The Great Cosmic Casting Couch and the Role of a Lifetime
Rick asks, "So Bob, do you think a person can be built for two or more [castes]? I think you are saying there is a 'predominant' one for a person and that even then most will not be great at it. Which is fine. It’s the forcing yourself to be exceptional at it, and convincing yourself you are when you are not, that is not good. And you’re speaking 'generally.' But I look at the categories and I clearly see a little farmer and hunter and warrior in me too. Seems the blessings of modernity finally allow it. The real world outside of your predominant caste will provoke those lesser ones. In other words, you may need ‘em someday."
That's a good point. Reminds me of astrology, in which one has a dominant sun sign, but within the context of various other archetypes, aspects, houses, elements, transits, and cycles, so that each horoscope is as unique as a... a human being.
The second question is from an anonymous commenter who boasts of living "in an abandoned refrigerator carton in a vacant lot. My box is lined with carpet scraps and is quite snug and cozy. I use the computer at the public library. I turn in aluminum cans and so forth to get spending money."
What this resourceful man wants to know is, "So, what caste am I, anyway? Am I the lowest or is there an even lower one?"
Let's start with these latter questions, being that I sense they have more comedic potential. First of all, there is an unavoidable political dimension to the questions, in that the caste of which he speaks only exists during a Republican administration. During such Hard Times, hordes of these untouchables suddenly appear as if by magic, living in their cardboard boxes and pushing shopping carts around the city. But when a Democrat is in office, the problem just as suddenly "disappears," and there are no longer any members of this caste. This is the nature of "liberal compassion." It is so powerful, that mere good intentions are sufficient to make the problem go away, at least until a Republican returns to office.
Caste. Exactly what is it? Schuon writes that "in its spiritual sense, caste is the 'law' or dharma governing a particular category of men in accord with their qualifications." The Bhagavad-Gita says that it is "better to perish in one’s own law; it is perilous to follow the law of another.... [S]imilarly the Manava-Dharma Shastra says: 'It is better to carry out one’s own proper functions in a defective manner than to fulfill perfectly those of another; for he who lives accomplishing the duties of another caste forthwith loses his own.'” The point is, there is real existential peril and pain involved in failure to identify one's caste.
Of the castes, Schuon only mentions four, but as Rick implies, the modern world would seem to suggest that there are many more niches to fill within the pneumacosmic economy -- which is again one of the great blessings of America, not just that we are free to move from level to level (vertically) or category to category (horizontally), but may also make a "mid-course correction" at any age. It's never too late to discover your role in the Cosmic Adventure!
Regarding the four castes, "There is first of all the intellective, speculative, contemplative, sacerdotal type, which tends towards wisdom or holiness.... Next there is the warlike and royal type, which tends towards glory and heroism.... this type will readily be active, combative and heroic, hence the ideal of the 'heroicalness of virtue.' The third type is the respectable 'average' man: he is essentially industrious, balanced, persevering; his center is love for work that is useful and well done, and carried out with God in mind.... Lastly there is the type that has no ideal other than that of pleasure in the more or less coarse sense of the word; this is concupiscent man who, not knowing how to master himself, has to be mastered by others, so that his great virtue will be submission and fidelity."
Again, we are not interested in the institutional application of these principles in any top-down manner. Rather, for Raccoon purposes, their only value is in the idea that we do possess our own "soul imprint," so to speak, which must be "actualized" in this life. In the past, I have discussed this in terms of Bollas's idea of the "unthought known" and its relationship to the discovery of our own unique idiom of expression, which would represent the "exteriorization" of our inwardness, so to speak. This is where liberty and the sanctity of private property come in, because it is obviously quite impossible to discover oneself except under conditions of freedom, nor can this exteriorization of the interior occur unless the soul can choose those objects that "resonate" with it.
That probably sounds too abstract, but I think you will find that it is actually quite concrete and "experience near." For example, Bollas talks about how a person's dwelling is like a sort of "soul museum" -- like walking through an objectified dreamscape in which the "contents are visible," as Van Morrison put it in song. To say that a sanctuary is where the soul and intellect find their rest is to say that there is a "good fit" between the inward and the outward. Thus, one person's sanctuary can be another's dreary airport terminal. I am often shocked at what people call "home," since my soul would be quite restless, if not totally alienated, there; but there you go. Different cloaks for different blokes.
In my case, whatever the external trappings, I usually go straight for the books and CDs. That tells me everything I need to know about what kind of person I'm dealing with (although what is hanging on the wall -- i.e., what they call "art" -- is another dead giveaway). This may sound... I don't know, petty, but I am utterly disoriented if someone has the complete works of Michael Buble or Harry Connick, but no Sinatra. Frankly, I don't know what to say to such a person. Just make my apologies and slowly back away.
You see, it's a matter of essentials. I am reminded of Ray Charles, who said that he could tell everything he needed to know about a woman by holding her wrist. Someone said to him, "that's preposterous. How can you tell everything about a person by touching their wrist?" To which Ray responded: "I didn't say everything. I said everything I need to know." (Which reminds me: How does one become a Raelette? Easy. You let Ray.)
Some people have no clear or articulate idiom, and that is part of the problem. For if you haven't discovered the soul, then you will not have found its idiom. Or, to put it the other way around, to find the soul's idiom is to have found the soul, precisely. Look at me. I would say that I didn't fully discover my idiom and truly flesh it out until I began blogging. This is a critical point, and again goes to what Rick was saying about the diversity of modernity, and the many more opportunities to identify and occupy niches and sub-niches.
As I have probably mentioned before, my book was difficult -- or at least laborious -- to write, in large measure -- which I now realize in hindsight -- because I had no audience. It was as if I were trying to develop a unique idiom, but absent any context. It's analogous to an artist who must simultaneously express himself and invent the means to do so. Looking back on it, I can definitely say that for much of my life, I felt like "an artist without an art form," and now I know why: I had to invent the art form, or the idiom, for my soul's expression. And of course, it's an ongoing process. For example, in reading that post yesterday from early '06, I could see how far I've come since then. And where I've come is "toward me."
Again, not necessarily just in terms of "content," but in expression, which turns out to be a vital component of the content! For this reason, I would never worry about someone "stealing my ideas," because they would have to "steal me," which no one could ever do. Or, put it this way: it is obviously possible to steal a scientific idea, or just discover it before someone else does. But no one could steal my idiom, because it is unique to my soul. For this reason I say, to paraphrase Walt Whitman: This is no blog, comrade. Who touches this touches a man! Or a soul, to be precise; cut it, and it bleeds my blood. So I suppose it's a body as well: again, the exteriorization of my deepest interior, for what it's worth. It is my "image and likeness."
Another important point is what Bollas calls "the erotics of being." This refers to the deeply satisfying feeling of expressing the soul's idiom and having it understood by someone else. It is "erotic" in the sense that it is soul-to-soul touch. People occasionally or constantly ask me when I might write the next book, and the answer is "possibly never," one reason being that it could never be as satisfying as the blogging, through which I have the privilege of indulging in the "erotics of being" every morning. With a book, I would have to be too self-conscious and couldn't "pull out all the stops." Even as it is, I am surprised that my publisher went along with some of the unorthodox features of my existing book. No one knew back then about the lost tribe of Raccoons, and how we share a similar idiom.
Now, back to our box-dwelling reader. Is there a lower caste? First, he might be confusing caste with socioeconomic status, for one's essential caste doesn't change with material circumstances. There are obviously wealthy people who are outcasts (one thinks of Hollywood) and noble and dignified people of modest means who have a natural aristocracy about them. They know who they are. These are often the people for whom liberal outcasts have contempt that they express under the guise of "helping the little guy." In point of fact, liberals are "little guys," i.e., constricted and emaciated souls. We are not, for we contain the very cosmos that contains the liberal.
Regarding those Hollywood liberals, one has only to examine their idiom -- i.e., their dreadful films -- to know everything you need to know about them. They must live in a kind of grinding soul-poverty that is scarcely imaginable to a Raccoon. What kind of soul thinks that these projects needed to exist, or even have a right to?
The lowest caste is a kind of "anti-caste," being that it has to do with a person who has no center, or else has a completely exteriorized and therefore dissipated soul. He then chases his soul outward, which results only in additional fragmentation and further distance from himself, as his soul drains into the terminal moraine of the senses.
Nevertheless, such a person, according to Schuon, is "salvageable through submission to someone better than he, and who will serve as his center. This is exactly what happens -- but on a higher plane which may concern any man -- in the relation between disciple and spiritual master." Recall that a couple of weeks ago, I was discussing how this has worked in my life. I have repeatedly discovered "spiritual masters" who at once served as a "surrogate center" and a means to discover my own idiom. Once that occurs, then you can relinquish the model, because the center is now "inside," so to speak.
The other day, Hoarhey was asking about people who are (•••) or even (•••••). What about them? Schuon talks about the "pariah," who arises from a "mixture of castes." One thinks of Deepak, who combines the sacerdotal with the material, and is therefore "capable of everything and nothing." In fact, this probably applies to all cult leaders and spritual frauds, who may have some level of spiritual insight, only mixed with other factors and tendencies, and which results in the inevitable "acting out" that we always see in such people -- the abuses, the contradictions, the broken moral compass, the rules that apply to followers but not the leader, etc. L. Ron Hubbard, Da Love Ananda, Rajneesh.... One could think of dozens more.
"The pariah has neither center nor continuity; he is nothingness eager for sensations; his life is a disconnected series of arbitrary experiences." Again, one commonly encounters this type in new age circles -- those "masters" who confuse the absence of a center with a kind of false transcendence. One can always sense when one is dealing with such a person, because their teaching will have no true depth, continuity, or resonance. It is very ad hoc, and they nearly always reject and belittle tradition, because it calls their absence of a transcendent center to account. They are also "charismatically creepy" or "creepily charismatic."
For as Schuon notes, "there is a supra-human Center which is always available to us, and whose trace we bear within ourselves, given that we are made in the image of the Creator." So although manifestation is a kind of great casting couch, ultimately there is really only one Role, and that's all that matters.
You know what they say: it's Frank's world, baby. We just love in it.