Sunday, March 21, 2010

Resistance Training For Spiritual Strength and Endurance

An old Sunday Sermon that generated little comment at the time.... Frankly, it's a little cryptic and unsaturated, and will require your comments to flesh out. Or, you could say that it's a half-baked post that you'll need to warm up at home in your own divine fireplace.

In water, resistance increases with the cube of speed. At a leisurely swim, it isn't bad at all, but if you enter the water from a great height, it is nearly like solid rock. Likewise, soil has its own resistance, which at our speed is very high, but roots at their deliberate speed easily find their way through the ground.

When the seeker awakens and begins moving with purpose, there is also a resistance from the "world," and it too increases proportionately with the speed. I'm not sure whether this is a design flaw or the work of a conscious enemy; perhaps it is a security device to keep the crazies from thrashing about too wildly. But it must be very frustrating for one who sees his goal clearly and tries to get there in the limited time given him.

If I were a lesser man, I would have immediately deleted this outstanding comment by Magnus and then claimed credit for it myself. At any rate, it is a fine example of a couple of symbolic "chords" which the Raccoon may use as the basis for a little pneumatic improvisation.

Naturally, in discussing the transnatural, we must rely upon analogies and symbols from the ponderable world, such as "soil," "light," "speed," "height," "water," "resistance," and "asshole." This is not because spirit is a mere projection of these things, but rather, the converse; the "world" is the temporal manifestation of timeless principles that can be understood by the law of analogy ("as above, so below"). Thus, water flows like grace, the sun shines like Truth, and the lower gastrointestinal tract flatulently "speaks" in the manner of the Cosmic Troll, or "anti-Bob."

The reason why the world is so full of analogy, metaphor, and symbol, is that these aren't just literary devices but literal dei-voices, i.e., the ethereal Word made fleshy, or earthereal. No matter how lo One gos, the Logos goes two. And then three, as we shall see. (For if it were only two, that would constitute a dualistic stalemate.)

Thus, we shouldn't be surprised at the fractal and holographic nature of reality, meaning that we see the same patterns and principles repeat themselves at all levels. This is why the pneumanetwork of synchronicities in your life can become so thick that you could cut them with the knife you "coincidentally" hold in your head.

In my own way, I suppose I've always appreciated this analogical cosmic structure, but it took awhile to recognize what I was cognizing and to re-recognize it at a "meta" level. For example, as I've mentioned before, the topic of my doctoral dissertation was the parallels between psychoanalytic metapsychology, quantum physics, and non-linear, dissipative structures in biology.

In short, I saw clear analogies between the way the physicist looks at the subatomic world, the way the biologist looks at life systems, and the way the psychoanalyst conceptualizes the deep structure of mental functioning. "Seeing" is one thing, but seeing what you're seeing is another. And to see this is yet another. In fact, you could almost say that this is the trinitarian structure of transcendence: knowing (which an animal can do), knowing that you know (which humans can do), and then knowing that you know you know (what the gnostic knows).

So, as Magnus suggests, Spirit clearly meets with "resistance" in the herebelow. As for whether this is providential or demonic, let's consider the alternatives -- or whether there could actually be any on this side of manifestation. For example, if you want to create muscular beings with robust skeletons, you need to have gravity. If we had evolved on the moon, we couldn't have evolved, since there isn't enough gravity there to keep us down to earth.

Clearly, physical strength is a function of resistance. Could Spiritual strength function any differently? Isn't our character revealed and honed on the rocks of adversity, the playing fields of Eton, and other clichés? Could there actually be any excellence in the world in the absence of resistance? To put it another way, could any useful thought be produced if we all lived in the friction-free land of the tenured?

I am reminded of the beauty of the competitive free market. One of the reasons the North evolved past the South is that in the case of the latter, physical toil was felt to be beneath the dignity of a proper man. Thus, physical labor was outsourced to slaves and other "undesirables." But it is only by struggling with recalcitrant matter that one begins to unlock its principles. Thus, the North leapt ahead of the South in discovery, invention, and creativity.

For certain non-Western cultures, a similar problem arose, in that the world was regarded as fundamentally illusory and changing, so that the evolved man sought out the timeless principles "behind" or "above" the world. Thus, these cultures produced bupkis.

Only in the logoistic Christian West was it recognized -- or at least practically realized -- that matter is a declension of spirit, so that the world necessarily veils and discloses the "mind of the Creator," so to speak, and is worthy in its own right. This is why "beauty is the splendor of the true," why truth is buried everywhere we look, both surrounding and penetrating us, why the human mind is a mirrorcle of the Abbasolute, yada yada, etc., etc.

[T]here is no metaphysical or spiritual difference between a truth manifested by temporal facts and a truth expressed by other symbols, under a mythological form.... With God, truth lies above all in the symbol's effective power of enlightenment and not in its literalness....

Historical reality is less "real" than the profound truth it expresses, and which myths likewise express; a mythological symbolism is infinitely more "true" than a fact deprived of symbolism....

The uncreated Word shatters speech while at the same time directing it toward concrete and saving truth.

In coonclusion, God is not so much a rigid mathematician as a playful mythsemantician.


Blogger Tigtog said...

In coonclusion, God is not so much a rigid mathematician as a playful mythsemantician.

Ever wonder if He just wants us to play with Him?

3/21/2010 08:38:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Oh, I think he does. Thus Jesus' statements about being childlike (not childish). This itself is remarkable, given how poorly children were regarded in the ancient world. But for a child, play is their work, and vice versa. We should be the same.

3/21/2010 08:55:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Plus, as the rabbis have always known, scripture is full of Wordplay, so we should join the fun and play back.

3/21/2010 09:01:00 AM  
Blogger Jack said...


...[T]he first and fundamental principle of esotericism (i.e. of the way of experience of the reality of the spirit) can be rendered by the formula:

Learn at first the concentration without effort; transform work into play; make every yoke that you have accepted easy and every burden that you carry light!

3/21/2010 09:03:00 AM  
Blogger Tigtog said...

To Gagdad and Jack

I will try this approach while raking and bagging leaves. So far its boring repetitive sledding.

3/21/2010 09:10:00 AM  
Blogger Mizz E said...

This 'early raccoon' found this to be a worthwhile, complimentary companion to today's coonmentary on our playful mythsemantician.


[May our play today include prayers for wisdom for members of Congress so today will not go down in history as the day that led to the death of millions more innocent children.]

3/21/2010 09:24:00 AM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Would the physical world at times be trying to throw huge hints at us, or are we just in the gnosis-with-the-mostest?

Iceland is burning.


3/21/2010 09:51:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

This book I'm reading by Stratford CaldecottBeauty for Truth's Sake, does a wonderful job of explaining just how much the Logos speaks to us through the world, and just how much precious human reality we lose when we fail to see things that way.

3/21/2010 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

I love Magnus's analogy. I would point out, though, that the resistance we encounter is not a "natural" occurrence, but a telling sign that we are out of joint with nature's God. I believe our capacity for grief is the most significant sign of this. It wasn't intended to be this way.

3/21/2010 10:06:00 AM  
Blogger Tigtog said...

To Susannah re:

" I would point out, though, that the resistance we encounter is not a "natural" occurrence, but a telling sign that we are out of joint with nature's God."

Not to be nit picky, but shouldn't it be that we are out of joint with God's nature?

3/21/2010 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

O, Susannah, no.

3/21/2010 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Maybe I misunderstood. If you are talking about resistance to moving toward God, then, yes, it is the sea anchor of the old nature holding us back. Like that scene in Master and Commander where they have to cut the broken rigging loose (and a poor sailor with it) to keep the ship from going down in a storm.

However, my first thought was with regard to all the resistance the righteous get from the world system -- "in the world you shall have tribulation" and all.

I am perhaps, as word veri suggests, gueni this morning.

3/21/2010 10:24:00 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Yes, you're right mushroom. I stated it wrong. I was just mixing in all of Bob's recent observations about the darkness of sin and the fallenness of humankind--it's not what we were created for, and the fact that we grieve I think shows it so. I don't believe it is our "natural" (as in created, intended) state. We have not arisen from an animal state so much as we have fallen to its depth.

But you're right, the analogy is the righteous having to live by faith in a world *system* that prefers the darkness.

3/21/2010 10:33:00 AM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Pondering the at-rest state of the elements in the example, and the unavoidable contrast with elements in motion. Tidal waves, mudslides, volcanoes.

When to resist, when to step aside and watch, watch and pray that we're not in the path.

3/21/2010 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger Grant Maher said...

The world's resistance is like the abrasive grains on sandpaper, or like the blows of the smiths hammer on the iron, or like water coursing over the stone riverbed..

The world is designed to craft and then polish an utterly beautiful soul into existence, and that takes resistance

3/21/2010 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Could there actually be any excellence in the world in the absence of resistance? To put it another way, could any useful thought be produced if we all lived in the friction-free land of the tenured?"

Talk about a self demonstrating statement - as no useful thoughts are produced there - Nope.

I remember that quote by Magnus... a real Bell thrummer.

3/21/2010 02:04:00 PM  
Blogger jwm said...

Historical reality is less "real" than the profound truth it expresses, and which myths likewise express; a mythological symbolism is infinitely more "true" than a fact deprived of symbolism....

We are a living parable right now. This day. The story is in the midst of its telling. Which hard lesson will be taught?

wv says "ending".
I jest not.


3/21/2010 02:22:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Gagdad said "Stratford Caldecott Beauty for Truth's Sake..."

Ah... come on! Sheesh... my book wish list grows another book longer (but this one is moving up to the top of the list... right up my alley).

3/21/2010 02:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Krakow bottom feeder said...

We must qualify the nature of resistance; there are two sorts, one being the useless kind you bring upon yourself by making careless errors, and the other is that supplied by Fate for training purposes.

Happenstance that comes out of nowhere despite your due vigilance and care is likely instructional and therefore it is an "exam" you are being asked to take.

Forgetting your mate's birthday or anniversary for the second or third time is the kind of ridiculous trouble that can be avoided by paying attention.

3/21/2010 02:58:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Because we can!

3/22/2010 07:48:00 AM  

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