Tuesday, January 15, 2008

When the (O)ther Comes Crashing into History

Religion, first of all, is rooted in a genuine encounter with the Other. Petey symbolized this as (?!) in my book, I suppose in order to capture both its immediate and undeniable presence, but also our simultaneous inability to contain or account for it. It's "here," but what is it? It truly is Other, and we need to meditate upon this relationship, not just ignore or superficially accept it, since it is without a doubt the weirdest thing in existence after existence itself.

Here it is important to emphasize that the encounter with the "raw" Other is prior to religion. For example, none of the people who actually saw Jesus in the flesh were Christians. And who knows -- to be cynical about it -- perhaps they wouldn't even have seen him if they had been. The Christianity only came later, as an attempt to comprehend ("hold in the hand"), memorialize, and "extend" the contact. But anyone who thinks this is an effective substitute just hasn't been paying attention. Of course it can be, but much depends upon what the individual brings to the program. Transfigurers don't lie, but you can't say the same for all their followers.

Now clearly, all human cultures throughout history and prehistory have had encounters with the Other, and in fact, as Taylor points out, they are generally founded upon this contact. Culture comes from cult, and when you get right down to it, all cultures are cults that extend back into an atemporal mythology, or "sacred time," when their founding heroes walked the earth. This isn't just true of religions, but of secular societies as well. Look at the way the Soviet Union mythologized their founding, or the transparent manner in which American liberals create substitute religious idols such as FDR, JFK, MLK, ACLU, and other graven initials.

As Taylor writes, the political organization of all pre-modern societies was based on adherence and fidelity to some notion of the Other, which forms the basis and the possibility of their unity. This is one of the reasons why a purely secular society cannot survive, because they can only have the pluribus but no true unum. Under the OMbrella of the unum all men are brothers, but in the shadows of the pluribus, all men are a nuisance.

Primitive societies recognize this, which is why they always revolve around the sacrifice, which is the ritual re-enactment and re-collection of their primordial unity. It dissipates anger, aggression, paranoia, and other mind parasites by projecting them into the sacrifical "container," and then doing away with the container. Does it work? Yes, but it must be repeated again and again, because the mind parasites always return, thus requiring ongoing ritual sacrifices to maintain unity.

This can be seen today in a myriad of thinly disguised ways, especially in the liberal media, who you might say are the sacrificial priesthood of the secular elite. They choose the victim, rip out the heart, drink the blood, and mindlessly move onto the next victim. Yesterday it was American GIs. Today it will be someone else to "unite" the left. This is the true meaning of victim, by the way. The 3000 who perished in the Twin Towers were victims of Islamic human sacrifice, just as George Bush has been a perpetual voodoo doll for the media priesthood.

I believe it was Gil Bailie (following the work of Rene Girard) who said that human sacrifice is "unanimity minus one," which is as close as human beings can get to total agreement on the horizontal plane (his book is highly recommended).

Here we can see how one of the "purposes," if you will, of Jesus, is to transpose this ineradicable urge to sacrifice to a "higher key," so to speak, thus uniting all humans as brothers. It is intended to be the "ultimate" sacrifice and therefore the final sacrifice, thereby being a permanent memorial to this unique encounter with the Other, which can be meditated upon "endlessly," instead of compulsively and repulsively acted out again and again in the manner of, say, the Aztec or the New York Times editorial pages.

Taylor attempts to outline the lineaments of the Other, writing of the abiding human conviction that "Somewhere, in some activity, or condition, lies a fullness, a richness; that is, in that place (activity or condition), life is fuller, richer, deeper, more worth while, more admirable, more what it should be." It is also experienced as a moving and inspiring "place of power"; at times we may catch glimpses of it from afar, while other times it can come crashing through more dramatically in the manner of (?!), or, for the secular person, (WTF?!). It is "an experience which unsettles and breaks through our ordinary sense of being in the world, with its familiar objects, activities and points of reference."

Ultimately, this is the only way you can really prove the existence of God to your own satisfaction (but never to another). You can't just take somebody else's word for the word. I mean, there are perfectly sound and reasonable ontological arguments for God's existence, but they tend not to "take root" in the absence of a pretty dramatic or harrowing (?!). Put another way, once you've had the (?!), then religious stories and explanations begin to make sense, from Moses on Sinai, to the disciples atop Mount Tabor, to Paul on the road to Damascus, to innumerable contemporary examples. In fact, I love reading and collecting these stories of (?!), as, taken together, they begin to create a composite portrait of O, which no single surface could possibly scratch.

Again I return to the comment a couple of days ago to the effect that "Jesus is the truth, and it is only for us to surrender to it." Yes, yes, fine, I'll certainly go along with that -- although I'm not one of those people who limit Christ to Christianity. The same reader asked what sort of Christian I am, or "who do I say Jesus was?," or words to that effect. First of all, I make no claim to be an orthodox anything except Transdimensional Raccoon. If I were anything else, I'd just be lying to you and you wouldn't be able to see right through me anymore. I don't think about it all the time too much, but when Purusha comes to Shiva, I suppose I would just say that the strangest damn thing that has ever happened or could happen would be for O to actually take human form. Is such a thing possible, or only inevitable?

It reminds me of something nine year-old Terence McKenna said to his mother after reading The Doors of Perception: "Mom, if even one tenth of this is true, we've got to do something about it!"

Whatever will we do about O?


julie said...

Yep - it was definitely (?!); or was it (!?) - anyway, it certainly was :)

"I suppose I would just say that the strangest damn thing that has ever happened or could happen would be for O to actually take human form."


coonified said...

"Religion, first of all, is rooted in a genuine encounter with the Other. Petey symbolized this as (?!) in my book, I suppose in order to capture both its immediate and undeniable presence, but also our simultaneous inability to contain or account for it. It's "here," but what is it?"

Today I've been thinking about the process of re-owning dissociated shadow elements and it's possible reciprocity (as above so below) and application to the super-conscious. This is nothing new to me, but I'm I've been having deeper thoughts on the issue lately.

Wilber does a good job in his "Integral Spirituality," as always, of summarizing the basic process of reconciling and integrating what we call mind parasites into oneself, a process of bringing the disowned and deprived sub-parts into consonance with the whole--and ever more "wholing"--me.

They're calling it the 3-2-1 process at integral institute (II), the 3-2-1 referring to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person perspectives--much respect--, which can be succinctly summarized by one of Freud's great adages: "where it was, there I shall be." What this means is that through out the trails of ones life, whether infant or otherwise, there is always the unavoidable danger of being overloaded by ones own intrapsychic stimulus, the unavoidable nervous breakdown that the world seems to be. In order that this very real decay be contained and dealt with--thereby allowing the organism to continue it's existence--the pain overload that begins as a first person experience becomes dissociated (with time) and split off from the whole, creating a sort of hostile sub-system within ones own I-stream, the stream of the self. The point is this: dissociated aspects that once began in the first person are now experienced in the 3rd person, or it; and being an it, an-other, there is the obvious danger of confusing the it with, say, the you, or 2nd person. This is projection, simply--which is a basic psychic error and false co-fusion.

So, if repression involves going from 1-2-3, then reconciliation is the process in reverse, 3-2-1. First we have the encounter with the "it," which could be a monster within a dream or altered state, second, we recognize it--the other being--as ourselves, (what I guess we could call encounters of the "3rd" kind in which the mysterious other comes and finally can be experience as 2nd person (you)) and thirdly, let the you (hostile dissociated substance-being) take "possession" of the I wherein the process of transmutation (more like spiritual combat), or healing-growth can occur.

Now that that point is made, what about the O above? Does this process apply in the pursuit of the supra? Do I have this Great "It" in the sky called the Transcendent Father--beyond Being? In this way, Christ Jesus (being the revealer of the Father) could envisaged as the, or possibly, an, archetypal "encounter of the with the 3rd kind ," the great Transcendent, which before hand only pure essence, but with Jesus encountered as a Great You, the Good. Jesus, in this sense, was a break in the repression barrier above, where after more of our "Self" came rushing into the world, which now works to transfigure it; and has always been working through this dialectical manner and ascending/descending, up and down, on and off, etc.

Maybe that will spark some coonversation.

coonified said...

"Encounters of the 3rd kind" are reference to (?!), above and below.

Here's a link to Integral Spirituality"

rabid racoon said...

"Maybe that will spark some coonversation."

Yea, maybe someone will blow up!

coonified said...

One last thing, if Christ can be said to be the encounter with the transcendent beyond-being, whereby it is transposed into you-being, Christ in the world is never Christ as Such, pure, but a relative definition and ontology. There is a danger, then, off assuming to gnow what other people need to conform to. My being may not be your being, and so on.

Magnus Itland said...

So, Coonified, are you saying that we are the equivalent of O's mind parasites which O allows to actualize and then absorb O in order to be absorbed back into O?

I know Jung hinted at something like this, using the term "complexes" about both the mind parasites, mind symbiotes, and even central archetypes including the Ego itself. All of these were to be consciously re-entered into their proper place in the greater Self which encompassed the entire "cosmos" of the person. Of course, Jung was well aware of the Ego's tendency to want to contain the Self instead and thus become inflated. I know I have had a problem with that myself.

coonified said...

"we are the equivalent of O's mind parasites"

We are a quite a brood aren't we?

"Ego's tendency to want to contain the Self instead and thus become inflated."

"He who feels punctured
Must once have been a bubble
He who feels unarmed
Must have carried arms,
He who feels belittled
must have been consequential
He who feels deprived
Must have had privilege."--Lao-Tzu

coonified said...

"Yea, maybe someone will blow up!"

Or, be punctured.

Magnus Itland said...

Also, lest this gets out of hand, let it be noted that I use "O" in its unsaturated form here, not as a mere shorthand for my favorite deity. Thus if we establish that the unthinkable is also wrong, no internal representations will have been harmed in our thought experiments.

coonified said...

"O's mind parasites"

Well, it would seem that O in essence is by definition free from the evil of manifestation, for he is The Good, which excludes "nothingness made manifest"--evil and deprivation.

So, how can the source of it all have a problem like evil. I guess it could only happen in a sort of limbo unreality within God, a sort of throwing out of Being from essence and further into manifestation, which fulfills the view that God is all possibility, even if it means Being's own contradiction, nothingness.

I'm still learning how to think metaphysically, and so, there's got to be metaphysical holes somewhere in the above written. I don't have time to pursue it further, though. Work beckons.

cam said...

It would be the strangest thing that ever happened, and then what if...

"The doctrine of Christ's divinity is the central Christian doctrine, for it is like a skeleton key that opens all the others. Christians have not independently reasoned out and tested each of the teachings of Christ received via Bible and Church, but believe them all on his authority. For if Christ is divine, He can be trusted to be infallible in everything He said, even hard things like exalting suffering and poverty, forbidding divorce, giving his Church the authority to teach and forgive sins in his name, warning about hell (very often and very seriously), instituting the scandalous sacrament of eating his flesh—we often forget how many "hard sayings" he taught!

When the first Christian apologists began to give a reason for the faith that was in them to unbelievers, this doctrine of Christ's divinity naturally came under attack, for it was almost as incredible to Gentiles as it was scandalous to Jews. That a man who was born out of a woman's womb and died on a cross, a man who got tired and hungry and angry and agitated and wept at his friend's tomb, that this man who got dirt under his fingernails should be God was, quite simply, the most astonishing, incredible, crazy-sounding idea that had ever entered the mind of man in all human history..."

read the rest here,

NoMo said...

Cam - "a wedding invitation". I love it. Nice link.

walt said...

Finally was able to read today's post at 5 in the afternoon.

Bob, you just make too much sense(!?)

coonified said...

I was just trying to find common ground between the trinity and the phenomenology of modern psychology. Guess I'm on my own with this one Magnus. A thought for another day.

(?!) said...

Explain "coonified", if you would.

at in la said...

"I'm not one of those people who limit Christ to Christianity"

Me neither. But there really isn't such thing as Christianity. Only Christ and His Church. His authenticity and authority, or not. For each of us, we are able to receive what we are disposed to receive, and that is the rub. He is who he claimed to be and rose from the dead, or the whole thing is a sham with some nice teachings and miracles thrown in. And that's not my opinion or position, but the claim put forward to us all.

I believe there are close to 60, 000 groups/sects/denominations that might all label themselves as "Christian", but many hold central beliefs that are opposed to one another. This is clearly impossible and it's no wonder people who are reluctant about it and even the word Christian get, as Bob would say, the Jesus willies when a lot of what passes for Christianity has little to do with Christ.

Obviously even in my own faulty way, my wording or unintentional tonality may cause some to go, here we go again, another naive "Christian". But all I would say, is look into it yourself. It's a big claim. It's very unique to human kind and our history. We are all imperfect and faulty souls. Don't let the "Christian" be the stumbling block to Christ.


Golem14 said...

"I believe it was Gil Bailie (following the work of Rene Girard) who said that human sacrifice is "unanimity minus one," which is as close as human beings can get to total agreement on the horizontal plane (his book is highly recommended). "

That sentence gave me the chills because it suddenly conjured up an image of Winston Smith in "1984". I forget the exact words, but I think that both he and O'Brien mentioned the idea of a madman being a minority of one-- and since the Party was trying to wipe out that sort of 'madness', Winston ended up becoming a sacrifice to Big Brother... I'm going to have to go back and re-read the book in that light.

coonified said...


Maybe I should change it. Seems to rube people the wrong way.

NoMo said...

at - Well said. Perhaps the king of all "mind parasites" is rationalization. By our nature we either rationalize our inevitable faults (sin) into some structure and social group - little c church - so as to continue in apparent comfort...or we accept that, in the end (actually every moment) there is only me and my Maker in the room. Our accountability is to Him, no one else. Although absolutely just, He is also absolutely loving to have removed all my reasons to rationalize - if I will but accept.

julie said...

Coonified, you could be The Raccoon Formerly Known As Coonified, or TRFKAC :) Of course, if (?!) is objecting on grounds that Coonified might be a slur of some kind, then clearly (?!) doesn't gno the terminology, and should educate him/herself before ascribing false meanings. For is it not said that once you go Racc you never go back? (Uh, it isn't? - my bad!) How about, once the Raccoon has been unMasked, you can't squeeze it back in the tube? Hmm - no, that doesn't sound quite right either...
Or you could just go by Raccoonified. Though I suspect that some folks would be prepared to take offense at that, too. What's a black-masked furball to do?

Mizz E said...

"Seems to rube people the wrong way."

Only the rubes.


(?!) said...

Just asking for a definition and why someone would choose that moniker for themself.

And Julie,
Before I can ascribe false meaning, it would be nice to know what the meaning is; Coonified?