Saturday, April 08, 2006

Hallucinations of Truth

Either the cosmos is a closed system or it is an open system. Either it can be comprehended fully "within itself," or, like everything else, it can only be understood in reference to something else.

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.

Yeah, driving!

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.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Friendly Nonlocal Operators Standing By, Ready to Assist You (4.18.10)

Occasionally I will let slip a cryptic comment in passing and then get requests from readers to elaborate. That's good. It shows that someone is paying attention. As I have said before, I don't want to be like my competitors, and go all wobbly around the key points that would unlock the whole darn mystery.

A few readers have asked me to expand upon my description of the "friendly nonlocal operators who always standing by, ready to assist you."

Contrary to popular belief, the divine does not govern by authority or force, but by attraction. If people would just realize this point, it would clear up a lot of misunderstandings.

For example, yesterday I heard a comment from one of the family members whose spouse died on 9-11. She said something to the effect of "my God died that day" because he didn't intervene to stop the planes from hitting the buildings.

But looked at from the Christian point of view (which we seem to be focussing on lately), this is not surprising. After all, even God is reduced to a state of powerlessness and is crucified within history. In other words, even God submits to the rules of the universe he made. However, in so doing, he tries to become an "attractor" and draw men toward him.

In fact, in the Christian view, this ultimate case of submitting to history is the very gravitational "center" of history--it is what history was leading up to and the luminous point from which all subsequent history flows. It is the mysterious axis around which the very cosmos revolves.

This is in complete contrast to the Muslim god, which is in fact a god of power and force. Everywhere it has appeared, Islam has been forced upon people through violence and coercion. In the case of Christianity, it spread like wildfire throughout the Roman Empire, because when people heard the story, they were mysteriously attracted to it. In the case of Islam, it spread because people were attracted to the idea of keeping their head attached to their body.

The worship of power is the source of all idolatry. Thus, let's not pretend there haven't been Christian idolaters. It's just that the worship of power is a human flaw, not something intrinsic to Christianity. Jesus emphasized this point time and again: "the meek shall inherit the earth," "blessed are the poor in spirit," "blessed are you when they revile and persecute you," etc.

Even Genesis emphasizes this point. At first, Adam lives in spontaneous obedience to the God-attractor. The fall represents an act of willful disobedience--of turning to another center of "attraction" represented by the serpent.

The difference between "dark magic" and "sacred magic" is that in case of the former, the individual attempts to arrogate spiritual powers to himself, whereas in the latter, the individual submits to powers that exceed himself. One is achieved through force of will, the other through purity of will.

Truth, Love, and Beauty cannot be obtained through force. You cannot force someone to love you. Nor, for that matter, can God force you to love him. Why would anyone want to be loved through force, anyway?

In the realm of the vertical, "attraction" plays the same role as gravity in the horizontal. According to my anonymous friend, "the domain of our freedom itself, our spiritual life, shows the real and active presence of gravitation of a spiritual order. For what is the phenomenon of religion if not the manifestation of spiritual gravitation towards God--i.e., towards the center of spiritual gravitation of the world?"

He goes on: "Now, the domain of freedom--the spiritual life--is found placed between two gravitational fields with two different centers. The Gospel designates them as 'heaven' and 'this world,' or as the 'kingdom of God' and the 'kingdom of the prince of this world.' And it designates those whose will follows or is submitted to the gravitation of 'this world' as 'children of this world,' and those whose will follows the gravitation of 'heaven' as 'children of light.'"

Now, one of the things you must cultivate in your spiritual practice is the ability to sense this "spiritual gravity." Just as your body has proprioceptors that help to orient you in physical space, we also possess spiritual receptors that help to orient us in vertical space.

If you develop an inner ear problem, you will become dizzy and disoriented in space. Likewise, if you have an inner eye problem, you won't be able to sense spiritual attractors and to make your way about the vertical.

Imagine, for a moment, what the world would be like if we lacked such organs of spiritual reception. There would literally be no up and down, no high and low, no good and evil, no truth or falsehood. The entire world would he like academia, a horrifying thought.

One hardly has to imagine this spiritually weightless, topsy-turvy condition. The world is full of horizontal barbarians--sons of the earth--who are not oriented around any attractor above their own passions. They relentlessly make raids on the vertical, the only way they know of its existence.

An extreme case would be the nazis, who worshipped a god of pure will, of force, similar to the religious fascists with whom we are presently dealing. In the case of the Islamists, just consider the god to whom they are attracted: it is a purely terrestrial god who promises 72 virgins and other earthly delights to the "martyr."

Consider their misuse of the word "martyr" as someone who, through the force of his perverse will, murders as many innocent human beings as possible. The Christian--or Jewish--martyr (which means "witness," not "suicide bomber") is instead an I-witness of verticality to whom we are drawn by their living testimony--say, dancing and singing on the way to the lions.

Remember the famous story told by Elie Wiesel of the two men in the death camp? One asks to the other, "where is God now?" He responds by pointing to a child hanging from the gallows. One wonders: is this a thinkable thought in spiritual logic of the Muslim world?

We've barely gotten started on the subject of those friendly nonlocal operators alluded to above. We will probably continue with this attracive topic for a few days.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Fool Who Persists in His Folly Will Become Wise... I Hope

One of the reasons I am somewhat reluctant to offer very specific spiritual advice is because different personality styles require different paths and prescriptions. A path that is easy and comes naturally for one person might be impossible for another.

In my case, for better or worse, I apparently have a somewhat unique personality style, so I hesitate in proffering general spiritual advice to all and sundry. But at the same time, I would very much like to do all I can to assist people who are genuinely motivated to grow spiritually.

Partly it is a problem of, you know, your orientation. No, not that orientation, but your spiritual orientation. For while the former is a dubious construct with much political but little scientific justification, the latter is definitely a result of heredity. Specifically, it is a reflection of your "vertical DNA."

In my case, I believe I am a "born mystic." Now importantly, this is not to say that I was a born "realized" mystic--an avatar. Nor is it to make the claim that I am some sort of "realized master" today. What it simply means is that this is my innate orientation, inclination, or "bent." It comes as naturally to me as, say, basketball came to Michael Jordan or the trumpet to Louis Armstrong. This does not mean that such individuals don't have to practice in order to realize and hone their gift. But it does mean that they have a certain "head start" in whatever area the gift lies. It also means that others will have to work much harder to attain what comes naturally to one with the gift.

This, by the way, is why great athletes are rarely good coaches. A good coach must be a teacher, but for a truly great athlete, there is a dimension of their greatness that was unlearned and cannot be taught. As a result, the great athlete who becomes a coach often fails or resigns in frustration because they don't understand why their players are not as good as they are. They think it's a just a matter of effort.

On the other hand, most great coaches and managers were mediocre players who had to work very hard to remain with a team. The only exception would be a great player who happens to have a parallel gift for teaching or for understanding and motivating different personality types.

The comparison with sports is a good one, because we are called upon to be spiritual athletes in one way or another.

Two things I can say about myself. I have always had a propensity to contemplate the infinite and to try to understand everything within the context of the whole. The born contemplative is attracted by the eternal in same way that the born musician might be attracted by a piano. To a certain extent, this state of consciousness is a point of departure for me, whereas it would be more of an acquisition--a signpost along the way--for others. For me, the "interior world" has always been very easy to apprehend, first the psychosphere, now the pneumatosphere.

I have no problem at all "doing nothing," because that is precisely when I am the most active--when I am likely engaged in a bewilderness adventure. Conversely, when I look like I am "doing something," I am often nowhere doing nothing. And this includes many things that the average person would find not only pleasurable, but perhaps the summon bonum of existence. I actually enjoy sitting in a chair in the dark at 4:00am staring at a candle illuminating the face of one of my inspirations.

But again, one's gift or predilection must be nurtured and developed. In my case, as you might imagine, my orientation was a dark secret for many years, even to myself. This is because we all have a "blueprint" inside of us, but require a model outside of ourselves to bring it into being and actualize it. Otherwise, it has the same degree of reality as the blueprint of an unbuilt house.

The problem for someone like me is that there is nothing in a conventional education that allows one to recognize and develop a gift for extreme seeking and off-road spiritual exploration. Thus, I struggled all through grade school, high school, and much of college just to maintain average grades. It was of no interest to me. Nevertheless, I was intensely curious and passionately interested in knowledge. It was just knowledge of a different order. For many years I just indulged this passionate curiosity, allowing it to take me where it led, in a completely undisciplined way.

Only through such spontaneous, unplanned and undirected rambling was the blueprint of myself gradually revealed to me. By abandoning myself to the process, with no expectation of any result, it was very much as if I was "led." I definitely wasn't pushing. Rather, it was as if I were responding solely to an inner flame that I was trying to feed and stoke. I tried to provide it with whatever would help it grow in intensity.

One thing that bothers me about our elite secular fundamentalists is that they seem to think it is easy to know Spirit--as if it simply involves believing some nice fairy tale and leaving it at that. In reality, it is almost impossible for our elite secular priesthood to know anything about Spirit. For it is not a matter of intellect per se. Rather, it is a matter of what the intellect is in service to.

As I have mentioned before, both religious and non-religious fundamentalists are still unwavering materialists, living in deadening servitude to matter. Our higher faculties are easily hijacked and enslaved by the lower, and the problem is only worse in a society as abundant as ours, with so many seductive distractions everywhere.

The trial of our age is the trial of Faust. That is to say, we live in an age in which we have unprecedented control over nature, and in which our material desires can be satisfied as never before. But each horizontal satisfaction, no matter how unprecedented and miraculous, is simply met with an increasingly jaded. "okay. What next?" Paradoxically, this "age of miracles and wonders" is the age of banality, ennui, and spiritual exhaustion.

If there were a "devil," what better way to accomplish his ends than to give people the illusion of the possibility of ultimate satisfaction in the horizontal. You might say that the "satanic mantra" is, "I'm bored. What's next."

Intellectuals struggle with this as much, if not more, than the blue collar worker who simply enjoys overeating, having a few beers, and being with his family. For the secular intellectual is haunted by the idea that there is something more, but has no idea how to go about finding it. As a matter of fact, the intellect must be "raised up" to the realm from which religions emanate. Again, this is something the typical secularist utterly fails to understand. You must work diligently to intensify your mental power and to place it in the service of higher things.

It is the difference between being a mere scholar and a sage. Who in contemporary academia would refer to himself as a sage? And yet, sages do exist--those who have successfully passed from mere intellectuality motivated by the desire for knowledge--intellect for its own sake--on to the desire for higher knowledge motivated by love, that is to say the pure love of sophia.

As I mentioned at the top, this comes naturally to me. My happily crucified intellect is willingly in the service of the "breath from above," as I am specifically trying to fuse spirituality and intellectuality in order to create a new, third thing within that transitional space. In the past, this union has been called the "philosopher's stone," but the secular world would probably regard it as the prattle of a stoned philosopher.

Since I already have a real job, I am not motivated by tenure, by popularity, by book sales, or by any other horizontal measure. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God, just as my little contributions are undoubtedly folly to the world.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

I Went Down to the Crossroads, Tried to Flag a Ride

Overslept due to my cold. A short and cryptic post, submitted for your higher bewilderment.


So, we apparently have a terrestrial heredity that extends back through higher primates, lower mammals, fish, plants, single cells, and across the dark abyss to insentient matter.

On the other hand, we have a vertical heredity that extends through various degrees of being--various powers, principalities, rulers, and thrones--all the way up until we reach Brahman, the Absolute, the One, The Father in Heaven, J.R. "Bob" Dobbs.

Our "frontal self" comes into the world the usual way, while another part of us is imaginately conceived, or "word made flesh." Unlike the horizontal word of DNA and natural selection, this is the vertical word of "supernatural" election. (I put supernatural in quotes, for nature herself is supernatural, as anyone who appreciates the transcendental beauty of the mythematical equations governing the big bang can tell you.)

There was a time, not too long ago, when human beings were not aware of their vertical descent from above, any more than animals are. Again, if you think of our humanness as situated at the innersection of the horizontal and vertical, it took some time for homo sapiens to realize their place in the vertical.

One cannot even know of the horizontal until consciousness has lifted above it. Otherwise we are simply immersed in our perceptions and engulfed by the senses. But as consciousness ascends, one begins to realize that the vertical is also a "world" in its own right.

After all, homo sapiens was genetically "complete" by as long ago as 200,000 (or as recently as 100,000) years. And yet, either way, we don't see much evidence in the archeological record of "vertical liftoff" until about 35-40,000 years ago, with the sudden appearance of beautifully realized cave paintings, body decoration, musical instruments, statuary, widespread burial of the dead, etc.

Clearly, vertical liftoff had begun, into a nonsensuous dimension of transcendental Love, Truth and Beauty. For what would motivate an erstwhile ape not just to paint, but to do so with such refined delicacy of line, shade, and contour? Why bother?

But vertical progress for humans is frequently stalled--both collectively and individually. Human beings have reached many historical impasses, or crossroads (frankly, we are in a somewhat nasty one right now). In reality, these are not "horizontal" impasses. Rather, they are vertical impasses. How to "flag a ride" up and out?

Overcoming these world-historical obstacles is not a matter of additional horizontal evolution. That process is basically over, although recent research seems to demonstrate that some additional evolution has been going on at the margins.

But even if certain brains have been getting a little bigger or smarter, it is not our hardizontalware, but our vertical software--or aloftware--that counts. You can have a gifted IQ but still languish below on the vertical launch pad, a point that is obvious if you consider the sorry state contemporary academia. Plenty of big-brained primates there, all messed up with no place to grow (that is, "up").

What we might call the "resurrection body" is your perfect self, unencumbered by the accidents and distortions of horizontality. It is actually already there calling you--wherever there is--just waiting for you to catch up.

Have you ever been acquainted with your resurrection body? I'll bet you have. Again, this is one of the main purposes of religious language--to provide a means for talking about an otherwise immaterial and nonsensuous dimension. Light, transparent, bright, free... these are all Idjectives that apply.

In the gospels, it says that Jesus gave a few disciples the privilege of seeing his vertical body of light. What must that have been like? First, of course, the disciples had to "ascend" by themselves vertically, "high upon a mountain." There, within the orbit of their highest aspiration, Jesus' face "shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light." Then Jesus held a summit conference with two other luminous bodies, Moses and his shadowy double, Elijah! Wo. What was that all about?

Our physical body is on loan from nature, whom we must repay at the end of our days. "Thou owest nature a death." But as we said yesterday, looked at vertically, the body is descended from the spirit, not vice versa. Death, or disincarnation, involves separation of the vertical from the horizontal.

The Isha Upanishad expresses it thus (this passage is often read as one approaches the crossroads of death):

The face of truth is hidden by your golden orb, O Sun. May you remove your orb, in order that I who am devoted to truth may behold its glory.

May I behold through thy grace thy most blessed form. The Being that dwells therein--even that Being am I.

Let my life now merge in the all-pervading Life. Ashes are my body's end. AUMmmmmmmm... O mind, remember Brahman. Meditate on Brahman.

May we galactic hitchhikers flag a ride at the crossroads.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Reincarnation, Resurrection Bodies, and Vertical Heredity

Yesterday we were discussing how myth and poetry speak to us from across the void, revealing secrets from the dark side of consciousness. As I have mentioned before, in order to talk about spirit at all, language must be employed in a very special manner. On the one hand, language was evolved in order to deal with the mundane problems of a typical day in the archaic environment of 100,000 years ago: finding food and shelter, coping with danger, and impressing women.

That is the horizontal aspect of language. It is mostly reducible to a purely Darwinian explanation. But there is a very mysterious vertical aspect to language that cannot be so reduced, unless one wishes to be absurd. Most modern people don't mind being absurd, so long as they can imagine that they understand. Better to be absurd than to deal with the anxiety of not knowing.

It has been remarked that poets are metaphysicians in the raw, mediators between the essence of being and the miracle of knowing. In its sacred or mythological aspect, language is the nexus between the nighttime and daytime realms. It imparts a kind of knowing, but one must not confuse this knowing with profane knowing of the linear and unambigious variety. Just like everyday language, it reveals and discloses an "object." But it is not a three-dimensional object. Rather, it is a hyperdimensional object.

Or you may think of mundane language as dealing with horizontal recollection, while the type of language I am taking about involves vertical recollection, or anamnesis.

Whereas in the daytime there is more or less a one-to-one relationship between word and object (or concept), night language is far richer and polysemic, or holographic: a single word can be a vector through which multiple meanings of various levels pass, depending on one's point of view. One may crystalize a particular interpretation, but a single interpretation cannot exhaust the meaning. This is especially true of the special language called authentic scripture.

And yet, it is possible even for scripture to become so saturated with a particular meaning that it loses its capacity to shock, to vault us out of our habitual way of knowing the world. It can be reduced to a mere "daytime" story.

I think, for example, of the account of Jesus' resurrection. Most of us have heard about this story since we were children, to such an extent that when we think of it we probably conjure up a mental image of it. Furthermore, upon doing so, most of us probably say to ourselves, "impossible."

And yet, if you consider some of the details that we tend to overlook, the story is more odd than we realize. For example, it is emphasized--in particular, in Mark, Luke and John--that the risen Jesus is not recognized by those who were most familiar with him--who had just been with him a few days before. Some mistake him for the gardener, others actually take a walk with him and discuss recent news of the day, including the bad news about Jesus.

How bizarre is this? Imagine just losing a loved one. You are in a state of grief and shock. You look out the window, and there is your recently departed loved one, mowing the lawn. But you don't recognize them.

Obviously, the story was told in this particular way for a reason. The writers of the gospels could have just said that Jesus rose from the dead and everyone recognized him immediately. But they specifically emphasized that he wasn't recognized. Clearly, he must have looked different. The "resurrection body," whatever it is, must look different than the physical body.

What are we, anyway? Whatever else we are, we are energy, energy in different forms and patterns. Ah, but what is energy? If anyone gives you a "daytime" answer to that question, know that they are lying--mostly to themselves.

I have a conscious thought: I am going to make a fist. I do so. No one can tell you how I did so--how consciousness--whatever that is--exerts an effect on matter in this way.

On the one hand, we can look at the world horizontally and say that matter gave rise to life or that brains give rise to thought. However, such a view generates a multitude of insoluble paradoxes that can only be resolved if we supplement it with the vertical, top-down view, and say that the brain does not create consciousness, but rather, that the brain exists as a result of conscious will.

In order to understand our situation, you must imagine a cross with a horizontal and a vertical arrow. We live at the point of their intersection. The horizontal line has to do with heredity, with Darwinian evolution, with the transmission of culture, etc. If this were all we are, we would be no different than other animals. We would not live in a cognitive space of spiritual freedom, routinely exerting a top-down influence on our horizontal selves. We would not possess that inexplicable capacity called "free will."

But not everyone seems to have the same degree of top-down influence over themselves--of free will. In fact, it is a capacity that varies quite widely.

According to a friend who wishes to remain anonymous, "there are strong--i.e., creative--souls, and there are weak--i.e., imitative--souls. The stronger a soul is, the greater the independence from the semi-hypnotic influence of the model presented by the preceding generations of family chosen for the soul's incarnation."

As such, "a strong soul shows in his or her psycho-physical personality fewer features traceable from the parents, and is in general less representative of family, people and race than of itself; he or she is more an individual than a type. In contrast, a weak soul becomes an individual who seems to be only a pure and simple copy of the parents.... [T]here are some cases where heredity is reduced to a minimum and other cases where it manifests itself as almost all-powerful."

Thus, it seems as if there are two kinds of heredity operating in us: a "horizontal heredity" and a "vertical heredity" that seems to shape us from "above" rather than "behind." In my view, when we talk about "reincarnation," we are simply acknowledging the reality of vertical heredity. It is a way of talking about something real yet mysterious--about that part of ourselves that is immaculately conceived and born out of the voidgin.

Are we really the product of two heredities? I don't know about you, but genes or no genes, I have no idea how I dropped into my particular family. I am amazingly incompatible with most of my family members--not necessarily to the point of open conflict (though there is that with one particularly polarized member who despises me), but mostly indifference and mutual incomprehension. I was born with very specific, not to say unusual, inclinations that I can find in none of my relatives, either living or dead. But I certainly see them in non-blood relations with whom I share vertical DNA.

Interestingly, I have kept one of the birth announcements that were sent out upon my touchdown here in 4D. It has a drawing of a little space suit with a hole cut out in the helmet. There you see my face beaming through. I have a bottle in my right hand, an umbrella in the left. On top of my head is a little propeller, which is funny, because I have a little propeller on top of my head right now. The caption reads "From Out of This World."

Yes, dropped straight from the vertical into a very horizontal family. And yet, looked at from another angle, I can see how being raised in this particular family was perfect for the accomplishment of my, er, mission.

What? Wrap it up? I don't think I can do that. We'll have to continue with this resurrection-reincarnation-vertical heredity business tomorrow.


Dropped into a strange family from out of this world? Quite possibly. Thus far his temperament is quite specific and different than his horizontal parents. We will do our best to facilitate his mission and to decipher the signs he is throwin' down to his vertical homies. I think this one means, "All this kooky-talk is embarassing me. I wish my dad would zip it once in awhile."

Monday, April 03, 2006

On Seeing by the Light of Darkness

By night, an atheist half believes in God. --Edward Young

This will be a threefold challenge, since I don't know what I'm talking about, have no idea how to express it, and am in no condition to do so. Regarding the latter, there is another baby bug in the house. Fortunately it is not of the GI variety, like the last one. Rather, it is of the sore throat-upper respiratory species. Still, combined with the time change, it takes something out of a lad.

On the other hand, a temporary, sometimes even willed, derangement of the senses can be the best approach to the unknown. It pushes you off the map of the familiar, to the threshold of the greater Mystery. People use fancy vacations, drugs, meditation retreats, etc.--anything to try to trick the nervous system and get around its tendency to erect a fence of routine and familiarity around everything.

For the majority of the time I was employed as a retail clerk between 1976 and 1988, I worked the graveyard shift. That's a good name for it, because there is no doubt that the still darkness of night is when the transdimensional spooks come out to play. I was generally sleep-deprived during those years, and might have been utterly exhausted by, say, 1:00 or 2:00am. But then, out of necessity, I would break through a sort of "wall," and afterwards be in an extended state of hypnopompic alertness until going to bed at around 9:00am. You might say that one I would close but another would open.

Interestingly, the Greeks had a word, psychopomp, referring to the conductor to the realm of lost souls. That realm is what we now call the unconscious. As a matter of fact, the "free association" of psychoanalysis is nothing more than an attempt to lull the ego to sleep, while the analyst is the psychopomp who will lead the search for the lost parts of oneself dwelling in the darkness of the unconscious.

Anyway, once I would break through that wall of fatigue, I would enter a very distinct state. Hard to describe, but it was as if the world were dreaming---which it was--and I was, so to speak, partaking of the same state. Only while awake. In the midst of this night consciousness, many ideas--call them "mythological" or "sacred" ideas--made perfect sense that didn't necessarily make sense in the unforgiving light of day.

The entire process was abetted by a certain radio program that aired from midnight until 5:00am. It featured lectures by various spiritual luminaries both high and low, everyone from Krishnamurti to Alan Watts to D.T. Suzuki to Timothy Leary and Ram Dass. I was especially influenced by the spellbinding lectures of the ethnobotanist, shamanologist, and mushroomologist Terence McKenna, may he rest in peace. He is a perfect example of someone who only makes sense at 3:00am. In that vein, I like to think of this blog as a sort of 3:00am dispatch from ther heart of the void: all the eternity that's fit to print.

You might compare it to how certain religious ideas might "resonate" more if you are standing in a 14th century European cathedral, each part of which is designed to carry your temporal consciousness upward and outward, to the contemplation of eternity.

It wasn't long ago that the world was a very, very dark place. I mean that both literally and figuratively. That is, before the invention of electric lights, the night was pitch black except for perhaps a small center of candle or firelight. People were aware of the darkness as a real and present entity, in a way that we are not. Modern people rarely live in darkness except when they are asleep. As such, the only time they have access to the dream world--and night consciousness--is when they are unconscious.

It is as if night consciousness is our "missing half" that would allow us to make sense of certain things that cannot be discussed or understood in the harsh light of day. Certainly this is something James Joyce realized in attempting, in Finnegans Wake, to tell the entire story of mankind from the standpoint of "nighttime logic." That is, he depicted all of human history as the restive and far-flung dream of a single sleeping individual in a single night.

In order to have a comprehensive understanding of ourselves, we must not only be familiar with the daytime part--the ego--but also the nighttime part--the unconscious. Likewise, I am of the belief that there is the mundane, horizontal "daytime history" of academic historians, but also a more vertical "nighttime" history of the human race that can only be discussed in ways entirely unfamiliar to the rank and file historian.

To cite just one example that comes readily to mind, take our founding fathers. One of the problems with secular leftist history is that it is increasingly a spiritually suffocating "daytime" history, to the point of absurdity. Thus we have books that will tell you that the founders were motivated entirely by economic self-interest, or that they were actually less elevated than we are, in that some of them were slave owners.

But in my "nighttime" view of the founders, I literally regard them as political avatars sent to earth with a divine mission. Again, literally--I see them as analogous on a political level to Jesus or Buddha or Krishna on a religious level. The more one immerses oneself in their spiritual and intellectual world, the more this becomes readily apparent. Just imagine if we were to gather together the greatest secular "daytime" minds of today and hold a constitutional convention. One shudders at the--ironically nightmarish--thought!

You will no doubt realize that our founders are still our primary benefactors and protectors from the onslaught of the daytime left. Despite 225 years of "progress," our founders still understand us better than we will ever understand them, in the same way that scripture, in its esoteric aspect, comprehends us better than any profane Jesus seminarian will ever be able to understand scripture exoterically. I would venture to say that the purely mythological beliefs that George Washington cut down a cherry tree, never told a lie, and threw a coin across the Delaware River are more true than the "sophisticated" idea that he was a greedy capitalist motivated only by self-interest. Indeed, how to talk about such greatness without resorting to myth?

You will also note that when you try to denude the world of its nighttime dimension, you actually do end up creating a waking nightmare: "the sleep of reason begets monsters." Another way of saying it is that (paraphrasing someone) there is a form of madness that consists of losing everything but one's reason. This is one reason why the secular left is such a fount of un- and insanity. Like a psychotic person, they dream while awake and call it reality.

But of course, they believe we are the insane ones. Thus, another dimension of the "culture war" is between those who can see in the dark vs. those who believe the darkness no longer exists just because we have electricity. For them, darkness is no longer visible. They see only light. But because their eyes have become insensitive to the dark, they see only by artificial light, not natural light--that is, the true light that lights the world.

I'm really rambling, but I guess that's part of the point I'm trying to make. I did not "intend" to venture down this path, but it was facilitated by illness and fatigue. I was going to begin a discussion of reincarnation, which several readers have requested. My point, before going into the discussion, is that reincarnation is clearly one of those topics that can only be understood by the light of night. We must imagine ourselves in total darkness, perhaps huddled around a small fire, allowing the night to whisper its secrets from the far side of consciousness.