Monday, June 04, 2007

Change, Growth, and Metamorphosis

Change is just change, a horizontal shuffling from one arrangement to another. Growth is teleological change along a developmental vector, while metamorphosis is transformation from one thing to another -- caterpultering your sleeping buddhafly out of its christallus, so to speak.

As Ken Wilber has written, mere change is like rearranging the furniture on the floor of a building, or "translation." But real growth is analogous to taking the eschatolator to the next floor, which I believe he calls transformation. But that is really more like a transition. Metamorphosis is real transformation, something like retrofitting the entire building -- or perhaps like putting wings on it and turning it into an airplane.

Obviously, it is not possible to avoid change. However, we can only know change in relation to changelessness, or some static benchmark. The Buddha taught that resistance to change -- or attachment to one particular phase of it -- was a primary source of suffering. And yet, to achieve the awakened state he describes, one must go through some rather profound changes. As Cardinal Newman put it, "to live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often." We might call this kind of challenging directional change sophering.

"To be perfect" is an interesting way of putting it, for it implies that change for human beings has a definite deustination or final cause. I believe one aspect of grace is the "lure" of this final causation, which literally pulls us in our ding[h]y wake toward our higher self. In other words, this developmental energy cannot merely be a "push" from behind, as it were, or it wouldn't have any direction. In that case, we'd all be like ten week-old Great Dane puppies or two year old boys, constantly dissipating energy that doesn't really go anywhere and is frankly a little annoying at times. [A little pupdate -- I have now finished the post and am in the backyard, where I see that Future Leader and Coondog are digging a hole in the dirt together; hard to say who is dirtier -- ed.]

Or we might say that mere change is a result of deterministic causation, like billiard balls knocking each other around. It cannot result in something truly new, just something that was implicit in the past. But true growth is "top down," teleonomic causation. Instead of present-to-future, it somehow operates in a whole-to-part, future-to-present manner.

Just as one aspect of grace is this future-to-present causation, prayer is the effort (or perhaps non-effort is more like it) to align ourselves with these subtle cosmic winds. And they are subtle, at least at first. However, I think you'll agree that as you move closer to your destiny, it becomes a less subtle and more "present" -- though still distant -- reality. As you leave the orbit of the earth, you are eventually drawn into the attractor of the sun. In fact, when it comes right down to it, that's pretty much your choice: the mundane vs. the celestial.

This turning toward the celestial sun represents "metanoia," true repentence, or preparing yourself to be changed (for in metamorphic change, you cannot change atoll without first ceasing to be an I-land). The first step of the spiritual path -- and the last step, which is simply the first step repeated endlessly -- is "turning around" and phasing your unKnown future.

Again, this is nothing like mere change, which is just endless turning, spinning, and rolling through the hay like a -- speaking of puppies and children -- puppy child, fun though that may be, especially if it's with Amoreena over at the diner (nudge nudge). Now that I think about it, there are times that I am gnostalgic for that corefree and flateral existence, but when I was actually in it, was I really happy or philfulled, or just fallfailed? Or was I just ec-statically spinning around to conceal the fact that I was merely drifting -- down or out, anywhere but up?

Because the True Growth is a movement in and up, which is the only place where "wholeness" can abide -- which literally means "await." Whatever or whoever we are meant to be patiently awaits our arrival there. But where is it when it is not here? Put another way, who am I when I am not me?

I suppose I can handle that one, Petey. Let's see. I was something external, something that was a product of its environment. Any direction I thought I possessed had been imposed from the outside, even if I had internalized it and therefore thought I had come up with it on my own. Not until this drama had played itself out and exhausted all its possibilities was "turning around" possible. For many, it requires that they reach a state of "moral bankruptcy" to reach this stage, or launch pad. Fortunately, that was not the case with me. Nor, fortunately, did I ever do anything that fundamentally damaged my soul, and from which I could not recover in this life.

But enough about rising on the schlepping stoners of our dead selves. Obviously, our society venerates change, but not growth and certainly not metamorphosis. In fact, there is a kind of implicit ban on growth (not just economic), which is the secret of the Democrat party in general and the progressive movement in particular. Neither of them has the slightest interest in making better humans. Rather, they want to skip that little muddled man and create the perfect society.

But you cannot accomplish that by patronizing (literally) man's lower self. As Schuon so eloquently describes it, sircular humanism "decapitates man: wishing to make of him an animal which is perfect, it succeeds in turning him into a perfect animal." Indeed, this must be so if there is no awareness of the proper end of man as such. Leftism can only result in making man more of what he already is instead of what he was meant to me -- human, only worse.

For example, to cite just one disgusting example (TW: Brian), thanks to progressives, it is now going to be against the law in California to teach children about the proper end of human sexuality. Rather, as per a recent senate bill -- which passed along straight (so to speak) party lines, 23 Democrats for, 13 Republicans against -- teachers and textbooks cannot depict transvestites, transexuals, or any other sexual deviant in a negative light in any public school textbook. Instead, positive portrayal of transsexual, bisexual and homosexual lifestyles will be mandated upon all children, beginning in kindergarten.

Why a public school textbook would ever deal with sexual perversions is beyond me, but now I suppose you can't even call them "perversions." Unlike any other bodily function, sexuality has no proper end, no healthy manner of expression. We might as well teach that high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity are all normal as well. After all, who said that one's fasting blood sugar should be below 105? Isn't that just an arbitrary number? I'm being oppressed! What white European male said that diastolic blood pressure should be below 80, or cholesterol below 200? Those numbers are difficult to achieve for some black folks, who tend to have higher blood pressure and cholesterol. What's normal for whites isn't normal for everyone. It isn't fair!

This is why a classical liberal is not a strict libertarian and certainly not a leftist. As we all know, the leftist is a totolerantarian, as reflected in the above legislation which forces people to accept the abnormal as normal -- its project is nothing less than the abolition of the human archetype, and with it, the human being. Why? Why is it so important for leftists to confuse children about sexuality? Is it just a reflection of their own confusion, or is there something more cosmically sinister going on?

Interesting that all of last night's Democrat condidates promised to find a special role in their administration for Bill Clinton, who is aptly described by Harvey Mansfield as "the envy of vulgar men." To put it another way, he is an archetypal lower whorizontal man who has never mastered, much less transcended, himself, so he is a perfect symbol for the left -- vain, greedy, calculating, unmanly, self-serving, governed by his appetites, indifferent to truth, and articulate and intelligent in ways that are simultaneously vacuous and portentous.

Anyway, since the postmodern world has successfully taken the reeking bull to man's archetypal nature, something must rush in to fill the void. Thus, as described by Stanley Jaki, modern man is "addicted to change. He needs fresh forms of novelties to satisfy that addiction. Nothing satisfies him unless he finds it exciting, which merely subjects him to change." In short, since modern man turns the cosmos upside down, horizontal change replaces vertical metamorphosis as the highest value. It is nothing less than the valorization of man's fall, which rapidly creates conditions in which everything becomes a thrilling race to the bottom to determine who is highest, since man cannot stand still. If he is not transcending himself, then he will sink beneath himself. Them's the rules. I didn't make 'em up.

Hey now, what a beautiful example in the new (but not merely novel) New Criterion, which includes a couple of priceless quotes:

It is now that we begin to encounter the fevered quest for novelty at any price, it is now that we see insincere and superficial cynicism and deliberate conscious bluff; we meet, in a word, the calculated exploitation of this art as a means of destroying all order. The mercenary swindle multiplies a hundredfold, as does the deceit of men themselves deceived and the brazen self-portraiture of vileness. --Hans Sedlmayr, Art in Crisis

Some of what she said was technical, and you would have had to be a welder to appreciate it; the rest was aesthetic or generally philosophical, and to appreciate it you would have had to be an imbecile.
--Randall Jarrell, Pictures from an Institution

(See also here for more Roger Kimball.)

Hmm, I'm getting that eery foreboding that chaos is about to strike in the Gagdad household and that unwanted change -- including of a diaper -- is about to be forced upon me. Therefore, I will have to take up this strand when the now is available again tomorrow morning and I can dilate time in the usual "Raccoon way."

Oh, and don't forget -- speaking of change, Ben could use a little right about now. You can coontribute on his website.


Smoov said...

Ben's Amazon donation system is quick and simple, especially if you're already set up with an account.

Hope we hear from Ben again soon, and that the news is good...

Joan of Argghh! said...

It's an old-fashioned notion, the idea of "abiding" as a key to growth. But it's kind of like trying to envision a tree struggling to grow and bear leaves and blossoms; sending roots willy-nilly, hither and yon along the topsoil where the pickin's are easy at the cost of stability. Think of a tree fretting that it should be a willow instead of an oak! Trees don't sweat or fret.

Trees don't struggle. They abide. They do what they're supposed to do: drink deeply, feed daily, and when things get dry and dusty, they dig down a bit deeper and hold on tight, and wait.

Yah. I'm no James Joyce. But I know as much as a tree knows.

/done barkin'


Susannah said...

Grumble grumble grumble public school system grumble grumble.

How long before they're telling us we can't even opt out?

Susannah said...

Joan, that was great!

Now I'm channeling Daniel Amos...

No bribin', no conivin', no strivin' will do
They'll never make no change in you
You can hold your breath, stand on your head
Still the changes won't come, till the Spirit led
Abidin', that's when the changes come
Abide in Jesus, He's the best at gettin' it done

juliec said...

Whenever I think of people abiding, the Dude pops into my head.

It's a great point, though. Abiding, after all, is a form of slack, is it not?

cousin dupree said...


"I have a feeling I'm going to be deleted"

Very good. Now just amplify that feeling before you post. There is a time and place for everything. If you feel compelled to discuss your, er, sexual issue, there are forums for that.

Smoov said...

Yeah, Penthouse forum.

River Cocytus said...

Trolls are gaining predictive powers now... if only they'd actually pay attention to them!

dilys said...

"Why is it so important for leftists to confuse there something more cosmically sinister going on?"

Remembering Meditations on the Tarot, Letter VI, describing the three stages of "the Fall."

1. Eve aligned with doubt by listening to a horizontal voice contradicting and libeling Vertical knowledge, including libeling the motive of the prohibition. The first sleazy ad hominem argument.

2. She looked and readied herself for a "new experience" -- and embarked on an experiment to resolve the doubt.

3. She sought to escape from the feeling of confusion and uncertainty by plunging into experience and making the other take part. 
As a result of an observable, predictable sequence, good and evil counsel become inverted, and abject participation by the maximum number is the goal.

Speaking of Meditations on the Tarot, if about 10 of us who rely on it set about to transcribe it digitally, we'd then have a searchable text  Let me know if anyone is interested.

juliec said...

"Future Leader and Coondog are digging a hole in the dirt together; hard to say who is dirtier"

Are they the same color yet? I hope you took pictures, they might come in handy someday ;)

Johan (cosmic swede) said...

I changed and turned to growth "in and up" when I suddenly found my self "stuck on the matter". In a way I had found my place on earth, on very solid ground when it comes to the "ordinary world", politic thought, work, and so on. I thought I had it all just figured out and now I could kick back and relax on the "thinking about life" part. But no chance, Lance. I had come to an end with but only one exit; It was like I had run to the end of the cliff and had nowhere to go but upward.

And it was also right on Time. It was almost as it was meant to be, that at this time, I found the way to OC, or maybe the OC came to me...? I guess timing is important.

Now I find it so strange that some people just stop at that dead end of matter and go "oh, so this is the end, nothing more to it? Ok, let's go get a cold beer from the fridge and watch telly until The End". What happened to the explorer, the adventurer and the conquestor who constantly seeks for new treasures?! I just don't get it...

Smoov said...


An electronic version would be great, but isn't MOTT still in copyright? I don't think it is kosher to transcribe or otherwise copy the book...

juliec said...

"What happened to the explorer, the adventurer and the conquestor who constantly seeks for new treasures?! I just don't get it..."

That reminds me of when Patrick Stewart spoke out against space exploration. Some people just don't want there to be anything more.

CrypticLife said...

"sexuality has no proper end"

Ummm. . . it doesn't? Hopefully you shall discover the proper end some time prior to changing diapers ;)

USS Ben said...

My fellow Raccoons, Brothers and Sisters under the pelt:
My gratitude for you is beyond words (and I don't have time to find the thesaurus in a feeble attempt to express my thanks more properly)!

From my heart, my soul and mind, frm my spirit to yours, I offer my Eternal gratitude and prayers of God's blessings for your Loving kindness, which includes your edifying and energizing prayers, and your most generous donation of material treasure (btw, Skully has been dancing the unadulterated sailor dance of joy over the booty)!!!

I am feeling your prayers in my spirit, and my mind, heart and body, and you are literally sustaining me and "that ain't no BS!" (as Skully would say)!

When I get more time, I intend to thank y'all personally, and I have a shipload to say about Bob and Will's masterpieces the last 4 days, as well as the very deep and thought provoking comments that is the expected and much anticipated "norm" and "trademark" of Raccoon contemplation, meditation, true communication designed to edify, to build up and in, as we share our ideas, experiences and realizations (IOW, O-->k choral)!

Darn! I'm runnin' outta time...

Patti is feeling a bit better today, but she's still hurtin',
mostly at night. Tomorrow she'll see the ortho doc.
Today I'm runnin' down a few leads on a newly used ship for Skully.

I love you guys and gals!!
God bless you!

Magnus Itland said...

I believe Bob attempted to express the spirit of the times, as it were, with that phrase. He has written fairly clearly elsewhere about sexuality and two of its objectives: 1) The obvious benefit of bringing about the next generation, and 2) the far from obvious mystical union of the two complementary aspects of the Absolute.

The reason why most mystics are very negative to homophilia is not that it is icky, but that they very much doubt that a man can truly embody the female principle or a woman the masculine.

Smoov said...


Glad to hear things are looking up for you and Patti!

walt said...

Ben -

Get some video of Skully's unadulterated dance, for later!

Joan of Argghh! said...


My original post started out with that very same verse from Daniel Amos. I scratched it in favor of brevity. What a great song, though!
I've performed it many times at retreats.


dilys said...


For general information, here are Fair Use guidelines for assorted purposes.

It's considerably more complex than the existence of a copyright, especially when distribution is temporary and access is limited to a very, very small group (transcribers only) for study purposes. Of course, everyone should use his own informed judgment about all such matters.

Anonymous said...

Human existence bereft of higher understanding and actual spiritual realization is in general afflicted by suffering which is manifested as boredom, doubt, and discomfort.

The usual man maintains an ordinary level of anxiety or a kind of tension in which to try avoid being overcome by the feelings of boredom, doubt and discomfort. That generally is all that motivates the usual man.

Boredom is a form of suffering that we very much want to avoid so we keep ourselves interested in what is out there. We console ourselves with beliefs, most of which just plain old aint true, to avoid doubt. And we indulge ourselves physically in food,sex,alcohol,drugs and so forth to avoid discomfort. Such is the limit of aspiration of almost everyone, with very rare exceptions.

Growth! What growth?

Chronic addiction to all of that gross self indulgence gradually causes the native integrity of the bodily being to disintegrate.

When did you ever see TV inviting the non-discriminating everyman (its target audience) to grow.
On the contrary its function is only to sell products of all kinds to overcome or alleviate boredom, doubt, and discomfort.That is entirely what TV produced "culture" is all about. And that collective TV produced "intelligence" now rules the world.

cousin dupree said...

"Boredom is a form of suffering that we very much want to avoid so we keep ourselves interested in what is out there."

True, very true.

I'm going to have to ask you to leave.

walt said...

If ever there were words that describe the society we see around us, it could be these:

"...modern man turns the cosmos upside down, horizontal change replaces vertical metamorphosis as the highest value...which rapidly creates conditions in which everything becomes a thrilling race to the bottom to determine who is highest..."

Heh, right away I'm thinking about all the concern over Ms Hilton's first night in jail. This, of course, shows that I am a "modern man," as well!

For the B'ob has written, "If he is not transcending himself, then he will sink beneath himself."

walt said...

Rather not in the vein of art discussed in the New Criterion article that Bob linked, here is a catalog from the University of Arizona containing 72 pages (!) of photos from Mars.
Yours for the clicking.

Anonymous said...

Both the ancient esoteric understanding and the modern quantum understanding is that all beings and all phenomena, whether mental or material, are actually temporary states of atomic energy or light.

Therefore, individual beings, experiences, and worlds themselves are, each and all, only temporary events, or moments of the everlasting play of energy. But since all phenomena are always changing and passing into new forms or states of energy, all beings, human or otherwise, since they are only energy itself, will also be conserved forever, although forever in new constantly changing forms.

All phenomena are made of transparent fields of apparent "particles" of energy that are suspended in "space" and moving about in mysterious and ever-changing associations with one another.Thus even the empirical "self", or the total body-mind, is viewed or understand as a transparent field of suspended particles or vortexes of energy. The body-mind is mostly "space", and its suspended particles are controlled by invisible flows of pervasive magnetic and electronic energy. And the difference between the particles that compose the body-mind and those that compose the world "outside" is not any longer profound. The space between the particles of the body-mind and the space between the particles of the world are the same continous absolute space.

Consciousness is limited only to the degree that it identifies with the solid personal appearance of the body-mind, the world, and the conventions of psycho-physical experience. The deeper the personal consciousness ebters into its psycho-physical situation, the more its perceptions and conceptions project beyond the limited self into psychically expanded space-time phenomena. When there is intuitive penetration of the total body-mind, the solid or objective world, and all of the limits of experience, it is Realized that consciousness is Infinite.

And then there is simply and only Love, Humour, Happiness, Delight, Wisdom, Strength, Freedom, and the spontaneous non-strategic capacity to Serve all living beings.

cousin dupree said...

Anonymous, do you never tire of your platitudes? As Jack Kerouac taught us, disabling your inner literary critic is not synonymous with enlightenment. Try expressing yourself in a manner proportionate to that of which you presume to speak.

Ricky Raccoon said...

You can do a basic search of Tarot on Amazon.
Although it is basic, it must be digital there. I wonder if they have plans for these digital version beyond this snappy feature on their site.

Ricky Raccoon said...

Ah, Ben, so glad to hear the good news!

Susannah said...

Ah, two-year-olds. They are amazing, delightful and, yes, occasionally exasperating. We've been through five...going on the sixth. I have a great series of framed pictures of my first 2yo on top of Stone Mountain doing the very dance you describe, Bob. It's wonderful. :)

None of 'em ever had a puppy to dance with, though. I've informed DH I don't intend to potty train children and puppies at the same time. Later, when the kids are old enough to do *all* the work.

Blessings on you, Bob; you've got your work cut out for you.

(Imagine being the septuplet family. Seven two-year-olds, 24/7. Only for a year, though. Whew.)

Gagdad Bob said...


Yes, now I have no idea how my mother did it -- four boys separated by 12 years, the last three (including me) in a 4.5 year span of time. No dishwasher, all meals prepared from scratch, no Pampers, no children's TV... I don't think we even had a drier until about 1964...

The horror!

Ricky Raccoon said...

RE the Powerline and New Criterion pieces…

“The problem is, of course, that if you happen to care about art and culture, then exhibitions like “the green house” are more ghastly than humorous…that uses and abuses the prestige of art to promote work and attitudes whose goal is the destruction of everything that makes art worth pursuing.”

Hear, hear.

Bad art is not just plain ugly, it’s lazy.
But not just anyone can do it, mind you. Only a select few are willing to stoop so low.
Fortunately, for them, not many are willing to do this. It is their job security. Little competition…except for those who insist they can stoop the lowest.

But I wonder if the bad art makers realize that they depend on the Good, the True and the Beautiful? You see, this is how they know when they are doing theirs ‘right’ which is to say, doing it wrong. They think of something good and then do the opposite.

In their attempts to destroy Art by attaching the label to what they do, and redefining Art, they are simply making an easier go for the next Art “messiah” who must surely be on his way. The next Michelangelo or Rembrandt will just shine so much brighter compared to their dull constructs.

River Cocytus said...

I had mentioned DeviantArt the other day, and Someone knows what I'm talkin' about.

Yes... Nobody... wins.

kama shootya said...

I got deleted earlier, but Kama Shootya believes the point is important enough to attempt again (perhaps in a softcore version?)

Lefties seem to exalt sex (even same sex sex)--but for all the wrong (political) reasons.

Raccoons should exalt sex for the right reason--it is a potent avenue for spiritual growth.

How? Kundalini/chi/prana. Sex when done right is an amplifier of these energies,and once they are obtained they can be used to reach for 0 (the other 0, that is)

That is what the kids should learn. Not to be shied away from. Sex is to express love, to reproduce, and to reach for God.

The proper age to teach about sex is about 10 when the first stirrings begin.

Gay sex is the question and why I posted. Male/female energy works synergistically. How about male/male? Anyone have any experience/knowledge of this?

Don't be shy. This blog can break new ground.

Big Black Steinway said...

Go mince somewhere else.

maineman said...

Okay, okay. I happen to think that both TV man and Kundalingus man deserve responses, even though I don't feel particularly qualified to give them.

TVM, It seems like you're externalizing a "problem" with the developmental immaturity of the average Joe, half of whom are below average.

KM, SAA, pretty much.

Joan of Argghh! said...


Thanks for the Mars link. Oooh! and Ahhh! pretty pics.

The planets and stars are never off-topic!