Saturday, April 01, 2006

Noble Raccoons, Trousered Baboons, and Horizontally Marooned

Once again, another puzzled reader who is confused by my darwhiggian politics. How is it possible that I -- your jehovial witness and authorized cosmocrat of the luminous aion, Grand High Exalted Mystic Ruler of the West San Fernando Valley chapter of the International Order of the Friendly Sons and Daughters of the Cosmic Raccoons, a true and faithful brother under the pelt -- can be a non-leftist?

I tried to address this a couple of weeks ago, noting that "some people who enjoy it when I discuss politics are turned off by the spiritual bobservations. But that group isn't nearly as disappointed as those who appreciate the discussion of spiritual matters, only to be outraged when they discover that I am not a left wing moonbat."

Many misguided and covertly superior souls echo the sentiments of one reader, who complained, "political musings seem out of character with a search for self. How and when did that particular journey become politicized?... I respect your spirit-driven posts, but I'm having trouble with the political ones. I don't find it useful to tar myself with either brush. I swing both ways, depending on the issue, and work hard to stay limber."

My short answer was that regardless of whether I am posting about politics or spirituality, my opinions are "of a piece," and follow directly from my understanding of the whole of things. First, spirituality can only proceed on the basis of Truth, and leftism in all its forms is rooted in a primordial Lie. Secondly, spiritual evolution on a mass scale depends upon the proper cultural conditions. The deep structure of Leftism is anathema to these conditions.

In the future, when I get around to it, I'm going to insert a lengthy summary in the sidebar, so I can just refer readers there without having to go around in circles like this. That way, if they read the summary and still don't get it, then they will know that this blog is simply not for them. Our values are utterly polarized and irreconcilable.

It is amazing what people project into you when they disagree with you. Disagreement triggers an emotional reaction that is promptly projected into the person responsible for triggering it. As a psychologist I am well aware of the process, but you never really get completely used to it.

For example, I've never called anyone evil who isn't actually evil. Nor have I ever "dehumanized" people with whom I disagree, unless they have already dehumanized themselves -- such as the Islamists. But this doesn't stop people from accusing me of accusing them of being evil.

For the most part, I am analyzing things from the deepest of deep structures, not on the surface of day-to-day politics. I specifically try to avoid getting involved in the political "tempest of the day," or if so, try to place the tempest in a much larger framework of cosmic evolution.

Looked at in this way, we can say, for example, that Karl Marx was the great anti-Moses who belched forth his unholy and illiberal revelation from the depths of the abyss. I do not say this in a polemical or emotional way. Rather, I say it in a matter-of-fact and literal way. And all forms of leftism may trace their squalid genealogy back to this cunning sorcerer of dysfunctional historical, psychological, economic and religious fantasies that continue to infect leftist thought today.

But in turn, all forms of thought which I oppose may trace their lineage even further back to the primordial origins of time, history, and humanness itself, where events are shrouded in mythology. Myth speaks to us from beyond the horizon of linear history, and tells us about our origins in the vertical. Rumors and stories abound regarding a Primordial Calamity, of some propensity deep within human beings that makes them turn away from the light and proudly embrace darkness.

In my view, the most simple way to conceptualize this calamity is to say that humans repeat the fall every time they reject verticality for horizontality. Many baleful consequences follow from taking the wrong turn down this priomordial fork in the psycho-cosmic road. For example, reduced to horizontality, human beings are indeed descendants of apes, nothing more. It is a merely a difference of degree, not kind. We are monkeys that know a few more tricks, but that's about it.

Talk about dehumanization! There is no one more anti-human than the secular humanist, since he fiendamentally denies our very humanness as the first principle of his philosophy.

However, viewed vertically, the reverse is true: apes -- and a fair number of human beings -- are degenerate and degraded descendants of the Human Being as such, not of Adam the man, the terrestrial belowprint, but of Adam Kadmon, the divine clueprint, the perfect primordial man, firstborn of the naked godhead.

In order to believe in strict horizontality, one must necessarily renounce intellection (higher thought) and artificially enclose oneself in an ultimately absurd and unintelligible wheel of misfortune. But the vertical does not so much disappear as become displaced into the horizontal, so that the cosmic process of evolution is reduced to a pale imitation. You have now been reduced to a hungry ghost that goes by the name of "progressive."

A "progressive" in the colloquial sense is someone who wishes to force his version of horizontal utopia on the rest of us, a progress denatured of its most vital element, the soul of man. It is a two-dimensional paradise where no one goes hungry because there is free junk food for everyone.

As I have mentioned before, the story of Genesis is not about our horizontal origins, but about our vertical origins. You might say that God created the horizontal world in six days. However, he sanctified and blessed the seventh day to remind us that creation is not a self-enclosed loop -- that there is an inscape hatch.

That is, the Creator specifically left a conspicuous hole right in the center of his creation. It is everywhere and it is always here, although there are some more obvious springs dotting the landscape, pleasantly bubbling forth from a higher dimension. I'm looking at one right now, outside my window. Talk about a master painter!

This cosmic sabbath is our means of spiritual egress in an otherwise inescapable prison of meaningless horizontal repetition and circularity. Where would we be without this blessed hole?! It is a miraculous thing to contemplate. And a tragic thing to contemplate those proud and self-sufficient trousered apes who don't know of its existence.

For one thing, their pride and hubris bar them from entry into it. On the individual level, the fall repeats itself in the closed world of the proud little ego, a subjective hell, if hell is understood as eternal existence in the closed circle of materialistic natural selection rather than the open spiral of supranatural election.

The field of nature is a thophany, a meeting point of vertical and horizontal energies. The serpent -- the most horizontal of all beasts -- represents the self-enfolded world of scientistic materialism or Spinozean pantheism or Marxist dialectics.

Its complementary symbol is the tree, archetype of verticality. Unlike terrestrial trees, the Tree of Life has its roots aloft, its branches down below. Or, it is a lotus that blooms in the heart, but whose roots are out of this world. Or perhaps the anti-serpent is a winged-dove that descends from above.

Either way, we are called upon to be as wise as serpents and innocent as doves. I take this to mean that we must not forsake either the horizontal or the vertical. We must be as wise as serpents to avoid being one. In my case, I am exactly as wise as a serpent, since I could once hiss with the best of them.

But how do we manage our descent into materiality without reducing ourselves to bestiality? Moreover, how do we manage our ascent in the vertical without rejecting the gift of holy animality?

Put another way, how do we reclaim and actualize our noble raccoon heritage? For,

In the West and in the East
There's a mighty little beast
For courage there is no other.
When the chips are all at stake
We are proud to call him brother.
So with our noble tails entwined
And a spirit strong of mind
We'll have hearts that cannot melt.
In the forest, in the trees
On the land or seven seas
We're brothers under the pelt.
Raccoons, the noble Raccoons

I think I'll stop now, consult with Petey, give it some further reflection, and be back tomorrow. For clearly, the cosmic evolutionary struggle in which we are engaged comes down to completely incompatible ideas of what it means to be a fully realized raccoon.


Regarding Cynthia McKinney's claim that she has been victimized for "being in congress while black," as usual, Petey has an unusual take. He believes that liberal victimhood is psychologically empowering, because at least it allows the self-proclaimed victim to actively participate in their own subjugation.

It's the best of all worlds, because the person can be a disgraceful human being, like Cynthia McKinney, whose failure is entirely self-generated. But proclaiming yourself victim means never having to recognize that painful truth. Perfect! You oppress yourself all the way to secular godhood, for the victim is the sacred liberal icon. In the liberal world, you are not innocent until proven guilty, you are guilty unless granted victim status.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Lies Made Flesh and Other Problems of Embodied Existence

You can learn a lot from a guy who doesn't have a body. No, not just the content, which may or may not be reliable. But it reminds you that human knowledge is unavoidably embodied knowledge, and having the sort of body we do has a direct bearing on that.

This is why I love modern developmental psychoanalysis, because it is the one science that understands the importance of the fact that we are embodied. In this regard, it actually has an interesting parallel with Christianity, because it is obviously the one religion that emphasizes the fact that ultimate truth is embodied--that "the word became flesh."

But the opposite is also true. If truth can become flesh, so can lies--not just this or that lie, but The Lie. This is the hazard of living in a modified primate body. You see, people still think about the body in premodern ways, as if there is a sharp division between body and mind, and that we consist of a sort of immaterial soul that is implanted into a body. (There is some truth to that, but I don't want to go there for the moment.)

Science continues to study human intelligence in the wrong way. There seems to be a default position that intelligence is simply a result of a complex enough nervous system--as if, through blind natural selection, our hominid brains just became more and more complex, until voila, human intelligence popped out. That is a very unsophisticated, pre-post-postmodern view.

For human intelligence and self-consciousness only came about through a very species specific situation, not simply through genes and brains. Although genes and brains were obviously necessary, they were not sufficient to produce humanness.

The situation without which humanness could not (and cannot) emerge is our neurological incompleteness and plasticity at birth. As infant brains became larger and larger, they began to overrun the ability of our female furbears to give birth to them without dying in the process. In order to survive, mothers had to give birth to babies "prematurely" so that much of their brain growth would take place outside the womb.

It was in the hothouse ancestral environment of infantile helplessness, neurological incompleteness, and utter psychological dependency on caretakers that our humanness emerged--and emerges today. Every helpless baby that comes into the world repeats this process, for better or worse, because much of the outcome of development depends upon the quality of childrearing.

As it pertains to the human ability to "know," one of the fundamental problems is that, for human beings, unreality, magic and illusion are actually the "default" state, while reality and disillusion are only gradually learned (if they are acquired at all). Because human beings are born in a neurologically immature, completely helpless state, we are steeped in illusion and fantasy during the time our brains and nervous systems are being assembled.

Early experience is relatively "hardwired" in, so that the substrate of the human mind is built on the illusion that we are not really helpless and powerless, but that our painful and frightening needs will be magically alleviated through our desires. We are cold, lonely and hungry. We cry. Suddenly we are swooped up, caressed, comforted, and spoken to in a soothing manner (or not). Nourishment appears out of nowhere, converting painful stomach contractions into pleasant fullness, while at the same time we are bathed in the radiance of a soft, enveloping, benign universe (or not).

I was thinking about this just the other day with our baby. Of course, we think of him as "the baby" of the house. But in reality, he is the sovereign King, even God, of the house. Every need is attended to, sometimes even before he recognizes it as a need. His every utterance, no matter how inarticulate or ambiguous, is taken seriously. "Yes your majesty! Are we hungry? Do we wish to be held? Do we have a poopy diaper? Your wish is our command!" That's a very intoxicating experience. You can tell.

Infantile omnipotence is a double-edged sword, because without it, we would live in a frightening, barren and hostile universe, indifferent to our needs, to our very existence. The experience of omnipotence is necessary to our psychological survival, but it can have its own dark side, as some people and groups never get past it.

Given good-enough parenting, we will gradually become “disillusioned” from the idea that we are the center of the universe, that our feelings are urgently important to other people, that life is fair, that it is possible for all our needs to be taken care of--that it is possible for heaven to exist on earth. Under ideal circumstances, we will first have the edenic experience described above, and only gradually awaken from it in a non-traumatic way, as reality seeps in little by little.

For a variety of reasons, other children will never experience this blissful paradise, experience it only sporadically, chaotically and unreliably, or be traumatically exiled from Eden by the premature impingement of reality. For such individuals, there will always be a nostalgic yearning for what they missed, this infantile utopia in which frustration does not exist and desire is instantly converted to satisfaction. A few of these individuals will be lucky enough to obtain lifetime tenure at a major university, but the rest must deal with an unyielding world that does not mirror their unresolved infantile needs.

Back to the idea of our embodied minds. I believe this underlying template of infantile illusion has a lot to do with false beliefs. Not merely false in the sense of “untrue,” because no one can know everything, and it is not possible to get through life without holding some beliefs for which there is no proof or which will later be proven wrong.

What I am talking about is not so much false beliefs as what might be called “motivated stupidity.” These are beliefs that are not only untrue, but could not possibly be true, and yet, are embraced just as fervently as any truth. In fact, one of the giveaways that we are dealing with motivated stupidity is that these false beliefs are held onto more fervently than true beliefs, as if clinging tightly enough to an object will reinstate one's omnipotence.

I think the problem of motivated stupidity especially afflicts contemporary liberalism. President Bush is not Hitler. He is not, as Cindy Sheehan said, "the biggest terrorist in the world." The war in Iraq is not being waged for the purpose of enriching his already wealthy friends. Bush is not spying on innocent Americans. Global warming during the five years of his administration did not cause hurricane Katrina. This is not the worst economy since Herbert Hoover. President Bush is not a racist. Republicans do not want children to go hungry.

As I mentioned in a previous post, it is much more difficult to do battle with a weak mind than a strong one. Weak thinkers embrace their false ideas in a manner disquietingly similar to religious groups who predict the second coming, or the arrival of space ships, or end of the world, but who do not modify their beliefs when the event fails to come about.

In fact, it is a well-known observation that a few of the disappointed may depart from such a group, while the majority only become more thoroughly entrenched in their belief system, defending it all the more vigorously. These are the sad Ghost Dancers, those who believe that if we only wish more fervently, we really can alter reality. Just like an infant can do. Think of "War is Not the Answer," "Give Peace a Chance," and all the other liberal bumper stickers.

What this obviously means--obvious to a psychologist, anyway--is that the primary purpose of beliefs is not necessarily to comprehend reality. Rather, belief systems are superimposed on a deeper ground of emotional need for comfort, predictability, and meaning. There is a deep emotional need for the world to make sense, even if the explanation actually makes no sense.

What sets humans apart from the animals is not just our ability to know reality, but our even more striking ability to not know it--to create patently erroneous systems of thought that we then inhabit, and which actually compromise our survival prospects. No lion ever entertained the idea that it might be healthier to live on grasses rather than flesh. Penguins don’t decide to live near the equator, where it isn’t so cold. But the UN thinks that lots of talks and meetings will make the threat of a nuclear Iran go away. Liberals really think that Saddam and his satanic spawn would never, ever, have obtained nukes.

Only human beings can hold ideas that are completely illogical and self-defeating. In fact, there is no doubt whatsoever that the majority of beliefs human beings have held about the world down through history have been false, often ridiculously so. For example, just consider medicine. Until the early 20th century, the average visit to a doctor was likely to leave one in worse shape, not better. But useless or harmful treatments helped people cope with otherwise intolerable anxiety, and were obviously psychologically preferable to the truth: that no one knew why you were sick or how to cure you.

So there is something about human beings that makes them uniquely susceptible to bad ideas. Therefore, it would appear to be axiomatic that there must be something about bad ideas that is paradoxically adaptive. But adaptive to what? Clearly, they are adaptive to internal reality, to the emotional needs and anxieties of the person who holds them. Leftists don't really want Bush to be Hitler. They need him to be. Desperately. As uncomfortable as it is, it is far preferable to being left alone with their own internal infantile anxieties, with nowhere to project them.

The psychoanalyst Winnicott made the apt observation that "there is no such thing as an infant," at least from the infant's point of view, since the infant is unable to clearly distinguish itself from the mother.

What this means is that human beings are fundamentally a group animal, not just in a social sense, but at the core of our very being. We all harbor the unconscious residue of an infantile matrix out of which our individuality only later emerges. In developmental psychology, this process is known as "individuation," and there are many things that can go wrong on the journey from infantile symbiosis to individuation and mature independence.

One of the things that frequently goes awry is that the drive toward individuation is overcome by the opposite, regressive pull toward fusion and dependence (in its healthy form, this drive to merger allows us, for example, to fall in love). Becoming independent is fraught with anxiety, and can trigger a host of emotional problems in someone with a history of insecure, traumatic, or ambivalent attachment.

A casual survey of history reveals that human beings are a deeply troubled species. Arthur Koestler observed that we err in placing all of the blame on human greed, selfishness, and assertiveness--that is, excess individualism. Rather, he pointed out that the amount of crime committed for personal motives is inconsequential compared to that committed by large populations--that is, groups--in a completely self-transcendent manner on behalf of religion or ideology, king or country. The Islamists are a case in point. Suicide bombers obviously do not selfishly kill for personal gain, but selflessly to advance the cause of their group.

Therefore, as Koestler writes, "the historical record confronts us with the paradox that the tragedy of man originates not in an excess of individual self-assertiveness," but in a malfunction of the affiliative, group tendencies of our species.

Koestler also had the intuition that this had something to do with an excessive "need to belong" triggered by infantile experience, leading to an unquestioned identification with the group, a suspension of critical thinking about the group's beliefs, and a trancelike submission to a powerful parental substitute.

As Adam Smith knew, individuals may be selfish, but they are also self-interested. This makes them rational, predictable, and comprehensible. On the other hand, no one knows how to deal with the individual who has given over his identity to the group. Such a person does not possess an individual mind, but a group mind which is not critical, rational, or predictable. As such, they may react violently to any kind of threat, not just a physical threat, but any questioning of their worldview. A harmless wimp may be transformed into a beast of depravity by identifying with the powerful group, tribe, clan, party or religion.

Leftists such as Cindy Sheehan routinely accuse the United States of being the most selfish and individualistic nation on the planet. Interestingly, this may explain why the United States is, by a wide margin, the greatest force for good the world has ever known. In contrast, countries that have attempted to dissolve individual identity by promoting a regressive merger with the nation/group have been a source of unqualified evil: Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, communist China, Pol Pot's Cambodia, and now Islamofascism.

For that matter, look at the infantile selfishness we see in the recent French rioting. They are essentially rioting to maintain the prerogatives of His Majesty the Baby, who must be loved and cared for unconditionally. You do not fire a baby when he is bad. You don't even punish him. In fact, you have no expectations of him at all. European style socalism does the same thing for adults, creating a giant nursery in which the conditions of infancy are perpetuated. In their imagination, angry babies can "fire" the parents that frustrate their omnipotence. But then you have a problem: for the infant still requires grown-ups to fund and implement the nursery. I don't think the Europediocracy will like it when Muslims gain control of the nursery.

This actually constitutes a large part of the "war on terror": trying, for example, in Iraq, to bring individuation and psychological maturity to a people who have known only infantile merger with the tribe, faith, or "strong man." The task is made all the more difficult as a result of the approximately fifty percent of Americans who are merged together in their own infantile group fantasy of eternal suckling on the inexhaustible teat of mommy government: "Don't bother me, I'm eating."

You can't be French forever. Enjoy it while it lasts:

(photo editing courtesy Dilys & Fishy Art)

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Your Reluctant Astralnaught, Decanting From the Serene of the Climb

So, tomorrow I'm being interviewed for the next issue of What is Enlightenment Magazine? No, that wasn't a question. That's the name of the magazine--What is Enlightenment?, henceforth WIE.

Under the title of the magazine, it says "Redefining Spirituality for an Evolving World." I guess that's where I, your humble and Reluctant Astralnaught, come in.

That is, the next issue is going to focus specifically on the topic of "evolutionary spirituality" in order to provide a context for my cosmic Bobservations. They already gave my book a very gracious review in the Dec '05-Feb '06 issue, and then conducted a lengthy cross examination of me in December--the third degree about the fifth dimension.

But suspicions remain. They now have some followup questions, especially focussing on the topic of cultural evolution within the larger context of cosmic evolution laid out in my book. It's not really fair, because if I had known I were going to be tested, I would have read my book more carefully.

One of my mentors, W.R. Bion, never prepared ahead of time for talks. This is because he wanted anything he said to evolve directly out of O (as discussed yesterday).

In other words, Bion wanted to be subservient to O, so that his words would be a living demonstration of O-->(k). Although this could be a little nerve-wracking going in, my understanding is that O never failed him (he died in 1978, seven years before we met). He would be both apprehensive and excited before a public appearance, because he was just as curious as anyone else to find out what he was going to say.

As this blog has evolved, that is the approach I have adopted. At first, I tried to wrestle with my mind and come up with topics and content by force. But at some point a few months back, I just decided to chuck that purely (k) approach and instead make it a Self-indulgent exercise in O-->(k), or better yet, O-->(n).

That is, like Bion, I never know ahead of time what I'm going to be writing about. Or, if I do, I try not to think about it consciously. Instead, I plant a little seed the night before, and then wake up and see what kind of green cogitation has grown.

It's interesting, because there are a lot of things "I" don't know the answer to. Left to my own devices, I can only produce Astroturf and artificial flowers. But when I just get out of the way and begin writing, the answers come. It's as if, if I want to find out what I think about something, I have to go through the proper channels and formally ask another part of my nonself. Otherwise, I'm liable to get either a predigested answer of some kind, or mere speculation, or no answer at all.

So anyway, for the last interview with WIE, they didn't give me any questions ahead of time, which proved to be a good thing. They were very difficult and challenging questions, and If I'd seen them beforehand, I think I might have panicked a little. Then my mind would have kicked in, closing me off from O. As it turned out, I think I acquitted myself pretty well, but only because I got out of the way and just relaxed and floated downstream on the waters of O-->(k) and O-->(n).

But this time, wouldn't you know it, they gave me some of the questions ahead of time. So now my self-important mind wants to get all involved. Like Inspector Clouseau, it has barged onto the stage saying "Don't worry. I am in control now. Nobody move!"

Here are some of the questions:

1. The horizontal and the vertical--how this relates to the four singularities (matter, life, mind and spirit) and how it is expressed in human beings and cultures.

2. The relationship between the evolution of childrearing practices and the integration of the human psyche--within this larger cosmic context. The progression through human history.

3. How this integration makes the vertical more transparent or present within human culture.

4. The pluses and minuses of the birth of individuality.

5. The significance of the fact that the cosmos is intelligible to us.

I guess that even if O vanishes and becomes inaccessible, I could still tackle those questions in an external way. However, it just won't be the same if it becomes an exercise in mere (k).

One thing I am very apprehensive about is the whole idea of evolutionary spirituality of which I am now apparently one of the spokesmen. There is a healthy way of looking at this and an unhealthy--not to say heretical--way of looking at it, and the differences between the two can look quite subtle, but they are actually quite profound and incompatible. In fact, it is possible that I am treading such a razor's edge on this matter, that I may well be the only oddvocate for my particular position.

Reader Mikalm left a very interesting and relevant post yesterday on the subject of evil. It is from the prologue of a classic horror story entitled The White People, by Arthur Machen. One of the characters, Ambrose, says the essence of sin is "in the taking of heaven by storm.... It appears to me that it is simply an attempt to penetrate into another and higher sphere in a forbidden manner. You can understand why it is so rare. There are few, indeed, who wish to penetrate into other spheres, higher or lower, in ways allowed or forbidden. Men, in the mass, are amply content with life as they find it..."

Although the achievement of holiness requires great effort, it "works on lines that were natural once; it is an effort to recover the ecstasy that was before the Fall. But sin is an effort to gain the ecstasy and the knowledge that pertain alone to angels and in making this effort man becomes a demon.... The saint endeavours to recover a gift which he has lost; the sinner tries to obtain something which was never his. In brief, he repeats the Fall."

Much to ponder there.

Ambrose is talking about the razor's edge alluded to above. The "evolutionary spirituality" of which I am the apparent spokesperson can involve "taking heaven by storm" in the forbidden way, or it can "work along lines that are natural."

One way involves a reversal of the fall; the other a recapitulation of it, with bells on. One path involves humility, surrender, and profound respect for tradition; the other, a Promethean violation of protocol, crashing through the gates of heaven with your transdimensional, ego-armor plated Hummer, unregenerate mind parasites in tow--or worse yet, behind the wheel. It happens. But only constantly.

Thus, an ascent (into grandiosity, inflation and intoxication) can be a descent, just as a descent (into humility, obedience, sobriety, and spiritual emptiness) can be an ascent. This is where the great danger of "evolutionary spirituality" can lie. Walking its edge can end in a hooray-zorrection. Or, it can result in a narcissistic, new-age razing of traditional hierarchy.

Blending cosmic evolution and traditional metaphysics is not as easy as it looks. I want to make real religion relevant to people and to situate it within the drama of psycho-cosmic salvolution history--to be able to discuss theology within the framework of total reality, leaving nothing out. But at the same time, I want to go through authentically otherized channels, with my proper peaceport and unknowculations in order.

In my view, human beings are only properly themselves when they are stretching beyond themselves--that is to say, evolving, transcending--toward a fulfillment that cannot be possessed or perhaps even realized in this lifetime. We must collaborate with, and feed ourselves on, a Truth that is both anterior to us and ahead of us, drawing us toward it. That's the evolution I'm talking about: Same wine, new bottle, Old One, same battle. Otherwise you may be bootstrapping your way to bootleg spirits.


Regarding the immigration debate, Petey has an unusual take. He is concerned that with all this cheap labor, food doesn't cost as much as it is supposed to.

As a result, people eat too much and become obese, especially Hispanics, who are in the midst of an epidemic of Type II Diabetes and other health problems that result from obesity.

Therefore, Hispanics are the biggest victims of Hispanic immigration, because they actually get sick and die from too much cheap food. Which then puts a strain on the healthcare system....

Food was fried, people died!

He also doesn't get the whole "demonstration" thing. After all, a demonstration is simply a pseudo-event, in that it has no other purpose than to be noticed by the liberal media. Therefore, the media should not cover them, because doing so gives the pseudo-event the illusion of reality and substance, and makes the media complicit in conjuring a false reality instead of simply reporting on the real one. In the real reality, millions of people are constantly demonstrating by simply contentedly living their lives outside the glare of the media. As a result, they don't exist.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Being and Nuttiness: O, Where Does it End? (3.19.08)

If we could only somehow get to the bottom of it all. Isn't that what we're trying to do? Have a direct, unmediated encounter with reality, whatever that is?

Science has a lot of answers. But only to very narrow and specific questions. If you ask the wrong question, you get no answer at all, like, "Why are truth and beauty so intimately related?" Worse, some questions just generate paradox, like, "What was before the big bang?"

Various sciences abstract from the meaning of being as a whole, which is only possible because truth emanates from being, a truth which we may know. How is that possible? Science can never explain the existence of the truth-bearing scientist, any more than you can give birth to yourself.

Sciences develop very technical languages to convey this truth of Being--for example, the language of quantum mechanics or the hyper-sophisticated coding of the human genome. But again, these languages aren't Being itself. The map is not the territory. The human genome project is not alive, and you cannot make a cosmos out of mathematics.

Being just is. We can describe it any way we like, but our description can never exhaust the infinite ocean of Being. It perpetually flows into our little vessel of human knowing without being diminished one iota.

In my book, I use the symbol "O" to stand for the infinite and unknowable ground of ultimate reality that undergirds our existence. It can never be known. We can only "know about" it.

In fact, we can know many things about O, just as I can know many things about you. But I can never know you the way you know you in an unmediated way, from the inside. Only you can have this kind of "inside information" about yourself.

Thus, observational science proceeds in the direction of O--(k), while logico-deductive science proceeds in the direction of (k)-->O. (k) is the realm of everyday dualistic knowledge about O. This knowledge may be known objectively and passed like an object from mind to mind.

For example, the theory of natural selection is (k) about the ultimate unknowable mystery of the living O. It is not to be confused with O. For surely, O is alive, and yet, it is hardly a biological object.

The theory of natural selection can never, ever tell you how O evolved to the point that it could hypothesize and know a truth about itself, any more than musical notation can account for the existence of music.

Music is completely unperturbed by all efforts to capture and contain it. All the music that has been produced in the history of the world has not yet made a dent in it.

Music will continue to flow forever, just as will language. Language will never explain the ceaseless creativity language. It just flows and flows and flows, regardless of your theory or system. It is truly infinite, since it is one of the primary modes of O. "The Word" was with O from the beginning, and the beginning is always now.

Science must satisfy itself with (k), which is fine. Obviously, (k) has its place. Since most cultures revolve around (-k), I thank God that I live in a place that mostly honors (k). Any method of science is only correct to the extent that it submits to O and allows itself to be molded and determined by the object it is studying.

But for most of history--and in much of the contemporary world, in particular, the Islamic world--this direction is reversed, and reality is determined and molded by (k), which automatically makes it (-k). In the case of the Islamic world, it is overrun with (-n), which never touched O to begin with.

Worse yet, when (k) replaces O, one then lives in the parallel loooniverse of -O, which is where so much of contemporary leftist wackademia resides. Whenever you deny O, you will simply replace it with a -O.

In fact, you may even elevate yourself to O, as do so many secular fundamentalist fanatics. They do this in both trivial and profound ways, from dictating how the infinitely complex system of the economy should be governed, to making it against the law to discuss O in public schools.

We in the West suffer from the opposite problem that afflicts the (-k) Muslim world. Unfortunately, our culture does more than honor (k). Rather, it elevates it to the highest. The secular world tries to eradicate O and replace it with mere (k), which automatically places you in a counterfeit world at least one degree removed from reality.

Religions, properly understood, attempt to restore our primordial relationship with O. Fundamentally, they contemplate the holy and manifest mystery of Being by trying to enter it directly--not talk about it but from within it. And when they do talk about the mystery, it is not in the manner of (k)-->O (or at least it shouldn't be). Rather, the direction is reversed, and it is O-->(n).

(n) is not to be confused with (k). To take just one obvious example, it would be a grave error to reduce the words of Jesus to mere (k). Rather, Jesus spoke in almost pure (n). You will note that Jesus used no technical terms at all. Obviously, specialized (k) can be quite technical. Most of it is well over--or under---my head.

But (n) is often quite homespun and plain--even rustic--sounding. The Tao Te Ching, for example, contains no technical terms at all. Nor do the Upanishads or the Talmud. Nor, for that matter, did most of the great philosophers of history employ any technical language: Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Schopenhauer. Only when (k) started to become confused with O did we see this great confusion in philosophy, a confusion that pervades the contemporary academic world.

In fact, sad to say, contemporary philosophy has detached itself entirely from O. It now consists of nothing more than (k) about (k), which, suffice it to say, is merely (-k) as it pertains to metaphysics, which is the science of the Real.

That is, if revelation represents O-->(n), metaphysics is nothing less than (n)-->O. The latter is not possible without the former. Without genuine O-->(n), metaphysics will just be an intellectual parlor game, as in the grotesque mystagoguery of a Heidegger. As it pertains to O, plain speaking is the mark of authenticity. Problems only arise when people confuse the plainness of religious language with mere (k).

Fundamentalism in any form--whether secular or religious--is the reduction of O to (k) or (-k).

The world of (k)-->O is a barren one that is unfit for humans. Being spontaneously gives itself to us, but in order to appreciate that, we must adopt an attitude of receiving. If we do not maintain this receptive attitude, the world cannot open up and give of itself from within--within to within, alone to alone (or Allone to a lone).

This is a love relationship. It is phil of sophia, a love-filled longing for the Real. Love opens up the world. Or rather, allows us to appreciate the Love, Truth, and Beauty that are just there. Why are they there? It is a mystery to be savored, not a riddle to be answered.

For as the Upanishads tell us, the universe is a tree, its roots aloft, its branches down below. And as Christianity teaches, it is a Tree of Life for those whose wood beleaf.


I think I will start a new feature on the blog, that is, monitoring some of Petey's far-flung activities. He's all over the blogosphere, dropping little notes here and there. (Sometimes he has to do it under my name, because he doesn't have his own password.)

He wants me to call it "Petey's Corner," but I challenged him to come up with something better.

I notice that Petey left a pointed comment on Dr. Sanity's blog yesterday, regarding her suggestion that the Left declare itself a religion. He said,

"I like this idea, since liberals are halfway there. After all, they already make a god out of their irreligion. It would be just a small step to make a religion out of their godlessness.

"Of course, being a godless irreligion, liberalism has no god, only demons. Plenty of them, from Alar to Zionists.

"And the motto of the N.Y. Times would have to be, 'There is No God, and We are Her Mouthpiece'."

In fact, Petey also commented on the Muslim version of the Vagina Monologues. It's a very short play. Just one word: "HELLLLLLLLLLPPPPPPPPPPP!!!!

Petey doesn't understand why the left is obsessed with collateral damage in the Muslim world, but couldn't give a hoot about the far more widespread clitoral damage.

Today, Dr. Sanity has a song parody of "I'm a Lumberjack and I'm Okay," by Monty Python ("We're the Democrats and We're Okay). Petey had the effrontery to add a final verse of his own to the Maestro's offering:

I hug the trees, I wear high heels
Suspendies and a bra
I wish I'd been a girlie
Just like ex-Pres' Jimmah'

Of course, Petey does not intend to question the masculine sexual power of Hillary Clinton. For one thing, he agrees with Sharon Stone that it's way too threatening.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

All Along the Watchtower

Perhaps we should pause here a moment and reflect on the notion of "ascending into your watchtower" and pondering "how and whence the robbers try to steal your grapes."

Ah, but the grapes! That's where I had the mind parasites cornered. They laughed at me and made jokes, but I proved beyond the shadow of a doubt, and with cold geometric logic, that a duplicate key to my watchtower did exist. And I'd show you that key if they hadn't bribed Petey. I know now that he was trying to protect some light-fingered hobgoblin from the vertical world... Naturally, I can only cover these things from memory...

What? Where was I....

Oh yes. Our fall is literally (that is, metaphorically) a fall into horizontality, from eternity into time, from unity to multiplicity, from concentration to dispersion. It therefore follows that "ascending" is synonymous with undoing or reversing each of these things.

As Hieromonk Damascene describes it, "The spirit is immortal being and thus partakes of time-transcendence; while the lower soul is tied to earthly time. The spirit, in experiencing eternity, abides in stillness; while the lower soul is involved in action that is bound to time."

He goes on to say, "As we repeatedly catch ourselves descending to the level of thought (the realm of action in time), we can call ourselves back to the level of spirit (the realm of stillness in eternity). Later, through continual practice, we will be able to watch the thoughts coming, trying to gain admittance into our minds by stealing our attention."

The parallels with what Sri Aurobindo teaches are almost exact. For him, the fundamental approach to building your watchtower involves 1) aspiration, 2) rejection, and 3) surrender.

Aspiration may be conceptualized in different ways, but if you are a Christian, it would involve constant recollection of, and opening to, the divine grace--sitting calmly and quietly and literally (that is, literally) drawing upon that energy. Depending on your personality, you may concentrate inwardly, in the heart center, or upwardly, above the head. Some people may think of the heart as a throne where Jesus resides. Or you may think of the spirit "descending like a dove" from above.

"Rejection" is a form of discrimination. Ultimately it involves discerning between reality and appearance, between truth and maya. But at first, it is simply the mundane task of driving a wedge between ourselves and our lower thoughts, of realizing that what you think is none of your business.

As one of the greatest authorities, St. Theophan the Recluse, writes, "Little by little you will separate from your thoughts” and “find that you have strayed far from your first-created image." He further points out that the lower mind does not "steal our grapes" in a straight forward manner, but usually through thoughts that then give rise to other desires and passions.

Thus, St. Theophan recommends that we do not attempt to get involved or argue with these thoughts, because this will simply bind us to them.

In this regard, Hieromonk Damascene writes that "Struggle against thoughts is vain and futile. It is enough simply to observe the thoughts as they arise," and to "let them go without reacting to them or following them.... A thought cannot exist long under the light of direct, objective observation. If we do not align our will with it, it naturally disappears." In short, "resist not evil" means not struggling against thoughts but rising toward our Source, where they cannot reach.

When Jesus says "take no thought for the morrow" or "without hating your own life you cannot be my disciple" he is talking about the need for the ego to commit cluelesside. "What adults often consider happiness is in reality the emotional excitement of the ego; while a lttle child's happiness consists in the simple, selfless joy of being alive.

When Jesus told each person to 'deny himself' and 'lose his life,' he was not saying to obliterate the conscious mind. Rather, he was saying to purify it by casting off the ego that has grown on it like a parasite."

The ego has a kind of "external coherence" that is held together through things such as status, desires, possessions, a few ruling ideas, and other circumstances. But building your watchtower involves achieving a kind of "internal coherence." It is easy to tell when someone is speaking from the external ego vs. the interior Self.

Most of the politicians, pundits and talking heads you see on TV are of the former variety. Their minds are like little tape libraries that play only prerecorded messages. It is an entirely different experience to be in the presence of someone who is speaking from a deeper and more coherent center of the Self.

Any authentic guru or spiritual teacher will naturally be of the latter type. Think of it this way: there are causes that exist within the horizontal realm and causes that exist within the vertical. Horizontal causes are the "wisdom of the world," but each of these causes is counterbalanced by causes moving in the opposite direction. It is a world of exciting "heat" rather than elevating "light," but most people apparently take this world for reality.

But genuine vertical influences operate in a topdown manner, and do not cancel each other out. From what we have heard from the wise, building your watchtower involves gathering and assimilating these vertical influences until a sort of "magnetic center" begins to grow. It has the dual capacity of both deflecting the horizontal influences and drawing upon the vertical.

Living your life in this manner is something like riding on imaginary rails, a sort of subtle magnetic field that can't be seen but can be felt. I can only reemphasize that it is critical to have some kind of daily contact with a person--whether living or "dead," it doesn't matter--of the vertical type. In reality, you must form a relationship with such an individual. Why? Because they have a "magnetic center" that is stronger than your own and draws you toward it, into their harbor.

Me? Yes, I have formed such a relationship with a vertical being who only just recently fell to earth. This little fellow is trying to teach me everything he doesn’t know, before he forgets it.

Like the difference between dogs and horses:

Or the bottle right in front of you is always the best one:

And getting into someone's drawers can be entirely innocent fun:

(photo cropping courtesy dilys)