Saturday, December 20, 2008

New Study Proves That Political Correctness is a Mental Disorder

When I select a post for the weekly re-run, I go back into the arkive and review what I wrote two years ago. In so doing, a post will generally either make me cringe or draw me in and keep my attention. I guess this one did the latter. It's also been tweaked and fortified with extra thoughts and insults.


Yesterday someone left a malodorous link-bomb to an academic study that supposedly shows a correlation between political conservatism and such “traits” as fear, aggression, dogmatism, intolerance of ambiguity, “uncertainty avoidance,” and a need for cognitive closure.

Ironically, the conclusions of this dogmatic study were prematurely set forth by cluelessly intolerant and passive-aggressive liberal academics who are deeply fearful of conservatism, thus disproving their point while proving their own pointlessness. Like so much academic nonsense, the study essentially came down to a self-serving expression of class interest -- the class of economic free-riders known as tenured moonbats who would be otherwise unemployable in the real world.

I didn’t engage in the ensuing debate because it’s another one of those things that’s not only wrong, but not even wrong. Few people are more insular, parochial, and narrow minded than the typical liberal professor, who lives in such a small, closed circle that it’s pretty easy to “prove” whatever they need to prove in order to keep reality at bay.

Academia has essentially been reduced to a domain of pseudo-rationalism, which, in the absence of metaphysical truth, quickly descends into sub-rationalism and irrationalism. (As always, we are mainly speaking of the humanities, not the hard sciences, although the latter becomes equally silly when it morphs into the Darwinian scientism of a Richard Dawkins and the rest of the bonehead atheist crowd.)

As I have noted in the past, there are only three broad means of gaining knowledge about the world, 1) logic and empiricism (i.e., inductive and deductive reasoning), 2) revelation, and 3) pure intellection. Obviously, the vast majority of liberal academics categorically reject the latter two categories, which leaves only the reason, narrowly construed.

Now, reason is a method. It is empty until it is provided with content that has to come from elsewhere. In short, reason cannot provide its own content. So something other than reason has to provide it, and here you see at once the gap through which so much postmodern nonsense rushes in. Because these metaphysical yahoos of the academic left must rely upon -- say it with me, now -- a sham substitute for revelation and intellection to provide the missing content.

Here we touch on the question of pure intelligence, for it is accurate to say that the intellect as such is an "interior revelation," while revelation represents exteriorized intellect. They are two sides of the same coin, and both flow from a higher nonlocal and "uncreated" source, which can be none other than Truth.

But again, the liberal does not and cannot know any of this. To him, it is all "oogedy boogedy" nonsense. However, sustained reflection should convince you that the intellect is a function of Truth, rather than vice versa -- just as something is not true because it is logical, but logical because it is true.

It has always been understood that one of the keys to being a great scientist is the ability to identify a promising and generative problem. Here again, this mysterious process is completely trans-logical. We cannot say it is “illogical," but it definitely doesn't obey the formal operations of mere linear logic. Rather, the ability to “see” an interesting problem -- and its potential solution -- is much closer to the realm of aesthetics than to logic.

Einstein, for example, was a mediocre mathematician. He did not arrive at his revolutionary theories through any strictly logical process, but by applying pure intelligence to problems that intrigued him but not others. Not only did he “see” the solution to those problems before he worked them out mathematically, but he was one hundred percent convinced that what he saw was true, regardless of empirical studies that didn’t confirm his theory of gravitation until 1919. When asked what he would think if the empirical results did not support his theory, he replied, "I would feel sorry for dear old God. My theory is correct."

A couple of weeks ago I related the story of how I not only managed to bluff my way into graduate school, but once there, continue bluffing beyond the abilities of classmates who, unlike me, actually had undergraduate degrees in psychology. But gradually, I realized that I wasn't actually bluffing, but somehow "thinking beyond myself," in the same manner that I do with the blog. It took me a while in life to find my path, but once on that path, I definitely “knew” things that came to me in a non-empirical way.

And in fact, looking back on it, I am quite sure that if I had begun studying psychology when in was 18 or 19, accumulating and memorizing what passes for psychological knowledge in academia, I would have in all likelihood buried this capacity for direct knowing under a load of received nonsense. Like so many academics, I would have been “educated” at the cost of my intellect.

Again, I always use the term “intellect” in its time-honored way, as that which allows the human being to distinguish between substance and accidents. Intellection is direct knowledge of reality, very much analogous to physical perception. If you see something with your eyes, no one will ask you to prove the existence of sight. But in our current anti-intellectual climate, if you perceive something equally vividly with the intellect, you will be asked to provide logical proof -- itself a wholly illogical demand.

In reality, only an intellect of equal or greater depth can judge the claims of the intellect. And there is no rational basis whatsoever for determining who has the deeper intellect. It is only something we can know with our own awakened intellect. I can assure you that, for example, Meister Eckhart's or Frithjof Schuon's intellect is infinitely deeper than, say, Richard Dawkins' -- indeed, it couldn’t be more obvious. But can I prove it with logic? Of course not, any more than one can logically or empirically prove the greater artistic depth of one musician over another.

So in approaching these studies that prove conservatives are somehow maladjusted, you must first try to imagine the puny intellects of the researchers, and the "problems" that intrigue them as a result of that puniness. Obviously, trapped within the constraints of their narrow vision, they felt that it was worthwhile to study the link between conservatism and maladaptive personality traits, because their little minds already saw the connection. Therefore, it was just a matter of confirming their well-worn biases.

A deeper intellect will see much different problems. Reality is hierarchical and layered, so that something that is true on a shallow level may be false on a deeper level. Again, academia confines itself to such a superficial level, that it ends up being a self-reinforcing enterprise, that then makes you believe that reality is confined to that single level. For example, few things are more fascinating to the enfeebled intellects of academia than diversity, a construct which holds not the slightest interest to an intellect of greater depth. So how do you even debate a person who thinks that skin color is of vital importance? There’s nothing to discuss, because I honestly don’t remember how to be so stupid, whereas they frankly don’t have the capacity to be any deeper. There is simply no point of contact.

I saw a beautiful example of this incredible stupidity on dailykos yesterday. It was written by a couple who are deeply disturbed at the prospect of the Supreme Court putting an end to government mandated racial discrimination, because of the effect it will have on “diversity.” They are presently in the process of selecting a school for their kindergarten aged daughter. They have about seven schools to choose from and are weighing a number of criteria, including -- I kid you not -- “number of GLBT families and GLBT-friendly staff,” and the exact racial breakdown: “Specifically, the balance of race.... We eliminate from consideration ANY school that has more than 60% of a single ethnic group.” Naturally, they have had to eliminate several “excellent schools,” but one wonders how they can be simultaneously excellent and insufficiently diverse?

The writer claims that “we want [our child] to learn that the real world is one of many different types of people of different races, sexualities, ethnicities, languages, etc., to learn not to make judgements based on race or religion or ethnicity.” But by indoctrinating their daughter to believe that race determines anything, aren’t they teaching just the opposite? That we should by law be forced to make such odious distinctions? They also say they want their daughter “to learn that many different viewpoints can come to the truth better than just a few.” How can this absurd statement possibly be true? Truth is true, irrespective of whether a million people believe it or no one believes it. But for the multiculturalist, all falsehoods are equally true.

Which comes back to my original point about the silly study linked to yesterday. From the moment I entered graduate school, one of the issues that most fascinated me was this question of psychopathology. We all know that mental illness exists -- although even then, there was a big movement among leftist psychologists in the 1960’s arguing that mental illness didn’t really exist, and that it was essentially a designation assigned by the powerful to the powerless (which is why politically correct psychologists call patients "clients" or "consumers of mental health services").

But to say “mental illness” is to say “mental health,” and to say “mental health” is to say design and function. In short, the mind, just like any other organ, was designed to do something. To the extent that it fails to achieve this end, it is in a state of pathology, or ill health.

So before we address the question of whether conservatism is a form of mental illness, we must first determine what the mind was designed to do. I didn’t read the study, but I seriously doubt that the researchers took it upon themselves to do this. Nor will I be able to do so today, because I’ve just run out of time. Perhaps tomorrow, if anyone’s interested.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Rhythm & Booze (1.16.12)

Continuing with the subject of the false Holy Spirit, the only way to guard against this is to first and foremost seek truth, and then allow joy to be a byproduct. If you seek first the joy, then you will become the sort of "intellectual drunkard" that is so popular in Europe. There, babbling intellectual drunks and leftist whinos are elevated to great authority, as if their opinion matters more than Joe the Plumber's. Here in the US we mainly quarantine them in universities, and otherwise don't take them too seriously.

The joy of the intellectual drunk is just the intoxicated self-satisfaction of the narcissistic child, who needs others to mirror his greatness and to reassure him that he really is the center of the universe. Now that I have a three-and-a-half year old who is at the zenith of his narcissistic joy, I have even more insight into the psychodynamics of the tenured, whose narcissism appropriates their intelligence in the service of a joyous celebration of the self. Hence the adages, "publish then perish," and "let the dead bury the tenured."

As UF explains, the difference between dead and living truth is that the former is born in the false joy of intoxication, while the latter results in a kind of "sober joy." In turn, this joy "is the key which opens the door to understanding the Arcanum of the world as a work of art," because the joy is a result of a sort of inner harmony; or specifically, a "rhythmic harmony" between the inner and outer, above and below:

"Joy is therefore the state of inner rhythm with outer rhythm, of rhythm below with that of above, and, lastly, of the rhythm of created being with divine rhythm." Call it the Tao, if you like, for the essence of Taoism involves harmonizing oneself with these greater cosmic rhythms. Ignoring them will bring pain and disorder, one way or the other.

Existence and life are a function of countless rhythms at every level of being, and this is what, say, the I Ching drives at -- at harmonizing human and divine rhythms, which results in intrinsic joy.

For example, what is the joy of the Christmas season? It is partly a result of everyone being locked into the rhythm of the season, which not only resonates with "heaven," but with all past Christmases. Everything reminds us of this rhythm -- the smells, the lights, the music, the foods. Premodern man always lived in this kind of rhythm, since festivals were not restricted to once a year, but occurred throughout the year, and were the principle means of "marking time." Thus, he was constantly resonating with heaven, and being brought back to celestial essences. He was not a slave to the jagged rhythms of modernity, which tend to detach man from his source.

Interestingly, as I have written of before, we come into the world in a state of "rhythmic chaos," so that the most important function of early parenting is to help the child internalize various rhythms, which will achieve physiological and psychological "set points," including with regard to sleep, hunger, emotion, etc.

As I noted in my book, a mentally ill person will always suffer from some sort of dysregulation, say, of self esteem, or shame, or anger, or impulse control. The dysregulation results in chronic disharmony between inner and outer (not to mention, above and below), so that they then have difficult relationships or problems with work or creativity.

In fact, I can see how my blogging is a result of an inner rhythm and resonance between various levels of being, that is now "locked in," so to speak. It is not something I would have ever thought possible before I started doing it. But again, as UF says, this type of "living rhythm" is basically joy. Which in turn is why the primordial state of man and nature is one of joy: "that the world, in so far as it is a divine creation, is a kingdom of joy. It was only after the Fall that suffering became added to joy."

Now, one of the good things about the Fall is that one may consider it as literally or as metaphorically as one wishes. My main concern is the mechanism through which the Fall repeats itself, and what we can do about it.

In the case of Future Leader, I will be watching very carefully to see that the Conspiracy doesn't get to him too early, before he has had the chance to stably internalize the celestial rhythms, which in turn become a spiritual touchstone for the remainder of one's life. Soon enough, the conspiracy will get its hooks into him and try to rob him of his slack. But with a good foundation, one can repel the pressures of the world, and retain one's ground of slack. To lose this ground is... to lose everything, at least for the Raccoon.

Some children are robbed of their slack so early in life, that it is very likely that they have no conscious recollection of it, of "paradise." Nevertheless, there will definitely be an unconscious recollection of deprivation of their birthright, except that they will then project it onto present circumstances. Given the appalling level of parenting in the Islamic world, one must conclude that this is central to their chronic whining, victimization, paranoia, externalization of blame, homicidal rage, and bizarre combination of superiority and psychic brittleness.

But the same dynamic no doubt motivates the liberal, who imagines that mother government can make up for the Great Lost Entitlement of Infancy. I have no doubt that this condition has only been aggravated over the past two or three decades, what with the rise of daycare, which results in so many children being denied their birthright.

In other words, unlike adults, the infant is entitled to his omnipotence, and if you fail to provide it to your infant, he will spend the rest of his life either searching for it (the victim) or imagining that he is its source (the narcissist). The former needs the psychic bailout of the breast; the latter imagines that he is the breast. Obama is the breast; his cult members are the hungry mouths.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

False Truth, Ugly Beauty, and a Super Model of Reality (1.12.12)

We're winding down to the exciting conclusion of Meditations on the Tarot, which is a good thing, because I'm shrt on tme again.

Let's see.... yes, the dangers of beauty. I would say that on the whole, men are more aware of this danger than women, being that women are the primary danger.

Can Truth, Love, and Beauty have a "dark side?" Of course. It mainly happens when one of them gets separated from the other two, like when a sock falls out of your drier and tries to go it alone (Seinfeld). It doesn't get very far, does it? Oh sure, it's thrilling at first to feel the static electricity coursing along your heel, as you cling to another item of clothing in order to make your great escape. But then what? You fall off into the street, somewhere between the laundromat and your car. That's when you find out the truth about maverick socks. And it isn't pretty.

Here's how UF explains it: the good severed from the beautiful "hardens into principles and laws -- it becomes pure duty." Likewise, "the beautiful which is detached from the good... becomes softened into pure enjoyment -- stripped of obligation and responsibility." This is the "art for art's sake" of an aesthetic hedonism that soon becomes luciferic at best.

"The hardening of the good into a moral code and the softening of the beautiful to pure pleasure is the result of the separation of the good and beautiful -- be it morally, in religion, or in art. It is thus that a legalistic moralism and a pure aestheticism of little depth have come into existence."

On the one hand, you can have the clenched religious type without joy or art (or, conversely, with a joy and art that are equally kitsch), who co-arises with his shadow, the increasingly antisocial artiste who has become more or less detached from objective truth and virtue (or, conversely, becomes a tedious purveyor of political correctness as a substitute for truth and decency). Soon enough beauty falls down the wayslide as well, so that art no longer even justifies its existence, for man has no cosmic right to produce ugly art.

You will notice that when the Creator was finished with his work, he said to himsoph, it is good, for Sophia was right there with him as He drew a *circle* on the face of the deep (Proverbs 22). Which is why this beautiful creation is infused with so much inexhaustible -- and beautiful -- truth. Which is none other then the Divine Light in all its metaphysical transparency.

So, the arcanum of The World is here to offer a gentle warning to those who would mess with the Creator's woman, because she is your sister (Proverbs 7), not your wife, got that? For it is written, the moment you become "wise in your own eyes," you become either a wise guy or a wise ass.

Now, just as there are true illuminations from the Holy Spirit -- the book of Proverbs being a fine example -- "so there are intoxications from the spirit of mirage," which UF calls the "false Holy Spirit." Here we are dealing not just with Maya, but the dark side of Maya -- who, on the one hand, is the power of "cosmic illusion," but on the other, the Creator's divine consort, or Shakti, which means conscious force (forgive the Hinduisms, but it just so happens that they have a very precise language to describe these maters, whereas Christianity often speaks of them in more metaphorical language that must be decoded, e.g., the polarity of Mary-Eve).

UF outlines the criteria for distinguishing between the two: if you seek only "the joy of artistic creation, spiritual illumination and mystical experience," it is ineveateapple that you will "more and more approach the sphere of the spirit of mirage" and become increasingly seduced and hypnotized by it. Been there, done that.

BUT, if you first seek for truth in the above referenced activties, "you will approach the sphere of the Holy Spirit" and open more and more to its influence, which brings with it an entirely different mode of joy and coonsolation, for it is in no way "egoic." Rather, it tends to reverse the forces that result in either hardening or dispersion of the ego. Call it a "soft and supple center," which is none other than the divine slack and d'light immaculate that abides in "Raccoon Central," or "Toots' Tavern" -- where it is always "happy hour."

UF discusses the nature of mirages, which are not the same as hallucinations, as they are rooted in something that is "really there" -- like when the asphalt up ahead on the way to Vegas looks "wet," or when you think you can beat the house once you arrive there. But the mirage is a sort of "floating reflection of reality," which is nonetheless one step removed from it. And this is indeed the problem with what most people call "truth," including the scientistic truth of our jester, which floats atop the Real like a missing sock that I wish he'd stuff in his mouth, to put it poetically.

I remember back in my college days, you'd occasionally hear a guy say that he wanted to meet a girl who didn't play games. Well, that's what Maya does, all day long. Her "lila" goes on unceasingly, which is why we need to get "beneath her veils," if I may put it so indelicately. This is because on the one hand, she "reveals God by manifesting him," but on the other hand "hides him by covering him."

Correction. It's not so much that we remove the veils, but appreciate what they are hiding, which is pretty obvious if you've ever seen the annual Victoria's Secret show -- which I've only heard about through Dupree. The point is, the veils -- we're speaking of reality now, not the supermodels.... no, I suppose we're talking about both -- simultaneously reveal and conceal, depending upon the spirit with which you look. As part of our standard equipment, we are all given a pair of X-ray Specs with which to see through the veils to the "ground." Sadly, they don't work on the supermodels.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Art and Recollection: Where There's Holy Smoke, There's Divine Fire (1.10.12)

[T]he world is fundamentally neither a mechanism, nor an organism, nor even a social community -- neither a school on a grand scale nor a pedagogical institution for living beings -- but rather a work of divine art: at one and the same time a choreographic, musical, poetic, dramatic work of painting, sculpture and architecture. --Meditations on the Tarot

What if we actually lived only in a world of scientific truth but no intrinsic beauty? In addition to being an "impossible world" -- existence as such being an exteriorization of the divine beauty -- our very lives would be a cold and joyless task, like removing the Guy Ritchie tattoos from Madonna's wizened hide.

"Beauty is a crystallization of some aspect of universal joy; it is something limitless expressed by means of a limit" (Schuon). Beauty is both container and contained (♀ and ♂), or an explosive force within a limiting boundary. The world is this boundary, or the "frame" around God's canvas.

Now, as UF explains, the idea of the world as a work of art is implicit in Genesis, being that existence is a result of a creative act. So-called creationists focus way too much on the inevitable result of the act, rather than the act itself, which would have to constitute the very source and essence of creativity.

Furthermore, it is vital to bear in mind that the cosmogony of Genesis is a vertical, not horizontal, act. When Genesis says "In The Beginning," it really means in the beginning of the eternal creative act that is always happening now and which sustains the universe.

This is actually not merely an esoteric Bobservation, but standard Thomistic philosophy. "In the beginning" refers not to the temporal beginning, but to the atemporal beginning, or the beginning of time as such -- which "flows" from (and back to) eternity. It is the metaphysical, not the physical, or scientific, beginning. Therefore, as Aquinas knew,

"God is necessary as an uncaused cause of the universe even if we assume that the universe has always existed and thus had no beginning. The argument is not that the world wouldn't have got started if God hadn't knocked down the first domino at some point in the distant past; it is that it wouldn't exist here and now, or undergo change or exhibit final causes here and now unless God were here and now, and at every moment, sustaining it in being, change, and goal-directedness" (Feser).

In short, the "first cause" is above, not behind. But because it is above, it is necessarily ahead, which is in turn why the present cosmos is the "shadow" of its final fulfillment: "I am Alpha and Omega."

Similarly, as Perry observes, "from the cosmological perspective, creation is a progressive exteriorization of that which is principially interior, an alternation between the essential pole and the substantial pole of a Single Principle." Again, of the two, essence is the more interior, and therefore takes priority. Essence could never be derived from substance alone, which is one more reason why it is absurd to insist that consciousness could ever be derived from matter.

What? Oh yes. Petey would like me to remind you that this is the meaning of "One's upin a timeless," as it refers to God's eternal creative activity, which, because it constitutes the true (vertical) beginning, necessarily encompasses the end of all things, or the eschatology of the world. Was that unclear? Perhaps Schuon can shed a little more obscurity on the subject:

"Art has a function that is both magical and spiritual: magical, it renders present principles, powers and also things that it attracts by virtue of a 'sympathetic magic'; spiritual, it exteriorizes truths and beauties in view of our interiorization, of our return to the 'kingdom of God that is within you.' The Principle becomes manifestation so that manifestation might rebecome the Principle, or so that the 'I' might return to the Self; or simply, so that the human soul might, through given phenomena, make contact with the heavenly archetypes, and thereby with its own archetype."

In turn, this is why, as Eliot observed, our end precedes our beginning, and we may travel round the cosmos only to return to the beginning and know it for the first time.

Zero, point, line, circle, and repent as necessary. The Father is O, the Son is •, and the Holy Ghost is (↓↑). Please note that the black fire of the dot is written on the white fire of the unKnown Godhead, while the arrows are the smoke and flames, respectively. Where there is "holy smoke," the flames of agni cannot be far above. Thus the "agni and ecstasy" referred to on page 16 of my book.

The movement from essence towards substance is also the movement of "the center toward the circumference" and "unity towards multiplicity" (Perry). Nevertheless, the center is always there at the periphery -- hence God's immanence and the resultant sacredness of the world -- and the unity is always in the multiplicity -- hence the possibility of the recollection of both union and unity, at any time or any place. Except perhaps at a strip mall in Idaho.

Now, as UF notes, the self-beclowning materialist or scientistic jester is "like the reader of a manuscript who, instead of reading and understanding the thought of the author, occupies himself with the letters and syllables. He believes that the letters wrote themselves and combined themselves into syllables, being moved by mutual attraction, which, in its turn, is the effect of chemical or molecular qualities of the ink as 'matter' common to all the letters, and of which the letters and syllables are epiphenomena."

Of this, Petey would like to say, And you pay good money to have your children exposed to this absurd crap?

[B]eauty stems from the Divine Love, this Love being the will to deploy itself and to give itself, to realize itself in 'another'; thus it is that 'God created the world by love'.... All terrestrial beauty is thus by reflection a mystery of love. It is, 'whether it likes it or not,' coagulated love or music turned to crystal, but it retains on its face the imprint of its internal fluidity, of its beatitude and of its liberality... --Schuon

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Oi, Such a Beautiful World! (1.09.12)

The World is conspiring today to prevent my post about The World. So this one may be very short. The Boy spiked a fever in the middle of the night, I overslept, and I need to leave early for work. So let's get started. Consider this just an opening blast.

Now that we know who we are, it's time to find out what the world is. Naturally, we tend to conflate the world with our characteristic way of knowing it, but it is always "more" than this or that point of view, something the materialist seems constitutionally incapable of appreciating.

That is, a particular danger in our day and age is to regard the world as nothing more than a reflection of our mundane scientific way of knowing it. But if this is taken too literally, as in the manner of our scientistic jester, it always does violence to reality. Just because the world may be known scientifically, it hardly means that it is nothing more than a material object.

You can also treat a human being like a material object, but we all know that a person is infinitely more than that. A person includes materiality while always transcending it. Our true identity could never be a function of any materialist doctrine, if for no other reason than it unfolds through time, and cannot be unambiguously given in space, as can a material object. (And even that is no longer true, since the quantum world consists of vibrating energy, and vibrations necessarily require time.)

This reminds me of the old joke about the two behavioral psychologists who meet in the elevator. The one says to the other, "You're fine. How am I?"

It also reminds me of a Star Trek episode I was watching with Future Leader the other day. Dr. McCoy angrily says something to Spock to the effect of, "You are the most cold-hearted creature I've ever met!" Spock calmly responds, "Why thank you, Doctor."

Anyway, the last arcanum of Meditations on the Tarot is The World. It is no coincidence that this is the final card, for the sum total of our previous meditations should begin to facilitate an ability to regard the world as a work of art, with all that implies.

Now, intellect is to truth as will is to virtue and love is to the beautiful. It's quite simple, really: Truth is what we must know; good is what we must do; and beauty is what we must love. Now, go away and sin no more.

Being that beauty is the splendor of the true, there is obviously a deep and abiding connection between truth and beauty, knowledge and art, for surely art is a way of deeply knowing beautiful truths about the world that are inaccessible to science per se (although, as we all know, aesthetics enters science through the side door, for example, in the beauty of mathematics.)

I think more than any other theologian of whom I am aware (with the possible exception of Balthasar; among the more secular philosophers, Schopenhauer is supreme), Schuon had a deep and sensitive understanding of the role of beauty in the cosmic economy. He said so may brilliant things about it, that it's rather difficult to get to the essence in the space of short post, but here are a few, conveniently taken from the pithy little book I just finished, Echoes of Perennial Wisdom:

"The cosmic, and more particularly the earthly, function of beauty is to actualize in the intelligent and sensitive creature the recollection of essences, and thus to open the way to the luminous night of the one and infinite Essence."

In ether worlds, essence is opposed to existence as substance is to form. Just as the function of man's intelligence is to discern between accidents and reality, the function of the aesthetic sense is to discern between form and essence, the latter of which is always more inward, whether it is in a poem, painting, musical performance -- or the world. In other words, the world has an inner essence that reveals itself in the mode of formal beauty, which is only "everywhere."

I noticed a trivial example of this the other day while out mountain biking. The bike trail winds through "virgin nature," which, for reasons that are indeed mysterious, is essentially always beautiful -- even the random patterns of rocks strewn about always seem "just so," as if carefully arranged by a Japanese painter or landscape artist.

But along the trail I saw a piece of broken concrete. I have no idea how it got there, but it didn't belong. Frankly, it was ugly, and was obviously out of place. Furthermore, there was no place you could have placed it and made it fit in. It was an aesthetic error, which, when you think about it, is an interesting way of putting it, for it again emphasizes that there is surely truth in beauty.

Interestingly, a couple of years ago, after a brush fire passed our way, I discovered an old abandoned vehicle that must have been there since the 1950's. (Come to think of it, I think that was the day Hoarhey stumbled in here, but that's another story. I remember, because if I am not mistaken, he was able to identify the make of the vehicle.)

Anyway, as a result of the years of mother nature working on it, it had become beautiful in its own way, whereas a new car dumped there in the middle of the scene would have been jarring and lacking in aesthetic harmony and proportion.

Schuon: "Beauty is a reflection of Divine Bliss; and since God is Truth, the reflection of His Bliss will be that mixture of happiness and truth which is to be found in all beauty.... The beauty of the sacred is a symbol or a foretaste of, and sometimes a means to, the joy that God alone possesses.... Sacred art helps man to find his own center, that kernel whose nature is to love God.... The sacred is an apparition of the Center, it immobilizes the soul and turns it towards the inward."

Yes. Just as truth is a reflection of the "divine light," beauty bubbles over with the divine joy, or ananda. Sometimes my son is so beautiful to me, I literally can't stand it. I suppose it's related to the Jewish concept of plotzing with naches over your kids. Oi! Such a ponim on that boychik!

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Secrets to Manifesting Your Destiny! (1.06.12)

I was struck by a post while visiting Walt's place yesterday, which seems awfully negligent on his part. Should I file a personal injury lawsuit? I don't know, but in Significant Indications, he has an excerpt by a trend-settin' Tibetan on how to assess spiritual progress, who writes of how "a reversed attitude indicates a transformation." In fact, in today's post, A Satisfactory Life, Walt has a passage by Franklin Merrell-Wolff, who elaborates on this idea:

"I find that, as the days go by, there is a re-organization and consolidation of life about a new center. The thrill of new Awakening, that at first so dominates and sweeps personal consciousness, gradually becomes a quiet steadiness on a level of new confidence. I cannot say I feel any regret for the old life. I do not find any inhibition that would restrain me from dipping into any phase of old experience if I desired and found it convenient to do so. I do not feel the restless urge for outer adventure that formerly I felt so strongly."

I wanted to include these observations in the context of our recent discussion of the destiny drive. The thing about real spiritual growth is that it brings changes that you would not have necessarily willed, any more than a pre-pubescent child wills puberty. At least I didn't. I'm still trying to adjust.

Likewise, sometimes spiritual change can be rather disorienting, as the old interests that once oriented your life "drop away" and one reorganizes around a new center. This "unexpectedness" is one of the hallmarks of real change and growth -- a kind of seal of authenticity -- and it is again the exact opposite of that which is promised by the new agers and integralists, such as this appalling gobshite:

Look at that scheming face. Would you buy used or even new karma from a guy like that?

You see, if you will "spiritual change" with your ego, you're just going to end up with a bloated and more grasping ego, not any kind of genuine spiritual transformation, which requires surrender and then acceptance, even resignation, not to mention trials, pop quizzes, and a final exam. If you know ahead of time that you will simply be granted whatever your wretched ego desires, what kind of change is that? This will not redeem the ego, but further harden it by fostering the illusion that it can have perfect happiness in the herebelow, in its spiritually fallen state. Schuon expresses it well:

"We must tend towards Perfection because we understand it and therefore love it, and not because we desire that our ego should be perfect. In other terms, we must love and realize a virtue because it is true and beautiful, and not because it would become us if we possessed it.... One must realize the virtues for their own sake, and not in order to make them 'mine'.... Moreover, it is not we who possess a virtue, it is a virtue which possesses us."

A fraud such as Dyer would be out of business if he spoke the real truth, which is more like Ask not what God can do for you, but what you can do for God. Dyer is practicing the satanic arts (I mean that literally, not as an insult), in that he is simply employing seduction and hypnosis over the gullible. Like Schuon, he would sell few books if he were to convey hard spiritual truths such as

"Much is said about the subtle illusions and seductions which lead the spiritual pilgrim astray from the straight path and provoke his fall. Now, these illusions can only seduce him who desires some benefit for himself, such as powers or dignities or glory." But he who "seeks nothing earthly, so that he is indifferent to being forgotten by the world," "such a man possesses true poverty and nothing can seduce him."

This is the great Nothing-Everything, for "In true poverty, there remains only existence pure and simple, and existence is in its essence Being, Consciousness and Beatitude. In poverty there remains nothing more for man than what he is, thus all that is" (Schuon).

It is not that matter or sensation are shunned -- far from it -- but our priorities are straight, and we have the proper balance between the inner and outer. The point is not to deny the exterior, but "to remove oneself from its seductive tyranny" (Schuon). In real spiritual transformation, the inner takes precedence over the outer, through which the latter becomes "enriched" in a compensatory manner. The converse can never occur -- that is, enriching your exterior will never result in interior transformation of the spiritual substance.

To put it another way, you cannot will your destiny, at least until you have truly recognized it. And even then, once it is recognized, one mainly senses it in subtle ways, such as a sense of "being on the right track." In fact, in my book, I think I compared it to a kind of vehicle that is guided by a nonlocal field. It is like trying to learn how to steer within this nonlocal field, and one must be quite sensitive to do this. I imagine that it is somewhat similar to how certain animals have an interior guidance system that allows them to migrate back home, only transposed to a higher key. We all have this spiritual homing device as part of our standard equipment, but it is not like a two-dimensional map, much less a train track.

This oming devoice allows us to perceive ever so subtle indicators that our idiom is near -- in a book, person, myth, daydream, vision, aesthetic object, whatever. It is as if we project it slightly ahead of ourselves, and respond to the projection. To have "no direction" is the essence of the spiritually alienated state. I know that one of the most painful consequences of both clinical depression and anxiety is that they rob the person of spiritual direction, and therefore meaning.

On the other hand, depression can be a sort of "divine gift" if one uses it as an occasion to reclaim one's spiritual destiny and get back on the right track. Indeed, I would imagine that most Raccoons have at one time or another been shown their fate in the form of depression, despair, meaningless, etc., which was then a jumping off point for rediscovering their destiny.

The fated person, as Bollas writes, "is fundamentally interred in an internal world of self and object representations that endlessly repeat the same scenarios," and "has very little sense of a future that is at all different from the internal environment they carry around with them. The sense of fate is a feeling of despair to influence the course of one's life." Not for nothing is Groundhog Day considered one of the most profound spiritual parables ever to make it to film.

"A sense of destiny, however, is a different state, when the person feels he is moving in a personality progression that gives him a sense of steering his course." It is as if the future is able to "reach back" or down and touch the now, whereas the fated person is trapped by the past reaching forward and strangling the present:

"Instead of feeling the energy of the destiny drive and of 'possessing' futures which nourish the person in the present and creatively serve to explore pathways for potential travel, the fated person only projects the oracular" -- by which Bollas means the oppressive and mystifying voice of the dead and unalterable past. As a result, they "repress" their own living future, as it is just too painful to contemplate what might have been of their enslaved and wasted life.

Sometimes, such a person will wallow in their fate as a way to compensate for the loss of their destiny. Here again, one thinks of the victim culture of the left. But this is a real sin, for man has a right "to suffer from an injustice in so far as he cannot rise above it, but he must make an effort to do so; in no case has he the right to sink into a pit of bitterness, for such an attitude leads to hell" (Schuon).

Sunday, December 14, 2008

My Response to Our Windy Hindi

Our intrepid Windy Hindi (see yesterday's comment @ 8:28 PM) says he would be willing to engage in a dialogue with me so long as I refrain from hurting his feelings, so let's begin. Being that I have a few moments between the time Mrs. G. leaves for church and Mini Me wakes up, I'd better hurry. Forgive typos and other barbarisms.

The Windy Hindi objects to my seemingly uncontroversial statement that "only a fool would mingle lies with truth and label it 'integralism.'" Instead, he vouches for the wisdom of conflating the two, even citing an isolated passage by India's most celebrated 20th century sage, Sri Aurobindo, to support his unorthodox view:

"The rejection of falsehood by the mind seeking after truth is one of the chief causes why mind cannot attain to the settled, rounded & perfect truth; not to escape falsehood is the effort of [the] divine mind, but to seize the truth which lies masked behind even the most grotesque or far-wandering error."

I would like to see the total context of this passage, in part because Aurobindo said many things in many different contexts and from diverse planes of consciousness, often revising them -- if he had time -- from the standpoint of later understanding. His ideas evolved over the years with new realizations, and his work was left unfinished when he died. Very few of his works were edited by him before their publication, so this or that particular statement must be taken with a grain of salt. However, what he considered his most important work, the epic poem Savitri, was completed just prior to his death. You could say that it is his "last will and testament," spiritually speaking.

Still, I see no objection to the general view that we do not attempt to "escape falsehood" so much as embrace the truth, which is fully consistent with the esoteric meaning of Jesus' statement about not resisting evil. I have written any number of posts on this subject -- the idea that falsehood is a reaction to, shadow of, or parasite on, truth, so that where there is falsehood there is truth. In fact, ironically, I wrote this just yesterday! As I have said on a number of occasions, only the lie requires the thinker, as Truth is anterior to man.

In this regard, it is certainly possible to "seize the truth which lies masked behind even the most grotesque or far-wandering error." For example, I am perfectly willing to concede that most leftists, although engaged in "grotesque or far-wandering errors," are nevertheless motivated by a misguided desire to do good.

I think the Windy Hindi would have to live in America to see how it is the opposite of what he describes: in general, conservatives think that liberals are decent people, just misguided; but liberals truly think that conservatives are evil and have consciously bad intentions. I have many liberal friends. On the other hand, as I have written before, we have longstanding friends who have dropped us as a result of discovering that my wife was conservative -- even though she rarely if ever spoke of politics with them, and she is about as gentle a soul as you could imagine!

For example, at my office party the other day, a liberal woman casually stated that the "real reason" President Bush went into Iraq was to try to convert them to fundamentalist Christianity. I can't imagine saying something morally equivalent of liberals, say, that the real reason they are in favor of abortion is because they wish to commit genocide against blacks, being that blacks undergo a disproportionate number of abortions.

WH then goes on to suggest that "The undivided Ishwara is behind all points of view, all ideologies and all philosophies. If something seems horrible to you, it only means your own vision needs to be adjusted. This is the great play of masks, the Lila of the Divine, and only those committed to a life of love and courage over and above all petty human ideologies can embrace it."

This is frankly just half-digested gibberish with no metaphysical foundation. I don't want to get too pedantic here, but Ishvara is basically equivalent to the personal God of the Judeo-Christian tradition. You might say that Ishvara is the face that the unKnowable ultimate reality, Brahman, shows to humans. It is manifestly false to say that "Ishvara is behind all points of view," for it denies the fact that the divine involution extends through many hierarchical planes between God and matter, or O and ( ).

True, as Schuon puts it, one of the "possibilities" of God is his paradoxical negation in the nothingness of evil, but it is perverse to then say that evil is actually from God. Evil must exist if there is to be a creation separate from the Creator: "there is none good but the One." It is heterodox in the extreme to suggest that God therefore wills evil just because he wills creation.

WH then says that "Some day, I'd like to see you have the courage to call Sri Aurobindo and the Mother 'counterfeiters' too." No, they clearly weren't counterfeiters, even if clearly imperfect. I reserve the term "counterfeiter" for obvious frauds such as Deepak and his ilk. However, I would not hesitate to point out where I differ from Sri Aurobindo or anyone else, as there is no right superior to that of Truth.

WH says that "if you've ever interacted with the Integral Yoga community in America and elsewhere in the world, you would find Sri Aurobindo and the Mother incorporated many, many aspects of what you would consider 'leftism' into their philosophy and their ideals of community life."

This is just false. I have no objection to people engaging in communitarian living if that is their choice in the micro arena. After all, we're all communists in our home life, are we not? We have neighbor kids who wander in our house at any time of the day and snatch something out of the fridge without having to ask. It's another thing entirely to force this system on a whole nation, which Sri Aurobindo never advocated. I mean, here in the slackatoreum, what's mine is Future Leader's, and what's his is his. We all share and share alike, only some of us share more than others. Namely me. But it's my choice. It would lose its virtue if I were forced against my will by the state to do this with total strangers.

Another important point is that Aurobindo turned away the vast majority of people who sought him out to become disciples, as spiritually unfit for his path. Doesn't sound very egalitarian to me!

WH then makes a statement with which I could never agree under any circumstances, that "yoga and morality are totally different things." Truth is pointless unless it results in real virtue. Virtue is the prolongation of the consciousness of vertical truth into the horizontal plane, so an unvirtuous sage is, in my opinion, a contradiction in terms. A real sage will veritably radiate goodness.

WH claims that "Truth transcends all ideologies and all moral/ethical systems." Here again, I agree, with the caveat that there are gradations and degrees of truth, and just because only ultimate Truth is true, it hardly means that everything else is absolutely false. This contradicts his previous statement that our task is to mine the truth behind the appearance of falsehood. In fact, this was one of Aurobindo's key points, that the world is "maya," or illusion, but not only illusion. Rather, it is a "projection" of ultimate reality, so it partakes of the mystery of divine immanence. This is no different than Christian teaching.

WH says that he has "no personal stake in the silliness of human politics, whether in America or elsewhere." I consider this just plain silliness, for to avoid choosing is a choice. Perhaps if he were one of the people murdered in Mumbai, he would realize that he does have a stake in politics. He is naive to suggest that Aurobindo had no interest in politics, as his early life was dominated by the issue of India's independence. Only after he clearly saw that India's independence was secure did he retreat from the movement. But even then, he took an intense interest in World War II, not to mention the communist threat to India. He felt that his spiritual work would end if Hitler or Stalin were to triumph.

WH says that "I would suspect, frankly, that even Traditionalists, most of all Schuon himself, would probably also object to how their work has been chopped up to fit into an ideology on your blog." Yes, there is no question about that. I have many differences with the Traditionalists. Then again, Schuon was a severe critic of Aurobindo, so there you go. And most Orthodox Christians could never accept much of what Schuon has to say. Again, for a Raccoon there is no privilege higher than Truth. We're not so concerned with the specific personalities who help to convey it, which is why any form of creepy Bobolatry is a non-starter.

"I call your scholarly and spiritual integrity into question." Regarding the former, I'm way ahead of you there. As for spiritual integrity, I don't know what to say. I'm just a guy who tries to have a little fun helping people, and that's it. I am always surprised and touched to hear that some people benefit from the blog. I don't try to help people who don't want my help, and I would never say in advance that I could help this or that person, because it's obviously not really my doing anyway. It's all spontaneous, with no other agenda than that. I would certainly never recommend my blog to anyone. I only offer it.

Perfect timing. My little Marxist is up and whining for a handout.

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