Tuesday, February 19, 2008

On Imagining Reality

We've dabbled a bit in Schuon's understanding of the symbolism of color. What about his arch-nemesis, Sri Aurobindo? What does he say? (Schuon held Sri Aurobindo in the lowest regard, as he wasn't a strict "traditionalist," to such an extent that he could not even bring himself to utter his name when smacking him around. He would just use generic descriptors such as "certain intrinsically heretical deviant modernist pseudo-yogis with deplorable evolutionist pretensions," or suchlike.)

First of all, any real yogi (or Christian saint or mystic, for that matter) will caution you that spiritual experiences, realizations, visions, and powers ("siddhis") are ultimately of no importance, and can often be a distraction. This is partly because at the early stages of practice, there is still a mixture of the lower and the upper vertical (the mental and psychic planes), so to speak. Thus, one should not attach too much significance to specific details "until the consciousness develops more. The opening of the consciousness to the Divine Light and Truth and Presence is always the one important thing in the yoga."

The important point is to to realize that one is not limited by one's "outward surface or waking consciousness," but to develop the latent capacity "for entering into experiences of the inner consciousness of which most people are unaware but which opens by the practice of yoga. By this opening one becomes aware of subtle planes of experience and worlds of existence other than the material." Again, imagination is like the membrane between the higher and lower worlds, just as in science it is the membrane between appearances and reality, so to speak.

For example, modern physics requires a great leap of imagination to see "beyond" or through the deceptive appearances of solid matter. For the physicist, matter is nothing whatsoever like the way it presents itself to our evolved senses. It is, in the words of Teilhard de Chardin, a "floating condensation on a swarm of the indefinable." (BTW, Teilhard was Schuon's other evolutionist arch-nemesis, a veritable Catholic Sri Aurobindo, unless Aurobindo is the Hindu Teilhard.)

But does this mean that scientific theories are just human inventions, mere fancy with no anchor in reality? No, not at all. Rather, as described by Polanyi, scientific theories -- no less than authentic spiritual visions -- are analogous to "probes" with which we reach beyond the senses and into the unknown. They are both an irreducible blend of objectivity and subjectivity, without which thinking cannot take place -- neither scientific thinking nor spiritual intellection. One cannot reason in a void, whether one is reasoning about so-called "matter" or about Spirit. In both cases, the subject is merely attempting to penetrate and evolve beyond its own representation.

These, er, epistemological problems are all discussed in the opening chapter of my book. For example, "The laws that undergird the universe are invisible to our evolves senses; rather, they can only be 'seen' with the mind's eye, the eye of reason (and even more improbably, the eye of aesthetic beauty -- many mathematicians will reject a formula out of hand if it lacks 'beauty'). Strangely enough, science begins with the one world we experience with our senses (for where else could it begin?), but quickly saws off that familiar limb by excluding 'everything that can be imagined or conceived, except in abstract mathematical terms,' consequently relegating everything outside mathematical description -- the very world it started with -- to an 'ontological limbo' (W. Smith)."

Yesterday, our new troll, Xi, wisely rejected my magnanimous offer to grace us with a guest-post in which he outlines his meager philosophy, conceding that he did not actually have a philosophy, not even a meager one: "I don't have a 'philosophy' or metaphysical system. All such a system results in is self-referential blathering and confirmation bias" (sic).

No philosophy? Gee, ya' think? At any rate, Xi directly contradicts his disavowal of philosophy when, in the very next sentence -- which, by the way, glows with rudimentary intelligence -- he refers to the mind's curious -- curious to an intellectually curious person, anyway -- ability "to deceive itself and see patterns where none exist [and] to think that such nonsense actually pertains to anything real."

Thus, at the very least, Xi believes that the Real exists and that it is possible for the mind -- whatever that is -- to know it (for knowing falsehood presumes an ability to know truth). But what is the mind and what is the Real, and what is their relationship? Xi, that is your next assignment. You are very close to discovering Shankara's doctrine of maya, only 1200 years late.

Now, as Aurobindo explains in a letter to a disciple, spiritual visions and experiences can serve as keys "to contact with the other worlds or with the inner worlds and all that is there and these are regions of immense riches which far surpass the physical plane.... One enters into a larger freer self and a larger more plastic world.... These things have not the effect of a mere imagination (as a poet's or artist's, although that can be strong enough) but if fully followed out bring constant growth of the being and the consciousness...."

This very much reminds me of when I first began studying psychoanalysis, as I had some difficulty getting beyond the concrete meaning of some of the words used to describe primitive unconscious phenomena. For example, let's take this sentence by Melanie Klein from her classic paper Notes on Some Schizoid Mechanisms. I think you will agree that it sounds bizarre:

"I have often expressed my view that object-relations exist from the beginning of life, the first object being the mother's breast which to the child becomes split into a good (gratifying) and bad (frustrating) breast; this splitting results in a severance of love and hate.... From the beginning the destructive impulse is turned against the object and is first expressed in phantasied oral-sadistic attacks on the mother's breast, which soon develop into onslaughts on her body by all sadistic means. The persecutory fears arising from the infant's oral-sadistic impulses to rob the mother's body of its good contents... are of great importance for the development of paranoia and schizophrenia."

Yes, it sounded a bit wacky until I had my first psychotic patient during my internship at Camarillo State Mental Hospital, and Klein's theories not only fit like the proverbial glove, but were like a life raft that kept me from sinking beneath the ocean of this patient's paranoia and delusional attacks on me, Mr. Bad Breast. That is, at times I was the bountiful good breast, but in an instant could turn into the vicious and withholding bad breast, about which she would have dreams and vivid hallucinations of biting and tearing apart, and then being swallowed up in return. In one dream, we had a baby together, at which point she bit off the baby's head and then my head.

Anyway, back to Aurobindo before I run out of time, which I am about to. In another letter, he summarized our present discussion by writing that "Subjective visions can be as real as objective sight -- the only difference is that one is of real things in material space, while others are of real things belonging to other planes down to the subtle physical; even symbolic visions are real in so far as they are symbols of realities.... Visions are unreal only when these are merely imaginative mental formulations, not representing anything that is or was true or is going to be true."

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Cosmos in Living Color (2.01.11)

Not much time this morning, so this is a speed post which I will later belaborate. I was struck yesterday by an interesting comment left by an allnewtous reader, who wrote that

"the three primary colors of light (not pigment) are red, green and blue. Looking at the wavelengths of these colors, red is the longest (lowest frequency), blue is the shortest (highest frequency) and green is intermediate between the two. Now, as you follow the red wavelength to its extreme it approaches a flat line, that is, the horizontal, and as you follow the blue wavelength to its extreme, it approaches a vertical line. The point of intersection (middle ground) is that of the cross (El Christo). Also note that the red and blue spectrum venture beyond the limits of our visual detection, whereas that which lies in between (the green primary color) represents the visual spectrum.

"It is no accident that the primary colors are trinitarian. Following the principle of metaphysical correspondence (as above, so below), the red (horizontal) corresponds to the Spirit (think immanence and timeline, as in 'he has spoken through the prophets') and the blue (vertical) as the Father who is beyond (think transcendent, depths of the ocean, blue skies, deep space, the Father is greater than I). Both of these persons of the Trinity are 'unseen', whereas the Green (think intersection, cross, middle) is the visible person of the trinity, El Christo."

What are the messages we may derive from this correspondence? That "1) God is present with us, even in the horizontal, 2) The metaphysical has its expression in the physical, 3) To use Bob symbolism: Spirit (bidirectional horizontal arrow) and Father (bidirectional vertical arrow) = intersection = where Christ is to be found, and 4) The arithmetical expression of number three above is 1+1+1= 1."

This reminds me of a riff -- if that's not too jazzy a word -- by Schuon in Spiritual Perspectives and Human Facts, in which he goes off in a very precise way about the spiritual meaning of the various colors. Most of it struck me as deeply true, and yet, it also left me wondering, 1) how did this guy come up with this stuff, and 2) what kind of cosmos is it, whereby these things can be even remotely true, since the official scientific view is that color is absolutely meaningless? Remember, in the Newtonian view, color is simply an optical illusion produced by energy vibrations.

But what if the existence of color holds certain keys to our understanding of the whole existentialada? Put it this way -- would it really make no difference if we lived in a world in which there were no color, just black and white?

Schuon writes that colors are part of the formal order, and yet, are independent qualities that exist separately from tangible form. As applied to the Spirit, he writes that "affective and combative spiritual positions are 'red'; contemplation and quietude are 'blue'; joy is 'yellow'; pure truth, 'white'; the inexpressible, 'black.'"

In themseleves -- i.e., archetypally -- he says that "red has something of intensity, of violence, blue of depth and goodness. Our gaze is able to move, to lose itself in blue, but not in red, which rises before us like a wall of fire. Yellow partakes at once of intensity and depth, but in a 'light' mode; it has a certain 'transcendence' compared to the two 'heavy' colors; it is like an emergence toward whiteness. When mixed with blue it gives to the contemplativity of this color [green] a quality of 'hope,' of saving joy, a liberation from the enveloping quietude of contemplation."

How does this stack up with anonymous' formulation, that green is the intermediate principle where the height of the transcendent is to be found in the depths of the immanent, thus engendering hope?

Schuon goes on to say that "Red excites, awakens, 'exteriorizes'; blue gathers and 'interiorizes'; yellow rejoices and 'delivers.' Red is aggressive and moves outward; the radiance of blue is deep, welcoming, and leads inward; the radiance of yellow is 'liberating' and spreads in all directions. The combination of inward withdrawal (blue) with joy (yellow) is hope (green); hope is opposed to passion (red) because unlike passion it does not live in the present, but in the future; it is opposed to passion in its two aspects of introspection and joy."

And green is indeed an odd color. It is obviously the color of elemental life, i.e., the mystery of photosynthesis, which converts the pure light of the celestial center into green leaves. Schuon says that green possesses an ambiguity because "it combines two colors that are opposed in two different respects," thus giving it "a character of 'surprise' and 'strangeness.'" No one expects green to appear in a dead cosmos! One could go so far as to say that the sudden emergence of a green planet is about the oddest thing one could imagine after 9.85 billion years of a lifeless cosmos following the big bang. Green is always saying Boo!, but in a good way.

As Schuon explains, green "has two dimensions -- whence its mystery -- whereas its opposite color, red, is simple, indivisible, instantaneous. Green is hope, promise, happy expectation, good news; it has an aspect of gaiety, and mischievousness; it possesses neither the violent action of red nor the inscrutable -- and inwardly unlimited -- contemplativity of blue; nor is it the open, simple, and radiant joy of yellow."

Christ's own passion (red) is resolved in hope (evergreen). I suppose this is why satan is always depicted as red. Red "is the present moment. Green, its opposite, is duration with its two dimensions, past and future, the future being represented by yellow and the past by blue. Seen spatially blue is space and yellow the flashing center, a center that reveals itself and liberates, displaying a new dimension of infinity. It is the sky transpierced by the sun." So I suppose Christ would be green crowned in yellow within an infinite blue background -- or perhaps with yellow light proceeding from the red heart. Discuss amongst yourselves.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sunday Nonsense & Theidiocy

Ascent you a son, amen for a child's job! That's the New Man, we're just putting him on. When you reach a ribald age, you can grasp the wheel of this broken-down trancebardation. The experdition is nonsensuous (a punway round-trip), so prepare for nonsense and theidiocy. --The Coonifesto

Bob's got a pretty tough hide, but I think this super-smart reader, Xi -- the junior college professor of linguistics and analytic philosophy -- is starting to hurt his feelings a bit. For example, he writes that Dear Leader

"doesn't offer propositions which can even be evaluated. They suffer from excessive vagueness and ambiguity, resulting in them being, quite literally, senseless. The only possible method for assessing their truth or falsity is to simply believe, without support, that Bob is correct since there is no way to understand with any precision [and precision is necessary for understanding] what he is or isn't asserting. This isn't a property of my deficient mind, but of the very language he uses."

Of Petey (SBUH), he has the effrontery to write that he deploys a "kind private or semi-private language with its own rules which you make up as you go along. This is absurd and demonstrably false. Your usage of language is governed by the same necessities and realities as everyone else. Your claim of it being a spiritual exercise is a pretty poor cop out, not to mention its contradicted by the fact that you say that you and your 'coons' already 'know' the things you are writing, which implies that you and they do in fact 'know' them; an issue subject to epistemic investigation, even if you want to pretend it isn't.... Even if others don't see through this phony obfuscation, your intellectual bankruptcy is apparent."

Is this possible? First, let us stipulate that Bob's posts are indeed "made-up," since I have personally witnessed him making them up. But is it really true that all of his 900-some-(or all)-odd posts are just vague, ambiguous, absurd, intellectually bankrupt, and literally senseless, on the grounds that this self-confessed fount of (-n) literally doesn't understand them? Or, to put the blakes on this philosophical gas peddler, is it possible for truth to be told so as to be understood and not believed? Or that our comprehension is inferior to Xi's lack thereof?

Clearly, Xi is disclosing embarrassing details of his banal cognitive autobiography, but nothing about Bob. I'm trying to imagine the world of someone who equates "understanding" with analytic precision, but that's not possible, since the faculty of imagination is a priori imprecise -- or, to be precise, "supra-" or "transprecise," as, for example, in the precise formulations of metaphysics as imaginatively embodied in revelation.

In other worlds, and even this one, the most profound truths must be entered into imaginatively -- they are participatory, as in artistic or musical truth. On this, Xi and I will just have to agree to agree, even if he disagrees that he agrees with me, for he is essentially saying that his philosophical fantasy that the brain is a computer is superior to the commonplace bobservation that it is not.

Anyway, another Sunday exercise in spiritual epissedhimoffogy, just to annoy our lone sophisticated reader. Please note how little sense it makes, which you might say is the whole point of writing in such a way that -- to be precise -- we reverse the usual vector flow of (k)-->O to O-->(n).

Hey, sorry about the length.... maybe I'll make it up to you with no post tomorrow, since I have a long day.

*****

On p. 285 of the Coonifesto there is a footnote which reads, “Perhaps I should emphasize that mind parasites are ultimately ephemeral human creations that operate ‘horizontally’ as long as there are human minds to host them. This is in stark contrast to spiritual entities, which operate vertically (from a higher realm than our own) and preexist the human beings that may open themselves to their influence.”

Now, I realize that even among regular readers, there might be a substantial number who will regard the reference to spiritual entities as “kooky talk,” as Kramer put it. However, as an aside, one thing I have discovered is that, if you are going to truly embrace the vertical, you have to go the whole hog. Initially it is a leap of faith, but in reality, it is not that different from, say, attending a movie. In doing so, we go into a dark place, temporarily suspend memory, desire and understanding, and disenable our “wideawake and cutandry” ego, so as to enter another world and submit to the director's vision.

However, have you ever noticed that a great film, in an odd sort of way, seems more real than real? Even though I done graduated from film school, this is something I have never really thought through or articulated before, but it is as if a great film (or any great work of art, really) is surreal, which literally means “super,” “over,” or “above” real.

Put it this way: art is either real, surreal or sub-real. If you are a Horizontal Man, then it goes without saying that it is merely real or possibly sub-real, since transcendence does not exist. And, as a matter of fact, we have plenty of examples of explicitly horizontal “naturalistic” art that came out of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Interestingly, if you have seen these works, you will notice that in their attempt at realism, they actually fall short of reality, which I think emphasizes a truism I have mentioned in the past: if man does not transcend himself, he falls beneath himself. Most contemporary art has now descended to this level. In draining itself of transcendence, it is mere barbarism by another name.

The human being is faced with two, and only two, metaphysical choices between a wholly secular and ultimately horizontal world view or a vertical and ultimately religious one. In the final analysis, despite all of the apparent variety, this is the only philosophical choice before you. On the one side, atheism, materialism, existentialism, rationalism, what have you. And on the other side, any form of transcendental realism. Now, importantly, if you choose the former, then the latter is excluded a priori. In other words, if there is only the horizontal world, then the vertical does not and cannot exist. However, if you choose the latter, it is obviously no problem fitting horizontality into the picture as a necessary consequence of the very nature of the Absolute. I have no beef whatsoever with science, whereas the scientistic mind of a Xi can only stare at religion with uncomprehending bovine eyes and ask, "where's the beef?"

Back to my original point: this is why, depending on the choice you make, you should have the courage of your convictions and go the whole hog in embracing the One or the other. If you are an atheist, go for it! Certainly don’t waste your time being a lukewarm agnostic, for the truth is this: if God is even possible in your metaphysical scheme, then a moment’s reflection will prove to you that God is necessary. In other words, do not be fooled into thinking that we are dealing with degrees of possibility. Rather, God -- just like moral certainty, or absolute truth, or objective beauty -- is either possible or impossible.

Now, whatever your particular religion, it will always draw a distinction between the frontal ego, which largely operates horizontally, and the psychic being (which is Sri Aurobindo’s term for the nous, buddhi, or higher intellect), which operates vertically. The former is by definition "fractured" and alienated from its ground, while the latter is a reflection of the Absolute in the relative, and therefore a diversified unity.

Let us stipulate at the outset that, to the extent that the vertical is real, then it is going to be reflected in us and in everything else. Thus follows God's favorite cliché, “as above, so below.” Looking at the world in this way, everything below is going to have its analogue in the above, and vice versa. Therefore, we start with the Absolute. The Absolute reflects itself in our local world as existence, or being, the most general category we can imagine, since everything partakes of it. We would also say that eternity manifests as time, which is its moving image.

Even more generally, time is not just mere duration, but the transforming mode of being. It has cycles and archetypal qualities, which is why we can even speak of “growth” or “evolution.” In this scheme, evolution is a necessary consequence of the Absolute manifesting in time. Ironically, progressive evolution (as opposed to mere change) is something that cannot be explained (because it is inherently vertical) by any purely horizontal metaphysics, which is why so-called “creationists” -- I mean the literal kind -- are even more materialistic than materialists. It is always a mistake to try to reduce metaphysical truth -- those truths which must be true because of the nature of things -- to your narrow creed. Rather, your task is to understand how these timeless truths are reflected in your creed. God did not give you an intellect only to ignore its most lofty capabilities. Please.

To affirm that man is the mirror and image of the Absolute is to remind ourselves that man is the being who can escape his own limits and participate in the eternal, which we only do all the time. But since we are mirrorcles of the Absolute, while it projects itself from eternity into time, our task is to ascend from time to eternity. In fact, when all is unsaid with non-doing, this is the soul task of the spiritual life. This ascension involves reversing figure and ground, so to speak, both spatially and temporally. In other words, we must turn the world upside-down and inside-out.

This is why it is not just a matter of knowing where to look for God, but how to look. You could go to the top of Mount Sinai, or into the the most secret vestibule of the Vatican, or to the mouth of the Ganges, or into L. Ron Hubbard's huge medicine cabinet, but if you don’t know how to look, you’re just going to see a mountain, a building, a river, or a lot of prescriptions for vicodin. On the other hand, if you know how to ascend the mountain, enter a dark cloud of unknowing, crucify your lower mind, and drink from the sacred river, you might just hit the slackpot.

It is not so much a matter of knowing as perceiving. We begin by transforming our vision and developing a spiritual way of “seeing.” As a matter of fact, this is something we routinely do. For example, when you read the words on a page, you actually make the letters “invisible” by looking through and beyond them to the words they spell. Likewise, the words become equally invisible, because you look through them to the meaning they are pointing at. You could undertake a chemical analysis of the ink with which the words are printed, but that would take you no closer to their meaning. Rather, it would take you far in the opposite direction, completely destroying their meaning. Do you get what I'm saying? Good. You just proved the point. Xi, you missed again.

Since God is transcendent, there is no way to see him by simply looking in a conventional way at material or empirical reality. That’s going to take you far away in the wrong direction, that is, unless you somehow look through and beyond the world in a manner analogous to the way we see through words and letters to their higher meaning. This is again why religious fundamentalists are neither religious nor fundamentalist. Rather, they are materialists, in that they act as if the literal words and events of the Bible are more real than that to which they point.

Also -- equally ironically -- there is no philosophy more abstract than atheism, for it superimposes its sterile and dogmatic abstractions over the mystery of being. No one has more fixed opinions about the unknown than proud Horizontal Man, who is half-correct in believing that some things are “too good to be true.” But he neglects the fact that there are necessarily things that are not good enough to be True, atheism among them. And as we all know, some things are just far too beautiful to be untrue.

Imagine if you were a trained meteorologist. Instead of seeing a cloud as an unambiguous white patch against a blue backdrop, you might begin to see the visible cloud as a mere “ripple” against the background of a much more encompassing meteorological process that is largely invisible to the senses. Similarly, before the days of MRI’s and high speed CT scans, an experienced cardiologist could place a stethoscope against your chest, and simply by listening to the sounds, visualize the nature of the problem.

Imagination, in its positive, active sense, is the membrane that makes contact with the higher world. It is dangerous to try to merely understand religious truths, because it reduces them to the known (k) and undermines their function of bypassing the ego and vaulting us out of our conventional way of knowing. Religious truths cannot be comprehended through dogma or through irreligious skepticism, but only through an imaginative engagement with their world. (To be clear: dogma is critical in that it preserves or memorializes these worlds, but it is still our task to imaginatively engage them.)

In short, you must, through your imagination, raise yourself up to religion, not lower religion down to your ego, or you will merely be worshipping your ego.

As I tried to convey in my book, there is only one story. It is the story of an evolving cosmos awakening to itself and becoming conscious. Who could argue with that? It happened. And it is happyning. First there was matter. Then one fine day, life. Then just a short while back, self-consciousness. And most recently, the recognition of, and identification with, Spirit. Matterlifemindspirit. You can insert an arbitrary line dividing one from the other, but at least recognize that you are the one who is creating the abstract dualism. The underlying Oneness of existence knows no such intrinsic demarcations, neither in space nor in time.

Which is to say that matterlifemindspirit is simply the mirror image of Spiritmindlifematter. As above, so below.

We look at a tree reflected in a lake. In its inverse image, we see that its roots are aloft, its branches and leaves down here below. Looking “up,” we see the trunk rising before us, into the roots that cannot be seen. They are invisible. But this is where nourishment enters the tree and moves down the trunk, where life is carried to the periphery.

May we know the tree by its most excellent fruit!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Osama bin Laden Pleased that Obama Bin' Leadin' (3.14.09)

I'm not sure if that title has anything to do with this post. It just popped into my head this morning, and now I'm inflicting it on you. Nevertheless, it's obviously true. As someone recently said -- I forget who, at the moment -- when Pakistan falls and al Qaeda gets its eager hands on the nuclear arsenal, whom do you want in the White House? Let's not kid ourselves. We all know who Satan would prefer to be tremulously wedged in the Big Chair, blinking nervously at the Joint Chiefs.

The XVth card of the tarot, The Devil, introduces us "to the secrets of the electrical fire and the intoxication of counter-inspiration."

But before proceeding further, let us take to heart the warning of our Unknown Friend (heretofore UF), who cautions us that "One can grasp profoundly, i.e. intuitively, only that which one loves. Love is the vital element of profound knowledge, intuitive knowledge." If you have ever wondered why true evil -- nazi evil, Islamist evil -- is so impenetrable, it is because the normal person obviously cannot love evil: "Evil is therefore unknowable in its essence. One can understand it only at a distance, as an observer of its phenomenology."

I suppose another way of saying it is that (in linguistic terms) "evil" is a signifier with no signified, being that true evil represents a genuine absence -- an absence or deprivation of the Good. As such, the essence of evil is that it has no essence.

In turn, this is why evil is truly a "bottomless pit." It is not actually infinite, since only the Absolute can be infinite. It does, however, tend toward its own kind of "false" or "bad" infinite (in the Hegelian sense), which is why man can only rise so high but can fall and fall without ever hitting bottom. I suppose the physics of black holes might provide a handy way to think about this negative infinity. This would be easier -- and less spiritually dangerous -- than trying to imagine, say, the bottomless darkness of the Berkeley City Council. Some things are so beyond the horizon of the human imagination, that they are best left alone.

UF goes on to say that in comparison to the luminous worlds of the celestial hierarchy, the world of evil is more "like a luxuriant jungle, where you can certainly, if necessary, distinguish hundreds and thousands of particular plants, but where you can never attain to a clear view of the totality." Do you know what he means? I do. It's like a collection with no ordering principle, just a blob or agglomeration -- which is the opposite of the Life principle, i.e., that which organizes, unifies, and synthesizes. Dynamic wholeness is the essence of Life, which means that evil and death must be related to dispersal and fragmentation. Thus, "the world of evil is a chaotic world -- at least, such as it presents itself to the observer."

Vertically speaking, order is "up," while chaos is down. No surprise there. In Genesis, God's first act is simply to separate. Without separation there is only the formless void of primordial chaos. If you don't understand the holiness and the sacredness of Separation, then you don't understand anything. Yes, this separation, or duality, can be transcended, but only from above, never from below. Better to live in Holy duality than to obliterate divinely ordained distinctions out of a self-deluded belief in bogus transcendence, which is what the "new age" is all about.

As is leftism, which might just as well be called "down syndrome," being that it is rooted in the anti-divine principle of blending. For the left, In the Beginning was Order. Now, let us gleefully tear it down and blend darkness with light, the upper waters with the lower waters! Examples are too numerous to mention, but one would have to include the obliteration of sexual differences, the trivialization of generational differences, and the effacement of the distinction between knowledge and wisdom; not to mention the conflation of transcendence and immanence, the con-fusion of moral relativism, and the abysmal fall into multiculturalism. All of these trends are evil to the core, despite the paradoxical absence of a core. Again, evil is essentially without essence. It is perpetually going from nowhere to nothing, while enjoying the... what's the word, Jeeves? Yes, the frisson of the fall.

Now, just as the right kind of obedience is freedom -- for example, fidelity to Truth -- the wrong kind of freedom is slavery. According to UF, one of the subtexts of the Devil card is that of slavery, in that it depicts a man and woman bound by the neck to a much larger androgynous entity.

Interestingly, just as the union of male and female can create the miracle of a baby to raise (and who shall in turn raise them in mysterious ways), it seems that a false kind of blending of their essences can engender another kind of being that shall lower them, so to speak. As UF explains, the card has to do with "the generation of demons and of the power that they have over those who generate them. It is the Arcanum of creation of artificial beings and of the slavery into which the creator can fall -- becoming a slave of his own creation."

Let's pause here for a moment. In this regard, I can remember the precise moment when I crossed over that line from leftist back to liberal (i.e., conservative); or, to put it another way, when it was no longer possible to be on the left. I simply asked myself, "who is responsible for my existential unhappiness?" I won't go into all of the details, as that would take us down a lengthy detour. But the point is, I realized that I was a slave of my own creation -- for example, an evil creation I called "Ronald Reagan." Of course, my creation had nothing whatsoever to do with the actual Ronald Reagan. Rather -- and this is critical -- not only was it my creation, but it was me. Just as in a dream, I was persecuted by my own elaborate production -- like the spider who lives in a web spun from its own substance.

I was reminded of this again last night in reading the liner notes to the new edition of Donald Fagen's excellent Nightfly Trilogy (nothing I'm about to say detracts from the music). As much as I appreciate Steely Dan (Becker & Fagen), like most people of their generation, their jaded cynicism does not extend to their own default moonbattery, which sits there like a kind of unexamined Holy Writ. Which it is. It is the genesis myth of the Baby Boom generation -- the idea that the evil is Out There in the Nixonian uncool ones who are oppressing us.

I know exactly what Fagen means when he reflects that "to a weekend hippie in the '60s," political paranoia "seemed kind of exciting." Indeed, for me, this was the appeal of a Noam Chomsky or Howard Zinn -- that they provided a kind of secret gnostic knowledge, an alternative conspiracy theory that explained everything -- why the world is so off-kilter and out of joint, and more to the point, why I was so unfulfilled. Ronald Reagan hates me!

It's one thing to think this way in the '60s. But it is rather pathetic to still think it in one's 60s, as Fagen apparently does. He's still haunted by his self-generated demons -- i.e., mind parasites -- which have now appropriated the host, as suggested in the liner notes of the dark and dystopian world of Morph the Cat, released in 2006 (especially when compared to the idealism and optimism of Nightfly). As he writes,

"Paranoia just wasn't fun anymore in the age of al Qaeda." But not because of al Qaeda! Rather, he speaks disparagingly of Republicans taking over his city (New York) at the 2002 convention, and ends his notes with the following warning: "If you see some folks who believe that spirits and ghosts and hell actually exist and they're really sure about it and they're comin' your way -- RUN!"

I agree entirely. Better yet, just wake up from the dream, because you can't actually run away from your own ghosts, much less the Dreamer.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Devil, Dylan, and the Dead (3.08.09)

I really was never any more than what I was -- a folk musician who gazed into the gray mist with tear-blinded eyes and made up songs that floated in a luminous haze. Now it had blown up in my face and was hanging over me. I wasn't a preacher performing miracles. It would have driven anybody mad. --Bob Dylan

Let's meditate for awhile on the political implications of the Devil card with our Unknown Friend.

First of all, the being known as Satan is a source of inspiration (to in-spire is to receive spirit). Only it is counter-inspiration, which is still a kind of inspiration. In fact, very much so. To avoid premature saturation, let's just call it (-i). Most of us, assuming we weren't permanently damaged by college, can recognize (i) when we see it, but many people confuse (i) with (-i), with catastrophic results. For example, America's founders were animated by (i). Che Guevara -- and those who idealize him -- was animated by (-i).

In contemporary America, you could almost say that there's no such thing as "the left." Rather, what we have is a mass movement animated by (-i). If you are within the movement, then it is doubtful that you can see it, but viewed from without, it is completely obvious. The campaign of John Edwards, for example, was an exercise in pure (-i). How then did it differ from Obama's campaign? I would say that the Edwards campaign was equally driven by (+H), whereas Obama's campaign is imbued with a meretricious (-L). True, there is always deep (H) under the (-L), but the obamaniacs are able to split off and deny the (H) by bathing in the (-L).

Along these lines, reader Mike M. left an astute comment yesterday:

"This swooning Obama-worship of what would seem an empty suit is bizarre and curious. Note how it follows the irrational demonization of the current POTUS now seen as a figure of such mythic evil that he, George Bush, is held to have deliberately murdered thousands of innocent Americans on 9/11 as a pretext for immoral imperialist war. This is a view which is resolutely held by graduates of our most prestigious universities! That such an event would have no historical precedent and that such a purported crime would exceed the ruthless cynical evil of the purported NAZI burning of the Reichstag cannot be without meaning....

"Given the powerful projection, scapegoating and displacement poured into the demonization of George W. Bush could it be that this Obamessiah personna is a necessary counter to the fabricated evil Bush-Hitler figure, and the powerful divisive hysteria and paranoia which has accompanied the demonization of George Bush -- sort of virtual particle and anti-particles emerging from a spiritual vacuum?"

Yes. That is exactly what I am trying to say. Genuine (L) is convergent upon wholeness, truth, beauty, light, harmony, and peace. It is not reactive, but active. On the other hand, the Obama-love (-L) is almost wholly reactive, as it exists side by side with the (H) from which it is derived. This is one of the first and most useful things I learned in my psychoanalytic education. That is, some patients will develop a transference toward the therapist in which they express a lot of anger and hatred. No problem. One expects that. They are not nearly as troublesome as the ones who develop an idealized transference, because when that happens, you had better fasten your seatbelt. You're in for a bumpy ride.

The reason for this is that idealization (understood in its psychoanalytic sense) is a defense mechanism which is simply the other side of denigration and contempt. In other words, both idealization and contempt are simply ways for the person to manage their own psychic economy. You might say that one person places the bad object outside of himself in order to distance himself from it, while another person places the good object outside of himself to protect it from his own toxic anger and hatred. Often, on an unconscious level, the patient idealizes you to prevent themselves from tearing you apart -- i.e., to protect you from their own hostility. Haven't you ever been around this kind of person, whose attraction to you was kind of spooky? (I remember a Seinfeld episode that dealt with that issue.)

Importantly, this is not to confuse the defense mechanism of idealization with its normal variety. It's somewhat difficult to precisely define the difference, but you can definitely sense when it's the pathological kind. As a therapist, you can intuit the shadow underneath, which gives you an apprehensive feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop. You find yourself with a foreboding sense of, "boy, this guy loves me now, but am I gonna get hammered as soon as I do something to disappoint him." I guess it's similar to the creepy signals that an abusive man gives out to a potential victim. When a woman gets involved with an abusive man, it's usually because she ignored the spooky idealization at the beginning of the relationship. And the reason she ignored it was probably because she wasn't loved by a virtuous and spiritually integrated father, so she can't recognize proper male love.

This is why I mentioned yesterday that a normal person would definitely be unnerved by the kind of hysterical adulation (-L) being directed at Obama. You cannot help wondering about the state of his soul, and whether it is a pathological mirror-image of what is being projected into him -- like an unconscious lock that corresponds perfectly with the projected key. Such a man, like Clinton, seeks his center in the periphery of the idealizing crowd, so to speak. It couldn't be more different from a man with an immutable axis and incorruptible center to which people are "magnetized," such as Ronald Reagan.

(George Will: "In his preternatural neediness, Clinton, an overflowing caldron of narcissism and solipsism, is still smarting from Obama's banal observation, four weeks ago, that Ronald Reagan was a more transformative president than Clinton.")

If mother love is like the circle that is both infinite and enveloping (and potentially suffocating), father love is like the absolute point. The circle must come first, followed by the point, which forms the center (and which will in turn extend "vertically" to the celestial Father, of whom our earthly father is just an authorized deputy). A man without a father (or father energy, which can come from other sources) is generally a man without a center. In addition to seeking his center in the adulation of others, it is also possible to fabricate it in a kind of centerless, manic energy -- again, Clinton comes to mind. He is bubbling over with scattered hysterical thought devoid of any coherence or consistency. He is most focussed when he is focused on the adulation of the crowd, which provides him with a faux center and a temporary integration. But it's an addiction, which is why he can't leave politics alone.

There is a fascinating chapter in Dylan's autobiography, in which he discusses at length the horror of being idealized in the manner he was back in the 1960s. Again, our society has become so narcissistic, that not only is such a bizarre situation seen as normative, but it is something that people actively seek (i.e., the cult of celebrity). People want to be famous and adulated, but obviously for all the wrong reasons. There few good reasons to be famous. Which is why, as Dennis Prager says, most famous people are utterly insignificant, while most significant people aren't famous. I am also reminded of something Schuon said, that the spiritually normal man does things because they please God, not for the horizontal affirmation of others. He made a related comment about the purpose of secular humanism, which is "to make oneself as useful as possible to a humanity as useless as possible."

I can't help wondering if Obama's absence of a father is a critical element here. If a boy is not initiated by the love of a virtuous man, then he will remain left behind in the murky, oceanic, intoxicating, boundary-less realm of mother love, which is as different from father-love as night is to day or sun is to moon. Please bear in mind that I am in no way denigrating mother love. Indeed, in watching Mrs. G. interact with Future Leader over the past three years, I am more in awe of it than ever. However, I am equally aware (as is Mrs. G) that if this love weren't tempered by father love, we could have a real monster on our hands. I mean really.

Awhile back Hoarhey made an insightful comment to the effect that the country wasn't prepared to cope with another fatherless president working out his issues on the national stage. In fact, it is probably no coincidence that the country chose a feminized, mother-bound man as president after the conclusion of the Cold War, since father had done his job and was therefore felt to be no longer necessary. But now, in a time of hot war, are we naive enough -- or in such denial -- to think that we can cow our enemies with sufficient mother love? (c.f. here and here.)

Yes. We. Can.

Yes. We. Can.

Yes. We. Can.

Because I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, the Islamists love me.

Hey, I never really got around to discussing the Devil card. Oh well, some other time.

A few years earlier Ronnie Gilbert, one of The Weavers, had introduced me at one of the Newport Folk Festivals saying, "And here he is... take him, you know him, he's yours." I had failed to sense the ominous forebodings in that introduction.... What a crazy thing to say! Screw that. As far as I knew, I didn't belong to anybody then or now.

.... [T]he press kept promoting me as the mouthpiece, spokesman, or even conscience of a generation. That was funny. All I'd ever done was sing new songs that were dead straight and expressed powerful new realities. I had very little in common with and knew even less about a generation that I was supposed to be the voice of.
--Bob Dylan

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Abomination of an Obama Nation (3.07.09)

Will brought up a very important point in a comment yesterday. It was in response to my questions, "What great world-historical events are invisible to the jaded elites of the present? What great vertical energies are entering the world today, undetected by a spiritually oblivious mainstream media?" Will's reflections on this are worth reproducing in full:

"There is a danger here, I think, given that this might be the age when 'Spirit pours out on all flesh,' i.e., the vertical energies actually do become, in a way, more visible, more tangible, even to the oblivious MSM.

"The danger is this: the influx of vertical energies for the most part cannot find suitable spiritual anchoring, do not result in a growth of spiritual insight and wisdom, but rather the vertical energies might be suborned by the horizontal in an entirely unwholesome way.

"An example: hypothetically speaking, let's say... oh, let's say, some political candidate who's running for... oh, let's say, for president of the United States... Let's say this candidate uses the influx of vertical energy in such a way that it does not invest him (or her, let's be fair) with any particular wisdom -- in fact, this candidate mouths and apparently believes in the same old amorphous lefty platitudes. Only... this candidate seems invested with a peculiar type of charisma that has citizens from coast to coast virtually swooning in some orgasmystic ecstasy... no one's higher intellect is sharpened, only their *feelings* are set on fire by this candidate in some peculiar way...

"Well, as was said re: the days when the Spirit pours out on all flesh, one must be very careful not to fall for false messiahs and whatnot... meanwhile, there are those who indeed are spiritually anchoring the vertical energy influx and are doing so invisibly and with a certain amount of travail, as is necessary at this time."

***

First of all, let's get this out of the way at the outset. Are we calling Obama the antichrist?

Yes, or course.

No, wait -- let's not engage in ad obominem. Let's just say an embodiment of the antichristic principle. Let's discuss this in terms of abstract cosmic principles, without getting personal. No need to demonize someone just because he's an instrument of satan. He's just the vehicle, not the driver.

Now, what do we mean by "antichrist?" I would say that, as Christ is Word-made-flesh, the antichristic would analogously represent the "lower principle" made flesh -- the instantiation, as it were, of the Fall.

So first of all, to go along with my analysis, you must believe that man is in some sense a fallen being with a built-in -- or at least inevitable -- flaw. You don't have to be a fanatic about it. You only have to know that "something ain't right" with the earthlings, however you wish to conceptualize it. Being aware of this principle is our greatest inoculation against utopian leftist schemes to perfect mankind, which always result in unanticipated cosmic belowback.

Secondly, you would have to believe that it is possible for the forces responsible for the Fall to be personified -- or, let us say, both focused and dispersed like a beam of darkness through the concavity or convexations of man's heart. As Christ is a blinding light, antichrist would be darkness visible. Thus, to those who live in spiritual darkness, it would appear as a false light -- as, say, a single match is brighter than the sun in an enclosed room, cut off from the sun.

The Serpent, to paraphrase our Unknown Friend in Meditations on the Tarot, symbolizes advanced intelligence ("the most cunning of the beasts") turned wholly toward the horizontal. Thus, it is a perversion of man's intellect, as it represents a self-sufficient naturalism and total (small r) realism that betrays the vertical source of human intelligence. As such, we would expect one aspect of the antichrist to be high intelligence combined with extraordinary vapidity, at least to those with spiritual discernment.

But this cannot merely be the philosophical vapidity of the doctrinaire atheist or scientistic materialist, or it could never gain traction in the human heart, which always hungers for spirit, even if it is the false kind. Rather, it would have to come cloaked in some sort of seductive or hypnotic faux verticality. It would indeed have to be charismatic and charming, bearing in mind the root meaning of former, which is "divine gift," and of the latter, which is "incantation" or "magic spell."

A spiritually normal person would be alarmed and even creeped out if he possessed this kind of influence over others. At the very least, it would be an occasion for the deepest humility, combined with concern over the state of the souls of those under his influence. For one thing, the spiritually normal person knows that this charis is only on loan to him, and that he is not free to use it as he will. He is responsible for those who come under his spiritual influence, and this is a heavy responsibility. It is not to be taken lightly.

Rather, one is only free to use this power if it is aligned with its vertical source. There is something coming through the charismatic, not from him, and as soon as one realizes this, it is an occasion, yes, for gratitude, but also fear and trembling. It is analogous to the power to send men to die for their country, only on the vertical plane. It is the ability to inspire selfless martyrs, but for what purpose? Our satanic enemies are clearly selfless idealists under the influence of charismatic leaders. So what.

Our Unknown Friend asks the questions, "Can one produce artificially intellectual, moral or spiritual inspiration? Can the lungs produce the air which they need for respiration?" No: "the very process of breathing teaches the laws of obedience, poverty, and chastity, i.e. it is a lesson (by analogy) of grace. Conscious breathing in of the reality of grace is Christian Hatha-yoga. Christian Hatha-yoga is the vertical breathing of prayer and benediction -- or, in other words, one opens oneself to grace and receives it."

Unknown Friend goes on to say that the antichrist represents "the ideal of biological and historical evolution without grace." This is a key idea, for what is a progressive? A progressive is someone who believes fervently in progress while fanatically denying its possibility, since progress can only be measured in light of permanent truths and transcendent ideals.

The antichrist "is the ultimate product of this evolution without grace and is not an entity created by God," since divine creation is always a vertical act or descent. Yes, all things ultimately "come from God," in the same sense that all light comes from the sun, but think of all the infernal uses to which man may put the light!

Now, the phenobamenon -- being "derivative" and not from the source -- is ultimately a creator of those who created him. Unknown friend writes that, just as there are spiritual beings who reveal themselves "from above," there are what he calls egregores, which are "engendered artificially from below." Thus, "as powerful as they may be," they "have only an ephemeral existence," the duration of which "depends entirely on galvanising nourishment on the part of their creators."

As such, the really frightening thing about these kinds of amorphous demagogues is that they are given life and nourished by the rabble to whom they nourish and give life, in a spiritually barren cycle. The result is either spiritual asphyxiation or starvation, or probably both. And starved and suffocating men are capable of anything.

Ultimately, the antichrist is the shadow of the totality of mankind, as Jesus was the immanent shadow, so to speak, of the transcendent Divine Principle. The antichrist represents all that man is and can be in the absence of divine grace. It is he who transported Jesus to the highest earthly mountain "and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory" and said to him All these things I will give you if you will fall down and worship me.

The secular extremist or fanatical progressive worships his own creation, and in so doing, gives birth to the antiword. Materially, it results in a leftist Tower of Babel (i.e, the all-powerful state), whereas spiritually it results in a gelatinous tower of leftist babble (i.e., the vacuous but seductive demagogue who will lead the people in the direction of their most base impulses and desires).

To be continued....

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Just Say Yes! to History

Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy. --Joseph Campbell

So, is history convergent or divergent? In the realm of ideas, a problem is considered convergent if a universal solution to it can be discovered. For example, even if Einstein hadn't gotten there first, it is presumed that someone would have eventually discovered the equivalence of mass and energy. Or if Gene Mauch hadn't come up with the "double switch," some other baseball manager would have. A problem is thought to be divergent when it appears to have no single solution, but when different investigators are led down different paths toward differing conclusions, for example, questions of the most effective way to invest your money, the purpose of life, or the best strategy for arguing with a moonbat.

Now, the vast majority of scholars would undoubtedly consider the problem of history to be a divergent one, with no agreement -- and no possibility of agreement -- as to its ultimate nature: what it is, what is its purpose, where it is headed, etc. Therefore, a priori, history can have no meaning outside the individual historian’s mind. That is, if history doesn't refer to something outside itself, it is ultimately without meaning or purpose, truly the proverbial "tale told by a tenured idiot, full of sound and fury but signifying a nice paycheck.” While there can be limited purposes within history, there is no transcendent meaning to any of these endeavors, any more than there can be transcendent meaning to your individual goals and pursuits. It's all ultimately pointless.

Shortly after the cold war, the neo-Hegelian scholar Francis Fukuyama published his controversial book The End of History and The Last Man. It's been quite a while, but when I read the book, I never took it to mean that, with the end of the Cold War, history had somehow come to a literal end, as if nothing important would happen. Rather, his central point was that history was converging upon liberty, democracy, free markets, and individual rights, because societies that embodied these ideals were best able to fulfill human potential and satisfy mankind's deepest needs. Based upon a kind of natural selection applied to collectivities, countries would increasingly come to resemble one another, because there are more and less objectively effective ways of organizing society and meeting human needs.

I think the biggest knock on Fukuyama is that he underestimated -- to say the least -- the power of religion and culture to shape the human mind. And even more importantly, being a rationalist, he failed to appreciate the unconscious and irrational element in both of these realms. In short, he looked at culture as a basically rational enterprise instead of a deeply irrational (or arational or transrational) one. If even a relatively sane society such as the United States is prone to mass delusions, collective hysteria, and group fantasies, it is scarcely possible for us to imagine what it must be like to be an average citizen of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, or Berkeley.

And in pointing out that Fukuyama underestimated the power of culture, it's just another way of saying that he overlooked the realm of the vertical, in both its lower and upper aspects. The odd thing about earthlings is that they are attached to their culture, even -- or especially -- if the culture doesn't seem to work. Superficially this makes no sense, but it is exactly analogous to the manner in which a neurotic person is more attached to his neurosis than a "normal" person is to his sanity.

This is for complex reasons related to the manner in which mind parasites function. For a full explanation, I'd have to take a lengthy detour into developmental psychoanalysis, but the main idea is that it is unnecessary for the developing mind to internalize the good, only the bad. The securely attached child is more adventurous, spontaneous, and free, whereas the insecure child becomes much more attached to the very source of his insecurity. You've probably heard the cliche that bereavement is generally much more complicated when the relationship was a negative or ambivalent one, and this is the reason why. In general, pathological relationships are kept in place by a host of unconscious tentacles with hidden agendas, reaching back and forth, holding the couple together with what might be called (-p), or negative passion.

You could say that pathological cultures are essentially exercises in collective (-p). I mean, if you can bypass your sheer horror for the moment, just consider this story from LGF, 'Honor Killing' Epidemic in Britain:

"Up to 17,000 women in Britain are being subjected to 'honour' related violence, including murder, every year, according to police chiefs.... And official figures on forced marriages are the tip of the iceberg, says the Association of Chief Police Officers. It warns that the number of girls falling victim to forced marriages, kidnappings, sexual assaults, beatings and even murder by relatives intent on upholding the 'honour' of their family is up to 35 times higher than official figures suggest.

"The crisis, with children as young as 11 having been sent abroad to be married, has prompted the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to call on British consular staff in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan to take more action to identify and help British citizens believed to be the victims of forced marriages in recent years."

The crisis has also also prompted the Archbishop of Canterbury to welcome the imposition of sharia law in Britain. At least the (mostly) homosexual ephebophile Catholic priests only harmed individuals. This loon wants to normalize abuse on a mass scale.

At any rate, Fukuyama was essentially updating the classical liberal ideal of history, or what Coons call darwhiggian evolution. It may be contrasted with the post-modern badeal of historical meaninglessness, which in turn, is actually similar to primitive cosmologies, which either view the cosmos as a cyclical and unprogressive pattern of “eternal return” or as a degenerate process of departure and increasing distance from an idyllic past. Only with the Hebrew approach to history did mankind begin to discern a vector or direction in history, and with it, a sense of history’s purpose. That is, for the first time, history was seen as trying to get somewhere, and was looked upon as somehow interacting with sOmething on a “vertical” plane -- a trans-subjective force which both intervened in history and drew human beings toward it.

Later, Christianity would develop an explicitly logoistic theory of history, embodying the belief in a literal descent of this vertical power into the stream of horizontal time, so as to forge a concrete link between the vertical and horizontal -- between spirit and flesh, time and eternity, O and (•). To say that "God became man" or "Word became flesh" is just another way of saying that the vertical -- the Absolute, timeless ground, outside time and anterior to manifestation -- poured itself into material form and chronological time -- not just in a single human being, but in the whole upward "flow" of humanity.

Only humans can serve as a bridge between the higher and lower planes that are manifest in the outward process of history. Indeed, this is our vocation and purpose: to nurture and grow the seed of eternity within the womb of time. (This is not dissimilar to the Jewish concept ofTikkun -- of participating in the repair and completion of God's creation.)

To contemporary observers, the life of Jesus, or of the Hebrew prophets, was invisible. This is highly instructive. That is, the most important and influential events in human history were completely undetected and overlooked by contemporary sophisticates. Rather, they were noticed only by a handful of provincial rubes who "saw" and "heard," not with their eyes and ears, but in a trans-cerebral, intuitive manner.

What great world-historical events are invisible to the jaded elites of the present? What great vertical energies are entering the world today, undetected by a spiritually oblivious mainstream media, so hypnotized by the spectacle of time and blind to the eternal? The MSM, in thrall to the tyranny of the momentary, doesn't just promote this or that stupid idea. Rather, being that "the medium is the message," its central message is always the same -- that the Aion is broken into a million little disconnected fragments; that the world is deeply bizarre, insane, and perversely anti-human; and yet, at the same time, as trivial and fleeting as the speed of a thumb on the remote control.

The world is always ending, but perpetually being reborn. If that weren't true, mankind would never have found the exit out of its closed circle of material and instinctual existence. I am reminded of a passage from Joseph Campbell's Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake:

"The Wake, in its lowest estimate, is a huge time capsule, a complete and permanent record of our age. If our society should go smash tomorrow (which Joyce implies, it may) one could find all of the pieces, together with the forces that broke them, in Finnegans Wake. The book is a kind of terminal moraine in which lie buried all the myths, programs, slogans, hopes, prayers, tools, educational theories, and theological bric-a-brac of the past millennium. And here, too, will be found the love that reanimates the debris. Joyce's moraine is not the brickdust but humus.... Through notes that finally become tuneable to our ears, we hear Joyce uttering his resilient, all-enjoying, all animating Yes, the Yes of things yet to come, a Yes from beyond every zone of disillusionment, such as few have had the heart to utter."

For somewhere hovering above the insanity of history is

The whole Truth. Nothing but the Truth. So ham, me God. We'll meet again. Up ahead, 'round the bend. The circle unbroken, by and by. A Divine Child, a godsend, a touch of infanity, a bloomin' Yes. --The Book of Petey

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Dregs of the Arkive

In keeping with my pledge to rummage through the entire knowa's arkive, I've even found some dusty old incomplete posts. This one from October 10, 2005, was apparently going to be called Christopher Dawson & the Judeo-Christian Innovation of History, before I turned my inattention elsewhere.

I had just finished reading a book called Dynamics of World History, and most of what follows are notes and quotes from the book. (Some of the passages that don't have quotation marks may actually be quotes, or close to them, but I don't have time to double-check.) I was struck by how similar Dawson -- the orthodox Catholic -- is to the orthodox Raccoon view.

Think of these scraps as the raw ingredients that would have made up a post. Or, alternatively, think of them as the bottom of the barrel, like the Beatles Anthology. Or just think of this as an open thread to discuss anything you want.

*****

Detail does not make history any more than random notes make harmony.

Metahistory: “Every historian has his metahistory... the best ones know it.”

“No historian need be taken seriously who claims that his only interest is the past itself... to dismiss a philosophy of history is a philosophy of history, if a paltry and inadvertent one.”

If every historical statement contains a statement about history itself, and if metaphysics is inescapable, the only matter at issue is whose metaphysics.

"Historical evidence is necessary for historical insight but not constitutive of it.... The fact does not tell the story; the story, as it were, tells the fact. It is the latter that gives pattern and meaning; it is the former that lacks meaning of its own."

“History and theology are nothing if not meditations on the nature of Time itself.”

the torrent of human custom
cosmocrats of the dark aeon
never make a god of your religion (or irreligion)
current contempt of religion is just a culturally conditioned product of a particular time & place. it will pass

God makes use of a barbarous semitic tribe -- not determined by merit or logic, but there you are. The odd thing is that the Jews thought they were carrying God down and forward into time, and they achieved it! Tide of history washed all else away, but left the Torah standing.

Cross = turning point of history, where vertical & horizontal meet.

Secular world is a prison in which the human spirit confines itself when it is shut out of the wider world of reality. But as soon as the celestial light breaks in, all the elaborate mechanisms that have been constructed for living in the dark become useless.... no need for canes, braille, seeing eye dogs, etc. The recovery of spiritual vision confers spiritual freedom, because you can move around in hyperspace.

Actor in history is like a captain of a ship in the fog, driven by winds & current, trying to navigate by chart & compass. Where is the captain trying to go?

"... for the world is ruled by powers that it does not know, and the men who appear to be the makers of history are in reality its creatures.”

“Metahistory is concerned with the nature of history, the meaning of history and the cause and significance of historical change. The historian himself is primarily engaged in the study of the past. He does not ask himself why the past is different from the present or what is the meaning of history as a whole."

Escape from circular maze of pagan thought: “Humanity had an absolute beginning and travels to an absolute goal. There can be no return. That which is begun in time ends in eternity. Hence time is not a perpetually revolving image of eternity; it is an irreversible process moving in a definite direction.”

Augustine: time is not simply motion. It is in the soul -- it is spiritual extension. Therefore, cosmos is spirit extended. The past is the soul’s remembrance, the present its attention, the future its anticipation.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Sit Down and Shut Up!, or Cultivating (o) and (–) [2.03.10]

Be quiet and know that I am God. --Psalms 46:10 (New Life Version)

SHUT UP! SIT DOWN! (Ben Stern Version)

Our God says, "Calm down, and learn that I am God!" (Contemporary English Version)

Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream. (John, Album 7, Track 14)

Be still, and know that I am God. (New International Version)

Own a still, and it's much easier to do that. (Cousin Dupree's Version)

Cease striving and know that I am God. (New American Standard)

Have Slack and know that I AM. (Dobbs Version)

Rishi does it. Take your shoes off & set a spell. Relux & call it a deity. Disbeaware we disappear (who hesychasts is lost). (Petey's OM Version)

Next up in the arkive is this one, originally called Weekend Sermon: Advanced Leisure Studies. At the time I started the blog, I was writing mostly about politics, as do other Uncle Fromms such as Dr. Sanity and Shrinkwrapped. I guess I was reluctant to let 'er rip, spiritually speaking, because I didn't know if there would be any audience for the Way of the Coon, and whether the introduction of overt spirituality would alienate my already tiny audience. Which it eventually did. The political red meat was always more popular.

So I floated the idea of writing about spiritual matters once a week, just to mix things up a bit. There were only a few comments, most of which were mine, so that wasn't very encouraging. However, one commenter -- oddly, I don't recall him ever commenting again -- lavished the highest possible praise, writing,

Sir, I believe you are a Christian Subgenius.

Well. This humble Bob does not expect to be compared to the One True Bob or to his Church, which offers the following formulation:

THE SOURCE: JEHOVAH-1
THE TEACHER: J.R. "BOB" DOBBS
THE GOAL: SLACK
THE OBSTACLE: THE CONSPIRACY AND ITS DUPES, THE NORMALS
THE WAY: THE CASTING OUT OF FALSE PROPHETS
THE WEAPON: TIME CONTROL

In truth, Raccoons do not deviate far from this template, as our spiritual program of evolving toward the Infinite Slack of the transcendent I AM cannot be separated from our worldly struggle against flatland leftist conspiracy dupes who are all about diminishing and stealing our spiritual, intellectual, political, and financial Slack. Not to mention the false prophets of the New Age, such as Deepak Chopra and his oily ilk.

Anyway, this was my first overtly "spiritual" post, in which I attempted to perform a Bobectomy on my ego in real time while engaging in spontaneous (for it can only be spontaneous) O-->(n). But I don't think I fell headwrong and heartlong into that method on a day-to-day basis until around six months later, in the spring of 2006. We'll have to wait and see, as we presumably move through the arkive.

*****

The Advanced Leisure Studies below the title of this blog (not there anymore) is not a gag. In fact, there is nothing more serious and important than leisure. The Catholic philosopher Josef Pieper wrote a classic little book on the topic, noting that the very possibility of culture rested on a foundation of leisure -- a sphere of activity that was entirely detached from our immediate wants and needs, free from practical or political considerations -- free from the tyranny of the horizontal.

For leisure is the gateway to the timeless, to the Vertical Church of Perpetual Slack -- that is, if you are able to slow down your thoughts long enough to locate one of the little springs dotting the landscape of your mind, pleasantly bubbling down from above. If your religion is working for you, it is because it has helped you tap into one of these springs.

In his book, Pieper points out that the word for leisure in Greek is skole, and in Latin, scola, both meaning "school." Therefore, leisure, properly understood, is a school, an unhurried realm where some sort of learning takes place; a mystery school, as it were.

Leisure gives access to the unmoved mover within, the still point of the turning mind, the sabbit hole we may enter, not by grasping and struggling, but by opening and receiving. It doesn't mean not doing anything. Rather, it means doing nothing, even in the midst of doing something -- returning to the pregnant Nothing from whence you came, even now. It is to quiet the mind, withdraw from the world, and open oneSelf to energies that do not emanate from time, but from the timeless.

The external world forces us to dance to its jagged rhythms, but here, at the center, is the leisurely rhythm of eternity, against which thoughts are like passing birds. In fact, this is all you need know in order to unKnow what we're talking about:

Body Like Mountain
Mind Like Sky
Thoughts Like Clouds

As memory reflects the past, silence is like a mirror that reflects and makes present the above, whether it is called heaven, brahman, tao, nirvana, moksha, the One. With all due respect, merely believing in God is a weak substitute. Better to know God, because that is how he ex-ists, that is "stands out" from his otherwise hidden ground. Only humans can manifest the unmanifest God.

The book of Genesis tells the story of our fall. It may be interpreted in many ways, but one way is to see it as a fall away from the timeless, vertical dimension of spontaneous communion with the Creator and the enjoyment of Boundless Slack, into the horizontal world of sweat, toil, pain and frenzied activity. Interestingly, even the Creator, after six days of activity, stood back, relaxed, and just enjoyed the show. From what they say, it was good. Like him, we must occasionally relux and call it a deity.

Science searches for the horizontal beginning of the cosmos. That beginning is located at the outskirts of the material world, where we may trace the faint exhalations of the Big Bong. Spirituality searches in the opposite direction for the vertical center and source of the cosmos, which is located deep within each person, slightly to the north. It may be thought of as the "I" that is to "AM" as Life is to Matter. It is what makes Being come alive. It is what makes you a Lumin Being instead of the slithery kind that keeps messing up the Garden, Homo serpentine.

Friday, February 08, 2008

A Curse in Manacles

If we apply yesterday's abstract conical caper to the herebelow, we can see how it relates to the triangulated war for the future of civilization that is currently taking place between Islam, Western European socialism, and American style classical liberalism, i.e., World War IV (which Petey says is really the dénouement of Cosmic War I).

As such, it would be a mistake to view this tri-light struggle in terms of three competing ideologies on a horizontal plane. Rather, like most important world-historical events, this war is fundamentally taking place in vertical historical space, but just working itself out in the horizontal -- very much like a personal neurosis, which has its source in the timeless "lower vertical" realm of the unconscious, but plays itself out in one's actions, relationships, etc. The horizontal is the vertical "extended," so to speak.

I hope it's obvious to the reader that we are dealing in huge generalities, without which thought is impossible. For example, to say that "Nazi Germany was evil" is not to say that every single German in 1940 was evil.

Likewise, when we talk about socialist Europe, we know full well that a remnant of flinty Coons still survive there with their usual genetic endowment of gravel in the guts and the spit in the eye, such as Johan the Cosmic Swede or Magnus Noorwegenkøønen. And America is overrun with spiritually naughty zeros and zeroines who dream of underminding the robust cardiocerebral principles upon which America was founded.

With that caveat in mind, you may view the United States and its spiritual allies as ideally reflecting a transcendent position above (the "shining city on a hill"), the Western Europeans occupying a fully immanent one on the two dimensional plane in between (the multicultural rainbow of absolute relativism), and the Islamists down below, in a transcendently dark and evil and infrahuman principality. The latter are mere the puppets of the Asura.

Importantly, this infrahuman domain is not to be confused with the animal realm, for there is no animal that would give its life for a transcendently evil cause, as do Islamists. Most of the real wholesale evil in history is caused by groups inhabiting this lower vertical area. Moreover, just as there are messiahs, avatars, and vibhutis who descend to earth and embody the upper transcendent to accomplish a divine mission, there are "avatars of evil" who embody and give voice to the lower vertical: bin Laden, Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, et al. The uncoony and preternatural power of such men is transhuman (even if subhuman), and cannot be explained by recourse to any mere human psychology.

If there is an animal-human realm, then it is actually the purely immanent-horizontal space occupied by Western Europe. Although they think of us as "selfish" because of our low taxes and smaller government, it is actually the other way around. Although superficially socialism may appear to be more humane, Mark Steyn points out that "nothing makes a citizen more selfish than socially equitable communitarianism: Once a fellow enjoys the fruits of government health care and all the rest, he couldn't give a hoot about the broader social interest; he's got his, and if it's going to bankrupt the state a generation hence, well, as long as they can keep the checks coming till he's dead, it's fine by him." In this sense, Social democracy is eventually "explicitly anti-social" (NR, 11-7-05).

There is a further corrosion of the soul that takes place with European style socialism, in that, because it elevates material desires to the highest, it cynically cuts the heart out of any transcendent view of the world, anything beyond the immediate animal senses. Thus, humanism spells the end of the human vocation. As Steyn explains, it perversely elevates secondary priorities such as mandated six week vacations over primary ones such as family, national defense, and spiritual attainment. And change is almost impossible, because the great majority have become dependent on government, which causes a sort of "adherence" to horizontal. You cannot rouse the ideals of a nation that has lost its ideals. Any politician who threatens the entitlement system cannot get elected in Western Europe. The situation is analogous to an addict who has given over his power to the pusher.

By attempting to create the perfect society on earth through government coercion, it actually diminishes our humanity, since it relieves human beings of having to exert the continual moral effort to make the world a better place, as this is only possible by maintaining contact with the realm of transcendent moral ideals. In other words, European socialism is actually a flight from morality, thereby making people less humane, not more. It is a bogus kind of freedom, because it merely frees one from the vertical while condemning one to the horizontal. As Pope Benedict has written,

I am convinced that the destruction of transcendence is the actual amputation of human beings from which all other sicknesses flow. Robbed of their real greatness they can only find escape in illusory hopes.... The loss of transcendence evokes the flight to utopia.

As summarized in Meditations on the Tarot, the human being is always faced with the choice between two basic attitudes or outlooks: that of existential being or that of essential Being. According to the choice he makes, he is either "orphaned" in the purely material, deterministic and horizontal realm with no reality higher than the individual self; or, his individual being is grounded in the more essential, trans-subjective Being which is his true home. The cynical European existentialist lives shackled in the Egyptian "house of bondage," in manacles forged by the deterministic/materialistic outlook, whereby one is imprisoned in a fully material reality, alienated from the spiritual source of our Being. That is, no vertical causes can arise in the closed chain of cause and effect, so that one is truly in bondage as it pertains to the moral/spiritual realm.

From the existential outlook follows a host of disastrous ideas, such as class determines consciousness, poverty causes crime, free will is an illusion, private property is theft, hierarchy is evil, the vertical dimension is a hoax to keep you oppressed, and worst of all, the idea that a coercive state is needed to enforce equality (vs. the American belief in a Creator who endows us with spiritual liberty which it is government's primary job to protect). The freedom of mere animal passion forges the fetters that bind Western Europe to its horizontal wasteland.

And this is why efforts to appease and buy off the Islamists will never succeed, since the Islamists are every bit as idealistic as the United States -- only in the infrahuman realm.

*****

A while back, Yasser Arafat penned these new sophisticated lyrics that he was hoping Diana Krall would incorporate into her version. Turns out he was a big fan. Who knew?

Don't be a brave man, we want you to cave, man
Don’t try to weasel me, just appeasel me
Either you accomodate, or we detonate
I’m getting angry, now give me a state!

Show me you fear me, make sure you hear me
Best way to cheer me, don't let a Jew near me
Hop when I threaten, is that your pants you're wettin'?
I’m getting angry, now give me a state!

Here’s how to be an agreeable Gaul
Love us and leave us with Sharia law
Wine me and dine me, then Palestine me,
I'm getting angry, now give me a state!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

A Conical Caper About Conservative Progressives and the Reactionary Left

Sorry about the abrupt segue, but I'm just dipping into the arkive, and this was the next post, now edited and fortified with extra gagdaddery.

*****

One nation under God? I don't know if I like that, for it all depends on the meaning of "One." As Coleridge put it, "two very different meanings lurk in the word, one."

In his not-yet-published book, The Pledge of Allegiance & The Star Spangled Banner: A Patriot's Primer on the American Spirit, author John White expresses ideas that are eerily similar to mine. In fact, it's almost as if he read my book or something. While anything is possible, it seems unlikely, since he's my literary agent.

White writes that, like us, the Taliban and the Islamists firmly believe in One Nation Under God. After all they speak of the “nation of Islam,” and are calling for an Islamic theocracy. "What," he asks, "distinguishes the terrorists’ version of nationhood from ours?"

The differences, says White, begin and end with concepts found in the Declaration of Independence, our founding document. There it is affirmed "that God is the source of our liberty, our sovereignty, our rights, our justice and our human dignity," and that "the purpose of government -- which exists legitimately only when it has the consent of the governed -- is to guarantee those blessings are not violated because each individual citizen is sacred and sovereign." In short, "The individual is sovereign because of our spiritual nature; the state may never violate that."

So it doesn't matter whether or not you believe in God, because you benefit from his blessings just the same. All you bitter atheists out there will just have to get over it and resign yourself to living under a theocracy. Except that this "theo" is first situated in, and refracted through, the individual, not the government.

As White expresses it, "America is a theocracy because it is governed by God through the total population of our divinely guided citizenry who are the true heads of state and who are educated in the religio-moral ideals, principles and values of our society." Anyone who denies this truth cannot be a progressive, because "the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule [by] the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction cannot lay claim to progress. They are reactionary."

THE BLACK GOD OF THE LEFT

The difference between conservative progressives and reactionary leftists is that they worship different gods -- or more precisely, they have entirely incompatible understandings of the meaning of One. There is an antinomy between these two Ones: there is a left One and a right One -- or more precisely, a higher One and a lower one.

In Meditations on the Tarot -- which I assume all Raccoons have read and assimilated by now -- you will recall that the author uses a visual image to conceptualize the problem. Imagine two cones placed base to base, one pointing up, the other down. Thus, similar to Miss Anne Elk's important theory of the brontosaurus, this new object has one point at the top, a much thicker "equator" in the middle, and then another point at the bottom. The image is his, it belongs to him, and he owns it. I'm just borrowing it.

Now, get the image of a brontosaurus out of your mind, and imagine this object as a sort of crystal. At the top is the “white point” where pure light -- which is the synthesis of all colors -- enters. As the light moves down toward the equator it becomes more and more differentiated into the various colors of the spectrum, until they reach their maximum degree of separation and intensity at the equator. Moving further down, the colors begin to merge and blend until, at the bottom point, they once again lose all of their distinction. But here they become black, which represents the blending and confusion of all colors. As such, there is one sort of synthesis or Oneness above (the white point) but an entirely different kind of oneness below (the black point): O vs. ø

The white point is analogous to wisdom, for it represents the underlying unity of all the different types of knowledge available at the equator, where all of the individual colors represent various disciplines and sciences. It is where the light of divine love breaks into the maninfestation and where beauty is the splendor of the true. "All that is true, by whosoever spoken, is from the Holy Spirit" (St. Ambrose).

This image symbolically discloses the central purpose of both this blog and my book, both of which are mine and belong to me. Indeed, this is what I was hoping to coonvey in the book's full title: One Cosmos Under God: The Unification of Matter, Life, Mind and Spirit. That is, the synthesis of all our seemingly contradictory truths lies “above,” toward the white light of wisdom, not below, beyond the black point of matter.

If two seemingly contradictory things are true -- say, the Book of Genesis and the theory of evolution -- then their common source of truth must be found above, not below. There is surely a way to resolve the contradiction, but not by finding a compromise between the two at the "equator," much less by simply confusing and blending them together below.

For example, teaching intelligent design as an adjunct or alternative to natural selection is simply adding another color to the equator. Even worse, teaching it as the only truth would take both the Creator and science down to the black point, merging and blending science and theology in an unhealthy way. In fact, this is what is done in the Islamic world. Yes, they have intellectual and spiritual unity there, but it is the bad unity of the black point: One Nation Under God’s Boot Heel, so to speak. The identical thing happens in secular totalitarian states, where diversity is not permitted. What we want is to allow maximum diversity but to synthesize it at higher level, not eliminate it on a lower one: this is the meaning of One Cosmos Under God.

Ironically, the secular left in America regard their fellow religious citizens as an incipient Taliban that wishes to enforce a black-point unity, when the opposite is true.

That is, for the secular left, there is no white point above or black point below. Rather, there is only the equator, where we all live in our beautiful, diverse cultures and subcultures, none better than any other: multiculturalism, moral relativism, no objective or "privileged" truth. And yet, multiculturalism and diversity are enforced from on high, despite the fact that the left supposedly does not recognize the existence of morally superior cultural perspectives. What’s going on, Marvin? You know, we've got to find a way / To bring some lovin' here today.

In reality, the left is enforcing their absolute black point god, but simply denying it. They don't really care what culture you're from, so long as you are committed to diversity itself, and intolerant of any other view. This is nothing less than the unwholly god of the black point flexing its flabby tenured muscle while pretending to be just another beautiful color in the rainbow.

In reality, there is no absolute system at the equator that can synthesize knowledge and explain our existence. There is only diversity and contradiction there, which is as it should be. Otherwise there would be no creation, nothing separate from the Creator. However, it is only the white light above that illuminates and unites everything below. We must maintain an allegiance to the absolute white light that is reflected in all the relative truths at the equator, not to this or that relative or half-truth enforced absolutely by leftist medullards from below. For that is how the beautiful rainbow devolves into a reignbelow.

As the ancient authors put it, there is no knowledge which should not pass into love. There is no knowledge which should not go beyond the mind and reach to the very source of the mind -- the heart -- the "heart" understood in its Indian meaning (which was Pascal's too) as the center of being, the place where God abides. --Dom Henri LeSaux/Swami Abhishiktananda

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Jewish Yoga, or Abrahman Linkin'

I apologize in advaitance if some of what you are about to read isn't exactly kosher. Certainly it has little in common with the beliefs and practices of the secular Jewish family I happened to marry into, which mostly revolve around eating and arguing, and arguing about where to eat. True, they are Jewish, but what they really are is Orthodox Democrats. Yes, I suppose they venerate the Torah, just not as much as the New York Times.

I was actually married by a rabbi at a time when I knew next to nothing about Judaism, but the unfamiliarity and novelty of the ceremony made it all the more meaningful for me. I was immediately struck in a completely unexpected way by the wisdom and holiness embodied in the rabbi's words, and ever since then I have always included Judaism in my coonfused and polymonotheistic approach to Spirit. And I have taken the rabbi's words to heart, for I always try to avoid paying retail.

I forget who it was, but someone once said that Judaism is an esoterism masquerading as an exotericism. What they meant is that Judaism begins where the ancient mystery cults ended, with the revelation of the one true God. In the mystery cults of ancient Greece, the experience of the One was only disclosed to dedicated initiates who had demonstrated an ability to receive and assimilate the teaching. But in Judaism, this ultimate One is simply declared from the get-go. Now let's eat!

Nevertheless, it cannot be forgotten that the positing of this (beyond) One is not merely a dogma, but an experience -- an experience vouchsafed to Moses on Sinai, as well as others before and since. In this regard, it is not dissimilar to Vedanta, in that the Upanishads simply record direct encounters with the ultimate Mystery. Religions are organized ways of remembering and celebrating these encounters, but according to Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, "entrances to holiness are everywhere. The Possibility of ascent is all the time."

While religions formalize (and properly so) the entrances through which we may slip into these realms of experience, strictly speaking, they are always there. To cite just one obvious example, it is incumbent upon each Jew to personally have the experience of being liberated from enslavement to the death-cult of Egypt in the present moment. Nevertheless, most people require forms in order to enter the formless.

To become aware of these entrances into wholly liberation is to draw closer to the Creator. Allegorically, we enjoyed a continuous oneness with the Creator in Eden. However, this was not unity but oneness, something not really as lofty as unity, for unity requires our separateness from God, but then reconciliation at a higher, more complex and differentiated level, not a lower one of mere undifferentiated blending -- as children are first "blended" with their parents before becoming separate.

This gives human beings a special role in creation, as we become the link, or semipermeable menbrains, between God and creation -- but only if we meet the divine world halfway and are transformed by it herebelow. Again, according to Rabbi Kushner, returning to the source "means to unify the inner world and the outer world" -- that is, to unite the cosmos by actually bringing the upper world into the lower, and vice versa: "The name of God is the Name of the Unity of All Being." (Again, Unity, not oneness.)

In Vedanta there are actually "two" Brahmans, one called Nirguna Brahman, the other Saguna Brahman. Nirguna Brahman refers to the absolute, unqualified, impersonal divine essence itself, whereas Saguna Brahman is God with attributes, including the personal God (ultimately, of course, these are not two different beings).

As a matter of fact, this accords perfectly with kabbalistic Judaism, which posits the Ain Sof, or ultimate, unknowable, limitless and infinite Godhead. There is a God that manifests various aspects of itself here below, but an infinite unknowable Divine that is beyond all limits of name, form, or conceptualizing. For example, Torah may be thought of as the body of the unknowable God -- the bones, structure, blueprint, or DNA. It is a sort of Saguna Brahman, or God with attributes. (And this also accords with Orthodox Christianity, i.e., Gregory Palamas' distinction between God's essence and energies.)

According to Jewish tradition, there was both a written Torah and an oral one transmitted to Moses on Sinai. However, the oral one was partially lost, and had to be reconstructed by the sages on the basis of their study of the written Torah. While one Torah is written with black fire on white fire, the second Torah was written with white letters in the white spaces in between. This invisible Torah is "lit up" through the contemplation of a great sage in dialogue with the written one. As Schuon explains it, this clearly shows a kind of "vertical" gnosis operating on the horizontal continuity of the Torah.

Another legend holds that God gave the Torah during the "daytime," and the mishnah, or interpretation and commentary, at night. This latter can again be understood as a different kind of consciousness that is brought to bear on scripture -- a gnocturnal, dreamlike, or intuitive sort of consciousness that must be entered in order for Torah to disclose its hyperdense meaning to one who wishes to unlock its deeper secrets. While the Torah is literally infinite, beyond, time, space and eternity, mishnah is inexhaustible in a different, "relative" manner, in the sense that contemplation of the infinite Torah yields an endless bounty of wisdom in time. If Torah is the infinite ocean, mishnah is more like an endless river flowing out of it and back into it.

In other words, the sage inhabits the dialectical space between the infinite Torah and its inexhaustible expression of itself in time. Nothing is absolutely fixed, and there is no end to it. Yes, the Torah is Absolute, and yet, it has no particular meaning until a sage enters its world and particularizes it in time and space. This, I believe, is what it means to live in the desert bewilderness. Like Abraham, we are simply told to "go to a land I will show to you." This is that land -- or dimension. On the one hand, it is a world of doubt and uncertainty, and yet, on the other, it is a world of ceaseless truth flowing vertically through the Torah. It is to perpetually wrestle with God, which is the true meaning of Israel. Don't worry if you don't believe. Just keep wrasslin,' and you'll be fine.

The first law of Judaism is that (paraphrasing), "you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and and all your strength." This is remarkably similar to what is expressed in the Bhagavad Gita, which essentially takes the Upanishads and outlines its principles in the form of a dialogue between the avatar, Krishna, and a prince, Arjuna. There Krishna describes the various ways to God, that is, the different yogas, which include Bhakti yoga, Raja yoga, Karma yoga and Jnana yoga. Each is suited to a particular personality style, but they all have the purpose of helping us to transcend our own limited egoic framework in order to know God.

Bhakti yoga, for example, is the practice of heartfelt, loving devotion to God, or "loving the lord with all your heart." Jnana yoga is the yoga of intellectual contemplation, essentially identical to "loving the lord with all your soul" or mind. Karma yoga is the yoga of works, or activities in the world. In fact, "loving the lord with all your strength" has been interpreted to mean working "for God" with hands and body, doing something to make the world a better place. For many rank-and-file Jews, their practice is one of Karma yoga ("Tikkun"), while Christianity often emphasizes the Bhakti element -- love of the personal Jesus. But the point is that both Judaism and Christianity are all-purpose religions, and it is easy to discern all of the yogas in each.

The last yoga, Raja yoga, is the yoga of meditation, and it too is present in both Christianity and Judaism, although perhaps not emphasized enough. Properly understood, prayer is precisely a way to stand in your heart before God, expecting nothing except for contact and intimacy with the Divine. According to Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, prayer "is not only an articulation of certain words, but also a key and a sort of ladder on which a person may reach from level to level" toward the Divine.

At the highest level of receptivity, one may become an instrument of revelation, very similar to one who has recognized the Atman within. In Judaism, each person is believed to contain a divine spark at the center of his being, somewhat like a line of light between part and whole. As Steinsaltz describes it, this part contains the whole, but "the soul's essential wholeness cannot be achieved except through effort, through work with the greater whole." In other words, it must be realized.

In the Torah, God tells Moses that "you shall not see my face and live." Turning this around, it may be interpreted to mean that one must die in order to see God's face. However, this doesn't necessarily mean literal death, but the death of the ego's limited perspective of separation and self-sufficiency. Ultimate reality, or Ain Sof, means "without end," or utter nothingness. To achieve ego death means to enter this Divine Nothingness, which, paradoxically, is complete fulfillment.

In my book, One Cosmos Under God, there is a quote to the effect that sparks of holiness are imprisoned in the stuff of creation, and that these sparks yearn to be reunited with their source. Teshuva is the word for this urge to return to our source. Likewise, in Vedanta, all of our wishes, hopes and desires are really confused substitutes that mask the yearning of the Atman, our personal soul, to reunite with Brahman, the unitary source of all that is.

So when purusha comes teshuva, that's what life is all about.

*****

These are wonderful books if you want to get a handle on Jewish esoterism in a remarkably accessible style. Although thoroughly Jewish, they are also, like Schuon, quite universal: