Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ghostchords From the Cosmic Frontier

Back to the Catholic yogi, Swami Abhishiktananda (SA). What follows will be rather free-form unless and until something specific comes into focus.

Here's a cooncise way of putting IT: "diversity harmonized in love, multiplicity transcended in union." I like this because it expresses another clear but orthoparadox, for instead of saying that diversity and multiplicity are just maya, or forever separated from the Principle, it emphasizes that they are consecrated in love and union.

Thus, reality is not One, or a monad, but nor is it two. You could say that it's "not-two," but why not just say love? For love can only exist where there is an Other. This invests a new value in both the world and the person, because we are not just more or less distant emanations of the One, but intimately connected to it.

This reminds me of a plausible explanation I once read for the filioque dispute that still divides eastern and western forms of Christianity. In the east, they say that the Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son, whereas in the west they say that it proceeds from the Father and Son. I believe it was Balthasar who said that the eastern version implied a kind of linear emanationist metaphysic, in which "All things are derived from the first reality or perfect God by steps of degradation to lesser degrees of the first reality or God, and at every step the emanating beings are less pure, less perfect, less divine."

But to say that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and Son implies a more Trinitarian outlook, in which the Persons are co-equal, and again, unified in love. If emanationism is correct, then the world-denying mysticism of a Plotinus (or Buddha) would be our only hope of "salvation," in that it revolves around reversing this situation and ascending up and out. For Plotinus there is still a trinity -- the One, the Intellect, and the Soul -- but the relationship is strictly linear and descending.

But if the world is Creation -- and recall our post from yesterday, about how Creation is the Master Key -- then salvation is a very different matter, because it includes the cosmos. And us. Which is nice.

I'm sure there's an Orthodox rejoinder to what I've just laid out, but I'm going to move on. I'm humble enough to say that we're not going to resolve a 1,500 year old argument in a blog post.

Anyway, I think we can see the implicit relationship between creation, multiplicity, love, harmony, and transcendence. In fact, harmony is another critical notion. Think of how a harmony is composed of individual notes, so there is no harmony in the absence of the notes. But thanks to harmony, notes aren't only notes, but get to participate -- i.e., transcend themselves -- in the harmony. Please note: there is not something "higher" than harmony -- as if playing every note simultaneously in a single blob of sound would be more musical. No: if ultimate reality is Trinity, then Trinity is "harmonious love," so to speak.

This is all another way of saying part/whole, but again emphasizing that this is not an emanationist metaphysic -- as if the notes are only a distant and degraded residue of the chord.

Note also the irreconcilable difference between this and the Muslim view. The first and last principle of Islam is that "there is no God but God." Sounds like a tautology, but the purpose is to emphasize the absolute distance between God and man (which is why Trinity would be unthinkable in Islam, much less Incarnation). Instead of being a unity in love, man and God are only "unified" to the extent that the former utterly abases himself before the latter by surrendering to the Law (Islam, of course, means "surrender"). There is obedience, but not what we would call love. You can say that you prefer one over the other, but please do not pretend that the metaphysic doesn't embody values that lead to vastly different cultures. (It certainly implies very different conceptions of parenting and therefore governing.)

The Koran charmingly puts it as follows: "They do blaspheme who say: God is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One God. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them." Stay classy!

SA expressed a Coonism when he wrote that spiritual experience "is the meeting-place of the known and the not-known, the seen and the not-seen, the relative and the absolute." I should hope that a spiritual practice results in, and revolves around, "spiritual experience," or experience of the spiritual.

How do we know whether the experience we are having is spiritual? SA implies that we shall know it by its fruits, one of which will be a kind of literal "living on the edge" -- the edge of an expanding circle, as it were, where the circumference shades off into the not-known, the not-seen, and the Absolute.

But another orthoparadox enters here, for in this case, the edge is simultaneously the center. This actually makes perfect nonsense, so long as one understands that alpha and omega, origin and destiny, source and goal, are one, -- or simply the ancient Christian formulation that God became man so that man might become God.

The latter can only occur if man lives at the edge of himself, which is again simultaneously the center (or movement toward it). Or, as I have expressed it before, we acquire a new and higher psychic "center of gravity" (or levity). The essence of repentance, or metanoia, is simply this shift to a new center of gravity which is death and birth all in One. For to say the first shall be last is to say that birth shall be death.

So to say that the Raccoon prefers to live at the edge of the Cosmos is simply a truism. This cosmic edge is located in each man, however far he can push into it and colonize the space. As I've mentioned before -- probably in the book -- man left Africa, colonized Europe, crossed the sea, landed in the New World, and then pushed west until there was no more space to colonize by the conclusion of the 19th century.

But that was only the end of horizontal frontier. The exploration of the vertical frontier continues inward and upward, as it always will, for if it didn't, there could be no frontier. In other words, this evolution is only endless because there is an end (see yesterday's post for details).

Once we push into the frontier, we notice paths, footprints, and other signs of human life. It's not as if the area is as populated as a major urban center. However, it soon becomes obvious that other people have preceded us and cut through some of the major obstacles. It's still not easy to climb Mount Everest, but at least you know that it's possible because some people have done it already.

Now, as SA says, To go beyond the sign is not to reject the sign, but to reach the thing signified. Someone said that the purpose of crutches is to not need crutches, which is a nice way of expressing it.

One final thought from SA. He discusses grace in terms of "the Presence of the Absolute, the Eternal, the Unborn, existing in the heart of the realm of becoming, of time, of death and life." This is what we call (↓), which ultimately facilitates "the irresistible drawing of the entire universe and its fullness towards the ultimate Awakening to the Absolute...." It is "the raft by which man passes over to the 'other shore.'"

It is the RIP tide that pulls us into the Great Attractor.

26 Comments:

Blogger Rick said...

"In the east, they say that the Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son.."

"But to say that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and Son.."

I think it is possible for both of these to be true at the same time.
Think "unbrokenness".

9/22/2010 08:24:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Complements will get you everywhere.

9/22/2010 08:27:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

I mean, there is that wisecrack about "No one gets to the Father except through me."

I don't think that suggests a degradation in "rank" so to speak, necessarily.

And the "There is only one good.." may suggest that "one good" means not leaving out any of the three. Or "one good" must include all three "persons" of the trinity.

9/22/2010 08:28:00 AM  
Blogger Grant Maher said...

"o one gets to the father except through me" is the biggest generator of Jesus Willies on record.

I mean, come on. You can't be serious.

Jesus was probably trying to say "You can't get in touch with God unless you concentrate in such a manner as I do." It was just a reference to yoga technique and has been twisted around to mean other wierd things.

Why can't we just go back to the original formulation of Akhenaton? Why keep adding Sons and Ghosts and sh#t like that? Keep it simple. We had it on lock in 2800 B.C. and have only succeeded in mucking it up since then. Stop it.

9/22/2010 08:50:00 AM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Instead of being a unity in love, man and God are only "unified" to the extent that the former utterly abases himself before the latter by surrendering to the Law

Schuon discusses this in considerable detail here. Like most Westerners, I generally take a dim view of Islam these days, yet when I realize that someone as illustrious as Schuon saw considerable value in that religion (I believe he concerns himself primarily with what we would call Sufism) then I am left with significant curiosity...

In his book he IMO treats Christianity and Islam as different yet equally valid approaches to the Absolute. On pp. 7-8 he offers what I suppose would be a somewhat contrary view to the one Bob (and I) take. Worth reading in any case.

9/22/2010 10:25:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"It is the RIP tide that pulls us into the Great Attractor."

Cowabunga Dude!

9/22/2010 10:55:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

grunt maker said "...ean, come on. You can't be serious.
Jesus was probably trying to say "Y..."

Way to demonstraight yesterday's nugget,

" that is it quite possible to completely understand what is said at the cost of misunderstanding what is unsaid"


Gnarly.

(not sure where the lingo came from today... flashback to TMNT's I suppose)

9/22/2010 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger black hole said...

Islam went off the rails when it became contaminated by sharia.

Christianity went south when Charlemagne began to enforce it the point of the sword.

Buddhism didn't quite acheive lift-off from the start.

Judaism I don't know much about but it seems OK.

Hinduism is a little lost in the maze but still maybe a wise choice.

Robert Godwinism is a fresh new hybrid not yet besmirched but take care Raccoons not to get militant or dogmatic.

9/22/2010 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

But another orthoparadox enters here, for in this case, the edge is simultaneously the center.

A point on the 'edge' of the sphere is in the center of a circle.

9/22/2010 01:30:00 PM  
Blogger Grant Maher said...

Van:

Please don't refer to me as "grunt maker." This is completely unacceptable.

Regarding your criticism of my comment, I don't buy it. I don't think I am taking the statement on its face value. I performed an analysis of subtext, and a good one.

The contention seekers must transit via Jesus to get to God is spiritually bankrupt and may be manipulative and evil.

It serves to consolidate political power and was probably developed in the dark ages to control the populace.

We don't need to buy into that today, thankfully.

Critical thinking is crucial for the modern seeker. The detritus of history must be washed off of the "good china" at the core of a true religion.

9/22/2010 01:45:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I'm humble enough to say that we're not going to resolve a 1,500 year old argument in a blog post."

True. Very fascinating nevertheless. Some of these schisms in Christiant run very deep.

I cooncur with Rick, and what Bob has been sayin'. Often it's not the either/or answer but both, or: all the above (properly understood, not in the multiple choice venue that lefty teachers are so fond of). :^)

Take the Eucharist/Communion disagreement between Catholics and Protestants: the symbolism vs literalism debate regarding the flesh and blood of Jesus, the Host and wine, the bread and wine, transubstantiation, etc..

I always found it odd that Protestants (particularly the more fundamentalist ones) view most of the Bible as being literal (to various degrees) but view what Jesus said at the Last Supper as symbolic (at least most do, in my experience and from what I have read concerning the various denominations).

I find it equally as odd that Catholics view most of the Bible as symbolic (to various degrees) but view the Eucharist as literal, again, in my experience with most Catholics.

Obviously, I'm oversimplifying these views at least for some, and I don't mean to be trite, for this is very important. I'm only using the very basic views of many Catholic/Protestants as an example here irt the orthopradox.

Having had both beliefs myself at different times I now believe both beliefs (and much much more) (the mystery!) are true.
In truth it's because of the great mystery we can gno what the Messiah was talkin' about during that Last Supper to any degree.

9/23/2010 12:28:00 AM  
Blogger ge said...

FILE UNDER: EVEN DIMWITS CAN GET IT RIGHT IN THE END

'November might be a disaster.'

-W Mondale's parting observation in current New Yorker

9/23/2010 05:01:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

File under "out on a limb"

"I always found it odd that Protestants (particularly the more fundamentalist ones) view most of the Bible as being literal (to various degrees) but view what Jesus said at the Last Supper as symbolic..."

Good point. I hadn't thought of that before, but it goes to the idea that God's speech is always a word -- even when he's "writing" with material objects -- and a word always points to something else. Thus, even history and existence itself would have to be words. In fact, if they weren't, they wouldn't be intelligible. Maybe a better way of looking at it is to say that everything is both "in" and of the Word. Ironically, this comes close to the deconstructionist view, except that it's not a closed and therefore meaningless circle but an open one.

9/23/2010 05:55:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

Ben says:

"I always found it odd that Protestants (particularly the more fundamentalist ones) view most of the Bible as being literal (to various degrees) but view what Jesus said at the Last Supper as symbolic (at least most do, in my experience and from what I have read concerning the various denominations).

I find it equally as odd that Catholics view most of the Bible as symbolic (to various degrees) but view the Eucharist as literal, again, in my experience with most Catholics."

Well, veiwing the Eucharist as literal will probably work better to neutralize the religiously mediated mind parasite of human sarcrifice.

I've found that sola scriptura is one of the more bizarre aspects of protestant Christianity.

I mean, you take a book of scripture, wait 1,000 or so years, and then declare it to be the final word?

9/23/2010 06:00:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

Bob says:

"Thus, even history and existence itself would have to be words. In fact, if they weren't, they wouldn't be intelligible."

That's certainly true.

Although a lot of history uses words that point in the wrong direction.

9/23/2010 06:06:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Sorry to interrupt...

Bob, I can't find that book you referenced a few months ago about energy density. Do you have a link handy? I tried searching in Amazon using "energy density" and well, there are a few other book about it, let's say :-)
(thanks)

9/23/2010 06:21:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"Energy density?" Not ringing a bell. Try repeating your search with different words.

9/23/2010 06:30:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

It was about explaining/exposing the myths of green energy; wind, solar...and how they can't compare to other more superior sources (in most all important applications) such as oil, nuclear... because of the principles of energy density and power density.

Anything yet?
I think you only mentioned the book in the comments..and I knew at the time too that I should have placed it in my Amazon wish list.

9/23/2010 06:52:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Please don't refer to me as "grunt maker." This is completely unacceptable."

Hmmm... I don't find it unacceptable, so it can't be completely unacceptable... which is just the sort of answer which I think your analysis would produce, so... again, I'm not seeing the problem.

Many moons ago I used your proper name, but then it became difficult to tell what point it was you were trying to make - if any. At first I thought it was your sock puppets garbling your words, but it began to seem more likely that there was no garbling going on, there just wasn't any worthwhile meaning to be found in your words - hence 'grunt maker'.

But there's more than a bit of Charlie Brown in me, I'll give ya another shot. But if Lucy comes back out, you'll have some 'splaining to do.

wv:dingymat
(no, I don't think he'll like being called mat either)

9/23/2010 07:20:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

Rick says:

"It was about explaining/exposing the myths of green energy; wind, solar...and how they can't compare to other more superior sources (in most all important applications) such as oil, nuclear... because of the principles of energy density and power density."

That sounds like something I would have said.

Basically, oil is concentrated sunlight and nulcear elements are only formed in stars, so it's really really concentrated sunlight.

Wheras, the entire wind amd solar structures are essentially harnessing direct sunlight.

It's a dual issue of energy concentration and capacity.

The only non-solar power sources are geothermal and tidal. They work because of the Earth and Moon.

9/23/2010 07:33:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

Van says:

"Hmmm... I don't find it unacceptable, so it can't be completely unacceptable... which is just the sort of answer which I think your analysis would produce, so... again, I'm not seeing the problem."

Well, his blog does make some sense. At least he got the entire symmetrical psychic wound monogamy issue down.

I don't understand what point he's trying to make here with the entire let's go back to 1400BC or whatnot, but he makes better points on his blog.

Now, I do disagree with some of his blog, but other parts make some sense.

9/23/2010 07:36:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

JP,
Thanks. But I'm pretty sure we're not on the same page.

9/23/2010 07:43:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Ah yes, Energy Hungry, a very informative book. I thought you were talking about spiritual energy density, which is discussed in today's post.

9/23/2010 07:44:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Thanks, Bob.
I don't know why the cover doesn't look familiar to me...

9/23/2010 07:58:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

How can't we not be on the same page?

Ye cannae change the laws of physics!

Nuclear is the densest energy while direct solar is the least dense.

I don't think green energy will work way that the green energy proponents want it to work because of physics/chemistry.

9/23/2010 07:59:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Now we're on the same page :-)

9/23/2010 08:17:00 AM  

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