Monday, June 02, 2008

The Wisdom of Over-Educated Fools and Holy Hucksters

Intellect is the satellite of the Deity. --Archytas

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?"

Amen.

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

83 Comments:

Blogger lance said...

"Spiritual experiences come and go, but only the Truth abides."

Bob, I like that sentence I really do and it jibes with my both growing up and working within a protestant church. My question is can the "Truth" be different for Catholics or Protestants or Calvinists or Quakers, or say the Russian Orthodox old believers who I believe split over a painting of Christ, is the "Truth" always the same and all the doctrinal differences the failing of the man made church?

6/02/2008 09:01:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Truth is like the white light refracted into various colors through our prismhouse in the herebelow. Thus, there is a supraformal truth which reveals itself in different inflections and modalities, taking into account the needs of diverse individuals and groups. I could say more, but I have to get to work. Bear in mind also that all revelation necessarily shades off into a "human margin," which in turn shades off into error, and sometimes it can be difficult to know where to draw the line, hence the need for orthodoxy and dogma.

6/02/2008 09:09:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi y'all!
Fellow Raccoons, visitors, Good mornin' to ya.

I gotta make a journey today. Soon.
I'll explain more at my blog, 'cause Bob's splendid OOque is too tasty to hijack here.

I'm glad I got to see Bob hit another Om run before I leave. :^)

Thanks Bob! You have been very helpful to me this mornin' providing much needed nourishment.

6/02/2008 09:29:00 AM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

Thanks Bob for again conveying your view of the error in so many new ager type "spiritual gurus" (and polititians). To them it's all about the feel good and no amount of denial is too much to gain the "bliss".
Many people who comit follow Truth wherever it leads, regardless of the discomfort, know this error as only an intuition or a creeped out feeling so it's nice to get a psycho/spiritual head explanation of what our intuitions have been telling us.

6/02/2008 10:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I am the so called "Tolle Troll." Sorry I missed yesterday's free-for-all, but I read the results today and it was fun to read, if not quite a riot.

Yeah. I like Tolle's books (I've read them all). I'm convinced there's something to his teaching.

Bob is good, too. His stuff leads to interesting lines of thought but doesn't teach anything directly. The character of Petey is a weak spot (or a strong one?), because Petey strains credulity; if we all channelled supernatural beings then I think there wouldn't be this element. Any other readers feel a little bit skeevy over the Petey issue?

Tolle doesn't channel any beings. He seems far more conventional and less new-agey than Bob in this respect.

Well, that's all I have. I'm still open to suggestions on how to troll this blog for maximum effect.

6/02/2008 10:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Petey said...

You're off to a very good start by questioning the existence of the Grand High Exalted Mystic Ruler of the West San Fernando Valley Chapter of the Transdimensional Order of the Friendly Sons & Daughters of the Cosmic Raccoon.

6/02/2008 11:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tolle Troll,

The hot buttons here are anything smacking of anti-Americanism. For example, if you think that there is more, say, to the assassination of JFK than the lone-nut theory, that would be a hot-button. Also, try and argue that blacks are better off somewhere else in the world than America. Anything like that will work.

6/02/2008 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

Bob,
Thanks for another inspiring, relevant post. You inspired me to write on my blog about how these concepts apply to my family.

6/02/2008 11:12:00 AM  
Anonymous The Drive-By Naudo Fan said...

Off topic, but I'd like to share a wonderful diversion. I introduce Naudo, the poet of guitar pop. Enjoy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNlqTOC-i9o&feature=related

6/02/2008 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

The theme of today's post goes along with something that has been simmering below the surface for the past few weeks in my own life. Someone, C.S. Lewis, George MacDonald, or both, said something to the effect that Hell is a state of mind while Heaven is Reality. We live this life either getting closer to Reality or we sink further into the illusory hell of self: self-absorption, self-interest, self-aggrandizement, self-importance

I have a close family member who is dying, basically of old age, and with whom I have spent much time over the three or four weeks. Perhaps this has served to remind me about the transience of life and its ultimate purpose. We pass through this world, bearing our burdens. One offers to remove those things that trouble us, that rob us of joy. He says it cannot be by reformation or by refinement but only by way of death. If we agree to release it to Him, He kills it but then, to our amazement, it rises. The illusion is destroyed but it gives birth to a new and far greater Real.

Through grace the iron chains that bind us become a golden key giving us access to the joy of the Lord. The transformation will never happen, though, as long as we believe that the chains are some kind of adorning jewelry and are unwilling to have them shattered.

6/02/2008 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Lance, I think the answer lies, in part, in this passage:

"4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his[a]faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully."

I think it's been pretty well established here that fractals come into play frequently in Scripture (this one goes a bit beyond "as above, so below," imo). In this case, I think the description applies equally well to individuals within a church and to the role of different branches of Christianity. Each person, each church, each sect, indeed even different faiths, so long as they are aligned with Truth, serve an important purpose. They need not all have the same function; in fact, it's probably vital for the Whole that they don't.

To sheer off into a different analogy, they may have different views of the mountain, and also different ways of describing what they see (and different recommendations for approaching and climbing it). What's important is that they actually do see it (and not the cracks, or a mirage, or a gaping pit), and that their recommendations for scaling it are sound.

6/02/2008 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Just checked out Tolle's website, which has a question and answer section. I'm wondering, how many people find his following advice regarding diet and sex helpful?

Question:
I along with many others I know are wondering what kind of food diet you recommend in assisting our realization of present moment? Strictly vegetarian or are animal products ok?

Answer:
I recommend listening to the body. When you look at a food item (or imagine ingesting it) become still and alert. You will then feel the body either opening up (saying “yes”) or you may notice a slight contraction, which means the body is saying “no”. The body knows more about food than your mind ever will.

Thanks for the tip! That is especially helpful to a diabetic. Now, on to sex:

Question:
If you only live in the now, what would stop someone who is in a relationship or marriage from resisting the temptation to have sex with anyone who is attractive but who is not his/her partner? After all, if you are in the now and see someone attractive, you want to have sex with them now?

Answer:
Does living in the Now mean giving in to every impulse that arises? Then all those people who chase one sexual partner after another must be enlightened.

As long as you want something from another (such as sex), are you present? Or are you seeking to reach some point in the future that promises fulfillment? (And thereby making the present moment as well as the other person into a means to an end.) All wanting implies that the future is more desirable than the present, does it not?

It is inevitable that physical attraction towards another person will sometimes occur. That’s no more than part of nature. When you identify with that impulse, it becomes “you” and turns into wanting. The other person then becomes a means to an end – the end being sex, the attainment of the object of your desire. When you are present, you can observe the attraction or the sexual feeling within yourself, recognize it as natural, accept it, even enjoy it without needing to act it out. After all, it may be totally inappropriate to do so within the totality of the situation. When you recognize yourself as the space of consciousness in which the impulse arises, you don’t become the impulse; you don’t lose yourself in it. Being present is being the space, rather than what happens.

*****

Can't wait to share this gobbledy gook with Future Leader when he hits puberty!

Seriously, what a joke.

6/02/2008 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Naudo fan, not bad; it reminds me of (a slower-paced version of) the version they used in The Big L.

6/02/2008 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Bob - wow, if I took that guy's advice about food I'd weigh 300 lbs in short order.

6/02/2008 11:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Eckhart said...

You are supposed to be 300 pounds. Inside you there is an obese person trying to get out. Listen to her voice.

6/02/2008 11:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

Eckhart, I know someone who is "present" with an impulse to have sexual relations in the here and now with anything that moves. Is that acceptable, so long as he does not leave the present moment?

6/02/2008 11:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Eckhart said...

Yes, just "witness" yourself during the act, that way you can be present to your presence, and keep one eye out for her other man.

6/02/2008 11:41:00 AM  
Anonymous christopher said...

Gagdad Bob, You are a knight of the realm. What a joy to find another.

I am less harsh on the misguided.

There is a paradox in it. All time/no time as is paramount in the truth, and then there is the trouble of the emergencies of life as it pertains to you and your son, or to me, or to us all. So error rights itself in the aeons but challenges the world today.

So when I look at the Tolle(s) I know that I am ultimately responsible to separate the wheat from the chaff for my own self, that personal responsibility is critical in this realm of spirit.

On the other hand, they are almost without question (at least a few of them) sincere. Perhaps not Deepak. My jury is still out. As you say, perhaps terribly misguided. No more so than those who follow them. All mainly sincere. Deserving of compassion. The Buddhists call this ignorance, no?

But then I "know" compassion trumps truth, just as you know "truth" trumps realization. It is possible, even probable that a person can achieve (with God's help) liberation in the fullest sense without first seeing with the eyes of God. Who then can actually know the Truth without God loaning His eyes? And how can one survive such a truth without God's compassion?

6/02/2008 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

That's the dangerous part about these guys. GB quotes Tolle: When you identify with that impulse, it becomes “you” and turns into wanting.

That much is actually close to true. When the person becomes the tool of the "wants", he or she stand in the doorway of damnation. Unfortunately, Tolle's solution -- to enhance the power of the old Adamic nature, i.e., to build a better sinner -- results in new age pharisees.

6/02/2008 11:46:00 AM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

Christopher,

Truth is the ultimate trump card. Compassion can be used, and most often is, in deleterious ways. It must be guided by Truth in order to be effective. Real compassion IS Truth.

6/02/2008 11:57:00 AM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

And did you really call yourself a 'Knight of the Realm", or were you referring to someone else?

6/02/2008 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Lance: I think also, there are degrees and breadths of correctness, including levels of 'doing the right thing' 'knowing the right thing' and 'being the right thing'. In order to have fullness you must have everything: Both correct knowledge and correct 'realization' are required, just as righteousness is correct intention followed by correct action. So people get parts of the truth and hang onto it, and that part might be very deep or very broad, but maybe its only a 'knowing' or a 'doing' or a 'being', or perhaps it pertains to a very narrow area, etc.

Of course, the Truth being a person and all, it is no wonder the experience of it can be subjective. (Since it (he, actually) is the ultimate Subject.)

6/02/2008 12:11:00 PM  
Anonymous jpelham said...

Lance, One can distinguish between the various faiths you list precisely by their answers to Pilate's question - "What is Truth?" The answers are not equivalent.
Bob, On your current topic, let me recommend the insight of a scrupulous Lutheran: "In unconsciousness of being in despair a man is farthest from being conscious of himself as spirit. But precisely the thing of not being conscious of oneself as spirit is despair, which is spiritlessness -- whether the condition be that of complete deadness, a merely vegetative life, or a life of higher potency the secret of which is nevertheless despair. In the latter instance the man is like the sufferer from consumption: he feels well, considers himself in the best of health, seems perhaps to others to be in florid health, precisely when the sickness is most dangerous."
--------------------------------------------------------
~Source: The Sickness Unto Death, Kierkegaard

One can smile broadly, though not deeply, while in despair, as Chopra et al.

6/02/2008 12:11:00 PM  
Anonymous christopher said...

Hoarhey, not a knight of the realm as you use it here, but there are other realms, oh yes. I am certainly too new here to know the language of the racoons.

Would you prefer the term mage?

The realm(s) to which I refer is/are a kind of radical spiritual individualism of the sort which gives rise to Buddhists telling other Buddhists, "If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him." A realm where as Gagdad says, just today, that followers of the Maharishi get help from the Maharishi despite the Maharishi (which means in Sanskrit "great enlightened one, or big shot").

I would never presume to infringe on the San Fernando Valley thing. I live south of Portland in Oregon.

6/02/2008 12:13:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Which is why, by the way, God is he (and not it.) It refers to objects, He to subjects. God is not a she because in relationship to God, we're the she.

6/02/2008 12:14:00 PM  
Anonymous christopher said...

Hoarhey, not a knight of the realm as you use it here, but there are other realms, oh yes. I am certainly too new here to know the language of the racoons.

Would you prefer the term mage?

The realm(s) to which I refer is/are a kind of radical spiritual individualism of the sort which gives rise to Buddhists telling other Buddhists, "If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him." A realm where as Gagdad says, just today, that followers of the Maharishi get help from the Maharishi despite the Maharishi (which means in Sanskrit "great enlightened one, or big shot").

I would never presume to infringe on the San Fernando Valley thing. I live south of Portland in Oregon.

By the way, the truth is easily misused too. Most often as a bludgeon by those who lack compassion.

6/02/2008 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Christopher, this is simply because the chief human passion is disobedience (which stems from pride) and thus the act of obedience, even to an idiot, benefits the disciple.

6/02/2008 12:17:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Christopher, sincerity without alignment to truth is often actually worse than useless. Example: environmentalists back in the 70s and 80s sincerely wanted to help expand coral reefs, so they tied together old tires and placed them in the ocean. They were very sincere, very earnest; the destruction wrought by their earnest (but very poorly thought out, un-aligned with reality) desires was possibly orders of magnitude greater than doing nothing.

6/02/2008 12:17:00 PM  
Anonymous christopher said...

Truth is the place to stand, but act in compassion. This is the highest Christian message and also Buddhist Mahayana's Bhodisattva ideal. Respect the disciplines.

6/02/2008 12:19:00 PM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

I don't prefer any terms I'm just asking for clarification.
I don't remember knight of the realm ever being used here. What is your interpretation of how a coon would use the term?

6/02/2008 12:21:00 PM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

So Truth does direct compassion?

6/02/2008 12:22:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

And sometimes, Christopher, the most compassionate act one can bestow is a swift kick in the rear, either figuratively or literally.

6/02/2008 12:24:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

God is Love, but God is also absolute judgment. Therefore, this compassion of which you speak is also judgment. Compassion without judgment is worthless, so to be kind you must also be cruel. This is the case because the world is fallen.

6/02/2008 12:24:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Christopher says, By the way, the truth is easily misused too. Most often as a bludgeon by those who lack compassion.

I disagree. What gets misused is authority. Some claim special knowledge or position and thus authority as agents of the Divine. They then use this authority to bully others. I don't think that has anything to do with the Truth.

People may believe the completely ridiculous, like militant Islam, Scientology, Darwinism, the Democrat party, Hollywood celebrities, and Obamaniacs. They are always coming off as Authorities while avoiding Truth like the plague.

6/02/2008 12:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seriously, the Tolle material cited by Bob as "gobbledygook" was in fact spot-on. Go ahead, read it again--

Your intuition will in fact parse you correctly on foods in many instances. I don't know about diabetics, but for the rank and file, this isn't a bad rule of thumb.

As far as sex impulses go, Tolle advises to go ahead and have the impulses, and regard them as a complete experience in and of themselves, with no obligation to act on them. This is what he means by living in the now.

There is no better advice to be had on sex than that.

However, if by hook or crook you end up with an actual warm body in front of you ready to go, the impulse to have sex would have to be honored and you would go ahead.

However, Tolle's position is that a person is better off not thinking about how to get sex in the future or about the sex she's had in the past.

6/02/2008 01:30:00 PM  
Anonymous christopher said...

Authority is one trouble. So is arrogance from a newly found truth in a young heart who lacks authority but doesn't know enough to know that. Such a soul lacks wisdom.

There is authority innate to knowing the truth, a spiritual authority, as well as the social kind so often described as worthy of resistance or rebellion. I use the word arrogance here to define this misuse of spiritual authority.

In many cases, an arrogant man may confuse another into false belief or some other damage not out of not knowing the truth but in his lack of compassion as he imposes his truth. Truth without compassion is still truth. Truth with compassion is wisdom.

6/02/2008 01:31:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Tolle's advice on sexuality is preposterously simplistic and/or evasive. I seriously doubt that he is a normal man. Is he married? Celibate? Having sex with whomever, so long as he is "present?"

6/02/2008 01:43:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

R.I.P. Bo Diddley

6/02/2008 01:56:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

The point is, Christopher, you seem to be trying to diminish truth. Compassion alone is useless foolishness. Compassion is only a corollary to truth. God is love, but love is not God. God encompasses love not the converse. Paul says "agape" love is the greatest of those things -- faith, hope, and love -- which will remain throughout eternity, but it is a function of truth. Jesus did not say, compassion will set you free. Truth frees us to obey Him and His commandment is "Love one another."

Which is probably more or less what you meant -- I just clarified it for my own benefit.

6/02/2008 02:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob writes:

"Tolle's advice on sexuality is preposterously simplistic and/or evasive. I seriously doubt that he is a normal man. Is he married? Celibate? Having sex with whomever, so long as he is "present?"

In support of Tolle, I re-rebut:

Yes, the advice is very simple. And so? Simplicity is not automatically suspect.

Evasive? Not at all. Tolle quite clearly states, "don't mistake the impulse for sex as something you have to do something about." In other words, stand back from the impulse and don't own it as "yours." It is an impulse occurring in your mind, but you don't have to identify with it. Any questions?

And Tolle is not a "normal man." The whole point is to deviate from normalcy, because the norm is dysfunctional.

Tolle is unmarried and it is unknown with whom or what he couples with, if anything.

6/02/2008 02:42:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Hey, if you find it helpful or wise, I'm not about to argue with you.

6/02/2008 02:50:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

But it does remind me of Steve Martin's advice for becoming a millionaire: first, get a million dollars...

6/02/2008 02:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Also brings to mind Socrates' old men who make a virtue of having no hair.

6/02/2008 02:56:00 PM  
Anonymous christopher said...

Here is my opinion on Truth and compassion.

I ask:

How can I diminish Truth? I would not dare to try.

What I can know is while I stand in Truth it "takes care of itself". It is in this sense that the Truth is a lesser issue. Compassion I must cultivate, if I can. That makes compassion more pressing to the human condition, at least to my condition.

But it is more difficult than these words make it seem. Probably neither Truth nor compassion are attainable without cooperation from the Cosmos in some form.

My Dad said when I was a kid we all suffer the Illusion of Central Position. The problem of Pride in the Christian sense is a hair's breadth from this illusion. But the spiritual truth is that we all do reside in heart of the cosmos. First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is.

6/02/2008 03:10:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Ah yes, Steve Martin.

He once imparted this timeless gem of wisdom:

"Never--no wait, always--keep a litter bag in your car. It doesn't take up much room, and if it gets full, you can just throw it out the window."

6/02/2008 03:19:00 PM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

Hypnogogia
a vague idea
of where we might be heading
rain on dry pavement

6/02/2008 03:38:00 PM  
Blogger jpelham said...

Lance,
One can distinguish between the various faiths you list precisely by their adherents' answers to Pilate's question - "What is Truth?" Their answers will not be equivalent, i.e., not constitute or point toward a consistent vision, if they are 'orthodox' - any more than two people are equivalent.

Bob, (I 1st posted this in the wrong place, sorry)
On your current topic, let me recommend the insight of a scrupulous Lutheran: "In unconsciousness of being in despair a man is farthest from being conscious of himself as spirit. But precisely the thing of not being conscious of oneself as spirit is despair, which is spiritlessness -- whether the condition be that of complete deadness, a merely vegetative life, or a life of higher potency the secret of which is nevertheless despair. In the latter instance the man is like the sufferer from consumption: he feels well, considers himself in the best of health, seems perhaps to others to be in florid health, precisely when the sickness is most dangerous."
--------------------------------------------------------
~Source: The Sickness Unto Death, Kierkegaard

One can still smile broadly, though not deeply, while in despair, as Chopra et al.

6/02/2008 04:23:00 PM  
Anonymous steve said...

I love the manifesto, and I read all Bob's blogs...and re-read them religiously....easily the best spiritual and political writer in the WORLD...and one of the few who understands how empty the left is.......but I also love to read Tolle....

6/02/2008 05:27:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Thank you for that extravagant encomia. Frankly, I didn't know anything about Tolle until yesterday, and never would have discussed him if a troll hadn't brought up the subject. But then the troll bailed on us anyway, so it proved to be a pointless exercise.

6/02/2008 05:47:00 PM  
Blogger lance said...

Well I read and reread the differing responses to my question. But it still doesn't explain to me why differing doctrines are so quick to condemn others. You guys all seem so sure of the idea of a prism and seeing different parts of the mountain but doesn't that go against years of teaching by the mainstream church that the road to heaven is narrow and their is only one "Truth" not many differing aspects of that "Truth"?

6/02/2008 05:48:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

We should also keep things in perspective. Tolle will be forgotten in the space of two decades, whereas today we lost a musical immortal, Bo Diddley, whose music will be played forever, wherever Coons frolic.

6/02/2008 05:51:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Lance:

There is a long answer to your question, but I don't have time to give it. Suffice it so say that humans will be human.

6/02/2008 05:53:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

"You guys all seem so sure of the idea of a prism and seeing different parts of the mountain but doesn't that go against years of teaching by the mainstream church that the road to heaven is narrow and their is only one "Truth" not many differing aspects of that "Truth"?"

Ah, but I don't think Raccoons are really very mainstream, by nature. There are Jewish coons and Catholic coons and Orthodox coons and Mormon coons, and coons who represent whole catalogues of different religious organizations in one person, but I don't think any of us are easily labeled. As to why so many mainstream churches and denominations fight with each other, that has more to do with human nature than the nature of O. There is only one truth, but it's a mighty big truth. Odds are, if you're here and digging the groove then you're interested in seeing it from a point of view that isn't standard.

6/02/2008 06:00:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

That's a good topic... maybe I'll post on it tomorrow, seeing as how I was JUST COINCIDENTALLY reading about it today in The Spiritual Ascent (see the subsection "Sanatana Dharma," p. 790).

6/02/2008 06:05:00 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

Julie,
Thanks for the story about the tires.

6/02/2008 06:17:00 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

and, Julie, you are so right about the compassionate kick in the rear!

6/02/2008 06:19:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

trolle, hinting that you're going to bring on Mike Tyson and delivering Richard Simmons instead... a day late... talking about being a duller short.

6/02/2008 07:03:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Personally, I have no patience for the pretentiously pleasant sorts such as chopra - I don't see them as 'nice', but as smiley faced smugglers of error, infection and corruption - wolves in sheeps clothing doesn't begin to cover it. Those foolish enough to ape them, christopher, sorry, but this seems to include you, don't buy much sympathy with their currency of ignorance.

Compassion is the result of clarity, understanding and judgment with a perspective which includes the past, the present and their ramifications for the future. Seeking to 'cultivate' compassion as a thing itself, rather than a process, ensures nothing but emotional posturing and misplaced, even destructive, encouragement.

Similarly for the Truth, the human form of grasping and understanding Truth, begins in a narrow sense by identifying and recognizing what is factually true in a given context, and integrating that into your wider knowledge with a careful process of examination and judgment - introducing any pre-judged poses of treacle & warmth, dooms you to gumming up the works with syrupy drips and soon afterwards the dust, grime and dirt drawn to such messes.

6/02/2008 07:04:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Lance,
To put it in an intentionally deescalated context, imagine differing groups of readers getting together because they enjoy imaginative fiction. As discussion gets going, numerous people, though having a definite favorite, enjoy hearing about the others stories. Many others however, completely caught up in their favorites, begin to get their back up "The Lord of the Rings" is the best ever! Nonsense, The Chronicles of Narnia are! Ridiculous, those old fashioned tomes have nothing on Harry Potter!" and so on.

None of the sets have a lock on Imaginative fiction, though each expresses the poetic form exceedingly well... but some are better suited for one sort of reader than another - but none can come close to defining the wider category.... but people being people, many will still say things like "If it doesn't conform to the Celtic or Teutonic model, they can't even be considered imaginative works at all!".

And imagine the the 'cafeteria' reader who goes beyond enjoying each set as it is, and tries to take pieces of each and paste it into one 'all embracing' story... 'the lion, the hobbit and the muggle' - yeahhh ...not so much.


You can't fault the stories or the story tellers for their admirer’s errors and enthusiasm, and equally you shouldn’t reject any or all of the stories because they tell different or even conflicting stories, they all thoroughly employ the imagination.

Amp that up several fold and leaps up the vertical stairway, and I think it still holds.

6/02/2008 07:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Stu said...

I don't understand this whole "power of now" thing. Why does Tolle think it is spiritually advanced to ignore the lessons of the past and refuse to prudently plan for future?

Seems a bit childish if you ask me. Not to mention dangerous.

6/02/2008 07:39:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

You don't get it. Just be like Oprah: first, get a billion dollars. Next, live in the now. Easy.

6/02/2008 07:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Stu said...

Good plan. Will you give me the rights to the Coonfesto so I can sit back and watch the big bucks roll in?

6/02/2008 08:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Dharma_Eye said...

Allow me to respectfully and humbly offer my analysis of your analysis.

First, I agree that Tolle's teaching is highly flawed and likely to result in existential cul-de sacs or at least a potentially long and unnecessary diversion and distraction.

However, your placing of Truth in the highest rank in a hierarchy of values seems mistaken. While Truth is a necessary condition for liberation, virtue and grace it is not a sufficient one. Truth is one of the great tools[and don't assume because I say Truth can and should be instrumental that I am saying it is anything less than Truth-in-full(ness)] and has value in and of itself, but ultimately what is utmost value is 'The Real', or reality experienced and understood as such.

Now, as you say, using the word 'realization' in the sense or context of

"only 'realization' counts and that 'theory' is nothing"

is mistaken and foolish. But the idea of Realization has a deeper, older and more coherent conceptual being. Realization is something along the paradoxical idea of 'becoming what you are'. Its not about brief or temporary 'spiritual experiences' as you say, but it is about Experience of The Real which, even if precipitated or catalyzed by intense peak-like moments, is ultimately concerned with full and lasting awareness of The Real.

Surely one must have their thoughts in line with Truth, but even more importantly they must have their awareness and experience in line with The Real.

Thinking of Thomas Aquinas and the words he spoke late in life;

"Such secrets have been revealed to me that all I have written now appears to be of little value."

it is clear that Aquinas was no anti-intellectual but even he, when confronted with The Real, saw how much better it is to eat the meal and not the menu.

6/02/2008 08:29:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Stu said "... Will you give me the rights to the Coonfesto so I can sit back and watch the big bucks roll in?"

Now you're talkin'!

(how ya doin' Stu?)

6/02/2008 08:33:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Dharma eye:

You are missing the point of the post, which was in no way to denigrate authentic realization, but the fetish of realizationism.

6/02/2008 08:39:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Also, I would say that Truth is what must be realized, precisely, as opposed to merely "known." This, I believe, is the distinction Aquinas was drawing. His realization was the crown and fulfillment of truth, not its negation. Around these parts, we call it the distinction between (k)-->O and O-->(n).

6/02/2008 08:44:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Dharma_Eye said "However, your placing of Truth in the highest rank in a hierarchy of values seems mistaken... Surely one must have their thoughts in line with Truth, but even more importantly they must have their awareness and experience in line with The Real."

hmmm... sorry, I could be wrong, but it seems to me that thinking that you can get to the Realfaster by bypassing the Truth via a temporal shortcut through the 'now' ... smacks of shortcuts and sophistry. How a human being knows true reality, without Truth... is ... beyond... me. And not just a wee bit hubristic.

When Aquinas wrote "Such secrets have been revealed to me that all I have written now appears to be of little value.", I think he was thinking of his own constructions, his own attempts to frame and present the Truth... not Truth itself. His, and our, inability to grasp the entire Truth, doesn't diminish Truth itself, it only points out our inability to lift a mountain, and the wisdom of neither over reaching nor settling for a handful of dust.

6/02/2008 09:03:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Somewhat OT, Petey's tin cup should have rattled, I just clicked through and bought "A Conservative History of the American Left".

A hard day's night... time for beddie-bye.

6/02/2008 09:56:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Van:

I predict you'll love that book. The first few chapters are the slowest, but it gets better as it goes along, and pretty soon you can't put it down.

6/02/2008 10:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Dharma_Eye said...

One clearly sees or experiences The Real not by ignoring or bypassing Truth, but by transcending it, and this entails including it. Truth is part of The Real, but only a part and a part which points on past itself.

Van, you said

"I think he was thinking of his own constructions, his own attempts to frame and present the Truth..."

and

"How a human being knows true reality, without Truth... is ... beyond... me."

As to the first point, Truth is always an attempt to frame and present, but not itself, but rather to frame and present The Real. However, Truth by its very nature, can't [and when properly understood doesn't aim to] succeed at this, which is why it points beyond itself to The Real.

Truth exists from the standpoint where the subject and object have been separated. As long as this 'frame' exists, the subject can only access the object by knowing it, which requires Truth. But knowing is different than being aware of or experiencing, what could be called 'seeing', though in a deeper more metaphysical sense. One can see and experience The Real but one can only 'know' Truth.

This, again, is not to disparage Truth. There is no need[and most likely a good reason not to] be ignorant of or hostile to Truth, but one shouldn't stop at knowing Truth when one can experience The Real.

And ultimately when one sees The Real there is no conflict or inherent separation between Truth and The Real. The Real is experienced by a wider[a sort of total wideness] kind of seeing that subsumes or includes Truth, but undeniably transcends it.

6/02/2008 11:08:00 PM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

Dharma,

What about being Truth? And how would that relate to seeing the Real that you speak of?
It seems to me people may be speaking of the same things from different traditions using differing terminologies.

6/03/2008 12:32:00 AM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

BTW, saw Tolle's newest book at the bookstore today and was reaching for it until I saw the Oprah seal of approval on the cover at which time it sent out bolts of electricity like the glass slippers in the Wizard of Oz and I backed off.

Tolle Troll, get back to us in 2 to 5 years and tell us how all the advice from Tolle is working out for you. One thing that can be counted on is that your relationship with him is working out quite well.

6/03/2008 12:51:00 AM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

While perusing Tolle's website, I found this:
"An essential aspect of this awakening consists in transcending our ego-based state of consciousness. This is a prerequisite not only for personal happiness but also for the ending of violent conflict endemic on our planet."

And the thought ocurred to me, "I wonder how Eckharts career would be working out if Hitler had won WWII"?
What a protected bubble some people exist in.
So I'll say it for him,
THANK YOU U.S. MILITARY!

6/03/2008 01:06:00 AM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

I think Krishna may have been onto something when he said that transcending our ego-based state of consciousness should not get in the way of killing the people who happen to be on the wrong side of a conflict.

6/03/2008 02:44:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Hmm, if God is Truth, and the source of beauty and goodness, then truth would be on the top. Pilate's question (which the Gospel writers were careful to note) is none other than him asking 'what is Truth?' to Truth himself.

Also, Van made a good point. Somewhere I read, and I'm not sure if it is the Philokalia, but we like to talk in terms of 'general error' and 'fallenness' as though these things are simply general properties of humanity. However, all averages consist of a mass of particulars. And thus, all human sin (error) is particular. Holiness starts with addressing particular errors and the consequences of trying to do so.

For instance if we want to Love our neighbor and Love our enemy, we must address various forms of hatred we have. Now, this involves dispatching the truth (primarily about ourselves, but also about others as well.) We will find that following those commands - that is, having complete compassion - is impossible for us.

Tolle et al fail simply because they want in the kingdom without using the gate. Yes we must live with complete compassion but it does not live without truth, judgment, holiness, faithfulness, chastity, charity, humility.

Doing all of these things together perfectly is impossible for us, but luckily - it isn't for God.

And to top it off, we should be most concerned with the state of our own souls (I think Matthew mentions a statement of Christs where the Lord says a time will come when men must be concerned with their own souls first.) Thus compassion is important insofar as it is an act of mercy which helps us overcome our own broken, bitter selves.

Humility is far more important than compassion, since pride and thus disobedience is our main fault. Humility makes real compassion possible, like for instance 'your left hand not knowing what your right hand does.'

Give your alms in secret, pray in secret and fast in secret. If you do not, you will soon become like the Pharisee, or Oprah Winfred. (Without all the dough, even.)

6/03/2008 04:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Dharma_Eye said...

hoarhey said

"It seems to me people may be speaking of the same things from different traditions using differing terminologies."

Yes, no doubt.

6/03/2008 06:07:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Dharma_Eye, as Hoarhey mentioned, we may be coming at the same point from different angles... but I seem to see a refraction in there, a dualism, which I don't buy.

There are different degrees of grasping the Truth, to be sure. There is the surface intellectual grasp of 'B follows A, except in situations of C', then there is the deeper intellectual grasp as that is integrated into deeper and wider understandings, where you begin to see without needing to know of 'A', that 'B' is going to result, and how to head it off before 'C' needs to even get into the picture. Then there is the even deeper understanding which seems to come not just from your head, but body and soul out of the experience of living and acting in accordance with that Truth, where 'B' resonates with every fiber of your being and understanding. Neither is other than Truth, but deeper and deeper permeating integrations of Truth which shaves the contradictions off as dust.

As Petey likes to say, it isn't true because it's logical, it is logical because it is True.

You seem to be mixing up Truth with the Words we use to convey it, and they are not the same. Words, and the concepts they stem from, help us to grasp Reality in ways that immediate perception alone cannot. But the words themselves are not, and cannot, substitute for, or fully describe the Real. Our Concepts more clearly convey the Real, and the more deeply integrated and interconnected, the clearer our understanding of it, yet again, they are not themselves the Real, it takes living and experiencing and acting to 'become one with' (sorry, too little time to find a better description) Reality, and we know that we are approaching that, by the degree of non-contradictory understanding of it we have, which we experience as Truth. One of the powers of a poetic grasp, IMHO, is that it allows a direct and circumferential integration of our complete conceptual understanding, both beneath and beyond words... a 3D, perhaps even 4D holographic deeply Intuitive grasp of Truth, which the linear use of words can't deliver - but still, a grasp, not the thing itself.

As drawings on paper represent, but don't equal what they are two dimensional images of, our concepts and words represent, but are not equivalents of True Reality, and our mental maps inevitably end up in some way having Greenland look larger than North America, but we can still grasp that it is not True that Greenland is larger than North America - Truth IS and we attempt to be true to it.

Reality IS, we can identify it, and grasping that is what we are conscious of doing, those three are at the furthest roots of our human reach – and done correctly, we experience the Truth of having done so, or poetically, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

Any assertion that we can somehow get Reality by somehow getting past those three axioms, past Truth... I think not only mistakes what it is to be in the universe and to be human, the ever present possibility of error and mistaken choices, and the way of the workings of our mind, but seeks after a self deluding understanding which we are, truthfully, not equipped to have.

I could be wrong… but that’s only because Truth exists prior to my grasp of it.

6/03/2008 06:20:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"You seem to be mixing up Truth with the Words we use to convey it"

Or I'm misperceiving that in what you're saying...

6/03/2008 06:22:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Well, you can approach the Truth from a different direction but it is still the same truth, if it is what we claim. Thus there is only one door, only one way in. What we want is that which joins us to this truth, whatever way we find to approach it. Thus it should agree on fundamental things even if the expression differs somewhat.

There really is only one Truth. Or as the old spiritual says, "So-o high you can't go over it, So-o low you can't go under it, So-o wide you can't go around it, you must go in at the door."

I'll leave it to others to make verbal music out of all of that.

6/03/2008 06:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Dharma_Eye said...

"You seem to be mixing up Truth with the Words we use to convey it"

Or I'm misperceiving that in what you're saying...


Yes and no. I think the basic semantic problem here is that your use of 'Truth' and my use of 'The Real' overlap in their reference but are not exactly the same. So some of the times it seems we are on the same wavelength while at others there appears to be a tension.

I assume your thinking about and using 'Truth' is heavily informed by Christ being the 'Way, Truth and Life' and by the idea of Christ as Logos. So it seems for you Truth is as related to a sense of Logos as much as in the sense of Veritas.

Approaching this matter for me is informed by largely a Hindu-Buddhist paradigm, so my use of 'Truth', 'Real' etc. is somewhat of a translation from how I would ordinarily think about it.

In my use of 'The Real' I am thinking analogically about Brahman/Atman, Sunyata/Tathata, Tao/Qi/Li and thinking about 'Truth' less like Logos and more like Veritas.

So, to somewhat come back to your question, I am not confusing Truth with the words we use to convey it as much as I was equating Truth with its only manifestation, the symbols we use to convey it. In my view, Truth doesn't reference itself[if it did what value would it be, merely some sort of post-modern-like circularity] but references, or more accurately I think, points to Reality, which both includes Truth yet transcends it.

But I think I correct for our different refraction of expression. Where you seem to stress the Truth part of 'the Way, the Truth, the Life' I think I focus on the Life and/or Way aspects of that idea.

6/03/2008 08:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Dharma_Eye said...

correction of the last paragraph:

'But I think I CAN correct for'

6/03/2008 08:08:00 AM  
Anonymous christopher said...

In regard to the truth thing, and to paraphrase something I liked so much that I framed it,

"There is One Truth. It is unfortunately so perfectly universal and general that no particular application of it is possible."

The problem of falling short (of perfection, of truth, etc) is built into the realities of the particular, all the way from the nano-micro out to just short of the universal-macro where everything is arguably one. Wittgenstein said there is a point at which silence is the only sanity (also a paraphrase).

In the mid ranges, where we live, there is much room for discussion. Nearly everything of any relevance to us is a mid-range phenom. Wait a minute. Of course it is. Here comes the illusion of central position again.

6/03/2008 08:15:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Dharma_Eye said "I assume your thinking about and using 'Truth' is heavily informed by Christ being the 'Way, Truth and Life' and by the idea of Christ as Logos."

Actually, although sympathetic to, I am not a Christian, at least few who are, would likely name me as one of them. I come at my conception of Truth (and God) through Reality (no hubris there... ahem) and a non-theistic view of it via Objectivism - Aristotle, Ayn Rand, etc. It was through One Cosmos that I extended that nuts and bolts view of the universe into the upper vertical. It gave religion a whole new meaning for me, and my relation to reality, with its extension into the inwardly outwards... deiOsphere.

Crud... 15 min lunch... gotta leave it there for now.

6/03/2008 10:54:00 AM  

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