Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Discrimination with Deference

I suspect that blogging will be light to sporadic for the remainder of June. To return to matters at hand, we're still pondering the question of whether the "atheist New Ager who meditates and claims to be enlightened is accessing" the same reality we are, and "is there a dark side to this practice?"

Again, it comes down to discernment. Yes, of spirits, but also just plain discernment, as in discrimination, distinction, and differentiation. For what is it we are attempting to discern? In the end, just truth, and truth is found everywhere, i.e., in every nook and cranny of existence.

To paraphrase Schuon, our task, always and everywhere, is to distinguish reality from appearances, no less in science than in religion. That we can even do this at all is a statement about something extraordinary in man. No other animal can discern the reality beneath appearances. That we can do so is already evidence of the spirit we seek.

Or in other words, while animals are essentially proportioned to their environment, man alone is proportioned to something far greater than the material world -- to the totality of existence and beyond, to the Absolute ground of things: "the sense of the Absolute" -- of God -- "coincides with totality of intelligence" (Schuon).

Which is why nothing short of God satisfies the intelligence, not excluding the intelligence of the godless. That is to say, the godless simply substitute a faux absolute to serve as the ground of their own intelligence, not knowing that this is a tautology; in other words, they implicitly project something of their own intelligence to serve as its own ground.

Spitzer has a good explanation of how this works in his The Soul's Upward Yearning. In fact, there is a whole chapter devoted to proving the existence of God by just this means. It's about 50 pages long. Not sure if I can condense it into a paragraph or two.

I suppose it ultimately comes down to what he calls the "Gödel enigma," which goes to how it is that human intelligence is always "beyond any set of predescribed rules and algorithms." It accounts for why any form of rationalism is simply swallowing its own tail. There is no way to get beyond it without at least implicit awareness of a truth from outside or beyond the system. That's the enigma. And thank God for it, because without it we would be as enclosed as any other animal. True, our prison pod would be slightly larger, but still a prison.

It turns out that this little enigma is the key to Everything. As Spitzer puts it, we "have the capacity to see any mathematical theory in light of the horizon of 'mathematical intelligibility,'" which simultaneously "reveals limits to our current knowledge and points to higher-level solutions within the horizon of intelligibility."

Thus, our intelligence can never be explained from below; rather, intelligence always transcends any "below" it posits out of its own substance. Human intelligence, free will, and creativity come from above and beyond; we are "the only transcendental species tacitly aware of a horizon of complete and unrestricted intelligibility," such that "God is notionally present within our consciousness, making possible free inquiry and creativity." This "implicit God" is what I mean by O. A spiritual practice is what renders O explicit.

But revelation also comes into play here, for revelation is O rendering itself explicit to and for us. Human intelligence can only approach O in an asymptotic manner, for again, our intelligence always surpasses any system it can come up with. Which is why manmade religion -- no less than rationalism -- necessarily chases its own tail. Scientology and Scientism are twins brought up in different families.

It is stupid to defer to any manmade idol. Rather, it only makes sense to defer to God.

Back to discernment of spirits. Here is the bottom line: "The most important rule is the following: if a particular spiritual idea, decision, or direction leads in the long term to an increase in faith, hope, and love, it very probably is inspired by the Holy Spirit, but if it leads to a decrease" in these, then "it probably comes from an evil spirit."

In the past I have likened it to driving an invisible car into the (equally invisible) Great Attractor. We must guide the vehicle by "feel." What is it we are feeling? Spitzer explains that we are guided by affective and spiritual consolation and desolation.

Affective consolation "refers to an experience or feeling of peace, joy, love, mystery, transcendence, sacredness, awe, glory, and ultimately home (being)."

Conversely, affective desolation is "precisely the opposite: it is a feeling or experience of being alienated from the Divine or not being at home in the Totality."

However, there is more to it than this, because sometimes God uses affective and spiritual desolation for his own ends; for example, think of the desolation you feel upon exposure to someone deepaking the chopra. If you were to experience affective consolation upon such exposure, that would be an example of the Evil One seducing you with a meretricious imitation of the real thing.

We're outta time here. To be continued...


Blogger julie said...

However, there is more to it than this, because sometimes God uses affective and spiritual desolation for his own ends

Yes, just so. As another example, anyone who can look upon the current state our country and of the West - that is, all that once was Christendom - in general without a feeling of spiritual desolation is most certainly heading toward the wrong attractor.

Along those lines, though, the statement earlier in the post that "if a particular spiritual idea, decision, or direction leads in the long term to an increase in faith, hope, and love, it very probably is inspired by the Holy Spirit" gives me pause. Not because it is wrong, exactly, but seems like people can experience just such feelings when they base their faith on their own desires. It is all too easy to give oneself license for all sorts of mischief by declaring, "God wants me to be happy. This makes me happy, therefore, God wants it for me." And thus, having "God's" seal of approval, they may indeed feel more faithful, hopeful and loving.

6/21/2016 10:20:00 AM  
Blogger Roy Lofquist said...

I was a materialist, a determinist, an atheist for many years. I pursued my studies, becoming more and more convinced, until I ran smack dab into the dead ends, the Quantum Enigma and Goedl. I came to the realization that the order spiritual is vastly greater than the order temporal through logic and rational inquiry. I doesn't matter how we get here, just that we do.

6/21/2016 12:41:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Too many worthy nuggets to pick one to amplify today.

With regard to Julie's second point, I have seen this "God wants us to be happy" thing play out in churches where people claimed to be hearing from the Holy Spirit. The key to the truth of the statement is "long term".

False prophecy, so to speak, works fine in the short term but quickly wilts and decays like a cut flower.

6/21/2016 03:32:00 PM  
Blogger Allena-C said...

Hi Julie, God has a Seal that approves things? :)

6/21/2016 08:36:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Yes. His name is Captain Snickerdoodle and he loves crab cakes and oysters, if you want to get on his good side.

6/21/2016 08:43:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Mushroom, to your point "long term" really does make a difference. I was just reading at McCain's about a guy who exemplifies my point. He is his own god, and wants himself to be happy, so why not be "polyamorous" and, like, live the dream? Sounds like it worked for him just fine, until it didn't...

6/21/2016 08:57:00 PM  
Blogger Allena said...


6/22/2016 12:41:00 AM  

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