Repent, For the Center is at Hand! (12.13.10)
I don't mean to get upsidetracked, but lately I've been having dreams that comment on the previous day's post, also known as "narcissism squared." Last night I think I had a dream with specific reference to the statement above. Dick Cheney strolled into my dining room, and I posed a question to him about the difference between serious thinkers and mere intellectuals. It so happened that Newt Gingrich was in the neighborhood going door to door, canvassing for votes. I put it to the vice president that Gingrich -- correct though his ideas might be -- would never be president because he was too intellectual -- that while obviously intelligent, his mind flittered about the axis of ideas, and that ideas were too flimsy a foundation for one's existence.
In the dream, Cheney clearly represented the opposite -- one could feel his ontological presence radiating from the center out -- a substantial "weight" or gravity, as it were (remember when he made the ontologically anorexic Ms. Edwards disappear in their debate?). I don't remember the exact dialogue, but I mentioned to him that it took me a long time to acquire anything like this kind of center myself.
Most intellectuals are more or less "weightless," in part because their ideas are rooted in nothing more solid than their own airy abstractions. Genuine human maturity occurs when our minds become anchored in the Real, which is to say God, however you wish to conceptualize it. In fact, since so many modern intellectuals are uncomfortable with "God," this is one of the reasons I chose to employ the abstract symbol O to stand for the ultimate ground of our being, a ground which may (only) be known subjectively. The bottom line of my dream was that unless one's mind abides in O, one cannot ultimately "think straight" about reality, much less be a true leader of men (who will spontaneously follow such a man).
Irrespective of one's theology, one can scarcely imagine Jesus "thinking" or speaking outside O. This is why pseudo-theologians who claim that Jesus was just another teacher are so wildly off base. In everything Jesus says and does, regardless of the specific content, the even deeper message is the "ontological weight" he radiates from the center out. Indeed, this is the first thing that people notice about him, both followers and detractors. Just as in the physical world, gravity is a function of mass, and the mass of Jesus' extraordinarily compacted center draws people (and trouble) to him like you & meteoroids to the atmasphere.
For example, even as an infant, that nice Jewish family, the Weismans from east Brooklyn, are drawn into his orbit. As for the trouble, Herod too senses the presence of an alternate center of power, and schemes to literally murder it in the crib before it can grow. John the Baptist also immediately recognizes the center -- which stands as a general lesson for all of us. We must all learn how to recognize this center when we are in its presence, at great peril to our spiritual development. Although all human beings are born with this native ability, for any number of developmental reasons we can lose contact with it.
The center can only communicate "center to center," so to the extent that you have lost or failed to develop yours, it will be a case of "God's lights are on but nobody's om." You absolutely must coontivate this center in order to sense the "real presence" (or presence of the Real), otherwise you will remain exiled in the teenage wasteland of mere ideas -- which is really not all that more solid and enduring than the world of fleeting desires or impulses. It goes without naying that the overwhelming majority of ideas do not -- and certainly should not -- survive the birdbrain that hatched them. It would have been better if most ideas had not been conceived at all. They'll eventually be aborted anyway.
So John the Baptist immediately recognizes the center (Matt 4:14). Note as well that even God himself is then drawn to this center, another profound lesson to meditate upon: And suddenly a voice came from heaven saying 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased' (Matt 4:17). But before you get all excited, note that the very next sentence once again indicates that hostile cosmic forces are simultaneously drawn to the scene (Matt 4:1). Jesus spends the subsequent forty days in the bewilderness, where he is tempted by the devil -- whom you might say is the periphery, or "dispersal," personified.
Now, what can this possibly mean except that there is a hostile, countervailing force that attempts to draw the center outside of itself -- which indeed is the quintessence of all temptation and of all sin, which involves a vain dispersal of our psychic substance? With no center of gravity or groove of centerity, we have no way to "repel" the worldly forces that perpetually draw us down and out of ourselves. We "fall" when there is nothing there to hold us fast to the center. Conversely, if we abide in the center, temptations fall away of their own accord. Another way of saying this is that our "force" becomes stronger than the world's force.
After Jesus successfully repels the temptations of ø by abiding in O, behold, angels came and ministered to Him (Matt 4:11). In other words, benign vertical forces are drawn in -- which only happens all the time -- good morning, Petey! After that come the first two disciples, who clearly sense the ontological weight of the center, to such an extent that they immediately drop what they're doing and follow him (Matt 4:20) -- although pulled is probably more like it. And then a multitude is drawn in (Matt 4:23). And so on. Today, the center continues to pull history in its wake.
Eventually Jesus draws everyone and everything in, but that's a story for another post. Suffice it to say that the I AM of the cosmic center is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last (Rev 22:13), blissfully floating before the fleeting flickering universe, stork naked in brahma daynight, worshiping in oneder in a weecosmic womb with a pew...
Now, my non-Christian readers are no doubt being gradually turned off by much of this, but if so, you need to pay closer attention to the universal principles and lessons that are being conveyed to us through scripture. Indeed, you might even be in a better position to understand certain vital Christian truths than many Christians who have been taken out by what they have taken in. Sadly, so much Christian truth has been warped and twisted by its human resaptacles, that it is easy to dismiss or overlook its profundity. With prominent mirror-idiots spanning from christianist Pat Robertson to christianista Andrew Sullivan, it is not surprising that so few intellectuals take religion seriously. In fact, this is why they become intellectuals in the first place, worshipping at the altar-ego of their own flimsy creations.
And as we were pointing out yesterday, it is hardly as if Jesus represents the only ontological center, even if you happen to believe for reasons of faith that he is the ultimate center, or the trans-cosmic "center made flesh," so to speak. For your being -- yes, yours -- will undergo a decided shift once you are able to recognize this center in anyone or in anything.
If, for example, you can distinguish between, say, Frithjof Schuon and Albert Einstein; or James Madison and Noam Chomsky; or Adam Smith and Paul Krugman; or Abraham Heschel and Michael Lerner; or Sri Aurobindo and Deepak Chopra; these names were chosen off the top of my head, but the list is endless, at least in terms of what one can assimilate in a single lifetome. If you can sense the real presence radiating from the words and deeds -- even the very "being" -- of an earthly representative of the center, you will begin to change.
If you can yield to a spontaneous reverence for, and devotion and submission to, such luminous souls, you may be able to begin ridding yourself of what you are full of -- which is to say, a compacted area of dispersed fragments, a faux unity with no true order, held together from the outside in (or top down) rather than the inside out.
The existence of God does not have to be proven to the man who knows this center, either in himself or in another, any more than the existence of sight needs to be proven to one who sees. For our innate sense of the sacred -- which is a ponderable reflection of this center within us -- is simply adequation to the Real. This ultimate reality radiates from the cosmic center and reaches us in the depths of our center, which is to say, the heart, which represents the higher union of thought and emotion. This is the mystery of God's immanence, "which makes us capable of knowing all that is knowable, and which for that very reason makes us immortal" (Schuon).
But first you must learn how to be an unknow-it-all, which is the stumbling block -- or bumbling schlock -- of the preening intellectual. For He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30).
If One Cosmos can serve as a distantly "reflected center" to help anyone begin to intuit the Cosmic One, then I suppose the reason for our existence will have been fulfilled.
(hatched from the truly fertile egghead & heart of Dilys and Fishy Art)