Monday, May 17, 2010

Waking on Water and Sailing to the Father Shore

As it pertains to the nonlocal spiritual dimension, one of the ways you can confirm its reality is that -- as all senior Raccoons know -- with applied non-doodling, the membrain between the so-called "inner" and "outer" worlds begins to weaken, so that your life begins to reveal a dense network of synchronistic connections, both in time and space. It is as if you turn over the rug of your life, and can see the warp and weft underneath the outward pattern. Only then can you truly understand how this transdimensional area rug secretly "pulls your room together," dude. Not only is it the reason why you can know the One, but the reason why you are one.

In other words, unity comes from above, not below. No above, no unity. Except material unity, I suppose. Which is why the only unity known by the left is the dreary and coercive material unity of collectivism. And please note that secular materialism doesn't just appropriate matter, but Spirit. As they used to say of communism, it makes everyone equal -- equally poor. But the same principle applies to realms above matter, so that with materialism, everyone becomes equally stupid -- especially the intelligent, who are denied the very reality to which human intelligence is miraculously proportioned. And when the mind is allowed only to work on matter, soon enough it reflects this reality and becomes dense, compacted, earthbound, and generally "materialized" (cf. our trolls).

I can't tell you how many times I blog about a subject, only to see the subject thrown back in my phase space later that day, often in a geometrically transformed manner within the bi-logical space of consciousness. Why, it's almost as if I -- or someOne pulling my strings -- "anticipated" the future, or as if the future cast its shadow back into the past. Of course, it does both and neither, as the hyperdense connectedness of bi-logical consciousness cannot be reduced to any crude linear conception.

Long-time readers of this blog know full well that they were drawn here by their own future self. I mean the ones who benefit from it, not the trolls; they are also drawn to their future, but in their case, they reject the message -- or bizarrely try to shoot the transdimensional messenger. But (obviously) the bullets pass right through Petey. You might say that the troll's future bleekons -- which is why they cannot stay away. It reminds me of a co-dependent woman who marries her abuser, because she cannot tolerate being far from her own persecutory mind parasites. You know the old slaying: "Keep your friends close, and your mind parasites closer." Never ask for whom the trolls yell, for it is always theirSelves.

The deeper you penetrate into consciousness, the closer you come to the organizing singularity, as well as the archetypal "stars" that also lure the self inward and upward. If you live your life on the surface of consciousness, then you won't notice the Nonlocal Network, or else you'll simply dismiss evidence of it because of your absecular brainwashing.

The existence of the Network has always been acknowledged by eminent Raccoons down through the ages, but you have to know how to decode the language. For example, as Perry writes,

"If the spiritual work has hitherto shown itself predominantly as an effort to transcend the 'lower waters' and attain an equilibrium on the 'surface of the waters,' it now becomes through inverse analogy a journey or 'immersion' into the 'higher waters' of formless possibilities -- supraindividual states which no longer concern the human condition as such (hence the idea of 'drowning' or 'extinction'), but to which the human being has access, at least potentially, through the centrality that is the primordial birthright of his state, and which by definition are fully realized in the plenitude of the Universal Man."

In other words, this represents a sort of fulcrum in our spiritual development, in that we must first learn to "float" on the lower waters of consciousness before plunging into the upper waters of trans-consciousness.

What does it mean to "learn to float?" To a large extent, this is the domain of psychotherapy, of becoming familiar with your own deep sea monsters -- i.e., mind parasites -- that dwell in the depths of your being, and constantly threaten to pull you down and even swallow you up. Clearly, in some form or fashion, you must become a Master of your own Domain, or, like our ønanistic trolls, risk becoming a chronic masticator who grinds away with the lower mind and therefore never become truly fertile.

Conversely, many people -- the new age and integral rabble come to mind -- try to plunge into the upper waters before mastering the lower, so they merely end up "polluting" the pure waters with their psychic impurities. One wonders if this is why they all seem to believe in the climate change hysteria. Probably so. This would represent a fine example of a psychic transformation being externalized without any insight whatsoever.

This is one of the considerable dangers of go-it-alone spirituality. I'm sure the same people have transformed a shallow, gaffe-prone cipher who is capable only of mouthing recycled leftist platitudes he assimilated in college, into a person of stature in their own minds. Talk about going off the shallow end.

Which is an important point. We talk about people "going off the deep end," and with good reason. In fact, never trust a spiritual teacher who has not, at some point in his life, genuinely gone off the deep end, for only he will truly know about the lower waters and how to dog-paddle -- and God-paddle -- in them. Read any serious spiritual autobiography, and you will read of the depth of the struggle to master these lower waters. Not only that, but you will obtain objective information about the currents, the undertows, the doldrums, the winds, the fixed stars, etc., for your own night sea journey on the ark in the dark.

Only once you've learned to float your boat will it be worthy of sailing into the upper waters, as you graduate from the "lesser mysteries" to the "greater mysteries." What makes it so difficult is that you must simultaneously build this ark while learning to swim. But once it is seaworthy, then you will have a kind of calm center that can withstand the storms that lie ahead. The nature of this vessel will determine whether you can avoid drowning, walk on water, part the sea, swim upstream, survive underwater for lengthy periods, make it to the farther shore, etc.

Now, I found this particular passage in Perry (quoting Guenon) fascinating: "The voyage may be accomplished, either by going upstream to the source of the waters, or by crossing these to the other bank, or else by finally descending the current to the sea" (emphasis mine). In short, there are three possible deustinations: up, down or across; or to the Source of the waters, to the infinite Ocean into which all waters eventually drain, or to the bank on the other side. In turn, these would correspond to the ways of gnosis ("knowledge of the source"), of non-dual mysticism (diving into the ocean of being), and of bhakti, or loving devotion to God.

As Perry explains, "going upstream" is identified with the "World Axis," or the "celestial river" that "descends to earth." Alert readers will have gnosissed that Petey makes reference to this in the Cosmobliteration section of One Cosmos:

Floating upstream alongside the ancient celestial trail, out from under the toilsome tablets of time.... Off to sea the River Man, starry-eyed and laughing, cloud-hidden, who-, what-, why- & whereabouts unknown, bathed in the white radiance of ecstasy central. In the garden misty wet with rain, eight miles high, far from the twisted reach of yestermorrow. Insinuate! Now put down the apple and back away slowly, and nobody dies! Here, prior to thought, by the headwaters of the eternal, the fountain of innocence... .

Petey also makes reference to the way of the nondual Ocean, or what he calls "being drowned in the Lao Tsunami":

Returning to the Oneself, borne again to the mysterious mamamatrix of our birthdeath, our winding binding river of light empties to the sea.

And then there is the way of bhakti across the river:

Reverse worldward descent and cross the bridge of darkness to the father shore; on your left is the dazzling abode of immortality, on your right is the shimmering gate of infinity. Return your soul to its upright position and extinguish all (me)mories, we're in for a promised landing. Touching down in shantitown, reset your chronescapes and preprayer for arrisall.

Petey realized when he trancelighted these island passages that very few readers would ever obtain any benefit from them. The surprise is that they were published atoll even though they only bear wetness to the same old water in new skins.

The wise man can through earnestness, virtue, and purity, maketh himself an island which no flood can submerge. --Udana

I [the Buddha] can walk on water as if it were solid earth. --Samutta-nikaya

I [the Buddha] crossed the flood only when I did not support myself or make any effort. --ibid.

If drifting in the vast ocean a man is about to be swallowed up by the Nagas, fishes, or evil beings, let his thought dwell on the power of the [Bodhisattva], and the waves will not drown him. --Kwannon Sutra

The name Moses means, taken from the water, and so we shall be taken out of instability, rescued from the storm of the world-flow. --Meister Eckhart

But while it is the case that if thou lettest not go of thine own self altogether to drown in the bottomless sea of the Godhead, verily one cannot know this divine death. --Meister Eckhart

God is the Lake of Nectar, the Ocean of Immortality. He is called the "Immortal" in the Vedas. Sinking into It, one does not die, but transcends death. --Sri Ramakrishna

I shall throw myself into the uncreate sea of the naked Godhead. --Angelus Silesus

The desirous soul no longer thirsts for God but into God, the pull of its desire draws it into the Infinite Sea. --Richard of Saint-Victor

...To flow in God and sink down in Him -- like a vessel full of water which when emptied nothing remains in it, so will I wholly empty and sink myself quite into God. --Johannes Kelpius

Friday, May 14, 2010

Intelligent Stupidity and the Eternal Pursuit of Chicks and Grub

Before we can determine who is intelligent, we must first define what intelligence is and what it is for. In other words, we must account for the fact that it is possible to be "smart" about the wrong things and for the wrong reasons -- think, for example, about a clever criminal, or a person who devotes his intelligence to some peripheral obsession, say, global warming.

In fact, even the nature of this question about the purpose of intelligence provides a hint, for it presupposes the ability of the intellect to "stand outside" or "above" intelligence and view it objectively. Thus, the implication is that intelligence as such implies both verticality and objectivity.

I suppose the Darwinian view would maintain -- would have to maintain, on pain of being fatally inconsistent... which it is, but let's move on -- that the purpose of intelligence is to get grub and babes. Therefore, using one's intelligence for any other purpose would have to be considered very stupid. As such, human beings would have to be considered the least intelligent of all species, since they waste so much mental energy on stupid and pointless things such as music, poetry, painting, and spirituality. Unless, of course, these activities are just devious ways to get babes and grub.

How could natural selection have created such a stupid animal that engages in so many pointless and fanciful activities? It makes no sense. For example, if we were to rate presidential greatness on the Darwinian scale, Clinton would win in a glandslide, for no one has surpassed him in cashing in the presidency for his daily bread and daily broads.

Please don't think I'm exaggerating. In the course of writing the Coonifesto, I plowed through any number of books by various sociobiologists and evolutionary psychologists who twist themselves into putzels trying to reduce every aspect of the human mind to the plane of reproductive fitness.

A case in point is The Mating Mind, by Geoffrey Miller, who argued that most every human attribute can be explained by sexual selection. I see on the amazon page that even the hopeless boneheads at Publisher's Weekly can recognize this as a circular argument, even if they lack the sophistication to realize that all materialistic explanations of intelligence are circular.

Being that the dustjacket indicates that Miller is married --meaning that he already has sexual access to a female -- I guess I don't get the point of his book. I also see that he dedicated it to "Rosalind," presumably his wife. Wouldn't flowers and dark chocolate have been just as effective in achieving his reproductive mission? I mean, if Miller's thesis is correct, then he wrote his book not because of any devotion to Truth, but to make Rosalind his intern, as our most evolutionarily fit president might say. To the extent that he didn't score, then the book fails by its own standard. We'll have to ask Rosalind.

Come to think of it, if the Darwinians are correct about intelligence, then perhaps instead of granting scholars tenure, we should just give them access to lots of attractive young coeds. Oh, wait a minute....

Suddenly the intellectual vacuity of academia makes sense.

Perhaps some folks have difficulty seeing God because God is doing the looking. To a certain extent this is unavoidably true, for only a "naturally supernatural" intelligence can know of God, and the intellect is a divine spark that cannot be accounted for on any purely naturalistic basis. Schuon points out that we have an "uncreated intellect" at the center of our being, which may be thought of as an extension, or prolongation, of the "divine light." It is both a part of us, and yet, "other," for it is that part of us that allows us to stand outside ourselves.

We also have a "created intellect," which is a "reflection of this Light at the center of Existence" (Schuon). The two are essentially One but nevertheless distinct, and in fact, this distinction must be maintained if we are to understand these two very different aspects of the intellect. As Schuon puts it, "when we speak of the Heart-Intellect, we mean the universal faculty which has the human heart for its symbolical seat, but which, while being ‘crystallised’ according to different planes of reflection, is none the less ‘divine’ in its single essence."

You might say that the lower intellect -- thrust as it is to the further reaches, or "periphery" of the cosmic center -- allows us to comprehend change, while the higher intellect abides closer to the immutable, which it in turn is able to contemplate or "reflect upon" -- for all intelligence must, in the final analysis, be a sort of reflection of whatever reality it is trying to understand. "Perfect reflection" would represent "perfect understanding" -- which is to say, it would embody totality and objectivity. Which is why the spiritual life may be reduced to "cleaning mirrors."

This is consistent with the Kabbalistic view, which maintains, according to Adin Steinsaltz, that our interior Coon Central should not be thought of as a kind of static "point" in space time. Rather, it is "a continuous line of spiritual being, stretching from the general source of all the souls to beyond the specific body of a particular person.... and because the soul is not a single point in space, it should be viewed not as a single existence having one quality or character, but as many existences, on a variety of spiritual levels..."

It is only on this higher level that human beings are all connected. While secularists deny this higher reality, they nevertheless intuit it on some level (as all humans must), which is the actual source and motive of their nightmarish collectivist schemes. Because of a sort of mistranslation, they attempt to impose in the horizontal what they deny in the vertical.

In this regard, leftists are the mirror image of the Islama-bomba-ding-dongs, who invent a God to grant them in the vertical what they deny themselves in the horizontal -- mainly a lot of sex and grub. Oddly enough, they end up worshiping the same Darwinian god as the sociobiologists -- the only difference being that, in the case of the tenured leftist, his 72 coeds are not likely to be virgins.

And as for these different levels of reality, we must again avoid thinking of them in material terms -- with the exception of the actual physical world (and even then, the material world has a metaphysical transparency that only the most boneheaded anonymous atheist could miss). While the physical world appears to be the "bottom floor" on the vertical scale, it so happens that there is also a subterranean basement and parking structure (the unconscious and inconscient).

As Steinsaltz puts it, "The physical world in which we live, the objectively observed universe around us, is only a part of an inconceivably vast system of worlds. Most of these worlds are spiritual in their essence.... Which does not necessarily mean that they exist somewhere else, but means rather that they exist in different dimensions of being. What is more, the various worlds interpenetrate and interact in such a way that they can be considered counterparts of one another, each reflecting or projecting itself on the one below or above it."

And as one descends in the worlds -- which is simultaneously a motion from the center to the periphery -- materiality and linear causation become increasingly greater. Existence becomes "heavier," or more dense, so to speak. Put another way, nothing could be more ethereal than the mathematical equations that preside over change and continuity while abiding in the Cosmic Intellect -- except perhaps the mind of the mathematician who contemplates and understands them, and is witness to their inexplicable beauty. There is no great mathematician who is not a Platonist.

It is a matter of understanding the difference between Principles and their Manifestation. It is a kind of cosmic irony that scientists have rejected the heliocentric theory, since, as we have mentioned before, science begins at the mysterious center of intellectual light and moves to the periphery, where it ramifies into the multitude of various scientific disciplines. In short, it moves from a sun-like unity -- which it simply assumes but can never account for -- to the periphery, where the sun's rays illuminate various disciplines.

Conversely, religion moves from the cosmic periphery back to the center which is its source and ground -- from the rays to the sun, from manifestion to principle, the ultimate Principle being God, whose center we share -- but only on the "higher" or "deeper" plane alluded to above. As Schuon explains,

"Intellectual intuition comprises essentially a contemplativity which in no way enters into the rational capacity, the latter being logical rather than contemplative; it is contemplative power, receptivity in respect of the Uncreated Light, the opening of the Eye of the Heart, which distinguishes transcendent intelligence from reason. The latter perceives the general and proceeds by logical operations, whilst Intellect perceives the principial -- the metaphysical -- and proceeds by intuition. Intellection is concrete in relation to rational abstractions, and abstract in relation to the divine Concreteness."

Therefore, comprehending God is not exactly a kind of knowing; rather, it is more a kind of "seeing." Just as Petey doesn't read a book, but simply stares at it in order to extract the information he needs, this is analogous to how scripture and revelation must be regarded. In other words, we don't understand them with our lower rational faculty, any more than we would understand a scene of transcendent physical beauty -- say, Yosemite Valley or Jellystone Park -- with our rational faculty. Indeed, to try to do so would represent a kind of madness -- the same madness that afflicts the obligatory atheists such as Hitchens and Harris, who have simply found a clever way to exchange their metaphysical stupidity for chicks and grub.

In fact, if these overeducated beasts do succeed in their satanic mission of destroying the spiritual foundation of the West, then perhaps we will see them for that they are: cluelesside bombers. But then it will be too late, because there will be no one foolish enough to lay down their life to preserve the higher spiritual principles that allow these parasites to flourish in a free society. If all that's left to fight over is sex and food, soon we won't even have that.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Getting Stuck on Smart with Deep Stupidity

I long ago noticed a pattern in myself between active and passive modes -- almost like the seasons, in which there is a time to plant and a time to harvest. Once I truly recognized the cycle, I tried never to harvest in planting time, nor vice versa. I mean, you could try to do that, but what happens? On the one hand, immature thoughtlets, green theories, inedible ideas, and on the other, moldy observations, overripe concepts, and squishy notions.

When I wrote the book, I very much respected this organic process, and never tried to force anything. Sometimes a couple of months would go by, and I wouldn't give it a thought -- at least not a conscious thought. In reality, it was below the soil, sending down roots and throwing up shoots. You might say that I was allowing the (↑↓) process to proceed at its own pace, like falling rain and budding leaves.

So when I started blogging over five years ago, I never expected the harvest to go on for this long. Problems only arise when I feel myself transition into that passive mode, but feel the pressure to produce something. At that point I'm faced with two options: either go on hiatus, or rework old posts.

This is a long way of saying that I hope no one minds if I spend some time in the arkive. In reality, the active and passive modes work together, almost like left and right brains. Any writer realizes this -- that there is a part that actively produces, and another part that passively critiques. I actually enjoy having the opportunity to pause and reflect on what I've harvested over the past five years, because when I consider it in the passive mode, I'm doing so for the first time. It's very much like being a reader of the blog, only with the added benefit of being able to tweak things to my liking, but also to gently massage them into conformity with the Current Truth. In other words, to eliminate any embarrassing errors or lame jokes.

Also, we have many new readers who weren't around three or four years ago, so these post will be novelgazes to them. And besides, when I began the blog, I did so with the explicit intention of writing things from a more timeless perspective, so that they would have no expiration date anyway. So without further ado.....

Unintelligent people are usually just plain wrong, so we don't have to worry much about them. On the other hand, in order to attain truly deep stupidity, one must generally be of above average intelligence. Therefore, in certain people, it is obvious that intelligence doesn't vary inversely with stupidity, but directly with it. Not for nothing has it been said that so much philosophy is simply "error on a grandiose scale"; one also thinks of Keynes' quip about practical men being slaves of some defunct economist such as Keynes.

A prime example of deep stupidity and grandiose error is Marxism and all of its many polluted streams, branches, creeks and crocks. That variants of this falsehood still proliferate on the left today means that, as always, intelligence alone is no inoculation against evil, darkness, and error. Hardly. Those who talk about how "smart" Obama is are only the latest incarnation of a perennial problem. After all, even Jimmy Carter wasn't mentally retarded (morally retarded, yes).

For conservative classical liberals, we are generally faced with an odious choice between the stupid party and the evil party. We generally align ourselves with the former, since the GOP is at least susceptible to our influence, whereas the left is not. Someone who has truly given himself over to darkness is not going to be persuaded by truth. His intelligence is in the service of forces he neither sees nor understands, and there is just no point of entry in dealing with him, since he is not lacking information as such but light. Truly, you can hand them the truth on a silver platter, and they will not only reject it but be quite hostile to it. It actually makes them angry, which is one of the reasons liberals don't know how to argue except deceptively.

There are many way to react to truth, only one of which is quiet acceptance. Truth is not just true, but a force. This is why it elicits such strong reactions in people. You will have undoubtedly noticed that when you comprehend a deep truth, there is a pleasant physical sensation that goes along with it -- hard to describe (Christopher Bollas calls it "the erotics of being"), but if you could amplify its vibrations, it would feel like getting the punch line of a joke, or the parts of your being lining up like iron filings, or perhaps properly hitting a baseball.

Another way of saying it is that Truth is a presence. This is something all Raccoons will know by experience, but will make no sense to the leftist -- for whom it will literally be a meaningless statement. To go so far as to suggest that Truth once walked among us -- and still does -- is the height of absurdity. But truth is the link between Being and knowing. Thus, to say, for example, that Christ is the truth is to say that he is a manifestation of the divine presence, or a bridge between God and human nature.

Truth is not only not accepted by most people, but engenders a counter-force that is actively hostile to it. This may seem like a controversial statement, but it is the stock in trade of psychoanalysis, which essentially comes down to a study of the varieties of self-deception, or the ways in which one part of the mind pulls the wool over another part. Think about that for a moment, and I think you'll agree that it is quite remarkable -- how the left brain literally doesn't know what the right brain is doing.

I say "literally" because there is good evidence that what we call the unconscious is actually "lodged," so to speak, in the nonverbal -- but also transverbal -- right brain. Every patient comes into treatment with what I call a "likely story." This explicit story is located in the left brain, the seat of language, aristotelian logic, and linear time. However, the right brain has its own story to tell, but how do you tell a story in the absence of verbal language? You do so in the form of symptoms, or quirky character traits, unexplainable likes and dislikes, unaccountable mood storms, irrational obsessions, compulsions, or self-defeating behaviors that the left brain is powerless to stop. This is because every self-defeating behavior is ipso facto a self-fulfilling behavior for a part of the mind of which we are not consciously aware.

Freud stumbled upon the method of free association with which to try to understand the various agendas of the mind that ran counter to truth and were the source of psychological pain and dysfunction. There is no great mystery to free association, in which the patient lies down and tries to say whatever comes to mind without censoring it. It is simply a way to try to lull the left brain to sleep and allow the right brain to come out of the shadows. Sounds easy, but every step along the way is met with resistance which can become labyrinthine in its ability to prevent the discovery of the truth.

Here again this is remarkable, for it means that the part of the mind that is resisting must know the truth on some level, otherwise there would be no reason to resist it. Therefore, as Bion pointed out, the truth is prior to the lie, just as light must be prior to the shadow. Indeed, Bion went so far as to say that only the Lie requires a thinker -- and actually brings the thinker into being. On the other hand, truth requires only our conformity with it. We simply "bow before reality" -- which, when you think about it, is an excellent way of putting it, for reverent bowing is one of the appropriate responses to the force, or presence, of truth.

Schuon said something similar when he wrote that "A truth is efficacious to the extent that we assimilate it; if it does not give us the strength we need, this merely proves we have not grasped it. It is not for the truth to be 'dynamic,' it is for us to be dynamic thanks to the truth. What is lacking in today’s world is a penetrating and comprehensive knowledge of the nature of things; the fundamental truths are always accessible, but they could not be imposed on those who refuse to take them into consideration."

Among other responses, truth engenders a dynamic sense of veneration -- a sense of the sacred. And this is why you will have noticed that the left attempts to surround so many of its smelly little orthodoxies with the penumbra of sanctity. But the sanctity is entirely bogus -- it readily slides into the sanctimony that is intrinsic to the left.

In a perverse way, this sanctimoniousness answers the human need for the sacred, but in an alternatively crudely sentimental or authoritarian manner enforced by the many varieties political correctness. You will notice that the left's replacement of moral/religious depth with sentimentality is just as evident as their replacement of transcendent truth with authoritarian mind control; they are not opposites but complementary. Scratch a leftist and you will always find a well of irrational, idealistic sentimentality that becomes the basis and justification for the omnipotent state, e.g., "social justice," "standing up for the little guy," "fairness," etc.

This is why the left doesn't really have ideas but icons -- including "iconic ideas." It is an insidious and sinister process, because there is great psychological pressure on all us of to bow down before these false gods, as if they were actually sacred (e.g., Mahatma Gandhi, Earth Day, FDR, Margaret Sanger). And there is absolutely no symmetry in this. For example, if a conservative steps on one of the left's many sacred cowpies, there is a good chance that his career will be ruined. But if a leftist offends what is actually sacred, he will be praised as someone who "speaks truth to power." There is no symmetry in the treatment of Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas.

The point is that nearly every one of the leftists's core beliefs is not a proper idea but an icon, whether it is manmade global warming, moral relativism, affirmative action, abortion, homosexual behavior, "peace," "progress," multiculturalism, "diversity" -- in fact, "progressive" is the quintessence of a meaningless icon, since it bears no relationship to progress and promotes economic and social policies that ensure not just a lack of progress, but regression. For example, the "peace movement" can only bring about more war, just as affirmative action can only bring about harm to blacks.

And this is why it is so easy to be a conservative, because you no longer have to contort yourself with so many lies in order to be thoroughly consistent, both internally and externally, vertically and horizontally. The left confuses their contortions with "nuance," but nuance is simply the left brain's feeble attempt to grapple with its own incoherence, and to come up with a narrative cover story that isn't completely offensive to normal people.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Truth Decay and Mental Hygiene

A big problem in our postmodern and post-enlightened culture is that even if a person believes that truth exists, they often have a very limited conception of what it entails -- basically empirical or rational truth. This, despite the fact that logical positivism, materialism, scientism, etc., are totally discredited philosophies. You would be a terribly crippled human crapling if you were to try to live your life as if there were a perfect correspondence between the True and the merely empirically or rationally true. Indeed, you would be Charles Johnson.

As there are diverse forms of beauty and goodness, there are diverse forms of truth. That itself is a true statement, but what sort of truth?

Another way of asking it is, "what is the truth about Truth?" There is empirical truth, rational truth, aesthetic truth, moral truth, revealed truth, even a person who claimed to be Truth. Given these diverse expressions, are we really dealing with the same thing? Or is it some kind of failure of language that causes us to confuse these categories?

Obviously, there must be some relationship between truth and intelligence, so that even if it is only in some vague, implicit sense, to say "intelligence" is to imply "truth" (and vice versa). For, as we have noted before, if intelligence doesn't know truth, then it isn't very intelligent. And yet, we know full well that there is a disconnect between human intelligence and truth, especially among the more tenured among us. The typical liberal intellectual not only believes things that are untrue, but things that could not possibly be true.

Naturally, the intellect must be subordinate to Truth. Thus, real intelligence -- assuming it knows Truth -- should automatically engender a spirit of humility, because it is aware of its inferior position. But due to a number of character flaws -- mostly pride -- the intellectual may come to value his own intellect more than the truth that may be known through it.

This is again why we should value good character over intelligence, since good character implies a kind of intelligence that is faithful to the transcendent object of human existence, whereas a dismembered and ontologically isolated intelligence entails no such concordance. The former implies "cardiac comprehension," or intellection, which transcends mere mental knowing. A truly intelligent person is a humble person, since he does not fundamentally seek recognition but transcendence: "he is interested in surpassing himself; hence in pleasing God more than men" (Schuon).

Schuon summarizes what has gone wrong with the "unintelligently intelligent" person, whereby "the most capable mind may be the vehicle of the grossest error":

"The paradoxical phenomenon of even a 'brilliant' intelligence being the vehicle of error is explained first of all by the possibility of a mental operation that is exclusively 'horizontal,' hence lacking all awareness of 'vertical' relationships; however, the definition 'intelligence' still applies, because there is still a discernment between something essential and something secondary, or between a cause and an effect." But the systematic, even intentional, exclusion of the vertical -- and we see this all the time, especially on the left -- "creates a void that the irrational necessarily comes to fill." (cf. The Varieties of Liberal Enthusiasm, and a tail waggle to Mizz E.)

And this is why irreligious people tend to be so extraordinarily irrational in their beliefs. It is not that religious people cannot also be irrational. Hardly! But that is the fault of the individual believer and of fallen humanity as such.

A proper Christian is never surprised when he encounters someone who believes nonsense -- whether religious or irreligious, it doesn't matter. Indeed, he expects it, since his religiosity both predicts and accounts for it. But secular extremists such as Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens are surprised by irrationality -- as if human beings are not fallen and not prone to inhabit illusions (secular extremism being one of the most pernicious illusions).

Because to be a secular extremist is to be a fully horizontal man, and thus, to commit not only spiritual, but intellectual, suicide. It is the ultimate cosmic inversion, for it is to elevate our fallen state to the highest virtue. It is "to love only terrestrial life, to the detriment of the ascending and celestial path," to be "exteriorized," and to "love only outer things, to the detriment of moral and spiritual values." Ultimately it is "to sin against transcendence, thus it is to forget God and consequently the meaning of life; and outwardness is to sin against immanence, thus to forget our immortal soul and consequently its vocation" (Schuon)

And finally, it must be insisted that this willful horizontality engenders a kind of uniquely "human animality" that all persons with activated cOOnvision can see "is situated beneath animality as such, for animals innocently follow their immanent law and thereby enjoy a certain natural and indirect contemplation of the Divine Prototype; whereas there is decadence, corruption and subversion when man voluntarily reduces himself to his animality" (Schuon).

Schuon points out that there are four functions of intelligence: objectivity, subjectivity, activity, and passivity. In the human mind, these correspond to reason, intuition, imagination, and memory, respectively.

To be “objective” -- as in everyday science -- means that our knowledge "is inspired by data which are exterior to it." This is referred to as the "correspondence" theory of truth, and it certainly has its place. But to imagine that intelligence is nothing more than a mirroring of the external material world is to make intelligence subordinate to matter instead of Truth. Thus, to remain mired on this concrete level of reality is to codify stupidity in the manner of the devout atheists referenced above. It is to elevate a small portion of truth and a limited aspect of intelligence to the totality.

But there is also subjective intelligence, which "operates through existential analogy," as in, say, scripture ("as above, so below"). Scripture is only "effective," so to speak, because it is not ultimately about "the world" but about us. You might say that it is the truth about humans, including the world humans inevitably create in the absence of this saving knowledge.

The capacity to know this kind of truth is not fundamentally different from our ability, say, to know the subjectivity of another. For example, as a psychologist, my primary data is never merely rational, empirical, verbal, or objective. Rather, it is direct and intuitive, mind-to-mind. Only here do we begin to enter the specifically human world.

For example, an autistic person -- the real kind, not the newer variants that may or may not be related to true autism -- is specifically barred full access to this human world. A severely autistic person is a true materialist, in that he lives in a bizarre sea of objects from which he cannot escape "upward" or "inward," so to speak. This transition was captured vividly, if apocryphally, in the film The Miracle Worker, when Helen first makes the connection between concrete water and abstract wetness. Suddenly she gains access to a whole new world: the human world.

But something equally dramatic happens -- does it not? -- when we suddenly gain access to the "divine world" through our comprehension of revelation. There is definitely a "phase transition" in spirtitual growth, where one rather suddenly goes from knowledge to understanding (i.e., the "second birth"). To realize that this understanding will continue to deepen and grow is the thrill of a lifetime, as we enjoy the flow of energies from the Great Attractor along our keel.

As water leads to wetness, the experience of the divine (or of the sacred, the holy, the transcendentally beautiful) leads to Divinity. All are passages out, up, and in, however you wish to conceptualize it. But the exact word is not of fundamental importance. Rather, the experience is. Let your words be shaped by the divine object and anchored in the ground of real experience, or of O-->(n).

Now, in its active mode, intelligence "relives, recreates or combines the possibilities which are known to it, and this is the imagination." Conversely, in its passive mode, the intelligence "registers and preserves the data which present themselves to it." Thus, at once we appreciate the subtle balance of, on the one hand, fixed dogma and orthodoxy, and on the other, our active engagement of it with our higher imagination. Revelation must be "worked over" in the higher imagination.

I believe you will find that all of the greatest theologians are great precisely because they respect and maintain this subtle balance between imagination and doctrine. To default on the side of dogma creates a sterile conformity with no possibility of organic spiritual growth watered by the grace of personal understanding, or (↑↓); while to default in the other direction places one in the solipsistic and narcissistic realm of the new age fantasists such as Deepak and Co.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Volk Religion of the Left

If one doesn't believe in revelation, then the issue of divine accommodation is moot. But if revelation has occurred, then I think it's impossible to avoid the conclusion that it must be couched in terms that human beings can comprehend. And since human beings have changed dramatically over the centuries, this means that God must reveal himself in different ways at different times and to different populations.

For example, as we were discussing in the previous post, the logic of sacrifice made perfect sense to primitive peoples, otherwise it wouldn't have been universally practiced. It took thousands of years for human beings to arrive at the conception of a rational and caring God -- or even God, since it was a long, back-and-forth struggle to evolve from polytheism to monotheism. Compared to how long man has been here, monotheism has only prevailed for a tiny percentage of the time.

Stark begins with an analysis of the religious beliefs of primitive peoples, but it turns out that there's not all that much we can know about them with certainty. For example, many theories on the subject were derived from the study of "modern stone age" cultures such as Bedrock that persisted into the 19th century or later, and there is no way of knowing for sure if the Flintstones are really similar to peoples of ten or twenty thousand years ago.

Interestingly, it has long been argued that religion began with nature worship, but Stark writes that "primitive peoples show remarkably little interest in what we may regard as the most impressive phenomena of nature -- sun, moon, sky, mountains, sea, and so forth -- whose monotonous regularities they take very much for granted." In other words, ironically, it is contemporary human beings who are much more impressed with the beauty and majesty of nature. This is not difficult to understand, as primitive man must have been very much aware of the fact that nature was full of dangers.

Furthermore, as I have argued in the past, I don't think primitive peoples were individuated enough to notice such a sharp distinction between self and world. It is only because we are so aware of our separation that we take aesthetic notice of the environment -- which is why it is no coincidence that the romantic movement arose shortly after the emergence of the modern self.

In every development, something is gained but something is lost. I can see this quite vividly in my son, who is still between baby and boy. When he goes thorough a growth spurt, this is usually accompanied by anxiety that makes him want to engage in "regression play," for example, being a baby animal.

Likewise, when the autonomous self emerged with modernity, something was lost. Actually, several things: a fixed role, erosion of traditional family structures, weakening of religious constraints, etc. Think of the vast difference between having your identity given to you, vs. having an open-ended self that one must struggle to actualize and understand. In a very real sense, being liberated from tradition meant being a mystery to oneself.

The scientific and industrial revolutions created a kind of historical rupture or existential birthquake which continues to be felt today. In his book Modern Fascism, Veith discusses the deep alienation that resulted from the dramatic change from an agrarian, religious, hierarchical, and essentially timeless (or cyclical) existence to one that was suddenly ordered around the machine, the clock, democracy, and (small r) reason.

If we say that man appeared approximately 200,000 years ago, his life was essentially unchanged from then until the Agricultural Revolution some 10,000 years ago. Afterwards, not a lot changed for the average Joe until the Industrial Revolution, beginning in the 18th century. So in the overall scheme of things, our current lifestyle is truly just a blip -- several hundred years out of a total of 200,000. No wonder, therefore, that humans have such a strongly romantic and nostalgic streak, being that we're all living in an alien psychic environment profoundly different from the one we we evolved in.

Veith writes that "fascism is essentially a response to the alienation that has been a part of the spiritual landscape of the West since the Enlightenment.... Science, technology, and the economic realities and environmental damage of the industrial revolution isolate the individual from nature. There has thus been a genuine yearning for community and for an organic unity with the natural world."

Living a life of cold logic is intrinsically alienating. There is nothing Rational about living a life of pure (again, small r) reason. But nor is there anything rational about abandoning reason altogether and living a purely instinctual life, which is what occurred with Nazi Germany, but also to a lesser extent in the 1960s, not just in America, but all over the developed world.

Again, this is anything but progressivism; it is pure romanticism, which is always backward looking -- and not just backward looking, but backward to an idealized past that never existed to begin with. It is pure projection of present existential pain, and escapism into a mythic past. No one is more conservative than a progressive. It's just that what they want to conserve is childhood and all of its privileges, i.e., irresponsibility, dependency, entitlement, rebellion against the grown-ups, polymorphous perversity, weak boundaries, etc.

For someone who lives without any religious telos, the denial of impulses seems stifling and arbitrary. As Veith writes, "If objective knowledge is alienating, subjective experience is liberating and healing. Authentic experience comes from unleashing the emotions, cultivating the subjective and irrational dimension of life."

So never ask why the left is so emotional and irrational, because that is the whole point. It is a way of life. You will look in vain for the "rational end" they are seeking, because the emotional irrationalism is its own end.

America was the first nation explicitly created around abstract and universal principles instead of more primitive modes of blood, soil, mythology, etc. Here again, the modern doctrine of multiculturalism is in reality a quite primitive reversion back to earlier ways of life. Multiculturalism is specifically a rejection of American principles, what with its obsession with blood and race instead of ideas. This is why those who criticize Obama are accused of being "racist." It is not as if we have our ideas and they have theirs. Rather, we have our ideas and they have their emotions, which they project into us -- as if we are the ones who are obsessed with race!

For Americans -- and for Christians -- "essence" is in the individual. That is, we are created in the image of God, so that our deepest personal essence partakes of divinity.

But for the multicultural volkists of the left, essence is in the group: "Volk is a much more comprehensive term than 'people,'" signifying "the union of a group of people with a transcendental 'essence.' This 'essence' might be called 'nature,' or 'cosmos' or 'mythos,' but in each instance it was fused to man's innermost nature and represented the source of his creativity, his depth of feeling, his individuality and his unity with other members of the Volk. The essential element here is the linking of the human soul with its natural surroundings, with the 'essence' of nature."

Now, why do you think that virtually all leftists are environmental hysterics and global warmongers? Here again, you need only scratch the surface of their irrational rhetoric to appreciate a reservoir of primitive, volkisch-like sentiments of "unity" with mother earth, of "healing" the planet, of turning back the tides, of sacrificial penance to the gods of carbon offsets, etc.

For (non-left) Americans, the individual stands above the state, and derives his inalienable rights from the Creator. But for the left wing volkist, the group is the supreme identity that is fused with the state. No surprise then that we worship such different divinities.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Human Sacrifice on the Altar of the Left

Again, the key to the evolution of God is "divine accommodation," which means that, at any time and in any culture or individual, knowledge of God is limited by the capacity of human beings to comprehend. Since there has never been any human culture that is unaware of God, that means that revelation and comprehension must always be occurring. Even with pre-literate peoples, the message still got through, but in a highly limited and concrete manner.

In fact, Magnus made an excellent point in this regard, and in many ways it is the main reason why this question about God's evolution should be of interest to us: "I wonder to what degree each person is doomed to repeat the psychogenesis of history. At least it should be possible to avoid some of the long pauses and backsliding." The point is that since human beings clearly develop in every way, it necessarily follows that their ability to comprehend God will follow the same developmental schema.

As mentioned yesterday, I certainly don't agree with everything Stark has to say on the subject. Although the book provides a great deal of fascinating and extremely useful research, I think his analysis is far too superficial, and never really gets beneath the surface into the principial, or metaphysical realm. In other words, he is far too empirical, and tries to draw his conclusions in a merely logical way, as if he is studying household income, or the evolution of tools. His ultimate explanation is that religions should be understood in the manner of free market economics, so that, if given the choice, people will "choose" religions that are more satisfying to them.

But this approach begs so many questions that it is difficult to even know where to begin. For example, he assumes far too much rationality in humans, especially humans of the distant past. Let's look, for example, at the (literally) bloodthirsty religions of Mesoamerica. Stark chides the earlier, pre-PC generations of anthropologists that contemptuously dismissed these people as barbaric and hopelessly illogical savages, but I think that is closer to the truth than suggesting that they were merely engaging in an understandable "exchange relationship" between God and man. You know, God wants to drink human blood, and we just happen to have a lot of it around, so it's a win-win situation!

B-b-b-but why blood? Why human sacrifice? And how can there be whole human cultures that revolve around this practice for hundreds of years, without anyone noticing that, for starters, it doesn't actually work? Okay, every time we do it, the sun comes up. Plus, the sun hasn't extinguished yet. Ergo, human sacrifice works.

But is this really logical? And why the anxiety about the sun going out? What's that all about? Obviously the sun had no problems making it through the day before the institution of human sacrifice. Who's the genius that came up with the idea, and how did he sell it to his fellow tribesmen? Can you imagine the conversation?

If I were there at the time, participating in the debate, I would have undoubtedly adopted the role of group psychologist. "Okay, let's stipulate that someone wants to slice open a victim's chest, cut out the beating heart, and eat it. Before assuming that it's God, let's explore this a bit more. Where are these feelings coming from? Mr. Dahmer, what are your thoughts? Etc.

Stark defines sacrifice in operational terms as "things given up or foregone so that they might be offered to God(s)." Okay, good enough. But there's a big difference between the perspectives of the knife-wielding priest and the sacrificial victim, isn't there? I mean, what's the priest really foregoing in Stark's terms? Nothing. Rather, he's very much like a liberal, who is perfectly willing to sacrifice other people's money.

The comparison is rather apt, because the left describes a Ted Kennedy as a lifelong public servant, which is true in the same sense that the sacrificial priest was one. For what did Ted Kennedy ever give up in the sacrificial process of burning all those trillions of dollars that didn't belong to him? When push came to shove, he wouldn't even allow wind generators near his property, because they might interfere with the view. Sacrifice!

Stark notes that "Blood played a significant role in sacrifices in all of the ancient temple religions," and this is indeed true (since, unlike the modern liberal priesthood, they didn't have cash). But again, why? One type of sacrifice that was still in vogue in Paul's time involved slaughtering a bull "on a wooden platform under which lay new initiates who were then drenched in the bull's blood..."

Okay. Let's assume that God enjoys this spectacle. My first thought is WHAT IN THE HELL KIND OF GOD ARE WE TALKING ABOUT HERE, PEOPLE!!!!!

For this cannot be God, -- and certainly not a God worth worshiping -- but some kind of preternatural monster. Stark notes that when the Spanish explorers arrived in Mexico, "they were utterly astounded by the immense ritual slaughters that were taking place." Subsequent academically correct research tried to deny the scope of the sacrifices, but they have now been verified. Stark cites one archaeological find containing the remains of 42 children with their throats cut, as an offering to the "rain gods" (let's not give Al Gore any ideas. Besides, hasn't the poor man sacrificed enough?).

Again, since we're not actually talking about God, what are we talking about? Unfortunately, Stark blandly dismisses psychoanalysis with a single sentence to the effect that is a well-known fraud that needn't seriously detain us, but his only reference is to the admittedly loony anthropological speculations of Freud, as if psychoanalysis hasn't undergone further development in the past 75 years.

One of the key insights of psychoanalysis is that behaviors that appear to be irrational have their own unconscious reason. But Stark believes that "the case for sacrifice as a highly rational economic act is overwhelming." Therefore, there's no need to even invoke a psychoanalytic explanation, since economics explains it.

Do not concur. Here is Stark's description of this rational behavior: "Adult male victims usually were held down [obviously, someone didn't think this was so rational!] on a sacrifical stone atop a pyramid, their chest was slashed open, and the priest snatched their still-beating heart from the chest and held it aloft to the sun." Then, the body "was rolled, flailing down the temple steps to the bottom where it was skinned and dismembered." (Hmm, reminds me of my IRS audit.) For some reason, female victims were often "skinned by a priest who then wore her skin as the slaughter continued."

I wonder what this would have looked like if they had been irrational?

One ceremony in 1487 "began with four lines of victims, each line stretching for two miles.... the total number sacrificed on that occasion was as many as twenty thousand, although others have placed the number as high as eighty thousand.... During regular festivals, the numbers killed at a particular temple probably ran around two thousand a day. But there were literally hundreds of sacrificial sites," like 7-Eleven stores on every corner.

But you know what? The sun's still here, so shut up. And you know what else? President Obama observed that it also came up the day after Obamacare was passed, so shut up again. For that matter, the high priests of liberalism know exactly how many jobs were saved and created as a result of the ritual Porkulus sacrifice, so stop complaining. The state has to burn money in order to ensure that God will make more.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

The Evolution of God

New topic: the evolution of God. But how can God evolve, since God is by definition outside space and time, and therefore not subject to change? Well, God may not evolve, but humans surely do, and with it, their conception of God.

At least this is the argument set forth by Rodney Stark in his Discovering God: The Origins of the Great Religions and the Evolution of Belief, which I'm currently reading. I can already see that I have some differences with his approach; nevertheless, this is one of those books I wish had been available when I wrote mine, since he has some very important things to say that would have helped me to fine-tune my vision.

In particular, it helps me to more clearly elucidate my differences with Schuon over the question of whether time is spiritually entropic or leading in a positive direction. If Stark is correct, I don't see how it is possible to maintain that cultures of the past were intrinsically superior to ours just because they were closer in time to this or that revelation. The unspeakable barbarism of the past is difficult for me to overcome.

This will be a multi-parter. Also, in case it's not obvious, this will be one of those exercises that is more for me than for you, as its purpose will be to discover what I think. In other words, I'll be thinking out loud and you'll be eavesdropping, so don't complain if the results are half-baked while they're still in the oven.

One factor that immediately sets Stark apart from other attempts to understand the basis of religion is that he is not contemptuous of believers, nor does he assume at the outset -- as sociobiologists, evolutionary psychologists, and materialists in general must do -- that God is simply the name we give to a collective delusion implemented for the purposes of genetic survival.

In other words, for a materialist, religion cannot really be "about" God, since God does not exist. Rather, there must be some hidden benefit to this massive and universal self-deception, say, group cohesion, or fear-management.

Stark summarizes the situation by noting that "this entire body of recent work is remarkably inferior because so few authors could restrain their militant atheism." Indeed, if "atheist" is just a name we give to people who, for whatever reason, have a spiritual impairment that prevents access to the transcendent, then nothing they say about God is of any value whatsoever, as it's simply a "negative hallucination," or confabulation, designed to paper over an ontological hole in their vertical perception.

Everything else about man is subject to development, why not his understanding of God? In this regard, man's "discovery" of God is not fundamentally different than, say, the discovery of fire, or electricity, or gravity. The discovery is just the initial "containment" of a real phenomena, but that's not the end of it, only the beginning.

But as we learn more, the cognitive container undergoes transformations, as is true of any knowledge. As Stark writes, "Jews and Christians have always assumed that the application of reason can yield an increasingly more accurate understanding of God" -- in other words, that our understanding evolves. Jesus makes reference to this in explaining his use of parables to the masses, as does Paul in his allegory of giving milk to spiritual babes but meat to the grown-ups.

This in no way detracts from the truth of revelation, which no human being could "contain." Again, what transforms is the human container, which changes both quantitatively and qualitatively. In other words, our spiritual holding capacity doesn't just get "larger," but more "multi-dimensional." You might say that the circle doesn't only expand, but gradually becomes a sphere as well. Indeed, you could say that exoterism involves growth of the circle, whereas esoterism pertains to growth of the sphere.

Again, as Stark notes, "from the earliest days it has been the conventional Christian view that although the Bible is true, its meaning often is uncertain" and subject to diverse and vertically layered interpretations. Thus, to reduce revelation to a literal reading is to attempt to cram the sphere back into the circle, when the whole point is that the circle is the residue of the sphere, not vice versa.

A key concept is divine accomodation, which maintains that "God's revelations are always limited to the current capacity of humans to comprehend" (Stark). In other words -- and how could it be otherwise? -- "in order to communicate with humans, God is forced to accommodate their incomprehension by resorting to the equivalent of 'baby talk.'"

If this is correct, then revelation itself should reflect changing perceptions of God, as God instructs a slowly developing mankind. And indeed it does reflect this growth (e.g., Jews occasionally backsliding into idolatry and other offenses, or Peter's gradual understanding), not just within official scripture, but if we stand back and take a cosmic view.

This is the approach I adopted in my book, and which Stark has already helped me to fill out in certain areas. That is, if we think of history itself as salvation history, then what we call official "salvation history" (i.e, the chronicle of Divine-human contact in the Old and New Testaments) is a subset of the former.

Or, better yet, it is like a fractal of the whole, since no one person could ever wrap his mind around the whole existentialada. But with God's help -- through revelation -- we are given the means to do just that, to grasp the whole through the quintessential fractal known as revelation. For any "part" of God is paradoxically the whole, both in space and time -- e.g., the Son is both distinct from, and yet at one with, the Father. And the Word was -- and is -- there at the beginning, so that to know the Word is to know the beginning and end, i.e., Alpha and Omega.

Stark quotes some of the early fathers such as Irenaeus, who wrote that "the written revelation in inspired scripture is a veil that must be penetrated. It is an accommodation to our present capacites... [that] will one day be superseded." Or, Thomas Aquinas, who agreed that the "things of God" are "revealed to mankind only in proportion to their capacity; otherwise, they might despise what was beyond their grasp...."

This implies a corollary, that men might come to despise the things of God if they regard them as beneath their grasp, which I believe is the situation postmodern man finds himself in. Thus, is it possible for God -- using the same scripture and identical revelation -- to accommodate these lost souls?

You tell me. It is certainly one of the missions of both my book and this blog: to demonstrate day-in and day-out that God's revelation will always be "ahead of its time." You can call yourself "post-modern," but you are still pre-Ancient of Days, for "before Abraham was, I AM."

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Truth Sets You Free, Freedom Sets You On Truth

One of the consolations of secular humanism is that since a human life has no intrinsic -- which is to say, transcendent -- purpose, it isn't possible to waste one's life. Nor, if absolute truth doesn't exist, is it possible to be intrinsically wrong and therefore cosmically stupid. And of course, if virtue is reduced to an arbitrary cultural agreement -- say, about whether or not it is a good idea to leave a woman attached to her clitoris -- then a culture cannot be bad, much less evil, only "different" and probably oppressed and victimized to boot.

If human beings are not free to know truth, then neither freedom nor truth can be said to exist. In other words -- no, the identical words, only italicized for added oomphasis: if human beings are not free to know truth, then neither freedom nor truth can be said to exist.

These two categories -- freedom and truth -- are fundamentally intertwined, and any diminution of one leads to a negation of the other. Therefore, it should be no surprise that a philosophy such as leftism, which does not value liberty, should be permeated with so many lies. And it is not just that these lies represent bad or faulty information, subject to correction. Rather, these are vital lies which one is compelled to believe, often in spite of common sense and hundreds of years of collective experience. In other words, one is not free to believe otherwise.

Perhaps you remember the seemingly mundane but illustrative example of the high school cheerleaders who were compelled by law to root equally for both boys' and girls' teams. As Dennis Prager wrote at the time, "almost no one directly involved wants this -- not the cheerleaders, not the fans, not the boys' teams, and not even the girls' teams. But it doesn't matter: The law coerces cheerleaders to cheer at girls' games."

And it all begins with a vital lie of the left, that men and women are identical. Since no normal person believes this, it must be mandated and pressured into us by force. Put another way, the state -- and this is just one of dozens of examples -- makes it against the law to be normal. (Other examples that come readily to mind: in California it is against the law to "discriminate" against a cross-dressing employee, and in our public school textbooks it is forbidden to depict any culture in a negative light.)

Once a vital lie such as this is accepted, freedom must be constrained in a thousand ways -- not just for men, but obviously for woman as well, since a normal girl has no spontaneous interest in being a cheerleader at a girls' softball game. For that matter, at least back when I was in high school, no boy who wasn't known to be light in the loafers wanted to associated with the words "yell king." Might as well say screaming queen.

I mean, what an intrinsically undignified designation for a young man. Real men don't yell (except when necessary), any more than they whine, quibble, needlessly complain, or pose as victims. If you would be a king among men, you must not only refrain from pettiness -- which is only the absence of a negative -- but possess a genuine center of power. This power may be in the realm of knowing, or doing, or being, but a man, in order to be one, must conquer something in one of these realms.

Furthermore, with respect to knowledge, you can't just know "anything." Rather, you must know truth; and, most importantly, you must defend it, just as you would defend your family. Nor can you do just anything. Rather, you must courageously do what is virtuous in a fallen world.

And you certainly cannot be just anything. Rather, your being must radiate the calm presence of Being itself, which undoubtedly supersedes, or at least infuses, the other two powers. This center of Being is also the center of Power, since it is a terrestrial prolongation of the celestial center of Truth, Virtue, and Freedom.

Prager notes what should be a truism, that "Of all the myths that surround Left-Right differences, one of the greatest is that the Left values liberty more than the Right. Regarding a small handful of behaviors -- abortion is the best example -- this is true. But overwhelmingly, the further left one goes on the political spectrum, the greater the advocacy of more state control of people's lives.... It is astonishing that this obvious fact is not universally acknowledged and that the Left has somehow successfully portrayed itself as preoccupied with personal liberty with regard to anything except sexual behavior and abortion."

Again, since the left does not value liberty, their version of "truth" must be coerced, never arrived at freely. As Prager notes, "Most activists on the Left believe that they, not only their values, are morally superior to their adversaries. Therefore, coercing people to adhere to 'progressive' values is morally acceptable, even demanded. [No bottled water for you! No Christianity for you!] It is thus quite understandable that laws would compel high school cheerleaders to cheer at girls' athletic events as much as at boys'. And true to leftist totalitarian models, not only is behavior is coerced, but emotions as well."

In other words, in compelling one to have certain emotions, the left even tries to shape you "from within," or "beneath" cognition. This is one of the purposes of political correctness, as it compels people to identify with, and express, false emotion -- for example, hysteria over Arizona merely enforcing Federal immigration laws.

Again, consider the pettiness of the left, which leads to an insect-eye-view of the world. Regarding the cheerleaders, leftist activists insist that they should "attend girls' and boys' games 'in the same number, and with equal enthusiasm' as part of its five-year goals.'"

Is it not Orwellian to require "equal enthusiasm" of anyone over anything? Ironic, since "enthusiasm" comes from en theos, or to be in-spired by God. How could enthusiasm be compelled, and still go by the name? Isn't that like "forced spontaneity?"

Besides, for a true leftist, shouldn't genuine en-thusiasm of any kind be against the law on the grounds that it violates the so-called separation of church and state? So too inspiration (spir = spirit) and charisma ("divine gift"). My own field of clinical psychology has many similarly illiberal demands mandating, for example, that I "respect" diversity. Why? Why not the Absolute, or One? Why the pluribus but not the Unum?

Because so-called progressives cannot compete in the marketplace of ideas, it is critical that they hijack the judiciary, so that their policies can be imposed on an unwilling populace, whether it is the redefinition of marriage, or government enforced racial discrimination, or acceptance of illegal Democrats, or compelling citizens to purchase health insurance.

It is simply axiomatic that "The more secular the society, the more laws are needed to keep people in check. When more people feel accountable to God and moral religion, fewer laws need to be passed. But as religion fades, something must step into the moral vacuum it leaves, and laws compelling good behavior result" (Prager).

Natural law is eclipsed by unnatural law, which ends up producing unnatural men -- which is to say, either feminized males or developmentally arrested boys. Or, you could say that the denial of natural law creates merely natural men; which is to say, animals. And for the left, this is "mission accomplished."

The truth is not at your service. Rather, vice versa. Only by virtue of this constraint -- the yoke which is paradoxically easy -- are you free. Not to mention, intelligent. Which is to say, real.

Man is so made that his intelligence has no effective value unless it be combined with a virtuous character. Besides, no virtuous man is altogether deprived of intelligence; while the intellectual capacity of an intelligent man has no value except through truth. Intelligence and virtue are in conformity with their reason for being only through their supernatural contents or archetypes; in a word, man is not fully human unless he transcends himself, hence, in the first place, unless he masters himself. --F. Schuon

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The Cosmography of Subjective Space

Schuon writes that there are three possible "situations or tendencies" for human beings: "firstly, conformity to the Principle, or the 'upward' tendency; secondly, the expansive affirmation of possibilities, hence 'horizontal' -- or, if one prefers, 'passional' -- existence; and thirdly, non-conformity to the Principle, and thus the 'downward' tendency, the illusory movement in the direction of a 'nothingness' that is nonexistent, obviously, but is possible as a negative and subversive point of reference." (This is in accord with the Vedanta, which speaks of sattva, rajas, and tamas, respectively.)

Obviously, the Raccoon way of life corresponds with the "upward tendency" (accompanied by a horizontal prolongation of Spirit into the world). For our kind, this is the only possible purpose and even justification for human existence, which is to say, transcendence of oneself in the journey back to our Source. One way I know I'm on the right track is if I am slightly or acutely embarrassed about where I was (vertically speaking), say, a year ago -- let alone, 10, or 20, or 30 years ago. I hope I can always say, "what an idiot I was for believing that!"

But if there is no vertical tendency, then there is no possibility of real growth (beyond mere biological development), much less conformity with Cosmic Truth, and thus, no need to ever feel shame or regret.

Here we have struck on one of the great appeals of leftism. Imagine, for example, being Jane Fonda, and being so incapacitated by an absence of shame that one believes the same things at 70 that one believed at 30. Put another way, if a conscious person were Jane Fonda, how would one ever stop cringing at one's past behavior? Easy. By disabling shame. By becoming fixated down and back in developmental spacetime.

Being on the left means never growing, and therefore never having to say one was wrong. In fact, another side benefit of being on the left is that one can never be a hypocrite, since they deny the existence of objective values one can fail to live up to. Thus, no one holds Al Gore or Thomas Freidman to account for consuming more energy than a small city, while hectoring the rest of us to live like cavemen.

Likewise, imagine one day waking up from the awful dream of being, say, Keith Olbermann. The worse the dream, the less likely it is that the person will awaken from it, since the shame would be too overwhelming. Thus, they defend against shame -- for they still have an inchoate awareness of it, and in Keith Olbermann's case, he oozes it -- by building an even stronger fortress against it. To quote the philosopher Butthead, this type of person is always trying to "run away from his bunghole."

Now, most of us have no doubt lived in some version of this dream at one time or another in our lives. But I would guess that all Coons can remember when something in them began to stir them from the dream, since which time their life has been an ongoing process of further waking, or "realization."

This is a good word, since it is real-ization -- which is to say two things. First, conformity with Reality, which automatically creates the tension between lower and higher that makes the "upward tendency" possible. And second, the slow conversion of oneself into something real and solid -- indeed, something eternal, or a self fit for eternity. This results from the metabolism and assimilation of Reality, which is the only thing that leads to real growth. What's the alternative, assimilating falsehood and fantasy?

Looked at in this way, life consists of building a vehicle -- of conceiving, gestating, and giving birth to a "celestial self" or astral body fit for vertical travel. Likewise, to fail to do this is not just to waste one's life, which is tragedy enough. Rather, it is to waste eternity, which is worse than a tragedy. It is plain careless.

It is no surprise that one of the central passions of the left is abortion -- it is an unthinking "way of life" for them, which is to say, a way of death. This is simply a horizontal reflection of the "astral abortion" of the leftist's life. Yes, perhaps this sounds harsh, but I am not saying anything that the leftist does not explicitly believe. From where they stand, they would mock and dismiss the Raccoon point of view as a fantasy at best and probably a pathology. We are wasting our lives on "spiritual fantasies," instead of getting down to the real business of depopulation and income redistribution, i.e., enforced horizontalization of the world.

Again, this is what a horizontal man such as Obama must think, given his admitted horizontality. How could he think otherwise? Like a man living in two-dimensional flatland, he is a rock-solid realist, insofar as he is innocent of any knowledge of the third dimension. He hears of people who speak of cones and spheres, but he knows better, for reality is right there before his eyes, and every leftist knows that perception is reality.

But it is strictly incorrect to say that the leftist simply inhabits the horizontal, "passional" world alluded to by Schuon in the first paragraph. No. This latter world is relatively neutral, but has a naturally upward tendency if left alone, as per the physics of non-linear systems, i.e., chaos and complexity theories. This is why science and the free market lead to such miraculous progress if we simply get out of the way and stop trying to force this or that outcome -- e.g., creating prosperity by forcing banks to give home loans to unqualified people. As Adam Smith noted 230 years ago, the market is an almost magical way to transform man's inevitable passions into something that transcends them, but only if we get out of the way, which the leftist refuses to do, precisely.

This, of course, is why it is such a cosmic hoot to suggest that the left is a great respecter of science, much less, progress. Both the left and right have specific issues with science, issues that are a function of their respective relationships to principial reality. But Yuval Levin points out that the left "has a much more complicated set of problems with science that are explored far more rarely than those of the right":

"Scientific advance, for instance, is the great engine behind capitalism, and is in that respect responsible for much that the left has disliked about the west since the 18th century. Much of what progressives oppose is precisely progress. Science, extended beyond its appropriate bounds, is also the chief contemporary threat to our continued allegiance to the principle of human equality, which has been at the heart of the liberal worldview. Put simply, science seems to demonstrate we are not equal -- this after all is the problem many on the left had with The Bell Curve. Of course, it only seems that way if you take a very peculiar view of what the principle of equality actually is. We are equal not in our natural capacities -- obviously we are not all equally strong, or smart, or tall, or healthy -- but in our standing as human beings in relation to something higher than ourselves. But the left is no longer well equipped to offer that defense of equality, since it requires all manner of premises they have given up."

In short, human beings are equal only in the vertical sense. Obviously, I might add. But if you have jettisoned the entire realm of verticality, then you are reduced to trying to impose horizontal equality, which is simply another word for tyranny. And this is why the left is also so angry. They are perpetually aggrieved -- and basically incapable of true human happiness -- since they have converted the vertical "transcendence drive" into a horizontal "political drive" -- which only ends up pushing them further and further from the goal and purpose of life, which is to say, human reality (which may only be found in the vertical). This results in a kind of nagging existential pain that eats away at the leftist, an itch he can never scratch. Or it is something like "referred pain," in which a lumbar injury causes sciatica in the leg. Leftists are obviously in pain. They remind us of this constantly. They are the Party of Pain. They just have no idea where the pain is coming from.

Which is why leftism is the philosophy of anti-progress. Since it unapologetically sets itself up as the "revolutionary" (which is to say, compulsively reactionary) philosophy of "non-conformity to the Principle," then it is necessarily "centrifugal" in nature, if only because of the Cosmic Law of Gravity, i.e., the Fall.

In other words, from the Raccoon standpoint, you are either with us or with the errorists. Once you become truly committed to that first proudly false step in ontological space, then your cosmic fate is pretty much sealed. You become trapped in the downward, dispersing, or centrifugal principle from which you cannot escape except by waking up -- which involves the acute pain of realizing not only that you have wasted your own life, but that you have spent it doing great harm to others.

No wonder there are so many tenured leftists who have not taken a new cognitive imprint since 1968! The more time that passes, the more intense the pain of waking. One becomes, as Schuon has said, encased under a thick and impenetrable sheet of ice that builds and builds like a glacier, separating one from one's vertical source. Tenure, publications, awards, and academic prizes are piled on, until one sinks beneath the weight.

Tom Sowell describes the problem with his typical lucidity:

"That people on the political left have a certain set of opinions, just as people do in other parts of the ideological spectrum, is not surprising. What is surprising, however, is how often the opinions of those on the left are accompanied by hostility and even hatred.... [F]or many on the left, indignation is not a sometime thing. It is a way of life....

"But how can people work themselves into a lather over the fact that some taxpayers are able to keep more of the money they earned, instead of turning it over to politicians to dispense in ways calculated to get themselves re-elected?...

"Often it is an exercise in futility even to seek to find a principle behind the anger. For example, the left's obsession with the high incomes of corporate executives never seems to extend to equally high -- or higher -- incomes of professional athletes, entertainers, or best-selling authors like Danielle Steel....

"If it is hard to find a principle behind what angers the left, it is not equally hard to find an attitude. Their greatest anger seems to be directed at people and things that thwart or undermine the social vision of the left, the political melodrama starring the left as saviors of the poor, the environment, and other busybody tasks that they have taken on. It seems to be the threat to their egos that they hate. And nothing is more of a threat to their desire to run other people's lives than the free market and its defenders."

Exactly. What can one say except that the chronic anger and hatred of the left is indeed "principled," except, to be exact, it is, as Schuon put it, "in non-conformity to the Principle." Thus the inevitable downward trend of the leftist's passions, including, of course, artistic passion.

Raccoons are hardly dispassionate. But our passion is always upwardly tending toward the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. We passionately love these with all our hearts, minds and souls, always bearing in mind that wisdom is the proper content of knowledge, and beauty the appropriate object of love. Naturally, if everyone were this way -- which is an impossibility, if only because Dupree would be overwhelmed by the number of membership applications -- it would be paradise on earth, would it not?

Monday, May 03, 2010

How the Left Ruins the Cosmos

Man cannot be properly defined in the absence of knowledge of what a human life is for. For Man is not simply a bit of discrete matter with easily proscribed spatial and temporal boundaries.

Rather, a human life is something that can only unfold and express its wholeness -- and therefore its identity -- in time. But our movement in time is not simply arbitrary; or, at least it should not be. Rather, it is guided by a telos, so that there is something that man -- both individually and collectively -- ought to become. As such, it is possible to waste our lives and fail to become human, and it is equally possible -- and looking more likely all the time since November '08 -- for mankind to be an epic fail.

Given the above, it is important to understand that "meaning" -- including the meaning of the past -- is not in the past, but in the future. No one can know what anything means until the whole process plays out. If you stop the process at an arbitrary point and assign it a fixed meaning, you are analogous to Klimate Klown Kult members who tell us that global temperature has increased over x number of years, but neglect to add that it has decreased over y number of years. Same facts, different meaning.

Regarding our cosmic evolutionary future, St. Paul wrote that "the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage to decay into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs until now," just as human beings "groan within ourselves" for our spiritual redemption (Rom 8:21-23).

Human beings are not matter and they are not God. If we were matter, we could not evolve, and if we were God, there would be no need to. But in reducing himself to matter, the radical secularist covertly elevates himself to God, since nothing is higher or lower than anything else -- thus, with a single metaphysical error, the humanist makes a god -- or a giant assoul -- of himself. You will have noticed that this is one of the contradictions at the heart of both scientism and leftism, and which ramifies into countless other errors.

I don't want to get sidetracked into cataloguing all of these contradictions. (In fact, it is unnecessary for me to list all of the contradictions, because I just remembered that a reader gave me a link to them.)

Suffice it to say that the secular left is "the essence of contradiction" and can never be expressed in a metaphysically coherent manner, for it is a strict impossibility. Until the leftist awakens to his own internal contradictions, there is no hope for him -- not even -- or, shall we say, especially -- cognitively, for he is a talking contra-diction and thus "anti-word." He cannot arrive at true Meaning, only dissolve it in the toxic matrix of his omnipotently narcissistic skepticism.

Or, we might say that leftism represents language deployed against itself for that very purpose. Now that I'm thinking of it, it reminds me of Roundup -- you know, the weed killer. It is quite effective if you want to kill a single weed. But I once tried it on some unwanted ivy, which only kills a few leaves, leaving the complex root system intact. Leftism kills the leaves, but thankfully not the roots of the Word. But they never stop applying the Roundup.

We should not automatically exclude the religious from a similar sort of fallacy, in that they often make the opposite error and deny or devalue our materiality (and the material world). But as Schuon points out, the object of human existence "is to be in the middle: it is to transcend matter while being situated there." While "other creatures also participate in life," only man, from his intermediary level, "synthesizes them: he carries all life within himself and thus becomes the spokesman for all life, the vertical axis where life opens onto the spirit and where it becomes spirit. In all terrestrial creatures the cold inertia of matter becomes heat, but in man alone does heat become light."

Another way of saying it is that, just as life is "matter become divine heat," human existence is "life become divine light," so to speak. The reason this is so is that sparks of the divine light permeate matter, but only man is able to mediate the divisions both within the created world and between the created and uncreated worlds. As Nesteruk writes, coming at it from an Orthodox Christian standpoint, "The restoration of animals and matter to union with God will come about through the salvation of man, for it is only humans who can change the order of things in nature through their own perfection, leading ultimately to union with God, to deification" (and again, bear in mind that this includes the "restoration" of the past, so to speak).

Yes, it is a heavy burden to be responsible for the salvation of the cosmos, but there you are. Someone has to do it, but it can only be saved one human at a time, at least until a certain "tipping point" is reached. No one knows the day or the hour of this point, as it could be in 10,000 years or it could be happening right now (being that salvation can only happen now, while you wait). In fact, it is no doubt happening right now, assuming the existence of the eschataon -- the light-filled attractor in Whose penumbra we live.

Of course, it may never be fulfilled with the current idiodition of the human being. Just as we may fail individually to become what we are meant to be, we have to entertain the possibility that we may fail collectively. Otherwise, why do anything? There is a certain type of religious person who says, "what, me worry? The outcome is certain. It's all in God's hands," etc. This is wrong movement, crasshoper, for it is an absence of faith. Faith means that we have hope in such an outcome. Conversely, to have certainty of it is to eclipse the faith that abides in our uniquely intermediate human station.

Now, the "interior order" of the human being mirrors the interior order of the cosmos itself. Here it must be emphasized -- for it is another common error of secular humanists -- that we are not responsible for our own order. In other words, this order cannot be imposed -- which the left always tries to do in a thousand ways -- but can only be discovered through an awakened intelligence. It is given, meaning that it is a gift, or a grace. The reverse is also true: to receive this grace is to find oneself -- or at least to find oneself on the path back to oneself -- one's nonlocal self.

From the individual to the collective. An article entitled The Real Solution to Poverty helps to explain the apparently non-obvious relationship between free-markets and the spiritual evolution that can only be discovered, not imposed -- in other words, the necessary relationship between free market libertarians and spiritual traditionalists. Kling writes that

"The capitalist solution to poverty is unsatisfying to many people, because it is not planned or intended. Policy makers and anti-poverty programs per se are not involved."

But "The phenomenon of unplanned results exceeding planned outcomes is quite widespread. As Nassim Taleb points out in his new book The Black Swan, and in this fascinating interview, human planning tends to work poorly when compared to trial and error. He argues, for example, that many medical discoveries are serendipitous, while systematic efforts such as those of the National Cancer Institute often yield disappointing results.

"In Hayekian terms, we say that order emerges, and often this order has little to do with the intentions of planners.... The intentions of the anti-poverty crusaders are good. However, the results of centrally-planned anti-poverty efforts are small, and perhaps negative (certainly very negative in the case of Communism). Decentralized capitalism, in which no one sets out to broadly reduce poverty, is the best anti-poverty program."

In short, there are rules for evolution, one of which is that there are no rules -- at least those that can be imposed from the top down by intellectually limited and spiritually endarkened human beings. But human beings either never learn this lesson, or else each generation must learn it anew. Hence, Obama.

Some 1500 years ago, St. Athanasius of Alxandria recognized that "if things in the universe were to exercise the power of ordering themselves, we would see 'not order but disorder, not arrangement but anarchy, not a system, but everything out of system, not proportion but disproportion'.... Athanasius uses the existence of life on earth to conclude, in a similar fashion, that there exists a principle of 'arrangement and combination' in the world that is ultimately granted by God" (Nesteruk).

Nesteruk writes that the deep rationality of the universe proceeds "from the Word (Logos) of God, who unites all principles of existence (that is, the logoi of things) in himself in a harmony and order that penetrate into creation and are contemplated as the order and rationality of the universe."

In this regard, two things to bear in mind: 1) as above, so below, and 2) man is the real mirror and potential image of God. For these are the "keys" to being a normal human, which is to say, a realized human (as in "made real" and "really made," which is not a contradiction, but a paradox).

Nesteruk notes that the affirmation of the incarnate logos, "though being in a body locally at a given point in the vastness of cosmic space, is still co-inherent at every point in space because he is in everything as the Word of God," which in turn "provides an implicit principle of order in the universe that ensures that every place in the universe, as a place of the 'presence' of the Word, is co-inherent with the place where God is bodily incarnate, on earth."

So we got that going for us. Now for some of those contradictions intrinsic to the left; the belief

that there were no charities before welfare,

that there was no art before federal funding,

that the AIDS virus is spread by a lack of federal funding,

that taxing the use of gasoline or other energy will reduce the use of gasoline or other energy, but taxing work and investment will not reduce work and investment,

that all generalizations are false,

that there are absolutely no absolutes,

that you can be sure that nothing is certain,

that it's really bad, even evil, to make or pronounce moral judgments,

that all cultures are equal, but ours stinks; that no race, class or gender is superior, but middle class white males are clearly inferior, that no books are superior, except, of course, those by third-world authors,

that it's good to support minority, homosexual and women's rights and to simultaneously make common cause with Islamofacists, who would attack all of them,

that identifying individuals by their uniqueness is "racist," but identifying them only as a member of a race is not

that the independent broadcasters who give us 500+ TV channels can't deliver the quality that PBS does,

that good economies are caused by politicians and not by entrepreneurs,

that businesses create oppression and governments create prosperity,

MORE

Also relevant: Solzhenitsyn, "As Breathing and Consciousness Return," 1973 (via American Digest):

"What is the first step? Simply to discard the lie, and to realize that you have proceeded from a state of false knowledge, to one of true ignorance. The frame of your television is broken; you have no television; the illusion of omniscience vanishes. Eyes you have, and a brain. They are small. The world is large. History is even bigger. So what? You are not first, and not alone."