The Hisspered Premises and Sweet Nothings of the Snake on the Cosmic Floor
There must be as many stories of what attracts one to the snake as there are people. To answer the question, all you must do is look within and remember those times when you felt the hypnotic or intoxicating lure of the Dark One (who can never actually be "one," for he is intrinsically an outward and "dissipating" force).
I mentioned yesterday -- and several commenters confirmed it -- that when you are in the presence of a snake (not as in a zoo, but when the snake erupts into your world unexpectedly), it is an other-worldly experience. And when I say "other-worldly," I mean this literally, for there are different worlds that represent differing forms of our sensibility. There is no world outside this sensibility -- which should not be taken to mean that we create the world, or that the world is not an objective place. Nevertheless, I think you will agree that, for example, if you have ever been depressed, the world becomes an entirely different place. As I mentioned the other day, the only world we can experience is an experienced world, and experience takes place in the fluid and dynamic transitional space between world and nervous system.
This is why it is impossible to imagine what the world is actually like for another animal, such as a woman (that is a compliment, by the way). Colonel Beaglehole once told me that Alan Watts mentioned to him that when we see a fox chasing a rabbit, we imagine that the rabbit is "frightened." But from the rabbit's point of view, he may be no more frightened than we are when we see a flashing red danger sign in a crosswalk. For the rabbit, the experience may be more like, whatever. After all, pedestrians usually don't get hit by cars, and the rabbit usually gets away. But Alan Watts never sobered up, so what must it have been like to be him?
Try to imagine what it would be like if your olfactory system were your dominant sense, as in most dogs. When we took the late Savannah for a walk, she would naturally sniff every tree, every blade of grass, looking for relevant information. Dogs can detect something like one part of urine in 1,000 parts of water. We would say that Savannah was just "reading her pee-mail." She didn't so much see the world as smell the world. As such, after the rain, it would be as if her entire world had been washed away -- just a complete blank. (More generally, what does God smell like? For Savannah, I suppose he smelled like me -- The Man With All the Treats.)
Now, it goes without saying, except that it doesn't, that human beings are armed with a sensory apparatus that give us access to invisible worlds -- worlds beyond the five exterior senses. Indeed, this is what makes us human, for reduced to our senses, the human world absolutely disappears and we are once again animals. The senses "sponsor" a human world, so to speak, but they do not create it. There is no knowledge at the level of the senses. This in itself is an important clue into the ontology of evil, for the Evil One wants us to believe that "reality" is at the sensory, which is to say, self-sufficient material level.
Remember, the world is a form of our sensibility; therefore, the materialist would like for you to believe that the material world is the "real world." But what he is really arguing -- in an incoherent and logically self-refuting manner, I might add -- is that the senses disclose ultimate reality, that the objects disclosed by human touch or sight exist independently of touch or sight. But sight cannot tell you what you are seeing. For that, you require a human knower. Matter does not shout out "I am matter, and that's all there is, folks!," except to bad philosophers who hallucinate, or bad hallucinators who philosophize.
For example, animals cannot hear music. Or let us say, they can only hear it. But a human being can "hold" the musical object -- for example, a symphony -- and hear it reveal its harmonic depth and melodic wholeness unfolding in time. Who is more in touch with musical reality, the materialist dog or the idealist human? Where is this musical object? Is it embodied in the score? Can we look at it and have the same musical experience? And does the musical experience reveal aesthetic truth?
I don't want to get ahead of ourselves, but to extend the analogy: which view reflects more adequate contact with reality, Sam Harris' feeble letter to a Christian nation, or the Bible's timeless letters to the feeble atheist? Forget about God, for the moment. Which book contains wisdom, wisdom embodying the art of human living? Is there such a thing as wisdom, or is there only empirical knowledge, the data of the senses? And if the latter, is that very wise? Of course not. It's very stupid, to say the least. But only humans can be stupid, for the "stupid world" is obviously one of the worlds accessible to humans.
What a human being possesses first and foremost is a means of accessing the interior of the cosmos. For example, we are able to "read" faces in such a way that we are literally able to enter the psychic world of another. And I use the word "literally" advisedly, because either we can or we cannot do this. And unless we are severely autistic or suffering from organic brain damage, we can. As it so happens, this access to interiors is everything for humans, because it is -- again, literally -- the hole in creation through which divine energies flow, where degrees of truth, beauty and decency reveal themselves, and where love abides.
In short, human beings are equipped with a sensory appartus that reveals higher worlds. This is something that has always been known until quite recently, and it is something you probably already know unless you are highly educated in acquired ignorance, like Dr. Qi and so many other untellectual banalators of his illk.
Now, in a certain sense, a religious practice is no different than, say, a workout regimen. You work out to keep your muscles strong, to maintain flexibility, to promote cardiovascular fitness, and to look good naked. Likewise, as I have said before, you practice a religion in order to deepen your relationship to what I call O, by honing your ability to intuit it and ultimately conform and live your life in its light. In other words, you do not first decide whether or not you think God exists, because you can't figure that out with the mind anyway. Rather, you practice a religion because it is the time-tested way to deepen your understanding of the divine reality, and for your soul to look good naked, without all the alibis, rationalizations, and other intellectual fog leaves.
For this reason, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and other obligatory atheists are like tone deaf people who have determined that music does not exist, and who wish to impose their dopey new testavus on the rest of us. Truly, they remind me of "deafness advocates" who are against the cochlear implant, or of academically correctivists who think that all cultures are equally valuable and beautiful, no matter how barbaric and out of touch with reality. Since transcendent truth does not exist, then degrees of reality cannot exist. Rather, there is only the blunt instrument of bovine materialism. In fact, when I think of these atheistic medullards, I imagine not a human head, but a closed fist at the end of a neck.
Now, back to the snake and what he represents. Because humans are human, we can sense both good and evil. Because good "descends" from above, we have access to it and and can sense its contours and dimensions -- its ontological weight. This is why we can cry at certain acts of goodness, for the tears signify that we have touched the divine plane.
I will not get into the disordered state of the soul of such an individual, but let us just say that you have to have a very malevolent agenda -- even if you do not realize it -- to teach young people that the realm of the Good does not exist, or that it is just arbitrary or relative, a human creation. Frankly, you need a millstone hung around your tenured neck, but we won't go there for now.
The agenda of the snake is to sybilistically suggessssst that this anterior world of the good does not really exissssst. Rather, we create it. As such, it is but a small leap to the thoroughly unrealistic but intoxicating conclusion that I am not creature but created, a "bright and gory sun god cast upon an alien shore," as I think Henry Miller put it. Evil is that which, in the words of Schuon, "thwarts a maximum of souls as regards their final end." And who are the great soul-thwarters of the day?
There is Principle and there is its Manifestation. In order for there to be a manifestation separate from God, it cannot be coequal with the perfections of God, but must in some sense represent a privation. Here again, this is something all human recognize. We all intuit that "something's missing" that would make us complete, but the snake reverses figure and ground and suggests that the lacuna, so to speak, is the reality. It is somewhat analogous to the way our eyes work. In the field of vision of each eye, there is a "hole" where the optic nerve connects to the eye. The Evil One turns this upside down, and suggests that the inevitable hole in our vision -- the ignorance, so to speak -- is the reality, when it is simply a partial consequence of being embodied.
As Schuon writes, "the cosmogonic ray" -- the mystery of the “overflowing source of the cosmogonic trajectory" -- by "plunging into 'nothingness,'" ends by manifesting "the possibility of the impossible." In other words, "the 'absurd' cannot but be produced somewhere in the economy of the divine Possibility, otherwise the Infinite would not be the Infinite. But strictly speaking, evil or the devil cannot oppose the Divinity, who has no opposite; it opposes man who is the mirror of God and the movement towards the divine."
This is a nuanced view, so let's consider it a bit more carefully, for it explains how evil can exist in a universe created by the Sovereign Good. It is not so much that evil is determined, but it is more or less "inevitable" (or ineveateapple) due to the conditions of existence. It makes no sense to say that evil is “willed by God”; rather, it is more like willing weather, which will inevitably bring occasional hurricanes and tornadoes. Therefore, even if God "cannot eliminate evil as a possibility" on pain of no longer being the infinite God, God would also no longer be God if his divine nature were not opposed to it. And since we are "the mirror and image," we can see how we must be resigned to evil and error in the world, but never accept it. Rather, we must fight against it.
But the cosmogonic winds blow in all directions, up and down, forward and back, and some people obviously like to get their kicks on route 666 -- which is often paved with good intentions. In this regard, Schuon makes another subtle point, that evil, "by its very nature, tends to communicate itself... but it has this tendency precisely because it is opposed to the radiation of the good and thus cannot help imitating the latter in some fashion. For evil is by definition both opposition and imitation: within the framework of opposition it is ontologically forced to imitate; 'the more they curse God the more they praise Him,' said Meister Eckhart. Evil, insofar as it exists, participates in the good represented by existence." Evil "cannot be absolute," but "always depends upon some good which it misuses or perverts."
Therefore, we have faith that the Good must eventually triumph in the end. However, the Raccoon principle of "March Forth Madness" assures that there will be penalties for having picked and wagered on the wrong bracket in the course of one's life.
Thus, it seems to me that the most dangerous and deceptive form of evil is this grandiose and intoxicating imitation good, or ape of God. Can we just stipulate that this represents the ontological essence of "psycho-spiritual leftism" in all its diverse forms, or must I ssspell it out in another possst?
I dreamed that in myself the world I saw,
Wherein three Angels strove for mastery. Law
Was one, clear vision and denial cold,
Yet in her limits strong, presumptuous, bold;
The second with enthusiasm bright,
Flame in her heart but round her brows the night,
Faded as this advanced. She could not bear
That searching gaze, nor the strong chilling air
These thoughts created, nourishing our parts
Of mind, but petrifying human hearts.
Science was one, the other gave her name,
Religion. But a third behind them came,
Veiled, vague, remote, and had as yet no right
Upon the world, but lived in her own light.... --Sri Aurobindo, A Vision of Science