Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Maps, Legends, and Seven-Dimensional Cartography

Sherrard writes that "In our post-mortal state our habits continue, though the means for satisfying them are now different." They continue "because we are still in the thrall of those images, or apparitions, or fantasies" which ruled us in this life. And these ghostly fantasies that we call "thoughts" are often themselves the byproducts of mind parasites.

Sherrard mentions the example of Hamlet, who hesitates to plunge in the knife for fear of "what dreams may come": "for it is in the post-mortal state that we are caught up in those passionate, parasitic sequences of thought and image -- those streams of consciousness -- which we have set moving in this life through some 'vital congruity'... of our soul and which we are compelled to follow, like a dream, as they unfold in our post-mortal state."

So be careful what you obsess over. Have you ever had a real obsession, something you couldn't get out of your head, and which just kept replaying over and over, like broken record or Keith Olbermann show? Well, those are just extreme cases. Much of what we call "thought" is really disguised obsession.

In turn, one of the primary purposes of prayer or meditation is to break the link in the obsessional chain. Being that obsessional thought always skitters along the surface horizontally, you can disrupt it at any time by going vertical, or up and in. Remember, you always have inward mobility and upward nobility.

In a later chapter (we'll get back to the present one), Sherrard talks about how even the senses "are false witnesses for those with impure souls." In other words, what we think of as the most "objective" source of data becomes thoroughly subjectivized in the wrong hearts. This is why science, which is neutral, often leads to the pneumapathology of scientism. You might say that scientism is a form of metaphysical OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), in that it is entirely circular and self-enclosed, and yet imagines that it is adequately describing "reality."

Which, of course, is why you could never "debate" someone with such delusions of adequacy -- such as Charles Queeg about Darwinism -- because it would be like trying to talk someone out of a hand-washing compulsion. It's just a mental tic, as his thousands of former readers well understand. I've had patients who wash their hands, or who check their locks or windows or stoves, hundreds of times a day. Saying "don't do that" would be entirely beside the point. It would be as helpful as asking an Islamist to stop hating Jews. You can't break into that closed circle. It is their map of reality, and if you take it away they'll be utterly lost in the cosmos, with no one to contain their unbound hatred.

Sherrard writes that "We must always remember that we can see things only as they appear to us after passing through the filter of our own perceptual equipment, and the degree to which this filter will admit or exclude the reality of what we see, or think we see, will depend entirely upon the modality of our own particular consciousness." Doors of perception, and all that.

One of the great spiritual dangers of "education" is that it inevitably involves a greater or lesser degree of indoctrination. As a result, the most educated people will often be the most indoctrinated. This is because the "educational establishment" becomes a thing in itself, the result being that those who best adapt to it are the ones who "move up" -- again, we would never deny the workings of natural selection, confined to its proper role.

The same is true of the MSM. The reason why they all think alike is because they are adapted to a ghostly reality that they co-create in adapting to it. It only exists in their heads, but they all mutually reenfarce one another, so that the dream appears real.

I well remember taking the state examination for my psychology license in 1991. The written test in particular is utterly irrelevant to what I would call "psychic reality." Rather, it's like a huge body of knowledge that one must master just for the sake of mastering it.

But there is a more sinister implication, because it forces one to defer to the state's definition of the mind and of mental health. But it does not correspond to the human mind. It is mostly a patchwork of disconnected fragments of knowledge compacted together like some sort of monster. And many of the fragments are inserted there by various political interest groups -- all the usual suspects, i.e., sodomites, feminists, cross-dressers, perverts, pagans, and liberal racists. You must regard the abnormal as normal -- or at least pretend you do -- or you cannot be a psychologist. Period.

The purpose of a theory is to mirror a world. As I have mentioned before, this is also the purpose of revelation and of theology: to mirror the divine reality. In the case of both science and religion, it is always a mistake to confuse the map with the territory or the menu with the meal. And in neither case is the map ever complete. Rather, we spend our lives as cartographers, and there is reason to believe that we take our maps with us when we go on the Big Hike.

Looked at in this way, the very purpose of a spiritual practice is to internalize an accurate map of reality in the full sense of the word. To put it another way, it should be the "cure" for various distorted or partial maps. You simply must have an accurate map, or you won't get anywhere. Or, alternatively, if you don't change maps, you're liable to end up where you're headed.

Sherrard discusses one of the subtle effects of the scientific revolution, and that is the bifurcation of reality into mind and matter, or the physical world and the reason. Excluded from this closed world is the intellect, which is our organ of perception of higher worlds (in my book, symbolized as ¶). Note that this bifurcation creates an intrinsically false map, but that the map can't destroy the intellect, any more than the Islamist's bad map of sexuality eliminates the sex drive. Rather, it simply returns in perverse form, as we see in Iran.

So when we are compelled to internalize a false map of reality that excludes the intellect, the intellect will then roam free, like a ghost, and try to make its own map, to the exclusion of the other two (sense and reason). This is how you end up with, on the one hand, fundamentalism, and on the other, the Deepaks of the world. Both have insanely inaccurate maps, the former because their map is two-dimensional, the latter because it corresponds only with his bottomless narcissism.

You might say that the fundamentalist fetishizes the map, turning it into a graven image, while in Deepak's case, his narcissism leads him to devalue the God-given maps, so that his alternatively vacuous or sinister babbling in no way mirrors the divine world.

As Sherrard writes, "This is a dark and hellish world, the world of the ego's self-deception.... This exaltation of our ego-consciousness, and of the pseudo-knowledge that goes with it, are evidence of the fall." In short, "what does not have its roots in [the] divine life is essentially dead."

When Christ says "let the dead bury the dead," he might as well be saying, "let Deepak bury Michael." This is not a casual asnide, but the essence of Christ's life and his example: "He is uttering a universal horation to all those who wish to live: that they have to die to and bury their dead selves; for when identified with these selves, they are as dead."

So crucify and bury those manmade maps, because they don't chart the torahtery.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Of Icons and Ocons

If you want to understand the power of mind parasites, just consider the fate of Michael Jackson, who was literally entombed in them by the time his corpse ceased dysfunctioning. A newspaper report says that at the time of bodily death (which occurred years after psychic death), he weighed 112 pounds, had nothing but pills in his stomach, was covered with needle wounds, had a mass of scars from all the body mutilation (i.e., cosmetic surgery), and had shed virtually all his hair.

But what is even more fascinating to the forensic psychologist in me is that now the family wants to sue someone -- anyone -- and that their sub-bottomfeeding spokeshole, Jesse Jackson, is talking about "foul play." Foul play? Foul play? Of course there was foul play! There always is. How do you think the mind parasites got there in the first place? Too bad Joseph Jackson can't sue himself and win punitive damages -- or maybe even send himself to prison for child abuse. From wiki:

"Jackson said that he was physically and emotionally abused by his father from a young age, enduring incessant rehearsals, whippings and name-calling.... In one altercation, Joseph held Michael upside down by one leg and 'pummeled him over and over again with his hand, hitting him on his back and buttocks.' Joseph would also trip or push his male children into walls.

"One night while Jackson was asleep, Joseph climbed into his room through the bedroom window. Wearing a fright mask, he entered the room screaming and shouting. Joseph said he wanted to teach his children not to leave the window open when they went to sleep. For years afterwards, Jackson said he suffered nightmares about being kidnapped from his bedroom....

"[Jackson] said that during his childhood he often cried from loneliness and would sometimes start to vomit upon seeing his father.... [Join the club -- Ed.] Jackson recalled that Joseph sat in a chair with a belt in his hand as he and his siblings rehearsed and that 'if you didn't do it the right way, he would tear you up, really get you.'"

As I've mentioned before, no matter how horrid the abuse, the mind parasites will nearly always come to the defense of their creator. Thus, Jackson "also credited his father's strict discipline as playing a large part in his success."

Who could ever begin to estimate the financial cost of mind parasites to society? For example, Joe Jackson, who co-created his son's mind parasites, now wants to be reimbursed by someone -- anyone -- for the fact that the parasites finally went a little too far and actually killed the host -- the ghoost that laid the golden records. They were just a little too strong. Either that, or Michael was just a little too temperamentally weak to survive them (no doubt a combination). "Ironic" is just too insufficient a word. The child who murders his parents and then pleads for mercy because he is an orphan is just too insufficient a joke.

One of the reasons you cannot calculate the cost of mind parasites is that you cannot calculate their value. It's analogous to the so-called cost to society of smokers. They never factor in the billions of dollars saved in social security that will never have to be paid out. Plus, you have to die of something. They calculate the medical cost of smoking as if the person wouldn't eventually have had some other costly medical problem.

Mind parasites can create a kind of economic bubble to go along with the psychological bubble. In the case of Jackson, countless people lived in, and fed off of, that bubble -- not just his worthless family members, but various plastic surgeons, pharmaceutical companies, handlers, and a devolving door of rented friends. Plus, because of his essential emptiness, he spent millions upon millions trying to fill it. How could you possibly calculate the economic activity?

Truly, if you could wave a magic wand and instantly make all of the mind parasites disappear, I'm afraid that the economy would grind to a halt. Look at me. I'm not holding myself out as any kind of model, but I lead a very simple life, and that's the way I like it. Complexity merely interferes with the essential bliss, or contentment.

And if the bliss isn't happening, I don't blame it on circumstances, let alone on an absence of complexity. Rather, the bobstacle force is nearly always within. Or we're out of grog. But I think it's fair to say that most people pursue the complications as a replacement for contentment. It's mostly an exciting distraction that lasts as long as the illusion can hold out against psychic reality.

It reminds me of how people complain about our political system, and how the most important job in the world comes down to how many idiots you can influence with 30 second TV commercials. So people talk about limiting the amount of money you can spend on a campaign, or banning political commercials.

But such "solutions" are entirely beside the point. The problem is, people are stupid and impressionable. And one of the main reasons they are stupid and impressionable is that liberals have near total domination of the educational establishment and mass media. Unless we solve the problem of TV and college, we're going to continue to get vapid but dangerous clowns such as Obama. There is something fundamentally wrong with a society that elevates the perverse nightmare of a sadistic father to an icon, and elevates the vacant dream of an absent father to an even bigger con.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Innocence Lost, Found, and Stolen

So, when we die, the mask slips off. But while we live, the mask is in place, to a greater or lesser degree. This immediately brings to mind Adam, whose fall is simultaneous with the placement of the mask. One moment he's walking in the cool of the evening with the Creator, the next moment he's confabulating all over the place. The confabulation fills the gap between divine and human reality.

"Adam, where are you?"

"Er, I was hiking in Appalachia. Yeah, that's it."

Innocence lost. In-nocens, i.e., free from guilt or sin thorough lack of knowledge of evil; blameless; harmless in effect or intention; candid; lack of guile, sophistication or self-consciousness; artless; ingenuous.

So the guilty always wear a mask. The corollary of this is that those who wear a mask are guilty. Which is why they wear it (although sometimes it's for protection -- to hide the true self until it's safe to come out).

"Michael, where were you?"

"Er, I was just sleeping with this boy. I do it all the time. Taking another person into your bed is a beautiful, innocent thing."

Over at Return of Scipio, a (our?) Will made a comment about how Jackson spent his life trying "to reverse the course of spiritual/psychological evolution in [his] egotistical desire to return to a 'land of innocence.'" However, "one can’t return to the land of innocence. If one tries, the result is psychological fragmentation, the center cannot hold."

This is an interesting point, because it suggests that the Fall is associated with the principle of entropy, which results from the fact that time travels in one direction, i.e., that it is irreversible. It is not analogous to a film, which can be run forward or backward. For example, in our world we might see a cup fall to the floor and shatter. But we never see broken fragments on the floor fly onto the table and form a cup. Spilled milk stays that way. Shattered innocence too.

In the case of Jackson, he didn't just wear a mask; he became his own hollow weenie mask. Remember what we were saying yesterday about how in the post-mortem state, there is no "friction" from matter to interfere with thought? One of the perils of great wealth is that it can, in a way, do something similar, so that there is no friction between fantasy and reality. Dreams and wishes can instantly become hearses, no matter how much buggering is involved. But in the process, the real person dies -- slowly and insidiously.

Note also that, instead of being in the image and likeness of the Creator, Jackson had the power to remake (or de-make) himself in the image of himself. He became like a god, and he was his own hideous creation. But this cannibalistic creation fed off the innocence of others in order to maintain its spurious sense of life. Truly, s/h/it was a vampire.

This is why the case of Michael Jackson is so familiar to us. Read Peter Guralnick's great biography of Elvis. Nothing new here. As fantasy displaces reality, it takes more and more energy -- or, let us say psychic substance -- to prop up the fantasy. The fantasy is not real -- it is parasitic -- but like any system, it requires an input of energy to go on being.

I don't want to delve too deeply here into esoteric psychoanalytic theories, but what occurs next is the development of a "psychic twin," or dopplegänger, that displaces -- or exists side by side -- with the real self. Imagine in your mind a kind of ghost that feeds off the psyche, and eventually drains it of substance. This is what we saw in Jackson: by the time he "died," he was already a hideously decayed corpse, kept afloat in a sea of time-stopping opioids. He was just the last to know.

No, wait a minute. The MSM is the last to know. But that's understandable, since the MSM mostly consists of the living dead -- corpses, zombies, and assorted ghouls. So one of their own has... you can't call it "died," since that's redundant. Nor can you call it "grief," since there's so much manic glee associated with it. Call it a "monster party" with all the ghouls in attendance: Larry King, Deepak Chopra, Geraldo, Al Sharpton, all reminiscing about their fellow ghoul. All the corpses are weeping today: Elizabeth Taylor, Madonna, Justin, Britney.

But where is the person with sufficient childlike innocence to blurt out the simple truth to these undead souls? I mean, Dude, he fucked little boys!

Regarding his choice of embalming fluids -- we are hearing stories of demerol, soma, dilaudid, oxycontin -- several of these heroin derivatives do have the property of arresting time. I well remember my colonoscopy in 2007 -- yes, it haunts one forever -- specifically, the blissful afterglow of the anusthesia. For the rest of the day, I was absently floating in a kind of Eden, just observing my thoughts -- my existence, really -- like so many passing clouds.

One could get used to that. However, remember what we said above about the entropic, irreversible nature of time. We live in the middle-earth area between Eden and Heaven, so to speak. As Will mentioned in his comment, we cannot go backward, nor can we remain static, on pain of rotting from within. Rather, once out of paradise, the soul is in motion. Where is it going? Well, that depends on you. In conjunction with some friendly nonlocal operators, of course.

In my book, I discussed the nature of this motion, and the saints, mystics, and assorted pneumanauts who represent the exact opposite of Michael Jackson. Caught up in the deathstream that runs from future to past, he marshaled all of his earthly powers to try to return to the lost paradise of childhood. But that way is ultimately blocked by cherubim bouncers with flaming swords. Nobody gets past them, although many celebrities try to crash the gates in their long black limousines.

In contrast, the saint faithfully throws himself into the lifestream that carries us forward to our deustiny, that "return-route to the forgotten country from which humans set out Before the Beginning. Venturing across the great divide separating man from the incorruptible sphere of the gods, our virtual adventurers then found themselves pulled into the orbit of the Great Attractor, the very ground and goal of existence, the unseparate Source of all being, a mostly uninhabited region at the outskirts of consciousness, the Final, Absolute Reality where cosmos flowers into deity and Bang! you're divine."

No lies. No mask. Holy childhood, shabbatman! Innocence found! It's always in the last place you look....

Friday, June 26, 2009

Does Your Religion Kill Bugs Dead?

Hmm. Now I'm getting a little bored with the arkive, and have the compulsion to come up with something new. Perhaps I have to face the fact that I'm just not that into me. But this really is new -- new information about mind parasites. Whenever I stumble upon anything pertaining to them, my ears naturally perk up, because it's always good to know that I'm not the only one who notices them.

It has to do with what happens to your mind parasites when you die. You'd think that this would be purely speculative, and perhaps it is, but it makes a great deal of sense to me, given what we know about them from our side of the veil. (Actually, the author in question is an Orthodox Christian who translated the Philokalia, so his credentials are pretty impeccable.)

There is a related aspect to all this (which I'll get to in a subsequent post), which has to do with how one's "mission" is carried over into the "next life" (which is obviously just this life "prolonged" in a different dimension).

Thus, one could say that one's mission and one's mind parasites are at antipodes of the psyche. Furthermore, mind parasites are specifically what interfere with one's mission, both here and hereafter. To put it another way, to discover and embark upon one's mission is to activate the mind parasites. This we know.

I came across this new info in chapter eight of Philip Sherard's Christianity: Lineaments of a Sacred Tradition, entitled On Death and Dying: A Christian Approach. I read it last night before going to bed, so it may or may not make sense in the full obscurity of the day. I guess we'll find out.

I was just reading along, blah blah blah, when Sherard makes reference to quasi-autonomous entities within the soul (or to which the soul attaches itself): "then they develop according to a logic of their own. Such growth may go on, or retain its potential for going on, quite apart from our conscious knowledge, so long as the passions which prompted it are unassuaged or unpurified."

It was the next paragraph that caught my I: "We are always setting these sequences going, these 'parasitic vegetables' as Yeats called them, in our soul. Sometimes we act out the logic of their development in our lives, through an endless sequence of objects which they have suggested to us; and sometimes we cut their development short, forcing them back into the psyche but leaving them still with the full power to develop unless we have also freed the soul from the passion or passions which gave them birth."

It reminds me of Saddam's WMD program. Liberals foolishly believe that because relatively few have been found, he wasn't dangerous. But as the Duelfer report indicated, everything was in place to get the programs up and running within a matter of weeks. The point is, the only thing that could ensure our safety was removal of the parasite.

It's obviously the same way with Iran. Obama is delusional enough to think that "extending an open hand" to the Islamist parasites will convert them. This makes about as much sense as extending an open sore to the bubonic plague. Not only that, but the Iranian parasites understand better than American liberals that Obama is a liar and a fraud -- a parasite himself! Why would they ever trust such a man, when they know full well that Americans can't?

As it pertains to the individual, the point is that until such a time as he has mastered the passions that give birth to the mind parasites, "these thoughts or images will continue to haunt us, and will go on breeding these parasitic sequences in our soul until we are freed of them."

However, one of the tricks of the parasites is that they create their own world, so to speak. In other words, they conspire to bring about the world they require in order to "go on being." Imagine the drug addict, for example, who moves to a remote state in order to get away from the environment he has created, in which his parasites are constantly activated and tempted. You know what they say: lead us not into temptation BUT deliver us from evil. Thus, temptation and evil are obviously conjoined. Mind parasites create a world of temptation, and gravity takes care of the rest.

Sherard affirms what amounts to a truism in psychoanalysis, that the "mental images or apparitions to which our soul is attached -- these thoughts -- do in fact constitute for us what we call reality: they constitute our world." But in the very next sentence he affirms what is definitely not a truism in psychoanalysis, that "at our physical death.... we still inhabit, or imagine we inhabit, the same world that we inhabit before our physical death." In short, "the images that compose [our world] have as much power over us then as they do now."

Indeed, it seems that the mind parasites have even more power, since there is no longer the "friction" of matter to constrain them. As a result, several things happen. First of all, the veil that separates you from your mind parasites vanishes, so you can no longer fool yourself (much less imagine that you are fooling God). Thus, one's "true character is revealed."

In this regard he quotes the gospels, including Luke 12:2-3, where it is written that "There is nothing covered that shall not be revealed; nothing hidden that shall not be made known..." You are naked, baby, without so much as a skeevy fig leaf of ego to conceal the dreary architecture your soul. You sink all the way to your rotten core, AKA hell.

Sherard says that a kind of body persists, except that now the body becomes a true mirror of our interior state. In this life, we can fool people, but somewhere in the attic is that ghastly picture of Dorian Gray or Michael Jackson that reveals the ugly truth. Conversely, think of Jesus revealing his transfigured body of light to the disciples.

The post-mortem body will "represent our true ruling disposition rather than any disposition which, like a mask, we have been able to adopt and to convince others is representative of our true self during this life." But of course, there are innumerable instances of saints who become a beautifully transparent body of light in this life. To be continued....

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Image is Everything: Man and Other Mirrorcles of the Absolute

Here's an old post that provoked few comments at the time, whether justifiably or not, I cannot say. But at least it gives me the opportunity to rewordgitate it and delete the old one from the arkive....

You often hear vaguely spiritual but essentially anti-religious people say that they kinda sorta believe in God, but not in some bearded old man sitting on a throne in the sky. Therefore, the non-conformist (or coonformist) in me makes me wonder if that isn't probably the best way to think of God, short of apophatic mystical approaches in which the only thing you can know about God is that you cannot know him; or that whatever you say must be immediately unsaid in order not to mislead.

While God must have an absolute truth known only to himself, down here we partake of relative existence. In short, we are not God. That being the case, it seems that God has extended the courtesy of revealing certain fruitful ways to think about Him so that he may be grasped by the mind on this side of manifestation: king, lawgiver, father, judge, comforter, shooting guard for the Chicago Bulls, etc.

Postmodern man hates more than anything to be duped or taken as a naif, which typically results in a kind of self-enclosed and self-satisfied cynicism that can only belligerently (and narcissistically) affirm what it does not know. While this stance may mimic "sophistication," it is just metaphysical naivete the long way around, like one of our typical trolls. Better to believe in nothing than to risk looking silly in the eyes of other sophistical yahoos and faculty lounge liztards.

Schuon points out that these modern mytherfolkers "merely replace one sentimentality with another when laying claim to 'objectivity'"; in fact, their so-called objectivity is "merely a soft and pretentious sentimentality, which is far more illusory than a transparent 'subjectivity.'" The fundamentalist atheists come to mind, e.g., Dawkins, Harris & Hitchens, all lost in a sentimental and childlike notion of 19th century "objectivity."

This is a caricature of true objectivity, which, as every Raccoon knows, is a union of complements: it "does not set up an opposition between cold and heat but transcends them both: like emptiness it stands opposed to a false plenitude, whether hot or cold, or like silence to a heavy and blind affirmation" (Schuon). The Raccoon knows the secret that God is equally a bearded old man in the sky, and no such thing. He knows this because he himself has a physical form which he transcends (or, to put it another way, is infused with transcendence).

Christianity is obviously not the only religion that has promulgated the idea that God has assumed human form, e.g., the "avatar principle" in Hinduism. Without getting into ecumenical squabbles, let's just agree on the principle that the Absolute may take embodied form in the relative, uniquely so in man, who is the "image and likeness" of the Absolute.

Being that we are the image and likeness, we should expect to see traces of this in both our objective (i.e., bodily) and subjective (i.e., mental) states. Furthermore, there is no reason to believe that other animals shouldn't share traces of this absoluteness, only in lesser degrees, as they are ultimately "descended" from man, rather then vice versa. A man isn't ape + X; rather, the ape is human minus X.

In other words, in relative, horizontal, and Darwinian terms, we may be "descended" from animals (or ascended, really), but in absolute and vertical terms, the converse is true. An ape is a partial manifestation of man; man is not a "perfect ape," although Keith Olbermann comes close.

As Schuon writes, there are certain lower forms of life, such as cockroaches or snakes, that repel us because they are "like living conscious matter," whereas "the law of matter is precisely unconsciousness."

Conversely, monkeys or olbermen are noteworthy for the opposite reason -- that "they are like men who have been deprived of the central consciousness that characterizes mankind." They are not "conscious matter," but "consciousness decentralized, dissipated." At the same time, there are other animals that are obvious symbols of transcendence and beauty, the butterfly being my favorite example. In their case, we see the higher prefigured in the lower.

Now, being that God is transcendent and therefore immanent, every manifested thing is actually "God in disguise." This is not to be confused with pantheism; for example, even a rock is God, but that hardly means that God is a rock. The latter would represent the pantheistic confusion. Everything points in two directions, toward its own form and to something beyond, or to something that "radiates" through it. We see this most vividly in virgin nature, which engenders a kind of spontaneous reverence. The radical environmentalist converts this supernaturally naturalistic awe into a pseudo-religion, conflating an effect with its transcendent cause. Yes, the earth is sacred. But how did it get that way, knucklehead?

In subsequent posts we will be discussing the beauty of the human form, through which transcendence radiates with particular metaphysical clarity, since a human being is nothing other than a "lens" where the vertical collides with the horizontal in the most intense way, very much in the manner that a hologram is produced.

To cite one obvious example of man's subjective deiformity, our minds are both "infinite" and "absolute," just like the Creator. There is no end to the human mind's inexhaustible creativity; but at the same, we are uniquely capable of knowing absolute truth and morality. For example, secular scientists routinely affirm the absolute truth of certain facts and theories, while many leftists can dimly apprehend somewhere in their tarnished souls that innocent human life is of infinite value, even if it is only their own life.

Again, being that our minds share this deiformity, it would be surprising if not impossible to not see traces of this in our physical form, bearing in mind that we are "descended" from the perfect archetype, the Cosmic man, or Adam Kadmon. For example, when we see Michelangelo's Pieta or David, are we not seeing man's formal perfection liberated from marble? Perhaps my standards are low, but I can hear perfection in a three-minute pop song.

When we discuss man's deiform nature, we are talking on the one hand about his capacity to know the absolute, on the other his physical beauty, beauty being embodied truth. Schuon points out that aesthetics is nothing other than "the science of forms," or formal beauty.

But just as beauty is the splendor of the true, truth itself will conform to standards of beauty. This is why a sense of form, rhythm, and proportion all "play an important part of intellective speculation," and can be important criteria of truth. A mathematician never expects to find an ugly equation ordering the cosmos. That we expect to see ugly art excreted from our elite universities tells us all we need to know about them. This distorted art -- which produces a de-divinized and therefore dehumanized picture of man -- can only be produced by willfully infrahuman beings, exiled and alienated from both God and man.

To put it another way, God cannot be a bearded old lesbian performance artist sitting in the faculty lounge (whether female or male).

This also explains the truth and beauty of scripture, for just as some things are too ugly to be true, others are too beautiful not to be.

The unbeliever, on earth, believes only what he sees; the believer, in Heaven, sees all that he believes. --Schuon

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

You Shall Know Them by Their Ideals

An old post with a few contemporary rifferences tossed in....

An analysis of the ego cannot occur without simultaneously discussing the Ideal Man (at least implicitly). Because if the ego is what is wrong, we must have some idea or model of what is right.

This is only true of human beings, by the way. There are no good or bad animals. You can’t tell a pig to stop acting like one, which is why all those visits to the Clinton White House had no effect on Arafat, and Obama's craven appeasement of the Iranian thugs will only encourage them.

Human beings come into the world seeking role models to emulate. Oddly enough, we don’t “know” how to be human, so we imitate and internalize the behavior of those who are immediately at hand. But clearly, not everyone we internalize is noble or praiseworthy, to say the least.

In his formulation of the superego, Freud outlined two distinctly different aspects, the conscience and the ego ideal. Most of us have at least a rudimentary familiarity with the conscience, Arafat or Ahmadinejad to the contrary notwithstanding. It the “internal sentry” that rewards or punishes us for our thoughts and behaviors.

But the superego must not be confused with morality per se. It is extremely common to internalize a superego that punishes good behavior and rewards bad behavior, as we see throughout the Muslim world. (I addressed this problem in a previous post entitled Conscience, Superego, and Huk al Berri.)

It is also common to have a “corrupt superego,” which, as you might imagine, is similar to having a corrupt police force or military. It may technically believe the right thing, but will be unable to enforce it in a consistent manner. It is often at the basis of what we call hypocrisy, although it is completely unconscious.

As I wrote in the post linked above, “The problem with Freud's conception is that the superego will reflect the particular family in which one grew up and the particular culture in which one lives. As such, the superego is not necessarily moral at all. It is essentially amoral, in that it may well punish the individual for morally good behavior and reward him for morally bad behavior, depending upon the culture.

“Here we can understand why the emphasis on truth is so vital. For in the Arab Muslim world, they are so inundated with vicious lies about America and Israel that it would be immoral for them not to hate us. In a racist or anti-Semitic society, the superego will actually demand that its members be racist and anti-Semitic. For example, the nazi movement in Germany was animated by perversely 'high ideals,' without which they couldn't have engaged in their project to exterminate the Jews. Once the lie is established as truth, then the superego takes over, impelling the individual to act in a ‘moral’ way, consistent with the implications of the lie.”

The other dimension of the superego is called the “ego ideal.” Whereas the conscience punishes or restrains, the ego ideal “spurs” or encourages. You might call it our “destiny drive,” as the trajectory of our life can be measured in terms of how effectively we close the distance between ourselves and our ideal.

A person’s ego ideal speaks volumes about who they are “deep down.” However, it also reveals a great deal about a culture or nation, because all groups have collective ego ideals who act as a telos or “north star” to guide them. There are political ego ideals, religious ones, and other kinds.

One of the problems we face in our war against leftist fundamentalism and radical Islam is that we have entirely different and irreconcilable ego ideals. In the case of Islam, their political and religious ego ideal is the same man. But by the standards of the West, Mohammed was not a model worthy of emulation, what with his warlike behavior, his pedophilia, and genocidal attitude toward "infidels."

One of the baleful effects of the secular left has been to “deconstruct” and undermine the heroic and virtuous ego ideals who have always guided the United States. You know the tedious drill -- the founding fathers were just slave holders or self-interested businessmen, capitalism is exploitation, America is hotbed of racistsexisthomophobia . Instead of celebrating Lincoln’s or Washington’s birthdays, we merely have “President’s Day,” which is to conflate a quasi-divine being like Abraham Lincoln with a creepy, sanctimonious, petty, egomaniacal, Jew-hating, and all-around morally reprehensible weasel such as Jimmy Carter.

But this type of moral leveling is always at the heart of the leftist project, because it goes hand in hand with the assault on standards of any kind. For the left, all hierarchies are bad, because some people will fail to meet the ideal and therefore feel bad. But their entire philosophy is a fine example of a collectively corrupt superego, because there is no one so secretly elitist and superior as Leftist Man.

One of the purposes of leftism is to fool the conscience into thinking one is a good person just because one supposedly cares about “the little guy,” or about global warming, or about the evils of Walmart, or about being nice to terrorists. This is why studies always show that conservatives are personally much more charitable and giving (not forgetting happy) than liberals.

Imagine the immense appeal of this corrupt philosophy to the typically narcissistic Hollywood celebrity who has never even attempted to master himself, much less succeeded. But all is forgiven so long as he believes in high taxes and a massive state.

I don’t know about you, but I can look back at my own life and see a series of used and discarded ego ideals who have formed the “stepping stones” to my own true self. Some of them might appear trivial, but in each instance, I can see how they represented an external model for a part of myself that endures to this day.

For example, I remember when the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest came out, it had a profound effect on me. I totally related to R.P. McMurphy, in that he represented sanity or the “life instinct” amidst the dreary world of totalitarian, life-denying conformity. I didn't see it at the time, but the messianic parallels with Christianity are obvious: McMurphy is actually the sane one in an insane system, so he must be crucified, i.e., lobotomized. Today we call it “political correctness,” which represents a collective mechanism for lobotomizing the sane and killing the truth. The New York Times, the MSM, and academia all represent the oppressive and tedious Nurse Ratched.

Now, just as the Islamist hates America or Israel because he believes lies about them, the pernicious idea that “all you need is love” inevitably leads to an assault on truth and the death of the mind. Thus, Obama's rush to non-judgment about how much he respects the sovereignty of the Iranian government is rooted either in self-deception or outright lying. The most he could say about the evil murder of Neda Agha-Soltani was that it was "unjust." I know how he feels. The other day I unjustly received a parking ticket from the state.

We must only love and respect what is good or what is true, not what is false and indecent. To say “all you need is love” is to say that love is worthless, because it is incapable of discerning what is worthy of being loved. Yes, God is love. But love is not God, for God is also Truth, Judgment, Justice, and even Divine Wrath, and each of these is an important dimension of love.

Yes, there are saints and mystics who ascend so high that these distinctions disappear. But that path specifically involves an upward journey through the God-willed hierarchy, not an iconoclastic downward escape into egalitarian mush. (Speaking of multi-dimensional love, I like the way Mysteress Joan put it the other day, regarding our thankless attempt to lead a hapless young troll to the Light: "You can't really rip his throat out because he's too young to appreciate the gesture.")

We have both a celestial archetype and a worldly one, and it is critical to bear this difference in mind. When Adam fell, he fell from the celestial archetype of “man as such” and became “such and such a man,” as I have heard Schuon express it in a different context. He became a hardened “ego” as it were, closed off from the higher world. Now, an ego can be a prison or it can serve as a means of escape, largely depending upon the ego ideal.

Or perhaps we should draw a distinction between an “ego ideal” and a “celestial ideal.” An ego ideal helps us to discover our own relatively unique way of being who we are, our “soul fingerprint,” as it were. But the celestial ideal leads us back to our pre-fallen state. You might say that the ego ideal is the particular in the universal, while the celestial idea is the universal in the particular.

At some point -- if we are lucky -- we will graduate from being a mere individual (which is itself an accomplishment, since it is freedom lived) to being a “mode of the infinite.” And once that we have attained our precious individuality, we will have something of value to offer up to the divine. For a sacrifice is only worthy to the extent that it is of something valuable.

And here we return to the hierarchy of being and the importance of “being somebody before you can be nobody.” It matters not for an ant to sacrifice himself to the collective, because one ant is just like any other. For the same reason, I suppose it is easy to be a suicide bomber, because there is so little opportunity in the Islamic world to actually become who one is -- to achieve one's potential and be “somebody." So these worthless nobodies escape history “from below,” by blowing up the train and the tracks, and hope for the most worldly forms of egoic gratification in the afterlife. As our own left has everything backwards, the Islamists have it upside down.

Related @ American Thinker: "[T]he most moralistic president since Jimmy [Carter] is also a moral coward. Not surprising, is it? Moralizing is just another way of propping up one's ego. Morality is making the tough choices when life presents us with a clear choice between good and evil."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Stay Thirsty My Friends

And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. --Revelation 22:1

I think I might be going through Balthasar Withdrawal Syndrome. I immersed myself in his world for so long (over six months of nothing but), that I'm not sure how it all relates to me. I suppose it's the same with any addiction. They say that one of the difficulties of sobering up is that one has to become reacquainted with oneself. Only then do you realize why you drank in the first place: "Not him again. Get me a drink!"

In order to assimilate him into my substance, I must either become "bigger" than he is, or else somehow abstract his essence. But the latter is very difficult to do when the body of work is so vast. Then again, I suppose it's the same difficulty I'm having with myself vis-a-vis the arkive: how do I stand back and wrap my mind around myself?

It reminds me of James Brown's Super Bad, in which he sings, Good God / I jump back / I wanna kiss myself! How is that possible, unless one really is as super baaaaad as JB?

I also must admit that I've hit a bit of a speed bump with Ms. Adrienne. Remember, she was Balthasar's mystic friend who would go into a trance and dictate to him about various spiritual realities. Maybe it's just me, but I tried reading her commentary on the gospel of John, and found it rather... boring. Frankly, I gave up. I guess I'm having difficulty with the idea that someone can be granted an extraordinary charism by God, but the charism can be a little on the tedious side.

Again, it's probably just be me. Someone else might very well find it to be the most stimulating thing they've ever encountered. Come to think of it, it might just be a bhakti/jnani thing. Bhakti yoga primarily involves deeply felt love and adoration of God, whereas jnani joga is rooted more in intellection, wisdom, or sapiential knowledge. The latter is more geared toward fertile eggheads and free-range pneumanauts.

It's not that God has these divisions, but that people do, and it takes all kinds to make a world. Therefore, a full service religion has a little something for everyone. Furthermore, these divisions are eventually transcended within the path one chooses (or which chooses one). In other words, one discovers that knowledge is ultimately rooted in love and communion, while love is its own kind of unitive knowledge.

This would explain why von Speyr doesn't speak directly to me, whereas Schuon, for example, does. He strikes me as the quintessential jnani, even though he clearly had his devotional side. Indeed, he was fundamentally a man of prayer, in that it is always apparent that he is "thinking on his knees." He's not just thinking "about" God, but in God.

I have this compulsion to reconnect with Schuon as a sort of palate cleanser. He is always compact and pithy, but his pithiest book is no doubt Echoes of Perennial Wisdom. Even the title is refreshing: ah, Echoes of Perennial Wisdom. An O-asis of spiritual waters.

Let's take a little drink, shall we? Page 3: "The world scatters us, and the ego compresses us; God gives us recollection and dilates us, He gives us peace and delivers us." Ah, refreshing.

Page 5: "The greatest calamity is the loss of the center and the abandonment of the soul to the caprices of the periphery. To be man is to be at the center; it is to be the center."

But of course, one cannot be the center unless one is connected to the Center, either through love, or wisdom, or prayer, or contemplation, or works. Love is movement, wisdom is movement, movement toward the immobile center. It is (¶) pulled into the attractor of O, which is accompanied by (n) boiling over from O. Yes, "One must be in love with pure Being, which is beyond action and beyond thought."

P. 12: "When God is removed from the universe, it becomes a desert of rocks or ice; it is deprived of life and warmth.... if reality were made of rocks, there would be no place in it for flowers or any beauty or sweetness whatsoever. Similarly for the soul: remove faith -- including that element of faith that forms part of gnosis -- and the soul becomes impoverished, chilled, rigid, and embittered, or it falls into a hedonism unworthy of the human state; moreover, the one does not preclude the other, for blind passions always overlay a heart of ice, in short, a heart that is 'dead.'"

So stay thirsty my friends. (And HT Will for the Dos Equis reference.)

Monday, June 22, 2009

¿ Hurtling Toward History's Denoument ?

One result of rummaging around the arkive is that I have no compulsion to write anything new. Rather, the opposite: I'm attempting to unwrite much of what I've written. I'm hoping that by deleting the clunkers and repeats, I can get it down from over 1,300 posts to more like 1,000. That seems like a more manageable figure. Even though it's not.

It hasn't been difficult to delete a lot of the early posts from 2005. This is because they aren't really in my true voice, which didn't fully come on line until early 2006. Plus, I don't have to worry about deleting comments, since there weren't many.

In a comment yesterday, I speculated that the new Gallup numbers (Rasmussen too) suggest that Obama has entered the "cracking stage" of his presidency. If so, we are in for an exceedingly bumpy ride, as his magical aura crumbles and people's primitive anxiety starts to become unhinged (or "uncontained," to use the technical term).

Thus far, Obama has only aggravated all of the problems that got him elected. As that reality begins to sink in, the effect will be analogous to suddenly weening someone from a powerful anti-anxiety medication. Psychiatric drugs can have subtle effects. Only when someone discontinues a drug do they realize all it was doing. And Obama was a particularly potent intoxicant. The withdrawal effects will be significant.

Anyway, here is a post from last January that goes into the dynamics of the four part presidential cycle of strong --> cracking --> collapse --> sacrifice. Is deMause correct about this cycle? I don't know. But I don't really want to be here when it happens.

It also reminds me of Terence McKenna's crackpot theory of the cosmic timewave, which is scheduled to end in December 2012. He said that in the years immediately leading up to then, history would be compressed into a kind of singularity. It would be as if all of human history would be collapsed to point, and replayed in a matter of months.

Looked at in this way, what we are seeing in Iran is an archetypal replay of a story that has been enacted numberless times in the past, only in an exquisitely pure form. The evil of the mullahs is about as pure as it gets -- if "purity" is the right word. Likewise, the cluelessness of Obama -- cleansed of any particles of truth or light by his postmodern indoctrination -- is as pure as Neville Chamberlain's or Jimmy Carter's. Not a good combination.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Progressive Personality Disorder

Still wading through the early days of the blog, and not finding much that sets my thigh a-tinglin'. However, as a general rule, the posts that I regard as mere trifles generate the most traffic. It seems that people come for the insultainment but never stay for the laughty revelations.

The following post is a case in point. According to my site meter, hardly a day goes by that someone doesn't find their way to it. It also occasioned our very first persistent troll, L.A. Larry, and a record number of comments at the time, the majority of which were deleted. Back then, I was naive enough to think that the best way to deal with a troll was to engage them, which only results in repetition compulsion, AKA the Eternal Return of the troll's weird fixations and willful disunderstanding. Yes, the cause of trolls is paying attention to them, as you will learn today.

I just clicked through from one of Larry's comments to his now abandoned blog, and his last posts from 2006 indicate that he was obsessing over telephone surveillance of terrorists and the omnipotence of Karl Rove. Something tells me he's not currently obsessing over telephone surveillance of terrorists and the omnipotence of David Axelrod.

*****

The following is based on a perceptive post by someone named John Moore, which I found through a link to a link on Dr. Sanity's grand rounds of the psychosphere.

It looks as if it were hastily composed in a manic burst of inspiration, but it's so accurate that it deserves wider dissemination. I've taken the liberty of cleaning it up, editing it, adding a number of criteria, and putting it in the actual format of the DSM (the diagnostic manual for mental health practitioners).

I've also taken the additional liberty of altering the name of the condition, from his "Cognitive Disorder of Progressives" to "Progressive Personality Disorder." This is because Moore's nomenclature implies that this is an Axis I condition. These disorders generally involve a short-term change in functioning, such as a time-limited anxiety or depressive disorder. In short, Axis I conditions usually involve temporary states, whereas Axis II conditions involve quasi-permanent traits.

Axis II is primarily reserved for the Personality Disorders, which are much more difficult to treat, as they involve enduring patterns of maladaptive thought, behavior or emotion that lead to either significant functional impairment or subjective distress -- for example, Paranoid, Narcissistic, or Borderline Personality Disorders. When a person suffers from a personality disorder, much of their condition involves acting out in the world rather than harboring internal "neurotic" conflict within oneself.

As often as not, the person with a personality disorder causes as much or more pain and difficulty for those around them than they do for themselves. Furthermore, it is fair to say that most people with a personality disorder don't ever recognize that they have one. When they come in for treatment, it is usually for some ancillary problem that is caused by the personality disorder, such as difficulty forming stable relationships, identity disturbance, poor self esteem, impulsivity (e.g., with regard to sex, drugs, spending, etc.), sexual identity confusion, meaninglessness, depression, etc.

Ultimately their problem doesn't revolve around the "content" of their mind so much as its very structure. Typically, an individual with a personality disorder has damaged psychological structure as a result of early childhood experience. And the damaged structure typically takes the form of inability to auto-regulate in one or more areas, such as emotion, self-esteem, impulse control, mood, or identity. Rather than treat their condition, such a person may demand that it be regarded as "normal," and that people adapt to them.

For example, in California, it is against the law to discriminate against men who want to pretend they are women, which means that the state forces us to accept the abnormal as normal, the perverse as healthy, and to propagate this lie to our children. But anyone who thinks it is appropriate to expose children to such perversity shouldn't be allowed around children, let alone run the educational establishment

But personality disorders virtually always involve inducting others into the patient's psychodrama as an intrinsic part of their condition. Therefore, politics is the ideal forum for anyone with a personality disorder. In the field of politics, such individuals are given sanction to act out various conflicts in an entirely insight-free way -- indeed, as an alternative to insight. Remember, their mission is to force others to regard their abnormality as normal, e.g., the intrinsic absurdity of "homosexual marriage."

Politics truly is a sort of show business for the unattractive -- the psychologically unattractive. And you can well understand why the Democrat party would attract such people, because unlike conservatism, it does not mainly consist of ideas but of promises made to various constituencies of dysfunctional losers, weirdos, cranks, misfits, and malcontents. It is the party of the Unhappy who imagine that the state can make them happy.

But obviously it never works. Rather, because that breast doesn't actually produce milk, it only provokes more greed and envy toward the breast. So it is no surprise that Obama is in the process of creating the largest breast that has ever existed. But if it actually succeeds in appeasing the hungry mouths of the left, I promise to stop blogging forever.

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DSM-IV 301.95 PROGRESSIVE PERSONALITY DISORDER

A. A pervasive pattern of progressive political thought and action, rooted in discredited leftist (neo-Marxist) beliefs, beginning in early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by at least five of the following (individual must be at least 18 years of age to qualify for the diagnosis of Progressive Personality Disorder, as many of the criteria are age-appropriate for adolescents):

1. Utopian thinking: A delusional belief that there exist simple, linear, side effect-free solutions to all social problems. (Note to clinician: please differentiate between mere historical ignorance, e.g., a doctorate in history from an elite university, vs. psychotic delusions of grandeur or adequacy.)

2. Anthroplastic ideation: The delusion that behavioral conditioning performed by the government or some other collective will cure all behavioral and social problems, rooted in denial of fixed human nature. Implicit in this delusion is the idea that human beings are infinitely malleable and subject to behavioral manipulation leading to perfect control and predictability. Free will, personal conscience, and objective morality are denied, devalued or denigrated.

3. Anti-theistic rebellion: An emotional antagonism to the Judeo-Christian tradition, rooted in an abnormal persistence of adolescent rebellion (may also be related to the need to avoid counter-arguments that would question utopian, anthroplastic ideation). This behavior ranges from a mere antagonism to Christianity to a hatred of all forms of religion. The rejection of religion leads to a deep longing for a messiah and master. (Generally the more Western a religion is, the more it is despised. Thus, these patients may openly accept more primitive pantheistic, neo-pagan, or animist belief systems, such as Wicca or fraudulent "new age" philosophies, e.g., Deepak Chopra, Tony Robbins, etc.)

4. Naturist delusion: The belief that mankind is evil and nature is benign. The incidence of this symptom is inversely related to practical knowledge and experience of nature. Collective self-hatred is a feature in this area, paradoxically existing side by side with egomaniacal omniscience, e.g., ability to accurately predict weather 100 years into the future. Typical thinking includes the paranoid belief that mankind is a cancer on earth and that the planet (subjectively felt as a "feeling being") will "retaliate." The naturist delusion includes considerable cognitive dissonance, since the typical Progressive Personality is a believer in natural selection, which has resulted in untold suffering and cruelty, mitigated only by mankind's presence.

5. Environmental spasm: Chaotic, unreasonable, or incoherent episodes of manic activity on behalf of the environment or "mother nature." The delusional nature of this activity is evidenced by the misanthropic attacks on all works of man, and also by the manic focus on visible or totemic biological objects of little actual worth. The patient is typically obsessed only with cute or cuddly creatures, often a displacement of the nurturing urge (which is not infrequently unfulfilled due to abortion). Such patients may show more concern for the President swatting an insect than waving aside the concerns of millions of human beings living under tyranny and crying out for help.

6. Control obsession: The tendency to strive for excessive control over others through state intrusion. A contemptuous projection of the unconscious oral envy into anonymous others (the mythic "little guy"), which is subjectively experienced as "compassion." Through the magic of this unconscious mechanism, the very people who want the state to appropriate your wealth can imagine themselves to be generous and "compassionate," irrespective of how they actually treat real human beings.

7. Racist/feminist hypocrisy: Passionate advocating of government-enforced discrimination based on sex or race, while aggressively proclaiming opposition to policies which are "racist" or "sexist." Obsession with conformity of thought within a racially diverse population. For example, such a person might favor seating a racist on the Supreme Court, so long as the person is of the "correct" race.

8. Overemotional perception: Excessive concern with how a social action "looks" or "feels," to the exclusion of actual effects in the real world, in particular, any effects beyond the immediate. Resistance to, and denial of, objective evidence proving the adverse consequences of progressive policy. Superficial cognition about most matters of significant import, as the progressive personality relies on the "feel" of issues rather than truly understanding them. Obsession with "fairness" or "social justice" as opposed to what actually works.

9. Sexual dysfunction: Significant anxiety about sexual matters, manifested as:

a. Obsession with sexual and gender roles.

b. Passionate celebration of nontraditional sex roles and preferences.

c. The compulsion to define individuals by their "sexual preference" and to design social policy as if all individuals share the obsession.

d. An inordinate interest in preserving inappropriate, lewd, perverse, or antisocial forms of sexual expression.

e. Fascination with immature or deviant expressions of sexuality; reduction of human sexuality to animal sexuality.

10. Replacement of patriotism with matriotism: Unwillingness to defend country when attacked or threatened. Allied with inability to name or recognize evil. General devaluation of the masculine virtues.

11. Cultural and moral relativism: The fervent belief that all cultures are beautiful except one's own, and that it is immoral to judge another's morality unless they are conservative.

12. The belief that an eagle egg or four-toed salamander is entitled to more legal protection than a human baby.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Live Reports From the Leading Edge of History

via Twitter.

This song was written in the wake of the Soviet clampdown on Czechoslovakia in 1968. Here comes the new old man, same as the old old man:




Shamelessly lifted from Ace of Spades:

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Spiritual Missions, Double Destinies, and the Articulation of the True Self

One reader mentioned that he was grateful for my delving into the arkive, as it will give him the opportunity to catch up. A lot of later material is based upon assumptions laid out in earlier posts, for example, this one, in which I discuss the nature of the Self. (I capitalize the nonlocal Self in order to distinguish it from the local ego.)

Again, nothing new here, but it does give me the opportunity to add some new material about the nature of synchronicity, destiny, and the "dual mission" of vons Balthasar and Speyr. In such a case, one person's destiny is entirely intertwined with the other's, even before either realizes it. And when they do recognize one another, it is like an electrical arc that completes the circuit. ZAP! (And one reason this is so interesting to me is that their story has eery parallels with that of Sri Aurobindo and Mirra Richard, another two-headed feast.)

****

Humans are in an odd situation. That is, we are born with what I believe is a true Self. And yet, this Self must be actualized in time. In short, the Self is both a priori and something that must be worked on and discovered. In other words, the task of our life's journey is to paradoxically become who we already are. More ominously, it is entirely possible -- in fact, more likely than not -- for us to spend our lives being or becoming something we aren't. How strange is that? And yet, it is so. A truism, really.

This brings up the interesting question of where our true Self is when we aren't identified with it. That is, it must be "somewhere." While we can get lost, it never is. No matter how much someone messes up their life, they can almost always make their way back to their Self. The Alcoholics Anonymous program is a case in point. They specialize in taking the most lost souls and often helping them reconnect with their true selves.

The reason I think that AA works for people is that its founders happened to stumble upon what I believe are universal psycho-spiritual principles, such as believing in a Power greater than oneself, surrendering one's life to that Power, being ruthlessly honest with oneself, working to maintain contact with the higher Power, carrying the spiritual message to others, etc. These principles are as objectively true as any law of physics.

Chaos theory has developed the idea of attractors that govern complex systems. According to this theory, systems that may look chaotic to us are actually "pulled" into certain patterns that seem to be located outside space and time, almost like Platonic forms. About 15 years ago I published a paper on how the mind itself may be thought of as a multidimensional topology with various attractors pulling us this way and that.

For example, think of a person with bipolar disorder, which involves very wide mood swings between mania and depression. For these individuals, it is as if the space of the mind has two large valleys drawing them back and forth. Likewise, a neurotic symptom, like an obsession or compulsion, exists in a type of phase space known as a "limit cycle" that repeats itself endlessly without getting anywhere. Ideologies can be like this as well. They give a spurious sense of freedom, when in reality the person is as hemmed in as a pig in a sty. And thanks to political correctness, all the fences are electrified. Soon enough the tenured or MSM pig learns not to go near them.

The idea of the Self existing in a complex phase space is well described by the psychoanalyst Christopher Bollas. At birth, he says, we are "equipped with a unique idiom of psychic organization that constitutes the core of our self" (Raccoons call it our "divine clueprint"). However, various exigencies in development mean that only parts of that core will be potentiated, which leaves "a substantial part of our self known (profoundly us) and yet unthought."

Bollas does not specifically address the question of where these parts of the self might be before they have been experienced, but one can imagine a complex psychic landscape with various unexplored areas corresponding to these unlived selves, or the what he calls the realm of the "unthought known." (Bion referred to them as the "unborns," which implies that abortion is not only a physical threat.)

In hindsight, it can often look like sheer happenstance that resulted in the birth of one's Self, and one question I often ask myself is to what extent the Self is able to unconsciously bring about the conditions it requires in order to be born. In other words, events that look like pure luck may have been "inside jobs." (As the rabbis say, God spends most of his time arranging meetings and marriages.)

I think that a particularly strong Self can be like the tiny seed that finds a way to break through the concrete sidewalk above. Nothing can stop it from achieving its destiny. Other seeds don't even try. In fact, one of the most baleful effects of leftism is that it preaches that the seed doesn't really exist and that it can't grow anyway without government fertilizer, which is made of only the purest bullshit.

Bollas also discusses how these "basins of attraction" operate, although he doesn't use that phrase. He states, for example, that early childhood trauma may "nucleate into an increasingly sophisticated internal complex" where later "resonant trauma" are pulled in. I have personally treated many cases of psychological trauma, in which the present trauma -- say, being held up at gun point -- seems to "pull" the individual into the attractor of their earlier trauma, conflating the two.

In fact, it is fair to say that dealing with these kinds of attractors is the stock-in-trade of the psychotherapist. A man's wife gets pulled into the psychic attractor of his controlling mother, so he is no longer sexually attracted to her. A narcissist has no stable "basin" of self esteem, so he compulsively looks for it in mirroring from others outside himself. Another uses crystal meth to lift himself out of a "dead" attractor, like a ship stuck in the doldrums and looking for a little chemical wind. Another tries vainly to fill his bottomless attractor of Nameless Dread with the figure of George Bush.

But there are also positive attractor states where creativity and meaning coalesce, and which we struggle to apprehend. Bollas: "One would feel this as a kind of familiar force of psychic gravity attracting ideas, questions, and play work..." In fact, I felt these kinds of attractors very strongly in writing my book, and have come to believe that one of the reasons why religion "works" is that it lures us toward higher attractor states by "submitting" or "surrendering" to their benign influence. Frankly, my book went into a lot of areas that I didn't necessarily know that much about when I started it. But by focussing very intently, in an open-ended way, on certain problems (sometimes for years), the answers would eventually come to me.

I don't know how far you want to extend the metaphor, but there is no question that the intensity of some of these attractors was not limited to my own mind. This is what C.G. Jung called "synchronicity," and I openly acknowledge its functioning in my life. I won't get into exactly why or how I think synchronicity works, but I have no doubt that "meaningful coincidences" do occur, and that they have something to do with nonlocal attractors where two separate events -- or even people -- are actually conjoined in a higher dimension.

The physicist David Bohm illustrated how this might work with a thought experiment. Imagine a standard rectangular fish tank containing a fish. There are two video cameras viewing the tank through sides that are at right angles to one another. The resulting images are are projected onto two separate TV screens in another room. It will become immediately clear that there is some correlation between the two fish, for as one moves, so does the other. The scientific impulse is to look for some kind of causal connection between the two of them. But as Bohm points out, the images on the two screens are actually two-dimensional projections of a three-dimensional reality. While they appear separate, they are in fact unified -- two versions of the same event -- at a higher dimension.

Now just imagine two four-dimensional lives unified on a fifth.

Example.

Last night I was reading some of the background of how Balthasar and von Speyr eventually came together and realized their dual mission. They met in 1940, when she was 38 and he was 35. And yet, it was as if they had been "connected" prior to that, pursuing the individual paths each required in order to complement one another for the sake of the Mission. Although this may challenge common sense, I am way beyond having any difficulty whatsoever accepting this cooncept.

In the book Our Task -- which is based on a symposium on von Speyr requested by Pope John Paul II -- Balthasar writes that there are not only individual spiritual missions -- which is obvious -- but also "double missions" which "complement each other like 'the two halves of the moon.'" "The individuals concerned are first led along a complicated path, which was necessary to get them finally into the right kind of teamwork."

Balthasar cites a number of previous prominent examples in Catholicism, e.g., St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa. But what is particularly interesting to me is that some of the language he uses sounds as if it could have been written by Sri Aurobindo or Mirra Richard. It is that similar. Just as Mirra "recognized" Sri Aurobindo as her missing half the moment she laid eyes on him, so too did von Speyr instantly recognize Balthasar. Here is how HvB describes it: "When she saw me for the first time in 1940, she knew that I was the one for whom she had been waiting and for whose sake she had received the wound" (referring to a stigmata in the area of her heart).

In the case of Mirra, she had had repeated visions of a being whom she came to call "Krishna," even though she knew little of Indian philosophies at the time. "[H]enceforth I was aware that it was with him (whom I knew I should meet on earth some day) that the divine work was to be done... As soon as I saw Sri Aurobindo I recognized in him the well-known being whom I used to call Krishna."

And apparently there can be missions involving the coming together of more than two for the sake of a mission. One thinks immediately of the twelve apostles. Mirra was once asked about this during one of her weekly talks in 1929. I've certainly experienced stranger things: "We are of one family and have worked through the ages for the victory of the Divine and its manifestation on earth." I suppose this is why I am much closer to, say, Meister Eckhart, than to my own brothers, and feel very much as if we share the same mission. For the mission is the "transcendent third" that two people love and which unifies them below. In that realm, 700 years is but a fleeting moment.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Explaining the Cognitive Barbarism of the Proglodyte Left

Nothing special here, just a synthesis of two related posts from the early days. They're based on Stephen Hicks' indispensable Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault, which has remained on my list of foundational raccoomendations in the sidebar ever since. He does such a wonderful job of cutting through the abject BS of postmodern philosophy, that it should be required reading for any child about to place his soul in mortal danger by entering the looniversity bin. (As Dennis Prager has said, there are two main reasons why people are so stupid: television and college.)

The book takes on added importance in light of the fact that Obama is our first postmodern president. You or I might think that he is an uneducated, ahistorical buffoon, but in reality he is simply accurately regurgitating what he learned in college. This is why he is so preposterously confident in his ignorance, because all of liberal academia has his back.

Near as I can tell, the transition from sober liberal education to intoxicating illiberal postmodernism reached a tippling point by about 1980 (probably before that at elite universities), and Obama obtained his BA from Columbia in 1983. Prior to 1980 it was still possible to escape the university relatively unscathed, but since then the nonsense of postmodernism has totally permeated academia. I can't think of anything that exceeds the cost-to-worthlessness ratio of a university education, being that it's not just worthless, i.e., neutral, but exceedingly harmful. Therefore, to be fair, universities should pay us to attend them.

So when Obama apologizes for America, or embraces cultural and moral relativism, or regurgitates discredited socialist economic theories, or expresses animus for Israel, or adopts the homosexual agenda, or passively accepts Iranian tyranny, or finds a spiritual home for his soul's envy and hatred in liberation theology, it's all of a piece.

My only critique of Hicks is that he seems to believe that there is a non-theological solution to the problem, which I do not believe. Rather, as I discuss below, postmodernism in all its varieties is simply the "final common pathway" of the rejection of the Absolute. Once you reject the Absolute, there is nothing to stop your philosophy from descending all the way to the bottom. And then crashing through, into the nether regions where man cannot survive as man. Rather, he must become something else in order to live in that environment. Ultimately he must become the image and likeness of this diabolic inversion, whatever you wish to call it. A Keith Olbermann or Bill Maher are perfect adaptations to the "minus pneumaspace" in which they live.

By the way, this review is not comprehensive, and should not replace actually reading the book. If I could add my blurb to the back of the book, I would say that it's a bracing philosophical disinfuckedup for the parasite-ridden assoul. Kills resistant postmodern mutations on contact!

*****

Surely you have wondered why the academic left is not just foolish, but completely out of touch with reality? In a mere 201 pages, author Stephen Hicks efficiently accomplishes exactly what is promised in the title of his book, Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault. Not only is there hardly a wasted sentence in the book, but Hicks writes in an exceptionally clear way about some rather difficult and abstruse thinkers and concepts. This itself is a crime against The Tenured, so I'm surprised he's allowed to teach at all. They don't allow many plain speaking hicks in academia.

I don’t want to put words in his mouth, but the purpose of Hicks’ book is clearly to answer the questions: What has happened to our universities? Why do the humanities departments of our elite universities teach such unalloyed leftist nonsense? In short, why is the left so bereft? Hicks makes the critical point that, if we were just dealing with generic nonsense, then we might expect about half of it to result in left wing nonsense, the other half in right wing nonsense. But practices such as deconstruction result in almost 100% left wing nonsense, meaning that, whatever theoretical or methodological cover these academics are taking behind their high-flown rhetoric, it’s all just a smokescreen for the promulgation of leftist ideas.

And that is exactly what Hicks concludes. He chronicles the utter failure of socialist ideas in the past three centuries, beginning with pre-Marxist leftists such as the odious paleofrog Rousseau. But the key figure in the descent into modern irrationalism and illiberal leftism was the figure of Immanuel Kant, for it was Kant who divided the world into phenomena (what is accessible to our senses and categories of thought) and noumena (the ultimate reality behind them). By closing off the noumenal reality to reason, Kant thought he had spared religion from the onslaught of scientific skepticism, when he had actually opened the door to all the baleful forms of irrationalism that followed. For in the Kantian system, all we can really know is our own nervous system -- reason and science merely toy with the phenomena, leaving the deeper reality unknown and unknowable. The next time some cliche-ridden boob says to you, “perception is reality,” know that they are a metaphysically retarded son or daughter of Kant.

As an aside, one can trace the history of philosophy in a pretty straight line from the ancient Greeks to Kant. But Kant represents the end of that line and its subsequent ramification into the many streams, creeks, crocks, drainage ditches and sewer lines that reach us today. Virtually every philosophy since Kant has been either a rational extension of his ideas (Schopenhaur, structuralism, phenomenology), an irrational exploration of his ideas (e.g., reality is absurd, we are impotent to know anything, feeling and instinct trump reason, the irrational yields more valid insights into reality, etc.), or attempts to undo his ideas (e.g., Hegel, who reunited noumena and phenomena in his notion of the Absolute Subject, and Hegel's upside-down disciple, Marx).

Postmodernism involves a smorgasbag of these various reactions to Kant. Ever wonder why leftists are so irrational and unreasonable? According to Hicks, postmodernism is “the first ruthlessly consistent statement of the consequences of rejecting reason.” This is why leftists routinely resort to ad hominem attacks, extreme hostility to dissent, speech codes, and authoritarian political correctness.

Ultimately, according to Hicks, postmodernism is “the academic left’s epistemological strategy for responding to the crisis caused by the failures of socialism in both theory and practice.” Ironically, they have an a priori and unfalsifiable belief in the moral superiority of socialism over capitalism. But since capitalism has repeatedly disproved every one of socialism’s predictions, postmodernism provides the “skeptical epistemology to justify the personal leap of faith necessary to continue believing in socialism.”

Ironically, Kant was trying to save traditional religion from being eroded by scientific skepticism, but his ideas are now used by the secular left to shield the false religion of socialism from rational scrutiny. The choice for leftists is simple: either follow the evidence and reject their utopian ideals, or hold to their beautiful ideals and undermine the notion that logic and evidence matter. Obviously they have chosen the latter course, which is why a casual stroll through the halls of academia, the idiotorial pages of the New York Times, or the darker corners of the internet reveals that language is no longer being used as a vehicle to understand reality, but a rhetorical club with which to beat opponents. In this context, “Bush bashing” can be seen as a completely impersonal and inevitable phenomenon, for if your only tool is a rhetorical hammer, you will treat everything as an ideological nail.

And this also explains the common observation that the left is devoid of constructive ideas, for without logic and evidence, leftism has been reduced to a knee-jerk critique of Western civilization. It is essentially irrational and nihilistic, because language for them is not about reality, but simply about more language. Therefore, language cannot build anything but illusions.

Moreover, this explains why the left is so incoherent and contradictory -- why, for example, all truth is relative but leftism is absolute, why all values are subjective but "homophobia" and American exceptionalism are evil, why tolerance is the highest ideal but political correctness is higher still, why discrimination is bad but the Wise Latina is good, etc. Leftism is simply an absolutism masquerading as a relativism, which is why they can never be honest about their true principles, at least within the mainstream. An honest leftist such as Dennis Kucinich could never be elected to national office. If Obama had been honest about what he intended to do as president, he would have lost in a landslide.

The only problem with Hicks’ book is that he stops short of explaining how to overcome what I call the intrinsic logopathologies of the left. This is because he appears to be an objectivist or secular libertarian, and seems vaguely hostile to religion (and one cannot blame him for this if he has only been exposed to irrational religion). In reality, there is no defense against these destructive ideas within the bounds of common reason -- as soon as you descend into mere reason, you have already given the game away, for there is almost nothing the human mind can prove that it cannot equally disprove, or at least cast doubt upon.

***

In our last post, we were discussing the unfortunate philosophical consequences that followed in the wake of Kant's division of the world into phenomena (the small world we pretend to know) and noumena (the larger world we can never know). For Kant, there was no way to escape our nervous system and "get at" the world, so to speak. As a result, to paraphrase Alfred North Whitehead, we end up with conjecture on one side, a dream on the other. Or you could say that we are bequeathed an unavoidably irrational world mirrored by a parallel looniverse known as the academic left.

But in truth, any such "bifurcationist" strategy that tries to horizontally divide one part of the world over and against another part will end in paradox and absurdity. For example, Whitehead noted that Cartesian dualism had resulted in "a complete muddle in scientific thought, in philosophic cosmology, and in epistemology." Not for nothing has modern philosophy been called "error on a grandiose scale," or "a route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing."

As the Jesuit philosopher of science Stanley Jaki explains it, philosophers are forever trying to get to second base before they have touched first. Baseballically speaking, they start their analysis at second, but have no philosophy that can justify or explain how they have gotten there. For the presupposition of any philosophy is the belief that man can know truth, that he can encode this truth and place it in an object (for example, a book), and that this object can in turn cause a miraculous thing called understanding in the consciousness of another. Therefore, the first duty of a philosopher is to endorse the idea that knowledge may be embodied in objects and cause understanding in subjects.

One may well ask, "What in the philosophy of deconstruction justifies such a process?" For speaking and writing the nonsense of deconstruction presupposes a reality that, whatever else it may be, is capable of encoding information and transmitting objective understanding from one mind to another. How is this possible? No purely materialistic philosophy can explain why objects are intelligible, any more than idealist philosophies can explain how ideas are embodied in objects.

Rather than beginning with the division of the world into phenomena and noumena or mind and matter, traditional metaphysics begins with the division between time and eternity (eternity understood not as time everlasting but timelessness). It affirms a hierarchical order of the cosmos, in which the corporeal domain is considered only the lowest tier, outer shell, or "epidermis." The cosmos is regarded as a theophany infused with a logos from which it can never be separated, so that the visible and tangible things that unfold in time are a reflection of the atemporal realm "above."

Similarly, human beings are not considered ancillary to a hostile or indifferent cosmos, but central to its structure and purpose. Man is a microcosmos that contains the same blueprint as the macrocosmos. It is because we are a microcosm that we are able to so unproblematically know -- we are able to know the cosmos because it preexists in us. True, human knowing is a miracle, but outside the explanatory paradigm of traditional metaphysics, it is an impossible miracle that no postmodern philosophy can explain. The bottom line is that the soul is not in the cosmos; rather, the cosmos is in the soul.

In the traditional view, the horizontal division of mind and matter (or phenomena/noumena) that results in paradox and absurdity is eliminated. However, there are vertical divisions that reveal a hierarchy of ontological degrees of reality, and corresponding ways to know them. There is not a tiny phenomenal world that we can know, surrounded by a limitless noumenal world that we can never know.

Rather, we begin with the lowest level of being, material reality, which corresponds to our empirical, rational, scientific methods of exploring and describing it. True, there are degrees of understanding, but the process is much more analogous to comprehending a great work of art, say, one of Beethoven's symphonies. While the symphony will yield much deeper insights to the trained ear, that doesn't mean that the symphony available to our senses is simply the audible aspect of a noumenal symphony that we can never hear.

What Kant called the noumena -- the greater unKnown reality -- is not behind but above. It is accessible to humans, but only through the proper means. Because the human intellect derives its light from the divine intellect, truth is bonded and underwritten by our nonlocal Sponsor. While it is true that all knowledge is in some sense participatory, that doesn't mean that knowledge is merely subjective -- again, ours is an objective, hierarchical world susceptible to degrees of knowing. Knower and known are not divided but unified in the act of participatory knowing, so that the known universe is the universe.

By ridding ourselves of dualism and returning to the real world, the cosmos is no longer reduced to an incomprehensible and absurd material flatland devoid of intrinsic meaning. Truth may be known because man was made to know it. In fact, if someone tells you otherwise, you might ask them exactly what in their philosophy permits them to doubt our assertion? For their philosophy presupposes what it cannot justify: knowledge of truth and reality.

And if you really want to irritate them, you can tell them that, In the Chronological, Ontological, and Epistemological Beginning was (and is) the Word. That is, antecedent to anything else that might be said about the cosmos, it must fundamentally be composed of things capable of referring to other things, of things that point beyond themselves and convey messages and meanings.

Even on a strictly mathematical basis, the fact is, quality must precede quantity, because ordering anything means that there must be a system whereby something can stand for, or refer to, something else. What are the beautiful equations that govern the Big Bang but beautiful words dwelling in matter, words spoken 13 billion years ago that we can unpack from matter and clearly hear and understand today?

Postmodernism offers only a factitious liberation from traditional ways of knowing the world. There is no way to get around the principle that the world is intelligible and that the mind is capable of knowing it (and why would you want to?!). Once this is understood, it becomes clear that human consciousness is intrinsically related to the totality of being in a way that belies any postmodern superstition. There is a source of truth antecedent to man that is perceived not by the senses, but by the intellect.

Hey, getting an elite university education is so easy, even a four year-old can do it! Just learn how to piss all over on Western civilization in the sandbox of academia:

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.