Geopolitical Psychospirituality and the Struggle for Integrated Wholeness (1.10.09)
As Will suggested, it would be contradictory to God's own nature to deceptively create the universe in such a way that it only looked 15 billion years old, or misleadingly throw in some fossils that make it look like life appeared 3.85 billion years ago, or toss in human remains indicating that human beings have been wandering the planet for at least 100,000 years. Divine omnipotence does not include the ability to act contrary to the Divine nature -- which is not deliberately deceptive, to say the least.
In response to Petey's statement that God does not give us the precious gift of spiritual intellection (which specifically integrates heart and mind in a higher unity) only to render it a farce with a literalism that undermines it, one reader suggested that he is content to close his mind in favor of receiving "the Water of Life." In other words, for this person, there is no relationship between "the waters of life" and our divine intellect.
I am going to try to pull together an argument from a number of diverse strands here. In my present condition (still recovering from this cold), I'm not sure I will be able to do so, but here goes anyway.
I am rarely "dazzled" by an intellect, but yesterday afternoon I heard a particularly brilliant person interviewed on the Hugh Hewitt show, Thomas Barnet, author of The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-first Century. One of the reasons why I found this man's intellect so dazzling is that he effortlessly pulled together so many different strands of reality into a coherent, overarching grand strategy for the United States in the 21st century. He was "integral" in a truly meaningful sense, not in the narrow manner of the movement that goes by that name. Nor was he anything like your typical academic pinhead, as he easily ranged from discipline to discipline, showing the interlocking nature of history, culture, military strategy, economics, diplomacy, globalization, and more.
It seems that one of Barnet's key points is that there is what he calls a "functioning core" of economically developed, politically stable states integrated into the global system with deep connectivity. In the days of the cold war, the world's "core" was the United States, Western Europe, Japan, and a few other places, all open, interlocked, and flowing back and forth in an infinitely complex way with information, goods, currency, cultural memes, etc.
Since the time of the cold war, much of the non-integrating gap has become part of the core. In particular, during the 1990's, globalization rapidly expanded the size of the core, encompassing Eastern Europe, India, and even China to a certain extent. In 1980, the core represented only about 10% of the world’s population but encompassed around 2/3rds of the planet’s productive power and economic wealth. Today the core encompasses roughly half the world’s countries, but has grown to almost 90% of the world’s GDP.
At the edges of the core is the "non-integrating gap," those nations and cultures that are not part of the core. According to Barnet, the most likely threats to U.S. and international security always come from the non-integrating gap. What they are specifically rejecting is connectivity to the core, often for deeply psycho-cultural reasons. For example, globalization tends to challenge traditional gender roles. If it begins to extend into a culture in which males exert control over females, it will be resisted. As Barnet put it, "What scares most people, when globalization comes in, is the social change. You go in with those kinds of markets and networks, I guarantee you, you are messing with people’s definitions of wives and lovers and mothers and sisters and daughters and families and education, and the definition of the good life. And when you do that, it’s typically going to be educated young men who look at that package and say, 'you know what? This is not what I signed up for, and I’ll be willing to fight and kill and die under the most perverse conditions to prevent the social change that I find reprehensible.'"
This is the context in which to understand the threat from Islam. The Islamic world is obviously not integrated into the world's core -- not just economically, but in every other way -- culturally, epistemologically, psychologically, scientifically, psycho-sexually, religiously. Just as President Bush has attempted to argue -- and it will be interesting to hear how he addresses this tonight -- the entire key to our future security lies in finding a way to integrate the Islamic world into the functioning core.
Now, I am sure I am not doing justice to Barnet's complex and sophisticated argument. But I wanted to take it in another direction, for the first thing that occurred to me upon hearing him lay out this model was how similar it is to the individual human mind. For the mind too is a complex open system with a "functioning core," but with non-integrating gaps that I have called mind parasites. In order to picture what I'm driving at, you first have to reduce consciousness from its hyperdimensional manifold to the image of a three-dimensional sphere, like the earth. Imagine your conscious ego (or "self," if you like) as the "functioning core" of your consciousness, that part of it that you have "colonized," so to speak. But this colonized part comes up against the edge of many non-integrated gaps in the sphere of consciousness. One of them is called the unconscious.
When someone comes in for psychotherapy, it is fair to say that this is always more or less the problem -- that they are suffering because they have aspects of themselves that are not integrated into their core. These aspects seem to have a life of their own, and literally operate like a foreign nation within the psyche. You have your interests. The mind parasites have their's. Psychotherapy is literally nothing more or less than becoming more integrated for the purpose of becoming more actualized, for your general ability to actualize yourself will be limited by those parts of yourself that you have not integrated into your core. You can ignore them -- as we tried to ignore Islamic radicalism for so many years -- but it will place a huge road block before your evolution, as we can see with regard to the world. It is as if everything is on hold as we try to find a way to integrate these "split off" Islamic parasites.
Now, having said that, you mustn't imagine consciousness in static terms, like a two dimensional map where consciousness expands into more territory. Rather, you must imagine it as a ceaselessly flowing entity, just like Barnet's model of the interlocking core, through which all sorts of transactions and exchanges are taking place. The healthy mind does not so much "colonize" the unconscious in a static way as live in a fruitful, dialectic relationship with it. You can tell when you are in the presence of someone who has no rapport with his unconscious. They will appear rather rigid, and lack the supple spontaneity and creativity of the child.
It is said that science consists of the reduction of multiplicities to unity. It is the same way with psychotherapy and with spiritual growth. It is by reducing our static and unintegrated multiplicity to greater dynamic wholeness that we expand our being -- literally grow the soul -- similar to how the world's core expands through deep connectivity between its parts.
A fine example of multiplicity standing in the way of the growth of unity is to maintain in the teeth of all evidence to the contrary that evolution does not exist and that the world was somehow created 6,000 years ago. In order to maintain such a view, it can only exist as an "unintegrated gap" split off from everything else we know about reality. It must exist in closed and frozen form in a dark corner of the psyche, just like an unevolving traditional culture. It is then renamed "faith," an abuse of the term if ever there was one, for faith is specifically openness to the divine reality. It is never closed, much less static.
Now God is not only One, but the ground and possibility of Oneness. To exist in a fragmented state is specifically to "reject God" in one way or another. Let thine eye be single, and thy body shall be full of light, as the Master said.
Shifting gears again, I would like to bring in something from Meditations on the Tarot, which addresses exactly this issue in Chapter One -- which is the archetypal chapter for understanding the rest of the book. There our unknown friend notes that the purpose of esotericism is to help "the deep and intimate layers of the soul" to "become active and bear fruit." In short, meditation on certain religious principles "makes us fertile in our creative pursuits, in whatever domain of spiritual life," somewhat like an "enzyme" or "ferment" which reaches across the divide and stimulates our spiritual and psychic life. Note that this has nothing in common with literalism or fundamentalism, which are wholly static and do not appreciate the more important function of religious symbols, which is to unify ourselves in a deeply connective and dynamic way -- both within ourselves and with God, for the two are a function of one another.
In fact, later the Author notes that all practical esotericism is founded on the principle that "it is necessary to be one in oneself and one with the spiritual world in order for a revelatory or actual spiritual experience to be able to take place." Furthermore, "the tenet of the basic unity of the world is the same with regard to all knowledge -- without it no knowledge is conceivable.... We declare that the world is not a mosaic, where a plurality of worlds which are essentially strangers to one another are fitted together, but that it is an organism -- all of whose parts are governed by the same principle, revealing it and allowing reduction to it."
But to splinter the unity of knowledge -- and of the spiritual world -- by maintaining a "non-integrating gap," a spiritual ghetto of literalism, is to act counter to the divine will and to ultimately reject God. And this nonintegrated gap will always be at war with oneself, with other people, with the wider world, with reality, for God cannot be reduced to a stubborn little island of personal mythology.
"You only know that which is verified by the agreement of all forms of experience in its totality -- experience of the senses, moral experience, psychic experience, the collective experience of other seekers for the truth, and finally the experience of those whose knowing merits the title of wisdom and those whose striving has been crowned by the title of saint." Integrate all of these, and you are a mage. Fail to do so, and there will be a perpetual gulf between your core and your unintegrated gaps. And that means war.