Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Loose Cannonical Teachings of the B'ob

Update from the knowa's arkive: I'm not seeing much from the early days that hits the sweet spot.

My recollection is that I didn't really hit my stride until early '06. I think it took that long for me to get out of the way of the process. Frankly, "I" reached my outer limit fairly early on -- within a couple of months. I mean, you try it: try telling everything you know on a daily basis, with new and interesting material every day. You must instruct and entertain. How long could you go before getting sick of yourself?

Remember, I had no desire to simply comment on the news of the day. Rather, to paraphrase Terence McKenna, I wanted to create a little beachhead in hyperspace on the way to colonizing it.

You can undoubtedly go a lot longer than you think, so long as you enlist neglected parts of the psyche. For example, you won't get far without the cooperation of the Dreamer. Look at how he works -- or doesn't work, is more like it. Every night he effortlessly cranks out those elaborate dreams without repeating himself and without even breaking a sweat. And he certainly never worries during the day about whether or not he will be able to come up with the goods again that night. You know what that SOB is like? He's like that lucky old sun:

Up in the mornin',
Out on the job,
I work like the devil for my pay.
But lucky old sun, got nothin' to do,
But roll around heaven all day.

For most of my life I thought I was a night person. Only with the blogging did I "discover" that I was actually a morning person. Later I heard the adage that "dawn is the friend of the muses." And the reason it is so friendly to the muses is that it is in that borderland world between day and night, or between naught and deity. It is where you can trancelight some of the nighttime logic into a day tome.

I remember my analyst saying something along these lines. It might have been my first day in psychoanalytic therapy, which requires you to lay on the couch and say whatever comes to mind without censoring yourself. He blurted out something to the effect of, "do you know what you're doing?"

"Er, I don't know. Blaming my mother for all my problems?"

"No, you're trying to disable the left brain so we can interrogate the right and take its deposition, so to speak."

In other words, the purpose of free association is to simulate that borderland situation so that you can escape the narrow constraints of the left-brain ego, and see what's actually out there in the big wide world of the unconscious mind.

But when you're talking about religion, here's the problem: on the one hand, you're trying to disclose universal and timeless truths. But at least in my case, I am attempting to do so in a way that is entirely spontaneous, novel, and unrepeatable. You could say that this is one of the themes -- or even conflicts -- that runs through the bobservatory.

Specifically, I only feel religiously "alive" when I'm making it up on the spot. Therefore, I have concerns that to become an official member of a single group would present me with a dilemma. You can't be a member of a symphony orchestra, and while playing a written piece, suddenly jump out of your chair and begin improvising. Canons and loose cannons don't mix.

Oh well. Here's an early post in which I started to gain some distance between myself and mysoph. Of course, it wouldn't have been possible in the absence of an audience willing to humor me. This is why the book was a little more difficult to write, because I had no idea if any audience actually existed for what I was trying to convey. If I had known you lunatics were out there, I would have made the book much more unsane.


Many people have asked me, “Bob, how do you see God?” This always surprises me, because the answer is so obvious: first unrealize what you think you know, then transform faith into vision by turning the world upside-down and inside-out and converting time into space. It works every time.

I’ll admit it, when Petey first told me this, I didn’t really know what the hell he was talking about, and even bet him that he was wrong. But the more I thought about it, the more it started to make sense. Actually, you might say it made perfect nonsense.

The thing is, it’s not just a matter of knowing where to look, but howto look. You could go to the top of Mount Sinai, or into the most secret vestibule of the Vatican, or to the mouth of the Ganges, or into Deepak's offshore bank account, but if you don’t know how to look, you’re just going to see a mountain, a building, a river, and big pile of moolah. On the other hand, if you know how to ascend the mountain, enter a dark cloud of unknowing, crucify your lower mind, and drink from the sacred river, you might just get nowhere.

You must begin by transforming your vision and developing a spiritual way of “seeing.” As a matter of fact, this is something we routinely do. For example, when you look at the letters on a page, you actually make them invisible by looking through and beyond them to the words they spell. Likewise, the words are equally invisible, because you look through them to the meaning they are pointing at. You could undertake a chemical analysis of the ink with which the words are printed, but that would take you no closer to their meaning. Rather, it would take you far in the opposite direction, completely destroying their meaning.

Analogously, if God is transcendent, there is no way to see him by simply looking in a conventional way at material or empirical reality. That’s going to take you far away in the wrong direction, that is, unless you somehow look through and beyond the world in a manner analogous to the way we see through words and letters to their higher meaning. This is why religious fundamentalists are neither religious nor fundamentalist. Rather, they are materialists, in that they act as if the literal words and events of the Bible are more real than that to which they point or instantiate.

I imagine if were a trained meteorologist, I would no longer see a cloud as an unamibiguous white patch against a blue backdrop. Rather, I’d begin to see the cloud available to my senses as a mere “ripple” against the background of a much more encompassing meteorological process that is largely invisible to the senses.

Similarly, before the days of MRI’s and high speed CT scans, an experienced cardiologist could place a stethoscope against your chest, and simply by listening to the sounds, visualize the nature of the problem.

In my own field, especially with a particularly neurotic individual whose unconscious is “leaking” everywhere, I will immediately see mannerisms, demeanor and behaviors as the visible portion of a much deeper, invisible process. In all of these instances, the expert sees or hears the same things as the lay person, but the expert somehow uses what is on the surface to achieve a sort of depth of vision. It is the opposite of deconstruction, which takes fixed meaning and subjects it to a ruthlessly skeptical interrogation. Rather, it works in the other direction, allowing the particulars of our experience to spontaneously reveal their higher meaning.

It has long been observed that there are two basic temperaments: the Aristotelian and the Platonic. The former inspects the particulars for what is common to them and, through induction, generalizes to universals. The Platonist sees the universal first, with particular individuals representing reflections, instantiations, or “copies” of the universal. For the Aristotelian, the commonalities are less real than the particulars, while for the Platonist, the universal--that which we “see” with the intellect--is more real. What the Platonist sees is not actually an object, but a manifestation of something that is unmanifest.

Since God is transcendent, there is no way we can see him in the way we see other things. And yet, just as there are material facts, there are religious facts. But facts never speak for themselves. There is a paradoxical adage, “never trust a fact without a good theory to support it.” Science, for example, ignores facts that do not fit into the materialistic paradigm. These facts might as well not exist, for without a theory to illuminate them and give them meaning, they are simply invisible.

Religions are supposed to provide structures in order to illuminate the spiritual facts of our experience. Like good scientific theories, they not only make sense of those facts, but also allow us to see new facts, in the same way that the paradigm of quantum physics allowed scientists to see an entirely new realm of phenomena that was invisible to them with the old Newtonian, mechanistic paradigm. The facts were there all along, but without a theory through which to look, no one saw them. Likewise, religious facts are all around and within us, but without a religious practice, they will go unnoticed. One might say that you should try to know God not because He exists, but so that He can exist.

Both science and religion require faith, that is, a willing suspension of disbelief in order to enter their respective worlds. This is very similar to the aesthetic experience. In order to enjoy a play or movie, we must temporarily forget that it is “just a movie,” and fully abandon ourselves to its world. Through a process of “unknowing,” we eliminate the barrier between us and the aesthetic or spiritual world, and convert that barrier into a transformational space, where the other world makes contact with our imagination. Or, you could say that we must become a mirror, without which the reflected object disappears.

With regard to imagination, it has a positive and a negative connotation. In its negative sense, it involves abandoning ourselves to the idle machinery of the monkey mind. It is a kind of bad detachment from reality in favor of an unconscious sub-reality. It is as much a closed circle as is mere cerebral intellectuality.

But imagination in its positive sense is absolutely vital for religious understanding. Again, imagination is the membrane that makes contact with the higher world. It is dangerous to try to merely understand religious truths, because it reduces them to the static and saturated known, and undermines their function of bypassing the ego and vaulting us out of our conventional way of knowing.

These religious truths cannot be comprehended through dogma or through irreligious skepticism, but only through an imaginative engagement with their world. For example, if you are a Christian, you should read the gospels as deeply as possible with your imagination. In so doing, you will discover that they mysteriously comprehend you much more than you could ever comprehend them.

In short, you must, through your imagination, raise yourself up to religion, not lower religion down to your conventional intellect. To do this you must close one “I” and open another. In Christianity this different “I” is called the nous, but in different traditions the same thing goes by different names. For example, in Vedanta it is called the buddhi, while in Sri Aurobindo’s integral yoga it is called the psychic being. With the development of this latent capacity, the familiar world we know with our senses is turned upside-down, from matter to Spirit. Imagination turns it inside-out, as we begin to see the higher in the lower. Time becomes space, in that mere duration is now experienced as the moving image of eternity. Faith has become vision. And I owe Petey another six-pack.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Why Are You (Still) Here?

For those of you who are out of the loop, I've decided to (try to) stop producing new material in favor of attempting to consolidate what I have. And what I have is 1,321 posts that have about as much order as a box of stationery that fell off the back of a truck on the freeway. I don't know where else to begin but the beginning by inspecting them one by one, in the hope that some sort of spontaneous order will emerge.

Naturally I got hung up examining my very first post from October of 2005 ("Why Are You Here?"), which consists of an interview with myself. I also didn't know what I was doing back then:

Q: We don't need another blog. Why are you inflicting your beastly opinions on us?

A: To those of you who are new to this site, join the club, as I am still in the process of trying to understand the author's intention. For surely there are already far too many books and blogs, with no way any human being could ever assimilate the information contained therein. Actually, the problem we face is how to relate all of this fragmented and sometimes contradictory knowledge into a coherent picture of our world -- to move from mere knowledge, to understanding, to truth and to wisdom.

1,320 posts later, there's no longer any need to try to understand the author's intention. It's too late for that, and he doesn't know anyway. Now the question is, What was that all about, then?

Where have I heard that before?... Oh yes. It's the first sentence of my book.

Anyway, back to the first post:

I am a clinical psychologist with a background in psychoanalysis, and, like Shrinkwrapped, Dr. Sanity, and other non-leftist Uncle Fromms, attempt to "put the world on the couch," so to speak. If you can detach yourself somewhat and try to "hover" above it, the news of the day may be regarded as the free associations of a very troubled patient called Homo sapiens. This patient, now about 40,000 years old (before that we were genetically Homo sapiens but not particularly human), has many sub-personalities of varying levels of emotional maturity, and one of his problems is that these different aspects of his personality are constantly at war with one another, which tends to drag down the more mature parts.

You could almost go so far as to say that this collective patient suffers from the kind of severe splitting and "acting out" characteristic of Multiple Personality Disorder. One of my axioms is that geographical space reflects developmental time, so that different nations and cultures embody different levels of psychological maturity. In this regard, the Islamic world bottoms out the scale at the moment.

More broadly, what I hope to facilitate is an appreciation of the "vertical" dimension of human history, culture and politics. For example, historians typically view history in a horizontal manner, leading from past, to present, to future. Likewise, we divide our political mindscape in a horizontal fashion, from left to right. However, as in a great novel or film, the "horizontal" plot is merely a device to express the artist's greater intention (the theme), which can only be found in a vertical realm, by standing "above" the plot.

Every patient who comes into therapy is the star of a motion picture that isn't going quite right. They will spend the first few sessions telling you the plot, but soon enough the analyst intuits the vertical theme where the true but unKnown 'author' of the plot lies (and lies... and lies). This is called the unconscious. However, this is just one realm of the vertical. Spirituality is also located on the vertical plane, both very low (as in jihad or human sacrifice) and high (such as genuine mysticism).

Q: Why "One Cosmos?"

A: The title of the blog is taken from my book of experimental nonfiction, One Cosmos Under God: The Unification of Matter, Life, Mind and Spirit. You might say that the book tries to follow the vertical thread that runs through the entire cosmos, ultimately uniting us with our source. That thread necessarily runs through physics, biology, psychology, religion, history, anthropology, art, and much more, and yet, it is somehow all One.

Perhaps the central theme of both book and blog is that the frontiers of knowledge and understanding lie not in the further extension of various fields and subspecialties, but in the borderland between them. Around 40,000 years ago, our patient, Homo sapiens, began splintering into its diverse parts, but underneath all of the bewildering diversity is a vertical unity that this blog will attempt to illuminate in various ways. For the key to growth is understanding ourselves, both individually and collectively. Without it, we remain a child forever.

Q: It seems like you find a way to flog your book in every post.

That's not a question. However, you have a point. Mainly it's because I purchased 100 copies of my book from my publisher, and I would like to get rid of them. After that I'll tone it down.

Having said that, it would be a shame if the book disappeared into obscurity without first reaching its intended audience. There is a certain type of person out there -- somewhat difficult to describe, but you know who you are -- for whom my book will be just the thing.

Q: Who are you, anyway?

A: This is the description I wanted to put on the book, but the publisher wouldn't allow it:

"Clinical psychologist Robert Godwin is an extreme seeker and off-road spiritual aspirant who has spent no less than one lifetime in search of the damn key to the world enigma. A high school graduate at just seventeen and a-half, Dr. Godwin attended business school until the vagaries of academic probation and expulsion led him to pursue other missed opportunities. Capitalizing on a natural ability to simultaneously enjoy movies and lower his expectations, Godwin eventually earned a film degree in just four terms (Ford/Carter and parts of Nixon/Reagan). Initially denied admission to graduate school because of "inadequate" academic preparation, Holy Happenstance intervened in the nick of time, and Dr. Godwin went on to obtain two advanced degrees in psychology without allowing it to interfere with his education or with ongoing spiritual research conducted in his suburban liberatoreum. Lengthy periods there of higher bewilderment and intense non-doing resulted in important advances in egobliteration and karmannihilation. At the same time, Dr. Godwin spent many years searching and researching for his book, only to conclude that it did not exist, and that if he wanted to read it, he would have to write it. Having now read it a number of times, he is happy to share that burden with a wider audience of fertile eggheads interested in peering behind the annoying veil that separates them from ultimate reality."

Q: Who's Petey?

A: Petey is my discarnate collaborator, or "household gnome," as he calls himself. He is somewhat obnoxious and unreliable, but he often provides me with ideas to write about. He'll generally just throw something out -- a cryptic or often craptic word or phrase -- and leave to me to belaborate the point.

Q: Why the spiritual mumbo-jumbo?

I don't think it's healthy to orient your life around politics 24/7, as does the secular left, for whom politics is their substitute religion. Politics must aim at something that isn't politics, otherwise, what's the point? Politics just becomes a cognitive system to articulate your existential unhappiness. Again, this is what leftists do -- everything for them is politicized.

One of the general purposes of this blog will be to try to look at politics in a new way -- to place the day-to-day struggle of politics in a much wider historical, evolutionary, and even cosmic context. History is trying to get somewhere, and it is our job to help it get there. However, that "somewhere" does not lie within the horizontal field of politics, but beyond it. Thus, politics must not only be grounded in something that isn't politics, but aim at something that isn't politics either.

This is not an abstract, impractical or esoteric notion. Wait. Yes it is. Nevertheless, the ultimate purpose of politics should be to preserve the radical spiritual revolution of the American founders, so that humans may evolve inwardly and upwardly -- not toward a manifest destiny but an unmanifest deustiny.

For example, when we say that politics must be grounded in something that isn't politics, we are simply reflecting the philosophy at the heart of the American rEvolution, that the sacred rights of mankind, as expressed by Alexander Hamilton, are written in human nature "by the hand of Divinity itself, and can never be erased by mortal power." In short, human beings possess a "spiritual blueprint" that is antecedent to politics, and which it is the task of politics to protect, preserve and nurture.

But not for its own sake. The founders, who were steeped in Judeo-Christian metaphysics, did not believe in mere license, which comes down to meaningless freedom on the horizontal plane. Rather, they believed that horizontal history had a beginning and was guided by a purpose, and that only through the unfolding of human liberty could that "vertical" purpose be achieved. Our founders were progressive to the core, but unlike our contemporary reactionary and anti-evolutionary leftists, they measured progress in relation to permanent standards that lay outside time -- metaphorically speaking, an eschatological "Kingdom of God," or "city on a hill," drawing us toward it. Without this nonlocal telos, the cosmos can really have no frontiers, only edges. Perhaps this is why the left confuses truth with "edginess."

Liberty -- understood in its spiritual sense -- was the key idea of the founders. This cannot be overemphasized. According to Michael Novak, liberty was understood as the "axis of the universe," and history as "the drama of human liberty." America was quite consciously conceived as an opportunity to "re-launch" mankind after such an initial 100,000 years or so of disappointment, underachievement, economic stagnation, poor hygiene, and lousy food.

Human liberty is a horizontal prolongation of the Creator's own infinite freedom, and allows him to act through us. This does not diminish the Creator but exalts him, for a moment's reflection reveals that an intimation of our spiritual freedom absolutely belies any mere material explanation found within the horizontal confines of history. For ours is an inwardly mobile cosmos, and as the philosopher of science Stanley Jaki writes, our free will brings us "face to face with that realm of metaphysical reality which hangs in midair unless suspended [vertically] from that Ultimate Reality, best called God, the Creator."

Tip O’Neill is evidently responsible for the cliché that “All politics is local.” The greater truth is that all politics is nonlocal, meaning that outward political organization rests on a more fundamental, “inner” ground that interacts with a hierarchy of perennial and timeless values. Arguments about the surface structure of mundane political organization really have to do with whose nonlocal values will prevail, and the local system that will be established in order to achieve those nonlocal values.

Q: Who is Gagdad Bob?

"Gagdad Bob" is the name I use[d] over at LGF [before being disappeared for crimes against Queeg]. I became fan of LGF very early on, well before it lurched into anti-intellectual scientism and irreligious barbarism, and initially posted under the name "Bob G" in the primeval days before Queeg even required registration. At first Bob G. tried offering intelligent comments, sometimes even expressing anger at the latest MSM-Lefist-Islamic outrage, but after awhile he began trying to lighten things by offering humorous little one-liners, many of which are actually thought up by Petey on the spot. Thus, if they fall flat, I am not to blame.

Gagdad Bob tries to challenge himself to see humor in the most dire or disgusting news of the day. He has adopted the philosophy that we should spend less time being frightened of Islamists and more time mocking and ridiculing them -- "joking them out of their holes," so to speak.

Some samples from 2005:

"When I heard that Muslims were burning cars in France, I was initially sympathetic, since burning a car is sometimes the only way to make sure it won't be driven by a female. Plus, I think something good could eventually come of all this, if we could just find a way to cross-pollenate the French and Muslims, and create a hybrid race of Muslims that surrender.

How about Ward Churchill? The fact that this America-hating academic fraud was drawing a six-figure salary at taxpayer's expense brought to mind the words of another Churchill: "Never have so many owed so much to a faux Sioux." By the way, Churchill never said he was an indian -- what he said was that he had "a patchy work experience." Either way, I knew the left would turn him into their latest cause s'lob.

The Europeans seem almost helpless to stop the spread of nuclear weapons into the Muslim world. On the positive side, they did agree that nuclear suitcase bombs must be small enough to fit into the overhead compartment or under the seat in front of you.

Did you hear about the uproar over the Pakistani woman refusing to wear a two-piece bathing suit in the Miss World contest? Well, they agreed on a compromise. She's actually going to wear a two-piece after all: a burka with a snorkel.

That was some election in Iran, a show of real democracy. Iranian elections? That's what you call a farce only a mullah could love. Speaking of farces, they even had elections in Saudi Arabia. In fact, the winners were serenaded with a chorus of Wahhabi Days are Here Again. And did you hear the new president of Iran was one of the American hostage takers? That's no surprise. Obviously they wanted to elect a man who was there at the time of their founding fatwas.

And the Iranians are still pushing ahead with their Manhattan Project. Of course, they say they're only developing nuclear reactors for peaceful purposes. Personally I'd feel better about it if Muslims had figured out peaceful applications for rocks and belts. For them, it's a wardrobe malfunction when some boob doesn't explode out of his vest.

And the ACLU is always protecting Muslims, trying to ensure that they are never, ever offended or inconvenienced in any way, even if doing so would stop terror attacks on our soil. I can see their point. It's racist to discriminate against Muslims just because their skin is thinner than ours.

And the Palestinians are still causing problems, as usual. Did you know that none of the maps in the Palestinian territories show Israel? That's what they mean when they refer to the Arab "roadmap to peace." Did you know that part of their strategy involves having so many children that they can eventually overwhelm Israel with their population? However, demographers are worried that if the Palestinian baby boom continues, there won't be any babies left to boom. They say the martyrs are just like every other kid, obsessed with sex. But their parents tell them "Be patient. There'll be plenty of time for girls when you're all blown up."

Hey, at least you don't hear about the Palestinians flushing Bibles down the toilet. That will have to wait until they develop indoor plumbing.

The latest is that Abbas wants to enlist the terror groups for security operations. That makes sense, since the Palestinian police can't be expected to prevent law and order all on their own. And making them police does solve the terrorist problem. Next week Abbas plan to conquer disease by renaming hospitals "health clubs."

And why do they hate us so much? True, if it weren't for US interference, the Arab world wouldn't be is stuck in the fourteenth century. Instead, they'd be mired in the twelfth. And they're always boasting about how great Islamic culture is -- you know, that they had mathematical geniuses who discovered zero over a thousand years ago. That's fine, but the problem is, they've been discovering it ever since.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Darwinians and Other Cosmic Egomaniacs

Back in the days before blogging, I came to recognize an undeniable rhythmicity or cyclicity in my creative life. In a very real way, it was analogous to agriculture. Mainly, there were times of expression (harvesting) and times of reception (planting.) But this broke down into further categories of tilling the ground, identifying good seed, watering, pulling the weeds, eradicating parasites, pouring on certain chemicals, and a lot of patience. Trying to force one of these cosmic rhythms is like trying to push a string.

I've been mainly harvesting now for going on four years. I have no idea how that happened, since it has pretty much rendered paragraph one inoperative, unless the cycles are now just longer than they used to be. Perhaps bigger plants require longer cycles. Or maybe its just a condensed cycle. The first book required my whole life up to that point. The next one will only require the time from then to now.

So with all the harvesting, now I've got this huge silo full of grain. What do I do with it? Just keep piling more on top? I guess the point I'm making is that I really enjoy digging through the arkive. I'm starting to look forward to the weekends, since I get to go down into the basement and roam around. It's a totally different vibe -- like enjoying a museum vs. building one.

Or, it's like someone who accumulates a lot of wealth. At what point do they stop making more, and just enjoy what they have? So if I do decide to take a vacation, I imagine I'll spread the wealth around and repost things... We'll just have to see if this reflective mood persists. If it does, I don't want to try to override it. The meta-Cosmos knows best.


How do we know with absolute certainty that metaphysical Darwinism cannot account for Man? Because we may know with absolute certainty.

And we may know with absolute certainty because the realm of the empirical ego -- which can more or less be explained on Darwinian grounds -- shades off to the transcendent interiority of the higher Self, of which it turns out that the ego is a sort of "emanation" or satellite.

[I would now correct this to say that Darwinism can't really account for the ego, which, after all, is an aspect of the miracle of subjectivity; it can, however, provide a "likely story" of how it came about, especially for very simple people whose minds are hardly separate from their bodies. Being that there are billions of such people, that's not nothing.]

Now, the gap between the empirical ego and the higher Self is another one of those ontological discontinuities that is infinite if viewed "from the bottom up." But if regarded "from the top down," then we see that the ego is a necessary feature of the cosmo-psychic economy. Just like maya herself, it "must be" if there is to be existence at all. In fact, you might say that the ego is a subjective mirror of maya, or of the relative plane, just as the Self is the mirror of the Absolute. Yes, man in his highest aspect is ultimately in the image and likeness of the Creator. But there are parts of us that are merely in the image and likeness of culture, or biology, or college, or television, or whatever.

In order to comprehend this more holistic cosmo-psychic economy, we must abandon the mental fiction of logical atomism that forms the ego's point of view. In other words, if you are a materialist, it is because you are operating out of the material ego, so there is no surprise there: you are simply placing the existential cart before the egoic horse. It's analogous to someone putting on red sunglasses and insisting that everything looks red. Of course it looks red. Of course our troll is an atheist. That is not a mystery but a banality, a logical necessity, just as someone with an insufficiently developed ego lives in a magical or malevolent world as a result of being largely ruled by unconscious or supraconscious forces he does not comprehend.

Now, our pardigmatic science, physics, proposes a model of reality which is literally impossible to picture in one's mind. Nor will we ever be able to picture it, for it is a not a human reality in the strict sense of the term. Not to get sidetracked, but I do need to emphasize that one of the reasons I am religious is because religion preserves the most intense forms of humanism, which is to say, of human knowledge about the human station and its privileges and responsibilities, its origin and destiny. You can know nothing of this reality if you restrict yourself to the material -- let alone sub-material -- domain.

To cite just one obvious example, the other day, one of the mutual readers of LGF and One Cosmos was commenting on the increasing lurch into anti-intellectualism of the former, noting that his rabbi -- an eminent scholar -- had spent his entire life studying the Torah, and yet, had not even scratched its surface. For those of us in a position to know, this qualifies as a truism. But for those not so positioned, it's hard to know what they think about this, if they think about it at all.

It takes no learning -- let alone, wisdom -- for a jokebooted mob of metaphysical yahoos to, as the reader put it, "pontificate with grand self-assuredness that they know fully what is meant in all the intricacies and layers of Torah and the rest of us believers are a bunch of deluded dummies. There's nothing to be said to such people." Indeed, like gleeful, deicidal three year-olds, they can tear down in the space of five minutes what it took 2500 years of spiritual genius to build. This is the power of No!, which parents of two or three year-olds know all about.

This No! is not without its developmental importance, as it is the first attempt to erect psychological boundaries between the me and not-me, and to gain control over what one will allow into one's head. But the pathological narcissist is often fixated at this developmental stage, the result being that they omnipotently destroy (or deconstruct) with the No!, but don't have any real Yes to replace it with (one thinks of Bill "Just Say Yes to Hookers and Porn Stars" Maher). The narcissist can tear down but cannot build, as we see with the left.

For example, the ACLU mercilessly attacks the Boy Scouts, but it would never occur to them to simply start their own group of God-hating boy scouts. Likewise, it's easy enough for homosexual activists to try to undermine marriage, but why not invent a new sort of institution to deal with homosexual relationships, which share nothing in common with the sacred bond between male and female?

One may well ask how these people arrive at their belligerent certainty on matters that far transcend their childlike, earthbound intellects? It comes from the transcendent absolute, only dissipated and "frozen" within the confines of the quasi-animal ego. Living truth becomes dead when co-opted by the ego in this manner.

When someone asks if you "believe in Darwinism," let's be honest. They aren't asking if you believe in whatever the theory of natural selection has been demonstrated to prove -- like a simple bacterium or dailykos diarist that learns a new trick (yes, I know, that was redundant). Rather, they are asking if you believe that it provides an all-encompassing explanation for human existence, and ultimately whether or not you are a theist. And to the extent that God exists, then Darwinism quite obviously cannot possibly embody any kind of "total explanation." It would be absurd to think so.

Again, even on logical grounds this is strictly against the law, and Sheriff Gödel does not take kindly to existential scofflaws. Some people try to get around Gödel by artifically restricting the implications of his theorems, but they are not to be taken seriously. For no matter how much we learn about the human genome, our understanding will be either consistent or complete, but not both.

Along these lines, Rebecca Goldstein -- author of the excellent Incompleteness -- notes that "Gödel was a mathematical realist, a Platonist. He believed that what makes mathematics true is that it's descriptive -- not of empirical reality, of course, but of an abstract reality. Mathematical intuition is something analogous to a kind of sense perception. In his essay 'What Is Cantor's Continuum Hypothesis?', Gödel wrote that we're not seeing things that just happen to be true, we're seeing things that must be true. The world of abstract entities is a necessary world -- that's why we can deduce our descriptions of it through pure reason."

Again: things are not true because they are logical, but logical because they are true; our ability to use logic and math to describe the world is a result of something higher and eternal (more on which below).

Another passage from this interview is worth citing at length: Gödel's ambition was "to produce a mathematical result that would have meta-mathematical implications, or at least suggestions, about the nature of mathematics itself. It's as if a painter produces a picture that has something to say about the nature of beauty, perhaps even something to say about why beauty moves us. Mathematics forcefully raises meta-questions, since it is a priori, immune from empirical revision, necessary. How can we have knowledge of this sort? What's it about? The truths we learn about the spatio-temporal realm are all ultimately empirical; and they're contingent. They're not immune to empirical revision.... Mathematicians are cheap; they are thus cost-effective for universities -- which is another way of saying that mathematics is a priori.

"But this aprioricity and necessity present problems. What can necessary, a priori truths be about? Maybe they're about nothing at all, other than the formal systems we construct, mere consequences of manipulating symbols according to rules, as in chess. Platonism rejects this answer. It claims that mathematics is descriptive of abstract entities, of numbers and sets, that exist separately from our attempt to understand them through our mathematical systems. Platonism has always had a great appeal for mathematicians, because it grounds their sense that they're discovering rather than inventing truths."

Now, there is a way "beyond" the limitations of Gödel, but it obviously cannot reside in any form of empiricism, rationalism, materialism, reductionism, or, least of all, metaphysical Darwinism. In other words, we cannot escape Gödel "from below." But we can most certainly escape him "from above." Indeed, the very existence of certain mathematical truths proves that this is possible: again, the certainty of math cannot be derived from itself but from the certainty of the Platonic realm of which it is a "descent," so to speak. This is something which the neo-Platonists -- one thinks in particular of the immortal Plotinus -- emphasized.

Again, to repeat our thesis: How do we know with absolute certainty that reductionistic Darwinism cannot account for man? Because we may know with absolute certainty.

Now, one might say that the whole basis of the spiritual life involves "ascending" to the level of those Platonic truths that "cannot not be," and then "embodying" them in the herebelow. This is again what religion is "all about." Some people understand this -- in fact, the vast majority of people -- whereas others -- we call them materialists, reductionists, Darwinians, The Tenured, Lizards, etc. -- are, for whatever tangled developmental or genetic reason, incapable of seeing it. For them, blindness is just another variety of vision.

Goldstein makes an excellent point above, with the analogy of the painter who attempts "to produce a picture that has something to say about the nature of beauty," or "perhaps even something to say about why beauty moves us." This, don't you know, is what I endeavor to do with words. And I know that I sometimes succeed at this, because every once in awhile we get a reader such as Godinpotty who cannot see the painting and therefore forcefully proves my case.

There is only one thing that is truly proportioned to man's intellect, and that is the transcendent Absolute of which we are mirrors, links, and even deputies. Any philosophy short of this will inevitably produce a human body with no head, or a head with no heart. And folks, if you don't see a lot of headless and heartless people walking around our society, you might want to start by looking to see if your own head is properly attached and up in the clouds where it belongs.

The only freedom that is proportioned to our nature is that which opens the gates towards the eternal Freedom we bear in the depths of our being, and not to that which betrays man's weakness -- especially collective man's -- to the powers of dissolution and spiritual suicide. --F. Schuon

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Spiritual Fascism and the Darwinian Resistance to Transcendence

I'm thinking of taking a little blogging vacation. One of the purposes would be to actually spend some time in the arkive, trying to organize things. There are now over 1300 lengthy posts down there, and if I don't do something soon, it will be like one huge pile of leaves with no possibility of ever getting to the bottom or relating them to the central tree from which they all fell.

In other words, the leaves may look rather diverse -- politics, mysticism, metaphysics, anthropology, psychology, philosophy, theology, troll-bashing, etc., but they definitely (will) form (someday) a (I hope) unity because they are derived from unity. There is an absolute self-consistency there, the reason being that it all flows from the Absolute -- from the top down, not the bottom up. But I'd like to make the consistency explicit instead of implicit.

For example, in combing through the June '08 arkive, I noticed that there is a whole series of posts on the metaphysical impossibility of Darwinism. The essays take a rather different tack than the "intelligent design" people, and I think my point of view is pretty much unanswerable by any intellectually honest Darwinian. It's the sort of thing I'd like to organize into one coherent stream of thought, instead of just a pile of leaves buried under more leaves.

Anyway, here's one of them, with some new random mutations and copying errors....

As Charles Darwin wrote, "While nature, making procreation free, yet submitting survival to a hard trial, chooses from an excess number of individuals the best as worthy of living, thus preserving them alone and in them conserving the species, man limits procreation, but is hysterically concerned that once a being is born it should be preserved at any price."

Nah, just pulling your leg. That was Adolf Hitler explaining his values, values which he derived from immanent nature, not the transcendent Absolute. Hitler was guilty of many things, but not an absence of intellectual consistency in comprehending and carrying out the implications of his first principles. It's just that his first principles were insane and impossible, but no less impossible than metaphysical Darwinism.

Am I invoking Godwin's law this early in the morning? No, not at all. As someone once said, fascism in all its forms is the violent resistance to transcendence. Therefore, Charles Queeg at LGF, or the goons at dailykos, or any other flatland guardians, are not Nazis, since they mostly engage in non-violent resistance to transcendence, as do the ACLU, or People for the American Way, or any other anti-religious wacktivist or plain old ignoramus. It always involves state coercion, but the violence is implicit and "lawful."

I don't know that we have a word for this "non-violent fascism," but we ought to. You could call them "infrahuman," but this is inevitably taken as an insult rather than an objective descriptor. When I use that term, I apply it to anyone who denies the ontological reality of the human station, and insists that man is nothing more than an animal. Of course such a person is infrahuman (even though no real animal has to insist that he is one).

Nor should we let religion off the hook, for when it goes off the rails and descends into madness -- which it often does, since it is always practiced by human beings -- it seems that it is often a result of a violent resistance to immanence. When this happens -- when people insist on the absolute truth of a transcendent ideal to the total exclusion of immanent reality -- it can often result in violence. In fact, this is what we see in the Islamists: a violent rejection of the modern world in favor of their transcendent ideal of a new Caliphate. All of the violence flows from that initial error.

And matters aren't helped by the Islamist's totally upside-down metaphysic, which crudely regards the afterlife in grossly sensual terms (the 72 doe-eyed virgins and all the rest). In other words, they impose their idea of transcendence on earth but then fantasize about a kind of immanent sensual perfection in heaven. Madness.

Thus, there is a deep reason for the leftist-Islamist alliance, and it follows from a similar metaphysical error. On the one hand, the left-fascist "takes heaven by storm." However, he does this not in order to enter it by the proper means, via contemplation, meditation, prayer, intellection, etc., but to destroy it by imposing his one substance/one level ontology "from below."

On the other hand, the religious fascist takes earth by storm, not in order to understand it (a la the scientific method) but to impose his own single-level ontology "from above." But the results are the same: the imposition of their idea of "heaven on earth," which can only result in hell on earth.

Obviously, the freedom-loving Raccoon has no desire to live in either form of spiritual tyranny, i.e., the twin terrors of absolute immanence or absolute transcendence. We firmly reject reductionistic Darwinism to the extent that it interferes with the absolute prerogative of our interior evolution, AKA, the Adventure of Consciousness, or What It Is All About. The Raccoon knows that the only cure for the senses is the soul, and that the only cure for the soul is the senses, within the vertical trinitarian space that recoonciles them in its ceaseless flow of novelty.

Now, Christianity in particular disclose a metaphysic that carefully balances transcendence and immanence, at least if properly understood on the esoteric plane.....

Excuse me for just a moment. We interrupt this post for a dream that had me last night. I was at Tower Records -- which no longer exists, and was even "crumbling" in the dream -- and there was none other than Gerard Vanderleun behind the counter. He directed my attention to the book section, letting me know that all of the books were on sale for only $3.00 each. I went through all of the titles; I remember that one of them was a coffee table book about Orson Welles, containing great photographic examples of the composition of his camera shots. In the distance, I saw an unhealthy looking Tony Snow, also working in the store; he was cheerful despite his sad situation.

I ended up purchasing two books, one of which was a new, three-volume edition of the Bible, put out by Alice Coltrane's Vedantic Center. Alice was the widow of John Coltrane and a unique jazz musician in her own right (are there any other jazz harpists?) who later became known as Swami Turiyasangitananda, and actually formed an ashram not too far from my home. When I hear Alice Coltrane "jam" on the harp, I am not the only person who coonjures aural images of hipster angels in Jazz Heaven.

We'll get back up to the dream later, if we ever do. Anyway, when we say that "the word became flesh," what we are affirming -- among other things -- is that the ultimate transcendent principle is present in the immanent/material realm (which is actually a realm of pure dynamic or energic activity).

In fact, this Ultimate Principle is the "stasis" or "motionless mover" amidst the otherwise "total activity" that would be incomprehensible in the absence of the Principle which both "penetrates" and "contains" it. It is why the world is intelligible to man's intelligence: because the vertical center is here at the horizontal periphery. That the Word became flesh assures that man is -- or can participate in, anyway -- the center here below. Call it the "Kingdom of Heaven" which is spread all over the earth, and yet, men do not see it (even when they implicitly assume it).

Thus, when the Darwinist protests that "you don't have to be religious to be moral," he is mouthing a pure absurdity, for he is presupposing eternal principles that cannot be explained on any Darwinian basis -- again, because Darwinism only accounts for change of outward form, not the permanence of what not only transcends form but in-forms it to begin with, i.e., the consciousness of virtue that results from transcendent interiority.

Our materialist trolls would have us believe that merely "having morals" is somehow synonymous with knowing the Good and acting in conformity with it. All people have morals. The question is, are they Good? It is a strict impossibility that one could ever arrive at the Good through natural selection alone. Frankly, it is an absurd argument that no remotely sophisticated person could take seriously. Intellectually consistent Darwinists don't make that argument. Rather, they will concede that "morality" is an illusion based upon, for example, inclusive fitness.

This infrahuman view is absurd on its face. For one thing, any spiritually developed person knows that virtue is consciousness of a reality, not some simply defined behavior. Yes, we have moral codes, but the code -- even (or especially!) the Ten Commandments -- represents a "descent" from the Principle. This is why it is possible for the true saint to transcend them back to their divine Source -- back atop Mount Sinai, so to speak.

But there is a world of difference between transcending this plane from above vs. obliterating it from below. Our generation very much confuses license below with freedom and transcendence from above. Bonehead comedians who lauded George Carlin's "fearlessness" come to mind, but nihilism is not transcendence; the left habitually makes this category error, which is why they always idealize the adolescent rebel who transcends downward.

One way or another, man is condemned to transcendence. He cannot stay where he is, but must either ascend or descend. This was something recognized by Vedanta, with their description of the sattvic (vertically ascending), tamasic (inertial or descending) and rajasic (horizontally radiating or dispersing) gunas, or principles. Most Racoons are of the sattvo-rajasic temperament.

You might say that the saint is no longer "constrained" by the plane of morality because he now contains it. He has become Virtue Itself, and radiates it from every pore -- just as the sage radiates intelligence from every limb. Again, remember the man who wished to meet the great rabbi, not to learn Torah from him but to watch him tie his boot laces -- to see the divinized intellect in action.

When asked whom they would like as a guest at their "ultimate dinner party," many people naturally say "Jesus." But we already have a good idea what he would say. I would actually like to see him move. I would like to see how he carried himself, his gestures, his eyes, his posture, for you must know that they were enshrouded in the utmost nobility, dignity, majesty, authority, radiance, and benevolence and/or severity. He moved and spoke out of the Great Silence of the Transcendent Center.

Far beyond (and above) the words, those with eyes to see must have at least been dimly aware of the eternal stillness of the "unmoved mover" animating his every gesture from the inside out (which is another way of saying "from the top down" or from peaceful whole to dynamic part). Every movement must have revealed the Transcendence that lends Immanence its metaphysical transparency to the uncreated intellect. Obviously we see the same principle at play in a great work of art, but this would be that very principle "made flesh," not just canvas or stone

Now, back to my dream, a dream of transcendence that has shaped this post from the inside out. Vanderleun is a fine example of a man who grapples with own immanence -- as do we all -- but whose writing constantly reveals a preternatural gift of transcendence, perhaps even "in spite of himself," so to speak, an ability to span the distance between the immanent Penthouse and the transcendent repenthouse without denying either.

When I think of John Coltrane, I think of a man who was as "low" into immanence as it is possible to be, trapped in the ravages of a heroin addiction which he irreversibly transcended in 1957. Of this, he wrote that "During the year 1957, I experienced, by the grace of God, a spiritual awakening which was to lead me to a richer, fuller, more productive life. At that time, in gratitude, I humbly asked to be given the means and privilege to make others happy through music." Later, he wrote that his aesthetic-spiritual goal was to inspire people "to realize more and more of their capacities for living meaningful lives. Because there certainly is meaning to life." I cannot say that I don't try to do the same with words.

In the dream I am "in the tower" where they "keep the records," but the tower is crumbling and "going out of business." In such a situation, precious things are almost being given away for free. No one recognizes their true value. Eternal wisdom can be had for a mere $3.00. Heck, Petey gives it way, since no one wants to buy it.

About that triple "Vedanta Bible" of Alice Coltrane's, one naturally thinks of the Trinity, the three gunas mentioned above, the "three-sided" god of Vedanta (Brahma-Shiva-Vishnu, each an exterior aspect of the one Ishvara).

I would say that if you want to live on the other side of the looking glass not so darkly, you must, in a sense, restore the immanence of Vedanta to the transcendence of the Semitic religions. But you certainly needn't do this by blending the two. It's already all there, just waiting to be realized, for the transcendent became the immanent so that the immanent might realize transcendence right here, in the midst of immanence. But be sure and realize this before the tower crumbles and goes out of business, for the long naught is coming, the cold and dark winter snow in which nothing grows and no man can transcend himself.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Recovering Your Bewrongings in the Cosmic Lost & Found

When last we spoke we were wandering through the bewilderness, trying to make our way up the sacred mountain. Signs of human presence are growing increasingly sparse. Perhaps because the air is so thin, our shrunken judgment is not everything it could be and should be, because we just rashly threw our map, compass, knapsack, provisions, and troll repellant spray into the the brush. Now what?

Three apparent options present themselves: The Yes, the No, or the obliteration of their difference. "The Yes is a dictum, and the No a contra-diction." As such, "they become entangled with each other, and in the end they both lead to the abyss." The third option is to "throw yourself into the depths so that your own being and limits will shatter.... Your eyes will be opened and you will be like God."

But then you remember your buddhaflaw correction: "that you have loved your creatures' limitations and that you descended into our earthly valley to dwell here among us until the end of the world." The suspicion begins to dawn on you that the only thing many of the so-called ascenders "had encountered in their ecstasies was the masked phantom of their own nostalgia." The thought of Deepak lovingly gazing at himself in the mirror! The horror!

No, it is a certainty: "they must have been deluding themselves who pretended to know of a way that bypassed your humanity and went beyond it." Especially after Christ, human beings are the last word of evolution -- or can at least participate in the last word, the Omega. Yes, not even the distance from me to You was passable if it had not been trod in advance by You. You are the way. You are the trail guide and the trail. And the trail mix for when we get hungry.

But what kind of way is this? It seems indistinguishable from the bewilderness where we started. And yet, you say it is a Kingdom. "It is distant and not of this world and has nevertheless come close to us to dwell among us." It approaches us when we are far away from it, but seems to recede as we approach. What to do?

We are "like the bowl of an impetuous fountain, under the downpour of so many mysteries" -- mysteries of existence, of life, of consciousness, of beauty, truth, and virtue. I say "let it gush! By letting it gush you will grasp what you can, and what you can is to be a bowl for the flood."

But you must also let it flow through you, not just into you: "Open up heart and brain and do not attempt to clutch tightly," for the flow is also a kind of purification, or a defense against stagnation -- the latter of which is a lifeless accumulation of the waters where parasites breed.

Yes, this strange substance "that flows through you is precisely the meaning you seek." Could anyone have given this to you? No, of course not, because the more you let go, "the richer your wisdom becomes."

Truly, it is a bewilderness adventure: "Everything wants to bewilder you so that, out of the abundance of bewilderment, you will know the superabundance of love. Everything wants to empty you out, so that you become a hollow space for the superabundance of faith" (in my book the symbol [o]).

In your emptiness is your potential fulness. Only in your bewilderness is there the possibility of being perpetually found. In being found by You is our own finding of You; the eye with which You see us is the eye with which we see You: I once was lost but now am found / Was blind, but now I see.

Or, put it this way:

Now, if you haven't got an answer
Then you haven't got a question
And if you never had a question
Then you'd never have a problem
But if you never had a problem
Well, everyone would be happy
But if everyone was happy
There'd never be a love song

In your faithful unknowing is your death, and death is the possibility of resurrection. "Everything must die in the death throes of unknowing, for it is only out of perfect impotency that the royal garment of the World Conqueror can be woven. Everything must enter this current..." Yes, some disassembly is required...

But surprise of surprises, "this movement is produced by the heartbeat of the Center, and what appeared to be a chaotic impulse is the blood circulating in the Body of the cosmic Christ." Systole -- life. Diastole -- death. But the heart keeps pumping. What, sixty or seventy times a minute into every artery and capillary of this living, breathing cosmos.

As above, so below. This body is your body, and vice versa. "In this circulation you will experience both the futility of your resistance as you put up a struggle and the power of the muscle that drives you forward." For your blood flows away from the heart, only to inevitably return after its circuitous journey, "a closed circuit of endlessly flowing love."

This is the eternal journey, is it not? Outflow and inflow, exile and reunion, expiration and inspiration. "Slowly you will master the rhythms, and you will no longer grow fearful when the Heart drives you out into emptiness and death, for then you will know that that is the shortest route to be admitted again into the fulness of delight."

As the Son was "sent away" from the Father, you repeat this journey to those "remote places" of the cosmos -- not the least of which being yourself. But the Son's going out is his coming back, and in his "fall" from heaven is his return there. It's just a round trip "to the furthest shore, where the Father is invisible and wholly hidden." The ocean's wave casts itself out to the shore, but draws everything back into its own secret heart.

All-embracing secret center of depth, the meaning of Within, the realization of Being, O first and last truth of self, knowing without knowledge all that can be unKnown: existence to the end of the beginning. --The Coonifesto

(All quoted material playgiarized from Heart of the World)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

O, My Lovely Bewilderness!

I have to admit, I'm getting a little weary of this pattern of me waking up at 6:00 and Future Leader waking up at 6:15. It's really putting a crimp in the blogging. I mean, I can do it, but I can't really blog from the Silence -- that still, empty and silent womb with a pew we were talking about yesterday. True, I can usually pull something out of the fire in the allotted time, but I don't like to reduce this to a stupid human trick. It's just not right to have Hans von Big Brain in one ear and Sponge Bob Squarepants in the other.

I'm going to shift seers for a moment, because it will probably take less effort or more non-doodling on my part. I wanted to discuss the first book Balthasar wrote under von Speyr's influence, Heart of the World. It's an extraordinary work, and quite different from his usual fare, the latter of which is so loaded down with erudition, scholarship, and rationalism.

But this book is pure poetic-mystical flight into the heart of the Christian mystery. It has the feel of having been produced quite spontaneously, thus showing Adrienne's influence, not just in terms of the content, but the form; it feels as if it wasn't so much conceived as received.

Here again, as we have discussed in the past, he is simultaneously demonstrating what he is elucidating, which is what great art does. It's not as if you can abstract the meaning of Beethoven's Fifth and hand it to someone, as if that will replace the experience of hearing it.

By the way, the publisher describes the book as "A great Catholic theologian speaks from the heart about the Heart of Christ, in a profound and lyrical meditation on Our Lord's love for his Bride the Church," which hardly seems sufficient. Yes, that's part of it, but this is really a poetical flight into the higher reaches of intellection, i.e., the use of words to vault the mind past the limitation of words.

I'm going to proceed straight to the final chapter, because my recollection is that that was the most breathtaking one. From there, we'll just wing it. It's entitled Love -- A Wilderness.

HvB begins with a a kind of ecstatic ode to the adventure God grants us into his sacred bewilderness: "O the blessed wilderness that is your love! No one will ever be able to subdue you, no one explore you. The roads they rashly began to lay do not penetrate very far. They suddenly break off and the disillusionment of the pioneers still floats in the air.... Other paths have again grown over. The grass of the virgin forest presses in from both sides. Tall trunks have fallen across them. Again the wilderness hums and blossoms, boundless."

This reminds me of why the spiritual life must be a constant... I don't want to say "struggle," because that has such negative connotations. But it's somewhat analogous to exercise, which must be done every day. It must become a way of life, for if you start backsliding, your body will quickly revert to its former state.

It works the same way with religion, except that it's not your body that reverts to its former state. Rather, as HvB implies, the territory itself becomes overgrown and impassible. This is why I say that spiritual progress really is a "colonization" of this space. And just as in the worldly kind, you have to maintain a supply line between your forward movement and the world down below. This requires a kind of constant effort to clear the brush.

Again, it's easy enough to merely "ascend" into this space and say goodbye to the world. But then you won't be of much help to others. Rather, you will be like, say Krishanmurti. Leaving aside the question of whether he was a fraud, he spoke as if from a solitary mountaintop, and told his listeners that all they had to do was forget everything else and instantly transport themselves to the mountaintop. Which is pretty much identical to Steve Martin's rules for becoming a millionaire: first, get a million dollars. Next....

These people who claim to have "arrived" in God are usually the worst offenders, because there is no arriving in God. These folks are usually just practicing a glorified form of self-hypnosis. It's like "arriving in music," as if that would be the end of composing. In reality, there is only the blessed journey. If these people had truly "arrived in God," the last thing they would do is charge big bucks to tell you the secret of how they did it, or form a cult of personality around themselves. Furthermore, they wouldn't be so simultaneously pompous and shallow. Please. Humility is always the mark of the saint.

HvB writes that "When I was still young, I thought one could come into the clear with you. I saw a steep road ahead of me and I felt my courage swell. So I fastened my knapsack and began to climb." I can totally relate to this sentiment. When you start out, you're down here and the mountain is up there. All you have to do is scale the mountain, hand the blue flower to Ra's al Ghul, and you're in: you're B'atman. Or shabbatman. Now you can rest.

From a distance, a complex topology can appear to consist of straight lines. But the closer you get, the more you see of the actual pneumography of the place. In reality, it's fractally organized, so that it is infinite at every point. For example, it's easy enough to produce a map of Tonga by drawing a kind of circle around it. But a coastline is actually infinite if you were to try to describe it in all of its detail. Indeed, the very idea of a coast "line" is just a crude approximation. As Benoit Mandelbrot said, "mountains are not triangles and clouds are not spheres."

So HvB says that "for a time it even seemed to me I was rising higher. But today, after all these years, when lift up my eyes, I see your dazzling pinnacles towering over me higher and more unreachable than ever. And I have long since stopped talking about a road."

Do you see the point? As "close" to God as Balthasar was, the proximity only served to emphasize the distance. This is one of those "tests" for discerning spirits that we were talking about yesterday. When Deepak writes a book called "How to Know God," you can be sure that it is all about spherical clouds and other gaseous and vaporous forms that only block the sun.

In order to ascend the mountain, Balthasar took along what he thought he needed, various "regional maps and measuring devices." Once on the journey, he found that there were indeed well-mapped areas, perhaps like the groomed parts of the mountain. But don't try to ski outside the boundaries, or you're on your own.

So, "On many a mountain peak I saw little flags and signals set up, and on the boulders red and blue markings let me know that many a climber had already gone there. Certain camping spots were littered with 'Instructions for the Blessed Life,' as if with tinfoil or empty cans of sardines."

You could say that big-box churchianity involves weekly field trips to these well-lit areas. But what if you want to go a little further, into those areas that haven't been cleared and reduced to picnic tables and parking spaces for RVs with all the conveniences of flatland? That's what HvB did, and as he proceeded, he found fewer signs of human life, i.e., less litter and other human artifacts:

"It only struck me that they became more and more sparse, and they appeared old and rusty and on the verge of becoming a part of the wilderness themselves, lost as they were in the thicket of the virgin forest and in the tangle of branches."

Here I have a feeling he's talking about the early church fathers, upon whose rediscovery his own faith was so enlivened. He felt that the Church (at least for the trained theologians) had become somewhat suffocated in rationalism, with an under-emphasis on the mystical/aesthetic side of things. Thus, shortly after meeting von Speyr, he actually quit the Jesuit order, which represented the rather radical decision to "throw away the trail guides," so to speak, and ski in the Forbidden Areas.

Consider the very next sentence: "All of those who tried to domesticate you and rob you of your magic seemed to me to be childish and silly. And I felt anger towards them rising up in me because they were misleading the souls of those who could have grasped your magic, O my wilderness."

Can I get an amen?

So what did he do? "One day I threw everything in the bushes -- knapsack, provisions and map -- and I consecrated myself to you alone, O virginal landscape, and I became free for you."

Or, as the Man says,

No guru, no method, no teacher
Just you and I and nature
And the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost
In the garden
--Van Morrison

... leave our alter egos on the ego altar and surrender three forms of identification: I me mine. Just follow your nous and you'll make amends meet in the muddle of the mount. --The Coonifesto

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Inspeyred by O and Conceived in God

I'm thinking that perhaps Adrienne von Speyr was born a little too early for our own good. She obviously would have been a great blogger, in that she had mastered the problem of coming up with fresh material every day.

In attempting to impose some order on her vast and unruly body of work, Balthasar says that if viewed from the outside in, it "resembles a forest primeval"; but if regarded from the center out, one can sense a deeper nonlocal order from which her writings flowed. The trick is in locating the center.

This itself is an interesting point. As we have discussed in the past, science proceeds from the outside in, from facts to principles, whereas religious metaphysics proceeds from the inside out, from principles to facts. In my book, I use the symbols (k) --> O to schematize the former, O --> (n) for the latter. Or, to put it in plain coonglish, von Speyr was drinking straight from the firehOse of transpersonal experience.

There is no way to engage in O --> (n) without in some way "abandoning oneself" to the process, so to speak. After all, we are specifically using the mind to transcend the mind, and to obtain a kind of knowledge that surpasses us. We have to somehow align ourselves with this other subtle flow of energy, information, and refined sentiment.

It's almost as if it requires two different brains to pull this off, and in this regard it is something of a miracle that von Speyr and Balthasar found each other. After all, she is probably the one person in the world who "knew" more than he did (without having learned it), and he is the one person in the world whose erudition was so freakishly capacious that he was able to cut through her forest primeval and apprehend an order that even she couldn't have seen. She was the perfect explorer, while he was the perfect cartographer. He was the doer, she the higher non-doodler.

Balthasar writes of how there is a "constant center" (O) in von Speyr's work, which "fans out into various individual fields of application." But it's no joke: she truly engaged in a radical form higher non-doodling in order to engage in her lifelong bewilderness adventure.

That is, Balthasar notes that "the experiences granted to her were of a completely charismatic nature" and "cannot be logically inferred and deduced by any means." Rather, "they were simply given in this and no other way." She herself constructed no formal system, and in fact, was repelled by the idea of a "conceptual limit" being drawn around God. This makes sense, because in the final unalysis, no one can contain O. Theology can indicate, but pointin' a finger at your gnosis ain't the same as pickin' it.

Hmm. It just occurred to me that the relationship between HvB and AvS was in some ways analogous to that between the psychoanalysts Melanie Klein and W.R. Bion, the latter of whom came up with an abstract system to map Klein's forest primeval of rather wild descriptions of the primitive unconscious.

In order to "think" about anything, we must abstract from experience. The danger here, however, is that we can then confuse our abstractions with reality. Thus, we must always have one foot in the reality of experience, the other foot in our abstractions, which creates a kind of generative cyclical flow between the two. Experience fills out the abstractions, but then the abstractions can be used as "probes" to further explore experience.

Whatever your opinion about "religion," everyone -- theist and atheist alike -- must agree that human beings have what are known as "religious experiences." But what to make of them? The atheist magically makes them go away by affirming that these are ultimately experiences of "nothing," if such an absurdity is possible on such a widespread and universal scale.

The average person is either born into a religion or joins one, and this will both foster and lend order to what we call "religious experience." But religion cannot be the ultimate source of religious experience, any more than science can be the source of scientific experience.

We have a name for the latter fallacy: scientism. Perhaps we should call the former religionism. Ironically, these two approaches have much more in common with each other than either has with true science or religion, both of which converge upon the mystical, since they are two sides of the same O. In this regard, I think all Coons would agree that, say, Charles the Queeg Johnson, has the identical "form" as any fundamentalist preacher. Only the content is different.

HvB knew full well that the Church would be ambivalent about someone such as AvS, and one can appreciate why. After all, they can't just allow anyone's visions to be incorporated into the magisterium. But at the same time, you can't just ignore the fact that some people are closer to the firehose than others.

Are there characteristics we can look for that can help us distinguish the real coonman from conmen such as Deepak and his ill(k)? Yes, no question. There are certain "tests" that may still allow some false positives to slip through, but can eliminate some of the negatives, like certain medical tests.

So HvB appropriately begins with a discussion of AvS's overall character and approach. He says that she operated out of that same radical consent, the enthusiastic Yes! to God that crowns Mary's earthly perfection. Nothing could have happened in the theo-drama in the absence of that first unqualified Yes! that serves as a kind of mirror image of Eve's No way!

There is a true reversal here, for just as Eve came out of Adam, the messiah shall come out of the new Eve, who is the "church" in its most elemental form. The church -- the "body of Christ," both collectively and individually -- is perpetually saying yes, I am willing to give birth to God, regardless of the consequences.

HvB writes of Mary that "She is infinitely at the disposal of the Infinite. She is absolutely ready for everything, for a great deal more, therefore, than she can know, imagine or begin to suspect. Coming from God, this yes is the highest grace; but, coming from man, it is also the highest achievement made possible by grace: unconditional, definitive self-surrender."

This Yes!-- or perhaps "I do" -- is "the original vow, out of which arises every form of definitive Christian commitment to God and in God." Thus, to say Yes to God is to enter God -- and for God to enter oneself, in a mutual indwelling or spontaneous O-bedience born of love.

... and yes I said yes I will Yes. --Molly Bloom, Ulysses

A Divine child, a godsend, a touch of infanity, a bloomin' yes. --Petey, The Coonifesto

You could say that Christ is the sun, Mary the moon. As such, she is not the source of light, but of reflected light. She is the archetype of "pure transparency. Pure flight from self. Pure emptied space for the Incarnation of the Word..." She is spiritual poverty itself, as her empty womb is the very space where the conception God + man takes place. Thus we can perhaps again comprehend one of Petey's cryptograms:

... blissfully floating before the fleeting flickering universe, stork naked in brahma daynight, worshiping in oneder in a weecosmic womb with a pew....

In this voidginal state, we do not form our conception of God. Rather, he forms his conception of us within the sacred womb of our own being. Thus, we are both mother and child, and "the consenting person can be formed by God into the infinite: every possible figure that will be imprinted by God lies in the openness of perfect readiness."

According to HvB, Adrienne was in just such a state of "perfect readiness" that she entirely effaced herself when "dicating": "She could not remember the contents of her books and it would never have occurred to her to open one of them." By no means do I wish to compare myself to her, but I think I have some idea of what she's talking about, because I don't remember what I write either, the reason being that there is nothing inside "me" to remember in the usual way.

In fact, if I understand mysoph correctly, the blogging is a form of remembering, albeit vertical recollection. There's nothing there to remember horiziontally, because that's not where it came from. In this regard, I am reminded of something Captain Beefheart once said. I can't remember the exact quote, but it was something to the effect that I'd like to give my music away, because where I got it, it didn't cost me a thing.

You cannot fool God. You might as well try to be transparent on your end, because he certainly sees through you anyway on his end. You might be able to kid yourself about all the parts of yourself that are not surrendered to God, but you can't kid the kether, so don't even try, mister big shot.

He and She, innocently at play in the fields of the Lord:

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Drama Within the Drama and the Brains Behind Pa

At the moment, it's a little difficult to for me get back into the Theo-Drama, because my particular character in the drama has been distracted by one of its many sub-plots. I've begun to delve into Balthasar's main influence, who turns out to be just your typical friendly neighborhood sigmata-bearing, trinity-channeling, mystic-visionary physician, Adrienne von Speyr.

Specifically, I'm reading Balthasar's First Glance at Adrienne von Speyr, which is his relatively brief introduction to her vast body of work, most of which it seems was "dictated" to him in trance. It is definitely a drama within the drama, and anyone sophering from traces of reductionosis or materialitis will be severely tested. It's pretty much of an either/or: either you accept her as the real deal, or reject her as some kind of fringe kook.

Having personally witnessed the phenomena over some 27 years, Balthasar was 100% certain of her authenticity, although, at the same time, he left it to the church to make the final determination as to whether or not her teachings were kosher. But he says that he "never had the least doubt about the authentic mission that was hers, nor about the unpretentious integrity with which she lived it and communicated it to me." (And I'm assuming she must have known Pope Benedict -- then Big Joe Ratzinger -- being that Balthasar and Ratzinger started a journal together.)

First, Balthsar makes it clear that his work cannot be separated from hers, and that any attempt to do so does violence to his project. The whole relationship very much reminds me of that between Sri Aurobindo and his spiritual collaborator, known as the Mother (Mira Richard). In fact, I don't think I've seen anything that so closely parallels it. Sri Aurobindo also had to caution his reluctant disciples that his work could not be understood apart from the Mother, and that they were even "one consciousness in two bodies," so to speak.

In any event, whatever else you think about these people, you have to admit that something very strange was going on with them. How strange? I've mentioned in the past that one of the things that struck me about Aurobindo was how he could work on seven or eight massive volumes of theology, mysticism, scriptural commentary, philosophy, political science, and poetry, all at the same time. He completed most of his major works in a relatively short space of time.

Now, first of all, he had no training in any of the above subjects with the exception of poetry. Furthermore, he claimed to engage in "overmental writing," in which you could say that he was basically a stenographer for forces higher than himself.

The same thing is true of von Speyr. She was a physician by trade, with no theological training whatsoever. In fact, she didn't even become a Catholic until the age of 38, shortly after meeting Balthasar (she was born in 1902, he in 1905). He became her spiritual director, confessor and confidante, and they eventually shared a house until her death in 1965.

At the time of von Speyr's death, 37 of her books were in print, and yet, even today, few people have "taken serious notice of her writings." And those 37 are truly just the tip of the iceberg. There is apparently so much unpublished material that it dwarfs Balthasar's, even though he was obviously about as prolific as you can imagine.

And yet, as with Aurobindo, von Speyr's work is not the product of "thought" or cogitation. However, at the same time, she had a kind of implicit knowledge of deep spiritual truths, almost like an idiot savant who can solve complex mathematical problems with no formal understanding of math (except that she was no idiot, having been an outstanding physician).

In 1940, Balthasar began instructing her in the Catholic faith. On the one hand "she plainly did not know the things I told her," and yet, "immediately and directly recognized them as valid and true for her." She also realized that she had been seeking these truths her whole life (she was raised a protestant and had only heard vaguely negative things about Catholicism).

Balthasar has a vivid description of what this was like: "the outline of Catholic truth was, as it were, hollowed out in her like the interior of a mold. A slight indication was all she needed in order to understand and accept with all her heart and in exuberant joy."

I have to say, I know exactly how this feels, as it has been happening to me on a smaller scale, what with our ongoing adventures in Christianity. In fact, this is why it has been such slow-going in blogging about the Theo-Drama. More often than not, a single sentence by Balthasar blossoms into a whole post.

At first, the two were somewhat disappointed at the world's indifference to her remarkable gifts (her books were rarely even reviewed). But eventually, "she came to understand that during her lifetime it was her lot to talk into thin air, to work without any evident effect." Suffice it to say that there was absolutely no ego involved in any of this. Rather, she lived a life total surrender to the divine. Higher than her own power was the renunciation of personal power and her submission "in silence to the will of God."

Immediately after her conversion in 1940, "a veritable cataract of mystical graces poured over Adrienne in a seemingly chaotic storm that whirled her in all directions at once." It was as if she were transported "above" in prayer, only to come back down to earth "with new understanding, new love and new resolutions." In fact, on one occasion she heard a voice that provided a certain key to her gift: you shall live in heaven and on earth, like a sort of vertical bridge that spans the worlds.

But at the same time, this was no picnic. For example, she was given direct insight into "the interior sufferings of Jesus in all their fullness and diversity -- whole maps of suffering were filled in precisely there where no more than a blank space or vague idea seemed to exist." One part of her would be undergoing the experience -- stigmata and all -- while another part "was able to to describe in her own clear and penetrating words what she was experiencing."

Importantly, unlike free-lance mystics whose visions are of dubious value at best, hers were never unorthodox, but always wholly rooted in revelation. Again, she was fully surrendered to this divine reality, and didn't mix in her own idiosyncratic ideas. There is nothing "occult" about her, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding. She practiced a form of "self-forgetfulness," a "virginal readiness for the Word of God," in which the personal self would only get in the way. She loved the anonymity of of letting herself "be absorbed namelessly in the universal," or of simply making herself "available" to God. In this regard, her model was Mary (her first published work, Handmaid of the Lord, was a Marian one).

At the same time, despite the anonymity, surrender, and absorption in God, she was definitely a distinct person in her own right. As Balthsar puts it, "the supernatural dimension in no way effaced her natural individuality: rather, it underlined it." He describes her as fundamentally joyous, cheerful and humorous, despite her suffering. Like a child, she had a "love of surprises," and was always guileless and innocent, "with the idea that only in this way can the true meaning of life, the wild adventure of existence be properly portrayed." She was the very opposite of the modern jadedness and cynicism that stifles the adventure of life.

Indeed, one of her most prominent characteristics was "that all her life she was and remained a child.... Moreover, she was and remained nothing but a child before God, the Church, and her confessor, with a trust that had nothing to conceal.... This guileless openness of heart is probably the key to all doors of her nature and writing."

As for the content of that opened heart, I guess that will have to wait until tomorrow. Long day ahead.

Well, she talks to all the servants
About man and God and law.
Everybody says
She's the brains behind pa.
--Bob Dylan

Monday, June 08, 2009

Extras, Walk-Ons, and Bit Players in the Cosmo-Drama

Theo-drama cannot be understood in the absence of mission. You might say that mission is to action -- or to the horizontal -- what intellection is to thought or to the vertical. Mission is a further extension of meaning. In any drama, the action is dictated by a meaning-fueled mission of some kind.

For example, the other evening I watched Bergman's The Seventh Seal. It is about a disillusioned knight who has returned from the Crusades to his plague-devastated homeland, and is in doubt about the existence of God. He then encounters the figure of Death, who informs him that his days are over. However, he strikes a deal with Death, challenging him to a game of chess. So long as he can keep the game going, Death will give him more time -- the time he needs to try to find God.

Thus, the film would mean nothing if the knight's mission weren't our mission. We too live in a plague devastated land, except that the plague is internal, not external. This soul-disease has spread like wildfire into all of our major institutions. Among other things, it renders the host insane before killing him outright, just like the other plague.

Likewise, the land is filled with superstition and sinister prophecies, as people seek scapegoats or some easy means of penance or reconciliation with the gods. Witches are being burned at the stake, confessions extracted, heretics destroyed.

But enough about political correctness.

Balthasar writes that "if every mission, in particular, every *highly nuanced mission,* is a participation in the whole mission of Christ, the drama of each particular Christian life can, in its own way, be a kind of reflection of the mission of Christ."

There is a footnote for "highly nuanced mission," stating that he means this in the sense used by his mystic friend, Adrienne von Speyr. However, he doesn't explain what that sense is. Oh well. We'll just have to guess.

My guess is that a nuanced mission is a spiritual mission. The difference between a spiritual mission and a secular one is that in the case of the former, one is co-missioned by God. It is a vertical mission that bears on the question of eternity and of ultimate meaning. If you win, you cheat Death, which is what makes the mission so deadly serious.

In contrast, a horizontal mission can be anything from winning an election to winning the World Series. It has no intrinsic meaning. Rather, it's just a little game human beings invent in order to pass the time.

In fact, self-important human beings often engage in their trivial games as if they are playing chess with Death, but in reality, they're just trying to buy more time by playing with themselves (or with a projected part of themselves). They are are hardly chess masters, only chess masturbators.

There are the lesser mysteries and the greater mysteries. I would suggest that to be baptized or bobtized is to be initiated into the lesser mysteries, in the sense that one becomes aware of the general contours of the cosmo-drama as it hurtles toward its divine fulfillment.

But initiation into the greater mysteries occurs when one receives one's personal mission, one's role in the drama. Once this occurs, then ultimate meaning is conferred upon every moment of one's life, because every thought and every action bear upon eternity.

There is a reason why only the godless believe that Obama is on a mission from God. True, he is on a mission, but it is another kind of nuanced mission. It is as if he has been sent "from below" to spread the plague. His mission and our mission are mutually exclusive.

Again, every highly nuanced mission is a participation in the whole mission of Christ. What did the whole mission of Christ involve? Let's see: incarnation, baptism (rebirth in spirit), temptation, intrinsic authority, healing, persecution, condemnation, death, resurrection.

In Vedanta, there is the concept of the vibhuti, which is something between a man and an avatar, the latter being an incarnation of God. The vibhuti is here with a divine mission, but it needn't be a strictly religious one. It can be political, aesthetic, scientific, anything that advances the Cause.

Often we may detect a vibhuti by their own strong sense of divine mission, combined with an ability to surpass themselves in mysterious ways; when they align themselves with their mission, they partake of powers that are not their own.

Thus, they may appear powerful, but in reality must humbly submit to their mission. Their courage is in their submission. One thinks of Abraham Lincoln, or Winston Churchill, or Saint Paul, or the founding fathers, by no means "perfect men," but protagonists of "perfect missions," so to speak. The sense of "ultimate mission" allowed each of these men to risk their lives in their diverse actions.

Here is how Aurobindo described the vibhuti in a letter to a disciple: "A Vibhuti is supposed to embody some power of the Divine and is enabled by it to act with great force in the world, but that is all that is necessary to make him a Vibhuti: the power may be very great, but the consciousness is not that of an inborn or indwelling Divinity.... "

He adds that "the Vibhuti need not even know that he is a power of the Divine. Some Vibhutis, like Julius Caesar for instance, have been atheists. Buddha himself did not believe in a personal God, only in some impersonal and indescribable Permanent."

I'm not necessarily suggesting that Aurobindo is correct, I'm just "throwing it out there." Of course, for the Christian, there has been only one avatar, but that needn't imply that there hasn't been an abundance of lesser vibhutis. Indeed, I would suggest that the theo-drama is incomprehensible in the absence of the vibhuti principle, i.e., those vital supporting roles such as Abraham, Moses, David, John the Baptist, et al. These were hardly bit players in the theo-drama.

You can't have a drama with only one character. Furthermore, "a destiny that is purely private cannot aspire to ultimate interest" (HvB). Can politics be of ultimate interest? No, not unless it involves participation in the greater cosmo-drama. Thus, Plato was wrong. We don't need "philosopher kings," much less a community organizer.

Let's just say we need a vibhuti call right about now, before liberals call checkmate.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Knowledge vs. Realization: Follow the Depth

A post from two years ago, with some further reflections.... I apologize for the length, but I got carried away for a minute. If you only want to read the new parts, they more or less end with the asterisks.

Magnus left a comment yesterday: "Bob, you write about how you recognized Schuon as a vehicle of grace, but you don't agree with everything he says, and he sure wouldn't have agreed with everything of what you say. It mildly amuses me that this sums up how I relate to you. I see some things quite differently, but that never held me back from riding your spiritual coat tails. I am not in a position to only buy lamp oil from people I agree with in all things."

Yesterday a re-quest popped into my head -- or was it an order? -- follow the depth. That's pretty much what I try to do, irrespective of the discipline or source, in that each post is simply a spontaneously rewordgitated murmurandom from the deep space of vertical understanding. I assume it's the same way with you, in that there's something in us that is not only able to distinguish truth from falsehood on the horizontal axis in the cØnventional way, but also on the vertical axis in the cʘʘnvisional way.

For me, everything revolves around this thing called "understanding." This is true for everyone, theist and atheist alike. Humans "understand" stuff, and then pass along that understanding to others. However, it's not just that human beings understand different things, but that understanding itself takes place at differing levels of depth. It is axiomatic that something can be true on a shallow level but false on a deeper level. Therefore, if you want to prevent people from knowing about that deeper truth, you don't have to even argue. Rather, all you have to do is erect a barrier to depth. We call this barrier "public education," and we call the trolls who man the barriers "the tenured."

A few moments ago I was searching through the June 2007 arkive for a repost, but didn't find much that moved me. Which is odd when you think about it, because I'm the one who wrote the stuff, so why should I be moved by my own writing? The problem is, I found most of it to be "too understandable." It was like "blah blah blah, bob bob bob." As I mentioned last Sunday, I was experiencing some sort of disturbance in the force that month, which was making it difficult to blog. I mean, I could still do it, but not at the level of depth to which I am accustomed. I could not "surpass myself," so to speak. Rather, I could only "achieve myself," which isn't saying much.

Here is what I mean. I'm trying to shed some obscurity on that transient moment when this delightful thing called "understanding" takes place, as understanding is the gateway to depth. Back when I was in school, I rarely had this feeling. If anything, school was a systematic way to bypass the whole magical world of understanding.

Perhaps I should clarify. When I talk about "understanding," I am actually talking about realization, not a mere transfer of information from mind to mind. It takes no intelligence or skill to transmit facts, nor does it require a realization on the part of the receiver.

But most everything I write about is intended to transmit a kind of living realization that takes place in the moment -- not just for you, but for me as well. This is why it cannot be planned ahead of time, because if it were, it would tend to become fact-based instead of realization-based.

Here again, I am totally indebted to Bion for showing me the way in this regard. One of his central points was that undergoing psychotherapy was not an educative process. It's not as if the analyst is the teacher and the patient is the student, and all the analyst has to do is reeducate the patient. If that were true, you could just read a book and be "cured."

Rather, the trick is that the patient must realize the truths of psychoanalysis as they pertain to him specifically. This is why Bion conceptualized the overall therapeutic situation as O. To even say that there is a patient and a doctor is to pretend to know what O is, and to defensively prevent it from emerging in a spontaneous way.

Are you following me? Do you understand so far?

So if you were in therapy with Bion, he would not see a "patient." Rather, there would only be this field of O that is co-created by the participants and which undergoes transformations and disturbances of various kinds. The therapist comments on the disturbances, the patient comments on the comments, etc. It's all spontaneously unfolding and evolving now. Very jazz-like, come to think of it.

As I have mentioned before, in my book, I simply applied the same idea to the realm of Spirit. Last week I quoted Gurdjieff, who said that I have very good leather to sell to those who wish to make shoes. Do you see the point? He doesn't sell shoes. Rather, he only sells the good leather for you to make your own shoes, which is to say, to have a realization. Paradoxically, if he gives you the shoes, you cannot have the leather!

But it is absolutely no different with religion: if someone gives you the answer, you can't have it. It will be like a museum piece, or like a couch covered with plastic, or like a toe with no body attached. You want a toe? I can get you a toe, believe me. There are ways, people. You don't wanna know about it, believe me. Hell, I can get you a toe by 3 o'clock this afternoon... with nail polish.

But so what? What are you going to do with it? Keep it on your mantle?

Oh, you want a fossil of the "missing link," is that it? Hell, I can get you one of those too. But what good is a fossil if you don't even realize what a human being is? LGF. Fuckin' amateurs....

***Back to the post as it appeared two years ago:

On the horizontal axis, things are either true or false in the unambiguous scientific sense. But only on the vertical axis can you get into "profound truths," some of which might even superficially contradict one another. This, of course, is one of the fundamental errors of atheism and other misosophies. One of the reasons the vast majority of normal people reject atheism is that it's so trite and shallow. Our vertical truth detector knows that nothing can be that simplistic, let alone everything.

A profound truth is one that qualitatively ties together and organizes a greater quantity of phenomena on both the inner and outer planes. Thus, the more shallow the level, the more truths multiply; whereas the deeper one ventures, the more all-encompassing the truth, until one finally arrives at the One Truth: "to know much, you must know little" (and vice versa).

But even then it's not that simple, because on the vertical axis truths can be expressed in such a way that they "carry their own depth." Or, you might say that they simultaneously elucidate and demonstrate. The sayings of Jesus are quintessential in this regard. When he speaks, he is not just talking about the vertical, but at the same time showing it to you, tying together the interior and exterior dimensions of reality. After all, he is the vertical made horizontal, so to speak.

This is more or less what I meant about Schuon being a vehicle of grace, in that he too has the power to "make present" that of which he is speaking, which is always more or less O, approached from a multitude of vectors. As he put it in the preface to one of his books, "Metaphysics aims in the first place at the comprehension of the whole Universe, which extends from the Divine Order to terrestrial contingencies." Further, this order offers "humanly crucial openings, which is all the more important in a world wherein the abuse of intelligence replaces wisdom." In my book, I compare these openings to the vertical springs that dot the horizontal landscape. Once your cʘʘnvision is operative, these inscapes are hidden in plain sight every where and eventually -- one hopes -- when.

As Schuon wrote -- and which I could add as a disclaimer to each of my posts -- "Everything has already been said, and well said; but one must always recall it anew, and in recalling it one must do what has already been done: to actualize in thought certitudes contained, not in the thinking ego, but in the transpersonal substance of human intelligence."

This is why Schuon's writings -- like the cosmos itself -- never merely contain what they contain. Rather, they are activated in unpredictable ways upon contact with them (indeed, as mentioned yesterday, ways to which he might even object!) by one's own gnosis. This is why he can say in the preface of another work that "there is the order of principles, which is immutable, and the order of information -- traditional or otherwise -- of which one can say that it is inexhaustible."

Orthoparadoxically, although O is immutable, it flows with the ceaseless novelty of its intrinsic Threeness. Conversely, the infinite number of facts on the horizontal plane never adds up to the Infinite, only to the many, or the false infinite. The facts of our existence -- of Being -- are only tied together in depth by virtue of the deeper reality explicated through traditional metaphysics, but which must be realized anew by each person.

Which does not mean that you must be a metaphysician to appreciate this deep unity. Rather it is our prior condition, and available to anyone -- it is man's birthright, and part of what makes him man -- but "extended" and given voice and body through providential religious doctrine and practice. Religion is always fundamentally about deep unity, which is another way of saying deep meaning -- or the depth of meaning and the meaning of depth, both of which completely elude materialistic reduction: the secret protects itself, especially from the cold and greedy hands of the flatlanders, who can only "know" but not understand.

And in fact, this is why Schuon is never a syncretist, as he is always writing from the standpoint of primordial unity: "it is one thing to manufacture a doctrine by assembling scattered ideas as best one can, and quite another to recognize the single Truth contained in various doctrines on the basis of what we willingly call the sophia perennis." If he sometimes draws from this or that tradition, it is not a result of mixture, but generally for the purposes of illuminating an underemphasized doctrine in one tradition by way of another -- which in turn underscores the totality of each tradition and ultimately reinforces one's faith in their divine origin.

Human beings are mental beings, and to the extent that religion cannot offer a deep and satisfying vision to man's intellect, then it has failed in its saving mission. A religion should not only illuminate your mind, but save it -- and not just from "the world," but from yourself. Can I get a witness? Thank you. Left to his own devices and voices, there is obviously no end to the nonsense man will come up with. But one of the reasons he attempts to come up with these harebrained schemes is that faith and gnosis have become severed from one another in modern times. It is analogous to trying to illuminate what is off the road by following your headlight beams, which is a sure way to miss the splendor of the True, subtly illuminating itself off to the side in the dark woods.

The sapiential dimension of religion has generally been lost, and one of Schuon's central missions was to restore this element, so that religion may once again speak to intellectually gifted men. Religious doctrines "provide a comprehensive and qualitative knowledge of the cosmos," even though it seems that the majority of modern men have lost their ability to grasp "the compatibility between the symbolic expressions of tradition and the material discoveries established by science." (Obviously, my book was an attempt to demonstrate this deep and even necessary compatibility.)

It is as if modern man wishes for the deeper truth that reveals the unity of the vertical and horizontal to be of the same character as profane horizontal knowledge, which it can never be. With this benighted approach, man forecloses in advance that which he wishes to know. Today, few so-called intellectuals are even capable of comprehending the arguments of a Meister Eckhart or Denys the Areopagite, for they aren't even in contact with the plane from which they speak and to which their writings apply.

Proofs of God are not linear equations, as in 2 + 2 = 4. Rather, their proof is contained in their formulation, very much in the manner that the "proof" of a great work of art is not separable from the work itself. The genuine work of art is its own proof, its own certificate of authenticity. It is vertically self-confirming, is it not? And although a particular instance, it is proof of the existence of art in general -- as well as of the artist. When we say that "the word became flesh," this is by virtue of the principle that the Divine takes on qualities that are accessible to man, and which speak to him through their very substance. They demonstrate both that the cosmos does not contain itself, nor that man contains himself -- that he is only man by dint of his self-transcendence.

Thankfully, man's mind is not closed but open; it is open both horizontally and vertically. It opens out to the infinite -- or, to be perfectly accurate, the infinite opens into us: O--> (n). Praise God! And pass the I AM notion!

Although Schuon's writings are the essence of humanism -- being that they not only speak to the deepest level of our humanness, but attempt to preserve and resurrect it -- "humanism" has come to take on its opposite meaning in our disordered times. Thus, so-called humanists are actually profoundly anti-human, and specifically present us with a doctrine that cannot speak to the total man -- and therefore participate in genocide, both literal and symbolic -- or should we say, both vertically and horizontally. This de facto subhumanism can only speak to the fragmentary husk of man, not to the kernel (of which it naturally denies the existence) and embodies "the will to make oneself as useful as possible to a humanity as useless as possible."

Which is why Schuon's humanism is so useless to most people, whose own uselessness precedes them in advance of any encounter with the Real. For, to paraphrase Schuon, they blame the truth for their own refusal to admit it.

Follow the depth. And avoid the deeply shallow false lucidity of the terrible simplifiers.