Ask Not for Whom the Trolls Yell
Another way of saying it is that the true path is straight and narrow. If we could imagine the Way as a line in space, arcing toward its nonlocal deustiny, then there is obviously a vast potential area for deviation. There is no way anyone makes it straight to the goal without deviations and mid-course corrections. But how does one know when one is actually making progress toward the goal?
I was reminded of this by our recent atheist trolls and the absurcular whirrledview they propagrate on the nerves, which is at turns stupid, monstrous or silly. Although we are always ridiculing them, hopefully it is in an instructive and good-natured way (despite their telling absence of humor). For example, the constitutionally impertinent Dupree made several surprisingly pertinent remarks yesterday, including the observation that "this is your brain on atheism." Thus, as it so happens, you can learn a great deal about God by listening to an atheist -- just as Dennis Prager learned a great deal about God by detouring through the academonic ivory tower of leftist babble.
I would even venture to say that we could learn a lot from someone as dense and unevolved as Herman, even though I let him know at the poutset that the bobverse was not true -- that there was literally nothing a man like him could learn about God from a man like me, at least in his present noncoonfiguration. That he confirmed this perception with over 100 comments (including the many comments that Dupree deleted because he felt they were so stupid as to lack even entertainment value) is in itself a powerful proof of the reality of coon scent.
Yes, in just his first few rudimentary grunts and gestures, this mothbreather to the One Cosmos flame was mysteriously able to provide a vivid clueprint of the dreary architecture of his soul -- or, shall we say, soullessness -- that let us know that we were dealing not just with a spiritual cipher, but someone who was -- for whatever reason -- resentful and hostile toward God. (Thus, the soullessness is entirely self-induced and, we pray, a temporary condition.)
Although I try to present these things in a lighthearted manner (i.e., "coon scent"), I am nevertheless talking about something real. There really is a "spiritual perfume" that is emitted by certain particularly lofty souls, just as there is a "soul stench" given off by others. In Herman's braincase, something tells me that we are also dealing with a closed head injury (er, figuratively), so it is unclear how much of his malevolence toward God is involumetary, if you cc what I mean.
That is, like a person who has been reduced to verbal "clanging," Herman kept repeating the same fragments of thought (fragments that in turn reveal a fractured existential state) to the effect that he would like for us to prove to him that God exists. Again, I knew that none of the kind advice that was offered to him would be of any benefit to him, since he lacked the underlying "qualifications," so to speak, for knowledge of God. In this regard, his story is a very old one, first recorded by Plato with his analogy of the cave. This analogy is so simple, and yet, it has never been surpassed, since it comes about as close to concrete and objective metaphysical truth as humans are capable of formulating.
Human beings live shackled in a cave that is illuminated by a light that comes from outside it. Thus, all they see is the play of shadows cast upon the wall, which they call "knowledge." One of the cave dwellers breaks free, turns around, and sees the actual source of light. He tries to tell the other cave-dwelling hermen about the light, but they don't want to hear it. Some think he's crazy, while others are outright hostile. And the rest is history -- or yesterday's thread.
Sri Aurobindo's simple formulation for seeing the light was aspiration-rejection-surrender, referring in a sense to the vertical, the horizontal, and the interior, respectively. That is, we aspire with heart, mind, and soul for that which surpasses us. At the same time, we reject the horizontal distractions and temptations that lure us down and out and cause us to deviate from our goal. And we humbly surrender, or empty ourselves before the object of our devotion.
I think you will see that Raccoons of whatever devotional stripe agree on the basics of this formulation, and it is one of the things that distinguishes us from the new-age sew-age. As I have mentioned before, for a number of years I tried to be a "do-it-yoursopher," as I was attracted to spirituality -- as indeed nearly all humans are - but biased against God, largely as a result of my postmodern brainwashing and souldirtying.
In ether worlds, I wanted to have the experience in the absence of its transcendent cause. Therefore, I was attracted to such approaches as Zen, since it seemed to be free of dogma -- and of God. Just sit, close your eyes, and wait for "liberation." Thus there was rejection and perhaps a little aspiration, but no true surrender, since there was no One to surrender to. I suppose you could say that you surrender to "it," but "it" doesn't come down and meet you halfway -- which is why you can sit for your whole life and probably not have the experience of moksha.
But for me, the key was surrender, for only in surrender does the grace even have a space to operate. And afterwards, it is the grace that does all of the work, not us. Or, to put it another way, our task is to do what we can to allow the grace to operate. We do not change or "grow" our spiritual selves, any more than we grow our own bodies. True, we can do certain things "at the margins" to make our bones stronger or our muscles bigger, but none of us could actually create a muscle or bone, much less the spiritual self which will grow under the proper circumstances. It is an organic or natural process -- albeit a supernaturally natural one.
I don't want to put words into his fingers, but in response to the Dense One, JWM essentially highlighted the truism that the only God that can be proven to exist is the God you are capable of experiencing (although again, it is the grace that makes the experience possible). Everything else is either speculation or dogma (the latter of which is a necessary but insufficient cause). As I pointed out in my worstselling book, all traditions recognize this spiritual truth in one way or another. Thus, in the words of Hieromonk Damascene, author of Christ the Eternal Tao, "the only way to get past religious words and concepts is to seek, without compromise and self-pity, the Reality behind them."
Or, in the words of another Orthodox monk, "without the experience and testimony of the saints about the reality of God, the Bible would be an empty letter." Similarly, Rabbi Abraham Heschel wrote that dogmas "can only point to the mysteries of God" and "mark a way, not an end.... Dogmas are obstacles unless they serve as humble signposts along the way." The greatest pagan mystic, Plotinus, wrote that language must be cautiously employed "only to give direction, to urge toward that vision beyond discourse, to point out the road to one desirous of seeing," while the Vedantin Nikhilananda wrote that "conclusions of the scriptures... must be experienced by the aspirant himself" or not at all. I could go on and on like Herman, only in reverse.
Which is a yoke, but one that is easy, not to mention funny-side up. That is, Herman's evident "circularity" is there for everyone to see. In fact, if my sniffer doesn't lie, he will no doubt be back today, telling us all about the little world of dancing shadows he sees as he circles the drain in an ever-tightening spiral. But I can only repeat that there is nothing a man like me can convey of God to a man like him. For one thing, a man like me can't even convey anything of God to a man like me. Rather, only God can do that. And for that to happen, I actually have to get mybob out of the way. In short, never do as I say, but do as I do. Only then will you -- or I, for that matter -- understand the mutter.