Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Triumph of the Will: Let the Rot Begin (10.24.10)

Moving on from the Hermit, we come now to Letter X, The Wheel of Fortune. We actually discussed this one a few weeks ago. In fact, that's what started this whole meditation on the Meditations. Also, in flipping through this chapter, I see the I've discussed most of these ideas in other contexts, and I don't want to repeat myself. So let's just move on to Letter XI, The Force.

This is a timely symbol for the events of the day, as the force of the left ascends on the political wheel of fortune. However, we can draw coonsolation from the fact that, being that leftism is a closed intellectual and spiritual system, it is already "on the way down," outward appearances to the contrary notwithstanding. In short, its end is in its beginning, as the poet said. The higher it ascends in its intoxicated reach for power, the further it will fall. The concrete fact of Obama shall soon enough kill the vaporous idea of Obama.

This passage by UF is perfectly apt today: "Plato has never had success as a revolutionary and never will do so. But Plato himself will always live throughout the centuries of human history... and will be in each century the companion of the young and old who love pure thought, seeking only the light which it comprises." In other words, you can never really have a "revolution" of people oriented to the white point of wisdom discussed in yesterday's post.

For one thing, it is an individual endeavor, not the sort of thing that could ever occur on a massive scale. And the left is a mass movement, which automatically condemns it to mediocrity and banality. It is led by a herd of elites who imagine themselves superior, but nothing could be more banal -- and self-contradictory -- than the idea of "mass excellence."

In contrast to Plato, Karl Marx has enjoyed over a century "of astonishing success and has revolutionized the world. He has swept away millions -- those who went to the barricades and trenches in civil wars, and those who went to the prisons, either as jailers or as prisoners."

Really, can you name another philosopher who has enjoyed such a literally smashing success in such a short span of time? But you -- yes, you there, "as a solitary human soul, a soul of depth and sobriety, what do you owe Karl Marx?"

I don't know yet. Ask me next April 15th.

The point is, "Plato illumines, whilst Marx sweeps away." Obviously, it is impossible to imagine a person of any spiritual stature getting caught up in the Obama hysteria. But it is equally impossible to imagine such a person being caught up in any kind of political hysteria. It is one of the reasons we can never match the diabolical energy of the left. Since the leftist is condemned to the horizontal world, he channels his spiritual energy into politics. As I wrote a couple of years ago,

"Regardless of what happens Tuesday, it shouldn’t greatly affect the spiritual equilibrium of the Superior Man, whose invisible combat will continue as usual. Indeed, this is what distinguishes us from the agitated multitude of horizontal men who locate their salvation in politics. Whatever the outcome, our lives will continue to center around our own perfection and salvation, not for narcissistic reasons, but for the simple reason that it is not possible to save others unless we have first saved ourselves. Needless to say, horizontal Republicans will not save us from horizontal Democrats.

"The project of the left is to make us all useful to the collective, when the only possible justification for the collective can lie in its usefulness to the individual -- again, not in a horizontal, egotistical sense, but in a vertical sense. Assuming that life has a transcendent purpose -- and you cannot be human and not make this assumption -- then the purpose of society should be to help human beings achieve this purpose -- i.e., to be useful to the Creator."

Hmm, I see that Bob foretold the cult of Obama:

"Horizontal man, in denying the vertical, necessarily replaces it with a counterfeit version that substitutes the collective for the One and human will for the Divine authority. Taken to its logical extreme, this manifests as the demagogue, the cult of personality, or the dictator-god who expresses the vitalistic will of the people. But all forms of leftism lie on this continuum. So much of the pandering of the left is merely totalitarianism in disguise -- a false absolute and a counterfeit vertical."

And there is no one so inflated with narcissistic hubris as the leftist social engineer who will save mankind from its own self-inflicted wounds. The leftist can give man everything but what he most needs, and in so doing, destroys the possibility of man. As Eliot said, he dreams of a system in which it will be unnecessary for anyone to be good.

Likewise, "the moment we talk about 'social conscience,' and forget about conscience, we are in moral danger." Eliminate the idea of moral struggle, and "you must expect human beings to become more and more vaporous" (Eliot). Since man is placed at the crossroads where he is free to choose between good and evil, this again eliminates man. You might say that for the leftist dreamer, man is strictly unnecessary. In fact, he just gets in the way. Humanity is reduced to "a manageable herd rather than a community of souls," which naturally includes the dead and unborn (Lockerd).

For horizontality goes hand in hand with exteriority and outwardness, which is the initial direction of the fall: first out, then down. Gravity takes care of the rest. Horizontal man is down and out, whereas our salvolution lies up and in. Animals are almost entirely exterior. Like the leftist, they do not actually live in the world, but in the closed system of their own neurology. Only man -- inexplicably and miraculously on any scientistic grounds -- can exit the closed system of his own neuro-ideology and enter higher worlds, worlds of truth, beauty, and moral goodness.

To be in contact with these higher worlds is to be Man. To neglect or deny these anterior worlds is to destroy man, precisely. It is to starve and suffocate man’s spirit by laying waste to his proper environment, the only environment in which he can actually grow into full manhood. You cannot replace the holy grail of Spirit with the lowly gruel of flatland materialism and expect it to feed the multitudes. Human beings do not draw their spiritual nourishment from outside but from above -- which in turn “spiritualizes” and sacralizes the horizontal.

Being what he is -- and isn’t -- horizontal man externalizes concerns about his self-inflicted soul murder, and obsesses over the future of "the planet" -- over speculative weather reports one hundred years hence.

But right now there is a hell and there is a hand basket, because we can clearly see both with our own third eyes. Furthermore, we can see exactly who is running with baskets in both hands. Look, it's Nancy Pelosi! Harry Reid! Barney Frank!

Again, vertical man never obsesses, let alone enters the state of perpetual hysteria of leftist man. As Eliot wrote, "we fight rather to keep something alive than in the expectation that anything will triumph." Nevertheless, vertical man naturally frets about the deteriorating conditions of the interior of the human world, and its seemingly unimpeded slide into barbarism, spiritual exhaustion, scientistic magic, neo-paganism, self-worship, the cult of the body, abstract materialism, and a vapid and rudderless subjectivism.

Such lost souls cannot discern the signs of the times, much less the direction of history. For them, history can be nothing more than a meaningless tale told by a tenured idiot, full of sound and fury but signifying a nice paycheck and adoring coeds. Horizontal man scoffs at spiritual reality on the peculiar grounds that it cannot exist, denying its presence with that which affirms it by virtue of its self-evident existence.

It is a truism that vertical man paradoxically lives very close to the ground, as he has internalized the cautionary tales of Eden, of Icarus, of Babel, and of various episodes of the Honeymooners. In contrast, horizontal man seizes what does not properly belong to him, not just recapitulating the fall but enshrining it in his ideology. It's no longer a bug but a feature.

But when you cast your vote for horizontal man, you are unwittingly chipping away at the foundation of the very tower in which horizontal man is privileged to sit despite his metaphysical ignorance. For in reality, we only have the luxury of superfluous and slumbering horizontal men because of the vertical men -- real men -- who came before and built the tower brick by brick (except for the cornerstone, which was not made by human hands).

Thus we can see our own possible future by casting our gaze at Europe, which is too high and top-heavy for its own long-forgotten foundations, and is well into the process of toppling into dust. For when horizontal man falls, he doesn’t actually fall far, only back down to the ground where vertical man awaits him.

Yes, we are exiled in time, but for vertical man, time does not alter the basic existential situation which religion is here to address. It is believed by our intellectually sterile and spiritually shallow elites that religion is no longer relevant. In so believing, they underscore their own irrelevance, for to paraphrase Schuon, they blame Truth for their own lack of qualification to understand and accept it. Suffice it to say that to be eternally young is to forever grow -- only inward and upward, toward the primordial light that has already defeated horizontal darkness, today and forever.

So render unto the horizontal the things that belong to the horizontal, but do not store your treasures there, where myths corrupt and chickens doth come home to roost. As always, be as wise as the horizontal serpents who stand on their bellies, but innocent as vertical doves who kneel on wings.

A secularist culture can only exist, so to speak, in the dark. It is a prison in which the human spirit confines itself when it is shut out of the wider world of reality. But as soon as the light comes, all the elaborate mechanism that has been constructed for living in the dark becomes useless. The recovery of spiritual vision gives man back his spiritual freedom. --Russell Kirk

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Open Thread

Woke up at midnight with a pounding toothache. Probably something to do with the root canal I just had redone the day before. All better now, but not enough web fluid to post.

This morning I got into an argument with my son over which one of us is "new." I said he was. He said I was. Eventually I had to concede his point. Unlike me, he has no doubt that he has always existed. Rather, I'm the big novelty.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Do I Dare Disturb the Obamaverse? (11.16.11)

The last of the three antinomies resolved within the Hermit is faith <---> empirical science. As UF writes, "The father of empirical science is doubt and its mother is faith." On the one hand, "doubt is the very root of every question, and questions are the basis of every quest and all research." And yet, as Michael Polanyi has written of so extensively, it is faith that guides us to the potentially fruitful question -- one that can be asked "in good faith," and to which we can expect an answer to be forthcoming.

For example, "Newton doubted the traditional theory of 'gravity,' but he believed in the unity of the world.... Doubt set his thought in motion; faith rendered it fruitful." In a way, you could say that doubt is horizontal, whereas faith is vertical.

But there is faith in doubt and doubt in faith. The doubt in faith is the "dark night of the soul," the days and years spent wandering in the bewilderness, the childlike attitude of expectant silence. Conversely, the faith in doubt is the belief that the cosmos is ultimately intelligible and therefore whole and finally good; that it is a creation through which we may apprehend the qualities of its creator.

The scientist has faith that the vast multiplicity of the cosmos is a reflection of some prior or underlying unity. He also has faith that the human subject is uniquely capable of knowing this unity; as Aldous Huxley remarked, "science is the reduction of multiplicity to unity." And the scientist believes in evolution, which is to say progress. And progress is absolutely meaningless unless it is in light of an absolute standard, e.g., truth. A universe of pure change could never be progressive -- which, by the way, is another reason why "progressivism" is always regressive.

Just last night I was reading how Eliot made this observation back in the 1930s, when there were mindlessly pervasive calls for "change" of a similar nature to what we are witlessing today, i.e., collectivist and fascist change. To say that Obama is "un-American" is not an insult; it just is, just as it would be un-American to, say, enact a law banning homosexuals from teaching in public schools (which was actually attempted in a California ballot initiative in 1978).

Seen in this light, progressivism is just an excuse to unleash violence against the current order, since reality can never match up to the infantile fantasies of the left. "The perfect is the enemy of the good." The leftist does not believe in the permanence of transcendent things, which is precisely what creates the dynamic and fruitful interplay of faith and doubt, or creative evolution. Rather, he believes in a static fantasy of an unattainable utopia, which again serves as the justification for destroying that which is -- including those beautiful values that made this nation possible.

It is the unrepentant spiritual terrorism of the left that frightens us. For when you insist that this is a racist country; a sexist country; a homophobic country; a classist country; you do not just criticize the margins, but delegitimize the center. Progressivism is the expression of thanatos the "death instinct." It is perverse, sadistic, and authoritarian. Which is why, of course, they project these things into conservatives. The left howls in indignation at the prospect of monitoring international phone calls from terrorists. But illegally investigate Joe the Plumber? No problem! It's for the greater good.

Eliot wrote that "if the progress of mankind is to continue as long as man survives upon the earth, then... progress becomes merely change; for the values of man will change, and a world of changed values is valueless to us -- just as we, being a part of the past, will be valueless to it. Or if the progress of mankind is to continue only until a 'perfect' state of society is reached, then this state of society will be valueless simply because of its perfection. It will be at best a smooth-running machine with no meaning..."

The idea that progressivism renders our lives worthless to generations of the future is a subtle point worth dwelling on. Look how easily the left sweeps away not just the average person, but the truly great men of past. The Founding Fathers? Just racist slave holders promoting their economic interests. Lincoln? He didn't care about the plight of blacks, he just wanted to preserve the union. The men who died for our freedom in World War II? Probably just racist rednecks back at home. Hell, the army wasn't even integrated until what, 1948? How could it be a force for good?

The other day, a leftist-integral-Buddhist suggested to me that the liberation of Iraq was an aggressive war. I told him he was either ignorant, intellectually dishonest, or morally retarded. And I meant it literally, not as an insult. Talk about irony. What China did to Tibet was aggressive. Removing the most sadistic tyrant on earth and installing a democracy is a gift from heaven -- even of some, if not most, men have to be driven to paradise with whips.

The point is, the left completely undermines and delegitimizes the United States, and then wants to elect one of its own to be President of the land they so despise. If Obama fails to bring this howling mob the revolutionary change they are clamoring for, who knows what will happen with their collective death instinct? These people aren't playing. They are scary serious. And if you are not a part of their fantasied solution, you are just a problem, like everyone from Joe the Plumber to George the Father. For a primitive person, idealization is always a defense against aggression, so it will be very interesting to see how Obama manages the aggressive idealization being projected into him. I seriously doubt that he appreciates the hatred beneath the love.

In light of the "permanent things," time past and time future become time present. This was one of Eliot's great concerns, expressed so perfectly in Four Quartets. Again, the progressive believes in time as a straight line composed of atomistic and disjointed moments -- which, by the way, is what Eliot was attempting to capture and convey in his earlier, more pessimistic poems, prior to his conversion. Again I think of Bion's concept of "attacks on linking," which can take place in both time and space; in fact, if you think about it, you cannot attack spatial links without attacking temporal links. To attack the one is to attack the other. Deconstruction doesn't just destroy the present, but past and future as well. To destroy history is to destroy the present, and vice versa.

But to dwell in the permanent things -- the essence of conservatism -- is not to live in the discontinuous line, but within a kind of spiritual plenum that connects us to all of mankind, living and dead. It is a kind of sin and scandal, not only that the dead cannot vote, but that the left wishes to force a new country upon us that would be unrecognizable to the men who died to create this one. To say that "we are the ones we've been waiting for" is not just cosmically narcissistic, but profoundly ungrateful. But all children come into the world believing they are cosmically special, otherwise they could not psychically survive infancy.

How did we get here? What about the Hermit?

Science in the absence of religion conforms to the pattern laid out in Genesis: your eyes will be open to the horizontal and you shall become like a god! But this appreciation of the quantitative aspect of the cosmos comes at the price of obscuring the qualitative aspects: "quality is the vertical aspect of the world," and it is ultimately rooted in the permanent things discussed above. The supreme value of values in the vertical is God, just as the supreme quantity of quantities in the horizontal would be some sort of "theory of everything," or simple equation for generating a cosmos.

But as UF asks, why is it necessary to choose between the two? Why not just add the one to the other "under the sign of the cross," i.e., the vertical line of religion -- the permanent things -- bisecting the horizontal plane of science at each and every moment? Why not just crucify the serpent? Do so, and a metamorphosis follows: "The scientistic creed then becomes what it is in reality: the mirroring of the creative Word. It will no longer be truth; it will be method. It will no longer say: 'in the beginning was substance or matter,' but will say: 'in order to understand the mechanism of the made world, it is necessary to choose a method which takes account of the origin of matter and of that which set it in motion from above." Likewise, we will see the brain as a function of intelligence, not vice versa.

In short, "The synthesis of science and religion is not a theory, but rather the inner act of consciousness of adding the spiritual vertical to the scientific horizontal."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Naming the Nameless and Doing the Reality Dance (11.14.11)

Yesterday I mentioned that Meditations on the Tarot really clued me into the intellectual and metaphysical depth and breadth of Christianity. If nothing else, it is simply a superior philosophy. But once you begin to realize just how superior, it leads to other considerations that take you into the heart of the Mystery.

I'm currently reading this book on T.S. Eliot, and I see that he came to Christianity in a similar manner: head first. I suppose that the vast majority of people who convert to Christianity do so either for emotional reasons (which I am not criticizing) or because it just "feels right." Obviously, it operates on levels that are both deeper and higher then the ego, so there is no reason that the average person should be able to articulate these reasons, any more than they could articulate the physics of riding a bicycle. Rather, they just do it. And enjoy the experience. If you have a mediocre mind, your thoughts will just get in the way anyway. Leave it to the professionals.

But it's always interesting when a genius such as Eliot goes through the same process. And it's also disconcerting for the Adversary and his mediocre minions. How could one of the two or three greatest men of letters of the 20th century embrace this primitive nonsense? But as Kirk points out, Christianity has always been a scandal.

It's like the tao: if these spiritual autistics didn't laugh at it, it wouldn't be the tao. You can see how our scientistic jester never stops banging his head against his own self-imposed wall, seemingly incapable of understanding that everyone here has not only heard his arguments, but probably once believed them. But we then discovered something more adequate, and moved on. And in. And up. For our jester to imagine that he, of all people, can tell us something we don't already know about the horizontal Waste Land is either immature or breathtakingly ignorant.

In Eliot's case, he wrote extensively about the subject, both in his poetry and prose. For example, "Most people suppose that some people, because they enjoy the luxury of Christian sentiments and the excitement of Christian ritual, swallow or pretend to swallow incredible dogma. For some the process is exactly opposite. Rational assent may arrive late, intellectual conviction may come slowly, but they come inevitably without violence to honesty and nature. To put the sentiments in order is a later and an immensely difficult task: intellectual freedom is earlier and easier than complete spiritual freedom."

You could say that it's all about restoring / With a new verse the ancient rhyme. Redeem / The time. Redeem / The unread vision in the higher dream / While jewelled unicorns draw by the guilded hearse (Eliot).

Enough with the gilded hearse of scientism. Back to the Hermit's higher dream. When we left off yesterday, we were explaining how he reconciles the three great philosophical antinomies within his own being, the first one being idealism <---> realism (although naturalism would have perhaps have been a less confusing word than realism, since idealism is also known as philosophical realism in scholastic philosophy -- i.e., the notion that the platonic archetypes are more real than the material reality which is their instantiation).

The next antinomy is realism <---> nominalism, and here UF does mean the type of realism just mentioned, that is, the school of thought "which attributes objective reality to general notions that are now usually designated as 'abstract' but which medieval philosophy designated universalia ('universals')." In contrast, the current of thought "which denies the objective reality of universals and which admits reality only in 'particulars' is that of nominalism."

As UF notes, a realist in this sense is an extreme idealist, e.g., Plato. For Plato, the idea, say, of boxer briefs, is more real than the pair I am now wearing. But for the nominalist, these so-called objective ideas are nothing more than words which have no independent reality. You can see where this route 666 leads: more or less directly to deconstruction, multiculturalism, moral relativism,"positive liberties," "gay marriage," etc., the whole catastrophe.

For example, any remotely spiritually attuned person recognizes that marriage is a sacred union between a man and a woman. It is a real archetype. Therefore, to promulgate the fantasy that members of the same sex can live in a state of marriage is a kind of violent assault on reality. It's not funny. It is mean spirited, offensive, and cretinous. If you cannot see that, then you, my friend, are a barbarian. I am not being insulting, merely descriptive. There's just no other word for someone who conflates reality with what it reveals of itself to the animal senses and to cold logic isolated from any guiding wisdom.

The irony is that any scientist who actually takes the trouble to think deeply is a philosophical realist. There is no great mathematician who is not an explicit or implicit Platonist. For example, G. H. Hardy, in his A Mathematician's Apology, wrote that "It would be difficult now to find an educated man quite insensitive to the aesthetic appeal of mathematics.... A mathematician, like a painter or a poet, is a maker of patterns. If his patterns are more permanent than theirs, it is because they are made with ideas." Who could argue with that proposition but an innumerate illiterate, or atheistic doubledunce?

If we consider the whole of creation -- i.e., the cosmos.... Wait, let's stop right there: the idea of the cosmos. For that is what it is: an idea. No one has ever seen the cosmos. But it's wrong to say we just "assume" it exists. Rather, we know in our bones that it exists -- that is, the strict totality of all reality, the Absolute. There is no part of reality that exists independently of this Absolute. The interior wholeness that we see at every level of reality is simply a fractal reflection, or distant echo, of this Absolute. It is what accounts for the organicism of organisms, the nonlocality of locality, the unity of the human subject, and the inner coherence of science. Each is a horizontal reflection of the other and a vertical reflection of the O-ther.

The realist (i.e., idealist) says that "the general is anterior to the particular" (deduction). The nominalist says that "the particular is anterior to the general" (induction).

Here again, we see how this plays out at the local level, with disastrous consequences. For example, for the leftist, the collective is more real than the individual man, which is why it is fine to steal from Joe the Plumber and give his hard earned money to Joe the Deadbeat. But the founders of our country knew that the individual was real and that this individuality was rooted in his liberty, which is the means by which we become real. It is the idea of liberty which is ultimately real, and which creates the possibility of real individuals (in other words, without liberty, our ideal "created" self will not be able to actualize).

But for Obama, it is only in the concrete particular that liberty is real, i.e, "positive liberty." In other words, liberty is not real unless the government somehow gives it to you in the form of cash and other valuable prizes. You might say that negative liberty preserves the ideal reality of liberty.

For the nominalist, "truth, beauty and goodness do not exist for it as objective realities, and are only a matter of taste," that great leveler of the hierarchical cosmos. People who "attack links" are always nominalists. You cannot argue with them, because their first cognitive act is to dismantle the very cognitive scaffolding that makes higher thought possible, e.g., the Jesus Seminarians. They first deconstruct the higher edifice of the Bible, and then Jesus comes out the other end a Marxist community organizer.

In truth, we clearly need both, i.e., realism and nominalism: "We cannot dispense with realism if we attach any value to the existence of objective truth (science) and trans-subjective truth (religion)."

How to resolve this question? It's easy, at least if you were lucky enough to be born in Christendom: "The 'problem' of universals was resolved in the spiritual history of mankind by the fact of the Incarnation, where the fundamental universal of the world -- the Logos -- became Jesus Christ, who is the fundamental particular of the world."

Here, the universal of universals, the very principle of intelligibility, the Logos, became the particular of particulars, the very prototype of the personality, Jesus Christ.

This is why for the Raccoon, spiritual knowledge is embodied knowledge, or it is no knowledge at all.

And the weird light shines in the dark, but the dorks don't comprehend it. --Petey

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Herman's Hermits and Toots' Drawers (11.11.11)

Letter IX, The Hermit, might just as well be called "The Raccoon." At least if memory serves. It is clearly the arcanum with which UF himself most identifies. He says that a person who is "truly young, i.e., living for an ideal," is instinctively drawn to this figure, similar to the Jungian concept of archetypal projection. In other words, the archetype of the Hermit is "within," but we must first locate it without, in order to assimilate its content into the preconceptual form. Without the experience, the archetype will remain an empty category -- a dead letter addressed from the Self to your self.

The Hermit is "a wise and good father... who has passed through the narrow gate and who walks the hard way -- someone whom one could trust without reserve and whom one could venerate and love without limit." The reason why there are so many false teachers is that we have an intrinsic need for real ones. But since our culture has largely severed itself from its own wisdom tradition, the Deepaks of the world rush in to fill the void. In fact, we can see that Obama is riding the waves of that same archetypal energy field.

Only in a culture that has completely lost its way could this cipher be regarded as intelligent or wise. For an insight into Obama's unconscious swamp, just consider the sinister entity he idealized as his own Hermit -- Reverend Wright! Such an odious choice runs so much deeper than the question of "judgment," for what you love simultaneously reveals who you are and what you shall become. A person who would expose his children to such a spiritually toxic environment is unfit to be a father, much less president. And I mean that quite literally. I cannot imagine assaulting my son's innocence in such a manner.

The Hermit "possesses the gift of letting the light shine in the darkness -- this is his lamp." And here is a critical point: "he has the faculty of separating himself from the collective moods, prejudices and desires of race, nation, class and family -- the faculty of reducing to silence the cacophony of collectivism vociferating around him in order to listen to and understand the hierarchical harmony of the spheres."

This reminds me of the task of the psychoanalyst, which is to listen to the patient with "even hovering attention," in order to hear into the deeper layers of the unconscious. One must "unlisten" to the explicit in order to hear the implicit, or obscure the plot in order to appreciate the theme. It has also been called "listening with the third ear." Bion said that one must suspend memory, desire, and understanding, in order to enter a state of faith, or what Bob symbolizes in the book as (o).

But that is not all, because if it were, we would live in a kind of bloodless idealism which Christianity specifically reconciles with flesh-and-blood reality -- or, materiality, to be precise. In other words, the Hermit unites reality with matter within his own being. Or, you could say that he embodies the ideal, in imitation of the Master himself. As UF writes, the Hermit

"possesses a sense of realism which is so developed that he stands in the domain of reality... on three [feet], i.e., he advances only after having touched the ground through immediate experience and at first-hand contact without intermediaries." This is none other than O-->(n), or the transformation of reality into experience.

So the Hermit is an archetypal reflection of the good father, behind or above whom is the Father in heaven. The Hermit is a word from our nonlocal sponsor, so to speak. But he never confuses himself with the mouth.

As UF says, he also represents the method of obtaining valid spiritual knowledge, in that he is able to synthesize within himself the three great antinomies with which any thinking man is confronted, and which any efficacious philosophy must reconcile. These are the complementary pairs of 1) idealism <---> realism; 2) realism <---> nominalism; and 3) faith <---> empirical science. I remember that when I first read this chapter, I finally appreciated the intellectual and metaphysical brilliance of Christianity, and just what a profound innovation it represented, for it beautifully resolves each of these pairs in a fruitful and dynamic "marriage." I also understood why it is folly to the geeks and a stumbling block to the clueless. You know, the materialists.

Is this going too slowly? Am I losing readers? Let's put it this way: yes to number two. Is it because this is getting too pedantic? Should we bring Bob back, and banish Bob's Unconscious to the.... unconscious?

Consider the first antinomy, idealism <---> realism. Most philosophers come down on one side or the other of this pair. It is their first "preconceptual" thought, upon which their subsequent intellectual edifice is built. But they never justify how and why they come down on one side or the other, nor can they ever justify it, because it is totally arbitrary.

Well, not totally. Rather, it's just based upon temperament, or inclination, like the eternal question of boxers vs. briefs. Surely it is no coincidence that Bob prefers the "third way" of boxer briefs, for in fact, this is what Toots Mondello was referring to when he spoke of the "sacred undergarment." Do you understand?

Put it this way: Plato was a boxer man, Aristotle a brief man. But can we possibly fashion a new garment out of these two, one that is both spiritually comfortable but also offers intellectual support? We shall see.

UF writes that "the idealist (e.g. Hegel) considers everything as so many forms of thought, whilst the realist (e.g. Spencer) affirms that objects of knowledge have an existence which is independent of thought." Where have we heard this before?

Yes. This is what Bob was referring to on Page 26, where he asks, "Where in the world do we begin? Do we have any right to assume that the universe is even intelligible?... Of course we should start our enquiry with the 'facts,' but what exactly is a fact? Which end is up? In other words, do we start with the objects of thought or the subject that apprehends them? And just what is the relationship between apparently 'external' objects and the consciousness that is able to cognize them? Any fact we consider presupposes a subject who has selected that fact out of an infinite sea of possibilities, so any conceivable fact arises simultaneously with a subjective co-creator of that fact."

In the case of realism, "it is the world which bears the word and it is the human intellect which listens." But in the case of idealism, "it is the intellect which bears the word and it is the world which is its reflection" (MOTT).

Who is right? Boxers or briefs?

"Let us not prostrate ourselves either before the world or before the intellect, but let us prostrate ourselves in adoration of the common source of both the world and the intellect -- God: God whose Word is at one and the same time the 'true light that enlightens every man coming into the world' and the creator of the world -- 'all things were made through him, and nothing that was made was made without him" (MOTT).

The source of both world and intellect is the Word, or Logos, "whose objective manifestation is the world of prototypes underlying the phenomenal world, and whose subjective manifestation is the light or prototype of human intelligence." You see, the universe meets in the middle of the monkey, and you're the monkey in the middle.

This formula resolves so many philosophical pickles and prevents so many dangers and falls. For example, our scientistic jester would presumably say that something that has no ultimate reality, the human subject, is able to affirm valid knowledge of reality, which, as soon as you think about it, makes no sense. Therefore, you must not think. But why bother thinking anyway, since the subject isn't really real?

Nor could objects be really real, in the sense that we couldn't really know them. Not really. Rather, we would be trapped in Kant's phenomenal world, with no access to the noumenal. But with the Hermit's approach, both objects and the subject who knows them become really real, since they become real in the Word. In turn, assimilating this reality into the Word is to "redeem the world."

(We'll get to the other two antinomies tomorrow.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How to Create a Real Cosmos (11.10.11)

I don't know why these "integral" types believe they have discovered something new. The other day, one of them emailed Bob to let him know that no one at the "higher stages of development" -- he didn't name names, but one can well imagine the stench up there -- agrees "with the policies of George Bush or Sarah Palin since they represent a lower level of evolution." Somehow -- he didn't explain how -- we are supposed to integrate and transcend "primitive" conservative ideas, but he didn't mention which ones.

At the conclusion of The Chariot, UF describes what an integral man would actually look like. Suffice it to say, he doesn't look like Deepak Chopra.

For example, he will manifest creative being, meaning that his thought will possess the qualities of creativity, clarity, fluidity, and precision (in contrast, Deepak's disjointed thought is unimaginative, unclear, desiccated, and imprecise). In the domain of feeling, his heart will radiate warmth, magnanimity, sensitivity, and faithfulness. And in the domain of will, one will see intensity, scope, adaptability, and firmness. The integral person will balance serenity, mobility and resolution; and will also reflect the four cardinal virtues, i.e., wisdom/prudence, courage/strength, temperance and justice. As Schuon would say, he will embody "the center at the periphery" or be a reflection of the "unmoved mover," hence his dignity.

Now obviously, this is a lifetime project. One of the reasons one must strive to be "integral" -- and this has always been known -- is that overemphasis on one of these qualities to the exclusion of the others will create an imbalance and therefore a fall. For example, our scientistic jester's thought is precise but devoid of creativity or fluidity, not to mention lucidity or metaphysical discernment. And its clarity is a result of his terrible simplification of reality. This kind of artificially narrow clarity always comes at the expense of doing violence to the Real (and therefore oneself).

In the final analysis, as Schuon writes, this type of "worldly intelligence" which oversteps its bounds is a product of pride; it destroys the "essential functions" of the intelligence, even "while allowing the surface mechanism to remain incidentally, as if in mockery." This is why an Albert Einstein could be such a brilliant physicist but such a political and philosophical boob. One could cite countless examples of so-called "geniuses" whose intelligence is "fragmentary, unilateral, asymmetric, and disproportional." As a result of this imbalance -- or lack of integrity -- their thought will always contain a "hidden poison."

This is why it is critical that our intelligence not become detached from "metaphysical truth or with eschatological reality": "the definition of integral or essential, and thus efficacious, intelligence is the adequation to the real, both 'horizontal' and 'vertical,' terrestrial and celestial." Lacking each of these dimensions, it becomes a pale shadow of man's true capabilities and ousts him from his cosmic station. It necessarily absolutizes the relative and thereby fashions a graven image. The rest is commentary. To live at the horizontal fringe of the cosmos is to subsist at the margin of one's Self. You become an unreal person in an unreal reality.

Let me just conclude by emphasizing that it is extremely dangerous to surround oneself with mediocre and "un-integral" intellects who have no idea that they are. Very dangerous. This point was driven home to me last Saturday, when I was at one of my all-day discontinuing education seminars. The speaker was a renowned psychoanalyst whom I had great difficulty understanding. Not because his thought was so elevated, but because it was so mundane and metaphysically confused.

Here again, it must be emphasized that this has nothing to do with "IQ." But if I were to try to "adapt" my mind to his reality, I would lose it, precisely. I then realized that this was the problem with my whole journey through the educational system. I very nearly lost my mind. This, by the way, is why so-called "intellectuals" such as Peggy Noonan, David Frum, or David Brooks disapprove of Sarah Palin. I would also go nuts if I were forced to assent to these mediocrities. They imagine themselves superior to a Rush Limbaugh, when they're really just lame bloggers with huge platforms.

On to The Justice. I have to admit that this card posed some challenges for me, and in many ways is above my pray grade. For the most part, I try to write about more general religious principles, but this card has a lot of material that is quite specific not only to Christianity, but to Christian mysteries. Therefore, I'll just poke around the edges and see what resonates with me.

I like the idea that to think is to pronounce judgment and to therefore render justice. What immediately comes to mind is the totolerantarian left, which prides itself on being so "non-judgmental." As such, this answers the question of why their thought is so confused and why their policies begin and end in injustice. And of course, they are actually extremely judgmental, but since they are not permitted to realize it, must project it into the "intolerant" right. Thus, hanging Sarah Palin in effigy is "art," while hanging Obama in effigy -- which no conservative would actually do, but liberals know they'd really like to -- is vile and racist.

I also like what UF has to say about science, as it is pretty much the Raccoon view, being that we by no means reject science, but nor do we turn it into an idol. As UF writes, the application of science has resulted in three singular discoveries; first, the fact that this is an evolutionary (which is not to say "Darwinian") cosmos; second, that matter reduces to pure energy; and third, that the consciousness of the surface ego is but a "local" phenomenon floating within (actually, "outside") an upper and lower vertical which are nonlocal (i.e., the "unconscious" and all it implies).

Whereas science is "public" and "general," esoterism is private and particular. In short, no one else can make its discoveries for you. This is knowledge that cannot simply be "given" to you. Rather, it must be undergone -- even at times "suffered" -- so that in each person it will have a slightly different inflection but nevertheless be "objective." This is a critical point.

As UF writes, only a person may synthesize religion and science. Religion cannot do it. Nor can science do it. Thus, the esoterist engages in a "double discipline": he prays and he thinks. Or he "thinks on his knees." In so doing, he is able to "redeem" whatever it is he successfully assimilates. And this integral assimilation can only occur under the conditions of creativity, clarity, fluidity, precision, warmth, magnanimity, sensitivity, faithfulness, intensity, breadth, depth, height, adaptability, firmness, dignity, and serenity.

This is how one turns mere perception and thought into a real Cosmos worthy of Man.

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....