Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Reincarnation, Resurrection Bodies, and Vertical Heredity

Yesterday we were discussing how myth and poetry speak to us from across the void, revealing secrets from the dark side of consciousness. As I have mentioned before, in order to talk about spirit at all, language must be employed in a very special manner. On the one hand, language was evolved in order to deal with the mundane problems of a typical day in the archaic environment of 100,000 years ago: finding food and shelter, coping with danger, and impressing women.

That is the horizontal aspect of language. It is mostly reducible to a purely Darwinian explanation. But there is a very mysterious vertical aspect to language that cannot be so reduced, unless one wishes to be absurd. Most modern people don't mind being absurd, so long as they can imagine that they understand. Better to be absurd than to deal with the anxiety of not knowing.

It has been remarked that poets are metaphysicians in the raw, mediators between the essence of being and the miracle of knowing. In its sacred or mythological aspect, language is the nexus between the nighttime and daytime realms. It imparts a kind of knowing, but one must not confuse this knowing with profane knowing of the linear and unambigious variety. Just like everyday language, it reveals and discloses an "object." But it is not a three-dimensional object. Rather, it is a hyperdimensional object.

Or you may think of mundane language as dealing with horizontal recollection, while the type of language I am taking about involves vertical recollection, or anamnesis.

Whereas in the daytime there is more or less a one-to-one relationship between word and object (or concept), night language is far richer and polysemic, or holographic: a single word can be a vector through which multiple meanings of various levels pass, depending on one's point of view. One may crystalize a particular interpretation, but a single interpretation cannot exhaust the meaning. This is especially true of the special language called authentic scripture.

And yet, it is possible even for scripture to become so saturated with a particular meaning that it loses its capacity to shock, to vault us out of our habitual way of knowing the world. It can be reduced to a mere "daytime" story.

I think, for example, of the account of Jesus' resurrection. Most of us have heard about this story since we were children, to such an extent that when we think of it we probably conjure up a mental image of it. Furthermore, upon doing so, most of us probably say to ourselves, "impossible."

And yet, if you consider some of the details that we tend to overlook, the story is more odd than we realize. For example, it is emphasized--in particular, in Mark, Luke and John--that the risen Jesus is not recognized by those who were most familiar with him--who had just been with him a few days before. Some mistake him for the gardener, others actually take a walk with him and discuss recent news of the day, including the bad news about Jesus.

How bizarre is this? Imagine just losing a loved one. You are in a state of grief and shock. You look out the window, and there is your recently departed loved one, mowing the lawn. But you don't recognize them.

Obviously, the story was told in this particular way for a reason. The writers of the gospels could have just said that Jesus rose from the dead and everyone recognized him immediately. But they specifically emphasized that he wasn't recognized. Clearly, he must have looked different. The "resurrection body," whatever it is, must look different than the physical body.

What are we, anyway? Whatever else we are, we are energy, energy in different forms and patterns. Ah, but what is energy? If anyone gives you a "daytime" answer to that question, know that they are lying--mostly to themselves.

I have a conscious thought: I am going to make a fist. I do so. No one can tell you how I did so--how consciousness--whatever that is--exerts an effect on matter in this way.

On the one hand, we can look at the world horizontally and say that matter gave rise to life or that brains give rise to thought. However, such a view generates a multitude of insoluble paradoxes that can only be resolved if we supplement it with the vertical, top-down view, and say that the brain does not create consciousness, but rather, that the brain exists as a result of conscious will.

In order to understand our situation, you must imagine a cross with a horizontal and a vertical arrow. We live at the point of their intersection. The horizontal line has to do with heredity, with Darwinian evolution, with the transmission of culture, etc. If this were all we are, we would be no different than other animals. We would not live in a cognitive space of spiritual freedom, routinely exerting a top-down influence on our horizontal selves. We would not possess that inexplicable capacity called "free will."

But not everyone seems to have the same degree of top-down influence over themselves--of free will. In fact, it is a capacity that varies quite widely.

According to a friend who wishes to remain anonymous, "there are strong--i.e., creative--souls, and there are weak--i.e., imitative--souls. The stronger a soul is, the greater the independence from the semi-hypnotic influence of the model presented by the preceding generations of family chosen for the soul's incarnation."

As such, "a strong soul shows in his or her psycho-physical personality fewer features traceable from the parents, and is in general less representative of family, people and race than of itself; he or she is more an individual than a type. In contrast, a weak soul becomes an individual who seems to be only a pure and simple copy of the parents.... [T]here are some cases where heredity is reduced to a minimum and other cases where it manifests itself as almost all-powerful."

Thus, it seems as if there are two kinds of heredity operating in us: a "horizontal heredity" and a "vertical heredity" that seems to shape us from "above" rather than "behind." In my view, when we talk about "reincarnation," we are simply acknowledging the reality of vertical heredity. It is a way of talking about something real yet mysterious--about that part of ourselves that is immaculately conceived and born out of the voidgin.

Are we really the product of two heredities? I don't know about you, but genes or no genes, I have no idea how I dropped into my particular family. I am amazingly incompatible with most of my family members--not necessarily to the point of open conflict (though there is that with one particularly polarized member who despises me), but mostly indifference and mutual incomprehension. I was born with very specific, not to say unusual, inclinations that I can find in none of my relatives, either living or dead. But I certainly see them in non-blood relations with whom I share vertical DNA.

Interestingly, I have kept one of the birth announcements that were sent out upon my touchdown here in 4D. It has a drawing of a little space suit with a hole cut out in the helmet. There you see my face beaming through. I have a bottle in my right hand, an umbrella in the left. On top of my head is a little propeller, which is funny, because I have a little propeller on top of my head right now. The caption reads "From Out of This World."

Yes, dropped straight from the vertical into a very horizontal family. And yet, looked at from another angle, I can see how being raised in this particular family was perfect for the accomplishment of my, er, mission.

What? Wrap it up? I don't think I can do that. We'll have to continue with this resurrection-reincarnation-vertical heredity business tomorrow.


Dropped into a strange family from out of this world? Quite possibly. Thus far his temperament is quite specific and different than his horizontal parents. We will do our best to facilitate his mission and to decipher the signs he is throwin' down to his vertical homies. I think this one means, "All this kooky-talk is embarassing me. I wish my dad would zip it once in awhile."


Will said...

Bob -

Yes, I'm certain that a certain amount of alienation (not necessarily animus-inspired) from one's birth family is natural for a serious quester. That reinforces the concept of what family really means in the highest sense. Commonality in Spirit is, ultimately, the foundation of real family. To lose one is to find the other.

Also, the concept of breaking away from family, from the blood ties which tribalistically bind one to the earth/horizontal, sheds light on that enigmatic saying of Jesus, "To find the Kingdom of Heaven, one must first hate one's mother and father".

Gagdad Bob said...

Boy howdy, amen, brother!

Anonymous said...

Speaking of "out of this world", I think that you must have grown up watching "The Outer Limits": "Do not adjust your set! We control the horizontal! We control the vertical!"

Petey said...

Watching The Inner Limits, actually.

June said...

I have often said that if I had had a choice, I would not have chosen to be here in this time, this place, this life, this way. I would not be surprised, however, to learn that just the opposite is true--that I actually chose everything about my existence before it occurred as that which enable me or at least encourage me to accomplish what I needed to accomplish. When you described your preparations for raising your son, I got a vague sense that it might not surprise youeither. But what do you really think? Assigned, chosen or none of the above?

jwm said...

This post lit up my switchboard. Forgive the stream of consciouness writing- I'm trying to make my fingers keep up with my head.
(Honest, I'm not trying to be the tfk of One Cosmos)lgf joke

If God is the great I AM, and we are created in God's image are we then the microcosm- the small i am? In us there is an am in search of an i, or is it an i in search of an am? Or does our am encompass many i's in its journey?
If the soul, the essence of us, is eternal, then does the am precede the i?
Or are both am and i created at conception? Is the body then, a vessel for the am like the flower is a vessel for the seed which will survive it?

The common, and simplistic understanding of reincarnation/karma goes something like: What you sow in this life you will reap in another. If you're you're bad to people now, then in your next life people will be bad to you.

So if you see someone who is suffering in this life it's probably because they caused suffering in their last life.

My problem with this view of reincarnation is continuity. The person suffering now, does not know of whatever past life misdeed caused the suffering. It woulld seem to work only if there were some continuity between lives- that is- if the soul came to a reckoning on the other side, and then chose to incarnate, knowing full well what incarnation would entail. I guess we'll all find out.

An odd thing has been happening with me as of late. Certain notions are taking the form, not of thoughts, but of wholistic images that come on feeling more like the memory of a dream than an idea. This happened during my recent reading of the gospels, particularly with the story of the resurrection.
I just have that picture of (I think it was Matthew and company) walking along the road, and then...

...you didn't know exactly when he joined you but he's at your side, just half a pace behind and you see him out of the corner of you eye and you can't remember how the conversation started but you were caught up in the rhythm of walking and talking and the grief was forgotten for just a moment and then you turn, and WAIT A MINUTE! THAT WAS...

I think I'll sign off at this point. Trying to get all that's going on now would be like trying to stuff ten pounds of fertilizer into a five pound bag. Messy.


richard diamond said...

this is the first time I've ever seen a photograph of the sound of one hand clapping.Petey is obviously spending time with your son.

Sal said...

jwm - good job; that wasn't tlk at all. ;)

The interesting thing about the post-resurrection appearances stories are the similarities: the initial non-recognition, then the trigger that spurs recognition - "Mary", the breaking of the bread at Emmaus* and so on.

It would seem that the Resurrected Jesus is both "like", or they couldn't recognize him at all and "unlike", in that He seems to be able to choose if people can recognize Him or not. Or, even though it is a real body, possibly only visible to those who "knew" Him, ie recognized His messiahship, in life.

*that's in Luke, btw.

Anonymous said...

Much of my reading comes from reading "strands" of thoughts from other books. Your blog and book have been valuable sources for some months now.
You obviously love your son very much.Have you ever read "Everyday Blessings"?

Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting by Jon Kabat-Zinn and Myla Kabat-Zinn (Paperback - May 1, 1998)

I have read this book five times, probably because it is easy for me to get off course on the most important area of my life. Perhaps you have already covered this prior to my reading your postings.
If so, others have also missed it.

Kahntheroad said...


If there is reincarnation, it's a striving towards unity, a process to facilitate communication between our different natures; so we'd have to listen for the clues from our 'soul.' The situations would be set up such that we can, guided by our conscience - i.e. our soul - make choices that bring us closer to 'God.'

The person suffering can only come to know God through his suffering. I think specific knowledge of what was done in a previous life would only distract from the ultimate purpose.

I've got to run, but here's a quote I once came across flipping through a High Holidays prayer book in Temple (I happened to go back to it for a posting on that wonderful new group: Cosmic Launch(http://groups.yahoo.com/group/cosmiclaunch/):

"We choose freely and our decided upon future self looks down upon us in judgment, inspiration and guidance. We are not always free in our choices, but once we have the courage to decide to make the turn towards our destiny we shall have with us all of the power and strength of goodness."

Lisa said...

Here is a question that may sound offensive to some and I do not mean any disrespect but I keep getting stuck at it. I am having problems with a singular messianic figure. All humans are created in God's image and thus have a part of God in each of us. The many from the One. Bob has also wrote about the holes in a lamp shade coming from one light. Don't we all have an obligation to ascend both the horizontal and vertical peaks to create a true messianic age? By focusing on one figure such as Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Joseph Pilates ;0), etc...we are neglecting our own Godly development. Of course they are all great teachers, prophets, or whatever one wishes to call them. It just seems to me that it takes some people further away from knowing God and personal development.

ben usn (ret) said...

There is seeking...
and there is SEEKING.
We have the freedom to choose either/ or.
We choose what we seek, and how we seek.
The Ultimate is what I seek; Ultimate Truth, Love, Joy, Peace, Wisdom.
I have found the Ultimate, but I must keep on seeking to understand, and clarify who I Am is.
How do I do this?
Through pain (horizontal and verticle); the pain of change, humbleness, a listening and receptive heart through prayer and meditation.
The more I discover who I Am is, the more I discover who I am.
It's about fulfilling, and growing.
He created man to love and be loved by, but man must freely choose to do and accept this.
Asking for wisdom... (be careful what you ask for).
Growing hurts, but it is worth it.
Keep that sense of humor, and let it flow.
Jesus has the highest sense of humor, but most people don't get it. They haven't grown enough to understand it.
Hyperdimensional indeed, Bob!
What an exciting journey!
Thank you for sharing your wisdom, and I greatly appreciate the input of my fellow commentators, and your warm reception. :^)

jwm said...

ben usn (ret):

be careful what you ask for...

Never pray for humility.



Gagdad Bob said...


It does no good to say "I am brahman" until you first recognize "I am not brahman."

We are born with the image of God, but the image is not the likeness. Spiritual work has to do with realizing the potential of the image--which is only an image--and making it into the likeness.

The Divine chooses certain human vessels to carry its message and to be vehicles of grace. Focussing on them does not neglect your own spiritual development. Rather, it is a gateway to it. Even if you think of the guru as the Self, the Self must first be recognized outside. Otherwise, you are inviting narcissism and spiritual inflation.

Sal said...

Lisa, dear

I think OC is an "offense-free zone".

We touched on this peripherally over the weekend while you were gone. See the comments on the Raccoon post.

I had a question about spiritually-oriented publications of an ecumenical nature (eg. Parabola) rarely mentioning Jesus when discussing or quoting from Christian sources, except as a kind of guru. There were several good answers.

I gues what I'm trying to say is: to be honest about the search, let religious traditions be what they are. Once you get a handle on them, then you can decide what to do about them.
Those folks who want Christianity to 86 the saviour-talk are missing the drift - that's what Chrisitanity *does*. Ditto for the defining points of any other tradition. You can accept them or reject them at will, but let them be what they are.

(Which is why some of us aren't expecting Bob and friends to hugely change our minds/hearts/spirits - we already have a strong religious foundation - but we very much enjoy the slant he gives things and appreciate his letting us hang out here.)

I have some thoughts on the topic, but I've been chatty enough for one day...

Petey said...

It is true what Sal says. We do not make the rules of the cosmos. We just enforce them.

Lisa said...

Perhaps I am not explaining myself in words that well. I just don't understand why some Self's are seen as more special or divine by the outside. In the extreme, it becomes like a form of idolatry. One person or idea does not have to be the only guru or teacher allowed in the room! Of course, there is always going to be a paradoxical quality to gaining knowledge and knowing God. There is always going to be someone smarter, prettier, braver, stronger, wittier, etc. than ones self. The point when you stop meeting and surrounding yourself with those kind of people is when you are inviting narcissism and spiritual inflation. I am not trying to be argumentative but it may come off that way, so I do apologize.

I have only gotten to page 50 in your book, hopefully I will understand more as I read. This is a book that I have to take in small doses so that I can digest it! I usually devour a book in a day or two. Thanks for providing a hearty meal!

Gagdad Bob said...


The only way to know beyond doubt is to form a relationship with one of the friendly nonlocal operators who are always standing by. I made only middling progress until doing so. Icons or darshan photos are very helpful. As I type, I am actually staring in the faces of four of them. Or I should say they are staring at me, keeping me reasonably in line.

LiquidLifeHacker said...

Sal---Those folks who want Christianity to 86 the saviour-talk are missing the drift - that's what Chrisitanity *does*.

Sal, how is believing the gospels missing the point on a savior?

Kahntheroad said...

Bob - perhaps it'll have to wait for a future post - but I'd love to see you expand on this:

"The only way to know beyond doubt is to form a relationship with one of the friendly nonlocal operators who are always standing by. I made only middling progress until doing so."

There is an interesting chapter in Napoleon Hill's 'Think and Grow Rich' in which he discusses forming a 'mastermind group' of historical figures (Lincoln, Edison, etc.), where he would visualize a nightly meeting with them and 'consult' them on his daily affairs.

jwm said...

Feel like your out in ben usn's ocean at night? Sometimes I do.
Limitless vastness on all sides- Numberless stars above- all the directions seem the same- all the stars look alike- how do you navigate? Some are saying follow this star, others say follow that- it seems like no matter which way you go you are following all the stars or some star, or none.
Can you believe the ones who say, follow me? Or do you just set out on your own. Everyone drowns before they get there anyway. Does any of this really matter at all? It would almost be nice to declare that it doesn't, and forget this business entirely. But something won't let you.
If it doesn't matter then why is it under my skin like some sort of spiritual itching powder?


Lisa said...

I appreciate everyone's comments. I love learning about different religions and customs. I am just a bit unsure of how I want to apply them to my life. I must say that this forum is a much cheaper way of continuing my education than paying thousands for some outdated, liberal, and ultimately goofy masters program at any prestigious university in this country!

LiquidLifeHacker said...

Ha Ha Lisa, most the "prestigous" ones are liberal! You know, I think anyone can get a broad education online today. I remember this one old guy told me that he got his education in the public library....and he was like a jack of all trades on trivia. He spent many an hour in there reading. We are so lucky to have all this information at our fingertips today! I love living in this generation!

chuck said...

Lisa- the other way may be more expensive but it looks better on your resume'..

Lisa said...

A Harvard Law degree from those professors ain't lookin' too prestigious these days! ha ha ! Neither is a Yale/Taliban degree...My resume looks great without it. I actually went to work for some prestigious real-life companies!

Sal said...

I think you may have misunderstood me.
I'm talking about those who want to look at Christianity only or primarily as a set of moral guidelines. Who engage in cherry-picking the parts that appeal. Who tend to bypass that whole "Son of God" thing in favor of "just a prophet".
And people can certainly do all that - but they should recognize and admit that's what they're doing.
But I'm guessing you wouldn't consider those above as believing in the gospels.
Sorry for not being clearer!

Michael Andreyakovich said...

Of course, those who see the great spiritual teachers as "just teachers" ignore a deeper truth about them: that in order for them to say what they said, they had to be either batshit crazy, or knowingly deceitful - or else they really were messengers from God, like they said they were. Lord, liar, or lunatic, as C.S. Lewis once said - you can only pick one.

Jenny said...

Lisa, when I first started out on my spiritual quest I was terrified of doing the wrong thing and screwing it all up and therefore almost paralyzed into inaction for fear of going off in the wrong direction. But I had this overwhelming feeling that finding the truth was the most important thing I needed to do. I had to calm my spirit by repeating to myself quite often "first, do no harm." I figured that was at least a pretty safe bet. And the thought "seek and ye shall find, knock and the door shall be opened," popped into my mind frequently.

And what I have found to be the absolute truth is seek and ye shall find, knock and the door shall be opened. It's a gradual, imperceptible transformation at first. But God will put the right information in your path - and I can also say with the utmost certainty that Jesus knew what He was talking about and you can rely on His words.

LiquidLifeHacker said...

Thanks for clarifying that Sal, because 'Christianity' doesn't see Jesus "only" as a prophet. I now know what you meant on "some folks" which includes those that don't claim to be Christians also such as Islam. The issue for Christianity was clarified for Christians many times, whether they want to claim it or not..a couple of examples is John 6:69 and John 8:24

I do remember when you asked the question some time back about how some things you read on spiritual things rarely mentioned Jesus when discussing or quoting from Christian sources, except as a kind of guru.' and I should have pointed out then that there is no doubt that some will 'use' Jesus or parts of his work to make points to disprove that He is who He said He was and yes, I have witnessed what you were referring to also as some do seem to avoid the truths which Jesus himself said about himself, I think it's still part of a type of denial in their pwm seeking, but I suppose one has to look at the claims that Jesus made and then have faith in believing indeed that what He said about Himself was the truth and were His apostles witnessing the truth, that would be a matter of faith though and for each individual that is seeking to make that choice, no one can push that acceptance into anyone's heart but the spirit, so as I read further on into your words, I must have been connecting that same train of thought into your next post of when you had added, "Those folks who want Christianity to 86 the saviour-talk are missing the drift - that's what Chrisitanity *does*. Ditto for the defining points of any other tradition. You can accept them or reject them at will, but let them be what they are."

I do see where you said "folks" but I suppose without clarification, and I am guilty of not clarifying myself Sal, because it wasn't that part I was referring to, it was the next part, I was reading on further as if you might be generalizing that is what "Christianity does" as if it was some type of tradition for Christianity as a whole, and since Christianity believes the claims of Jesus, it is much more than any tradition. (meaning it is faith built on Jesus's own words) For one example John 4:25-26

Again, thanks Sal so much for clearing up what ya meant. I appreciate you taking the time which you took to explain it to me.