Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Descent of Spirit (1.04.09)

So many interesting and sometimes touching comments yesterday. I can see that we'll probably dwell on this topic for a while, because in a way, it is "everything." For if there is no vertical and no descent, then there is no way out of this absurd and meaningless existence.

But thankfully, the cosmos is not a closed loop but an open circle -- or spiral -- with a way up and out: “The ‘good news’ of religion is that the world is not a closed circle, that it is not an eternal prison, that it has an exit and an entrance.... ‘Perdition’ is to be caught up in the eternal circulation of the world of the closed circle... [whereas] ‘salvation’ is life in the world of the open circle, or spiral, where there is both exit and entrance” (Meditations on the Tarot).

What do we mean by "vertical" and "descent?" When you think about it, most of our knowledge falls into the "as if" category. For example, we have no idea what's going in with the quantum world, but it's "as if" it sometimes behaves in a wave-like manner, other times like particles, depending upon how we look. Obviously it is neither. These are just analogies to try to get our mind around what's going on "down" there. "Down" is another one. Why is the subatomic world "below" our macro world? For that matter, why is the unconscious mind "below" the conscious, or the past "behind" the present? Sometimes merely tweaking your metaphor brings new understanding. What if the unconscious is the past within the present, the realm of the unthought known? Is Iraq Vietnam? Or is radical Islam nazi Germany? Different metaphor, different reality.

The fundamental axiom of esotericism, "as above, so below," actually applies to most of our knowledge, in the sense that, without even thinking about it, we resort to analogy to understand realms that are inaccessible to our senses. For example, there isn't really a genetic "code" or "blueprint." In reality it is neither of these manmade categories. Rather, it is what it is, which is entirely mysterious -- impossible, really. Likewise, time is a "river," but what is it really? Who knows? How can there be anything other than eternity?

It gets even more problematic when we try to discuss things like the mind. Here we can only use analogy. However, just as in religious disputes, you would be amazed at the academic fights that go on between people and their beloved analogies. It's easy to ridicule the Christian world, which formally split in 1054 over filioque controversy -- that is, the question of whether the holy spirit proceeds from the Father and Son or from the Son only -- but the identical thing goes on in academia.

I got a real taste of this in my psychoanalytic training, a discipline that has many religious trappings. It has a founding prophet (Freud), a group of original disciples, a dogma, an orthodoxy, and various initiatory rituals. It eventually split into various hardened camps that were, for a time, quite hostile to one another. I've been out of that world for awhile, so I'm not up to date with the politics, but there was a time when the members of one school would dismiss the other school by saying that their members were insufficiently analyzed -- in short, that they only believed what they did because they were more or less crazy. This is very similar to one sect of Christianity saying that another is damned to perdition over this or that doctrinal difference.

And yet, it would be completely wrongheaded to take this as an excuse to descend into a wimpy syncretism or odious relativism. For I think we can agree that, whatever the mind is, it is what it is. It isn't any single one of our models, but neither is it all of them put together, i.e., integralism. The truth is out there (to employ another analogy).

Yesterday I spoke of the "descent" of intelligence that occurred in me at age 29. Fortunately, it occurred at exactly the same time that I discovered the works of the British psychoanalyst W.R. Bion, which assured that my intelligence became a fluid thing instead of hardening into this or that dogma. For there is no end to the mischief created when intelligence mingles with some narrow viewpoint. When this happens, it is almost always for extra-epistemological reasons, usually narcissistic in nature, other times having to do with an emotional need for security or a failure of imagination.

For it seems that intelligence can only go so far before it becomes detached from imagination, so that people at the extreme high end of the IQ scale often lack imagination and become unbalanced spiritual cripples. Think of the typical proud MENSA type, whose IQ may be higher than yours, but who knows nothing about Spirit. They are essentially "idiot savants" with a warped and specialized perspective on reality. The same thing can happen in the other direction with an artist who has a brilliant imagination unmoored by intelligence. The greatest art, such as Shakespeare, is infused with both intelligence and imagination.

But so too is the greatest science, for what is science but a "probe" that extends into the unknown and allows us to think about reality in a fruitful and generative way? Good science makes you feel more alive to the mystery, whereas bad science always demystifiies the world. Remember, "mystery" is hardly an absence of knowledge. Rather, it is a means and a mode of knowledge, precisely. To be immersed in the mystery of being is not to be lost in an obscure cloud of ignorance. Rather, this mystery is the generative ground of all -- it is O.

As I have said before, most narcissists feel that they are in some way "special," and better than others. But the fact is, they usually are special in some area, whether it is looks, or intelligence, or academic brilliance. One's narcissistic pathology can easily attach itself to any of these gifts, so there are plenty of intellectuals whose intellect is more or less in the service of their narcissism and exhibitionism. As applied to spirituality, this combination is particularly deadly, for it ultimately means that one is co-opting God for the glorification of one's own ego.

Hoarhey asked a question along these lines, noting that some of the world's worst psychopaths have claimed to have been chosen by God, e.g., Hitler and Ahmadinejad. He suspects that "someone who actually did good and didn't cause such destruction would either have above average humility or be unaware of the aid, to minimize the ego involvement. The aware person also being somewhat reluctant to speak of it. Examples of America's founders receiving guidance and benefitting humanity come to mind (e.g., George Washington, as the receiver not the avatar)."

I am sure that this is absolutely true -- that God resists the proud. To a certain extent, those who know don't speak of it, and those who speak of it don't know. There is even empirical research documenting the fact that people who truly have had transformative "peak experiences," or full on, life-changing ingressions of the vertical, rarely speak of them. For one thing, they have a sacred quality that brings with it an instinctive reluctance to cast pearls before swine. But this cannot be an absolute rule, or no one would speak of God! Nevertheless, it is a good rule of thumb. Those who eagerly and recklessly presume to speak for God are most likely talking through their hat. For one thing, one must be authorized to do so -- not by some earthly religious body, but from above. Here again we are touching on the subject of "descents."

The Gospels tell us nothing about Jesus' education, but it seems doubtful that he received any formal theological training. When he first encounters the religious authorities, they are astounded by his ability to speak as "one who knows" -- with such authority. From whence did this authority come? Clearly not from man or from any manmade institution. Rather, he was authorized "from above."

Here is an analogy to try to understand authority, perhaps trivial, but I hope not. Last night I saw an absolutely wonderful documentary on the great American blues musician, Howlin' Wolf (1910 -1976). Perhaps you're unfamiliar with him, but he is a being whose musical authority -- if you have ears to hear -- was absolute. And yet, how can this be? Here was a man who grew up in a kind of material and cultural poverty that we can scarcely imagine. Functionally illiterate, his mother mercilessly threw him out of the house -- shack is more like it -- when he was a boy, when he objected to picking cotton for fifteen cents a day. He walked seventy five miles barefoot on dirt roads and eventually tracked down his father, who took him in. At the age of 18 he heard a travelling blues musician, and something "lit up" inside of him -- a musical descent. His father purchased his first guitar, and the rest is history.

Now, blues is a fascinating medium because it is so "primitive" that it almost cannot be played properly by a schooled musician. It is entirely "instinctive." And yet, the gulf between a great blues artist and a mediocre one is absolute -- as great as the gap between the greatest classical composers and the mortals down below. How can this be? I think of it this way. Musical genius is randomly distributed throughout mankind. Obviously, much will depend upon the accidental cultural circumstances in which one finds oneself. For example, what if Mozart had been born in a primitive culture without a rich musical tradition and access to sophisticated musical instruments? Would his genius have somehow found a means to express itself?

I think musicologists err in trying to derive aesthetic beauty from musical complexity. Rather, I believe there are certain people who do not "compose" or "play" music. Rather, they are music. You might say that they are "music made flesh" -- they literally embody the dimension from which music arises. Sinatra did this. Louis Armstrong did this. Van Morrison does this. Their music has a kind of authority and immediacy that no amount of musical training could ever be able to achieve. Again, if you have ears to hear, the gulf between a Howlin' Wolf or Muddy Waters and, say, Eric Clapton, is as great as the gulf between Bach and Vivaldi, or Mozart and Salieri. The gulf between Stevie Ray Vaughan -- another person who "embodied" music -- and an Eddie Van Halen or some other merely technical wizard, is literally infinite.

One thing the great musicians share is that they are motivated by love rather than ego. Their passion and their love are the channels through which the music flows. This cannot be faked. Nevertheless, for most people, it doesn't seem to matter. They cannot distinguish between the genuine and the meretricious, whether it is in music, spirituality, psychology, whatever. Thus, because people can be fooled, there are many who usurp the authority to do a whole lot of things that can only be authorized from above.

Now, you might ask, where does this leave Bob? Where does he get off speaking of these things? Who gave him the authority? That's a very good question. In my case, I am very aware of my limits. When my descent came, it came in the form of understanding. Suddenly, I understood spiritual reality in a way that I had previously only understood intellectually -- which is to say, did not understand. Thus, I do not feel that I am overstepping my bounds by merely trying to share -- never force, and never argue or try to convert -- my understanding with others. This is why I say it is more like singing. Not to say that I am an "artist," or something like that. Rather, merely to say that it's not an intellectual thing. It just is what it is, and I'm glad some people enjoy it. If they don't, that's fine too. That's why I don't want to get into arguments with those who shall not be named. Nor do I wish to become known, except by a very narrow group of people. How to reach that group without exposure to the wrong types is the vexing problem, but so far I have no complaints.

Now, on the other hand -- it's difficult to say this without sounding outrageously presumptuous, and yet, it does need to be said -- it is equally clear to me that I am not vertically authorized to be any kind of direct transmission of grace -- a "guru" type person, as it were. Yes, you could say that this is like conceding that I am not God, but obviously, untold spiritual mischief is caused by people who overstep their boundaries and do just that. It's not so much that I am tempted to do this, but there is something within many people that is tempted to confer this authority upon others, which many spiritual psychopaths happily identify with. There is no question that there are beings who are authorized to do this -- genuine saints and true theologians who are themselves transmitters of grace. They are on an entirely different plane.

But I humbly pray only for a deepening understanding and the ability to express it to others who might benefit from it -- to be the discussion leader. That is more than enough for me, because it keeps the descent alive by "prolonging" it into the horizontal on a daily basis. Plus, the feedback and comments flesh it out and make it all the more vividly present and real.


Anonymous One Who Shall Not Be Named said...

"It just is what it is, and I'm glad some people enjoy it. If they don't, that's fine too. That's why I don't want to get into arguments with those who shall not be named."

That is all well and good, but are you open to hearing from others whose perspectives might differ from yours? Or are you only open to hear from those whose understanding echoes yours? In other words, is disagreement--or simply a different take--automatically perceived by you as "argument?" Or can it be another viewpoint at the Round Table?

I am reminded of a professor that I had in college who specialized in Milton. He had spent years, even decades, formulating his views on Paradise Lost--what it really meant. When he encountered students who had differing views than his own--who posited perspectives on Paradise Lost that he either disagreed with and/or had not thought of--he closed off. He rewarded "yes-men"--those students who aped his understanding, and by doing so remained in a closed circuit, akin to the terrestrial hell you describe.

Don't become that professor, Bob. Don't rest on your laurels (of understanding) and do not only listen to your friends.

One great Christian thinker said "Friendship is opposition." That was Owen Barfield to C.S. Lewis.

But the key, of course, is friendly opposition! ;)

1/13/2007 09:27:00 AM  
Anonymous part-time lurker said...

Great posts these days, Robert.

I wonder if you think that this "Descent of the Vertical" is something passively received, or do we have some degree of autonomy, even co-creativity with it? That is, is it a static polarity between divine receptivity and egoic individualism, or is there another possibility of an interactivity of the divine and human?

1/13/2007 09:31:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"That is all well and good, but are you open to hearing from others whose perspectives might differ from yours?"

Of course, but you are not one of them.

1/13/2007 09:31:00 AM  
Anonymous one who shall not be named said...

"Of course, but you are not one of them."

Why not?

1/13/2007 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Why not? Because your analogy is so idiotic that it betrays total incomprehension.

1/13/2007 10:07:00 AM  
Blogger Jerub-Baal said...

There is so much here, that it's hard to know where to begin.

Having an unfortunate bent toward critiquing (you are forewarned) I think I'll start with "For there is no end to the mischief created when intelligence mingles with some narrow viewpoint. When this happens, it is almost always for extra-epistemological reasons, usually narcissistic in nature, other times having to do with an emotional need for security or a failure of imagination." I think that I would strike out "almost always" as a qualifier to "for extra-epistemological reasons."

People accept new experiences and knowledge as they are, not as what the experience or knowledge is. If they are open minded, then new knowledge will lead them to be open minded. If they tend to seek re-affirmation of what they already believe, new knowledge will only continue to harden their attitudes.

From my own experience, I 'found religion' when I was 26, after a severe bout of depression (I still suffer from adult depression, which probably started in my late teens). I have since been an active member of a 'fundamentalist' church, or a 'cult' depending upon who is accusing. I believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God. However, I don't believe it gives me the right to enforce my belief on others, or that I even understand all of it well. It may be inerrant, but I am not. Therefore, when what it appears to say doesn't obviously match what is said in science, I don't worry much, because I recognize that my professed belief in an infinite God automatically means that I can not compass him in whole.

God is God, and I am not.

I certainly hope that I am not stuck in hardened dogmatic thinking. But why not? I was continually told that I was smarter-better than others while growing up, which would certainly lead (I think) to narcissism. I profess a faith that most would consider 'etched in stone.' Yet I (hope that I) consider others beliefs tactfully, and am open to learning more. I can only think that the depression washed away any lingering narcissism, and that was reinforced by my understanding (according to my faith) of my fallen nature (making me unfit to cast stones, as it were.)

I find it hard to reconcile this with the idea of a 'descent' of knowledge. My story above sounds way to deterministic. However, as an artist I have found that my progress tends to come in spurts. Suddenly I will understand how to do a technique, or suddenly understand how something really looks, and be able to do it. It's almost never a gradual evolution, more of a punctuated equilibrium.

OK, I'm wandering here, better post before I make a fool (more so) of myself.

1/13/2007 10:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Joan of Argghh! said...

"But if I say, 'I will not mention him or speak any more in his name,' his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot."

I think this is where music comes from, at least for me. It's possibly the highest intersection of the vertical and the horizontal we can attain. It's gotta "come out like a fire" because if you hold it in, it will consume you. If you control the outflow, it may or may not be beautiful and edifying, but if you let it out in the way it desires, well then, now you've connected with O and with others in a transcendency that is as close to rapture as I can imagine.

I had friends that shared these moments together once or twice a year, and the alimentation derived from those moments could feed a soul for half a year, or a lifetime in the memory. A loose, flowing river of music, swooping and diving, harmony to die for, rising and soaring. You had to sing, to cry, or laugh, you had to bring in the babies and kids and let them sit there and soak it in so they could grow up right. And they did, thankfully.

And so my son cut his teeth on Van Morrison and George MacDonald and now he reads One Cosmos. Music did that. Music is what tells your brain-pan to shut up and learn what you can't learn any other way.

I'll never forget the day that my fingers taught my brain what was happening while practicing scales. Talk about a descent of mind! In a moment I understood, in a moment I could play in any key. The joy of that moment was almost a good as that Grace. No, it was because of that Grace that music happened to me.

Sorry to gas on. You hit a nerve, Bob.

1/13/2007 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger GeorgeD said...

nuozybbFrom my earliest years I can recall a sense that God was real and present. My abiding religious faith has been sustained by this passage from Isaiah (55:8-9) "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."

I have gradually come to realize that what we see of God is a bit like seeing a two dimensional projection of a 3d image. We have no power to walk behind and see it from other angles.

So we draw inferences and make analogies from that. We explain what we see in terms of the 2d image and we elaborate on it frequently confusing the issue.

But in the end there is something in me that just knows that it is so even when I confront confusing and possibly discordant images and reflections of what really Is.

1/13/2007 10:50:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

re: spirituality and narcissism:

I think that not only can narcissism attach itself to material, external gifts such as intelligence, looks, talents, etc., but in certain cases, a soul that is truly spiritually gifted and aware, perhaps what we'd call "spiritually destined", can succumb to the narcissistic impulse. Spiritual pride taken to the max. In such cases, the fall from grace is particularly steep, the results particularly catastrophic.

Some say Hitler might have been just this kind of catastrophe.

The point being - there probably is no automatic permanent spiritual "tenure" granted as long as we're earthly critters. No matter how high we might ascend spiritually, there is always the need for self-vigilance, for spiritual work on ourselves.

1/13/2007 11:18:00 AM  
Blogger Jerub-Baal said...

When I start to think that I understand, or that I know the right answers, I like to remember Ecclesiastes, "I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven. What a heavy burden God has laid on men! I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
What is twisted cannot be straightened;
what is lacking cannot be counted.

I thought to myself, "Look, I have grown and increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge." Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.
For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;
the more knowledge, the more grief.

I like the way georged put it, I have gradually come to realize that what we see of God is a bit like seeing a two dimensional projection of a 3d image. We have no power to walk behind and see it from other angles.

Then people who have allways struck me as the most rigid and unbending have had a great vanity about their knowledge, that somehow their learning made them better.

The amazing thing about knowledge is that it can make us better, but as you pointed out, Bob, those who truely are bettered by their knowledge tend also to be those least likely to make a point of speaking about it. Mother Theresa is quoted as saying ""Facing the press is more difficult than bathing a leper." There may have been a bit of pique at the vissitudes of the media in that, but I think it was more that speaking out on her charity nearly violated that part of her that was charitable. It was like bragging.

The more I think about what you wrote, the less I really understand. It's not confusing, it's so deeply challenging. So much of it makes sense, but does not fit with my image of myself or of knowledge.

I hope you right more on this, and I look forward to it.

1/13/2007 11:18:00 AM  
Anonymous he who shall not be named said...

I ask that you give me a chance before righting me off, before deleting my post (Which again, I don't see what was so wrong about what I wrote yesterday...except because of the name it was posted as).

I'm trying to understand why I've gotten such a negative reaction from folks here, when it has not been my intention to "troll"--or not solely my intention. Admittedly, there have been some comments that I've made to get a rise--but those have been less frequent than an honest attempt to dialogue with the folks here. And those comments have been more than equaled in kind.

I think there is a misconception here that I look down at everyone here with scorn. That is patently not true. It is my belief that everyone in this world has something to teach me; truly, that everyone has something to learn from everyone else.

Let's consult the great Valentin Tomberg:

"...all are fellow pupils and each is master of each in some respect--just as each is a pupil of each in some other respect."

Tomberg quotes a book by Athanasius on St. Anthony, describing how Anthony was open to all, learning that which is best in others and integrating it into himself:

"...he assimilated in himself what he had obtained from each and devoted all his energies to realizing in himself the virtues of all."

(Both quotes are from page 5 of Meditations on the Tarot)

That is the spirit in which I come here, at least when I am clear and not being defensive--which isn't always the case. Just about everyone here has a kind of beauty, a strength of being--that even if I disagree with some of the content of what they say, I can appreciate and honor their expression.

As I have said many times, I agree with a lot of what you say, Bob. What I have been critical about is exemplified in your treatment of me, once again, in this thread: your complete disavowal of anything I say, regardless of what it actually is.

So I ask you this: can we not let go of the past and embrace this moment with fresh eyes and open mind and heart? Is that not possible?

1/13/2007 11:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Uncle Carbunkle said...

True Religion is The Esoteric Science (or Luminous Sacred Process) of direct and directly ego-transcending investigation of or enquiry into Light itself.
The method of True Religion is Devotional Surrender of the total body-mind of the "investigator" to and into Light itself. And ultimately to the most perfect degree, which is most perfect realization of indivisible oneness with inherently indivisible Light itself, which is Self-existing and Self-radiant being itself, or Self-existing Consciousness, Self-radiant as Love-Bliss, and which is Reality itself.

True Religion is the the Esoteric Science, or true Divine way of TRULY knowing, and, thereby, BEING the unbroken light.

Western Man , both male and female, including even ALL the modern and modernising human world, is deeply set in rebellion. This dark time is thoroughly characterized by a reactive and adolescent egoic, and ego-bound, and ego-binding rebellion against all that is not the ego-I--and, thus, this dark time is even aggressively set against all that is God,or Truth,or Reality,and all that can be described as true authority, and all authority figures, and even all others, and, at last, even all of the general society, and, of course, the State, and,likewise, even the total natural world (for the adolescent ego will not endure "dependence", even on its own necessary supports), and so also even the entire cosmic order, or, ultimately even ALL that is not self or ego-I.

1/13/2007 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger dicentra63 said...

So I ask you this: can we not let go of the past and embrace this moment with fresh eyes and open mind and heart? Is that not possible?

If I were Bob, my answer would be that the very fact that you are begging me to "open my mind" to you (while insinuating perfidy or bad faith on my part) is a good indication that this isn't about an exchange of ideas or being one's opposing friend so much as it is about scoring points off an opponent by forcing him to "learn" from you.

Or you have a terrible need to be accepted by people whom you recognize to be intelligent or whatever you value but who nevertheless reject you. In that case, I would suspect a rejecting parent in your past.

Look at it this way, wise people know that people cannot learn something they are not ready to learn. You cannot teach calculus to someone who doesn't know his times tables. If Bob is unwilling to listen to you, perhaps he just isn't ready for what you have to offer. :D

On the other hand, if you were a scientist, for how long would you engage this man in "constructive dialog." A scientist could learn a great degree from him, but none of it would be science.

1/13/2007 11:49:00 AM  
Anonymous nameless said...

Will, I agree. Or to put it another way, the higher one ascends, the more can go wrong--because there more there is of oneself.

We could use the analogy of a building, with each floor corresponding to a level or station of being (whether psychological developmental stages, yogic chakras, etc). Each "floor" has its own gifts as well as its own potential problems. If one has opened to, say, "seven floors," then one is also potentially prone to seven different kinds of problems or pathologies (or mind parasites, as Bob would have it). Whereas if one is only open to "three floors," there are only three potential types of problems.

1/13/2007 11:52:00 AM  
Anonymous bubba said...

Tomberg quotes a book by Athanasius on St. Anthony, describing how Anthony was open to all, learning that which is best in others and integrating it into himself:

"...he assimilated in himself what he had obtained from each and devoted all his energies to realizing in himself the virtues of all."

One has to be able to recognize virtue in order to integrate it with the virtues one already has.

I think problems arise when one insists on integrating what is not recognized as virtuous with the vituous. If one is incapable of discrimination, integration is pointless.

1/13/2007 11:57:00 AM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

Integralist said:
"Don't become that professor, Bob. Don't rest on your laurels (of understanding) and do not only listen to your friends."

Why the overboard imperative to "save" Bob, to change his views? He has already told you he doesn't want your type of salvation. He has even told you, in easily understood english, to get lost. Why are you unable to honor even that simple request? Why not just let him live his life in his blissful ignorance? You already have your salvation why not just let the ignorant man go? He'll be the one to suffer while you reap all the rewards. It's his own ignorance that has put him where he is. Why not just accept that?

Once again I don't give a shit about hearing your answers, just asking the obvious.

1/13/2007 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I'll just say that sometimes a problem on one floor is not the root of the problem or actual problem. It is just manifesting itself on that floor or possibly others. Have to start from the center.

1/13/2007 12:15:00 PM  
Anonymous one who shall not be named said...

Dicentra, I don't know why you and others insist on perceiving everything I say in the worst possible light. I am not trying to "score points" off of anyone.

A rejecting parent? Not at all. But of course you'll just have to take that on good faith! And my question is: why not? Why not believe me when I say that this speculation is untrue, and thereby adjust your opinion of me.

That said, I have had the experience of a falling out with a friend some years ago where he was assuming motives on my part that were not true, or only partially true and rather secondary. I felt very misunderstood and misjudged. My point being that psychologically there may be an element of that here: I feel misunderstood and misjudged. So I am trying to rectify that, because it doesn't feel good to have unfinished business!

1/13/2007 12:18:00 PM  
Anonymous nameless said...

Lisa, I agree. It is similar to the idea in medicine as to whether one treats the symptoms or one looks to root causes. Usually it isn't so clear, though.

What is the "center," as you see it?

1/13/2007 12:20:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Giggle, God! It's kind of what we are talking bout round here. I think you may actually be having a hard time accepting others ideas of what God is to them and how they experience it without having to analyze and integrate it into your cosmic vision. Bubba is right on when he points out integration is worthless without discrimination. Call it values, virtues, archetypes, whatever but at the center of every moment is this core being maintained? Are you being intellectually honest with yourself? Ask yourself these questions and test it out in reality. Come back just reread some of Bob's archive. Assess your own thoughts and attitudes. Has anything changed?

I do not write this with any malice or hard feelings but this is not my blog and maybe you should respect Bob's wishes right now. Nothing is static.

1/13/2007 12:44:00 PM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

The avatar formerly known as integralist said:
"I'm trying to understand why I've gotten such a negative reaction from folks here,"

Because you are an ignorant and arrogant moron and are completely unable to comprehend that. We don't want what you are selling. We've passed through your phase, seen it for what it is and have thrown it out with the trash DECADES ago.
Shut up and LISTEN for once in your life.
Dude, I told you you were in danger of turning into the sycophant because of your contempt towards a man who doesn't deserve it, and now look. "Please love me". You are pathetic.

Sorry Bob, I realize the ignore mode is more profitable with this clown so I'll practice that and stay on point from here on out. I couldn't hep mahsef. GAZE
Too much good stuff today to waste time here.

1/13/2007 12:45:00 PM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

Something which has always intrigued me has been the descent of the spirit to such an extent where a physical manifestation of safety and power appears in an "all is lost" situation.
Relating to the current war against the jihadists, a couple of prior instances come to mind. One is where George Washington in the Battle of the Monongahela attempting to rally his troops, had two horses shot out from under him and four bullet holes through his coat yet sustained no injuries. The Indians in the battle had actually targeted him in an attempt to annihilate the command structure and marveled at what they saw as an intervention.
Another was Alvin York in WWI. Where his scout patrol circling behind German lines was discovered and decimated, half being either killed or wounded. There were machinegun bullets strafing all around him yet he went untouched and played his hand so perfectly that he ended up capturing 132 prisoners. It ‘s interesting reading the account behind his being awarded of the Medal of Honor.

Now I guess a that a sophisticated deconstructionist/postmodernist would say that these were random chance incidences which can be used as propaganda to instill faith in a cause for the weak minded. All I can say to that is, Oh well. ;)

1/13/2007 01:35:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"the descent of the spirit to such an extent where a physical manifestation of safety and power appears in an 'all is lost' situation."

I remember evaluating a patient, a Christian woman who worked in a jewelry store and was involved in a robbery (the evaluation was for the purposes of determining whether she required treatment for trauma). At one point she was ordered to her knees, and one of the robbers held a gun to the back of her head. She was convinced that she was about to die. Suddenly, she felt the descent of a tremendous spiritual peace from the top of her head, down her body.

I have seen many cases of post-traumatic stress, in which the person "dissociated" during the trauma, but this was nothing like that. For one thing, she developed no symptoms afterwards. Needless to day, she required no treatment.

1/13/2007 01:50:00 PM  
Blogger dicentra63 said...

Dicentra, I don't know why you and others insist on perceiving everything I say in the worst possible light. I am not trying to "score points" off of anyone.

Let's take this outside, shall we?

1/13/2007 02:45:00 PM  
Anonymous walt said...

Bob, you wrote
"Nor do I wish to become known, except by a very narrow group of people. How to reach that group without exposure to the wrong types..."

When I ran my business, I too had this wish. While it is not easy to reconcile this wish with being "open, and public", I approached my enterprise by
1) working at it (literally) all the time; this had the effect of keeping "idlers" away.
2) promoting it only by word-of-mouth; this led to those who came to me actually having a "reason" for coming i.e. they arrived at least slightly "pre-qualified."

These tactics were aimed directly at the aforementioned wish, and seemed to work pretty well. Of course, I never became rich, nor famous.....

1/13/2007 03:32:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Hmm... there is something about music, like that, Bob.

I've said before to people, that anyone can learn to play anything, and to sing.

But you cannot learn music. Either you have it or you don't-- what we think of as Musical Genius is nothing other than an ordinary person with a knack-- a mechanical talent like guitar, singing, usually. But the blue musicians revealed clearly to me (but before them, others had suggested this idea to me) that the thing that makes a good player-- into a MUSICIAN is nothing short of Music itself.

I figured it out one day, that I wasn't playing 'my songs' but rather, borrowing parts of the eternal song from God to use for awhile.

So when I hear as those post-moderns would say: 'Those tired old three chords' -- I'm not listening to the chords-- not to the lyrics-- not to the rhythm-- but listening to see if I can hear the Music.

One of my favorite songs to play is 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star' -- which is Mozart's 10 variations (I think its 10 and not 12...) because One day I realised that it wasn't about fancy trills or complex chord progressions at all.

Not to say I don't have some respect for them, but there is to me, a world of difference between a song which is a wholeness unto itself and a song that leaves you wondering what you listened to.

Rhapsody in Blue, by George Gershwin is a song that is like that-- it says everything within itself. Other songs that to me speak like that are Sonata Pathetique, Rachmaninoff's Prelude (in C# minor), Chopin's Prelude in E minor, and many of Bach's Fugues. (Like the C minor one)

The minor songs usually stick 'harder', But there are also some major keyed songs that are nice. Usually they are very simple ones (Like Bach's Minuet in G.)

Oh, if the children only knew how beautiful some of that music they were plunking out is...

1/13/2007 03:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Joan of Argghh! said...

If you feed it, it grows.
If you starve it, it dies.
If you feed it, it grows.
If you starve it, it dies.

1/13/2007 04:52:00 PM  
Anonymous debass said...


Michael Brecker.

1/13/2007 06:02:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Howlin' the blues. Thanks for the reminder, Bob. Now I gotta go searching thru my vinyl...

1/13/2007 06:36:00 PM  
Anonymous PrincessSpirit said...

G-BOB, another fine post! Yum, thanks for sharing your milk n meat w/us.

Hoarhey: Re: physical safety & protection in "all is lost" situations (Hope amidst Fear & Powerlessness) is a subject dear to my heart. Rarely do I tire to read present & historical experiences of similar miracles, interventions, extraordinary providence, etc. Thanks so much for posting your pov, another window of the reality of God-with-us.

Jerub-Baal: Depression does Not wash away Narcissism, as you stated. Depression perpetuates self-pity, a form of Narcissism, pride, vanity. When you consistently practice weaning off self-pity (which is self-righteousness & pride) by consistently embracing Humility more than Pity (give that ground to Him over self) Victory over depression can be realized. Descending to Ascend allows you to face & choose Interdependent, Humble, Trusting relationship w/God, to place Hope & Faith in Him instead of self that doesn't satisfy. Hard to pity self when IN Communion w/Him & Grace.

Ecclesiastes point is Submit to God (descend to find Him) as all else is Vanity. Descent, whether actively chosen or passively received, reconciles spirit-w-Spirit. You'll connect thru Grace, silence, emot. attachment, humility, brokenness; knowing, emot. bonding, Spirit-adjusting your thoughts & feelings, Trust, Faith, Communion, etc. then grows. Altho God can override self-defense mechanisms as He chooses, pity & narcissism are spiritual barriers to rich relationship w/Him. Tear down those walls if you desire rich connection w/God. Humility, a non-intellectualism, connects you In Him. He doesnt ignore the brokenhearted or humble, contrite-in-spirit. He Responds & draws near to them. Growth in spurts is fine; but you have Another Option you can Actively Choose. Perseverance is key.

Two Types of Descent: (1) You can Choose Pursuant-Active-Connective Descent to God+Spirit, via Humility, humbleness, contrition, brokenness, etc. *or* (2) Passive-Receptive Descent of Gods Grace given upon You as He chooses. Your choice & His choice meet in middle if they spiritually align & you'll find Him there.

Many are taught to wait passively for Him to be Known to them; but Scripture clearly commands us to choose to actively Pursue Him. Doing Both is Best. So, choose to pursue Him instead of Depression w/all Your Will, Mind & Heart (meaning, connect w/Him despite your depression, in your self-pity, in all moods & conditions.) You will find Him, as we are doing. Discrepancies you say you can't reconcile will either pare down & out of self, or integrate in Spirit-self. Spiritual pride & pity (or) Humility & Healthy ego Is A Choice You Can Make. We can choose & commit to do our part in relationship w/Him. God is Trustworthy to do His part w/You. Pray You choose Humility vs self-pity. Gods Blessings in Your Spiritual Journey & Recovery!

- Princess -

1/13/2007 10:36:00 PM  
Anonymous mother's little helper said...

Integralist, you're recieving a garden-variety type of rejection, the kind that exists in offices and schools and so forth, not an ideological one. You've failed somehow on a social level, not an intellectual one.

You've been found to be obnoxious, is all. Therefore, the content of your posts is rejected out of hand because the writer of it has been rejected out of hand.

Strategy: change your handle, but more importantly, change up your style so that you don't sound so obviously like you.

All points you make should be short, provocative, honest, and in relatation to some specific element in the main post. Refrain from attacks for several weeks at least. See if you can float a different persona, and you can easily continue here. Take advantage of the anonymity.

1/13/2007 10:52:00 PM  
Anonymous mother's little helper said...

I mght add, it helps to undergo a "sex-change" as it were. If you were formerly male (let's say you were posting as "Jack Sprat") change up and call yourself "little bo peep" or some such. People are very responsive to gender cues and react differently depending on gender.

If you want more mercy from the court, style yourself as a vulnerable female, like "La Contessa" or "Rapunzel."

But, be prepared to not be taken so seriously as a thinker. Upside, downside.

If you want to be taken seriously, try a male foreign name like "Leopoldo" or "Sergei". People imagine that contenental thinkers tend to be heavy hitters.

Now, go git 'em.

1/13/2007 11:02:00 PM  
Anonymous mother's little helper said...

In other words: become a totally different person with totally different, more evolved ideas and ways of presenting those ideas and you might fit in.

(Sometimes I just amaze myself with my own brilliance)

1/13/2007 11:10:00 PM  
Anonymous GLASR said...

I will absolutely hate myself in the morning. Yesterday's post tossed out the word "meme". Today's post offers "meme" resistance relative to the Cosmos. Coincidence is number two on Goldfinger's list of identifiers(bad luck, coincidence, enemy action). Don't care for explaining much with it myself. Have you had this discussion previously? I'll search One Cosmos after I post this. Curious, to me anyway.

1/13/2007 11:12:00 PM  
Anonymous La skank said...


How's this?

1/13/2007 11:13:00 PM  
Anonymous PrincessSpirit said...

Nameless: Still you refuse to understand & accept simple Truths:

> YOU can choose to take full responsibility for your spiritual walk & development & failure of such. We see no evidence of this from you.

> We have the right to choose or not choose to learn sumfink from you. You do not control nor coerce us. CAPICHE? You don't respect anyones boundaries, yet cry fould when you fancy yourself The Victim. My nieces & nephews know better than to do that childish maneuver. You ARE the little boy who cries Wolf! Rightly so he was not given "respect" - why would anyone respect a Liar-Abuser? The moral of the story, yet you ignore it applies.

> You've chosen to be abusive to people here, yet you STILL take ZERO responsibility for it. Why should we relate w/you or "learn" anything an Abuser shares? You betrayed yourself & made it inhospitable here for your self - now you whine "But why?", the mark of a Constant Victim refusing to take responsibility for self, who blames others for actions HE earned.

> Why did YOU do this to yourself, then, if its not what you desired? Bit you in the ass, didn't it? Thank your own stupidity then cuz it isnt Wisdom.

> Though you fancy yourself some kinda teacher, you choose, act & behave childishly & abusively, not wisely; of course we dont want to hear what you have to say when you behave unwisely.

> You demonstrate compartmentalized self. You dont evidence Integralism. We've got more Integralism than you do in your big toe. Should we learn it from you then?? Stop kidding yourself. Denial & lies only bondage you to pride. Get ye Humble. Do it not, and find yourself unwelcome here more.

> You deny you've sown bitter seeds you now reap. Yet you sowed them! Denial is not Reality. Why should we listen to one who Denies Reality?

> Without God-Spirit, you have no Center. You oughta know this. If you have a problem with that Truth, take it up w/Him. We aren't here to "fix" you or do therapy. You can choose to pursue it for yourself.

Even my first year clients in therapy know these truths & abide by them.

If such Truths are not apparent to you, you actually are not prepared, spiritually mature enuf or ready to be here. If you've got self-work to do, be Honest enuf to admit Truth & do something constructive with yourself. Take responsibility if you want to be "respected." Honor Truth & Get Healthy.

- Princess -

1/13/2007 11:15:00 PM  
Anonymous rapunzal said...

All right . . . oh, this just feels ridiculous.

1/13/2007 11:18:00 PM  
Anonymous la contessa said...

Okay . .this is better . . . in fact, it feels strangely . . . comfortable . . . .exiting, even . . . as if a whole new me is emerging from the closet, or rather the darkness, I meant . . .

1/13/2007 11:21:00 PM  
Anonymous GLASR said...

Archives gotta hiccup? Quite a bit of "meme" pillory. Impression I got from the search quotes. When I turned over the page, URL cannot be found. Darn, several looked like they might have me out of my chair. Y'all must admit Dr. Gagdad does have a sense of humor, the ironic and delivery.

Am I barking up the wrong tree? Backtracking to say, "Stop reading One Cosmos, NOW!" Eww, hate that kinda stuff. Folks begin questioning your uh, ah, um, well, ya know, like that.

1/13/2007 11:38:00 PM  
Anonymous jay-low said...

Does this spandex make me look fat?

1/13/2007 11:51:00 PM  
Anonymous The daddy mother's helper should have had said...

"Integralist, you're recieving a garden-variety type of rejection, the kind that exists in offices and schools and so forth, not an ideological one. You've failed somehow on a social level, not an intellectual one."

Mother's you have it exactly backwards. It will be impossible for him to hide his "religion". His pernicious ideas are exactly the reason why he is so vehemently rejected.

1/14/2007 12:06:00 AM  
Anonymous uss ben said...

No...just flabby.

1/14/2007 12:08:00 AM  
Anonymous cosanostradamus said...

"There is even empirical research documenting the fact that people who truly have had transformative "peak experiences," or full on, life-changing ingressions of the vertical, rarely speak of them."

Those are refreshing words. The few people I've shared these things with think I'm straitjacket material.

So I enjoyed reading the stories of the braver souls instead. What struck me most about them is how varied they are, and how the descent of intelligence is so precisely tailored to each unique individual at just the right time. It's not random or a function of chance, but bespeaks of a purposeful maker behind it. I mean, what if Bob and River had accidentally received each other's "transmissions" - would it have worked out so well? We'd all be trying to decipher Gershschuon rhapsodies...

1/14/2007 12:21:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I just want to make one little correction seeing that I used to work in an archive. Bob only has one archive, there is no plural unless he has another secret site, which is always a possiblity. A lot of people make that common mistake of pluralizing archive. Just thought I'd share...

1/14/2007 12:42:00 AM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

You said:

"... a "guru" type person, as it were. Yes, you could say that this is like conceding that I am not God, but obviously, untold spiritual mischief is caused by people who overstep their boundaries and do just that. It's not so much that I am tempted to do this, but there is something within many people that is tempted to confer this authority upon others, which many spiritual psychopaths happily identify with."

I spoke the other day of some new agey types who I spent some time around in the past and I made the comment of how I couldn't understand why someone would want to be admired by certain people (a definite majority) who were at some of the gatherings I went to. There was a palpable lack of authenticity in most present and also many not so hidden agendas. It was interesting to watch the vampiric feeding of the "leaders" on the attentions given to them by the sheep-like "paying customers". Watching that and trusting my interpretation of what I saw helped me with my understanding and discernment concerning how getting the ego involved in spiritual matters can lead down dangerous blind paths. It also helped me to rely on my own judgement of what I "see" with my own eyes.
And this may sound somewhat hokey but it also helped my insights into how Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, etc. could hypnotize an entire country.
By understanding the micro (families, smallgroups) and applying that understanding to the macro (entire countries, the world).

1/14/2007 12:45:00 AM  
Anonymous jay-low said...

Oh Ben,

You're such a flatterer..... bat, bat. ;)

1/14/2007 12:54:00 AM  
Anonymous la skank said...


I thought you liked me?

1/14/2007 12:59:00 AM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...


Had you worked in the archives you probably would have made better money. ;^)

1/14/2007 01:01:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

One was bad enough! (or should I say boring enough for the daily grind.)

1/14/2007 01:22:00 AM  
Anonymous 2btru said...

Bobblers: here's another t-shirt idea:
"Come for the philosophy, stick around for the snarking."

Or how 'bout, "This life's for talking. Next one's for walking."

1/14/2007 03:45:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Haha, switched 'transmissions' sounds hilarious.

I've never posted in tongues, but I'd not assume such a thing is not possible...

But to have someone else post in my tongues? Or the tongues that were post marked for this address?

I mean, what do you say?

Well, I guess it doesn't matter, because no-one could understand you anyway...

*rim shot*

Well, to be honest, it is said that the speaking of tongues should not be done publicly except for these cases:
1. You can't help it, you holey rolla,
2. Someone for some Reason can understand you...

That being said, Paul considers praying in tongues (which is going to pray, and having it come out in an unknown tongue) as 'praying with the Spirit (like, directly, since you don't know what you're saying)' as opposed to regular prayer which involves usually the mind.

Some Charismatic folks would have you believe that the whole tongues thing is all about weeping and rolling around and frothing and stuff, maybe, but it is different than that.

Also, each person often has a particular language that they don't know that they speak - some people call it a 'prayer language' - I've heard that some Russian guy's prayer language was English.

Tongues is almost like the Word manifesting himself as speech. Something to be careful with and to not abuse, for sure.

1/14/2007 09:10:00 PM  

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