Saturday, November 03, 2007

Cosmopathology and the Descent of the Left (3.15.10)

Yes, yes, I realize that some people don't like it when I write about politics, and that my political philosophy condemns me to alienation from what would superficially appear to be my key demongraphic, Brother Deepak's Spiral Dynamic New Age Traveling Salvation Show. But these ideas are absolutely critical to the evolutionary health and well being of the cosmos, and follow quite naturally from the nonlocal principles that (vertically) structure reality.

As we have discussed before, leftism is by definition a perpetual rebellion against these principles -- against the Real. Thus, it is de facto the maninfestation of a spiritual illness, often rooted in a psychological one. It amounts to a sort of nihiljerk paranoia toward reality -- a cynical and worldly suspiciousness -- that excludes any real explanations, "since these in their turn fall under the same law of suspicion, which drags everything down and which is the end of truth" (Schuon). Sophisticated secular man proudly avoids falling for anything and thus triumphantly plunges into nothing, the only alternative. Detached from the Real, he either drifts or bolts from it 32 feet per second per second.

Continuing with our discussion of Michael Polanyi, one puzzling thing he noticed -- discussed a few days ago in this post -- was that intellectuals were not only responsible (obviously) for the most destructive ideas and ruthless political movements of the 20th century, but that they embraced them despite the fact that these ideas, if implemented, would spell the end of the intellectual class. That is, they undermine the very liberal ideal of freedom of inquiry guided by the pursuit of truth.

Prosch writes that "It was the intellectuals of [the last] century themselves who played the largest part in destroying those very things that they needed and that were already theirs. Such operative perversity as this must lead one to suspect the operator's mental health, a mind blind to that which it wants and needs." Indeed, a mind which "proceeds on a path toward its own destruction, may surely be suspected of suffering from obsessions that are pushing it to such nonadaptive behavior."

As we shall see, Polanyi's analysis explains why the cognitive and spiritual pathology of political correctness emanates from the left, and could only emanate from the left, despite the fact that it makes a farce of their vaunted ideal of "academic freedom." And it is the very definition of pathology, since it causes great damage to the mind and soul of the person afflicted with it. And once the pathology has taken over whole institutions -- i.e., leftist academia, the MSM -- it becomes a truly dangerous pathogen that systematically infects those who pass through its environment (again, unless they have a very robust spiritual immune system rooted in the Real).

We see the same thing occurring with Islamic fascism, which is not -- as leftists cluelessly, but necessarily, believe -- a result of poverty, but of affluence. It is rooted in the ideas of intellectuals, who then -- just as leftists do in the west -- try to demagogically propagate these ideas to the ignorant masses to explain their misery. The only thing that has kept America (its better half, anyway) immune from this process is its strong foundation in an alternative metaphysic, which we call the Judeo-Christian tradition. Likewise, the reason why continental Europe fell to the viral song of leftism is that it had already gravely weakened its own natural defense mechanism to it.

The book I'm reading on Polanyi has an interesting explanation for this, and it makes a great deal of sense to me. That is, in continental Europe, their political liberation was inseparable from their religious liberation, i.e., from the Catholic church. However, in Protestant England and America, the break from religious tyranny had already been effected, so that political liberation was not conflated with a rebellion against God. Thus, the Founders were able to formulate the ideal of separation of church and state, not for the purpose of ending religion's influence, but strengthening it.

Conversely, in Europe, their separation of the two spheres inevitably led to the destruction of religion and the deification of the state. No properly religious person could ever deify the state, which is why leftism is excluded for the spiritually attuned but just about mandatory for the spiritually blind (objectivists and contemporary libertarians represent insignificant and ultimately self-refuting exceptions to this rule).

Being a scientist, Polanyi noticed a connection between the ideals of logical positivism and the nihilism of the left. Even today, despite the fact that positivism has been thoroughly discredited, it remains a kind of tacit metaphysic for both scientists and for much of the educated public. In other words, there is a widespread assumption that "only scienctific theories [are] capable of verification (i.e., proof), and that moral or ethical or political or religious ideals and principles [are] essentially unprovable, mere matters of emotional preference." But Polanyi saw that there was a deep relationship between the very possibility of science and certain metaphysical ideals and principles "that not only could not be proved, but could not even be made wholly explicit." And just because the ideals which underlie science could not be proved, it hardly meant that they were unworthy of belief.

This tacit acceptance of positivism ramifies in interesting ways. On the one hand, there is the scientific worker bee who supposedly only believes what his experimental data tell him. But this is indeed a cold, dead, airless, and ultimately infrahuman spiritual environment into which the passion for nihilism rushes to fill the void. In this regard, it seems that human nature abhors a vacuum, and therefore filled it with a void -- the nihilistic void of the secular left.

Now it is surely noteworthy that the only organized opposition to liberty comes from intellectuals, who supposedly hold their own liberty -- i.e., "academic freedom" -- to be sacred. How could someone who would instinctively rebel at the idea of centralized "planned culture," embrace the idea of a centralized, planned economy?

Good question!

As Prosch writes, "much of the dissatisfaction with the present order of the economy came from intellectuals, from people not under these immediate threats and whose professional life would derive little benefit from scrapping the system. Those who needed cultural freedom most in order to get along with their chosen work formed the bulk of those most obsessed with the notion of curtailing it through adopting a planned economy." And a planned economy eventually entails a planned culture, something which is quite evident. That is, the more left the country, the more laws must exist to constrain and control the people, exterior laws which displace the interior law written in the heart of man.

Yes, but what are the exact dynamics of this irrational leftist nihilism, and what caused it to reject the liberal foundations of the Christian West?

That's enough for today. Next post.

Rights that are defensive for an isolated individual become aggressive for a collectivity.. --F. Schuon

Friday, November 02, 2007

Pathological Science and the Crisis of Modernity (3.14.10)

Excellent rant over at American Thinker on Global Warming as Pathological Science. It's not just about global warming, but about the hijacking of science for political ends, almost always leftist ones.

Which is why it is so incredibly moironic that the left are always so hysterical about a few Christians who believe the universe was created in 144 hours 6000 years ago, when they themselves are responsible for almost all of the wholesale misappropriation of science for magical ends, global warming just being the most visible example. Ultimately, depending upon which way you look at the evidence, science can either support or not support the existence of a Creator. But either way, it has no effect on the actual conduct of science, so long as it is guided by one question: what is true?

I'm sure there are exceptions, but I know of no believer who doesn't believe that God, by definition, wishes for us to know the Truth about reality. Indeed, if God did not exist, then neither could Truth. It's ridiculous to have to even to say this, for a God who wanted to hide the epistemological ball from us would hardly be a God worth paying attention to. It's why we know that this surly and controlling Allah fellow -- at least as widely understood in the contemporary Islamic world -- cannot possibly be "God." I am told that God desperately wishes to be known, and that all these misunderstandings, misquotations, and misapprehensions drive him a little nuts.

All of these problems with the left hijacking science were recognized by my favorite philosopher, Michael Polanyi, as early as the mid-1940s. I just started reading another book on him yesterday, and so far it is the best introduction I've found. I can't give it an unqualified endorsement until I finish it, but if it keeps up this pace, it will definitely be a foundational raccoomendation.

The question is, why is pathological science not only inevitable on the left, but intrinsic to it? The short and cryptic answer is that leftism itself is essentially a minus religion (-R) deeply rooted in minus knowledge (-K) about a reality that doesn't ultimately exist, ø. Allow me to explain.

In a minute. But let me first cite some examples from Lewis' article at American Thinker. He writes that "When the scientific establishment starts to peddle fraud, we get corrupt science. The Boomer Left came to power in the 1970s harboring a real hatred toward science. They called it 'post-modernism,' and 'deconstructionism' -- and we saw all kinds of damage as a result," including systematic nonsense about the dangers of heterosexual AIDS, DDT, and Mad Cow Disease, lies about civilian casualties in Iraq, and destructive theories about whole-word reading, to which I might add outrageous lies about the reality of sexual differences, about the damaging psychological effects of daycare, about the importance of fatherhood, and about the causes of homosexuality. Lewis writes that

"Modern science fraud seems to come from the Left, which makes it especially weird because the Left claims to be all in favor of science. Marxism itself was a scientific fraud, of course. In 1848 Marx and Engels claimed to have a 'scientific' theory of history. They predicted that communism would first arise in England, because it was the most advanced capitalist nation. (Not.) They predicted that centralized planning would work. (Not.) They predicted that the peasants and workers would dedicate their lives to the Socialist State, and stop caring about themselves and their families. (Not.) They predicted that sovietization would lead to greater economic performance. (Not.) And then, when seventy years of Soviet, Chinese, Eastern European, and North Korean history showed Marx's predictions to be wrong, wrong and wrong again, they still claimed to be 'scientific.' That's pathological science -- fraud masquerading as science."

As alluded to above, Polanyi noticed all of this going on by the mid-1940s, and was puzzled by it. Perhaps it should be noted that he had a rather unique resume, in that he started out as a medical doctor but later became a professor of physical chemistry, with many important papers to his credit. His last scientific paper appeared in 1949, but he had already begun dabbling in philosophy by the mid-1930s, mostly in what we would now call economics (being Austro-Hungarian, he was very influenced by luminaries such as Hayek and von Mises, and early on formed a deep understanding of the critical importance of liberty to both science and economic development -- he is a classical liberal par excellence).

Polanyi didn't turn full time to philosophy until the 1950s, and his magnum opus, Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy, wasn't published until 1958, by which time he was already 67 years of age. I must have discovered him in the early 1980s, and agree with Prosch's assessment that

"no one other than Polanyi has in recent years been so assiduous in ferreting out and criticizing those attitudes, beliefs, and working principles that have debilitated the modern mind by undermining its trust in its own higher capacities [emphasis mine]; nor has anyone else offered more pregnant [so much for being 'a little bit pregnant' -- GB] suggestions for a truly new philosophic position free from these difficulties." Although his writings are free of any overt religiosity, I find that they most adequately support my view of a universe that is both absolute and evolving, as it must be; or evolving toward an Absolute that is orthoparadoxically both its origin and its destiny, alpha and omega (more on which below).

The important point is that I believe Polanyi provides the best framework for an enthusiastic and unambiguous embrace of both science and traditional religion -- which is why the essence or O-sense of Coonism is what we might call "Integral Neo-Traditionalism," or something along those lines. In turn, you might say that Polanyi is the unfortunate philosophical "wedge" between me and Schuon, who had no use whatsoever for modernity. In my view, Polanyi saves modernity from itself -- hence the subtitle of his book, Toward a Post-Critical Philosophy. To put it another way, Schuon felt there as no way out of our modern mess but back -- i.e., pure traditionalism -- whereas I believe Polanyi shows us the way forward, out of the darkness of postmodernity -- but not if we abandon tradition.

Perhaps it was because of his medical training that Polanyi began with a diagnosis of the modern world, which he regarded as more or less psycho-spiritually sick. Now, in my view, it has always been sick, consistent with our primordial calamity back in the archetypal garden. But Polanyi noticed that the world seemed to be sick in new and unprecedented ways. Indeed, this is probably among the first things that crosses one's mind as one is fleeing the coming European apocalypse in the 1930s, "matchbox holding my clothes," as Ringo sang (a "matchbox" is an improvised suitcase made of cardboard, favored by blues musicians who must "grab the first thing smokin'," probably because of a jealous husband on their trail).

One thing Polanyi noticed is that modern man tends to externalize the source of his own illness, which is, of course, a specialty of the left. Dennis Prager has mentioned that perhaps the greatest divide between left and right is found in the religious education he received as a child. As a result of it, he internalized the message that, to the extent that he has problems in life, they are overwhelmingly self-generated.

Speaking of blues, notice the wisdom embodied in these lines, as compared to those of modern sociopaths such as Sharpton & Jackson:

Mother, she taught me how to read
Mother, she taught me how to read
If I don't read my soul be lost
Nobody's fault but mine

I have a Bible in my home
I have a Bible in my home
If I don't read my soul be lost
Nobody's fault but mine

Now the gift-curse of self-blame may not be widely available in the non-Western, non-liberal world, but it is surely available here in the modern West, where it is a great thing to be able to proclaim, "my life is f*cked up and ain't nobody's fault but mine" -- something which a leftist can never, ever say. But statistics bear out this truth again and again, that in America, you are free to succeed or fail, based upon your beliefs and concrete behaviors. It is what makes us great.

The left reverses this great truth and disempowers its victims by teaching that your problems are not your responsibility. Rather, you've been screwed! It's a conspiracy! The cards are stacked against you, the dice are loaded, and it's not your fault! The left will cite different reasons for your failure, based upon the political needs of the day, but the main point is that you are a victim and that its not your fault. As such, this represents an overturning of the principial order of the cosmos, the sanctioning of soul-corroding envy, and the denial of liberty. Mankind isn't fallen at all. That's just religious dopium to keep you down! No, earthly perfection is possible if we just eliminate freedom and impose our leftist agenda!

Well, this little prelude has gone on longer than I had anticipated. To be continued....

Nobody's fault but Bush
Nobody's fault but Bush
If I don't read my soul be lost
Nobody's fault but Bush
--lyrics by Blind Lemon Sharpton

In America, the son of a retail clerk can grow up to be Ricky Bobby:

Thursday, November 01, 2007

How Thoughtless of Me!

Not much time. Picking up where we left off yesterday, Schuon was explaining the difference between thought and intellection, or what I symbolize in the new testavus for the rest of us as (k) and (n). I employed these "empty categories" so that they might attract meaning based upon personal experience, since a word such as "thinking" is so saturated with meaning that people imagine they know what it is just because they have a word for it. But they don't know what thinking is, nor what thinking about thinking is, let alone thinking the unThinkable.

Even worse, people who think they know what thinking is, also assume it is identical to intellection, since they don't even allow for the latter anyway. This is why, when atheists talk about "God," they are actually talking in their own private language about nothing. Yes, it is nonsense, but give them credit: it is strict nonsense.

As we have said many times (that's the royal pain-in-the-ass "we," meaning Petey), there is no problem with reason so long as it is limited to its own domain. But the problem with all forms of "terminal rationalism" is that they illogically foreclose any reality that transcends mere reason. As Schuon explains, rationalism "seeks the culminating point of the cognitive process on its own level," which is ultimately as illogical as searching "for a word that is entirely what it designates."

Here again, we see the problem between the abstract and the concrete, as if abstract words could ever completely exhaust the concrete without remainder. But thinking is like pi in sky, which goes on forever. Or as Jethro Bodine once said, "Pi are round. Cornbread are square."

So in order to "think the unthinkable," so to speak, we require "mental forms fitted to serve as vehicles for intellectual intuition and therefore truth," since "poorly posed questions no more attract the light than they are derived from it" (Schuon).

Now, Truth in itself is inexhaustible, and no mental formulation could ever "contain" it. However, there are metaphysical formulations rooted in revelation that can adequately do so, and that is all we need or ask: O Petey, the merciful, the compassionate, but more often severe, please feel free to throw us a bone down here in 4D so that we might catch a glimpse of hyperspace, okay?

Forget Petey, let's ask Schuon. First of all, this blog is essentially about intellection, not thinking. Therefore, when a thinker comes along to try to start an argument, there's not much to say except "woof." And Dupree says "woof" to drive home the idea that human thought is to animal thought as intellection is to thought. It's no use to get into a... a thought fight with a thinker, because you're both going to end up covered in thought, the only difference being that the thinker will enjoy it. Look, I didn't make up the rules here: Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls before swine.

If truth exists, we are obliged to believe it, no? But there is no secular philosophy that can account for truth in a way that isn't ultimately circular, nor can it provide any reason why one should believe it, since rationalism can never legitimately get from the is to the ought. At the very least, as Schuon writes, no philosophy engenders sanctity, except for the false sanctity of the secular politically correct. Which admittedly is a lot of false sanctity, thus demonstrating once again the destruction wrought by leftist religious fanatics in the absence of religion.

In fact, we could probably use a new symbol to describe this phenomenon, (-R) (negative religion), or perhaps (-n), which would refer to all the false mysticism (e.g., environmental mysteria) that permeates leftist thought (and which is so well explained by the philosopher Eric Voegelin... well, maybe not so well by him, since he was pretty obscure. But this book does a good job of translating his ideas into plain english).

One of the major differences between (k) and (n) is that the former is static while the latter is transformative, altering the being of person who internalizes it. This is not to criticize (k), as it obviously has its place, even a vital one. Our Islamic enemies, for example, parasitize our Western (k) in the service of their insane (-n), the latter of which creates a context that prevents the independent acquisition of (k) to begin with. Which is why the Islamic world produces nothing but misery, poverty, and stupidity.

Well, I'd better go get my bloodwork done, since I'm fasting. To be continued. But I do wonder how Islamists can use and covet so much (k) discovered by Jews, such as nuclear physics, just as I wonder how leftists can respect a constitution written by Christian men and embodying so much (n). Then again, one way to reduce the Constitution from (n) to (k) is to appoint elitist, activist judges who know better than the rest of us.


Adam! Where are you?!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Between Thought and Reality

It is as though true ideas took their revenge on on anyone who limits himself to thinking about them. --F. Schuon

Gumshoe alerted us to this piece by the great Theodore Dalrymple at City Journal, in which he takes aim at the popular middle-to-lowbrow atheistic tracts flooding the marketplace. While some are more crude than others, the loathsome Sam Harris is definitely pulling up the bottom. I use the word "loathsome" advisedly, but if Dalrymple has reported his words accurately, then Harris has a mind as coarse and barbaric as any genocidal imam that he criticizes. Which makes sense, in that "extremes meet."

Dalrymple writes that "it is not easy to do justice to the book’s nastiness," and about the most charitable thing he can say about Harris is that he combines "sloppiness and lack of intellectual scruple" with "adolescent shrillness and intolerance" -- which he can always use as a letter of recommendation to the New York Times editorial board.

Dalrymple cites a passage that is "quite possibly the most disgraceful that I have read in a book by a man posing as a rationalist." In that passage, Harris expresses the opinion that “Some propositions are so dangerous that it may be ethical to kill people for believing them. This may seem an extraordinary claim, but it merely enunciates an ordinary fact about the world in which we live.”

Yes, ho hum, just an ordinary fact: it's ethical to murder people for their religious beliefs.

As I've said before, nothing as ugly as atheism could possibly be true (and I'm not suggesting that all atheists are as deranged as Harris; many are fine people). Even though he's not a believer, Dalrymple says what amounts to the same thing about the relationship between beauty and truth:

"I recently had occasion to compare the writings of the neo-atheists with those of Anglican divines of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.... In my own neo-atheist days, I would have scorned these works as pertaining to a nonexistent entity and containing nothing of value. I would have considered the authors deluded men, who probably sought to delude others for reasons that Marx might have enumerated." But in looking into these religious writings, "I found myself moved: much more moved, it goes without saying, than by any of the books of the new atheists."

Too bad for Dalrymple, as he is probably a case of someone being so intelligent, that his intelligence nearly ruined him. Indeed, his hyper-developed rational intelligence -- like the cherubim who guard the way back to Eden -- is probably what keeps him from taking the next leap of faith into actual belief. As much as I respect him, one doubts that he will undertake the task of discovering "what moved" in him while reading those words, nor the source of the Mover. But you never know.

As Hoarhey said in a comment yesterday regarding Mrs. G's experience of being moved in church,

"Not that Christianity isn't also geared to adults, but there is an innocent part which is easy to grasp for kids at an early age. I've also seen teenagers who have been raised in Christian homes who seem innoculated to the pop culture of this society which brings at least a portion of many people's lives to ruin. They just decline the temptations with an easy 'no thanks' and move on.

"Oh to not have to dig out of the wreckage and shed the baggage!" (emphasis mine).

It took me years to dig out of the wreckage of the finest education the secular world has to offer. I don't mean to brag, but for those of you who don't know this, Cal State Northridge, where I obtained my BA in film, is considered the Harvard of the north San Fernando Valley.

Just as the Jesuits said something to the effect of "give me the child and I shall give you the man," the same is equally true of a secular brainwashing -- except that if you give them a man, they'll give you back a boy. And the more intelligent you are, the more likely it is that you will receive this brainwashing at a very high level, and then have to undo it in order to escape that closed circle and once again know reality.

Once internalized, the brainwashing often becomes part of the superego, so that to go against it feels like a betrayal. Even I sometimes say "spiritual" instead of "religious" or "Creator" instead of "God," because I know how the latter saturated words sound to the intelligent non-believers I would like to reach. For similar reasons, I prefer "liberal vs. leftist" rather than "Republican/Democrat" to describe our political space. For example, many nominal Jews are just loyal Democrats, just as many blacks are inexplicably loyal to their contemptuous white leftist masters.

Among other reasons, I am a believer because it is so much more deeply intellectually satisfying (on the psychic level) than any version of materialism, which, in the end, is the only other option, whatever you choose to call it. I mean, the intellect of a Frithjof Schuon so far surpasses that of these atheistic scribblers, that they might as well be a different species. As Dalrymple writes, the neo-atheists essentially "advance no argument that I, the village atheist, could not have made by the age of 14." They are essentially stuck in Piaget's stage of formal operations thought, which is definitely an accomplishment. But it is hardly the end point of man's potential development.

Schuon observed that "One can most certainly prove every truth; but not every proof is accessible to every mind." How true. In fact, the materialist's demand for proof "increases in proportion to ignorance, not in proportion to knowledge," which results in dragging truth down to the depths to which they themselves have fallen. In other words, the more you venture into materialism (which, ontologically speaking, takes you directly away from the Source of Truth, like "the ascending curve of a circle changes imperceptibly to a descending curve"), the less you will be capable of knowing spirit, for there won't be any space left for it to inhabit. There is a kind of bovine concreteness to atheism that is just impenetrable. Faith and prayer are largely about clearing that space.

This reminds me of a playful comment Alan Watts once made about so-called "American materialism." He pointed out that most people we think of as materialistic aren't actually materialistic at all. Rather, they spend their life chasing after abstractions, like the professional athlete who uproots his life in in order to earn 8.3 million dollars in three years instead of 8.0. Personally, I just love matter -- books, records, mountain biking, meditation, playing with my son, etc., etc., very concrete things and activities that I would have much less time for if I were to chase after some abstract dollar figure.

Similarly, as Schuon notes, "Men of a rationalizing disposition are obsessed with 'thoughts'; they see concepts, not 'things,' hence their criticisms of inspired and traditional doctrines." These slaves to mere reason are presumably under the illusion that religious doctrines are of the same order as their cherished thoughts and concepts, but in fact, they "perceive neither the realities to which these doctrines refer nor the unexpressed things that are there taken for granted." This is because "a metaphysical doctrine is the mental incarnation of a universal truth" (emphasis mine). It is not abstract, but obviously quite concrete -- not because it is primitive, but because it is the instantiation of a Real transcendent idea in the material world. It is a God-given support for intellection, not the product of thinking.

Dilys left a a relevant comment yesterday, again in response to Mrs. G's adventures in Catholicism: "Never saw it said better, the end run around the saturation of memes, language, and ideas: 'What I thought I knew about Christianity was a child's view and that there is a vast richness there unknown to me before.'"

She also refers to the cooncreteness of it all: "For those hovering around these questions, I can mention that many Catholic Churches have opened to the public an Adoration Chapel, usually tiny and quiet premises where the Blessed Sacrament -- according to the doctrine, the Real Presence of Christ -- is exposed to view in a jeweled monstrance. I have found that to be a highly-charged atmosphere rewarding attentiveness, patient waiting, praying for guidance, and asking, face-to-Face as it were, What's the deal here on this stuff? Is it true? Why or why not? The answer, and the palpable authenticity of an answer, may be surprising."

It's all there: "the mental incarnation of a universal truth," "the realities to which these doctrines refer," and "the unexpressed things that are there not taken for granted."

In order to reach the truth it is necessary to awaken in oneself if possible the intellectual faculty, not to strive to "explain" realities one does not "see" with the reason. --F. Schuon.

*Schuon quotes taken from Spiritual Perspectives and Human Facts

Monday, October 29, 2007

Unknowing What You Know in Order to Know What You unKnow

Now that I no longer post on weekends, it's a little difficult to get back into the flow on Monday. It seems that on Saturday and Sunday I revert to my pre-blogging self, for whom daily blogging would have been impossible to begin with. I suppose the same thing must have more or less happened to the Colorado Rockies. Under normal circumstances rest is good, but in their case, it broke the spell they had been under for the previous month.

There's a being mode and a doing mode, and this weekend I was trying to get into the being mode in order to accomplish some doing. The doing has to do with coming up with an idea for a sequel to One Cosmos. Obviously I have plenty of ideas, but what I'm looking for is an organizing principle that will harmonize them and bring them all together, and that's not the kind of thing you can try to come up with.

Rather, in my experience, you have to clear a space in your mind in order to allow the Overmind to spontaneously come up with something on its own. It's like pattern recognition, which must be intuited, not imposed. If you try to impose order on your mind, it's not going to have the kind of robust stability that arises spontaneously. No one knows how we can recognize a face -- including the face of God -- but it's certainly not through induction.

It seems that you can't fool the Overmind, any more than you can fool nature. For example, growing a potato takes as long as it takes to grow one. True, you can fiddle around at the margins a bit, but only up to a point. It's a human conceit to think that we think our thoughts anyway. No one knows what a thought is, where they come from, where they go, how they develop, what their boundaries are, how they combine with other thoughts, how they can be "true," or exactly how long it takes to grow a deep one.

But I suppose it's the rule rather than the exception to impose some kind of artificial order, not just on the mind, but on the world. And this problem afflicts intellectuals more than normal people, since the intellectual is much more prone to conflating his abstractions with reality. Plus, intellectuals are often narcissistically invested in their intellect, no different than a physically attractive narcissist might be invested in their looks. If politics is "show business for the unattractive," academia is politics for the downright ugly. The ugliest ideas in the world are openly embraced in academia, ideas fundamentally lacking in wholeness, harmony, and radiance.

Real thought -- the kind of thought a Raccoon cares about -- is much closer to perception than it is to cogitation. It is seen, not deduced. This dovetails with what Mrs. G. was saying yesterday about her experience in church. In order to comprehend religious truths, it is generally necessary to disable what most people call the "mind," which is in reality just a noisy "thought factory." This factory should be closed on Sunday.

Christianity, with its vivid iconography, is able to cut through a lot of "sophisticated" mental knots. In other wordlessness, it is a very visual religion, providing images that can speak directly to the heart -- or to the nonverbal right brain, if you like (which is directly connected to the cardiac center). These images work like seeds planted in the "unconscious" mind (which, of course, isn't "un" conscious at all, any more than soil is unconscious; fertile soil -- which is full of micro-organisms, enzymes, insects, and other beings -- knows exactly what to do with a seed, and vice versa). It is no wonder that Jesus used so many agrarian metaphors. God is not like a building made bricks, but a tree planted in the sky. And your mind is the sky.

Just yesterday I read the following by Schuon, which directly addresses the difference between O and (k), or Reality and our thoughts about it: "Metaphysical knowledge is one thing and its actualization in the mind quite another. All the knowledge (k) the brain can hold is nothing in light of the Truth (O) even if it is immeasurably rich from a human point of view. Metaphysical knowledge is like a divine seed in the heart; thoughts represent only faint glimmers of it" (emphasis mine).

This is why the relationship between revelation and philosophy is approximately that of organic food to artificial food (while its relationship to new age spirituality is like food to junk food). As someone mentioned in a comment the other day, no matter how hard science tries, it will never be able to invent food more nutritious than that which spontaneously grows from the earth. For one thing, science -- which only knows what it knows, but not what it doesn't -- can only extract abstract quantities (e.g., vitamins) from food, and then try to reproduce them.

But more and more research is demonstrating that there are properties in natural foods that just can't be quantified -- even the colors, e.g. green tea, blueberries, red wine, etc. (As someone once said, why should we trust the government on global climate change if they can't even get the "Food Pyramid" right? Ten or twenty years ago, unrestricted carbohydrates were good for you; now we have a nation of diabetics.)

In any event, what Schuon is saying is that revelation embodies deep metaphysical truths that may be actualized in the mind by "dwelling" within them, so to speak. And these truths will be much deeper than what science or philosophy can come up with. This is not to knock the latter, because (k) is important and certainly has its place. But we are talking about something fundamentally beyond the reach of science, that is, growth -- and salvation -- of the soul.

To cite another example by Schuon, he points out that "A proof is not convincing because it is absolute -- for this could never be -- but because it actualizes something self-evident to the mind" (emphasis mine). In short, proof -- even scientific proof -- is only possible on the basis of prior knowledge. In other words, there is nothing deterministic in this or that proof that compels us to accept it. Rather, our acceptance of this or that proof is an act of judgment that can never be captured by any logical operation (echoes of Gödel again). Once you have accepted a proof, you have left the closed circle of mechanical reason, and are in the realm of faith. Or as Schuon beautifully puts it,

Correlative to every proof is an element eluding the determinism of mere logic and consisting of either an intuition or a grace; now this element is everything. In the intellectual order logical proof is no more than a thoroughly provisional crystalization of intuition, the modes of which are incalculable because of the complexity of the real.

Go ahead, read it again, slowly. I'll wait.

Now surely, based upon this, it is far easier to prove the existence of God than it is to prove the existence, say, of manmade global warming. The latter is expressed with all the trappings of science, but in the end, the science is only accepted if one has already done so -- because it actualizes something self-evident to the mind.

And this, of course, is the secret of our liberal MSMistry of Truth, which only covers things it already knows to be true, for example, that we have lost the war in Iraq, or that lower tax rates cause deficits, or that women are an oppressed minority, or that America is a racist country. I'm sure you can think of dozens of others. I can't because I have to get to work....

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Adventures in Exploring a New Faith (by Mrs. G.)

I am hoping to post most Sundays about the experience of investigating a new faith and church (Our Lady of Malibu). Mostly, I'd like to spark a discussion about the topic of finding faith as an adult, raising children in a faith you didn't grow up in, and/or making the commitment to one particular faith in a public way.

I am not speaking for Bob in these posts, but I want to give him credit for having been most instrumental in my finding spiritual guides. He's also helped me understand things I otherwise wouldn't have even known whom to ask -- and in other ways that I could never fully express.

Quick background: I was raised in a secular Jewish home, but even as a young child I was a seeker and wanted to know God. I even went to a variety of different services with neighbors and with my grandparents, and was exposed early on to Reform Judaism and the Episcopalian church, as well as a 70's style of spiritual seeking with looser parameters, but based on Christianity.

Currently, I'm a devotee of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. I don't have any problem with that practice for myself, and I've been very faithful to it, for lack of a better term. I'm a true believer, you could say. But once Tristan arrived, I now have him to consider. Magic 8 ball kept saying, "answer hazy, ask again later." I knew The Mother would let me know what to do when the time came, and recently, she did.

Bob suggested a little while ago that a religious education might be worth considering for Tristan. The more I thought about it, the more I felt pulled to bring Tristan to a local Catholic Church, Our Lady of Malibu (OLM), to worship and to go to school. Then I guess the idea really took hold of my soul, and I myself felt drawn to converting to Catholicism.

I went to mass today for the first time at OLM. Tristan and I went with a friend who grew up Catholic and occasionally goes to OLM. Tristan immediately threw a tantrum on the floor of the church, so we were quickly facing Plan B: the Child Care room. Because of damage from the recent Malibu fires, they no longer had a large room with lots of toys. Instead, they had to make do in a very small room with a giant Xerox machine that had probably been somewhere else before the fires. There was a group of well-behaved girls doing crafts at a table when we walked in. The door was propped open and they didn't know where their baby gate was. Hmmmm. I stayed a few minutes to see if Tristan thought of the Xerox machine as a ladder, or if he would try to flirt with the girls instead. When another little boy showed up, I decided to go back to the mass with my friend.

OLM is very understated compared to what I expected at a Catholic Church. The room where they have mass is bright with an A-frame roof, but it's very simple. There is a window above the altar with a beautiful outdoor statue of Mary. The way it's configured, Mary is surrounded by bougaanvillea and looking down at us past the Christ on the Cross on the wall next to the window.

I let go of the thought of what Tristan might be getting into and let myself be drawn into the service. As soon as the priest read part of the mass from the prayer book my eyes started filling up with tears. When I was first exposed to Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, they each suggested to read his work with your heart, not your head. That's not exactly how they said it, but the idea was not to intellectually try to understand and analyze each concept, but to notice how you respond in your heart and soul to what you're reading. I took this approach this morning. Otherwise, I know I would have thought about what is different about Catholic teaching than what I'm used to, or how much trouble it is to get Tristan there, or whether I'll relate to anyone else once I get to know them, or what my secular parents would say if they knew I am planning on converting to Catholicism, and on and on. Blah blah blah.

Later in the service when they did the communion, I again had a very strong emotional response. This time, I had tears running down my face. I'm sure that I had a lot of spiritual feelings bottled up since before Tristan was born. That was the last time I went to any spiritual services. I used to go regularly to the beautiful Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine in Pacific Palisades, and Bob and I would occasionally go to the Hollywood Vedanta Temple. But I don't feel that this explains my reaction completely. I am sure I was supposed to be there today and it confirmed to me that I'm on the right path.

Tristan was doing really well in the small child care room, and I am getting pretty good at not worrying about him when he's with other people. He's so outgoing, he doesn't get upset at being apart from me if there are interesting distractions, new toys, or pretty girls to keep his attention. He wanted to come out by the end of mass and I brought him into services toward the end. We sat right near the musicians in case Tristan would like that, and he did. He loved it. He danced and clapped and pointed out all the instruments, but mostly watched in awe. I don't think he's ever seen a live performance of any kind of music.

During one silent part of service when people were receiving communion, I told him that it was quiet now and that people were praying. It was totally quiet, actually, and I was whispering in Tristan's ear to keep him from squirming too much. I whispered, "Thank you, God" as an example of what it means to pray. He immediately repeated in a clear, high little toddler voice, "Thank you, God!" Everybody looked around at us. I am sure when I was younger, I would have been embarrassed. But I felt much more comfortable at my advanced age, and Tristan was so totally innocent of trying to get attention or anything that would have annoyed me as an onlooker, so I just took it for how sweet it actually was.

I won't usually have this much to say at once. But I thought a little bit of explanation was warranted. I especially want to know about your experiences as an adult exploring your spirituality, and anything else you might want to share.


Leslie (Mrs. G)

Around the Cosmos in 100 Words

I notice on Amazon that they have a function that gives you the most common 100 words in the book's text.

Being that I have far more important things to avoid, I tried a little experiment, that is, writing the whole book with just those 100 words. So this is the coondensed version, for Raccoons with insufficient timelessness to read the whole thing.


.... First, God really does exist, real spiritual fact.

Thus, universe, mind, space, time, physics, reason, form, everything possible.

Whole/part. Two exist!

Material world, rather, process system.

Means consciousness must order things. Seems matter may even actually experience itself: Nature-->Life-->Man.

Science. Knowledge. Religion. Meaning.

Years point toward another true thought between human brain, Self existence.

People different culture/state cannot see own problem parasites.

Should understand past history, know reality!

Great kind individual cosmic beings come, take upon body, able simply say truth according divine language.

Sense cosmos! Without words, something beyond book. Evolution end now. Nothing new....

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