Saturday, November 01, 2008

Open Thread

Woke up at midnight with a pounding toothache. Probably something to do with the root canal I just had redone the day before. All better now, but not enough web fluid to post.

This morning I got into an argument with my son over which one of us is "new." I said he was. He said I was. Eventually I had to concede his point. Unlike me, he has no doubt that he has always existed. Rather, I'm the big novelty.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Do I Dare Disturb the Obamaverse? (11.16.11)

The last of the three antinomies resolved within the Hermit is faith <---> empirical science. As UF writes, "The father of empirical science is doubt and its mother is faith." On the one hand, "doubt is the very root of every question, and questions are the basis of every quest and all research." And yet, as Michael Polanyi has written of so extensively, it is faith that guides us to the potentially fruitful question -- one that can be asked "in good faith," and to which we can expect an answer to be forthcoming.

For example, "Newton doubted the traditional theory of 'gravity,' but he believed in the unity of the world.... Doubt set his thought in motion; faith rendered it fruitful." In a way, you could say that doubt is horizontal, whereas faith is vertical.

But there is faith in doubt and doubt in faith. The doubt in faith is the "dark night of the soul," the days and years spent wandering in the bewilderness, the childlike attitude of expectant silence. Conversely, the faith in doubt is the belief that the cosmos is ultimately intelligible and therefore whole and finally good; that it is a creation through which we may apprehend the qualities of its creator.

The scientist has faith that the vast multiplicity of the cosmos is a reflection of some prior or underlying unity. He also has faith that the human subject is uniquely capable of knowing this unity; as Aldous Huxley remarked, "science is the reduction of multiplicity to unity." And the scientist believes in evolution, which is to say progress. And progress is absolutely meaningless unless it is in light of an absolute standard, e.g., truth. A universe of pure change could never be progressive -- which, by the way, is another reason why "progressivism" is always regressive.

Just last night I was reading how Eliot made this observation back in the 1930s, when there were mindlessly pervasive calls for "change" of a similar nature to what we are witlessing today, i.e., collectivist and fascist change. To say that Obama is "un-American" is not an insult; it just is, just as it would be un-American to, say, enact a law banning homosexuals from teaching in public schools (which was actually attempted in a California ballot initiative in 1978).

Seen in this light, progressivism is just an excuse to unleash violence against the current order, since reality can never match up to the infantile fantasies of the left. "The perfect is the enemy of the good." The leftist does not believe in the permanence of transcendent things, which is precisely what creates the dynamic and fruitful interplay of faith and doubt, or creative evolution. Rather, he believes in a static fantasy of an unattainable utopia, which again serves as the justification for destroying that which is -- including those beautiful values that made this nation possible.

It is the unrepentant spiritual terrorism of the left that frightens us. For when you insist that this is a racist country; a sexist country; a homophobic country; a classist country; you do not just criticize the margins, but delegitimize the center. Progressivism is the expression of thanatos the "death instinct." It is perverse, sadistic, and authoritarian. Which is why, of course, they project these things into conservatives. The left howls in indignation at the prospect of monitoring international phone calls from terrorists. But illegally investigate Joe the Plumber? No problem! It's for the greater good.

Eliot wrote that "if the progress of mankind is to continue as long as man survives upon the earth, then... progress becomes merely change; for the values of man will change, and a world of changed values is valueless to us -- just as we, being a part of the past, will be valueless to it. Or if the progress of mankind is to continue only until a 'perfect' state of society is reached, then this state of society will be valueless simply because of its perfection. It will be at best a smooth-running machine with no meaning..."

The idea that progressivism renders our lives worthless to generations of the future is a subtle point worth dwelling on. Look how easily the left sweeps away not just the average person, but the truly great men of past. The Founding Fathers? Just racist slave holders promoting their economic interests. Lincoln? He didn't care about the plight of blacks, he just wanted to preserve the union. The men who died for our freedom in World War II? Probably just racist rednecks back at home. Hell, the army wasn't even integrated until what, 1948? How could it be a force for good?

The other day, a leftist-integral-Buddhist suggested to me that the liberation of Iraq was an aggressive war. I told him he was either ignorant, intellectually dishonest, or morally retarded. And I meant it literally, not as an insult. Talk about irony. What China did to Tibet was aggressive. Removing the most sadistic tyrant on earth and installing a democracy is a gift from heaven -- even of some, if not most, men have to be driven to paradise with whips.

The point is, the left completely undermines and delegitimizes the United States, and then wants to elect one of its own to be President of the land they so despise. If Obama fails to bring this howling mob the revolutionary change they are clamoring for, who knows what will happen with their collective death instinct? These people aren't playing. They are scary serious. And if you are not a part of their fantasied solution, you are just a problem, like everyone from Joe the Plumber to George the Father. For a primitive person, idealization is always a defense against aggression, so it will be very interesting to see how Obama manages the aggressive idealization being projected into him. I seriously doubt that he appreciates the hatred beneath the love.

In light of the "permanent things," time past and time future become time present. This was one of Eliot's great concerns, expressed so perfectly in Four Quartets. Again, the progressive believes in time as a straight line composed of atomistic and disjointed moments -- which, by the way, is what Eliot was attempting to capture and convey in his earlier, more pessimistic poems, prior to his conversion. Again I think of Bion's concept of "attacks on linking," which can take place in both time and space; in fact, if you think about it, you cannot attack spatial links without attacking temporal links. To attack the one is to attack the other. Deconstruction doesn't just destroy the present, but past and future as well. To destroy history is to destroy the present, and vice versa.

But to dwell in the permanent things -- the essence of conservatism -- is not to live in the discontinuous line, but within a kind of spiritual plenum that connects us to all of mankind, living and dead. It is a kind of sin and scandal, not only that the dead cannot vote, but that the left wishes to force a new country upon us that would be unrecognizable to the men who died to create this one. To say that "we are the ones we've been waiting for" is not just cosmically narcissistic, but profoundly ungrateful. But all children come into the world believing they are cosmically special, otherwise they could not psychically survive infancy.

How did we get here? What about the Hermit?

Science in the absence of religion conforms to the pattern laid out in Genesis: your eyes will be open to the horizontal and you shall become like a god! But this appreciation of the quantitative aspect of the cosmos comes at the price of obscuring the qualitative aspects: "quality is the vertical aspect of the world," and it is ultimately rooted in the permanent things discussed above. The supreme value of values in the vertical is God, just as the supreme quantity of quantities in the horizontal would be some sort of "theory of everything," or simple equation for generating a cosmos.

But as UF asks, why is it necessary to choose between the two? Why not just add the one to the other "under the sign of the cross," i.e., the vertical line of religion -- the permanent things -- bisecting the horizontal plane of science at each and every moment? Why not just crucify the serpent? Do so, and a metamorphosis follows: "The scientistic creed then becomes what it is in reality: the mirroring of the creative Word. It will no longer be truth; it will be method. It will no longer say: 'in the beginning was substance or matter,' but will say: 'in order to understand the mechanism of the made world, it is necessary to choose a method which takes account of the origin of matter and of that which set it in motion from above." Likewise, we will see the brain as a function of intelligence, not vice versa.

In short, "The synthesis of science and religion is not a theory, but rather the inner act of consciousness of adding the spiritual vertical to the scientific horizontal."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Naming the Nameless and Doing the Reality Dance (11.14.11)

Yesterday I mentioned that Meditations on the Tarot really clued me into the intellectual and metaphysical depth and breadth of Christianity. If nothing else, it is simply a superior philosophy. But once you begin to realize just how superior, it leads to other considerations that take you into the heart of the Mystery.

I'm currently reading this book on T.S. Eliot, and I see that he came to Christianity in a similar manner: head first. I suppose that the vast majority of people who convert to Christianity do so either for emotional reasons (which I am not criticizing) or because it just "feels right." Obviously, it operates on levels that are both deeper and higher then the ego, so there is no reason that the average person should be able to articulate these reasons, any more than they could articulate the physics of riding a bicycle. Rather, they just do it. And enjoy the experience. If you have a mediocre mind, your thoughts will just get in the way anyway. Leave it to the professionals.

But it's always interesting when a genius such as Eliot goes through the same process. And it's also disconcerting for the Adversary and his mediocre minions. How could one of the two or three greatest men of letters of the 20th century embrace this primitive nonsense? But as Kirk points out, Christianity has always been a scandal.

It's like the tao: if these spiritual autistics didn't laugh at it, it wouldn't be the tao. You can see how our scientistic jester never stops banging his head against his own self-imposed wall, seemingly incapable of understanding that everyone here has not only heard his arguments, but probably once believed them. But we then discovered something more adequate, and moved on. And in. And up. For our jester to imagine that he, of all people, can tell us something we don't already know about the horizontal Waste Land is either immature or breathtakingly ignorant.

In Eliot's case, he wrote extensively about the subject, both in his poetry and prose. For example, "Most people suppose that some people, because they enjoy the luxury of Christian sentiments and the excitement of Christian ritual, swallow or pretend to swallow incredible dogma. For some the process is exactly opposite. Rational assent may arrive late, intellectual conviction may come slowly, but they come inevitably without violence to honesty and nature. To put the sentiments in order is a later and an immensely difficult task: intellectual freedom is earlier and easier than complete spiritual freedom."

You could say that it's all about restoring / With a new verse the ancient rhyme. Redeem / The time. Redeem / The unread vision in the higher dream / While jewelled unicorns draw by the guilded hearse (Eliot).

Enough with the gilded hearse of scientism. Back to the Hermit's higher dream. When we left off yesterday, we were explaining how he reconciles the three great philosophical antinomies within his own being, the first one being idealism <---> realism (although naturalism would have perhaps have been a less confusing word than realism, since idealism is also known as philosophical realism in scholastic philosophy -- i.e., the notion that the platonic archetypes are more real than the material reality which is their instantiation).

The next antinomy is realism <---> nominalism, and here UF does mean the type of realism just mentioned, that is, the school of thought "which attributes objective reality to general notions that are now usually designated as 'abstract' but which medieval philosophy designated universalia ('universals')." In contrast, the current of thought "which denies the objective reality of universals and which admits reality only in 'particulars' is that of nominalism."

As UF notes, a realist in this sense is an extreme idealist, e.g., Plato. For Plato, the idea, say, of boxer briefs, is more real than the pair I am now wearing. But for the nominalist, these so-called objective ideas are nothing more than words which have no independent reality. You can see where this route 666 leads: more or less directly to deconstruction, multiculturalism, moral relativism,"positive liberties," "gay marriage," etc., the whole catastrophe.

For example, any remotely spiritually attuned person recognizes that marriage is a sacred union between a man and a woman. It is a real archetype. Therefore, to promulgate the fantasy that members of the same sex can live in a state of marriage is a kind of violent assault on reality. It's not funny. It is mean spirited, offensive, and cretinous. If you cannot see that, then you, my friend, are a barbarian. I am not being insulting, merely descriptive. There's just no other word for someone who conflates reality with what it reveals of itself to the animal senses and to cold logic isolated from any guiding wisdom.

The irony is that any scientist who actually takes the trouble to think deeply is a philosophical realist. There is no great mathematician who is not an explicit or implicit Platonist. For example, G. H. Hardy, in his A Mathematician's Apology, wrote that "It would be difficult now to find an educated man quite insensitive to the aesthetic appeal of mathematics.... A mathematician, like a painter or a poet, is a maker of patterns. If his patterns are more permanent than theirs, it is because they are made with ideas." Who could argue with that proposition but an innumerate illiterate, or atheistic doubledunce?

If we consider the whole of creation -- i.e., the cosmos.... Wait, let's stop right there: the idea of the cosmos. For that is what it is: an idea. No one has ever seen the cosmos. But it's wrong to say we just "assume" it exists. Rather, we know in our bones that it exists -- that is, the strict totality of all reality, the Absolute. There is no part of reality that exists independently of this Absolute. The interior wholeness that we see at every level of reality is simply a fractal reflection, or distant echo, of this Absolute. It is what accounts for the organicism of organisms, the nonlocality of locality, the unity of the human subject, and the inner coherence of science. Each is a horizontal reflection of the other and a vertical reflection of the O-ther.

The realist (i.e., idealist) says that "the general is anterior to the particular" (deduction). The nominalist says that "the particular is anterior to the general" (induction).

Here again, we see how this plays out at the local level, with disastrous consequences. For example, for the leftist, the collective is more real than the individual man, which is why it is fine to steal from Joe the Plumber and give his hard earned money to Joe the Deadbeat. But the founders of our country knew that the individual was real and that this individuality was rooted in his liberty, which is the means by which we become real. It is the idea of liberty which is ultimately real, and which creates the possibility of real individuals (in other words, without liberty, our ideal "created" self will not be able to actualize).

But for Obama, it is only in the concrete particular that liberty is real, i.e, "positive liberty." In other words, liberty is not real unless the government somehow gives it to you in the form of cash and other valuable prizes. You might say that negative liberty preserves the ideal reality of liberty.

For the nominalist, "truth, beauty and goodness do not exist for it as objective realities, and are only a matter of taste," that great leveler of the hierarchical cosmos. People who "attack links" are always nominalists. You cannot argue with them, because their first cognitive act is to dismantle the very cognitive scaffolding that makes higher thought possible, e.g., the Jesus Seminarians. They first deconstruct the higher edifice of the Bible, and then Jesus comes out the other end a Marxist community organizer.

In truth, we clearly need both, i.e., realism and nominalism: "We cannot dispense with realism if we attach any value to the existence of objective truth (science) and trans-subjective truth (religion)."

How to resolve this question? It's easy, at least if you were lucky enough to be born in Christendom: "The 'problem' of universals was resolved in the spiritual history of mankind by the fact of the Incarnation, where the fundamental universal of the world -- the Logos -- became Jesus Christ, who is the fundamental particular of the world."

Here, the universal of universals, the very principle of intelligibility, the Logos, became the particular of particulars, the very prototype of the personality, Jesus Christ.

This is why for the Raccoon, spiritual knowledge is embodied knowledge, or it is no knowledge at all.

And the weird light shines in the dark, but the dorks don't comprehend it. --Petey

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Herman's Hermits and Toots' Drawers (11.11.11)

Letter IX, The Hermit, might just as well be called "The Raccoon." At least if memory serves. It is clearly the arcanum with which UF himself most identifies. He says that a person who is "truly young, i.e., living for an ideal," is instinctively drawn to this figure, similar to the Jungian concept of archetypal projection. In other words, the archetype of the Hermit is "within," but we must first locate it without, in order to assimilate its content into the preconceptual form. Without the experience, the archetype will remain an empty category -- a dead letter addressed from the Self to your self.

The Hermit is "a wise and good father... who has passed through the narrow gate and who walks the hard way -- someone whom one could trust without reserve and whom one could venerate and love without limit." The reason why there are so many false teachers is that we have an intrinsic need for real ones. But since our culture has largely severed itself from its own wisdom tradition, the Deepaks of the world rush in to fill the void. In fact, we can see that Obama is riding the waves of that same archetypal energy field.

Only in a culture that has completely lost its way could this cipher be regarded as intelligent or wise. For an insight into Obama's unconscious swamp, just consider the sinister entity he idealized as his own Hermit -- Reverend Wright! Such an odious choice runs so much deeper than the question of "judgment," for what you love simultaneously reveals who you are and what you shall become. A person who would expose his children to such a spiritually toxic environment is unfit to be a father, much less president. And I mean that quite literally. I cannot imagine assaulting my son's innocence in such a manner.

The Hermit "possesses the gift of letting the light shine in the darkness -- this is his lamp." And here is a critical point: "he has the faculty of separating himself from the collective moods, prejudices and desires of race, nation, class and family -- the faculty of reducing to silence the cacophony of collectivism vociferating around him in order to listen to and understand the hierarchical harmony of the spheres."

This reminds me of the task of the psychoanalyst, which is to listen to the patient with "even hovering attention," in order to hear into the deeper layers of the unconscious. One must "unlisten" to the explicit in order to hear the implicit, or obscure the plot in order to appreciate the theme. It has also been called "listening with the third ear." Bion said that one must suspend memory, desire, and understanding, in order to enter a state of faith, or what Bob symbolizes in the book as (o).

But that is not all, because if it were, we would live in a kind of bloodless idealism which Christianity specifically reconciles with flesh-and-blood reality -- or, materiality, to be precise. In other words, the Hermit unites reality with matter within his own being. Or, you could say that he embodies the ideal, in imitation of the Master himself. As UF writes, the Hermit

"possesses a sense of realism which is so developed that he stands in the domain of reality... on three [feet], i.e., he advances only after having touched the ground through immediate experience and at first-hand contact without intermediaries." This is none other than O-->(n), or the transformation of reality into experience.

So the Hermit is an archetypal reflection of the good father, behind or above whom is the Father in heaven. The Hermit is a word from our nonlocal sponsor, so to speak. But he never confuses himself with the mouth.

As UF says, he also represents the method of obtaining valid spiritual knowledge, in that he is able to synthesize within himself the three great antinomies with which any thinking man is confronted, and which any efficacious philosophy must reconcile. These are the complementary pairs of 1) idealism <---> realism; 2) realism <---> nominalism; and 3) faith <---> empirical science. I remember that when I first read this chapter, I finally appreciated the intellectual and metaphysical brilliance of Christianity, and just what a profound innovation it represented, for it beautifully resolves each of these pairs in a fruitful and dynamic "marriage." I also understood why it is folly to the geeks and a stumbling block to the clueless. You know, the materialists.

Is this going too slowly? Am I losing readers? Let's put it this way: yes to number two. Is it because this is getting too pedantic? Should we bring Bob back, and banish Bob's Unconscious to the.... unconscious?

Consider the first antinomy, idealism <---> realism. Most philosophers come down on one side or the other of this pair. It is their first "preconceptual" thought, upon which their subsequent intellectual edifice is built. But they never justify how and why they come down on one side or the other, nor can they ever justify it, because it is totally arbitrary.

Well, not totally. Rather, it's just based upon temperament, or inclination, like the eternal question of boxers vs. briefs. Surely it is no coincidence that Bob prefers the "third way" of boxer briefs, for in fact, this is what Toots Mondello was referring to when he spoke of the "sacred undergarment." Do you understand?

Put it this way: Plato was a boxer man, Aristotle a brief man. But can we possibly fashion a new garment out of these two, one that is both spiritually comfortable but also offers intellectual support? We shall see.

UF writes that "the idealist (e.g. Hegel) considers everything as so many forms of thought, whilst the realist (e.g. Spencer) affirms that objects of knowledge have an existence which is independent of thought." Where have we heard this before?

Yes. This is what Bob was referring to on Page 26, where he asks, "Where in the world do we begin? Do we have any right to assume that the universe is even intelligible?... Of course we should start our enquiry with the 'facts,' but what exactly is a fact? Which end is up? In other words, do we start with the objects of thought or the subject that apprehends them? And just what is the relationship between apparently 'external' objects and the consciousness that is able to cognize them? Any fact we consider presupposes a subject who has selected that fact out of an infinite sea of possibilities, so any conceivable fact arises simultaneously with a subjective co-creator of that fact."

In the case of realism, "it is the world which bears the word and it is the human intellect which listens." But in the case of idealism, "it is the intellect which bears the word and it is the world which is its reflection" (MOTT).

Who is right? Boxers or briefs?

"Let us not prostrate ourselves either before the world or before the intellect, but let us prostrate ourselves in adoration of the common source of both the world and the intellect -- God: God whose Word is at one and the same time the 'true light that enlightens every man coming into the world' and the creator of the world -- 'all things were made through him, and nothing that was made was made without him" (MOTT).

The source of both world and intellect is the Word, or Logos, "whose objective manifestation is the world of prototypes underlying the phenomenal world, and whose subjective manifestation is the light or prototype of human intelligence." You see, the universe meets in the middle of the monkey, and you're the monkey in the middle.

This formula resolves so many philosophical pickles and prevents so many dangers and falls. For example, our scientistic jester would presumably say that something that has no ultimate reality, the human subject, is able to affirm valid knowledge of reality, which, as soon as you think about it, makes no sense. Therefore, you must not think. But why bother thinking anyway, since the subject isn't really real?

Nor could objects be really real, in the sense that we couldn't really know them. Not really. Rather, we would be trapped in Kant's phenomenal world, with no access to the noumenal. But with the Hermit's approach, both objects and the subject who knows them become really real, since they become real in the Word. In turn, assimilating this reality into the Word is to "redeem the world."

(We'll get to the other two antinomies tomorrow.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How to Create a Real Cosmos (11.10.11)

I don't know why these "integral" types believe they have discovered something new. The other day, one of them emailed Bob to let him know that no one at the "higher stages of development" -- he didn't name names, but one can well imagine the stench up there -- agrees "with the policies of George Bush or Sarah Palin since they represent a lower level of evolution." Somehow -- he didn't explain how -- we are supposed to integrate and transcend "primitive" conservative ideas, but he didn't mention which ones.

At the conclusion of The Chariot, UF describes what an integral man would actually look like. Suffice it to say, he doesn't look like Deepak Chopra.

For example, he will manifest creative being, meaning that his thought will possess the qualities of creativity, clarity, fluidity, and precision (in contrast, Deepak's disjointed thought is unimaginative, unclear, desiccated, and imprecise). In the domain of feeling, his heart will radiate warmth, magnanimity, sensitivity, and faithfulness. And in the domain of will, one will see intensity, scope, adaptability, and firmness. The integral person will balance serenity, mobility and resolution; and will also reflect the four cardinal virtues, i.e., wisdom/prudence, courage/strength, temperance and justice. As Schuon would say, he will embody "the center at the periphery" or be a reflection of the "unmoved mover," hence his dignity.

Now obviously, this is a lifetime project. One of the reasons one must strive to be "integral" -- and this has always been known -- is that overemphasis on one of these qualities to the exclusion of the others will create an imbalance and therefore a fall. For example, our scientistic jester's thought is precise but devoid of creativity or fluidity, not to mention lucidity or metaphysical discernment. And its clarity is a result of his terrible simplification of reality. This kind of artificially narrow clarity always comes at the expense of doing violence to the Real (and therefore oneself).

In the final analysis, as Schuon writes, this type of "worldly intelligence" which oversteps its bounds is a product of pride; it destroys the "essential functions" of the intelligence, even "while allowing the surface mechanism to remain incidentally, as if in mockery." This is why an Albert Einstein could be such a brilliant physicist but such a political and philosophical boob. One could cite countless examples of so-called "geniuses" whose intelligence is "fragmentary, unilateral, asymmetric, and disproportional." As a result of this imbalance -- or lack of integrity -- their thought will always contain a "hidden poison."

This is why it is critical that our intelligence not become detached from "metaphysical truth or with eschatological reality": "the definition of integral or essential, and thus efficacious, intelligence is the adequation to the real, both 'horizontal' and 'vertical,' terrestrial and celestial." Lacking each of these dimensions, it becomes a pale shadow of man's true capabilities and ousts him from his cosmic station. It necessarily absolutizes the relative and thereby fashions a graven image. The rest is commentary. To live at the horizontal fringe of the cosmos is to subsist at the margin of one's Self. You become an unreal person in an unreal reality.

Let me just conclude by emphasizing that it is extremely dangerous to surround oneself with mediocre and "un-integral" intellects who have no idea that they are. Very dangerous. This point was driven home to me last Saturday, when I was at one of my all-day discontinuing education seminars. The speaker was a renowned psychoanalyst whom I had great difficulty understanding. Not because his thought was so elevated, but because it was so mundane and metaphysically confused.

Here again, it must be emphasized that this has nothing to do with "IQ." But if I were to try to "adapt" my mind to his reality, I would lose it, precisely. I then realized that this was the problem with my whole journey through the educational system. I very nearly lost my mind. This, by the way, is why so-called "intellectuals" such as Peggy Noonan, David Frum, or David Brooks disapprove of Sarah Palin. I would also go nuts if I were forced to assent to these mediocrities. They imagine themselves superior to a Rush Limbaugh, when they're really just lame bloggers with huge platforms.

On to The Justice. I have to admit that this card posed some challenges for me, and in many ways is above my pray grade. For the most part, I try to write about more general religious principles, but this card has a lot of material that is quite specific not only to Christianity, but to Christian mysteries. Therefore, I'll just poke around the edges and see what resonates with me.

I like the idea that to think is to pronounce judgment and to therefore render justice. What immediately comes to mind is the totolerantarian left, which prides itself on being so "non-judgmental." As such, this answers the question of why their thought is so confused and why their policies begin and end in injustice. And of course, they are actually extremely judgmental, but since they are not permitted to realize it, must project it into the "intolerant" right. Thus, hanging Sarah Palin in effigy is "art," while hanging Obama in effigy -- which no conservative would actually do, but liberals know they'd really like to -- is vile and racist.

I also like what UF has to say about science, as it is pretty much the Raccoon view, being that we by no means reject science, but nor do we turn it into an idol. As UF writes, the application of science has resulted in three singular discoveries; first, the fact that this is an evolutionary (which is not to say "Darwinian") cosmos; second, that matter reduces to pure energy; and third, that the consciousness of the surface ego is but a "local" phenomenon floating within (actually, "outside") an upper and lower vertical which are nonlocal (i.e., the "unconscious" and all it implies).

Whereas science is "public" and "general," esoterism is private and particular. In short, no one else can make its discoveries for you. This is knowledge that cannot simply be "given" to you. Rather, it must be undergone -- even at times "suffered" -- so that in each person it will have a slightly different inflection but nevertheless be "objective." This is a critical point.

As UF writes, only a person may synthesize religion and science. Religion cannot do it. Nor can science do it. Thus, the esoterist engages in a "double discipline": he prays and he thinks. Or he "thinks on his knees." In so doing, he is able to "redeem" whatever it is he successfully assimilates. And this integral assimilation can only occur under the conditions of creativity, clarity, fluidity, precision, warmth, magnanimity, sensitivity, faithfulness, intensity, breadth, depth, height, adaptability, firmness, dignity, and serenity.

This is how one turns mere perception and thought into a real Cosmos worthy of Man.

Monday, October 27, 2008

That Old Black, er, Post-Racial Magic (11.10.11)

Letter VII, The Chariot. UF tells us that this arcanum has to do with that most subtle temptation, spiritual temptation. It is subtle -- or at least tricky -- because the temptation results from one's very spiritual success: "It is the temptation to act 'in one's own name,' to act as master instead of servant." Virtually the entire new age movement falls under the heading of this particular temptation.

This is why all authentic spiritual paths begin with moral development. If they sometimes exaggerate man's depravity, this is far preferable to the converse, since one of the purposes is to prevent the spiritual inflation that occurs when spiritual energies are mingled with the unredeemed man, a la Deepak and his ilk. Again, when this happens, you create a demon, a monster. And it only happens again and again and again.

Schuon said something to the effect that man tests his faith by renouncing, while God tests it by removing. Renunciation has the practical effect of opening up a space where the ego would otherwise be. Elsewhere in the book, UF says that while nature abhors a vacuum, Spirit requires one.

Here again, the inverse of this would be the Deepak-style new age idea of The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire, or Creating Affluence. To the extent that Chopra's magical ideas "work," it is because they harness demonic energy. To the extent that they continue to work, it will depend upon how thoroughly one has vanquished the conscience -- i.e., become less than human.

In a relativistic universe in which there is no difference between up and down, this is to become a "superman." This is why Chopra is apparently regarded as a "wise man" by thousands, instead of the spiritual cancer that he is. For as UF says, "it is not desire which bears magical realization, but rather the renunciation of desire." Or, one might say, "blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." One must not saturate the space where vertical energies operate. Rather, one must get out of the way.

Here is the key point: "For some the superman has more attraction than the Son of Man, because he promises them a career of increasing power, whilst the Son of Man offers only a career of 'foot washing.'" The ego obviously prefers the superman, and it is to the power-seeking ego which all false paths appeal.

As a little sidebar, I hope that when UF pejoratively -- and properly -- refers to the "superman," it is in the Nietzschean and not Aurobindean sense. For example, if you read The Mother's Prayers and Meditations, it is far closer in tone to that of a Christian saint than any Deepak-style cosmic narcissism. I haven't looked at this book in a long time. On one of the opening pages there is a hand-written letter from the Mother, showing the extent of her egoic surrender to the divine. Prior to this, she had had plenty of experience in the occult circles that flourished at the turn of the century, and were very much similar to today's power-mad new age movement:

Some give their soul to the Divine, some their life, some offer their work, some their money. A few consecrate all of themselves and all they have -- soul, life, work, wealth; these are the true children of God. Others give nothing. These, whatever their position, power and riches, are for the divine purpose valueless cyphers. This book is for those who aspire for an utter consecration to the divine.

I'm just browsing around. Here's another sample: Let Thy Light be in me like a Fire that makes all alive; let thy divine Love penetrate me. I aspire with all my being for Thy reign as sovereign and master of my mind and heart and body.

Thou art the one and only goal of my life and the centre of my aspiration, the pivot of my thought, the key of the synthesis of my being.

Really, every passage is an inverse image of the Chopra Method, being that nearly each one emphasizes the centrality of worshipping that which is above us and the ceaseless effort to do so, which UF says is the best curative against spiritual inflation, since these serve as a reminder of the distance between us and the goal. We must not confuse "what we are" with who or "what the worshipped being is." True, "all is God" -- although it is far more accurate to say that "nothing is not God." Nevertheless, to paraphrase Schuon, it does one no good whatsoever to say "I am one with God" until one appreciates the extent to which that is far from the case.

Let us shun the paths that are too easy and ask no effort, the paths which give us the illusion of having reached our goal; let us shun the negligence which opens the door to every downfall, that complacent self-admiration that leads to every abyss. Let us understand that however great may have been our efforts, our struggles, even our victories, compared with the distance yet to be travelled, the one we have already covered is nothing.... (the Mother)

Back to the Chariot. Getting sidetracked. Well, not really, because Chopra is again such a perfect symbol of the dangers of spiritual inflation and megalomaniacal delusions. Countless other new age or "integral" con artists would serve just as well, but since he seems to be the most prominent case, he's the one that immediately comes to mind.

UF points out that since the purpose of esoteric spirituality is the cultivation of height, depth, breadth, and profundity -- i.e, "that which works behind the facade of ordinary consciousness" -- inflation is the principle danger for all who would embark upon this path. As such, this is why there is such an emphasis "on the cultivation of humility," for example, in remaining obedient to orthodoxy (or to the true Master), of systematic and continuous "examination of conscience," and on "the reciprocal brotherly help of members of the community" of Raccoons. "Authentic experience of the Divine makes one humble; he who is not humble has not had an authentic experience of the Divine" (MOTT).

This, by the way, is the meaning of true community, of which left wing statism is a truly gross caricature. As Russell Kirk writes in Eliot and His Age, the left settles for the dreary monotony and soul-crushing exterior uniformity of the welfare state, rather than "to undertake the hard and austere labor of thinking through a program for restoring true community," which can only be rooted in the Spirit, not neo-Marxist matter.

Leftism and secularism embody the preference for -- and enforcement of -- illusion over transcendent reality. These parasites "live upon a civilization to which they contribute nothing." In fact, because they are "progressive," they actively sever the living link between the present and the past, so that communication with the past -- the source of practical wisdom -- is impossible. The idea of "temporal progress" denies the spatial mode of civilization, in which we are presently floating atop -- and nourished by -- hard won wisdom, truth, moral beauty, and liberty.

Obama is suffering from the identical spiritual inflation as Chopra. Note how UF saw Obama coming half a century ago:

"The reformer who wants to correct or save humanity easily falls victim to the temptation of considering himself as the active center of the passive circle of humanity. He feels himself as the bearer of a mission of universal significance, therefore he feels himself to be more and more important."

And why not, with deeply disturbed creatures such as this serving as his herald demon:

"You really only get a handful, a smattering, maybe three or four per lifetime if you're lucky or blessed or just so happen to be paying the right kind of deeper karmic attention. Historic events, I mean. Major shifts, upheavals, great leaps forward [!!!!! -- ed.], the Thing That Changed Everything.

"President Obama will be just such a shift, an extraordinary marker, a type and flavor of history that we as preternaturally jaded humans rarely get to experience anymore.... the sheer volume of expansive energy surrounding Obama's run has been absolutely astonishing, a global outpouring of positive interest and awareness like almost no other leader, no other potential slap of progress we've experienced in modern American history. From the international headlines down to the forgotten corners of our own culture we normally never hear from, the message is the same: Something is about to upend. Something seems like it's about to give way."

Yes, something is about to give way (and be taken away) alright. With an Obama presidency, we will now be governed by those least capable of governing themselves, which is a recipe for hell.

It would not be too difficult to name some politicians whose influence and impact agree very well with the classical concept of the "black magician." Indeed, is it difficult to name politicians who have exercised a deadly, suggestive influence on the popular masses, blinding them and inciting them to acts of cruelty, injustice and violence, of which each individual, taken separately, would be incapable... and who, through their semi-magical influence, have deprived individuals of their freedom and rendered them possessed? And is not this action to deprive men of their moral freedom and to render them possessed the aim and very essence of black magic? --Meditations on the Tarot

Let the Great Leap Forward begin!

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