On Creating a Cultural Womb for the Seed of Eternity (updated with your worst nightmare)
By the way, it's not always that easy to return to the state from which the day's previous post arose. If anyone is startled by certain discontinuities in my day-to-day concerns, it is again because whatever it is I am writing about is as much a matter of "state" or "plane" as it is content. In other words, I must specifically enter a certain state in order to write competently about whatever it is we are tackling.
I know it sounds prima donna-ish, but it's true. I am reminded of something that another petulant prima donna, Keith Jarrett, said. He is probably the world's greatest living jazz pianist, but he has also delved into classical. He said that the consciousness required in order to properly play these two forms is so radically different that it takes him months of preparation to switch over from one to the other. Jazz comes from one plane, classical from another.
Regarding the preparation of a human body for Phase II of the arc of salvation, ShrinkWrapped has had a very thoughtful series of posts on the psychological implications of abortion. A couple of days ago, he wrote that,
"For a couple who desire a child, life begins before conception. A couple trying to become pregnant find that each month, if the woman has her menses, there is a small feeling of loss; the hoped for and already loved child [emphasis mine] has not appeared. When, finally, the woman determines she is pregnant, often responding to barely conscious and unconscious bodily signals that herald the changes taking place within, the child begins to take on a reality, a life of its own. By the time of 'quickening', typically in the fourth month or thereabouts, the child is already a baby in the minds of the parents. There is no question that wanted children are psychologically already babies from very early in the sequence. Furthermore, a wanted child is the repository of all that is best in the couple. They imbue the soon-to-be infant with all sorts of possibilities and qualities... there is no question that from the moment of the positive EPT, reinforced each step of the way (heartbeat, sonograms, movement), the woman is carrying a person, not a fetus, and not a clump of cells."
Remember this paragraph when we begin discussing the preparation of a human body to bear the incarnation.
Scripture does not only reveal theological and metaphysical truth veiled in symbolic form, but also certain intrinsic psychological truths that enunciate the proper "operating system" for human beings. I would like to focus on some of the psychological truths that are veiled in scripture, because just as certain material conditions must prevail in order to create the context for psychological health, so too must certain psychological circumstances prevail in order to create a context for spiritual descent.
Obviously, the Torah is quite concerned with maintaining certain circumstances and arrangements that make possible the descent of divinity, or holiness, or the sacred. Jewish law was not there for its own sake but to create the day-to-day conditions under which God may "appear" in one's life. Yes, God is "always here" because he is "everywhere." But you might say that he is "dispersed" everywhere, and that human beings are uniquely able to engage in certain practices -- rituals, sacraments, and the like -- that act in the way that a magnifying glass focuses the sun's rays on a single point.
An efficacious ritual does the same thing, focusing God's grace, as it were, onto a single point in the now. The purpose of the sabbath, for example, is to unveil and open wide the "hole" in creation through which the divine energies flow. A special day is set aside for this specific purpose, even though the energies are always flowing. But again, in the absence of a divinely authorized human container, the grace will tend to fall like rain on a rocky landscape, with nothing there to "receive" it.
Obviously the Catholic sacraments are intended for the same purpose -- baptism, the Eucharist, holy matrimony, etc. -- in each instance, the medium is not just transformed by grace, but for the purposes of receiving the transforming grace. I am sure that much of what I am saying here is not kosher from a strict Catholic standpoint, but when dealing with any theological truth, the esoterist always asks, by virtue of what principle? does this or that truth operate. It is simply obvious to my Coon vision, for example, that marriage between man and woman is not an end in itself but a divinely ordained arrangement for the purposes of receiving the grace that will transform both parties. A dysfunctional marriage is one in which no spiritual transformation takes place -- it is spiritually "stillborn," so to speak, or "infertile" no matter how many children it produces -- like a Kennedy marriage.
This is why, strictly speaking, there can be no "secular" marriage. Or put it this way: to the extent that your marriage is only a secular affair, I do not see how or why it could transcend the state of essentially being -- as Glen Campbell sang -- "shackled by forgotten words and bonds and the ink stains that have dried upon some line." Anything short of spiritual union involves using the other person in one way or another. It merely creates the conditions for narcissism rather than its transcendence, which is surely one reason why there are so many divorces. Marriage can never do for you what it was never intended to do, which is to make you "happy" or "fulfilled" in the material sense, at least not for long. No mere earthling can do that.
I remember a patient from about a decade ago, a narcissistic, completely secular man who not only rejected religion but despised it. He was married in the strictly animal sense of the term, and naturally sought animal fulfillment with other women. Why not? What's the difference? But one time when he was contemplating another affair, I spontaneously blurted out, "why do you need another woman, when you have no idea how to use the one you've got?"
Yes, on the one hand this is an example of why I am not cut out to be a therapist. Still, it led down a very fruitful avenue in which this profoundly unspiritual man was able to face the pathetic emotional poverty of his existence, poverty that was entirely self-induced but veiled by his sophisticated "playboy" type of neo-adolescent philosophy. Marriages generally lose passion because people are terrified of the vulnerability it entails, so they kill it in subtle ways so that their mind parasites may live in undisturbed comfort, all the while fantasizing about finding the passion elsewhere. But they'll eventually kill the next person too. There are exceptions, of course, but when "the thrill is gone," it is usually murder, not suicide.
Referring again to the book we were discussing yesterday, Slaughter of the Innocents: Child Abuse Through the Ages and Today, Breiner devotes a chapter to the striking differences between the ancient Hebrews and some of their contemporaries with regard to the treatment of women and children. I have no doubt that the treatment of women and children is the leading edge of psychohistorical evolution, and that a culture can only develop as far as its treatment of women and children will allow.
To put it another way, the more evolved the culture, the more women and children will be valued (as women and children, I might add, thus excluding radical feminism as a philosophy that particularly values either). This variable, more than anything else, explains why the Muslim world is at the bottom of the evolutionary heap, and conversely, why the Jews have thrived everywhere they have landed, despite the most adverse circumstances. Just look at Israel, which is persecuted by virtually everyone except the U.S., vs. the Arab world, which is persecuted by no one except themselves -- and yet, fantasizes that Jews are controlling them and holding them back. Madness! But if you think madness is a deviation rather than the norm, I don't see how you can understand anything of history, which is absolutely littered with similarly insane mind parasites.
(The following is an edited version of some material that was posted seven or eight months ago. It will undoubtedly be new to many readers, so it is worth repeating in this context, as it will move the story of the Arc of Salvation along to its annointed deustination.)
It is almost impossible for us to imagine the barbarity of the ancient world -- very similar to how contemporary liberals find it impossible to comprehend the evil savagery of the Islamists with whom we are in a mortal struggle, so they instead fill the moral vacuum by fantasizing that George Bush or Dick Cheney are evil (for if your moral compass is so broken that you cannot recognize evil, you will hate something that is not evil, which is why the left is at war with so much that is good, i.e., the Boy Scouts, the ROTC, "traditional" marriage [which is to say, marriage], racial equality, school vouchers, mens' sports [because of Title IX], etc ).
As we mentioned yesterday, in all other ancient lands, the abuse of women and children, including infanticide, was common. Breiner notes, for example, that On, the King of the Swedes, sacrificed nine of his ten sons in the belief that it would prolong his life. Think about it. It was if the entire ancient world consisted of Palestinians who think that murdering children will lead to their own salvation.
Surely it is no coincidence, therefore, that the story of the Jews as a people begins with the motif of child sacrifice. The story of Abraham and Isaac allows us to assume that, up to that time, the ancient Hebrews were just as barbaric as any other ancient people. This biblical story preserves one of the truly shocking and unexpected “right turns” in human history -- when something caused us to empathize with the sacrificial victim and lay down the knife. Not that it wasn’t a struggle afterwards. The Bible chronicles many instances of backsliding and regression, which gives it even more of a ring of authenticity. The struggle against absuing children was (and is) very real.
But the benefits were obvious. For the first time in history, Jews were also able to intuit the one God. Not only that, but he was a loving God. Other primitive peoples lived in the psychological fragmentation of polytheism. In my opinion, they did not know God because they could not know God. Early childhood trauma leads to what is called “borderline personality structure,” in which the mind is subject to vertical splitting and the inability to maintain psychological unity and coherence. Therefore, primitive polytheism was actually an indirect measure of child abuse and the psychological fragmentation that occurs. Note as well that the gods of ancient Greece and Rome were arbitrary, selfish, and narcissistic, and even got a kick out of lording it over the “little” humans. They were suspiciously simlar to abusive and uncaring parents.
(Perhaps I should point out that this does not necessarily apply to Hindu polytheism, at least viewed from the metaphysical "top" rather than from the superstitious "bottom" -- just as the Trinity can be confused with polytheism. In any event, I will have more to say about the role of Vedanta later in the Arc of Salvation.)
Perhaps not surprisingly, the Hebrews began viewing themselves as having an intimate relationship with a benevolent God who took a deep and abiding interest in them, instead of having to live in fear of a multitude of arbitrary and self-absorbed gods.
Again, we are not comparing the ancient Hebrews to modern peoples but to their own contemporaries in the ancient world, and by that standard, they were moyels ahead of the package. Marriage began to be viewed as a sacred institution composed of two individuals who were in the image and likeness of God. “He who marries for money shall have worthless children,” says the Talmud.
Here again, this cannot be separated from psychological issues. One will not be capable of a stable and loving marriage so long as one lives with the psychological fragmentation produced by vertical splitting. It is no coincidence that the “one loving God” was discovered at roughly the same time that it became possible to conceive of a monogamous, loving, companionate marriage between two equals. (In yesterday's comments I linked to an article that is well worth reading, Judaism's Sexual Revolution: Why Judaism (and then Christianity) Rejected Homosexuality, as it makes many of the same points about the transformative impact of Jewish understanding in Phase One of the Arc of Salvation).
Breiner speculates that this prevailing attitude -- “to take care of and love one’s wife so that she will care for and love one's children” -- was “fundamental in determining why ancient child abuse and infanticide were rare among the ancient Hebrews.” The Talmud stated that those who practiced pederasty were subject to stoning. In ancient Greece, pedophiles were subject to being lionized as immortal philosophers.
One of the most striking differences was in the attitude toward female children, which is perhaps the most critical hinge of psychohistorical evolution. Unlike other ancient peoples, the Jews began cherishing and protecting female children. Many laws that we might now look upon as chauvinistic were very advanced and innovative for their day. They were meant to protect women and girls, not to degrade them.
(Interestingly, the woman who cuts my hair is an Iranian immigrant. Back when my wife and I were attempting to get pregnant, I mentioned that I was hoping for a girl. This woman -- who escaped right after the revolution, is thoroughly Americanized, and despises Islam -- spontaneously responded with a downturned mouth and words to the effect of "ewwwwww." She literally did not believe that I was telling the truth -- it was incomprehensible to her that I would prefer a girl. Interestingly, she has the identical reaction when I mention that race is of no consequence to me. In her tribal culture, just like the primitive left, racial color-blindness is inconceivable.)
The Talmud has many laws about the proper treatment of infants and children. “A baby should be as well looked after as a king, high priest and learned man.” Fathers were enjoined to educate their children under penalty of fines. Furthermore, the father was admonished not to envy his son or pupil, which is very wise, for envy of childhood innocence is one of the psychological bases of child abuse. While there were still laws “on the books” allowing for a rebellious child to be put to death, there is no record of that actually occurring. (In fact, being that I am hardly a Jewish scholar, it is possible that this was a figure of speech, a way to emphasize the importance of filial piety, of honoring one’s parents.)
Again, it is easy to be historo-centric and view ancient Hebrews as barbaric by our standards, but the punishment meted out in Hebrew courts of law was lenient and humane by the standards of the day. So too their treatment of slaves, of captured enemies, of the poor, the oppressed, the widow, the stranger. They were the first people to achieve nearly 100% literacy, a development which had staggering implications for the way children were raised. In other words, it makes a huge difference if you happen to be raised by a literate mother capable of abstract thought vs. an illiterate mother capable only of concrete thought. Think of the contemporary Muslim Middle East, where absence of female literacy -- let alone cliteracy -- continues to hover around 50%.
Tacitus, the renowned Roman historian who lived in the first century A.D., viewed the Hebrews as contemptible because “they considered it a crime among them to kill any child.” Nothing has changed. To paraphrase Golda Meir, the Arabs will only begin to make psychohistorical progress when they love their own children as much as they hate Jewish children. The two attitudes are simply two sides of the same coin: Palestinians and other Arabs engage in systematic abuse of their own children, who then grow up to externalize their implacable hatred onto Israelis.
In any event, I think we can see how the Jewish matrix -- which means "womb" -- was the only possible context for Phase II of the Arc of Salvation.
Speaking of human sacrifice and coonibalism, this hideous bit of information (tail wiggle: Julie) was found on Lileks' snuff site. Sick bastard:
"Raccoon ghoulish" is more like it. I know there's a first amendment and all, but isn't there a limit?