Friday, September 23, 2011

Why Give an Enema to a Dead Atheist?

My favorite chapter so far in Yoga and the Jesus Prayer is on Symeon the New Theologian, who seems to be far better known in the east than by Catholics and Protestants.

Although Symeon lived around the time of Y1K, his theology still strikes me as new and improved. He is responsible for drawing the critical distinction between God's essence and energies, only the latter of which are communicated to, and accessible by, human beings.

And when you think about it, this is no different than it is for any other "person," for no matter how close one is to another, one can never directly know their essence, only its appearance and effects.

Naturally we don't think about this when it is occurring, but meaningful speech, for example, involves the transformation of one's essence into air vibrations projected from the respiratory system, causing resonance in some tiny bones located in two holes in another person's head, in the hope that the vibrations will be reassembled into a facsimile of the original "thought," and all it implies.

It's rather remarkable that it works at all, although we generally treat it as exceptional when someone doesn't understand. That our trolls do not understand us is clear enough. But why should they? My energies are reassembled in their heads into something that doesn't resemble the original experience -- O -- with which they proceed to "disagree," and even "attack." I'm not sure how this differs from masturbation.

Importantly, even when successful communication occurs, it doesn't mean that there has been any "mixture" of essences. Thus, as it pertains to God, or O, Symeon provides a model in which there is "a true participation in the divine nature, yet without mixture or union of essences" (Matus). You are still you and God is still God, and yet, there is an intimate communion. Indeed, communion is only possible in a context of difference: two is only possible because of One.

Having said that, it is also true that divine knowledge couldn't be communicated at all in the absence of something inside us that "awaits" and is conformed to it, so to speak. To use a horizontal analogy, the infant is born "awaiting" the breast; there exists a preconception of its later fulfillment by experience. The same is true of any archetype. We are not "blank slates," but come into the world ready to learn, but not just anything.

I might add that one of the insurmountable problems of leftism is that it not only denies our archetypal nature, but tries to superimpose a psychic scaffolding of its own pseudo-archetypes and "values."

Nowhere was this more obvious than in the French Revolution, but now they try to do the same thing in slightly less clumsy ways. In France they abolished the old holy-days and created new ones. They also invented a new calendar that began in 1789, consciously suggesting that nothing prior to that was of any value, but unconsciously equating the Incarnation and the Revolution: man is now God, rather than vice versa.

Regarding our "pre-knowledge" of God, Schuon says that it is analogous to "a divine seed in the heart," with the result that our thoughts are "only very faint glimmers from it." These preconceptual seeds are "an imprint of the divine Light on human darkness," which is why we may "understand" revelation and scripture, precisely.

In the absence of the divine seed, theology -- and the experiences it is anchored in -- would be just as absurd as cognitively crippled atheists make it out to be.

Which is why, in the words of Schuon, "To prove the Absolute is, according to the intellectual conditions of the environment, either the easiest or the most difficult of things."

To be sure, not all atheists are clinically autistic, for there is usually a transparent element of "willfulness" rooted in ambivalence toward someone from the past (i.e., an internal object), and which causes them to narcissistically overvalue the ephemeral cognitive flatulence of a monkey brain that can have no value whatsoever in the absence of the absolute they deny up front. This is why talking to them is so often like trying to put a round peg into an assoul.

Remember what was said above about the transformation of experience to thought, to sound vibrations, and eventually back to thought and experience. Schuon writes that certain men of a "rationalizing disposition are ever haunted by thoughts" (emphasis mine).

Such a person is naturally plagued and even defined by doubt, since there is no thought that cannot be contradicted by another. Thus, these cynics do not perceive "the realities of which [traditional ] doctrines treat" and end up objectivizing "their own limitations," at which point they are granted tenure. And then they accuse us of worshipping a god we have created!

But in reality, "a metaphysical doctrine is the incarnation in the mind of a universal truth." Right? If that weren't the case, then there would be no way to prove anything. Which is why, prior to actualizing this or that seed, a kind of cultivation of the soil is necessary; one must "awaken the intellectual faculty in oneself," and not just superimpose a man-made formulation upon realities that are not explained by, but rather, explain, reason itself.

Note also what becomes of those seeds that are planted only by man. If we are lucky, they come to nothing, or we can pull their shoots from our garden before they take over. These are no more "natural" than some unwanted plant that takes over a field that has been over-cultivated. Soon the field is filled with weeds that are not indigenous to the soil.

This is what the leftist educational establishment does to the fertile souls of innocent children, and it is a perfectly wicked thing to do. It is no wonder they embrace the enfeebled philosophies they do, for their only hope is that God is not just. (Today's example.)

Back to St. Symeon. What makes him so provocative is that he is not dealing in concepts but in experience. While he naturally must deploy symbols to convey the experience, one must transform the symbols back to experience, not just thought per se. This is what makes him the "new theologian," since the "old theologian" deals in concepts but not the experience beneath them. Thus, there are plenty of old theologians walking around. Probably most theologians are of that type, at least as far as I can tell.

Schuon said another helpful thing regarding this problem. That is, "to live in thoughts is continually to replace one set of concepts by another." As a result, these concepts "are worn threadbare without any possibility of their being replaced, on this level, by something better."

This is another way of saying that they become saturated without ever even "fulfilling" us. It is like filling up on some space-filling but nutritionally empty food.

Conversely, the experiential and trans-conceptual food of divine revelation is both nutritious and filling, but not only that. It is also generative, radiant, and compellingly alive. But how could one ever transmit this "aliveness" via sound vibrations, especially if the soul on the other end is more or less "dead" by cluelesside?

Reminds me of the only joke my Jewish bubby-in-law, Hannah, ever told. It had to do with an argument over giving an enema to a dead man. I just remember the punchline: "It can't hurt."

53 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

They also invented a new calendar that began in 1789, consciously suggesting that nothing prior to that was of any value, but unconsciously equating the Incarnation and the Revolution: man is now God, rather than vice versa.

Speaking of which, it always struck me as a particularly silly convention for today's scientists to have replaced "B.C." and "A.D." with "B.C.E." and "C.E."

Had they come up with a particular event - say, the founding of the USA - and changed the dates to reflect that, it might be understandable. But the pivotal moment between the "Before" and "After" is still precisely the same: Christ.

It is passing strange to use a specific event as a reference for something so important, while studiously attempting to deny that the event in question is of any particular note.

9/23/2011 09:06:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Good point, Julie.
Reminds of something Gill Bailie once said about how it is not possible to live outside the influence of the Gospels. Too late. What's done is done.
The Good news!

9/23/2011 09:35:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Bob said,
"It is no wonder they embrace the enfeebled philosophies they do, for their only hope is that God is not just."

As Eli of the Book said:

"You are going to be held to account for the things you have done. Don't you know that?"

WARNING: Gets quite violent after that. But I do like what stops Eli in his traxe at the end.
This whole post reminds me of that movie, speaking of experience and vibrations. What he "recognizes" in the girl..

9/23/2011 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

...their only hope is that God is not just.

Yep. For many, it seems not simply a hope, but a demand. Like children who, having been told "no" by a parent, push the boundary even further with a smile and the question, usually implied but sometimes spoken, "What are you gonna do about it?"

They expect no consequences, and infinite indulgence. What they don't understand is that infinite indulgence such as they imagine is a consequence...

9/23/2011 09:44:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

True.
Another mix-up is this "fear of God concept". Speaking of. At least in my case.
I say it not as a warning that one should believe in God out of fear or "to be on the safe side", as if it just makes sense to behave this way because after all, we don't really know. That's not real belief.

But to me it is reversed. I don't believe because I fear. I fear because I can't not believe.
Speaking of consequences. I believed first. And fear does not mean here what I thought it did.

9/23/2011 10:13:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

We are not "blank slates," but come into the world ready to learn, but not just anything.

Yes, I think, too, some day science will discover that DNA works the same way. There is are things that the basic genetic material is "ready to be" but not just anything.

9/23/2011 10:59:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

And fear does not mean here what I thought it did.

Well said.

9/23/2011 11:13:00 AM  
Blogger Open Trench said...

Before the invention of the stethoscope and the EKG, people were sometimes pronounced dead before the fact, leading occasionally to someone being buried alive.

One odd way of determining death was to give a tobacco enema. Apparently no living person, however moribund, could withstand it. To remain immobile in the face of this formidable influx was proof of demise.

Some of the recipients were undoubtedly atheists, so your question is now answered.

9/23/2011 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

That actually makes more consistent sense, because it would mean that Grandma Hannah actually told no jokes, instead of the one. Now I feel bad about laughing....

9/23/2011 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger John Lien said...

"Schuon writes that certain men of a "rationalizing disposition are ever haunted by thoughts" (emphasis mine).

Such a person is naturally plagued and even defined by doubt, since there is no thought that cannot be contradicted by another."

Well, I have some of that going on. I'm always testing the "model" against experience and new data. Like last night when Van linked to the article that moral decisions were affected by magnetic fields.
I had to work that into the model.

Is it just me who thinks that so much of neuroscience research is a direct attack on the belief of the existence of the soul?

9/23/2011 01:04:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Neuroscience is trying to find the "mind" inside the brain, that much is true. It wants to know what gives rise to consciousness. How many synapses do you need in what configuration in order to become self-aware or whatever they want to call it.

Mind is like the Scarecrow, if he only had a brain.

9/23/2011 01:23:00 PM  
Blogger John Lien said...

Well, maybe it is the results that get popular press coverage. I smell an agenda..

9/23/2011 03:00:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

As do I. For instance, I'd like to see a complete list of the questions asked. The two examples given didn't so much prove a diminution of morality as it suggested some degree of disinhibition, or perhaps an inability to separate real vs. potential consequences. If they had posited some scenario involving cold-blooded murder or theft and people had responded that they thought it was alright, that would be more of a thing.

Additionally, I don't think it's news to anyone - at least, it shouldn't be - that certain types of brain injury can have dramatic effects on behavior. Seems to me like buzzing someone's brain with a powerfully-focused magnet for twenty minutes to "disrupt" a specific area possibly qualifies as questionable moral behavior. Did they try it on themselves first?

9/23/2011 03:13:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Mushroom, I doubt they'll ever find an answer. Every once in a while, some apparently normal person comes along who turns out to have hardly anything but cranial fluid up there, and the only reason anyone knew differently is the person was having headaches or something and needed an MRI. Even if there's only one instance of such a thing happening, it must necessarily alter the way any honest scientist views the mystery of consciousness.

9/23/2011 03:19:00 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Move along Julie, nothing to see here. He's French, and works for the government. No neural activity needed for either.
Heck, he could move over here and go to work for the EPA and very well be a super star.

9/23/2011 04:56:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Good point. Actually, that might explain a lot about the people already in charge...

9/23/2011 04:59:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Awful. Remind me again which one is the culture of death?

9/23/2011 05:13:00 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Julie:
Margaret Higgins Sanger would be pleased, having missing limbs is almost as bad as being one of those dark skinned babies.

Yuck

9/23/2011 06:12:00 PM  
Blogger John Lien said...

Fifty years from now that boy is going to walk up to his aged parents on his bionic legs as they sit, trapped in their wheelchairs, feeble, dependent on care. He will look them in the eyes, reach towards one of them with his bionic hand and...

Well, I'm not sure how that story will end.

9/23/2011 07:46:00 PM  
Blogger John Lien said...

Speaking of neuroscience. My mind has just been blown!

Computer generated movies made from scanned neural activity. WOW!

9/23/2011 08:03:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

heh - I think Bob's new profile pic sums up the reaction quite nicely. Though I can't say I'm surprised; I remember a couple of years ago scientists were able to cobble together a few pixels. In a few more years, I wouldn't be at all surprised if someone figures out how to not only read but transmit neurological data.

Neo was mentioning something along those lines last week as well...

9/23/2011 08:23:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Can the tenured tell when a lecturer is just making shit up?

Unsurprisingly, No.

9/23/2011 09:47:00 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

Julie @ 9:06am --

Good point. It might be something God laughs at from heaven. Maybe even an "As if..."

Psalm 2:4a
The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
the Lord scoffs at them.

9/23/2011 09:53:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"Schuon writes that certain men of a "rationalizing disposition are ever haunted by thoughts" (emphasis mine).

Such a person is naturally plagued and even defined by doubt, since there is no thought that cannot be contradicted by another. "

Yep. Which brings to mind the prize creation of the father of modern philosophy', Descartes' The Method of Doubt.

Note he did not mean The Method of Questioning, which is a positive process and leads to knowledge; but Doubt, which is an inherently corosive process, and tears knowledge down. If you make the mistake of letting your doubts off the very short leash of "WTF?!", they will literally eat you alive. Let doubt rule your mind, and your self confidence will be eaten alive, leaving only a ghost to haunt what was once your mind.

9/23/2011 10:29:00 PM  
Blogger John Lien said...

Just listened to a long radio segment on how belief in the supernatural is just natural selection.

Those hominids who attributed danger to the rustle in the grass rather than ignoring it did not get eaten.

There was little cost associated with a false alarm.

This "finding meaning" in every little thing gave rise to animistic beliefs and then religion.

The author explained this is also why we see meaning and patterns in random events.

So there you go, metaphysics is nonsense. You are a paranoid monkey. (The guy was so sure of himself.)

9/23/2011 10:42:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew Casey Smallwood said...

Actually, Gaghdad, I didn't fully understand the essence/energy distinction until I read this post. Of course! The light bulb comes on - it's because of the strong Eastern doctrine of knowledge (knowledge implying metaphysical union - you can't know something at a profound level without union). Hence, we have to know God's energies only. I wonder? Does this mean that (in the future) they may develop this doctrine to allow for knowledge of His essence, but only in a formal way? Not by the nous?

9/24/2011 07:59:00 AM  
Blogger Gabe Ruth said...

"which causes them to narcissistically overvalue the ephemeral cognitive flatulence of a monkey brain that can have no value whatsoever in the absence of the absolute they deny up front."

This immediately brought the Less Wrong/Overcoming Bias crowd to mind. They are undeniably smart guys and on technical subjects and reasoning they are great, but the level of self deception they have a achieved is breathe taking. You would think people so bent on navel gazing would be more self aware.

9/24/2011 08:06:00 AM  
Blogger Gabe Ruth said...

Regarding the agenda that is portrayed by every "discovery" using fMRI or field manipulation, it always amazes me how incomplete the news reports are, and how difficult it is to dig deeper. I think this shows the goal is less to inform than to plant doubt. This study was no different. It sounds like they used the same people and did before and after with the same odd scenarios, and the number of subjects also seemed sort of small. Dr. Charlton is very good when writing about the decline of science in agenda driven time serving and rent seeking.

9/24/2011 08:27:00 AM  
Blogger William said...

The more scholarly detail you study about Christianity, the sources of the bible, and the historical Jesus ... the more implausible it becomes.

The doctrines of Christianity come mostly from the teaching or influence of Paul, and Greek convert, John.

Paul never met Jesus, and his relationship with with Jesus' immediate disciples was superficial at best. In reality, Paul simply wasn't in a position to know much about what Jesus might have taught, he never heard jesus preach. Paul rarely referenced any of Jesus' teachings and instead, gives his own teaching about the Torah.

This guy - nearly single handedly - started a religious sect. Kind of like Joseph Smith, Jim Jones, and many many others.

People take comfort in numbers, traditions and what everyone else thinks...

9/24/2011 02:22:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

willian, if you're going to plagiarize, at least steal the entire quote, you kind of suck at trying to summarize other people's ideas.

9/24/2011 03:29:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Go easy. He's just taking comfort in numbers, traditions and what everyone else thinks.

9/24/2011 03:40:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Righteous smackdown: Tenured Ignorance.

9/24/2011 03:46:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

(speaking of empty-headed liberals who take comfort in numbers, traditions and what everyone else thinks)

9/24/2011 03:47:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Heh - indeed...

9/24/2011 03:48:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

My energies are reassembled in their heads into something that doesn't resemble the original experience -- O -- with which they proceed to "disagree," and even "attack." I'm not sure how this differs from masturbation.

Ah, once again William gives us a demonstration. Unfortunately, it's just about as appealing as an unexpected display of self-loving, too...

9/24/2011 03:57:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

I had a couple words to say as well. Starts off in full rant mode, then cools off to stunned amazement as I added some replies to defenders of it.

Elizabeth Warren: The indecent exposure of a ravenous D.O.B.

I also included Adam's (Adam Sharp of SharpElbows.net) video of her, and the touch he added at the end... worth watching.

Some relatives (by marriage, thank goodness) are singing her praises on their pages. Being the black sheep of the Boston based family, I had to ask them "Hmmm... anyone curious how 'the rest of us' would have built those roads without factories and other businesses first being built for 'the rest of us' to work at? I suppose you're free to find out."

No reply yet.

9/24/2011 04:01:00 PM  
Blogger William said...

I read the smack down of Warren and academia.

It is a fine job but hard to get. You need the doctorate and the ability to rise above sometimes 200+ applicants.

I've paid some dues to get here. Great socialized medicine, a 14 hr work week, 5+ months off. Our GOP governor and GOP state assembly just gave all professors a 3% raise and a $1000 bonus. I'm happy ... I just drove home in my new 2012 Elantra.

I can understand the jealousy, but try to rise above it.

I'm doing well enough to buy a nice car in cash, but nothing like the fat cat corporate CEOs that depend on you conservative tools to keep shilling for their tax loopholes and tax breaks ... so they can continue to be the only segment of America that is seeing income growth. Keep feeding their greed at your own expense. If you think they're going to create jobs for you, you haven't learned from recent history.

9/24/2011 05:44:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Host Loves Parasites. Now that would be news.

9/24/2011 05:50:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

willian said "If you think they're going to create jobs for you, you haven't learned..."

Leave it to a greedy leftie to think that it's about either jobs or money. It consumes you doesn't it? But then, I guess you are what you eat.

9/24/2011 06:36:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

In the real world, if you mock your employer, you get fired. No wonder they're at war with it.

9/24/2011 06:49:00 PM  
Blogger Gabe Ruth said...

Seeing him in action for the first time, I'm a little disappointed that I was compared to William the first time I commented here. Have none of you ever experienced a good faith disagreement with some one?

9/24/2011 07:39:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Gabe - we have, but sadly it is a very rare phenomenon. In your case, respectfully, it seemed as though you were disagreeing not with the actual substance of what was said, but with a misinterpretation. That was the similarity to which I referred; Will E. and the usual host of trolls have never even understood the posts, much less come up with fodder for a worthwhile discussion.

9/24/2011 07:56:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew Casey Smallwood said...

Thanks for pointing out the E.Warren comment, hadn't heard.

Still recommending "Red Toryism" as the antidote:
http://www.respublica.org.uk/category/red%20tory

But I agree they are narcissists.

9/24/2011 08:41:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Gabe, you haven't seen him in action yet, he's just copy & pasting what others have said today.

Maybe the sprained sphincter hasn't healed yet.

I can usually tell when his words aren't his own... because they're intelligible. You'll get a clearer picture when he begins typing his own 'thoughts'.

9/24/2011 08:59:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

William is bragging getting a new Hyundai? That is just so sad.

I probably shouldn't tell him about the Enterprise.

9/25/2011 07:21:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

I know, right? I'm kind of embarrassed for him on that one...

9/25/2011 07:38:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Two words: Babe. Magnet.

9/25/2011 07:59:00 PM  
Blogger William said...

Babe magnet? Not.

40+ mpg and 120,000/10 yr bumper to bumper warranty....
That's just practical.

9/26/2011 02:12:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Topper.

9/26/2011 02:17:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

This is good news. Until today, I didn't think William could laugh at himself.

Pardon me? He's not laughing?

9/26/2011 02:24:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

No, but I am. I glanced at his link; criminy, I think he really thinks we should care. Isn't that kind of like whipping out all three inches and bragging about how it's not the size, it's the skillz?

9/26/2011 02:33:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Please don't give him any ideas. I'm still recovering from the sphincter and intestinal updates.

9/26/2011 03:05:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Ugh. Good point.

9/26/2011 03:16:00 PM  

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