Saturday, June 24, 2006

Darwhiggian Evolution and Supernatural Election

Although it really makes no sense to our natural reason, Big Bang cosmology describes an event some 13.7 billion years ago that brought everything into being by expanding outward from a central point of imarginable nothingness. Among other things, scientists deduce that primordial event from the fact that it is still happening now. The cosmos is still banging away, expanding into....

Actually, no one knows what it’s expanding into. It’s a nonsense question, since cosmology only describes the cosmos, not the metacosmos in which it is embedded. That goes without saying, which is to say that it is an unsaid assumption of science.

For the same reason, cosmology cannot answer the question of “what was before the big bang?,” since the big bang brought the modality we call time into existence. “Before” that, there was only eternity and perhaps duration, but not physical time. To ask what was before the big bang, you might just as well ask what your phase looked like before you were bearthed and begaialed, for the answer is roughly the same.

Science adequately describes the horizontal cosmos, which is to say, inadequately. In order to acquire an integral understanding of reality, the linear/temporal/horizontal view must be supplemented by the vertical, which is where revelation, myth, and metaphysics take over. Only these modes can take us beyond the horizon of knowability that afflicts your and myopic little ego. Myth and revelation bypass the ego by making an appeal to our lower and higher intuition, respectively, while metaphysics speaks directly to the timeless intellect which may know absolute truth absolutely, since it is in the image of the divine. These are built-in ways for us to see beyond the temporal illusions of our womentary maninfestation.

We might visualize reality as a circle containing a cross. Science describes the horizontal vector, but there is a second “ray of creation” that extends from the top down and then back up again. The downward descending energy is called the “ray of involution,” while the upward ascending one is called the “ray of evolution.” Of course, this is not the same as Darwinian evolution, which only describes change--but not progress--in the horizontal.

On the strict Darwinian view there is, of course, no such thing as progress, which is as it should be. While technically a “true” theory if we limit ourselves to the horizontal, it is obviously a false and limited understanding if we don’t supplement it with the vertical view of spiritual evolution. Strictly speaking, I can assure you there are no strict “Darwinians,” for even the belief in strict Darwinism takes one out of the strictly horizontal stream of Darwinism, into the realm of transcendent ideas. In short, the theory of pure Darwinism finds itself in the embarassing position of having to express itself in a medium it cannot account for, and make its appeals to a judge that cannot exist. D'oh!

Paradoxically, in order for us to exist and possess our own free will, God cannot exist. But it is not really a paradox, for a moment’s reflection will inform your intellect that if God doesn’t get out of the way, there can be no creation separate from him, no free beings. In other words, at the top of the vertical ray is God. Even that is a bit misleading, for the top of the ray has a “face” we can see from our relative position, as well as an "interior" or "dark side" we cannot see (dark because the light would be too blinding).

Imagine a solar system, if you will, with God at the center. We all have a certain view of God, but “within” God there is the God-beyond-God that trails off into eternity. That is the temporal horizon of God’s intellectual knowability (and here I am again speaking of the higher, faith-infused heart-intellect, not the lower egoic mind).

The vertical “ray of creation” therefore extends on one end from the God-beyond-being to our world “below.” But it doesn’t stop here. Rather, just like the sun’s rays, they go one “forever,” becoming increasingly faint to the point of apparent “nothingness.” But the nothingness is only apparent, since God can only be “relatively absent” from his creation. (Keep that point in mind for later, when we discuss evil and the hostile forces.)

The Kabbala is especially precise on this point, and does an excellent job of objectively describing God's "withdrawal" and the various degrees of being in the vertical ray of creation that "reveil" him. To a certain extent, these degrees are inevitably arbitrary, as are the divisions between the colors of the rainbow. All are an aspect of “pure” white light taking on different properties as one color shades into the next.

God is like the white light who “withdraws” so that color may exist. As different as they may appear, the colors are all internally related to one another, just as the degrees of being interpenetrate and shade into one another. The real world is the entire rainbow and ultimately the white light, although each of us tends to live in just one of the colors, confusing it with the primary reality.

As an aside, I should also say that there is a pure “black” reality at the other end of the ray of creation. It is the absence of light and the blending of all of the colors into an indistinct blur. This is the leftist/totalitarian dream of E Unum Pluribus, in which a false, descending, material "one" is imposed upon reality. It is the basis of multiculturalism, moral relativism, and secular fundamentalism, for it represents a flight form the real One that unifies and transcends, toward division and rule by a secular elite.

Nazism, communism and Islamo-fascism represent “pure black” in the ray of creation, while leftism represents a degree or two or three above that. But leftism tends toward the all-black, for it is a descending theology that has no means to elevate itself, having rejected the cosmic eschatolator at the outset. Therefore it “falls” and descends at the natural rate encoded into our existence, which is 32 feet per second per second.

By the way, this is why spiritual practice requires effort. True, all things are possible with grace, but grace only operates in the cosmos as given to us by God. There are readers who don't want to believe me on this point, and I have no desire to get into an argument with them yet again. But for most of us, our “fall” must be actively countered on a day-to-day, even moment by moment basis. It is not as if you are “saved” and born again, and that's the end of it. Rather, that is only the beginning of it. It represents the formal acknowledgment of the ascending cosmic winds that one will heretofore spend one’s life trying to navigate back up toward the One at the father shore. In the formula of Sri Aurobindo, it is Aspiration-Rejection (of the lower)-Surrender (to the higher) 24/7/365/13.7 billion.

I’m still trying to get to a discussion of the hostile forces. We’re getting there, but I needed to present a bit of background in order to have an implausible framework to discuss them. Plus, I realize that most people tend to just skim blogs and have little patience for anything longer than a bite-sized paragraph or two. So I'm also trying to break it down and make it real for these omies.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Pickin' Up Bad Vibrations

Hostile forces? Such talk undoubtedly tests the limits of most readers’ credulity. However, this untoward reaction may represent a measure of the degree to which one's mind has become devitalized by the ravages of scientism--of a strictly mechanical, material, and quantified view of the world.

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to conduct psychological evaluations of a number of people from formerly communist countries, mainly the USSR. Uniformly, what has been so striking about them is a certain palpable absence of soul, which was one of the most damaging consequences of communist totalitarianism. For the ban on religion also amounted to a ban on the deepest and most vital regions of Being itself. After a few generations of malign neglect, the damage becomes incalculable and sometimes irreversible in this life. These people are alive, but somewhat like a palm tree that manages to survive in Alaska or a pine tree at the equator. They are surviving, but in an environment not fit for, or worthy of, humans.

Admittedly, it’s a somewhat small sample--perhaps a dozen or so--but not only were these people not religious, but they were literally incapable of being so. It was not that they were hostile toward religion, as is the American left, which represents another type of soul deviancy. Rather, it was just meaningless to them--like someone who didn’t care for opera but allowed that other people might.

But it also left them very empty and devoid of meaning. There was a depression about them, but it had a rather different feel than a psychological or biochemical depression. It was actually a little spooky, as if they had been the victims of “body snatching.” Like Vulcans, it was as if they could operate in the realm of logic, but something vital at their core was missing. They were hollow--in a way, not even like animals (which have an animal soul), for they were more like soulless machines. It also made them very comfort-seeking, very hedonistic--not in the grandiose and narcissistic American way, but in a petty way, as if life consisted solely in stealing whatever small pleasures were available.

Obviously, Europe is well down this bright and shiny secular path, as is half of America. Western Europe is getting to the point that it no longer comprehends religion, as is true of secular America (which is why they are so allied in their contempt for American values). If we do not reverse this trend, we’re going to lose something so critical to our psychic substance, and yet, not even know what hit us. Secular Americans are genuinely clueless in their ignorance of how much they benefit from the thoroughly Judeo-Christian milieu in which they were raised. Like those atheistic Soviets, they really don’t get it, and are largely incapable of doing so.

My point is that the human mind is a religious mind. If you like, you can say that this is simply because of the way we’re built biologically, although I don’t believe that. That is simply a theory advanced by scientific Vulcans trying to understand human beings in terms of their own limited metaphysical framework.

So when I talk about “hostile forces,” I’m talking about something that you know exist, even if you don’t know that you know. I could also affirm with equal certainty that you believe in attachment theory, even if you’ve never heard of it, for infant and childhood attachment is the axis of human psychological development.

But just as you generally cannot “see” the effects of your own attachment history until you undertake some form of psychotherapy and systematically uncover it, you will not really get a sense of the hostile forces until you undertake a serious spiritual practice. This is really an area in which all traditions agree. Some sort of resistance is provoked when we try to advance spiritually. This is not speculation but empirical observation. “Hostile forces” is simply a term used--it is Sri Aurobindo’s term--to give a name to a well-known phenomenon.

You can think of the human soul as a sort of ground station for a whole host of collective, individual, personal and impersonal psychic influences from various levels. In other words, there are degrees as well as modes, the former a measure of verticality, the latter its horizontal manifestation. You may think of it as analogous to radio transmission, which has both variety (i.e., modes) and hierarchical degrees (ranging from the sublime to the infrahuman, as in the case of most rap, say, or Air America).

Different traditions have developed different maps to describe the vertical realm, and those from the East are generally more complicated and detailed than those of the West. This is primarily due to our more externalized consciousness. If you like, you can visualize a “global brain” with a right side and a left side that split in two and took divergent paths some 3,000 years ago. In the West, we came to regard matter as ultimately real, whereas in the East, consciousness was regarded as ultimate.

But let us not forget that Christianity was originally an Eastern religion that only later became westernized by the Latin church--not an altogether bad development by any stretch, the reason being that truth is One, and ultimate or integral Truth must subsume both the interior and exterior of the cosmos.

Material development was delayed for hundreds of years in the East because of the overemphasis on the interior dimension and a misunderstanding of the nature of maya, for it is true that the material world is “illusion,” but it is not only illusion. It is only ultimately illusory in comparison with the Absolute, with Brahman itself. The relative is obviously quite real, only in a relative way.

As a matter of fact, this is one of the main innovations of Sri Aurobindo’s yoga, which to my mind represents a reunification of those two streams that split apart some 3,000 years ago. It is the historical task of Eastern religions to become more exterior, while it is the task of Western religions to become more interior. Interestingly, if one travels all the way back to the origins of Christianity, to the Eastern Orthodox tradition, one will find that it is already quite interior, easily the equal of any yogic tradition.

This is why a fair number of modern people are pushing into the future by building a bridge to the first century--by embracing the earliest forms of Christianity, as opposed to modern deviations such as fundamentalism which are in fact extremely exteriorized. There is really nothing “fundamental” in fundamentalism. Certainly early church fathers such as Origen or Denys the Areopagite wouldn’t recognize it.

Not to go all summer-of-love on you, but whether you are a scientist or a religionist, in the final analysis, reality consists of vibrations, some good, some bad. Have you ever picked up good vibrations in a religious service? Or how about after one of my posts, or reading my book? In so far as it was possible for me to do so, I quite consciously endeavored to fill my book with good vibrations that would literally resonate in the sensitive reader. Just so you don’t think I’m being a completely silly ass, a number of readers have informed me that, at least in their case, I succeeded. But it wasn’t really me. Rather, at each step along the way, I was simply attempting to retransmit things that had been transmitted to me and which had awakened some sort of “soul response” in me. Everything was personally tried and tested.

The point is that human beings are open systems, both on the horizontal and the vertical planes, and this is how to begin to understand the hostile forces, those bad vibrations.

This is beginning to run a bit long, isn’t it? We’ll have to continue with this nonsense tomorrow. Same time, same station, same frequency. Oh--and don’t try to understand what I’m writing about while wearing a tin beanie--the vibrations will bounce off.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Hostile Forces and Their Allies

The devil [is] the humanized personification--humanized on contact with man--of the subversive aspect of the centrifugal existential power... --F. Schuon

What is it with these hostile powers? Why are they afflicting so many spiritually sensitive souls at this particular time? What do they want and when will they go away? Why am I and so many other cosmonaughts experiencing these bizarre dreams and inexplicable physical symptoms?

In World War II, millions of good men traveled to hell in order to fight the latest incarnation of evil. What was going on then--not politically, but cosmically? No mere human psychology can explain the level of pure evil embodied in the Japanese and German governments that inflicted such infra-human brutality on their millions of victims.

I just finished an excellent new history of the Cold War, and it is the same story. I mean that literally, for history itself is the same story. The drama of exterior, or "horizontal" history can obscure the deeper reality of interior, or "vertical" history. Outwardly it looked as if a “world war” had ended in 1945, but nothing could be further from the truth. If it is possible for pure evil to surpass itself, then Stalin and Mao and Pol Pot did so. And they did so not only “under the radar,” but aided and abetted at every step along the way by an elite anti-divine spiritual movement called “the international left.”

Thankfully, this movement did not fully insinuate itself into the Democratic Party and hijack liberalism until the early 1970’s, so it posed no existential threat to our ability to name and extinguish evil, for evil cannot triumph so long as virtuous and courageous men can recognize it and mercilessly burn it from our midst.

But things are different today. Once again the same evil--the same hideous death-worshipping ontological evil that lived through men like Mao, Hitler, Stalin, Tojo--has now lodged itself into the heart of a religion and a region of the earth. But like any other parasite, the evil that animates this movement has adapted and learned from its mistakes. It knows that its only hope of success is to convince sophisticated and cultured men that it does not exist.

Perhaps you remember the absolute outrage among sophisticated leftists when Ronald Reagan acknowledged and named this evil in June of 1982. Not only did the left dismiss him as wrong, but, just like President Bush, he was regarded and reviled as the real source of evil in the world. You may think that we ultimately won that particular linguistic battle once and for all, but the opposite is true. As I have had occasion to mention before, the left learns nothing from history--that is not its role in the cosmic drama. Rather, it exists to obscure those lessons, for they issued the identical howls of outrage when President Bush recognized and named the most recent incarnations of ontological evil.

Here is what President Reagan said, updated with some obvious edits. You tell me if the left wouldn’t react identically today if these words were uttered:

“I've often wondered about the shyness of some of us in the West about standing for the ideals that have done so much to ease the plight of man and the hardships of our imperfect world....

“If history teaches anything, it teaches self-delusion in the face of unpleasant facts is folly. We see around us today the marks of our terrible dilemma--predictions of doomsday, anti-American demonstrations, a terror war in which the West must, for its own protection, be an unwilling participant. At the same time we see totalitarian forces in the world who seek subversion and conflict around the globe to further their barbarous assault on the human spirit. What, then, is our course?... Must freedom wither in a quiet, deadening accommodation with totalitarian evil?

“We must be staunch in our conviction that freedom is not the sole prerogative of a lucky few but the inalienable and universal right of all human beings....

“All the democracies paid a terrible price for allowing the dictators to underestimate us. We dare not make that mistake again. So, let us ask ourselves, ‘What kind of people do we think we are?’ And let us answer, ‘Free people, worthy of freedom and determined not only to remain so but to help others gain their freedom as well.’

“What I am describing now is a plan and a hope for the long term--the march of freedom and democracy which will leave Islamo-fascism on the ash heap of history as it has left other tyrannies which stifle the freedom and muzzle the self-expression of the people....”


Those who lived through it well remember how Reagan was absolutely despised and reviled by the left. Their hatred of this particular speech was not the issue. Nor was Reagan himself the issue, any more than Hitler or Stalin were the issue. Reagan was simply a vehicle of much larger forces, and was opposed by the identical impersonal, anti-Divine forces that would oppose him today.

One again, our brave men are in hell, fighting satan. But the morally twisted left, which cannot recognize evil, sees the opposite. Dennis Prager routinely asks callers opposed to the liberation of Iraq if they can at least acknowledge one thing: that we are fighting evil. Not only will they not concede this point, they are outraged and insulted by the question. Rather, America is the aggressor imposing its will on patriotic insurgents.

Here is what a clear mind, uncontaminated by the toxic thinking of the left, sees:

“In the overheated exchanges that too often substitute for reasoned political discourse, definitions and distinctions can blur. But there is a huge difference between Coalition forces and the wanton, sociopath terrorist with no vestige of honor, who knows nothing but destruction and has no plan for the future other than the subjugation of others while on the path to some psychotic pathology inured by tribal culture and carcinogenic beliefs that will, if left untouched, leave people living in mud huts and slitting throats of historical enemies for another thousand years, or, if slightly more science-minded, leave them seeking nuclear weapons to reach out and destroy the world.

“We did not create this evil, although it does reveal itself more sharply by comparison in the presence of decent people. When the tactics of an enemy cross the line, sentient peoples recognize that they are no longer entitled to be called opposing forces, insurgents, freedom fighters, revolutionaries, or Jihadists--they are terrorists.

".... No living creature is safe while a rabid predator roams. No. Our people who have truly stared into the face of this terrorist demon have seen the ruby glow in its eyes. This is not a myth. This is not a politically contrived caricature, this demon is real. It usually stalks the easy prey--children, women in crowds, families focused on prayer, rescue workers responding to people in need. Some terrorists manage to get our soldiers.”


But what I really wanted to touch on in this post was the nature and role of this ontological evil, and the effect it is having on spiritually sensitive souls at this particular time, as it wells up from the bosom of the earth-consciousness, opportunistically roaming about, looking for minds to colonize. I’ll have to get to that tomorrow.

There is another type of vibration, remarkable for its suddenness and violence; the seeker literally feels these vibrations swooping down upon him.... These are what Sri Aurobindo called the adverse forces. They are highly conscious forces whose sole aim, apparently, is to discourage the seeker and divert him from the path he has chosen. The first sign sign of their presence is easily perceptible: joy is clouded over, consciousness is clouded over, everything becomes shrouded in an atmosphere of tragedy....

Thus there is kind of threshold to cross if we want to find the true life force behind the troubled life of the frontal man.


PS--For trolls who will remind me that Schuon was a Sufi, he was unambiguous. There is a reason why his books are banned and Sufis are persecuted in the Muslim world:

"In some cases, the end justifies the means; in others, that of terrorism for example, the means compromise the end. In the first case, the means are ennobled by the end, since their nature enables them of being so, and assuming of course that the end be noble; in the second case, the end, even when noble, is debased by the means since, precisely, its nature excludes them."

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Facts of Life, Raw and Unedited

Once again I find myself exinspirated by reader Copithorne, who mocks the need for metaphysics by asking,

--Do you have an explicit or implicit metaphysical framework when you are not talking?

--Do you have one when you are sleeping?

--Do you need one to shoot a gun?

--Does a plant require an implicit metaphysic to grow towards the sun?

--Does a dog require an implicit metaphysic to make puppies?

--Do you have one when you are talking about cooking or chores? Or is it just when you are making non-trivial statements about reality?

--At what age or developmental level do humans require an explicit or implicit metaphysical framework? And before that, it isn't necessary?

Copithorne was responding to my statement that “It is not actually possible to make any nontrivial statement about reality without an implicit or explicit metaphysical framework." If nothing else, Copithorne proves the corollary of this, that in the absence of sound metaphysics, one can only make trivial and/or incoherent statements about reality.

Religion often involves implicit metaphysics without explicit knowledge. What I mean by that is that embedded in any religious tradition are all sorts of metaphysical insights that are expressed in an obscure, ambiguous, symbolic, or mythological way. Thus, they have to be unpacked and understood.

Metaphysics, according to Schuon, is the science of the Absolute and of the true nature of things. It is that which allows us to discriminate between the Real and the apparent, between Atma and Maya. Metaphysics transcends philosophy because it transcends mere reason. Rather, metaphysics proceeds directly from the divine intellect, the part of us that may know absolute truth absolutely. For if we can know anything at all, we can potentially know everything. Once we acknowledge that it is possible to know truth, any limit we set on that capacity is entirely arbitrary.

In what follows, I attempted to bring together some fragments of past posts that touch on metaphysical questions. However, I ended up not having enough time this morning to truly bring them together into a coherent unity, so there is some repetition and some awkward editing. It would have been shorter and snappier if I had had more time. Oh well. I’ll let you figure it out.


When we say that something is "real," are we talking about the atoms and molecules of which it is composed? Or the physical forms that we perceive with the senses? Or the thought that is able to register and comprehend the perception? If only the subatomic or the physical are ultimately real, then there is no valid knowledge at all, for knowledge would be purely epiphenomenal.

"Exist" is not the right word for higher realities known by the intellect. "In-sist," perhaps. That is, higher and more subtle realities do not "stand out" except to those who "stand in" them. How do you stand in a higher world? It has no physical existence, and yet, it can only manifest in the physical. Furthermore, it can only do so with your coupperation--if you act as midwife and give birth to it. Which is difficult to do if you are a hyper-rational soul in a midwife crisis.


All exteriors have an interior, however attenuated. Consciousness is the interior of the cosmos. It has been co-evolving along with the exterior for the past 13.7 billion years. Our self-consciousness lives in the dialectical, generative space between the nonlocal, noumenal ground of consciousness-as-such and our evolved nervous system.

In the West, it is said that God operates through the Word. In the East, they say that the world is God's play, or lila. Thus, reality from God's perspective is a lot of extraordinarily clever wordplay. The world is actually made of language, but the language is not of this world. Nor is our ability to comprehend language. Both arise from the nonlocal Word--the world is intelligible because we are an image of the linguistic process that made it so.


The deeper meaning of the "fall" involves our entrance into the dimension of time. Time is not actually possible without eternity, but evolution is not possible without time. Therefore, we need to be saved from our apparent separation from the eternal, as we engage in our evolutionary sprint from monkey mind to divine mind.

For example, it is quite easy to fit Jesus into this paradigm. Adam's fall is the fall from timeless communion with God into the separative consciousness of duality and strife. Jesus represents the Universal Principle--the abstract absolute outside time and space--taking on particular form, the "concrete absolute." Thus, Jesus is the Ultimate made Particular, or word made flesh.

However, the Bible clearly teaches that we may share in this process--that it didn't just happen once upin a timeless to one person. Rather, it perennially occurs in the eternal ground in which we participate at the deepest level. We may be sons of God "through adoption," and thereby be saved from the ravages of time, here and now. We may make the eternal present in us. But it must be "realized," because it is anterior to our surface being.

The Upanishads discuss the problem in a slightly different way, but I think it's the same idea: to disidentify with the local personality and see that Atman and Brahman are not-two.

The fully realized person has reversed the fall, or turned figure and ground inside out. He has reversed the vector flow that misleadingly draws consciousness downstream to the objects of the senses. In short, he has realized that the cosmos is tree with its roots aloft, its branches down here below. It's a Tree of Life for those whose wood beleaf.


Let's begin with two stipulations, treating them not as religious statements per se but metaphysical ones:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,


In the beginning was the the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.... All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

In the spirit of multiculturalism, and in the effort to increase our depth of vision with an extra I, let's toss another bon mot into the mix, this from the opening of the Isha Upanishad: In the heart of all things, of whatever there is in the universe, dwells the Lord.

What does it mean, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth"? As I have mentioned before, I believe that it has to do with the creation of the most fundamental duality of the cosmos. This duality can be viewed from many angles, but it can be summarized by saying that "in the beginning God created the vertical and the horizontal," for this duality subsumes the irreducible (irreducible in terms that can be thought about) categories of quality and quantity, interior and exterior, eternity and time, whole and part, implicate and explicate, subject and object. In each instance we are dealing with a "limit case" beyond which thought cannot traverse. In fact, the one side of the dualism necessitates the other and represents the conditions of thought. Nothing "mental" can be made without the vertical/horizontal duality as a precondition.

With the second statement we introduce an unexpected twist: In the beginning was the Word, or Logos. Moreover, this Word was with God, implying that it was there "before the beginning," before the great dualistic creative activity of the first statement. Indeed, if the Word is God, this can be the only logical conclusion.

This then apparently raises language to a most exalted status. But clearly not if we merely look at it in the usual way. It's so easy to take language for granted, when in reality we are dealing with something that is frankly magic. In fact, the very same Biblical passage cautions us about this, pointing out that the light of the Word "shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it." Or, to put it in the slightly saltier terms expressed in the Book of Petey, "the weird light shines in the dark, but the dorks don't get it. For truly, the weirdness was spread all through the world, and yet, the world basically kept behaving as if this were just your ordinary, standard-issue cosmos."

One additional point would appear relevant. From Genesis 1:26 and 27 we read "Then God said 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness'.... So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female he created them." We are particularly interested in how our capacity for creativity might mirror the primordial creative activity of the Divine Mind.

So, what is language, anyway? What is a word? As a matter of fact, a word is a very special thing, because only it has the capacity of bridging the dualistic worlds introduced by primordial creation. Apparently words can do this because they are somehow prior to the great duality and therefore partake of both heaven and earth, above and below, vertical and horizontal.

The literal meaning of the word "symbol" is to "throw together" or across, as if words are exterior agents that join together two disparate things. But the Biblical view would suggest that language actually has this "throwing together" capacity because it somehow subtends the world on an interior level: language is what the world is made of, so it shouldn't surprise us that with it we can see all kinds of deep unities in the cosmos. The unities are there just waiting to be discovered, and language is our tool for doing that.

"In the beginning" of human consciousness there is also a fundamental duality--or dialectic--between the conscious (horizontal) and unconscious (vertical) minds. It is incorrect to visualize the mind in spatial terms as a sort of unconscious space below, with a line separating it from the conscious mind above. In reality, each moment of consciousness involves a generative, ceaselessly flowing "translation," or unfolding, of multidimensional, nonlocal mental space that cannot be thought about, into a local, linear, and particularized expression that can be thought about.

Again, in a healthy person there is a fluid and generative dialectic between these two realms. But many things can go wrong with that process--in fact, most forms of psychopathology have to do with the person being caught up and entangled on one end or the other. There are some people--let's call them the obsessive-compulsives--who live their lives wading in the shallow, rocky shoreline of the conscious side, while others--let's call them hysterics and borderlines--get lost in the storm-tossed sea of the unconscious side. Again, the key is a dialectical rapport between the two dimensions. That's where you are really "alive." And much of that aliveness has to do with language, that secret key to the universe.

For what is a word? What is so special about language? Again, a word easily serves as an emissary between the two worlds. On the one hand, a word refers to something particular in space and time--a cup, a tree, a dog. On the other hand, a word is by definition an abstraction with no localized or localizable being: we only recognize cup or tree or dog because they are a function of cupness, treeness or dogginess. Therefore, words are the local tools of the translating function of vertical into horizontal being, of infinite into finite, of eternity into time and back again--if we know how to use them. If we do not live in the dark.


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

The mind parasites don't really care if you go spiritual on them, so long as you don't leave them behind. A moment's glance at the history of religion shows this to be true. Religion has almost been ruined by mind parasites, and it is perfectly understandable if a sophisticated modern person were to reject it on that basis alone.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or as one wag put it:

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

Monday, June 19, 2006

We are Endowed by our Biology with Certain Unalienable Illusions and Appetites (updated 9.08.07)

While trawling around for a topic this morning, I came across this idiotorial in the Guardian by Noam Chomsky, A Negotiated Solution to the Iranian Nuclear Crisis is Within Reach. Naturally he blames the United States and Israel for the problem. Unlike us, "sophisticated Iranians" are “surely not as willing as the west to discard history to the rubbish heap.” That is, “They know that the United States, along with its allies, has been tormenting Iranians for more than 50 year.” Unsophisticated Iranians presumably live outside Chomskian history as well, and perhaps think that the totalitarian regime that rules their lives is somehow evil.

But you knew Chomsky was going to say that. He doesn’t “think” so much as apply a template over reality so that it always comes out looking the same: U.S. bad, enemies of U.S. good. Chomsky, of course, is one of the intellectual luminaries of the far left, and the far left is increasingly becoming indistinguishible from the left (which long ago abandoned liberalism).

On the adolescent playground of college campuses, Chomsky's books are always among the biggest sellers. In the course of his career, like the left itself, he has only been wrong about everything (most egregiously, our last generations-long battle against evil), but that doesn’t matter, since the purpose of socialism is not to be effective or to describe reality, but to transform the consciousness of the person who believes it. Therefore, it would be a waste of time to analyze the substance of Chomsky’s ideas, which are frankly bizarre. He is much more of a religious cult figure and should be regarded as such. He cannot be discredited.

Religion is the realm of ultimate values. I was intrigued by a passing comment at the top of Chomsky’s editorial that reveals his: “The urgency of halting the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and moving toward their elimination, could hardly be greater. Failure to do so is almost certain to lead to grim consequences, even the end of biology's only experiment with higher intelligence” (emphasis mine).

So here we have a literal inversion of reality on every level: political, historical, ethical, epistemological, theological and ontological. The classical liberalism of American idealism is explicitly religious, even if it doesn’t explicitly favor one particular Judeo-Christian denomination over another. But clearly, there was a consensus among our founders that human beings, and only human beings, were endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights that are rooted in our very humanness. Liberty is meaningless without both free will and a proper divine end for our free will. In the absence of a free will that transcends biology, liberty is obviously impossible. And in the absence of the Good and True, both our behavior and our thinking can have no meaning that isn’t ultimately arbitrary. (In other words, thinking must converge on truth, just as behavior must converge on virtue.)

This is the “American experiment”: it was an experiment in the adventure of consciousness to see if would be possible to facilitate psycho-spiritual evolution by setting up the appropriate framework--to unleash human potential, in part by starting out with a more accurate anthropology and ontology. For if you get either of these wrong at the outset, then your political philosophy will be hopelessly dysfunctional.

Adam Smith’s ideas are infinitely more effective than Marx’s ideas because they begin with a very accurate and concrete assessment of human psychology, whereas Marx (and every leftist since him) begins with abstract and general ideas that are superimposed on reality. What doesn’t fit into the framework must be attacked, denied, belittled, and eliminated in order to preserve the framework. Thus, the ontological origins of the perpetually “angry left.” How could they not be? It’s inherently painful when reality doesn’t conform to your fantasies.

The mullahs and Islamonazis have their own dysfunctional version of reality, while Chomsky and the left have another. In the end, one is no worse than the other, which is probably why they find such common ground in their opposition to liberal America. In Chomsky’s religion, matter is God. A nuclear holocaust would be tragic because it would end “biology's only experiment with higher intelligence.” Turning the cosmos upside down, human intelligence is subordinate to biology. The human mind is simply an “experiment” of biology. Could this possibly be true? I don't know. You would have to ask biology. It’s her experiment, not ours.

The religious creed of the secular leftist would go something like this:

“I believe in a single substance, the mother of all forces, which engenders the life and consciousness of everything, visible and invisible. I believe in a single lord, biology, the unique son of the substance of the world, born from the substance of the world after centuries of random experimentation: the encapsulated reflection of the great material sea, the epiphenomenal light of primordial darkness, the false reflection of the real world, consubstantial with the mother-substance. It is he who has descended from the shadows of the mother-substance, he who has taken on flesh from matter, he who plays at the illusion of thought from flesh, he who has become the Human Brain. As a Human Brain, I acknowledge a single method for the elimination of error, thus ultimately eliminating myself and returning to the mother substance. Amen.” (Adapted from a passage by Valentin Tomberg.)

Stripped of their illusions of divinity, humans are then free to be what they are, with their biology unbound:

Power into will, will into appetite,
And appetite, a universal wolf,
So doubly seconded with will and power,
Must make perforce a universal prey
And last eat himself up. --Shakespeare

Chomsky gives a pass to the ravenous wolves of Islam, just as he gave a pass to the monsters of depravity who enslaved the communist world. He has to. It's his theology. Or biology. Same thing.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

I Got Plenty of Nothin'

Gee, usually if I write something needlessly inflammatory my numbers go up. But according to my site meter, I had only 350 visits yesterday. In fact, according to Google analytics, the last six days have been 523 --> 487 --> 501 --> 451 --> 373 --> 304, not a good trend.

I’m not complaining, but it seems that there is not a whole lot of potential interest in my bobservations. At this rate, if I don't stop blogging soon, I run the risk of losing my audience entirely. I suppose I never expected otherwise, but it does occasionally make a fellow wonder whether there might be a less futile way to bark at the moonbats, tilt at the windbags, and engage in this wild nous chase. It’s not your fault, since you’re obviously reading this. It’s that deathly silent majority of 6,451,058,290 No Cosmos readers.

I’m pretty sure I’d get more traffic if I posted nothing. In lieu of that, I suppose I could just post about nothing. After all, nothing is a topic of vital concern to us all. We’d all like to know something about nothing, since our lives seem to be framed by it. For those of you who have ignored my equally unpopular book, you have no way of knowing that it is also framed by NOTHING, since the book is circular and begins and ends with that word.

But if you look closely, you will notice that the book doesn’t even begin and end with nothing, for, as Meister Eckhart, the greatest Christian mystic of them all, said, “There is something in the soul which which is above the soul, divine, simple, an absolute nothing; rather unnamed than named; unknown than known....”

Thus, beyond even the nothing we can say is the nothing that can only be silently unsaid, and, as we all know, the multiplication of two negatives results in a positive, which is why the book (and cosmos) has to start up again with a big bang on page 12. Creatio ex nihilo is the technical term, the divine something for nothing or sacred free lunch to which we owe our existence.

This is what is meant by the mythsemantical phrase, conceived in d’light immaculate, every lila son of adwaita is born of a voidgin. Trancelighting this unglish into pure nonsense, it means, roughly, that, if we look at the situation veridically, we are all miraculously born out of the nondual void as a result of the cosmic play, or lila. To quote the Meister again, “the Father ceaselessly begets his Son and, what is more, he begets me as his son--the selfsame Son!”

Many Christians, Jews, Vedantins, and assorted Cosmonaughts have experienced the divine Nothing, that “fount of all being, unborn thus undying, beginning and end of all impossibility, empty plenum and inexhaustible void.” One of the great modern Eastern Orthodox writers, Vladimir Lossky, wrote that the divine nature is “like a sea of essence, indeterminate and without bounds, which spreads far and wide beyond all notion of time and nature.”

Why does it do that? Because existence is inevitable, given the fact that it is in the nature of the Good to radiate and communicate itself. God is not some old nobodaddy who can’t create anamour. Rather, he is really and truly the only unnarcissary thing there is. That’s why he even dies a little to give the cosmos life. As all you parents know, parenthood is a joyous sacrifice. In God’s case, it is kenosis, the self-emptying and self-surrender represented by the creation of the world and symbolized by the cross, where he is nilled to a blank for our benefit. Yes, the Nothing became something so that the something could become Nothing.

So we should thank our father in heaven and give him an abbasalute for his undertaking of mortality, for our daily lessons in evanescence, for this manifestivus for the rest of us. He expectorated this cosmic mirrorcle, and we are his spittin’ image. If that weren’t so, we could never know nothing but wholly matterimany. And to put it kabbalistically, that wouldn’t be ainsoferable. Far from it.


"It is fantastic, this Light which empties, annihilates, fulfills you; and how true the Upanishads are! But to discover them is a mortal blow, because you can only discover them in yourself, on the other side of death!

"The 'I' of the morning of Easter is of another order... The saving name of Christ is aham asmi, I AM. And the deep confession of faith is no longer the external 'Christ is Lord,' but so ham asmi, I am He. Like him at once born and not born. The Father in relation to the Son--to me--to all. The Son in relation to me--to all. Myself in relation to every conscious being; born in all, ceaselessly, and yet always face to face.

"Everything is a mystery of the face to face and the within. OM Abba!"

--Father Henri Lasaux/Swami Abhishiktananda