Saturday, January 07, 2006

Weekend Sermon: Raids on the Wild Godhead

I try not to let too many things actually bother me, because being bothered doesn't help you resolve what you're bothered about, and just takes you out of your center to the periphery of existence. And if you don't live life from your center, you're not really living, but being lived. Moving from the center to the edge takes us from the depths of being to the shallow end of the gene pool.

Nevertheless, one thing that really bothers me about our elite secular fundamentalists is that they seem to think it's easy to know God--as if it simply involves believing some nice fairy tale and leaving it at that. Well, for some people that is undoubtedly true. In yoga terms, this kind of simple faith is called "bhakti" yoga, and I don't mean to devalue it. I actually envy people who can have a simple faith in the Divine, and as a result, feel the constant presence of the One in their lives.

I'll bet that coal miner in West Virginia who was buried alive was such an individual. Facing death, he left us with those beautiful, haunting words:

Tell all--
I see them on the other side
It wasn't bad
I just went to sleep
I love you

It wasn't bad. I just went to sleep.

Such a simple declaration of unwavering faith, calm courage, and even elegant beauty in the face of the abrupt end of horizontal existence! I've memorized those words. They are worth thousands, even millions of pages of secular fundamentalist drivel. I hope I can remember them in my final moments:

It wasn't bad. I just went to sleep.

Anyway, getting back to the subject of our post, it isn't that easy for most of us callous sophisticates to know God. It takes real effort, commitment, and discipline to begin to reliably cure ourselves of the materialitis and reductionosis that pervade contemporary life. It is really a moment-by-moment project of reorienting ourselves and turning things upside down and inside out--back to the way they're supposed to be. When we do that, we can begin to experience the truth of the Upanishads--that the universe is like a tree with its roots aloft, its branches down here below. Me? I am the ecstatic sap.

In our embodied state, we struggle with overcoming our default orientation to the surface, to the "outside" of things. Both religious and non-religious fundamentalists are still unwavering materialists, living in deadening servitude to matter. Our higher faculties are easily hijacked and enslaved by the lower, and the problem is only worse in a society as abundant as ours, with so many seductive distractions everywhere. The "I" that is pulled this way and that by these tempting distractions cannot remain the same and know God. Rather, we must close one I and open another, or transpose the melody of our life to a higher key, an octave or two above.

Intellectuals struggle with this, for we do not comprehend religious truths; rather, they comprehend us. The intellect must be "raised up" to the realm from which religions emanate. Again, this is something the typical secularist utterly fails to understand. You must work to intensify your mental power and then transcend it, like building a very sturdy ship, and then launching it--two very different things.

For you cannot know religious truth. You cannot even really understand it. Rather, you must undergo it. Secular fundamentalists know all about religion. But you can be sure that they understand nothing of it, for, as Blake wrote, truth cannot be told so as to be understood and not believed.

To understand is to apprehend an intelligible truth. Secularists would have you believe that it is possible to deeply understand something that isn't true, which actually makes no sense at all. As one "undergoes" spirituality and understanding grows, we move from the line to the plane, from seeing to envisioning, from thinking about God to being comprehended by God, to where the interior horizon of the imploding universe flows within itself. The negation of negation!

Achieving this new depth of vision is not a matter of piling on additional surfaces, as the intellectual does. It is changing the nature of the knower, so that a new light-infused known may be captured from the Wild Godhead. In turn, this divine light further elevates the mind so that we may better see divine things, the uncreated world from which the created world is a reflection dimly perceived through mirror and enigma.

Is it really possible to speak from the Ground, where we are unborn again and can know the youth of eternal spring within our hearts? As Meister Eckhart said, these things "are false and absurd according to the imagination of opponents, but true according to true understanding."

True understanding is the death of the conventional self. But don't worry.

It isn't bad. You just go to sleep.

Then you wake up. And remember. And live.


Assistant Village Idiot said...

CSLewis writes Meditations in a Woodshed, which is found in God In The Dock. Lewis uses the analogy of a beam of light: we may observe it and its effects on the dust motes in the air of a woodshed. Looking along a beam of light we cannot see it, but can see other things by it. We can also watch a platform diver and understand a great deal about diving, perhaps even some things which the diver himself does not know. But we don't scoff in the least when he says "you have to experience it to really know." It is not only good things but evil which work this way. Participation provides a knowledge that observation does not, and never can.

A similar theme is developed in his On Two Ways of Knowing.

Anonymous said...

"For you cannot know religious truth. You cannot even really understand it. Rather, you must undergo it."

beautiful and so well put. In contrast to the back and forth about "proofs"

"Secular fundamentalists know all about religion. But you can be sure that they understand nothing of it, for, as Blake wrote, truth cannot be told so as to be understood and not believed"


now why can't you resign yourself that when dealing with secularists you are encountering the issue of inter subjectivities. They don't see what you see, either out of lack of depth, interest or genetics. In your opinion your life is richer than theirs, obviously they don't think so.

move on and tend your own garden. You write eloquently about it.

Inter alia you often mention you have problems with the fundamentalist religious. These folk after all are the ones who on a daily basis battle with the secular fundamentalists over ID gay marriage and various other issues.

Is your silence about the above represent support of their political agenda ?

come out of the political closet and tell you what you really think about such issues in the public sphere.

Also, in your view does knowing god lead one to particular actions here on earth ? which ones ?

btw Blake leaned towards eastern religions, not christianity. Muslim mystics have written in a similar vein. What say you of that ?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I discovered your blog a couple of months ago and started daily reading a few weeks ago. Thank you for your sharing your spiritual experience and insight.

One aspect I've come to recognize is when I am bothered, a common example of an emotional reaction, in that experience is an opportunity to learn about myself, perhaps in regard to unconscious belief or feeling. I can use the tools and techniques to learn more about myself--kind of like when I was a child peeking under flat rocks and logs looking for crawly things. These reactions are one way I become detached from living my life from my center.

One thing I've learned is that when I'm living my life from my center I don't have to defend or attack.

My reaction to the coal miner's last words was in recognizing an example of someone living their life from their center, right up to the end.

Gagdad Bob said...

Sam B

"you often mention you have problems with the fundamentalist religious."

----Actually, I don't have a big problem with religious fundamentalists but SECULAR, non-religious fundamentalists.

"These folk after all are the ones who on a daily basis battle with the secular fundamentalists over ID gay marriage and various other issues."

--Exactly. That's why I don't have a problem with them.
Their values are much closer to mine than are the values of the secular fundamentalists of the left. We are on the same side on most issues, but perhaps for different reasons.

For example, I am against redefining marriage, not because I think homosexuality is a sin, but for five or six other reasons. I could explain them, but that's one of those political "third rails" that just geneate alot of scary hate mail, so I don't want to go there. However, Dennis Prager has written an excellent, quite lengthy article with which I am in substantial agreement. If you google Prager and homosexuality you can probably track it down.

"come out of the political closet and tell you what you really think about such issues in the public sphere.

--I think I already have. For example, it is obvious that the cosmos manifests intelligent design. Nevertheless, I don't think it should be taught as science, but philosophy. The problem is, science is not taught as science, but as a materialistic philosophy, and philosophy isn't taught at all, so it's not exacly fair. So I certainly get a kick out of the fact that the religious right are so aggravating to the narrow-minded, unsophistcated thinkers of the left. The left is much more hyperbolic and emotional over the issue than the ID proponents. The anti-ID jihadis are so spiritually impoverished that I find it impossible to discuss it with them. It's like debating a deaf person on whether or not music exists. What's the point?

"Also, in your view does knowing god lead one to particular actions here on earth ? which ones ?

--Sure. Kindness, honesty, transparency, spontanaity, creativity, generosity, empathy, gratitude, love...

"btw Blake leaned towards eastern religions, not christianity.

--Yes and no. I believe he wrote at a time before there were any translations of Hindu or Buddhist scriptures available in England. His religion is more a direct product of his own imagination confronting the ground of being. As he said, "I must develop my own system or be a slave to another man's."

"Muslim mystics have written in a similar vein. What say you of that ?

--To be honest with you, I have no problem with Sufis. They are actually much closer to Vedanta than they are to Islam, in my opinion. Perhaps this is why they are despised and persecuted by mainstream Muslims, no different than Jews or Christians.

LiquidLifeHacker said...

Awwwww usual you made me smile and its a big that starts the curve upward from my heart into my face! THANKS for taking the time to share with us all!

goesh said...


Anonymous said...

Also, in your view does knowing god lead one to particular actions here on earth ? which ones ?

--Sure. Kindness, honesty, transparency, spontanaity, creativity, generosity, empathy, gratitude, love

so where does that come down to in action

for example should the govt fund education for the blind/autistic child of someone making $10 hr ?

should the govt fine polluters ?

do you believe religious institutions should get state funding: A church anti drug program where they get people off drugs by accepting Jesus getting federal money and hiring only christians of their denomination ?

or should we just hope that lots of folks are kind, gentle ....

and provide charity for the child's education and restrain themselves from making more money by putting environmental controls on their factory instead of polluting more and accept minority religious views as legitimate expressions of the religious impulse ? Or even accept atheists as simply having another worldview.

the real world is messy

why is someone an "anti id jihadi" when they protest the teaching of ID in a science class - that is exactly what you advocate. The pastor in Dover PA declared he was at war with the "intelligent educated segment of the population" How true.

And who do you think would scream more if "creation in seven days" was taught in a mythology class along with greek, hindu, islamic and buddhist myths, anti- id jihadis or a certain other group

but that is exactly where it belongs in a state funded public school

What was wrong with the PA court decision. Was the judge a "jihadi"

stereotypes and labels often clarify little

if you don't like it send your kid to a church school I have no idea why that is so controversial

and here's the prob with Prager

Anonymous said...

science is not taught as science, but as a materialistic philosophy,

which tenth grade biology textbook were you looking at ?

in other words, in the real world in high school what in the world do you mean and what would you change

Anonymous said...

one more

I don't understand your terminology:

were the parents that sued the school board in Dover PA secular jihadis

is the Jewish parent of the only Jewish kid on the public school football team a "secular jihadi" when he protests that that the coach assembles the team to kneel and pray to Jesus before each game. Of course their son is told he doesn't have to join in and can just wait alone on the sideline. That works well for a sixteen yr old that wants playing time and to be "just one of the guys" NOT!

was the protestant college that fired a faculty member that converted to catholicism (sat wsj front page) jihadi ?

real world real problems

Gagdad Bob said...


I explicitly try to avoid politics on the weekend. This post has nothing whatsover to do with the topics you wish to inject into it.

Which proves once again that politics is the religion of the left. It is the materialistic lens through which they obsessively see and experience everything, 24/7/365.

If you have anything sensible to add about your own post-egoic experiences, feel free to jump in. But if you just wish to rant about your personal demons, you'll have to go someplace where they enjoy that sort of thing, like dailykos.

Anonymous said...

feel free to respond to my questions on monday

Anonymous said...

This post is what keeps me coming here. It lights up a zillion questions that I can't put to words.
That inner place.
That view from the center.
How do you get there from here?
It seems like a map without direction.
Only a magnetic pull. Something you can barely feel drawing you toward something you can't see.
Straining to hear a wordless voice just past the horizon of comprehension.
Something in me wants a single transcendant experience that changes everything forever. But it seems that what you get is a sporadic series of little hints here and there. Just food enough to keep you hungry. This was a meal.


Anonymous said...

please refrain from using the word "judeo" as in "judeo-christian" when describing your views or their roots. As an observant Jew I find it offensive.

Jewish tradition and law dating back to the Torah (old testament) mandate REQUIRED acts to help the poor, elderly and infirm. These requirements were codified, explicated and expanded in the Talmud (which i study on a weekly basis) and were often enforced in Jewish communities by the communal leadership. They were further codified by Maimonides (12 century) in a book called Mishneh Torah (which I have also studied) Modern day decisors of Jewish Law (halachah) have also upheld such requurements (yes, I have studied those too).

As for creationism or intelligent design issues related to that have been dealt with starting with the greatest Jewish biblical commentator, Rashi (11th century and yes I study that too, on a weekly basis).

The idea that the Old Testament is a literal narrative was dismissed by a commentator named Ibn Ezra in the 11th century. All these commentators are taught in the most Orthodox of Jewish schools.

For that reason nothing close to "intelligent design" as advocated for public schools and taught in evangelical schools is taught in even the most Orthodox Jewish schools and you find no Jewish spokesmen for such an approach to education.

So in the interest of intellectual honesty please revise your terminology.

Anonymous said...

if you're really interested

one view from a jewish orthodox source most in our community would view as "fundamentalist"

Gagdad Bob said...


"please refrain from using the word "judeo" as in "judeo-christian" when describing your views or their roots."


"As an observant Jew I find it offensive."

--By all means, enjoy being offended if it helps you cope with your demons.

Anonymous said...

you have no intellectual honesty

I'm gone

as for demons

what was the shakespeare line ?

"the fault dear brutus..."

Gagdad Bob said...


LiquidLifeHacker said...

Gagdad Bob said...

LOL I hear the tune "another one bites the dust"

Psssssssst aaron will still stop in to take a peek now and then huh? NONE OF US CAN STAY AWAY...we are all addicted!

Gagdad Bob said...

It's just too bad we'll never learn of his new branch of Judaism that doesn't posit an intelligent Creator. Its credo is "There is no God and Aaron is His prophet."

Anonymous said...

ummm, aaron-
Cassius wasn't talking about demons.
Julius Caesar I,ii:
"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in the stars,
But in our trolls..."


Anonymous said...

back for one more
read the article that is linked

but that might involve actually confronting a contrary idea

which is what is called intellectual honesty

Yes I will drop in occasionally to see if you have a response other than putdowns and wisecracks

don't sit in on a talmud class

that's not considered discourse there

is this how you confronted contrary opinions in your graduate education ?

it wouldn't have worked in my doctoral program

but i guess your acolytes like it

Assistant Village Idiot said...

well aaron e, you have bragged sufficiently about how smart you are. Duly noted. You are an educated man.

The use of Judeo in the phrase Judeo-Christian is entirely legitimate. The values of Western civilization derive primarily from Athens and Jerusalem. You are free to believe and argue that the values used have been perverted or diluted, but the historical fact of their derivation is unremarkable. As no one is claiming to be trying to remove the philosophical Greek portion of our heritage (though they are doing so in actuality), people defending Western Civilization naturally gravitate to the place of attack: the religious portion.

Your gratuitous insertion of Jewish enjoinders to care for others suggests that you are attempting to have a different discussion than the one offered here. Your willingness to quickly accuse others of intellectual dishonesty also suggests that a quick review of the Commandment against bearing false witness is in order. The Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin might be a start.

Anonymous said...

you rock man

I was sure you knew more about Judaism than that guy. You even know the talmud !!!

you're brilliant

Anonymous said...

I am convert yet if this keeps up

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I doubt that I know more Talmud than aaron e, and I am certainly weak in interpreting oral law. I tend to know more Jewish history than doctrine. I do, however, know a little, and have a reference shelf. When people let anger get the best of their reason, it is often not hard to find the flaw. He'll be fine. Jews who actually study Torah seriously find themselves misunderstood and misrepresented from many directions and tend to be prickly.