Saturday, March 25, 2006

Tao it Yoursoph Christianity

One of the clearest expositions I have ever found on the Christian approach to unseen warfare is entitled Christ the Eternal Tao, by Hieromonk Damascene, a Russian Orthodox monk living in the bewilderness forest of Alaska (see sidebar). Judging by the title, one might think that this is some kind of new-age twaddle, but it is anything but. In fact, if you read the reviews on amazon, the hostile ones are not from Christians, but from those gentle new-agers who don't want their paganism mixed up with heavy metal Christianity.

I love this passage, written by someone named Jingjing in 8th century China. It represents a spontaneous merger of Christianity and Taoist philosophy, in the same way that early Christian Fathers tried to understand revelation through the lens of Greek philosophy:

"In the beginning was the natural constant, the true stillness of the Origin, and the primordial void of the Most High. The Spirit of the void emerged as the Most High Lord, moving in mysterious ways to enlighten the holy ones. He is Ye Su, my True Lord of the Void, who embodies the three subtle and wondrous bodies, and who was condemned to the cross so that the people of the four directions might be saved.

"My Lord Ye Su, the one emanating in three subtle bodies, hid His true power, became a human, and came on behalf of the Lord of Heaven to preach the good teachings. These teachings can restore goodness to sincere believers, deliver those living within the boundaries of the eight territories, refine the dust and transform it into truth, reveal the gate of the three constants, lead us to life, and destroy death.

"The Lord set afloat a raft of salvation and compassion so we might use it to ascend to the palace of light and be united with Spirit. He revealed the workings of the Origin, and he gave us the method of purification by water. Thus we purify our hearts and return to the simple and natural Way of the truth. This truth cannot be named, but its power surpasses all expectations. When forced to give it a name, we call it the Religion of Light. The teachings of the Religion of Light are like the resplendent sun: they have the power to dissolve the dark realm and destroy evil forever."


Hieromonk Damascene treats Lao Tzu as a forerunner, even a prophet, of Christ, and sees the tao as identical to the logos, the difference being that the insights of Taoism are not dependent on any divine revelation. Rather, they represent the summit of what is achievable by the natural mind, through the disciplined silencing of one's lower self.

Both Christ and Lao Tzu refer to our spirit as the light; later Chinese teachers would call it the original mind, while ancient Christian ascetics adopted the term nous, meaning "spirit" or "higher mind."

Both Taoism and Christianity are no different than any other yoga (in the generic sense of the term), in that they teach a way to a separate the higher and lower minds. That is, our higher mind is obscured behind a blizzard of undisciplined thoughts, horizontal fantasies, and reactive emotions that turn round and round the unmoored axis of the ego, a general term for the lower self.

The ego, in the sense we are using the term, is not our true Subject. In fact, it is more like an internalized object that lives parasitically on our true subjectivity. It is shaped by personal, cultural, and historical conditioning, and is largely a reflection of various accidental and contingent factors.

Have you ever met someone who was almost pure "object," with almost none of the light of the higher self shining through? Someone who has never had an original thought, someone whose passions and interests seem almost entirely programmed by the environment around them? I meet many such people. You might say that they have fallen all the way down, into the horizontal obscurity of quasi-animal existence. It is a kind of pleasant purgatory, or perhaps a hell with no visible chains or walls.

Remember that when we speak of the "vertical," this is to be understood metaphorically. In reality there are not two selves, one above the other. Rather, we are dealing with two poles of the same being, one extending outwardly toward the terminal moraine (or moron) of the senses, the other extending inwardly, beyond even the horizon of our particularized sense of "I am."

There is no bright line in this interior continuum, but you might say that there is a sort of "vector flow" that moves in one direction or the other. What I mean by this is that our normal consciousness "flows" downstream in the direction of Subject ---> object, washing ashore on the rocky beach of material reality. It seems that most people are sons of this beach.

One of the tricks of meditation, contemplation, and prayer is to reverse this vector flow, as we turn our gaze up and in, toward the nonlocal source of consciousness. It is only here, close to this source, that we can say with Meister Eckhart that "the eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me."

One cannot get through life without the ego, any more than we can make do without a body. In this regard, the ego is like a "virtual organ" that has a role and a purpose. However, in the proper spiritual economy the ego should be subordinate to the spirit, just as the body should be subordinate to the ego.

Here again, how many trousered apes of the postmodern variety reverse this hierarchy? One of the baleful effects of our neo-pagan times is that this lowerarchy is elevated to an actual goal, the end of all being: Obey your thirst. Have it your way. Because I'm worth it. Image is everything. Just do it. Don't bug me, I'm eating. Free your a** and your mind will follow.

The inner light can become almost totally obscured. In fact, one of the ways to prove to yourself that this light exists is to spend a little time with people in whom the light is entirely absent. You won't need to look far. Dailykos. MTV. MSM. Most of academia. These might resemble real people if you look only with the eyes of the flesh.

But these carnal beings are not real people. Alone among the animals, it is entirely unnatural for human beings to be wholly "natural," for this is to live entirely in the horizontal world bequeathed to us by natural selection. But natural selection does not govern the vertical. Rather, verticality and inward mobility operate along the lines of supernatural election.

The ego is puffed up with vanity. It enjoys being king. Under the spell of self-sufficiency, it begins to ignore the promptings that emanate from the father shore of our being. The vespers become muffled, and pretty soon you are Master of Your illusory Domain. I think therefore I am. Period. Reality is a form of my sensibility. Truth is relative. Perception is reality. Without me, it's nothing.

You have devoured the apple.

This is the primordial calamity, the Sickness That Has No Name. Now you are on the run. Immersed in its own immediate gratification, the ego lives a life of perpetual distraction. Anything to avoid turning around and seeing the hellhound that is on your trail. Worse yet, the hound of heaven.

Our higher self is born of a voidgin and descends from eternity. The ego, however, is a child of time. It is an extension of the world. Therefore, it instinctively turns for comfort and reassurance to the very things that gave it birth, nurtured it, and have made it wrong all along. Things can get expensive here for the Freudian ego, for freudom isn't free. It requires a lot of mirrors and morers, a lot of fancy props and flattering props.

This is why you can never get enough of what you really don't need. Never! It's what you call a "bad infinity," the mirror image of the benign infinity of the divine mind. Larger distractions. More elaborate escapes. More artificial gratifications. More complicated psychodramas. Trying vainly to drain more pleasure out of things than there is in them. Moooooorrrrrrrre!

But the wool only stretches so far. Try as you might, you can't pull it any further. The third eye sees what you're up to anyway.

Interestingly, you have arrived where you are through an elaborate and complicated maze of soph-deception. And yet, the way back is so simple. It's always a straight line. And very short. If you are a fabulously wealthy person living in a two-dimensional world, you can go anywhere you want in flatland to try to "get away from it all." But there is an easier way. For, no matter where you are in flatland, the third dimension is equally accessible. And it's free.

Well, not free. But it's a bargain nonetheless. It'll only cost you your life. Yes, there is only one way out.

You must commit cluelesside.

Guess what? I'd like to continue, but today I must face another kind of gallows, when I must stare into the ghastly countenance of His Accountancy this afternoon. Yes, time for my annual fleecing by the attax dog, and I haven't even started "making my arrangments." So we'll have to continue this line of inquiry tomorrow. If I have any blood left. For, as a perceptive, albeit psychotic, patient of mine once said, "you can only get so much blood out of a turnip."


Lisa said...

"Cluelesside" I love it! That was truly a beautiful post. I am learning and remembering so much from hanging out here! I can't wait to read the book!

Monkey said...

It's not every day one comes across a blog with so much thought put into it as yours. Bravo - keep it up!

LiquidLifeHacker said...

Thanks Bob for sharing what ya did! I agree with Lisa cause I love that word "cluelesside" Ha Ha you are such a master of words. I sometimes wonder what you were like as a child. I bet your mother has some good stories!

* Hey will, when you get up and moving, HERE is a little something for the weekend eyeball and remember to crank up your speakers!

jwm said...

I read this post, took a nip o' the morning and went out on foot through the neighborhood. It's a great looking day. Warm but overcast enough to let you know that some weather is headed our way. In Southern California Weather is a treat. (unless your house slides off a hillside or something) Anyway, I checked out yard sales, and wandered over to the local Starbucks. Got a cup. Sat out on the empty back patio facing Beach Blvd. It was nice.

A very pretty, and very nicely dressed young woman approached me at the table. She had a Bible and a small stack of Awake magazines. Jehova's Witness. We had a really nice chat. It's interesting. She made a point of brining up the 6000 year old Earth idea. I said I didn't quite agree with that method of dating, but (and here's the strange part) I told her I could respect her point of view, and not let it get into the way of a good converstion. We talked about the will of God, end times, the apostles, the afterlife, and even the concept of horizontal/vertcal qualities of existence like we've been talking about here. She was immediately clear on that concept... It was a lot of fun.

There was a time when I would have dismissed this person quite rudely, and I would have felt entirely justfied being uncivil to someone who was trying to "push their religion" on me. But as it happened, this little encounter was a bright spot on the morning. I told her this as she was leaving. "That's why we keep knocking on doors," she said.


Will said...

yah, I have sometimes found, when in the presence of the spirit-snuffed, walking black-holes-in-space, a rather disquiting feeling, even before they make themselves and their vegetable minds apparent.

A certain vampiric quality they have? Something in the air makes me feel like I'm gasping for breath, though I'm not literally doing so. Also, a kind of nervousness and a feeling like my spontaneity has dried up.

I think too that you can see, if you adjust your "sight" just so, a private little cloud around the head, a little dream nimbus - and I think this is just what it is, a private daydream that runs 24/7 without interuption.

Jing-jing's line "refine the dust" - that's wonderful.

And thanks, Liquidiana, for the link! Very nice indeed. I cranked the speakers up, the cats did not go running.

Sal said...

I doubt that anyone here has not read it, but just in case:

The ego being a product of time: C.S. Lewis once pointed out to a seeker picking his brains, that our ill-fit with time - never being quite comfortable with it- was a clue that some part of us was made for out-of-time, or eternity.
Good luck with the tax man.

Spouse gets a Border's discount this week - checking through Bob's Bookshelf for some stuff to buy. In vain, probably, but one can hope.

Will said...

BTW, Lisa, re yr trip to Israel -

That's the one place I want to visit before I pass from this world. Whether it's pre, post, or concurrent with Armageddon, I don't really care, but if I had to express a preference it would probably be "pre" or "post".

The Holy Lands really are the central spiritual nerve ganglia of the world. This is not to slight Tibet, which still has its own thing going.

But, you know, if for some reason I can't go, Jerusalem can always come to me.

Kahntheroad said...

Makes me think of a line from an unreleased version of Dylan's Idiot Wind:

"You can have the best there is/but it's gonna cost you all your love."


What a great story. Puts me in a good mood as I head out for an afternoon on the sunny streets.

It's strange to realize that I now probably have more in common with the people I'd once dismissed as religious nuts than the moonbats who I consider my peers. Now, they all may be nuts, but I'd much rather talk to some whose nuts in the right direction.

Tusar N Mohapatra said...

Why this fixation with Christianity? Just because you're born into it?

Lisa said...

The fixation with Christianity just happens to be the fixation of the day. Bob gets fixated on all great apects of religion and spirituality. That's kind of the point of the blog!

Lisa said...

Will- I highly recommend you get around to seeing Israel. It is pretty safe once you get in, unless of course you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, but that could happen anywhere. There is actually a lot to see for such a small country. Make sure you visit the dead sea. It is very trippy because you can sit in it and read the paper! Make sure you don't have any cuts though, if you know what I mean. The salt really stings, but the mud is fantastic. You can just slather it all over yourself and let the sun bake it dry. After you rinse off that mud, your skin is baby soft. There are also these chalk caves that are very cool. There definitely is a vibe of heavy spiritualness all around that is slightly different from other parts of the world. Did you know that there is a whole ward in a Jerusalem hospital dedicated to helping people that have "messiah syndrome"? I suppose it happens quite frequently when walking around Jerusalem. I don't have time to find the link now, but will try later and use my new found fancy tag skills thanks to Liquid!

Kahn- interesting enough, I have often found the same thing true but can't let go of old dear moonbatty friends just yet. They are otherwise very smart and I have hope for them emerging from BDS, call me an optimist!

Will said...

Tusar -

"Fixation" is a pejorative term, as I'm sure you know, at least in the way you're using it; it implies that one takes a narrow, exclusionary view of things. If you've taken the time to read Bob's postings, as well as the commentary, you'll see that we're all over the map re religious and spiritual perspectives. Your own perspective is rather pinched. Were you just born into it?

George Breed said...

Can't find the intriguing Jingjing quote in my "Christ The Eternal Tao." Is it in Martin Palmer's "The Jesus Sutras?"

Anonymous said...

Lisa - >>Did you know that there is a whole ward in a Jerusalem hospital dedicated to helping people that have "messiah syndrome"?<<

No, I didn't but, wow. That certainly would seem to validate the idea that the Holy Lands really do have a "vibe" going, one that quickens in the spiritual sense. Of course, a lot of wannabe fruitcase messiahs probably tend to flock there anyway, just because it is what it is. But still - there are a few places on earth that seem to emanate a quickening vibe; and the psyche that is unprepared for it can become unhinged, in varying degrees, of course.

Will said...

sorry, Lisa, "anoymous" was me, Will . . ditzed again, natch.

LiquidLifeHacker said...

Will its called Jerusalem Syndrome

Maybe when ya get your blog going you could share some of your pics from the Holy Land?

LiquidLifeHacker said...

Tusar N Mohapatra said...
Why this fixation with Christianity? Just because you're born into it?


Tusar, share with us, you will find there is alot of diversity here and we all can be inspired from each other. For me, when Bob uses the term "vertical", its a variable for you to put in your "higher being"

I personally love everyone's input and have enjoyed all the stories and links shared, because for me, all the experience of others is spiritual testimony and I get moved from it all!

Gagdad Bob said...


Good catch! I condensed the quote from a book entitled "Not of This World: A Treasury of Christian Mysticism," by the esteemed James Cutsinger, but Cutsinger took it from the Jesus Sutras by Palmer, an unmemorable book which I do not recommend except for the memorable Jingjing quote. (Didn't mean to imply that the quote was found in the Tao of Christ, although there are some similarly luminous passages there.)

Gagdad Bob said...

It looks like Tusar is a fellow Aurobindian. I hope he stays around and contributes to the discussion, because I believe that the future of spirituality will involve a synthesis of Christian and Aurobindian ideals. Since we can write off Europe, the new Anglo-Hindu alliance that President Bush has helped forge will be of capital importance for the future of psychohistorical evolution.

George Breed said...

Thanks, I will look up Cutsinger. Blessings to and with you.

Will said...

Everyone, please check out Mr. George Breed's blog, he who posted a comment a short while ago. Is very interesting.

"Warrior Geezer" title alone worth price of admission.

Will said...


Thanks for the link. I think several years ago there was a Robert Stone novel, which, in part, involved Jerusalem Syndrome as backgrounding. Not sure, haven't read it.

It would be a fascinating setting for a ficitonal work, be it novel, film.

Kahntheroad said...

I second Will's recommendation to visit Dr. Breed's site.

This piece is a gem:

Welcome to the discussion Dr. Breed!

Tusar N Mohapatra said...

It's surprising that Bob is yet to cite a single line from Savitri.

Gagdad Bob said...


True. But I have quoted some more manageable poems by Aurobindo. And I borrowed liberally from Savitri in writing my book. Plus, I couldn't even do this blog without the assistance of our nonlocal overmental operators. In building a bridge, you can't start in the middle.

dilys said...

More please, soon, on "nonlocal overmental operators."

Is this the embroidered crest on Petey's cap?