Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Between Thought and Reality

It is as though true ideas took their revenge on on anyone who limits himself to thinking about them. --F. Schuon

Gumshoe alerted us to this piece by the great Theodore Dalrymple at City Journal, in which he takes aim at the popular middle-to-lowbrow atheistic tracts flooding the marketplace. While some are more crude than others, the loathsome Sam Harris is definitely pulling up the bottom. I use the word "loathsome" advisedly, but if Dalrymple has reported his words accurately, then Harris has a mind as coarse and barbaric as any genocidal imam that he criticizes. Which makes sense, in that "extremes meet."

Dalrymple writes that "it is not easy to do justice to the book’s nastiness," and about the most charitable thing he can say about Harris is that he combines "sloppiness and lack of intellectual scruple" with "adolescent shrillness and intolerance" -- which he can always use as a letter of recommendation to the New York Times editorial board.

Dalrymple cites a passage that is "quite possibly the most disgraceful that I have read in a book by a man posing as a rationalist." In that passage, Harris expresses the opinion that “Some propositions are so dangerous that it may be ethical to kill people for believing them. This may seem an extraordinary claim, but it merely enunciates an ordinary fact about the world in which we live.”

Yes, ho hum, just an ordinary fact: it's ethical to murder people for their religious beliefs.

As I've said before, nothing as ugly as atheism could possibly be true (and I'm not suggesting that all atheists are as deranged as Harris; many are fine people). Even though he's not a believer, Dalrymple says what amounts to the same thing about the relationship between beauty and truth:

"I recently had occasion to compare the writings of the neo-atheists with those of Anglican divines of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.... In my own neo-atheist days, I would have scorned these works as pertaining to a nonexistent entity and containing nothing of value. I would have considered the authors deluded men, who probably sought to delude others for reasons that Marx might have enumerated." But in looking into these religious writings, "I found myself moved: much more moved, it goes without saying, than by any of the books of the new atheists."

Too bad for Dalrymple, as he is probably a case of someone being so intelligent, that his intelligence nearly ruined him. Indeed, his hyper-developed rational intelligence -- like the cherubim who guard the way back to Eden -- is probably what keeps him from taking the next leap of faith into actual belief. As much as I respect him, one doubts that he will undertake the task of discovering "what moved" in him while reading those words, nor the source of the Mover. But you never know.

As Hoarhey said in a comment yesterday regarding Mrs. G's experience of being moved in church,

"Not that Christianity isn't also geared to adults, but there is an innocent part which is easy to grasp for kids at an early age. I've also seen teenagers who have been raised in Christian homes who seem innoculated to the pop culture of this society which brings at least a portion of many people's lives to ruin. They just decline the temptations with an easy 'no thanks' and move on.

"Oh to not have to dig out of the wreckage and shed the baggage!" (emphasis mine).

It took me years to dig out of the wreckage of the finest education the secular world has to offer. I don't mean to brag, but for those of you who don't know this, Cal State Northridge, where I obtained my BA in film, is considered the Harvard of the north San Fernando Valley.

Just as the Jesuits said something to the effect of "give me the child and I shall give you the man," the same is equally true of a secular brainwashing -- except that if you give them a man, they'll give you back a boy. And the more intelligent you are, the more likely it is that you will receive this brainwashing at a very high level, and then have to undo it in order to escape that closed circle and once again know reality.

Once internalized, the brainwashing often becomes part of the superego, so that to go against it feels like a betrayal. Even I sometimes say "spiritual" instead of "religious" or "Creator" instead of "God," because I know how the latter saturated words sound to the intelligent non-believers I would like to reach. For similar reasons, I prefer "liberal vs. leftist" rather than "Republican/Democrat" to describe our political space. For example, many nominal Jews are just loyal Democrats, just as many blacks are inexplicably loyal to their contemptuous white leftist masters.

Among other reasons, I am a believer because it is so much more deeply intellectually satisfying (on the psychic level) than any version of materialism, which, in the end, is the only other option, whatever you choose to call it. I mean, the intellect of a Frithjof Schuon so far surpasses that of these atheistic scribblers, that they might as well be a different species. As Dalrymple writes, the neo-atheists essentially "advance no argument that I, the village atheist, could not have made by the age of 14." They are essentially stuck in Piaget's stage of formal operations thought, which is definitely an accomplishment. But it is hardly the end point of man's potential development.

Schuon observed that "One can most certainly prove every truth; but not every proof is accessible to every mind." How true. In fact, the materialist's demand for proof "increases in proportion to ignorance, not in proportion to knowledge," which results in dragging truth down to the depths to which they themselves have fallen. In other words, the more you venture into materialism (which, ontologically speaking, takes you directly away from the Source of Truth, like "the ascending curve of a circle changes imperceptibly to a descending curve"), the less you will be capable of knowing spirit, for there won't be any space left for it to inhabit. There is a kind of bovine concreteness to atheism that is just impenetrable. Faith and prayer are largely about clearing that space.

This reminds me of a playful comment Alan Watts once made about so-called "American materialism." He pointed out that most people we think of as materialistic aren't actually materialistic at all. Rather, they spend their life chasing after abstractions, like the professional athlete who uproots his life in in order to earn 8.3 million dollars in three years instead of 8.0. Personally, I just love matter -- books, records, mountain biking, meditation, playing with my son, etc., etc., very concrete things and activities that I would have much less time for if I were to chase after some abstract dollar figure.

Similarly, as Schuon notes, "Men of a rationalizing disposition are obsessed with 'thoughts'; they see concepts, not 'things,' hence their criticisms of inspired and traditional doctrines." These slaves to mere reason are presumably under the illusion that religious doctrines are of the same order as their cherished thoughts and concepts, but in fact, they "perceive neither the realities to which these doctrines refer nor the unexpressed things that are there taken for granted." This is because "a metaphysical doctrine is the mental incarnation of a universal truth" (emphasis mine). It is not abstract, but obviously quite concrete -- not because it is primitive, but because it is the instantiation of a Real transcendent idea in the material world. It is a God-given support for intellection, not the product of thinking.

Dilys left a a relevant comment yesterday, again in response to Mrs. G's adventures in Catholicism: "Never saw it said better, the end run around the saturation of memes, language, and ideas: 'What I thought I knew about Christianity was a child's view and that there is a vast richness there unknown to me before.'"

She also refers to the cooncreteness of it all: "For those hovering around these questions, I can mention that many Catholic Churches have opened to the public an Adoration Chapel, usually tiny and quiet premises where the Blessed Sacrament -- according to the doctrine, the Real Presence of Christ -- is exposed to view in a jeweled monstrance. I have found that to be a highly-charged atmosphere rewarding attentiveness, patient waiting, praying for guidance, and asking, face-to-Face as it were, What's the deal here on this stuff? Is it true? Why or why not? The answer, and the palpable authenticity of an answer, may be surprising."

It's all there: "the mental incarnation of a universal truth," "the realities to which these doctrines refer," and "the unexpressed things that are there not taken for granted."

In order to reach the truth it is necessary to awaken in oneself if possible the intellectual faculty, not to strive to "explain" realities one does not "see" with the reason. --F. Schuon.

*Schuon quotes taken from Spiritual Perspectives and Human Facts

Monday, October 29, 2007

Unknowing What You Know in Order to Know What You unKnow

Now that I no longer post on weekends, it's a little difficult to get back into the flow on Monday. It seems that on Saturday and Sunday I revert to my pre-blogging self, for whom daily blogging would have been impossible to begin with. I suppose the same thing must have more or less happened to the Colorado Rockies. Under normal circumstances rest is good, but in their case, it broke the spell they had been under for the previous month.

There's a being mode and a doing mode, and this weekend I was trying to get into the being mode in order to accomplish some doing. The doing has to do with coming up with an idea for a sequel to One Cosmos. Obviously I have plenty of ideas, but what I'm looking for is an organizing principle that will harmonize them and bring them all together, and that's not the kind of thing you can try to come up with.

Rather, in my experience, you have to clear a space in your mind in order to allow the Overmind to spontaneously come up with something on its own. It's like pattern recognition, which must be intuited, not imposed. If you try to impose order on your mind, it's not going to have the kind of robust stability that arises spontaneously. No one knows how we can recognize a face -- including the face of God -- but it's certainly not through induction.

It seems that you can't fool the Overmind, any more than you can fool nature. For example, growing a potato takes as long as it takes to grow one. True, you can fiddle around at the margins a bit, but only up to a point. It's a human conceit to think that we think our thoughts anyway. No one knows what a thought is, where they come from, where they go, how they develop, what their boundaries are, how they combine with other thoughts, how they can be "true," or exactly how long it takes to grow a deep one.

But I suppose it's the rule rather than the exception to impose some kind of artificial order, not just on the mind, but on the world. And this problem afflicts intellectuals more than normal people, since the intellectual is much more prone to conflating his abstractions with reality. Plus, intellectuals are often narcissistically invested in their intellect, no different than a physically attractive narcissist might be invested in their looks. If politics is "show business for the unattractive," academia is politics for the downright ugly. The ugliest ideas in the world are openly embraced in academia, ideas fundamentally lacking in wholeness, harmony, and radiance.

Real thought -- the kind of thought a Raccoon cares about -- is much closer to perception than it is to cogitation. It is seen, not deduced. This dovetails with what Mrs. G. was saying yesterday about her experience in church. In order to comprehend religious truths, it is generally necessary to disable what most people call the "mind," which is in reality just a noisy "thought factory." This factory should be closed on Sunday.

Christianity, with its vivid iconography, is able to cut through a lot of "sophisticated" mental knots. In other wordlessness, it is a very visual religion, providing images that can speak directly to the heart -- or to the nonverbal right brain, if you like (which is directly connected to the cardiac center). These images work like seeds planted in the "unconscious" mind (which, of course, isn't "un" conscious at all, any more than soil is unconscious; fertile soil -- which is full of micro-organisms, enzymes, insects, and other beings -- knows exactly what to do with a seed, and vice versa). It is no wonder that Jesus used so many agrarian metaphors. God is not like a building made bricks, but a tree planted in the sky. And your mind is the sky.

Just yesterday I read the following by Schuon, which directly addresses the difference between O and (k), or Reality and our thoughts about it: "Metaphysical knowledge is one thing and its actualization in the mind quite another. All the knowledge (k) the brain can hold is nothing in light of the Truth (O) even if it is immeasurably rich from a human point of view. Metaphysical knowledge is like a divine seed in the heart; thoughts represent only faint glimmers of it" (emphasis mine).

This is why the relationship between revelation and philosophy is approximately that of organic food to artificial food (while its relationship to new age spirituality is like food to junk food). As someone mentioned in a comment the other day, no matter how hard science tries, it will never be able to invent food more nutritious than that which spontaneously grows from the earth. For one thing, science -- which only knows what it knows, but not what it doesn't -- can only extract abstract quantities (e.g., vitamins) from food, and then try to reproduce them.

But more and more research is demonstrating that there are properties in natural foods that just can't be quantified -- even the colors, e.g. green tea, blueberries, red wine, etc. (As someone once said, why should we trust the government on global climate change if they can't even get the "Food Pyramid" right? Ten or twenty years ago, unrestricted carbohydrates were good for you; now we have a nation of diabetics.)

In any event, what Schuon is saying is that revelation embodies deep metaphysical truths that may be actualized in the mind by "dwelling" within them, so to speak. And these truths will be much deeper than what science or philosophy can come up with. This is not to knock the latter, because (k) is important and certainly has its place. But we are talking about something fundamentally beyond the reach of science, that is, growth -- and salvation -- of the soul.

To cite another example by Schuon, he points out that "A proof is not convincing because it is absolute -- for this could never be -- but because it actualizes something self-evident to the mind" (emphasis mine). In short, proof -- even scientific proof -- is only possible on the basis of prior knowledge. In other words, there is nothing deterministic in this or that proof that compels us to accept it. Rather, our acceptance of this or that proof is an act of judgment that can never be captured by any logical operation (echoes of Gödel again). Once you have accepted a proof, you have left the closed circle of mechanical reason, and are in the realm of faith. Or as Schuon beautifully puts it,

Correlative to every proof is an element eluding the determinism of mere logic and consisting of either an intuition or a grace; now this element is everything. In the intellectual order logical proof is no more than a thoroughly provisional crystalization of intuition, the modes of which are incalculable because of the complexity of the real.

Go ahead, read it again, slowly. I'll wait.

Now surely, based upon this, it is far easier to prove the existence of God than it is to prove the existence, say, of manmade global warming. The latter is expressed with all the trappings of science, but in the end, the science is only accepted if one has already done so -- because it actualizes something self-evident to the mind.

And this, of course, is the secret of our liberal MSMistry of Truth, which only covers things it already knows to be true, for example, that we have lost the war in Iraq, or that lower tax rates cause deficits, or that women are an oppressed minority, or that America is a racist country. I'm sure you can think of dozens of others. I can't because I have to get to work....

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Adventures in Exploring a New Faith (by Mrs. G.)

I am hoping to post most Sundays about the experience of investigating a new faith and church (Our Lady of Malibu). Mostly, I'd like to spark a discussion about the topic of finding faith as an adult, raising children in a faith you didn't grow up in, and/or making the commitment to one particular faith in a public way.

I am not speaking for Bob in these posts, but I want to give him credit for having been most instrumental in my finding spiritual guides. He's also helped me understand things I otherwise wouldn't have even known whom to ask -- and in other ways that I could never fully express.

Quick background: I was raised in a secular Jewish home, but even as a young child I was a seeker and wanted to know God. I even went to a variety of different services with neighbors and with my grandparents, and was exposed early on to Reform Judaism and the Episcopalian church, as well as a 70's style of spiritual seeking with looser parameters, but based on Christianity.

Currently, I'm a devotee of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. I don't have any problem with that practice for myself, and I've been very faithful to it, for lack of a better term. I'm a true believer, you could say. But once Tristan arrived, I now have him to consider. Magic 8 ball kept saying, "answer hazy, ask again later." I knew The Mother would let me know what to do when the time came, and recently, she did.

Bob suggested a little while ago that a religious education might be worth considering for Tristan. The more I thought about it, the more I felt pulled to bring Tristan to a local Catholic Church, Our Lady of Malibu (OLM), to worship and to go to school. Then I guess the idea really took hold of my soul, and I myself felt drawn to converting to Catholicism.

I went to mass today for the first time at OLM. Tristan and I went with a friend who grew up Catholic and occasionally goes to OLM. Tristan immediately threw a tantrum on the floor of the church, so we were quickly facing Plan B: the Child Care room. Because of damage from the recent Malibu fires, they no longer had a large room with lots of toys. Instead, they had to make do in a very small room with a giant Xerox machine that had probably been somewhere else before the fires. There was a group of well-behaved girls doing crafts at a table when we walked in. The door was propped open and they didn't know where their baby gate was. Hmmmm. I stayed a few minutes to see if Tristan thought of the Xerox machine as a ladder, or if he would try to flirt with the girls instead. When another little boy showed up, I decided to go back to the mass with my friend.

OLM is very understated compared to what I expected at a Catholic Church. The room where they have mass is bright with an A-frame roof, but it's very simple. There is a window above the altar with a beautiful outdoor statue of Mary. The way it's configured, Mary is surrounded by bougaanvillea and looking down at us past the Christ on the Cross on the wall next to the window.

I let go of the thought of what Tristan might be getting into and let myself be drawn into the service. As soon as the priest read part of the mass from the prayer book my eyes started filling up with tears. When I was first exposed to Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, they each suggested to read his work with your heart, not your head. That's not exactly how they said it, but the idea was not to intellectually try to understand and analyze each concept, but to notice how you respond in your heart and soul to what you're reading. I took this approach this morning. Otherwise, I know I would have thought about what is different about Catholic teaching than what I'm used to, or how much trouble it is to get Tristan there, or whether I'll relate to anyone else once I get to know them, or what my secular parents would say if they knew I am planning on converting to Catholicism, and on and on. Blah blah blah.

Later in the service when they did the communion, I again had a very strong emotional response. This time, I had tears running down my face. I'm sure that I had a lot of spiritual feelings bottled up since before Tristan was born. That was the last time I went to any spiritual services. I used to go regularly to the beautiful Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine in Pacific Palisades, and Bob and I would occasionally go to the Hollywood Vedanta Temple. But I don't feel that this explains my reaction completely. I am sure I was supposed to be there today and it confirmed to me that I'm on the right path.

Tristan was doing really well in the small child care room, and I am getting pretty good at not worrying about him when he's with other people. He's so outgoing, he doesn't get upset at being apart from me if there are interesting distractions, new toys, or pretty girls to keep his attention. He wanted to come out by the end of mass and I brought him into services toward the end. We sat right near the musicians in case Tristan would like that, and he did. He loved it. He danced and clapped and pointed out all the instruments, but mostly watched in awe. I don't think he's ever seen a live performance of any kind of music.

During one silent part of service when people were receiving communion, I told him that it was quiet now and that people were praying. It was totally quiet, actually, and I was whispering in Tristan's ear to keep him from squirming too much. I whispered, "Thank you, God" as an example of what it means to pray. He immediately repeated in a clear, high little toddler voice, "Thank you, God!" Everybody looked around at us. I am sure when I was younger, I would have been embarrassed. But I felt much more comfortable at my advanced age, and Tristan was so totally innocent of trying to get attention or anything that would have annoyed me as an onlooker, so I just took it for how sweet it actually was.

I won't usually have this much to say at once. But I thought a little bit of explanation was warranted. I especially want to know about your experiences as an adult exploring your spirituality, and anything else you might want to share.

Thanks!

Leslie (Mrs. G)

Around the Cosmos in 100 Words

I notice on Amazon that they have a function that gives you the most common 100 words in the book's text.

Being that I have far more important things to avoid, I tried a little experiment, that is, writing the whole book with just those 100 words. So this is the coondensed version, for Raccoons with insufficient timelessness to read the whole thing.

*****

.... First, God really does exist, real spiritual fact.

Thus, universe, mind, space, time, physics, reason, form, everything possible.

Whole/part. Two exist!

Material world, rather, process system.

Means consciousness must order things. Seems matter may even actually experience itself: Nature-->Life-->Man.

Science. Knowledge. Religion. Meaning.

Years point toward another true thought between human brain, Self existence.

People different culture/state cannot see own problem parasites.

Should understand past history, know reality!

Great kind individual cosmic beings come, take upon body, able simply say truth according divine language.

Sense cosmos! Without words, something beyond book. Evolution end now. Nothing new....

Friday, October 26, 2007

Wandering, Wondering, and Blundering into the Mystery

The very word “man” implies “God,” the very word “relative” implies “Absolute.” --F. Schuon

To know what man can be is to know that God is, which in turn leads to an understanding of what to do about the situation, i.e., meditation, prayer, the cultivation of virtue, and wandering about aimlessly but not omlessly in the desert, each of which is a different mode of faith and worship. In this regard, "Faith is like an ‘existential’ intuition of its ‘intellectual’ object" (Schuon), the pre-conception required to give birth to the seed of God.

First of all, you needn't waste any time trying to prove whether God exists, because man is the evidence you seek, if only you would seek and discover the Real Man behind the mask. It is like leaves trying to prove -- or disprove, as the case may be -- the existence of trees by growing more leaves. Once you walk the plank into God's arbor and your wood beleaf, the coonundrum ends and the Great Mystery begins. And it is a "mystery in motion," otherwise known as an adventure -- the only one that really Is and has ever been: the adventure of consciousness. The melody of your life continues to play, only transposed to a higher key.

Now "mystery," like "worship," is a misunderstood word. Just as "worship" -- or what we were calling (w) -- is the cultivation of an (L) and therefore (K) link between God and man -- or O and (¶) -- mystery is not an absence of knowledge, but a pregnant space where a certain kind of knowledge flows. But to distinguish this from profane, horizontal knowledge (k), we call this latter form (n).

As a brief aside, I feel sorry for anyone who is not able to plunge heart first into the adventure of consciousness and abide in the Great Mystery that is. Having lived in both worlds, I would never return to being a sleepwalking clockjockey down in 4D. To be honest, I never really was. Rather, I made a solemn vow way back in high school that I would never join the conspiracy to rob me of my own slack -- a loss which cannot be quantified because timelessness cannot be measured. Suffice it to say that it is of infinite worth to a man who cares about his spiritual development and the fate of his soul.

I think I was probably a born "pneumatic," as Schuon calls it (although Petey might take issue with this). I can't think of any better explanation. There are just certain people for whom it requires little effort to see that the spiritual world is more real than the conspiracy world, and that the game isn't worth the condle in the latter swindle. Schuon writes that "The pneumatic is a man who identifies a priori with his spiritual substance and thus always remains faithful to himself; he is not a mask unaware of his scope, as is the man enclosed in accidentality."

I don't want to romanticize my past, because it hasn't always been easy being, er, different. One of the reasons is that when the typical neurotic person notices -- but doesn't yet gnotice -- that he is different from the Others, he usually blames himself and tries to conform to the group, thus sacrificing his individuality and aborting the adventure of consciousness (since it is only the individual that can take this trip; there is no group rate). It took quite a while to simply let my freak flag fly without feeling self-conscious about it. To be honest, it was probably only after I started blogging that I really "pulled out all the stops," so to speak.

I mean, even in writing the book, you can see that I "pulled back" from where I am now. This is because when I wrote it, I wasn't sure if there were any other Raccoons out there -- you know, freevangelical pundamentalists, vertical theocons, and neotraditional cosmonauts. Therefore, as odd as the book is, I still had to make some concessions to the conspiracy, since I hadn't yet started the coonspiracy. But now, with the blogging, I don't care. I now have a small audience of Raccoons scurrying about in my head, which is what has stimulated my creativity and allowed me to blog every day.

I'm probably going to get sidetracked here, but this is important. The other day I was reading a talk by Joseph Campbell, about how he took the extreme measure of checking out of the conspiracy back in his day, which in turn became the interior touchstone of his life, since it allowed him to contact his true self and then live from his center from that point onward.

It's really a pretty remarkable story, and I imagine that most Raccoons will relate to it, even if they reject some of Campbell's later new age noodling. He attended Princeton in the mid-1920s, and could have easily taken the traditional path to graduate school and then academia. But during a visit to Europe in 1927-28, he came into contact with all the new trends that were going on at the time -- Jung, Joyce, modern art, etc. -- so that when he returned, he had lost all interest in what academia had to offer:

".... So I said to hell with it. I went up into the woods and spent five years reading.... It was from 1929 to 1934, five years. I went up to a little shack in Woodstock, New York, and just dug in. All I did was read, read, read, and take notes. It was during the Great Depression. I didn't have any money...."

Importantly, this wasn't just aimless reading, but what someone else once called the "mystery school of individuation." Perhaps you're familiar with the concept. You find one book that speaks directly to your soul, which tips you to another one that does the same. Pretty soon you're embarked on a wild nous chase, not for any "exterior" purpose, but for the purpose of trying to articulate the idiom of your own soul. The end result -- among other things -- is that 1) you know you have a soul, 2) you are aware that your soul is very specifically yours (i.e., it has its own divine clueprint, so to speak), and 3) you don't want to do anything in life that would interfere with the intrinsic joy of living from your soul.

But it takes a lot of courage and persistence to do this: "Actually, there were times when I almost thought -- almost thought -- 'Jeez, I wish someone would tell me what I had to do,' that kind of thing. Freedom involves making decisions, and each decision is a destiny decision. It's very difficult to find in the outside world something that matches what the system inside you is yearning for. My feeling now is that I had a perfect life: what I needed came along just when I needed it. What I needed was life without a job for five years. It was fundamental."

Because he was detached from the conspiracy, Campbell was able to take advantage of the more subtle currents that course through the arteries of the Cosmos: "... there's the idea of bumping into experience and people while you're wandering. You really are experiencing life that way. Nothing is routine, nothing is taken for granted. Everything is standing out on its own, because everything is a possibility, everything is a clue, everything is talking to you.... You are in for wonderful moments when you [live] like that -- for example, my putting up my hand in the Carmel library and finding a book that became a destiny book.... That rambling is a chance to sniff things out and somehow get a sense of where you feel you can settle." (This reminds me of the rabbinic saying that God spends most of his time arranging meetings and marriages.)

I feel sorry for young men and women today who go straight from high school to the university idiot factory and then on to some slackless job, slaving away for the conspiracy. They're missing out on the experience of a lifetime, which is to say, the writing of their own unique lifetome -- which only the individual soul can compose.

I can relate to Campbell's story, because in my case I quit college in my junior year (before they could expel me), and spent the next five or six years wandering, but not idly. Rather, it was a period of intense non-doodling, as if my soul were on fire and I was looking for water. By the time I entered graduate school in 1982, I was an utterly different person than I would have been had I spent all those years in the idiot factory. In short, I never would have become me. Whether it was luck or destiny, I cannot say.

But for the "pneumatic personality" -- which I imagine describes most Raccoons -- "he is born with a state of knowledge which, for other people, would actually be the goal, and not the point of departure; the pneumatic does not 'go forward' towards something 'other than himself'; he stays where he is in order to become fully what he himself is -- namely his archetype -- by ridding himself, one after the other, of veils or outer surfaces, shackles imposed by the ambience or perhaps by heredity. He becomes rid of them by means of ritual supports -- 'sacraments,' one might say -- not forgetting meditation and prayer."

Now back to our irregularly unscheduled program. Schuon agrees that mystery is not an absence of knowledge but the presence of a certain kind of profound knowledge; for it "is the essence of truth which cannot be adequately conveyed through language -- the vehicle of discursive thought -- but which may suddenly be made plain in an illuminating flash through a symbol, such as a key word, a mystic sound, or an image whose suggestive action may be scarcely graspable." Elsewhere he states that "Mystery is as it were the inner infinity of certitude, the latter could never exhaust the former."

Again, it is far from being something vague or fuzzy: "By ‘mystery’ we do not mean something incomprehensible in principle -- unless it be on the purely rational level -- but something which opens on to the Infinite, or which is envisaged in this respect, so that intelligibility becomes limitless and humanly inexhaustible. A mystery is always ‘something of God.’"

Let go into the mystery
Let yourself go

There's a way and a mystic road
You've got to have some faith
To carry on....

You've got to dance and sing
And be alive in the mystery
And be joyous and give thanks
And let yourself go
--Van Morrison, The Mystery

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Irreverence and Other Sacred Cows

Worship. Why worship the Creator?

Webster's tells us that the word comes to us from both Middle English and Middle French, and has to do with worthiness, repute, respect, or reverence paid to a divine being. It is also "an act expressing such reverence." Being that it is about as universal a (pre)conception as there is in the human arsenal, even looked at from a purely anthropological standpoint, there must be something about it that is absolutely intrinsic to being human. Dylan probably nailed it when he sang that you're gonna have to serve somebody, so it might as well be the Absolute.

Atheists imagine they don't worship anything or anyone, but this is pure naivete. If we strip the word "worship" of certain saturated images and ideas, they're just like everyone else. To put it another way, if you don't respect and revere what is absolutely worthy of such, you're just not human. The impulse to worship comes from such a deep unconscious wellspring, that it is naive to imagine that you could somehow bypass it. To the extent that you try, you will simply replace the absolute with the relative, which is idolatry, or rebel against the absolute, which is satanism.

Could it be that worship simply has to do with Darwinian survival, as sociobiologists and evolutionary psychologists maintain? I doubt it, because so many forms of worship are so utterly non-adaptive and damaging to the survival prospects of both individuals and groups. Take the Aztec, for example. They worshipped a god who required a constant diet of sacrificial victims. Clearly, they were simply worshipping a psychological projection of their own bloodthirsty mind parasites, as do our contemporary Islamist monsters of depravity. In these cases, the "worship function" -- let's just call it (w), to avoid saturation -- is appropriated by psychopathological elements with their own agenda.

As I mentioned in the Coonifesto, mind parasites operate in a manner that exactly parallels their viral or bacterial cousins in the material world, that is, by taking over the machinery of the host and using it to reproduce themselves. Our minds, just like our bodies, have certain "functions" with which the parasite can interfere.

For example, one of the most important functions of the mind is its epistemophilic instinct. If this instinct is not guided by a love of truth, it can easily be commandeered by other factors and thereby go astray. Indeed, human history is littered with knowledge that wasn't really knowledge because it was serving purposes other than truth.

You might think that this is only a problem that afflicted primitive peoples, but you'd be wrong. To cite one obvious example, the reason why leftist universities have become such "bullshit factories" is that the epistemophilic instinct is given free reign to worship anything but truth, for example, diversity. Being that truth exists on a vector that tends toward unity, the worship of diversity institutionalizes the Lie.

In the metaphysics of Vedanta, there is the idea of the three gunas, which are qualities or modes that permeate all of creation. These are sattwa, or the upward tendency; rajas, the expansive or "passional" tendency"; and tamas, the downward or inertial quality. Each human being is a combination of all three, although one tends to dominate. (The gunas have other implications, but we'll ignore those for now.)

As Schuon, explains, this implies three general modes of living; in the case of sattva it is "conformity to the Principle"; in the case of rajas, it is "the expansive affirmation of possibilities, hence 'horizontal' -- or, if one prefers, 'passional' -- existence; while tamas would imply "non-conformity to the Principle," that is, "the illusory movement in the direction of a 'nothingness' that is inexistent, obviously, but that is possible as a negative and subversive point of reference." It is the movement from the cosmic center to the periphery.

You might say that the sattvic person worships the Absolute, while the rajasic person worships the world -- which will be a good or bad thing depending upon the degree of sattvas or tamas (in other words, it is obviously possible to appropriately love the world). The tamasic person, as Schuon suggests, is at best "floating" or "drifting" away from the Absolute. But add a little rajasic passion to the mix, and you have someone who is actively doing so, which is what the psychospiritual left is all about: a passion for godlessness, or religious fervor in the absence of its appropriate object.

This is why the Democrat party doesn't need religion, since it already is one. You will notice how stiff and awkward they sound when trying to mimic real religion (except for the satanically passionate ones, e.g., Sharpton and Jackson). They just don't get it. But this is not to say that they have no (w), which they obviously do. It is just oriented in the wrong direction. Among other sins, they inappropriately love the world (and many of its most unlovable inhabitants, for that matter).

Now, one of the ways Bion revolutionized psychoanalysis was by focussing on the link between two objects, as opposed to the impersonal discharge of an instinct. To greatly oversimplify, Freud would say that love merely rides piggypack on the sex instinct, whereas Bion would say that sex is a link between objects characterized by love, hate, or knowledge, or (L), (H), or (K). For example, for a person with a perversion, the sex instinct has become an (H) or (-L) link between the two objects (who, by the way, are actually subjects, properly speaking; the word "object" is a holdover from the old instinctual model).

You will note that Genesis is very astute in this regard, for it says that Adam knew Eve, which is to emphasize how different humans are from animals when it comes to the sexual instinct. Obviously, animal sex has no (K) link; nor any (L) or (H) link, for that matter. On the other hand, human sex without a (K) or (L) link is not properly human. It is something less, closer to animal sex (but actually lower, since animals are not violating their own nature by engaging in animal sex). Only man can sink beneath himself, and therefore, other animals. The fact that he can be lower than an animal is what separates him from them.

I'm starting to run out of time, but what I would like to suggest is that (w) is a critical link between God and man, or, of you prefer, O and (¶), as I put it in the book. In other words, it is not merely a mode of subservience, but of knowledge and love, and therefore union. To put it another way, to spontaneously worship the Creator is to already confess knowledge of him.

Well, I'd better get to work. To be continued.....

The whole order of relations among the various worlds may be conceived in images of intimate engagement, a kind of sexual contact between one world and another, between one level of being and another. --Adin Steinsaltz, The Thirteen Petalled Rose

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

O You're Vine, Mr. Finn! (10.08.10)

Just as today's armies are equipped only to win yesterday's wars, we cannot expect contemporary physics to successfully cope with problems other than those with which it has already coped. --Robert Rosen, Life Itself

As we were discussing yesterday, it is very unlikely -- impossible, really -- that the cosmos is analogous to a machine. Rather, it is much more like an organism or even a mind than it is a machine. And once we understand this, it makes the appearances of life and mind much less problematic, based upon the principle "as above, so below."

Coonversely, if we begin with the scientistic principle "as below, so above," we really can't ever leave the cosmic eschatolator. It is a world intrinsically devoid of values, progress, hierarchy, or even evolution (as opposed to mere change).

Based upon the proper application of reason, it is easy to understand how someone could arrive at the logical necessity of God. To put it another way, I have never heard any version of atheism that isn't shot through with unjustified premises, illogical conclusions, and metaphysical cul-de-sacs.

However, to merely prove the existence of a creator tells us nothing about what this creator is like, for example, whether he is even good or worthy of worship. Indeed, how did this idea of "worship" slip in, anyway? Supposing physicists eventually discover a mathematical "theory of everything." It is highly unlikely that they will worship it, even if it is their ultimate scientific icon. So why should we worship our Ultimate Principle? We'll get to that later.

If the Creator exists, it necessarily follows that he is "like us," without being limited to being like us. This is true of any level in the cosmic hierarchy. For example, life is "like matter," without being limited to it. Likewise, human beings are "like primates" without being limited to that. Or, to put it another way, if we turn the cosmos right side up, and begin at the top, we can see that each level of reality is a diminution, until we reach the realm of dense matter.

And in fact, all esoteric cosmologies continue down beyond matter, which makes perfect sense, since the "ray of creation" proceeds from the cosmic center (or top, if you like), and continues on "forever," so to speak, to the threshold of nihilism, or nothingness. In this regard, we can see that matter is superior, say, to the nihilists of dailykos, even though we cannot treat them as such, out of respect for their still human potential.

I realize that some readers think Schuon is difficult or obscure, but really, the following cannot be said with any more adamantine precision. The difficulty probably results from trying to read what he is saying while standing upside down. Basically you're out of your tree. Once you properly orient yourself to reality, feet firmly in the air -- roots aloft, branches down below -- it makes perfect sense:

"The diverse manifestations of the Good in the world clearly have their source in a principial and archetypal diversity, whose root is situated in the Supreme Principle itself, and which pertains not only to the Divine Qualities, from which our virtues are derived, but also -- in another respect -- to aspects of the Divine Personality, from which our faculties are derived" (emphasis mine).

Recall Jesus' ironic and amazingly soph-aware remark, "Why do you call Me good? There is none good but one, that is, God." What this means is that if we begin "at the top" -- which is to say, with the Absoluteness of God -- then we must conclude that only God is absolutely good: "He alone possesses, for example, the quality of beauty; compared to the divine Beauty, the beauty of a creature is nothing, just as existence itself is nothing next to the Divine Being" (Schuon).

But God, being absolute, is necessarily infinite. As such, his absolute transcendence is matched by his infinite immanence that extends everywhere and into every thing -- and which ultimately is another form of transcendence! It is why, for example, God is intuited in the very large, i.e., infinite, and the very small, i.e., the infinitesimal. And it is why "every hair on your head is counted," more on which later.

Because of the immanence of the Absolute, it can be said that "the beauty of a creature -- being beauty and not its contrary -- is necessarily that of God, since there is no other; and the same is true for all the other qualities, without forgetting, at their basis, the miracle of existence." Therefore, if we turn Jesus' statement around and consider it from the standpoint of immanence instead of transcendence, it would be something like "You folks call me good because there is none good but one, that is, God, and we are necessarily not-two."

Yesterday we were discussing how these principles may be applied to life, not just biological life, but to life as such, of which biological organisms are a reflection. For clearly, as I mentioned in the Coonifesto, God is obviously alive; but just as obviously, not a biological organism. In fact, if animals could speak to biologists, they might say something like, "Why do you call me alive? There is none alive but one, that is, God." Then again, animals say this all the time. But in order to gnotice it, you must be an animal lover, for love is the "link" or "channel" for such information. That or beauty.

Rosen -- who was a "hard" scientist, and, to my knowledge, not a religious man -- wanted to know "what it is about organisms that confers upon them their magical characteristics, what it is that sets life apart from all other material phenomena in the universe. That is indeed the question of questions: What is life? What is it that enables living things, apparently so moist, fragile, and evanescent, to persist while towering mountains dissolve into dust, and the very continents and oceans dance into oblivion and back?"

Of course, he looked for (and found) a scientific answer, but it is an answer that ultimately "must be," for the very same reason that the Creator must be. Rosen provides a hint of the reason for this in the Prolegomena of the book, where he observes that, "Ironically, the idea that life requires an explanation is a relatively new one. To the ancients, life simply was; it was a given; a first principle, in terms of which other things were explained."

But life "vanished as an explanatory principle with the rise of mechanics," even though machines -- which are created for a purpose -- are much more "like life" than life is "like a machine." It is as if scientists abstracted some quality from life, and then re-projected the abstraction onto the concrete reality, thus conflating the two. Frankly, they do this all the time, which is why one must make a conscious effort to escape the influence of the crimped models of reality proffered to us by science.

One thing atheists and other materialists habitually do is to naively take their abstractions for the reality. The genome is not a map, the brain is not a computer, mountains are not triangles, and love is not a baseball game. But I am a Raccoon, a true son of Herman Hildebrand, a mystery for you to ponder until I pick up this thread tomorrow.

Abide in Me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in Me. --John 15:4

Monday, October 22, 2007

Looking for the World, Finding the Creator (10.07.10)

Atheism is not a philosophy. It is not even a view of the world. It is simply an admission of the obvious…. Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make in the presence of unjustified religious beliefs. --Sam Harris, Unscientist and Nonphilosopher

Science is and must be exciting, since it relies on largely unspecifiable clues which can be sensed, mobilized and integrated only by a passionate response to their hidden meaning.... This is the unaccountable element which enters into science at its source and vitally participates throughout, even in its final result. In science this element has been called intuition. --Michael Polanyi, Scientist and Philosopher

Continuing our little raiding party on the wild godhead, Schuon writes that on the natural plane -- i.e., the horizontal world of empirical reality -- it is sufficient "to have at one's disposal the necessary data and then to reason correctly."

As it so happens, the same rules apply to the suprasensable world, with one important difference, "that the object of thought then requires the intervention of intellection, which is an inner illumination" (emphasis mine). However, the difference is not really as stark as one might suppose, for as Schuon adds, "if natural things may require a certain intuition independent of reasoning as such, then supernatural things will a fortiori require intuition of a superior order, since they do not fall within the reach of the senses."

You will notice that in my list of book raccoomendations in the sidebar of the blog, I don't place too many philosophers there, mainly Michael Polanyi (there is no perfect introduction, but this is probably the best one), one reason being that he most adequately expressed this idea of "lower intuition," so to speak, being critical to the evolution of scientific understanding and therefore progress into the great unKnown. It's not so much that the "intuition" is lower, only that science applies (and arbitrarily limits it) to a lower order of reality, i.e., the material/horizontal world. But to point out that the material world cannot be understood in the absence of intuition is to simultaneously affirm the obvious fact that the world is not material.

Theists often argue that most of the world's greatest scientists have been religious, but in the end, that is neither here nor there. More importantly, science itself cannot operate without certain functions that most people would regard as spiritual or quasi-religious, certainly not "mechanical" or empirical. Even to digest the most alimentary fact, "reason requires data in order to function, otherwise it operates in the void." Therefore, something transcending reason must supply the material for it to operate on, or else you are truly trapped in an absurcular universe from which there is no escape -- not even into knowledge.

In a way, this mirrors the philosophical problem of the ontological status of mathematics. That is, the most perfect mathematical account of the cosmos will never account for two things, 1) the mysterious existence of its own invariant mathematical operations, and 2) the "substance" to which the mathematical equations apply (in other words, no mathematical equation can create reality, only provide an abstract description of it).

In reality -- which is where we want to be in -- the data required by reason can only come from four sources, 1) the world, which is objective, 2) experience, which is obviously subjective, 3), "Revelation, which like the world is objective since it comes to us from without," and 4) "intellection, which is subjective since it is produced within ourselves" (Schuon).

In a gnotshul: exterior world, interior experience, exterior revelation, and interior intellection.

But it is the work of a moment to see that each of these implies and even "contains" its opposite. For example, the fact that we may comprehend the "inner workings" of the exterior world indeed suggests that it has an interior, as Whitehead understood almost a century ago, based upon the (then) new findings of quantum physics. Likewise, the fact that we may objectively understand reality must mean that there is something of the unwavering object inside the human subject. And revelation, save for the most dull-witted literalist (who may be a theist or atheist, it doesn't matter) is like a veritable interior cathedral that ultimately discloses the mind of the Creator (not completely, of course, any more than any text could exhaust the mind of its author).

Reason and experience: both are far more mysterious than the weak secularized mind can appreciate (which is why it is so easily secularized). Back to Michael Polanyi. In an essay entitled The Unaccountable Element in Science, he explains how it is impossible in the practice of science to replace unspecifiable acts of personal judgment -- AKA, intuition -- with the operation of explicit reasoning, as if our minds operated like machines. This applies not only to scientific discovery, but to "the very holding of scientific knowledge."

He begins by citing Kant, who acknowledged that "into all acts of judgment there enters, and must enter, a personal decision which cannot be accounted for by any rules." In other words, "no system of rules can prescribe the procedure by which the rules themselves are to be applied." This is particularly obvious in my own racket of psychology. You cannot unambiguously convey to another person the "rules" for apprehending the unconscious mind. Rather, this ability can only be gained through experience, even though it is "rule bound."

To bring it down to a more mundane (or sophisticated, depending on your point of view) level, when John Madden and I watch a football game, we "see" entirely different realities. What may look like mere "noise" to me, will constitute a field of extremely significant "facts" to Madden. And what looks important to me, may be just noise to him -- a sort of diversion that obscures the real action.

So, BOOM, right away, we can see that one of the indispensable skills of the scientist -- or, shall we say, the expert in any field, from football to theology -- is to distinguish between noise and information. The expert is able to convert what is foreground to the untrained eye into background, so as to attend to hidden clues that only the expert can intuit -- which is to say, appreciate as clues. In psychoanalysis it is called "listening with the third ear," but every discipline or field of study must have something similar, whether it is quantum physics, wine tasting, or biblical exegesis:

"This gift of seeing things where others see nothing is indeed the mark of the scientific genius." Atheistic flatlanders such as Sam Harris see easy solutions everywhere. In contrast, what the genius or superior Man of Achievement sees is a problem where others don't: "All research starts by a process of collecting clues that intrigue the enquiring mind.... The knowledge of a true problem is indeed a paradigm of all knowing. For knowing is always a tension alerted by largely unspecifiable clues and directed by them towards a focus at which we sense the presence of a thing -- a thing that, like a problem, embodies the clues on which we rely for attending to it."

So don't give me this "God is just an intuition" business. For reality itself is nothing but an intuition. And atheism is indeed "nothing more than the noises (merely) reasonable people make in the presence of (their own) unjustified (ir)religious beliefs."

Or, to put it another way, God is not the solution. He is the problem. But only if you can give up your false solutions and are sophisticated enough to intuit the clues within the noise. In short, to see God, you must quiet the noise and get a clue. Otherwise you'll be stuck down in the realm where truth lies -- or where "the answer is the disease that kills curiosity."

Why, on what lines will you look, Socrates, for a thing of whose nature you know nothing at all? Pray, what sort of thing, amongst those you know not, will you treat us to as the object of your search? Or even supposing, at the best, that you hit upon it, how will you know it is the thing you did not know? --Plato, Meno

Now -- if you haven't got an answer
Then you haven't got a question
And if you never had a question
Then you'd never have a problem
But if you never had a problem
Well, everyone would be happy
But if everyone was happy
There'd never be a love song
--Harry Nilsson, Joy

Friday, October 19, 2007

Supposing Reality Exists: What Next? (10.06.10)

Let's suppose reality exists. If it does exist, then it is not sufficient to merely think or talk about it. Rather, we will want to be in conformity with it, no?

To put it another way, to not be in conformity with reality will result in death, injury or disease in one form or another.

For example, if you are not in conformity with the reality that walking into a speeding bus can be harmful, you won't live very long. But if you aspire to be a world-class mathematician, you won't get very far either if you refuse to conform to the dictates of basic math. Your career will die, as it were. And if you wish -- or even don't wish -- to know God in the absence of conformity to that reality, you will undergo spiritual death. Again and again.

Now obviously, it is possible -- common, actually -- to have thoughts that do not conform to reality, and not just if you're frankly crazy. Leftists are proof of this. Nor does intelligence help. Our universities are proof of that. And good intentions are of no help at all. The Democrat party proves this year in, year out.

Again, in order to have a cosmos, there must be a differentiation between subject and object. But no sooner do you have this differentiation, than you have a distinction between reality and appearances. The "human vocation" is to know the difference and to act upon it. The former is wisdom, the latter morality. Beauty is the creation of objects through which this reality is reflected.

In the words of Schuon, "He who conceives the Absolute... cannot stop short de jure at this knowledge, or at this belief, realized in thought alone; he must on the contrary integrate all that he is into his adherence to the Real, as demanded precisely by Its absoluteness and infinitude."

Therefore -- and here's the point -- "Man must 'become that which he is' because he must 'become That which is.'" Which is why the new and improved "first commandment" is to love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.

In ether worlds, it takes all four -- heart, soul, mind and body -- to achieve this conformity. Leave out one, and you leave a "hole" in the Divine reality, the fullness of which is reveiled only in our adequate mirroring of it.

In man, the three transcendentals -- the Good, the True and the Beautiful -- are reflected in the form of Will, Thought, and Love, respectively. In other words, we must will the Good, know the True, and love the Beautiful. For who would want to will the bad, know lies, and love ugliness?

Don't get me started....

Just as wisdom is the beauty of the mind, virtue is the beauty of the will. And beauty itself reveals the intelligence -- not to say, love and will -- of creation, and therefore the Creator.

The point is that our Thought, Will, and Love are not merely isolated functions that arose "from nothing." Rather, they specifically function in a vertical-teleological manner toward their appropriate ends. It is impossible to coherently argue otherwise. People will the bad all the time, but it's only because they confuse bad and good, as in the U.N.

Likewise, people regularly teach and learn falsehood, but only because they either conflate it with truth, or deny the existence of Truth. If the latter, then "thought" will simply meander in a meaningless way over the blandscape of the mind, going from nowhere to nothing and then back again. It takes approximately four years to complete this round trip at a major university.

To quote Schuon, "Without beauty of soul, all willing is sterile, it is petty and closes itself to grace; and in an analogous manner: without effort of will, all spiritual thought ultimately remains superficial and ineffectual and leads to pretension."

Let's think about that one for a moment. Are there beautiful souls?

I don't really have to think about it, it's so obvious. But what I don't understand is how an atheist can get through life and not be in conformity with this simple reality, i.e., the existence of beautiful souls, along with the natural desire for one's own soul to attain such supernatural beauty.

Again, such madness is analogous to wishing to develop one's mind even while denying the sufficient reason for its development, which is Truth. And who doesn't love Truth?

Don't get me started...

It's quite simple, really, because the Real is simple: There is something that man must know and think; and something that he must will and do; and something that he must love and be (Schuon).

Notice the invariant in these three statements about human reality: must.

Therefore, Man is the unnecessary being that must Must, in conformity with the Being that Must Be, since we didn't have to be.

In other words, human beings are contingent -- which is to say, relative -- not necessary, or Absolute.

And yet, religion is here to teach us how to travel the perilous path from contingency to Necessity. The secret lies in the Must, which is that little portion of necessity we share with the Creator. But, in keeping with the gift of free will, it is necessary for us to "activate" the divine Must, for only in conformity to this potential reality are we necessarily free.

Or, the crucifixion of the contingent is resurrected in the Absolute.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Creator: What's He Really Like?

He must really like beetles, as one biologist put it. But aside from that -- and not discounting what revelation has to say -- what can we sophly affirm about God? In order to approach this question, we'll have to serve a little detention in the office of the Divine Principle.

Ironically, although the school founded by Schuon is called "traditionalist," it is precisely those who are most traditional who are likely to reject his ecumenical but non-synthesist approach.

That is, Schuon insisted that all of the authentic revelations were correct -- i.e., more or less adequate to disclose valid and operative knowledge of God and Salvation -- even though the individual practitioner is unlikely to regard his tradition as just one of many. Schuon addressed this issue in a number of subtle and sophisticated ways, but there again, I would guess that the passionate believer in the One True Faith would consider Shuon's handling of the matter as "too clever by half."

Still, there are ways around the problem. For example, it probably makes no sense to say that one religion is absolutely correct while all the others are absolutely in error. Therefore, there can be degrees of religious truth, so to speak. For example, Ann Coulter was recently attacked by irreligious bigots for essentially saying just this: that Christianity represents the "perfection" of Judaism, not its annulment. Naturally, a Jew believes no such thing, but no one accuses the Jew of being a religious bigot because he believes Jesus was just a confused or grandiose rabbi.

In fact, Jews and Christians can live harmoniously because they share a core set of values, but differ on their theological expression. Thus, Coulter was in no way suggesting that Judaism was "absolutely wrong," but only relatively so in light of what she regards as the "perfection" of Christianity. Schuon would probably say that both religions are relatively absolutely true, but anyone is still free to think their religion is the "most adequate."

In point of fact, one cannot practice a religion and not think it is absolute, for the very reason that one of its purposes is to convey a sense of the Absolute, and you cannot understand the Absolute in terms of the relative.

Then again -- and here is where a bit of confusion arises -- we can only understand the Absolute in terms of the relative, so long as we are alive and living in this relative world: You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live. This is really just another way of saying "no one can know me absolutely on this side of death." Even Jesus agrees: Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.

Therefore, we must use "analogues" to try to comprehend a God who always transcends our categories, which is the deeper meaning of As above, so below, Let us make man in Our image, according to our likeness, and God became man that man might become God. Other animals were created according to their kind, meaning that they are based upon their own platonic archetype. Only man was ultimately fashioned from the divine archetype (although not only from this archetype; you might say that it is the "ruling" or "solar" archetype that transcends, subtends, and potentially harmonizes all the others).

So, we may use analogy in a certain way in order to understand the Divine Mind. For example, being that we are in the image of the Creator, we are as different from the other animals as God is from us. And we are not just different in terms of some scientific quantity, i.e., more intelligent or more self-aware.

Rather, we are qualitatively (which is to say, vertically) different in ways that are absolutely unbridgeable (because vertical) by biology. All other animals are trapped in their subjectivity, unable to stand outside it. But human beings are precisely capable of objectivity, which is "the capacity to step outside of our subjectivity and thus to transcend ourselves; this is precisely what characterizes the intelligence and will of man" (Schuon). In turn, this is why Man is a doorway to the Absolute and can know objective Truth.

The human intellect has two capacities that work in harmony to create the possibility of growth or "evolution" toward our own divine archetype. First, we may discern -- which is to say "separate" -- reality and appearances, "the Absolute and the contingent, the Necessary and the possible, Atma and Maya" (Schuon). But this discernment is "joined, complementally and operatively" with the capacity to unite or synthesize differences; which is why it is said that "science is the reduction of multiplicity to unity," and that "to know much, you must know little."

The typical secular intellectual knows everything about nothing (i.e., the relative) but nothing about Everything (i.e., the Absolute). And yet, he still necessarily elevates the relative to the Absolute, which is a sort of backhanded tribute to the unity of the One, an ideal unity that is the ground and sponsor of all knowledge. If there were no Absolute, we could truly know nothing, which is an absurdity.

In order for there to be a cosmos at all, there must be a separation, or division, between knower and known, subject and object, interior and exterior, infinite and finite. Thus, the first act of creation is to make this primordial division between Beyond Being and Being. This can be expressed in diverse ways.

For example, Genesis posits a realm of primal watery chaos; it is dark, void, and without form. So the first act is to divide light from darkness, the waters above from the waters below, the vertical from the horizontal. The appearance of the dry land is none other than the finite within the infinite, or you might say (k) from O. Or, you could say that it is an ego, or individual subject, won from the formless infinite unconscious void.

Here is some analogue language to flesh out where we are at this point:

The essentially creative act is the dissociation of subjectivity and objectivity out of the primal unity. Self and not-Self then come into being, though not into independent being, for each is bound to the other by the unity of which both are polar aspects (Sri Krishna Prem)

The fiat lux of the first day of creation and the fiat lux of the awakening of faith in the soul are of the same essence. In both cases it is a question of the creative act of "Let there be light! (Meditations on the Tarot).

Sparks of holiness are imprisoned in the stuff of creation. They yearn to be set free, united with their Source (Lawrence Kushner).

That there should be physics is a miracle (James Cronin).

Nothing comes into existence unless the divine spark of consciousness, no matter how faint or dim, lies at its center (Richard Smoley).

There is no greater love than that of the sacrifice of eternity for the limitations of existence in the transient moment (Meditations on the Tarot).

When the divine plenty is manifested in its complete fullness there is no room for the existence of anything else. A world can exist only as a result of the concealment of its Creator (Adin Steinsaltz).

Eternity is another word for unity.... Time is eternity broken into space, like a ray of light refracted in the water (Abraham Heschel).

In the incarnation humanity is the "boundary" or "frontier" between the visible and the invisible, the carnal and the spiritual, like a mediator between creation and creator (Olivier Clement).

Eternal, he assents to Fate and Time / Immortal dallies with mortality / The All-Conscious ventured into Ignorance / He whose transcendence rules the pregnant Vasts / Prescient now dwells in our subliminal depths / The Absolute, the Perfect, the Alone / Has entered with his silence into space / He has made this tenement of flesh his own (Sri Aurobindo).

Or, if you prefer an unassailable digital redoubt, "The One emerged from the Zero and proceeded to create the 1 and 0, which evolved and transcended themselves in the Cosmic 3."

To be continued....

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Human Trifecta: Infinite Stupidity, Wicked Humor, and Evil Morality

The decisive error of materialism and of agnosticism is to be blind to the fact that material things and the common experiences of our life are are immensely beneath the scope of our intelligence. --Frithjof Schuon

And just what is the scope of human intelligence? At its outer and inner edges, it is none other than the Infinite, the Absolute, the Eternal. It cannot be surpassed, for it is potentially total, which is to say, "adequate," or proportioned to, the Divine Mind. Hear me now, believe me later.

If those sophering from materialitis and reductionosis were correct, this total intelligence would have no cause and no explanation, certainly not on Darwinian grounds. Obviously, no other animal has an intelligence that infinitely exceeds the necessities of survival.

In other words, "survival" is the sufficient cause of animal intelligence. But what is the sufficient cause of mathematical truth, aesthetic truth, metaphysical truth? Not to mention, music, humor, love, poetry? As I said in my book, these are "luxury capacities" that are as different from animal intelligence as life is from matter.

To quote Arthur Koestler,

"[T]he evolution of the human brain not only overshot the needs of prehistoric man, it is also the only example of evolution producing a species with an organ which it does not know how to use; a luxury organ, which will take its owner thousands of years to learn how to put to proper use -- if he ever does."

And luxury is an apt word, for it is a kind of extravagant light placed in the middle of nowhere, like a brain inside Paris Hilton. How did it get there? Why does she have it? She'll never use it. It will just sit there idly, like a huge inwhoritance she'll never touch. How could natural selection produce a bunch of nothings capable of knowing the Absolute but individuals capable of knowing absolutely nothing?

As the zoologist and science writer Matt Ridley put it, there is simply no conventional scientific way to "understand how a costly investment in big brains today may be justified by cultural riches tomorrow."

To which a Raccoon always adds cultural poverty, i.e., the structured stupidity that has beset most human cultures down through history. In this regard, we are the true multiculturalists, in that we believe they're almost all pretty damn stupid. Those cultures that have escaped enforced collective blindness and motivated stupidity are the great exceptions, not the rule.

In a peripheral or possibly direct way, Dr. Sanity's post today touches on an aspect of this problem. For example, if you want your country to flourish, oy vey, don't be such a schmuck: just befriend the Jews. In this regard, you can take the Bible quite literally: I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse (Psalm 37:22). I would guess that there's just about a 1:1 correspondence between the success of a country and its hostility toward Jews, being that the anti-Semitic Islamic world is at the bottom of the barrel of bipedal monkeys.

Dr. Sanity quotes Meryl Yourish, who writes that

"People talk about the brain drain of various nations’ top scientists and doctors coming to the U.S. because here’s where the action is. But let’s not forget the incredible addition of talent America has received due to the persecution of European Jewry for the last few centuries. The waves of Jewish immigrants from Europe brought America a lot more than the Hollywood studio system. It brought us top scientists, thinkers, doctors, technologists, and authors." The anti-Semite David Duke "goes to Iran to be feted by his fellow bigots at the Holocaust denial conference, while back in America, the Jews that Duke hates so much are working hard at their respective crafts, and being recognized by the rest of the world for the valuable contributions they make."

Dr. Sanity cites the statistic that "Though Jews make up a mere 0.25 percent of the world’s population and a mere 3 percent of the United States', they account... for 27 percent of all American Nobel Prize winners, 25 percent of all ACM Turing Award winners for computer science, and 50 percent of the globe’s chess champions." Not to mention a disproportionate number of the world's great comedians -- the Marx Brothers, Woody Allen, Jerry Seinfeld, Jack Benny, Rodney Dangerfield, and dozens of others. On the other hand, nearly all Islamic comedy is inadvertent, as we shall see below.

There is a wise crack in the Talmud that says something to the effect of "every blessing carries a curse." Thus, it seems that human beings could not be given the gift of potentially infinite intelligence without simultaneously being exposed to the imbaccilus of infinite stupidity. Indeed, if you toss free will into the package, how could it be otherwise and be other than wise? Intelligence, being both free and infinite, must be free to be infinitely stupid. Which is why, in the words of Ronald Reagan, "The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so."

So, on the one hand, natural selection cannot account for an intelligence that vastly exceeds the needs of survival; but nor can it account for an "intelligence" that is so comprehensive in its stupidity that it clearly undermines survival prospects. That God placed the Muslims on top of the oil proves that he too must have an ironic (sadistic?) sense of humor. Or, as Joyce put it,

Hohohoho, Mister Finn, you're going to be Mister Finnegan! Comeday morm and O, you're vine! Sendday's eve and, ah, you're vinegar! Hahahaha, Mister Funn, you're going to be fined again!

Nevertheless, this meandertale is a grand funferall with many a smile to nondum if you're abcedminded to its claybook!

In fact, humans are so intelligent, that they can use their intelligence to explain away their utter stupidity, as demonstrutted in this hilarious interview on Muslim TV (cited by Dr. Sanity) that goes into the question of why the Nobel Prize has been awarded to 167 Jews, and to only four measly Arabs out of 380 million -- all four of whom "are considered traitors."

The interviewee answers with a series of questions: "Are we Arabs not included in the transfer of the scientific genetic code? We, the descendants of Al-Khawarizmi, Al-Jahez, Al-Razi, Avicenna, Ibn Al-Haytham, and Casey Kasem -- are we all born idiots? Is there not a single scientist or deejay among us? Are we not included in the genetic code? Is intelligence not transferred down among us Arabs?"

Yes, of course. No animal is intelligent enough to be as stupid as this person. They ought to give a Nobel Prize for Intelligent Stupidity. Oh wait. And the winner is, Al Gore.

By the way, they also give the Nobel Prize for "evil goodness," as indicated by Yasser Arafat, Jimmy Carter, and Kofi Annan. Again, only a highly moral animal could be so infinitely morally confused.

Now, let us suppose that we are made "in the image of the creator." That doesn't really explain much unless we know what the creator looks like, so to speak.

That was going to be the original topic of this post, but I got sidetracked, so I suppose it will have to wait until tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Premises and Conclusions on the Way To God

In order to rearrive at the Divine Reality, one must begin with the proper premises. You know, garbage in, garbage out, which is the entire intellectual basis of misosophic atheism.

In other words, atheists "reasonably" conclude that God doesn't exist, seemingly oblivious to the fact that they have only proven that their conclusion follows from their premise. But all conclusions follow from premises, so they haven't actually proven anything, except unwittingly -- and that would be the fact that Man is the being who employs truth to arrive at reason, not vice versa. Or to put it the Schuon way, something isn't true because it's rational, but rational because it's true.

I've been rereading one of my favorite books by Schuon, Survey of Metaphysics and Esoterism. The majority of his books are merely collections of essays, with no central, unifying concept or theme. However, that would be a rather superficial characterization, since Schuon is always writing from the center itself. It is as if each essay is a fresh consideration from the center of being to the periphery of language, or what we call O-->(n). Once you become accustomed to his style -- something most people apparently have difficulty with -- you understand that nearly all religious writing is actually (k)-->O. While the latter can be technically "true," it will be in ways that couldn't be more different from the former. (Naturally, when one dwells in scripture, one is attempting to have a similar experience of O-->(n).)

I notice that Dinesh D'Souza is going to take a crack at debating Christopher Hitchens next week on the existence of God. D'Souza (whose new book is entitled -- and it's not a question, but a statement -- What's So Great About Christianity) thinks he will make more heartway than the feeble pastors who have thus far been eviscerated by Hitchens, but I doubt it:

"So far Hitchens and his fellow atheists have had it relatively easy. Hitchens has been going around the country debating pastors. Pastors are supposed to be models of Christian charity. This means that Hitchens can call them names but they cannot call him names. Pastors are required to turn the other cheek, while Hitchens gets ready to kick them in the rear end. Moreover, pastors are not used to fending off attacks from people who deny the validity of the gospels and, in Hitchens’ case, even cast doubt on the historical existence of Jesus Christ. How can you quote Scripture to a man who denies the authority of Scripture to adjudicate anything? So Hitchens has a good game going, because he gets to make outrageous claims and they are going mostly unchallenged."

My guess is that D'Souza will merely employ a slightly more sophisticated version of (k)-->O, which is no match for the nihilistic passion of ø-->(k). "Nihilistic passion" seems like an oxymoron, but it definitely isn't, something that D'Souza doesn't seem to recognize:

"I’m surprised at the vehemence and nastiness of Hitchens’ atheism. I didn’t know he harbored these deep resentments. Yes, I know that atheists present their ideas as the pure result of reason and evolution and so on, but I cannot believe that Hitchens regards the idea that we are descended from the apes with anything other than bemused irony. I suspect that Hitchens likes Darwin mainly because Darwin gives him a cudgel with which to beat Christians.

"As he admitted in a recent interview, Hitchens calls himself an 'anti-theist' rather than an 'atheist.' Most atheists say that based on the evidence, they believe God does not exist. Hitchens’ position is somewhat different: he doesn’t want God to exist. He hates the idea of God’s existence because he thinks of God as a tyrant who supervises his moral life."

So straight away, we can see why "debate" is the inappropriate forum to adjudicate this question, since we are not in the realm of reason but of passion, and as that old Brit Hume noted in a broadcast a couple of centuries ago, "reason is the slave of the passions." In the end, my guess is that both men will merely be giving voice to their passions, which is fine. It makes for good infotainment, like an intellectual rugby match.

The "nihilistic passion" alluded to above is like a pneumagraphic negative of the mystic's passion. It is what makes the writing of a Nietzsche so bracing compared to the thin gruel of the contemporary middlebrow atheist crowd -- the Dawkins, Dennetts & Harrises. Hitchens isn't like them, in that he can muster some real satanic energy, irrespective of which side of an issue he is arguing.

Anyway... That's not what I intended to write about. Back to the epistemological foundations of God in the human psyche. Schuon's first principle is that "there are truths inherent in the human spirit that are as if buried in the 'depths of the heart,' which means that they are contained as potentialities or virtualities in the pure Intellect: these are principial and archetypal truths, those which prefigure and determine all others."

You can bellow no there aren't!, but that's just (-k) riding piggyback on a particular passion. It is a Lie, but as Bion observed, the Lie is very close to the Truth, since it must know the truth in order to lie about it. Hence the passion it can generate. Many lies can be uttered with great passion, whereas a truth can be quite feeble coming out of the mouth of a person who knows it only as (k), which is a sort of carbon copy of Truth, once or twice removed. Think of the direct passion of an Adolf Hitler, or of the Islamists, or of Dailykos.

The truths of which Schuon speaks "are accessible, intuitively and infallibly, to the 'gnostic,' the 'pneumatic,' the 'theosopher' -- in the proper and original meaning of these terms -- and they are accessible consequently to the 'philosopher' according to the still literal and innocent meaning of the word."

So prior to a debate on the existence of God must come a debate on the question of the existence of an Intellect which may know Truth directly. All else stands or falls on that question. But again, can that really be debated?

No. It would be analogous to debating the existence of sight instead of simply seeing. How would you even know about vision unless you already see?

Or, as Schuon writes, "if there were no pure Intellect -- the infallible faculty of the immanent Spirit -- neither would there be reason, for the miracle of reasoning can be explained and justified only by the miracle of intellection. Animals have no reason because they are incapable of conceiving the Absolute; in other words, if man possesses reason, together with language, it is because he has access in principle to the suprarational vision of the Real and consequently to metaphysical certitude."

In other other words, "The intelligence of animals is partial, that of man is total; and this totality is explained only by a transcendent reality to which the intelligence is proportioned." As I was at pains to point out in my book -- then again, it only hurt a little -- human intelligence can never be explained "from the bottom up." To attempt to do so merely generates absurdity. Rather, it can only be understood from the top down, or from the absolute to the relative. There is no Darwinian explanation as to how an animal can escape contingency and know absolute truth absolutely. Our minds are not merely "proportioned" to the archaic environment, as Darwinism would demand, but to invisible, transcendent realities, i.e., the Good, the True, and the Beautiful, those realms that may only be seen and comprehended directly by the intellect, not by an animal's nervous system.

Likewise, Hitchens resents the idea of the Creator because he thinks it interferes with his "freedom," when it is the only possible source of real freedom. Again, to quote Schuon, free will "proves the transcendence of its essential goal, for which man has been created and by which man is man; human will is is proportioned to God, and it is only in God and by Him that it is totally free."

Seems like a paradox, but only to those trapped in (k), for just as knowledge is only possible if it is constrained by Truth, freedom is only free if it is canalized toward the Beautiful and the Good, aka, the Real.

Ah, but these are just words. The only appropriate response to a Hitchens is to concede that there is no God and that he is His prophet -- or, shall we say, blacklanded complement.

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