Tuesday, July 09, 2013

A Religion Fit for the Secular Anthill and Progressive Hive

As we've mentioned before, there is more than one form of Vedanta. For our purposes, we are interested in the differences between Shankara and Ramanuja. Why do we always hear about the former, but not so much the latter? It just occurred to me over the weekend that there are several reasons for this.

First, the Upanishads weren't translated into english until the 19th century. More generally, we mainly learn of the Vedanta through its western interpreters, so if those interpreters have a particular bias or interest, then the interpretation will be filtered through that prismhouse.

Now, the discovery of, and interest in, the Upanishads coincides with several pathological trends in western civilization: the rise of scientism, the general hostility toward traditional religion, the search for a replacement for Christianity in particular, and the alternative gospel of progressive leftism.

It now occurs to me that these scholars idealize Shankara because his nondual approach is much more compatible with the unsophisticated monism of scientism and the illiberal anti-individualism of the left -- which explains why people such as Deepak Chopra and Ken Wilber are always men of the left. I know of no exceptions, although I'd be happy to hear of one. It can get a little lonely here.

Conversely, no one who actually understands Christianity could ever embrace leftism, scientism, or any other ideology. Rather, properly understood, it is the penultimate inoculation against such spiritual cancers and metastatic ideologies.

I say "penultimate" because it is possible to understand the ultimate principle by virtue of which Christianity effectively thwarts ideology. This principle has to do with the fact that the human drama always takes place in the space between immanence and transcendence.

Ideology of any kind collapses this space, which always leads to human catastrophe, because it forces immanent reality to conform to the eschatological fantasy, as we have most recently seen in Obama, e.g., the healthcare system isn't perfect, therefore it must be destroyed.

The goal of history is beyond history, but the left is defined by the absurd attempt to place the goal within history. This naturally redounds to absolute meaninglessness, but the leftist "cures" this with the intellectual swindle of forcing his idiosyncratic meaning upon history.

This has always been the Marxist strategy, i.e., to destroy existing institutions because they do not adequately reflect paradise on earth. In Niemeyer's succinct formulation, it is either nothingness or paradise.

Which makes it quite easy to be a leftist: since reality isn't paradise, their critique thereof is self-evident and self-validating -- an infantile strategy if ever there was one. Radicals such as Obama always appeal to an unarticulated but implicit order that never was and never will be -- except in the valid form of vertical recollection (or an eschatological memoir of the future, if you prefer).

This denial of existing reality is just part of a deeper "ontological negation" (ibid.), beginning with "the annihilation of God" and moving on to the eradication of the moral order, the destruction of human nature (which follows logically from the murder of God), and the effacement of both boundaries (e.g., male-female) and hierarchy (e.g., adult-child).

In short, the PermaRevolutuon of the left is founded upon a prior "metaphysical revolution" (ibid.).

Which is just one more reason why you cannot reason with a leftist. This is because the prerequisite of rational dialogue is "a common universe of reason, which is precisely what the ideologists have demolished." No nous is bad news, to put it wildly.

"A 'creatively destructive' activism," writes Niemeyer, "presupposes an intellectual destruction of present reality, as a result of which the believers of such ideas orient themselves no longer toward 'real possibilities' but rather toward 'possible realities.'"

One is reminded of what appears to have been the Kennedy brothers' favorite crack, to the effect that Some men see things as they are and say why? I dream things that never were and say why not?

Indeed. What an astonishing admission. Mental hospitals used to be full of such dreamers, at least until liberals deinstitutionalized them. Some schizophrenics are homeless and ask why? Others imagine the park is their home, and ask why not?

Oh, and from whom did the Kennedy's lift that line? Appropriately, it was originally "delivered by the Serpent in Shaw's play Back To Methuselah."

And while looking up the exact wording of that quote, I found another doozie by RFK, reflecting the same florid pneumopathology: Every society gets the kind of criminal it deserves.

Really? So, if, say, some creepy-ass cracka' is being assaulted by one of Obama's stoned and hoodied bastard sons, he deserves it? Come to think of it, RFK was murdered by a Palestinian activist, his brother by a leftwing radical. Oh well. Every society gets the kind of assassin it deserves.

Returning to the actual subject of our post, if one is looking for metaphysical support for the left's radical critique of existence, one could do a lot worse than Shankara, for whom existence is just maya, or illusion, anyway. Only Brahman is real, and you're not it -- unless you eliminate your individual self.

Reminds me of something Woody Allen once said: death doesn't bother me. I just don't want to be there when it happens. Likewise, for Shankara, you can know God. You just can't be there when it happens.

But for Ramanuja, "the highest kind of unity" would not be "the static unity of a solitary self-centered, self-determined Absolute, but a dynamic unity of a society of souls realizing their highest perfection in love and in mutually enriching fellowship."

And "this is only possible where each has a unique inner life of his own and respects the individuality of others, but yet where each does not lose but finds himself in others" (Davie).

Therefore, union with God is associated with both "increasing differentiation" and "increasingly intensive community and unity." Call it the Body of Christ, which can only be an interior body, nothing that could ever be accomplished -- which is to say, externally forced -- by the state. That would be an anonymous hive, not a unity of souls.


Blogger Magister said...

Foot stomping good post.

No nous is bad news

And: Good news is the nous that stays nous.

7/09/2013 08:22:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I cooncur, Magister. A veritable hoot n' canny post.

Speaking of nous, I reckon one could say that, for the left, no noose is bad news.
Of course, I only mean that literally, since the "reality sucks so let's impose our perverse fantasy" leftist crowd is always looking to hang folks and call it a picnic.

7/09/2013 09:12:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Come to think about it, that would explain why lefties are always so hung-over.

7/09/2013 09:14:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I do hope our new "smart" govt. doesn't miss interpret what I said. :^)

7/09/2013 09:21:00 AM  
Blogger ted said...

Great post Bob! Wasn't Franklin Merrell-Wolff politically conservative and a nondualist also?

7/09/2013 09:42:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

Ha, I sense a coonvergence in the force.

Re: the noose, we all probably long for justice in this world. It's just that some of us realize that most things just can't be imposed from "above" (snort) by some self-appointed reductive-thinking ideologically-driven and isolated elite. I guess that makes us flyovers, but whatever.

USS Ben, our Betters *never* misinterpret things. No interpretation can ever be correct, so there's no misinterpretation either. There is only power. And you don't have it! Bwahahahah!

Oh, and the Council of Europe just congratulated the state of Maryland for abolishing the death penalty. I'm sure Marylanders will sleep better tonight, knowing they have European Approval. There's probably a government label they can use. So technically, no noose is good news -- if you're in the plush tinseltown o' Strasbourg.

7/09/2013 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

This denial of existing reality is just part of a deeper "ontological negation" (ibid.), beginning with "the annihilation of God" and moving on to the eradication of the moral order, the destruction of human nature (which follows logically from the murder of God), and the effacement of both boundaries (e.g., male-female) and hierarchy (e.g., adult-child).

I've been reading Chronicles during my nighttime Omissions lately. Again and again, that very same denial is played out across the generations. It was the rare king who actually did as he ought; most of them seemed quite determined to annihilate God and eradicate the moral order. For instance, Ahaz, who burned his own children in the fires of the Baals.

Magister, I guess in Maryland it's only the innocent unborn who need to worry about being unjustly killed...

7/09/2013 10:57:00 AM  
Blogger ge said...

-But aren't you omitting the 3rd essential [esoterique] element of the formula:

"The world [samsara, maya] is unreal; Brahman [or the Divine/Self/Buddha Nature] is real; [yet] the world is Brahman"

Gimme a YipYip Yahoo!

or as Longchenpa tweeted: 'The world/everything is completely empty...yet it appears'

-Reminding that Shankara/Vedanta is not necessarily the last wise word on nondual mist for our grills, look north too!

7/09/2013 11:34:00 AM  
Blogger John Lien said...

Likewise, for Shankara, you can know God. You just can't be there when it happens.

That belief is going to take a lot of convincing, nobody would naturally want to do that.

7/09/2013 11:36:00 AM  
Blogger ted said...

@ge, invoking Nagarjuna?

7/09/2013 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Ted: Good catch! Merrell-Wolff was indeed a conservative, back when it was even more lonely to be one.

7/09/2013 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger ted said...

He seemed like he would have been an interesting guy to have coffee with (and a smoke too apparently).

7/09/2013 12:30:00 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

The contemporary spirituality culture mercilessly criticizes the Western Tradition because of its purported obsession with dualism. And the root of this erroneous metaphysical/cultural template is, (so the story goes), belief in a transcendent personal God. Dualism is the dirty word of modernity.

In his book, "The Supreme Identity", Alan Watts suggests that it is not a coincidence that Christendom was the antecedent to the scientistic "reign of quantity". The reason- dualism.

7/09/2013 08:53:00 PM  
Blogger onecertain said...

no one who actually understands Christianity could ever embrace leftism

That would be some news to Dorothy Day and Oscar Romero, among many others.

7/09/2013 11:10:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

No kidding. One must be Christian to embrace a Christian heresy.

7/10/2013 06:17:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

It would be even bigger news to atheist leftists that they are just Christian heretics.

7/10/2013 06:22:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

BTW, that's Dupree's aluminum cluebat I'm swinging in the photo.

7/10/2013 06:24:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Nice; lightweight and darned near invisible. They'll never see it coming, which makes it that much harder to duck...

7/10/2013 06:33:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I'm pretty sure Oscar Romero is the only priest William has ever heard of. Another one of his mental ticks.

7/10/2013 06:36:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

I would note, though, that there are a lot of people who embrace leftism, or even just some of its aspects, who have absolutely zero understanding of what they embrace. It sounds nice; they either won't or can't delve any deeper than that. They may be Christian, but still know not what they do...

7/10/2013 06:38:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Oh, is that William? Been a while.

7/10/2013 06:39:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, their intellectual roots are buried deep in the ground, which roots tend to be. But Voegelin is excellent at digging up and exposing those roots, as is this book I'm reading by Niemeyer. You might say that leftism is a tree, its branches above, its roots down BELOW.

7/10/2013 06:42:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Another great post.

Mental hospitals used to be full of such dreamers, ...

Did any of you ever watch Monk? That's my wife's show. I bought her the DVDs. OCD is just leftism writ small.

7/10/2013 06:43:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Since leftists are by definition oriented to a future that never was and cannot be, they ignore the past -- especially their own.

7/10/2013 06:46:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

By the way, who killed Romero?

I have no more use for fascists than I do for socialists. Picking one is rather like choosing the Crips over the Bloods or, better, the Gambino family over the Colombo family.

Facists and socialists are simply gangsters who have gotten control of the powers and protections of government.

7/10/2013 06:52:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Absolutely. A leftist is a leftist is a leftist.

7/10/2013 06:55:00 AM  
Blogger onecertain said...


After his assassination, Romero was succeeded by Monsignor Arturo Rivera. In 1997, a cause for beatification and canonization was opened for Romero, and Pope John Paul II bestowed upon him the title of Servant of God. The canonization process continues. He is considered by some[who?] the unofficial patron saint of the Americas and El Salvador and is often referred to as "San Romero" by Catholics in El Salvador. Outside of Catholicism, Romero is honored by other religious denominations of Christendom, including the Church of England through the Calendar in Common Worship. He is one of the ten 20th-century martyrs who are depicted in statues above the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey in London, a testament to the wide respect for him even beyond the Catholic Church.[2] In 2008, he was chosen as one of the 15 Champions of World Democracy by the Europe-based magazine A Different View.[3]

7/10/2013 08:23:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Which only proves he wasn't a leftist.

7/10/2013 08:28:00 AM  
Blogger ge said...


the bird on the fence
A contemporary of mine


[i like the way he puts this, a sorta nondual thought
even applying to insects in one's home
that has occurred to me & others i'm sure]

7/10/2013 09:28:00 AM  
Blogger Open Trench said...

Today pay no heed to others but focus on improving yourself, and you move forward one great step.

7/10/2013 09:36:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Hang 'em with a nous

7/10/2013 01:05:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...


If it pleases the court we'd like to know where you get those fortune cookies

7/10/2013 01:07:00 PM  
Blogger Jules said...

Reminds me of the book
"Heaven on earth, the rise and fall of socialism"
A pity that for leftists, its always groundhog day. Despite the numerous failures of socialism arnd the world.

Being congratulated by zeropean institutions is like being congratulated by a gelded, lobotomized zombie driving a car towards a brick wall.

Oh they have the death penalty in the us so shocking ! We prefer to free them so they rape or kill again. Here in Australia too...


7/12/2013 05:56:00 AM  
Blogger Jules said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/12/2013 05:57:00 AM  

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