The Wisdom of Over-Educated Fools and Holy Hucksters
The whole stupidity -- or at least superficiality -- of the new age movement in general and of the Eckhart Tolles of the world in particular can be summed up in one word: realizationism. Schuon coined this term to describe a "pernicious error" which nevertheless "seems to be axiomatic with the false gurus of the East and West"; specifically, the claim that "only 'realization' counts and that 'theory' is nothing, as if man were not a thinking being and as if he could undertake anything whatsoever without knowing where he was going. False masters speak readily of 'developing latent energies'; now one can go to hell with all the developments and all the energies one pleases; it is in any case better to die with a good theory than with a false 'realization.' What the pseudo-spiritualists lose sight of only too easily is that... 'there is no right superior to that of the truth.'”
Precisely. A Raccoon would much prefer to live and struggle in the light of Truth than in the realized darkness of a false illumination, the latter of which is comparatively easy to achieve, if we can believe the claims that fill up new age magazines with their glossy ads. Let's pick a few at random. Here: spend a weekend with Deepak Chopra and experience PEACE OF MIND and EMOTIONAL WELLBEING. Yes, but how is that possible if Deepak CREEPS ME OUT and MAKES MY FLESH CRAWL, I mean BIG TIME?! THAT DOESN'T SOUND very PEACEFUL or RELAXING to ME!
Here's an "integral playground" where you can "experience greater liberation through an integral embrace in the arms of Diane Musho Hamilton's Big Heart!" (New agers love that word, "embrace.") Better yet, join Genpo Roshi for "a special way to discover, experience and appreciate your own unique life!" Yes, his enormous BM, or "Big Mind is straightforward and it will open your heart and mind in ways you've never felt before! Zen + Transformation + Spa = Big Mind Miami!" (Also = Even Bigger Credit Card Bill!)
Next page: "This is bigger than you could possibly imagine! Thousands will unite in creating a 'Group Energy Field' for healing the planet! 4 Days of healing energy for $70!" (I know what you're thinking. No, it's not the Democratic convention.)
Oh boy. The Cosmic Narcissism is just nauseating: "The universe has responded to your request.... a path to live everyday by the Law of Attraction and have true wealth through inspiring others! Life Balance! Personal Freedom! Abundance! Financial Independence!" Yes, the universe wants you to be rich! All you have to do is learn how to cooperate with it! Of course, it helps if you have no conscience and know how to use your sociopathy to attract dupes with empty heads and full wallets!
I don't doubt for one moment that all of these magical thinkers are big Obama supporters who would ridicule the Bennie Hinns, Joel Osteens, and Pastor Hagees of the world. As always, extremes meet. Just as intelligence and truth converge at the zero point atop the ontological pyramid, stupidity converges in the darkness below the horizon.
It goes on and on and on. I don't know about you, but I find this stuff rather fascinating in a perverse sort of way. Like the cultural left of which it is a part, it almost cannot be parodied. But as they say, counterfeit money can only only be created if the real thing exists somewhere. Thus, all of this spiritual funny money must have its analogue in real bankable truths.
Brother Deepak again: allow him to -- with a straight face, mind you -- reveal his Happiness Prescription! Yes, let this "renowned global farce," I mean "force," assist you in bending over to receive his "powerful empowerment tool" (sic), so that you too may live in effortless spontaneity! (Available at amazon.com or wherever DVDS are sold; some limitations apply, for example, possessing rudimentary intelligence or sanity.)
I didn't know this, but Deepak got his start by being the number one pupil of Maharshi Mehesh Yogi, a man who was the fifth Beatle for a few weeks in 1968. Deepak then broke with him in order to start his own financial, I mean spiritual, empire. Of the Maharishi, Frithjof Schuon (who didn't normally name names, but this was in a subsequently published letter) wrote,
"The errors of the Mahesh Yogi movement are patently obvious. In reality the goal of meditation is not to have access to 'limitless energy, heightened efficiency of thought and action, and release from tensions and anxiety [leading] to peace of mind and happiness!' None of these advantages has any spiritual value, for it is not happiness that matters: it is the motive and nature of happiness. The [Yogi] says nothing of this, the sole important question, and this is what condemns him."
Again, precisely. I would much prefer to be unhappy and live in truth than to be "happy" and anxiety-free while living in delusion (if such a thing were not actually an absurdity and impossibility).
Schuon nailed it 40 years ago, referring to "the complete lack of intelligence and barakah [i.e., grace], the propagandistic triviality, the modernist pseudo-yoga style, the quasi-religious pretension." Of the Maharishi, he writes that "I suppose [he] is not a very intelligent man but is endowed with some psychic power; he may also be ambitious. None of this is malicious a priori, but it becomes so, and in this sense the [Maharishi] himself is a victim. False masters are dangerous because they are a mixture of good and evil, and they seduce with the good."
Indeed, I may well have readers who obtained some benefit from TM, but if so, it wasn't because the Maharishi was better than you, but because you are better than him. That is why you ultimately left, for you wanted to commune with someone or someThing you could never surpass, not in wisdom, not in morality, and certainly not in grace.
One more passage by Schuon is worth citing: "It goes without saying that I prefer the most narrow-minded of Catholics -- if he is pious -- to these pseudo-Hinduists, arrogant and permanently damaged as they are. They scorn the religious point of view, which they do not understand in the least and which alone could save them. One sometimes hates what one needs the most."
"And what can one say about the infinite naivete of believing that a method of meditation suffices 1) to change man and 2) to change humanity, hence politics as well?"
Spiritual experiences come and go, but only the Truth abides. I have certainly had my share of them over the years; who knows, it is even possible that I had more of them back when I was so wrong about things, which should serve as a testimony to their dubious -- or at least ambiguous -- value. Surely they are a pointer, but not an end in themselves. Not only that, but the spiritual realm exists on a vertical axis that extends above and below, so it is a commonplace for people to confuse the latter with the former.
In reading A Conservative History of the American Left, it can be easily shown that this pneumapatholgical attitude reached a kind of tipping point in the 1960s; I was surely affected by it, even though I was mostly in grade school, because it simply became part of the cultural background. But not only was this attitude also clearly present in the 1950s, but one can trace the seeds of it back to the 19th century, and probably to the dawn of mankind. This error persists because it is not only an error, but a partial truth, as is true of most heresies.
The truth it conceals can be summed up in Bion's formulation of the container and contained. If we think of spiritual experience as the contained, and truth as the container, we can see how truth often becomes reified into dogma (in the pejorative sense of the word). When this happens, humans will attempt to "bust out" of these narrow confines, being that the spirit is infinite and can only be "contained" by infinite truth.
As always, the fault is not with divine revelation, but with what humans and human institutions do to it, i.e., contain it within the mind. When this happens, the spirit is throttled by the letter, so to speak, and longs for freedom. To say that this freedom can be obtained within tradition is a truism, but for a variety of reasons, people don't appreciate this.
In my opinion, much of the fault lies with the problem of education. Even at the dawn of World War II, most American still lived in rural areas, and college education was a comparative rarity. But in the mean time, our university system has been taken over by radicals, so that to be "educated" at one of these indoctrination mills (unless it is in business or the sciences) means to internalize a lot of shallow leftist slogans, a la the simultaneously under- and over-educated Obama (this is why the Democrat party is composed of the over- and undereducated, which, functionally speaking, amounts to the same thing, except that the undereducated cause far less harm, since their ignorance tends to be passive, while that of the elites is active). To attend a university generally means to learn how to forget how to think -- in all ways, but especially morally.
Well, I'm plum out of time. See you tomorrow. But remind me to continue with the point I was about to make, which is that modern man has developed a kind of wholly disproportional and unwarranted pride in his lower intelligence, so that in order to reach him with the spiritual truth, one must speak to his intelligence in ways that were probably unnecessary in the past, since he wasn't so skeptical, cynical, and sophisticated, and could still intuit perennial truth directly with his uncorrupted intellect. In short, it is very difficult for overeducated fools to receive truth, for "they have their heads where we place our feet" (Isaac of Acre).
And, that you may be able to appreciate more clearly how barren and indeed how pernicious such studies are, you must know that not only do they not enlighten the mind to know the truth, but they actually blind it, so it cannot recognize the very truth... --Hugh of Saint-Victor
For wisdom will not enter into a malicious soul, nor dwell in a body subject to sins... To be allied to wisdom is immortality. --Wisdom I.4, VIII.17
I would rather die of pure love than let God escape from me in dark wisdom. --Mechthild of Magdeburg