Saturday, April 18, 2009

Antichrist Update Vol. 8: Left Wing Gnostics and their Chronic Temperament Tantrum

Two relighted posts from a year ago, guaranteed to innertain. I'm going back to calling them "Antichrist Updates." Why? Either because I'm being ironically polemical, or maybe because I sense one of those nasty world-historical inversions taking place, or perhaps because I'm more than ever aware of the demonic spiritual energy that animates our seething cauldron of idversaries. You decide. Or deicide, as the case may be.


There's a reason why hardcore leftists -- I mean, the true believers, not just the typical confused or dim Democrat -- are such assouls, since political inclination has more to do with temperament than people might realize. Being that the B'ob is temperamentally sunny, lighthearted, and so very gay, he could never find his soul's rest in leftism, which is predicated on such anger, envy, bitterness, paranoia, leaden seriousness, deep unhappiness, and general "sourness." For the leftist, life sucks, and only the government can turn things around and make it really blow.

That being the case, one wonders how Barry Obama, the young stoner with the seemingly laid back, live-and-let-live "island temperament," could be a member of an angry and paranoid church that preaches racial supremacy, America hatred, anti-Semitism, and other vile doctrines that can only find fertile soil in a soul that is already enraged and looking for a place to organize, focus, and project the rage? In other words, this kind of church doesn't make you nuts. You have to be a nut in order for it to appeal to you in the first place.

First of all, by his own admission, Obama has struggled with the notion of "identity." Now, most mainstream commentators -- since they are virtually all materialists -- have reduced this to a superficial materialistic analysis, i.e., that he is "bi-racial" (as if there can even be such a thing outside the race-obsessed leftist's mind), so that he was essentially left without a tribe. And in primitive tribal culture, a man without a tribe is a dead man. A leftist without his tribe is like a bee without a hive, or an ant without a hill, or a rapper without his posse.

Again, this all follows from the leftist's cosmological inversion, in which existence precedes essence, rather than vice versa. In other words, on any properly spiritual view, one is born with a spiritual essence that is anterior to existence, as it is "created" by God, not a contingent result of accidental cultural and historical forces, such as raceclassgendersexualorientation. Therefore, the idea that any leftist candidate could ever be "post-racial" is not even a lie, it's an absurdity. It would be like a sheep running for shepherd on the grounds that he will be a post-flock candidate. He can bleat about this all day long, but it is in the nature of sheep to identify with the flock.

Likewise, the Democrat party is a coalition of groups, not individuals or consistent ideas. It is a "herd of independent group minds," a Big Chief Crazy Quilt of flocking idiots, journalistic hack animals, buffaloed herds, moveable riots, mass rally crying jags, giant snit-ins and other demonstrations of affect, schools of economic fish stories, snivel rights agitators, cairing allahgators, heards of poor listeners, whordes of sex-workers, feline prides of lyin' shemales, educational kennels of K - 9 kosbags, pods of peaheaded publications, plagues of lawyering locusts, boring nests of teeming tenuremites, coops of chicks who look more like dudes, and gaggles of gaydom and boring Goredom spanning the gamut from goofy weathermen to those who don't know whether they're men.

So Obama, in order to be a viable Democrat, had to tap into one of the prominent streams of anger, envy, bitterness, and divisiveness that define and animate the left. Oddly, his whole appeal was based on the misperception that he was beyond this sort of destructive divisiveness, but this is about as realistic as an Arab leader claiming to be "beyond the differences between Muslim and Jew," without which they could not be an Arab leader. For what does the Arab political world have to recommend itself except for an officially sanctioned target for their overflowing rage, envy, sexual insecurity, and low self-esteem? In other words, all the Arab leader has to offer his people is death to Israel.

Similarly, what does the Democrat leader have to offer his various tribes except for Bush, or Cheney, or Rove, or Halliburton, or the Wealthy, or scary Christians, or Creationists, or White Racists, or misogynists, or "homophobes," or the End of the World? What's left of the Left if you remove these "containers" of projected rage and fear? Only the free-floating rage and fear.

Now, America was founded as a -- as the -- Culture of Liberty. But as it so happens, there is no liberty without individuals, and no individual without liberty. (By the way, this is one of the areas where I strongly disagree with the "integral movement," which talks about a "higher we," which is actually just Marxism in disguise, and why they are almost always on the left; there's already a "higher we," i.e., the Body of Christ, understood in its Cosmic dimension -- in other words, the cosmic Body of Christ is the proper "we" with which the individual "I" may be reconciled, bearing in mind that this Christ is merely focussed in the lens of Christianity, but permeates the spiritual dimension in a nonlocal manner, "blowing where it will" in "other sheep who are not of this fold.")

For example, William F. Buckley, the founder of the modern conservative intellectual movement, was primarily concerned with preserving the individual, and for obvious reasons. I don't know if you had the chance to read the commemorative edition of National Review, but after reading all the eulogies and tributes, one comes away with the overwhelming impression that there has never been someone like this, nor will there ever be again.

This was a man who incarnated American ideals by utilizing liberty to actualize his potential in the most extraordinarily diverse ways, but always in the context of the "higher we" of the "American spirit," so to speak. It was not individualism for its own sake, but in order to "become" everything that his Creator intended for him to be, which is the purpose and vector of our liberty. His political philosophy came down to arguing that "the culture of liberty deserves to survive": "freedom anticipates, and contingently welcomes and profits from, what happens following the calisthenics of the free mind, always supposing that that freedom does not lead the mind to question the very value of freedom, or the value and authority of civil and moral virtues so to designate themselves."

Thus Buckley's unwavering -- but good natured -- hostility to the left. "Good natured" because he knew that life was short and that there was no ultimate salvation in politics anyway. Perhaps the best we can hope for is a righteous battle in a (horizontally) lost cause, but that's life, and it is surely Christianity.

And this is indeed the broad purpose of the spiritual life -- or let us just say "life": to become what you already are. The purpose can never be to become what the group wishes for you to be, for this is slavery, not liberty. Classical liberalism enshrines a sort of liberty that implicitly promotes the use of it for higher ends, since it is a "gift" given for that purpose. Its alternative -- leftism in all its forms -- enshrines the idea that your liberty is a privilege granted by the state, subject to revocation if you do not use it to promote slavery, whether intellectual, political, spiritual, sexual, or economic, for liberty is One.

As Michael Heller argues in Creative Tension, postmodernism has succeeded in displacing man from the "privileged margin" to an "average center" of the cosmos. In other words, flatland materialism actually effaces the spiritual individual and replaces him with the selfish atom, as it were, so that Man's true existential needs -- which are intrinsically spiritual -- can never be engaged in any meaningful way.

Yes, the One became many so that the many might become One. But not so the bourgeois could become the faceless proletariat, or so that you and I and our children's children could slave away not just to fund the fantasies of the left, but to work toward the abolition of Mankind and the individuals of which it is composed.


It's a shame when one perfectly good word gets tarred by another through no fault of its own. A case in point is genuine spiritual gnosis vs. the political "gnosticism" discussed by the philosopher Eric Voegelin. In the April 7, 2008 National Review, Jonah Goldberg has an insightful article on the politics of left wing gnosticism as it pertains to the Obama campaign, a campaign that goes to the very core of the left's spiritual pathology. It again demonstrates what happens when one abandons the "authorized" channels of religiosity for manmade ones, which ends up elevating man to a god and politics to his religion. In so doing, it collapses the critical distinctions between time and eternity, natural and transnatural, freedom and constraint, and other essential complementarities within which man lives -- and without which he isn't a man at all.

One difference between gnosis and gnosticism is that people without spiritual gnosis -- e.g., atheists and materialists -- are necessarily "exterior" to the domain it discloses, and yet, proclaim this infirmity to be a kind of superiority, or ultimate health. But in reality, a person who is not seduced by the group fantasies of left wing gnosticism is in a superior position to judge them, since he remains within the confines of objective spiritual reality.

In this regard, it would be interesting to know how many of Obama's supporters, like Obama himself, belong to heretical gnostic Christian churches that preach a spiritually inverted "liberation theology," as this would tend to confirm my view that real religion is the best defense against false ones.

We shouldn't be surprised that the spiritual path of the left mirrors the universal stages of purification, illumination and union, only in reverse. First comes union with the new messiah. For example, Goldberg notes that "Obama recruiters are encouraged to proselytize not by talking about 'issues' but by testifying about how they 'came to' the candidate..." In short, there must be a "conversion" process, a "metanoia," in which the scales suddenly fall from the Obamian's eyes -- i.e., he "sees" the truth, the thigh tingles, and he joins the cult.

Goldberg writes that "Obama’s apostles include his wife, Michelle, who insists she is 'married to the only person in this race who has a chance at healing this nation.'" In this regard, she has testified that “We need a leader who’s going to touch our souls because, you see, our souls are broken.... The change Barack is talking about is hard, so don’t get too excited, because Barack is going to demand that you, too, be different.”

Thus, after one merges with Obama and is illuminated by the Truth for which he stands, ones commences with the hard work of purification, as we struggle to make ourselves worthy of the grace we have received. In other words, ask not what Obama can do for you. Ask what you can do for Obama.

Goldberg cites numerous examples to show how much of the messianic language that encircles Obama "is more New Age than New Testament." He quotes Gary Hart, who says that the Anointed One "is not operating on the same plane as ordinary politicians,” but is an "agent of transformation in an age of revolution,” whatever that means. Likewise, the dreadful spirit hustler and enlightenment pimp, Deepak Chopra, claims that Obama represents “a quantum leap in American consciousness,” while another pneumapath and career guru, Eve Konstantine, says that he “is our collective representation of our purest hopes, our highest visions and our deepest knowings.... He’s our product out of the all-knowing quantum field of intelligence.” (Deepest knowings? She doesn't even know that "knowings" isn't a word.) And Oprah Winfrey suggests that Obama doesn't only "speak" truth but is the Truth who will help us “evolve to a higher plane.” Ironically, such sentiments are possible only in a Christianized mind that is no longer Christian.

Of course, in left wing gnosticism, God does not work through the individual. Nor does he work through the interior collective, or any kind of "higher we." Rather, he works through the instrument of that coerced labor camp known as "the state," which will take control over the spontaneous order of the free market and attenuate the true "interior bonds" of civil society. For progressives, liberty is not the solution, it's the problem, because it tends to lead to the exercise of free will, which in turn emphasizes the sanctity of the individual.

The heart of Goldberg's piece involves a discussion of Voegelin's point that progressivism is a political religion and therefore a form of gnosticism. This religion has "two core assumptions. First, it condemns the existing world as broken and alienating, plagued by evil forces preventing a complete and happy restoration of man’s spiritual and material life."

So the progressive, in his own garbled way, recognizes that man is "fallen." However, "the gnostic promise, to borrow a phrase from John Edwards, is that 'it doesn’t have to be this way.'" Thus, the second assumption; as Russell Kirk observed, these religions promise "a mode of deliverance or salvation from the prison of the world for man through a secret gnosis." By manipulating people with the right policies, we can create a "'kingdom of heaven on earth' -- not coincidentally, a phrase invoked by Bolsheviks, progressives, fascists, and every other variety of utopian collectivist. This effort to lasso the hereafter and pull it down to the here-and-now was dubbed by Voegelin 'immanentizing the eschaton'" (Goldberg).

Different denominations of leftism will have different secret formulas and incantations to create their utopia. For Marxists, "the secret lay in the intricacies of scientific socialism.' With just the right manipulation of material or historical forces we could -- ta-da! -- create a land where each lives according to his need.... For the progressives, the trick was giving ourselves over to the social planners and gnostic 'ideologists of Christ'.... today, the secret is Barack Obama." Goldberg cites a creepy video "in which children testify about the dire state of the world." It then "cuts to a baby opening a copy of The Audacity of Hope, complete with a whispery spirit voice promising a 'secret.' The video concludes with one child after another announcing that the secret is -- Barack Obama."

As I mentioned above, the wave of Obama support rides on a deep structure of religious energy that is unrecognized by those most susceptible to it. In fact, as Goldberg says -- and as I have noted in the past -- "the craving to create a heaven on earth is the inevitable consequence of a godless society." Or, to paraphrase Pope Benedict, "the loss of transcendence leads to the flight to utopia."

The very definition of "totalitarianism" is the "existential rule of Gnostic activists": "Indeed, the story of totalitarianism is the story of men trying to replace the allegedly discredited old God with one of their own creation." So de-divinization always preceeds the "redivinization" of explicit left wing brainwashing. This is certainly how it worked for me in college. First you discredit religion, and then replace it with with a pseudo-religion that occupies the vacant spiritual territory. It took me years to undo this ironically named "higher education," which specifically forecloses the higher.

From this follows the worship of man -- not even Man as Such, the image and likeness of the Creator -- but usually a man. "Or, in Voegelin’s words, they 'build the corpus mysticum of the collectivity and bind the members to form the oneness of the body.” In short, we finally become the anonymous ones we’ve been waiting for. Or, more accurately, you will be forced to wait upon the narcissism and self-victimization of the infantile ones constituting the progressive mob.

Time to cowboy up!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Live Wires, Power Failures, and the Curved Space of Politics

If we think of truth as a kind of power that courses through the arteries of the cosmos, there are paths of low or high resistance, capacitors, fuses, outlets, grounding, etc. I'm at a handicap here, because I got a D in my 8th grade electronics course. Now that I think about it, I distinctly recall blowing up the big capacitor while conducting some kind of test on the Graybar crystal radio I was supposed to be building. That smell stays with you....

So I don't know why I'm using this analogy, because it can only end in a lot of acrid smoke in classroom. But the image and smell came to me in HvB's discussion of the transmission of truth, which is a far stranger phenomenon than we realize, especially when we are talking about truths that transcend the material. After all, it is not the least bit problematic to explain the transmission of a purely empirical or rational truth, say, "two and two is four," or "mtraven's skull is unusually thick."

But it is much more tricky to explain the transmission of aesthetic or spiritual truth, because this will depend upon a host of factors, some of which we do not control, e.g., grace. Also, the higher we ascend up the spiritual ladder, the more we will confront the question of qualifications, both in the transmitter and the receiver. A good transmitter has no effect on a poor receiver, while a good receiver who is exposed only to bad transmissions can end up as contaminated as Keith Olbermann's soul.

HvB notes that there are certain people of whom the most we can expect of them is that they do not damage the truth while passing it along. Such a person may still be capable of transmitting truth, so long as they do not try to get involved in it, because they will inevitably mess it up. In this regard, one sympathizes with the Catholic or Orthodox, who try to at least "do no harm" to the truth in passing it along to the next generation, as opposed to the various protestant sects that distort the truth in highly subjective, idiosyncratic, and deviant ways.

This is surely not to criticize all forms of protestantism, but one has to admit that the wackos to whom I refer are "out there" (and there are, of course, many confused and and/or malevolent liberals within Catholicism). Indeed, I'm afraid that much of the so-called "religious right" might well be composed of such individuals, although it also seems that the sincere rank-and-file believer is in some way "protected" by the Holy Spirit in spite of the church he finds himself in.

It's more the leaders who cause the problems. I could be wrong, but that's my perception. It's somewhat analogous to the distinction between the truth of conservatism vis-a-vis what happens by the time it trickles down into the brain of the typical moron Republican pol. Then the real damage occurs, because people take them as exemplars of conservatism.

So first and foremost, we must be faithful conduits of the truth of which we are not the source. At the very least, we must do no harm to it as it passes through us.

As HvB explains, it is possible for "the truth of a Plato or Augustine" to "be transmitted by those who do not draw inward life from it." These would be analogous to all those uninspired teachers who made you hate school so much -- and probably Sunday school as well.

Being that truth is very much "alive," it's just not appropriate that it should pass through a medium who is anything less than alive, because it can lead one to conclude that the truth is "dead" or inanimate. For example, without question, we can see how the evangelists of atheism treat spiritual truth as a dead thing -- which it surely is for them. Thus, they are simply following their first principle to its logical conclusion (another fine example of how perfectly executed logic leads to pure error).

But a Raccoon is like a frog, in that we are only interested in consuming living food. Place a dead fly in front of a frog, and he'll starve to death.

I try always to be the teacher I wish I had had, by which I mean that I want to first and foremost demonstrate what happens when the truth is "alive" in oneself. In all of my schooling, I really only had two such teachers, and each had a profound effect upon me. For truly, irrespective of what they were discussing, "the medium was the message," the medium being a soul alive to truth and enthusiastically transmitting it to others in a purely spontaneous way. Neither man ever relied upon notes, but very much engaged in what I now know to be O-->(n). When in this mode, one will transmit an automatic "charisma," at least to the sensitive.

And bear in mind that these descriptions all have deeply theological implications, e.g., charisma is from charis (divine favor or gift), en-thusiasm is to be brimming with God, and to be in-spired is to be filled with spirit. Obviously, many people are taken in by Obama's patently false charisma and en-thusiasm, for both vanish when he is separated from the TOTUS and he is reduced to a tedious and stuttering, gaffe-prone cypher. I am quite sure he is able to fool secular folks, because he has the imitation of O-->(n) down pat, and secular people wouldn't be secular if they were familiar with the real thing.

Again, so long as we don't do damage to the truth, it can still shine through a mediocre receptacle. Remember Mrs. G.'s experience a few weeks ago, at the ceremony involving Cardinal Mahoney? In that circumstance she instinctively did exactly the right thing by imagining that it was Christ speaking, not Mahoney.

HvB explains that truth can "shine through" such a flawed vehicle, so that "the sacramental graces of Christ are efficacious irrespective of the worthiness of the priest who dispenses them." I should hope so! I should hope that the power transmitted by the priest -- or any wholly man -- is not self-generated, or we're all in trouble.

But by the same token, HvB cautions that in such a situation, truth does not escape entirely "unscathed." Here he sounds very much like Schuon, when he writes that "the medium absorbs a portion of the rays that ought to have shone through it, whereas a suitable medium would amplify the luminosity of what it mediates."

This is a fascinating observation, again because it is so palpably and empirically true. For clearly, there are people who "amplify" the electrical charge, so to speak (HvB being one of them), which, if I remember correctly, is the function of the capacitor alluded to above, in the first paragraph.

But there are others who "drain" some of the charge, like an energy-inefficient appliance. I'm sure you've had this experience. It's the first thing I think of when I open my door to those Christian missionaries who somehow radiate their darkness -- the darkness into which the light is swallowed. I don't mean they are sinister or diabolical. They can be quite sweet, if at times a bit robotic.

So ideally, we want to receive that charge, and then "amplify" it. This very much reminds me of something Mouravieff wrote about in Gnosis. Not sure which volume. Let me see if I can track it down.

Here it is. He calls it "the law of seven." As I read it, it is somewhat analogous to the principle of entropy, or "the destructive character of time," only as applied to the spiritual plane. The law of seven has to do with countering this tendency toward information loss and eventual destruction.

I think a lot of his explanation is needlessly technical and mystagogic, but the conclusion strikes me as sound: for a movement going toward a definite goal to continue without deviation in the same direction, it is necessary to impart to it adequate additional impulses at specific moments and points. This is because, if left to itself, the original impulse will tend to curve back on itself, so you will end up where you started -- very similar to the idea of curved space in the physical realm. This would speak to the need for "perpetual metanoia," or repentance.

Indeed, you could say that psychic space is "curved," so that a kind of constant effort is required in order to move in a straight line -- the line between man and God. Mouravieff describes a subtle but inevitable shift that occurs if we are not aware of the law of seven, not just in religion, but also in politics. Take the example of the "Reagan Revolution." It began with the proper impulses that pulled us out of the entropy of dead and discredited leftism. But then what happened? The effort did not continue, and the law of seven took over. So now we're back to Jimmy Carter and 1976, as if the revolution never happened! Truly, political space is curved.

Not only that, but this new counter-revolution is even attempting to overturn the original revolution of America's founders, which is provoking the real energy behind the tea parties. But unless that energy is converted to real truth-power channeled through adequate political intermediaries, the left could very succeed in blowing up the American experiment. I can already smell the acrid smoke. Time to install some resistors and smoke detectors.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Cultured Vultures and Refined White Trash

Interesting. HvB must have stumbled upon MOTT at the time he was working on the Theo-Drama, because volume III begins with a quote by Unknown Friend. It has to do with the idea that the Christian message makes no sense to those who worship only wisdom or power rather than the God of freedom and love.

Come to think of it, I should really try to weave in some of the Theo-Drama while we're discussing the Theo-Logic, since I'm currently well into the former, and it's more on my mind. It is full of provocative and paradoxical insights that I don't think I'll be able to assimilate until I've gotten to the end of the series, or the "last act" of the play.

Just the idea of God's revelation being a drama that unfolds through time is pregnant with meaning. For example, HvB compares the Father to the author of the play, the latter of whom is always "transcendent" to his work, very much like the Dreamer of your dreams. In order to make the play come to life, it will require actors, a stage, and a director. While realizing the inadequacy of the analogy, HvB compares "the God-man with the play's hero and the divine Spirit with the director."

But what about us? Well, on the one hand, we are the audience. But this is an unusual play -- you know, one of those postmodern ones that breaks the rules of drama -- in that the "fourth wall" of the stage is transgressed: "man is startled out of his spectator's seat and dragged onto the 'stage'; the distinction between stage and auditorium becomes fluid, to say the least."

For example, what's happening right at this moment? Am I writing about the theo-drama? Or am I now a participant on the stage? What about you? How did we get here? This is not my beautiful house. Water dissolving... and water removing. Into the blue again, into the silent water. Under the rocks and stones, there is water underground.

Who could disagree? Speaking of once in a lifetime pop references, HvB's erudition is at times off-putting, because it seems to literally be the case that he has seen, memorized, and interpreted every great drama that has ever been staged, from the ancient Greeks to 20th century masters such as Eugene O'Neill or Bertold Brecht, and everything in between. And not just the major works, but all of them. Which is fine. The problem is, he's constantly making reference to these, as if the mere mortal is supposed to be able to make sense of what he's referring to. I won't bore you with examples.

Where did the man find the time to attend the theatre every night? Because on top of that, he is also thoroughly familiar with every novel, every painting, every poet, every theologian, and every philosopher. He talks about a fine point of Hegel or Heidegger in the way you or I might talk about David Byrne or the Talking Heads or the Honeymooners or Gilligan's Island.

Then I realized. We simply are what we are exposed to, and that is what he spent his life being exposed to. You know the old crack, "the soul is all it knows." He probably didn't do anything special. He just never spent a moment watching sports on TV, playing video games, or listening to Boss Radio KHJ in the 1960s.

Since I did the latter -- obsessively -- I know more musical trivia from 1965-1973 than any other person I've ever met. I didn't "try" to memorize it. It's just that especially when you're young, your mind is truly a sponge that sops up everything in sight, with no participation of the will. Indeed, I've long since forgotten the things I "tried" to remember in school. Who knows what the soul will remember and use to develop and articulate itself?

We have no control over the cultural environment into which we are born, so we are placed in the position of using whatever materials are at hand to guide us through our soul journey. Again, we all must identify the people and objects we need in order to find and articulate our true self. But is it possible to do this with "low culture," so to speak, not just the immortals -- the Shakespeares, Dantes, Bachs, and all the rest?

I hope so! After all, Jesus was not a "cultured" man. This is obviously a critical point, for one of the most provocative elements of the Theo-Drama is that God should cast such a lowborn "nobody from nowhere" in the lead role. He didn't choose a prince, a scholar, a religious authority, or an affluent man with the leisure to attend the latest works of Seneca the Younger. You know what they say: nothing cool comes out of Nazareth.

Nor was anything groovy supposed to come out of Liverpool, or Hibbing, or Hoboken, but I don't think we would have ever had the Beatles, Sinatra, or Dylan if they had grown up in London, or Beverly Hills, or the upper east side of Manhattan. Not to romanticize material and cultural impoverishment, but I think the creative genius can take just about anything and turn it into art, whereas many more privileged people can take any cultural treasure and turn it into kitsch. Look what Pinch has done with the New York Times, or Obama to the Constitution.

Is this post going anywhere? What is my point? Take the example of Lileks. Look at how he is able to take so many seemingly worthless cultural artifacts that nobody notices, and elevate them to some kind of weird transcendence. How does he do it?

Simple. The man is a genius, and when stuff gets filtered through a genius, it somehow gets elevated beyond itself. This is the secret of the great blues musicians -- Howlin' Wolf, or Muddy Water, or John Lee Hooker. Sure, it looks simple, but you try turning three chords and a tapping foot into transcendent art. Creedence Clearwater is "simple." But if you think simple is easy, let's see you produce a perfect song such as Born on the Bayou.

So I was thinking along these lines the other day in contemplating HvB's freakish erudition. Then it dawned on me that I know as much as he does, except that it's all different stuff. But I don't go around tossing out all of these bobscure references that I know no one else will get. Sure, I could talk about the fine points of the cult classic of sunshine pop by the Yellow Balloon, but what would be the point? I could go on and on about the twin telecaster and freight train rhythm of the Buckaroos, but how many readers are connoisseurs of the Bakersfield Sound? I could talk all day about the healing powers of Liquored Up & Lacquered Down by Southern Culture on the Skids, but who else would know what I'm talking about?

So I am a cultured man. It's just that I take culture where I find it, and try to Bobtize it, which is all a man can do. In fact, this is what I was trying to do in the Coonifesto -- see p. 298, footnote 6.

All right. Enough of that. Back to serious business, The Administration of Truth. How's this for starters: "God does not wish to be in sole charge of the truth but appoints human beings to be his joint administrators." How do we know this? Because we can know and administer truth, that's how. To be shattered by truth can never be a "neutral" experience, devoid of any moral imperative. Rather, it seems that to know truth always carries with it the responsibility to tell -- and even "be" -- truth. How strange!

But even the leftist is aware of this meta-truth -- for example, in their absurd self-flattery about "speaking truth to power." Of course it's not true, but they believe it is true, again because this is what truth does: it speaks down to power. But not just any power. Rather, it speaks to -- and convicts -- purely worldly power. But since the left is all about worldly power, the best thing we can say about them is that they are a bunch of spiritual perverts sitting on a park bench, eyeing little girls with bad intent and watching the frilly panties run.

Because man is spirit, he "must bear witness to truth." One way or the other, you could say that man is condemned to truth -- either embracing it or fleeing from it. But "embrace" is a misleading term, for that subtly implies "containment," which is something we can never do. Rather, we can only "open" and surrender to truth, which comes at us from all directions: from deep within ourselves, from others, from the world, and from God. We must be open to all of these sources, and somehow metabolize them into a living unity.

And none of this can take place in the absence of freedom, which is again why the left is such a deathly caricature of liberalism. Statism and political correctness are death to truth, or simply death for short. Truth can only be spiritually "disclosed," not coerced by the state or culture. We must bear free witnesses to truth, not be compelled to give only a preconceived testimony on the witless stand of political correctness.

I would go even further: in the absence of the God of love, it is not possible to sincerely embrace and disclose truth, for a whole host of reasons. After all, there is a reason why we have people swear on the Bible in a court of law. Why not have scientists do the same? For if a scientist were to swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, he might be far more circumspect in his grandiose truth claims.

Yes, for the benefit of readers in Rio Linda, that was a rhetorical point. But HvB is perfectly accurate when he says that "The mouth of falsehod can be dripping with individual truths; it can build up astoundingly, flawlessly coherent systems. But, detached from the fundamental movement of love, even these formally correct propositions serve falsehood, and their 'truth' only helps to multiply it."

Folks, love it or hate it, that's what you always get here at One Cosmos: my honest testimony, to which I swear on a stack of Van Morrison CDs.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Just Say Yes to Drags

(For those of you who missed the '60s or didn't see Austin Powers, a drag is a boring or tiresome person.)

There is a rabbinical saying that those who are kind to the cruel will be cruel to the kind. I thought of this upon hearing how Muslim terrorists have been downgraded to human-mediated disaster facilitators (or whatever inane language they've come up with), whereas peaceful folks like us are just plain old domestic terrorists, without the suracloaking.

And when I say "people like us," we clearly fit the profile: we are not pleased with Obama's ceding of U.S. power and sovereignty to foreign powers, the expansion of government, his position on immigration, the infringement on our civil liberties, etc. As usual, the left is being inconsistent, because if the people fighting us in Iraq are the equivalent of our founding fathers, and they're not terrorists, then neither are we.

Anyway, back to The Truth of the World, which has nothing -- nothing whatsoever -- to do with Obama or with the left.

Speaking of which. Why is it not possible to coonvert trolls through argumentation? Because that is what they crave. Because they are the "substance of nothing," the troll feels a sort of counterfeit "heft" when his nothing collides with the substance of truth. It's like those giant particle accelerators, which mostly consist of vast stretches of subatomic space. Until the particle strikes against something, it doesn't properly exist.

In turn, you can see why the left is fundamentally narcissistic, as it primarily revolves around the "no" rather than the "yes." For those of you with children, you will have noticed that they first begin to define themselves and internalize boundaries with the "no!" They're too young to know what they are, but at least they can control what they're not with the "no." It's the earliest form of self-definition.

Most of us "move on." But the leftist remains in that stage, which is why, like mtraven, he prides himself on being someone who "questions authority," which again elevates reactionary adolescent rebellion to a lifetime project.

For the secret of life is to utter an enthusiastic yes! to authority, i.e., the authority of absolute truth, or the authority of the Constitution, or the authority of people who are more wise and elevated than we are. Obviously this cannot be an unqualified yes, for that can only be reserved for God. But there is no question that saying yes to genuine authority is a key that unlocks many doors.

Of course, I spent much of my life saying "no" to various legitimate authorities in a way that can now be seen as ludicrously self-flattering. (I even had the bumper sticker, "question authority.") Again, the existential "no" is a very powerful thing. Not for nothing is the last word of Ulysses a symbolic and multidimensional "yes" by Molly Bloom: and yes I said yes I will Yes...

Alert readers will have noticed the reference to this on p. 265 of the Coonifesto, where it is written, A Divine Child, a godsend, a touch of infanity, a bloomin' yes.

Obviously, "bloomin'" refers to Molly Bloom, but it also refers to flowers, which never fail to open up and say "yes" to the central sun. Likewise, in hindsight, I see my almost-too-late decision to have a child as the ultimate "yes" to existence. On the one hand, a child is a godsend; but the child is also "God's end," in more ways than one. After all, God wants us to be fruitful and multiply. But also, there is something "ultimate" in a child, so he can truly feel like "God's end." As you know, being with your child often feels like "heaven" (not to minimize the times that it feels like hell).

I could say more, but we're getting sidetracked. Let us just say that life truly begins when we say yes to God, the final authority. If that makes me an authoritarian, then I'm a so be it cosmonaught.

As HvB was saying, it is quite difficult to convert the errant person by simply pointing out his errors, for this only triggers the defensiveness, the "no," that lends him his false being. Think of a-theists. They define themselves by their opposition to God. Without God, what would they be? The "hole" at the center of their being would be exposed, so they would merely be a-holes.

Notice that Jesus rarely argued. Rather, he only offered. "Here it is. Take it or leave it." Thus, HvB says that the errant person is only "cured of his ways" by truly seeing the ideal, and then feeling repentance for his failure to live up to it. You might say that repentance is the measure of the gap between what we are and who we need to be. Which is why we never stop repenting, for we can never be God. And this, of course, is why no one repents more than the saint.

But unless another knower bears witness to the real you, it can be difficult to know of its existence in any positive sense. Rather, it will again manifest in the form of "present absences" or "absent presences," i.e., ghostly symptoms of soul illness.

I was discussing this with an acquaintance just yesterday, a fellow psychologist whom I did not know was a secret conservative -- which you must be if you are to maintain harmonious relations with the kooky world of psychology. Once we realized that we were on the same page, we were free to discuss the collective madness of the left.

I made the point that the structure of a political perversion is really no different than the structure of a sexual one. For example, I remember a patient who had a lifetime shoe fetish. I won't bore you or gross you out with the details, but the point is that he had a sex drive, just like anyone else, except that it had become focused on a dysfunctional end: shoes instead of.

Now, we all have a "spiritual drive." That much is certain. But just like the sex drive, it can be derailed from its true end -- which can only be God -- and focused on other things. This, I believe, is perhaps the "universal key" that opens all forms of leftism, which are otherwise so impenetrable to reason.

To cite the most obvious example, look at the wave of messianic energy Obama rode in on. Does any truly religious person see him as anything more than a cipher for the projection of the misplaced spiritual energy of the left?

I didn't think so.

Think of your own experience, when you "broke through" to your real being, to the ground -- were "born again" in spirit, bobtized, or however you wish to characterize it. Wasn't it a bit like this: "He will observe with amazement that the one thing that he never would have dared believe is possible: the annihilation of the reality that should not be through creative knowledge" (HvB).

In other words, it's not so much a case of saying "no" to the false self, but saying "yes" to the true self that is "eternally known" by God, but also potentially by certain deputized I-amissaries in the herebelow. For someone else to see, know, and love the real you is critical. Truly, we can only be "loved into being." This then gives one the strength to scorn what has no right to exist within oneself.

Here you go. The authoritative HvB even says so: "He will accustom himself, when he falls back into his old errors, to realize that at bottom he is living an already obsolete, no longer real reality."

Right? Right. The old patterns just won't give you the same "thrill," now that you've seen through them. Furthermore, to touch truth is to suddenly be given a grave responsibility: the responsibility to be, specifically, to be what God intended. HvB: "He is not only to know what is but also what should be and, through knowledge, to secure validity and reality for it."

In other words, you must now begin the process of aligning your life around your highest aspiration, for you know in your heart that anything less than this is a kind of waste, or dissipation, of your life. Therefore, you will now be followed by a kind of guilt when you fail to meet your cosmic responsibility. You can never go back to the "blissful ignorance" of the average man.

To live as the average man is to live as effect rather than cause. This is why it so easily leads to the mechanical "no" rather than the living "yes." If you are just a machine with no divine center, then you are indeed determined by race, by class, by gender, by whatever other bogus limitation the left can come up with, and for which they will sell you the "cure." When they talk about "root causes," they're really talking about what they think makes the human machine tick, or the human tick a machine.

But for the Raccoon, the root cause is above, not below; again, the universe is a tree of life, with its nonlocal roots aloft, its local branches below. Do you see the profound difference it makes as to where you find your roots?

For another baleful consequence follows from the left's planting its roots below. Man must transcend, or he is not a man. Every man knows in his heart that something is wrong, something from which we must "escape" (or inscape). Now, if the upper reaches are sealed off, what do you suppose happens?

That is correct. Man will attempt to transcend himself in the darkness and ignorance of the "below," the subconscious world of animal instinct, of ungoverned desire, of moral impulses detached from God, etc. Art moves from the ideal-real to the sub-real; religion goes from worship of God to worship of the ego or the earth (or worse); "science" goes from the unveiling of being to the worship of facts; politics goes from liberty directed toward the good to collectivism enforced by the state. Etc. Put it all together, and you end up with our postmodern stone soup, which surely cannot nourish the soul.

But you can't just tell these soup nazis to stop eating. Rather, you have to somehow get them to try yours. But again, for those of you with small children, you know how difficult it can be to get them to try a new food.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

On Honoring Truth with Knowledge

I'm just skimming the Theo-Logic while waiting for my brain to come on line, and I noticed an arresting phrase. It's in the context of a discussion of how the lover perceives the ideal within the beloved, piercing through the falsity, the veneer, to the core, or essence, in such a way that the beloved may be known to himself -- his true self -- through the gaze of the lover.

Then he says that in the lover's eyes, the imperfect image has "no right to exist," and is therefore not honored with knowledge.

That was the phrase that struck me: not honored with knowledge. This would imply that knowledge is a kind of honor that is conferred upon reality; more than that, it would mean that truth is honorable, while there is something dishonorable about things that are false or unreal. Therefore, to elevate them to truth is a kind of double dishonoring, for it is also a negation of man's highest potential, even his reason for being, i.e., the link between the Absolute and relative.

Now, there are lies and liars. We all know that. But there are also people who are lies; if there is truth in them -- which there always is, because no one can exist and not partake of truth -- it is accidental, whereas the Lie forms their substance. It is as if they have exchanged one essence for another, as a result of a kind of.... satanic eucharist, or "dyscharist." For truly, it is not philosophy but necrophilia, "the love of death."

In other words, they eat lies, they drink lies, they play with lies, they work with lies, and soon enough, the lie is so woven into their substance through this daily communion, that the cosmos is fully inverted. Not only has the lie become the truth, but the truth becomes a lie.

But it doesn't end there. Rather, in order to "go on being," the person will have to spend the rest of their life "consuming the lie," or else face a kind of "double death," for they will lose the illusion that keeps them going. Losing their illusion would be like awakening from a nightmare, only to find oneself in a real gulag. Therefore, they cherish their lie, even while resenting reality.

I hesitate to do this, because he'll no doubt think I'm honoring his right to exist by calling attention to him. It's just that I check my technorati links in the morning to see what people are saying about me, and it's such a pervect exhumeple of what we're discussing here. It takes what might be overly abstract for some of you, and makes it completely concrete.

It's such a transparent example, that it hardly requires comment on my part. Rather, I'll just let Mtraven speak for himself, so you can all understand the agenda underneath the mask -- an agenda which "has no right to exist" and which should not be "honored with knowledge" -- unless it is in the form of a cautionary tale for you kits who don't understand what is at stake here. i.e., your immortal soul.

"The left is about resistance to authority, God is the ultimate authority, Satan is the rebel, fine. Hail to His Satanic Majesty!"

No, he's not just being gliberal. He favorably quotes the patently diabolical Aleister Crowley, who wrote that “I slept with faith and found a corpse in my arms on awakening; I drank and danced all night with doubt and found her a virgin in the morning." He also references the uber-moonbat Saul Alinsky, who openly acknowledged his debt to "to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins — or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom — Lucifer.”

This is sufficient to establish what we have said all along, that the left is not "progressive" -- for progress can only occur in the context of movement toward truth -- but reactionary to the core. They are not revolutionary, for that term is reserved for people such as America's founders, who were actually doing battle with the lie that is "the world," or, let us say, the "worldly powers." Revolvere is to return to the origin by "rolling back."

Rolling back what? Well, for starters, rolling back all of the accumulated lies of the counter-revolutionaries of the left. To cite an obvious example, this is what Ronald Reagan attempted to do -- to roll back the foreign and domestic reactionaries and counter-revolutionaries of the left, who have no right to exist (their ideas, not the people).

And now what is happening? Once again, the counter-revolutionaries, led by an acolyte of the devil-worshipping Saul Alinsky, are back in the saddle. Remember, he was merely following in the footsteps of "the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment..., Lucifer." In this regard, let's just let one of his clowns again speak for himself:

"Satan has always been a more attractive character than God, because rebels are cool and God is such an asshole. Aside from suborning genocide, getting all bent out of shape if he's not worshiped sufficiently, and other assorted Biblical atrocities, just look at the people he has speak for him on Earth. Who wouldn't want to be on the opposite side from such people?"

You see? It's all self-evident. Satan is cool and attractive, God is an asshole, the Bible is a compendium of atrocities, and Godly people are demonic. I never engage in polemic, unless I'm just trying to be funny. But when I say that the worldview of the left is precisely upside down and inside out, I am again being quite literal and matter of fact. Does not Mtraven confirm everything I've said?

Remember what we were saying about Schuon the other day? Of course, like any other human being, he was hardly perfect; indeed, he would be the first to remind us that there is no one good but the One. Nevertheless, on the whole, he was "patently angelic." I mean, I can literally never repay him for the spiritual assistance he has given me.

But here's is how a Liar sees the same person: "He's a theologian with a cult following; a member of a group of 'pereniallists' who disdain New Ageists because...well, I can't tell you, they seem about the same to me...." He includes a brief quote from Schuon, who expresses the truism that certainty of religious truth surely comes from God, for where else could it come from? I think we all realize that faith is a grace that we could never produce out of our own substance. But for Mtraven, this is "a sure recipe for mental disaster. It is almost a parody, a distillation, of the self-reinforcing parasitic brain worm model of religion."

Again, a fascinating inversion. One of Schuon's essential teachings -- and something for which he would never claim credit, for it is universal -- is that it is only the uncreated intellect that can participate directly in truth, since it is of the same substance as truth. But just savor this final pompous inversion, the coup de gracelessness: "[I]n the world of the intellect, where I like to locate myself, everything is open to question. Conservatives complain that the academy is left-wing; but it seems as if thought itself is left-wing, so it's really not that much a surprise."

This has a kind of perverse beauty, does it not? For it means that the highest "truth" is actually doubt, which means that the cretin who can doubt the most truth is the highest intellect. We call this the state of tenure, and on this we agree: "it seems as if thought itself is left-wing, so it's really not that much a surprise."

But when he uses the word "thought," we clearly aren't talking about the same thing. For us, thought is what bears on truth, or else it isn't really thinking, just "mental agitation." If it is only the capacity to doubt, then again, this ineluctably results in a "philosophy of stupidity." The priceless gift that is the intellect is the ability to know; and not just know anything, but to know truth and to know it with certainty.

Let's see what my fellow cult-leader, Schuon, had to say about the intellect: "The Intellect ‘is divine’, first because it is a knower -- or because it is not a non-knower -- and secondly because it reduces all phenomena to their Principle; because it sees the Cause in every effect, and thus surmounts, at a certain level, the vertiginous and devouring multiplicity of the phenomenal world." As we have said before, the intellect reduces multiplicity to unity in whatever realm it operates. Yes, of course, there is an element of doubt involved, but it is analogous to the catabolism that is necessary to metabolize truth.

However, for most men of the present age -- and again, this is soph-evident -- "the intellect is atrophied to the point of being reduced to a mere virtuality, although doubtless there is no watertight partition between it and the reason, for a sound process of reasoning indirectly transmits something of the intellect; be that as it may, the respective operations of the reason -- or the mind -- and of the intellect are fundamentally different from the point of view that interests us here, despite certain appearances due to the fact that every man is a thinking being, whether he be wise or ignorant."

Again, there is intellect and there is its caricature, the mere intellectualism of the tenured.

And what did one of my other favorite cult leaders, Sri Aurobindo, say about doubt? Satprem writes that "The day came when Sri Aurobindo had had enough of these intellectual exercises. He had probably realized that one can go on amassing knowledge indefinitely, reading and learning languages, even learning all the languages in the world and reading all the books in the world, and yet not progress an inch. For the mind does not seek truly to know, even though it appears to -- it seeks to grind. If by chance the machine were to come to a stop because knowledge had been obtained, it would soon rise up in revolt and find something new to grind, just for the sake of grinding and grinding."

Now, notice two things; first, Aurobindo had achieved the summit of philosophical intelligence, which essentially leaves one on a plane where the endless circles of deconstruction and synthesis are inevitable, with no nonlocal vector to guide them to their proper end in Truth as such. In other words, deconstruction is simply intelligence playing with the same facts to come up with radically disparate conclusions. Equally intelligent people can easily be on one side or the other of a particular dispute, or even arrive at opposite ideologies.

But this is not the path to Truth. Unless intelligence is infused with the descent of a higher light, it will forever remain on its own partial plane. Here again, Balthasar speaks of "the moment when one's own inspiration mysteriously passes over into inspiration through the genius, the daimon, or the indwelling god, a moment when the 'spirit that contains the god' obeys a superior command which as such implies form and is able to impose form." This is impossible in the absence of true faith (o) -- which is the real doubt, for it is doubt of the unreal -- through which the person divests himself "of any intent to give himself shape, who makes himself available as matter for the divine action."

Any being that is deprived of... truth, perishes in the long run from want of air and light. Love treats what should not be as it deserves, as something that has absolutely no lawful title to being and whose punishment is simply to have its existence overlooked. --Theo-Logic: The Truth of the World.

Therefore, we could never honor Mtraven, only love him.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Mystery of Love, Divine and Human

So, things attain some sort of "completion in the sphere of subjectivity." This is a strange -- strange but true -- idea, but in order to grasp it, you have to exit the implicit materialist point of view that so demonates our consciousness, which maintains that subjectivity is essentially a kind of meaningless side effect of objects that has no intrinsic connection to them, or to anything else, for that matter. Yes, life exists in this cosmos, but it tells us absolutely nothing about the nature of the cosmos. Yes, consciousness exists, but it is entirely accidental and contingent, not essential. How something that is entirely contingent can presume to pronounce on absolute truth is not explained, but we'll let that go.

To say that things attain their completion in the realm of the subject doesn't just turn the cosmos inside out and on its head. First of all, it is experientially and phenomenologically true, which I believe is Balthasar's point. In this particular volume, The Truth of the World, he doesn't get much into theology per se. Rather, he is just setting the stage for the theology which will come later. For as always, we must begin at the beginning, with the question of "just what kind of cosmos is this, anyway?" And any answer that leaves out life, let alone consciousness, as intrinsic properties, is a non-starter. Once we realize this, then it becomes much easier to understand where religion fits into the picture, i.e., the cosmic principles through which it operates.

In a truly evolutionary worldview, we would see a cosmos gradually becoming more interior to itself, until it reaches a point at which this interiority doubles back upon itself in man. As such, man can be a subject for objects, as well as for other subjects. And that is not all. For man can also reconcile himself to the Absolute subject behind the play of phenomena. Thus, just as objects complete their otherwise meaningless existence in man -- the locus of worldly meaning -- man completes his otherwise meaningless existence in the Absolute subject, the locus of cosmic meaning.

Again, this is not the least bit speculative. Rather, I am simply describing "what happens." I know that Mrs. G., for example, since her baptism last Saturday, has been feeling so reconciled to the Absolute subject, that she is still being flooded with cosmic meaning that can't even be fully articulated. But this is what happens when one goes from being the source of meaning to being with the source of meaning, for it is somewhat like going from death to life -- or being "born again," to purloin a craze.

Only in the sphere of the subject may we reveal ourselves, which is why one doesn't feel self-conscious to be naked in the presence of the dog. Rather, there is a transitional space that opens up between human subjects, but also in the field between the human subject and the divine subject. It is only in this space that one may "unfold latent potentialities that [one] cannot display elsewhere." Do you see the point? A human being who is not intersubjective is not a human being. We are thoroughly entangled in one another in an irreducible way; there is no "I" in the absence of the thou.

In fact, as I attempted to make plain in the Coonifesto, it is actually the thou, i.e., the (m)other, that is first discovered, and who in turn "confers" our subjectivity upon us. In other words, human beings only discover themselves within an interpersonal matrix. Even when you are alone an thinking to yourself, the internal speech is always "for" someone. Oftentimes that is the key to understanding the nature of a mind parasite, for the activity of the parasite may consist of nothing but a kind of repetitive chatter. But to whom is the parasite speaking? That often removes the veil from the little bugger.

For example, I used to get mad at my school. The teachers who taught me weren't cool. You know the story -- holding me down, turning me round, filling me up with their rules. In fact, me used to be angry young man. Me hiding me head in the sand. But to whom was this anger really directed? Suffice it to say that, thanks to the magic of unconscious logic, I was simply tilting at windbags, i.e., symbolic stand-ins, instead of dealing with the true source. Thankfully, before it was too late, He gave me the word, I finally heard, and now I'm doing the best that I can. And I have to admit it's gotten better.

Now, objects -- just like self-respecting subjects -- won't just open themselves up to anyone. There is an intrinsic "modesty" in existence, through which things simultaneously veil and reveal -- or reveil as I put it in the Coonifesto. But at the same time, the object cannot be known except by another subject, and therefore wants to "unveil its inmost being," "just as a patient bares himself before his doctor" -- a prerequisite of which being that you must also bear your unbearable self.

Come to think of it, this is a metaphor I have often used with patients who wonder why I have to ask so many questions during an evaluation. I tell them that it's similar to when they go to a real doctor -- the definition of a real doctor being a stranger who, when they tell you to take off your clothes, you do it -- except that one must reveal oneself in time as opposed to space.

In other words, the body can show it self all at once, before the eye of the senses. But how does the mind reveal itself, since it is like a stream that runs through time? This is why we must look at the patient as a baby, a child, an adolescent, an adult, and from many different angles at each point along the way -- cognitively, emotionally, interpersonally, etc. A person who doesn't wish to cooperate will simply show you a sort of "object" which they have defensively constructed, either consciously or unconsciously.

HvB talks about the "special gaze" which "leads to the inner sanctum of knowledge." For example, in discussions of love, we tend to focus on the desire of the subject. However, equally important is the desire to be desired, or to be the focus of desire of the other. A love in which we only desired the other would be only half a love; likewise, a love in which we only wanted to be the object of desire would be narcissistic. Many relationships end not because of desire per se, but the desire to be desired in a certain way, to experience oneself through the eyes of the desiring other.

Which reminds me. We're really going off on a tangent here, but I remember a particular patient who was a porn addict. When we explored it, interestingly, what most drew him in was not the bodies, but the eyes -- in particular, the way the women would look directly at the camera. In his mind, it was as if they were looking at him, into his eyes.

In turn, it was obvious that he longed to be looked at -- and therefore known -- in a certain way. Blah blah blah yadda yadda, it ultimately came down to never having come into being in the loving space of his mother's gaze, as she had abandoned the family when he was quite young. As a result, the porn actually entered the picture when he was seven or eight years old, as a kind of "maternal container" for a prematurely awakened sexuality that served as a substitute for the real missing link of love. (I have seen the same pattern in many male homosexuals, for whom compulsive sex is merely a means to an intrapsychic end of which they are unaware, i.e., the attempt to internalize male logos.)

HvB beautifully describes the dynamics of knowing oneself through being lovingly known: "This special gaze, which is possible only in the loving attention of the subject, is equally objective and idealizing." Within this supercharged space, the object "hopes to attain in the space of another the ideality that it can never realize in itself." In order to become who we are, so to speak, we need "someone who believes in [us] -- no, who sees [us] already existing in a hidden state, where, however, [we] are visible only to one who firmly holds that [we] can be realized, to one, in other words, who believes and loves."

Frankly, this is again not all that different from therapy, in which the therapist may be able to "see" the positive essence of the person, the essence that is buried under the activity of the mind parasites. In fact, if I cannot feel that essence, I can't help the person. In my own marriage -- and I'm sure this is the rule for most people -- I fell in love with the essence, but after awhile, other things reared their heads and began to get in the way. But you must realize, this is one of the very purposes of marriage, that is, a "loving space" where these things can be worked out. Now there's pretty much only essence left, so it's very much like being back at the beginning and really knowing it for the first time.

HvB talks about the "mystery of love," through which "the object ventures to be what it could have been but would never have dared to be by itself alone.... The image was only concealed in the beloved, and the eyes of love had to come and raise it from the depths" (speaking of resurrection). Truly, we can only be in the ultimate sense within a matrix of love. And obviously, this has profound theological consequences, for it leads directly to the trinitarian godhead, which is nothing if not two subjects eternally joined in love and "witnessing" to each other. And this is why, only in love can you be all you can be.

The beloved [knows] that the realization of his best potentialities is, not his merit, but the creative work of love, which impelled him to realize them, held before him the mirror and the ideal image, and bestowed the strength to attain the goal. In this creative happening, every distinction between subjective and objective becomes meaningless. The image that love saw and held up is doubtless an image of the object. Not, however, of the object as it is, but of the object as it could be. --Theo-Logic: The Truth of the World

Amen. Can I get a witness?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Easterly Wind Blows Where it Will

I've resurrected this old post from around this time last year. Perhaps later today Mrs. G. will telos all about her baptism (which she has now done in a comment), since I wasn't there, and she's still sleeping. Naturally I would have liked to have been there, but someone had to watch the ferret, plus they don't make it convenient for folks like me who are in bed by 9:00. Besides, she wants to renew our vows in the church this summer, and I'll probably show up for that, or at least send my stunt double.


People argue about Jesus -- it is easier than to let yourself be scorched by contact with him. --Henri Le Saux (Swami Abhishiktananda)

All that is true, by whosoever spoken, is from the Holy Ghost. --St. Ambrose

In Christ the Eternal Tao, Hieromonk Damascene makes the claim that "we today are given much more than those who were born before Christ, for while pre-Christian prophets and sages were united with the Tao after their death, we have the potential of experiencing a foretaste of that eternal union during our earthly life. During his life on earth, Christ gave special means -- physical 'channels' of immaterial, Uncreated Teh -- by which to help effect this union."

Yes, the Christian message is universal, but it seems an unavoidable conclusion that it possesses an exoteric side and an esoteric side -- an outer teaching and an inner teaching, a primarily informational component and a more transformational component. Obviously, this can lead to charges of elitism, but in reality, it seems that the inner teaching is surrounded on all sides by cherubim with flaming swords who only allow those with sincere humility and childlike innocence to pass through: amen for a child's job!

And while no one should devalue the informational, or dogmatic, aspect of Christianity -- any more than one should devalue the foundation and structure of a beautiful house -- I guess I agree with Abhishiktananda, who wrote, "let us not confuse the vessel with the treasure it contains.... as long as man attempts to seize and hold God in his words and concepts, he is embracing a mere idol." Thus, "in every religious experience there is a beyond, and it is precisely this 'beyond' that is our goal."

In Matthew 13:10, the disciples ask Jesus why he speaks in parables to the multitude, the implication being that he doesn't speak that way to them. "Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.... I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand." Evidently, teaching to the converted is different than preaching to the perverted.

Of course, everything Jesus said was provocative and well worth pondering. But it would appear that the exoteric teaching -- the parables -- are there to instruct those who can discern their meaning. But they are also vague and ambiguous enough to serve as a sort of protective covering over the esoteric side -- like the shell of a seed that surrounds and protects the kernel. In fact, Jesus proceeds directly to a parable involving a seed. When this seed is planted in "good ground," it "indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty" (Matt 13:23).

In Mark 4:33, it says the same thing: "And with many such parables He spoke the word to them as they were able to hear it.... And when they were alone, He explained all things to His disciples." This in itself has an inner meaning, for who is a disciple? And what does it mean to be alone with Jesus?

Exoteric teaching works from the outside in. But esoteric teaching works from the inside out. Clearly, this is where the third person of the trinity comes in, the "helper" promised by Jesus. There is no way to reconcile this helpful uncreated energy with anything found on this side of nature. It is intrinsically esoteric. Aligning oneself with it is perhaps the principle aim of the Christian life, without which nothing else is possible, not even faith.

Hieromonk Damascene quotes a number of eminent authorities on this matter, for example, St. Seraphim of Sarov, who says that when Christ assures us that "The Kindom of Heaven is within you," he is "referring precisely to this seed of the Grace of the Holy Spirit implanted in the human soul."

Of course, we would all like to purchase a luxury corps at pentecost, but there's no such thing as a free launch. For it is like a treasure hidden in a field: "In order to acquire it, one must sell all that one has, buy the field, and then patiently and diligently dig." Apparently, no one's vehicle crosses the phoenix line unless it is first repossessed and amortized.

But if aligning oneself with the Holy Spirit is the principle aim of the Christian life, "digging" into ourselves is the principle method -- tilling the ground, planting the seed, nurturing it, and, especially, watching over the field. For, according to Hieromonk Damascene, "we still carry within ourselves the inclination and habit to return to our former condition." It is a law of embodied existence that, no matter what, we still fall downward 32 feet per second per second. It seems that the lower self digs itself so much, that it creates its own existential hole and then jumps right in.

Another way of expressing it is to say that there is an inevitable circularity, or "curvature" to our worldly existence. That is, if we make an initial step in the right direction, that is not enough. Without a second step, a third step, a fourth step, etc., a certain inertia will set in that returns us to the place we started.

This inertia is a force that must be constantly countered. In order to alter its inevitable pressure, it must be acted upon by a force external to it. Repeatedly. This is why being "born again" just once will not cut it. Rather, one must pent and repent as necessary.

Hieromonk Damascene calls this "continuous metanoia." In order to achieve it, the ancient Christian ascetics developed the idea of "watchfulness," which involves "a state of inner vigilance, attention and sobriety." This kind of "inner attention" has very obvious parallels to raja yoga and Buddhist mindfulness meditation (while by no means being identical to them).

Jesus did not just say "pray." Rather, he said to "watch and pray." It's easy. First watch. Then pray while watching.

Watching what?

Hieromonk Damascene quotes one of the greatest authorities, St. John Climacus. In his The Ladder of Divine Ascent, he wrote, "Close the door of your cell to the body, the door of your tongue to speech, and your inner gate to evil spirits. Ascend into a watchtower -- if you know how to -- and observe how and when and whence, and in what numbers and what form, the robbers try to break in and steal your grapes.... Guarding against evil thoughts is one thing, keeping watch over the spirit [nous] is another. The latter... is far more difficult to attain. Where thieves see royal weapons at the ready they do not attack the palace lightly. Similarly, spiritual robbers do not lightly try to plunder the person who has enshrined prayer within his heart."

Hieromonk Damascene eliberates on this point, writing that watchfulness involves pulling our awareness "back into an objective state of observant mind, thus keeping watch over [the] spirit or 'higher mind'." In essence, it is a reversal of our primordial fall -- our worldward descent into distraction, fragmentation, and dissipation -- or, alternatively, congealing, thickening, and hardening. "Attention" and "distraction" are opposites. In the words of Christ, our eye must again become "single," so that the "whole body will be full of light."

Man is a microcosm, and only by opening up in a man the foundation of his being can the Spirit transform and spiritualize the cosmos to its depths. --Swami Abhishiktananda

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