Friday, August 21, 2009

The Interior Logic of Ultimate Reality

Good news for in-home neuronauts and extreme seekers. There's a new translation of Schuon's religious cult classic, Logic and Transcendence. I read the old one, and frankly wasn't aware of a problem with the trancelight, which I found to be quite bright. However, I must admit, this one has less of a German accent. Also, the earlier edition was difficult to track down, and used copies were rather expensive on amazon.

Amazing that such an important book is #774,487 on amazon. It reminds me of something one of those old-school conservatives said about literacy. Even (or perhaps especially) so-called intellectuals simply substitute science for real thought, which places the fallen intellect in servitude to Ø, not O.

Albert Nock felt that government-run education had had the effect "of degrading intellectual standards and impoverishing the quality of literature": "Within my lifetime the country became largely literate, thus opening up an immense market made up of persons who were unable to read but were able to pass literary produce through their minds." For most people, reading is hardly better than watching TV. They say apes can't read. Wanna bet? Ever visited dailykos? Ever looked at a sewer through a glass bottom boat?

It also has the effect of increasing the interior reach of state propaganda. As we know, no one is more brainwashed than the tenured. Indeed, they're "the first to go," the canaries out of their ghoulminds. I am quite certain that Scipio would be unemployable in a public school. Indeed, they'd probably try to arrest him. Which wouldn't be a good move. He's not only dangerous, he's armed.

Irving Babbitt agreed that where there is no vision, the people perish, "but where there is sham vision, they perish even faster." And science, unconstrained by perennial truth, is the quintessence of a sham vision, for it is simply the animal senses extended and magnified. Let's not even talk about Obama's scam vision. I'd like to get away from politics.

Logic and Transcendence is one of Schuon's more important books, if only because it's an actual book. Most of the rest of his books are simply collections of essays on a diversity of topics. What I'd like to do is go through it chapter by chapter -- one chapter per post -- and see how that works out.

Schuon writes in such a compact manner, that it would be impossible to proceed faster than that, even with a short chapter. His writing falls somewhere between theology, gem-cutting, and sutras, the latter of which literally refers to a "thread" that holds beads, "and more metaphorically refers to an aphorism (or line, rule, formula), or a collection of such aphorisms in the form of a manual" (wiki).

As such, a sutra always requires commentary by a gentleman slacker or pneumatic gasbag of the spiritual sort. Indeed, for the esoterist, the Bible is actually a quintessential compendium of sutras, which has always been the rabbinical approach. You might call the Torah the "Mosaic Sutras." Sutras are one of the ways the secret protects itself.

In a brief introduction, Schuon addresses the problem of the degradation of the intellect, which causes many so-called intellectuals to regard religion as an intellect-free zone. As a result, esoterism is conflated with occultism, or Gnosticism, or a vague mysticism, when it is in fact an exact science -- the science of the Real, or Absolute, as it were.

We can still reason about the Absolute, but it requires a different approach than reasoning about the relative. In the end, genuine mysticism is any "inward contact with realities that are directly or indirectly divine," while real gnosis (as opposed to the heresy of Gnosticism) pertains to knowledge associated with one of those realities (in other words, one may make emotional contact, aesthetic contact, intellectual contact, etc.).

Many if not most exoteric religionists also have problems with esoterism, and they are right to be suspicious of wolves in sheep's clothing such as Deepak Chopra. However, this can obscure the fact that exclusive fidelity to exoteric notions can lead "to errors much more problematic than gnosis." In my view, so-called religious fundamentalism is as abusive of the intellect as scientific fundamentalism. A religion that does not speak to the intellect is no religion at all, for the intellect is what sets us apart from the beasts.

The first chapter is called The Contradiction of Relativism. It is an intellectual palate cleanser of the first order. If you read, understand, and assimilate this chapter, it should function like a spiritual antibiotic, killing all your cognitive parasites and teaching you how to think in O. But of course, you must take the full dose, or the infection can return even stronger and more resistant. And the full dose generally requires about 78 years for the average male, closer to 80 for the average female.

Really, you could read just the first sentence and go home: "Relativism reduces every element of absoluteness to relativity while making a completely illogical exception in favor of this reduction itself."

Thanks very much for coming out, folks, and drive home safely! It's been fun blogging for you these past four years!

What? Encore? You're too kind! What's that, Dupree? No they're not! They're saying B'aaaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwB.

In my opinion, relativism is the fundamental mind parasite. (And you will have noticed that many on the left are quite open about declaring the opposite: that absolutism is the greatest threat to mankind.) For to be a relativist is to absolutely say that there is no absolute truth, precisely. "One might just as well say that there is no language or write that there is no writing."

There is no writing!

Thus, the "initial absurdity" of relativism "lies in the implicit claim to be unique in escaping, as if by enchantment, from a relativity that is declared to be the only possibility." This is why scientism is magic. Metaphysical Darwinism is magic. Secular leftism is magic. The opposite of Christianity is not science; it is magic.

Now, in order for truth to exist -- or to be known -- there must be objectivity. In a way, truth and objectivity are synonymous. In the postmodern world, subjectivity is absurdly conflated with consciousness, which leads to... absurdity on stilts.

For as truth and objectivity are reflections of one another, so too are relativism and subjectivity. If it is true that one cannot escape from one's subjectivity, then Yes, this is just a fragile and roundabout way of saying that truth is impossible. They're just giving you the long-distance reacharound. But five percent of nothing is still nothing.

But as Schuon points out, the fact that we are even able to conceive of subjectivity means that we are capable of transcending it. Subjectivity "would not even be conceivable for a man who was totally enclosed in his subjectivity." An animal, or a goddinpotty, dwell in pure subjectivity, but don't know it, for to know it is to be objective, precisely.

Or, let us say that it is the first crack in the cosmic egg into which we may plunge the wedge of intellect and begin the process of natural s'lacktion. It is in this manner that we are initiated into the world of the fertile egghead. Or, if you prefer, this is how one enters one's christallus coCoon and caterpults one's buddhafly into the upper atmasphere.

Conversely, to venture into the other side of the cosmic divide is to plunge oneself into error. Through it, "the door may be opened to all manner of misunderstandings, degradations, and deceptions." To which one might add seductions, unhip gnosis, and egoic immortality projects.

Oh my. We're out of time. This is going more slowly than I had anticipated. Is this a timed test?


Daryl Zero said...

I always say that the essence of my work relies fundamentally on two basic principles: objectivity and observation, or "the two obs" as I call them.

Van Harvey said...

As Irving Babbitt said, "where there is no vision, we are told, the people perish; but where there is sham vision, they perish even faster."

Another one of my heroes, Irving Babbitt. Along those lines, from Irving Babbitt, the Moral Imagination, and Progressive Education on Humanitas:

"Now more than ever, Americans argue the purpose and value of education and debate the central issues of educational content and methodology, as Babbitt did one hundred years ago.
Babbitt’s voice should continue to be heard in the public debate because his central concern was with that timeless question raised by the Greeks and most explicitly put forth by Christ: For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? (Matt. 16:26). The purpose of education, Babbitt emphatically answered the reformers, was not to train to acquire wealth and power, but rather, in the time-honored tradition of humanistic studies, to teach to assimilate the wisdom of the ages, an assimilation that could be fostered primarily through the right use of the imagination."

The potties of the world who want only to do the 'particulars dance', distract you with particulars about money and access to goodies 'no one should be denied', while ignoring the principles behind them, are illiterate in the most fundamental sense. They look and see what they desire, and care not for whether it is right to desire it, or right to demand others to provide it... Irving Babbitt saw way back in 1908, from the illiterate writing on the wall, what would follow from it, and tried to warn us.

if you're one of those few who still has some cash, track down and buy a copy of Literature and the American College (free pdf available at link). Or if you are lucky enough to have a PocketPC... or even unfortunate enough to be stuck with an iPhone, download a copy... Well worth your time.

Rick said...

I can tell it's Friday there. I'm only 4 paras in... Wish I had more time to fully enjoy this..

Van Harvey said...

"In my opinion, relativism is the fundamental mind parasite."

Sure, it's the denial of One, the denial of certainty (and prohibits anyone from criticizing you for not upholding a,any, all standards), and the open door to justifying anything you want... basically empowers you to recreate the world in your own image... what more could you ask for in a mind parasite?

Rick said...

I made time.

Petey said...

In a word.

Beach Head said...

I agree with Ricky.

Gagdad Bob said...

Great photos! Say, how do you upload them, anyway? I'm a little computer illiterate.... I tried sticking some in the disc thing on the side of my computer, but it just got clogged up and I had to call the plumber.

Cousin Dupree said...

That reminds me. Don't try putting grass clippings down Bob's garbage disposal. It's very "finicky."

Beach Head said...

Well, they're not actually photos.
They're pictures of photos.

Gagdad Bob said...

No system of politics and economics is more hostile to racism than classical liberalism combined with free-market capitalism… and none provides a more fertile breeding ground for tension between races, sexes, religions, and other groups than big-government socialism.

Van Harvey said...

Gagdad quoted "No system of politics and economics is more hostile to racism than classical liberalism combined with free-market capitalism..."

A good post, and reading it you just want to reply well of Course a system based upon the choices of individuals is going to better serve all individuals, than a system based upon distant bureaucrats decrees. That of Course a system that is blind to the race, creed, color, ethnicity, class, sex, etc of everyone is going to be less abusive to everybody's rights, than one which mandates preferences towards one group over another. And of Course a system that mandates behaviors and opportunities towards some groups is going to not only breed tensions between all of the groups, but also weaken the understanding of rights that would otherwise have stated that all people must be treated the same before the law.

Of Course legislated preferences towards some, only raises tensions and diminishes the rights of everyone!

I was listening to an interview with Justice Scalia when your link came through, and he was making an interesting point about our Bill of Rights. Not a direct quote, but it was something along the lines of

'What are these rights included for? They aren't the most important rights to people... a parents right to raise their child isn't in there, nor are many other very important rights, what's behind this seeming grab bag of rights being included in the constitution? They weren't so much included for their importance to people, but because they were the rights a tyrant would need to step on in order to establish a tyranny - that's why they are included, that is why they are important. '

And that is why we must guard against govt infringing upon our rights... because the path to tyranny lies through our enumerated rights, it lies through making one group of citizens enjoy a different level of rights before the law, it lies through denying people the ability to make their own free choices.

What possible purpose is there to saying that some particular peoples rights must receive special attention? From a tyrants point of view, it means that some peoples rights can be made to receive special attention from him... and even more pleasing to his ear is that other peoples rights can be diminished, even negated in order to serve some convenient grievance or pretext.

ALL peoples rights are damaged and devalued, when any Right no longer applies in the same way, to ALL of the people. That anybody could somehow not recognize that singling out one group for special status, pro or con, is going to heighten and entrench the power of the state at the expense of not only another group of people, but of all of the people... is stunning to me.

As our potty mouth proves with its every comment, the level of understanding, for many in this country, of what a political Right is, and why it is important to not be infringed upon, has sunk to little better than the level of a whining 'but it's not fairrr that X happens!' which means that all actual Rights will be seen as roadblocks to utopian sugar candy mountain fairness, not safeguards of liberty.

Such a dangerous time we live in.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"There is no writing!"

I knew it!

Anonymous said...

Good post Bob. I think one main point is the importance of stepping back from the self and taking a look from one remove.

This operation is not easy to do but no spiritual growth is possible without it. I'm sure all raccoons do it in one form or another.

Richard Moss's "The Mandala of Being" lays out the case for stepping back one remove. If you observe your self from the viewpoint of the awareness behind your thoughts, you can break free from relativism.

I've been trying to do this and it is not really working out so well. I am heavily identified with my thoughts and have difficulty pulling my awareness free of them, and the emotional sequelae as well.

Bob has the entity Petey who I've tried to identify. Petey could be a guide (an actual separate being) or he could be Bob's signifiesr of stepping back one remove.

Or, Petey could be Bob's psychic being or soul which is in the world but not of it.

Bob is curiously reticent about talking about Petey, yet of all the elements of
Bob's blog Petey is the single most significant factor, for the implication is this:

If Petey or equivalent is on board, you get a leg up on mind-parasites, and the submergence into subjectivity so many of us have, simply because you have a point of view outside of your own thoughts. This is of incalcuable value.

Myself, having no spirit guide and not being in direct contact with my psychic being, struggles to find the door out of my own thoughts and into the free air above.

From the vantage point of Petey, our so called problems must look laughable or like mirages for the most part. I would like to have this vantage point but don't know how to get it.

So I'll ask you, Bob, point blank, how did you acquire Petey?

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"In my opinion, relativism is the fundamental mind parasite."

Well, relativism and mind parasites both happen to be closed systems (or loops) so that makes sense.
It also explains why relativists are so damn loopy. All loose lines and no points.
Because you can't make an absolute point if everything is relative and there is no truth.

Nor can they make any point about good or evil. Good n' evil can't exist in a relativistic loopyverse.

It's kinda funny to hear them argue how the absolute doesn't exist. It's virtually impossible be much more of an imbecile than a relativistic reprobate.

I have a sneaky hunch that most of those idiot anarchists (and leftists) you see at (mostly leftist) protests are very likely to be relativists.

I heard Bill (the domestic terrorist whom Obama doesn't seem to recall ever associating with) Ayers say he is half communist and half anarchist.

Only a relativist would say something that stupid, since it's obvious to anyone with a few working brain cells that you can't be both at the same time.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

BTW, Ximeze has moved to Alaska and will be online by Monday, if the telephone guy don't get eaten by a grizzly. :^)

Skully said...

Anon said-"If Petey or equivalent is on board, you get a leg up on mind-parasites, and the submergence into subjectivity so many of us have, simply because you have a point of view outside of your own thoughts. This is of incalcuable value."

Trust me, you don't wanna get a leg up on mind parasites. You might pull a ham string.

Skully said...

"There is no writing!"

There is no grog and I didn't drink it.