Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Trouble in Paradise: In Spite of My Awesomeness, I'm Still a Little Narcissistic

It seems that dogmatic and mystical theology have often been regarded as antagonistic, when they should be seen as complementary. They are two sides of the same coin-cidence, perhaps a reflection herebelow of form (revelation, dogma) and substance (experience, being).

Berdyaev suggests that "where mysticism begins, there is the end of the realm of dogmatic clarity," but must this always be the case? No doubt it is sometimes or maybe even often true, what with various suburban shamans, dime store gurus, and cracker barrel gnostics hocking their counterfeit upperwares.

The difference, I think, is between a kind of grasping at spirit -- a storming of heaven, or attempting to pull oneself up by one's own buddhastraps -- versus an infusion or acquisition (not possession!) of something that is always "other" -- a pneumatic "third," as it were.

Regarding this third, it is either "acquired" via human effort, and is therefore simply human; it is loaned, in which case it is repaid upon death; or it is a gift, free and clear.

The moment someone begins taking credit for the process, we're going to have problems, e.g., Andrew Cohen and all the rest of the self-styled new age saviors.

I mean, show me the genuine saint who boasts of his enlightenment. To the extent that he is enlightened, the only valid recognition is the testimony of others. And even then, one would be embarrassed. What's that word? Starts with an h... humility?

Speaking of whom, now he tells us: "I’m fifty-seven years old and currently find myself facing the biggest challenge of my life."

Oh? The Enlightened One is facing a challenge? What, parenthood? Having to make an honest living? The other messiah canceled your health insurance? Ken Wilber won't return the lawnmower? Do tell.

But first: does everyone get their money back?

Just kidding! Besides, not only can the Enlightened endure good-natured mockery, but they are known to have a refreshingly self-effacing sense of humor. They don't take themselves seriously.

"I’ve been a teacher of spiritual enlightenment for twenty-seven years."

You sure about that? Enlightenment? Is that really something one can teach? I mean, I know you can charge for it, but is that the same as teaching it?

And would an "enlightened" person charge big bucks for the secret, or would giving it away be one of its seals of authenticity? Because I'm with Captain Beefheart on this question: I want to give it away, because where I got it, it didn't cost me a thing.

I know what you're thinking: "Bob, you're just jealous. Plus, you're using reverse psychology on us, trying to plant the seed that since you don't profit from your prophetry, ergo you must be the enlightened one. You are Neo!"

Well, I'm not Neo. Like you, I'm just Morpheus, looking toward Neo while trying to extricate myself from the Matrix. You can comb through all 2,500 posts for the merest suggestion that I am some sort of enlightened evolutionary being, the next phase of cosmic evolution incarnate. What an obnoxious -- and fascistic -- idea. From the Raccoon perspective, there are plenty of infrahumans, that is, people who sink beneath their humanness. But there are no suprahumans, with only one possible exception.

As I've said before, if there are suprahumans among us, then anyone less than the Übermensch is just a means to a superior end, thus rendering his own life as meaningless as that of a drone to the queen bee. Or, to quote the Sphinx,

"Enlightenment has always been and always will be about transcending the ego."

Or not. Perhaps it's about infusing the ego. Or maybe it cannot be understood in such an intrasubjective manner, and is fundamentally intersubjective, i.e., about relationship. If this is the case, then the most transcendent ego in the world is just wrong if it is not properly attuned to the Other -- both horizontally and vertically.

Indeed, in the Raccoon tradition this is rule number one: all other rules are number two or lower. In concrete terms it is reducible to the formula: love the lord (↑) and love the neighbor/stranger (↳) -- which is really one and the same spiro-paracletic movement.

"Over the last several years, some of my closest students have tried to make it apparent to me that in spite of the depth of my awakening, my ego is still alive and well."

Ah, the students have surpassed the teacher! Isn't that a good thing? You know what they say: if you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him! Or at least stop paying him.

You know Taranto's running gag about the Butterfield Fallacy, e.g., Crime Down Despite Increased Prison Population? Well, here's one for the book: "in spite of the depth of my awakening, my ego is still alive and well."

Classic.

"I’ve understood this simple truth -- that we all have egos no matter how enlightened we may be..."

Er, shouldn't that realization come at the beginning, not the end? Because if not, then you can be quite sure that

"when I was being asked to face my own ego by those who were nearest and dearest to me, I resisted. And I often made their lives difficult as a result."

I know people like that. Except I don't call them "enlightened." Rather, I call them "patients."

"I’m aware that many of my students over the years have also been affected by my lack of awareness of this part of myself."

Part, eh? Okay. But I think it's a little like dieting: you can't spot reduce.

And to paraphrase the Sphinx, you need to know that the Adversary has many weapons. To defeat him you will need to have more than just flunkies and flatulence.

In any event, what is mankind to do in your absence? Will you send a helper?

Orthodox mysticism is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit -- a mysticism of the Holy Spirit. In it human nature is transfigured and illuminated from within.... Christ enters the heart, and by this 'christ-ization' of the heart the whole human nature is changed: man becomes a new creature....

The grace of the Holy Spirit is acquired by means of humility.... We may establish three conditions for Christian mysticism, three marks or signs of it: personality, freedom, love.... [It is] at once more involved in the world, and more free from it. --Berdyaev

47 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

You can comb through all 2,500 posts for the merest suggestion that I am some sort of enlightened evolutionary being,

I hope you don't take it the wrong way if I just laugh out loud at that...

1/08/2014 09:02:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Do not go there, my child! When you doubt my powers, you only give power to your doubts.

1/08/2014 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

:D

The thought of you dressed in the Sphinx's shiny duds adds just the right touch of... gravitas, yes, that's it. Positively Schuonian!

But seriously, this Andrew Cohen dude's every utterance is comedy gold. It's like first world problems writ large.

1/08/2014 09:17:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Combined with Stuff White People Like: First World Problems White People Like.

Speaking of comedy gold, his own mother wrote a book denouncing him. Just like Mary.

1/08/2014 09:31:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Hmm... if I were a psychologist...

1/08/2014 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Wow.

1/08/2014 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Hah - my first thought was that if his mom is so embarrassed at how he turned out that she wrote a book about it, he probably deserved that. But then my second thought was that if she's that much of a bitch that she'll go to that length to publicly humiliate him, no wonder he turned out that way...

1/08/2014 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, a little family therapy may be in order. Sounds like a squabble over which one is really God.

1/08/2014 09:42:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

I get the sense it might end up like The Simpsons electric shock aversion therapy...

1/08/2014 09:55:00 AM  
Blogger ge said...

http://mylifewithmiracleoflove.blogspot.com/2011/03/my-thoughts-on-book-from-luna-tarlos.html

His mom went w/ UG, an interesting enlightenment-denying anti-sage no relation to Jiddu

1/08/2014 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Krishnamurti is another piece of work: a beautiful youth identified as the World Teacher by a flagrant pedophile. Then it gets weird.

1/08/2014 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

" the Adversary has many weapons. To defeat him you will need to have more than just flunkies and flatulence."

Well... that depends on what it is you been eatin'. Just sayin'.

1/08/2014 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

The InLiteEnd One says "As time passes I intend to reach out and engage in a process of dialogue with those of you who would like to."

Ya know, I often say, it's the depth and sincerity of ones words that really separate the Avatars from the 3rd level policy wonks, don't you think so too?

1/08/2014 10:39:00 AM  
Blogger ted said...

Interesting post. As someone who has done a retreat with AC, and knows individuals from the former community, it is interesting to look at my engagement more objectively. Wilber was the gateway to AC for me, and it just goes to show you be careful of whom you trust. Sometimes intuition is not good enough. And what did you say about that humility thing again? :)

1/08/2014 10:47:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Or not. Perhaps it's about infusing the ego.

Infusing the bank account.

1/08/2014 10:49:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I guess the other side is that a guy being thoroughly messed up doesn't necessarily invalidate what he teaches.

1/08/2014 10:57:00 AM  
Blogger ted said...

True, but the best way to teach is be an example. As Emerson once said: "What You Do Speaks So Loudly that I Cannot Hear What You Say."

1/08/2014 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I think there needs to be direct transmission thingy going on, as in the Jewish wisecrack about going to the great rabbi not to learn from him, but to watch him tie his shoelaces. But it's coming through the rabbi, not from him.

1/08/2014 11:08:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Or to quote the Sphinx again, "you can learn my teachings, but first I must teach you how to learn."

1/08/2014 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger John Lien said...

Coincidentally, I too started the standing desk experiment yesterday. (well, maybe not too great a coincidence since I read the comments here).

So far so good. Bad sitting posture was killing my back and we adopted the grand cats from my daughter over Christmas and they were constantly getting in my lap.

So far, it makes me more alert while slinging code but I can't help feeling that I should be taking somebody's order for lunch.

1/08/2014 12:03:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I'm switching back & forth as whim dictates, but I'm surprised at how long I can stand here without even thinking about it. I read where Rumsfeld stood at his desk for 8-10 hours a day as SecDef -- which is why he couldn't understand why enhanced interrogation was limited to four hours of standing! Wimps.

1/08/2014 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

I stand a lot, but mainly because I get swarmed by munchkins if my butt touches the seat. Now that the little one is walking and grabbing, I should probably look into raising my computer a little higher, too. She likes to click my mouse when I'm not looking...

1/08/2014 12:16:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

In ye olde '90s I worked at a shop where the owner stocked his faves, including J Krishnamurti. I couldn't hack hardly any of his books except his NOTEBOOKS, which had vivid descriptions of K's mysterious ecstasies [called 'that benedictions' or 'It'], which sounded like my own descriptions of related states...
Funny how he scrupulously avoids "I" & "me" but so oft says 'it', I just noticed throughout.
Woke up long before dawn when the air is very still and the earth waiting for the sun. Woke up with a clarity that was peculiar and an urgency that demanded full attention. The body was completely motionless, an immobility that was without strain, without tension. And inside the head a peculiar phenomenon was going on. A great wide river was flowing with the pressure of immense weight of water, flowing between high, polished granite rock. On each side of this great wide river was polished, sparkling granite, on which nothing grew, not even a blade of grass; there was nothing but sheer polished rock, soaring up beyond measurable eyesight. The river was making its way, silently, without a whisper, indifferent, majestic. It was actually taking place, it wasn't a dream, a vision nor a symbol to be interpreted. It was there taking place, beyond any doubt; it was not a thing of imagination. No thought could possibly invent it; it was too
immense and real for thought to formulate it...

[p. 46]

http://www.dasglueck.de/download/krishnamurti/Jiddu_Krishnamurti-Notebook.pdf
= whole thing it seems

1/08/2014 01:58:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, I read a bio, and the most interesting parts were about the overwhelming kundalini-like experiences he had, I think in his 20s, after leaving the Order of Whatever...

1/08/2014 02:06:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Just checked Professor Wiki, and that was before he left the Order.

1/08/2014 02:07:00 PM  
Blogger Skorpion said...

Bishop Charles W. Leadbeater, the guy who chose Krishnamurti as the World Savior, was himself quite a character.

1/08/2014 05:05:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Leadbeater chose the world savior the same way Michael Jackson chose visitors to Neverland.

1/08/2014 06:10:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

well ol' Ledbelly maybe had a 'good eye'?

What is your connection with Krishnamurti?

Osho [the Rajmeister-general]:

It is a real mystery. I have loved him since I have known him, and he has been very loving towards me. But we have never met; hence the relationship, the connection is something beyond words. We have not seen each other ever, but yet…perhaps we have been the two persons closest to each other in the whole world. We had a tremendous communion that needs no language, that need not be of physical presence….
You are asking me about my connection with him. It was the deepest possible connection—which needs no physical contact, which needs no linguistic communication. Not only that, once in a while I used to criticize him, he used to criticize me, and we enjoyed each other's criticism—knowing perfectly well that the other does not mean it. Now that he is dead, I will miss him because I will not be able to criticize him; it won't be right. It was such a joy to criticize him. He was the most intelligent man of this century, but he was not understood by people.
He has died, and it seems the world goes on its way without even looking back for a single moment that the most intelligent man is no longer there. It will be difficult to find that sharpness and that intelligence again in centuries. But people are such sleep walkers, they have not taken much note. In newspapers, just in small corners where nobody reads, his death is declared. And it seems that a ninety-year-old man who has been continuously speaking for almost seventy years, moving around the world, trying to help people to get unconditioned, trying to help people to become free—nobody seems even to pay a tribute to the man who has worked the hardest in the whole of history for man's freedom, for man's dignity.
I don't feel sorry for his death. His death is beautiful; he has attained all that life is capable to give. But I certainly feel sorry for the whole world. It goes on missing its greatest flights of consciousnesses, its highest peaks, its brightest stars. It is too much concerned with trivia... he are the world

1/08/2014 11:57:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

...meanwhile can we agree at which point things reach a
last straw?

1/09/2014 12:18:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Syncoonicity. I'm slowly (but surely) working my way through editing some sections of MotT for Rick, and just started Letter VII: The Chariot, which concerns the spiritual temptation of the victorious through his victory itself. It is the temptation to act “in one’s own name”, to act as master instead of as servant.

1/09/2014 12:58:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Also, it suddenly seems to me that it would be possible to rephrase some of UF's formulas in Sphinxian terms. For instance,

That which is above being as that which is below, renunciation below sets in motion forces of accomplishment above and the renunciation of that which is above sets in motion forces of accomplishment below

or,

Sphinx: Your temper is very quick, my friend. But until you learn to master your rage —
Mr. Furious: Your rage will become your master? [The Sphinx freezes, caught] That's what you were gonna say, right? Right?
Sphinx: ... Not necessarily.

1/09/2014 01:18:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

And until I learn to master my sleep, my sleep will master me. Here it is, 7:30, and I have to get ready for work at 8:00.

Someone should make a film about a group of second string wannabe gurus:

"You're... you're all enlightened!"

"Well, we fight the ego. Call it what you will."

1/09/2014 07:38:00 AM  
Blogger ge said...

That fat fock, tubby turd Christie who threw the election to Obama ['cos he wasnt veeped?] is goin DOWN---a prime example of ego at its worst

1/09/2014 08:06:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Christie did not learn to hide his strikes from his opponents. Now they are striking his hide.

1/09/2014 08:11:00 AM  
Blogger ted said...

Christie was probably the only republican that could have taken on Hillary. Oh well.

1/09/2014 09:55:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Speaking of "someone should make a film...", I'd settle for one of those Hitler's bunker YouTubes of when the disciples brought the "bad (ego) news" to Cohen.

1/09/2014 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"Everyone leave the room except for Wilber, Chopra, Dyer, and Robbins."

1/09/2014 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

I'd love to see that one.

Adolph: (somewhat calmly) "Well...at least none of us enlightened ones had admitted to having ego."

(those in room shift uncomfortably. Chopra loosens his collar, breathing roughly)

Adolph:(glancing around sharply)"What?!"

1/09/2014 12:26:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

Did anyone catch Dennis Miller's description of his upcoming Christmas dinner? They were having 'Turduckentee", ie:
a duck
inside a chicken
inside a turkey
inside NJ governor
Chris Christie

1/09/2014 01:24:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Oh, that is just wrong.

1/09/2014 01:25:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

My wife had Miller on when I was in the house a while ago. She didn't tell me about that one. That's hilarious.

When I first heard about the lane closures, I thought maybe Christie had gotten out of his car and they were waiting for a 55-gallon drum of butter to get him back in. Or maybe he had gone jogging and created a harmonic vibration that collapsed part of the bridge.

"The governor has fallen and he can't get up."

"We're gonna need a bigger forklift."

1/09/2014 02:04:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Hillary versus Christie would be Hulk Hogan versus Roddy Piper, minus the legitimacy.

1/09/2014 02:22:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

For any that didnt catch the POV of Maharushie, he months ago pointed out that Christie may well challenge Hillary....for the Democrat slot

1/09/2014 02:44:00 PM  
Blogger ted said...

It's ok to expect the unexpected, but there should be some logic to speculation than just shock. Just to say Christie is going to run as a Dem is like the guy over Thanksgiving who said to me Obama is going to change term limits so that he can run for a third term. Oh yeah. Where is that coming from?

1/09/2014 02:59:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

Ted, BO has already finessed more than a dozen illegal-nonpresidential power
plays unchecked...again as the Maha points out: his planning to stay in DC after this term is a way for him to stay at the center of the action, so that any time new Repub. leadership does what they can to unravel his messes, he'll be able to call the sycophantic cheerleaders of the media around to complain and point fingers and receive respect as if he still is in charge, so he hardly needs more sanctioned terms [not that the thought doesnt enter his noggin], and any damn hater racists who dare complain....

1/10/2014 03:01:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Something about Cohen calling his bad-news-bringers "my students".
Ain't he sumthin

1/11/2014 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

The Bad News Bearers.

1/11/2014 11:08:00 AM  

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