Saturday, September 22, 2007

Bush Hatred and the Eternal Silence of the Infinite Spaces

To review, the psychoanalyst Ignacio Matte Blanco begins with Freud's model of the unconscious, which is characterized by 1) eternity (or timelessness), 2) spacelessness, 3) symbolism, 4) non-contradiction, and 5) non-distinction between imagination and reality.

However, Matte Blanco, who was also a mathematician, realized that these characteristics were necessary consequences of the kind of logic employed by the unconscious mind, which is to say, symmetrical logic. You might say that this is the logic of the timeless world of eternity, whereas Aristotelian ("asymmetrical") logic only applies to the more limited temporal world.

For example, in the asymmetrical world, it is not possible for two objects to occupy the same space. But in the unconscious mind? No problemo. There, your husband can be your mother, a government can be a bountiful breast, or President Bush can be Hitler.

Likewise, as we discussed a couple days ago, in the unconscious mind, "time travel" is as easy as failing off a blog. One of the most vivid clinical cases I've seen of this involved a man who had been shot in the abdomen in an attempted robbery about a decade before. He thought he had forgotten all about it, until one day at work a couple of coworkers decided to play a practical joke on him. One of them aimed a metal tube at him, as if he were holding a rifle. The other coworker slapped together a couple of two-by-fours, creating a loud cracking noise that happened to sound just like gunfire.

The patient reacted just as if he had been shot. He looked down and literally saw blood flowing from his abdomen. He became agitated, and an ambulance had to be called. He was actually taken to the ER, and only after being given a strong anxiolytic did "the past" recede from the present. But for 30 to 45 minutes, the past and present were completely interpenetrating, pulling him down into an infinite terror.

This is simply a vivid example of what happens to us all on a moment by moment basis. The past and present are constantly conflated on a deep unconscious level, which accounts for so much of the richness of being. But it also accounts for virtually all psychopathology, which you might say consists not of unpleasant memories that we recall, but unpleasant memories which recall us.

This happened to me just yesterday afternoon. I'm not even sure what provoked it. It could have been a song I was listening to from my high school daze, or the first feelings of fall, or the smell of rain, or the lower angle of the sun, but something triggered an unpleasant flood of nameless emotion. I couldn't put my finger on what it was or what was causing it, but it lasted for a couple of hours. It definitely had an unconscious quality though, because it came from outside time and had a kind of depth that can only come from the symmetrical unconscious, which always has qualities of the infinite. When it's good, you call it joy, or bliss, or ananda, but when it's bad, you call it the nameless dread.

I'm sure you've all felt the bottomless and unending nameless dread. When I was younger I used to feel it from time to time in the middle of the night. I'd wake up and feel as if all my familiar psychological landmarks had vanished, so to speak. Instead, I was wrapped in the eternal silence of the infinite spaces, as Pascal called it -- "the infinite immensity of spaces of which I know nothing and which know nothing of me."

Naturally, it felt like an "external" space, but it was in internal space merely projected outward. In reality, there is no outer space, only inner space projected. A lot of people who are obsessed with extra-terrestrial life are merely inside-out psychoanalysts, treating fantasized objects as if they come from the outside rather than the inside. For example, when I was in that unpleasant state, I might imagine a burglar trying to break in my window. Mrs. G used to imagine a nuclear holocaust.

In hindsight, it is also obvious to me now how my very first heartbreak at 17 reasonated in an infinite way with the loss of Eden that Robin was discussing the other day. I wasn't just alone, but infintely so. Furthermore, I always would be. Thank God for Joseph Coors, who was there when I needed him.

Usually, the deeper the emotion, the more it partakes of symmetrical logic. For example, Matte Blanco noticed that a large part of the pain of psychosis is that emotions are raised to a kind of infinite fever pitch. Imagine my little night-terror occurring 24/7, with no way to stop it. Each moment is a calamitous novelty, completely beyond your control. Even if you've had a single panic attack, you can get a sense of this "bad infinite," which is boundless and unending. This is why some psychiatric patients slash themselves or put cigarette burns into their skin -- anything to end the nameless dread and bring them back into contact with time. Finite physical pain is far preferable to infinite emotional pain.

The logic of the symmetrical unconscious definitely explains the angry left. To anyone who is not participating in their group fantasy, one can see how ridiculously overblown their fears are. But it all makes sense in the deep unconscious. Because of its symmetrical nature, that which you deeply hate is deeply frightening. The more you hate or fear it, the more powerful it becomes, until it is equated with the all-powerful and all-evil.

Even a casual glance at dailykos or huffpo demonstrates that this is the emotionally charged mental space in which they they live. If they didn't have the cover of a large community of people involved in the group fantasy, everyone would recognize them for what they are: crazy. But because of the dictates of multiculturalism, no one is crazy so long as their particular craziness is shared by others. For the left, politics is about the management of emotion, nothing more (except for their sociopaths who run things, for whom it is about power. They never experience anxiety, an even worse form of pathology.)

But this just begs the larger issue that this is one of the very purposes of culture: to create a cohesive group fantasy in which unconscious anxieties and impulses can be contained. True, some people do this with religion, but there, the greater purpose is to plumb the depths of the unconscious in a healthy way. The left's fantasies are strikingly unhealthy, in large part because they don't realize that they are fantasies. They are like children acting out, only they think they are rational.

The conscious mind, because of its asymmetry, is able to discern differences, whereas the unconscious mind ignores distinctions and sees sameness. Obviously this has an important function that is vital to psychological health and happiness. But both processes can go haywire. For example, the loony leftist notices that Adolf Hitler and President Bush both engage in aggression, therefore, on an unconscious level, they are identical. Only the "sameness" is seen, not the vast differences. At the same time, they may enforce conscious distinctions in an illogical way, for example, between the nature of our fascist enemies in WWII and our fascist enemies today. There they see distinction where they should see the similarities.

You might say that the unconscious only sees "classes," not individuals. As Bomford writes, "An aggressive dog is felt to encompass the class of all dangerous aggressors -- and is thus perceived as presenting an infinite threat. It is easy to see that an irrational phobia is at once accounted for by this principle: something trivially alarming or just something connected with an alarming situation, is treated as though the whole class of alarming things is present within it."

One of the keys to dealing with fear is to give it a kind of boundary. The next time you're feeling anxious about something, notice this tendency of it to shade off into the infinite, which is the real fear. It doesn't surprise me at all that the left is historically so phobic, paranoid, alarmist, and histrionic, since they have no way to tame the bad infinite, being that they have rejected genuine spirituality, which is nothing less than a systematic way to transform the nameless dread of the bad infinity into the boundlessly loving and infinite One. The left will always be with us, because the unconscious will always be with us.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Speaking Truth to unKnown Powers & Principalities

Some very provocative responses to yesterday's post, including Robin's recollection of his personal exile from the timeless Eden of infancy -- the loss of his temporally infanity -- and his rude awakening to the constricting and chafing reality tunnel of time:

I was playing in my sandbox, creating roads and imaginary buildings, an activity I loved doing for hours. This particular day something happened. I stood up and walked towards our willow tree and suddenly felt something change. I instantly “forgot” everything. I knew that just 10 seconds ago I had full knowledge and remembrance of everything past, and now it was gone. And I knew the loss was permanent, which filled me with sadness. The memory of that step into linear time has stayed with me my entire life.

Time. You can't live with it, and can't live without it. Unless he had entered time, Robin wouldn't remember those traces of the timeless. But he heard the pied piper's forbidden flute, and his temporal ears and I were opened.

Where are you before you're in time? You're in eternity, the atemporal, and to the extent that you are, you'll have no recollections of it, since there was no time for events to have taken place. The events Robin remembers are not actually in eternity, but in what is called a transitional space, an area of overlap between time and eternity, consciousness and unconsciousness (a good place -- perhaps the only place -- to be -- more on which tomorrow).

The real eternity of infancy is not conscious, but fuses with the Background Object of Primary Identification. It leaves its traces in the general way we experience the world for the rest of our lives, as a threatening place, a secure place, a hopeful place, a disappointing place, a hostile place, a loving place, etc. It's no doubt what causes someone to be a loony dailykosbag or huffpo' boysandwitch, since they can't help seeing and experiencing the ugly world they perpetulantly create.

I was reminded of this while watching Teletubbies with my son this morning. For those of you who haven't seen this inane program that has a hypnotic effect on babies, it begins with a sun with an infant's face rising over the horizon. The sun has always been associated with the light of consciousness, and we can see that this operates on a deeply symbolic level, as the baby, in his infantile omnipotence, believes that he creates the reality that actually created him. He is the Central Sun who even gives birth to his own parents, Adam and Eve. How could it be otherwise in the deep unconscious, where there is no knowledge of beforeafter?

You might say that eternity is "colorless," but that it takes on a certain emotional color based upon unKnown experiences during our first three years of lives, beyond the horizon of articulacy. If you are left with a "bad color" that tinges everything in a negative way, it's extremely difficult to change it. It's like a mind parasite that is not so much a content as a toxic context -- not the contained but the container.

But it can be changed, and I believe this is one of the purposes of a spiritual practice -- to uproot one unconscious narrative and replace it with another. Importantly, you can't do this with just any old narrative that you invent. You can't just look in the mirror every day and repeat, "I'm good enough. I’m smart enough, and gosh darn it, Al Franken loves me."

For one thing, in order to "speak" to the timeless unconscious, you must do so in a language it understands. This is the language of myth and symbol, puzzling paradoxables and smoking puns -- and revelation. Revelation is specifically revelation because it "reveals" things to the deep unconscious mind. It doesn't speak to the ego -- indeed, many aspects of religion make no sense to the the ego -- but to a much deeper part.

This is the reason, I believe, that Christianity spread so rapidly among the people who first heard it. To a historian of the era, it doesn't really make any logical sense, so they invent "rational" reasons why people heard "the word" and embraced it. But at the time, people obviously weren't hung up on the modern distinction between "fact" and "symbol," since the concept of factuality hadn't even really been discovered. Therefore, it was easier to embrace something that simply made sense to the soul.

The real reason most people are drawn to religion is that it bypasses the cramped illusions of the surface ego and speaks to them at a deeper and more expansive level. Once you understand this, you see how obvious it is. The ego has certain cognitive needs, but the ego is not the whole of our personality. Indeed, it is only a small part. Our Total Being has other cognitive needs, which include spiritual food.

How does one "engage the attention" of the unconscious? Clearly, this is the purpose of great art, poetry, or music. Indeed, the reason we call it great is that it somehow reaches deep within the reader, viewer, or listener, and engages the vast realm of the unthought known, as Christopher Bollas calls it.

Bollas also coined the phrase erotics of being for that disinct feeling that occurs when we discover or engage with an object in the external world that helps us to articulate an aspect of our Unthought Known. Without these objects, our Unthought Known would be unthinkable, and known only in potential. Or, you might say that it would be known by a nagging sense of its absence -- an absent presence.

Again, one of the purposes of religion is to resonate with this absent presence -- to flesh it out and give it body, blood, and voice. As I began exploring Christianity a decade or so ago, this was one of the realizations that dawned on me. I discovered so many luminous intellects -- Denys the Areopagite, Meister Eckhart, and others -- that I would have prevously dismissed as sadly superstitious mythtery mongers. Why would someone with a first class mind waste it on religion?

Because religion was simply the way they articulated the depth and greatness of their genius. It was the language they spoke in order to articulate the deepest aspects of reality. Once I realized this, Christianity suddenly "clicked" for me in a way it never had before. Now I understand why it is so much deeper than science, and why people will always have a need for genuine religion, without which they are condemned to superficiality and circularity. Like the obligatory atheist, they simply fall off the shallow end.

In a previous lifetime, I wrote a number of papers demonstrating that this way of looking at things was actually far more in accord with the latest findings of physics, let alone psychology. No one believes any longer that the world is constituted of material objects interacting like billiard balls in a deterministic way.

In my book, I go into this at some length, so I won't repeat myself here. The bottom line is that, if we base our metapsychology and metatheology on models emerging from modern science, we do not visualize an objective ego being buffeted from below by drives and instincts. Rather, we visualize an unbroken and ceaselessly flowing holographic field of energy-consciousness with implicate (unconscious, O) and conscious (explicate, (k)) dimensions.

But you knew that already.

But to the extent that you don't, it is highly likely that you will overemphasize mere logic as being sufficient to explain both reality and yourself. This overvaluation of logic is illogical to that which is the higher source of logic, which is to say, the intellect properly so-called. Logic is to ego as revelation is to Self, i.e., the total self of Being and its pal, the intellect.

I wish I had more time but I don't so we'll have to pick this up tomorrow. This will probably end up taking me a month or so to completely spit out, so don't get your expectorations up.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

True Hallucinations*

Where did we leave off? Oh yes, trying to express the infinite and eternal within the finite and temporal, i.e., struggling to find the words for God -- trying, as always, to channel the roaring torrent of O into the feeble stream of cyber-k. Science by definition cannot do this. But as Bomford explains, "the attraction of religion is that it attempts to speak of the transcendent, that which is beyond human knowing."

Achieving this is a tricky linguistic balance, because too much specificity and concreteness is incredible to modern minds, while too much vagueness and abstraction is simply uninteresting. What we need is a language that combines abstraction and concreteness, so that "transcendental experiences may be held in memory, meditated upon, ordered and made mutually coherent." What we need is what Bion called a language of achievement which can convert O into (n).

Now, if Spirit did not exist, we wouldn't even have a word for it or know where to begin looking for it. Nor would we know it when we had found it. Therefore, any talk of Spirit actually presupposes preconceptual knowledge of it, otherwise it is strict nonsense. A preconception is an empty category, a sort of blueprint that will be filled out by experience. Humans are born with many such innate, archetypal preconceptions, and Spirit is one of them. Everyone except an atheist knows this, but even the atheist uncoonsciously knows it because they can't shut up or stop thinking about it, no different really than the repressed hysteric who sees sexuality everywhere but within themselves.

For most people, it is not dogma that gives rise to belief, but otherwise ineffingbelievable transcendent experience that gives life to belief and leads to the effort to search out the means to make sense of, articulate, and give body to the effing experiences.

As we mentioned yesterday, a sense of the eternal can be evoked by the presence of the very old or the very new, the "everlasting" and the extremely transient. People can experience a sense of the eternal (including the "infinite potential") when they first see their newborn baby, which offers some insight into the focus on the baby Jesus. I am the alpha and omega, first and last.

The "first time" of most anything important resonates with eternity, which is why recollections of childhood live in a kind of eternity -- almost every day was a first of some kind. It was such a brief period of time, but childhood memories are charged with a kind of mystical intensity. This is one of the reasons liberals are still lost in the hypnotic mists of 1967. The mythical "summer of love" won't die until the last baby boomer croaks and takes this pseudo-Eden with him.

One of the purposes of rituals is to resonate with the mythological Great Time that abides deep within. You may notice, for example, that when you experience the Christmas season, it temporally resonates with all your past Christmases (time becomes "thick," so to speak), ultimately going back to the first one -- one that you never personally experienced, but nevertheless partake of. Likewise, when you rest on Saturday or Sunday, you are reluxing with the Creator, whether you consciously realize it or not.

Eternity can also be hinted at "by the last event in a series." Bomford cites the example of an aging travel writer who had visited a particularly beloved destination on many occasions. When he consciously realized that he was visiting it for the last time, it regained the freshness and vividness of the first visit.

"In the same spirit, the last words of the dying may be seen as a key to an understanding of the whole life. The last of the series completes the picture, ends the story, and thus hints at the instantaneous wholeness of eternity."

It is accomplished.

What is?

Everything. The whole existentialada. I just can't say it, because it's too literal. I have to hint at it. Language of achievement, don't you know.

Bomford notes that eternity is also evoked in "the uniting of old and new, or first and last... St. Augustine addressed God as 'Thou Beauty, both so ancient and so new.'"

Let us rejoyce:

I am passing out. O bitter ending! I'll slip away before they're up. They'll never see me. Nor know. Nor miss me. And it’s old and old it’s sad and old it’s sad and weary I go back to you, my cold father, my cold mad father, my cold mad feary father, till the near sight of the mere size of him, the moyles and moyles of it, moananoaning, makes me seasilt saltsick and I rush, my only, into your arms.

Here, in the dream logic of Finnegans Wake, Joyce fuses the old and new, birth and death, infancy and old age, time and eternity, river and ocean, earthly and celestial fathers, miles and moyles circumnavigation and circumcision....

My leaves have drifted from me. All. But one clings still. I'll bear it on me. To remind me of. Lff! So soft this morning, ours. Yes. Carry me along, taddy, like you done through the toy fair! If I seen him bearing down on me now under whitespread wings like he'd come from Arkangels, I sink I'd die down over his feet, humbly dumbly, only to washup. Yes, tid. There's where. First. We pass through grass behush the bush to. Whish! A gull. Gulls. Far calls. Coming, far! End here. Us then. Finn, again! Take. Bussoftlhee, mememormee ! Till thousandsthee. Lps. The keys to. Given! A way a lone a last a loved a long the

Old and new, time and eternity, are fused as the book circles around to the beginning: riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us to a commodius vicus of recirculation...

This book by Bomford has finally helped me understand what Petey was up to in the merging of those barmy Cosmobliteration and Cosmogenesis sections of One Cosmos, that ensure that it will never sell many copies:

Cut me down to sighs. Too old, older than Abraham, too young, young as a babe's I AM. Brahmasmi the Truth. The whole Truth. Nothing but the Truth. So ham, me God. We'll meet again. Up ahead, 'round the bend. The circle unbroken, by and by. A Divine Child, a godsend, a touch of infanity, a bloomin' yes....

Words fall. But one clings. Still. You don't say. Emptiness! drowning the soul in its everlasting peace, an eternal zero, a spaceless and placeless infinite, supremely real and solely real, our common source without center or circumference, no place, no body, no thing, or not two things, anyway: blissfully floating before the fleeting flickering universe, stork naked in brahma daynight, worshiping in oneder in a weecosmic womb with a pew, it is finally...

It seems that Petey thought of everything in his absurcular attempt to evoke eternity: unbroken circles, the fusing of alpha and omega, childhood and old age, darkness and light, yes and no, God and man, whole and part, birth and death, nothing and everything....

Hallucinations. Is there anything they don't know?

*With apologies to Terence McKenna

Monday, September 17, 2007

On Harmonizing Oursophs with the Vespered Strains of the Song Supreme

Later in the week, when I have less time and more timelessness, I will be getting into the questing of exactly how religious language accomplices its task of speaking to us on a level that bypasses the surface ego and goes straight to the deeper aspects of our being. In this regard, it obviously shares certain characteristics of poetry, which says in words what cannot be said in words, as some old poet-all once unsaid. Like poetry, scripture can make no literal sense, and yet, evoke a powerful response. How does it do that? And what is it inside us that is responding?

Let's compare it to music. By definition, music makes no literal sense. This is a tautological statement, since music is not semantic but pure sound. In fact, it is the only form of communication that is made of pure sound. And yet, people can be moved to tears by music.

Van Morrison is one of the few popular musicians who performs music with the specific intention of evoking a spiritual response. Especially between about 1979 and 1991, he entered a deeply spiritual period when he attempted to convey and facilitate spiritual experience through music. And yet, you can be sure that few people who heard the music responded to it in the intended way. For them it was just an oldies show or an exercise in nostalgia, like seeing the Strolling Bones at the Super Bowl.

I only subscribe to a few magazines. One of them is Stereophile, which is sort of the bible of hi fi enthusiasts. One of the enduring debates in the hi fi world parallels our frequent discussions of overmental language, translogic, and the vertical dimension of being. You could say that it's between the objectivists and subjectivists, engineers and enginees, ears and equations, scientists and mystics. This is the topic of the lead essay of a recent edition of Stereophile, entitled The Mystery of Music, by Jason Serinus.

I remember when I purchased my first CD player in early 1990's. I was a holdout in the digital revolution, and continued listening to vinyl exclusively long after CDs were available. I eventually purchased a good CD player, and yet, when I brought it home I was very disappointed with the sound. To my ears the music sounded superficially accurate, but it was flat, dull, lifeless, and lacking in warmth. It had a palpably hollow and somewhat shrill metallic edge and was missing a certain dimension of depth or presence that analogue brings out. (Just try listening to one of the first generation unremastered CDs that came out in 1985 or 1987, and you'll hear what I mean. They sound horrible.)

To try to address the problem, I purchased a pair of decent aftermarket cables to connect the CD player to my amp and replace the cheap ones that came with the unit. Voila! Suddenly there was an added dimension of warmth and presence -- of life -- that was lacking before.

Now, number-crunching engineers will assure you that this is impossible, that a cable is a cable is a cable. In fact, it is the official policy of magazines like Consumer Reports that there is essentially no difference in sound quality between one CD player and another. It's scientifically impossible, you see. You may think that you're hearing something different, but science says you can't be. If it cannot be measured by an objective test, then it doesn't exist. You are fooling yourself.

Sound familiar? This is a perennial debate in psychology as well. For example, science knows that the unconscious cannot possibly exist, and that Freud's ideas about it have been thoroughly debunked. But if you lie (in both senses of the term) on ShrinkWrapped's threadbare couch and aimlessly ramble for a few moments about this and that, he claims the ability to peer into your very soul and understand all sorts of secrets that you've been keeping from yourself. Just like the music lover, he will experience another dimension to your communications which entirely escapes the methods of science. Unless, like me and my expensive aftermarket cables, he's just pulling the wool over his own ears and charging his sheep for the fleece.

Back to religion. In Serinus' essay, he asks, "Is it possible that those who claim that some of us cannot possibly hear what we are hearing themselves lack the facility to comprehend what we're hearing in the first place?" For many listeners, music apparently registers only as rhythm and sensation assaulting the monkey brain, whereas others, for example, hear subtle shadings of color, emotion, and spirit. How can something made of sound contain colors or shades of light and dark?

Similarly, is it possible that those who claim to comprehend religion are experiencing an entirely real dimension that communicates its properties to those who know how to experience it, but doesn't exist for those "without ears to hear?"

Let's go back to the Freudian unconscious. Strictly speaking it does not "exist," if we take the word exist in its literal sense of "standing out from" (ex-ist), like an object in space. Nor does God ex-ist. But this doesn't mean that God or the unconscious aren't real.

For one thing, God is not found in space, because space is in God. Likewise, the unconscious -- or O -- is not strictly speaking in us -- ultimately, we are in it (more on this later in the week).

When we say that something is "real," are we talking about the atoms and molecules of which it is composed? Or the physical form that we perceive with the senses? Or the thought that is able to register and comprehend the perception? If only the subatomic or the physical are real, then there is no valid knowledge at all, for there is no knowledge at the level of the senses.

God is not that which "stands out," but That from which things stand out. Thus, "exist" is not the right word for God or for the unconscious. "In-sist," perhaps. That is, higher and more subtle realities do not stand out except to those who stand in them. How do you stand in a higher world? It has no physical existence, and yet, it can only manifest in the physical.

But only if you co-upperate. If you help bring it into being. If you make it present. If you act as midwife and give birth to the Word and the Melody. Which most people can do unless they unhappyn to be a hyper-rational soul in a midwife crisis.

Robert Frost once commented that the purpose of poetry was to help the reader "trip headlong into the boundless." Somehow, poetry jolts us out of the horizontal and into a vertical inscape. What can I say? I'm not a leuny poet. So you don't have to remand me. But I do my loveall best to be a hummin' being, and trip heartlong into the rhythm of the infinite. I prefer it to standing headwrong in the finite.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Verticalisthenics, O-robics, and Breathing in the Eternal

Let's see. What do we have here. There are objects and there is motion.

Revelation is like an intellectual cathedral that mirrors the hierarchical dimension of the vertical on this side of the manifestivus -- it is "heaven on earth," so to speak. But spiritual growth is not an object. Rather, it is a "motion" or movement -- an expansion. As a matter of fact, it is the leading edge of the cosmos.

In my book, I attempted to describe the algorithm of this movement with a set of abstract symbols that apply to any spiritual practice and all spiritual growth. To a large extent those symbols are descriptive rather than prescriptive, providing some hints but leaving the exact "how to" to the individual aspirant, who must combine "know how" with "be who."

We are fallen beings. Or, if you prefer, we are more or less exwholed and exiled from the vertical; we are strangers in this world, wandering in the desert of the horizontal, trying to find our way home. We go through books, experiences, teachers, trying to find Truth or Freedom or Happiness. Sometimes we catch a glimpse, only to see it recede into darkness, like a dream that fades upon awakening.

The universe is a nonlocal whole that is thoroughly entangled with itself, both in space and time. Let's suppose that I am not me. Rather, I am you. I am the higher you, speaking to you from your future, bidding you to join me. It's frustrating for me, because I'd like you to be here with me. Actually, I'd like to be down there with you. To you, your life looks like a bewildering panorama of free choices. But to me, looking down on the scene, I see that your life is actually on a train track. It doesn't really have much freedom, except to move forward and backward in one line. Unfortunately, if you stay on that line, you will inevitably end up where you are headed. Which is not me.

So to arrive at me, you have to derail your life. You have to repent, which literally means to "turn around" or change course. Now, many people who come to a spiritual practice do so because their life has been derailed for them. They are probably the lucky ones. They have achieved a state of spiritual blankruptcy. They are no longer moving, but at least they have stopped moving in the wrong direction. Now, instead of pushing themselves toward the wrong destination, they will have the opportunity to be lured into the heart of the right one.

For others, their catastrophe has to be self-willed. I remember when undergoing my training, when I was in psychoanalytic therapy. I said something to the effect of, "I don't know if I'm cut out for this. I might be too neurotic," or something like that. My analyst quickly corrected me: "No, no -- we don't exclude a treatable neurosis. We demand one. It's a prerequisite." You see, psychoanalytic therapy is a sort of self-willed crisis, as you dismantle your surface personality, dive into the unconscious, and try to reconstruct things on more stable footing. Only by doing so are you qualified to be a psychopomp for others, ushering them along the tortuous trails of their hidden self.

Likewise, there is no question that a spiritual practice will involve facing some catastrophic truths -- catastrophic not to your true self, but to your surface ego. In fact, spiritual growth is nothing but the assimilation of truth. At first, the truth can be unpleasant. To many people it is positively toxic. For them there is no hope.

Our minds are chaotic systems with different basins of attraction. Our surface personality is one such basin. If you have a lot of conflicts and fixations, you may think of those as basins of attraction as well. Each basin within our personality is an open system with a life force and agenda all its own, drawing relationships and experiences it needs in order to go on being. These are the instruments of our destruction, at least as they pertain to ever escaping the closed circle of the horizontal and establishing a little beachhead in the vertical.

In psychotherapy there is something called "resistance," and it is ubiquitous. No matter how much a person comes into therapy wishing to change, there are parts of the personality that will resist this change and try to sabotage the treatment. Why is this? For the same reason that any living entity has a life instinct and wishes to go on being. These resistant parts of the personality are much more like quasi-independent organisms than "objects." This is why in my book I refer to them as "mind parasites." If they are not parasites, they might as well be. For, just like parasites, they take over the machinery of the host -- you -- and reproduce themselves, bringing about the very conditions that allow them to flourish.

For this reason, most anyone on a spiritual path requires some equivalent of psychotherapy in order to gain insight into the adversary within. The mind parasites don't really care if you go spiritual on them, so long as you don't leave them behind. A moment's glance at the history of religion shows this to be true. Religion has almost been ruined by mind parasites, and it is perfectly understandable if a sophisticated modern person were to reject it on that basis alone.

However, this would be wrong and ultimately self-defeating. For it is obviously not just religion that has been ruined by mind parasites, but almost every other instrument or institution devised by human beings. For example, until quite recently, the history of medicine was the history of error. It consisted not only of beliefs that were untrue, but could not possibly be true. Should one therefore toss out medicine because its history is so riddled with kooky beliefs?

Lies are the wisdom of the world. The world is immersed in, and ruled by, lies. Therefore, to the extent that you lose yourself in this world, you too will be lost in a sea of lies. For example, the war on Islamofascism is not ultimately a war against a physical enemy, but a war against the most outrageous and pernicious lies. Likewise, the "culture war" in America is not really about culture, but about truth and about unconsciously motivated lies. Much of Old Europe has already lost this war. Like the American left they have abandoned truth for comfort, happiness for pleasure, vertical liberty for horizontal license.

Birth is always a chaotic and painful transition from one mode of being to another. The seeds of our new birth are already present within us, in the womb of our being. What are the conditions that allow the seeds to grow and bear fruit? Hell, I don't know.

"Petey? What do you think?" Okay. How about the sunlight of truth, the water of grace, the fertilizer of ritual, and the loving assistance of an expert gardener -- who certainly need not be technically "living" in the biological sense of the term, so long as he or she be alive.

Well, the horizontal beckons me from the threshold of transdimensional doorway, so I bid you adieu. In fact, I will leave you with adieu and don't -- a verticalisthenic, if you will. Today, whenever you have a spare moment, instead of wasting it in idle mental wanderings, try silencing your mind and breathing in the eternal, drawing breath from above your head down into your heart, and then offering the breath back up again to your oldenew gardener.