Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Terrible Simplicity of the Terrible Darwinian Simplifiers (2.14.09)

I'm going spend one more post wrapping things up with Before the Dawn before moving in. When I say "moving in," I mean that literally, for one of the interesting things about reading a book such as this is the exteriorizing effect it has on one's consciousness. Immersion in this kind of infrahuman ideology really can destroy a soul. I do not mean that in the way that a spluttering creationist might mean it, but in a much more subtle way.

However, I am sympathetic to the person of faith who objects to being bullied by this kind of ham-handed, totalitarian scientistic ideology. The uncorrupted soul naturally recoils. As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I can well understand how a religious person might read just a few paragraphs of this book and dismiss it as "satanic," because in a very real sense, it is. It's very creepy to immerse oneself in this desolate, simplistic, and one-dimensional world that is so disproportionate to the dignity and majesty of the human soul. I will try to explain what I mean, even though I am not sure I will be able to successfully do so.

You needn't believe in the literal existence of satan in order to know that satan is a deceiver, and that the most dangerous deceivers are the terrible simplifiers -- i.e., Hitler, Stalin, and less radical but still extraordinarily dangerous demagogues such as Barack Obama (relax, troll, I am not comparing Obama to Hitler, even though his simplistically appealing radical agenda would destroy the United States as we know it). I forget who coined the term "terrible simplifiers," but I just googled it and came up with this relevant passage (on an unrelated topic) that gives a sense of what I'm talking about:

"The lack of a correspondence between abstraction and reality is all the more significant, since the real world is profoundly complex and contingent and an abstraction is inevitably simple. The terrible simplifiers who love abstractions cannot stand conditions and conventions muddling their perfect, clear theory. If life does not fit the theory, then it is life that has gone awry and must be made to fit. The terrible simplifiers are always perfectly willing, then, to embrace ideological crusades, violence and upheaval to better realise their 'principles'...."

The promise of violence always follows in the wake of the terrible simplifiers, but the violence to the soul actually occurs at the outset. The physical violence is a consequence of the rebarbarization that goes hand in hand with the simplification which sanctions the violence by encouraging man to be less than he is.

I am not accustomed to reading a book this simple and "mechanical." Although I breezed through hundreds of them in the course of writing my own, it's been awhile. Naturally, in order to complete chapters 1, 2, and 3 of One Cosmos, I had to familiarize myself with the latest findings in cosmology, theoretical biology, paleoanthropology, etc. My specific concern in writing those chapters, now that I think about it, was mainly one thing: origins. What is the origin of the cosmos? Of life? Of the human subject? If we could know these things, then there would be nothing we didn't know: existence, life and mind; or being, will, and interiority. What is the nature of these things? What do they imply about the cosmos?

In posing these questions, my view was much wider than the scientist, for I didn't just want to know how life arose, but what it means that a supposedly dead cosmos can spontaneously come to life. What does this say about the kind of cosmos we inhabit? Is it just a meaningless and trivial fact, or does it cause us to rethink what sort of cosmos this is from the ground up?

Irrespective of whether humans became human 45,000 years ago or 15,000 years ago or 6,000 years ago, what does it mean that our cosmos has an interior horizon -- this calm, reflective center in the midst of swirling creation -- in which it may contemplate its deepest truths? For I can understand how humans could change as a result of becoming better adapted to their changing environment. What I do not understand is what this has to do with our miraculous capacity for transcendence of everything, including ourselves.

Only man is built for transcendence. A man who fails to transcend himself sinks beneath himself. He is not a proper man, but a beast among beasts. What can it mean that the cosmos has produced a being who hangs halfway suspended between what he is and what he is to become, between is and ought, between our genetic blueprints and our transcendent blue prince? (Sorry -- couldn't resist the pun.) For there is no humanness in the absence of the ought. But here again, subverting this reality is behind the agenda of the materialists, for there can be no "ought" in a purely material world. Rather, there is only is. With this brutal reduction, man, whose roots are aloft, is severed from himself and condemned to a narrow ideological prison of his own making.

It is instructive that I can rapidly skim a book such as Before the Dawn in my spare time in a day or two, and fully understand it. There is nothing remotely difficult about it.

On the other hand, not only can one not skim, say, Meditations the Tarot or casually enter the spiritual cathedral of Meister Eckhart, but it takes a lifetime of preparation and "interior work" in order to appreciate them at all. They will be entirely opaque to the uninitiated, regardless of what they think they understand. Furthermore, any work of a true spiritual master is infused with a light and a force that facilitates a direct transformation and mysteriously keeps their words both fresh and inexhaustible, so that one may return to them time and again for new insights. At different times in your life and at different levels of spiritual maturity, they will speak to different parts of you. This is axiomatic: "When I was a child, I understood as a child."

Back to the terrible simplification of the modern Darwinian synthesis. This is it: Everything = Random Error + Environmental Feedback (E = RE + EF). Got it? That is all you need to know because that is all you can know -- although just how you can know it is a bit of a mystery, since it too must be reducible to RE + EF.

Nevertheless, it easily answers all questions. Religion? E = RE + EF. Human groups that engaged in it had more reproductive fitness, that's all. Language? E = RE + EF. Apes that spoke had more babies. Love? E = RE + EF. A trick of the genes. Just a way to get you to reproduce. Beauty? E = RE + EF. The creation of illusion in order to make the pursuit worthwhile. Intelligence? E = RE + EF. Intelligence implies progress, something which is strictly forbidden in the Darwinian view. Nothing is any more or less intelligent, only better adapted to its environment. Wisdom? Don't even go there. No, can't even go there.

E = RE + EF. Got it? Now that you've got it, please bear in mind that you are not permitted to have any other thoughts about reality, because this is the answer that exhausts all questions. It is the graveyard of curiosity, which is now rendered a pointless hindrance to your reproductive fitness. E = RE + EF! E = RE + EF! Are you deaf?! E = RE + EF!

Ironically, this satanic reductionism cannot avoid carrying a sacred ought of its own, as reflected in the anti-religious jihad of the obligatory atheists -- the simple Dennetts and simpler Harrises. Yes, The Gospel According to Darwin (Tail wiggle: Walt) insists that the good news of E = RE + EF should be celebrated on Darwin Day, February 12, the day our savior was born. For this is the day that the word -- the only word there actually is, E = RE + EF -- became flesh. Naturally, before that, the word existed -- it cannot not exist -- but no one knew it.

But why a celebration, unless it is a funeral, since E = RE + EF spells the end of our humanness?

Because it's built into our genes, silly. Celebration increases social solidarity and therefore reproductive fitness. In short, how else are these unappealing losers supposed to get a date on a Saturday night?

UPDATE:

Tom Sowell notes that for the terrible environmental simplifiers of the left, their favorite argument is that there is no argument. Furthermore, you're a nazi if you don't accept the illogic.

UPDATE:

How do atheists get dates, anyway?

The Love Song of Daniel Dennett:

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
No, that would be stupid,
Even though Little Danny
As he is unfairly called by some
Because I had just gotten out of the water
I swear
Does find thee as hot as July,
At risk of sounding needlessly "poetic."
But in reality
Thou art neither lovely nor temperate
Nor anything else, really,
Since I am only attracted to thee because my genes
Hath created the beguiling illusion of thy beauty,
Making thee look worthwhile enough
That I might more ardently pursue thee
Until I get into thy bloomers,
Thus ensuring that my genes survive.
And when the illusion of thy beauty hath faded,
Which it inevitably will,
You know how that works,
I shall move onto a younger coed
With a more appealing hip-to-waste ratio,
Thus signifying her reproductive fitness
And reviving Little Danny's flagging spirits,
To put it delicately.

Happy Valentine's Day, my precious Darwin machine!

SLAP!

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Darkest Hour is Just After the Dawn of Consciousness

I awakened with thoughts of Before the Dawn dancing through my head, so I suppose this is what I am supposed to continue writing about.

I hope my wisecracks about the author's metaphysical shortcomings are not taken to mean that this is in any way a bad book. As a matter of fact, it is an excellent book, and I wish I'd had it on hand when I was working on mine. It does an outstanding job of summarizing what we know about human origins, which is an udderly fascinating subject in its own right. My only beef is with the author's bovine reductionism and scientism, but this simply goes with the academic territoriality.

Scientists are not philosophers, much less metaphysicians, so we should not expect them to be grounded in realities that are above their play grade. Wade is actually a science reporter, and we all know what happens to anything that is filtered through the parochial cultural lens of contemporary liberal journalism. Plus, Dupree -- who exerts a "light" editorial touch on everything I write -- just enjoys sticking it to materialists as much as they enjoy sticking it to us. They're so cluelessly passive aggressive, so they're always surprised when someone hits back. Needless to say, Dupree is never unconscious of his aggression, the unfortunate incident with the non-existent murphy bed notwithstanding.

This is why I so value people such as Whitehead and Polanyi -- the former a gifted mathematician, the latter an accomplished scientist -- who only became philosophers midway through their lives, after having thoroughly seen into -- and beyond -- the inherent limitations of reductionism and materialism. Both Whitehead and Polanyi were well into their 50's when they became philosophers.

Another excellent philosopher of science is the Benedictine priest Stanley Jaki, but of course he comes at it from a specifically Catholic point of view. Speaking of which, Raccoon emeritus Teilhard de Chardin was one of the first visionaries to sketch out the Coon agenda, and in many ways he represents a Western replica of Sri Aurobindo's evolutionary vision. There are a number of books that draw out the parallels, including this one (now apparently out of print) by Beatrice Bruteau, who seems like a lovely person.

As I said, Before the Dawn goes into all of the fascinating research which uses the human genome to make all sorts of clever inferences about our origins. In this regard, it is quite separate from physical archaeology, and there has yet to be a synthesis between the two fields. As you might expect, archaeologists are loath to accept purely abstract genetic inferences if they contradict all of the physical evidence. And with the genetic approach, we are dealing mostly with inferences. It is not analogous to the way DNA is used in the legal system, for example, in the Simpson case, where it was statistically impossible that Simpson was not the murderer. It is more as if the genetic evidence could only place Simpson in the general vicinity of Los Angeles and the decade of the 1990s.

Having said that, some of the implications are rather mind-blowing to contemplate. For example, there is a good possibility that all living humans and infrahumans are descended from a tiny band of us -- as few as 150 -- who somehow, and for unknowable reasons, escaped Africa 45,000 years ago. This is -- probably not coincidentally -- when behaviorally modern humans suddenly appear, after having been anatomically modern for as long as 150,000 years prior to that. Again there is that mysterious gap between human beings and actual humanness.

But is the gap really so mysterious? Yes, I suppose it is. It is something of a black hole in which one is free to speculate as to what happened to facilitate that sudden transition. In my opinion, to simply say "the genes did it" is a major exercise in question-begging and ultimately tautology. It's like asking how Homo Gretzky suddenly evolved so far beyond any previous Homo hockius: his genes did it! Yes, but.... how? How did a hockey player with eyes in the back of his head suddenly arrive out of nowhere?

As a matter of fact, there is a major bit of speculation at the very heart of any program of strictly reductionistic evolutionary psychology, since no one has even a hypothetical clue as to any actual mechanism that might explain how a gene translates into behavior. It is just assumed that there is some link between the two, but no one has any idea how it might work. Nor can it account for the obvious exceptions. Let us say, for example, that man was "selected" for male-female pair bonding. If this were true, then there is no plausible explanation for homosexuality, for any genetic predisposition to this maladaptive behavior would have been weeded out of the genome tens of thousands of years ago. Likewise, it is easy to say that humans have a genetic predisposition to love their children, but how then to explain the universality of child abuse, which is more horrific the further back one travels in history?

You will also no doubt notice that, whatever the scenario, there is a genetic just-so story that can account for it. Homosexuals? Er, people kept them around because they were good at decorating the interior of caves. Music? Er, to get chicks. Same as now. Religion? Er, since it's all bullshit, it must have been for... for social solidarity! I see. Are you saying that man evolved delusions in order to cope with reality? If so, how did you escape this genetically fixed propensity to be out of touch with reality? I see. You didn't. You're a liberal.

Another thing the book confirms is that the idea of the "noble savage" is pure mythology. Rather, the human being is a bad citizen, an extraordinarily violent and bloodthirsty animal. Again, the further back in history you travel, the more violence and mayhem you see. Go all the way back to primitive man, and the rates of homicide vastly exceed anything seen today.

In my book, I referenced the work of archaeologist Steven LeBlanc, who wrote in his Constant Battles that the “cruel and ugly” truth is that in traditional societies an average of twenty-five percent of the men died from warfare. He estimates that the homicide rate of some prehistoric villages would have been 1400 times that of modern Britain and about 70 times that of the United States in 1980. Although roughly 100 million people died from all war-related causes in the twentieth century, Keeley estimated that this figure is twenty times smaller than the losses that might have resulted if the world’s population were still organized into bands, tribes and chiefdoms.

In my opinion, the human genome contains virtually limitless possibilities. It is not that our genes determine this or that possibility in a mechanistic way. Rather, depending largely on cultural factors, one will have the opportunity to actualize one's latent genetic possibilities or essentially waste one's life without ever having been psychologically -- let alone spiritually -- born.

Take the case of my son. Yes, he was born with a certain raw temperament that is undoubtedly rooted in genetics, but it couldn't be more clear to someone who has a thorough grounding in modern attachment theory that the temperament could develop in widely divergent ways depending upon how Mrs. G. and I interact with him. Our brains are not genetically determined. Rather, nature endows us with a vast overabundance of neurons that are either reinforced or ruthlessly weeded out during the first two years of life. All of the broad assumptions of developmental psychoanalysis are now being confirmed by neurobiological research, much to the surprise of scientists who had rejected psychoanalysis as an unprovable mythology.

It is this understanding that I attempted to bring to the analysis of our human origins presented in Chapter 3 of One Cosmos. Since it is possible that I am the first person to attempt this, and since I am hardly an expert in paleoanthropology, there is no reason whatsoever to believe that I am correct in all of the details. However, at the same time, I do not see how I could be completely incorrect in terms of the broad outlines of the argument, which is that the human interior co-evolved with the evolution of parenting. Indeed, it is only through intimate and devoted parenting that a human subject comes into being at all. It is not merely a function of big brains. Humanness must be "teased out" of the brain, so to speak. It doesn't just happen by itself, but emerges within the intersubjective space between mother and infant.

Nowadays, when I take Future Leader to the park, I never cease to be appalled by the unconscious manner in which so many mothers treat their children as objects. I can already see the roots of pathology in some of these children wth my Coon vision. And these are the "good" mothers. It probably sounds judgmental to the defensive, but I literally cannot conceive of subjecting my son to the cruelty of daycare. I'd sooner sell my house than abandon him in this way.

If a mother treats her baby like an object -- undoubtedly because she herself was treated this way, which in turn eclipsed her own subjectivity -- that baby will grow up with major "lacunae" within their field of consciousness. I am quite certain that you have encountered people -- it's a common experience, actually -- who are more "object" than subject. You can see it in their blank, almost dead, eyes, and hear it in their affectless voices that are devoid of "song." They will be limited in their ability to experience you as a subject. It is very much as if their mind can only extend into your consciousness to the exact degree that it extends into their own.

As a matter of fact, this is why most people are so boring. Did you know that boredom in the presence of another is pathognostic? This was an observation of D.W. Winnicott, who said that the analyst's counter-transferential reaction of boredom actually conveyed objective information about the patient's interior. A boring person is in some form or fashion a psychically dead person, which is to say he has become "objectivized." I believe this accounts for why we idealize artists who, despite their human flaws, appear very much alive. Marlon Brando, for example, was completely crazy, but could channel the otherwise unbound craziness into a dramatic role. John Lennon also comes to mind. Both struggled with deadness and depression in their personal lives, but there was a vitally alive and unbound part of themselves that survived and expressed itself through art.

From time to time people ask me for a referral, and I think this is a good rule of thumb for knowing whether or not you are in the hands of a good therapist. A gifted therapist will instantly be able to see within you more deeply than you yourself can see. Furthermore, if he is good, he won't tell you flattering things about yourself, but rather unflattering things in a "containing" way.

I learned very early in my career that it is very easy to comfort the afflicted, which is what lame, "hand-holding," overly maternal therapists do. Rather, the hard part is afflicting the comfortable. This in my view is actually a higher form of empathy -- or at least it must go hand-in-hand with the other kind -- almost exactly parallel to the differences between mother love, which tends to be unconditional, and father love, which tends to have conditions attached. Both are needed. Much narcissism and sociopathy is bred where there is an abundance of the former and an absence of the latter, as in "urban culture," where fathers have been deemed unnecessary by our liberal elites. (Not to mention their belief that there is no difference between men and women anyway).

Contemporary liberalism itself is a gender identity disturbance that revolves around a rejection of masculine virtues and the adoption of a unisex feminized personality as normative. But of course you knew this already.

Speaking of the world's casual cruelty to children and the left's almost definitional moral confusion about it: The Real Children of War. And the Identification With Murderous Aggressors goes gland in hand with the deficient masculinity of the Bill Clinton-Barack Obama type of girlish seducer. You will notice that only liberals are seduced by their likes. Of course Osama would celebrate the election of Obama. He's a little more clued into gender differences than the average liberal.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

I've Discovered the Gene For Ignoring my Genes! (2.21.09)

As mentioned in yesterday's post, I'm in the midst of reading a relatively new and state-of-the-art book on human origins entitled Before the Dawn. I was going to wait until I was finished with it, but I've highlighted so many passages that I probably wouldn't be able to fit it all into one post. Plus it's what I happen to be thinking about at the moment, so now you're stuck with it.

The book is full of all kinds of new factual information, which is always good. However, it is written from the perspective of a primitive New York Timesman, so that all of the facts are implausibly shoehorned into a bland and predictable materialistic paradigm. Therefore, there's a bit of inherent frustration in reading the book, because the writer is an unquestioned devotee of the Darwinian faith, so no matter what anomalies he discovers or mysteries he unearths, the simplistic a priori explanation is always the same: it's all genetics.

As always, mighty "randomness" is the all-powerful "God of the saps" for the metaphysically blind. It explains everything, therefore, dipso fogso, nothing. It is a perfect example of what I wrote the other day about the "demystification of the world."

But that's okay. Facts are facts, no matter how the simple devotees of scientistic magic may try to spin them.

It reminds me of what a friend of mine once said in the midst of enjoying a certain spirited musical performance in the American negro tradition: "If you're not dancing, you're wrong!" This is how I feel about the cosmos: if you're not in awe, you're just wrong. And if you intentionally try to eliminate the awe, well, you're like one of those tight-a** Puritans putting up a sign that says "No Dancing," just because you've long since forgotten how.

Now, even in reading just the first few pages of this book, I can well understand how a traditionally religious person might regard the entire Darwinian enterprise (in its needlessly reductionistic bonehead form) as intrinsically satanic, and just toss the book aside. But this is something that Coons should never do, for our perspective is both wider and deeper -- not to say, higher - than that of mere science. Fitting science into a religious metaphysic should pose no difficulty whatsoever, or it's not much of a religion, is it? If science can't fit comfortably into a little mansion or even double-wide trailer home of God, what kind of God is that?

Frithjof Schuon (1907-1998), arguably the greatest religious metaphysician who ever lived, had no use for evolution and rejected it outright. On the other hand, Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950) had no problem at all with it, perhaps even going too far in the opposite direction. In his case, he had a very different personal history than Schuon, which no doubt accounts for their divergent outlooks. In the case of Schuon, he was a deeply alienated European who could not find spiritual sustenance in the decadent environment of 1920's Europe, and therefore looked to the East (including Eastern Christianity, Vedanta and Sufism).

In the case of Aurobindo, he was from exactly the sort of traditional culture that Schuon idealized (India), but received a marvelous education in the West, at Cambridge. This put Aurobindo in the rather unique position (at that time, anyway) of seeing how the decadence of India actually obscured the perennial message at the heart of the Vedanta. He knew that India needed to move forward, not backward, in order to actualize its spiritual destiny. You might say that he saw how India needed to become more Westernized -- i.e., more focused on the material world -- while the West needed to become more "interior" to balance its relentless exteriorizing dynamic.

This is exactly how I see it. I believe our conquest of the the external frontier must be followed by an exploration and colonization of the interior horizon. It is truly the "final frontier": vertical globalization.

And as a matter of fact, this is exactly what has been going on in the West -- albeit in fits and starts and with a lot of wrong turns -- since the time of the closing of the American western frontier in the late 19th century. Just at that point, there was an "interior turn" throughout the West. We see this in art, literature, music, psychoanalysis, and the sudden interest in mysticism, theosophy and the occult. Afterwards, the evolution of this inward turn was disrupted by cataclysmic world-historical events, including World War I, the Great Depression, and then World War II.

Thus, it is no coincidence that we began to see this interiorizing impulse reappear as if from nowhere in the late 50's and 60's, but people such as Alan Watts and Aldous Huxley were just a continuation of what had really gotten underway with the American transcendentalists such as Emerson. Obviously, Emerson can still be read with great profit today, as many of his observations were quite prophetic and remain entirely fresh and contemporary, to say the least. Indeed, viewed from a cosmic-historical standpoint, Emerson is hardly "in the past." He is just yesterday. Or perhaps just up ahead.

The whole new age movement, which emerged out of 1960's style pagan spirituality, represents a false and intrinsically wrong turn in our evolution. It takes certain truths and distorts them, dabbling in things that are not necessarily harmful "from above" but "from below." (I realize that my analysis is somewhat polemical and bobastic, and ignores many exceptions, counter-trends, and ironically positive unintended consequences, so the Bi-Cosmic Deputy may no doubt fine-tune my point in a less ham-handed way.)

In other words, most of the new age blathering that goes by the name "integralism" is nothing more than a co-opting of half-understood spiritual ideas for the purposes of narcissistic inflation (i.e., the lower seizing the higher instead of being transformed by it). These various approaches are spiritually vacuous to Coons because they are generally detached from any timeless revelation and any true source of grace, without which one can only turn around in circles and exalt the self in compensation. "Followers" are required in order to create a space in which infantile omnipotence is projected onto the master, which then creates a blowback of pseudo-grace. This is the trick of the new age careerists. A normal person would be nauseated by such adulation.

My fellow Coons, do you think for one second that Dear Leader couldn't do this if he were possessed of a black heart? Naturally I could not do it with you, because you would see through me and flee in the opposite direction with vomit bags billowing in the wind. But hoo boy, I know full well that I am equipped with the minimum amount of charisma -- if not the requisite sociopathy and narcissism -- to open my little window in the New Age Traveling Salivation Show and promise things I cannot deliver -- to fleece all the Nobodies who want a relationship with an idealized Somebody in order to not feel like the former. But the Somebody also needs to surround himself with Nobodies in order to not feel like the latter. As you may have noticed, only Somebodies are allowed to be Coons. Very substantial Somebodies, not fragile Nobodies. Needless to say, I have no desire to surround myself with Nobodies. I know for a fact that many people come here for the spiritual Somebody-ish comments of readers, not just my post.

Now, how the hell did we get here? I was talking about the book on human origins. I'll be right back. I need to reread what I just wrote......

I give up. Anyway, the book does broadly confirm a number of important points discussed in chapter 3 of One Cosmos, Psychogenesis. Instead of looking just at the archeological evidence, Before the Dawn discusses all of the new research made possible by the Human Genome Project. The data can be studied in all kinds of clever and innovative ways in order to deduce various conclusions about our origins.

The book confirms the fact that there is a vast difference between "anatomically modern" and "behaviorally modern" human beings, the former of which appear as early as 200,000 years ago. And yet, truly human behavior does not emerge until as recently as 45,000 years ago. And it emerged quite suddenly, in such a way that it defies any traditional Darwinan explanation. In fact, many traditional paleo-anthropologists reject the sudden emergence of our humanness, but only because their religion (strict Darwinism) makes it impossible. Therefore, they argue that the transition must have been gradual, even though this is not what the archaeological evidence shows. What do you call someone who maintains a belief system despite contrary evidence?

Anyway, genetics comes to the rescue, because the author of Before the Dawn says that Darwinian evolution must be able to occur much more rapidly than any of us had previously realized. Therefore, whether the transition from ape to human was slow or sudden, it's all good. Darwinism explains it.

What do you call a philosophy that is so elastic that it accounts for opposite scenarios? "I was for the gradual descent of man before I was against it."

You will never hear it come out of my mouth that genes are unimportant things. However, the author makes the point that our DNA is 99% identical to that of a chimpanzee. Oddly, he uses this statistic to emphasize the importance of genes, when to me it would appear to highlight the opposite. I say this because a moment's reflection will reveal to you that the ontological gulf between a human being and any animal is actually infinite.

Put it this way: how would you characterize the distance between an animal, whose every behavior is genetically determined, and a being who has transcended his genetic program to such an extent that he is able to pick and choose those aspects of it that he would prefer to ignore? Again, being that he is a primitive New York Timesman, the author doesn't give a moment's serious thought to religion, but dismisses it with a passing observation buried in a sentence to the effect that it was selected (of course) by our genes "as a means of social cohesion." If so, one can only wonder how he and all of his fellow Homo crapians among the secular left managed to escape this gene's influence?

Again, he seems to be arguing that genes are all-important, but not so important that you can't simply ignore them if you wish. In fact, you can even have contempt for your own genetic religious proclivities (projected into others, of course), which is a rather odd thing. Ever heard of a chimp who had contempt for his banana?

Well I have a busy day ahead of me, so I'd better stop this preluminary discussion for now. It looks like Mrs. G. is giving birth to her first kidney stone today, so my assistance will be required to entertain the savage beast, which I am genetically programmed to do any way. I'll address the book in more detail in a subsequent post.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Probing the Now, the Center, the Simple, the Eternal (2.08.09)

Yesterday I had meant to weave the spellbinding account of my day-to-day life into a more general discussion of how one may lead a spiritual life in the contemporary world -- which, like it or not, is where we always are. However, I became so engrossed in the fascinating minutia of my life, that I forgot to provide a moral to the story.

When we say "lead a spiritual life," we are not talking about a conventionally religious life per se; nor do we wish to confuse it with any kind of new age excuse for narcissistic navel gazing, which never bears sound fruit -- or only bears fruitcakes like Deepak Chopra and Tony Robbins. Rather, what we are really talking about is vertical transformation and the conditions that make this transformation possible. Those conditions are embodied in religion, but it is clearly possible to practice a religion and miss out on the transformative element.

This is one of the reasons I am attracted to ancient Christianity as opposed to so many of its modern and postmodern versions, such as fundamentalism. If you read the accounts of the original practitioners of the "Christian way" (as it was then called), it is obvious that they were drawn to its transformative aspect. In other words, it is hardly as if they merely heard a nice story about a man who rose from the dead, and said to themselves, "I like that. I think I'll become a Christian." Rather, there was something far more dramatic and experiential going on, and this is vividly reflected in the writings of the first 500 years of Christianity, right through Augustine -- who is hardly comparable to a dry and dusty academic theologian.

For example, in his Confessions, Augustine recounts several mystical experiences of direct contact with God. Of the most famous one, he writes of how "we did gradually pass through all corporeal things, and even the heaven itself, whence sun, and moon and stars shine upon the earth. Yes, we soared higher yet by inward musing, and discoursing, and admiring your works; and we came to our own minds, and went beyond them, that we might advance as high as that region of unfailing plenty.... There life is that Wisdom by whom all these things are made, both which have been, and which are to come..."

He concludes with an observation and a speculation: "If to any person the tumult of the flesh were silenced -- silenced the images of earth, waters, and air -- silenced, too, the poles of heaven; yes, the very soul be silenced to herself and go beyond herself by not thinking of herself -- silenced be dreams and imaginary revelations, every tongue, and every sign, and whatsoever exists by passing away," then "life might be eternally like that one moment of knowledge that we now sighed after..."

So while religion obviously involves "faith" and "belief," these are not intended to be merely static and saturated "containers." Rather, properly understood, they should be fungible into a different sort of experiential knowledge and should facilitate a real transformation. In other words, it seems that dogma is not the end of religious knowledge, but only the beginning. Truly, we believe in order that we may know.

In the past, I have discussed dogma in terms of Polanyi's analysis of scientific knowledge, which he compares to the cane of a blind person -- to a probe in the dark. If you can imagine being blind for a moment -- which, of course, you are -- think of how the cane would quickly become an extension of your hand. At some point, you wouldn't even be aware of the cane's impact on your hand. Rather, these raw sensations would be instantaneously transformed by the brain into a three-dimensional image of your spatial surroundings. At the same time, it would expand your world and allow you to move through it in such a way that you could further expand your world by degree.

Clearly, scientific knowledge works in this way. Consider, for example, the equations of subatomic physics or quantum cosmology. In the case of the former, this mathematical language allows us to extend our senses and "see" beyond the illusory, solid material world the senses give to us. Likewise, the latter allow us to "visualize" the temporal arc of the cosmos, extending back to a time long before human beings even existed -- in fact, to the very time that time supposedly came into existence.

But you will notice that we always convert this scientific knowledge -- again, think of the probe in the dark -- into a human vision. When we think of a "big bang," that's what we think of, even though, if you could somehow have been there at the moment of the big bang, you wouldn't see any banging, for the same reason you don't see it happening now. After all, the cosmos is still banging away at this moment -- i.e., it is expanding -- but we don't experience this through our senses. Rather, we only know it by using the scientific equations as a probe in the dark to extend our senses.

But the universe is not merely a form of our sensibility. In other words, no matter how far science extends its probe into the dark, it is still going to be a human hand grasping a slightly more elaborate cane. And, needless to say, the universe is what it is, regardless of -- or in addition to -- what we say or think it is.

To put it another way, science extends our senses forward, backward, and below, in so doing "widening" our conception of the cosmos, both spatially and temporally. But religion serves a different purpose. It too is a probe in the dark, but it specifically probes the inward and the upward. This is the great confusion of both scientific fundamentalists and religious literalists. The former imagine that the horizontal probes of science exhaust all that may be probed, whereas the latter imagine that religion is meant to probe the material world. Thus, for example, they attempt to use Genesis to probe the horizontal, just as scientists imagine that they can explain anything of a non-trivial nature about the vertical by relying solely upon their sensory probes.

This is something I actually understood when I began studying psychoanalysis. I began doing so at a time when psychoanalysis had fallen out of favor among strict scientific types, who regarded it more as a "mythology," even a sort of cult invented by Freud. What I realized is that the concepts of psychoanalysis are precisely analogous to probes we may use to explore consciousness, as we try to extend our knowledge from the well-lit area of the ego, across the subjective horizon into the darkness of the unconscious. There are a number of different psychoanalytic schools, and they each "work." Why is this? How can this be?

I believe it is because it is not so much the explicit theory that counts, so long as it may be used as a probe to explore the unconscious and to widen that part of consciousness that we have "colonized." The unconscious is just as dark and silent as the subatomic world is until we have developed a "language of achievement" with which to probe and illuminate it.

I don't want to get sidetracked into a discussion of psychoanalysis, but let us transfer the same general idea to religion. To try to understand psychoanalytic concepts as an objective description of the mind is to misunderstand them, precisely. Again, they are subjective probes we use to reach into the darkness of the unconscious mind. Likewise, there is no question in my mind that a religious system must be similarly understood as probe we may fruitfully use to reach into eternity, the vertical, the interior, the great within, heaven, whatever you wish to call it. Even if you don't consciously realize you are doing this, this is what you are doing when you "indwell" in religion. You are expanding your consciousness and thinking about things that are otherwise unthinkable in the absence of religion.

Indeed, this is why religion persists and will always persist, because human beings, alone among the animals, have a built in need to reconcile themselves to the vertical, on pain of no longer being human. I was thinking about this the other day, in considering the first humans who awakened to the vertical. In fact, in every sense, "awakening to the vertical" is synonymous with "becoming human." I am currently reading a book, Before the Dawn, that I will soon be reporting to you on. It goes into the latest research on human origins, and I wanted to use it to update or correct any outdated information in Chapter 3 of One Cosmos.

The author confirms one of my main points, that anatomically modern humans emerged by approximately 100,000 years ago, and yet, there was no evidence of what we call genuine "humanness" -- which coincides with the discovery of the interior world -- until it suddenly burst upon the scene some 50,000 years ago. Just as we have forgotten the experiential intensity of the early Christians, it's easy to dismiss the intensity of what it must have felt like for the earliest humans to awaken to the vertical.

Consider some of the famous cave art that emerged in Europe after our great awakening. What force prompted our furbears to do this? Consider the fact that some of these caves are accessible only by long tunnels that extend deep into the earth, and are hardly wider than a human body.

Someone -- again, compelled by what mysterious force? -- had to be the first to wriggle down that tunnel into unimaginable darkness, where he was eventually released into an underground cavern. His newly awakened soul then felt compelled to adorn the walls of this cavern temple with beautiful, fully realized works of art -- with mankind's first "masterpieces." Upon seeing the Altamira paintings, Picasso -- who was in a position to know -- famously remarked, "after Altamira, all is decadence." For this was art in its purest sense, in that it was obviously completely divorced from any commercial or egotistical motives. Rather, it was a purely spontaneous attempt to probe the interior reality to which humans had gained unique access, and to reconcile man to the vertical.

Now, where was I? Something about leading a spiritual life in the modern world. Now that we have more of an idea of what spirituality is intended to do, we are in a better position to come up with a way to organize our life around that endeavor -- to create conditions in which we may experientially "probe the vertical," so to speak.

Frithjof Schuon has said that "The chief difficulty of the spiritual life is to maintain a simple, qualitative, heavenly position in a complex, quantitative, earthly setting." When we chase after the exterior world and its phenomena, this has the effect of both externalizing and dispersing our consciousness, when the essence of a spiritual practice involves centration and interiorization -- as mentioned a couple of days ago, living "from the inside out."

In externalizing and dispersing our consciousness, science tends to get lost in time, in phenomena. But the vertical is only accessible in the present moment that is given to us. A kind of remembrance must take place in this present moment -- vertical remembrance, which is what prayer, meditation, and contemplation are all about. This is what Schuon calls the "liberating center," but it is only available to us through 1) centration, by whatever means necessary, and 2), ascent (of the awakened soul) and/or descent (of grace).

It follows that a simple life, free of needless distractions, is best. I see it very much as creating stable boundary conditions so that something higher may emerge from the lower -- just as we can only speak meaningfully by relying upon stable rules of grammar, or create music by relying upon fixed scales. This is why I mentioned yesterday that my outward life may not look like much -- trophy wife and accessory baby notwithstanding -- but is in fact a continuous interior adventure that would be impossible if my life were more complicated. The one would eclipse the other.

Well, that's all for now. I would be happy to field questions.

*Oh, and by the way, just to make it clear, so we don't confuse this with some sort of outright withdrawal from the world -- real charity should be a necessary consequence of living from the inside out and therefore sacralizing the horizontal, so to speak.

Friday, February 09, 2007

A Bob's Life: A Modest Thing, but Thine Own

Reader JP asked a good question, or at least one I feel capable of answering this morning: "This will sound trivial but what is your typical day like? Do you write these before going to work? How do you divide your time during a typical day? It's kinda off the topic but I'm just curious."

It's a good question because it may open out to a more general discussion of how one one leads a spiritual life in this modern space age a go-go world of ours. But it also won't tax the stomach flu-weakened Gagdad system. I prematurely celebrated the passing gastric storm last night by pounding some chicken with black bean sauce with my customary gusto, but it turns out that my traumatized tummy was not fully prepared for this kind of commitment. It was not an outright rejection, mind you, but let us just say that General Chang's finest was accepted only with a marked ambivalence that lasted well into the night. A less rash and bold man would have started with oatmeal or jello. But such a timid man would not be a Coon, now would he?

My point is that when I am feeling less than on top of the Cosmos, my coon vision shrinks proportionately, but I am always capable of writing about myself. Such is the power of my narcissism that it is my last body system to shut down.

Now, as to this matter of my typical day. This might be a little tedious for most of you, so feel free to take the day off and come back tomorrow. It's much more than most Coons want or need to know.

Of course, everything changed with the arrival of Future Leader in April of 2005. But to be honest, everything changed with the pregnancy, which commenced on July 25, 2004 (unless you count Future Leader's lonely three days in the petri dish immediately prior to that, culminating in a very robust-looking blastocyst).

To be even more honest, it probably all changed with the decision to have a child after some 15 years of marriage with no such desire. As fate would have it, we both changed our minds simultaneously in the fall of 2002. In my case, these child-centered thoughts came as a great surprise. I won't go into all of the details, otherwise this post will be hijacked in a different direction. Suffice it to say that when these child-thoughts began barging into my head, they were as alien as if I were having impure thoughts about Brad Pitt. Very disorienting, don't you know. How can this be?

But immediately after that, in December of 2002, my sister-in-law tragically died, and that too changed everything. My wife was terribly depressed for awhile, so we didn't get back on the baby track until late 2003.

The reason why I bring up the baby business is that everything about the experience changed the orientation of my life. Up until that time, I pretty much lived in the moment. I meditated every day, read widely, and worked on the book when the inspiration struck.

But because we were a relatively older couple (I was 48 and Mrs. G was 43 when she became pregnant), I couldn't just enjoy the pregnancy in the usual way. Rather, I was very aware of the fact that the clock was ticking, and the older the mother, the more things can go wrong. I imagine that if you're 25 or 30, you can enjoy the pregnancy in a much more organic way, because you don't feel the pressure of the clock. But in my case, I just couldn't wait to get my hands on that baby. For two years I was walking around like Fat Bastard mumbling I want the baby!

Anything short of the baby was slightly unreal and abstract, which had the effect of making those two years somewhat unreal and abstract -- just a transitional period from point A to point C. Because of my spiritual practice, I was entirely unaccustomed to living in this future-oriented manner, and I just wanted to get it over with.

In one of those cosmic tri-incidences, the final version of my book was submitted the same month Mrs. G. became pregnant, which also turned out to be the same month I was diagnosed with adult onset type I diabetes. This also changed everything, not just by virtue of having the disease, which was not that big of a deal for me. What was a big deal was that I was now not just responsible for myself, but to Future Leader. It's weird enough having a child this late in life, weirder still when you suddenly have a disease that may significantly shorten your lifespan. Again, if it were just me, it wouldn't be that big a deal. But I owed it to him to stick around for as long as possible. I want to be around to see him drop out of high school.

So it is fair to say that my spiritual life receded into the background during this time. And then, after he was born in 2005, that again changed everything. For although Future Leader is an extraordinarily delightful and entertaining baby, he is not an easy baby -- something like a combination of Robin Williams and Harpo Marx on crack cocaine. As a result, every day since then has more or less been a matter of getting through the day by any means necessary, especially for Mrs. G., who left her career as a therapist, career transition coach, and writer to be a full time servant of His Majesty. Suffice it to say, the focus is back on the present, big time, but not in the old way, since the focus is on this little imposter instead of the real baby, me.

I know, I know, my typical day. I'm getting there.

We've worked it out so that Mrs. G. ministers to Future Leader should the need arise at night. For a long time -- until February of 2006 -- he was a terrible sleeper, which almost cost Mrs. G. her sanity, and by extension, Dear Leader his serenity. Things have been much better since then, but he still goes through his phases, like right now. In any event, once I wake up, I take over and allow Mrs. G. to sleep in for as long as she needs to avoid giving me a headache.

Now, I try to wake up no later than 5:00AM in order to get started on a post, because Future Leader generally starts to stir as early as 6:00. This in itself is a big change for me, as I used to be unable to function without nine hours of sleep, whereas now I get by on seven. Occasionally I am able to wake up at 4:00, which is much better and always makes for a deeper and more well-written post.

Two other big changes are related to this. In the past I always thought of myself as a "night person." I was very slow to wake up in the morning, and the idea of bounding out of bed and trying to be creative would have been strictly inconceivable. Furthermore, I always thought of myself as the "inspirational" type, in that I only bothered writing when the occasional burst of creativity came over me. For example, during the course of working on my book, weeks would pass by without feeling inspired enough to write a thing.

But after I began blogging, I settled into this pattern of waking up early and, without any preparation, writing whatever came into my mind. About half the time, the seed of an idea is already present, and it is merely up to me to follow where it leads. As I have said before, nowadays I will often wake up with the post starting to write itself before I even get out of bed. In that case, I have to get up and "catch it" before it blows away.

Other times I literally start typing in search of the thread, with the faith that it is somewhere, and that I will be able to grasp it. You may notice sometimes that a post sort of meanders a bit until it suddenly takes off with a "zing." That's the sound of me catching the thread and suddenly being yanked into hyperspace.

Have you ever tried to remember a dream that is beyond the edge of consciousness? It feels something like that. You can't use effort to remember the dream. Rather, you have to sort of relax back into that state. Eventually you'll get a little thread of it -- an image or a feeling -- which will lead back to the dream. That's what the posts are like. Once I find the thread, then the rest tumbles down into place. Vertical recollection.

So the pressure is on as soon as I wake up, because I need to find that thread before the beast in the next room starts to stir. But long as I have the thread in hand, then -- much to my surprise -- I can continue working on it under the most adverse circumstances, with Future Leader crawling all over me and generally greeting the day in his characteristically enthusiastic manner, with inane Elmo in the background, and with the 24 second clock winding down.

Again, compared to my previous life, the ability to write anything under these circumstances is more or less indistinguishable from magic. It's something I never would have imagined.

So I work on my post between 5:00 and 8:00, but not continuously. There are a lot of disruptions. You may also be uninterested to know that, because of the diabetes, food intake is never far from my mind. I maintain a fairly strict and fanatical regimen in that regard, because it's just not worth it to ever have your blood sugar out of range.

The way I look at it, each and every day my body is on fire, and it is my job to put out the fire. I have a specific target where I want my blood sugar to be when I wake up, before each meal, within two hours after each meal, and before going to bed. I take a pretty radical approach, because I basically determined the minimum amount of carbohydrates (no less and no more) compatible with survival, and apportion it into six small meals per day, every three hours. It's a matter of trying to keep a constant blood sugar level, with no peaks and valleys. As far as anyone knows, this is the whole key to avoiding the long term complications of diabetes.

This may well be the best approach to dietary health in general. As it so happens, I converted to a Zone-like diet over a decade ago (I was never a fanatic about it, but just incorporated some of the general principles) and it made a dramatic difference on my mood and my cognitive abilities. With the Zone diet, insulin is considered the "master hormone," and the whole idea is to eliminate bad carbohydrates in order to regulate it, while increasing protein and healthy fats. As a matter of fact, one thing that strikes me about the whole climate change hoo-haw is that if experts can't even get the food pyramid right, why should we believe them about what the weather is going to be like in 50 years? I began following Zone principles back when dieticians counseled us to eat as many carbs as possible and to avoid fat, which has disastrous consequences. It is the reason why we have the epidemic of obesity and type II diabetes.

As I have gotten more deeply into blogging, my so-called career has become an increasingly bizarre nuisance to me. Needless to say, Raccoons are not envious creatures, but if they were, here is who I would envy: imagine being Charles Krauthammer or Tom Sowell, or even a lightweight like Tom Friedman or a dope like Paul Krugman. Their entire work life consists of producing a couple of measly columns a week! That's it! In my case, I produce a longer one every day before my work life even begins.

But such is man's fate. You know the drill -- "by the sweat of your brow you shall earn your bread," and all that. I suppose it's best for the writing to remain a hobby anyway, as it keeps it free from any commercial taint whatsoever. It truly is a joy, and the most intense and happy part of my day is when I'm sitting here in the pre-dawn silence and darkness, chasing after one of those little threads. It really has come to be the basis of my own spiritual life. Frankly, I don't know what I'd do without it.

Now, a couple of outraged readers have raised a valid criticism, asking how I can possibly be a psychotherapist with all of my various prejudices? As a matter of fact, they're right. I can't anymore. I have more or less phased that out, with the exception of short term situations. Instead, I mainly work in forensic psychology, which involves lengthy, one-time clinical interviews lasting anywhere from three to eight hours, psych testing, reviewing voluminous medical files, and writing long and ponderous med-legal reports. As a result, I only have to leave the house two or three times a week, and do a lot of work (dictation and editing) right here in the Coon den.

If I am honest with myself, I simply cannot do psychoanalytic psychotherapy, which is the only type of therapy I am trained to do (and any other kind would just be too boring). Doing this kind of therapy requires a tremendous amount of self-discipline in order to maintain neutrality and not project oneself into the situation, and I just can't do that anymore. To be honest, I was never cut out to be a therapist to begin with, and I only ended up with a Ph.D. in psychology because of my unbridled curiosity, not because I was thinking of a career. I am much more suited to be a teacher, but that is a very different thing than being a therapist.

I remember a patient from a while back. He was a secular Jewish man who was getting involved in Cub Scouts with his nine year-old son. He was angrily complaining about the religious aspect, bitterly questioning why they had to ram this worthless religious BS down their throats. I remember another person who said that Yasser Arafat was one of his heroes. Or a female patient, a feminist child of the sixties, who, like a male "playboy," went from one unfulfilling sexual relationship to another, never questioning the basis of her feminist orthodoxy, to the point of being mildly suicidal due to the absence of meaning in her life. Or one who was obsessed with left wing politics and was full of the typical conspiratorial ideas about the right. His sickness was entirely embodied in his politics, but where to begin?

As I said, I just can't do it. I want to shake them, not do therapy on them. I don't know how ShrinkWrapped does it! He has discipline of steel.

Say, you folks must be awfully bored by now....

Anyway, I work seven days a week, so that I can knock off by mid-afternoon. If I am able to get any meaningful reading done, it is while Future Leader is napping between 1:00 and 3:00. Not too long after that, it's time for exercise, either weight lifting, yoga, mountain biking, or stationary bike. I also sometimes take the young 'un to the park in order to give Mrs. G. a little sanity break.

Somewhere between 5:00 and 6:00 I will have exactly two beers, preferably a dark ale. In addition to all the other health benefits, it turns out that it has a beneficial effect on my diabetes, as alcohol temporarily suppresses the liver's release of sugar. Everyone's diabetes is different, but in my case, I am lucky enough that if I don't drink my two beers, my blood sugar is higher in the morning, so I am truly blessed! Beer is a medical necessity for me.

This is also the time that I may be able to listen to some music. In my old life, I listened to music all the time, whereas now I have to do so when I can. At the same time, we play with Future Leader until he goes down at 7:30 or 8:00 -- if I am lucky, with a Dodger or Laker game in the background. Except when I'm sick, I put him down every night, rocking him to sleep with a bottle while softly singing whatever songs spontaneously pop into my head. I have never mentioned this embarassing factoid before, but I am a huge fan of the little-appreciated cult-genre of Sunshine Pop, which makes for very good lullabyes.

Are any other Coons aficionados of this guilty pleasure? Can I get an amen for the Yellow Balloon? The Sunshine Company? Spanky & Our Gang? The Millennium? And of course the immortal Godfather of the genre, Brian Wilson.

That's pretty much my life. I guess it doesn't look like much, but I like to think that what it lacks in breadth it makes up for in depth.

Well now the babies are all sleeping,
And the twilight's giving in,
She looks like you,
He looks like her,
And we all look like him.
Well maybe it's just a little thing,
The way I feel tonight,
A little joy, a little love, and a whole lot of light.

You got a real fine love,
You got a real fine love,
One I am unworthy of.
You got a real fine love, baby.
--Real Fine Love, John Hiatt

Thursday, February 08, 2007

L. Bob Gagdad and the Cult of Merry Raccoons (2.21.10)

"What we see in this post is a drift towards a 'cult' mentality. All cults require a dire threat from the outside in order to create an 'us against them' atmosphere. Without the external threat, a sufficient level of internal cohesion cannot be created.

"Bob has stuck out his neck and declared that leftists pose the threat of actually destroying mankind by blocking all people's access to God.

"This is just flatly ridiculous on the face of it. Please don't buy in."


D'oh! I hate it when people find out the truth about Transdimensional Order of the Friendly Sons & Daughters of the Cosmic Raccoons.

But what took this genius so long to figure it out? Without an external threat, how can Dear Leader be expected to maintain internal cohesion and cult discipline -- as the left does by villifying George Bush and promulgating apocalyptic fantasies of global cooling.... er, nuclear winter.... ahh, global warming.... umm, climate change?

As you are about to see, I've been playing up this dire existential threat in order to create a "Coon against the world" siege mentality ever since my very first post on October 5, 2005 (which we celebrate as intergalactic "Coonday"). In what follows, I'll go through that post paragraph by paragraph and demonstrate how the left really is such a boon, I mean existential threat, to our sacred fundraising efforts on behalf of the cult:

1) "I don't think it's healthy to orient your life around politics 24/7, as does the secular left, for which politics is their substitute religion. Politics must aim at something that isn't politics, otherwise, what's the point? Politics just becomes a cognitive system to articulate your existential unhappiness. Again, this is what leftists do -- everything for them is politicized."

This is axiomatic. In a famous remark that reflects one of the defining characteristics of modern conservatism, Eric Voegelin noted that the very basis of the leftist project is to "immamentize the eschaton," which, in plain language, means to horizontalize the vertical. Just as the Roman Empire collapsed partly as a result of "horizontal barbarians," the leftist represents a kind of bovine, ham-handed (as if cows could have hands) "vertical barbarian" for whom nothing transcending the immediate senses is ontologically real.

Thus, for example, all truth is relative, free will is attenuated through the cult of victimology, envy (perhaps the greatest enemy of spiritual fulfillment) is promoted as a defining virtue, and transcendent moral obligations are reduced to an arbitrary cultural agreement. Leftism is defined by an externalizing consciousness that locates the reason for unhappiness or failure outside the self. On the other hand, one of the greatest gifts of a proper spiritual education is that it forces one to locate the reasons for one's unhappiness within. Every leftist politician arrives with the perverse gospel that, "it's not your fault! You are a victim! Don't be responsible for your life! Liberty is a pernicious illusion anyway! Transfer your power to me, and I will rescue you!"

2) "One of the general purposes of this blog is to try to look at politics in a new way -- to place the day-to-day struggle of politics in a much wider historical, evolutionary, and even cosmic context. History is trying to get somewhere, and it is our job to help it get there. However, that 'somewhere' does not lie within the horizontal field of politics, but beyond it. Thus, politics must not only be grounded in something that isn't politics, but aim at something that isn't politics either."

Here again, it goes without saying that this is a kind of talk that is unknown -- because unknowable -- on the left. Their project always involves the diminution of spiritual freedom in order to attain a purely worldly goal that horizontal leftist elites deem worthwhile. Thus, a few days ago, Hillary Clinton promised that if she is president, she will confiscate the profits of legal corporations at the barrel of a gun and use them in the way she sees fit. Likewise, she will no doubt attempt to take health care out of our hands, and essentially appropriate a substantial portion of the economy through government rationed healthcare.

3) "This is not an abstract, impractical or esoteric notion. The ultimate purpose of politics should be to preserve the radical spiritual revolution of the American founders, so that humans may evolve inwardly and upwardly -- not toward a manifest destiny but an unmanifest deustiny."

This one almost goes without saying. The left does not value spiritual liberty but horizontal equality. Once you recognize this distinction, you will see how it animates nearly every one of their domestic policies. To the extent that they value freedom at all, it is only the shadow version of true liberty represented by license -- which is generally much closer to vice than it is to liberty. Just as our freedom to know is only meaningful if we use it to conform ourselves to truth, our liberty is only meaningful if we use it to conform to virtue.

4) "For example, when we say that politics must be grounded in something that isn't politics, we are simply reflecting the philosophy at the heart of the American revolution, that the sacred rights of mankind, as expressed by Alexander Hamilton, are written in human nature 'by the hand of Divinity itself, and can never be erased by mortal power.' In short, human beings possess a 'spiritual blueprint' that is antecedent to politics, and which it is the task of politics to protect, preserve and nurture."

Here again, this idea is entirely foreign to the left, which is a wholly materialistic philosophy. For them, the purpose of politics is hardly to preserve and protect our liberty, but to impose ideological conformity and to diminish freedom through government intervention. There is probably no place less intellectually -- let alone, vertically -- free than liberal academia, which eliminates dissent through political correctness and speech codes.

5) "The founders, who were steeped in Judeo-Christian metaphysics, did not believe in mere license, which comes down to meaningless freedom on the horizontal plane. Rather, they believed that horizontal history had a beginning and was guided by a purpose, and that only through the unfolding of human liberty could that 'vertical' purpose be achieved. Our founders were progressive to the core, but unlike our contemporary reactionary and anti-evolutionary leftists, they measured progress in relation to permanent standards that lay outside time -- metaphorically speaking, an eschatological 'Kingdom of God,' or 'city on a hill,' drawing us toward it. Without this nonlocal telos, the cosmos can really have no frontiers, only edges. Perhaps this is why the left confuses truth with 'edginess.'"

Running out of time here, but the left is engaged in the perpetual project of denying and undermining our unique Judeo-Christian heritage. As I have said before, they are callously destroying the vertical habitat in which the Raccoon actually lives.

6) "Liberty -- understood in its spiritual sense -- was the key idea of the founders. This cannot be overemphasized. According to Michael Novak, liberty was understood as the 'axis of the universe,' and history as 'the drama of human liberty.' Thomas Jefferson wrote that 'the God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time.' It was for this reason that Jefferson's original idea for the design of the seal of the United States was Moses leading the children of Israel out of the death-cult of Egypt, out of the horizontal wasteland of spiritual bondage, into the open circle of a higher life. America was quite consciously conceived as an opportunity to 're-launch' mankind after such an initial 100,000 years or so of disappointment, underachievement, and spiritual stagnation."

The left believes there is nothing special or exceptional about the United States -- unless it is exceptionally bad, as famous leftists such as Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, and Michael Moore have been saying for years. Just the other day, John Kerry mentioned at an international conference that the United States is a pariah among nations. I give him credit for his honesty, as all lefists believe this, but, like Yasser Arafat, never reveal their true feelings to the wrong audience.

7) "Although it may sound slightly heretical, without human liberty, the Creator is helpless to act in the horizontal. This does not diminish the Creator but exalts him, for a moment's reflection reveals that an intimation of our spiritual freedom absolutely belies any mere material explanation found within the horizontal confines of history. For ours is an inwardly mobile cosmos, and as the philosopher of science Stanley Jaki writes, our free will brings us 'face to face with that realm of metaphysical reality which hangs in midair unless suspended [vertically] from that Ultimate Reality, best called God, the Creator."

Again, true freedom can only involve aligning our will with the Creator, otherwise there can be no such thing as liberty -- just as there can be no such thing as knowledge unless it involves aligning ourselves with Truth.

8) "Tip O’Neill is evidently responsible for the cliché that 'All politics is local.' The greater truth is that all politics is nonlocal, meaning that outward political organization rests on a more fundamental, 'inner' ground that interacts with a hierarchy of perennial and timeless values. Arguments about the surface structure of mundane political organization really have to do with whose nonlocal values will prevail, and the local system that will be established in order to achieve those nonlocal values."

What leftist would ever say such a thing? Since a leftist is by definition a metaphysical yahoo, his only recourse is to ridicule that which he does not understand.

*****

So that pretty much lays out the basis of our little cult in my very first post. The question is, do we really have an enemy -- i.e., is the left really opposed to the Coon platform -- or are we pretty much "on the same page," with only minor quibbling at the margins? You know the drill -- we're all Americans and we all want the same things. We just have slightly different strategies for achieving them.

I do not personally adhere to this sanguine view of our differences. I will speak only for myself. When you talk about the differences between me and a typical leftist, you might as well be talking about different species. The left, of course, is obsessed with trivial racial differences, but the difference between me and a leftist is infinitely greater than any differences based on race, class or gender. I am a member of the same race as anyone who shares my values. Therefore, Tom Sowell and I are members of the same race, just as Margaret Thatcher and I are members of the same gender. On the other hand, the girlish John Edwards and I are the opposite sex, and Al Sharpton is from another planet altogether. "Race" hardly defines our differences in any meaningful manner, and yet, the racist left believes that it is All Important.

There is a reason why leftism is an ideology that appeals to losers, misfits, the envious, the unhappy, and the addle-brained young. It is not that leftism creates the demand. Rather, these people demand an ideology to cater to their various pathologies and deficits. In other words, it is a demand-side politics that arises from certain unfortunate but ubiquitous trends in human nature. However, once the ideology is created, then its central task will be the creation of more lost souls who demand the ideology of leftism. Here again, this is one of the keys to understanding most any leftist policy, which fosters dependency, envy, narcissistic entitlement, and victimization.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Leftist Project of Mandatory Celestial Abortion

I may have met my match this morning -- one of those 48 hour GI viruses courtesy of Future Leader. Frankly, I don't know how I completed yesterday's post. I actually feel better today, but I slept too late, so I'm not even sure I can come up with a topic.

It's very interesting. It's moments like this that I realize that all of my writing comes from a certain interior "center," and that if for any reason I am ousted from that center, the writing could not happen. I've never thought of it this way before, but the "place" where the writing comes from is much more important than the actual content. My life increasingly revolves around trying to stay in that center, because nothing else makes up for its loss. So long as I am in that place, then the content takes care of itself. It's the difference between writing from the inside out vs. trying to do so from the outside in -- the latter being difficult as a result of those damn cherubim with flaming swords turned every way to guard the tree of life. Especially if the cherubim are contagious.

This is actually how the enigmatic Boris Mouravieff describes the nature of esotericism. It is not so much that one is dealing with an "oral tradition" of "secret knowledge" (i.e., not casually shared with just any grubbyone) that is "mysterious and hidden" from those who would misunderstand or degrade it -- although those things are all true. Rather, one is dealing with "inner knowledge" that comes directly from (or to, to be precise) the "inner man" and brings the letter to life. Information is to the externalizing ego what perennial Wisdom is to the Inner Man. The purpose of esotericism is to make this inner man known to himself:

"The final object of positive science is the same in principle, but the efforts are diametrically opposed. Starting from the center, positive science extends, specializes, and so diverges towards the periphery. At the limit each point forms a separate discipline. Esoteric science begins from the multiplicity and variety observed on the periphery accessible to our senses, and moves towards the center. It tends towards a more and more general synthesis" (Mouravieff). This is why the center is both interior and vertical. The one is a necessary consequence of the other.

A few days back we mentioned Sri Aurobindo's axiom that "within there is a soul and above there is a Grace. This is all you know or need to know." The turning point in one's spiritual development comes with the "second birth," which is the birth of the inner man, precisely (i.e., the "soul within"). This event goes by different names in different traditions, but one thing a Coon always asks in all situations is "by virtue of what principle?"

That is, we honor religious truth wherever we find it. But religious truth hardly implies something that violates everything else we know to be true. Rather, it will always reveal a meta-cosmic principle that is knowable to us. This is the difference between Western religions and, say, Islam, where everything Allah does is a "special case," the purpose of which is unknowable by humans.

For example, no Coon would waste a moment debating over the question of whether human beings may know truth. Why not? By virtue of the wider principle that the cosmos is infused with a logos that forms the basis of both the obvious intelligibility of the world and the intellect that may know it. Both mind and matter -- both the interior and exterior of the cosmos -- are permeated with same immanent logos, so naturally, by virtue of that principle, many implications follow. Among other things, no matter how deeply we dig, we will always find the logos, or "intelligent design." God's fingerprints -- which is to say truth and beauty -- are everywhere, from the submicro to the supermacro and everything in between.

The exterior man is an interior linked to the exterior. In short, you might say that he exteriorizes his interior in a manner that is hardly more subtle than an animal. But the Kingdom of Heaven is Within -- "within" not referring to a particular place, but to the mystery of withinness as such. Where else could it be? The Great Within is man's true birthright and true habitat, but how many human beings ever undergo the second birth and make a home there?

This is what makes a barbaric people such as the "Palestinians" so barbaric -- i.e., their completely externalizing consciousness that regards olive trees as more real than information. The Jews -- pound for pound, probably the most successful group in human history -- can thrive under the most adverse exterior circumstances because of hundreds of years of interior training, whereas Muslims can succeed nowhere because of hundreds of years of externalizing consciousness. Go back to 1948 and place the Israelis on the west bank and the Arabs in present day Israel. Today the former would be a little paradise amidst the squalor of Islam, while the latter would be an undeveloped hellhole ruled by hatred and envy.

Yesterday Ben asked, "In regards to Divine 'gifts' or 'abilities', which are unique in each of us, did we always have them, before they were revealed, or were they given to us as they are revealed?" Here I can only go by what it feels like, and it feels to me as if we are born with the gift, but that it becomes obscured precisely due to our exteriorizing consciousness, or "fallenness," as we become increasingly entangled with the world.

Remember, prior to our primordial calamity, Adam lived in intimacy with God, but afterwards he was driven from paradise and his consciousness became "horizontalized," so to speak. Before the fall, spirituality came naturally to him, whereas afterwards it was -- and is -- more of a struggle, to say the least. You might say that the rest of the Bible deals with man's struggle to reestablish the vertical link with God, culminating in (if you are a Christian) God's determination that man's efforts are futile, and that the only option available to him is to come down and personally reestablish the link himself.

But once again, we must always ask "by virtue of what principle" does this event and the transformation of consciousness that follows take place? In other words, it seems axiomatic -- a tautology, really -- that the Word becomes flesh because it is possible for the Word to do so. This is not to detract from it, but to rescue it from being confused with "magic" or some other such paganism. It is not through "magic" that the Word becomes flesh. Rather, it is "in the course of things." But to say it is not "magic" hardly means that it is not a glorious mystery, mystery being a mode of understanding, not a form of ignorance. It is no less wonderful that God has dropped a lifeline through the ever-present hole at the center of creation through which heaven and earth -- the horizontal and vertical -- may be reconciled.

According to Mouravieff, it is with the "second birth" that our latent faculties are actualized, as this coincides with the establishment of a link between the visible and invisible worlds -- between "word and flesh," so to speak. In so doing, we make the transition from "mechanical man" to a truly "living man" revivified by the "waters" from above. Coons are well aware of the fact that we are often discriminated against for our orientation -- which is to the "above" and the "within." This is why the Master made many perceptive and wise cracks to the effect that, "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, therefore the world hates you."

The horror of secular leftism is the horror of a race of inferior externalizing men engaged in the project of sealing the hole in creation and literally "reversing" the incarnation. In other words, they want to force all humans -- interior and exterior man alike! -- to live by the darkness of their absurd principles, which include the impossibility of any vertical inscape, any reconciliation of the celestial and earthly realms. This is to annihilate man as such, because it destroys the fulfillment of man at his inner reaches. It is nothing less than the institutionalization of forced celestial abortion so that no one may undergo the second birth.

Contemplating this is just making my nausea worse, so I'd better stop for now.

The fact that you don't feel a force does not prove that it is not there. The steam-engine does not feel a force moving it, but the force is there. A man is not a steam-engine? He is very little better, for he is conscious only of some bubbling on the surface which he calls himself and is absolutely unconscious of all the subconscient, subliminal, and superconscient forces moving in him...

Generally the soul wakes up, rubs its eyes and says "Hallo, where's that Grace?," and begins fumbling around for it and pulling at things in the hope that the Grace is at the other end of said things. Finally it pulls at something by accident and the Grace comes toppling down full tilt from God knows where. That's the usual style. But there are others.
-- Sri Aurobindo

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Receiving Your Spatial Delivery with Both Feet Planted Firmly in the Air

We didn't properly dodge that last question, did we? "How do I maintain a stable, balanced life in the material plane when my thoughts are constantly drifting towards intellection of the higher realms?" I forgot all about it when my thoughts drifted toward the higher realms.

This is a little difficult for me to answer, because I'm not sure there can be a general rule. I say this because in a sense, the spiritual path is no different than any scientific endeavor, except that you are both the object and the subject of the study. But since each person -- each subject -- represents a unique "problem of God," by definition there can be no "one size fits all" solution.

This comports with something I believe one of my teachers once said with regard to conducting psychotherapy. True, we have a DSM that contains all different diagnostic categories for various psychological disorders. But in reality -- say your patient is named "Jane" -- it is equally accurate to say that she is suffering from something called "Jane's Syndrome," a condition unique to her that the two of you will need to unravel together. It's a bit like those rare "orphan diseases" that no one studies because so few people have them. Looked at from a certain angle, we all have a spiritual orphan disease that is not susceptible to categorization and objective study.

It has been said that a physician diagnoses individuals while a prophet diagnoses mankind. We can extend this to say that a religion also diagnoses man as such, rather than such-and-such a man. In so doing, it endeavors to give an account of your existential symptoms while explaining their etiology and proposing a cure. But these "big box" approaches rarely account for individual differences, which is one reason why schisms occur. A schism is simply one person's "cure" applied anew to all of mankind.

Even when I was in graduate school I could see that the same thing applied to some of the great theorists we studied. While their theories are presented as objective and scientific, as soon as you read a biography of the theorist, you get a pretty good idea of where the theory came from -- how the theorist has elevated something that "saved" his own life and applied it to all of mankind.

I remember once on one of my internships, getting into an argument with a fellow intern about psychoanalysis. He was a behaviorist, a theory which reduces the mind to mere behavior (even thoughts are reduced to a type of "interior behavior") that is either reinforced or extinguished based upon reward or punishment. For him, psychoanalysis was little more than hocus pocus, since everything about the so-called "mind" could be rationally explained by looking at behavior.

At that point in my life, I was still into the sort of competitive intellectual one-upsmanship that characterizes academia, so I actually attempted to win the argument. But the argument was and is strictly unwinnable for the same reason you cannot win an argument with an atheist. Or, to be precise, you can only win an argument with an atheist, except that they won't know it, will they, so what's the point? Why try to convince someone who regards himself as a machine that he is not a machine? You might as well argue with a toaster.

In the past I have spoken of human psychospiritual development as a "conquest of dimensionality" (a term I once heard Terence McKenna use) from point, to line, to space, to four-dimensional spacetime, to hyper (multidimensional) space. In a previous post I wrote that:

"In many ways, human psychological development can be thought of as a conquest of dimensionality. (Don’t get bogged down in a literal understanding here -- this is a mental exercise to facilitate understanding.) For example, the psychotic mind inhabits a 'zero dimension' of pure mathematical symmetry. It is a world of infinite meaninglessness, with no floor or center, just a roiling panorama of catastrophic, uncategorizable novelty. Symbols are equivalent to what they symbolize and the terror is endless, because there is nothing to contain or anchor it. [One does not have to be clinically psychotic in order to have experienced this; it happens to me when I contemplate "President Hillary."]

"The (severely) autistic mind may be thought of as one-dimensional. It knows no depth, only points of sensory contact with objects that are known by their feel and texture -- hot, cold, hard, soft, rough, smooth, etc. For them, a communicative expression does not emerge from the human face. Rather, it is simply a bizarre collection of disconnected points -- a nose here, an eye there, a curved mouth down there. The points are not synthesized into an internal representation of the emotional depth or interior of the other. The psychologist Francis Tustin wrote about how autistic defenses can operate in neurotic adults as well, for example, in certain repetitive rituals such as 'rocking.' These rituals help to contain an anxiously fragmented mind by focusing on some limited sensory perception. Without it, the mind might slip into the terrifying chaos of zero dimensions. [Again, one does not have to be autistic to have experienced this dimension.]

"Once we reach two dimensions, we are in the realm of something more recognizably human. This was called by Melanie Klein the 'paranoid schizoid position,' and more people (including parts of yourself!) inhabit it than you might realize. It is the world of extreme, forced splitting into diametrically opposed emotional categories of good and bad. This type of two-dimensional thinking pervades the Islamic world, including its pseudo-American representatives such as CAIR (i.e., house of Islam and house of war.)

"Only with the emergence of the transitional space proper are we dealing with the creative use of three-dimensional psychological space. This is the imaginal realm that emerges between an infant and his or her loving caretakers. But this creative and dynamic space is often hijacked and reduced to two dimensions as a result of the malign imagination of internalized mind parasites.

"The fourth dimension adds time to the mix. This is called the 'depressive position,' a term of art that does not imply clinical depression per se, but the capacity to tolerate ambivalence (as opposed to foreclosing it through splitting) in order to form loving and stable relationships that endure through time. One of the reasons it is 'depressive' is that it involves transcending the omnipotent psychological defenses of the lower dimensions. For example, the 'borderline' patient is not stably in the depressive position. Rather, when they become angry at a person in whom they are emotionally invested, they instantly convert the person into the category of all bad. Not only are they bad now, but they have always been, and always will be, bad. In a very real sense, time and history have been annihilated. The feeling creates the reality. [Obviously, this forms the basis of much leftist thought, in which depth of feeling is confused with clarity of thought.]

"Perhaps you have noticed when you shift from one dimension to another. For example, depression clearly involves a loss of dimensionality. One of its most striking characteristics is that the world seems to lose a vital dimension of emotional depth. Suddenly it is flat, lifeless, and devoid of the meaning that can only be located and experienced in the higher dimensions. On the other hand, panic can plunge one into a space of infinite dread. Moreover, many psychological defense mechanisms operate by descending into a lower dimension. I call these 'dimensional defenses.' For example, there might well be unpleasant meanings and psychological realities located in the fourth dimension -- indeed, there usually are. One way to avoid them is to descend into a lower dimension where those meanings cannot be located or 'entertained' by the mind, any more than a circle can describe a cone.

This happens both on an individual and a cultural level. For example, the Arab Muslim world cannot tolerate certain meanings with regard to female sexuality, which is why they are so threatened by the "content flow" of globalization, as per Thomas Barnett's theories. In fact, all defense mechanisms can be looked upon as attempts by the mind to create an autonomous closed system within the mind.

Obviously, the same can be said for the left, which is what political correctness is all about. In the final analysis, political correctness is simply an ideological defense mechanism that prevents the mind of the leftist from allowing contact with reality -- with certain unwanted truths. Coincidentally, just this very moment I received an email from a budding Ricky Raccoon who described his political journey from left to right in two sentences:

1. open mind
2. insert logic

Exactly. Once the mind becomes an open system, then growth takes care of itself, so long as it is "fed" truth -- which is one reason why it is so rare for a conservative to regress back to leftism. The operative word is "open," for only an open system is capable of growth. Indeed, only an open system at disequilibrium is alive. To put it another way, a closed mind, or a mind at equilibrium, is quite literally dead -- emotionally, cognitively, and spiritually.

For example, "love" can only occur in an open system between two people. Something is quite literally exchanged in the process, i.e., the "substance" of love. Surely you have felt this substance enter and leave your heart. It is especially fascinating to experience this exchange with Future Leader, not just from my end, but from his, as he "discovers" the separate existence of mommy and daddy and forges an (L) link between us. You'd think it would be easy, but a fair number of adult narcissists never achieve this link, because they are stuck in a one person psychology whose goal is control rather than love. A narcissist is a closed system par excellence. It looks like he is loving another, but it is really just retroflected self-regard.

I don't want to spend too much time with this, but apparently it does not go without saying that the mind must also be an open system cognitively in order for intellectual growth to take place. Here again, it is possible -- in fact, probably more likely than not -- for an academic worker bee-type intellectual laborer to spend his life in the belief that his mind is open, when in fact it is a closed and circular system, usually as a result of some ideology or set of beliefs picked up in graduate school. This is why so much academic scholarship is worthless or harmful (as always, we are speaking of the humanities), since it is quite literally mental masturbation. Real knowledge, like real love, involves the metabolism and internalization of the substance of truth. Once again, I am quite sure that this is not news to Raccoons, although perhaps they have never heard it put this way. But when I refer to the "substance of truth," all Raccoons will know what I am talking about.

(Have we gotten lost again? Or is this post actually going to arrive at its destination? I have no idea. Let us continue hacking away at the dense vegetation.)

Now, if you were a bacteria, you wouldn't know anything about higher dimensions. Rather, your life would essentially be an eternal point. In the case of slightly higher forms of life, you might discover the line, in the sense that you could move toward food and back away from something dangerous or noxious. I imagine that mammals live in a kind of space, and yet, it must be more like an eternal now. In other words, it is missing the temporal dimension. To a certain extent, the birth of humanness co-insides with the discovery of time -- of the past and the future. Since we live in time, we take it for granted, but it is actually -- obviously -- a very special state. As far as we know, nothing else in the cosmos has awakened to its temporal dimension.

But neither internal nor external reality are limited to four dimensions. In my opinion, one of the things that spiritual development involves first and foremost is the ongoing conquest of higher dimensions. One way to coonceptualize this is to understand that each dimension brings with it a new degree of freedom. In the case of spiritual growth, it brings with it the discovery of vertical freedom, does it not?

What did the Master say? "My kingdom is not of this world."

Eh? What? A lowly pauper a -- the -- King?

The Book of Genesis is a good example of hyperdimensional prose (which is a good working definition of scripture), since it is something like a crystal through which the divine light is refracted in infinite ways. This is why it supports so many interpretations, each of which conveys the substance of spiritual truth (which feels very different than the substance of intellectual truth). As Schuon says, it functions "to provide points of reference for a complex truth and for the sake of the Inexpressible." Modern critics never understand this, for dogma or doctrine provide "allusive indications..., the implications of which are limitless.... For it is not a question of inventing truth, but of remembering it."

A two-, three- or four-dimensional scientific or religious literalist -- like my behaviorist colleague -- will simply see something concrete in Genesis: someone dividing light and dark or water and land. A couple of people walking around in a garden. A tree you're not supposed to touch. Etc.

In the past, I have touched on the idea that spiritual experience arrives via spatial delivery at the shoreline between the infinite and the finite, between time and eternity. Consider the fact that we have two biological eyes or ears that are set slightly apart. Because each of the two organs has a slightly different vertex, we are able to see and hear stereoscopically or stereophonically. If you have only one good ear, you can't experience stereo, only mono.

Now, suppose we have a "third eye" or a "third ear." What would reality look like from that perspective? As a matter of fact, it is our third eye that sees into eternity. There is a way of living in which these two modes -- the lower and higher eyes -- harmoniously coexist to facilitate the emergence of additional dimensions of depth -- of not being shipwrecked on the rocks of time, nor of being lost in eternity, but somehow experiencing time in eternity and eternity within time.

I tried my best to capture this in the Coonifesto. That is, if our perception of spatial depth comes from our integration of different points of view, depth may be thought of as a function of the number of perspectives that are integrated in an experience or perception. I simply tried to integrate as many points of view as possible -- cosmological, biological, psychological, neurological, philosophical, anthropological, theological, mystical, etc.

Having said that, the integration does not actually come "from the bottom up." Rather, the integration is actually "at the top," but it can only be progressively revealed to us as we grow spiritually. But "how do I maintain a stable, balanced life in the material plane when my thoughts are constantly drifting towards intellection of the higher realms?"

By finding your own way to be in the world without being of the world -- by participating joyfully in all of the dimensions available to the human being, while at the same time not getting lost in them "from below." After all, this is what the Creator does, isn't it?