Is This All There Is?
A commenter yesterday mentioned that he couldn't wait to find out when, where, how and why I was denied tenure, but I was a clinical psychologist, not a research psychologist, so a university job was pretty much out of the question. I could have tried to get a job teaching at a professional school, but as I said, I didn't really have much interest in being a psychologist to begin with, let alone giving the same tired lecture year in, year out.
I was always bothered by this sense of "something more." I guess you could call it a sort of restless passion for eternity with ecstatic tendencies. Ever since I was I child, I could easily be taken "outside of myself," which is the literal meaning of ec-stasy. Isn't everyone like this? I don't know. They certainly don't seem to be. Or if they are, they tend to be on the sociopathic end of the continuum, with poor boundaries and a lot of undisciplined acting out. In my case, I suppose it was more like "acting in."
I was obviously already embarked on a kind of intense interior adventure, but it was starting to seem increasingly idiosyncratic, since I couldn't really find anyone else who shared my passions. Maybe it was time to just grow up and get over it.
As I mentioned yesterday, my wife's grandmother died in 1994, and we attended the funeral in New York. Afterwards there was a reception at the house, which is where I ran into the conservative Jewish mystic I mentioned yesterday. David must have been about ten years older than I. I don't even remember what connection he had to my wife's grandmother, but we initially got to talking about politics. Again, at that point in my life, I was still an unconscious moonbat, to such an extent that I was exactly like contemporary moonbats who feel completely free to attack President Bush in a public setting, obliviously confident that everyone feels the same way.
The details aren't important, but David calmly but firmly stood up to all my blather. Usually I prevailed in an argument by simply overpowering the other person, but this guy stood his ground and politely pointed out the fundamental errors in my thinking, even though I wasn't ready to hear them and reflexively held my ground.
But then we got to talking about my dissertation and some of the papers I'd written, and he took a deep interest. Rarely did I meet someone who shared my passion for cosmic wholeness, or who was familiar with the ideas and authors I was drawn to, but he was. He asked me to send him some of my material, so I did. A couple of months later he wrote back that he had read my papers, but
"not enough times to grasp every nuance; they are challenging reads inasmuch as we use different nomenclature to describe the same phenomena.... What struck me most about the articles was the conspicuous absence of the 'G-word,' as if this implicate-explicate phenomenon simply floated in existence without some type of origin, anchor or glue. For this reason, I don't regard Freud's secular 'deeper reality' as adequately deep, especially as it fails to encompass a separate intelligence partially ordering some brain functions. The strange thing is, I agree with many of your basic assumptions; however, it felt to me like reading a description of a large, grey quadruped with a trunk by someone determined not to say, 'elephant.'"
This was a good insight, for I suppose I was attempting to be a "rational" or "naturalistic" mystic. I didn't just have the "Jesus willies," but the "religion willies," and even "God willies." Therefore, he was right. It was as if I were writing about God and religion in the absence of God and religion.
".... I am going to break one of my rules and offer unsolicited personal advice. I do so because a subtext emerged from your writing: your own spiritual quest. I know you are eager to experience spiritual enlightenment and I think I might be able to share a handy tip or two."
"Your powerful intelligence has already taken you close to illumination, further than most will ever go. However, these same powers of reason, analysis and skepticism, which feel so appropriate and natural, still seem to me to block your direct experience and integration of the non-rational, or implicate, if you prefer. (I base this presumption not only on your writing, but our conversation in which you expressed agnostic sentiments and used deprecating adjectives such as 'just' and 'only' to refer to the Creator of existence.) You have already made a conscious attempt to balance ego and intuition. Nonetheless, the ego still has further subordination to undergo to get it out of the way and allow the light of illumination to break into awareness."
First of all, I didn't believe the line about "your powerful intelligence has already taken you close to illumination, further than most will ever go." However, I suppose it did cause me to take my own ideas a little more seriously. As I mentioned yesterday, by that point in my life, I was beginning to be left with the distinct sense that "no one else I think is in my tree." I felt as if I were on this passionate adventure, but no one else seemed to share the passion, so I was beginning to think I was just a kind of hopeless eccentric, a Raccoon without portfolio.
There's obviously a lot more, but now I'm really late. To be continued.... unless this is just too self-indulgent....