Thursday, December 06, 2012

The Intolerable Disparity in Spiritual Wealth

When an irresistible force such as you / Meets an old immovable object like me / You can bet just as sure as you live / Somethin's gotta give / Somethin's gotta give / Somethin's gotta give --Francis Albert

When an irrepressible force such as his meets an implacable heart such as ours, the result is what we call a mystery.

And what is a mystery? It is a necessary consequence of the finite's inexorable attempts to contain the infinite. The infinite is the container, the matrix, the womb, symbolized ♀. Obviously, the contained (symbolized ♂) can never contain that which contains it, although Mary came the closest.

But still we try. Which leads to two big mistakes, the first of which is imagining one has succeeded. This obviously occurs in such anti-intellectual doctrines as atheism, metaphysical Darwinism, and scientism, but also in any ideology more generally. An ideologue always imagines his little ♂ can fill the big mamamatrix of ♀.

In the above case, ♀ (the infinite container) is reduced to ♂ (the finite). The opposite error is to elevate ♂ to ♀, which is what many unreflective and unphilosophical religious types do. It's not nearly as damaging as the first error, unless it is backed by state violence, as in the Islamic world. To paraphrase Sheed, it is always possible to be ignorant and virtuous, even if ignorance is not a virtue.

But in either case, whenever ♂ is divorced from ♀ and then assumes state power, the result is hell on earth, whether in the Islamic world or in the atheistic paradises of communism and National Socialism. Obama's form of socialism is just a slow-motion version of the same psychopneumatic pathology.

Speaking of which, I want to call on Sheed's Theology and Sanity to further explicate this felicitous conjunction of finite, infinite, and mystery. I don't remember what he said about it, but I remember being impressed with his clarity. And sanity.

First of all, it is a matter of intellect and the proper functioning thereof (or again, of sanity). It is the task of intellect "to explore Reality and make its home in it." And we all want a happy home.

But I can't think of a time in history when there has been such a disparity in spiritual wealth, with so many Americans living in the undignified hovels constructed in the public education system prick by prick, others living in grand mansions not built by hands over the centuries. This should be intolerable in a democracy.

The problem begins with a deeply anti-intellectual school system that, instead of nurturing the intellect, denies and extinguishes it. Afterwards, upon attaining chronological adulthood, the only task that remains is getting these ciphers to their polling places in order to ratify their masters and wait for their goody bag from the state.

"The result is that when any matter arises which is properly the job of the intellect, then either nothing gets done at all, or else the imagination leaps in and does it instead." This latter is the province of academia and journalism, when these two have devolved to being tools of the state.

Imagination is fine, so long as it knows its subordinate place in the psyche. But if it doesn't know its place, then it easily dominates the intellect. When this occurs, the imagination puffs itself up with an unearned and worthless intellectual pride. You know the type. It's one of the reasons leftists are so annoying.

So, "imagination plays a part in the mind's affairs totally out of proportion to its merits, so out of proportion to its merits... as to suggest some long-standing derangement in man's nature" (Sheed).

One is tempted here to agree with the left that this is a malady that is especially virulent in females, who are so captive to their imaginations that they will fall for the first politician who offers them sex without consequences, whereas white males are somehow immune to their frivolous and imagination-infused appeals to "free" contraception and the like. But this is not what we believe.

Rather, the Fall is general, and there is no exemption for race or gender or class. Furthermore, the temptation is always there, and we must resist imagination's constant attempts to saturate our psychopneumatic space with some kind of finite formula. The "eleventh commandment" of Raccoons is that we are forbidden under any circumstance to deepak the chopra.

Now, God, the infinite, is unimaginable. This is axiomatic, and if people could just remember it (i.e., the Second Commandment), it would keep them out of a lot of trouble. This includes atheists, who, when they "disprove" their idea of God, imagine they have disproved the unimaginable. But this is impossible, obviously.

However, to say that God is unimaginable is not to say he is inconceivable.

Here again is where the intellect comes in, because the intellect routinely deals with unimaginable realities that are nevertheless conceivable, such as the square root of negative one, or the unvisualizable world of quantum physics, or the big bang. If these evoke a picture in your head, the picture is wrong, just a displacement from the ponderable world of matter.

Thus, "to complain that a spiritual thing is unimaginable would be like complaining that the air is invisible." Air is merely "beyond the reach of one particular sense, namely sight, because it lacks color." And "Spirit is beyond the reach of all the senses (and so of imagination) because it lacks all material qualities" (Sheed).

However, like the wind, you can certainly see, or feel, or hear, the effects of the spirit, i.e., the windy siddhis.

So: "the reality of any spiritual statement must be tested by the intellect, not by the imagination." Yes: test those spirits! For many of them are just demons, zombies, wannabes, professors, etc.

Sheed makes an important point about faith, that it essentially asks us to accept certain saving truths that an intellect "grown flabby with disuse" might be inclined to reject: "Thinking is very hard, and imagining is very easy, and we are very lazy. We have fallen into the habit of using imagination as a crutch, and our intellects have almost lost the habit of walking" (Sheed).

But once you begin engaging in your daily verticalesthenics and gymnostics, you start to lose the flab. And "once the intellect is doing its own work properly, it can use the imagination most fruitfully; and the imagination will find new joy in the service of a vital intellect" (ibid.).

Then, brother, you've got a happy home in your head, with a harmonious and swingin' relationship between ♂ to ♀.

Fight fight fight it with all of your might / Chances are that some heavenly star-spangled night / We'll find out just as sure as we live / Somethin's gotta give / Somethin's gotta give / Somethin's gotta give

19 Comments:

Blogger ge said...

Chris Hillman at the Library of Congress
catching the byrth of the Byrds now!
[at 24 min]

12/06/2012 09:29:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

If these evoke a picture in your head, the picture is wrong ...

Yes, and herein lies one of the problems I always had to fight in math. I have always solved most of my problems by virtually turning over a picture of it in my head (or wherever that is taking place). I reached a point where I realized I needed a bigger head, and I had to turn to intuition.

The Tao that can be spoken of is not the Tao, so they tell me.

12/06/2012 10:58:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I love that Mr. Hillman mentions the Dillards from down home, aka "The Darling Boys".

12/06/2012 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

This includes atheists, who, when they "disprove" their idea of God, imagine they have disproved the unimaginable. But this is impossible, obviously.

The funny thing about atheists is that to some degree, we are in agreement: I don't believe in the god they don't believe in, either...

12/06/2012 11:56:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

Say, I remember this being a helpful passage in Sheed's book, too.

It's just before he gets into the Trinity, which our minds boggle at when trying to understand it in visual terms.

Once you imagine something visually, it obviously becomes an image, and images of non-imagistic things are obviously reductions, distortions, and easy to relativize with other images.

On the other hand, MOTT's use of the Tarot images is *very* helpful because the images there become visual maps, and thus memory aids. This is another animal, though.

12/06/2012 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger John Lien said...

"Thinking is very hard, and imagining is very easy, and we are very lazy. We have fallen into the habit of using imagination as a crutch, and our intellects have almost lost the habit of walking"

WOW! I never imagined. This is a big insight for me, the distinction between intellect and imagination, that is.

I grew up in a world where imagination was lauded and nurtured. Disney's imagineers,
Einstien's quote.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

Too much of a good thing I suppose.
Could there be a sinister force behind ths?

12/06/2012 12:03:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Absolutely. I think it's fair to say that Eve is a symbol of imagination seducing intellect.

12/06/2012 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

An archetype is different from imagination, as it is a visible symbol that points to the invisible.

12/06/2012 12:07:00 PM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

Yes, one of the most impressive feats in MOTT is the heroic effort to keep the symbols unsaturated. Polyunsaturated even. This is not something that just happens to come by itself when dealing with the Tarot, either.

The great danger of imagination is just this, that we confuse the image with reality. (Didn't Bob just say that, or was it the voice in my head?)

12/06/2012 12:18:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

(Didn't Bob just say that, or was it the voice in my head?)

There's a difference?

12/06/2012 12:30:00 PM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

Perhaps not this time, Mushroom, but generally it is more correct to say there is an overlap. This is not surprising: The Light may be the same, but it has taken different paths and passed through different prisms.

12/06/2012 12:38:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I was being silly, but you're right, overlap or harmony, perhaps.

Some would argue in my own case that because my head is so empty all I hear are echoes anyway.

12/06/2012 03:39:00 PM  
Blogger Paul Griffin said...

"Absolutely. I think it's fair to say that Eve is a symbol of imagination seducing intellect."

Milton draws this very carefully in Paradise Lost. Satan succeeds in his temptation of Eve by two methods:

a) Outright lying, claiming that he, the snake, had eaten the forbidden fruit and had gained from it.

b) Inflaming her imagination, getting her to imagine what the fruit might hold for her, what her Creator might think of her for doing so, how delicious the fruit might be, and so on.

Either of these methods, done separately, had little chance of success. The lie could have been easily overcome with a simple, "I am duty-bound not to eat it. One greater than you has warned me of the consequences." The inflamed imagination is easily overcome with a trip back to reality, "If I eat it, I will die. There is no use imagining what it might be like to do so." No one spends too much time imagining what it would be like to be torn apart by stepping on a land mine. But the two-pronged (or forked-tongued, if you like) attack was fatal.

I am very wary of those who would elevate experience and experiment, who's "need to know for themselves" overrides centuries of advice (often hard-won) to the contrary. They are the ones that would step on the land mine deliberately and encourage you to do the same.

12/06/2012 03:46:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

All of which goes to how and why Mary is the inverse archetype of Eve.

12/06/2012 04:25:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

For those of you who get TCM, one of the most gorgeous movies ever made is on tonight at 9:00 PST, Days of Heaven.

12/06/2012 05:27:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Thanks - sounds interesting. Thank goodness for DVRs :)

12/06/2012 05:32:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Despite all the manmade special effects in films today, Days of Heaven shows that the Creator's still cannot be surpassed.

12/06/2012 06:00:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

" Imagination is fine, so long as it knows its subordinate place in the psyche. But if it doesn't know its place, then it easily dominates the intellect. When this occurs, the imagination puffs itself up with an unearned and worthless intellectual pride. You know the type. It's one of the reasons leftists are so annoying."

Imagination is, I think, the leap, it IS freedom. But complete freedom isn't a proper human life, it's savagery. It must learn it's rightful role and rules, which is Liberty... but sadly the schools want no part of that.

12/06/2012 09:21:00 PM  
Blogger James Worthe said...

We need these facts and information if we are to avoid groping through life guided only by our instincts and emotions. We require these facts and information if we are to perform at our full potential and so get the most out of life. Ilchi Lee

3/09/2014 10:55:00 PM  

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