Saturday, June 07, 2008

Why Can't a Democrat be More Like a Man? (5.30.09)

One of the most interesting works of anthropology I’ve ever read is The Human Animal, by Weston LaBarre. LaBarre was both an anthropologist and a psychoanalyst, and this book deals with exactly what I attempted to outline in Chapter Three of my book, that is, how primates and proto-humans eventually evolved into proper (some of us, anyway) human beings. Being that it was published in 1954, many of the details in his book have undoubtedly been superseded by more recent research. And yet, he captured the big picture in a way that few people even attempt to do these days.

I don’t know of anyone else who cites LaBarre as an influence, but if nothing else, he’s a very entertaining writer, full of pithy and astringent comments, asides, and insults. Interestingly, he was a militant atheist, but that doesn’t necessarily bother me. So long as someone has a piece of the truth, their overarching philosophy is of no consequence to me, no matter how shallow or ignorant. I have no difficulty accepting whatever parts of Darwinism comport with perennial truth. I only reject those parts of Darwinism that are not true and cannot possibly be true.

Chapter 6 of The Human Animal deals with sexual differences and the evolutionary circumstances that supposedly allowed humanness to emerge. In an evolutionary tradeoff, human brains grew so rapidly that women had to give birth earlier and earlier, to the point that the brain's incomplete neurology could only be wired together in the extra-uterine environment. The resulting infantile helplessness (and maternal preoccupation) meant that the family unit switched from the mother-infant diad to the mother-father-infant triad. These symbiotic relationships further modified all of their members, as they adapted to -- and became intersubjective members of -- each other, thereby creating the "interior unity" of the family (which mirrors the dynamic interior unity of the Creator).

LaBarre notes that “a society’s attitudes toward women and toward maternity will deeply influence its psychological health and all other institutional attitudes.” He wrote in 1954 -- well before the degradations to womanhood brought about by the feminist movement -- that “It is a tragedy of our male-centered culture that women do not fully enough know how important they are as women.” Sadly, today so many women only know how important they are as men. This is a tragedy of monumental proportions, in part because it also results in men not understanding their own role in terms of being men.

One of the keys to understanding male-female differences lies in examining the different ways in which we are permitted to love. As a child we must love in one way, but in order to become an adult we must love in others. The process is significantly more complicated for males, because our first love object is the mother with whom we are merged. Male identity must first be wrested and won from this primordial union, otherwise there will be no manhood, only maleness. In other words, our love must transition from male-female, to male-male, then back to male-female. Many things can go wrong along the way, as you might well imagine.

On the other hand, female identity is coterminous with their union with the Great Mother, both literally and archetypally. They only have to transition from the female-female love to female-male. As a result, their identity is much more secure, because they never have to renounce the primitive identification with the Great Mother, at least totally. Still, things can and do go wrong, for any number of reasons we don't have time to discuss here.

All primitive men know that women can magically produce children out of their bodies. This is another reason that women are generally more “grounded” and secure in their identity than men are. It would also explain the essential restlessness (and sometimes rootlessness) of men, along with the psychological adaptiveness of male homophobia. (A couple of days ago we were discussing the hobo archetype; there is a reason why they are almost always male, whereas the female usually has a much stronger nesting instinct.)

Femaleness as a category is secure: its undeniable signs are menstruation and maternity. But manhood -- as opposed to mere biological maleness -- has no such obvious visible markers. Rather, it is something that must be constructed and achieved. The adaptive mechanism that allows males to become men is culture.

What connects mother to infant is very concrete: the breast and all it symbolizes and implies ("breast" is a psychoanalytic term of art that is more analogous to "cosmic source of all goodness," if viewed from the infant's omnipotent perspective.) Likewise, what originally connected male to female was the evolutionary change that made females sexually available year-round.

But what connects man to man? “What connects father and son, male and male, is the mystery of logos and logos alone...” It is through this shared pattern that “father can identify with son and permit his infancy, within which son can identify with father and become a man, and within which a male can perceive and forgive the equal manhood of his fellow man.” (In rereading that passage it has a couple of very powerful ideas: permit the infant to live [both literally and symbolically, and both internal and external], and forgive the manhood of fellow men; few cultures have fully succeeded in doing this, certainly not Islamic culture.)

At the foundation of the State, writes LaBarre, “is our struggle to find both paternal power [an aspect of the vertical] and brotherly justice [the vertical prolonged into the horizontal] in the governing of men.” This is why something very psychologically noxious happens when government becomes mother. A similar thing happens when God becomes mother or mother becomes God. It interferes with the primordial basis of culture qua culture, which is to convert boys to men. If that fails to happen -- as with the left -- then civilization either cannot form or will not be able to sustain and defend itself, since there will be no men or manhood, only Democrats, or women and children.

This would explain the (until recently) universal practice of various male initiation rituals, in which boys are sometimes brutally wrenched away from their mothers in order to facilitate male “rebirth” and full membership in the fellowship of men. Again, femaleness is given by biology, but maleness must be proven, not just to oneself, but to the group. If appropriate models are not given for this drive, we will simply have pathological versions of it, such as the urban youth gang, which is all about proving one’s manhood, only to other female-centered boys.

In fact, this is why so much contemporary rap and hip hop is so perversely male. In a matriarchal culture so lacking in male role models, these clueless boys are constantly trying to prove that they are what they imagine a man -- and themselves -- to be. This is why they are such pathetic, brooding, aggressive, and hyper-sexualized caricatures of manhood. (And ultimately this results from female sexuality reverting back to the mother-infant diad, with no role for men.)

Other males -- we call them liberals -- often take women as their role models, with predictable results. They regard auto-castration as the quintessence of civilization and sophistication. They aren't really assertive in a male way, but a catty or bitchy way, like the New York Times or their quintessential shemale, Obama.

Again, male sexual development is inherently more complex and hazardous, for men must first love and identify with the female, only to make a clean break of it and then return to the same object as an adult. Many things can go wrong with this process at each step along the way, as the road is filled with conflict and ambivalence. It explains why men often have the harder time growing up. Still, that's no excuse to elect one president.

Someone once said that men marry women hoping they'll never change, while women marry men hoping to change them. Someone wants to change us, big time. But a big part of manhood is preserving and defending the precious things that were created and handed down to us by our forefathers.

We are about to elect a feminized man whose official policy is to surrender to our enemies, so we have moved well beyond the theoretical to the actual. In the triangulated war between liberals, Islamists, and the left, only one side can win. Our side will lose if we run out of real men because we simply do not create enough of them. We will lose if we allow the new cutural ideal of the feminized adultolescent male to become the ideal. We will lose if we forget that an upright and noble man with the capacity for righteous violence is at the very foundation of civilization.

Liberals sneer at such men, which is to say, men. I found a typical example by a college professor at dailykos, called A Pacifist’s Agony. S/h/it writes that “I've always hated the term ‘war crime,’ since it's an insidious tautology. It implies that some wars are not crimes, and some of the atrocities committed during war are excusable by virtue of their context. I believe that if there can be any single concept by which a civilization ought to be defined it's this: there is no context that can justify the intentional killing of a sentient being who does not wish it. Period” (somehow, I'm sure there is a loophole for abortion).

The professor's job is not to educate students but to make them “politically aware,” which in practice means to arrest their developmental journey toward adulthood. It is a form of spiritual and intellectual body-snatching; for the boys, it means a fantasized acquisition of manhood, for the girls, contempt for it. Before being indoctrinated, students are “not particularly politically aware,” but by semester’s end, if all goes well, they will be “different people. They now understand the direct relationship between their own deliberately inculcated ignorance and the crimes that are committed in their name.” They will have inverted reality, so that they imagine themselves to be Morally Superior to the primitive and murderous men who protect and defend them.

This is why the left must constantly attack and undermine America, for that is what allows the sense of moral superiority to flourish. But the attack brings with it the unconscious fear of father's retaliation, hence the hysterical fears of murderous retribution for "speaking truth" to Father -- fear of spying, of theocratic takeovers, of Al Gore's world melting. When leftists say that George Bush is the world's greatest terrorist, they mean it, although it goes without saying that they have no insight into the unconscious basis of this hysterical projection of their own fear converted to anger and persecution.

Oddly enough, the professor agrees with me that our civilization is threatened: “Chomsky's right. It's over for America. Not just this war, but the American idea. And right now, the peace I'm enjoying in my living room, every selfish mile I drive to and from my home, the electricity that's powering my computer, and the privilege of education that allows me to articulate these thoughts is bought with the blood and dust of all the Hadithas that have made a moment like this and a person like me possible. And it's more than I can bear.”

It’s a fascinating thing about truth. One of the things that makes a fellow believe in a deity, really. As every psychoanalytically informed psychologist knows, there is the patient, there is the truth, and there is the truth they would like to deny, which is why they are in your office. Truth has a life of its own, and has a way of insisting its way into the patient’s discourse, try as they might to prevent it from doing so.

The truth is true, and doesn’t actually require anyone to think it. But this is not so of the lie. The lie is entirely parasitic on a thinker. Furthermore, the lie knows the truth, otherwise it could not lie about it. Pacifism is just such a lie, for it contains the truth to which it is a reaction:

Right now, the peace I'm enjoying in my living room, every selfish mile I drive to and from my home, the electricity that's powering my computer, and the privilege of education that allows me to articulate these thoughts is bought with the blood and dust of men who are far better than I, men who stand ready to do violence against the forces of evil that have made a moment like this and a person like me possible. And it's more than I can bear.

Yes, that would require growing up and facing the Truth.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Three, Two, One, Blessed Off! (5.20.10)

First God and then the world. If you know one you know all. If you put fifty zeros after a one, you have a large sum; but erase the one and nothing remains. It is the one that makes the many. First the one, then many. First God, then His creatures and the world. --Sri Ramakrishna

Or, erase the one in order to get to the zero.

We've said it before, but it's worth repeating, that zero gives birth to the One, the One to two, the two to three, and the three to everything else. This doesn't happen "in time" but prior to it, or "within" the eternal Godhead. It is simply in the very nature of things, which I believe is the mysterious reality which trinitarian theology is trying to convey, i.e., that God is one and three, but also neither, i.e., zero.

Or, you could say that apophatic theologians emphasize the Zero, which is nirguna brahman (God with no attributes), while cataphatic theologians emphasize the One, which is saguna brahman (God with attributes). The former emphasize union through gnosis, the latter union through bhakti. Still, both transmit the gift of knowledge; the gnostic ultimately knows Nothing (or unKnows everything), while the bhakti loves the One to whom he cleaves, and is thereby separated from nothing, which is the highest knowledge!

Listen to the wise words of Swami Ramdas, O little ringtailed one: "There are two ways: one is to expand your ego to infinity, and the other is to reduce it to nothing, the former by knowledge, and the latter by devotion. The Jnani [i.e., gnostic] says: 'I am God -- the Universal Truth.' The devotee says : 'I am nothing, O God, You are everything.' In both cases, the ego-sense disappears." Yes, you may well ask: what is the truth which, in possessing it, renders its possessor a lie? What is the truth that annihilates what was never really alive to begin with?

Or, as one Very Old Boy put it, it is like the cup, which is only useful because of its empty space that "protects" the family jewels. And like the athletic cup, we ourselves benefit from existence, but make use of non-existence. Existence is useless, like trying to live inside of a wall or eat soup from a flat spoon. Variety is the space of life. Live in that space and you'll never be bored, for God is generous, entertaining, a kick in the head, fun for the whole family!

The Zero is simply the dark side of the One; or the One is the bright side of the Zero. And they are forever bethrothed and betruthed, like cosmic man and wife, or Absolute (1, male) and Infinite (0, female). Oops! A dirty world!

The One is the vertical axis of existence, the zero its infinite and even mercurial potential, as it expands out into time and space, from timeless potential to endless plenitude. To ask why a woman can't be more like a man is to ask why the play of existence, or form, can't be more like the serious business of supraformal non-existence -- the latter of which is an even bigger joke. "Things are made from nothing; hence their true source is nothing" (Eckhart). Guffah-HA! "God's naught fills everywhere and his aught is nowhere" (Eckart). That's everything in a naughtshall!

God's essential threeness emphasizes a number of things, such as -- oh, and by the way, don't necessarily believe any of this, much less take it as orthodox theology, since I'm just riff-raffing off the top of my head and trying my best to unknow what I'm talking about and drive away more readers, for it is casual syntax Friday!

Anyway, threeness emphasizes God's going out of himself into the adventure of existence in order to return to himself, which he cannot not do. And the adventure of existence is in reality an adventure in trinitarian consciousness. God's without is our within, so our inward adventure is a journey outside ourselves and back to God. Likewise, God's within is our without, which is why we see traces of beauty and intelligence everywhere we look, like the face of the beloved. Oh, my nocturnal mischief making friends, "the universe is the outward visible expression of the 'Truth,' and the 'Truth' is the inner unseen reality of the universe." Do you not see it?

To put it another way, existence is an adventure of consciousness, in which consciousness becomes what it is not in order to rediscover what it is, which was just the modification of consciousness all along! It is the true Big Bang, and it will never cease banging, because that's what it does, baby. This is the one truth, which is no truth at all. You might say that the deconstructionists recognize this truth "from below," while the Raccoon recognizes it "from above," thereby going from modification to transformation. Thus, the mighty Raccoon may, to the foolish, look for all the world like the deconstructionists he deconstructs. But this is merely to confound the ignorant, for Petey is wise, compassionate, silly! He is always pulling your leg -- upward! Ho!

O, there is only the One Truth which requires no proof, is there not? If not, then you may stop speaking now, and forever! Shut the hell up, Mr. Olbermann! For errors and lies are many, while Truth is One. Or, to turn it around, in the absence of One, there could be no truth at all. None whatsoever. Hear the wise words of Sri Chandrasekharabharatiswamigal of the long and unpronouncable name!

"When [one] has recovered from the disease and regained normal health, nobody asks, 'What is the health you are now having?' The reason is, though diseases may be many and various, health is ever one and the same." Health is not new, it is merely the restoration of the proper state of things. It is the body -- or mind, or soul -- situated in its proper end. The body finds its rest in one station, the soul in another. But if enlightenment or reluxation is a state of total relaxation, then these are the same station. So take good care of your monkey, and your monkey will take care of you, dear friends! So says Scatter, the curious, the easily bored, the malodorous!

In going out of himself, God has left some mighty big footsteps. His revelations are the paths he has left to reascend to their source, are they not? How to get from the outhouse to the penthouse, from the cesspool to the open sea, from the frying pan into the purifying flames? Choose your vehicle: trial by fire, or rebirth by water.

William Law: "I feel within me a consuming fire of heavenly love which has burned up in my soul everything that was contrary to itself and transformed me inwardly into its own nature." Burn, baby, burn, for this agni is ecstasy!

Or, drown yourself in the flood, and flow into the bottomless sea of the naked Godhead. This is the vast O-ocean into which all rivers lose their form and find their end. Yes, you'll lose a drop or two, but you'll gain the whole sea. And if you don't like it there, you can always evaporate, become a cloud, and spend some more time hovering halfway between heaven and earth, or the sun and the soil.

Goodnaugt now!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Sanātana Dharma Bums & Heavenly Hobos

Yes. That's what we are. Sanātana Dharma Bums, eternal hobos wandering the earth or huddled around a fire in the slackheap of the present.

Things I learned in a hobo jungle
Were things they never taught me in a classroom
--Merle Haggard

The hobo used to be be an American archetype. There was a time, before the age of political correctness, when they weren't necessarily patronized as "homeless." Rather, one of the great privileges of America was that one was free to be homeless, to wander, to stay in motion, to not put down roots, to follow that dream wherever that dream may lead. The homesteader and drifter form the warp and weft of the American fabric, like container and contained, male and female, infinite and absolute.

I guess I grew up a loner,
I don't remember ever havin' any folks around.

I don't remember much from my film school education, but I do know that this is an archetype that appears in American cinema, often in westerns, in which the drifter, or outsider, who is "above good and evil," is needed to save the established order. Or, you might say that the establishment is threatened by the uncivilized from below, but rescued by the "post-civilized" from above. John Wayne often played this kind of character. Today he would be arrested by liberal thought police and placed in sensitivity training. Note that George Bush's evocation of this male archetype was completely unacceptable to a thoroughly castrated and feminized left.

I never travel in a hurry,
'Cause I got nobody waitin' for me anywhere.

In Old Europe, the person without place was always considered dangerous, a threat to the established order, but America was founded by wanderers, half of whom put down roots, the other half of whom kept on wandering, first westward, into the frontier, and then, when the physical frontier closed in the late 19th century, inward and upward. (In fact, now that I think about it, my father, who emigrated here from England in 1948, was pretty much of a hobo, working and traveling from town to town until arriving on the west coast and marrying my mother in 1954. In so doing, he was living his childhood vision of America, and having an adventure he never could have had in the Old World.)

Home is anywhere I'm livin',
If it's sleepin' on some vacant bench in City Square,
Or if I'm workin' on some road gang,
Or just livin' off the fat of our great land.

But drifters do not only wander upward. Again, exactly analogous to the dangerous outsiders of the old west, some ventured downward, which was essentially what the whole counter-culture movement was about, beginning in the 1950s and '60s -- Allen Ginsberg, Timothy Leary, Alan Watts, and all the rest.

But in order to break out of the established order, something must first be broken, so it's not surprising that a lot of would-be celestial drifters were initially attracted to false teachers before getting on the right pathless path. Fortunately, God protects the sincere individual who has purity of intent from being fundamentally damaged by these corrupted teachings and teachers.

Culturally and politically speaking, the "downward movement" of the counter-culture became the new establishment of the subsequent generation, now casting conservatives in the role of outsiders and rebels. As Flynn writes in A Conservative History of the American Left, when all of the dust from the 1960s settled, the insurrectionists became the guardians of a new dreary establishment and life-denying conformity, expertly marketing it from childhood on up, from MTV to Rolling Stone, from CNN to the New York Times, from preschool to postgrad, in movies, music, literature, and every other medium.

This is what is so ironic about the Obama campaign, since it has nothing whatsoever to do with real change (as opposed to agitation) or revolution (as opposed to rebellion), certainly not from "above." Rather, it is simply the embodiment of the "acquired truths" and "stale pieties" (Flynn) of the past, now enforced by the mechanism of political correctness and the heavy-handed propaganda arm of the MSM. It is utterly conformist to the core, which is what makes it so simultaneously flimsy and frightening.

I heard Obama's much-praised speech on Tuesday, and -- please, I'm not invoking Godwin's law -- the first thing I thought of was Hitler, not Martin Luther King. When masses of people get swept up in this kind of irrational and hysterical vacuity, it should give pause to any sufficiently sober and detached person. This is not good. Until now, the left was a contemptuous vanguard that had to lead the reluctant masses by the nose. But now, it seems that the boobs are leading the vanguard, which is precisely what knocked Hillary for a loop. "How can these ungrateful little people be thinking for themselves? Even the negroes! How dare they!"

(Obama "sees the necessity of reeling in those of faith, and making them part of the class struggle, while avoiding the harsher approach of demanding that the people give up their faith as a consequence of their commitment to revolutionary change. Americans have proven much more stubborn in the religious realm than the Europeans, who fell hook, line and sinker for Marx, Lenin and Stalin. America might seem more amenable to the kind of Third Way socialism that Hitler brought to Germany, while cunningly using Christian jargon to wile his way into Aryan minds and hearts.")

We're getting sidetracked, aren't we? What can I say? I'm a heavenly hobo and one of Hermes' hermits.

Where I've been or where I'm goin'
Didn't take alot of knowin'

One of my favorite chapters in Meditations on the Tarot is Letter IX, The Hermit. In fact, that's him, on the cover of the book, with a walking staff in his left hand and a lantern in his right. Although I'm not sure, something or someone tells me that this will segue nicely with the material under discussion.

"For it is the venerable and mysterious Hermit who was master of the most intimate and most cherished dreams of my youth, as moreover he is the master of dreams for all youth in every country, who are enamoured by the call to seek the narrow gate and the hard way to the Divine." For surely, we are on a journey, except that it is an inward journey. This is not our home!

No, we are on the move, staff in one hand, fleshlight in the other. The Hermit "possesses the gift of letting light shine in the darkness -- this is his 'lamp'; he has the faculty of separating himself from the collective moods, prejudices and desires of race, nation, class and family -- the faculty of reducing to silence the cacophony of collectivism vociferating around him, in order to listen to and understand the hierarchical harmony of the spheres..."

Thus, he could never be part of the Obama hysteria, for he represents the very opposite of this luciferian movement, which doesn't walk upright unaided, and certainly carries no light! Rather, they all stand in the dark with mutual assistance, otherwise known as a mob. To put it another way, gravity is not a "movement." Rather, it is merely stasis in action. I don't want to be there when it hits bottom, or when the bottom dwellers hit us.

The Hermit moves, but always with both feet firmly planted on the ground, one step at a time, assimilating what he has learned and weaving it into his own substance before moving on: "he possesses a sense of realism which is so developed that he stands in the domain of reality not on two feet, but rather on three, i.e., he advances only after having touched the ground through immediate experience and at first-hand contact without intermediaries -- this is his "staff.'"

With this staff -- which is also the staff of the Sanātana Dharma, or what is always true for all time -- "he creates light, he creates silence and he creates certainty," which is none other than Coon Central, or the supramental clarity of "harmony with the totality of revealed truths and of that which is the object of immediate experience."

As such, this Hermit is "a wise and good father who is a reflection of the Father in heaven." Is it any wonder that Obama -- who knew only a deadbeat father and wooly-headed counter-cultural mother -- was attracted to a sick and twisted father (Rev. Wright) and now wishes to be that mother-father to the rest of us?

But what if you are a Son of the Real who doesn't need Big Government to be your mommy and daddy and shape you into its beastly image?

Then get out of the way, bum! You're blocking the Unity!

... and Unity's just another word for no freedom left to lose...

Keep thyself as a stranger and pilgrim upon the earth, who hath nothing to do with the affairs of this world. --The Imitation of Christ

Rise above time and space
Pass by the world, and be to yourself your own world
. --Shabistari

To be the heavenly Father's Son, one has to be a stranger to the world... --Meister Eckhart

But I keep thumbin' through the phone books,
And lookin' for my daddy's name in every town.
--Merle Haggard, I Take A Lot of Pride In What I AM

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Wait a Minute, What Kind of Christian Are You, Anyway?

That's a question I (or someone pretending to be me) often ask myself. I don't know the answer. Neither does he. The Vedantic kind? The Jewish kind? The Hermetic kind? The Sufi kind? The insufirable kind? The Subgenius kind?

I suppose part of the purpose of this blog is to discover what kind. Among other qualifiers, it would also have to be the jazz kind, in that I suppose I immerse myself in the nonlocal archetypes of Christianity in the same way a jazz musician employs the chordal structure of a composition in order to say what he wants and needs to say. Furthermore, he doesn't know what he is going to say until he says it. To paraphrase Bill Evans, with jazz, you get five minutes of honest music in five goshdarn minutes, whereas in the case of classical, you might get, say, five hours (or five months!) of music in five minutes, or however long it took for the composer to write it.

So this is definitely jazz theology, in that it is totally -- and intentionally -- on the fly and off the cuff. I say "purposely," because the Tollster is right about one thing, which is that God can only be found in the now. It's just that some nows are deeper than others, and that's the whole point of the hole exercise. In order to do this at all, I really need to "cut loose" so as to prevent my mind from getting in the way of the temporal hole, which is why you will have noticed that the posts often have a slightly disjointed quality, to put it kindly. As the Beatles sang, I'm fixing a hole where the rain gets in / and stops my mind from wandering / where it will go / And it really doesn't matter if I'm wrong I'm right / where I belong I'm right / where I belong.

Again, let's go back to the analogy of music. Take Bill Evans and take your friendly neighborhood Norstorm pianist, please. Both are playing "in the now," but only one of them is capable of plumbing the musical now to its vertical depths. In fact, you might say that the superficial person "horizontalizes" the now, when one must find a way to verticalize it and drill down into it. For that is where life is really happening. It's where all of the non-action is.

This is one of the things that prevents me from coontemplating when the next failed book might appear out of nowhere, because a book represents, say, 52 weeks of writing in 7 days, or whatever the ratio might be. I find spontaneous improvisation to be so compelling, that I'm not sure if I could ever revert back to composition. Keith Jarrett has the same problem when he switches back and forth between playing classical and performing his lengthy and totally improvised solo concerts. I read somewhere that he requires six months of preparation to make the transition to what is a totally different mindset. In my case, I think it would be painful to have to go back and reread, edit and polish what I have written, which you sort of have to do if you aren't Jack Kerouac or Larry King.

Perhaps there is a lesson in the fact that Jesus did the same thing. Quite conspicuously, he didn't sit down, spend a few years thinking about reality, and write a book that streaked up the Jerusalem Times bestseller list. Interestingly, for a religion that is supposedly based on "The Book," Jesus is a poor example, for the Gospels provide no evidence that he ever touched one, with the possible exception of peeking at the Torah when the Pharisees were out getting a sandwich at Cantor's deli. In a way, Jesus just "riffed" on certain themes in the Torah, so in that sense I would agree with Pastor Wright that he was probably not just black, but specifically Afro-American.

Just yesterday I was reading about John Coltrane -- who, interestingly, has a church -- an "African Orthodox" Christian church -- named for him. (I don't know anything about it, but the description has a certain Coonish appeal: "Our primary mission at the St. John Coltrane African Orthodox Church is to bring souls to Christ; to know sound as the preexisting wisdom of God, and to understand the divine nature of our patron saint in terms of his ascension as a high soul into one-ness with God through sound. In our praises we too seek such a relationship with God. We have come to understand John Coltrane in terms of his sound and as sound in meditative union with God."

Sounds sound to my ears.

It's kind of interesting, so I'll continue: "The ascension of St. John Coltrane into one-ness with God is what we refer to as the Risen Trane.... [W]e are not dealing with St. John the man but St. John the sound and St. John the Evangelist and Sound Baptist [Boptist? --ed.], who attained union with God through sound.... [T]he Risen Trane is the post 1957 John Coltrane. He who emerged from drug addiction onto a path of spiritual awakening and who gave testimony of the power and empowerment of grace of God in his life and in his Psalm on A Love Supreme, and in his music thereafter. ('At that time, in gratitude, I humbly asked to be given the means and privilege to make others happy through music. I feel this has been granted through His grace. ALL PRAISE TO GOD.') We, too, having been touched by this anointed sound and being called and chosen by the Holy Ghost, endeavor to carry the holy ambition and mantle of sound baptism of St. John Coltrane.

"We are fully aware of the universality of John Coltrane's music and his philosophy, and that his spirit and legacy does reach and touch the lives of people of many different faiths, creeds, and religions. We, however, in this time and place, are grateful for the opportunity to lift up the Name of Jesus Christ through Saint John Coltrane's music, knowing from personal experience and testimony, and from a great cloud of witnesses, that the Spirit of the Lord is in this Sound Praise as it is delivered from heaven through John."

That might sound kooky, but I have to be honest. I too have been "touched by this anointed sound," which was one of the many pointers in my life that brought me back to the vertical. In my book, I make reference to the need for the spiritual aspirant to locate one of those vertical springs that dot the landscape, but surely there are vertical soundscapes that can do the trick as well. Those of you who have a doggerel-eared copy of the Coonfesto will have noticed at least a couple references to the Risen Trane in the Cosmobliteration section, for example,

Spiraling outside in, past the viaduct of dreams, the seventh trumpet dissolving in shee-its! of sound. One Living Being, Life of All, A Love Supreme, take the coltrain to the old grooveyard, return to forever and begin a new corea. The key to your soul, ignited in wonder! (p. 260).

(Some decoding, just this once. At that particular timelessness, I was very much into the music of Chick Corea; "viaduct of dreams" is playgiarized from Van Morrison's Astral Weeks; the "seventh trumpet" is a reference to Revelations, while "sheets of sound" was a jazz critic's famous description of what Coltrane's music sounded like: "his multinote improvisations were so thick and complex they were almost flowing out of the horn by themselves... and the amount of energy he was using could have powered a spaceship.")

So I can well imagine starting up a Church of John Coltrane (or even Bo Diddley, for that matter; perhaps the Rhythmic Church of the Misbegotten Sons of the Eternal Diddley Daddy).

Now, back to the question at hand, "just what kind of Christian are you, Bob?" Yesterday I read a statement supposedly made by Sri Aurobindo, who said that "the demands of truth and the spiritual needs of mankind in this age call for a restoration of the Vedic truths, truths which represent a unique penetration into the nature of existence and which point to an advanced knowledge of the laws of the universe bordering on modern theories of particle physics, quantum mechanics and cosmology.” (I can't confirm that Aurobindo actually said this, as it was somehow sent to me as part of an email forum of which I am not a member or contributor.)

Now, the idea that the One Truth is embodied for all time in the Vedas is referred to as the Sanātana Dharma. As far as we know, the Vedas were the first Revelation -- I mean fully loaded with all the options -- given to man. (I'm not necessarily saying I believe this, I'm just relating what the believers believe.)

As I have said before, but it is worth repeating, religion is not about religion, but about what transcends religion (and everything else). As soon as religion is merely about religion, then boom, you've created a graven and no longer groovin' image. Those who believe in the Sanātana Dharma maintain that all revelations, to the extent that they are authentic revelations, are really a reflection of the One Revelation, like the white light passing through a prism and revealing a diversity of colors. Thus, to ask why there are different religions is a little -- or a lot -- like asking why there are different languages, the reason being because.... Well, just because.

I know what you're thinking -- if English was good enough for Jesus, it should be good enough for the rest of us. But that's beside the point. The point is, the same day I received that unsolicited email about Sri Aurobindo and the Sanātana Dharma, I was reading about the same thing in my god-eared copy of The Spiritual Ascent.

Will you get on with it?!

I'm trying, I'm trying.

But don't you think this solo has gone on too long already? Sometimes I can't tell if I'm just warming up or already finished. I guess it's the latter. I think we'll stick a fork in this load and discuss the Sanātana Dharma tomorrow, as it might just help to answer the question of what kind of Christians we are. Or will be tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

On the Eternal Love Affair Between Truth and Intelligence

God is intelligence occupied with knowing itself. --Meister Eckhart

Obviously I didn't intend to discuss Eckhart Tolle, but now that the subject has come up, we might as well plumb its shallow depths and exhaust it before moving on to the next Oprah Book Club recommendation, at which time I will be happy to revert to my prior ignorance of him and his teaching. I suppose you could argue that he is an important phonymanon, in the sense that he sells millions of humbuggers, so it might be interesting to analyze why people are gobbling them down, devoid of nutrition though they may be. In any event, it's "Chinese theology," in the sense that you're hungry again an hour later.

Why do people prefer McDonalds and Burger King? It's not really a mystery. Apparently, human beings evolved to be attracted to sugar, fat, and salt. So it's not incumbent upon us to explain why people like to eat pizza, donuts, and ice cream. Rather, we need to explain those who are able to transcend their genetic programming through an act of will.

Is this elitist? I don't think so. It simply is what it is. Bear in mind that 50% of human beings are of below average intelligence, and that those who are of above average intelligence are most likely to be the ones who have been systematically miseducated in our left wing indoctrination mills and proud of it. D'oh! But they need religion too...

So I'm guessing that Tolle's audience consists mainly of these two varieties of ignorance. (There are also malevolent people on both ends of the spectrum who, as a result of any number of developmental exigencies, end up with a very troubled relationship to truth, which can range from ambivalence, to resentment, to narcissistic superiority, to outright hostility; all of these types in one way or another engage in "attacks on linking," which don't really damage the truth so much as their capacity to ever know it. The radical atheists come to mind.)

Now, just as man, being man, has an epistemophilic instinct, he also has what might be called, for lack of a better term, a "pneumaphilic" (spirit-seeking) instinct. You could say that the former has to do with "head knowledge" while the latter has to do with "cardiac knowledge," or more precisely, the transcendent unity of head and heart in a higher synthesis that reveals our true deiform nature, as it is consubstantial with God, or of a similar essence: "soul is in body, intellect is in soul, and God is in intellect" (Hermes).

Let us stipulate that Truth is one, but that it necessarily refracts through our prismhouse in the herebelow to reveal a spectrum of disciplines and sub-disciplines, both high and low (and even lower). Thus, for example, we have physics, biology, chemistry, mathematics, etc., each creating its own little knowledge-temple full of specialized disciples.

However, despite the outward diversity, scientists assume an a priori inward unity in the fabric of existence. But instead of looking "up," where the unity actually abides, they look "down," thereby undermining the very unified entity that mirrors the oneness of creation, i.e., the scientist's all-embracing consciousness. Man may know the Absolute because he is a mirror of the Absolute. Trying to find the Absolute in the relative is a fool's errand. But that's fine. Let the dead bury the tenured.

If there is knowledge, there is truth; or, to put it another way, if knowledge does not know truth, huh!, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing, say it again ya'll!

To possess "false knowledge" is analogous to saying "ugly beauty" or "love hate." Truth is the prior reality; in the Raccoon faith, it is not exactly the mind that knows truth. Rather, the mind descends from truth, which is precisely why it can and does mirror the truth, but also why it eventually shade off into the middling relativities of error. As Eckhart put it, "the Father is begetting his Son unceasingly." The Son is not begetting the Father, just as the Word cannot be the cause of Truth. The One participates in the many, or in each of the parts we are able to apprehend; we are able to apprehend them precisely because they share a "relative unity" that the human mind is able to perceive and know.

God, the Absolute, speaks only one word, except that he does so perpetually, or eternally: "God never spake a word but one and that he holds so dear that he will never say another. If God stopped saying his Word, but for an instant even, heaven and earth would disappear" (Meister Eckhart).

Thus, to turn it around, "All creatures that have flowed out from God must become united into one Man." Who is this Man? You could say he is Christ, or the nonlocal Body of Christ, so long as you recognize, along with Augustine, that the Christian religion has always existed -- that before Abraham was, I AM -- except that it only came to be called Christianity after the appearance of Jesus. Knowing this, you can immediately prevent a lot of inter- and intra-denominational mischief, for all truth, to the extent that it is true, ultimately comes from the One (otherwise truth could not be, for it would be purely relative, which is no truth at all).

There is no need to prove the existence of this Absolute Truth, for "it is itself its own proof for those who are able to perceive it" (Henry Madathanas). It cannot not be, on pain of there being no being and no truth. Therefore, whether you like it or not, "Whoever knows him in his proximate aspect, immanent, knows him also in his ultimate aspect, transcendent; the Person seated in our heart, eating and drinking, is also the Person in the Sun. This Sun of men, and Light of lights, is the Universal Self of all things.... He does not [ultimately] come from anywhere nor does he become anyone, but only lends himself to all possible modalities of existence..." (Perry).

And repetey after him: the rend is now redeemable on your mirromortal garment. Just cash in your chimps and say Eloha, that's a good bye for the Love that removes the sin and other scars (speaking allegheirically).

A Raccoon does not claim to "possess" absolute truth, as our critics seem to say. Rather, we are lovers of wisdom and seekers after truth. But even then, not really, for it is the truth that attracts us, not vice versa. So we are not "philosophers," unless it is first understood that God is a promiscuous philanderer, or lover of men, which is why there is philosophy, "theosophy" (the real kind, not the name brand) and even science. His Love is our love, his Light is our light, his Being is our being, his Truth is our truth, and his Revelation is our revelation. We simply realize the contact between the two, and allow grace to take care of the rest in the electrically charged and polarized space in between.


For the Divine Nature of Christ is a magnet that draws into itself all spirits and hearts that bear its likeness. --Tauler

Monday, June 02, 2008

The Wisdom of Over-Educated Fools and Holy Hucksters

Intellect is the satellite of the Deity. --Archytas

The whole stupidity -- or at least superficiality -- of the new age movement in general and of the Eckhart Tolles of the world in particular can be summed up in one word: realizationism. Schuon coined this term to describe a "pernicious error" which nevertheless "seems to be axiomatic with the false gurus of the East and West"; specifically, the claim that "only 'realization' counts and that 'theory' is nothing, as if man were not a thinking being and as if he could undertake anything whatsoever without knowing where he was going. False masters speak readily of 'developing latent energies'; now one can go to hell with all the developments and all the energies one pleases; it is in any case better to die with a good theory than with a false 'realization.' What the pseudo-spiritualists lose sight of only too easily is that... 'there is no right superior to that of the truth.'”

Precisely. A Raccoon would much prefer to live and struggle in the light of Truth than in the realized darkness of a false illumination, the latter of which is comparatively easy to achieve, if we can believe the claims that fill up new age magazines with their glossy ads. Let's pick a few at random. Here: spend a weekend with Deepak Chopra and experience PEACE OF MIND and EMOTIONAL WELLBEING. Yes, but how is that possible if Deepak CREEPS ME OUT and MAKES MY FLESH CRAWL, I mean BIG TIME?! THAT DOESN'T SOUND very PEACEFUL or RELAXING to ME!

Here's an "integral playground" where you can "experience greater liberation through an integral embrace in the arms of Diane Musho Hamilton's Big Heart!" (New agers love that word, "embrace.") Better yet, join Genpo Roshi for "a special way to discover, experience and appreciate your own unique life!" Yes, his enormous BM, or "Big Mind is straightforward and it will open your heart and mind in ways you've never felt before! Zen + Transformation + Spa = Big Mind Miami!" (Also = Even Bigger Credit Card Bill!)

Next page: "This is bigger than you could possibly imagine! Thousands will unite in creating a 'Group Energy Field' for healing the planet! 4 Days of healing energy for $70!" (I know what you're thinking. No, it's not the Democratic convention.)

Oh boy. The Cosmic Narcissism is just nauseating: "The universe has responded to your request.... a path to live everyday by the Law of Attraction and have true wealth through inspiring others! Life Balance! Personal Freedom! Abundance! Financial Independence!" Yes, the universe wants you to be rich! All you have to do is learn how to cooperate with it! Of course, it helps if you have no conscience and know how to use your sociopathy to attract dupes with empty heads and full wallets!

I don't doubt for one moment that all of these magical thinkers are big Obama supporters who would ridicule the Bennie Hinns, Joel Osteens, and Pastor Hagees of the world. As always, extremes meet. Just as intelligence and truth converge at the zero point atop the ontological pyramid, stupidity converges in the darkness below the horizon.

It goes on and on and on. I don't know about you, but I find this stuff rather fascinating in a perverse sort of way. Like the cultural left of which it is a part, it almost cannot be parodied. But as they say, counterfeit money can only only be created if the real thing exists somewhere. Thus, all of this spiritual funny money must have its analogue in real bankable truths.

Brother Deepak again: allow him to -- with a straight face, mind you -- reveal his Happiness Prescription! Yes, let this "renowned global farce," I mean "force," assist you in bending over to receive his "powerful empowerment tool" (sic), so that you too may live in effortless spontaneity! (Available at or wherever DVDS are sold; some limitations apply, for example, possessing rudimentary intelligence or sanity.)

I didn't know this, but Deepak got his start by being the number one pupil of Maharshi Mehesh Yogi, a man who was the fifth Beatle for a few weeks in 1968. Deepak then broke with him in order to start his own financial, I mean spiritual, empire. Of the Maharishi, Frithjof Schuon (who didn't normally name names, but this was in a subsequently published letter) wrote,

"The errors of the Mahesh Yogi movement are patently obvious. In reality the goal of meditation is not to have access to 'limitless energy, heightened efficiency of thought and action, and release from tensions and anxiety [leading] to peace of mind and happiness!' None of these advantages has any spiritual value, for it is not happiness that matters: it is the motive and nature of happiness. The [Yogi] says nothing of this, the sole important question, and this is what condemns him."

Again, precisely. I would much prefer to be unhappy and live in truth than to be "happy" and anxiety-free while living in delusion (if such a thing were not actually an absurdity and impossibility).

Schuon nailed it 40 years ago, referring to "the complete lack of intelligence and barakah [i.e., grace], the propagandistic triviality, the modernist pseudo-yoga style, the quasi-religious pretension." Of the Maharishi, he writes that "I suppose [he] is not a very intelligent man but is endowed with some psychic power; he may also be ambitious. None of this is malicious a priori, but it becomes so, and in this sense the [Maharishi] himself is a victim. False masters are dangerous because they are a mixture of good and evil, and they seduce with the good."

Indeed, I may well have readers who obtained some benefit from TM, but if so, it wasn't because the Maharishi was better than you, but because you are better than him. That is why you ultimately left, for you wanted to commune with someone or someThing you could never surpass, not in wisdom, not in morality, and certainly not in grace.

One more passage by Schuon is worth citing: "It goes without saying that I prefer the most narrow-minded of Catholics -- if he is pious -- to these pseudo-Hinduists, arrogant and permanently damaged as they are. They scorn the religious point of view, which they do not understand in the least and which alone could save them. One sometimes hates what one needs the most."

"And what can one say about the infinite naivete of believing that a method of meditation suffices 1) to change man and 2) to change humanity, hence politics as well?"


Spiritual experiences come and go, but only the Truth abides. I have certainly had my share of them over the years; who knows, it is even possible that I had more of them back when I was so wrong about things, which should serve as a testimony to their dubious -- or at least ambiguous -- value. Surely they are a pointer, but not an end in themselves. Not only that, but the spiritual realm exists on a vertical axis that extends above and below, so it is a commonplace for people to confuse the latter with the former.

In reading A Conservative History of the American Left, it can be easily shown that this pneumapatholgical attitude reached a kind of tipping point in the 1960s; I was surely affected by it, even though I was mostly in grade school, because it simply became part of the cultural background. But not only was this attitude also clearly present in the 1950s, but one can trace the seeds of it back to the 19th century, and probably to the dawn of mankind. This error persists because it is not only an error, but a partial truth, as is true of most heresies.

The truth it conceals can be summed up in Bion's formulation of the container and contained. If we think of spiritual experience as the contained, and truth as the container, we can see how truth often becomes reified into dogma (in the pejorative sense of the word). When this happens, humans will attempt to "bust out" of these narrow confines, being that the spirit is infinite and can only be "contained" by infinite truth.

As always, the fault is not with divine revelation, but with what humans and human institutions do to it, i.e., contain it within the mind. When this happens, the spirit is throttled by the letter, so to speak, and longs for freedom. To say that this freedom can be obtained within tradition is a truism, but for a variety of reasons, people don't appreciate this.

In my opinion, much of the fault lies with the problem of education. Even at the dawn of World War II, most American still lived in rural areas, and college education was a comparative rarity. But in the mean time, our university system has been taken over by radicals, so that to be "educated" at one of these indoctrination mills (unless it is in business or the sciences) means to internalize a lot of shallow leftist slogans, a la the simultaneously under- and over-educated Obama (this is why the Democrat party is composed of the over- and undereducated, which, functionally speaking, amounts to the same thing, except that the undereducated cause far less harm, since their ignorance tends to be passive, while that of the elites is active). To attend a university generally means to learn how to forget how to think -- in all ways, but especially morally.

Well, I'm plum out of time. See you tomorrow. But remind me to continue with the point I was about to make, which is that modern man has developed a kind of wholly disproportional and unwarranted pride in his lower intelligence, so that in order to reach him with the spiritual truth, one must speak to his intelligence in ways that were probably unnecessary in the past, since he wasn't so skeptical, cynical, and sophisticated, and could still intuit perennial truth directly with his uncorrupted intellect. In short, it is very difficult for overeducated fools to receive truth, for "they have their heads where we place our feet" (Isaac of Acre).

And, that you may be able to appreciate more clearly how barren and indeed how pernicious such studies are, you must know that not only do they not enlighten the mind to know the truth, but they actually blind it, so it cannot recognize the very truth... --Hugh of Saint-Victor

For wisdom will not enter into a malicious soul, nor dwell in a body subject to sins... To be allied to wisdom is immortality. --Wisdom I.4, VIII.17

I would rather die of pure love than let God escape from me in dark wisdom. --Mechthild of Magdeburg

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Tolle Troll Smackdown

A troll wishes to pick a fight with me.


He writes,

"I'm looking to troll this blogsite, but I'm having trouble determining where the 'hot buttons' are, so to speak. Where are the weak points? Gray areas? Anyone want to assist the 'enemy' in the name of sparking a fun riot?

"Let me put this one forth: How about that Eckart Tolle? If you go by his doctrines, the highly opinionated Bobster is barking up some very wrong trees.

"Namely, Bob seems to have a highly defended ego structure, and has negative things to say about a lot of folks. Is this in itself a comment on Bob's own state on unenlightenment?

"Eckart and Bob can't both be right. So who's the monk, and who's the monkey?"

Eckhart Tolle? What a fount of wisdom! I just looked at one of his books on amazon. In it, he compares the Roman Catholic church to nazism, stating that the Inquisition "ranks together with the Holocaust as one of the darkest chapters in human history."

Right. The Holocaust resulted in the systematic genocide of six million in a few years, while the entire Inquisition resulted in about 6,000 deaths in 500 years.

What a fool. (Don't worry -- he has no ego, so he cannot be offended by my criticism, no matter how sharp. Realize that my criticism of him is actually a reflection of my own unenlightened state.)

He then goes on to suggest that the Inquisition was motivated by an attack on the "sacred feminine," and that while Islam does this as well, it is in a "less violent way" than in Christianity.

What an ass. I am reminded of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, a book that started the whole "sacred feminine/gaia worship" business. As a result, DDT was banned, causing as many as 50 million deaths due to malaria. Would Tolle then say that radical environmentalism is "one of the darkest chapters in human history?" Doubtful. He wouldn't want to alienate his target audience.

He then suggests that the feminine was "respected and revered" in ancient civilizations such as the Egyptian and Celtic, but that the "male ego" then evolved in order to "take control" of the planet.

Whatever else this man is, he is a considerable boob. No wonder his book is an "Oprah's Book Club" selection, on par with her vacuous "Presidential Club" selection, Obama. Suffice it to say, he has no knowledge of the barbarity of the ancient world, and is merely projecting his gauzy, cotton-candy new-age fantasy land into it. Then again, perhaps when the ancients were murdering all those female infants, they did it in a humane manner.

He next goes on to praise Switzerland for having less of a collective "pain body" because it "separated itself from the surrounding madness." In other words, the people who were neutral toward nazi evil are more evolved than the ones who fought and died to end it. (Let's leave to one side the fact that one might be hesitant to fight evildoers if one is their banker; this can hardly be called "neutrality.") Tolle would no doubt say the same thing about people who want to kill terrorists. If they could just rid themselves of their "pain bodies," they'd leave the terrorists alone.

What can I say? If this man is "enlightened," then enlightenment is not just useless, but harmful. Also, by his own reasoning, he has a "highly defended ego structure," just like everyone else (being that he names enemies, e.g., masculine men and people who fight evil), except that he is an ignoramus with a broken moral compass.

Don't get me wrong. I didn't read the whole book. I'm sure he's a "nice" man. In browsing the pages of his book, there is definitely some truth in it, but it is about as deep as a Hallmark greeting card, aimed at a mediocre level of intellect, and so interspersed with banality and error as to be functionally useless. It is fast food for the soul, if there could actually be such a thing without contradicting itself ("soul" and "depth" being nearly synonymous). It also shows that there are some very hungry and emaciated souls out there, willing to eat anything.

I will admit that he is an awesome businessman, however. In that area, I bow to his superiority. He's up there in the stratosphere with Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, and Bennie Hinn.