Monday, July 28, 2008

What is the Liztard, that the Cosmos is Mindful of Him?

I guess we can't quite move on from the LGF business, with so many people in the blogosphere talking and writing about its ontonoetic free fall into clinical inanity. For example, Joan says that she was disappeared by the brittle Queeg for making a single comment:

"I did not argue for or against ID, but merely posited that IF I were an Islamo-fascist, then I would certainly appreciate all the excitement and hand-wringing about the Christians, as it would make my plans much easier.

"I pointed out that millions of young minds had been taught the Bible story in their youth and still went on, unassailed, to learn sound scientific principle.

"I ended with a lament that the real damage done to young minds was in forcing them to read JD Salinger."

Who could argue with that? By undermining faith and denigrating Jews and Christians, Charles is doing some of the heavy lifting for the Islamists, who know that Darwinists are only programmed to protect their own genetic asses, but do not fight for transcendent principles, since those principles can only be an illusion. Or, if they are not an illusion, then it is incumbent upon Queeg to explain how that can be so. But again, he mostly engages in ad hominem and argument from the authority of comedians.

Queeg keeps insisting that one can be religious and believe in evolution, and that is surely true. However, I am quite certain that he lacks the cognitive firepower to explain how that would work in theory and in practice. I say this because he accuses anyone who actually tries to do so of being a SHILL and a FRAUD who is perpetrating a HOAX on the CHILDREN! And then, when he bans them for trying to sap and impurify the precious bodily fluids of Liztards, they become UNHINGED and turn on him with VICIOUS ATTACKS, like this one! It is as if his critics have stolen ALL THE ADJECTIVES, so that Queeg is reduced to recycling the same ones OVER and OVER in EVERY POST about the subject!!!

Another vicious commenter, Yank in the EU, mentioned Queeg's modest foray into metaphysics, which goes as follows:

"Belief in God does not preclude belief in evolution.
Belief in evolution does not preclude belief in God.
Do not trust those who insist otherwise."

Yank writes that "This is a remarkable kind of statement. Following both faith and metaphysical understanding, I envision a domain of final causes that underlies and guides, impercercptibly and in a way our finite minds cannot adequately grasp, efficient causes in nature / evolution. Indeed, one might call this natural teleology or 'intelligent design' in a classical sense."

Precisely. Let's stop right there for a moment. I hate to have to impart such elementary truths, but for the benefit of Liztards from Rio Linda, if God exists, then God by definition transcends biology and everything else. In fact, God is transcendence as such, the sufficient reason for the self-evident presence of a vertical realm of transcendent being, consciousness, and bliss in this cosmos. Or, if you prefer, intelligent power, truth, and life.

A moment's reflection will confirm to you that the Absolute, being transcendent, is necessarily immanent. In other words, transcendence cannot possibly be derived from immanence, any more than Truth can be derived from matter, or "bread from stones." But the Absolute Principle, or Sovereign Good, unnarcissarily "spills over" into creation, which is precisely why, among other convenient features of our living cosmos, everything makes so much freaking sense to us. Everywhere we look, order, order, order, truth, truth, truth, beauty, beauty, beauty. How do you think it got there, moron? By random genetic drift? Sexual selection? Get a clue!

Yank continues his vicious attack: "But if, say, another person, who is intellectually sincere, reasons from perhaps theology, philosophy or even an empirical scientific point of view that there might be a conflict between some versions of the theory of evolution and the idea that that God created the universe, are we to view that person with fundamental distrust? That would be quite tyrannical, morally wrong and diametrically opposed to serious intellectual discourse with one's opponents, as if they can't be trusted merely on the basis that they arrive at different intellectual conclusions on this problem.

"Now, consider all the support this kind of obviously disturbing statement recieves at LGF. LGF has become in ways quite Stalinist and totalitarian in its dogmatic secularism, i.e. deciding which types of Christians / intellectual views are acceptable in their eyes and those worthy of personal distrust or scorn."

Again, precisely. There is nothing liberal -- and therefore conservative -- about Queeg's heavy-handed foreclosure of certain lines of investigation. To say on the one hand that God and evolution are compatible, but to then foreclose any attempt to unify them is -- well, I don't want to get technical here, but there are forms of psychosis that are "negative," so to speak, rather than "positive," so they don't stand out in the same florid way.

I don't want to get too sidetracked here, but this is commonly encountered in clinical practice. In fact, I'll no doubt see a case of it at work today. That is, there are people who see or hear or imagine "what isn't there." They are the "positive hallucinators," and they obviously represent a small minority.

But Bion recognized that there are equally people who "unhallucinate" what is there. In my writing, I call this a "dimensional defense mechanism," because the way it most commonly works is to render the meaningful meaningless by unconsciously attacking the links that connect them. This is very different from repression or from denial, the latter of which is much more crude and obvious. In contrast, the dimensional defense is reconizable by a kind of intellectual "flatness" that we recognize in our scientistic mascot, Ray, or in Queeg and the rest of the anti-intellectual neo-Liztard rabble of little Queeglings.

For these people, inability to see the evidence is confused with an absence of evidence. But that isn't where it ends, because it must be combined with a kind of omnipotent grandiosity that we always detect in these people, a grandiosity that is entirely uncalled for if reductionistic Darwinism provides an accurate account of Man -- which, after all, should provoke the very opposite sentiment, a kind of abject humility. Our pet chimp Scatter comes to mind. In spite of it all, he knows his place. It never occurs to him that he is special enough understand the origins of the cosmos, life, man, and everything else. He is a proper Darwinist, who stays within the bounds of his irreducible incompetence.

We all see that the left continues to go through a massive collective negative hallucination with regard to what is going on in Iraq. They do the same thing with regard to the burgeoning evidence against manmade global warming, or the intrinsic problems with socialized medicine, or the deleterious impact of judicial leniency in fostering crime, etc. The list is endless.

But this is where Queeg is cheek-to-jowl with the kos kids, or huffpo, or the ACLU. In fact, we should play a little game called, "Who said it, Kos or Queeg?" You will see that it's quite difficult to tell, because both employ the identical kind of rhetoric that lets you know that you're not dealing with a rational person, but with a negative hallucinator. You know this because, if you are sensitive to it, you can sense what is being projected into you -- that is to say, the heat but not any light. You can sense that you are being inducted into someone else's psychodrama, which a normal person wishes to resist. But instead of lashing out in kind, you need to reflect on what is being projected, otherwise you just fuel the negative hallucination. You will notice, for example, how a Dennis Prager routinely picks apart the negative hallucinators of the left by never engaging them on the same emotional plane, but by staying within his higher space.

So while Yank is correct that Queeg is "Stalinist" and "totalitarian," I don't think I'd put it in such terms, which are bound to be willfully misunderstood in such a way that they will simply add fuel to the hallucination.

Yank makes the critical point that there might be a conflict between some versions of the theory of evolution and the idea that God created the universe. As I have mentioned before, when someone else began writing my book about a dozen years ago -- being that I was not yet me at the time -- I attempted to, in effect, "reason upward" from the evidence of science to arrive at God. Frankly, this isn't difficult to do, so I will not rehearse all that evidence here.

But in the end, it doesn't really accomplish much, because it only makes God possible -- or even necessary -- but it doesn't tell you anything about what sort of God you are dealing with, except perhaps one who is devilishly good at math. Nor does it allow one to experience God.

No. For that, you have to get into the back of the line and start all over, through one of the traditional channels. So at best, the self-evident existence of "intelligent design" gives one "permission to believe," but that is all. (And when I say "self-evident," I mean that one is simply drawing out all of the vast metaphysical implications that follow from the fact that man is indeed intelligent and may therefore know truth; to understand this is to understand that the non-living and the unintelligent cannot be ultimate.)

Once I began a serious spiritual practice in 1995 (although in hindsight, I now see that the practice began many years before that, and that I was guided all along by an unthought Self that was dragging me toward it), I began to "harvest" in such a way that what was once a lot of theoretical knowledge (k) began blossoming into (n). Once that happens, you stop asking if "intelligent design" proves the existence of God.

Rather, in your properly oriented, right-side-up cosmos, you now begin to ask "given that God exists, what must the universe be like?" While I suppose other universes could exist, they couldn't be a lot different from this one in terms of the fundamental metaphysical principles that govern it, at least if it is to include self-conscious and intelligent subjects capable of knowing truth, love, and beauty, not to mention the Absolute.

And this is where a Frithjof Schuon comes in, for I believe that he most adequately articulates the nature of those timeless principles, at least in the most intelligent and luminous way (for one needs both, the intelligence and barakah, or light and grace) that is suitable for the true gnostic. These identical principles are -- of necessity -- embedded in Christianity or Judaism, but for certain types -- the Raccoon type, actually -- we want to go past the shell and get to the kernel. But not for a moment do we denigrate the bhakta or karma yogin; it's just that it takes all kinds to make up a world, and I don't think God intended for religion to exclude the intellectually gifted.

An example of one of the surprising findings of modern science that "must be" is that the cosmos is thoroughly entangled with itself across both space and time. If this weren't the case, then neither knowledge nor intelligence could exist, not to mention the intersbjectivity that makes human consciousness possible. It is only because we are "members of one another" that we can be human at all. But only a very special type of cosmos allows for intersubjectivity, as explained in my book.

Given the temporal and spatial entanglement of the cosmos, when we look "out" at the red shift that proves the big bang, we are also looking back, in, and forward. Because when rays of light from this event -- simultaneously distant and close -- touch our retina and enter the brain, we are in effect witnessing the birth of the cosmos. But since the cosmos is nonlocal, one could equally say that the cosmos is watching itself being given birth through the medium of human consciousness -- which is paradoxically there at the beginning (and even before the beginning, if you believe Petey).

So are we seeing consciousness give birth to the cosmos? Or the cosmos give birth to consciousness?

Yes. Continuously.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Sunday Timeless

Intellectual intuition (nous) involves the direct perception of Truth. Logic (dianoia), on the other hand, is merely a mental operation that can lead to true or false conclusions, depending upon the data provided it. Logic is particularly useless -- even dangerous -- without the a priori intuition of Truth, without which logic alone eventually leads one over the abyss.

The most important truths are indeed "self evident," that is, evident to the higher self. Clearly they are not necessarily evident to the lower self, which is why liberty and human dignity are a tough sell in the Islamic world, which awaits the day when its progress is not thwarted by the infrahuman majority in its midst. In America, the anti-progressive forces are represented by secular progressives, anti-religious Liztards, and other spiritual medullards.

The application of mere logic would dismiss as silly superstition those transcendent truths that are known directly by the higher mind. This is why you cannot prove the existence of God to such a logic-bound individual, any more than you could prove it to a dog. Religious truths are conveyed through symbolism and analogy (with the assistance of grace), more like a great work of art than a mathematical equation. Although not merely logical, it would be a grave and simplistic error to suggest that the great revelations are illogical, any more than a Shakespearean sonnet or one of Beethoven’s symphonies are illogical. Rather, they are translogical.

In the case of those latter two modes, poetical and musical truth are conveyed directly to something analogous to the senses, only on level that obviously transcends them. Those who demand “proof” of God are almost always coming from a quasi-autistic plane where the transcendent truth is simply unavailable to them -- like someone who listens to the notes but cannot hear the symphony. A musical boob and a connoisseur of music have access to completely different realities when they listen to a great masterwork, and only an ass would reduce the whole of the symphony to its parts, and then think he understands it better then the expert.

This Liztardian attitude involves a kind of invincible ignorance disguised as healthy skepticism. It reminds me of Bion’s description of the psychotic mind, which, he said, combined the characteristics of arrogance, stupidity, and curiosity. When you put those three together, you end up with a kind of arrogant, omnipotent ignorance that is inordinately proud of its own stupidity. Thus the childlike self-assuredness of the Head Lizard in denigrating what transcends him. He is such a mental twerp -- a nothing, really -- in the context of the timeless celestial truth he mocks (and which mocks him right back; I am only the messenger).

This type of mind is too saturated by lower things -- computer programming books, and the like -- and "knows" too much to ever consider the possibility of truths that lie on plane higher than their own meager qualifications. These people too are “impenetrable.” They suffer from a distorting mental hypertrophy that is to the mind what those musclebound bodybuilding freaks are to the physique. Only the delusional members of the cult believe that they actually look good -- mostly to each other, to which the gradually diminishing interest in LGF testifies.

The scientific plane discloses relative truths that provide causal explanations for various material processes. As such, science is obviously entirely appropriate for the horizontal plane to which it is addressed. But religious truths do not have to do with horizontal causation, or only secondarily. Rather, they are intended to provide the higher mind with a means to realize vertical truth (and virtue). There is nothing that can be provided by mere logic alone that can help one ascend this vertical hierarchy.

Again, religious truths are seen directly, in the very same way that one's eyes see directly in the material plane. When you see something directly before your eyes, only a fool would ask you to prove that vision exists. When you hear the obvious beauty in a work of music, to such an extent that it moves you to tears, no one asks you to first prove to them that hearing exists -- as if the existence of mere hearing could explain musical truth anyway. Frankly, you wouldn’t even know how to respond to such an individual. What, prove to a crawling Liztard the truths that are furnished by one's own wings? How about proving to me that your mind exists, and explain how it is able to discover cosmic Truths that transcend the genes, then we’ll talk.

While the lower mind is active, or “male,” it has always been understood that the higher mind is passive, or “female,” in relation to Truth. The lower mind is an acquisitive mind, a grasping mind, even a restless and greedy mind. Part of the reason it is restless and greedy is that it can never be satisfied with what it is capable of acquiring, what with its own inherent limitations. The mind cannot rest until it has found its proper home, and that home is only found in the transcendent metaphysical truths to which it is conformed. There are certain things that the human mind is designed to know, and once it knows them, it "settles down," as in marriage. In fact, it is a marriage -- a metaphysical union.

Likewise, there are certain things human beings were not necessarily meant to know. It is not that we should not or cannot know them, only that these things are “accidental” and not essential. Someone who rejects the divine in favor of the material plane has rejected what is essential in favor of what is accidental and contingent. Therefore, their soul will suffer proportionately. It will become deformed instead of deiformed. They will “think,” but the thinking really won’t get anywhere, at least philosophically. Any end to their thinking will, as Schopenhaur recognized, be arbitrary. Even the greatest secular philosopher simply stops asking “why” at a certain arbitrary juncture, and thus founds a school.

On the secular philosophical plane, there is nothing you can prove that you cannot equally disprove. It is “a journey of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing,” a "systematic abuse of language designed for that purpose." If a man doesn’t realize this by the age of 40 or so, he hasn’t learned much in his life's journey. He doesn't necessarily have to do anything about it, but he should at least realize that the intellectual game is up, that it’s all for show -- for vanity and tenure.

The secular philosopher doesn’t only end his thinking at an arbitrary point. The truth of the matter is that he also begins it at an arbitrary point that can never be justified by his own philosophy. Postmodern philosophers like to congratulate themselves on the idea that they begin with “ignorance” or total skepticism, but it is an odd philosophy that begins by declaring to people that they cannot know what they most certainly do know.

These folks take great pride in living in darkness, and ridicule those of us who simply enjoy the sun’s rays, which both warm and illuminate. I certainly don’t care if some scaly bloghard wants to insist that the sun doesn’t exist. That’s fine. We have no quarrel. I know where he's coming from, because I can see the darkness. But he cannot know where we're coming from until he steps outside into the inner Light.

The higher mind is truly a mirrorcle of the absolute. In fact, its very existence establishes its own proof of the absolute, just as eyes prove the existence of material objects that can be seen. If truth exists, then surely it is accessible to us. If it doesn’t exist, then there is no point in pursuing it or even speaking of it. We should banish it from our vocabulary as sort of persistent illusion to which the fallible human mind is subject. Of course, the academic left is already hard at work on this diabolical project of “deconstruction,” but the fact of the matter is, the Left as such -- whatever you wish to call it -- has always been with us, and always will be. In this wider understanding, LGF is part of the material left, and has no intrinsic commonality with transcendent conservatism.

For the deep structure of the Left may be traced all the way back to the first appearance of humanity in its horizontal maninfestation. It is not so much that relativism is incorrect as such. Obviously, our own existence proves that relativism is real, otherwise there would only be God. But by the same token, relativism cannot be absolute. Rather, the absolute is precisely that which makes hierarchical relativity possible to begin with. By definition, there is no such thing as an incomplete hierarchy. To paraphrase Richard Weaver, if a series is hierarchically ordered it is conditioned from top to bottom and so cannot be infinite. If it is infinite, it cannot be conditioned top to bottom, and there is no higher or lower -- only Hegel's "bad infinite," or the black night in which all lizards are dark.

Our existence proves beyond the doubt of a shadow that we inhabit a hierarchical cosmos with degrees of being -- atoms, molecules, cells, animals, Man. Man is an arrow that points beyond himself to his source above, not below or behind.

"Certain things are known; other things have to be thought about. Some of the things we know we don't think we know because we think about them. Yet they are there in front of us and if we didn't consider them separate from ourselves and worthy of thinking about, we would know them for what they are.... The feeling of losing yourself is often the feeling of remembering yourself -- you are losing your personality and gaining your center....

"Our society has chosen its priorities quite clearly: surfaces. So it is no surprise that centers hold no interest. And yet, whether there is interest or not, the lie of the surfaces... is a lie.... Thus we have lost the knowledge of 'wholes.' We can 'think about' and 'talk about' wholes, but we do not know them. As a result, much of our world has been destroyed by... the lack of intuitive knowledge of centers.... Science is a view from exactly one perspective.... its discoveries are discrete and always relate to the world as defined by science.... But only knowledge of centers (or Center) will fix the core of our world... " --Keith Jarrett, Changeless

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Little Queeg's Footballs and the Coon Mutiny

Within each of us is the blueprint of the universe. We are of it. It is of us. And that universe from the beginning to the end of time is the body of the Holy Ancient One.... And as each cell carries sealed within it the genotype of itself, so each of us is the whole universe. --Lawrence Kushner, Honey From the Rock: Visions of Jewish Mystical Renewal

As Dupree mentioned yesterday -- and I don't know what makes him think he's authorized to disclose our private conversations -- I'm not sure what this post will be about, but I like the way the title rolls off the tongue.

First of all, why am I involving myself in this ugly bidness of Charles Johnson's public auto-Sullivanization? Why do I care whether LGF or any other blog goes off the rails into the weird personal obsession of its improprietor? Why all the UGLY, FANATICAL, VICIOUS, and UNHINGED attacks on someone who THREATENS my crumbling worldview?

I'll tell you why: because I happen to feel very passionate about doing what comes naturally. In short, I have to blog about something, and this is about as easy as it gets. Low-hanging strawberries, as it were. A slack attack. Yes, the Raccoon is a strange animal, in that, when attacked, it will defend itself. But always in a light and cheerful manner, because as Sir Winston said, it costs you nothing to be polite when shooting the other fellow. (And Charles really needs to stop the whining. He sounds like Ibrahim Hooper, who is also constantly under vicious attacks.)

But I'm not going to continue in this vein, because the last thing I need is to draw attention to myself and have a bunch of humorless Liztards coming over and stinking up the joint. I get enough supportive emails and comments to know that I'm performing some kind of public service in articulating a widespread perception of the deterioration of what was once a Good Thing. But unlike other blogs, our desire is to keep this one a bit of a secret, and hide out in our little cooncoon slacktuary. No one is banned, but few are invited.

The problem is, when discussing these matters, you can kill a person over and over, but if they're too dim to understand that they're dead, where's the bloody satisfaction in that? This is why I don't argue with these people, because who argues with a zombie? I like the clean kill. But you can generally only get a clean kill with a noble and uncorrupted spirit who wishes to die to his lower self. Until that lower self is either dead or circling the drain, we don't have much to discuss. In opposing God, you'll just end up feeding and puffing up the very pride and hubris that causes your transtemporal myopia.

There's nothing I can say that would arouse these souls from their metaphysical slumber that I haven't said in the previous 1030 posts. As Roger Kimball wrote about some Darwinist nonsense, "one recalls David Hume’s remark about the absurdity of calling a difficulty what pretends to be a demonstration and endeavouring by that means to elude its force and evidence.” We can demonstrate again and again, but the Darwinian faithful will just talk about "'difficulties,' or 'anomalies,' or perhaps even 'problems' for the theory." But Darwinism can never be falsified for the True Believer.

We are mistaken to imagine that we can share the understanding of higher worlds with those who have remained behind. This is because the awareness of holier worlds shatters earthenware vessels unable to withstand the light.... It is as if there were gateways. And at each one there stands a guard who wants nothing from you. Except that you go away. He will do all in his great power to foil your ascent. But his power is only the evil in you. --Lawrence Kushner

Speaking of which, many people have noticed and commented upon Charles' strange choice of personal demon-guradians. I mean, who cares if some people believe that evolution reveals cosmic intelligence instead of unintelligent randomness? Charles suggests that he's concerned that such a belief will poison the minds of children and destroy science education.

Whatever. Surely it cannot have escaped his attention -- but I guess it has -- that there is not a shred of evidence to support his delusion, and abundant evidence for the opposite proposition: that loss of religious principles renders people shallow, stupid, and uncurious. If you can't look at what has become of our university system and see that, then you are just too committed to your delusion. Like I said, I enjoy the clean kill, so I'm not going to press the point.

In my opinion, our educational standards have plummeted largely as a result of the attempt by leftists -- who have obviously taken over the educational establishment -- to impose their radical secular values on impressionable children. These values are not inspiring, to say the least, unless you are one of those odd people who draws sustenance from the idea that humans are merely clever animals, that objective truth is a hoax, that absolute morality is a fraud, and that Darwinism provides a remotely aequate account of the human state.

In this context, for Charles to cast his lot with the monolithic left and shout down the opposition takes about as much courage as it does for Dan Rather to Speak Truth to Power by being critical of President Bush, or for a college dean to ban Daniel Pipes from speaking. Like Rather, he vows to never give up this battle for Truth and Decency, and to vanquish the shills and frauds who wish to brainwash the Children, who are our future!

As Theodore Dalrymple points out, for some reason these pompous atheistic types always flatter themselves "that they are saying something new and brave" when they're just trucking in well-worn philosophical cliches. They take themselves so seriously, and yet exhibit "sloppiness and lack of intellectual scruple, with the assumption of certainty where there is none," combining it "with adolescent shrillness and intolerance." That perfectly describes the coarse mentality of the neo-Liztard, does it not?

I wonder if Charles would feel differently if he actually had a child, and saw the kind of scientific garbage they are exposed to in our public schools? Because it's all of a piece, and it all pivots around the idea that man is not only nothing special, but a kind of pernicious aberration, a demon-spawn of Mother Nature. We're not just Darwinian machines, but not even good machines. We poison the planet! We're racists! We plunder the world's resources under the guise of capitalism!

But because we are only machines, our leftist masters may remake us with proper incentives put in place by the state. It's such an intrinsic assault on human dignity, so unworthy of Man, that any spiritually normal person would resist -- again, unless you believe there is nothing intrinsically noble in the human state. Raccoons would much prefer to die in the wilderness than serve these academonic Egyptians.

Darwinist tautology can normalize virtually anything. But once you understand that truth -- not to mention, virtue and beauty -- is real and that man is free, you are no longer a Darwinist. Man is only free -- and intelligent -- to the extent that he is free to choose truth. If, like the Darwinist Liztard, he is condemned by natural selection to understand only what his genes have been selected to understand... well, you figure it out.

As I said, I don't expect these immature folks to be able to connect the sociocultural and psychohistorical, let alone, cosmo-spiritual, dots. For whatever reason, Charles has decided to alienate the grown-ups and gear his message to an adolescent mentality for whom anti-Muslim sentiment provides a good outlet for their hypertestosteronic predickament. But you all know how difficult it is to argue with an omnipotent college student with just enough philosophy to render himself loud and stupid.

Charles persistently reduces this dispute to a bad-faith, false dichotomy that reveals a kind of blind hubris and profound absence of intellectual curiosity. That is, either you are a reductionist Darwinist or you are a young earth creationist, no matter how much you protest to the contrary. But in reality, it is a matter of two competing visions of evolution, one of which is complete and consistent, the other of which is of necessity neither. Nor can Darwinism ever be consistent and complete, for reasons that are intrinsic to its erroneous metaphysical assumptions.

Like all science, Darwinism attempts to unify multiplicity on a "deeper" or more interior plane, even while it can never account for such things as interiority, depth, and unity -- let alone interior depth or absolute unity. This is why whatever truth Darwinism is able to disclose fits easily into the paradigm of perennial religion, whereas Darwinism could never account for those religious truths that "cannot not be," since they abide on on eternal, interior and archetypal plane that obviously transcends Darwinism. Darwinism cannot address this plane without maiming and ultimately destroying Man: again, reductionistic Darwinism is a form of nonviolent resistance to transcendence, or intellectual fascism. Thus the totalitarian streak at LGF, whereby Charles, like Kos or Huffpo, bans heretics from his blog.

As I have mentioned in the past -- and this is only half-ironic -- perhaps this dispute between Raccoons and Darwinists is a result of both parties being in the right, at least insofar as the Darwinian theory applies to those who adopt it and thereby cash in their humanness. In other words, Darwinism does seem to adequately explain the simple mind of the Darwinist, just as it does any other animal. After all, a "reduced mind" would apparently call for a reductionistic explanation. If they want to say that they cannot know truth, who am I to argue?

The Liztard wishes for us to be as cynical and disillusioned as they are. But worse yet, they want to foist this toxic attitude upon innocent children. But I believe we should do the opposite, and cultivate the innate spirituality and mysticism of childhood. Instead of throwing cold water on their spirits, we should assist them in developing "in the direction of the true reality which the ordinary world calls illusion":

"This is what it should be, instead of making children ordinary, with that dull, vulgar common sense which becomes an inveterate habit.... This is like an acid, a destructive acid in the being, which takes away hope, certitude, confidence in future possibilities.... And if you [avoid] this when you are very small, you have much less difficulty than if later on you have to undo all the bad effects of a bad education, undo that kind of dull and vulgar common sense which makes it insipid, boring, and contradicts all the hopes, all the so-called illusions of beauty..."

I know that Future Leader will not only have an adequate scientific education, but he will appreciate the magic and mystery of science -- the extraordinarily weird privilege of living in a light-filled cosmos that is intelligible to human intelligence in such a way that it shatters any and all materialistic assumptions, which are just pernicious roadblocks to the discovery and development of our divine-human potential. The relationship between Reality and the Liztard's cold and desiccated version of scientistic half-truths is analogous to that between pornography and love. It is devoid of interior beauty, and therefore cannot be true, nor can it touch the soul of man.

Ordinary souls like you and I are the link between this world and the higher ones, shuttling back and forth, carrying buckets of light in our heads. --Lawrence Kushner

Charles gots no bucket.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Missing Strawberries, or Ten Vicious Attacks on Charles Johnson Before Breakfast

Sources inform me that I have been banned from commenting at LGF for making a vicious -- vicious, I tell you! -- comment about Charles the other day. BabbaZee linked to the post, the hyper-vigilant Charles noticed it, and he immediately capped his most amusing and self-aggrandizing commenter. So at least old yellowstain puts principle -- or paranoia -- above self-interest, as his blog continues to auto-Sullivanize into a monolithic frat of anti-intellectual gee-howdies who know as much about theology and metaphysics as I do about web design and bicycling.

Imagine if I banned all of the people who make vicious comments about me, such as, "Bob, I disagree with you." To be honest, I've never banned a single person, although I have asked a couple of them to go away, mainly because they are just too stupid and/or annoying to understand what is going on here. I've never banned anyone for criticizing me, because in nearly every instance, the criticism is self-refuting, especially as it moves up the hysteria scale or down the materialist scale. As I've mentioned before, I don't even like it when other Raccoons reflexively defend me from these folks, unless they do so in a way that is funnier than the criticism -- which is almost always intrinsically funny if looked at from a sufficient height. In fact, I would be honored if Charles would link to this post, so we can see on a first hand basis how funny his dopey commenters would be!

Being that cyberspace persecutors are everywhere sapping his precious bodily fluids, Charles is a busy man, and can't possibly have noticed my previous vicious comments about him -- about his increasingly anti-intellectual rabble of illibertarian commenters and about what LGF has turned into, with its irrational lurch into a scientistic wacko chamber of substitious idolaters. Therefore, I've extended the courtesy of assembling them all in one place, so he can ban me retroactive to June 14, 2008, when I began addressing the subject. This is only the first ten. I'll post some more on the weekend.

1) As Charles Darwin wrote, "While nature, making procreation free, yet submitting survival to a hard trial, chooses from an excess number of individuals the best as worthy of living, thus preserving them alone and in them conserving the species, man limits procreation, but is hysterically concerned that once a being is born it should be preserved at any price."

Nah, just pulling your leg. That was Adolf Hitler explaining his values -- which he derived from immanent nature, not the transcendent Absolute -- in Mein Kampf. As someone once said, fascism in all its forms is the violent resistance to transcendence. Therefore, Charles at LGF, or the goons at dailykos, or any other flatland guardians, are not Nazis, since they engage in non-violent resistance to transcendence, as do the ACLU, or People for the American Way, or any other anti-religious activist and/or bigot or plain old ignoramus.

2) You see, the blinkered Lizard thinks that life only points down and back to the dead matter out of which it was magically given birth. But for the Raccoon, life is a symbol (symbol meaning "thrown across") that again points "up" and "in." We do not see life as a circular series of lateral mutations, but an open spiral that ultimately rejoins whole and part, absolute and relative, time and eternity, center and periphery, man and God.

And human beings are the "axis" or "pivot" of the whole existentialida. Deep down we all recognize this, albeit often in a garbled and perverted manner, for example, the environmental hysterics or the pompous and deluded LGFers who know they are superior to biology, but have no idea how or why.

Life! If Darwinism is all there is, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing. I have no respect for a reductionistic Lizard who is not a nihilist and a sociopath, for he is merely a weakling and coward who lacks basic intellectual honesty and the courage of his convictions. He has his feet planted in the soil of Judeo-Christian values, even while he has his head planted in his ass.

3) Again: to have the courage of one's convictions and to fully inhabit the Darwinist world of the scientistic imagination would be to live as an animal, not a human. Remember, to a Darwinist, a human being can be nothing other than an animal, pure and simple. Along the lines of our last couple of posts, there can be no radical discontinuity between human and animal -- or matter and Truth, behavior and Virtue, accident and Beauty, etc. It is a subhuman world unfit for Man. Which is again why none of them actually live there. They're all frauds, phonies, and crude loudmouths, including, sad to say, the Head Lizard.

4) Any Lizard who claims their life is meaningful in the context of reductionistic Darwinism is strictly fooling themselves. I won't argue with them, because there is no reason to take them seriously for even a single moment. If they don't understand this, they are either stupid or intellectually dishonest. The same applies without qualification to morality, beauty, and truth. Obviously, I will not waste my time "debating" someone who simultaneously believes in Darwinism and truth, as if the latter could ever be derived from former.

I notice that the unsophisticated commenters at LGF also have a caricatured view of the scientific endeavor, as if it is a strictly mechanical process that results from "facts + induction" -- as if it requires no imaginative leaps, or an overarching paradigm in order to even perceive a fact! I cannot see that any of them are the least bit acquainted with the philosophy of science, e.g., people like Whitehead and Polanyi.

One stupidly arrogant Lizard even said in response to one of my queries that he believed in "absolute facts" but not "absolute truth." How to even begin to respond to such sophistry? There is no fact that "speaks for itself," no experience that tells us what we are experiencing. To paraphrase Weaver, only by knowing little may we know much; logic depends on our "metaphysical dream," not vice versa. And it should go without saying that it is this Dream that unites men, not the logic. Nazis and Islamists are rational within the logic of their sick dreams.

5) Horizontal folks -- flatland materialists, secular pneumapaths, left-brainers, MENSA members, Lizards, et al -- love to sneer at religion and exalt the superiority of science or mere reason in understanding the world. But when they do this, they always deal with a caricature of religion based upon their own limited horizontal understanding. In this regard, they are very much like children or primitive people who cannot transcend their narrow cognitive horizons, and mock what they do not understand.

Science can never account for the scientist, that is, for the human subject capable of knowing real truth. Again, it simply assumes the existence of truth-bearing scientists, as if this is not deeply philosophically problematic. How can the watered-down evolution of reductionistic Darwinism ever account for that? It can only pretend to do so, again, by confusing the rays with the sun. But to understand Darwinism is to have transcended it.

6) The problem is, Darwinism should be taught as science, not metaphysics, but virtually all of the middlebrow Lizards absurdly elevate it to a quasi-religious metaphysic that is logically self-refuting at every turn. In turn -- and I have noticed this, for example, in many threads at LGF -- militant atheists do indeed confuse Darwinism with metaphysics, and blindly defend it with the same belligerence as any "fundamentalist." Light simply cannot break through their hardened defenses.

Religion easily accommodates science, while the reverse can never be true. Religion accommodates science for the same reason that our minds do. For our minds are designed to know truth, pure and simple, whether it is empirical truth, rational truth, artistic truth, moral truth, or metaphysical truth. Intelligence itself is prior to what it knows, and what it knows is truth (otherwise, “knowledge” is a meaningless, even absurd term). Therefore, intelligence is truth itself implanted within our being, or a prolongation of the Absolute within the relative.

7) Yesterday while commenting at LGF, I couldn't help noticing how the reductionistic Darwinists practice a sort of inverse mysticism, in that they elevate what can only be ceaseless change into eternal truth. With reductionistic Darwinism, all is change; everything is "on the way" to something else that is equally temporary. In such a paradigm, not only can truth not exist, but we couldn't know it anyway; the quantification of knowledge undermines its only meaningful measure, which is the intellect in light of the Absolute.

In a way, this is a caricature of Buddhist metaphysics, as it too advances what amounts to a paradox, i.e., "all is flux," so that it is folly to become attached to the passing stream of maya. However, the ignorant Lizards are missing a very important point, that being that it is possible to escape maya both from "above" and "below," and this makes all the difference, as the latter is actually a deeper plunge into its snares, a point that the -- let us say, less spiritually gifted -- LGF commenters never stop proving.

8) In other words, the Buddhist transcends the flux of maya in order to know the eternal, the transcendent Absolute, whereas the Darwinist Lizard goes the other route and identifies eternity with matter. Naturally this makes no sense in a cosmos that is itself contingent and evolving, but there you go. Metaphysically consistent they are not. There is a rebellious streak in them that is very similar to the left (who also escape reality from "below," except in their case, instead of becoming Darwinist "monotheists" they descend into the fragmented polytheism of multiculturalism, moral relativism, deconstruction, etc.).

In reality, they are two sides of the same worthless coin, just as, say, the Semitic and Eastern religions are two sides of an infinitely precious coin. I am disappointed that Charles can fall for this junk metaphysics -- just as he expressed disappointment in me -- but in my case I have an excuse, because I only want to be disappointed by the best. I do note that he clearly possesses a kind of peerless left brained, technological kind of lizardy wizardry, and that may be the issue, for every gift carries a potential curse. Every savant is an idiot in certain areas.

9) The scientific reductionist, like a machine, "has reversed the roles, turning its creators into its own creatures; it escapes the control of intelligence as such from the moment that it claims to define the nature of intelligence from the outside and below" (Schuon). People forget that the quantification of all knowledge "necessarily entails an inward impoverishment, unless accompanied by a spiritual science that re-establishes unity and maintains equilibrium."

This is one of the points I attempted to make at LGF, but to no avail. The bulk of commenters there seem to think that the "wall of separation" between church and state (itself a willful disunderstanding) must somehow extend to science and religion. Talk about a "wedge strategy"! But American schools are not failing because of "too much religion" (and by this I do not mean a religion, but simply a more sophisticated transcendental viewpoint that easily accommodates religion as such). To the contrary, our schools only began to fail after they were taken over by the radical secularists of the left. It could hardly be otherwise. What did you expect, wisdom?

10) Scientistic materialists -- including Lizards and other radical Darwinists -- are like defoliants, or people who would take an axe to this beautiful tree that has organically grown over the past 2000+ years. When you mess with the fundamental vision that holds a culture together "from the inside," you are messing with the equivalent of nuclear physics on the collective human plane: an Adam smasher, if you will. You just have no idea what you will unloose from the bowels of hell.

Human beings do not live in world of sense-data. But the postmodern vertical barbarians do. In their small Lizard minds, they are "liberated" from the "childish mythologies" of the past. In my opinion, Charles is quite naive about the inevitable implications of such an intrinsically anti-human ideology. The other day, one of the mutual readers of LGF and One Cosmos was also commenting on the increasing lurch into anti-intellectualism of the former, noting that his rabbi -- an eminent scholar -- had spent his entire life studying the Torah, and yet, had not even scratched its surface.

But it takes no learning -- let alone, wisdom -- for a jackbooted mob of metaphysical yahoos to, as the reader put it, "pontificate with grand self-assuredness that they know fully what is meant in all the intricacies and layers of Torah and the rest of us believers are a bunch of deluded dummies. There's nothing to be said to such people." Indeed, like gleeful, deicidal three year-olds, these Lizards can tear down in the space of five minutes what it took 3000 years of spiritual genius to build, from Moses to Sandy Koufax.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

You're Nobody 'til Somebody Loves You

Squeezed for time again. Another speed post.

Plotinus provides an interesting example of the cross-fertilization of the world's religions, being that he not only represents the convergence of 800 years of Greek thought, but is also known to have studied the philosophies of India at some point (although details of his life remain sketchy, since he thought them unimportant). In turn, as Andrew Louth writes, from Plotinus "issues a new current destined to fertilize minds as different as those of Augustine and Boethius, Dante and Meister Eckhart, Coleridge, Bergson, and T.S. Eliot." Not to mention Toots Mondello, even if he was unaware of the coonnection. Although he obviously had a public school diploma, he was not what we would call a "learned man."

Again, it is not so much that the early Christians were neo-Platonists per se; rather, they simply knew the latter to be the pinnacle of human thought, so they naturally wanted to understand or frame their own new ideas within its context. Hadot points out that ancient philosophy was very different from contemporary philosophy, in that tradition and continuity were valued, whereas novelty and innovation were distrusted and even scorned. Therefore, one did not gain prestige by being the latest innovation, but by association with established truth. For example, Plotinus would not have considered himself a "neo-Platonist," but simply a Platonist.

But what were the earliest Christians? Obviously Christ gave us the theos, but not the -ology, so to speak. He left that for others to work out. Or, you could say he gave us O "in full," plus quite a bit of (n), but not in any systematic way. Rather, most of his comments are like sparks emanating from a central fire, as opposed to being meta-level statements on the nature of sparks, fire, and eyes (although one suspects that he did this with his inner circle, much of which is preserved in tradition).

In the case of Plotinus, he begins with three main principles, 1) the One, or the Good; 2) Intellect, or nous; and 3) Soul, or psyche. I don't think we do any violence to this formulation to say that it exactly corresponds to the symbols used in the Coonifesto, that is O, (¶), and (•), respectively. Furthermore, just as I explain in the book, each of these is an emanation from above, not "from below," which would be strictly impossible. In other words, there is simply no way that (¶) could arise from (•). Rather, (•) is like a "satellite" of (¶); where (•) is local, (¶) is nonlocal, just like the cosmos it mirrors. Or, you could day that (•) is particle while (¶) is wave, just like the quantum realm which is its inverse image in the material.

I will let you argue amongst yourselves whether O is the "end of the line," or whether it is an emanation from "beyond-being." Personally, I don't think it particularly matters, as it really comes down to the necessary distinction between nirguna brahman and saguna brahman, or Godhead and God, or apophatic and cataphatic theology. In my view, being that humans are in the image of the Creator, the law of inverse analogy tells us that the structure of our minds reveals something about the Divine Mind (and about the relationship between quantum and Newtonian reality, as hinted at above).

Being that humans have a conscious and unconscious mind (which are really one, just looked at from different angles), I speculate that the Creator has what might be called Mind and Supramind; which is to say, just like a person, there is a face we see, animated by hidden forces that we don't. But a person without a face would still be a person, just as God is still God irrespective of his public persona. I suppose you could say that there is "God for us" and "God for himself." It's just that the nature of the latter makes it almost necessary that he would wish to communicate the former; thus, you might say that human beings are the last word in the "self discovery" (so to speak) of God's creative "idiom," in the sense discussed a few posts back.

In fact, it would probably be fair to say that this is the innovation Christians brought to neo-Platonism. That is, for Plotinus, the One is indifferent to the world. It is completely static, simple, beyond the duality of knower and known (or any other duality). It is the source of everything, and yet, outside everything. Now that I think about it, this is what distinguishes Greek emanationism from Christian panentheism, in that the God of the former would never sully himself with the world, whereas in the latter view, God very much gets down and dirty; in the Christian view, every thing is God, even while God is not everything. In Plotinus' view, there is much more of a bright line between God and world, or O and Ø.

Now, as it so happens, Origen, one of the most brilliant early fathers, studied under the same teacher as Plotinus, a fellow named Ammonius Saccas. However, as Louth explains, unlike Plotinus, who studied him as a pagan, Origen studied him as a Christian. Thus, he was one of the first -- if not the first -- to regard scripture as a special language having to do with facilitating spiritual ascent, or the soul's journey through purification, illumination, and union, or from (•) to O. But instead of being a mere "emanation" from the One, we are in the image of it, which makes a huge difference, for it means that we retain -- and perfect! -- our essential humanness on the way to divinization, or theosis.

I could be wrong -- again, I never claim to be a scholar on these matters -- but I don't think Plotinus would ever have considered human beings to be in the image of the Creator, nor would it be conceivable that the Creator would ever deign to actually become one of us. In short, it would be our job to ascend to O (↑), not the place of O to coondescend to us (↓).

Indeed, as Warren pointed out yesterday, it was none other than Augustine who worked this out to its fullest. It turns out that he was also deeply -- and quite personally -- influenced by Plotinus, except that "in his hands," the "longing for God is transformed from a human restlessness [for our homeland] to our response to the incredible love and condescension of God, indeed is the movement of the Holy Spirit in our hearts."

Louth says that this represents "an extraordinary break with Plotinus," in that "what for Plotinus is the culmination of the soul's experience is for Augustine only the beginning of the way." This is because of the Christ-principle, which "comes from our homeland to us in this world, who can enable us to pass from hence to there. He does this by making available a wooden vessel which can traverse the sea" between us and O. In the plotinian vision, we have to do all the work, whereas in the Christian view, God throws us the ultimate bone, if we may so express it.

You might say that Plotinus had too negative a view of matter, in that the very first sentence in Porphyry's biographical sketch says he appeared "ashamed to have a body." Obviously, some of this attitude crept into Augustine, but one wonders if this is more Greek than Christian? Or perhaps it is just a reflection of a certain archetypal reality, i.e., the beauty of the eternal vs. the corrupt and decaying world of time. I suppose it's a matter of emphasis, or inflection, for as Schuon wrote,

"For Plato, matter -- or the sensible world -- is bad [only] in so far as it is opposed to spirit, and in this respect only; and it does in fact oppose the spirit -- or the world of Ideas -- by its hardened and compressive nature, which is heavy as well as dividing, without forgetting its corruptibility in connection with life."

However, "matter is good with respect to the inherence in it of the world of Ideas: the cosmos, including its material limit, is the manifestation of the Sovereign Good, and matter demonstrates this by its quality of stability, by the purity and nobility of certain of its modes, and by its symbolist plasticity, in short by its inviolable capacity to serve as a receptacle for influences from Heaven."

So there can be a world-denying strand of Christianity, just as there can be a world-affirming strand of pagan thought. To emphasize one or the other is a "dangerous disequilibrium," and it is precisely this disequilibrium that would seem to be resolved to the fullest with the Incarnation -- or with the avatar principle, if you like: God became man so that man might become God.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Keepin' it Real with the Old School Raccoons

A few words about my favorite pagan, Plotinus. Being that I am hardly an expert on ancient philosophy, I can say with total confidence that he represents the summit of pagan wisdom.

Furthermore, since I don't have time to check my sources, I can also spread the rumor that his thinking found its way into Christianity, first through Origen, then to Dionysius, on to John Scottus Eriugena, over to Meister Eckhart, and then on up to us. Therefore, like, say, Hermes -- even if the thrice-great one didn't undergo the formality of actually "existing" -- one could go so far as to say that Plotinus is one of a handful of Uber-Coons. Each of these men kept the Raccoon dream alive and passed it forward, preserving and prolonging the vertical in the horizontal, so that it would always be accessible to later generations, including our masters, Herman and Toots. That's pretty much all you could ask of a fellow.

Being that Plotinus represented the best of the world Christians came to inherit, it makes perfect sense that the early Christians would make some attempt to reconcile their new understanding with his, just as we would like for Christianity to make sense in the modern world in which we find ourselves. This does not mean that we reduce religion to the passing fashions of the day; rather, the opposite. Real religion is always capacious enough to make room for anything humans can throw at it, whether natural selection, psychoanalysis, heliocentrism, whatever.

Religion can and must be "flexible" without ever being amorphous or unprincipled, just as it must be uncompromising without being rigid. You could say that it must always retain both its geometrical and musical aspects, on pain of becoming sclerotic and deathbound. When that happens, it's always the fault of the humans, who kill the nonlocal spirit with the local letter, or the free-ranging music with the static geometry. New age types do the opposite, spoiling the beautiful geometry, or architecture, with bland muzak.

Here is why we love Plotinus: unlike, say, Alan Watts -- to pick a name out of thin air -- Plotinus' overriding concern was to embody his realization and to bring it down into the world. If your realization is real, you can do nothing less, because, on the one hand, "wisdom begins with awe of God," but it also works the other way around: awe of God is one of the first fruits of true wisdom, since we know without a doubt that this wisdom did not come from us. So if you think you inwardly "know God," and yet, nothing about your outward behavior changes, then you have to question your realization.

In short, if you don't walk it like you talk it and run it like you spun it, then you're probably just an enchanting or seductive gasbag at best. If your words do not come from realized wisdom, then what good are they? They will mimic the form, but they will be lacking the substance that gives them life and makes them real. In one sense this is a "subtle" difference, but in another sense, it is as obvious as the difference between.... between everything, vertically speaking.

What I mean is that there is scale of hierarchical values in the cosmos, and this scale is proof enough of the Divine, at least for people who are able to perceive it in all domains. As we move up this scale, things become simultaneously "lighter," and yet, have more existential heft. They are lighter because they specifically preserve and convey the celestial light that transcends them, but heavier because they endure, being that they partake of the eternal.

Most of the profane art that dominates our age has the opposite structure -- a thick surface that repels spirit and reflects only the lower human realm, accompanied by a gloomy kind of heaviness that "falls" or drags us down, rather then helping us "stabilize," like an axis. To the extent that it is "alive," it is only alive with the creepy-crawly things of the unconscious, so it is more like "living matter" than matter come to Life. Look at one of Michelangelo's statues and you see the miracle of matter come to life: again, geometry + music. This is to mimic the Creator. The other way is to mock him.

In Plotinus' metaphysics, the summit of reality is the One, which, for reasons we will get into later, is necessarily good (and the source of goodness, just as it is the source of all unity). In turn, the purpose of life is to 1) realize the One, and 2) crystalize this realization in the herebelow. This formula actually works both ways, so that the cultivation of virtue leads toward the vision of the One, while vision of the One should result in purification and unity of the Self. If this purification does not occur -- either as cause or effect -- then the whole exercise serves no useful purpose, either for the individual or the collective.

Hadot points out that for the ancients, philosophy was not the cold and dead, dryasdust academic game it has become for most moderns. To the contrary, it mainly connoted a way of life. Studying under a venerable philosopher was much more analogous to converting to a religion and delivering oneself into the hands of a spiritual master; its ultimate purpose was transformation of the self, not merely filling one's head with lofty ideas. The ideas are only useful to the effect that they serve as enzymes or catalysts that bring about real change.

Here you can clearly see that Plotinus drew a sharp distinction between (n) and mere (k). As I wrote somewhere in my book -- here it is, p. 211 -- "(n) has a transformative effect on the person who understands it, as it raises and expands the level of being, which in turn 'makes room' for more (n)." Therefore, if "understanding" only takes place in the mind, then it is again of little use. (n) is obviously quite different from profane knowledge, which can be passed from head to head without regard for qualifications. Again, so long as you aren't mentally retarded, you can understand Darwinism or other purely mental abstractions.

To know God means to do so with one's whole being -- body, mind, and spirit. It is knowledge of a totally different order. In fact, a spiritual practice will again primarily involve the gradual transformation of the self, as the light and warmth of (n) does its purificatory work. (Indeed, to know Darwinism "body, mind and soul" -- if such a perversity were possible -- would be to renounce one's humanness and to render oneself lower than the beasts.)

Look at it this way: philosophy is love of Sophia, or wisdom. And if you really love someone, you don't just do it with words. In fact, as often as not, words can conceal an absence of love. Real love is action is it not? We show our love in a multitude of nonverbal ways that give it real substance and depth. Look at liberals. They "love" their country, but not enough to put the words into action and actually defend it. Rather, for them, the essence of love is to criticize our country ("dissent is the highest form of patriotism"). This is like saying that the highest form of coonjugal love is for Mrs. G. to nag me.

I am reminded of Bion, who didn't even want to know if a patient was married, for he would decide that for himself. In other words, it is common for people to be "married," which only obscures the fact they they aren't, not really really. This is no different than someone who has a Ph.D, but isn't actually educated, or someone like Keith Olbermann, who is a "journalist," but not really. You know what they say: language was given to man so as to conceal his thoughts. Note that the very first words out of Adam's mouth are lies. And you tell me that Darwinism has more wisdom than Genesis!

This is why a Plotinus and an Alan Watts represent philosophical antipodes, despite any surface similarities in language. For Plotinus, "the practice of the virtues ensures a connection between the ecstatic and the everyday" in an entire style of life, and in particular, in one's relations with others. It is "the transformation of one's whole being, a practice of virtue and contemplation that makes one present to Spirit while not excluding the presence of other people, the world, and even the body."

This is absolutely in contrast to Alan Watts, who used Zen as a pretext to argue that morals were just repressive forces of social control. True, the conscience can be transcended, but from above not below. In the case of the former, one becomes conscious of the reality from which morality flows, so that the actions of the sage are at one with it. One no longer has to think about whether one is doing the right thing. It hardly means that one is free to do "just anything," or that anything the sage does is by automatically moral. But almost all cults and fraudulent gurus rely on that (lower) self-serving formulation.

To know God means that "we are never quite the same again." True, the intensity of the experience may ebb and flow, but we organize our lives "in such a way that we are once again prepared for contemplation." In other words, we prepare ourselves to be receptacles of grace: "We must concentrate ourselves within, gathering ourselves together to the point that we can always be ready to receive the divine presence when it manifests itself again." Con-centration -- i.e., to gather oneself around the center -- is the very reflection and vehicle of Unity on the human plane.

In contrast, dispersal of one's energies toward the periphery automatically results in alienation from God. So to focus upon God is nothing less than dwelling in our own ultimate unity -- body, mind and spirit. This is why Plotinus "exhorts us to a conversion of attention.... If we wish to be conscious of those transcendent things already present in the summit of the soul, we must turn inward and orient our attention toward the transcendent."

Thus, we are constantly preparing the temple for God, the temple being our minds and bodies. When he sweeps in and makes himself known, it is a grace, but if the grace is truly appreciated for what it is, we never cease attempting to make ourselves worthy of it. It is not a denial of life but a "lived plenitude," "not a means of escape, not a way of evading life but of being absolutely present to it."

Never stop sculpting your own statue. --Plotinus

(All quoted material taken from Plotinus or Simplicity of Vision)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Proof of Proof is Proof of God

Oops! I was suddenly called away early to work. I'm going to quickly skim this to make sure it makes minimal sense, then I'm outta here. Forgive typos and other infelicities.

****

First some unfinished isness before we begin. It's too short a subject to justify a post, but probably too important to warrant just a comment. But the other day, a commenter suggested that I was being a little unfair about Alan Watts. So let's put it this way: if you folks discovered that I was actually an alcoholic and an indifferent and irresponsible father with a spanking fetish, would it make any difference to you?

Would you look at my writings in a different way, if my main purpose in composing them were to trawl for Raccoon chicks and impress them with my continental charm and buoyant repartee? If I enjoyed going on speaking tours of college campuses not because that's where the ignoramuses are, but because that where the nubile babes are?

Here's the point: what I write and who I am are absolutely of a piece. In fact, if they weren't, I would have no right to say them. You will never learn anything about me that surprises you in a negative way, unless it is something that happened 30 years ago, which I enjoy writing about anyway, since it's mostly just funny rather than malicious.

Everything I write is a realized and assimilated truth (or at least "on the way" to it), not just "intellectually," but in terms of being. For better or worse, the writing comes from who I am, not what I think -- which is the only way I can do it on a daily basis. Along these lines, I'm currently reading an excellent book about Plotinus, and he clearly had the same attitude -- more on which later, because this is starting to turn into a post, when I just meant for it to be a quick thought.

I wanted to offer some reflections on something I read at Just Thomism, entitled Evidence For God. I'm going to expand upon it a bit for the purposes of drawing attention to myself and impressing the chicks, but if you read the post, you will see that I am largely playgiaphrasing with the original.

If someone asks what the evidence is for the expanding universe, one could give a simple three word answer: “the red shift.” However, this answer is unlikely to be persuasive or even make sense to someone who doesn't already have a background in science. For example, if you say it to a primitive person, or to someone with a high school diploma from one of our liberal-run schools, they will probably just give you a blank stare.

Furthermore, even if you ask the average person why they believe in the big bang, or global warming, they won't be able to tell you. Rather, they will simply be relying upon authority, or "thinking with the head of another." Suffice it to say that you are in much safer hands if you are "thinking with the head of Aquinas" than with the head of Dawkins. To "think" in the latter manner is to accept materialism on faith and authority -- except that there is no "truth" or "understanding" at the end of the line, just incomprehensibility and absurdity. This is "stupidity as such" masquerading as wisdom.

You could go on to provide a basic explanation of the red shift based upon the behavior of light we see from distant parts of the universe, but this is again unlikely to be convincing enough to overturn the common sense and everyday empirical observation of a scientifically untutored person who can see with his own eyes that the universe is obviously not expanding.

In an analogous way, if someone asks for evidence of God, we might say "truth," or "beauty," or "virtue." For a soul of sufficient purity and depth, this will be an adequate argument, especially once the implications are fully appreciated and worked out in an ontologically consistent manner. However, materialists, Darwinists, Lizards, and other metaphysical yahoos imagine that they can reject the whole of religion based upon a single argument taken out of context, just as a savage could reject the big bang based upon the obvious empirical evidence that refutes it.

Thus, as Just Thomism explains, both types of primitives "want more than evidence; they want the whole science by which their mind could be moved by the evidence" (emphasis mine). They essentially want to see the tree that will prove the existence of the forest, when the forest is on a different ontological level than the tree.

Do you see the dilemma? We get the occasional materialistic barbarian who demands "proof of God," but this is certainly no less difficult to provide than proof of the Big Bang to an eight year-old, which, even if you accept it, doesn't mean you actually understand it. Rather, you are accepting it based upon the authority of hordes of scientists who have worked out the math and physics to come up with the theory, a theory that is also grounded in a paradigm full of assumptions about how the universe works. In turn, many of these assumptions cannot be accounted for by the paradigm, as per Gödel, but the experts don't concern themselves with that. Science is science, not metaphysics, so few scientists care that their paradigm is irrevocably incomplete or inconsistent.

Bear in mind that we are usually dealing with an unintelligent person who is demanding evidence that would satisfy his intellect. Now, this is something I could never do, as I have long since forgotten how to be so stupid. In this regard, I take full responsibility for my failure to persuade trolls that the Permanent Real necessarily exists as a first principle. Likewise, in order for my intellect to be persuaded by the arguments of Dawkins, or Harris, or Charles Johnson, I would have to extinguish my intellect and become stupid, plus ignore years of experiential/phenomenological evidence.

First of all, mere logic and evidence are going to be insufficient for these people, being that they are not inclined to accept it to begin with, nor are they willing to undergo the traditional means of verifying the truths of religion. Furthermore, Just Thomism makes the key point that "what is usually meant by evidence" for the flatland materialist is evidence that will be persuasive to a hostile opponent in the heated context of a verbal combat or short debate -- or “evidence that I can just look at and immediately understand the whole scientific or religious structure in which it reveals itself as evidence.”

As Just Thomism properly notes, "Under this restriction, there is no 'evidence' for God’s existence, or for any other scientific, mathematical, logical, or academic truth." Also, Schuon notes that "in the spiritual order a proof is of assistance only to the man who wishes to understand, and who, by virtue of this wish, has already in some measure understood; it is of no practical use to one who, deep in his heart, does not want to change his position, and whose philosophy merely expresses this desire."

But this is true of all proof. O.J. is innocent to those who wish to believe it, just as "Bush Lied" is a dogma for the liars of the left. You could go so far as to say that truth only applies to good and honest people, but that doesn't mean that we don't hold the bad and dishonest ones to account, or invent a new truth that conforms to their wishes and doesn't bruise their feelings. But this is the essence of the compassionate left: truth as comforter, rather than truth as True.

Thus, logical "proofs of God" aren't really necessary. For example, it is more common for people to arrive at God through "spontaneous intuition which, if it is authentic, necessarily contains in an infused manner the certitude transmitted by the proofs of God or of the supernatural" (Schuon). Again: something is not true because it is logical, but logical because it is true, especially when we are dealing with truth of this order.

Another important point is that human intelligence "coincides in its essence with certainty of the Absolute." The existence of the Absolute is the first principle of any coherent metaphysics, whether "secular" or religious, as it is the condition without which there can be neither coherent thought nor communication of truth. But for the average man, "awareness of 'accidents' has stifled the intuitive awareness of 'Substance'; hence an intelligence that is systematically superficial, fixed upon a fragmentary reality."

Now, I have no objection to the existence of these people. They are often the "intellectual worker bees," and they have their role to play in elaborating the periphery of this or that relative domain. Again, the problems begin when this relativity is absurdly elevated to the Absolute, which ushers in the wrecking ball that brings down both religion and intelligence. These tenured children are completely blind to the fact that if their stance were correct, "we could never prove anything at all."

In a certain sense, proof itself is proof of the supernatural, being that it obviously exists in a realm above matter. The metaphysical transparency of the world is all the proof the Raccoon requires, but all men are not Raccoons, and I do not write for the wider non-Raccoon world. In short, while truth is surely unqualified, it takes a qualified person to realize that.

There is a translogical component to acceptance of any truth. We are not merely "logic machines." In other words, we must make a free act of assent to truth, and this cannot be reduced to the principles of logic. For example, there is no logical proof that one should abide by logic. What if I want to live a life a life guided by absolute spontaneity and transgression of logic, like people who live in San Francisco?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Meditation for Dummies: Sit Down and Shut Up!

Here is your weekly soiled bobservation from two years past. As always, I try to pluck the best items from the bunch -- or at least one with unfilfulled potential -- but it seems to me that the pickin's were somewhat slim that month. I wonder why? Let me think back....

I don't know. Just an echo of the Rhythm of Eternity, I suppose. Can't always be inspired, although one does one's best.

As it so happens, this one touches on the topic we've been discussing this week. It was originally called On Meditation and Prayer: How to Depart and Bewholed. Let's see if I can nudge it a bit and get it up on its feet. Or at least make it entertaining. Or insultaining, with a few zingers from Dupree's belowtorch.

*****

Let’s pull another reader’s question out of the cosmic hopper, this one from Twisted Knickers, who asked, “I'm another one of those in the back of the class trying to keep up, and I'd appreciate it if you could recommend some books on learning to meditate. Or, maybe you could offer some meta-advice on how to navigate through the choices.”

“I'd also like to hear your thoughts on the contrast between traditional Christian meditation and the 'Eastern' types of meditation.”

In fact, yesterday I received an email from another reader with a similar question, who asked about a book entitled The Power of Focusing (which I had never heard of). “My question to you is whether you've heard of ‘focusing,’ whether you have any experience with it, and if you would recommend a person in search of the Truth to give it a try?”

[Focusing? What a novel concept. I always thought that being a scatter-brain was the key to the spiritual enterprise. After all, you folks saw the comment section at brother Deepak's site. If this doesn't demonstrate the power of frivolousness, I don't know what does, because this is the power that drives Deepak's empire. Isn't it fascinating how with capitalism, a sinister mediocretin can actually harness stupidity and shallowness and convert them into material power? And this is the very capitalism that Deepak would decry as "greedy" or "exploitative." The irony.]

In my view, there is nothing magical about meditation per se. I myself practiced it for many years without really getting anywhere, and I am sure this is true of many spiritual seekers, especially those drawn toward Buddhism. Many irreligious or anti-religious Westerners are looking for what they regard as a “rational” alternative to religion, so they turn to things like Zen, which is largely a non-theistic (not atheistic) psycho-spiritual technology.

Ultimately I found Zen and similar "bare witnessing" approaches to be rather dry, although there are obviously many wise and lovely aspects to Buddhism -- I suppose it's partly a matter of personal inclination, or one's dharma, to reference a buddha-ism. (I also have a lot of problems with the deeply immoral non-violence of Buddhism, at least as preached in the West, but that’s another subject; another irony though, because the Zen of the Samurai was hardly non-violent -- quite the opposite.)

In the West, Buddhism is often wrenched from its cultural matrix and reduced to a kind of shallow "realizationism." I agree with Schuon that “meditation cannot of itself provoke illumination; rather, its object is negative in the sense that it has to remove inner obstacles that stand in the way, not of a new, but of a preexistent and ‘innate’ knowledge of which it has to become aware. Thus meditation may be compared not so much to a light kindled in a dark room, as to an opening made in the wall of that room to allow the light to enter -- a light which preexists outside and is in no way produced by the action of piercing the wall.... The role of meditation is thus to open the soul, firstly to the grace which separates it from the world, secondly to that which brings it nearer to God and thirdly to that which, so to speak, reintegrates it into God.”

I find this to be a perfectly accurate description, because it is in accord with my own personal experience and with another one of my nonlocal authorities, Sri Aurobindo. (Yes, I know, Schuon would have a lot of problems with Sri Aurobindo, who was not a strict traditionalist, but that’s between the two of them.) For Aurobindo, the only purpose of meditation is to silence the lower mind or “frontal” personality in order to make an opening in what he calls the “psychic being.”

For Raccoon purposes, we may think of the psychic being simply as the vertical self that is both “deeper” and “higher” than the ordinary, worldly, conditioned ego. It is both "behind" and "above"; or, you may think of it as a line that extends from the principle to the manifestation, from God to man, or from O to (n). Using the lingo of modern physics, the ego is local, while the psychic being is nonlocal; or, (•) is particle, whereas (¶) is wave. In fact, for most people, (•) will be a kind of particle, or "crystalized" aspect of (¶). But the Raccoon "reverses figure and ground" in order to ride the wild surf of O. Or, he "reverses the vector flow" that causes us to live at the outskirts of being, at what I call the "terminal moraine" of the senses. Instead, he gathers himself inward and upward, and "breathes the eternal."

In short, as I tried to get across on pp. 219-224 of One Cosmos, the dual purpose of meditation is to 1) achieve stillness or mental silence, or (---); and 2) to maintain openness, surrender, or self-offering, or (o). I specifically define “faith” in this context as a sort of “expectant silence,” as we do our part to make ourselves a receptacle for the power or grace that transcends us. We are literally attempting to make contact with the spiritual world (or person), which always engenders an influx of forces. Again, the important point is not the meditation -- which is only a means -- but preparing ourselves for the subtle energy of grace, or (↓).

Depending on various personal factors, the grace appears in different guises. For some it will be more of a higher emotional experience, for others, awareness of the sacred and holy. For some it will simply manifest as an unaccountable change in personality, for others, newfound abilities or a deeper understanding of spiritual matters. It is not at all uncommon to actually feel this energy, often in the heart region or above the head. In fact, tantric yoga attempts to commandeer this energy and “take heaven by storm,” so to speak, which I would not recommend. Occasionally things can get out of hand.

Schuon is again exceptionally clear when he notes that “the contact between man and God [in meditation] becomes contact between the intelligence [he is referring here to the higher mind] and Truth, or relative truths contemplated in view of the Absolute.... Meditation acts on the one hand upon the intelligence, in which it awakens certain consubstantial ‘memories,’ and on the other hand upon the subconscious imagination which ends by incorporating in itself the truths meditated upon, resulting in a fundamental and as it were organic process of persuasion.”

This, I believe, accounts for what the immortal Dilys has called the “draining the swamp” aspect of true meditation and prayer -- why it not only opens us to the higher, but has the practical effect of cleansing, purifying, and “deconditioning” the lower mind as well. This is again why I am not a big fan of “empty” meditation of the Zen variety, especially when removed from the overall sacred and cultural matrix that guides, contains, and reflects it.

As touched upon above, another point to consider is that meditation is only an “exercise” or an adjunct to the spiritual life. It cannot be its purpose or end. Just as exercise has the purpose of making the body more healthy and fit in general -- not just while one is exercising -- meditation is a verticalisthenic that should carry over into one’s moment to moment life. In other words, insofar as it is possible, we should make the effort throughout the day to live in that silent (---) and open (o) state, in which we are not so involved with the ceaseless barrage of mechanical chatter and internal propaganda coming from the lower mind and the external cultural wasteland. Most of these "thoughts" are probably just chattering mind parasites anyway, either individual or collective.

This is why I am so drawn to Orthodox Christianity, because it really emphasizes everything we have been discussing above. Another of my nonlocal authorities, St. Theophan the Recluse, writes of how the lower mind is entangled with the world like an opium addict. It cannot get enough of what it really doesn’t need: "There is a lot of motion, but no life.” And “the reason there is no life in such a life is that it does not occupy and nourish all the aspects of human life, but only a small portion of it. And this small portion stands in last place, not even touching the center of human life.”

St. Theophan writes that “within each person is a spirit, the highest aspect of human life (¶). It is the force (↑) that draws that person from the visible to the invisible, from the temporal to the eternal, from the creation to the Creator.”

Writing of the ego, or frontal personality (•), St. Theophan notes that we might think that someone is “deep in thought.” But “in reality, he is deep in emptiness.... Observe yourself, and you will see that the greater part of our time is spent on such empty and straying thought. Some days, not a single substantial thought enters the mind.” Do our trolls not prove this point?

Not a single substantial thought. How true. This can actually happen to an entire freaking lifetime -- much more often than you might think. But here again, this is why I believe it is so important to have a religious framework for one’s “thinking.” As I have had O-->(k)sion to mention many times in the past, the very purpose of an authentic, revealed religion is to be able to think fruitfully about the otherwise unthinkable. Through meditation, concentration and prayer, we may take this thinking deeper and deeper -- or higher and higher -- into the vertical. Put it his way: religions are vertical languages that go hand in hand with the horizontal languages of math and science. Evolution is the evolution of both.

St. Theophan’s specific advice regarding meditation and prayer is to think of it as the state of standing before God with the mind in the heart. Body, soul, and spirit all have their own special ways of knowing, and this is the way to know God, as opposed to “knowing about” God with the mind. Another Orthodox text simply says to “establish peace and recollection within yourself and ask for the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Ghost.” St. Theophan says it is “simple: it is prayer -- children talking to their Father, without any subtleties...”

And one more thing: don’t look for immediate “results.” Rather, just do it for its own sake. Just make it a routine part of your life, like exercising or brushing your teeth. In my case, I’ve hardly missed some sort of physical workout a single day in my adult life. One has to adopt the same attitude as it pertains to exercising the Spirit. It’s the least you can do to devote at least 15 or 20 minutes a day to turning your mind to higher things (↑), so that the Higher Thing may turn to you (↓).

Meditation / Concentration / Prayer: These three words epitomize the spiritual life, while at the same time indicating its principal modes. Meditation, from our standpoint, is an activity of the intelligence in view of understanding universal truths; concentration, for its part, is an activity of the will in view of assimilating these truths or realities existentially, as it were; and prayer in its turn is an activity of the soul directed towards God. --Fritjhof Schuon

Friday, July 18, 2008

On Participating Joyfully in the Sorrows of the World: Isn't it Great to Love This Much?

Some final thoughts on the subject of identity, individualism, caste, creativity, and the human role in the pneumacosmic economy. Because if we have no role, then the Buddhists and Hindus are correct, that our humanness is "nothing," except perhaps an opportunity to realize our nothingness. In this view, nothing x nothing = a kind of paradoxical empty plenitude, or effervescent emptiness.

I agree with Warren that Schuon -- and this is really no secret -- was a more-or-less crypto-Vedantin, perhaps because this was the only way he could reconcile all the world's religions. But I don't think you can do this without eliminating something quite central to Christianity, and it is precisely this question of the eternal worth and infinite preciousness of the individual.

Part of the problem involves the definition of "individual," because in my view, most people do not become individuals, which is to say, themselves. And this is especially true in more traditional cultures, as there is no question that man's "social-ism" is chronologically, developmentally, and ontologically anterior to his "narciss-ism" (and I am using both of these words in a value-neutral sense; the point is, the individual emerges from the group, just as one's personal identity emerges from a matrix of unconsciousness).

Now, as I mentioned the other day, I believe the Buddhist path represents "the easy way out." It is one of resignation born of despair and hopelessness. I well remember once discussing this with my analyst some 20 years ago, and he made a wise crack that's stuck with me ever since. I must have been saying something about the superiority of "detachment" and such, when he said something to the effect that it wasn't difficult to see the wisdom in such an view when life was so obviously short, nasty, brutish, uncertain, arbitrary, tedious, and disease-ridden. But he was making a more direct point to me, having to do with an unconscious desire to essentially "refuse" my incarnation and withdraw from the game. (At the time, I was very much drawn to Zen and the like.)

Clearly, in my analyst's view, this would not represent any kind of advance, but a capitulation. Being that he was Jewish, perhaps this was a factor, in that Judaism, perhaps even more than Christianity, is very much this worldly. It is very much a religion of descent, of bringing the divine energies into this world rather than escaping up and out. The idea that a Jew could "leave the community," renounce marriage and family, move to a monastery, and obliterate one's personal identity is pretty much meshuggenah. In fact, there is a Talmudic idea that one cannot be a rabbi if one doesn't have children, because that is the only way to understand the depth of God's love for mankind. It's very concrete, not abstract.

But if you look at the conditions of life 500, or 1000, or 2000 years ago, who wouldn't want to move into a cave near the mouth of the Ganges and detach from it all -- just withdraw inward and ascend up and out? Obviously it can be done. But I sometimes wonder if it's just an elaborate means of self-hypnosis. Of note, none of the societies that adopt this view were particularly functional, at least until they began importing western values.

To paraphrase John Lennon, "I'm not anti-Buddhist, anti-Buddha, or anti-non-theism. I'm not knockin' it or putting it down. I'm just saying it as a fact and it's true more for Raccoons than for others. I'm not saying that we're better or greater, or comparing us with Buddha as a person or God as emptiness or whatever it is. I just said what I said and it was wrong. Or it was taken wrong. And now it's all this."

To illustrate my point about the difficulty of the Raccoon path, I remember seeing an interview with Tony Snow ( a Catholic convert) about a year ago. They began discussing Snow's cancer, and he began to break down, fighting back the tears. The interviewer -- who was also close to tears -- said something to the effect of, "You've got a lot to live for." Snow's pained response encapsulated the Raccoon view: Isn't it great to love this much?

Looked at in one way, you could say, "hell no! It sucks to love this much. If I were a single guy living in a cave, I could just slip off into the infinite, and not even notice the transition." But here is a man who found a way to value his own crucifixion -- and for those of you with small children, you know what I mean, because that's what it is. And yet, Snow didn't back away from it. Just like you-know-who, he actually embraced his fate. He did not think "my attachment to my loved ones is the source of pain." Rather, he said "my attachment to my loved ones is infinitely precious. I must not back away from it, but throw myself into it even more passionately."

Passion. Where have I heard that before? Judaism also has a passion for this Life, which is everything to it. This is why it is such a monstrosity to exchange the Palestinian beasts of depravity -- who are "living death" -- for the dead Israeli soldiers, who are "stolen life."

Likewise, the Christian God does not evade embodiment, life, and history. To the contrary, he plunges in feet first, into all of the muck, slime, confusion, obscurity, and ambiguity of the human state. If you think I'm exaggerating, this is one of the things that even the wisest pagans of the time could not comprehend, being that they believed the highest wisdom to consist of detachment and ascent. They could scarcely imagine a God who would actually choose this horrible situation, much less in a worthless and screaming baby born of anonymous peasants. That's crazy! As Pierre Hadot writes, this

"was one of the reasons for pagan hostility towards the mystery of the Incarnation." Porphyry asked, "How can we admit that the divine became an embryo, and that after its birth, it was wrapped up in swaddling clothes, covered with blood, bile, and even worse things?" "One could say that every philosophy of this period tried to explain the presence of [the] divine soul in a terrestrial body. Each was responding to the anxious interrogation of men who felt like strangers in this lower world" (Hadot).

In fact, it was in this climate that the heresy of Gnosticism (not to be confused with gnosis) was born, as it was a form of life-denial, rooted in the idea that existence wasn't just a mistake, but the perverse creation of a hostile demi-god. One can easily understand how a sophisticated person of the time could arrive at this conclusion. Imagine the faith it took to think otherwise.

But is it more or less difficult for us? For the blessings of modernity only make the world all the more enticing. Two thousand years ago it wasn't that difficult to be detached from children, since infant mortality was so extraordinarily high. People realized this, and didn't put a lot of emotional investment in a child until there was some certainty that he would survive. But even then, without the experience of passionate attachment at the foundation of the personality, the person will grow up with a schizoid, or paranoid, or borderline core -- meaning that they will either be emotionally detached from others, or project the bad content of their mind outward, thereby creating an eerily malevolent world, or be driven to extremes of impulsivity and a kind of "stably unstable" bipolar moodiness.

I suppose the question is, how do we truly reconcile Eastern and Western approaches without artificially reducing Christianity to Vedanta? Perhaps sophisticated Westerners need to get over their inferiority complex, and say that it is incumbent upon the Eastern religions to get a clue and to reconcile themselves with the Judeo-Christian values of America. Can it be done? Oh, I think so.

It is surely no coincidence that Sri Aurobindo was educated in the Christian West from a very early age. He eventually graduated with honors from Cambridge, and it was only then, at the age of 21 or so, that he returned to India. At the time, he knew nothing about Indian philosophy, and only later developed his own version of it, still rooted in tradition but adding some clearly Western concepts.

Quoting from the wiki article, it states that "One of Sri Aurobindo's main philosophical achievements was to introduce the concept of evolution into Vedantic thought.... Aurobindo rejected the materialistic tendencies of both Darwinism and Samkhya, and proposed an evolution of spirit along with that of matter, and that the evolution of matter was a result of the former."

But perhaps most importantly, "Sri Aurobindo rejected a major conception of Indian philosophy that says that the World is Maya (illusion) and that living as a renunciate was the only way out. He says that it is possible, not only to transcend human nature but also to transform it and to live in the world as a free and evolved human being with a new consciousness and a new nature which could spontaneously perceive the truth of things, and proceed in all matters on the basis of inner oneness, love and light" (emphasis mine).

Bingo! The Way of the Raccoon, whatever your religion. Elsewhere Aurobindo wrote that such an approach necessarily altered "our whole normal view of things; even in preserving all the aims of human life, it will give them a different sense and direction."

Isn't it great to love so much?

The first victory is to create an individuality. And then later, the second victory is to give this individuality to the Divine. And the third victory is that the Divine changes your individuality into a divine being.

There are three stages: the first is to become an individual; the second is to consecrate the individual, that he may surrender entirely to the Divine and be identified with Him; and the third is that the Divine takes possession of this individual and changes him into a being in His own image, that is, he too becomes divine
. --The Mother