Sunday, June 25, 2006

"Worlds There Are, Without Suns"

It is impossible to begin a discussion of ontological evil without first describing the vertical structure of the cosmos. That was the purpose of yesterday’s post. For the non-religious, my account will undoubtedly be irrelevant or worse, while for the faithful it might seem “gnostic” or overly mystical. I can assure you that it is not, and that in the absence of a similar metaphysic you will not be able to simultaneously account for both evil and God’s goodness, and thus avoid theidiocy.

In order to understand ontological evil we must first draw a distinction between God as the supreme absolute and the degrees of being that result from the inner logic of God’s creative activity. As mentioned in yesterday’s post, we may think of creation as a “ray” of involution that descends from the absolute reality into degrees of increasing relativity below. What is unique about man is that we are situated roughly halfway between the absolute and relative domains, so that we partake of both. This is why human beings are able to know that they are composed of both spirit and matter. But it also helps to explain a lot of our perpetual conflict and trouble.

The soul is actually a point of divine light thrown off like a spark from the divine center. In reality, it is more like a line than a point, and, given our free will, it can either move closer or further away from its source. The visions of revelation are ways of describing in human terms the abstract spiritual reality in which the soul moves and has its being. Revelation is required for human beings, because it deals in archetypal truths that are buried deep within the heart-intellect, but which we cannot necessarily see with our natural reason. This is because as one descends through the degrees of being, the greater distance from God results in greater awareness of separateness and independence, as the universal “I” that undergirds our subjectivity becomes all of the individual “me’s” of relative existence.

There is natural, “structural” evil, and human evil, the latter of which is far worse. The structural evil is simply a consequence of the inevitable structure of vertical existence. Again, you can look at it as a “ray of creation” or in the Kabbalistic sense of God “withdrawing” in order to create a space for the separate existence of other sentient beings. Either way, there are going to be dark “worlds” where God is apparently absent.

Have you ever touched or been caught up in one of these worlds? If so, you might have felt the hair stick up on the back of your neck. In the novel Demian, Herman Hesse vividly describes the discovery of one of these dark worlds by the protagonist, Emil, as he finds himself losing his childhood innocence and being entangled in darkness. In general, innocence and light are opposed to darkness and a certain kind of forbidden knowledge, as exemplified in the Garden of Eden story. Humans, being what they are, are nevertheless going to choose the forbidden fruit. Frankly, I wouldn’t even trust someone who hadn’t given it a taste.

Just as there are regions in horizontal space where you wouldn’t want to live--Antarctica, Equatorial Africa, Berkeley--there are vertical regions that are unfit for human habitation. Nevertheless, just as there are humans who choose to live in Berkeley, there are rebellious humans who are drawn to these dark regions of the vertical. Again, on their own, these regions don’t pose much of a threat. But when a human being--or a group of human beings, an entire movement or culture--enters one, then we have trouble.

There are different realms of evil, each representing the privation and sometimes reversal, or counterfeit expression, of some divine quality. Thus, as Will mentioned a couple of days ago, the Soviet Union may have represented “the satanic inversion of the universal brotherhood concept that was (is) communism.” Likewise, one can find in contemporary Islam many similar “inversions” of religious truths. One can certainly see it in secular leftism, which is deeply parasitic on Judeo-Christian truth and virtue, almost like a man-made “shadow.”

If there are higher worlds--which there obviously are--then there are lower worlds. And if there are inhabitants of higher worlds--again, an obvious proposition--then there are inhabitants of lower ones. The difference is that the higher worlds are real, while the lower ones are contingent, reactionary, and ultimately “empty.” Since they are realms of privation, the humans that inhabit them have a sort of “empty fulness” that they must repeatedly recharge. Furthermore, since they live in a sort of existential “wrongness,” they must induct others into their world in order to extinguish their conscience (which remains annoyingly linked to God, like the “line of light” alluded to above).

Thus, evil movements tend to be inherently rebellious and expansionary. On the other hand, for most of its existence, the most good and decent nation that has ever existed was fully content to let the rest of the world go to hell in a handbasket. Indeed, we would still do so if it weren’t for the fact that the world wants to bring its hell to our shores. Thus, we have to travel to hell and fight demons.

Although the people of Kosland would undoubtedly regard our kind as “reactionary,” anyone with spiritual vision can see that the reverse is true, that they inhabit a false and empty world that is filled with anger, intoxication, inflation, and rebellion. If you are remotely sensitive--even if you are one of those on “the other side”--you may recognize that you actually receive your vital power not from within, but through an intoxicating “charge” you receive through the drama of your anger and rebellion. You actually enjoy "politics" and you like having enemies. It helps make up for the fact that, in your rebellion, you are punished by the closing of the cosmic circle, like a noose around your neck. Your struggle only tightens the noose, but at least there is a certain perverse thrill in the asphyxiation that ensues.

Evil has a role in the world, at least for the uncorrupted soul. For such an individual, evil is its own punishment, because it cuts you off from your transcendent source. Therefore, it is self-correcting in a way. But one can fall so far--one can be so intoxicated with rebellion--that one supports and nurtures an entire parallel world of evil that then becomes parasitic on man.

In other words, it is not just that human beings are afflicted with “mind parasites,” which every cosmonaught should know. Rather, these parasites can then go on to create the very worlds required to allow them to flourish. Such a pathological world is the Muslim Middle East, which perpetually recreates its own evil world, especially through the barbaric treatment of women and girls. The parasites also prevent them from seeing the problem. Like a mentally ill individual, they will externalize blame and look everywhere but at the source, which is, of course, within.

Obviously, “the West," much less tiny Israel, has nothing whatsoever to do with this spiritual sickness that pervades the Middle East. And yet, these parasites now have full control of the host, not just in individuals, but entire cultures that would rather murder and torture Americans and Jews than stop torturing their own women and children. This is how evil can become an end in itself, which it clearly is in the case of Islamaniacs. They live in a hell that they have created, and then blame us for it. But they also want to impose it on us. Very odd.

To a lesser degree, the "progressive left" represents another entirely contingent existence that is incapable of knowing spiritual happiness, so it escapes this fact by trying to feel the rush of righteous rebellion along one’s keel, so to speak. The moment one realizes that one actually enjoys the misery of this pathetic and illusionary existence, one has begun to wake up from the leftist dream. It is a painful realization though, for it means going from the question, “why is the world so messed up and miserable?,” to “why am I so messed up and miserable?” There are impersonal, ontological reasons why conservatives are so much happier than leftists.

Now, please don’t get me wrong--this doesn’t mean that “Republicans” are the saviors of the world. Far from it. What it means is that there are spiritual interstices in the murky world of politics where the light can enter and have an influence. One of them is not the illiberal left. Nor is it necessarily the “right,” at least not in its conventional sense. But at least the right has an “up,” whereas the left has only a “forward,” which is actually a backward and regressive flight from transcendence and its replacement with false, spiritually deluded, and ultimately destructive visions of utopia. Someone else always has to die or be killed to maintain these delusions.

As usual, this post has rambled into unanticipated areas. I’ll try to regroup and refocus tomorrow. If there’s any interest in this topic.

Worlds there are without suns, covered up with darkness. To these after death go the ignorant, slayers of the Self. --Isha Upanishad


Anonymous said...

I'm paying attention, enjoy checking in on your blog every few days, and can appreciate today's musing. It seems related to correspondence I had yesterday, and so I'll share.

A liberal friend of mine, sharing her experience of working in an impoverished country, conveyed the following reflection....

But, then again, who am I to say what needs to and should be done? Are
the stars I seek the same as others' stars? What if said others
can't dream beyond the stratosphere? Do I accept, grin, and bear it
knowing that there is more beyond this reach? Perhaps this is part of
the American imperialism that wasn't necessarily cultivated, but
exists inside me? Maybe it even resides within each and every American?

To which I responded....

My observation is that "imperialism" is simply an organized expression
of humans' natural disposition toward seeking control over our
circumstances/environment in order to minimize our fears relative to our
future. The more things we perceive ourselves to me "in control" of
outside of ourselves, including other people, the less likely (or so we
believe) we are to experience circumstances that bring us
hardships/pain. Accordingly, I see American imperialism as an
expression of the U.S. government doing exactly what the overhwhelming
majority of Americans want our government to do, gain sufficient control
of everything "outside" of us to ensure our protection and the
sustennace of our privileged "way of life". Then, when America's
government infringes upon the rights of others in its efforts to control
the world on its citizens' behalf, we tend to point fingers at the evil
people in the government rather that recognizing that their behavior is
but a reflection of the darkness in our own nature, that part of us that
WILL impose upon others to gain greater comfort and security for our
little selves.

It was interesting that in the same paragraph you mention American
imperialism, you mention "reaching for the stars" and I like how you
refer to the possibilility that the stars you seek may be different than
they are for others. For me, "the stars" is not a reference to space
exploration but is a metaphor for experiences that lie beyond the
co-called limitations of our human nature. It is a reference to
experiences of relationships that people (nations, organizations, etc)
can achieve together if they are all working from a source of pure
intentions that transcends our imperialist human natures. When I
imagine myself "seeking the stars", perhaps gazing into a starlit sky,
there is a piece of me that is remembering that I come from somewhere,
some place of being, that is different from what I commonly experience
alone and in relationship to others here. Having said this, I do not
believe I will die and return to this other place by virtue or my
religious convictions or that I will find it at the other end of a space
shuttle ride. To the contrary, my sense is that our great opportunity
here is to involve God in our beings to the extent necessary to create
the life and relationships that will bring greater experiences of "the
stars" here.

R. Sherman said...

Stay the course. Those of us in the back are trying to keep up.


Michael said...

That was a good post. A good analysis, a good warning, and even carrying a kind of hope.

The only thing I disagreed with is the ontological status of evil. I like Augustine on this (and you alluded to it later), that the ontology of evil is a kind of negative, parasitical one. Even its reality, so far as it can be called real, is a borrowed reality.

It's a paradox. Evil is real. But it is only real because there is a more real (if I can say that) good that it uses to give itself substance.

Anyway, you do have an interesting take on things. It's nice to be able to visit a site that goes deeper than the appearance of things, but also uses that to explain the appearance.

will said...

>>What is unique about man is that we are situated roughly halfway between the absolute and relative domains, so that we partake of both?<<

The realm of matter, which limits our divine creative imagination, may have even saved us from falling into a far greater, perhaps completely irredeemable evil when we did, in fact, fall from grace. In any event, while we are in the realm of matter, we are granted a choice between good and evil. After we pass from material confines, however, we might no long have that choice -- we may be literally magnetized to either Light or the realms where Light is absent.

HV said...

Your current postings, especially the one in which you mentioned the people raised within the Soviet system, reminded me of an incident a number of years ago. I was on a business trip to Chicago, and we had been warned to watch our laptop computers closely, since people were stealing laptops at airports to gain access to company secrets. I was checking in in the large and busy lobby of a Chicago hotel,when I turned around and saw the most evil-looking person I have ever seen in my life. I experienced a tinge of fear just seeing him. My impression was that he was an Arab, perhaps North African. He was standing at some distance from the check-in counter observing the crowd. I instinctively picked up my computer bag, which had been sitting on the floor. When I turned around again, the man had disappeared, probably because he noticed I was eyeing him suspiciously. A few minutes later, there was a lot of commotion in the lobby as police appeared. A Dutch man was complaining to them that his laptop had been stolen. I gave the police my description of the man I had seen, and they confirmed it fit the description of a known thief.

What was interesting to me about this incident was that the man's way of life had so obviously taken over his physical appearance. The inner man had somehow transformed the outward, physical appearance.

Anonymous said...

There is a great deal of interest, at least on my part. Hope you do continue this topic.

Anonymous said...

these comments remind me of the most evil person I have ever encountered. He was, not surprisingly, a concrete finisher.

Gagdad Bob said...

That obviously cemented his end.

geckofeeder said...

Of course, even though there doesn't appear to be any interest, doesn't mean there isn't. There is so much to absorb in your writing, Soul Doc, and I do think that avoiding theidioc articulates my own particular goal for today For those of us to whom it only makes sense to approach and embrace life from a metaphysical point of view, we're here and sure glad you are.

Connecticut Yankee said...

The most evil person Anonymous ever encountered is proof that evil can descend from the abstract level into the concrete. (Bob is one pun-dit who can't complain about bad puns from his commenters).

Dan Spomer said...

Bob, that was a very healing post. Thank you. Once again.

jwm said...

I read this post this morning after another night of uneasy sleep and disquieting dreams. The wife was having the Buddhist group over for a meeting in the den, so I went for the six mile walk. Stuff was just bugging me. I thought of my own disastrous experiences with the 'dark side' and those who worship rebellion. Stuff leaves scars. Sometimes it comes around to remind me. I got back home, re-read the post and then went over to LGF. The story about the kidnapped Israeli soldier has had me sick at my gut all day. Sometimes I think I'd would be better off if I stayed away from LGF. It just gets too scary.
But we just got back from Coldstone and Starbucks. My wife got the coffee, and I waited in the slow moving line for ice cream. It was so quintessentially Southern California. In line are old, young, white, black, latino, filipino, asian, fat, thin, homely, pretty, tattooed, old hippies, and crew-cuts. I swear you'd have thought it was being staged for a commercial. The kids working there are young and good looking; they're busting their butts but they're laughing and having a good time. I got coffee ice cream in a waffle bowl. We sat on the patio. People were having fast-food Chinese, and pizza. People were eating ice cream and drinking coffee, and just sitting there with their friends and their kids, BS'ing and just being alive and enjoying it. The guy who trains seeing eye dogs showed up with his chocolate Lab, and a new animal wearing the harness and the yellow training coat. The new dog looked all proud.
Suddenly the question of Evil seemed so remote- like something you read about in a book or see in a movie. We are so richly blessed. Kinda' put a lump in my throat.


ben usn (ret) said...

Outstanding post, Bob!
Just as the ascent to our Creator has degrees or levels,
so does the descent toward ultimate evil.
Your post reminds me of the Scripture;
the unforgivable sin is sinning against the Spirit.
To my knowledge, that is when a human cuts the cord of his concience to God.
Burning the bridge to ascent, into such a sociopathic malignant narcissism that he effectually becomes his own God, embracing evil as the means and the end.
If one chooses that irrevocable choice, he is full of emptiness, and devours all that he can to keep the emptiness full.
That is evil incarnate, and it doesn't matter if the one who chooses that path believes in satan and demons, because the believe in him.
Like you said Bob, entire groups, tribes, governments and cultures are on the descent, and their purpose, their desire, is to rape, humiliate, torture and destroy all that is good, true and noble.
The present war we are in is both physical and spiritual, and civilization hangs in the balance.
The prize for the good is life, and the prize for the evil is death.

Connecticut Yankee said...

Bob-- jwm's and ben usn's last posts reminded me of Malachi Martin's book Hostage to the Devil, for some reason. I hope you will take up the topic of demonic possession some time.

jwm-- I've been having some weird and disturbing dreams too. And painful reactions to scary news stories, only in my case it was a news item from Europe about thieves who steal pet cats and dogs from people's back yards and skin them alive for their fur. (That's not to make light of the Israeli soldier's plight, only to say that there seem to be more and more frightening items in the news, whether it is the wanton slaughter of human beings or cruelty toward animals).
Sometimes I feel as if the whole world has turned into the Devil's playground, but then I go for a walk in the park about two blocks from my house and count my blessings. There is a small stream about a quarter-mile from the park entrance, with a small wooden footbridge over it. A great place to look down into the water and meditate or say a quiet prayer under one's breath. Almost always there's someone walking a dog nearby or jogging, and the very ordinariness of it--just like your ice cream place-- is a calming reminder that God hasn't gone AWOL.

PSGInfinity said...

Bob, your blog is wonderful. Thank you, so much, for your hospitality and insight.

I tend to sleep very deeply, and rarely remember my dreams. This might be a good thing, because when awake, I get the impression we're headed into a nightmare...

Anonymous said...


I managed to see a bollywood movie called Banaras. I think you would love it.
I also learnt that the writer of the movie has a blog and that too is wonderful.

I do recomment you have a look.

Anonymous said...

Sorry you may go to