Friday, July 21, 2017

The Essence and Form of Political Truth

Yesterday while pondering this question of the form and essence of religious truth, it occurred to me that one can look upon the same distinction vis-a-vis politics, at least here in the U.S.

I don't know enough about other political systems to say whether the U.S. is the only one that draws this distinction between "political truth" and its formal expression. However, I do know that the entire project of the left is founded upon denying this distinction.

What I'm talking about is the distinction between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, the former expressing universal truth -- the essence -- the latter defining its particular political expression. The essence goes to the nature of reality, AKA the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God.

The essence of the Declaration is situated "above" the form of Constitution. It expresses the atemporal and universal truths "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

But these essential truths need a form, hence the Constitution. The Founders even say so: "to secure these [essential] rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." Which leads to the necessary corollary that when the form fails to uphold the essence, then the form is no longer binding, and we're outta here:

[W]henever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these [essential] ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such [anterior and universal] principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

The most articulate defender of this view was Abraham Lincoln (cf. the Koon Klassic A New Birth of Freedom). In this regard, you will notice that the civil war we are currently experiencing is the same old civil war that has been going on since the founding, and indeed, since the dawn of man. It is none other than the war between essence and form. It is Genesis 3 All Over Again.

The left of course wants to have its crock and force us to eat it too. Its guiding principle is that Truth Doesn't Exist and We are its Prophets. Or better, Enforcers.

For example, there is no such thing as human nature but women have an absolute right to a dead baby. Or, marriage is just a piece of paper but homosexuals are deprived of the dignity owed human beings without it. The list is pretty much endless. We're especially seeing the drama play out with regard to freedom of speech, about which the left is no longer even trying to conceal its deadly hostility.

Think of the Dred Scott decision: "the language used in the Declaration of Independence" demonstrates that blacks are not "intended to be included in the general words used in that memorable instrument." Oh really? Tell us more: blacks don't even have so much as a single right to which "the white man [is] bound to respect."

Notice the sleight of hand, as Taney even attempts to root this lie in a universal truth that is above the Constitution: this notion of cosmic inequality is "fixed and universal in the civilized portion of the white race," "an axiom in morals as well as in politics" which no one would ever think of disputing. No one! Welcome to the oppressive world of Political Correctness, 19th century version.

The leftist error of a "living Constitution" isn't the only possible cosmic bainfart here. There are also good conservative judges who only consider the "four corners" of the Constitution, without reference to the Declaration. In other words, they reject the natural rights theory of the Founders, and regard the Constitution as self-sufficient.

But nothing outside God is self-sufficient, and any attempt to render it so will inevitably become brittle and sclerotic. Yes the Constitution is ALIVE!, but only so long as it is rooted in the deathless truths of the Declaration. If the Constitution empowers the hands of the state, it is only because there is a Mind posited in the Declaration. If there is no Mind anterior to them, then the hands just grab Power with no limiting principle.

We're only dealing with the Big Picture today, without getting down into the weeds. But it also occurs to me that the Declaration is about Absoluteness, while the Constitution is necessarily relative -- i.e., relative the absolute truth of the Declaration.

This leads to another trick of the left: deny the absoluteness of the Declaration in order to re-situate it in constitutional law. Indeed, all of their malign constitutional mischief takes this form.

Marriage, for example, is a natural right which is anterior to the state, and which the state can only defend, not create. Nevertheless, homosexual marriage was conjured by the state on June 26, 2015. Which means the state has brazenly undermined a natural right for which reason it exists to defend in the first place. In other words, the state loudly proclaimed a rejection of its reason for being.

More generally, the natural law traditionalist has no rights to which the liberal elitist is bound to respect.

Now, governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes. But the left's assault on the Laws of Nature and Nature's God isn't very light; pretty heavy-handed, rather. And if it is permanent, then we're outta here.

Liberalism faltered when it turned out it could not cope with truth.... The liberal project began to fail when it began to lie. That was the mid-sixties… the rot set in and has continued since. --Daniel Patrick Moynihan:

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Cosmic Heresy and Intrinsic Orthodoxy

I have a surprise early appointment, so this post ended up raising more questions than it had the time to answer or properly dodge. We'll pick up the thread tomorrow...

Douthat's Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics very much dovetails with our recent posts on the subject of meta-theology. It too raises many more problems than it resolves. Moreover, the book is more sociological than theological, such that the author never even gets around to defining exactly what he means by heresy or bad religion. Rather, he just knows them when he sees them. But by what criteria?

Schuon, who is deeper and more subtle than any mere Timesman could ever be, notes that there are two forms of heresy, intrinsic and extrinsic. The latter applies only to this or that religion, while the former goes to religion as such.

For example, it would represent a Christian heresy to regard Mary as co-redemptrix. But is belief in salvation via the divine feminine intrinsically heretical?

Actually, it looks like the idea is only borderline heretical, at least for Catholics; or, it can be kosher so long as Mary isn't on the identical plane as Jesus. But for Protestants the whole idea would indeed be heretical. This only goes to the difficulty of nailing down heresy, both intrinsic and extrinsic.

Also, I have this idea that when a religion declares a cosmic orthodoxy to be heretical, the rejected truth will have a way of returning unbidden and unnoticed. The question of Mary is just one example: you can drive the divine feminine out with a pitchfork, but she always returns.

Furthermore -- and more problematically -- she can return in distorted, grotesque, and deviant ways, as in feminism, Gaia-ism, and the cult of global warming. It is very much as if the Church's focus on Mary allows for a healthy expression of a kind of intrinsic longing, for on the human plane it can't get any more primordial than the mamamatrix. It's gonna come out somehow.

The rock bottom question is how to determine when religion is bad and/or heretical. Again, by what criteria? By what right can a man who believes in the resurrection criticize the man who believes in reincarnation? Surely, he can't just call him irrational, let alone heretical, since reincarnation would be a Christian heresy but Hindu orthodoxy.

In a way, Schuon's entire oeuvre deals with this question from one angle or another "Exoterism," he writes, "puts the form -- the credo -- above the essence -- Universal Truth," while esoterism (or what we are calling meta-theology) regards the form (credo) as a function of the essence (Universal Truth). A deviation from this Universal Truth would represent an intrinsic heresy.

Let's take an obvious Universal Truth, that God is one. A religion that posits, say, two ultimate realities in eternal conflict would be intrinsically heretical. Even -- or especially -- the early fathers had to grapple with this one: how to reconcile God's threeness with his oneness without descending into intrinsic heresy.

Those early ecumenical councils testify to just how seriously they took the matter. Indeed, if the second commandment conveys an intrinsic orthodoxy -- don't worship idols and other false gods -- then everything was on the line in getting it right. Get it wrong and you end up with an intrinsically heretical religion such as Scientology or leftism.

In short, on the one hand they were obviously dealing with questions of extrinsic heresy, i.e., heresies unique to Christianity. But without stating it or even realizing it, they were also dealing with questions of intrinsic heresy, i.e., ruling out metaphysical ideas that are just plain wrong, everywhere and everywhen.

The question is, is the credo -- the particular form -- the criterion of the Universal Truth, or is there a Universal Truth that is the criterion of the particular form? It seems to me that asking this approaches a kind of vertical third-rail. Within a religion, one is discouraged from touching it.

Why is this? Because doing so might relativize the credo, such that it is no longer possible to believe it in good faith. Religions tend to absolutize themselves because failure to do so will result in failure to express and transmit absoluteness, at least to the average Joe.

Just thinking out loud here, but what if we cannot actually separate the form from the essence? This was the big divide between Plato and Aristotle -- that and the question of boxers vs. briefs -- i.e., whether the essence is in the form, or whether there is a "platonic" realm of pure essences above the individual expression. But it's not a crude either/or question, hence the breakthrough discovery of the boxer brief.

Seriously: what if there is no essence except in its expression? In our minds we can divide them, but they are really indivisible -- just as we can recognize a frog, but there is no nonlocal realm of frogginess that exists separately from the Frenchman in question.

"What characterizes esoterism" writes Schuon, is that "on contact with a dogmatic system, it universalizes the symbol or the religious concept..."

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Meta-Theology, Esoterism, and Sola Relatio

I don't even like the word "esoterism" because it sounds elitist and therefore Gnostic, the latter involving salvation via some special knowledge reserved for the Few.

Nevertheless, if the truth sets one free, then liberation and salvation obviously have some relation to knowledge. Lies set one free, but free from a proper relation to reality. At least for awhile. Reality can be an abusive partner if one persists in being unfaithful to her.

All religions speak of liberation and salvation, but usually emphasize one or the other. Where eastern religions generally speak of liberation, western ones preach salvation.

But one cannot be saved without truth, and to be liberated is to be rescued from the various lies and illusions that ensnare us.

In addition to truth and liberation, there is presence: God is truth, God is freedom, and God is here. Frankly, any one will do, and each entails the others.

Theology is always situated within this or that religion, but esoterism is meta-theological. This is essentially no different from how metaphysics is situated beyond every academic discipline. Now, metaphysics is not popular these days, and meta-theology has never been popular.

However, we know it isn't possible to make any meaningful statement about reality outside a metaphysical frame of reference (even the word "reality" is metaphysically loaded with assumptions). People who deny metaphysics -- or who pretend to do without it -- just end up being the worst and most naive of metaphysicians.

For example, science wedded to a bad metaphysic redounds to scientism. Psychology rooted in a naive or unreflective metapsychology devolves to an absurcular psychologism. Similarly, history can become a myopic historicism, logic a grandiose tautology, economics a presumption to knowledge that is impossible in principle.

There is one truth but an infinite number of deviations therefrom. Some people confuse the infinitude of the latter with "freedom." But relativism is just the world's biggest prison.

So: I wonder if there is a meta-theology that is to theology as metaphysics is to the world?

By the way, in using the word "metaphysics," I am partial to Whitehead's definition of the term -- which I don't precisely remember at the moment but has something to do with an overarching theory that encompasses Everything That is the Case. Anything that exists or happens is explained by it, and nothing can exist or happen outside its laws or principles or habits.

Everything written above was provoked by one little passage from Schuon, to the effect that it would be absurd to demand from theology what is perfectly acceptable to esoterism (or what we prefer to call meta-theology).

A central purpose of theology is to transmit the Absolute. However, it is generally conflated with the Absolute, which reduces to idolatry. This is precisely the plane where religious quarrels occur, especially the deadly ones. Being that there cannot be two Absolutes, one must go, absolutely. The jihad is on.

I wonder: is there a meta-theology that is built into Christianity, thus freeing it from the errors of "theologism" (the latter neologism being to theology what scientism is to metaphysics)? Does Christianity convey an intrinsic ironization of itself?

I believe so. In this respect -- and no disrespect is intended -- it is quite different from, say, Islam or Judaism, which are "religions of the book." Christianity is most definitely not a religion of the book. Rather, it is a religion of the person and of the relationship. This latter statement is, of course, filled with meta-theological implications.

A book is an object. A person is a subject, and indeed, the meta-cosmic person is the very source of subjectivity. And a relation is not a possession. Just what it "is" is quite mysterious, because it is not only the space between Things That Are, but makes them What They Are. Here we find ourselves outside the world of sola scriptura and inside the space of sola relatio.

In other words, there is This and there is That. But there is no ultimate This or That. Rather, what is ultimate is the relation between This and That, which, if I am not mistaken, goes to the centrality of Trinity: there is no Father save for in-relation-to the Son, and vice versa.

The relation is the thing, and this relation is Love, apparently. Everything herebelow is substance-in-relation. Which should be no surprise if everything above is also substance-in-relation.

A thought just popped into my head: remember Esperanto? It is a manmade meta-language that is supposed to transcend and harmonize the world's diverse tongues. Is that what we're doing here? I don't think so, because Esperanto is obviously not the Logos from which language flows (and languages flow). To imagine the Logos can be reduced to a human language is literally pre-posterous.

Now, the ultimate substance must be beyond-being. It is the Father of all. Ah ha! But there is no ultimate substance, or at least one that isn't in-relation. Therefore, beyond-being must be in relation to being, as Father is to Son. And again, this relation is love. So, there is indeed something beyond beyond-being, and it is the relation of love. It is the mysterious Third that haunts all things.

This pneumatic third spills over into everything. In my opinion it explains the intelligibility of the world, which is just the light of truth pouring forth and giving itself over to intelligence. Likewise beauty, which is just the divine glory in its metaphysical transparency. And what is virtue but man's participation in the sovereign good?

I guess that's about it for today. I would summarize by saying that meta-theology entails three human imperatives: know truth, love beauty, and do good. But knowing, loving, and doing are all relations.

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Good News and the Fake News

Just another rambling interior dialogue with myself, AKA circumnavelgazing the vast and luminous ocean of... Friday, I guess.

It's tricky enough for human beings to know what is, but it's equally important to know what is important. It seems that the purpose of religion is to provide a shorthand means to accomplish both, because not everyone -- few people, actually -- have the time or aptitude to do this on their own. Indeed, left to their own devices, they will nearly always get it wrong.

How do we know this? Consider the purpose of college, which was to set aside a space free of worldly concerns, so that Really Smart People could explore the nature of What Is and helps us understand What Is Important. How's that working out?

Note that their theories -- in particular, in the social sciences -- come and go, while premodern approaches such as Christianity and Buddhism are still with us.

The idea we're playing with is that religion is an expression of Religion -- in other words, that there is a universal truth prior to religion, but which religion embodies and expresses. It seems to me that the great majority of religious folk would reject this idea out of hand. But how can any doctrine be self-authenticating? Mustn't there be an external criteria of truth against which to compare it?

I haven't fully thought this through, but I'm guessing that believers appeal to such external criteria all the time, but without acknowledging it. Let's take an obvious example: just because one is a Christian, this doesn't mean one cannot make an appeal to common sense. And yet, common sense is not an explicit part of Christian doctrine.

Analogously, is there an "uncommon sense," an eternal Truth written on our hearts? If so, it is something we have either forgotten or has become obscured by layers of passion, self-interest, cultural nonsense, higher education, what have you.

Here again, a shorthand way of expressing this truth is to simply say that man is fallen and be done with it. Man cannot save himself, which is another way of saying that he no longer has access to the truth that saves and liberates, so he must receive it from an external source. Hence the need of revelation.

It just occurred to me. You know the old gag that where two or three gather in His name, there I AM? Well, conversely, where two or three get together while explicitly excluding Him, then there the anti-Christ appears in their midst. Do you see why? The principle operates as surely and inevitably as a mathematical equation. You can commune with O or with Ø. There is no in between.

You must surrender to what surpasses you. This presupposes recognition of what surpasses oneself, and how many tenured do that? Isn't the whole point of tenure to set oneself up as the authority? It is a spiritual practice, but an inverted one we call the Way of Pride.

There are actually two parts to this: 1) recognition, and 2) surrender. One way to tell if you have truly recognized what transcends you is that you will spontaneously bow before it. This is something the mediocre man cannot -- or more likely, will not -- do.

I'm thinking of a proud atheist of my acquaintance. Several, come to think of it. I cannot imagine them bowing before anything or anyone. But that is only testimony to the fact that they recognize no reality -- and certainly no authority -- higher than themselves.

Which is another way of saying they recognize no reality, full stop. And they are hardly atypical. To recognize greatness is to want to submit to it.

The friend who is staying with us has a weekly men's Bible study group at his house. Being temporarily homeless, it more or less took place at my place. He mentioned that he had always been captivated by the image of the knight, who is a warrior but bows before the good king who in turn bows before God. I can't explain it as well as he did, but the idea is that he is restrained by a kind of vertical reality to which he willingly submits. In the absence of that reality, the knight is just a trained killer.

Back to the main subject: essence and form. Do they apply all the way up through religion and into God? Here is how Schuon explains it: "by definition every religion has to present itself as the only possible one, since its point of view is dependent on the Truth and consequently must exclude any danger of relativism..."

In other words, the Absolute is Absolute, just as God is God. There can be only one. The moment it sets foot in finitude, it is something other than the Absolute, and yet, it must express Absoluteness in a way accessible to man. The most essential lesson from this is that the Absolute is. Knowing it is, we submit to it.

Just so, the Great Danger is relativism in all its forms. It is the metacosmic Error of errors. And isn't this the lesson of Genesis 3? For when man falls, he falls precisely into relativism, tenure, and fake news.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

A Sporting God

A little crazy around here. Some good friends are between homes -- the lease ended before the new house is habitable -- so they and three of their kids are staying here. So I'm a little fuzzy this morning. It is quite possible that the following post contains a lot of repetition, just stuff that bOb has ruminated about in the past...

In case you're wondering, most of my posts over the past month or more have been inspired by Schuon's Esoterism as Principle and Way, but not in any systematic way. Rather, for the most part, I simply read a line or two and things take off from there. Thus, despite all the posts that have been generated, I'm still stuck on the first essay, called Understanding Esoterism.

I find that interesting in itself. It is the polar opposite of saturated writing, about which there is nothing more to be said. There is certainly a role for this type of language, for example, with regard to law. A well written law should mean what it means, nothing more, nothing less.

But notice the mischief that ensues when liberal Supreme Court justices are inspired by what they regard as an unsaturated (AKA living) document. That's precisely how we end up with a Dred Scott, a Roe v. Wade, an Obergefell v. Hodges: slavery, death, and absurdity, for starters.

I suppose the difference is that something is saturated when it can be contained by our understanding. But certain types of language can never be contained, scripture being the quintessential case. Not only can scripture not be contained, but -- it should go without saying -- it cannot contain God. Or better, God is contained in scripture, but cannot be contained by it. In short, the finite cannot contain the infinite.

I didn't even know Schuon was going to say this, but here it is: "That the Psalms and Gospels are sublime can be accepted without the least hesitation." In other words, one can readily find God in them. However, "to believe that they contain in their very literalness... everything that is offered by the Upanishads or Bhagavadgita, is a completely different question."

I forgot. What is the question? The question is whether this or that scripture can exhaustively contain God, and the answer must be No. Am I pushing against an open door, or do we have disagreement? Which is fine. I'm speaking only for myself.

Let's put it this way: there are certain things I can't help believing, one of them being that God is necessarily beyond form, but provides man with certain forms in order to meet, greet, and understand Him. And I cannot believe that God would withhold all such forms to the majority of men, thus condemning them to ignorance, slavery, and ultimately, perdition. That wouldn't be very sporting, and our God is a sporting God.

For most of human history this wasn't an issue, since various groups kept to themselves. But now we know about these other so-called revelations, and there are only three ways to deal with them: 1) Those other folks are crazy, and only we have the truth; 2) No, you're all crazy, and this only proves that religion is invented by man; 3) Not so fast -- a religious revelation is a form of the formless, or a local expression of the nonlocal; the potential expressions of the formless are by definition infinite and inexhaustible, so of course there are different forms.

Which goes to the title of Schuon's essay, "understanding esoterism": "In fact, sapiential esoterism -- total and universal, not formalistic -- can alone satisfy every legitimate mental need," for only it "can reply to all the questions raised by religious divergences and limitations..."

Let us take, for example, the doctrine of sola scriptura. In a very real way, it runs headlong into the Great Wall of Gödel, since it endeavors to be both consistent and complete. But no amount of cogitation can eliminate certain inconsistencies. When people come up against such a wall, they often just rename the inconsistencies mysteries, and leave it at that.

But what about those legitimate mental needs? What about bOb?

First of all, a map needn't be perfect in order to get you where you need to go. But Schuon implies the existence of some sort of perfect map, one that can satisfy every mental need. Every legitimate mental need, to be precise.

Really? A Bold Statement Tell me more.

Yes, there are certain keys -- AKA principles -- that allow us to not only enter this or that religion, but religion as such. Importantly, this doesn't imply that all religions are equal, any more than positing the existence of beauty means that all artistic objects are equally beautiful. Rather, it actually gives us a vertical standard with which to situate the beauty on our side of creation.

Consider the fact that certain parts of a religion are more important or fundamental than others. How do we recognize this? It must be because certain ideas are closer to the Principle that animates them. Not only are some more distant, but in another essay Schuon posits a "human margin" where the revelation shades off into a region that is more man than God.

Gosh. Wouldn't it be great if we had an objective and disinterested way to explain to a religious believer where and why he has it wrong? Is there a universal standard to which we can appeal, or are we inevitably stuck with ignorant armies clashing by night?

To be continued...

Monday, July 10, 2017

Simon Says Grab Your Bucket

So often problems result from trying to divide complementarities that cannot be divided -- for example, realism from nominalism.

The latter denies the existence of essences, such that there is no such thing as (for example) human nature, rather, just this or that particular human. A nominalist would insist that essences such as human nature are just products of our imagination that do not exist in reality.

Which sounds crazy to a Raccoon. Nevertheless, it has its place in the scheme of things. For example, I remember stories of people on LSD suddenly realizing that this was a TREE! Not just any tree, but a TREE! Prior to this realization they had merely perceived the category of treeness, but now they were seeing and communing with a real TREE!

Trees notwithstanding, there are some entities that cannot be members of any other category. Or one entity, anyway: God. Only God is God -- although even then, there are certain qualifications, more on which as we proceed.

Man would be the closest such entity this side of creation, being that every human being is a unique instance, with the exception of MSM journalists, who are all the same.

As to the qualifier around God being God, Schuon suggests -- or insists, rather -- that the first division is not between God and creation, but rather, within God. Indeed, you might say that the essence/form complementarity extends all the way up and into God: there is the formless God known only to God, and the "confessional face" of God, which is turned toward us.

By way of analogy, we can see our friend's face and know it's him. But is it ever really possible to know him, from the inside out? No.

And indeed, the central Christian mystery is God literally taking on a human face. But can we really know what's going on behind the face? Nah.

In any event, it should be uncontroversial to a Raccoon that "The psychic and mental consciousness perceives appearances" whereas "intellectual or heart knowledge perceives the Essence." We see both, but not with the same eye(s).

Recall Jesus asking the disciples face-to-face: Who do you say I am? Peter, stone cold sober but with eyes surely not made by Darwin, blurts out, You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!

Like anyone could know that! Or, like any merely terrestrial eyes could see that.

For this is not revealed to Simon "by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven." A communication of essence occurs, but it is Essence-to-essence, as it were -- from the deepest part of reality to the deepest part of the erstwhile Simon. No doubt Simon surprised even -- or especially -- himself with his left-field utterance.

If the first "division" is between Godhead and Creator, the second must be between Creator and Creation. Bear in mind that this is all "in a manner of speaking," or from the human point of view. From God's perspective...

Well, we can't really know, can we? But it might be something as simple and spontaneous as the Aeon playing like a child along the shore with with colored balls (to paraphrase a gag from Heraclitus). God is the endless nonlocal ocean, we are the materialized local shore. Didn't Rumi say some perfectly nonsensical things about this?

It's been awhile. Let me see.

The introduction says that Rumi's creativity was like a continuous fountain "from beyond forms and the mind," or "from a mind within the mind." His poems "are not discrete entities but a fluid," "not so much about anything as spoken from within something." Indeed, his poetry "can be felt as a salt breeze" from the ocean, "traveling inland." And inward.

Example.

My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that, / and I intend to end up there...

I'm like a bird from another continent, sitting in this aviary...

Lo, I am with you always means that when you look for God, / God is in the look in your eyes, / in the thought of looking, nearer to you than your self...

So

Try to be a sheet of paper with nothing on it. / Be a spot of ground where nothing is growing, / where something might be planted, / a seed, possibly, from the Absolute....

Do you think I know what I'm doing? / That for one breath or half-breath I belong to myself? / As much as a pen knows what it's writing, / or the ball can guess where it's going next.

But

This is how it always is / when I finish a poem. / A great silence comes over me, and I wonder why I ever thought / to use language.

I'm lookin' at you, bOb!

1. Grab your little bucket. 2. Proceed to the ocean. 3. Fill bucket with colored balls. 4. Play on shore. 5. Repeat.

Child playing on shore with colored ball, taken by Mrs. G:

Beach Boy #beach #flip #momwithcamera #cali #photography #photos #weareparkour #freerunning #flipping #parkour #pier

A post shared by Leslie Godwin (@parkourmom99) on

Friday, July 07, 2017

The Latest in Boredom Extension

I overslept for some reason. However, I awakened with a post on my mind. Or at least I thought it was a post. As it stands, it's more of an idea for a post, with insufficient time to flesh it out. If only I had endless time!

Instapundit often links to articles on the latest ideas in life extension. I'll admit to having dabbled in it since my early 20s, ingesting various antioxidants, phytochemicals, anti-inflammatories, microbrews, and other magic potions.

Do they work? Well, it's difficult to conduct a randomized double-blind controlled study on oneself. But I mainly do it for reasons of general health and hypochondria, not because I want to live forever. Also, I try to do anything that can give the old melon a boost, even if it's at the margins.

It seems to me that the desire to live forever must relate to the decline in religiosity. There is a widespread belief among atheists that people are religious mainly because they fear death -- or in other words, it's just a secret desire to live forever, or life extension by another name.

I can say without hesitation that if I were given the choice of a greatly extended life without God, or of the usual four score and change with God, I would choose the latter. Why?

Because a life without God, no matter how long, would be intolerably boring. Nothing would mean anything. The life of the spirit, which is the most interesting adventure there is, would be off the table. Therefore, what would I do with myself?

By the way, this presupposes that if I were an atheist I would be an honest one. I would understand the implications, which, if seriously entertained, lead to futility, despair, and pointlessness. Basically you are reduced to a life of raw sensation. Anything above that would just be pretending. But that gets boring rather quickly.

Interesting how that works. I'm a big baseball fan, and the Dodgers are having their best year since I've been alive. In fact, they're doing so well that it's almost... boring, something I would never say if they were in second place, or a few games out of a wild card spot. Similarly, pursuing terrestrial immortality can be interesting. But having it? Boring!

What would I do with my mind if I couldn't use it to explore the wild Godhead? I have a painfully low threshold of boredom. Frankly, almost everything bores me. And yet, I am almost never bored. But that is thanks to God. So, if there were no God, I would die of boredom. In that context, life extension would only rub it in.

Put it this way: because God exists, I'm getting a kick out of this terrestrial life. But for the same reason, I wouldn't want it to go on forever. Conversely, if God didn't exist, life might not go on forever, but it would sure feel that way.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

A Preposterous Cosmos and How it Gets that Way

It seems to me that one cannot begin to understand the nature of reality without recourse to the principles of horizontality and verticality. These two are very much like the Yin and Yang of the Tao, and just as primordial. In truth, every phenomenon partakes of both.

Are they iterations of something else, or are they truly fundamental? Just off the top of my head I would say that verticality implies absoluteness, interiority, form, and essence; while horizontality goes to infinitude, exteriority, (prime) matter, and accident.

Other ways of expressing this complementarity are male/female, wave/particle, heaven/earth, purusha/prakriti, noumena/phenomena, brahman/maya, semantics/syntax, container/contained, etc. I'll bet you a dollar you can't even think without partaking of both.

And always, if we attempt to understand the world with only half the complementarity, its partner will inevitably slip in through the back door. It's like the old gag that you can throw nature out with a pitchfork, but she always returns, probably in a bad mood and looking for vengeance.

Speaking of which, what is the left but an organized movement with degrees instead of pitchforks, trying vainly to remake nature into what it isn't? Redefining marriage, for example, is throwing out nature with a blow torch.

As we've mentioned before, what we call "science" is the method par excellence for investigating the horizontal. But to imagine this can be accomplished in the absence of verticality is preposterous.

Which I mean literally, for pre-posterous means to reverse the order of pre and post -- in this case elevating the material world above the mind that comprehends it. Only a human being can engage in science, but a human being cannot be reduced to the horizontal categories of the scientific method.

Conversely, religion as such is all about verticality. But if it forgets horizontality, then it too becomes idiotic. You will notice that dopey religion is often a reaction to dopey science. For example, the fundamentalism of the early 20th century was a reaction to equally kooky scientific ideas, e.g., that Darwinism is adequate to explain man.

But this descent into metaphysical dopiness should not be unexpected, because man is man, irrespective of whether or not this man calls himself religious or irreligious. Indeed, if I were irreligious I would nevertheless call myself religious just to avoid grotesque metaphysical errors. I would search out my own covert religiosity, because I would know it's hiding in there somewhere.

Yesterday I was listening to Rush on the way to work, and he brought up the case of Stephen Hawking, who ought to get some kind of prize for simultaneously being the Smartest Man in the Universe and the Dumbest Ass in Creation. Here is what he was referring to:

On his 75th birthday, renowned physicist Stephen Hawking told the BBC that President Donald Trump’s climate policies could permanently destroy the Earth’s livable climate. “We are close to the tipping point where global warming becomes irreversible,” explained the world’s most famous scientist. “Trump’s action could push the Earth over the brink, to become like Venus, with a temperature of 250º” C (482°F).

I can't even. Or won't, at any rate. I'm almost out of time. Only three years left to blog before Trump burns us all alive.

The other day I read something equally foolish from Einstein, who said a lot of foolish things. Outside physics -- and sometimes even inside -- Einstein was clearly no Einstein.

Anyway, all of the above was provoked by a brief passage by Schuon. I began discussing it a couple of posts back, but here it is in toto:

There is, in man, a subjectivity or a consciousness that is made for looking outwards and for perceiving the world, whether this world is earthly or heavenly; and there is also a consciousness that is made for looking inwards, in the direction of the Absolute or Self, whether this vision be relatively separative or unitive.

In other words, and more to our point about verticality and horizontality, "there is in man a consciousness that is descending and obeys the creative intention of God, and another that is ascending and obeys the divine intention that saves or liberates."

I don't know of a more concise way to symbolize these two directions than (↑) and (↓).

In short, if there is a vertical dimension in the cosmos, then there is an up and a down. Because of this, we can be closer or more distant from truth, from beauty, and from virtue. Furthermore, verticality is precisely what entails the category of obligation or duty or loyalty.

For if there is truth, then are we not obligated to know and conform ourselves to it? If there is beauty, oughtn't we do our best to create and celebrate it? And if we have the gift of distinguishing between good and evil, don't we owe our allegiance to the former?

Out of time. To be continued...

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

The Miracle of Slack

Today of course is "Independence Day." From what? From Great Britain? Yes and no, in that the main purpose of our little rebellion was to restore the supernaturally natural rights to which an English gentleman is entitled.

I have a pile of heretofore unblogged books that touch on this subject, including The Political Theory of the American Founding: Natural Rights, Public Policy, and the Moral Conditions of Freedom; Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy; and After the Natural Law: How the Classical Worldview Supports Our Modern Moral and Political Views. Perhaps I can weave them into something appropriate for the occasion.

Independence is another word for freedom, or at least it presupposes free will.  Our freedom is prior to the state, such that "no one is entitled to take that freedom away," and "everyone is rightfully free of the violence of others."  "Liberty," writes West, "means being left alone, not being coerced by others."

I was thinking about this yesterday, as I had an unusually enslackened day. I was completely caught up with my work, while wife and child are on a parkouring adventure in Utah. As such, the day spread out before me like a vast and trackless mindscape, and I found myself slipping into eternity or something. A bit of satchitananda, AKA BeingConsciousnessBliss: Advanced Leisure Studies.

As it so happens, I'm reading a book that touches on this very subject, a biography of the mystical pioneer Evelyn Underhill, who wrote on the subject way before it became fashion- and profitable. And although there are significant differences, I was struck by the many ways in which her personality is similar to mine.

"Underhill's life was 'quiet'; it was not marked by adventurous acts and deeds." However, recall what was said yesterday about the "recovery of self" (and with it, God) being a kind of "vertical adventure."

Likewise, for Underhill "The adventure here is the inner one, the reconciliation of mind and heart, the development of individual consciousness and its ultimate transcendence." She regarded "the mystic life as the life of adventure with the Real."

I know of no more compelling adventure than extreme seeking. At least it's never boring.

By the way, there is a good line in the book by Nicholas of Cusa that goes precisely to what I mean by orthoparadox: "I have learnt that the place wherein Thou art found unveiled is girt round with the coincidence of contradictories; and this is the wall of Paradise wherein Thou dost abide." So, paradise is encircled by paradox.

For Underhill, perception of spiritual reality is more often "caught" than "taught." We "most easily attain it by sympathetic contagion." This is exactly how it is for me: two authors may discuss the same subject, but one is contagious while the other is... antiseptic.

I touched on this in the book, using the symbol (≈) to stand for the phenomenon. Certainly I always get lots of (≈) from Schuon, which suggests to me that he is a genuine man of spiritual stature (Although "suggests" is not quite right, being that it's an experience and not a thought.) Of course, I do my level best to transmit whatever little bit of (≈) I can to my readers.

Obviously it's not something I have control over, since it can only come through me, not from me. And I can never know if it has happened unless someone is a Witness and lets me know. In any event, I really want people to have an experience with my writing. I've never wanted it to be just about the transmission of information. I'm certainly no scholar, but not an artist either. Apparently there is no name for the practice. Although I suppose verticalisthenics and mental gymgnostics come close.

But Underhill was up to the same thing. She claimed that "she was not primarily a writer, that she was something more and something less." Her lifework (one word) "was a medium through which spiritual reality was revealed; and if that could be shown to be helpful to others, she wanted it made available." Me too! I just want to help. If it's not helpful, I certainly don't want to push it on anyone. As I've said many times, I never recommend the blog. I only offer it.

Underhill spoke "in ordinary language to ordinary people about the deepest human realities." Writing for her was only the means to an end, the end being "the development of a consciousness of the transcendent, the eternal, the absolute, the infinite."

When I speak of dwelling on the threshold of the transdimensional doorway and trying to peer over the subjective horizon, I mean something similar to Underhill: "Like a plain," her life "extends in all directions joining sky and mountains and the very edges of the land itself. It is open terrain across which the eye travels toward the outer boundary of vision where the visible and invisible meet."

And guess what? "The life of Evelyn Undersell points to this outer boundary and seeks to know what lies beyond. It is here at the edge that she camped out and took up her work, attesting that just beyond the seen lies the infinite..." It is "a landscape so rich and great that no one person can explore, apprehend, still less live in all of it." It is a kind of translation of O, which is what makes it similar to art.

Yesterday we spoke of the two worlds -- interior and exterior -- which are somehow One. That One is just over the walls of paradise, but we nevertheless get glimpses of unity all the time. Underhill "always looked for this unity of matter and spirit," which is both "beyond, but embodied in the ordinary."

Speaking of liberty, does religion detract from it? Hardly. It provides a map of vertical space, without which one is reduced to stumbling and bumbling around aumlessly. Just so, "One does not lose one's intellectual liberty when one learns mathematics, though one certainly loses the liberty of doing sums wrong, or doing them by laborious methods."

The trick is to discern, and live from, the Center: problem is, we spend "so much time in running round the arc" while taking "the center for granted."But "it is at the center that the real life of the spirit aims first; thence flowing out to the circumference..." -- a point we've been belaboring for several weeks now.

A fine Indepence Day post this turned out to be! Is there a way to rescue it? Let's just say that real freedom must be lived from, or in light of, the Center, or you're just fooling yoursoph.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Is There Anyone In Here?

I'm not sure how many people are reading the blog anymore, but it seems like Not Many.  Therefore, if the writing seems more introspective, it is probably because I'm mostly talking to myself, just drilling down to see what I can find.... Of course, you are welcome to listen in.

It is difficult to conceive of something more miraculous than the emergence of consciousness in a theretofore non-conscious cosmos -- unless it's the emergence of life in a theretofore lifeless cosmos (we don't say "dead" because death presupposes life).  Every subsequent miracle -- and prior, come to think of it -- is an iteration or fractal of these two, of... what to call it... "living truth."

Wait -- I saw that.  You just conflated consciousness with truth.  Why?

Because consciousness is proportioned to the truth which is its sufficient reason.  In other words, even if we can never say what consciousness "is," we can know what it is for: to know truth. Therefore it must be a kind of prolongation of truth from the center to the periphery;  you could call it the Spark of Divinity at our core -- our terrestrial pilot light.

On the one hand, we possess "a subjectivity or a consciousness that is made for looking outwards and for perceiving the world, whether this world be earthly or heavenly" (Schuon).  At the very least we have consciousness of ponderable empirical realities and of invisible rational ones (e.g., the worlds of logic and mathematics which transcend the senses).

However, note that we can never have "raw" empirical knowledge. Indeed, that is an oxymoron, for sensation is not knowledge.  Rather, we have sensations that are spontaneously "taken up" into knowledge, usually in a completely non-conscious way.   Our five senses work together harmoniously to present us with a World Sensorium, an image of the totality.

That's weird enough.  Weirder still is that "there is also in man a consciousness that is made for looking inwards, in the direction of the Absolute or the Self."  First of all:  how can this be?  A metaphysical Darwinian, for example, regards consciousness as an adaptation to the exterior world -- a world that is obviously prior to the consciousness that somehow emerges out of it.

But Schuon implies that there is also an interior world that is prior to consciousness, and to which we must adapt.  The main point is that consciousness is not just a kind of "empty space."  It is a space, to be sure, but it is an ordered space.  In some ways this order is explicit -- for example, vis-a-vis gender (male or female) -- while in other ways it is implicit.

Regarding the implicit (or implicate) order of the mind, much of this cannot be grasped outside the temporal dimension.  In other words, there are permanent elements in the psyche that nevertheless require time in order to unfold.   Indeed, Raccoon doctrine insists upon the orthoparadox that the ultimate purpose of Life is to become who you are.   This is simultaneously a discovery and recovery, the former going to a vertical excavation, the latter to a horizontal adventure.

So, life is a kind of archaeological dig.  Except this dig extends up and down, inside and out.  You could say its image looks like this: (†).   Except in time:  it is dynamic, not static;  in four (at least) dimensions, not just two or three.

These two worlds -- the interior and exterior -- are quite incommensurable, in the sense that there is no way -- Darwinism notwithstanding -- to derive the former from the latter.   Darwinism can only presuppose a consciousness it can never explain.  Even so, "there is a region between" the two worlds "in which they overlap and give rise to a single subjectivity, and to an existential equilibrium between the two diverging consciousnesses."

In other words, despite the radically incommensurate nature of these two worlds, we somehow experience a unity, at least much of the time. But there are problems, both personal and collective.

For example, Modern Man can't figure out how these two worlds could be unified, so he bifurcates them, AKA dualism.  But this doesn't solve anything, for reality is nevertheless one, and there's not a damn thing we can do about it.

But that is just an example of a more pernicious tendency on the part of man to superimpose his own fantasies upon reality, AKA ideology, AKA Genesis 3 All Over Again.

Let's see how Schuon gets  us out of this existential corner.  "[T]he spiritually realized man can see God in things, and also the principial prototypes of things in God. The psychic and mental consciousness perceives appearances; intellectual or heart consciousness perceives the Essence."

In other words:  to "see God in things" is to see the interior in the exterior, while to "see things in God" is to see the exterior in the interior.   In ether worlds, there exist archetypes and principles that are as it were "two way" phenomena that simultaneously illuminate the inside and out, upside and down.

I'm probably still not explaining it adequately -- whatever "it" is supposed to mean.  Put it this way:  "the purpose of human subjectivity," writes Schuon, is "to be, in relativity, a mirror of the Absolute, at the same time as being a prolongation of Divine Subjectivity."

You could say that the "purpose" of the Son is to be a mirror and prolongation of the Father.  Therefore, the purpose of the Incarnation is to allow us to participate in this circular prolongation-and-mirroring. Which is to say, "To manifest the Absolute in contingency, the Infinite in the finite, Perfection in imperfection" (ibid.).

Not to mention Eternity in time, objectivity in subjectivity, Spirit in matter, Light in darkness...

Friday, June 30, 2017

God has a Bridge to Sell Give Away

"To say man," writes Schuon," is to say form; man is the bridge between form and essence, or between 'flesh' and 'spirit.'"

I was explaining this concept to the young master yesterday -- that human beings, without anyone ever teaching them how, can spontaneously discern the treeness of trees, the dogginess of dogs, and the humanness of humans. Conversely, animals are nominalists: there is only this tree or that tree, but no concept or essence of treeness.

Along these same lines, we've had a number of recent discussions on What the Dog is Thinking. In truth, we can have no idea what it is like to be a dog, since we would have to remove language and conceptualization from the equation. A human can no more "think like a dog" than he can live like a tree. If we did so, we would no longer be men.

Without question, language is what sets us apart from the rest of creation. As with our spontaneous ability to discern essences, no one has to teach us how to speak. Rather, it happens as naturally as instinct does in lower animals.

In the case of animals, instinct is always a limiting principle, e.g., eat this and not that. But language for man is a liberating principle; or rather, it deploys limits in order to open out to the limitless.

There are three possibilities with language: first, it could be a purely horizontal phenomenon, simply assigning arbitrary symbols to concrete realities. Or, it could be reducible to something lower, as in how the ultimate purpose of birdsong is usually related to mating. Or again, it could open out to something higher, as in how, say, poetry uses words to express the wordless.

In reality it accomplishes each of these, for reasons outlined by Schuon above: man is the vertical bridge between form/flesh and essence/spirit. Language is a reflection of the universal Logos, and it seems to me that the Logos is this bridge, precisely. Thus, to the extent that man participates in the Logos, he makes himself the bridge between worlds.

Recall our recent posts on radial vs. circumferential knowledge. If you don't recall them, just imagine a circle with radii extending outward from the central point. Each radii is a celestial memo that carries the Logos with it, from the center to the periphery.

Now, everything is just such a radii, on pain of non-existence. A thing that exists completely apart from the center would be utterly unintelligible and absurd. For our purposes it might as well not exist.

And yet, this is the counter-philosophy of nominalism: that everything is a unique instance with no essential principle. Another name for this misosophy is "logical atomism," which denies wholeness and centrality. It retains a kind of totality, but this totality is just an agglomeration rather than synthesis.

Let's consider the words of our esteemed St. John the Apostle. Not through the eyes of faith, but, just for kicks, through the third eye of pure metaphysics. Wasting no time, he puts forth several essential principles at the outset:

1. In the beginning is the Word (a translation of the Greek Logos).

2. The Logos is with God.

3. The Logos is God.

4. All things are created through the Logos.

5. The Logos is a Him, therefore a person.

6. In the Logos is life, and this life is a kind of light for men.

7. But men have a tendency not to comprehend any of this.

How to make sense of this perfect nonsense? To jump ahead a bit, what if the Logos-Center, instead of merely radiating toward the periphery via centrifugal Logoi, actually incarnates at the periphery? In other words, what if, instead of mere prolongations of the Logos, we can have the real thing, right here, dwelling among us?

Analogously, this would be like the sun itself traveling to our planet instead of just showering us with its rays -- or maybe like Sun Ra somehow visiting planet earth.

It goes without saying that no mere animal can comprehend any of this. Rather, only a logocentric being can -- one who not only possesses language but understands where language comes from.

In effect, Genesis 1 speaks of the prolongation of the Logos to the periphery, AKA the Creation (without which -- or whom -- nothing is created). But John simultaneously parallels this passage while making the more startling claim that the creative principle decides to visit his creation.

I'll just conclude with a passage by Schuon, and hope it Wraps Things Up:

[H]uman subjectivity is such an amazing miracle that it is enough to prove both God and the immortality of the soul; God, because this extraordinarily profound and comprehensive subjectivity can be explained only by an absolute which substantially prefigures it and which projects it into accidence; and immortality, because the incomparable quality of this subjectivity has no sufficient reason, no reason proportionate to its excellence, within the narrow and ephemeral framework of this earthly life.

If it is merely to live like ants [or leftists -- G.B.], men have no need of their intellectual and moral possibilities, which amounts to saying that they have no need to be men; the very existence of man would then be a luxury as inexplicable as it is useless. Not to understand this is the most monstrous as well as most mysterious of blindnesses.

Mysterious perhaps, but ineveateapple. For the spirit shines in the flesh, but the fleshbound don't see it. For them, God has a bridge to sell. No, it's worse: He can't even give the bridge away!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

To the Unknown-Known, and Beyond!

I suppose we could say that the materialist (or any ideologue) naively reduces the world to the known-known, or conflates what is known with what is. For the flatlander, what is obvious obscures what is subtle, thus rendering him oblivious to the great unKnown that both surrounds and transcends him.

A real scientist -- e.g., not the AGW kind -- always bears in mind the known-unknown. In other words, he understands that science is never -- and can never be -- complete, but is surrounded on all sides by Mystery. (This Mystery is up, down, inside, and out.)

From Gödel we learn that any system of thought contains assumptions unprovable by the system, while from Hayek we learn that in a complex system such as the economy, information is widely dispersed and far beyond the scope of any single actor.

From psychology -- my kind, anyway -- we also appreciate a mysterious realm of the unknown-known, AKA The Unthought Known. I won't spend a great deal of time on this one... although maybe I should, because it also has profound religious implications, going to objects that awaken our vertical recollection.

For example, a few weeks ago we mentioned the experience of Kallistos Ware when he first entered an Orthodox Church. On the one hand it was completely unfamiliar, and yet, there was a shock of recognition. BANG!: the unknown (but somehow) known. Specifically, the "bang" occurs when the implicitly known becomes explicitly so.

According to Frank, something similar happens between two human beings: How little we know / How much to discover / What chemical forces flow / From lover to lover.

Then there is the biggest realm of them all, the unknown-unknown. That would be God -- or ultimate reality -- as he is in himself. Whereas cataphatic theology speaks to the unknown-known God, apophatic theology (un)speaks to the unknown-unknown God.

As it so happens, I'm reading what amounts to a little primer in apophatic theology by Henri LeSaux (Swami Abhishiktananda), called Prayer. There are better examples, but this one will do fine for our purposes. Here he speaks of the distinction between unknown-knowns and the unknown-unknown:

[M]ental images and ideas of God which we form when we study or meditate.... are signs pointing to the Reality they represent, but they are forever unable to comprehend that reality, which stands in its aloneness far beyond the reach of any conception or imagination of man.

Furthermore, to reduce the unknown-unknown to the unknown-known is to engage in idolatry: "The day in which we attempt to identify them with with the Reality they become simply idols." A proper approach to the unknown-known "tends always towards the Beyond where alone Reality abides in the unfathomable silence of the Godhead."

Orthoparadox: on the one hand, "there is nothing in the universe, or indeed in the whole of creation which is not itself a revelation, a manifestation of God." On the other, "He is beyond every form.... Nothing 'comprehends' him, but he shines through everything and makes himself known in everything." Truly, O is the great Nothing-Everything, or as Meister Eckhart expresses it,

"There is something in the soul which is above the soul, divine, simple, an absolute nothing; rather unnamed than named; unknown than known," yada yada. Only like can know like, and God is like nothing.

These two attitudes or stances -- the cataphatic and apophatic -- are complementary and not antagonistic. But as in all complementarities one is prior, in this case, apophasis, for

If God is present in the tiniest portion of what manifests him, he is at the same time beyond anything in which he manifests his presence, beyond the whole universe and beyond every part of it, beyond everything mental and beyond everything material.

Again, ideologies such as rationalism completely forget what they don't (and can't) know. As Schuon puts it,

The danger of pride intervenes with rationalism, that is, with the prejudice of relying on a simply reasoning intelligence, and even in defiance of indispensable data, the absence of which is not even suspected.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

One Lie, Infinite Errors

Another brief blast, as I'm pressed for time...

As discussed in the previous post, if ultimate reality encompasses both immanence and transcendence, then man is perpetually tempted to exclude one in favor of the other. However, he doesn't really "exclude"; rather, covertly lends to one the properties of the other, even while denying those properties up front.

This is similar to how the scientific materialist tries to reduce subject to object, but in so doing inevitably contaminates the latter with properties of the former. But a subject attempting to cram himself back into objecthood is about the stupidest thing imaginable: it is literally like proclaiming "I am as dumb as a box of rocks."

No, you are dumber, because rocks cannot make false metaphysical pronouncements. "Systematic reductions to single terms," says the Aphorist, "fabricate likenesses of intelligibility that seduce the ignorant." But especially the tenured

Now, pantheism and idolatry are "sins against transcendence," so to speak. Both attempt to confine God to this plane; they mistakenly conclude that God is the world just because the world is (ultimately) God.

Which is why the Bible is so explicit on the subject. Right out of the gate it says that God creates the heavens and the earth, the celestial and terrestrial, transcendence and immanence. You might say that God transcends the dynamic complementarity of transcendence <--> immanence.

Why is this important? Because God is simply another word for Reality, and human happiness depends upon being in conformity with it.

Note that one popular alternative to being in conformity with reality is to rebel against it. But this rebellion is simply the tribute unreality pays to Reality, or Ø to O. Human ideologies are maps, except they are like those premodern maps that are more imagination than reality. Use them to navigate the sea and you will end up lost or shipwrecked.

The left is this rebellion writ large. It is always reactionary, in that the Lie us dependent upon the Truth to which it is a reaction.

Conversely, truth does not require the lie, just as light does not require the shadow (even if it makes shadows inevitable on this plane). One could cite thousands of examples, but consider CNN: their peddling of the Russia conspiracy is founded upon the realization that it is false.

Cue the Aphorist to bail me out:

The lie is the muse of revolutions: it inspires their programs, their proclamations, their panegyrics. But it forgets to gag the witnesses. The Resistance is on the verge of devouring itself, now that the Russia investigation is moving on to Obama, Lynch, and Clinton.

Revolutions have as their function the destruction of the illusions that cause them. Which is why Obama's function was the destruction of the infantile hopenchange that caused him.

This one is apropos: In society just as in the soul, when hierarchies abdicate the appetites rule. Usurpation, by one of the terms in the system, of the liberties of the others.

Thus, for example, when transcendence is reduced to immanence, then man is reduced to matter and the genocide is on. Which is why The leftist screams that freedom is dying when when his victims refuse to finance their own murders. White Christian males in particular must vote for their own extinction or be taken out by other means.

The egalitarian passion is a perversion of the critical sense: atrophy of the faculty of discrimination. For them, discrimination is the original sin, while for us it is the original act of consciousness, i.e., to discriminate between immanence and transcendence, appearance and reality, existence and essence. (Note that the creation begins with God's own discrimination between heaven and earth, transcendence and immanence; we would do well to imitate him.)

The most reliable conservative is the lapsed leftist, "the man who has known the reality of the problems and has discovered the falseness of the solutions."

Now, man is made to know Truth, but not without certain qualifications. One must be a servant of Truth, never presume to be its master. As Schuon puts it, "whoever should wish to use his intelligence without the risk of erring must possess the virtue of humility." Specifically, "he must be aware of his limitations" and "know that intelligence does not come from himself."

But in this context, humility is just another word for objectivity toward oneself. To be objective is to know we are creature and not creator.

Which goes to the title of the previous post, in that the flatland materialist living in a one-story cosmos pretends to objectivity even while committing the greatest error possible, which is to elevate one's own subjectivity to godhood. You can't get more wrong than that, although the ways of expressing this wrongness are without number.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Adam's Mistake: Having Your Cake and Going Hungry

Just a short post because Time.

As mentioned in the previous post, the world is a tapestry of radial and circumferential lines emanating from, to, and around the Center; you might say they are the warp and weft of the primordial area rug that pulls the cosmos together. And again, do not visualize a flat and static surface, but rather, a spheroidal and dynamic one.

For example, it is critical to understand that the radial lines between the center and periphery aren't just one-way. Rather, they are always circular, which is precisely why they simultaneously veil and reveal God.

I wonder if this is why, as Einstein discovered, the spacetime of the universe itself is spheroidal -- i.e., curved -- such that if you travel in a straight line forever, you will eventually return to where you started? Same with God: wherever He goes, there He is.

We could also say that the world is woven of appearances and reality, or, as they say in the East, Maya and Brahman; and in the final unalysis, Maya is not other than Brahman.

How can this be? Well, if the world were only circumferential, it couldn't be. Rather, like lower animals and Kantians, we would be confined to a particular ring around the center, and that would be that.

But in the case of radial -- i.e., vertical -- knowledge, it is always an appearance of reality, precisely. Conversely, with circumferential knowledge there are only appearances of appearances of appearances, AKA Turtles All the Way Down.

Which is why modern "philosophy" -- which isn't really deserving of the name -- is such a hot mess. For it is literally the case that it wants to have its cake and go hungry at the same time.

By which I mean that it wishes to pretend that reality doesn't exist and that only science can know it. In other words, it tries to situate absolute truth within an absolute relativity, which is obviously quite impossible.

There is nothing wrong with relativity. Indeed, without it we wouldn't even be here! Just don't elevate it to the absolute, that's all we're saying.

Why does someone elevate the relative to the absolute? Passion and pride, for starters. For reasons lost in the mysts of timelessness, Genesis 3 is inscribed in our bones. It seems we just can't stop ourselves from idolatry, hence the second commandment. It's so clear, and yet, humans still rebel.

Schematically, the first and second commandments can be expressed thus;

1. O = O.

2. Ø ≠ O.

And yet, although Ø ≠ O, it is not the case that O ≠ Ø. In other words, because God is both transcendent and immanent, we say that God is not the world, and yet, the world is not other than God.

To say that "the world is God" is the error (whether implicit or explicit) of pantheism, atheism, and scientism, while to say that "the world is not God" is the error of idealism, manichaeism, and Gnosticism. The former are monistic, the latter dualistic. The secret, of course, lies in God's own trialism.

Now, the two distinguishing principles of Christianity are Trinity and Incarnation (with Resurrection following in tow). Note how Incarnation in particular deals with all the issues raised above. As the Fathers say, "God becomes man that man might become God." And this can only happen in a radial cosmos. So we got that going for us.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Images and Artholes of God

A few days ago we spoke of the two kinds of knowledge and how they relate to God. In one it is as if God is at the center of a series of concentric circles:

In the second, God is still at the center, only now related to the periphery by an infinite number of radii:

To the right is an image that combines both:

To review, the first image depicts discontinuity between knower and known, and ultimately between man and God.

Indeed, if we were a Kantian, there would be a black hole at the center, about which we can know nothing. That would be the famous noumena (or better, noumenon). Kant thought he was saving religion by placing this unknowable black hole at the center of everything. Thanks for nothing! No, literally.

The second image goes to knowledge that is continuous with what it knows. In fact, it goes to one of our foundational principles: that any truth is a function or reflection of the one Truth. It shows in a straightforward manner how "all truth leads to God," being that any conceivable radius leads both from and to the center.

The third image suggests that the world is a tapestry of circles and radii. Which it is. You could even say that the left cerebral hemisphere knows the circles, while the right knows the radii. (I would only add that the image should be spherical and dynamic instead of flat and static.)

Which is also why all left-brained knowledge is ultimately circular. It is necessarily exterior, self-enclosed, and tautologous. Gödel's theorems are merely a formal way of expressing this.

Ultimately, if you confine yourself to circular knowledge, you cannot say how you can actually know anything at all. Rather, you are just chasing your tail around the noumenal center.

Mysticism involves radial knowledge par excellence. The whole point of mystical experience is that it is one with what it knows. But if the real world is depicted in image #3, this means that everyone is a mystic and cannot help being so.

This explains a lot.

Please note that I didn't say they were good or even adequate mystics.

Who are my favorite mystics? Let's see. Meister Eckhart. Henri Le Saux (AKA Swami Abhishiktanada). I would say Schuon, but I wouldn't want to reduce him to one category.

Come to think of it, although Michael Polanyi was not a mystic per se, he essentially demonstrated how all circumferential knowledge is actually radial knowledge. His theory of personal knowledge gives us a "post-critical" philosophy that shows the way out of scientistic tautology.

Just yesterday I was thumbing through a few books by Abhishiktanda, and then ordered one I haven't read before, Prayer. It had been out of print for awhile, but has been republished. I'm pretty sure that for Abhishiktananda, the purpose of prayer is to hop on board one of the radii leading back to God.

There is an excellent biography of Abhishiktananda called A Christian Pilgrim in India. I notice that some guy named Ted gives it his highest endorsement while namedropping a prominent Raccoon.

Oldmeadow cites some passages from Prayer that precisely describe what we mean by radial knowledge: "Truly speaking, there is no outside and no inside, no without and no within in the mystery of God and in the divine Presence." It is because God is beyond form that "he can reveal and manifest himself under any form."

Oldmeadow quotes another perennialist, Jean Bies, who makes an orthoparadoxical statement that describes image #3 above: "Every form shows Him because He is in every form. None show Him because he is beyond forms." Perfect nonsense!

This is all prelude to discussion of another distinct kind of knowledge we call faith. As Schuon explains, "Faith amounts to an objectivized heart knowledge" which helps "awaken in us as far as possible the remembrance of innate truths."

Note the (ortho)paradox: "objectivized" implies circumferential, as in image #1. But "the remembrance of innate truths" is radial, as in image #2. Therefore, faith is a gift from God -- from the center to the periphery -- that allows the periphery to know the center in an "indirectly direct" way.

Was that clear? It is to me. Similarly, what is sacred art -- AKA art -- but the "recollection" of the center in the periphery? Or, it is like a hole in the circumference leading back to the center. Light from the center is radiated through the arthole.

Now, when man falls, he falls from the center to the periphery. Or, one might say that he goes from spontaneous radial knowledge of God to self-enclosed absurcular knowledge of the (or a) circumference.

Which goes to the purpose of revelation, which is a memo from Celestial Central that allows us to get right with the radius: it shows from the inside-out (or upside down) what we need to know from the outside-in (or downside-up).

That's about it for today. Extra duties, since the wife is out of town visiting her mother.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

On Speaking Truth to Power, Light to Shadows, and Principles to Principalities

Another slow news day. Or rather, "eternals day." Slow but nevertheless foundational. Maybe we can pick up the pace tomorrow...

This morning I had an original thought: the truth sets us free.

I know. No, you can't buy some pot from me.

First of all, free from what? Second, toward what? Analogously, imagine you are trapped inside four walls with no exit. I install a door. You're free! But you still have to open the door and walk out, which points to the link between truth and will: in order to be free, you can't just know the truth but must do the truth. Truth is to freedom as knowledge is to will.

In the previous post we mentioned Kant, who effectively maintains (whether he knows it or not) that freedom isn't possible since truth is inaccessible to us. The "four walls" in the paragraph above are the forms of our sensibility (phenomena), beyond which is the noumenon we cannot know. In short, there may or may not be a reality, but there is certainly no door that leads to it.

Note the crude trick that has kept philosophers in the dark ever since -- as if to say: "man cannot know truth, and that's the truth."

Ironically, the Critique of Pure Reason was published in 1776. One can only thank God that our founders hadn't read it, and wouldn't have taken it seriously anyway. For Kant there can be no self-evident truths about ultimate reality except that we can't know it. Whatever. Go found your own nation based on the principle of unreality.

Better yet, just wait another century and progressives will have begun eating away at our founding truths. In The Political Theory of the American Founding, West writes that the founders had the audacity to claim knowledge of "living principles based on timeless truth." The nerve! Quick, find me a safe space from these fascists who presume to know ultimate truth and want to lord it over me!

Going back to our analogy in paragraph three, it is like saying: how dare you claim there is a doorway out of my little prison! Don't even think about installing one, or I'll sue!

Well, the door is there and there's not a thing you can do about it. You might say that the role of government is to maintain and protect the door. The state cannot compel you to actually use it. Rather, you have the right to leave, but no one can force you to do so.

Really, it's a very old story. One of our founding myths is Genesis 3. Another is Plato's allegory of the cave. You have the right to stop being fascinated by the shadows on the cave walls and turn toward the light. But that requires an act of free will. The state will not compel you to leave your cave.

That was before the progressive left took over the educational establishment. The purpose of education used to be to help us leave the cave -- toward the Light of universals truths -- whereas now the purpose is to rivet the mind to the shadows while denying access to the Light that produces them. Mention the Light and you are guilty of violating the "separation between church and state."

Which is a pretext for the left to enforce the separation between appearances and reality, phenomena and noumena, truth and opinion. Which is to literally efface any distinction between freedom and slavery. Which is the whole point. For if you do not possess a priori rights that the first duty of the state is to protect, then the state can do anything to you.

"Most scholars," writes West, agree with uber-moonbat Supreme Court Justice William Brennan "that the founders ideas belong to a 'world that is dead and gone.'" But how can timeless and self-evident truths ever die or go anywhere? If their world is "dead and gone," it wasn't a natural death. Rather, murder. And -- "ironically"-- Brennan was one of the murderers.

The current academic fashion is that man cannot know timeless truths. Therefore, any idiot with a Ph.D. in political science knows that it was equally fashionable in late 19th century America to naively believe in such fancies as "truth" and "freedom." Now we know better that "there is absolutely no foundation for deciding what is right or wrong," even "for preferring democracy over Nazism."

As Richard Rorty libsplains, "there is nothing deep down inside us except what we have put there ourselves..., no standard of rationality that is not an appeal to such a criterion" (in West). We are sealed inside the Cave, with only competing narratives. And may the most powerful win.

Truly, the left is an organized cosmic inversion that speaks power to truth.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Doubting Doubt and Ironizing Irony

This post didn't get very far. Still, it's quite foundational. If you want to build a mansion, don't skimp on the foundation.

In the previous post we discussed the difference between cranio-psychic vs cardio-pneumatic knowledge. We didn't use those words, but we're using them now because they sound more sophisticated than head and heart.

Now, it is popular to believe that there is only one kind of knowledge, or at least only one that counts. In short, there is knowledge and there is opinion, the latter not really knowledge at all. Real knowledge resides in the head. How do we know this? Our heads told us so.

Which is a transparent case of special pleading. No one should be a judge in his own cause, and here we have the cranium judging the merits of its own content. Not fair! You will notice that the head has slipped a principle in through the side door while pretending it is simply being "objective." Clever bastard, that left brain!

There are actually two buried principles: first, that "I can prove what is true," and second, that "What I can prove is all that is true." The first simply assumes what it needs to prove, while the second assumes that other forms of knowledge aren't true. How convenient. It's like saying "only quantifiable claims are true." Okay, prove it!

In reality, the knowledge we cannot prove dwarfs the knowledge we can. None of us could get through a single day if we demanded proof of everything. A stranger is putting material into my mailbox. He says he's the mailman, but how do I know?

Here is how Schuon explains it:

"Kantians" -- a metonym for the modern mentality -- "will ask us to prove the existence of this [our cardio-pneumatic] way of knowing; and herein is the first error, namely that only what can be proved de facto is knowledge; the second error, which immediately follows the first, is that a reality that one cannot prove -- that is to say which one cannot make accessible to some artificial and ignorant mental [read: cranio-psychic] demand -- by reason of this apparent lack of proof, does and cannot exist."

Again, our cranio-psychic friends simply forget all about their assumptions, pretending to find them at the end instead of loading them in the beginning. Sneaky!

Recall the two images from last Friday: Kantian "head knowledge" is always of a circle around the center. This is because Kant limits man to phenomenal knowledge of his own categories. He can have no knowledge of the center, AKA the noumena. But why assume this? (In other words, why assume there is no "radial knowledge" through which we have direct access to the center?)

Indeed, isn't Kant's assumption really an unwarranted claim about ultimate reality? More to the point, how can one use the mind to place limits around the mind? Every boundary has territory on each side. Imagine building a wall between, say, Mexico and the US, but then pretending there's nothing south of the border.

Note the Kantian trick: pretending to have no access to ultimate reality, while affirming such knowledge at the same time. This is the precise trick pulled by my friend in the previous post. It is one of the the most popular head games of the head.

In the book Socrates Meets Kant, our premodern hero makes the founder of modern philosophy's head explode. "Suppose," asks Socrates, there is "a logical contradiction inherent in the demand for a rational justification of reason itself?"

In that case: D'oh!

All you have to do is critique the Critique and the whole thing tumbles to the ground. At which point Socrates innocently asks, "Which of us, then, is the more critical thinker, and which of us the more naïve?"

Now, if there's one thing a modern sophisticate hates being called, it is naïve. Recall my friend's anti-religious screed from the previous post. Imagine just chuckling in response to its childlike naïveté.

Imagine the same response to a Bill Maher, or Sam Harris, or even a scientific genius such as Bill Nye. But that is precisely the response they deserve. It's not intended to be snarky; rather, rich with Socratic irony.

Really, you have to out-irony the ironic, of which Socrates was the master. Truly, in our equally Athens- and Jerusalem-ized minds, he stands with Jesus as a fountainhead of Western Irony. I keep intending to delve into this important subject in a systematic way, but it will require more time than I have at the moment.

Here is Socrates again, toying with Kant: my dear Manny, have you ever wondered whether it might be self-contradictory to suggest "that reason can get outside itself and validate itself, that it can be both judge and accused prisoner, as it were?"

Indeed, "You called your book The Critique of Pure Reason, but I wonder whether you ever turned your formidable critical powers on yourself?"

In short, there are reasons for being skeptical of your cynicism. A suitable quip by the Aphorist comes to mind: Man’s moment of greatest lucidity is that in which he doubts his doubt.

Here are several more good ones. Each one smashes countless idols:

Nothing is more superficial than intelligences that comprehend everything. Scientism, Darwinism materialism, all felled with a single blow.

Reason is no substitute for faith, just as color is no substitute for sound. Habitually deploy your head when your heart should be in charge, and you'll be pretty miserable. Or maybe you've never met a woman.

We believe in many things in which we do not believe we believe. Every normal human believes in truth, free will, and objective morality, no matter what they say.

Faith is not assent to concepts, but a splendor that knocks us down. It is vertical recollection of an objective reality, more as we proceed.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Point, Center, Circumference, and Radii

"Heart knowledge," writes Schuon, "is one with what it knows." This is in contrast to merely mental knowledge, which is necessarily more or less distant from the object of knowledge.

The first mode is analogous to the radii extending from the center of a circle to the periphery, the second to a series of concentric circles around the same point. Note that the first is continuous, the second discontinuous.

Recall the old gag that God is an infinite sphere whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere. In the visual given above, we might say that the central point is radiated and prolonged "everywhere" (this going to the immanence of God) whereas the concentric circles assure that the circumference is "nowhere" because they go one forever (this going to the transcendence of God from the perspective of any particular circle).

We could say the circles end in matter (the matter of physics), although this is not entirely true on the human plane, since man can continue falling right through matter and into various "negative" spaces. Or maybe you haven't seen CNN or MSNBC. Recall that Dante, for example, numbers nine dimensions of hell. Nor is it necessary to believe in an afterlife to perceive these infrahuman circles! Or maybe you've never been to college.

It seems to me that various disciplines address themselves to one of the concentric circles -- physics, biology, psychology, anthropology, etc. Now, a major error of anti-BoBs everywhere is to elevate one of these outer circles to the central point.

The worst offender, of course, is physics, which deals with the shell and pretends it is the kernel. Other disciplines fall in line, bowing to King Physics when push comes to shove. For example, the typical biologist will insist there is nothing in biology that cannot be reduced to physics. Which is just plain stupid.

Likewise, the same sort of gnosis-all denies free will because BIOLOGY, just as he denies religion because NEUROLOGY or DARWIN or whatever. Again, the point is that in each case, the periphery is elevated to the center, which is another way of acting out Genesis 3 all over again. It's what man does, but only every time.

I... No, I shouldn't. Should I? I'm conflicted. I don't mean to ridicule anyone. It's just that... It's such a fine example of what we're talking about. Besides, it's public knowledge. Presumably he wants his views to be noticed. I certainly don't care if someone wants to hold me up as a bad example. Indeed, I wish it would happen more often. It's fun.

Maybe if I just whisper it. Between you and me. First let's provide some context. For many years we had a couple of good friends who banished us when Mrs. G converted to Catholicism. Turns out their adult daughter is a lesbian, and we all know God Hates Fags, so the wife had effectively joined the biggest Hate Crime Family on earth or something.

This despite the fact that my wife loved their daughter, and we had never even had a conversation touching on homosexuality -- which I rarely think about anyway except when homosexuals want to force me to pretend they can exist in a state of matrimony, which is impossible for obvious reasons. I mean, just for starters, anyone who believes in biology knows they cannot actually "have sex," unless sex is defined in a completely unbiological way.

The other day I was wondering what had become of these erstwhile friends -- for whom there are no hard feelings at all -- and stumbled across this post on the subject of religion. You might say that it consists of an indiscriminate anti-religious rant by a cranky old spot on the periphery yelling at the Center while denying it exists.

All religious faith, for example "consists of ridiculous magical fantasies -- by actual grown-ups." And "although faith may be idiotic, it is also entirely normal for most human beings to embrace it." Why? Because "magical thinking may be instinctual to human beings," such that "our brains are broken."

Now, if religion is instinctive, then we can no more escape it than birds will fly north for the winter or salmon swim downstream to spawn. And if our brains are broken (compared to what?), well, why would someone imagine that we can use it to think, let alone know truth?

Our innate defect is such that it "behaves exactly like actual brain damage. Brain tumors, strokes and degenerative neurological / psychological diseases are known to occasionally cause the strangest side effects. Cases such as 'mistaking one’s wife for a hat' or being completely unaware of the left half of your environment or losing all memory of an experience just minutes after it occurs have come to us through many non-fiction books and films."

Presumably, the more religiosity, the more evidence of damage. So, Aquinas' Summa Theologica, for example, is like the diary of a massive stroke victim. Interesting. In the sense that the worse one's logic, the more interesting the conclusions to which it gives rise.

The real problem? Only a religious person "would deliberately initiate a world-killing nuclear holocaust if given the chance." Those hundred million killed by godless ideologues in the 20th century? Hey, mistakes happen. Nobody's perfect.

What he says about Islamists is no doubt true, but to lump them in with Christians is like saying that cancer cells are no different from healthy ones because both are alive.

"We humans are intelligent as animals go, and we enjoy the gift of consciousness. But in no way does that make any of us rational."

Any of us? You don't say. The whole thing reminds me of how a little philosophy inclines one to atheism, while a lot of it takes one to the threshold of religiosity. Unless one just stops thinking at an arbitrary point -- or, better, confines oneself to one of those outer concentric circles and pretends it is the center.

"Levels of religious delusion vary in individuals, all the way from the suicide bomber to someone who may describe themselves as simply believing in a 'higher power.' But SOME degree of delusion is present in every case of faith." Except faith in matter, of course. That's rational. Those who don't share his faith in matter "should be crushed wherever they are encountered."

I'm a little confused: "We dehumanize those with different beliefs," which often leads to brutality and murder.

What about dehumanizing "bat-shit crazy right wing religious nuts"? No worries: that never ends in violence. Just ask Steve Scalise.

More proof that Democrats are never violent: