Monday, April 29, 2013

Crazy Love & Calculating Death

The Deity is the truly active source from which something happens to man.... The price is surrender of his autonomy; he must throw himself open to the god, rather than lock the doors of his soul by choosing sensual pleasures alone....

[L]ove reaches its apogee and attains its own potentialities only... when it itself is recollection of something that exceeds any possibility of gratification in the finite realm.... In letting go of himself, man does not surrender to the purely "irrational." He surrenders to the healing darkness of his own divine origin. --Josef Pieper

The next thing I'd like to discuss about the Death card is Tomberg's account of what we symbolize (↑) and (↓). Both arrows are necessary for spiritual development, and various forms of heresy emphasize one to the exclusion of the other -- which is like emphasizing inspiration over expiration. It just won't work. In fact, it will eventually kill you.

Pieper: one would "be barring the healing of the soul from the fatalities which afflict it; for only those who can abandon rational self-control and autarchy, and who know how to 'lose their wits,' are able to experience such healing and purification."

Emphasis on (↑) alone leads to the construction of a "Tower of Babel," or purely manmode ladder to God. Emphasis on (↓) alone leads to the fatalism of, say, the Islamic world or of progressive historicism, or to any form of radical predestination that removes human will -- or freedom -- from the equation.

Not to resort immediately to Godwin's Law, but I'm reading this superb biography of Hitler, and it is all over the purely (↑) nature of his "project."

Indeed, Mein Kampf, of course, means My Struggle; it is the exertion of raw will because, in the end, will is all there is. Biological existence itself is a battle of wills, with only one winner. No compromise is possible. Either one is the hammer or one is the anvil:

"Politics are the conduct and course of historical struggle for the life of peoples.... It is an iron principle.... The aim of these struggles is the assertion of existence.... The weaker one falls so that the strong one gains life." This amounts to death -- or an infrahuman existence -- over real human life.

Tomberg makes the interesting point that the way of Christianity promises not just Life over Death, but Life over life -- a merely horizontal life. More generally, one might say that the point of Christianity is the victory of the vertical over the horizontal, not a temporary pseudo-victory of horizontal over horizontal. Rather, it is ultimately the victory "of radiation over crystallization."

Which reminds me of the narrator's last line of the film Sunset Boulevard: Life, which can be strangely merciful, had taken pity on Norma Desmond. The dream she had clung to so desperately had enfolded her... ["Enfoldment" here is synonymous with crystallization, because both exclude inspiration and involve states of spiritual asphyxiation.]

Now that I think about it, the film is all about crystallization, or about death in life. For that is what Norma is: a breathing corpse, a living death, a monster. She no longer radiates as a living star, but is a dying star from which no light escapes.

The film is even narrated by a dead man, who shares Death's sardonic insights with the audience:

"There's nothing tragic about being fifty. Not unless you're trying to be twenty-five." "You don't yell at a sleepwalker -- he may fall and break his neck... she was still sleepwalking along the giddy heights of a lost career." "How could she breathe in that house full of Norma Desmonds? Around every corner, Norma Desmonds... more Norma Desmonds... and still more Norma Desmonds."

Trying to stop the aging process doesn't really make one younger. Rather, it turns one into a slightly more flexible corpse:

The dead primate at the beginning of SB -- like the one depicted above -- is highly symbolic, for that is what a human being is in the absence of the Divine, just a fleabit peanut Monkey Man. Of the chimp's final rusting place, Norma says, "I'd like the coffin to be white, and I want it specially lined with satin. White... or pink. Maybe red! Bright flaming red! Let's make it gay!"

Even the name: Sunset Boulevard. Not only does it convey the dying of the light, but in case you don't live here, Sunset Boulevard starts in the filthy bowelries of downtown Los Angeles, makes its way through offaluent Beverly Hills, and then comes to a noxious end in the contaminated waters off Santa Monica beach.

So, let us follow Tomberg's advice, and "no longer seek amongst the dead for he who is living, and above all let us not seek for immortal Life in the domain of death."

The spiritual ascent is everywhere the same, and always consists of purification, illumination, and union; or rejection, aspiration, and surrender. "This is the eternal way, and no one can invent or find another."

Yes, as Tomberg says, one can divide & subdivide it "into thirty-three stages -- or even into ninety-nine," but it always comes back to that same dynamic and interlocking trinity that takes place on a moment-by-moment basis, for purification is both illumination -- or consciousness of a Divine reality -- and union with the Divine Will.

Likewise, illumination is purification of the intellect and union with the Divine Mind. And union is a purified heart, which is now the center of one's thought and being.

Or, to turn it around, "a non-illuminated gnostic would not be a gnostic, but rather an 'oddball'; a non-illuminated mage would be only a sorceror; and a non-illuminated philosopher would be either a complete skeptic or an amateur at 'intellectual play.'"

And a non-illuminated and impure gnostic-tyrant of the left brings the gifts of hell to earth.

Human nature is so placed within its plane of existence that it remains essentially open to the sphere of the divine. Man is so constituted that, on the one hand, he can be thrown out of the autonomous independence of his thinking by inspiration, which comes to him as a sudden, unpredictable force from from outside.

On the other hand, this very abandonment of critical sovereignty may bring him an abundance of insight, of light, of truth, of illumination as to the nature of reality which would otherwise remain completely out of his reach. For we are dealing not with self-governing human genius, but with something bestowed by another, a higher, a divine power. --Josef Pieper, Enthusiasm & Divine Madness


julie said...

Funny, enthusiasm seems to be my word of the day. I was thinking of it in the wee hours, after reading about David (literally, I suspect) enthusiastically dancing his way through town when he brought the Ark home. His ex didn't approve.

Which also ties in with one of Schuon's letters, where he essentially disapproves of male dancing. Though apparently it's cool if women want to dance, especially Andalusian style. Don't know why, but I find that amusing.

Rick said...

"I'm reading this superb biography of Hitler"

Bob, can you provide a linky please?

Rick said...

"Schuon's letters, where he essentially disapproves of male dancing."

Will this letter fit in my wallet?

Gagdad Bob said...

Hitler. Also, in response the Julie's question, the new Schuon book is almost all previously published material. Which is not a knock, since to have read the material only once is to not have read it. In any event, I haven't yet started it. Too many other things ahead in line.

Christina M said...

I wrote this two Sundays ago: April 21, 2013: This is not bragging and this is not ....whatever. This is just a private revelation. In 2000, when I was living in a very nice house on the economy in Marktbreit am Main, in Germany, I saw for the first time in my life, a shepherd moving a flock of sheep through the valley that we were living in. I was fortunate enough to be living in a house up on top of the hill of one side of the valley, looking down onto the east side of Marktbreit, the train station, and the river that ran through the valley. On the hill on the other side, I watched the shepherd moving his flock with a dog along the hill and throughout the countryside. This was in October as I recall, because the trees were bare. All of a sudden, in a waking vision I saw God on that hillside on the other side, and I was transported to that other side, so that I was standing there, and it was Spring instead of October. And God the Shepherd was dancing and singing and He was young and beautiful, and He was invading all of his creation, don't ask me how, but He was. And I fell in love with God. Head over heels. Head over heels. And the thought of it, even now, makes me want to cry for the beauty of it. This God and this world that He had made are just so beautiful, if only we could see it.
BTW I have always loved how passionate David was for God.

julie said...


Thanks, Christina.

Rick said...

Thankya Bob.

mushroom said...

I have an explanation for Schuon's animosity, he must have seen me dancing.

Gagdad Bob said...

Schuon is a big believer in the "unmoved mover." It follows that he would intrinsically opposed to the jiggling jiggler.

mushroom said...

"Life over life" -- that finally soaked in.

Thank you for sharing that vision, Christina.

River Cocytus said...

There is also a traditional dislike of dancing, mostly because of its association with, shall we say, 'exotic dancing.'

I would find male belly dancing quite offensive, or at the very least, hilarious.

One reason I can't ever become a real 'Traditionalist' (capital-t): too stodgy.

John Lien said...

Christina. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing that.

Bob sez:

"..since to have read the material only once is to not have read it."

I can believe it. I'm thinking I could stop with the 6 or so books I've read that you have recommended and just loop through them and that may be sufficient for this monkey.

mushroom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mushroom said...

Male belly-dancing just sounds wrong.

If I could type, I could get a real job.

River Cocytus said...

There was some irony when I was at a Presbyterian church that had a contemporary Christian rock band... Rock music is dance music, but dancing was strictly forbidden. I was called out by an older person for tapping my foot.

I'm pretty sure the band was dancing... can't play that music without some motion.

swiftone said...

Thanks for sharing the vision, Christina. Tomberg was whispering to me about vision this last week. Toward the end of the meditation on the hanged man. Sunday morning I was visited by a visionlette, as I was journaling. It was quite surprising, and satisfying. My reaction was to "close the door." Scared? perhaps, though I was warmed and pleased. I'll hope if/when there is another crack in the door, I can be calm, and let it be. I think I sort of assumed I was experiencing wishful thinking gone over the top. And as always, thanks to our host, here. I cannot imagine stepping outside singing, "I the Lord of sea and sky.." a hymn sung at ordinations in our church, without some of the leading and pulling that has happened here.

Van Harvey said...

"Trying to stop the aging process doesn't really make one younger. Rather, it turns one into a slightly more flexible corpse"

Oh you ain't kidding. I went back home to Vegas the weekend before last, to attend an event where my old band and a few others from the '80's were being inducted into the local Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Some of those who still had people living there & able to play, were practicing again together for the first time in decades & performing on stage at a big weekend long party at a club & a local hotel.

There weren't a whole lot of people I wanted to see again, but there were a few, so off I went.

On the one hand it was a blast and like the high school reunion I never bothered attending, but wondered if it could ever be. Some people were still working as musicians or crew, others moved on with life, and most of them looked like they'd actually thrived. The best performance (of those I could bear to stick around and watch) was a band led by a lady, now a mom of three living a normal life, who hadn't sung in twenty five years, yet tore the stage up like no time had passed at all. They were fantastic & worth the trip.

On the other hand, for the rest, it was a horrifying experience of navigating through a mass of drunken zombies, and bands that sounded uncannily good, but were even more alarming to behold than they were thirty years ago. 50+yrs old, still dressed, styled, mannered as if still playing in the 80's, but updated to 'modern times' with tattoos, piercings & and some sort of embalming fluid that didn't mix well with living flesh.

I do hope that what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Would that Jagger would visit.

River Cocytus said...

Jagger just needs to grow out his beard and wear a robe, he'll be fine.

or... better anyway. *shudder*

julie said...

Yeah, once you've reached Jagger's state of embalming I think there's only so much that can be done.

Christina - your story brought to mind the lyrics to Lord of the Dance:

I danced in the morning when the world was young
I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun
I came down from heaven and I danced on the earth
At Bethlehem I had my birth

Dance, dance, wherever you may be
I am the lord of the dance, said he
And I lead you all, wherever you may be
And I lead you all in the dance, said he...

ge said...

here here, Ron Paul:

“bomber was discovered by a private citizen, who then placed a call to the police,” he said. “And he was identified not by government surveillance cameras, but by private citizens who willingly shared their photographs with the police.”

Read more:

River Cocytus said...

The strength of America has always been its Citizens, by which we mean those not on the dole.

Good news, everybody! They're extending the dole.

Magister said...

Christina M

And by came an angel who had a bright key,
And he opened the coffins and set them all free;
Then down a green plain leaping, laughing, they run,
And wash in a river, and shine in the sun.

Then naked and white, all their bags left behind,
They rise upon clouds and sport in the wind;
And the angel told Tom, if he'd be a good boy,
He'd have God for his father, and never want joy.

A vision is like a song of songs.

Gagdad Bob said...

Born too early. If I were in high school today, I could just declare myself female and gain access to the girls locker room.

julie said...

Criminy. You wouldn't even have to be gay, you could just earnestly claim to be a lesbian trapped in a man's body. So long as you claim to be female, your "preference" is secondary.

Magister said...

Sounds like a plan!

Only, unnecessary bigger problems ensue, for inevitable reasons.

David J Quackenbush said...

As the poet said:

It’s a long road, it’s a long and narrow way.

If I can’t work up to you, you’ll surely have to work down to me someday.