Friday, July 30, 2010

World. War. Three.

I'm reading a book that may have some relevance to our discussion of spiritual warfare against bad citizens of various cosmic dimensions, Philokalia: The Bible of Orthodox Spirituality.

In fact, spiritual warfare might be the unifying theme of the Philokalia, as it was originally written for monastics in pursuit of deification, which always involves purification, illumination and union. And purification is none other than declaring war on lower vertical influences and ridding oneself of mind parasites.

This particular edition is a greatly condensed and dumbed-down version that attempts to make the Philokalia more relevant to non-monastics and accessible to moderns.

For example, Fr. Anthony says at the outset that "the call to spiritual living" is addressed to everyone, but that each "must live the spiritual life in the context of their calling."

And not everyone is called to be a monk, or a priest, or a theologian. It's very similar to what the Bhagavad Gita says about being true to one's dharma. Some are called to be warriors, some merchants, and others householders. As they say, "following another man's dharma is a great danger."

One thing the left doesn't understand about military life is that it is a spiritual calling, like the priesthood. What could be more spiritual than killing evildoers and breaking their stuff?

The distaste for military combat is simply a mirror of the prior wimpified rejection of spiritual combat. The left surely engages in battle -- that's all they do -- but for them, the battle is wholly externalized, with no understanding of human nature and how it will spoil any victory for them. Thus we end up being physically governed by the spiritually ungoverned.

Real warriors understand the spiritual nature of combat -- you might say that they have heroically transposed the unseen combat of the spiritual world back down to the material plane. Thanks to them, we are free to pursue a life of unseen spirituality, instead of the visible kind.

Mind parasites are like seeds, but so too is our divine spark. Both require cultivation in order to grow and flourish. The Philokalia is absolutely opposed to the idea that one is suddenly "born again," and that's it. Rather, that's only the beginning.

Furthermore, as mentioned yesterday, vertical rebirth is not only an invitation to spiritual warfare, but a declaration of it. Conquering more territory results in sanctification, deification, salvation, and theosis, but the battle is never over. "It is a process of unending spiritual growth.... God's grace plus our own cooperation [what we call (↓↑)] lead to salvation."

Fr. Anthony: "Spirituality needs to be rediscovered today because if we are not filled with the Holy Spirit, there are many unholy, evil spirits out there waiting to rush in and fill the vacuum. It is not only nature but also the soul that abhors a vacuum. You will either be filled with the Holy Spirit and be free, or you will be filled with evil spirits and be a slave to them."

But importantly, Christianity doesn't really distinguish between worldly and spiritual domains, in that everything should be divinized: for God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.

St. Theophan, the great 19th century Russian Orthodox mystic theologian and staretz, wrote that "the arena, the field of battle, the site where the fight actually takes place, is our own heart and our own inner man. The time of the battle is our whole life."

I think that is a key idea, for there is simply no way to avoid this battle of a lifetime. Or, to be perfectly accurate, you can opt out of the battle on pain of squandering the purpose of your life and caving to the enemy.

You cannot be a conscientious objector in the war for your own soul, only an unconscious objector. You can lay down your weapons, but the Adversary will never put away his. You can be no one's enemy, but that doesn't mean you won't have enemies.

I think the purpose of spiritual combat is to transpose the constant battle of life to a higher key, so to speak. Just as, say, the sex drive is contained and transmuted through marriage, inner conflict is given new meaning by placing it on a higher spiritual plane, on which we polish and perfect our character against the rocks of adversity.

You don't really discover who you are or "what you're made of" until you're up against it. Therefore, to deprive man of adversity is to deprive him of the opportunity to grow and evolve, which is apparently the reason why we are here.

As Petey has explained it to me, angels pretty much know everything, but within a limited domain, and that's it. They cannot evolve, because there is nothing to clash with. Their lives are entirely non-friction, so to speak.

As Theophan wrote, "It was Saint Paul who repeatedly said that the Christian life is an athletic contest, and that we must always train for this contest. He also first likened the Christian life to a battle, and the Christian to a soldier; he described the discipline appropriate to such a warrior; his armour, his offensive and defensive weapons, and the internal and external enemies against whom he has to fight. The Bible is full of this doctrine and its related disciplines.... Most of these combats occur during purification, when man is divided against himself, the old man against the new."

Here's a bullet in: being a spiritual wussifist will not do. Rather, you must choose sides, declare war on yourself, and terminate your mind parasites with extreme prejudice. You can "study war no more," but you'll just end up some body's slave. True enough, God "loves us the way we are; but He loves us too much to leave us the way we are" (Cairns).

There is the world. There is a war. But there is a Third to assist us in the latter.

30 Comments:

Blogger JP said...

Bob says:

"For example, Fr. Anthony says at the outset that "the call to spiritual living" is addressed to everyone, but that each "must live the spiritual life in the context of their calling."

And not everyone is called to be a monk, or a priest, or a theologian. It's very similar to what the Bhagavad Gita says about being true to one's dharma. Some are called to be warriors, some merchants, and others householders. As they say, "following another man's dharma is a great danger."

Well, I've been around here 36 years and I couldn't begin to tell you what my calling is.

7/30/2010 08:32:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Are you listening?

7/30/2010 08:33:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

Apparently not well enough.

Well, for the first 18 years, I listened to my parents. It was easy then.

My calling was to graduate valedectorian and get a full scholarship to college!

Done!

After that, I was kind of left complelely without purpose for a while. I can tell you that my calling is certainly not "chemical engineering."

It was easy to figure out that. When you hav absolutely no interest in an academic subject, that's a good indicator that it's not your calling.

So I can certainly hear what my calling isn't.

Truth be told, Vegas isn't really calling me either.

I'm also not called to be Van. I know this because Van is already busy being Van.

7/30/2010 08:46:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

Bob says:

"Mind parasites are like seeds, but so too is our divine spark. Both require cultivation in order to grow and flourish. The Philokalia is absolutely opposed to the idea that one is suddenly "born again," and that's it. Rather, that's only the beginning."

And that brings me to another complaint about college.

Some of my friends in college were constantly trying to get me to be "born again" and convert to Christiantiy.

It was kind of annoying, since I was Lutheran. They were Pentecostal, Assemblies of God, random Protestant sect, etc.

They really, really disliked Catholics. That much I remember.

I also didn't really have a stake in the apparently endless college debate as to whether you were "Once Saved, Always Saved" vs. "You can Backslide". I think that was a Baptist vs. Pentacostal thing, but I could be wrong.

I went to a state school (Penn State). Not a religious school.

7/30/2010 09:07:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Sounds like it might be time for me to re-read The Red Badge of Courage from a spiritual perspective. I wondered why I so identified with the protagonist of that story.

Like him, I let people fill me with overconfidence about the coming battle that was "already won". Like him, when the bullets did start flying I threw down my weapon and ran. Like him I was wounded but not for valor.

He returned to the battlefield to fight again. I wonder ...

WV accuses me of being corney -- no kidding.

7/30/2010 09:10:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

Sorry. This brought back memories of one of my hobbies back in my high school days.

I would provoke debates between people of different religions and then watch the fun.

For instance, I would get my Mormon girlfriend to into an argument with my Penetcostal friend. It was a Book of Mormon vs. The Inerrant Bible slugfest.

I eventually realized that was a generally bad idea on so many levels.

I also know that starting pointless religious disputes is not my calling.

wv: ebouthow

7/30/2010 09:12:00 AM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

"Most of these combats occur during purification, when man is divided against himself, the old man against the new."

Tell me about it. -_-

Being smart and having good teachers, I had a theoretical understanding of much of this already in my early 20es. But I had no idea what it had to do with my life. It took years of steadfast navelgazing before I started to wake up more and more often and think: "What the hell am I doing? What the HELL am I doing??"

I understand that some people have 1 majestic smackdown that suddenly changes their life. But I suspect they still have to stay in the fire for a while afterwards.

7/30/2010 09:27:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Majestic Smackdown. Love it.

7/30/2010 09:32:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Even Paul's majestic smackdown was only the beginning...

7/30/2010 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

JP - prayer and really listening were helpful to me in that regard. Bear in mind that there are different kinds of callings, too. For instance, one may be a monastic in general but even within that monastic life there are more specific callings - music or medicine, language or gardening, leadership or fellowship, etc. These are things that inform the way one perceives and interacts with the world, regardless of what one is doing.

As always, just my blathering opinion, but that's how it seems to me.

Magnus - "What the hell am I doing? What the HELL am I doing??"

I know that feeling. Also, I liked your post yesterday.

7/30/2010 09:57:00 AM  
Blogger James said...

I can relate to spiritual warfare. I think I've been fighting my own version of WWIII for the last two years. I feel better knowing this is a feature and not a bug. It reminds me of something I read awhile back from C.S. Lewis. He was asked by an interviewer if Christianity will make people happy. His reply was absolutely not. Hedonists are the happiest people in the world, until the day they die.

7/30/2010 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Again, a very relevant post here.

7/30/2010 10:39:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

Oh, I'm certain some of my problems stem from a completely improper way of being human earlier in my life.

I didn't even realize that emotions ever really had any actual importance. I assumed that they needed to be completely disregarded or stuffed down since they interfered with forward progress. It only recently occurred to me that emotions contained any useful information at all. It would have been nice if there was a class on "emotions and what they might be telling you."

College and career were basically economic calculations for me.

How much money will I make in this job when I graduate? What are my lifetime earnings expectations?

So, I upgraded from chemical enginering to law, in part, to increase my future net worth.

It was a kind of a holdover from my early days, where the point was to win the game.

In early life, winning = all A's. However, once you've "won" the game is over, so you need a new game to win.

In adulthood, they don't have grades, so winning = highest salary/highest lifetime earnings.

Although, I suppose having a general grasp of economics, investemnt, and the stock market was a nice side-effect of this to have.

7/30/2010 11:05:00 AM  
Blogger Dianne said...

I didn't know what my calling was until I was in my early 40's, altho in retrospect, once it hit me, I could see that I had been "training" for it since early childhood.

Now the thing is to get past all the fear of failure and do something with it, plus butt glue. Not to mention all the years of flailing around in circles on crap depleting my energy reserves, raising a child by myself and the 9 to 5 daily work grind.

Now that my child is out of the nest and doing well, I've recently decided to see if I can get away with working part-time and living on less, so that I can work on my own interests, instead of giving all my time and energy to someone else's interests. Altho that decision is tinged with a little fear also, because I have not always made the best decisions and wonder if this is just another flaky one. I'll probably find out.

7/30/2010 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger f/zero said...

The smackdown. Yeah. I thought that was tough but it's nothing compared to the bloody getting back up over and over again. For me, my calling has been a long process of elimination of self-sabotage. Like Jonah, it took a term in the 'belly of the whale' to strip away enough comfort to see it clearly. And the more in view it becomes, the more it scares me shitless.

Which I suspect is a pretty fair indicator that I'm finally getting aligned to true north.

7/30/2010 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

"One thing the left doesn't understand about military life is that it is a spiritual calling, like the priesthood. What could be more spiritual than killing evildoers and breaking their stuff?"

When someone finds out how long I was in the service they frequently say "Thank you for your service". My response is always "It is an honor to be allowed to serve". I believe that to be true at least for me, but they frequently look at me like I just did something nasty to their sister.

7/30/2010 01:18:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Really? That's messed up.

And in all seriousness, thank you for serving.

7/30/2010 01:26:00 PM  
Blogger Tigtog said...

To Magnus re:

"I understand that some people have 1 majestic smackdown that suddenly changes their life. But I suspect they still have to stay in the fire for a while afterwards."

It is really disorienting to receive your majestic smackdown later rather than sooner in life. I truly wished mine had come earlier.

So far, it takes years to understand the impact. Or I am just a slow learner. The difficulty is accepting its meaning versus diagnosing the meaning. The two are not the same.

7/30/2010 02:44:00 PM  
Blogger JP said...

I admit that there is some entertainment factor in law when you write letters to insurance companies along these lines:

"Dear Insurance Company:

You have a policy that has lanugage in it. This language means what it says it means. It does not mean 'we will not pay out on a policy based on the fact that we don't like paying out on our policies. I am enclosing a copy of the lawsuit I filed against you earlier today. Have a nice day."

I also like writing letters to trademark infringers along these lines:

"Dear businessperson:

I see that you have adopted my client's federally registered trademark. While this is understandable on a certain level, since it has economic value and you are competing directly with my client, it also means that I will sue you in 48 hours if you do not immediately take all reference to the trademark off of your website. Have a nice day."

However, simply enjoying writing legal letters and filing riteous lawsuits is not a calling.

7/30/2010 02:50:00 PM  
Blogger JP said...

So, Tigtog, what was your magestic smackdown?

7/30/2010 02:51:00 PM  
Blogger Dianne said...

JP - I would like to retain you as my attorney. :)

7/30/2010 03:43:00 PM  
Blogger JP said...

I will always sue for food.

Or entertainment value.

I generally engage myself with harassment of the federal bureauracy. Did I even spell that right.

And in any event, I agree with Bob.

The most damaged workers' comp claimants were generally already initially psychologically wounded in the first place.

Abuse? Check. Pre-existing personality disorder? Check.

7/30/2010 05:12:00 PM  
Blogger Dianne said...

JP,

Oh, it's not worker's comp. I used to be a worker's comp legal assistant, for about 5 years. Not interested in going back to that.

I've always had to work for my sustenance, never cared to be dependent on someone or something else, or leaching off other people's hard work. Unless you really need it, I find relying on welfare or govt. funds completely repugnant.

But businesses that extort their unsatisfied customers with the threat of a bad credit rating ...

7/30/2010 05:26:00 PM  
Blogger JP said...

Dianne,

No, I was referring to my work, not your work.

I currently reside in the world of disability law. At least half of my cases are psychiatric/psychological cases. Lots of abuse early in life, which ultimately leads to significant problems later in life. Most of the rest seem to be people who have diabetes.

Bob is the one does psychological comp work, I think. He's met many people who have had underlying psychological fragility (e.g. early childhood abuse) impacted by the world of work.

I have an easy solution for people who I think can work. I say "Dude. You can work. Go away." Using nice words, of course.

I did intellectual property for years, and still might do it in the future.

I've never dealt with a company who threatens a credit rating, however.

7/30/2010 05:43:00 PM  
Blogger Dianne said...

Oh, sorry, JP. You must have hit a sore spot. :)

My case is little more difficult than just threatening a credit rating (actually my son's), and I don't expect anyone here to take up my cause - I was just sayin'

I'll get it straightened
out sooner or later.

7/30/2010 06:12:00 PM  
Blogger Mizz E said...

GB wrote: "You don't really discover who you are or "what you're made of" until you're up against it."

No spiritual wussifist here.

(I chuckled at "Pastor Bob.")

7/31/2010 01:38:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"What could be more spiritual than killing evildoers and breaking their stuff?"

Aye! Which makes those who wanna empathise and "understand" evildoers for the purpose of "rehabilitating" them even more obscene.

A good movie example of an evildoer (besides the obvious terrorists, nazi's, commies, etc. in several other flicks) would be Independence Day.
The President asked the alien "what do you want?" hoping to negotiate presumably.

The alien said, "for you to die" (or something to that effect).

That's certainly the attitude of the Isamofascists, although they will also except those who earnestly convert to their demonic religion of pieces and support their diabolical plans.

"The distaste for military combat is simply a mirror of the prior wimpified rejection of spiritual combat."

I never seen it put that way before but it rings true. Afterall, how could one accept spiritual combat and choose to fight that war and still reject those who protect our lives n' liberties?

It truly is a calling. One only has to go speak to wounded veterans who strive to return to the battlefield against enormus odds to see that.

Or the vast majority of retirees who would be more than happy to help should they be called upon to do so.

I think this is why Ghandi (and pacifists in general) are so irritating.
Actually, they wouldn't be that irritating if there weren't so many sheeple that view them as heroes.

Heroes of what? Cowardice?
Condenmscending dolts filled to overflowing with smugness?

And ain't it kinda weird that many who view Ghandi as a hero (and pacifism as a moral mountaintop) also view Che as one? How's that work?

Outstanding post, Bob! Thanks!

7/31/2010 08:13:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Accept, not except. Sheesh. I really ougtta learn to edit my comments. :^)

7/31/2010 08:16:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

incidently, because military service is a calling, at least for most who join, I would never wanna see a return of the draft.

There are other reasons too, but that's a big one right there.

Who wants someone who ain't called, or who is not cut out for it to watch your back?

That don't mean prior draftees who served ain't honorable. Some of them like Sargeant York received the Medal of Honor.
And some found that the military really was their calling after getting their feet wet.

The people I'm talking about are the one's like John Kerry or that despicable scumbag who worked as a "source" for The New Republic awhile back.
Just to be a bit more clear.
Hopefully.

7/31/2010 08:29:00 AM  
Blogger Dianne said...

Ghandi wasn't a Christian. He was a traitor.

8/01/2010 03:54:00 PM  

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