Sunday, January 04, 2009

Who Died and Left the Holy Spirit in Charge?

Since yesterday's repost promised "more on which tomorrow," here is the post that followed, now reedited with the magic of 20/∞ handsleight. Sorry about the length. What can I say? I'm just following orders.


So many interesting and sometimes touching comments yesterday. I can see that we'll probably dwell on this topic for awhile, because in a way, it is "everything." For if there is no vertical, no human ascent, and no divine descent, then there is no way out of this absurd and meaningless existence.

But thankfully, the cosmos is not a closed loop but an open circle -- or spiral -- with a way in, up and out: “The ‘good news’ of religion is that the world is not a closed circle, that it is not an eternal prison, that it has an exit and an entrance.... ‘Perdition’ is to be caught up in the eternal circulation of the world of the closed circle... [whereas] ‘salvation’ is life in the world of the open circle, or spiral, where there is both exit and entrance” (Meditations on the Tarot).

What do we mean by "vertical" and "descent?" When you think about it, most of our knowledge falls into the "as if" category. For example, we really have no way to visualize what's going on in the quantum world, but it is "as if" it sometimes behaves in a wave-like manner, other times like particles, depending upon how we look. In reality it is neither. These are just analogies to try to wrap our minds around what's going on "down" there.

"Down" is another one. Why is the subatomic world "below" our macro world? For that matter, why is the unconscious mind "below" the conscious, or the past "behind" the present? Sometimes merely tweaking your analogy brings new understanding. What if the unconscious is the past within the present, the realm of the unthought known? Is the mind a computer? Or is it a hyperdimensional organ? Is Iraq Vietnam? Or is radical Islam nazi Germany? Different analogy, different reality.

The fundamental axiom of esotericism, "as above, so below," actually applies to most of our knowledge, in the sense that, without even thinking about it, we resort to analogy to understand realms that are inaccessible to our senses. For example, there isn't really a genetic "code" or "blueprint." In reality it is neither of these manmade categories. Rather, it is what it is, which is entirely mysterious -- impossible, really. Likewise, time is a "river," but what is it really? Who knows? How can there be anything other than eternity?

It gets even more problematic when we try to discuss something as mysterious as the mind, for how could the mind -- which is the unThought container of everything -- ever contain itself? Here we can only use analogy -- which means in a sense that, on a meta-level, the mind is an analogy-making organ, or the very "link" between various dimensions and realms.

However, just as in religious disputes, you would be amazed at the academic fights that go on between people and their beloved analogies. It's easy for an ignoramus to ridicule the Christian world, which formally split in 1054 over the filioque controversy, but that is nothing compared to what goes on in the reified airheads of academia.

I got a real taste of this in my psychoanalytic training, a discipline that has many religious trappings. It has a founding prophet (Freud), a group of original disciples, a dogma, an orthodoxy, evangelism, a method of salvation, and various initiatory rituals. It eventually split into various hardened camps that were, for a time, quite hostile to one another. I've been out of that world for awhile, so I'm not up to date with the politics, but there was a time when the members of one school would dismiss the other school by saying that their members were "insufficiently analyzed" -- in short, that they only believed what they did because they were more or less crazy. This is very similar to one sect of Christianity saying that another is damned to perdition over this or that doctrinal difference.

And yet, it would be completely wrongheaded to take this as an excuse to descend into a wimpy syncretism or odious relativism. For I think we can agree that, whatever the mind is, it is what it is. It isn't any single one of our models, but neither is it all of them put together, i.e., integralism. The truth is nevertheless out there (to employ another analogy).

Yesterday I spoke of the "descent" of intelligence that occurred in me at age 29. Fortunately, it occurred at exactly the same time that I discovered the works of the British psychoanalyst W.R. Bion, which assured that my intelligence became a fluid thing instead of hardening into this or that dogma. For there is no end to the mischief created when intelligence mingles with some narrow and hopelessly partial viewpoint. When this happens, it is almost always for extra-epistemological reasons, usually narcissistic in nature, other times having to do with an emotional need for security or a failure of imagination. One way or another, mind parasites are providing the energy.

Human intelligence can only go so far before it becomes detached from imagination, so that people at the extreme high end of the IQ scale often lack imagination and become unbalanced spiritual cripples. Think of the typical proud MENSA type, whose IQ may be higher than yours, but who knows nothing about Spirit. They are essentially "idiot savants" with a warped and specialized perspective on reality. The same thing can happen in the other direction with an artist who has a brilliant imagination unmoored by the intellect or morality. The greatest art, such as Shakespeare, is infused with both the highest intelligence and deepest imagination.

But so too is the greatest science, for what is science but a "probe" that extends into the unKnown and allows us to think about reality in a fruitful and generative way? Good science makes you feel more alive to the mystery, whereas bad science always demystifiies the world. Remember, "mystery" is hardly an absence of knowledge. Rather, it is a means and a mode of knowledge, precisely. To be immersed in the mystery of being is not to be lost in an obscure cloud of ignorance. Rather, this mystery is the generative ground of all -- it is O.

As I have said before, most narcissists feel that they are in some way "special," and better than others. But the fact is, they usually are special in some area, whether it is looks, or musical skill, or academic brilliance. One's narcissistic pathology can easily attach itself to any of these gifts, so there are plenty of intellectuals whose intellect is more or less in the service of their narcissism and exhibitionism. As applied to spirituality, this combination is particularly deadly, for it ultimately means that one is covertly co-opting God for the glorification of one's own ego.

Now, it is axiomatic that God resists the proud. To a certain extent, those who know don't speak of it -- or do so with reluctance, or at least discretion -- and those who blab about it to just anyone don't know. There is even empirical research documenting the fact that people who truly have had transformative "peak experiences," or full on, life-changing ingressions of the vertical, rarely speak of them. For one thing, they have a sacred quality that brings with it an instinctive reluctance to cast pearls before swine. But this cannot be an absolute rule, or no one would speak of God! Nevertheless, it is a good rule of thumb. Those who eagerly and recklessly presume to speak for God are most likely talking through their hats. For one thing, one must be authorized to do so -- not by some earthly religious body, but from above. Here again we are touching on the subject of "descents."

The Gospels tell us almost nothing about Jesus' education, but it seems doubtful that he received any formal theological training. Nevertheless, when he first encounters the religious authorities, they are astounded by his ability to speak as "one who knows" -- with such intrinsic authority. From whence did this authority come? Clearly not from man or from any manmade institution. Rather, he was authorized "from above" (to say the least).

Now, you might ask, where does this leave Bob? Where does he get off speaking of these things? Who gave him the authority? That's a very good question. In my case, I am very aware of my limits. When my descent came, it came in the form of understanding. Suddenly, I understood spiritual reality in a way that I had previously only understood intellectually -- which is to say, did not understand. However, the only "authority" I possess is your understanding, as both come from the identical Spirit.

Thus, I do not feel that I am overstepping my bounds by merely trying to share -- never force, and never argue or try to convert -- my understanding with others. This is why I say it is more like singing. Not to say that I am an "artist," or anything like that. Rather, merely to say that it's not an intellectual thing. It just is what it is, and I'm glad some people enjoy it. If they don't, that's fine too. That's why I don't want to get into arguments with trolls. Nor do I wish to become known, except by a very narrow group of people. How to reach that group without exposure to the wrong types is an inevitable problem, but so far I can't really complain. We only get one or two trolls at a time, and the wrong types rapidly lose interest.

I might add that I certainly realize that I am not vertically authorized to be any kind of direct transmitter of grace -- a "guru" type person, as it were. Yes, you could say that this is like conceding that I am not God, but obviously, untold spiritual mischief is caused by people who overstep their boundaries and do just that. It's not so much that I am tempted to do this, but there is something within many people that tempts them to confer this gift upon others, which many spiritual frauds are quite happily identify with. There is no question that there are beings who are authorized to do this -- genuine saints and true theologians who are themselves transmitters of grace. But they are on an entirely different plane, and they are not to be confused with a money-grubbing psychopath such as Deepak Chopra.

But me? I humbly pray only for a deepening understanding and the ability to express it to others who might benefit from it -- to be the discussion leader. That is more than enough for me, because it keeps the descent alive by "prolonging" it into the horizontal on a daily basis. Plus, the feedback and comments flesh it out and make it all the more vividly present and real.

Speaking of my abject humility and desire for anonymity, don't forget to vote early and often, starting tonight at midnight (voting lasts for a week, and I think you can vote every day). Don't worry, we won't win, but we don't want to embarrass ourselves. Plus, at least a couple of those blogs are downright evil, from what I've seen. Let's just say "moral equivalence."

The 2008 Weblog Awards


Blogger julie said...

Hm. Going back to the seven year thing, if I really look at where I was between 28 and 29, there was definitely a crisis phase. I was teetering on the brink of a secular horizontalism which, had I followed that path, would likely have been pretty self-destructive. Instead, thankfully, I was prOdded in another direction. I may not have ended up here until a couple years after that, but the change in direction began somewhere around that time.

1/04/2009 09:06:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, bear in mind that if you think of your life as a temporal fractal, the 29th year would repeat the essential strengths and themes of the self, along with the terrestrial conflicts that resulted from the family climate. Again, I look at this metaphorically, as there are definitely times in our life that we "reopen," so to speak.

1/04/2009 09:17:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

Age 28 - 32 marks the fabled - (in astrological terms) - Saturn return in everyone's natal astro chart.

Saturn, the big green queasy guy, provides us with a reality check nonpareil. Saturn underscores the areas in which we need discipline, attention, work. If you've been living in lala land, Saturn will kick your nethers. This is not a bad thing. You will thank him later.

1/04/2009 10:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Yes, it's no saturnalia.

1/04/2009 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Will, you have no idea how accurate that is :)

1/04/2009 10:39:00 AM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Saturn, huh?
Well, I needed something to blame it all on. Saturn will do. And I'm now in the fourth month of the eighth of these seven year cycles, as well as being in the first week of a new year, and frankly it all just seems as tedious as hell right now. I'm down for the count, and the demons and parasites are having a field day in my head and gut. I'm sick of dealing with lousy mental health. I'd just as soon sleep this one out. But the mess needs to be cleaned. There's only me to blame for the mess, and only me to clean it. A day at a time. Today's the first.


1/04/2009 11:00:00 AM  
Anonymous jwm said...

...make that the fourth month of the ninth of these seven year cycles. One more reason to be cheerful.


1/04/2009 11:06:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"I might add that I certainly realize that I am not vertically authorized to be any kind of direct transmitter of grace -- a "guru" type person, as it were."

You realize of course, that you just blew our Cult cred's... now we'll never get that sleek church biz jet, or fawning accolytes to fetch latte's for us.

Oh well, we'll probably always have trolls who think we do, that'll have to do I suppose.

1/04/2009 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

JWM said "A day at a time. Today's the first."

Yep. Problem is, of course, that today is always the first. Just when you think you're getting to tomorrow, you're back to being in today.

1/04/2009 11:17:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Of 8 x 7, Rudhyar says "the third cycle begins. It is the time for man to face the Spirit, and perhaps to become transfigured by the Spirit -- or by his Work. Man becomes oriented toward death or immortality."

1/04/2009 11:17:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Julie said "...if I really look at where I was between 28 and 29, there was definitely a crisis phase. I was teetering on the brink of a secular horizontalism which, had I followed that path, would likely have been pretty self-destructive."

Yeah, same here. I had the very clear realization that I could get more serious about the music business... or get married, grow up, and have a life (I figured the order was necessary for completion - fortunately my wife played along).

The next years, as Gagdad said "... would repeat the essential strengths and themes of the self, along with the terrestrial conflicts... " in different areana's and perspectives. It was a process of reworking myself, not I think by real changes in the way of 'replace last years model with the new and improved edition", but more as a theme in a symphony merely hinted at in the opening, becomes the dominant action and melody, while the former recedes to trills by the flutes and oboes.

I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I'd gone with the other choice, would those emphasis's still have opened up into the transformed theme, or would there have been a cachaphoneous crack up?

I'm quite happy with never knowing for sure.

1/04/2009 11:33:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

Bob, I'm digging around in The Rhythm of Wholeness, which has numerous references to "cycles," but I can't spot where Rudhyar explains the seven year cycles. Are you referring to a different book?

I recall that when this subject has come up in the past, at least three Raccoons stated that the 8X7 cycle seemed especially forceful.

1/04/2009 12:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Martin T. said...

At the risk of being labled as a troll would I rain on your parade if I pointed out there is a "vertically authorized" church out there? Being gifted with the Holy Spirit is just fine but we need that juncture of horizonal and vertical in the world to help us hold onto the Authentic otherwise we just drift.

1/04/2009 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Martin, there are more than a few raccoons who are serious members of traditional, very vertically-oriented churches. Churches are vital to the health of a culture, in point of fact. In the past, Bob has been a strong advocate for choosing a tradition and working towards Truth within the framework of that tradition.

There are others of us who, for whatever reason, haven't been called to traditional forms of worship. Generally, this is not for lack of trying. But churches are designed to bring knowledge of God to the maximum number of people; they can't be a perfect fit for everybody, no matter how much we might wish it were so.

Whatever your exterior framework, each person's journey toward truth is still of necessity an individual pursuit. Speaking personally, I'm kind of a wonky peg, neither square nor round, and I've yet to find a real metaphysical hOme in any church. Should I force myself to conform in a place that will ultimately turn me away from God in frustration, or is it better that I hang out here with a virtual coongregation where my thirst for truth and discovery is slaked on a daily basis, and where I have made real (if modest) progress in opening myself up to God?

"Being gifted with the Holy Spirit is just fine but we need that juncture of horizonal and vertical in the world to help us hold onto the Authentic otherwise we just drift."

You are Absolutely correct. Believe me, I know what it is to just drift. But that's not what is happening here.

1/04/2009 12:36:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...


I'm quoting from The Astrology of Personality.

1/04/2009 12:47:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

... which he published in his 42nd year.

1/04/2009 12:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Petey said...

... but as the church fathers say, the stars incline but do not compel...

1/04/2009 12:51:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

In an unawakened consciousness they can compel, sho nuff.

A higher consciousness engages them in preparing for and undergoing spiritual initiations.

1/04/2009 01:21:00 PM  
Anonymous maineman said...

Well put, Julie. And, of course, everything you say is true as it applies to this site. Still, I wonder if Martin doesn't have a point in the sense that churches are a means of getting certain things done that would not otherwise be possible.

Seems to me that a lot needs to get done in this day and age, which I take as a call to action, as well as contemplation. And the preservation or the rebuilding, whichever it is to be, will have to come from the churches, no?

Anyway, I've stepped up my search lately. In fact, it's begun to dawn on me that I may well end up back where I started -- I was baptized Catholic

1/04/2009 01:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

Yes, I'm thinking about infiltrating, I mean, becoming a Muslim, since they need the most help.

1/04/2009 01:38:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...


"In an unawakened consciousness they can compel, sho nuff."

Oh, my, indeed.


"...churches are a means of getting certain things done that would not otherwise be possible."

I agree 100%. In fact, I actually made an effort this past year to go back to church, a local Catholic church since that's mostly where I was raised, too. It just didn't quite fit, even though I really wished/ hoped/ prayed it would. That's not a disparagement to the Church, simply an observation that, for me personally, I am either not ready or not called to be a member at this point in my life. I would still recommend it for anyone else, as I think it's a very good thing, even a necessary thing for serious seekers. It's just not my thing right now.

1/04/2009 01:52:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Remember, "mystery" is hardly an absence of knowledge. Rather, it is a means and a mode of knowledge, precisely. To be immersed in the mystery of being is not to be lost in an obscure cloud of ignorance. Rather, this mystery is the generative ground of all -- it is O.

Ho! That's a keeper among keepers, Bob! Bravo Zulu! :^)

1/04/2009 03:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Sean said...

"Being gifted with the Holy Spirit is just fine but we need that juncture of horizonal and vertical in the world to help us hold onto the Authentic otherwise we just drift."

To me i certainly seemed/appeared to be drifting when i was trying to fit myself into all the different modalities over the last 30+ was obvious to others and myself that i wasn't a good long term fit whether it was Catholicism (childhood),
Transcendental Meditation or 20 years of Eckankar. i made it past Wayne Dyer,Deepak and other assorted pricks of Light taking what i needed and drifting onward.

One Cosmos and Bob's book altered my focus in such a fashion that i feel happily enfolded in the largest driftnet imaginable w/ little possibility of running out of swimming room. it seems to me the definition of freedom vs. Liberty...drifting aimlessly always subject to the misty dark deeps or in this Ocean of Love and Mercy bounded by the Holy Spirit and having access and communication with all the aquaticoons.

whew..where did that come from?

wv:entedy...that splains that

1/04/2009 03:13:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Aquaticoons! :D
Now there's a funny series of mental pictures...

1/04/2009 03:55:00 PM  
Blogger James said...

I'm 33. In the last five years my life has changed completely. I think I'm going to need a few years to sort it all out.
And of course Saturn kicked me in the nads. I have a good idea of were my life would be without it. It isn't pretty. I'm grateful for the second chance.
I went to Catholic services for the second time in my life today. It felt like I was home. (And although I was sitting in the back by myself I ended up surrounded my a lot of beautiful single women.) He works in mysterious ways. :-)
It has taken me about two years to reach this point. Opening up to God doesn't happen over night. Thanks folks for showing me the way.

1/04/2009 05:08:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...


In my defense, I think you'd be surprised at how many of my readers have returned to orthodoxy in one form or another. In fact, I'm sure I have a better conversion rate than the Jehovah's Witnesses.

1/04/2009 05:32:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

I myself have joyfully returned to orthodox worship of the fearful god Yottle.

1/04/2009 06:00:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

Yottle, for those who don't know, is a partially deflated soccer ball. Yottle is currently residing in a heated garage.

I'm in a congregation consisting of two.

On another note: is it my imagination or do the new word verifications have an unusally poetic ring to them?

"sanqual" - could be something out of Carlos Castanada.

"nonfar" - yes, everything is nonfar, as far as I'm concerned.

1/04/2009 06:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I had any authority, I would grant to Bob the authority to teach.

This is de facto; the Blog teaches. Bob is the author. He has been granted "authority" by is readers.

With this caveat: the commentator is rite: there is little need in this world for more authorities spinning a creed.

Fortunately, bob is a sythetist and not an innovator (meant in the bad way) so imbibing won't hurt so much.

Except beware the "failure of compassion." That is the bugbear on this blog.

Unknown Friend.

1/04/2009 07:07:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

And if I could, I'd grant you the authority to learn.

1/04/2009 07:18:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Will, I was thinking of Yottle recently. If I could find your garage, there might be a congregation of three ;)

wv: secia - the color of nostalgic memories wherein one wishes to secede from the present.

1/04/2009 07:49:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

apstle: a wrshipper wh has frgtten the mst imprtant letter in the wrd gd

1/04/2009 07:51:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Hail Yottle

The Blessed One [peace be upon him] no longer resides in a closet?

1/04/2009 07:56:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Perspective: failure of compassion

1/04/2009 08:11:00 PM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

Of 8 x 7, Rudhyar says "the third cycle begins. It is the time for man to face the Spirit, and perhaps to become transfigured by the Spirit -- or by his Work. Man becomes oriented toward death or immortality."

56/57 was right there for me in 2008, total upheaval. My head exploded (not literally; that would be gross) and I had to step off the career treadmill to save myself. 'Course, this was before the economic collapse which I failed to prognosticate. Oops. So 2009 starts off with no tracks.

I feel childlike a lot of the time now, blown out and empty, interested in everything. My wife says I suffer from Attention Surplus Disorder.

It doesn't pay the bills though. So I have to jump back into the shark pool again. Can't honestly say I'm looking forward to it, but if it gets us through the next 7 years, I'm good with that.

[wv] raptiver - baptized in rhythm.

1/04/2009 10:37:00 PM  
Blogger robbwindow said...

anonymity is important and should always be respected. Great post Gagdad Bob. This blog is very good and if I get the chance I shall pop back and vote when the polls are up.

1/05/2009 01:31:00 AM  
Blogger Brazentide said...

@ Sean

You spent 20 years in Eckankar? For a while I happened to live about 3 blocks away from the Temple of Eck (no, not the one on Venus) At any rate, I suppose hue didn't find what hue were looking for there.

In my experience, most that have decided that the Catholic Church isn't for them have done so due to their (often superficial) childhood exposure to it. Unfortunately, scarce few Catholics venture beyond the obligatory Sunday Mass, and some CIBOs ('B' is for baptism) don't even get that far. As your local Catholic Parish's primary work is the salvation of mankind, it tends to focus on the bare minimum of do's and don'ts to get the job done.

Moving beyond the trappings of your local parish and into real spiritual growth requires reading, praying and meditation (and eventually contemplation) as well as the Sacramental foundation/pinnacle . This part of the journey falls on ourselves, the grace of God himself, and the assistance of a good spiritual director.

My advice is when looking for a good outfitter for your spiritual journey, you can't go better than the Catholic Church (either Latin or Eastern Traditions) They have the best experience, they have the best quality, and they've been in business for over two thousand years.

1/05/2009 06:17:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Well, you know me - I would recommend an Orthodox church, but be careful and look with steady patience. Often there are modern Greek parishes that are that, modern and Greek... but the Antiocians, the OCA, the ROCOR - (hey, even the Ukranians are good too!)

By the way, our latest primate (Jonah) has said an interesting thing. While on one hand you have liberals crying and wailing that we should be compassionate and give handouts to everyone regardless as to whether our handout will ultimately hurt them or not, while many conservatives urge to move the needy to channels where they can get real help and to not let yourself be emotionally manipulated by them. His suggestion was unique (and in the right way, I think.) He suggested, simply, that we talk to these people - not give them a handout so we 'feel' like we've done the Lord's command and become temporarily relieved of the guilt of our success or whatever, but just relate to them, man to man. Sometimes that's what is really required. They're not a 'salvation vending machine' - as per the social justice/reconcilliation progg crowd, but a person. Also we may discover that we can help them for real instead of simply enabling them in what got them there. That's true 'justice' - in the sense in which the Lord meant it - i.e. the Just Shall Live By Faith, eh?

A thought there, for ya, since we always say, "We show our love for God by our love for our neighbor."

Also, trolls should note, true love does not seek, but rather, gives; so the notion of coming here and complaining that one's viewpoint is not embraced is quite simply self-seeking.

Also coming and offering a teaching that one thinks will help - based on a very shallow knowledge of the premises - is often also an attempt at self-seeking. How does one know? When that teaching is rejected (which it mostly always is) what is the response? For real love, it will not be resentment or even annoyance.

Partially the reason for the 'force field' is this - repulsion reveals true intent, and also fashions a better dialogue, since few discern a truly needed teaching on a cursory reading.

Blessings of the feast (Theophany) y'all.

1/05/2009 07:17:00 AM  
Blogger simpletom said...

"Thus, I do not feel that I am overstepping my bounds by merely trying to share -- never force, and never argue or try to convert -- my understanding with others. This is why I say it is more like singing. Not to say that I am an "artist," or anything like that."

I, for one, am grateful for your singing. It is always perfectly on pitch. Bravo! I'll keep my singing coonfined to the shower...

1/05/2009 09:42:00 AM  

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