Sunday, November 05, 2006

Life Goes On... and In and Up

As an aside, let me just say that... Wait, this can’t be an aside, because I haven’t even started yet. It must be an affront. As an affront -- especially to atheists -- let me just say that it is interesting to me that any development in science easily fits into my spiritual understanding of the cosmos, whereas the reverse is never true: the most sublime spiritual knowledge is unknown and unknowable to the closed and hardened mind of the obligatory atheist.

I may have mentioned this before, but I had this idea of publishing my book in the form of a rolodex -- a “holodex,” as it were. That way, any subsequent scientific discoveries could just be inserted at the appropriate point in the 13.7 billion year adventure of cosmic evolution. While I meant for the book to deal in timeless principles that have no “expiration date,” in order to reduce it to a manageable size, I naturally had to treat large swaths of the pilgrimage from God to God as “flyover country.” In a way, you might say that this blog serves that purpose as well. Everything I write here could be inserted somewhere in the book to supplement or expand upon something that’s already there.

There is no outright rejection of God that does not eventually involve rising up against God. Likewise, there is no rejection of science that doesn’t involve a rising up against science. Thus, we have silly books such as Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, which is a mirror image of some Islamist or Christian fundamentalist diatribe that rejects science. In the first case the vertical is rejected, while in the second case the horizontal is rejected. Both approaches are worthless to the Integral Man who is in contact with the entire spectrum of reality.

Yesterday Dr. Sanity had an important post entitled Losing Your Memory, Your Insight, and Your Mind. No, unlike Dawkins’ exercise in perfect myopia, it is not a “how to.” Rather, she notes new research that has identified a particular part of the brain that is associated with memory and the capacity for psychological insight (or lack thereof):

“Think about it. Memory is absolutely essential for the ability to develop insight. If you cannot remember events and their antecedents or their consequences, then you would be unable to put these events into any kind of context or perspective. If you forget how you thought or felt about these events yesterday, then you cannot easily review the process of how your thinking or feelings altered or consider why.”

In one sense, as Aristotle said, your soul is everything you know. But in another sense, your soul is only that which you can remember, because what you consciously remember is only a subset of what you know. Furthermore, there are many things we know but don’t want to know. When this happens, we patch over the resulting lacunae -- the willful “unknowing” -- with a kind of false knowledge, or what Bion called -k (minus k).

If we imagine the mind existing on a vertical axis, the Freudian unconscious is the lower vertical area, a psychic repository of things we know but don’t want to know. This means that the ego is often the vehicle of things we think we know, but don’t actually know at all (-k). However, since the vertical extends both above and below, the ego is also the vehicle of things we think we don’t know, but actually do. For example, the most outwardly unspiritual man nevertheless “knows” God in his bones, for this is something we were made to know. This is why Dawkins’ book should have been called the “God Delusion Delusion,” because it is an exercise in -k about O (remember, -k is not mere ignorance, but a “rising up” against knowledge).

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.

However, there is also a vertical aspect of language that mediates between the essence of being and the miracle of knowing. In its sacred or mythological aspect, language is the nexus between the vertical and horizontal realms. It imparts a kind of knowing, but one must not confuse this knowing with profane knowing of the linear and unambiguous variety. Just like everyday language, it reveals and discloses an "object." But it is not a three-dimensional object. Rather, it is a hyperdimensional subject-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. In its absence, you will suffer from another kind of undeveloped insight.

Whereas in the horizontal world there is more or less a one-to-one relationship between word and object (or concept), vertical 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 spiritual capacity. 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 horizontal knowledge, which is to turn O into -k, precisely.

On the one hand, we can look at the world horizontally and imagine --fantasize, really -- that matter gave rise to life or that brains give rise to truth. However, such a view generates a multitude of insoluble metaphysical paradoxes and dead ends that can only be resolved if we supplement it with the vertical, topdown view.

Esoterically understood, forgetting is associated with sleeping, and sleeping with death. Thus, in order to restore the world and ourselves, we must remember, wake up, arise and be reborn. For just as there is horizontal recollection -- our conventional memory of the past -- there is “vertical recollection” of the above. And it is literally a re-membering, both because we are dismembered and alienated from vital parts of ourselves if we are exiled in the horizontal, but also because there is such a shock of recognition and familiarity when we encounter and re-collect the primordial Truths that are anterior to us.

In order to understand our situation, you might 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 were, we would be no different than other animals. We would not live in a cognitive space of spiritual freedom, routinely exerting a topdown influence on our horizontal egos. We would not be able to know truth, to love beauty, to will the good, or to delude ourselves with -k about O.

But not everyone seems to have the same degree of topdown influence over themselves-- of free will. In fact, it is a capacity that varies quite widely. According to our unknown friend, "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.... [T]here are some cases where heredity is reduced to a minimum and other cases where it manifests itself as almost all-powerful."

Thus, 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.

Back to the issue of memory and insight. For human beings, remembering is to forgetting as waking is to sleeping and birth is to death. Just as it is possible to forget in the horizontal, it is also possible -- inevitable, actually, due to certain primordial calamity -- to suffer I-AMnesia in the vertical. "Forgetting" the vertical reduces man to animality, just as sleep reduces us to vegetality and death to minerality. To sleep is to forget, to forget is to die. To awaken to the vertical is to remember and to actually be alive, or "born again" from above.

The intellect, or heart-mind, is an organ of truth. Just as the heart pumps blood and the lungs exchange oxygen, the intellect functions to metabolize truth. In fact, human beings would cognitively and spiritually starve and suffocate -- do starve and suffocate -- without constant exchanges with the oxidized blood of Truth from above. Because of this exchange, the mind grows and renews itself.

Now, reader JWM has often spoken eloquently of his struggles with faith, with vertical recollection. And yet, at the same time, just yesterday he wrote, “The last time I posted I was down, and feeling like I’ve made no progress, despite a lot of effort.” However, he had a recent experience in the horizontal that made him realize “I have grown much. Much indeed. I guess I had to see it for myself.”

Yes, you see, eternity takes time. Without time -- horizontal duration -- evolution would not be possible. Rather, there would be only the static, timeless vertical world. While human beings are condemned to relativity and contingency, that is only half the story. Rather, we are also condemned to transcendence, and only in “looking back” in the horizontal can we see how much we have grown and how much we have transcended. I can look back 20, or 10, or five, or one year ago, and see a much “shorter” version of the vertical me.

It is said by naive atheists that you cannot prove the existence of God. Fine. Whatever. But there are two things you can easily prove for yourself, 1) the vertical growth that mysteriously occurs as a result of a relationship with this "imaginary" being, and 2) how much metaphysical and philosophical foolishness is generated by people who deny the existence of this being.

Thus, if you want to have a vivid appreciation of God, just visit a typical secular university campus, where the bottomless sea of foolishness (-k) is the only proof of God you need, so conspicuous is He in His absence.

Put it this way: the vertical became horizontal so that the horizontal might become vertical. If that weren't true, I would still think of Richard Dawkins as a deep thinker.

When the inferior man hears about the Tao, he laughs at it; it would not be the Tao if he did not laugh at it... The self-evidence of the Tao is taken for darkness. --Lao Tsu


Chip said...

Perhaps you've addressed this subject in the past. If so I missed it.

What can you learn about a person who doesn't want God to exist versus someone who does?

This is not the same thing as whether someone believes in God. For example, I'm a doubter on every issue. I tend to whip back and forth trying to accomodate arguments on both sides. So difficult questions with compelling arguments on both sides are rarely settled in my mind. But I know I like to believe in God even if I can't always convince myself positively, empirically.

Gagdad Bob said...

Very simple. You are ensnared in the lower mind, where everything that can be proven can be equally disproven. You must move from ratiocination -- which is both endless and circular -- to direct perception. In short, "doubt" is what the lower mind does. It is merely a lawyer who argues for the client who is paying it. Intellection involves seeing directly, in the same way that you may spontaneously intuit the mood of another by looking at their face or listening to the tone of their voice. It is to move from "I doubt, therefore I exist," to "I am, therefore Being is."

freelance radical said...

Dearest Cosmos........I love your blog and I often come to read it, but your tiny type hurts my eyes and so I leave before I want to. Couldn't you please increase it to 14-point-size? All your admirers would be grateful!

Alan said...


Most internet browsers allow you to increase the default text size for most sites - for example, in Firefox go to the menu View > Text Size > Incerease. Apple's Safari has two A's in the menu bar (one bigger, one smaller) that will respectively reduce and increase the default text size. I'm not sure what it is on Internet Explorer but I'm sure it has that capability.

It works fine with OneCosmos

RobF said...

Excellent post, as usual. I'm not an intellectual (at all!), just a deist who wandered over here after reading Dr. Sanity's blog and have been reading every day ever since!

Does anyone else have the problem I have, where my vocabulary is large enough to understand what Bob is going on about, but not quite large enough to be explain it to to other people?

For example, I might know exactly what words like "primordial" and "metaphysical" mean, but I'm not used to using them myself, so I end up saying things like "erm...there's this blog and it's really good for anyone who's interested in religion or philosophy. Or stuff."

I'm ashamed! But seriously, I find Bob to be really helpful. I dabbled with Pentecostal Christianity in the 90's but left because I couldn't seriously believe that a loving God would have someone tortured in hell for eternity for having doubts about whether such a passage or other in the bible should be taken totally literally.

Now I have no idea whether there's a god or not, but I choose to believe...I volunteer on a site for teenagers with problems such as self-harm, anorexia and suicidal thoughts. Why do I care about them? There's no advantage for me from Dr. Dawkin's point of view.

A girl called Kia killed herself after being sexually and physically abused; why should I care? How would crying over her memory help me pass on my genes to future generations - isn't that basically what evolution and natural selection is supposed to be about, just to reproduce and to keep your DNA circulating in the gene pool?

I'm convinced that I have a spirit and a soul, but that it's just a reflection of something greater and better than me.

Suppose we'll all find out one day but in the meantime, Bob's blog is staying on my bookmarks list!

Anonymous said...

I have visited this blog every day for the past month or so. This is my first comment.

While I did not have the score to join Mensa, I can close which means I guess I have some semblance of intelligence. Interestingly, I scored the highest on the verbal (written word ) part.

I must say though, I have the darndest time deciphering Bob's missives. I'm not into philosophy at all, never read Plato, Aristotle, etc. I was raised a Roman Catholic, have gotten bored with hearing the letters from Paul for umpteenth time and am still pissed off at the Church for the way it handled the abuse crisis.

But my real problem is more along the lines that I have this aversion to large organizations no matter why they exist.

I digress. It would certainly be helpful if Bob could take a shot at writing in just a tad more concrete style every now and then. I'm certain there is good stuff here but I have the darndest time getting to it.

BTW, I have my own proof of the existence of G-d because I had a very, very short metaphysical experience. No BS, here. Also, I don't think I'm nuts, either.

Been trying to duplicate that experience to no avail the last 5 years.

Cineris said...

Not to be elitist, or snide, or otherwise, but I think one of the points in writing the way he does --
Is to use language to connect with the divine.

I would be disappointed if it were otherwise.

Smoov said...

As I range across the web I pick up fragments of religious/spiritual debate here and there. Sites like Digg often have threads featuring the patron saint of the spiritually retarded, Richard Dawkins. The commenters inevitably break down into two classes:

1. Somewhat intelligent atheists who have mastered the rudiments of sophistic debate;

2. Not so intelligent Christians who regurgitate Bible passages in response.

Suffice it to say, this goes nowhere fast. I really believe there is a deep need in the West to open up a full frontal assault on these atheist pseudo-intellectuals using people (like Bob) who are capable of handing them their asses in a debate.

Stephen Colbert recently interviewed Dawkins, who in the worst imaginable faith set upon some hapless gay meth-head preacher who got caught in the act. (Colbert is another peurile dunce deeply admired by the godless set). What a different show that would have been if Gagdad Bob had been Dawkins adversary instead of the crippled, penned quarry Colbert served up for Dawkins to shoot at leisure.

Let these people face some genuine opposition. Get in their faces!

bg said...

Anonymous - sounds like you have the makings of a mystic.

robinstarfish said...

Rising up towards the Bobosphere requires the same patience and practice as learning a new language, and the key is time. Go slow! There's no hurry, and in fact if you do, you'll miss some important keys along the way. So treat every blog like a meditation or devotional - absorb it but don't try to immediately explain it to someone else. Your soul will begin to speak on its own when it's good and ready, and it will use it's (your) own language.

Meanwhile, point people to the blog - nothing wrong with that.