Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Cosmo-Drama and the Reality of Time

Okay, Theo-Drama. Let me first clarify something that was said yesterday, because it goes to the heart of the matter. One anonymous commenter thought I was trashing non-dual mystics such as Sri Ramana Maharshi. However, one would really have to distort what I said to arrive at that conclusion. One would have to have an agenda -- a narrative even -- and be playing a role in a drama with me as bad guy.

Bear in mind that I said quite clearly that I was not using his example for the purposes of criticism but comparison. My only point is that his acosmic, impersonal, and ahistorical mystical view is not reconcilable with Christianity, as traditionalists apparently believe. In other words, in no way can we suggest that Christ was nothing more than a non-dual mystic, even the "highest" one; nor can we say that Ramana Maharshi was the only begotten son of God. The two points of view might both be worthwhile, but they cannot be said to convey the identical truth.

Yes, I disagree with Schuon on the equivalence of revelations. What can I say? I've said many times that Schuon wouldn't even like me, let alone agree with me, even though I absolutely hold him in the highest regard, our differences notwithstanding.

I am actually very interested in the reconciliation of Eastern and Western religions (cf. Henry LeSaux/Swami Abhishiktananda). After all, I am again not arguing Christianity from the inside out, but from the outside in. I am coming toward it from a neo-vedantic tradition. Or perhaps "tradition" is not the correct word, since Sri Aurobindo is another one of those people whom traditionalists find completely unacceptable. Schuon never mentions him by name, but you can tell when he's referring to him, because he always snarls when doing so. Same with Teilhard de Chardin. For Schuon, they might as well be Deepak.

And why do they find him unacceptable? For a number of reasons I won't bore you with, but I would say that the central one has to do with the reality of time. You could say that the traditionalists emphasize the reality of space over time; or, to the extent that they talk about time, they see it either as static or as winding down into the moral entropy and chaos of the End Times. In this scenario, man's best times are behind him, and history is pretty much all over except for the fight over who's the bigger victim.

Example?

Okay, here: "Time is but a spiroidal movement around a motionless Center" (Schuon). Is this true? Could be. But if so, a lot depends upon which way the spiral is moving, i.e., toward the center or away from it -- or "ascending" vs. "descending." For the Christian it is always doing both, and it is up to the individual to hitch a ride on one wave or the other, the centripetal force or the centrifugal farce.

Now, within the absolute, time and space must be unified; or, to put it another way, from our side of things, i.e., the relative, the Absolute breaks out into its two primary modes, time and space, which are "co-equal," the one being a reflection of the other. As Schuon writes, "to say Absolute is to say Infinite, the one being inconceivable without the other. We can symbolize the relation between these two aspects of Supreme Reality by the following images: in space, the absolute is the point, and the infinite is extension; in time, the absolute is the moment, and the infinite is duration."

Here again, this is not compatible with Christianity, the reason being that it leaves no place -- literally -- for Theo-Drama. In other words, if absolute time is a point, then nothing meaningful can "happen"; there is no "stage" upon which the drama can take place. And if time is just infinite duration, there can again be no drama. Rather, reality would be like one of Wagner's operas: endless waiting in order to discover that there was no point anyway.

I hope this is all clear. No disrespect is intended to my spiritual betters. It's just that, among other things, Christianity "divinizes" both time and history. Indeed, it wouldn't be going too far to say that Christianity transforms mere time into real history, the latter of which is a movement toward something instead of mere duration or decay. If time is not moving toward its own fulfillment, then it really is just a tale told by a tenured idiot, full of sound and fury but signifying a lifetime gig and adoring coeds.

"Ironically," even so-called progressives Christianize time, but they do so without Christ. For in their implicit metaphysics, time is also of the essence, except that it is only moving toward wholly immanent and material ends. They take the cosmos bequeathed to us by the Christian tradition and turn it upside down, precisely.

For example, the disgusting Deepak inhabits this bizarre, de-Christianized Christian cosmos, writing today that Obama promises us a "real" dawn whereas Ronald Reagan only gave us a "false" one. Deepak writes of how President Reagan hated women and trees, and wanted homosexuals to die.

I'm not going to go there. Let us just say that the Windy Hindi is anti-Christic to his rotten core, and leave it at that. What a hideously depraved man. I think I'm gonna hurl.

Now, one of the reasons Balthasar had to spend some 3,000 pages explicating the Christian theo-drama, is that the intrinsically dramatic nature of Christianity was apparently no longer evident to people, just as he had to spend some 4,000 pages on The Glory of the Lord, since the divine beauty was no longer obvious to folks. Rather, it seems that for many Christians, their faith is reduced to just that faith, but faith in what?

HvB notes that drama is one of our intrinsic ways of knowing the world. This is a strange fact, and too little remarked upon, but I certainly see it in my four year-old. That is, very much like our nightDreamer, human beings create and inhabit narratives from the moment they can think about reality. Therefore, the world of drama is not something "added to" our humanness, but is part of our very nature. HvB writes of how the child "translates its world of experience into theatrical terms, conceives things, reacts to them, in speech and in all forms of play."

Indeed, Future Leader is always playing various roles, through which he is simultaneously being himself. Only if something goes wrong in development does this become inverted, and the role starts playing us. But at this point in his development, one can clearly see how drama is central to his articulation of the self. When I put him to bed, I always tell him stories in which he is the main actor, whether he is a fireman, policeman, army man, or superhero. For him, these stories are literally a kind of food. They both nourish and structure his existence.

So, we cannot avoid narratives, no matter who we are. For example, the Darwinian, like Deepak, also lives in a bizarrely de-Christianized drama, as we witnessed yesterday. Try as they might, they simply cannot inhabit the boring world of metaphysical Darwinism, the reason being that it is literally humanly uninhabitable.

In other words, Darwinians unconsciously convert science into an exciting drama of "progress," when progress is precisely what Darwinism excludes. Rather, there is only change, and change is not drama. Imagine going to a film in which the characters and action merely change, but for no reason.

Again, this would be a kind of temporal analogue to the non-dual mystic who lives in a de-temporalized space, so to speak. For if time is mere change without purpose, then ultimately, nothing is really any different, or of any more value, than anything else.

In this regard, you can see that nihilism is a kind of "reverse mysticism." A Darwinian is not permitted to say that a man has more objective value than an amoeba. The "journey" from amoeba to man is just one inconceivably long string of accidents. Therefore, it is not really a journey at all. Rather, that's just a phony narrative we superimpose on the facts, simply because we would like reality to mean something.

But it means nothing, which again makes us wonder why Darwinians ware jumping for joy over the discovery of that fossil. Why joy? I don't get it. Who cares if there are eight wonders if the eighth wonder proves that wonder is completely pointless? Let's grant Darwinians their fantasy, and suppose that this fossil finally proves that human existence is meaningless. Why would that be a cause for glee instead of sadness?

Unless -- unless we are again dealing with an unconscious narrative that is a satanic inversion of the Christian narrative. Could it be that metaphysical Darwinians are parasites on the history they wish to destroy? Yes, of course.

A brief aside: one of the reasons I am able to embark upon this adventure in Christianity is that Sri Aurobindo cleared the way by converting the non-dual mysticism of advaita vedanta into an adventure in cosmic evolution, very much analogous to Christianity. Indeed, the best book on Aurobindo is called The Adventure of Consciousness, the point being that consciousness has a purpose and a vector. Aurobindo immediately saw the implications of Darwinism, but placed it in a much wider context of what we might well call Cosmo-Drama.

In turn, the B'ob came along and wrote a book called One Cosmos Under God, which endeavors to tell the entire story of the cosmos in four acts, plus an ainsoferable overchore and underture. But the point is, it is a story; it is a drama, a narrative, a bangography. It even begins with One's upin a timeless...

Indeed, you could say that it is the bedtime story I told myself before concluding the drama of the first half of my life, or that mysoph told to me, anyway. Only now I'm retelling it from a Christian standpoint. For 'tis atell that is retaled early in bed and later on life down through all christian minstrelsy. And

If you are abcedminded to this claybook, what curios of signs in this allaphbed! Can you rede its world? It's the same told of all. --Finnegans Wake

44 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

Rather, there is only change, and change is not drama. Imagine going to a film in which the characters and action merely change, but for no reason.

...

A Darwinian is not permitted to say that a man has more objective value than an amoeba.


Gecko has a link up this morning to a relevant Klavan article:

What’s so great about the earth? It’s just a rock floating in space, after all. The only really interesting thing about it is that it happens to support life - and the only thing that makes life itself interesting is the consciousness capable of perceiving it. That’s us, you environmental boneheads! The majesty of the whale, the grace of the leopard, the beauty of the sunset, even the blue of the sky - none of these even exists outside the imagination of man.

5/20/2009 08:50:00 AM  
Blogger Warren said...

Bob,

Yes. Well, just to clarify my own comment to yesterday's post - when I said that you were "taking on" Ramana Maharshi, declaring "total war" on neo-Vedantins, etc.... what I meant (but did not make clear) was that this is how THEY WOULD PERCEIVE your remarks.

5/20/2009 09:11:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, I wasn't referring to you, but to the earlier guy who took offense.

5/20/2009 09:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not a Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Sufi, Pagan -- none of the above, but, I feel the Universal hum - sound in my very being. I feel my body 'spinning' withot ceasing.
If God-essence divinizes, then what am I? One hand clapping;)

wv rishnons

5/20/2009 10:10:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

GB says: Unless -- unless we are again dealing with an unconscious narrative that is a satanic inversion of the Christian narrative. Could it be that metaphysical Darwinians are parasites on the history they wish to destroy? Yes, of course.

There are old atheists and there are bold atheists. And the bolder they get, the older they get.

5/20/2009 10:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Cassandra said...

Just about every post here helps me to see things more clearly. I'm sure this one is no exception, although I think I'll have to stop giggling over the Wagner crack before I can really digest it.

5/20/2009 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"When I put him to bed, I always tell him stories in which he is the main actor, whether he is a fireman, policeman, army man, or superhero."

Yep, same here... Little King, Little Prince & Little Princess stories... I had more fun telling them those stories, than any other 'thrilling' thing I've ever done.

5/20/2009 11:07:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Interestingly, all of the stories are full of blood and guts and hurting bad guys, but he's the only one of his friends who never hits when he's angry or frustrated. When some of the other parents come over with their kids, we literally have to hide the guns, but those are the kids who are more likely to hit. The making of a liberal: deny aggression but act it out in other ways.

5/20/2009 11:25:00 AM  
Anonymous maineman said...

Hiding guns reminds me of the raising of Billy, the son of some liberal friends who lived in the country and wouldn't let him have any guns. So, when he was about three, he collected all of the puzzle pieces in the house that were shaped like guns and stockpiled himself a regular little arsenal.

Billy grew up to be a poet, by the way, however one is to interpret that.

5/20/2009 11:47:00 AM  
Blogger QP said...

Off topic, but will be of high interest!


A new, very promising, national political party is forming:

***********************
The Anti-Federalist Party***********************

5/20/2009 11:48:00 AM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Uh-OThe scientist admitted that he's played up Ida's missing linkiness for publicity's sake:

In response to a reporter's question, Hurum also agreed it would be hard to call "Ida" a direct human ancestor. But he said he was comfortable with the publicity surrounding it.

"That's part of getting science out to the public, to get attention," he said. "I don't think that's so wrong."
tw:Ace

5/20/2009 12:13:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Gagdad said "Interestingly, all of the stories are full of blood and guts and hurting bad guys..."

Oh definitely.

When the hero comes face to face with the Orc's (so I borrowed a little...), the beasts chant

"... We'll crush their bones,
and drink their blood,
'cause that's what Orc's DOooo!
Heh-Hah, Oh-Ho, Ho HOO!"

and much swords and arrows are needed to put things right!

"...but he's the only one of his friends who never hits when he's angry or frustrated..."

Welll... yes and no and yes. They were never involved in picking on, hitting or fighting other kids*, but they did have a period, as the older entered his teens, where they tangled frequently with each other, nothing serious, never blood drawn, but lots of grappling.

That was tough for awhile but it didn't last long with them, and they've been the best of friends for several years now.

*with the exception of a couple bullies who kept picking on my youngest, who was 3 or 4 years younger than they were. They both told the teacher a few times, who did nothing. I finally told the older to tell the teacher, if they did nothing, tell the kids he was gonna nail them if they kept it up, they did and he did. Took out sever racks of lego's and toys in the process, if I remember right. The 'adult in charge' made the mistake of trying to tell me how unacceptable such behavior was.

The Orc's were all dispatched, never to be heard from again.

;-)

5/20/2009 02:00:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

From Ximeze's link ""In this time of economic hardship, it is nice to turn to another time, 47 million years ago, to the story of a little girl, who possibly connects to us," said Anthony Geffen of Atlantic Productions, which produced the documentary. "

(blink)

(wtf?!)

5/20/2009 02:08:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Oh yes, Future Leader knows he has carte blanche to hit bullies or defend girls. He is also permitted to harshly interrogate bullies if the playground is under threat of an immanent attack.

5/20/2009 02:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Deeling with bullies. No duh, eh? My Catholic schooled daughter who graduated the elementry school with an award in Religion didn't have any problem standing up to a girl bully just a couple of weeks into the school year, in her new --not Catholic -- highshool.

As gregarious as she was and busy at recess with boyfriend-cooing, she noticed at a big girl verbally abusing small and timid girl.

"I couldn't stand it!" -- she said -- and walked up to the bully and told her to back off. (She didn't even know them by name at that point.)
And she did.

Same daughter one day asked in the car "I could tell you a joke but am I allowed to say paki?" . I said no, and repeated what she already knew.

Theofilia (*7*)

5/20/2009 02:51:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Saw something most wonderful this past weekend, driving a semi-country-road in an upscale residential neighborhood. Ahead of me was a slow-moving pickup, ahead of him a golf-cart, sort of weaving on the road, doing about 25mph.

Was that a kid driving that cart? Head's damn small & low for an adult & the sun glinting on buzz-hair-cut gave the game away. We went about 1/4 mile, then pulled up to the final stop-sign before the freeway.

OMG - runaway kid/cart/freeway? With left-blinker flashing, cart turns onto frontage road, followed by pick-up.

Sure enough, boy-no-more-than-10 driving cart, bare-headed in T-shirt & shorts, getting thumbs-up signs from adult-male following in the pick-up.

It was so lovely to see, and to vicariously get to feel the thrill & joy of that child in his adventure. My mind's voice yelled
Look-out-Bob: there's FL+6

True Story

5/20/2009 03:40:00 PM  
Blogger lance said...

Bah!! I was raised with toy guns, played football, shot real guns, did mixed martial arts. And now I am basically a dirty quasi-Christian Socialist!! .................explain that Van! ;) Oh I was licensed to fight bullies as well.

5/20/2009 04:43:00 PM  
Blogger CrypticLife said...

Perhaps you ought to stick to what you think, rather than pontificating on what you believe others must think.

5/20/2009 04:45:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Lance said "And now I am basically a dirty quasi-Christian Socialist!! ...explain that Van!"

Guns don't quasi... people do.

;-)

swear to you-know-who wv:panses
it knows!

5/20/2009 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Cryptlife said "...rather than pontificating on what you believe ..."

Hmm... hard to make out the address on this flaming arrow... anyone in particular you felt resembled that remark?

5/20/2009 04:50:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

The Voyeur

5/20/2009 04:58:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Ximeze, so true. I think a regular diet of OC supplemented by all the extra reading has pretty much cured me of my craving for that stuff. I tried to watch the Real Housewives of New Jersey last night (I only know about it because Suzette is a fan); intolerable.

5/20/2009 06:10:00 PM  
Blogger Warren said...

Cassandra,

Since you like Wagner cracks, you should enjoy this site:

http://www.amiright.com/quotes/wagner.shtml

(The last quote is my personal favorite.) Somebody should see if they can get Bob's original quote posted here....

5/20/2009 07:33:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

By the way, this post was helpful today. Thanks.

5/20/2009 08:16:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Ximeze,
“"That's part of getting science out to the public, to get attention," he said. "I don't think that's so wrong."”

Yeah – I caught that too – via Ace o Spades. That one statement is just bursting with “tells”. “I don’t think”, “wrong (wrong?)”, “attention”…

I have no difficulty saying I care more about science than that guy does.
The ends justify the means I suppose. And what are those ends again?

5/20/2009 08:31:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Bob,
Do you know how was it that HvB came to write the afterword to MOTT? The afterword came about 10 years after UF's death, I think - but did they know each other personally? Does HvB speak of UF in any of HvB's other work you've read?

5/20/2009 08:46:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Petey,
For your consideration:
"I did not come to abolish the slack,
Obama did."

5/20/2009 09:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Madame Hillary said...

Did somebody say slacks?

5/20/2009 09:06:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, Balthasar has a quote from MOTT at the front of one of the volumes of Theo-Drama, plus a handful of references and footnotes scattered in one of the volumes.

5/20/2009 09:22:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

If you google Balthasar + Tomberg, you get quite a bit of material, including this.

5/20/2009 09:25:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Thanks, Bob.

5/20/2009 09:29:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Lotsa deep and good stuff today, Bob!

"Schuon never mentions him by name, but you can tell when he's referring to him, because he always snarls when doing so. Same with Teilhard de Chardin. For Schuon, they might as well be Deepak."

Ha ha! I laughed out loud at that.
I like how you, Bob, can extricate truth, goodness and beauty from Schuon, while leaving the rest.

Obviously, Schuon has much to give. More than most of us can ever realize.
The Queegs of the world would simply call him (and Sri Aurobindo, Meister Eckhart, Thomas Aquinas, Paul, etc.), "kooks" and "shills" to ignore, thinking they have all the answers through their unsustainable "science."

We certainly need both Schuon and Sri Aurobindo (and many other Saints, Mystics and Sages) to grow.
And thanks for doin' that.
Tradition and cosmic evolution are both needed, and Bobviously, you gno this.

5/21/2009 02:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Skully said...

"Now, one of the reasons Balthasar had to spend some 3,000 pages explicating the Christian theo-drama, is that the intrinsically dramatic nature of Christianity was apparently no longer evident to people, just as he had to spend some 4,000 pages on The Glory of the Lord, since the divine beauty was no longer obvious to folks. Rather, it seems that for many Christians, their faith is reduced to just that faith, but faith in what?"

This is so crucial! I could say the same about our Founding Fathers when they said: "We hold these truth's to be self evident."

Well, these truth's are no longer self evident to most folks, else we wouldn't have an avid follower of Alinsky (not to mention the not-so-reverend Wright "God Damn America!", minister of black
che-ology crapola) as President.

5/21/2009 02:54:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"But it means nothing, which again makes us wonder why Darwinians ware jumping for joy over the discovery of that fossil. Why joy? I don't get it. Who cares if there are eight wonders if the eighth wonder proves that wonder is completely pointless? Let's grant Darwinians their fantasy, and suppose that this fossil finally proves that human existence is meaningless. Why would that be a cause for glee instead of sadness?"

Precisely! When the end-all be all is "fairness" without justice, reduced to passing on our genes (or guilt over bein' alive where we are compelled to euthanize our selves to "save" mudda gaya), who f*ckin' cares?

Might as well be narcissistic hedonists. Momma maya! Where's the spicey meat balls? Hope(lessness) and che-angst! Death be-comes us! Is this who we are waiting for?

Not just no, but hell no! Nuts to the satanic voidgin monologues!
Not only is that movie a horrendous and chaotic mess, but even the soundtrack is hideous.
The writer sucks, the director is an idiot, the producers are morons and the music arranger is tone death. Who wants to be in that flick?
It's not even worthy to make much fun of.

Why do folks want theo-drama, heroes and stories with meaning, instead of nihilistic disasters no one care's about?

5/21/2009 03:30:00 AM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Another excellent post, Bob. I'm loving the drama perspective...not that "the whole world is a stage" or anything.

wv in sync: olysse

5/21/2009 07:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Whatever its merits, such a view is absolutely irreconcilable with Christianity. One can admire Schuon's lifelong project of seeking the "transcendent unity of religions," but the fact of the martyr is that one cannot reconcile Ramana Maharshi and Christ unless one does violence to one or the other teaching."

At the risk of seeming all puffed up to the ever threatened "Julie", I wish to simply say that my objections had little to do with defending the Maharshi, but simply to point out that Schuon did, in fact, reconcile these teachings, and that, without doing "violence" to them. He did so, not, as you say, from the point of view of advaita-vedanta, but from that of a realized being, one who stood at the peak of a mountain.
Now, quite bobviously, one can disagree with his views, but it is hard to see how, since this is his starting point as such--meaning the "religio perennis"--that you can then proceed to admire him, quote him, etc. It's a bit like admiring Adam Smith, except his views on economics, or finding Rush Limbaugh to have amazing things to say about cigars, but fundamentally disagreeing with his politics.
It is this fundamental starting point that leads Schuon to find, for example, Amerindian religion to be not only authentic, but in some ways, the best of the best (I don't think Schuon would say the religions are equal, but simply salvific), being as close as possible to the "primordial religion". Indeed, he didn't travel from Europe to America to see a Catholic Mass or even the Brooklyn Dodgers, but the Crow Sun Dance. Also this starting point leads him to find Islam an authentic revelation, and finally about the only remaining opening for esoterism within Sufism.

5/21/2009 08:15:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I fully understand where you're coming from. We just disagree.

5/21/2009 08:24:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

the ever threatened "Julie"

:D

That's a new one; I like the scare quotes - nice touch.

5/21/2009 08:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I knew you would like those Julie. I actually, thought, I should put her name in quotes, that would be both weird and funny:)

5/21/2009 08:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob,
Most likely, at the end of the day we won't disagree--I just had no idea how long this day would be.

5/21/2009 08:45:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

I probably would have laughed myself off the chair if you'd managed to fit a Cornholio reference in there, too ;)

5/21/2009 08:57:00 AM  
Blogger NoMo said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5/21/2009 02:15:00 PM  
Blogger CrypticLife said...

"anyone in particular you felt resembled that remark?"

Yes, it was directed to Bob. He tends to invent what "Darwinians" believe, and the supposed implications of those beliefs.

The problem is, no one really self-identifies as a "Darwinian", and few if any who accept the Theory of Evolution express any belief that it "destroys wonder". And note that a lot of scientists were irritated about the excess media hype over Ida -- it's the journalists who were all atwitter over it. Maybe GB's just talking about a certain subset of evolutionists he calls "Darwinians", but he comes off just uninformed and arrogant here.

It wasn't really intended as a flaming arrow, though. GB has the capacity to be interesting when he's talking about his own thoughts, even for those who don't buy his mysticism.

5/21/2009 02:47:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Last time I heard that joke I fell off my Darwinian.

5/21/2009 03:35:00 PM  

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