Monday, October 31, 2011

The Coming Present Collapse of the Spiritual Bubble

Well, everything appears to be back to normal. With the exception of the will to blog, the absence of which may well be the new normal. It was certainly the old normal, i.e, pre-October 2005. Time will tell.

Meanwhile, continuing with Meditations on the Tarot, our Unknown Friend makes the extremely important point that "the existence of the universe is rendered possible by the act of contraction of God within himself. God made a 'place' for the world in abandoning a region inferior to himself."

This is in conformity with the Kabbalistic idea of tsimtsum, or "the withdrawal of God in order to create freedom." It adds a vital dimension to the otherwise unthinkable idea of creatio ex nihilo. In other words, it helps us to think about the nothing with which the cosmos is made. For as every pneumanaut knows, the cosmos is a very real present absence; compared to the Absolute, it is nothing. And yet, it is. But how is it? How can nothing be something?

As follows: "in order to create the world ex nihilo, God had first to bring the void into existence. He had to withdraw within in order to create a mystical space, a space without his presence -- the void. And it is in thinking this thought that we assist in the birth of freedom." [I would add that since we are in the image of the Creator, we must do something analogous to "give birth" to the Word, i.e., "withdraw" and create a space for him.]

This is why the Void is such a "pregnant mystery," so to speak. Our own subjectivity is aglow with the absent-presence of the divine Subject. The realm of the "mysterious" is not at all synonymous with "ignorance"; rather, it is a mode of knowing. More precisely, it is a mode of unKnowing, a paradoxical "unthought-known" that coincides with the Creator's absent-presence.

[Says Meister Eckhart, coincidentally, "Though it may be called a nescience, an unknowing, yet there is in it more than in all knowing and understanding without it, for this unknowing lures and attracts you from all understood things, and from your [lower] self as well" (emphasis mine); note also the subtext of what it means to be an "unKnown Friend."]

Nine out of ten authentic mystics agree that the unKnown God is "superior" to the known God. How could it not be so? It is foolish to imagine that we could ever contain the uncontainable within our borrowed being. It would be like taking out a loan from the bank in order to try to buy the bank. And we all know where that leads....

If you think the financial credit bubble was bad, just wait until the bill comes due on the vast fortune secular society has borrowed from religion. There is a huge spiritual bubble at the foundation of materialism, scientism, secularism, and leftism, and I don't want to be around when it bursts. No, check me on that. I do want to be around, since it is happening before our eyes.

But so too does this bubble exist on an individual basis. The leftist is puffed up and inflated with a host of morals and other truths he has purloined from the church. Thus, he is not so much a legitimate borrower as a cosmic criminal and thief.

One can well appreciate why classical liberalism is such a hard sell, being that freedom is an echo of the haudible nothing that makes our very existence possible.

In other words, a conservative, in order to be true to his principles, must promise nothing. He must swear to protect our God-given nothing -- our natural rights -- from the enemies who would misappropriate it, and he must always endeavor to give the people more of the nothing they deserve.

While people such as the OWS protesters cry for "social justice," this is actually the last thing they want, since justice means getting what one deserves. And that would resemble a Boschian vision of hell. Or worse, an OWS encampment.

In contrast to the conservative liberal, the illiberal leftist promises everything, but in so doing usurps our precious nothing until there's nothing left of it. The leftist gives us something for nothing, which is a terrible bargain.

The leftist state is like the bad mother who anticipates our needs before we can even feel them, so we become an enfeebled nobody instead of a robust nothing. From there it is a mere step from being a full-blown EUnuch who can't even be bothered to reproduce. Soon there won't be enough children to feed all the hungry grown-ups, at which time the Muslims will devour them.

As UF further explains, the mystical space of nothing is not only the space of freedom, but of potential. Therefore, it is not an empty nothing, but a plenum that is filled with unborn preconceptions that will become future realizations once they are properly fertilized and conceived.

Why does tiny Israel have more patents in a year than the entire Muslim world in a hundred (or thousand or whatever it is)? Because the Muslim world cannot tolerate the nothingness of freedom. Instead, its people are swaddled in an allah-too-present, "in your face" god who gives no slack. And yet, I am quite sure there are Sufi teachings compatible with the ideas we are discussing today.

Just as "the bigger the state, the smaller the citizen," the bigger the God the smaller the person. Previously we have highlighted the "smallness" of a God who is not only an anonymous peasant born in the back of beyond, but who is crucified in history as a common criminal. Can't get much smaller than that! But look what grew out of that tiny seed.

The divine withdrawal and creatio ex nihilo are also related to the idea of kenosis (the self-emptying of God) and the crucifixion. In fact, you could also say that these ideas are linked to sacrifice, in that God becomes "nothing" in order for you to become "something." It is better for you that I go away, because when I do, the Holy Spirit will come along to help refill your empty tanks.

Obama may be our president, but he will never be our meister, much as he would like to be. For our Master rules by his intrinsic authority, which can only be freely recognized in his absence.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Viral Adventures!

Time enough for a comment on this strange malady. No, not that one! This viral syndrome or whatever it is.

It began quite suddenly Sunday morning. I was absolutely fine on Saturday. Pitched in my son's little league game and mountain biked in the afternoon.

But Sunday morning I began feeling generalized aching in my joints -- ankles, wrists, back, everywhere -- plus a headache. I thought maybe it was just because I hadn't biked in awhile, and maybe strained some muscles or jostled some joints and triggered an inflammatory response.

But then, Sunday night, my back was on fire. No, not inside. Rather, the skin. No redness or rash. Nor did I feel at all feverish. But Mrs. G could feel the heat coming off of me. Felt like I could fry an egg on my back. So we did, which was nice.

I was puzzled by the whole thing. I'm thinking, "either this is a kundalini awakening, or something weird is going on."

Monday I was wiped out. The fire was gone, but the skin was real sensitive to the touch. Plus mentally not there. Incapable of work. But I did finish Gilson's book on the spirit of medieval philosophy, so I was still capable of comprehension. Just no will.

Monday night I sweated like crazy, Tuesday night even more, even though I still didn't feel at all feverish. This always happens to me after a cold or flu, so I thought it was a good sign.

By Wednesday afternoon, I felt pretty good, but still kept an appointment with my nurse practitioner. Said it was probably viral, possibly even shingles. We could runs lots of expensive tests to investigate further, but since I was getting better anyway, why bother? Let her know if it gets worse.

I haven't developed any rash, but apparently shingles can occur without one. But I do have a distinct dermatome running below the rib cage toward the navel, where the skin is still sensitive, but that's going away.

Apparently, the shingles virus attacks one of the nerve roots that comes out of the spine, affecting the skin it connects to, hence the fire.

Anyway, it seems to have almost resolved. Today I feel ready for game seven. Weird, though, to have had something one has never had before....

And I shudder at the thought that I am now an official geezer -- Topic A being one's health -- like our troll who loves to obsessively share too much information about his bodily functions.

Anyone else have any close encounters of the viral kind to report? It seems that if nothing else, these viral adventures make for a good yarn, each type of virus with its own tale to tell. I can imagine it yelling tell my story to the worllllllld, as it is being destroyed by the fascists of immune system.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Another Open Thread

while I cope with this annoying viral syndrome of the indeterminate sort. Can sill master the basics, but not the extras.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Open Thread

Too much to do.

It occurs to me that Beatle George was the first person who got me interested in religion, what with his lifelong passion for the Vedanta. And come to think of it, his Taxman was my first exposure to classical economics.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Accidently-on-Purpose Essence of the Left

To summarize yesterday's post, "the subject partakes of the Absolute through its capacity for objectivity" (Schuon).

And as we saw, it is possible for man to be objective with regard to the natural/horizontal/quantitative world -- which wasn't controversial until the emergence of postmodern critical theory -- just as it is possible to be objective (i.e., to have accurate in-sight) with regard to the subjective/vertical world of qualities.

Indeed, the only thing in the world we may know directly and without mediation is the subject.

As the One bifurcates into absolute and infinite, or time and space, the object -- in a manner of speaking -- bifurcates into immanence and transcendence. We might say that immanence is the intelligible object, while transcendence is the comprehending subject.

But beneath this they are obviously "one in truth"; or, truth reveals their underlying unity, to be precise. Thus, any act of truth both reveals and is predicated upon the One; and the One is none other than the single Truth embodied in knower and known.

In any act of truth, "the essential takes precedence over the accidental" (Schuon). Conversely, lying liars and the lies they tell are always rooted in the accidental. You will have noticed that the first and last refuge of the leftist is a rapid retreat into the accidental, often for the very purpose of denying their own first principles, i.e., essence.

Pretty abstract, Bob. Example?

Okay, let us say that racial discrimination is wrong. The essence of this belief is rooted in our first principle, that all men are created equal.

The leftist also says that discrimination is wrong. Bueno. We agree. But in the very next breath, the leftist says that he wants to make it against the law to overlook race in hiring, college admissions, mortgages, and government contracts. "Wait a minute -- I thought you just said... "

"Shut up, racist!"

That last vulgarism reveals the leftist's actual first principle, which is that people who disagree with him are evil. It is one of the master keys to understanding the otherwise incoherent and intellectually dishonest ranting of the leftist. Slander, vilification, smearing -- these are "of the essence," not at all accidental. As we know, the leftist "believes he refutes an opinion by accusing the holder of that opinion of immorality" (Don Colacho).

The important point about a thought is its essence, not the accidents it comes clothed in -- language, skin color, class, gender, etc. Consequently, the left assures its own perpetual ignorance by systematically reducing conservative thought to its supposed hidden "motivations."

The same applies to the leftist's typical analysis of religion -- e.g., that people bitterly cling to their religious faith because of, say, economic insecurity. In true Marxian fashion, Obama will eliminate our economic insecurity and hence "cure" the citizenry of its religiosity.

Say, how's that workin' out for ya'?

Another example? Okay, yesterday I linked to a thoughtful video by Bill Whittle that so happens to reveal some essential things about the left. The leftist's considered response: "Bill Whittle is a moron."

Instead, we should learn our economics from this oddly smirking and cheerily passive-aggressive dude (do not attempt to endure more than a few minutes) who insists that we should indeed vilify "Wall Street" -- remember the leftist must vilify someone or something -- for the recession that ended in June of 2009. Failure to do so is analogous to failure to properly diagnose salmonella.

Notice that there is no interest in pursuing that thought to where it inevitably leads, i.e., "hey, how did those henhouse mothercluckers on Wall Street catch salmonella?," for it ends in vilification of the wrong entity: the state, and that is a thought the leftist must avoid at all costs. Indeed, the very purpose of "blaming Wall Street" is to misdirect our attention and seal our ignorance.

Notice also that the left, very much in contrast to its nihilistically libertine self-image, is all about "legislating morality," for what is morality but mastery of our impulses? But how exactly will legislation eliminate any of the seven deadly sins, greed included? What about government sloth? Hollywood lust? Racial pride? Economic envy? Michael Moore's gluttony?

Thus, "the left's theses are trains of thought that are carefully stopped before they reach the argument that demolishes them" (Don Colacho). And to paraphrase DC, a vocabulary of ten words is sufficient for the leftist to explain everything. Those ten would include racism, sexism, homophobia, greed, and "corporations."

Back to our main topic. "Perfect objectivity" would represent "perfect adequation of the knowing subject to the known object" (Schuon).

As such, this would coincide with the "perfect objectivity" of God, and the consequences that flow from this, e.g., truth, beauty, justice, virtue, etc. Each of these involves a harmony between principle and manifestation, appearance and reality, accident and essence. These are our "north stars," even though they can never be "perfect" in the herebelow. Rather: thy will be done in the terrestrial horizontal as it is in the celestial heaven.

Another key principle: "To say objectivity is to say totality" (Schuon) on every level. Thus, the fact that there is totality (or wholeness) at all derives from this higher (or deeper) principle of unity and totality.

Therefore, we have relatively autonomous domains represented by such disciplines as physics, biology, neurology, etc. And if any horizontaloid tries to tell you exactly how these relatively autonomous planes relate to one another, he is lying -- first to himself, then to you. For the distance between, say, matter and truth, is absolutely infinite (the bad kind) and unbridgeable from the bottom up. You cannot get here from there.

Now, a religion is a "cosmic totality," so to speak. Its purpose is, or should be, to provide a framework with which to situate ourselves and think about everything. In contrast, various sub-disciplines have sharp boundaries that prevent any such totality.

For example, physics leaves off where biology begins. There is some overlap, of course, but nothing truly essential.

To put it another way, physics is a necessary cause of biology, but not a sufficient one. The same applies to the relationship between biology and psychology. There is again much overlap, but the idea that truth or beauty could be reduced to biological categories is plainly absurd.

One of the things our friend Gödel teaches us is that a system can be complete or consistent, but not both. A "perfectly consistent" system will be incomplete, while a "perfectly complete" system will be inconsistent.

This applies to religious doctrines no less than scientific paradigms. Thus, a given religion can be more or less complete or "total," just like anything else. And yet, it seems that all religions claim this totality for themselves.

But this cannot be true. For example, Islam claims totality, but at the expense of key principles such as Incarnation, Trinity, and Resurrection. Conversely, Christianity has no fundamental objection to prophecy, so long as it is divinely inspired and true.

Out of time. To be continued...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Absolute Cosmic Bullshit of the Left

A few days ago I wrote that "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."

In response, reader Gabe Ruth wrote that he struggles "with seeing that this is self-evident. Are you saying that it is (self-evident)? I guess I mean more precisely, are you saying that the physical world cannot be the Absolute, and we can know this?"

Yes to the self-evidence of the first; and yes, the physical (I would say natural) world is not and cannot be absolute. I affirm that the Absolute Is, and that it is not the natural world; or, to put it in a less saturated way: O Is, and O is not ø. An even simpler way would be: O.

In contrast, it is not quite right to say that ø is not; rather, it both is and is not, since its "isness," or being, is borrowed from O. In other words, while the the Absolute is absolute, it necessarily entails relativity. Conversely, the relative cannot be absolute, for absolute relativity is an absurdity. Therefore, O entails ø, while ø implies O. Which is why one is only "nothing" to the extent that one is detached from God, or O. ø is always "manmade," similar to the idea that God sends no one to hell who hasn't chosen it for themselves.

In a typically lucid but extremely pregnant (yes, you can be more than a little pregnant) formulation, Schuon writes that "The prerogative of the human state is objectivity, the essential content of which is the Absolute."

Let's break that down. Unlike any other creature, the human being is capable of standing "outside" or "above" himself in a disinterested way, and apprehending the objective truth of things. If this were not the case, then science would be impossible, not to mention any practical notion of justice. Our judicial system is predicated on the idea that twelve human beings can consider the objective facts in a disinterested manner in order to arrive at a verdict. (The same applies a fortiori to constitutional democracy, without which there can be no "political justice.")

This notion of objectivity applies both to the within and without, or to the object and the subject. This is obvious in the case of science, since it is again founded on the idea that one may know the world in a disinterested and objective manner.

But what about the subject? Isn't it by nature "subjective?" Well, first of all, if that were entirely true, then science would be impossible, because all knowing would be fatally contaminated by subjectivity. But clearly, the subject partakes of objectivity, which is how and why it is able to know objectively.

The same applies to knowledge of the subject. For example, a routine part of conducting a psychological evaluation involves assessing a patient's capacity for what is called "insight." What this essentially boils down to is the ability to reverse one's gaze and look at oneself in an objective manner. It may come as a surprise to you -- maybe not -- how few people are capable of this. Generally speaking, the sicker the person, the less insight.

Really, it is astonishing what most people don't know about themselves. I often think to myself, "my God, I know more about this person in five minutes than they have learned about themselves in 50 years." I mean, really. What a strange way to live!

I might add that I am not necessarily speaking of the usual defense mechanisms such as repression or projection, through which the person systematically denies and splits off an unwanted part of the self. Rather, I am thinking of something more analogous to pre-scientific cultures that have not yet established the psychic capacity to view nature objectively. Obviously, science can only take place if the psyche isn't entangled with nature, so the latter can be apprehended in an objective manner.

The same applies to psychic reality, i.e., the self. In both cases, what is required is the colonization of a third dimension that "lifts" oneself, so to speak, above the flow of phenomena.

For example, in order to be a historian one must rise above history and regard its temporal passage from a higher vantage point. Likewise, in order to be a scientist of any kind, one must rise above nature. And in order to be a psychologist -- an adequate one, anyway -- one must have this same capacity as applied to the flow of psychic experience.

Schuon goes on to write that "There is no knowledge without objectivity of the intelligence," which is a very compact way of saying what we have just said above. Knowledge, intelligence, and objectivity are interrelated in ways we don't necessarily appreciate.

And we certainly don't appreciate the implications of this epistemological trinity. Indeed, for 50 or 100 or 150 years -- depending on where one draws the line -- the psychospiritual left has been engaged in a jihad against objectivity, which means that it is by definition at war with intelligence and truth.

Oh. That's explains a lot, doesn't it? Here, let Bill Whittle spell it out for you:

Note that Critical Theory applies to everything and everyone except the person who wields it. Which is why we have a kind of insight into the motivations of the left, of which the typical liberal is utterly bereft.

And how does the leftist deal with this? By projecting it into conservatives and fantasizing about the nature of our hidden motivations. But in order to do this in a productive manner, one must first have self-awareness, or personal insight. This is why a good therapist should undergo a lengthy personal therapy before he gets near a patient.

So liberals always deal with conservative arguments by imputing hidden malevolent (never benign) motivations, often in frankly absurd ways. The latest is that conservatives who support Herman Cain are racists. How can this be, you ask? I mean, liberals were obsessed with Obama's race, whereas conservatives couldn't care less about Cain's. But as Taranto helpfully explains, "white Republicans are so racist that they're willing to elect a black man president just to keep black people down. The absurdity of that formulation underscores the left's desperation to keep the idea of racism alive."

Now, just as there can be no knowledge without objectivity of the intelligence, "there is no freedom without objectivity of the will" and "no nobility without objectivity of the soul" (Schuon). This explains why the left's attack on objectivity redounds to the erosion of freedom, but also nurtures the awesome nobility of these elevated human beings:

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Freedom, Reality, and the Power of Stupidity

All false religions -- and true religions falsely understood -- aspire to power rather than truth. The worship of power is, according to Unknown Friend, the source of all idolatry. We transparently see this in the new age movement, but also in traditional religious circles whenever God's absolute omnipotence eclipses man's freedom, and therefore, real existence. For reality and freedom are directly related, in the sense that if something isn't free, it is just a part of something that is; or, the whole is always more free than the part.

New agers basically co-opt religion for the purposes of exalting themselves and bolstering their own narcissism. As UF puts it, they want to "develop their own greatness without the rival grandeur of the Divine to discomfort them." This exercise is "fundamentally infantile," and atheists are certainly right to reject it.

Consider the titles of some of Deepak Chopra's books: The Book of Secrets: Unlocking the Hidden Dimensions of Your Life. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Pocketbook Guide to Fulfilling Your Dreams. The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire: Harnessing the Infinite Power of Coincidence. Creating Affluence: The A-to-Z Steps to a Richer Life. Perfect Weight. Perfect Health. The Seven Spiritual Laws for Parents: Guiding Your Children to Success and Fulfillment. The Way of the Wizard: Twenty Spiritual Lessons for Creating the Life You Want. Grow Younger, Live Longer.

This is all about the bad kind of gnosis, about some "secret" known only to the elect. Just splash some cash Chopra's way, and you will be blessed with financial success, spontaneous fulfillment of your every desire, perfect health, a long life, and even successful and fulfilled children! (As if one has the magical power to revoke a child's God-given free will, except perhaps by abusing them.)

In all of these books, you will notice that they have nothing to do with knowing God, but with being God. They prey on the rampant narcissism of our age, as if the answer to selfishness, dysfunction, and depression is more of what causes it. It doesn't just fly in the face of the Christian message, but of the central message of all legitimate spirituality, e.g., "If you want to become full / let yourself be empty / If you want to be given everything / give everything up" (Tao Te Ching).

It is no wonder that Chopra is also such a diehard supporter of Obama. He takes quite literally the childish idea that Obama represents a "quantum leap" in consciousness.

But if Chopra's kooky ideas are true, one naturally wonders: why do we need politicians, let alone illiberal statists, at all? In other words, if Deepak has the magical secrets which will fulfill our every desire, why would we care about some silly politician? Don't politicians simply become unnecessary middlemen between us and our desires?

Here again, we see how the anti-religious person cannot help being religious. He can deny truth, but it simply returns in some twisted form. Why would Chopra, of all people, believe in the coercive ideology of leftism, which specifically maintains that people have no power to change their lives for the better without a huge and intrusive state?

For Chopra, the state is the Father, Obama the Son, and high taxes the Ghastly Heist. If he actually believed a word of his books, he wouldn't only be a conservative, but a radical libertarian: just unleash the people and let magic take care of the rest!

UF also discusses the other extreme. I am not -- nor could I ever be -- one of those people who don't worry because "God is in charge." Free will is an irrevocable gift. It cannot be regifted, or revert back to its original owner. In the words of Schuon, we are condemned to freedom, and are always free to fall into the abyss, if that is what we choose. Indeed, this is the source of our dignity.

I am reminded of something a wise Supreme Court justice once said -- something to the effect that if the citizenry wishes to go to hell in a handbag, my job is to help them do so. In other words, this idea that the liberal elites of the Supreme Court are here to rescue the moronic populace through judicial tyranny is a modern innovation.

The purpose of the Supreme Court is not to deny our freedom just because one or two of them don't like what we did with it. I remember when the Supreme Court overturned some obscure sodomy law in Texas. Justice Thomas agreed that the law was "uncommonly silly," but this is utterly beside the point. For if the Supreme Court had the constitutional power to abolish silly laws, Democrats would be out of business overnight. Stupid laws are their raison d'être.

UF makes the critical point that the Christian lives with "the paradox of almighty God reduced to a state of extreme powerlessness." This seemingly counter-intuitive image is said to be "the most perfect revelation of the God of love."

This is quite radically different from the new age belief in a God who would leap down from the cross and, for a paltry $1995.00, sell you the magical secrets of fulfilling your every desire and deepaking your sleeping chopra at a weekend seminar in beautiful Sedona, Arizona, with one of Time Magazines top 100 heroes and icons of the 20th century!

It seems that many religious people, instead of overtly adopting the Chopraesque narcissistic grandiosity, simply project it onto the deity. It's the same infantile process, only externalized. As UF writes,

"their faith in God depends only on the power of God; if God was powerless, they would not believe in him. It is they who teach that God has created souls predestined to eternal damnation and others predestined to salvation; it is they who make God responsible for the entire history of the human race, including all its atrocities.... God is almighty, therefore all that happens is only able to happen through his action and his consent."

In short, "The idol of power has such a hold on some human minds that they prefer a God who is a mixture of good and evil, provided that he is powerful, to a God of love who governs only by intrinsic authority of the Divine -- by truth, beauty, and goodness -- i.e., they prefer a God who is actually almighty to the crucified God."

What is the point of asking that "thy will be done" on earth as it is in heaven? This implies that in the upper vertical -- the celestial world, so to speak -- God's will is done "automatically," so to speak. But down here in the fog and haze of the lower pneumatosphere -- the terrestrial world, with its messy web of psychic crosscurrents -- this is not necessarily the case.

For there are many vertical degrees of being -- and therefore relatively autonomous horizontal planes -- between the top and bottom. Although God may intervene in this or that plane, he could not abolish the planes altogether -- i.e., the hierarchy -- without canceling out manifest existence entirely. Doing so would be analogous to, say, abolishing cells in order to prevent the possibility of cancer in the body.

Either human existence is real or illusory. If real, then so too is our freedom real. In fact, as UF writes, freedom "is none other than the real and complete existence of a being created by God." In other words, to be "free" and "real" are synonymous terms from the spiritual point of view. For if one is not free, then one is determined by something else -- or just an extension of some other entity that is real, whether genes or God, it doesn't matter.

But what is freedom? Freedom implies a kind of (relatively) absolute wholeness, or center, which is a mirror of the Creator, who is the "Center of centrality" or "Interior of interiority," so to speak.

Therefore, to illegitimately constrain or eliminate freedom is to do away with God. Again, no wonder that the religiously irreligious zealots of the left who reject our natural liberties -- and God -- imagine that government can somehow create freedom when it can only protect or oppose it.

Again: to be free is to exist. For the average OWS leftist who feels "unfree" as a result of some nebulous cabal of bankers, this is merely a projection of his own subjective absence of psychic freedom. To feel controlled by the "1%" is as crazy as a billion Muslims feeling controlled by 15 million Jews.

For the leftist, the state exists, and we become its extensions. Think of it. The average American already works for the state until what, mid-April? How will we be more free if Obama succeeds in moving it forward to mid-May or June, when government expenditures are 50% of GDP?

To the extent that one's mind is inhabited by quasi-autonomous parasites, these intrinsically limit one's freedom. And there's not a thing Obama can do about it. No one else can deliver us from hell or send us to heaven: "Love existence, and you have chosen heaven; hate it, and there you have chosen hell."

Likewise, "God is all-powerful in history in as much as there is faith; and he is crucified in so far as one turns away from him." And the Emperor, or legitimate ruler, reigns by intrinsic authority over free beings. Paradoxically, God must be a kind of "absent presence" at this center of freedom, otherwise we would not really exist.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Restoration of Faith through Reason

Books such as Meditations on the Tarot are generally regarded with suspicion by the typical religious believer, perhaps rightfully so, since it seems that there are no doctrinal safeguards once one is off the groomed slopes of the cosmic mountain and engaged in extreme seeking.

At that point "anything goes," or at least so it seems. There is no way to determine whether the person is speaking truth, whether he is a narcissistic sociopath trawling for attention, or whether he is just eccentric or even insane. Better to just stick with what we know: straight up scriptural revelation, even if it often clashes with other truths of the world, and sometimes flirts with frank absurdity.

This occurred to me in thinking about the idea of a universal metaphysic that is revealed through religion, even while religion can never be reduced to a mere metaphysic. As Schuon writes, "all esoterism appears to be tinged with heresy from the point of view of the corresponding exoterism," for it gives the appearance of man elevating himself above the plain meaning of this or that revelation. It seems to be an invitation for clever knaves to justify anything.

And yet, man has a mind and therefore a will to truth. This mind -- our most precious inheritance -- seeks not just information but understanding. As such, it is impossible for me to believe that our Creator would want us to assent to any doctrine that makes less than total sense to us.

In other words, he wants us to assent not just with body and heart -- or with will and sentiment -- but with our minds. And a mind that assents to what it doesn't understand has devolved to mere will, i.e., the will to believe. This has its place, of course, but faith should be a prelude to understanding, not an end in itself.

This occurred to me while speaking with a friend who is engaged in a "spiritual search," but who is already deeply involved in the Jewish faith. He was raised in a strictly orthodox world, and although he is now involved in a less rigorous branch, he nevertheless has obvious problems with what he regards as a kind of minute attention to iterations of the Law -- for example, avoiding broccoli since there might be a tiny insect lodged inside the flower, or not tearing perforated toilet tissue on the sabbath because it is a form of "work."

That said, he greatly appreciates the wisdom, certain traditions and rituals, the community, and the transmission of values to his children. But in Judaism, one has no right to pick and choose the parts one likes, for where does one draw the line? It reminds me of Neusner's A Rabbi Talks With Jesus, in which he listens to the Sermon on the Mount with "Jewish ears" and likes much of what he hears. But when Jesus places himself above the Law and puts himself in place of the Torah, it's a deal breaker.

In a way, we might say that there is a kind of dialectical flow from experience to doctrine to experience and back to doctrine. For example, Moses had some profound encounters with God, which are embodied in the Torah. Jesus comes along and seems to reverse the sequence, but after Jesus comes the Church that creates an updated doctrine -- the Catechism of the Catholic Church runs to almost 800 pages. But then Protestants come along and reject the whole thing. Protestantism becomes reified, so then numberless sects split off, especially in America, where people take religious experience seriously. But most of them make no sense, and are intellectually negligible.

It's probably easier to accept the idea that various experiences of God are all related, than the notion that there could be a kind of central doctrine that unites particular expressions of it. But this is what Schuon seeks to accomplish; or rather, simply "discern," since he was of the belief that it was already there to see, so long as one is capable of seeing it.

For example, he writes that only an esoteric approach can explain "and restore the lost truth by referring to the total truth; this alone can provide answers that are neither fragmentary nor compromised in advance by denominational bias. Just as rationalism can remove faith, so esoterism can restore it" (emphasis mine).

That is indeed a key point, for it implies that esoterism is a kind of "higher Reason" from which profane reason must be a descent. To paraphrase another comment by Schuon, something isn't true because it is logical, but rather, the reverse: things are logical because they are true.

By definition one cannot ascend to truth via (profane) reason, since reason can only prove the consequences of premises that reason cannot supply. Therefore, any time one accepts a truth, one is operating outside the closed system of logic (which was one of Gödel's points, precisely -- not that truth doesn't exist, but rather, that there are permanent truths not provable by logic).

So the truth embodied in revelation is clearly a descent from something higher. To try to ascend to this truth using only human tools is doomed to failure.

Rather, in order to comprehend it, one must make the effort to conform oneself to the plane from which it arises. This is not fundamentally different from any form of knowledge, say, quantum physics. Try as we might, quantum physics is never going to be reducible to, or explainable in terms of, Newtonian physics. This is because the Newtonian world is a kind of "descent" from the quantum world, the latter of which is "higher" or "deeper," at least theoretically.

Now, truth comes to man in various ways. Sometimes it comes from the outside, as when we were in school. But oftentimes -- especially as we grow older -- truth comes more from within. Schuon writes that the first kind is "formal," as it can be clothed in communicable symbols that are readily transmitted, received, and decoded without too much distortion (math would be the ideal of this form, since it can be conveyed with no loss of meaning at all).

But the interior type of knowledge is "direct and essential," Importantly, this is especially true of revelation, even though it would appear to come from the "outside."

But no one should believe that revelation is in any way analogous to mathematical knowledge that can be conveyed without ambiguity or distortion. Rather, as Schuon explains, the purpose of revelation is to awaken "interior truths" so to speak, by providing us with symbols to think about them, and without which truth is unthinkable. We could still "experience" it, but would be hard pressed to communicate and make sense of it.

Thus, for Schuon, "Revelation is Intellection in the macrocosm, while Intellection is Revelation in the microcosm."

This is again no different from any intelligible reality, for example, physics. In the case of physics, we confront an intelligible world that comes fully encoded in mathematical terms, as if the one mirrors the other.

How is it that the mind of man and the deep structure of the natural cosmos just so happen to harmonize in this transcendent manner? Why, it's almost as if the physical world is the objective instantiation of the math, whereas the mental world is the subjective apprehension of same. One might say that the sensible world is the macrocosmic revelation of mathematical truth, whereas mathematical intelligibility is its subjective revelation in the microcosm.

In any event, there is a Truth and a Way. And this Truth is not, and could never be, fully horizontal or reducible to something less than itself. Rather, it is a descent and appears before us as a hierarchy, as do the modes appropriate to various degrees of reality. One might say that it is a symphony.

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."