Monday, May 05, 2008

Highlighting the Highest Light

For when the light of God shines, the human light sets. --Philo

By light we lose light. --Shakespeare

Nothing in particular popped into my head to write about this morning. I was just flipping through The Spiritual Ascent, trolling for an inspirational germ of an idea for an idea, and in so doing, a few thoughts occurred to me. At this point, I'm up to page 521, or about halfway through. I've completed Book One, which --

D'oh! Just spilled my coffee. I guess someone doesn't want me to post this morning. Got some on the book, too. Symbolic, perhaps -- an alchemical procedure to activate and "wake up" the dormant knowledge in a book about waking up.

Anyway, I've completed Book One, which has -- here, I'll count -- two main subsections, Sacrifice-Death and Combat-Action; in turn, those two subsections have seven and nine categories, respectively; and then each of those categories has at least half a dozen additional topics. As I said, it's organized like a fractal, in that it exhibits "pattern across scale," just like the living cosmos itself. Wheels within wheels within wheels.

What's my point? Well, first of all, some of these topics naturally interest me more than others. Some sections are thick with my highlighting, while others were passed over without provoking much of a response in me. In fact, there were some topics I didn't care for at all, mostly the ones on damnation, hellfire, and that sort of thing.

Still, I would estimate that a good 1/3 of the book is highlighted so far. I have a sort of informal coding system, in that some passages have asterisks, others have exclamation points, and some have a mark in the upper left corner of the page, which means REREAD LATER! THIS IS IMPORTANT! This allows me to rapidly distill the essence of a book for later coonsultation.

My first point is this. If an atheist were to read this book -- well, first of all, I don't see how an atheist could get through it or why they would even try, anymore than I could get through a calculus textbook consisting of nothing but esoteric equations. I could flip the pages, but I would just be pretending to understand. It would contain no highlighting, because nothing beyond the dedication page would mean anything to me. (Which reminds me of an unintentional joke; a while back, a famous mathematician died, and one of his colleagues eulogized him by saying that "his contribution to mathematics was incalculable." Somewhere, Gödel is laughing.)

But just because I couldn't understand the calculus book, it hardly means that a qualified person couldn't, including, of course, the author. So, let's say I picked up a used copy of the calculus book, with someone else's highlights. This would prove to me that the book not only made sense, but that it made sense to someone in particular. Or, I could be like an atheist and write a review of the book, in which I explain how it actually makes no sense at all, regardless of whether anyone else thinks it communicates deep meaning to them.

Now, I buy a fair amount of used books, and sometimes they contain the highlights of the previous owner. Without fail, I am always surprised by what they highlighted. Sometimes I think, "why did he highlight that? Everyone knows that." Other times I will think, "why did he think that was important? He missed the whole point of the passage." It's even worse when there are marginalia. That's when you really gain insight into the former owner's mental make-up. That's when you say to yourself, "what a moron. No wonder they sold the book."

Anyway, as I was saying, The Spiritual Ascent is full of my highlights. But in virtually every instance, the highlight signifies that "this is something I already know to be true," but perhaps expressed in a particularly beautiful, novel, or effective way. Other times I am struck at the manner in which a truth from one tradition is precisely mirrored in another. And other times I might be astonished at how what I thought was an original idea of my own, was actually thought by someone else 1,000 or 2,000 years ago.

In short, it is much more an exercise in vertical recollection than anything else, of reinforcing what I have independently discovered to be true. This is always the case in genuine spiritual truth, where there can be no true novelty or innovation, only an increasingly adequate grasp of the pre-existent Real, as it successively reveals more of itself.

But the main point is that I understand. And I understand not just this or that particular passage, but I understand the entire realm from which the passages emanate. Please, don't get me wrong -- I am not suggesting I am omniscient, or anything like that. I am not Petey. Rather, I am making a much more modest claim, which is really no different than when one of you readers out there think to yourself, "I understand what Bob is writing about." It means that, to the extent that you understand, there is something real that corresponds to your understanding, both external to you, and, more importantly within you.

In other words, let's say an atheist rifles through my liberary, plucks The Spiritual Ascent from my bookcase with his grubby, heathen fingers, and flips through it. Naturally, none of it makes any sense to him, any more than the calculus book makes sense to me. As such, the book should properly contain no highlighting, since it is literally void of any valid knowledge to be had. In that regard, even the Bible, or the Tao, or the Upanishads are "empty sets," so to speak, just elaborate linguistic parentheses around nothing.

So the atheist will have to be a bit puzzled to see so much highlighting in a book about nothing. In order to maintain his atheism, what are his options? Somehow he will need to devalue or invalidate my understanding, and show that I haven't really understood anything at all. Rather, I might think I understand, but that is strictly impossible, since you can't have valid knowledge about something that doesn't exist, i.e., transnatural reality. But then, I could say the same about him -- that he is simply elevating his ignorance to a virtue and calling it knowledge.

An additional problem for the atheist is that much spiritual writing is intentionally obscure (even while being luminously so), in order to protect it from being misused and misinterpreted by the unqualified -- which the atheist is, by his own proud admission. Therefore, it makes it all the easier for someone to reject it as nonsense. In fact, The Spiritual Ascent (naturally) anticipates this, as it has a whole section devoted to this problem, i.e., Give not that which is holy unto the trolls, neither cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet...

Epicetus: The written doctrines of philosophy, if poured into the dirty and defiled vessel of a false and debased mind, are altered, changed, and spoilt, and turn to urine or anything fouler than that. Indeed, do our trolls not teach us the lesson of King Midas in reverse?

Romans: Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man...

Udana: ...[T]he mighty ocean consorts not with a dead body; for when a dead body is found in the mighty ocean, it quickly wafts it ashore, throws it up on the shore...

Get it? The secret protects itself, always. O deflects the living dead and turns them to Ø. Only the dead-and-reborn may swim in the living waters of O.

For it is absurd that a man should be forbidden to enter the temples save after bathing and cleansing his body, and yet should attempt to pray and sacrifice with a heart still soiled and spotted. --Plato

If the cask is to hold wine, its water must first be poured out. --Meister Eckhart

He must increase, but I must decrease. --John 3:30

Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Circles that You Grind, in Darkmills of Your Mind

A post from May '06. But remember, each weekly reflux is edited for the first time, with bolus gagging inserted for the alert eater, so chew carefully!

***

It is fascinating that in the near future, this whole musical realm may be a ghost town. All the beauty of generations will still be there, but no one will be able to appreciate it. There are probably spiritual paths that have been similarly deserted. Portals closed forever, once opening into rich, elaborately carved realms of the soul. There the faithful would receive blessing and wisdom, but now only silence and dust reigns. Even the paths to the timeless may be lost in time. "Use it or lose it." --Magnus Itland

The best ideas are so deceptively simple -- for example, complexity theory -- that we can fail to properly appreciate them. As such, they must be repeatedly discovered, lest one continue mindlessly searching after truth. The lower mind -- I have problems with the word, but let’s just call it the ego -- doesn’t really care about truth per se. Insofar as its cognition is concerned, its function, as Sri Aurobindo noted, is to grind. Put anything in front of it -- a TV screen, a cereal box, or worse yet, a newspaper -- and it will simply grind away like a... like a grinding vacuum cleaner.

But in order to truly think productively, it is necessary to throw some timeless truth into the mixMaster. Perennial truth is like the yeast that allows the bread to rise, or the axis around which our mind orients itself and spirals upward. It is clearly of a different order than the limited truths available to our natural reason.

For example, when I get my taxes done, I try to remind my obsessive-compulsive, anal-retentive accountant -- who clearly understands the dreary mathematical truth -- that there is a higher truth which he must always keep at the forefront of his mind: that my taxes are too high, regardless of what his unforgiving calculator says. "Steve, it's not all black-and-white. You and I must creatively work together, left brain and right, to find the true amount I owe to the wasteful and inefficient government."

Many people -- many very smart people -- spend their entire lives searching after truth, even after they’ve found it. For some reason, truth alone does not satisfy the ego. It enjoys the horizontal chase, not the vertical plumbing of its depths. But since ultimate truth is not found in the horizontal, predictable consequences arise for the vertically exiled ego in its dark journey Down a hollow to a cavern / Where the sun has never shone.

Because we all long for Truth. Human beings are intrinsically epistemophilic and are clearly as driven to acquire transcendental truth as they are to obtain food, sex, and slack. It is what makes us human. But if you foreclose the vertical, you will attempt to find ultimate truth in the horizontal, which is strictly impossible. You will simply create a “graven image,” a horizontal substitute for the real thing, such as materialism, behaviorism, scientism, leftism, atheism, etc.

For example, a person who describes himself as a “political junkie” is usually just that, someone who greedily partakes of the 24 hour “all you can eat” news buffet of buffoonery, which only results in mental bloating and spiritual flatulence.

Now, the mind literally metabolizes truth, both in its horizontal and vertical sense. The analogy with digestion is fairly exact, something emphasized by Bion. Our minds are first of all open systems that exchange information (and affect, which is a kind of subtle or gross information, depending) with the environment and with other minds. But believe it or not, there are mental anorexics, people who refuse to take anything in, since they value control over truth, and want to "be their own breast." This is actually one of the main impediments to growth in psychotherapy.

Even that word -- growth -- have you ever thought about what it implies about the mind? What exactly grows? What is it made of? Does it just get bigger? Or more differentiated? What does it need in order to grow? What are the vitamins and enzymes it requires? Are certain things toxic to it? Is the growth predictable and built in, like a biological organism? What and where does it grow into? In other words, does it have an edge? What’s on the other side of the edge? Can our minds objectively discern the difference between a mind that is “grown up” vs. one that is immature or stunted?

Psychotherapy -- and the possibility of mental/emotional growth in general -- cannot really begin until the mind has become an open system and the patient can “take in” the relationship with the therapist. For when our emotional or intellectual (not to say, spiritual) growth is blocked, it is almost always because we have become a closed system in some form or fashion. I believe it was Winnicott who said that in order to be cured, we must first cure ourselves of our own attempt at self-cure -- in other words, we must go from being a closed to an open system, with particular emphasis on openness to emotional truth in the case of psychoanalysis. In the case of spirituality, we must become an open system with you-know-who on the vertical plane.

But once we allow truth in, we must also chew, swallow, digest and metabolize, so that it may become woven into our very psychic substance. I think you can see the problem that arises if we are immersed in a world of falsehood, either partial or total -- say the horizontal world of the secular left or the reverse vertical world of Islamic totalitarianism. In those cases, our minds can be open systems, but what are they open to?

Again, the normal mind will hungrily take in whatever is around it, and it will even grow, after a fashion, in the same way that a palm tree might grow near the arctic or a pine tree at the equator. In the case of the mind, since it can’t get what it really needs, it will demand more of what it doesn’t need in order to make up the difference. But one is not enough and a hundred is too many when you partake of the satanic eucharist. Or so we have heard from Petey, the wise, the merciful!

This is why we have so many fools with Ph.D.s (in the case of the West) or demons with theological training (as in the Islamic world). Since Truth is either rejected (in the case of the former) or unavailable (in the case of the latter), these hungry ghosts end up with a very bad case of spiritual malnutrition. They know something is wrong. But their prescription is more of the same.

So you can spend your entire life in a bloodless and irony-poor acadanemic setting pursuing “women’s studies,” or “queer theory,” or “behavioral psychology,” or “analytic philosophy,” and never come into contact with Truth. Rather, you just bore tunnels within tunnels in the windmills of your mind.

In fact, the most important Truth -- the Truth that makes lesser truths possible -- is generally not even permitted on college campuses. Or at least it is never discussed openly, except perhaps in a substitiously cynical manner. This makes most conventional education a corrupting experience unless one has a bulwark of Truth within -- a preexistent, uncreated framework within which to “think” about lower things, not just intellectual things but aesthetic and moral things as well.

Otherwise, once your life's education is "complete," you'll sadly ask yourself -- but of course it will be too late -- Why did summer go so quickly? Was it something that I said?

Like a tunnel that you follow
To a tunnel of its own
Down a hollow to a cavern
Where the sun has never shone
Like a door that keeps revolving
In a half-forgotten dream
Or the ripples from a pebble
Someone tosses in a stream
Like a clock whose hands are sweeping
Past the minutes of its face
And the world is like an apple
Whirling silently in space
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind
--The Windmills of Your Mind (Bergman/Legrand/Bergman)

Friday, May 02, 2008

Atheism and the Unrequited Love of Truth

I am often criticized by a certain kind of 'nadless "spiritual seeker" for my pugnaciousness (or absence of ambiguity), judgmentalism (or discernment), and anger (i.e., the anger I trigger in them, which they promptly project into me).

The truth is, truth is a kind of violence, in that it necessarily severs one thing from another, just like a surgical procedure, i.e., good from bad, true from false, and beautiful from ugly. This is why "the truth hurts," or at least why it hurts some people sometimes.

Put it this way: if you are a pathological liar -- say, Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, or Al Sharpton -- the truth doesn't hurt at all. In fact, you don't even feel it. It bounces right off as if nothing ever happened. Lies are your weapon and your shield. If you aren't a pawn of satan, you might as well be. These fölcks don't believe truth because it is true but because it is convenient, which automatically converts truth to something contingent and therefore tainted with falsehood.

Importantly, this does not just apply to religious truth but to scientific truth. Consider the etymology of science, which comes from the Latin scindere, meaning "to cut." It is related to words such as scissors, schism, decision, and schizophrenic. This is the coontext of Jesus' assurance that I came not to send peace, but a sword. Please. Bush is nothing compared to Jesus' divisiveness, but I can certainly understand why the schizos of the left think otherwise.

Furthermore, this is one of the primary reasons people do not alter their beliefs in the face of contradictory evidence, especially once tenure has been secured, as it is painful to do so (it's also one of the reasons I never really enjoyed being a psychotherapist, except with a certain kind of patient who is passionate about truth above all. With them, it's easy).

As I explained in the cOOnifesto, the word believe is etymologically related to belove, and any discerning person can see in an instant how even -- or especially -- supposedly secular people fall in love with ideas that cannot possibly be true. (At the moment, I'm thinking about dopey liberals such as Nancy Pelosi who are simultaneously concerned about global warming and the high price of gas; if you are worried about one, then you needn't worry about the other.) Reason has its own absence of reason that reason cannot comprehend, and if you don't understand how this works, you will likely end up believing patent nonsense, the reason being that Truth is supposed to be luminous and attractive, a fundamental Truth for which secularism cannot account because it's not countable.

In other words, human beings were not created to be pure "logic machines," like a Vulcan or a MENSA member who wonders why he's never kissed a girl, unlike Captain Kirk. The enterprise of logic alone cannot tell us when logic has arrived at a profound truth. Rather, this can only be determined by a higher form of discernment that is "aesthetic" through and through.

Again, this is the whole point of our gööd friend Gödel and his ironyclad theorems. The reason why the theorems are ironyclad is that Gödel employed logic to precisely and irrevocably set the limits of logic, which cannot disclose those platonic truths which humans can surely know but not prove -- or at least prove with mere logic. They can most certainly be proven in a manner appropriate to the realm from which they arise, so long as the person in question has sufficient intelligence and good will, or heart and mind (the former taking precedence over the latter in these eternal questings).

This is why it is impossible to prove the existence of God to people of bad will who aren't all that bright to begin with, and who simply want to believe in their own beloved truth, no matter how homely or unfaithful she is. For example, the classic ontological proofs of God are sufficient to convince a soul who is equipped to understand and believe (and therefore belove) them, and who is not inclined against them. This, of course, is one of the esoteric dimensions of faith, which is a deep intuition that our beloved Sophia could not be unfaithful to us.

Perhaps this is too abstract. Let's bring this luce talko down a couple of nachos, to something more audible. I am a big fan of what is called post-bop, avant-garde jazz, which was a movement that moved from about 1961 to 1970 or thereabouts (this is not to be confused with "free jazz," as it retains a more traditional structure, although it is right on the roiling cusp between structure and freedom, like this blog and like existence itself, which I believe is why I am so attracted to it). Some of the major artists of this genre include Jackie McLean, Andrew Hill, Bobby Hutcherson, and Sam Rivers, plus the last great Miles Davis quintet that featured Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Tony Williams.

These names will mean nothing to most of you. And if you were to be exposed to their music, it is likely that they would mean even less, for this is challenging music, and most people do not wish to be challenged by music. They don't want to take the effort to "elevate" themselves to music; rather, they would prefer that music "descend" to them. I'm not even criticizing this, as music, like everything else, has different purposes for different people at different times. I myself don't listen exclusively to this kind of music. For example, yesterday I was blasting the Who Live at Leeds, which every person must now and then do for reasons too obvious to get into here. Needless to say, my delighted three year old -- both inner and outer -- understands the reason for Keith Moon.

Anyway, the point I am making is that although this music embodies a kind of higher beauty, the average person will probably be repelled by it, or at least they wouldn't feel any attraction to it. Indeed, this was initially the case with me. However, I continued listening to other forms of jazz that took me to the "edge" of the avant-garde, so I was gradually able to "conquer" and assimilate it.

But one of the ways I made the leap was through faith. That is, respected critics -- people who knew much more about jazz than I did, and whose taste I came to trust and rely upon -- raved about this music, so it gave me the faith that there really was a "there there," my initial impressions to the contrary notwithstanding. In short, in order to "penetrate" this harmonically dense music, I had to trust that these musical pinheads weren't just böllshitting me and faking the funk -- which certainly does happen with modern art, the recent Aliza Schvarts kerfuffle being a darchetypal example of same.

Also, once you come to trust a particular artist, you accept the idea that they are further along than you are, and that if you have faith in them, they won't let you down. This doesn't mean that they never fail, because they do. Indeed, this is one of the inevitable prices one pays for being "on the edge," as we were discussing a day or two ago. The cutting edge cuts both ways, so it is certainly possible for novelty to be false or trivial -- which, not to get ahead of ourselves, but for Raccoons goes to the question of why it is so important to remain within the confines of an orthodox tradition instead of simply "winging it" on one's own. In the case of avant-garde jazz, if you just compare Louis Armstrong to Freddie Huzbbard, it may be a bit of a jolt. But if you begin with Louis Armstrong in 1925, you can trace a sort of straight line of development that slowly unfolds and eventually leads there in a disorderly ordered manner.

Now, how does this relate to religion? Well, first of all, Raccoon spirituality, like avant-garde jazz, may sound jarring and dissonant to the non-initiate, which is no doubt why my readership is so small and always shrinking. I think it's about 60% of what it was a year ago, which means that I am obviously driving away more people than I am attracting, which is all to the good. I do not wish to be known, much less understood, by a large audience, for that would tell me that I must be on the wrong track, given the barren intellectual and spiritual conditions that obtain in the soul of mass man.

Does this mean we are elitist? I don't think so. In my case, I don't really see how I could be more down to earth or more of a regular guy, for the reality is, in order to penetrate the clouds, like a pyramid, you must have a very wide base, and like a skyscraper, a foundation that extends deep into the earth. No one suspects Peter Parker of being Spiderman, and even he struggles with the concept. Furthermore, there are times that he would prefer not to be, as it's a burden and a responsibility. Reminds me of something Van Morrison said about his "relentless need" to make music:

"Everything is a curse and a blessing," he argues with some vehemence. "There's two sides to everything in this life. Music is no different. Don't think I haven't tried to walk away from it all. I've made a few concerted efforts at walking away. But it's pointless. You have to understand that I don't choose the music; it chooses me. My love for the music is the core of it for me. Maybe there's people who do music for different reasons. Financial reasons or ego reasons. Maybe they can walk away from it. But I can't. Because my connection to the music can't be broken. This is a need. Let's be clear about this -- there is no föcking choice."

To conclude the jazz analogy, there are certain luminous pneumanauts whom I initially did not understand, men such as Schuon, Anonymous, Eckhart, or even a Son of men, for that martyr. Now I understand that they've been stealing into my thoughts and whistling my tune all along.

Kandinsky, Improvisation 31, Sea Battle... it figures

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Jihad is Not Just for Jihadis (5.11.12)

I've had very little time for any sustained reading, so I'm still making my way through the 1,100 page The Spiritual Ascent, a "compendium of the world's wisdom" organized into three main sections that mirror the universal stages of purification, illumination, and union, but with dozens of subsections. In a way, you could say it is fractally organized, in that each section is a part of the whole, even while the whole is in each part. Likewise, every day of our lives is a process of purification, illumination and union, at least if we are consciously aware of this once in a lifetome uppertunity to write our own wrungs on Jacob's ladder.

The book gets off to a very promising start, with the chapters on divine creation, the process of manifestation, man's primordial birthright, and similar felicitous topics. I suppose this is only fitting, being that the Creator's main excuse for the creation was that "it seemed like a good idea at the time," i.e., "God saw everything he had made, and indeed it was very good." But you know what they say about how the beast waylaid the plans of mousy men. Very soon the karmic wheels fell on the creation, ironically due to its crowing achievement and finishing klutz, Homo simian. What starts out in eternal paradise soon turns into a peeved barking lot of womentary maninfestations, right up to the present day.

This remands me to the clostudy of Finnegans Wake, which begins with a sentence about Adam and Eve ("riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay"), but by the third paragraph is into the Fall ("the fall of a once wallstrait oldparr is retaled early in bed and later on life down through all Christian minstrelsy"), and by the fourth paragraph is ringing in the full scale war of each against all ("arms apeal with larms, appalling. Killykillykilly: a toll, a toll").

Anyway, The Spiritual Ascent hits a bit of a rough patch with the chapters on illusion, sin, suffering, sacrifice, damnation, hell, and the like. Nevertheless, these sections do emphasize the existential stakes involved, as well as the fact that "purification" is somewhat analogous to the manner in which a diamond is made. Just take a lump of coal, put it through unimaginable fire and pressure in the middle of the earth, then chip and chisel away what is impure and unnecessary, and you've got a luminous little gem fit for eternity. What a bi-cosmic coincidence that the name diamond derives from the ancient Greek adamas and that most of them originate from Africa. Reminds me of the Johnny Cash song (written by Billy Joe Shaver):

I'm just an old chunk of coal
But I'm gonna be a diamond some day....
I'm gonna spit and polish my old rough-edged self
'Til I get rid of every single flaw
I'm gonna be the world's best friend


I just finished a couple of fascinating sections, Pilgrimage -- Descent Into Hell and Holy War. Speaking of odd coincidences, here's a weird one. After I finished my post yesterday -- which spontaneously floated on the themes of water, sailing vessels, and the soul's journey -- I picked up the book, opened to page 385 where I had left off, and read the following from the Rig Veda: As in a ship, convey us o'er the flood. Then the next passage, from the Epistle of Discretion, about how the soul is like a ship that "attaineth at the last to the land of stableness, and to the haven of health." In fact, the quote I placed at the very end of yesterday's post was only discovered immediately after it was written. Did you ever feel as if existence were just one big coonspiracy?

The section on Holy War is particularly interesting, as it emphasizes that jihad is not just for jihadis. Rather, there is Jewhad, Buhad, and Crusad, in both the interior and exterior senses, as well as above and below. Quite simply, war is not just inevitable but necessary, with roots extending deep into the very structure of the cosmos.

Conversely, it is pacifism that is not only unnecessary but highly narcissary to boot and bootlicker alike; sanctimonious pacifists are usually just people unaware of their viciousness and cruelty, like Jimmy Carter. Pacifism is essentially to surrender -- not just in war, but in the struggle of existence itself. For as written in Exodus, The Lord is a man of war; or in the words of Jesus: Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword; or in the words of Krishna: Nothing is higher for a [member of the warrior caste] than a righteous war.

In his introduction to the subject of Holy War, Perry cites Guenon, who wrote that the essential reason for war -- legitimate war -- is "to end a dis-order and re-establish order; in other words, it is the unification of a multiplicity, by use of means which belong to the world of multiplicity itself.... War understood in this way, and not limited in an exclusively human sense, thus represents the cosmic process of the reintegration of the manifested into the principial unity." This reintegration necessarily involves destruction, as catabolism is to metabolism.

Guenon continues: "The purpose of war is the establishment of peace, for even in its most ordinary sense peace is really nothing else than order, equilibrium, or harmony, these three terms being nearly synonymous and all designating under slightly different aspects the reflection of unity in multiplicity itself.... Multiplicity is then in fact not really destroyed, but 'transformed'..."

In another sense, legitimate war is none other than justice, being that justice is really an "equilibrating function" which is "directed against those who disturb order and [has] as its object the restoration of order." The reason we catch and punish bad guys is ultimately to restore order -- to the community, to the wronged individual, within the disordered psyche of the perpetrator, and ultimately to the Cosmos itself. In fact, it is fair to say that the blood of the victims cries out from the earth so long as a single murderer draws breath.

I am immediately reminded of Thomas Barnett's theories of the "functioning core" and the "non-integrating gaps" of the world. For example, think of all the deep and complex world unity that resulted from World War II. Likewise, the ultimate purpose of the war in Iraq is obviously to try to integrate the dysfunctional Islamic world into the functioning core of the West, i.e., to create a higher world unity. There really is no other way. Hey, we didn't start it, but we certainly ought to finish it.

I am also reminded of the intrinsically heretical perversion of Black Liberation Theology, which so attracted the weak-minded and weaker-souled Obama: "Many have been asking what Liberation Theology is all about. Well, it is not very complicated! It is the simple belief that in the struggles of poor and oppressed people against their powerful and rich oppressors, God sides with the oppressed against the oppressors."

Thus, it precisely inverts the true meaning of holy war, in that it imagines that God sides only with "the poor" instead of the righteous, or that he is angry at the wealthy instead of the evil (we should say that the righteous side with God). We can be quite certain that God is very displeased with the Palestinians, who are poor but (and because) evil, as God is preoccupied with goodness, not wealth.

This is just the same cold and dark Marxism trying to steal a little warmth and light -- or heart and mind -- from Christianity. If Obama and Wright were not such jihasbeens, they would understand the true source of liberation, black or otherwise: The "great holy war" is the struggle of man against the enemies he carries within himself, that is to say, against all those elements in him which are contrary to order and unity. Thus, the "unity candidate" is anything but. We will become the ones we've been waiting for only once we become more like the One who's been waiting for us.

Many things must be done in correcting with a certain benevolent severity, even against their own wishes, men whose welfare rather than their wishes it is our duty to consult... --St. Augustine

To be continued....

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hail Mary, Full of Ideas!

For those of you who are not football fans, a "Hail Mary" is a desperate pass into the end zone, when your team is behind and the clock is winding down. The quarterback just heaves the ball up in the air and hopes for the best.

Speaking of Hail Marys, I've gotten into the habit of desperately tossing ideas into my posts, not necessarily knowing what they mean, but trusting that they mean something, and that some alert and nimble-fingered wide receptacle of a reader will catch them. This ensures that I am always on the edge of what I (don't) know. However, it can also mean that I am not only crossing over a line into the area of what I don't yet know, but into what is unknowable or even what is Raccoonically incorrect. I mean, assuming there is a cutting edge, then it must by definition cut both ways, into those things that are novel and true as well as those that are just trivial or false novelties, like Black Liberation Theology or Andrew Sullivan.

In the Raccoon nonderstanding, the more one truly knows, the more one doesn't know -- the latter of which is a very different thing from "the less one knows." Let me explain with an absurcular analogy.

If what we call reality is a sphere that contains all of our knowledge of whatever kind, the more genuine knowledge we possess, the more the sphere expands. But obviously, as the sphere expands, the surface area where it shades off into the unknown expands. Since the "unknown" is literally infinite and dwarfs the known, all our profane knowledge combined is just a drop in the bucket we'll kick way before it's ever full or even emptied. No matter how much of the unknown we colonize with human knowledge, it will only "grow" in size. (The infinite cannot literally grow, being that it is already infinite.)

As an example of a Hail Mary, just yesterday a cryptic thought spontaneously occurred to me which I tossed into the post: real thought is the essence of prayer, linking man with what is timeless and eternal.

What is this supposed to mean? Is it true? Yes, I'm pretty sure it's true, but I don't yet know why. Rather, there is simply a sense of certainty, a feeling that if I try to flesh it out, I will find that it is backed by the full faith and credit of forces greater than myself, forces that "sponsored" or provoked the thought to begin with. In other words, a thought is like a wave tossed up by the ocean. Or, put it this way: where there is a wave, you can assume there is an ocean in your notion somewhere.

As a brief aside, most of the things people call "thoughts" aren't actually proper thoughts at all. This may come as a shock to you, but most people have never had an original thought in their life, any more than they have made a witty comment. For example, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton are presumably smart guys, but I challenge anyone to identify an original thought in their vacuous books. There is no question in my mind that Brak has more original thoughts than Barack, whose defunct economic and social ideas (to paraphrase Tom Sowell) come straight out of the 1960s, and whose discredited foreign policy ideas come out of the 1930s. Nothing novel there.

To extend the ocean analogy, these sorts of pseudo-thoughts are more like ripples on the surface caused by superficial atmospheric changes, like wind over the water. For example, I largely see the MSM as a sort of vast wind machine that blows over the waters and stirs things up so that no one is aware of the more enduring waves, let alone the tsunamis off in the distance. In addition, when the water is stirred up in this manner -- what I call "the daily tempest" or liberal hysteria of the hour -- few people have the calm detachment necessary to see through to the depths.

Also, just like the ocean, there are stable "currents" that persist through time. On the one hand, these can be analogous to structures rooted in timeless truth, such as the U.S. Constitution; or, they can be analogous to what Buddhists call "samskaras" or what a Raccoon calls mind parasites, just collective illusions and neuroses, like manmade global warming. Indeed, the whole psychic current of leftism has become a sort of fluid structure that is almost impossible to eradicate. Put up a barrier, and just like water, it goes around it and takes on a new form. Marxists become "progressives," or reds turn green. Progressivism is never rooted in proper thought; to the contrary, it is a thought system imposed upon reality , like painting the sky or tattooing a beautiful woman.

As an example of where "unconscious" thought can take you, the image just popped into my head of Jesus walking on the water. What does this have to do with anything? Again, we don't yet know, but it feels to me as if this is a potentially fruitful thought, and that it is not just arbitrary or all wet. In short, it requires faith on my part that I can complete the thought and reach the end zone. Here we go again: Hail Mary, full of great ideas!

Recall that while Jesus is off huddling by himself and meditating on his mountaintop, the disciples set sail aboard a tiny ship. What begins as a three hour tour -- a three hour tour -- turns into a fateful trip, as the weather starts getting rough and the tiny ship is tossed. Frankly, if not for the receptivity of the faithful crew, the Minnow would be lost -- the Minnow would be lost.

A voice is heard: It is I, Gilligan: be not afraid.

Who is I? According to Tomberg, it is the I AM; the act of walking on water speaks to the fact that I AM is "not the one borne, but the bearer, not the one led, but the leader, not the one supported but the support." And this act is paralleled in "the wonder of pure faith, unsupported by anything but inner certainty, which stands above the threatening sea of relativity and doubt, and goes its own way." In short, faith is what floats your boat on its watery trek from the terrestrial to the celestial shore, or from birth to Birth. It is what allows one to complete the eternal pass into the sacred end zone.

We were born before the wind / Also younger than the sun / Ere the bonnie boat was won, as we sailed into the mystic / Hark now hear the sailors cry / Smell the sea and feel the sky / Let your soul and spirit fly, into the mystic --Van Morrison, Into the Mystic

True, we have to be here in this ocean in order to grow and evolve, but it's tempting to remain a land lubber and just hold onto terra firma. This is to remain a seed without water, a temptation that has a certain appeal, since to live without being sea'd is in a sense to remain in a state of infinite potential: so long as you are nothing, you are potentially anything and everything, just like an infant.

This is the appeal of the latest nothing, a titanic fissure of a man, a Barely Nobama, if that. Ah, the Mendacity of Hype. Now that he has become something, he's as guilty as the rest of us, and every bit as thoughtless. This dinghy is sinking fast.

Floating upstream alongside the ancient celestial trail, out from under the toilsome tablets of time, cast your I on the meager image below. So long. So short! Whoosh! There went your life, mate. Returning to the Oneself, borne again to the mysterious mamamatrix of our birthdeath, our winding binding river empties to the sea. --The Coonifesto

Rare indeed is this human birth. The human body is like a boat, the first and foremost use of which is to carry us across the ocean of life and death to the shore of immortality. The Guru is the skillful helmsman; divine grace is the favorable wind. If with such means as these man does not strive to cross the ocean of life and death, he is indeed spiritually dead. --Srimad Bhagavatam

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Soul of Obama and His Spiritual Housing Crisis (4.08.10)

Man is made in such a way that he is never fully actualized within the limits of his possibilities except with the help of constraints, otherwise he would be perfect; where there is no brake there is exaggeration and unconsciousness. --F. Schuon

One of the intrinsic problems of leftism is that it confuses an absence of constraints with freedom, when the only real freedom is precisely a result of thinking, feeling, willing and even "being" within what I believe are God-given constraints. For example, just as it isn't possible to "think mathematically" in the absence of mathematical equations, or to play music in the absence of harmony, melody, and rhythm, it is not possible to "think spiritually" in the absence of authentic and timeless religious forms. These are the boundary conditions that vault one's thought into a higher vertical space which is anterior to us, even while we "co-create" it -- again, somewhat analogous to musical improvisation. Real thought is the essence of prayer, linking man with what is timeless and eternal.

To put it another way, the purpose of religious forms -- one of them, anyway -- is to allow us to think spiritually, and to do so in a productive way. One of the reasons why the "new age" is so empty and ultimately unfruitful is that it tries to make up its own spiritual language, which amounts to thinking without constraints or playing music with no harmonic or melodic structure. Certain self-styled "independent gurus" fall into this category, and this is the primary reason why their work dies with them, since it does not arise out of any eternal tradition. They end up trying to invent their own tradition, which is analogous to the musician trying to invent music itself.

I remember Bob Dylan saying something similar with regard to his artistic development. He said something to the effect that he didn't understand how young musicians can think they'll produce anything of enduring value by simply imitating contemporary sounds, instead of immersing themselves in an authentic tradition.

In Dylan's case, one of the keys to his greatness was that he surrendered and submitted himself to the American folk tradition, as if it were a religion. Which, in a way it was and is. That is, just as authentic religious revelations descend from "above" and are invented by "no one" and "everyone," a genuine folk tradition arises from "below," in the collective experience of mankind. This is what gives it its resonant mythological power, a power that no one person could have "invented."

Only once he had immersed himself in the folk tradition could Dylan then "legitimately" branch of into "freer" directions; but even so, I believe he would be the first to acknowledge that he is still working with timeless materials within a traditional framework. He is not truly an "innovator" in the way we usually think of that word. To the contrary, he is a strict traditionalist, out of which comes both his power and authority. One other important point is that this approach ensures that music is not merely made for egoic or narcissistic reasons, but out of love -- love and respect for the tradition that is higher and greater than oneself. So much music is vile because it does violence the traditions out of which it arose.

If one truly immerses oneself in a tradition and is guided by love, an alchemical transformation occurs within the soul. In this process, the lower self "dissolves," so to speak, allowing one to graft onto or merge with the tradition in a seamless way. The reason why this can occur is that a legitimate tradition embodies what is permanent within the self (in both its celestial and terrestrial aspects), so it is not really a discovery but a deep recollection of one's true being.

This, by the way, is one of the things that is so troubling about Obama. It is not so much that he is the spiritual disciple of an ignorant and vile madman, but that he has surrendered himself to a tradition that is not a legitimate one at all, but one that is wholly -- or largely -- manmade. Any spiritually attuned person can listen to Jeremiah Wright and know this in an instant. That he is not radiating divine qualities is patently obvious. He has no dignity, no nobility, no sobriety; rather, he is "wild," intoxicated, uncontained, and decentered. At best, he mimics certain qualities such as divine wrath and judgment, as well as a genuine fake charisma that emanates from his fascinatingly unbound mind parasites, as opposed to any celestial "gift." All demagogues have this toxic gift that resonates in the susceptible. One thinks of Bill Clinton.

A person of genuine spiritual attainment will radiate from the calm center, and be an image of the "motionless mover." Think, for example, of the recent visit of the Pope, and contrast his dignified bearing -- simultaneously humble and majestic -- with the circus freakery of a Jeremiah Wright. He is all periphery and no center; he has no spiritual center and therefore no intellectual center, hence, the wild conspiracy theories, which are both "systematic" and incoherent, just like any clinical paranoid who is invincible in his certainty of the impossible. He has quite literally substituted paranoia for metanoia, in that he orients himself around projected illusions instead of "turning around" and calmly orienting himself toward and around the peace and tranquility of the One.

As a commenter mentioned yesterday, this is not religion but Marxism, Marxism being the archetypal inversion of religion precisely. As I have mentioned on many occasions, this is my principal objection to the psychospiritual left, as it inverts the cosmic order, so that everything is quite literally backward and upside down. Mixed with religion, it becomes a particularly potent and destructive force, even demonic in the strict sense of the term.

Now, why is this important? Because a religion is where one's soul finds its rest. It is where one feels spiritually "at home." As such, if one finds one's home in a false religion, one is ipso facto a false self. To put it another way, if one finds one's truth in lies, then one is living a lie -- or worse yet, one is a Lie.

But why would someone "fall in love" with religious lies and liars? Good question. It could just be because it is convenient to do so, or congenial with what one already wishes to believe. Thus, a person who has already committed himself to neo-Marxism finds his soul's rest in the tawdry "liberation theology" of a Jeremiah Wright, which is not theology and certainly not liberating.

Is this what has happened with Obama? Unfortunately, we just don't know, and that's the problem. Is Obama just cynical and calculating? Spiritually blind and tone deaf? Not too bright underneath his smooth veneer? In any case, his attraction to this buffoon Wright speaks to some sort of flaw which is quite deep, and which reveals a fundamentally dis-ordered soul. Spiritually speaking, people lied, Obama died.

We all have flaws. But hopefully we do not glorify them and give them a divine imprimatur. It's like a sex addict joining a polygamous church, or Jeffrey Dahmer converting to the Aztec religion.

If Obama felt he needed to join a black church in order to gain some sort of "street credibility," it certainly wouldn't have been difficult to find a mainstream one. I happen to believe that the black church at its best represents an authentic sub-tradition, as it is the spontaneous merging of the gospel with an oppressed people with their own unique heritage. There is so much truth and beauty in the black church, e.g., gospel music. Why get involved with this perverse and parasitic version of it?

If we give Obama the benefit of the doubt and assume that he is not a malicious person, then we are left with the option that he is simply a man with no identity in search of one. Such a centerless man will grope around for his center at the periphery, and feel at home there, just as secular leftist losers feel at home with fellow outcasts (i.e., people who do not know their caste) and sociopaths, blindly wandering from sensation to sensation in a kind of false eternity.

Interestingly, you will notice that Obama appears to be everything Wright is not -- calm, centered, dignified, even aristocratic. These are all fine qualities so long as they are both genuine and spiritually grounded.

But again, one wonders how genuine they can be if Obama is so deeply attracted to someone who embodies their opposite. Imagine the contradiction. It's analogous to a sober scientist being a secret devotee of palm reading, or a classical conductor enjoying Britney Spears in his spare time, or a Raccoon who spends $1,000 for a weekend seminar with Deepak Chopra or Tony Robbins.

More generally, I detest religious people who make religion look foolish or evil. There are few greater sins. Maybe none, for it is the one sin that negates all the others.

Monday, April 28, 2008

On the Cosmic Meaning of Race

I guess it's hard to avoid the big kerfuffle of the day, which is Jeremiah Wright's speech before the NAACP over the weekend, in which he claimed that "black brains" have a different neurological structure than "white brains," so that cultural differences would be rooted in our hardware, not our software, so to speak. (Here is a link to the video.) Ironically, this is what got the authors of The Bell Curve in so much trouble a decade ago, for it is strictly forbidden to entertain the idea that race could involve any "essential" differences as opposed to "accidental" ones.

Now, there is no question that Jeremiah Wright is a lunatic, a racist, and a hate-monger, but that's beside the point, for truth -- if it is truth -- cannot be sullied by its vehicle. 2 + 2 = 4 is no less true even if it comes out of the deranged mouth of a Keith Olbermann. But let's look at this in a detached and disinterested way, and see if there's any truth to it.

This subject is truly the "third rail" of academia, so I will no doubt say something offensive in what follows -- or, at the very least, something that will be willfully misunderstood. On the one hand, we're all supposed to be obsessed with race and racial differences, and yet, deny that they have any intrinsic basis. If you are a politically correct leftist, you must simultaneously believe that race is "everything" and yet "nothing." It is of the utmost importance in judging people, and yet, of no importance at all. To believe there are racial differences is to automatically brand oneself a nazi, even if one is positively disposed to the differences. It's a very confusing message. Remember the Seinfeld episode, in which Jerry proclaimed that he loved Asian women? Elaine responded, "that's so racist!," and a bewildered Jerry asked words to the effect of, "how can it be racist? I said I love them."

As an example of how ideology shapes scientific perception -- or what the scientist is "permitted" to believe, and even perceive -- it has long been assumed in anthropological circles that race is entirely contingent and superficial. We are all descended from the same small band of Homo sapiens from as recently as 70,000 years ago, and that's just too short a time in evolutionary terms to result in any real changes to the human genotype. On this assumption, all human beings are genetically no different than a human being from 70,000 years ago. I am hardly the first to observe that this stance is largely an institutional reaction to the monstrosities of the racial theories of the 20th century and to the legacy of Western slavery.

The most recent scientific evidence suggests that the idea that evolution ceased 70,000 years ago is simply untrue. Awhile back I posted on Nicholas Wade's Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors (Wade is a science writer for the New York Times, no less), and he says that there is no question that significant genetic changes have taken place within just a few generations as a result of certain human groups being isolated from one another.

I don't recall all of the details, but I do recall Wade's example of the Ashkenazi Jews, whom he said rapidly developed higher IQs because they were prevented from working in most fields as a result of European anti-Semitism. In short, Jews could mostly find work in "disreputable" fields that required a certain kind of more abstract mental ability as opposed to "honest labor." But Jews got the last laugh, as they were genetically selected for higher IQs in a very short span of time. If this is true, it would explain why Ashkenazi Jews continue to have a significantly higher IQs than the average. (That's not me talking, but Wade summarizing the scientific evidence.)

Another relevant book along these lines is Richard Nisbett's The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently...and Why. The Publishers Weekly review says the book

"may mark the beginning of a new front in the science wars. Nisbett, an eminent psychologist..., contends that 'human cognition is not everywhere the same' -- that those brought up in Western and East Asian cultures think differently from one another in scientifically measurable ways.... Westerners tend to inculcate individualism and choice..., while East Asians are oriented toward group relations and obligations ('the tall poppy is cut down' remains a popular Chinese aphorism). Next, Nisbett presents his actual experiments and data, [which] seem to show East Asians [to be] measurably more holistic in their perceptions (taking in whole scenes rather than a few stand-out objects). Westerners, or those brought up in Northern European and Anglo-Saxon-descended cultures, have a 'tunnel-vision perceptual style' that focuses much more on identifying what's prominent in certain scenes and remembering it."

Now, I am not a big fan of IQ testing as a measure of general intelligence, and I believe that any average human being is equipped to comprehend absolute truth; conversely, a high IQ in no way correlates with conformity to truth, much less to creativity. If anything, the opposite is true. After a certain cut-off point, a high IQ is associated with less creativity, not to mention a narcissistic pride that results in idiosyncratic deviations from truth, which are no more than an egoic and thoroughly disposable "song of myself." Conformity to truth requires a humility that is too often lacking in the intellectually grandiose.

We needn't look further than leftist academia to appreciate the truism that a certain kind of one-dimensional high intelligence more often than not correlates with systematic nonsense, not truth. For example, college educated people vote overwhelmingly Republican, while people who have attended graduate school (business or economics excepted, of course) vote overwhelmingly Democrat. This doesn't surprise me in the least, as the problem of over-education is actually much more harmful than the problem of under-education. The latter group causes relatively few societal problems compared to the former. This is why William F. Buckley famously quipped that he would prefer to be governed by the first 100 names in the Boston telephone book than the Harvard faculty, and why he was correct. It truly takes an over-educated buffoon to believe most of the nonsense that comes out of academia.

You can only be a racist if you believe that race is unvaryingly rooted in genetics, and that certain groups are unavoidably superior and therefore inferior. But again, what if different groups are just different, but not in any pejorative sense? Or, what if each group has its strengths and weakness, so that it is once again not a matter of "either/or" but "both/and"? Just as the human being is not male or female, but the complementarity of male/female, what if the archetypal Man is all of the races harmoniously combined? What if we really should cherish the differences rather than use them as a battering ram for leftist grievance-mongering and victimization?

The most up-to-date research on intelligence indicates what should be a truism, that intelligence is not only not a general construct (or not only), but that it has many relatively independent "modules." For example, one can obviously be a musical genius but a political dolt. Too many painful examples come to mind. Likewise, one can be a scientific genius, like Einstein, and be a philosophical mediocrity and political nuisance. Or, one can be a religious genius and be a scientific kook. One can have rhetorical skills, like Obama, which conceal an intellect that is mediocre, or poor rhetorical skills, like President Bush, and have a superior IQ.

Now, I don't happen to believe that race is genetic -- or only genetic (everything is by definition genetic in some sense, so it's a tautology). Furthermore, one of the most critical points to bear in mind is that intelligence is on a Bell curve anyway, so that each group actually contains all of the human potential, just in a different mixture. Yes, the vast majority of immortal jazz musicians were black, and I believe only could have been black. And yet there have been some white jazz musicians that also achieved aesthetic perfection, e.g., Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Art Pepper.

As Schuon observed -- and Schuon is a person who not only loved racial differences, but truly cherished them -- "If racism is to be rejected, so is an anti-racism which errs in the opposite direction by attributing racial difference to merely accidental causes and which seeks to reduce to nothing these differences by talking about blood-groups, or in other words by mixing up things situated on different levels." To put it another way, nothing as precious and valuable as these differences could be a result of mere genetic shuffling. Thus the differences between, say, Taosim and Christianity, which really do involve different "inflections" of the one truth, even though -- at least according to Schuon -- they are each "complete."

What we call "race" must be a combination of genetics, culture, archetypal essences, and individuality. So it is impossible in principle to reduce someone to his race, even if we can discuss it in general terms. Furthermore, it seems to be something we can't help noticing, even if we needn't attach any negative connotations to it. For example, my son's best friends are a Japanese boy; a Chinese-American girl; an African-American adoptee of a white couple; and a boy and girl of a mixed Caucasian/African American couple. We assumed that Tristan would grow up not noticing race, but the other night we were watching a Dodger game, with the Japanese pitcher Hiroki Kuroda on the mound. Tristan happily exclaimed, "he looks like KK!," his little Japanese friend.

One of the reasons I am so disoriented by the left, is that by the 1970s, like any good liberal, I had been naive enough to believe that Americans really were "beyond race." I was raised to believe that it was of no importance, and I didn't even know any liberals who believed otherwise. It seems to me that only with the OJ trial was the mask ripped off, and the full extent of the horror of invidious leftist race obsessions became apparent. That's when it dawned on me with great force that these people are not like me. Not African-Americans. The left. And that is much deeper than any mere racial difference. Let's put it this way: I am a different race than Jeremiah Wright, but the same one as Thomas Sowell. But I wish I were the same race as Bobby Bland or Van Morrison....

To be continued....

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Lumin Beings & Loony Moonbats

New policy: Saturdays will feature an edited post from two years previous. No post on Sundays. Policy may change at any time without my noticing.

*****

In certain ways, it's very simple: you become like that to which you look up. This is one of the bases of normal human development. As children, we require models to imitate, identify with, and internalize. My son, who is three years-old, already mimics and/or mocks everything I do. Yesterday I told him to stop playing in the garbage in the kitchen. He looks at me and calmly says, get a grip, Daddy.

This "mimesis" is fundamental to being human, and it doesn't stop in early childhood. It emerges again quite powerfully in adolescence, during which there a deep hunger for models -- which often end up being bad ones by default -- to imitate. You'll likely see it again in your professional life, as you try to define your own approach to your craft or profession. At first the model will seem exterior, but eventually, through an osmotic psychic process that isn't entirely clear, we "become" the model from the inside. We no longer require the external support.

It is just so with the spiritual life. Anonymous Friend writes that one venerates (i.e., loves and respects) "a non-incarnated being -- a departed person, a saint, or a hierarchical being -- in a disinterested manner. Your veneration -- which includes love, respect, gratitude, the desire to conform, etc. -- cannot fail to create an invisible link of sympathy with its object," as like calls out to like.

He continues: "It may be in a subtle and dramatic way, or rather in a slow, gradual and almost imperceptible way -- this does not matter -- the day will come when you will experience the presence... not a fluidic, semi-electrical presence close to you in space -- as in the apparition of a phantom or ghost -- but the breath of radiant serenity, of which you know with certain knowledge that the source from which it emanates is not at all in you. It influences and fills you but it does not take its origin in you; it comes from outside of you.

"Just as you know, in drawing near to a fireplace, that the warmth that you feel does not arise from you but rather from the fireplace, so also do you feel that the breath of serenity in question is due to an objective presence."

Once such a relationship is established, "it is up to you to remain silently concentrated so that the relationship established is subsequently developed, i.e., that it gains in intensity and clarity -- that it becomes a meeting in full consciousness." (My vibrant relationship with Anonymous Friend is a fine example of what he's talking about.)

It is largely because of our postmodern materialism and cynicism that we no longer seem to appreciate a process that is quite natural and must have felt obvious to generations past. In other words, something unnatural and inhuman has to be superimposed over this process in order for us to deny or be unaware of its operation.

Perhaps it is also because the process requires a certain childlike trust and unguarded spontaneity -- the very same way the little boy expectantly looks up to his father. We begin with a “feeling response” that is actually of greater significance than the literal truth or falsehood of the teacher’s claims.

Rather, a sort of “chemistry” or “resonance” must first be established -- which is actually very similar to psychotherapy. It is as if one must first be capable of recognizing someone who speaks “from truth” before we can discuss this or that particular truth. You might say that the true spiritual "medium" is the message. In fact, for many people with a "bhakti" temperament, this devotion is all they require.

If we try to identify with this source before honoring it as greater than ourselves, we will simply build a new addition to our ego. This is the esoteric meaning of "honor your father and mother." The ego can either orient itself around its true parent or pledge its loyalty to the "father of lies."

Throughout this process is the dual mystery of word and incarnation. In every case of identification and eventual internalization, it is as if an external seed is planted in the fertile ground of the soul, eventually taking root there and blossoming on its own. Then it is capable of producing its own seed. Sonflowering seeds. It is a very organic process. But the garden must be regularly watered, weeded, and harvested. Or, topped and smoked.

We are all looking for our fixed "star" to guide us -- that which we may follow without reserve. This star does not necessarily have to take human form, but it can be a big help. The star is your future Self, calling you to join it.

In life, we can become so lost that we seem to lose our orbit, like a planet that is too far away and begins to drift off aimlessly into space. Secular leftism is an entire philosophy that elevates the drifting planet to a virtue. Gaia replaces the sun, which, ironically, makes secularism the most vain and self-centered of all philosophies.

But it is also an infra-human philosophy, for man was made to revolve around the spiritual sun, just as a boy was made to revolve around his terrestrial father, who should be a reflection of the celestial light. Take away the light and warmth of the sun, and we live in a cold, dead universe: a culture of death is its natural consequence and intellectual blandmaiden.

Have you ever seen the sun shining at midnight? Even when all else is dark, in the middle of the night, you can see the light of the sun reflecting off of the moon. Who is the moon? The moon has always been conceptualized in feminine ways -- after all "moon" and "menses" are etymologically related. Wisdom is sophia or Mary, and true wisdom is always reflected from a greater source.

The moon is not the sun, and we are not God. But we can become receptacles or "luminaries," that is, lumin beings who ride the wild soph on waves of divine light. Or we may become glittering moonbats, those dim bulbs who form a circle and flick their Bics to look for the sun.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Humanity is One... Unfortunately

Why is it that these Buddhist trolls who believe the self is an illusion always have the most unattractive selves? I suppose it's like an unappealing woman who becomes a feminist and decides that gender is just a social construct anyway, so she can pretend she's not missing anything. Likewise, what these vulgarized Buddhists call "emptiness" we call a "major blind spot." It doesn't reflect well on Buddhism, which obviously has its share of perennial wisdom, even if it can never be "ultimate."

I just read a book by one of these blinkered new-age Buddhist types, and all I can say is, if your prose has the capacity to set my teeth on edge, you're probably not as liberated as you think. Rather, you're just in denial of the malignant power of your self, or, at the very least, unaware of the aesthetic requirements of Truth. (Of course, this has no common measure with the inevitable psychic "disturbance" caused by genuine sages, saints, and mystics, which is a mark of authenticity, Jesus being absolutely paradigmatic in this regard. Only the ultimate Life could inspire the ultimate murder in the wrong type of people.)

No, the body and the Self (as opposed to the local and contingent ego) are both real and enduring (i.e., the Real is reflected in both body and Self). Last night the Dreamer provided me with another vivid reminder of this. As I have said before, for all practical purposes, I don't think you can really eliminate mind parasites, any more than you could eliminate all the bacteria and viruses from the world (nor would you want to). But you can "outgrow" your mind parasites. Or, put it this way: if you have a particularly disruptive and dysfunctional mind parasite, you can confront it head on, say, in therapy, and gain insight into its ways and means and try to rid yourself of its mean ways.

But in a more general sense, it is also possible to simply become "larger" and more capacious than your mind parasites, so that they no longer contain you, but rather, the reverse: you contain them by virtue of your psychic "growth" or maturity, and mind parasites can't grow if you don't feed them with the experiences they require. I suppose it's similar to having a robust immune system that can either ward off infections or tamp them down before they get out of hand. An immature or compromised immune system can't do that. The point is that the same infection -- say, the flu -- can be deadly for a person with a compromised immune system, e.g., children, the elderly, AIDS patients, but not a big problem for others. Same parasite; very different result.

Just so, the identical mind parasite -- let's say, envy, because it is so ubiquitous and pesky -- can be contained in one person, but become the ruling passion (i.e., the container) of another, say, a leftist. In so many ways, the left is simply the mind parasite of envy writ large, the normalization of a particular soul-pathology. And once the parasite is normalized, there is no hope of transcending it.

To cite an obvious example, you often hear clueless leftist neo-Marxist elites such as Obama say that they just don't understand how a middle class conservative can "vote against his economic interests" -- which is just another way of saying that they just don't understand people who aren't plagued by envy. Of course the little people are envious. They just channel it into guns, or religion, or homophobia, or voting Republican.

But in truth, affluent leftist elites -- the Hollywood herd of independent minds is the quintessential example -- merely project their own envy into "the little people" for whom they have such palpable contempt, under the guise of "caring" about them. This is why the ministrations of the leftist always feel so creepy and malignant to a normal person. It feels so creepy because it is so narcissistic and "off key," and has nothing to do with your actual personhood. Rather, it specifically robs you of your unique personhood -- which is your most precious gift, being that it represents "freedom lived" (in the higher sense).

For example, I heard someone say that Obama's understanding of the average American seems about as deep as a Bruce Springsteen song, to such an extent that he should appoint him Secretary of Labor. Now, I was a union member and working class stiff for half of my adult life, and it was strictly laughable that Springsteen's depressingly cartoonish vision of a blue collar American Hell had anything to do with my life.

In fact, based upon his morose lyrics, I am quite sure that my life -- and my internal world -- was more rewarding than his. I certainly wouldn't want to be him for anything. I mean imagine, if you will, the darkness of someone who confesses to actually receiving spiritual sustenance from Maureen Dowd and Paul Krugman. That is quite literally hell, equivalent to gaining "intellectual sustenance" from Air America or huffingtonpost.

Unlike me, Springsteen was and is a pampered millionaire who has never worked a day in his life. But outward circumstances do not alter the contours of the self, which again, endures. In Springsteen's case, he had to do something with his envy, since it could no longer be rationalized, so he simply put it into people like me. At the same time, he became a leftist, which allowed him to be free of my imaginary (projected) envy of him, since now the government will "appease" my (his) envy by taking away stuff from "the wealthy" and giving it to contemptible losers like me. I wish that Springsteen would just stop voting against his economic interests and leave me alone.

The whole thing is so transparent. When the left complains about "tax cuts for the wealthy," this is simply their psychic transformation of greed and envy into a bogus altruism that allows their parasites to "sleep." But these parasites never sleep, as the Dreamer reminded me last night. What the leftist really means is that "poor people are envious of my stuff, so we'd better give these losers some 'free' stuff from the government, so I won't feel so persecuted by my undeserved wealth." This is why all the Hollywood entertainers complain about "CEO pay" or "income disparity," but not a single one of them complains about the excessive salaries of movie stars or rappers. You will never see Sean Penn structure his contract so there is not such a chasm between his salary and that of the lowly set carpenter or assistant editor.

The self does not end at your skin boundaries, that's for sure. Projection is going on all the time, and it's best to try to understand what you're projecting rather than imagining that you are free of this ubiquitous mechanism. You may not feel your toxicity, but that's because we do.

In other words, before you blithely proclaim that "all is one," you had better understand what this implies, i.e., its dark side of unwanted psychic influences passed from mind to mind. Obviously this applies on both the micro (individual) and macro (collective) levels, and both above and below. For example, Obama's bogus call for "unity" is actually just tyranny in disguise, since his notion of "bringing us together" is "to have conservatives live with getting a 100% liberal agenda jammed down their throats" (Bill Otis). There is the white unity from which the diversity of colors emerges, and the black unity that denies diversity by blending all the colors.

Likewise, Jimmy Carter is a transparently loathsome, vicious, and poisonous human being who is not only clueless to his evildoing, but sanctimoniously imagines that he is morally superior to the rest of us. Carter will never know how toxic he is, even though (or, more precisely, because) the toxins leak out everywhere, and we must bear them. And yet, he is at peace.

Indeed, Carter is a man of peace. But like so many others of his ilk -- Gandhi comes to mind -- he's really just a peaceive aggressive S.O.B. in denial of his belligerent parasites. Never trust a peace-monger, unless they happen to be carrying a big sword and know how to consciously use it, and whom to use it upon. Righteous aggression is infinitely preferable to the morally depraved passive-aggressiveness of the left, who are quite naturally kind to the cruel (e.g., Hamas) while being cruel to the kind.

Anyway, just as the immune system is based upon a sophisticated system of identification in which your body is able to distinguish self from not-self, the more you know about your mind parasites, the less likely you will be to act them out in the manner of yesterday's "enlightened" troll, who is the only person who is unaware of his samskary monsters. In short, if you are unaware of your mind parasites, someone else will be, for I regret to inform you that We Are the World, and there's not a damn thing you can do about it.

This is the peril of living in the "human community," which is a vast field of projection, for better and worse; without projection, we could never become human, but pathological projection leaves us either less than or "all too" human. Thus the wise words of Jesus, "watch and pray," or pray while keeping one eye on your mind parasites, so they don't prey on you -- or others.

Reminds me of a Big Joe Turner song, in which he assures his scheming woman,

If you see me sleeping, baby,
Please don't think that I'm drunk.
I got one eye on my pistol
And the other one on my trunk.


***
Leftists have hijacked the educational establishment to use it as a huge projective field in which to infect children and young adults with their mind parasites. Dr. Sanity:

"Taking the mind of a child and feeding it exclusively on your ideological pablum is not only the most cruel and abusive of behaviors; it also ensures that such a mind becomes cognitively stunted and morally impaired (much like the minds of teachers so steeped in ideological bullshit like Bill Ayers and his cohorts from the 'loving' 60's, who so proudly and caually approve of oppression and violence toward those who disagree with them)."

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Cosmic Man and the Source of Certitude

Last night the Dreamer gave me a series of vivid dreams that confirmed most everything I wrote in my post yesterday, including, most importantly, the existence of the Dreamer himself. That's a form of confirmation and a source of certainty, but it obviously isn't "scientific" certainty. In fact, whatever I write, I feel as if it is backed by the full faith and credit of forces greater than myself, hence, the certainty that is so bobnoxious to trolls.

On the other hand, I often wonder at the source of the scientific materialist's certainty, since it is a metaphysic that doesn't permit man access to any certainty at all. Only revelation can do that, understood in its three senses as the Cosmos, the uncreated Intellect, and Scripture. So why is the materialist so insistent about his beliefs? It makes no sense. Of all people, they should be the ones to not only confess ultimate ignorance, but the impossibility of exiting that impoverished, third-world state in any absolute way that transcends matter.

But they don't. Rather, they are filled with certainty, which is only a disguised form of pseudo-faith. Today at American Thinker there is a piece that touches on this, The Left's Theft of the Open Society and the Scientific Method. It goes into a topic we have discussed here in the past, that is, the curious fact -- Orwellian, even -- that George Soros, one of the sweetest sugar daddies of the sour infantile left, claims to be an advocate of Karl Popper's "open society," when his leftist philosophy represents its single greatest threat. It is strictly impossible to believe in the open society and to be a man of the left. Impossible. Popper was a liberal, not a leftist. How can someone be so stupid -- unless they aren't stupid at all, just evil? Yes, that was ratorical.

But this is hardly anything new. Carson writes of the truism that "the Left misappropriates intellectual capital for perverse ends, in order to lend itself a veneer of respectability and befuddle its critics." I'm not a big fan of Popper's philosophy -- I much prefer his coontemporary, Polanyi, who covered the same ground as Popper, but in a deeper way that is entirely compatible with religion. In fact, to my knowledge, Popper was a materialist, which automatically makes his philosophy ungroundable, and rooted in the same metaphysical error as his opponents. To blame Plato for Marx is like blaming Moses for Chomsky.

As Carson notes, Popper's main villain was "Marxist historical inevitability and its pink cousin Western progressivism. We cannot predict scientific discoveries. Otherwise, they would not be discoveries. Scientific discoveries have an enormous influence on the future. Therefore, we cannot predict the future. Marxists and progressives who think that they represent the future are dangerous and deluded."

But Popper was ultimately wrong because man does have access to certainty, just not the horizontal certainty of scientism or leftist historicism. Rather, he has access to a realm of "vertical certainty" that comes clothed in various symbolic or exoteric forms that must be "decoded" to reveal their essential harmony and their unitary source in the Cosmic Dreamer.

In this sense, religion is certainly "falsifiable," just not in the scientific/materialistic sense of the word. For example, to say that "God is evil" is easily falsifiable on the plane of a priori metaphysical certitude, just as "all men are created equal" is easily confirmable. Besides, to say that "falsifiability" is the key to knowledge is like saying that "no" is the key to "yes." Again, as per Gödel, man has a source of certainty that cannot be reduced to any logical system.

You can never vanquish the left on its own materialistic level, otherwise you have made the central concession that matter is the only level. It is fighting ire with fire. A Popperian would have to say: we hold the following hypothesis to be untrue because unfalsifiable, that all men are created equal.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program about the human body. Speaking of which, is it really possible that biology and natural selection tell us everything we need to know about the human body? What a moronic belief. It's like suggesting that physics tells us everything we need to know about music or architecture. I suppose in a way it does, being that architecture is "frozen music," just as quantum physics suggests that the ponderable world is a kind of "solid energy." Therefore, man's body is a combination of geometry + music. And we are once again back to Male and Female, or the Absolute and the Infinite.

Obviously, everything we know can only be known within the "environment" of our human form, both in its objective and subjective modes. Nevertheless, the human form is absolute, being that man, unlike any other animal, is capable of transcendent truth. In other words, as Schuon points out, "the human form cannot be transcended, its sufficient reason being precisely to express the Absolute, hence the untranscendable." Critically, this cuts off any purely evolutionist, reductionist viewpoint at the knees -- or ankles, really. For if man could be reduced to the forces of natural selection, his form "would be the result of a prolonged elaboration starting from animal forms; an elaboration that is at once arbitrary and unlimited." No final truth could be known, including that one.

Do you see the point? In this context, there could exist no truth-bearing animal. The ontological gap between the highest animal and the lowest man is so great as to be quite literally infinite, as infinite as the gaps between being and non-being, or between a living and non-living cosmos. In fact, to even say "cosmos" is to say life and mind, no? Here's a hint:

"The word Cosmos... meant originally 'order,' and this order is perceived as harmony, as consonance between ourselves and the Universe. This idea was developed as the correspondence between the Macrocosmos (the World) and the Microcosmos, or Man, with sometimes the Temple as link, as 'proprotional mean' between the two" (Perry).

Thus when you "go to church" -- in whatever form -- you are attempting to reconcile the Micro- and Macrocosmos; or, to be perfectly accurate, to personally experience their a priori unity. You know, One Cosmos. Under you-know-who, the only thing it could possibly be under. Call it 1 under O, if you like. It's certainly not "one cosmos over matter," much less "one mind over Darwin." That is strictly impossible.

Rather, you can only know about a unitary cosmos to the extent that you yourself are one: if thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. Again, obvious, is it not? The human mind intuits the prior oneness of existence because that is the human privilege. It cannot be surpassed by "evolution," because it is already ultimate. "The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made" (Rom: 1:20).

By this we know, that all human properties proceed from one; that they all have but one only root and mother; otherwise, one man could not understand another.... Man has indeed all the forms of all the three worlds lying in him; for he is a complete image of God, or of the Being of all beings. -- Jacob Boehme

Of this you may be certain. For it is the certainty without which there can be none, and to deny it is to deny the very roots of knowledge. Plus, Petey said so, and that should be enough for anyOne.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Body of Your Dreams (4.22.10)

If the human body carries a message, who's the messenger? Is it Darwin or God? Or some weird hybrid, like Dargod or Godwin? In other words, if the body is a reflective surface, does it only reflect the below, or does it also convey information about the above?

As we have discussed before, this is a problem science can't even pose, let alone resolve, because it excludes at the outset that which it is not predisposed to believe. But for the believer, there can be no privilege higher than Truth, regardless of where it leads or comes from. Science can only deal with a small subset of this greater Truth, and cannot even justify the existence of its own assertions, as per our friend Gödel.

Speaking of Gödel, now that I think about it, there were probably three or four singular intellectual developments in the 20th century that must be counted as being of the utmost importance to metaphysics, for they decisively undermined the entire metaphysical framework of reductionistic scientism.

In no particular order, these would be Gödel's theorems, which proved that any sufficiently complex logical system contains assumptions that cannot be justified by the system, but which are nevertheless true in the platonic sense (by extension, this means that a logical system can be consistent or complete, but not both).

Never forget Gödel.

Second, the nonlocality of the cosmos, as per the "experimental metaphysics" of Alain Aspect, which showed that subatomic particles are in instantaneous communion, irrespective of the distance involved.

Third, the emergence of chaos and complexity theories, revealing the deep fractal order of the cosmos at all levels, and how complex systems are governed by nonlocal attractors.

And fourth, the systematic mapping of the unconscious mind, showing that human thought results from a dialectical (or "bi-logical") synthesis of the asymmetrical conscious and the symmetrical unconscious mind.

Any attempt to comprehend the world without these deep truths will be feeble at best. As you may have noticed, religion has no difficulty accommodating these truths (indeed, it rests upon them), whereas they are highly problematic for any linear, atomistic, rationalistic, or reductionistic metaphysic. For example, anyone who has felt the real presence of a Great Soul who is no longer technically living, has no problem with nonlocality. I mean, I rely upon guidance from the "communion of saints" in the same way another person might rely upon wikipedia. I just take it for granted that they can speak to one in the here and now, across any spatial or temporal boundaries. It's not magic. Rather, it would be magic if they couldn't.

Nor does any religious person have a problem with the idea that science can provide no final answers to the quandary of existence. Rather, he is very comfortable with the provocative symbolism of revelation, which vaults the mind into a higher and deeper understanding, into the very dimension from which truth and revelation emanate like so many sparks from a central fire. Science can't do that.

And surely, no believer has a problem with the idea of mysterious archetypal attractors that seem to canalize or lure existence from a nonlocal phase space. Isn't this why we pray to do the Creator's will, to conform ourselves to the greatest and most attractive Attractor of them all?

And what sophisticated believer would be a big enough ass to think that mere logic exhausts the Real? Please. We thank God for the unruly symmetrical logic of the unconscious mind, for it is truly the Spice of Life. Without it, we couldn't have imagination, poetry, mythology (in its higher sense), and even the visionary leaps of the true scientist. If not for the unconscious (I should really say "transconscious" or "metaconscious"), bean-counting mathematicians would be the legislators of this world, instead of poets and prophets.

Anyway. Where were we? Yes, the message of the human body. That reminds me. Did you know that I've never had a professional massage on my human body? I think it might help this persistent stiffness in my neck. But I'm the kind of person who likes his space. Boundary issues, I suppose. Being touched like that by a stranger might just make me more tense. And if it's a man, forget about it. Is that homophobia? What do you think? An elderly, unattractive woman. That's what I need.

Now, as we were saying yesterday, the supreme principle breaks out into the absolute and infinite, or the male principle and the female principle. As Schuon writes, "each of the two bodies, the masculine and feminine, manifests modes of perfection by definition evoked by their respective sex; all cosmic qualities are divided in fact into two complementary groups."

This is just as the great physicist Neils Bohr might have predicted. In fact, in my list of 20th century metaphysical breakthroughs, I should have mentioned the principle of complementarity. In your day-to-day life, whenever you are confronted with a seemingly unresolvable paradox, it's almost always a case of complementarity -- not "either/or," but "both/and" -- for example, time/eternity, form/substance, subject/object, matter/spirit, wave/particle, conscious/unconscious, male/female, science/religion, intelligent design/natural selection, etc.

As it pertains to the complementarity of male/female, Schuon points out that there is naturally something anterior to this, which is "the non-material being that was the primordial androgyne," and "which survives in each of us." This is Adam Kadmon, the Cosmic Man, or divine blueprint for humans. Or, as I put it in the Coonifesto, The body, an ephemeral harmelody of adams forged from within stars, our life, a fugitive dream within the deathless, sleeping what's-His-G-d-name.

What this means in plain english -- I think -- is that the human form is a "harmelody," i.e., a complementary synthesis of vertical chords (the archetypes) and horizontal melody (or terrestrial plunge into time and evolution), and that we are of a nonlocal piece with the stars that gave birth to the elements of which we are composed. In other words, when a human being looks at a star in the night time sky, he is really registering photons from a long-ago event that might very well mirror his own cosmic birth. The cosmos is thoroughly entangled with itself in this bizarre manner, so that we can literally see our own cosmic past as it arrives at our doorstep.

And to say that we are but a fugitive dream within the deathless, sleeping what's-His-G-d-name, is simply to acknowledge that our life is a dream dreamt by the nonlocal Dreamer beyond name and form, a Dreamer that lives within our deepest Self. Yes,

The world of things that come to be and cease to be is a world of dreams. He who is asleep and dreaming (in the literal sense) in this world is in reality dreaming doubly; and when he wakes (in the literal sense), he is like a man who has been awakened from an "incidental" sleep, but has given himself up again to his "natural" sleep. --Hermes

So awaken to the great Dreamer who dreams the dream of this cosmos, and dream actively instead of being passively dreamt -- especially by the hypnopompous dreams of sleeping materialists.

I once had a dream. I dreamt that I, even though a man, was pregnant, pregnant and full with Nothingness like a woman who is with child. And out of this Nothingness God was born. --Meister Eckhart

*****
If you have half an hour to spare, check it out. I think we have ourselves a new Black Messiah, definitely not the same as the old Black Messiah. It's what happens when one awakens from the slave-dream of the left. This guy's more dangerous to liberalism than marriage, hard work, and lack of self-pity (TW: Julie):