Saturday, February 09, 2008

Sit Down and Shut Up!, or Cultivating (o) and (–) [2.03.10]

Be quiet and know that I am God. --Psalms 46:10 (New Life Version)

SHUT UP! SIT DOWN! (Ben Stern Version)

Our God says, "Calm down, and learn that I am God!" (Contemporary English Version)

Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream. (John, Album 7, Track 14)

Be still, and know that I am God. (New International Version)

Own a still, and it's much easier to do that. (Cousin Dupree's Version)

Cease striving and know that I am God. (New American Standard)

Have Slack and know that I AM. (Dobbs Version)

Rishi does it. Take your shoes off & set a spell. Relux & call it a deity. Disbeaware we disappear (who hesychasts is lost). (Petey's OM Version)

Next up in the arkive is this one, originally called Weekend Sermon: Advanced Leisure Studies. At the time I started the blog, I was writing mostly about politics, as do other Uncle Fromms such as Dr. Sanity and Shrinkwrapped. I guess I was reluctant to let 'er rip, spiritually speaking, because I didn't know if there would be any audience for the Way of the Coon, and whether the introduction of overt spirituality would alienate my already tiny audience. Which it eventually did. The political red meat was always more popular.

So I floated the idea of writing about spiritual matters once a week, just to mix things up a bit. There were only a few comments, most of which were mine, so that wasn't very encouraging. However, one commenter -- oddly, I don't recall him ever commenting again -- lavished the highest possible praise, writing,

Sir, I believe you are a Christian Subgenius.

Well. This humble Bob does not expect to be compared to the One True Bob or to his Church, which offers the following formulation:

THE SOURCE: JEHOVAH-1
THE TEACHER: J.R. "BOB" DOBBS
THE GOAL: SLACK
THE OBSTACLE: THE CONSPIRACY AND ITS DUPES, THE NORMALS
THE WAY: THE CASTING OUT OF FALSE PROPHETS
THE WEAPON: TIME CONTROL

In truth, Raccoons do not deviate far from this template, as our spiritual program of evolving toward the Infinite Slack of the transcendent I AM cannot be separated from our worldly struggle against flatland leftist conspiracy dupes who are all about diminishing and stealing our spiritual, intellectual, political, and financial Slack. Not to mention the false prophets of the New Age, such as Deepak Chopra and his oily ilk.

Anyway, this was my first overtly "spiritual" post, in which I attempted to perform a Bobectomy on my ego in real time while engaging in spontaneous (for it can only be spontaneous) O-->(n). But I don't think I fell headwrong and heartlong into that method on a day-to-day basis until around six months later, in the spring of 2006. We'll have to wait and see, as we presumably move through the arkive.

*****

The Advanced Leisure Studies below the title of this blog (not there anymore) is not a gag. In fact, there is nothing more serious and important than leisure. The Catholic philosopher Josef Pieper wrote a classic little book on the topic, noting that the very possibility of culture rested on a foundation of leisure -- a sphere of activity that was entirely detached from our immediate wants and needs, free from practical or political considerations -- free from the tyranny of the horizontal.

For leisure is the gateway to the timeless, to the Vertical Church of Perpetual Slack -- that is, if you are able to slow down your thoughts long enough to locate one of the little springs dotting the landscape of your mind, pleasantly bubbling down from above. If your religion is working for you, it is because it has helped you tap into one of these springs.

In his book, Pieper points out that the word for leisure in Greek is skole, and in Latin, scola, both meaning "school." Therefore, leisure, properly understood, is a school, an unhurried realm where some sort of learning takes place; a mystery school, as it were.

Leisure gives access to the unmoved mover within, the still point of the turning mind, the sabbit hole we may enter, not by grasping and struggling, but by opening and receiving. It doesn't mean not doing anything. Rather, it means doing nothing, even in the midst of doing something -- returning to the pregnant Nothing from whence you came, even now. It is to quiet the mind, withdraw from the world, and open oneSelf to energies that do not emanate from time, but from the timeless.

The external world forces us to dance to its jagged rhythms, but here, at the center, is the leisurely rhythm of eternity, against which thoughts are like passing birds. In fact, this is all you need know in order to unKnow what we're talking about:

Body Like Mountain
Mind Like Sky
Thoughts Like Clouds

As memory reflects the past, silence is like a mirror that reflects and makes present the above, whether it is called heaven, brahman, tao, nirvana, moksha, the One. With all due respect, merely believing in God is a weak substitute. Better to know God, because that is how he ex-ists, that is "stands out" from his otherwise hidden ground. Only humans can manifest the unmanifest God.

The book of Genesis tells the story of our fall. It may be interpreted in many ways, but one way is to see it as a fall away from the timeless, vertical dimension of spontaneous communion with the Creator and the enjoyment of Boundless Slack, into the horizontal world of sweat, toil, pain and frenzied activity. Interestingly, even the Creator, after six days of activity, stood back, relaxed, and just enjoyed the show. From what they say, it was good. Like him, we must occasionally relux and call it a deity.

Science searches for the horizontal beginning of the cosmos. That beginning is located at the outskirts of the material world, where we may trace the faint exhalations of the Big Bong. Spirituality searches in the opposite direction for the vertical center and source of the cosmos, which is located deep within each person, slightly to the north. It may be thought of as the "I" that is to "AM" as Life is to Matter. It is what makes Being come alive. It is what makes you a Lumin Being instead of the slithery kind that keeps messing up the Garden, Homo serpentine.

33 Comments:

Blogger walt said...

Indeed: don't alienate the audience!

You wrote,
"Leisure gives access to the unmoved mover within, the still point of the turning mind ... It doesn't mean not doing anything. Rather, it means doing nothing, even in the midst of doing something...."

This reminded me of Matsuo Basho, describing himself:
"There was a time when I envied those who had government offices or impressive domains, and on another occasion I considered entering the precincts of the Buddha and the teaching rooms of the patriarchs. Instead, I've worn out my body in journeys that are as aimless as the winds and clouds, and expended my feelings on flowers and birds. But somehow I've been able to make a living this way, and so in the end, unskilled and talentless as I am, I give myself wholly to this one concern, poetry."

2/09/2008 09:35:00 AM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

A syncoonistic piece from my old friend David Roper in today's local paper...

2/09/2008 10:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so close yet so far away

2/09/2008 01:26:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Oh well, two out of three...

2/09/2008 05:09:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Take the test: Artist or Ape. I'm relieved to say I scored 100%.

2/09/2008 05:20:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

I passed the test as well, though I felt no smarter having done so.

This, on the other hand:
"...leisure, properly understood, is a school, an unhurried realm where some sort of learning takes place; a mystery school, as it were."

Such was today, more than most -- with your post framing it in words! That's my idea of luxury! Thanks!

2/09/2008 06:41:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Whew - I scored 100% as well. It's good to know that art degree is useful for something...

2/09/2008 07:41:00 PM  
Blogger Dougman said...

"Your score is 100%"

That's the first time I've ever aced a test.

2/09/2008 08:36:00 PM  
Anonymous jumbalaya said...

100%

interesting that the artist's paintings all contained circles or "O"...coincidence??

2/09/2008 09:23:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Speaking of David Roper (Robin), I've been moseying through a wonderful collection of his writings - "Seeing God". It's one of those "little" books that I will probably continue rereading until it falls apart (or I do).

2/09/2008 10:51:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"In fact, there is nothing more serious and important than leisure. The Catholic philosopher Josef Pieper wrote a classic little book on the topic, noting that the very possibility of culture rested on a foundation of leisure -- a sphere of activity that was entirely detached from our immediate wants and needs, free from practical or political considerations -- free from the tyranny of the horizontal."

Leisure...is a sphere of activity that is entirely detached from our wants n' needs...free from the tyranny...

O man! That is so rad, Bob!
This was one of your best Bobservations, IMO!

2/10/2008 03:05:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"For leisure is the gateway to the timeless, to the Vertical Church of Perpetual Slack -- that is, if you are able to slow down your thoughts long enough to locate one of the little springs dotting the landscape of your mind, pleasantly bubbling down from above. If your religion is working for you, it is because it has helped you tap into one of these springs."

Which is why it's always spring for Raccoons!
O sure, we got the dark night O the soul n' stuff, but those springs spring Eternal!

2/10/2008 03:08:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Anyway, this was my first overtly "spiritual" post, in which I attempted to perform a Bobectomy on my ego in real time while engaging in spontaneous (for it can only be spontaneous) O-->(n)."

"In his book, Pieper points out that the word for leisure in Greek is skole, and in Latin, scola, both meaning "school." Therefore, leisure, properly understood, is a school, an unhurried realm where some sort of learning takes place; a mystery school, as it were."

Bob, you made school cool again!
A magical mystery tour that keeps us comin' back for more, 'cause it never gets old.
It's always so gnew n' fresh. Word!

2/10/2008 03:15:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Leisure gives access to the unmoved mover within, the still point of the turning mind, the sabbit hole we may enter, not by grasping and struggling, but by opening and receiving."

Slack-O-ramna Dude!

2/10/2008 03:34:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Body Like Mountain
Mind Like Sky
Thoughts Like Clouds"

I believe that was your first
high-ku, Bob
at least in your blog

2/10/2008 03:37:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"As memory reflects the past, silence is like a mirror that reflects and makes present the above, whether it is called heaven, brahman, tao, nirvana, moksha, the One. With all due respect, merely believing in God is a weak substitute. Better to know God, because that is how he ex-ists, that is "stands out" from his otherwise hidden ground. Only humans can manifest the unmanifest God."

Reminds me of a verse of song I heard:
We got a Lord that is alive,
why would we want to just survive?
No taboo!

2/10/2008 03:43:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"It may be thought of as the "I" that is to "AM" as Life is to Matter. It is what makes Being come alive. It is what makes you a Lumin Being instead of the slithery kind that keeps messing up the Garden, Homo serpentine."

Yeah, crawlin' sucks.

2/10/2008 03:47:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Have slack, will prevail.
(USS Ben's version).

Listen to the grogarian chant.
(Skully's version)

2/10/2008 03:53:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

Slackin' in the X-treme AM! Mornin' Ben!

2/10/2008 04:03:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Good mornin' Walt!
And a fine mornin' to "sit down n' shut up!"

Or, since that didn't work, to "cultivate (O) and (-)."

Sheer pO-itry.

2/10/2008 05:13:00 AM  
Blogger NoMo said...

You're a hymn Ben...you're
inspi-REAL-ational.

2/10/2008 07:31:00 AM  
Blogger Smoov said...

100%

I knew that studying at the Cooniversity would be useful someday.

Should I put this on my resume?

2/10/2008 08:26:00 AM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

Back when I and various other young people underwent spiritual potty training in the small church of Christian mystics, a phrase I often heard was "Wisdom is won by convenient free time". It was supposedly a quote from some apocryphal Jewish book of wisdom, but I have been unable to find it again (and it probably reads subtly different in English anyway). But still it is one of those self-evident truths that cannot possibly be wrong, much like the sun cannot possibly be black.

It could be time off from work and chores, but it could also be time during work and chores and whatever else we do, as long as the mind is not being blown about by what we are doing.

2/10/2008 01:34:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

I passed the test, but only because I could tell what it expected as an answer.

Personaly, it can say that the Yellow, Black and Grey was painted by an artist named Jackson Pollack all it wants, but it seems fairly obvious to me that it was painted by an ape named Jackson Pollack.

2/10/2008 02:00:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Well, between Walt and Ben, all the good stuff's already been taken and reposted... then again one of the good things about being a Raccoon is that the good stuff is taken and expanded upon, and so the commenting 'coon is enriched even further even when he's late to the table.

Good stuff... always liked that imagery of the springs. The Haiku pretty much nails it too.

Of course the trick is to not let those clouds confuse you into thinking that they are the sky, even if they can can get pretty thick and grey and flash with lightening and thunder.

The sky is always above, and whether blue or star'd, more unmovable than the mountain.

2/10/2008 02:13:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

You got me to pull Pieper's book down off the shelf, of course I appreciated the way he saw to the core of Kant's follies, but I'd forgotten how much I'd commented, highlighted and underlined that little book - it practically glows from it all. To grab a couple at random while flipping the pages, noting that Kant insists all knowledge and philosophy is the product of work and work alone, and never of leisure and

"...the claim made by man: if knowing is work, exclusively work, then the one who knows, knows only the fruit of his own, subjective activity, and nothing else. There is nothing in his knowing that is not the fruit of his own efforts; there is nothing "received" in it."

Such a view ultimately collapses, discards and denies hierarchy, elevating the 'here and now' over what here and now are within. Virtue becomes value becomes any of numerous equivalent options.

"...And what was this? That virtue makes it possible for us... to master our natural inclinations? No. That is what Kant would have said, and we all might be ready to agree. What Thomas says, instead, is that virtue perfects us so that we can follow our natural inclination in the right way. Yes, the highest realizations of moral goodness are known to be such precisely in this: that they take place effortlessly because it is of their essence to arise from love..."

And "The reason why the animal lives in a partial world is because the nature of things is hidden from it. And it is only becase the spirit is able to attain to the essence of things that it has the ability to understand the totality of things... Thomas says, 'Because the intellectual [or spiritual] soul is able to grasp universals, it has a capacity for the infinite'"

Just the tippermost tip of the iceberg. The book is itself like an iceberg, the pages are but the small portion above the water, dwarfed by the depths it extends within you. Do I ever owe you one for that book.

2/10/2008 03:05:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

Bob, I was trying to track down the source of the afore-mentioned high-ku -
"Body Like Mountain
Mind Like Sky
Thoughts Like Clouds"

Is it Dogen?
Care to confirm or deny? (no hurry!)

2/10/2008 04:16:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Dogen? No, I got it from Yang Chow. We ate there Friday night, and it was in my fortune cookie.

2/10/2008 05:25:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

D'oh! I should have known!

2/10/2008 06:13:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Ah so...

;-)

2/11/2008 05:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually that artist vs ape test was incredibly easy. Every piece by an artist had some patterns to it, repeating shapes or straight lines, or the same repeated lines. It was easy to consciously pick out that an ape won't paint the same shape repeatedly, or even think to draw prominent lines that intersect at 90 degrees or even make a rounded circle. Even then, we find beauty in simplicity, and the use of simplistic layers and shapes should make it obvious even if you can't consciously pick it out. Oh, and of course, another 100, anybody not get a 100?

2/11/2008 07:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And hopefully after reading that, nobody else will get less than a 100, cuz now you know.

2/11/2008 08:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

here's one that makes it harder... if not more fun...

http://reverent.org/true_art_or_fake_art.html

2/11/2008 08:10:00 AM  

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