Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Mystery Between Mister O and Mister I

Here's another old one that touches on the mystery of time. And when I say "mystery," I mean it in a particular way. First, it is a distinct mode of understanding through which we may know an absent presence and present absence. In other words, mystery has an epistemological sense. God, for example, is encountered through, or in, mystery. The more you heighten your sense of mystery, the more you are open to the transcendent. In my book, I symbolize this be-attitude as (o).

But there is also an implicit ontological sense of the term. As I have mentioned before, I have long suspected that the various fundamental mysteries that confront man are somehow interconnected; you might say that they are diverse manifestations of O.

What I mean is that there are certain things that are fundamentally beyond the horizon of knowability -- at least in the profane or rationalistic sense. No amount of cogitation will ever resolve these riddles, which include Time, Life, People, Self, and other magazines.

Sorry. That was a gag that couldn't help writing itself. These mysteries include Time (in all its modes, but especially the Now), Consciousness, Life, Freedom, and Being, AKA, that window into eternity that says I AM.

In the past I have used the metaphor of a three-dimensional hand passing through a two-dimensional plane. As the grubby fingers break through the plane, they will initially appear as one, then two, eventually five, circles (unless, like Petey, you were involved in a tragic farming accident). But then the circles will blend together at the wrist, if you still have one. You can always learn to use your left hand.

If you want to know what time -- and therefore evolution -- is, that's about as good an image as I can think of at the moment. Remember also what I -- or rather, Captain Kirk -- said the other day about the "circle" that exists when two dimensions meet -- analogous to the narrow passage between the chambers of an hourglass. Put the two images together, and what do we have?

I don't know. Let me think for a moment. A new Star Trek episode? I can't look at the keyboard and deploy my imagination at the same time.... speaking of which, add "imagination" to that list of mysteries above.

Got it. That little passage between the chambers is the "place" of declension, where the three-dimensional hand passes into two-dimensional space; you might say that it is where the Dreamer dreams the dream. It is certainly where free will takes place, not to mention the passage of time. And it is the only place where I AM could be.

The post I am about to edit was one that originally consisted of a purely "free association." You might say that it was an attempt to describe the sand particles as they flowed past. In editing it, I will now attempt to stand back from the hourglass for a wider view. In other words, in this second bite at the apple, I will attempt to contain what initially contained me -- or interpret the dream, so to speak.

It's FREE ASSOCIATION day, in which I, Bob's Unconscious, commandeer the wheel of Cosmic Bus and say whatever pops into his melon. It's a good way for him to discover what he thinks about things of which he knows nothing; or to know about things he has only unThought, and to thereby render this mythterious absence present. Or again, to bring forth some hidden corner of Bobness that should have perhaps remained hidden. At least we'll find out why.

Say, we haven't discussed time in a while, have we? It's always good to meditate on the mystery of time, since it is a modality that opens out to the infinite -- like the haunted house of Existence, the unexpected door into Life, and the miraculous window of Subjectivity.

Perhaps this is too obvious, but I think we can all agree that evolution presupposes time. Or does it? Obviously, there could be no possibility of evolution in the absence of time, time being a measure of change. But perhaps it's the other way around, i.e., that time is a byproduct of evolution. In other words, because things evolve, there is time. After all, if things didn't evolve, there would only be eternity, i.e., atemporal changelessness. As such, there would be no time to do anything, not even dash over to the dry cleaner before they close.

At this moment, I am looking straight ahead at my official Subgenius clock, with Bob Dobb's beaming face looking back at me. Some people suppose that a clock measures time, but that is incorrect. Rather, a clock measures space, as the hand moves from position to position (well, technically, this particular clock measures slack). A few moments ago, the minute hand was at Bob's noble chin. Now it is approaching the majestic pipe which he holds in his perfect teeth. The point is, time and change are thoroughly entangled, so that it is impossible to conceive of one in the absence of the other. Time is change and change is time.

Now, there is a difference between time and mere duration. And there is a kind of duration that is above and a kind of inverse analogy below. That is, God by definition transcends time and is not subject to change. Nevertheless, he obviously "endures." This is the modality of eternity, which is always now: before you spuds were, I YAM.

As we have discussed before, eternity is not time everlasting, but timelessness. However, on the temporal plane, the closest we can come to grasping eternity is through the very old and ancient. This is why we can obtain hints of the eternal in the presence of virgin nature, or a very old cathedral, or perhaps by looking out into the heavens. But these things should not be confused with eternity itself.

Eternity is not necessarily "time standing still." For example, Bob has treated numberless cases of psychological trauma (I didn't say "successfully"), and one of its universal characteristics is the suspension of time while the trauma is occurring. I think this can more or less be explained on Darwinian grounds, as an adaptation we evolved in order to cope with extreme distress. When someone is in the midst of a trauma, it is as if the event is implicitly recognized as being too "large" and full of implications to be able to metabolize and assimilate. As a result, the mind "shuts off," as it were. It continues to register the events as they are occurring, but in a timeless way that prevents us from thinking about them (which would require time). You might say that there is a defense mechanism that "stops time" (unlike progressiveism, which reverses it).

Only after the trauma has ended -- once the person is "safe" -- does the mind then "download" the trauma into time, so to speak, and start thinking about all the implications. Thus, the traumatized person always experiences flashbacks, or involuntary recollections that must be "metabolized" after the fact. Likewise, they will think about all of the many "what ifs," e.g., What if he had pulled the trigger?, or What if I had left my children behind?, or What if I hadn't noticed the stubble on her face? (long story).

Again, it is as if the trauma were a "hyperdimensional object," the implications of which can only be drawn out in time. (A more primitive person won't even be able to think about the trauma, but only act it out in time. In this case, the actions are the recollections. For some people, their whole life is simply the repetitive acting out of trauma; one thinks of the Islamists.)

Just so, an encounter with God can result in a similar kind of process that may take a lifetime to sort out. In other words, one must unpack and explicate all of the implications, which are more or less "infinite." Think of how Paul was "shattered" on the road to Damascus; the rest was just "commentary," so to speak.

I remember Schuon making reference to this in the preface to one of this books.... let me see if I can remember which one....

Here it is, from Survey of Metaphysics and Esoterism: "[T]he Sophia perennis [that's the perennial wisdom for those of you in Reino Ciego] is quite evidently inexhaustible and has no natural limits.... As it is impossible to exhaust all that lends itself to being expressed, and as repetition in metaphysical matters cannot be a mistake -- it being better to be too clear than not clear enough -- we believe that we could return to our usual theses, either to offer things we have not yet said, or to explain in a usefully new way things we have said before."

So if these posts appear tediously repetitive, that's my excuse.

Later Schuon expands upon this in a useful way: "It is indispensable to know at the outset that there are truths inherent in the human spirit that are as if buried in the 'depths of the heart,' which means that they are contained as potentialities or virtualities in the pure Intellect: these are the principial or archetypal truths, those which prefigure and determine all others.... The intelligence of animals is partial, that of man is total; and this totality is explained only by a transcendent reality to which the intelligence is proportioned. Thus, the decisive error of materialism and of agnosticism is to be blind to the fact that material things and the common experiences of our life are immensely beneath the scope of our intelligence.... without the Absolute, the capacity of our conceiving it would have no cause."

Okay, let's break this down. As we have said before, profane thinking, or (k), can never arrive at O, except in the exterior sense; it can conceive it, but being in it is a different matter. Real ontonoetic thinking is a declension from O, i.e., that "transcendent reality to which the intelligence is proportioned." Now, if we were fully "in O," it would be analogous to being "in" the trauma; time stops, and we simply enjoy the divine Slack. There is duration, but no time. Augustine talks about being "taken up into heaven"; likewise, one thinks of Plotinus and so many other mystics down through the ages. Or, as Johan reminds us, it is like when Homer talks about the paradox of the beer being "in us," that we may be "in the beer."

But our day-to-day lives -- no, our life -- consists of unpacking and "assimilating" the "divine trauma" of O. Just like the bad kind of trauma, O shatters and never flatters the ego. The ego cannot possibly assimilate it, for it would be like the drop trying to assimilate the ocean. Rather, it must begin to work through the "flashbacks" of O, which are more like "memoirs of the future" than "predictions of the past," the latter of which are all of the "what ifs" that result from the adverse trauma.

Now, let's see.... what would be the "ultimate" trauma.... let me think.... Well, one trauma would obviously be the Big Bang, an event so brimming with implications that it would take billions of years to sort them out, this morning's post not excepted.

Afterwards, one of the biggest and most unexpected traumas to emerge from the primal explosion was the sudden appearance of Life. Evolution has been tinkering with its implications for the past 3.85 billion years, although Life only became consciously aware of its own implications perhaps 40,000 years ago, when another trauma occurred, the sudden emergence of the human subject. (By the way, for you creationists out there, feel free to translate this into your own terms; a grasp of the principles is the important thing, not a literal reading. In other words, any way you look at it, the awakening to the human state was a traumatic event, a reality memorialized in Genesis.)

Yes, but what would be the ultimate ultimate trauma, something that man could ponder forever and never quite assimilate.... I've got it! How about if the Absolute were to come down into history itself and obliterate all of our categories, even the "false absolute" of Death itself?

Hmmm, it might just work.... It's one thing to send down a book, but we all know what humans can do with books, i.e., "contain" and therefore kill them with their minds....

In an analogy Bob has not used before, probably with good reason, it is as if God dives into the deep end of history, and the resultant waves in the historical pool are still reaching us, because God is just too big for the pond. Imagine Charles Barkley or Rosie O'Donnell doing a cannonball into a wading pool.

Isn't there a scriptural passage to the effect that "death could not contain him?" The point is again that none of our cosmic, existential, scientific, or psychological categories can contain him. He shatters time, death, history, and the human being who allows himself to be traumatized -- or, let us say, crucified -- by this overwhelming event that is always happening.

Well, long day today, and I pretty much have to go where Bob goes, even though he could never contain me, not in a million lifetomes....

(Image yoinked from Vanderleun's sidebar, I don't know, just because it reminds me of this weird dream I once had. Or that once had me.)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mind Under Matter: How the Other Half-Wits Live

As long as one clings to time, space, number and quantity, that person is on the wrong track and God is strange and far away. --Meister Eckhart

Good to see that we are getting some anonymous commenters who are clearly not trolls. Rather, they are asking some honest questions (yes, there most assuredly can be dishonest questions), and should be treated with respect and with patience. For example, this morning someone asked about my use of the word "prior" to describe the higher planes of existence. Now that I think about it, they might just as well object to the word "higher," since it implies the same thing.

As I explained in a comment, in order to describe the vertical at all, we must borrow terms that were developed for use in the horizontal -- indeed, beginning with the words "vertical" and "horizontal"! I prefer these words, because they are relatively empty and unsaturated terms, as opposed to, say, "heaven and earth" or "celestial and terrestrial." One could also say essence and existence, but those are more abstract, and aren't immediately graspable by the imagination.

Likewise, does grace flow like water? You tell me. Do we really ascend to God? Is the unconscious actually "below" the conscious? Each of these words must be understood in a poetic sense -- or perhaps I should say with the poetic sense.

Now, one reason why we say that the vertical is "prior" to the horizontal is because it must be. For if you give it any serious consideration at all, you quickly realize that the reverse could never be true -- that the vertical could not flow from the horizontal, any more than information could come from strict chaos, quality from quantity, mind from matter, etc. Science does not understand how this could be the case, but this is simply a result of prejudice, not "the nature of things." Abandon the scientistic prejudice, turn the cosmos back right side up, and it all makes perfect nonsense.

As I have mentioned before, we could not be human if we didn't have something analogous to a left and right cerebral hemisphere, with very different ways of understanding the world and of processing information. I believe the reason we have a left and right brain is because we simultaneously mirror, and are mirrored by, the cosmos, which has both horizontal and vertical modes.

Obviously science deals with the horizontal aspects of the world. It is linear, deterministic, past-to-future, bottom-up, etc. It also presumes the logical atomism that seems to be "common sense" for the left brain. That is, the universe consists of an infinite number of distinct parts subject to various forces that are external to them.

But the right brain isn't like this at all. Where the left brain is time oriented, the right brain sees things all at once. It is also inherently relational as opposed to atomistic. The right brain sees connections where the left brain sees divisions. It is continuous where the left brain is discontinuous. Here again we see the metacosmic categories of male and female instantiated in the very structure of our humanness: maleandfemale he created them. Yes, in our deep structure we are cosmic hermaphrodites.

Just as it is impossible to imagine a great poet, painter or musician without a highly developed and integrated right brain, it is inconceivable that one could be a great theologian, let alone, saint or mystic, without one. Similarly, one could say that the left brain operates along the lines of asymmetrical logic, while the right brain is the realm of symmetrical logic.

But no one, unless they are severely brain damaged, operates out of only one lobe, so there is always some degree of integration, although it can be relatively conscious and harmonious or unconscious and unharmonious. Often people project with the right what they reject with the left -- which is why, for example, no one is as religious (in the magical sense) as a Darwinist. Matter is the crock upon which they build their church.

In fact, much of the bonehead philosophy that emanates from scientism results either from unacknowledged sympathies coming from the right brain, or a denial of its voice altogether. It sounds half-witted because it is. It is so easy to poke holes in materialism or metaphysical Darwinism that it is shocking that anyone takes the trouble to actually believe in them, since the belief cannot be justified on any consistent logical -- let alone meta-logical -- grounds. Blah blah blah Gödel (who was often mistaken for Eddie Munster).

It should be noted that in childhood the right brain develops well in advance of the left, and that it has much deeper connections to the older parts of the brain such as the limbic system; as such, it is more "emotional," bearing in mind that emotions are a source of information, and that there can be both subtle and gross emotions, and even true and false ones.

As you may have noticed, much of spiritual development involves -- or is at least accompanied by -- a kind of "subtilization" of emotion, which is why it gets harder for you to tolerate being around the Barbarians. For example, although the sacred or holy are just as real as, say, matter -- actually, more so -- they obviously cannot be detected only by the senses, but in the heart, so to speak. In turn, this is why for the left, or for Queeg, nothing is sacred, except in an arbitrary or idiosyncratic way. They cluelessly steamroll over what is infinitely precious, like a child who gleefully smashes a cocoon to see what's inside. Like Queeg, they always confuse blasphemy with courage. Their dysluxia blinds them to the light, while their cardiomyopia prevents the heart from seeing.

Now, one of the easiest ways to render scripture absurd -- and to elevate oneself over what is vastly superior -- is to approach it with the left brain of the scientistic mind. This is typically what the anti-religious bigots do, always with great self-satisfaction, as if they are the first to notice that a literal reading of scripture is problematic. But if you approach the same passages with bi-logic, the problem usually disappears.

For example, what can it possibly mean that "Christ is in me" and that "I am in Christ"? From the standpoint of conventional logic, this is patently absurd, like saying that "I am now in the Slacktuary" and that "the Slacktuary is now in me." But from the standpoint of symmetrical logic, it not only makes perfect sense, but is a kind of logical corollary. That is, if Christ is in me, then I am necessarily in him. (Again, think of dream logic, in which contradictory statements or situations can be equally true.)

Likewise, we all know that God is both radically transcendent, or "beyond everything," and intensely immanent, or "within everything." With conventional logic, these statements would be mutually exclusive, but from the standpoint of symmetrical logic, they are again complementary and not at all problematic. Yes, most people are incapable of metaphysics, and therefore must take these kinds of statements about God "on faith." But this hardly means they are wrong or incapable of proof, any more than I am wrong to take it on faith that physicists are correct that the world really is a vast sea of quantum energy. Let them figure out the details. I've got more important things to do. I'll just take it on faith and move on. And in.

Speaking of complementarity, one wonders if some of the conundrums of physics cannot be reconciled in this manner. For example, from the standpoint of conventional logic, it is deeply problematic that the electron appears as either particle or wave, depending upon how one looks at it. In other words, it can either be an isolated part, or else a wave that shades off into the totality of existence. In the former sense, things are externally related and local, whereas in the latter sense they are internally related and nonlocal. This is a mystery to the left brain, but a banality to the right.

To extend the analogy a bit -- and again, bear in mind that I am drawing things out to their extremes in order to create a more vivid contrast -- much of the Bible is a primer on verticality. It acquaints us with the vertical realm, while simultaneously furnishing us with a vivid and imaginative kind of language with which to think about, store, and communicate it. This language was obviously quite effective for most of mankind's history. Indeed, it is perhaps difficult for modern sophisticates to understand how easily Christianity spread. People simply heard the story and said, "makes sense to me," and that was that.

But why did it make sense? The modern sophisticate will say that it had something to do with childlike naivete, or fear of death, or wishing to have a spurious sense of control over the environment. This may well be partly true, at least for the masses. But it is patently untrue if one reads the early fathers, whose thinking is enormously subtle and sophisticated, and still completely relevant to moderns, to say the least.

But again, the whole key is to understand things -- or at least to supplement one's understanding -- with symmetrical logic. Asymmetrical logic can know; but only symmetrical logic can truly understand. I might add that it is eminently possible to understand without knowing, which is why the simple person of faith understands so much more than the tenured sophisticate brimming with knowledge.

In The Symmetry of God, Bomford notes that we cannot actually conceve of eternity, since it is both timeless and changeless, whereas linear thought naturally takes place in time. But we can grasp it through various analogies in the herebelow, for example, the "everlasting," which "provides the closest image of the timeless within time." Therefore, we gain a sense of timelessness in proximity to things that are very old, like a European cathedral, or the Pyramids, or Larry King -- anything "whose beginning is lost in the mists of time, the ancient and the ageless, for these approximate in feeling to the everlasting."

At the same time, at the other end of the extreme, we may also glimpse the eternal in the passing moment, "for such a thing is simultaneously whole and unchanging -- it has no time in which to change.... It is there in its fullness -- and it is gone again." Thus, a mystic such as William Blake could see eternity in a flower or grain of sand, just as Lileks can see it in an old matchbook or motel postcard.

Eternity can also be suggested "by the last event of a series." Bomford cites the example of an aging travel-writer "who had long before visited many places for the first time, and returned often, found a renewed significance in returning once more deliberately for the last time. Places regained the freshness of the first visit." Similarly, "the last words of the dying may be seen as a key to an understanding of a whole life. The last of the series completes the picture, ends the story, and thus hints at the instantaneous wholeness of eternity."

Think it is accomlished. Umm, what was? Oh, I don't know, maybe a little bridge between time and eternity in the heart of the cosmos, making each moment an eternal new year where death touches Life and the former is tranfsigured by the latter. Something like that.

Every December 31, we touch the edge of eternity, as we approach the "end" of one year and the "beginning" of another -- the uniting of old and new, as they are joined at midnight. The Book of Revelation captures this quality, only on a cosmic scale, when the enthroned Christ "announces himself as The First and the Last and the Lord God himself is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end." Similarly, St. Augustine "addressed God as 'Thou Beauty, both so ancient and so new,'" an expression of eternity which has a deep unconscious resonance. The absurcular Book of the Raccoon makes the same point in its own bobscure way, in that it ends and begins with the unified vertical interior meeting up with the dispersing horizontal exterior in the eternal nowthing.

Traditional metaphysics always makes a distinction between the God-being and the God-beyond-being -- between the personal God that can be named and thought about and the Supreme Reality that is beyond name and form. The former is the cataphatic God about whom we may talk, debate and theologize in a somewhat linear way, while the latter is the apophatic God which so utterly transcends our categories that the most we can say about it is what it is not. Various formulations are "fingers pointing at the moon," and although they are "doorways" into the divine mystery, one should not mistake the finger for the moon. In the end, God cannot be "known," only undergone.

Most rank-and-file religious people have never heard of the God-beyond-being and might even be offended by the idea. They have a clear conception of what God is like, and don't want to be reminded that the real unconditioned God blows away those mental idols like a tornado through a Buddhist sand painting convention... which, by the way, is the whole point of a sand painting.

This distinction between the God-being and God-beyond-being is actually a vertical distinction within God himself, and perhaps mirrors the distinction within us between symmetrical and asymmetrical logic. It is not a bobmade principle, but one that would be intrinsic to the inner life of the godhead. It is easy to prove that it exists, more problematic to prove that we or anything else can exist outside it. Nevertheless, man himself is a symbol, which means "to throw across," in our case, from God to matter and back up again.

As a matter of fact, the God-beyond-being is the one thing that surely cannot not be, although numerous implications immediately follow. Ultimately it is the distinction between Brahman and maya, between reality and appearance, between absolute and relative, between necessary and contingent. It is the first distinction, from which all else follows.

This brings up an interesting point. That is, does God have divine mind parasites?

Oh yes. I’m afraid so. For what is a mind parasite in the final analysis? It is a relativity that partakes of, and confuses itself with, absoluteness. God being God, he must be present in all relativities. But being God, he cannot help being beyond them as well. A divine mind parasite is a relativity that steals from the Absolute and then forces itself upon others absolutely. In short it is a demon. Like everything else, it must ultimately be "of God," even though it can't be. Only symmetrical logic can reconcile such a problem. Evil must needs be, but woe to the man who commits it!

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Sands of Timelessness and the Narrow Gate Between the Chambers of Ourglass

What was it that Abe Lincoln said about how tall a man should be -- tall enough for his legs to reach the ground? Whatever the case, it reminds me of how long a life should be: long enough to reach the heavens.

I'm still thinking about Magnus' comment on the nature of time, and how it is becoming more "dense" and therefore "speeding up" -- or, if it isn't, it might as well be, given the rapidity of change.

Then again, perhaps all of the superficial changes can blind us to the more singular, revolutionary changes. In other words, seeing so much change can make one cynical and detached about change itself, as if all change is of the same magnitude -- for example, that a change of presidents is not much different than a change of fashion.

No doubt metaphysical Darwinism also contributes to the confusion, for it is a doctrine of perpetual change, which is no doctrine at all. In Darwinism, the only thing that doesn't change -- for it is unchangeable -- is the Darwinist's mind. But he never explains how purely flowing contingency results in a head like a rock.

One could say the same of the climate changists. Since science proves beyond doubt that the climate is always changing, how can there be deviations from a fanciful norm? It is like trying to take the ideological temperature of a cold-blooded liztard whose temperament changes with the financial needs of the moment.

Anyway, I'm going to try to weave together several previous posts on the nature of time. Remember, this is not for your benefit, but for mine, as I attempt to condense the arkive. Plus, I find that there is absolutely no reason for me to try to rethink things that I may have already adequately thunk in the past. I don't want to just repeat myself without even knowing it. And again, that's the problem -- I really have no idea what's in the arkive, since I write the posts so quickly. This actually gives me a chance to reflect upon and tweak them where necessary.

Eternity lasts forever, but time takes time. A lot of stuff has to happen for it to be fulfilled. Once you recognize this, it is like waking up in a burning house, as Magnus so aptly put it. You have to quickly identify what is essential, grab what you need, and get the hell out! (And of course, wake up your loved ones.)

What makes it all so... thrilling is that you could very well have 70 or 80 years to get out of the house, or you might have only two seconds. You just never know. You could say that a spiritual practice is like the fire drill that prepares us for any exigency.

That the atheist imagines this is "comforting" is further testament to their pitifully frivolous lives. I've posted in the past about the point at which I dramatically realized the burning stakes involved. Once your life bears on eternity, then the implications of your every action have a kind of quasi-infinite resonance. I won't say "infinite," since that is a category reserved for the Absolute, but you know what I mean. Your entire life is transposed to a higher key, several octaves above the aimless absurcularity of the flatland atheist croaking his repetitive ditties about the glories of matter.

After all, your charge is, like B'atman, to be more than a man. Or, if you prefer, it is simply to be a man, properly understood. But either way, you get the point: it is to transcend, not momentarily, but continuously, even while being more fully "in the world" than the half-dead secularists.

Being that we are in the image of the Creator, it is not as simplistic as being "in the world, but not of it." Rather, it is BEING in, and being IN the world, even while one's essential being derives from a radically different source than the closed horizontal world. After all, the world cannot transcend, much less redeem, itself. Nor can we in the absence of nonlocal assistance. Why this is not understood even by secular intellectuals is a mystery to me. They must truly believe that truth is just opinion.

The past recedes like so much driftwood behind an Ocean liner, while the future comes at us like a dark juggernaut out of the fog. In short, because we are finite we are in time and subject to its relentless passage, which brings birth and death, growth and decay, choice and circumstance, chance and necessity, geometry and music, drudgery and adventure.

But at the same time -- or timelessness -- human beings may uniquely stand "outside" or "above" the flow of time. We may sit on the river bank and watch it pass, and even write books that attempt to reveal deeper patterns in the flow of time.

In other words, all other animals live in time, not history. But human beings transpose time into history. Once we fully realize the implications of this, we can awaken from that particular nightmare and live in a transhistorical position, which is a sort of inverse analogy of the prehistorical position, since we are conscious of what the cave dweller was only unconscious. Do you see the point? Truly, it is as if there is pre-Enlightenment man, vulgar Enlightenment man, and civilized post-enlightenment man. The pre- and the post- share some characteristics, but the post- has been burnished by the fires of history.

Schuon expresses it well: "What is human is what is natural to man, and what is most essentially or most specifically natural to man is what relates to the Absolute and which consequently requires the transcending of what is earthly in man.... There is a great deal of talk these days about 'humanism,' talk which forgets that once man abandons his prerogatives to matter, to machines, to quantitative knowledge, he ceases to be truly 'human'.... What is most profoundly and authentically human rejoins the Divine by definition."

What this means is that mere Enlightenment man is necessarily less than a man, for he has exiled himself from his own origin and center. He is permanently "stuck" in the middle of time and history, with no way out or up.

Elsewhere Schuon writes with characteristic precision and lucidity that man posseses "objectivity of intelligence: the capacity to see things as they are in themselves; next, objectivity of will, hence free will; and finally, objectivity of sentiment, or of soul if one prefers: the capacity for charity, disinterested love, compassion. [T]he 'human miracle' must have a reason for being that is proportionate to its nature, and it is this that predestines -- or 'condemns' -- man to surpass himself; man is totally himself only by transcending himself. Quite paradoxically, it is only in transcending himself that man reaches his proper level; and no less paradoxically, by refusing to transcend himself he sinks below the animals which -- by their form and mode of passive contemplativity -- participate adequately and innocently in a celestial archetype; in a certain respect, a noble animal is superior to a vile man."

Now, the noble Raccoon not only transposes time into history, but history into transhistory, AKA, the Adventure of Consciousness (or "Journey to God," if you like). Rather than looking at consciousness as a mere side effect of the chance arrangements of matter, he turns the cosmos outside in and right side up, and sees consciousness as a "projection" of eternity into time.

This is how it is that history exists. It is how Man exists. It is how consciousness exists. It is how Life exists. It is how the Cosmos itself exists. But it is also why they exist and why they must exist in any Cosmos worthy of the name. A Cosmos will be alive and conscious, or it will not be a Cosmos, just an incoherent chaosmos. But a chaosmos is strictly impossible, for it is a contradiction in terms. Chaos -- like any change -- can only exist as a privation. We can only know of it because there is order, just as we can only know of the change of Darwinism because the human soul is of the substance of changelessness.

Things are not only caused horizontally by the past and the "below." Rather, their ultimate cause must emanate from the "future" and the "above," which is why there are different quasi-autonomous or "discontinuously continuous" worlds such as physics, biology, psychology, theology -- or matter, life, mind and spirit. Clearly, if you have even a rudimentary post-enlightenment grasp of things, you realize that manifest existence must flow in the ontologically prior direction of Spirit--> Mind --> Life--> Matter. You know, One Cosmos Under God. The alternative is just too stupid -- and boring -- to waste one's time on, which is to say, one's life, mind and spirit, i.e., eternity.

I would like to briefly discuss this in the context of a short but extremely relevant article by Schuon called The Symbolism of the Hourglass. Schuon's account of this symbolism is in perfect accord with everything we have discussed above.

In its ordinary use, the hourglass is "a symbol of time and death." The flowing sand signifies the irreversibility of time, as the substance of our being gradually dissipates into death. Furthermore, "the sterility of sand evokes the nothingness of things as mere earthly accidents," while "the cessation of movement reminds us that the heart will stop and life will end."

However, looked at another way, we can see that the two compartments "represent the high and the low, heaven and earth." On the one hand, there is a flowing movement and a "pole of attraction" that pours from eternity into time, spirit into matter, i.e., (↓). But as mentioned above, the method and the goal of Raccoon spirituality involves turning the cosmos upside-down -- which is to say, right side up. Thus, as Schuon explains,

"Spiritually, a movement toward the higher is always a sort of turning upside down, for the soul turns away from the world, which imprisons and disperses it, thus reversing the movement of its will or love." In other words, we invert the hourglass -- or ourglass, as it were -- "so that the heavenly attraction should be represented by an ascending movement of the sand into the upper compartment," i.e., (↑). This is why our aspiration is simultaneously an attraction, or a movement into the orbit of the Great Attractor. Indeed, it is why spiritual aspiration "goes somewhere" instead of just in circles.

I am reminded of a Star Trek episode I saw the other night. It had to do with a parallel universe where lived a "mad" version of a sane individual from the other universe. The madman was traveling through hyperspace, enviously trying to destroy the sane one. However, if the two should actually make contact, it would instantaneously destroy both universes. Either Kirk or Spock made the comment that there was a "circular" area where the two dimensions made contact and the two could pass back and forth.

This got me to thinking of how the different dimensions of the cosmos relate. For example, "mind" is clearly in a different dimension than matter. And yet, there is a point of contact, most notably in the human head. This immediately made me think of the small circle that separates the upper and lower dimensions of the hourglass.

But in the cosmic deli, there are not just the two chambers, but many, depending upon how finely one wishes to slice the ontological salami. For example, in Wilber's Integral Psychology, he has an appendix of detailed charts that correlate various levels of spirit from different traditions. However, the takeaway point is that in each case, the lower is explained by the higher, not vice versa. The higher is ontologically prior, but temporally later -- which is a truism that the Darwinist simply cannot wrap his unevolved mind around.

Back to the symbolism of the hourglass. The following description by Schuon exactly parallels how I explained it in chapter four of my book: "The expression 'poles of attraction' calls to mind the image of two magnetic centers, one above and one below.... the world attracts like a magnetic center, but at the same time it is diverse and disperses; the 'Kingdom of Heaven' also attracts like a magnet, but at the same time it is infinite and it expands."

Again, between them is that tiny circle which is none other than the "narrow path" or "strait gate" through which camels and lizards cannot pass.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Holy History, B'atman, We're Surrounded by Jokers!

Once again I dropped my line into the knowa's arkive, and the very first post arrested my attention. It seems to nonlocally relate to yesterday's post, plus I see some pneumatic interstices where I can toss in some pneumaterial. If possible, I would also like to find a way to work in some comments on the following observation by Magnus:

"At the time of Jesus and his apostles, deep time was a span of hundreds of years at best. Some of their words would take more than a thousand years to hit home. It is the same today, except that a thousand years passes in less than a generation. Human time is speeding up so that changes that would take a hundred years may take less than ten. And then it speeds up again.

"However, the future is still equally hard to predict. That means that if you, in the age of Emperor Augustus, had not been able to foresee the Middle Ages... then you are not able to foresee the world twenty years from now.

"A fascinating side effect of this is that we, in a certain sense, have regained the lifespan of the mythical ancestors from before the Flood, who would live to see nearly a thousand years pass. Even had this been literally true, they would hardly learn as much, or see as much change, in their 900 years as some of us have seen already."

You see, as soon as you try to define time, you understand that Magnus' comment is more than metaphorical, for if time is the measure of change, then what he says is literally true. I think about this all the time. In my wildest dreams, twenty years ago I could not imagine doing what I am doing at this very moment -- i.e., instantaneously communicating my deepest and most eccentric thoughts to a leading-fringe audience of oddballs and misfits spanning the entire world while sitting here in my childhood bedroom. Yes, I continue to grow up in the house I grew up in, but that's another story. Or storey.

"Energy" is one of those words, like "time," which everyone uses but no one can actually define. Physicists have no idea what energy is, only what it does. The dictionary doesn't help, defining it as "the capacity of being active" or "the capacity for doing work." Transferred to the human plane, this doesn't make a lot of sense. For example, think of all the liberal "activists" who do not actually "work." In fact, if they worked, they wouldn't have the time or energy to be activists, and we'd all be better off. Liberals -- not to mention government employees -- prove that work and activity can be diametrically opposed.

It seems that for humans, energy is value-neutral, in that it will only make the unredeemed man more of what he already is, so to speak. With the influx of energy, a deplorable rag such as the Enquirer or New York Times simply becomes more of one, if that is possible. Keith Olbermann only becomes more unglued. Chris Matthews only hurls more spittle at the back of your TV screen -- which is impossible to clean, by the way. The MSMistry of Truth only burrows further into the Messiah's asstank. In other words, the energy in no way "elevates" its recipient, although the person no doubt feels more alive when the energy is rushing along his keel and causing a tingle in his pasty and corpulent thigh.

I'm sure this is why so many people on the left are so addicted to anger and outrage, and the reason why I counsel my slavish clones not to get too caught up in the tempest of the day; or, at the very least, to do so with one eye on the Aion and another eye winking. What you do with your third eye is your business.

Our work is not political per se. For us, there can be no political solution. Rather, nothing short of a transformation of consciousness can alter the present course of history. History is not just a horizontal stream of time, being that it is composed of humans (and cultures) of differing developmental -- which is to say, vertical -- levels.

I often think about this as it pertains to my four and a-half year-old. I well remember that eternal, magical space that I lived in when I was his age -- the natural mysticism of childhood -- and about how he is in that identical space, despite all the historical differences. They are all obliterated in the mystery of his pure consciousness, which is atemporal being and bliss. When he's getting his way, that is. When he's not, he suddenly transmogrifies into an endlessly whining and entitled liberal beast whose demands are bottomless. Same conscious-energy. Different result.

History, like man himself, is just a middle term linking two ahistorical realities. Dude, that's called a fact. If we think of history as the residue of, or the tracks laid down by, the Adventure of Consciousness, what is most important for us is not its horizontal meandering but its vertical ascent. In other words, profane history is merely the "stage," so to speak, on which the Army of Man makes forays into the vertical and slowly colonizes it -- just as some 40,000 years ago, proto-humans slowly began colonizing the a priori space of humanness and all its various "mansions," both high and low.

To put it another way -- and this is a critical point -- the acquisition of humanness was not merely an evolutionary ascent. Rather, it simultaneously -- and necessarily -- involved opening up a space which was lower than the beasts. This is why man and only man can be higher or lower than an animal, depending upon the choices he makes. This is also why history is so simultaneously surreal and subreal. No mere animal could produce the Holocaust on the one hand or < fill in the blank > on the other.

Imagine an advancing army, only moving upward and inward; as Sri Aurobindo put it, it is like "a tide or mounding flux, the leading fringe of which touches the highest degrees of a cliff or hill while the rest is still below," or "an army advancing in columns which annexes new ground, while the main body is still behind in territory overrun but too large to be effectively occupied, so that there has to be a frequent halt and partial return to the traversed areas for consolidation and advance of the hold on the occupied country and assimilation of its people."

This is why it was so appallingly vomitaceous for Obama to actually abase himself -- and by extension, us -- before that hideous gang of murderers, thugs, and anti-Semites last week. Truly, this is like the Jews apologizing to Hitler, and Netanyahu has our eternal gratitude for speaking truth to the steaming pile of human turds in that World Toilet.

By way of contrast -- to put it mildly -- the "Reagan Revolution" was more importantly an evolution. Unfortunately, the evolution "didn't take," and we're almost back to where we started in Carterville. Why? First, because, as always, the evolution is embattled on all sides by the primitives and barbarians down below, who are animated by hostile cosmic forces they do not understand. But perhaps even more importantly, because we were not worthy of it. No one is more responsible for frittering away the progress of the Reagan Revolution than the Republican party, which simply gave the game away to the barbarian hordes. Our foundation was not secure enough.

I am reminded of another comment from yesterday, this one by xlbrl: "The socialist state cannot live without the conservative making it work for him. What Reagan accomplished was remarkable indeed, yet here we are at the precipice again, and quickly.... If we do not re-discover and remove all things in which all government extends itself and reduces citizens, we will acheive that end point of democracy for which Tocqueville elequently described but for which he could find no name."

There actually is a name: tyranny, except that it's the tyranny that occurs at the end rather than beginning of history, for "extremes meet." It is the tyranny of, in the formulation of James Kalb, "administered freedom, inquisitorial tolerance, and equality by command."

Thus we await another political "savior" to save us from saviors. Like the actual savior, this one will certainly have to possess a "mandate from heaven," which means to say that he or she will have to be a vibhuti, or man or woman with an evolutionary mission. Even the secular savior must first face the challenge of being strangled in their crib. They must face down Death itself as a preparation for what they will face later, which will be like Death fractured into a million images in a hall of TV monitors, cable stations, newspapers, elite universities, and know-nothing bloggers. One must be able to walk calmly through that vale of Death, because it is ultimately a maze of "pure" illusion.

It is quite literally a confrontation with Death, as described, for example, in the Tibetan Book of the Dead -- which is really a Book of Life and how to get out of it alive. There we are told that upon (ego) death we will be confronted with the apparitions of every wrathful demon and every seductive illusion -- and leftism is nothing if not a seductive illusion. "If the soul is able to perceive the identity between its innate luminosity and the great light of reality, then liberation is achieved" (Perry).

This is why the true conservative leader must be religious in the deepest sense, because only a religious person with the protection of grace will be able to walk calmly through this gauntlet. Could you do it? Face down the kind of hatred and viciousness we are seeing, while remaining in your Center?

Whoever it is will be sorely tested, not just by the left, but by the demonic energy they embody. You will note that their energy is chaotic, disorganized, hysterical, shrill, bullying, harassing, disorienting, intoxicated, "over the top." The only way to make one's way through this storm of insanity is with divine assistance. There is no other way. One must surrender to the higher in order to master the lower.

As always, it all comes back to Batman, doesn't it? Remember his training with the League of Shadows, when he had to walk through the gauntlet of the ninjas, all poised to attack at any moment? At the end is a treasure chest overflowing with -- his worst fear. Only then, by calmly facing the fear, is the fear transformed into a gift, and he become more than a man. Thus, his fear really is a kind of priceless treasure. The demons serve an evolutionary purpose -- up to a point.

Bruce Wayne takes the primordial fear and chaos of the underworld -- represented by the bats -- and internalizes them to his benefit. The fear still exists, only now he contains it, rather than vice versa. In so doing, he not only masters these demonic forces, but marshals them to his advantage. I have no idea why conservatives do not do the same thing with the hellbats represented by the liberal media. When is someone going to aggressively, relentlessly, and unapologetically shove it back in their hideous faces? When is someone going to take those projections, which are vomited from hell like so many bats, and use the material to assemble an ontological pneutron bomb, which disperses liberals like sunlight on a vampire but leaves our institutions standing?

It is no coincidence that Batman operates out of the subterranean cave beneath civilization, symbolized by Wayne Manor. Not only is he comfortable down in hell, but the very foundations of the mansion are plunged deep into the cavern below. This is a key point: your own evolution will continue to slide back down if you do not have your spiritual foundation planted deep beneath your "southeast corner." I don't care how beautiful your mansion, if it doesn't have a kind of continuity with the darkness below, it won't survive the coming birthquake. Not for nothing does Holy Saturday precede Easter Sunday.

Remember the image of the advancing army: you had better have the space below occupied by your troops before you try to advance above. Furthermore, you had better maintain a continuous line of communication. The last thing you want to happen is for your luxpeditionary force to get stranded above, cut off from the supply line. Your growth must be organic, which is to say, internally related on all levels, with no gaps. Most of all it must be embodied and lived.

Hmm, just received a delightfully over-the-top email from a curious reader. I think you know by now that your Dear Leader is not only unsusceptible to flattery, but even offended by it, so you will forgive its extravagant praise of the almighty B'ob. It's just the reader's own energy externalized, anyway. Or, he is just sharing a joke at his expense. Either way, the real superhero is in the heart:

"What in the holy name of Creation are you doing, my good sir? I am sincerely perplexed at the nature of your blog, the complexity of your mind, and the tenacity of your wit, all of which far exceed my abilities of comprehension -- most of the time, anyway.

"Your book and blog have served me a great deal in letting go of my identification with the insanity of unadulterated liberalism, and, more importantly, helped me recognize the impersonal nature of all thought forms as they arise in the vast expanse of my awareness. Nonetheless, I can't seem to grasp from a larger perspective the purpose you serve by playing the role of 'Gagdad Bob,' which I can only assume leaves you with more hate mail than the Vatican after that glorious run of molestation charges earlier this decade.

"Please, let me in on the secret! What is it in my psyche that draws me back to a blog that is such a severe combination of consciousness-tones that it can only remind one of Rachmaninoff orchestrating a piece while under the influence of LSD after spending three months locked in a cell with J. Edgar Hoover, Molly Ringwald, Pat Buchanan, and Mother Theresa? The blog is funny, frightening, poetic, genius, and above all, ballsy. What drives it?"

Easy. I'm the B'atman. And so are you, or you wouldn't be here.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Obama and the Shadows of Things that Might Be

This morning I had a great idea. What's your great idea, Bob? I know! Instead of reposting just one Oldie, I can combine the multi-parters, delete a few at a time, and that way slowly get the arkive under control! As it is, it's like trying to control the national debt, which, if it grows more slowly, is considered "success." I'd love to get the arkive down to about a thousand, but it just keeps growing.

But it's not going to start today. Several things caught my attention. First, a comment by Magnus. Actually, all of his comments catch my attention, but this is the most recent one. In response to the back-and-forth yesterday about my ghastly tendency to mix religion and politics, he wrote the following:

'Yes, perhaps the day to day politics are to those "further along the path" as a shadow play on a surface, and they can see the far more "concrete" (or real) things that cast these shadows. And perhaps they don't really react to what is happening right now, but to what will be happening deep into the future. Changing what happens today would take an immense energy, but the further ahead you see, the more it is within your power to change with a small push at precisely the right time and the right place.'

What a provocative thought. Furthermore, it has the virtue of being true, for we do indeed see the shadows of deeper principles in the realm of mundane politics. This is no doubt what Paul had in mind when he made that wise crack about not struggling against flesh and blood, but anti-divine powers and principalities of darkness and all-around naughtiness. (While looking up the Biblical passage I stumbled upon this piece by Gil Bailie. I haven't read it yet, but it looks relevant, and he is always worth reading, cf. Violence Unveiled: Humanity at the Crossroads.)

Next, I skimmed this article on The Trouble With Obama, which makes the point that his precipitous decline is not due just to the usual predictable factors, but because so much illusion and outright fantasy had been projected into him to begin with. A commenter remarked that "The trouble with Obama is that he is doing exactly what the conservatives said he would do and the people that voted for him hate to admit that the conservatives were right. What did they expect from someone whose book was ghostwritten by Bill Ayers and sat in Rev. Wright's church for all those years?"

In other words, independents and relatively sane Democrats are only now seeing with their own two eyes what you and I saw last year with our own three eyes. As Magnus suggests, we were visited by the Ghosts of Presidents Past and Future, and shown both the things that were and those that "might be" should we fail to adjust course. Which is why for us, this is deja vu all over again. It's just a matter of reading the signs and posters of the times.

The following post from a year ago touches on these themes, and gives me an opportunity to expand and deepen where necessary:

Just as it is possible for a person to lose the grace, so too can a nation; in other words -- or symbols -- no (↑), no (↓). With an Obama presidency, we will find out what this will be like. It may well turn out to be as his spiritual mentor, Reverend Wright says: God damn America!

And why not? If we abandon any pretense of spiritual ideals, it is not God who will damn America. Rather, we'll do it ourselves. I'm pretty sure we'll discover what it felt like to be a Christian living in Rome, as the barbarian hordes were about to put an end to that world (which at the time was "the" world).

I am especially concerned about the catastrophe of Obama potentially nominating three Supreme Court justices before a filibuster-proof senate. This will have the effect of radically remaking America for good (which is to say, bad). There will be no turning back. For generations to come, we will live under a judicial tyranny in which a few leftist ideologues get to decide what they want the Constitution to mean. The rule of men all over again, just as the left likes it.

The redefinition of marriage will be a done deal. The ludicrous Roe v. Wade will not only stand, but be extended. State mandated racial discrimination will certainly become further entrenched. More civil rights for terrorists. More restrictions on religion, weakening of the second amendment, more attacks on the Boy Scouts, the return of the Fairness Doctrine (it's latest iteration talks about imposing subjective "community standards" in order to rid the airwaves of national programs such as Rush Limbaugh), and with it, the end of meaningful free speech, at least as far as conservatives are concerned. No Rush Limbaugh unless Randi Rhodes gets equal time. Can you imagine? I am sure that our judicial masters would find a way to make school vouchers unconstitutional, meaning that there is no hope for real reform of the educational establishment, especially for urban blacks and others condemned to being ground up in the liberal education machine.

I suppose that this is the one eventuality that could finally convince me of the truth of the traditionalists' belief in a cyclically winding down cosmos. It's difficult to see how we could turn things around and return to the liberal ideals of the Founders.

Because we've recently been talking about it, I've got my copy of Meditations on the Tarot handy. Perhaps I can thumb through it and look for some kind of guidance. Hmm, let's see, which card should we examine -- The Emperor? The World? The Tower of Destruction? The Hanged Man? Death?

Yes, probably in that order. Also the Hermit card, because that is what the Raccoon will be reduced to -- just a part of the spiritual remnant of a bygone time. We'll keep the light on for the last remaining few.

I'm looking at the Emperor card, and right at the outset you see what a disaster Obama is, for UF reminds us that a person is endowed with genuine authority as a result of knowledge, action, or being. In short, one must know something, be something, or be capable of something. The latter reduces to knowledge-in-action, while genuine knowledge reduces to being, so ultimately genuine authority resides in the realm of Being -- or is an extension of it. We know real authority when we see it, because it radiates from the person. A spiritually normal person would be "convicted" merely by being in the presence of such a one.

Now, what of Obama? Having been the victim of the finest education the left has to offer, he obviously knows nothing. To put it another way, he knows a great deal, all of it kooky at best. And he has accomplished nothing, unless you consider his work with the child sex-slave front-group, ACORN, to have been an achievement. Therefore, his support appears very much to reside in the dimension of being. He is the One. He will Heal the Nation. He will Change things. He gives us Hope. He's just.... special.

So right away we see that Obama represents the projection and embodiment of deeply religious impulses, only deeply irrational (as opposed to transrational). To put it another way, anyone with a speck of spiritual discernment is not only immune to Obama's attraction, but is repelled by such a man. He is full of phony authority on every level, but it's not just an "absence," but the positive presence of a negation. In other words, Obama does not just embody the emptiness of ignorance, but the fullness of lies, i.e., (-k). Worse yet, in his luciferic spirituality, he embodies a (-¶) that makes him a kind of counterfeit holy man in the cheesy mold of Deepak Chopra, Tony Robbins, and other "divine salesmen" from whom Bob Dobbs -- who is thesis to their antithesis -- saves the elect --->

Unfortunately, "satanic" has become a loaded word, but I have a precise definition in mind. That is, it represents the inversion of spiritual values as opposed to their mere opposition, which would be luciferic. For example, to redefine marriage is explicitly satanic, for it is to overturn the very order of the cosmos in its vertical sense.

Here, I'll tell you a little story. We recently lost a couple more dear friend of 25 years because we are not leftists. It came as a shock, because we rarely even discussed politics with these two. Now interestingly, not only are these people irreligious, but they are overtly hostile to religion. Furthermore, they are intensely pro-Obama, to such an extent that they are actually more worried about him losing the election than I am of him winning it.

It is a truism that the irreligious person merely displaces his religious impulses onto another plane. We all know that. The danger arises because the religious impulse is then detached from tradition, which is to say, the accumulated wisdom and authorized channels of the divine-human partnership, and proceeds to run wild. It tends to merge with either the id (the vital being) or the primitive superego (the punitive conscience), which, one way or the other, results in destruction: destruction of truth, of discernment, of morality, and even of the higher planes themselves. To be precise, these planes don't go anywhere, as they are permanent features of the cosmos. It is just that human beings can no longer recognize them, and are proud of the fact. But again, they will still have the underlying "spiritual impulse," only now fully secularized. It will go anywhere but "up."

Now, this couple to whom I refer are quite rational and sophisticated. Among other things, they raised their children to believe that there is no distinction between men and women, homosexual and heterosexual. They did not inculcate them with proper gender roles, or give them any expectations of what and who they are in terms of gender. Rather, the opposite: you may be straight. You may be gay. You'll find out later in life. And we don't care anyway.

In my opinion, this represents spiritual child abuse, pure and simple. For one thing, you are cementing a kind of primitive sexual confusion in your child's mind, when they desperately need guidance and boundaries in this area. Jewish tradition probably has the most wisdom in these matters, as it is very aware of the issue of order emerging from chaos, which is the primary divine act that we are all called upon to imitate. Like the primordial chaos out of which God forms the creation, sexuality is a kind of chaotic swamp that human beings are called upon to spiritualize, divinize, and sanctify. And the prerequisite for this is honoring the distinctions between the sexes. This is why, for example, it is a sin for a Jewish person to cross dress. It has nothing whatsoever to do with prudery. To the contrary, if anything, it heightens erotic awareness. I know I don't want to live in the creepy leftist world of feminized men and masculinized women.

So anyway, this couple's daughter just went away to college, and guess what? She's "gay." Yes, she announced to her parents that she is now a lesbian. Like good liberals, they believe that sexuality is simultaneously fixed and yet "just anything." As far as I know, there's not a shred of reliable scientific evidence that lesbianism is genetically determined, and I am quite sure that this girl isn't a "lesbian." But more to the point, this poor girl is just living out the implications of her confused psychosexual programming. Probably, like most adolescents, she just has a lot of anxiety around sexuality, only heightened in her case, because her parents -- and now the culture as well -- imbued her with no guidance and no gender role. This may make the parents less anxious, but only makes the children more so.

One more point. These friends are unconsciously depressed and disappointed by their daughter's announcement, as any normal person would be. But one of the dreadful things about political correctness is that one must pretend not to feel what one feels in order be something other than who one is (which is not being at all). Therefore, they must consciously "support" or even "celebrate" their daughter's announcement, while unconsciously being deeply disappointed. So guess what? They are the victims of a rabid case of Palin Hysteria. In fact, the deal breaker with Leslie was that she admires Sarah Palin: "What? How could you? How could you support a person who hates gays? I don't think we can be friends anymore."

First project your unconscious impulses; then run away from your projections. That's all it is.

But again, I want to make a wider point, and that is the dreadful effect of the narcissistic boomer (m)ethos on subsequent generations. It is bad enough what the boomers have already done to this country, but worse yet that they have infiltrated virtually all the nation's institutions, so that their pathological memes will survive them for generations, in the Supreme Court, the educational establishment, the media, etc.

Back to the Emperor. UF makes the point that the Emperor rules as a result of his intrinsic authority. Here again, the left has successfully eroded the concept of intrinsic spiritual authority, which is one of the reasons they cannot be humbled or shamed by a superior person. Or, to turn it around, one can only be shamed if one acknowledges people and standards superior to oneself. For example I always feel humbled when Magnus strides into this place.

UF writes that "God governs the world by authority, and not by force." As a result, as God loses his authority, that vertical authority must be displaced to the horizontal. In other words, when people stop being good because they wish to live their lives in conformity to a divine ideal, that is the end of progressive freedom. Freedom is only useful to the extent that we are free to know truth and act with virtue.

But again, to abolish the divine planes is to do away with the sufficient reason for freedom,which then becomes mere license. More to the point, it lines up with what the existentialists said, that man's freedom becomes indistinguishable from "nothingness," being that we have no spiritual essence with which to conform.

Therefore, the state must literally come in to fill that void and replace God. And thereby abolish man. And slack.

No soup for you, grandma!!!

Friday, September 25, 2009

On Evolving All the Way Down and In

Another reworked replay from a daze gone by. Sorry about the length, but I have no say in that. I don't think there are any wasted words. Besides, you have 24 hours to read it.

O Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart. Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling and scatter there Thy cheerful beams. --Augustine

When the divine descent occurs, it's a little like putting seasoning into a pot of soup. Or maybe prozac into a skull full of neurons. That is, when you sprinkle salt into the soup, you can't just affect the beans but not the meat. Likewise, when you sprinkle an SSRI into a brain, it gets into everything, which is why the effects are nonlinear and unpredictable in their details. Also, it takes a while for the spices -- or the prozac -- or God -- to penetrate and macerate into the substance.

In the case of an SSRI, it often takes a month or more just to reach its full biological effect. But then the person begins engaging in more functional activities, which in turn feed back into the system. In other words, the SSRI has both direct and indirect effects. This reminds me of how the divine descent causes various changes in behavior, which in turn have their own effect on the being. This is why, while it is true that religious people outlive the irreligious, it's impossible to disentangle all of the variables that go into it, since belief in God causes demonstrable changes in behavior, not just thoughts and emotions. Besides, who could ever measure and quantify the biological benefits of peace, joy, certitude, calmness, Oly Slack, etc?

It's one thing to have one of those (?!) moments, another thing entirely for it to saturate your psychic substance and lead to a genuine and lasting transformation. In fact, Sri Aurobindo felt that it was necessary for the divine descent to literally penetrate all the way "down" to the cells, which are -- because they are the closest to the border of the material inconscient, or the outer edge of the divine involution -- the most resistant to the descent. I have long felt -- of course, I could be wrong about this -- that the transfiguration of Jesus is an esoteric account of the divine Light penetrating all the way to the cells, so that the person becomes overwhelmingly "luminous." Likewise, I remember reading a forensically compelling book on the Shroud of Turin that speculated that the source of the pattern on the shroud was from this same Light.

It's as if matter itself has a kind of proud -- or stubborn, anyway -- independence from God. Which I suppose it must, because there must be something that fundamentally "resists" God in order for there to be a creation at all -- just as an artist cannot make a sculpture out of water, only a hard and resistant substance that "fights against" him. Or, as Will ventured in a comment,

"I think it helps to remember that we are supposed to face challenges, oppositional forces. Might as well see yourself as a mythic Odysseus trying to get back home because that's exactly what you are -- a mythic hero in the making. Of course, the Creator could have eliminated the need for challenges, in which case we'd all be inert, semi-conscious flotsam."

Which makes a lot of sense. For example, it is relatively easy for an adequately intelligent and sincere person to accept religion with the mind, the latter of which (mind) being the most recent evolutionary advance (or descent). However, the vital mind is obviously more ancient and more resistant. This is the "emotional brain" which harbors all sorts of mind parasites that wish to go on being -- anger, envy, resentment, narcissism, and various other passions. It reminds me of those bizarre sea creatures that live in the lightless depths of the ocean.

Whereas the mind can be converted rather quickly, it takes much longer for the descent to transform the vital emotions. Thus, a lot of people who might be considered "religious hypocrites" are really just people in whom the descent has not penetrated all the way down to the vital. Which is why Augustine wrote that "complete abstinence is easier than perfect moderation." Rather than doing the hard work of transforming the vital, these people try to shun it altogether. It's like trying to build algebra while rejecting math. Once again Augustine was on the case, asking, "Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility."

Which raises an interesting point, in that for most people who cannot accept God, it is not because of the mind proper, but because of the vital mind. Almost always, you will have noticed that they are afflicted by pride, or resentment, or superiority, or anger, or some other petty emotion that prevents them from surrendering to and assimilating truth. All of those scientistic types who pretend that they are just too intellectually humble to accept religion are actually far too proud. The atheist actually does have an absolute: his own ego, which will submit to nothing higher. It is just rebellion and idolatry in disguise, a refusal to submit to the Adam smasher of humility in the face of the Absolute. For once you intuit the Absolute, humility is the only option. It is as natural as the urge to dump a bag of manure on Bill Maher.

It is not the properly rational man who rejects God, but the passional man who, as Perry notes, inevitably gravitates either toward fanaticism or relativism. We know all about the religious fanatics, since the shrill and fanatical relativists of the left never stop talking about them. But as is becoming more evident by the moment, the unhinged relativism of a Queeg is every bit as fanatical as that of the fanciful creationist who supposedly believes that dinosaurs are "Jesus ponies." Has the Catholic church ever excommunicated heretics as rapidly as Queeg?

The point is, everywhere people are people. As Dupree's drunken and malodorous Pappy used to say, "folks is folks." The main difference between the religious and the Darwinian fundamentalist is that the latter is more consumed by pride and self-interest. Metaphysical Darwinism is largely a Trojan hearse to smuggle in an atheistic culture of death, which in turn justifies and excuses the vital man's failings and transgressions. By rejecting the Absolute he abolishes the need to transcends himself, and therefore the need to become human. No one should be surprised at the increase in human beastlings who have taken over virtually every institution and profession. They've certainly taken over mine. I would no sooner join the American Psychological Association than the Man Boy Love Association.

Let's talk for a moment about the vital mind. Consider what goes on in psychoanalytic psychotherapy. In a sense, it is aimed at trying to penetrate the darkness of the vital with the light of mind (not the Mind of Light, mind you) -- trying to illuminate and gain insight into unconscious conflicts, or to "make the unconscious conscious." But mere insight is never sufficient, as it will represent nothing more than what is called "intellectualization," which is just another defense mechanism. Rather, therapist and patient must engage in what is called working through, so that the insight is not merely "mental," but really descends "all the way down" to the bones, so to speak, and transforms the problem (or one's relationship to it). This is why real growth is so much more than merely reading a book about psychology.

But isn't it the same with religion? Isn't the essence of a spiritual practice to bring the divine descent further "down and in," and to bring about a deep transformation, not just a surface one? Isn't a genuine saint someone who has been fully (so to speak) transformed by the descent? Isn't this why these fleshlights glow in the dark? Stories abound of the incorruptible nature of the saint's body upon their demise, as if something happened to the very structure of the cells.

In a letter to a disciple, Sri Aurobindo wrote that "the very first step in getting out of the ignorance is to accept the fact that this outer consciousness is not one's soul, not oneself, not the real person, but only a temporary formation on the surface.... the outer personality is the person only in the sense of the Latin word persona which meant originally a mask." It is but a "small and diminished representation of our secret greater existence."

The problem is, much of this greater existence is not yet conscious and individualized; it is consciousness, but it has not been colonized, so to speak, by the conscious mind. But as one advances spiritually, "one begins to live more and more in the inner being, while the outer becomes more and more superficial. At first the inner consciousness seems to be the dream and the outer the waking reality. Afterwards, the inner consciousness becomes the reality and the outer is felt by many as a dream or a delusion, or else as something superficial and external." Isn't that right? Isn't that the problem with the left, that their dream is as solid and impenetrable as rock? Furthermore, they are proud of their ignorance, so where does one begin?

I never watch TV news, but yesterday I was in the presence of one of those big brother CNN monitors, and I was jarred by what I heard, as if a sick dream were suddenly being violently imposed upon reality. It was about the vital news that a worthless drug addict rock star had had sexual relations with his worthless drug addict daughter. Why must we know this?

What did Van say the other day about the world of poetry and myth beginning to look like a more exact and precise account of reality? The shock of recognition in one of van Gogh's visionary paintings is just that -- a recognition that no mere photo could ever accomplish, since the photographic reality is a declension from the Real, whereas the true artist is attempting to represent the Real, or to infuse the canvas with its noetic light.

This is also why a droning intellectual pinhead is so boring compared to the vivid language of a Jesus or Lao Tsu, since the language of the latter is always infused with being and light, of which the words are mere vehicles. To believe in the fantasy of metaphysical Darwinism is to believe that the Soviet realist painting is superior to the gifted impressionist's, or that muzak is superior to jazz, since the former follows the strict outline of the melody more closely. I'm sure no one has failed to notice the spiritual deadness of our most recent troll's language. He never stops teaching us about the reality of the Logos, does he?

Now, the vital mind is not wholly negative. Furthermore, in the overall cosmic scheme of things it must exist, as it is the human analogue of the rajasic or horizontally expansive and passional modality. Passional types have their role to play -- they can be dreamers, crusaders, explorers, men of vision and action.

People who think of Obama as somehow "intellectual" are quite in error. Rather, as is true of most leftists, he is quite dominantly vital, with very little light of intelligence. Thus, the vague and impotent dreams of unity and change. He represents the "vital dream" par excellence, but with almost no practicality or wisdom. Far from sophisticated, he is naive, sentimental, vain, petulant, and childish -- qualities which are again the underside of the cynical sophisticates of the left. This is why Air America or Andrew Sullivan or the New York Times idiotorial board are in a permanent state of tantrum. Intellect that is detached from the divine plane easily descends into childish anger, hysteria, or sentimentality. This is why the left "fell in love" with Obama, as they were merely duped by their own unredeemed vital mind.

There is no doctrinaire leftist who is not inordinately proud of his own mind. And yet, why would such mediocrities be so proud of what the spiritually normal person would be ashamed to display in public? Another way of asking it is, what is the source of their unwarranted self-confidence? One thing that comes to mind is the absence of shame, which creates the false impression of self-confidence. A shameless person is also a corrupt and unscrupulous person, because he has gotten his confidence on the cheap by merely disabling the conscience (which connects directly to the divine plane, and is even a "portion of divinity" within).

This is something I noticed as long ago as adolescence, except I didn't have the words for it. In fact, I suppose I was even painfully envious of these cluelessly confident types, but now, in hindsight, I can clearly see that if I had possessed that kind of "self-confidence," I would be dead today. The absence of that type of hubris was definitely a divine mercy. Rather, it has specifically been my own lack of complacent self-satisfaction that spurred the charge inward and upward. There has never been a point at which I have been satisfied with the status quo, or when I have excused myself from the responsibility to evolve. Let me emphasize that this has nothing to do with "learning more" but being more. (I am oversimplifying, because there is another part of ourselves that must simultaneously be fully satisfied with present being, but that is a topic for another post.)

The point is, God doesn't give you what you want, but what you need, in particular, what you need in order to evolve and grow spiritually. If the left had their way, they would eliminate redemptive suffering from the cosmos. No wonder then that leftism is a philosophy of stupidity, since it is entirely based upon what these spiritually barren and alienated people selfishly want with the vital mind, of which one can never get enough. In rejecting God, they necessarily become the infrahuman party, and thereby do the adversary's heavy lifting.

When the powers of any grade descend completely into us, it is not only our thought and knowledge that are affected, -- the substance and very grain of our being and consciousness, all its states and activities are touched and penetrated and can be remoulded and wholly transmuted. Each stage of this ascent is therefore a general, if not total, conversion of the being into a new light and power of greater existence. --Sri Aurobindo

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Don't Let the Darwinists Steal Your Launch Monkey

I'm going through one of those phases in which I'm sick of hearing myself think. Similar, I suppose, to how a troll must feel, except that the troll is powerless to disengage from my thoughts. Queer.

It's not an unpleasant sensation. Far from it. In fact, I enjoy going through the arkive and rewriting an old post. It's a totally different experience. I think I mentioned that when I wrote the book, I went through lengthy cycles of "reception" and "trancemission," or planting and harvesting. For reasons that should be soph-evident, it was very difficult to harvest during planting season.

But since then, it's been like one long harvest. I never assume the harvest will continue, and I keep waiting for it to stop, but I don't make up the rules. I think I might actually be in one of those temporal fractals related to Terence McKenna's Whiteheadian idea about the ingression of novelty into the cosmos.

Should I even try to explain that bit of mystagoguery? Let's just say that, like the weather, there are a multitude of cyclic temporal patterns in the psyche, and when they all align at once, you hit the slackpot.

There he goes again, trying to write a new post when I didn't intend to! Here's an updated one from last year:

Let's call the Darwinists' bluff and find out who really believes in evolution, them or us. Time to separate the men from the bonobos, the chimps from the champs, the Overman from the Olbermann.

Although I'll largely discuss this in Aurobindean terms, I obviously believe we're talking about universal principles, so I don't think it's all that difficult to put them in a Christian context. For example, as Paul expressed it, there are the milk drinkers and the meat eaters (and he didn't even get into lactose-intolerant people such as Bill Maher or Charles the Queeg, who produce all that gas when they try to digest spirit):

"And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?"

Mere manhood. For the purposes of argument -- even though it is a priori absurd -- let us stipulate that natural selection could get you that far, i.e., from dirt to man. That being the case, how does one account for the further evolution -- which takes place in the span of a single lifetime, not eons of random errors -- into higher and more subtle planes of reality?

Paul provides a hint, noting that humans must water and till the field (↑), but that "God gives the increase" (↓). We a-spire but God in-spires (spire meaning both breath and spirit, or pneuma). Or, you could say that our every inhalation is God's exhalation (hale being related to health and wholeness; if not, it ought to be). God himself has no expiration date, as his re-spiration is the rhythm of eternity and the heartbeat of existence.

Through this eternal respiration, God's energies course through every vein, artery, and capillary of the cosmos -- unless, of course, you have hardening of the categories, or atheo-sclerosis. The latter ultimately ends in a heart attack, except that it is you who have attacked your own heart, you heartless bastard.

Now, there are two great fields of evolution, which Genesis discusses in terms of the "upper waters" and "lower waters." It doesn't really matter what you call them, so long as you understand that there is a vertical scale in creation, with a "principial" realm above (i.e., the world of immutable principles, ideas, and archetypes) and a manifested world below.

What makes man unique -- among other things -- is that he is consciously aware of living in both worlds; in a sense, he has his feet on the earth and his head in the stars, i.e., the celestial realm. There was a time that even most scientists took this for granted, but no longer. Confusing method with ontology, the materialist has his feet in the clouds and his head up his ass, proctically speaking.

As man ascends the cosmic scale of evolution, on the one hand he interiorizes, colonizes, and assimilates more and more of the higher planes; at the same time, he exteriorizes what he has assimilated, in the form of culture. In one sense, you can view culture as the debris left behind marking man's evolutionary journey -- paintings, poems, symphonies, novels, game shows, whatever.

Let's say man disappeared from the face of the earth, but all his cultural artifacts were preserved and left behind. If some interplanetary anthropologist dropped down for a visit and rummaged through our stuff, what would he think about our long, strange trip from cave paintings to space shuttle?

In Aurobindo's terminology, the purely human realm ends with Mind. The divine realm is called Supermind. But there is no -- nor could there be any -- absolute gap between Mind and Supermind, just as there can be no gap between fetus and adult or ape and man; but again, the continuity comes from above, not below.

This vertical continuity is a result of a divine descent, not a material ascent -- the latter of which is strictly impossible. Matter doesn't "ascend" anywhere, or it wouldn't be matter. But matter does have horizontal continuity, which is why it is reducible to one giant ocean of undulating energy (which is a material analogue of the Divine sea of being).

And the reason why science is even possible is because of the horizontal continuity of creation -- which is another way of saying that we live in a Cosmos, or ordered totality, that is uniform throughout. This is why we just "know" that the physical laws we discover are universal, both in time and space. This assumption of science is rooted in faith, but the faith is hardly inconsistent with Reason. Rather, like all genuine faith, this is "preconceptual knowledge," or the "unthought known" awaiting fertilization and realization; it is the great waiting-womb of the unborns.

Now, mythological rumor has it that the upper and lower hemispheres "are separated by a 'golden lid,' which in some traditions is called 'the Gate of the Sun'" (Van Vrekhem) or "the threshold of the great Raccoon den in the sky" (Toots Mondello). Furthermore, "it is on this dividing zone above Mind and below Supermind" that we find four distinct levels of further evolutionary advance. Paul lumps them all together by referring to them as the carnivorous realm of "meat," but there are naturally different grades and cuts of meat. And there are different restaurants and churches that cater to different tastes, everything from mooseburgers to filet mignon. There are even churches that can make tofu look like meat, such as the Unitarians. But they don't fool anyone.

We discussed one of these levels the other day, that is, the "higher mind," or mind of light. One of Aurobindo's central ideas was that it was necessary for human beings to evolve toward the higher mind in order to literally build an evolutionary bridge between Mind and Supermind, otherwise the gap is just too vast.

I mean, some individuals have managed to span the distance -- we call them saints and mystics -- but if increasing numbers of human beings don't begin to occupy and live out of these higher realms, I personally don't see much of a future for man. Rather, in order to survive, he must literally begin to colonize these higher zones, just as he once colonized and developed the earth. (And just as it was once necessary for man to colonize the worlds of science and reason -- and still is necessary for most cultures.)

In fact, this is one of those intrinsic distinctions between the left and the true conservative, of which there aren't all that many. The leftist believes that unredeemed man is fine the way he is, and that it is just a matter of having a powerful enough state to manipulate conditions to make everyone happy, healthy, virtuous, and rich.

That is an insult to fairy tales.

The true conservative is primarily concerned with respecting the ontological realities of which this world is a derivative copy. He is concerned with permanent, which is to say, eternal things, and a culture is only "good" to the extent that it allows the individual to freely discover and conform to these higher realities.

But the higher realms are more than just the source of absolute morality. And this ontological space again contains gradations, which it must, on pain of being unreachable by humans. As God "descends" into existence, the "ray of creation" becomes increasingly diluted, so to speak, from the celestial light to the darkness of matter. Van Vrekhem writes that

"If the Supermind is symbolized by a Sun and the lower hemisphere by an ocean, then the rays of the sun penetrate the surface of the ocean and illumine its highest layers till the water gradually becomes darker and finally completely dark." Now, the higher levels of the water represent the upper limit of mind. For example, my cyberstalking troll cannot penetrate realms beyond mind, but that is not to say that he is devoid of light. To the contrary, all light is ultimately of the Light, even the light that darkens the atheist mind! But as Aurobindo wrote, "mind is a passage, not a culmination."

The point is, the mere mind of the milk drinker -- or lost vegan -- sees "through an ocean, darkly," and must rise into the light and air above the surface. Again, this first stop toward our deustination is what we call "higher mind," or the mind of light.

If there was a time that you didn't understand my writing -- or Schuon, or Unknown friend, or any other skywalking pneumanaut -- but now you do, it's simply because you are at the very least floating your boat on the surface of the lower waters with your toes dangling above. Give yourself credit. You are no longer a big fish in a very small pond -- like a Queeg, or the tenured mediocrities of baracademia -- but a humble fish in the upper ocean of truth, light, being, and bliss. Would you -- could you! -- ever go back into those skanky, lizard infested waters? No, of course not, any more than you would want to revert to breast milk for your nutrition.

Let's talk about these upper ontological stories and storeys of the cosmos. Again, they are anterior to us, like unknown but real territories that are yet to be inhabited by more than a few. And, just like geographical territories, the borders between them are only relatively, but not ultimately, real. You can draw a distinction between California and Nevada, or fetus and adult, or San Francisco and reality, but the distinctions are obviously not absolute.

In one sense, you could say that these higher stations correspond to the physical senses, only transposed to a higher key. For example, the "higher mind" corresponds with "hearing," the "illumined mind" with "seeing." The next stage, "intuitive mind," is analogous to touching; while the last one, Overmind, would be analogous to tasting God, as in the one taste of Buddhism.

(See p. 257: "Ananda chance to sat down at the last resort and enjoy a little moksha before somarise. Sorry, menyou have only one taste. Whoops, where'd ego?")

I'm not particularly interested in writing about the upper, upper stories, the tip-toppermost of the poppermost of the cosmic eschalator, any more than I want to teach quantum physics to my four year-old. At this point in history, it is much more important that a larger number of people merely colonize the higher mind, especially in America, which must lead the way. In other parts of the world -- such as the Islamic world -- it is critical that they merely colonize the lower mind, because they've got a long way to go in that respect (there are also various levels of lower mind that are conceptualized by developmental psychologists in diverse ways).

As I discussed in the Wholly Coonifesto, one of the keys to beginning the vertical ascent is to realize what Aurobindo calls the "psychic being" behind the ego. You might say that it is our true self, or soul, that identifies with whatever level we happen to be at. It is what accounts for the continuity in our lives, despite the incredible discontinuity between child, man, and beyond. It's why you still feel like the same person even though you aren't.

The soul, which is a general principle, is individualized in man. Indeed, it is why we are individuals, or at least capable of so becoming. You might say that the psychic being is our unique soulprint, or "spiritual personality"; where soul is indistinct -- like consciousness -- the psychic being is distinct, just as consciousness as such is refracted through the lens of individual brains. The soul couldn't really evolve in the absence of the psychic being. The latter "temporalizes and individualizes what is eternal in potentiality, transcendent in essence, in this projection of the spirit." Soul is present in other animals, but only in man is it "individualized and given shape" by the psychic being.

This is why each person -- potentially, anyway -- is as unique as a snowflake; and one reason why collectivism is therefore an "ontological sin." One godly man makes a majority. In a certain very real way, each person is his own species, and therefore a unique "problem of God." Which in turn is why man is condemned to transcendence, and why he must perpetually shed himself in order to become himself. So don't let the apes steal your meat money, or you'll end up nothing but monkey meat.