At the Innersection of Broadway and Sunset (11.23.11)
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.'"