Sunday, March 23, 2008

Petey's Easter Message: Hooray! Surrection!

This is just a rambling compilation of past Easter posts. Not sure if they make much sense or even nonsense. I'll let you decide.

***

Here it is, the religious unday of them all, the sonny dei that commemorates the undoing of what was did way back when, on that dark and sinny day in the park. Remama? You knew the One. Around Eve, it was. It's a hiss & her story, he shed we dead, but insurrection comes to resurrection in the serpentine foulness of time, at the bar of history. So a beery Hoppy Yeaster to you ale, the whole brewed!

Aside from that, what can one possibly say about Easter that hasn't been said in the past 1975 years, give or take? Somehow, despite all that has been said and written about it for hundreds and hundreds of years, there is always more to say. It is incapable of becoming saturated. You think you're looking at it, but it is always looking through you. It is actually a means with which to look at the the world, especially the deep vertical world.

Because of its specifically "unsaturatable" quality, we can never really comprehend a divine revelation, in the literal sense of "wrapping our understanding" around it. Rather, try as we might, it is always comprehending us. Furthermore, paradoxically, the more of it we comprehend, the more it comprehends us.

How can this be? It is the reverse of becoming an "expert" at something. An expert knows everything about something that is ultimately about nothing. But spiritual growth involves the constant rediscovery that you know what amounts to nothing about the ultimate something. You are a lifetime apprentice, apophatic nonentity. It is constantly instructing you.

Mouravieff writes that unless one is unusually saintly, one will not be able to travel the path of the Way without a kind of death, "without first passing through an interior bankruptcy; a moral collapse." Paradoxically -- but not really -- Mouravieff notes that for most men, "success and joy, instead of awakening them, plunge them into mental sleep." Thus, "from the esoteric point of view, disagreeable shocks are a better base for work than happy accidents."

For one thing, these shocks will tend to ground one in the sense of humility that is demanded of anyone on the spiritual path. Best to start off broken than to fall from a much greater height later on. When we fall, we only fall back to the ground. For those who believe themselves to be high above the ground, the height is only in their imagination anyway.

A number of Coons have mentioned recently that they have been undergoing a sort of "reversal," in which worldly things that used to interest and excite them no longer do so. It is not a transformation they have consciously willed, but it is simply happening of its own accord. It seems that this is an inevitable consequence of increasingly living one's life in the light of the Real or Absolute. It is the death of one mode of being, accompanied by the birth of another.

2000 years ago, Rome certainly represented the world. It had always been and would always be, and it certainly would not tolerate someone who presumed to live -- and taught others how to live -- outside its strict boundaries. But like everything else on the horizontal plane, Rome had a beginning and an end. However, the vertical principle they attempted to extinguish proved to be only a beginning, as it always is.

For horizontal man, there truly is no exit to their absurcular existence. The cosmos is a closed circle with no doorway in, up, or out. Life is a straight line with a period at the end of the death sentence. Period.

In manifesting his celestial nature on earth, Jesus did not seem particularly concerned about making it fully intelligible, at least in words. After all, that's why we're still talking and arguing about it two thousand years later. He simply incarnated his cosmic destiny and largely left it for others to figure out. What did it all mean? What could it possibly mean?

Rudolf Steiner wrote something to the effect that "the secrets of the Mysteries became wholly manifest in Christianity."

An anonymous Greek Orthodox theologian remarked that "We do not ask whether or not the resurrection happened. It is the horizon in which we live." Dwelling within this vertical horizon is a way to contemplate reality at its deepest level -- a level that is well beyond mere discursive thought. I'm not sure if this is fully kosher, but I understand the Father as the eternally transcendent aspect of God, the Son as the immanent aspect. How to reconcile them?

Perhaps they were only ever separated by the illusory veil of death. It is said that upon Jesus’ death, the temple veil was rent vertically from top to bottom. The resurrection is reality unveiled, which is to say reveiled, for it is a mysterious new veil with which to engage reality and to reconcile its ultimate terms.

The Catholic theologian von Balthasar wrote that "truth is the unconcealment of being, while... the someone to whom being is unconcealed is God."

In a similar vein, Lucy Beckett writes that "If God does not exist, the transcendent has been wiped away, there is no longer a vertical axis for the human soul, but only a horizontal, that is, a historical, axis for the human mind. More particularly, the vertical never crossed the horizontal in the Incarnation."

Nor in us. Now that would be a real inconveyance, not to mention, folly -- to be up to Greek without any kenosis.

Friday, March 21, 2008

A Courageous Discussion of Race in the Cosmos

Race is either of critical importance, as believed by the left, or of no consequence at all, as believed by conservative classical liberals. I fall into the latter category, one more reason why I could not in good conscience remain a rank-and-foul member of the race-obsessed Democrat party.

Sounds quaint, but I was raised to believe that categorizing people by race is a pernicious act, and in my day-to-day dealings with people, I have always judged them on the basis of their competency and their politeness. And maybe their smell. Public figures are different, in that we don't really care how they smell, but must assess them on the basis of their ideas and their impact on the macro arena, not just their outward behavior in the realm of the micro. Thus, it should go without saying that there are many people I routinely consign to hell on this blog, but with whom I could be quite friendly if they were my neighbor. I get along with everyone. No one has ever seen my irascible side, except in print.

Now, Raccoons are, as we know, bicosmic; which is not just a "fancy" way, but the proper way, of saying that we are in the world but not of the world. As the new age gag goes, we are not material beings having a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings having a material experience. Which is true of everyone -- well, almost everyone, a few soulless asuras of the material realm notwithstanding. The difference is, a Raccoon doesn't just know this formula, but lives it from the inside out.

Like all people, we have (at least) two subjectivities, one "horizontal," the other "vertical" (the horizontal self can have numerous subjectivities, i.e., mind parasites). We can look at this from many angles, even the purely neurological, if you want to be reductionistic about it.

That is to say, we have a left brain and a right brain, each with a very different way of processing information and a very different sense of self. I don't want to oversimplify, but you could even say that the left cerebral hemisphere is the realm of the ego, while the right hemisphere is the realm of the Self. Any comprehensive definition of humanness -- or any real sense of what it's like to be human -- would have to include both. Like so many apparent dualities, it is actually a complementarity; in fact, more than a complementarity, a synthesis. The higher functioning person will, in my opinion, have the more comprehensive synthesis of "left and right," neurologically speaking.

Back when I was in graduate school, I had to undergo psychoanalytic therapy as a requirement of the program. As such, it was part therapeutic, part pedagogic. In one of the first sessions, as I lay there on the couch idly shooting the breeze with myself, verbalizing whatever bobbled up into my head, my analyst interrupted my reveries and asked something to the effect of, "Do you know what you're doing?"

"Excuse me?"

"Do you know what you're trying to do, what this is all about?"

"Blaming my mother for all my problems?"

"No, you're trying to disable your left brain so as to allow the right brain to speak. That's where the unconscious is. We're interrogating the right brain, taking its deposition, getting its view of things."

Later, when I read about the neurobiology of emotional development in Allan Schore's magisterial Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self, I learned that this left-right distinction wasn't only "in a manner of speaking," or just a new scientific mythunderstanding. Rather, if you will turn to page 112 of your Coonifesto, you will see where it is written,

"Strange as it may sound, immature babies interact with mothers in such a way as to use them as an 'auxiliary cortex' for the purpose of downloading programs from her brain into his.... Of note, this 'downloading' mostly occurs in the nonverbal right brain, which develops earlier than the syntactically organized left brain, and is dominant during the first two or three years of life. Furthermore, recent research indicates that early experience lays down many deep connections between the right brain and the emotional limbic system, so that it is fairly clear that the 'unconscious' is located in the right cerebral hemisphere.

"The right brain is where early traumas take root, where disowned parts of the self reside undetected by language and linear logic, where the parents' unconscious conflicts are imported, where the deepest psychosomatic representation of oneself endures, where dysregulated systems are locked in, and where 'mind parasites' and other ghostly psychotoxins hide out."

So you see, I was right all along. It was my mother's fault.

Now, what does any of this have to do with race?

I don't know yet. Let me think.

One of my self-imposed life challenges -- I know, you should have such problems -- is to try to recooncile science and religion, and then religion and psychoanalysis. It's not easy, but I never stop trying. For example, Schuon, whom I revere in so many ways, detested psychoanalysis and certainly thought of modern science as a gross aberration insofar as its pernicious effect on man's understanding of his place and role in the cosmic drama. In that regard, I guess I can relate to Obama, because I could no more abandon Schuon than I could my white psychoanalyst.

Let's forget about left and right brains for the moment, and coonceptualize our bicosmic nature from a different angle. Schuon writes that "it is impossible to escape our subjectivity, precisely because we exist; the most deified man is an individual, parallel to what we may call his divine state" (emphasis mine). He continues: "The fact is that man has two subjectivities: the ego and the intellect; the ego follows the divine attraction within the limits of its nature -- it can do nothing else -- whereas the intellect, also in accordance with its nature, opens itself to the Principle and realizes it; both ways combine while remaining independent of each other" (emphasis yours).

Very interesting. Two ways of knowing the world, each independent of the other. However, one of the purposes of the spiritual life -- being that the efficient and final cause of the spiritual life is unity in diversity and diversity in unity -- is to bring the two modes together in a harmonious union. Or, as Schuon puts it, "to the extent that we understand metaphysics -- to this very extent we shall spontaneously be capable of seeing the principle in the Manifestation, Atma in Maya.... [For] he who knows transcendence will know immanence."

Yes, he will be a bloody Raccoon, for he will be bicosmic. He will see eternity in a grain of sand, which is another way of saying that he sees the Subject in every object, even while seeing that the Subject contains the object within its own substance. That's what we call 20-20 cOOnvision.

Now, back to Obama, who is psychically "unraveling" in public. Obama is quite clearly a man with no center. Or to be precise, he has (at least) two "horizontal" centers, which by definition means no center at all. He is not just callow and immature, which is self-evident, but he is searching for his missing center while using us as props. Again I will defer to Schuon:

"To be normal is to be homogeneous, and to be homogeneous is to have a center. A normal man is one whose tendencies are, if not altogether univocal, at least concordant; that is, sufficiently concordant to serve as a vehicle for that decisive center which we may call the sense of the Absolute.... The tendency towards the Absolute, for which we are made, is difficult to realize in a heteroclite soul; a soul lacking a center, precisely, and by that fact contrary to its reason for being. Such a soul is a priori a 'house divided against itself,' thus destined to fall eschatologically speaking."

And politically speaking as well. For the problem is not that Obama is "biracial." Again, that is of no consequence. Rather, the man has two horizontal centers, and his left brain doesn't know what his wright brain is doodooing.

Mankind upon earth is one foremost self-expression of the universal Being in His cosmic self-unfolding; he expresses, under the conditions of the terrestrial world he inhabits, the mental power of the universal existence....

But within this general nature and general destiny of mankind each individual human being has to follow the common aim on the lines of his own nature and to arrive at his possible perfection by a growth from within.... [T]he group self has no right to regard the individual as if he were only a cell of its body, a stone in its edifice, a passive instrument of its collective life and growth
. --Sri Aurobindo

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Herd of Independent Minds and Life at the Periphery of Nothing

I was doing the usual "morning rounds," checking in on the blogs I consider indispensable (most of which are in the sidebar), when I happened upon a brief reference at PowerLine to David Mamet's recent confession about his conversion from "brain-dead liberalism" to reality. "Mamet's rejection of 'brain-dead liberalism' is the rebellion of the thinking man against the herd of independent minds."

I guess the coffee hadn't yet flipped the on switch of the frontal lobes, because my first thought was, "hmm, typo. They must mean dependent minds," given the dreary uniformity of liberal thought.

But then the penny dropped and I came to my cents. "Oh, I get it. Duh." What an arresting phrase for an alert copper: The herd of independent minds. Who is responsible for this coining this pneumismatic little gem? After all, conservatism can't usually be reduced in the manner of the simplistic sentiments of Mamet's "brain-dead liberal," e.g. "War is Not the Answer," "One Nation, Under Surveillance," "Save A Planet -- Take A Bus," etc.

So I followed the link to Commentary Magazine, where I learned that Harold Rosenberg had published an article by that name in 1948. The abstract is pretty abstract, but it states that,

"THE basis of mass culture in all its forms is an experience recognized as common to many people. It is because millions are known to react in the same way to scenes of love or battle -- because certain colors or certain kinds of music will call up certain moods -- because assent or antagonism will inevitably be evoked by certain moral or political opinions -- that popular novels, movies, radio programs, magazines, advertisements, ideologies can be contrived. The more exactly he grasps, whether by instinct or through study, the existing element of sameness in people, the more successful is the mass-culture maker. Indeed, so deeply is he committed to the concept that men are alike that he may even fancy that there exists a kind of human dead center in which everyone is identical with everyone else, and that if he can hit that psychic bull's eye he can make all of mankind twitch at once. (The proposition, All men are alike replaces the proposition, All men are equal....)"

So, as early as 1948 -- way before I was born or even unborn -- Rosenberg had uncovered the mechanism of political correctness, the cognitive pressure system that makes leftists such intellectual lemmings and bullies. However, only by leaving the herd and undergoing gender reassignment, as did Mamet, can one clearly see all of the cultural pressures that were operating on one's mind, keeping it in crockstep with the others. Only when you go against the liberal groin are you aware of the constant friction and its attendant conformance anxiety. Being that I work in a very liberal profession and live in a very liberal area, I am never unaware of these annoying pressures in my dealings with the Conspiracy and the collectivist Pinks who would steal our precious Slack. You must indeed internalize their tribal ways, their cues, their sentiments, in order to "pass" as a Normal.

Rosenberg makes another critical point, that the so-called "alienation" of the neurotic artist -- who is generally just a complicated and self-deluded Normie posing as one of us true oddballs -- is one of the critical transmitters of mass-culture thinking. After all, who is shocked when a Sean Penn or Bruce Springsteen or some other entertainment yahoo expresses their hatred of President Bush and their support for Dennis Kucinich? We shouldn't be surprised at the soilidarity of such dirtbags.

But as Rosenberg notes, "the concept that the artist is 'alienated from reality' has little to support it either in the psychology of artists or in any metaphysics of art. As Thomas Mann said, it depends on who gets sick; the sickness of a Nietszche may bring him much closer to the truth of the situation, and in that sense be much more 'normal,' than the health of a thousand editorial writers."

Exactly. If art doesn't bring us closer to reality, what is it good for? Desecrating your prison walls, basically.

Which reminds me. I've been meaning to pimp this new Van Morrison collection, the reason being that it is a limited edition, plus it's the only thing close to a comprehensive, career-spanning collection of his work. The word "artist" has become so debased that it no longer conveys any useful meaning. It's like other words, such as "professor" or "judge" that used to inspire an automatic sense of respect, whereas now your first thought is likely to be that you are dealing with a moral idiot.

But Morrison is a true artist, and in fact, his soph-evidently transnatural music was instrumental... for once, no pun intended... in turning me around and putting me back on the right path when I rediscovered him in the mid-1980s. But that's a story for another post.

A quick google search of Rosenberg led to an editorial by Ruth Wisse, in which she too discusses the abject conformity of the academic left, a grazing multitude of rebellious sheep if ever there was one, all somehow bleating in unison while fleecing the parents who pay through the nose to have their children indoctrinated with wooly leftist ideas:

"The Federal Election Commission could not have foreseen that when it required employment information on political donations of over $200, it would expose scandalous uniformity in a university community that advertises its diversity. The Sacramento Bee reported that the University of California system gave more to the Kerry campaign than any other single employee group, and that Harvard was second, with only 15,000 employees to UC's 160,000. A blogger computed the percentages of Kerry contributions over Bush: Cornell 93%, Dartmouth 97%, Yale 93%, Brown 89%.

"Personally, I greatly enjoy being in the conservative opposition. My colleagues are cordial, and since I'm not looking for promotions I willingly sustain an occasional snub for the greater advantage of being able to speak my mind. Students making the transition from liberal to conservative are often wounded by their first exposure to the contempt that greets their support for the war in Iraq or opposition to abortion or whatever else separates them from the liberal campus. I suggest to them that, as opposed to living in constant terror of offending some received idea, they relish their freedom of expression. The self-acknowledged conservative never experiences intellectual constraint." Exactly. You can think what you want, outside the narrow dictates of PC.

In a piece called Mass Man and Totalitarianism, Roger Kimball touches on today's topic. He makes reference to the "admonitory parallels between the mass men of the past, who proved such pliable fodder for the totalitarian ambitions of the twentieth century, and the mass men of today, that 'susceptible' creature who 'is fundamentally ignorant, though remarkably 'well informed.'” "Mass man’s inertia accepts the dictates of bureaucracy. He has no 'great idea' or 'faith' to guard him against expedient compromise, or participation in genocide.” He quotes J.R. Nyquist, who writes that

“Once upon a time we had a civilization. We had standards. We had notions of objectivity. We had a culture that wasn’t low-minded. We looked back to great men as we looked forward to our posterity. Art was beautiful and meaningful. Politics was evolving away from tyranny. Economics was about liberty and responsibility. What do we have today? .... Subjectivity has cynically declared that objectivity is impossible. Everything high-minded has fallen to neglect.

"But more important, and even more disastrous, the emergence of 'mass man' has something to do with the emergence of totalitarianism (which claimed roughly 100 million lives in the last century). And it is safe to say that totalitarianism is going to claim even more lives in the future. But people don’t want to wake up. They don’t want to acknowledge that totalitarianism is something real and ongoing. It grows in the soil of mass culture. It leads to destruction and mass murder because every totalitarian construct is based on lies, sustained by crime and driven by the politicization of personal disappointment and envy" (Nyquist). Someone ought to write a book on liberal fascism....

Now, how does this all relate to the whole existentialada? What's the cosmic significance of today's post? In this regard, Schuon had a number of typically acute observations. For example he notes that "progressivism is the wish to eliminate effects without wishing to eliminate their causes; it is the wish to eliminate calamities without realizing that they are nothing other than what man himself is."

Furtherless, progressives wish "to achieve a perfect man outside the truths which give the human phenomenon all its meaning." The leftist tries "to reform the world without having either the will or the power to reform man, and this flagrant contradiction, this attempt to make a better world on the basis of a worsened humanity, can only end in the very abolition of what is human, and consequently in the abolition of happiness too."

No, "the collectivity could not be the aim and reason for being of the individual, but on the contrary... it is the individual in his solitary station before the Absolute and thus by the exercise of his highest function, who is the aim and reason for being of the collectivity."

Or, put it this way: "One of two things must be true: either it is possible to save others, or it is impossible to do so; if it is possible, this implies that we first seek our personal salvation, otherwise saving others is impossible, precisely." But the typical leftist embarks on a mission of "saving" others before he can even govern, much less save, his own soul. The self-hypnotizing obamantra is "change," but never of the one chanting it. No, they're beautiful just as they are. It's the rest of us who will have to change to suit their need for reality to conform to their infantile wishes.

To paraphrase Schuon, such individuals live on the fringes of their own being, and spend their lives giving blood to phantoms. If it were only their blood, I suppose we could live with the phantoms.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Slack Liberation Theology (3.13.10)

If we could only somehow get to the bottom of it all. Isn't that what we're trying to do? Have a direct, unmediated encounter with reality, whatever that is?

Science has a lot of answers. But only to very narrow and specific questions. If you ask the wrong question, for example, "Why are truth and beauty so intimately related?", you get no answer at all. Worse, some questions just generate paradox, like, "What was before the big bang?"

Various sciences abstract from the meaning of being as a whole, which is only possible because truth emanates from being -- which is itself a timeless truth which we may know with certainty on pain of the impossibility of knowing anything. But science alone can never explain the existence of the truth-bearing scientist, any more than you can give birth to yourself.

Sciences develop very technical languages to convey this truth of Being -- for example, the language of quantum mechanics or the hyper-sophisticated coding of the human genome. But again, these languages aren't Being itself. The map is not the territory. The human genome project is not alive, nor can you make a cosmos out of mathematics.

Being just is. We can describe it any way we like, but our description can never exhaust the infinite ocean of Being. It perpetually flows into our little vessel of human knowing without being diminished one iota.

In my book, I use the symbol "O" to stand for the infinite and unknowable ground of ultimate reality from which our existence is derived, the latter of which is like a spark thrown from a central fire. It can never be known. We can only know "about" it. On the other hand, we can experience its heat and light directly -- or its warmth and illumination.

In fact, we can know many things about O, just as I can know many things about you. But I can never know you in the same way you know yourself in an unmediated way, from the inside. Only you can have this kind of "inside information" about yourself.

Thus, observational science proceeds in the direction of O--(k), while logico-deductive science proceeds in the direction of (k)-->O. (k) is the realm of everyday dualistic knowledge about O. This knowledge may be known objectively and passed like an object from mind to mind.

For example, the theory of natural selection is (k) about the ultimate unknowable mystery of the living O. It is not to be confused with O. For surely, O is alive, and yet, it can hardly be reduced to a biological object, which is only an effect, not a cause.

At risk of pointing out the obvious, the theory of natural selection cannot tell you how O evolved to the point that it could hypothesize and know a truth about itself, any more than musical notation can account for the existence of music.

Music is completely unperturbed by all the efforts to capture and contain it. All the music that has been produced in the history of the world has not yet made a dent in it. We will never "run out" of music.

Music will continue to flow forever, just as will language. Language will never explain the ceaseless creativity of language. It just flows and flows and flows, regardless of your theory or system. It is truly a mirror of the infinite, since it is one of the primary modes of O. "The Word" was with O from the beginning, and the beginning is always now: Yes, When He prepared the heavens, I was there. When He drew a circle on the face of the deep.... I was beside Him as a master craftsman (Proverbs 8:27).

Science must satisfy itself with (k), which is fine. Obviously, (k) has its place so long as we exist, as we must, in the "separative illusion." Since most cultures revolve around (-k), I am thankful I won the cosmic lottery and live in a place that mostly honors (k). For any method of science is correct, on its own level, to the extent that it submits to O and allows itself to be molded and determined by the limited object or domain it is studying.

But for most of history -- and in much of the contemporary world, in particular, the Islamic world -- this direction is reversed, and reality is determined and molded by (k), which automatically converts it to (-k). To be precise, in the case of the Islamic world, it is overrun with the more pernicious (-n), which never touched O to begin with. (Obama's hateful Trinity Church is a fine example of [-n].)

Worse yet, when (k) replaces O, one then lives in the parallel loooniverse of -O, or ø, which is where so much of contemporary leftist wackademia resides. Whenever you deny O, you will simply replace it with ø, and fall from essence to existence.

In fact, you may even elevate yourself to O, as do so many secular fundamentalist fanatics. They do this in both trivial and profound ways, from dictating how the infinitely complex system of the economy should be governed, to making it against the law to discuss O in public schools.

We in the West suffer from a different problem than the one that afflicts the (-n) Muslim world. Unfortunately, our culture does more than honor (k). Rather, it elevates it to the highest. The secular world tries to eradicate O and replace it with mere (k), which automatically places you in an abstract, substitute, and counterfeit world at least one degree removed from reality.

Religions, properly understood, attempt to restore our primordial relationship with O. Fundamentally, they contemplate the holy and manifest mystery of Being by trying to enter it directly -- not talk about it but from within it. And when they do talk about the mystery, it is not in the manner of (k)-->O (or at least it shouldn't be). Rather, the direction is reversed, and it is O-->(n).

(n) is not to be confused with (k). To take just one obvious example, it would be a grave error to reduce the words of Jesus to mere (k). Rather, Jesus spoke in almost pure (n). You will note that Jesus used no technical terms at all.

Obviously, specialized (k) can be quite technical. Most of it is well over -- or under -- your head. But (n) is often quite homespun and plain -- even rustic -- sounding. The Tao Te Ching, for example, contains no technical terms at all. Nor do the Upanishads or the Talmud. Nor, for that matter, did most of the great philosophers of history employ any technical language: Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Schopenhauer. Only when (k) started to become confused with O did we see this great confusion in philosophy, a confusion that pervades the contemporary academic world.

In fact, sad to say, contemporary philosophy has detached itself entirely from O. It now consists of nothing more than (k) about (k), which, suffice it to say, is merely (-k) as it pertains to metaphysics, the latter of which being the science of the Real.

If revelation is an objective manifestation of O, the intellect as such is its subjective manifestation, the one mirroring the other.

The scientistic world of (k)-->O is a barren one that is unfit for humans. Being spontaneously gives itself to us, but in order to appreciate that, we must adopt an attitude of receptiveness. If we do not maintain this receptive attitude, the world cannot open up and give of itself from within -- within to within. Although the way of the jnani is not the way of the bhakti, in that it is "intellectual," there is considerable overlap, in that it is nevertheless a love relationship. It is phil of sophia, a passionate longing for Truth and Reality. Love opens up, or "liquifies" the hardened or frozen world of the self-projecting ego, and aligns us with the eternal source of divine Slack.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I AM, the One We've Been Waking For (3.28.09)

It was like watching people letting themselves be hypnotized for the greater glory not of Christ but of men. It was like watching a generation willing to continue their enslavement to a self-imposed definition of inferiority rather than rise up in the liberation of truth faith and equality. I saw not a hunger for the glory of God, but a thirsting after the glory of a race to the detriment of all others. How weak, I thought, and how shameful. A Christ triumphant would drive these race hustlers from His temple. --American Digest

Yesterday I mentioned that one of the reasons the left gives Obama a pass on his membership in a religious hate cult is the soft bigotry of low or no expectations for blacks. Of course they hate us. Of course they believe crazy things. Of course they seek solace in bizarre conspiracy theories.

However, another big reason is that the left doesn't take religion seriously except for any version of "conservative" Christianity, which it takes as a serious evil. All other religions are simply harmless or neutral, no matter how harmful, Obama's Trinity Church being a quintessential example. Spengler quotes James Cone, one of its most prominent "theologians":

"Black theology refuses to accept a God who is not identified totally with the goals of the black community. If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him. The task of black theology is to kill Gods who do not belong to the black community.... Black theology will accept only the love of God which participates in the destruction of the white enemy. What we need is the divine love as expressed in Black Power, which is the power of black people to destroy their oppressors here and now by any means at their disposal. Unless God is participating in this holy activity, we must reject his love."

Spengler notes that in his recent defense of Rev. Wright, Obama made reference to the "academic prominence" of Black Liberation Theology -- which, translated, means the indulgence of white leftist intellectuals. Ironically, this "faith in the white establishment is touching; [Wright] honestly cannot understand why the white reporters at Fox News are bothering him when the University of Chicago and the Union Theological Seminary have put their stamp of approval on black liberation theology." Of course, white leftists do not put their stamp of approval on Black Liberation Theology because it is theology, but because it is Black and Marxist.

All valid theology has to do with systematic distinctions between ego and Self on the one hand, and reality and illusion on the other. Ego is to illusion as Self is to reality. Human beings are uniquely and providentially situated in the cosmos so as to be naturally (horizontally) idolatrous but supernaturally (vertically) -- or "transnaturally" -- oriented to the Absolute. This is just another way of saying that human beings are mirrors of the Absolute, and potentially contain within themselves the entire scale of being, the whole existentialada.

For example, Schuon notes that the great Christian virtues, e.g., charity, humility, poverty, and childlikeness, have their final end in the transcendent Self, or in Christian terms, the nous. Each of these virtues represents a negation "of that ontological inflation which is the ego." Practice of them helps soften and dissolve this existential infarct that clogs up the arteries of being. Likewise, Christ represents "the Self holding out a hand to 'me'; man must lose his life, the life of the ego, in order to keep it, the life of the Self."

Black Liberation Theology precisely turns the cosmos upside down in the manner of all materialists -- which is another reason why it is embraced by left wing materialists. For it promises not any kind of universal transcendence of the ego, but a particular fulfillment of its demands for a "chosen" (in the pernicious, non-Judaic sense) people: "Black theology refuses to accept a God who is not identified totally with the goals of the black community." Here the "black community" is analogous to the rebellious ego, which makes its own demands on God: "If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him."

Shelby Steele writes of Obama that "a little race hatred seemed a small price to pay for a more secure racial identity," and that his tacit endorsement of "a mindless indulgence in a rhetorical anti-Americanism" represents "a way of bonding and of asserting one's blackness." Again, the source and outcome of this need are ego insecurity and "hardening," not spiritual aspiration and transcendence.

In genuine theology it is understood that "the world" -- and by extension, your very life -- are "on fire," so to speak. This is how many of Jesus' most extreme statements are to be taken -- as urgent calls to get a clue about the eternal order of existence, and to do something about it before it's too late. I would say "obviously," but I guess it's not, that Jesus was not referring to the political order of the world. Rather, he was speaking to Man as such about Existence as such -- not to this or that man in this or that situation.

But as Van der Leun notes in his essay today, it's easy to confuse the manacles we forge for ourselves with the ones given by others, and then rail against the others as a substitute for the universal call to transcendence. As Schuon writes, "the man who does not know that existence is an immense brazier has no imperative reason for wanting to get out of it" -- which is why the beginning of wisdom is the awe of God, not the hatred of white people, the latter attitude only plunging those who embrace it deeper into the flames.

I thought, watching these sermons, these crazed rants spouted in the name of God, "Don't they know.... Can't they see... They're not worshipping God or Christ, they are worshipping men.... racist men.... the very thing their forefathers suffered under and fought to get free of... and now they're back in the same place. --American Digest

Monday, March 17, 2008

We Are the Ones For Whom They're Laying in Wait (4.04.09)

So, why has the MSM ignored Obama's two-decade plus involvement in what can only be called a racist and anti-American hate group operating under the guise of Christianity?

I can think of two main reasons: first, the usual soft bigotry of low expectations. Left wing racists don't expect blacks to live up to the same ethical standards as whites. Here I am reminded of a scene from Annie Hall, in which Alvy's father reflects the condescending liberal attitude:

ALVY'S FATHER: You fired the cleaning woman?

ALVY'S MOTHER: She was stealing.

ALVY'S FATHER: But she's colored.

ALVY'S MOTHER: So?

ALVY'S FATHER: So the colored have enough trouble.

ALVY'S MOTHER: She was going through my pocketbook!

ALVY'S FATHER: They're persecuted enough!

ALVY'S MOTHER: Who's persecuting? She stole!

ALVY'S FATHER: All right -- so we can afford it.

ALVY'S MOTHER: How can we afford it? On your pay? What if she steals more?

ALVY'S FATHER: She's a colored woman, from Harlem! She has no money! She's got a right to steal from us! After all, who is she gonna steal from if not us?

Exactly. Who are Rev. Wright and his colored followers supposed to hate if not us?! We deserve it!

Thus, at dailykos, the whole matter was reframed as white racists persecuting a harmless old curmudgeon, perhaps played by Redd Foxx, for expressing perfectly reasonable opinions: "Please let an old black man have his anger in the privacy of his church.... Are our hearts so small and our need for reassurance so great that we cannot allow an old black man who dedicated his life to his community his anger? Are you honestly going to tell me that this is the first time white America has seen and heard from black folks?"

As if we care that he is angry as opposed to insane. It's good to be angry. It just depends upon what you're angry about. God hates evil. But if you're angry about the U.S. inventing AIDS to engage in black genocide, or about our government being behind the 9-11 attacks, then I don't care if you're boiling over with rage or eerily calm -- either way, you're insane.

The kosbag then falls back on the "everybody does it" excuse and throws down the anti-Semitic card: "Have we not heard what Rabbis routinely say about Palestinians across the US?"

It's a real mystery why Jews continue to vote Democrat, when the only widespread source of organized anti-Semitism is on the left, whereas the ranks of the right are filled with people such as myself who regard Israel as so self-evidently morally, politically, intellectually, and spiritually superior to its barbarous neighbors, that we would not abandon Israel under any circumstances.

Anyway, what is the second reason Obama's membership in a religious hate cult is so uncontroversial to the MSM? Because Rev. Wright is simply saying out loud what virtually all leftists think: that the United States is inherently racist, sexist, homophobic, and imperialistic, and a source of worldwide oppression, not liberty. Leftism is a hate cult, the only difference being that to learn its tenets it usually costs you much more than a few bucks thrown into the collection plate every Sunday.

Rather, in order to learn what Rev. Wright teaches, one normally has to spend a few hundred thousand dollars at an elite university. So in this regard, Obama is a true egalitarian, since his church is a bargain compared to the cost of a liberal university education.

Obama was, of course, the only son of a white woman from Kansas and a black man from Kenya.

Ever.

So where did he pick up this affinity for insanely hateful rhetoric? If he were a person of pallor who belonged to a church with equally morally repugnant beliefs -- say, that blacks were the cause of their own lynching -- his political career would be over faster than you can say David Duke.

At Weekly Standard, Andrew Ferguson wrote a wonderful piece in which he analyzes the content of Obama's stump speeches, which on the surface seem so vacuous. And yet, logic mandates that underneath the gauzy rhetoric, there must be a demonology at work, in which there is going to be hell to pay for those responsible for our wretched and hopeless situation. The only thing that separates him from the average pol is that he doesn't explicitly name the enemy, but leaves it to the imagination of his slack-jawed audience. But knowing what we know about the imaginations of people attracted to hate sites such as dailykos and huffintonpost, I don't like the idea of anything having to do with state power being filtered through that fetid swamp of diseased souls.

In a campaign known for its solipsism, the catch phrase "We Are the Ones We've Been Waiting For" nevertheless impresses with its absurdity. Ferguson notes that the phrase cannot be translated into French, since it doesn't technically make any sense. And yet, it must mean something, or people wouldn't react so strongly to it.

The provenance of the line actually passes through feminist literary hack Alice Walker, who says she took it from -- hold on to your cap, you won't believe it -- a left-wing-radical-feminist-bisexual poetess! Walker suggests that we've been waiting for us because "we are able to see what is happening with a much greater awareness than our parents or grandparents, our ancestors, could see."

I suppose that's possible. For example, Einstein saw farther than Newton. But.... does Alice Walker see farther than Shakespeare, and does Bill Maher see farther than Monty Python? For that matter, do Obama and his bitter band of statists have greater vision than America's founding White European Males?

Hey, as Louis Armstrong said about jazz, "if you have to ask, you'll never know:"

"When Obama's supporters say 'We are the ones we've been waiting for,' what they mean is that in the long roll call of history, from Aristotle and Heraclitus down through Augustine and Maimonides and Immanuel Kant and the fellows who wrote the Federalist Papers, we're number one! We're the smartest yet! Everybody -- Mom, Dad, Gramps and Grandma, Great Grandpa and Great Grandma, maybe even the Tribal Elders -- they've all been waiting for people as clued-in as us!"

Yes, but... how can people so cross-eyed and hypnotized.... I'll let Ferguson explain it. He's a much better writer than I am, especially today:

"No one who's wandered through an Obama rally and heard the war whoops and seen the cheerful, vacant gazes would come away thinking, These are the smartest people ever. I'm sorry, they just aren't. What is unmistakable is the creepy kind of solipsism and the air of self-congratulation that clings to his campaign. There is something happening, he says in stump speeches. And what's happening? Change is happening. How so? The reason our campaign has been different is about what you, the people who love this country, can do to change it. And the way to change it is to join the campaign, which, once you join it, will change America."

Etc. Ferguson calls it "optimistic despair. The overarching theme of Obama's speeches, and of his campaign, is that America is a fetid sewer whose most glorious days lie just ahead, thanks to the endless ranks of pathetic losers who make it a beacon of hope to all mankind."

And here's where the scary part comes in. Because someone is responsible for this horrible mess we're in. Obama doesn't name names, but he is riding on a wave of half-awake partisans who have no reticence whatsoever in naming them:

"Who are the agents of this despair? By whose hand has the country been brought so low?" These agents "vanish in the fog" of Obama's rhetoric: "Cause and effect are blurred. Bad things happen though nobody does them. Instead we face disembodied entities, ghostly apparitions."

The most likely reason for the evasiveness is that "if Obama named anybody, the cat would be out of the bag.... Put them all together and it's likely to come to a fairly high number of people: stockholders, employees and managers of globalized companies; insurance claim adjusters, guys on oil rigs, hog farmers, pro-lifers, moms in SUVs, taxpayers who decline to float bonds for local schools, voters who pulled the lever for President Bush and are still kindly disposed toward him." If Obama "dared to wrap bodies around those disembodied forces, if he began to trace effects back to the agents that cause them, then his campaign would suddenly appear to be what it is: a conventional alignment of political interests, trying to seize power from another conventional alignment of political interests.... His fans, it turns out, aren't the people they've been waiting for; they're just the same old people, like everybody else."

Yes, but I'm afraid that we are the ones for whom they're laying in wait.

Friday, March 14, 2008

E Pluribus Nusquam: Pomographic Liberalism and the Parsing of Nothing

Since leftism is the political expression of nihilism, it is appropriate that the vacuous campaign between Obama and Clinton involves ever finer degrees of nullity on the dark road from nowhere to nothing. From American Digest:

Obama: (Just throwing it out there): This should be the campaign.

Hillary: What?

Obama: This. Just arguing. Arguing about nothing.

Hillary (Dismissing): Yeah, right.

Obama: No I'm serious. That sounds like a good idea.

Hillary: Just arguing? What's the campaign about?

Obama: It's about nothing.

Hillary: No real policies?

Obama: No, forget the policies. --The Pitch.

What is the ultimate basis of the "culture war," and by extension, the conflict between conservative classical liberals and illiberal leftists? What is it's deep structure, the "either/or" at its foundation that is the cause of all the diametrically opposed attitudes on the surface?

The culture war is in fact a "war between the states," the existential states of nihilism vs. theism. For while the left would like you to believe that it is simply a battle between right-wing religious zealots and "free thinking" secular liberals, you can conceptualize it in more subtle ways -- for example, a belief in absolute Truth vs. mere opinion, moral absolutes vs. moral relativism, cultural progress vs. multiculturalism, a complex spiritual hierarchy vs. simplistic "flatland" materialism, meaningful existence vs. existential meaninglessness, teleonomic spiritual evolution vs. the mere random shuffling of Darwinian "evolution," etc. But what is so especially annoying about these hardcore nonbelievers is that they want to impose their new atheocractic testavus on the rest of us.

A while back I mentioned the book Shows About Nothing: Nihilism in Popular Culture from the Exorcist to Seinfeld, by Thomas Hibbs. He believes that in America, most of the purveyors of popular culture are in fact nihilists of one sort or another (in the sense alluded to above). You might say that nihilism is an unnaturally natural implication of certain strains of our liberal individualism.

That is to say, liberal individualism divorced form any deeper spiritual impulse does indeed tend to degenerate into a debased, antisocial shadow of itself. You might call it pomographic (as in postmodern) vs. classical liberalism, the latter of which has always recognized the need to cultivate a virtuous population, with the understanding that the whole system breaks down if responsibilities aren't at least equally emphasized along with rights. But why are there no "civic responsibilities activists," and why do we call the champions of irresponsibility, impulsivity, narcissism and sloth "civil rights activists"?

Pomographic liberalism is obsessed only with rights, entitlements, and the unearned specialness of the oppressed victocrat. As Hibbs writes, nihilism does not simply usher in an era of chaos and disorder -- rather, it "involves a simplification of human nature, a reduction of its complexity and range, and an abridgment of its aspirations." In short, it reduces hierarchy to a crude spiritual leveling, and replaces the telos of spiritual aspiration with the mundane enforcement of material equality. The nihilistic left is comprised of Nietzsche's pathetic Last Men, who "have a calm indifference to all elevated aspirations." In their puffed up vanity and pseudosophistication, they have lost even the capacity to despise themselves, so they certainly have no reason to aspire spiritually and surpass themselves.

In a piece entitled Literary Hoaxes and the Proletarianization of Culture, Roger Kimball notes that "where Americans once looked up the social scale for their ideals, many now look to the gutter. He quotes Charles Murray, who observed that “one of the consistent symptoms of disintegration is that the elites... begin to imitate those at the bottom of society”:

“The collapse of old codes leaves a vacuum that must be filled. Within the elites, the replacement has been tenets, broadly accepted by people across the political spectrum, that tell us to treat people equally regardless of gender, race, or sexual preference, to be against poverty and war, and to be for fairness and diversity. These are not bad things to be against and for, respectively, but the new code, which I will call ecumenical niceness, has a crucial flaw. The code of the elites is supposed to set the standard for the society, but ecumenical niceness has a hold only on those people whom the elites are willing to judge -- namely, one another. One of the chief tenets of ecumenical niceness is not to be judgmental about the underclass.

"Within the underclass, the vacuum has been filled by a distinctive, separate code. Call it thug code: Take what you want, respond violently to anyone who antagonizes you, gloat when you win, despise courtesy as weakness, treat women as receptacles, take pride in cheating, deceiving, or exploiting successfully. The world of hip-hop is where the code is openly embraced. But hip-hop is only an expression of the code, not its source. It amounts to the hitherto inarticulate values of underclass males from time immemorial, now made articulate with the collaboration of some of America’s best creative and merchandising talent."

Hibbs notes that the Last Men in our midst are not the courageous rebels of their narcissistic imaginations, but "timid, enervated, self-enclosed, and self-satisfied," conforming with "the dictates of common opinion.'' Fourteen billion years of cosmic evolution, and what has it wrought: spiritually withered New York Times Man, so insular and hermetically creedbound in his views, and yet, like a pinched little sulzberger, so confident of his childish superiority!

These Last Men hate to be reminded that there is something higher or deeper, something transcending their own rootless and self-generated meaninglessness. They are all sheep and no shepherd. And they don't believe in wolves at all. Brawndead leftists with no mametary glands hate the notion that the work -- the manly work, not just the endless party on mom's government teat -- of history is incomplete, that there are real enemies and real heroes -- superior men like General Petraeus who will name and kill the enemy so that the Last Men may sleep soundly in their beds. They believe that there is nothing to be afraid of but the hero!

In a way they are right, for the hero is a painful reminder of their own existential shrinkage. The society of the Last Man "is adept at satisfying nearly all desires for pleasure, but it cannot satiate, indeed it positively frustrates, the will to excel, to prove oneself superior to others" (Hibbs). They are afflicted with spiritual envy, the Satanic Eucharist of secular fundamentalism. Kill the hero is their motto. The victim is the new God, Master of our domain is their creed.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Celestial Force and God's Scorched-Birth Policy (3.12.10)

People argue about Jesus -- it is easier than to let yourself be scorched by contact with him. -- Swami Abhishiktananda

All that is true, by whosoever spoken, is from the Holy Ghost. --St. Ambrose

In Christ the Eternal Tao, Hieromonk Damascene makes the claim that "we today are given much more than those who were born before Christ, for while pre-Christian prophets and sages were united with the Tao after their death, we have the potential of experiencing a foretaste of that eternal union during our earthly life. During his life on earth, Christ gave special means -- physical 'channels' of immaterial, Uncreated Teh -- by which to help effect this union." (Teh refers to the uncreated power of ultimate reality, or what we call O.)

Yes, the Christian message is universal, but it seems an unavoidable conclusion that it possesses an exoteric side and an esoteric side -- an outer teaching and an inner teaching, a primarily informational component and a more transformational component. Obviously, this can lead to charges of elitism, but in reality, it seems that the inner teaching is surrounded on all sides by cherubim with flaming swords who only allow those with sincere humility and childlike innocence to pass through: amen for a child's job!

And while I would certainly never denigrate the informational, or dogmatic, aspect of Christianity, I guess I agree with Abhishiktananda, who wrote, "let us not confuse the vessel with the treasure it contains.... as long as man attempts to seize and hold God in his words and concepts, he is embracing a mere idol." Thus, "in every religious experience there is a beyond, and it is precisely this 'beyond' that is our goal." (The book on Swami Abhishiktananda is highly recommended; it has Petey's imprimatur, in that it is 90% Coon-friendly, with only the usual heavy-handed attempt by Traditionalists to squeeze everything into the Schuon/Guenonian framework and to polemicize against "evolutionists".)

In Matthew 13:10, the disciples ask Jesus why he speaks in parables to the multitude, the implication being that he doesn't speak that way to them. "Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.... I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand." Evidently, teaching to the converted is different than preaching to the perverted.

Of course, everything Jesus said was provocative and well worth pondering. But it would appear that the exoteric teaching -- the parables -- are there to instruct those who can discern their meaning. But they are also vague and ambiguous enough to serve as a sort of protective covering over the esoteric side -- like the shell of a seed that surrounds and protects the kernel. In fact, Jesus proceeds directly to a parable involving a seed. When this seed is planted in "good ground," it "indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty" (Matt 13:23).

In Mark 4:33, it says the same thing: "And with many such parables He spoke the word to them as they were able to hear it.... And when they were alone, He explained all things to His disciples." This in itself has an inner meaning, for who is a disciple? And what does it mean to be alone with Jesus?

Exoteric teaching works from the outside in. But esoteric teaching works from the inside out. Clearly, this is where the third person of the trinity comes in, the "helper" promised by Jesus. There is no way to reconcile this helpful uncreated energy with anything found on this side of nature. It is intrinsically esoteric. Aligning oneself with it is perhaps the principle aim of the Christian life.

Hieromonk Damascene quotes a number of eminent authorities on this matter, for example, St. Seraphim of Sarov, who says that when Christ assures us that "The Kindom of Heaven is within you," he is "referring precisely to this seed of the Grace of the Holy Spirit implanted in the human soul."

Of course, we would all like to purchase a luxury corps at pentecost, but there's no such thing as a free launch. For it is like a treasure hidden in a field: "In order to acquire it, one must sell all that one has, buy the field, and then patiently and diligently dig." Apparently, no one's vehicle crosses the phoenix line unless it is first repossessed and amortized.

But if aligning oneself with the Holy Spirit is the principle aim of the Christian life, "digging" into ourselves is the principle method -- tilling the ground, planting the seed, nurturing it, and, especially, watching over the field. For, according to Hieromonk Damascene, "we still carry within ourselves the inclination and habit to return to our former condition." It is a law of embodied existence that, no matter what, we still fall downward 32 feet per second per second. It seems that the lower self digs itself so much, that it creates its own existential hole and then jumps in.

Another way of expressing it is to say that there is an inevitable circularity, or "curvature" to our worldly existence. That is, if we make an initial step in the right direction, that is not enough. Without a second step, a third step, a fourth step, etc., a certain inertia will set in that returns us to the place we started.

This inertia is a force that must be constantly countered. In order to alter its inevitable course, it must be acted upon by a force external to it. Repeatedly. This is why being "born again" just once will not cut it. Rather, one must pent and repent as necessary.

Hieromonk Damascene calls this "continuous metanoia." In order to achieve it, the ancient Christian ascetics developed the idea of "watchfulness," which involves "a state of inner vigilance, attention and sobriety." This kind of "inner attention" has very obvious parallels with raja yoga and Buddhist mindfulness meditation.

Jesus did not just say "pray." Rather, he said to "watch and pray." It's easy. First watch. Then pray while watching.

Watching what?

Hieromonk Damascene quotes one of the greatest authorities, St. John Climacus. In his The Ladder of Divine Ascent, he wrote, "Close the door of your cell to the body, the door of your tongue to speech, and your inner gate to evil spirits. Ascend into a watchtower -- if you know how to -- and observe how and when and whence, and in what numbers and what form, the robbers try to break in and steal your grapes.... Guarding against evil thoughts is one thing, keeping watch over the spirit [nous] is another. The latter... is far more difficult to attain. Where thieves see royal weapons at the ready they do not attack the palace lightly. Similarly, spiritual robbers do not lightly try to plunder the person who has enshrined prayer within his heart."

Hieromonk Damascene eliberates on this point, writing that watchfulness involves pulling our awareness "back into an objective state of observant mind, thus keeping watch over [the] spirit or 'higher mind'." In essence, it is a reversal of our primordial fall -- our worldward descent into distraction, fragmentation, and dissipation -- or, alternatively, congealing, thickening, and hardening. "Attention" and "distraction" are opposites. In the words of Christ, our eye must again become "single," so that the "whole body will be full of light."

Man is a microcosm, and only by opening up in a man the foundation of his being can the Spirit transform and spiritualize the cosmos to its depths. --Swami Abhishiktananda

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Truth: What is it Good For?

Well, I started writing this post, but then Mrs. G. was too sick to care for Future Leader, so childcare responsibilities were unexpectedly thrust upon me before I could finish. Consider it a spontaneous and undisciplined ramble from Bob's Unconscious, not a proper encyclical bearing the authority of Petey .... I finished up with a previous post that seemed to fit in with the general topic (below the asterisks)....

Now, reader Episteme asks, to put it bluntly, what Raccoons get out of these silly verticalistenics and gymgnostics. What's in it for us? What advantage do we gain?: "What exactly are the fruits produced by this capacity of awareness that I, and many others it seems, apparently lack? What great advantages do you have being aware, as you think you are, of Truth? If you really see this whole part of reality that I can't see, what is it that you can do that I can't?"

While not unreasonable questions, they are posed in a tone that betrays a lack of sobriety, sincerity and receptiveness. Nevertheless, for readers who may be just on the other side of the membrane with their nouses pressed against the glass darkly, but who are willing to open their hearts, this is for their benefit. We know ahead of time that Episteme's intellectual pride, at least at this time, fills the space where grace might otherwise flow, and as we know, while nature abhors a vacuum, Spirit requires one.

We begin with one of those metaphysical bobservations that we know is true because it cannot not be true, on pain of eliminating the very possibility of truth. It is this: truth is the adequation of knowledge to being, and this adequation is the sufficient reason for man's intellect. In other words, our intellect was made to know the Absolute, otherwise it makes no sense that we possess it. That is to say, on any Darwinian grounds, it is absurd that monkeys could one day harbor an ability to know truth -- not to mention love and beauty. For where was this truth before the monkeys discovered it, and how did it get there?

Another unavoidable truth is that the existence of truth imposes an obligation on man to know it. Can I prove this? Only to those who already "know" it implicitly -- who bear this eternal truth within their soul (which we all do, only for some people it is buried under so many layers of ice and rock, that it is inaccessible).

Now, the need to know this truth can be more or less pressing, depending upon the architecture of the particular soul. For some -- say, "vital beings" who essentially live a sensory, quasi-animal existence -- they are not aware of this need. But for others, the need is acute, and it forms the motive passion of their lives. To paraphrase Augustine, the soul of man cannot rest until it rests in God. Or as Schuon writes, "metaphysics satisfies the needs of intellectually gifted men" (and please bear in mind that Schuon is not using the words "metaphysics" or "intellect" in their modern, debased, and profane sense understood by Episteme). "Metaphysical truth concerns not only our thinking, but it penetrates also our whole being; therefore it is far above philosophy in the ordinary sense of the word."

Now, adequation to the Real cannot be achieved by the ego, which is only adequate to a certain narrow band of the reality (both interior and exterior) to which it is an adaptation. Man is a "bicentric" being, in that he has two subjectivities, the local ego and the nonlocal, uncreated intellect. The relative corresponds to the ego, while the Absolute corresponds to the intellect. It is not that the intellect itself is absolute, but that it represents a "mirror" of the absolute within the relative plane. The Great Mystery is that, in the words of Schuon, "the Absolute has made Itself relativity so that the relative may return to the Absolute." Man is an inverted shadow of God, which is why our vocation is to invert the inversion and receive light into the shadowy world of the fallen ego: "Soul, instead of contracting and hardening in its natural selfishness, must open itself to Heaven and to the Divine Influx."

But why? What do we get out of it? Well, one thing we get is the awareness that the cosmos is not a oppressively closed circle but an infinitely open spiral -- that God has not just "opened a gate in the middle of creation," but that this gate is Man himself. Furthermore, "to slip through the human state without being truly Man, that is, to pass God by," is to reject our own soul and our very existence. It is "a waste and a suicide," especially when the brevity of temporal life is contrasted with the depth of eternity.

*****

One of my favorite little books on Jewish mysticism is The Thirteen Petalled Rose, by Adin Steinsaltz. He writes that "The physical world in which we live, the objectively observed universe around us, is only a part of an inconceivably vast system of worlds. Most of these worlds are spiritual in their essence.... Which does not necessarily mean that they exist somewhere else, but means rather that they exist in different dimensions of being. What is more, the various worlds interpenetrate and interact in such a way that they can be considered counterparts of one another, each reflecting or projecting itself on the one below or above it."

I like this description because it is exactly analogous to the way the unconscious -- the lower vertical -- operates in psychoanalytic theory. The unconscious is another world that operates along different logical principles, but it is not "someplace else." It is not literally located in space, "below" the ego. Rather, it is right here, right now, interpenetrating everything we think and do. To "see" it, it is merely a matter of shifting your perspective. Like right now, if I open my ears, I hear a bird chirping in the backyard. In the distance is the "hoo hoo" of an owl. There's the very quiet humming of the computer. These things were always there, but it's a matter of paying attention to them.

In another way, it's analogous to these progressive bifocals I just got, which change the focal point depending upon where you point your eyes. Look up, and things that are near become out of focus, but look down, and the distant becomes blurry.

Steinsaltz discusses the differences between the vertical and horizontal, which for me is the essence of any spiritual metaphysics. Again, in speaking of the vertical, of higher and lower, he is not speaking of an actual physical location. Vertically speaking, "to call a world higher signifies that it is more primary, more basic in terms of being close to a primal source of influence; while a lower world would be a secondary world -- in a sense, a copy." Thus, viewed horizontally, we may trace the material cosmos back to a primordial event some 13.7 billion years ago.

But this is only the horizontal explanation. Traditional metaphysics deals with the vertical causation of the cosmos, which is what confuses people. From the vertical standpoint, this world is indeed a copy, as are human beings, of a divine prototype. The "logos" might be thought of as the model of all things, the nexus between the divine mind above and the creation here below. Looked at in this manner, the inexplicable beauty of the world is not somehow the outcome of horizontal cause and effect. Rather beauty is the cause of the cosmos (among other nonlocal causes, such as Love and Truth).

Because of the ubiquitous vertical and horizontal influences, every aspect of human existence is made up of both matter and spirit, of form and essence. While we are fundamentally spiritual, we are unavoidably material, which sets up a host of interesting tensions and conflicts. The fall --or exile, if you like -- is indeed a vertical one, a declension from the divine repose of celestial bliss, down to this world of toil, conflict, uncertainty and ambiguity.

In the past, I have posted on the inner meaning of "angels," which -- now, don't be too literal here -- are nothing more than vertical beings that travel in only two directions: up and down. Have you ever had a brilliant insight that came out of nowhere? That would be the gift of a vertical emissary. The more you reconcile yourself to the process and accept it on its own terms, the more messages you get. What about those lower promptings? Yes, we'll get to those momentarily.

Now that I've lost most of my readers, I'll ask the question: Did you know that you can create an angel, a vertical being? I know I do all the time. According to Steinsaltz, every mitzvah you perform -- every good deed -- is not just a horizontal act in the material world. It also has an effect in the vertical world. As a matter of fact, a holy act creates an angel, a new spiritual reality that will then go on to have its own vertical life and influence.

Let's just consider a banal but highly illustrative example, the first one that came to my mind -- Oscar Schindler. One flawed man nevertheless trying to do the decent thing in a hopeless hell of utter depravity. But how many countless angels did he create, angels that continue to bless the world in demonstrable ways!

Let's jump ahead to the shadow side of this spiritual economy for, as Steinsaltz explains, "just as there are holy angels built into and created by the sacred system, there are also destructive angels, called 'devils' or 'demons', who are the emanations of the connection of man with those aspects of reality which are the opposite of holiness." Thus it would follow that, just as good deeds create beneficent vertical beings, other actions create vertical beings "of another sort, from another level and a different reality." In so far as it is possible to do so, I try to create angels with this blog. I don't know if I am successful, but I do know that I attract demons.

Here again, you can take this literally or you can take it figuratively. But think, for example of just one awesome conjurer of demons, say, Karl Marx, who belched his new anti-revelation from the vertical depths of darkness. Could you even begin to count the number of devils, demons, and other agents of the nether world who are still being created and still making mischief as a result of falling under his sinister spell? You do see them, don't you? They're everywhere! Some things are metaphors, some are not. The term body snatcher is not a metaphor. Petey says that it explains all you need to know about the left.

If you have stayed with me this far, then you will understand that, just as there are evil beings, there are evil worlds. These are simply the "space" inhabited by the evil beings. Wisdom is a space, or "mansion." So too, creativity, love, beauty, peace. You can sense it when you enter one of those mansions. You can also sense it when you are near one of those haunted mansions where the dark ones reside.

The closest I like to get to one of these mansions is memri.org, which makes the Islamic darkness visible to us on a daily basis. Can you not feel and sense the utterly dark abyss of that black hole, where light neither enters nor escapes? If not, you may want to contact an exorcist, for something has hijacked your moral vision. There are many such vertical abysses in the world. Bottomless pits of anti-Truth and anti-Beauty.

Enough malevolent wishes and wicked deeds, and pretty soon you have created a closed world, cut off from the divine influence. As Steinsaltz describes it, "the sinner is punished by the closing of the circle, by being brought into contact with the domain of evil he creates.... as long as man chooses evil, he supports and nurtures whole worlds and mansions of evil, all of them drawing upon the same human sickness of the soul.... as the evil flourishes and spreads over the world because of the deeds of men, these destructive angels become increasingly independent existences, making up a whole realm that feeds on and fattens on evil."

Hitler. Stalin. Bin Laden. Yasser Arafat. Kim Jong-il. Ahmadinejad. Detached worlds of pure evil as an end in itself. Who could say it isn't so?

That would be the Old Serpent's vast team of useful idiots. He's got a very deep bench.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

And God Said, Keep it Simple, Stupid (3.10.10)

When philosophy uses reason to resolve a doubt, this proves precisely that its starting point is a doubt which it is striving to overcome, whereas... the starting point of a metaphysical formulation is always something intellectually evident or certain, which is communicated, to those able to receive it, by symbolical or dialectical means designed to awaken in them the latent knowledge which they bear unconsciously and 'eternally' within them. --F. Schuon

Our recent guest once again proved the soundness of Schuon's rule of metaphysical formulations and the impossibility of communicating them to those unable to receive them. The Mysteries aren't intended to be vulgarized and dispensed to any yahoo with an open hand and empty head, and they certainly weren't meant to be eagerly groped and pawed over by the grubby fingers of new age barbarians who reduce the most sublime knowledge to its ego (or usually sub-ego) level equivalent.

History is littered with caricatures of spirit. I have in my hand a hideous but typical example, in the form of a catalog I received in the mail a couple of days ago from company called Sounds True. I bring this up not just for valid purposes of mockery and ridicule, but to emphasize that there is actually great spiritual danger in treating these matters so lightly. The Mandala Healing Kit: Spark Your Sacred Geometry (for people who can't spark euclidean geometry). Loveland: Music For Dreaming and Awakening (dreaming or awakening? Make up your mind!). The Advanced Manifestation Program: Upgrade the Way You Think -- And Live (upgrade only works if you start off really stupid). Take Charge of Your Life at The Quantum Level (since you obviously can't deal with reality on this level). Explore Non-Ordinary Reality with the Wisdom Tool of the Shaman (step one: bend over).

The hucksters who propagate this debased nonsense have nothing whatsoever to do with authentic spirituality. They are poseurs, flatterers, con men and unCoonmen pretending to be as dense as their followers so their followers can strive to feel as clever as they are. A real teacher is more likely to drive you away than to make outrageous promises and ask for your money. This is why it is best to work within an established religious framework. Sure, it's less glamorous, like indexing instead of trying to find some exotic or risky way to beat the stock market. Yes, there are some people who can do that, and there are some spiritual practitioners who are able to operate outside the lines. But doing so requires an abundance of caution -- not less discipline, but more. As Bob Dylan sang, to live outside the law, you must be honest. You must know your own limitations, because Reality will eventually bring you to heel.

Ronald Reagan once said words to the effect that "the solutions are simple, but not simplistic." As a matter of fact, simple is hard. Complexity is easy. Most people are very complex, especially the intelligent ones. Their intelligence just gives them more skill at pulling the wool over their own eyes (speaking of, er, complicated people, I read yesterday that Elliot Spitzer obtained a score of 1590 on the SAT and a perfect score on the LSAT, something only achieved previously by Satan himself, the "perfect" lawyer). People are full of unconscious wormholes, psychic envelopes, secret lives, hidden compulsions, ulterior motives, and auto-hypnotic delusions. While they may appear deep, their complexity tends to conceal their essential shallowness. For mysticism is nothing more than the art of living with one's whole being at a deeper level.

Macarius, a fourth century church father, discusses the problem of mind parasites weaving their way into the unconscious in a most vivid and arresting manner: "When the prince of wickedness and his angels burrow there, and make paths and thoroughfares there, on which the powers of Satan walk into your mind and thoughts, are you not in hell, a tomb, a sepulcher, a dead man towards God?"

Well?

Before we can enter the pneumatosphere, we must begin by clearly recognizing the hopelessly fragmented, dispersed (or hardened) and fallen situation in which we find ourselves, and sincerely wish to turn it around. Everything else depends upon this first recognition, for this is the "gap" through which grace enters (interesting point today at American Thinker about how leftists are always looking for a replacement for original sin, most recently, man's Environmental Badness). It is to realize, as written by Gregory Nazianzen, that we are "an animal en route to another native land," "halfway between greatness and nothingness." Call it repentance, metanoia, or just plain disgust, but it is the beginning of the process of reorienting our life around an altogether different center of gravity. We begin to detach from the local ego and objectively observe our thoughts and emotions, which is the opening salvo of spiritual warfare. It is to formally declare war on the forces in your psyche that pull you down and drag you out, from the depth to the surface, from the center to the periphery.

Denys the Areopagite wrote that "the higher we ascend, the more our words are straitened by the fact that what we understand is seen more and more altogether in a unifying and simplifying way." As "reason ascends from the lower to the transcendent, the more it ascends the more it is contracted, and when it has completely ascended it will become completely speechless, and be totally united with the Inexpressible." From lower complexity to higher simplicity. True science - -including spiritual science -- is the reduction of multiplicity to unity.

Have you ever met a simple, straightforward person with no agenda? Someone who is honest, transparent, and grounded, and doesn't change from day to day, depending on their mood?

Achieving this is actually the preliminary spadework of spiritual practice. You might say that it is both alpha and omega, because it is both cause and outcome. To put it another way, it begins as an efficient cause but eventually becomes a final cause. You begin by pushing, but eventually you will feel yourself pulled. What might be called the "spiritual dynamic" involves a combination of our own ceaseless efforts and the recognition that our unaided efforts will get us nowhere. As Bishop Kallistos Ware writes, "without God's grace we can do nothing; but without our voluntary cooperation God will do nothing."

Here's one for you to ponder. Basil the Great, a fourth century church father, said "A mind which is not dispersed among external things, returns to itself, and from itself ascends to God by an unerring path." Was it not Matthew who wrote, "if thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light"? Yes, if thine "I" be single, many felicitous things follow. Somehow, verticality is a function of centration, of getting all of your I's on the same page.

Just to show you how much overlap there is over the vertical horizon, I will leave you with a couple of quotes from Sri Aurobindo: "What we are now, or rather what we perceive as ourselves and so call, is only an ignorant partial and superficial formulation of our nature. It is not our whole self; it is not even our real self; it is a little representative personality.... There is a secret soul in us that is our true person.... to unveil that soul and that self is one of the most important movements of Yoga."

The lower mind consists mostly of "a complex mass of mental, nervous, and physical habits held together by a few ruling ideas, desires and associations -- an amalgam of many small self-repeating forces with a few major vibrations." A person fixated at this level "respects what belongs to the domain of mind mostly for its utility for the support, comfort, use, satisfaction and entertainment of his phsyical and sensational existence." He regards the higher as "a superfluous but pleasant luxury of imaginations, feelings and thought-abstractions, not as inner realities...."

But "Mind is a passage, not a culmination": "Destiny in the rigid sense applies only to the outer being so long as it lives in the Ignorance.... But as soon as one enters the path of spiritual life, this old predetermined destiny begins to recede. There comes in a new factor, the Divine Grace, the help of a higher Divine Force other than the force of Karma.... It is here that the hostile forces playing on the weaknesses of the past nature strive to prevent the rapidity of the progress and to postpone the fulfillment."

In short, while the initial task is to turn from complexity to simplicity, from fragmentation to unity, there are forces within us that naturally wish to preserve their prerogatives and maintain the status quo. Hence the need for spiritual warfare -- for inner vigilance, for watchfulness, for facing oneself, for separating from those things that separate us from spirit, for building the Inner Citadel and abiding in your own personal slackatorium.

One commences with a method, but the work is taken up by a Grace from above, from That to which one aspires or an irruption of the infinitudes of the Spirit. --Sri Aurobindo

Monday, March 10, 2008

Cosmolinguistic Wordploys (3.06.10)

A science of the finite has need of a wisdom which goes beyond it and controls it, just as the body needs a soul to animate it, and the reason an intellect to illuminate it. --F. Schuon

I definitely could have slept another hour this morning. In any event, we'll do our best with a hypnopompic ramble from Bob's unconscious.

We intuitively and routinely use language in such a way as to imply that the mind is a space. But what kind of space is it? If it is holographic and multidimensional -- which it is -- then we need a language that parallels that fact, or else it will simply mislead, as the mind will appear to take on reified properties of the language used to describe it. It will be like trying to represent a three-dimensional cube on a two-dimensional piece of paper. Something vital will be lost. One thing lost will be the dimension of "depth."

What does it mean to say that something is "deep?" That it partakes of multiple dimensions, even if we are not consciously aware of all of them. Authentic scripture is a kind of language that is deep and resonant. Inexhaustibly so. It can never be fully explicated, since it partakes of the Absolute.

The problem with religious language is not so much the literal/symbolic divide, but the question of whether or not language is being used in a generative or a static way. If it is static -- as so much religious talk is -- then it is not really about religion, but simply about language, about saturated words pointing to each other. It is like a glorified case of obsessive-compulsive disorder. It is tied up in an entirely closed and circular neural knotwork. It is safely on this side of the ego, or of consensus reality, and therfore part of the problem -- a nice painting on the prison wall, or a fanciful story about life outside the prison gates.

Properly understood, a religion is just like a scientific paradigm, in that it is a "frame of reference" that allows us to “see" religious facts it iluminates. Otherwise this inexhaustible bounty goes unseen. Even in science it is understood that "percept follows concept," i.e, "Never trust a fact without a good theory to support it."

A fact is a relation between two events. We are one of the events. God is the other. Thus, in order to think about God, we must move from epistemology to mystepistemology. For if your ontology is wrong, your epistemology will follow.

When spiritual communication is generative, something magical is taking place, as it somehow serves as the translating function that makes the translinguistic "religious object" present in the form of energies or theolougomena. As such, there is always a performance aspect involved. It is always words + music. To speak religiously -- to use language in such a way that it actually mirrors and partakes of the the domain of spirit -- there is a certain rhythm and a certain felicity of phrasing that must be achieved. Not to merge with the ocean but to use language as a bucket. Language must be unsaturated enough to either "bite" into spirit, or "lure" spirit into it. Yes, grace "blows where it will," but it's always better if you don't use language in such a way that you're fighting against it.

This is my objection ot fundamentalists of any kind. Yes, they are dogmatic, but it is not so much the content of the dogma but the form in which it is presented that is troubling. Language is used in such a way that its life-giving qualities are squeezed dry, so you are given merely the husk of the words, not the kernel. They cannot trans-form, only in-form. They do not draw out, but push their way in.

To speak of spirit, one must have one foot firmly planted in reality. But not both feet. One foot must be equally planted in trans-reality, in the world that is prior to the material. You have to catch it before it quickens and congeals into the illusion of solidity. As I get older -- especially now with a child -- I am more deeply entangled in the world than ever. But at the same time, I am more deeply rooted in the other realm as well.

It reminds me of looking into a placid lake with a tall tree on the other side. On the lake there will be a mirror image of the tree, going in the opposite direction -- one up, one down, one exterior, one interior, meeting at the Crossroads where life must be lived. Similarly, when I look into my son's eyes, it is like gazing into an eternity that extends infinitely in two directions -- into him and into me. Growth is growing in both directions, not one or the other; the soul penetrates God just as God penetrates the soul.

Reality is logos, absolute word and infinite grammar. But language is always communication. It is to someone. It is from someOne. Why spend your life decoding the message but never ask who is speaking?

Sufficient language for talking about God has yet to be perfected. I take that back. The language has been perfected, but few remember how to speak it any longer. We've run out of trancelighters who are able to demonstrate it while speaking it. An evolving logos will evolve the consciousness of the person who contemplates it. That's not quite right, for the logos itself doesn't evolve, but causes evolution upon contact with matter, so to speak. This is why religious doctrine "has an aspect of system and an aspect of indeterminacy," for if it didn't, it would simply be God, and no communication would be possible between the Absolute and his annoying relatives, or between God and man.

How to speak of the Omninameable One? It is not that we can say so little about it, but so much. As Schuon writes, the problem is "not through a lack, but through a superabundance of light." Language does not contain it, but it contains language, absorbing words like a sponge or shedding them like water off a duck's back. It cannot be done without paradox, symbolism, wordplay, myth -- all the tools available to half-awake language-bearing monkeys.

Well, that's it for this morning.

To be able to combine the religious symbolism of Heaven with the astronomical fact of the stellar galaxies in a single consciousness, an intelligence is needed which is more than just rational.... The tragic impasse reached by the modern mind results from the fact that most men are incapable of grasping a priori the compatibility between the symbolic expressions of tradition and the material discoveries established by science.... Man, when he trusts his reason alone, only ends by unleashing the dark and dissolving forces of the irrational --F. Schuon, Stations of Wisdom

Friday, March 07, 2008

Secular Fundamentalists and Other Simple People of Faith (3.09.12)

[R]eligion translates metaphysical or universal truths into dogmatic language. Now, though dogma is not accessible to all men in its intrinsic truth, which can only be directly attained by the Intellect, it is none the less accessible through faith.... [I]ntellectual knowledge... proceeds neither from belief nor from a process of reasoning, [but] goes beyond dogma in the sense that, without ever contradicting the latter, penetrates its "internal dimension," that is, the infinite Truth which dominates all forms. --F. Schuon

As we have discussed in the past, what makes man unique is not just his capacity for knowledge, but his capacity to know so many things that are manifestly false. To call this latter thing "knowledge" is a perversion of the term, for knowledge that isn't true isn't proper knowledge at all. Then what is it? Why are human beings so prone to believe nonsense?

Even for most so-called intellectuals, most of what they know is not necessarily knowledge. Rather, it is plainly "belief." Belief is knowledge once or twice removed, for it means that we are placing our trust in the knowledge of another, or participating in the knowledge of another knower. We don't really know, but somebody does, and we trust them. For example, no one asks if you "know" about global warming; rather, they ask if you "believe" in it. Whether you believe in it depends upon whom you trust. In my case, I have enough common sense not to trust those who claim to know what the weather will be like in 100 years.

So much of what people think they know -- but which they really don't know at all -- comes down to whom they trust. For example, I generally read a few economics books per year, but I could hardly claim to be any kind of expert. And yet, I do have my opinions regarding economics -- even strong opinions. To a certain extent, my opinions rest upon which experts I trust. In my case, I trust a Thomas Sowell but deeply distrust a Paul Krugman. I expect the former to tell me the truth and the latter to lie and distort (there is also the critical matter of the "light" that emanates from the former and the "darkness" that radiates from the latter, but I don't have time to get into that). For example, the left is now claiming that we are in a recession. But since they claimed in 2004 that it was the worst economy since Herbert Hoover, this must be the worst economy in three years, which isn't saying much.

But it's much deeper than that, because one's understanding of economics is always shaped by one's values. For example, I value individualism, low taxes, and a limited government regardless of the economic implications, because I believe these values create better people. On the other and, the leftist values collectivism, big government, and high taxes. I derive my values from religion, whereas the leftist derives his from... from what? From his feelings, I suppose.

Belief cannot establish its own legitimacy, but derives its legitimacy from someone who either knows, thinks he knows, or pretends to know. In this sense, it is superficially similar to faith. However, belief is generally a static thing. It takes the unknown and superimposes the known upon it, thus foreclosing the unknown. Once one believes something, the issue becomes settled, even if in reality it isn't. Again, for those who believe in global warming, the science is "settled." But it's actually the reverse -- that is, the science is settled because they believe in the theory.

Again, this has certain superficial similarities to the religious person, who, for example, has faith that the universe was created. For me, this is a "settled" matter, and no amount of argument could change my opinion. But that is not to say that my opinion is "static." To the contrary, with the exercise of faith -- which is to be distinguished from mere belief -- one's understanding will deepen and deepen.

This is again because belief is foreclosure of the known, whereas faith is a dynamic engagement with the greater unKnown. Faith, properly understood, is not a cognitive structure or grid to be superimposed upon reality. Rather, it is a psychospiritual probe with which to explore transcendent reality -- somewhat like the way a blind person might use a cane to to construct an internal image of the dark space around him (to borrow an analogy from Polanyi).

Furthermore, unlike belief, faith should be convertible to real, i.e., "eternal" knowledge. It is actually a subtle and sophisticated way to gain knowledge that transcends the senses, not a means to provide false but comforting answers and to vanquish curiosity. Scientific knowledge, by definition, is always relative, whereas religious knowledge is the closest human beings can come to knowledge that is "absolute." In fact, religious knowledge partakes of the Absolute; or, to be exact, it is "infused" with the Absolute in holographic way, so that any "part" of revelation mirrors the whole, so to speak.

Thus, many people of faith are actually "people of (implicit) knowledge," whereas many so called intellectuals are actually no more than simple "people of faith." You can really see what little genuine knowledge people have when the discussion revolves around something you do happen to know about, whether it is quantum physics or plumbing repair.

For example, in my case, I happen to possess a lot of theoretical and first hand knowledge of psychology. Most intellectuals who claim to know about psychology don't actually have this kind of first hand knowledge. Rather, they have simply placed their trust in an expert whom they choose to believe. Thus, they have placed the will higher than the intellect; or, at the very last, their intellect is in service of the will. This is not a bad thing, so long as the will is in service to Truth. But most of the really serious problems of mankind -- the real wholesale evil -- is a result of the will in service to falsehood.

I remember having a number of discussions with a world-renowned leftist historian who shall go unnamed. His historical thinking presumed a great deal of psychological knowledge, for how can you claim to study human history without some kind of implicit or explicit theory of human development and motivation? And yet, his psychological ideas were so outdated and unsophisticated as to be laughable. Yes, he had his own psychological "experts" whom he relied upon -- probably some ideas he picked up here and there from leftist lizards in the faculty lounge -- but I knew that his faith in these experts was entirely misplaced. Incidentally, this man also happens to be an atheist who is extremely hostile to religion. But as it pertains to the human psyche, this cynical sophist remains a "simple man of faith."

Ironically, it is just so in any debate between an obligatory atheist, or secular fundamentalist, and a man of genuine faith or gnosis. True, many people of faith simply place their trust in someone who knows -- or claims to know -- and leave it at that. But others do know. They know directly, in the manner of vision or hearing. How then to discuss this knowledge with the obligatory atheist -- that simple and unsophisticated secular man of faith -- who has placed his faith in those who not only do not know but obnoxiously insist that there is nothing to know and no way to know it?

Imagine a medical expert in, say, the mid 19th century. He has all of the latest knowledge on disease. He knows all about the four humors, about the proper placement of leeches, about how germs are spontaneously generated by bad air, etc. Someone comes along and tells this arrogant fellow that germs aren't spontaneously generated. Rather, there are invisible microorganisms covering his hands, living things that he is actually unwittingly transmitting to his patients. Would this doctor not be far closer to the truth if he ceased believing his experts and stopped trusting his self-confirming personal experience?

As expressed by Josef Pieper, "belief has the extraordinary property of endowing the believer with knowledge which would not be available to him by the exercise of his own powers." Furthermore, "being wise with the head of someone else is undoubtedly a smaller thing than possessing knowledge oneself, but it is far to be preferred to the sterile arrogance of one who does not achieve the independence of the knower and simultaneously despises the dependence of the believer."

Since we begin the spiritual path without explicit knowledge, we must inevitably place our faith in the testimony of someone who does (or did) know (or who is perhaps knowledge itself). Ah, but how do we know that this person isn't a mere believer himself? How do we assess their credibility and trustworthiness? By what signs do we judge the false from the true prophet?

Human beings are equipped with means to apprehend exterior reality. But we are also curiously equipped to apprehend the interior reality of persons. It is said that a sophisticated scientist, strictly speaking, does not judge the merits of a scientific theory on the basis of whether it is "true" or "false." Rather, he does so (at least partly) on the basis of its generativity, that is, by how much it explains, how well it ties together various other facts and observations, and the extent to which it gives rise to new, "interesting" problems.

Have you ever known a generative person in whose presence you experience the bracing flow of "life" along your keel? Have you ever been in the presence of a stagnant and lifeless person in whose psychic presence you feel your soul being sucked out of your body?

The spiritually generative lumin being does not merely report reality. Rather, such an individual imparts reality. You might say that they are a door. Or you might say that they are a way. Or perhaps they are even the life.

They know. And we know that they know. And soon enough, we know too. Call it recognosis and ruahcollection.

An esotericism is addrssed precisely to those "that have ears to hear" and for that reason have no need of the explanations and "proofs" which may be desired by those for whom esotericism is not intended.... Christ necessarily spoke from an absolute standpoint, by reason of a certain "subjectivization" of the Absolute.... --F. Schuon