Christian Yoga and How to Keep Your Camel Happy
At this point, my original impetus is so far back in my seerview mirror -- plus I ventured into so many provocative snidetrips -- that I've lost the plot. So, just read the book! I really enjoyed it, and it obviously provided much thought for food. (My site meter informs me that Spengler will be reviewing it in the upcoming issue of First Things. Looking forward to his take.)
In the process of thinking about this millennium business -- and how to defend against it -- I was directed by Petey to an obscure book I had read many years ago, but didn't get much out of at the time. It has the provocative title, Yoga and the Jesus Prayer. Originally published in back in 1984, it seems that it has been republished by a company called -- no surprise -- O Books.
Hmm. I wonder what else they've published? Ah, here.
First of all, why "O"? "O is a symbol of the world, of oneness and unity; this eye represents knowledge and insight." O, I get it!
Here are some of their titles: Reality Transurfing. Shapeshifting into Higher Consciousness. How to Cheer Up a Capricorn. 7 Aha's of Highly Enlightened Souls. 101 Helpful Illusions. The Bible in Limerick Verse. The Boring Bible Series. Christianity in 10 Minutes.
And of course, the all time classic, A Clean Camel is a Happy Camel.
Now, why did I think this book might have something to do with the millennium? Well, because Judaism, Christianity, and certain types of yoga maintain the correct balance, or complementarity, between the millennium, or eschaton, and the now. All millennial movements (i.e., the bad ones described by Landes) essentially try to -- in Voegelin's famous formulation -- immanetize the eschaton:
"In political theory and theology, to immanentize the eschaton means trying to bring about the eschaton (the final, heaven-like stage of history) in the immanent world. It has been used by conservative critics, foremost William F. Buckley, as a pejorative reference to certain utopian projects, such as socialism, communism and transhumanism. In all these contexts it means "trying to make that which belongs to the afterlife happen here and now (on Earth)" or "trying to create heaven here on Earth."
Here is a typical example plucked at random, spouted a few years ago by some obscure community agitator:
"I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment -- this was the time -- when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals."
Despite the patent absurdity of such an impossibility, this type of thinking never goes out of fascism. You might think that modern Americans -- cynical journalists, jaded baby boomers who learned not to trust authority, people with advanced degrees from our finest educational institutions -- are too sophisticated to fall for such nonsense, but you ignore it at your peril.
Mark my words: some day, an obscure messianic figure will emerge as if from "nowhere" and seduce the left in just this manner, with catastrophic consequences to our economy, our national security, and our very future.
So anyway, I'm rereading Yoga and the Jesus Prayer, and this time I'm getting something out of it. What most surprises me is how closely it conforms to another obscure book called One Cosmos under God: The Unification of Matter, Life, Mind and Spirit, which is in many ways an attempt to cast yoga in Christian terms, except without saying so, i.e., keeping it all unsaturated through the use of empty but "pre-structured" categories awaiting fulfillment or realization.
Matus provides the key to our whole innerprize on p. 1, describing tantric yoga as a spiritual approach affirming "that matter and the body and the senses have deep spiritual value and can be seen as a providential means of spiritual transformation."
Tantric yoga "takes humanity as it is: incarnate, worldly, and temporal. It offers a goal which is not liberation from the human condition but the realization of freedom in time, the world, and the flesh" (you might say that "the Truth will set you free").
In this abstract definition, Both Judaism and Christianity would indeed be forms of "tantric yoga," since the emphasis is on transformation in this world, not escape (or ascent) into a higher one. The latter idea is especially foreign to Judaism, hence its focus on the joys of family, on sensual pleasure, and on the glory of wisdom.
But the same principle obviously defines Christianity (properly understood), since its irreducible essence is Trinity and Incarnation, or relationship and embodiment. It is ultimately a transcendence-in-immanence, and therefore an immanence-in-transcendence. For example, as Matus describes it,
"All experience points beyond the dichotomies of self and other, of subject and object, because it really unites the knower to the known and to the universe which encompasses them both."
Furthermore, "Faith is a way of knowing which points beyond the world, because it is real, personal contact with the Creator." It is a "kind of experience" whereby we become aware of the infusion of "a grace which transforms the believer's mind, heart, and senses" thus revealing "the personal presence of the living God."
So any act of knowing, which seems to result from a prior division of the world in two -- subject and object -- is in reality the revelation of One; or actually, one-in-three, i.e., knower-known-knowledge (just as love is always lover-beloved-and the exchange of love in between).
In the One Cosmos book, the author uses the symbol (↓) as an empty placeholder for experience of the grace. Thus, the word "grace" literally means nothing until it is experienced, i.e., until (↓) accumulates experiential content.
The grace is "pure," at least until it comes into contact with human beastlings, which the author symbolizes (•). As described by Matus, in "Christian experience, the consciousness of the believer's transformation by grace needs to be constantly purified. This process of purification involves the dialectic of alternating states, of ups and downs," of "presence" followed by "absence" and back again.
Hello again, Noumenon!
Matus is in full communion with Raccoon principles in noting that a symbol, as we understand it (i.e., as an empty pneumaticon), "reflects and anticipates the process of growth toward final perfection, both individual and collective."
It also reflects "the intrinsic bipolarity of human nature and the challenge of our existence, between conceptual and non-conceptual knowing, between our being-in-the-world and our ontological tension toward God." Note that this necessary tension is precisely what millennial movements deny.
Now, there isn't actually just the One-way movement of (↓). Rather, there is always, or should be, a circular, or spiraling, movement of (↓↑). Thus, in tantrism the point is "to pass from the gross to the subtle, but then to permeate the gross with the value and meaning of the subtle" (Matus, emphasis mine).
And with that, I'd better stop for now. Long day of work ahead. My camel is filthy.