Saturday, September 20, 2008

Falling at the Speed of Liberalism

Just went through the September '06 arkive, and didn't find much that was worth a second look. Frankly, it would have taken less time to produce a new post. In selecting an oldie for the weekly Saturday reposting, I'm usually looking for something I can dialogue with from my new perspective. Plus, I like to weave in some contemporary events, add some fresh insults, and, most importantly, remove the frankly embarrassing, trite, or insufficiently pompous material that seemed arrogant enough at the time. So this one will have to do.


Gricks may rise and Troysirs may fall (there being two sights for ever a picture) for in the byways of high improvidence that's what makes lifework leaving and the world's a cell for citters to cit in. --James Joyce, Finnegans Wake

There are two laws in history: the law of gravity, and the law of destiny. Left to their own devices, human beings will recapitulate the fall day by day, moment by moment, plummeting further and further from the Origin and Center. In order to find and attain one's destiny -- which is coextensive with the Origin and Center, on a personal level -- one must go against the collective winds which either drag one down with the rest, or, at the very least, pressure one to conform to the mentality of the horde. This was not as problematic in America's past, when the culture still valued and embodied the ideal of spiritual perfection in its diverse modalities.

[Here you go: here's a contemporary reference for you at American Thinker, The Drumbeat, by William Staneski. The drumbeat to which he refers is simply the dreary rhythm of man's fall, set to the monotonous bleat of leftist doctrine. It is hardly new, much less progressive:

"The drumbeat. It's always there. Day and night. Rain or shine. Winter or Summer. Sunday or Monday. It comes at you from every direction. It comes over the TV, the radio, at work, at school, in music, in the newspapers, from the politicians, in conversation with others, even in church. It wears you down. It robs you of the will to resist its message. Even short-lived victories, which stop it briefly, leave you with the knowledge that it will return; each minor victory bound to be lost to the redoubled efforts of this patient and persistent force. You can't escape it. It never stops. It never gives up. It never ends. It rains upon you from every possible angle, from every possible source."

Again, you have to imagine how difficult it was to resist this drumbeat back in the days before talk radio and other conservative media. When I was a liberal, I literally encountered no resistance to the leftist fall. There was nothing whatsoever to prevent me from jumping into the fire and going down with it into the ribbon of darkness. As I have said, I am not a bitter or backward looking man, but if I were, I could be pretty angry at how much of my life was lost bathing in the muddy water of liberalism. One reason I'm not angry is that I made the transition back to reality and truth before I was too old, and I have no right to complain about the way things turned out.

The downward tide of leftism is "tolerant, diverse, non-judgmental, non-discriminatory, egalitarian, politically correct, multicultural, globalist, and collectivist. It insists that there are no rights and wrongs, no moral absolutes. It turns everything upside down in its looking glass world. It denies the correctness of all that produced what our culture revered before the deconstruction of the world in accordance with the tenets of cultural Marxism.

"It denies God, human exceptionalism, and the soul. We are reduced to Darwinian animals floundering in an amoral sea of meaninglessness. It is a product of the nihilistic, existentialist philosophical movement, which went hand in hand with modern art, atonal music, scientific materialism and modern physics, and the generally discordant nature of the twentieth century."

I would express it differently, in that there is nothing about modernity that needed to end in the hell of leftist nihilism. Rather, I think the left is riding on the much deeper structure of the cosmic fall, or those descending winds that end in the Great Nothing, or what Schuon calls the possibility of the impossible. There is nothing whatsoever about modern science -- for example, quantum physics -- that necessarily leads to materialism. Quite the opposite. Likewise, modern art. None of the techniques of modern art are problematic in the hands of an elevated soul. Hollywood doesn't have to be sewer. Rock music doesn't have to be subhuman. I blame the people, not the medium. For every 1000 Madonnas or Bon Jovis, there's still one Van Morrison. In order to see the light, all you have to do is turn around.

Anyway, back to the old post.]

In this sense, the ancients were correct in being suspicious of time. At any given point in history, looked at in a certain way, things always look bleak and seem to be getting bleaker. Therefore, why not stop the whole colliderescape and get off? I would call that a pathological kind of conservatism, whereas real conservatism must be progressive. However, it all depends upon what one means by progress. For the true conservative, it means closer proximity and adequation to the Good, True, and Beautiful.

If one were to look at the way things stood in the world over the 500 years or so up to 1700, one “would not have been optimistic about the future of mankind." As historian Alan McFarlane notes in his The Riddle of the Modern World: Of Liberty, Wealth and Equality, nearly every civilization had reached some sort of "invisible barrier” that prevented further development: "The world and its roughly 500 million inhabitants seemed to have reached the limit to its potential to support human life.... Mankind seemed to be caught on a treadmill."

How did we ever get off that treadmill? It's an important question, because it is at the heart of our current conflict with Islam. They are still on that treadmill, and when one isn't progressing, one generally degenerates. Life is not static. Reduced to stasis, it becomes death. There is no middle ground. You cannot be "a little bit" alive or dead. Any evolving system must maintain disequilibrium by exchanging matter or information with the environment. The deepest problem with the Islamic world is that it is a closed system, both individually and collectively.

Prior to West's discovery of the dynamics of material and intellectual growth, life consisted of unrelenting uncertainty deprivation for all but a very few. In order to accomplish our breakthrough, “almost all the trends of the previous 2000 years had to be reversed.” Among other things, the monopolization of knowledge had to end, so that information and technology could be shared through widespread education and literacy. Furthermore, this couldn't be just any kind of education. Rather, it had to be a rational education in which one freely discovers universal truths that are not context-bound (i.e., merely cultural constructs which are often rooted in the management of anxiety rather than pursuit of truth).

There is an ontological divide between human beings that is mirrored in the gulf between left and right. There are those who say that what the world really needs is more love, more peace, more mutual understanding, more unity, more cuddly blah blah.

Nonsense. Nearly every serious problem in the world may be reduced to an absence of Truth. The pursuit of love and peace is perfectly admirable on a micro level in one's personal life. This is the meaning of “love your enemies," “turn the other cheek," "the meek shall inherit the earth," and all those other admirable sentiments.

But the Bible is not a suicide pact. On a macro level, the most important societal value by far is Truth. And not just any kind of Truth, but the truth of Truth and a method for discovering it. It has been said that it wasn't this or that particular invention that distinguished the West. Rather, it was the invention of invention, or the discovery of a method of discovery.

In the Islamic world -- as in liberal academia -- truth is received, not discovered. And most of what they receive is not only untrue, but cannot possibly be true. But because they have no tradition or means of independent verification, they are immersed in darkness and falsehood. In such a situation, the soul emaciates in the same way a body eventually consumes itself if deprived of food.

The other day, an acquaintance mentioned the left wing barking point one often hears, that if only the Israelis had settled someplace other than Israel, there would be no problems in the Middle East. That is beyond naive. Muslims do not object to Israel merely because it exists, but because they believe outrageous lies about Israel.

Likewise, for all those leftists who say that America is hated, that may be so, at least by the international left (and by the Americans who give a rat's ass what the international left thinks about us). But it is hated because the haters of the left believe things about us that are outrageously untrue, just as the left hates President Bush because they believe lies about him. Furthermore, they want to believe the lies, in order to legitimize the hatred. To know the truth would be to de-legitimize the hatred, and deny its channel of expression. Imagine what would happen to a Bill Maher or Keith Olbermann or Randi Rhodes or Markos Moulitsas if all that hatred were backed up inside them. Thus, they have every motivation for believing lies. It keeps them insanely sane, so to speak.

By being sensitive to Muslim feelings for decades, we have essentially honored their delusional lies. In the spirit of a deeply illiberal multiculturalism, we have allowed these lies to take their place alongside the truth as a coequal partner. Light shall no longer shine in the dark, but shall dialogue with it, man to imam. The Pope let slip a banal truth about the sordid history of Islam, and look what happened. The entitled liars bristled in defense of their primordial lie, a lie which has been further enshrined by that half of the postmodern world which regards truth as relative and arbitrary. In so doing, they have simply allowed these tyrannical monsters to elevate their truth (which is a lie) to a false absolute.

For, although they are the benefecearies of liberal academics who teach the false absolute that truth doesn't exist, they don't really believe that for a second. Rather, they simply use the means of leftist relativism to advance their own absolute end of religious totalitarianism. For when truth is denied, raw power fills the vacuum, destroying love and everything else in its wake.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Evolution of Evolution and the Supramental Manifestation

Hmm. Not much web fluid this morning. Not sure if I should even try to post. Usually when I wake up, there are various thoughtlets, precoonceptions, and ideas for ideas floating about overhead, just waiting to be caught, thought and jotted. But not today. All I see is.... this world. Bummer. Is this what it's like to be an atheist or liberal? I'd die of boredom.

You can learn a lot by watching a 3.5 year-old. One thing you notice is the relationship between interior and exterior. As a new internal world comes on line, old interests are dropped. The previous world no longer exists -- it has no significance or meaning. Instead, he begins looking for a new external world to match the new internal world, but that external world doesn't yet exist. So he must go about discovering and co-creating it. This is what the great psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott called the "transitional space." It is neither subjective nor objective, but a third category that transcends them.

In fact, human beings never stop living in this transitional space, which is very much analogous to a hologram, which is a stable image created by the interference of two coherent light beams or wavefronts. Or, think of how a good stereo creates a perfect three-dimensional sound-image that hovers between the speakers.

A culture will be "external" to you if you have either evolved beyond it or failed to achieve it. For example, the transitional space of the Raccoon is "exterior" to our scientistic jester. In one sense he seems fascinated by it -- since he keeps coming back -- and yet, refuses to do what is necessary to enter it, which would involve leaving the old familiar country of crude materialism behind (it reminds me of how my son is fascinated by the older boys). Any transition is always fraught with ambivalence, unless you are temperamentally a daring and adventurous soul. For spirituality is without a doubt the ultimate adventure. Furthermore, once you are on the adventure, nothing else will do. I could no more inhabit the cramped world of the atheist than spend the rest of my life in an airport terminal.

One of the intrinsic challenges of being a Raccoon is that "our world" does not yet properly exist on the outside except in pockets and fragments (thank God for the internet). Rather, it is in the process of coming into being. It's really fundamentally no different than a child who enters a new developmental stage, and must discover and create the objects necessary to articulate his new "unthought" idiom. For each new stage is also an idiom, or a mode of expression.

The transitional space, no matter how concrete, is really more dreamlike than material. If you could rise above history and view it from the widest possible angle, you would see a sort of dream-space between monkey and God, in which human beings articulate and externalize the various stages and dimensions of their soul.

For example, there was a time that all human cultures engaged in human sacrifice, not just Muslims and MSM journalists. Obviously, this felt "normal" to the people engaging in it, just as it feels normal for Palestinians to murder Israelis. This is because, in some way that most people no longer understand, human sacrifice represents a vital idiom for articulating something quite fundamental within the psyche. It is merely the exteriorization of the interior.

Again, I see this quite vividly in my son. Toys and other objects that were once intensely meaningful to him just drop away like rocket boosters. Which, in a way, they are. Any transitional object is merely a "bridge" to get one from here to there. Perhaps you have noticed old interests and concerns simply dropping away as you ascend spiritually. Things that were of the utmost importance are as interesting as Mister Rogers to a 16 year old.

Take, for example, the classic transitional object, the "baby blanket." At first, the blanket symbolizes all of soothing and containing capacities of the mother, as the child is learning to be independent from her. In so doing, he obviously cannot make the transition all at once, but needs a "bridge," so to speak, between dependence and independence. The blanket serves this purpose. Once the child has securely made the transition, he drops the blanket. But if he fails to make the secure transition to individuation, he may well spend the rest of his life covertly searching for that transitional object in disguised forms -- drugs, alcohol, food, sexual perversions and compulsions, etc. Furthermore, all of us can regress to this stage when under stress, and seek out familiar objects that comfort and contain. One thinks of Andrew Sullivan's extensive Barbie Doll collection.

Now, Sri Aurobindo may or may not be correct about this, and you are naturally free to translight it into your own spiritual idiom -- or, indeed simply use the idea as a sort of transitional object. But he was convinced that evolution was in the process of building a bridge between man and God, just as it had previously built one between animal and man (or, just as childhood is a bridge between infant and adult). One of the many ways to disprove reductionistic Darwinism is to consider the transitional space of an animal vs. that of a human being. The transitional space of an animal is tied to very concrete things linked directly to survival, basically what to eat, whom to avoid, and with whom to make a rap video.

But the transitional space so far transcends that of the animal, that only a fool could reduce it to a material epiphenomenon under control of the genes. For this vast and abundant space is indeed an earthly analogue of the divine plenum. Just look at all the stuff that was awaiting man when he popped his head into this space! Truth, beauty, paintings, poems, symphonies, divine revelations, novels, baseball, constitutions, ideologies, scientific theories, the Bo Diddley Beat. But also human sacrifice, child abuse, witch hunts, dailykos, huffingtonpost, Marxism, Hitlerism, Maoism, the designated hitter, and other beasts that we keep. Again, we could not enter this space without encountering its dark shadow (just as in biology, there are light and "luminous" creatures such as the butterfly, and ugly and "descending" entities such as cockroaches, trial lawyers, and entertainment executives).

The other day, someone brought up the "void," which is really the space that occurs when you die to one world but are not yet born into another. It entails a kind of depression that one must tolerate, just as the child must tolerate his separation from the mother in order to gain his independence. In the case of the child, it's not as difficult, because we have all kinds of age-appropriate objects to help make the transition. Plus, they will have friends who are going through the same thing, and will be a source of support. But mainly, the child needs adaptive parents who can empathically reflect whatever stage their child is at -- just as a good therapist needs to be able to mirror whatever stage the patient is at, or one spouse needs to be able to mirror and resonate the emotional state of the other. One can always tell when there is a disturbance in the force.

To review a bit, Aurobindo called the divine realm "Supermind." Most human groups are still in the process of mastering the realm of mind, but in between mind and Supermind is the realm of the "Overmental." Now, importantly, the realms of Supermind and Overmind exist whether or not the mass of human beings ever evolve there -- just as the realm of scientific truth would have existed had human beings never "discovered" it. In short, Truth has no need of man. Rather, vice versa. On the other hand, Lies do need man, as he is the only entity in all of existence who can harbor them. No wonder that man's mind is a battlefield between truth and lies.

Aurobindo's collaborator, Mirra Richard (known by disciples as "the Mother") said that on the one hand, the Supramental world was "absolutely determined, for all is from eternity; and yet, the path traversed by the Consciousness has a freedom and unpredictability that is also absolute." This, in my opinion, is how one reconciles divine omnipotence with free will. I'm trying to think of a good analogy. Perhaps it is again like jazz, which has extremely tight constraints, within which one has a radical freedom to arrive at the "aesthetic destination," so to speak. There are many paths to beauty, and yet, Beauty is One.

So one of the awkward things about the human state is that we coexist on so many different planes, some of which are still in the process of coming into being; or, to be precise, being articulated, since they again pre-exist us. I have no doubt whatsoever that the different authentic revelations of the world are more or less adequate attempts to articulate and describe these higher worlds.

But a critical point to bear in mind is that scripture is nevertheless a transitional object that is "lit up" like a hologram by the coherent light beam of our own intellect. In other words, revelation is one light; our intellect is another; in their intersection a "third object" emerges and comes into view. This is why it is so critical to not be reductionistic with regard to scripture, because that is a way to literally kill the emergent transitional spirit with the concrete letter. Thankfully, scripture itself is uniquely holographic, and is therefore capable of serving as a transitional object for anyone from the most unlettered peasant to the greatest spiritual genius.

Obviously, the spiritual world will appear non-existent if we have no contact with it, which, when you come right down to it, is the atheist's only argument. It reminds me of my son, who will put a blanket over his head and ask, "where's Tristan?!" We always go along with the joke, as if he has disappeared from view, but obviously my three year-old can no more understand his solipsism than can the atheist. In the case of the latter, he pulls the wool over his own I and asks "where's God?!"

Between the beings of the supramental world and the humans almost the same separation exists as between humans and animals.... Only when the link of consciousness is established shall we see it -- and even then only the part of our being which has undergone transformation in this way will be able to see it as it is -- otherwise the two worlds would remain apart like the animal and human worlds.

Truly this is what is actually happening now, and we can say with certitude that the supramental world already exists, but that it has come time for it to become the goal of the Journey of the supreme Consciousness, that little by little a conscious link will be formed between our world and that new one.... This zone remains to be built, both in the individual consciousness and the objective world, and it is being built.
--The Mother

Sunday, September 14, 2008

And the Last Commandment Shall be First

I thought I should finish up with those Ten Commandments, rather than leave you hanging. Here's #10.


Man is so caught up in the toils of mechanical life that he neither has time to stop nor the power of attention needed to turn his mental vision upon himself. Man thus passes his days absorbed by external circumstances. The great machine that drags him along turns without stopping, and forbids him to stop under penalty of being crushed.... Life passes away from him almost unseen, swift as a ray of light, and man falls engulfed and still absent from himself. --Boris Mouravieff

“Zoom!" What was that? That was your life, mate. Oh, that was quick, do I get another? Sorry, that's your lot. --Basil Fawlty

We conclude our little round trip of the inner meaning of the Ten Commandments with the tenth, “thou shalt not covet.” It is a fitting capstone to our journey, since the injunction against envy is really more of a reward for a life well lived than an ultimatum.

For envy is the most corrosive of emotions (or perhaps more accurately, “mental states”), in that it undermines any possibility of personal happiness or spiritual fulfillment. While it often takes the form of longing for what one doesn’t have, it is usually built on an unconscious foundation of being ungrateful for what one has, or even actively devaluing what one has, so that one constantly feels deprived. Thus, envy is often the residue of the inner emptiness caused by unconscious devaluation, "spoiling," and ingratitude. It is one of the primary reasons why liberals are on the average so much less happy than conservatives.

Ultimately envy is a self-consuming process that leaves nothing but itself standing, like Michael Corleone at the end of The Godfather or Charles Foster Kane at the end of Citizen Kane. Both endings represent envy triumphant. All that is left of Kane is a huge warehouse of meaningless objects frantically acquired during a lifetime spent trying vainly to fill a psychological and spiritual void with possessions. It is appropriate that these empty consolations are consigned to the fire, as workers absently toss one after another into the flames.

Here we discover a certain confluence of Buddhism and the Judeo-Christian tradition, for Buddha is famous for his wise crack about desire being the source of our suffering. But actually, he was trying to make a point about attachment to desire. Desires will come and go, like smoke driven by wind. It is only when we attempt to cling to them that they become problematic.

But even then, as I pointed out in One Cosmos, I find it useful to draw a distinction between appetite, which is natural and usually legitimate, and desire, which is often artificial and mimetic, meaning that it is not spontaneous but prompted from the outside. Many people give themselves entirely over to this process, and lead lives of simply wanting what others seem to want. They are pushed and pulled around by fleeting desires, impulses and passions, but when one of them is being gratified, it gives rise to a spurious sense of expansiveness and “freedom,” when in reality this kind of ungoverned desire is the opposite of freedom. The "expansiveness" will only be temporary, and last as long as it takes for the impulse to return and fill up the space again.

It is very difficult to avoid this dynamic in a consumer-driven culture such as ours. It’s the kind of cliché that Petey detests, but we are constantly bombarded with messages and images that fan the fires of envy and mimesis. Sri Aurobindo wrote that this was one of the properties of the “vital mind,” and the fundamental problem is that it cannot really be appeased. In other words, it doesn’t shrink when we acquiesce to it. Instead, it only grows, like an addiction or compulsion.

Importantly, the vital mind does not merely consist of impulses seeking discharge. Rather, it can take over the machinery of the host, and generate its own thoughts and rationalizations. We’ve all seen this happen in ourselves. Yoga in its most generic sense involves a reversal of this tendency, so that we may consciously yearn for what we actually want, rather than mindlessly willing what we desire. This tends to be a constant battle at the beginning. But only until the end.

I am reminded of Peter Guralnick’s fine biography of Elvis. It is amazing how elaborate the vital mind can become if left unchecked, or if it is gratified before one has had the chance to develop one's soul and intellect -- i.e, to acquire wisdom and prudence. It seems that someone can become so wealthy and powerful that they lose the friction necessary to distinguish between fantasy and reality. A sort of hypnotic, dreamlike imagination takes hold, which can become quite elaborate and unnatural. I am sure this accounts for the general nuttiness that comes out of the typical left-wing hollywoodenhead. They are so far removed from what you and I know as reality, that they are both ontologically and epistemologically (not to say spiritually) crippled.

“Job one” of the vital mind is to foster a kind of I-amnesia, so that we repeatedly fool ourselves into believing that fulfillment of the next desire will finally break the cycle and bring us real contentment, but most of us know that drill. For in that gap between desire and fulfillment lies the hidden key. In that gap there is both anticipation and hope. But like the referred pain of a back injury that we feel in the leg, this hope is misplaced onto a realm incapable of fulfilling it. For, as it is written -- probably on a bumper snicker somewhere -- ”You can never get enough of what you don’t really need.”

This pattern of desiring what we don’t really want or need is well beyond merely affecting our spiritual lives. Rather, it is starting to seriously compromise even our physical well-being. At some point in the last 10-15 years, affluence became a much more serious threat to health than poverty. The levels of obesity, type II diabetes, and other related health problems have become epidemic. Why? Because people are able to wallow in the vital mind as never before. The Western world is increasingly full of “poor” people whose bodies look like the most prosperous and decadent people of the past. They are still impoverished, but it is a spiritual impoverishment that causes them to try to fill the void with food and meaningless sedentary activities, such as television and video games. In a way, they are more poor -- not to say pathetic and lacking in dignity -- than the poor of the past.

Natural appetites can be satisfied, but the gods of abstract metaphysical desire are insatiable and require constant tribute. That is one of the paradoxes, for one might think that the spiritually developed person lives in an “abstract” world, while the vital person lives in the concrete world, but it is quite the opposite. The spiritual person becomes very concretely aware of subtle and fleeting little concrete joys on a moment-by-moment basis, where as the vital types are only tuned into the most gross forms of sensory overload, whether in music, entertainment, or food (and I imagine the porn industry taps into this same dynamic as well; it is really an attempt to "wake the dead," or to arouse passion in someone who has become totally jaded).

Here again we must bear in mind the limitlessness of the human imagination. We can always imagine something better, something that we don’t have. Any clown can do that. Much more tricky is being grateful for what we do have. Thus, the cultivation of humility and gratitude actively counter the vital mind and its constitutional envy. This may initially feel as if we are being deprived of our horizontal liberty, such as it is, and this is true. However, the whole point is to replace that with a more expansive vertical freedom that is relatively unconstrained by material circumstances, excluding the most dire cases.

And, just as in my absurcular book, the commandments circle back around to the beginning, back to where we started, with the holographic first commandment that contains all the others: “The secular left turns the cosmos upside down and inside out. As a result, instead of being conditioned in a hierarchical manner from the top down, it is conditioned from the bottom up. This results not in true liberation, only in rebellion and pseudo-liberation, for there can be no meaningful freedom outside objective Truth. The left rejects top-town hierarchies as intrinsically repressive, but the opposite is true -- only in being conditioned by the higher can we actually elevate and liberate ourselves from contingency and relativity.”

Or, as Will put it “Like any physical attribute, if the human intellect is not yoked to and governed by the Higher Intelligence, it runs amok and eventually goes crazy. It's taken some time to get there, but currently, the spiritually bereft intellect is basically in charge of most of the world's influential institutions, which of course means the world is in deep stew. As far as definitions of the Antichrist go, I think this would do OK.”

On the spiritual level, there is simply nothing more satanic than envy. The sword of gratitude is our only defense.