Saturday, June 14, 2008

Intelligent Dasein

Here are a couple of posts from two years ago which I have combined. I would categorize this material as deeply redundant for long-time readers, so feel free to take the day off! File under Pearls Before Swine.

Dasein: the kind of existence that self-conscious human beings uniquely possess.

Horizontal folks -- flatland materialists, secular pneumapaths, left-brainers, MENSA members, et al -- love to sneer at religion and exalt the superiority of science or mere reason in understanding the world. But when they do this, they always deal with a caricature of religion based upon their own limited horizontal understanding. In this regard, they are very much like children or primitive people who cannot transcend their narrow cognitive horizons, and mock what they do not understand. As Dr. John Lennox said in his debate with Richard Dawkins, "I don't believe in the God you disbelieve in." While man, so long as he is a man, cannot help being religious, it is nevertheless striking how passionately Dawkins believes in his silly little anti-god.

It was said by someone that secular philosophy involves “a journey of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing.” It is interesting that 2500 years of thought has produced no consensus at all regarding even the most basic understanding of existence. Don’t get me wrong -- there is much to be gained from studying the great philosophers, if only because you can enter the mind of a formidable intellect attempting to grapple with the meaning of existence. But there is no purely human philosophy that cannot be disproven by another clever philosopher. [I would now say that philosophy inhabits a "middle area" between science and theology; if placed in this context, it can obviously be quite useful.]

In the final analysis, all of the philosophies devised by man are more or less failures. They all fall short in some critical way. Either they begin with unwarranted assumptions that cannot be justified by their philosophy -- i.e., they start at second base without having earned the right to be on first -- or they cut off their philosophy at an arbitrary point. If philosophy consists of “asking why,” they simply stop asking why at a certain juncture and then call it complete.

But no form of horizontal thought can be complete, for self-evident reasons. The divine plenitude spills over into reality like rays from the central sun. Various philosophers describe one of the rays but ignore the sun. The individual rays have their own relative validity, but none is ultimately superior or inferior to the others. This is why there is no agreement among the greatest philosophical minds that have ever lived -- indeed, they are often polar oppostes, such as realism vs. materialism or empiricism vs. rationalism.

Philosophy and science try to understand the sun by studying the rays, which is precisely why they generate metaphysical paradox and confusion. On the other hand, to study religion is to study the properties of the sun. Religion deals with perennial truths about the sun that cannot not be true, which is why it is so easy to prove the existence of God. It is much more difficult to prove how it is that humans can exist. However, once you understand the nature of the sun, this becomes possible as well. As a matter of fact, our mysterious inwardness -- our divine-human consciousness -- is one of the inevitable results of the eternal sun’s very nature, which is to spill over into time and share its absolute being with its various middling relativities.

Religion gives the name “God” to the knowable aspect of this divine sun. But just like everything else, humans can only know what they can know. Since we exist in the relative, any view of the absolute is necessarily going to be partial and incomplete. Even to “see the face of God” is nevertheless to see a “relative absolute,” because there is something behind the face we cannot see; behind the Son is the Father, so to speak. Since it is transcendent it is no-thing, but since it is immanent it is everything. It just depends on how you look or unlook at it.

Science can never account for the scientist, that is, for the human subject capable of knowing real truth. Again, it simply assumes the existence of truth-bearing scientists, as if this is not deeply philosophically problematic. How can the watered-down evolution of reductionistic Darwinism ever account for that? It can only pretend to do so, again, by confusing the rays with the sun. But to understand Darwinism is to have transcended it.

In order for relative existence to exist, the One must be split down the middle. Ultimately there is only God and God’s reflection, Creator and creation. The more distant from God, the more dim the reflection. Rumor has it that human beings are in the image of the Creator. Of course, the image is not the reality, it is only a four-dimensional facsimian. Religion as a verb involves transforming this image into a hyper-dimensional likeness. To intuit the image is to be called. To actualize it is to be born again. To become it is to die. Good riddance!

To know Truth is to die a little. Day by day, little by little, we must die. In order to live.


Now, is it possible for religion to pose anything more than a rearguard action against the inevitable transformation of man from homo religiosus to homo scientificus? In the West, science so dominates our way of looking at the world that perhaps we don't realize the magnitude of the spiritual revolution (or devolution) this has entailed. While I endorse science (almost) without reservation, I do worry about its deleterious effect on the human soul when it is absurdly elevated to a metaphysic. To me, it is simply self-evident that the infrahuman metaphysic of reductionistic Darwinism, if embraced by all people, would eventually spell the end of Man as Such.

There are, of course, people who wish to keep science and religion entirely separate, which has the practical effect of elevating the scientistic worldview to a default state religion. On the other side are people who wish to conflate science and religion, which can end up debasing both. As I have said before, I am a believer in “intelligent design” for the same reason I am a believer in intelligence period. It is simply a necessary consequence of the existence of the Divine Intellect. In other words, I would never try to prove the existence of God through intelligent design; rather, vice versa. Obviously the world is uniquely intelligible to man's transcendent intellect.

But this is metaphysics, not science, and should not be taught as such, because it is higher than science, obviously not on the same low material plane. The problem is, Darwinism should be taught as science, not metaphysics, but virtually all of the middlebrow atheistic activists absurdly elevate it to a quasi-religious metaphysic that is logically self-refuting at every turn. In turn -- and I have noticed this, for example, in many threads at LGF -- militant atheists do indeed confuse Darwinism with metaphysics, and blindly defend it with the same belligerence as any "fundamentalist." Light simply cannot break through their hardened defenses.

It is true that there would be no atheists if all men were capable of understanding metaphysics. As pure truth, metaphysics is aimed at the nous, not the distorted and hypertrophied reasoning mind of the contemporary intellectual. Truth is true despite what may be proved or disproved with mere reason, which is a mechanical form of thought limited to drawing conclusions from premises. It has its place, but one of them is not the realm of primordial Truth per se. It is a banality to point out that the most important truths cannot be proved with reason. That doesn't make them any less true.

Tradition willfully attempts to maintain a purified faith in the teeth of the predations of a misguided scientism. There are certain particularly elevated and/or simple souls for whom this will suffice. But that probably represents less than two percent of the population on the high end, and perhaps a quarter of the population on the low end. That leaves at least seventy percent of the population generally spiritually adrift and untouched by metaphysical truth. How to reach them? For whatever reason, they have lost contact with the natural simplicity and nobility of their souls, so religion properly so-called no longer speaks to them as it was intended to. Thus they drift into materialism, or hedonism, or its twin sister, new-age spiritualism, with no grounding in the intrinsic meaning provided by authentic revelation and grace.

There is absolutely no contradiction between science and this latter form of religion, for they simply address different levels of reality. Religion easily accommodates science, while the reverse can never be true. Religion accommodates science for the same reason that our minds do. For our minds are designed to know truth, pure and simple, whether it is empirical truth, rational truth, artistic truth, moral truth, or metaphysical truth. Intelligence itself is prior to what it knows, and what it knows is truth (otherwise, “knowledge” is a meaningless, even absurd term). Therefore, intelligence is truth itself implanted within our soul.

As much as I respect tradition, I am very concerned about it reducing itself to a simple fideism, or faith, rather than appealing directly to the higher intellect. Again, there are gifted and simple people for whom this will suffice, but the great middling masses -- leftist dominated academia, the creators and purveyors of popular culture, media elites in the MSMistry of Truth -- entirely miss the boat in this regard. They are just intelligent enough to reject religion but not intelligent enough to understand it, and they obviously exercise a huge, dominant influence over the culture at large. How to win that battle?

The fact of the matter is that modernity has brought with it certain positive and undeniably precious developments, such as the sanctity of the individual and all this implies -- liberty, democracy, free markets, etc. But at the same time, a new kind of religion -- or rather, different inflection of the perennial religion -- is required for this new kind of person. This religion must be more inward because we have become more inward. In other words, cosmic evolution doesn’t just take place outwardly but inwardly, on the "subjective horizon." As a matter of fact, it is this evolution of the interior horizon that has always been the concern of religion, even if and when religion did not explicitly recognize it.

I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit it now, but when I began the task of writing my book, I thought that I was going to have to invent a new religion. In my hubris, I thought, well, times have changed, and we know so much more now than we did when the original revelations were handed down. What if we could design a new religion now, based upon everything we know about the universe?

It is actually a measure of God’s grace that my attempt to do this ultimately led me in exactly the opposite direction and saved me from trying to be L. Bob Gagdad. In all humility, I do believe this is because I approached the endeavor in all humility. In other words, I was motivated solely by the humble pursuit of truth, wherever it led me. There were no commercial motivations whatsoever (although it is probably another measure of God's grace that my publisher only later discovered this bitter economic reality). As a matter of fact -- I shouldn’t say this, but here goes -- I practiced meditation every day during the course of writing the book, and in so doing prayed for two things only: light, or understanding, and the ability to express it.

Now, I’m not nearly grandiose enough to say I succeeded (I won't presume to speak for Petey). Since the process is ongoing, there are a lot of little things I would now say differently in the book, and perhaps someday I'll re-read it and spell those out. But that’s not the point I’m trying to make. What I am saying is that if you really want to deeply understand religion -- and therefore, yourself -- you can. That’s what it’s here for. It’s not meant to be opaque, or absurd, or primitive, or outdated. Rather, no matter how intelligent or sophisticated you think you are, that kind of superficial intelligence really doesn't reach down (or up) to the deepest (or highest) part of your being. Religion expresses truths that cannot be proved in the ordinary way, for the simple reason that Truth is its own proof. Ultimately you do not comprehend it. It comprehends you. And that is a daily mirrorcle.

Further reading by a philosopher of science who gets it:

Friday, June 13, 2008

Combining Heavenly Know-How with Down to Earth Be-Who

Picking up where we lifted off yesterday, how does one realize what one knows and integrate what one has experienced of the Divine? As I mentioned in the Coonifesto, it's easy enough to have spiritual experiences (!?), but how do we make them "stick," or transform them from transient states into stable traits, or (¶)?

It's easy. We don't. Nor could we ever do so, any more than we could build a tree or grow a carrot or bake a creative thought from scratch. Philalethes: "The whole process which we employ closely resembles that followed by Nature in the bowels of the earth, except that it is much shorter." Think of a baby that grows up into a normal civilized human being. In so doing, he is compressing 13.7 billion years of cosmic evolution into 20 or 30 years. But why stop at normality? Why not go "all the way?"

Really, all we can do is create the conditions, and then get out of the way of the same energies that turned dirt into Dostoyevsky or mud into Mozart or sh** into Shakespeare -- which is what "right living" is all about. It reminds me of when people "try" to get pregnant. Often it only happens after they've given up. I've even heard it said that it's not uncommon for people to adopt a child, thinking they'll never get pregnant, only to become pregnant once they've given up hope.

I can't tell you how hopeless I am. No (temporal) ambition at all. No hope that things will ever change. No glorious ideas of a better future. Besides, now that everyone is famous, anonymity is the new celebrity. It's enough that I'm famous in the tiny Coonosphere. Anything beyond that would be infamy. "Let not him who desires this knowledge for the purpose of procuring wealth and pleasure think that he will ever attain to it" (The Sophic Hydrolith). I only ask: be it thy will that we be kept still knowing and loving thee, and that we may never fall away from this blest way of life (Hermes).

In my utterly hopeless condition, I try only to burrow more deeply into the present, and again, let the rest take care of the rust. Call it blind I AMbition. Let the dead bury the dead, and let the unborn.... let them do whatever they need to do to become born, but certainly don't abort them or feed them steroids. I don't put them on a timetable. They'll arrive at their own pace, so long as I take care of my deportment, which is to fertilize the present. In fact, Christian hope paradoxically arises specifically from a kind of liberating hopelessness about this world. To place your hope in the world is to misplace it. Thus the intrinsically luciferian nature of the Obama phenomenon (luciferian is not necessarily satanic; it is more the perversion of light, as opposed to its absence).

I live very simply, because a complicated life begins to place barriers between yourself and human reality, or your feet and the ground. At the moment, I'm reviewing the section in The Spiritual Ascent entitled Integration, and it has many helpful pointers along these lines. Again, you will find that the insights are universal and that they apply to all traditions, since each tradition is "composed" of Truth as such. Being that they are Timelessly True, they are as invariant vis-a-vis the human realm as the Platonic truths of mathematics are with regard to the physical plane.

For example, Hujwiri tells us from across the centuries that "the Sufi is he whose thought keeps pace with his foot, i.e., he is entirely present: his soul is where his body is, and his body is where his soul is, and his soul is where his foot is, and his foot is where his soul is. This is the sign of presence without absence."

Like so many passages in this book, this is the whole teaching boiled down to a single phrase. You could identify any number of biblical passages that say the same thing in a slightly different way, and I'm sure Nomo will. But let's stand back and look at the big picture: what is the whole point of Christianity? It is that God took on mankind, that the Ultimate Principle, the Absolute, is present here in the human flesh.

But it's one thing to "know" this, something else entirely to realize it. This is why the saints are so important, for they are the realization, or earthly fulfillment, of the doctrine. In turn, this is why we learn more from them by "watching them tie their boot-laces" than from their words per se; or, bear in mind that their communications will always consist of "words and music," and that one must have an ear attuned to the latter to gain the full benefit from the former. Or, put it this way: the truth can be told in such a way as to become a lie, due to the unworthiness of the container. Again, the dreadful Deepak Chopra comes to mind.

By the way, one reason I was attracted to Sri Aurobindo was that his philosophy is very much this worldly. Enlightenment must not only take place in the body, but it must transform the body, i.e., recalcitrant matter, which is "resistant" to being spiritualized, so to speak. Again, think of how easy it is to have a spiritual experience "above" the body. But when you come back down, you're left with the same unreformed physical being, i.e., certain dense and mindless patterns that seem "opaque" to the light.

It's much, much more challenging to just be a regular guy in this world, and to sharpen your realization against the rocks of adversity. This is why I never trust "professional gurus" who not only don't have a real job, but are very likely unemployable due to the extent of their cosmic narcissism. Jesus was a carpenter. He worked with his hands and with natural materials. If you meet the Buddha on the road, first take a look at his hands. If you don't see callouses, or at least some dirt under the fingernails -- worse yet, if you see a manicure -- walk away.

This is why it was so easy for me to see the parallels between Aurobindo and Christianity, because in a way, Aurobindo is Vedanta with a Christian twist, while esoteric Christianity is a sort of "Christian yoga." In both cases, the focus is again on embodiment. The point is not to "escape" this embodiment, but to incarnate fully. Our incarnation is God's.... I don't know what the word would be, but it is analogous to saying that our inspiration is his expiration. God exwholes into us, we inwhole God, and this is how we oxidize the blood that courses through the arteries of the cosmos. Real Men take their realization into marriage, into child rearing, into work, into the constant battle that is this world. The world is a test that never ends. Like Michael Jordan, God puts his shorts on one leg at a time, despite his incredible vertical leap.

Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Here again, there is the upper vertical and the lower vertical, the celestial and the terrestrial, spirit and body, heaven and earth. It's easy enough for God's will to be done "above," where it is done "automatically," so to speak. The trick is how we allow it to be done in the herebelow, for there are many layers of influence between the top and bottom. Again, it's more a matter of getting out of the way, isn't it? Benjamin Whichcote: "Our Conversation is in Heaven, according to the Measure and Degree of our present State and Condition.... When we set ourselves to do the Will of God here, then Heaven is come down into the World..."

We mustn't wait until we are dead. Meister Eckhart: "This may well happen while the soul is in the body. I say more: while yet in the body a soul may reach oblivion of its travail not to remember it again." In other words, there can be a kind of egobliteration and "resurrection" in this life, or at least its "first fruits." For any transcendence is evidence of all transcendence, which is to say transcendence of all -- which is another way of saying resurrection, or at least rebirth.

William Law: "What could man have to do with the perfection of God as the rule of his life, unless the truth and reality of the divine nature was in him?" The Russian Pilgrim: "It is possible for man to get back to that primitive contemplative state in which he issued from the hands of his Creator." Why? Because you weren't issued in the past; rather, you are issued afresh each moment. You know, make your resurrections in advance, and don't forget your peaceport.... De-part and bewholed like in them seers' dialogues of old, then aim your eros for the heart of the world!

Hakuin goes even further -- it's not only senseless to wait until death for the tome of your life, but it is the most culpable negligence. It's a kind of philosophical malpractice. It's worse than a crime, it is a cosmic blunder.

Nope. "He that beholds the sun of righteousness arising upon the horizon of his soul with healing in its wings, and chasing away all that misty darkness" -- such a regular feller cares not "to pry into heaven's secrets, and to search the hidden rolls of eternity, there to see the whole plot of his salvation; for he views it transacted upon the inward stage of his own soul, and reflecting upon himself, he may behold a heaven opened from within, and a throne set up in his soul, and an almighty Saviour sitting upon it, and reigning within him.... It is not an airy speculation of heaven as a thing to come that can satisfy his hungry desires, but the real possession of it even in this life" (John Smith the Platonist).

Amen for a child's job! (And vice versa.)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Memos to Mysoph on Knowledge and Being

I finally finished The Spiritual Ascent last weekend, at which time I planted the Raccoon colors and am now just enjoying the view. In my opinion, it really picks up steam in the latter two thirds of the book, which is understandable, since the first third of the book deals more with the hard work of purification -- including a guided tour of the various dimensions of hell -- while the remainder deals with the big prayoff of illumination and union. This post is more for my benefit, as I'd like to just free associate on some of the themes and quotations in order to better deepen and assimilate them. Just remember, free association is free, so you get what you pay for.

As an aside, it is remarkable to me how much of the book is highlighted. As I look back through it, I rarely highlighted things that were new to me -- like a historical fact of which I was unaware. Rather, in nearly every case, it was simply the recognition of something I already knew. What makes this remarkable is that, in the spiritual realm, we are obviously dealing with a supposedly "subjective" and totally non-empirical space. And yet, this space turns out to be as reliably objective as the lower orders of reality -- in fact, more so, since scientific theories come and go and undergo constant changes, whereas the perennial wisdom, by definition, never changes.

The weirdness of this is insufficiently grasped by human beings, in large part due to the fact that the average contemporary human is so alienated from this hyper-real reality. And the foolish people who have no contact with this realm are ironically the ones with the most confidence that they are grounded in "reality," as our trolls never stop proving. As a fired up Philo -- the "Jewish Plato" -- said, they are "laden with vanity and gross stupidity and vast pretense, you that are wise in your own conceit!" Yes, you who "spin your airy fables" about existence! Why, I orta!

In my book, I made reference to the "subjectively objective" nature of this realm, although I managed to convey it in a page or two instead of 1,100. Wait a minute, let me look it up.... Here it is -- page 192: "While it may seem presumptuous to refer to spiritual 'facts,' all esoteric traditions -- from the early desert fathers, to the Vedic seers, to Tibetan Buddhist monks -- speak of a trans-empirical realm [n] corresponding to our inner spiritual intuition [¶] that is as real as the empirical realm that answers to our five outward senses.... While there are, of course, different scriptures and theologies, these must be understood as multiple views of a hyper-dimensional, trans-human manifold irreducible to a single exterior formula." Yeah, boy!

Or page 203: "Truth, if it is actually Truth, is beyond any single expression of it, and yet, present in each of its expressions. If something is true, it is universal and compels our assent.... In point of fact, Truth is inexhaustible, flowing as it does from the direction of the Absolute (which is beyond image and form) into the relativity of formal language." In turn, this is why "absolute Truth is ultimately concrete and not symbolic, in fact, the most concrete experience available to mortals." The symbols merely point the way to what is clearly beyond them (which is true of all symbols). Boo-yah!

I then go on to quote a number of authorities -- and had I been aware of The Spiritual Ascent at the time, I could have cited thousands more! -- but Aurobindo summarizes it as well as anyone: "It is a fact that yogic experience runs everywhere on the same lines.... admittedly, we are dealing with a many-sided Infinite to which there are and must be many ways of approach; but yet the broad lines are the same everywhere and the intuitions, experiences, phenomena are the same in ages and countries far apart from each other and systems practiced quite independently from each other.... That would seem to show that there is something there identical, universal and presumably true -- however the colour of the translation may differ because of the difference of mental language." Ho!

If The Spiritual Ascent doesn't prove Aurobindo's point -- over and over and over again, with extraordinary specificity -- then there is no proof (at least for you, pal). For example, the reality of this "many-sided Infinite" is far more certain than the metaphysically rootless and intellectually sterile speculations of reductionistic Darwinism. Truly, only a deeply anti-intellectual person could possibly believe such nonsense, bearing in mind, as always, that we are referring to the intellect properly-so-called (i.e., the illuminated nous), not to the contemporary caricature of mere intellectualism, i.e., those whose lack of wisdom is only matched by their pomposity and bovine absence of curiosity.

Indeed, here is a fine quote by Plato that describes the essential problem with such people: "I must first know myself; to be curious about that which is not my concern, while I am still in ignorance of my own self, would be ridiculous." This is manifestly true of the higher realms: "I say, no man knows God who knows not himself first" (Eckhart). "The high peak of knowledge is perfect self-knowledge" (Richard of Saint-Victor). "If a man knows himself, he shall know God" (Clement of Alexandria). "No one can be saved without self-knowledge" (St. Bernard). "Woof!" (another St. Bernard).

To turn this formulation around, what it means ipso facto is that the atheist does not know himself -- which is why, baseballically speaking, it is such an inadequate "stance," being that it starts on second base with no explanation of how it got -- or how human beings could possibly ever get -- to first. Any "philosopher" who tries to inform you about the nature of reality without first explaining the nature of the mind that may supposedly disclose the nature of reality, is simply talking through his ass. We know it. They never will.

In this regard, the naively reductionistic and self-refuting Darwinists probably bottom out the scale. For they have inverted the cosmic situation, precisely: "Thou believest thyself to be nothing, and yet it is in thee that the world resides" (Avicenna). To them, we say "Woof!"; for they are barking up the right tree, except that it is upside-down, so that they are howling at the wind-blown leaves and branches instead of the stable root. The cosmic caravan shall pass them by!

Lao Tse: "He who knows others is wise; He who knows himself is enlightened."

Yea, let us bobnoxiously add: he who knows neither is an idiot, properly-so-called (idiot being related to the Latin, "without possession of oneself").

And again, this is a special kind of knowledge, very much unlike the knowledge of mere material reality. For as Eckhart wrote, "In the case of God, being and knowing are identical." But on this point, Christianity converges with the Upanishads: "If there were no elements of being, there would be no elements of intelligence. Verily, if there were no elements of intelligence, there would be no elements of being." Sat-chit-ananda, or being-knowledge-bliss. That's what it's all about, baby.

Obviously, the cold-dead hand of abstract scientific knowledge extracts knowing from being (and life from Truth), which is precisely why it is always one or more steps removed from reality, or at least half-dead. Religion is about the "recovery of being" -- or of O -- and of real "knowledge of being," or what a Raccoon calls O-->(n). In this context, the following statement by Schuon is quite lucid: "If our 'being' must become 'knowing,'... our 'knowing' must become 'being'; if in place of 'existing' it is necessary to 'discern,' it is necessary, in place of 'thinking,' to 'realize.'"

Which is why a famous Jewish scholar approached the sage "not to learn Torah from him but to watch him tie his boot-laces." Why? Because the sage has become the Torah, so to speak, and radiates it from every pore. He is indeed "word made flesh," if one may put it thus. Petey, of course, wears no shoes. But if he did, know that they would be both fashionable and comfortable, sensible and stylish.

Perry makes an important point, that "Realization itself is not within reach of the volitive faculties, it being rather a matter of ripeness and maturity -- volition of course being presupposed." In other words you must give it all your effort -- body, mind, and soul -- while knowing full well that the discontinuous alchemical transformation cannot take place in the absence of grace, and that there is simply no common measure between the preluminary effort put forth and the light-filled gifts received. You might even say that the effort is one of the "first fruits" of the grace!

However, what is realized must then be integrated and assimilated. This is the ongoing conversion of knowledge to being, and vice versa, until the two are One. Might as well save that for tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Binocular Cosmic Vision and the Expansion of Mental Space (6.06.09)

We've posted on this subject in the past -- which is to say, when the mind expands, what does it expand into? To the extent that the mind exists, does it have an edge? And what does the edge shade off into? And what exactly expands? The content? The space? Or is it simply the density of connectedness? If so, how do ideas link together in the scaffolding of the mind?

Yes, this sounds like an airy-fairy subject, but as a matter of fact, it comes into play in the nature of my work in forensic psychology. For example, exactly what is a "psychiatric injury?" I am routinely asked to answer this unanswerable question. If you actually think about it in a deep way, it's a bit like assessing the damage to a cloud caused by bumping into another cloud. What caused the cloud's injury? What did the cloud look like before the accident? Was it a fully functioning cloud, a cumulonimbus? Would it have eventually produced rain, or was it merely a worthless cirrus cloud? Were there other causes? Apportion exact percentages to all the causes. Were 51% of the causes related to the injury in question?

It's madness. This, by the way, is why I know that liberals are demagoging (if that's how you spell it) the veterans-with-PTSD issue. As we already know, liberals can only relate to the military if they can convert them to victims. The diagnosis of PTSD is perfect in this regard, as it can magically convert virtually all combat veterans into victims of PTSD, being that war is intrinsically traumatic.

Now, as it so happens, over the past two decades, I've dealt with any number of cases of PTSD. And while the diagnosis is real, it is almost always a transient condition that eventually resolves on its own, especially if the person was healthy to begin with. In my experience, the only exceptions to this have been people who had significant pre-existing psychiatric issues.

To put it bluntly, they were not particularly well put together to begin with. Thus, you sometimes hear the liberal media report stories of "gross injustice," because a vet was denied benefits on the "pretext" of having a pre-existing mental condition, often a personality disorder. But if I were the evaluating doctor, I can well imagine arriving at the identical conclusion: Sorry. This guy was nuts to begin with. PTSD is the least of their problems. It's somewhat like calling someone "homeless," when that is a "final common pathway" to a host of other personal issues.

Anyway. That's a liberal for you. Always speaking naked power to Truth and comforting or patronizing lies to the powerless. Or, you could say that liberalism is a systematic way to convert good impulses into bad ones through a defective ideology -- in particular, compassion into cruelty. It is the mirror image of the free market, which converts supposedly "bad" impulses into mutually beneficial outcomes. For example, when I check my email in the morning, I see that there are dozens of people from all over the world who care deeply about my, er, sexual functioning. Only in a market economy can greed be converted into worldwide concern with another man's privates. It's touching, really.

Yes, you could say I'm just rambling, waiting for some thoughts to attract my thinker. Toots used to call it ad homena homena homena, or
"speaking in raccoon tongues." Superficially it sounds like pointless speech, but it does have a destination toward which we are dimly groping.

Let's look at some notes to myself that I've recently scrawled. Maybe that will help get this thing off the ground: What kind of space is the mind? If it is holographic and multi-dimensional, we need a language that parallels that fact, or it will mislead. What does it imply about the nature of mental space to say that something is deep? Or what does it mean to say "the other side?" Is what we see a projection of mental space? Or is psychic space the internalization of external space?

Let's look at it this way. The only reason we experience mental space at all is because we live at the intersection of the vertical and horizontal. This is what it means to be "bi-cosmic." If we lived only in the former, we would be like the angels, who abide in this static, archetypal, eternal space. If we lived only in the latter, we would be like animals and lower humans, who essentially live on the surface of the senses. But the differing vertices of the vertical and horizontal axes create a new kind of space, similar to the way our two eyes, which have slightly different angles, create binocular vision, or our two ears create the possibility of the three-dimensional stereo image.

Here again, this might sound overly abstract, but it really isn't, as it is the stock-in-trade of the psychoanalyst. As I've mentioned before, we talk about the "unconscious mind" as if it were a sort of reservoir, or fluid ocean, that lies "beneath" the solid and dependable ego. But obviously, that is merely a spacial metaphor borrowed from our experience of the external world. In reality, the situation is much more like one of those blinky toys (is that what they're called?), where if you turn it at a different angle, a different picture appears. The unconscious is analogous to this, in that it is "embedded" in every conscious act; you could say that the unconscious is "in" the ego, and vice versa.

That being the case, the same thing apples to the higher realms. They are always here, but we must "tweak" the picture and look at it from a slightly different angle for it to "jump out." And if you want to do this on a continuous basis, you need to practice it -- which is what a spiritual practice is all about!

For example, I don't think I could ever be an Orthodox Jew, partly because I think you need to be immersed in the culture and exposed to it from an early age by people who experience and convey the joy of it. But the whole point of all the laws and rituals is just this: to try to look at virtually everything "from the divine angle." It is a kind of karma yoga that involves the constant recollection of God in most every activity. Thus, it shouldn't feel burdensome, but liberating; far from being restrictive, it should open one out to a much "deeper" or "higher" space. But if the living spirit is lost and only the letter remains, one can well understand how it could become about as joyful as Michelle Obama.

Frithjof Schuon often spoke of what has been lost with modernity, in particular, a kind of collective "spirit" that we can scarcely imagine today, partly because we are so distracted and even hypnotized by our conveniences. But as hard as life was in the past, there is no evidence whatsoever that people were any less happy than we are today. In fact, there is reason to believe that they were actually more content in spite of it all. I think of how Judaism survived down through the centuries despite being so persecuted. Why not just abandon it? Again, there must have been such a supernatural payoff, that we have difficulty wrapping our minds around it today. The same can be said for the early Christian martyrs.

To paraphrase something Theodore Dalrymple once said, "misery rises to the level of the means available to alleviate it," which is an ironyclad law that liberals will never understand, for to understand it is to instantly liberate oneself from the magical prescriptions of liberalism. Of course the implementation of liberal policy only results in more greed, more bitterness, more envy, more sexual conflict, more of a sense of entitlement. But the prescription is always more of the same, which then creates the need for.... more of the same!

Clearly, despite the "war on poverty," there is more envy and bitterness today than there was in the 1950s, when conditions were immeasurably worse. A "poor" person today lives beyond the dreams of an affluent person in the 1950s, but it doesn't matter so long as one lives in the single vision of flatland liberalism, divorced from the liberating vertical energies that cause one's world to expand without limits.

As Perry describes it, the vertical axis is the only real "exit" from the burden of existence. Have you ever noticed how you feel "lighter" after a religious service? It's because you are lighter. I used to attend services at the Vedanta temple in Hollywood, and wouldn't pay to much attention to the words. Rather, I would just close my eyes and focus on the sensation of vertical liftoff.

The vertical passage is God's way "in" to manifestation, and our way "out." Or, you could say that God's expiration is our inspiration. I actually practice this consciously; when I meditate, I imagine that my inhalation corresponds to God's exhalation, and vice versa. There is a reason why spirit and breath are synonymous in the esoteric literature. When you inhale, take it all the way from the crown of head down to the heels, and when you exhale, pour it from your heart and out the top of your head while repeating the name of your favorite saint or deity.

That's it for today. Off to earn my daily bread in cloud-cuckoo land.

I've looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It's cloud illusions I recall
I really dont know clouds at all
--Joni Mitchell

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

And God Said, "Let There be Atheists!"

The entire Universe is condensed in the body, and the entire body in the heart. Thus the heart is the nucleus of the whole Universe. --Sri Ramana Maharshi

As we were saying yesterday, the cosmos is within the soul, not vice versa. This is another way of saying that the soul is the final cause of the cosmos, or that the cosmos is structured vertically from the top down. "In the formula 'I am the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last,' alpha is the symbol of the divine man, or Divinity, before his fall into matter; and omega is the symbol of the perfected man" who has regained spiritual consciousness. Thus, as Boehme wrote, "The seventh day of creation is the origin and beginning of the first."

When we say that the world is created, we -- at least Jake and I, and probably Will -- mean that it is a vertical emanation of the sovereign Good, which is what it means to to say that the sun and stars are allegheirically moved by love, or that evil is a deprivation of the Good, or that beauty is an echo of the creation, etc. Nothing quintessentially human can be understood "from the bottom up," for there is no unity there, only diversity, and man is fundamentally a little unity-in-diversity capable of mirroring the great diversity-in-Unity. Or, man is woven of diversity and unity at that intersection of the Cross we were discussing yesterday, as he gathers all of existence into the heart -- which is ultimately His heart. This is both a collection and re-collection, or a joyful reunion of Father and Son. Which is also why this Cross is a Throne.

To quote Eckhart, "When I saw into myself I saw God in me and everything God ever made in earth and heaven.... The narrowest of the powers of my soul is more than heaven wide. To say nothing of the intellect wherein there is measureless space..." Again, the scientific atheist believes this no less than the theist, i.e., that his mind is a mirror of reality. If he didn't believe in this mirrorcle, then why would he even bother to listen to his own babbling and take it seriously? Obviously he believes that he may know reality. It is just that, for whatever reason, he severely delimits the nature of reality, including the subject who is central to knowing it. Only man gets to name the animals, even if he is a Darwinian who will never know how he does it. Every plane of manifestation is a plane of Intellect, and knowing total truth requires participation of man's total being, including, body, mind and spirit -- or will, sentiment, and intellect.

The "beyond-comprehension" is the foundation of truth, before the one Truth bifurcates into a knower and known. This is inverted by scientific atheists, who also root truth in ignorance, except that it is a total ignorance from below instead of a blinding light from above. The gap between matter and Truth is infinite if one tries to get there from the bottom up. But if we look at existence from the right side up, then the truth -- and divine life and conscious light -- embedded in matter are not only comprehensible, but necessary and inevitable. Indeed, Truth is true because it is inevitable, or it would not be truth but relativity. Conscious Truth must be, or there could be no manifested cosmos.

This conscious truth is a paradoxical (but not really) combination of total freedom and absolute necessity: "In the Godhead itself, the most perfect freedom and the most absolute necessity are joined together in a Marriage, to which the whole Heavens and Earth, with unutterable joy [ananda-bliss], sing eternal Marriage Songs." (Which is why we say that the matterimanyall gift of existence was totally unnarcissary on God's part.)

Here comes the bride, all dressed in white! She is pure sophia-wisdom, waiting to be impregnated by the word-light of eternal truth. Or, you could say that existence is the marriage-play of Absolute (1) and Infinite (0), or Purusha and Prakriti-maya, or form and substance, or wave and particle, or sun and moon, or cats & chicks, or Adam & Evolution.

Let us further confound the unworthy, and throw them off the trail! Brahma, when purusha comes to shiva with an unmentionable demiurge (the unspoken Word), how Lo can He go? How about all the way inside-out and upside down, a vidy long descent indeed to the farthest reaches of sorrow and ignorance?

So never ask why people are sad and stupid, for such a realm "must needs be" in a cosmos made of intelligence and joy, just as bitter and envious liberals must exist in the most affluent nation in the history of the world. The Divine Ray does not arbitrarily stop, but, like the man said, descends all the way down. As Will has mentioned a number of times, thank God we have the coagulation of matter to keep most of us from plunging all the way to the bottom! Indeed, this is what keeps most, but not all, atheists out of real trouble, i.e., the Eternal Church of Dumb and Blind Matter.

It is true, O ringtailed ones! I don't want to get sidetracked, but one of the reasons borderline or psychotic people burn cigarets into the arms, or slash themselves, or bang their heads, or become Celtic fans, is to try to prevent themselves from slipping down into the Formless Infinite Void, which is Dread Itself, by focussing on the finite pain of the material body, as it is preferable to the Infinite pain of the Void. Problem is -- as I mentioned in the book -- this is an inverse mirror of the Infinite Void above, and it is the Human Duty to conquer this lower void in the name of the upper. This is why, don't you know, Jesus descends into hell after the Crucifixion. In other words, his descent into man did not merely cease at our material situation, but went all the way to the bottom, to the infinite hell of total divine abandonment. Which is why he even saves atheists!

There is obviously a lesson there. As Mouravieff writes, most men cannot generally "turn things around" until they have reached a condition of "spiritual bankruptcy," sort of like the Lakers last Sunday (don't be like them and wait too long, for there are only "seven games" of creation, with sudden death).

Metanoia -- which is to say, re-pentance -- literally means to "turn around," and this is what it refers to. The more of the "minus space" of the psyche you can domesticate and colonize, the more of the upper vertical you can stably inhabit. The deeper the plunge, the higher the ascent. This is expressed in some form or fashion in every venerable tradition, from the Upanishads to Spiderman.

Now, Where Was I? I have No Idea. I'm just here Swimming in the Void, waiting for a Current to Take me Up.

Oh, There's One. Ooh! It Tickles!

Now, the moment of metanoia is an ontological discontinuity, a caesura, a rubicon, a leap of faith. However, it only looks like a discontinuity from the "dark side" of things. Once you make the leap, then you see that the continuity was there all along -- that there are secure "lines of communication" between God and man that were always there operating in silence. It is only for us to grab one and hold on tight. Let Perry explain:

"This moment -- absolutely unique in character -- is when there occurs, through the action of the 'Celestial Ray' operating on a plane of reflection, the vibration which corresponds to the cosmogonic Fiat Lux ["let there be light"], and which illuminates through its irradiation the whole chaos of possibilities. Starting from this moment, order replaces chaos, light replaces darkness, act replaces potentiality, and reality replaces virtuality." You become someOne!

Where have I heard this before? Oh yes, Tomberg: "The fiat lux of the first day of creation and the fiat lux of the awakening of faith in the soul are of the same essence. In both cases it is a question of the creative act of 'Let there be Light!'"

So.... What have we learned today? I'll just leave off with a cryptic but wise crack by Petey, and let you figure it out:

A little metaphysical diddling between a cabbala opposites, and Mamamaya! baby makes Trinity, so all the world's an allusion (that's the key to His fiat, if you know how to derive). Viveka la revelation!

Monday, June 09, 2008

The Great Inscape!

There is a power in sight which is superior to the eyes set in the head and more far-reaching than the heavens and earth.... It stands to reason, if you consider it, that the space occupied by any soul is vastly greater than heaven and earth and God's entire creation. --Meister Eckhart

Life is hard enough. Imagine how difficult it would be if we couldn't fly around at will within the expanding cooniverse of mental space!

Then again, for most people, this imaginative space is either rather cramped and constricted, or else it is a kind of hostile environment that feels quite the opposite of "liberating." As a result, an unfair number of people choose to escape this inscape by living down on the surface of the senses, just like an animal. The point is, this space can be filled with hostile entities that produce persecutory thoughts, or it can be a cold and wet blanket of depression that forms the backdrop of one's life. No wonder people try to escape it through drugs, external distractions, compulsions, "political activism," etc. Who could blame the liberal for not wanting to live inside his own head, and imagining a fantasy utopia in the future? But any utopia will be instantly converted to a dystopia, so long as liberals live there.

So our mental space is fraught with ambiguity, or at least it must be conquered and made habitable, no different, I suppose, than the external world. After all, the world is indifferent if not hostile to our presence within it until we have transformed it into something fit for humans. This cannot be said of any other animal. Only human beings must create the environment in which man becomes possible -- both the exterior and, more importantly, interior environment.

One of the purposes of religion is to convey liberating knowledge. Unlike profane knowledge, which merely adds to the pile of facts and theories in one's head -- and which are indeed analogous to material "objects" -- religious knowledge should have the effect of transforming the subject, which is another way of saying the actual "space" in which we live.

Profane space is always a kind of wall, ceiling, or limit; sacred knowledge is always a mirror, a window, or a door that leads out to the limitless; in short, it is a way in, up, and out. (I should add that psychoanalytic knowledge is a kind of in-between knowledge, in that it should expand one's profane space, without necessarily entering the limitless sacred space; but there is no fundamental reason why the space of the psychoanalyst should be separate from the space of the mystic, which is why I was so attracted to Bion. Ultimately, O is O, which is to say, One in cOOnvision, which is to further say, healthy "20/∞ double vision.")

Let us stipulate that Eden refers to a time in which human beings lived within the eternal space of God-consciousness. One needn't necessarily believe that this ever existed in the horizontal/historical sense in order to understand the deeper lesson, that something happened in our "ontological history" to separate us from our source. Any remotely perceptive individual realizes that we are "exiled" in an unfamiliar world, but the question is, why? Obviously, no other animal feels "alienated," unless he has had sufficient contact with humans or Democrats. But humans have always intuitively realized that we live in a kind of halfway-house that is simultaneously familiar and strange, the former an echo of our horizontal evolution, the latter a dim recollection of our vertical involution. This intersection is indeed our cross to bear.

At the intersection of the horizontal and vertical energies -- at the center of the cross -- is the human heart, which is precisely the human transdimensional "organ" that opens out to eternity. Unlike other organs, it only achieves its full functioning by being wounded and pierced. Remember the Tin Man? Now I know I have a heart, because it's breaking.

This point -- like all points -- is infinite. It is simultaneously the center, the origin, the summit, the deep interior, and the presence of Presence, or Being, for short. It is where, as Perry describes, "the synthesis of all cosmic time and space" occurs, in an "Eternal Present centered in a superluminous fullness of beatitude whereof the Comprehensor is the transcendent Intellect or solar Deity dwelling microcosmically in the 'Eye of the Heart.'"

This is "a point without extension or a moment without duration," and is "centric and axial to all existences, where complementaries and opposites are contained in principial equilibrium..." If profane existence is where the Divine Space is deployed in time, this point is where "time is changed into space": or, to be precise, we feel this sacred space "roiling over" into time, like the waters from a central spring.

That's the microcosm, but it obviously simultaneously opens out to the macrocosm, so that we may know reality in its essence. Or, we might say that microcosm and macrocosm simultaneously co-arise; in this sense, it is absolutely correct that what we call "reality" is a form of our sensibility, so long as we stipulate that this is not an argument for relativism but for Absolutism. It is "the direct reflection of principial eternity, which excludes all succession"; it is both the "sense of eternity" and the "abode of immortality" (Perry). You know, Put down the apple and back away slowly, and nobody dies! (the Coonifesto).

Again, the ultimate purpose of religion is to bring us in closer proximity to this point and therefore this infinite space (and bear in mind that this reality simply "is"; as such, it is not "attained" but merely "realized." But on this side of it, we must speak the paradoxical language of separation (or sin) and purification and attainment at risk of being even more misunderstood; to paraphrase Schuon, before realizing one's essential unity with God, we must first realize the extent of our separation from him.

This, by the way, is another of my objections to new age dharma hustlers like Tolle; if he goes on Oprah and tells her motley group of fans that they are actually God, I say "no way." In a way, this is worse than atheists who preach the opposite, and ultimately just as fruitless. At least the atheist starts with the honest truth: I don't have a clue where God is, because I've completely severed myself from him.

In religious iconography, the Center is depicted as the Sun (macrocosmically) and the Heart (microcosmically). But these two are actually One, or at least not two. This is where interior and exterior (or subject and object) are ultimately unified: "The universe is only 'vision' or 'knowledge,' in whatever mode this is realized, and its whole reality is God: the worlds are woven of visions, and the content of these visions indefinitely repeated is always the Divine, which is thus primal Knowledge and the ultimate Reality -- Knowledge and Reality being two complementary aspects of the same Divine Cause" (Schuon, in Perry).

So, as Aristotle said, truly, "the soul is all it knows." And since she can know the All, she is potentially All, or infinite space. Again, this is "realized" in mystical union, whereas it is simply assumed (but never realized) in secular science. For example, when the secular scientist imagines "the cosmos" or "the big bang," he is dwelling within a profane and "de-spiritualized" shadow of the true Infinite Space which contains the cosmos. To put it another way, the soul of the scientist (or anyone else) is not in the cosmos; rather, the reverse: the cosmos is within the soul of the scientist -- over there, under the couch!

Like God, we always contain our reality, even if it means shrinking reality down to the narrow dimensions of the ego. In other words, even the ego is superior to the cramped little cosmos it creates and projects outward. We always "see double," which is to say, inwardly (first) and outwardly (second).

Well, I'm short on time and long on day, so I think I'll just sign off here. I'm not close to being finished with this topic. To be continued.

Our whole business therefore in this life is to restore health to the eye of the heart whereby God may be seen. --St. Augustine

And then our Lord opened my spiritual eye and shewed me my soul in midst of my heart. I saw the Soul so large as it were an endless world, and as it were a blissful kingdom. --Julian of Norwich

In these outlines, my son, I have drawn a likeness of God for you, so far as that is possible; and if you gaze upon this likeness with the eyes of your heart, then, my son, believe me, you will find the upward path; or rather, the sight itself will guide you on your way. --Hermes

(All quoted material taken from The Spiritual Ascent)

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