Thursday, December 30, 2010

Man's Exodus to Freedom: The Cosmic Bar Mitzvah

As we were saying yesterday, free will is not an either/or proposition, but a lengthy process of acquisition or realization that goes hand in hand and head in heart with what we call spiritual growth.

We were about to say that it is on a continuum in the animal kingdom, but that wouldn't be correct, since only human beings may access it. The exercise of will is on a continuum, but only human beings may freely exercise their will and make conscious choices between alternative actions.

Just as one purpose of the bar mitzvah is to mark the transition to moral responsibility and therefore freedom, one might say that the emergence of human beings represented the cosmic bar mitzvah, for now the cosmos was finally free -- at least in potential: for the creation is still subject to futility, and groans with birth pangs on the way toward its ultimate spiritual liberation.

When a self-deluded autoslave insists that free will doesn't exist, we want to say "in your case, we couldn't agree more." It's similar to liberals who maintain that "everyone's a racist." If they could just say "I and my fellow liberals are morbidly preoccupied with race," we would have no objection. But why the crass generalization? Speak for yourself.

Interesting that in the case of the autoslave, his freedom is simply transferred to the internal entity that enslaves him. As the existentialists say, human beings are condemned to freedom, which is why the vast majority of people and cultures reject it and prefer various religious and ideological shackles. Freedom is a terrible thing, for it equates with responsibility, and who would want that?

But for the minority of souls who wish to expand their interior freedom, there is always a way. According to Bolton, the process of realizing one's freedom consists "in a progressive elimination, or at least subordination, of the alien causes which commonly manipulate the will, and a corresponding ascendency of what is owing to the will alone" (italics mytalics).

Alien causes which commonly manipulate the will. These are, of course, mind parasites, those foreign agents and sinister minsters of propaganda that we have internalized and mistake for ourSelves. You know, all of those agenda-driven hostile forces that hijack the machinery of the host -- the human subject -- and use it to crank out their own dysfunctional and anti-evolutionary thoughts, emotions and actions.

You could say that the personification of the sum total of these parasitic trends is what folks call Satan, and you wouldn't be wide of the mark. The adverse forces are impersonal until internalized by a human being through whom they speak, will and act. These machine-like entities are not really alive. Rather, like viruses, they are something in between life and matter.

It is no different than a virus that takes over the cell in order reproduce and infect others. It is not just obvious cases such as a Marx or Hitler who infect the masses with acute soul pathology. Equally troubling are the chronic cases that can weaken the hardiest soul -- both individually and collectively -- over time.

In any event, these "alien causes" always block freedom in one way or another, and therefore prevent spiritual growth. If you could see one, you'd be horrified. It reminds me of a comment by Schuon, that "the lowest animal species, those that repel us, manifest most directly the quality of ignorance (tamas); they are repugnant to us because they are like 'living conscious matter' whereas the law of matter is precisely unconsciousness." It is no wonder that they are represented in dreams -- or under the influence of LSD -- as spiders, reptiles, and other creepy crawlies.

Other forms of matter, such as Al Sharpton, shock us for the opposite reason, for they are like a man deprived of what makes him one, which is to say, higher consciousness.

Back in the 1960s, when it was legal to study the effects of LSD, a lot of interesting psychological research was conducted on the subject of mind parasites. It was thought that by administering LSD to a patient in a controlled setting with adequate therapeutic support, one could bypass all of the ego's usual defense mechanisms and see the parasites directly, so to speak, and therefore process and work through them more rapidly.

I remember a book by Stanislav Grof -- here it is, Realms of the Human Unconscious: Observations from LSD Research -- in which he discusses how patients under the influence of LSD could actually draw pictures of their mind parasites in order to try to understand and work through them.

I don't have time to dig out the book, but I remember one particular lady who drew a monstrous looking spider that had her in its grip. Of course, the mind parasite isn't actually a spider. Rather, that's just the mind's representation of the internalized hostile force which is otherwise invisible. This is essentially identical to how our Dreamer uses images to represent conflicts, impasses, and various hostile entities. (Petey wishes to remind us that divine forces are also routinely personified.)

Carl Jung wrote of how the medieval pseudo-science of alchemy was actually a way to talk about mind parasites and their eradication. Bolton agrees that this process "can be envisaged in alchemical terms as a removal of the [parasitic] 'dross' which allows the [spiritual] 'gold' concealed in it to appear in pure form." What can be underemphasized, however, is that the "dross" is not a just an object, so to speak, but a subject with a will of its own -- or, to be perfectly accurate, something that can only operate in the world by taking over the human will.

When you think about it, this is not that different from how the Creator operates in the world, at least for the most part. The traditional view is that human beings are the living bridge, or link, between God and nature, or spirit and matter, or freedom and determinism, however you wish to conceptualize it. Therefore, when we say "thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven," we mean this quite literally. For it is just another way of saying that the purpose of life is to freely manifest truth, or love, or beauty on this plane (since they can only manifest in freedom; in other words, no deterministic machine could know or express truth).

It's no different looked at from the other end of the existentialada. "Satan" is a paradoxical entity, being that he represents the "center of dissipation," so to speak, and spiritual dissipation by its very nature can have no center. The point is that both mind parasites and Satan can have no ultimate reality, since they represent the internalization or personification of the negations of the good, true, and beautiful. But the perverse human will can give them a kind of temporary pseudo-center.

Let's consider the god of the Islamists. When a voice in your head tells you to blow yourself up with nails and rat poison, or to slash off your daughter's clitoris with a rusty hood ornament, that's a hint that you're not dealing with the Creator of the Universe. When the voice tells you to force women to live in bags or to strangle your daughter because she doesn't want to marry that malodorous and toothless letch with all the goats in his dowry -- nope, not the real God.

So what is this sadistic and suffocating entity? It sounds like a very bad acid trip, which, in a way it is, because there's no coming down. Whether it be angry jihadis in Khartoum or jihadis angry about a cartoon, they're always enraged about something.

Most all the real evil in the world is caused by the spiritually unfree. As Bolton writes, in human beings, "freely-willed and unfree actions mingle in all proportions, because external causes can condition one's will in proportion to one's lack of self-awareness" (mytalics again).

You will immediately note that this is why the left is obsessed with so-called external barriers to freedom, when the real barriers -- at least in the contemporary U.S. -- are nearly always interior. Which is why when you eliminate these external barriers, it doesn't really do any good, because you aren't giving people real freedom, which they will still have to cultivate once the external barrier is removed.

For example, this is why racial quotas don't work. They eliminate an external barrier but ignore the interior ones, so failure is simply deferred. Liberals just kick the can't down the road. One is still a failure, but simply the last to know it. Which is hardly a mercy.

34 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

Which is why when you eliminate these external barriers, it doesn't really do any good, because you aren't giving people real freedom, which they will still have to cultivate once the external barrier is removed.

For instance, it is why when Russian Communism fell, there was no true liberation to take its place. The people were still looking for someone to tell them what to do. Also why, unfortunately, in Iraq Christians are still being blown up.

To those who are truly free, no mere external, material circumstances can keep them enslaved. Trapped in even the smallest cell they dwell in God, and know that there is Truth far greater than their circumstances. To one who is not free, there is nothing - space nor budget nor lack of rules - big enough for them to know they are not in a cage.

12/30/2010 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Which is why there have been so many famous prison house conversions and/or expansions, from Boetius to Aurobindo to Solzhenitsyn....

12/30/2010 09:41:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

It seems as though for some, being imprisoned acts as a lens, shifting their focus from external circumstances, for which nothing could be done except to endure, to their internal constraints, and how to escape them into something higher.

12/30/2010 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

A key point is that historically -- both individually and collectively, chronologically and developmentally -- consciousness is first exteriorized and located in the outside. Only gradually has man been able to colonize the Great Indoors.

12/30/2010 09:52:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"The exercise of will is on a continuum, but only human beings may freely exercise their will and make conscious choices between alternative actions..."

I might add "... beyond the perceptual level."

12/30/2010 10:26:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"It's similar to liberals who maintain that "everyone's a racist." If they could just say "I and my fellow liberals are morbidly preoccupied with race," we would have no objection. But why the crass generalization? Speak for yourself."

No doubt. But nooo... gotta have an activist for every group who’ll then not only speak for those who may or may not willingly like them speaking for the group they find themselves having been assumed into, but they also then proceed to speak for everyone else who's not of their group.

"Speak for yourself" - words to be tattooed upon the leftist forehead (backwards so they can read it in the mirror).

12/30/2010 10:47:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Most all the real evil in the world is caused by the spiritually unfree. As Bolton writes, in human beings, "freely-willed and unfree actions mingle in all proportions, because external causes can condition one's will in proportion to one's lack of self-awareness" (mytalics again)."

Well put. Kant wait for nags to read that one.

12/30/2010 11:53:00 AM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"freely-willed and unfree actions mingle in all proportions, because external causes can condition one's will in proportion to one's lack of self-awareness"

I don't see how ANY actions are "freely willed." Even if we were completely self-aware, which psychology tells us we cannot be because of all the psychological and associated neurobiological processes occurring beneath our conscious awareness and unconsciously influencing our awareness, isn't one's awareness itself unfree to unfold, will, and choose in any way other than how it must given its nature and circumstances at any given point in time?

In other words, what are the UNCAUSED "we" that are partially aware and partially if not predominately, under the best of circumstances, unaware of "external causes"? Do they not will and choose according to their CAUSED desires, values, motivations, and inhibitions? If not, how not? If so, how are will and choices caused by these caused desires, values, motivations, and inhibitions free to be other than they are at the time they arise?

12/30/2010 02:26:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

You've confined yourself to a naturalistic ontology, so garbage in, garbage out.

12/30/2010 02:33:00 PM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"You've confined yourself to a naturalistic ontology, so garbage in, garbage out."

What's beyond interdependent physical, biological, psychological, and social nature? And even if there were something beyond it, say, some "supernatural" soul, how would it be any "freer" of its own determined and determining desires, values, motivations, and inhibitions than is the natural chooser I've described?

12/30/2010 02:47:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"What's beyond interdependent physical, biological, psychological, and social nature?"

Oh, God, truth, beauty, revelation, grace, virtue, love, for starters....

12/30/2010 02:50:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Metaphysics, freedom, wisdom, holiness, nobility, eternity....

12/30/2010 02:58:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Music, poetry, humor, creativity of all kinds....

12/30/2010 02:59:00 PM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

What is "love" but hormones, neuronal impulses, thoughts, emotions, and actions occurring entirely within the natural realm?

12/30/2010 03:06:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

The Lonely Life of a Rock

12/30/2010 03:29:00 PM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

But "a rock feels no pain." ;-)

12/30/2010 03:33:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Ever been checked for autism? It would explain a lot.

12/30/2010 03:34:00 PM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

Interesting you should ask that! Then, maybe not, given your profession. My mom thought I was autistic when I was very young, and I don't doubt that I fall somewhere along the "spectrum" even today. But nobody's officially diagnosed me as such, and I don't suppose it would do much good, at this late date, if they did. However, I'm not sure how much that bears upon my perspective concerning free will, although it may bear on a lot of other things.

12/30/2010 03:44:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

What is "love" but hormones, neuronal impulses, thoughts, emotions, and actions occurring entirely within the natural realm?

Wow. I almost feel sorry for you, except that you obviously don't know what you're missing. Wait, scratch that; I do pity you, because God is love, and if you can't grasp that the love which is God is higher than and unconstrained by all of those natural phenomena - if you haven't ever known it in any way - then, truly, you live in a sort of hell.

12/30/2010 03:47:00 PM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"God is love, and if you can't grasp that the love which is God is higher than and unconstrained by all of those natural phenomena - if you haven't ever known it in any way - then, truly, you live in a sort of hell."

Julie, couldn't only a supernatural part of ourselves "grasp" the supernatural love that is allegedly God, and, if so, what is the nature of this part, and how could it ever be blind to its own nature and to God's?

12/30/2010 03:59:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Autism, for starters.

12/30/2010 04:04:00 PM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

So, abnormally natural "autism, for starters" can overpower the normally supernatural ability to know God's supernatural love, grace, truth, beauty, etc...etc?

12/30/2010 04:19:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Can eyes that are blinded send visual images to the brain? Does this negate or overpower the existence of light? How about when clouds occlude the sun - is the star extinguished?

12/30/2010 04:23:00 PM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

"Can eyes that are blinded send visual images to the brain? Does this negate or overpower the existence of light? How about when clouds occlude the sun - is the star extinguished?"

If eyes are "blinded" by defect or by clouds, are they "free" to see light or sun so long as the defect or clouds are in force? Are we "free" to do anything that our nature and circumstances don't enable us to do?

12/30/2010 04:31:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I might add that the Creator recognizes man's blindness (which is always "more or less"), hence revelation, which both embodies all man can know through pure metaphysics plus that which he cannot know in the absence of the revelation.

12/30/2010 04:34:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Because of God there is both freedom and intrinsic limits upon freedom. It could not be otherwise, for if freedom were total we would be God, and if it were completely absent we couldn't know we lack it.

12/30/2010 04:37:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

*sigh*
This really is about as fruitful as arguing with a rock.

We are still and always free. Light can be experienced directly in more ways than one, and indirectly (through the experiences of others) in still other ways. Even one who has never seen could conceivably spend his life learning about and understanding the qualities and beauties of light. There are ways and ways. Whether you choose to take one is up to you.

12/30/2010 04:43:00 PM  
Blogger Nagarjuna said...

Julie, I'm not "arguing" with you; I'm trying to understand you. Maybe I am as obtuse as a rock, but I'm trying not to be. I thank you, Bob, and Van for your comments. I'll now take my leave.

12/30/2010 05:11:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Truly, these arguments cannot be understood, only undergone.

12/30/2010 05:14:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Besides, if translogic could be reduced to logic, Gödel would freak.

12/30/2010 05:16:00 PM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

It is indeed true that most people greatly over-estimate their freedom of choice. This is largely because they do not use it. If they had tried to choose freely, they would have found how much resistance there is.

The Christian mystics that taught me in my youth had a saying about this. It was based on St Paul's letter to the Romans, in which he says: "I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me." (Chapter 7.) Their interpretation of this was: Those who don't want to do good, will not find this law. They think evil is present anywhere else.

This is exactly right in this context. Those who think they can do everything, have not tried to do anything.

This is also a bit like inertia and friction, only more so. As long as you drift with the currents, there is no resistance at all. You are perfectly free, only not to actually do anything.

But the faster we try to move, the stronger you feel the resistance. And unlike inertia and friction, this resistance is so strong that we may even backslide. It is kind of like a big gelatinous mass that surrounds us and will pull back into its usual shape if we stop moving.

12/30/2010 06:03:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Julie, I'm not "arguing" with you.

Oh, good grief. If you think by "arguing" I meant "angrily shouting at each other" or any similar excitement of passions, you're completely mistaken. If I'm disagreeing with someone here, I consider my statements "arguments" in the following dictionary sense:
"reason: a reason put forward in support of or in opposition to a point of view"

12/30/2010 07:28:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

You could say that the personification of the sum total of these parasitic trends is what folks call Satan, and you wouldn't be wide of the mark. The adverse forces are impersonal until internalized by a human being through whom they speak, will and act. These machine-like entities are not really alive. Rather, like viruses, they are something in between life and matter."

Mind parasites are like A
AIDS in that they deceive and co-opt our Icoon system from the inside out, making "more" of itself, more powerful.
It tricks our defenses because it disguises itself, and justifies itself. Spy vs I.

Mind parasites seek con-troll of our soph's. And as Magnus points out, the more we fight back the more resistance we encounter and grapple with.
And that resistance is, in a sense, a revelation, telling us we are headed in the right direction and encouraging us at the same time not to give up.

Sure, it's hard, and may seem nigh impossible to endure and overcome these challenges from both within and without our psyches, but we do gno that if we never surrender we will gain ground and grow.

I might add that it is against our instink to go through all the trouble of the cOmmunion of grOwing (which means war! Huh!).

I mean, our instink is to satisfy our passions in any way safely possible.
However, sex, drugs n' rock and roll (or whatever) is never enough. Never.
And we will never feel or be complete as long as we are slaves to mind parasites, Big Nanny, Big Fanny, or any other totalitarian system, be it internal or external.

In other words, determinism is a drag, man. It brings the Ben down.
Besides, determinist reductionism is about aa fun as being fed to a giant meat grinder.

12/31/2010 02:02:00 AM  
Blogger ge said...

"Carl Jung wrote of how the medieval pseudo-science of alchemy was actually a way to talk about mind parasites and their eradication."

Well thankfully ol' CJ mightn't get the last word re ye olde
Alchemy

he's a
rebbl

12/31/2010 06:40:00 AM  

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