Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I Regret in Advance Anyone Who Hurts Their Own Feelings by Misinterpreting My Fractious Attempt at Humor

Even in pain, missing one knee, and wobbly from hydrocodone, Dr. Sanity can still stand on her other leg and somehow simultaneously use it to knee the enemies of liberty where it would count if only they had a pair. In any event, don't try that move at home unless you're a member of Cirque du Soleil.

Dr. Sanity sites a wonderfully ill-luminating (“shining a light on illness”) post at dailykos, extolling the progressive nature of the Iranian demonocracy. Unlike some fascist Christian theocracies,

“Iran has invested its oil wealth in universal education, healthcare, infrastructure bringing clean water and electricity to more than 98 percent of its people, and economic progress. Military spending is a paltry $91 per capita compared to more than $1,500 per capita in the United States and Israel. The social and economic achievements of the revolutionary regime in Iran in the past 25 years look quite progressive in reducing poverty and social inequalities, and as the society liberalizes toward a more secular democratic regime, even better progress can be expected in the future. Compared to rising inequality in the United States and Israel, ranked numbers one and two for social inequality among developed nations, the Iranians look pretty damn good.”

Nevertheless, “the usual crowd can be expected to comment on women, gays and political dissidents as being targets for repression in Iran. Without minimizing the issues, I'm not convinced that the case isn't overstated and that the repression isn't outweighed by wider social advances. Women and children rarely suffer the isolation, poverty and violence in Iran that so many suffer from family breakdown in America. Women in Iran are now universally educated, taking 65 percent of university places, marrying later, having fewer children, and driving social change. Even Iran has a vibrant gay subculture. The United States imprisons a higher proportion of its population than Iran (or any other nation) does, and that proportion continues to rise despite falling crime rates.”

First of all, no, this is not parody. Rather, this is the base of the Democratic party, the exceedingly base base that thinks you voted for them just because you rejected the Republican party. They have no objection to getting kosy with the Iranian regime. After all, they are fellow travelers, in that they both travel backward and call it progress.

As an asnide, everyone thinks the left is just being cynical in undermining the war on terror, but there's a greater principle involved. That is, if they change their normal behavior and stop trying to weaken the nation, it's like the terrorists have won. Making us less safe is their way of really sticking it to the terrorists. So, as Dr. Sanity reminds us,

“The fact that [Iran’s] president is the actual intellectual heir of Adolf Hitler is irrelevant; the fact that Iran actually IS a religious theocracy is of no matter. What is reality, after all, when compared to the fantasy universe of their feelings, where Bush = Hitler and the U.S. is imminently going to have a Christian theocracy imposed upon it! What does it matter that a few gays are strung up and hanged by the neck until dead, when we are dealing with such important ‘progressive’ ideas that are hallmarks of Iranian justice system. It is even possible for such moral degenerates to convince themselves that there is more oppression of women, children and gays right here in the U.S.! The idea that these wonderful, advanced and civilized people, who rape women daring to go out without the proper clothing, are more socially progressive than we neanderthals in the West, is a concept that only the left is stupid enough to embrace.”

But for Horizontal Man, since he has no “spiritual” needs -- being that he can have no soul -- the only measure of the good society is how well it meets the needs of the physical body and the collective -- the latter being its own absolute god, consistent with the dictates of cultural relativism. Thus, just as in the socialist paradise of Cuba or the USSR, everyone is educated. It matters not that their education specifically involves miseducation. Since all truth is relative anyway, what difference does it make? Here in the west we have our own tenurmites who eat away at the foundation of civilization and call it “education.”

These acadhimmis and crockademics know that it is our own arrogant cultural insensitivity -- ignorance, really -- that prevents us from seeing the rich beauty of the Iranian regime. It reminds me of that book I cited a while back -- you know, the Muslim Book of Virtues, by an imam who is sort of the William Bennett of the Islamic world -- except in his case, his only serious gambling involved marrying one of his wives before seeing what her face looked like (which is, after all, why they allow more than one to a customer). Here are a few "wise old Islamic sayings" from the book that I think are particularly relevant to our discussion. These are almost clichés in the Islamic world, but they are probably new to you:

“Sticks and stones will break your bones if your words should ever humiliate me.”

“If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try to blame the Jews.”

“Fool me once, death to you. Fool me twice? Ain’t gonna happen.”

“A penny saved will help finance a martyrdom operation.”

“There's something rotten in Denmark. Free speech.”

“Give a Palestinian a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Give him refugee camps and UN handouts, and he'll steal your fish forever.”

“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Period.”

“One picture is worth a thousand riots.”

“Ask me no questions and I will tell you lies just for the hell of it.”

“The race doesn't always go the swift, but to the sneaky and duplicitous.”

“Good fences make it more difficult to kill your neighbors.”

“If it's broke, we have no idea how to fix it.”

“If you can't beat 'em, at least try to kill and maim as many of their children as possible.”

“If you can't say anything nice, Grand Ayatollah Khamemei just might select you to be the President of Iran.”

“It's not whether you win or lose, it's how much meaningless suffering you can inflict.”

“Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, the wretched refuse of your teeming deserts. They will make excellent suicide bombers.”

Now that I’m just free-associating, I am reminded of the excellent children's book Mommy is a Democrat. Here are a few gems pulled out at random:

“Ask not what your country can do for you. Instead, pack the Supreme Court with activist judges and make it an entitlement.”

“It's not how you play the game, so long as no one wins or loses and gets their feelings hurt.”

“A fool and someone else's money can solve any societal problem.”

“If life gives you lemons, file a class action suit against Sunkist.”

“A person is known by the company he boycotts.”

“When the going gets tough, the tough start leaking.”

“Beggars can't be choosers. Rather, they're now called ‘homeless.’”

“Boys will be boys, at least until government provides subsidized ritalin for every last one of them.”

“Regardless of your background, any American who really works hard at it can still be a victim.”

Hey, I know I’m offensive. But you can’t judge me, because you need to be more sensitive to redneck psychologist culture.

By the way, I happen to agree with dailykos about the superiority of the Iranian healthcare system. Did you know that every woman in Iran has complete coverage for forced clitoridectomies?

Muslim girls are also more physically fit than ours. I read a study that says that in some Muslim countries, sixty percent of the girls are forced to undergo clitoridectomies. Impressively, this means that forty percent of the girls can run faster than their brothers.

And the Iranians are still pushing ahead with their Manhattan Project. Of course, they say they're only developing nuclear reactors for peaceful purposes. Personally I'd feel better about it if they had figured out peaceful applications for rocks and belts. For them, it's a wardrobe malfunction when some boob doesn't explode out of his vest. But as they say, "better to light a single stick of dynamite than to curse the darkness."

Of course, if only Jon Carry had been elected, we wouldn’t be having this problem with Iran. Unlike Bush, he would have bent over forwards to get along with the mullahs.

Speaking of Iranian democracy, that's what you call a farce only a mullah could love.

Of course, Our Friends the Saudis couldn’t be more pleased with the results of our recent election. Every time they saw Speaker Pelosi’s face on al Jazeera, they serenaded her with chorus after chorus of Wahhabi Days are Here Again. Then again, they have no way of knowing that Pelosi's face always looks that surprised.

Did you know that none of the maps in Iran show Israel? That's what they mean when they refer to their "roadmap to peace."

And why do they hate us so much, anyway? True, without U.S. interference, the Islamic world wouldn't be stuck in the fourteenth century. Instead, they'd be right where they want to be, mired in the twelfth.

But you know what? At least Iran has a vibrant gay culture. Or at least it did until dailykos let the cat out of the burqa. I'm guessing that when the mullahs find out, they'll do what we did to the b'aath houses in Iraq....

Speaking of cats, did you hear that Cat Stevens is releasing his first album since his conversion to Islam over 25 year ago? Before he became a Muslim, he wrote the music for the film Harold and Maude, the story of a morbid, death-obsessed young man bent on killing himself to get back at others. The more things change....

Friday, November 10, 2006

On Flushing Reality Down the Psychic Toilet (3.3.08)

I’m trying to imagine what it must feel like for Horizontal Man to win an election. I know that for me and other vertical beings of my acquaintance, there is no great joy upon winning an election, usually just relief that we have managed to temporarily pull the cultural plane out of its death spiral. But for Horizontal Man, politics is his religion, which is the whole problem with his politics.

Vertical man is born again “from above,” drawing energies from the cosmogonic center and radiating them to the horizontal periphery. But since Horizontal Man is trapped in the bewilderness of his contingent being (i.e., maya), he projects the above into the future, and constructs a faux spiritual life that attempts to draw psychic energies from this self-created illusion. In other words, he practices the religion of progressivism, in which belief in a transcendent heaven is immamentized and nourishes the place where his soul should be. In doing so, he receives a kind of existential consolation which may be compared to a form of counterfeit grace, in particular, when he imagines that he is in proximity to this heaven and therefore closer to being “saved” from the existential situation that afflicts all humans.

You can clearly see this mechanism of horizontal salvation in action. For if reality were actually what the fantasists of the left have been saying it was prior to the election, we would not see manic exaltation among their ranks. Rather, we would see great sobriety and moral seriousness, as they brood on the monumental achievement of having just barely prevented a theo-fascist takeover of America. If this self-evident fantasy had been real, the more appropriate reaction of the left would be sobbing, not fist-pumping and sack dancing.

The great psychoanalyst Melanie Klein divided human psychological development into two main stages, which she termed the paranoid-schizoid and the depressive positions. (I will try to avoid pedantry at risk of over-simplification.) For Klein, the primary goal of development was to move from the former to the latter, although in reality, the relationship between the two is more dialectical than linear, similar to the relationship that exists between the conscious and unconscious minds. In other words, we no longer think of an unconscious mind per se, but a dialectical relationship between the conscious and unconscious. This dialectic can be fruitful and generative, or stultifying and self-defeating, but you can no more rid yourself of the unconscious than you could speak without the deep structure of grammar.

Human beings are subject to the nuisance of intrusive thoughts long before they are capable of thinking them. The problem for development is to build a psychic structure in which one may think thoughts instead of merely being thought by them. Naturally, our earliest psychological reality is almost wholly fantastic, and it is actually the primary job of the parent to prolong this fantasy until the baby becomes capable of discovering reality.

This is why you cannot “spoil” an infant. Rather, you must indulge them until they are resilient enough to tolerate the painful and disappointing discovery of reality. Ironically, this can only be achieved if they have a firm foundation of entitlement and generative fantasy -- for example, the fantasy that one’s painful hunger causes a bountiful breast to magically appear out of nowhere. This loving breast must be internalized before the baby makes the disappointing discovery that it actually belongs to mother (let alone, father), or reality will have to be attacked or rejected in some form or fashion. We must be provided with, and then gradually disillusioned of, our infantile omnipotence, on pain of trying to hold on to it for the rest of our lives.

The paranoid-schizoid position takes place in the first year of life. Naturally there is no clear sense of psychological boundaries at this time, which is why the psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott made the famous remark that “there is no such thing as an infant.” Rather, there is only a harmonious, mixed-up fusion of mother and baby. The baby’s sense of individual selfhood will only gradually emerge from this primordial matrix.

Klein called this the “paranoid-schizoid position” because it is the source of our most primitive psychological defenses -- i.e., denial, splitting, and projection. These defenses are normative for a baby, but only become problematic to the extent that we fail to evolve into the depressive position. At this early age, we shouldn’t even think of them as defenses, but more as primitive modes of organizing otherwise chaotic experience. For example, splitting early experience into a “good” and “bad” breast is analogous to God’s separation of the primordial waters. It is an attempt to achieve safety by placing a distance between what are in reality different aspects of oneself. Projection obviously works the same way.

In the depressive position, the infant gradually integrates experience into a coherent self which is able to distinguish fantasy from reality. You might think that this is an unproblematic achievement, but you would be quite wrong. We all carry remnants of the paranoid-schizoid position, some much more so than others (in my book, I refer to these remnants as “mind parasites”).

For example, the borderline individual engages in severe splitting between good and bad. If you disappoint or frustrate them, they will suddenly perceive you as all bad, completely forgetting their many positive experiences with you. It is as if the “good you” no longer exists (this process should not be confused with garden-variety PMS). Likewise, a narcissistic individual only has use for you so long as you serve as a mirror for their primitive, paranoid-schizoid grandiosity. As soon as you fail to idealize them, they will react with anger or contempt in order to maintain their illusion of greatness.

The “manic defenses” are those defenses that prevent movement from the paranoid-schizoid to the depressive position, and include contempt, triumph, control and idealization. Basically, you can think of these defenses as coming into play when reality threatens to impinge upon fantasy. In fact, these defenses ultimately consist of attacks on a reality the individual has discovered but does not wish to perceive.

Yesterday we touched on the concept of “group fantasy.” In my view, the philosophy of secular leftism is very much rooted in the paranoid-schizoid position, whereas the classical liberalism embodied in the conservative intellectual movement is much more reflective of the depressive position. Here, I hope it should go without saying that I am not referring to individuals, as there are obviously many immature conservatives and mature liberals. Rather, I am specifically discussing the group dynamic.

If I am correct, then we will see in conservatism a much more sober and realistic assessment of mankind. As I have mentioned before, I am of the view that conservatism is as much an inclination, temperament, or “cast of mind” as it is any set doctrine. In fact, the doctrines follow from the temperament rather than vice versa. This would explain why normal people generally become more conservative as they mature and grow wiser, whereas leftism mostly appeals to the young or to the permanently immature of academia and Hollywood.

A while back, I wrote a post which summarized the main tenets of conservatism and liberalism. Let’s review them and see how they line up in terms of the paranoid-schizoid vs. depressive positions. I think they basically speak for themselves.

Russell Kirk summarized the six canons of conservative thought as

1. Belief in a transcendent order; and that most political problems are moral problems resulting from bad values. (To cite an obvious example, if Hispanic or Black Americans adopted Asian American values, they would be just as successful.)

2. Appreciation of the ineffable mystery of existence, and with it, opposition to the tedious uniformity, egalitarianism, and utilitarian aims of of most radical systems.

3. An understanding that liberty and equality are contradictory aims; a belief that there are distinctions between men and that classes will emerge naturally and spontaneously in a free society. “If natural distinctions are effaced among men, oligarchs fill the vacuum.”

4. A belief that property and freedom are intimately linked. “Economic leveling... is not economic progress.”

5. Distrust of radical schemes by liberal intellectuals “who would reconstruct society upon abstract designs” that simply mask the intellectual’s lust for power.

6. Recognition that change and reform are not synonymous, and that “prudent change is the means of social preservation.”

In contrast, contemporary left-liberalism has entirely different assumptions and attacks (manically, in my estimation) the existing social order on the following grounds:

1. “The perfectibility of man”; the belief that education, environment or legislation “can produce men like gods; they deny that humanity has a natural proclivity towards violence and sin.”

2. Contempt for tradition. “Formal religion is rejected and various ideologies are presented as substitutes.”

3. Political leveling: “Order and privilege are condemned,” accompanied by “an eagerness for centralization and consolidation.”

4. Economic leveling: “The ancient rights of property... are suspect to almost all radicals.”

In closing, here is a fine example of paranoid-schizoid thinking drawn from dailykos, with the edifying title The Bowel Has Moved. If we could give voice to the paranoid-schizoid position, this is exactly what it would sound like (although any infantile rant by Keith Olbermann or Bill Maher would do just as well). A mere three days ago, President Bush was a terrifying, omnipotent figure of pure evil destroying our democracy. But now, thanks to psychological splitting, he is “a weak man in over his head -- a Dan Quayle for our times.” And thanks to projection, Karl Rove, the “giant turd clogging the colon of American politics.... has been flushed.”

But there is one thing of which we may be absolutely certain: that the bad object will not stay down long, because, in the words of the great psychologist Dr. Beavis, “you can’t run away from your bunghole.”

Last night I dreamt of an angry, diapered mob chasing John Bolton with plungers....  

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Elections, Group Fantasy, and Human Sacrifice

One of the reasons why most MSM political writing is so shallow, is that it is analogous to a person with no knowledge of the unconscious writing about the mind. Such a person will necessarily place undue emphasis on conscious motivations, when for most people, the conscious mind is a fleeting jumble of patchwork improvisations compared to the more enduring patterns the unconscious mind. This applies both individually and collectively, for as I have stated in the past, a culture or subculture is like a public neurosis, while a neurosis is like a private culture. Religion, in its proper sense, is (among other obvious reasons) here to rescue us from the foolishness of culture -- to provide a key to eternity within the transient productions of time.

One of Freud’s central discoveries was that the unconscious mind operates along the lines of an entirely different kind of logic than does the conscious mind. Among other things, it is timeless, in the sense that various enduring complexes and fixations operate outside the personal will and repeat themselves in an ultimately self-defeating way.

But from the standpoint of these mind parasites, the job of the ego is simply to rationalize and spin a sort of false continuity over the various inconsistencies that result from vertical splits within the unconscious mind. This is why most people are so patently illogical, in particular, intellectuals. Furthermore, this explains why no one is so prone to illusions and magic than the intellectual, as they are like someone who (using the symbols in my book) superimposes a grid of knowledge (k) over the noumenal reality (O), and then confuses the map with the territory. There is no idea so foolish that it is not taught at one of our elite universities.

In reality, the local ego floats within a sea of nonlocal consciousness extending both “up” and “down” (please don’t be like an intellectual and take the map literally). Now, there is no question that we exist in time and that the human being evolved within time. The ego is an adaptation to this temporal existence, but it is only an adaptation. All traditions agree that a central task of the spiritual life is to dis-identify with this illusory local and contingent being and to become aware of the greater reality of which it is only a local manifestation.

However, things will go seriously awry if you merely loosen the bonds of the ego and wade into the unconscious unawares, for you may well simply open the gates of hell, as the history of religion often demonstrates. In reality, the Islamists are hardly “religious.” Rather, they are “unconscious.” However, what most westerners do not understand -- perhaps because of the pride and prestige of the intellect -- is that they are also serious intellectuals who have a clearly articulated ideology. As I have had occasion to mention many times, we are in a triangulated global war between three ideologies, two of which are naively steeped in unconscious fantasy (Islamism and secular leftism). While everyone is subject to unconscious motivations, the classical liberalism of American conservatism is rooted in a far more realistic vision of human nature than any of its competitors.

Obviously we are seeing an abundance of analysis of the recent election, but to me, most of it is about as illuminating as an intellectual patient’s rationalizations of his self-defeating behavior. Intellectuals are just like anyone else, only worse, in that they do not so much reason as rationalize what they already believe anyway.

Psychohistorian Lloyd deMause observes that “most of what is in history books is stark raving mad -- the maddest of all being the historian’s belief that it is sane.” He believes that large groups are almost always driven more by fantasy than reality. Different nations and groups have different “group fantasies” which are designed not to negotiate with reality but to contain fears and anxieties.

This is why the further back in history one travels, the more one can identify group fantasies that clearly have no basis in fact and are driven by irrational anxiety and fear -- witch hunts, senseless wars, racial and religious scapegoating, panics of various kinds. But if your perceptual abilities have not been damaged by multiculturalism, you can see the fantasies just as clearly in the present. For example, as noted above, our “war on terror” is being waged against Islamist fantasists for whom reality does not enter into the equation. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make it easier to combat them, but more difficult. Israel has been fighting a version of this fantasy since its very existence, but in truth, Jews have been at war with paranoid anti-Semitic fantasists for over two thousand years. Fantasies are obviously quite lethal.

The important point is that the fantasy precedes the reality, and will look for conditions in external reality to support it, identical to the manner in which the paranoid mind operates. According to deMause, the state of the group fantasy is what national opinion polls actually capture. That is, they take a snapshot of the “mood of the country,” which mostly consists of “gut feelings” that have nothing to do with actual conditions, only with the shifting nature of the group fantasy.

As such, the fact that the economy is thriving is literally inconsequential to the significant majority of Americans who fantasize that it is not. In contrast, FDR was able to sustain a unifying group fantasy despite economic polices that aggravated and extended the Great Depression. In fact, this is often what makes a “great leader”: the ability to forge a strong and compelling fantasy for people to believe in. When the mood of a populace is “angry” or “sullen,” as pollsters have been repeating ad nauseam, it is almost always because the group fantasy -- whose purpose it is to contain primitive anxiety -- is breaking down.

The identical thing happens to a patient who is “decompensating.” The colloquial term for this is a “nervous breakdown,” but what it really means is that the ego’s customary defenses are failing and that the person is being overwhelmed by unconscious material. People will often make rash and irrational choices in such a situation, for example, making Nancy Pelosi speaker of the house and imagining that it will stop the psychic bleeding. It might, but only for the time it takes for the unconscious cycle to renew itself.

So a national opinion poll -- including an election -- doesn’t necessarily provide much in the way of objective information about objective circumstances, but subjective data about how it “feels” to be part of a historical group at a particular time. In fact, deMause turns the presidential approval rating on its head. He doesn’t believe that it actually measures approval but disapproval about how effectively or ineffectively a fantasy leader is “containing” the public’s anxiety. Since the group is largely driven by fantasy, it naturally follows that they will look for a leader who can reassure them about the world and diminish their anxiety.

In this regard, it is a mistake to think of the fantasy leader as an oedipal parent; the process is much more primitive, involving the need for pre-oedipal projection and containment. Using this method, one would not say that President Bush has a 35% approval rating, but a 65% “toxicity” rating. But the toxicity is a measure of how much unconscious material is being projected into him by a large segment of the group.

This is one of the reasons it is so wearying to be president, because it involves the day-to-day processing of so much irrational projection of hatred and anxiety. I personally don’t know how President Bush puts up with it. All therapists know how difficult it is to deal with just one borderline patient in their practice, but it is as if a president must deal with the projections of fifty million or so difficult patients who are irrationally experiencing him as evil incarnate. The president must be a receptacle for continuous projections from various levels of emotional immaturity and unreality. And in the case of President Bush, who tends not to fight back and engage with the projections, it only makes that part of the population more enraged with him, just as a borderline patient would feel outraged if the therapist did not take their perceptions seriously, no matter how distorted. One of the difficult things about being a therapist is “holding” the patient’s negative projections. You cannot just say, “I’m not your father who abused you! I’m me!” Rather, you must patiently tolerate being Dr. Evil while helping them discover the psychic truth behind their projection.

It is fascinating to note that the left is so out of touch with their fantasies about President Bush, that one constantly reads about how they imagine that he is fighting back in the most dangerous and extreme way -- that he doesn’t tolerate dissent, that he questions people’s patriotism, that he is destroying our civil rights, that he punishes ideological enemies. Pure projection.

People who are stripped of important group fantasies will feel like they are going crazy -- just like primitive groups who are suddenly “decultured” of the myths that have served to organize their cognitive/emotional world. It is fair to say that the left has been dealing with this sort of anxiety since the 1980’s, as their various political fantasies have been discredited one by one. But just like a religious group that predicts the second coming, the majority of leftists simply dig in their heels when their predictions prove false. This shows the extent to which their outward political ideology rests on a deeper structure of irrational fantasy that is nearly impossible to eradicate.

deMause outlines a four-part process that the fantasy leader undergoes in relation to the group. At first the group will see him as unrealistically strong, magically able to unify the group and keep enemies at bay. Certainly we saw this in the months after 9-11, when President Bush was so popular. Again, his popularity had little to do with the actual merits of his policies, but with the public’s need to feel safe, and the feeling that Bush would protect them. Stage two is the “cracking” stage, when the feelings of magical nurturing begin to deteriorate, so that the public’s mood begins to feel unstable and dangerous. The leader begins to be experienced as weak, unable to control events. Looking back, I believe that this really started with the successful attacks on President Bush’s Thanksgiving trip to Iraq a couple of years ago, but especially after the Terry Schiavo matter.

Stage three, “collapse,” occurs when the public begins to feel that the fantasy leader is helpless to prevent catastrophe -- when the group’s anxiety has become unhinged and uncontained in a completely unrealistic way. This brings on pure rage and free-floating paranoid fantasies of death and destruction. Thus we see the President unrealistically blamed and vilified for all sorts of things outside his control -- homosexual predators, hurricaines, rising (but never falling) gas prices, global warming, deadly flu pandemics, etc. He is seen as weak and vulnerable, which triggers a wave of near homicidal anxiety that aims to purify the group by ritual slaying of the divine king, identical to what took place in the most primitive tribes.

One of the geniuses of the American system is that it accounts for both our civilized and our primitive natures. In holding national elections every two years, it provides an outlet for primitive anxieties that historically toppled regimes. In other words, it institutionalizes the logic of human sacrifice, which is stage four of the group fantasy cycle. Thus it is no coincidence that President Bush performed a human sacrifice and held up the head of Donald Rumsfeld to the baying MSM fantasists on the morning after the election. If you keep up with the ranting of the infantile left at dailykos or huffingtonpost, nothing less than some form of human sacrifice would have answered their homicidal rage. But one thing we can know with certainty: it won’t work, for magic is a symtom of that which it purports to cure.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Let the Dems Bury the Dems

Regardless of what happens today, it shouldn’t greatly affect the spiritual equilibrium of the Superior Man, whose invisible combat will continue unabated. Indeed, this is what distinguishes us from the agitated multitude of horizontal men who locate their salvation in politics. To witness the fevered excitement of a crass and loudmouthed vulgarian such as Chris Matthews or the adamantine darkness visible of a Keith Olbermann and the kos-bags for whom he shrieks is to see the human pig in all its naked horizontal glory.

Whatever the outcome, our lives will continue to center around our own salvation, not for narcissistic reasons, but for the simple reason that it is not possible to save others unless we have first saved ourselves. Needless to say, horizontal Republicans will not save us from horizontal Democrats. Both bad religion and bad politics follow from the belief that it is possible for essentially lost souls to save other lost souls, which simply ends up drowning both parties -- the blind leading the bland straight into the abyss.

The project of the left is to make us all useful to the collective, when the only possible justification for the collective can lie in its usefulness to the individual -- again, not in a horizontal, egotistical sense, but in a vertical sense. Assuming that life has a transcendent purpose -- and you cannot be human and not make this assumption -- then the purpose of society should be to help human beings achieve this purpose.

To say that human beings cannot live without an ultimate purpose is another way of saying that man is condemned to transcendence and that he cannot avoid the vertical. The choice is whether he will bow before a manmade idol or stand in the light of the Absolute that is the true source of his quasi-divine dignity and metacosmic stature.

Nor, let it be emphasized, can human beings deny the horizontal, on pain of not existing. In order to be at all, we must be separate from the Absolute. The task before us is to find the proper balance between vertical and horizontal, spirit and matter, time and eternity. Horizontal man, in denying the vertical, necessarily replaces it with a counterfeit, meretrocious version that substitutes the collective for the One and human will for the Divine power.

Taken to its logical extreme, this manifests as the demagogue or dictator-god who expresses the vitalistic will of the people. But all forms of leftism lie on this continuum, including the dark side of American democracy, of “people power,” of class warfare, of the false absolutes of “diversity” and cultural and moral relativism. So much of the pandering of the left is merely totalitarianism in disguise -- a false absolute and a counterfeit vertical.

But we all know -- should know -- that there is a horizontal aspect to the true vertical, which manifests as humility, submission, spontaneous adoration, and a sense of awe before the sacred. Ironically, horizontal man possesses none of these virtues. Rather, he is proud, vulgar, blasphemous, and blind to the sacred, all of which inflate his own self-importance and lift him far above his spiritual superiors.

There is no one so vertical -- in its inverted sense -- as the naive atheist or secular leftist, a contingent being who fraudulently claims absolute metaphysical knowledge for himself. And there is no one so inflated with narcissistic hubris than the leftist social engineer who will save mankind from its own self-inflicted need for salvation. The leftist can give man everything but what he most needs, and in so doing, destroys the possibility of man.

For horizontality goes hand in hand with exteriority and outwardness, which is the initial direction of the fall: first out, then down. Horizontal man is down and out, whereas salvolution lies up and in. Animals are almost entirely exterior. They do not actually live in the world, but in the closed system of their own neurology. Only man -- inexplicably and miraculously on any strict scientific grounds -- can exit the closed system of his own neurology and enter higher worlds, worlds of truth, beauty, and moral goodness.

To be in contact with these higher worlds is to be man. To neglect or deny these anterior worlds is to destroy man, precisely. It is to starve and suffocate man’s spirit by laying waste to his proper environment, the only environment in which he can grow into full manhood. You cannot replace the holy grail with the lowly gruel of flatland materialism and expect it to feed the multitudes. Human beings do not draw their spiritual nourishment from outside but from above -- which in turn “spiritualizes” and sacralizes the horizontal.

Being what he is -- and isn’t -- horizontal man externalizes concerns about his own collective suicide and obsesses over the future of the planet, over speculative weather reports one hundred years hence.

But right now there is a hell and there is a hand basket, because we can clearly see both with our own third eyes. Furthermore, we can see exactly who is running with baskets in both hands.

Now, vertical man never obsesses, let alone enters the state of perpetual hysteria of horizontal man. Nevertheless, vertical man naturally frets about the deteriorating conditions of the interior of the human world, and its seemingly unimpeded slide into barbarism, spiritual exhaustion, scientistic magic, neo-paganism, self-worship, the cult of the body, abstract materialism, and a vapid and rudderless subjectivism.

Such lost souls cannot discern the signs of the times, much less the direction of history. For them, history can be nothing more than a meaningless tale told by a tenured idiot, full of sound and fury but signifying a nice paycheck and adoring coeds. Horizontal man scoffs at spiritual reality on the peculiar grounds that it cannot exist, denying its presence with that which affirms it by virtue of its self-evident existence.

It is a truism that vertical man paradoxically lives very close to the ground, hence the cautionary tales of Eden, of Icarus, of Babel, and of various episodes of the Honeymooners. In contrast, horizontal man seizes what does not properly belong to him, not just recapitulating the fall but enshrining it in his ideology.

But when you cast your vote for horizontal man, you are unwittingly chipping away at the foundation of the very tower in which horizontal man is privileged to sit despite his metaphysical ignorance. For in reality, we only have the luxury of superfluous and slumbering horizontal men because of the vertical men -- real men -- who came before and built the foundation brick by brick (except for the cornerstone, which was not made by human hands).

Thus we can see our own possible future by casting our gaze at Europe, which is too high and top-heavy for its own long-forgotten foundations, and is in the process of toppling into dust. For when horizontal man falls, he doesn’t actually fall far, only back down to the ground where vertical man awaits him.

Yes, we are exiled in time, but for vertical man, time does not alter the basic existential situation which religion is here to address. It is believed by our intellectually and spiritually shallow elites that religion is no longer relevant. In so doing, they underscore their own irrelevance, for they blame Truth for their own lack of qualification to understand and accept it. Suffice it to say that to be eternally young is to forever grow -- only inward and upward, toward the primordial light that has already defeated horizontal darkness, today and forever.

So render unto the horizontal the things that belong to the horizontal, but do not store your treasures there, where myths corrupt and chickens come home to roost. As always, be as wise as the horizontal serpents who stand on their bellies, but innocent as vertical doves who kneel on wings.

Monday, November 06, 2006

A Snake, an Apple, and a Ballot Box

What is at stake Tuesday is the same thing that has been at stake since time immemorial: a choice between the truth that is, has always been, and cannot be invented; and a shallow and improvised falsehood that man -- both individually and collectively -- perpetually fabricates to shield himself from reality. If truth is known and embraced, it is efficacious and leads to dynamic progress. But to the extent that truth is warped or denied, the only result can be various degrees of catastrophe in the form of sharp blows from reality.

There is no getting around the fact that the "culture war" is at bottom a theological dispute between secular and traditionally religious forces. But it would be a great error to conclude that the war therefore involves atheistic vs. theistic camps, much less logic vs. faith. Rather, it is a war of competing theisms, each rooted in faith and steeped in metaphysics. Radical secularists are rarely neutral about God -- in fact, they are obviously burning with passion about spiritual matters. Secular leftism merely replaces one God with another, but in so doing, destroys man.

Human beings cannot help being religious. One of the benefits of religion --properly understood -- is that it prevents the mind from regressing into the magical worldview that preceded its development. Sophisticated secularists believe they are making progress by leaving the “superstitions” of religion behind, but this is rarely the case. As Chesterson said, instead of believing “nothing,” they tend to believe in “anything,” which is where the pseudo-religion of contemporary liberalism -- that is, leftism -- rushes in to fill the void.

Elections are about intentions and about truth. In an election, we are not just choosing a candidate, but choosing our future and affirming what we believe to be true -- not just the facts, but the paradigm for interpreting them. When truth and intent coincide, then progress can occur. But if there is a rupture between them, then democracy easily becomes the method of its own demise.

Almost all liberals have good intentions. The question is whether their intentions are in accord with reality. For if we could only discern what is true, then voting would be seen not so much as a choice but a ratification of the obvious. In the end, you cannot really vote to reject reality. Or you can, but you’ll lose every time.

It seems that the impending election may represent a forked tongue in the historical road ahead. One way or the other, history will inevitably arrive at its appointed deustination, but an election allows us to vote yea or nay on where it has recently been, and to try to steer it in another direction. But without real truth and insight, this exercise can be as frivolous as taking a vote on where your own life has been the previous two years and expecting things to magically change.

We keep hearing that this election is a “referendum on Iraq,” but as always, it is a referendum on reality. In order to not perceive the simple reality that we are in a world war, the leftist mind must unconsciously “attack” any evidence that leads to that conclusion. Thus, it may look like President Bush is being attacked, but he is incidental to the deeper process of attacking and dismantling a reality that the left does not wish to see.

The MSM and their political action wing, the Democratic Party, is not only wrong, but not even wrong, because it is not operating in an environment where truth is permitted, much less perceived. Or, to be perfectly accurate, the truth is unconsciously perceived, over which is erected a makeshift lie that can be easily discerned by any clear thinker. Dr. Sanity writes this morning,

“There has always been something wrong with the MSM's train of reasoning. First the press persisted in encouraging the delusion that no WMD's or their antecedents were ever found in Iraq and that ‘Bush lied.’ Now they want you to believe that Saddam indeed had a detailed and documented program developing WMD's; but that the real problem is that Bush Administration's reckless publishing of the details of that program has facilitated Iran becoming a nuclear power....

“I suspect that the first MSM meme -- that Saddam had no WMD's -- was a type of ‘concrete thinking’; or possibly an unbelievable lack of imagination.... Or maybe, just maybe, no amount of evidence would ever convince some people that Saddam was a threat to the U.S. and the entire world and that he had WMD's.”

*****

Although we are individuals, we are immersed in a collective mentality out of which our individuality must be won. On the horizontal level, our “groupishness” is anterior to our individual self, while the reverse is true vertically. Thus, it should not be surprising that we have a political system that reflects this primordial division (speaking, of course, in very broad, even cosmic, generalizations that have many exceptions and are rarely seen in their pure, archetypal form.)

For there is a “left hand” party of horizontality, groupishness, and rebellious pseudo-indvidualism, and a “right hand” party of verticality and individual development. Many consequences flow from this initial bifurcation of mankind. Right hand man, because he sees his earthly vocation as vertical transcendence, masters himself and loves doing so. Because of this, he does not require a heavy-handed government to compel him to do the right thing. In such an individual, the conquest of even a petty desire is a victory for God if it brings him closer to his true Self, a Self that can only be discovered and developed in an environment of liberty. For vertical man, society is useful to the extent that it helps man realize his reason for being. A society is more or less sick if it does not embody, preserve, and foster verticality.

Vertical Man believes that our primary obligation is to defend man from himself, whereas Horizontal Man believes that his primary obligation is to generate conditions that allow man to indulge himself. As such, he has no interest in mastering himself, for doing so is identified with judgmentalism and oppression. Horizontal man celebrates what is most common and coarse, for there is nothing higher to aim at. Rather, the only “higher” is more freedom, which is liberty understood only in its horizontal aspect. In other words, while liberty is freedom oriented toward a spiritual telos, mere horizontal freedom is license to express one’s whims and impulses. The former is objective and radiates; the latter is subjective and encloses. Vertical liberty leads to Truth, Beauty and Goodness; horizontal freedom leads to “my truth,” moral relativism, and ugliness and barbarism masquerading as art.

But if truth is relative and perception is reality, then no one’s ideas about the world are any better than anyone else’s. Fact is reduced to opinion, and conformity to opinion is ultimately maintained by the group or institution that has the power to enforce its version of reality. Ironically, this achieves the opposite effect intended by its liberal proponents. That is, if we cannot judge the merit of competing ideas by assessing their value in light of an absolute standard, then either everyone will have their own private truth, or truth will be enforced by the state or some other powerful collectivity. On college campuses, no one is unsophisticated enough to believe that truth exists; however, you'd better not utter the wrong truth, or you will come face to face with the Fist that enforces absolute horizontal relativism.

Horizontal man lives below himself because that is all he can do. Quantity must somehow make up for qualities that can only be found in the vertical, which is why horizontal man can never get enough of what he doesn't really need, and why no economy will be “good enough” for him. Tomorrow, millions of horizontal men will be basing their vote on a fantasy that the economy is “doing poorly,” which flies in the face of the barest acquaintance with reality. By definition, horizontal man can only measure progress empirically, but even then, empiricism must ultimately be ignored because it does not speak to the unrecognized non-empirical needs of the soul. Thus, the impoverished soul, with no other outlet to express itself, will do so in the language of quantities -- the many variations of the infant’s “more! more! more!”

The horizontal/vertical divide can also be seen as a reflection of the division between id and superego, or impulses and standards. Based upon a profound misunderstanding of Freud (if a misunderstanding can be called profound), a horizontal psychology emerged in the 1960s to go along with the horizontal ideology of the left, in order to legitimize what in any traditional context would be regarded as the essence of pathology. Major leftist intellectuals like Herbert Marcuse and N.O. Brown developed a bastardized version of Freudianism to argue that people only imagined they were happy, but that they were actually living "inauthentic," repressed lives. In order to be "real," they had to express themselves in an uninhibited and unrepressed manner. Thus followed the idealization of the primitive in all its ghastly forms. For horizontal man does not actually remain horizontal. Rather, he simply removes the impediments to his own fall -- which can admittedly feel exhilarating until one eventually reaches a realm that is without light or warmth.

Regarding our horizontal groupishness, multiculturalism devalues the concept of the individual in favor of the ethnic group, while socialism in all its forms favors the large and powerful state that unites us all (and suppresses -- for any time government does something for you, it does something to you). Deconstruction throws all objective meaning into question, so no one has to have the disappointing experience of being wrong or denied tenure, no matter how stupid one's ideas. The burden of personal responsibility is mitigated, because one's being is determined by accidental factors such as race, class and gender, not one's owns values, decisions and actions. Skillful knowledge acquired by intense effort is replaced by an obnoxious, hypertrophied adolescent skepticism that knows only how to question but not to learn. It is grounded in a sort of bovine materialism that is not the realm of answers, but the graveyard of meaningful questions. The primitive is idealized, because it is within everyone's reach; it is painful to have standards, because not everyone can attain them.

*****

The purpose of religion is to become human. Biology will only take you so far, which is not very far at all. A merely biological human being would also be a monster, a misfit, something grotesque. In our bones we know this. In Genesis, the first thing Adam and Eve realize upon attaining self-consciousness is their nakedness, of which they are ashamed. They know instantaneously -- another one of those things we cannot not know unless we are highly educated -- that they are not like the other animals and that there is something shameful in behaving like one.

In so many ways the contemporary left presents a teaching that is completely at odds with our divine blueprint. “You and me baby ain't nothing' but mammals, So let's do it like they do on the Discovery Channel,” as the Bloodhound Gang put it. How did this monstrous inversion occur? It has nothing at all to do with classical liberalism, which was always rooted in the traditional virtues, those perennial truths of our humanness.

Leftism, in all its forms, is a revolt. Specifically, it is a revolt against our divine-human nature. With the 1960’s came the pervasive message that one could be an authentic human only by being subhuman, by rejecting all of society’s hypocritical mores and values. Therefore -- in a complete inversion of the cosmic order -- the purpose of life was to become “unrepressed” and to overturn tradition, which was simply an illegitimate means of control and domination.

This is why the left cannot help aligning itself with movements -- no matter how vile or evil -- that further this goal of overturning Western values. On a more mundane level, it is one more reason why they do not wish to see the war we are engaged in, because recognizing it would expose the frivolousness of their world view and their very lives.

*****

The establishment does not require the rebel but the rebel requires the establishment, in the same way that the adolescent requires his parents to act out his rebellion. Therefore, leftism isn't just reactionary, but it is a dance of projective identification in which the leftist projects the most human parts of himself outside and then rebels against them. This is what allows him to live without guilt, for the guilt is converted into the imaginary “right wing fascism” that persecutes him.

Ultimately, radical secularism fails as a religion because it has no God, only demons: George Bush, Christian fundamentalists, Mark Foley, "domestic surveillance," Israel, tax cuts for the rich, “stolen elections,” water boarding, Halliburton, Fox News, Abu Ghraib, Karl Rove, corporate profits, disparities in wealth, strict constructionists, parental notification, talk radio, and so many more. On the other hand, the sort of classical liberalism to which I ascribe -- now embodied in the modern American conservative movement -- recognizes that politics must aim at something that is not politics, something higher, not lower. The alienation of the world can be healed, but not in the flat and horizontal line of secular history, or in the endlessly recurring cycle of primitive fusion with nature, but in the ascending, evolutionary spiral.

The secular world is a value-free flatland of nihilism and urgent nonsense, whereas the vertical world accessed by authentic spirituality is a world of hierarchical values to which we are perpetually drawn. It is here that the frontier of psychohistorical evolution lies, for so long as there are free individuals endowed by their Creator with an orientation toward the Good, the True, and the Beautiful, there will always be upward frontiers, not just horizontal edges.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Life Goes On... and In and Up

As an aside, let me just say that... Wait, this can’t be an aside, because I haven’t even started yet. It must be an affront. As an affront -- especially to atheists -- let me just say that it is interesting to me that any development in science easily fits into my spiritual understanding of the cosmos, whereas the reverse is never true: the most sublime spiritual knowledge is unknown and unknowable to the closed and hardened mind of the obligatory atheist.

I may have mentioned this before, but I had this idea of publishing my book in the form of a rolodex -- a “holodex,” as it were. That way, any subsequent scientific discoveries could just be inserted at the appropriate point in the 13.7 billion year adventure of cosmic evolution. While I meant for the book to deal in timeless principles that have no “expiration date,” in order to reduce it to a manageable size, I naturally had to treat large swaths of the pilgrimage from God to God as “flyover country.” In a way, you might say that this blog serves that purpose as well. Everything I write here could be inserted somewhere in the book to supplement or expand upon something that’s already there.

There is no outright rejection of God that does not eventually involve rising up against God. Likewise, there is no rejection of science that doesn’t involve a rising up against science. Thus, we have silly books such as Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, which is a mirror image of some Islamist or Christian fundamentalist diatribe that rejects science. In the first case the vertical is rejected, while in the second case the horizontal is rejected. Both approaches are worthless to the Integral Man who is in contact with the entire spectrum of reality.

Yesterday Dr. Sanity had an important post entitled Losing Your Memory, Your Insight, and Your Mind. No, unlike Dawkins’ exercise in perfect myopia, it is not a “how to.” Rather, she notes new research that has identified a particular part of the brain that is associated with memory and the capacity for psychological insight (or lack thereof):

“Think about it. Memory is absolutely essential for the ability to develop insight. If you cannot remember events and their antecedents or their consequences, then you would be unable to put these events into any kind of context or perspective. If you forget how you thought or felt about these events yesterday, then you cannot easily review the process of how your thinking or feelings altered or consider why.”

In one sense, as Aristotle said, your soul is everything you know. But in another sense, your soul is only that which you can remember, because what you consciously remember is only a subset of what you know. Furthermore, there are many things we know but don’t want to know. When this happens, we patch over the resulting lacunae -- the willful “unknowing” -- with a kind of false knowledge, or what Bion called -k (minus k).

If we imagine the mind existing on a vertical axis, the Freudian unconscious is the lower vertical area, a psychic repository of things we know but don’t want to know. This means that the ego is often the vehicle of things we think we know, but don’t actually know at all (-k). However, since the vertical extends both above and below, the ego is also the vehicle of things we think we don’t know, but actually do. For example, the most outwardly unspiritual man nevertheless “knows” God in his bones, for this is something we were made to know. This is why Dawkins’ book should have been called the “God Delusion Delusion,” because it is an exercise in -k about O (remember, -k is not mere ignorance, but a “rising up” against knowledge).

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.

However, there is also a vertical aspect of language that mediates between the essence of being and the miracle of knowing. In its sacred or mythological aspect, language is the nexus between the vertical and horizontal realms. It imparts a kind of knowing, but one must not confuse this knowing with profane knowing of the linear and unambiguous variety. Just like everyday language, it reveals and discloses an "object." But it is not a three-dimensional object. Rather, it is a hyperdimensional subject-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. In its absence, you will suffer from another kind of undeveloped insight.

Whereas in the horizontal world there is more or less a one-to-one relationship between word and object (or concept), vertical 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 spiritual capacity. 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 horizontal knowledge, which is to turn O into -k, precisely.

On the one hand, we can look at the world horizontally and imagine --fantasize, really -- that matter gave rise to life or that brains give rise to truth. However, such a view generates a multitude of insoluble metaphysical paradoxes and dead ends that can only be resolved if we supplement it with the vertical, topdown view.

Esoterically understood, forgetting is associated with sleeping, and sleeping with death. Thus, in order to restore the world and ourselves, we must remember, wake up, arise and be reborn. For just as there is horizontal recollection -- our conventional memory of the past -- there is “vertical recollection” of the above. And it is literally a re-membering, both because we are dismembered and alienated from vital parts of ourselves if we are exiled in the horizontal, but also because there is such a shock of recognition and familiarity when we encounter and re-collect the primordial Truths that are anterior to us.

In order to understand our situation, you might 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 were, we would be no different than other animals. We would not live in a cognitive space of spiritual freedom, routinely exerting a topdown influence on our horizontal egos. We would not be able to know truth, to love beauty, to will the good, or to delude ourselves with -k about O.

But not everyone seems to have the same degree of topdown influence over themselves-- of free will. In fact, it is a capacity that varies quite widely. According to our unknown friend, "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.... [T]here are some cases where heredity is reduced to a minimum and other cases where it manifests itself as almost all-powerful."

Thus, 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.

Back to the issue of memory and insight. For human beings, remembering is to forgetting as waking is to sleeping and birth is to death. Just as it is possible to forget in the horizontal, it is also possible -- inevitable, actually, due to certain primordial calamity -- to suffer I-AMnesia in the vertical. "Forgetting" the vertical reduces man to animality, just as sleep reduces us to vegetality and death to minerality. To sleep is to forget, to forget is to die. To awaken to the vertical is to remember and to actually be alive, or "born again" from above.

The intellect, or heart-mind, is an organ of truth. Just as the heart pumps blood and the lungs exchange oxygen, the intellect functions to metabolize truth. In fact, human beings would cognitively and spiritually starve and suffocate -- do starve and suffocate -- without constant exchanges with the oxidized blood of Truth from above. Because of this exchange, the mind grows and renews itself.

Now, reader JWM has often spoken eloquently of his struggles with faith, with vertical recollection. And yet, at the same time, just yesterday he wrote, “The last time I posted I was down, and feeling like I’ve made no progress, despite a lot of effort.” However, he had a recent experience in the horizontal that made him realize “I have grown much. Much indeed. I guess I had to see it for myself.”

Yes, you see, eternity takes time. Without time -- horizontal duration -- evolution would not be possible. Rather, there would be only the static, timeless vertical world. While human beings are condemned to relativity and contingency, that is only half the story. Rather, we are also condemned to transcendence, and only in “looking back” in the horizontal can we see how much we have grown and how much we have transcended. I can look back 20, or 10, or five, or one year ago, and see a much “shorter” version of the vertical me.

It is said by naive atheists that you cannot prove the existence of God. Fine. Whatever. But there are two things you can easily prove for yourself, 1) the vertical growth that mysteriously occurs as a result of a relationship with this "imaginary" being, and 2) how much metaphysical and philosophical foolishness is generated by people who deny the existence of this being.

Thus, if you want to have a vivid appreciation of God, just visit a typical secular university campus, where the bottomless sea of foolishness (-k) is the only proof of God you need, so conspicuous is He in His absence.

Put it this way: the vertical became horizontal so that the horizontal might become vertical. If that weren't true, I would still think of Richard Dawkins as a deep thinker.

When the inferior man hears about the Tao, he laughs at it; it would not be the Tao if he did not laugh at it... The self-evidence of the Tao is taken for darkness. --Lao Tsu

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Loafing Around God's Vertical Bakery (updated)

It’s pretty simple, folks: either there’s a truth and therefore a way -- a doctrine and a method -- or there is ultimately only falsehood and confusion -- or relativity, contingency, and arbitrariness. The one follows from the other, for if there is Truth, then we are constrained to know it. Truth is what we must know, just as good is what we must do and beauty what we must love. These three activities distinguish us from the beasts, and constitute the human vocation. You cannot fail to know this unless you are highly educated.

As we were discussing the other day, the cosmogonic (“vertical”) order includes a center and a periphery, which may be visualized as a series of concentric circles with radii emanating out from a central point of zero dimensions. The only difference is that in euclidean geometry, the closer one gets to the center, the less space is occupied by each concentric circle. In the case of the spiritual journey, the opposite is true: the closer one gets to the center, the “wider” and more expansive the space.

This is why Ramana Maharshi never left his mountain cave, Sri Aurobindo never left his room, and St. Theophan the Recluse was a recluse. No one but the most metaphysically naive and unimaginative inhabitant of atheistic flatland would think of these celestial I-ambassadors as living a “restricted” lifestyle. You may know a false prophet by his fruits, but also by his number of appearances on the Larry King show.

In order to get the picture, you must also visualize the above-referenced circle as a cone, with the central point at the top. This is the most adequate image of the vertical, bearing in mind what I just said about the increasingly expansive world in each successive “ring.” A horizontal world -- of which there are many -- is going to be any of those rings mistakenly regarded as the whole of reality. To take just one example that comes readily to mind, there is the “New York Times” ring, a very narrow, parochial, unsophisticated, and naive world where the inhabitants paradoxically regard themselves as the opposite of these things: open-minded, sophisticated, cynical, worldly, and certainly superior.

Interestingly, in his lack of metaphysical sophistication, New York Times Man does not know the mountain, but knows only his own little enclosed citified world. And yet -- here is the inconsistency at the heart of any bad philosophy -- he secretly does believe in the mountain, because he knows that he is standing at the peak. This reflects the primordial “lie of the left,” which proclaims that “my relative is the absolute.” It is what allows them in good (meaning “consistent,” not actually good) conscience to betray the country by revealing state secrets to our enemies while attacking others for supposedly doing so. Like all bad and narcissistic prophets, they do not say, “I did it because it was right.” Rather, they say, “it was right because I did it.”

Now, we all know -- I am speaking to my Homo sapiens readers, so the rest of you Homos without sapiens can just ignore this -- that the exterior world reveals itself in two modes. There is the phenomenal world available to our senses and reason (reason in its restricted, mechanical sense, not in its more expansive “logoistic” sense). And “behind,” “above” or “beneath” that is the noumenal world -- that is, whatever reality actually is, unfiltered by our evolved nervous system. In short, there is a world of causes and effects, essence and existence, principles and their manifestation, brahman and maya, the One and the many, O and (k).

Correspondingly, there is an “outer” and an “inner” man. The outer man knows through reason and empiricism, while the inner man knows through the intellect in its traditional connotation (in other words, we are not talking about debased garden-variety “intellectuals”). Just as something is not true because it is logical but logical because it is true, the Inner Man does not “conclude” with logic but perceives with the intellect, the “heart-mind,” the nous, or “psychic being” (in Aurobindo’s terminology). The knowledge of the intellect (most of it, anyway) may subsequently be explained with logic, but it was not arrived at through logic.

When we speak of truth and method, we are specifically referring to the total, a priori truth of the principial world, not to the relative truth of the manifested world. Here again, all bad and naive philosophies -- meaning almost all philosophies -- turn the cosmos upside down and confuse principles with their manifestation. Scientism, atheism, objectivism, reductionism, existentialism, rationalism, and all forms of leftism habitually and necessarily do this, which ends up generating paradox and hopeless inconsistency.

Just as there is only one cosmos, there is only one Truth. Your mission --should you choose to accept it -- is to align yourself with this Truth. All attempts to do so place us in the realm of method. Method is any practice that helps us deepen our adequation to the Real. Therefore, we needn’t restrict ourselves to explicitly spiritual practices, but to anything that helps to make us deeper and more whole -- diet, exercise, adequate rest, psychotherapy, medication, etc.

First we must know the truth -- which is, in a certain sense, the easy part -- but then we must be this truth, which becomes “extended” in the manifested world by aligning our will and sentiment with it. This is one of the dangers of propagating such wisdom to the masses -- the well-known dilemma of casting pearls before swine -- because to merely understand these things with the ego is to misunderstand them. No one can quote scripture like you-know-who.

In other words, we all understand that it is possible to know the truth but to act contrary to it. You might say that this forms the essence of our fallenness: we know the truth but reject it, turn away from it, rationalize, blame, externalize, deny, etc. Why? Ultimately because to submit to a truth is to die a bit, and to submit to total truth is to die completely -- it is to be crucified, is it not? For if truth is what you must know, then the petty desires of the ego don’t enter into the equation. The ego is simply “in the way,” but will nevertheless defend its little thingdumb.

But thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Trancelighted into the terms we are discussing today: “let the truth of the celestial center manifest here at the periphery, and let me align my will with it so that the manifested world will be just a little more in accord with the principial world of the sovereign good.”

And while you’re at it, if you don’t mind, give us each day our daily bread. No, not horizontal bread but the vertical bread that feeds the Self but is indigestible by the ego. Personally, I never go to bed at night without first recalling the many ways in which this vertical bread -- or manna from heaven -- was indeed given to me during the day. It has to be a pretty bad day to have ended up with a handful of gimme -- like that terrible day in October of 1966, when Willie Davis made three errors in one inning of the World Series in what turned out to be Sandy Koufax's last appearance on the mound.

In fact, one of the reasons I bake these little loaves fresh each morning is because it is one way to make sure I get my daily bread. Furthermore, at risk of sounding grandiose, my hope is that these little loaves can serve the same purpose for others. To the extent that that happens, it actually makes the loaf bigger, not smaller.

This is because life at the periphery is a zero-sum game. But as you approach the center, scarcity is replaced by abundance, if only because envy is replaced by gratitude. Thus follows the spontaneous attitude of forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, which is to say, down the mountain and away from the center, where temptation naturally reflects the ontological emptiness of the ego. But deliver us from evil, or save us from the periphery! Because the periphery is maya, whereas the center is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory. Forever.

It cannot be otherwise, unless it is other than wise.

As I'm fated for the material world
Get frustrated in the material world
Senses never gratified
Only swelling like a tide
That could drown me in the
Material world

From the spiritual sky,
Such sweet memories have I
To the spiritual sky
How I pray
Yes I pray
That I won't get lost
Or go astray
--George Harrison

UPDATE:

What an excellent description of unsophisticated New York Times Man:

"A distinct subculture, a belief system if not a religion, exists in the United States. Its members draw their instruction on what to believe and how to live from the New York Times...."

New York Times Man "is a creature of human respect, although he doesn’t show it as much as he craves it. He sees nothing above his caste, and when he casts his myopic eyes downward, is assaulted by the visage of the common man. This explains his paternalism. He is also a creature of his age, being too disconnected from that which is ageless to transcend it. He is trapped in time and place, the servant who fancies himself a king, the simpleton posing as a savant."

Friday, November 03, 2006

A Whole in One!

I’m not sure if I am in a frame of mind to post anything substantive this morning. The gagbaby had his shots on Wednesday, which seemed to trigger a reaction of some kind, which I guess is common. But he woke up screaming in the middle of the night, which startled me out of a deep coma. It took quite a while to get him back down, and even longer to get me back down, so here I am, feeling slightly dead.

And deadness is the right word when you're having a little difficulty pulling it all together. Yesterday Dr. Sanity had a relevant post entitled All Trees and No Forest, about the intrinsic pathologies of leftist postmodern thought. She writes, “There is a long philosophical tradition that has claimed that universality and abstractness have no legitimate basis in our experience of reality. This is usually called the ‘problem of universals’ and it derives from the fact that we humans experience objects in the real world as discrete, concrete and individual. Yet, this is contrasted to our thoughts, which experience and know about objects in more general and abstract, or universal ways.”

Now, if you want to create intellectual tyranny, all you have to do is undermine the possibility of universals, which is exactly what the psycho-spiritual left has been trying to do over the past 40 years or so: “By making universals and generalizations completely subjective, they have successfully invalidated anyone's attempts to understand reality and truth.” For to destroy universals is to destroy the human world, precisely. It is to do away with absolute truth, objective beauty, universal morality, and God (God being the “universal of universals,” or even the possibility of universals).

This is why I insist (to paraphrase Richard Weaver) that all attacks on religion are ultimately an attack on mind itself. This is not to imply that there are not bad forms of religion . Of course there are. That is self-evident. Nor does it imply that there are no useful forms of analytic thought -- of the proper application of reason. However, the human world specifically exists in a dialectical space between whole and part, the One and the many. A “world” -- any world -- is a synthesis of particulars into a coherent whole, which in turn reveals the meaning of the otherwise meaningless particulars.

The ontological category of real wholeness is anterior to any philosophy or ideology of any kind, and explains why any reductionistic or materialistic philosophy is logically self-refuting, whether it is garden variety “bonehead” atheism, natural selection, or Randian objectivism. Take natural selection. It begins with the concept of the organism, which is obviously a “whole.” But why does it begin there? Who said that an organism is a discrete whole, and how did the wholeness get there? Isn’t the existence of wholeness a prior condition of there being organisms to begin with?

In other words, if the universe -- which, by the way, is another concept of wholeness that is completely unwarranted on any reductionistic grounds -- were not a self-prehending whole (in Whitehead’s terminology), there is no way that wholeness could suddenly emerge later in the course of cosmic evolution. As it so happens, the existence of anterior wholeness explains many of the otherwise inexplicable mysteries of existence, including both life and consciousness, the mysteriously unitary and yet multiple “I AM.”

To most sensible people, it goes without saying that there will never be a scientific or reductionistic explanation of consciousness, even if they cannot articulate why they believe this. The reason is that consciousness represents on a micro level the personal experience of the macroscopic subjective wholeness of existence itself. Ever since language began colonizing the brain, it has been an unending task to synthesize these bits of meaning into a coherent self and world. But this coherence is not something we can ever arrive at inductively. Rather, the wholeness is our prior condition, and it is simply a matter of intuiting ever deepening levels of complex wholeness -- both objectively (in the world) and subjectively (within the self).

This ceaseless process of synthesis -- of the metabolism of experience -- is life itself. In other words, mental life is the dynamic synthesis of the interior of the cosmos, sponsored at every step along the way by an anterior wholeness which makes it all possible. My book was nothing more or less than an expression of this wholeness, hence the title “One Cosmos Under God.” Ultimately, it is perfectly accurate to say that the only philosophical alternative to mine is some form of many chaosmoses over matter, which is to say, any sort of empiricism, rationalism, reductionism, scientism, deconstructionism, what have you, that tries to arrive at wholeness through partness. In reality, “you can’t get there from here.”

Now, in order to truly to intuit that ultimate wholeness known as God, you naturally must liberate your mind from much of what is merely local and accidental, which encompasses most of what goes by the name of “culture.” In may respects, culture is a public neuroses, just as neurosis is a private culture. As we mentioned a couple of days ago, reductionism is “satan’s perspective” of reality. He sees only trees, and wants you to believe that only trees exist. That way, you will be assured of never discovering the ultimate Forest that goes by many names, but which is ultimately One. If we can only rid ourselves of this annoying One, then the noetic enterprise that is man’s true vocation will come to nothing -- which it does for all the sterile counter-philosophies alluded to above.

Now, we must be very careful what we allow to enter our psyche, because memes of various kinds carve out a niche there and reproduce themselves, which can often result in tenure. You will have noticed that I was recently having some problems with blogspot that were making my site behave very strangely. It turned out to be a corrupted template, which is an apt metaphor for the problem with fallen man. Except that it is not a metaphor. It is completely literal.

My blog’s template is supposed to be an effect, not a cause, of wholeness. In other words, I have an idea of what I want my blog -- the whole of it -- to look like. But when the template is corrupted with little parts that aren’t supposed to be there, they reproduce and compromise the wholeness of my vision.

It is exactly so with the mind, with what I call mind parasites. To the extent that these parasites have taken root in you, your psychological template has been corrupted, and your ability to intuit wholeness -- both exterior and interior -- will be compromised. Both the world and your life will more or less fail to make sense, and in extreme cases, can become as static as a dog’s bark or the Democratic platform.

The more ill the person or culture is, the more obvious this becomes. The personal will -- another example of inexplicable wholeness -- becomes riven and undermind by various competing factions with agendas all their own. In the case of a sick culture, it will be forced to narrow reality down to the perspective of its parasites, as we see in the Islamic world. This is why they must remain closed societies, which is absolutely no different than the neurotic person whose mind becomes a more or less closed system caught up in the endlessly repeating agenda of its mind parasites. This is the true meaning of the repetition compulsion at the heart of any neurosis. The compulsion to repeat is not a cause, but an effect, of the mind becoming a closed system and therefore being unable to profit from experience.

A culture or subculture is a group fantasy, or imaginary collective vision of the interior of reality. And anything lying outside the group fantasy is a foreign language. Thus, the very real culture war in which we are engaged is between two very different languages. However, some people are bilingual. For example, I am able to speak fluent materialism, secularism, atheism, and leftism, because I used to believe all of those dopey things.

But I also speak fluent spiritualease, and can see that this is a far more comprehensive language for describing reality. In fact, the differences are so striking, that without it, it would be a little bit like trying to explain Hamlet with mathematics. While I suppose you could do it, you would specifically lose sight of the author’s intent, which is located only in an aesthetic wholeness spread throughout the text -- just as God’s wholeness is spread throughout reality in the form of his immanence. As a matter of fact, that beautiful wholeness is actually present in the numiracle of math, as most great mythematicians realize.

I will grant that materialists have a certain understanding of the parts but no wonderstanding of the whole. Nothing is that simple, let alone everything. The problem is, when you try to teach something you do not understand, you just pass along the parts. Thus, our universities crank out spiritually crippled beings aleinated from the real, and call them “educated.”

If the mind did not exist, scientists would have no trouble explaining it. But to be alienated from God is to be trapped in the spiritually ass-fixiating manifest. Conversely, in order to witness the whatness, the theophany of God’s metaphysical radiance, you must realize that the brain is exterior to being, and that inscapes everywhere dot the so-called external world. Wholeness is everywhen and where. Or as Joyce put it, "when a part so ptee does duty for the holos, we soon grow to use of an allforabit."

Without objectivity and transcendence there cannot be man, there is only the human animal; to find man, one must aspire to God. --F. Schuon

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Power of Love and the Love of Power

It sounds like reader Stu has begun to experience a mild influx of holy guacamole into his existentialada. For example, he writes,

“Some higher realms have been readily accessible. Like that inner-space where time stops and the uncreated part of my being opens up into infinite pureness. And the state-of-being where thoughts and events effortlessly reveal their hidden meanings. And the quiet confidence that comes with knowing, feeling and experiencing, without a shred of doubt, that God is.”

So far, so good. However, at the same time, “while accessible, these spaces have also been very confusing, overwhelming and exhausting. The realizations that come from these realms have been difficult to understand and have, frankly, overloaded my mind. So much so that I have been unable to retain much of the imparted wisdom or put it into practice. But what I just realized is that I am trying to pull God down to my level instead of elevating myself to God’s level.“

He fears that this “will result in overload to attempt to experience divine revelation from a rational/emotional perspective. These lower human faculties are valuable and serve important functions. In fact, the divine can be interpreted and channeled through these more base forms of self.... But my self has been highly conditioned to filter my experience through reason and emotion. I experience modes of higher consciousness, but I do not possess the proper faculties to meet these experiences at the level they come from. I don’t even know what form such faculties would take. So I translate the experiences down to a consciousness I am comfortable with.”

“Perhaps the world has been given to us as a forum to develop these higher aspects of self, whatever they may be.... So I’ve discerned the problem. But what next? How do I identify and cultivate these ‘higher faculties?’ Any suggestions would be appreciated.”

There’s a lot here to chew on, so let’s break it all down. In Lord of the Rings, Frodo asks Gandalf the Grey (interestingly, grey is a mixture of black and white) why he doesn’t simply return the ring to the volcano himself. Gandalf responds with words to the effect that if he came into possession of the ring, he knows that he would become intoxicated by its power and and misuse it to control others. In other words, the power of the ring would meet his own impurities and become a force of destruction. Implicitly, this means that there is a form of power that is higher than power, which is relinquishing power. (This in itself is food for thought as it relates to kenosis, both our’s and God’s.)

As a brief aside, this is why, technically speaking, we shouldn’t even be openly discussing some of the things we discuss here, because it has always been understood that esoteric knowledge should only be given to one who has undergone the moral preparation. Because to the extent that you haven’t, the influx of forces -- or so we have heard from the wise -- is going to either 1) fry your circuits, 2) inflate your ego to monstrous proportions, or worse yet, 3) inflate a mind parasite or sub-personality that you have identified with. Don’t believe me. Just look around, both now and throughout history. It happens all the time.

However, as the kabbalists say, it is better that the knowledge be misused than lost entirely, so here we are, the first generation of human beings to discuss these delicate matters in cyberspace.

The power we seek is ours only to the extent that we do not identify it as ours, but receive it with graciousness and humility. The moment we begin “pulling” at it, it becomes contaminated with ego. Another story comes to mind, this one from Zorba the Greek, by Nikos Kazantzakis. Perhaps you are familiar with it. It almost spooks for itsoph:

“I remember one morning when I discovered a cocoon in the back of a tree just as a butterfly was making a hole in its case and preparing to come out. I waited awhile, but it was too long appearing and I was impatient. I bent over it and breathed on it to warm it. I warmed it as quickly as I could and the miracle began to happen before my eyes, faster than life.

“The case opened; the butterfly started slowly crawling out, and I shall never forget my horror when I saw how its wings were folded back and crumpled; the wretched butterfly tried with its whole trembling body to unfold them. Bending over it, I tried to help it with my breath, in vain. It needed to be hatched out patiently and the unfolding of the wings should be a gradual process in the sun. Now it was too late. My breath had forced the butterfly to appear all crumpled, before its time. It struggled desperately and, a few seconds later, died in the palm of my hand.

“That little body is, I do believe, the greatest weight I have on my conscience. For I realize today that it is a mortal sin to violate the great laws of nature. We should not hurry, we should not be impatient, but we should confidently obey the external rhythm.

"I sat on a rock to absorb this New Years's thought. Ah, if only that little butterfly could always flutter before me to show me the way."

The caterpillar, the cocoon and the butterfly are such apt symbols of the spiritual journey that it almost seems as if they must have been created by an other-wordly intelligence for heuristic purposes. Because spiritual growth -- just like any other growth -- is an organic process that obeys its own rhythm. And the rhythm will be different for each person. You cannot force it, but you can -- and must -- provide it with the appropriate environment and “food” that it needs to flourish, whether it is meditation, prayer, ritual, lectio divina, etc.

But you must always -- always -- include moral preparation, not just because virtue is its own reward, but also because doing so will help illuminate those parts of yourself that will either resist or misuse the powers that are coming down. And when they do come down, you must never say “it’s about time,” but ask “why me?” It is a good practice to immediately ask oneself how one may help others with it, and to meditate on what you can do to repay a debt that can never be repaid.

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard the classic gospel song by the great Shirley Caesar, No Charge. A couple of weeks ago, when our dear secular liberal atheist friend was visiting, I bet her that I could give her the gift of tears in three and a half minutes. I put on the song. It starts with the recitation of a story:

“My sister's little boy came in the kitchen one evening while she was fixing supper, and he handed her a piece paper he had been writing on. And after wiping her hands on an apron, she took it in her hands and read it,
and this is what it said:

“For mowing the yard, five dollars.
And for making up my own bed this week, one dollar.
For going to the store, fifty cents.
And playing with little brother while you went shopping, twenty five cents.
Taking out the trash, one dollar.
And for getting a good report card, five dollars.
And for raking the yard, two dollars.
Total owed $14.75.

“Well she looked at him standing there and expecting, and a thousand memories flashed through her mind. So she picked up a pen and turned the paper over and this is what she wrote:

“For the nine months I carried you, holding you inside me no charge
For the nights I sat up with you, doctored you and prayed for you no charge
For the time and tears and the costs through the years, there’s no charge
When you add it all up, the full cost of my love is no charge

“For the nights filled with grey,
And the worries ahead,
For the advice and the knowledge,
And the costs of your college, no charge
For the toys, school, and clothes,
And for wiping your nose,
There's no charge son
When you add it all up, the full cost of my love is no charge

“Well you know when I think about that I think about the day that Jesus went out to Calvary and gave his life as a ransom for me. When I think on the words ‘If Any Man be in Christ He's A New Creature," I like to think about the very minute that he shedded his blood, my debt was paid in full.

“And I want you to know today, when you add it all up, the full cost of real love is no charge.”

What?

Yes, our friend was indeed "misty with the old unshed," as Bertie Wooster once put it, even though, interestingly, she found that last bit of the song off-putting. There was a time that I too would have found it off-putting, but it’s the whole point of the song, for it does address that nagging existential question: where does all this inexplicable love come from, anyway? Now, you don’t necessarily have to accept sister Shirley’s answer, but at least she has one -- one that is certainly more plausible than such pseudo-explanations as “evolutionary psychology” or “sociobiology” -- i.e., a trick of the genes.

In fact, in my book, I pointed out that you needn’t regard scripture as merely literally true when you imaginatively enter its world. If you are just a little too Greek to get past certain apparent follies, don’t worry about that. Don’t let it stop you from letting it engage your spirit, any more than you stop yourself from enjoying a great book or movie because it isn’t real.

As it so happens, some things are just too beautiful not to be true, but don’t concern yourself with that now. Just enjoy the beauty, and soon you will find yourself wondering how the world can be so arranged that butterflies are symbols and symbols are coccoons for caterpultering one's coconsciousness into a buddhafly.

We’ve only scratched the surface here, so this will probably be a multi-parter. We don't want to open this chrusallus presence too quickly. Time takes time. Let alone, eternity.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Divine Center and the Human Margin

The other day, a friendly commenter mentioned that I am not a Christian, which is not entirely fair. Nor is it unfair, however. It all depends on your point of view. Not to say that "it's all relative.” However, it is to say that revelation, while it emanates from the divine center, is not to be confused with the divine center, as many modern evangelicals are in the habit of doing. The Bible cannot be "the" Word of God, but rather “words of God” addressed to a human subject who is necessarily relative and contingent.

In other words, while language reflects the substance of the speaker, it is nevertheless separate from him. Furthermore, our own understanding is not going to conform perfectly with the Divine Mind, any more than our understanding of a great work of art will conform perfectly with the mind that created it. While we must take the revealed message very seriously, it is still critical to bear in mind that religion is not about religion, but about that which transcends religion. The most sublime religious ritual is nevertheless at the “human margin” compared to the uncontainable radiance it is designed to capture and transmit.

I hesitate even to venture down this path, because it invites a certain type of misunderstanding, and opens the doorway to human pride and willfulness. Everything I am about to say is actually intended to help the person move away from the human margin -- which is more or less relative -- and toward the Divine center, which is subjectively objective. So while it may at times seem as if I am “eclectic” or “ecumenical,” that is neither my desire nor my intent. Rather, I am always trying to get at the core or center of the divine message, not to somehow synthesize various religious points of view that only exist at the human margin.

Thus, there are two errors that must be avoided. The first is adhering to a dogma that, while technically “true,” is nevertheless a human variation on this or that central point of the divine message. In other words, there is “pure dogma,” which is a good thing. You might say that it comes directly from God. However, the undeniable existence of various factions and denominations proves that dogma radiates, as it were, from the center to the periphery, to the point that we end up with groups that have entirely divergent points of view, but still calling themselves “Christian.” For example, I believe I am much more Christian than the National Council of Churches, which exists almost entirely at the all-too-human marxgin.

I hope this is not too esoteric and that I am being clear. Perhaps an analogy would be helpful. On the political/secular plane, the American Constitution is the equivalent of divine revelation, the “word of God.” Having said that, the Constitution nevertheless leaves open much room for interpretation “at the margins.” Thus we have denominations -- Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Progressives, Conservatives, etc. -- all claiming to be the One True Church.

But interpretation can only go so far before it becomes completely detached from the center, and exists only at the human margin. In so doing, the Word of God becomes nothing more than the legalistic word of man, but stills tries to gain prestige by claiming to be the Word of God. Roe vs. Wade is a perfect example of something wholly manmade that exists only at the human margin, but nevertheless claims to be “from the center.” It is a new peripheral dogma that is absolutely indefensible from the standpoint of the constitutional center.

And this is the problem with “progressives” in general, whether political or religious. You might think that Christian fundamentalists are “conservative,” but you would be very wrong. Rather, this is a thoroughly modern movement that has detached itself from oral tradition, inspired commentary, and the testimony of various superhuman saints and sages, to produce a largely manmade, exteriorized version of Christianity. It is no different than political progressives who twist a part of the Constitution in order to create a new political religion that finds justification for their own desires. Roe vs. Wade is just one example, but one could cite dozens more, most notably, the belief that the Constitution somehow sanctions racial discrimination or is hostile to religion. These leftist ideas are human inventions that have nothing to do with the message of the founders.

The other great spiritual danger is that of the “new agers,” who would take what I am saying and turn it on its head, so as to give themselves permission to borrow freely from this or that religious tradition in order to create their own cafeteria-style spirituality. If it ever looks as if this is what I am doing, just disregard that thought. I am not. Although at various times I may speak the language or Christianity, Judaism, Vedanta, or Taoism, this is generally for two purposes. One reason is that it can often deepen understanding of one’s own framework to see it in terms of another tradition. Another reason is that there are certain things that are implicit in one religion but explicit in another. Furthermore, there are certain inevitable “gaps” or interstices that can only be filled out by adopting a more totalistic view of reality.

Here again, perhaps an analogy will be useful. Sigmund Freud made one Great Big Discovery, called ”the unconscious.” For our purposes, think of the unconscious as “God” and Freud as “his prophet.” Freud laid down the dogma, spread the gospel, chose the disciples, formed the early church, named his Pope, and defined heresy.

But the unconscious, like God, cannot actually be contained by any dogma. You might say that it mocks our attempts to do so. Like God, it seems to almost take pleasure in shattering our brittle containers that try to channel the roaring torrent of divinity into the little pridepool of the human ego.

Therefore, no sooner had Freud laid down the dogma for all time, than he had a bunch of heretics splintering off and forming their own churches, each in its turn embodying the One True Faith: Jung, Adler, Reich, and later Klein, Kohut, and others, including complete heretics such as N.O. Brown, Erich Fromm and Fritz Perls.

Now, as I have mentioned before, my biggest psychological influence was a bona fide genius of a fellow named W.R. Bion, who was sent to this earth to clean up this psychoanalytic Tower of Babel. In this regard, he performed a similar function as did Jesus to ancient Judaism or Buddha to ancient Hinduism. In both of the latter cases, these traditions had become so reified and legalistic that they were in danger of losing contact with the divine message it was their purpose to propagate. (For our Jewish friends, please don’t misunderstand the point; clearly, Judaism also responded “within itself” to this impasse, and became a very different, far more interiorized approach, after the destruction of the second temple.)

Bion even used the word “messiah” as a term of art to describe the individual who shatters the manmade container of the “establishment” in order to accomplish two things, 1) re-establishent of the possiblity of a direct encounter with psychic reality (which he called "O"), and 2) evolution within that reality (I adopted the symbol O for my book, only as applied explicitly to God instead of the unconscious).

To greatly oversimplify, genuine psychological insight must proceed from O-->k (or knowledge), not from k-->O (which will simply superimpose a grid of more or less superficial knowledge on O). The same goes for spiritual knowledge, which must be realized knowledge if it is to be efficacious. In fact, to realize it is to render it effective. To not realize it is to render religious language sterile. It is then not “the Word,” but merely words: pneumababble, or just plain blah blah.

Again, I hope I haven’t lost anyone, but O is God. While it has various names -- God being one of them -- it is actually omninameable, which is another of God’s names. O can be thought of as the divine center that radiates out to the periphery of various concentric circles of manifestation. Or it can be imagined as an eternal spring at the peak of a sacred mountain that eternally pours forth its glory into various temporal rivers and streams that cascade down the mountain. Eventually they reach all the way down to the valley below, where the inhabitants have no idea that the water comes from the same source, or even that there is a real experiential source in the here and now, "anterior" to the stream.

Having said that, I do not necessarily recommend my understanding to others, because it has its pitfalls and dangers. As I explain in the book, the trick is to abide in O, while at the same time recognizing that the closer one approaches the center, the more one’s own understanding is replaced by a certain objectivity that is embodied in dogma and tradition. As such, my approach is simultaneously fluid and rigid, if you know what I mean. This is a dialectic that must be maintained, for veering too far in either direction eclipses O and prevents its unfolding evolution through the luxury corps of the lumin being.

All clear?