Monday, December 28, 2009

Circling the Brain

Eckhart knew that his subtle wisdom would be mis- and disunderstood by the unimaginative trolls of his day, the under- and overeducated rabble without a clue. Thus, "we shall be told that one ought not to talk about or write such teachings to the untaught."

However, "if we are not to teach people who have not been taught, no one will ever be taught, and no one will ever be able to teach and write" -- the result being that we'll all be as dense and reactionary as the trolls, only permanently so. Imagine the nightmare of a progressivism without the possibility of progressing toward conservatism!

According to McGinn, there continues to be controversy in the scholarship as to whether Eckhart was primarily a "philosopher-theologian" or a "master of the spiritual life" -- in contemporary terms (since the word did not exist then), a mystic. But just as there can be no real conflict between religion, theology, and rightly understood science (as opposed to the anti-intellectual ideology of scientism), so too can there be no conflict between these and mysticism.

From my perspective, I simply see mysticism as the empirical or phenomenological confirmation of the truths of religion. One cannot have one in the absence of the other, any more than one can have bones without flesh, or body without soul. As the soul is the form of the body, so too might mysticism be thought of as the form of dogma (and dogma the substance of mysticism).

I think you can well understand the dangers of a breach between these complementary modalities. Yesterday a commenter said that he couldn't discern any difference between me and Matthew Fox, but the difference relates to just this area. In Fox's case, he has detached Eckhart from his orthodox soil and tried to transplant him into a graceless ideology of gaia-worshiping, crapto-Marxist, ovary-tower new-age environmentalist mush. But ideology in any form is the replacement for, and enemy of, Christianity. In Fox's hands, as with Deepak, Truth is reduced to twaddle, inside a hysteria, wrapped in an enema.

That faith and reason cannot be in conflict is standard issue scholasticism. But McGinn notes that Eckhart "went further, claiming that Moses, Aristotle and Christ 'teach the same thing, differing only in the way they teach.'" (By "Moses" and "Aristotle," he means revelation and philosophy in general.)

However, the "way" in which they teach is not insignificant, in that Eckhart "contrasts the 'pagan masters who knew only in a natural light' with 'the words of the sacred masters who knew in a much higher light.'" Natural intelligence alone can only go so far, and is unable "to enter or know the ground of the soul, which is attainable only by unknowing." (However, it should be emphasized that Eckhart did not believe that certain pagan masters such as Plato were devoid of the higher illumination; rather, it's a matter of degree.)

From this we may gather that, to a certain extent, we must overcome the extreme brightness of the natural light in order to clear a kind of "dark space" for the higher illumination to be perceived. In other words, this is where "not-knowing," "learned ignorance," or what the Raccoon calls "higher bewilderness" come into play.

Again, it is very much analogous to the manner in which the central sun blots out perception of the infinite stars, each a sun in its own right. This is a necessarily paradoxical formulation, for man's intellect is (relatively) central, but in so being, also knows that it is (absolutely) peripheral -- or, that it is capable of multiple perspectives (which can be the pretext for the postmodern deconstructionist who erroneously believes that multiple truths = no truth).

In fact, I read a wonderful quote the other day from Emerson, that I wish I had known at the time I wrote my book: "Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning..."

Again, we are center, but a kind of unstable and dynamic center, without which growth would be impossible. Being that we are central, we may know truth; but since we are not God (i.e., the Absolute center), our life is more like a process of "centration," as we metabolize and assimilate more and more of the divine center.

Regarding scripture, Eckhart maintained the classic hull-kernal distinction, which, in a way, mirrors the unavoidable distinction between appearance and reality in science. Science does not -- cannot -- ignore the empirical world as it presents itself to our senses, but it then discovers a deeper world "behind," "above," or "underneath" this (the same can be said for psychoanalysis, which observes the roiling sea of the unconscious beneath the solid ground of the empirical ego).

Here again, the distinction betweeen hull and kernel mirrors the distinction between mind and body, spirit and matter. You might say that scripture is the form of revelation, while revelation is the substance of scripture. As McGinn describes it, this is the complementary space "in which the exegete-preacher and the attentive hearer 'break through' the surface of the biblical word to reach the hidden meaning that negates both ordinary reason and the created self."

In other words, in scripture just as in nature, there is always that "wider circle" we can draw around the existing one, which is none other than growth, as we slowly and gradually contain that which once contained us.

But we can never contain the "all," or we would be God. God is the container that cannot be contained; or, if you want to look at it in a slightly heretical way, perhaps the inner activity of God also mirrors -- or is the very prototype of -- this process, in that the Trinity is, in a sense, eternally "surpassing itself" in love, surrender, and generativity.

This would be consistent with Eckhart's view that "the profundity of the Bible, indeed, of every text in the Bible, means that it contains an inexhaustible fecundity of truths." And "No one can be thought to understand the scriptures who does not know how to find its hidden marrow -- Christ, the Truth."

So even the most solid appearing bone has the waters of spirit invisibly coursing through it. But also, watch for bones in the water. Meanwhile, we'll see you tomarrow!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Geistatory Adventures and Laughty Revelations

At his trial for tact evasion, Eckhart said that some of the more "rare and subtle" passages in his works "had to be explained in light of his good intentions and within the context of the preaching genre" (McGinn): "The whole of what was said is false and absurd according to the imagination of opponents, but it is true according to true understanding."

Of another controversial blog post, he commented that "It must be said that this is false and an error, as it sounds. But it is true, devout, and moral of the just person, insofar as he is just..." In other words, for creatures, right being is a prerequisite for right understanding. This is indeed a rare and subtle point, because it means that if you ain't right in the head -- and heart -- you ain't gonna be right in your understanding, either. Is it any wonder that our trolls are not even wrong?

Again, if God exists because he understands, it means that trolls who don't understand these truths don't even properly exist. Or, alternatively, they only exist. And existence without truth is.... well, first of all it's an absurdity, but more to the point, it is hell.

But please note that what can be unambiguously "known" of the Truth is only a very small portion of it. But this shouldn't deter one in its assimilation. Consider, for example, how little science actually knows in comparison to what there is to be known, which is more or less infinite. Or consider even your own being! Every night your Dreamer escorts you to places within yourself that you've never even dreamt of in your wildest dreams.

Now, appreciating the great realm of the unThought known is one of the most vital organs for the detection of God. It's analogous to, say, a "sense of humor," which is not itself funny, but rather, is the ability to know what is funny ahead of time. In itself it is not necessarily "funny," but is an empty category, or a "preconceptual readiness" to appreciate humor in whatever form it arises.

You will have noticed that the gifted comedian is able to see the humor in some everyday situation that goes unnoticed by most people. The humor is already in us, but we don't explicitly think about it until the comedian "reminds" us of it, which then causes us to laugh with re-cognition. So in a very real sense, humor is merely recollection of the humorous.

I would say that Raccoon theology is somewhat, if not entirely, like this. It's not as if the B'ob tells you anything you don't already know, I mean, right? Rather, he mainly gives voice to preconceptual airy-tales you may not have consciously thought about. Hence, the sacred "guffah-HA!" experience when he punches you right in the nous or throws a pie in the face before you were born.

But this is true of all real theology, which is aimed at vertical re-collection. Whenever Bob's or anyone else's key fits perfectly into your unThought known, you will notice a little "tickle." You should try to be aware of this and eventually transform it into more of a real chortle or belly laugh. Ho!

It's also somewhat like being a good cook. We think of someone having a good visual, verbal, or musical imagination, but having a good gustatory imagination is a thing apart -- like having a good "tactile imagination," which I suppose blind people possess. A good and adventurous cook can presumably combine ingredients in unexpected ways, because he has a sort of highly developed "foretaste" of potentially tasty combinations.

Frankly, I think this is how advances take place in any field, which was one of Polanyi's core points -- the idea that the researcher is guided by tacit foreknowledge of, say, an as yet undiscovered recipe for potato salad. It would also explain the addiction that Darwinians and other materialists have for bunk food, not to mention the severe truth decay that results.

It's a tricky balance of flavors, because if your mind is saturated with too much foreknowledge, then it closes off the possibility of tasting new discoveries. And this may smell blasfumy, but who said that all the great theological discoveries have already been made? At the very least, I know for sure that they haven't been made by Bob. I mean, I could take someone else's word for it, but I'm not much interested in dei-old liftovers unless they specifically help me digest my own unThought known. Theology's the ultimate adventure, baby. There's more than one way to cook the cosmic egg.

But first you have to come out of your shell and be born. This was one of Eckhart's key psimiles -- that the birth of the Word is eternally recapitulated in the ground of the soul. Jesus reconciles creation with Creator on a macro scale, but we must nevertheless engage in the same activity in a microwave, i.e., "the imitation of Christ." You might say that he is the pilot light, but that doesn't mean that we don't have to journey to the kitchen and fire up the burner.

Also, you definitely have to appreciate Eckhart's inrageous sense of humor, which, unfortunately, the religiously correct authorities of the time -- just like the politically correct left wing inquisitors of the present day -- did not. He uses humor in a zen sort of way, in order to jolt you out of your habitual way of seeing things. He is the True GagDaddy of them all.

Eckhart reveled in "word games that are meant to be both playful and serious insofar as they 'play' a role in the practice of deconstructing the self and freeing it from all that pertains to the created world. Identity in the ground [of being] is a 'wandering' and 'playful' identity.... Speaking to a restricted group of learned God-seekers, he also feels free to indulge... in paradox, oxymoron, and hyperbole," the "rare and subtle" forms of speech "that comprise the 'shock treatment' of a mystical discourse designed to awaken by challenging traditional modes of speaking and understanding" (McGinn).

Like the unThought known, "the ground is transcendentally real as 'pure possibility,'" and "is the 'place' from which the mystic must learn to live, act, and know" (McGinn). It is also flowing and spontaneous, like jazz: "Many of Eckhart's sermons have an improvisational character, appearing as a series of virtuoso variations on oft-repeated themes."

Eckart was quite clearly describing the unThought known when he said that "This not-knowing draws [the soul] into amazement and keeps her on the hunt, for she clearly recognizes 'that he is,' but she does not know 'what' or 'how' he is" (Eckhart). McGinn says that "this incommunicable knowledge keeps the mystic ever on the inward path, not turned outside."

Now, this "inward path" is the path back to God. Just yesterday Bob was comparing it to a sort of vertical mindshaft, in which we must all work in darkness, administrying one blow after another, occasionally pulling out a nugget of gold and getting a little closer each day to the Fatherlode, or Sierra Padre. It's there. We can sense it with our charcoal activated cʘʘnvision, like old Walter Huston smells the gold in Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

Here's how Eckhart describes the cʘʘnvision: "Though it may be called an unknowing, an uncomprehending, it still has more within it than all knowing and comprehending outside it, for this unknowing lures and draws you from all that is known, and also from yourself."

So remumble under your breath: last rung in's a written gag, so your seenil grammar and gravidad may not be malapropriate for my laughty revelations!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Morning After: The Word is Born, Now What?

Christmas mamamorializes not just the birth of the celestial Word in the terrestrial flesh -- or the vertical child in the horizontal voidgin -- but the eternal conception in the mamamatrix, or "womb with a pew," where these two irreconcilable realities somehow become one.

In ether worlds, no conception, no birth. But birth obviously isn't the end of it. Or, like all births, it is the end of one mode and the beginning of another; every birth conceals a death, and vice versa. Where there's a wake there's awake.

Also, many things can prevent conception and/or terminate pregnancy, including such permicides as materialism or the various abortofascisms of the left. Such verbicidal techniques either prevent the union of Word and flesh, or assure a celestial abortion once it has taken place. For many people, spiritual conception is a disaster, as it would totally interfere with their preferred manner of living, i.e., their wholly narcissism.

I don't know if this is true, but I read somewhere the other day that Christmas wasn't celebrated for the first 400 years or so of Christianity's existence. One way or another, it grafted itself onto pre-Christian celebrations of the winter solstice, which marks the moment when the world arrests its descent into cosmic darkness, and imperceptibly moves toward the new life of spring.

But this hardly makes the cerebration of this any less Christian. Rather, it simply makes Christianity the most adequate expression of permanent truths that have always been known. As Warren mentioned in a comment the other day,

"Basically, everybody more or less knows this stuff. It's the wisdom and experience of the entire human race speaking here. The only people who claim to deny it are a few little fringe modernist groups (materialists, certain fundie Protestant sects, etc.).

"In fact, this is a big reason why some fundie Protestants view Catholics as 'pagans'. In a way, they're quite correct, because the Catholic tradition includes much wisdom from the pagan world, while trimming away (ideally) the false and/or devilish elements in it. Rejecting the entire pagan worldview, as certain Christians do, is to needlessly throw out a large chunk of the human race's traditional wisdom, thereby making oneself much more clueless than is strictly necessary."

Raccoon omeritus Meister Eckhart agrees with this view, in that "throughout his life, [he] championed the... position that philosophy and theology did not contradict each other and that philosophy was a necessary tool for Christian theology."

I suppose this is one of the ways in which I part company with the mainstream, which, it seems to me, tries to derive metaphysical truth solely from history, whereas I would say that it is the other way around -- that what we call "salvation history" must be the instantiation of certain meta-cosmic principles.

I will grant that a potential danger in the latter approach is the reduction of the personal God of history to a kind of quasi-mathematical deism, but that is not my view at all. Rather, the Creator is a person. But he has principles. And unlike Democrats, his principles are not for sale to the highest bidder.

Here is how Eckhart put it: "What philosophers have written about the nature and properties of things agrees with [the Bible], especially since everything that is true, whether in being or in knowing, in scripture or in nature, proceeds from one source and one root of truth." Philosophy, science, theology and revelation all "teach the same thing, differing only in the way they teach, namely as worthy of belief, as probable and likely, and as truth."

Remember, although Jesus is "Word made flesh," this does not mean that the Word was nowhere to be found in this vale of tears prior to the Incarnation. Rather, I would say (with Augustine) that the Word and wisdom of the Christic principle were (and are) always here, and couldn't not be here; again, where there is truth there is God.

So Eckhart's whole project was guided by a coonviction "about the conformity between reason and revelation, philosophy and theology." The Meistrʘ, who often used paradox to convey truth, expressed it thus: "It does not so much seem to me that God understands because he exists, but rather that he exists because he understands."

Do you see the point? Surely, understanding must be anterior to existence, to such an extent that to understand is to exist (I mean, someone had to have understood all those finely tuned mathematical equations that govern the big bang; surely we can't have been the first). Naked existence itself is neither here nor there. Thus, God is first and foremost "the negation of negation," or perhaps the negation of invincible cosmic stupidity.

I would go so lo as to see that the affirmation of anything is the affirmation of God, and therefore the negation of "nothing," i.e., the absurd affirmation of blind nihilism. Otherwise, there is no ground for any affirmations at all, not even "I am an idiotic troll named anonyorthogonal." For to know that one is an idiot is to at least know a permanent truth, and thus nurture a conception that may eventually come to full term.

All of the above quotes are taken from Bernard McGinn's The Harvest of Mysticism. I'm going to just keep philipping along and see where it leads.

Starting tomorrow I guess. I still want to catch up with my work by the end of the year.....

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Immaculate Family Planning: On Conceiving & Giving Birth to the Word

Regarding the Gospel of John, Unknown Friend says that it appeals to the human soul to shift its ground of intelligence from the created to the creative through a union of sun and moon. What does this mean? Let's find out.

The mode of science is entirely lunar, in that it seeks to "reflect" matter, or the lowest level of possible knowledge. Which is fine for science. Just don't confuse science with philosophy or metaphysics, much less theology, which are adequations to higher levels of reality -- intellect, soul, self, spirit, slack, etc.

The lunar mode can only comprehend that which is discontinuous, never that which is continuous. In fact, if I am not mistaken, the word "science" is etymologically related to "cut," which is what science must do in order to understand anything.

However, the cutting is in the mind of the scientist, and cannot be confused with what is ultimately real, and which unites the scientific knower with what he knows. Matter is atomistic, malleable, and infinitely divisible. Using only the tools of science, it is impossible to even approach the problem of intrinsically continuous and holistic properties such as life and mind (which is why the wave-particle complementarity is such a paradox for materialists).

But the Gospel of John confronts us with the creative Word, "which is the light and life of men." Here, intelligence "has the task of understanding the whole world as the organisatory act of the Word and Jesus Christ as the cosmic Word made flesh." Whereas lunar intelligence seeks to understand "that which is," this logocentric mode seeks to participate "in the becoming of that which is to be." It is not just to be "born again," but to give birth -- which is to participate in the intrinsic and eternal creativity of the Word. This is the Voidgin Birth alluded to on page the tenth of the Godspiel of Toots (no, it wasn't just his Brooklyn accent).

Real creativity is clearly a kind of higher life and higher life that is continuous with, or a mirror of, the divine activity. The point is, on the intellectual plane, approaching God doesn't just require a leap of faith, but a leap of creative intelligence -- which is one of its seals of authenticity, for it means that the seed-word has taken root in our own soil. It is again one of the things I intended to convey by the symbol O→(n), as it is a kind of continuous flow, "or river of water of life," not something static or repetitious, which are hollow caricatures of Absolute and Infinite, respectively.

UF writes that this kind of creativity involves the true union of intelligence and the intuition of faith. In the typical believer, it seems that these two modes are "betrothed," but they have to move on to a true marriage and become "one flesh." It is not simply one mode added to the other, but a real harmonious -- and creative -- union which then produces real fruit that neither one alone could have made.

UF singles out several thinkers whom he believes approached or achieved this fusion of faith and intelligence, including Origen, Denys, Aquinas, Jacob Boehme, Berdayev, and Teilhard de Chardin. He also has a lot of praise for Bergson, with whom I have only a general familiarity. But he includes an extended passage from Bergson that well captures what we are discussing here. He makes reference to the circularity of mere lunar logic, and the need to break out of this closed world:

"If we had never seen a man swim, we might say that swimming is an impossible thing, in as much as, to learn to swim, we must begin by holding ourselves up in water and, consequently, already know how to swim. Reasoning, in fact, always nails us down to the solid ground."

You can no doubt appreciate the baleful consequences of our scientistic jester's mundane and earthbound intelligence, which is again in servitude to that which is infinitely beneath its scope and station, i.e., matter. Such a constricted intelligence "looks to the least developed and the most primitive for the cause and the explanation of what is most developed and the most advanced in the process of evolution.... it retreats into matter. It does something with regard to the world which would be absurd with regard to a work of art.... Intelligence which prefers retreating to flying must inevitably arrive at the impasse of absurdity.... And the absurd... is suicide for intelligence" (MOTT).

Bergson continues: "But if, quite simply, I throw myself into the water without fear, I may keep myself up well enough at first by merely struggling, and gradually adapt myself to the new environment: I shall learn to swim.... if the risk be accepted, action will perhaps cut the knot that reasoning has tied and will not unloose."

This reminds me of the anecdote in my book about the yeshiva student who is asked if he knows how to swim: "No, but I understand swimming." The analogy with our scientistic trolls is exact, in that their pride forbids them from leaving the solid shore of matter, but who nevertheless imagine that they understand what it means to dive heartlong into the ʘcean.

So our intelligence must take the plunge in order to leave the prison of materialism: "[L]eap it must, that is, leave its own environment. Reason, reasoning on its powers, will never succeed in extending them, though the extension would not appear at all unreasonable once it were accomplished."

For example, one could publish thousands of studies on the nature of walking on solid ground, but they "will never yield a rule for swimming: come, enter the water, and when you know how to swim, you will understand how the mechanism of swimming is connected with that of walking. Swimming is an extension of walking, but walking would never have pushed you on to swimming."

This is a critical point, for from the perspective of walking, the leap to swimming looks "discontinuous." But from the perspective of swimming, one can appreciate the continuity, which is none other than "the God of the gaplessness" of reality. Science sees "gaps" that it imagines the religious believer fills in with "God." But it's actually the other way around. Once one leaps into the Word, one sees how there are no radically discontinuous gaps at all, and why it is so easy for science to fill the apparent ones with their own autistic god of the insane coincidence, AKA the scientistic god of the saps.

This, in case you didn't know, is the reason why I arranged the Coonifesto so that the chapters are both continuous and discontinuous, so that there are distinct "chapters," even though the sentences that link them run together. Only from the perspective of the lower is the world radically discontinuous. But from the higher point of view, one doesn't just "see," but one unproblematically lives the continuity. One swims in the cosmic waters.

After all, doesn't your body easily unify matter and life without you having to think about it? And doesn't your mind easily unify intelligence, life, and matter? And doesn't the Raccoon naturally live the unity of matter, life, mind and Spirit, or O? Of course. And there is no "technique" for doing so, accept for aspiring (↑) to the nonlocal Grace (↓) that meets us more than halfway, and then contemplatively breathing in its eternal rhythm. We could never do it ourselves, not in 13.7 billion years.

The unity comes from the top, not the bottom, of the cosmic hierarchy. Which is why it is indeed One Cosmos Under God, and why all genuine conceptions are immaculate matings of sun and moon, celestial and terrestrial, word and ground, seed and water.

And Jesus was a sailor
When he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching
From his lonely wooden tower
And when he knew for certain
Only drowning men could see him
He said "All men will be sailors then
Until the sea shall free them"
--Leonard Cohen

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Much Updated Ruin From a Much Outdated Style

A word of caution:

"The rule of every serious esoterist should be to be silent -- often for a length of years -- concerning every new illumination or inspiration that he has, so as to give it the necessary time to mature, i.e., to acquire that certainty which results from its accordance with moral consciousness, moral logic, the totality of spiritual and ordinary experience -- that of friends and spiritual guides of the past and present -- as also with divine revelation, whose eternal dogmas are guiding constellations in the intellectual and moral heaven" (Meditations on the Tarot).

Yes, unlike climate change cultists, we have objective standards of proof.

Even Jesus apparently spoke little of these matters until around age 30 -- which, back then, was rather elderly, since life expectancy in ancient Rome wasn't much more than 20 or 30 years.

Ironically, things are so much easier for us today, that they can actually be more difficult, in that every unqualified yahoo has instant access to the most sublime wisdom. We're well past "every man his own priest," and even "every man his own prophet"; for this is the dark age of "every man his own god" -- which can only make it much more of a challenge to identify actual prophets and the real God.

Just because one can read, it hardly means one is literate, much less that one understands. Rather, it merely gives the illusion of literacy and understanding. Plenty of liberals have gone to law school, and yet, do not understand the first thing about the Constitution.

Unfortunately, our president is one of them. He has sworn before the almighty to preserve a document he no more believes in than the strange god to whom he has sworn to preserve it. I guess you'd call that a "negative tautology," similar to the ACLU's ceaseless effort to have the Declaration of Independence nullified on the grounds that it is unconstitutional, since it mentions God.

Nor do post-literate atheists understand religion, to which they stand as living (or is it dying?) proof. Only a kind of cosmic narcissism allows them to convert a sad disability into a virtue, to elevate a confession of ignorance to a witness of truth. It's incredibly childlike, really, for children are also unable to stand back from their immediate perceptions and appreciate their intrinsic limitations.

Once detached from the vertical, one is in the "zone of mirages." Now, just because this zone isn't real, it doesn't mean it isn't "creative." It's just that it is a kind of worthless creativity (the protean world of "infertile eggheads") that bears on no eternal truth or beauty transcending itself. It is "art for art's sake," which is no better than "tenure for tenure's sake" or "science for science's sake."

Liberals think that conservatives are "anti-science" because we understand that science must always be grounded in, and converge upon, something that is not science, at risk of becoming demonic. One can never derive values from science -- the ought from the is.

This is the monstrosity of reductionistic Darwinism: not that it is "true," but that it replaces the integral Truth of which it can only be a tiny reflection. For if Darwinism is the unvarnished truth of man, dreadful consequences necessarily follow -- not the least of which being the impossibility of Truth and Virtue. I won't even bother to catalogue them, for only a gold-plated intellectual and spiritual cretin such as Charles the Queeg could be unaware of them.

That Darwinism can satisfy his barren intellect is a statement about his intellect, not about Truth. Such ingrates have no idea what religion has done for them, because it has all been done collectively and subliminally through a kind of cultural and historical osmosis. But to be unaware of the extraordinary spiritual sacrifices others have made in order to make your insignificant life possible is to live as a barbarian. Your whole miserable life is lived in borrowed -- no, stolen -- Light.

What is true will always be so. Scientific fads and fashions will come and go, but Man will always be in the image of the Creator, a meta-cosmic truth from which our rights, our duties, and our dignity flow. Only man can -- and therefore must! -- live by the light of eternity, so that all we do, say, write, create and think, can resonate with the Real and thus "pass the test of time":

"Artists, like esoterists, are obliged to make their works pass the trial of time, so that the poisonous plants from the sphere of mirages can be uprooted, and there remains only the wheat -- pure and ripe" (MOTT).

When I write something, I want it to stay written -- or, for the benefit of my devoted trolls, to stay rotten. I am always writing from the standpoint of eternity, not because I am grandiose, but because it is the least one can do. Otherwise, there is no point whatsoever in putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, at least regarding the temporally nonlocal matters we belowviate upon down here. This is not a shopping list or editorial, much less something as trivial as an academic paper.

In order to properly do one's omwork, one's writing must be "objective," even while being "transparent," or perhaps "translucent," in that it must be both rock solid and capable of refracting the Light. Why? Because this is the way in which the Divine Spirit works, which is to say, through a reflecting medium. What, you thought it was just magic?

To get the ego out of the way merely means to try to transcend all pettiness, all that is time-bound, all that refers back to oneself instead of pointing beyond. I must decrease so that He may increase: one "becomes poor, so as to be able to receive the wealth of the divine spirit..."

This is "the gesture of actualizing below that which is above," so that one's very life becomes a work of sacred art -- which is again to be transparent to that which transcends us. So,

men of fame
Can never find a way
Till time has flown
Far from their dying day
--Nick Drake

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

False Truth and the Unholy Ghost

If there is no truth, then there is no falsehood. Likewise, if there is no beauty, then ugliness is an impossibility. But many people don't stoop to drink that if there is no crystal water of the Holy Spirit, then surely there is no ______. Rather, ______ is nothing more than a kind of attractive lie, or demonic energy, or parasite-infested bilge water.

What shall we call ______? Unless I can think of something better by the end of this post, let's just call it (-↓), which is a mirror image of (↓). A constant infusion of its death-affirming "graces" leads to the development of (-¶), which is hardly a minor or peripheral problem for mankind. Rather, this speaks to the whole problem of false teachers who presume to speak for or represent God. They are no doubt full of it, but of exactly what are they full? Well, (-↓) for starters. (Also, importantly, once in place, (-¶) will seek out and attract (-↓) in order to "feed" itself.)

Just a brief snidebar, but every week I am astounded all over again that anyone can regard Deepak Chopra as anything other than a sinister moron, a man too stupid to know how wicked he is. Look at the latest authoritative babbling of the Windy Hindi. Whatever else (-↓) does, it fills its recipient with a kind of bloated confidence to spew absurdities or banalities as if they are pearls of great wisdom instead of sacred cowpies carelessly dropped on the information highway. All of these gnocturnal creatures are cut from the same ghastly cloth -- Deepak, Tony Robbins, Wayne Dyer, and all the rest of Brother Lib's Fellow-Traveling Charlatan Show (not forgetting our own hideous Gazbag).

The only way to guard against the false Holy Spirit is to first and foremost seek truth, virtue, and beauty, and then allow joy or beatitude to be a byproduct. If you seek first the joy, then you will become the sort of "intellectual drunkard" who staggers around the watering holes of academia and is so popular in the sophisticated saloons of Europe. There, babbling intellectual drunks and leftist whinos are elevated to great authority. (There are also "spiritual junkies" and "aesthetic addicts.")

Here in the US we mainly quarantine our lie-roasted wackadenia nuts in state-run looniversity bins, and otherwise don't take them too seriously. For the most part, Americans have always been blessed with the intuitive understanding that most of the serious problems of the world are a result of the imposition of some insanely self-regarding intellectual's idiotic idea. We're seeing it play out all over again with Nobamacare, with Cap'n Tax, with Porkulus, and no doubt with Illegal Democrat Reform next year.

The joy of the intellectual drunk is just the intoxicated self-satisfaction of the narcissistic child, who needs others to mirror his brilliance and to reassure him that he really is the center of a universe that can't actually have one in the absence of God. Now that I have a four year-old who is at the zenith of his narcissistic joy, I have even more insight into the psychodynamics of the tenured, whose narcissism appropriates their intelligence in the service of an intoxicated celebration of the ego. Hence the adage, let the dead bury the tenured.

As UF explains, the difference between dead and living truth is that the former is born in the false joy of intoxication, while the latter results in a kind of "sober joy." In turn, this joy "is the key which opens the door to understanding the Arcanum of the world as a work of art," because the joy is a result of a sort of inner harmony; or specifically, a "rhythmic harmony" between the inner and outer, above and below:

"Joy is therefore the state of inner rhythm with outer rhythm, of rhythm below with that of above, and, lastly, of the rhythm of created being with divine rhythm." Call it the Tao, if you like, for the essence of Taoism involves harmonizing oneself with these greater cosmic rhythms. Ignoring them will bring pain and disorder, one way or the other, because one is going against the grain of being.

Existence and life are a function of countless rhythms at every level of being, and this is what, say, the I Ching drives at -- at harmonizing human and divine rhythms, which results in intrinsic joy (but not intoxication).

For example, what is the joy of the Christmas season? It is partly a result of everyone being locked into the rhythm of the season, which not only resonates with "heaven," but with all past Christmases. Everything reminds us of this rhythm -- the smells, the lights, the music, the foods. Premodern man always lived in this kind of rhythm, since festivals were not restricted to once a year, but occurred throughout the year, and were his principle means of "marking time." Thus, he was constantly resonating with heaven, and being brought back to celestial essences. He was not a slave to the jagged rhythms of modernity, which tend to detach man from his source.

We know about natural selection, but there is also a kind of "supernatural selection" that operates in man, as he adapts to different vertical planes of being. Someone who fully adapts to "the world" is necessarily unadapted to higher planes he will never even know about, whereas someone adapted to the higher planes will try to shape the lower world so that it is in conformity with the higher, and thereby becomes a truly human environment fit for immortal souls.

Interestingly, as I have written of before, we come into the world in a state of "rhythmic chaos," so that the most important function of early parenting is to help the child internalize various rhythms, which will achieve physiological and psychological "set points," including with regard to sleep, hunger, emotion, etc.

As I noted in my book, a mentally ill person will always suffer from some sort of dysregulation, say, of self esteem, or shame, or anger, or impulse control. The dysregulation results in chronic disharmony between inner and outer (not to mention, above and below), so that they then have difficult relationships or problems with work or creativity.

In fact, I can see how my blogging is a result of an inner rhythm and resonance between various levels of being, that is now "locked in," so to speak. It is not something I would have ever thought possible before I started doing it. But again, as UF says, this type of "living rhythm" is basically joy. Which in turn is why the primordial state of man and nature is one of joy: "that the world, in so far as it is a divine creation, is a kingdom of joy. It was only after the Fall that suffering became added to joy."

Now, one of the good things about the Fall is that one may consider it as literally or as metaphorically as one wishes. My main concern is the mechanism through which the Fall repeats itself, and what we can do about it.

In the case of Future Leader, I will be watching very carefully to see that the Conspiracy doesn't get to him too early, before he has had the chance to stably internalize the celestial rhythms, which in turn become a spiritual touchstone for the remainder of one's life. Soon enough, the conspiracy will get its hooks into him and try to rob him of his slack. But with a good foundation, one can repel the pressures of the world, and retain one's ground of slack. To lose this ground is... to lose everything, at least for the Raccoon. It is to become alternatively hardened or dispersed, instead of fluid and supple around a dynamic and living center which grows through the infusion of (↓) -- and also the (↓→) that comes from relating to rightly oriented others.

Some children are robbed of their slack so early in life, that it is very likely that they have no conscious recollection of it, of "paradise." Nevertheless, there will definitely be an unconscious recollection of the deprivation of their birthright, except that they will then project it onto present circumstances. Given the appalling level of parenting in the Islamic world, one must conclude that this is central to their chronic whining, victimization, paranoia, externalization of blame, homicidal rage, and bizarre combination of superiority and psychic brittleness.

But the same dynamic no doubt motivates the leftist, who imagines that mother government can make up for the Great Lost Entitlement of Infancy. But unlike the leftist, the infant is legitimately entitled to his omnipotence, and if you fail to provide it, he may well spend the rest of his life either searching for it (the victim) or imagining that he is its source (the narcissist). The former needs the psychic bailout of the breast; the latter imagines that he is the breast. Obama is the breast; his cult members are the hungry mouths. Just in case you were wondering about that giant sucking sound you hear.

Monday, December 21, 2009

When Beauty Attacks! (or, The Birds & Beatitudes)

Might as well continue with the topic of yesterday's post, which, oddly enough, touches on the little controversy set off by one of our readers, who enjoys sharing the details of his -- wait for it -- sexual attraction to women! Unlike you poor repressed or married (a distinction without a difference) folks, he has managed to convert this biological attraction into a spiritual practice by.... indulging it. Wow, what a concept! Love the one you're with. Why didn't I think of that?

Obviously, anything that is powerful -- from religion to government to electricity to sex -- can be dangerous and destructive. In Meditations on the Tarot, Unknown Friend discusses the dangers of beauty. I would say that on the whole, men are more aware of this danger than women, being that women are the primary danger.

But the danger to women lies in unconsciously becoming the object of beauty in order to feel the rush of primordial power over men (for whom they will secretly feel contempt). For the most powerful man in the world -- say, Bill Clinton -- can be reduced to a mere pawn if he isn't master of his own domain.

A man could hypothetically rule the world, but if he himself is ruled by his zozo, what does this mean? Well, for starters, it will mean that the world is ruled by the seductive "spirit of Eve" that pulls Adam from the center to the periphery, so that the serpent is actually in charge by proxy.

Can Truth, Love, and Beauty have a "dark side?" Of course. It mainly happens when one of them gets separated from the other two -- like when a sock falls out of your drier and tries to go it alone. To paraphrase Professor Seinfeld, the lone sock doesn't get very far, does it? Oh sure, it's thrilling at first to feel the static electricity coursing along your heel, as you cling to another item of clothing in order to make your great escape. But then what? You fall off into the street, somewhere between the laundromat and car -- maybe even the gutter. That's when you find out the truth about maverick socks. And it isn't pretty.

Here's how UF explains it: the good severed from the beautiful "hardens into principles and laws -- it becomes pure duty." This goes to what I mentioned a couple of posts ago, that virtue ultimately results from consciousness of a plane of reality, not just from a kind of repressive, top-down moralism. An exclusive reliance on latter approach will not just alienate people, but often be the source of rebelliousness. I know it was for me. For example, as Oldbob might have thought to himself, whatever that hypocritical gasbag Jerry Falwell is, I will be the opposite. I will Falbadly.

Likewise, "the beautiful which is detached from the good... becomes softened into pure enjoyment -- stripped of obligation and responsibility." This is the "art for art's sake" of an aesthetic hedonism that soon becomes luciferic at best. But it also speaks to anyone who is foolish enough to imagine that sexuality and morality can be detached from one another without vacating oneself from humanness as such. In other words, one must become an animal (but really, not even an animal, but an infra-human).

UF continues: "The hardening of the good into a moral code and the softening of the beautiful to pure pleasure is the result of the separation of the good and beautiful -- be it morally, in religion, or in art. It is thus that a legalistic moralism and a pure aestheticism of little depth have come into existence."

On the one hand, you can have the narrow and clenched religious type without joy or art (or, conversely, with a joy and art that are equally kitsch). This type co-arises with its shadow, the increasingly antisocial artiste who is more or less detached from objective truth and virtue (or, conversely, becomes a tedious purveyor of political correctness as a substitute for truth and decency).

Soon enough beauty falls down the cosmic wayslide, so that art no longer even justifies its own existence. For man has no cosmic right to produce false and ugly art. Nevertheless, for the postmodern hack, "transgression" exists for its own sake, thus transgressing against the very purpose of, and justification for, art, i.e., truth and beauty.

You will notice that when the Creator was finished with his own artistic creation, he said to himsoph, it is good. Which is why this creation is infused with so much inexhaustible -- and beautiful -- truth. Which is none other then the Divine Light in all its metaphysical transparency.

So, the arcanum of The World is here to offer a gentle but firm warning to those who would mess with the Creator's woman, because Sophia is your sister (Proverbs 7), not your wife, got that? For it is written, the moment you become "wise in your own eyes," you become either a wise guy or a wise ass.

Now, just as there are true illuminations from the Holy Spirit, "so there are intoxications from the spirit of mirage," which UF calls the "false Holy Spirit." Here we are dealing not just with Maya, but the dark side of Maya, or her evil twin sister. On the one hand, Maya is the power of "cosmic illusion," but on the other, the Creator's divine consort, or Shakti, which means conscious force (forgive the Hinduisms, but it just so happens that they have a very precise language to describe these maters and paters, whereas Christianity often speaks of them in more metaphorical language that must be decoded, e.g., the polarities of Mary-Eve or Sophia-Word).

UF outlines the criteria for distinguishing between the two: if you seek only "the joy of artistic creation, spiritual illumination and mystical experience," it is ineveateapple that you will "more and more approach the sphere of the spirit of mirage" and become increasingly seduced and hypnotized by it. Remember, the satanic is the spirit of seduction and hypnosis, not compulsion and force. Been there, done that.

BUT, if you first seek for truth in the above referenced activties, "you will approach the sphere of the Holy Spirit" and open more and more to its influence, which brings with it an entirely different mode of joy and coonsolation, for it is in no way "egoic." Rather, it tends to reverse the hostile forces that result in either hardening or dispersion of the ego. Call it a "soft and supple center," which is none other than the divine slack and d'light immaculate that abides in "Raccoon Central," or "Toots' Tavern" -- where it is always "happy hour."

UF discusses the nature of mirages, which are not the same as hallucinations, as they are rooted in something that is "really there" -- like when the desert asphalt up ahead on the way to Vegas looks "wet," or when you think you can beat the house once you arrive there. But the mirage is a sort of "floating reflection of reality," which is nonetheless one step removed from it. And this is indeed the problem with what most people call "truth," including the truth of our scientistic jester, which floats atop the Real like a missing sock that I'd like to stuff in his mouth, to put it poetically.

I remember back in my college days, you'd occasionally hear a guy say that he wanted to meet a girl who didn't play games. Well, that's what Maya does, all day long. Her "lila" goes on unceasingly, which is why we need to get "beneath her veils," if I may put it so indelicately. This is because on the one hand, she "reveals God by manifesting him," but on the other hand "hides him by covering him."

Correction. It's not so much that we remove the veils, but appreciate what they are hiding, which is pretty obvious if you've ever seen the annual Victoria's Secret show -- which I've only heard about through Dupree. The point is, the veils -- we're speaking of reality now, not the supermodels.... no, I suppose we're talking about both -- simultaneously reveal and conceal, depending upon the spirit with which you look. As part of our standard equipment, we are all given a pair of X-ray Specs with which to see through the veils to the "ground." Sadly, they don't work on the supermodels.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

ʘ, What a Beautiful World

No time for a new post, so I thought I'd select a prewordgitated one, since I haven't visited the arkive lately. Plus, I really, really want to get caught up with my work by the end of the year, so I need to get an early start on it today.

The post concerns all of the superfluous beauty that radiates through the fabric of being. You might say that our world is composed of math and music, or that truth and beauty are its warp and weft. There are lots of revisions and odditions here, so it probably ended up taking as long as a new post. Oh well. You never really catch up with your work in this life.

[T]he world is fundamentally neither a mechanism, nor an organism, nor even a social community -- neither a school on a grand scale nor a pedagogical institution for living beings -- but rather a work of divine art: at one and the same time a choreographic, musical, poetic, dramatic work of painting, sculpture and architecture. --Meditations on the Tarot

What if we actually lived only in a world of mere desiccated scientistic truth but no intrinsic beauty? In addition to being an "impossible world" -- existence as such being an exteriorization of the divine beauty -- our very lives would be a cold and joyless task, like removing the Guy Ritchie tattoos from Madonna's wizened flesh (which has long since given up everything but its tattoos).

"Beauty is a crystallization of some aspect of universal joy; it is something limitless expressed by means of a limit" (Schuon). Beauty is both container and contained (♀ and ♂), or an explosive force within a limiting boundary. The material world is this boundary, or the "frame" around God's canvas. With no frame or page or stanza or stage, there can be no ex-pression (or im-pression) of beauty.

Now, as UF explains, the idea of the world as a work of art is implicit in Genesis, being that existence is a result of a creative act. So-called creationists focus way too much on the inevitable result of the act, rather than the act itself, which would have to constitute the very source and essence of creativity. Remember, since human beings are in the image of the creator, our own seemingly boundless creativity should reveal something intrinsic to God.

Furthermore, it is vital to bear in mind that the cosmogony of Genesis discloses a vertical, not horizontal, act. When Genesis says "In The Beginning," it really means in the beginning of the eternal creative act that is always happening now and which sustains the universe. The generation of the universe -- and the events of Genesis -- did not happen just "once upon a time," but is always happening.

These are not just my own eccentric Bobservations, but standard Thomservations as well. "In the beginning" refers not to the temporal beginning, but to the atemporal beginning, or the beginning of time as such -- which "flows" from (and back to) eternity in the now familiar absurcular way. It is the metaphysical, not the physical, or scientific, beginning. Therefore, as Aquinas knew,

"God is necessary as an uncaused cause of the universe even if we assume that the universe has always existed and thus had no beginning. The argument is not that the world wouldn't have got started if God hadn't knocked down the first domino at some point in the distant past; it is that it wouldn't exist here and now, or undergo change or exhibit final causes here and now unless God were here and now, and at every moment, sustaining it in being, change, and goal-directedness" (Feser).

In short, the "first cause" is above, not behind. But because it is above, it is necessarily ahead, which is in turn why the present cosmos is the "shadow" of its final fulfillment: "I am Alpha and Omega." This is also why on an individual basis, we live in the shadow of our own future self, which "lures" us toward our own full filament of incoondescent light.

Similarly, as Perry observes, "from the cosmological perspective, creation is a progressive exteriorization of that which is principially interior, an alternation between the essential pole and the substantial pole of a Single Principle." Again, of the two, essence is the more interior, and therefore takes priority. Essence could never be derived from substance alone (or quality from quantity, semantics from syntax), which is one more reason why it is absurd to insist that consciousness could ever be derived from matter. Why do you even try, you atheistic morons? What is wrong with you?

What? Oh yes. Petey would like me to remind you that this is the meaning of One's upin a timeless, as it refers to God's eternal creative activity, which, because it constitutes the true (vertical) beginning, necessarily encompasses the end of all things, the eschatology of the world, the cosmic telovator that lifts us to the repenthouse and beyond. Was that unclear? Perhaps Schuon can shed a little less bobscurity on the subject:

"Art has a function that is both magical and spiritual: magical, it renders present principles, powers and also things that it attracts by virtue of a 'sympathetic magic'; spiritual, it exteriorizes truths and beauties in view of our interiorization, of our return to the 'kingdom of God that is within you.' The Principle becomes manifestation so that manifestation might rebecome the Principle, or so that the 'I' might return to the Self; or simply, so that the human soul might, through given phenomena, make contact with the heavenly archetypes, and thereby with its own archetype."

In turn, this is why, as Eliot observed, our end precedes our beginning, and how it is that we may travel round the cosmos only to return to the beginning and know it for the firstest time. As I have said before -- or maybe it was after -- he wasn't merely being poetic, but noetic.

Zero, point, line, circle, and repent as necessary. The Father is O, the Son is •, and the Holy Ghost is (↓↑). Please note that the black fire of the dot is written on the white fire of the unKnown Godhead, while the arrows are the smoke and flames (or coontrail), respectively. Where there is "holy smoke," the flames of agni cannot be far above. Thus the "agni and ecstasy" referred to on page 16 of my book of the same gnome.

The movement from essence towards substance is also the movement of "the center toward the circumference" and "unity towards multiplicity" (Perry). Nevertheless, the center is always there at the periphery -- hence God's immanence and the resultant sanctity of the world -- and the unity is always in the multiplicity -- hence the possibility of the recollection of both union and transcendent unity, at any time or any place. Excepting perhaps Madonna's wizened flesh.

Now, as UF notes, the self-beclowning materialist or scientistic jester is "like the reader of a manuscript who, instead of reading and understanding the thought of the author, occupies himself with the letters and syllables. He believes that the letters wrote themselves and combined themselves into syllables, being moved by mutual attraction, which, in its turn, is the effect of chemical or molecular qualities of the ink as 'matter' common to all the letters, and of which the letters and syllables are epiphenomena."

Of this, Petey would like to say, And you pay a small fortune to deliberately expose your children this crap, about which the best one can say is that it is absurd?

[B]eauty stems from the Divine Love, this Love being the will to deploy itself and to give itself, to realize itself in 'another'; thus it is that 'God created the world by love'.... All terrestrial beauty is thus by reflection a mystery of love. It is, 'whether it likes it or not,' coagulated love or music turned to crystal, but it retains on its face the imprint of its internal fluidity, of its beatitude and of its liberality... --Schuon

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Devil Made Me Do It the First Time, Second Time I Done It On My Own

I'm just thumbing my nous through The Spiritual Ascent -- which is a 1,000 page compendium of the world's spiritual wisdom -- for further confirmation of Father Rose's general account of the afterlife.

Beginning with the section on Judgment, Schuon says that our "transgressions" are not to be seen merely as sins, but as the absence of a positive quality, that is, privations. Just as virtue ultimately consists of consciousness of a plane of reality -- the only completely reliable guarantor of virtuous behavior -- sin must result from an absence of this awareness, more often than not self-willed (i.e., pulling the wool over one's own I).

Positive qualities such as wisdom, purity, courage, prudence, or strength -- which are real realities -- relate to some aspect of divinity. Thus, to be unaware of them, for whatever reason, is to invite their opposite. It reminds me of the truism that anything that is not explicitly conservative eventually becomes liberal. This is why virtually all organizations, from the AMA to the ABA to the APA to academia to the GOP and even to Christianity, devolve and descend into liberalism if the permanent truths are forgotten.

And not just "forgotten." Again, it is not a matter of merely "remembering dogma," although that may be an important safeguard for those who have neither the time nor the space for intellection. Rather, it must again result from consciousness of a plane of reality.

To cite an example that comes readily to mind, yesterday the children at my son's preschool put on their annual Christmas show in the school chapel. It is almost impossible to imagine a more vivid experience of innocence and purity than to hear these children -- who are mostly four and five years-old -- singing their Christmas songs. If one is conscious, it is literally heartbreaking in its purity. Now, contrast this attitude with, say, Richard Dawkins, who says that such religious brainwashing literally constitutes child abuse. One of us is insane, which is to say, out of touch with reality.

It is as if there are two "centers" or attractors, and man is situated roughly between them. However, only one of these is "real." The other one is a human creation which, by being "fed," grows in strength, just as any other dissipative structure (or open system at disequilibrium). This is how inclinations become habits and eventually vices -- you know, as brother Waylon taught us, "The devil made me do it the first time / Second time I done it on my own."

This false center then "illusorily opposes itself to the divine aspect that it denies." As Tiger Woods teaches us, "vice lives by the regular and somewhat rhythmic communication with the obscure center which determines its nature, and which, like an invisible vampire [read: mind parasite], attracts, clasps and engulfs the being in a state of transgression and disequilibrium." We create what eventually enslaves us.

Through this process, the unnatural becomes natural, and darkness is converted to a kind of obscure light one learns to live by, but which is really the heat of transgression in disguise. It continues until someone clobbers you upside the head with a nine iron, one way or the other.

If this alternative center didn't exist, then "a simple infraction would remain but an isolated case; but every infraction is by definition a precedent and establishes contact with a tenebrous center" (Schuon). As such, a large part of the spiritual adventure involves first identifying and trying to put some distance between oneself and the false center one has created or simply fallen into as a result of "culture."

Again, think of two sources of gravity, one pulling you down to the earth, the other drawing you up toward the sun. The latter is obviously infinitely stronger, and yet, the lower you go, the more the peripheral center can seem to dominate the higher. Often the person has to literally "hit bottom" and realize that there is no lower to go. After that one can only dissipate and fragment -- or, alternatively anesthetize and numb -- oneself to avoid the catastrophic but saving truth.

As Schuon goes on to say, this speaks to the necessity of periodic rites of purification, "which have precisely the effect of disrupting such contacts and and of re-establishing communication with the divine aspect, of which the transgression -- like its cosmic center -- has been the negation."

Now, how does this relate to our discussion of the afterlife? Let's toss it over to our reporter at the serene of the climb, Jakob Boehme, who has the story for us. Jake?

"Thanks Gagdad. The souls of this world who have lost their consciousness of the divine planes bear hell within themselves, but know it not, for the false world they have feverishly created hath cast them into a deep sleep, a most fatal sleep indeed. They distract themselves with their small pleasures and petty amusements wherewith they are intoxicated, so that whilst in this short life, they blot out the pain of hell, which groweth inside them like a demon seed.

"Ah, but when the body dieth or breaketh away, or when a wrathful viking chick goeth medieval on thine ass, the soul cannot any longer enjoy such temporal pleasures and take its delight in the elaborate but false world so created. Only then does the poor soul stand in eternal hunger for those objects it spent its earthly life pursuing in vain.

"Do you see the problem? Tiger does. The soul's inclination remains, but now there are no objects to fulfill it, which causeth it to be in a most grievous perpetual state of anxiety and a continuous rage of hunger for that which never existed to begin with. The itch remaineth, but no scratching be permitted. This is why we say that men can never get enough of what they don't really need -- as if one needs a stable of low-class bimbos when one is already betrothed to a hot Swedish supermodel! O, the folly of man!

"So leave that black rose alone, for in so chasing after it, you are forging your own fetters, not just in this round, but more importantly, for the 19th hole."

Friday, December 18, 2009

Making Your Way Through Vertical Middle School

A few more specific details about your post-biological itinerary. Again, none of this is for the sake of argument; rather, it's just for the sake of discussion. For whatever reason, Rose's general description strikes me as plausible. It makes sense to me, even though, on a more superficial level, it obviously makes no sense. Which is why there is no point in arguing about it, because mere mechanical reason doesn't extend to this plane.

I found this one particularly intriguing: "the dying person's spiritual vision often begins even before death." Again, it is as if the "other world" begins to interpenetrate this one. But immediately after death, the soul "remains close to earth for two days before moving into other spheres."

Then, "on the third day it experiences the Particular Judgment while passing through the aerial toll houses," which are very similar to the bardo planes described in the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and feature various temptations and snares to which our soul is inclined. Penultimately, "on the fortieth day, it is assigned to the place where it will await the Resurrection." Finally there is the Last Judgment, when "the everlasting Kingdom of Heaven will dawn, and all departed souls will be joined to their resurrected bodies."

Father Rose specifically rejects as heterodox the idea of a "soul slumber" between death and the Last Judgment, and now that I think about it, his view seems to be entirely in accord with, say, the detailed vision of Dante. Rose points out that "the whole Orthodox piety and practice of prayer for the dead surely presupposes that souls are 'awake' in the other world and that their lot can be alleviated." Furthermore, the "calling on the saints in prayer, and the saints' response to this prayer, is unthinkable without the conscious activity of the saints in heaven."

I am especially convinced that the latter takes place, and that one can forge a living relationship with a departed saint. Their words are infused with a transformative grace and power that are clearly not of this world. Moreover, they manifestly want to help. As I've said before, friendly nonlocal operators are always standing by, ready to assist you. One is free to argue over why this is the case, but that it is the case, I have no doubt. My own work, such as it is, -- whatever it is -- would be inconceivable without this assistance.

Just for fun, let's look at what some other reliable sources have to say, starting with Benoist's The Esoteric Path. Regarding the "intermediate realm" between heaven and earth, he describes it as a region "of struggles, temptations, testing -- in a word, the realm of duality." It is where one may encounter, among other things, "energies of non-human entities, the influence of powers of the earth," and various "elemental spirits" variously called "gnomes, water sprites, sylphs, salamanders, djinns, demons, etc." Interestingly, these "obscure forces" include "residues of long abandoned cults," and "mingle with authentic angelic powers and with wandering influences... to constitute a strange, fascinating, and dangerous world."

Frankly, it very much reminds me of the realm of the unconscious, except instead of being situated between the human and terrestrial, is between the human and celestial. It is also where "ideas take shape, languages become organized, influences are transmitted, and souls form unions."

Again, all of this strikes me as intuitively true. I mean, if true ideas don't come from above, from where do they come? Likewise, if anyone imagines that the miraculous gift of language could have resulted from material processes alone, they just haven't thought about it deeply enough.

A key point is that the value of this intermediate realm "is highly variable according to those beings who are manifest in it and who manifest it to us, for it is the meeting place of humanity and divine inspiration." It may be thought of as "the lowest part of the heavens," just as the human mind may be thought of as the highest part of earth. Try as we might, mind alone cannot penetrate this realm unaided; rather, there must always be a descent (↓) to meet our aspiration (↑), otherwise life really is an absurd bridge to nowhere, which simply collapses to the earth at death.

I am also intrigued by the idea that this realm contains the "residues of long abandoned cults," for this surely accords with human experience. For example, what is Islamism but a revival of the pagan cult of human sacrifice? Perhaps this even explains the weeping and hysteria that accompany the climate change cult. I was discussing this with a friend just yesterday, and we were trying to understand the source of their strange cultish energy that is so far beyond reason (even while absurdly couched in their pseudo-reason). It must be that they are plucking a face from the ancient gallery and tapping into one of these archetypal pre-Christian cults.

It is also important to point out that this is the realm where human imagination intersects the divine planes, i.e., the realm of healthy imagination, without which it would be impossible to understand religious symbolism or "see" spirit. But it is also a realm of dangerously unhealthy imagination, for when the human imagination merges with an obscure or elemental force, it can produce monsters, something that Unknown Friend describes in MOTT (probably in the Devil card chapter, which I believe discusses the creation of mind parasites and the generation of demons).

The imagination is an "organ of perception," without which the artist could not function. But notice how common it is for the imagination of the spiritually untutored artist to be hijacked by other forces. In our day and age, it is almost the rule, not exception -- you know, "all the lousy little poets tryin' to sound like Charlie Manson" (Cohen), to say nothing of the creepy safe school czars trying to outfist Robert Mapplethorpe.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Lucky Man Who Made the Grade

That's not something you see every night. I dreamt I was the goat of game one of the World Series -- mental errors, failing to cover, bouncing pitches, throwing to the wrong man, etc. Afterwards a sportswriter asked how I felt about my performance. "I'd give it a B+... Also, let's not forget the mess I inherited from my manager. After all, he was foolish enough to put me into the game, and how do you expect me to recover from a mistake of that magnitude?"

Let's finish up with Father Rose's account of the afterlife. Much of what he says will no doubt provoke the Jesus Willies in some readers, so I will take the liberty of translighting it into plain coonglish, in a manner he would no doubt disapprove of. As always, the Sons of Toots have no place to rest their heads. The folks we like don't like us, and the folks we don't like do. Oh well. That's why we have each other.

Father Rose notes that one way to distinguish contemporary near-death experiences from actual experiences of heaven, is that in the case of the latter, "the soul is always conducted to heaven by an angel or angels, and never 'wanders' into it or goes of its own motive power," like you can into a White House state dinner.

Similarly, in the near-death literature, one is often said to have the choice of movin' on up or "returning" to earth. But in real life -- or death -- this is apparently not the case. Rather, "the genuine experience of heaven occurs not by the choice of man but only at the command of God, fulfilled by his angels." In contrast, the typical out-of-body experience does not involve angels, being that it really "takes place right here, in the air above us, still in this world."

It reminds me of all the strange experiences available to a fellow who ingests a bit of psilocybin. To paraphrase Terence McKenna, there are whole parallel worlds teeming with activity, just a few chemical microns away from this one. But these are just subtle, or less material, aspects of this world, similar to the unconscious. All kinds of crazy stuff goes on down there -- see the dream above -- but that doesn't make it "heaven." These alternate worldspaces are still very much a part of this world.

Father Rose did say that there seems to be an increase in the occurrence of occult experiences these days. Why is this? In fact, Schuon made the same point, and felt it had to do with the law of "cosmic compensation" that -- and I'm paraphrasing here from memory -- makes up for the general spiritual deterioration of our culture with a very focused infusion of grace for the sincere seeker.

Thus, truly, it is the best/worst of times, an irony of which I am constantly aware. That is, never before in human history has the perennial wisdom been so readily available, and yet, never before has it been so devalued or just ignored by the masses. True, there is in a sense "more for the rest of us," the living remnant, so we got that going for us. Nevertheless, no sane person enjoys peacefully sitting in Upper Tonga while watching the world go to hell in a handbasket.

For Father Rose, "the marked increase in 'other-worldly' experiences is doubtless one of the signs of the approaching end of this world." This kind of statement is easy to misinterpret, but when he says "end of the world," I take it to mean something similar to what has happened in the past, when one world violently ended in order to give birth to another.

This has occurred on many occasions, and it is always a wrenching experience -- say, the end of the Roman Empire, or the transition from an agrarian to an industrial economy. People casually talk about the "information revolution," as if they know what it is. But we may have only seen the tip of a world-historical iceberg with extremely far-reaching and fundamentally unpredictable consequences -- as unpredictable, say, as the acquisition of literacy among the masses instead of just a handful of elites at the top.

We don't yet understand the consequences of the internet, and of "every man his own journalist," so to speak. FDR was the first president to capitalize on the new medium of radio, while JFK was the first to exploit television. We haven't yet reached the tipping point at which information becomes completely decentralized with the eventual death of the MSM -- which clearly does not provide useful "information," but a kind of top-down stability, a common mythology for the under- and overeducated. No one has any idea what will emerge from the complex and a non-linear system that results from the extinction of the state-controlled media.

When a system enters a chaotic phase, I think heaven (and hell!) is "closer," so to speak. Father Rose says that "as the present world approaches its end, the world of eternity looms nearer.... The end of the world merges with the beginning of eternal life."

This makes perfect sense if you apply the principle to your own life. Think of death, for example. When a loved one dies, you are plunged into a very different space; or, it is as if this one is infused with, or interpenetrated by, another. It's the same with psychoanalytic therapy, which facilitates a "willed breakdown," so to speak, so that a new consciousness will spontaneously emerge from the rubble. But it is an intrinsically dangerous process, because one really doesn't know what will emerge. Any therapist who promises outcome X is simply fooling you and fooling himself, because complex and non-linear systems just don't work that way.

Which, of course, speaks to one of the root fallacies of the left, the belief that you can tinker with one aspect of a complex system in order to arrive at the preferred outcome. Have you ever wondered why the very same people who believe in state control of the economy also believe in the pseudo-science of climate change? This is the reason why. Their minds are pre-programmed to believe that the world is as linear and predictable as their models of it, and that it is possible for the human mind to master the literally infinite amount of information in a system as complex as the economy or climate.

Back to the seeming closeness of heaven and earth in these troubled times. Father Rose writes that "never before has mankind been given such striking and clear proofs -- or at least 'hints' -- that there is another world, that life does not end with the death of the body, that there is a soul that survives death and is indeed more conscious and alive after death." But what do people do with it? Most seem to simply become more confused. It reminds me of the gift of literacy. What do most people do with it? Basically just waste it on garbage and trivia.

Now some intriguing details. Father Rose says that "the dying person's spiritual vision often begins even before death," apparently because the two worlds are drawing closer together, so to speak. It is as if the other world penetrates and infuses this one with a peculiar but distinct energy, something most people can experience when in the presence of the dying loved one.

Since premature death was so much more commonplace in the past, I wonder if people were much more aware of this space, or even lived in it most of the time? For them, the security we take for granted was an extreme rarity, if it occurred at all. People were not secure in their person, their health, their food supply, nothing. Thus, perhaps it was much easier for them to acknowledge the one true source of security in the Absolute.

This again speaks to the historical irony of contemporary man, whose increased security causes him to hold on that much more tightly to those very things that moth and rust doth corrupt, except a bit more slowly. Again, for this reason, spiritual progress is simultaneously easier and more difficult than ever before. Nevertheless, I give myself a B+.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Life and Death Are Like Night and Day

Addendum at the beginum of this postum: Please consider this post entirely speculative in nature. I don't normally like to engage in idle speculation, but in certain matters of the night, one hardly has a choice. So this is just Bob's unconscious, riffing off the top or possibly bottom of his head, depending on your point of view. It is anything but dogmatic, just a bed-time story made up on the spot... or maybe like fumbling around for your shoes in a dark closet.

It just popped into my head that perhaps there are two paradises -- a night paradise and a day paradise. This would be one sensible way to reconcile dualism and non-dualism, the former corresponding to the eternal daytimelessness, the latter to the endless nighttimelessness, when everything merges into one. If this were the case, it is definitely something I could live with, because it would be just like life.

I mean, I love my days, but by 10:00, I've had enough. I'm ready to let myself go, die to the day, and blissfully dissolve into the sweet darkness of the underworld. But then in the morning, it's like a brand new creation. Really, life would be unendurable without the gift of sleep, no matter how good the day. It's like rebooting your computer.

Thanks to the sleep/wake cycle, life isn't an endless line, but an inward spiral. I always feel a bit sorry for people who say that they sleep as little as possible because they want to cram as much living as they can into their short life -- as if one isn't alive when asleep! Most such people actually have a fear of the unconscious -- of falling into its world -- and defend against it by staying "awake." But that just ends up being a wake, as Joyce knew. These types are usually pretty boring, the superficial "excitement" of their lives notwithstanding.

In fact, the whole structure of Finnegans Wake revolves around the sleep/wake cycle, both on a macro and micro level. It's fractally constructed, so that nearly every page reflects the death-rebirth (or sleeping-waking) motif of its overall circular structure. In the end, the dreamer flows into the ocean, only for the ocean to evaporate, form clouds, and resupply the river. We can isolate one part, but it's obviously a total process, like systole and diastole.

It reminds me of psychoanalytic training, during which the candidate undergoes analysis four or five days a week. One of the reasons for this is that material that comes out during the session is worked over at night, so that the dream material becomes grist for the mill in the next session. Just as there are times that heaven and earth are brought closer together, e.g. the "sacred time" of religious ritual, it is possible to bring the worlds of the conscious and unconscious "closer," resulting in a more creative and harmonious life.

There is no question that the unconscious is "feminine" while the conscious is "masculine"; the same can be said of night (female, lunar) and day (male, solar). Can it then be said that non-dualism tells us something about the feminine side of God?

Oh, I think so. Christianity is an explicitly solar religion, and yet, since it is a full service faith, Mary plays a prominent role, even if it is not necessarily articulated into a coherent metaphysic by most of the faithful. Nor does it need to be, for that is part of the whole point: to "understand" Mary with the wideawake and cutandry logic of the day is like trying to r**son with your w**e when s*e's in one of those "m**ds." Can't be done. You just end up in a deeper hole.

Now, let's suppose that since man is in the image of the Creator, the sleep-wake cycle does indeed reveal something of what goes on inside the godhead. As it so happens, there are those who maintain -- and I believe Bolton would be one of them -- that creation itself follows this pattern. In other words, it is as if, on the macro scale, creation itself is the "day of God," so it will not and cannot last forever. Someday it will all end. The cosmic sun will set. But that is no more the end-end than to sleep is to die. An awful lot of stuff goes on at night on every level -- mind, body and spirit.

In my book, I think you can see that I struggled to reconcile east and west, dualism and non-dualism, naught and deity. My "solution" is found in its circular structure, which, in a way, harmonizes dualism and non-dualism through the metaphor of birth. In the womb we are at one with the cosmos, floating weightlessly in a watery medium, all our needs spontaneously met before we are even aware of them. Indeed, to be aware of "need" is to be aware of self; this is what Bion meant when he said that the infant's experience of "no-breast" was the dawn of self-consciousness.

For that is when you "realize," however inchoately, that you are not the source of life, able to magically feed yourself, but in relation to it. So the birth of the self is also the breakthrough of relationship into being. It also puts the kibosh on narcissism; or alternatively -- if something goes awry at this stage -- cultivates the soil of narcissism, which ultimately comes down to the delusion of primitive self-sufficiency, even while one needs to surround oneself with two-dimensional others -- who are just props in the narcissist's psychic fantasy -- in order to support the delusion.

To cite a vivid example, the narcissist is always masturbating, even -- or especially -- during sex. But sex itself is just a metaphor. The narcissist is also masturbating while, say, delivering a lecture on climate change, which is why Copenhagen is truly an international jerk circle.

Let's return to Father Rose's account of the after-death situation. We've been greeted by the two angels at the terminal, who grab us by the astral body and conduct us... where? Why, to court, of course. Everyone is entitled to deus process and their deity in court, even terrorists and other mass murderers.

Rose quotes St. Ignatius, who wrote that "A judging and distinguishing are required to define the degree of a Christian soul's inclination to sin, in order to define what predominates in it..." Here, the elaborate veils of self-deception and self-justification are stripped away, and your true motives revealed. In that sense, God doesn't even have to say anything, for the problem becomes obvious: "Oh. I get it now." This is very painful, the pain depending upon the distance between the lie and the Truth, rationalization and Reason.

Interestingly, Father Rose acknowledges a striking similarity between Orthodoxy and The Tibetan Book of the Dead, what with its account of various "bardo planes" one passes through. These correspond to neither heaven nor hell, but depict "the aerial world of the under-heaven where fallen spirits dwell and are active in deceiving men for their damnation." It is actually an "invisible part of this world that man must pass through to reach the truly 'other' world of heaven or hell."

Father Rose discusses the intense feelings of peace and tranquility people reportedly experience during near-death experiences, but here again, these could be deceptive. He points out that these could be more or less "natural" sensations that occur as a result of being liberated from the body. To paraphrase Ram Dass, death is like removing a tight pair of shoes. Father Rose says that "When separated from this body, the soul is immediately in a state more 'natural' to it, closer to the state God intends for it.... In this sense, the 'peace' and 'pleasantness' of the out-of-body experience may be considered real and not a deception."

However, deception enters the picture if these transient feelings are considered ultimately real, "as though this peace were the true peace of reconciliation with God, and 'pleasantness' were the true spiritual pleasure of heaven."

Father Rose contrasts this with various saints who have had the experience of the "space of heaven" breaking into this world: "more important characteristics are added in this experience: the brightness of the light of heaven; the invisible presence of Lord, Whose voice is heard; the Saint's awe and fear before the Lord; and a tangible sensing of Divine grace, in the form of an indescribable fragrance. Further, it is specified that the multitude of 'people' encountered in heaven are... the souls of martyrs and holy men."

To be continued...

Why Frank? Why not?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Is There Life Before Death?

No, I'm not going wobbly on you, but I'd like to try to weave together the book we had been discussing -- The One and The Many -- with Father Rose's discussion of the soul after death.

Why? I don't know, just a little glass bead parlor game I like to play, that is, putting two random things side by side and seeing how they can be reconciled into a higher unity. For one thing, it helps me vault myself into the unKnown, beyond the edge of the subjective space I've already colonized. You might say it's my hobby. I mean, if you really only want Father Rose's take, you can always get his book.

Remember, all science -- including the science of God -- involves the reduction of multiplicity to unity, or in apprehending the unity underlying the multiplicity. But also, I feel as if I'm actually learning something if, instead of just rewordgitating someone else's work, I let the ingredients macerate in my own crockpot. I may well end up saying the same thing, but at least it will have my own grubby soulprint on it. It may be a crock, but at least it's my own.

As a matter of fact, much of this morbid discussion comes down to the question of whether the soul exists. If she does, then I don't think it's much of a stretch to say that she is nonlocal (both in space and time) and that she could under no absurcumstances result from a strictly blind material process. Therefore, the soul must continue after the event of biological death, or it's not much of a soul, now is it?

Before we veered in this new deadly direction, Bolton was just about to get into this. He notes that Descartes affirms the existence of the soul, but then diminishes its significance by equating it "with things the Scholastics would have called its accidents," that is, mere thoughts. This is in contrast to Aquinas, who maintained (correctly, in my opinion) that the soul must be an individual substance which determines "the nature of the whole person, independently of the conscious phenomena of thoughts and sensations they may entertain."

Now, most any person infected with the soul-killing virus of postmodernism will say that Aquinas is not only wrong, but that he cannot possibly be correct, since he is making an "essentialist" argument, and we all know that essences do not exist. There is no enduring self; rather, it's just a side effect -- a persistent illusion -- that is recreated on a moment-to-moment basis by brain activity. Thus, not only is it not unchanging, but it is always changing, until you croak. Like your body -- or better yet, like a whirlpool -- it is a function of its own activity. At this very moment we're all circling the drain, and soon enough we'll all be down it.

But for Aquinas, the soul is the form of the body; or, body is the substance of soul. The soul is its "immaterial type and causal principle," which is precisely the opposite of the postmodern view that insists the soul is the accidental expression of the body.

There are so many insurmountable problems with the latter view, that it could only gain traction in a world that has lost any sense of the wisdom and truth at its own origin and center. For to say that all is accident and contingency is to say that nothing can be known by nobody, and that there's no earthly reason to pretend to know it anyway.

This is a strictly insane worldview, which would make sanity a kind of insanity, since there would no ontological basis for any kind of stability or continuity, much less post-biological continuity. (Here again, the conservative project of honoring and conserving the "permanent things" is another word for sanity in a world gone mad with relativism and nihilism.)

I think this little preface is helpful, because it lays a foundation for some of the things Father Rose says, which otherwise might sound implausible. We left off with his account of the two angels who meet the newly reposed, like a couple of taxi drivers waiting down at the terminal when you disembark from the plane. I can see them now, holding an improvised cardboard sign saying GOODWIN. (People always add in the extra O.)

By the way, Father Rose makes the important point that while angels are immaterial in relation to us, they are material in relation to God; this accords with the idea of the "ray of creation" extending from the cosmic center to the periphery, and which becomes increasingly material the further it extends from the center. You will have no doubt noticed that as you develop spiritually, you become "lighter" and more "transparent," so to speak. You may become especially aware of it during a religious service, while meditating, doing hatha yoga, etc.

Father Rose next discusses the "visions of heaven" that are sometimes seen by dying people, and which are possibly false and misleading. Often, "these visions are not spiritual, but worldly. They are so quick, so easily attained, so common, so earthly in their imagery, that there can be no serious comparison of them with the Christian visions of heaven..." One immediately thinks of Islamist visions of the afterlife, -- the 72 virgins, and all the rest -- which are pure demonic fantasy disgorged from the primitive unconscious.

In order to provide some additional context, Father Rose next discusses "how man, having originally been capable of the sensuous perception of spirits, has generally lost this capacity as a result of the fall." Interestingly, "by a man's own means," he "can enter into communion with fallen spirits; but he cannot enter into communion with angels except by God's will."

Now, I don't think it matters whether one regards the Fall as literal or metaphorical, for the more important point is the perennial truth it conveys. And it is surely true that, for whatever reason, as a man develops spiritually, it is as if he recover a capacity to discern the spiritual world.

In a way, this is no more mysterious -- indeed, probably less so! -- than what happens to an infant. One of the first things I noticed about having a child is that it is literally like watching someone miraculously age in reverse -- like a person recovering from a crippling stroke. At first he's paralyzed, nonverbal, and incontinent; he can't walk, feed himself, or auto-regulate his emotions.

But it's not just a "physical" recovery. Rather, day by day, he enters the nonlocal human realm and discovers -- recovers? -- himSelf. And I believe -- no, I'm convinced -- that this is a lifelong process. That is, in a very real sense, life is the process of "becoming who you already are." Only someone who is profoundly and tragically alienated from himself is incapable of sensing this.

I might add that this is one of the seals of authenticity in genuine mental illness, e.g., a real depression or anxiety disorder. One of the most difficult aspects of depression is the loss of one's self, as it causes a kind of profound ontological -- and therefore spiritual -- disorientation. Everything that connected oneself to oneself and to the world suddenly goes dead -- as if someone cut the lines. All the signposts of meaning vanish, so that the world becomes flat and empty.

To me, that is death. In other words, "death" is not something that could occur "after" life, only "within" it. It's like they say -- the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. To lose one's soul is to be dead, whenever it occurs.

To be continued....