Hopeless Nihilism, and Beyond!
The other day we spoke of the differences between (k) and (n), or of knowledge and experience. It's easy enough to have spiritual experiences, easier still to gain spiritual knowledge, but how does one make them "stick," or transform these from transient or surface states into stable and ensuring traits, i.e., (¶)?
Clown question, bro. We don't.
Nor could we ever do so, any more than we could construct a tree or grow a carrot or build a cake or cook even the most half-baked thought from scratch.
Philalethes: "The whole process which we employ closely resembles that followed by Nature in the bowels of the earth, except that it is much shorter."
That's right, shorter. Think of a baby who grows up into a normal civilized human being. In so doing, he is compressing 13.7 billion years of cosmic evolution into 20 or 30 years. But why stop at normality? Why not go all the way?
Really, all we can do is create the conditions, and then get out of the way of the same energies that turned dirt into Dostoyevsky or mud into Mozart or shite into Shakespeare -- which is what "right living" is all about.
It reminds me of when people "try" to get pregnant. Often it only happens after they've given up. I've even heard it said that it's not uncommon for people to adopt a child, thinking they'll never get pregnant, only to become pregnant once they've given up hope.
I can't tell you how hopeless I am. No (temporal) ambition at all. No hope that things will ever change for the better. For one thing, how could things get better so long as I'm around to spoil them? I'm also pretty nihilistic, in that anything less than that tends to eclipse the Absolute. In other words, it's very easy to fall into idolatry.
And now that everyone is famous, anonymity is the new celebrity. "Let not him who desires this knowledge for the purpose of procuring wealth and pleasure think that he will ever attain to it" (The Sophic Hydrolith).
In my hopeless condition, I try my best to burrow more deeply into the present, and again, let the rest take care of the rust. Call it blind I-AMbition. Let the dead bury the tenured, and let the unBorn... let them do whatever they need to do to become born, but certainly don't abort them on the one hand, or feed them steroids on the other. Let supernature take its course.
I don't put my precogitated unBorns on a timetable. They'll arrive at their own pace, so long as I take care of my end, and patiently fertilize the present ground. There's more than enough experience to be had in the present, thank you, without seeking it elsewhere, in the past and future.
In fact, Christian hope paradoxically arises specifically from a kind of liberating hopelessness about this fallen world. To place one's hope in the world is to misplace it. Thus the intrinsic cosmic heresy of all those franciful schemes of leftist udopians.
I prefer to live as simply as possible, because a complicated life begins to place barriers between oneself and human (and therefore divine) reality, or between one's feet and the ground.
At the moment, I'm reviewing a section in The Spiritual Ascent entitled Integration, and it has many helpful pointers along these lines. Again, you will find that the insights therein are generally universal and Timelessly True, as invariant vis-a-vis the transhuman realm as the Platonic truths of mathematics are with regard to the physical plane.
For example, some guy named Hujwiri tells us from across the centuries that "the Sufi is he whose thought keeps pace with his foot, i.e., he is entirely present: his soul is where his body is, and his body is where his soul is, and his soul is where his foot is, and his foot is where his soul is. This is the sign of presence without absence."
Like so many similarly fractal passages in this book, this is the whole teaching boiled down to a single phrase. You could identify any number of biblical passages that convey the same thing in a slightly different way.
But it's one thing to "know" this, something else entirely to realize it. This is why the saints are so important, for they are the realization, or terrestrial fulfillment, of the celestial doctrine.
In turn, this is why we learn more by watching the good man "tie his bootlaces," so to speak, than from his words per se; or, bear in mind that their communications will always consist of "words and music," and that one must have an ear attuned to the latter to gain maximum benefit of the former. Or, put it this way: truth can be told in such a way as to become a lie, due to the unworthiness of the container.
Spirituality must not only take place in the body -- where else? -- but transform the body, i.e., recalcitrant matter, which is "resistant" to being spiritualized, so to speak, in the same way that dirty water resists the light.
Again, think of how easy it is to have a spiritual experience "above" the body. But when you come back down, you're left with the same unreformed physical being, i.e., certain dense and mindless patterns that seem "opaque" to the light.
It's much more challenging to be in this world and sharpen oneself against the rocks of adversity and even inconvenience. This is why we never trust "professional gurus" who not only don't have real jobs, but who are very likely unemployable due to the extent of their bloated cosmic narcissism.
Jesus was a carpenter. He worked with his hands and with natural materials. If you meet the Buddha on the road, first take a look at his hands. If you don't see callouses, or at least some dirt under the fingernails -- worse yet, if you see a manicure -- kill him. Buddha would be the first to do so.
In both Judaism and Christianity the focus is on embodiment. The point is not to "escape" this embodiment, but rather, to incarnate fully. Our incarnation is God's excarnation; or God ex-spires into us and we in-spire God -- which is how we oxidize the blood that courses through the arteries of the cosmos.
Real Men take their realization into marriage, into child rearing, into work, into the constant battle that is this world. The world is a test that never ends.
Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Here again, there is the upper vertical and the lower vertical, the celestial and the terrestrial, spirit and body, heaven and earth. It's easy enough for God's will to be done "above," where it is done "automatically," so to speak. The trick is how we allow it to be done in the herebelow, for there are many layers of influence between the top and bottom.
Again, it's more a matter of getting out of the way, isn't it? Benjamin Whichcote: "Our Conversation is in Heaven, according to the Measure and Degree of our present State and Condition.... When we set ourselves to do the Will of God here, then Heaven is come down into the World..."
We mustn't wait until we are dead -- or 'til the sun is down, when no man can work. Rather, it should begin "while the soul is in the body. I say more: while yet in the body a soul may reach oblivion of its travail not to remember it again" (Meister Eckhart).
In other words, there can be a kind of egobliteration and resurrection in this life, or at least its "first fruits." For any transcendence is evidence of all transcendence, which is to say the transcendence of all -- which is another way of saying resurrection, or at least rebirth.
William Law: "What could man have to do with the perfection of God as the rule of his life, unless the truth and reality of the divine nature was in him?"
The Russian Pilgrim: "It is possible for man to get back to that primitive contemplative state in which he issued from the hands of his Creator."
Why? Because you weren't issued in the past; rather, you are issued afresh each moment. You know, make your resurrections in advance, and don't forget your peaceport.... De-part and bewholed like in them seers' dialogues of old, then aim your eros for the heart of the world!
Hakuin goes even further -- it's not only senseless to wait until death for the climb of your life, but it is the most culpable negligence. It's a kind of philosophical malpractice. It's worse than a crime, it is a cosmic blunder.
Nope. "He that beholds the sun of righteousness arising upon the horizon of his soul with healing in its wings, and chasing away all that misty darkness" -- such a regular feller cares not "to pry into heaven's secrets, and to search the hidden rolls of eternity, there to see the whole plot of his salvation; for he views it transacted upon the inward stage of his own soul, and reflecting upon himself, he may behold a heaven opened from within, and a throne set up in his soul, and an almighty Saviour sitting upon it, and reigning within him.... It is not an airy speculation of heaven as a thing to come that can satisfy his hungry desires, but the real possession of it even in this life" (John Smith the Platonist).
Amen for a child's job! (And vice versa.)