unconscious is not only the realm where repressed psychological content resides. There is also an unrepressed unconscious which is by far the larger part of our being. No matter how "conscious" you are, it will be only a fraction of the unrepressed unconscious, in the same way that your dream life is literally infinite and inexhaustible. The idea is to live fruitfully in the dialectical space between the conscious and unconscious minds, something I will elaborate on later.

In my previous book I discuss "mind parasites," which you may think of as split-off aspects of ourselves that are dispatched to the unconscious. One of the reasons these parasites are so problematic is that, once lodged in the unconscious, they become subject to the eerie unconscious logic that I am about to describe. It is this logic that gives them their monstrous quality, whether experienced as internal persecutors or projected outwardly as, say, Muslims do with their florid anti-Semitism.

In fact, both anti-Semitism and Bush hatred are so bizarre because they partake so liberally of the unconscious logic that literally creates monsters. Nor can someone given over to this kind of logic be reasoned with, because you cannot reason someone out of something they were never reasoned into.

Listen, for example, to this piece of unhinged Cheney hatred written by that intellectual giant, Alec Baldwin, on puffingtonhost yesterday: "Cheney is a terrorist. He terrorizes our enemies abroad and innocent citizens here at home indiscriminately. Who ever thought Harry Whittington would be the answer to America's prayers. Finally, someone who might get that lying, thieving Cheney into a courtroom to answer some direct questions."

This is an example of almost "pure" unconscious logic, identical in tone to the kind of insane rhetoric that comes out of the Arab world. Although the statement appears completely illogical, it actually obeys the strict logic of the unconscious. It's just a different kind of logic. As in the recent discoveries of chaos and complexity theories, Freud's discovery was that apparent irrationality is not arbitrary but ordered: it is patterned irrationality.

That is, according to Freud, unconscious logic obeys five main principles: timelessness, placelessness, non-contradiction, displacement and condensation, and inability to distinguish between imagination and reality. However, Freud had no idea that these same principles also applied to the higher vertical realm of consciousness, what Sri Aurobindo calls the supramental overmind. Rather than spending time explaining how these five principles apply to the unconscious, I'll skip that and explain how they apply to the higher vertical as well.

Religion offers a language through which we may speak of the eternal, or timeless. Remember, eternity is not time everlasting, but timelessness. As I explained in my previous book, time is a function of eternity. In fact, the two are dialectically related, and one is not possible without the other. However, our surface ego, or frontal personality, gives us the illusion that only time exists.

Yet, we always have intuitions of the eternal from which the events of time arise and return. Religion is a way of acknowledging and talking about this, of giving form and substance to this more primary ground of timelessness. It is where we came from before birth and where we are headed after death, but it's also here now. In fact, now is the only place eternity is or has ever been.

Recall that when God reveals his name to Moses, he says that it is, "I AM THAT I AM." Not I was, or I will be, but I AM. When you think about it, there is something very mysterious about this "I" and this "AM." As a matter of fact, there is no science or philosophy that can account for them or explain what they are. They actually are ultimate categories of thought that mere logic can never penetrate. As it so happens, this "I" and "AM" are the slots in the cosmos where eternity comes pouring into time consciously.

Similarly, what did Jesus say? "Before Abraham was, I AM." Also, the Upanishads speak of this in many ways: "aham asmi" (I AM), or "so ham asmi" ("I am he"). The Tao Te Ching too: "Since before time and space were, the Tao is. It is beyond is and is not. How do I know this is true? I look inside myself and see."

I just looked inside myself and realized I'm hungry. To be continued tomorrow.

Good book on the time-eternity dialectic: "The very nature of the world, in its physical and biological aspects, compels us to postulate something other than continuous change, in contrast to which alone that change is possible, something other than time, on which time itself is dependent or of which it is a necessary aspect.... All time and all process imply, and exist only within, a nontemporal totality."



And of course, there is that great genius Alfred North Whitehead: "Wherever a vicious dualism occurs, it is by reason of mistaking an abstraction for a final concrete fact. The universe is dual because, in the fullest sense, it is both transient and eternal... The Universe is one, because of the universal immanence. There is thus a dualism in this contrast between the unity and multiplicity."

Friday, February 17, 2006

Spiritual Reality, Patterned Nonsense, and Coherent Absurdities

In my ongoing discussions with Petey regarding the future of the blog, and in the effort to drive away even more readers, we hit on the idea of discussing aspects of my book that may need some additional elaboration or revision. After all, I probably began writing it in about 1998, and it was mostly finished by about 2002 or so. But it didn't come out until early 2005 because my publisher is relatively small, and I had to wait in line behind other authors whose books preceded mine.

The wait actually turned out to be a good thing, because at the last minute I panicked and realized that the entire Chapter Four wasn't good enough and had to be rewritten. A couple months after I had submitted the final manuscript, I contacted the publisher and asked if it was still possible to make any "little" changes. They said that normally it would be impossible, but that they weren't scheduled to print the galleys for a couple weeks, so I had until then to make any revisions.

You know what they say: "nothing doth concentrate the mind like the galleys," or something like that. So I disassembled the whole thing, having no idea whether I would be able to put it back together in two weeks time. I felt like an emergency room doctor who had made a giant incision right down the middle of the book, with body parts strewn all over the floor of the liberatoreum where I do my writing. That was probably the most focussed two weeks in my life. I was definitely given some kind of transpersonal assistance, whether you want to call it my own unconscious or something higher than that.

The point is that I've had a lot of new ideas since then. In addition, some of the less developed "ideas for ideas" in the book are no longer raw but fully half-baked. Moreover, in order to "make ends meet" in the cosmos--as you know, the book is circular, spanning the entire 13.7 billion year expanse of the cosmos from the primordial nothing to the transcendent Nothing beyond name and form--I had to treat some subjects in a somewhat cursory manner, and regard them as cognitive "flyover country," so to speak.

Also, I would like to address errors in the book, or at least subjects about which I have gained a deeper understanding in the interim. It's not so much that they are necessarily wrong, but when you're talking about spirituality, something can be true on one level but false on a higher level, so it gets confusing. It's like Newtonian physics: it's true on the macro level, but no longer apples at the subatomic level. That sort of thing pervades discussions of religion, which is one of the reasons it can be so misunderstood by both fundamentalists and by intellectuals: both attempt to apply a sort of linear logic that is inappropriate to the spiritual dimension.

Being that the book is literally circular, I originally had the idea of publishing it in spiral form like a rolodex, since it has no beginning and no end, plus I or the reader could simply insert new knowledge and new insights into the appropriate place as they became available. So that's what I'm going to do here from time to time. Think of it not as a rolodex, but a cosmic holodex.

Now, with that prelude in mind, we have recently been touching on the relationship between language and the higher spiritual dimensions of consciousness. One reader seems to believe that no such higher dimensions exist, and that they are a mere trick of language: "If you think that enlightenment is to be revealed through clever wordplay... constructed haphazardly of contradictory statements, you're descending down a path where logic will not guide you, and your conclusions will likewise be unsound... [O]ne wonders whether you haven't permanently crippled your reasoning powers searching for mysterious perpedinculars" (he is referring to what I call the vertical, or the spectrum of consciousness).

However, another reader, Liquidlifehacker, is on the right track when he cites the biblical passage, "In the beginning was the word," noting that this "makes me understand how important the word is, not just that in the Bible but all words because words have power and I know there is power in HIS word. So if we take that one step further, What is a name but a language unit by which a person or thing is known?"

Yes. As I have mentioned before, the world is not made of protons, neutrons, quarks or atoms. Rather, it is made of language. Of course there are radically different languages applying to different domains of the cosmos, but they are all languages nonetheless. For example, the twenty-six mathematical constants that govern the character of the big bang are a language. All math is a language, including quantum physics. DNA is a language. Music is a language. Psychoanalysis is a language that has been developed in the last 100 years to describe the atemporal unconscious, which has a non-linear logic all its own. Poetry and prose are two rather different ways to use language, the former mostly applying to the vertical, the latter to the horizontal.

Human beings acquired language because language is what is. It is not something that we "add" to the cosmos simply because we are sophisticated apes with particularly complex brains. Language is not invented but discovered. Likewise, Spirit is not invented but encountered, partly through the proper use of language.

Now beginning on page 189 of my book, in the section entitled "Unknowing and How to Communicate It: The Hazards of Talking Pure Nonsense," I discussed some of the problems involved in the use of language to talk about what ultimately transcends linear language--the spiritual dimension. Later, on page 204, I briefly discussed one of the obstacles contemporary intellectuals have with religion, in that it generally asks us to believe things that appear frankly implausible, even impossible.

However, I noted that some degree of "belief in the unbelievable" may be a necessary component in deconditioning ourselves to the narrow and restricted consensus reality of our particular culture. I wrote that "Many modern sophisticates shun religion because their misuse of reason informs them that God cannot possibly exist, when the very point of a serious spiritual practice is to discover for oneself whether or not God exists, not through means [read: languages] designed to know other realities, but by utilizing the proper, time-honored methods."

Since writing that section several years ago I have developed a deeper understanding of the relationship between language and spirit, and why religious language is so strange and sometimes incomprehensible to modern ears. Rather than get into a partial discussion of it in this post, I'll elaborate some of my ideas on this over the weekend.

Let me just leave you with this preview: religions are ways of encountering the vertical, of gaining access to it, and of talking about it. If you take religious language and attempt to apply horizontal categories to it, much of it will frankly make no sense, any more than you could take one of Shakespeare's sonnets and reduce it to a statement about the horizontal. For example, "Shall I compare thee to a summer day," might mean, "I think you have a temperature. You are 102 degrees and very sweaty. You better lie down and take an aspirin."

Likewise, a purely rational assessment of religious language will get you nowhere. Scripture is patterned trans-rationality (not irrationality), religion a coherent absurdity, as Joyce called it. Tomorrow and Sunday I will attempt to explain why it must be that way.

*****

People often catch hold of something written by me and give it an interpretation quite other than or far beyond its true meaning and deduce from it a suddenly extreme and logical conclusion which is quite contrary to our knowledge and experience. It is quite natural, I suppose.... it is so much easier to come to vehement logical conclusions than to look at the Truth which is many-sided and whole. --Sri Aurobindo

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Hey Baby, What's Your Caste?

Let me clarify a comment I made yesterday about people belonging to different castes. I did not mean this in an elitist way, and I certainly didn't mean to imply an endorsement of how the caste system was applied in India.

That system actually had a sensible basis. Remember, before the scientific and market revolutions, culture was virtually static. There was no notion of progress; in fact, most cultures thought that the reverse was true--that our ancestors once lived in the mythological "Great Time" of a golden age, but that subsequent generations had somehow deviated from the ideal. The purpose of culture was to try to imitate the ways of the ancestors, otherwise the passage of time would simply lead to more degeneration and chaos.

Obviously human beings all over the world still struggle mightily with the allied notions that dynamic chaos is the source of order and that the application of rigid order generates chaos. Where would the socialist left be, for example, without the primordial distrust of free markets and individual liberty?

In fact, European conservatives are the same way--by and large, they are nothing like the revolutionary conservatives of contemporary America, in that they tend to be elitists who wish to preserve inherited power and privilege (Margaret Thatcher notwithstanding, who was a modern Hayekian "conservative liberal"). Prior to the conservative intellectual movement founded by William F. Buckley in the mid-1950's, American "paleo-conservatives" were similar to their reactionary European counterparts.

Likewise, the Islamists are quite transparent in their desire to impose a caliphate to impose order on the world. They are specifically in revolt against every form of chaos that leads to order and complexity: free markets, democracy, free speech, religious plurality, emancipation of women.

Remember, history is not just horizontal, but vertical. There is a deeply ingrained collective mind parasite that causes human beings to be terrified of disorder and to want to remedy it with rigid solutions applied in a top-down fashion, not just in the past, but today. We are all somewhat susceptible to it.

But in order for human beings to evolve in the post-biological sense, it was necessary for them to break through this particular psychological barrier, which was only accomplished in the Christian West. Before that, human beings were stuck in an evolutionary rut, or world-historical eddy, if you like. But that is the norm--after all, all successful species are basically stuck on a Darwinian treadmill of rigid adaptation.

Now the Hindu caste system was originally based on the banal but accurate observation that individual human beings do indeed belong to different castes--that there are different personality types (for example, consider Jung's typological system of 16 main personality types; see book below). This should surprise no one. It is simply a variant of the idea that "it takes all kinds to make a world." Their mistake was in wedding this idea to the primordial fear of disorder, and creating a rigid system in which one's caste was determined by genealogy instead of inclination.

In a perfectly functioning market system, the same thing will happen spontaneously, as people discover their particular gift, actualize their innate potential, and find their adaptive "niche." (Yes, troll, let me save you some time and say that I realize the system is not perfect.)

Again, the original caste system was based on the idea that a functioning society required very different tasks and skills, and that certain temperaments were better suited than others to discharge those tasks. Warriors, priests, intellectuals, merchants, laborers--all have very different temperaments (in fact, there even appear to be temperamental slaves, but I don't think I'll go there; suffice it to say that there are a great many sheep in the world whose collective energy creates wolves).

It has long been observed that living another man's dharma is a grave spiritual danger. In other words, it is possible for us to get stuck in the wrong caste, so to speak. If this happens, we will never actually be. Rather, we will only seem to be, and our life will pass by unlived before we plunge into the abyss.

Hey, it almost happened to me. When I started college it was as a business major, as I had no earthly notion of what else I might do with my life. I did not know my caste. But I was definitely not a merchant. Thankfully I flunked out after two and a-half years, saving me from a fate worse than death--worse, because it would have been a living death. That is by far the scariest kind of death--hence the universal fear of zombies and vampires, of which there are more than a few in the world. Another man's dharma is not just dangerous--it is death.

It is important to emphasize that our caste is not just a present fact, but a future one. This is another area of confusion. We are all oriented by a ruling idea, and our lives will generally be stationary--even if there appears to be a great deal of movement and commotion on the surface---if we do not search for the way toward this permanent goal, or align ourselves with our highest aspiration.

If someone had told me when I was 10, 20, or even 30, that I was a member of the priestly caste, I would have scoffed at the idea. But that turned out to be the case. It just happens to be what I am temperamentally suited for. There are many people operating as documented and undocumented priests, gurus, holy men and suburban shamans that are not so suited. They are dangerous frauds. But you may know them by their fruits, in the same way that you may know my business acumen by its fruits.

Now, what about humility? Am I saying that the priestly caste is superior? Not at all. Quite the opposite. I think you will find that the person to whom the priestly inclination comes naturally is already humble, whereas the false-priest is full of spiritual pride and vanity. They make outlandish claims and they require followers to confirm their greatness.

These false teachers--Tony "Unlimited Power!" Robbins and Deepak "The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire!" Chopra come to mind, but there are countless others--are somewhat like vampires, feeding on the spiritual substance of their adoring flock. They require the constant flattery of Nobodies in order to feel like a Somebody. The world is full of such characters. Just look! They're everywhere. Their spiritual knowledge never rises above the plane of mere information (usually dis- or misinformation, at that).

Now, my crack about religion being only for the very stupid and very smart probably also sounded elitist. My point was this: there are different kinds of men--emotional men, physical men, intellectual men, spiritual men, and various shades in between. And there is a religion for each.

To put it in yogic terms, for the physical man there is karma yoga, the yoga of action. For the emotional man there is bhakti yoga, the yoga of devotion. For the intellectual man there is jnana yoga, the yoga of metaphysical and philosophical knowledge. And for the spiritual man, there is raja yoga, the yoga of meditation and ascent. They all work, and no one is better than the others, but one can be worse than the others if you are practicing the wrong one.

To cite just one example, many sophisticated westerners such as JWM have difficulty embracing Christianity because in the West it has largely lost its sapiential (knowledge) and transformational components, and has been reduced to a simple fideism of bhakti yoga, or worship of Christ.

But in fact, all of the major religions are analogous to yoga, in that they have a place for all the castes and temperaments. In Christianity, the sapiential-transformational component was never lost in the Orthodox tradition, whereas by necessity it was under-emphasized in the Catholic West due to the exigencies of worldly power and the need for organization and orthopraxis.

But even then, you don't have to search far in Western Christendom to find the most sublime and unsurpassed spiritual wisdom, for example, in the figure of Meister Eckhart. His corpus is impenetrable to those who are not "resonating" at the same spiritual wave length, which is a good thing, because it protects it from becoming the watered-down gruel of mere intellectual knowing and false teaching. Such teachings are only for the trans-intellectual, which is what I meant by my elitist sounding wisecrack. These teachings cannot be understood by the worldly intellect. But obviously, there's nothing at all wrong with the worldly intellect of the scientist or engineer. The world can get along just fine without me, but where would we be without them?

Well, I've probably rambled for too long. Time to leave the slackitareum and earn my keep by the sweat of my brow, like everyone else. Except for all those scoundrels making a living from the postmodern-day Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show.

*****

Almost forgot--my wife is a career transition coach who specializes in helping people who are stuck in the wrong caste, so to speak, find a more spiritually satisfying career. Her book provides a structure to help find your calling if your calling has been calling and you haven't been answering. Her website has excerpts from the book and a link to reviews on Amazon.com:

LeslieGodwin.com

What's your caste?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Alternate Realities: Where's the Rest of Me?

Why does religion always come pouring back in, despite the best efforts of secularists to do away with it? It seems that religion is just like nature, which, as we know, can be driven out with a pitchfork, and yet will always hurry back. It will return for the same reason that the unconscious will always return in a neurotic individual who tries to repress it. You cannot cut off a part of yourself and pretend it doesnt exist. This is the source of a great deal of comedy--the tension involved in pretending to be hyper-rational while the unconscious is leaking in everywhere--like George Costanza or Basil Fawlty.

Science, as we have mentioned in the past, deals with a particular aspect of reality, the quantitative, the outwardly extended universe. Religion, on the other hand, deals precisely with other aspects of reality that are excluded by science--the qualitative and internally extended universe, those inscapes known as the soul.

Traditional cosmologies posit a three-tiered cosmos of matter, life and spirit. Science studies the lowest order, matter, and concludes that only it is ultimately real, a self-negating philosophy that appeals only to the intellectually uncurious and metaphysically blind. Instead of "in the beginning was the word," secular science has its own creation myth that says, "in the beginning was a single blind substance, mighty matter, mother of all, both visible and invisible. All things were made through it, and without it nothing was made. Out of it comes life and the light of the mind. But the material darkness fully comprehends the light, which is just an illusory side effect of whirling matter."

It is said that there is a form of madness that consists of losing everything but one's reason. What does Petey say about materialism and positivism? "If you believe that, you'll believe anything." Which is it? Do we comprehend matter? Or does matter comprehend us? Or does matter comprehend itself? If so, how? That's pretty impressive for mere matter. Can I get some?

In order to study the physical universe, western science drew the distinction between res cogitans and res extensa--between matter and mind. So successful was the enterprise that it eventually reified this methodological distinction into a metaphysical absolute, and then concluded that only the material was ultimately real. This has led to a host of unnecessary philosophical conundrums since then. To paraphrase Whitehead, the universe was reduced on one side to conjecture, the other side to a dream.

But if reality is nothing else, it is One. It is One prior to our bifurcation of it into subject and object, and it will always be One. We can throw out the Oneness with a ptichfork, but it will always rush back in through the walls, up through the floor boards, and down from the ceiling. In other words, the wholeness of the cosmos is ontologically prior to anything else we can say about it. In fact, it is precisely because of its wholeness that we can say anything about it at all. In the miracle of knowing, subject and object become one, but the oneness of matter and mind undergirds this process. In reality there is just the one world that knows itself in the act of knowledge.

When science sets its compass on the face of the deep, the depth disappears. Science tries to confine the universe to its own derivative categories of space, time and motion, but the real uncontainable universe always returns. Life--much less consciousness--will never be reduced to physics. In fact, physics will never be reduced to physics either. This is the real lesson of the quantum world, which leaks like water through any attempt describe what occurs there with the porous equations of linear reason.

Although I am sympathetic to the efforts of intelligent design theorists, ultimately they are looking for God in all the wrong places. Of course the universe is intelligently designed. God has always been self-evident to uncorrupted natural reason. Everywhere you look you will find irreducible information, complexity, and beauty betraying the light of the divine mind. So what? You can study a human brain, but it will tell you nothing about the consciousness of the person to whom the brain belongs--it is not as if you can "know" someone by looking at a CT scan of their skull. You will know a brain, not a person. Knowledge of a person is "inside information"--as is knowledge of God. But you have to be an insider to know that.

There is another kind of truth in the universe that can only be known from the inside, from the within. This within operates along very different lines from the without, and cannot be comprehended by applying the same principles used by science. Religions are very special languages that we employ in order to talk about, understand, and deepen our experience of the greater within of the cosmos.

If we try to talk about this within using the methods and language of science, we will get nowhere. For example, eternity cannot be discussed by reducing it to something within time. If we are going to discuss eternity at all--one of the prime characteristics of God--then we will have to use language in a very special way so as to convey the feeling without reducing it to something merely rational and temporal.

Look at it this way. We live on the shoreline between two worlds, one extending infinitely within, the other extending infinitely without. But actually, we are more like an island surrounded on all sides by the watery deep. Science, you might say, studies the island. The non-dual mystic dives into the ocean and disappears into oneness. But religion plays along the shoreline where waves of the infinite are constantly lapping onto the conscious shore. Religions are ways of talking about what it is like to live on that shoreline between the finite and infinite--which is where we live anyway, crucified, so to speak, on the cross of vertical and horizontal energies.

It is here that we find the meta-cosmic and trans-historical source of time, being and self. As best as I can describe it visually, the cosmos is somewhat like a Klein bottle, which has an inside and an outside but only one surface. However, this Klein bottle is in the shape of a toroid, similar to a donut, except that the hole in the middle is our solid world, while the donut is a whirling process that tosses up temporary forms that arise and pass away, like so many grains of sand on the shore. As such, the conventional world of the senses looks real and solid, but it really is an empty hole. The real action is taking place where the hole meets the Whole and partakes something of its abiding reality.

Or as one wag put it:

In the deep there is a greater deep, in the heights a greater height. Sooner shall man arrive at the borders of infinity than at the fulness of his own being. For that being is infinity, is God. --Sri Aurobindo

*****

Hey, what's spinning on Petey's bong water stained turntable today? Mmmmm, vintage garage psychedelia. Melts in your brain, not on your wrist.