On Having vs. Doing Religion
It has to do with the spiritual education of Future Leader, who will be a two year old in about a week. No, I don't mean he's going to become a Democrat -- I mean it literally. But I don't want him to stay a Democrat, I mean two year-old, which is why he needs a needs a solid spiritual foundation.
The problem is, there are so many options, none of which is ideal and each of which will represent a compromise of one sort or another. I suppose that each of us has the idea of the "perfect religion" in our head, but things are obviously quite different on the ground -- the intransigent extra-head environment -- the reason being that religions tend to be practiced by human beings, and we know all about them. Crooked timber, and all that.
This topic actually does converge with the subject of our recent posts, because at the heart of this matter is the question of language and its relation to the Divine.
Obviously, there is no idea so kooky that it hasn't been maintained by one philosopher or another. In this regard, the linguistic philosophers were correct in insisting that language is riddled with so many unexamined traps that its unreflective use is problematic. But not fatally so. For example, they employed language to inform us of this truth, and we do get the point. You can stop annyoing us now.
The reason why linguistic philosophy has now been discarded except among certain professional philosophers is that it is a spiritual and intellectual dead end, another case of an abuse of language invented for that purpose. It became very adept at aggressively tearing down texts -- at catty catabolism of dingy dogma, so to speak -- but was incapable of building anything to replace these torn and tattered texts by its own lights.
You probably all know someone like this -- a radical skeptic or "devil's advocate" who can critique but not create. They are prone to a kind of omnipotently aggressive "anti-knowing," which is not even on the level of "minus k," which involves positive but partial or erroneous knowledge, so at least the person is trying to build something. But the cynical anti-knower is like a surgeon who can make beautiful incisions with an unwavering hand and spot tumors with a searching eye, but not stitch you back up or restore you to health.
Several of you immediately noticed with your cOOn vision that this is the sadly circular mental mode of our recent troll -- who really is sad, the manic superimposition of the unholy psychological trinity of arrogance, contempt, and triumph notwithstanding. His mind can focus on some narrow point at the cost of underlooking the overall vision. This is how an inferior mind may be made to look superior in his own eyes. It is something that anyone can do with a little education and a lot of envy.
Is this not how inferior contemporary minds presume themselves superior to great religious minds of the past -- as if these were not serious and gifted men who are worthy of our respect and veneration? The other day, the same coarse-minded troll dismissed one of the greatest souls who ever drew breath as "antiquarian."
But this is precisely where philosophy went off track in the 20th century. To study philosophy is to immerse oneself in the inner life of a great soul grappling with issues of ultimate concern. Naturally they do so with the linguistic tools and concepts available to them at the time, but this does not make the genius using the tools any less of a genius. You must intuit the capacious spirit behind the language, not get lost in the words.
This is why a Plato, an Augustine, or a Schopenhauer will always be relevant to us, but the linguistic analysts of the mid-to-late 20th century will go the way of the logical positivists. Yes, the latter may have succeeded in their quest to unify knowledge with great restrictive clarity, but at the cost of eliminating the 90% of what humans know but cannot prove with the narrow methods of science. Who can claim to be a philo-sopher and exclude the ardent love of wisdom a priori? For what is love? What is wisdom? The inferior mind can make mincemeat of these fuzzy words, just as it can dismiss God, or the sacred, or marriage, or St. Augustine, with the wave of a hand.
In short, there are philosophies and philosophers who feed the soul, which means, ipso facto, that we have one, irrespective of the word you use for it. But feeding is not something you can do once and be done with. Yesterday I mentioned that both psychoanalysis and Christianity take seriously the idea that our minds are embodied. One thing Bion added to the Freudian stream is that human beings are inherently epistemophilic, meaning that we come into the world seeking and loving truth. Ah, but what is truth, asks the skeptic guided only by his pilate light -- thus turning the solution into a problem, like a cognitive auto-immune disease that aggressively kills the host it is there to defend.
Bion's view actually calls for a dramatically revised metapsychology, since Freud was a scientific reductionist who maintained that our minds are essentially the illusion-prone epiphenomena of an animal seeking to discharge instinctual tension.
But how can it have escaped anyone's notice that Freud was a passionate truth seeker and that if his ideas were true, then they were false by dint of his own assumptions? In other words, if our mental life really represents nothing more than the compromises and self-deceptions required to make animal instincts compatible with civilization, there is no reason to believe any truth at all, much less Freud's. We are all instinct-bound animals, so we might as well stop flattering ourselves and party like it's 9-10.
Many psychologists took up this thread in the 1960s, and this attitude still prevails in much of what passes for psychology today. As Dr. Sanity noted the other day, it is how we end up promoting all the leftist ideals of self-esteem instead of self control, feeling over thinking, wanting over deserving, and entitling over earning.
Our minds are designed to metabolize reality so that mental growth may take place. And although this is obvious, it is equally obvious that if one were so inclined, one could take a linguistic jackhammer to this statement and show it to be false. Like Future Leader -- who is again, two years old, so it is age-appropriate -- these one-dimensional unthinkers can deconstruct anything but can construct nothing, for if they do venture to construct something, their own spiritual I AM-mune system would reduce it to feathers. Thus, as I said the other day -- and this is not a "false dichotomy" but self-evident -- either the mind is truth, or it is nothing.
As Schuon has written, unlike any mere animal, the human being is composed of intellect, will, and sentiment -- or of truth, virtue, and liberty. Could a statement be more lucid and accurate? No, it could not. It is not possible to use words in such a way that they can be more accurate than this, for the words are not the reality, only signposts of a reality that must be experienced.
Now, what if I make an equally clear statement about reality -- oh, I don't know... how about this:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
I and I assume most Coons do not experience this as vague or abstract, but a luminously clear statement describing a reality we know to be true.
But this is not just a matter of creed or faith, of simply believing the unbelievable because we are enjoined to by our religion. And believe it or not, this does get back to the issue I mentioned at the top -- for I could also take the first line from, say, the Isha Upanishad, and it is equally metaphysically clear and on point:
In the heart of all things, of whatever there is in the universe, dwells the Lord. He alone is the reality. Wherefore, renouncing vain appearances, rejoice in him.
Or the opening line of the Mundaka Upanishad, equally obvious and clear and easily trancelighted into your own tradition:
Out of the infinite ocean of existence arose Brahma, first-born and foremost among the gods. From him sprang the universe, and he became its protector.
Or how about the Yoga Sutras, by Patanjali? Who but a deconsructionist with too much time and tenure on his hands could argue with the following: The right kinds of knowledge are direct perception, inference, and scriptural testimony. Wrong knowledge is knowledge which is false and not based upon the true nature of its object. Verbal delusion arises when words do not correspond to reality.
Or the opening paragraph from Sri Aurobindo's philosophical magnum opus, the Life Divine:
"The earliest preoccupation of man in his awakened thoughts and, as it seems, his inevitable and ultimate preoccupation -- for it survives the longest periods of skepticism and returns after every banishment -- is also the highest which his thought can envisage. It manifests itself in the divination of the Godhead, the impulse towards perfection, the search after pure Truth and unmixed Bliss, the sense of a secret immortality. The ancient dawns of human knowledge have left us their witness to this constant aspiration; today we see a humanity satiated but not satisfied by victorious analysis of the externalities of Nature preparing to return to its primeval longings. The earliest formula of Wisdom promises to be its last -- God, Light, Freedom, Immortality."
Ah, the Coon battle cry!
I could go on, but I think I get my point. Whatever it is.
Here is the nub of the gist of the heart of the issue, which I will have to expand upon tomorrow. It is easy to misunderstand what I am about to say, so I'll just say it and then apologize later: at a certain point a few years back, it seems as if I stopped "having" religion and instead began "doing religion."
Now, as I said, this is very easy to misunderstand, so let me make it clear: this does not in any way mean to say that I invented a religion, much less that there is something in what I say that should be taken to mean that the "doing" obviates the "having" or the "following," in that I will always bow before my spiritual superiors, in whose light I live and whom I cannot imagine surpassing.
It is very much analogous to studying psychology in graduate school. There too I was a follower, but at some point along the way, something "clicked" -- or perhaps "cracked," allowing for the troll point of view -- and I began "doing psychology" rather than following it. There are certain names that will always be important touchstones, but nevertheless, I "go my own way" and am part of no school.
However, at the same time, I am not "eclectic," much less a cafeteria-style new-ageist picking from this or that plattertude to create my own self-styled heresy. How to explain? Don't leap to any coonclusions just yet. To be continued.
Nice little primer on deconstruction and postmodernsim at American Thinker, showing how drearily satanic they truly are. Here's the conclusion:
"It seems, then, that the ultimate goal of deconstruction -- and postmodernism and poststructuralism -- is to undermine the foundation of the West, and one of the foundation stones of the West (and increasingly in other nations), the Bible....
"Deconstruction is giving birth, but to what? In a slow way, one drop at a time on the forehead, postmodernists are destroying the very West that gives these same hyper-radicals and hyper-skeptics the freedom, prosperity, and leisure time to use their weapons against Western foundations."