Thursday, June 17, 2010

Setting Up Camp On the Sacred Mountain and Enjoying the View

Now that this post has been written, it seems to me to be more of a summary and consolidation of our little journey so far. It is as if we have set up camp and are enjoying the view, as we rest in preparation for our next assault upon on the summit. So get a good night's rest, and we'll break camp tomorrow.

As we have been discussing, the now-and-not yet of (•) --> O maps the human journey from outer to inner and existence to essence, toward the Being without whom our life is not real. It is why we're here, because in the absence this sufficient reason, there is no other way to explain why this journey exists, nor why it is so universal (cf. The Spiritual Ascent: A Compendium of the World's Wisdom).

To try to account for this trajectory on wholly naturalistic grounds is analogous to affirming that eyes exist but that vision doesn't. But if vision exists, it is surely in order to see. And if (•) --> O occurs, it is in order to evolve, specifically, in faith, hope, and love toward the true, good, and beautiful, respectively (although the categories are all interlinked in an organic manner).

The very possibility of truth, love, and beauty only exists because O casts a shadow back in time (or down in vertical space, if you prefer). These three transcendentals (the good, true, and beautiful) -- or their "degrees," to be precise -- are all located on the right side of our Ø <-- (•) --> O schematic. Conversely, sin, falsehood, ugliness, Helen Thomas -- each of these may be located on the left hand side. Human choice, i.e., free will, is located at that vertical innersection between O and Ø.

This is simply a truism, even for the atheist, for surely the atheist -- we're being charitable here -- wishes to move "closer" to truth and to avoid "falling" into error? Or to be a "good person," not a flaming assoul? This is not something that can be said of any other animal, which simply is what it is, a stationary point in the fabric of existence. No pig fails to achieve the essence of pighood, not even Rosie O'Donnell.

Now, as Pieper explains, "the 'way' of man leads to death." You could even say that death is his ultimate meaning, since it is where he accidently came from and where he necessarily returns at the conclusion of this fleeting absurdity known as Life. There is simply no avoiding the fact that the life of natural man bears upon death and therefore nothingness.

That being the case, there is no rational basis for hope, faith, nobility, justice, or anything else, really. I don't mind the atheists who are honest about this. It's the ones who try to wrench truth, goodness or beauty from Ø that are so annoying and childish. But as a psychotic patient of mine once said, "you can only get so much blood from a turnip." And you can get bupkis from Ø, precisely.

Even the atheist must concede that the life of the believer bears upon something transcending death, even if he insists that the latter isn't real. The believer sees this target and tries to hit it, while the atheist insists that there is no target to hit (even while absurdly maintaining that atheism is the only real target, and that those who fail to hit it are in error).

Man's journey is rooted in the reality of time. If, as some physicists say, time were just a "stubborn illusion" or a mere quantitative measure, then (•) --> O would not be possible. But as Pieper explains, "man's 'way' is 'temporality.' Time, in fact, exists only in reference to the transitoriness of man." And we can only know this because a part of us -- our spirit -- stands "above" time.

I should immediately amend that statement, because in reality, spirit is not a "part," but our essence. In an analogy used by Steinsaltz, the soul is not a point, but a "continuous line of spiritual being" that stretches from the general source (O) to "the specific body of a particular person," (•).

You could say that this is the lifeline that God tosses down into our existence. It is not only the source of our wholeness, but its very ground and possibility. An assoul is precisely someone who is not a whole but an a-hole. Nor is he the existential hole that only spirit can fill, but already full of himself.

You could say that O is Absolute Being, where essence and existence are one (or not-two). In contrast, man is "not his own essence." Rather, "his essence is 'in the process of becoming."

But there can be no real becoming for the man oriented to Ø , who is "imprisoned in nothingness." Even so, being that man is condemned to freedom, turning toward death and nothingness is a choice -- a choice which, ironically, wouldn't even be possible unless its alternative were a real possibility as well. To say that "free will exists in order to choose nothing" is really to say that free will doesn't exist in any meaningful sense.

Here is how Pieper describes the human situation, as we hang suspended between O and Ø : "The whole span of creaturely existence between being and nothingness can never be understood, then, as though the relationship to nothingness were simply to be assigned equal rank with the relationship to being -- or were even to be ranked before or above it" (Pieper).

Rather, Ø is only even possible because it is a function of O, just as falsehood cannot exist in the absence of truth, or ugliness without beauty. Ø is "parasitic" on O, so to speak, as death is parasitic on Life.

Therefore, the human adventure "is not a directionless back-and-forth between being and nothingness." Rather, "it leads toward being and away from nothingness; it leads to realization, not annihilation, although this realization is 'not yet' fulfilled and the fall into nothingness is 'not yet' impossible" (Pieper).

Which is why both existential despair and its useless sister, certainty of salvation, "are in conflict with the truth of reality" (ibid.), and not befitting the magnanimous gentleman who is going places in this life. With the fear and trembling appropriate to such a steep climb.


Blogger vanderleun said...

My question is, "Did you bring the picnic basket?"

6/17/2010 08:20:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...


6/17/2010 08:26:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

"...summary and consolidation..."

Like maybe an 'outline'?

...the soul is not a point, but a "continuous line of spiritual being" that stretches from the general source (O) to "the specific body of a particular person."

You could say that this is the lifeline that God tosses down into our existence.

Still, we must "look up" and "reach up" in the windy times of heavy change.

Re: the term 'gentleman,' an old Irish joke:
If you are a gentleman, and I am a gentleman, who, then, shall milk the cows?

6/17/2010 08:36:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Nor is he the existential hole that only spirit can fill, but already full of himself."

And we all know what that consists of.

6/17/2010 10:19:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"To say that "free will exists in order to choose nothing" is really to say that free will doesn't exist in any meaningful sense."

Kinda like calling abortion a "choice" or coining the phrase "death with dignity."

No free will there, just death (or nothingness) personified.

6/17/2010 10:24:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

IRT my last comment a clarification: the moment one chooses death freely his will becomes enslaved.
Akin to the Jews that wanted to return to Egypt.
Better to be in the wilderness than that because it's too late to free yer mind after death.

6/17/2010 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger vanderleun said...

Okay, but before choosing death, can I get the Ham on Wry I ordered?

6/17/2010 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"Therefore, the human adventure "is not a directionless back-and-forth between being and nothingness." Rather, "it leads toward being and away from nothingness; it leads to realization, not annihilation, although this realization is 'not yet' fulfilled and the fall into nothingness is 'not yet' impossible" (Pieper)."

"Hey Boo Boo! Let's go get us some picanic bas-keets!"
"O... but Yogi... the Ranger...."
"Doan't worry Boo Boo, what the Ranger doan't gno, won't hurt us!"

Free Will: Use it or lose it.

6/17/2010 02:13:00 PM  
Blogger anon said...

You have to wonder about someone who climbs way up on the sacred mountain and still obsesses about and finds it necessary to insult Rosie O'Donnell and Helen Thomas. I'm guessing you are bringing a lot of baggage with you, and I doubt you can reach the top that way.

6/17/2010 02:20:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

We wonder about someone who obsesses enough about the B'ob, Master of Trolls, to pore over his every post in search of a reason to display his impudence.

We also wonder if he has a thing for Helen Thomas.

6/17/2010 02:34:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Alas and alack anon probably wouldn't think Brother Dave Garner was funny, either.

6/17/2010 02:39:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

Makes no difference: at the beach, wandering the desert, or atop the sacred mountain, it is still necessary to insult Rosie O'Donnell and Helen Thomas.

6/17/2010 02:40:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

For left wing thought police, there's nothing funny about political incorrectness! Next time I'll make it a Sarah Palin joke.

"First they came for the 'hate speech,' and I did nothing...."

6/17/2010 02:41:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

If you can't laugh at a Jew-hating crone welcomed by the state run media, or a fat lesbian communist who thinks 9-11 was an inside job, who can you laugh at? I mean, besides anon?

6/17/2010 02:45:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...


Cooncur. One cannot love God without hating evil.

6/17/2010 02:47:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

...and its useless sister, certainty of salvation...

Humility is always a good thing, no matter how it comes to us.

6/17/2010 02:48:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

If you can't laugh at a Jew-hating crone welcomed by the state run media, or a fat lesbian communist who thinks 9-11 was an inside job, who can you laugh at?

There's always Larry King.

6/17/2010 02:51:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I am the lizard King. I can't do anything.

6/17/2010 02:52:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I'm one of the few who watches Larry King on TV. He actually has season tickets to the Dodgers, and sits in the third row right behind home plate, so I can't avoid him.

6/17/2010 02:56:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

"I braved a flood of radical leftist whining, disdain, and petulance" : more here.

6/17/2010 03:04:00 PM  
Blogger anon said...

Well, I have been known to make fun of Sarah Palin. I don't do it in church, however. I don't do it when I'm trying to approach the sacred. In my experience, such activity demands an attitude of humility and compassion, not smugness and aggression. But maybe your sacred is different than mine.

6/17/2010 03:05:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

I'm one of the few who watches Larry King on TV.

For just a second there, I was almost concerned; it can't possibly be healthy to torture oneself that way. But since you don't also have to listen to him, the negative effects must be greatly reduced...

6/17/2010 03:07:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Then again, even listening to Larry King probably isn't all that much worse than reading anony's comments on a daily basis.

6/17/2010 03:08:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"maybe your sacred is different than mine."

Ya think?

6/17/2010 03:10:00 PM  
Blogger Dianne said...

Anon said "But maybe your sacred is different than mine."

I'm guessing that must be the case, since you can't seem to tell the liars from the people who believe truth is of the utmost importance.

You don't seem to have a problem attacking conservatives, but you defend the worst kind of liars.

And don't think you're fulfilling your spiritual obligations by just showing up at Church, or that we're impressed by that. Muslims are devout too, but look where it's gotten them. Their religion turns them into depraved murderers.

Instead of spending so much time here trying to prove to yourself that people here are wrong, you should be spending your time praying and asking God to show you the truth.

But you're guilty of what you accuse Bob of being - so positive that you're right and everyone else is wrong. It's called projection.

6/17/2010 03:25:00 PM  
Blogger anon said...

But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.

-- the Sermon on the Mount

6/17/2010 03:36:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Today's wtf.

Call me crazy, but it strikes me that discouraging kids from having deep relationships with other kids is a great way to keep them from developing any real depth in other areas of their lives. How can one understand communion if one is simply a part of the hive mind? Of course, I'm sure that's the goal, right along with eliminating competitive sports (and sportsmanship) and anything else that involves making judgment calls about people.

6/17/2010 03:37:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...


oh, irony!

That's pretty funny, quoting the Sermon on the Mount as a way of judging by proxy. I had no idea you were such a comedian!

6/17/2010 03:40:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Since when does the devil quote scripture?

6/17/2010 03:44:00 PM  
Blogger Dianne said...

The devil uses scripture all the time. Just look at Pelosi for another example. To try and spike our spokes when we defend ourselves.

But after some thought, I ask, who does Jesus mean by Brothers and Sisters? I think he means fellow Christians. And we are still free to love people who are not Christians - but we don't have to let ourselves get taken over by a bunch neanderthals. God also gave us a brain and the cpacity to think and reason.

6/17/2010 03:55:00 PM  
Blogger anon said...

Sure, maybe I'm the devil using your own scriptures against you. Better plug your ears.

All I'm saying, if you climb all that way up the mountain and still have the devil and Rosie and Larry King bugging you, maybe -- just maybe -- you're doing it wrong.

6/17/2010 04:19:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yours is not the wisdom our Raccoon furbears preserved and handed down to us. For it is written: irreverence shall be your sacred cow (Sayings of Toots, Sura 8:23).

6/17/2010 04:30:00 PM  
Blogger jwm said...

Here's what I want to do- go out of my way to find an on-line forum filled with folks with whom I stridently disagree, and then spend hours and hours of my time trying to start arguments with them.
Doesn't that sound like totally cool fun?


6/17/2010 04:53:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

humility---milarepa was to first meet some other siddha in the north, at a place frequented by many yogins... one recognized the other by his notably-absent-in-the-others humble demeanor

...altho' as Marc Bolan at the height of T-Rex-mania quipped:
'The kids adore me for my chutzpah'

6/17/2010 04:57:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

anone quoting the Bible... please.

Funny how the Devil is in the details... or more precisely, is in the absence of the full context - shouldn't be surprising, the Devil, and the Leftist (but I repeat myself), knows that the best lie is that which has some sheen of truth, usually gleaned from presenting isolated bits of data - as if they could possibly have the aura of knowledge without an integrated context... but then again... Devil... tunnel vision of details... leftist....

Although not technically a Christian, I think I really ought to repost anone's quote with a wee bit more of the surrounding 'details', not surprisingly, conveys a bit different meaning than the isolated snippet it chose:

"... 14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
21 Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.
26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.
27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
31 It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:
32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery. ..."


6/17/2010 05:01:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...


Not come to destroy the law, or to relativize it into meaninglessness, but to fulfill it. Far from being a call to namby pambiesm, it is a call to remember that the law doesn't live in the letter of the legislation, but in the spirit of the law which inspired it to be written. It isn't a call to be nicey nice to everybody, but to alert you that if you be a hypocrite, if you try to posture about as if you uphold the law, all the while you are violating it yourself, be prepared to be reap the consequences.

anone... I believe your quote was directed towards you. Listening?

6/17/2010 05:01:00 PM  
Blogger Dianne said...

Next time anon "quotes" scripture I'll look it up for myself before I reply.

6/17/2010 05:29:00 PM  
Blogger vanderleun said...

OKAY, if I can't get a Ham on Wry, how about a Francis Bacon, Letuspray, and Tomato on a Holy Wafer slider?

6/17/2010 06:36:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Sunset is an angel weeping
Holding out a bloody sword
No matter how I squint I cannot
Make out what it's pointing toward
Sometimes you feel like you live too long
Days drip slowly on the page
You catch yourself
Pacing the cage

I've proven who I am so many times
The magnetic strip's worn thin
And each time I was someone else
And every one was taken in
Powers chatter in high places
Stir up eddies in the dust of rage
Set me to pacing the cage

I never knew what you all wanted
So I gave you everything
All that I could pillage
All the spells that I could sing
It's as if the thing were written
In the constitution of the age
Sooner or later you'll wind up
Pacing the cage

Sometimes the best map will not guide you
You can't see what's round the bend
Sometimes the road leads through dark places
Sometimes the darkness is your friend
Today these eyes scan bleached-out land
For the coming of the outbound stage
Pacing the cage
Pacing the cage

B Cockburn

6/17/2010 08:45:00 PM  
Blogger anon said...

Van as usual takes many hundreds of words to completely miss the point.

Dianne, why the "quotes" around "quotes"? The passage was copied straight out of the New Revised Standard Version. Also, it's the freaking Sermon on the Mount, one of the most familiar texts in the world. I'm not even Christian and I can quote half of it by heart, so I didn't feel you needed any more context.

6/17/2010 10:35:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

anone, as usual, has his faced pressed so far into the bark of a single tree, that he can't even see treeS, let alone the forest.

And notice again, he doesn't answer any point - such as using a tiny slice of a quote, out of context, in order to distort it's meaning - or even make an actual point of his own, only casts aspersions in another direction and runs away again.

No surprise, but really, what a coward.

BTW, you've got something stuck between your teeth there anone... I think it's tree bark.

6/17/2010 10:58:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

anone said "Van as usual takes many hundreds of words to completely miss the point."

Actually, I didn't write hundreds of words this time, maybe you haven't seen more than a line or two together before, but that was a portion of the "freaking Sermon on the Mount".

Read on....

6/17/2010 11:11:00 PM  
Blogger black hole said...

Well I have to side with anon. The jabs at the individuals were mean-spirited, not ribald or irreverent. And unecesary for the structure of the post. They qualify as evil.

The jabs were not not in keeping with the sermon on the mount. The sermon is far more valid than any possible raccoon formulation. And humor is not going to make this OK. You may no longer hide behind your aw shucks it was just a joke grin.

So here's the thing, Bob. You are on the dock for this one. You are being accused of doing evil by way of slander.

You could recant or even offer an apology. It would not kill you. Like any bad tasting medicine, it might even do you good.

If you want to keep on like that you will lose altitude. You will not find 0 at your side. You will be fighting against the one you champion. That is the very definition of what you don't want.

6/18/2010 12:02:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

(bh, I think you might have messed up there... that last comment was more suited to your grant voice... just sayin'....)

6/18/2010 04:42:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I regret that Helen Thomas is a hideous Jew hating lefty witch. And I also regret that Rosie O'Donnell is an angry loonbat with a borderline personality disorder.

6/18/2010 06:58:00 AM  

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