Friday, July 11, 2008

Wholeness, Power, Being, Truth, and Freedom (7.11.12)

Last night we had a question from charter Coon Kahn the Road, who came off the road long enough to pose it. He recently attended a ten day Buddhist meditation retreat, during which time he lived as a shut-your-trappist monk, with "silence, dietary restrictions, no reading, writing, outside communications, etc."

Although he had a favorable impression, he was left with ambivalence about "the complete detachment required and the lack of room for a deeper spiritual understanding beyond reduction of the worldly experience to neutral throbs and tingles in the body." As such, "it didn't take long for me to realize that a serious Buddhist practice wasn't for me, although it is comforting to know that such a path is there."

"My question remains, however, how does one access the ever fine line between faith and complacency?"

I'm not sure if I should dodge this question head on, or dance around it in a more oblique manner. I think the latter. What I'll do is just plant the question in the old unconscious mind, then go about writing this post in the usual leisurely way, and hope that the answers somehow get wefted into my warped response.

Because I've found that that's how life works. The thing is, you can do it in a consciously unconscious way, or in an unconsciously unconscious way, but in either case, you are going to harness primordial powers that are beyond the individual. Unfortunately, this can sound rather new-agey, but it really comes down to the application of will, only with one's totality -- i.e., "all thy mind, heart, and strength," instead of just with one's surface ego.

To a certain extent it's a catch 22, since this involves "willing with one's totality," when the ability to do so would, in a sense, represent the final end of the spiritual ascent -- which is to say, to be one, or whole, with no subterranean crosscurrents and mind parasites with agendas of their own: if thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

Again, people denigrate the ego, even though having a coherent and stable ego represents a significant achievement for most people. This is why in the Coonifesto I noted that most regular folkers are (•••), not (•). To live as (•••) means that one's I is not single, and that one will necessarily be at cross-purposes with oneself and thereby dissipate one's power.

Furthermore, there is no way to "cure" this fragmented condition "from the bottom up," being that the "bottom" is fragmentation as such, while the "top" is where the Oneness abides. We want to be organized "from the top down," which is where aspiration, rejection, and surrender come in, as discussed in yesterday's post. To achieve this would be to live in conformity with the divine will, or to see "thy will be done on earth (i.e, at the bottom) as it is in heaven (at the top)."

All spiritual paths involve 1) doctrine, and 2) method, AKA "reality and how to know it" (or, to be perfectly accurate, how to be it, or to combine Truth and Being -- which can only be separated in the human mind anyway). In Raccoon parlance, we say that it comes down to the combination of metaphysical know-how with spiritual be-who, but both are necessary to avoid error on the one hand, and hypocrisy or mere barren intellectualism on the other. The point is, we need to activate the Truth in order to make it efficacious in our lives, or to "set us free."

Oh yes. I should always emphasize that I'm not pretending to be some kind of guru here, only describing how it works for me. But at the same time, I'm always trying to figure out the "general principles" that seem to apply to all cases, that is, the "deep structure" of spiritual growth. Why do I do this? I don't know. I guess I'm just built this way. All I know is that spiritual growth is no less real than physical or psychological growth. We know a lot about the former, and quite a bit about the latter (at least if we ignore academic psychology), so there is no fundamental reason why we can't understand the dynamics of spiritual growth.

Again, this is what was so liberating for me when I discovered the works of Bion back in 1985, to be exact. Let's reminisce a little bit.... I had just started my Ph.D program in the fall of 1983, so this would be about a year and a-half later. The first thing you notice about psychology is that, unlike, say, biology or physics, there is no organizing paradigm to make sense of it all. And to say that there is no organizing paradigm amounts to the same thing as saying that the science is in a primitive state. It would be as if physicists had no basic agreements, and just came up with hundreds of ad hoc theories to explain the appearances of things.

Science is intrinsically spiritual, being that it too involves the reduction of multiplicity to unity. I don't want to get too sidetracked here, but the problem is, they do this "within" their own narrow discipline, but not across disciplines, which is why there is no way, for example, for science to ever unify matter and life, or life and mind, or mind and spirit. This is where the Raccoon project comes in, as we can mischievously scamper across disciplines under cover of darkness (our "gnocturnal O-mission"), unlike the tenured, who work only "by day," if you catch my drift.

So the first thing I noticed about psychology was that it was clearly in a "pre-paradigmatic" state, with no one agreeing upon the fundamentals, let alone the details. (This, by the way, is one of the reasons leftists have been able to come in and take over the field; the absence of a paradigm is like an invitation to deconstruction, since there is no stable "construction" to begin with. The less coherent the paradigm, the more leftists are able to take over the discipline with "feelings" instead of proper thought.)

Anyway, Bion noticed the same problem back in the 1950s. Even in psychoanalysis -- which is a subspecialty of a specialty -- there were dozens of sub-subspecialties, i.e., various competing theories not only trying to account for the same phenomena, but creating phenomena of their own, which is what a theoretical paradigm -- good or bad -- does. In other words, to a large extent, percept follows concept; or to put it in the colloquial, "you see what you believe." Combine this with "never trust a fact without a good theory to support it," and you have a situation in which people essentially live in their own private idaho.

Long story short, that's why Bion felt it necessary to develop an abstract system of symbols, or "empty categories," to apply to the subjective mindscape and to bring unity to an otherwise hopelessly fragmented field. Being that no one else was apparently going to do it, I merely adopted the same approach to the spiritual dimension. After all, we have Christians, Jews, Buddhists, etc., all claiming to have adequate maps of the spiritual dimension, plus efficacious means with which to get there. They can't all be right... unless...

So you see, the problem again comes down to the relationship between language and spirit. I won't even waste my time with someone who argues that spirit is "not real," for they are simply making an honest confession about themselves, which is why the Raccoon says, "let the dead bury the tenured," and "let Ray pleasure himself blind with his infertile nOnanism."

Now, here is what I've discovered. First of all, unlike euclidian space, the space of the mind is "hyperdimensional," meaning that it has more than four dimensions. This applies both to psychological space and to the spiritual space of which it is a declension, or a lower dimensional projection.

This is a key idea, being that a realm of lesser dimensions cannot produce one of greater ontological dimensions, which is why it has always been understood by traditional metaphysics that the realm of matter is the final precipitate, or "crystallization," of the involution of spirit (just as the lower animals are a "projection," or descent, of the Cosmic Man).

It is also why the "many" is located in the more material dimensions, whereas unity specifically abides at the top; the more we move up the evolutionary chain, the more the unity. Man is the vertical axis that spans the One and the many, and he can obviously go in either direction, depending upon a variety of factors. A spiritual practice is nothing less than a recovery of unity -- which is to say being + truth, in all their manifestations. The language of revelation turns out to be a form of symbolism that furnishes keys to knowledge of suprasensible realities, keys which are of the same "substance" as the eternal realm they describe. That's why they make for such nourishing and attractive meals.

Now, back to Kahn's question, which I've purposely forgotten, or "un-Remembered," so as to allow other forces to work on it: ""My question remains, however, how does one access the ever fine line between faith and complacency?"

Again, to become "whole" is to be organized "from the top down," or from the inside out. This is what we call O-->(n). The more one becomes whole, the more powers one has at one's disposal, for wholeness counters the dissipation and fragmentation of profane living. A Whole Person is always a powerful person, both as a cause and an effect. A Whole Person is also "charismatic," in that his words and actions will have an existential "heft," since they are not alienated from the fullness of Being.

So I suppose the question is, how does one achieve this wholeness without already having it? Again, I think it comes down to making a commitment on every level of one's being to make it so. I suppose, to a certain extent, I discuss this toward the end of my book, with the "Ten Commanishads and Upanishalts for Extreme Seekers." I haven't read them in a couple of years, so let me take a quick look, and see if I still believe myself....

Hmm... okay.... good... good... check... check... oh yes, very good... no argument there... yes... yes... yup.

I see there's even a helpful little summary on page 244: "In short, to paraphrase Mouravieff, the spiritual life involves making the transition from mindlessly willing for that which we uncritically yearn, to consciously yearning for that which we actually want (that is, enlightenment and liberation). In making this transition, it may appear as if our conventionally understood 'horizontal' freedom is diminishing, which is true. However, the point is to exchange it for a more expansive 'vertical' freedom that is relatively unconstrained by material circumstance, so that the old freedom is eventually regarded as a comparative enslavement."

Then what happens? Page 247: "Thus, in our properly oriented right-side-up universe, its unity and coherence are experienced from the top-down, in light of our source and destiny in the non-local singularity at the end of the cosmic journey." Blah blah blah, yada yada yada, I suppose you could say that the Buddhist paradoxically "cleaves through detachment" to emptiness, while the Raccoon has an unapologetic passion for wholeness and therefore eternal Being.


walt said...

"...the problem again comes down to the relationship between language and spirit..."

Over/over/over I find that what I experience as hurdles to properly understanding ideas, or sensing "clearly" what I need to do, comes down to "a language problem."

How often do we argue and debate, and only later realize we are not talking about the same things, at all? Or wrestle with some "problem" only to find that we have defined the situation poorly?

A little quote from Peter Kingsley comes to mind:
The millions of spoken or written words released aimlessly and unconsciously into the atmosphere at every moment are a massive tidal wave sweeping through the collective awareness of humanity, devastating everything in its path, wiping away any glimpse of reality, destroying the germs of true understanding before they even have a chance to take root and grow.

Your constant cross-referencing of disciplines and concepts in these posts really helps with this, I believe. We need to be more intentional with our language, and try to assign more precise meanings to our words.

That's my opinion, and I'm stickin' to it!

Great post, Bob! Even better, the second time!

julie said...

Walt, I'm reminded of a Pragerism: "I prefer clarity to agreement."

On arguing, I'm reminded of a time about a year after I was married when my husband, a natural debater, got into a verbal argument with a friend. Sitting on the sidelines, it was obvious to me that they were using the same words but attaching opposing meanings, and the argument became fairly heated (though still friendly). Once or twice I tried translating for them, but they just looked at me like I was crazy so I simply sat quietly and let them duke it out. The argument finally ended when, laughing, they both finally acknowledged that they were actually taking the same position, but their personal understanding of the terminology had seemingly put them at odds.

It's a lesson I've been relearning here lately.

Nick said...

My experience with the buddhist path left me with the exact dilema as Coon Kahn. On the one hand deep meditation granted acess to a great deal of transcendance, but I traversed a time were I had barely the volition to eat or live.
In the depth of this practice I would spend hours a day absorbed in meditation and indeed it was blissful and insightful, but the path dried up for me and I came back to my physical senses. Among other things I realized that my attempt at physical effacement, didn't really resolve my ego issues either so much as make them go dormant. This was about the time I began revaluating Christianity and discovered this blog.

Working with ones total will strikes a chord with me. I suppose its not so much of a buddhist vs. christianity issue, but more of knowing how to use your WHOLE self all the time. I'm still strugling through this and I guess the struggle is part of it. I must admit the promise of reaching a place of no more struggles partly drew me to buddhism. Yet christianity teaches us to bear our cross, which seems more apt to engage our whole will.

Ray Ingles said...

...being that a realm of lesser dimensions cannot produce one of greater dimensions...

Driven pendulum -
two dimensional. Displays
3-d behavior.

julie said...


"Yet christianity teaches us to bear our cross, which seems more apt to engage our whole will."

The real challenge, at least for me, is to try and dwell in this life at the center of that cross, where the horizontal and vertical meet. To be in the world, but not of it, dancing on the razor's edge between time and eternity. I won't pretend I'm successful at it - at best, instead of dancing I may manage to dangle by a coonish claw every now and again for a split second, but that's what seems most worth striving for.

We are not in this world as a punishment, no matter what kind of hardships we face. Life is a gift - a tremendous, Onederful gift, and it seems ungrateful at best to try and escape it by clinging only to the vertical, renouncing the world in search of an eternity (which will inevitably come, one way or another). But clinging to the horizontal flatland is equally bad. The real sweet spot is where the two meet (and even, sometimes, do battle).

slackjack said...

I've always been drawn to the celtic cross (and not only for being a gullible american w/ an Irish last name).

What seems significant for me about the celtic cross is the meeting of vertical and horizontal with the circularity of wholeness. Or another celtic way of putting it:

"riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs."

Lister said...

Bob, can one achieve wholeness if one part of the self desires spiritual ascent and wholeness while the other part has worldly ambitions for success in ones pursuits? Can they be integrated and complimentary or are they to be forever at odds? Pride vs. Humility?


Lister said...

"I noted that most regular folkers are (•••), not (•). To live as (•••) means that one's I is not single, and that one will necessarily be at cross-purposes with oneself and thereby dissipate one's power."

I was thinking of what you wrote here in regards to my question. I seem to be at cross purposes with those two things.

Nick said...

Thats funny when I was going to school in Madison I attended Prof. Sprott's lunch seminars on chaos.

Still I think the example of a 2-D pendulum displaying 3-D behavior is more of a result of our mathematical abilities as concious humans. We could probably figure out a way to map some sort of order in higher dimensions from most any non-linear low dimension system, but what does this mean? Maybe that there isn't such a thing as a concrete low dimension system?

Petey said...

Bob was of course talking about ontological dimensions, which are irrelevant to the tangential point of the Self-Pleasuring One, being that one cannot reduce semantics to syntax.

christopher said...

"by clinging only to the vertical, renouncing the world in search of an eternity (which will inevitably come, one way or another). But clinging to the horizontal flatland is equally bad. The real sweet spot is where the two meet (and even, sometimes, do battle)."

Julie, exactly. Even though I really relate to much of Buddhism, I still criticize the tendency to escape through the vertical in it. In the Mahayana tradition there is a corrective in the notion of Bodhisattva and in some Tibetan traditions, for example, people take Bodhisattva vows which are geared toward the return to the planet in all moments even though the escape is both possible and desirable.

What I know is that each spiritual walk has a shadow side to coin Jung's term. The withdrawal that is inherent in that vertical escape is Buddhism's weak spot. Hinduism naturally forms a caste system it seems and this reveals the weak spot in such a broad and inclusive philosophical system with so many "gods". Judaism is too racial and exclusive in that way. Thus the failures of Zionism. Christianity and Islam are brothers under the skin in producing amazingly literal fundamentalists sticking to a book or a pope. Taoism tends to flower into a magical alchemy.

My mother was a minister in Unity, and she received the next to highest award for lifetime service. She was a sophisticated person spiritually and yet I couldn't join her religion because it has a shadow where it attracts what people who want to be rich. I was in Unitarian fellowship but could never really join because their lack of dogma leads to too much horizontal focus. Instead of never getting off the ground, they intend to stay on the ground it seems, at least as a body of believers.

I do not intend a criticism in revealing the shadows (as they look to me) because the shadow is unavoidable in human affairs. This is a consequence of finitude which makes us all bigger and more complicated than we can know at any one moment and we need strategies to get along anyway.

And that is the fundamental crossroads. Now, I know what I know of me. What do I do with the rest of me? Now, I know what I know of me. What do I do with the rest of me? Now, I know what I know of me. What do I do with the rest of me? And so on. Another hit of acid anyone?

Nick said...

julie, the center of the cross is a beautiful metaphor and a tough place to stay balanced at. Your right remembering life as a onederful gift and joy is a good way maintain this balance.

Nick said...

christopher, wasn't it terrence mckenna who said something like the bigger the fire the more darkness is revealed?
In any case your point about there always being a shadow in a finite world seems true. Light will cast a shadow, but what if you are looking in at the light instead of out?

Susannah said...

This entry brings to mind a review I recently read of the documentary "My Kid Could Paint That."

Susannah said...

Here it is. Can't remember the linky instructions...sorry.

Gagdad Bob said...

"Judaism is too racial and exclusive in that way. Thus the failures of Zionism. "

Any "failures" of Zionism are due to Israel's primitive and bloodthirsty neighbors. Their problems have nothing whatsoever to do with "race" or "exclusivity," just as the problems of Islam have nothing whatsoever to do with the existence of Israel.

And to compare reverence for the Pope with Islamic fundamentalism is just over the top. You should try reading some of Benedict's works, which are filled with light and grace.

Joan of Argghh! said...

In the Book of Job, the man tormented in body and ego still asserts, "I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that in my flesh I shall see God."

Our flesh needs to see God, I think. I think that's the struggle I have at times with dwelling on the extra-dimensional world of the Spirit to the exclusion of practical living. As Paul says, we can't drag Heaven down or drag ourselves up. What to do? We need another dimension of physical reality to go with the Spiritual one.

I think that's why the metaphysical adventurer seeks out the disciplines of the aesthetic denial. It's a natural longing to be loosed from the horizontal tug at our flesh. It's as though our most mundane particles of being long for transcendence, and the search for a discipline to bring them as close as possible to the vertical jump is much like training a child to speak. Upon mastery of language, a child enters into the world of man.

Would I be wrong to assert that there is a Way of transcendence for our physical bodies that has been obtained for us in the Resurrection? Could that be why Christ is more than Buddha or any of the prophets; in that his Truth fulfills the longing of the flesh as well as the Spirit?

I'm babbling... sorry. Cold meds.

christopher said...

"Light will cast a shadow, but what if you are looking in at the light instead of out?" This is the metaphor of the cave described I believe by Plato.

nick, Be careful of over literalizing a metaphor, a curious trait we have at least in the west. (Possibly the shadow side of Christendom, which forces you and me even when we might choose not to be Christian consciously.) The trouble with the shadows are that they are within right along with the light. You can look away but without integrating somehow the shadow will "color" the light in ways you cannot see. Jungian psychology is a great deal about this problem of having motivational powers outside of consciousness.

Over at Froth From Walt, I wrote of an anointing that assists in the search for a teacher, a circulation much like GBob's up and down arrows. To me this is the real solution to the existence of the shadow and all other "semi-autonomous complexes"(another Jungian metaphor which describes unintended behaviors). I must invite God in, mean it, and God means it too. Then if I can trust it, I see with God's help.

Spiritual practice is precisely about that process, and more.

Susannah said...

Speaking about method: I'm partial to the method described in Psalm 131:2 and Luke 10:38ff.

But that's not easy for a mother to achieve in the hustle & bustle of life. I'm an intro-, not an extra-, so I find myself continually seeking to escape chaos and turning to the wrong things in order to do so. "Abide in me" looks different than monasticism or an actual lengthy spiritual retreat, for a mother.

The thing is, God made us for relationship--with him and others (cf. the two greatest commandments). I doubt we'll ever find true spiritual growth trying to escape all the "button pushing" that goes on in life (ref. FL). :) "Iron sharpeneth iron," and all that. OTOH, we all need quiet and retreat (some of us more than others, thanks to the beauty of God's endless variation in creation we're not all the same). So time spent basking and developing spiritual disciplines is a worthwhile investment.

Right now, I'm just trying to solve the mystery of why a baby would prefer dry cat food over pureed peaches. Wassup with that?

Susannah said...

Okay, I should have waited a while so I could just say "What Joan said."

christopher said...

GBob, you miss my point. There are small spirited and driven adherents in any religion. The ways in which they fall away are part and parcel with the power inherent in the religion. This is not rocket science. Look at outcomes. I do not lower the positive values of a religion to also speak of the negative potentials that also exist. Why do you take it like I am smearing the religion?

The Protestant Reformation started by Luther was precisely about taking abuse of power away from the pope. It was a bloody time. Popes were clearly involved. I am not comparing Catholicism to Islamic fundamentalism. I am pointing to the shadow side of any human institution and showing it is possible to identify and talk about it generally. Why do you defend against that?

As for Zionism, it is a tendency in the Jewish spirit, all the way back to the initial invasion of the Promised Land. Whether it is bad or not definitely depends on circumstances and who is looking (perhaps the original settlers were somewhat upset, no?), but it is without question how a certain literalist class of Jewish people will make a more horizontal frame out of the vertical thrust of Judaism.

The Middle East disaster is a war between racial brothers as is clearly written in the Bible that they are, having the same ancestral father but different ancestral mothers. Jewish lineage is matrilineal as well as patrilineal. But it is a situation that wouldn't have happened without Europe's (and USA's) attempted solution to the European Jewish question post WWII.
It was European intervention that supported a large Jewish migration, which the Jews then transformed by warfare into a nation-state.

By the way, this pisses me off a little since I would convert to Judaism if I was forced to be Judaeo-Christian, and if I was forced to be Christian, I would be Catholic. I have said so for years now.

Gagdad Bob said...

The "Middle East disaster" is not a "war between racial brothers" but between civilization and barbarity. Your view is analogous to saying that China's genocide of Tibet is "just a dispute between brothers."

And your history is way off. The Balfour Declaration was in 1917, way before World War II. After that, Jews colonized the worthless land by purchasing it at inflated prices, mostly from absentee Turkish landlords.

I will attribute your suggestion that the Israelis "transformed by warfare into a nation-state" to ignorance, not malevolence.

christopher said...

"Would I be wrong to assert that there is a Way of transcendence for our physical bodies that has been obtained for us in the Resurrection? Could that be why Christ is more than Buddha or any of the prophets; in that his Truth fulfills the longing of the flesh as well as the Spirit?"

Joan, You are not wrong asserting this. What is true extends beyond this, however, when you may note that genuine seekers do not all define the eschatology the same way.

Some people see a different kind of cosmos than one that has in it a transformed eternal body. They would prefer to shed the body entirely and the soul in any autonomous sense and merge with God completely. So the question arises, is this not also a genuine human hope? Since over half the world adheres to this kind of vision, I sort of think so.

christopher said...

Ignorance is a universal state that none of us escapes. Learning is lifelong and we all run the risk of closed minds and hearts at any given moment. What I choose here and elsewhere is the benefit of the doubt when I sense hostility without any real chance of threats turning meaningful. We are all ignorant when viewed from the right angles.

River Cocytus said...


[man, you guys gotta stop with the controversy so I can get a rest]

The only real tragedy (in my view) of the whole thing is the millions of Orthodox believers and --others-- who are caught on either side of the continuous battle.

Some will argue that if the Jews just gave up (and died no doubt) the trouble would be ended - or at least returned to the pre-Israel state (read: for some, slavery, for others [Lebanon] usual semi-poverty and political corruption/jostling.)

I am Pro-Israel only in that I would rather the Jews win and integrate the Palestinians than the other way around. It would mean better treatment of the Christians who live there. I am not a Zionist (I don't hold to some literal eschatalogical significance to the state 'Israel'.)

Among Orthodox Old-World believers there are a lot of weird superstitions that are not so much a result of being Orthodox (it's somewhat of an antidote) as of living in the old world cultures. It's not their fault - these things (such as the idea that Jews are the controllers of Turkey, or Freemasons - good lord) are spoken of and thought commonly and not questioned by anyone of authority in these places. America is good in that we wiped the damn slate clean culturally. It means that we'll be permanently considered 'knaves' and obviously struggle with getting on board with good traditions, but we are freed in many ways from these kind of ancestral sins.

River Cocytus said...

finally, we are a psychosomatic whole, meaning that if we shed our body we are incomplete. The notion of how the condition of our body effects our spiritual and mental development should be a clue.

If we are a psychosomatic whole, those wishing to escape the body would be deluding themselves. In truth we either are or aren't: In one perspective Christ and Buddha would appear to be both teachers of a tradition of spiritual insight, but taken another way...

Christianity, fully thought through is nonsense if there is no necessity for the resurrection. The necessity of the resurrection also extends to all creation. This implies that the body matters and is not simply to be shed as a husk. That the body is us, though we are not simply our body.



Van said...

Christopher said "...Be careful of over literalizing a metaphor, a curious trait we have at least in the west. (Possibly the shadow side of Christendom, whi..."

Speaking of which...

wizard said...

Ain't nobody ever merging with God.

Not gonna happen. Noway. Nohow.

I also happen to think Martin Luther was partially insane. And I'm Lutheran.

Thoses were heady days...learning about Luther in Luther class.

Where I learned that the Diet of Worms wasn't quite what it sounded like...

christopher said...

River, I personally hold to a permanence of some kind to the sense of self. I can't get along without that. In one of my personal myths I am here on the planet by agreement between God and me, based on an argument we have been having over the issue of suffering, here to witness and report. That is a story that makes sense of certain critical feelings I hold. This myth would have no sense if it did not also make sense to me that "I" continue in some real sense, and thus "resurrect". However, I have no clue what I just said...

Magnus Itland said...

Eternal life, eh?
When I was a boy, I was certain that a thousand years was the most anyone could endure to live without the boredom getting worse than death. But at the time, boredom was a natural part of my life. After my "awakening" as a teen, true boredom is no longer part of ordinary life. Perhaps it has been replaced by slack? In any case, I know with absolute certainty that I would not mind living a million years. In fact, if God offered me to live 2007 over again a million times right away, I would jump at it like a lovestruck poodle at a humpable leg. No touring the galaxy or even the world. No seeing amazing changes in technology or culture, much less nature. I would not even ask to tour this one planet. Living in my house, going to work and going home, would be just fine. Because each ordinary day is a gift. Being alive is awesome. Walking around, looking around, fills me with joy. Being aware and being aware of it is a palpable pleasure. And to imagine all that I could learn and grow simply by living my ordinary life ... woo! It goes way beyond the allure of any material riches or any pleasures of the flesh that I have experienced so far. (There are some I haven't, admittedly, and I probably wouldn't in a million years either.)

So yeah, eternal life, sign me up. But... over the last few years, it has become gradually more clear to me that the "next life" is probably not the last stop. I am fine with that too. I mean, I don't need to know the end of it all. I only know that I have a life worth living, and that would be worth living indefinitely. That doesn't mean it can't be improved.

Erasmus said...

I can agree that I'm never going to not be me....

but I'm certinly not going to be wizard much any more, now that Ray is no longer sorceror...

Given the subject of Luther, I think I'll be erasmus for now, considering how much I love free will...without it, where would I be?

Nothing wrong with a Lutheran calling himself Erasmus, now is there?

Wasn't it C.S. Lewis who said something to the effect that perhaps we are all immortal and time is the board upon which we play?

christopher said...

My mother who was a minister claimed that reincarnation was perhaps the best guess to solve the problem of an infinitely just universe that also works out with infinite love present.

christopher said...

Maybe I get Do-overs!!

erasmus said...

Bob, I though that Zionism was a secular socialist project.

I'll agree that many of Israel's problems stem from the countries surrounding it wanting to "end the crusader state" through whatever means necessary.

Now that I have used a second screename, I've offically moved from (•) to (••). I'll get to (•••) eventually, unless my personality splits. I can't guarantee what will happen then.

Probably someting bad, but who knows.

Joan of Argghh! said...

They would prefer to shed the body entirely and the soul in any autonomous sense and merge with God completely. So the question arises, is this not also a genuine human hope?

Is it fair to note that such an idea seems to be the hope of the oppressed half of the world? I'm wondering, because the idea of becoming "nothing" has a brassy clank to it.

When physical life is hard, and individual effort is not rewarded, then a sense of escape from all one has known may be understandable, even preferable--but not necessarily an indication of higher truth.

I think the Trinity, (agh! a whole new controversy!) speaks to individual, personable attributes. I think the universe is large enough to contain every personality created.

In fact, at first blush, such a desire to non-exist would appear to be fatalistic, a desire born of pain, not of revelation.

There is a merging, of a complementary nature, much like a marriage. It is accompanied by a willful losing of oneself and, in a sense, and finding even more of oneself. I'm with Magnus, I don't think it would ever be boring, the Eternal descent of the Self, to be joined anew with each new day.

Erasmus said...

Just like you can't merge with God, you can't unexist, either.

You can try and try, but it just won't work.

If you try hard enough, you will probably be able to decompensate, but that's not unexisting.

erasmus said...

Anyone ever try "Directed Multilevel Disintrgation"? That sounds like more fun that decompensation or even meditation...

"[edit] Level IV: Directed Multilevel Disintegration
In Level IV the person takes full control of his or her development. The involuntary spontaneous development of Level III is replaced by a deliberate, conscious and self-directed review of life from the multilevel perspective. This level marks the real emergence of the third factor, described by Dabrowski as an autonomous factor "of conscious choice (valuation) by which one affirms or rejects certain qualities in oneself and in one's environment" (Dabrowski 1972, p. 306). The person consciously reviews his or her existing belief system and tries to replace lower, automatic views and reactions with carefully thought out, examined and chosen ideals. These new values will increasingly be reflected in the person's behavior. Behavior becomes less reactive, less automatic and more deliberate as behavioral choices fall under the influence of the person's higher, chosen ideals."

screwtape said...

keep up the good work, bob!

your uncle

christopher said...


I too want personality to survive all the transitions. I am not sure I know enough given my own life experiences and choices to claim a higher or lower to any of these views.

When Buddhists say "all life is suffering" they come close to your claim that only the oppressed would want that kind of afterlife, yet Gotama was supposed to be a sheltered prince before he began his journey to Buddha.

It is incorrect to say there are no rich well placed Buddhists, or Hindus. Taoism also invites cessation of self within a kind of immortality.

To be absolutely precise, the merge with God and cessation of self does not seem to imply as best I can read that one ceases to exist in some real sense. In fact the claim that God is not required that Buddhism maintains is interesting because merging may no longer be the right word then, but continuance beyond death is definitely part of Buddhism, hopefully to become a Buddha oneself somewhere down the line.
It is Hinduism that holds the Brahman / Atman identity.

erasmus said...

Maybe I have beginning and no end, unlike God who has no beginning and no end. At most, I'm a limited infinity.

And I'm keeping my personality. It's a feature of myself that I simply cannot, as a matter of choice, part with.

This is a John Horgan article I read some time ago...

Ray, meet Buddhism...Buddhism, meet Ray.

"All religions, including Buddhism, stem from our narcissistic wish to believe that the universe was created for our benefit, as a stage for our spiritual quests. In contrast, science tells us that we are incidental, accidental. Far from being the raison d'être of the universe, we appeared through sheer happenstance, and we could vanish in the same way. This is not a comforting viewpoint, but science, unlike religion, seeks truth regardless of how it makes us feel. Buddhism raises radical questions about our inner and outer reality, but it is finally not radical enough to accommodate science's disturbing perspective. The remaining question is whether any form of spirituality can."

NoMo said...

Eternal life is spiritual life.
God is Spirit. Spiritual life is only born of God. Everyone is spiritually stillborn into this world - and must be "born again of the Spirit" to ever be spiritually alive (have eternal life). Since we can only imagine what eternal life is like in the "next world", what really matters is having, knowing, growing, appreciating, and enjoying spiritual / eternal life in this world - as evidenced by "fruits of the Spirit" that please and glorify God. That's what I call "Wholeness, Power, Being, Truth, and Freedom"!

Magnus Itland said...

Indeed, Jesus seems to define eternal life as knowing God, rather than living for an indefinitely long time. (Not that the one absolutely needs to exclude the other.) What I'm saying is simply that it is possible to have a life that is well worth living forever, and that this is available rather easily - as a gift of grace - without even being within viewing distance of personal moral perfection.

Gagdad Bob said...

I agree with Magnus. Our "eternal life" arises from that fact that we are, vertically speaking, a divine spark thrown out into the horizontal current of forms, and which refers back to the Source upon our death. However, our connection to the "primeval point of origin" is always there for us to enjoy, even in this life. I totally relate to what Magnus said about the supernatural nature of everyday life.

Ray Ingles said...

Nick - a lower-dimensional system can display properties most naturally understood in higher-dimensional terms, without involving a physical higher dimension. What this means in application to what Bob's talking is for y'all to decide.

Van said...

Ya know, ray begins to remind me of a vertically mute Harpo Marx. For those of you who don't remember, in the Marx Bros. comedy routines, he'd usually take some comment ridiculously literally, and punch line the gag with a prop, as with

"In Horse Feathers (1932), Groucho tells him that Harpo cannot "burn the candle at both ends". He immediately produces, from within his coat, a lit candle burning at both ends."

ray does the same with any Vertical concept, he immediately produces an absolutely marks-missing and irrelevant links and comments.

Of course, when Harpo did it, it was funny, with ray, sadly, the jokes on him.

ximeze said...

Anybody else think screwtape 2:31 is anon 10:58 from yesterday, still puckered-up & pissy about the BOBblog?

Same flavor.

Jim said...

I'll give you an Amen on that Van.

erasmus said...


Are you trying to committ the logical fallacy of arguing from ignorance?

QP said...

So it's Raccoon dancing time around discovered truths, hey?

By special request, we're spinning this oldie but a goodie:

This drunkenness began in some other tavern.

When I get back around to that place,

I'll be completely sober.

I'm like a bird from another continent,
sitting in this aviary.

The day is coming when I fly off,

but who is it now in my ear who hears my voice?

Who says words with my mouth?

Who looks out with my eyes?
What is the soul? 

I cannot stop asking.

If I could taste one sip of an answer,

I could break out of this prison for drunks.

I didn't come here of my own accord, and
I can't leave that way.

Whoever brought me here, will have to take me home.

~ Rumi

coonified said...

I'm jealous of people with ordinary lives, and by that I'm mean those who have a relatively good balance between heaven and hell, life and death, vertical and horizontal. "All life is suffering" seems an overtone to my life, though; and because this--and by extension all other people who are constitutionally bound to suffer horribly--to imagine that life as we know it could, or should go on, seems to me almost vulgar. I am as Keats said, "half in love with easeful death," and I work everyday to overcome my fear of shattering, and floating away.

See, if it wasn't for those blasted "miracles" of medical science, I would most likely be dead now, or due soon. But, I'm basically cured of all those things that would have saved me from a life of conscious duration of pain, and now just have to suffer from what amounts to a kind of failed mutation--a deformity probably due to over-impingement of the vertical on the horizontal, or in another way, a heavenly branch that emerged from the central vine that got snuffed out and light deprived. To "cease upon the midnight with no pain," to just let go of it all and forget for a while, doesn't really sound as bad as it used to. I mean, I'm always forgetting things in life. I can't remember some details from yesterday, much less a year ago. Most of what's lost, or not "saved," doesn't really matter that much anyway. It's just when we identify with our own personality that things start to get scary. But even this formation of our mind is an instantiation of an intelligence above and beyond it, so what makes me think for a minute that my personality is my own? My own death, then, is perhaps not even my own. Maybe this is what it means for the divine to live our lives for us. He's always substituting himself for us, at least when we allow it.

It's because of disease and extreme imbalance that I'm repelled by visions of an horizontally enduring life. Aurobindo, one of my central mentors, has that vision--matter and spirit eventually through a long and arduous evolutionary synthesis, once and for all come into an everlasting consonance, both dance within each other as each other forever in delight. Maybe. The main point that I would make here is not that it isn't pretty--it's nice--but the fact that if we are to get there, we will have to learn to die consciously; and if it is possible to forge our own destinies in new births, what makes us think that we would want to live forever embodied to begin with? Doesn't this impulse to live forever stem from the empirical ego anyway? Is this not just the vertical projected into the horizontal, a spiritual-material utopianism? We will most likely live ever longer lives as the eschaton draws us upwards, but this in itself just incarnates more problems...what if people suffered for thousands of years? Oh my God. Please make it stop. Stop can be good. I think evolving existence can be compared to building a tower in that we can only build as high as our foundations allow. Any further and it topples to the ground...of being. What's saved? The experience of building it?: " Need a wider base next time, and maybe some denser beams" (duh creatrix); but it's forever a tower; and existence is forever existence.

If God is the All-possible, will his own negation forever be? Or is this just his temporary nightmare?


"Can death be sleep, when life is but a dream,
And scenes of bliss pass as a phantom by?
The transient pleasures as a vision seem,
And yet we think the greatest pain's to die.


How strange it is that man on earth should roam,
And lead a life of woe, but not forsake
His rugged path; nor dare he view alone
His future doom which is but to awake."

This quote from schuon applies to me also, I think:

"Miseries, whose deep-seated cause is always the violation of a celestial norm as well as indifference towards Heaven and our final ends, are there to restrain the greedy illusions of men, rather in the same way as the carnivores are there to prevent the herbivores from degenerating or multiplying to excess, all this by virture of universal equilibrium and the homogeneity of the world; to be aware of this is part of the fear of God."

If I would have had a healthy incarnation, I believe I would have been a distroyer of worlds, for the expression of a true God-man seems in part due to a sincere aspiring collectivity whose prayers were loud enough to be heard. Genius amongst a decaying collective, on the other hand, seems to effect the opposite. But that's not really genius is it. That's illness.

Ray Ingles said...

Van - As Bob says, people who don't want to make connections won't. Coons are, of course, immune to this behavior. :->

rabid said...

No one said there wan't connection, an upward and downward causation. As above so below doesn't mean derivation, though. We've said before that there is bi-direction at work.

The lower is not necessity, and therefore is not the ground of derivation.

As aurobido once commented, the foundation of a flower is in the archetype of it's bloom, and not the dirt from which throws it's roots. The ground is in the intelligence above and beyond, not the herebelow.

You need to try really hard to stop being who you are. Die a little.

erasmus said...


I loved that show Connections. Watched it all the time in college.

Connections II, not so much.

hoarhey said...


Are you speaking of 'Love Connection' with Ken Willoby? ;*)

Anonymous said...

Ximeze wrote:

"Anybody else think screwtape 2:31 is anon 10:58 from yesterday, still puckered-up & pissy about the BOBblog?

Same flavor."

No. Screwtape was someone else. I am the Tolle Troll. AKA puckerbutt.

Thank you for taking an interest in me and my writing, ximeze. You are now my personal enemy, and I will take a special interest in your writing from now on. It is good to have an enemy; many don't have a single one.

I will now take pains to criticize you, along with Bob.

Your best bet is to try to hurt my feelings; I am sensitive that way.

In fact, I was butt- hurt by your comments of today, about how you think I am running my ego and coming across as oh so spiritual and above it all. That was a direct hit. I am now running the equivalent of a computer malware scan to see if there is something to that accusation, and I have found some contaminated files already.

The point is, before calling out spiritual contamination in others, I should properly make sure I am not the pot calling the kettle black. And I am a pot, all right.

Unfortunately, as a troll, you pretty much have to find something to pick on, or otherwise you dont' have "game". I hate it when I have no stones to throw.

As for today, I reach for the cobble, and there is none. Blah.

Peace out.

ximeze said...

Puckerbutt said,

"In fact, I was butt- hurt by your comments of today,..."

Are you sure it was me who butt hurt you and not your boyfriend?

BTW, How are the ole' hemorrhoids holding up?

Seven Star Hand said...

Hello Bob and all,

If you really want answers, then start at my links below. I think I'll be able to surprise and enlighten you. You seem more than ready to accept the keys to wisdom.

I know I have tomes of material out there now (blogs, EBooks, Web Sites), but patience and humility will gain you access to the verifiable wisdom of the ages. I'll put out a summary of sorts in the near future, but those who want all the details will still need to wade the cleansing waters and pass through the fire to grasp wisdom...

Treat as a personal "grail quest" and/or sojourn to the top of "Mount Zion" (or other symbolized peak of wisdom).

Here is Wisdom !!

and more here too...