The Lovely Yoke at the Center of the Cosmic Egg (10.10.11)
Yes, a couple of points. UF makes the critically important point that, with regard to the spiritual world under investigation, everything hinges on the depth of experience. This is not analogous to scientific knowledge, which has no "depth" per se, and may be passed from mind to mind like any other object. The dominance of this latter modality is precisely what leads naive minds to conclude that the world is fundamentally "like an object," which of course is nonsense. If that were true, it could never be known.
We'll leave to one side for the moment Polanyi's argument that the scientific enterprise is actually much closer to spiritual epistemology -- and vice versa -- than scientists realize. The point is, the arcana of which UF writes are like preconceptions, or "empty categories," which must be filled in by experience in order to become genuine knowledge. As he writes, "all superficial, incomplete or false experience is bound to give rise to superficial, incomplete and false conclusions." Therefore, the "effectiveness and value depend on the fullness and exactitude of the experience upon which it is based."
For you callous sophisticates out there who imagine there is something stupid about religion, always consider the source, as there will always be an abundance of stupid people, especially as more of them are spiritually maimed by the privilege of a higher education. This is axiomatic. It is not like your scientific religion, which any idiot can understand. Are there dangers in this approach? Well, duh. Life is dangerous. Qualifications count in any knowledge that is embodied and not just theoretical. I am not impressed if my brain surgeon has merely been to medical school. I want to know if he has assimilated the knowledge and successfully put it into action. I don't want him merely to "know stuff." I want him to physically be the knowledge, to incarnate it in action.
Here again, there is something paradoxically analogous to being childlike, something I especially notice now with my 3.5 year old, who loves his work, which is to play. You can see that he's always hard at work, except that it is in the mode of play. As UF writes, "The little child does not 'work' -- he plays. But how serious he is, i.e., concentrated, when he plays! His attention is still, complete and undivided, whereas with one who approaches the kingdom of God it becomes again entire and undivided.... The Master did not want us to become puerile; what he wanted is that we attain the geniality of intelligence and heart which is analogous -- not identical -- to the attitude of the child...."
It is in this mode of relaxed work-play that we may regain the unity of consciousness, or the union of conscious and unconscious minds; or, if you like, left and right brain, or heart and mind. The Magician embodies the higher synthesis "of the conscious and unconscious -- of creative spontaneity and deliberately executed activity." Here again, these verticalisthenics require serious play, which is why it would be a serious error, or a very unfunny joke, to dismiss Bob as a genial metaphysical entertainer merely because he clothes his bobservations in jehovial witticisms, pithylogical gnosissism, laughty revelations, and the like.
Bob looks at it this way: "Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." Children -- well, my child, anyway -- are always laughing. Humor and human are of the same essence. Therefore, the journey to hyperborea calls for some seriously deep yucks. In turn, one can see how the empyrean is unreachable for a comedian such as Bill Maher, who is only capable of humor so low, cheap, and broad, that even Larry King gets it.
Now, on to the High Priestess. Here again we have a somewhat chaorderly chapter that I will do my best to summarize.
There is a reason the Priestess follows the Magician, and this has to do with the distinction between the pure light of knowledge -- which is analogous to the sun -- and its reflection in the book -- which is analogous to the moon (the moon is always female). (Note the book on her lap.)
UF then veers into an important aside; here again, his constant asides can be disorienting, but speaking as Bob's Unconscious, I am completely sympathetic. The Unconscious is not "linear"; but this is hardly to say that it is not logical. Rather, it simply follows its own logic. You might call it "night logic," or the logic of the Dream. This logic is rich, holographic, fractal, non-linear, and pregnant with implications. Rather than A leading to B leading to C, it's more like....
Well, frankly, unconscious logic is also intrinsically imagistic, and the image that comes to mind is a lung, an upside down tree, or a burning bush that is never consumed by the Fire. Think of how oxygen enters through a single passage, but then fractally branches off into innumerable byways, until it literally touches the blood. That is how religious in-spiration works as well. It is how one touches the divine -- or rather, vice versa.
Anyway, UF goes into the difference between Christian yoga and yoga-yoga, in that the former aspires to a unity of two rather then the dissolution of twoness into an acosmic and impersonal Oneness. (And don't be put off by the word "yoga," as it simply means the same thing as "religion"; both have to do with "yoking" or "binding" (from the Latin religare, "to bind"). Thus, "my yoga is easy."
Christian yoga is founded on the principle that there is something higher than oneness, and that is the yoke of love. And clearly, love is not possible -- or, it is merely an illusion -- if all is actually one. But Christianity teaches that love is not an illusion, but the essence of God. Thus, the recognition of a trinitarian God, which you might say is "one in love" as opposed to one in.... what? I don't know. That was for all those Councils to figure out 1000 or 1500 years ago, and I don't want to rehash it here.
The point is, this does not mean to imply that this is a dualistic cosmos; but it also isn't a monistic one. Duality, as UF suggests, is always pernicious, as it posits two rival "ultimates" which battle it out until the end of time -- which never ends. But it is absurd to think that there could be two ultimates.
You could claim that one of the ultimates is merely an illusion, which is what materialists do. That is, there is a mind-matter duality that is ultimately reducible to matter. This, of course, is a non-starter, as it represents the worst kind of metaphysical nonsense.
UF asks, "Does there not exist a legitimate twofoldness?... a twofoldness which does not signify the diminution of unity, but rather its qualitative enrichment?
Hmmm, let's see.... I'm thinking of marriage, which strikes me as a legitimate twofoldness that enriches unity. Is there such a thing as a metaphysical marriage? Isn't this why nuns wear wedding rings? More to the point, isn't this what Petey was referring to when he wrote, A little metaphysical diddling between a cabbala opposites, and Mamamaya! baby makes Trinity, so all the world's an allusion?
As Three Dog Night taught us, "one is the loneliest number." And as Petey taught us, It was not good that this Godhead, the Most High, should be allone, so He expired with a big bong and said "let there be higher physics," and it was zo. Now God had a lila Word to play with and keep him company! The point is, eternity would be intolerably dull and monotheotonous without sometwo to love in threeness: Lover, Loved, and the Love that passes between them. Truly, duality's a crowd, but trinity's company.
And God's love would not be particularly admirable if he were merely loving himself by proxy. No, God's love is completely unnarcissary. As UF writes, "If God were only One and if he had not created the World, he would not be the God revealed by the Master, the God of whom St. John says: God is love; and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him."
I suppose I would venture to branch this out a bit, and say that God is also Truth, or Knower, Known, and the Knowledge in between; or Beauty, in the same essential formulation.
The point is, as UF says, mere Being deprived of love "would be the most appalling torment -- the Inferno itself!" Love -- and Truth and Beauty -- is what imbues being with worth, with value and meaning. What is the Resurrection if not the triumph of love over broken being? Being itself is morally indifferent, perhaps even vaguely sinister, in the absence of the divine light of love.
But if we posit love as a a fundamental principle, then we may understand existence to be a "moral process."
Well, we've only touched the surface of the High Priestess card. To be continued tomorrow....