Monday, January 21, 2008

Father, Sun, and Seeing-Eye Gods (1.31.11)

Let me express myself in an even clearer way. The fruitful person gives birth out of the very same foundation from which the Creator begets the eternal Word or Creative Energy, and it is from this core that one becomes fruitfully pregnant. --Meister Eckhart

Stone writes that by the 16th century, new and unprecedented trends in human psychological evolution were becoming clear. In particular, there was an increase in individualism, characterized by a growing capacity for introspection, or exploration of the interior world. Not surprisingly, we see the first real novels appear at this time, which explore the interior life of everyday individual characters, instead of dealing mainly in archetypes, heroic epics, and more stock characters. There is also a growth of personal autonomy, marked by awareness of the individual conscience, empathy for others, affectionate marriage, and the uniqueness (and therefore, value) of the individual.

Again, since these things are completely taken for granted in our own time, it's very difficult to try to imagine what life would be like in their absence. Another important point, as Elias mentions, is that we cannot think of these changes as having been brought about in any conscious manner. Nor were they caused by the ideas of a few great and influential men. Rather, they just "happened." Or did they? Is there a hidden "law" at work in the movement of history?

Not to get sidetracked right off the bat, but Magnus left a pertinent comment yesterday, writing that he wonders "whether modern civilization could even have come to exist had not the Nativity Story been burned into our minds year after year, generation after generation, millions of times through the centuries." This reminds me of how Gil Bailie looks at scripture. That is, we have our own ideas of what it's all about, but what if God has his own agenda of which we are not consciously aware? What if he's trying to nudge all of mankind in a particular direction, so to speak, by tinkering with our unconscious tomeplate?

In Bailie's case -- and he's an orthodox Catholic, by the way -- he sees the central gospel message to be about putting an end to mankind's perpetual scapegoating and sacrificial violence, in order to create a truly transcendent unity. This is in contrast to the temporary unity achieved by ritual sacrificial violence, which must be repeated again and again. The unconscious message of the gospel is that when we murder the innocent victim, we murder God. Such an idea was utterly novel in the world of ancient Rome, just as it is today in the Islamic world, where might makes right and the meek inherit a rusty knife to the jugular. (Bailie's book is far too rich for me to summarize here, but it is highly recommended.)

Similarly, if Magnus is correct -- and I believe he is -- then another unconscious message of the gospels would be about the manner in which we are to regard children. Again, it is difficult -- and even painful -- for us to put ourselves in the mindset of antiquity, but children were regarded as essentially worthless. I say "essentially," because they had no "essence" or intrinsic value conferred by the Father, only the arbitrary value conferred upon it by its father. If the father wanted to keep the baby, then it lived. If not, it was adios. To the dungheep, or "exposed," to be torn apart and eaten by wild animals. In its metaphysical form, this is identical to the argument of radical pro-abortionists, who affirm without apology that the human fetus has no intrinsic value -- that ending its life is fundamentally no different than removing a decayed tooth. The mother determines its value. But who determines the value of the mother? Don't ask.

However, in a world in-formed by the gospel message, no one can actually believe this "deep down." I think this is why the left believes it so radically and so fanatically, for to entertain doubt about the matter is to be convicted by one's conscience. And we wouldn't want that.

The point I am attempting to make is that we have a conscious mind and an unconscious mind. Our conscious mind understands things one way, while the unconscious understands them in another way entirely, and which might well be totally at odds with what the conscious mind believes. We do our best to "consciously" interpret the divine message, but is this even possible? Isn't it a little like a two-dimensional object trying to describe a three-dimensional one? For example, a sphere moving through two dimensions can be described as a series of circles of varying sizes. But it will require a leap of imagination for the flatlander to "see" that these apparently separate circles are all partial reflections of the one sphere.

To extend the analogy, what if God, or "God's word," is, say, a ten-dimensional object moving through our four dimensions? We will attempt to read the shadows of this object in a linear way, when in fact, it takes a vast leap of imagination to en-vision the Divine Reality. At the very least, this would explain the "60,000" distinct denominations of Christianity -- not to mention other valid "non-Christian" perspectives -- for what if God has 60,000 dimensions? What if God has a million dimensions?

No, what if God has 6,645,472,522 dimensions, which is to say, a number equivalent to the human population at this moment? Actually, that would be the minimum, wouldn't it, because we'd have to include every human who has ever lived and will live.

Am I arguing for relativism? No, not at all. I am arguing that there is an absolute object with at least 6,645,472,522 dimensions, and in whose shadow -- or light -- or both -- we live. Remember, every bit of light we see -- and of which we are made -- is just a part of the sun. We imagine that the sun is a distinct object 93 million miles away, but this is pure fantasy. We're right here, in the middle of it.

Similarly, our own I AM is plugged directly into the hyperdimensional subject in the manner described by Meister Eckhart, so that "the eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me." So is it my eye? Or God's eye? Or are you blind? In order for a knower to know an object, there must be a third thing called "light," and the supraformal light is always superior to any formal object it illuminates. For as Schuon wrote, "the formal cannot exhaustively express the informal," nor can metaphysics be reduced to creed. "There is only one single Subject; the rest is blindness."

Not to mention blandness.

Man partakes of the divine being, therefore he "is." However, since he is not God, he -- alone among the animals -- may "become." God and man are not one; but nor are they two. I suppose the best way of saying it would be that God and man are three. Two of the parties are obvious, which is to say, the Absolute and the relative, the latter of which must exist in light of the existence of the Absolute. In other words, the relative is a necessary consequence of the Absolute, the latter being infinite and extending into relativity, as the central sun extends to all the millions of eyes with which it sees itself.

The Great Mystery is why this middle term exists, this uncertain mode of being-becoming.

Now, what is a baby? Or, to put it in a slightly different way, what does a baby symbolize -- at least for those of us with a "Christianized" unconscious -- which is to say, virtually all of us in the Judeo-Christian West (for remember, there was a critical context for the valuing of babies, and that was the Jewish culture of antiquity; Jesus almost had to be a Jew).

Let me ponder this for a moment....

Okay, done pondering. In a baby, the circle is unbroken and heaven and earth touch. The child, by virtue of his im-maturity, is "an incomplete state which points toward its own completion." The child represents what was and is "before," that is, "what is simple, pure, innocent, primordial, and close to the Essence, and this is what its beauty expresses; this beauty has all the charm of promise, of hope and of blossoming, at the same time that of a Paradise not yet lost; it combines the proximity of the Origin with the tension towards the Goal" (Schuon).

Therefore and thus and so forth and so on and in conclusion:

"The man who is fully mature always keeps, in equilibrium with wisdom, the qualities of simplicity and freshness, of gratitude and trust, that he possessed in the springtime of his life" (Schuon). For verily, as Petey says unto you, except ye be coonverted and become as little kits, ye shall not exit the king-kongdom of heathens.

Now, the moment I flowed out from the Creator all creatures stood up and shouted: "Behold, here is God."

They were correct. For if you ask me: Who is God? What is God? I reply: Isness. Isness is God.... Creation is the giving of Isness from God. And that is why God becomes where any creature expresses God
. --Meister Eckhart


Lisa said...


"Come fly with me, lets fly lets fly away
If you can use, some exotic booze
Theres a bar in far bombay
Come fly with me, well fly well fly away"

Click on my name and go to my blogger page for proof and pics!

Another holy trinity, Flyer-Catcher-God! I have seen the light!

jimmiedub said...

Hi Bob,

Off topic:

I remember you said a few days ago that you had some copies of the book available for autograph. I just lost my copy of OCUG a couple of days ago. How could we arrange for me to get a copy autographed by you?


Gagdad Bob said...


Actually, I didn't say I had copies available. I asked if I should obtain some from the publisher. I took the silence for a "no." However, I do have three new copies here. E-mail me if you actually want one (my address is in the profile.)

joseph said...

It is appropriate, both positively and negatively, it seems to me to quote Eckhart in this context.
Eckhart was far from an elitist, and shared his deep experience with the Divine with German laymen of his time. In other words, these lay folk seemed to understand him. Indeed, it was the hierarchy, or at least a powerful faction of it, that misunderstood him.
This indicates to me that far from lacking introspection and not being able to explore their interior world, the "folk" of his time "got it". The same could be said of Jesus of Nazareth, who walked and talked with regular folk, fishermen, tax collectors, and prostitues. Some of them understood. Indeed, given the overall population, I would wager that a higher percentage then than now, but I don't know the stats.
On the positive side, however, clearly Eckhart would have been instrumental in bringing about this deepening of looking into the interior that you write of, along with many others--actually all over the planet at that time. Abhinavagupta in Kashmir comes to mind.

Joseph said...

I mention Abhinavagupta because he was remarkable in believing (and experiencing) that every person had access to enlightenment and offered his teaching to all, without reference to caste.

julie said...

I've been pondering more about the issues of cultural difference and how child-rearing affects progress. One of the big differences between modern Judeo-Christian-based cultures and many third world countries is the idea not only that children are to be cherished, but that children should fare better than their parents. In America, certainly, parents generally hope and expect that their kids will be smarter, healthier, more successful and happier than they were. Poor families struggle to put their kids through college, hoping that the kids will not be as poor and faced with the same hardships; this was certainly the case in my family.

This isn't true everywhere. Most countries are still stratified by class to some degree or other, even Western countries (I have friends in England. When they were married, her family basically disowned her for marrying up). In such a system, even though they might embrace the ideals of a loving and nurturing family, any attempt to break out of the class into which one is born can be met with serious, even devastating resistance. Children are expected to fare the same as their parents, and being more successful is usually seen as a greater threat than being less successful.

Gagdad Bob said...


Very true. There is a natural envy of childhood that causes many, if not most, parents to try to undermine it. I am thinking of how leftists want to destroy the innocence of childhood by teaching them about completely inappropriate things, such as homosexuality and radical environmentalism (i.e, humans are destroying the earth). If you're not conscious of the envy, you're liable to act it out. I am well aware of being envious of my son for his health, vitality, lack of aches and pains, long life ahead of him, and especially, his extraordinary father. Lucky bastard.

Gagdad Bob said...


Very good point about Eckhart, but he was definitely at the leading edge of a new trend that was springing up in Germany at the time, and then shortly thereafter, with works such as The Imitation of Christ. As Taylor writes, "People were seeking a more personal religious life, wanted a new kind of prayer, wanted to read and meditate on the Bible themselves.... This devotion put more emphasis on private prayer, on introspection, even encouraging the keeping of a journal." This marked the emergence of a new, non-hierarchical elite, which Taylor states the church "looked on with suspicion" because if its inwardness and de-emphasis on outward ritual.

Gagdad Bob said...

With regard to Jesus, yes and no, for "it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given....Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand" (Matt 13:11-13).

joseph said...

Yes, those who understood the mysteries were few, and to them they were given, but the "they" in this context were not from the uppercrust. They were simple craftspeople and the like. Jesus only discriminated after he dissemminated.

Gagdad Bob said...

True, but Paul was no intellectual slouch.

Gagdad Bob said...

In fact, he was undoubtedly a religious genius in his own write, as John Lennon would say....

Robin Starfish said...

Angels Tread
from the otherworld
some invisible footprints
leave a residue

Mizz E said...

And Jesus spoke: "No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead he puts it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light."
(Luke 11:33)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"What if he's trying to nudge all of mankind in a particular direction, so to speak, by tinkering with our unconscious tomeplate?" perhaps copywriting in IAMprint in each dimension?

Elephant said...

This is monumentally off-topic, but I just wanted to say how much I like Ben's image of that raccoon. Is he/she dancing? Singing? Boxing?

Anonymous said...

As I read this, the Madonna and Child paintings came to mind. Were they inspired by a new awareness of women and children or did they lead to it?

njcommuter said...

If you are going to speak of spaces of high dimension, you should know that mathematicians speak also of spaces of infinite dimension. Look up "Hilbert Space."

Gagdad Bob said...


Yes, Taylor goes into great detail about the changes in painting, e.g., the "new realism" of Giotto, and what it signifies as to the changing interior. In particular, there was a new interest in the human Christ -- the suffering, Christ, the infant Christ, etc., and relating it to one's own life in an individual way. This is quite different from, for example, the iconic tradition, which deals more in archetypal, transcendent, and impersonal realities.

Petey said...

NJ commuter:

Yes, mathematicians speak of "spaces" of infinite dimension (as if the infinite could be multiple!), but they only speak of them. To put it another way, conceiving has no common measure with experiencing. (k) is not O.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi Elephant!
Close! That is my Chin-Fu Dough pose. It is (or rather was) a lost art of the martial variety, which utilizes large doses of humor to throw your opponent off balance.

Most folks eschew this particula art because it usually involves copious amounts of pain (but in a Good Way). :^)

A close (but inferior) horizontal likeness would be the Drunken Monkey, which you can find at Wikipedia.

Elephant said...

Ben -

Wow thank you for the info! How did you find such a talented raccoon...and an image of it? It is a remarkable shot! What amazes me about the photo is the action it captures and conveys. Very nice.

Elephant said...


Me again...

...Hmmm. It has occurred to me in an ever-growing hunch, or maybe mere question mark, that the raccoon might not, in fact, be live? However it is, I think the thing that impresses me most is the action in the shot. (I can be gullible in some matters, so you see, it might seem to me, to be a real dancing, martial arts raccoon.) :)

Elephant said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elephant said...

...was thinking of the possibility of it being animated, rather than a find in the wood.

And while I'm on the topic of "the wood"... I recently saw a very funny cartoon, comic rather. It was of two individuals talking about the forests being cut down for large box stores. One says, "Where will the feral children go?" This really made me chuckle. The other says something about an abandoned boy in Ikea being raised by modern, affordable Swedish furniture and that they taught him that to "chair is human and to forgive, divan."

In an insignificant way, it reminded me of the topic of recent posts via Grimm's Fairy Tales. It just made chuckle completely when I read "Where will the feral children go?" for the first time (times following as well...)

fyi...This is a repost, as I botched the comic quote the first time around. Sorry about that!

at in la said...


"At the very least, this would explain the "60,000" distinct denominations of Christianity -- not to mention other valid "non-Christian" perspectives -- for what if God has 60,000 dimensions? What if God has a million dimensions?"

No doubt God has many dimensions, and His Infinite Being will continually soar above our finite understanding and outreach. And without question each person is a unique expression of God. And it is partly right to view people and religious groups as dimensions of God, but I think the fundamental error in this lies in ignoring the problem of Evil at work in the world.

The activities of principalities, powers, seraphims and cherubims, etc...(the angelic hierarchy) aren't always of those between Heaven and Earth. A lot of activity goes on between those of Hell and Earth, as well. Demons posing as angels of "light" could fool the wisest of any human being (and have) making us perhaps believe we are witnessing another dimension or expression of God in forms that aren't simply paradoxical to the nature of God (for paradoxical Reality is) but outright contradictory.

Isn't it likely then, that the evolution of consciousness and enlightenment in history is not all God's doing, but that of His adversary. As to why God would allow this, the story of Job comes to mind. God does not will the evil to happen but allows it to bring about greater good.

But a question I would ask you, Bob, (I'm sincerely looking for discussion here not argument) is how can we decipher what is of God and what is not? And by what authority can we know? Bolton says (in Self and Spirit) that gnosis isn't enough. There has to be a cornerstone of Truth to rely on. What would you say the cornerstone is? (That's not a trick question, by the way.)

I'd also be curious to know what your thoughts are about evil, sin and human corruption and how it affects our world and our reasonings and understandings?

Thank you.

ps. Anyone feel free to comment but please refrain from disrespectful comments.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hiya Elephant!
Glad to be of service.
You know, the very fact that you are on the lookout for anything that might be a trick for the gullible, proves you aren't gullible.
As Ronald Reagan said, "trust but verify."
Excellent advice for all Raccoons and Kits.

I believe the photo is authentic, although I can't take credit for this amazing work of art.

Many moons ago...over a year to be more specific, when I started my blog, in December of ought six, I searched for a suitable icon that best represents my character (or at least a dominant part of my character).

I searched high n' low, and near n' far for just the right photo, and after many hours, I found it.

I forget exactly where I found it, but I do recall it was a blog belonging to an elderly man, who wrote about raccoons, and he had literally hundreds of photos of a local raccoon den.

There is a raccoon den near our house (re; trailor), and they live in a large blackberry bush patch here.

Anyway, havin' observed these raccoons here for over 16 years, I believe the elderly man's photos are authentic.
Paccoons will often stand on their hind legs when I talk to them, and when I have food. Sometimes they'll even get so close I can touch them (but I don't). :^)

However, our resident photography Master, Robin, as well as a few other Raccoons with the gift of superb photo-art, may be able to discern if in fact I am correct in sayin' that photo is authentic.

"Where will the feral children go?"
Ha ha! That sounds like something Bob Larsen would put in his excellent Far Side works of hilarious art!
It's a shame he retired.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

At in La-
"Isn't it likely then, that the evolution of consciousness and enlightenment in history is not all God's doing, but that of His adversary."

I would say it's impossible, because the last thing that evil wants is for Liberty to spread.

Mere freedom, yeah, but not Liberty, and that is one of the single biggest and best results of our evolution.

That's a law, if you will, that evil can't duplicate.
IOW's, evil can only pervert the laws of the cosmos. For example, communism and socialism.
That is perverted freedom.

Or the type of "demoncracy" the Palestinians utilize which is basically mob rule and tyranny.

There are Laws, principles, and truths that are self evident, if one recognizes thos truths that never change.
God Himself cannot change them, nor would He even consider it, because they are that absolute and He is Justice.

That's not to say that God cannot use evil for good, but that's a different subject entirely, IMO, because God doesn't bring about Good by starting a priori with "plan b."
Although He certainly can after we screw up plan A.
But that's not His first choice, but rather a contingency.

Bob has written extensively about evil in prior posts, and about the Ark of Salvation, which I believe should answer your other questions, in the event he doesn't wanna recap.

In a Word: Liberty.
Ain't no way that Lucifer, or evil, or whatever one decides to call it, would ever bring that about.
That alone proves that evil wouldn't want to spur our evolution.

Hope that helps. :^)

Van said...

"For example, a sphere moving through two dimensions can be described as a series of circles of varying sizes. But it will require a leap of imagination for the flatlander to "see" that these apparently separate circles are all partial reflections of the one sphere."

I put up a post this weekend, A Summary, that tried a similar stab at shadowplay,

"...At some point, for me at least, this contemplation of the three axioms, and of consciousness as such, it's singular existence above the flat material world, leads me to suspect that it doesn't only begin and end with our lives, but extends into our lives as the structure becomes able to host it. Life is, and consciousness is thickest where there is the structural depth capable of supporting that depth.

I suspect that Consciousness is like a light blazing outside of a ball, we are like pinholes that allow that consciousness to stream into the interior of the ball. Perhaps in some way that is ungraspable, as two dimensions are to one, three are to two, or some fourth or fifth dimension to our three dimensions, that ball is not only what radiates the light outward, but is the structure of the ball, an unending stream of light on the outward side, and penetrating into its center, through the openings of life….

Yes speculation, a poetic representation, a two dimensional sketch of a perceived three dimensional world to which we are blind to. But I swear… we do bump around in it, and though we can not see what we touch, it seems that we do sense something in that inner reach towards further inwards, it seems to me, sometimes it manages to reach outside the ball....

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

O! I like, Van!
Now, before I go off to read Van's latest postalicious lesson...

At in LA-
You might find it helpful to peruse this at Van's blog, as well as his superb Reason series:

Van, as usual, hits the self-evident nail on it's head. :^)

Gagdad Bob said...


I'll probably be touching on some of your concerns in subsequent posts about the cultivation of virtue. I've also discussed them in numerous posts in the past. But I believe you already have your answer, so I'm not sure why you're asking me.

NoMo said...

at - In his 1/16/08 post, Bob said, "This was the Christianity that was foisted upon me as a child, and which caused me to unfortunately reject all Christianity out of hand by the time I was 10 years old." For me, this was a significant insight into his motivations - to "seek a more perfect way". As I observe and try to understand that process, I am often troubled by certain concepts that may be considered heretical, but I also find significant deepening of my own simple, biblical beliefs. While he may not be in-your-face biblical, Bob clearly (to me) recognizes the cornerstone of revelation. As I've been reminded often by certain raccoons, this is not an exoteric blog, but an esoteric.

"Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!
Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! (Rom 11:33-36)

julie said...

Heh - Lileks ends the Bleat today with a song called "Doing the Raccoon." Of course, continuing the lileksian tradition of raccoon abuse, it's actully a song about raccoon coats. Oh, the horror!

River Cocytus said...

Hmm... despite what you say about icons, even very early on you can see the 'personal' coming through the archetypal. But again, there are always exceptions to the rules. Most of the early saints were people who were genuine individuals in a world of groupthink. Nowadays they would seem to some to be the opposite, i.e. those who submit themselves to some kind of authority in a world of 'individuals'. But the reality of it is that 'my yoke is light'; The authority of Christ is liberty itself. (for instance, no longer being bound by the law.)

I can't help but notice in reading the lives of the early saints how 'otherworldly' they really were at that time; St. Anthony actually did what the rich young ruler was supposed to do, and sold his belongings and followed the Lord. So, that basic template, that thinking, knowing human nature has always been there, even if it is covered over by layers and layers of gunk. I have no problem believing that basically, 'folks is folks', but also realizing how much better the world is (at least in the west) for many children and people. With the people I've known, I've found that even the people who seem most reprehensible can at least for a short while awake into a place where they really listen and speak, not just hear and make noise. I guess my expression would be to say that the potential has always been there. Eckhart's time and place is an example of that potential being actualized.

It seems that the philosophical path of the faith has been very straight and narrow, if you read the scripture (and the lives of the saints.) That is, of liberty. On one hand nearly every one had to forsake his family or clan or people, depending on the situation, and think differently than those around him. But it only was the path insofar as their thinking was freed to be turned towards the call of God. So on one hand there is this striking individualism, but on the other hand there is at the same time this striking submission of the individual will.

But, I think we should not mangle the idea with our own poisoned and sin-stained memories of these things; I had a kind of picture in my mind and it went like this:

The Lord was sitting with all of the great philosophers of the world; in a big circle. He said to all of them, "What would you say, in your reckoning, is the chief good?"

And they would proceed around in the circle, starting with perhaps Aristotle who would say it was Happiness (or wholeness) and Mohammed might say it was salvation and victory, and Buddha perfect enlightenment, and an old Hindu guru might say it was to become a God, and others might opine it was complete knowledge, or wisdom, or satisfaction, or perfect obedient resignation, or incorruptability, or universal renown, or to will and do with courage, or to have a government which does not impinge on the rights of its people, and so on.

And they would finally get back to the Master on the other side, and he might stop for a moment to think.

And he might say, "I tell you a true thing; insofar as any of those things is Good, seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his Righteousness and all of these things shall be added unto you."

Elephant said...

Ben -

I do declare then, I would venture, the photo is bona fide.

Thank you for the background on it. It's a striking picture that catches my attention whenever I graze past it!

Oh, and the "affordable Swedish design" named the boy Kramfors-child. Pretty funny...

Van said...

Ben, Thank You for those kind words, I'm honored.