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....