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?

Monday, February 05, 2007

M-moses, Baba, Tommy, and the Frankly Amazing Journey

There once was a note, pure and easy,
Playing so free like a breath rippling by.
The note is eternal, I hear it, it sees me,
Forever we blend and forever we die.
--Pure and Easy, The Who

"Petey, If God is always already all, then why the elaborate process of involution and evolutionary return? Furthermore, how can I 'meet' God on His own transcendental plane, when the bulk of my knowledge and understanding comes from my interaction with the horizontal plane? And conversely, how do I maintain a stable, balanced life in the material plane when my thoughts are constantly drifting towards intellection of the higher realms?"

What say you, Petey? Any likely stories for us this morning?

My fellow Coons, in the last analysis, each of us is but a spark in the dark ever since we were tossed from the park. When we talk about "ultimate reality," we must necessarily use forms and symbols as a blind man might use a cane (to borrow a metaphor from Polanyi). This is a prominent theme in many forms of mysticism, including Orthodox Christianity, in which the Godhead is hidden in darkness within a cataphatic cloud of unknowing.

How do we adapt our inner eyes to the divine darkness, so that we do not confuse the form with the substance? What the hell, let's ask another Petey through his alter-ego, Tommy:

Deaf Dumb and blind boy
He's in a quiet vibration land
Strange as it seems his musical dreams
Ain't quite so bad.

Sickness will surely take the mind
Where minds can't usually go.
Come on the amazing journey
And learn all you should know.

Pete Townshend wrote those lines under the influence of the unorthodox Indian spiritual master Meher Baba. Until this moment, I didn't know a great deal about Baba, but according the Wikipedia entry on him, he begins his metaphysics where any sound metaphysician must, which is to say with the idea of "divine unity, the view that diverse creation, or duality, is an illusion and that the goal of life is conscious realization of the absolute Oneness of God inherent in all animate and inanimate beings and things."

In short, Baba starts with the perennial -- and necessary -- distinction between the Absolute and the relative, or what we would call "being" and "beyond being." It is also the distinction between the One and the many, or Brahman and maya, the latter of which represents on the one hand "illusion," but also power and play, or shakti and lila. For Christians it would be the difference between God's essence and energies (dynamis), while for Kabbalists it would be the difference between the Ain Sof and the Sefirtoth, or the formless Godhead and the inner form, or "blueprint" of creation.

I like this -- it's very Eckhartian: Baba "compares God's original state to an infinite, shoreless ocean which has only unconscious divinity -- unaware of itself even though there is nothing but itself. From this state, God had the 'whim' to know Himself and asked 'Who am I?'. In response to this question, creation came into existence. What was previously a still, shoreless Ocean stirred, forming innumerable 'drops' of itself..."

Why do I like this? Because it's exactly what I unsay at the beginning of the Coonifesto in so many bobscure nonwords. From our human perspective, the "within" of the cloud of unknowing looks like "nothing, pure emptiness, a formless void without mind or life, a shadow spinning before the beginning over a silent static sea, unlit altar of eternity, fathomless vortex of the Infinite Zero." It is "One brahman deathless breathing breathless, darkness visible the boundless all, unknown origin prior to time and space, fount of all being, unborn thus undying, beginning and end of all impossibility, empty plenum and inexhaustible void."

And that is That.

But wait a minute. Something stirs within the darkness of this eternal One. What's is it? It's a question:

"Who is? I AM. A wake. A lone. Hallow, noumena!"

Who knew God was a Seinfeld fan? And has Kramer's racist diatribe changed this?

In any event, as Baba says, creation -- including our womentary maninfestation -- comes into existence simultaneously with God's Infinite Question, "Who am I?" Happily, this comports with the answer Moses received within his own little cloud of unknowing atop Sinai, which was, I AM WHO I AM, but you can call me I AM for short."

What? Haim?

"No, stupid, I AM."

Oh... okay... I AM... umm, care to elaborate, because -- no offense -- but that's what I call myself.

"Yes, that is correct. Tell your fellow wandering Coons that I AM has sent me to you, and that this is my name forever, and that all subsequent generations must vertically remember this fact."

B-b-bu.... I'm not m-much of a t-talker, Lord.

"Never mind that. Who has made man's mouth, anyway? Don't sweat it. I will be with your mouth and teach you O-->(k) despite the little hitch in your verbal giddyup. And I apologize for calling you stupid. I've got a lot on my plate. This is my crazy time of yuga."

Since repetition is the mother of pedagogy, alert Coons will have gnosised that the passage above from p. 7 of One Cosmos is a holographic fractal that contains the entirety of the book and repeats itself throughout. The same story is told from slightly different angles on pp. 8, 9, 10, 13-14, and 15-17. For example, on page 8: "But it was not good that this Godhead, the Most High, should be allone, so he expired with a Big Bong and said 'let there be higher physics,' and it was zo." Or on page 9: "Only himspoph with nowhere to bewrong, hovering over the waters without a kenosis. Vishnu were here, but just His lux, God only knows only God, and frankly ishvara monotheotonous." Etc.

According to Baba, "Each soul, being formed by God's whim to know Himself, contains within itself the same desire for self-knowledge." In attempting to answer this question -- as the "Who am I?" journeys back to I AM -- we become conscious of our divinity. But in order to do this, we must overcome many illusory and anti-evolutionary mind parasites, or samskaras, along the way. This idea is presented on p. 14 of One Cosmos, when we fall into so may "jivass godlings and samskara monsters."

The spiritual path represents a reversal of this involutionary process. As the soul "begins to traverse an inner spiritual path," it "gradually eliminates all impressions which cause the appearance of separateness from God" (Baba).

And "once the sanskaras are gone, the goal of knowing itself as conscious divinity is attained. The drop soul once again becomes merged in the Ocean, that is, it realizes its true Divine indivisible and eternal nature. It has now answered the question of 'Who am I?' with 'I am God.'"

Now, I know there are many Christians who believe that this doesn't apply to them, but with minor modifications and important qualifications, it does. I don't want to get into a theological debate over the fine points, and in any event, it is not for me to say. Suffice it to say that if you wish to investigate the original Christianity of the early fathers, it is not difficult to do.

As to the second question, "how can I 'meet' God on His own transcendental plane, when the bulk of my knowledge and understanding comes from my interaction with the horizontal plane?" Again, one does so by reversing the process of involution. In short, if you find yourself in an existential hole, the first thing you must do is stop digging. Scientists can keep digging, but the way back does not -- cannot -- lie in that direction. That's fine. We have no quarrel whatsoever with scientists, so long as they do not confuse digging with climbing, you dig? In the words of Richard Weaver,

“The modernistic searcher after meaning may be likened to a man furiously beating the earth and imagining that the finer he pulverizes it, the nearer he will get to the riddle of existence. But no synthesizing truths lie in that direction. It is in the opposite direction that the path must be followed.”

Ah ha! The opposite direction! Umm, could you unsay a bit less?

Yes, back to Tommy, in whom:

Sickness will surely take the mind
Where minds can't usually go.
Come on the amazing journey
And learn all you should know.

For the spiritual seeker, "health" is a kind of spiritual sickness and sickness is a kind of spiritual health. It's paradoxable, don't you know: blessed are the poor in spirit, the last will become first, and all that jazzus.

Once again, this is indirectly undressed in pp. 252-266 of the Coonifesto, each paragraph of which deals with caterpultering your buddhafly across the phoenix line -- with how to de-part and be-wholed in the vertical. Frankly, because of our original sinatra, this is very hard to do without a little nonlocal assistance, but not to worry: in lama land there's a wise old man, and he'll goose your nous for you.

So come fly with me on the amuzing journey, where "each sensation makes a note in our symphony."

And remurmur: Do be. Do be. Do!

Listening to you,
I get the music.
Gazing at you,
I get the heat.
Following you,
I climb the mountains.
I get excitement at your feet.
--Petey Townshend

Sunday, February 04, 2007

A Rambling Post From Nowhere to Nothing

Back to those next two questions, "Does anybody else actually exist or am I just a waking dreamer, dreaming the world and all of its inhabitants into existence in order to actualize my fractured consciousness?," and "For that matter, do I even exist or am I just a scripted player in a wider dream?"

As to the first question, it is one of those many questions that are obvious to the intellect but which cannot be proven by philosophy. For example, there are many philosophers who absurdly affirm that free will does not exist, when nothing could be more self-evident to the awakened intellect than the existence of our objective and transcendent will. Without freedom, we could not know truth, and therefore, we could make no truthful statements at all, so denying free will is logically self-refuting. Nor could virtue exist, for our choice between good and evil would be an illusion. At once we would have to abolish our legal system, since it would be founded on the illusion that people are free to choose between obeying the law or breaking it.

It is possible to "prove" many sophistries with philosophy, which is why so many minds can end up shipwrecked there in a no-mind's land between the macro world of theology and the micro world of empiricism. It's not so much what you can prove with philosophy, but what you cannot disprove. For example, you cannot disprove that free will is an illusion, that other minds don't exist, or that natural selection fully accounts for human consciousness, because philosophy is not equipped to deal with things that form its basis and possibility: truth, free will, other minds, and non-genetic meaning, among others.

So there are naturally philosophers who have made the sillypsistic argument that only their own mind narcissarily exists and that the world is its dream. This represents a half-correct perversion of the true state of affairs, which is captured in the following quote by Frithjof Schuon:

"The truth of the Cartesian cogito ergo sum is, not that it presents thought as the proof of being, but simply that it enunciates the primacy of thought -- hence of consciousness or intelligence -- in relation to the material world which surrounds us." Now read carefully, Coons: "Certainly, it is not our personal thought which preceded the world, but it was -- or is -- absolute Consciousness, of which our thought is precisely a distant reflection; our thought which reminds us -- and proves to us -- that in the beginning was the Spirit."

There is a sizeable area where "bad philosophy" meets with the leftist impulse to deny human nature in order to create their notmore utopia, because all leftist ideas originally hatched from the unfertile egghead of some cracked philosopher. But the yolk is always on us, because teaching people that free will is an illusion is a sure way to lay more beastly bad eggs on the public. In short, if you argue that humans are less than human -- or set up a system of disincentives toward becoming human -- pretty soon you will have a world of infrahumans.

A fine example is the so-called "Palestinans." Now, a normal person would naturally ask the question: what must a people do to prove to the world that they are not deserving of a state, unless that state is called "Subhumanistan?" (Pronounced Sub-huMANistan.) For fifty years liberals have excused these Arabs of the obligation to elevate themselves to the human plane, which is precisely why they have created such a comprehensively infrahuman hell on earth.

If I were president, I would simply say: "you are beasts -- which is to say humans reduced to a state of nature -- so the best we can offer you at this time is a cage. However, should your population begin to show rudimentary signs of humanness, then we might talk about a state. But monsters are not 'given' a state. They are given Nobel Prizes. Monsters only take states, and this is something we cannot allow you to do, any more than we intend to solve our crime problem by turning San Quentin prison into the 51st state of the union."

There would be no reason to waste a single moment arguing with someone over the question of free will, because freedom is lived, not arrived at inductively or deductively. All serious spiritual seekers understand the meaning of the phrase, individuality is freedom lived.

Now, the fact that most people squander their freedom and live their lives as if they were a machine or computer does not detract from the reality of the situation. I was thinking about this the other day, with regard to something as mundane as my Blogger profile. There I have a partial list of my biggest influences, my favorite music, etc. You may click any of them and discover who else in the Blogger world shares your interests.

Here, let's give it a try. Let's start with the enigmatic Scott Walker, who is little known to the public but has an intense cult following based mainly upon four brilliantly eccentric albums he made between 1967 and 1970. I see that quite a few fellow bloggers are members of the cult. A lot of weirdos, I might add.

Likewise, I am gratified to see that many Bloggers apparently understand that Buck Owens was hardly the grinning doofus of Hee Haw fame, but one of the great innovators of country music, especially between 1960 and 1966, when he single-handedly defied the bland Nashville conventions and forged the magnificent twin-telecaster, locomotive Bakersfield sound.

But I'll but you a dollar that if you go through all the names, there is not a single overlap between the Scott Walker people and the Buck Owens people. That alone makes me an individual as unique as my DNA. Or take the handful of philosophical, psychological, and theological influences. Only three people come up for Melanie Klein, one other person for Allan Schore, none at all for Matte Blanco or Whitehead. Add all my influences together, and the chance of someone sharing the same ones would be billions to one. Someone once referred to reading as "the mystery school of individuation." How much more is this true of the internet, which allows us to "fine Coon" our individuality in ways never before possible?

In short, whether for good or for ill, there is no question that I am alarmingly "unique," in a strictly value-free sense of the term (I am not making any special claim for myself, as this is probably true of all Coons -- the only "species" that consists of unique individuals as opposed to a "type"). And as a matter of fact, I am quite aware of this uniqueness. When I was a young kit -- especially because the uniqueness existed in potential but was not actualized -- it was a source of pain, because naturally I wanted to be like "the others."

Even now, when people meet me, there is good chance that they will walk away from the encounter mumbling to themselves, "Hmm. Never met anyone like that before." For some -- for Coons -- hanging with Dear Leader would be a positive experience. But for the non-coon world, there is no question that contact with me would be an irritant or a puzzle, unless I specifically rein it in -- as all Coons must do in order to make their way through the sub-Coon world.

Now, the other day I mentioned the "celestialization," or vertical globalization, that will have to accompany horizontal globalization. I am going to talk about this despite the odious Mr. Pibb's request that I do so. In the absence of this vertical globalization, I see no hope for man -- or at least no hope that human beings will achieve their potential and become who they were meant to be. As you can see from my own little example of myself, no government or collective could possibly confer my uniqueness upon me. Rather, they can only limit it or take it away entirely, which is precisely the problem in what Barnett calls the "non-integrating gap" of the world, including Islam.

As Barnett explains, once your nation connects to the functioning core of the world, you no longer have control of the "content flow" into your country, and this is a big problem for the infrahuman who is only prevented from acting out by strict top-down control of information content. In America, we are so accustomed to having total access to all information, that most of us can handle the content flow that comes with globalization.

But not everyone. There is a reason why access to porn remains the primary use of Al Gore's magnificent invention. In other words, if there are literally millions of Americans who cannot handle the information flow of globalization without being sucked into a world of infrahuman compulsion, imagine the catastrophic effect on a culture that thinks a two-piece bathing suit consists of a burqa and a snorkel? Frankly, if the internet were available when I was a young punk (which in Joey's case was a term of endearment, BTW), I do wonder what the effect would have been on my soul.

Nevertheless, as a result of globalization, never before have human beings had more of an opportunity to realize their unique potential and become who they are. But how many people take advantage of this? Relative to the total, I would say very few. But in my spiritual system, an absolute prerequisite of real spiritual growth is to first become who you are, otherwise, ipso facto, you are someone else. And the entire Islamic world is invested in preventing people from becoming who they are, which is why freedom must be rejected at all costs.

The only world-historical purpose of our liberation of Iraq can be the vertical liberation of a small part of the Islamic world, so that they might have the intoxicating experience of living their individuality. Once this happens, it cannot be put back in the bottle -- as in the case of Gorbachev's attempts to save the communist system through Glasnost, or "openness." Openness is incompatible with any form of leftist (or religious) mind control, so the whole system rapidly collapsed.

This is why economic liberty is far more important than political liberty to vertical globalization. This is obvious if you consider your own life, in which your liberty is "lived" on a moment-by-moment basis in the free market, what with the countless little decisions you make every day. Meaningful political liberty arises not through abstract ideas, but through the experience of living one's economic freedom.

This is also why leftism is always against the Cosmic Law, because it always limits our ability to discover and live the unique idiom of our freedom in the open system of natural liberty. And this is why leftism always arrives gland-in-hand with totalitarianism, whether in its "hard" form or in "flaccid" forms such as political correctness, campus speech codes, the education system in general, and the stupifying worlds of the MSM and a so-called "entertainment" industry which mainly functions to magnify ugliness and depravity, disregard beauty and virtue, and eclipse any dimensions beyond the animal-human lowbrid. One way or the other, you must always bend over forwards to accomodate leftism.

Well, I had better sign off. As part of my Total Slack Retrieval System™, I actually work seven days a week. That is, instead of doing a lot of work five days, I do a little every day, and then knock off early. That way my Sabbath arrives every afternoon and I don't really require vacations because I make sure to rejewvenate every day.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Radical Wonder and the Remystification of the World

The first ascertainment which should impose itself upon man when he reflects on the nature of the Universe is the primacy of that miracle that is intelligence -- or consciousness or subjectivity -- and consequently the incommensurability between these and material objects, be it a question of a grain of sand or of the sun, or of any creature whatever as an object of the senses. --F. Schuon

Even a Coon has his limits, and I find myself coming up against mine, for if I could only find the words to express what it is I want to say about the miracle of subjectivity, I could reproduce the presence of Presence in my readers, and that would be that. Which is to say, that.

Without a doubt, the most awesome mystery in this cosmos -- without which there could not be a cosmos -- is the question of how existence became experience, and then, in human beings, doubled back upon itself and became the experience of experience. The fact that humans are, by and large, insufficiently astonished by this miracle, suggests to me that many of us have barely begun the ongoing task of lifting ourselves from the matrix of our animal consciousness.

Unfortunately, scientists can be the worst of the bunch. There is a type of "thin" but piercing intelligence that is prized in the western world, but which causes us to end up with a Daniel Dennett or Sam Harris and even grant them the title of "philosopher." Along these lines, yesterday I was alerted to almost inedible article entitled God and Gorillas (tail wiggle: Netwing), about what animals can supposedly tell us about religion. It was so painfully stupid that I couldn't stop wincing:

"Every human culture has believed in spirits, gods or some other divine being. But many scientists are coming up with their own, decidedly secular, theories about the origins of faith.... [O]ver the last few years, a small cottage industry made up of scientists and philosophers has devoted itself to demystifying the divine. Take Daniel Dennett, the philosopher who has proposed that religion is a meme -- an idea that evolved like a virus -- that infected our ancestors and continued to spread throughout cultures.... [A]nthropologist Pascal Boyer argues that religious belief is a quirky byproduct of a brain that evolved to detect predators and other survival needs.... And British biologist Lewis Wolpert... posits that religion developed once hominids understood cause and effect, which allowed them to make complex tools. Once they started to make causal connections, they felt compelled to explain life's mysteries. Their brains, in essence, turned into 'belief engines.'

"That's what makes [anthropologist] Barbara J. King... so unique.... [H]er main insights about the origins of religion come not from researching humans' deep history, but from observing very much alive non-human primates.... [W]e can trace back the origins of our religious impulse... to our ancient ancestors millions of years ago. And today, King says, we can see the foundations of religious behavior in chimpanzees and gorillas; watching our distant cousins can do much to explain the foundations of our own beliefs."

Of course, all of these approaches to religion represent stupidity on stilts: "if you want to understand spirit, don't watch and pray, just watch predators and prey." The idea that our understanding of religion could be supplemented by observing gorillas at the zoo is just so preposterous that one hardly knows how to respond except to say, "fine. If it works for you, go nuts. As long as no animals are harmed in the process. Whatever gets you through the night."

The operative passage above refers to the "small cottage industry made up of scientists and philosophers [which] has devoted itself to demystifying the divine." I say this because these people reflexively equate "demystifying" with "understanding." But when it comes to the Divine, to demystify it is to misunderstand it, precisely. For mystery is not the content of ignorance but a mode of understanding. It is to the serious seeker what curiosity is to the scientist. If these benighted scientists wish to experience God, they are approaching the subject in a manner that is guaranteed to seal their ignorance. They must follow the mystery, but first they must experience it.

Science aims at the demystification of the world, whereas religion aims at its remystification. Both approaches produce real knowledge, but only so long as the mode of understanding is adequate to the subject. And please, if you are a troll who thinks I am somehow "anti-science," please go away. I have no idea what serendipshitous cosmic winds blew you into Coonworld, but you have no business here. My writing is not intended for you, any more than your comments in any way reach me.

Now, the notion that animals live in a state of "mystery" about the world is just plain foolishness. They have only experience, not the experience of experience, which is to say mystery. Animals may look mysterious to us, but the feeling is not mutual. Only humans, upon becoming human, can awaken to the perpetual mystery that is. It is what distinguishes us from lower animals, not that which unites us. The religious person wishes to preserve and extend this mystery, not extinguish it. To conflate this quintessentially human epistemological mode with "ignorance" -- with a defect or deficit -- again represents a kind of breathtaking metaphysical perversion.

If you do not acknowledge the human thirst for mystery, two things will happen to your soul. First, you will search for it in inappropriate ways. You will "mystify" something that is not worthy of the name, and then pursue it as a sort of substitute religion. It can be literally anything, so long as you are "entranced" by it. The second thing that will happen is that you will become increasingly insensate to the real mystery, which is much more subtle than its many substitutes.

When you have successfully demystified the world, your soul is officially dead. This is why it is a chore for me to read the words of the scientists referenced above, for these are dead men talking. It is as wearying as communist or leftist boilerplate dogma that explains everything, and therefore, nothing. It is such a ham-handed and oblivious misuse of language, that it offends the sensibility of someone with even a rudimentary acquaintance with spirit. It is also a kind of psychic "bullying," trying to push people around with coarse and blunt language that is entirely disproportionate and inappropriate to its subject -- like an illiterate boob talking about Shakespeare.

I'm trying to think of an example that even a materialist with a blunted sensibility might understand. For many people who have successfully demystified the world, the only time they are able to unwittingly appreciate the sacred is when they are directly confronted with it in its most vivid form: death, the birth of a child, marriage, etc. Imagine being so spiritually insensate that you had the courage of your convictions and successfully drained the world of its sacred dimension. Upon the death of a loved one, you would simply put them in the garbage. After all, it's just a sack of meat. The birth of a child would be no different than termites hatching in your backyard. Marriage wouldn't exist, because there would be no recognition of the sacred dimension of male and female sexuality. Euthanasia would not just be legal, but mandatory, on grounds of common sense -- as would the abortion of youth in Asia -- as in China.

Believe it or not, there are people who more or less experience the world this way. But we do not call them "enlightened" or more in touch with reality than the rest of us. Rather, we call them schizoid or autistic.

As a matter of fact, not too long ago I conducted a psychological evaluation of such an individual. He had what is known as a Schizoid Personality Disorder. I won't get into all of the psychodynamics and etiology of this condition, but the end result is a kind of soul deadness which may leave the person's ability for dealing with matter entirely undamaged. Rather, their problems are all in the realm of intersubjectivity. In his case, he had no difficulty functioning on his technical, "scientific" job. However, he could not form deep and satisfying relationships because he could not "connect" with another person "interior to interior," only "exterior to exterior" -- which quickly becomes bizarre, because it means exile from the human world, which is an interior world.

This particular person was married and even had three children, but his own family members were more like "objects" than subjects to him. Not surprisingly, his outer affect was "depressed," but he did not have a clinical depression per se. For example, antidepressants would do nothing to help such an individual. Rather, his hollow and flat affect was simply an artifact of his inner detachment and absence of interpersonal passion. Yes, he was in pain, but the pain was more of a dull "absence" than an acute presence. He had no idea what was causing the presence of this painful absence. And it is very difficult to treat such an individual, because they are specifically detached from the mode of cure -- which is a relationship with the therapist. They can take in "information" from the therapist, but they cannot internalize the relationship, which is their whole problem in a nutshell.

It is also the whole problem with the spiritually autistic scientific approach to religion, for religion is not an exterior relationship between two objects, nor between a subject and an object. Rather, it is a passionate relationship between a subject and the Subject -- the Subject of subjectivity, as it were. The transitional space in which this relationship takes place is imbued with mystery, which again, is not to say ignorance, but a mode of knowledge that both deepens and extends. It is not an absence of light, but a kind of dark light that is only visible to the open soul. For example, it was within this living space that the entire corpus of Bach was produced and to which it stands as living testimony: Soli Deo Gloria. But I suppose Bach represents "musical ignorance."

Now I ask you. If religion represents a realm of "ignorance," how is it possible for a Coon to spend his life in relationship to a Subject that does not exist, all the while deepening his ignorance in a very precise and methodical way? I will speak only of myself. Over the past dozen years in particular, my spiritual understanding -- at least as far as I am concerned -- has deepened exponentially, and continues to do so. Otherwise I could not "share" this understanding and reproduce it in others (and they in me). Bear in mind that I do not say knowledge, but understanding, two very different things, for one can be full of religious knowledge (k) and yet have no understanding (O-->k).

But is it possible to deeply understand something which does not exist? No, it is not. All you would be deepening is your ignorance -- or, if you are very sick, your delusions.

Let us stipulate that either this new gang of militant atheists "understands" something about spirit, or that we do. Furthermore, let us agree that either they are deepening their ignorance of spirit, or we are. But let us also remember Blake's aphorism, Truth can never be told so as to be understood and not believed. Or, as Terence McKenna put it, "If the truth can be told so as to be understood, it will be believed."

How do you help someone rid themselves of their inappropriate knowledge so that they might understand and therefore believe?

The essence of the real is the banal or the trivial, the scientists and other pseudo-realists seem to say. To which we would answer: the essence of the real is the miraculous; the miracle of consciousness, intelligence, knowledge. In the beginning was, not matter, but Spirit, which is the Alpha and the Omega.. --F. Schuon

Friday, February 02, 2007

Vertical Globalization and the Further Adventures of Consciousness

When I began this blog, I had the idea that instead of doing what the 55 million other blogs do -- most of them poorly, but some of them infinitely better than the MSMistry of Truth -- I would "reverse figure and ground" and be the one blog that looks at the news of the day from the standpoint of eternity. It's actually difficult to define what is meant by the term "news," but whatever it is, it tends to obsessively isolate the "now" and focus all of its attention on the passing moment, almost unavoidably elevating the media-created "tempest of the day" well beyond its importance.

The whole idea of the hysterical "news culture" would have been foreign to our primitive furbears. I'm not saying that they were right and that we are deviants, but if you go back just a few hundred years, I believe you'll find that people did live within a "psycho-spiritual container" fundamentally different than ours. It is tempting for some people to romanticize that time as "normative" for humans, and to a certain extent it was, for it meant that life was lived at a much more natural pace and within specifically human (as opposed to infrahuman and materialistic) frames of reference. This is something, for example, that Orthodox Jews or the Amish attempt to resurrect today in their isolated little communities -- a sacred worldspace in which life is lived in the light of the eternal. "News," whatever it is, represents something of an "impurity" in this space, unless it pertains directly to the inherent (and sacred) rhythms of life: birth, marriage, illness, death, etc.

In fact, it is not stretching the point to say that this represents the underlying basis of World War IV, the war on radical Islam. This is the theme of Thomas Barnett's so-far brilliant book, The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-first Century. Unfortunately, I have very little time to read these days, so I'm only up to page 63 of a somewhat lengthy book, but Barnett is a four-dimensional visionary thinker who is neither left nor right (more of a classical liberal) but very creative. The book is full of casually tossed off insights -- in my opinion, because he is operating out of a clear vision and simply describing what he sees there. As with my own vision, it may or may not be correct (some details are inevitably going to be wrong in any visionary system), but he gives us a way to see beyond the cognitively stultifying "news," think about the deeper structure of the now, and imagine "a future worth living."

Barnett's main insight is that the forces of globalization have created what he calls a "functioning core" of the world (the U.S., Western Europe, Japan, etc.) alongside an "unintegrated gap" that feels threatened by globalization and is actively resisting it -- violently if necessary. Likewise, the whole basis of the Cold War was that a large chunk of the world -- the communist world -- was an unintegrated gap that did not want to join the core, not for "sacred" reasons but for ideological ones.

Now, this whole dichotomy is distressing to a Coon, who obviously sympathizes with the forces of modernity and globalization, but who also fully understands (while not excusing) what would motivate someone from a traditional culture to violently resist it. Take, for example, our own Sectarian Conflict, which involved the identical pattern. Irrespective of the issue of slavery, the North represented the forces of globalization while the South represented an unintegrated gap within the United States that wished to remain separate and preserve a way of life that it clearly regarded as "sacred." For them, the life of the North was not worth living.

Indeed, this is what made men who would never be wealthy enough to own slaves fight and die by the tens of thousands. I am hardly a Civil War historian, let alone a buff, but I believe it is accurate to say that Southerners regarded the Northern army as a bunch of dishonorable mercenaries fighting for a subhuman cause. Because slavery has come to overshadow everything else, contemporary liberals have made it blasphemous to say that there was anything worthwhile about the antebellum South. This contemptuous attitude prevails today, in that our liberal elites -- think of John Kerry, or Chris Matthews, or primitive New York Timesman, or liberals in general -- simply cannot help registering their condescension toward the South and what it represents.

One of the things the South represents is the willingness to die for flag and country. Liberals routinely throw out the canard that the armed forces are disproportionately black and poor, but I am fairly certain that this is incorrect (I don't have time to personally look up the statistics). Rather, the military is disproportionately southern, for reasons that should be obvious if you give it a moment's thought.

It reminds me of something the immortal Duane Allman once said. Someone asked him what it felt like to be at the vanguard of this new fad of "Southern rock." He responded with words to the effect that this term was a a redundancy -- instead of "Southern rock," one might just as well say "rock rock," since its development was -- and only could have been -- a wholly Southern phenomenon: Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Buddy Holly, Wanda Jackson, the Everly Brothers, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Bobby Bland, James Brown, T-Bone Walker, Little Richard, etc. Rock music originated in an "unintegrated cultural gap" that was generally unknown to the North. Music executives famously regarded it as artistically vacuous, if not offensive, and unworthy of the imprimatur of a respectable record label.

Now, 50 years on, the North has more or less succeeded in swallowing up this precious cultural expression, long since converting it to a mere commodity , which is what globalization does. You might even say that "Northerrn rock" represents the bland corporate substitute that extends from Pat Boone through disco, Madonna, MTV, death metal, rap and hip hop.

Rightly or wrongly, Muslims know that the tide of globalization will do the identical thing to their own culture and way of life. Thus, the unintegrated Muslim gap resists becoming part of of the functioning core.

As I mentioned yesterday, both the Left and Islamism represent pathological adaptations to the conditions of modernity and globalization. In the case of the Islamists it is self-evident, perhaps less so in the case of the Left. Scratch a leftist, and he will hire John Edwards and sue you. But scratch a little deeper, and what will you find? In a previous post entitled Political Seance, I wrote that

"In one version of history, the 'secular revolt' may be traced to the alienation and disenchantment caused by the scientific and industrial revolutions in the 17th and 18th centuries.... There was a deep sense that the organic unity of the world had been fractured -- a widespread perception of a sort of breach with the natural order of things, and with it, a collective mourning over the loss of timeless and familiar ways and customs. The romantic movement of the early 19th century was actually a reactionary and nostalgic yearning for an idyllic past, answering to the sense of loss of community and oneness with the rhythms of nature. This backward looking movement idealized the primitive and sought to unleash the subjective and irrational passions (countering the rational and objective detachment of science).

"Up to this time, one's personal identity had been based on such objective standards as a clearly defined role within an organic hierarchy or merger with a large extended clan. With modernity, this gave way to an uncertain identity that had to be forged for oneself in the world. The philosopher Charles Taylor (see his magisterial Sources of the Self) calls this 'an epistemological revolution with anthropological consequences,' as it led to a new kind of human being that had never before existed on a mass scale: the modern, self-defining subject in a world devoid of intrinsic meaning.

"Virtually all modern ideologies, movements and philosophies are somehow aimed at addressing this problem of alienation, of recapturing the broken unity of the world. Communism, nazism, European fascism, the beat movement, the hippie movement, the free love movement, the environmental movement, the new age movement -- all are futile attempts to turn back the clock and return to a mystical union with the 'volk,' with nature, with the proletariat, with the instincts. You can see this phenomenon in today's leftists, who clearly long for the 'magical' 1960's, which represented a high water mark for a resurgence of romantic merger with the group, free expression of the primitive, and idealized notions of recreating heaven on earth....

"We can see how contemporary liberalism fits the bill as a bogus cure for modern alienation. For example, multiculturalism devalues the concept of the individual in favor of the ethnic group, while socialism in all its forms favors the large and powerful mommy state that unites us all.... Leftists are uncomfortable with the painful idea of competition, but replace it with the notion of individual expressiveness. Everyone's natural impulses are beautiful, and we must not judge them, much less try to elevate them. Deconstruction throws all objective meaning into question, so no one has to have the disappointing experience of being wrong or denied tenure, no matter how stupid one's ideas. The burden of personal responsibility is attenuated, because one's being is determined by accidental factors such as race, class and gender, not one's owns values, decisions and actions. Skillful knowledge acquired by intense effort (or just being born smarter) is replaced by an obnoxious, hypertrophied adolescent skepticism that knows only how to question but not to learn. It is grounded in a sort of bovine materialism that is not the realm of answers, but the graveyard of meaningful questions. The primitive is idealized, because it is within everyone's reach."


I apologize for the length of this post. Believe it or not, it is all a preface to Anonymous' next two questions, "Does anybody else actually exist or am I just a waking dreamer, dreaming the world and all of its inhabitants into existence in order to actualize my fractured consciousness?," and "For that matter, do I even exist or am I just a scripted player in a wider dream?" My rambling overchore was prompted by another comment left by Anonymous yesterday, who clarified his reasons for asking these two questions. He spoke of a common spiritual transformation in which you might say that he is beginning to "reverse figure and ground" and recognize the reality of the vertical:

"The first time this transformation really hit me was when I was walking down the street. I began to see the people I passed as manifestations of something great. As infinite 'bubbles' of potential divinity within the sea of material manifestation. As pockets of verticality infused into an otherwise horizontal world.... Of course, I didn't actually 'see' this with my eyes. The visual component of the 'seeing' experience was unchanged. But it was as if I were able to perceive a deeper truth, beyond what my could eyes could detect.

"A few weeks later... I received an influx of what you would call 'O' or intellection or grace.... This experience is best described as a pure knowledge or realization that 'I' alone exist. That all other people and experiences are actually just a different perspective on the same experience that is 'I'.... Since this realization, I wake each day, and I fundamentally know that both my psycho-physical self and the physical world around me is just a hollow shell of What Is True.

"It has been tempting to indulge in this realization by dropping out of the 'shell reality' altogether.... Candidly, I am somewhat concerned that this new perspective is dissociative, delusional, fixated, narcissistic, solipsistic or otherwise pathological."


Now, the important question is, how do we tie all of this together before Future Leader wakes up?

As I mentioned at the top of this post, one of the original purposes of this blog was to "reverse figure and ground" and consider the news of the day from the standpoint of eternity -- which is actually what all religion is designed to give you a framework to do. Another way of saying it is that religion is all about thinking and living within the vertical, while not denying the horizontal but sacralizing it.

On the other hand, the forces of modernity -- globalization, the advance of science and technology, the loss of tradition -- seem to involve a tide of pure horizontality that severs man from his vertical roots. How to reconcile this with our Coon nature?

One can be a strong advocate of globalization (as I am) and still see its downside. On the one hand, it has produced this bland and shallow dominant culture of vulgar secular leftist materialism. But at the same time, for a Coon, life has never been richer. We have instant access to all art, all literature and philosophy, all music, all sacred writings, all films, basically everything, in a way undreamt of in the past. And yet, most people just fritter away this liberty on McDonalds, The New York Times, American Idol, video games, and other banalities.

If man is to survive in any recognizable form -- if we are to create a future worth living -- I passionately believe that our horizontal globalization must be matched by a vertical globalization. Since this post has gone on long enough, I will discuss this further tomorrow. Suffice it to say that the relentless horizontal daydream of globalization must be supplemented by the night logic of wideawake vertical dreamers in order to create a future fit for man. Religion must play a part in this future, but not the primitive religiosity of the Islamists or the postmodern barbarism of the Sam Harrises and Daniel Dennetts of the world, whose hollow ideology is merely a parasitic shadow of the vertical.

You might say that globalization must be accompanied by celestialization.


Speaking of pathological reactions to modernity, a wonderful article on the religion of radical environmentalism, A Necessary Apocalypse.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Voidgin Boyths, Iamacculate Coonceptions, and Speaking Obonics (2.01.09)

In order to novelgaze at a fresh world everyday, one must train oneself -- wait, that's too general. I will speak only of myself.

In order for me to blog something different about the good nous every day, I have had to train myself to listen more carefully to the smallstool voice of Petey, who is actually dropping little flagrant pellets of wisdom all the time. In fact, one of the helpful tidbits he shared with me is that he has always been sharing these helpful tidbits with me, but that I was so "dense" that I treated them like turdbits.

And when I say "dense" I mean dense, as in "dense." One must learn to "tune into" the remarkable subtlety of one's own mind, which truly has a mind of its own, just like the Dreamer who dreams your dreams. The difference, say, between a common materialist and a man of genuine spiritual achievement is merely a few immeasurable microns of psychic subtlety.

I can say this because my mind is -- pretty much by definition -- no more intelligent than it has ever been, and yet, much more subtle than it has ever been, in the sense of being able to see and understand spiritual realities. As a result, I "know" things today that I couldn't possibly have known 10 or 15 years ago. But at the same time -- at risk of smelling blasfumy -- Christ himself couldn't have taught me these things back then. They could have been handed to me on a silver platter, but I would have rejected them with a silvery platitude. The seed would have fallen on my dry rockhead.

When most spiritual types talk about eliminating "the ego," it always strikes me as just so much new age pneumababble. They don't know what they're talking about, because you can no more live without an ego than you can live without a brain. What we call the ego is simply your psychic "center of gravity" at any given moment, and it is actually a good thing to be aware this center (more often than not, a person is mentally ill precisely because they lack such a center, for mind parasites are "attractors" with their own chaotically shifting centers in the fabric of consciousness; furthermore, these individuals often confuse having no homogeneous center with having transcended the ego).

Having said that, our center can be wide or narrow, shallow or deep, dense or subtle, and those are the real issues. In my opinion, all this new age talk of "ego" must result from some kind of misunderstanding or mistranslation of the original Buddhist, Hindu, and Taoist texts.

For me, it is much more meaningful to discuss it in terms of the shift in perspective that takes place when our psychic center transitions from the exterior/horizontal to the interior/vertical. This is, broadly speaking, what we would call being "born again from above." Thus, we don't so much eliminate the ego as give it a new life and a new orientation. You can give it a new name if you like, but obviously there is some continuity with the old you. In a certain sense, it is merely the "real you," minus all the cultural, familial, and other accretions.

For that is something else I've have noticed. As my "thinking" has become more complex and subtle, I myself have grown increasingly "simple." The always excellent Lee Harris has spoken of how it took him some 30 years to unlearn the nonsense he learned in the course of his higher education, in order to once again be able to think clearly. I understand exactly what he means.

In a a brief article entitled Good is Bad, Stanley Kurtz "reviews" a bizarre book review of an anthology called Why I Turned Right: Leading Baby Boom Conservatives Chronicle Their Political Journeys. The original book review was written by a Jacobin rascal coincidentally named Russell Jacoby, who criticizes the book on the grounds that it is clear and well-written:

“'Almost without exception,' Jacoby begins, 'each essay is lucid and articulate.... Would it be possible to assemble a countercollection by leftists that would be equally limpid?' 'Unlikely,' Jacoby answers. The leftist professorate, he admits, 'distrusts clear prose as superficial.... On the basis of this volume, conservatives are excellent writers -- and facile thinkers. Perhaps the two go together.'”

There are huge differences between being clear about complex ideas ("Right"), being obscure or confused about simplistic or kooky ones ("Left"), attacking cognitive links in order to dismantle meaning ("psychotic"), superimposing fantasized meaning onto the world ("paranoid"), and using unsaturated language in such a way that you attempt to "reproduce" a spiritual experience in another ("Up," "Coonspeak," or "Obonics"). In fact, the reader who alerted me to this article actually accused Dear Leader, of all people, of falling into the category of the academonic leftist who writes in a needlessly complicated manner about a subject -- presumably spirituality -- that is inherently simple. If so, one can only wonder why he would waste his time trying to unravel my mystagogic Bobscurities?

No. My writing is not the least bit complex. Rather, it is very precise, and makes perfect nonsense so long as you understand Obonics. However, as touched on above, there is a real challange involved in trying to utilize language in such a manner that you "reproduce" not just empirical facts -- which is easy -- but a spiritual experience in another. How do you do that with language? I'm not saying that I always succeed; however, I know for a fact that I sometimes do, for many readers have told me so.

Back when I was more of a garden-variety intellectual, I was full of all kinds of "ruling ideas" and dogmas -- all of the things people think are true because other important people think they're true, so you end up thinking thoughts that were actually manufactured elsewhere, in someone else's mind. But as Satprem, a sadhak of Sri Aurobindo's yoga, wrote, "Clearly, if we want to discover a new country within us, we must first leave the old one behind -- everything depends on our determination in taking this first step."

This first step is also the last step and every step in between, for, in the words of Aurobindo, "fitness and unfitness are only a way of speaking; man is unfit and a misfit (so far as spiritual things are concerned) -- in his outward nature. But within there is a soul and above there is a Grace. This is all you know or need to know.

A soul behind and a grace above. What could be more simple? But simple hardly means simplistic, much less easy, for recognizing and living within this simple truth is the ongoing task of the spiritual life. To "transcend" or "eliminate" the ego really comes down to identifying with the wider reality to which the exteriorizing ego attaches itself.

As I mentioned, I have seen this occur in my own being, as I have gradually given up "thinking" for something that feels quite different. Perhaps Will touched on it yesterday, in his most excellent and luminous comment about the two types of creativity and their analogy to the Divine creativity. It is well worth reading in its entirety, but I wanted to focus on the second type of creativity, which

"does not involve the sense of 'creative build-up and release'. In fact, it's almost a 'give it or take it' creativity -- it's the kind of creativity characterized by the term 'not-doing'. The effortless effort, not there one second, there the next second, no explosion. Henry Miller's early 'Tropic' works, I think, are a good example of the compulsive, build-up and explode type of creativity. His later writings, such as Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymous Bosch -- in which Miller turned to attention fully to spiritual matters -- are a good example of the quiet, serene, effortless effort type of creativity...

"Early Beethoven -- compulsive build-up/explosion creativity. Beethoven's late string quartets -- definitely effortless effort, very Zen. One thing that makes them so beautiful is the feeling that Beethoven could just as easily *not* have composed them. Shakespeare, too -- though the plays are replete with fury and emotion, there is something eerily detached about them that suggests that they were 'breathed into existence', not exploded into being.

"Eckhart once said in a sermon... something to the effect that when God created the cosmos, He actually didn't *do* anything. Enigmatic, yes, but I think it suggests that the Godhead's creativity was and is, at root, the 'effortless effort'. On the plane of being, this creativity is the most transcendent.

"There are those who will tell you that 'not-being' informs 'being' at every moment, which is what makes existence so beautiful.

"Anyway, I think the transcendent, less ego-individualistic, 'effortless effort' artist will eventually become the ideal. That, in turn, will reflect on our perspective of the Creator's divine nature."

Yes, yes, and yes. In short, "yes." I believe this second type of creativity is analogous to the "virgin birth," of the immaculate conceptions that occur as a result of our soul's feminine receptivity to vertical influences: A soul behind and a grace above, is all you know or need to know. As Molly Bloom -- the archetypal feminine -- says in her interior dialogue at the conclusion of Ulysses, as she relinquishes the ego and falls into sleep -- the brother of death: and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.

Now now, keep it clean. Seed, soil, conception, birth. As above, so below. It might as well be Saint Teresa. Same story in a different context. In any event, if you wish to give your consciousness a wider berth, you must learn to say yes to the Divine Influx.

I wanted to get to the next two questions, "Does anybody else actually exist or am I just a waking dreamer, dreaming the world and all of its inhabitants into existence in order to actualize my fractured consciousness?," and "For that matter, do I even exist or am I just a scripted player in a wider dream?" But unfortunately, Future Leader is sick again, this time summoning the earl from both ends. As a result, the wheels have effectively come off the usually peaceful Dawn which is normally so friendly to the amusing muses. Petey can only be seen in this obscure nightlight, and now he's gone for the day. Thus, we will have to get into the question of waking dreams and dreaming lives tomorrow. In the meantime, do try to be lucid as you sleepwalk through your daydream.