Friday, August 03, 2007

We Are Not Worthy of Being So Unworthy!

Ah, here’s a good question from Sigmund, Carl and Alfred:

Q: You said, "the more human we become, the more divine, and the more divine, the more human -- and humble." Are you saying that there is a kind of "yoke" we must assume, to move ahead?”

A: Well, first of all, I am so exceedingly humble or possibly ingratiating that I am not worthy of this question, for a good question is superior to any answer that can be given. Furthermore, the answer is the disease that kills curiosity, so bear that in mind. I never want to cure anyone's curiosity, only aggravate it.

Now, it is not so much the Great and Powerful B'ob who is suggesting that humility is a requisite of the spiritual path, as that nine out of ten saints, mystics, sages and assorted holy men agree that this is true. At least the ones in my revere view mirror. I believe that one can always tell a false teacher or cult leader by their hubris, grandiosity, presumptuousness, and narcissism. And their fee, for real truth is free, in that it will only cost you your worthless and blankrupt life. While there is a cover charge for entry into God's naughtclub, it is sincere repentance. (For the three of you who have my book, this is what I was trying to unsay in the bobscure passage on pp. 252-253: "Either pay your deus or be nilled to a blank.... Eloha, that's a good bye for the Love that removes the sin and other scars, speaking allegheirically." You will gnotice that my yokes are actually pretty easy, if not cheesy.)

As implied by your question, the equation works both ways. In order to know the divine, humility is a key that opens many mysteries. But as we begin to receive genuine gnosis (which simply means spiritual knowledge), we are humbled by it. At least in most cases. There are definitely situations in which an authentic spiritual gift is combined with unresolved narcissistic issues to produce a hugely (and dangerously) inflated ego. You saw this phenomenon a great deal in the '60s and '70s, in which Buddhist or Hindu gurus who had achieved genuine spiritual attainment in an isolated ashram setting were suddenly placed in a situation where attractive young devotees were throwing themselves at their feet. Oh, mama!

Maharishi, you broke the rules / You laid it down for all to see / Maharishi, oooh you broke the rules.
Maharishi, you'll get yours yet / However big you think you are / Maharishi, oooh you'll get yours yet.

Of course, John Lennon later changed the lyric from “Maharishi” to “Sexy Sadie.” In Lennon’s case, it seems that he first projected his own unresolved messianic grandiosity into the Maharishi, and was inevitably devastated when he turned out to be all too human, unlike Yoko, who was not human enough.

It is also important to point out that humility hardly equates with “low self esteem” or being a shrinking violet. To the contrary, low self esteem is just the other side of narcissism, and will likely produce similarly bad results. Humility is really just accurate self assessment. It is seeing oneself as one is, not better or worse than one is.

There are spiritual types who mistakenly believe that by utterly abasing oneself or taking aseticism to absurd lengths, one can know God. Again, it is simply the reverse side of the same worthless coin: “Look at me -- I’m so much worse than you, I must be the world’s greatest sinner ever!” (I detect this dynamic in Mel Gibson -- ”I am God, I own Malibu” conjoined with “I am sick, the worst sinner ever, the man who pounded the first nail into Christ.”)

This is also not to say that some humans aren’t better or higher than others. Again, very much to the contrary. The distance between a great saint and the average person might be as great as the distance between us and a dog. However, the distance between the saint and God is even greater -- the saint knows this better than we do, hence, the humility.

Nevertheless, the great saint is also a warrior, a master of the art of spiritual warfare, of hand-to-hand combat without hands. I have no hesitation in spontaneously bowing before these great souls, for they are earthly reflections of something much greater -- like the night time moon that reflects the sun’s radiance. The real saint will not take advantage of your bowing before them -- rather, they will bow even lower. In truth, every spiritual crown is a crown of thorns.

God is a fisher of men, but first there must be a fissure in man where God can operate. Man is not a given fact, but a possibility, and the possibility of a divine-human partnership takes place in the transitional space between you and your highest aspiration -- between you and your future self. This is a polarized space, and it is the polarization that creates the dynamic electricity. If you like, you can think of it as analogous to the sexual tension that fills the space between man and woman. There is a spontaneous, natural, innocent, and idealistic form of this energy, as well as many perverse and deviant versions.

In the past, I have written of religious perversions, of which Islamism is a particularly vivid example. However, political correctness, multiculturalism, liberal victimology, and the counterfeit virtue of “tolerance” are similarly destructive spiritual perversions that cause just as much damage in the long run -- perhaps even more, since the process is more subtle.

For example, the cognitively and spiritually bereft idea of multiculturalism causes Western intellectuals to defend and even honor totalitarians who embrace or condone polygamy, gender apartheid, religious intolerance, political autocracy, homosexual persecution, honor killings, female circumcision, and a host of other barbarisms.

At risk of pointing out the obvious, is it not clear that tolerance is hardly “humility” or “accurate self assessment?” Rather, it is a wildly inaccurate assessment of the obvious superiority of Western civilization over the Islamic world and other primitive and tribal cultures. Tolerance is indeed (to paraphrase someone) “the virtue of the man with no convictions.” It is not humility but moral cowardice, and as such, opens up a free space for infrahuman bullies to operate unhindered. This is why the left is a "force-multiplier" for our enemies (as put at Belmont Club).

There is an increasingly overt unity between the postmodern left and the pre-modern Islamists, a tacit conspiracy between those who make a god of their religion and those who make a god of their irreligion, forcefully ill-luminating the emptiness at the rotten core of contemporary liberalism (yes, on the spiritual plane it is possible to be simultaneously empty and rotten).

Perhaps you have heard that the devil is not an atheist. Rather, he knows better than anyone that God exists. It's just that he refuses to bow. In a similar way, the leftist reformer who wishes to save humanity easily succumbs to the temptation of exalting himself in godlike fashion above others whom he presumes to save or instruct, but always through coercion. As an Unknown Friend puts it, the leftist always creates a rigid tower, not a tree, and the tower enfolds and encloses while the Tree of Life radiates. There is no harvesting without cultivating the tree. Hey, I don't make up the rules, I just follow them. God is a gardener, not a mason.

A properly functioning mirror is a humble object, for it reflects everything while “containing” nothing. But the mirror is also a marvelous thing, for without it, the reflected object seems to disappear. In some way, the object relies upon the clean mirror to reflect it and give it existence. Thus, the mirror is both exalted and humble. Much of the spritual life consists of polishing one's mirror.

The purpose of true spirituality is to become deep. As a matter of fact, “depth” in any domain is a measure of soul and nothing else. To become deeply humble is simply to crucify what is base and unworthy in the psyche and to create a space that will be filled “from above,” for while nature abhors a vacuum, God evidently requires one. It is the crack in the cosmic egg that lets in the light. This is the real meaning of humility -- of spiritual poverty. So if we want to know God, the yoke's on us.


Robin Starfish said...

skeletal remains
climber's pride breaks on the rock
water passes through

River Cocytus said...

You yoke'l! Though, The Jesus seems to agree about the ill-lumination stuff:

The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness. If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light.

Luke 11, 34-36

While it is common for Christians to say, "Walk in the light", what Jesus is suggesting is neither to walk in light nor darkness, but rather, to "Walk illuminated."

Also, speaking of debasement, I had a realization when hearing such things as 'We are but dust', 'All is fruitlessness' -- they are, in the hands of the saint, not actually abasement, but rather apophatic praises. Bizarre as it seems, this dichotomy between sinner and saint finally made somewhat of a bit of sense to me.

It is because this dichotomy seems to actually be between what is spoken and what is thought. Just as when the master turns a man away, he means not to reject but to cause the man to prove his intent. So what appears to be deception is a surface paradox intended to steel the listener.

Magnus Itland said...

Even though I have considered myself a Christian for most of my life, it was only a couple years ago that I realized with sudden clarity that "humility is a subset of realism". That's what the voice in my head said to me, so to speak, very precisely.

Until then, I guess I had thought that humility was to pretend to underestimate myself, perhaps in order to make God feel better.

In any case, God does not give up on us because we are in bad moral shape. But that's a book in itself.

River Cocytus said...

Wasn't that 'Job'? Or, 'Psalms'? There are so many books...

My phrase is,

"Pride is overestimation and self pity underestimation. Then, dignity is to mark yourself no less that what you are, and humility no more."

The narcissist 'balances' pride and self pity - whereas the realist balances humility and dignity. The difference seems semantic, but the world is made of language.

Smoov said...


I love that, River. Mind if I use it on occaision?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of mirrors again. There is a story about the Zen Master Hui-Neng before he became a recognised Master and Teacher.

He used to hang around the monastery as a sort of cleaner/sweeper. He wasnt even a monk. Just an ignorant peasant.

The head Abbott or Roshi or was asking his novice monks a question re how and to what extent one needs to polish the mirror in order to gain fundamental insight and thus become enlightened.

They came up with all kinds of answers, none of which satisfiend the Roshi.

Suddenly the lowly Hui-Neng spoke up---there is NO mirror to polish.
The Roshi was astonished at Hui-Neng's remarkable answer and immediately appointed him (Hui-Neng) as the Abbott of the monastery.

walt said...

A post full of real clarity, Bob - but here is the 'yoke' that jumped right at me:

"I never want to cure anyone's curiosity, only aggravate it."

Yes, you have really aggravated mine -- but in a good way!

River Cocytus said...

yep, it's all yours.

I gave it to my mother as well.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"And their fee, for real truth is free, in that it will only cost you your worthless and blankrupt life. While there is a cover charge for entry into God's naughtclub, it is sincere repentance. (For the three of you who have my book, this is what I was trying to unsay in the bobscure passage on pp. 252-253: "Either pay your deus or be nilled to a blank.... Eloha, that's a good bye for the Love that removes the sin and other scars, speaking allegheirically." You will gnotice that my yokes are actually pretty easy, if not cheesy.)"

Good cheese!
Better than Tillamook!

John M. Knapp, LMSW said...

Many critics consider Transcendental Meditation a cult led by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. For an alternative view of the TM Movement, readers may be interested in checking out TM-Free Blog,, or my counseling web site,, where those recovering from TM and similar groups will find information.

John M. Knapp, LMSW

jwm said...

That was excellent- worthy of Kipling or Churchill.
I haven't had much to add as of late, although I've been here hanging out at lurkers' corner (over by the buffet).
I'm taking a large view this evening.
I have very much enjoyed the last couple of years here. Bob's posts and those of the regular gang of raccoons have been the single greatest influence on my spiritual life and growth. But I realized that I have been here talking with you all about religion in general and Christianity in particular, but I have never actually sat down and read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, amen. I need to take the whole trip myself. I want to have my own organic personal experience with the complete text before I move forward. That's what I'm doing right now. I'm at Numbers, 24.

Being a regular here has laid an amazing groundwork for taking in the Torah. It's a very different story than what I had expected. And it's an incredibly good tale to boot. I'm not kiddin' man, someone should make a movie.

But maybe a suggestion- Even though I'm making a solo run from Genesis to Revelation, it would be fun to take a group tour as well. Maybe Bob could drive the magic bus?


intravenous narcotick said...

Bob, I wonder if you could talk more about Cousin Dupree.

I've studied Cousin Dupree's output and he seems to be spiritually backward. Dupree is very reactive and defensive, as if he has the very touchy narcissistic center that you mention in your post.

Shouldn't you expunge Dupree from your repetoire of 'voices' since he clearly is not moving in the desired direction?

Otherwise, wouldn't he hold you back? If all other elements of you are becoming more sincere, more surrendered, and increasingly humble, how can you cope with Dupree in with the pack, sort of contaminating the rest?

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hey JWM!
Good to know you're at the buffet, pal!
I miss your luminous comments! :^)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

IV Narc-
Kos convention too borin' for ya this year?

Mizz E said...

Noah was a drunk
Abraham and Sarah were too old

Isaac was a daydreamer
Jacob was a liar
Leah was ugly
Joseph was abused
Moses had a stuttering problem
Gideon was afraid
Samson had long hair and was a womanizer

Rahab was a prostitute
Jeremiah and Timothy were too young
David had an affair and was a murderer
Elijah was suicidal
Isaiah preached naked
Jonah ran from God
Naomi was a widow
Job went bankrupt
Peter denied Christ
The Disciples fell asleep while praying
Martha worried about everything
The Samaritan woman was divorced, more than twice
Zaccheus was too small
Paul was too religious
Timothy had an ulcer...
Cousin Dupree, a slayer of trolls

NoMo said...

Mizz E - Thanks for that catalogue of human failings found among the main actors on stage. I feel right at home.

JWM - Good to hear your "voice". What you will find amazing when you get to the New T, is the constant references back to the Old. Everyone looks to the past to frame the present - not to mention the future.

walt said...

Bob, it was interesting to read SC&A's excerpts of your posts, and their review of OCUG. Made me feel really lucky to have been able to follow this blog for the past year!

And, I imagine that it was gratifying for you, as well, to be so well-regarded by your respected peers.

Joan of Argghh! said...

The difference seems semantic, but the world is made of language.



Someone told me I should check in and say hello.

Hello, Raccoons!

Summer Slack is upon all of us, it seems.

Smoov said...

One minor technicality: Bob mentioned that he considers the Nazis to be leftists. I always thought of them as having much in common with leftists as well, however I was always troubled by defining them as leftist since there were many aspects that clearly fall under the rubric "right-wing" (though nothing whatsoever to do with classical liberalism or Republican conservatism). The way it was explained to me is that the Nazis were right-wing socialists. So yes, they had much in common with today's hard left (esp. anti-Semitism), however they really belonged to a category which is now essentially extinct. There are no more right-wing socialist parties. All socialists are leftists. Some right-wingers in the world today are evil--esp. Islamists. Mosts leftists are evil, albeit in desultory "unintended consequences" for the most part.

Smoov said...

Hello Joan!

Summer is upon me as well however it is far from slack. Due to the size of the buyout we are now looking at I could be doing this stuff for another two years. The good part is that if everything holds together and we get acquired by ______ (massive conglomerate) then my future slack will be well-padded indeed.

If I last that long...

Gagdad Bob said...

My understanding is that it was the communists who branded fascism "right wing," since the latter is a competing form of socialism, the main difference being that communism was an international movement while fascism was nationalistic.

juliec said...

I've been doing the same lately, it seems.

"Even though I'm making a solo run from Genesis to Revelation, it would be fun to take a group tour as well."

I'd like to go along for that ride.

Gagdad Bob said...

Hey, it may happen. At the moment, I can't think of anything else to do.

Ricky Raccoon said...

"Even though I'm making a solo run from Genesis to Revelation, it would be fun to take a group tour as well."

One ticket, please.

And this just in…
The next "round robin" (tm)

Smoov said...

Re a guided tour through the Good Book: sign me up. Sounds like a series that could run for a whole year. It would be well worth it.

ximeze said...


Unlike any that have come before.

Now THERE'S a project. Can just imagine how refreshing they would be.

I put my Me Too in too.

Van said...

River, that phrase is a keeper.

Smoov, Gagdad has it right, the Nazi's (National Socialist German Workers' Party) were leftists through and through, and their competitor's the marxists, did the typical leftist tactic of rebranding words and terms, they tried to tar the "Right Wing", with the most visible evils of the Left, so they could look as if they were clearly different from them.

All, I think I see a trend here... I've been reading a book Gagdad ref'd a while back, "The Begining of Wisdom - Reading Genesis" by Leon Kass, but taking the Grand Tour with Gagdad and his band of merry Raccoons could nudge back onto the nightstand.

How do I type while snoring? Rather than try to figure that out, I think I'll go to bed.

Jey JWM! Hey Joan! (better keep these 'Hey's' separated, you know how they are...) Hey Ximeze!

interenvious narcoleptic - wow, that was stupid.

Smoov said...


It was another Gagdad-recommended tome called Explaining Postmodernism which contains the definition "right-wing socialist".

In any case the key point here is that we should work to reverse the association that the public has between Nazism and conservatism (i.e., the "right"). Many of the hallmarks of Nazism--from anti-Semitism to "green" consciousness--are evident on the Left today.

Van said...

Smoov said "Explaining Postmodernism which contains the definition "right-wing socialist". "

Huh. Stephen Hicks outranks me. I yield.

Van said...

BTW, I agree on the key point.