Monday, October 27, 2008

That Old Black, er, Post-Racial Magic (11.10.11)

Letter VII, The Chariot. UF tells us that this arcanum has to do with that most subtle temptation, spiritual temptation. It is subtle -- or at least tricky -- because the temptation results from one's very spiritual success: "It is the temptation to act 'in one's own name,' to act as master instead of servant." Virtually the entire new age movement falls under the heading of this particular temptation.

This is why all authentic spiritual paths begin with moral development. If they sometimes exaggerate man's depravity, this is far preferable to the converse, since one of the purposes is to prevent the spiritual inflation that occurs when spiritual energies are mingled with the unredeemed man, a la Deepak and his ilk. Again, when this happens, you create a demon, a monster. And it only happens again and again and again.

Schuon said something to the effect that man tests his faith by renouncing, while God tests it by removing. Renunciation has the practical effect of opening up a space where the ego would otherwise be. Elsewhere in the book, UF says that while nature abhors a vacuum, Spirit requires one.

Here again, the inverse of this would be the Deepak-style new age idea of The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire, or Creating Affluence. To the extent that Chopra's magical ideas "work," it is because they harness demonic energy. To the extent that they continue to work, it will depend upon how thoroughly one has vanquished the conscience -- i.e., become less than human.

In a relativistic universe in which there is no difference between up and down, this is to become a "superman." This is why Chopra is apparently regarded as a "wise man" by thousands, instead of the spiritual cancer that he is. For as UF says, "it is not desire which bears magical realization, but rather the renunciation of desire." Or, one might say, "blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." One must not saturate the space where vertical energies operate. Rather, one must get out of the way.

Here is the key point: "For some the superman has more attraction than the Son of Man, because he promises them a career of increasing power, whilst the Son of Man offers only a career of 'foot washing.'" The ego obviously prefers the superman, and it is to the power-seeking ego which all false paths appeal.

As a little sidebar, I hope that when UF pejoratively -- and properly -- refers to the "superman," it is in the Nietzschean and not Aurobindean sense. For example, if you read The Mother's Prayers and Meditations, it is far closer in tone to that of a Christian saint than any Deepak-style cosmic narcissism. I haven't looked at this book in a long time. On one of the opening pages there is a hand-written letter from the Mother, showing the extent of her egoic surrender to the divine. Prior to this, she had had plenty of experience in the occult circles that flourished at the turn of the century, and were very much similar to today's power-mad new age movement:

Some give their soul to the Divine, some their life, some offer their work, some their money. A few consecrate all of themselves and all they have -- soul, life, work, wealth; these are the true children of God. Others give nothing. These, whatever their position, power and riches, are for the divine purpose valueless cyphers. This book is for those who aspire for an utter consecration to the divine.

I'm just browsing around. Here's another sample: Let Thy Light be in me like a Fire that makes all alive; let thy divine Love penetrate me. I aspire with all my being for Thy reign as sovereign and master of my mind and heart and body.

Thou art the one and only goal of my life and the centre of my aspiration, the pivot of my thought, the key of the synthesis of my being.

Really, every passage is an inverse image of the Chopra Method, being that nearly each one emphasizes the centrality of worshipping that which is above us and the ceaseless effort to do so, which UF says is the best curative against spiritual inflation, since these serve as a reminder of the distance between us and the goal. We must not confuse "what we are" with who or "what the worshipped being is." True, "all is God" -- although it is far more accurate to say that "nothing is not God." Nevertheless, to paraphrase Schuon, it does one no good whatsoever to say "I am one with God" until one appreciates the extent to which that is far from the case.

Let us shun the paths that are too easy and ask no effort, the paths which give us the illusion of having reached our goal; let us shun the negligence which opens the door to every downfall, that complacent self-admiration that leads to every abyss. Let us understand that however great may have been our efforts, our struggles, even our victories, compared with the distance yet to be travelled, the one we have already covered is nothing.... (the Mother)

Back to the Chariot. Getting sidetracked. Well, not really, because Chopra is again such a perfect symbol of the dangers of spiritual inflation and megalomaniacal delusions. Countless other new age or "integral" con artists would serve just as well, but since he seems to be the most prominent case, he's the one that immediately comes to mind.

UF points out that since the purpose of esoteric spirituality is the cultivation of height, depth, breadth, and profundity -- i.e, "that which works behind the facade of ordinary consciousness" -- inflation is the principle danger for all who would embark upon this path. As such, this is why there is such an emphasis "on the cultivation of humility," for example, in remaining obedient to orthodoxy (or to the true Master), of systematic and continuous "examination of conscience," and on "the reciprocal brotherly help of members of the community" of Raccoons. "Authentic experience of the Divine makes one humble; he who is not humble has not had an authentic experience of the Divine" (MOTT).

This, by the way, is the meaning of true community, of which left wing statism is a truly gross caricature. As Russell Kirk writes in Eliot and His Age, the left settles for the dreary monotony and soul-crushing exterior uniformity of the welfare state, rather than "to undertake the hard and austere labor of thinking through a program for restoring true community," which can only be rooted in the Spirit, not neo-Marxist matter.

Leftism and secularism embody the preference for -- and enforcement of -- illusion over transcendent reality. These parasites "live upon a civilization to which they contribute nothing." In fact, because they are "progressive," they actively sever the living link between the present and the past, so that communication with the past -- the source of practical wisdom -- is impossible. The idea of "temporal progress" denies the spatial mode of civilization, in which we are presently floating atop -- and nourished by -- hard won wisdom, truth, moral beauty, and liberty.

Obama is suffering from the identical spiritual inflation as Chopra. Note how UF saw Obama coming half a century ago:

"The reformer who wants to correct or save humanity easily falls victim to the temptation of considering himself as the active center of the passive circle of humanity. He feels himself as the bearer of a mission of universal significance, therefore he feels himself to be more and more important."

And why not, with deeply disturbed creatures such as this serving as his herald demon:

"You really only get a handful, a smattering, maybe three or four per lifetime if you're lucky or blessed or just so happen to be paying the right kind of deeper karmic attention. Historic events, I mean. Major shifts, upheavals, great leaps forward [!!!!! -- ed.], the Thing That Changed Everything.

"President Obama will be just such a shift, an extraordinary marker, a type and flavor of history that we as preternaturally jaded humans rarely get to experience anymore.... the sheer volume of expansive energy surrounding Obama's run has been absolutely astonishing, a global outpouring of positive interest and awareness like almost no other leader, no other potential slap of progress we've experienced in modern American history. From the international headlines down to the forgotten corners of our own culture we normally never hear from, the message is the same: Something is about to upend. Something seems like it's about to give way."

Yes, something is about to give way (and be taken away) alright. With an Obama presidency, we will now be governed by those least capable of governing themselves, which is a recipe for hell.

It would not be too difficult to name some politicians whose influence and impact agree very well with the classical concept of the "black magician." Indeed, is it difficult to name politicians who have exercised a deadly, suggestive influence on the popular masses, blinding them and inciting them to acts of cruelty, injustice and violence, of which each individual, taken separately, would be incapable... and who, through their semi-magical influence, have deprived individuals of their freedom and rendered them possessed? And is not this action to deprive men of their moral freedom and to render them possessed the aim and very essence of black magic? --Meditations on the Tarot

Let the Great Leap Forward begin!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Love the One with the One You're With (11.04.11)

Arcanum VI, l'amoreux. Pardon my French. The Lover. UF notes that the central theme of this card is the vow of chastity, esoterically understood. For "one is chaste only when one loves with the totality of one's being." Therefore there is no true love in the absence of chastity -- and vice versa. Chastity is the living unity and wholeness in being whereby body, soul, and spirit become one -- not through "merger," but in harmony. This is not "uniformity" but unity. It is the return of the many to the One.

I had the most marvelous conversation yesterday with the lady who took my blood. She was a simple woman, probably from El Salvador or Guatemala, but such wisdom! We were talking about the love that our children inspire, and I would gladly take her heartfelt words for the entire New York Times editorial board, any day. Why then did she want my blood?

We spoke of how holding your child is like an echo of paradise, or perhaps a foretaste of heaven. How can so many people seem to miss this everyday example of mystical unity? Who knows. But there is no question that man devalues what is freely available, and vastly overvalues what isn't. It pretty much makes the world go 'round -- or flat, to be precise.

UF writes that "to feel something as real in the measure of its full reality is to love." Obviously, it is no coincidence that Genesis discusses the sexual act in terms of knowledge. Was Moses simply confused? Or perhaps disclosing a reality that our boneheaded elites cannot begin to understand? I am quite sure that the lady who wanted my blood understands. But can you imagine a "sex education" class that discusses this concept, without which human sexuality is not human? No, of course not, for the purpose of all leftist ideology is to demoralize us and make us less than what we are.

To love something is to begin to know it in its full reality. Note that I said begin, for as Bion discusses, love is a link (L) between subjects. It merely gets the party started. Until we forge that link, the Other is not really real, just a piece of psychic furniture.

UF explains that -- contrary to materialistic sophistry -- the one thing that we know as really real is ourselves. "And we do not love -- or we do not love as much as ourselves -- other beings, who seem to us to be less real." We are born narcissistic, egocentric, self-absorbed. Not until I had a child did I truly realize that the cosmos has a center around which everything revolves: him. Occasionally events conspire to temporarily displace him from the center, at which point he might say something like, Daddy, I don't like you anymore. Suffice it to say that conservatives grow out of this phase.

Here again, this is why the materialist can neither know reality nor love, since he does not recognize the absolute reality of subjects. Rather, the subject is simply a side effect of matter, and matter is obviously "one," which is an inverted doctrine of spiritual oneness. This material oneness is the false unity that inspires the left. It is why "what's yours is mine," and why Obama's conscience (such as it is) is untroubled by taking what belongs to you and and Joe and "spreading it around." Yes, Obama loves us. But like nature, he loves us ruthlessly.

How do we escape the prison of our narcissism? Primarily through love, because love partakes of being. There is also knowledge, of course, but unless that knowledge is rooted in love and being, it is smoke driven by wind. It will not be left standing when the catastrophe comes -- which will surely come, for "thou owest nature a death," one way or the other. Actually, one owes many deaths, one for each rung on the ladder of being. Love, for example, is the death of narcissism.

UF writes that there are two principle methods of overcoming our cosmic narcissism, generally corresponding to eastern and western religions (although each has both; it is merely a matter of emphasis). The first is obliteration of the illusory ego, so that one becomes a "shadow among shadows." This is the "equality of indifference." If the separate "I" doesn't exist, then we're all one. Being that the ego is the ultimate illusion, just vanquish that illusion, and the doors of perception are cleansed.

The other way -- the Christian way -- is to extend the love that one has for oneself to other beings. Instead of "me dead, you dead," it's "me living, you living."

Now, this is difficult to do. Obviously. But you don't try to do it all at once. Otherwise, you simply become a parody, like our venomously passive-aggressive trolls who hide their hideous hostility behind a hearty namasté!

No, chastity begins at home. You start with a small circle, and then gradually widen the circle. Start at the center, not the periphery. Try loving your neighborhood before The Planet. Again -- not to get too sidetracked -- but the left begins at the periphery. Obama is the great Unifier. But what kind of unity is it that doesn't even recognize my real existence? I'm not some ant in the leftist hive. What if I don't want that kind of material unity? Too bad, I guess. Some love. I mean, please. Don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining.

Try starting with one person, for unless one first knows real love, one will not be capable of understanding what it means to widen its circle. UF returns to Genesis, where God says that "it is not good that Adam should be alone," which is to say that "it is not good that man loves nobody but himself." God wasn't just ribbing, for he then creates the "other," who is actually of the same substance as Adam, even a part of himself. To love is to recognize the unity: "In the beginning there was only one love and its source was one, since its principle was one."

Again, love has to do with the recovery of higher unity, not the imposition of a lower uniformity. This is a key point. UF notes how this reality is precisely inverted by the left and by Freudianism. In the case of the left, it elevates economic interest to all. In the case of Freud, he elevated the sexual instinct to all. You might say that the left reduces everything to the first chakra, Freudianism to the second. And both are obviously entirely compatible with materialism, scientism, and Darwinism, which try to account for the top by reducing it to the bottom. That's not love. It is hate. Hatred of reality.

Naturalism is not so much a love of matter as a rejection of, or inability to apprehend, that which transcends it. This is why Bill Ayers feels he "didn't do enough" back in his days as a loving domestic terrorist. But he shouldn't worry. As an "educational reformer," he's destroying more young souls than he could ever hope to as a bomb-tossing sociopath.

You will see the false love -- the hate -- behind the Obama phenomenon should he lose the election, for in every denizen of Blue Meanies, police are making plans for violence. In fact, they are also planning for violence should he prevail. But that violence is only a prelude to the violence to come. You know, as his spiritual dementor said, God damn America!

Brace yourself for Obama's love. And don't forget your raincoat.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Living on a Wound and a Prayer (11.03.11)

On to the Pope. This chapter seemed a bit convoluted to me. I mean, UF has a somewhat rambling style as it is, but this one struck me as more rambly than some of the others. As usual, I'll just highlight what resonated with me, Bob's Unconscious.

The main point is that this card has to do with "vertical respiration," or what UF describes as the double movement of prayer and benediction -- or of (↑) and (↓), respectively. Thus, if you ask why we pray, it's roughly the same as asking why we exhale. We do so in order to inhale. And live.

The ascending and descending energies are parts of a single movement. In fact -- in a manner of speaking, of course -- you could even say that we are the answer to God's prayers.

"The prayers of humanity rise towards God and, after having been divinely 'oxidized,' are transformed into benedictions which descend from above." In prayer, something "leaves" us, but comes back transformed. While this may sound abstract or unscientific, it really isn't, certainly not if you are aware of modern trends in developmental neuropsychoanalysis, which are confirming revolutionary ideas first put forth by the likes of Bion, Fairbairn and Winnicott over 50 years ago (cf. here). It's just a matter of applying the same ideas to the intersubjective relationship with our nonlocal progenitor.

The point is, as Schuon once put it, "prayer fashions man." In a way, man is nothing but a prayer placed in the middle of nowhere, a prayer which ascends to the heavens and links the above and below. Man's very verticality -- however conceptualized -- is a prayer, don't you see? And if there were nothing at the other end of our verticality, man as such truly would be a hopeless prayer, just a long bomb hurled by matter into the cosmic End Zone.

As I was mentioning yesterday, the cries of the infant are prayers to the Divine Mother. The intersubjective relationship between mother and baby is a "reciprocity dance" of mutual projection. When those prayers are systematically unanswered, the infant is ushered into hell -- into some version of autism, narcissism, or depression. An open, intersubjective system with others is not formed, so love cannot enter or escape. While they may "bond" with others, it's really a form of disguised mutual masturbation, of "exterior to exterior." Transferred to the metaphysical plane, you could say the same of scientism, which is entirely masturbatory. It must be oddly comforting, but still, a poor substitute for a relationship with living and breathing reality.

The latter is also a state of spiritual asphyxia: expiration with no inspiration. It is the creation of a dead world by dead and tenured souls. As UF writes, "Spiritual asphyxia menaces he who does not practice some form of prayer; he who practices it receives vivifying benedictions in some form." There is a reason why the blue states are blue: no spiritual oxygen. When people have a "dead" relationship with the Creator, one must always inquire into what it is that the person is projecting into him, i.e., the actual source of the deadness. Suffice it to say that it is within the undead themselves.

Again, there is horizontal respiration, which is between the outside and inside; and vertical respiration, which is between the above and below. UF even suggests that death represents "the abrupt passage from horizontal to vertical respiration," which is why a spiritual practice is rehearsal for death. With enough practice, we may convert what is otherwise a sharp right angle into the more gentle arc of spiritual liftoff. That arc is ultimately a circle that returns us to ourselves, the circle being the perfect symbol of eternity. You might say that prayer is thinking within the curved space of spiritual reality, in such a way that the circle gradually expands.

UF points out that true intellectual or creative work is a prayer. It is fueled by the faith and hope that one's efforts are guided by an "end" that can only be dimly intuited at the start, never "seen." Blessed are those who do not see and yet believe! Blessed are those who tolerate the ambiguity of facts, that they may ultimately reveal principles, and that principles may reveal their Origin. When the world of facts embraces the world of principles, that is a prayer come true.

Prayer takes place at night and in darkness. Again, it is a complement to the wideawake & cutandry thought of the day. In fact, it is why we sleep, or more precisely, dream, for to dream is to metabolize the day and weave it into our psychic substance, just as to think and act during the day is to externalize the soul's dreams and visions. What is human culture but one big dream and/or nightmare? And what is the materialist but a sleepwalker, a man deprived of the vivifying dream of reality?

Blah blah blah yadda yadda, UF then goes into the critically important theme of the wound, and how it is only through the wound that the cosmos is entangled with itself, to such an extent that when we peer at a star (or the starlight penetrates into our eyes), we may be witnessing our own cosmic birth.

Until the appearance of life, there was only an exterior cosmos. But with the appearance of life, there was suddenly this new category, an interior. But in order for there to be an interior, there had to be an exterior with which to exchange matter, energy or information, and this can only take place through a wound.

This implies that there actually was no exterior to the cosmos prior to the emergence of life, being that exterior and interior co-arise. Therefore, there was just.... what? You figure it out.

UF notes that our senses are "wounds," and painful ones at that. Without them, the world cannot "penetrate" us, but sometimes the penetration can damage us. We feel, but as a result, we are aware of pleasure and pain. We see, but that gives rise to both beauty and ugliness.

It is through the wound that an otherwise closed system becomes an open one. In order to know the objective world, your mind must be "wounded" by it, by the "nails of objectivity." But to know God, your heart must be wounded, which is to say, a vertically open system.

When we wonder, we are exploring our psychic wound. When we think, we are trying to heal it. How did the wound get there? Animals don't have that particular wound.

And when we pray, we are exploring our spiritual wound. How did it get there? Why this wounded heart? Ouch!

I suppose so we can know we have one, so that it may be healed in love. God save the man without a broken heart.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Unthinking About the Absent God

How can free will exist if "all is One?" When we left off yesterday, we mentioned that in order for freedom to exist, there must be a zone in which the Creator is "absent," so to speak, from his own creation. In a way, this is no different than any other good enough parent. If you want to have psychologically healthy children, you obviously must provide them with a zone of personal autonomy. Not when they're infants, of course.

Well, no, that's not exactly right. Even with infants. The great psychoanalytic theorist D.W. Winnicott wrote about the mother's capacity to be alone-together with her baby, which is the greatest form of intimacy.

In other words, there is a balance between being too intrusive -- for example, of responding to the baby's needs before it even has a chance to be aware of them; or, on the other hand, neglecting its needs, so that the baby internalizes only hopelessness and despair -- as if the cosmos itself is hostile or indifferent to its needs and desires. There is a balance between allowing the baby to feel too much pain vs. not enough pain. Both can be developmentally catastrophic, for if you cannot suffer pain, you cannot suffer pleasure.

One of Winnicott's most widely known ideas -- and Winnicott was a deceptively simple but extremely subtle and profound thinker -- was that of the transitional object. This is an object the baby uses to symbolize the mother, as he makes the transition from symbiosis to separation and individuation.

I well remember my own transitional object -- a very special washcloth which I called my "nong." (I assume that's how it's spelled, but I never thought about it before. Probably derived from "gnawing," which is what I used to do with it). Last night my nong was a cold beer while riding the Love Train. Oh, mama! It's like being back in the womb, only this time with fabulous sound.

But I digress. And reveal too much information. The point is, the baby can't just suddenly go from being merged with mother to being separate from her. Rather, he must go through a transitional stage, in which he re-projects the internalized mother into the nong, I mean, transitional object, and gradually crosses the bridge to autonomous selfhood. Therefore, the transitional object is intrinsically ambiguous, in that it symbolizes both the mother's presence and absence. Also, it is simultaneously subject and object, another key point. So many people see the cosmos as either entirely dead (materialism) or else "too alive" (pantheism) when it is something in between.

Now, what does this have to do with the Creator? Not so fast! I don't yet have any idea. I'm still making the transition from merger with the Dreamer to the wideawake world of unambiguous separation and solidity -- from the Night Mother to the Daytime Father.

UF makes the extremely important point that "the existence of the universe is rendered possible by the act of contraction of God within himself. God made a 'place' for the world in abandoning a region inferior to himself."

This is the Kabbalistic idea of tsimtsum, or "the withdrawal of God in order to create freedom." It adds a vital dimension to the otherwise unthinkable idea of creatio ex nihilo. In other words, it helps us to think about the nothing with which the cosmos is made. For as every pneumanaut knows, the cosmos is a very real present absence; compared to the Absolute, it is nothing. And yet, it is. But how is it?

As follows: "in order to create the world ex nihilo, God had first to bring the void into existence. He had to withdraw within in order to create a mystical space, a space without his presence -- the void. And it is in thinking this thought that we assist in the birth of freedom" (MOTT).

This is why the Void is such a "pregnant mystery," so to speak. Our own subjectivity is aglow with the absent-presence of the divine Subject. The realm of the "mysterious" is not at all synonymous with "ignorance"; rather, it is a mode of knowing. More precisely, it is a mode of unKnowing, a paradoxical "unthought-known" that coincides with the Creator's absent-presence.

Nine out of ten great mystics agree that the unKnown God is "superior" to the known God. How could it not be so? It is foolish to imagine that we could ever contain the uncontainable within our borrowed being. It would be like taking out a loan from the bank in order to try to buy the bank. And we all know where that leads....

If you think the financial "credit bubble" is bad, just wait until the bill comes due on all the stuff secular society has borrowed from religion. There is a huge spiritual bubble at the foundation of materialism, scientism, secularism, and leftism, and I don't want to be around when it bursts.

You can well appreciate why classical liberalism is such a hard sell, being that freedom is an echo of the nothing that makes our very existence possible. In other words, a conservative, in order to be true to his principles, must promise nothing. He must swear to protect our God-given nothing from the enemies who would diminish it, and he must always endeavor to give the people more of the nothing they deserve.

In contrast, the leftist promises everything, but in so doing, usurps our precious nothing, until there's nothing left of it. The leftist give us something for nothing, which is a terrible bargain. The leftist state is like the bad mother who anticipates our needs before we can even feel them, so we become an enfeebled nobody instead of a robust nothing. From there, it is a mere step from being a full-blown EUnuch who can't even be bothered to reproduce. Soon there won't be enough children to feed all the hungry grown-ups, at which time the Muslims will eat them.

As UF further explains, the mystical space of nothing is not only the space of freedom, but of potential. Therefore, it is not an empty nothing, but a plenum that is filled with unborn preconceptions that will become future realizations once they are properly fertilized and conceived. Why does tiny Israel have more patents in a year than the entire Muslim world in a hundred (or whatever it is)? Because the Muslim world cannot tolerate the nothingness of freedom. Instead, its people are swaddled in an allah-too-present, "in your face" god who gives no slack. And yet, I am quite sure there are Sufi teachings compatible with the ideas we are discussing today.

The divine withdrawal and creatio ex nihilo are also related to the idea of kenosis (the self-emptying of God) and the crucifixion. In fact, you could also say that these ideas are linked to sacrifice, in that God must sacrifice, so to speak, a portion of himself, in order for you to exist. He must become "nothing" in order for you to become "something." It is better for you that I go away, because when I do, the Holy Spirit will come, just like a nong.

Obama may be my president, but he will never be my master, as much as he would like to be. For my Master rules by his intrinsic authority, which can only be freely recognized in his absence.

Unknown origin prior to time and space, fount of all being, unborn thus undying, beginning and end of all impossibility, empty plenum and inexhaustible void. Who is? I AM. A wake. A lone. Hallow, noumena! --The New Testavus for the Rest of Us

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Freedom, Authority, and the Absent-Presence of God (10.19.11)

All false religions -- and true religions falsely understood -- aspire to power rather than truth. The worship of power is, according to UF, the source of all idolatry. We see this current at play both in the new age movement, but also in traditional religious circles, whereby God's absolute omnipotence eclipses man's freedom, and therefore, real existence.

With regard to the former, you might say that the new agers do not ask what they can do for God, but what God can do for them. They basically co-opt religion for the purposes of exalting themselves and bolstering their own narcissism. As UF puts it, they want to "develop their own greatness without the rival grandeur of the Divine to discomfort them." This exercise is "fundamentally infantile," and atheists are certainly right to reject it. But this is probably the only kind of religion with which a Bill Maher is comfortable. I can't imagine him treating Deepak Chopra with the contempt he treats the simple believer.

Consider the titles of some of Chopra's books: The Book of Secrets: Unlocking the Hidden Dimensions of Your Life. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Pocketbook Guide to Fulfilling Your Dreams. The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire: Harnessing the Infinite Power of Coincidence. Creating Affluence: The A-to-Z Steps to a Richer Life. Perfect Weight. Perfect Health. The Seven Spiritual Laws for Parents: Guiding Your Children to Success and Fulfillment. The Way of the Wizard: Twenty Spiritual Lessons for Creating the Life You Want. Grow Younger, Live Longer.

This is all about the bad kind of gnosis, about some "secret" known only to the elect. Become a follower of Chopra and you will be blessed with financial success, spontaneous fulfillment of your every desire, perfect health, a long life, and even successful and fulfilled children! (As if you have the magical power to revoke a child's God-given free will, except perhaps by abusing them.)

In all of these books, you will notice that they have nothing to do with knowing God, but with being God. They prey on the rampant narcissism of our age, as if the answer to the pathology, dysfunction, and misery it creates is more of it. It doesn't just fly in the face of the Christian message, but of the central message of all legitimate spirituality, e.g., "If you want to become full / let yourself be empty / If you want to be given everything / give everything up" (Tao Te Ching).

It is no wonder that Chopra is also a prominent supporter of Obama. He takes quite literally the childish idea that Obama represents a "quantum leap" in consciousness. But if Chopra's kooky ideas are true, one wonders why we need politicians at all? In other words, if Deepak has sold me the magical secrets which will fulfill my every desire, why would I care about some silly politician?

Here again, we see how the irreligious person cannot help being religious. They can deny truth, but it simply returns in some twisted form. Why would Chopra, of all people, believe in the coercive ideology of leftism, which specifically maintains that people have no power to change their lives for the better without a huge and intrusive state? For Chopra, the state is the Father, Obama is the Son, and the IRS is the Holy Ghost. If he actually believed a word of his books, he would not only be a conservative, but a radical libertarian: just unleash the people and let magic take care of the rest!

Anyway. UF then goes on to a provocative analysis of the other extreme. "Fundamentalist" types won't like what he has to say, but it certainly resonates with me. I am not -- nor could I ever be -- one of those people who doesn't worry because "God is in charge," again, as if human free will isn't a terribly irrevocable gift. I believe human beings are free to screw up big time, and that no divine power will help us from falling into the abyss, if that is what we choose.

I am reminded of something a wise Supreme Court justice once said -- something to the effect that if the citizenry wishes to go to hell in a handbag, my job is to help them do so. In other words, this idea that the liberal elites of the Supreme Court are here to rescue the moronic populace through judicial tyranny is a postmodern innovation. The purpose of the Supreme Court is not to overturn our freedom just because one or two of our Robed Masters don't like what we did with it.

Same with God. I would think this would be something the Christian would intuitively understand. Again, UF makes the critical point that the Christian lives with "the paradox of almighty God reduced to a state of extreme powerlessness." This is said to be "the most perfect revelation of the God of love." It is quite radically different from the pagan or new age belief in a God who would leap down from the cross and, for a mere $1995.00, sell you the magical secrets of fulfilling your every desire at a weekend seminar in beautiful Sedona, Arizona!

It seems that many religious people, instead of adopting the Chopra-style narcissistic grandiosity, simply project it onto the deity. It's the same infantile process, only externalized. As UF writes, "their faith in God depends only on the power of God; if God was powerless, they would not believe in him. It is they who teach that God has created souls predestined to eternal damnation and others predestined to salvation; it is they who make God responsible for the entire history of the human race, including all its atrocities.... God is almighty, therefore all that happens is only able to happen through his action and his consent."

In short, "The idol of power has such a hold on some human minds that they prefer a God who is a mixture of good and evil, provided that he is powerful, to a God of love who governs only by intrinsic authority of the Divine -- by truth, beauty, and goodness -- i.e., they prefer a God who is actually almighty to the crucified God."

What is the point of asking for "thy will to be done" on earth as it is in heaven? This obviously implies that in the upper vertical, God's will is done "automatically," so to speak. But down here in the lower pneumatosphere, that is not necessarily the case. There are many vertical degrees of being -- and therefore relatively autonomous horizontal planes -- between the top and bottom. This is not heaven, to say the least.

Either human existence is real or illusory. If real, then so too is our freedom real. In fact, as UF writes, freedom "is none other than the real and complete existence of a being created by God." In other words, to be "free" and "real" are synonymous terms from the spiritual point of view. For if you are not free, then you are determined by something else -- even just an extension of some other entity that is real, whether genes or God, it doesn't matter.

But what is freedom? Freedom implies a kind of (relatively) absolute wholeness, or center, which is a mirror of the Creator. Therefore, to illegitimately constrain or eliminate freedom is to do away with God. Again, no wonder that the religiously irreligious zealots of the left are so profoundly opposed to freedom, and imagine that government can somehow create or "restore" it, when it can only respect or rescind it.

To be free is to exist. For the average leftist who feels "unfree," this is merely a projection of his own lack of psychic freedom. For the leftist, the state exists, and we become its extensions. Think of it. The average American already works for the state until what, mid-April? How will we be more free if Obama succeeds in moving it forward to mid-May?

To the extent that one's mind is inhabited by quasi-autonomous parasites, these intrinsically limit one's freedom. And there's not a thing Obama can do about it. No one else can deliver us from hell or send us to heaven: "Love existence, and you have chosen heaven; hate it, and there you have chosen hell." Likewise, "God is all-powerful in history in as much as there is faith; and he is crucified in so far as one turns away from him." And the Emperor, or legitimate ruler, reigns by intrinsic authority over free beings. Paradoxically, God is "absent" from this center of freedom, otherwise we would not really exist. More on which tomorrow.

When the Master governs, the people
are hardly aware that he exists....
If you don't trust the people, you make them untrustworthy.
The Master doesn't talk, he acts.
When his work is done,
the people say, "Amazing:
we did it, all by ourselves!"
--Tao Te Ching

Monday, October 20, 2008

Obama and the Emperor's New Empty Suit (10.17.11)

Slept too late. Speed post time. We're on to #4, The Emperor. This is a timely timeless archetype, what with the likely election of a president who embodies so many elements that are the precise opposite of what this arcanum symbolizes.

UF begins with the observation that "the less superficial a person is -- and the more he knows and is capable of -- the greater is his authority." Specifically, "to be something, to know something and to be capable of something is what endows a person with authority." Being, knowledge, and/or action. The more of these one has, the more intrinsic authority. And importantly, this won't be any kind of secular or conventional authority. Rather, the person will simply radiate the authority outward, from the center to the periphery.

In turn, each of these categories has a dimension of depth. One can know superficially or deeply. One can do something adequately or with great depth, like the artist. But the most interesting category is that of being, for that is the most mysterious of the three. One of the primary purposes of religion is to confer depth at the level of being.

The other day I was reading an article about Schuon by the Orthodox Christian scholar James Cutsinger, whose initial experience of Schuon's "intrinsic authority" was virtually identical to mine. No one had to tell me that this man was an authority. Rather, the depth of his authority was communicated directly, center to center:

"Nothing had prepared me for my first encounter with a book by Frithjof Schuon. I vividly recall reading the opening page, and then rereading it again, then a third time and a fourth time, before proceeding" (Cutsinger). Now interestingly, the depth is not a matter of "complexity" or sophistication. Indeed, those things are often just tricks of the tenured to make you believe they are deep when their ideas would be recognized as utterly banal if conveyed in plain English.

Cutsinger agrees that "the words themselves were certainly not difficult, nor the style at all complex. Indeed, compared to many a modern philosopher's work, Schuon's books are noted for their simple, and often poetic, beauty. And yet for some reason I found myself unable to move with the speed I was accustomed to."

Precisely. Part of it involves the question of rhythm, in particular, the rhythm of eternity. I noticed this the other evening, when I was watching a baseball game. For most people who cannot appreciate baseball, it is often because they cannot attune themselves to its rhythm and its depth (which only becomes more difficult as the jagged rhythms of the culture around us "speed up"). Unlike most other sports, you have to imagine waves of greater length and deeper troughs.

Anyway, during a commercial, I switched over to the hockey game (hockey season has just begun), and it was a totally jarring experience compared to the leisurely rhythm of baseball. Instead, the rhythm was frantic and chaotic.

Now, after baseball season ends, I'll get back to hockey, because once you get used to its rhythm, it starts to slow down and become more decipherable. But I realized that one should "respect the seasons," so to speak, and not blend them, otherwise you'll miss some subtle elements. You cannot treat baseball like hockey or basketball, or you'll miss all of the deeper rhythms that slowly unfold from April to October.

It also reminds me of Keith Jarrett, who talks about how much internal preparation it takes for him to move between jazz and classical. I believe I read somewhere that it takes him about six months to make the transition, and I can well understand why. (cf. Will's comment on yesterday's post about the potentially dangerous and even deadly rhythms of jazz.)

I can also see it in my own life. My job has become much more difficult for me since I started the blogging. You can well imagine why. I greet each day by doing my best to resonate with the rhythms of eternity and bring down a little nugget of joy. But then I have to turn my attention to some loser who's trying to scam an insurance company, and write a 30 page report. I feel like a rabbi who studies the Torah one day and works at the kosher meat packing plant the next.

There is another corollary at work here, for just as only depth can recognize depth, only depth can recognize shallowness and superficiality. This is clearly why so many shallow people seem to think that Obama is deep, or nuanced, or even beyond that -- that he truly represents some sort of messianic or "transformational" figure. I feel as if his entire mind could safely fit into a little corner of mine. And I'm not bragging. I would assume that all Raccoons feel the same way.

(By the way -- and this would be a good topic for a post -- none of the shallow sophisticates -- both liberal and conservative alike -- understand that Sarah Palin's greatest effect is at the level of being (similar to Ronald Reagan). This reality is so much deeper than a Peggy Noonan or David Brooks column that to compare the two would be silly. When we hear about this liberal-approved elite "conservative intelligentsia" before whom we are supposed to show great deference, it is mostly a cult of entirely conventional mediocrities. In my world, there is a group of intellectuals that far surpasses these liberal-approved conservatives, precisely because they have evolved beyond the head and into the higher mind, or mind of light. Dennis Prager comes to mind. Mark Steyn. Roger Kimball. Victor Davis Hanson. They have no problem with Sarah Palin, and they run circles around a tiresome hack like Peggy Noonan.)

Oh yes, just to finish up with Cutsinger's observations about reading Schuon. He writes that it was as if he were running along the beach, and then suddenly found himself in the ocean. Very mysterious. In other words, he was merrily scampering on the surface of one medium, but then, to his surprise, found himself in a different medium. Let's just call it "being" for short, but being is not monolithic, and has "many mansions," such as the sacred, the holy, etc. As Cutsinger notes,

"Here was a new medium, no less able to support my movement, but requiring an altogether different engagement. There would be no more running now. I would have to swim."

And here is the irony: you will notice that our scientistic jester never stops trying to walk on water. Ho!

At the same time, he can't help thinking that we are trying to swim on dry land. Guffah-ha!

Back to the Emperor. Among other things, the Emperor is the symbol of divine authority on earth. He is not a replacement of divine authority, but its horizontal prolongation. And along these lines, perhaps the most important point is that, as UF writes, "God governs the world by authority, and not by force. If this were not so, there would be neither freedom nor law in the world."

This automatically excludes Obama from being a legitimate ruler, in that the left is all about governing by force. He will not "lure" you toward the good by his intrinsic authority, but compel you to "share" and "spread around" the fruits of your labor with his purely earthly power. And that's all it is. His profound lack of understanding of Christian doctrine is too well documented to discuss here.

God does not "compel" acceptance of his authority, or we would not be free. Thus, the typical atheist who asks for miracles in order for God to "prove" his existence is really asking for God to remove his freedom. But that is something he will never do. Rather, only humans can do that to themselves and to each other. UF elaborates:

"One is free to be believing or unbelieving. Nothing and no one can compel us to have faith -- no scientific discovery, no logical argument, no physical torture can force us to believe, i.e., to freely recognize and accept the authority of God."

The atheist says to Jesus: "Come down from that cross, then I might believe in your power!" But power is not truth. Rather, truth is power. And the truth is, Truth is crucified in history, and yet, survives. And that is a powerful miracle.

To be continued....

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Why Are People Such Assouls?

Probably easier to just write a new post than dig through the arkive for the Saturday re-run.

Ever wonder why human beings -- I mean mankind at large, not this or that individual -- are such assholes?

That's an important question, isn't it? As the cliché goes, the leftist/radical/revolutionary loves mankind. It's people he hates. You know, Joe the Plumber. Sarah the Hockey Mom. Bob the Suburban Mystic.

For the Raccoon -- and any properly religious person -- it's more or less the opposite. He doesn't hate mankind. But he doesn't hold it in much esteem. At best, it is a neutral stance, in that for every great achievement of mankind, there are two or three abominations. For every peak, there is an equal and opposite valley. Charles Murray discusses this point in Human Accomplishment:

"What, I ask, can Homo sapiens brag about -- not as individuals, but as a species?... Military accomplishment is out -- putting 'Defeated Hitler' on the human resume is too much like putting 'Beat my drug habit' on a personal one. I also omit governance and commerce.... those achievements are akin to paying the rent and putting food on the table..."

Amazingly, the left believes that it can turn this situation around by merely increasing the size of government and the amount of rent they will charge us for it. They love to make fun of religious people, but can you imagine a more naive belief system?

The problem is not just that man is fallen, but that if he fails to realize this, he will not recognize the very medium in which he swims. Furthermore, he will mistake movement and agitation for real change, when it is merely disintegration and descent.

Everyone can see that there is a kind of "natural balance" in the biosphere. Or at least there was until the humans moved in and wrecked the neighborhood. People who imagine that only modern humans have done this are strictly fooling themselves. In fact, this is the take-away point of Genesis, isn't it? That the moment Man opens his eyes to dualism and self-awareness, trouble begins. Truly, there were no problem in the cosmos prior to that moment.

You could even delve more deeply into this problem and reduce it to its most basic element. This is what Bion did. He noted that the universal problem facing mankind -- both collectively and individually -- is thoughts and what to do about them. The obvious answer is to think them, but we all know how rare that is.

Or perhaps you don't. But virtually every psychotherapy patient is suffering from this problem if they are lucky. In other words, they are persecuted by depressed thoughts, anxious thoughts, thoughts of inadequacy or low self esteem, envious thoughts, obsessive thoughts, etc. Wealth doesn't matter. If anything, it only serves to underscore their misery, in that they realize better than anyone that no amount of money can eliminate the mind parasites that make one's head uninhabitable.

But most people don't even bother to think those thoughts. Instead, they enact things before they have a chance to become thoughts. Or they evoke them in others and make them miserable. Or they embody the thoughts in the form of pain or dysfunction. Or often they just deaden the source of the thoughts, either through drugs or alcohol, or sometimes just systematic neglect. Most people have never had an original thought in their lives.

So, man is clearly a kind of "new category" in the cosmos. There was no good in the cosmos prior to his arrival. But nor was there any evil. UF writes that man may "go beyond the limits of the law and engender arbitrarily malicious forces whose nature and action are beyond the framework of the law," for example, "the Molochs and other 'gods' of Canaa, Phoenecia, Carthage, ancient Mexico and other lands, which exacted human sacrifice."

Yes, these beings are the product of thought + imagination, except that they are for the purpose of destroying thought and imagination. That such cultures cannot evolve should go without saying, any more than the bloodthirsty Palestinians can evolve. The trouble with Palestinians is that they cannot ask the simple question: why am I persecuted by all these hateful demons? Instead of thinking the thoughts, they violently project them from the psyche, and then murder them. It seems to be the Muslim way.

How much better off they would be if they had a culture that recognized man's fallen nature! Such a culture will not externalize blame or adopt the role of victim. Rather, such a culture will collectively ask, "what did I do wrong, and what can I do to fix it?" You will note that the culture of the secular left has much more in common with the Palestinians, in that it never occurs to them that people are largely responsible for their own problems. Indeed, this is one of the purposes of a culture of liberty: to allow people to fuck up on their own. What a blessing! It has never occurred to me that I am a victim of circumstance. Rather, if I look a little deeper, I can always find something I could have done differently. Or not. Sometimes the problem is just me. Being me simply has a price. It would have been easy to be someone else.

Individuality is freedom lived. Or, to turn it around, freedom in the abstract is meaningless. So too is merely "embodied" freedom. Rather, what we are after is mental and spiritual freedom. These are the freedoms that the left resists. They do not want you to actually be an individual. Rather, you are a member of a group, i.e., black, hispanic, female, homosexual, transgendered, etc. But as UF points out, mystical revelation restores the freedom that has been partially or totally lost, in particular, the freedom to be oneself, which again, is the only real, concrete freedom. The left offers only counterfeit freedom -- for example the "freedom" to choose an abortion, even while they compel the premature sexualization of the innocent. Or a compulsory "fairness doctrine" that eliminates free speech.

Only the awakening of free will can deliver one "from possession by fixed ideas and psychopathological complexes." As Freud put it, "where id was, there ego shall be" (the real meaning of which is where it was, there I shall be). This is just another way of saying that, just as we have been attempting to colonize an enslaved world with liberal principles over the past 250 years, so too must we colonize the individual mind with those same principles. It serves no purpose to free a culture for socialism, as it is a contradiction in terms. It is like freeing an individual to become a slave.

Real lived freedom is a kind of every day sacred magic inserted from on high into the cosmos. For it is an analogue of the Creator's vertical generation of the cosmos itself.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Magic: Divine, Human, and Satanic (10.11.11)

We're just wrapping up with the Priestess before moving on to arcanum #3, the Empress. UF concludes the chapter by noting that scientistic materialism can only be "true" if we exclude all of the other planes that make the horizontal plane of natural facts possible, and isolate the realm of quantitative facts from the rest of reality.

At the polar opposite of this is the Hermetic-philosophical sense, or the "sense of synthesis," which is capable of a vision of the whole: "The scientific sense... summarizes the facts of experience on a single plane, in the horizontal. Hermeticism is not a science and will never be one. It can certainly make use of sciences and their results, but by doing so it does not become a science."

Or, one could say that profane science is the study of the relative, which is change itself. But Hermeticism is essentially the science of the changeless, which is to say, metaphysics. Metaphysics is the science of the permanent, of those things that cannot not be, for example, the Absolute, and by extension, the Infinite. Or, of Beyond-Being, and its child, Being.

Again, science can verify truth on a single plane, while the gnostic sense investigates the depth of said truth. Thus, any philosophy of naturalism can only be absolutely true to the extent that one fails to ponder its depth and significance. The moment you engage in the latter, you have disproved it, for you have revealed a vertical depth of truth and being for which naturalism can never account. You have left materialism behind. For to listen in expectant silence in the vertical space is to be "instructed by God." Coongratulations. It's your psychic bar mitzvah! So say goodbye to your spiritual childhood and leave mater behind.

Now, on to the Empress. As a brief aside, I think one of the reasons this book didn't resonate with me at first, is that it starts out a bit slow, at least relative to what follows. My recollection is that the book really starts to catch fire after card four or five, but we shall see. This chapter in particular had some bland spots for me.

UF points out that the Empress symbolizes the realm of sacred or divine magic, which is embodied in the formula that the subtle rules the dense, and all it implies. I suppose that when I first read the book, I was slightly put off by this whole idea of "magic," being that it's such a loaded word. But UF has a very specific meaning in mind. First, he notes that the only legitimate magic is that which is "authorized from above." And the only legitimate aim of magic is liberation in order to ascend. And the only legitimate formula is the combination of the two wills: divine and human.

Thus, real magic results from our alignment with the divine will in order to ascend toward greater freedom. A new power is born through the unity of divine and human wills. Elsewhere he quotes Peladin, who spoke of the application of the strengthened human will to accelerate the evolution of the living forces of Nature. This is accomplished through the science of love.

And remember from the previous card, that love is the essence of unity, or the free unification of twoness in oneness, even while preserving the twoness. "Sacred magic is the power of love, born of the union in love of divine will and human will." Freedom, love, magic, will, ascent, evolution, multiplicity, oneness... all of these things are interrelated in surprising ways. "This is the aim of sacred magic; it is nothing other than to give the freedom to see, hear, to walk, to live, to follow an ideal and to be truly oneself -- i.e., to give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, the ability to walk to the lame, life to the dead, good news or ideals to the poor, and free will to those who are possessed by evil spirits."

I won't bore you with some of the letters Bob receives testifying to the reality of this magic. People who couldn't "see" God now can; or people who couldn't hear, now do; or people who couldn't walk the walk, now dance the sacred coondance. But not one of these people attributes it to Bob. Well, maybe one person, but he was rather scary. The point is, they all "get it" -- that the magic results from aligning oneself (↑) with (↓), not by being a clone of Bob, God forbid, or I'll have to contact the authorities.

I usually have to reframe these ideas in terms of my own experience and understanding in order to appreciate where UF is coming from. I'm sure he wouldn't mind, for that is again how one moves down the spectrum from spiritual touch, to hearing, to synthesis and comprehension, then to projection and vision. No one else can give you the comprehension. It has to be your own, so it will naturally be inflected through the particulars of your own personality. Even Jesus -- who was a mode of the universal -- was nevertheless a human personality. True, he was "everyone," but he was nevertheless someone. This is what distinguishes him from merely mythological figures that are purely archetypal and therefore conventional.

UF then goes into a very important passage on what gets in the way, which is none other than the mind parasites of which Bob speaks in his book. If the object of sacred magic is liberation in order to ascend, then anything that intrudes upon or prevents that process is more or less parasitic.

Well no, that's not quite correct. In fact, it's not correct at all. Earth is not to be confused with heaven. We are not meant to live non-friction lives, for it is precisely the obstacles that present the opportunity for growth and transcendence. But there are "legitimate" obstacles, tests and trials that work within the Cosmic Law, and illegitimate ones that may look satanic, but are actually mostly human. Or, you might say that they are a kind of black magic which results from the alignment of the human will with the forces of darkness. Does this really happen? Please. Grow up. You've already had your psychic bar mitzvah. Now start acting like it, schmendrick.

UF makes the critical point that the Adversary never deprives anyone of his freedom. That is not his style, but more importantly, it is not his role. He's not some sort of street thug or community organizer. No: "Temptation is [his] only weapon and this presupposes the freedom of he who is tempted."

But one can obviously squander one's freedom, to the point that one is essentially "possessed" by the demon that one has co-created with the Adversary. As UF describes it, "One engenders an elemental being and one subsequently becomes the slave of one's own creation." And here is the money quote, as it coonfirms Bob's ideas about demonic mind parasites, which

"have been discovered by contemporary psychiatrists and are recognized as real -- i.e., as 'parasitic psychic organisms' independent of the conscious human will and tending to subjugate it." As such, "One need not fear the devil, but rather the perverse tendencies in oneself! For those perverse human tendencies can deprive us of our freedom and enslave us. Worse still, they can avail themselves of our imagination and inventive faculties and lead us to creations which can become the scourge of mankind."

Let's pause here for a little red meat for the base. Liberalism is obviously about freedom. But the founders always understood this in the manner outlined above, as spiritual freedom, i.e., the freedom to ascend. For example, in the words of John Adams,

“Children should be educated and instructed in the principles of freedom.... We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.... We should be unfaithful to ourselves if we should ever lose sight of the danger to our liberties if anything partial or extraneous should infect the purity of our free, fair, virtuous, and independent elections.”

The Democrat party has long since abandoned the classical liberalism of America's founders for a leftism that is not just its political opposite, but its very negation. It is a collusion of man and his own lower forces in order to create hell on earth. Instead of a vertical freedom conferred by God and respected by the state, it promulgates a horizontal freedom granted by the state. But the state can create nothing. Just as it cannot create wealth but only take it away by force, it cannot grant real freedom, since that freedom is a priori and intrinsically spiritual. And by attacking and undermining religion itself, it results in the creation of a new kind of man-beast hybrid whose freedom is for his own sake. It is not even horizontal freedom, but merely the freedom to fall further into his own warped imagination, i.e., the Rule of the Mind Parasites.

Virtually all freedom-loving Americans have a sense of deep foreboding about what may come with the Rule of the Mind Parasites. But this is nothing new. UF quotes a passage by St. Paul, who spoke of how the entire Creation had been "groaning in travail," awaiting its hour of liberation, when it "will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God."

Isn't this inversion amazing, that the "irreligious" secular left -- precisely because they are irreligious -- are laboring under the fantasy that the world has been groaning in travail while awaiting the hour of... Obama? -- a shape-shifting cipher and compulsively lyin' Hawaiian who represents the quintessence of soothing hypnosis and oily seduction, the favorite methods of the Adversary? For he is the inverted image of the Empress.

To be continued....

*****

This post at Belmont Club has some implicit connections to mine. You figure them out:

"'It was a bold man who first et an oyster,' a wag once wrote. But many a timid man followed the bold. Once the first pedophile discovered holidays in Thailand or a perverted clergyman spread the word that children trusted men of the cloth it was only a matter of time before a kind of bubble blew up which created a whole new category of tourist industry and very nearly collapsed institutions which had lasted for millenia. When radical Islamists discovered that Western civilization made cars, airplanes, the Internet and biological science available to the common man it wasn’t long before mass terror attacks using these implements were under way. One day evil people make a business process or technological breakthrough and for a time, they have a boom which to us looks like a catastrophe. Imagine the excitement with which real scammers must have regarded Fan and Fred, or the derivative market, as you prefer. Seek and you shall find.

"It’s interesting to speculate about what bad guys may be looking for next. An amusing story is told about Kurt Godel, one of the greatest mathematicians of the 20th century. It seems that Godel applied for US citizenship and proceeded to his examination in company with Albert Einstein and Oskar Morgenstern when it occurred to him to tell the judge about a logical loophole he had discovered in the US Constitution through which America could be turned into a tyranny.

"Einstein and Morgenstern coached Gödel for his U.S. citizenship exam, concerned that their friend’s unpredictable behavior might jeopardize his chances. When the Nazi regime was briefly mentioned, Gödel informed the presiding judge that he had discovered a way in which a dictatorship could be legally installed in the United States, through a logical contradiction in the U.S. Constitution. Neither the judge, nor Einstein or Morgenstern allowed Gödel to finish his line of thought and he was awarded citizenship.

"It’s amusing until one realizes how often we discover, at intervals of 50 or so years, how a cohort of people more or less simultaneously learn to game a system until it crashes. I really do wish the judge had let Godel finish, though the 5% of men in the world would have been listening to his words more intently than all the rest."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Religion: It's Alive!!! (10.11.11)

Look, I know I'm not as "eloquent" as Gagdad. Or as coherent. Or linear. But all that stuff's overrated. Like I mentioned the other day, I'm like evolution herself, which is much more like a disorderly bush than a flowing river. In other words, everything just sort of cascades out of a central explosion, whether of life, matter, or spirit. The explosive center is everywhere.

We left off yesterday talking about that book in the Priestess's lap, which represents the descent of spirit, from the spiritual touch of mysticism down to the Hermetic-philosophical sense, which results in "writing one's book," so to speak. Two things come to mind. First of all, the vast majority of books are not even worthless. So why do people write them? As Bob mentioned in OCUG, there are already far too many books in the world, so if you're going to throw another one on the pile, you'd better have a damn good excuse. But mainly, it will come down to 1) money, and 2) narcissism. Being that #1 is a pipe dream for 90% of authors, we are left with #2 as the principle cause of the ever growing tide of drivel.

It is appalling that so many religious books in particular are void of content, at least as far as I am concerned. As Bob would say, they are all (k) and no (n). But unlike science, where it is perfectly appropriate to communicate in terms of (k), religious (k) that is not backed by the full faith and credit of (n) is ultimately worthless and even harmful, as it leaves the impression that religion is essentially void of vertical content -- which is the very content of religion.

This is what UF is referring to on p. 43, where he writes that "Gnosis without mystical experience is sterility itself. It is just a religious ghost, without life or movement. It is the corpse of religion, animated intellectually by means of scraps fallen from the table of the past history of humanity." So much contemporary religion is characterized by this problem, that it's easy to see why people reject it. It's not that they want to be irreligious. It just doesn't speak to them, because it is dead.

But by the same token, people can be put off by living religion, because its practitioners will appear more or less insane to the uninitiated. Most liberals for example, have no problem with religion, so long as you don't actually believe it. None of them think Obama actually believes that crap, or they'd never vote for him. They are banking on his insincerity and cynicism. But Bob is genuinely unsane. He's not faking it.

I don't mean to keep using the same metaphor, but it really is analogous to modern jazz, which to me is the quintessence of real music making, but which few people want to actually listen to. For one thing, it requires qualifications in order to do so. It's not like musical wallpaper. It's alive, meaning that it is spontaneous, unpredictable, harmonically challenging, and intrinsically adventurous, even while staying within certain bounds.

Here again, listen to what UF says: a mysticism that does not give birth to gnosis "must, sooner or later, necessarily degenerate into 'spiritual enjoyment' or 'intoxication.' The mystic who wants only the experience of mystical states without understanding them, without drawing practical conclusions from them for life, and without wanting to be useful to others, who forgets everyone and everything in order to enjoy the mystical experience, can be compared to a spiritual drunkard."

So many spiritual drunkards! This pretty much summarizes the New Age movement, which is utterly devoid of sobriety. Again, I hate to keep bringing up the man, but have you read Deepak Chopra's deranged blog entries at huffingandpissed? He truly writes as if he is brain damaged. Just incoherent ranting. Suffice it to say that this is a grave offense against the Holy Spirit. One cannot make God look foolish with impunity. Who knows, perhaps his writing is already evidence of the punishment. I can't even imagine how painful it would be to have to be him.

Now, speaking of the bush vs. the river. UF makes a critically important point. We know it's important, because like all important points, it will utterly elude our scientistic jester. The point is this: true coontemplation picks up where discursive reason leaves off. You will note that we get the occasional moron who accuses Bob of being "anti-science." He's hardly anti-science. It's just that what represents the "end" for the tenured, is precisely the starting point for the Raccoon. For as UF writes,

"Discursive thought is satisfied when it arrives at a well-founded conclusion. Now, this conclusion is the point of departure for contemplation. It fathoms the profundity of this conclusion at which discursive thought arrives."

Obviously, this contemplation of depth can never be accounted for by the thing being contemplated, whatever it is. Contemplation is always at a "right angle" to material existence. Truly, it is the miraculous vertical rabbit hole that leads all the way up -- or down depending on the case. But the point is, "contemplation discovers a world within that which discursive thought simply verifies as 'true.'" Say it again: no, don't bother. I think you get the point.

Please note that what UF is saying does not only apply to the world of scientific truth, but to religious truth as well. Again, there are spiritual books that are deep, and many more that are shallow. Both disclose "truth," but what a difference! It's like a great artist and a Sunday painter drawing the same landscape. Who knows, the latter might even be more technically "accurate," so what explains the depth of the former? Here again, it is that sense of mystical touch, which the gifted artist is then able to convey on canvas, which is his "Hermetic" book.

There is something much deeper than the simple binary question, "is it true or false?" Think of a great film. Was it true or false? Did the events really happen as described?

What foolish questions! As UF writes, contemplation "perceives more the significance of the truth discovered by discursive thought," and then tries to trace this depth back to its ultimate source. How does one do this? "By listening in silence. It is as if one wanted to recall something forgotten."

You might say that the Divine is analogous to the "tip of the tongue" phenomenon, in which you know it's there, but have to relax into it -- perhaps even forget in order to remember. Or, perhaps it's like the distant stars which disappear when you stare directly at them, but reappear in your peripheral vision. There is an infinite amount of light that will elude you if you attempt to stare it down with scientism!

No, this is the realm of vertical recollection, or what Plato called anamnesis. As UF points out, horizontal memory renders the past present, while vertical memory "renders that which is above as present below." This is perhaps the key to understanding scripture, which, if reduced to mere horizontality, becomes functionally useless. No, that's an exaggeration. The point is, it will still operate vertically, even if you imagine that it is horizontal. It can still work its magic, but if you insist too much on the horizontality, it can diminish the verticality.

As the mystical sense is analogous to spiritual touch, the gnostic sense is analogous to hearing. Obviously, it is this that Jesus is attempting to highlight when he speaks of having ears but being unable to hear, for true hearing takes place on the level of vertical depth. Do you hear what I'm saying? Good. This kind of deep hearing can only take place in an environment of expectant silence or passive openness, i.e., (---) and (o).

You will notice that we listen to a great artist in a different way than we do to the typical hack. One of the reasons for this is that the true artist has earned our respect, as we know from experience that there will be an added dimension of depth to his work if we only give it time. Conversely, one could listen to a mediocre "artist" (a contradiction in terms) forever, and discover no hidden depths.

Back to the jazz analogy for a moment. I first became attracted to it by reading some of the famous critics, who wrote about its incredible depths, and I said to myself, "this is for me!" But in some cases, it took years of "expectant silence" to finally understand what was going on. The analogy with religion is exact.

In fact, I see that UF next goes into a little riff on the nature of art, which he compares to the magical sense of projection: "The talent of the artist consists in this: that he can render objective -- or project -- his ideas and feelings so as to obtain a more profound effect on others than that of the expression of ideas and feelings by a person who is not an artist. A work of art is endowed with a life of its own," very similar to the process of birth itself.

Religion is either a living and breathing reality, or it is dead, just like any other philosophy.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mind and Mater (10.10.11)

Continuing with the High Priestess card. Interesting that the French name, as you can see, is La Papesse, or "The Popess." Interesting because Schuon often refers to the pontiff as the archetype of Man as Such, i.e., "Pontifical Man," the latter being the "vertical being," or microcosm, who bisects all the planes of existence and who contains all potential within himself. The Latin pontifex connotes "builder of bridges," and Man is indeed the ultimate bridge builder, only it is a vertical bridge (or sometimes ladder) between manifestation and principle; or the many and the One; or Heaven and Earth; or the upper waters and the lower waters.

As Rooth notes, the bridge is both conveyance and barrier: "Heaven and Earth were united in the beginning before they were separated by the event of manifestation.... So the bridge represents both the way across as well as the fact of their separation, and in this respect it is equivalent to the axial pillar which both connects and keeps separate." The vertical bridge back to God is the residue, or mysty coontrail, of the Creator's involution into spacetime.

I am intrigued by this implicit idea of "female pope." What could it possibly mean when we combine -- or play with -- the archetypes of pontifex and female? To put it another way, what does female connote in its vertical aspect? I ask this because female is usually associated with all of the words and concepts derived from mother or mater, including matter, meter, mara, maya, mattress, measure. There is the Father Principle, or "pure form," which "fertilizes" pure materiality in order to bring about the manifestation (e.g., the play of purusha and prakriti, or Shiva and Shakti).

Genesis treats this subject in mythological terms, as the woman represents the descending tendency who is seduced by the snake, the ultimate principle of earthbound horizontality. Conversely, Mary is the shadow of Eve (or rather, vice versa), in that she gives birth to the ultimate pontifex, or to the principle within the manifestation. Thus, Mary-Matter-Maya is "pregnant with God," not just 2000 years ago, but for all time. We don't have time to go into Eckhart's many fruitful ideas about the feminine aspect of divinity, e.g., that God perpetually lays on a maternity bed giving birth. Creativity -- which is often seen as a more masculine activity -- is actually far more feminine, both because of the birth motif, but also because true creativity is fertilized "from above."

It can also be fertilized from below. But enough about popular culture and the fallen bastard children of Eve.

UF goes into a lovely little soliloquy on the "gift of tears" which are a sort of fluid membrane between the above and below, a certificate of authenticity of most any encounter with the God of Love. In contrast to the "dry" experience of depersonalized oneness, UF writes that the soul who experiences the miracle of divine love is moved to tears. Only humans cry tears of joy (although our jester will no doubt provide a link to prove to himself otherwise; but this will be a horizontal link, when the only way to actually prove the point is to have the personal experience of the vertical link, i.e., to shed these real tears of joy and/or repentance).

Now, man is in the image of the Creator. The most quintessentially human "faculty" is the intellect, or nous, which actually shares in a part of the "uncreatable" substance of God. Again, it is a purely passive, or "female" principle, as it is a reflection of the light of the Father. This is none other than Sophia, or wisdom herself: "Pure intellect is that which reflects; love is that which acts." (Interestingly, this implies that the solar principle is located in the heart, the lunar principle in the mind; more on which later. But you can well understand why so many so-called "intellectuals" become so pathologically feminized, as they are detached from the solar principle above as well as its manifestation below in the heart, or higher mind.)

UF notes that "the intellect is the feminine side of the soul, whilst the fertilizing imagination is the masculine principle. The intellect that is not fertilized by the imagination guided by the heart is sterile." Here again, we can see why I keep our scientistic jester on the playroll, as he teaches us so much. One thing he teaches us about is the purely feminized mind, which is "all maya," or all quantity. Why would any of us want to return to that cold and dry crone-world?

Back to the Priestess. I won't get into all of the details of UF's reasoning, as I would prefer to focus on the principles. And the main principle embodied in the Priestess is the descent of the word through the stages of reflection, memory, word, and writing. For example, think of the descent of revelation, only the last stage of which is "The Book." In other words, religion begins in the world of principles, or at the center, and moves out to the periphery.

Science, on the other hand, begins with facts -- "the book of nature" -- and attempts to reason from the periphery to the center (which is strictly impossible, as the very conduct of science presupposes the human center). Put another way, the "last stage" of God's involution is the material world, whereas the latter is the starting point of science.

Mysticism is the science of "spiritual touch," and it must be at the heart of all religion. As UF writes, spiritual touch -- or intuition -- "is that which permits contact between our consciousness and the world of pure mystical experience. It is by virtue of this that there exists in the world and in the history of mankind a real relationship between the living soul and the living God -- which is true religion." It is only because of this faculty of spiritual touch -- which is obviously a subtle sense that needs to be nurtured and developed -- that God is something "more than an abstract notion."

But after mystical touch comes gnosis, or the spirit of understanding; and after gnosis, the magical sense, or the ability to put knowledge into action (or non-action, to be precise); and after magic comes the book, MOTT being as fine an example of the latter as one could imagine. As UF writes, if the God-knower "wants all that he has experienced, understood and practiced to be not limited to himself and his time, but to be communicable to others and transmitted to future generations, he must develop the Hermetic-philosophical sense, and in practicing it he will 'write his book.'"

And how eternally grateful we are that so many of these illustrious pneumanauts left their living books for us! For it is only through the very organicity of the living book that the totality of tradition may be "held together," from the top to the bottom, from the center to the periphery, from the vertical to the horizontal. To not have this experience of the living whole is to be possessed by a demon, whether it is the demon of Marxism, or of metaphysical Darwinism, or of materialism, or of scientism. Each of these results in the soul being possessed and ensnared:

"Yes, autonomous philosophical systems separated from the living body of tradition are parasitic structures, which seize the thought, feeling and finally the will of human beings. In fact, they play a role comparable to the psycho-pathological complexes of neurosis or other psychic maladies of obsession. Their physical analogy is cancer."

Ain't it the truth. The only cure is kenotherapy.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Lovely Yoke at the Center of the Cosmic Egg (10.10.11)

Next up: Letter II, the High Priestess. But before moving on to her, is there anything else I'd like to say about the Magician?

Yes, a couple of points. UF makes the critically important point that, with regard to the spiritual world under investigation, everything hinges on the depth of experience. This is not analogous to scientific knowledge, which has no "depth" per se, and may be passed from mind to mind like any other object. The dominance of this latter modality is precisely what leads naive minds to conclude that the world is fundamentally "like an object," which of course is nonsense. If that were true, it could never be known.

We'll leave to one side for the moment Polanyi's argument that the scientific enterprise is actually much closer to spiritual epistemology -- and vice versa -- than scientists realize. The point is, the arcana of which UF writes are like preconceptions, or "empty categories," which must be filled in by experience in order to become genuine knowledge. As he writes, "all superficial, incomplete or false experience is bound to give rise to superficial, incomplete and false conclusions." Therefore, the "effectiveness and value depend on the fullness and exactitude of the experience upon which it is based."

For you callous sophisticates out there who imagine there is something stupid about religion, always consider the source, as there will always be an abundance of stupid people, especially as more of them are spiritually maimed by the privilege of a higher education. This is axiomatic. It is not like your scientific religion, which any idiot can understand. Are there dangers in this approach? Well, duh. Life is dangerous. Qualifications count in any knowledge that is embodied and not just theoretical. I am not impressed if my brain surgeon has merely been to medical school. I want to know if he has assimilated the knowledge and successfully put it into action. I don't want him merely to "know stuff." I want him to physically be the knowledge, to incarnate it in action.

Here again, there is something paradoxically analogous to being childlike, something I especially notice now with my 3.5 year old, who loves his work, which is to play. You can see that he's always hard at work, except that it is in the mode of play. As UF writes, "The little child does not 'work' -- he plays. But how serious he is, i.e., concentrated, when he plays! His attention is still, complete and undivided, whereas with one who approaches the kingdom of God it becomes again entire and undivided.... The Master did not want us to become puerile; what he wanted is that we attain the geniality of intelligence and heart which is analogous -- not identical -- to the attitude of the child...."

It is in this mode of relaxed work-play that we may regain the unity of consciousness, or the union of conscious and unconscious minds; or, if you like, left and right brain, or heart and mind. The Magician embodies the higher synthesis "of the conscious and unconscious -- of creative spontaneity and deliberately executed activity." Here again, these verticalisthenics require serious play, which is why it would be a serious error, or a very unfunny joke, to dismiss Bob as a genial metaphysical entertainer merely because he clothes his bobservations in jehovial witticisms, pithylogical gnosissism, laughty revelations, and the like.

Bob looks at it this way: "Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." Children -- well, my child, anyway -- are always laughing. Humor and human are of the same essence. Therefore, the journey to hyperborea calls for some seriously deep yucks. In turn, one can see how the empyrean is unreachable for a comedian such as Bill Maher, who is only capable of humor so low, cheap, and broad, that even Larry King gets it.

Now, on to the High Priestess. Here again we have a somewhat chaorderly chapter that I will do my best to summarize.

There is a reason the Priestess follows the Magician, and this has to do with the distinction between the pure light of knowledge -- which is analogous to the sun -- and its reflection in the book -- which is analogous to the moon (the moon is always female). (Note the book on her lap.)

UF then veers into an important aside; here again, his constant asides can be disorienting, but speaking as Bob's Unconscious, I am completely sympathetic. The Unconscious is not "linear"; but this is hardly to say that it is not logical. Rather, it simply follows its own logic. You might call it "night logic," or the logic of the Dream. This logic is rich, holographic, fractal, non-linear, and pregnant with implications. Rather than A leading to B leading to C, it's more like....

Well, frankly, unconscious logic is also intrinsically imagistic, and the image that comes to mind is a lung, an upside down tree, or a burning bush that is never consumed by the Fire. Think of how oxygen enters through a single passage, but then fractally branches off into innumerable byways, until it literally touches the blood. That is how religious in-spiration works as well. It is how one touches the divine -- or rather, vice versa.

Anyway, UF goes into the difference between Christian yoga and yoga-yoga, in that the former aspires to a unity of two rather then the dissolution of twoness into an acosmic and impersonal Oneness. (And don't be put off by the word "yoga," as it simply means the same thing as "religion"; both have to do with "yoking" or "binding" (from the Latin religare, "to bind"). Thus, "my yoga is easy."

Christian yoga is founded on the principle that there is something higher than oneness, and that is the yoke of love. And clearly, love is not possible -- or, it is merely an illusion -- if all is actually one. But Christianity teaches that love is not an illusion, but the essence of God. Thus, the recognition of a trinitarian God, which you might say is "one in love" as opposed to one in.... what? I don't know. That was for all those Councils to figure out 1000 or 1500 years ago, and I don't want to rehash it here.

The point is, this does not mean to imply that this is a dualistic cosmos; but it also isn't a monistic one. Duality, as UF suggests, is always pernicious, as it posits two rival "ultimates" which battle it out until the end of time -- which never ends. But it is absurd to think that there could be two ultimates.

You could claim that one of the ultimates is merely an illusion, which is what materialists do. That is, there is a mind-matter duality that is ultimately reducible to matter. This, of course, is a non-starter, as it represents the worst kind of metaphysical nonsense.

UF asks, "Does there not exist a legitimate twofoldness?... a twofoldness which does not signify the diminution of unity, but rather its qualitative enrichment?

Hmmm, let's see.... I'm thinking of marriage, which strikes me as a legitimate twofoldness that enriches unity. Is there such a thing as a metaphysical marriage? Isn't this why nuns wear wedding rings? More to the point, isn't this what Petey was referring to when he wrote, A little metaphysical diddling between a cabbala opposites, and Mamamaya! baby makes Trinity, so all the world's an allusion?

As Three Dog Night taught us, "one is the loneliest number." And as Petey taught us, It was not good that this Godhead, the Most High, should be allone, so He expired with a big bong and said "let there be higher physics," and it was zo. Now God had a lila Word to play with and keep him company! The point is, eternity would be intolerably dull and monotheotonous without sometwo to love in threeness: Lover, Loved, and the Love that passes between them. Truly, duality's a crowd, but trinity's company.

And God's love would not be particularly admirable if he were merely loving himself by proxy. No, God's love is completely unnarcissary. As UF writes, "If God were only One and if he had not created the World, he would not be the God revealed by the Master, the God of whom St. John says: God is love; and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him."

I suppose I would venture to branch this out a bit, and say that God is also Truth, or Knower, Known, and the Knowledge in between; or Beauty, in the same essential formulation.

The point is, as UF says, mere Being deprived of love "would be the most appalling torment -- the Inferno itself!" Love -- and Truth and Beauty -- is what imbues being with worth, with value and meaning. What is the Resurrection if not the triumph of love over broken being? Being itself is morally indifferent, perhaps even vaguely sinister, in the absence of the divine light of love.

But if we posit love as a a fundamental principle, then we may understand existence to be a "moral process."

Well, we've only touched the surface of the High Priestess card. To be continued tomorrow....