Unleash Your Inner Victim for Wealth and Power!
This is what our Unknown Friend is referring to on p. 43, where he writes that "Gnosis without mystical experience is sterility itself. It is just a religious ghost, without life or movement. It is the corpse of religion, animated intellectually by means of scraps fallen from the table of the past history of humanity."
So much contemporary theology is characterized by this problem, that it's easy to see why people reject it. It's not that they want to be irreligious. It just doesn't speak to them, because it is dead.
UF writes that a mysticism that fails to give birth to gnosis "must, sooner or later, necessarily degenerate into 'spiritual enjoyment' or 'intoxication.' The mystic who wants only the experience of mystical states without understanding them, without drawing practical conclusions from them for life, and without wanting to be useful to others, who forgets everyone and everything in order to enjoy the mystical experience, can be compared to a spiritual drunkard."
So many spiritual drunkards! This pretty much summarizes the New Age movement, which is so devoid of sobriety, like the incoherent ranting of Deepak Chopra. Example:
"If Occupy America can channel its anger into awareness, the next step is to ask, 'What is our goal?' When I was down among the demonstrators, I led a meditation on that question, and it seemed to calm down the people around me, which demonstrates, I think, that the whole Occupy movement is about angry idealists, not just people who feel screwed by Wall St., although that is the spark and the point of injustice that somehow must be faced."
So, these angry people need to become self-aware enough to ask themselves what the fuck they're accomplishing by running around half-naked and defecating in public. True, most of us resolve this by age two or three, but some children are a little slow.
Like all liberals, there is one thing Deepak knows: that nothing will change until you embrace and celebrate your inner victim. "Eventually, all change starts there, by ignoring the odds and the threat of punishment, by standing up and saying 'I accuse you of injustice.'" Yes, all personal growth begins with an unwavering commitment to the ideal that It's all someone else's fault!
UF makes the important point that true contemplation picks up where discursive reason leaves off. "Discursive thought is satisfied when it arrives at a well-founded conclusion. Now, this conclusion is the point of departure for contemplation. It fathoms the profundity of this conclusion at which discursive thought arrives."
Obviously, the contemplation of depth is not explained by the object of contemplation. Truly, it is the miraculous vertical rabbit hole that leads us in and up: "contemplation discovers a world within that which discursive thought simply verifies as 'true.'"
Please note that what UF is saying doesn't only apply to the world of scientific truth, but to religious truth as well.
Again, there are spiritual books that are deep, and many more that are shallow. Both disclose "truth," but what a difference! It's like a great artist and a Sunday painter drawing the same landscape. Who knows, the latter might even be more technically "accurate," so what explains the depth of the former? Here again, it is that sense of mystical touch, which the gifted artist is then able to convey on canvas.
There is something much deeper than the simple binary question, "is it true or false?" Think of a great novel. Was it true or false? Did the events really happen as described?
What foolish questions! As UF writes, contemplation "perceives more the significance of the truth discovered by discursive thought," and then tries to trace this depth back to its ultimate source. How does one do this? "By listening in silence. It is as if one wanted to recall something forgotten."
It is analogous to the "tip of the tongue" phenomenon, in which you know it's there, but have to relax into it -- perhaps even forget in order to remember. Or, perhaps it's like the distant stars which disappear when you stare directly at them, but reappear in your peripheral vision. There is an infinite amount of light that will elude you if you attempt to stare it down with scientism!
No, this is the realm of vertical recollection, or what Plato called anamnesis. As UF points out, horizontal memory renders the past present, while vertical memory "renders that which is above as present below."
This is perhaps the key to understanding scripture, which, if reduced to mere horizontality, becomes functionally useless. No, that's an exaggeration. The point is, it will still operate vertically, even if you imagine that it is horizontal. It can still work its magic, but if you insist too much on the horizontality, it can diminish the verticality.
As the mystical sense is analogous to spiritual touch, the gnostic sense is analogous to hearing. Obviously, it is this that Jesus is attempting to highlight when he speaks of having ears but being unable to hear, for true hearing takes place on the level of vertical depth. This kind of deep hearing can only take place in an environment of expectant silence or passive openness, i.e., (---) and (o).
You will notice that we listen to a great artist in a different way than we do to the typical hack. One of the reasons for this is that the true artist has earned our respect, as we know from experience that there will be an added dimension of depth to his work if only we give it sufficient time. There are no hidden depths in the mediocre artist.
UF goes into a little riff on the nature of art, which he compares to the magical sense of projection: "The talent of the artist consists in this: that he can render objective -- or project -- his ideas and feelings so as to obtain a more profound effect on others than that of the expression of ideas and feelings by a person who is not an artist. A work of art is endowed with a life of its own," very similar to the process of birth itself.
UF concludes the chapter by noting that scientistic materialism can only be "true" if we exclude all of the other planes that make the horizontal plane of natural facts possible, and isolate the realm of quantitative facts from the rest of reality.
At the polar opposite of this is the Hermetic-philosophical sense, or the "sense of synthesis," which is capable of a vision of the whole: "The scientific sense... summarizes the facts of experience on a single plane, in the horizontal. Hermeticism is not a science and will never be one. It can certainly make use of sciences and their results, but by doing so it does not become a science."
Or, one could say that profane science is the study of the relative, which is change itself. But Hermeticism is essentially the science of the changeless, which is to say, metaphysics. Metaphysics is the science of the permanent, of those things that cannot not be, for example, the Absolute, and by extension, the Infinite. Or, of Beyond-Being, and its child, Being.
Again, science can verify truth on a single plane, while the gnostic sense investigates the depth of said truth. Thus, any philosophy of naturalism can only appear to be true to the extent that one fails to ponder its depth and significance.
The moment you engage in the latter, you have disproved it, for you have revealed a vertical depth of truth and being for which naturalism can never account. You have left materialism behind. For to listen in expectant silence in the vertical space is to be "instructed by God."
It is the very opposite of the infantile approach advocated by Deepak, in that it is necessary for Truth to speak to our striving for illusory power. Real change begins there, by standing up and saying, I accuse me of being an assoul.