Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Lifting the Curtain on the Cosmo-Drama

Anonymous asks a fair, if needlessly windy, question, a question we all need to ask ourselves, and which I have posted about in the past. The commenter isn't really anonymous, as he has been annoyingus for months if not years. Try to overlook his signature gasbaggery and appreciate the point:

Bob, in this post you are running somewhat of a fever of the brain.

Take a few deep breaths. Visualize the following:

All athiests, liztards, leftists, moonbats and their ilk have, by a divine wind, been given coonvision overnight.

You wake up, and the liberal media has turned coonish. Every person you meet speaks in the coon lingo to you.

A week goes by. You realize that a global conversion has taken place. Everyone is a coon, and a good one. Many you meet outcoon you; they are practically unintelligibly enlightened.

Each morning during this week you go to your computer to blog. What then will you write?

Explore your feelings as you sit ready to blog in front of of your keyboard in this newly converted world, ready to address a congretation that is 100% coonified and radically so.

How do you feel?

First of all, I would turn this around, and ask this person why he reads my blog day in, day out? Why doesn't he practice what he screeches, and stick to one of those post-historical new age gurus such as Eckhart Tolle, who only concern themselves with the Power of Now, but not all of the other powers, principalities, thrones, and dominions?

And it's not just the new age hucksters, hacksters, and wacksters who fall into this category. Rather, it equally applies to genuine non-dual mystics such as Ramana Maharshi. Ultimately it comes down to the difference between Eastern and Western spiritualities, for in the East, history is a part of maya, whereas for the West, history is specifically a theo-drama, to coon a term. For us, history is not to be escaped but bobtized.

Having said that, annoymyass has a valid point, which I have again made in the past, in reference to politics. How many times have I cautioned you that you must not become a "political junkie" whose inner life is structured around the drama of politics? For it doesn't take much introspection to realize that there is a certain type of person who actually craves the kind of vital passion that is generated by politics. They only pretend to be annoyed, because without it they wouldn't know what to do or how to think. It is truly an addiction. These people actually would be lost in the absence of this polarized structure that confers meaning upon their lives. (I also think of some lawyers who get a kick out of arguing every trivial point.)

First of all, if you are going to argue about politics, it must always be in the context of a higher truth of which politics is simply the expression. Once again I would cite Dennis Prager as a role model. I know of no other media person who always discusses politics in a much wider spiritual context. I have no use whatsoever for polemicists of either the right or the left.

For one thing, you cannot trust them, for they are carried away by passion, and are not in total service to truth. There are many conservatives with whom I might technically agree, but whom I would never rely upon to get accurate news and opinion. And the reason is again that these are the "junkie" types who are only in the game for the vital passion they derive from it.

As a rule, I do not write from that space. I am aware of it when I do, and guess what? It never fails: those particular posts immediately get recognized and linked to, and generate two or three times the traffic. Just do the math: if I produced one of those red-state meat posts every day for a month, how long would it take before I went from anonymity to some sort of odious cyberfame?

But what a hellish trap! Those of you who notice these things will have noticed that I always follow up one of those screeds with the usual abnormal fare, which drives away most new readers. It's like a test: less than one in a hundred might be capable of bridging those two worlds, the vital world of politics and the metaphysical world of religion.

Anyway, back to the question. First of all, it is an absurd hopeythetical, for it proffers a strict impossibility: that fallen man is no longer fallen. If it could happen, we would be in paradise, not in history. And since we are in paradise, there is nothing to be done except to live, love, read mysictal poetry, give thanks, listen to music, watch sports, and have a couple of beers. The Cosmo-Drama is officially over.

Now, if I were one of those new age gurus giving advice to all and sundry for a hefty fee, this would actually be one of my principle teachings. That is, beyond just unplugging from the grid through prayer or meditation, you must live a substantial portion of your life from this very space every day. We joke about slack, but there is a real truth to it.

Ultimately it involves the paradox of being in the world but not of the world. Please note that Christianity emphasizes both, and to overemphasize one over the other is what I would call an intrinsic cosmic heresy. In or out? Both.

Take again the example of Ramana Maharshi. He was no longer of the world. But nor was he any longer in the world. Check out some of his teachings, and you'll see what I mean.

Bear in mind that this is not for the purpose of unfair criticism -- we'll get to that later -- but merely for the purpose of accurately presenting this acosmic, impersonal, and ahistorical mystical view: everything is abolished with the exception of the metacosmic witness which all people supposedly share with each other and with the Divine.

Whatever its merits, such a view is absolutely irreconcilable with Christianity. One can admire Schuon's lifelong project of seeking the "transcendent unity of religions," but the fact of the martyr is that one cannot reconcile Ramana Maharshi and Christ unless one does violence to one or the other teaching. For if non-dual mysticism is the truth of the cosmos, then Christ is an unnecessary distraction on the way there. He too is a part of maya. He is only a "partial truth" rather than vertical Truth itself crashing into horizontal history. Likewise, Islam does not honor Christ or Christianity by calling the former a mere "prophet."

To put it another way, there is no Christianity without drama. It is fundamentally a story that takes place in time, and which has a beginning, middle and end. You can escape the story from "below" through profane politics and other dieversions, or you can exit from "above" through mystical escapism. But for the Christian, history itself is the thing that needs to be worked upon and transformed. And each of us is a "unit of history."

I don't want to put words in his mouth, but I believe this is the whole point of Balthasar's five volume Theo-Drama. First of all, it means that what we call "history" is a subset of a drama that is taking place within the Trinity, only "inverted" and exteriorized in time, so to speak. It is indeed a theo-drama in which we can either participate or refuse participation. It is "offered" to you, but participation is not compulsory.

Therefore, we must reflect upon and try to understand the nature of this drama, for it is the whole point of existence. Or, to put it another way, in the absence of this drama, then both materialists and Eastern religions are absolutely correct in insisting that history is meaningless and even absurd, and that there is nothing for us to do but awaken from nightmare and look at ourselves in the naughtmirror.

Perhaps tomorrow I'll take a stab at outlining some of the broad contours of our cosmo-drama.

[T]he model of the theatre is a more promising point of departure for a study of theo-drama than man's secular, social activity. For in the theatre man attempts a kind of transcendence, endeavoring both to observe and to judge his own truth, in virtue of a transformation -- through the dialectic of the concealing-revealing mask -- by which he tries to gain clarity about himself....

For God's revelation is not an object to be looked at: it is his action in and upon the world, and the world can only respond, and hence "understand," through action on its part.

(BTW, I certainly wouldn't recommend the whole Theo-Drama to the average reader, but this book is supposedly a good summary.)


julie said...

Whatever its merits, such a view is absolutely irreconcilable with Christianity.

I was thinking just the same thing this weekend. If we're all god and it's all good, Christ would be completely unnecessary. As to Ramana Maharshi, he sounds like a very pleasant fellow. But after reading his first premise there (assuming that's an accurate description), I already know I can't get on board with what he has to offer.

"As all living beings desire to be happy always, without misery, as in the case of everyone there is observed supreme love for one's self, and as happiness alone is the cause for love, in order to gain that happiness which is one's nature and which is experienced in the state of deep sleep where there is no mind, one should know one's self. For that, the path of knowledge, the inquiry of the form "Who am I?", is the principal means."

Now I'm no masochist, but I also like to think I'm occasionally no fool. Misery and suffering are a part of life, and without proper doses of both I wouldn't be who I am, in some of the better senses. And I certainly wouldn't be able to realize a deustination. I don't desire to be happy always. I desire to live fully as God intends. Huge distinction. Sounds to me like the Maharshi has perhaps imbibed too deeply of strange waters.

Cory said...

Really excellent posting today. I look forward to your expanding on it (if that is what you choose to do).

It occurs to me that one of the reasons Christianity is so feared by so many is that it is a drama - which means it has an ending. And according to scripture there are winners and losers in this drama. More than a few people don't want to hear this kind of thing and take violent exception to it when they do.

Ricky Raccoon said...



“Not the feel-good movie of the summer!”

QP said...

Great post Bob. Thanks for the book recommendation too. I'd been mulling over buying the first book of Theo-Drama, but Engagement with God looks appropriate for this average reader; kinda like Aquinas' "Compendium of the Summa Theologica", which I read and comprehend from time to time.

~qp, a teeny tiny unit of history

Gagdad Bob said...

I definitely wouldn't recommend volume one of the Theo-Drama to a general audience, as it is primarily about theatre and not theology.

robinstarfish said...

You can escape the story from "below" through profane politics and other dieversions, or you can exit from "above" through mystical escapism. But for the Christian, history itself is the thing that needs to be worked upon and transformed. And each of us is a "unit of history." Excellent point. Mass movements are successful only when each individual is moving his mass.

That didn't sound right. Or maybe it did, come to think of it.


Anonymous said...

Yes, Christianity emphasizes both -- being in the world, but not of it.

Yet, I'm curious Bob why you seem to doubt -- by saying (today) that we are "supposedly (sp?)connected".

Our 'essence' lives outside time and space and for those who reached the 'Summit', the heaven experience is an inward experience ala Jesus' loose quote "turn over the stone and find heaven". In other words "Heaven is everywhere if you are there in your consciousness."

From personal experience I learned that soul bonds occur in the astral plane to the vibe of "the like attracts like" Law. When vibrating in concert with someone elses soul phrequency one feels hightened sense of love-bliss and unity. Or at least that's what it feels like to me.

Had it not been for this Law, the in-Love-ened masters and mistresses wouldn't be 'alive' to us at all.

I recall in-soul weeping and weeping last year, then suddenly I felt a hand gently caressing my face which made me weep even more! I didn't dare to open my eyes to see who it was . . .I just wanted to bask in that Love.

Theofilia (*7*)

Sal said...

"You're going out there a nobody, but you're coming back a star."
Good stuff, Bob.

I think you've expressed what was always my puzzlement with Eastern religions- nothing ever happened. Or it did, but it didn't really, because it was illusion.

On the subject of gentle introductions- I'm thinking Schumacher's 'Guide for the Perplexed" might be an easy-peasy read before OC. Haven't finished it yet, though, so don't quote me.

wv: hesse. Paging Siddhartha...

Anonymous said...

"Whatever its merits, such a view is absolutely irreconcilable with Christianity."

Well, clearly, no.

Witness Schuon, Guenon, Burckhardt, Lings, Nasr, Northbourne, Cutsinger, Stoddart, Perry, etc. All very intelligent and pious individuals, some even Christian, and in unanimous agreement that the 'realization' of Sri Ramana Marharshi is as profound as any Christian mytic's realization.

The task, therefore, since refuting the "Transcendent Unity" theory is beyond your pay grade (by the way Schuon hardly spent any time establishing that after 1950, since he had done so in such a complete fashion prior to that), is to incorporate that theory into your currently closed mental template. It will take some doing, some removing, and some opening. It is possible, though. Frankly, it is doubtful, given your current followers, however. They would be heartbroken.

Petey said...

Sorry, but if Ramana Maharshi is the equivalent of Christ, then Christ is not Christ, and all the semantic games in the world won't change that fact.

Petey said...

To put it another way, Schuon and his followers reconcile the religions by subsuming them under advaita Vedanta. But I would do so by subsuming them under Christ. This hardly means that there is no truth in them.

Petey said...

Or you might say that Christ is the transcendent unity of religion.

Gagdad Bob said...

Stratford Caldecott:

"[T]he true uniqueness of Christianity is denied by Traditionalists even as they claim to value every religion in its own sacred particularity. The question seems to come down to this: does metaphysics transcend theology, or theology transcend metaphysics?

"Of all modern Catholic authors, it is Balthasar who seems most to have thought through this question, and for him the answer is clear. Whereas for Schuon and company, intellectual intuition must transcend theology - as it transcends all human words, and indeed the formal realm per se - for Balthasar and those who follow him, the Christian faith must transform the very first principles of metaphysics. Without it, the highest principle we can know is undoubtedly Unity, the One - or else the Unknown which transcends the One in silence.

"With faith, however, that One has revealed itself as Trinity, and the inner life of the Unknown itself is made known, not in human words but in the language of God himself (which we do not grasp but which grasps us), as an eternal Love beyond both compassion and desire. The failure to receive this truth in faith leads the Traditionalist authors to a distorted understanding of Christianity, as they try to fit it to the Procrustean bed of a universal metaphysics that the Christian revelation transcends."

will said...

All that went before and all that will come after is integrated, thus transcended in Christ.

wv: munchi

Anonymous said...

The status of Ramana Maharshi would itself seem to be a sufficient indicator of the distinction between the Raccoon view and the Wilber/Integral view. The Wilber crowd holds him up as the ne plus ultra of spiritual attainment.

It took me years to do the math and see what it all added up to...zero, really. And that came as no relief. That's why I am willing, eager really, to grapple with one cosmos month after month...

will said...

I think there is a certain point reached whereby one not only participates in the Drama d'Theo, but one *becomes* the drama in microcosm. This is, in my humble estimation, the highest form of spiritual participation - it's both a "being in the thick of it" and a transcendence, both a trial by fire and a transcendence of suffering.

Ricky Raccoon said...

Well...pack it up, boys.
The jig is up.
Bob, I'll lock up.

NoMo said...

Thanks, RR! I was wondering where I left that link.


Gagdad Bob said...

Well, at least that's one way to get them to finally admit that the relative absence of transitional species is a problem for the theory. Darwin himself said that there must be countless transitional species, or his theory fails. So look for Darwinians to replace "countless" with "one."

Mrs. G said...

Can I be a witness? (to paraphrase Marvin Gaye)
One of the magical ways Bob has changed my life is to show me Slack. I was completely devoid of it when I met him (I still don't quite know how he saw my potential...)

I eventually burned out and was faced with the choice of regrouping and going back at the Type A lifestyle, leading to even worse burnout. Or to dematerialize and rematerialize a different person. Thank God I chose the latter. My sister chose the former, which was a very painful process to witness.

Bob lived the Slackful life and eventually I caught on, too, and realized that our lack of lavish vacations was not because Bob was overly frugal. He actually did take a vacation every day, just like he said.

It was a slow process, but I learned to pull myself back each time I had a rush of being excited about something that would take me out of the moment and into the future. The thoughts were often disguised as hope, planning, ambition, or wishful thinking. The sooner I could identify their pull, the faster and more effectively I could resist them and avoid getting pulled out of the present.

Being a full-time mom has allowed me to be in quite a timeless state. There's the now, there's naptime, and Miller time, basically.

The day-to-day Slack-filled life is one of my favorite topics. I am glad there are others here who are also searching for the elusive Slack.

Mrs. G

julie said...

Will, indeed.

Ricky Raccoon said...

No prob, Nomo, Bob.
Mrs. G, Julie (tip o’ the hat, ladies)
Actually, I file that article under, “Still more proof of God”.

julie said...

The day-to-day Slack-filled life is one of my favorite topics.

Mine, too. When DH was in law school, I actually broke down and cried once at the thought that I might turn out to be nothing but a housewife. Thank God, my worst fears were realized...

Van said...

"They think she was overcome by carbon dioxide gas from the crater, and sunk to the bottom where she was preserved in the mud as a time capsule - and a snapshot of evolution."

Damned global warming gases....

Van said...

Mrs. G said "Being a full-time mom has allowed me to be in quite a timeless state. There's the now, there's naptime, and Miller time, basically."


jwm said...

"They think she was overcome by carbon dioxide gas from the crater, and sunk to the bottom where she was preserved in the mud as a time capsule - and a snapshot of evolution."

Serves her ass right.


NoMo said...

SlackfulSlacklessHeaven. Hell.
Rest. No rest.

Slack is important.

wv cooncurs: chshing!

ximeze said...

Not so fast guys, we got gypped:
Ida had opposable big toes , 'n I can barely pick up a pencil with my foot.

Ripped Off!

NoMo said...

Ximeze - Just shows you how far we've devolved.

Anonymous said...

"[T]he true uniqueness of Christianity is denied by Traditionalists even as they claim to value every religion in its own sacred particularity. The question seems to come down to this: does metaphysics transcend theology, or theology transcend metaphysics?"

The first few words, of course, betray the bias of the author. The "uniqueness" of Christianity, is, without question, the same as the "uniqueness" of the other revealed religions in that they are authentic saving strategems. Quite obviously, in the world of "forms", there is no absolute uniqueness, but only a relative one. It goes without saying that for the Christian, this relatively unique "form" particularly speaks to him, and for the Buddhist, Buddhism speaks to him, and so on. They will, with their own particularly point of view, find the that their "own" transcends all others.
Again, Schuon has spoken on this subject so authoritatively as to require a real refutation, not a simple affirmation that, "Christianity transcends them all".
It's a bit like saying, "The Yankees are the best ball club, absolutely." A Red Sox fan would disagree.
It is a gross misrepresenation to suggest that Schuon would equate the Maharshi with the Christ. The one is a jivan mukta. The other is a major solar Avatar.

Ricky Raccoon said...

He did not come to abolish the slack...

NoMo said...

Anony - GOD INCARNATE ain't no "jivan mukta" or "major solar avatar".

wv asks, "Are you fooffs?"

will said...

The trick is to locate your slack shack while still being "in the world", ie, while in the condition of slackless-ness.

Bring Your Own Slack

s'lack of slack
will bend your back
and wrack you, Jack,
so learn the knack
and have a snack,
stay in the sack
and just lose track,
(yawn) OK, I'll get back -

will said...

the Jivin' Muktas were pretty good, as I recall, but scary-looking - all played trumpets and wore bow ties, Farrakhan-style.

julie said...

Every time this nony pipes up, I can't help picturing a pufferfish, or maybe a bullfrog, inflating itself to gigantic and impressive proportions in a desperate bid for our attention.

And yet it purports to view us as being contemptibly close-minded (and possibly stupid as well), a huckster and his brainwashed, enabling sheeple followers. One wonders what the appeal of impressing such people could possibly be. But only a little; much more than a passing puzzlement would cut severely into the essential slack time.

will said...

nony oughta order hisself a stack/
of pancakes le slack

Van said...

aninnymess said "The first few words, of course, betray the bias of the author..."

Every word, of course, betrays the bias of the nonauthor.

Yes... but please. Manbag.

wv follow-up:

Gagdad Bob said...

I wonder why the Darwinians are so beside themselves today, if their theory is as uncontroversial as gravity? Strange. After all, I don't do cartwheels every time an apple falls to the ground.

Ricky Raccoon said...

But you could, thanks be to gravity..

julie said...

"If the man in the Moon Were a Coon"
I can't believe that's actually a song.

But I can believe that, given its existence, you not only know of it but were able to find the link on Amazon. :D

Warren said...


You've got yourself a pretty big pair of coon-jones to be taking on Ramana Maharshi like that. It's a declaration of total war with every neo-Vedantin neo-gnostic in the world, as I'm sure you're aware. RM is their ultimate sacred wise-guy, He Whom None Shall Diss. You haven't drawn a line in the sand with this post, you've excavated the Grand Canyon - and most of us are diggin' it, too!

Warren said...

All this Darwinian talk isn't going to evoke the shade of the Scientistic Jester, is it? =8-O

Susannah said...

Bob...I was thinking just this morning how the cross changes everything.

So often, I've wondered about the cruelty and darkness that exist in this world. I read about horros and cry out in my inner being, "How long, oh Lord?" I wonder how he can countenance the inhumanity in his utter holiness.

Yet in wondering so, I lost sight of the fact that *God himself* had heaped upon him every evil, every cruel act, every betrayal, every horror...and paid the price for it all in his very being. What agony it must have been. What wondrous love drove him to it.

There is no real haggling with atheists for "the existence of God" without bringing in the cross, for that is indeed the turning point for humanity and the only answer to the so-called problem of evil. It really is the cross of Christ with which each individual must come to terms. Who will you say that he is, and what has he done there? It comes down to that.

NoMo said...

And now for your viewing pleasure, proof that we are in fact descended from monkeys! The amazing Ross sisters!Eat your heart out, Ida.

sehoy said...

Julie: "Every time this nony pipes up, I can't help picturing a pufferfish, or maybe a bullfrog, inflating itself to gigantic and impressive proportions in a desperate bid for our attention."

What a great image!

Having caught numerous pufferfish in a net, I can tell you that they puff up most when they are in distress and feeling threatened.

Pufferfish are really cute, though.


Petey, may I use pliers and a blowtorch on my brothers?

I wish I could use the pliers like the dentist did yesterday on two
of my son's baby teeth that were
seriously jammed and crooked and were refusing to fall out and allow the permanent teeth to move in.

Anonymous said...

I'm an anninymouse that has been around for years.

What I get from the post is that the struggle is THE thing. It's what's for dinner

Point to what hurts, and you'll be be on "the bird" as the dog men say.

So, to take it all home and wrap it up, when Bob slams the atheists yet again, he's pretty much pointing to the bird.

It's because we all have a little bit of atheist within us, and the whole joy of life is destroying and effacing that remanant of unbelief, that last and persistant vestigial resistance between ourselves and God.

If everyone had arrived, then it would be game over, Kali Yuga, lights out, etc. Jeez I drink too much...

sehoy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bob f. said...

"It's a declaration of total war with every neo-Vedantin neo-gnostic in the world..."

Oh, no...both of them?

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Thanks Mrs. G!

That was very touching and inspirational. Excellent advice, too. :^)

Do you think it's possible to regain that level of trust? Well, I know it's possible, but what I mean is...what's the best ways to foster that level of trust from someone who has justifiably lost it, or the ability to consistently appreciate life (ie slack)?

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Mrs. G.-

On further reflection, that's not an easily answered or fair question.
Obviously, we can't change people we love, no matter what we do or say, and I know that.

I reckon I was clutching for straws again, and for that I apologize. I can only be the best me I can possibly be and keep workin' on that and realizing more truth, goodness and beauty.
Wishiful thinking, like you said leads to burnout.

I truly am inspired by what you said, though. :^)

Skully said...

I come not to bring peace, but to bring pliers and a blowtorch. --The Sayings of Petey

For those enhanced innergration techniques.
It ain't theo-drama without the proper tools.

QP said...

I ♥ that talkin' bird.

Anybody had a Sensei sighting recently?

QP said...

Leslie, To your wise comment about living in Slack::

I'm currently participating in this online course.
Today it addresses the topic of Now with this poignant O-bservation:

Since God wishes us to be occupied with eternity, we must then be occupied with the one part of eternity which we can directly experience - the part being, of course, the present. As Lewis has Screwtape write: "He [God] would therefore have them continually concerned either with eternity (which means being concerned with Him) or with the Present - either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from, Himself, or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure."

Mrs. G said...

Dear Ben,
Thank you for your kind words. You're right about not being able to change anyone else, and wanting to do so is part of being drawn away from the present moment.

I have to fight this urge in myself no matter how many times I've already fought that battle. Just yesterday I again tried to be an annoying do-gooder and meddle in someone's affairs. Once I see it, it's so obvious, but at the moment, it's very compelling.

Just keep at it in your own life and be an example. I'll try to do the same,

Mrs. G said...

I love that quote. Thanks for that.
Mrs. G

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi Mrs. G.-

Ha ha! Annoying dogooder is a funny term, but the fact it makes one annoying can't be denied.

I concur, bein' a good doer instead, is the best option. Besides, that sure keeps more than busy (or slack) enough.

Thank you.