Besides Hosting a Cable Show, What Happens When We Die?
I've noticed that Larry King always asks that latter question whenever he has one of those slippery psychic mercenaries on the program. What happens when we die, Sylvia? I don't know, you tell me, Larry. What's it like to have the longest running cable program hosted by a ghoul in suspenders? (I know, I know, another pointless cheap shot that compromises Dear Leader's spiritual authority. Honestly, I find the man genuinely creepy, like a purely vital being.)
I regret to inform you that I do not have good answers to the above questions. To be perfectly accurate, I could give you some lively and imaginative answers, but I would be spookulating, which is something that a Raccoon never does but spiritual hacksters who appear on Larry King always do. Rather, for a Raccoon, his spiritual knowledge is always rooted in spiritual experience, or it is no knowledge at all. When we speak of colonizing consciousness, we speak only of lands upon which we have personally set foot and planted the Raccoon colors, in that order.
Nor can I say with any degree of confidence where our consciousness was before we were bearthed and begaialed. Of course, some people reportedly do remember previous incarnations, and there is apparently a researcher -- I can't remember his name -- who has published at least one book with compelling evidence of children who remember odd details about past lives, things they couldn't possibly have known, but which have been subsequently verified by investigators as true. And there is an abundant literature -- disputed, of course -- concerning "near death experiences."
While I personally remember no past lives, I do have many very specific traits, capacities, and even knowledge that I cannot account for and which no one else in my clan shares. Perhaps, as in psychology, "living out" is a form of remembrance. And I do know that when my father died over 20 years ago, I thought that if actually saw him die, I would never stop having nightmares. But the opposite was true, for when he died, there was a palpable sense that he was simply no longer there in that body. Or, to put it another way, that body was definitely not him. It was actually comforting. ( I had no particular spiritual beliefs at the time.)
But the pre- and post-death literature has never interested me. Or perhaps it did when I first began to be interested in spiritual matters. Looking back on it, I can see why. Real spiritual knowledge is a realm of ontological subtlety. That is to say, it is very real and very distinct, and yet... what's the word, Jeeves? Diaphanous? Mmmmm, no. That makes me think of the Victoria's Secret catalog. Ethereal? No, not exactly. That conjures up "airy fairy." Reminds me of some of the Colonel's stories about Dame Edith.
State specific, sir? Yes, I like that, Jeeves. "State specific." I find that real spiritual knowledge initially arises from certain subtle states that eventually become solidified and "prolonged" into traits. Thus, someone with no experience is naturally drawn to something that appears more empirically "solid" in order to bolster his faith. You might say that it is a replacement for experience.
But in the end, this kind of knowledge is no more useful than, say, reading stories about people who have undergone psychotherapy and gained insight into this thing called the "unconscious." Their stories might be perfectly true, but what good are they to you if you haven't personally experienced it for yourself? In many ways, this type of "gross" knowledge can be a defense against subtle knowledge. In other words, it can fool us into believing we know something we actually don't. As such, it becomes part of the vast cognitive wasteland of "minus k" (-k) taking up space in your hardhead drive.
(-K) constitutes everything we know "with the head of another," but do not really know ourselves. Importantly, this does not generally apply to empirical or rational type knowledge. For example, it is not (-k) for me to believe that a solution exists to the little plumbing problem I am having, even though I can't figure it out. I know that my neighbor, the plumber, knows the answer, and that's more than enough for me. It would, however, become (-k) if I were to believe that plumbing holds the key to the cosmic enigma.
Similarly, it is perfectly acceptable to believe that a neurologist will have some useful (k) if I suffer from migraine headaches. But it would be pure (-k) to believe that he has anything useful to say about the nature of consciousness itself. This is how we know that atheists such as Sam Harris or Steven Pinker are so "full of it." What they are full of is (-k) about spirituality, precisely. In fact, there is a good chance that my plumber knows more about Spirit than they do. I'll have to ask him. Then again, plumbers charge so much.
Many spiritual seekers are looking for tangible "signs and wonders" to bolster their faith, as opposed to "subtlizing" their own instrument, which is one of the purposes of a spiritual practice. I think that this is what motivates a lot of the "intelligent design" movement -- which I have no real objections to (the responsible ones, anyway), so long as they do not confuse the (k) of intelligent design with what in the Coonifesto I call the (n) of genuine spiritual gnosis. When (k) usurps or replaces (n), it becomes (-k).
This is a constant problem with religious dogma, which is definitely necessary and good, and yet, can become a sort of rigid (k) if it is not regarded in the proper way. As I mentioned the other day, whenever this happens, a "messiah" will be required to shatter the existing containers that have become too saturated to hold any (n). The more subtle the realm, the more we must guard against (k) replacing (n), and thus, never knowing what we do not know. In approaching these subtle realms, we must adopt an apophatic attitude of (o), or achieve what Bion called the "negative capability" of suspending memory, desire and understanding. Only then do we clear a space for the more subtle understanding we are seeking to take root.
Our postmodern world has become so spiritually "gross," so "opaque," so encased in ice, that it is as if people require a kind of hammer to the head for spirit to get through at all. This itself represents a triumph of empiricism and materialism, for it is as if people cannot believe unless they have placed their hand directly into the wound. But blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed. To be precise, blessed be those who have unknown in order to awaken their subtle vision, thereby converting the assurance of things hoped for into the conviction of things unseeable with eyes made by Darwin.
Now, it is certainly possible, using pure intellection alone, to know that a post-death state must necessarily exist. Furthermore, there is no question that this must be a realm of both perfect mercy and of perfect justice. How do we know this, not just with the head of another, but our own?
We know it because the source of our being can only be the sovereign good. I will address this in more detail in some of the subsequent questions, but yesterday we spoke of how the human subject is comprised of 1) love, 2) will, and 3) truth, or virtue, freedom, and knowledge. Now, these things did not -- could not have -- come from "below," through any kind of purely materialistic process -- through so-called "natural selection." It is frankly absurd to think so, and self-refuting at every turn.
Free will, knowledge of good and evil, disinterested love, objective truth -- you will notice that science cannot actually account for any of these things, so it must make them "go away." They must be metaphysically "disappeared," stuffed into an academonic trunk and driven off the pier. Free will? A persistent illusion. Good and evil? Morality is all relative to sophisticated Pomo Man. Love? Ha! Nothing but lust jostling for power. Truth? Don't even go there, girlfriend. The astonishing mystery of subjectivity? An illusory side effect of neural computation.
Wait, is that true?
I said don't go there girlfriend. Mama don't play. How would you like a can o' tenure-denying whoop ass upside the head?
Even so, no matter who you are, you cannot help knowing that your existential mission in the herebelow has something to do with willing what is good and knowing what is true. Go ahead, ask Sam Harris. Do you want to do bad? No? Why not? Do you want your ideas to hurt people? No? Why would you possibly care? Don't you just want to be powerful and to bestow your sexual favors upon as many females as possible, like a demented raccoon on a beagle? Why would you conceivably care whether your ideas are "true," whatever that means?
Now, you no doubt have your own explanation for how and why the following happened, but it did: one way or t' other, God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his noustrils the breath of life, and man became a living being. At least this version of events acknowledges that Darwinian man preceded spiritual man by some 100,000 years, and that these merely genetic and material dustbunnies did not become proper men until their souls were awakened "from above." We know this because the same is true today of every earth-formed Stone Age baby who comes into the world. They too must recapitulate this "awakening" to the above on pain of spending their lives as a mere beast in human form, like La...
At some point, truth, love and beauty "descended" into the earth realm. In my book I have explained how I believe it might have happened, but the important point is that it did and it does, and that materialistic and reductionistic science is in principle unable to account for it. The human being is the "link" between the vertical and horizontal, celestial and terrestrial, heaven and earth, however you wish to conceptualize it.
The good, the true, and the beautiful are ontologically real "presences," while their opposites represent varying degrees of privation. In knowing this, we can also know that biological death must be a privation, not a real presence. It would simply make no sense if it were.
Scientists are well aware of the fact that some things are regarded as true because if they were not, then everything else that we know to be true would be false. But the same holds true of metaphysics. Given certain things that are true, other things must also be true, even if we have no personal knowledge of them. One thing we can know is that our creator is both good and beautiful -- indeed, is the source of beauty and goodness -- and if so, biological death cannot be the end. That would make this a very bad and pointless cosmos, which it most certainly is not.
And when I find out something more specific, you'll be the first to know. Look for a small feather to float before you as you're reading the Coonifesto.