Monday, June 14, 2021

Making Time for Nothing

Here's a pithy little formulation by Schuon that bears somewhat on doing nothing, AKA non-doing. "Spirituality," he writes, "includes four principal elements," the first of which

cuts man off from the current of profane life; the second empties the soul of illusory contents; the third infuses the discursive intelligence with divine Light; the fourth essentially brings about deification.

Alternatively, 

This could be formulated as follows: in renunciation the soul leaves the world; in purification the world leaves the soul; in meditation God enters the soul; in continual prayer the soul enters God.

(This reminds me of the pneumaticons in the book -- e.g., (---), (o), (↓), and (↑) in relation to O.)

Along these lines, over the past several weeks a phrase keeps popping into my head: Christian nihilism. Of course, this shares nothing in common with the vulgar nihilism of the left, nor with mere fatalism, stoicism, or resignation. 

For one thing, it's a joyous nihilism (or innocent and childlike) because it has only to do with this (or that, rather) world, not the next; moreover, the latter is already here, bisecting this one, i.e., The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Living at the intersection of heaven and earth is where it's at. If not, to hell with it.

Elsewhere in the same book Schuon alludes to the rottenness of this world, for which there are compensatory graces unique to the challenges posed by the civilizational decay surrounding us; come to think of it, this is like an inverse analogy of the communist idea of "the worse, the better" (better because it means the glorious revolution is that much closer). 

Schuon agrees that "there are advantages to this [cultural] evil itself," but (obviously) for totally different reasons from those purely destructive Marxist devils such as Piven & Cloward; specifically, 

the world has become so emptied of substance that it is hard for a spiritual man to be too attached to it.... In former times worldliness was all the more seductive for having aspects of intelligence, nobility, and plenitude; it was far from being wholly contemptible as it is in our day.

Our elites and their institutions are indeed wholly contemptible. What spiritually awakened person could ever wish to take part in this malevolent farce except in opposition to it? 

But this opposition is the precise opposite of "reactionary," because it is rooted in the loving affirmation -- intellectual, spiritual, and experiential -- of a higher reality (or just say reality). 

Note also that "lower reality" makes no sense except in the context of the higher; to the extent that it becomes an autonomous dimension detached from its vertical source, this devolves to the vulgar nihilism of the tenured, i.e., accidental intelligence combined with axiomatic stupidity.

If we were merely opposed to this principled stupidity of the left, it would be a form of counterfeit slack, still rooted in an attachment to the world and its seductive appearances. But our attachment is again to truth, AKA the real. Compared to this reality, the world is literally but a dream, or even "a dream woven of dreams." What else could it be if the intellect weren't an adequation (in potential) to the real?

We cannot  doubt that truth is infinitely real and precious and that its absence must therefore imply a sort of inverted infinity.

Exactly. Absent our adherence to Truth -- at once saving and liberating -- the material world becomes a vast and necessarily meaningless psychiatric prison. Which it is, but the doors are locked from the inside.

Modern man, even when he stumbles upon a truth, never follows it all the way back and up; and any truth detached from the Absolute becomes no truth at all; one might say it takes revenge on the intelligence that pretends it can exist apart from Intelligence as such, i.e., Celestial Central. 

(Quoted material from Spiritual Perspectives and Human Facts https://www.amazon.com/dp/193331642X/ref=as_sl_pc_tf_til?tag=onecos-20&linkCode=w00&linkId=f86b12483b9ef2311a292cf307aed833&creativeASIN=193331642X)

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Doing Nothing vs. Doing Nothing

Back in my days as a "productive" citizen, I never took a long vacation -- maybe two weeks at the most -- the reason being that I always suspected that if I unplugged from the Matrix for too long, I'd float away and be unable to readapt to its unnatural demands.  

For related reasons, I never worked on a full-time basis, because my career meant nothing to me while my freedom meant everything. As we've discussed in the past, timelessness takes a great deal of time. You can't just flip on the slack switch Friday afternoon and flip it off Sunday night. 

Rather, you have to arrange your life in such a manner that you're always available for celestial duty when called upon. Of course there are inevitable terrestrial responsibilities, but I've always tried to reduce these to the bare minimum, the better to be available for vertical murmurandoms and other urgent nonsense. 

Come to think of it, back in the early '80s, when I heard about the "voluntary simplicity" movement, it made immediate and total sense to me. I came to regard simplifying my life as equivalent to earning more money. Which it is, except it also results in more time, which is everything. At least for my type. If I didn't have an abundance of unstructured time, I'd literally feel sophicated, gnoseated, and exiled from my omland.  

For me, retirement means complete freedom from the Conspiracy. The last time this occurred was upon graduating high school. I distinctly remember the euphoria of plunging into an endless summer of pure present tense, with no past and certainly no future, the latter being the furthest thing from my mind. Still is. 

This utopian dream or Adventure in Laziness lasted until the fall, when, upon the *advice* of my father, I arose from my ass and obtained a part-time job in a liquor store. There I toiled for up to 12 hours a week, and if I recall correctly, my paycheck amounted to $16.50 a week (minimum wage was $1.65/hr). 

Of course, that was more than sufficient for my simple needs, because it cost exactly $5.00 to fill up my Ford Pinto (gas was around 50 cents a gallon) and exactly $5.25 for a case of Coors. So my paycheck covered one tank + two cases, with enough left over for several Big Macs, which were 45 cents back then.

This is not to say I was an early adopter of voluntary simplicity, being that I was just an involuntary simpleton.  

Then came college, or rather, junior college. Back in high school, people would denigrate it as "high school with ash trays." This was a flippant exaggeration, since it had none of the rigor of high school, although it was more expensive. Back then it literally cost $6.50 a semester -- which my parents generously covered, being that I was again tapped out after gas, beer, and incidentals.

I also tried to arrange my classes so that they required my presence for 90 minutes on Tuesdays and Thursdays rather then 60 minutes in Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, thus preserving the all-important four day weekend. I've always considered it sacrilegious to roll on Shabbos, which for me lasted from sundown Thursday until around noon on Tuesday. 

Why am I indulging in all this nostalgia?  Because when I retired last month, I assumed I could limit it to the periphery. However, it seems it has spread from the extremities to the core, such that I don't feel like doing anything, mainly because I'm already nondoing it. I'm no longer leading a double life; rather, my I has become single, which is to say, singly enslackened.

No, it's not that I'm doing nothing. Rather, I'm very much doing nothing. Big difference. But this nothing applies to blogging. I have nothing to add to what I've already said over the past 15+ years. I will, however, have nothing to add. I just don't feel like adding it at the moment, or at least it's presently taking all day to get nothing accomplished. I'm sure this will change as I get acclimated to my new surroundings. 

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Vive la Différence

Or not. In any case, there is a fundamental difference between esoteric and exoteric approaches to the ultimate knowledge, or knowledge of the Ultimate. First, the latter: St. Thomas 

does not admit that an a priori proof of God's existence can be given. He grants indeed that the proposition, God exists, is in itself self-evident, and would therefore be self-evident to us if we had a priori face-to-face knowledge of God (Garrigou-Lagrange).

However, for Thomas "we have no such a priori knowledge." Rather, we must "begin with a nominal definition of God, conceiving him only confusedly, as the first source of all that is real and good in the world." 

As with everything else, we must start at the far end -- in concrete sense experiences -- and subsequently determine whether they "necessitate the actual objective existence of a First Cause" corresponding to our nominal definition of God.

Now, in my opinion, one can work from the senses up to God or from God on down; moreover, I would say that the two approaches are complementary, or in an eternal dialectic. And it is precisely the God-on-down vs. senses-on-up approach that goes to the esoteric-exoteric distinction. I suspect, anyway.

Vis-a-vis the esoteric approach, Laude explains that, in contrast to Thomas, its epistemology isn't a posteriori but a priori: it

sees the act of understanding as presupposing a prior knowledge of the object that is understood, whereas concepts and terms are only occasional means of actualization.

It reminds me of how, just because we have a word for something, it doesn't mean we have any idea what that something is. It's easy enough to prove God exists, but what is God -- besides your own circular conceptual definition? How do we get from the abstract knowledge to the concrete experience -- or as symbolized in the book, from (k) to (n)?

one can only know that which one already knows, often without knowing that one knows it. It follows from the premise of this epistemology that understanding does not, and cannot, depend upon a literal grasp of conceptual terms (Laude).

An analogy. Suppose one wants to prove the existence of music, beginning with sensory experience, i.e., with air vibrations striking the ear drum. While there is a continuity between this and the experience of music, music cannot be reduced to mere sensory stimulation. Rather, it will only be an abstract conception exterior to the realm of music unless and until the music is actually heard; and it isn't heard by adding the discrete sensations together. Rather, the musical composition is prior to our sensory experience of it. 

Same with the divine. Some people just can't hear it, even though their ears are in perfect working order. This is why, for example, I don't respond to the intelligent design people. They're like someone trying to prove the existence of music by looking at how the notes appear to be organized. To say that the cosmos reflects "intelligent design" is simultaneously redundant and insufficient. 

Rather, it is enough to say that intelligence exists, because intelligence participates in the truth it knows; it is the substance of truth, otherwise it would again be purely conceptual and exterior to what it knows. Not only does the soul become what it knows, but it must already be what it knows (in potential), or it could never possess real knowledge. 

This conundrum is solved if we just acknowledge that intelligence and intelligibility are complementary reflections of the one divine substance. Intelligence doesn't just know truth, but participates in it a priori.  

Saturday, May 29, 2021

On Circularity and Absurcularity

I think it's accurate to say that while Thomas begins with the material senses and ascends to the immaterial Principle, Schuon begins at the other end, with the Principle -- or Absolute -- and skis down the mountain to the manifestation below. 

However, once Thomas rises to the Principle, he too schusses down the mountainside, taking everything below into consideration, as illuminated by the Principle(s).

Here's how Fr. Reg describes Thomas's vertical circularity: he 

marches steadily onward to that superior simplicity..., a simplicity pregnant with virtual multiplicity.... the saint's progress is a slow, hard climb to the summit of the mountain, whence alone you can  survey all these problems in a unified solution....

He exemplifies his own teaching on "circular" contemplation, which returns always to one central, pre-eminent thought, better to seize all the force of its irradiation. His principles, few in number but immense in reach, illumine from on high a great number of questions.

Again, the Great Cosmic Circle of coontomplation begins from below, ascends upward, and then returns down, only equipped with the principles that illuminate this downward path.  

Herebelow, things can either exist or not exist, irrespective of their essence. Only at the summit of metaphysics do essence and existence converge, such that in God alone are they one: God's essence is to exist, and existence is his essence. This is the final truth arrived at by reason:

this supreme truth is the terminus, the goal, of the ascending road which rises from the sense world to God, and the point of departure on the descending road, which deduces the attributes of God and determines the relation between God and world.

Snowboarding back down,

Many positions which we have already met on the ascending road now reappear, seen as we follow the road descending from on high. 

So, be nice to those discarnate nonlocal intelligences on the way up, because you'll meet the same ones on the way down.  

For Schuon, all of this is true enough, except he would say it is possible to start at the summit -- or, to be more precise, the "meta-summit." 

He would essentially say that there is Reality and that there are appearances, the latter being a consequence and prolongation of the former. Thus, appearances are at once distinct from the Principle, and yet "not not" the sophsame principle in the mode of appearances.

This realization is possible not just because of the ascent described by Thomas, but because we too are "not not" the Principle. Obviously we are not God, but the fact that we are in his image and likeness means we're not exactly not God either. Frankly, anything purely not-God would be nonexistent.  

This brings to mind our two subjective centers -- the local material ego and the nonlocal self. Importantly, these are not a duality but a complementarity that  -- in my opinion -- can be traced all the way up and in to God. For example, "Father" and "Son" are two subjectivities or "personal centers" within a radical unity.

. . . But we're out of time, so we'll pick up this towline of thought in the next. .

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Random Thoughts on the Passing (Please!) Scene

St. Thomas thought about everything, including politics. When a degenerate people hand power over to demagogues, then "the elective power should, if it be possible, be taken from the multitude and restored to those who are good."

This seems too sensible to be remotely possible. Still, why should a bad and degenerate people have the right to make Biden the most powerful vegetable on earth?

St. Augustine was also on the case over 1500 years ago: "If a people gradually becomes depraved, if it sells its votes, if it hands over the government to wicked and criminal men, then that power of conferring honors is rightly taken from such a people and restored to those who are good."

Now, in our world we have one party that shamelessly purchases votes with cash and other valuable prizes stolen from the productive half of the population; this would of course be the Democrats. 

At the other extreme, we have a party that pretends not to do the same thing, i.e., Republicans. This is why the self-dealing degenerates of both parties so hated (and hate) Trump, and by extension, us. They are united in their contempt for the Good. 

The Founders of course knew that democracy eventually degenerates into mob rule, and thus tried to design a government around this melancholy fact. Everything the left does is designed to transform this M.F. into a principle -- a principle designed to counter and undo the work of the Founders.

But it's not really a principle -- unless an utter lack of principle can be elevated to one. This is why it is so futile to point out the daily hypocrisies of the left -- e.g., yesterday only the tinfoil hat crowd believed COVID was invented by the Chinese, today everyone knows it was. That's not hypocrisy, just the usual absence of principle. 

Note that the lack of principle is the left's version of "freedom." Any controlling principle would place constraints on the exercise of power, and in the struggle between principle and power, it's no contest. Expediency wins every time. 

This is also why the self-styled progressive does indeed progress: in the direction of absurdity. We are beyond the age of mere stupidity and well into the Age of Absurdity. 

This is what makes it all so unsettling. We'd like to think that what cannot continue won't continue, but this is probably what Augustine thought on the occasion of that previous barbarian invasion. They're just a disorganized bunch of illiterate malcontents. Besides, Twitter hasn't even been invented. What harm can they do to Civilization?

The current barbarian invasion has already breached the walls of nearly every institution of western civilization, e.g., the family, education at every level, journalism, science, art, entertainment. Even supposing we yanked on the brake right now, sheer momentum would carry the graveyard train forward another 50 years.

Which, in the Chinese perspective on history, is known as "six months."

You know how the left says "the personal is political?" Well, yes. If you can only manage to destroy the person, then there will be no limit to your political power. Regarding politics, Aristotle

starts from the study of the family, the first human community. The father, who rules the family, must deal, in one fashion with his wife, in another with his children, in still another with his slaves ["slave" is not the preferred nomenclature: helot-American laborer of color, please].

Hence, the family has been under constant assault by the left since forever, with predicable results: less stable families, more power for the left. It's why they want women to deny their natural inclinations and toil outside the home, why they want to subsidize bureaucratcare for children, why they disparage masculinity, why they redefine marriage, etc. You can't say the effort hasn't paid off. 

This is producing hordes of people who are simply unfit for the rigors of freedom -- even of free speech! Paraphrasing Thomas, Fr. Reginald writes that

the man who cannot provide for himself should work for, and be directed by, one wiser than himself.

Clearly not everyone is cut out for freedom. Indeed, there are whole continents and cultures that can't manage it. Problem is, the left once again elevates this to a kind of principle -- as if none of us can get by without the aggressive intervention of Big Sister because some can't. 

This reminds me of an observation by Schuon to the effect that we must recognize that there are indeed a great many adults that can't get by without adult supervision. It's a caste thing. 

There exist people --  e.g., the criminal, the revolutionary, the tenured -- for whom mere obedience to human norms would constitute their great virtue. All are badly in need of a proper Father. All evoke the reurn of the primordial Father, except in the form of the tyrant. Or perhaps a harmless looking vegetable as the face of tyranny. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Codgertations

In the past, posts have generally appeared between around 8:00 and 10:00 AM. Since there's no longer any morning rush, expect them to appear closer to midday. 

This isn't a post, just some loose ends before moving on to another subject.

In everything there is a shadow of nothing, but also an echo of eternity. A tension known only to man, and which defines man. 

The distance between man and God isn't as great as the distance between God and man. Thank God!

The present moment is the only place where one may fall upward or struggle downward. No one is obligated to cooperate with grace, but why use wings for digging?

What is implied by the Son and not Father incarnating? Probably the same as the Son being engendered: the Incarnation must be a fractal of the Trinity. Like everything else.

If ultimate reality is an irreducible Substance-in-Relation, then Father-Son is the one substance in eternal relation. Thus, in the giving of his Substance Christ gives the Relation.

If God is the Supreme Cause, then isn't he also the Supreme Effect? Perhaps the Farther is the First Cause, the Son the First Effect. Only from eternity.  

Unity and multiplicity, the anabolism of catabolism of being, constituting the metabolism of spirit.

Supreme Being implies Supreme Becoming. Absolute and Infinite, Creator and Creativity, One and Many.

Who came first, the Person or the Persons? Neither. Person presupposes the principle of Relation. Except the Relation is also a person. 

Monday, May 24, 2021

Down the Rabbit Hole of Experience

We're just flipping through Keys to the Beyond, looking for one that might unlock the doors. Of perception. And of realization, i.e., intellect and heart, respectively. Knowledge is one thing, its realization another -- at least for this kind of knowledge, which is always experiential. 

Which is interesting, for what is "experience" anyway? In a moment I'll look it up, but obviously any conceivable definition presumes someone there to experience it -- in both the writer and reader. Like "being," it's too general to be defined with precision, as it encompasses everything. 

We've been down this rabbit hole before, but who is "I" but the experience of pure subjectivity? And what is "AM" but its specification? Thus, I AM WHO I AM is more than a mythful. I AM applies to us, but goes double for God.

Ex•pe•ri•ence: direct observation of or participation in events: an encountering, undergoing, or living through things in general as they take place in the course of time.

Observation, participation, encountering, undergoing, living, time. Now, to define, according to the same dictionary, is to determine, limit, conclude, bring to an end, etc. The problem is, experience is literally boundless and unlimited, so it can't actually be defined. It is what it is, but more importantly, it is who I am, and more.

So let's not pretend we know what experience is, much less the experience of experience. That latter is purely immaterial, but this doesn't convey much, since 1) we don't know what matter is, and 2) "immaterial" is just the negation of the matter of which we already stipulated we are ignorant. Does this mean that the immaterial world is just ignorance²?

That can't be right, since the immaterial world is precisely where everything happens -- knowledge, experience, being, etc. 

I'm always trying to think of the title of the unwritten book. If I could only come up with the perfect title, the book would write itself. One rejected title was The Metaphysics of Jesus. The idea was to go through his words line by line in order to explicate the deepest structure of reality. 

First of all, if Jesus is the Truth, then not only should everything he say be true in the colloquial sense, but also relate the truth about the nature of things, about ultimate reality. 

Example. His first recorded words in the Gospel of Mark are The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand. There are many ways to interpret these words -- for example, what they mean in the context of Judaism, but what is the deeper principle by virtue of which they are true? Or, what is the ultimate principle they explicate? 

"Time is fulfilled," for example, clearly implies that temporality must be something more than mere quantitative duration or meaningless change. Rather, to say that time can be "fulfilled" means at the very least that time had theretofore been unfulfilled, but what can this mean?  

To the dictionary! Fulfill: to make full; to supply the missing parts of: make whole; integrate: to carry out: accomplish, execute; to finish out, bring to an end; etc. 

Once again our definition doesn't de-limit or reduce, but rather, is incredibly expansive. But if Jesus is correct, it certainly means that "prior" to his presence, time is an impoverished thing: it is wounded and scattered instead of complete or integrated, nor has it accomplished its purpose and achieved its end.

That's a lot to ponder. 

Anyway, back to the Keys. Laude quotes Schuon in a footnote, who says

The desire to enclose universal Reality in an exclusive and exhaustive "explanation" brings with it a permanent disequilibrium due to the interferences of Maya; moreover, it is just this disequilibrium and this anxiety that are the life of modern philosophy.

Well, first of all, this desire to enclose reality within our own categories has been declared against the Law by Deputy Gödel. But whence the disequilibrium? This occurs because any manmode explanation not only excludes a great deal, but necessarily excludes a great deal more than it can ever include. And what we exclude always comes back to bite us in the aseity.

For example, how much bigger is infinitude than finitude? Now you know why the tenured not only explain such an infinitesimally small portion of reality, but unexplain so much more in the process. 

Laude talks about the need for a coherent metalanguage with which to map supra-reality. In the case of Jesus mentioned above, we see that he generally uses ordinary language to advert to the extra-ordinary. What would the same point look like in strict meta-language?

Let's face it, infinitude is a big place. How do we tame it, or cut it down to size? Think about linear thought and language. It can never do the job. Okay, how about circular? Now we're getting somewhere, but it all depends on the size of your circle. Laude alludes to the "spherical" quality of Schuon's writing. This is the way to go.

To be continued...