Slowing Time and Standing Fast
For a couple of years I'd been thinking about getting a stand-up desk, but the Paleo book convinced me to make my move, for it seems that no caveman ever conducted his business without one. I even figured out something that no caveman could have known -- that all you have to do is place a flat object on top of your existing desk, and there's your "stand-up desk." Idiots.
It's surprisingly comfortable, even natural. I was able to adjust it by half-inches by stacking some unused shelves underneath, and 48" seems just about perfect.
So, here we go. Feet don't fail me now!
Yesterday we touched on the subject of mysticism, and were wondering if it is analogously to spirit as science is to matter. Petey once quipped that religion is the science of spirit, whereas science is the religion of matter. His wisequack may sound just ducky, but how do we say it without tainting proper science and religion?
I would say that religionism is the scientism of spirit, whereas scientism is the religionism of matter. Expressed this way, it recognizes the imbalanced application of science and religion. Religion, for example, is "about God." But it is quite common for religion to be about religion, and to forget all about God, except in the form of dogmas, rules, and formulas.
Likewise, science is supposed to be about the natural world. But it easily slips into its own abstractions, and becomes about science. Global Warming is a fine example, but there are many others. For example, there is the joke about the two economists. One says to the other, "Yes, it works in reality. But will it work in theory?" That is not an economist speaking. Rather, that is a purveyor of... economicism, AKA a Krugmaniac.
We all know the globe hasn't gotten warmer over the past fifteen years. Ah, but does that make sense in theory? No way!
Once you see how the game is run, you can distinguish real science from scientism. For example, the gap between man and ape is infinite -- as infinite as the difference between truth and falsehood. True enough, but it just doesn't work in theory -- the theory that there are no discontinuities in nature. But if there are no discontinuities, how is it that an ape is presuming to utter the absolute truth of existence?
Easy: shut up.
That's an example of biologism, I guess you'd call it. There is also psychologism, a practice with which I am sadly familiar, since it pervades my field. In fact, I try to stay away from psychology for that very reason, and was recently reminded why when I read a biography of the dissident psychoanalyst Otto Rank.
I won't bore you with the details, but what a crock. Rank essentially tried to decrock Orthodox Psychoanalysis just a little bit, for which reason he was defrocked and treated like Judas -- smeared, vilified, excommunicated, libeled. He was literally called insane, and even psychoanalysts who had been successfully analyzed by him had to be re-analyzed by an orthodox Freudian in order to undo the success -- or to be convinced that they weren't really healthy, just imagining it.
And Rank was no prize either. Yes, he grasped some important truths, but they are only important in light of what he was up against. He was more courageous than brilliant, or at least he was willing to burn his bridges in pursuit of truth. He's more like a Palestinian who wonders if Jews aren't actually pigs and dogs, or a liberal who thinks that maybe conservatives aren't evil.
At any rate, I would go so far as to say that there is no religion in the absence of mysticism -- or, let us just say a mystical experience, in order to make it more concrete.
Mystical experience involves direct perception of a spiritual reality. Thus, the Bible is obviously pervaded by such experiences, for example, the disciples witnessing the transfiguration of Jesus, or Saul falling from his horse, or John, who writes of how "we beheld his glory" -- glory being the Divine Beauty.
So, I think we need to broaden out what we mean by "mystical," since "spiritual experience" is wide, varied, and deep. It has different modes, essentially corresponding to love, truth, and beauty -- or to heart, mind, and will. Thus, there can be mystics of the intellect -- e.g., Schuon or Aquinas -- mystics of beauty -- e.g., Bach or Arvo Part -- and mystics of the will -- e.g., Bonhoffer and every other martyr. Each, in his or her own way, comes into contact with an absolute truth and absolute reality.
That being the case, mysticism can only be "individual" -- in that only the individual can experience it -- but not "individualistic" -- in that it is not arbitrary or idiosyncratic.
Rather, in the words of Berdyaev, "We must insist that mysticism is not a subjective condition," for in reality "it is an escape from the very contrast between the subjective and the objective." Again, as we were saying yesterday, it is a kind of "cure" (or at least treatment) for the very divisiveness and dis-unity we harbor.
For it is easy to forget that dis-unity is also "just an experience." Monistic theories of existence are not so much wrong as merely partial. Looked at in a certain way, existence is by definition "one," or we wouldn't have the word "existence" (or uni-verse). But the mere fact that we can experience the unity introduces twoness into the mix.
Once we are in this devilish twoness, there are two ways out. One way is heralded by Buddhists, Vedantins, and non-dualists of various stripes: just dissolve twoness back into primordial oneness.
Yes, but to reverse-paraphrase Woody Allen, I don't mind ego death -- I just want to be there when it happens.
The second way is up and out of twoness, into a dynamic threeness. This threeness, of course, is a higher and deeper form of oneness. It is trickier to attain, so it is understandable that so many people prefer the two and the one.
The reason it is trickier is that it does not reject the world. Indeed, it doesn't reject anything, for which reason its central icon is of the Godman, i.e., the Absolute incarnate. Thus, God "experiences" humanness, which permits human beings to experience God-ness.
Despite its radical nature, this is just making explicit what is implicit in every human being. For anyone who says... Better yet, I read something in Vanderleun's sidebar (traceable back to here) that goes to just this subject:
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things" (Philippians 4:8).
Placed in context, we read that this "standing fast" and being "of the same mind in the Lord" results in divine peace.
I don't know about you, but I am standing as fast as I can, but now it's time to move.
Some people thought the title of this song was derived from the acronym G-O-D: