Monday, October 17, 2011

The Spiritual Free-Fall from Washington to Obama

Today's post is on the Emperor, and it could hardly be more timely, even though it was written three years ago, before Obama came along to foolfail its prophecy.

Indeed, I wrote at the time that "This is a timelessly timeless archetype, what with the likely election of a president who embodies so many elements that are the precise opposite of what this arcanum symbolizes."

For now, after three years of dissembling and misdirection, Obama is finally discarding the empty suit routine and nakedly displaying the divisive little tyrunt beneath:

"Obama’s reelection strategy" involves fomenting "full-blown cultural warfare against a large and diverse segment of society known as Republicans.... [H]e and his advisers seem to have decided... to mount a deeply polarizing campaign based on 'values' -- suggesting his vision for America is correct even if the economy is not right yet.

"But in waging this battle, Obama is saying nasty and dangerous things. He is promoting his own principles -- not just by touting their goodness, but by suggesting that Republicans hold to an offensive, even un-American, philosophy. By painting his opposition as not just wrong but evil, Obama risks dividing the nation in a profound and unnecessary way.

"Allegations that Republicans want sick people to die and hate homosexuals are caricatures you might expect of an extreme House member or a raving partisan running for local office. That a president would say -- or even believe -- such things is deeply disturbing."

But such slander of conservatives is par for the coarse and unrefined media, just as it is commonplace in academia and holy writ among the liberal rank and foul. In truth, demonization is the only weapon the left has, and the only weapon it has ever had. God, guns and gays -- hating the first, fearing the second, and promoting the third -- is what they are all about.

Our Unknown Friend begins with the observation that "the less superficial a person is -- and the more he knows and is capable of -- the greater is his authority." Specifically, "to be something, to know something and to be capable of something is what endows a person with authority."

Being. Knowledge. Capability. The more of these one has, the more intrinsic authority. And importantly, this won't be any kind of "official" or conventional authority. Rather, the person will spontaneously radiate the authority outward, from the center to the periphery.

(I remember Schuon saying something to the effect that the reason a pope or priest must be decked out in their finery is to convey this spiritual authority, even if they themselves personally lack it. And he didn't mean it in a disapproving manner.)

In turn, each of these categories has a dimension of depth. One can know superficially or deeply. One can do something adequately or with great depth, like the true artist.

But the most mysterious of the three is being. One of the primary purposes of religion is to develop depth at the level of being.

Now, consider Obama, circa 2008. First, what did he know? Pretty much nothing beyond the usual lies and absurdities one is exposed to in a leftist seminary, i.e., college.

Second, what had he accomplished? See #1.

Third, who is he? Yes, one could say "no one," except that spirit -- both good and bad -- abhors a vacuum, and soon enough rushes in to fill the void. You know the drill: people who reject God don't believe in nothing, but rather, in anything.

The other day I was reading an article about Schuon by the Orthodox Christian scholar James Cutsinger, whose initial experience of Schuon's "intrinsic authority" was virtually identical to mine. No one had to tell me that this man possessed authority. Rather, the depth of his authority was communicated directly, center to center:

"Nothing had prepared me for my first encounter with a book by Frithjof Schuon. I vividly recall reading the opening page, and then rereading it again, then a third time and a fourth time, before proceeding" (Cutsinger).

Now interestingly, this depth is not a matter of "complexity" or sophistication. Indeed, those things are often just tricks of the tenured to make one believe they are deep when their ideas would be recognized as utterly banal if conveyed in plain English.

Cutsinger agrees that "the words themselves were certainly not difficult, nor the style at all complex. Indeed, compared to many a modern philosopher's work, Schuon's books are noted for their simple, and often poetic, beauty. And yet for some reason I found myself unable to move with the speed I was accustomed to."

Cutsinger adds that it was as if he were running along the beach, and then suddenly found himself in the ocean. Very mysterious. In other words, he is merrily scampering on the surface of one reality -- call it earth -- but then, to his surprise, finds himself in a different medium, one that is at a right angle, so to speak, to our usual experience of the world:

"Here was a new medium, no less able to support my movement, but requiring an altogether different engagement. There would be no more running now. I would have to swim."

There is another corollary at work here, for just as it requires depth to apprehend depth, only depth can recognize shallowness and superficiality. This is clearly why so many shallow people believe Obama is deep, or nuanced, or even beyond that -- that he truly represents some sort of messianic or "transformational" figure. I feel as if his entire mind could safely fit into a little corner of mine. And I'm not bragging. I would assume that all Raccoons feel the same way.

Back to the Emperor. Among other things, the Emperor is the symbol of divine authority on earth. He is not a replacement of divine authority, but its horizontal prolongation. And along these lines, perhaps the most important point is that, as UF writes, "God governs the world by authority, and not by force. If this were not so, there would be neither freedom nor law in the world."

This automatically excludes an Obama from being a legitimate ruler, in that the left is all about governing by force. He will not "lure" you toward the good by his intrinsic authority, but compel you to "share" and "spread around" the fruits of your labor with his purely terrestrial power. And that's all it is: "I won." If he were capable of explanation, he wouldn't have to ram through unpopular legislation and demonize opponents.

God does not "compel" acceptance of his authority, or we would not be free. Thus, the typical atheist who asks for miracles in order for God to "prove" his existence is really asking for God to remove his freedom. But that is something God will never do. UF elaborates:

"One is free to be believing or unbelieving. Nothing and no one can compel us to have faith -- no scientific discovery, no logical argument, no physical torture can force us to believe, i.e., to freely recognize and accept the authority of God."

The atheist says to Jesus: "Come down from that cross, then I might believe in your power!" But power is not truth. Rather, truth is power. And the truth is, Truth is crucified in history, and yet, survives. And that is a powerful miracle.

In response to the original post, reader James commented that "It is a pleasure and a joy to serve someone who has real authority. It is a horror to serve under someone with no authority, just higher rank in a man-made hierarchy. You can learn all the important things about someone by imagining what it would be like to serve them."

This powerfully applies to George Washington, whose biography I am currently reading. One of the things that made him great -- and contemporaries testified to it over and over -- was the intrinsic authority he radiated. He was never a great military strategist, but was able to maintain the Continental Army through sheer force of his magnetic presence, under appalling conditions that truly boggle the mind.

It is indeed difficult to imagine how America could have succeeded without his being our effective leader for over sixteen years -- the eight years of his presidency and the eight-plus years of the war. As Jefferson wrote, "The moderation and virtue of a single character... probably prevented this revolution from being closed, as most others have been, by a subversion of that liberty it was intended to establish."

In other words, Washington's great power was in the realm of being: the Continental Army "always stood on the brink of dissolution, and Washington was the one figure who kept it together, the spiritual and managerial genius of the whole enterprise: he had been resilient in the face of every setback, courageous in the face of every danger.... The extraordinary, wearisome, nerve-racking frustration he put up with for nearly nine years is hard to express.... He labored under a terrible strain that would have destroyed a lesser man..."

And "at war's end" he sealed his stature, in that "he stood at the pinnacle of power, but he never became drunk with that influence, as had so many generals before him."

That is the kind of truly exceptional being at America's founding -- an exceptionalism the current clown demeans by his frivolous presence even prior to rejecting it with his inane speech.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Loser Power and Fugitive Liberal Slave Laws

Arcana III, the Empress. Our Unknown Friend points out that she symbolizes the realm of sacred or divine magic, which is embodied in the formula that the subtle rules -- or is prior to -- the dense, and all this implies.

"Magic" is a loaded word, but UF has a very specific coonotation in mind. First, he notes that the only legitimate magic is that which is "authorized from above." And the only legitimate aim of magic is liberation in order to ascend. And the only legitimate accomplice to this climb involves a combination of the two wills: divine and human, or what we might call (↓) and (↑).

Thus, real magic results from our alignment with the divine will in order to ascend toward greater freedom, which is always grounded in truth. A new power is re-created through the harmonious attunement of divine and human wills.

Elsewhere UF quotes Peladin, who spoke of the application of the strengthened human will to accelerate the evolution of the living forces of Nature. This is accomplished through the science of love.

And remember from the previous card, that love is the essence of unity, or the free unification of twoness in oneness, even while preserving the twoness. "Sacred magic is the power of love, born of the union in love of divine will and human will." Freedom, love, magic, will, ascent, evolution, multiplicity, truth, harmony, generativity, oneness... all of these are interrelated in surprising ways.

"This is the aim of sacred magic; it is nothing other than to give the freedom to see, to hear, to walk, to live, to follow an ideal and to be truly oneself -- i.e., to give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, the ability to walk to the lame, life to the dead, good news or ideals to the poor, and free will to those who are possessed by evil spirits."

I won't bore you with some of the touching letters Bob has received, testifying to the reality of this magic. But he has been blogging about this stuff for many years, and there are now people -- one doesn't want to exaggerate the numbers, but probably in the high single figures -- who couldn't "see" God, but now can; people who couldn't hear, but now do; or people who couldn't walk the walk, but now dance the sacred coondance.

But thankfully, not one of these people would attribute it to Bob. Well, maybe one person, but we haven't heard from him since the restraining order. The point is, they all "get it" -- that the magic results from aligning (↑) and (↓).

Each person will move through the spooktrum in his own way, from spiritual touch, to hearing, to synthesis and comprehension, then projection and vision. No one else can touch or hear or comprehend for you. Each has to be your own, so they will naturally be inflected through the particulars of your own personality.

Even Jesus -- who was a mode of the universal -- was nevertheless a human personality. True, he was "everyone," but he was nevertheless someone. This is what distinguishes him from merely mythological figures that are purely archetypal and therefore conventional.

UF then goes into a very important passage on the inevitable obstacles along the path, one of which is none other than the mind parasites of which Bob speaks in the book. If the object of sacred magic is liberation in order to ascend, then anything that intrudes upon or prevents this process is more or less parasitic.

Well no, that's not quite correct. In fact, it's not correct at all. Earth is not to be confused with heaven. We are not meant to live non-friction lives, for it is precisely these obstacles -- so long as they do not escape certain parameters -- that present the opportunity for growth and transcendence.

In other words there are "legitimate" obstacles, tests and trials that work within the Cosmic Law, and illegitimate ones that may look satanic, but are actually mostly manmade.

For example, the legions of liberal losers occupying various cities across the nation are really just hordes of unwashed air-do-smells who have failed their various spiritual tests.

For this is what losers do: they project their failure on to some external demon of their own creation. But this hardly means they are "powerless." Rather, through their coordinated wacktivity, they bring about a very real loser power that allows them to get what they want without deserving it.

You might say that a kind of black magic results from the alignment of the human will with the forces of darkness and descent. A liberal victim is always rewarded with illegitimate power, otherwise no one would cast himself as one. And this power is ultimately grounded in someone else's existential guilt.

UF makes the critical point that the Adversary never deprives anyone of his freedom. That is not his style, but more importantly, it is not his role. He's not some sort of street thug or community organizer. No: "Temptation is [his] only weapon and this presupposes the freedom of he who is tempted."

But one can obviously squander one's freedom, to the point that one is essentially "possessed" by the demon that one has co-created with the Adversary. As UF describes it, "One engenders an elemental being and one subsequently becomes the slave of one's own creation."

Look at the flack Herman Cain has taken for helpfully explaining to fellow blacks how this works in practice -- that so many are slaves to a dysfunctional ideology that casts them as permanent property of the white liberals who have the power rescue them. Stray from the plantation, as Cain has done, and you realize that the fugitive slave laws are still in force.

UF observes that mind parasites "have been discovered by contemporary psychiatrists and are recognized as real -- i.e., as 'parasitic psychic organisms' independent of the conscious human will and tending to subjugate it."

As such, "One need not fear the devil, but rather the perverse tendencies in oneself! For those perverse human tendencies can deprive us of our freedom and enslave us. Worse still, they can avail themselves of our imagination and inventive faculties and lead us to creations which can become the scourge of mankind."

Let's pause here for a little more red meat for the base. Liberalism is obviously about freedom. But the founders always understood this in the manner outlined above, as spiritual freedom, i.e., the freedom to ascend. For example, in the words of John Adams,

“Children should be educated and instructed in the principles of freedom.... We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.... Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.... We should be unfaithful to ourselves if we should ever lose sight of the danger to our liberties if anything partial or extraneous should infect the purity of our free, fair, virtuous, and independent elections.”

The Democratic party has long since abandoned the classical liberalism of America's founders for an illiberal leftism that is not just its political opposite, but its very negation. It is a collusion of man and his own lower nature in order to bring about hell on earth. Instead of a vertical (natural) freedom conferred by God and protected by the state, it promulgates an unnatural freedom granted by the state.

But just as the state cannot create wealth but only appropriate it by force, it cannot grant real freedom, since that freedom is a priori and intrinsically spiritual. And by attacking and undermining religion itself, the left participates in the creation of a new kind of man-beast hybrid whose narcissistic freedom is for his own sake. It is not even horizontal freedom, but merely the freedom to fall further beneath himself.

It is remarkable that the change chumps and hope fiends of the irreligious secular left -- precisely because they are irreligious -- collectively created the pseudo-religious fantasy of Obama, a shape-shifting cipher and compulsively lyin' Hawaiian who represents the quintessence of soothing hypnosis and oily seduction, the favorite methods of the Adversary. For he is the inverted image of the Empress.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Exiting the Circle of Doubt

As we were saying yesterday, man is uniquely privileged to recognize the Absolute -- which is intelligible, even if never "containable" by any relativity.

But even more than this, "The requirement of recognizing the Absolute is itself absolute" (Schuon).

In other words, the very existence of the Absolute implies an absolute duty to recognize it, which in turn provides the trajectory of our life; for "if the Universe were not Knowledge, the way toward Reality could not be Knowledge" (Schuon).

We might even say that this is the ultimate and unsurpassable meaning of I am your God and You shall have no other Gods before me. The one follows the other, and is a key to man's dignity, because it means "that we accept Truth because it is true and for no other reason" (Schuon, in Oldmeadow).

In other words, man's intrinsic dignity is compromised if, on the one hand, he is like a robot or "logic machine" with no choice in the matter, or, on the other, if he only "knows" that which it is in his narrowly construed self-interest to know -- if, as the Darwinians believe, knowledge is just genetic self-interest in disguise.

Rather, man's dignity is rooted in a kind of "disinterested passion" to know truth.

Thus, God, or the Absolute, is always man's guarantor of dignity. Remove the Absolute and there is no ground or possibility of human dignity, for there is no reason whatsoever for man to be proud of error.

But nor should he be proud of his knowledge, since he can have nothing to do with it aside from recognizing it.

What this means is that man's dignity is not only rooted in truth but in will, in that we must nevertheless choose truth, which is to say, "there must be a participation of the will in the intelligence" (Oldmeadow).

That we can reject truth is, ironically, a seal of man's dignity. Indeed you may have noticed that this is precisely what animates many doctrinaire atheists, who are too proud and dignified to ever lower themselves to the level of religion.

But why should a modified ape even care about dignity, any more than a dog should be self-conscious about licking his privates in public?

Of note, the atheist conflates man's dignity with his ability to doubt. The latter is -- no doubt -- an aspect of his dignity, again, because man is "condemned to freedom" and therefore responsible; but it cannot be the whole story, for doubt has no virtue unless it is in the service of truth.

Doubt necessarily arises in the space between truth and freedom, but it is not an end. Rather, it is always, or should be, in the service of faith, i.e., the faith that Truth both is and is knowable (which amounts to the same thing).

There is no removing will from knowledge, which is a very different thing from willfulness, which believes what it wants to believe because it wants to believe it.

And faith "is like an 'existential' intuition of its 'intellectual' object" (Schuon), i.e., tacit foreknowledge of an as yet undiscovered world, which casts its shadow "down and back," so to speak. That being the case, it makes no sense to chase after shadows instead of looking to the object casting them.

Even so, the universal journey from the existential periphery to the ontological center is always a choice, even while it is the only realistic choice. For why would anyone choose to to turn away from the central sun and live in a shadowland of darkness and doubt?

As Schuon describes, "The capacity for objectivity and for absoluteness is an anticipated and existential refutation of all ideologies of doubt," because "if man is able to doubt this is because certitude exists" (ibid).

You might say that the atheist transforms a method into an epistemology and even an ontology: the Cartesian formulation that I doubt, therefore I am.

But clearly, I am not because I doubt, but because -- how to put it? -- because it is, i.e., because the Absolute is absolute. Any IS is a kind of absolute. To say that something IS is to say that it exists, and to say that it exists is to affirm that it abides in intelligible being, i.e., Truth.

If doubt were man's final end, it could not be due to his essential animality. Rather, it would reduce him to a station lower than the beasts, "since the intelligence of animals does not experience doubt concerning the reality to which it is proportioned" (ibid.). Again, doubt is a vehicle of our dignity, not the destination.

And this vehicle, although it journeys from the periphery to the center, is also a kind of inspiraling circle, in that "God's vision proceeds from Him and ends in Him, like a circle which originates and closed upon itself" (Schuon).

Thus it is finally nothing in virtue of which it is everything, in that "the world, insofar as it is not God, is reduced to nothing; but insofar as it is not nothing, it is essentially God" (ibid). These extremes -- nothing everything -- meet in the Incarnation.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Singing the Song Supreme

God or no God, Absolute or absolutely relative, O or ø -- either way, man is uniquely privileged to speak of the highest things, because that is what it comes down to. The only question is: how high can One go?

Or, more to the point: how Lo goes O? For it makes no sense to affirm that God doesn't exist. Rather, a more honest statement would be that if God doesn't exist, humans could never know it, because man would have no reason to believe in any absolute, including absolute negation. With no Absolute, all is relative. Period.

By definition there can be only one Absolute, which, in my opinion, is the "sponsor," so to speak, of all the "relative absolutes" we use to negotiate our way through life.

It is similar to the idea that all numbers are simply multiples of one. Until one has the idea of "oneness" -- and note that it is a quality before it is a quantity -- one cannot proceed mathematically. Bion felt that the "discovery" of oneness was the single greatest leap of mankind, i.e., the idea that, for example, five rocks and five sticks share the abstract principle of fiveness.

But because there is only one Absolute it is not possible to map it, because as soon as one tries, one has created two. It is analogous to attempting to map, say, "music." On the one hand we have an abstract system of musical notation, and yet, all of the millions of melodies added together don't come close to exhausting the realm of music, which might as well be infinite. At best, we can dip into this realm of musical potential and channel its infinite possibilities in ways that are deep, interesting, and beautiful.

Might we say the same of God -- or, let us just say O, for to say "God" is already to project a lot of implicit preconceptions? In other words, what if religion, like music, is a way to translate what is otherwise unthinkable into something deep, interesting, and beautiful? Here is how Schuon describes it:

"Metaphysical Truth is both expressible and inexpressible." In fact, I would say that this is what distinguishes the exoterist from the esoterist, or the normotic from the Raccoon: the implicit belief on the part of the former that his particular expression expresses the inexpressible -- that his relativity is somehow absolute (which, of course, makes him God).

I thought of this when I heard of that jackass pastor at the "value voters summit" who suggested that America's founders intended religious freedom to apply only to Christians. This is exactly the same argument Democrats used to deny freedom to blacks: that the founders did not intend for liberty to be a universal principle.

But "truth" and "liberty" in the abstract are much closer to God than any specific formulation. For one thing, truth is only possible if it is freely discovered, so it must be prior to doctrine. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (2 Co 3:17). (I might add that freedom is only possible if it converges upon truth, otherwise it is just meaningless horizontal drifting, AKA the Left.)

Now, just because the Absolute is not (exhaustively) expressible, it doesn't mean it isn't knowable; indeed, we cannot not know it and still think, since all thinking is rooted in it.

One of the fundamental errors of modernity -- perhaps the fundamental error -- is to turn the cosmos upside-down, and imagine that consciousness is somehow built from bricks of inconscience -- that mind is actually mindless, that the secret of life is lifelessness, and that Spirit is just instinct or random error on a grand scale.

But if we properly view the cosmos right-side up, then things like truth, freedom, life, light, and love are at the top; truly, it is a tree with roots aloft and branches down below.

That being the case, everything is a kind of fractal of the whole, which goes back to the idea that all numbers are multiples of one. For to perceive any "one thing" is again to discern the transcendent principle of oneness in the herebelow.

Thus, to say that man is "in the image of the Creator" is both shocking, and yet, a truism. After all, man creates. He knows truth. He loves. He surpasses himself, meaning that he cannot be "contained" or treated as an object. And he is one, or at least tries to evolve toward dynamic wholeness and unity (or diversity-in-oneness).

Schuon notes that the Intellect "opens into the Divine Order and therefore encompasses all that is." The image comes to mind of an ocean current, which is not other than the ocean, and yet, is distinct from it. But as soon as one attempts to define the boundary with precision, one sees that it is impossible, for it is just "water within water."

One might say that man is "self within Self," or (¶) within O, or let us just say "within." Only man can know that his mind is "within" something larger, more vast and expansive, something both containing and grounding it.

I would suggest that to say "God" is to say "man," and vice versa, just as to say "relative" is to say "Absolute," and vice versa. Therefore, especially when we are saying something deep or meaningful, we cannot not speak of God, any more than we can sing of music-lessness. (Although I suppose Phillip Glass tried.)

The Absolute, or O, is expressible, in the sense that "it becomes crystallized in formulations which are all they ought to be since they communicate all that is necessary or useful to our mind. Forms are doors to the essences, in thought and in language as well as in other symbolisms" (Schuon).

So to preserve the mystery of God with a discrete silence is not to cop out or go wobbly just at the critical moment. Rather, this inexpressible essence is precisely that which provokes the forms we use to express it. Do such forms "prove" the existence of God? Yes and no. Does a song prove the existence of music? Or are there only songs, but no such abstract universal as music?

For Schuon, "The aim of metaphysics is not to prove anything whatsoever but to make doctrines intelligible" and "to provide symbols for spiritual assimilation and realization" (Oldmeadow). Thus, we might say that one cannot prove the existence of God, but one can prove his realization in man. And that is enough.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Unleash Your Inner Victim for Wealth and Power!

We left off yesterday talking about that book in the Priestess's lap, which represents the descent of spirit, from the spiritual/experiential "touch" of mysticism down to the religio-philosophical sense, which results in "writing one's book," so to speak. Evidently, in order to become a journeyman transmitter, one must begin as an apprentice lightning rod.

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.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday Morning Meditations: The High Priestess and Lunar Popette

Next up in our weekly discussion of Meditations on the Tarot: Letter II, the High Priestess. But before moving on to her, is there anything else we should say about the Magician?

Yes, a couple of lucends. UF makes the critically important point that, with regard to the spiritual world, everything hinges upon the depth of experience. This is not analogous to scientific knowledge, which has no "depth" per se, and may be passed from mind to mind like any other object. The dominance of this latter modality is precisely what leads naive minds to conclude that the world is epistemologically flat, which of course is nonsense (or only sense, rather). For one thing, if that were true, it could never be known, for the knower could not rise above what he knows.

We'll leave to one side for the moment Polanyi's argument that the scientific enterprise is actually much closer to spiritual epistemology -- and vice versa -- than scientists realize. The point is, the arcana of which UF writes are like preconceptions, or "empty categories," which must be filled by experience in order to become genuine knowledge. As he writes, "all superficial, incomplete or false experience is bound to give rise to superficial, incomplete and false conclusions." Therefore, the "effectiveness and value depend on the fullness and exactitude of the experience upon which it is based."

For you post-literate sophisticates out there who imagine there is something essentially stupid about religion, always consider the source, as there will always be an abundance of stupid people such as yourselves, especially as more of you are spiritually maimed by the privilege of a higher education. This is axiomatic. It is not analogous to your scientistic religion, which any mediocrity can understand.

Qualifications count all the more in any knowledge that is embodied and not just theoretical. I am not impressed if my brain surgeon has merely been to medical school. I want to know if he has assimilated the knowledge and successfully put it into action. I don't want him merely to "know stuff." I want him to physically be the knowledge, to incarnate it in action.

Here again, there is something analogous to being childlike. As UF writes, "The little child does not 'work' -- he plays. But how serious he is, i.e., concentrated, when he plays! His attention is still, complete and undivided, whereas with one who approaches the kingdom of God it becomes again entire and undivided.... The Master did not want us to become puerile; what he wanted is that we attain the geniality of intelligence and heart which is analogous -- not identical -- to the attitude of the child...."

It is in this mode of relaxed work-play that we may regain the unity of consciousness, or the union of conscious and unconscious minds; or, if you like, left and right brain, or heart and head. The Magician embodies the higher synthesis "of the conscious and unconscious -- of creative spontaneity and deliberately executed activity." It is theodidactic soul-jazz, which eventually gets to where it's going, although never by the same route, and never where you imagined.

Bob looks at it this way: "Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." Children -- well, my child, anyway -- are always laughing. Humor and human are of the same essence. Therefore, the journey to hyperborea calls for some seriously deep and laughty revelations. In turn, one can see how the empyrean is unreachable for an embittered comic such as Bill Maher, who is only capable of humor so low, so cheap, so broad, that even Larry King gets it.

Now, on to the High Priestess. Here again we have a somewhat rambling and chaorderly chapter that I will do my best to reduce to its essence.

There is a reason the Priestess follows the Magician, and this has to do with the distinction between the pure Light of knowledge -- which is analogous to the sun -- and its reflection in the book (in her lap) -- which is analogous to the moon (the moon is always female, and not just because of the moonstrual cycle).

UF then veers into an important aside; here again, his constant asides can be disorienting, but speaking as Bob's Unconscious, I am completely sympathetic. The Unconscious is not "linear"; but this is hardly to say that it is not logical. Rather, it simply follows its own logic. You might call it "night logic," or the logic of the Dream. This logic is rich, holographic, fractal, non-linear, and pregnant with implications. Rather than A leading to B leading to C, it's more like....

Well, frankly, unconscious logic is also intrinsically imagistic, and the image that comes to mind is a lung, an upside down tree, or a burning bush that is never consumed by the Fire. Think of how oxygen enters through a single passage, but then fractally branches off into innumerable byways, until it literally touches the individual blood cells. That is how religious in-spiration works as well. It is how one touches the divine -- or rather, vice versa. And God breathed into him the breath of life, and man became a living being. His ex-halation is our in-wholation (hale and whole are etymologically related).

Interesting that the French name for High Priestess is, as you can see, La Papesse, or "The Popess." Interesting because Schuon often refers to the pontiff as the archetype of Man as Such, i.e., Pontifical Man, the latter being the microcosmic vertical principle who bisects all the planes of existence and who contains all potential within himself. The Latin pontifex connotes "builder of bridges," and Man is indeed the ultimate bridge builder, only it is a vertical bridge (or sometimes ladder) between manifestation and principle; or the many and the One; or Heaven and Earth; or the upper waters and the lower waters.

I am intrigued by this implicit idea of "female pope." What could it possibly mean when we combine -- or play with -- the archetypes of pontifex and female? To put it another way, what does female connote in its vertical aspect? I ask this because female is usually associated with all of the words and concepts derived from mother or mater, including matter, meter, mara, maya, mattress, measure. There is the Father Principle, or "pure form," which "fertilizes" pure materiality in order to bring about the manifestation (e.g., the play of purusha and prakriti, or Shiva and Shakti).

Genesis treats this subject in mythopoetic terms, as the woman represents the descending tendency who is seduced by the snake, the symbol of earthbound horizontality. Conversely, Mary is the shadow of Eve (or rather, vice versa), in that she gives birth to the ultimate pontifex, or to the Principle within the manifestation. Thus, Mary-Matter-Maya is "pregnant with God," not just 2000 years ago, but for all time. We don't have time to go into Eckhart's many fruitful ideas about the feminine aspect of divinity, e.g., that God perpetually lays on a maternity bed giving birth. Creativity -- which is often seen as a more masculine activity -- is actually more feminine, both because of the birth motif, but also because true creativity is fertilized "from above."

UF goes into the difference between "Christian" yoga and yoga-yoga, in that the former aspires to a unity of two rather then the dissolution of twoness into an acosmic and impersonal Oneness. (And don't be put off by the word "yoga," as it simply means the same thing as "religion"; both have to do with "yoking" or "binding" (from the Latin religare, "to bind"). Thus, "my yoga is easy," as it were.

A Christian yoga must be rooted in the principle that there is something higher than oneness; and that higher principle is the yoke of love. And clearly, love is not possible -- or, it is merely an illusion -- if all is actually one. But Christianity teaches that love is not only not an illusion, but the essence of God, even a "name" for God, so to speak. Thus, the recognition of a trinitarian God, which you might say is "one in love" as opposed to one in.... what? I don't know. That was for all those Councils to hash out 1000 or 1500 years ago, and I don't want to rehash it here.

The point is, this does not mean to imply any dualistic cosmos; but it also isn't a monistic one. Duality, as UF suggests, is always pernicious, as it posits two rival "ultimates" which battle it out until the end of time -- which never ends. But it is absurd to think that there could be two ultimates.

You could claim that one of the ultimates is merely an illusion, which is what materialists do. That is, there is a mind-matter duality that is ultimately reducible to matter. This, of course, is a non-starter, as it represents the worst kind of metaphysical nonsense: the intrinsically self-refuting kind.

UF asks, "Does there not exist a legitimate twofoldness?... a twofoldness which does not signify the diminution of unity, but rather its qualitative enrichment?

Hmmm, let's see.... I'm thinking of marriage, which strikes me as a legitimate twofoldness that enriches unity. Is there such a thing as a metaphysical marriage? Well, could this perhaps be what Petey was referring to when he quipped, A little metaphysical diddling between a cabbala opposites, and Mamamaya! baby makes Trinity, so all the world's an allusion?

As the ironically named Three Dog Night taught us, "one is the loneliest number." And as Petey taught us, It was not good that this Godhead, the Most High, should be allone, so He expired with a big bong and said "let there be higher physics," and it was zo. Now God had a lila Word with whom to play with keep him company! The point is, eternity would be intolerably dull and monotheotonous without sometwo to love in threeness: Lover, Loved, and the Love that passes between them. Truly, two's a crowd but three's company.

And God's love would not be particularly admirable if he were merely loving himself by proxy. No, God's love is completely unnarcissary. As UF writes, "If God were only One and if he had not created the World, he would not be the God revealed by the Master, the God of whom St. John says: God is love; and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him."

I suppose I would venture to branch this out a bit, and say that God is also Truth, or Knower, Known, and the Knowledge in between; or Beauty, in the same essential formulation.

The point is, as UF says, mere Being deprived of love "would be the most appalling torment -- the Inferno itself!" Love -- and Truth and Beauty -- is what imbues being with worth, with value and with meaning. What is the Resurrection if not the triumph of love over broken being? Being itself is morally indifferent, perhaps even vaguely sinister, in the absence of the divine light of love.

UF goes into a lovely little soliloquy on the "gift of tears" which are a sort of fluid membrane between the above and below, a certificate of authenticity of most any encounter with the God of Love. In contrast to the "dry" experience of depersonalized oneness, UF writes that the soul who experiences the miracle of divine love is moved to tears. Only humans cry tears of joy.

Now, man the microcosm is in the image of the Creator-metacosm. The most quintessentially human faculty is the Intellect, or nous, which actually shares in a part of the "uncreatable" substance of God. Again, it is a purely passive or "female" principle, as it is a lunar reflection of the light of the Father. This is none other than Sophia, or wisdom herself: "Pure intellect is that which reflects; love is that which acts."

(Interestingly, this implies that the solar principle is located in the heart, the lunar principle in the head; more on which later. But you can well understand why so many so-called "intellectuals" become so pathologically feminized, as they are detached from the solar principle above as well as its manifestation below in the heart, or higher mind.)

UF notes that "the intellect is the feminine side of the soul, whilst the fertilizing imagination is the masculine principle. The intellect that is not fertilized by the imagination guided by the heart is sterile." Here again, we can see how our troll has so much to teach us. One thing he teaches us about is how, in the pathologically feminized mind, passions become hardened into irrational pseudo-thoughts.

Back to the Priestess. I won't get into all of the details of UF's reasoning, as I would prefer to focus on the principles. And the main principle embodied in the Priestess is the descent of the Word through the stages of reflection, memory, word, and writing. For example, think of the descent of revelation, only the last stage of which is "The Book." In other words, religion begins in the world of principles, or at the center, and moves out to the periphery.

Science, on the other hand, begins with facts -- "the book of nature" -- and attempts to reason from the periphery to the center (which is strictly impossible, as the very conduct of science presupposes the human center). Put another way, the "last stage" of God's involution is the material world, whereas the latter is the starting point of science.

Mysticism is the science of "spiritual touch," and it must be at the heart of all religion. As UF writes, spiritual touch -- or intuition -- "is that which permits contact between our consciousness and the world of pure mystical experience. It is by virtue of this that there exists in the world and in the history of mankind a real relationship between the living soul and the living God -- which is true religion." It is only because of this faculty of spiritual touch -- which is obviously a subtle sense that needs to be nurtured and developed -- that God is something "more than an abstract notion."

But after mystical touch comes gnosis, or the spirit of understanding; and after gnosis, the magical sense, or the ability to put knowledge into action (or non-action, to be precise); and after magic comes the book, MOTT being as fine an example of the latter as one could imagine. As UF writes, if the God-knower "wants all that he has experienced, understood and practiced to be not limited to himself and his time, but to be communicable to others and transmitted to future generations, he must develop the Hermetic-philosophical sense, and in practicing it he will 'write his book.'"

And how eternally grateful we are that so many of these illustrious pneumanauts left their living books for us! For it is only through the very organicity of the living book that the totality of tradition may be "held together," from the top to the bottom, from the center to the periphery, from the vertical to the horizontal. To not have this experience of the living whole is to be possessed by a demon, whether it is the demon of Marxism, or of metaphysical Darwinism, or of materialism, or of scientism. Each of these results in the soul being possessed and ensnared:

"Yes, autonomous philosophical systems separated from the living body of tradition are parasitic structures, which seize the thought, feeling and finally the will of human beings. In fact, they play a role comparable to the psycho-pathological complexes of neurosis or other psychic maladies of obsession. Their physical analogy is cancer."

Ain't it the truth. And there is no cure for this soul-cancer from within the absurcular realm from which it arises, only via relationship with the higher principle to which the soul is always "feminine."

Friday, October 07, 2011

Let's Get Real!

Let's talk about reality. First of all, humans routinely throw out this word, but do we know what it refers to?

And even if we do, is there any reason to believe we could actually "know" it? Isn't "reality" similar to "God" -- in effect a signifier with no signified (or which signifies everything, which amounts to the same (no)thing)? In other words, just because we have a word for God, it hardly means that we understand what or who God is.

We could say the same of the word "universe." As Stanley Jaki has written, it obviously isn't a result of any kind of empirical observation, for who has ever seen the universe? Indeed, the only person who could conceivably see it would be God, which raises an interesting point, for is it possible for there to be an intelligible unit in the absence of an intelligence that knows it?

I like to think that, while human beings have every right to assume and affirm the existence of a cosmos -- an ordered totality of interacting objects and principles -- we are also warranted to posit a kind of universal subject in conformity to this entity, i.e., God.

Since we can know that ultimate reality exists even while we cannot know it in its totality, this requires a different sort of symbolic reference, hence the system of pneumaticons, e.g., O. O stands for "ultimate reality." It is analogous to an algebraic variable.

Now, for man there are three main sources of revelation. There is the empirical world of sensation. There is the rational world of logical principles. And there is (capital R) Revelation, i.e., communications from O tailored to human sensibilities. (One could add emotional and aesthetic realities, but let's leave those to the side for now.)

Science may exclude the latter from its arsenal, but it hardly makes the other two less problematic. In fact, it clearly makes them more problematic, for what right do humans have to claim knowledge of truth if they are but an accidental and transient result of impersonal forces?

One cannot implicitly claim transcendence while explicitly undercutting its very ground and possibility. This is as absurd as the political philosophers of the Confederate south affirming the universal right to property without affirming the natural right not to be someone's property.

Rather, the right to own the fruit of one's labor flows from the right to own oneself. Just so, the "right to truth" flows from the ability to know it, otherwise it's a meaningless phrase.

This is no small matter, since the left always violently sunders these primordial realities in various ways. For example, thanks to relativism, multiculturalism, and political correctness, man has a right to truth, but no longer a natural right. Rather, only a positive right to certain truths determined by the political needs of the left.

Thus, if my six year old were unfortunate enough to attend a public school in California, he would have the "right" to learn all about homosexuality. But only what homosexual activists want him to learn, which is no right at all. Besides, no morally sane person would expose a child to such inappropriate material, which tells us a great deal about the broken moral compass of homosexual activists.

Back to the subject. I'm not sure where to begin a discussion of cosmic reality, because it seems that we can literally start anywhere and eventually arrive at the same place and know it for the first time. However, I don't have all day, so I think I'll begin with chapter 6 of Oldmeadow's Frithjof Schuon and the Perennial Philosophy, Metaphysics: Science of the Real, and take it from there.

Again, the affirmation of "reality" obviously implies the ability to know it, which in turn implies a great deal more. For it means that, in the words of Schuon, "In principle the Intellect knows everything because all possible knowledge is inscribed in its very substance."

In other words, the Intellect may know anything that is knowable, and there is no reality that is not knowable, since these are two sides of the same coin. Or better yet, truth and reality are synonymous terms. In the more obvious sense, the former is subjective, the latter objective.

But looked at another way, truth is the ultimate in objectivity, whereas reality is always taking on different appearances. This is no less true of science than metaphysics, since the progress of science may be measured in terms of its increasing explanatory power. A good theory encompasses and accounts for more reality, and more adequately reduces multiplicity to unity.

However, science begins at one end of the cosmos, metaphysics the other. That is to say, science deals with phenomena (from the periphery in, so to speak), metaphyiscs with principles (from the center out). And importantly, metaphysics cannot be derived from science; rather, the converse. Science must be one of the possibilities entailed in the universal metaphysic.

For example, as indicated above, if knowledge is possible, it is only because we live in a very specific type of cosmos in which real knowledge is possible. The latter is not explained by science, but rather, is a necessary condition of science.

I can't help weaving in whatever I've been thinking about lately, in this case, Jaffa's truly magisterial A New Birth of Freedom. This may seem far-flung, but it is anything but.

To cite just one example, we might say that our Constitution is analogous to science, in the sense that it is the crystalization of an immense amount of deep and sustained thought on political philosophy. But in order for the philosophy to be efficacious, it must be founded upon human nature and on "nature's God" -- which is just another way of saying "The Way. Things. Are." Get the latter wrong, and it hardly matters what sort of beautiful political system one comes up with, for it won't work.

The point is, this human reality is both prior to, and the reason for, politics. As the Founders say, the purpose of politics is to secure this prior reality, which mainly consists of life, liberty and the freedom to pursue our own proper end -- an end no one else can discover for, much less impose upon, us.

Furthermore, to the extent that a government denies this prior reality, it triggers the natural right of revolution, because said government is no longer legitimate -- legitimacy not being rooted in democracy or majority rule, but in the preservation and protection of our natural rights.

The Founders were specifically frightened about the tendency of the democratic mob to run roughshod over the very rights and moral order that confer legitimacy upon democracy. Consider another contemporary example. Marriage is a natural right that is obviously prior to the state. But "homosexual marriage" is not and could never be a natural right, only a positive right invented by the state. Therefore, whatever one chooses to call it, it shouldn't be called "marriage," unless we also start calling women Chaz.

The heading of chapter 6 has another observation by Schuon: "There can be no effective metaphysics without heaven's help." We'll get more into what this means later, but we could again say something analogous of science, since it is grounded in certain realities that can never be explained by science, but without which science is inconceivable, for example, free will. Both on the micro and macro level, science is a spontaneous order based upon a free exchange of ideas and information. It is not analogous to a "logic machine."

For Schuon, metaphysics has "two great dimensions, one 'ascending' and dealing with universal principles," and "the other 'descending' and dealing... with the divine life in creaturely situations...." One might say that one applies to O, the other to its incarnation in wee little mirrorcles of the Absolute, i.e., what I symbolize (¶).

The ascending metaphysic has to do with discernment between reality and appearances, noumenon and phenomenon, truth and illusion, while the descending metaphysic has to do with....

Put it this way: it is similar to the Ten Commandments, the first five of which are "vertical" and have to do with O <---> (¶) relations, the latter being horizontal and governing (¶)<--->(¶) relations. O has an I-ambassy in man's heart, just as we have one in O, which is also what makes neighborly love possible.

For what is this latter relation ultimately founded upon? Yes, upon the recognition of divinity in the other. The second five commandments do not "add up" to divinity, but are entailed in its prior reality. But it took human beings thousands of years of practicing the commandments to recognize the underlying reality, the movement from law to love and from obedience to faith, so to speak. Indeed, we are still learning.

To be continued....

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Seriousness is No Excuse for Frivolousness

I was going to careen into a new subject, but then thought better of it, since I don't have much time, so we'll continue into the first arcana of MOTT, the Magician. But before getting into its specific meaning, bear in mind that, even more than a word, these complex symbols are visual containers, or ♀, which are full of potential content or meaning, ♂.

UF implies this at the outset, noting that these archetypes have "the virtue of awakening the deeper layers of the soul." While one cannot think without symbols, one must not confuse the symbols with the thoughts they provoke and contain, nor reduce thought to its outer "clothing," so to speak.

Bob touched on this in OCUG, noting that one must develop a new relationship to language, so that one actually speaks it, rather than vice versa.

This is not quite accurate, for what we really want is to be "spoken" by the deeper dimensions of thought -- to somehow get beneath the surface of conventional speech, which is almost circular in its predictability, shaping both our unconscious expectations and perceptions, and thus limiting our "presence" to reality (and vice versa). Much of Bob's inane wordplay is actually a weirdploy to serve as an accomplice to the climb, as we shall explain.

In a way, we must act as if we are in a very different country, so that our expectations aren't saturated with preconceptions. We must overcome the lower mind's built-in tendency to adapt itself to the environment in order to forget about it.

I believe Bob has discussed this in the past -- that this is one of the reasons people enjoy vacations, not because they allow the person to come into contact with a new reality, but with reality, period. But why wait until one is on vacation to be open to the fullness of reality? We need to somehow lift ourselves out of the familiar attractor we habitually roll around in, which is very much like a deep groove in subjective phase space.

Certain aspects of religion are almost designed to have this "shock value" of unfamiliarity, thus pulling us out of ordinary and into sacred time and space. After all, if religion were no different than any other symbolic mode, we wouldn't need it. The "weirdness" of religion isn't only due to the singular nature of its object, but is a kind of "means" or "expedient" with which to get over and out of yourself.

When we hear about "speaking in tongues" and the like, I believe this is a way of describing a deeper principle. You can be sure that the scientific materialist only believes what he does because he is spoken by a particular kind of dry and desiccated language, and has become contained -- and therefore imprisoned -- by it.

This is why no real poet could ever be a materialist. The poet knows as well as anyone that ♂ always breaks free of ♀, and that this is a divine mercy. I suppose the only thing worse than being unable to contain reality would be somehow containing it. Game over!

UF goes on to say that these archetypal symbols have the capacity to awaken "new notions, ideas, sentiments, and aspirations, which means that they require an activity more profound than that of study and intellectual explanation."

Rather, one must dive deeply into them, which is to simultaneously plunge into the mystery of oneself, i.e., beyond the subjective horizons within which we confine ourselves. For "it is the deep and intimate layers of the soul which become active and bear fruit" in these contemplative exercises.

And this is indeed the whole point: to become deep, since God is the ultimate depth, or that by which depth is measured (if there were no God, there would be no depth, precisely; everything would be of equivalent value, which is to say, valueless).

Here again, UF highlights the ♂ ♀ (container-contained) dialectic of the arcana -- and this goes for any archetypal symbols, including the totality of the Bible -- in that they "conceal and reveal their sense at one and the same time according to the depth of meditation." To cite one of Bob's portmantools, they reveil (reveal and veil), the veil (♀) being necessary to clothe the (♂) so that it may be thought about in a generative and deepening spiral.

Again, this is a true cosmic complementarity, which is why one cannot simply strip away the veil to disclose the underlying reality. This is the approach of modern fooligans who, like all previous generations of surface dwellers, or psychic neuston, imagine they can be the first to seize reality in the raw, in an unmediated way. They are each generation's self-styled "reality based community."

But in the words of Don Colacho, "To be stupid is to believe that it is possible to take a photograph of the place about which the poet sang." But enough about our trolls.

We see how far the neobarbarian atheists get by beating off reality, which is to say, nowhere. They merely grasp their own nether parts with their ønanistic wacktivity, which is why they are spiritually barren. Truly, they are filled with countless unBorns who will never see the light of deity because they were never fertilized.

Now, the magician is the master archetype for our journey into the rest of the symbols. Why is that? Because he is the symbol of what we must become if we are to have a fruitful journey through the rest of them. We must become this magician. And what does this magician represent?

Well, among other things, he embodies the principle of Slack, in that we must leave the field of profane time behind, and enter a different reality that has its own more expansive rhythm and sensibility. Here is how UF formulates it:

Learn at first concentration without effort; transform work into play; make every yoke that that you have accepted easy and every burden that you carry light!

The first of these prescriptions has to do with what we call the principle of Higher Non-doodling, which in turn is similar to the wu wei of Taoism. It also shares similarities what Sri Aurobindo calls the attainment of the "silent mind," which is well explained in chapter 4 of The Adventure of Consciousness.

In fact, we may discern a convergence of the Catholic and neo-Vedantic approaches, as Satprem writes that "the major task that opens the door to many realizations is to silence the mind.... Clearly, if we want to discover a new country within us, we must leave the old one behind -- everything depends on our determination to take this first step."

Part of this is in order to escape the old (♀) in order to get at the new (♂), so to speak. In other words, our surface ego, or local self (•) is so hemmed in and contained, that we need to somehow get beyond or behind it. This is because, as Sri Aurobindo writes, "In a certain sense, we are nothing but a complex mass of mental, nervous and physical habits held together [i.e., contained, ♀] by a few ruling ideas, desires and associations -- an amalgam of many small, self-repeating forces with a few major vibrations."

This outward and external (♀) becomes thicker and more dense, until we are "confined in a construction," which becomes a kind of pseudo-center. No more (♂). Your fortress against reality is complete. (In contrast, I notice that for my six-year old, everything is still more or less uncontained, or only partially contained, ♂; he hasn't yet learned to bleach out all the novelty.)

This is why -- in a manner of speaking -- we might say that the first half of life involves learning, while the second half involves unLearning. Or, to re-become as little children, who are so full of ♂. This requires not only a leap of, but into, faith (o), which Aurobindo describes as "an intuition not only waiting for experience to justify it, but leading toward experience." (In other words, faith is not just content, but a mode of spiritual cognition.)

Here again, UF agrees that we must achieve calm and silence "at the expense of the automatism of thought and imagination" (the bad kind -- more on which later). Only in so doing are we capable of truly "speaking" of these matters, instead of merely being on auto-pilot.

A Raccoon must never speak of spiritual matters in the manner of "writing the mechanical bull." I suppose that doing so has its place, but such familiar pneumababble is ultimately "by the dead and for the tenured," not for us.

One reason why silence is so critical is that it is only in silence that we become "one" (anxiety always fragments and dissipates). And as UF writes, we must first become one in ourselves if we are to become one with the spiritual world.

It's just common sense. Without unity, there can be no knowledge of any kind. For example, the only reason why we may possess scientific knowledge is because a primordial unity subtends the division of subject and object, knower and known.

However, that is the world of horizontal quantities, whereas the spiritual world is one of vertical qualities. Thus, the next step, according to UF, is to understand the Law of Analogy that governs the qualitative world of the vertical. This, of course, is why Jesus spoke in parables that are full of richly resonant symbolism with which we must "play" again as little children.

Well, playtime is over. To be continued...

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Channeling Friends in High Places

Still recovering from the cold. I'm good-to-go for horizontal activities... so to speak. It's just that I lack sufficient pneumasomatic energy to sustain a raid on the wild godhead, only a light stroll down previously-trod paths. That's a colorful and self-aggrandizing way of introducing another repost.

As mentioned last week, I think I'll revisit my series of posts on Meditations on the Tarot from a few years back. It took a couple of months to fully unwind, but even then, riffing on one card every day or two does a disservice to all -- you, me, and Unknown Friend -- since it should be more of an organic and interior-directed process that proceeds at its own supernatural pace.

Rather, one needs to "dwell" in the book in order to actualize its pneuma-catalytic power. You must get into it so that it might get into you. To paraphrase UF, the images are like "enzymes" that facilitate growth when sprinkled over the sincere and open soul. You know, like the yeast in the bread.

Therefore, instead of reposting one card per day, I should probably slow down and do one per week. That way I can simultaneously begin playing with the new series mentioned a few posts back, on the universal metaphysic beneath religious form. Or something like that.

*****

We are about to spend some quality timelessness with Meditations on the Tarot: A Journey into Christian Hermeticism (heretofore MOTT). It is the most profound work of Christian spirituality I've ever encountered, and is so dense that you can't possibly read it just once and be done with it. Rather, it is one of those books that needs to be reread every year or so. The problem is, it would probably take a year to properly read, and much longer to actually internalize and assimilate.

I suppose I've read it cover to cover maybe four or five times. I know this because I have two copies, each with different colored highlighting. And yet, each time I read it, I get something new out of it. I know this because new passages are highlighted on subsequent grow-rounds.

Also, as I mentioned in a comment the other day, the first time I tried to tackle it, I got nowhere. It was just too difficult; turns out we were both too dense. And when I say "dense," I mean this in a kind of literal way, in that its light could not penetrate me. It was there, of course, but without a receptive agent to transmute it, it was just another brick in my wall of books.

But by the time of my second attempt a year or two later, a transformation of some sort had taken place that allowed me to understand it -- or rather, loosened whatever it was that was obscuring the light.

Indeed, it was like entering a vast cathedral, only this time with the lights on. In other worlds, without the Light, an infinite space can appear as a black wall, which is essentially the predicament in which the atheist finds himself. He imagines he's telling us about an objective barrier, when he's really just describing the back of his I-lid. It's difficult to imagine a worldview more banal.

There is a reason that all spiritual traditions speak of "illumination." The visible light we see with our eyes is an analogue and symbol of the light we perceive with the intellect (and of which the intellect is composed).

In other words, the intelligibility of the world is and must be prior to its materiality. To be sure, the spiritual world is an intelligible world, but in order to perceive it, you will require the uncreated light of the awakened intellect, i.e., the nous.

Without activating the latter, you will again be staring at a blank wall (or you will simply have to take someone else's word for it). Jesus will just be a community organizer, if he existed at all. Miracles will merely be statistically rare events instead of vertical lessons. The Bible will be a collection of "flat" or even silly stories instead of simultaneously urgent and timeless memos of infinite depth from the Self to your self, O --> (¶).

A couple of important points before we begin. The book is not about Tarot reading, nor does it have anything to do with the occult or new age.

Rather, the author, who is Catholic -- indeed, the afterword is by none other than Balthasar, and I've seen him name-checked by Ratzinger -- merely uses the twenty two major arcana of the Tarot as a basis for what we call spontaneous verticalisthenics, or theodidactic soul-jazz. It's almost as if he free associates and uses the cards as fixed forms, or unsaturated archetypes, to explore his own incredibly fertile spiritual imagination.

But his ideas are for the most part completely orthodox and intelligible to others, unlike, say, occultists, who may or may not speak truth, but clothe it in idiosyncratic and obscure ways that can be extremely difficult to decode or reproduce.

While earlier in life the author (who was born in 1900 and died in 1973) was a follower of Rudolf Steiner, he broke with that group and converted to Catholicism at the age of 44. In fact, he was booted from Steiner's Anthroposophical Society for being too independent of Steiner (who died in 1925).

Anthroposophy is yet another instance of a spiritually gifted (but erratic) occultist whose fluid ideas are reified by his generally mediocre followers into an orthodoxy: the master ruins the disciples and vice versa.

Importantly, this is a dynamic that afflicts virtually all groups, as Bion recognized in some of his early papers. Indeed, it is precisely what had happened to Bion's own field of psychoanalysis, as Freud the explorer became Freud the inerrant prophet of a pseudo-religious infra-mystical order.

In relation to orthodoxy, Bion himself was analogous to the "messiah" (a term of art) or mystic who brings new life to the deadened forms, but only in order to return it to first principles.

Similarly, "tea partiers" are aptly named, since they are simply re-animating the timeless principles of the Founders, principles that have been systematically undermined by the left. Truth that isn't regularly rediscovered and lived is subject to entropy, just like everything else (to be perfectly accurate, it is obviously not truth that dissipates, only the person who falls away from it).

The author worked on MOTT in his 60's, and it was originally published posthumously in 1984 (in English in 1985). Although the identity of the author is known, he wished to remain anonymous, so we will respect his wishes and refer to him as Unknown Friend (UF), which is what he calls himself.

As a matter of fact, this is one of the charms of the book, as UF truly is our friend, and a precious one at that. Not only is he our friend, but he will be the invaluable friend and guide of any serious spiritual seeker from now until the end of time. And it is very much a "brotherly" relationship, despite his obvious spiritual eminence.

With regard to my post the other day about the person who was asking for spiritual guidance, UF is a fine example of how one may form a living relationship with a saint, sage, mystic or mentor, despite the person no longer being an active biological concern. The fact is, they are very much alive, but they will only come to life in the dynamic transitional space between you and them. But how is this different from any other deep friendship?

For example, I naturally love my family, but I also love the space it simultaneously creates and exists in. This can go unappreciated, but it is the background context of my whole life. It is the space in which I live and breathe. I suspect I'd feel rather hemmed in and oppressed without it.

By the way, I'm basically engaging in this verticalisthenic exercise for my own benefit, so I'm going to try and pretend you folks aren't here. This is because I need a break from us. Therefore, it's time for Bob's Unconscious to take the wheel of the cosmic bus, and Bob's Unconscious lives in its own Private Idaho, although, at the same time, this particular Idaho is a universal Wedaho.

In other words, we all share the same deep un- (or supra-) conscious, so paradoxically, the further away I get from you, the closer we are (and that includes you, Bob). Or in otherer words, the conscious ego is more atomistic and particle-like, whereas the vertical world is more wavy and nonlocal.

One thing we like about MOTT is its jazz sensibility, of which Bob has written in the past. To improvise means to stand up and play "over" the group. But to produce great jazz, one must simultaneously be a part of the group while transcending it. This complementarity is the key, and I think it embodies a general lesson, almost a koan. That is, Man is the group animal whose very groupishness is the matrix out of which his individuality emerges.

To be an individual is to live on the surface of the group, so to speak, but with roots deep within it. A narcissist fails to appreciate the importance of the group in making the individual possible, as if he could exist without it. And yet, the collective could never be the "end" of our existence, as leftists believe. Which is why the left is such a graveyard of true individuality, an anonymous (in the negative, pre-personal sense) herd of predictable barketypes.

I suppose it's somewhat analogous to the body/mind relationship. One cannot have a mind without a body, but to reduce the mind to the body is to do away with the person and our very reason for existence. Or again, one could say that this reflects the exoteric/esoteric, or inner/outer, complementarity of religion.

Anyway, we're just going to riff on UF's riffing, and see where it takes us, beginning with the Foreward.

Here we are tipped off at the outset to the jazz sensibility of our Unknown Friend, who writes of his alignment with a venerable tradition that unites "a spirit of free research with one of respect for tradition." In so doing, his purpose is to "incarnate" his own words within this tradition, or to make his words flesh, so to speak.

Again, it is this organicity that one must appreciate, as our Unknown Friend comes to life before us. He will not just evoke a link between us and him, or between you and the great community of spirits who have preceded us on this earth. Rather, he is tossing down a vertical lifeline that orients us to the cosmic center:

For the links in the chain of the tradition are not thoughts and efforts alone; they are above all living beings who were thinking these thoughts and willing these efforts. The essence of the tradition is not a doctrine, but rather a community of spirits from age to age.

So jump into the living waters of this great river, and prepare to meet thy Ocean.

I guess this would be the book's most famous reader. That's the two-volume German edition at the bottom of the pile, right below the poems of Suzanne Somers.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Physician, Get Over Thyself, and Learn Something from The Life of Brian

Lord have mercy. I pray I have given a good account.

As you know, yesterday's was a repost. Readers responded with an enthusiastic "tails up," so I decided to check out the comments on the original post from five years ago, not just to gauge the reaction, but to mine them for new material.

Some readers chimed in with their own advice, but one comment stands out. After a lengthy, detailed, and helpful deuscourse on the difficulties of the path, longtime reader Brian says,

Lord have mercy. I pray I have given a good account.

This summarizes my ambivalent reaction to any positive feelings generated by yesterday's post -- not "thank the Lord," but rather, "Lord have mercy on me, a winner!," because now I own it. It very much reminds me of an aphorism of Don Colacho:

No one should dare, without trembling, to influence anyone's destiny.

Or how about, Wisdom comes down to not showing God how things should be done.

And from the complementary perspective, another aphorism: Nothing is more unforgivable than voluntarily imprisoning ourselves in another's convictions, when we should be trying to break through even the bars in the dungeon of our own intelligence.

So if things don't work out, it's your own fault for believing me. Reader waives all liability. Unprofessional seeker on a closed course. Offer void if revelation is altered or not used in a manner consistent with divine instructions.

In response to my warning to off-road aspirants and freelance seekers who attempt to go it alone, reader Squishy objected that:

"I think you do a disservice to those who shun tradition and seek out their own paths. There are mystical truths to be had everywhere, and it seems there are modes of knowing them as numerous as there are discernible bits of human culture to concentrate upon and unify with."

Which brings to mind a comment by Schuon, that "there are no metaphysical or cosmological reasons why, in exceptional cases, direct intellection should not arise in men who have no link at all with revealed wisdom, but an exception, if it proves the rule, assuredly could not constitute the rule"; and "an accident does not take the place of a principle."

True, the spirit blows where it will, but not only where it will. Rather, there are cosmic weather patterns, areas of heat and light, land and water, fire and ice.

In response to Squishy, Brian suggested that "the historico-spiritual record flatly contradicts your thesis. I do not think there are one in a million people remotely capable of being a free-spirit and actually achieving theoria of an elevated kind without the support of a singular tradition. St. Anthony the Great had to escape Alexandria and spent 30 years alone in the desert before he finally 'got it' on his own -- 30 years of private struggle! And this in a time when hardship was the norm. And let's not forget Buddha spending all those years looking for his middle-way. What age did he finally achieve his satori? Do not think you can re-invent the wheel so easily.

"No, those who claim that just anyone can go off on their own and enter spiritual warfare without the support and guidance of an active and knowledgeable community, a tradition with experience in fighting those battles, is almost certain to only find delusion rather than theosis. Too many earnest monks (Christian, Buddhist, and others) have discovered that to their dismay.

"So Squishy, the very idea is an invitation to failure from the start, since it begins with the assumption of individual autonomy, and a severe lack of humility -- these are the very things that have to be fought before theoria can occur. It is like a boy-child thinking he can step into the ring with Rocky Balboa and prevail rather than being reduced to a bloody pulp -- not pretty.

"If you, or anyone, is truly serious about this stuff, do what all those who have actually 'been there done that' advise -- commit to a tradition which has a heavy emphasis on and support for ascetic disipline (I recommend Orthodox Christianity), find a spiritual mentor, and really really listen to what he says, and really really DO what he tells you. Enlightenment, theoria, and theosis begin with obedience and humility -- all traditions agree on that."

This is no different than when one is sick, or, as Cousin Dupree reminds me, when one is in trouble with the law. He is not the first self-styled lawyer with a fool for a client. And physician, get over thyself!

PSGInfinity commented that he would be delighted to see Squishy succeed, "but I'm not optimistic. [A] spiritual journey starts out as an apprenticeship, wherein you learn the ropes from more experienced (inner)spacefarers. Most human endeavors requiring an apprenticeship do so precisely because the apprenticeship process shortens an error-filled learning curve. So good luck, and beware the pitfalls of addiction..."

Another long-time reader, Alan, suggested that "The first step is to realize you are really asleep and not alive. The second is to work on remaining awake -- knowing that you are. Everything flows from those two steps."

In other words, wake up and stay that way. You know, watch and pray. Alan reminds us of Jesus' words, that "The thief comes but to steal, and kill, and destroy. I have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly."

Brian was unusually frisky that day. He writes that "There is a paradox in spiritual learning. The further you advance on the path, the more you realize how far you are from the goal. This has been the most humbling realization for me, the knowledge that I can never graduate and get my sheepskin from the 'U. of the Most Holy.'"

Amen to that. If this weren't the case, then I should have pretty much finished arguing my case a million words ago, but instead, I've apparently just cleared my throat.

Brian continues: "You can never stop and enjoy the view, because the moment you do, you fall into pride, and the fall is all that much greater the more you have actually progressed -- one mistake can be literally (and eternally) fatal. So I say to you, you know not of what you speak. Spirituality is a life and death game, the teacher is not books and universities but rather life and death themselves. It's a hard lesson, especially for those who are most intellectually talented."

I would respectfully modify that somewhat, because I believe there is a complementarity involved, of simultaneously "enjoying" but never being satisfied. We eat for today, but that doesn't mean we don't have to work for tomorrow's harvest. There is both "movement" toward the center, while abiding in it.

Brian warns of reducing God to a manageable concept, or of trying to contain Spirit within the boundaries of reason, O within (k):

"The Logos that can be named is not the true Logos. Squishy, with all due respect, your wish-fullfillment fantasy is to make the spiritual intellectual, because then the endeavor seems manageable, achievable, something you can do on your own in the privacy of your own home. I know this because I've been where you are (as have many many others), and even now there is always a strong temptation to reduction, just as scientists constantly battle their temptation to reduce everything to physics. That is your block (and perhaps your permanent cross to bear), the temptation to reductionism, and your pride in thinking you can do that without consequence.

"Listen, the history of spirituality [demonstrates] that transmission of teachings is easy, like any human discipline. However, realization of Truth and then living that Truth is a wholly different matter. The followers of Christ and Buddha, for example, were invariably blockheads, no matter how many ways they received the teaching. The Apostles, for example, didn't get it until Pentecost, until after Christ had shown the way by His life. You are called to follow and abandon blockheadedness -- we all are.

Not sure why Brain is a reader, since he already gets Bob: "There is an absolute and divine Truth. It is a necessary precondition for all logic, morality, and intelligibility -- it is Logos. An aspect of this truth is that we are all blockheads who keep thinking we can 'forge a path anew' and expect to arrive at the same place -- this is the hubris of the philosophers. There is no bootstrap solution -- we are fallen creatures in desperate need of outside assistance. The good news is that we have received that assistance. Descartes was all wrong when he started with himself cogitating. God is precogital."

I say -- and Brian would no doubt agree -- pre- and post-, Alpha and Omega, ground and destiny, source and goal.

Brian concludes by invoking the need to "Begin with humility -- pray for it -- empty yourself of pride, for this is the spiritual method at its core. Only then will there be space for the spirit to begin working within you. This is the first step, and the second, and the third, until the day you die, and beyond...

"Lord have mercy. I pray I have given a good account."

Ditt(o).

A genuine vocation leads the writer to to write only for himself: first out of pride, then out of humility. --Don Colacho's Aphorisms

Related: Why is it So Hard to Become a Better Person?