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:

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Vertical Gnosis and Horizontal Noises

Big news day, no? Which is distracting me from the essential. Which actually goes to the subject of this post, for most news is essentially noise, and noise is precisely what we must ignore in order to discern the Message.

What I really want to say is that the subject of this post requires intense focus, but my focus is being dissipated by the noise of the day. So it's a little abbreviated. We'll pick it up again on Friday.

What exactly is a shock of recognosis? The word is obviously a portmanteau of Recognition + Gnosis, thus connoting the discovery of an a priori truth. But not just any truth; specifically, not contingent but necessary truths: truths that cannot not be.

Contingent truths can also be a ladder of ascent, but only so long as there is a reality toward which to ascend, AKA Truth as such. Deny the latter and the ladder literally falls to the ground: in the absence of the Absolute, there is nothing against which to lean your relativity. Contingency must participate necessity, or it is cut off from its own source.

Indeed, a truth detached from Truth can no longer justify the claim of being true.

Analogously, if my hand is amputated, does it really make any sense to still call it "my" hand? Certainly it "was" my hand, just as, say, our rights to life and liberty were true when they were still connected to the principle that the Creator endowed us with these. To remove the Creator from the equation is to amputate our rights from their living source.

Which is precisely when our heretofore intrinsic rights become alienable instead of unalienable. This is also the point where truth devolves to opinion, where reality becomes perception, and where veils no longer reveal. Truly, it is the ground of the left. In the end times, Wisdom degenerates to the impassioned noise of real tenure and fake news.

Gnosis, of course, is not to be confused with gnosticism, the latter essentially involving manmade opinion, only on a higher plane. But the higher the plane, the bigger the error.

Gnosticism always involves a usurpation, a storming of heaven. For it is written: knock and the door shall be opened. Not: barge right in and make yourself at home.

Here again, Voegelin famously regarded the left as a modern form of gnosticism. It presumes to have a knowledge of things which is strictly impossible given its assumptions. Honest leftists don't pretend that man has access to truth. True, but why then call them honest? Honesty presumes the existence of truth.

But we're beginning to stray into the periphery when we're trying to focus on the Center: Celestial Central, from where truth emanates. It is the Cosmic Tree, the Ocean of Wisdom, and the nonlocal Spring of the Water of Life.

Now, there are immanent truths that dwell within man. Or not. But if not, how is it that we recognize them when we see them? "Stupidity," writes Schuon, "is the inability to discern the essential from the accidental: it consists in attaching oneself to mere facts and in considering them simply in themselves, that is, without the least induction."

When we speak of man's fallenness, we can do so with regard to an ambiguous moral failing. That will work.

But at the same time and on another level it is an intellectual failing. How so? Well, let me think. At the very least -- in order to think at all -- we must posit a kind of two-story cosmos: there are many ways to conceptualize the cosmic building, among which are Principle and Manifestation, Substance and Accident, Essence and Existence, Absolute and Relative, Brahman and Maya, Creator and Creation, O and ( ), etc.

This is not a dualism, mind you. We are not positing two Absolutes. As such, one of these must be an artifact or prolongation of the other, and of course the second term must follow from the first in each example in the paragraph above.

Therefore, come back Friday and we'll find out where all this is leading.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Shocks of Recognosis

Beneath every veil is another veil, all the way up to God. And God cannot be fully unveiled for the same reason we can't be. Supposing you wanted to unveil your consciousness, how would you go about doing that? And how do you distinguish between the one doing the unveiling and the one unveiled?

How does the soul actually unveil and thereby reveal itself? Via its spontaneous attraction to various objects and subjects (persons). The world presents us with a panorama of potential choices, each veiling a deeper truth. So long as the choice is free and not compelled or conditioned, it reveals to us something about ourselves. You could say that our spontaneous attractions are like contrails of the soul.

But there are vertical degrees of attraction. For example, we are all attracted to food, but this hardly defines the soul. Rather, for a human being, this type of preference is accidental and not essential. If you prefer vanilla and I chocolate, it is of no consequence to the soul.

Perhaps the primary purpose of civilization is to disclose and preserve a range of higher choices for the soul. Take, for example, the Muslim middle east. There the soul is not given many choices. Indeed, no one there even chooses to be Muslim, since no other choice is permitted.

Although there are relatively few conversions to Judaism, I remember reading somewhere that not every Jew is born into Judaism. Rather, one may have a "Jewish soul" but not realize it until one encounters Judaism, which results in a shock of recognition -- of oneself.

This is obviously quite common with Christianity, and in a way, is behind every conversion. In particular, think of the response to the first evangelists. Somehow, people heard the message and said to themselves, Yup, that's me. This is a quintessential example of vertical recollection, or what we call recognosis.

I can think of many similar examples. Kallistos Ware writes of his "personal journey to Orthodoxy," which "happened quite unexpectedly on a Saturday afternoon in the summer of 1952." He was walking past an old church he'd never noticed before and decided to wander in.

As a service began,

My initial impression of an absence was now replaced, with a sudden rush, by an overwhelming sense of presence. I felt that the church, so far from being empty, was full -- full of countless unseen worshipers, surrounding me on every side. Intuitively I realized that we, the visible congregation, were part of a much larger whole, and that as we prayed we were being taken up into an action far greater than ourselves, into an undivided, all-embracing celebration that united time and eternity, things below with things above.

Vertical recollection, big time. Which implies that atheists and other wayward souls are literally suffering from a form of vertical amnesia -- or what we call I AMnesia (more on which as we proceed).

More to the point, as Ware left the church, he said to himself

with a clear sense of conviction: This is where I belong; I have come home. Sometimes it happens -- is it not curious? -- that, before we have learnt anything in detail about a person, a place or subject, we know with certainty: This is the person that I shall love, this is the place I need to go, this is the subject that, above all others, I must spend my life exploring.

As alluded to in the book, it is as if the world is a complex phase space filled with nonlocal attractors of various kinds. We know the attractors are there, because we are routinely pulled into them.

And of course, not all attractors are positive! Seductions and snares are everywhere, i.e., Powers, Principalities, Thrones, Dominions, all pulling us this way and that.

Back to Ware for a moment. I've read that if one attempts to convert to Judaism, the rabbi will initially discourage the seeker. It's a test. Ware encountered the same sort of resistance, but the more he learned about it, "the more I realized: this is what I have always believed in my inmost self, but never before did I hear it so well expressed" (emphasis mine).

So, that is the ultimate recognosis: the vertical re-collection of oneself, and with it, God. The two -- the inner and outer -- are simultaneous.

Faith itself is not supposed to be a passive acceptance of static propositions. Rather, as Schuon says, its real purpose is "to inform us concerning that of which our soul is urgently in need, and to awaken in us as far as possible the remembrance of innate truths."

The remembrance of innate truths.

Om, now I remurmur!

And "Religious revelation is both a veil of light and a light veiled" (ibid.).

Have you heard the One about Light from Light? Viveka la Reveilation!

Faith is not an irrational assent to a proposition; it is a perception of a special order of realities. --Dávila

Monday, June 12, 2017

Heaven Veiled and Hell Unveiled

Back to our hacking expedition into the upper vertical. In truth we're already there. It's just that it's veiled. But a veil simultaneously veils and reveals, at least if your third eye is open. Or better, the veil will either obscure or reveal, depending upon how you look at it.

For example, in the final analysis, everything is a veil of God -- which is precisely why everything reveals him.

Our world is drenched in symbolism, and what is a symbol but a wall to the unworthy but window to the woke?

This notion of the Veil keeps popping up. "Revelation," for example, is "a Latin word that means 'to draw aside the veil'" (Jackson). Similarly, the "visible church" is there to signify the Invisible Church. Everything in the former "ought to be firmly rooted here, but point to there -- to what is beyond this world."

"The outward appearance of sacred things tells us little about their inward nature. It is the veil that tells us.... By visible beauty we may be led to invisible beauty" (ibid.).

Over the weekend I read an essay be Schuon on The Mystery of the Veil. In it he notes that the veil "evokes the idea of mystery, because it hides from view something that is either too sacred or too intimate." This can be conflated with mere curiosity, but curiosity goes more to an absence, whereas mystery testifies to a real presence (or presence of the Real).

And what is the world itself but a most mysterious presence? "The cosmic and metacosmic veil is a mystery because it has its roots in the depths of the Divine Nature" (ibid.). In short, the world is simultaneously a veil, a mystery, and a presence.

Nor can one actually get "beneath" the veil, at least in this life. What did God say to the Rabbi? You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.

However, Moses is permitted to see God's backside, which is a symbol of the Veil. Analogously, you can't look straight at the sun, but everything is veiled in its Light. One cannot comprehend the Absolute "because its luminosity is blinding." Nevertheless, its light is everywhere.

I've been thinking about this subject a long time, maybe almost an hour, and I've come to the following conclusion. How to put it.... Let's say that God isn't just God, but rather God + Veil -- at least from our standpoint. And probably his as well, because what is Creation but the veil of the Creator?

In fact, here is where we differ from the anti-Coon in all its hydra-headed manifestations: we all believe in relativity. However, for us, the relative is not self-sufficient but a manifestation of the Creator: "To be the vehicle of the Absolute, while veiling it, is the purpose of the Relative" (Schuon).

There is no other way to have an intelligible cosmos, is there? "Absolute relativity" reduces to absurdity and nihilism, while "Absolute-Absoluteness" renders our own existence entirely beside the point. The real action takes place in the dynamic space between Absolute and Relative. But it's not an empty space; rather, a veiled space.

In fact, Schuon makes the intriguing point that there is no such thing as "unveiled space." Rather, the veil is precisely what brings space into being:

Thus it is that space has no existence except through what it contains; an empty space would no longer be a space, it would be nothingness.

In like fashion, cosmic Relativity is only real by virtue of its prolongation of the Absolute; it (and we) becomes unreal when sundered therefrom.

Shifting gears for the moment, this is the whole idea of the Koon Klassic Ideas Have Consequences. These are some notes to myself that may or may not be direct quotes from the book: "Without imagination the world is simply a brute fact -- there is nothing to spiritualize it." "When matter is placed over spirit, quantity is placed over quality; but quality is not just another quantity."

Forms are the ladder of ascent. Every group regarding itself as emancipated is convinced its predecessors were fearful of reality, looking upon the veils of decency as obstructions it will strip aside. But behind the veils is a reality of such commonplaces that it is merely knowledge of death.

Genesis 3 all over again? Hmm, let's consult the Aphorist.

Without aesthetic transfiguration all of reality is pedestrian.

The existence of a work of art demonstrates that the world has meaning. Even if it does not say what that meaning is.

From an aesthetic experience one returns as from a sighting of numinous footprints.

Christianity does not deny the splendor of the world but encourages us to seek its origin, to ascend to its pure snow.

Faith is not an irrational assent to a proposition; it is a perception of a special order of realities.

Also, Unbelief is not a sin but a punishment. You could say it represents exile to an infrahuman world of brutish relativism, hypnotic appearances, and unalloyed tenure. Or just say Hell.