Friday, February 17, 2006

Spiritual Reality, Patterned Nonsense, and Coherent Absurdities

In my ongoing discussions with Petey regarding the future of the blog, and in the effort to drive away even more readers, we hit on the idea of discussing aspects of my book that may need some additional elaboration or revision. After all, I probably began writing it in about 1998, and it was mostly finished by about 2002 or so. But it didn't come out until early 2005 because my publisher is relatively small, and I had to wait in line behind other authors whose books preceded mine.

The wait actually turned out to be a good thing, because at the last minute I panicked and realized that the entire Chapter Four wasn't good enough and had to be rewritten. A couple months after I had submitted the final manuscript, I contacted the publisher and asked if it was still possible to make any "little" changes. They said that normally it would be impossible, but that they weren't scheduled to print the galleys for a couple weeks, so I had until then to make any revisions.

You know what they say: "nothing doth concentrate the mind like the galleys," or something like that. So I disassembled the whole thing, having no idea whether I would be able to put it back together in two weeks time. I felt like an emergency room doctor who had made a giant incision right down the middle of the book, with body parts strewn all over the floor of the liberatoreum where I do my writing. That was probably the most focussed two weeks in my life. I was definitely given some kind of transpersonal assistance, whether you want to call it my own unconscious or something higher than that.

The point is that I've had a lot of new ideas since then. In addition, some of the less developed "ideas for ideas" in the book are no longer raw but fully half-baked. Moreover, in order to "make ends meet" in the cosmos--as you know, the book is circular, spanning the entire 13.7 billion year expanse of the cosmos from the primordial nothing to the transcendent Nothing beyond name and form--I had to treat some subjects in a somewhat cursory manner, and regard them as cognitive "flyover country," so to speak.

Also, I would like to address errors in the book, or at least subjects about which I have gained a deeper understanding in the interim. It's not so much that they are necessarily wrong, but when you're talking about spirituality, something can be true on one level but false on a higher level, so it gets confusing. It's like Newtonian physics: it's true on the macro level, but no longer apples at the subatomic level. That sort of thing pervades discussions of religion, which is one of the reasons it can be so misunderstood by both fundamentalists and by intellectuals: both attempt to apply a sort of linear logic that is inappropriate to the spiritual dimension.

Being that the book is literally circular, I originally had the idea of publishing it in spiral form like a rolodex, since it has no beginning and no end, plus I or the reader could simply insert new knowledge and new insights into the appropriate place as they became available. So that's what I'm going to do here from time to time. Think of it not as a rolodex, but a cosmic holodex.

Now, with that prelude in mind, we have recently been touching on the relationship between language and the higher spiritual dimensions of consciousness. One reader seems to believe that no such higher dimensions exist, and that they are a mere trick of language: "If you think that enlightenment is to be revealed through clever wordplay... constructed haphazardly of contradictory statements, you're descending down a path where logic will not guide you, and your conclusions will likewise be unsound... [O]ne wonders whether you haven't permanently crippled your reasoning powers searching for mysterious perpedinculars" (he is referring to what I call the vertical, or the spectrum of consciousness).

However, another reader, Liquidlifehacker, is on the right track when he cites the biblical passage, "In the beginning was the word," noting that this "makes me understand how important the word is, not just that in the Bible but all words because words have power and I know there is power in HIS word. So if we take that one step further, What is a name but a language unit by which a person or thing is known?"

Yes. As I have mentioned before, the world is not made of protons, neutrons, quarks or atoms. Rather, it is made of language. Of course there are radically different languages applying to different domains of the cosmos, but they are all languages nonetheless. For example, the twenty-six mathematical constants that govern the character of the big bang are a language. All math is a language, including quantum physics. DNA is a language. Music is a language. Psychoanalysis is a language that has been developed in the last 100 years to describe the atemporal unconscious, which has a non-linear logic all its own. Poetry and prose are two rather different ways to use language, the former mostly applying to the vertical, the latter to the horizontal.

Human beings acquired language because language is what is. It is not something that we "add" to the cosmos simply because we are sophisticated apes with particularly complex brains. Language is not invented but discovered. Likewise, Spirit is not invented but encountered, partly through the proper use of language.

Now beginning on page 189 of my book, in the section entitled "Unknowing and How to Communicate It: The Hazards of Talking Pure Nonsense," I discussed some of the problems involved in the use of language to talk about what ultimately transcends linear language--the spiritual dimension. Later, on page 204, I briefly discussed one of the obstacles contemporary intellectuals have with religion, in that it generally asks us to believe things that appear frankly implausible, even impossible.

However, I noted that some degree of "belief in the unbelievable" may be a necessary component in deconditioning ourselves to the narrow and restricted consensus reality of our particular culture. I wrote that "Many modern sophisticates shun religion because their misuse of reason informs them that God cannot possibly exist, when the very point of a serious spiritual practice is to discover for oneself whether or not God exists, not through means [read: languages] designed to know other realities, but by utilizing the proper, time-honored methods."

Since writing that section several years ago I have developed a deeper understanding of the relationship between language and spirit, and why religious language is so strange and sometimes incomprehensible to modern ears. Rather than get into a partial discussion of it in this post, I'll elaborate some of my ideas on this over the weekend.

Let me just leave you with this preview: religions are ways of encountering the vertical, of gaining access to it, and of talking about it. If you take religious language and attempt to apply horizontal categories to it, much of it will frankly make no sense, any more than you could take one of Shakespeare's sonnets and reduce it to a statement about the horizontal. For example, "Shall I compare thee to a summer day," might mean, "I think you have a temperature. You are 102 degrees and very sweaty. You better lie down and take an aspirin."

Likewise, a purely rational assessment of religious language will get you nowhere. Scripture is patterned trans-rationality (not irrationality), religion a coherent absurdity, as Joyce called it. Tomorrow and Sunday I will attempt to explain why it must be that way.


People often catch hold of something written by me and give it an interpretation quite other than or far beyond its true meaning and deduce from it a suddenly extreme and logical conclusion which is quite contrary to our knowledge and experience. It is quite natural, I suppose.... it is so much easier to come to vehement logical conclusions than to look at the Truth which is many-sided and whole. --Sri Aurobindo


dilys said...

Well, apart from a new edition in hyperlinked form; and streaming sound or video of you reading it, discusssing it with us, and tickling the baby, I'm fresh out of ideas.

But, then, I haven't read the post yet, or re-read the book, either...

hoyden said...

I'm fascinated reading your explanations of spirituality. You explain a complexity that I never imagined existed that adds depth to my personal spiritual experience. I've covered a lot of ground; starting out with a religous upbringing, then moving on to an apathetic (I don't care if there's a god) phase, and finally to learning how to experience God within myself and in my interactions with others. It's at once deeply healing and scary (what if I've got it all wrong?).

The whole journey has been fueled by my unhappiness and discontent with life. I'm grateful for my struggle and realize I have no regrets--I had to go to all those painful depths to get where I am today.

If you continue blogging I will continue reading. I recognize that it's time to buy your book...

Bro. Bartleby said...

Speaking of word, words, and language, I just finished reading this NY Times article:

Gagdad Bob said...

What fascinates me is not so much the origins of language as the incredible world that was just there waiting for us when we entered it. What a place!

LiquidLifeHacker said...

Well...all I can add to that is...
Won't it be cool to one day get all the answers and to know that our creator wants to have a relationship with each of us? Isn't that cool? It's just there for us seek and find and then to walk into it.

You know I get that feeling of awe so deeply when I look at the ocean and the life that lives deep in there. I look at all the creatures big and small and it's like a sci fiction movie visually! It's there with it's own rules and has such a fascinating current with it's own sounds and pace. It's there for us to discover and be in awe.

BTW...does anyone know who that guy was that wrote that book about whale farming and the future of all that?

hereticalpolemicist said...

We live in a realm of space and time that is fabricated and structured by competing paradigms. These paradigms utilize their aggregate creations as pawns to exert their will into the present and future-even changing the past.

But we pawns, also, have the same potential to effect space and time as the larger entities do. The portals of seduction left open to ensnare us to the dominion of these paradigms are also the gateway to our liberation.Those of us who had the "fortune" of non-socialization during our toddler, pre-school years were able to develop a sense of ourselves uncensored by the social and cultural extortion of our environment.

This is important, because the paradigms of public consensus are extentions of the manipulations of the contending cosmic, supra-dimensional, paradigm civilizations. Having the space and "blessing" of having a personhood at your emotional core give you an intuitive and visceral morality that will be your cognitive gyroscope. As you learn about the aspects of the "cold, cruel world", this inner person that was nurtured in your pre-socialization days of non-psyche abuse will help you navigate through the experiences to a perception that will lead to your revelation of your being and purpose.

Your being and purpose is to be one and resonate with the laws of nature physically and emotionally. Once you have achieved this congruence, the harmonic resonance will lead you intuitively and synchronistically to and through your "imperatives".

First, you must be desocialized from the coccoon of culture that forces outside of your person sought to indoctrinate you. This is the great challenge and struggle that will preoccupy and obssess you. This aspect exists because of the paradigms designed to keep you "confined" to the conventions. We exist in a realm in which our very emotions are monitored and detected. The analogy of the invisible fence we use with dogs is similar to the monitoring and detection we are subject to. This is NOT the monitoring that people speak of governments attempting and doing to us. This is like picking up pirate broadcasts with a radio receiver. When our emotions and energies operate outside of those bands; obstructions, distractions, and diversions are placed in our path to redomesticate us back into the herd culture.

The macro-paradigms are a cartel and donot want competing wills of thought. They desire subservience and subordination. The hierarchial paradigms of organization that have DOMINAted on Earth for all these millenia are more than an anthropological development. Those hierarchial paradigms are a seeded interjection by the "possession" of souls to control others by the "inspirations" (literally) of the macro-paradigms.

Paradigms that would be insurrectionary were repressed not only for their historical, temporal subversion but also for their competitive contra-metaphysical value of being counter-subordinate spiritually. Our cultural mindset has been to persecute and confine those who are behaviorally differnt, be they autistic to "socio-pathic". These "anomalies" showed too much independence and liberation from the conventions and patterns of culture to be accepted. They were and are examples of alter-consciousnesses.

Having a strong intuitve or conscious sense of self is a threat to the temporal order and their paradigm masters. Metaphysical narratives have been constructed providng the primordial myths and legends that coopt or subsume most initiatives of thought.
For those of us who make it beyond this maze of webs, the whole terror of ill-fortune and ill-fate descend upon us.

Be of good cheer. They cannot destroy you who are in the grace of your personhood. Only YOU can be the self-abuser and self-destroyer of your existence. The positiveness of this, is modulated by the negative influences of the temporal culture that have not been desocialized from your thinking. Narcisstic to nihilistic impulses can be as annihilating as being entrapped in the paradigms of the past. One's ego must be no more than a cognitive operator without any aesthetic bigotry in its biases and prejudices.

You must be utilitarianly equinaminous to the qualites, seeing them as symbolic synchronicities and serendipities of time. Time is the organic consciousness and physical dynamic that speaks to us in revelatory signs and symbols when our minds and faculties are not contaminated with degrading paradigms of cultural obsessions.

Your inner person is a receiver and a transmitter. Through temporal, sensual contact and from the abstraction of dreams, the uncontaminated (decontaminated) mind is at rest and peace until the signal spurs it to its "natural" harmonic and resonant affinities. In those affinitive seeking actions you will perform those actions that perform the laws of nature and provide you the affirmation of your mystical connection and existence.

"It will take the daring, courageous to undo the predations of the audaciously callous"

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