It's All About Me and What I Love
I don't even remember what yesterday's post was about, and that's the deuce of it, as Colonel Beaglehole might say. Had something to do with a comment left by Integralist... What was it... Oh yes, "Bob, what can I say... You put yourself out in cyberspace and seem to only appreciate adulation.... In other words you are a monologue, only taking in what agrees with you, trashing what disagrees with you. What does this sound like? You're a psychologist, you should know: EGO. Or to put it another way, a cult of personality."
Granted, Integralist is right about the cult of personality, but not even wrong about everything else. Once again we are left with the question of how to integrate bunk, especially after it has been debunked. For once bunk has been debunked, there's really nothing left to integrate. For example, since leftism itself has long since been discredited, it had to reinvent itself with new names and concepts such as multiculturalism, moral relativism, tolerance, deconstructionism, income gaps, "two Americas," self esteem, environmentalism, and the like, all enforced by the illegitimate, thought-blocking force of totolerantarian political correctness. Those of us who are beyond a certain age can see that it's the same old impulse, merely under a new guise. Old whines in new battles.
So, I am a "monologue" only taking in "what agrees with me?" To be honest, there was a time that I could say that I was solidly within the integralist camp. I no longer remember when I started writing my book -- it was probably in around '97-98 -- but it is fair to say that it was done so almost entirely from a yogic perspective that the typical new-ager would probably find acceptable. It was only after I had actually pretty much completed the book -- probably in around 2001 -- that I fell (or was he pulled!) into a profound dimension of Christianity that I had never before appreciated, to put it mildly.
Not too long thereafter I submitted the manuscript, but as I grew in understanding, I became increasingly concerned about what I had written. In a previous post I told the story of how I was somewhat miraculously given the opportunity, in a very limited space of time, to completely disassemble and rewrite the book - especially chapter 4 -- to reflect this new understanding. Even now the growth is obviously ongoing, so if I were to have another crack at it, it would be somewhat different. But it doesn't really matter, because I have the blog to correct any errors, to elaborate fine points, and to work out my own understanding -- which I essentially write about as it comes to me in real time.
In short, I am hardly a "closed system." It all depends on what you are open to. No disrespect to Ken Wilber, but to even mention him in the same breath as a Frithjof Schuon, Meister Eckhart, Pseudo-Dionysius, or Gregory of Nyssa, is somewhat preposterous -- not through any fault of Wilber's, but through the person who is incapable of perceiving the heat and light, the substance of grace, that is transmitted in the words of a genuine bearer of metaphysical truth. It is the difference between intellectualism and intellection, the latter of which being much closer to pure vision than thought. But to transmit this pure vision, language must used in such a way that it is "receptive" to these higher things. It is a very mysterious process, but nonetheless "realer than real" to those who are sensitive to it. There is a veritable flood of grace that emanates from the words of the true theologian -- who must be distinguished from the mere theodoxian, that is, someone who talks about the Divine as opposed to being in the Divine.
In my own limited way, I am always at least trying to be open to this dimension of existence. In my book (p. 222) it is symbolized by the downward arrow; I am sure that Wilber himself would agree that his work would represent a horizontal arrow, which is to say, information that can be unambiguously passed from mind to mind, like from his to Integralist's. This is not to put down Integralist. I myself began reading Wilber in the early 1980's and subsequently read every one of his books through Sex, Ecology and Spirituality in 1995.
Now, it is no exaggeration to say that as recently as 1984, when I met the future Mrs. Gagdad -- which had a strangely civilizing effect on me -- I was still half beast. Which is to say, I was a typical man. And yet, despite my lack of spiritual development, there was nothing in Wilber I could not understand. In fact, I took great pride in doing so, for I thought that understanding his theories was equivalent to being highly evolved, and therefore being better than others. Which was the important thing anyway (you are all well familiar with that smug and superior new age attitude of a Deepak Chopra and the like). I wrote a number of papers for various classes that I could easily submit today to any integralist journal or magazine, and I am sure they would be happy to publish them. They would not be able to tell that the man who wrote them -- who happily no longer exists -- was just a half-beast dabbling in spiritualistic ideas, perhaps well-expressed but ultimately devoid of O. Call it the Alan Watts Syndrome, bless his heart (and I'm not being sarcastic -- Watts was a hugely talented and entertaining man who motivated countless less cynical and manipulative people to pursue the real thing).
At the same time, if you had handed me a Bible in 1982, I would have handed it right back to you. No thanks. I'm an evolutionary integralist. I've transcended that primitive mythology. Not only would I have been unable to discern the difference between, say, Schuon and Ram Dass, I wouldn't have understood a word of the former. To be honest, even my first crack at Meditations on the Tarot lasted for about a chapter and a half. I simply wasn't ready for it. And yet, what force is contained in that book for those who are ready!
And how does one become ready? One thing is certain: it is not by becoming an egomaniac. In fact, you don't have to even worry about egomaniacs gaining access to this precious knowledge, for the simple reason that it is inaccesible to the ego. When Jesus says "Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice," Pilate cynically asks the perennial postmodern question, "What is Truth?"
Now, knowing truth is exactly analogous -- for it must be -- to being virtuous. For to be virtuous means to align oneself with virtue. In so doing, we counter the selfish tendencies of the ego. The leftist engages in the absurdity of trying to do good without being good or cultivating goodness in others, for as a modern day Pilate might ask, "What is good? Your culture says this, my culture says that. How dare you judge others?! It's all good, dude." Or as Integralist said the other day, your Dear Leader's approach is "a rather narrow way" of looking at things. Instead, we should be asking, "can the world accommodate the vast diversity of expression that it manifests?... The world was made for everything that it has made." For Dear Leader to think otherwise is "arrogant self-delusion and ego inflation." You see? We must take the fallen world as it is and accommodate ourselves to it, rather than to the living logos that is anterior to it.
If leftists merely aligned themselves with the Good rather than trying to force their manmade version of goodness upon others, we wouldn't even need the left, would we? Empirical studies show that if liberals merely gave as much to charity as conservatives do, there would hardly be the need for a welfare state. In other words, the purpose of the welfare state is to cater to the selfish and egotistical leftists who make one necesssary.
Now, just as to align oneself with virtue is to counteract the ego, so too, to align oneself with truth is to diminish the ego. How could it be otherwise? To paraphrase Schuon, to know Truth is to die a little. And this process of aligning oneself with truth will be a purifying ordeal, as various unredeemed aspects of the self must be "burned out," so to speak -- karmic patterns, mind parasites, anything that is unworthy of cohabiting with the virgin Sophialogo for whom our dear Mysteress is named.
And now, perhaps another personal anecdote to remind you of the boundless compassion of your Dear Leader. Within a few weeks of submitting the final revised manuscript of my book, I was diagnosed with adult onset type I diabetes. Who knows why I burned out my pancreas, but I did. In any event, thereafter I sunk into a depression. I don't think it was because I was depressed over the diagnosis -- which I stoically accepted like a Beaglehole -- but because I was hormonally messed up, probably even mildly ketoacidotic. But with this depression came a renewed concern that I had done something bad with my book. "Have I made a metaphysical boo boo," I wondered? Had I written something unworthy of the Truth I love? I was especially concerned about the humor. Might people take it the wrong way?
The book then came out in early 2005. To be honest, the reason I started this blog in October of 2005 was because it was the only way I could think of to promote the book -- to try to change it from being the commercial catastrophe it was to the mere commercial failure that it is. But I still had no confidence that what I had done was a good thing. Not until I began receiving emails from satisfied customers, like this one that just came in: "Bob, I offer you my sincere gratitude. We are The Few, The Prideless, The Raccoons. Thank you for bringing us together once again in this lifetime. We are getting close to the Telos, the Eschaton, to Revelation, to Awe, to Realization, to Mashiach. And your daily infusion of Spirit propels us ever closer. All the glory belongs to God, who, by His Grace alone, radiates forth from your words."
Now, to suggest that I could somehow take this in the wrong way to exalt me is to thoroughly misunderstand everything I have just written. First of all, it comes as a relief that my writing is not taken in the wrong way. Secondly, it serves as a testimony or confirmation -- the only kind of confirmation that interests me -- that I am performing a useful service for others.
However, I would like to correct a certain misapprehension. The other day, Hoarhey -- Dupree's brash, fence-swinging assistant -- posted a screaming line-drive up the alley, in which he implied that your Dear Leader thanklessly slaves away at his keyboard each morning, getting nothing out of the process while having to tolerate the slings and arrows of malignant leftists and fatuous new agers. In reality, the blog has evolved into something I could not have foreseen at the outset, because it has become a "community of the like-spirited" that stimulates me to no end. At least I hope it doesn't end. Some people believe we are a "community of the closed-minded," which is patently absurd. For the whole point is that everyone who appreciates the blog does so because it helps them maintain contact with a Truth that transcends us.
I look at it in a thoroughly trinitarian way. Duality is the realm of conflict and contradiction, argument and endless debate. Furthermore, merely loving each other in a binary way is ultimately narcissistic. But a true community consists of anytwo who together love a third thing that brings and keeps them together. Therefore, you not only love the other person, but you love what they love. This makes the person all the more lovable, but only when they love what is good, what is true, and what is beautiful -- which also removes the ego from the love and makes it sustainable. So ultimately this is a dynamic community of love -- not of your Dear Leader, but of That which each of us recognizes and loves from afar. But getting closer all the time.