Monday, June 08, 2009

Extras, Walk-Ons, and Bit Players in the Cosmo-Drama

Theo-drama cannot be understood in the absence of mission. You might say that mission is to action -- or to the horizontal -- what intellection is to thought or to the vertical. Mission is a further extension of meaning. In any drama, the action is dictated by a meaning-fueled mission of some kind.

For example, the other evening I watched Bergman's The Seventh Seal. It is about a disillusioned knight who has returned from the Crusades to his plague-devastated homeland, and is in doubt about the existence of God. He then encounters the figure of Death, who informs him that his days are over. However, he strikes a deal with Death, challenging him to a game of chess. So long as he can keep the game going, Death will give him more time -- the time he needs to try to find God.

Thus, the film would mean nothing if the knight's mission weren't our mission. We too live in a plague devastated land, except that the plague is internal, not external. This soul-disease has spread like wildfire into all of our major institutions. Among other things, it renders the host insane before killing him outright, just like the other plague.

Likewise, the land is filled with superstition and sinister prophecies, as people seek scapegoats or some easy means of penance or reconciliation with the gods. Witches are being burned at the stake, confessions extracted, heretics destroyed.

But enough about political correctness.

Balthasar writes that "if every mission, in particular, every *highly nuanced mission,* is a participation in the whole mission of Christ, the drama of each particular Christian life can, in its own way, be a kind of reflection of the mission of Christ."

There is a footnote for "highly nuanced mission," stating that he means this in the sense used by his mystic friend, Adrienne von Speyr. However, he doesn't explain what that sense is. Oh well. We'll just have to guess.

My guess is that a nuanced mission is a spiritual mission. The difference between a spiritual mission and a secular one is that in the case of the former, one is co-missioned by God. It is a vertical mission that bears on the question of eternity and of ultimate meaning. If you win, you cheat Death, which is what makes the mission so deadly serious.

In contrast, a horizontal mission can be anything from winning an election to winning the World Series. It has no intrinsic meaning. Rather, it's just a little game human beings invent in order to pass the time.

In fact, self-important human beings often engage in their trivial games as if they are playing chess with Death, but in reality, they're just trying to buy more time by playing with themselves (or with a projected part of themselves). They are are hardly chess masters, only chess masturbators.

There are the lesser mysteries and the greater mysteries. I would suggest that to be baptized or bobtized is to be initiated into the lesser mysteries, in the sense that one becomes aware of the general contours of the cosmo-drama as it hurtles toward its divine fulfillment.

But initiation into the greater mysteries occurs when one receives one's personal mission, one's role in the drama. Once this occurs, then ultimate meaning is conferred upon every moment of one's life, because every thought and every action bear upon eternity.

There is a reason why only the godless believe that Obama is on a mission from God. True, he is on a mission, but it is another kind of nuanced mission. It is as if he has been sent "from below" to spread the plague. His mission and our mission are mutually exclusive.

Again, every highly nuanced mission is a participation in the whole mission of Christ. What did the whole mission of Christ involve? Let's see: incarnation, baptism (rebirth in spirit), temptation, intrinsic authority, healing, persecution, condemnation, death, resurrection.

In Vedanta, there is the concept of the vibhuti, which is something between a man and an avatar, the latter being an incarnation of God. The vibhuti is here with a divine mission, but it needn't be a strictly religious one. It can be political, aesthetic, scientific, anything that advances the Cause.

Often we may detect a vibhuti by their own strong sense of divine mission, combined with an ability to surpass themselves in mysterious ways; when they align themselves with their mission, they partake of powers that are not their own.

Thus, they may appear powerful, but in reality must humbly submit to their mission. Their courage is in their submission. One thinks of Abraham Lincoln, or Winston Churchill, or Saint Paul, or the founding fathers, by no means "perfect men," but protagonists of "perfect missions," so to speak. The sense of "ultimate mission" allowed each of these men to risk their lives in their diverse actions.

Here is how Aurobindo described the vibhuti in a letter to a disciple: "A Vibhuti is supposed to embody some power of the Divine and is enabled by it to act with great force in the world, but that is all that is necessary to make him a Vibhuti: the power may be very great, but the consciousness is not that of an inborn or indwelling Divinity.... "

He adds that "the Vibhuti need not even know that he is a power of the Divine. Some Vibhutis, like Julius Caesar for instance, have been atheists. Buddha himself did not believe in a personal God, only in some impersonal and indescribable Permanent."

I'm not necessarily suggesting that Aurobindo is correct, I'm just "throwing it out there." Of course, for the Christian, there has been only one avatar, but that needn't imply that there hasn't been an abundance of lesser vibhutis. Indeed, I would suggest that the theo-drama is incomprehensible in the absence of the vibhuti principle, i.e., those vital supporting roles such as Abraham, Moses, David, John the Baptist, et al. These were hardly bit players in the theo-drama.

You can't have a drama with only one character. Furthermore, "a destiny that is purely private cannot aspire to ultimate interest" (HvB). Can politics be of ultimate interest? No, not unless it involves participation in the greater cosmo-drama. Thus, Plato was wrong. We don't need "philosopher kings," much less a community organizer.

Let's just say we need a vibhuti call right about now, before liberals call checkmate.


cond0010 said...

I'd like to say something but I'm afraid it wouldn't suffice. I guess all that I can say at the moment (quoting 'Neo') is:


...and thank you. This is good.

will said...

>>Let's just say we need a vibhuti call right about now<<

Re: the highest manifestation of vibhutis, I think they're there, eg., the pope, the dalai lama. These guys are spiritually the real deal and they're in the public sphere. It's just that their status in the public sphere has been lowered to that of the mere iconic. I fear the public generally regards them as genial frontmen, entertainers, almost. The genuine spiritual power that they embody is, I think, lost on most.

Past ages have recognized the vibhutis - they're been called forth when needed. These days, however, the psychic climate of the public sphere is so toxic, I have my doubts as to whether a vibhuti would be recognized for what he or she is.

Good news-wise, I tend to think that, even as the archetype of the old public sphere is dying, a "new public sphere" of sorts is slowly rising to the fore. Everyone in this new public sphere is a vibhuti, it's an army of vibhutis. Everyone in this army embodies some serious spiritual power. They may be scattered far and wide geographically/physically, but that doesn't matter - the new public sphere as constituted by its vibhuti citizens transcends space, and to a great degree, time. Unconsciously or not, the vibhuti citizens are massing in the ether, communicating with each other in ways that defy the modern concept of "communication" (and, I think, with ever-increasing awareness)

In time the two spheres will become completely invisible to one another. The new public sphere, I take it, will bear little resemblance to the old one, in fact, it's probably beyond description. Maybe something like Walt Whitman's poetically Edenic rendition of the ideal Democracy, only with recognition of spiritual hierarchy and no bath houses.

In the meantime, it would be great to see Sarah Palin suck it up and go for it.

will said...

>>every highly nuanced mission is a participation in the whole mission of Christ<<

Spiritual missions of nations, as well, I think; and as contradictory as it sounds, the whole mission of Christ is, I think, embodied in the nation of Israel.

At this hour, check who is putting the screws to the mission of Israel - which of course is the mission of Israel to suffer and eventually transcend.

Cond0011 said...

I think Will is on to something, Bob: Palin would be a perfect 'Vibhuti Call'. ;)

Many years ago, there was a series of books that were written by a writer I choose not to name at the moment. Though the books were a fantasy concocted up by the writer, it had a kind of depth and power that I found awe-inspiring (even to this day). it had an almost life of its own. I have continued to go back to the series to read a chapter or paragraph because it was so good.

That was his first series and he became famous because of it. When I read stories that he wrote after this series, I was disappointed: I could see through the plots and the mechanics of each chapter. It was as if the life that resided between the sentences and letters had been withdrawn. It had become artificial. Boring.

In that first series, the author surpassed who he was and a writer. He did something that was greater than his capacity to create without... inspiration. The later works were what the author was reeally capable of doing. That was his gifts alone - and it was ordinary.

Thanks Will for loosening my tongue. This post is archive material.

julie said...

Will, indeed.

julie said...

Speaking of drama and games, this (via Scipio) is quite an exercise in word games. I don't know what I think about all that, but it's interesting...

Van Harvey said...

"Let's just say we need a vibhuti call right about now, before liberals call checkmate."



Interesting wv:drolvers
I hope he's a good dr.

Anonymous said...

Lovely to see that you are enjoying a Swedish movie Bob!


Gagdad Bob said...

They just had a Bergman film festival on TCM, so I recorded about five classics. Next up Wild Strawberries.

Anonymous said...

Bob wrote:

"We too live in a plague devastated land, except that the plague is internal, not external."

I live in the San Jose area, and I cannot fully verify the above by observation or interviews.

The city is generally clean, well-ordered, with a mixture of homes, businesses, schools, and churches. The streets are patrolled by ample security forces. Externally, all seems in order.

People I meet are generally responsible, loving individuals. Most everyone seems to be living a good life, enjoying family, attending church, and so forth.

I've also been to the county jail and observed the more angst ridden sector of the populace, but it is a small segment and consistent with historical norms.

From what I can tell, San Jose is a fairly representative sample of californian culture.

Now, I understand the "internal plague" you're talking about, but observe it mostly in juveniles and especially among those in higher education, but I think the majority shake it off.

I ask you, Bob, if you are not indulging in hyperbole in order to dramatize your points and pump them up with a faux urgency.

I don't need to tell you that Vibhuti's such as yourself need to be responsible in your publications. Give it some thought, is all I ask.

Van Harvey said...

Gagdad Bob said "They just had a Bergman film festival on TCM, so I recorded about five classics. Next up Wild Strawberries."

'fraid the Michael Curtiz one they did yesterday was more my speed... and that only because it meant an Errol Flynn double feature ->'Captain BLood!', 'Robin Hood!'


Did you notice the nuances of the frenchie capitan... and Sir Guy of Gisbourne, both run through and both of whom were played by Basil Rathbone... eh? Coincidence? I think not!


julie said...

Speaking of Basil Rathbone, Van, have you seen the trailer for the new Sherlock Holmes movie due out around Christmas?

It's appalling, at least if you've ever read and enjoyed Sherlock Holmes.

(There's your proof right there, nonny)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Anon said-
"We too live in a plague devastated land, except that the plague is internal, not external."

I live in the San Jose area, and I cannot fully verify the above by observation or interviews.

You do know who the President is, right? Are you aware of what he has been and still is doing?

You do realize California has a huge debt with, undoubtably, either much more taxes on the way or bankruptcy?
Do you have any idea what the public schools teach, I mean indoctrinate children into?

And look, since the war began not one single movie about the brave and remarkable actions of our heroes in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Not a single one!
There are, however, 13 plus flicks of enemy propaganda that makes the terrorists proud.

I could go on, but really, if you can't see the plague or the damage it has done to folks then you ain't lookin' deep enough, and you'll continue to call it hyperbole so you don't have to look deeper.

Van Harvey said...

Julie said "It's appalling, at least if you've ever read and enjoyed Sherlock Holmes."

I did see the preview, and my wife and kids were praying that I didn't froth at the mouth, scream and hurl our popcorn at the screen.

They lucked out.

Anonymous said...

I am the anon with the more positive outlook.

I will dispute with raccoons who cite budget deficits, political activities by the president, and school curriculum as a devastating plague.

The above mentioned are not actual problems; they are potential ones only. They have not played out as actually deleterious yet.

I now observe a peaceful, prosperous, mostly contented populace, moreover many of high moral and spiritual caliber, and suggest, like any commander on a battle line, "wait for it, wait for it." The enemy is not quite at the gates, and may in fact be planning to call off the attack.

Food and power outages, unpunished crimes, lack of security, closures of schools, genocidal activity, etc. These are actual, not potential, manifestations of a devastating plague.

It his important not to fear monger, is all I am saying. We aren't doing so bad, and looking back have not done so bad, so gloomin 'and doomin' has to be questioned. It's only reasonable.

Anonymous said...

The raccoon-vibhuti soldier, a category which includes Julie, Van, Will, Bob, and all others sympathetic to Bob who comment here, must start centered, with the belief that all is good here, but could be made better.

Do not start with the supposition that all is bad and must be corrected.

Start from good, and work to better. That is the way.

Anonymous said...

"Let's just say we need a vibhuti call right about now, before liberals call checkmate."

Conservatives respond/embrace vibhuti calls......
Democrats are all over the booty-call!Especially when it's on our dime.

QP said...


Interpreting signs and indications in the financial markets is not my game, but I've come to heed the insights of Ken Denninger at The Market Ticket. A vibhuti?

At 5:00 PM he posted an alert.
-> The risk of a "sudden stop" event is at "about 60%. Not certain - yet - but too high." If you haven't made preparations, he advises to do so now.

julie said...

There is a reason why only the godless believe that Obama is on a mission from God. True, he is on a mission, but it is another kind of nuanced mission. It is as if he has been sent "from below" to spread the plague. His mission and our mission are mutually exclusive.

When people in the media start calling the president god, that strikes me as a time to be paying very careful attention.

julie said...

...the Vibhuti need not even know that he is a power of the Divine.

Another secular vibhuti?

Van Harvey said...

aninnymouse said "I am the anon with the more positive outlook. I will dispute with raccoons who cite budget deficits, political activities by the president, and school curriculum as a devastating plague."

Please allow me to greet your happy face with unapologetic and bluntness and scorn, starting off with a correction: you are not "the anon with the more positive outlook", you are the anumb with the smiley face painted on the lid of your cesspool cover.

Your attempt to staple your smile up with the pretense that budget defecates, anti-conceptual (to say nothing of anti-American (explicitly or by omission) school curriculums, and all the rest, are merely isolated freak occurrences, having no further significance or source in the philosophical and intellectual roots of not only the elites, but the people as well... both those who actively sought them, and those who passively shrugged and said 'what can I do' - is nothing by evasion and denial of the disease spreading through you.

The budget, the schools, the crime, the substance abuse, the PC mindset, they all originate from and developed out of the minds of Californians - and by their symptoms demonstrate those minds obvious traces of the boils, pustules and fevered stare of psychic plague.

As a native Californian, it pains me to say so. It pains me far worse to say that few in the remaining 49 states are far behind your condition.

Pretending 'all is well', does nothing to make things better or more tolerable, for anyone. The fact that many, if not most people, still go around pretending as you do, that things are not only not bad, but can continue on indefinitely without causing deeper and deeper harm, is proof of the stink under your lid.


Van Harvey said...

(Ok, I'll stop trying to type with my mouth full... sorry for the grammar & typo crumbs)

Honest to goodness wv:bibical

julie said...

Today's sign of the apocalypse ;)

Rick said...

Anon says:
"You are getting veeeery sleeeeepy..."

Anna said...

I can guarantee you that the aborted babies do not think everything (or anything) is less than doomsday and I can guarantee you that they do not want anyone to try to "see the positive" and keep going on merry way. You have to look at the symptoms and wake up and say 'hey, that's not normal... could there be something VERY wrong going on?' Could there be a catastrophe certain sectors are facing that might signify something deleterious in the health of things as a whole? ...That would later show up in the loss of the place we call home?

This is just the tip of the ice burg of my response to Anon but due to time and a lack of verbal acuity at the moment, this is all I will write now.

wv: unwoffol

Rick said...

What if they threw a catastrophe and nobody reported it.

maineman said...

Like maybe the genocide of fifty million children, Rick?

Rick said...

I include it in my reporting.

robinstarfish said...

I also watched The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries the other night, causing wifey to run screaming from the room. That in itself was worth everything. ;-)

Van Harvey said...

You know, if you want to see a really good match up of what was had, and what has been lost, how far we have actually sunk, whether or not people still go through the motions of everyday life, there are two movies you ought to compare, the original "Day the earth stood still", and the recent remake ... on every point of reference, you can see the disease and decay the plague of soul disease has wrought.

The 50's vs, the child is the son of the Mother, and his father, her husband, was killed in WWII, his death is painful to the child, but understood and honored by him. The child is neat, well mannered, respectful to all adults.

The 00's vs, the child is not the woman's son, his father's death is full of 'why!!!' resentment and lack of understanding and anger. The child is an unkempt, ill mannered snot, rude to all.

The 50's vs, when an elderly woman discovers the visitor and child having entered the Prof's office, she strides in and confronts them without fear, confident not only of their being in the wrong, but that they will withdraw before her and at her word. Don't make me laugh with a comparison to today.

The 50's version, the alien visitor delivers a very neo-con'ish speech to earth 'We have a system of laws, strictly enforced, it is not a perfect system, but allows us to pursue more profitable ventures than conflict. If you want to fight amongst yourselves, fine, we don't care, but if you show any sign of extending your aggression beyond your borders... you will be obliterated. Your choice'.

The 00's vs, is a glop of global warming and western denunciations, where whales & lesser animals are really the ones who the earth belongs to, and Man has infested it and must be eliminated for the critters benefit.

But beyond that, just look at the settings, the neighborhoods, the characters, how they stand, speak, present themselves... how they respond to others, what they do and fear to do & why, how they live together. It doesn't matter if these characterizations are realistic representations of how life commonly was or is, they were and are the expected norms, characterizations that would not be thought outside the norm by those living in those periods.

That alone was enough to make the soul disease painfully visible and undeniable.

Reality said...

Hey, don't blame me, I do my part.
Anon simply cannot see me no matter what I do.

Skully said...

"I am the anon with the more positive outlook. I will dispute with raccoons who cite budget deficits, political activities by the president, and school curriculum as a devastating plague."

Listen up, cheerio-boy, 'cause I'm only gonna say this once:
Life can't possibly be good when yer liberties are bein' eroded.

Do you even know what liberty is, or why life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (property rights) are important?

Hell, by the time you see something amiss we'll be redder than the old USSR. Or maybe you want that, I dunno. You sure don't aeem to value yer liberty very much.

Quit eatin' milktoast all the time and grow a pair.
We ain't "fearmongerin'" here, we are observin' and reportin' reality.

Reality is what happens, even when you deny it. BTW, tell me somethin'...

If yer rose colored glasses (and whatever mental illness you have, or drugs you might be takin') are so good why do you bother comin' here? Do you honestly believe you are gonna convince anyone here that everything is hunky dory and not to bother to fight for their liberties?

I mean sh*t man! We all know how to live in a fantasy world already. We done it before. But it means nothin'. Only reality means somethin', and we gotta live in it to express our meanin'. 'Tain't easy, but nothin' worthwhile is.

'Sides, we ain't just doin' this theo-drama thingy fer ourselves, we're doin' it fer the one's we love, like those snot-nosed brats, and our wenches.

Hey I'm all fer hittin' the grog on occasion. Jest don't let the grog hit you. At first, bein' aware of reality can hurt like the dickens, and you'll wanna go back to yer make-believe dingy.
But hang in there and at least pretend to be a man (unless you are a wench which would make it vice versa).

Keep that up and before you can say "heave ho!" you'll realize you have become a bonafide man (unless you are a wench, in which case you'll be a bonnyfied man).

If you listen to Skully you won't end up bein' chummy with the sharks, if'n you catch my drift.

Mike O'Malley said...

Calling all Coons! Please stop by the CornerStone Forum blog and visit Gil Bailie's latest post. Gil is going in for surgery today (6/9/09). Send up prayer for Gil and leave a message of encouragement.


Van Harvey said...

BTW, if anyone has somehow missed out on their minimum daily dose of depression, here's a nice doasage booster. When even the Dem's are shocked at the mismanagement of what used to be our money... you know it's bad.

Enjoy taking all day to get absolutely nothing done.

Sal said...

Excellent, Bob.

Vibhutis (or saints) don't have to be recognized by the masses to do their work- that's why we have November 1. Some of them, like the ones Bob mentioned have a vocation to 'notoriety', but the good kind.

Though I agree with Will- I find I'm running into more and more right-thinking (for want of a better term) people than before.
Sort of as if we/they are coming out of the woodwork.

Ves stopped the DVR, so he could watch the basketball game, so he has to Netflix me "The Seventh Seal". Kind of a waste of time- at the moment, I'll just be looking at what they're wearing...

Anonymous said...

Voice-telegram question to all who want all babies to be happy and healthy

"How many starving children did you feed today?"