Saturday, July 11, 2009

Timelessness Takes Time

In selecting something to rewordgitate from two years back, I chose the one with the fewest comments. Of course, this potentially cuts both ways, for perhaps the absence of comments was a polite way of saying I shouldn't have reposted it the first time.

However, just by cooncidence, it touches on a bobjection raised by yesterday's dyspeptic troll, to the effect that there is no way to reconcile evolution and Christianity, and that any attempt to do so should induce vomiting in the faithful.

For the traditionalist, this is an a priori argument, in that there is no amount of evidence that can convince them that evolution has taken place. Their argument is "principial," in that they would essentially say that the greater cannot be derived from the lesser, whatever the empirical evidence.

I fully agree that the greater cannot be derived from the lesser. And yet, lower things routinely precede higher ones. For example, I can't help noticing that my son no longer fits into his test tube. But does this mean that the embryo produced the four year old -- who just woke up -- excuse me...

Back. So, contained within the DNA is a kind of arrow pointing toward its own destiny. Therefore, in some way that transcends the usual categories of biology, the future is "contained" in the present, since the organism always "strives" toward its own future.

In fact, one could say the exact same thing of the self. One of the central "streams" -- or timelines -- of spiritual development involves the discovery and articulation of the true self. Here again, your future is present to you, but must be actualized in time. You might say that time is the measure of the distance between you and your true self. Call it whatever you want, but this is an evolution, which literally means to "unroll," like an ancient scroll. Darwinians just appropriated and redefined this venerable word to make it synonymous with natural selection.

So, is the cosmos an unrolling play? Or is it a fixed game?

Anyway, on to the post....

So, is it possible to reconcile Christianity with the type of evolutionary cosmos envisioned by Sri Aurobindo?

Obviously, religion must have a context, or matrix. While the religious message is absolute, its cultural container is necessarily going to be relative. What makes it tricky for Christianity is that its "absolute message" is actually extended in time -- it is a story that continues to unfold in history. In other words, unlike, say, Vedanta, Taoism, or Buddhism, Christianity is intrinsically historical, which I believe offers us a clue right away as to its evolutionary nature.

As Wright explains [I just happened to be reading this book at the time; I don't recommend it], Jesus' appearance is the climax of a long story through which "a great door has swung open in the cosmos which can never again be shut. It's the door to the prison where we've been kept chained up. We are offered freedom: freedom to experience God's rescue for ourselves, to go through the open door and explore the new world to which we now have access."

So, Christianity is fundamentally about a hole in the fabric of spacetime, through which certain "healing" energies flow: a hole into wholeness. In one sense, the creation of this hole is the end of the story: it is accomplished. But in another sense, it is only the beginning. The beginning of what?

Again, according to Wright, Jesus central proclamation was that the kingdom of God is at hand. At the time, people had certain ideas about what he meant by this, but they all turned out to be wrong. Obviously, many interpreted it in terms of traditional Jewish prophecy, of God restoring Israel and smiting her enemies. But "the whole point of Jesus' work was to bring heaven to earth and join them together forever, to bring God's future into the present and make it stick there" (emphasis mine).

Furthermore, the Holy Spirit is given so that "we ordinary mortals can become, in a measure, what Jesus himself was: part of God's future arriving in the present; a place where heaven and earth meet; the means of God's kingdom going ahead" (emphasis mine).

The Spirit is given so that we might "share in the life and continuing work of Jesus himself," and "to begin the work of making God's future real in the present." This Spirit "comes to us from that new world, the world waiting to be born," so that to live as a Christian is "to live by the rules of God's future world, even as we are continuing to live within the present one." Which is why Paul "speaks of the Spirit as the guarantee or down-payment of what is to come." He actually uses the Greek word for "engagement ring," as "a sign in the present for what is to come in the future."

Now then. We have several arresting ideas from the heart of Christianity through which we may look at the cosmos in evolutionary terms, as an unfolding drama of union with the creator -- or what I call cosmotheosis -- and of bringing the future into the present. Recall what I said above about my son's development. Is it the present moving into the future? Or is it, more mysteriously, the future drawing the present toward it -- or "reaching" down and back, like a reverse arrow of time?

There are two ways we can look at evolution: the secular way and the religious Way. It has always been understood that the secular way actually makes no philosophical or metaphysical sense, being that the greater cannot be derived from the lesser -- let alone something of the magnitude of the human subject. So, what are we doing here? The human subject is so superior to the physical cosmos that the gap between them is infinite.

As a matter of fact, it seems that the cosmos is hardly worthy of our being here. On the one hand this is a great source of existential pain and bewilderment, but on the other hand, perhaps it provides a clue into the true order of things. For as Schuon has written, "One of the keys to the understanding of our true nature and of our ultimate destiny is the fact that the things of this world never measure up to the real range of our intelligence":

The first ascertainment which should impose itself upon man when he reflects on the nature of the Universe is the primacy of that miracle that is intelligence -- or consciousness or subjectivity -- and consequently the incommensurability between these and material objects, be it a question of a grain of sand or of the sun, or of any creature whatever as an object of the senses.

The secular way of looking at evolution involves an arrow of time that moves only in the direction past --> future. Furthermore, the second law of thermodynamics maintains that the entire cosmos is "winding down," so to speak, although it does allow for local areas to temporarily violate the law. Thus, Life itself is a kind of cosmic scofflaw, but you can only be a fugitive from the law of averages for so long. Entropy prevails in the end. It's all ultimately meaningless and pointless.

At least according to the scientific view. The religious view maintains -- as implied by Wright's comments above -- that the ultimate source of our order is the future, not the past. Furthermore, there is an arrow of time that operates in the direction future --> present. That is, the divine future is ontologically real, and it is waiting to be born: in other words, timelessness takes time. Evolution is the means of God's kingdom going ahead and the work of making God's future real in the present.

On a personal level, Wright notes that "instead of being simply a part of the old [entropic] creation, a place of sorrow and injustice and ultimately the shame of death itself, you can both be a part of the new creation in advance and someone through whom it begins to happen here and now."

You may not be able to know the future, but you can be the future. For as Andrew Louth writes, "the central truth, or mystery, of the Christian faith is primarily not a matter of words, and therefore ultimately of ideas or concepts, but a matter of fact, or reality.... To be a Christian is not simply to believe something, to learn something, but to be something, to experience something."

I would say to become something, and thereby actualize your future.

To be continued....

Friday, July 10, 2009

Saving the World, One Assoul at a Time

I'd like to try to complete my thoughts on Sherrard before moving on. The last chapter is entitled The Renewal of the Tradition of Contemplative Spirituality, and I think the ideas it espouses are only critical to the future survival of mankind. Put it this way: only the United States can save the world. In turn, only a renewal of classical liberal conservatism can save the United States. But only Christianity can save conservative liberalism -- including from Republicans.

But what will save Christianity? It sounds odd to say it, but it seems that Christianity is as much in need of salvation as its adherents. After all, one routinely reads in the MSM that Barack Obama is a "committed Christian." As are Al Sharpton, Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, and Jimmy Carter. If that is the case, then there is obviously something wrong with Christianity -- or at least how it is commonly understood. There is something scandalous about a theology that is so elastic that people with polar opposite values can claim to adhere to it.

So we have to resolve that problem, and the best way to do so is to return to a more interior understanding of Christianity, as originally intended. Anyone can go through the motions and pretend to be Christian. But as John reminds us, one thing you can't hide is when you're crippled inside.

As mentioned a few posts back, Sherrard begins with the idea that "to know oneself may be said to be a condition of knowing God." But "if one cannot know God without knowing oneself, one also cannot know oneself without knowing God." Therefore, "to be ignorant of oneself is to fail to achieve an authentic human life." But equally, "to be ignorant of God is to fail to achieve an authentic human life."

Thus, we are far beyond -- or beneath or behind -- issues of dogma. Rather, we are into the realms of psychology, anthropology, and philosophy. But not for their own sake. Rather, each of these disciplines specifically bears on spirit. Detached from spirit -- from God -- they have absolutely no intrinsic meaning whatsoever. They are just mind games.

Even on secular grounds, how could one ever claim to understand "reality" without understanding the nature of the knower? Let's take the mundane example of the Darwinian fundamentalist who blindly insists that everything is reducible to the random copying errors of natural selection. Fine. But tell me now, who -- or what -- is speaking? What in your philosophy permits random error to result in this thing you call "truth"? And what is the relationship between truth and the copying error you claim to be?

As you can see, Darwinism results in an "impossible" psychology and therefore an impossible mankind. The problem is, it explains everything on one level at the cost of unexplaining -- destroying, really -- every autonomous level above it.

It's the same with Marxism in all its varieties, including the crypto-Marxism of Dear Leader. In explaining history, it unexplains psychology, economics, religion, and pretty much everything else. It results in a worthless man -- worthless to himself, to God, and to other men -- as history proves again and again. And if America cannot save the world from Marxism, we will have a world of worthless men -- either infrahuman or "all too human," depending upon how you look at it.

America's founders knew that man only derived his value by virtue of his relationship to the Absolute. This is a fine example of how metaphysics -- the eternal science -- is enfolded in religion. For to see -- and it is a seeing, not a mere "knowing" -- that men are endowed by their Creator with life and liberty is to affirm that life and liberty have an absolute and infinite value. They are "unalienable." Anything short of this makes our rights quite alienable indeed, meaning, among other things, that we can surrender them to liberals for cash and other valuable prizes.

But like it or not, man is "condemned to the Absolute," and with it, to the infinite and eternal. Our intrinsic rights are not to be understood in some postmodern ultra-individualistic manner, as if liberty -- or life, or truth, or beauty -- could ever be detached from its divine source. Rather, the Creator is the source and therefore end of our liberty. To fail to understand this is to not know what a Christian is or what an American is. Period. Anything short of this is a perversion of truth. Man is free because he is potentially Truth + Will, or "truth in action."

But truth is only possible in light of the Absolute. In the absence of the Absolute there is only relativity and therefore no freedom, only a kind of "eternal lostness" that the left conflates with freedom. Such a man has no right to exist, being that rights can only be grounded in the Absolute, and this grounding carries with it certain responsibilities. Or, one could say that he is "responsible for Nothing," the ontological nothingness in which he is situated.

Let's return to the principles enunciated in the first paragraph before this post spins out of control. If it is true that only Christianity can save conservative liberalism, only individual self-knowledge can save Christianity. In a certain paradoxical manner -- about which we will have more to say later -- only man can "save" God. After all, God cannot -- or will not -- force you to believe. And if one can only know God interiorly, it is ultimately the colonization of our own interior space that will "save the world."

I don't know if that last claim sounds extravagant, but I take it quite literally. For the analytically informed psychologist, it is simply a truism that what is not known will be acted out. Thus, the less personal insight one possesses, the more likely one is to act out one's mind parasites in a pathological, impulsive, aggressive, sexual, envious, greedy, and/or self-defeating manner. This is why the Raccoon credo is Saving the world, one assoul at a time. You, of course, are the assoul.

Well, that didn't get far. To be continued.....

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Piper's Calling You to Join Him On the Stairway to Help

No time to change the road I'm on. A heavy muddle of a post from one year back....

There is the external world, there are nervous systems, and there is the space in between. That’s it.

That ladder transitional space is where everything happens and where everything evolves (i.e., where evolution can know of and thereby transcend itself). Other animals do not live in this space, or barely so. Rather, they more or less live in their nervous systems, which are “designed” only to notice certain aspects of the environment -- those necessary for immediate survival (and survival of the physical graffiti of the genes).

The more primitive the animal, the more there tends to be a deterministic, one-to-one relationship between information and environment. This is pretty much to be a rock and not to roll, at least on one's own power. Lower animals obviously possess will, but not free will. Only man possesses will + intelligence, which is to say, freedom -- which marks the infinite distance between a potted Plant and a written Page.

With Homo sapiens, a sub-universe or microcosmos somehow opened up in the gap between world and neurology, which became the new virtual environment for humanness to take root. Here, for the first time, the forest echoes with laughter. Ho!

To a certain extent, the emergence of psychological space is analogous to the sudden appearance of biological life some 3.85 billion years ago, when the levee of cosmic evolution truly broke, and it had somewhere to go. Prior to that -- for the first 10 billion years or so -- the cosmos simply was what it was -- a single level reality apparently consisting only of exterior, material processes. There was nothing there to witness the meaningless pageant, no voices of those who stand looking, just a dark night populated by black dogs. There was quite literally no there there, since there was no particular point of view through which to look. There were only all places at once, even though there weren't actually any places. We can only know of the many things and places in hindsight. But there they were. And here they are. But how did I get here?

Prior to the emergence of life, there weren’t any qualities either, since every quality is in relation to a subject. As I noted in the Wholly Coonifesto, the cosmos obviously didn’t “look” like anything, since vision is a property of eyes. Physicists say it was very hot, but not really. Only in relationship to the cool and ironic physicists of the present day.

Nor was it large or small. It was just... a truly inconceivable nothing, for as Big Al Whitehead wrote, “apart from the experience of subjects, there is nothing, bare nothingness.” It almost makes one feel a bit dazed and confused, for however we think about or visualize this nothing, it’s just us projecting our ideas and images about it within the above-referenced transitional space. It is only within this transitional space that the cosmos can know itself, explore its qualities, and contemplate its own birth and even death. Without us, the stores would all be closed and we could never get what we came for. And yet, it makes me wonder...

The point is that, with the sudden emergence of life, the cosmos now had the makings of an inside, an entirely novel ontological category that cannot be accounted for by physics. Science can account for a lot of things, but one thing for which it can never account is the shocking presence of an inside, of a cosmic withinness, of an interior presence in the midst of what had only been an “exterior” up to the emergence of life.

Prior to that, the song had remained the same for billions of years -- the universe had no freedom, no destiny, no meaning beyond itself. But the appearance of life represents the dawn of all those modalities, the unimaginable opening of a window on the world and a stairway to heaven -- which, if you are not all but rendered insensate by scientolatry, should cause a little bustle in your hedgerow, to say the least.

We are all beneficiaries of that tiny window that cracked open almost four billion years ago, when some small part of the cosmos, instead of entropically dissipating into blind nothingness, wrapped around itself, bound up time and space, declared its independence, and went on being. In order to achieve this outrageous act, these whirling little dynamos -- cosmic heroes each and every one -- had to establish a continuous exchange with the “outside” in order to maintain their dancing days on the edge of nonbeing.

Of course, we don’t like to think about it, but for all of us, life is always that same little traveling catastrophe on the invisible border between being and nonbeing. We do what we can to tilt our spinning joyroscape toward the being side, but we can’t really resolve the tension, any more than we can slow down the rotation of the earth by digging in our heels. In order to be at all, we can only be in that fragile space between being and nonbeing, and hope that the piper will lead us to reason.

Or so it seems on first consideration, based only upon our natural reason. But surely you know that sometimes words have two meanings, and we have already established the fact that our natural reason can only go so far in explaining ourselves to oursophs. That is, we only pretend to understand what it means for the cosmos to have an inside that comprehends logic, just as we only pretend to understand what Life actually is.

A living inside. What could that mean? Isn’t that what we really want to know? What is this transitional space, this living inside that we all inhabit? In through this out door flows music, poetry, paintings, mathematical equations, jokes, dreams, and a whole lotta love -- and then it closes. But does the space disappear with it? Or is it somehow anterior to our entrance into it?

Perhaps that is the question. In one sense, there are some provocative signs on the wall, but we want to be sure. What is the nature of this space that we are privileged to enter and inhabit during our human journey from nothing to nowhere and back again? Because curiously, from the scientific (actually, scientistic) standpoint, this space shouldn’t contain any objective reality. At most, it can only be a fleeting secondary or derivative reality, like rings of smoke through the trees wafting up from the primary reality -- which is purely material. But if that were the case, how is it that the mental space we inhabit is in fact a realm of universal truths and values?

Let’s start with something basic, say the handful of mathematical equations that govern the character and evolution of the cosmos. Where are these equations, and where were they before there was even a cosmos for them to operate on? In short, where does mathematical truth reside? Maybe that’s too easy a question.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident.” Hold it right there, Tom -- don’t even go beyond that. When you say that these truths are self-evident, how do you know that? What an preposterous thing to say. What is the nature of the entity that supposedly knows, and what is the nature of the truth it alleggedly apprehends?

And yet, we know it. The uncorrupted intellect knows because it sees, not with eyes that evolved to transduce light waves into visual images, but with a transpersonal eye that was created to see primordial and Absolute truth. We can know these moral or artistic or scriptural truths just as clearly and absolutely as we can know any scientific truth. “Thou shall not murder” or “All men are created equal” are as clear to the transrational moral eye as 2 + 2 = 4 or "never throw a 3 and 2 curveball to the pitcher" are to the rational eye. In each of the above cases, the mind -- which by all rights should be subjective and conditioned -- is able to peer into the absolute and partake of its qualities.

The gulf between human beings and other animals is virtually infinite because of our ability to conceive of the absolute and to know eternal truth in light of it. In this regard, we truly are made in the image of the absolute and infinite One -- the Interior of the interior and its Houses of the Holy: the Truth of truth, Beauty of beauty, Being of being, Life of All, A Love Supreme, Om, now I remurmur! The cosmos is in the Self, not vice versa, for that is truly a truth that can notnot be, or we couldn't ether.


There are two paths you can go by
but in the long run
there's still time to change the road you're on


If you listen very hard
the tune will come to you at last
when all are one and one is all

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Say, What's God Like, Anyway?

From a couple years ago...

What kind of God is God? What's he like, anyway? I suppose that's an easy enough question to answer in 45 minutes.

But I think I'll evade the question head on, because one can only unswer it by questing indirectly. In this regard, it is very much analogous to psychoanalytic therapy. If you ask, "what is the unconscious like?," the question cannot be answered except in a theoretical way.

Rather, you must begin by free associating in the presence of another person called a "psychoanalyst," and the answer will gradually emerge in the space in between. In other words, you attempt to bypass the ego by saying whatever comes to mind in an uncensored way, through which the ghostly contours of your own unconscious will become apparent. In short, this hidden dimension will not stand out until you stand in it.

And you can never know it in its essence, only in its energies, as a gregory palamine might say. It is never revealed by speech, only reveiled. It's a little strange, because you can see by the shape of the veil what's underneath, but if you strip away the veil, it vanishes.

This is why Bion stopped using the word "unconscious," because it fooled us into believing we knew what it was just because we had a word for it. Rather, he called it "O," standing for the ultimate unknowable reality. In my book, I simply extended this idea to religion and spirituality, since the plain fact of the matter is that we have no idea what existence, life, or consciousness "are" in their essence. If you ask "what is life?," the only real answer is the life you are living. Likewise, if you ask "what is consciousness?," there is no answer outside consciousness itself. Nothing less than consciousness can explain consciousness, just as nothing less than your life can describe it.

In a way, each of my posts is a free association in O. Therefore, if you ask me "what's God like?," you would have to go back and read all of my posts, and who would want to do that? But now that I'm thinking about it, the analogy with psychoanalysis holds up, since I acknowledge up front that I am no theologian or any kind of special person with special knowledge.

Rather, I simply rise each morning and undergo the task of focusing a beam of intense darkness on O -- or, as Joyce put it, to shed a little obscurity on ultimate reality. It's almost like trying to paint an invisible subject, and in fact, I suppose I feel some kinship with the original abstract expressionists such as Kandinsky, who attempted to depict the implicate reality beneath reality -- or out of which -- explicate reality emerges, like the pulse beneath the rhythm.

Meister Eckhart, whom we were discussing yesterday, is among those bifocal visionaries who comes closest to myOpia. Bear in mind that much of what he wrote sounds shocking (it certainly was to the religious authorities of the time), but he is playing with language in a very modern way, trying to provoke an experience in O through such techniques as paradox, oxymoron, hyperbole, word games, puns, and negation.

As McGinn writes [BTW, I see that that book has become rather expensive; much of the same material is summarized here], Eckhart was attempting to use language to overcome language -- or "to confuse in order to enlighten" -- an idea Bion would have endorsed. He saw "the very act of preaching as creation of the word to be heard by others so that they too may find the source from whence the word is formed mirrors the 'event character' of the God-world relation." In short, Eckhart's sermons and writings are the essence of O-->(n), not for the purposes of conveying mere information (k) to the reader, but to simulate the same experience in oneself. [This is also the essence of Orthodox theology as laid down by the thrice great Gregory Palamas, which we will soon be discussing.]

McGinn continues: "But the preacher cannot really convey the message that lies hidden behind all words, and even beyond the Divine Word himself in the hidden depth of deity, unless he himself has participated in this inner speaking, that is, unless he speaks 'out of the ground' of God.... Eckhart invites his audience to hear what he has heard and to become one with him in the one ground -- 'If you could perceive things with my heart,' he once said, 'you would well understand what I say; for it is true and the Truth itself speaks it.'" Eckhart does not appeal to his own authority, but "out of the oneness of Divine Truth": "I will tell you how I think of people: I try to forget myself and everyone and to merge myself, for them, in Unity."

Again I cannot help but notice the analogy with psychoanalysis, which you might say is the study of the "lower vertical," whereas Eckhart's mystical theology is the study of the upper vertical: "[A] person must penetrate and transcend everything created and temporal and all being and go into the ground that has no ground.... If anyone wishes to come into God's ground and his innermost, he must first come into his own ground and his innermost, for no one can know God who does not first know himself."

As McGinn explains, "God unbecomes when the mystic is not content to return to the 'God' who acts, but effects a 'breaking through' to the silent unmoving Godhead, one that brings all creatures back into the hidden source through their union in the deconstructed 'intellect.'" Or, in the words of Eckhart, "When I enter the ground, the bottom, the flood and the source of the Godhead, no one asks me where I come from or where I have been. There no one misses me, and there God 'unbecomes.'"

I would never claim to know God. Nor can anyone know God, for this would imply human containment of what by definition transcends man. Rather, as Eckhart said, the knowing is in the trying, and the trying involves a continuous sort of unknowing, non-doodling, or rank coonfusion: "This not-knowing draws [the soul] into amazement and keeps her on the hunt, for she clearly recognizes 'that he is,' but she does not know 'what' or 'how' he is.... Therefore, the unknown-knowing keeps the soul constant and still on the hunt.... [T]his unknowing lures and draws you from all that is known, and also from yourself." McGinn calls it a "simultaneous eating and hungering after God."

Eckhart distinguishes between "mere ignorance and learned ignorance," or what Raccoons call the Higher Bewilderness: "One must here come to a transformed knowing, and this unknowing must not come from ignorance; rather from knowing one must come into an unknowing. Then, we will become knowing with divine knowing and then our unknowing will be ennobled and clothed with supernatural knowing. And here, in that we are in a state of receiving, we are more perfect than if we were active."

Perfect nonsense!

Eckhart said that we are held back or "estranged" from God by three primary conditions, time, multiplicity and matter. As a result, one again cannot "know" God per se. Rather, one can only undergo him. Or, in Raccoon terms, one must sopher God. Bion would have oppreciated this observation, for he recognized that if one cannot suffer pain, one cannot suffer pleasure, and knowledge is rooted in the pain of separation -- separation from O. Unknowing this separation is the highest form of knowledge, but it can only happen if you exert enough passivity or strive with all the effortlessness you can meister.

Me? I've obviously given up completely, as this post proves.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

On Packing Light for the Eternal Journey

They say that the sales of a book will be diminished by the percentage of pages that contain any kind of mathmatical equation. People might pluck the book from the shelf, but as soon as they see any numbers, they put it back.

I'm afraid it's the same with my symbolic oquations, perhaps with the exception of O, since it can camouflage itself as a letter. But throw in stuff like (•), →, (¶), or •••(¶)•••, and people start to recoil. There, see. Wait! Come back!

But for me, these symbols were a kind of lifesaver -- or mind saver -- because they allowed me to see through to the unity beneath all of the various revelations I had immersed myself in at the time -- not just across revelations, but within them. Really, it's like musical notation. Imagine how musically limited we would be in the absence of an abstract system to describe it.

The other day I was reading about an album Sinatra made with the Duke Ellington band in the 1960s. Sinatra always worked with the very best studio guys, who both had jazz chops and could also sight read as easily as you're reading this post. But as great as they were, no one in the Ellington band could sight read. Ellington wrote hundreds of compositions, and the band learned each one by simply playing it. In a way, it makes each composition a unique entity that cannot be seen as anything more simple or abstract than itself.

This is largely the position mankind at large was in prior to the scientific revolution. No one knew, for example, that the same force that caused the apple to fall from the tree, also caused the earth to fall through the curved space around the sun -- or, in Newtonian terms, that there was an underlying g-force that accounted for such diverse phenomena.

So imagine my surprise when I discovered the similarities between certain yogic approaches and Orthodox Christianity. Faced with such a similarity, one has several options. One could say that one is a debased or partial form of the other; or that one is a premonition of the other; or like Schuon, that each is true in its own right and in its own human world; or that they are symbolic or mythological expressions of perennial truth.

In my case, I suppose you could say that I attempted to develop a "general theory of spirituality" that would apply to all particular spiritual experiences, so that modern people who otherwise cannot appreciate religion could begin to access its priceless wisdom. And I am particularly interested in reaching the many westerners who are attracted to Buddhism or yoga, because only a revitalization of Christianity will save the West -- and therefore the world. We need you on our side. There is nothing in eastern religions that cannot be found in Christianity, but much in Christianity that is responsible for our uniquely valuable civilization.

Please bear in mind that the experience always takes precedence, and that the symbols are merely a means of "storage and communication," so to speak. Instead of musical notation, it's spiritual notation. But in neither case does it exist for its own sake. Rather, the purpose of music is to be played, heard, and understood. And the purpose of spiritual experience is to discover your true self, and therefore, God (and/or vice versa).

Sherrard writes that "to know oneself may be said to be a condition of knowing God.... In other words, if one cannot know God without knowing oneself, one also cannot know oneself without knowing God. To be ignorant of oneself is thus to be ignorant of the divine source of one's being. If to be ignorant of oneself is to fail to achieve an authentic human life, then by the same token to be ignorant of God is to fail to achieve an authentic human life."

So, each is a prerequisite for the other, which is why I say that (¶) is a kind of "prolongation" of O, whereas (•) is a reflection of Ø. Thus, you can see that I simply abstract the essence of what a Sherrard is conveying. Then it's up to you to refill the abstraction with your own experience. The purpose of life is to reflect and embody eternity within time, or let us say O through (¶).

For a real life example of what happens when someone fails to know themselves -- and therefore God -- see Scipio's two recent posts on the eternally clueless Maureen Dowd.

On one of Scipio's pieces, I left a comment about having viewed the Ingmar Bergman film Wild Strawberries yesterday evening. If you haven't seen the film, it's about an elderly professor who is about to receive some kind of honor. During the course of the journey to where he is to receive the award, he reflects upon his life.

I haven't gotten to the end of the film yet, but one can sense that it is all about a kind of nightmarish realization that he died long ago, and that he is solely identified with (•). The painful realization that he has missed out on his own life comes to him in the form of disturbing dreams and images. At one point, his daughter in law says to him, You know so much. And yet you know nothing.

This is the fate of all (k). It really has no living relationship to O, but is merely a kind of cloak with which intellectuals cover themselves in order to produce a kind of self-generated warmth and security. But upon your death -- or birth, it's up to you -- this (k) dissolves like a dirt clod in the water. It just decomposes and returns to the earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

There is a living source and a living knowledge (n), and only this is free from the grip of Death. It is what you take with you when you grow. The rest of your intellectual baggage is eternally lost in the errport.

@ American Thinker, another dangerously false self, Obama.

Monday, July 06, 2009

The Eternal Drama of Cosmic Stupidity and the Cluelesside of Man

One may consider man's evident fallenness from many different angles that correspond to his will, his emotions, his conscience, his lower nature, his intellect, or his taste in music. Undoubtedly it involves all of the above, but Sherrard focuses on the intellect, calling the whole fiasco a drama of knowledge.

Specifically, Sherrard describes "a dislocation and degradation of our consciousness, a lapse of our perceptive and cognitive powers -- a lapse which cuts us off from the presence and awareness of other superior worlds and imprisons us in the fatality of our solitary existence in this world."

On some level, the Fall always comes down to knowledge, for at the very least, if you don't know you are fallen, you can't do anything about it. Instead, you will keep on doing what you're doing, which is to engage in your own auto-expulsion from reality. You end up like the Wicked Witch of the West Side, bitterly blaming everyone and everything for your pathetic condition.

Whether correctly or incorrectly, I always like to get beneath the surface of these things, and discuss them in them in terms of abstract and universal principles. As such, employing the symbols from my book, the "fall" may be preconceptualized as the distance between (•) and (¶). You could even represent the fall schematically as (¶)→(•). Conversely, to be born again in spirit is (•)→(¶).

The fall is also a measure of the distance between matter and spirit -- a distance that is entirely manmade, since matter regains its metaphysical transparency for the spiritually opened eye. Obviously, the spiritual world is not simply something "added on" to the material world, but is its very essence. And even if it goes unacknowledged, the material world cannot be understood at all in the absence of some "spiritualizing" by even the most atheistic man. No man could -- or would want to -- live for a second in a wholly material world deprived of spirit. He would asphyxiate or die of thirst faster than you can say "Richard Dawk..."

The unredeemed (•) commits two fatal errors that flow from the initial separation of spirit and matter. First, "material forms are regarded as totally non-spiritual, and thus either as illusion or as only to be known through identifying their reality with their purely material aspects." In turn, the "the debasement of the physical dimension of things" results in the denial "of our own created existence." When natural things are denied their "theophanic function," the world-revelation becomes a sort of "dead and soulless body." Thus, it is a murder-suicide of spirit.

Now, the "inner meaning" of things obviously cannot be attained by (•), which only has access to the Ø that it simultaneously creates and is created by. As Sherrard writes, "the human mind, without enlightenment from a more-than-human source, cannot attain a valid form of knowledge." In short, we cannot lift ourselves up by our own buddhastraps. Darwinian monkeys cannot know truth or attain to objectivity (which amount to the same thing).

In order to regain the purity of vision and "see things as they are," we must in some way break free of (•) and its highly limited and distorted maps of reality. There are many ways to do this, but obviously "technique" is of secondary consequence. The main point is that "we have to free ourselves form all that we think we know, of all the conceptions we have formed as a result of going in pursuit.... of knowledge we think we have obtained through our own efforts." The reason for this is that true knowledge can neither be obtained nor verified through (•).

This is the distinction between horizontal knowledge (k) and vertical wisdom (n), or true gnosis. Only the latter is unchanging. It is timeless. As such, it is not discovered in the same way we discover something unknown on the horizontal plane. Rather, it is already known to us, but must be recalled. Ultimately this is because (¶) is of the same substance as O, and only like can know like. (The fact that you already know it is why you understand me.)

Here is how Sherrard describes what I call (n): it is not "something that is not known. It is not even something that we do not know. We do know it -- it is our lifeblood -- only we have forgotten and lost it, just as we have forgotten and lost our own reality. If we can recover our own reality we will also recover this knowledge, for the two go hand in hand. This knowledge is part and parcel of who we are, in our true being. If we recollect who we are, we will also recollect this knowledge" (emphasis mine).

This is why I said in the book that it is not necessary to "believe in God" in order to get your spiritual adventure underway. Rather, you can start at either end: with O or with (¶), since the latter is a reflection of the former; or you could say it is the son of the father, and that the O-corn doesn't fall far from the tree of life. But the point is, as (¶) is developed, strengthened, and nourished, O inevitably begins to come into view. A transformation begins to occur, both internally and externally.

In principle, it is no different than the acquisition of profane but highly specialized knowledge, say, of a physician. A gifted physician has the ability to "see" realities that are invisible to the untrained eye. Does this mean that these realities are all "in his head?" Of course not. He has what we might call a "professional (•)," something that most of us have in one field or another. Everyone's an expert on something, even if it's just how to bullshit people. But enough about the MSM.

So, true knowledge "is something that is given to us, but we can perceive it only when we are in a condition to perceive it." Please note that we can never contain this knowledge. O always contains us, on pain of (¶) confusing itself with God -- which of course does happen, always because of unmetabolized traces of (•) -- or, to be technical •••(¶)••• -- you know, mind parasites.

Now, speaking of (•)→(¶), i.e., the reversal of the fall, please bear in mind that all the "→" in the world could not accomplish this in the absence of supernatural grace, or what I call (↓). The (↓) is always there, but even God cannot save us without our co-upperation. Thus, our own (↑) is a necessary but insufficient condition for (•)→(¶).

Referring again to the symbols in my book, (o) and (---) are a prelude to the movement of (•)→(¶). Again, I should emphasize that these symbols are not arbitrary, but as precise -- but empty -- as can be. Here is how Sherrard fills them in: "we have to attain a new state, a state of unknowing which, contrary to the negative not-knowing, frees us from bondage to our ego-consciousness and to its stream of hallucinatory and dismembering thought, and allows us to perceive the seamless robe of nature in all its pristine integrity."

To be continued.....

Sunday, July 05, 2009

The Books of Liberal Wisdom and Islamist Virtues

A short and refrivolous post from two years back, with bonus material added as it comes to me:

The other day, Dr. Sanity posted on the new children's book Mommy is a Moonbat, er, Democrat. One wonders why such a book was necessary, given the existing plethora of college textbooks.

Anyway, here are a few gems pulled out at random:

--Ask not what your country can do for you. Instead, organize a demonstration and demand it.

--It's not how you play the game, so long as no one wins or loses and gets their feelings hurt.

--A fool and someone else's money can solve any societal problem (the Liberal Credo).

--Judge not, lest ye be a member of a liberal-approved victim class.

--Whining isn't everything. It's the only thing.

--If life gives you lemons, file a class action suit against Sunkist.

--A person is known by the company he boycotts.

--A lie travels halfway around the world. The other half doesn't get the New York Times.

--Eternal vigilance is the price of paranoia.

--Like father, like, what's that?

--Don't count your chickens before they're aborted.

--Beggars can't be choosers. Rather, they're now called "homeless."

--Necessity is the mother of government handouts.

--An attorney who represents himself is a lobbyist for the Trial Lawyers Association.

--Spare the forceps, spoil the fetus.

--When I was a child, I spoke as a child. After attending graduate school, it was even worse.

--Boys will be boys until Obamacare provides subsidized ritalin for every one of them.

--Regardless of your background, any American who really works hard at it can still become a victim.

--Those who don't learn from history must have majored in it.

--And a child shall lead them. Unless the GOP can get its act together before 2012.


While at the book store the other day, I came across the Muslim Book of Virtues, by an imam who is sort of the William Bennett of the Islamic world. If we could just take the time to try to understand their culture, I think we'd get along a whole lot better.

I've assembled a list of "wise old Islamic sayings" from the book that I think are particularly relevant to our discussion. These are virtual clichés in the Muslim world, but they are probably new to you:

--Sticks and stones will break your bones if your words should ever humiliate me.

--If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try to blame the Jews.

--Fool me once, death to you. Fool me twice? Not gonna happen.

--A penny saved will help finance a martyrdom operation.

--There's something rotten in Denmark. Free speech.

--Don't judge a book unless it's been approved by the Ministry of Vice and Virtue.

--Don't try to reinvent the wheel before you've even discovered it.

--Give a Palestinian a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and the UN will have to feed him.

--A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Period.

--One picture is worth a thousand riots.

--Ask me no questions and I will tell you lies just for the hell of it.

--The race doesn't always go the swift, but to the sneaky and duplicitous.

--Good fences make it more difficult to kill your neighbors.

--If it ain't broke, that's a relief, because we have no idea how to fix anything.

--If you can't beat 'em, at least try to kill and maim as many of their children as possible.

--If you can't say anything nice, you should run for office in the Palestinian territories.

--It's not whether you win or lose, it's how much meaningless suffering you can inflict.

--It's always darkest before the dawn. So if you're going to sneak into Israel with a suicide bomb, that's the time to do it.

--What doesn't kill you won't kill any Jews either.

--Don't shoot the messenger. Torture his family in front of him.

--The road to hell -- or anyplace else, for that matter -- is paved with IEDs.

--Those who don't learn from history are respecting the will of Allah.