Monday, September 28, 2009

The Sands of Timelessness and the Narrow Gate Between the Chambers of Ourglass

What was it that Abe Lincoln said about how tall a man should be -- tall enough for his legs to reach the ground? Whatever the case, it reminds me of how long a life should be: long enough to reach the heavens.

I'm still thinking about Magnus' comment on the nature of time, and how it is becoming more "dense" and therefore "speeding up" -- or, if it isn't, it might as well be, given the rapidity of change.

Then again, perhaps all of the superficial changes can blind us to the more singular, revolutionary changes. In other words, seeing so much change can make one cynical and detached about change itself, as if all change is of the same magnitude -- for example, that a change of presidents is not much different than a change of fashion.

No doubt metaphysical Darwinism also contributes to the confusion, for it is a doctrine of perpetual change, which is no doctrine at all. In Darwinism, the only thing that doesn't change -- for it is unchangeable -- is the Darwinist's mind. But he never explains how purely flowing contingency results in a head like a rock.

One could say the same of the climate changists. Since science proves beyond doubt that the climate is always changing, how can there be deviations from a fanciful norm? It is like trying to take the ideological temperature of a cold-blooded liztard whose temperament changes with the financial needs of the moment.

Anyway, I'm going to try to weave together several previous posts on the nature of time. Remember, this is not for your benefit, but for mine, as I attempt to condense the arkive. Plus, I find that there is absolutely no reason for me to try to rethink things that I may have already adequately thunk in the past. I don't want to just repeat myself without even knowing it. And again, that's the problem -- I really have no idea what's in the arkive, since I write the posts so quickly. This actually gives me a chance to reflect upon and tweak them where necessary.

Eternity lasts forever, but time takes time. A lot of stuff has to happen for it to be fulfilled. Once you recognize this, it is like waking up in a burning house, as Magnus so aptly put it. You have to quickly identify what is essential, grab what you need, and get the hell out! (And of course, wake up your loved ones.)

What makes it all so... thrilling is that you could very well have 70 or 80 years to get out of the house, or you might have only two seconds. You just never know. You could say that a spiritual practice is like the fire drill that prepares us for any exigency.

That the atheist imagines this is "comforting" is further testament to their pitifully frivolous lives. I've posted in the past about the point at which I dramatically realized the burning stakes involved. Once your life bears on eternity, then the implications of your every action have a kind of quasi-infinite resonance. I won't say "infinite," since that is a category reserved for the Absolute, but you know what I mean. Your entire life is transposed to a higher key, several octaves above the aimless absurcularity of the flatland atheist croaking his repetitive ditties about the glories of matter.

After all, your charge is, like B'atman, to be more than a man. Or, if you prefer, it is simply to be a man, properly understood. But either way, you get the point: it is to transcend, not momentarily, but continuously, even while being more fully "in the world" than the half-dead secularists.

Being that we are in the image of the Creator, it is not as simplistic as being "in the world, but not of it." Rather, it is BEING in, and being IN the world, even while one's essential being derives from a radically different source than the closed horizontal world. After all, the world cannot transcend, much less redeem, itself. Nor can we in the absence of nonlocal assistance. Why this is not understood even by secular intellectuals is a mystery to me. They must truly believe that truth is just opinion.

The past recedes like so much driftwood behind an Ocean liner, while the future comes at us like a dark juggernaut out of the fog. In short, because we are finite we are in time and subject to its relentless passage, which brings birth and death, growth and decay, choice and circumstance, chance and necessity, geometry and music, drudgery and adventure.

But at the same time -- or timelessness -- human beings may uniquely stand "outside" or "above" the flow of time. We may sit on the river bank and watch it pass, and even write books that attempt to reveal deeper patterns in the flow of time.

In other words, all other animals live in time, not history. But human beings transpose time into history. Once we fully realize the implications of this, we can awaken from that particular nightmare and live in a transhistorical position, which is a sort of inverse analogy of the prehistorical position, since we are conscious of what the cave dweller was only unconscious. Do you see the point? Truly, it is as if there is pre-Enlightenment man, vulgar Enlightenment man, and civilized post-enlightenment man. The pre- and the post- share some characteristics, but the post- has been burnished by the fires of history.

Schuon expresses it well: "What is human is what is natural to man, and what is most essentially or most specifically natural to man is what relates to the Absolute and which consequently requires the transcending of what is earthly in man.... There is a great deal of talk these days about 'humanism,' talk which forgets that once man abandons his prerogatives to matter, to machines, to quantitative knowledge, he ceases to be truly 'human'.... What is most profoundly and authentically human rejoins the Divine by definition."

What this means is that mere Enlightenment man is necessarily less than a man, for he has exiled himself from his own origin and center. He is permanently "stuck" in the middle of time and history, with no way out or up.

Elsewhere Schuon writes with characteristic precision and lucidity that man posseses "objectivity of intelligence: the capacity to see things as they are in themselves; next, objectivity of will, hence free will; and finally, objectivity of sentiment, or of soul if one prefers: the capacity for charity, disinterested love, compassion. [T]he 'human miracle' must have a reason for being that is proportionate to its nature, and it is this that predestines -- or 'condemns' -- man to surpass himself; man is totally himself only by transcending himself. Quite paradoxically, it is only in transcending himself that man reaches his proper level; and no less paradoxically, by refusing to transcend himself he sinks below the animals which -- by their form and mode of passive contemplativity -- participate adequately and innocently in a celestial archetype; in a certain respect, a noble animal is superior to a vile man."

Now, the noble Raccoon not only transposes time into history, but history into transhistory, AKA, the Adventure of Consciousness (or "Journey to God," if you like). Rather than looking at consciousness as a mere side effect of the chance arrangements of matter, he turns the cosmos outside in and right side up, and sees consciousness as a "projection" of eternity into time.

This is how it is that history exists. It is how Man exists. It is how consciousness exists. It is how Life exists. It is how the Cosmos itself exists. But it is also why they exist and why they must exist in any Cosmos worthy of the name. A Cosmos will be alive and conscious, or it will not be a Cosmos, just an incoherent chaosmos. But a chaosmos is strictly impossible, for it is a contradiction in terms. Chaos -- like any change -- can only exist as a privation. We can only know of it because there is order, just as we can only know of the change of Darwinism because the human soul is of the substance of changelessness.

Things are not only caused horizontally by the past and the "below." Rather, their ultimate cause must emanate from the "future" and the "above," which is why there are different quasi-autonomous or "discontinuously continuous" worlds such as physics, biology, psychology, theology -- or matter, life, mind and spirit. Clearly, if you have even a rudimentary post-enlightenment grasp of things, you realize that manifest existence must flow in the ontologically prior direction of Spirit--> Mind --> Life--> Matter. You know, One Cosmos Under God. The alternative is just too stupid -- and boring -- to waste one's time on, which is to say, one's life, mind and spirit, i.e., eternity.

I would like to briefly discuss this in the context of a short but extremely relevant article by Schuon called The Symbolism of the Hourglass. Schuon's account of this symbolism is in perfect accord with everything we have discussed above.

In its ordinary use, the hourglass is "a symbol of time and death." The flowing sand signifies the irreversibility of time, as the substance of our being gradually dissipates into death. Furthermore, "the sterility of sand evokes the nothingness of things as mere earthly accidents," while "the cessation of movement reminds us that the heart will stop and life will end."

However, looked at another way, we can see that the two compartments "represent the high and the low, heaven and earth." On the one hand, there is a flowing movement and a "pole of attraction" that pours from eternity into time, spirit into matter, i.e., (↓). But as mentioned above, the method and the goal of Raccoon spirituality involves turning the cosmos upside-down -- which is to say, right side up. Thus, as Schuon explains,

"Spiritually, a movement toward the higher is always a sort of turning upside down, for the soul turns away from the world, which imprisons and disperses it, thus reversing the movement of its will or love." In other words, we invert the hourglass -- or ourglass, as it were -- "so that the heavenly attraction should be represented by an ascending movement of the sand into the upper compartment," i.e., (↑). This is why our aspiration is simultaneously an attraction, or a movement into the orbit of the Great Attractor. Indeed, it is why spiritual aspiration "goes somewhere" instead of just in circles.

I am reminded of a Star Trek episode I saw the other night. It had to do with a parallel universe where lived a "mad" version of a sane individual from the other universe. The madman was traveling through hyperspace, enviously trying to destroy the sane one. However, if the two should actually make contact, it would instantaneously destroy both universes. Either Kirk or Spock made the comment that there was a "circular" area where the two dimensions made contact and the two could pass back and forth.

This got me to thinking of how the different dimensions of the cosmos relate. For example, "mind" is clearly in a different dimension than matter. And yet, there is a point of contact, most notably in the human head. This immediately made me think of the small circle that separates the upper and lower dimensions of the hourglass.

But in the cosmic deli, there are not just the two chambers, but many, depending upon how finely one wishes to slice the ontological salami. For example, in Wilber's Integral Psychology, he has an appendix of detailed charts that correlate various levels of spirit from different traditions. However, the takeaway point is that in each case, the lower is explained by the higher, not vice versa. The higher is ontologically prior, but temporally later -- which is a truism that the Darwinist simply cannot wrap his unevolved mind around.

Back to the symbolism of the hourglass. The following description by Schuon exactly parallels how I explained it in chapter four of my book: "The expression 'poles of attraction' calls to mind the image of two magnetic centers, one above and one below.... the world attracts like a magnetic center, but at the same time it is diverse and disperses; the 'Kingdom of Heaven' also attracts like a magnet, but at the same time it is infinite and it expands."

Again, between them is that tiny circle which is none other than the "narrow path" or "strait gate" through which camels and lizards cannot pass.

31 Comments:

Blogger Van said...

"Once your life bears on eternity, then the implications of your every action have a kind of quasi-infinite resonance. I won't say "infinite," since that is a category reserved for the Absolute, but you know what I mean. Your entire life is transposed to a higher key, several octaves above the aimless absurcularity of the flatland atheist croaking his repetitive ditties about the glories of matter."

And on the other (meaning left) hand, when all is seen as change, with no reference to any permanence to anchor to, there is just going to be one, repetitive... droning... atonal... buzz, for which any ol' smile will do.

Animatronic robot? Wax figure? Complete Leftist? The difference being...? (T/W The Gunslinger

wv:myesses
ssssssssssssss

9/28/2009 09:21:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"What this means is that mere Enlightenment man is necessarily less than a man, for he has exiled himself from his own origin and center. He is permanently "stuck" in the middle of time and history, with no way out or up."

I think I missed something... Enlightenment man, or scientistic darwinista man? It was Enlightenment Man which discovered the human unity of Religion and Science in Classical Liberalism, reaching it's pinacle with the U.S. Constitution, and then going into steep decline and post enlightenment with Kant. Am I fixing too much on historic terms, rather than figurative?

9/28/2009 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I think you have to distinguish between the radical French Enlightenment and the sensible Anglo-Scot Enlightenment, the latter of which obviously included a profoundly religious dimension. Current leftists don't have much in common with our Enlightenment.

9/28/2009 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Rather than looking at consciousness as a mere side effect of the chance arrangements of matter, he turns the cosmos outside in and right side up, and sees consciousness as a "projection" of eternity into time."

GONGGGGGggggggggg....

9/28/2009 09:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent post. The previous posts seem to taste better after aging for awhile.

One idea you put forth is that the vertical human element is a-priori to the horizontal.

This explains why a materialist can be converted to a god lover, but a god lover cannot be converted to a materialist. (Don't be fooled by testimony "I lost my faith because God took my ___and no real God would do that." Such a statement indicates the god-love was not established).

Because god love is a human default setting or a substrate upon which the materialist pathology rides as a coating or overlay, then it makes sense that to strip off the erroneous overlay will result in an automatic reversion to truth.

In my opinion the overlay is composed of material kicked up by the primal fear of non-being, which is an automatic consequence of being incarnated.

This primal fear can be either be inflamed or soothed by parents, and depending on which happens you get a materialist or a god lover, respectively.

9/28/2009 09:49:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Gagdad said "I think you have to distinguish between the radical French Enlightenment and the sensible Anglo-Scot Enlightenment, the latter of which obviously included a profoundly religious dimension. Current leftists don't have much in common with our Enlightenment."

Ok, yep, that's what I thought. In my mind the french fried half of the enlightenment (Descartes, Rousseau...), I don't think of as The Enlightenment proper, but it’s ending beginning - nor the points where it’s stale fry oil spilled into the English branch (through Hume, Godwin, Bentham and J.S. Mill) which embalmed the once living Liberalism into the death mask of leftism.

9/28/2009 09:51:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

In my reading, I'm constantly bumping into Uncle William and finding that he was as morally insane as any contemporary leftist.

9/28/2009 09:57:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Ooh... swift and sure are the hammer and pliers of Cuz Dupree… I hadn’t even got the bat up to swing, and whamO!!! Outta da park!

9/28/2009 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Gagdad said “…I'm constantly bumping into Uncle William and finding that he was as morally insane as any contemporary leftist.”

Yep, he’s not much mentioned anymore, but he was rock star popular in his day, and I think did more than anyone else to inject Rousseau’s ‘necessity’ determinism into a respected position for rejecting and discarding any ‘notion’ of Free Will. In more ways than One, he was the father of the mother of Frankenstein.

9/28/2009 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

("inject Rousseau’s ‘necessity’ determinism into a respected position for rejecting and discarding any ‘notion’ of Free Will."... into English thought.)

wv:perti
eh... not so much.

9/28/2009 10:07:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Character is so often expressed in 'little things', and in contradiction to stated claims.

Congress flies tattered, neglected flags:
"Joe Davis, a spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, expressed dismay at the condition of the House office building flags. "There is no excuse for any American, most especially a government entity, to fly an unserviceable flag. All those elected officials and all their staffers see that flag every single day, and not a single person noticed? That's not right and that's not how you treat the flag of our country," he said."

People of the highest character, often pay what others consider to be 'inordinate concern' to small details, and those same people often make snide comments at the seemingly unfair 'luck' those people enjoy, while their own concern for 'big issues' again and again unluckily collapse in defeat.

9/28/2009 10:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Gazriel said...

Bob said..."In other words, all other animals live in time, not history. But human beings transpose time into history. Once we fully realize the implications of this, we can awaken from that particular nightmare and live in a transhistorical position, which is a sort of inverse analogy of the prehistorical position, since we are conscious of what the cave dweller was only unconscious. "

This is very interesting, and woven deeply into my current line of thinking. Particularly, seeing history-both personal and collective-as a narrative that is one with yet distinctly differentiated from the timeless Essence of all things (a reality within Reality), should we continue this Earth narrative when we die? Having recognized the part of mySelf which transcends time and space, which abides in Eternal Space and is free from the messy workings of body and mind (as opposed to Mind), it is obvious that this non-local aspect of me can become engrossed and identified with any number of different forms. Understanding that my Will plays a partial yet integral role in my experience of future, where should I focus my intention?

My intuition and inner experience tells me there are very rich (heavenly) abodes to dwell in, but can we continue with this narrative in some fashion for the purpose of service while still dwelling in a spiritual body? What about a the Idea of a super-culture, where all beings walk in gratitude to the Mystery and live long lives filled with abundance, exploration, fascination, and Delight? Where to direct one's Will when it is time to kick the bucket?

Obviously, the most important thing is to stay Awakened to the Miracle. I mean, I already turned away from That once, and I don't plan on doing it again any time soon. That being said, there will assuredly be some type of experience to be enjoyed as this individual entity that I am, this soul, this nous, transfers from this data machine to another. I guess what I am saying is that if I have a choice, I will still be able to perceive and remember this body-mind's personal history as well as Earth's while I navigate into new experiences, new realities, hopefully filled with beings who are aligned with the One. Why? Because having a little me is fun when seen from the perspective of the real Me.

9/28/2009 04:21:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Van,

Howsabout congresscritters get duct taped to the flag-pole in 6hr shifts, like that drunk that burned the flag at a VFW post.

WORKS FOR ME

9/28/2009 04:39:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

$19.6 billion in pork alone, and Congress can't afford a few new flags?

9/28/2009 05:33:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

This was a good post, btw. I think you've managed to achieve a Balthasarian denseness. I've been wanting to comment all day, but everything that comes to mind seems completely inadequate.

Magnus' original comment was one heck of a seed.

9/28/2009 05:51:00 PM  
Blogger baldilocks said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9/28/2009 06:18:00 PM  
Blogger baldilocks said...

In Conflict of Visions,Thomas Sowell uses your Uncle William to illustrate his many points about the Unconstrained Vision.

9/28/2009 06:19:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Uncle William is one of the main reasons I dread those family reunions, when they break out the ouija board. Oddly, enough, William is my middle name...

9/28/2009 06:20:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

off topic, but for anyone who hasn't been to the Motel today, sounds like the Starfishii could use some prayers.

9/28/2009 06:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You said: The higher is ontologically prior, but temporally later -- which is a truism that the Darwinist simply cannot wrap his unevolved mind around.

OK, I'll bite -- "prior" means before, so along what axis can "the higher" be "prior", if not the temporal one? Statements can be logically prior, I guess...but how can something be ontologically prior without being temporally prior? Please explain for the benefit of the unevolved.

9/28/2009 06:58:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Most major league mathematicians are Platonists, in that they believe math is discovered, not invented. Are the laws of physics not prior to their instantiation in matter?

9/28/2009 07:07:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Just saw a big ol' raccoon while out walking the dog! It even hissed at us, which is a good omen. Tomorrow's my lucky day!

9/28/2009 07:38:00 PM  
Blogger Tod said...

Two juvenile raccoons on the back fence under the tree as the wind picked up at dusk. Eyeing the last few tomatoes in what's left of the garden.

9/28/2009 07:53:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

how can something be ontologically prior without being temporally prior? Please explain for the benefit of the unevolved.

Or looked at another way, picture a pile of Legos. Left to their own devices, they don't do anything. Except maybe act as caltrops to the unwary bare foot.

But suppose a child comes along who wants to build a house. The Legos are a great building block with which to realize the idea. The Legos are inert; in themselves, they do not contain the house. It is the ontologically higher house which contains the Legos, and the child which contains the idea of the house and makes use of the materials at hand to bring it into being. The material is temporally prior to the construction and is necessary for it to be realized, but the idea is prior to and ontologically higher than the matter at hand. More broadly, without the drive to create there would be no Legos with which to inspire creativity.

I hope that made sense...

9/28/2009 08:13:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Or let's just say in the beginning was information

9/28/2009 08:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Platonism is all well and good, but even if you adhere to it, it is wrong to speak of the relationship between the world of Platonic forms and their instantiations as "prior". Platonic forms are eternal and timeless and cannot be "prior" to anything. Maybe you mean something like "more foundational"? That would at least start to make sense, although it's still problematic. But then how can "manifest existence must flow in the ontologically prior direction"? Flow is another temporal word. How in the world can existence flow? Maybe it's a metaphor, but for what?

The problem with Platonism is that nobody has come up with a very good way to relate the Platonic world to the everyday world of experience. Mathematicians may be practical Platonists but they don't have a clue about that either, and are smart enough to leave the question to physicists and philosophers and other lesser breeds.

9/29/2009 12:42:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Methinks you are getting the menu confused with the meal.

***

It's 3:30 - do you know where your dreams are?

9/29/2009 03:30:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Anonymous:

I think you've got it backwards, certainly phenomenologically. That is, it is impossible to reconcile any kind of purely exterior and horizontal scientism or materialism with the ontologically prior fact of consciousness. Any way you look at it, mind is the first thing one encounters, on pain of there being nothing to encounter at all, which is an absurdity.

When we use words such as "flow" or "prior," it is always "in a manner of speaking," since we are using terms derived from the horizontal to describe the vertical. Thus, you must accept the words in the spirit they are given. Would you really object to me suggesting that music flows, or that the melody is ontologically prior to the notes?

9/29/2009 04:51:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"how in the world can existence flow?"

Or, how in the world could it not? Everything that exists does so in patterns of flowing rhythm, i.e., temporal resonances. Nothing is static in the terrestrial world, but that is only the case because it is related to the atemporal, as the many are to One -- or like a spiral around an axis.

9/29/2009 04:58:00 AM  
Blogger sehoy said...

The Great Dance

9/29/2009 06:44:00 AM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

"Would you really object to me suggesting that music flows, or that the melody is ontologically prior to the notes?"

wv:tooton

9/29/2009 09:01:00 AM  

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