Hallucinations of Truth
Science, of course, proceeds on the basis that the cosmos is ultimately a closed system. While there may be local entities that temporarily escape that fact and become open systems--such as biological organisms--in the end, it is all nothing more than a brief and futile reprieve from the iron hand of entropy. From death you arose and to death you shall return.
It's funny how science starts out with such admirably modest aims and methods, but soon makes such grandiose pronouncements. I yield to no one in my respect for science as science, but at the same time, when philosophically unschooled scientists start leaping to unwarranted metaphysical pronouncements, we should all be concerned. Through a sleight of language, science doesn't just replace religion, it becomes a religion. And a rather lame one at that.
The universal affirmation--not assumption, but subjectively verifiable testimony--of various saints, sages, and mystics down through history is that the cosmos is not a closed system, but that it has an "exit" and "entrance" through which various energies flow.
Properly understood, religion is nothing less than pure metaphysics. However, it is generally presented in such a way that the metaphysics must be "unpacked" by the intellect--as I have said before, not the debased intellect as we understand it today, but by what goes by different names in different traditions: the nous in Christianity, the buddhi in Vedanta, the ruah in kabbalah, or the psychic being by Sri Aurobindo (not to be confused with "psychics" seen on Larry King).
Properly understood, there is no conflict at all between science and religion, because they are describing different planes of being. You might say that science is the religion of the ultimate object while religion is the science of the ultimate subject.
Now, once you acknowledge the vertical in any form or fashion, you have left the horizontal behind as any kind of comprehensive, all-encompassing explanation of existence.
For example, if you acknowledge the existence of free will--which, by the way, some people don't... then again, they have no choice--you have already conceded that we move and have our being in a mysterious "hole" in creation, a hole known as the "now." By all rights, this "now" should not exist at all.
Einstein was particularly baffled by its existence, to such an extent that he thought the present moment in which we exercise our free will was only a stubborn illusion. This is an example of how science reaches a metaphysical dead once it begins to ponder the vertical.
Likewise, from the standpoint of science, Life Itself--the vertical doorway out of the material cosmos--can really be nothing more than a very rare and unlikely pattern of matter. Similarly, consciousness--the vertical pathway out the lifedoor--can only be an ephemeral and meaningless side effect of cellular activity.
If this is true, then scientists--not to mention scientific "truth"--is merely a meaningless side effect of matter--just smoke driven by wind. The scientist wants to give you the truth, as if he is speaking from a privileged vantage point of verticality, above the material fray. But how can he be? If he wishes to be consistent, he must concede in all modesty that matter can't really know anything, much less the truth about itself.
Among other things, religions are vertical escape hatches from the grinding ineluctability of mere animal existence. For example, Moses' horizontal dash (HT: Lisa) out of Egypt was in fact a vertical one, leading the Israelites from servitude in the horizontal wasteland of Egypt into the possibility of a higher life in the unknown vertical desert.
Similarly, Jesus said "I am the door." The door? Yes, and "if anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and find pasture." Pasture? Yes, and a shepherd. And a flock. To those who say there is no vertical pasture, we bleat to them: BAAAAAAAH. Humbug.
Sri Aurobindo said that the aim of the spiritual life is to lay open "a gate of escape out of the vicious circle of our ordinary human existence." Frithjof Schuon wrote that "the human state is a gate of exit," even "the only gate for the terrestrial world," the very portal "through which all of creation can pass on its return to God."
Interesting. So in some sense, humans are not just in the vertical. Rather, we are of the vertical. It is somehow what we are in our essence. Or, looked at in another way, take away the vertical and what is man? A rather pathetic beast, really--a monstrous accident with the added privilege of frantically scuttling about in illusion and self-deception until returning to that greater reality called Death.
It is true that the illusory time of horizontal physics is a meaningless line. But the metaphysical time of cosmic and spiritual evolution is the open spiral. How does a spiral come about? It is the product of circular growth in two dimensions: horizontal and vertical.
Science deals only with repetition. Without the vertical element, time, no matter how long, can produce nothing truly novel. It can just combine and recombine in a linear or cyclical way. But it certainly cannot account for the startling ontological discontinuities represented by the leap from matter to life or from life to mind. It can rearrange the furniture, but cannot explain how we go from one ontological floor to the next.
The only way you can really believe this horizontal nonsense is if your own life has become utterly linear, circular, and closed off to the vertical. Then it is a philosophy that makes a great deal of sense. Plus it is an excellent metaphysical defense mechanism, because you have an airtight explanation for your own vertical Failure to Launch. If it's impossible, why bother? Indeed Horizontal Man is superior to Vertical Man, because at least he does not live in the comfort of fanciful delusions about nonexistent vertical realms!
Let's just suppose that there are some beings who have ascended very far indeed into the vertical. They have left behind compelling testimony and vivid descriptions of what they have encountered there. Furthermore, there is a striking degree of what is called "inter-rater reliability" between them, in that their descriptions can be correlated and compared and found to have broad similarities.
Of course there are individual differences, for the same reason that early explorers of America returned with different descriptions. After all, one might have landed in conservative South Carolina, another in liberal Massachusetts. But still, there was an ocean... there was a ship... there was wind... there were beings and fauna of a different order. We weren't in Europe anymore, Toto.
Let us further suppose that these vertical explorers are worthy of our veneration. As a matter of fact, for some of us, this veneration comes quite naturally and spontaneously. It consists of such things as respect, gratitude, awe, and even love. To our surprise, something happens as a result of this veneration. By dwelling deeply and meditatively in the words of one of these beings, we experience a presence. No, not a ghost, a vision, or an apparition, but just what I said: a presence. A magnetic presence.
If these nonlocal beings are a gift, how do we open their presence? More discussion of nonlocal operators tomorrow.
Petey was discussing the controversial new Indonesian edition of Playboy that has Muslims all hot and bothered. Apparently, it shows two Muslim women, you know, doing it.
There's also a sexy layout of Ms. Pakistan in a two-piece bathing suit: a burqa and a snorkel.
But it's not all fun and frivolity. There are some serious pieces. For example, there's an exclusive excerpt from Mrs. Arafat's new autobiography, A Goy Named Suha. Plus advice on how to go about killing your daughter if she ever appears in the pages of Indonesian Playboy.