Friday, September 25, 2009

On Evolving All the Way Down and In

Another reworked replay from a daze gone by. Sorry about the length, but I have no say in that. I don't think there are any wasted words. Besides, you have 24 hours to read it.

O Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart. Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling and scatter there Thy cheerful beams. --Augustine

When the divine descent occurs, it's a little like putting seasoning into a pot of soup. Or maybe prozac into a skull full of neurons. That is, when you sprinkle salt into the soup, you can't just affect the beans but not the meat. Likewise, when you sprinkle an SSRI into a brain, it gets into everything, which is why the effects are nonlinear and unpredictable in their details. Also, it takes a while for the spices -- or the prozac -- or God -- to penetrate and macerate into the substance.

In the case of an SSRI, it often takes a month or more just to reach its full biological effect. But then the person begins engaging in more functional activities, which in turn feed back into the system. In other words, the SSRI has both direct and indirect effects. This reminds me of how the divine descent causes various changes in behavior, which in turn have their own effect on the being. This is why, while it is true that religious people outlive the irreligious, it's impossible to disentangle all of the variables that go into it, since belief in God causes demonstrable changes in behavior, not just thoughts and emotions. Besides, who could ever measure and quantify the biological benefits of peace, joy, certitude, calmness, Oly Slack, etc?

It's one thing to have one of those (?!) moments, another thing entirely for it to saturate your psychic substance and lead to a genuine and lasting transformation. In fact, Sri Aurobindo felt that it was necessary for the divine descent to literally penetrate all the way "down" to the cells, which are -- because they are the closest to the border of the material inconscient, or the outer edge of the divine involution -- the most resistant to the descent. I have long felt -- of course, I could be wrong about this -- that the transfiguration of Jesus is an esoteric account of the divine Light penetrating all the way to the cells, so that the person becomes overwhelmingly "luminous." Likewise, I remember reading a forensically compelling book on the Shroud of Turin that speculated that the source of the pattern on the shroud was from this same Light.

It's as if matter itself has a kind of proud -- or stubborn, anyway -- independence from God. Which I suppose it must, because there must be something that fundamentally "resists" God in order for there to be a creation at all -- just as an artist cannot make a sculpture out of water, only a hard and resistant substance that "fights against" him. Or, as Will ventured in a comment,

"I think it helps to remember that we are supposed to face challenges, oppositional forces. Might as well see yourself as a mythic Odysseus trying to get back home because that's exactly what you are -- a mythic hero in the making. Of course, the Creator could have eliminated the need for challenges, in which case we'd all be inert, semi-conscious flotsam."

Which makes a lot of sense. For example, it is relatively easy for an adequately intelligent and sincere person to accept religion with the mind, the latter of which (mind) being the most recent evolutionary advance (or descent). However, the vital mind is obviously more ancient and more resistant. This is the "emotional brain" which harbors all sorts of mind parasites that wish to go on being -- anger, envy, resentment, narcissism, and various other passions. It reminds me of those bizarre sea creatures that live in the lightless depths of the ocean.

Whereas the mind can be converted rather quickly, it takes much longer for the descent to transform the vital emotions. Thus, a lot of people who might be considered "religious hypocrites" are really just people in whom the descent has not penetrated all the way down to the vital. Which is why Augustine wrote that "complete abstinence is easier than perfect moderation." Rather than doing the hard work of transforming the vital, these people try to shun it altogether. It's like trying to build algebra while rejecting math. Once again Augustine was on the case, asking, "Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility."

Which raises an interesting point, in that for most people who cannot accept God, it is not because of the mind proper, but because of the vital mind. Almost always, you will have noticed that they are afflicted by pride, or resentment, or superiority, or anger, or some other petty emotion that prevents them from surrendering to and assimilating truth. All of those scientistic types who pretend that they are just too intellectually humble to accept religion are actually far too proud. The atheist actually does have an absolute: his own ego, which will submit to nothing higher. It is just rebellion and idolatry in disguise, a refusal to submit to the Adam smasher of humility in the face of the Absolute. For once you intuit the Absolute, humility is the only option. It is as natural as the urge to dump a bag of manure on Bill Maher.

It is not the properly rational man who rejects God, but the passional man who, as Perry notes, inevitably gravitates either toward fanaticism or relativism. We know all about the religious fanatics, since the shrill and fanatical relativists of the left never stop talking about them. But as is becoming more evident by the moment, the unhinged relativism of a Queeg is every bit as fanatical as that of the fanciful creationist who supposedly believes that dinosaurs are "Jesus ponies." Has the Catholic church ever excommunicated heretics as rapidly as Queeg?

The point is, everywhere people are people. As Dupree's drunken and malodorous Pappy used to say, "folks is folks." The main difference between the religious and the Darwinian fundamentalist is that the latter is more consumed by pride and self-interest. Metaphysical Darwinism is largely a Trojan hearse to smuggle in an atheistic culture of death, which in turn justifies and excuses the vital man's failings and transgressions. By rejecting the Absolute he abolishes the need to transcends himself, and therefore the need to become human. No one should be surprised at the increase in human beastlings who have taken over virtually every institution and profession. They've certainly taken over mine. I would no sooner join the American Psychological Association than the Man Boy Love Association.

Let's talk for a moment about the vital mind. Consider what goes on in psychoanalytic psychotherapy. In a sense, it is aimed at trying to penetrate the darkness of the vital with the light of mind (not the Mind of Light, mind you) -- trying to illuminate and gain insight into unconscious conflicts, or to "make the unconscious conscious." But mere insight is never sufficient, as it will represent nothing more than what is called "intellectualization," which is just another defense mechanism. Rather, therapist and patient must engage in what is called working through, so that the insight is not merely "mental," but really descends "all the way down" to the bones, so to speak, and transforms the problem (or one's relationship to it). This is why real growth is so much more than merely reading a book about psychology.

But isn't it the same with religion? Isn't the essence of a spiritual practice to bring the divine descent further "down and in," and to bring about a deep transformation, not just a surface one? Isn't a genuine saint someone who has been fully (so to speak) transformed by the descent? Isn't this why these fleshlights glow in the dark? Stories abound of the incorruptible nature of the saint's body upon their demise, as if something happened to the very structure of the cells.

In a letter to a disciple, Sri Aurobindo wrote that "the very first step in getting out of the ignorance is to accept the fact that this outer consciousness is not one's soul, not oneself, not the real person, but only a temporary formation on the surface.... the outer personality is the person only in the sense of the Latin word persona which meant originally a mask." It is but a "small and diminished representation of our secret greater existence."

The problem is, much of this greater existence is not yet conscious and individualized; it is consciousness, but it has not been colonized, so to speak, by the conscious mind. But as one advances spiritually, "one begins to live more and more in the inner being, while the outer becomes more and more superficial. At first the inner consciousness seems to be the dream and the outer the waking reality. Afterwards, the inner consciousness becomes the reality and the outer is felt by many as a dream or a delusion, or else as something superficial and external." Isn't that right? Isn't that the problem with the left, that their dream is as solid and impenetrable as rock? Furthermore, they are proud of their ignorance, so where does one begin?

I never watch TV news, but yesterday I was in the presence of one of those big brother CNN monitors, and I was jarred by what I heard, as if a sick dream were suddenly being violently imposed upon reality. It was about the vital news that a worthless drug addict rock star had had sexual relations with his worthless drug addict daughter. Why must we know this?

What did Van say the other day about the world of poetry and myth beginning to look like a more exact and precise account of reality? The shock of recognition in one of van Gogh's visionary paintings is just that -- a recognition that no mere photo could ever accomplish, since the photographic reality is a declension from the Real, whereas the true artist is attempting to represent the Real, or to infuse the canvas with its noetic light.

This is also why a droning intellectual pinhead is so boring compared to the vivid language of a Jesus or Lao Tsu, since the language of the latter is always infused with being and light, of which the words are mere vehicles. To believe in the fantasy of metaphysical Darwinism is to believe that the Soviet realist painting is superior to the gifted impressionist's, or that muzak is superior to jazz, since the former follows the strict outline of the melody more closely. I'm sure no one has failed to notice the spiritual deadness of our most recent troll's language. He never stops teaching us about the reality of the Logos, does he?

Now, the vital mind is not wholly negative. Furthermore, in the overall cosmic scheme of things it must exist, as it is the human analogue of the rajasic or horizontally expansive and passional modality. Passional types have their role to play -- they can be dreamers, crusaders, explorers, men of vision and action.

People who think of Obama as somehow "intellectual" are quite in error. Rather, as is true of most leftists, he is quite dominantly vital, with very little light of intelligence. Thus, the vague and impotent dreams of unity and change. He represents the "vital dream" par excellence, but with almost no practicality or wisdom. Far from sophisticated, he is naive, sentimental, vain, petulant, and childish -- qualities which are again the underside of the cynical sophisticates of the left. This is why Air America or Andrew Sullivan or the New York Times idiotorial board are in a permanent state of tantrum. Intellect that is detached from the divine plane easily descends into childish anger, hysteria, or sentimentality. This is why the left "fell in love" with Obama, as they were merely duped by their own unredeemed vital mind.

There is no doctrinaire leftist who is not inordinately proud of his own mind. And yet, why would such mediocrities be so proud of what the spiritually normal person would be ashamed to display in public? Another way of asking it is, what is the source of their unwarranted self-confidence? One thing that comes to mind is the absence of shame, which creates the false impression of self-confidence. A shameless person is also a corrupt and unscrupulous person, because he has gotten his confidence on the cheap by merely disabling the conscience (which connects directly to the divine plane, and is even a "portion of divinity" within).

This is something I noticed as long ago as adolescence, except I didn't have the words for it. In fact, I suppose I was even painfully envious of these cluelessly confident types, but now, in hindsight, I can clearly see that if I had possessed that kind of "self-confidence," I would be dead today. The absence of that type of hubris was definitely a divine mercy. Rather, it has specifically been my own lack of complacent self-satisfaction that spurred the charge inward and upward. There has never been a point at which I have been satisfied with the status quo, or when I have excused myself from the responsibility to evolve. Let me emphasize that this has nothing to do with "learning more" but being more. (I am oversimplifying, because there is another part of ourselves that must simultaneously be fully satisfied with present being, but that is a topic for another post.)

The point is, God doesn't give you what you want, but what you need, in particular, what you need in order to evolve and grow spiritually. If the left had their way, they would eliminate redemptive suffering from the cosmos. No wonder then that leftism is a philosophy of stupidity, since it is entirely based upon what these spiritually barren and alienated people selfishly want with the vital mind, of which one can never get enough. In rejecting God, they necessarily become the infrahuman party, and thereby do the adversary's heavy lifting.

When the powers of any grade descend completely into us, it is not only our thought and knowledge that are affected, -- the substance and very grain of our being and consciousness, all its states and activities are touched and penetrated and can be remoulded and wholly transmuted. Each stage of this ascent is therefore a general, if not total, conversion of the being into a new light and power of greater existence. --Sri Aurobindo

54 Comments:

Blogger Magnus Itland said...

Today's topic is indeed vitally important. And it seems the greatest question for a believer: You can get the soul out of Hell, but how do you get the Hell (evil) out of the soul?

It is clear that for a lot of people, going to mass and saying prayers does not quite do the trick, or at least not in the limited lifetime available. Rather, to paraphrase a Swedish preacher from some generations ago: The common believers are like toads; they come to church and while in there, they fly like birds; then they fly out the church door and flump to the ground, rapidly returning to their toad form.

Just knowing about the different layers of density of the human being is quite useful. But I guess I need to study some hagiology or something to learn more about how to be sanctified all the way through.

9/25/2009 09:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am an experienced literary critic and a philospher. I would have to call this post "brilliant." This not directed at Godwin's ego, please note, but to the Master who has produced Godwin, who in turn is a "piece of work" and produces these heady chunks of intellectual candy.

Nevertheless being a critic I will say that the post begins rather better than it ends. The first part, delineating the problems of spiritualizing the vital mind, are incomparable. Nothing can be found to match it anywhere else in the world of literature or journalism.

But then, there is a dropoff in quality somewhere around 3/4 way through where Obama is mentioned and the general level of consciousness plummets into a wearisome laundry list of complaints about the left.

I speculate the first part of the post was written some time ago and the latter part today?

Anyway, bravo, a capital read and well done.

9/25/2009 09:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Petey said...

I submit that the whole thing was spontaneously rattled off the top and bottom of Bob's head for his own enjoyment.

9/25/2009 09:28:00 AM  
Blogger James said...

Wow Bob. There must be a change in the air. The trolls are coming out of the wood work. After all the left is perfect, so listing the left's faults clearly represents a plummet of consciousness. The left can't be wrong therefore you must be stupid. This line of un-reasoning is getting old. Of course once you are on to the trick you start to see it everywhere.

wv. dedruts How True.

9/25/2009 09:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

Am I the only one who loves the smell of smoked troll in the morning?

9/25/2009 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

Yes, it is a strange situation, that we can find both higher consciousness and Obama on the same day. Of course the same conundrum is true of Real Life, as it were. How do we deal with such a composite world? It may be tempting to just avoid one of the parts, most notably Obama, but it may not be mutual. Obama wants to change your life, and so does God, but how do the two mesh?

9/25/2009 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, seriously -- I advocate a 100% embodied, or "descending" spirituality, in which we do not make artificial distinctions between various realms, while at the same time not blending them. "Unconfused and undivided," to coin a term.

9/25/2009 09:55:00 AM  
Blogger jp said...

Vegas is a living breathing example of how to most effectively get the vital mind to part with any hard earned dollars it might have. And, in many cases, with dollars that it doesn't have.

See Van's example from yesterday.

I'll bet the most highly paid corporate consultants in Vegas are experts in the vital mind.

I wonder if the inhabitants of Vegas, specifically those who partake of the wonderous, uh, pleasures of Vegas on a regular basis are inherenly more Vital than the residents of, say, Boise.

9/25/2009 09:57:00 AM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

jp,
I recently read that in the Afterlife, one will gravitate to the part of the Spirit World where one's thoughts naturally belong. I can't help but think that this happens in this life, only it may take some time when one needs to move geographically. For instance, a long-time acquaintance of mine is a libertarian, and eventually moved to the US with his body as well. Took him years though. It is probably quicker from Boise to Vegas. Or the other way around.

9/25/2009 10:04:00 AM  
Blogger sehoy said...

I can't tell you how many times I've told someone, "I got it with my head, but it hasn't made it to my heart, yet."

9/25/2009 10:06:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Good point. Vegas is absolutely "vital town," a playground for childish adult impulses. I remember when I first went there -- I must have been about 22 or 23 -- because that's what "grown ups" did. I haven't been there in maybe 20 years, but I think I'd be overwhelmed by the vibes if I did go there today.

9/25/2009 10:07:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"However, the vital mind is obviously more ancient and more resistant. This is the "emotional brain" which harbors all sorts of mind parasites that wish to go on being -- anger, envy, resentment, narcissism, and various other passions. It reminds me of those bizarre sea creatures that live in the lightless depths of the ocean."

I had a brush with someone this morning who was intensely embodying their vital mind... rocked me back like a punch to the gut. Not just endarkened, but absorbent.

Just sickening.

wv:nesse
Lock nest

9/25/2009 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

So now we have bizarre creatures living in the Lightless depths of Vegas...

9/25/2009 10:20:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, the annoying thing about vital people is that you must be with them, but they cannot be with you. But enough about my relatives.

9/25/2009 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Scary Vegas monster.

9/25/2009 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

I hear you, Van. Some people, maybe most, seem naturally on-guard for this. I always vow afterward that I’m going to be, but I can’t keep it up. I just can’t begin the day like that. Not my nature. That’s no way to treat a day. And so I’m taken by surprise whenever it happens.

9/25/2009 10:25:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

He looks so life-like.

9/25/2009 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, he has a wonderful mortician.

9/25/2009 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

But how do they get the smile to stay in place?

9/25/2009 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

One thing you can say about Ray Charles -- even though he was blind, he had the good sense to know that his hair wouldn't look good with shoeshine on it.

9/25/2009 10:42:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

I'm trying to work Burt Reynolds into this...
Damn allergy meds. This should easy..

9/25/2009 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"It's one thing to have one of those (?!) moments, another thing entirely for it to saturate your psychic substance and lead to a genuine and lasting transformation. In fact, Sri Aurobindo felt that it was necessary for the divine descent to literally penetrate all the way "down" to the cells, which are -- because they are the closest to the border of the material inconscient, or the outer edge of the divine involution -- the most resistant to the descent. I have long felt -- of course, I could be wrong about this -- that the transfiguration of Jesus is an esoteric account of the divine Light penetrating all the way to the cells, so that the person becomes overwhelmingly "luminous." "

An incredibly intriguing idea... mind*body indeed....

9/25/2009 11:04:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Another way of asking it is, what is the source of their unwarranted self-confidence? One thing that comes to mind is the absence of shame, which creates the false impression of self-confidence. A shameless person is also a corrupt and unscrupulous person, because he has gotten his confidence on the cheap by merely disabling the conscience (which connects directly to the divine plane, and is even a "portion of divinity" within). "

What became asstounding to me, was how they formed their personality of, by, and around that absence... it they couldn't be demonstrating it in action, or... agasp by their manner of dress or manners... it was as if 'they' had been removed from themselves.

I'm thinking of a couple lead singers we had... if they couldn't DEMONstrate their 'aboveness' over morals and manners... they were in a paniced state of... you'd almost have to call it... shame.

9/25/2009 11:08:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

anonymous @ 9:23 AM

I am an experienced commenter, and find some of your comment somewhat reflective of reality.

Nevertheless, somewhere around half way through, you seemed to let your feelings for nobama to affect your ability to input.

I speculate the first part was written with an open mind, the second half after your vitals had been prodded?

Anyway, there you go.

9/25/2009 11:12:00 AM  
Blogger robinstarfish said...

Sure, Vegas trumps Boise on the vital meter, but the Mormon influence here (Boise) is second to none in embodiment of fake light.

wv: It's scoory.

9/25/2009 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

JP said "I wonder if the inhabitants of Vegas, specifically those who partake of the wonderous, uh, pleasures of Vegas on a regular basis are inherenly more Vital than the residents of, say, Boise."

This will probably make 4 in a row for me, but what with Magnus's

"... now we have bizarre creatures living in the Lightless depths of Vegas..."

, and Gagdad demonstrating that the creatures aren't merely mythical... that picture is bizarre, but I don't think it's fabricated, I must agree... to an extent.

There are many, many people who live in Vegas, and even though there are slot machines in all the 7-11's, restaurants, grocery stores, etc, they never play them (unless trying to dispose of change on their way out the door, that they don't want jangling in their pockets). You can live in Vegas, and look not towards the darks of the Strip, but towards the majestic walls of Red Rock, Mt. Charleston.

Having in both places, I can say that those people, are not "inherenly more Vital than the residents of, say, Boise", in fact, like dairy maids were naturally inoculated against small pox, they may be less vital than the most bucolic setting... however, there are many creatures who never glance towards the mountains, who are absorbed, literally, by the blacklights of the Strip, and the lower dwellings - of which there are many, and those folks, oh yes, far more inherently Vital than the residents of Boise.

9/25/2009 11:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am the 9:23 anonymous commenter.

To Petey and Van, I would submit that while I don't mind the left's faults to be explicated, its been done ad nauseum by Godwin.

He perseverates, I think that's the term. It's just not good technique. My objection is more aesthetic than revolving around the content.

A child who keeps asking "Are we there yet?" can get incredibly annoying, although the question remains valid each time.

A writer who lays out a scintillating and novel line of thought, but then devolves into an overused rant, displays a dichotomy that got my attention in a negative fashion, that's all.

I am no left lover.

9/25/2009 11:39:00 AM  
Blogger Anonymous_1 said...

Which raises an interesting point, in that for most people who cannot accept God, it is not because of the mind proper, but because of the vital mind. Almost always, you will have noticed that they are afflicted by pride, or resentment, or superiority, or anger, or some other petty emotion that prevents them from surrendering to and assimilating truth. All of those scientistic types who pretend that they are just too intellectually humble to accept religion are actually far too proud. The atheist actually does have an absolute: his own ego, which will submit to nothing higher. It is just rebellion and idolatry in disguise, a refusal to submit to the Adam smasher of humility in the face of the Absolute. For once you intuit the Absolute, humility is the only option.

This sort of generalization makes me uncomfortable, not that comfort is my aim. It’s reminiscent of arguments used by Mohammedans, where pride is a sin, to rationalize submission to the will of Allah. There are those who have no faith, such as I, who hold no animus towards those who do, provided “separation of church and state” is upheld, i.e. the First Amendment. I don’t want to live in a country where I’m brow beaten by atheism or theism.

Your argument, that “petty emotions” keep the unfaithful from “surrendering to and assimilating truth”, I’m assuming you mean religious truth, is, in my opinion, a generalization without merit.

n.b. Although I know who Captain Queeg is, since I’m a huge fan of Humphrey Bogart, I had to do a Blog Search to figure out that Queeg = Mad King Charles.

9/25/2009 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

anonymous @11:39 AM said "A child who keeps asking "Are we there yet?" can get incredibly annoying, although the question remains valid each time."

(blink)

I think I can understand that... you mean... like... "Are you done giving examples of what you are describing?", "Are you done giving examples of what you are describing?", "Are you done giving examples of what you are describing?"

"I am no left lover."

I'm not saying you are.

Just sayin'

9/25/2009 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Anonymous_1, I think you're confusing 'scientistic' and 'scientific'. In,

"...of those scientistic types who pretend that they are just too intellectually humble to accept religion are actually far too proud."

Speaking for myself here, but I think that if substituted 'Truth' for 'religion', it'd still be stating the same message. The scientistic are those who say 'There is no such thing as 'Truth' or principles, only disintegrated, separate, relative truths that may be true today, but not necessarily true tomorrow, we'll just have to check and see if they still 'work for us'.

The Scientific, are those who realize that what is True, trumps what they'd like to be true. Unlike, say... the French of Voltaire's time who actually fined and imprisoned people for believing or possessing the physics of Issac Newton - not on religious grounds, but on the grounds of French vs English.

If you respect Truth, you're here, in spirit, if not word.

9/25/2009 12:13:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Anonymous 1, I would humbly submit a couple of interpretations here. The first, that maybe you feel discomfort because the pride issue is something you need to wrestle with. I say that not to cast aspersions, but simply because it is one of the most common problems in spirituality, and everybody struggles with it at some point or other, usually over and over again. In fact, if you ever stop struggling with it, you may have a problem. Lord knows I have; my foray into atheism was as much because I don't like the idea of "submitting" to anyone or anything as because I really believed there was no god.

The second, perhaps, is that you misunderstand the use of pride in this context? Schuon has some good quotes on the subject:

"Humility is a state of emptiness in which our thoughts and actions appear foreign to us, so that we judge them as we judge the thoughts and actions of others.

Pride is a blind plenitude that monopolizes everything."

"Pride is to treat the human as the Divine, and conversely; it is therefore to be ignorant of both the one and the other."

In a nutshell, pride is when one elevates oneself to that which one is not. Humility, on the other hand, is seeing oneself with clarity - not just faults but the good parts, too - and realizing that one is not in any way, shape or form the equal of the Absolute. There's no shame in that. But properly grasped, the relationship between the self and the Absolute can't not inspire humility, awe and fear, along with love and adoration.

As to "petty emotions," they truly are a barrier to truth. This does not disparage emotions grounded in truth. Think of the child who tries to control a given situation by throwing tantrums, holding his breath, or putting his fingers in his ears and shrieking "I don't wanna!" The emotions completely dominate the situation and are designed to keep reality from intruding upon whatever pleasure (or absence of pain) the child is trying to preserve.

As adults, internally, we do the same thing. The Real knocks, and we plug our ears, turn away, announce proudly that we don't like god's version of reality, etc. We distract ourselves with petty pleasures and entertainments, because we cannot conceive of the depth which we are missing. Depending on what we know of god, we may see faith as a state of lacking and bootlicking. And seeing only that, we miss out on the whole existentialada. Again, this is something that most everyone must face, repeatedly, especially when things get difficult.

9/25/2009 12:26:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

In the bunker with Queeg, who recently accused Glenn Beck of killing a frog! on TV.

9/25/2009 01:02:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I was going to comment, but right off the bat in #1, Magnus expressed my thoughts far better than I could have.

9/25/2009 02:29:00 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

Anonymous 9:23 -

I haven't read all the comments yet but just reached your second and wanted to say what struck me. This week we were discussing politics, economics, the here and now, then, abruptly spiritual matters (no un-pun intended), and I found myself (ironically each time I went over a bridge during my work commute) trying (feeling the need actually, even also on a level of obligation) to to weave the two, to find some sort of bridge, to see how they are related.

This shift happens in life a lot too when I'm thinking one (+) kind of thing, and then have to encounter a person I regularly run into who speaks the leftist speak script. Jarring, but sometimes a proper unity (ugh for lack of better word) of the two interests is nice. Like, why I am interested in refuting his hollow weird arguments and political opinions when they come up, and also in all that is worthwhile spiritually (the good stuff). The thing is, in light of the latter, in that midst, what happens is I feel lame for even caring to argue with him or anyone with those notions. Anyway, this is something that occurred to me. So I thought a double whammy post was apt and helpful.

Most parentheticals of this commentator for '09 yet. I was in a parentheses mood.

9/25/2009 02:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Mushroom:

When Magnus speaks, people listen.

9/25/2009 03:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am anonymous 9:23, the literary critic.

Anna, I enjoyed your parentheses-laced comment although a bit hard to pick out the intent or overall message of the thing. It was flow-of-consciousness.

What I take you to be saying is that the jarring transition in Godwins's post was an echo of real life jarring juxtopositions, of which there are daily examples--and I do concede that the post therefore in a way imitated life.

However I also must respect the credo of the critic which is to look for balance and harmony in a product of art--that is, not real life but consciously molded life.

Therefore I leveled the charge that the post was flawed, as with better control it could have more closely approached perfection.

However, Godwin never claimed to be under control. That should be considered.

And from a different point of view, rawness and unpredictability could be seen as a virtue as well...

It's a gray area.

Someone must criticize things, or they don't recieve the respect due them. To be criticized thoughtfully bestows honor on the artist. How else can he/she feel understood?

9/25/2009 03:03:00 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

Anon 9:23

Actually my point was close to that but it was probably hard to find amidst all those parentheses. My point was that I didn't know what the heck to do with both interests. I chastised myself in the midst of the upper when I remembered hashing out politics and the here and now. I was ashamed. But the post helped me understand why I had both, how to organize, if you will. It wasn't stream of consciousness (I don't think), it was probably just a little messy. :)

9/25/2009 03:09:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

I think Anon is Ray.

Jus kidding!

9/25/2009 03:09:00 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

Anon 9:23 @ 3:03 Part II [Kind of an "in other words".]

So in one state of mind things that seemed interesting and important seem unnecessary, foolish, and ridiculous. "I will only go for that which is awesome and never again meddle with Marxist hogwash" was the general impulse while suspended above the river. But that didn't feel right either. "Why was I so intent on solving the inanity of Marxist jargon?" "Why did decimating Keynes impel me so?" I truly didn't know in that moment. Anyway. So a post spanning both topics appealed.

9/25/2009 03:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anna: "I see, said the blind man--as he picked up his hammer and saw."

To try to parse what is significant in life can be dicey, as you describe.

It is a source of anxiety, the constant question in the back of the mind:

"What is the best use of my time, right now?"

9/25/2009 04:56:00 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

And... sometimes, what to not look back on in the flight to other civilization, a la Lot and family. Or, "let the dead bury their dead". Sometimes things have to run through those ringers to make sure it's not one of those types of things. But I don't think politics and economics are worthless, for so many reasons. And even studying the really murky murk helps in understanding more intricately the awesomeness and power of Grace. And other purposes.

wv: jolluffs

I keep thinking of something like marshmallow fluff made out of jolly (jolliness).

9/25/2009 05:07:00 PM  
Blogger katzxy said...

From the second to last 'graph:
"If the left had their way, they would eliminate redemptive suffering from the cosmos."

So suffering wouldn't be redemptive.
Which is just simply awful.

9/25/2009 09:23:00 PM  
Blogger katzxy said...

I'll wade into the deep water here. One of the things I enjoy is the way the posts shift from (what seem to me) abstract esoteric writing to blunt prosaic examples. Now maybe this could be considered bad form. But thinking about it now, it feels like a way to demonstrate the vertical dimension.

A caveats. I'm not really sure if "abstract" above applies. Perhaps the concepts and discussion are very concrete to those further along the path.

wv: aploy

9/25/2009 09:31:00 PM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

Yes, perhaps the day to day politics are to those "further along the path" as a shadow play on a surface, and they can see the far more "concrete" (or real) things that cast these shadows. And perhaps they don't really react to what is happening right now, but to what will be happening deep into the future. Changing what happens today would take an immense energy, but the further ahead you see, the more it is within your power to change with a small push at precisely the right time and the right place.

9/26/2009 01:25:00 AM  
Blogger Anonymous_1 said...

Julie and Van,
Thanks for your thoughtful replies. The topics of humility and Truth, which you’ve touched upon, require tomes that would fill the shelves of the Tower of Babel. So, to scratch the surface…

Humility – My First Opinion
The Christian tradition considers humility a virtue, a technique to temper and moderate the sin of pride, where pride is elevating oneself to “the equal of the Absolute or Divine”. I’ve always considered this interpretation of Christianity to be misguided. It projects “petty” attributes to the Divine, as though this Entity demands prostration and abasement in the form of reverential worship. The words and deeds of Christ teach a more complex lesson, a message that transcends the Old Testament’s appeal for submission, they teach the significance of empathy.

9/26/2009 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Anonymous_1 said "I’ve always considered this interpretation of Christianity to be misguided. It projects “petty” attributes to the Divine, as though this Entity demands prostration and abasement in the form of reverential worship"

Agreed. Few here will be surprised to hear (again) that, at least on the surface, I don't buy the 'humility is a virtue' or that 'Pride goeth before a fall'... but there's a couple caveats that need to be ingrained in that, and they both involve Truth, and the recognition of it, and when properly practiced and drawn back out to a surface level appearance, they can easily be described as 'Humility is a virtue' and 'Pride goeth before a fall'.

I won't attempt to recreate a tome here, but in my view, humility is NOT a virtue, it is the result of virtue. Similarly, Pride is a proper response felt from practicing virtuous actions. False Pride is what I think is typically misidentified as Pride, and it definitely goes before a fall, in fact, it ensures the fall, in that it attempts to paste pretentions over what is real. It is the "I am SOOO wonderful, all should acknowledge my wonderfulness at all times, and I cannot fail... if it appears that I didn't succeed, it is only because of the failures of one of my underlings! ", and smacks of narcissism through and through.

Recognizing reality to be as it is, despite your wishes to the contrary, recognizing that 'Nature to be commanded, must be obeyed', and allowing no neurotic feelings of frustration over that, but instead recognizing, understanding, working with, what is true, produces works (and attitudes, personalities) that are harmonious with what is Good, Beautiful and True.

Presuming to put yourself, your preferences prior to, and over what is true, to "Think, therefore I am", is to breed false pride, braggarts and bullies puffed up on their own importance which may be demonstrated either in the typical belligerent manner, or in the pretended humility (which I think Augustine pointed out?) of "Look how threadbare my robes are! I am SOOO much more humble than you!", and is typical of those who generate "Jesus Willies" wherever they go.

The person who respects what is real and true, who master themselves into respecting the Natural Laws, they are the folk who quietly go about producing small and great wonders, feel joy at what has been accomplished, knowing their joy in those accomplishments follows only from their partnership with what is real and true and feels neither reduced by such knowledge, nor superior, because of it.

These are usually highly competent and knowledgeable people, soft spoken and taken on appearance as being 'humble', but that humility was not something they deliberately practiced, it results from what they understand must be practiced, and consciously practicing it - respect for what is real and true, and because of that they take pride in what they do, because what they do respects reality, and would be appalled at the thought of compromising their integrity.

Paradoxically, they appear humble, because they take great pride in what they do, why, and how they do it, in everything they do.

The faux prideful, puff themselves up, usually in a hugely unbalanced emphasis on a single skill or trait that has brought them some measure of recognition and fame, and pretend to skills and abilities and worthiness in other areas which there is no basis in reality for - and their extreme unbalance will eventually topple them.

9/26/2009 11:02:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

What Van said™, plus I'd like to add a couple more observations.

It projects “petty” attributes to the Divine, as though this Entity demands prostration and abasement in the form of reverential worship.

I once saw it that way, as well. But true humility is not about abasing oneself before the Absolute because the Absolute has some kind of petty need for it; indeed, were that the case I'd probably stick with atheism.

No, what this is about is something akin to the feeling one gets when seeing a natural wonder - the Grand Canyon at sunrise, for instance. Something opens within the self, and the sense of awe and wonder and majesty make the soul want to sing in praise - not to assuage god's need for adulation, but rather to lift our own selves higher in a kind of resonance with that immense, dwarfing, spectacular beauty.

Therein lies the key: humility is seeing oneself with clarity; in fact, there is false humility which is also a form of pride, the kind of holier-than-thou mentality we've all encountered here and there.

Praise and worship - in the true sense - is not for god, but for man, because it elevates the spirit and lets that light shine brighter. When you smile at someone, they usually respond in kind, right? All the more so when you respond in such a way to the Absolute. Imagine smiling at god, then god smiling back. Next thing you know you're in the midst of exultation with tears streaming down your face, thinking of not much besides "holy, holy, holy..." or just (!?).
That's what praise is about. Not for god. For us.

9/26/2009 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

And to finish the point, it's tough to feel that kind of praise arising from within our own souls if we're not humble enough to get out of our own way and let it happen. Again, not for god. For us.

9/26/2009 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger Anonymous_1 said...

Julie and Van,
Thanks again, for your considerate responses. When I examine the spectrum of Christian interpretations of humility, that I’ve read and been exposed to, I much prefer yours.

9/27/2009 11:17:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"O Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart. Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling and scatter there Thy cheerful beams. --"
Augustine


O Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart. Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected ship and scatter there Thy cheerful Jim Beams. --Skully

This is to show (clearly!) the main difference between St. Augustine and Skully.

Just in case you were wondering.

9/27/2009 04:59:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

It's one thing to have one of those (?!) moments, another thing entirely for it to saturate your psychic substance and lead to a genuine and lasting transformation. In fact, Sri Aurobindo felt that it was necessary for the divine descent to literally penetrate all the way "down" to the cells, which are -- because they are the closest to the border of the material inconscient, or the outer edge of the divine involution -- the most resistant to the descent."

IOW's, the Divine Descent oughtta penetrate our very DNAye! :^)

9/27/2009 05:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

Lord, give me sobriety. But not yet.

9/27/2009 05:28:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Ricky Raccoon said...
I'm trying to work Burt Reynolds into this...
Damn allergy meds. This should easy..


It's all in the Deliverance, Buddy. :^)

9/27/2009 05:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Skully said...

Intellect that is detached from the divine plane easily descends into childish anger, hysteria, or sentimentality. This is why the left "fell in love" with Obama, as they were merely duped by their own unredeemed vital mind."

Plus they see a big boob and not bein' weened...well, let's just say I ain't gonna draw a picture for ya.

9/27/2009 05:36:00 PM  

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