The Cosmic Gulf War and the Struggle for Integrated Wholeness
I notice that in the voting, we have the dubious distinction of being the #1 non-Catholic blog in the universe! As you know, Mrs. G. is going through the RCIA program, which she is on track to complete this coming Easter. Now I'm ambivalent about following in her footsteps, because then I could only say #5 Catholic blog in the universe.
To follow up on yesterday's remarks, it is obviously important to maintain the distinction between evolution and natural selection. Evolution is a fact. Natural selection is a theory that attempts to account for the fact of evolution in a hopelessly incoherent, grossly incomplete, and philosophically naive way.
[One important point to bear in mind that the nature of our explanation will have much to do with the "scale" of our inquiry. I remember trying to explain this to my bewildered inquisitors during my dissertation defense 20 years ago. Newtonian physics works perfectly well on the human scale, but breaks down at the quantum level, where a new explanation is needed. Likewise, quantum physics cannot be reconciled with relativity on the cosmic macro level.]
[It is just so with natural selection, which explains some things while unexplaining many others, depending upon the scale. On the properly human scale, it only works in a comprehensive way for minds that have already become "materialized," so to speak. It doesn't work for those of us who have transcended materiality, i.e., who identify with the soul, or "psychic being," which is clearly anterior to natural selection, even while "participating" in the drama of cosmic evolution. I might add that Genesis obviously has extraordinary explanatory power, just not in the manner believed by the fundamentalist. To reduce it to a kind of materialism does great violence to scripture.]
As Will suggested, it would be contradictory to God's own nature to deceptively create the universe in such a way that it only looked 14 billion years old, or misleadingly throw in some fossils that make it look as if life appeared 3.85 billion years ago, or toss in human remains indicating that Homo sapiens sapiens has been wandering the planet for at least 100,000 years. Divine omnipotence does not include the ability to act contrary to the Divine nature -- which is not deliberately deceptive, to say the least. God wishes to be understood. He is not a deceiver. Indeed, he is not just our trans-parent, but the archetype of metaphysical transparency.
In response to Petey's statement that God does not give us the precious gift of spiritual intellection (which specifically integrates heart and mind in a higher unity) only to render it a farce with a literalism that undermines it, one reader suggested that he is content to close his mind in favor of receiving "the Water of Life." In other words, for this person, there is no relationship between "the waters of life" and our divine intellect. I don't think this is what God intended for us either -- to have to disable our most precious gift in order to believe in him. That would be like me telling Future Leader, "here, you can have all the toys you want, so long as you don't play with them."
I am going to try to pull together an argument from a number of diverse strands here, so please be patient. Oddly enough, I want to start with Thomas Barnet's The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-first Century.
One of Barnet's key points is that there is what he calls a "functioning core" of economically developed and politically stable states that are integrated into the global system with deep connectivity. In the days of the cold war, the world's "core" was the United States, Western Europe, Japan, and a few other places, all open, interlocked, and flowing back and forth in an infinitely complex way with information, goods, currency, cultural memes, etc.
Since the time of the cold war, much of the non-integrating gap has become part of the core. In particular, during the 1990's, globalization rapidly expanded the size of the core, now encompassing Eastern Europe, India, and even China to a certain extent. In 1980, the core represented only about 10% of the world’s population but encompassed around 2/3rds of the planet’s productive power and economic wealth. Today the core encompasses roughly half the world’s countries, but has grown to almost 90% of the world’s GDP.
At the edges of the core is the "non-integrating gap," those nations and cultures that are not part of the core. According to Barnet, the most likely threats to U.S. and international security always come from the non-integrating gap. What these people specifically reject is connectivity to the core, usually for deeply psycho-cultural reasons (often masquerading as "religion" or economics. For example, the Palestinians don't hate Jews because they are poor, but are poor because they hate Jews).
To cite just one example, globalization tends to challenge traditional gender roles. If it begins to extend into a culture in which control over females is the source of male identity and power, it will be resisted. As Barnet put it in an interview, "What scares most people, when globalization comes in, is the social change. You go in with those kinds of markets and networks, I guarantee you, you are messing with people’s definitions of wives and lovers and mothers and sisters and daughters and families and education, and the definition of the good life. And when you do that, it’s typically going to be educated young men who look at that package and say, 'you know what? This is not what I signed up for, and I’ll be willing to fight and kill and die under the most perverse conditions to prevent the social change that I find reprehensible.'"
This is the context in which to understand the threat from Islam. The Islamic world is obviously not integrated into the world's core -- not just economically, but in every other way -- culturally, epistemologically, psychologically, scientifically, psycho-sexually, religiously, comedically. Just as President Bush has attempted to argue, one of the keys to our future security lies in finding a way to integrate the Islamic world into the functioning core.
Now, I am sure I am not doing justice to Barnet's complex and sophisticated argument. But I wanted to take it in another direction, for the first thing that occurred to me upon hearing him lay out his model was how similar it is to the individual human mind. For the mind too is a complex open system with a "functioning core," but with non-integrating gaps that I have called mind parasites.
In order to picture what I'm driving at, you first have to reduce consciousness from its hyperdimensional manifold to the image of a three-dimensional sphere, like the earth. Imagine your conscious ego (or "self," if you like) as the "functioning core" of your consciousness, that part of it that you have "colonized," so to speak. But this colonized part comes up against the edge of many non-integrated gaps in the sphere of consciousness. One of them is called the unconscious.
When someone comes in for psychotherapy, it is fair to say that this is always more or less the problem -- that they are suffering because they have aspects of themselves that are not integrated into their core. These aspects seem to have a life of their own, and literally operate like an autonomous foreign power within the psyche. You have your interests. The mind parasites have their's.
Psychotherapy is literally nothing more or less than becoming more integrated for the purpose of becoming more actualized, for your general ability to actualize yourself will be limited by those parts of yourself that you have not integrated into your core. You can ignore them -- as we tried to ignore Islamic radicalism for so many years -- but it will place a huge road block before your evolution, as we can see with regard to the world. It is as if everything is on hold as we try to find a way to integrate these "split off" Islamic parasites.
Now, having said that, you mustn't imagine consciousness in static terms, like a two dimensional map where consciousness expands into more territory. Rather, you must imagine it as a ceaselessly flowing entity, just like Barnet's model of the interlocking core, through which all sorts of transactions and exchanges are taking place. The healthy mind doesn't so much "colonize" the unconscious in a static way, as live in a fruitful, dialectic relationship with it (and the same obviously goes for Spirit, the more of which you "colonize," the more there is to discover). You can tell when you are in the presence of someone who has no rapport with his unconscious (let alone, supraconscious). They will appear rather concrete and inflexible, and lack the supple spontaneity and creativity of the child. Here again, materialism always ends up doing this to a mind, one way or another, for it quantifies what is intrinsically qualitative; to a certain extent, the mind is quality as such.
It is said that science consists of the reduction of multiplicities to unity. It is the same with psychotherapy and with spiritual growth. It is by reducing our static and unintegrated multiplicity to greater dynamic wholeness that we expand our being -- literally grow the soul -- similar to how the world's core expands through deep connectivity between its parts.
A fine example of multiplicity standing in the way of the growth of unity is to maintain in the teeth of all evidence to the contrary that evolution does not exist and that the world was somehow created 6,000 years ago. In order to maintain such a view, it can only exist as an "unintegrated gap" split off from everything else we know about reality. It must exist in closed and frozen form in a dark corner of the psyche, just like an unevolving traditional culture. It is then renamed "faith," an abuse of the term if ever there was one, for faith is specifically openness to the divine reality. It is never closed, much less static. It is Life itself.
But it is equally stagnant to believe in a naive Darwinism that specifically denies the soul, which is ironically the very "part" of us that evolves in this life (in the sense of evolving toward and filling in its own archetype).
Now God is not only One, but the very ground and possibility of Oneness (and bear in mind that this One is not a "quantity" but a quality from which quantity is derived). To exist in a fragmented state is specifically to "reject God" in one way or another. Let thine eye be single, and thy body shall be full of light, as the Master said.
Shifting gears again, I would like to conclude with something from Meditations on the Tarot, which addresses exactly this issue in Chapter 1 -- which is the archetypal chapter for understanding the rest of the book. There our unknown friend notes that the purpose of esoterism is to help "the deep and intimate layers of the soul" to "become active and bear fruit." In short, meditation on certain religious principles "makes us fertile in our creative pursuits, in whatever domain of spiritual life," somewhat like an "enzyme" or "ferment" which reaches across the great divide and stimulates our spiritual and psychic life. Note that this has nothing in common with literalism or fundamentalism, which are wholly static and do not appreciate the more important function of religious symbols, which is to unify ourselves in a deeply connective and dynamic way -- both within ourselves and with God, for the two are a function of one another.
In fact, later the Author notes that all practical esotericism is founded on the principle that "it is necessary to be one in oneself and one with the spiritual world in order for a revelatory or actual spiritual experience to be able to take place." Furthermore, "the tenet of the basic unity of the world is the same with regard to all knowledge -- without it no knowledge is conceivable.... We declare that the world is not a mosaic, where a plurality of worlds which are essentially strangers to one another are fitted together, but that it is an organism -- all of whose parts are governed by the same principle, revealing it and allowing reduction to it."
But to splinter the unity of knowledge -- and of the spiritual world -- by maintaining a "non-integrating gap," a spiritual ghetto of literalism, is to act counter to the divine will and to ultimately reject God in his integral wholeness. And this nonintegrated gap will always be at war with oneself, with other people, with the wider world, with reality, for God cannot be reduced to a stubborn little island of personal mythology.
"You only know that which is verified by the agreement of all forms of experience in its totality -- experience of the senses, moral experience, psychic experience, the collective experience of other seekers for the truth, and finally the experience of those whose knowing merits the title of wisdom and those whose striving has been crowned by the title of saint" (MOTT). Integrate all of these, and you are an I-mage. Fail to do so, and there will be a gulf between your core and your unintegrated gaps. And that means a perpetual gulf war.