Materialistic Egomaniacs and Spiritual Logomaniacs
Sometimes it's just the title for a post, with no content, like Charles Johnson's Deterioration and Bion's Concept of the Imaginary Twin; other times I write a few cryptic words, thinking I'll know later what I meant, like this beauty: "atheism is an extrinsic ornament." What the hell is that supposed to mean? Sometimes it's a new insult to be handed off to Dupree, like this one, which isn't really his style: anus miribalis, or what an amazing asshole! Sometimes it's just a stupid joke: "celibacy is the path of lust resistance."
The hard part is telling the difference between the nonsense, the wisdom, the jokes, and the insults. But that's your problem, I suppose.
Today I am told that this post has something to do with the contrast between materialistic egomaniacs and religious logomaniacs. Perhaps this is a timely topic, given that a fairly representative member of the former group -- an apparent materialistic egomaniac named Alobama -- essentially accused me of being a religious one. Let me retrieve the exact quote from its dank bog of incoherence, so as to do it proper injustice.
Alobama expresses the sentiment that the herd of intrinsically diverse and independent Raccoons is analogous to the left-wing Jonestown cult, and that I -- and we -- am "as prideful as a man can be. It's in the Coonish jeans. Deny it without using 'I' if you will. Or better yet skip the plea bargain and just delete all the cajoling proise from your published mosthead, drop your distinguishing GD moniker, and be content to live in the world you wish for rather than the world as it is. Or is your talk also cheap? I've only made it two paragraphs into your diatribe today and already you've soiled your trousers. Sorry to be so dour. I"ll tune in tomorrow when you might be speaking to truth instead of lies. Your own not exempted."
I'll admit that I didn't comprehend Alobama's touchingly earnest groping for coherence except for the references to Jonestown and pride; giving s/h/it the benefit of the doubt, perhaps he scrawled these proto-thoughts with a rusty box cutter while driving his forklift. Be that as it may, the charge is a seriously loony one, and therefore worthy of a seriously derisive response.
Let's start with some definitions. Better yet, let's start with some principles, since they are a priori true, on pain of there being no truth, and therefore no accurate definitions. For to define can be either a passive or an active act; to define is to draw a boundary around something, i.e., to give it a name, which is man's prerogative and duty. In a sense, it is indistinguishable from the thing's existence, at least from our perspective. We can't think clearly about anything that isn't well defined; to put it another way, to the extent that we've clearly and accurately defined something, it likely means that we are thinking clearly about it.
Without an adequate container, there can be no content, and what we call "thinking" is precisely the byplay of container and contained, or the evolution of the container through the assimilation of more refined content. (This is one of the unavoidable problems of atheism, in that they define God in an intrinsically inadequate way, given that they concede at the outset that they've never even experienced this thing that they both define and yet reject. On this basis alone we ridicule these dysluxic dorklings with great gusto.)
Anyway, we begin with the principle of the "two minds," which is present in all religious traditions. In coonspeak, we like to employ unsaturated symbols to describe these two selves, or "interior mindscapes," (•) and (¶). The former stands for that which goes by the name of "ego," while the latter stands for that which goes by various names in different traditions. Both result in a "projected world" which the person goes on to inhabit and then take for reality; but only one is real.
That is, these "two minds" are adequations to different planes of reality. Or, to be perfectly accurate, (•) is a paradoxical adequation to unreality (or that which cannot be ultimately real), while (¶) is a mirror of the Immutable, the Absolute, and the Real. As such, the final end of (•) is a kind of nothing masquerading as a total hardness or dissipation, depending on the temperament, while the final end of (¶) is precisely a Real nobody and a fulsome nothing, something to which all saints and mystics will attest in one way or another. For this reason, humility is always a mark of the saint or sage, even though, looked at from the profane point of view, they can appear grandiose, inflated, egomaniacal, etc. In fact, if you are convinced that only (•) is real, then you really have no choice but to view even the most exalted (¶) as just an oversized (•).
Just to be fully clear, we need to add a couple more definitions here for a complete picture, that is... hmm, I guess my computer doesn't have the upward and downward arrows, so you'll jut have to imagine them; but these refer to the Godman (or avatar) and the saint or bodhisattva, the former a direct manifestation and incarnation of the divine principle within the relative, the latter an ascent of relativity to divinity. These are to be distinguished from the rank and file (¶).
Now, to jump ahead a bit, does the B'ob have an ego? Of course. I make no special claims for myself, but even the best of us has an ego so long as we are in the embodied state. And in fact, if you fail to comprehend this, you will be led into error, as we see in the cases of so many actual cultists and "independent gurus." For these types, the more they insist that they have "transcended the ego," the more narcissistic and egomaniacal they tend to be. For example -- and again, I make no special claims for myself -- but the idea that it would even occur to me to turn God into cash profits by selling a "Kama Sutra Calendar" is quite literally unthinkable. Repellant, really.
In fact, I should think that, once one is aware of God, one would do nothing to make him look foolish or trivial, and do everything to preserve one's good relations with him. The fact that Deepak never runs out of ideas for cashing in on God strikes me as a red flag that we are dealing with a very big (•), not (¶). If trolls want to say I am "jealous of Deepak," one can only ask: what else could you think?
As a brief aside, you will see that I occasionally use humor and even what some might call "vulgarity" to get my points across. But in my case -- and I'll flesh this out later -- I hope that any vulgarity is "from above," so to speak, not "from below," paradoxical though that may appear. Even after I started doing this, I had a great deal of trepidation and ambivalence before being assured that it was for a higher purpose and not merely frivolous.
For example, just yesterday I received a touching email from a grateful reader, who said "Your blog has become a virtual sanctuary for me and, no doubt, many others. Thanks for letting that happen," and went on to single out the following passage: "I have no respect for a reductionistic Darwinist who is not a nihilist and a sociopath, for he is merely a weakling and coward who lacks basic intellectual honesty and the courage of his convictions. He has his feet planted in the soil of Judeo-Christian values, even while he has his head planted in his ass."
Ho! Such passages are clearly not intended to be merely humorous, but are more like a koan, which "is a formula by intention absurd, destined to bring about a kind of liberating rupture in the mind of the person meditating on it, the mind in this instance being considered with regard to its hardness and blindness" (Schuon). The Raccoon refers to these as the sacred "guffah-HA!" experience, which is firmly rooted in the scryptical passage, My yokes are easy, my words enlight! All Raccoons become adept at this, not just me, for it is one of the "gifts of Toots."
As we have been saying in recent posts, the hierarchical continuity of the world is a necessary consequence of the intrinsically radical discontinuity between the Principle and the manifestation, God and creation, Absolute and relative, One and many. You might even say that in each of these antinomies, (¶) is an adequation to the former, while (•) is an adequation to the latter. Thus, in this sense, we see that (•) "must needs be," otherwise we could never even get around in the horizontal world. Yes, O fences must come, but woe to the man who lives behind one!
Speaking as a psychologist, the problem for the majority of patients is not "too much ego," but not enough ego, that is, a stable, coherent, fluid, and open adaptation to the horizontal, within the higher context of a vertical orientation. And for those with a hypertrophied or hardened ego, the problem is that it is closed to anything higher than itself, and thus becomes a kind of living death, or embodied prison.
Each of the following categories is intimately related: ego, individualism, narcissism, relativism, libertinism, and alienation from immutable principles. Conversely, (¶) is related to sanctity, charity, compassion, chastity, humility, "absolutism," and principial reality, not because of any "top-down" dogma, but because of first hand "acquaintance." In short, (¶) is an open system on the vertical plane, which is in dynamic rapport with O. In contrast, (•) is at best an open system with Ø on the horizontal plane. There is nothing wrong with relative knowledge, so long as one recognizes that it is relative, e.g., Darwinism as science, not metaphysics.
To put it another way, man was not created to live within manmade limitations, most especially the "unlimited limitations" of a limitless and therefore totalitarian science. Either you see this, or you don't. Either you are a horizontal egomaniac or a vertical logomaniac. And I guess that's the end of this post, even though I've barely scratched the surface of our eternal owner's manual.
There would be truth,
Truth that nobody sees,
If in the world everyone were like you --Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, Se Todos Fossem Iguais a Você
Related: The Necessary Religion:
"On an individual level, natural law holds that there is a Third [vertical] Party, beyond the biological mother and father, involved in the act of human creation. Your two parents generated your material [horizontal] substance, the goop and soup of you; that much could be said of any mammal. But according to natural law, God expresses His interest in every human being through the act of ensoulment -- the creation of an individual soul [(¶)] -- by virtue of which the human being becomes a person. And from that quality of personhood flow the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."