Portrait of the Blogger as a Young Quinquagenarian
"I find that, as the days go by, there is a re-organization and consolidation of life about a new center. The thrill of new Awakening, that at first so dominates and sweeps personal consciousness, gradually becomes a quiet steadiness on a level of new confidence. I cannot say I feel any regret for the old life. I do not find any inhibition that would restrain me from dipping into any phase of old experience if I desired and found it convenient to do so. I do not feel the restless urge for outer adventure that formerly I felt so strongly."
The thing about real spiritual growth -- like any real growth -- is that it brings changes that one wouldn't necessarily have willed, any more than, say, a pre-pubescent child wills puberty.
Or, to paraphrase George Costanza, just when you get used to puberty, here comes middle age and all its attendant changes. I was finally comfortable with being uncomfortable with myself, and now I'm back in high school again, a freshman quinquagenarian. Hope I don't get hazed by the sextagenarian, septuagenarian, and octogenarian stalemen!
Likewise, sometimes, or perhaps usually, spiritual change can be rather disorienting, as the old interests that once oriented oneslife "drop away" and one reorganizes around a new center. This "unexpectedness" is one of the hallmarks of real change and growth -- a kind of seal of authenticity -- and it is again the exact opposite of that which is typically promised by the new agers and integralists, such as this appalling gobshite:
Look at that scheming visage. Would you pay cash money for used or even new karma from a guy like that?
If one attempts to will spiritual change from below, one generally ends up with a bloated and vainglorious ego, not any kind of genuine spiritual transformation, which requires surrender and then acceptance, even resignation, not to mention trials, pop quizzes, and a final exam, before anything is accomplished, let alone It.
But if you know ahead of time that you will simply be granted whatever your wretched ego desires, what kind of change is that? This will not redeem the ego, but further harden it by fostering the illusion that it can have perfect happiness on its own terms, in its spiritually fallen state. Schuon expresses it well:
"We must tend towards Perfection because we understand it and therefore love it, and not because we desire that our ego should be perfect. In other terms, we must love and realize a virtue because it is true and beautiful, and not because it would become us if we possessed it.... One must realize the virtues for their own sake, and not in order to make them 'mine'.... Moreover, it is not we who possess a virtue, it is a virtue which possesses us."
A state sponsored (via PBS) schlack peddler such as Dyer would be out of business if he spoke the dire truth, which is more like Ask not what God can do for you, but what you can do for God. Dyer is practicing the satanic arts (I mean that literally, not in a polemical or insulting manner), in that he is simply employing such commonplace modes as seduction and hypnosis over the spiritually untutored and unchurched, who will believe "anything." Like Schuon, he would sell few books if he were to convey hard spiritual truths such as
"Much is said about the subtle illusions and seductions which lead the spiritual pilgrim astray from the straight path and provoke his fall. Now, these illusions can only seduce him who desires some benefit for himself, such as powers or dignities or glory." But he who "seeks nothing earthly, so that he is indifferent to being forgotten by the world," "such a man possesses true poverty and nothing can seduce him."
This is what I meant the other day in my comment about being "beyond cynicism." These vulgar atheists imagine that they are the cynics, but I went through that phase by the time I was ten or eleven years old. To put it another way, people like Dawkins and Harris, or ex-people such as Hitchens, are speaking from and to ten year old rebellious cynics. Done there been that.
Me, I'm am also beyond nihilism, as I've circled back round to the great Nothing-Everything that is its source and ground. For "In true poverty, there remains only existence pure and simple, and existence is in its essence Being, Consciousness and Beatitude. In poverty there remains nothing more for man than what he is, thus all that is" (Schuon).
It is not that matter or sensation are shunned -- perish the thought! -- but that our priorities are straight, and we have the proper balance between inner and outer, celestial and terrestrial, I and Thou. The point is not to deny the exterior, but "to remove oneself from its seductive tyranny" (Schuon). In real spiritual transformation, the inner takes precedence over the outer, through which the latter becomes "enriched" in a compensatory manner. The converse can never occur -- that is, enriching your exterior will never result in an interior transformation of the spiritual substance, only in a dying sack of tool's gold which you'll be forced to take with you.
To put it another way, you cannot will your destiny, at least until you have truly recognized it. And even then, once it is recognized, one mainly senses it in subtle ways, such as a sense of "being on the right track."
I would compare it to a kind of vehicle that is guided by a nonlocal morphogenetic field. It is like trying to learn how to steer within this nonlocal field, and one must be quite sensitive to do this. I imagine it is somewhat similar to how certain animals have an interior guidance system that allows them to migrate back home, only transposed to a higher key. We all have this spiritual homing device as part of our standard equipment, but it is not like a two-dimensional map, much less a linear train track.
This oming deivoice allows us to apprehend ever so subtle indicators that our idiom is near -- in abook, aperson, amyth, avision, adaydream, anobject, anandithing. It is as if we project it slightly ahead of ourselves, and respond to the projection. To have "no direction" is the quintessence of the spiritually alienated state. One of the most painful consequences of the hellhounds of clinical depression and anxiety is that they rob the person of spiritual direction, and therefore meaning.
On the other hound, depression can be a sort of "divine gift" if one uses it as an occasion to reclaim one's spiritual destiny and get back on the right track. Indeed, I would imagine that most Raccoons have at one time or another been shown their fate in the form of depression, despair, meaninglessness, etc., which was then a jumping off point for rediscovering their destiny.
The fated person, as Bollas writes, "is fundamentally interred in an internal world of self and object representations that endlessly repeat the same scenarios," and "has very little sense of a future that is at all different from the internal environment they carry around with them. The sense of fate is a feeling of despair to influence the course of one's life." Not for nothing is Groundhog Day considered one of the more profound spiritual parables ever to make it to film.
"A sense of destiny, however, is a different state, when the person feels he is moving in a personality progression that gives him a sense of steering his course." It is as if the future is able to "reach back" or down and touch the now, whereas the fated person is trapped by the past reaching forward and strangling the present:
"Instead of feeling the energy of the destiny drive and of 'possessing' futures which nourish the person in the present and creatively serve to explore pathways for potential travel, the fated person only projects the oracular" -- by which Bollas means the oppressive and mystifying voice of the dead and unalterable past. As a result, they "repress" their own living future, as it is just too painful to contemplate what might have been if only it could have been.
Sometimes, such a person will wallow in their fate as a way to compensate for the loss of their destiny -- like amor fati, minus the amor). Here again, one thinks of the victim culture of the left. But this is a real sin, for man has a right "to suffer from an injustice in so far as he cannot rise above it, but he must make an effort to do so; in no case has he the right to sink into a pit of bitterness, for such an attitude leads to hell" (Schuon).
Mother.... prays now, she says, that I may learn in my own life and away from home and friends what the heart is and what it feels. Amen. So be it! Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race. --Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man