Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Beauty's in the Eye of the Beer Holder

I think it’s fair to say that on this side of manifestation, God (saguna brahman) is a verb, whereas the God-beyond-being (nirguna brahman) must be a noun. That latter aspect of God is called silent, still, unchanging, unqualified, etc., whereas the only God we can know must be “Godding” somewhere about the vicinity, or we couldn’t know about him.

In fact, the only way we ourselves can know about God is by religioning. A religion is not primarily something you “have” or “know.” Rather, it must be something you do--like playing a musical instrument in order to make music present. I always say that one does not become religious after deciding with the mind or ego whether or not God exists. Rather, one becomes religious in order to find out. Just as science is the appropriate means with which to study the properties of matter, religion is the means with which we study the properties of Spirit.

Whatever the quantum world is in itself, science is helpless to say. Looked at this way, it’s a particle. Looked at that way, it’s a wave. It is just so with religion. Religions are ways to look at (and even “through”) God in order to reveal different aspects and dimensions of him. But this doesn’t mean that the entire enterprises is subjective, any more than quantum physics is subjective just because knowledge of the subatomic realm depends upon the way we look at it.

So the question really isn’t whether or not God exists. The existence of God can easily be proven to someone who is inclined to believe the evidence. To someone not so inclined, no amount of evidence will suffice. This is an idea that Petey heard from Assistant Village Idiot, but to whom he would ungraciously prefer not to give credit (typical).

A clear way to express it is, being that God is real, how do we actually make him ex-ist? That is, the literal meaning of exist is to “stand out.” Thus, in this way of looking at things, something can be real but not exist.

Speaking of my extended family, the saddest thing that’s ever happened in my life was the sudden death of my sister-in-law four years ago, who was only 39 years old at the time and left behind a two year old son. A year after her death there was an “unveiling” ceremony at the cemetery, as in Judaism one waits a year before inscribing the person’s name on the tombstone. But although nominally Jewish, the in-law side of my family is rather militantly secular, so there was no rabbi there, no sacred words, no ritual, no “religioning.” Somebody read a poem, but it mostly made the poet present, not God. Everyone stared at the tombstone, looked at their shoes, shuffled around awkwardly, and that was it. No religioning whatsoever. In fact, God wasn’t even invited.

Given how much I’ve changed between then and now, I think that today I would have felt more comfortable in doing my little part to try to bring God into the ceremony. Free-lance holy man that I am, I’m sure I could write something appropriate to the occasion, and in fact, I would feel obligated to do so. Because as you grow spiritually, the obligation to conform to God should extend to every detail of your life, from the simplest thing to the most profound and important.

Personally I would have a great deal of difficulty being an Orthodox Jew. And yet, I have a profound respect for this tradition, because they put into practice the ideas I am discussing here. For the purpose of all the rules and procedures is to create an environment of spiritual ascent, and this is something everyone needs to do in their lives, regardless of their spiritual approach.

While we cannot manufacture grace, we can do many things that interfere with its operation or which facilitate our awareness of its presence. One of my greatest influences, Frithjof Schuon, emphasized the importance of beauty in all aspects of one’s life. Beauty, he believed, represented a plane within the realm of sensible forms that is pierced by radiation from the Divine light. Contemplating this Divine light can draw us back upstream to its ultimate source.

Schuon identifies three essential spiritual elements that one cannot do without: Truth, Virtue, and Prayer. Each of these is actually an aspect of the others. A fourth element is beauty, but it is considered extrinsic because, strictly speaking, one may still advance without it--for example, if you are stuck in a jail cell.

But we should not minimize the importance of beauty, especially in this day and age, filled with so much ugliness and barbarity wherever we look. Unfortunately, we have come to increasingly inhabit a world that is the very opposite of what the Orthodox Jew attempts to create in his life. That is, we have created a descending world that constantly fragments and disperses our attention, and which drags our consciousness down and out, from the center to the periphery.

Here is what is at the ultimate root of the so-called “culture war”: are we going to live in an ascending culture or a descending one? In just my lifetime, I have seen how these positions have been reversed. When I was a boy growing up in the 1960’s, there were still many elements and reminders of ascent all around. There were plenty of virtuous and heroic men to look up to, both in real life and in the media. There wasn’t the secular hatred of the higher life, nor was there the obnoxious celebration of everything that is coarse, vulgar, and “authentic.” There was implicit awareness of a spiritual hierarchy, and some acknowledgment that it was worthwhile to try to aspire upward--not materially, but spiritually.

Today everyone is equal, but the only way you can achieve that is by assaulting and negating the vertical. I hope my son always knows that there are people lower than him to whom he is obligated, and people higher than him to whom he has the obligation to revere and emulate. Never emulate someone lower, and never presume to instruct or consider yourself equal to the truly Superior Man. Both stances are spiritually toxic. Schuon is just one of about a dozen such personages to whom I look up with reverence, awe, and gratitude.

The most insignificant object in your life can be a trivial knickknack or it can be a metaphysically transparent gift from heaven. If we wish to become more aware of God’s presence, it is critical to create an ambiance in which he is more likely to appear. Again, in the final analysis, God can be excluded from nowhere. This is not his problem, but our problem. But do not deliberately make matters worse than you have to by choosing situations and environments that obscure God’s presence.

For beauty is a form of vertical recollection. Through it we recall our divine origin. Schuon believes that the best way is to imitate the beauty of virgin nature insofar as that is possible. Nature has an inherent equilibrium, harmony, simplicity, dignity and humility. I am always reminded of this when I ride my bike in the hills around my house. In looking at the spontaneous patterns produced by the wildflowers below or the clouds above, I am constantly reminded that no artist could achieve this simple perfection of form. The world effortlessly tosses up these beautiful patterns and forms, everything in its proper place--just as if all creation is a spontaneous prayer.

So in our own lives, it’s best to imitate the simplicity of nature, to make our ambiance as natural as possible. I began simplifying my life many years ago, mainly to create more “slack” with which to engage my spiritual practice. I did not know at the time that this simplicity was not just a support, but an actual means of spiritual recollection.

Lisa will appreciate this, for even our outward comportment is of the utmost importance: our posture, our bearing, how we carry ourselves, our gestures--each of these can enhance our nobility and bring us into conformity with our divine center, or can reflect spiritual apathy and a loss of dignity. Our bearing, to the extent that we can achieve it, should reflect the motionless center, the still point within. Try it some time. In other words, don’t just go searching for that still center. Rather, assume it’s already there, and begin walking and acting in conformity with it--back erect, head head high, stately comportment. You’ll find that you get “feedback” right away from that calm center. You will reflect it.

Likewise, clothing is critical. No, this does not mean being a self-absorbed “dandy,” nor does it have anything do do with the opposite extreme in the Muslim world. But if you go to a mall and see the horrifying manner in which people dress these days, you feel the effect. It is literally unfit for the dignity of human beings. Nor does it have anything to do with prudery. A thirteen year old girl wearing pants with “juicy” emblazoned on her butt is an incipient lost soul who is probably the luckless victim of absolutely clueless and spiritually bereft parents. Obviously, tattoos are a nonstarter, for they detract from the body’s natural beauty. God did not intend your body to be a crass billboard for your ego’s inane advertisements. Your body is a material reflection of the divine nature. You can highlight that or detract from it.

Even needless sloppiness should be avoided. By its very nature, according to Schuon, Spirituality has an aristocratic air that is fundamentally at odds with the democratizing spirit of the times. The denial of beauty is just one more way that our culture denies Truth.

Your home environment is especially critical to an ambiance of ascent. Again, according to Schuon, “what dress is to nudity, one’s dwelling is to the natural environment,” in the sense that we should seek simplicity, use natural materials if possible, minimize clutter, and have sacred art and liturgical symbols to remind us of the vertical. “Your dwelling should be a a sanctuary in which everything works together in disposing your soul toward Prayer. It should be a garden or oasis in the midst of life’s turmoil where movement toward God is unimpeded by the world’s noise and distractions.” At least one corner--preferably a room---should be set aside solely for the purposes of divine reading, meditation and prayer.

You must also be extremely careful about what and who you allow to enter your soul. Everything has an effect, including music, television, newspapers, magazines. I’m sure that well over 90% of the the content of these things creates a tamasic atmosphere of descent. When I pick up one of the major liberal newspapers, or a Time or Newsweek in an office, I am primarily struck by how stupid they are. It is a world of breathless trivia, urgent superficiality, pseudo-sophisticated nonsense, and elevation of the momentary to far beyond its importance.

And perhaps most importantly, it is absolutely vital to associate yourselves with “men of ascending tendency.” Of course, there are many relationships we cannot avoid--coworkers, relatives, etc.--which is all the more reason to be part of satsanga or association of people who are serious about the spiritual life.

Clearly that is one of the purposes of this blog. I am sure there must be others, but I know of no other blog that explicitly attempts to reverse perspective and deal with contemporary events in an ascending manner, from the standpoint of eternity rather than time. I try my best to provide not “all the news that’s fit to print,” but all the perennial truth that the roaring torrent of eternity will fit into my meandering creek (or crock, depending on your politics) of a post.


Frithjof Schuon, whom I consider easily one of the greatest religious geniuses of the 20th century, is for many people a difficult read. Frankly he is not for everyone, for his is a way of jnana or pure metaphysics. Some of the above discussion was inspired by a book entitled Advice to the Serious Seeker: Meditations on the Teaching of Frithjof Schuon, by James Cutsinger (see sidebar). Even it would probably be a challenge for most readers who are not themselves of a jnani temperament. No need to worry, however. In the future I will continue to do my best to make Schuon’s ideas accessible and hopefully useful to all. As I said, while I do not agree with his every teaching, he is nevertheless one of about a dozen of my go-to guys.


Hoarhey said...

Thanks Bob,

I also grew up during your era watching TV programs which contained life lessons. These type shows today would be mocked and scoffed at and called corny.
Several years back I was becoming acutely aware of how television had lost its moral underpinnings.
During that time of awakening I happened to catch an Andy Griffith Show marathon on Nickelodeon. As I watched those shows I cried from sadness over the contrast between the goodness contained in that program and what passes for entertainment today.
Shortly afterward I took a vacation to Hawaii and one of the things I would do in the early mornings was to go read on the beach below Diamond Head crater. On one of those mornings Jim Nabors came by walking his dog and struck up a conversation. We talked for about 15 minutes and both went our own ways. I began reflecting again about The Andy Griffith Show and his role in those television shows for the next day or so. About a week later he came by again and I was able to talk to him about my gratitude for his role in bringing that show into the living room of millions of kids like me and how, unbeknownst to me at the time, it helped to set a hidden standard for my later life.
Funny how synchronicity works.

Thanks for what you do in helping to awaken people to something better.

will (deputy jerk) said...

Bob/Heads -

The following is one of the more regretful examples of spiritual dumb-downing due to Secular Creep that I've come across: Back in the days of Vatical Council Two in the early 60's, a time when the Catholic Church decided to make ecclesiastical affairs more appealingly "democratic," it was so ruled that the mandatory singing of Gregorian chant in monasteries was to be optional.

Now, unlike what some may think, monastic life is not a matter of sitting around all day and contemplating the beauty of cloud patterns. On the contrary, it's a very demanding, even harshly rigorous existence, has been for centuries. Monks get very little sleep, eat very sparingly (vegan), and often have to farm, while all while maintaining prayer/meditation schedules and studies. It's not for the faint of heart. Still, for centuries monks have successfully dealt with the rigors of monastic life, which indeed helped to preserve Western civ during the ages of European turmoil.

But - when the Gregorian chant was made optional, quite suddenly monks all over the world started falling ill due to lack of energy. Many simply couldn't keep up with the centuries-long traditional monastic schedule. More hours of sleep were introduced, as was more food in the diet, including meat.

It doesn't take an Einstein to conclude that the daily Gregorian chanting was in fact, an energizing *meditation* and was absolutely critical in maintaining energy levels, both spiritual and physical. Indeed, Gregorian chant was and is an "objective" sacred art form in the literal sense - this has much to do with sonic vibration and how it effects the higher energy centers. One would have thought this was a given in Church's inner sanctum (yes, there really is a Church inner sanctum) and that the chant was an indispensable holy tradition.

Yet in the rush to "modernize," the chant was literally de-graded - a great and holy tradition was thrown aside and so the Church suffered the natural consequences.

It's not really that great of a stretch to link the chant fiasco to the eventual introduction into Western culture of the most vile, higher energy-warping forms of music - both stem from terribly misguided attempts to "democratize" and "modernize."

Sal said...

Deputy Will,
The good news is that chant never fully went away and is being restored in many places.
I am fortunate to live within reasonable distance of the Benedictine monastery in Oklahoma, which is a foundation of Fontgalbant in France. A visit there is a real spiritual restorative.

On beauty and goodness - I was wishing last Sunday that Bob could give an opinion on the abbey where I often attend Mass. It is architecturally as simple as a child's drawing and is constructed of massive unfinished blocks of softstone (sand, or lime, not sure which). It has a simplicity and solidity that is very helpful in focusing the mind, heart and spirit.

Julie C said...

When I was young, I had the great fortune to attend churches where Mass was still sung. On rare occasions, I even heard it sung in Latin. There was a magic to it that helped me, an energetic and easily distracted child, pay attention where mere words would have lost me instantly. In some places, an attempt at modernization resulted in folk guitars and singing instead of the traditional chant, which seemed to diminish, in my eyes, the solemnity and reverence of the Mass.

Today, I don't attend church, for a wide variety of reasons. I still love the music, however; I am fortunate enough to be a member of a community choir that often performs traditional-style religious music (for our spring concert we performed Ralph Vaughan Williams' Mass in G minor, and Rene Clausen's Magnificat). Being a part of that puts me far more in touch with the vertical than most churches ever have.

Thanks for your blog, Bob. I've been reading for several weeks, but usually don't comment since I can add very little to the conversation as of yet. It has been a delight to find that there are people out there who have a worldview (cosmoview?) closer to my own.

Will (*dj*) said...

Sal -

>>The good news is that chant never fully went away and is being restored in many places.<<

Yes, thank God. I marvel at the supremely vertical genius that must have gone into the formulation of the chant. No doubt, those people knew what they were doing. Tibetan chant, at which I also marvel, has nothing on Gregorian chant re its esoteric, meditational significance. I think that true sacred art form can be repressed, down-sized, shuffled off to the sidelines but it can never be vanguished entirely.

will said...

Julie -

>>In some places, an attempt at modernization resulted in folk guitars and singing instead of the traditional chant, which seemed to diminish, in my eyes, the solemnity and reverence of the Mass.<<

Well, I think, because it really *did* diminish the solemnity of the mass by diminishing the music's impact on the human spiritual organism.

Overall, the Church lost a lot more adherents than it gained through its clumsy attempts at modernization.

jwm said...

Every morning and evening my wife kneels before the Gohonzon, lights her candles and incense, recites the Gongyo (liturgy) and spends time chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. Performing this ritual she does exactly what you you were talking about creating a small corner of vertical ascent both in the physical space of our room and the spiritual space inside her.

We were married in a Buddhist ceremony. I had no religious tradition I could call my own, other than my period of silent prayer each morning. I decided to take up the practice because I figured one religion was as good as the next, and I didn't like all that Jesus stuff anyway.

I didn't take to it very well. Truth to tell, I just plain didn't like the practice. I- well I don't need to list all the problems I had with Nichiren Buddhism. I gave it a year, and then gave it up.

Odd, but since I've been reading and participating here, I discover that I've lost both the 'Jesus willies' and gained a new appreciation for my wife's Buddhism. Nonetheless I don't want to resume the practise. I find I have a greater affinity for the God of the Bible than I do for the Mystic Law. After the first reading of this morning's post I did my 'click at random' over at Bible Gateway, and hit Psalm 104. It's all about the beauty.

I mentioned before that since my mother injured herself I have been held very close to the house.
She has hearing aids, but she won't use them. She has headphones, but she won't use them. As a result I live with television at full volume almost all day long. An unending clamor of strident voices, domestic violence, sales pitches, Montel, Maury, Jerry,
"Which one of these scumbag rats is the father of this child?"
My mother retired about fifteen years ago. Since then she has done nothing but sit in a chair and absorb this stuff eighteen hours a day seven days a week. Year in year out. You can imagine the result. (By the way, I am not exaggerating here for dramatic effect.)

Today I realize the importance of finding or creating my own sanctum- inner or otherwise. For today, and for now this small cyber sanctum will suffice, but even as I type I realize that this is a but a stepping stone. Maybe one step closer to the rock.


Sal said...

You know our prayers go up for you to find grace in this situation.

This post has so much richness and really touched me, as my vocation is primarily domestic, which I see as bringing horizontal order to my small spot of creation to enhance the vertical. I take care of our house, my spouse, our youngest, and help out the married daughter and her family and volunteer at school and in the community. I try, with more or less success, to make our home peaceful and pleasant and a haven from the rude world and to improve that world where I can.

In this, I very much appreciate the wealth of interesting stuff Bob and all of you provide to think about!

dilys said...

It's appealing, the turn this thread has taken toward building sanctuaries. The shadow of a Rock in a thirsty land...

And, JWM, aren't there noise-neutralizer earphone-like thingys (Bose is one kind, but another is supposed to be better)? Sort of like letting the baby crawl, and the grown-up taking refuge in the playpen. Not to mention the $1 green foam comfortable soft earplugs the music techies use at road shows (sold at music shops).

This hurts just to read about! I would be proud to fund a pickaxe for immediate and eloquent application to any number of nearby television sets.

Really, if I can help, you know how to reach me. Just look for the pile of toys and Sr. Dilys will point you in my direction :-)

Deputy Jerk (DJ) Will(™) said...

to the public Bobblehead Waveform At Large:

I have received permission from The World’s Most Obnoxious Man(™) to announce in this space the opening of my music web site Neon Cat Music (neoncatmusic.com)

Here you find some original songs, plus a few poem-like thingies set to music. Lyrics are available on the site. Play 'em in their entirety, enjoy 'em. (or not) You can also download 'em, press on CD for lil coinage.

Also, in a month or so, there will be a site feature titled Ask Fergus the Cat A Question. Fergus is, as you guessed, my obnoxious, know-it-all cat, who, not unexpectedly, has a penchant for prophetic utterances. Fergus does currently have a blog on the site. When I asked him if he was going to blog with Bob-like consistency, he replied, "No. No, I don't really see that happening. Are you kidding"? So don't expect daily postings.

As to the music - OK, I'm operating out of a jimmied-up home studio, so expect a certain rough quality. (which may or may not serve the music's artistic auteur-quality) Also, my singing voice . . . heh . . . get past it, please . . . thanks . . .

I do like to think the songs have a certain intelligence and depth. I also like to think that each one has it's own spiritual quality, without me slamming you upside the head about it. Periodically I'll be adding more material to the site. God help us all.

So it's neoncatmusic.com. Check it out. Don't make me beg. Because I will, you know. Abjectly so, with a paint-peeling bathos. And do you really want to see that grotesque spectacle unfolding every time you come in here? I think not.

Have a good one!

DJ Will(™)

Lisa said...

[And perhaps most importantly, it is absolutely vital to associate yourselves with “men of ascending tendency.”]

True words, I am also going to assume this applies to women as well. The religions that try to exclude women from higher knowledge are off base in my book.

I have also noticed my own dissatisfaction with TV & Hollywood the more time I spend hanging around this cool blog. I cannot even tolerate Boston Legal anymore, with or without Shatner!

I certainly do agree with Bob's assessment of keeping one's body in a vertical state of ascension. In fact, since I have been involved in discussions here, I have been creating my own workshop that will help people move with experiential integration. It is so exciting to be creating something that will be so helpful to so many people. Our discussions here have been so inspirational to me. Today has been such a creative and organizational breakthrough for me and my partner. This is actually the first time in my life that I have actually created something that is unique and worthwhile. I have felt closer to God than I ever have. It feels like I have experienced a closer bond with God through this journey. I can imagine what Bob must have felt like when completing his book. Although, I have a feeling this blog was created in order to allow Bob to continually recognose and reorganize the book, as I can imagine he is always coming up with new ideas and examples.

LiquidLifeHacker said...

Isn't Frithjof Schuon a Christian that converted to Islam?

Gagdad Bob said...

Yes and no. He became a Sufi, but only because he was looking for a path of true initiation. Once he did, he applied his understanding to all of the authentic revelations in an extraordinarily sensitive and beautiful way. He never abandoned his relationship to Christianity, and in fact, deepened it based upon some vivid mystical encounters with Mary. There are books that compile just his Christian teachings, and in my opinion the depth of his insight into Christianity matches that of the greatest saints and mystics. There are some people who are just "religious geniuses."

For the record, James Cutsinger, his main compiler, is an Orthodox Christian.

LiquidLifeHacker said...

Yeah Bob, I mean I know the dual religious thingy....but I mean I have had muslims quote this guy to me and then say that sufism is going to be the bridge that brings Christians and Jews to their way of thinking and they have used this man along with Lings and the whole sufism thingy to describe what they mean. Did he also have the name Shaykh Issa Nureddin Ahmad?

Now if this is the same guy....and I am not sure yet if he is, I mean the one that some muslims have quoted to me...then this guy teaches that there are many many paths to God and that there isn't one truth and he actually had muslims students that followed him and his writings. I mean I understand the mystical esoteric thing and how all cultures have had it and do have it, but one cannot take the shahhada and be a follower of Allah and then also be a follower of the Judeo Christian God, because they conflict on their truths of who God is. But like I said, I have been quoted to several times, and I think it's this man they have quoted, but if it is, and you follow him too, then can you explain how one person can claim to have divine truth when it's more just a promotion of religious pluralism? Or would you just say this man was a genius on spiritual things and named what he found as God at the end of every esoteric journey going from one religion to the other?

Is this HIM

The Zero Boss said...

"I mean I understand the mystical esoteric thing and how all cultures have had it and do have it, but one cannot take the shahhada and be a follower of Allah and then also be a follower of the Judeo Christian God, because they conflict on their truths of who God is."

Sri Ramakrishna experienced religious truths in the Hindu, Christian and Islamic paths within his lifetime. It's definitely possible.

Personally, I'll do well to master ONE path.

LiquidLifeHacker said...

Jay---Sri Ramakrishna experienced religious truths in the Hindu, Christian and Islamic paths within his lifetime. It's definitely possible.

Sure you can find some truths in Islamic paths Jay, since so much of the koran is stolen from the Jewish sacred writings and the Christian ones. Remember Islam came after both. The point is though that Islam contradicts both since it perverts the truth. The koran even teaches to not befriend the people of the book (Jews and Christians)

Gagdad Bob said...


I don't know what to say except that Schuon has the gift of making Christians better Christians, Jews better Jews, Buddhists better Buddhists and Vedantins better Vedantins. He also happens to make Muslims better Muslims, which is undoubtedly why he is banned in Muslim countries. That's going too far.

Anyway, neither Schuon nor I have any desire whatsoever to convince or change anyone who is at peace with God.

ben usn (ret) said...

There is an abundance of evidence verifying God's existance.
AVI is correct to say that some ignore this evidence.
They're too busy trying to create their own.
Beauty is often overlooked.
In nature there are countless examples of beauty to see.
Every sunrise and sunset is a masterpiece, and it is unique every day.
I alway's think "How great thou art!" when I see the magnificence of God's creation, and it doesn't end with Earth. The entire cosmos is deluged with exquisite beauty.
Will (DJ)-
Thanks (I think).
I'll check it out.

will said...

Liquidella -

Don't wanna flog a dead horse here, but I think to be a true follower of Christ is ultimately contingent what you ARE, not what you believe.

A muslim might nominally subscribe to the Koran and yet, though his or her personal manifestation of the Light, be essentially a follower of Christ.

Indeed, I have met self-proclaimed Christians who very much believe in the Bible and who fail to manifest the Light - these folks, to my mind, are not followers of Christ, except in the most materialistic, mundane sense.

Christ, I think, didn't want you to follow Him like he was a local sports team, and in which all you have to do is show up at the games and wear the Jesus decals and jersey. He wanted you to BE like Him. That's how you follow Him.

Again, I really don't care what a person calls himself/herself - if they truly manifest the Light, they are followers of Christ.

LiquidLifeHacker said...

Bob, all I am trying to share with you is that this man's name has come up to me before...and it was done in a way that was explained to me how some muslims that practice sufism plan on using it in the future to mesh Islam into being accepted into the west in a sorta universal type of way.

Now I haven't read all of his writings on Christianity, since he was introduced to me via islamic writings and sources depending on which sect of muslim I was talking to or how he was considered new or traditionlist sufi, although if, Schuon was as kind to Christianity and Hinduism as he was to Islam, then I am sure they are friendly and positive writings. Seems Schuon loved all religions and could conform to them as he seemed to find God at the esoteric vertical of all.

I don't know if you have read THIS but may I ask if from Schuonianism that you got the term vertical and horizontal?

Another non-Islamic element in at least Schuon's own personal life was the application to marriage of a distinction unknown to the fiqh [codification of the Law] or the Sharia, that between the 'vertical,' which reaches to God, and the 'horizontal,' which is of earth, which is frequently made in other contexts by Schuonians.(96) In 1965, Schuon (first married in 1949) 'married' Barbara Perry (Hamidah), in a 'vertical' marriage. That this was a 'vertical' marriage is important: Mrs Perry was still married (in a 'horizontal' marriage) to her husband, Whithall Perry, at the time.(97)

LiquidLifeHacker said...

Don't wanna flog a dead horse here, but I think to be a true follower of Christ is ultimately contingent what you ARE, not what you believe.

Will...aren't you doing what you believe? Isn't that the thing...to do what you believe? So you are what you do? Correct?

Now your logic of a muslim following the koran is following Jesus how? Have you read the Koran? Do you know what the Koran teaches about Jesus? Are you under the impression that the Jesus in the Koran is the same Jesus of the bible?

will said...

>>Do you know what the Koran teaches about Jesus? Are you under the impression that the Jesus in the Koran is the same Jesus of the bible?<<

Yes. And no. I did say, Liquidinous, that a muslim who *nominally* believes in the Koran - that is, one who is not really bound by belief - can be a follower, that is, one who manifests Christ's example in becoming the Light.

>>Will...aren't you doing what you believe? Isn't that the thing...to do what you believe?<<

No, I don't always do what I believe. But more to the point I *am* not always what I believe. I keep at it but I often fail in being a follower of Christ. Belief is a handy blueprint for screwing in a light bulb and turning it on. A lot of people never get around to the light bulb - they just study, talk about, the blueprint.

Then there are some who glance at the blueprint and just turn on the light.

Liquid, consider this: was it possible for a person to really be a Christian before or even during Christ's lifetime on earth?
Granted, the Light was much harder to access before He manifested it on earth, but the Light has always been there, it is eternal. So I think it was possible. Even during His life time, before there were churches, before there was a NT, before there was an official Christianity, was it possible to be a follower of Christ? I think yes.

This is all I'm saying. There can come to be a transcendent spiritual state which passes beyond "belief" - which after all, consists of held mental images that do not always comport with what a person *is* - and into an experiential state, ie., the turning on of the light bulb.

Let me analogize it this way - I have a certain educational background, a certain cultural "refinement" - this I would equate with a state of belief. It is, to a certain extent, an image, an appearance, it says a certain amount about who and what I am but it goes just so far. It really doesn't say anything about the depth of my true character. Fact is, I have met my fair share of those who have far less educational background, far less cultural refinement than I have and who are better people than I. So it is, I think, with belief as it relates to real character. Belief as with educational refinement can lead to good things but ultimately it is quite different from depth of character.

LiquidLifeHacker said...

Will, I believe Jesus was God in the flesh so of course I believe God was here before Jesus came in the flesh. But the Christian word isn't what saves me...it was the work on the cross that saves me. There were people that saw Jesus do miracles and still didn't believe Will. Read John 12:37-41

Will, Jesus said, He who has seen Me has seen the Father and in John 14:6 Jesus says "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Now Will...in order to believe that ...first you have to believe that Jesus is telling you the truth or He is lying.

Those that believe what the koran teaches, believe that Jesus never was crucified and therefore never was the lamb of God and there was no work on the cross for our reconciliation with God. So you tell me how one can follow the koran and still follow the truth of the gospel? Can one believe both and still claim to know truth?

Dr Schnuggiputz said...

Bob, Just wanted to express a thanks for the post, the inspiration is deeply touching.

will said...

>>Those that believe what the koran teaches, believe that Jesus never was crucified and therefore never was the lamb of God and there was no work on the cross for our reconciliation with God. So you tell me how one can follow the koran and still follow the truth of the gospel? Can one believe both and still claim to know truth? <<

Liquidz, this is beside the point I was trying to make. But to your question, no, you can't believe in both and come out balanced.

I'm just trying to nudge you into seeing there's a difference between "belief" and "experience". I don't think you can at this time, but that's fine. I do ask that you acknowledge that Bob and I and others might know - that is, experience - an insight into Christianity and spiritual matters that you are not privy to at the present. And that you acknowledge that Bob and I and others might know the manner in which you have insight into Christianity and spiritual matters because we have already experienced it. I'm sorry if this sounds condescending but I can't say anything else. As Bob rightly points out, we have to acknowledge that there are others who possess spiritual insight that we do not, and that not to do so is a vanity. I acknowledge that there are those who possess such insight greater than mine. And to be honest, you are not one of them. I wish I could make that sound more polite, but I don't know how.

I do not for a second doubt your heartfelt commitment to your faith.

kahntheroad said...


Re: your noise problem, THIS is what you want.

I got them because I live above a horrible - horrible!!! - bar, filled with loud, obnoxious drunks with the worst taste in music- my floor will shake to the same nauseating Cher or Ricky Martin song over and over...ugh.

But thanks to these headphones, I can get under the covers, pop on some Leonard Cohen or a Kabalah mp3 and drift to sleep, oblivious to the night's 17th scream along to 'Low Rider.' They're also an essential defense on a moonbat infested public transit system.

These things block out everything and, as a bonus, you'll also hear music with a surreal clarity.

will said...

Kahn -

And try fllling the vaccuum with the soothing sounds of . . . neoncatmusic.com

This has been an editorial with a self-serving twist.

LiquidLifeHacker said...

Liquidz, this is beside the point I was trying to make. But to your question, no, you can't believe in both and come out balanced.

How is it beside the point? I know what kinda answer you gave me will, but basically it was more your point and avoiding mine. But thanks for answering mine finally..with " no, you can't believe in both and come out balanced."

As for " difference between "belief" and "experience" I definately know the difference and I wasn't even talking about mine but about Schuon and his in my sharing with Bob on how I was introduced to Schuon before seeing his name mentioned here since I don't even know if Bob knew about this side of him. And as for your comment on

Will--" I do ask that you acknowledge that Bob and I and others might know - that is, experience - an insight into Christianity and spiritual matters that you are not privy to at the present"

I do find that a bit humorous that you would even say such a thing since the only thing you got to go on that is what? Because I am not tuned into some secret knowledge of the sufi? As for you already experiencing what I have and do have Will...tell me what that is...since you seem to have secret knowledge of what I have experienced....do tell please!

will said...

>>Will...tell me what that is...since you seem to have secret knowledge of what I have experienced....do tell please! <<

It's not a secret, Liquid, it's obvious, plain as day. And as I've been striving to tell you, it's not a secret "knowledge" that's at issue. You're just missing the point and unable to know that you are missing it.

Here's the thing - Bob has indicated to you on various occasions, as I have I, that you are missing something in your perception of spiritual matters. Not once have I seen you question this by saying "OK, you say I am missing something? Is there really a chance that I am missing something?"

Instead you rush to defend the faith that you perceive to be under attack or at least being contradicted in some way. The irony is that there's no attack to defend against. I wish you could see this.

I do not like it when I sound condescending or that I'm attacking you personally, Liquid. I have no wish to do so. You are obviously a very decent person, bless you.

It is, however, my perception that Bob's spirituality constitutes a real Christianity that is more encompassing, more complete than yours. He'd tell you the same, only he's too polite to do so. I know you can't see this and it's fruitless for me to argue the point. It would be like a macrobiotic food expert and a French chef arguing about food - seemingly food would be the issue but they'd really be coming at it from two different planes of perception and they'd just pass one another in the night.

Speaking of which, I'm tired and it's time for deep zzzz's . . .

blessings to you, 'quids.

LiquidLifeHacker said...

Will, I think you should re-read this whole thread of comments, since this "personal attack" on me came from you after I threw a question at Bob about Schuon since I had heard his name through another source besides Christianity and was asking if it was the same person. I then went on to share a link that was written by a muslim that pretty much said the same thing that I heard from other sources to try to explain further to Bob what I had been told since I didn't know if Bob knew about it or not. Then Will, you go onto questioning me personally about Christ and the koran and then to claim that you have some Christian insight that I haven't grown into yet or that you have some secret knowledge that I haven't experienced as of yet or that you have already experienced, which the only thing I have shared here about my faith is my faith in Christ, I have never said where I was born or if my mother is Jewish or what country I lived in prior to the USA or even how at the age of 12 I got introduced to Christianity. So I don't know what you base my faith on Will or feel something is missing since I have only shared my faith in Christ. If that is lacking then you can take it up with him since anything I ever shared I posted scripture showing it was where Jesus had said the things. I hadn't just made them up.

You seem to have gotten a bit puffed up Will over me asking questions. To be honest I ask questions all the time and many of the times I get a yes along with a no answer.
Yes and No...
Yeah thats real revelation isn't it? What does Matthew 5:37 say Will?
37Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

Another thing Will....you should really try to stop putting words into Bob's mouth, since He has never once said or even hinted that something was missing in my spiritual matters. Bob has always been kind and patient even when I pushed for direct questions. Bob has never once tried to change my faith on Jesus but in fact encouraged it many times.
As for your comments towards my spiritual faith Will and what you think I am lacking my last words to you will be me sharing this and I don't mean it spiteful at all, since if you really knew me you would know I don't have a spiteful bone in me...

Romans 12:3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.

I really don't see me hanging out here anymore so this will be my last post here..and it's nothing to do with you Bob, as like I have said, you have always shown kindness and always been a gentle soul with every response and never once ignored my questions and you have never personally attacked my spirit or lack of my spirit or my intelligence or lack of my intelligence when you have taken the time to answer. I appreciated that very much and it shows alot of peace inside your own spirit to do so. I have enjoyed my time here and enjoyed reading your stuff. It very much felt like sitting in on a class and getting to participate.
Take care all
God bless you all

Thanks lisa and Jwm and kahn and others for sharing and being so kind.

dilys said...

Wow, the focus sure slid right out of that dim and pleasing sanctuary-orientation!

My own take on this subsequent development consists of two points:

Bob, cannily rhetorical and genuinely complex-perspectival communicator that he is, immunized himself from the literalists and from guilt by association with this: "while I do not agree with his every teaching..." No one lands a finger on TMOMIA[KKK]!

I am myself very grateful for the metaphysically-technical bibliography that he recaps in his work, especially for his dazzling writing, fearless politics, and psycho-developmental grasp; not to mention what I have experienced of his personal generosity, sincerity, charm, and learning. We must sort the potatoes for ourselves. Unfortunately, a rote belief system taught with enthusiasm but without any philosophical depths makes it very difficult for sincere adherents to sort anything. The ground rules are completely different, and do not lend themselves to the parsing of difficult "ex ecclesia" considerations which the Church cannot in integrity avoid and with which she does, often with vast charity and mercy, grapple.

On the other hand, the "esoteric," cherry-picking, altar-pilfering

I'm not a communicant or a churchgoer, just a talented metaphysician who understands being a Christian better than the mere pew sitters who -- actually tying their shoelaces on Sunday morning and popping off to a service of worship -- try with more or less effort to practice that religion

does seem kinda untenable, no matter how much good will is wrestled into the explanatory language. The difference between the actual spiritual phenomenon of high gnosis, and the core error of Gnosticism, is the intrinsic cruelty of the latter which does not offer full exoteric equality for all who seek.

So, I guess this little episode is my opportunity to indicate why I must work to keep my own comments light, since there are disagreements and disagreements, with kaleidoscopic triangulations, and inevitably disagreements at some levels spoil the fun and will not receive a real answer.

Sorting potatoes isn't always fun and convivial, but one trusts it makes for a satisfying evening meal in the best of company.

jwm said...

I'm going to go way out on a limb here. I'm sort of at 56T intro to religion (M-W-F)Rm 203 Dr. Godwin, and hoping I can make it to theology 101. But the question reminds me of the old Sunday school lesson of the Good Samaritan. As it was taught to me many years ago, the Samaritans were sort of equivalent to todays palestinians, that is, by and large they weren't a nice bunch of folks. But it was some passing Samaritan who helped the guy who got mugged, not the holy men of the temple who passed him by. Who was doing God's will?
As for salvation for non-Christians, Jesus says, "No man comes to the father except through me". (Here's the out on a limb part) I recall Dennis Prager discussing a similar issue quite a while back, and commenting on something Pope John Paul said. As I remember it the pope's position was that non-Christians may indeed achieve salvation, but regardless of their belief, the salvation would come through Christ. In other words- Christ has the last word on the matter, regardless of how any of us may see it. I may be off base here. Perhaps Sal would know.
Finally- please don't leave the discussion group. I, for one, value your input. We would be the poorer for your absence.


Mike Andreyakovich said...

JWM has it exactly right.

There's a thinly disguised allegory of it in CS Lewis' last Narnia book, THE LAST BATTLE.

The outcome of the argument, stripped of its allegory, is that those who are not Christian are let into heaven out of their deeds of good will. Every good deed, even those performed by Muslims and Hindus and Buddhists, is received by Christ as a gift; every evil deed, even those done in Christ's name, is rejected by Christ and accepted by You Know Who.

Kahntheroad said...

Liquid, speaking for myself, your perspective is especially welcome precisely because you're the only regular here who comes at this from a completely different angle from my own.

Please don't make a hasty decision based on one unpleasant exchange.

While we're dealing in blunt truth, here's are my thoughts (and I don't mean anything here as an attack on anyone, like I said, I value everyone here, and have no interest in personal attacks. Also, my words apply solely to my fellow commenters - not Bob).

Two years ago, on the day I received the seeds of opportunity that I'm still learning to sow, I was struck by a bumper sticker that said (approximately):

"Swallow your pride, forget your arrogance, remember your death"

Don't know where's its from, and at the time I only noted it because the idea of such a heavy-handed bumper sticker amused me.

But those words often bubble up at times when my ego tries to plunder the fruits of my spirit.

There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance, and as we seek and discover truth it is perhaps the most difficult line to tread. I've mostly stood back from the occasional squabbling here, but there are times when I think sincere people have been dismissed and driven away, but I either didn't see it as my place, or just didn't feel like getting involved. I set up my own discussion area instead, hoping some would come over there.

But I don't want to see one of the core members of this group driven off for not following the 'party line.' Once that happens this place (not the blog, but the comment section as a community of truth-seekers) is just another useless stretch of sprawl on the internet.

If we have learned anything here, it is that exploration of the vertical is a very personal process, and all of our 'knowledge' of it, no matter how rich our experience or strong our faith, is still merely an reflection of the unknown - and our interpretation of that reflection is always subject to the corruptible whims of the ego.

If this is to be a useful gathering of “men [and women] of ascending tendency” then we must constantly guard against the temptations of the ego - and perhaps come to an understanding such that we can bluntly correct each other, but on attitude, not differences of opinion. I am under the assumption that we are all here to learn and share thoughts and experiences. Sincere disagreements and different perspectives make it interesting. I come here first to read Bob's posts and consider them for myself, after that I look forward to intelligent discussion, shared experiences, questions, and hopefully civil disagreement. I don't come here to be part of a bickering Cult of Bob - I've been there and done that (I lurked around the cult of Ayn Rand in college - I was privy to a closed mentality that rots the mind...in fact, much of my insight into today's leftists is shaped by that experience).

I learn something from everyone who comes through here - even those who disagree. Personally, I wish we would all be a bit more open to civil disagreement (not trolls, mind you), but, hey, I don't run the place, and Bob shouldn't be expected to play kindergarten cop.

Anyway, if things do disintegrate here, anyone who's interested is welcome to engage in a civil discussion over at my place. As it's purpose is specifically for discussion, I will personally ensure that the tone remains focused on ideas.

90 said...

Apostacy means "the forsaking of the faith". In the Bible, it is written that Christ will not return to Earth until after an event called the "Great Apostacy" takes place (there are other things that will also take place as well). Apostacy isn't anything new, there were people whom Paul wrote about in the New Testament who "loved this present world" more then Christ. There are also some people who are said to have been "christian" and convert to other religions. This is in effect apostacy. Then there are those people who really want to believe all religions are really talking about the same God. Typically people who want to contend this have not read the Bible (for example) and the claim Christ made about Himself. They also haven't read the teachings of Mohammad (the so-called prophet) of Islam either, because had they done so, they would have soon discovered that the Jesus of the Bible and the Jesus of Islam simply isn't the same person. Then there are the people who somehow and I hate to say this, but niavely think they can find some commonality between religions and this is somehow the "truth concerning God". To do so one must deliberately ignore the glaring contradictions. This is in effect intellectual and spiritual suicide. It's also intellectually dishonest. This is why I, for myself, have to reject the teachings and writings of a person who would do this.

gumshoe1 said...

"I certainly do agree with Bob's assessment of keeping one's body in a vertical state of ascension. In fact, since I have been involved in discussions here, I have been creating my own workshop that will help people move with experiential integration."

Lisa -

i have a friend who
gets some benefits from his Alexander trainer/training.

it's likely related to Pilates somehow...if it's not something you're familiar with you may want to investigate.

the quote exerpt above is Alexander to a "T".

Abdul-Halim V. said...

interesting post.. I'm also interested in some of Schuon's ideas and have tried to blog about them from time to time but you obviously have been doing more "devouring" and internalizing of his perspective than I. I like Perennialism in the sense that it provides an interesting framework with which to look at religious differences. (the great religions share a great deal at an esoteric level. while their exoteric differences are basically just different packaging for different civilizations.)

Although I would definitely want to temper some of the aristocratic and anti-modern tendancies. I am certainly disturbed by how some Traditionalists seem to veer off into Fascism. Also I wonder about how to view the sex stuff that Schuon got into later in life.

Abdul-Halim V. said...

liquidlifehacker wrote: "The point is though that Islam contradicts both since it perverts the truth. The koran even teaches to not befriend the people of the book (Jews and Christians)"

I think even on an exoteric level the last comment is off base.

The most obvious proof is the fact that it is well established that jewish and christian women can marry muslim men. So if you can have this most intimate bond with non-Muslims, live with them, have them be a part of your family, raising your children it is really silly to think that Islam prohibits Muslims from being friends with non-Muslims.

The word for "friend" used in the often-misquoted passage from the Quran is more a kind of asymmetrical term meaning a kind of protector or ally. So the idea is that Muslims shouldn't put themselves in a certain kind of uneven dependant relationship.

In terms of the first bit, a big part of Schuon's perspective is the difference between exoteric and esoteric levels. So yes, if you take the religious statements at their most basic literal levels then the religions disagree. But if you look at the terms differently it might be possible to reconcile them. For example, even though they both have very different versions of what happened on Good Friday, Islam and Christianity both agree that in some sense death did not get the last word.