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.