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: