Saturday, May 10, 2008

Ego Trip, Stumble, and Fall

All the other vices flee from God, and only pride sets itself up against Him. --Boethius

If there are sins and deadly sins, then there must be something about the latter that is more than a mere act or behavior. Being that they are spiritually fatal, we can continue to "act," even if we are the last to realize we're dead.

The deeper meaning of sin is separation from the Divine plane. Naturally, if we are separated from this plane, we will mindlessly reflect this state in most all of our inward attitudes or outward acts -- just as if we truly love someone, certain behaviors will follow naturally.

The essence of sin is an inversion. The world is turned upside down and inside out, so that we forget the Absolute and the Infinite. Esoterically understood, forgetting is associated with sleeping, and sleeping with death. Thus, in order to restore the world and ourselves, we must remember, wake up, arise and be reborn. For just as there is horizontal recollection -- our conventional memory of the past -- there is “vertical recollection” of the above. And it is literally a re-membering, both because we are dismembered and alienated from vital parts of ourselves if we are exiled in the horizontal, but also because there is such a shock of recognition and familiarity when we encounter and re-collect the primordial Truths that are anterior to us.

Think about it for a moment. Some people stumble upon this blog and have no idea what I’m writing about. They either disagree with me, or accuse me of being oblique or secretive, or suggest that I am some sort of con man instead of a coonman, or accuse readers of being a bunch of bobbleheaded cultists disagreeably nodding off in agreement. It’s not so much that they don’t know what I’m talking about. Rather, they cannot remember what I’m talking about. It would be just as if I were to say to them, “remember when you were born, the doctor pulling you out, slapping your butt, and then slapping yo' mama 'cause yo' ass be so ugly?” “No, I don’t remember anything like that. You’re lying.”

Other people -- a few hundred of them anyway -- know exactly what I’m talking about. And if not exactly, then they have a sort of dim recollection. And as they continue reading and strengthening their vertical memory, more and more of my writing begins to make perfect nonsense. I think if you were to go back and read the comments of any number of readers from over the months, you would see a rather detailed diary of their vertical recollection gradually coming back “on line” and becoming more sharp and detailed. Yes, on the one hand, it is an acquisition of knowledge. But that’s only the content. The actual process is one of recollection and seeing, not with the mind but with the intelligence itself: cOOnvision. You can see the transition as certain commenters become O->(k) teachers in their own write.

This, by the way, is how the gospel story spread so rapidly through the Roman Empire. First of all, the story was not particularly appealing to those sophisticated “sinners” who had no contact with the vertical, with the exception of paying occasional tribute to some godlike human projections of their own making. Nor does the story have any attraction to intellectual elites, either then or now, whose minds are filled to the brim with the latest horizontal fascions. They remember only the dead past, not the living future.

But the story somehow made immediate sense to two categories of people: those who were “poor in spirit,” with uncluttered minds and innocent hearts. But also to the super-sophisticated, those geniuses like a Gregory of Nyssa, or Augustine, or Denys the Areopagite, who had taken horizontal thought as far as it could go, and then beyond the horizon of knowability to the deeper realm of the unKnowable (unKnowing being a higher and deeper form of knowing).

For me, of course, these are the most interesting cases. For unlike the purely secular intellectual, they do not place an arbitrary limit on thought and declare their own little ideas Supreme, like a child. Rather, they continue pushing through until achieving “vertical liftoff,” as in the case of an Eliot, Chesterton, Lewis, and so many others. Thought can lead to what is beyond it, but only for those who are both daring and humble (not to mention intelligent enough to pull it off; frankly, most of our secular priesthood are hopelessly middlebrow intellectual worker bees who know what they know, and that’s all they know). Far from being brave and independent thinkers, they cravenly "worship what is widely worshipped," in the words of Berlinski. Suffice it to say, they can tell us "nothing of interest about the human soul." And yet, their pride convinces them that they are somehow equipped "to face realities the rest of us cannot bear to contemplate." I'll believe that when Hitchens can bear to face reality sober.

And if that isn't obvious, just read the comments of any of our trolls, who are a never ending source of shallow darkness, which can masquerade as a sort of false mysticism, when it's really just mysterbation. Real mysticism is a beam of intense darkness that is most receptive to the divine light, but that's the subject for another post.

In fact, this postmodern relativizing of the intellect automatically leads to a spirit of pride, and with it, rebellion. And pride, don’t you know, is said to be the most egregious of the sins. We can see why this must be so, because forgetting the Absolute combines, in Schuon’s formulation, a “centrifugal passion” with an “egoistic hardening.” In other words, our consciousness is dispersed from the center to the periphery, but tumorangs back to us in the form of a cancerous attitude of the heart -- it is a “being” prior to this or that “doing” or “not doing.” And this is why it is so deadly: we then become not just a “sinner,” but we rekaputulate the entire foundation and basis of sin. This is a state of what I call complete I-AMnesia of the vertical, or the Absolute.

It is not so much that pride “inflates the ego.” Rather, the more insidious effect is that it not only limits and undermines the intelligence, but ultimately destroys it, while at the same time propping up a surface mechanism analogous to the Wizard of Oz: pay no attention to that little ego twirling the knobs and dials under a curtain of maya.

Pride is also the very thing that prevents a person from losing that which could save him. It takes many forms and harbors many rationalizations, for example, cynicism or extreme skepticism. The cynic, according to Schuon, believes that “sincerity consists in exhibiting shortcomings and passions and that to hide them is to be a hypocrite; they do not master themselves and still less do they seek to transcend themselves; and the fact that they take their faults for a virtue is the clear proof of their pride.”

On the other hand, the hypocrite confuses true virtue -- which is a state of being -- with mere outwardly virtuous attitudes or displays; he believes that “the appearances of faith suffice for faith itself.” The problem is not that they manifest virtue, but “in believing that the manifestation is virtue itself and, above all, in aping virtue in the hope of being admired: this is pride, because it is individualism and ostentation. Pride is to overestimate oneself and to underestimate others; and this is what the cynic does just as much as the hypocrite, in a blatant or a subtle way as the case may be.” Again, no one is more proud of his intellect -- but with less reason to be -- than the strict Darwinist.

In both cases, the outward and horizontal ego displaces the vertical spirit and the inner light, thereby misappropriating “what belongs to the spiritual soul.” Nature abhors a vacuum, while Spirit requires one. If God does not fill our existential void, then pride (among other things) necessarily rushes in to take its place. After all, it is what came before the fall -- it is what the ego tripped & felon. It was ineveateapple.

Where then the proper place for self-confidence as opposed to its faux substitutes, pride and the dreaded self-esteem? Self-confidence is faith that we can succeed and achieve a deiform excellence that transcends us, while self-esteem is the self-satisfied attitude that we already have. Confidence results from perfecting one’s God-given talents, while pride results from inflating and overestimating their value, and then claiming them for our own.

Ultimately, when we forget that we have fallen, there is no way to reverse course and rise back up. The loss of transcendence brings with it many howling consequences, too many dogs to catalogue here. Suffice it say that if your culture or sub-culture is foolish enough to deny the antecedent reality of Truth, Love and Beauty, it will generate an abundance of obligatory falsehood, artistic ugliness, moral relativism, and the many varieties of counterfeit love. Then again, tenure has its rewards. As does secular sainthoodlum.

Other vices attach themselves to evil, that evil may be accomplished; pride alone attaches itself to good, that good may perish. --Saint Augustine

Don't be such a big shot. When God's on the line, take the call:

23 Comments:

Blogger QP said...

. . . quietly qp slides into a seat in the back row . . . . . finally says [in a meek voice]: "Anyone else besides me burning with shame or struck dumb with terror?"

5/10/2008 10:22:00 AM  
Anonymous coonified said...

"The essence of sin is an inversion."

"modern psychoanalysis such a fruitful discipline -- at least in its best sense"

I don't think that most trained psychologist (from my experience) understand what splits imply. To me, or from my experience since I have a pretty severe one (a collapsed, slit off, dis-integrated muscle in my throat), it means not just scission from the rest of the body, but negative growth (-n), a downward transcendence towards O.

When there's nowhere to grow, or go, either from internal or external causes, there's really no choice but to withdraw and burrow to a previously transcended space. The body really has the ability to turn parts of itself (or can the whole be turned upside down and the part right side up too?) inside out and upside down in order to satisfy the longing for growth; and the growth is real, knowing that some people with the more severe afflictions can open up to more subtle spiritual planes. The growth is just out of place, though. It is dis-integrated and inverted in relation to the rest of the body.

Another thing (I think) that alot of people don't see is that where ever there occurs these certain types of splits where there's a real downward transcendence, there at the same time occurs an "equal and opposite reaction" (newton) in an upward direction, a hypertrophy towards deformity. That is, a part goes downward towards...hell, and the whole goes upward towards higher degrees of theos. This is kind how I view the 60's narcissist movements: alot of people grew downwards into nobodies and nothings, while on on the other hand, some within the movement grew upwards bringing an influx of eastern spirituality in consequence. They're both in a bad circumstance, since they depend on each other, sharing in the split as they do.

The common factor between the two, so that we know what's hypertrophy and regression, is the new age, I believe--the lower tints and misguides the higher, while the higher hates being stuck in the same room with the lower. It's just a mess.

5/10/2008 10:25:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

[quietly leans over and whispers back to QP] - only when I take a good hard look at mysoph...

5/10/2008 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

Bob, When you are therapizing people, do you try to get people to understand how pride messes them and their marriages up? (or, rather, down)?

5/10/2008 12:40:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I don't really do therapy anymore, only forensic work. Besides, I prefer putting the cosmos on the couch.

5/10/2008 12:50:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

qp & julie,

gulp

me too



perhaps it's a girlcoon thing?

she whispers hopefully



naah


gonna have to wear this one


dammit

5/10/2008 02:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the idea of sin and rebellion is also seen at the cellular level. A malignant cell, unlike a normal healthy cell, proliferates in a manner that has no regard for cells and tissues around it. Left unchecked, this results in a tumor that overgrows and destroys the local tissues and given access to vascular spaces, spreads to distant sites. The point is that this rebellion is a somatic/corporeal manifestation of this deadly sin we are calling pride and rebellion. Interestingly, the development of a tumor often begins with a change or mutation at the DNA level. It starts as something small and seemingly innocuous but the end result is potentially fatal. So, we should be mindful of thoughts and deeds that represent this potential rebellion, lest it lead us to destruction. Hence, as Bob as stressed in his posts: Watch and pray. PCA

5/10/2008 06:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seeing Wayne Shorter's Adam's Apple in the sidebar reminded me of an Album he released in about 1960, "Wayning Moments." Perhaps it's because I grew up with it, but has what may arguably be the best rendition of "All or Nothing at All" ever recorded. Other stand-outs are "Moon of Manakoora" and the theme from the movie "Black Orpheus."

While ths CD of that album is, apparently, out of production, all the material from it is incorporated into this one:

Wayne Shorter

Late Convert (the loyal lurker)

5/10/2008 06:39:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Remembering the mystery again.

5/10/2008 10:59:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"It would be just as if I were to say to them, “remember when you were born, the doctor pulling you out, slapping your butt, and then slapping yo' mama 'cause yo' ass be so ugly?”

Man, Bob (ManBob?)...it's like you were there!

5/11/2008 04:02:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"The deeper meaning of sin is separation from the Divine plane."

Errborn Danger

5/11/2008 04:03:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"They either disagree with me, or accuse me of being oblique or secretive, or suggest that I am some sort of con man instead of a coonman, or accuse readers of being a bunch of bobbleheaded cultists disagreeably nodding off in agreement."

And in doin' so, they show just how O'bleak they really are.

5/11/2008 04:06:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"In other words, our consciousness is dispersed from the center to the periphery, but tumorangs back to us in the form of a cancerous attitude of the heart -- it is a “being” prior to this or that “doing” or “not doing.” And this is why it is so deadly: we then become not just a “sinner,” but we rekaputulate the entire foundation and basis of sin. This is a state of what I call complete I-AMnesia of the vertical, or the Absolute."

Spoken like a true coonman.
Pride is the sintrifrugal source.

5/11/2008 04:19:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Again, no one is more proud of his intellect -- but with less reason to be -- than the strict Darwinist."

Which is apparent by their lack of conviction, among other things.

Raccoons are no strangers to conviction. In fact, the more I gno, the more aware I become of the glaring sin in me, and the consequences thereof, and the deep sorrow it produces.

A seared concience doesn't give a fig, even if it recognizes what sin is, let alone the deadly sins.

5/11/2008 04:45:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Nature abhors a vacuum..."

Especially a Whover.

5/11/2008 04:47:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Where then the proper place for self-confidence as opposed to its faux substitutes, pride and the dreaded self-esteem? Self-confidence is faith that we can succeed and achieve a deiform excellence that transcends us, while self-esteem is the self-satisfied attitude that we already have. Confidence results from perfecting one’s God-given talents, while pride results from inflating and overestimating their value, and then claiming them for our own."

That is the best description of self-confidence I ever seen, and a beautiful scene it is. :^)

Great post, Bob!

5/11/2008 04:55:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Hey Ben!

5/11/2008 07:12:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Psst.. Ximeze, you said,
“perhaps it's a girlcoon thing?”

[From the lump beneath the carpet]

Back here…behind Julie and QP…trying to not move. Roger out.

5/11/2008 07:17:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Morning Bob,

RE “therapy”, I’m not going to look it up in the dictionary, but I think I know “helpful” and “generous” when I see it. And this post is another very good example. Thanks again, Bob.

Fido,
File this one for safe keeping under “Love thy neighbor, as you love thyself.” And before you ask, have Scotty order another file cabinet. This folder is busting too.

5/11/2008 07:31:00 AM  
Blogger Fido said...

Yes, Captain.

5/11/2008 07:34:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Please stop calling me Captain. There’s only two of us.


And dear ladies,

Happy Mother’s Day!

5/11/2008 07:36:00 AM  
Blogger Fido said...

Well then…stop calling me Scotty.

5/11/2008 07:43:00 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth Marie Crum said...

Is anyone making a list of all these (Bob's and Everyone's) clever New words - ? because Someone really should be.

I'm sure you can all think of a clever name for this new dictionary.

Also, that Kid is way too cute.

5/14/2008 02:39:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home