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.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

God Save Us From the Liberal Do-Gooders

Don't worry, we'll be off economics soon enough. It's just that an 1128 page book slows one down a bit. Since I immerse myself in whatever I'm reading, at present I am Homo economicus. I'll get back to being Homo noeticus soon.

But again, the subject of economic liberty is such a critical one to the possibility of both personal and collective evolution, that it's worth dwelling on. Conversely, collectivism (that is, coerced vs. voluntary) spells the end of spiritual evolution. It is no coincidence whatsoever that Western Europe has reverted to godlessness, for that is what happens when God is replaced by the state. Which is why we object to the left on the basis of our values, which are eternal and non-negotiable.

By the way, I see no evidence that Mises himself was a particularly spiritual man. At times he is quite dismissive of religion, no doubt because of his personal experience with the various state religions of Europe. He was what we would now call a libertarian, not a classical liberal of the American type. Nevertheless, his critique of socialism remains timelessly true.

He traces the intellectual genealogy of the ideal, God-like state that would be both benevolent and omniscient. Obviously, such a state has never existed, and never will. But this doesn't stop leftist intellectuals from believing in it. Which is ironic the moment you think about it, because no one hates the the U.S. as much as the left, and yet, they want to transfer so much control over their lives to the state.

The only way to deal with the cognitive dissonance is to either believe in a state that has never existed, or to put one's faith in a single man, e.g. Obama, who will set things right. The central fallacy is that there exists a sufficiently virtuous and powerful man with good intentions, and who represents the interests of the "whole society" instead of just "selfish" individuals.

But Mises never attacks intentions. The problem with socialism is not the ends, which may or may not embody a beautiful sort of vision (in the sentimental, not intellectual, sense). Rather, the problem is with the means, which are strictly impossible. It requires the most omnipotent narcissism and grandiosity to believe otherwise.

For in order to plan for a future that is unknown and unknowable, the socialist director must ultimately resort to trial and error, not to any kind of empirical approach. Again, this is why Obama cannot defend his risky scheme to take over 17% of the economy, but only impute selfish or racist motivations to his opponents. This is because his only real argument comes down to "don't worry. I'm good and I know what's best for you."

This is why he also wants "the people who caused the problem" to "shut-up and get out of the way." Just as the leftist believes that an omnipotent person with good intentions can set things right, the corollary of this is that the problems were caused by malevolent people with bad intentions. As you surely know, this is why the left must smear and attack motivations; they think we are evil, whereas by and large, we merely believe they are wrong.

So the leftist believes in his heart that there is an irreconcilable conflict between "selfish individuals" and an omniscient state that presumes to speak for us all. But again, such a state has never actually existed, and when people have tried to make it exist, it has gone horribly wrong.

Why? Because the exact same scoundrels who would otherwise be harmlessly tending to their private interests are now sticking their noses into yours. And there is no risk or penalty for getting it wrong. For example, the ponzi scheme of Social Security is about to implode, but the sods responsible for it are long since beneath the sod. No doubt they went to their graves feeling good about themselves, shielded from the consequences their folly.

Socialists of the 19th century "substituted in their inquiries the image of an ideal state for the real states of their age." It's like the huge variable that makes the whole system work. Thus, if such an ideal state cannot exist, then neither can a socialism that isn't ultimately destructive to man's liberty and spiritual well-being.

Starting from the assumption of this omniscient and benevolent state, the socialist then has a basis on which to judge the actions of the "selfish" individual. This allows him to "raise the question of whether the actions of the individual citizens when left free from any authoritarian control would not develop along the lines of which this good and wise king would disapprove."

Thus comes the leftist tyranny that insinuates itself into every nook and cranny of public life, e.g., the bane of political correctness, which is a frontal assault on thoughts that are not permitted by the wise and good state.

You will have noticed that there is either no such thing as a "collective self," or else it is unknowable by anyone a priori. Rather, to the extent that it is knowable, it is only through the free actions of millions of individuals making economic choices based upon their own knowledge and values. You may not approve of what they choose, but that's the price of liberty. If the masses want junk food and TV, so be it. It's their life to either waste or fulfill. And they won't fulfill it by the state substituting and compelling their idea of "the good life." Just look at NPR and Public Television!

Am I disappointed in Man and the choices he makes? Yes I am. But what can we do about it? It doesn't take much history to understand what man is, so it comes as no surprise that he still is what he is. This is where I sharply diverge from the traditionalists, who again idealize medieval times, when everyone was a believer and spent their whole short disease- and famine-ridden life, for example, making the same shoe over and over. For traditionalists, this was "the good life."

But from the Raccoon perspective, that was not the good life, neither materially nor, more importantly, spiritually. For as we have mentioned on a number of occasions, ours is a God of liberty. Just as truth is inconceivable in the absence of free inquiry, so too is spiritual development. Actually, one cannot say impossible -- for all things are possible in God -- but not necessarily as valuable, since it was never arrived at by a free self that had to struggle with temptations that were simply unavailable in premodern times. With all due respect, I can't imagine that it was a difficult decision for a poor peasant to enter a monastery, given the options.

But imagine the spiritual force that must be present today for a young man to renounce the world and enter the priesthood! Thus, Schuon talks about this being the Kali Yuga, or what Raccoons call the Cretinaceous period. But precisely due to that fact, there are "cosmic compensations" that can speed along spiritual evolution in unprecedented ways.

In other words, it is as if God compensates for the collective degeneration by making his grace even more available to the sincere individual. In contrast, the grace that used to flow to the collective has now been replaced by the pseudo-grace that flows from the state. But if you become dependent upon that form of grace, you're a goner.

So it is only a childish illusion that the Fuhrer, or vanguard, or liberal elites, or a bunch of unaccountable czars, can embody the wishes and values of the people. Remember, since even Obama cannot read our minds and know our values, he must simply elevate "his personal value judgments to the dignity of a universally valid standard of absolute eternal values." This from a man who spent two decades in a racist and anti-American church! That being the case, can he have any insight at all into normal people who do not share those values? Thus far he hasn't even expressed any intellectual curiosity, only contempt for them.

Again, just last week, NYT idiotorialist Thomas Friedman lauded the Chinese system of authoritarian control in order to "get things done" -- specifically, to force Friedman's wacky beliefs on the rest of us. Here we see the identical fascination that the left had for the fascists of the 1930s. Nothing has changed, for this is how socialism must be, no matter how you try to conceal it. The bottom line is that personal choice is undermined and replaced by authoritarian decree.

"People frequently call socialism a religion. It is indeed the religion of self-deification." It is merely the deification of the "individual reformer's own will." But "it is nothing short of idiocy to assume that they are omniscient and infallible," no matter how lofty the intentions. "What is called a planned economy is no economy at all," only "a system for groping about in the dark.... What is called conscious planning is precisely the elimination of conscious purposive action" by individuals (Mises).

The socialist never stops to consider what will happen when the state begins to act in way of which he disapproves. But this will happen just as soon as an imperfect man fills the top spot. In other words, instantaneously. One has only to imagine our unemployed and ronery troll, Goddinpotty, having authority over us, and it is enough to chill one to the bone.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Redefinition of Liberal Act of 1933 and the Descent of Obama

A couple of posts originally undertaken two years ago that I've dug up and reexhumined in light of my current burial in the neo-classical economics of Mises and Hayek. The posts have been condensed, revised, extended, and embalmed.

The understanding that the left embodies the antithesis of liberalism is not new. For example, in the forward to Human Action (1949), Mises writes that "I employ the term 'liberal' in the sense attached to it everywhere in the nineteenth century and still today in the countries of continental Europe. This usage is imperative because there is simply no other term available to signify the great political and intellectual movement that substituted free enterprise and the market economy for the pre-capitalistic methods of production; constitutional representative government for the absolutism of kings or oligarchies; and freedom of all individuals for slavery, serfdom, and other forms of bondage."

Not only did the left steal this beautiful word, "liberal," but then went on to spoil it due to their misguided and destructive policies. So now they use another word, "progressive," but the problem is the same, since it is probably fair to say that nothing in the world has accounted for so much human progress as the implementation of classical liberal policies -- most recently in China and India, where nearly a billion people have been lifted from true poverty (not the American kind) since 1990. Prior to that, communist China was obviously a basket case, but so too was India, which was a socialist country from its inception until finally abandoning that dysfunctional approach after the end of the Cold War.

At any given point in our history, progress would have been arrested or slowed if we had adopted the illiberal collectivist policies of the left. As Mises writes, "None of the great modern inventions would have been put to use if the mentality of the pre-capitalistic era had not been thoroughly demolished by the economists. What is commonly called the 'industrial revolution' was an offspring of the ideological revolution brought about by the doctrines of the economists. The economists exploded the old tenets" that had held development in check and were deeply anti-progressive.

But things are no different today. "What is wrong with our age is precisely the widespread ignorance of the role which these policies of economic freedom played in the technological evolution of the last two hundred years." Again, the only way the mystagogic left could avoid this economic reality was to lurch into the pervasive irrationalism, emotionalism, authoritarianism, and anti-intellectualism we see today. Mises called this revolt against reason and liberty "polylogism," whereas now we call it the monocult of multiculturalism or the dreary uniformity of "diversity."

The Forgotten Man is one of the best books ever written on the Great Depression. It's written by a mainstream journalist in a very evenhanded and understated way, to such an extent that a narrow-minded leftist might even be lulled into reading it, only to realize too late that their whole worldview has vaporized. A good alternate title would have been, Everything You Think You Know is Wrong, Moonbat!

It's amazing to me that the angry left was so hysterical about President Bush using his constitutionally valid war powers in a time of war (as is Obama), when FDR explicitly usurped those powers in peace time, greatly expanding the powers of the executive and the size and intrusiveness of the federal government. And once the left gains power -- which necessarily involves diminishing your freedom -- they never give it back. Rather, we must take it back.

Of course the feces have changed, but 75 years later we're still having to deal with the same crappy ideas and policies put into place by FDR and his "brain trust." Naturally, not all of the ideas were bad, but that is purely accidental, since no one gave a thought to the long term consequences of FDR's radical experimentation with the economy.

Speaking of which, this was also the first time professional "intellectuals" played a dominant role in a president's policy making, to the detriment of us all. In science or business, bad ideas are quickly eliminated, but in government and academia, the beloved abstraction of some tenured pinhead can live on forever -- for example, price supports for farmers, i.e., paying them to grow fewer crops in order to keep prices artificially high, or giviing grants to self-styled artists to produce pro-statist propaganda. Those are just two of hundreds of leftist ideas that seem impossible to eradicate. Or even discuss.

Instead of dealing in reality, the left habitually deals in myth and image, and there is no bigger myth than the idea that FDR rescued the economy from the Great Depression. To the contrary, it is now well understood by mainstream economists that his economic acumen was essentially nil, and that he aggravated the Depression at every turn, causing it to last many years longer than it otherwise would have.

Five years after FDR took office, we were in the midst of a "depression within a depression," with unemployment at 17.4%. The Dow didn't return to pre-Depression levels until the mid-1950s. "Washington had already made thousands of efforts to help the economy," writes Shlaes, "yet those efforts had not brought prosperity."

I remember learning in school that the Wall Street crash of 1929 was central to the length and depth of the Depression, but this isn't true at all, and simply plays into leftist mythology. I remember even learning about it in the moralizing terms with which the left approves -- that the crash was caused by "greed," i.e., buying stocks on margin, and speculating on the market with no understanding of the underlying economic fundamentals. That part is true enough, just as it was true with the tech bubble of the 1990s and the real estate bubble of 2008. And when this happens, economic reality returns in the form of a market "correction."

But the correction was not the disaster it is made out to be. Much worse was what came after, in the government's repeated attempts to cure the problems created by the economy's own auto-regulation. In hindsight, it's perhaps easy to unfairly apportion too much blame to FDR for the disastrous economic policies he put into place, since we know so much more about economics today than anyone did back then, just as it's hard to blame medical doctors in the 1930s for knowing so much less about medicine than we do today.

True, there's usually no need to assign malevolent motives for something that is more easily explained by stupidity or ignorance. But while FDR displayed plenty of economic ignorance, I was actually surprised at how much sheer malevolence he engaged in as well -- or at best, transparent power politics. So much of what he did was about power and political advantage, which is one of the reasons his policies were so incoherent and at times contradictory. Mainly, he wanted to create the perception that he was doing something, which is an advantage that leftists have had ever since FDR, since doing nothing is always preferable to doing the wrong something, but it's a much tougher sell. It's one of the main reasons it's difficult for a real conservative to get elected, since a gargantuan state capable of bestowing favors creates an intrinsically corrupt system of incentives.

At the time FDR took office, the federal government was so small -- smaller than many state and local goverments -- that it couldn't do what it does today, which is to essentially bribe this or that constituency in order to maintain and expand its power. But in his second inaugural address, Roosevelt said that he was seeking "unimagined power" -- ironically, the kind of real power that the paranoid left fantasized President Bush was seeking! The word "fascist" is routinely thrown out by the left, but one thing a fascist cannot be is a small-government liberal (which, of course, President Bush was not).

This has been the leftist strategy ever since FDR, and is the reason why the left does not consist of ideas but merely interest groups and emotional appeals. It's difficult for a true conservative to compete in such a climate, since his only promises are his ideas and ideals, including the idea that he will stop giving interest groups free stuff if they vote for him, and the ideal that people should be more self-reliant and not expect government to bail them out.

"Roosevelt systematized interest-group politics more generally to include many constituencies -- labor, senior citizens, farmers, union workers [and, one might add, southern racists]. The president made groups where only individual citizens or isolated cranks had stood before, ministered to those groups, and was rewarded for it with votes." Roosevelt "believed in a future of scarcity.... Growth would not provide for the poor; only redistribution could." It is no coincidence that 1936 was the first peace-time year that federal spending surpassed that of local governments. That's a lot of bribes to pay out. The recent Porkulus monstrosity proves that nothing's changed.

Roosevelt also vilified the wealthy and blamed the Depression on them, using the type of demagogic language one might hear from or Air America. "The Depression, FDR said, was the result of 'lack of honor of men in high places' and 'crooks.' More generally he assigned blame to a moral fault: national greed." Jimmy Carter, anyone?

Shlaes explains that the "annihilating event" that kept the depression going was deflation, and that FDR repeatedly acted in such a way as to make the deflation worse -- by contracting the money supply, by raising taxes, and by engaging in an economic jihad against those with capital to invest in the economy. Plus, by acting in such an arbitrary, dictatorial, and essentially lawless manner, investment capital naturally flowed away from the economy, since investors always want predictability. Why invest today if you have no idea what new radical experiment FDR is going to try tomorrow, say, raising corporate taxes to 90%? Many investors hoped to simply "wait out" Roosevelt until a more favorable business climate existed.

Roosevelt fundamentally distrusted the stock market and underestimated the ability of the economy to right itself, in the manner of every leftist since: he "cared little for constitutional niceties and believed they blocked progress. His remedies were on a greater scale and often inspired by socialist or fascist models abroad." He believed that recovery "could be achieved only through a large, military-style effort." Many factors contributed to the Depression, but "the deepest problem was the intervention, the lack of faith in the marketplace." Remarkably, his favorable view of the Soviet Union was validated "nearly daily in the New York Times by the paper's Walter Duranty." The more things change...

Massive new institutions such as the National Recovery Administration "frightened away capital, and they discouraged employers from hiring workers." The laws he signed were so broad that no one knew how he would interpret them. Ironically, for someone who said "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself," his "commitment to experimentation itself created fear" -- "not merely the new policies that were implemented but also the threat of additional, unknown, policies. Fear froze the economy..."

Again, one of Roosevelt's most profound changes had to do with the redefinition of liberalism: "Before the 1930s, the word 'liberal' stood for individual; afterward, the phrase increasingly stood for groups."

Leftism will always be with us, because it is not so much an ideology as a sort of pathological seed planted in the heart of man. In my opinion, it truly is a genetic condition, as it is a reflection of the primitive economic system that prevailed in the archaic environment in which man's genome was selected. That primitive zero-sum worldview is based upon group solidarity, scarcity, stasis, and envy, whereas the non-genetic ideals of classical liberalism are based upon enlightened self-interest, economic progress, unlimited wealth, and ignoring the primitive envy of our most childish citizens, since it can never be appeased anyway.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Unexamined Post is Not Worth Writing

Well friends, it just done got too late to come up with a whole new post, so I'm republishing this one, which is sort of a continuation of the themes brought out in the last two.

I don't know about you, but I really don't mind the stale bobservations, because I'm always surprised at what's in 'em. It's as if it's my first opportunity to actually read them, i.e., to view them as an object external to me. It's like what that clever feller said about learnin': the only new thing is the history you don't know.

I've never really thunk on it before, but I can't really "see" 'em when they're a-comin' out my melon. I suppose it's analogous to the difference between dreaming and then interpreting the dream. If you don't interpret it -- or at least ponder over it -- or dwell in it for a spell -- it's just "gone," as if it never happened. I guess you might say the unexamined post ain't worth a-writin'....

A link was wanting between two craving parts of Nature and he was hurled into being as the bridge over that yawning need. --Emerson

Placed on the borders of Time and Eternity, he holds himself somehow erect at the horizon of nature.... Spiritual perfection is his true nature. --Giordano Bruno

Each man ought to say to himself, "I was the creator, may I become again what I was." --Upanishads

Due to the Creator's involution, the creation is truly a bridge to nowhere, that is, in its descending mode into relativity. However, for that very reason, it is also a meandering bridge to.... one cannot say precisely where, because that implies some sort of horizontal destination. Rather, the creation is an ascending bridge from nowhere to nothing, nothing being understood as the apophatic God beyond our comprehension, or the light so blinding that it looks like darkness.

Which reminds me. Future Leader loves to play a game in which we "hide from Mommy" while she's out walking the dog. When she returns, she pretends to not be able to find us, which has the effect of ratcheting up the tension in Future Leader's mind as in a horror movie. Anyway, we were hiding in the dark under the blankets, and he shrieked, "I can't see my eyes!"

So if you are one of those scientistic Darwinian fundamentalists living in metaphysical darkness, the first thing to locate is your eyes. No, not the evolved eyes, but the uncreated eye of spirit that knows truth and not opinion, i.e., your vision. Or, as Schopenhauer observed, "The experimental sciences, when one occupies oneself with them for their own sake, studying them without any philosophical aim, are like a face without eyes. They then represent one of those occupations suitable to middling capacities devoid of the supreme gifts which would only be obstacles to their minute researches."

It's a matter of soul vs. spirit, or psyche vs. pneuma. When our childish troll hides beneath his metaphysical blanket and cries, "I can't see my third eye!," he's obviously referring to the latter: "With his soul (psyche) man engages in scientific or philosophical inquiry, analyzing the data of his sense-experience by means of discursive reason" (Ware). But if this were the extent of man's intellectual capacities, we would be no different from any other tenured beast wallowing around in his filthy pen of absolute relativism and amoral moralism.

Rather, "With his spirit (pneuma), which is sometimes termed nous or spiritual intellect, he understands eternal truth about God, or about the logoi or inner essences of created things, not through deductive reasoning, but by direct spiritual apprehension or spiritual perception." And it would be a shame if man were to look at scripture, of all things, with the eyes of the psyche instead of pneuma, for then he is fundamentally no different than the Darwinist who chucks his nous and looks at the creation with his beady lizard eyes, seeing only surfaces.

Again, let others argue over whether natural selection could have resulted in something as fantastically complex as the eye. But argue with no one who believes it could have resulted in something as fantastically simple as a transcendental eye that has the ability to see the celestial light that radiates through, and shimmers upon, the surface of being.

As JB would say, take us to the bridge: "All creatures are balanced upon the creative word of God, as if upon a bridge of diamond; above them is the abyss of divine infinitude, below them that of their own nothingness" (Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow, quoted in Ware).

What does that wise crack remind me of, aside from the soul power and cosmic funkmanship of James Brown? Oh yes, p. 89: Wandering along the precipice of non-being, one side down and back into dark death and material dissolution, the other side up and beyond, into more subtle regions of Mind and Spirit:

Perhaps the worst thing about a modern education is that it teaches only about surfaces, never the Depths, as if the latter do not exist and are not the soul's proper environment. This is because of our unwise founders, who created a constitution which mandates a "wall of separation" between surface and depth, and therefore outlaws conservatism.

Rather, the founders clearly intended for secular leftism to be our state religion, and explicitly wished to prevent human beings from discovering both their spiritual essence and the nonlocal source of their liberty, at least in any publicly funded school. The reason they did this is because a spiritually rootless nation of material automatons is much easier to control with dogma, slogans, bumper stickers, and promises of material well-being without effort. This follows from our Declaration of Dependence, which proclaims that human beings are endowed by the state with various privileges, such as healthcare, free abortions, and the pursuit of pleasure.

Nevertheless, this leftist state religion has a downside. As Ware writes, "Modern man has for the most part lost touch with the truest and highest aspect of himself; and the result of this inward alienation can be seen all too plainly in his restlessness, his lack of identity and his loss of hope." This, I think, is the deeper meaning of Obama's superficiality. He is here to raise the spiritually dead with his inspirational hope-a-dope rhetoric, AKA, the emperor's new empty suit of cliches.

Now, if Man is a bridge, it is in both a spatial and temporal sense. That is, he spans all of the vertical degrees of being; but the higher he ascends, the more encompassing the horizontal view, no different than when you look at the city below from the top of one of them big skyscrapers. I would go so far as to say that if you don't have your head in the clouds, it might very well be up your ass. If you're not scraping the sky, then you're creeping the earth.

Now I am reminded of Joyce, and neither will you, but here goes anyway:

".... If you are abcedminded, to this claybook, what curios of signs in this allaphbed! Can you rede its world?.... The meandertale, aloss and again, of our old Heidenburgh in the days when Head-in-Clouds walked the earth. In the ignorance that implies impression that knits knowledge that finds the nameform that whets the wits that convey contacts that sweeten sensation that drives desire that adheres to attachment that dogs death that bitches birth that entails the ensuance of existentiality...."

In fact, immediately after that passage is a quote that I used on the frontispiece of my doctoral dissertation, which you might say is "son of One Cosmos." Or I suppose it would be "father of One Cosmos." Anyway, When a part so ptee does duty for the holos we soon grow to use of an allforabit. In a similar vein, Somedivide and sumthelot but the tally turns round the same balifusion.

In a way, that summarizes the whole Doctrine, does it not? Which is fitting, because so does Man. He is the allforabit, a part so ptee who nevertheless does duty for the holos, no? And materialists try to divide and sumthelot, but that just ends in a fractured bog of a blob not a holygraphic blog of a bob. What I mean is, if you don't become spiritually whole again, you'll probably end up an intellectual hooligan.

Here, let's put it in plain English. As Ware writes, "Man stands at the heart of God's creation. Participating as he does in both the noetic and the material realms, he is an image or mirror of the whole creation, imago mundi, a 'little universe' or microcosm. All things have their meeting place in him." Yes, a part so ptee can do duty for the holos, but not without evolving there:

"Being microcosm, man is also mediator. It is his God-given task to reconcile and harmonize the noetic and the material realms, to bring them to unity, to spiritualize the material, and to render manifest all the latent capacities of the created order.... But in 'spiritualizing the body,' man does not thereby dematerialize it: on the contrary, it is the human vocation to manifest the spiritual in and through the material. Christians are in this sense the only true materialists."

Yes, this is indeed One Cosmos Under God. But only to the extent that we real-ize it, one youman beastling at a time.

The world is at once a passing shadow and a final fact....

The present is all that you have; and unless in this present you can find general principles which interpret the present as including a representation of the whole community of existents, you cannot move a step beyond your little patch of immediacy
. --Alfred North Whitehead, Religion in the Making


Afterweird: I was thinking last night about how Sri Aurobindo measured his effect upon students, and it was mainly in their ability to compose "supramental poetry," which we won't get into here. However, I've noticed that I do something similar, in that I like to think that long-time readers begin to notice a new facility with language -- an ability to deploy language to make God present, so to speak. I certainly notice it in your comments. Sort of hard to describe, but if it has begun happening to you, then you know it. For those of you who are bobsequious enough to have the book, this transformation of language is discussed on pp. 107-109.

What comes down must go up:

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Surfing the Evolutionary Waves of Cosmic Energy

This is a continuation of yesterday's post. One year later, it has finally been spell-checked and fortified with fresh new unassailable (but not unassholeable -- just watch) truths.

Becoming is the mode of activity of the uncreated God. --Hermes

In the bosom of Time, God-without-beginning becomes what He has never been in all eternity. --Angelus Silesius

We've posted on the subject of the needlessly ambivalent relationship between evolution and Christianity on a number of occasions. Again, it poses no problem for (small o) orthodox Christians, for whom it is mostly a big "whatever." However, a question nevertheless remains, which is to say, how does it all fit together and work out in practice, not just theory? In other words, what is the relationship between the theology and the science?

Many scientists and religious believers (including countless scientific believers) know that there can be no real conflict between religion and science. But this is like saying there can be no conflict between mind and matter. True enough, but we'd still like to know how it all works.

As I mentioned somewhere in my book, I had no interest in using science to try to prove the existence of God, at least after some initial research that settled the issue to my satisfaction. Rather, since I already knew that God existed, I wanted to understand what the universe had to be like, given God's existence. Much more interesting question. This approach only makes sense, because God is obviously not limited or constrained by science, but science is quite obviously constrained by God.

In ether worlds, nothing can happen in the word of science that is inconsistent with the existence of God. To cite one prominent example that comes to us via quantum physics, if this were a Newtonian universe of logical atomism -- i.e., a cosmos of completely disconnected parts -- that ontology would be radically inconsistent with the existence of the immanent God. To put it another way, the infinite sea of quantum potential is a kind of exteriorized mirror image of God's interior.

Yesterday I linked to this article, noting that the Vatican maintains that the theory of evolution is fully compatible with the Bible: "In 1950, Pope Pius XII described evolution as a valid scientific approach to the development of humans, a view that was reiterated by Pope John Paul II in 1996."

The article continues: "Creationism is the belief that God created the world and all life in six days as described in the Bible. The Catholic Church does not read the Genesis account of creation literally, saying it is an allegory for the way God created the world. The Catholic Church teaches 'theistic evolution,' a stand that accepts evolution as a scientific theory and sees no reason why God could not have used a natural evolutionary process in the forming of the human species. It objects to using evolution as the basis for an atheist philosophy that denies God's existence or any divine role in creation. It also objects to using Genesis as a scientific text."

Now, I realize that I have some so-called "fundamentalist" readers who read the Bible literally, and I have no intention of alienating or getting into an argument with them, any more than I will argue with our Darwinian fundamentalist trolls. It goes without saying that the religious fundamentalist is infinitely closer to ultimate truth than the Darwinian fundamentalist, in that at least the religious fundamentalist does not absurdly and beclowningly deny the Absolute. But I think you have to concede that no one reads the Bible literally, unless you really believe that Christ is a door or that Peter is a rock.

Where the metaphysical Darwinist absurdly denies the Absolute, the religious fundamentalist either denies or devalues the relative. This topic is covered in detail in chapter two of Perry's On Awakening & Remembering: To Know is to Be, entitled The Twin Pitfalls of Fanaticism and Relativism, and perhaps we'll get into that later. The point is, what we call "fundamentalism" is a modern and even postmodern deviation from integral truth. In fact, I believe it can be seen as a kind of irrational overreaction to the demonic relativism of postmodernism, into an inverted mirror image of irrational "absolutism." But genuine absolutism always makes room for the relative, since it is the prolongation of the vertical into the horizontal -- which is precisely why religion is such a gas, and why we have so much more fun down here than the pagans.

As Chesterton noted, one reason to become Christian is that it represents a superior philosophy, not just theology. Therefore, there shouldn't be anything in it that doesn't make an appeal to our intellect; or, to put it another way, our intellect (and remember, this refers to the higher mind, not the ego) should be able to find its rest in Christian theology.

And it should accomplish this not by obliterating, escaping, or compartmentalizing the relative, but illuminating it "from above" in an entirely new way. I can only speak for mysoph, in that this is certainly how it was for me. Again, I was coonvicted by my intellect, not by a crisis, or a need to fit in, or by virtue of being born into a certain predigested worldview. Christianity is simply a much deeper and intellectually satisfying philosophy than any form of materialism, including of course metaphysical Darwinism, which unexplains much more than it can ever explain about man as such.

But for the same reason, I am opposed to anything that would make Christianity look like a foolish or inadequate philosophy. I consider that to be a kind of sin against the Holy Spirit. Anyone who has had to overcome a bad case of Jesus Willies will know exactly what I mean. My inability to embrace Christianity earlier in my life was not only a matter of pride, nor only a result of the ubiquitous distortions and intellectual dishonesty of the radical secularists.

Rather, there was a considerable amount of stupidity -- and therefore spiritual darkness -- in the forms of Christianity to which I was exposed, and which would have required an absence of self-respect on my part in order to embrace. And lack of self-respect is not the same as humility. True, one must enter it as a child. But that is again a very different thing from being childish. Humility is merely objectivity toward the self. Thus, one can both over- and underestimate the human station in general and oneself in particular. Always remember that we are in the image of the Creator. That's saying a lot. It has many more implications than you may realize, for it means that a certain kind of rigorously applied introspection can reveal the nature of God (not in himself, of course, but in reflected or analogous way).

Anyway. Let's get down to details. We begin with the axiom that the world is created. But who created it, and of what is it created? It is (note the present tense) created by a conscious being out of conscious energy, which it must be. Now, we can argue over the nature of this conscious energy, but not with a physicist, because they concede up front that they have no earthly idea what it is. They can believe whatever they want, but it will be a matter of faith. The question is whether the faith is warranted or misplaced. And if you are nothing but a Darwinian replicating machine, it's a pretty safe bet that your faith in yourself is wholly unwarranted.

The cosmos is not necessary, but contingent. It did not have to be, and yet it is. Therefore, its existence is a result of freedom, or a free act. Which, by the way, is where all this glorious freedom comes from, in case you didn't know. But for a Christian, it goes a little deeper than that, because freedom itself is neither here nor there. Rather, as Ware points out, while "God created the universe by an act of free will," "Nothing compelled him to create; he chose to do so. The world was not created unintentionally or out of necessity; it is not an automatic emanation or overflowing from God, but the consequence of a divine choice."

But I don't think that is quite accurate. I would tweak the language just a bit, to say that the world may not have been automatic, but it was nevertheless inevitable, given the divine nature. The divine nature being what it is, it could not help but radiate and communicate the Good, the True, and the Beautiful -- just like a beautiful human soul who radiates truth and decency. As above, so below. The point is, the cosmos is completely unnarcissary, just like the Creator. He's a giver.

Therefore, freedom and creativity inevitably bear upon love. As Ware writes, "In so far as such a question admits of an answer..., God's motive in creation is his love. Rather than say he created the universe out of nothing, we should say that he created it out of his own self, which is love.... Creation is an act not so much of his free will as of his free love."

This is something I attempted to make plainly obscure in the opening and closing and reopening pages of the Coonifesto. As Ware writes, "The circle [get it? Circle?] of divine love has not remained closed. God's love is, in a literal sense, 'ecstatic' -- a love that causes God to go out from himself and create things other than himself." This is the famous love that removes the sin and other scars, speaking Allighierically. It is also of course what Petey means on pages 13-14, where the One "falls in love with the productions of time, hurtling higgledy-piggledy into jivass godlings and samskara monsters (Boo!) all the way down." The point is, this free act of divine love is necessarily going to result in both maya and monsters, more on which later. The monsters can't be helped, for there is no one Good but the One. Yes, goddinpottys are inevitable, and in their own perverse way proclaim the existence of God.

Here is another subtle point that I attempted to make clear in the book. The events described in my huge mythunderstanding are not of the past -- which can only be located in the horizontal -- but in the present, or the vertical now, in which the divine energies perpetually flow into Creation (failure to heed this distinction is, I believe, a central fallacy of religious and scientistic fundamentalists, who both deny the ceaseless vertical activity of the atemporal now). Thus, as Ware points out,

"Creation is continual. If we are to be accurate when speaking of creation, we should use not the past tense but the continuous present. We should say, not 'God made the world, and me in it,' but 'God is making the world, and me in it, here and now, at this moment and always.' Creation is not an event in the past, but is a relationship to the present."

Which is why you are called (i.e., it is your summa voc-ation) to live your life with love and creativity, or even "creative love," which is again to be a proper mirror and image of the Creator. Or, to quote Augustine, "Creation precisely affirms a principle of origin, but not necessarily a principle of duration.... God is before the world of duration, yet the word 'before' does not mean a priority of time, but of eternity...."

Again: God's creative activity is in the present, as the roaring torrent of eternity perpetually pours into the little channel of time. This is what Toots Mondello meant when he made the cryptic and easily misunderstood comment that the life of the Raccoon involves "channel surfing." Or at least that's how we interpret it today. In fact, I'm surfing that eternal wave right now, as it channels into cyberspace.

Man was introduced last among existent things, as a natural bond between the extremes of the whole through his own parts, and bringing into unity in his own person those things which by nature are far distinct from each other. Drawing all things out of their former division and bringing them united to God..., he finally reaches the goal of the sublime ascent... --Maximus the Confessor

Surf's Up
Aboard a tidal wave
Come about hard and join
The young and often spring you gave
I heard the word
Wonderful thing
A children's song...
--Brian the Surfer