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....

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Magical Mystery Tour of the Interior Cosmos (10.05.11)

Remember, this is Bob's Unconscious speaking to us from beyond the subjective horizon. Also, remember that this is not meant to be -- nor could it ever be -- exhaustive, and cannot be a replacement for reading the book. I have no intention of "saturating" the experience of reading the book with my own ideas.

MY first impression upon rerereading MOTT is that the man could have used an editor. But who could have accomplished such a task? This presupposes an ability to master this infinite and eternal body of knowledge -- to wrap one's arms around it, so to speak, both in time and space -- and then to assimilate and organize it within oneself. In Bionion terms, it means that one would have to be capable of containing what UF contained; one would have to have an interior cosmos that exceeded his, and I doubt if too many people meet those qualifications.

Besides, once something is fully contained, it is functionally dead; it is no longer capable of evolution. Bion used the symbol ♀ for the container, and ♂ for the contained. The relationship between ♀ and ♂ is that between an explosive force and a limiting boundary. Words, for example, are ♀. Although words contain meaning, the meaning constantly escapes the words, which is the only reason why words are capable of saying what cannot be said and evolving meaning. One must be very aware of this function of words when discussing mystical theology; one must never forget the uncontainable ♂ within the ♀.

Bob attempted to discuss this issue in OCUG, which is why he used symbols instead of words for certain key ideas. For example, the word God is a container, an ♀. But how can any word possibly contain the ultimate ♂? It's okay to use the word, so long as you never forget that, especially in the case of God, ♂ vastly exceeds any ♀ you could come up with.

Now, the first arcana is that of the Magician. Before getting into its specific meaning, bear in mind that, even more than a word, this is a symbol, or ♀, which is full of explosive ♂. UF even explains this at the outset, noting that these archetypal symbols of the Tarot have "the virtue of awakening the deeper layers of the soul," i.e., ♂. In other words, you cannot think without symbols. But you must not confuse the symbols with the thoughts they provoke, or reduce thought to symbol.

Here again, Bob touched on this in OCUG, noting that one must develop a new relationship to language, so that you actually speak it, rather than vice versa. When we hear about "speaking in tongues" and the like, I believe this is likely a popular misrepresentation of a deeper principle. This is why we call it "speaking in Tongan," in order to avoid the confusion. You can be sure that the scientific materialist only believes what he does because he is spoken by a particular kind of dry and desiccated language, and has become contained -- and therefore imprisoned -- by it. This is why no real poet could ever be a materialist. The poet knows as well as anyone that ♂ always breaks free of ♀, and that this is a divine mercy.

UF goes on to say that these archetypal symbols have the capacity to awaken "new notions, ideas, sentiments, and aspirations, which means that they require an activity more profound than that of study and intellectual explanation." Rather, one must dive deeply into them, which is to simultaneously dive deeply into the mystery of oneself. For "it is the deep and intimate layers of the soul which become active and bear fruit" in these contemplative exercises. And that is the whole point: to become deep, since God is the ultimate depth.

Here again, UF highlights the ♂ ♀ dialectic of the symbols -- and this goes for any archetypal symbols, including the totality of the Bible -- in that they "conceal and reveal their sense at one and the same time according to the depth of meditation." In Petey's term, they reveil, the veil (♀) being necessary to clothe the (♂) so that it may be thought about in a deepening spiral.

Again, this is a true complementarity, which is why one cannot simply strip away the veil to disclose the underlying reality. This is the approach of those barbarous atheists who imagine they can seize reality with their greedy and grasping meat hooks; but we see how far they get with that, which is to say, nowhere. They merely grasp their nether parts with this nOnanistic activity, which is why they are spiritually barren. They are filled with millions of Unborns who will never see the light of deity because they were never conceived in d'light immaculate.

Now, the magician is the master archetype for our journey into the rest of the symbols. Why is that? Because he is the symbol of what we must become if we are to have a fruitful journey through the rest of them. We must become this magician. And what does this magician represent?

Well, among other things, he embodies the principle of Slack, in that we must leave the field of profane time behind, and enter a different reality that has its own rhythm and sensibility. Here is how UF formulates it:

Learn at first concentration without effort; transform work into play; make every yoke that that you have accepted easy and every burden that you carry light!

The first of these prescriptions has to do with what Petey calls the principle of Higher Non-doodling, which in turn is similar to the wu wei of Taoism. It also coonverges on what Sri Aurobindo calls the attainment of the "silent mind," which is well explained in chapter 4 of The Adventure of Consciousness.

In fact, we see a perfect convergence of these approaches, as Satprem writes that "the major task that opens the door to many realizations is to silence the mind.... Clearly, if we want to discover a new country within us, we must leave the old one behind -- everything depends on our determination to take this first step." (In OCUG, Bob uses the symbol (---) for this step.)

Part of this is in order to escape the (♀) in order to get at the (♂), so to unspeak. In other words, our surface ego, or local self (•) is so hemmed in and contained, that we need to get beyond or behind it, and the best way is to get it to shut the hell up. This is because, as Sri Aurobindo writes, "In a certain sense, we are nothing but a complex mass of mental, nervous and physical habits held together (♀) by a few ruling ideas, desires and associations -- an amalgam of many small, self-repeating forces with a few major vibrations." This outward and external (♀) becomes thicker and more dense, until we are "confined in a construction." No more (♂). Your fortress against reality is complete.

This is why you might say that the first half of life involves learning, while the second half involves unlearning. Or, "be as little children," who are so full of (♂). This requires a leap into faith (o), which Aurobindo describes as "an intuition not only waiting for experience to justify it, but leading toward experience."

Here again, UF agrees that we must achieve calm and silence "at the expense of the automatism of thought and imagination" (the bad kind -- more on which later). Only in so doing will we be capable of truly "speaking" of these matters, instead of merely being on auto-pilot. A Raccoon must never speak of spiritual matters in in this mechanical way. I suppose that doing so has its place, but it is ultimately "by the dead and for the tenured," not for us.

One reason why silence is so critical is that it is only in silence that we become "one." And as UF writes, we must first become one in ourselves if we are to become one with the spiritual world. It's just common sense. Without unity, there can be no knowledge of any kind. For example, the only reason why we may possess scientific knowledge is because a primordial unity subtends the division of subject and object.

However, that is the world of horizontal quantities, whereas the spiritual world is one of vertical qualities. Thus, the next step, according to UF, is to understand the Law of Analogy that governs the qualitative world of the vertical. This, of course, is why Jesus spoke in parables that are full of richly resonant symbolism with which we must "play" as little children.

Well, we're out of time.