The Diamond Sutra with a Keg Halfway to OM
"I would say the Dalai Llama (sic) is higher up on the spiritual pecking order than Bob. I mean, c'mon -- Bob's very handy with words, does Yoga passably well, but still -- is he directly plugged into The Big OM like the Dalai? Unquestionably, no.
"There are certain others that are 'up there.' Byron Katie comes to mind, as does Eckart Tolle. Bob is a man on the ascent, but he is not yet playing in the majors.
"Bob will have to give Petey a larger speaking role if Bob is to make his bones as a mystic. The whole liguisto-philosophico-politco thing that Bob's into will never a mystic's reputation make."
My initial response was,
"It's called humor -- that was a joke about the Dalai Lama. He is obviously a sweet man.
"Having said that, it would have been a much more serious joke if this country had been founded by Tibetan Buddhists instead of Judeo-Christians. There are spiritual principles that work in one's head -- 'the big OM,' if that's what you call it -- and those that actually change the world for the better. If you want to speak of a spiritual pecking order, then give me James Madison over the Dalai Lama any day. One revolutionized (and helped save, but only repeatedly) the world, while the other can't even help Richard Gere think coherently. (I know, I know, you should have heard him before. Good point.)
"The other DL is harmless so long as people don't put his principles into practice on a widespread scale. There is nothing noble, moral, or praiseworthy about pacifism, for it simply rolls out the red carpet for the wicked to annihilate the decent."
Now, to flesh out my response: first of all, I do not dismiss all of what the troll says out of hand. True, some of it is silly -- even bearing the unmistakable marks of idiocy -- but other aspects are worthy of a serious response. In this regard, I do recognize a glaring weakness in myself, which is that I do tend to forget that I used to believe virtually all of the stupid ideas that I now dismiss. In short, I have no hesitation in acknowledging that I was once an idiot with a lot of idiotic political and spiritual notions, but how best to help the current idiots is the question.
In this regard, intelligence is no defense whatsoever, so never assume -- as many trolls seem to do -- that my arguments are ever based on some version of "I'm smarter or more clever than you," much less that I am supposedly "handy with words." Our leftist looniversity bins are protected habitats for the "intelligent stupid" among us. If anything, intelligence and verbal facility will cause one to stray down a literally infinite number of false paths, since they easily engender pride and arrogance.
I say "infinite," because, paradoxically, the false path is many-branched while the true path is One -- even though the One path is infinitely diverse in its particulars. History demonstrates with great force that intelligence is no barrier to stupidity, and that more often than not it is simply the glossy surface of a bad or evil idea. This is why it is so stupid to suggest that President Bush is "stupid." First of all, he obviously isn't, but the only relevant issue is whether he is correct. How stupid to think otherwise.
What I am saying is that I am no more intelligent today than I was fifteen or twenty years ago, but that only now can I say that I know how to think properly. And although I am now generally able to think properly, it is still an evolving process. For example, in the last week I have had the unenviable task of rereading my book in search of typos and small errors. It is a jarring experience, because parts of the book no longer reflect who I have become in the interim, and if you think I'm hard on trolls, you should hear how I treat my past intelligent but stupidself. I don't even want to get into it.
A number of trolls have criticized what they perceive as a lack of compassion on my part, or maybe even whole. I am not going to try to justify myself, but will only say that some people are allegedly helped by what I write, others not. If I try to tailor the message to those who are not helped, then I will no longer be helpful to those who are helped, so it is a catch 22. Put it this way: I am only writing for those whom I am able to help (including, hopefully, myself), and no one can help everyone. I am not nearly that grandiose, and just grateful that a few people are helped, even "changed." That's all I need and much more than I ever expected.
This is even -- or I should say, especially -- true of psychotherapy. There are many different psychological theories, but ultimately what is most important -- assuming a certain level of competence -- is the relationship with the therapist, the chemistry, the rapport. And I would add that you want your therapist to be higher than you on the "pecking order," however you conceptualize it.
For what is the alternative? Trying to be helped by someone who is unable to even help himself, who has never mastered his own mind, who has not evolved to a developmentally higher level, who doesn't know how to live properly or have rewarding relationships, who hasn't reconciled life's many inherent polarities and conflicts, who blames the external world for his failures, in the manner of a leftist victocrat? You don't just want someone who knows more than you do, but someone who is more than you are. At least I did.
But in our flatland world of postmodern nihilism, it is arrogant and probably racist to say that one person or culture is higher or more evolved than another. I have never given a moment's thought to those who may or may not be "below" me on someone's cosmic scale, because I am too busy looking up to those who are above me. Truly, the flatlanders are the arrogant ones, for if there is no God, they are ipso facto gods, and samskary ones at that. In fact, I would be greatly distressed to learn that I represented the highest point in the universe. Thankfully, this is incoonceivable to me, and I am grateful every day that there are fixed stars in whose light I am able to navigate my life.
Now, as I said, I was once an idiot, so I feel well qualified to critique idiots who believe the idiotic things I once did. But I've thought about this, and there is no way to do it in the gentle and maternal way that these wimps demand. In fact, this feminized orientation to Truth is a symptom of the problem. In my case, the people who helped me most were fierce and uncompromising advocates of the Truth. They did not water down their message for my benefit, but simply put it out there for people to pick up or reject as they wish. There are people I now revere whom I once detested, in exactly the manner that people detest me.
(And trust me, they do -- I had a particularly vivid instance of it in an email correspondence this weekend, most illustrative of how the leftist mind works -- more later. Suffice it so say that we dispassionately regard them as ignorant and therefore misguided, while they passionately regard us as a priori evil and therefore everything which naturally follows from that, ultimately the dehumanization which is a prelude to violence, verbal or otherwise.)
At the same time, I am grateful that my nonlocal higher-ups, had they known about it, would have dismissed my girlish emotionality with the wave of a hand and said, "come back when you can handle the truth. And don't hurry." No compromise. And certainly no anger or resentment, much less a need for disciples or followers. St. Paul was an demanding jerk, which I say with the greatest admiration.
Here is how Sri Aurobindo handled it: "I do not readily accept disciples, as this path of Yoga is a difficult one and can be followed only if there is a special call." In another letter he balked at the notion of trying to create some kind of mass movement, because "for serious work it is a poison.... a movement in the case of a work like mine means the founding of a school or a sect or some other damned nonsense. It means that hundreds or thousands of useless people join in and corrupt the work or reduce it to a pompous farce from which the Truth that was coming down recedes into secrecy and silence."
Useless people?! That hurt my self esteem! Nobody's useless, except conservatives! We're all perfect, just as we are!
And Schuon probably made more bobnoxious statements than even Jesus or Petey: “Contemporary man, in spite of his being marked by certain experiences due to the senescence of humanity, is spiritually soft and ineffective and intellectually ready to commit every possible betrayal, which will seem to him as summits of intelligence.... In a general way, the man of the ‘last days’ is a blunted creature, and the best proof of this is that the only ‘dynamism’ of which he is still capable is that which tends downwards, and which is no more than a passivity taking advantage of cosmic gravity; it is the agitation of a man who lets himself be carried away by a torrent and who imagines that he is creating this torrent himself by his agitation.”
What a mean thing to say! I'm telling my lama!
Needless to say, you do not want a teacher who needs students, any more than you want a therapist who needs patients. One of the worst vibes you can send to a child is that you need them in the way they need you. The child needs to orient himself around someone who is not like him. Whatever his limitations, my father was at least a rock -- and the spiritual, which is to say, vertical, head of the house, which is far, far preferable to so many modern fathers who try to be on the same level as their children. The one doesn't exclude the other, but in a way it does, because a man can never truly unknow what he knows, assuming he knows anything useful.
"Bob is a man on the ascent, but he is not yet playing in the majors." Although I understand what the writer means by this, it is nevertheless a meaningless statement to me. My only concern is that I am actually playing baseball and not, say, soccer. I hope and pray that there are people who play better than I do, just as I assume there are people who play worse. Again, I don't give much thought to the latter, because there is a league for everyone -- little league, pony league, colt league, American Legion -- and you will rise from league to league in the natural course of events.
I personally made it up to colt league, but met my match the first time I batted against an American Legion pitcher. First of all, he looked very serious, therefore a bit intimidating. The pitch sailed at my head, but as I sat sprawled in the dirt a skipped hearbeat later, I learned from the umpire that the pitch had been a strike. In other words, the pitch started at the blessed Gagdad dome, but then darted over the plate -- from midnight to six, inside corner. This was the first time I learned that a curveball can be thrown with such demonic spin that you can actually hear it -- sort of like a mosquito buzzing around your ear. At least I thought I heard it. Maybe it was just the blood rising to my head.
That was the end of the line for me. However, I bided my time, nourishing a secret hope that I would one day return to the field, exact my vengeance, and triumph over these bullies. I didn't play any baseball, but I did stay in shape, waiting for the day I turned 40, in order to join one of those "over 40" leagues. You know, bunch of out of shape old geezers. Yes, the Gagdad frame is slender, but trust me, like Barney Fife, it is all muscle, my friends. Or at least gristle. Long story short, it was even worse. Why? Because these guys were just like me, waiting for the day that they could be the big fish, albeit in a smaller pond, and exercise the old libido dominandi.
So, what is my point? Have I gotten sidetracked again?
I suppose it is this: if you don't like my pitching, find another league. It is a natural reaction to think that the pitcher must be angry to knock you off the plate, but it's just business. There are no hard feelings involved at all. And in fact, he's doing you a favor, for evolution is a function of adversity. You won't get better if he comes down to your level.
And if you prefer the big fat slow-pitch softballs of the Dalai Lama, go for it. I have nothing against softball. Coons play it all the time, except in our case, we keep a keg at second base in order to at least make it a challenge.