There's One in Every Cloud
Which I immediately regretted, because I'm not normally like that in mixed company. I live in a liberal state and in a liberal city, and work in a liberal if not completely gay profession. I'm used to stifling my thoughts and maintaining a discrete silence in such a hostile environment, since it is pointless to argue with a liberal. To do so is to not know what a liberal is. Liberalism can only be "awakened from," not argued out of.
Yes, on the blog I often have the needle out, but that's because it is addressed to like-minded people, so it's all in fun. I am not here to argue but to help, and I am not presumptuous enough to imagine that I could help you, of all people. If the blog doesn't benefit you, then there are no hard feelings. You may go your way and zen no more. But many people are attracted to what they hate, thus the trolls. If you search your past, perhaps you may have once been like this yourself -- looking for conflict as a way to externalize your own absence of tranquility.
I know I was. I used to enjoy the bracing sensation of verbal aggression along my keel. In this regard, it is important to examine the feelings one is experiencing amidst aggression, whether it is verbal or physical. You may notice a primitive sensation that is pleasurable even though it is being destructive. Our trolls generally drip this from every pore. Which is why I counsel readers to respond to them with good humor and to always leave a quip, otherwise there is the danger of being enlisted into their angry little drama.
Now, back to our transconscious journey through the hidden arteries of the cosmos to look for the meaning and purpose of free will, which otherwise hangs suspended from our official scientific paradigm like a loose shirttail with no footprints in the air.
Either human freedom is significant, or it is not significant. But if it is not significant, then it is difficult to account for how only the existence of freedom makes possible something as manifestly significant as science.
And how can one promulgate a Science that is unable to justify the necessary conditions for its own practice, i.e., minds that are free to discover truth? If you don't see that freedom and truth are necessary conditions of each other, then you just don't see, period. You are metaphysically blind. I'd say get lost, but you already are. So get found!
Actually, we prefer to employ the word liberty, since mere freedom is neither here nor there. Animals are free of constraint, but so what? We do not advocate a radical bewilderness oddventure in which every spud is free to live in his own private Idaho. Just as knowledge can only exist in a universe of unconditional truth, liberty must be oriented around the Good. Otherwise we merely have the tyrannical freedom discussed by bedwetting existentialists such as Sartre, i.e., a freedom indistinguishable from nothingness.
The whole purpose of traditional metaphysics is to show us what must necessarily be concretely true, despite appearances -- not only what is true in this particular cosmos, but in any hypothetical cosmic maninfestation. Traditional metaphysics deals with the very conditions of existence. Period.
On a deeper level, religion discloses this objective metaphysics through its symbolic forms. The fact that scripture does this in such a way that it transcends whatever its writers thought they were writing about, leads to the conclusion that it is at the very least "inspired," but "revealed" is probably more like it.
Interestingly, Dennis Prager was discussing this the other day, in his "ultimate issues" hour. For the remainder of 2011, he plans to use this hour to explain why the Bible is the wisest book ever written, irrespective of whether one is religious or atheist. Rather, he is going to discuss the book on its own merits, and subject it to the same critique one would any other work of philosophy. (In this regard, his approach is similar to Kass's The Beginning of Wisdom.)
But as we were saying yesterday, if you think about the barbarity of the Hebrew tribes that were handed the Jewish revelation, you know that it couldn't have sprung from the unaided mind of man as such. At best, they could have come up with transparently childlike and speculative myths and fairy tales, not any kind of transcendent wisdom that would fruitfully attract and occupy the sharpest human minds for the subsequent three or four thousand years.
It is difficult to imagine any of the new rabble of atheistic sods expressing a single thought that won't be forgotten just as soon as they're safely beneath the sod, let alone pored over thousands of years from now. In a way, these flatulent earthbounders are just the inevitable shadow given off by the light, parasightless Nietzschean leeches on the inner reaches of primordial speechings and celestial teachings.
Let's look at it -- or listen to it -- this way. Think of the thousands of musical sophisticates who have obtained Ph.D.s in music in the past half century. How many of them have written a single note of music that will be remurmured by thousands of lips hence?
Flatlanders do not see the secret because it is not at the bottom of the cosmos, where they are constrained to live, but at the top. And one cannot disclose its existence by pulverizing matter into smaller and smaller bits with bigger and bigger hammers.
Since existence is a hierarchical manifestation from above, it is as if each level is "stamped" by the level immediately above. As such, there is inevitably some information that is "lost" with each successive level. Thus, the higher can disclose the lower, but the lower can only partially disclose the higher. As we have said, life isn't the secret of DNA; rather, DNA is the secret of life. And sow on and sow on, if you seed what we meme. That's the harvest part.
Do letters cause words, or vice versa? Do words cause sentences? Don't be an idiot. Yes, letters are more "fundamental" than words, in the same way that physics is more fundamental than biology. But to employ Ken Wilber's nomenclature, fundamental does not mean significant. Significance is at the top, not the bottom; or, to be precise, significance is located along the vertical spectrum.
This is why, no matter what you say about the Creator, it is both too much and never enough, because it can't possibly "contain" him without distorting him. Human language can contain what is lower than language, but never what is higher. It can only symbolize or indicate the higher -- which, I might add, is completely adequate for the spiritually normal.
That is to say, the higher dimensions may be spoken of in a poetic, symbolic, elliptical, or suggestive manner, through which the symbol implicitly resonates with much more than we could explicitly say.
I suppose it's somewhat analogous to opera. In opera, the story line is usually rather lame and skeletal. It only hints at the real action, which is taking place on a purely musical level. If the libretto were less lame -- i.e., more saturated and detailed -- this would obscure the much deeper level of transverbal meaning which the music is disclosing.
This, of course, is why Jesus speaks in parables. For one thing, being who he is, he cannot speak in any other way (since his being vastly transcends the human container, which includes language). But even on a purely talktical level, this is the only way to ensure that his words will have a timeless and transcultural relevance. He only says enough so that you may participate in the transcendent reality he is talking about. Say too much, and the listener is stuck in religio-scientific fundamentalist flatland. Say too little and he is alone in a cloud, fruitlessly deepakin' the chopra.