Monday, October 15, 2007

Occidents Don't Just Happen

It's true. Nor do Orients. Or Middle Easts. Or Upper East Sides. In each case, the culture in question developed around a distinct set of values that forms its deep psychospiritual structure.

In America we have a culture war between those who value our deep structure and those who merely wish to take advantage of its unique values in order to undermine our system from the foundation up. For some reason we call these hungry tenuremites "liberal," when their value system is illiberal to the core. For example, this accounts for the all-lieance all the time between the holy warriors Islam and unholy pacifists of the left:

"Hence it wasn't surprising for viewers around the world to see the Islamist militants in Europe taking to the streets alongside the 'bourgeois Neo-Marxists' to protest the governments that supported the War on Terror.... The jihadi manipulation of the bourgeois-Neo-Marxist 'struggle' has played a central role in the so-called 'mass demonstrations' in the West since 2002, and the demonstrations themselves are an important component of the War of Ideas against democracy. On campuses, both in North America and Western Europe, the jihadi-antiwar axis has planted deep roots, and thanks to the skills of university-based anarchist groups, the jihadists have found a cover they can hide under, instead of simply becoming members of the typical Wahabi-contolled Muslim Student Unions."

In short, the Islamists are parasitic on the left, which in turn is parasitic on the liberal West. Neither ideology is rooted in the Sovereign Good, because neither is planted in reality to begin with. Rather, in each case, they are more or less "distant" from the fulsomeness of reality, so that they are ideologies (or emotiologies) of "deprivation" (and eventually depravation) condemned to a Folsomprisonness of unreality.

In other words, the Amer-I-Canism of our founders is based upon the liberation of the innate creativity of the individual, who in turn mirrors the creativity of the Cosmic Center. But leftism appeals to envy, which is simply the pseudo-creative "activity of nothing." It is the cosmic Nothing wishing to fill its existential naughtiness by inappropriating the creative something of others. This is why, if wishes were hearses, leftists would ride in them. Which they do, really, for leftism is ultimately a death cult, in that you cannot serve two mysteresses, and there are only two on the men, you.

Or take this fine example today from Dr. Sanity. The Diagnosista' writes that "For the last 100 years, Islam has abandoned any of the precepts that may have once made it a vibrant and positive force in the world. Today's Muslim leaders for the most part, have hitched their religious wagons to a variant of Marxist ideology, infused by a powerful religious fanatacism and funded by oil." Whatever else it is, Islam is "a religion that justifies and glorifies the abuse and death of children; a religion that enslaves, oppresses and humiliates women; and a religion that justifies slaughter and martyrdom as a way of life is not even in the same moral universe as any of the other major religions on this planet."

LGF links to a piece by Melanie Phillips, in which she explicates the actual Muslim values which under-lie the recent bogus offer of "peace":

"The Islamic world -- or part of it -- has waged war on the Christian (and Jewish) western world. The Christian world is merely responding in self-defence. It is the Islamic world which says it wants to conquer the Christian. The Christian world does not say it wants to conquer Islam, merely that Islam should stop trying to conquer it. Yet the Islamic world pretends that the Christian world is engaged in an act of exterminatory aggression against it.

"That lie is the motor of the jihad. That lie is fundamental to the absence of peace between the religions. Yet this letter fails totally to acknowledge this seminal fact. It says: The future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians. Very true; but for this piety to be any more than a meaningless truism, the Islamic world has to end its aggression. The letter makes no acknowledgement of this. All the emphasis is on the Christian world altering its behaviour. So its inescapable implication is that for peace to occur, the Christian world must abandon its own self-defence. In other words, there can be no peace without the Christian world surrendering to Islam."

Now, it is not actually possible to make any nontrivial statement about reality without an implicit or explicit metaphysical framework, usually a naive or bad one. The American revolution was the first explicitly metaphysical political revolution. In other words, it wasn’t merely rooted in blood, vengeance, land or treasure, but in clearly articulated ideas and ideals that continue to inspire spiritually normal people all around the world. The reason why America has been so successful and productive is because it comes closest to embodying the fullness of metaphysical truth in a political system.

For our founding document is rooted in the affirmation of the self-evident (because metaphysical) Truth that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, and that among these are Life,Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. As reader Michael B. noted, “The reference to the Creator is, and was intended to be, a metaphysical basis for the argument made in the Declaration against the English Crown. Deny the metaphysics, and the charges against King George III become baseless.”

Precisely. The metaphysics of the English Crown rested on the divine right of kings -- a bad, blood-based metaphysic that was taken for gruntbrains then as now, because, as Dennis Prager emphasizes, most human beings have always valued blood over morality. In this regard, nazi metaphysics are more or less embraced by most people who are not specifically infused with and shaped by the alternate view -- that blood is not only unimportant, but meaningless. One is not an American based upon blood, but based upon whether one assents to a common set of immaterial ideals. This was an entirely new psycho-spiritual, evolutionary development in the world, one that the world continues to resist, most conspicuously among the blood-worshipping savages we are fighting in the Arab Muslim world.

For example, the Palestinian objection to Israel is not “physical.” Rather, it is purely metaphysical, rooted in their nazi-like metaphysic that objects to a single drop of Jewish blood “polluting” their blighted nobohood. Consider how a normal human being would react to the Jewish presence in the Middle East: “Of course we want the Jews here! They bring knowledge, education, technology, wealth, prosperity, liberal ideals, jobs, human rights, democracy, comedy, decent delicatessens. Who wouldn’t want them?”

Indeed, who wouldn’t want them? Someone who -- like the vast majority of human beings in the past -- values blood and tribe above all else. This is the all-consuming metaphysical and existential problem for the Arab Muslim world. They are obsessed with it. It is their metaphysical dream (or nightmare). All else can wait, but the liquidation of Israel is of the utmost urgency.

Of course, we have our own watered-down versions of blood-based metaphysics in the forms of totalerantarian multiculturalism, diversity, and racial quotas. One of the primary reasons why contemporary liberalism is so illiberal is that it has abandoned the liberal precepts of our founding documents and is obsessed with race and blood. Although this noxious matavistic flies under the banner of “multiculturalism,” it is not really about culture but about blood. It is about valuing someone not because of the content of their character but the color of the container -- because of their membership in a privileged racial group.

In America’s past, Jews and Asians were prevented from attending college because of one kind of racism. Now they are prevented from doing so by another kind of racism that goes under the misleading rubric of “diversity.” I personally wouldn’t care if every single student in the UC system were Asian American. Being that I am a liberal, I would not conclude that this had something to do with race. Rather, I would assume that it had something to do with Asian values. If I were a member of a culture that did not produce such academic excellence, I would want to find out what it is about Asian values that makes them excel, and then imitate them. But this is as foreign to the liberal mind as it is to the Palestinian mind to imitate Jews, as opposed to butchering and maiming them.

One way to eliminate the painful distance between oneself and another is to attack what one feels the other possesses. This primordial impulse, rooted in envy, is as old as the human race. Genesis, preternaturally astute as ever in its metaphysics and anthropology, places it in Chapter Four, in Cain’s murder of Abel. It is the first human crime and the recurring human crime, for Genesis doesn’t just tell us what happened “once upin a timeless” but what happens every time. (The Fall, of course, was worse than a crime -- it was a blunder.)

So, my fellow Raccoons, I have a dream -- a metaphysical dream which barbarians in all times and in all places are asleep to. My dream is that there is a world of ought that is more real than the world of is. My dream is that a belief is not true, nor an act virtuous, if it fails to conform to this transcendent clueprint. My dream is that our God is a God of liberty, and that the same God that gave us life gave us liberty -- the liberty to freely discover truth, love and beauty, and to align ourselves with these transcendent realities. My dream is that there are only two races, the decent and the indecent. (Oh, wait... that last one was Dennis Prager's dream of Victor Frankl's quintessentially Jewish dream.)

Tell me your metaphysical dream, and I will tell you where your eyes are fixed and where your treasure lies or your lies are treasured, and whether your life and mind are ascending or descending on the inwardly mobile ladder of darwhiggian evolution and salvolutionary deveilupmount. For as it pertains to mankind's collective vertical ascent, there's no such thing as an unfree launch.

The most important goal for one to arrive at is this imaginative picture of what is otherwise a brute empirical fact.... How can men who disagree about what the world is for agree about any of the minutiae of daily conduct?... Without the metaphysical dream it is impossible to think of men living together harmoniously over an extent of time.... The dream carries with it an evaluation, which is the bond of spiritual community.... It must be apparent that logic depends upon the dream, not the dream upon it. --Richard Weaver, Ideas Have Coonsequences

Friday, October 12, 2007

On Shedding a Little Bobscurity on Your Subject

We spend and too often waste a lifetime walking in the shadow of our ultimate unclaimed self. --W. R. Bion

It's difficult for me to blog about anything other than what's immediately on my mind, and in this case, it's a new book about Bion (1897-1979; pronounced BEE-on) that a government agent deposited into my greedy hands just yesterday, A Beam of Intense Darkness, by the eminent psychoanalyst James Grotstein (see also here for a more complete description). It's partly an attempt to present Bion's revolutionary ideas to a wider audience, but in eagerly reading the first few chapters, I'm not sure if that is even possible, or if Grotstein is the man to do it. Grotstein's intellect hovers so far above the average person's, that I don't know if it even reaches that low. In any event, I'll probably be discussing this book in the next few weeks, just as I spent several weeks playfully calmposting The Symmetry of God.

I've written before of how encountering Bion's work in 1985 is what first exploded -- or O-bliterated -- my mind. Interestingly, that was in only the second year of my Ph.D. program. As Grotstein points out, people either "get" Bion or they don't. Most -- including most trained psychoanalysts -- don't, but a few do. And those who do tend to become disciples, even over-idealizing the man as a sort of mystic messiah. Bion was aware of this latter tendency of people to see him this way, and it apparently made him very uncomfortable. One reason he said that he left England for America in the late 1960s is that "he was so loaded down with honors that he nearly sank without a trace."

Bion's work is highly specialized and aimed at a narrow audience of psychoanalysts, and yet, I was one of those people who completely got it. (By the way, I do not recommend straight Bion to a lay audience, any more than I would recommend trying to read Finnegans Wake; in both cases, you definitely want to begin with the secondary literature.) Perhaps I shouldn't say "completely," because no one can completely get Bion due to the very nature of his writing, which is quite skeletal and suggestive, almost like sutras, which consist of a few words that the "awakened" person must fill out based upon experience.

Grotstein surmises that Bion "dreamed his utterances and his writings -- that is, he spoke and wrote in a transformational state of reverie (wakeful sleep)," something with which I can certainly relight. Further, he "leaves you orphaned outside his text for you to seek your own way by your own inherent navigational compass -- one you never believed you possessed until you met him." And in his later works, he tried to develop "a more evocative form of writing" with which "to convey his experiences to the reader directly -- as the experience itself -- an authentic replication of the latter without going through obfuscating explanations." The only way to understand his books is to become the author of your own book "more or less based on Bion's."

I think I used this metaphor in my book, that this kind of writing is analogous to the reflector lights on the back of a car, which emit no light of their own, but become quite bright if light is shined in their direction. Bion's writing is always indicative, but of an unKnown part of yourself that presently exists in your own future.

In short, in order understand Bion, you must bring your own light, and plenty of it, to the inner table (which is also precisely true of religious texts). In fact, Grotstein quotes one writer who suggested that those who do not comprehend Bion fall into certain categories, including lack of truly attentive reading, lack of analytic experience, lack of experience in life itself, or a combination of all three.

In my case, I obviously had no psychoanalytic experience, but I suppose that's not completely correct, since I was in psychoanalytic therapy at the time, but still, not enough to remotely qualify me as One Who Knows much about what lay beyond the interior horizon. Nevertheless, his ideas spoke to me in such a manner as to tie up, or bring together, countless unresolved ideas, pre-ideas, and ideas for ideas that were otherwise running wild in my head. By that time I had read a fair amount of philosophy during the previous seven years or so, and was pretty well familiar with all the main schools.

But as I read Bion, something in me told me that he had surpassed all of these, which is something I couldn't have "known" at the time, and which few people would claim. For example, I'm guessing that Bion is completely unknown in professional philosophy absircles, so that no one from that world would claim that he was one of the greatest philosophers who ever lived. And when I say "something told me," I mean something quite palpably and physically present. It was as if his words were depth charges dropped into my psyche and exploding various connections so that new ones could be forged. This is a lesson I never forgot, and I definitely aspire to that kind of writing. But who reads in the requisite manner, especially blogs? Thankfully, I am aware that many Raccoons do. It's what makes you bloody Raccoon, now isn't it?

Grotstein cites a passage from another book on Bion, in which the authors state that "Psychoanalysis seen through Bion's eyes is a radical departure from all conceptualizations which preceded him. We have not the slightest hesitation in saying that he is the deepest thinker within psychoanalysis -- and this statement does not exclude Freud." So you see, I'm not alone. And yet, we must resist the temptation to idealize the man. Rather, we must play with him, which is what we will be doing in subsequent posts. For one thing, since I haven't read Bion in a long time, I'm very curious as to how the present me will react to him, since I'm not the same Bob that existed in 1985. Furthermore, his ideas have so thoroughly trickled down to the water table and become part of my own psychic substance, that it may even feel as if he's plagiarized me, whereas I'm the one who iconibalized and rewordgitated him. Grotstein puts it exactly thus in reference to his own assimilation of the work of a few other Bionians:

I "dreamed" their works, disassembled them into kaleidoscopic bits, and reassembled them anew as they spontaneously came into my mind. In short, I have "cannibalized," not "plagiarized," the works of my colleagues and have transformed them as they made sense to me anew.

For example -- and I don't want to make him self-conscious -- but some of you may have noticed that Robin Starfish often seems to do this with my posts on his beautiful blog. Here is a fine example. Perhaps it's just me, but I feel as if he "re-dreams" what I have written, both visually and verbally. In fact, this may well be true of many of the One Cosmos "spin-offs" that have become coonveyers of O in their own write. This is exactly the type of reaction Bion tried to produce in his readers, although in a very different way. But the main point is to reach in and provoke a deep, personal response in the reader, not merely to convey unambiguous information from mind to mind, like a couple of ants bumping heads together. Like Bion, I would never want to have "followers" per se, but simply reintroduce people to their own minds -- to O. This is how Grotstein puts it in the book's touching dedication to Bion:

My gratitude to you for allowing Me to become reunited with me -- and for encouraging me to play with your ideas as well as my own.

In my case, I might say "thank you for allowing others to play with your ideas as reflected through me, and thereby reyounighting themselves with their own dark deus."

Or, perhaps to focus an intense beam of darkness on themselves. Is this merely a poetic way of expressing it? No, not at all, which is to say, yes, completely. Grotstein cites a letter by Freud, in which he wrote,

"When conducting an analysis, one must cast a beam of intense darkness so that something which has hitherto been obscured by the glare of illumination can glitter all the more in darkness." I suppose it's somewhat analogous to the way you have to look at distant stars in order to see them. If you look directly at them, they disappear. But if you look away, out of the corner of your eye, they magically emerge from the darkness.

In coming days, I hope to shed some additional obscurity on the subject of Bion, but I am once again promising myself that I won't blog on weekends, so that I can attend to some even more distant obscurities in my spiritual galaxy.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Riddle, Wrapped in a Mystery, Inside an Avidya

Man moves towards something which fulfills the universe by transcending it. --Sri Aurobindo


De-part and be-wholed, like in them seers' dialogues of old, then aim your eros for the heart of the world. --Petey

Obviously it is difficult to wrap our conscious minds around the idea that ultimate reality is infinite, beyond duality, undetermined by any limiting factor, everywhere and nowhere, the deepest within and the furthest beyond; for Him the eye does not see, nor the tongue express, nor the mind grasp. Him we neither know nor are able to teach. Different is he from the known, and different is he from the unknown. So we have heard from the wise, and from Petey.

But at the same time, it is said that we are mirrorcles of the abbasolute, and that our souls are proportioned to the Divine Nature. How can our souls be proportioned to something beyond proportion?

In the words of the Isha Upanishad, ultimate reality is One: Unmoving, it moves swifter than thought. The senses do not overtake it, because it always goes before. Remaining still, it outstrips all that run.... Bright is he, bodiless, without scar or imperfection, without bone, without flesh, pure, untouched by evil.

And yet, deep within us, there is an innersection where it is supposedly possible to "know" this One: The Seer, the Thinker, the One who is above all, the Self-Existent -- he it is that has established perfect order among objects and beings from beginningless time. It's just that The face of truth is hidden by thy golden orb, O Sun. That do thou remove, in order that I who am devoted to truth may behold its glory.


O Petey, the merciful, the compassionate, the arbitrary, the obnoxious, trancelight this for us and explain to us what it means! For it all seems a bit vague...

"This is the double or synthetic ideal of the Isha Upanishad: to embrace simultaneously Vidya and Avidya, the One and the Many; to exist in the world, but change the terms of the Death into the terms of Immortality; to have the freedom and peace of the Non-Birth simultaneously with the activity of the Birth" (Aurobindo).


"The body does not possess being.... Nor is the human heart any more constant.... The human spirit itself, although endowed with reason, changes; it does not possess being.... No one has in himself unity of being.... Let us return humbly to that One Being. Let us enter that city whose inhabitants share in Being itself."

Wait, that wasn't Sri Aurobindo. That was Sri Augustine.

"Every concept formed by the intellect in an attempt to comprehend and circumscribe the divine nature can succeed only in fashioning an idol, not in making God known."

And that wasn't Swami Rama Lama Ding Dong, that was Gregory of Nyssa. Or, in the words of Dionysius,

"He exists in a superessential mode and is known beyond all understanding only in so far as he is utterly unknown and doesn't exist at all."

Now, just as Sun Ra once visited planet earth and dwelt in Philly, "there is no culture or religion that has not received and does not express a 'visitation of the Word.'" But in different ways, for as Augustine famously remarked, "That which is called the Christian Religion existed among the ancients and never did not exist, from the beginning of the human race until Christ came in the flesh, at which time the true religion which already existed began to be called Christianity."

Ah yes, I get it. Before Abraham was, I AM.

Okay. Therefore, for all time, and outside time, "the Superessential gave up his mystery, and manifested himself by assuming humanity." And because He forever assumed humanity, we can stop making asses of you & me. But only if we put in a little effort, for we are not blood relatives, but adopted relativities.

Could it really be possible that the One is refractured through the Many?

How could it not be?

"That God should have clothed himself with our nature is a fact that should not seem strange or extravagant to minds that do not form too paltry an idea of reality. Who, besides a Dawkins or Harris, looking at the universe, would be so feeble-minded as not to believe that God is all in all; that he clothes himself with the universe, and at the same time contains it and dwells in it? If then all is in him and he is in all, why blush for the faith that teaches us that one day God was born in the human coondition, God who still today exists in humanity?" (Gregory of Nyssa).

Here's the Secret in a knotshall, so listen closely, for I shall not repeat it again, but again and again:

Therefore, the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word contains in itself the whole meaning of the riddles and symbols of Scripture, the whole significance of visible and invisible creatures (Maximus the Confessor).

We are the boundary, the final frontier, "like a mediator between creation and the creator" (Clement). For only man, like the creator himsoph, "escapes all definition" and shares the infinite subjectivity of the Infinite Subject; which is why, as Pascal put it, "Man is something infinitely greater than man," and why, upso downso, we are the only creatures "that can fail to become what we already are by nature.... Biological nature develops us only up to a certain point, and then we must individually, with a great deal of deliberation and with full consciousness, seek the rest" (Hanson, in Schuon). Only thereby do we "become greater than the universe into which we were born and which seeks to take possession of us. Thereby we assert or basic freedom" (Clement).

Ascent you a son, amen for a child's job! That's the New Man, we're just putting him on.

And thank-you we said, thanking the Man
for this undertaking of mortality,
for our daily lessons in evanescence,
for this manifestivus for the rest of us!

*Quotations of the early Fathers taken from The Roots of Christian Mysticism, by Olivier Clement.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Is the World a Symballa' Coonfusion?

Is reality just reality, or is it a symbol of something else? To make it even more personal, are you just you, or do you symbolize something?

Supposedly, practices such as Zen Buddhism help one to cut through all the symbolic fog we gradually accumulate, and which separates us from our essential being. Does it work? Not really. I suppose for a few, but probably no better than having a couple of drinks. I mean, if Buddhism were so great, Buddhist countries would be great places to live, would they not?

Hey, are we allowed to criticize other religions, or are only Judaism and Christianity tough enough to take it on the jaw?

I'm not suggesting that there is no wisdom in Buddhism, but let's be honest. Where would you rather live, Burma or the United States? America-hating intellectuals -- because they live in America -- have the freedom of hand-selecting this or that isolated element from Buddhism and using it to cast the West in a bad light. But if you consider the overall value system that emerged in Judeo-Christendom, I think you'll agree that it is vastly superior to that which developed anyplace else on earth, unless you're a self-hating leftist troll.

This is the problem I'm having so far with Wallace's Hidden Dimensions: The Unification of Physics and Consciousness. I mean, it's an interesting book, and I'm sure he's correct about consciousness being the substrate of the material world rather than vice versa, but he's really got a bug up his asana with regard to the Catholic Church and with "fundamentalist" Christianity in general -- as if Buddhists came up with science and physics! Ironically, he teaches at the University of Santa Barbara, which happens to be one of those cities that was founded by bloodthirsty Catholics. Would he prefer that it be a colony of China?

As we have discussed before, true science only developed in one place and in one time in human history, and no place else: in the Christian west. There are well understood reasons why science didn't develop in Buddhist cultures -- for example, the belief that reality is ultimately "empty," or that the phenomenal world is (only) illusory, or that the key to life is to detach from thought rather than pursue it. In general, I find that there is too much of an emphasis on the internal world in Buddhism, which is why it often attracts people in the west that we would call schizoid or narcissistic. The intense focus on their own navel department is conducive to their pre-existing personality style, so they don't really grow with practice, they contract.

To a large extent, the same could be said of Hinduism as it historically developed, and from which Buddhism is just an offshoot anyway. However, a close reading of the Upanishads reveals that they do not actually countenance extreme detachment from the world, unless it is in the context of a paradoxical embrace of it: To darkness are they doomed who devote themselves only to life in the world, and to a greater darkness they who devote themselves only to meditation (Isha Upanishad). It's just another way of saying in the world, not of the world.

Interestingly, there is a strong parallel between Christianity and Sri Aurobindo's yoga, undoubtedly because he was snatched from India when he was just 7 years of age, and educated at some of the finest schools in England, including Cambridge, at a time when a liberal university education was still steeped in an appreciation of our western spiritual inheritance.

Nor, at the time, was there the supposed unbridgeable rift between science and religion that secular intellectuals like to play up today. For example, it is entirely possible that Aurobindo was taught by Alfred North Whitehead, who was a professor at Cambridge during the years Aurobindo was there, and the formidable Whitehead was obviously "on the case" when it came to integrating the most recent findings of science with an expansive metaphysical view that is easily compatible (with modifications) with Christianity (e.g., process theology). For the same reason, Aurobindo was readily able to assimilate science to Vedanta.

There is this shopworn cliché among western intellectuals that mankind has undergone three modern "traumas," or assaults to our dignity, from which we've never recovered -- as if the average person walks around crying because of them. First is the discovery of heliocentrism, which displaced the earth from the center to the periphery of the solar system; second was the discovery of natural selection, which meant that man had been here longer than 6,000 years, and descended from other animals; and third, the discovery and elaboration of the unconscious mind by Freud, which displaced man's ego from the center of his own being.

Ho hum. Are any Raccoons out there actually trembling over the idea of the big bang, or the genome, or the unconscious? Then you're not a Raccoon. Nor are you a Raccoon if you can't easily accommodate these and other ideas into your spiritual worldview, being that a Raccoon is in love with all forms of truth, which reflect various degrees of beauty in the Divine Mind. The discovery and assimilation of any truth always expands our being, as does love or beauty. Or else it wouldn't be truth. Blatant falsehoods, such the cold waters of leftism or atheism, necessarily cause shrinkage in the being of the testy folks who swim in them.

We could just as easily make up a narrative stating that these scientific developments were catastrophic to atheists, since they proved that the universe was created, that genes cannot account for the sudden emergence of our inexplicable humanness, and that the ego's narrow reason is ridiculously insufficient to give an account of reality.

We're getting sidetracked. Plus the baby's up. Be back in an hour or so, so we can discover the point of this post, if we ever do.

As Aurobindo remarked in a letter, "My own life and yoga have always been, since my coming to India, both this-worldly and other-worldly without any exclusiveness on either side.... I could make no sharp divorce or irreconcilable opposition between what I have called the two ends of existence and all that lies between them.... In my Yoga also I have found myself moved to include both worlds in my purview -- the spiritual and the material -- and to try to establish the Divine Consciousness and the Divine Power in men's hearts and earthly life...." Indeed, this unification of the interior and exterior worlds is what is meant by Integral Yoga, and this integration is certainly the purpose of Christianity as well: the Word became flesh so that the flesh might become Word, thereby spanning all the degrees of existence.

In another letter Aurobindo wrote of the Buddha's attitude toward life, that "I do not quite see how 'service to mankind' or any ideal of improvement of the world-existence can have been part of his aim, since to pass out of life into a transcendence was his object. His eightfold path was the means towards that end and not an aim in itself or indeed in any way an aim." Those who don't see Buddhism this way are usually thoroughly westernized minds who interpret Buddhism through an unconscious Judeo-Christian lens that they think they have rejected. It's the same reason why, for the most part, the only tolerant (and tolerable) Muslims are the Christianized ones living in the West.

Now, the world is not ultimately real, but it's still real. And the reason why it is real is that it is a projection -- or creation, if you like -- of the Absolute Real. It exists, in the words of Schuon, by virtue of the intrinsic infinitude of the Absolute, which necessarily "projects" into relativity and thereby produces both the world and the metacosmic "space" that we call the great "Raccoon Den" in the sky. If we rummage around that Den -- there, behind the big easy chair -- we see the various degrees of the Divine Essence, which ultimately come down to "Beyond-Being, creative Being, and the Spirit or the existentialating Logos which constitutes the divine Center of the total cosmos."

Again, in contrast to the implicit nihilism of Buddhism, "To say, out of a concern for transcendence, that the Absolute is 'beyond good and evil, beauty and ugliness,' can only mean one thing, namely that It is the Good in itself, Beauty in itself; it cannot mean that It is deprived of goodness or beauty."

But Bob, you never got around to answering your own question about whether reality is just reality, or a symbol of something else.

Hmm. I'm not so sure about that. I'll have to read the post.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

An Unspeakable Cosmic Mythunderstanding

That which cannot be expressed in words but by which the tongue speaks -- know that to be Brahman. --Kena Upanishad

I had intended to say something about symbolism and metaphor in Sunday's post, before it was hijacked down an unanticipated byway. Symbolism is one of the modalities of the unconscious mind, along with eternity, placelesness, non-contradiction, and conflation of imagination and reality. Humans are so immersed in symbols that it's hard for us to think about them, since doing so will only result in more symbols. Until today. Today I'm going to use my advanced cOOnVision to pry myself free of symbols and find out what's going on underneath them.

Freud used the terms "displacement" and "condensation" for the unconscious mind's ability to "identify things with a certain similarity and transfer attributes of one thing to another" (Bomford). If these two properties are extended to their furthest generalization, then it means that anything is identical to the class to which it belongs, and that the class is identical to any of its members. For example, in the unconscious mind, Hillary isn't just like a witch, she is a witch; furthermore, she is both a particular instance of witchhood and the class of all witches. In 2008, the country will essentially decide whether she is a good witch or a bad witch, and whether we will live in a sheliocentric lunar sistem.

The conscious use of metaphor (e.g., Hillary is like a witch) invites the reader to "consider a term as one of a set with which it perhaps might not otherwise be classified, and then to draw characteristics from other members of that set" (Bomford). Political advertising, which is to say, MSM reporting, relies heavily upon injecting various metaphors into our discourse, and then letting the unconscious mind take care of the rest. People who see through the ruse are called "conservatives."

For example, for certain benighted boomers, you have only to suggest that "Iraq is like Vietnam," and the leftist mind proceeds to do its dirty work under cover of unconscious darkness. Because of symmetrical logic, the mind can draw all sorts of fallacious conclusions, such as "the Vietnam war was bad; war is bad; therefore the Iraq war is bad."

The purpose of metaphor "is to both cast up and organize a network of associations." While the conscious mind associates in a linear manner, the unconscious mind associates in what you might call a densely holographic manner. Instead of picturing a chain of linear deductions, imagine a central concept, a sort of spherical object that extends out in all directions at once.

Again, archetypal religious metaphors operate in this manner, and are intended to provoke rich associations that link the conscious mind with the upper vertical unconscious mind -- or ego with ground, if you prefer. To the extent that they fail to do this, or are taken too literally (except where they are intended to be), then they cannot do the "work," or verticalestnenics, they were deisigned to. For example, Holy Communion is not just a way to gnaw God.

When religious language becomes "saturated," it essentially means that the conscious mind has vanquished the richness of the unconscious mind by reducing its intrinsic polysemy to a single dead metaphor. Paradoxically -- but not really -- if you reduce the One to one, you end up with none. You kill God. This is the way of the inferior man, who imagines that "only what is contingent is real," and "seeks by his method to lower principles to the level of contingencies when he does not deny them purely and simply" (Schuon).

For example, let's turn to the first page of Genesis: The earth was without form and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. To say that this is metaphor is not to say that it is "false." For one thing, no mere linear description could ever be sufficient to describe or exhaust the infinite fecundity of the Divine Mind, which is also like a sort of spherical object that extends out in all directions at once.

You might say that scripture is scripture because of this very property of provoking rich associations in the manner O-->(n). If it is reduced to mere (k), then it becomes no different than science, with which it cannot compete in that sense. In other words, if you take Genesis as a discussion of the same reality in the same manner as the equations of quantum cosmology, you are very confused. The former is dealing with "vertical genesis," the latter with "horizontal genesis." It's the difference between cosmogenesis and pneumagenesis, bearing in mind, of course, that the eternal activity of pneumagenesis is ontologically prior to that of cosmogenesis. The former takes place outside of time, while the latter takes place within time.

This is what I was attempting to convey in the unspeakable overchore of the Coonifesto, where words "strain, crack and sometimes break" under the eliotic burden of describing O:

"The creation to which it refers did not happen just 'once upon a time' some 13.7 billion years ago, but occurs continuously, in the timeless ground anterior to each moment."

Er, how's that?

"Put it this way: neither the cosmos nor this book have a proper 'beginning,' but both have a center, a center that starts where science ends and must therefore be described in mythological terms. The purpose of myth is to help us re-collect what we have forgotten about our timeless source, our eternal nature, and our ultimate destiny. The metamyth that follows is no different, as it attempts to lift the veil and peer back 'before' creation -- it is a Word from our eternal Sponsor, and should not be evaluated from the standpoint of time."

The true theologian, such as Eckhart or Schuon, writes "from O," so to speak, something that Schuon touches on in the preface to his Survey of Metaphysics and Esoterism. Religion, on the one hand, "veils" O -- which no one can see in its unveiled form -- but on the other hand, allows it to shine forth. Thus, seeing the veil is seeing the essence; or seeing the form is seeing the substance. To put it in the form of a laughty paradoxable, religion reveils the hidden God.

Regarding his own lifelong effort to translate O into (n), Schuon writes that "we believe we have given a homogeneous and sufficient exposition of this primordial and universal Sophia, in spite of our discontinuous and sporadic manner of referring to it. But the Sophia perennis is quite evidently inexhaustible and has no natural limits." And it is inexhaustible because of the conscious-unconscious dynamic discussed at the outset of this post, which is to say that

"Metaphysical Truth is both expressible and inexpressible: inexpressible, it is not however unknowable, for the Intellect opens onto the Divine Order and therefore encompasses all that is; and expressible, it becomes crystallized in formulations which are all they ought to be since they communicate all that is necessary or useful to our mind. Forms are doors to the essences, in thought and in language as well as in all other symbolisms" (Schuon).

So, just as the particle cannot contain the wave, nor the circle the sphere, (k) can never circumnavelgaze O. But O is always within (k) like the cream within the milk, or our existence would be caffiendishly blacker than black coffee at mudnight:

The Absolute, in Its overflowing fullness, projects contingency and mirrors Itself therein, in a play of reciprocity from which It will emerge as victor, as That which alone is. --Schuon

Monday, October 08, 2007

On Becoming One that You May Find the One

Walt sent me this interesting snippet of a radio interview with the French journalist and writer Louis Pauwels (1920 - 1997):

Jacques Nerson: You wrote in 1968: "Anything is preferable to an honorable career -- exile, or prison, or the monastery."

Louis Pauwels: Well, it was poorly said, and was in the absurd climate of '68. At that time, I was emerging from the adventure of Morning of the Magicians, and I admit that I was spoiled. What was clear to me was that I didn't want, that I never wanted, to be a writer with a public "following." I used to say, as I would still say today: Long live freedom, long live the right to change one's direction, theme, writing, research, or position. I was calling an "honorable career" the career of a man who gives what is expected of him. It has always exhausted me to be considered a guide, or more simply a good provider of the usual merchandise (the current rage). Destiny asks something of me, or of someone in me. Even though I don't understand it, it is destiny that I must follow, endlessly escaping from the diverse images of myself which I create. Better exile, prison, or the monastery than submission to what the public expects of me at every step of my passage through this world.

But exile and prison have nothing in common with the monastery. I was foolish to put all three of these forms of retreat on the same level.

In reality, I have had -- and I pursue -- the life of an intellectual vagabond with mystical tendencies, because I did not have sufficient grace and force to be a true contemplative monk. I had an obscure wish for this kind of life but I didn't know how to see my misery and how to give myself to God in the supremely childlike spirit which pushes man toward the monastery. I had neither enough humility nor this gentle heroism. And this is why I was condemned to wandering. A creative wandering, no doubt... at least I must assume so.

Many years ago (in 1968 to be exact), I attended a seminar in a hotel near the Grand Chartreuse monastery. I went right up to the gate of the monastery. There I was overcome with trembling; I sobbed. I felt that my life had been irredeemably wasted, that it would never be fulfilled. But what fulfills a life? Ah! It is not joys and honors! It is the complete renunciation of oneself; it is the silencing of thoughts; it is the arising of "I", unique and transcendental, faceless, nameless, in the smooth emptiness of the interior of one's being, and its progressive fusion with God, who is the supreme "I" of all things, here below and above....

What fulfills a life? It is not just the serenity of the stoics. It is what my friend Aldous Huxley called, approximately, the "peace of the depths," or my other friend, Arthur Koestler, "the oceanic feeling of life." Koestler committed suicide. Huxley died in despair. Neither they, who were worth infinitely more than I, nor I, knew how to build from eternity with our earthly presence. But this is what makes a contemplative monk. And finally, this is the only honorable thing to do.

In a word: to be in the world but not of it -- action and nonaction embracing. "Like the kingfisher who dives and comes up again without getting his feathers wet." The universal spiritual tradition -- Buddhist, Hindu, or Christian -- deals with these crossings (crosses) between the man in the world and the man behind the man, detached from the world. At one and the same time, here is man: nailed down, yet flying away.


Hmm. Where had I read this before? A quick search of my liberary revealed that it was in this collection of essays on Gurdjieff. It is one of the hundreds of books I raced through in the writing of my own book. As I've mentioned before, only after the book was written have I had the luxury of returning to some of the really good books I encountered along the way, and spending a little more timelessness with them. I'd forgotten all about this one, which, if I remember correctly, was -- in keeping with the man himself -- a sort of mixed bag. As are most bags, books, and beings.

When I read a book, I always highlight it in such a way that I can rapidly reread it and extract its essence, so I can usually judge the merit of a book by the number of highlights. I see that I highlighted one passage from the Pauwels interview, so I must have thought it was important:

"I fell headlong into the teaching of Gurdjieff because my most profound impression was -- and still remains -- the absence in me of being. I had and still have this impression that the whole of my thoughts, my feelings, my sensations, my dreams, my ambitions, my acts, my sorrows, my joys -- that this whole is not my real self. Or, if you wish, that there is something else besides that 'me' named Louis Pauwels, and it is that other thing which could give birth to being if I knew how to cultivate it."

Well, don't keep us hanging. What else happened to Pauwels in his long strange journey from new age pagan occultism to orthodox Catholicism?

Pauwels completed his first novel, Saint Someone, at the age of 25. It is about an ordinary man who is "suddenly transported by the extreme and inhuman unhappiness of finding himself outside himself and outside the world." Interestingly, he states that his dream then was "to depart for the Ashram of Sri Aurobindo" -- a very unusual aspiration, I might add, since very few in the west knew anything about Sri Aurobindo at the time, even Ken Wilber, who in 1945 was negative four years of age and just learning to read.

But then Pauwels met a man who told him that he needn't travel to India, because "there is a spiritual master of of uncommon strength" living in France, who can "provide you with the method for living detached and present at the same time, more detached than you ever imagined you could be, and, consequently, more present than ordinary man can ever be." Thus, he became a pupil of Gurdjieff for two years.

From his exposure to Gurdjieff, Pauwels concluded that, in order to come closer to the core of his being, it was necessary to become nothing, something that Petey often mentions. What he means in this paradoxical oddvoice is that he felt he needed to "die to myself so that an authentic 'I' [could] be born, to be able to present God a more real presence than that of the 'me' named Louis Pauwels."

He eventually concluded that "there was no love in this teaching," and that "the living relationship with others and with God had been left out." But later he changed his mind about this, because the deeper meaning of the teaching was that, in order to establish such a real relationship with God and with others, it was first necessary to establish a relationship with the "more than me which is in me."

(I agree with this, by the way, at least for some people. It actually works both ways. You can discover the "greater me" that is behind or above the ego, i.e., the "psychic being," which is intrinsically connected to the divine, like a spark thrown off from a central fire; or you can first discover the Creator, who is connected to your central spark, so to speak. It's largely a matter of temperament, i.e., bhakti vs. jnani.)

I see that Pauwels says much the same thing: "It is to this that prayer leads: to the extinction of the illusory fires of existence and the appearance of the crystalline light of the core of being. Then only do we call others into being, with love. Only then do we enter into communication with God, who is the nameless and faceless 'I' of all things in Heaven and on Earth. Only then do we begin to understand what incarnation means."

That sounds familiar...

What in carnation?! Congratulations on the equation of your cosmic birth. Oh my stars, He expectorated a mirrorcle, now you're the spittin' image! You haven't perceived the hologram to your private particle? Come in, open His presence, and report for karmic duty. Why, it's a Tree of Life for those whose wood beleaf.

So, did exposure to Gurdjieff help or hinder Pauwel's journey to Catholicism? He concludes that it helped, specifically, "to intensify my prayer and to avoid the soft traps of religious sentimentalism." It also helped him to overcome the two existences within, that of the sleeper and the awakened. You might say it helped him become one, and therefore find the One.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Left, Right & Wrong: Complements Will Get You Everywhere (10.01.10)

Leftism is the static deprivation of the dynamic complementarites of genuine liberalism. --Petey

According to Webster's, metaphor is "a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in the place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them." In short, it is figurative language, which is to say, language, for all language is ultimately a "figure of speech," speaking figuratively. How then do I differ from deconstructionists, who also believe that reality is made of language? Fair question.

Human beings communicate through symbols, and all symbols are ultimately metaphors. Language as such is nothing but an endlessly interlocking series of metaphors, but where I differ with deconstructionists is in affirming that human language is woven out of the universal Logos that necessarily subtends it. In other words, for the deconstructionist, there truly is no there there, no ultimate ground or referent for language. But I am quite certain there is a there there, which we call the Logos.

There is nothing you can say about anything that isn't laden with implicit or explicit metaphors, which is one of the reasons why it is so absurd for the materialist to object to spirituality, since the idea of solid matter is itself a sort of airy metaphor, just a fanciful concept based upon the illusions of our nervous system, illusions like "solidity" or unambiguous "place." Scientists often conflate the abstract and the concrete, and essentially extend the concretions of the nervous system into an abstract worldview. Which is fine, so long as you don't confuse them with metaphysical truth, or with the Ultimate Real.

For their part, so-called fundamentalist religionists often do the reverse, which is to say, concretize the abstract. But only God can really do that, since the cosmos itself is none other than a concretion in a small corner of the Divine Mind. As mentioned a couple of days ago, one of the purposes of scripture -- which employs countless metaphors and other seemingly concrete images -- is to follow it back upstream to its hidden source, the "place" from which revelation perpetually flows like a spring from the ground. Indeed, the place from which language itself flows.

It's not that scientists don't use metaphor in most every statement they make about reality, just that the metaphor has generally become dead, or saturated in Bion's terminology. Often, advances in science cannot be made until a new metaphor is employed. For example, the so-called Newtonian worldview regarded the universe as a giant clock. Seeing it as such is definitely useful, and applying it to our experience discloses a range of additional "facts" to ponder. But eventually, facts are inevitably disclosed that don't fit the old metaphor.

That happened with the development of quantum and relativity theories, way back in the 20th century. There is simply no way to understand the quantum world with the clock metaphor. Rather, it is much more like an ocean, a roiling cauldron of ceaselessly flowing energy that tosses up exterior forms the same way the sea waves upon the shore. Or better yet, perhaps it's like the infinitely complex global weather system. We see things like distinct clouds, but we cannot see (with our eyes) that the cloud is simply an outwardly visible product of an inconceivably complex global weather system. Only Al Gore thinks he can see the latter, but of course his head is up his assumptions.... As Michael Crichton has written, Gore's linear paradigm is so last millennium.

I don't know if I want to get sidetracked here.... then again, maybe I do.... Whatever.... I'm just free associating anyway, following language where it leads.... but this is one of the things Joyce was up to in Finnegans Wake, which is a veritable sea of metaphor constructed out of dozens of languages. It is as if the usual solidity of language has "melted" and we are left with only the quantum realm, so to speak, from which it emerges. Throughout the book, various intrinsic complementarities clothe themselves in time and space with the dream logic of night. Just like the thing we call "history." You might say that Joyce shows us the complementarity between the different forms of logic in history and herstory, if you know what I meme.

In fact, one of the central philosophical ideas to emerge from quantum theory is that of complementarity. That is, we can never affirm one thing about the cosmos without "para-doxically" (which literally means "beyond speech") affirming its complementary opposite. Therefore, is the world made of particles? Yes. Is it made of waves? Yes. But these are opposites. Of course. Well, not really. They are complementary, co-arising simultaneously.

Other important irreducible complementarities in the manifest world include mind/matter, subject/object, unity/diversity, form/substance, individual/group, time/eternity, space/time, male/female, and Lennon McCartney.

Incidentally, one might be tempted to think that Democrat/Republican (or liberalism/leftism) represents a true complementarity, but it doesn't. The true complementarity is within conservatism itself (as always, I am speaking of the classical liberalism of our founders, the closest we have to a "perfect" political philosophy). Among others, it embodies the dynamic complementarity between liberty and order, and permanence and change. Leftism is not complementary to liberalism, any more than disease is complementary to health. Leftism is stultifyingly monolithic and denies many of the most important human complementarities that drive change and progress; for example, the complementarities between male and female, child and adult, sacred and profane, equality and liberty.

Furthermore, leftism imposes false complementarities such as good/evil. Only in this way can the left maintain that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." Evil is not a complement of the Good, but its deprivation.

Nor are freedom and property complementary, the former being rooted in the latter; which in turn is rooted in the 2nd Amendment, which is to say, "don't steal my stuff or I might just shoot you, because if you steal property you are stealing liberty, and therefore human life and dignity itself."

Perfection/imperfection aren't complementary, either. Rather, imperfection is again a deprivation, a declension from the Absolute, as the celestial rays proceed from the vertical cosmic center to the periphery, which, as Schuon has written, "tends" toward a nothing that can never actually be realized. But the hardcore leftist feels a sort of frisson in riding the winds of the ray of creation all the way into the darkness of nihilism. The thrill of the fall, so to speak.

If you don't realize that imperfection is a necessary deprivation, you may be tempted to try to impose perfection from the herebelow, which is one the left's specialties. But as Russell Kirk wrote, conservatives well understand that human nature "suffers irremediably from certain grave faults":

"Man being imperfect, no perfect social order ever can be created. Because of human restlessness, mankind would grow rebellious under any utopian domination, and would break out once more in violent discontent -- or else expire of boredom. To seek for utopia is to end in disaster, the conservative says: we are not made for perfect things. All that we reasonably can expect is a tolerably ordered, just, and free society, in which some evils, maladjustments, and suffering will continue to lurk. By proper attention to prudent reform, we may preserve and improve this tolerable order. But if the old institutional and moral safeguards of a nation are neglected, then the anarchic impulse in humankind breaks loose: 'the ceremony of innocence is drowned.' The ideologues who promise the perfection of man and society have converted a great part of the twentieth-century world into a terrestrial hell."

A leftist-integralist blogger was impressed by the following quote from Ken Wilber, which is about as good an example of the need for buddhaflaw correcting as I could imagine:

"Spirit is not the good half of the opposites, but the ground of all the opposites, and our 'salvation,' as it were, is not to find the good half of the dualism but to find the Source of both halves of the dualism, for that is what we are in truth. We are both sides in the great Game of Life, because we -- you and I, in the deepest recesses of our very Self -- have created both of these opposites in order to have a grand game of cosmic checkers."

Please. This attitude, if applied to real life, would end in leftist horror. It is another false complementarity based upon partial understanding. For as Schuon writes,

"Assuredly it can be said that the Divinity is 'beyond good and evil,' but on condition of adding that this 'beyond' is in its turn a 'good' in the sense that it testifies to an Essence in which there could be no shadow of limitation or privation, and which consequently cannot but be the absolute Good, or absolute Plenitude."

The idea that conservatives "don't want change" is also preposterous. We do, and desperately. But we don't want to do it by renaming evil good. And we want to evolve toward the Good, not have it imposed by leftist elites with their own peculiar ideas about how we should live. The conservative, according to Kirk, feels

"affection for the proliferating intricacy of long-established social institutions and modes of life, as distinguished from the narrowing uniformity and deadening egalitarianism [read: denial of complementarity] of radical systems. For the preservation of a healthy diversity in any civilization, there must survive orders and classes, differences in material condition, and many sorts of inequality. The only true forms of equality are equality at the Last Judgment and equality before a just court of law; all other attempts at levelling must lead, at best, to social stagnation. Society requires honest and able leadership; and if natural and institutional differences are destroyed, presently some tyrant or host of squalid oligarchs will create new forms of inequality."

The so-called "progressive" fails to consider one of the truly enduring complementarities in governance, which is that whenever government does something for you, it does something to you. Which is why, according to Kirk,

"When a society is progressing in some respects, usually it is declining in other respects. The conservative knows that any healthy society is influenced by two forces..., its Permanence and its Progression. The Permanence of a society is formed by those enduring interests and convictions that gives us stability and continuity; without that Permanence, the fountains of the great deep are broken up, society slipping into anarchy. The Progression in a society is that spirit and that body of talents which urge us on to prudent reform and improvement; without that Progression, a people stagnate."

In other words, progress and permanence are complementary, not opposites: "the intelligent conservative endeavors to reconcile the claims of Permanence and the claims of Progression. He thinks that the liberal and the radical, blind to the just claims of Permanence, would endanger the heritage bequeathed to us, in an endeavor to hurry us into some dubious Terrestrial Paradise. The conservative, in short, favors reasoned and temperate progress; he is opposed to the cult of Progress, whose votaries believe that everything new necessarily is superior to everything old."

Clearly, "Change is essential to the body social, the conservative reasons, just as it is essential to the human body. A body that has ceased to renew itself has begun to die. But if that body is to be vigorous, the change must occur in a regular manner, harmonizing with the form and nature of that body; otherwise change produces a monstrous growth, a cancer, which devours its host. The conservative takes care that nothing in a society should ever be wholly old, and that nothing should ever be wholly new. This is the means of the conservation of a nation, quite as it is the means of conservation of a living organism" (Kirk).

Which is why I say that leftism is truly a death cult. Hey, don't believe me. Just judge it by its fruits. And nuts. And flakes. Speaking literally.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Another Inspiraling Circle 'Round the Radiant Center

Well, let's see. I've been blah-blah-blogging now for exactly two years today. Originally it was with the purpose of pimplicizing my book, since I couldn't think of bitter way to sell my soul. It must have worked, because I'm happy to report that the book has been a commercial failure instead of an outright catastrophe.

Still, it's pretty obvious that Petey will never become a household gnome, except O-->(k)sionally for us Brothers & Sisters Under the Pelt. But that's fine. The Secret Protects Itself, even if my book is such a secret that few will always judge it undercover. Nevertheless, if you want to get the blog a birthday present and yourself an indulgence, you might consider finally ordering the damn book to see if we can get it back into the top 100,000 on amazon. Who knows, you might even get the new corrected (with the invaluable assistance of Ricky Raccoon) edition. (An even better idea, and it's free -- just post a positive review on amazon... don't do it for me, of course, but to assist in our internet reacharound for the lost tribe of Raccoons.)

It's not easy being a windepundent theoconservative gliberal fascistic mystic, except maybe for me. I have a pretty good nous, but the only other one I can sniff of offhound is Roy Masters. I immediately alienate half my potential audience because of my bobnoxious politics, even though there's not really any pollutics littering the book. And ninety percent of the other majority of the potential audience will be put off by the mysticism and supraformal neo-traditionalist approach, leaving only the small remnant of Cosmic Raccoons -- who often don't even know they're Raccoons until they accidentally stumble upon the blog. They know they are something -- something different -- but they just don't know what.

Nor do I. Which is why I suppose I keep blogging, now that the failure of the book is assured. In short, the blog too has now taken on a death of its own, as I use it to discover what I don't think about this and especially that. Interestingly, I don't generally use it to coonvey what I know -- or think I know -- since that would rapidly become boring, just the sleepy trancemission of information from one mind to another. More empty shunyada yada yada. I don't know all that much anywuwei. Rather, I generally use the blog to extend into the unKnown -- to go deep see fleshing in the weird word of O and cast a neural net into the dark waters. You know, provoid a little finite form to the formless infinite void.

As I jewst menschened, if I were a garden-variety new-age mean-green spiraling integralist, soiling books would be as easy as selling magic to a moonbat. I mean, if Deepak Chopra can do it, who couldn't? How many ways can you rewrite the The Sellobscene Profitsy, anyway? That whowel movement prides itself on being the cutting edge of cosmic evolution, but I find it all so aphallingly intellectually flaccid and soph-impotent. What it really does is make advaitanced spirituality loser-fiendly to those on the bleating edge of cosmic narcissism. It gives circumnavelgazing a fad name.

I don't know much, but that I do know. I know it, for example, because none of the psychologists they habitually name-check are on my list of deep thinkers. And if they do cite a more profound thinker, they usually twist the teaching into a form suitable to their narrow grandiosity. None of them are familiar with Bion, Matte Blanco, or modern psychoanalysis in general. The only exception I know of is A. A. Almaas, who has an excellent grasp of the scope of modern psychoanalysis, but whose application of it is rather shallow and new-agey.

While I do believe it is necessary to reframe perennial religious truths in a way that modern people can grasp, I part ways with the integralists in imagining that we are somehow higher or more evolved than our illustrious predecessors. Name any contemporary integralist, and they simply cannot match the depth of spirituality found in representatives of authentic traditions, whether it is a Shankara, an Eckhart or a Maimonides. Each of these men looked directly at truth from a different angle, but I find that the new-agers merely look at the illustrious lookers from a single angle, so to speak. But there is already enough profundity in any given tradition to last a lifetime, in such a way that each seeker will find his reward in accordance with the intensity and sincerity of his aspiration, in concert with the grace which flows through that channel.

I was just reading yesterday about Shankara, the most important philosopher-mystic-theologian-sage in the history of India. What Radhakrishnan wrote of him could apply equally to what is needed today:

"A creative thinker of the first rank, Shankara entered into the philosophic inheritance of his age, and reinterpreted it with special reference to its needs.... The different theistic sects were practicing rites in support of which they could cite some text or other. It was a critical period in the history of the Hindu nation, when there was a general sense of weariness with the wrangling sects. The age needed a religious genius who was unwilling to break with the past and yet open to the good influences of the new creeds, one who could stretch the old moulds without breaking them and synthesize the warring sects on a broad basis of truth, which would have room for all men of all grades of intelligence and culture. Shankara 'set to music' the tune which had been haunting millions of ears, and announced [his philosophy] as offering a common basis for religious unity" (Radhakrishnan, emphasis mine).

If the integralists and "evolutionary" thinkers are too far left, then -- at least for me -- Schuon and the traditionalist school are a bit too far right. Although the traditionalists are far more profound than the integralists, I just don't see how the movement can ever appeal to people on a widespread basis. Therefore, the neo-traditionalist mission of the Transdimensional Order of the Friendly Sons & Daughters of the Cosmic Raccoon. I guess I tried to explain this gnocturnal O-mission in my first post:

Q: We don't need another blog. Why are you inflicting your beastly opinions on us?

A: To those of you who are new to this site, join the club, as I am still in the process of trying to understand the author's intention. For surely, there are already far too many books and blogs, with no way any human being could ever assimilate the information contained therein. Actually, the problem we face is how to relate all of this fragmented and sometimes contradictory knowledge into a coherent picture of our world -- to move from mere knowledge, to understanding, to wisdom.

I am a clinical psychologist with a background in psychoanalysis, and, like Shrinkwrapped, Dr. Sanity, and other Uncle Fromms, will attempt to "put the world on the couch," so to speak. If you can detach yourself somewhat and try to "hover" above it, the news of the day may be regarded as the free associations of a very troubled patient called Homo sapiens. This collective patient, now about 40,000 years old (before that we were genetically Homo sapiens but not particularly human), has many sub-personalities of varying levels of emotional maturity, and one of his problems is that these different aspects of his personality are constantly at war with one another, which tends to drag down the more mature parts.

You could almost go so far as to say that this collective patient suffers from the kind of severe splitting and "acting out" characteristic of Multiple Personality Disorder. One of my axioms is that geographical space reflects developmental time, so that different nations and countries embody different levels of psychological maturity. In this regard, the Islamic world bottoms out the scale at the moment, but there are obviously low levels of development living parasitically within the context of higher levels. We call this the psycho-spiritual "left."

More broadly, what I hope to emphasize is an appreciation of the "vertical" dimension of human history, culture and politics. For example, historians typically view history in a horizontal manner, leading from past, to present, to future. Likewise, we divide our political mindscape in a horizontal fashion, from left to right. However, as in a great novel or film, the "horizontal" plot is merely a device to express the artist's greater intention (the theme), which can only be found in a vertical realm, by standing "above" the plot.

Every patient who comes into therapy is the star of an emotion picture that isn't going quite right. They will spend the first few sessions telling you the plot, but soon the analyst will be aware of a vertical dimension where the true but unKnown "author" of the plot lies. And lies. And lies. This is called the unconscious. However, this is just one realm of the vertical. Spirituality is also located on the vertical plane, both very low (as in jihad or human sacrifice) and high (such as genuine mysticism).

Q: Why "One Cosmos?"

A: The title of the blog is taken from my book, One Cosmos Under God: The Unification of Matter, Life, Mind and Spirit. You might say that the book tries to follow the vertical thread that runs through the entire cosmos, ultimately uniting us with our source. That thread runs through physics, biology, psychology, religion, history, anthropology, art, and much more, and yet, it is somehow all One.

Perhaps the central theme of both book and blog is that the frontiers of knowledge and understanding lay not in the further extension of various fields and subspecialties, but in the borderland between them. Around 40,000 years ago, our patient, Homo sapiens, began splintering into its diverse parts, but underneath all of the bewildering diversity is a vertical unity that this blog will attempt to illuminate in various ways. For the key to growth is understanding ourselves, both individually and collectively. Without it, we remain a child forever.

Q: Who are you, anyway?

A: Clinical psychologist Robert Godwin is an extreme seeker and off-road spiritual aspirant who has spent no less than one lifetime in search of the damn key to the world enigma. A high school graduate at just seventeen and a-half, Dr. Godwin attended business school until the vagaries of academic probation and expulsion led him to pursue other missed opportunities. Capitalizing on a natural ability to simultaneously enjoy movies and lower his expectations, Godwin eventually earned a film degree in just four terms (Ford/Carter and parts of Nixon/Reagan). Initially denied admission to graduate school because of "inadequate" academic preparation (their words), Holy Happenstance intervened in the nick of time, and Dr. Godwin went on to obtain two advanced degrees in psychology without allowing it to interfere with his education or with ongoing spiritual research conducted in his suburban liberatoreum. Lengthy periods there of higher bewilderment and intense non-doing resulted in important advances in egobliteration and karmannihilation. At the same time, Dr. Godwin spent many years searching and researching for his book, only to conclude that it did not exist, and that if he wanted to read it, he would have to write it. Having now read it a number of times, he is happy to share that burden with a wider audience of fertile eggheads interested in peering behind the annoying veil that separates them from ultimate reality.

Q: Why the spiritual mumbo-jumbo?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Of Time & Maternity: The Birth of an GnOcean

I dreamt that I was pregnant and full with Nothingness.... and that out of this Nothingness God was born. --Meister Eckhart

Where are we, really? As I tried to coonvey in the book, for the great majority of time that the cosmos has been in existence, there was no where there or here here. There couldn't have been, because there was no one here. Or there. Or when. Or why.

This I know: that the only way to live is like the rose, which lives without a why. --Eckhart

I don't just mean in an "if a tree falls in the forest and no one heard it" sort of way. Rather, there was literally no point of view, no perspective, no separate individual there to experience any-thing. Rather, there was only all places at once. Obviously the cosmos didn't "look" like anything, because there were no eyes. It was utterly silent, being that there were no ears. It was not large or small, cold or hot, hard or soft, bright or dim, Democrat or.... Well, obviously it couldn't have been Democrat, because there was no one there to whine or complain. Not a single victim.

When I dwelt in the ground, in the bottom, in the stream, and in the source of the Godhead, no one asked me where I was going or what I was doing. Back in the womb from which I came, I had no God and merely was myself. --Eckhart

In any nonevent, since all of these are properties of senses and perspectives that didn't exist, we can only say that there was truly nothing. As Whitehead wrote, "Apart from the experiences of subjects, there is nothing, bare nothingness." Or, as Schopie wrote, "If I take away the thinking subject, the whole material world must vanish, as this world is nothing but the phenomenal appearance in the sensibility of our own subject, and is a species of the subject's representations."

Now the moment I flowed out from the Creator, all creatures stood up and shouted: "Behold, here is God!" They were correct. For if you ask me, Who is God? What is God? I reply: Isness. Isness is God. --Eckhart

This business of isness represents a more profound notion of creatio ex nihilo, or creation out of nothing, for it means that the creation of the cosmos is truly an eternally recurring psychoneumatic act. And yet, a moment's coontemplation reveals that this mental act is also entangled with the cosmos from which it emerged. Thus, in some way that we generally don't appreciate, the outside and the inside of the cosmos are reflections of one another. The best image I can come up with is that of a Klein Bottle, which has only one surface, but an interior and an exterior:

"In mathematics, the Klein bottle is a certain non-orientable surface, i.e., a surface (a two-dimensional topological space) with no distinction between the 'inside' and 'outside' surfaces. Other related non-orientable objects are the Möbius strip and the real projective plane. Where a Möbius strip is a two dimensional object with only one surface and one edge, a Klein bottle is a two dimensional object with a single surface and no edges. For comparison, a sphere is a two dimensional object with no edges and two surfaces.... Like the Möbius strip, the Klein bottle is a two-dimensional differentiable manifold which is not orientable. Unlike the Möbius strip, the Klein bottle is a closed manifold, meaning it is a compact manifold without boundary. While the Möbius strip can be embedded in three-dimensional Euclidean space R³, the Klein bottle cannot. It can be embedded in R4, however" (Wikipedia).

Thus, perhaps time is nothing more than our wending our way through to the bigending of a snaking Klein Bottle.

In my flowing-out I entered creation. In my Breakthrough I re-enter God.... Just as God breaks through me, so do I break through God in return. --Eckhart

Now, as we have been saying, the unconscious mind preserves the original placelessness of the cosmos. In that regard, it might be thought of as providing a more accurate reflection of the nature of the cosmos.

In ether worlds, just as living beings emerged from a unitary, all-at-once cosmos, so too did (ontologically) and does (developmentally) the individual ego emerge from the timeless mamamatrix of the unconscious oneconscious. Each of us has repeated the process of creation out of nothing by pulling an ego up & out of the formless infinite void. In the words of Sri Aurobindo, "A miracle of the Absolute was born / Infinity put on a finite soul." For this reason, Mouravieff asked "How do you describe the creation of the world?... The world is created anew for each newborn person."

From all eternity Got lies on a maternity bed, giving birth. The essence of God is birthing. --Eckhart

It's all so unnarcissary, isn't it? "The act of creation... is the spontaneous overflow of God's nature.... Out of the fulness of his joy, God scatters abroad life and power" (Radhakrishnan). "God's motive in creation is his love.... Creation is not an act so much of his free will as of his free love" (Kallistos Ware). Yes, "the world is a gift of God." Ah, but "we must know how to perceive the giver through the gift" (O. Clement). How to open His presence?

If the only prayer you say in your entire life is "Thank You," that would suffice. --Eckhart

Now, if the cosmos is hurtling forward to its Origin, then "the final goal of being is the darkness and the unknowability of the hidden divinity, which is that light which shines 'but the darkness cannot comprehend it'" (Eckhart). So, repetey after me,

Unborn body of the bodiless one
Dark rays shining from a midnight sun
Your phase before you were bearthed and begaialed
Empty tomb of a deathlaz child

The most beautiful thing which a person can say about God would be for that person to remain silent from the wisdom of an inner wealth. --Eckhart

Shut my mouth! Enough bull, its ineffable. Stop prehending. Telos when it's over. Now. It is accompliced. End of the piper trail. You're on your own. Above my head, beyond my ken. Thy wilber done. Lost my aperture. Just apophatic nonentity.

A big joke, really. Yes, existence is a laughing martyr:

Do you want to know what goes on in the core of the Trinity? I will tell you. In the core of the Trinity, the Father laughs and gives birth to the Son. The Son laughs back at the Father and gives birth to the Spirit. The whole Trinity laughs and gives birth to us. --Eckhart

Badda-bing, badda-


*All the Eckhart quotes are taken from a nice little book by a naughty little man, Meditations With Meister Eckhart


Unrelated -- Proof that Van Morrison is a Raccoon:

And why Van Should be Taught in Our Schools

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Speaking Toddlerese to the Left

If human beings communicated only from conscious mind to conscious mind, they would be computers, not human beings. True, some communication is purely informational, such as a weather report. But not always. For example, when Al Gore talks about the weather, it is largely unconscious emotion that is being conveyed and stirred, not objective information that is being transmitted. In short, it is group hysteria for the benefit of providing a means for the weak-minded to externalize and articulate their existential anxiety.

Conversely, when a Bill Clinton sounds as if he is communicating unconscious emotion, he is simply manipulating you. That is, just like an actor, he has consciously mastered various techniques to stir unconscious emotion in his listeners. In his case it is pure sham, but one could well imagine cases in which this skill could be put to good use, for example, in the rhetoric Churchill used to rouse his nation during World War II. The problem with Clinton is that his techniques are so laughably transparent to anyone who is not seduced by his sociopathic charms -- the pointed finger, the bitten lip, the squinting eyes, the hands over the heart, etc.

One could even say that one of George Bush's greatest faults has been his inability to rhetorically manipulate citizens in a positive manner, which most any great leader must do in order to be great. Although the content of Bush's speeches is often first rate, the speeches apparently do not communicate from unconscious to unconscious, which truly powerful rhetoric must be able to do in order to speak to the "group mind." If a leader cannot speak to the unconscious, he will generally be rejected.

The psychohistorian Lloyd deMause writes of how a political leader is actually a "fantasy leader" who must articulate and contain the fears and anxieties of the group. To the extent that he fails to do this, he will be attacked and vilified, just as a psychotherapist is when there is a disconnect, or empathic failure, between therapist and patient. While people can be in touch with reality, groups tend not to be. This is why, for example, the economy can be performing quite well, but the group can be living the fantasy that things have never been worse. Since this is an irrational fear, it generally cannot be combated on rational grounds, as anyone who has tried to have a rational conversation with a leftist quickly realizes. The leftist lives in a fantasy world that is quite real to them, and unless you find a way to speak to their fantasies, you'll get nowhere.

This reminds me of a technique we've employed with our son that works like magic, that is, speaking to him in a language he understands, "toddler-ese." This idea was developed by pediatrician Harvey Karp in his book The Happiest Toddler on the Block. It probably sounds like a gimmick, but it's worked for us. As the reviewer says,

"Viewing toddlers as primitive thinkers akin to prehistoric man, Karp divides his patients into developmental groups: the 'Charming Chimp-Child' (12 to 18 months), the 'Knee-High Neanderthal' (18 to 24 months), the 'Clever Cave-Kid' (24 to 36 months) and the 'Versatile Villager' (36 to 48 months). Parents may find the toddler years so frustrating, Karp suggests, because they don't speak their child's language. To deal effectively with the undeveloped brains of toddlers, one must understand 'toddler-ese,' he says, a method of talking to youngsters that employs short phrases, repetition, a dramatic tone of voice and the use of body language."

Another reviewer writes that "Although the analogy to prehistoric man is overdone a bit, there are so many sensible, clear strategies to try with 1-4 year olds that really are working for us. Talking toddler-ese has really made a difference in the cooperation we are now getting from our 2 and 3 year olds. Mirroring their feelings and 'wants' with short, repeated phrases that reflect the child's words, tone and body lauguage has quickly and almost magically stopped much of my toddlers' defiant, annoying behaviors. Karp emphasizes that what you say to someone who is really upset is less important than HOW YOU SAY IT. And his theory has proven itself to be correct in our home."

When a child is angry or frustrated, you will notice that a parent often talks to the child like he's a subordinate adult. Now that I speak toddlerese, I notice this all the time. For example, a child might be playing in the sandbox at the park. The parent says it's time to go, and the child says "no." The parent then says words to the effect of, "let's go. You can come back tomorrow." But this only escalates the child.

Instead, you need to acknowledge what the child is feeling inside. For example, let's say Future Leader is immersed in some enjoyable activity, but it's time for a diaper change. He starts screaming and protesting. What doesn't work is saying, "c'mon, it'll just take a few minutes, then you can get back to what you were doing. Stop complaining, and cowboy up." What does work is saying (with the appropriate emotion) something to the effect of "Tristan's really mad! He was having fun! He doesn't want a new diaper!"

As I said, it works like magic, but once you think about it, it's easy to understand why. First, it puts their otherwise inarticulate emotions into words, thereby containing them. Secondly, it is empathic, demonstrating to them that you know how they feel. Conversely, to say in effect, "shut up, grow a pair, and quit complaining" is to completely ignore and devalue their experience. After all, you wouldn't treat an adult in this authoritarian way. Let's say the husband is engrossed in a ball game on TV, but the wife wants to go shopping. I know of a certain wife who might have said something like, "let's go, it's just a stupid game. There'll be another one tomorrow."

Suffice it to say that they are now divorced.

Speaking of dictators, the other day I was reading a book by Carl Jung, in which he discusses the appeal of Hitler to the German people, which was purely on this level of fantasy leader. He was able, like an oracle, to articulate the group fantasy of the German people, and to speak to them unconscious-to-unconscious.

As Jung said in a 1936 interview, Hitler was a sort of "medium" who had an uncanny ability to articulate what the nation was feeling at any given time: "German policy is not made; it is revealed through Hitler. He is the mouthpiece of the gods as of old. He says the word which expresses everybody's resentment." It is "rule by revelation": "He is the first man to tell every German what he has been thinking and feeling all along in his unconscious about German fate, especially since the defeat in the Great War." "All these symbols together of a Third Reich led by its prophet under the banners of wind and storm and whirling vortices point to a mass movement which is to sweep the German people in a hurricane of unreasoning emotion and go on to a destiny which perhaps none but the seer... can foretell -- and perhaps not even he."

Fuhrermore, in a 1938 interview, Jung contrasted Hitler with Mussolini, the latter of whom was still "human." But "with Hitler, you are scared. You know you would never be able to talk to that man, because there is nobody there. He is not a man, but a collective. He is not an individual, but a whole nation." Nothing Hitler said makes any sense to the non-German unconscious, with the interesting exception of the Islamic world, where Mein Kampf is always a huge seller.

With that in mind, I wonder if Jung's advice to America would be the same as it was in this 1938 interview:

"How to save your democratic U.S.A.? It must, of course, be saved, else we all go under. You must keep away from the craze, avoid the infection.... America must keep big armed forces to help keep the world at peace, or to decide the war if it comes. You are the last resort of Western democracy."

And we must learn toddlerese in order to communicate with the intellectually knee-high neanderthals of the left:

"Dennis is really mad! He wants a Department of Peace! Hillary very upset! Army men are big bullies! Obama scared! Big bombs go boom in night!"