Monday, December 08, 2008

Folie à Dieu (12.30.11)

Two cards left in our vertical sprint through Meditations on the Tarot, then maybe I'll pack it in for the rest of the year.

The Fool. This is one of those chapters in which it seems that UF rambles around without ever getting to the heart of the matter. Which is fine, except that I need to say something about the Fool. Or maybe I should have reread the chapter ahead of time. Or maybe I should just start my year end hiatus now. Or maybe I should just let Bob's Unconscious handle this one. Bob doesn't seem very interested.

Blah blah blah yada yada, "the trial of our epoch is that of Faust. It is the trial of the satisfaction of desires." How very true. But what does that have to do with the Fool?

Ah, here we go: 14 pages into the chapter, UF finally says that the Fool "teaches the 'know how' of passing from intellectuality, moved by the desire for knowledge, to the higher knowledge of love." This is "related to the transformation of personal consciousness, where the self (ego) is no longer the author of the act of consciousness but its receiver."

I don't know about you, but this fool can relate to that. Whatever wisdom my little ego can muster on its own is so limited as to be.... well, folly to God, that's for sure.

There are two ways of dealing with the bobstreperous intellect. It can simply be abandoned altogether a la Zen, or "placed in the service of transcendental consciousness," which is of course the Raccoon way, that is, "the active surpassing of the intellect" -- which is also a kind of sacrifice. For it is the "method of sacrificing the intellect to spirituality in such a way that it grows and develops instead of becoming enfeebled and atrophied."

This involves a marriage of opposites, "namely discursive intellectuality and illuminative spirituality," the former being male, the latter female, or Sophia. It is "the union of human wisdom, which is folly in the eyes of God, with divine wisdom, which is folly in the eyes of man."

Surprisingly, this does not produce a hybrid lowbred fool, but rather "a single wisdom which understands both that which is above and that which is below." Again, this is the Raccoon way.

UF then goes into a discussion of scholastic philosophy, which nobly aimed "at an as complete as possible cooperation between spirituality and intellectuality" -- the marriage of the sun and moon discussed a few posts back. It is what we call "pneumacognitive co-upperation." UF says that the mission of Hermeticism is to advance the progress of this union of spirituality and intellectuality, which is none other than the "philosopher's stone," or the legendary "ark of the Raccoon" that is supposedly stored away somewhere in Toots Mondello's basement amidst the sacred bowling trophies.

UF does an admirable job of explaining the centrality of (n) vs. (k) in this endeavor. Again, the whole project only works to the extent that the tradition is alive and one's knowledge is living. It is not like operating on a corpse, for "the tradition lives only when it is deepened"; mere "conservation alone does not suffice at all," as it can all too easily be reduced to a kind of glorified mummification. We are not embalmers.

Reminds me of something Schuon said: "When God is removed from the universe, it becomes a desert of rocks or ice; it is deprived of life and warmth.... the soul becomes impoverished, chilled, rigid and embittered, or it falls into a hedonism unworthy of the human state; moreover, the one does not preclude the other, for blind passions always overlay a heart of ice, in short, a heart that is 'dead'."

One must start with faithful reverence for the "heritage of the past," even while humbly bumbling to deepen and expand it. Since this verticalisthenic takes place at the innersection of the vertical and horizontal, it is always necessary to do the work of assimilating new "horizontal revelations" into Revelation as such, and demonstrating their interior harmony. This is the fruit of "two faiths," of which Jesus is the quintessential archetype, that is, "the perfect union of divine revelation and the most pure humanism." To isolate one at the expense of the other is intrinsic heresy.

In fact, it is only because of this fusion that Jesus was uniquely able to combine a divine birth with a divine death, which is another thing entirely, isn't it? As UF states, prior to this, man "had only the choice between renunciation and affirmation of the world of birth and death," but now we may participate in its actual transformation, you know, one bloody fool at a time.

The paradox of the human condition is that nothing is so contrary to us as the requirement to transcend ourselves, and nothing so fundamentally ourselves as the essence of this requirement, or the fruit of this transcending. --Schuon

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Cosmic Man and the Languages of Being

I don't know about you, but I enjoy these weekly rambles into the knowa's arkive. For one thing, it's the only way I have of finding out what's in there. As I've said before, because the posts are not "composed" but improvised, they come out of nowhere and return to the same noplace when they're done with themselves.

Sometimes I think of the old days before blogging, when my only outlet for expressing these ideas was to yack -- you know, to corner some poor soul and talk their ear off. A lot of interesting stuff came out of that, but it's completely unrecoverable. Maybe it's buried somewhere in the Akashic Record under the monologues of Arsenio Hall, but that's about it. I wish someone had been following me around with a tape recorder.

This one was originally called This is Your Cosmos Speaking: Are You Listening? As always, I've taken the opportunity to tweak things here and there.


Eternity drew close disguised as Love
And laid its hand upon the body of Time
--Sri Aurobindo

Balthasar observes that “the method of each science is the correct one when that science allows itself to be determined and molded by its object.” Our “point of departure” in knowing anything about anything must be “to accept the given as it gives itself, and to allow it its existence as such, in its own truth, goodness and beauty...”

Different aspects of reality “give themselves” in different ways. This is why materialistic science is so easy compared to, say, psychology or theology. In fact, because promiscuous objects give it up so easily, many modern thinkers seize this low-hanging fruit and simply ignore the more problematic domains of soul and Spirit -- even though one of the most obvious ways Spirit gives of itself is in our inclination and capacity to know the truth and beauty that inheres in mere objects.

Now, I’m not saying I succeeded, but my book was an attempt to allow the entire cosmos to “speak its truth” to one of its members. That would be me. But how does the cosmos speak? What is its language?

As far as I can tell, the cosmos speaks -- or reveals itself -- in four principle languages: Matter, Life, Mind, and Spirit. These differing modes are not so much “messages” from the cosmos as the direct imparting of reality itself. Each of them impresses itself upon us in a different manner (and simultaneously resonates with a different part of ourselves), and it is important not to confuse the epistemological methods appropriate to each mode of cosmic expression. A mind is not a rock, although Nancy Pelosi comes close.

Each of these domains has an objective and a subjective mode. For example, matter expresses itself objectively through the abstract equations of subatomic physics. But it also radiates subjective messages through its metaphysically transparent beauty. Take a look at some of these outstanding works by the Old Master Painter (HT Assistant Village Idiot), and you will understand the phrase “metaphysical transparency.” Are you able to receive and assimilate the gratuitously truthful beauty of these images as it is given to you?

“Fully to understand beauty... is to pass beyond the appearance and to follow the internal vibration back to its roots; the aesthetic experience, when it is directed aright, has its source in symbolism and not in idolatry.... Perceived beauty is not only the messenger of a celestial and divine archetype, it is also, for that very reason, the outward projection of a universal quality immanent in us, and quite obviously more real than our empirical and imperfect ego gropingly seeking its identity.... Beauty stems from the Divine Love, this Love being the will to deploy itself and to give itself, to realize itself in ‘another’; thus it is that ‘God created the world by love’” (Schuon).

He traversed scenes of an immortal joy
And gazed into abysms of beauty and bliss
Below him lay like gleaming jeweled thoughts
Across the vibrant secrecies of Space
--Sri Aurobindo

The cosmos also speaks in a language called Life. Here again, Life as such reveals itself both objectively and subjectively. Objectively it reveals itself through the intricate language of DNA. But it also reveals itself more forcefully and directly in a way that vastly exceeds our ability to grasp it. In fact, this is one of the problems that arises as we move up the chain of being, for these realities are like “an inexhaustible light that can never be drunk up” (Balthasar). “This ‘more’... cannot be grasped, although at the same time I must say that it truly does give itself to me and does not withdraw from me.”

If Life could speak, what would it say? Forget science. For all language -- let alone the language of DNA -- is ultimately none other than the Voice of Life, no matter how you high or lo go. What poet has ever been able to exhaust the dynamic radiance of Life as it reveals its miraculous splendor to us? Could we ever “possess” or contain Life, or can we only be witnesses to its fulsome and flowing mystery? Can Life ever be shorn of this mystery and captured in any manmade system? Can it ever be reduced to a static genome subjugated by reason?

Er, no. Life is nothing if it is not a continuous rebellion against the heavy and burdensome weight of material existence, a "venturesome leap of spirit into space" (Sri Aurobindo) joyfully met by lonely matter "calling out for love at crying time" (Sri Crenshaw).

There is something about man that draws away from Life and tries to contain it -- to drain it of its “holy and manifest mystery”: “We have reached a situation in which nothing ‘gives’ itself any longer or ‘opens up’ to us from within, a situation in which nothing ‘hands itself over’ on its own initiative, and in which, therefore, thought is no longer devoted to the deepening interior source of a thing; in such a situation no opening of horizons... remains possible” (Balthasar). (I think the radical environmental movement is a ham-handed attempt to recapture this sacred mystery, which is why it is paganism by another name.)

Knowledge of any kind is only possible because Being, in its generosity, manifests its truth in advance of our even being here. No self-enclosed, post hoc mental system of man can ever be true philosophy, much less theology. To “think” in the Raccoon way is to be be a lover of Sophia -- which is to live at the eternal horizon of our being, where life pours forth from its hidden vertical source. This is true philosophy, a “love-filled longing that propels man man down his questing path...”

Desire her greatly and she will preserve you; encompass her, and she will exalt you; honor her, that she may embrace you. -- Prov 4:6-8

Speaking of which, how do we conform ourselves to -- or comprehend -- the object called “man,” when man is the subject who conforms himself to the truth that is anterior to him?

Man is the ultimate symbol of the cosmos. The literal meaning of symbol is to "throw together" or across, as if to join together two disparate things to reveal their inner unity. What does the symbol man symbolize? He is, as Josef Pieper writes, “at the core, someone becoming... not simply made as this or that, not a purely static entity but an unfolding being, a dynamic reality -- just as the cosmos is in its totality."

Only man -- and the cosmos coursing through him -- is a becoming of what he is through time, a journey from what “we are not yet to what we already are,” from the potential of the mirror to the fulfillment of the image. We have a word for man, but we must never forget that man is not man in the way that matter is matter, for only man has the task and vocation of becoming what he is.

Perhaps this is the greatest divide between secular materialists and religious realists, for the latter regard man’s life as an irreducible ought grounded in transcendence, instead of a mere is rooted in dead matter. Man is the only thing that ought, which immediately takes him out of the realm of both is and of mere things. For to do as you ought is to both transcend and to find yourself.

But what ought we do or be or know or become?

Spirituality is the science of what we already are. And what we are is an arrow shot from the stream of time into the heart of eternity. Or is it the reverse?

It is both. For “man is true to himself only when he is stretching forth -- in hope -- toward a fulfillment that cannot be reached in his bodily existence” (Pieper).

The universe is an order that is so to speak architectural, deployed from the Supreme Principle by way of intermediaries, or of hierarchies of intermediaries, down to earthly creatures....

The Universal Spirit is the divine Intelligence incarnate in Existence; it is like the reflection of the divine Sun in the cosmic Substance: God projects Himself, so to speak, into that “void” or “nothingness” which is the plane of the creature.... This Spirit is thus the divine Intellect immanent in the Cosmos, of which It constitutes the center and the heart; It penetrates as by innumerable arteries of light into all realms -- or into all microcosms -- of the manifested Universe; it is thus that God is present at the center of everything.
--F. Schuon

Friday, December 05, 2008

What Happens When We Live? (12.29.11)

Hmm. Judgement. Or as we say in America, Judgment. I'm afraid I cannot really do justice to this card in the space of a post or two. The subject is just too vast, not to mention speculative, at least for me. It's difficult enough to know what happens when we live, let alone when we die, and I don't claim any first hand knowledge of the latter, although I do occasionally see Larry King. Still, if I were to say anything definitive about it, I would just be pretending, and be no better than my competitors.

I remember The Mother speaking of this -- that there are many people who get a bit of genuine occult knowledge, and then proceed to fake the rest, sometimes without even being consciously aware of it. The result is that truth is mingled with falsehood in a haphazard way. To be honest, I also become uneasy when The Mother speaks with great specificity about all sorts of occult matters that can never be verified. I am not necessarily criticizing UF or the Mother, just saying that it's not my style. I try only say things that make sense to my readers and that can be independently verified, and avoid the oogedy-boogedy factor.

Theology is no different than any other field, in which people routinely exceed the limits of their competence and bloviate on all sorts of subjects, thereby becoming buffoons -- Paul Krugman, Richard Dawkins, Deepak Chopra, Bill Maher, movie stars, MSM journalists, etc. It's so easy for intelligence to be hijacked by narcissism in the service of omnipotence.

UF goes into specific detail about the Akashic record, but here again, I would be very interested to know how he came by such knowledge. Even in matters of spirituality, I think that extraordinary claims -- especially if they go against the grain of what is generally agreed upon by Tradition -- should be backed by extraordinary evidence, otherwise I find it a bit off-putting. This is not to say that it's wrong, only that it can make the person appear eccentric or even nuts. Faith in revelation is one thing (especially in its total context of hundreds of years of luminous commentary), but I am uneasy about having faith in one person's take, especially if it deviates markedly from the norm.

For example, a lot of what UF says about the Akashic Record makes sense, but for me personally it is nevertheless (k) and not (n), so it ends up being a kind of funeral parlor game. I've certainly never seen the Akashic Record, and although I've tried to track down a copy from our local library, it's always checked out. While it makes sense to me that all of history must somehow be "preserved" in a manner we cannot comprehend, I am content to leave it an unsaturated mystery. It's like trying to be too specific about what consciousness is. The more specific you get, the more it will elude you, sort of the way the uncertainty principle works, whereby the more you know about the momentum of a particle, the less you know about its position (and vice versa).

Is the Book of Life the "moral memory of the world?" That also makes sense to me, but again, does it really advance our understanding to reduce a mystery to such a concrete image? I am content to know that the purpose of life is to conform to our divine archetype, and that there will be post-mortem coonsequences for how poorly or how well we have done. Perhaps it's just a reflection of how I lead my life, which is to say, spontaneously. I don't know what I am going to do this afternoon, let alone when I die. I have no calendar and I never make plans, although, to paraphrase Woody Allen, after I die I do hope they have change for a twenty.

Is resurrection "the neutralization of the binary life-death?" With my resurrection body, will I be as free of terrestrial links as Michael Jordan driving down the lane? This kind of talk was specifically what I was trying to avoid with the unsaturated symbol system I used in chapter 4 of my book. As a matter of fact, that is precisely why Bion developed a similar system for psychoanalysis, in that there are many different psychoanalytic theorists with very specific ideas about how the mind works, all contradicting each other. It is not that they are necessarily wrong; it is more like the parable of the blind men and the elephant. The elephant tail really does exist, but an elephant does not look like a snake.

Let me see if I can dig out one of my old Bion books, so you can understand exactly what he was driving at.

How about that. I opened to the exact page I was looking for. That's the sort of thing I consider personally "significant," although I certainly don't expect it to be of earth-shattering importance to you. In the following passage, just substitute "religious" for "psychoanalytic":

"Psychoanalytic theories suffer from the defect that, in so far as they are clearly stated and comprehensible, their comprehensibility depends on the fact that the elements of which they are composed become invested with fixed value, as constants...." In other words, we want to convert these constants into unsaturated variables, in order to make certain that we are discovering psychic (or spiritual) reality, not merely imposing our own saturated constants. Bion sheds some additional light and darkness on the subject in his customary clearobscuro manner:

"Because psychoanalytic theories are a compound of observed material and abstraction from it, they have been criticized as unscientific. They are at once too theoretical, that is to say too much a representation of an observation, to be acceptable as an observation and too concrete to have the flexibility that allows an abstraction to be matched by a realization. Consequently a theory, which could be seen to be widely applicable if it were stated abstractly enough, is liable to be condemned because its very concreteness makes it difficult to recognize a realization that it might represent."

As a result of this difficulty -- which partly results from the attempt to use language to describe a hyperdimensional manifold that cannot be unambiguously described by language -- Bion proposed "to seek a mode of abstraction that ensures that the theoretical statement retains the minimum of particularization." He compared his approach to a kind of alphabet, whereby "relatively few letters are required for the formation of many thousands of words." He then proceeds to describe the most fundamental symbols, which needn't detain us here, but include container (♀) and contained (♂), PS<-->D (or catabolism and anabolism, analysis and synthesis) and the links of L, H, and K (love, hate and knowledge). Believe it or not, armed only with these few unsaturated symbols, you have everything you need to start your own illegal psychoanalytic practice.

The point is, if you have too concrete a theology, it may very well preclude its realization. Do you understand that? This is why the debates between the conventionally religious and the conventionally atheistic are so fruitless, because both are using overly saturated symbolic expressions. The Raccoon doesn't have that problem, since a religious experience is an occasion of O-->(n), not mere speculative (k) about O. Memorizing a lot of (k) about O just doesn't interest me. I am nobody's idea of a scholar. But I also hope I am nobody's idea of an occult wacko with secret knowledge of your destiny that I will impart to you for a price. Rather, I am a clinical psychologist with secret knowledge of your destiny that I will impart to you for a price.

Having said all that, the very purpose of the closing section of my book, Cosmobliteration, was to discuss the outer limits of theology in a poetic and unsaturated manner calculated to provide the reader with their very own "realization" of what it's about. In order to do that, it really needs to be read aloud in the proper way (as is equally true of the opening section). Perhaps I should make a you-tube video....

Thursday, December 04, 2008

They Only Come Out at Night (12.22.11)

UF next discusses the "mystery of the star" that guides us on our night journey back to the Self. If you do not realize that it is late at night and that it is dark.... well, let's just say that the sun can't help you. The star can never be seen in broad daylight, which should be a lesson to you-know-who, but it won't be. In any event, each person must seek out and locate this star for himself, for you won't hear about it on television, in college, or from science. You cannot purchase a map to the stars from some dirty hobo on the corner, unless that dirty hobo is Cousin Dupree hawking some stolen copies of my book.

We must follow this star without reserve, for "a whole world is at stake," the resurrected world of our interior being. UF cites the example of Jung, with whom I have some problems, but who nevertheless, it is true, followed his star "all his life, and followed the 'star' alone." He was no slithering Deepak, that's for sure. It's just that he ultimately confused his star with the sun, but we won't get into that.

The point is, the star should lead to the sun, not be an end in itself, for then you are dealing with narcissism or idol worship. For example, in the case of the three mages from the east, the star led them to Jesus. They did not worship the star, nor did they presumably elevate themselves for being such fantastic astrologers and open up a psychic shoppe on Melrose.

In fact, UF agrees that he is not personally satisfied with the results of Jung's work, but that his method had much in common with the way of the Raccoon, in that it partook of "concentration without effort" (i.e., playful free association), "interpretation of dreams and spontaneous fantasy," cooperation between "the fertilizing sphere (outside of and beyond the normal consciousness) and fertilized consciousness," "the amplification of immediate data from the manifestation of the unconsciousness by means of alchemy, myths, and mysteries belonging to mankind's historical past," using the unconscious (I would say "supraconscious," or just vertical consciousness) "as guide and master," and most importantly, "not identifying oneself with the superhuman forces of the archetypes -- not allowing them to take possession of the individual consciousness (so that the latter does not become a victim of inflation."

That paragraph was a mythful to digest, but I think that you could reduce it to the idea of sincerely playing in that expanding transitional space between O and (n), but with the fixed archetypes of tradition, which are not arbitrary or accidental, but as objective as the night time sky. Nevertheless, each person necessarily has a slightly different view of them.

Interestingly, UF also cites Teilhard de Chardin as someone who was unwaveringly faithful to his star, even while remaining faithful to the Church. I say "interesting," because Teilhard was one the the stars I followed in writing my book. As I have mentioned before, I kept a photo of him (and a few others) over my desk, very much like a star above my head.

And it wasn't that I literally wanted to follow Teilhard or his star, but his example of someone who faithfully pursued his star wherever it led him, despite the consequences (which in his case were quite painful -- cf his biography; The Phenomenon of Man could not be published in his lifetime. In my case, the only consequence was a book that will not sell in my lifetime).

Mainly, I wanted his breadth of vision, which was truly cosmic in its scope -- both in time and space, both interior and exterior. See if this sounds familiar: Teilhard "followed the 'star' on a long voyage: through the paths of the universal evolution of the world throughout millions of years. What did he do, properly speaking? He showed the 'star' above the universal evolution of the world, in a way that the latter 'is seen to be knit together and convulsed by a vast movement of convergence... at the term of which we can distinguish a supreme focus of personalizing personality." In short, Teilhard recognoused the star above mere Darwinian evolution, demonstrating how science and religion are fully compatible -- which they obviously must be.

In a way, the pursuit of my star was completely self-interested, in that I wanted to know how this vast universe resulted in... Bob. Not just me per se, but the very possibility of a me, or what Teilhard refers to above as the "personalizing personality," by which he means an area of increasingly complex and centrated subjectivity.

What I really wanted to understand was the how the expanding human subject fits into the whole existentialada, and in just what kind of cosmos is such a bizarre development as me possible? I focused on that mystery with all the passion I could muster, which threw off the sparks that resulted in the book. Whatever else the book is -- appearances to the contrary notwithstanding -- it is also a very personal "journal" that chronicles my attempt to bring together all the loose threads of my life. I am fully aware of the fact that someone else would do it differently, even though I am always aiming at a "universal" solution.

Of course I would like my ideas to be universal, but even if they were, it would nevertheless be necessary for each person to write their own book -- to perhaps use me as I used Teilhard, as a kind of inspiration -- a minor star, but certainly not the sun. I made reference to this at the outset of the book, on page 23, with the idea that we must all compose a symphony out of the fragments of our life, and no one's fragments are identical. It is even a kind of "metabolism" that results in the growth of a nonlocal body -- which is none other than the form of your soul.

But that is what we are after: ultimate coherence of inner and outer, time and eternity, spirit and matter, faith and reason, intelligence and wisdom, science and religion, for that constitutes peace. And one way or the other, that coherence can only come from the top. Any alternative is a non-starer. Or maybe a "twin" persecutory and vengeful flaming star that haunts and pursues you into the dust.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Pickin' Up God Vibrations (12.21.11)

Whereas the Moon has to do with reflected knowledge, the Sun has to do with the "union of intelligence and spontaneous wisdom." I found that this chapter had a lot of information that spoke to me quite directly, perhaps more than any other card with the exception of the Hermit.

For example, it goes into what I refer to in my book as "the helpful nonlocal operators standing by, ready to assist you." How does that work? UF explains in the following extended passage. Please read it carefully, because I would say that if there is a reigning dogma or catechism among Raccoons, this is one of its most important precipitates. But unlike conventional dogma, this can only be experienced subjectively, or not at all, so bring an ombrella:

"You venerate (i.e., love and respect) a non-incarnated being -- a departed person, a saint, a hierarchical being -- in a disinterested manner. Your veneration -- which includes love, respect, gratitude, the desire to conform, etc. -- cannot fail to create an invisible link of sympathy with its object. It may be in a subtle and dramatic way, or rather in a slow, gradual and almost imperceptible way -- this does not matter -- the day will come when you will experience the presence."

This is nothing like a "phantom," "ghost," or some other apparition, but rather, it is "a breath of radiant serenity, of which you know with certain knowledge that the source from which it emanates is not at all in you. It influences and fills you but does not take its origin in you; it comes from outside you. Just as in drawing near to a fireplace, that the warmth that you feel does not arise from you, but rather from the fireplace, so also do you feel that the breath of serenity in question is due to an objective presence."

Once this nonlocal relationship is established, "it is up to you to remain silently concentrated so that the relationship established is subsequently developed, i.e., that it gains in intensity and clarity -- that it becomes a meeting in full consciousness."

This is covered on pp. 228-229 of my book. The discussion may seem brief, but that was the point of the whole chapter, in that there was no point in "saturating" mysteries that can only be experienced and understood on a first hand basis.

I can't reproduce all of the symbols here, but the circle with the downward arrow inside obviously represents Christ, or more generally, the "Christ-principle," or "divine descent," whereas the circle with the upward arrow would represent authentic saints and spiritual masters, who, although few and far between, now number in the hundreds, if not thousands -- at least those who were kind enough to throw us a bone and leave behind some writings, so that we may know about them (or, more to the point, know them).

Of these, only a handful are truly first string, while many are second or third string. Nevertheless, like any third string professional athlete, they can still kick your ass. In this regard, variety is important, being that it takes all kinds to make a world, and relationships are tricky things. For example, the MSM is in love with Michelle Obama, but for me, being around her would be a verrrry looooong day, let alone life.

Let's see if there's anything else useful on pp. 228-229.... Yes, I think it pretty much sums up the situation with the minimum amount of fluff. The rest is up to you. Think of the "charge" that flows between you and your loved one. It has to be like that, only transposed to a different key of love (just as parental love is different than marital love).

For those of you who unproblematically grew up in the Christian tradition, then Christ is your master, and that's that. Even so, Catholicism and Orthodoxy obviously provide numerous other nonlocal operators with whom one may fall in love. For example, I don't want to be presumptuous, but I'll bet that Just Thomism is "in love" with Aquinas, which is precisely why they have such a vibrant and fruitful relationship.

In such a case, it is again so much more than the mere transmission of exterior knowledge, for it is simultaneously the transmission of the "container" or "matrix" of the knowledge, without which the knowledge will fall on barren soil. For example, no matter how long our scientistic jester reads my blog, none of my writing will "take root" in him, because he manifestly does not love me. Rather, he is here to resist me, so he obviously has a compelling relationship with me, but it is a perverse one -- similar, say, to a man who only wants to be around women who will reject him.

For the neurotic person, such a bond can be every bit as strong as a healthy one; in fact, in a sense, even stronger, since healthy love eventually transcends its immediate object and leads all the way back up to its divine source, whereas the unhealthy kind is solely focused on its local object, which leads to all sorts of other secondary and tertiary pathologies. (It is the same with art, by the way -- the real thing automatically transcends itself and provokes a love of the beautiful per se.)

That last paragraph on p. 228 of my book is pretty accurate. Again, I cannot reproduce all of the symbols, but these nonlocal relationships do indeed transmit a powerful (≈) that can shatter (•), give (?!) or (-?!), and bring (¶) forward from the background. What more could a fellow ask of a celestial relationship?

When I judge the merits of a spiritual teacher, I am solely guided by an intuitive sense of their ability to facilitate these critical transformations. This is why there is such an infinite difference between, say, Frithjof Schuon and Deepak Chopra. If they were here, I could ask them both to go into separate rooms and write for me an essay on, I don't know, the goal of the spiritual journey. They could even convey the identical "information," but the words of the former would be infused with light, while the words of the latter would be infused with mud (to put it mildly).

I thought Merrell-Wolff expressed it well in his classic Pathways Through to Space, which is a real-time journal of the spiritual transformation that took place once he formed an intense relationship with a nonlocal master, in his case, Shankara. He wrote of the "induction" that occurs, "a condition such that the latent and indigenous Inner Light of the individual is aroused sympathetically into pulsation and thus, ultimately, 'catches on,' as it were, for Itself."

Such an experience is obviously a pearl of great price, so we should "seize every opportunity available to come within the sphere of Those who can serve as Centers of induction," for each of them is like a mini-sun that provides light, warmth, and a center of gravity.

In book one of Gnosis, Boris Mouravieff also has a helpful discussion of this in chapter XVI, with his explanation of the 'A' and 'B' influences. One of our tasks is to form a relationship with a person who gives off the 'B' influences.

Sorry to end so suddenly, but that's it for today.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Floating Upstream Along the Ancient Celestial Trail (12.20.11)

Continuing with UF's riff on the Gospel of John, he says that it appeals to the human soul to shift its ground of intelligence from the created to the creative through a union of sun and moon. What does this mean? Let's find out.

The mode of science is entirely lunar, in that it seeks to "reflect" matter. Which is fine for science. Just don't confuse it with philosophy or metaphysics, much less theology.

The lunar mode can only comprehend that which is discontinuous, never that which is continuous. In fact, if I am not mistaken, the word "science" is etymologically related to "cut," which is what science must do in order to understand anything. But the cutting is in the mind of the scientist, and cannot be confused with what is ultimately real, and which unites the scientific knower with what he knows. Matter is atomistic, malleable, and infinitely divisible. Using only the tools of science, it is impossible to even approach the problem of intrinsically continuous and holistic properties such as life and mind.

But the Gospel of John confronts us with the creative Word, "which is the light and life of men." Here, intelligence "has the task of understanding the whole world as the organisatory act of the Word and Jesus Christ as the cosmic Word made flesh." Whereas lunar intelligence seeks to understand "that which is," this logocentric mode seeks to participate "in the becoming of that which is to be." It is not just to be "born again," but to give birth -- which is to participate in the intrinsic and eternal creativity of the Word. (This is the Voidgin Birth alluded to in my book.)

Real creativity is clearly a kind of higher life and higher life that is continuous with, or a mirror of, the divine activity. The point is, on the intellectual plane, approaching God doesn't just require a leap of faith, but a leap of creative activity -- which is also its seal of authenticity. It is again one of the things I intended to convey by the symbol O-->(n), as it is a continuous flow, "or river of water of life," not something fixed and dead.

UF writes that it involves the true union of intelligence and the intuition of faith. In the typical believer, it seems that these two modes are "engaged," but they have to move on to a true marriage, and become "one flesh." It is not simply one mode added to the other, but a real harmonious -- and creative -- union. (There is much more on this union in the following letter, The Sun, which I suppose we'll be getting into tomorrow.)

UF singles out several thinkers whom he believes approached or achieved this fusion of faith and intelligence, including Origen, Denys, Aquinas, Jacob Boehme, Berdayev, and Teilhard de Chardin. He also has a lot of praise for Bergson, with whom I again have only a general familiarity. But he includes an extended passage from Bergson that well captures what we are discussing here. He makes reference to the circularity of mere logic, and the need to break out of this closed world:

"If we had never seen a man swim, we might say that swimming is an impossible thing, in as much as, to learn to swim, we must begin by holding ourselves up in water and, consequently, already know how to swim. Reasoning, in fact, always nails us down to the solid ground."

You can no doubt appreciate the baleful consequences of our scientistic jester's mundane and earthbound intelligence, which is again in servitude to that which is infinitely beneath its scope and station: "It looks to the least developed and the most primitive for the cause and the explanation of what is most developed and the most advanced in the process of evolution.... it retreats into matter. It does something with regard to the world which would be absurd with regard to a work of art.... Intelligence which prefers retreating to flying must inevitably arrive at the impasse of absurdity.... And the absurd... this is suicide for intelligence" (MOTT).

Bergson continues: "But if, quite simply, I throw myself into the water without fear, I may keep myself up well enough at first by merely struggling, and gradually adapt myself to the new environment: I shall learn to swim.... if the risk be accepted, action will perhaps cut the knot that reasoning has tied and will not unloose."

This reminds me of the anecdote in my book about the yeshiva student who is asked if he knows how to swim: "No, but I understand swimming." The analogy with our jester is exact, whose pride forbids him from leaving the solid shore, but who nevertheless imagines that he understands what it means to dive into the Ocean. (By the way, I hope it is understood that I am not "scorning" or beating up on him, but merely using him as a handy object lesson. He will be the first to assure you that he is not in the least offended. If he were vulnerable, sincere, or honest enough to be capable of taking offense, I would handle it in a much different manner.)

So our intelligence must take the plunge in order to leave the prison of materialism: "[L]eap it must, that is, leave its own environment. Reason, reasoning on its powers, will never succeed in extending them, though the extension would not appear at all unreasonable once it were accomplished." For example, one could publish thousands of studies on the nature of walking on solid ground, but they "will never yield a rule for swimming: come, enter the water, and when you know how to swim, you will understand how the mechanism of swimming is connected with that of walking. Swimming is an extension of walking, but walking would never have pushed you on to swimming."

That is a critical point, for from the perspective of walking, the leap to swimming looks "discontinuous." But from the perspective of swimming, one can appreciate the continuity, which is none other than "the God of the gaplessness" of reality. Science sees "gaps" that it imagines the religious believer fills in with "God." But it's actually the other way around. Once one leaps into the Word, one sees how there are no gaps at all, and why it is so easy for science to fill the apparent ones!

This, in case you didn't know, is the reason why I arranged my book so that the chapters are both continuous and discontinuous, from nothing (or beyond-being) to being, matter to life, life to mind, and mind to spirit (in other words, there are distinct "chapters," even though the sentences that link them run together). Only from the point of view of the first half of each pair does the second look discontinuous. But from the point of view of the second, one doesn't just "see," but one unproblematically lives the continuity. One swims.

After all, doesn't your body easily unify matter and life without you having to think about it? And doesn't your mind easily unify intelligence, life, and matter? And doesn't the Raccoon naturally live the unity of matter, life, mind and Spirit, or O? Of course. And there is no "technique" for doing so, accept for aspiring (↑) to the nonlocal Grace (↓) that meets us more than halfway, and then coontemplatively "breathing" in its eternal rhythm. We could never do it ourselves, not in 13.7 billion years.

The unity comes from the top, not the bottom, of the cosmic hierarchy. Which is why it is indeed One Cosmos Under God.

Esoterism is not a collection of extraordinary and unknown things, but rather it is above all a less ordinary and less known way of seeing ordinary and known things -- of seeing their profundity --Meditations on the Tarot

Abandon All Hopelessness, Ye Who Enter Here
(image courtesy of the Frothy One)

Monday, December 01, 2008

Loony Moonbats and Reflected Nonsense (12.16.11)

Well, I'm back from my little mini-vacation, totally refreshed and totally disoriented. Where was I? I told you that if I stopped blogging every day, I'd lose the thread.

First things first: nice takedown of the deplorable Deepak at the Wall Street Journal. Deepak has already found out who's to blame for the Mumbai massacre: America! You see, when we fight terrorists, for some reason, we "inflame moderates," who aren't terrorists, but peace-loving Muslims. They are not to be blamed for their becoming "inflamed." But when Americans get inflamed over terrorists who torture innocent rabbis, it's our fault.

By the way, thanks to the left's disgusting debasement of language -- including by eminent moral perverts such as Deepak and Andrew Sullivan -- when one hears that the victims were tortured, one doesn't know whether to be horrified or relieved. Only tortured? Thank God!

I suppose that the next letter, The Moon, is timely, since it is also the Moonbat card. That is, it is a meditation on the task of human intelligence, which is to liberate itself from the type of magical enchantment that afflicts the secular world in general and the left in particular. There are "root causes" of Deepak's belligerent moral idiocy, and they obviously have nothing to do with poverty, humiliation, or lack of education.

Just how does one become such an arrogant buffoon? One does it through considerable movement, but it is retrograde movement, away from the nonlocal goal of vertical evolution. As UF puts it, this card "evokes ideas, feelings and impulses of will relating to the inversion of the evolutionary movement of life and consciousness, i.e., to their envelopment, arrest of movement, and retrograde movement."

Just as there are principles of growth, there are principles of existential shrinkage. In Deepak's case, he obviously fancies himself to be some sort of fount of creativity, but he is utterly trapped and enveloped within a stagnant and predictable world view. He is actually incapable of an original thought, but can only spew banalities. Nevertheless, they are "banalities of evil," since he has lost his capacity to be shocked by his own vileness. His being does not radiate, but envelops; and his mind is a swamp instead of a flowing current. Hence, the perfect breeding ground for Monsters of the Id, or mind parasites.

Now, UF points out that God has created three sources of light: the sun, the moon and the stars, or creative light, reflected light, and revealed light. Or, intellect, matter, and revelation. With regard to the moon, it is obviously inseparable from the earth, or matter, so that lunar intelligence is a "reflection" of the material world. In itself, this is not problematic. But when isolated from the Sun of creative evolution and the Stars of revelation -- well, that is how you create the barking moonbat, the loony atheist, the Queeg and all his little Queeglings.

Because materiality has only to do with the mechanical and repetitive aspects of the world. Thus, to be a moonbat is to worship matter and to convert oneself into a predicable machine that is its servant. And a machine knows nothing of starlight or sunlight, only the darkness of matter. And so the intellect is extinguished and "filled with dirt." It becomes as solid and impenetrable as rock, as our scientistic jester mechanically and repetitively proves to us day in, day out.

Again, this is hardly to say that reflected moonlight is unnecessary. To the contrary, as UF points out, "if deprived of the environment of the material world," we would be "incapable of separating out particular things from their enduring totality and grouping them into categories and classes" (because of the divisibility and malleability of matter), but also "powerless to manufacture the implements and machines" which supplement our "organs of action and perception."

In other words, as we have discussed in a previous card, the radical transcendental realism of a Plato would also result in a partial and therefore dysfunctional intelligence, because it regards the material world as totally in flux and therefore incapable of yielding any enduring truth. Likewise the "illusionism" (if that's the proper word) of a Shankara, who regards the phenomenal world as pure maya, or illusion.

As we noted in that earlier post, both Christianity and Judaism specifically sanctify matter, so that we may develop the proper relationship to it, neither elevating it to a god (pantheism, materialism, atheism, Algoreism) or dismissing it as a kind of evil illusion (manicheism, gnosticism, and many strands of new-ageism, i.e., "The Secret"). Most moonbats are an incoherent combination of the two, that is, absurdly worshiping a world that is ultimately devoid of meaning. They are the inverse of the Islamists, who wish to destroy a resistant world that does not conform to their omnipotent infantile fantasies.

Life is anterior to biology, just as consciousness is prior to matter. Matter is a kind of "congealed intelligence," which is why it is intelligible. Nevertheless, it is always reflected intelligence, and if we identify our own intelligence only with it, we will be unable to leave its sphere and "leap" into the pure intellect -- just as life could have never escaped matter if it only obeyed the laws of physics.

Now, the Gospel of John urges us -- and I'm paraphrasing UF here -- to transpose intelligence from the domain of the created (i.e., the reflected intelligence of matter) to the domain of the creative Word. This is the difference between mere knowledge and true understanding, or (k) and (n). The former is always "dead knowledge" that us bound to cause confusion if we try to apply it to the living Knower.

But the latter is living knowledge, or wisdom, which is also integral knowledge of the whole. It is the knowledge that is "in the beginning," and is therefore always creative. You will note that the atheist has no coherent or even minimally credible explanation for the genesis of the knower, which is again why his knowledge is both dead and deadening.

Oops. Out of time. To be continued.

Pictures? Okay, here we are up on the transcendental sun deck, discussing a fine point of Aquinas:

But then it was his turn to pick an activity, so we descended down to the park, into blessed matter:

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Onward Judeo-Christian Soldiers

Words worth repeating and sentiments worth nurturing (via Vanderleun):

"We knew beforehand that we are at war with an enemy. We knew that the world needs to be healed, that it oozes with a venomous darkness, and that darkness will not sit passively as we steal away its dominion. We knew that the more we fight this darkness, the harder it will fight back. We didn't fool ourselves. We decided we will fight and we will win. That is why Gavriel and Rivky went where they went. They went not as tourists, but as fearless soldiers.

"Once you are at war, you don't stop to ponder all over again -- can we win? Is this worth it? Maybe they're worse than we thought? That's deadly. If you would rather stay home and enjoy comfort while the rest of the world sits out in the cold, you should have decided that a long time ago. Now you are out there on the field of battle, you have already awakened the bear from its den, now there is no turning back.

"They are darkness. We are light. They storm the shores with death in their eyes. We come to teach compassion and acts of beauty. They carry assault rifles and grenades. We carry candles for Friday night, a Torah of wisdom, joy and beauty.

"Are we to surrender before them? Are we to stop and cry and ask, 'maybe we're fighting the wrong battle?'

"We will fill the world with light and wisdom and the spirit of darkness in men's hearts shall forever perish. They come with their guns and their might, with a god of destruction and terror, but we come in the name of the Eternal, the source of all life and healing. They and all memory of them will vanish from the face of the earth and our lamp will burn forever."


"[T]o a warrior, there is nothing nobler than a righteous war.... Men of demonic nature know neither what they ought to do, nor what they should refrain from doing. There is no truth in them, or purity, or right conduct.... Because they believe this in the darkness of their little minds, these degraded creatures do horrible deeds, attempting to destroy the world. They are the enemies of mankind." --Bhagavad Gita

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Forging our Feathers out of Language (12.15.11)

This time I'm in a hurry, and I really mean it. Need to leave for work earlier than usual today. Let's finish up with The Star before the Thanksgiving weekend, shall we? And then no more posting until Monday. Unless the mood strikes.

The next major theme discussed by UF is poetry. As he puts it, "One cannot pass by poetry if one attaches value to tradition. The whole Bible breathes poetry -- epic, lyric and dramatic..." Poetry is one of the best examples of a quintessentially human mode which defies the reductionistic schemes of the scientistic cretins. To try to capture poetry with materialism is to kill it -- like mounting a butterfly on your wall. The reason is that poetry is to language as life is to matter or mind is to life. A "scientistic poet" is a contradiction in terms.

Far from being some sort of superfluous or stupid human trick, poetry is essential for understanding the world. Only our modern materialistic prejudice makes us believe otherwise, for poetry "gives wings to imagination, and without winged imagination... no progress is possible." But this cannot be the undisciplined imagination that seeks only egoic (at best!) self-indulgence and self-aggrandizement -- you know, all those lousy little poets tryin' to sound like Charlie Manson -- but "an imagination that loves truth" and is in conformity with the hyperdimensional Real.

This is why poetry "is not simply a matter of taste, but rather one of fertility (or sterility) of the spirit. Without a poetic vein there can be no access to the life of the Hermetic [i.e., esoteric] tradition." This, by the way, is how you can tell that a Deepak Chopra (among countless others) is not a Man of Spirit, since his prose is so ugly and clumsy (not to mention, completely saturated), incapable of carrying, let alone transmitting, the "truth" he imagines he has found. It reminds me of a review I once read of Chuck Berry's autobiography. The reviewer said that Berry's prose reminded him of the sound of a tool box crashing against the garage floor.

But real poetry defies the law of gravity, and represents "the union of the upper waters and the lower waters on the second day of creation." The poet operates at "the point at which the separated waters meet" and converge, which facilitates a "flow" between them. Surrealism meets at the other end -- where the lower waters of the unconscious meet with the ego to produce mostly nightmares.

Being that nothing human should be alien to us, surrealism (which is really subrealism) has its place, but real overmental poetry uses language to bring down something of what cannot be expressed in words. You can tell when this is occurring, because such poetry has a real power, light, and force. It is written with a combination of "warm human blood" and the "luminous blood of heaven." Real poets cast a bright bloodlight over the mindscape to reveal things that would otherwise go unrecognosed.

It it interesting to me that two of my favorite teachers, Frithjof Schuon and Sri Aurobindo, relied solely on poetry in their later years. In fact, Aurobindo considered himself primarily to be a poet. As he wrote, "the poet's eyes perpetually go behind the thing visible to the thing essential, so that the symbol and significance are always in a state of interfusion." In other words, poetry directly transmits something of which it is attempting to describe with words. To get lost in the words can obscure that to which they are pointing, which infuses their very "substance." One has to let oneself go and allow the words to lift one up to the realm from which they are a descent.

The loftiest form of this would be the mantra, which is a sort of combination of prayer and poetry. It represents "a highest intensity of rhythmic movement, a highest intensity of interwoven verbal form and thought-substance, of style, and a highest intensity of the soul's vision of truth" (Aurobindo). Each of the three must be present: rhythm, thought substance given verbal form, and the soul's vision of truth. The Psalms of David are an example of (Judeo) Christian mantra.

Why rhythm? Because this gives us "something as near to wordless music as word-music can get" (Aurobindo), which in turn allows the poem to transmit something of the Life, Feeling, and Intelligence that transcends us. It helps us to exchange the jagged rhythms of the herebelow for the more stately and regular rhythms of eternity, which are analogous to the procession of the seasons or alternation of night and day.

Poetry again transforms language from the closed circle to the open spiral. Note that deconstruction does this as well, but in that case, it is a death spiral that goes straight down into the infrahuman mud of the tenured. It is a result of the natural desire of the soul to break free of language, but in the absence of recognition of the Divine hierarchy. Therefore, it is like the exchange of one hell for a worse one. At least the materialistic hell of our scientistic jester is boring, predictable, and "safe" (for the ego).

In fact, UF feels that the task of the future is to give science poetic wings, in the manner attempted by Teilhard de Chardin. This is surely what Bob attempted in his own lila playbook. To appreciate the book, you have to oppreciate what he was endeavoring to do, which is simply to allow science to once again soar with the human spirit, up where it belongs, instead of being a kind of ball and chain that binds us to the lowest realm of reality, down where it bewrong. Which is ironic, since the ball and chain were created by man's spirit.

Truly, we can forge our fetters out of language, which results in the flightless turkey of materialism. Or, we may forge our feathers word by Word to achieve vertical liftoff.

Clearly, the song of existence changed chords with the appearance of Life, but our scientistic soloists largely continue to drone on in the key of matter. However, it is no longer adequate to be just a materialistic banjo-picker sitting barefoot on a little bridge of dogma; rather, one must have at least a nodding acquaintance with a few other instruments in order to play the cosmic suite....

The celestial score lends itself to diverse interpretations, but surely one of them cannot be "music does not exist." For at the end of the day, we are each a unique and unrepeatable melody that can, if we only pay close enough attention to the polyphonic score that surrounds and abides within us, harmonize existence in our own beautiful way, and thereby hear the vespered strains of the "song supreme."
--One Cosmos Under God: The Unification of Matter, Life, Mind, and Spirit

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Evolution in Fact and Fantasy (12.11.11)

Letter XVII, The Star. This is the aracanum of the evolution of life and consciousness. To say that life or consciousness "evolve" is equally to say that evolution is none other than life and consciousness deployed on the plane of matter. As the previous arcanum speaks to the problem of construction, this one discloses the secret of growth, which is spiritual through and through. To meditate deeply upon true growth is to meditate on the workings of Spirit.

(By the way, I apologize in advance if this post is a little skeletal and telegraphic. I just didn't have time to flesh things out in a fully coherent manner, so you're on you're own.)

Growth is always a process of complexification of interior relations, whereas construction is an exterior phenomenon only. The tower is built by piling fully autonomous brick upon brick, but this is clearly not how a body (much less, mind) is "built."

Rather, biology -- and evolution -- presuppose a nonlocal and internally related cosmos, otherwise life -- let alone mind -- could never get off the ground. If Darwinism does not acknowledge this first principle of nonlocal wholeness, it is a metaphysical house built upon sand, for interior wholeness cannot somehow be shoehorned into an atomistic and materialistic paradigm after the fact. We can only "comprehend" evolution at all because of the interior cosmic wholeness that permeates both mind and matter.

A machine has a oneness of function, but no interior unity. In contrast the body and mind have an essential wholeness which permeates each of the parts. Furthermore, you can take away many of the parts of a human being -- legs, eyes, pancreas -- and it is still a whole human being. But if you take away the wheels, seat, and handlebars from a bicycle, it's not a bicycle anymore. This is because the human being is animated by a nonlocal essence, which is his true form.

A living, growing, or evolving thing has three essential requirements: it must be a partially open system that exchanges matter, information, or energy with the environment; it must be in a system state far from equilibrium; and it must exhibit autocatalysis, in which the end product of a reaction feeds back into the system and facilitates further growth of itself.

A living thing is full of innumerable flowing circles (both internal and external), whereas the tower is static and "dry," so to speak. And even if it requires some exchange of energy -- like an internal combustion engine -- the engine obviously doesn't engage in autocatalysis. It will always remain an engine no matter how much gas you put into it. (I should add that to grow is to convert the circle to a spiral, more on which in the following card, the Moon.)

UF has a lot of regard for the philosopher Henri Bergson, with whom I have only a nodding acquaintance. However, Bergson's ideas have a lot of overlap with Whitehead's, and I prefer my philosophy to be made in America, if possible (Whitehead was at Harvard when he switched from mathematics and physics to philosophy).

Like Whitehead, Bergson recognized that "the essence of duration is to flow, and that the fixed [or fully exterior] placed side by side with the fixed will never constitute anything which has duration." In other words, what Bergson calls "duration" is a result of dynamic flow. (Of course, we now understand that even the most solid-looking object is a buzzing iteration of subatomic processes.)

As mentioned the other day, it is strictly absurd to speak of growth in the absence of final causation, or teleology. The final cause of the world is what Teilhard de Chardin calls the "Omega point," and what we call O. It is "that toward which spiritual evolution is tending," which would constitute "the complete unity of the outer and inner, of matter and spirit" -- who is none other than the resurrected Jesus Christ.

As Omega point, Jesus is the cosmic archetype, or logos, who both participates in history while transcending it and "luring" existence in his wake. Thus, he is simultaneously -- and necessarily -- fully present in the diverse modes of past, present and future, each an inevitable reflection of the other. History "drew" God into it (so to speak), just as God draws history back to Him.

Here is how UF expresses it: "I am activity, the effective cause, who set all in motion; and I am contemplation, the final cause, who draws towards himself all that which is in movement. I am primordial action; and I am eternal waiting -- for all to arrive where I am."

Which is why we live "outwardly" in world of dualism, but "inwardly" (or inwordly) in a spiritual world that transcends and heals the wound of duality, seen in light of the future unification of all -- which is always available now.

This is to unify science and religion, evolution and salvation, or what we call salvolution. In fact, this is precisely what I was attempting to express on page 261, which may seem less clear, but is actually more clear than the above, since it is designed to "lure" one up to the Subject under discussion:

What you was trying to find, you done had it all the time, only God is left, now left behind: we swallow our tale and the Word is finished. So much straw anyway. Adameve, Christomega, lifedeath, sundown, Sonarise: Finn again, we rejoyce: salvolution, evelation, ululu-woo-hoo-aluation!

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Word is Sufficient to Your Whys (12.09.11)

So, specialization is a kind of hypertrophy, or imbalance, that leads to a spiritual impasse. In most people the imbalance is obvious, in others more subtle.

UF mentions the guru or fakir who can do what we cannot do, for example, lay on a bed of nails or walk on hot coals. I am reminded of this fellow, who can actually make his brain waves stop when he meditates, for what it's worth. Which apparently isn't much, since he can't even recognize the elementary fact that Tony Robbins is a grotesque con artist who takes advantage of lost, stupid and vulnerable people. As such, one must ask: if this is enlightenment, then truly, what is it good for?

UF writes that the Cross is "mortifying and vivifying at the same time," for it represents the law of evolutionary growth, which is none other than "perpetual dying and becoming." This will lead not to "impasses of specialization, but rather 'throughways' of purification -- which lead to illumination and end in union." The Raccoon chooses the transmutation of perpetual death and rebirth over the folly of mechanical tower-building. The growth that results is a side effect of a life properly lived, not something you attempt to "impose" on your life from the outside with "techniques" or "secret knowledge" or "expensive platitudes" -- not even from Tony Robbins:

The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed upon the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how (Mark 5:26, cited in MOTT).

Anyone who teaches "techniques" for knowing God is lying to you. For how does one teach real sincerity, real aspiration, real surrender? These are all a result of interior transformations. As UF puts it, the "lotus centers" awaken naturally "in the light, warmth and life of the true, and beautiful and the good, without any special technical method being applied."

Similarly, there is no place for "ready made answers to all questions," in that a genuine spiritual question is a crisis and the answer is "a state of consciousness resulting from the crisis." That is a point worth emphasizing: spiritual growth is consciousness of a reality; it is a new "container," not merely a different content in the same old container. But the new container will transform -- either suddenly or gradually -- all of the old content.

Have you noticed how all of the false (yes, a question can be false), stupid, or petty questions instantly evaporate amidst a genuine existential crisis? This is why we know that the "global warming crisis" is anything but. A real crisis has a liberating quality, in that it liberates us from all of the petty concerns that usually rule our lives.

It makes me wonder if this isn't one of the reasons why there was so much more wisdom in the past, and why our universities have become such bullshit factories. I suppose that if you are a lifetime tenured ward of the state, it "liberates" you to spend all of your time fantasizing about the evils of George Bush, or manufacturing crises about "torture" or civil rights for terrorists. It's almost as if the absence of real crises causes the tenured to invent them. One could say the same of Hollywood.

This was one of the purposes of the symbol system outlined in chapter four of my book -- to avoid the impasse that results from religion becoming a mechanical system. The point is not to replace religion, but merely to help prevent it from becoming saturated with a fixed and mechanical meaning. This is something that human beings habitually do, that is, attempt to contain reality within their own little manmade container, when that is strictly impossible. The moment God becomes contained and saturated, then you're no longer dealing with God, but with your own container, or graven image.

This is why the very last thing John says is a caution to the reader that if one were to attempt to chronicle the whole story of Jesus, "even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written" (John 21:25). Is this not a severe rebuke to the fundamentalist bibliolaters? In other words, the number of potential books exceeds the carrying capacity of the world container itself.

It all comes down to the error of seeing the world atomistically instead of holistically. This also leads to the ideas of "surgery" and "divorce," or, in psychoanalytic parlance, splitting and projective identification (i.e., fantasied evacuation of the contents of one's own mind).

As UF writes, "it is the marriage of opposites' and not their divorce" which constitutes the proper approach. Importantly, this is not a "compromise," but a true union. UF notes that "the 'lower self' is the cross of the 'true Self' and the 'true Self' is the cross of the 'lower self.'" This reminds me of Wilde's comment that the only cure for the senses is the soul, and that the only cure for the soul is the senses. Each might well say of the other: can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em.

It would be easy to, like the atheist, simply project and dissipate the true Self. Likewise, it would be easy to, like the fundamentalist, split off and repress the lower self. But we want to transform and divinize the lower self in a harmonious union of matter and spirit. In the absence of this fluid and dynamic union, the mind hardens and desiccates into a tower that can never keep pace with mother evolution. Hence the thunderbolt from father, which, by the way, Joyce describes on page 1 of Finnegans Wake as sounding like


It is the same with the marriage of science and religion. I have no trouble marrying the two in such a way that each benefits from the union and produces particularly beautiful children. Just yesterday I read about one of Chesterton's novels, in which a priest is disguised as a common thief, and is eventually discovered. When the priest asks how he sniffed him out, Father Brown answers with words to the effect of, "Easy. You attacked reason. It's bad theology."

But one could say the same of the modern atheists. We know they are thieves because they attack sound theology, which is bad logic. Although in their case it's grand larceny, because they steal from the western tradition in order to destroy it. Yes, "the mechanical sciences have divided the clothing of the Word and they dispute amongst themselves for priority in the application of the universal principle," or attempt to absolutize their little corner of His tunic, still fresh with warm blood.

In contrast, we do not "in any way take part in dividing the clothing of the crucified Word, not in drawing lots for its tunic." Rather, we strive "to see the crucified Word clothed in appearance by the mechanical world." Which is why the Word is sufficient to all our whys.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Wondrous Thunder Rends it All Asunder (12.07.11)

Just a short post in order to make some headway on The Tower of Destruction....

How do we prophylactically avoid having our tower blasted by the thunderbolt? Easy. We will invite a bad case of thunderclap if we misconscrew evolution. That is, to express it in biological terms, extinction -- the ultimate bolt out of the blue -- occurs as a result of overspecialization, which confers a temporary advantage but ends up "painting one into an evolutionary coroner," so to speak.

Why are human beings atop the evolutionary heap? Because we specialize in generalization, in a way that no other animal can or ever will. In human beings, intelligence has wrapped around itself in order to produce self-consciousness, and therefore abstract thinking -- or virtual manipulation in the absence of the immediate object.

In my book, I advanced a theory -- which is mine -- of how I believe it came about that human brains became capable of hosting divine souls. Again, it has to do with the evolutionary development of the neurologically incomplete and helpless infant, and all this entails (in short, the infant "creates" the empathic and caring mother, who in turn enlists the protecting father). Space doesn't permit going into all of the details here, but the point is that humanness emerges within this trialectic transitional space. Infants specialize in helplessness, which is the gateway to human generalization.

Because of this arrangement, human infancy (in the collective) represents a kind of infinite potential, which is the precise opposite of specialization. Who could say what human potential remains to be actualized? One could not say this of any other animal, for their existence and their potential are roughly equivalent. The only exception is when humans interfere and bring out potential that would have otherwise remained latent, e.g., turning a mere canine into a seeing-eye dog, or Mike Tyson into a boxer.

So human beings are the ultimate generalists, and this is one of the keys to avoiding the tower and the thunderbolt. UF writes that it involves "the way of general growth or that of 'humbling oneself to the role of a seed,'" in contrast to "the ways of specialization or those of 'exalting oneself by building towers." In short, it is the way of growth vs. the way of building.

Now, growth is not just some local biological phenomenon somehow attached to an otherwise dead and fully exterior cosmos. Frankly, it is both absurd and incoherent to suggest that interiority could have ever resulted from pure exteriority. In other words, biological, psychological, and spiritual growth are not to be thought of as bugs, but features, of the cosmos.

And what is growth? It is a kind of dynamic interior unity with a developmental vector. Growth always wishes to "realize" its possibilities, so it is unavoidably teleological. To say "growth" is to say "teleology." Otherwise it isn't growth, just "expansion" or perhaps "metastasis," that is, the disorganized manner in which a cancer "grows."

The tower -- because it is a narrow specialization -- always leads to a spiritual impasse, at least if one attempts to elevate it to a metaphysical generalization. This is what scientism does, and the spiritual consequences are obviously catastrophic, being more or less synonymous with "hell."

For example, other animals "act out" evolution, but only human beings -- because of their generalization -- know about it. As a result, evolution -- ipso facto -- can never "contain" human beings. Rather, we contain it -- so long as we are contained by O.

For ultimately, it all comes back, down, and up to O. Last night I read a nice passage by Sri Aurobindo, in which he discusses the realization of God. In it, I will substitute O for Brahman, because I think it expresses it in an exceptionally clear and concise manner (one could no doubt locate a similar passage by Eckhart or Denys):

"We have to perceive O comprehensively as both the Stable and the Moving. We must see it in eternal and immutable Spirit and in all the changing manifestations of universe and relativity.

"We have to perceive all things in Space and Time, the far and the near, the immemorial Past, the immediate Present, the infinite Future with all their contents and happenings as O.

"We have to perceive O as that which exceeds, contains and supports all individual things as well as all universe, transcendentally of Time and Space and Causality. We have to perceive O also as that which lives in and possesses the universe and all it contains."

This passage touches on all the main characteristics of the "higher third" of God-realization, which is the ultimate generalization, but simultaneously the ultimate specialization, in that human beings "specialize in God." For at the end of the deity, he is the vector of our interior growth. Failing to follow that vector results in a corrective thunderbolt. If you're lucky.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Erectile Dysfunction, or What the Thunder Said (12.06.11)

Of thunder of spring over distant mountains
He who was living is now dead
We who were living are now dying
--T.S. Eliot, What the Thunder Said

I think we're through with the Devil. On to the Tower of Destruction. This is an extremely important card, so huddle up close to the screen and turn up the volume. It has to do with human evil, or "to evil which does not come from the outside, but which certainly has its origin within the human soul" -- not from the body, which is an innocent bystander in man's vertical fall. Depending upon how you look at it, the fall has to do either with willfulness or ignorance, which leads to "illicit" or illegitimate knowledge, and separates us from the Creator. Either way -- i.e., by way of intellect or will -- human beings are exiled from the vertical and plunged into the horizontal.

Now, as UF explains, Genesis is set in a garden, which is a very different thing from a jungle -- which is completely wild -- or a desert -- which is more or less barren -- or a town -- which is a symbol of human invention, and where nothing grows spontaneously. (There is a pneumacosmic reason why the big cities are the main habitats of the Blue Meanies).

But a garden is what? It is a combination of vertical and horizontal energies, of planning and spontaneity. A beautiful garden, as the Frothy One can attest to, involves a harmonious combination of Spirit and Nature; of Spirit within nature, or Nature rising to Spirit. One thinks of Japanese gardens, which so transparently convey the supernatural within nature.

UF links this to the true mission and vocation of the Raccoon, which is "to cultivate and maintain the 'garden,' i.e. the world in a state of equilibrium and cooperation between Spirit and Nature" Coons are gardeners, not technicians (even if we do technical work). Unlike these modern excuses for gardeners, we do not merely "mow and blow." Rather, we cultivate and we maintain.

The Tower of Destruction symbolizes everything the garden is not. As UF explains, it comes about as a result of "the collective will of 'lower selves' to achieve the replacing of the 'true Self' of the celestial hierarchies and God with a superstructure of universal significance fabricated through the will." You could say that it's built prick by prick.

But the human will, alienated from spirit, cannot create anything of truly universal, or cosmic, significance. It can only create a tower, which is surely fated for the divine wrecking ball -- which is a mercy, never a punishment. For example, our scientistic jester is always kind or clueless enough to share his silly little towers with us, which we never fail to destroy at a glance. And yet, he still no doubt prefers to live amidst their haunted ruins.

For the Tower of Destruction teaches a law that is both general and universal, meaning that it "operates both on a small scale and on a grand scale, in individual biography as well as in that of mankind, and in the past, present and future equally." It is another one of those things in the Bible that didn't just happen once upon a time, but which happen every time. I read yesterday that the Pope had a prophecy of the present economic collapse over two decades ago, and who could say that he was wrong? That is what Towers do, i.e., collapse, whereas "the only solid reality is the word of God.'' Suffice it to say that the Big Three will not outlive the Trinity.

The fall of a once wallstrait oldparr is retaled early in bed and later on life down through all christian minstrelsy. --Finnegans Wake

Here is what eventually happens to imaginary Towers and to the people who live in them: the thunderbolt: "he who builds a 'tower' to replace revelation from heaven by what he himself has fabricated, will be blasted by a thunderbolt, i.e., he will undergo the humiliation of being reduced to his own subjectivity and to terrestrial reality" -- i.e., back to the ground (which, of course, has two very different meanings; there is nothing wrong with humbly living on the ground, for that is where one will find the ground of being).

This is the thing I don't understand about scientism. Surely the scientific materialist knows up front that his knowledge is provisional and relative, and that it will eventually be brought low by the thunderbolt, even if it is only the thunderbolt of a new scientific development. And yet, they fall in love with their cognitive McTowers and cling to them as if they are holy writ.

This was the real dispute between Galileo and the Church, between relative vs. absolute truth (however awkwardly handled by the Church, which has been absurdly overblown anyway by radical secularists; it is indeed one of their "founding myths"). Does the earth really revolve around the sun? No, not at all. Only from a relative position. From the standpoint of later scientific developments (i.e., relativity), Galileo has been transcended, and the Church is still here.

Besides, the geocentric theory remains intrinsically true, if looked at vertically. That is, the human being is indeed the "center of the cosmos," in that only he recapitulates and embodies all the vertical degrees of creation within himself. The light of Truth is infinitely more central than sunlight. What could be more obvious?

If your little tower is not mercifully blasted by the thunderbolt in this life, then it will be severely blasted upon your demise. Evidently, that is when you will have the opportunity to bear witness to the full extent of your folly. You won't even have to be judged by God. Rather, you will judge yourself, like a child who transitions from, say, Piaget's stage of concrete operations to formal operations, and can objectively look back on his previous mode of cognition because he has transcended it. When you transcend, its as if you move out of the old drafty tower and into a real mansion.

I remember interviewing an unsophisticated Spanish-speaking patient a number of years ago. He was chronicling his various complaints, but didn't have the word for "impotence." He struggled to convey his meaning, and eventually confided that my manhood has fallen.

Phall if you but will, rise you must: and none so soon either shall the pharce for the nunce come to a setdown secular phoenish. --Finnegans Wake

But with the erection of manmade towers, the thunderbolt is a mercy, depending upon what one does with it. Think of it as an extreme form of (?!), for example, in the experience of Paul on the road to Damascus. You might say that Saul the tower crumbled to the ground and became Paul the tree.

Much more to go. To be continued.

I sat upon the shore
Fishing, with the arid plain behind me
Shall I at least set my lands in order?
London Bridge is falling down falling down falling down

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue States (12.05.11)

It is not just imagination + will that engenders demons; rather, it is intoxication of will and imagination that does so. As a result, they always go too far; they release inhibitions and partake of other forces that have nothing to do with the matter at hand.

Again, this is something the left does by definition; since they deny the vertical, it returns in a disguised and perverse form, which provides them with a preternatural energy that conservatives can never match. The moment a conservative becomes "ecstatic" about politics, he's no longer a conservative. Intoxication certainly has its place. Just not in politics.

Obviously, young people are more prone to the varieties of psychic intoxication, so it is no surprise that Obama won the election because he took two thirds of the youth vote (the vote was 50-50 for actual adults). To paraphrase someone, these children wish to give us the full benefit of their inexperience.

I'm trying to imagine what the world would look like to me today if I were a 21 year old with a skull full of liberal mush.... Would I be susceptible to Obama intoxication? I don't know. I was a pretty cynical guy, but most cynics are just disappointed idealists, which I suppose I was. My first presidential vote went to Jimmy Carter, who, for those of you below a certain age, was the Obama of the time. He too promised dramatic change, which came in spades -- soaring inflation, increased unemployment, emboldened enemies, loss of respect in the world, diminished confidence at home. And yet, it didn't matter. I still voted for him again in 1980.

So was I drunk, or just stupid? I think mostly just the latter. You have no idea what it was like back then. There was literally no way to gain access to conservative arguments unless you were a National Review subscriber. There were a few conservative voices, but because they were so rare, you just assumed they were crazy, or eccentric at best, and probably evil. It was very much a cultural attitude, because you were basically trained to have a kind of visceral rejection of all things conservative, mainly because they tossed cold water on your intoxication. I am continually amazed that so many members of my auto-hypnotized generation are still completely swaddled in this retrograde cultural attitude....

I will continue this self-indulgent musing below, time permitting. For now, let's get back to The Devil.

UF points out that even Marx and Engels could have avoided intoxication -- and prevented the birth of a hideous genocidal demon -- if they had actually just considered the plight of the poor in a detached and disinterested way. But instead, they went far, far, over the line, into cloud cuckoo land, insisting that God did not exist, that history obeyed scientific laws, that "all ideology is only a superstructure on the basis of material interests," etc.

It is the same with the Darwinists. If they would just maintain a little sobriety, instead of drunkenly careening into areas in which they have nothing to contribute, all would be well. But like a drunken know-it-all at a cocktail party, they just can't stop themselves. They'll tell you everything about love, beauty, truth, God.... It's all wrong, of course, but that's the thing about being drunk -- it feels good.

I am once again reminded of Paul McCartney's first acid trip. His mind was so filled with ideas, that he had his assistant following him around, so he could dictate them to him. He remembered one particularly inspired idea, and insisted that his assistant take it down word for word, and then put it away for safe keeping. The next morning, they eagerly retrieved the scrap of paper, upon which it was written:

There are seven levels.

But it might as well have been: random mutation + adaption, or the workers are the means of production, or I think therefore I am, or abortion is protected by a Right to Privacy, or members of the same sex can "marry," or God is dead, or Hopeandchange.... None of these ideas "work" unless the person is intoxicated in some way. Sober up, and they're either banal or make no sense.

Of the founding fathers of the left, UF writes that "there is no doubt that with them it was a matter of an excess -- a going beyond the limits of competence and sober and honest knowledge -- which they did not in any way doubt, having been carried away by the intoxicating impulse of radicalism."

You must understand that the radical wants to be intoxicated -- with outrage, with self-righteous anger, with smugness, with superiority, with iconoclasm, with fear (e.g., of "domestic spying," or the "theofascistic takeover of the nation"), with "injustice." Like any other drug, radicalism is addictive because of the feelings it engenders. This, I think, explains why so many of my generation refuse to grow up -- because they are literlly addicted to the feelings produced by radicalism.

For example, they do not want racism to be over. For a white liberal, it gives such an intoxicating feeling of being on the side of righteousness, that it's impossible for them to let it go. For you Raccoons of color out there, you probably realize that every white liberal condescendingly imagines that he is noble Atticus Finch, and that you are poor helpless Tom Robinson. And I imagine that all the racial grievance hustlers -- if they aren't just outright sociopaths, like Al Sharpton -- imagine that white people give a lot of thought to race, when they actually couldn't care less (at least conservatives). Personally, I'd never think about race if liberals weren't obsessed with it.

By the way, a boneheaded -- and intoxicated -- commenter compared opposition to the redefinition of marriage to racism. But opposition to "gay marriage" isn't learned. Rather, it is innate. Anyone with a rightly ordered soul is naturally opposed to it. Rather, they have to unlearn what is natural and normal in order to be passionately pro-homosexual marriage.

I well remember being "homophobic" as a boy, but I was never racist. But this innocent homophobia wasn't learned. In fact, I had no idea what a homosexual was. Rather, it was just the innate knowledge that boys should act like boys -- that there was an ideal to which we should aspire. Boys who didn't were suspect. It was a kind of mutual self-policing, like fighting in the NHL.

In fact, it's a little perverse to even call it "homophobia." Rather, it was really just about learning The Art of Manliness, which all boys need to do -- especially today, when manliness is opposed on all sides by passive-aggressive liberal wimps for whom whining is a virtue. Marriage is one of the principle ways that boys become men. Therefore, it is no surprise that liberals want to undermine it.

That is the real agenda behind the intoxicated fury to redefine the institution. I think also that homosexuals imagine that "marrying" would allow them to "grow up," when that is hardly the problem. More often than not, homosexual behavior is specifically a rebellion against growing up, and all it implies. I don't have time to explain, but again, there is a lot of good information at NARTH for the bi-curious.

In contrast, racism must be learned. Yes, I know it is ubiquitous, but it is nevertheless learned. It is really about cultural difference, and race is simply a handy marker for this. In the case of my son, for example, his best friends are a Japanese boy (I mean real Japanese -- he doesn't speak English); two children of a black and white couple; an adopted black child of a white couple; and a child of a white and asian couple. Plus, his mother is a Jewish-Catholic, his father a Vedanta-Christian. He has never mentioned anything pertaining to race, and I don't imagine he ever will unless we teach him that it is somehow important. Being that he won't be attending a public school, he'll be shielded from the racial obsessions of the left, at least for awhile. He will have to learn that race is somehow important, which I imagine will be increasingly difficult, since Obama will be the first president of whom he is consciously aware.

The left also doesn't want poverty to end, because this too would eliminate the cause of their righteous indignation. Otherwise they would define poverty in absolute instead of relative terms. So long as they define it in relative terms, a certain fixed percentage of the population will always be "poor," no matter how fat and affluent. (On his program yesterday, Dennis Prager had an economist who explained this in an extremely lucid and sober manner; can't think of his name.)

Back to the card. Any form of radicalism is given force and momentum by the intoxicated desire to "change everything utterly at a single stroke. And it is this fever to *change* everything utterly at a single stroke which gave birth to the demon of class hatred, atheism, disdain for the past, and material interest being placed above all else, which is now making the rounds in the world."

You see how it works? The ideology legitimizes the intoxicated expression of envy, anger, murder, whatever. It is what allowed Bill Ayers, for example, to want to attempt mass murder in good conscience. When you're full of that much righteous rage, what else can you do? He still has no regrets, because he is still drunk. But like all drunks, he stays drunk in order to avoid the pain of regret -- regret for a wasted life spent wasted on ideology.

Again, this is the counter-inspiration of the Devil, and it is a caricature of spiritual grace and transformation, for as one descends down into the inconscient (↓), something rises up to meet you (↑), which produces the intoxication and gives birth to a third thing.

Whoops. Out of time. To be continued....