Being, Knowing, and Sensible Footwear
Here is a post from two years ago. Interestingly, in exhumining the corpus from that month, I see that I was experiencing a little disturbance in the force, or farce, depending on your point of view. I was having trouble blogging, which is just a side effect of trouble living, or at least living in the way I would like, which involves blogging every day.
Is that too terribly tautologous for allavus? It shouldn't be, because for the Raccoon, knowing can only flow from being. Detached from being, the things I write about would be worthless. They might have some intellectual content or some insultainment value, but qua religion, you'd be much better off going elsewhere.
I felt exactly the same way with regard to becoming a clinical psychologist. First of all, I never got into this racket because of any delusions of "healing" people. Rather, my motives were entirely impractical and therefore honest. In short, I was just curious. And if you are curious for a long enough time, they eventually give you this thing called a "Ph.D." But the bad news is, they kick you out of school. Now you have to deal with the real world. Unless you become tenured, in which case you can play in the sandbox of academia forever.
This wouldn't have posed a problem for me if my Ph.D. were in, say, chemistry or engineering, since those don't carry the burden of implying an ability to heal souls. But like it or not, I was now in the soul-healing business. However, most people have no business being in that business. For one thing, I'm not so sure it should even be a business.
In any event, I was pretty convinced that my getting into that business at that time was a kind of quackery, since I was just ducking my own issues beneath the water. I knew full well that I had a thriving population of my own mind parasites that I hadn't yet eradicated or brought to heel. I mean, I still did therapy, because it was nevertheless true that most people were crazier than me. On my worst day, it was still unlikely that a patient less crazy than me would walk through the door.
In this regard, I compared it to giving guitar lessons. Imagine that neither of us really knows how to play guitar. We're both taking lessons, except that I'm a couple of weeks ahead of you. Since I've seen the next lesson, I can always fake it by teaching you what I just learned.
When I started graduate school, I had fantasies about the transformative power of psychotherapy. As part or that, I initially idealized my teachers, as if they were the powerful soul-healers alluded to above. But gradually, reality eclipsed the fantasies, and I discovered that, with a few notable exceptions, these people were quite mediocre. I mean, they weren't bad people, but they had no business being soul healers. And yet, unlike me, they seemed untroubled by it. Indeed, for many, it seemed that getting a Ph.D. merged with their own narcissism, as if to say, "I am a healer, therefore I am healed."
Now, apply this whole scenario to the realm of Spirit. Yesterday a reader asked for advice about how to tell real teachers from the frauds. He was genuinely frightened that he might open himself up to a bad influence (probably meaning me!) that would damage his spiritual foundation. This is indeed a legitimate concern, as the world is full of false and destructive -- even frankly demonic -- "gurus" such as Deepak or Tony Robbins.
Here is part of my response: "I don't think there's any big mystery there. Just stick with people who are part of an orthodox tradition rooted in revelation. Once you understand the deeper principles, then you are inoculated against nonsense in other fields, such as science and philosophy. You can take what is good in the latter, and ignore the bad or metaphysically impossible, as I mentioned in today's post vis-a-vis Darwinism.
"One of the intrinsic problems of protestantism is that it broke away from the main stream of Christianity, which extends back to Christ and the apostles. Therefore, there's always a 'lone wolf' aspect to it. This in itself isn't necessarily bad, you just have to be very cautious about who you allow into your head and heart. The reverse problem can afflict orthodoxy, since it can become reified and dogmatic, and closed off to the novel. A Meister Eckhart can appear as a radical heretic in his time, only to later be revealed as arguably the greatest European man who ever lived.
"Jesus addressed this issue when he said know them by their fruits. One of the first fruits of your own genuine spiritual growth will be the ability to discern spirits. You will acquire a sixth sense that will tell you immediately if you are dealing with a person of authentic spiritual attainment, or someone who is 'just words.' The genuine saints and sages converge in the broad details, but more importantly, they are able to directly transmit their realization to the sympathetic and qualified disciple. It is a very physical (albeit subtle) sensation, one of joy, transparency, lightness, expansion, etc. As you grow in your own spirituality, you will naturally be capable of more depth, so that people who once seemed deep to you will now appear shallow. Which is fine. It takes all kinds to make world, and not everyone has the same spiritual qualifications."
Did this preface have a point? I don't know, but perhaps it is this: to "know them by their fruit" is to know them by their being, not their knowledge, the latter of which is so easy to fake. Remember the story of the student who went to study with the great rabbi -- not to find out what he "knew," but to "watch him tie his shoelaces." Bottom line: stay away from spiritual teachers who wear fancy loafers.
First of all, for a variety of scientific reasons I won't get into, I think the odds of intelligent beings on other planets are vanishingly remote. But even then, the idea that intelligence alone is sufficient to account for the humanness through which our intelligence is channelled is extraordinarily naive. Or put it this way: intelligence is necessary, but hardly sufficient, to account for our humanness. We are nothing at all like merely intelligent apes, but something else entirely.
In my book, I noted that humanness is an ontological station that is anterior to our having entered it. This is why, as we evolved into this space, it was not "empty," so to speak. Rather, it was quite "full," except that much of the information was implicit rather than explicit. It had to be unpacked and brought into being in the material world -- which we have been doing for the past 40,000 years or so. In the most general terms, we have been bringing the Good, the True, and the Beautiful into the world. Our attraction to these things can by no means be explained by (natural) intelligence itself, but is separate from it.
There was a brief discussion of this in yesterday's thread, where Will used the allegory of a village of of the blind: "One individual suddenly develops eyesight, the first villager to do so. Quite the revelation! This individual's spatial sense deepens beyond his previous imaginings. And the colors! He never knew they existed.
"Taking in the sky, he tries to explain the color blue to the villagers. In fact, he tries to explain the concept of sky to them. Bottom line, he can't. He might use analogies like, well, 'blue' is like a coating that you can't really touch, plus it's sort of 'cold-like,' not like ice, but like river water, etc. Some of the villagers might be intrigued with his analogies, but that's a far as it would go. Most would dismiss him, would almost have to dismiss him, as crazy. They simply lack the frame of reference by which he senses colors -- eyesight.
"Anyway, I think that genuine apprehension of God and the Divine Archetypal Realm, to the extent that humans are capable of such, is literally the activation of sense organ(s), that is, a 6th, 7th (and on up) sense organ."
I agree with Will that such higher sense organs would have to correlate in some way with the human brain, but that they can never be reduced to it. For example, let's say that neurologists locate that part of the brain responsible for recognizing artistic beauty. Would this prove that the differences in beauty between, say, a Thomas Gainsborough and a Thomas Kinkade are not really real? This is not as stupid as it sounds, for I guarantee you that in the next six months, if they are still in business, the New York Times will run another ridiculous article about some earthbound neurologist who has discovered the part of the brain responsible for religion, or awareness of God, or mystical states. What this proves is precisely nothing -- except perhaps that every interior has an exterior (in the manner described by Ken Wilber) and that Thomas Dolby was right: it is possible to be blinded by science.
In response to Will's comment, I wrote that that our brain architecture "comes into being simultaneously with an encounter with a particular world." Interestingly, the latest research suggests not only that human evolution is still ongoing, but that it can occur much more rapidly than anyone had realized. Thus, the future evolution of homo raccoonicus could occur over the space of a few generations.
In his summary of the latest research, Nicholas Wade makes a number of points that are highly upsetting to the psycho-spiritual left, since he leaves little reason to doubt that various human groups acquire traits and abilities that others do not. He cites many examples, one of which being the Jews who, pound for pound, have contributed more to human excellence than any other group -- even more so when you consider that they have also been the most persecuted group down through history (no coincidence there).
For example, although they represent far less than 1% of the world’s population, Jews have won 15 to 20 percent of the Nobel Prizes, and perhaps constitute an even higher percentage of the world's greatest comedians. On the other hand, the Palestinians have won exactly one Nobel Prize, and of course it was given to one of the most depraved and disgusting monsters who ever drew breath. And the Palestinian contribution to comedy, although considerable, has been entirely unintended -- e.g. the wild-eyed imams with their crazed Friday evening sermons, the comical s'allapstiq "work accidents" in which they accidentally blow themselves up, the frenzied "car swarms" in which they hope to retrieve a bloody finger or fragment of brain martyr. Israelis and Palestinians might as well be a different species -- which, in a way, they are. Not, of course, in any horizontal racial sense, but in a vertical sense. To say that one of them is more evolved than the other is a banality of the first rank, unless you are a rank leftist who doesn't believe in vertical rank.
Not only is this view not racist, but it is the polar opposite, for it means that ethnic traits are not fixed but subject to evolution, change and progress. But for some reason, the left doesn't like this kind of evolution. Rather, they argue that all cultures are equally beautiful and that any differences between them are arbitrary. Furthermore, if you argue that one culture is superior to another, you are a racist. Thus, the left habitually confuses race and culture, making it impossible to criticize -- and therefore help -- a dysfunctional culture without being called a racist. This is precisely what happened to one of the last great liberals, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who wrote so sensitively of the "tangle of pathology" afflicting African American culture. That all of his most dire predictions came to pass is of no consequence to the ideologically blinded "reality based community" -- the ironically named progressive left, another group that cannot evolve.
In any event, as I mentioned in a comment yesterday, it is clear to me that we are co-evolving the language to describe various "post-biological realities" as we enter into them. This is very much analogous to the early explorers of the new world, who all landed in different areas and came back with diverse and seemingly contradictory discriptions of the flora and fauna they'd found. At first, the descriptions of higher planes are going to be highly subjective and seemingly disconnected from the others, but as we increasingly colonize the space, we start to see how all the descriptions fit together. Certainly that is what I was trying to do with my book, and even more so with the blog, in part because I know that my neurology has changed as a consequence of repeated encounters with the Nous World. I see things very clearly now that were more shrouded before, just as I see things vaguely now that will presumably become clearer as I go. The spiritual world is perpetually "coming into view."
In the past, some atheists have complained that I am "bigoted" against them. Which is true, if you abuse the term beyond recognition. To me, a bigot is someone who discriminates against another based upon some insignificant difference, such as race. It is another thing entirely to discriminate against an ideology or belief system. In this sense, discrimination is the essence of intelligence. I discriminate against atheism because, one, I think it is intrinsically stupid, and two, I think it would be highly destructive if a significant number of people were reduced to its influence, instead of it remaining just a small club of eccentrics, misfits, and spiritually disabled losers.
And yes, when I say "destructive," I do mean destructive of the human being as I understand him. For it would mean the foreclosure of those supramental spiritual realities to which humans have unique access and that we are in the process of bringing into being.
Ironically, the atheist by definition does not understand my writing, and yet, objects to my ideas. The reverse is obviously not true: there is nothing about atheism that cannot be understood by a normal adolescent schoolboy. But one of the atheists asks, "Does anyone understand what this guy is talking about, because there is no content that I can discern. It is literally vacuous, and atrociously written to boot. From any rational perspective, it is empty and devoid of coherence or significance [and] preposterously boring."
Another one writes of my "lurid and vacuous prose" which is "completely and utterly meaningless when analysed, hermeneutically or otherwise." Furthermore -- or less -- "even Bob couldn't explain rationally what he means by it, yet one does not have to be a psychiatrist to understand what his real problem is. Gagdad Bob is just another pathetically feeble individual" and even a "true psychopath."
Another one confesses total ignorance of what I write about, but then, in typical atheist fashion, assumes that the ignorance resides in me rather than her. She admits that my writing is a "confusing mess" to her, and that "Honestly, I think Bob spends more time thumbing through a thesaurus than he does with actually trying to make his thoughts coherent. It seems to me he's more concerned with impressing people with his 'fancy' words than he is with people understanding what he's trying to convey. What's the point of writing for others in the way Bob does, when you end up making your readers incapable of understanding what you're writing? Perhaps his stringing together a bunch of those 'fancy' words gets people to think he's understanding the issues on a higher plane, and those who are easily led follow along like sheep, believing that they're just too stupid to understand someone with such supposed 'important' thoughts/feelings. His followers are led to believe they're in the presence of somebody really important and special."
And this one is also too funny to ignore: "Regarding the chances of reaching the 'Racoons,' it would be silly to argue that any of them would ever be convinced to abondon their belief in god. However they may come to realize that this person whom they occasionally refer to as 'Fearless Leader' (and who refers to his own son from time to time as 'Future Leader') is a gross, opportunistic narcissist who does not truly share their values."
Like the Palestinkians, their humor is always inadvertent.
Anyway, given that my writing is empty, irrational, literally vacuous, devoid of content, incoherent, and insignificant, how can it simultaneously be a dangerous threat to atheists? If it is literally devoid of content, then that means there can be no objectionable content. It's just crazy talk.
But again, as I have said all along, atheism is nothing more and nothing less than a frank confession of total ignorance of any ontologically real spiritual plane transcending the senses. It is simply the "final common pathway" of a spiritual failure to launch with diverse causes. Which is fine. If that's how they choose to live their lives, who am I to argue with them? I'm a liberal. I'm all for them squandering their liberty in any way they see fit. How can that pose a threat to them?
These are divisive times, both horizontally -- which is obvious -- and vertically, which is the true source of the horizontal strife, for cultural space is developmental time. As Will pointed out, "Obviously the most fractious time is when the outsiders [i.e., the vertical explorers] begin to expand in number and outreach. This is when the distinctions between old language and new would be most divisive. Attempts at conciliation between old and new would be inevitably, necessarily futile. Those of the old persuasion would have hope of becoming new -- should they so desire -- but the new can never return to the old status. They either eventually succeed in establishing newness or they are eliminated by the reactionary old."
Evolution is a harsh mysteress. I suppose it would be nice if atheists were capable of understanding my writing, but then they wouldn't be atheists. Hey, if the shoe doesn't fit....