Monday, August 21, 2006

Adultery is Adolescentry

Let the truth of Brahman be taught only to those who are devoted to him, and who are pure in heart. --Mundaka Upanishad

“You shall not commit adultery.” Like the other commandments, this one has an outward, exoteric meaning as well as an inner, esoteric one. After all, adultery is related to adulterate, which means to corrupt, debase, or make impure by the addition of a foreign or inferior substance. In this case, we are talking specifically about the purity of the soul, and avoiding activities that corrupt it.

This commandment goes directly to the heart of the mysterious bond between body and soul, that which distinguishes us from the beasts. According to Valentin Tomberg, “The power of mutual love unites soul and body. Life, which consists of the union of soul and body, is the marriage of soul and body. For this reason the commandment: ‘You shall not commit adultery’ follows from the commandment: ‘You shall not murder.’ For adultery is essentially a form of killing--of separating soul and body, whose union is the archetype of marriage.”

Jewish tradition regards the bond between Israel and YHVH as a marriage covenant; likewise the covenant between Christ and the church, or the mystical union between the soul and Jesus, or Shiva and Shakti.

Soul and body form a harmonious union, and the separation of the two in any sphere of activity is the equivalent of murder, since the higher life is not possible without their union. When we talk about the death culture, we are really talking about the soulless culture, because so much of our culture has become empty and soulless.

In adhering to the soul in all we do, we remain “faithful” to the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. On the contrary, if we transfer our loyalty to that which corrupts us, we will soon discover that it clings to us as much as we adhere it it. The death culture begets death.

As we have mentioned before, depth is a dimension of soul, so that achieving depth is a pathway toward recognition of the soul’s existence. In the absence of soul, the world has no depth--everything is of equal importance, or else simply has the importance our feelings attach to it.

This is why the postmodern strategy of deconstruction is not just bad philosophy. Rather it is murder, specifically, soul murder. And this is why, to paraphrase Richard Weaver, all attacks on religion inevitably result in attacks on the mind itself. Deconstruction is “intellectual crack,” as someone once put it.

In fact, any kind of radical skepticism represents nothing more than an esoterism of stupidity: the lower mind’s ability to doubt anything is elevated to the central truth of our existence. It is the worst kind of soul betrayal, because it operates under cover of a counterfeit pursuit of truth.

Perhaps it should be emphasized that this commandment does not imply some sort of dry, austere, or anti-pleasure approach to life. Quite the opposite. In fact, in Jewish tradition, it is said that the first thing God will ask upon your death is why you didn't partake of all the permitted pleasures He so generously bestowed for your enjoyment.

The point is that existence is embodied, but not only embodied. There are two false paths; one is the descending path into hedonism, distraction, and other various soulless activities. But the other false path is the ascending one: going up the sacred mountain with the soul, but leaving the body behind.

This is a persistent message of both Judaism and Christianity. Both, in different ways, stress the embodied nature of existence, and the problem of how to sanctify our lives by remembering the soul in everything we do.

But clearly, if one stands back and looks at the historical situation from the widest possible vantage point, we can see a problem. Because the Judeo-Christian tradition regards the world as real and worthy of our attention, it can lead to an exteriorizing tendency that ends up severing soul and body.

On the other hand, if we look at the philosophies of the east, they have tended to regard the world as illusory, or as maya, unworthy of being taken seriously. Historically they have made the opposite mistake of becoming too interior: “Brahman alone is real.” Thus, Buddhism and Hinduism have a bit of an interiority complex.

I do believe that the evolutionary task of our age is to bring these two extremes back together--to fully reconcile soul and body and achieve the Life Divine in a monkey body. In truth, it is merely a matter of emphasis, for there is no question that this is at the heart of the uncorrupted Christian message.

Likewise, although Sri Aurobindo is responsible for correcting Vedanta’s overemphasis on otherworldly concerns, he too was simply going back to the original message of the Upanishads: “To darkness are they doomed who devote themselves only to life in the world, and to a greater darkness they who devote themselves only to meditation,” says the Isha Upanishad. Rather, “Those who combine action and meditation cross the sea of death through action and enter immortality,” that is, through the sacred union of soul and body, spirit and matter, male and female, mamamaya and papurusha (for those who know their punskrit).

I once had a psychotic patient who took one look at my name--Godwin--and blurted out, “Godwin--is that like a combination of God and Darwin?” I thought about it for a moment and knew that he was right, for while he might have been crazy, he wasn't stupid. Because the whole point of my philosophy is to marry Adam and Evolution in such a way that they live happily ever after, both aspiring to the same nonlocal goal 'til death do us part. Like the song says, "We've only just begun..."


will said...

>>I do believe that the evolutionary task of our age is to bring these two extremes back together--to fully reconcile soul and body and achieve the Life Divine in a monkey body<<

Of oourse, the literal monkey body is physical only. The human body seems to have "higher centers" along with its physical aspect, which connotes "bodies", plural. The human body seems specifically designed to channel physical, instinctual energies "upward" into divine sublimation.

The human body may be originally derived from the ape body - lotsa similarities, obviously, down to DNA - but it would appear that a Higher Agency tinkered with, modified the original ape model. Had to be something "extra-evolutionary", not merely from the ground up but engineered from the Top.

Hoarhey said...

Thanks for fleshing out and giving coherent explainations to my intuitions.

Gagdad Bob said...


Concur. Looked at from an involutionary standpoint, the animals are descended from man, specifically, the divine-human prototype, or Adam Kadmon.

Just another way of saying that there is both past-to-future Darwinian evolution and top-down, future-to-present evolution, or what Petey calls "darwhiggian evolution and supernatural election."

Officious Oaf said...

In today's and other postings you bring into the picture the soul, and rightfully so, for without it, man's relatively quick passage from birth to death, after which there is nothing, would be a mere a flash in the pan experience having no eternal significance. Such a notion as that is denied by most men due to an inner feeling they have that says there is more after death. Such a feeling can not be thwarted even though constantly being reminded by philosophical know-it-alls of the old refrain: "Even if God didn't exist, man would invent one", all of which implies that any questions raised by that feeling are the product of a short term imagination.

Since a "hereafter" would demand an experiencing entity to be aware of it, it is concluded by most that it is the soul.

So far so good. But what about the soul? From whence did it come? Assuming it was God that created the soul -no atheists allowed in this conversation- what was God's reason for doing that? What is the soul expected to and not expected to do? Did all the souls come into existence at one time, or did God throw out a prototype to see if it would fly -that couldn't because of God's perfection, or were souls "launched" in waves?

Any enlightenment on souls would be appreciated, after all, soul are being stymied in their advancement, or so it would seem, and that is not a good thing. Maybe it doesn't matter. I would think that God produce as many as needed.

dicentra63 said...

But what about the soul? From whence did it come?

In my religious tradition, our souls were engendered, not created, by God, making us His literal offspring.

So in that context, asking why God did it is like asking why people reproduce: because that's the first law -- be fruitful and multiply. As on earth, so in heaven.

dicentra63 said...

I would be interested in learning what you think of this commandment on a more literal plane, i.e., what physical sexual sin actually means to one's spirituality.

Sexual activity has a profound effect on one's spirituality; were this not so, the major religions wouldn't emphasize self-restraint and propriety of context with regard to sexual activity.

So why does sex affect one's spirituality? What does promiscuity do to you? Why is marriage the ideal or even the only proper place for sexual expression?

Gaude said...

Dicentra -
in a rush today, but you might look at Pope John Paul II's 'theology of the body". Boiled down to its essence, it means 'don't tell lies with your body'. Ie., if you're not married, don't help yourself to the marriage act as if you were. If you're married, then don't act as though you're married to someone else. and so on.

If God respected human sexuality enough to make it the matter of a sacrament, we shouldn't do less.

Sheldon Vanauken dealt with this as well in an excellent essay called 'The False Sanction of Eros'.
Well worth a look if you can find it.

will said...

Dicentra -

>>So why does sex affect one's spirituality?<<

Well, you didn't really ask me, but I figure that you, as a Scorpio, need to know NOW.

Answer: Sex is the life-force manifested at the purely physical, one might even say, animal level. It's the same life-force that when sublimated rises to open the higher centers of the body, which gives way to creativity and spiritual awareness. Thus there is no one for whom the sex drive, the life-force, is not the greatest factor in determining whether or not one succeeds or fails in the purpose of this life - the realization of God within.

This isn't a prescription for celibacy for everyone -- though that can have its place. However, it does underscore the need to "spiritualize" sexuality so that it is a genuine channel for love, and not merely as an animal instinct.

lasch 2.0 said...

Freud teaches us that sexuality is a disruptive, ever-present force in our lives and that civilization exists to rein it in.

On an unconscious level, we all feel sexually deprived (hence the market's ingenious marketing of various kinds of pornography). Religion exists in part to give us a structure that allows us to deny (the cynic) or sublimate (the optimist) our sexual impulses.

We are all capable of "perverse" sexual behavior -- just as we are all, in part, narcissistic, and capable of total lack of concern for objects. The sexual must marry the spiritual because we must find ways of containing the drives that threaten us and those around us.

Freud taught us that we must learn to love, or fall ill.

will said...



will said...

wait a sec . . . missed an A . .



Whichever works best for you.

Petey said...

Either way, he's out. If you're going to drive down the cosmic lane, you better bring stronger stuff than that.

will said...

anagrams for SIGMUND FREUD:



ben usn (ret) said...

Interiority complex?
Heh heh!
How about complexity leery?
Or maybe complexity weary? :^)

Thanks for another super post, Bob.
Man, this body is hard to drag uphill!

Kerry said...

>>There are two false paths; one is the descending path into hedonism, distraction, and other various soulless activities. But the other false path is the ascending one: going up the sacred mountain with the soul, but leaving the body behind<<
The former sounds like all the American Idol, look at me, dressed up pretty, I a star television TV pop tart-ette glitter. The latter the body murderer's of the anti religion Islamo-Aztecs. What a split in the world.