Tuesday, November 11, 2008

At the Innersection of Broadway and Sunset (11.23.11)

The next thing I'd like to discuss about the Death card is UF's account of what I refer to as (↑) and (↓) in my book. Both arrows are necessary for spiritual development, and various forms of heresy emphasize one to the exclusion of the other. But that's like emphasizing inspiration over expiration. It just won't work. In fact, you'll die.

Emphasis on (↑) alone leads to the construction of a "Tower of Babel." Emphasis on (↓) alone leads to the fatalism of Islamic world, or the belief in grace alone in the absence of works.

There are many contemporary spiritual approaches that emphasize the (↑), probably because they are too sophisticated to believe in God, and therefore grace, and therefore (↓). But they believe in "evolution," so they just apply it to the vertical, as if they may "will" their own transformation. I think I can sum up the entire "integral" movement with a single photo:

Is that unfair? You tell me. Nothing personal. I'm just trying to make some lighthearted fun in a petty and mean-spirited way. All I can say is that if I saw that huckster on my property, I'd call the cops, not sit down to tea... or Red Bull and tofu chips. He strikes me as the quintessence of (↑) to the exclusion of (↓) -- you know, Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny! Unlimited Power: The New Science Of Personal Achievement. Live with Passion!: Stategies for Creating a Compelling Future.

Appalling. What a hideous pneumapath. But I suppose the oily snakesmen will always be with us, trying to put the bite on a new generation of rubes. Frankly, I find more wisdom in a single sentence of Bob (the real Bob, not the cheap imitation who blogs here).

Is that unfair? You tell me. I'm not trying to be a flame throwing blog-hard, just disinterestedly describing what I see with my own three eyes.

Even if "successful," the purely (↑) approach represents a catastrophic failure, for it is a kind of terrestrial victory at the cost of celestial death.

As UF describes it, this amounts to "the decision to remain remote from the Father. And it is precisely this which is death in a divine sense. Complete crystallization is therefore complete death from the divine point of view..." It is the fulfillment of the promise of the serpent, which is that "You will live remote from God and it will be I who shall attend to the uninterrupted continuation of your life in the horizontal, for I shall make up for the lack of divine wisdom and love by replacing them with the intellect and with psycho-physical electricity, which will be the source of your life."

Yes, says the serpent, I shall AWAKEN THE GIANT WITHIN! and give you UNLIMITED POWER!

UF makes a subtle point that the way of Christianity promises not just Life over Death, but Life over life -- horizontal life. The way of Tony Robbins promises horizontal life over life, which amounts to Death on stilts. The lessons of Genesis are not abstract or remote, but extremely practical and experience-near. In order to make the lesson more vivid, when you read of the serpent, perhaps you should imagine a snake with Tony Robbins' head. The horror....

The whole point of Christianity is the victory of the vertical over the horizontal, not a pseudo-victory of horizontal over horizontal. It is the victory "of radiation over crystallization." Which reminds me of the narrator's last line of Sunset Boulevard, which I watched again last night: Life, which can be strangely merciful, had taken pity on Norma Desmond. The dream she had clung to so desperately had enfolded her... (Crystallization is synonymous with enfoldment.)

That is such a brilliant film. Now that I think about it, it is all about crystallization, or about death in life. For that is what Norma is: a living death, which is again a monster. She no longer radiates as a "star," but is completely self-enfolded in her living death.

The film is even narrated by a dead man, who shares his sardonic insights: "There's nothing tragic about being fifty. Not unless you're trying to be twenty-five." "You don't yell at a sleepwalker -- he may fall and break his neck. That's it: she was still sleepwalking along the giddy heights of a lost career." "How could she breathe in that house full of Norma Desmonds? Around every corner, Norma Desmonds... more Norma Desmonds... and still more Norma Desmonds." Trying to stop the aging process doesn't really make you younger. Rather, it turns you into a corpse. It is not life, but death-resistance.

The dead chimp at the beginning is highly symbolic, for that is what a human being is in the absence of the Divine. Norma says, "I'd like the coffin to be white, and I want it specially lined with satin. White... or pink. Maybe red! Bright flaming red! Let's make it gay!"

Even the name: Sunset Boulevard. Not only does it convey the dying of the light, but in case you don't live here, Sunset Boulevard is a street that starts in bowels of Los Angeles, makes its way through Beverly Hills, and empties to the sea.

Getting sidetracked. Let us follow UF's advice: "let us no longer seek amongst the dead for he who is living, and above all let us not seek for immortal Life in the domain of death."

The spiritual ascent is everywhere the same, and always consists of purification, illumination, and union; or rejection, aspiration, and surrender. "This is the eternal way, and no one can invent or find another," not even Tony Robbins and Ken Wilber combined.

Yes, as UF says, you can divide and subdivide it "into thirty-three stages -- or even into ninety-nine," but it always comes back to that same dynamic and interlocking trinity that takes place on a moment-by-moment basis, for purification is illumination -- or consciousness of a Divine reality -- and union with the Divine Will. Likewise, illumination is purification of the intellect and union with the Divine Mind. And union is a purified heart, which is now the center of one's thought and being.

Or, to turn it around, "a non-illuminated gnostic would not be a gnostic, but rather an 'oddball'; a non-illuminated mage would be only a sorceror; and a non-illuminated philosopher would be either a complete skeptic or an amateur at 'intellectual play.'"


River Cocytus said...

Perhaps we should find a home at the end of a road and nail in a sign: "Narrow." It's not a street, its not a drive, it's a way.

julie said...

"Hideous pneumapath" sounds about right, especially since "Biggest Douche in the Universe" is already taken. The same basic principle applies to both, though - they both make false claims about Life in order to take money from people desperate to find answers. They build their towers out of the stolen faith of others, with little or no regard for the spiritual consequences.

How many people, I wonder, have either lost their faith completely or have wasted years seeking the living amongst the dead, because they listened to these counterfeiters?

"...rejection, aspiration, and surrender."

(I'm going to channel Lisa for a moment, since she hasn't been by in ages; I hope she's doing well!)

Yesterday, after my workout, it occurred to me that opening the heart to O is strongly analogous with the exercises we do in class. To get the most benefit, we start with a simple posture, shift to our challenge point (the place where it seems as though we can't take it any farther), then we move one more inch. And again. And again. And try to remember to breathe. Usually, the motions are tiny, but the effort required is tremendous (at least, if you're doing it right). Then, when the reps are done, we stretch, releasing all the tension that's just been built up.

rejection: assuming the position, building the tension
aspiration: breathing through it
surrender: stretch and release

Worth every effort.

walt said...

What could top Robbins/Wilbur?


Gagdad Bob said...

"A breakthrough in the psychology of personal and professional success! Anthony Robbins offers a wealth of powerful ideas and strategies that you can use immediately to increase your income, influence others more effectively, improve your health, eliminate your fears, and experience more joy and fulfillment every day of your life!"

Now, among other things, that's just bad writing. In the hands of a Chopra or Robbins, the exclamation point is a barbarism that conceals the emptiness of both their prose and their promises -- as if yelling can make up for the vacuity at the core of these men.

"Do not attempt to emphasize simple statements by using a mark of exclamation. The exclamation mark is to be reserved for use after true exclamations or commands:

"What a wonderful show!"

"Halt!" (Strunk & White)

julie said...

Reading that blurb, I picture the guy in the crazy question mark shoot, shouting manically from the TV screen.

The reviews are dull and lackluster in comparison:

"Learn from Tony about The Power of the Human Paradox and how to deal with life paradoxes.

He interviews Deepak Chopra intensively in this edition of Powertalk.

You'll learn strategies on how to deal with confusion and paradox."

"On this one, Tony will focus on Certainty, a state that can be either/or."

Yes, it really sounds like something.

julie said...

That should be suit, not "shoot." I don't even know how I managed to make that mistake; I don't think I can blame it on my frozen fingers.

cousin dupree said...

Also, with his Ultimate Relationship Program, Robbins will sell you the keys to LIFELONG PASSION: just leave your wife and hook up with one of your young students! (not necessarily in that order)

julie said...

So, he's certain to maintain his PASSION by regularly swapping out his bimbo, er, woman for a younger model. Suddenly, I have a vision of Question Mark man in a Viagra commercial, with Tony Robbins' head and one of the Girls Gone Wild clinging to his arm.

Yep, I'm pretty sure that's one of the circles of hell.

Petey said...

The New Science of Hutzpah!

julie said...

Power! PASSION! Wealth!

Want to bet they fell for these types of ads when they were growing up?

NoMo said...

Re: Robbins, Chopra, etc. I boil it all down to what I call the dark science / art of manipulation. Just like anything with a source of power - in this case, dark power - it can both be taught and can definitely yield results.

The father of lies has a multitude of children.

will said...

>>That is such a brilliant film. (Sunset Boul) Now that I think about it, it is all about crystallization, or about death in life<<

For crystallization and death-in-life, how about Hitchcock's Vertigo? Decent enough guy becomes obsessed with image and eros, tries to artificially recreate image through manipulation of another - in effect, obsessively tries to bring the dead back to life.

julie said...

And in the process, taking her from "mostly dead" to "all dead."


Anonymous said...

As encounters with MLM will teach a person about economics, so too a rough encounter with TR or his ilk will also teach by negative example. Knowing which way not to go is valuable, even if the knowledge is acquired the hard way.

As for keeping passion alive: here's a question for married men--is it fair game to develop a relationship with a professional courtesan? By this I mean a responsible, stable woman who knows what she's doing and adheres to the general guidelines of the Kama Sutra.

Some wives jade of constantly servicing the crude energies of a lusty husband. Over time, some may wish for a "helper" in this area but don't know how to articulate it.

Enter the courtesan; a professional lover. She keeps the man from wandering into an improper triangle which threatens the marriage, and channels the man's excess sexual energy (and some of his money) into her own hot pocket.

Either the wife approves, or looks the other way and pretends not to know.

Everyone comes out O.K in the end?

Weigh in--yes, no, maybe? Not for everyone? Not for anyone?

Warren said...

Shows how out of it I am - I never even heard of Tony Robbins until I looked him up. Yech.

I recognized Wilber, though (hey, whatever happened to that talking horse of yours? He was cool....). I shouldn't say mean things about Ken, because he was one of those nets I had to fly past, and so I wouldn't have got to where I am without him.... But I finally figured out, sadly, that he was one of those dime-a-dozen types in the modern West: a nihilist who doesn't even realize that he is a nihilist (sort of like our very own SJ). Not to mention a sophist.

Robin Starfish said...

let the dead marry the dead
proposition 8

Niggardly Phil said...

Speaking of which, everybody get Orson Scott Card.

Van said...


As I was saying the other day, sometimes the post rings my bell to the core of the bell tower. I can't Pick out one quote without tampering with the whole-y reverberation. I'll just let it ring...

Van said...


Yes, yes, Sunset Boulevard, Vertigo, very nice, very nice... but if you want to get reallly serious about metaphysical wisdom, you must of course consult the Holy Grail, and in this case, Scene 2:

CART MASTER: Bring out your dead! Ninepence.
Bring out your dead!
CUSTOMER: Here's one.
CART MASTER: Ninepence.
DEAD PERSON: I'm not dead!
CUSTOMER: Nothing. Here's your ninepence.
DEAD PERSON: I'm not dead!
CART MASTER: 'Ere. He says he's not dead!
CUSTOMER: Yes, he is.
CART MASTER: He isn't?
CUSTOMER: Well, he will be soon. He's very ill.
DEAD PERSON: I'm getting better!
CUSTOMER: No, you're not. You'll be stone dead in a moment.
CART MASTER: Oh, I can't take him like that. It's against regulations.
DEAD PERSON: I don't want to go on the cart!
CUSTOMER: Oh, don't be such a baby.
CART MASTER: I can't take him.
DEAD PERSON: I feel fine!
CUSTOMER: Well, do us a favour.
CUSTOMER: Well, can you hang around a couple of minutes? He won't be long.
CART MASTER: No, I've got to go to the Robinsons'. They've lost nine today.
CUSTOMER: Well, when's your next round?
CART MASTER: Thursday.
DEAD PERSON: I think I'll go for a walk.
CUSTOMER: You're not fooling anyone, you know. Look. Isn't there something you can do?
DEAD PERSON: [singing]
I feel happy. I feel happy.
CUSTOMER: Ah, thanks very much.
CART MASTER: Not at all. See you on Thursday.
CUSTOMER: Right. All right.
[clop clop clop]
Who's that, then?
CART MASTER: I dunno. Must be a king.
He hasn't got shit all over him.

There ya go.

Van said...

(anony, see previous comment for further wisdom re your master cartesan.)

Ray Ingles said...

Card has an earlier one than that.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10:27,

I hope you were joking about the "courtesan" thing.

Or perhaps you think that simple sexual release is more important than the sublimation and transformation of the animal sex drive through marriage and devotion.

Call it what you like, but I don't think you'll find much support here for frequenting whores.

River Cocytus said...

Hmm, here's an interesting tidbit. The day has three beginnings. (But there is only one day for those three beginnings.)

The first is the 'invisible' - 12:00 am. This is the purely 'logical' beginning which is invisible to us.

The second is the 'visible' - daybreak.

The third is the 'invisible/visible' (light going away) - the sunset.

A few things to note. The scientific day beginning is not human; no human would recognize it without aid of instruments. Only the other two are recognizable by man. The first is the waking, working beginning, and the second is the resting, dreaming beginning.

Odd how it works like that.

Petey said...

Such psychological splitting into "wife-mistress" usually speaks to an inability to integrate love and sexuality due to various oedipal and pre-oedipal issues. It's very typical of immature men. It's just a symptom of the problem, not its cure.

River Cocytus said...

Mistress being the feminine of 'master' - a proper man and wife are both master and servant of each other. Thus the wife is the mistress, just as the husband is the master. So a man who does not have a mistress in his wife does not truly rule her because he is not ruled by her but by another.

Anonymous said...

Bob, I don't get your beef with Ken's work. Ok, I'll admit his associations with DC and AR are less than ideal in service to his work. But he is trying to get an expression of different voices to fill in some gaps. In regards to his metaphysics, it includes exactly your point. He talks about the 3 faces of God: The first person relationship to God is found within (rejection of ego, thinking mind, blah blah blah); the second person relationship to God is found in surrender to the other (surrender to the mystery, to grace, to the one, to God); and the third person relationship to God is found in the evolutionary process of consciousness (aspiration of something higher, Aristolian virtues, etc). It all comes together to make one reject, aspire, and surrender. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater in regards to Ken's work. He isn't perfect, and suffers from some self grandeur, but he has grasped these ideas in a coherent and compellimg way.

kaffepaus said...

The man on the photo makes me think of Ayn Rand. She had a brilliant mind, and she also got a lot of creepy followers who never understood her or her views of things…


dr. freuds dr. said...

Anon said,

"As for keeping passion alive: here's a question for married men--is it fair game to develop a relationship with a professional courtesan? By this I mean a responsible, stable woman who knows what she's doing and adheres to the general guidelines of the Kama Sutra.

Weigh in--yes, no, maybe? Not for everyone? Not for anyone?"

Then Bob said,

"Such psychological splitting into "wife-mistress" usually speaks to an inability to integrate love and sexuality due to various oedipal and pre-oedipal issues. It's very typical of immature men. It's just a symptom of the problem, not its cure."

Then I said,

Or to put it another way, you are one sick and obsessed M-efer!

Note the use of the exclamation point!

hoarhey said...

Somehow, in that picture, TR's head doesn't look big enough to actually be TR's head.
He has a big head don't ya know.

hoarhey said...

Though Ken does look as strange as ever so I don't think it's been photoshopped.

Aquila said...

Hoarhey, TR's "big head" and 6'7" height are due to his acromegaly.

cousin dupree said...

You sure it's not acromegalomania, which causes a hideously oversized ego?

julie said...

If you really want a laugh, check out his webpage. You know his "Ultimate Edge" DVDs are a bargain for only $210, and they have got to be good - they come with the "As Seen on TV" prestige.


Ricky Raccoon said...

Top o the muffin to you.

Van said...

Yes! You too! Can! Learn! To Shave haphazardly! In Such A Way! As To Look Cool! As Seen On T.V.!

(past performance is no garauntee of future performance)

walt said...

"As seen on TV" refers to the fact that they are promoted widely via 30-minute infomercials.

Hence, the prestige!

Aquila said...

LOL Cousin Dupree!

hoarhey said...

Could T.R. pull off his "Awaken the Giant Within" seminars if he were say, the size of Tom Cruise?

julie said...

Probably not, but I'm suddenly picturing a meeting between TR and some kid with a sling...

GetRedAhead said...

Hey gang! It’s 70 days til inauguration. Yeah I know, who cares. But listen up:

It’s also 70 days we got to pump up the economy - to get Red ahead and blue be the fool (well more than it already is that is)! All we gotta do is make this Holiday season the best ever! Give Obama nothing to do. Put these on your “Save America - Buy List” (some ideas):

* A new vehicle (Hummer, Airstream Safari, any SUV)
* Sports equipment (Remington SPR94, Polaris 450, Shimano Cumara)
* CD’s (Daniels, Keith, Nugent)
* A new home (Fleetwood, Clayton, Palm Harbor)
* Books (Video Bible, Ann’s “Treason”, “The Foundations of Austrian Economics from Menger to Mises: A Critico-Historical Retrospective of Subjectivism”)
* Sunday-best clothing (WalMart, SamsClub, Tractor Supply)
* An adopted baby and accessories (Downs, Eskimo, see above)

If we all pull together, we can do it!!

hoarhey said...

I want the economy to stay in the tank to put as much money restriction on his marxist fantasies as possible.

BTW first item on my "Save America Buy List"

1. Firearms.

Van said...

FFwding through the news (one of the many blessings of Tivo) I had to stop for a moment - Deepack Choprawoo on Hannity & Colmes... appears to be going through an Elton John phase with his sparlkling ruby red glasses. His shlouching chubbiness was touting his new biography of Jesus's lost years, 'from rebellious teen to rebelious leader' (Perhaps Ralph Machio will play him in the movie... or I guess that would be updated to Shia Labeouf), and claiming he had a non-violence auro about him... apparently it doesn't work through TV, because I just really wanted to smash him (as seen on TV!)

What a country.

Van said...

betterDeadThanRed, sorry, but conservatives usually buy things because the need and/or want them... not to push an agenda.

Perhaps The Boss or Bob Geldoff would be interested?

hamilton said...

"...nothing could be more ill-judged than that intolerant spirit which has, at all times, characterized political parties. For in politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword. Heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution. "

- Alexander Hamilton, Federalist 1

Van said...

I'll see you one Founder, and raise you one Frenchie commentator (one of the last of the worthwhile frogs),

The President, who exercises a limited power, may err without causing great mischief in the state. Congress may decide amiss without destroying the Union, because the electoral body in which Congress originated may cause it to retract its decision by changing its members. But if the Supreme Court is ever composed of imprudent or bad men, the Union may be plunged into anarchy or civil war.
-Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America